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Old March 28 2013, 12:28 AM   #6
First Faster Than Light
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Re: Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead #6: "A Great Perhaps"

Act Five

Caryn Johnson ran a quick hand through her blonde hair as she pondered her reflection in the mirror within the small office adjacent to Ten-Forward. She kept her medium-length hair in a tight bun, and her makeup light and natural-looking for the occasion. She opted for a white dress made of a threadbare cloth that wrapped around her body with a flare at the bottom. Her bare arms had a single white band on both sides, and she wore the necklace she put on for special events such as this.

She moved out of the office and into the lounge area where many of the ship's crew were beginning to gather for the memorial service. Outside the large viewports displaying the space outside the bow of the ship were the warp-stretched stars as Farragut traveled beyond the speed of light for Starbase 310. Gone were the tables and chairs; in their place were rows of seats made of thinner material for temporary use. Some of those chairs were already occupied as her staff circulated within the crowds of people to offer drinks and snacks as the captain ordered earlier in the day.

The double doors leading to port opened and admitted the ship's counselor, Isira Otex. She arrived with the ship's chief science officer, Abbie Atherton. Caryn had met them when she arrived on the ship not more than three days prior. They were together then, and it looked as though they had formed a fast friendship since. Both officers wore their dress uniforms, with the dual gold pips on the edge of the far right collar, just above the peacock blue color they wore on the body of the uniform.

"Lieutenants, welcome to Ten-Forward," Caryn said, wearing her customary warm smile. "May I offer you something to drink before seating yourselves?"

Isira smiled in response. "Thank you, Caryn. I'm fine, nothing for me." Abbie said nothing, but simply shook her head to the offer.

Caryn placed her hands atop the bar. "If you should change your minds, please don't hesitate to see me or one of my people back here."

"Thank you, again, Caryn," Isira said, as Abbie moved off to scan the room. "You look very nice, by the way."

"Nice of you to notice, Lieutenant." The hostess gave Isira a quick once-over. "That dress uniform does wonders for your legs," she said, indicating the tights over the counselor's calves.

Isira shook her head and chuckled silently before moving off to join Abbie who staring out one of the viewports. After a moment, she noted quietly, "If you ever want to talk about it, to someone as a friend and not a counselor, you can always come to me."

Abbie gave her a half-smile and a nod, but Isira knew that the lieutenant had no intention of taking her up on the offer.

"How's Greg doing?" Isira next questioned, after gazing about the room's occupants and noticing that the helmsman was not among them. "I'm surprised he is not already here."

Abbie let out a breath. "He was pretty groggy when he woke up, I'm told. He wasn't cleared for duty by sickbay but he should be here."

Commander Kincaid entered the lounge from the starboard side, along with the captain. Both officers were greeted as they moved along to the small platform with the clear podium. The ship's seal laid upon a small navy blue pennant that draped down from the edge.

The ship's bell was near the podium, and Kincaid walked toward it to ring it six times, in pairs. "Attention to orders," he called out. Once the crew all turned toward him and stood at the prescribed parade stance, the exec continued, "At ease. Please take your seats."

Captain Leone then took the podium, accompanied by a PADD. She set the device down to keep it within sight, and then began to speak to the crew, "Thank you all for coming..."

As the captain spoke, Abbie reached for the back of a chair she intended to use. She paused to look about the lounge. She frowned when she realized that Greg was still absent, then looked meaningfully at Isira. With a start of surprise, the Betazed turned towards her and confirmed Greg's absence on her own before slowly nodding back. As people continued to move toward their seats, Abbie slipped out of the lounge.

=/\= =/\= =/\= =/\= =/\=

By the time Abbie reached Greg's quarters, he already had emptied half a bottle of Aldebaran whiskey. The clear glass used in this endeavor remained atop his dining table, tinged with green, and the smell of it permeated the small compartment. To his credit, however, Greg appeared only tipsy rather than fall down drunk.

"What can I do for you?" he asked with a wide smile on his face when he answered the chime at the door. Greg looked at her from head to foot and noted, "You look good in that."

"There's a memorial for your friend going on right now in Ten Forward and you should be there," Abbie answered, wrinkling her nose at the smell. "Or should have been. You.." She shook her head, her anger plain. "You'd dishonor him if you went like that."

Greg stepped aside. "If we're going to have a discussion of this nature, maybe you should come in." He added, "Because I'm not leaving here to go anywhere unless it's back on duty."

"Right," Abbie replied derisively as she strode into the room. "You were still dehydrated when you woke up and I'm sure your beverage of choice isn't helping matters. Even if you would be permitted to be on duty while drunk." She gazed over the dishevelment of his quarters and frowned. "What have you been doing?" she all but demanded.

He walked toward the table and poured himself another glass of the green beverage as a demonstration, then took a long quaff to drain it half-way before returning it to the tabletop. "I'm just exercising my liver."

"What you should be doing is honoring your friend. You're the one who was closest to him. You should be at the memorial service right now. I know you don't really care about your reputation but this out of character, even for you."

Greg remained silent briefly. He placed his hands on his hips, then let out a belch. He muttered an apology, though it was unclear for what he was apologizing. "I don't want to go to any memorial service, thank you." He pointed at her dress uniform and said, "You look like you're ready to go, so why don't you head down there and give up on him like everyone else has on this ship?" The amiability of his tone disappeared on the last sentence he spoke, and his eyes glared at her.

"Memorials aren't for the dead, they're for the living. If anyone on this ship needs a way to begin to get over Tommy's loss, it's you," Abbie retorted. "People are there now, remembering the man and you're losing yourself in a bottle of booze."

"He's not dead!" Greg raised his voice as he spoke. His right hand lifted to point out of the viewport. "He's out there, somewhere. Waiting for us to find him!" In exasperation, he dropped his hands to his sides fast enough to cause them to slap against him. "I don't understand why we're not doing whatever we can to do that, but I'm not the one in charge, so it's not up to me.

"If the captain and everyone else on board want to write him off so they can get on with their lives and turn Tommy into a sob story they can remember later, then let them." Greg pointed to the bottle, "That's Tommy's favorite drink." He pointed to the display, which held a frozen image upon it, "That's Tommy's favorite movie. And on a night like tonight, he liked nothing more than to come to my quarters, have a few drinks, watch a good movie and laugh his ass off, shoot the shit, and then go home. So, you, the captain, and all the crew down there in Ten-Forward can go through all the formalities you like in trying to remember him... with your bells, and your false words of whatever..." Greg stopped as his voice broke and his hand moved up to hide his face from her. His cheeks glowed red, whether from embarrassment, emotion, or drink.

Abbie looked at him impassively. "You really think he's still alive out there." It was not a question.

He could only nod at first. Greg sniffed loudly and grabbed a hand towel from the table to wipe at his face. "Yeah," he said hoarsely. "I do."

"You can't go down to the memorial like that," Abbie acknowledged, shaking her head in defeat. "I once read a quotation about how death was really just a 'great perhaps', or something like that. I guess, you know, right now, that's all we really have, objectively speaking."

Greg peered at her for just a moment. He then reached for a third glass and poured a finger of the whiskey within to pass it to Abbie. "You're doing it wrong. You're supposed to drink first and then get philosophical."

"Well, I don't drink much," Abbie responded, eyeing the contents of the glass he handed her doubtfully.

"If you don't want it, then hold on to it and be social." As he said it, Greg smiled to himself. "I never thought I would say that to anyone. Something my uncle told me when I told him I didn't drink."

"I've heard that before," Abbie muttered. She motioned to the image frozen on the screen and asked, "What was his favorite movie?"

Greg looked up and then back at Abbie. "It's called Caddyshack. It's almost four hundred years old, but it holds up." He ran a finger along the rim of his glass and hesitantly asked, "Would you like to stay... maybe watch it with me?"

She shrugged a shoulder in acquiescence. "If only to make sure you don't pass out in your chair," she added, the worry in her tone clear.

He cleared his throat and approached his replicator. "One glass of ice water," Greg ordered. When the glass materialized, he brought it to his lips and took a quick sip. "I'll take it easy on the booze," he promised.

Abbie nodded her approval as she settled into a seat, the glass of whiskey still in her hand. "All right, let's watch this thing."

Greg took the seat next to her. He placed his water glass and took up the whiskey once more. "To the 'great perhaps?'" he offered as a toast.

Abbie inclined her head in response, lifting up her own glass. "To the great perhaps," she intoned, clinking her glass with his.

Michael D. Garcia
Head Writer, Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead (United Trek)

Visit my writing blog or my fanfic profile at Ad Astra.
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