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Old July 9 2011, 09:34 PM   #102
Location: Honolulu Hawaii
June Challenge 2011 - "Liberty"

Title: A woman named Liberty
Word Count: 2,039

Dear Brother,

Congratulations on being promoted and receiving the USS Io. Your brother hears that commanding a ship is the best experience out there. It is an experience that your brother will never have.

The greatest difficulty now that faces Starfleet is how to deal with our hard earned peace. As you know the Romulan Star Empire has broken apart. The Klingon Empire is at peace but you can never tell what is going on with them. Thankfully Ambassador Worf and General Martok have that sewn up. The question remains on who will be the new enemy – the winner of the Romulan Civil War or ourselves.

Yes the problem is us. It is the same problem your brother had when the irritating mustang officer of a Bolian took over Operations and then the entire ship.

Your brother should be blunt about it – he has not been on any Federation ship for the past seven months. In fact he is listed as Missing in Action. He is a deserter.

Let your brother rewind a bit.

About a year ago Chief Pun found himself lost in this tenement. He had about a year before retirement and the Dominion War still went on. Old Man Quinn still ruled the USS Thomas Paine – the last ship that your brother had pride in serving.

So Chief Pun is walking down this road when this attractive woman comes. She slides in and Chief Pun says that he’s not interested. Then she says that she is willing to pay him a good amount of federation credits for his company and at that time Chief Pun displayed an odd sense of curiosity.

Chief Pun ran the swing shift in Operations, specifically the bridge. Your brother held the navigation console on the bridge in that lovely eight hours. It is at the time when everyone is asleep and the lure of the night embraces one’s mind. One can almost imagine that they cannot be touched. It is a brotherhood of night watchers and early morning guards.

Chief Pun lets the woman buy his time. She had red hair and white skin. She has the most curious eyes. The woman does not give a name and the two pretend that they have a good time in that alien town.

Chief Pun later is formally asked by this woman for a place on the Thomas Paine. She is willing to pay money and she is attempting to get away from some unknown people.

Chief Pun always had a soft spot for ladies and then he finds out that she is an Orion shape shifter. To be exact, she had Chameloid and Orion heritage. She proved that in front of Chief Pun in a shadowy bar.

At that time Chief Pun had a decision to make. Chief Pun decided to take that offer. He would later cite the reason as to spite the mustang officer that held the post of adjunct Operations Officer under Old Man Quinn, formally known to most as Captain Olsen Quinn.

At that time, Lt. Zim Brocht served as the adjunct Operations Officer. He is Bolian. He started out as the watch officer and has gone to higher ranks. He always reminds everyone that his kind went by the wrong advice to be cooks and jolly men. He is bald, obviously, and always praises Captain Kirk every second sentence or so. At some point Zim Brocht discovered the grandeur of General Custer... someone that in his eyes is worthy of adoration like Captain Kirk, and formally changed his name to John C. Custer. It's either that or some person called him General Custer behind his back and he thought Custer lived as bold as Kirk. It doesn't matter.

He is an awful person.

There is nothing good about John C. Custer/Zim Brocht. He should have run into an accident a long time ago. However, your brother is getting ahead of himself in this tale. Your brother will get back to the main tale. Due to your inability to process names other than Earth related, your brother will refer to him as John C. Custer for the rest of this missive.

Chief Pun wrote the woman into shift crew as Crewmember Jane Dun. Chief Pun had a sense of command and loyalty only matched by Old Man Quinn. Your brother would have followed him to the darkest patch of space if he marched there. Needless to say, your brother got the short end of the stick in hosting this odd crewmember.

The first thing that Crewmember Jane Dun said when she came into your brother’s room did not smack of decency. She saw your picture. She stated the obvious and then looked around. “You are a bit of a hermit aren’t you” she added. She dumped her bag on the nearby cot and stuck out her hand. “The name is now Jane” she announced. She has this smile of a thousand suns. “What’s yours?”

Your brother said his name. “That’s nice” she replied. “Maybe I’ll just call you Henry Hermit” she pronounced. She has this movement when she turns her head to denote curiosity. She puts her hands on her hips and assumes a command posture. At that time she had brown hair that fell in ringlets and a kinder face than the initial one that Chief Pun had seen. “Yes – I’ll go with that.”

Your brother said something to contradict her. He said his real name. She looked at him. “I think you look more like Henry Hermit to me.”

That began a wonderful friendship. Of course, dear brother, your brother would have to cite the earlier letters he sent to you in that time. There are the other two roommates that didn’t last and your brother had a … bad addiction. You offered consoling but the best trip came in the War.

The biggest problem on the USS Thomas Paine came in the irritating Lt. John C. Custer. He never any experience in the war and used the swing shift as his cover to avoid it. The war went on and the biggest problem came in the list of the dead. Chief Tower – the one who ran the morning shift – got plucked for an away team. He got shot by a spoon head.

Commander Door of Security got captured by a Jem’Hadar. Ensign Paul the pilot got annihilated in a space battle we had with the Breen. That tore up the bridge for a while. You surely remember those letters that your brother sent you about those battles.

There is nothing good to say about John C. Custer as he climbed over the backs of good men. Old Man Quinn had a health problem and being in the war never helped him. The Commodore of our battle group replaced him with one Captain Calhoun Brink, who didn’t like war. However, the war made desperation a common place thing.

Captain Calhoun Brink served for the year before the peace. He took a liking to Lt. John C. Custer and promoted him to Commander of Operations. That came with more pips and the late nights/early mornings never held freedom again.

The man interfered with everything. You remember those letters. You remember how the middle ranking crewmembers got elbowed out. You remember how Chief Pun got pushed on the USS Sutherland. Everything became orientated on a proper ship akin to the Enterprise D, which did not exist at that time. Commander John C. Custer had these orientations that … your brother will not describe at all.

The very best thing in that year came in the form of Jane Dun. She had this lovely laugh that made every man turn their eyes and heads. She still has that. She made ‘Henry Hermit’ currency everywhere on the ship.

She made optimism run everywhere as well. At one point she asked for help with this man on the morning shift that had gone too far. We ate midnight rations together and she asked me – “Henry could you just pretend that you are going out with me? Don (the man she didn’t like) needs to be taught a lesson.”

Your brother said something to the effect that such a thing would be dishonorable. She had this snort and broke out in laughter. “Really Henry Hermit – we’ve got a mustang officer that sings the praises on Captain Kirk and you’re worried about being dishonorable?”

Your brother followed up on that proposal and she made life better. The act ended but we have always been friends. She makes every day filled with joy. Those six months she served go beyond pleasure and … essentially what you have with your wife but with a firm line.

The problem came in John C. Custer. We would always take over the bridge crew at 1500 as backups to the actual bridge crew. Then 1800 hours we would be the actual bridge crew and then it would run up to 2300 hours where the early morning shift would take over.

He would be there and every time she would take over the pilot console he spotted her. He sneered at her and said – “How many people did you bribe this time Orion?” She would take that in and then ask “No one Lt. Custer, sir. Why would I bribe time from Orion? That is just a constellation.”

John C. Custer then would attempt to twist that out. Alas at that time Lt. Green of Security would be there. He never did get to that quip. Later Lt. Green became Commander Green.

Then John C. Custer had ferreted her other heritage… and that is not a good story to tell.

Over time it became unbearable and she went on the early morning shift. Your brother followed suit. He does not have feelings for her as you so rudely remarked on that last letter. She is the promise of the night and the wonders of the early morning in the flesh. She laughs. Oh – how she laughs.

The greatest ache came in about four months after Captain Brink took over. She saw the writing on the wall, especially when Chief Pun disappeared. Commander John C. Custer made Operations his pet whipping boy and so many veterans vanished when the peace got formally signed.

During a stop at Deep Space 7 she made some excuse that she needed to visit a friend. She came up to your brother at the last day of the shore leave and she apologized. She looked at your brother and said – “I’m sorry Henry Hermit but I got a better job.” She shrugged.

Then she held your brother’s hands. She held them as lovers do. She always has these warm hands that feel like lace. Jane always respected that line. Jane said that she had shape-shifter blood in her. Your brother said – “I don’t care Jane. Don’t tell me your real name. You are my day and don’t leave Jane.”

She smiled and then she changed into someone that had Jane’s eyes. She had those eyes and the finest shape that your brother will not describe. Then she became someone else with the same eyes, as if to show your brother her true face. She spoke with the same voice. “Thank you Henry Hermit. You’ve been good to me and I shall never forget it.”

Then … something distracted your brother. Lt. John C. Custer called for a canceling of shore leave due to his orientation. Some Klingon got into a brawl and your brother got involved because of one of the new crewmembers. He saved him and the cruelest sight came in that empty table. She disappeared in the crowd.

You know by the letters that your brother sent that your brother became Chief by default. It felt empty. It felt distasteful coming from Commander John C. Custer. Even the uniform felt false.

So … that is the reason why your brother left. Your brother kept a running communication with her for a year. That year will not be described except that it became misery personified. Obviously she’s affiliated with the Syndicate but there’s always that line. She will be always your brother’s Jane and he will always be Henry Hermit for her.

On that glorious day the Thomas Paine stopped at Deep Space 9. Commander Custer had some meeting that day. Your brother packed his goods and said that he had every intention of visiting you. Your brother lied and knew he lied.

She waited for him at the promenade in the face of some Bajoran woman. But the eyes reminded your brother of Jane. “Henry” she said. They embraced as former crewmembers and best friends. The crowd went on and swallowed them whole. They disappeared.

Your brother is happy.

Henry Hermit.
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