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ENS Eileen McCleran - When the unknown gets impatient


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( Jeffries Tube Alpha 35 - USS Ursa Major - 7 years prior to current events )


oO Ah, c'mon! This is the third time this week. Oo

:: Sparks flew around Eileen's knees as she scooted backwards rapidly to avoid an arcing connection. They'd been working on Ursa Major's sensor suite for too long now, in her estimation. It'd become almost expected for there to be new glitches and cross-connections with the varied work teams trying their best to speed the upgrade under the circumstances they were in. Smoke began to issue forth from the hub she'd been working on and with little thought she pushed herself back further, unsure of what was causing the new addition to the current problem. She then thought better of remaining in the access crawlspace and turned to open the Jeffries tube hatch. ::

McCleran: Dammit! :: light coughs punctuated her sputtering diatribe :: Freaking stupid...:: more coughing :: ...broken-down...:: coughing ::...sparking circuit stupidity... :: light coughs with a deep inhale of clearer air ::

::Swatting away the remnants of the smoke that trailed from the crawlway, she slid down the wall to land on her rear, head leaned back to rest on the bulkhead behind her. This was going to take forever. Every connection she'd made in the last week had shorted and she couldn't figure out the reason why. The best she could surmise was that the power grid simply wasn't designed for this many taps from the same system, but the CEO wasn't having it. It needed to get done, and it was going to be done. She closed her eyes and like she had the first time she suggested it, she closed her eyes and nodded.::

oO Thy will be done...Oo :: It was probably her frustration that was driving her at this point. She new better than to assume she knew better than her superiors who'd served aboard the ship far longer than she'd been a green Ensign. It didn't make it easier to take, however. ::

Little boy: Are you okay?

::The voice of a little boy brought her head back down to see a boy standing in the corridor, looking at her like she'd crawled out of the Jefferies tube with a second head. He looked to be all of 8, maybe 10 if he was a slow grower, with an olive complection and chubby cheeks. What would have been a thick mop of unruly black hair if it were allowed to grow out crested his head with big amber eyes below, taking in the scene before him. A chewy fruit snack she didn't recognize was held close to his chest, as if unsure if the strange lady from the smokey cave would try to steal it from him.::

McCleran: :Said chuckling: Well....I eh...I'm fine. oO Wait...what the hell is a kid doing on deck 19?Oo Say...what's got an explorer like you down here?

Little boy: ::The boy shifted his weight, as if he was suddenly thinking that he might be in trouble:: Um...Dad said to wait here.

::Standing, while brushing herself off and giving her hair a shake to get it back into a semblance of order, she closed the hatch for the accessway and turned back to the boy, kneeling before him to put herself more on his level.::

McCleran: Your Dad works down here?

Little boy: Mhmm. ::he said through a mouthfull of the colorful confection. It was a pull taffy of some sort, like one she remembered from back home but way more colorful. It was like someone made candy out of melted crayons.::

McCleran: ::Waited a beat, and realizing that she'd gotten an answer to that question chastized herself internally. What else was a kid going to say to such a dry question? :: So, what's he do down here?

Little boy: Umm...he's a trac'or beam teknishun.

McCleran: ::Eileen almost squealed as she smiled.:: oO Oh my god, he's so adorable you could just sop him up with a biscuit! Yay for kids talking with their mouths full! Oo Well, let's go see if we can't find him. Hmm?

Little boy: ::The boy shook his head.:: Nuh-uh. He said.

McCleran: Oh, well, honey...see my uniform? ::She waited a beat for him to nod, which he did, thankfully:: I work all over the ship. And I'm sure that he'd like to know you're okay and what all you saw since he posted you here...huh?

::The boy seemed to think it over, and then responded with a smiling...::

Emil: Mhmm. :: Before he took another bite of his treat.::

McCleran: My name's Eileen. What's yours?

Little boy: Whatchur rank?

McCleran: I'm an Ensign. oO

:: They weren't that far from the tractor beam generation section, round the next corner and forward on this deck, so she stood and nodded in the direction of the corner, to be rewarded by a happy smile and the sound of the little boy following her against the constant *thrum* of the ship's engines one finds on a starship. They began to walk the short distance to the next four-way. ::

McCleran: Soo...I bet your Dad is really good at his job.

Little boy: Mom says he's the best teknishun on the ship. He won't say that, tho.

McCleran: Oh, I bet your Mom's right. Dad's don't like to brag. Mine never did, either.

Little boy: Does your Dad work here too?

McCleran: ::stifling a gag at the idea of working with her Father:: Uh, n..no. He's retired. He does things back at Earth to keep himself busy.

:: Arriving at the four-way, Eileen stepped around the corner and began to walk down the corridor. ::

Little boy: Does he still love you?

::The question caught Eileen completely off balance and stopped her dead as a rock. It was surreal enough that it didn't even trigger her usual eyebrow affectation. Squinting slightly, she turned around, and saw that the little boy had stopped in the middle of the four-way a meter or so back, still holding his fruit treat to his chest.::

McCleran: I'm....I'm sorry...what did you say?

Little boy: ::Kicking the carpet a little, he sighed and looked at the floor.:: I asked if your Dad still loves you.

McCleran: W...well of course he does, hon. Why would you ask that?

Little boy: ::Looking up from the carpet to meet her gaze:: B'cause you lie.

:: Now her eyebrow shot up nearly to bump into her hairline. ::

McCleran: What? Son, why would you say that? ::Her emotions began to churn between confusion and feeling hurt that a child would blindly say such a thing.::

Little boy: 'Cause you do. You lie and hurt people.

McCleran: ::Taking a step towards the obscene little boy.:: No, son, I don't. I'm an officer in Starfleet and we take that sort of thing...

Little boy: NO YOU DON'T! You lie and you let people get hurt and you lie about doing it and you don't get to call me son. You're not my Mother!

:: Looking around, down each corridor at the four-way, Eileen saw nobody else in sight, regardless of how unnerved she was by the odd little boy before her. ::

McCleran: Now see here...

:: The little boy dropped his treat and began to skip in an arch that circled around her like a petulant child disobeying a babysitter they hated. A sing-song quality came to his voice and he sang as he skipped::

Little boy: Iiiii know a sec-ret and Iiiii don't have to telllll youuuu. I know a sec-ret and I don't have to tell youuuu! I know a sec-ret and I don't have to tell youuuu! I know a sec-ret and I don't have to tell youuuuu! I know a sec-ret and I don't have to tell youuuuu!

McCleran: Now stop that! Your daddy's not gonna... :: As if she were operating a camera on a boom, her personal point-of-view suddenly jerked away to rest now in a turning, spinning circle that followed the little boy in his skipping pattern around another her standing at it's middle.::

Little boy: You're gonna get in trou-ble! You're gonna get in trou-ble! You're gonna get in trou-ble! You're gonna get in trou-ble! You're gonna get in trou-ble! You're gonna get in trou-ble!

McCleran: Wha.....::beginning to feel instantly dizzy, she spun once in concert with the little boy before collapsing to her knees, her arms holding her weight as she shook her head and closed her eyes tight against what felt like chaos threatening to overwhelm her eyes.:: What is this?

Little boy: You don't know? You don't know! You don't know! You don't know! You don't know!

:: The cadence of the boy's teasing chant seemed to follow the now banging of his steps upon the carpet as he pranced around her unceasingly. She could feel her pulse begin to race, keeping time with the one-boy parade that surrounded her like a never-ending truant from her childhood.::

McCleran: No, what is this? What is this? I don't under...understand! What is happen...::a wave of nausea washed over her and she caught herself just in time to keep from losing her lunch all over the floor. Fighting it back down, she opened her eyes and saw something completely unbelievable in the silence that had then befallen her. ::

:: Surrounding her was a totally different place. The carpet on the floor was gone, replaced by what looked like a form of acoustical dampening and insulating material, white and with a high-gloss sheen. The walls surrounding her were made of similar material but also had what appeared to be thick pipes bracketed to them, running the length of what seemed to be a meters wide chamber with a wide door almost the width of the chamber on either end. It was then that she noticed that the boy was gone. The air around her, cool and silent as that in a tomb.::

McCleran: Son? Where are...what is this place? I don't under...GAH!

::Her hands flew to the sides of her head as an earsplitting, utterly piercing warble shot through her head like a lighting bolt. It felt like her head was going to explode, then switched to feeling like infinite pressure was threatening to crush it out of existence. Back and forth, like a psychotic saw bouncing between each sensation, until her compromised and unready mind loosed a shriek from her lungs as if a banshee wailing for the death of family. Her scream felt like it outlasted her breath, and she spun around with hands gripped tightly into fists of hair and tension near her temples.::

::Then, there was no more sound, outside the steady *thrum* of the engines on board the Ursa Major, it's carpet back beneath her knees and nobody else in sight down the four corridors that met where she sat akimbo. Slowly, she released her fists and in looking she saw that her nails had drawn tiny amounts of blood in her palms. Terrified, she struggled to stand, her eyes wide and hands stretched out to her sides as if to catch her if stumbled. She turned, once....to face one passage of the four-way....then another....and another. Turning back one she wavered on her feet a moment before finding her feet again slowly. She was shaking, as if she'd been dunked in ice water and left before an air conditioner. As if the heat was being drained from her.::

McCleran: Where am I? ::no answer:: Who are you? ::again no answer, tears began streaming from her reddened eyes:: Why are you doing this to me?!?

:: A voice from behind her, male and soothing said...:: Because...

::She spun to face the opposite direction. There, some 15 feet away from her, stood a man in Starfleet uniform, short-clipped chestnut hair and lightly tanned skin of average height for the human she took him for, his eyes cast down. Raising his head, she could tell he was crying. ::

The Man: ...because you deserve it.

:: From behind the man, she heard a large, hollow bellow of a distant explosion. The corridor, seeming now to stretch on into infinity started to become brighter in the distance, an orange tinge reflecting off of the distant bulkheads of the impossibly long hallway. As Eileen's eyes widened, she knew what was coming down the corridor. Fire...roiling and bubbling as if in zero-gee filled the far end of the corridor like an avalanche of Hell itself. The man before her turned, and began to walk towards the conflagration approaching with mounting speed. She screamed out, trying to warn the man back and away, but he continued for a few more steps before starting into a run. Sprinting at the destruction, he gave a strong leap and flew into the center of the flames, as if it were water in a pool.:

::Eileen's instincts took over and she threw herself in the opposite direction. It was in mid-turn that she was stopped short by a form before her, one that dragged a scream from the fleeing engineer.::

:: There, before the woman, stood a small form, smoking and charred, carbonized and seeping in the worst imaginable state one could find a child. From it's cracked and broken lips, an impossibly loud voice issued forth. Eileen felt the heat of the firestorm at her back and it's roar filled her ears. The sensation of her skin beginning to dry out, her uniform melting, the scent of her hair burning all overtaking what were assuredly her last few moments before the pressure wave hit her. Then, silence, a heartbeat before...::

Little boy: You should have died, too.


( Deep Space 5 - Temporary Quarters )


::Screaming at the top of her lungs, the pain of doing so shocked Eileen McCleran awake into a sitting position. Her hair was soaked. The room veiled in shadow that sufficed to swallow the Ensign as she sat, wide eyed, shaking and gulping air in great breaths. She pushed herself backwards along the bed till she met the wall and jerked the covers up to meet her, covering herself, not yet feeling the strain she'd just put on her left shoulder and arm. She brought her knees to her chest, hugging them to her tightly as her own walls caved and she bawled. It was that inconsolable, deeply heaving sobbing that one most often finds at a funeral. Her eyes clamped shut, not caring about anything accept that right then, she had to cry. To wail. To mourn...something that she didn't understand in the slightest. ::

--
ENS Eileen McCleran
Engineering Officer
USS Apollo

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