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Old March 10 2013, 11:11 PM   #16
CeJay
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

– IV –


Star entered sickbay and after a quick survey she found the person she was looking for in his office. She stepped up to the doorframe and leaned casually against it while considering the ebony-skinned doctor sitting behind his desk. It took him a few moments to realize that he was being watched.

“Commander,” he said as he aimed a furtive glance at the Trill woman before returning to his work. “How can I help you?”

“Has it really been that long?”

Katanga looked up again, a clearly puzzled look on his face now.

She simply returned it with a smile. “I understand that the package has changed a bit.”

“The … package?” the doctor said with confusion evident in his tone.

“Well, yes, I’d say this one is at least 20 kilos lighter, with fairer skin and, oh yeah, the curves.”

“Commander, I am not quite sure what you are trying to …” he stopped himself as she began to walk into the room with her emerald colored eyes sparkling like diamonds. “My God, I know that look,” he said as he stood.

“I’m glad you recognize something, even though you’d think the name would have been a dead giveaway.”

“Dezwin?” he said, a huge grin now forming on his dark, bearded face as he began to round his desk.

She shook her head. “Not any more. I go by Tazla these days.”

“Dear Lord, I didn’t even know,” he said and quickly hugged the first officer. When he let her go again, he took another good look at the Trill, studying the attractive woman in front of him from head-to-toe. “You changed,” he said with a dry grin.

“You can say that.”

“You know it never occurred to me. Not even once, that you could be Dezwin. Or should I say, have been Dezwin. I suppose I always thought of you … of him, as Dezwin Sigus and not Star. It never registered with me that you have the same name.”

She nodded. “It can get a little confusing.”

The doctor sat against the edge of his desk as he continued to consider the woman in front of him who had just been revealed as a dear friend of his a long time ago. “My God, Dezwin Sigus, now Tazla Star. What a crazy galaxy we live in, huh? I see you’ve decided to pursue a different career path.”

“The joining affects us all in different ways.”

He nodded. “I recall. Dezwin couldn’t wait to leave Starfleet after it happened to him, frustrated by the sluggish manner in which the upper echelons responded to medical emergencies throughout the galaxy. Even after he helped me set up MAAP,” Katanga said, referring to the Medical Assistance and Advisory Program which Dezwin and Katanga had created within Starfleet Medical as an interstellar agency to assist with medical crisis throughout the galaxy.

“Same thing happened to me,” Tazla said. “I felt my drive and determination double almost overnight after I had joined with the Star symbiont. Suddenly I just couldn’t become a captain fast enough.”

Katanga’s features darkened noticeably. Like many others in the fleet, he too had heard about the exploits of Captain Star and her subsequent downfall. But until now he had never made the connection. “Things didn’t quite go the way you had hoped.”

She shook her head sadly. “No, they certainly didn’t.”

Katanga stood and put a hand on her shoulder, adopting an almost grandfatherly smile. “I don’t know what happened to you that led to the things that happened. I don’t know the details or the circumstances but I know Dezwin. Hell, I probably knew him better than he knew himself. I have to believe that whatever you did, your intentions were pure. You tried to do the right thing but sometimes, no matter how hard we try, in the end it just doesn’t work out that way.”

She looked pained. “I’m not entirely sure I deserve your absolution.”

“I do and that’s all that matters, you understand,” he said, his tone taking on a sharper edge. “Yes, I’m sure you’ve made mistakes and if you could go back you’d probably do things differently now. But that’s not a luxury we have. From what I’ve heard you were duly punished for your transgressions. Now is the time to put this behind you and focus on how you can be a better person from now on in. I know Dezwin knew how to do that, so do you.”

Tazla looked almost grateful at the unconditional trust her old friend was willing to place. It had been the first time since Michael Owens had decided to take a gamble on her and allow her to stay onboard as his first officer that anyone had shown this kind of faith in her. It was refreshing. “Thank you. This really means a lot to me, Eli.”

“Nonsense,” he said quickly. “You don’t need me to tell you any of this,” he said and tapped her stomach. “All you need to know is right there. If you are in doubt, just go talk to Dezwin, he’ll tell you.”

She smirked. “Doesn’t quite work like that,” she said. Even though it was probably close enough. Those memories after all were still part of her. And the symbiont had his ways to communicate when it wanted to. “But I’m really glad you came here. I think I could really use a friend. It’s not been easy.”

“I’ve noticed this crew is a little wound up.”

“I suppose the war is part of that. They’ve lost some of their own and gone through some really tough missions. And they don’t trust me.”

“I didn’t get that impression,” said the doctor. “The captain seemed to be quite comfortable with having you around.”

She quickly shook her head. “Let me tell you, appearance are deceiving. Yes, he made the decision to keep me around and I’ll always be thankful for getting this second chance, but he’s not comfortable with me at all. He’s been keeping me on the tightest of leashes ever since I came aboard. He practically looks over my shoulder twenty-four seven and to be honest, I’m scared stiff of letting him down.”

The doctor looked at her for a moment. “None of that sounds like a particularly healthy relationship.”

Star sighed and then turned to take a few steps towards the wall before turning back to her old friend. “There might be something that could change all that.”

Katanga looked suspicious. “I remember that tone of voice,” he said. “It’s just like Dezwin used to sound when he came up with one of his rather foolhardy ideas of his.”

“I think there is a spy on the ship.”

He sighed heavily. “Oh God, I knew this wasn’t going to be pretty.”

“Hear me out on this. I don’t have any proof yet. Nothing concrete that I could show the captain. It really just boils down to a couple of suspicious transmissions and a gut feeling.”

“I don’t like where this is going.”

She stepped closer. “Let’s assume for the moment that I’m right. I’ll let the captain in on this now and he’ll probably dismiss it for lack of evidence. But if I’m right, and if I can find out who it is and expose him or her, the captain will have no choice but to start trusting me with my duties. And before long the crew will fall in line.”

“Dez, this is a terrible idea.”

“I need to do something. Right now I’m nothing more than an afterthought on this ship. And at first that was enough for me. Better than to run away from Starfleet and drown myself in Saurian brandy in some faraway sector of space. I need to be more than that. I owe it to Owens to be the best first officer to him and his crew that I can be.”

“And you think keeping secrets from him will achieve this?”

She sighed. “A gut feeling and two unidentified subspace transmissions which could very well turn out to be nothing more than background noise aren’t exactly a secret,” she shot back.

“I still think that this is a bad idea and if you came here to try and let me talk you out of this, let it be known that I’ve tried.”

Tazla shot him a wide grin. “Always looking out for me, huh? I really missed you.”

“Well,” he said as he sat back behind his desk. “I’ll make sure to remind you of this when they throw you back into that stockade.”

She could tell immediately that he wasn’t being serious. “I can make this work, Eli.”

He nodded slowly. “Just be smart about this, alright?”

“Don’t worry about me.”

“Somebody has to.”

She gave him another smile before she headed towards the doors. She stopped halfway there and turned back around, considering her old friend. He still didn’t wear the standard-issue uniform jacket over his blue shirt. “By the way the captain wasn’t particularly impressed with your personal dress code and he wanted me to talk to you about that.”

“Did you tell him that I’m a stubborn old man?”

She couldn’t quite suppress the urge to laugh. “You have to realize that you’re not running your own show anymore. You’re back on a starship and out here, the captain has the last word.”

“I’ve been dealing with starship captains long before our dear leader was even in diapers. And let me tell you something about them. They all like to think that they command everything and everyone around them. For the most part they are right. But from time to time they need to be reminded that some things will always be out of their control. Trust me, it’s healthy. And I should know, I’m a doctor,” he said. “Now get out of here before I’ll start regretting this happy reunion.”

Star chuckled. “Fascinating theory,” she said. “How about you tell me more about the galaxy according to Doctor Katanga over dinner tonight? We’ll catch up and reminisce on the good old times. 2000?”

“1800. I’m not a spring chicken anymore, you know.”

She offered a beaming smile. “It’s really good to see you again, old friend,” she said just before leaving sickbay.


* * *

Read the writer's commentary for this segment here.
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Last edited by CeJay; March 11 2013 at 09:59 AM.
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Old March 21 2013, 08:37 AM   #17
CeJay
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

– V –


“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” she said as she took in the marvelous sight outside the large floor-to-ceiling windows. “That in such dark times full of suffering and ugliness we would get a chance to see something to marvelous and beautiful.”

Michael Owens yawned.

Deen aimed an annoyed look at him

“Sorry,” he said quickly. “It’s not you. And certainly not the amazing view,” he added as his glance wandered towards the dancing specters of color just outside the Nest’s observation windows. “I just didn’t get much sleep last night. In fact, I don’t know if I got any sleep at all.”

Her features turned into a frown of concern. “What do you mean, you don’t know?”

The captain rubbed his forehead, clearly having a difficult time to explain what had happened to him last night. Even to himself. “It’s as if I went to sleep and before I even had a chance to dose off, it was next day already.”

“Could this be related to the Hyterian phenomenon?” she asked, referring to an incident in which Owens’ mind had inexplicably been linked to a long-dead civilization which had manifested itself through dreams and nightmares.

He shook his head. “I haven’t had one of those episodes in nearly two years. It would seem like odd timing if they were back again. Besides I didn’t experience any of the Hyterian themes this time. Nothing about light and darkness.”

“Do you remember dreaming?”

“That’s just the thing, I don’t,” he said. “Even though I have a nagging feeling that something happened. There are images flying around in the back of my head but they are so fleeting and blurry, I can’t make sense of them at all.”

DeMara’s worry lines deepened.

Michael noticed. “It’s probably nothing,” he said quickly. “Just a bad dream.”

She was not convinced. “That’s what you said last time,” she said. “You should talk to Counselor Trenira to see if–“

“Commander Xylion,” Owens said when he noticed the Vulcan science officer approach their table, happy to change the subject. “How are you doing today?”

“I am well, thank you, sir,” said Xylion as he came to a halt in front of the table, adopting his usual stiff posture with his hands behind his back.

“Would you like to join us admiring the nebula?” he said with a little smirk.

“Unfortunately that will not be possible,” he said. “I have come to ask for the lieutenant’s assistance.”

Deen stopped frowning at the captain and his not so subtle attempts to end their conversation and looked up at the Vulcan. “Oh?”

“I have obtained permission to put together an away team for a survey mission of the Aphrodite nebula. I have already begun to adapt the Nebucadrezzar with the necessary shield modifications and expect to be able to depart within the next few hours. I would greatly appreciate if you would join the away team.”

Her face turned into a beaming smile. “I’d love to.”

The Vulcan acknowledged with a curt nod. “We have been given limited time to complete this survey. I would therefore suggest that you make your preparations as quickly as possible.”

“Of course.”

“Wait a minute,” said Owens. “How exactly did you obtain said permission?”

“Commander Star authorized the away mission,” the Vulcan said with a raised eyebrow. “I assumed she would have informed you of this.”

“She has not.”

“Michael?” Deen said, her voice making it clear that she would not be pleased at all if he threw a wrench into an opportunity for her to study the nebula.

The Vulcan presented a padd. “I have produced a comprehensive report detailing the benefits of this survey mission. Commander Star agreed with the inherent logic of this proposition. If you wish you may review this yourself and I am certain it would alleviate any objections you may feel towards this mission.”

“He has no objections,” said Deen and shot the captain a pointed look. “You don’t have any objections, right?”

He took the padd off the Vulcan but after realizing that it would take him hours to go through the hefty document he handed it back to his science officer, his face mirroring a contemplative expression.

“Commander,” said Deen to the Vulcan. “I’ll be joining you in the shuttle bay within an hour.”

Xylion glanced the captain with one last look but when he didn’t appear to have any further words to offer, he nodded. “That should be sufficient,” he said. “Captain,” he added before he swiftly left the Nest.

“I don’t like this,” he said once the science officer had left.

“Michael, this is an amazing opportunity for us to study Aphrodite in detail. I guarantee there’ll be people back at Starfleet Sciences who would give their right hand for this chance.”

“I’m not denying that.”

“What then?”

When he didn’t say anything right away, she thought she knew what troubled him about this mission. “You’re upset he went to Star instead of coming to you, is that it? You think she was more likely to green light this than you’d been? If it had really been about that, he would have come to me first to try and get me to talk you into this.”

He shook his head. “Xylion? Not a chance. The man is nothing if not by the book. He wouldn’t even consider exploiting our friendship for something like that.”

“You’re probably right.”

Michael took a sip from his tonic water. “Star should have checked in with me first before making this decision.”

Deen leaned back in her chair with a knowing smile. “That’s what this is about, isn’t it? Commander Star. Michael, she’s the first officer, last time I checked authorizing an away mission falls squarely within her remit.”

“Perhaps but she’s still new around here. She doesn’t really know how things work on Eagle. She doesn’t understand how I like to run things.”

“She’s been onboard for four months now,” she said. “I’m pretty sure she’s got the basics covered.”

But the captain did not look convinced at all.

“Let’s face it, Michael, if this had been Gene making the call you wouldn’t have thought twice about this. You still have a trust issue with her.”

“And why shouldn’t I considering her past.”

She leaned forward. “It was your decision to keep her here. You need to start asking yourself why you made that call. If you really can’t find a way to trust her to do her job, you better start thinking about replacing her as your first officer. Otherwise take her off that leash you’ve kept her on ever since she became your permanent XO. You’re not doing yourself or this crew any favors with the current state of things. And if you ask me, it isn’t fair to her,” she said and stood. “Now, if you’d excuse me. I’ve got to go and pack.”

* * *

Read the writer's commentary for this segment here.
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Old March 26 2013, 11:28 PM   #18
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

Two terrific character-building conversations here.

Firstly, I’m glad to see Star finally has a friend aboard she can confide in. Yes, she’s still a trainwreck, but having a supportive person around who isn’t watching you constantly out of the corner of their eye might just get her to start acting like a real XO, and not just someone’s stand-in.

Kudos to Deen for taking Owens to task. She’s right. If the former XO had made the call regarding the away mission, Owens would have backed him 100%. As Deen pointed out, even Owens is second guessing the officer he selected to be his permanent XO.

Great stuff!
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Old April 11 2013, 07:34 PM   #19
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

– VI –



The two people DeMara Deen hadn’t expect to be part of Xylion’s little excursion where So’Dan Leva and their young Andorian beta shift helsman Srena. The half-Romulan Leva, the ship’s chief tactical officer, was usually not the first choice to join an away team as his expertise were most valuable on the bridge during a combat engagement.

“Not many of those to be expected while we’re hidden in this nebula, constructing a fancy spy array,” he had told her after she had joined the rest of the team in the shuttle bay. “Besides, I don’t get nearly enough of a chance to get off the ship. Change of air will do me good.”

Srena had been even more excited. The perky Andorian made up for her inexperience with pure enthusiasm. “This is a great opportunity for me, sir,” she told her. “I’m honored Commander Xylion chose me for this assignment. How deep into the nebula do you think we’ll go?”

After reminding the ensign not to call her ‘sir’, not only because she didn’t much care for titles, but also because she always found it strange when people close her age caller her that, she tried to rein in some of their expectations. Deen had been part of a number of survey missions in her career as a science officer and where Leva and Srena were apparently expecting some sort of glorious away mission, the reality oftentimes was very different and meant spending long hours going over sensor data and analyzing the results.

“I took a year of astrophysics at the Academy,” Srena had said, unwilling to compromise on her excitement. “Perhaps I’ll be able to help out with the survey other than piloting the runabout. And the view is going to be absolutely gorgeous.”

After spending about an hour to load supplies onto the runabout Nebuchadrezzar and helping the deck crew installing the sensor and lab modules required for this specialized mission, they cleared Eagle’s shuttle bay on a pre-planned flight plan which allowed them to cover the greatest amount of real estate in the time they had been given.

“Transphasic shield module is active and functioning to expected parameters,” said Leva from his console. “Shields at one-hundred percent efficiency.”

Deen who occupied the co-pilot chair turned towards the Vulcan behind her. “Explain to me again how you managed to convince Rosenthal to borrow this module?”

“It was a simple matter of making the professor understand the breakthrough scientific discoveries his shield technology would be able to make possible.”

Deen smirked. “In other words you bribed the man with credit on our survey.”

The Vulcan raised an eyebrow. “That term is incorrect and inappropriate,” he said. “However Professor Rosenthal seemed indeed very interested in having his name associated with this expedition.”

“The man is a glory hound, if you ask me,” said Leva.

“Regardless of his personal values, his transphasic shield design is both highly effective and ingenious,” the Vulcan said.

“Uh, sirs, I’m reading an unusual gravimetric disturbance at two-three-four mark nine-five, approximately eight-hundred million kilometers.”

Deen quickly brought up her findings on her own console. While their shield modifications did a great job to protect them from the nebula’s radiation, their sensors and communications systems were still greatly affected, especially over range. It was almost impossible to know for certain what the sensors had detected. “I see it,” she said. “Looks unusual for this kind of nebula. Worth a peek, I’d say.”

But Xylion didn’t appear as convinced. “The coordinates are well outside our planned flight plan.”

“You telling me you’re not even a little bit curious as to what this could be?” she said with a little smile.

She could tell from the expression on his face that he was at least considering it. She had known him long enough to be able to notice the subtle nuances playing out on his usually carefully neutral facial expressions. He had put together a meticulously detailed flight plan which would have allowed them to give them the most time to study Aphrodite in the given time and one which did not allow for distractions such as this unexpected discovery. But then of course, making discoveries was the reason they were out here in the first place.

“Tell me we’re not passing this up just because of your obsessive needs to stick to a plan?” she said with a little more fire in her voice, understanding that sometimes you had to needle a Vulcan to get them to see your point.

“I vote for going to see what this is,” said Srena.

Xylion regarded her with a stern look. “This is not a democracy, Ensign. I am in command of this away team and therefore the decision lies with me alone.”

The young Andorian nodded quickly, obviously chastised for her out of turn comment.

Deen frowned. “Come on, Xyl, we’re science officers. Out here to explore,” she said. “This warrants exploring.”

She had only recently taken on calling the Vulcan by this shortened nickname even if it was clear that he didn’t appreciate this at all. It all went back to her needling theory.

“Ensign, change our heading to two-three-four mark nine-five,” he said even as entered new parameters into his station. “We will allocate twelve hours and twenty-six minutes to investigate this disturbance. I will make the required alterations to our flight plan to allow us to complete our survey in the allocate time.”

“Aye, sir,” she shot back and exchanging a beaming smile with the Tenarian woman next to her. “Changing course now,” she said and then made eye contact with Deen again. “Looks like this mission is on its way to becoming much more exciting than you anticipated.”

“I really hope not,” she said, mindful that ‘more exciting’ didn’t necessarily mean the same thing to her as it did to the young Andorian.
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Old April 28 2013, 01:07 PM   #20
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

Day Three: The Big Sleep


– I –

Michael Owens stifled a yawn as he stepped out of the turbolift on deck twenty-four. After seemingly having lost an entire night already, he hadn’t been particularly happy when Lieutenant Nora Laas had woken him at oh-dark-thirty, calling him down to engineering for an apparent emergency.

At least he had slept this time, however short the cycle had lasted. It was still a complete mystery to him what had happened the previous night. Could it have been a remnant of the Hyterian infection as Deen had suggested? That had happened over two years ago and he had experienced no further ill effects after that episode had concluded so it seemed unlikely that his lost night was related to that long-dead civilization.

For now he would just have to write it off as one of those strange anomalies one encountered on a regular basis while living and working in outer space and hope he’d find the time on making up those lost hours soon.

He found a crowd had gathered outside engineering and he noticed the number of civilian engineers who were part of Professor Rosenthal’s team were being kept out of main engineering along with many regular crewmembers. Two armed security specialists were guarding the main door.

Charlie Colcord, the professor’s senior advisor, immediately zeroed in on him when she spotted him coming down the corridor.

“Captain, what is the meaning of this?” she said even before he had reached the group. She looked visibly upset and even more astonishingly, not the least bit weary or fatigued considering the late hour. Instead she was the epitome of an energized professional, looking crisp and ready to work. “As you are aware, sir, we are on a very tight schedule to complete the array and do not have the luxury to afford these kind of delays. It is completely unacceptable that we are being kept out of engineering in this manner.”

Owens joined her and took in the scene. Rosenthal was in the process of polishing his eyeglasses, once again quite happy to have his young and energetic colleague do most of the talking.

“Miss Colcord, I’m sure there is a perfectly good reason why main engineering has been sealed off—“

“A better reason than completing a spy array which will yield invaluable data on enemy fleet movements which could play a role in winning this war?” she said.

He sighed. “Honestly, I don’t know,” he said truthfully. “Why don’t you let me find out?”

She nodded. “Yes, please do. We are here to work, Captain, not stand idly by and wait to be given access to vital areas of the ship.”

He couldn’t be entirely certain but the look on Rosenthal’s face appeared slightly pained and he wasn’t sure if it was because of Colcord’s insisting attitude or for some other reason. Did he know more than he let on about what was taking place beyond those sealed doors?

“If you excuse me,” he told the young woman. “Professor.”

The civilian engineer gave him a nod, his expression having turned to one of concern now.

The security guards stepped aside for him and he quickly slipped into engineering.

At first glance nothing here looked quite out of the ordinary until he realized that the many gold-shirted officers busily going back and forth were not engineers but security personnel. And they were not monitoring or studying the many computer consoles and equipment in this room, they were studying the actual room.

He found Nora Laas along with Commander Star standing close to the warp core at the back of engineering and without further delay headed their way. He thought it to be odd that Star was already here. He was sure Nora would have called him first, not because it was protocol but because it seemed unlikely the Bajoran would have wanted to clue in the first officer on any urgent news before him.

He was well aware of the difficulties the two women had had working together ever since Tazla Star had come aboard to become first an acting XO and then take on the role permanently. There was something about their personalities—both headstrong, proud and uncompromising—that simply didn’t allow them to click. And there was something else, something more personal which caused friction between his chief of security and his executive officer.

Nora Laas had been in a short-lived romantic relationship with Star’s highly respected predecessor which was cut short after he was tragically killed in the line of duty. Killed while saving her life no less. It had not gone over well with her that a known traitor and criminal had come in to replace the man she had been in love with.

And while Owens had his own problems with the Trill first officer, Nora’s issues it seemed were of a more personal nature and one which he needed them to work out together.

“Captain,” the Bajoran said, beating Star to it. “Over here, sir.”

“What’s going on?”

“We have a situation.”

“You called me down here at 0100 hours. You better be having a situation, Lieutenant,” he said as he stepped up next to the warp core, gently humming and pulsating with bright azure light. Looking around he couldn’t immediately see what the nature of this situation could be.

“See for yourself,” said Star, and Owens found her looking particularly grim which he didn’t attribute to the early hour, as she looked down the pit surrounding the warp core. He noticed that she made an effort not to touch the bright red safety railing.

Nora mirrored the move and the captain followed suit.

The situation was a dead crewman, lying sprawled out at the bottom of the pit, at least twenty meters below and in large pool of his own blood. The man wore a golden uniform undershirt, making him a technical specialist or security officer. He had dark skin and long, silvery hair and was clearly humanoid but possibly not human.

Michael immediately felt a sickness growing in his stomach. Not because of seeing a dead person, he had seen plenty of those before, many more than he’d ever wanted and even more so since the outbreak of the Dominion War, he was getting this feeling because this death, no matter what it turned out to be, seemed to him like the most senseless of all. This was not a wartime casualty, losing his life while defending freedom and the Federation, this, it appeared was an entirely preventable and tragic death.

“What the hell happened?” he said, unable to keep the anger in check. “Who is that?”

“Lieutenant Jinlu Gedar, sir,” said Nora Laas.

He gave her and empty look. He remembered the promising young engineer from his great performance in the play two days earlier. He, it had turned out, had been a most gifted actor and had drawn much praise from the audience that night, including from himself.

The fact that he had known the man, shook his hand even, it made this so much worse. It probably shouldn’t, this was tragic no matter who the dead person was, but feelings didn’t lie.

“He was discovered about twenty minutes ago by the duty engineer. It’s too soon to say what happened but I doubt it was an accident,” said Star.

Owens missed the dark look the security chief was aiming at the first officer, obviously not happy with her already making speculations.

“You’re saying this was done on purpose?” said Owens, unable to keep from sounding astonished by the revelation.

“I think we need to treat this as a homicide,” said the first officer.

“A homicide?” said the captain, still trying to get to grips with what she was saying. In his entire Starfleet career he had never come across a murder scene. They still happened within the Federation and even more infrequently within Starfleet but hardly ever on a starship. Perhaps on some frontier outpost or a border colony but on Starfleet vessel something like this was almost unheard of.

“The only other option would be a suicide and from what I know about Mister Gedar, I find that difficult to believe,” said the first officer.

Owens turned to look at his security chief for an opinion. She nodded hesitantly as if it pained her to agree with Star. “I don’t think we should rule anything out yet but I’m I think we should treat this as if it where a homicide as well. We may have a murderer on this ship and if that is true, we need to act quickly.”

The idea disgusted him. Bad enough they had lost people to the Dominion, now one of their own was killing fellow crewmembers. It was entirely unacceptable. “If you’re right I want who ever did this brought to justice as soon as possible and before they have a chance to strike again.”

Nora nodded sharply but before she could respond, Star jumped in. “Sir, I think I should lead on the investigation.”

“This is a security matter, Commander,” the Bajoran shot back. “I’ll handle this.”

“If this were a simple security matter, perhaps,” she said, managing to keep her cool considering Nora’s brusque tone. “But this is an actual investigation. We don’t know who we are looking for yet and whoever did this is likely trying to cover their tracks. We’ll need a certain finesse to catch the perpetrator.”

Nora defiantly crossed her arms under her chest. “And you’re saying I don’t have finesse, is that it?”

Star was unapologetic. “It’s not a quality I would attribute to you, no.”

“Captain, with all due respect—“

But Owens raised his hand to stop his two officers to get into it in front of a crowd of spectators, not to mention at a murder scene. It was the last thing he needed. “Let me make this very clear to you both,” he said, keeping his voice low but with enough edge to make it clear he was being serious. “Whatever it is that’s going on between the two of you, I need it to stop. Right now. This,” he said and pointed towards the warp core pit, “is absolutely unacceptable on my ship, on any ship, and I want to know who is responsible. That’s all I care about. Understood?”

The two women nodded sharply.

“And I’ll find out, sir,” said Nora, not willing to give up on the argument even after the captain’s speech. “Criminal investigations of any nature fall into my purview. Let me handle this and I promise I get you the killer.”

He considered her for a moment and also noticed Star’s doubt filled eyes. She seemed eager to take on the investigation herself, this much seemed clear but he couldn’t be sure if this was because she genuinely felt more qualified or because she saw this as an opportunity to prove herself to him. He finally gave the security chief the nod to proceed. “It’s your investigation, Lieutenant. Whatever it takes, get me whoever did this.”

“Yes, sir.”

Star pretended to be a good loser but she clearly had one more point to make. “Sir, I hate to bring this up but there is the matter of the sensor array construction. The longer we delay Rosenthal and his people access to main engineering and other areas, the greater the chance that we will not meet our deadline to finish construction.”

“A man just died here, Commander, I’m not sure what that means to you but my priorities are clear,” Nora barked.

“People are dying by the hundred every day,” said Star and doing a commendable job of keeping her own voice down. “I am as disturbed by what happened here as the rest of us but I also understand the wider implications of our mission here,” she added and then looked back at the captain. “I’m not trying to prioritize one thing over the other, sir, I’m just saying that both objectives are of vital importance.”

Owens considered that for a moment before he found himself in agreement with his first officer and nodded. “Lieutenant, do whatever you have to but wrap things up in here quickly,” he said, already aware that Nora’s security people were taking a myriad of scans of the engine room and knowing that that should allow them to recreate the crime scene into minute detail. “We cannot afford to significantly delay or hinder the professors’ efforts, the stakes are too high.”

“Understood.”

Owens took one last look at the unfortunate dead body of the former Lieutenant Gedar. It was the least he could do as regardless of how he had died, it had happened under his command and therefore part of the reasonability was his. It was going to be his job to find a way to make his family understand that their son had died in the most senseless fashion on board of his ship. It was a duty he was already dreading.

“I want whoever did this,” he seethed before he turned and headed for the secondary exit, consciously avoiding another run in with Rosenthal and Colcord.

Going back to bed and catching up on sorely needed rest, he knew was no longer an option.


* * *

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Old May 2 2013, 06:11 AM   #21
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

I loved Owens' reaction to the murder, as well as how he handled the bickering between XO and Security Chief. And he's absolutely right, standing over the body of one of your crewmates isn't the idea time to get into a pissing match over job qualifications.

And Deen continues to shine (or glow) while underway on Xylion's away mission... and boy can that woman play the Vulcan like a fiddle!

Great character work all the way around!
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Old June 2 2013, 09:14 AM   #22
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

– II –


She was still trying to get her head around the fact that a member of her crew had quite possibly been the victim of a heinous crime. Had been murdered. And no matter how one looked at this, the truth was it had happened on her watch. Security, after all, was her role and therefore the safety of all crewmembers was solely her responsibility. She had failed. She had failed Lieutenant Gedar.

Nora Laas crouched near the body of the Krellonian engineer and watched quietly while members of her security team scanned every last bit of forensic evidence possible before the body would be transported to the morgue for an autopsy by Doctor Katanga.

It still bothered her that Commander Star had openly declared that she wasn’t up to the task of heading this investigation. So perhaps criminal matters were not her specialty. She was a fighter first and foremost. A leader of men if she had to be. Probably the best hand-to-hand combatant on the ship and deadly accurate with almost any weapon. She had partaken in a couple of investigations before, most recently as a deputy security chief on Deep Space Two almost five years ago. Her colleague and friend So’Dan Leva had been in charge of the investigation initially as the head of security and frankly her contributions had not been significant.

Her lack of experience didn’t mean she’d yield to Tazla Star. She was head of security and no matter what, she would find the guilty party and bring them to justice. That she had promised the captain, and perhaps even more importantly, she had promised herself.

Jose Carlos, her deputy, approached holding a padd. The man was loyal to a fault, tall and muscular, the Hispanic officer had been made for security work. Did he have the finesse, as Star had put it, to find a killer, she wondered. She hadn’t exactly recruited her team based on their investigative skills. An oversight she came to regret now.

Nora stood. “What precisely do we know so far?”

Carlos had been prepared for the question and referred to his padd. “Cause of death appears to be severe trauma from impact,” he said and looked up along the warp core shaft and towards where he had likely plummeted to his death. “I’d say he fell about ten meters and landed face down.” He turned back to his padd. “Time of death was between 2330 hours and 0045 hours. The doctor is trying to narrow it down but that might not be that easy.”

“Why not?”

“Apparently we don’t know much about Krellonian physiology or how their bodies react after death. His body temperature is nowhere near what it should be.”

“Who found the body?”

“Crewman Wyche at 0045,” he said. “He called in the medical emergency. The medical team arrived two minutes later and found Gedar already dead. Doctor Katanga arrived at 0053 and officially pronounced death before calling us. By 0055 we were on site and engineering had been sealed off.”

“Ten minute after he was discovered,” she said, mostly to herself as she considered the body still sitting in a large puddle of his slowly drying blood. “Plenty of time for the killer to slip away. If he hadn’t already,” she said and turned back to her deputy. “Internal sensors?”

He shook his head. “Turned off.”

“What? How?” she said, fully aware if the sensors had been operating, especially the visual pickups, this investigation would have been over before it had even begun.

“They were turned off after we entered the nebula,” he said, sounding frustrated himself. “Apparently the background radiation rendered them useless and provided false data.”

“Splendid,” she said. “Glad I was told about this.”

He shrugged helplessly. Clearly he hadn’t been told either.

She turned back to watch as the medical technicians began to remove the body now that the site had been thoroughly scanned and documented. “I want statements from everyone who’s seen the body along with everyone else who’s been talking to Gedar within the last twenty-four hours. Let’s start with everyone in engineering and then widen the net in the morning.”

“I’ve already taken Wyche’s statement.”

She nodded. “Good. Make sure every last square inch of the room has been scanned. I want to be able to create an exact replica on the holodeck. Then seal off this area but reopen main engineering. I want two armed guards here for the rest of the day.”

Carlos seemed surprised by these orders. “We’re letting people back onto the crime scene already?”

She frowned. “Not my choice,” she said curtly. “After you’re done tell everyone to get a good night’s rest. We start first thing at 0700 to put the pieces together and find whoever the hells did this.”

“Yes, sir.”

Nora shot a last glance at Gedar’s body before it began to dematerialize, leaving behind only the large stain of his dark red blood as gruesome evidence that a young man had met his death here tonight. Then she turned and headed back to the elevator which would deposit her to the main engineering deck above. Once there she’d make her way straight back to her quarters. Not to catch up on sleep she knew she wouldn’t find but start her investigation and learn everything she could about the victim.

No matter what Star or anyone else thought, she was going to find whoever did this. After all she had promised herself and Nora Laas was not a woman to make empty promises. No matter what it would take, she would not allow a killer to roam free on her ship.
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Old September 5 2013, 07:37 PM   #23
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

– III –


“I thought we’d have more time,” said the young man on the screen.

The connection was already mostly garbled and she had found it more and more difficult to make out the face of the dark-haired man, but now the sound was beginning to fade out as well. “Not in this soup,” she said. “This nebula is different to most others we’ve encountered. It has some fairly interesting attributes; unfortunately they affect most of our equipment, including sensors, communications and engines.”

His smirk was noticeable even through the deteriorating com-channel. “Look at you being the big scientist all of sudden.”

She responded with her own little smile. “Hardly. I did write a paper on proto-nebulae in my sophomore year, took me almost the entire semester to do research on it, too.”

“Must be why Commander Xylion chose you,” he said, “I didn’t know you had scientific ambitions.”

“I was considering it back at the Academy,” the Andorian said. “But then the war happened and I had to choose a focus. I figured I was more likely to make my mark as the best pilot in Starfleet instead of a second-rate research assistant.”

The connection cut out for a moment before his face popped back up. “It’s going to go any moment now.”

“Yeah.”

“Listen, you watch yourself out there, okay?”

She nodded and then offered a wide smile, showing off her pearly whites against her dark blue lips. “It’s just a survey mission,” she said. “It’s not like I’m piloting a combat shuttle against Jem’Hadar warships.”

His concern was obvious, after all he was one of the few people who knew about her combat mission a year earlier when, after her shuttle had been nearly crippled, she had been ordered to carry out a suicide run against a Jem’Hadar ship threatening to destroy Eagle. He knew that the mission had affected her greatly, maybe even changed her forever, for the first time understanding that Starfleet was much more than just an adventure. It had become a life and death struggle for those fighting the war against the Dominion.

“I don’t want you to worry,” she added quickly.

“I’ll try not to. And just to make sure you come back in one piece, I may have a surprise in store for you once you return.”

“Ah, the anticipation is going to kill me.”

“Make sure it doesn’t. I see―“

The comm. system finally gave up compensating for the interference caused by the nebula’s radiation. The shield modifications made sure that they remained relatively safe inside the runabout but it could do nothing to prevent it affecting their communications.

“Lance?”

But the connection was dead. When she tried to re-establish, the computer quickly advised her that it was unable to comply and she knew she wouldn’t be able to see or talk to him again until they returned from their mission.

When she heard the approaching footsteps, she quickly ceased her attempts. She was supposed to pilot the runabout, not chat with her friends back on Eagle.

DeMara Deen took the seat next to her. “Anything to report?”

“No, sir … I mean, Dee,” she said, correcting herself quickly. “We’re still two hours out from our destination.”

She nodded and looked over the latest sensor readouts. The sensitive high-resolution scanners they had installed on the runabout before departure were running nonstop to collect as much data as possible about the nebula. They weren’t as efficient as usual due to the strong radiation but they were able to learn much more than they would have if they had stayed on Eagle.

“How are people back on the ship?” she said without taking her eyes off her screens.

“They’re fine,” she said without thinking. Then her head jerked up. “I mean … I think … I think they’re fine,” she added looking at the beautiful, golden-locked lieutenant to her right, trying to appear as clueless as possible and of course failing miserably.

Dee looked up. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing part of your conversation with Lieutenant Stanmore. I know it was rude but I didn’t want to interrupt.”

Her mouth opened and then closed. “How much … how much did you hear?”

“Just the last bit.”

Srena’s face gained some color. Bad enough that she had been caught red-handed chatting with her boyfriend, as it so happened, DeMara Deen was Lance Stanmore’s boss. “I’m so sorry, sir, I swear it won’t happen again.”

She offered a sweet smile. “Don’t worry about it. In fact I think you and Lance make a great couple.”

Now she turned periwinkle. “We’re not … I mean, not really. Actually I don’t know what we are.”

“Well, it seemed pretty obvious to me that you two care a great deal for each other,” she said. “And there is nothing wrong with that.”

“We work together,” Srena said. “And I’m sure if Commander Star found out; she’d give me hell over it. She’s singled me out as a special project of hers and I know she’d be rather displeased if I let myself get distracted like this.”

“Distracted?” she said with a smirk.

“Well, I’d imagine that would be what she’d call it.”

Deen nodded. “Your secret is safe with me. But if you ask me, you shouldn’t have to hide things. Fraternizing with a fellow crewmember is not a taboo, and we live in the kind of times we can’t take anything for granted.”

The Andorian nodded thoughtfully. It was a conclusion she’d arrived at herself, especially since having come within inches of dying in a fiery kamikaze attack.

“How do you do it?”

The Tenarian glanced at the young ensign with a little twinkle in her eye. “Do what?”

“Uh, I mean, aren’t you with anyone right now?”

Deen’s face turned thoughtful for just a brief moment, almost wistful. It was quickly dispelled but not quickly enough to not make Srena feel extremely uncomfortable, even embarrassed at having asked the question. She quickly turned back to her instrument. “I’m sorry that was way out of line. It’s none of my business.”

Dee quickly shook her head. “No, not at all,” she said, sounding like her good-natured self again. “And I’m not seeing anyone. What would make you think I was?”

“Well,” she said, starting out carefully now. “I suppose I just assumed because you are, you know …”

“Tenarian?”

“I was going to say beautiful and sensual,” she said and suddenly felt like sinking into her seat until she disappeared.

She uttered a little laugh. “Thank you, Srena,” she said. “I shall take that as a compliment. But I have you know I haven’t been in any kind of relationship since my early days at the Academy.”

“Oh, ok,” she said. “Now I feel stupid.”

“Don’t. I just haven’t found the right person yet. Clearly you have and you should take full advantage,” she said but even Srena could tell that there appeared to be more to what she was saying than she let on, no matter how much Deen tried to pretend otherwise.

“Right person for what?”

The two turned to see So’Dan Leva stride into the compartment. A large smirk was plastered on the half-Romulan’s face, as if extremely intrigued at the conversation between the two young women.

Deen frowned at him. “Girl talk,” she said. “Not for your tapered ears to hear.”

“What a shame, I’m sure it would’ve made great material for my personal log.”

The Andorian giggled, realizing perhaps for the first time that senior officers weren’t really all that different. Even the usually dead-serious half-Romulan tactical officer was much less intimidating up close and the normally stoic Vulcan science officer actually had a sense of humor, even if it was so subtle, one blink and you’d miss it.

She wasn’t entirely sure if these usually stone-faced men had let their guard down thanks to Deen’s inherent charm or if this simply was the way these people carried themselves when they were socializing among themselves and not faced with the latest crisis.

After a couple more minutes of light banter, the small crew of the runabout fell into their various roles, mostly observing and analyzing whatever information the sensors were able to gleam from their marvelous surroundings and Srena, too, decided to apply some of her admittedly limited astrophysics background to the study of the nebula while keeping at least one eye on the navigational data least they’d run into some unexpected trouble.

The truth was that she had always been fascinated by stellar phenomenon which couldn’t be neatly classified or categorized. It was why she had developed an interest in travelling the stars and becoming an explorer in the first place and what had led her to consider a science career while at the Academy. In fact her paper had focused on nebulae with unexpected and unexplainable attributes just like Aphrodite. Lance had probably been right when he had guessed that her work at the Academy had likely garnered her the spot on the away team.

After just a few minutes of analyzing the wide-band EM spectrum sensor results she found something very odd about the composition of this particular nebula. It possessed all the elements one would expect from a proto-nebula of this size and type, including dust, hydrogen, helium and a variety of other ionized gases but there was another element here not usually observed in nebulae. Those bright little sprites of various colors which gave Aphrodite their unique look were for all intents and purposes plasma fragments and most likely a holdover from a planetary body, possibly a gas giant, which had dissolved and helped create the nebula.

In her paper, Srena had speculated that similar plasma fragments could exhibit an almost instinctive movement pattern not unlike single-cell organisms, traversing their environments not just randomly but with some sort of purpose. And this seemed to be the case here as well. Perhaps even more so than in the examples she had studied and she couldn’t help wonder if there was more to this than she had theorized in her thesis where she had attributed these patterns to an electromagnetic attraction, like protons constantly racing after oppositely-charged electrons. But there were no signs of electromagnetic radiation in Aphrodite significant enough to explain those movements. There had to be another explanation for how and why these little sprites roamed across the nebula.

Srena’s considerations were cut short when the runabout trembled suddenly and caused a loud warning siren to echo across the cockpit.

“What’s going on?” said Leva from his station, clearly startled by the unexpected turbulence.

The Andorian pilot cursed herself for having been so distracted with her findings, actually having taken her eyes of navigation completely for a while. She quickly turned back to the helm controls and sensors. “We’re running into gravimetric sheer,” she said. “I … I don’t understand where this came from.”

Deen shot her an encouraging look. “It didn’t show up on sensors.”

She replied with a thankful nod at the revelation that while the operations officer had been keeping her eyes on the navigational instruments, it hadn’t made much of a difference.

The small vessel began to heave and shake, forcing the occupants to hold on tightly to their stations.

Srena couldn’t help but be reminded of the unnatural storm in the play she’d watched a couple of days ago and a ship, albeit a much different one, getting into a tough scrape with nature they’d ultimately lose. She tried to ban those thoughts out of her head. “The sheer is intensifying; navigational deflector is losing power and forward momentum has increased by thirty percent.”

“I’d say we’ve found the source of this mysterious gravimetric disturbance,” said Deen even while her fingers raced over her console, trying to compensate for the increasingly rough ride.

“Excellent,” said Leva sarcastically. “Now that we’ve felt it, can we move on?”

“Helm is responding very sluggishly,” Srena said. “Whatever this is, it’s as if it’s pulling us in.”

Deen’s efforts to stabilize the ship also bore little fruit. “There’s more to this than just some spatial disturbance.”

“I’d say.”

Srena turned to see that Commander Leva had stepped up right in-between her and Deen, grabbing the back of their chairs to maintain his balance while his eyes were focused on the forward viewports.

She followed his gaze, curious at what had made him get out of his chair under these conditions. The thick, colorful gasses making up the nebula pulled back like a veil to reveal something she had not expected to find here. A planet.

“Sensors are confirming a rogue planetoid dead ahead,” said Xylion, his voice sounding surprised at this discovery. “It appears to be surrounded by significant electromagnetic disturbance.”

“Lightning,” said Srena who couldn’t find a better analogy as she saw the massive, bright discharges which rippled across the space around the planet.

“And we’re heading straight for it,” said Leva.

“Ensign, change your heading to four-six mark one-eight seven.”

She quickly entered the course correction but to her frustration found that the runabout hardly responded to her prompts at all. The nose turned far too slowly.

“It’s not working, the gravimetric sheer is pulling us in,” said the operations officer.

“Ensign, full reverse, all thrusters.”

Srena shook her head when that too made little difference. “It’s not significantly arresting our momentum.”

“Switching to full impulse,” said Deen.

The runabout lurched hard and a new alarm klaxons alerted the crew to a possible catastrophic structural failure.

“It’s ripping the ship apart!” Srena shouted.

“Lieutenant, terminate the impulse engines,” said the Vulcan just as they were struck by the lightning-like discharges surrounding the ever increasing orb they were approaching.

Srena lifted her fingers off her controls as powerful electric currents began to course through them, flicking them on and off.

“No need,” said Deen. “We have massive system failures all across the board.”

Srena was close to panic. “We’re losing helm control.”

“This is going to get a lot worse,” said Leva and the Andorian knew exactly what he was talking about when she looked back up and out of the viewport. They were now tumbling uncontrollably towards the surface of the planet.

Xylion put into words what everyone was already thinking. “Brace for crash landing.”
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Old September 29 2013, 05:52 PM   #24
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

– IV –


Sleep hadn’t come easy to her. The notion that somebody had been killed on her watch had been difficult enough to digest, the fact that it had fallen to her ― at her own insistence ― to catch the killer, was a challenge she had rarely faced in her career as a security officer.

Protecting assets or personnel on an away mission, boarding hostile vessels or repel enemy forces, disarm booby traps, she even had basic certification to take over the tactical station on the bridge if the need arose, but criminal investigations were really not something Starfleet security officers normally trained for and her experience as a teenage freedom fighter on Bajor and later a Marine hadn’t exactly prepared her for this either.

Of course she hadn’t admitted any of this to Owens when she had demanded that it had to be her to lead the investigation. No matter how one looked at it, as the security chief it had to be her job to prevent or if necessary investigate crimes committed on her ship. Even if it was the most heinous crime imaginable.

So she had spent most of her night reading up on Starfleet criminal investigations. Sure, there was the obligatory textbook on the matter but other than that, actual records were in scarce supply. Crimes of this nature usually didn’t take place on Starfleet vessels or installations and when they did, one could usually rely on the Starfleet JAG corps for assistance and guidance.

Considering Eagle’s current mission parameters, that, of course, was not an option. She had to do this by herself and she was determined to be successful.

She was still reading one of the few case studies which were somewhat comparable with her own when she entered her security office at 0700 sharp.

Lieutenant Jose Carlos was already waiting for her with a cup of hot raktajino which she took off him without so much as looking him in the eyes.

“Good Morning, sir.”

“Not sure what’s good about it,” she said and made the mistake of trying to sip the steaming hot coffee, which she quickly came to regret. “We’ve got a killer on the loose on the ship. In fact, no more good mornings until we’ve brought whoever did this to justice.”

The Hispanic officer nodded sharply.

“Has the crime scene been recorded?”

“Every last square centimeter, just as you asked. The computer has already finished compiling the data and holodeck two has been reserved to reproduce main engineering exactly the way we found it last night. You should also know that―“

“Access has been restricted? We can’t have the killer just stroll in there and fool around with my crime scene.”

“Doors have been locked only to accept access to yourself,” he said. “As an additional precaution I’ve stationed two armed guards around the clock.”

“Good,” she said and tried the rakatjino again. She really needed a shot of it to get herself ready for what undoubtedly was going to be a long, hard day. But she froze just before the cup reached her lips as she watched a couple of her people entering the room. They were joking and laughing amongst themselves and leisurely heading over to the replicator.

“There is somebody―“ but Carlos didn’t get a chance to finish as Nora abruptly turned away from him to face her seemingly relaxed officers, engaging in ‘water-cooler’ banter around the replicator.

Unbeknownst to him, her gaze drilled itself into a junior officer who had laughed out loud following something his fellow colleague had said. “Ensign, I didn’t quite catch that joke,” she said loudly enough to make every last person turn her way.

The young man she had addressed looked at her with wide-open eyes. “I … I’m sorry, ma’am?”

She took a step towards the human. “You seem to be having a terribly good time so I was just wondering what the joke is?”

The ensign seemed to be at a loss for words.

“Well?”

He shook his head. “Uh … there was no, joke, ma’am. I apologize if―“

But Nora Laas had lost interest when she spotted another couple of her people enter the room. Quickly checking the chronometer, she found it was already 0706 hours.

Petty Officer Skyler McIntyre and Caitian Ensign T’Nerr immediately sensed the tense atmosphere in the room, not to mention the hawk-like gaze from their boss and instantly stopped talking amongst themselves.

Nora for her part took a deep breath, allowed a few more stragglers to come in and then turned to the dozen or so personnel who made up alpha shift. “Some of you may have heard we’ve had a murder last night,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Some of you may even have realized that this does not happen on Eagle and that I specifically asked for everyone to be here at 0700 sharp this morning. Let me make something very clear to you now. And please, by all means, make sure you communicate this to the rest of the team. From this point forward until whoever was responsible for killing Ensign Gedar has been apprehended, we will be entirely focuses on the task at hand. And you will get here, exactly when I ask you to get here and when you do you’ll be focused on one thing only. I will not accept tardiness and complacency from anyone. If you find you cannot behave like a professional, than quite frankly you have no place in my team or in security for that matter. Go see if they have an opening for you in engineering. Do I make myself clear?”

There were nods all around, each and every one of her people standing up straighter and their gazes fixes at the security chief.

“Do I make myself clear?” she repeated in a louder voice.

“Yes, ma’am,” they shouted back in unison.

“Good, now get to work. There’s much to be done,” she added and then turned back to Carlos. “I will rely on you to make sure to keep them focused and in line. I know people were thinking that because we’re no longer on the frontlines we could relax but that’s not the case. There’s a new war going on and this one will be fought right here on board this ship.”

She had suddenly lost her taste in rakatjino and passed it back to her deputy.

“Uh, Lieutenant.”

“And before I forget, I want you to pull Gedar’s service record along with all the information we have on anyone in engineering around the time of his death. Start with Professor Rosenthal’s civilian team,” she said and turned to head to her office. She managed three steps before she stopped suddenly. “Jose?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Who is that sitting in my office?”

“Ah, yes, I’ve been trying to tell you. That’s Lieutenant Clancy. He said he’s here to see you.”

She turned back around to shoot him a displeased look. “Why didn’t you say so earlier?”

“Uh, I tried but you―“

“Never mind,” she said. “Just get me those files, will you?”

“Yes, sir,” he said before he quickly retreated, clearly thankful for the opportunity to be out of his her line of fire for now.

Nora Laas stepped into her office and the man sitting in the chair facing her desk quickly stood. He was tall, with an athletic look, wavy brown hair and a friendly, inviting face. His rank insignia identified him as a junior lieutenant and he wore sciences colors underneath his uniform jacket. Nora was sure she’d seen him around before but couldn’t immediately place him.

He offered and easy smile and held out his hand. “Ah, Lieutenant Nora. I don’t think we ever formally met. I’m Alex Clancy.”

She shook his hand shortly before she stepped around him to get to her own chair.
“That was a nice speech, you gave by the way. Way to motivate the troops during a crisis.”

She looked him over suspiciously. “How may I help you, Lieutenant? As you can imagine, we’re all quite busy at the moment,” she said as she took her chair.

“Of course. That’s why I’m here,” he said and followed suit. That easy smile not leaving his lips. “I’m here to offer my services to your investigation.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

“I’m an assistant counselor and I have a little bit of experience dealing with homicide investigations. There aren’t too many people within Starfleet who can say that so I thought it made sense that I’d offer you my services any way you see fit.”

“You’re a counselor?”

“Assistant counselor.”

“I see.” She seemed to consider that for a moment and then abruptly stood again. Clancy quickly left his chair as well. “Well, I’m certainly thankful that you’ve came by and I’ll make sure to call you if I think I’ll need your help.”

It didn’t take a counselor, assistant or otherwise, to tell that Nora had just dismissed Clancy and yet the man stayed rooted to the spot. That smile was gone now and he seemed somewhat uncomfortable all of sudden.

“As I said,” Nora repeated, adding a little fire to her tone. “I’ll call if I need you.”

“About that, you see, I wasn’t entirely honest with you just now and I feel quite silly about that, to tell you the truth.”

She raised an eyebrow, clearly not comprehending.

“That certainly was no way to start our relationship.”

“What relationship?” she said, clearly beginning to get frustrated with this conversation. “We don’t have a relationship.”

He nodded slowly. “Honestly, I thought she would have told you already.”

“Told me what? What the hells are you talking about?”

“See the fact of the matter is, while I do believe I could be helpful to you, this wasn’t actually my idea. I was approached by―“

“Commander Star,” Nora interrupted, seething now.

He nodded. “In fact I’m under orders to assist―“

But the security chief was already half way to the door by then. “Don’t get comfortable, I’ll be right back,” she said a moment before she stormed out of her own office.

Clancy looked after her. “Guess she didn’t tell you then.”


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Old September 30 2013, 12:22 AM   #25
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

(Re: Chapter 1) I can't believe I overlooked this, CeJay! I've got some reading to do to catch up, but the opening chapter was excellent. Allowing the Eagle's crew some time away from the front was a smart call on the part of Owens, as was offering the play to take their minds off of the war. Some intriguing interplay is taking place after the performance. Looking forward to where this leads.
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Old October 2 2013, 08:32 PM   #26
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

Hey, thanks for checking this out.

Yeah, this story has been flying a little bit under the radar which I partially attribute to the irregular frequency of updates while I was focusing on other projects. Hopefully interest will pick up once I have more time to dedicate to this story.
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Old October 6 2013, 10:28 AM   #27
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

– V –


“The benefits are quite obvious. Higher crew rotations means that we have more focused and rested personnel on duty on any given day. By adding the additional shift we also increase and reinforce overall crew experience and skill in key positions. Of course there’ll have to be additional training and we’d probably want to rotate shifts around a little bit. Move delta shift up to beta and vice versa, that kind of thing.”

But Michael Owens was barely listening to his first officer explaining her recent proposal in more detail. It wasn’t because he didn’t think it had merit or because he was still feeling tired from a night seemingly lost and another interrupted. But it was hard to focus on routine ship operations when in reality recent events had made it clear that anything but routine applied.

A crime taking place on a starship was rare enough, a murder was almost unheard of. And it had happened on his ship. During a war which was claiming people by the thousands, somebody had felt it necessary to thin their ranks even further by this despicable act. It was incomprehensible to him.

The sound of the door’s enunciator finally managed what Star had not been able to do, refocus his thoughts.

“Enter.”

But before the words had even come over his lips, the doors had already parted and a clearly fuming Nora Laas was practically barging into his office. “Captain, I apologize for this interruption,” she said and regardless of her words, sounded rather unapologetic, “but would you kindly remind Commander Star of your earlier decision of assigning me the Gedar case as I don’t believe she fully understood.”

The first officer jumped to her feet, blushing slightly at the rude manner in which the security chief had entered the room and almost barked at the captain. “Lieutenant, you’re way out of line.”

“I’m out of line?” she said, aiming a perplexed look at the Trill. “I’m not the one disregarding clear orders from a superior officer.”

For a moment the redheaded first officer didn’t even seem to know how to respond to this accusation.

“Sir,” said Nora and considered Owens again, “you had made yourself perfectly clear to the both of us as to who was to take the lead on this investigation. How am I expected to do this if I’m being undermined—“

“What in the seven hells are you talking about?” Star barked at the lieutenant, clearly losing her composure for a split-second before reining herself in again.

“Don’t play coy, Commander. You had this … this counselor take over the investigation on your behalf and—“

“I did no such thing, Lieutenant.”

“That’s funny because according to him you’ve given him explicit orders to—“

“Enough.”

The two women stopped and looked at the captain almost as if only just realizing that he was also still in the room.

“Sit down. Both of you,” he said sharply, as if unable to believe that he was playing arbiter in a seemingly childish fight between his own senior officers.

The two women took the seats in front of his desk, both looking at least slightly chastised for allowing to let it come to a near shouting match in the captain’s ready room no less. Both absolutely avoided eye contact with each other.

“This is not acceptable,” Owens said, his voice sounding much softer now. “A heinous crime has been committed on my ship and I cannot have the two of you fighting each other instead of focusing on getting me whoever is responsible for this.”

“Sir, if I may,” Nora began tentatively and then continued when he responded with a little nod. “I believe you were perfectly clear as how you wished to handle this matter. As your chief of security, you asked me to solve this crime and handle all aspects of this investigation. My team and I were all set up to do just that until I was undermined by Commander Star who clearly has her own designs in regards to this investigation.”

The first officer’s face turned a darker shade of red and she did everything but bite her lip to bark out a fierce rebuttal to Nora’s provocative words.

“This counselor is neither requested nor required and clearly has only been assigned to me so that Commander Star may have a spy within the investigative team and influence it to her own purposes,” she continued, keeping her steely focus on Owens the entire time.

The captain uttered a little sigh before looking at his first officer. Her brimming eyes considered him for moment and Michael thought he could see a hint of pain in them. Perhaps it was even anger for having been placed in a situation in which she had to justify her actions in front of a subordinate. “Commander, who is this counselor?”

She took a small breath of air, presumably in order to not allow her angered state to dictate her next words. “First of all, sir, may I just point out that I resent Lieutenant Nora’s implications that I have any designs on her investigation other than finding the person responsible for this crime.”

Owens nodded. The atmosphere in his ready room had taken on a distinct courtroom feel and he wasn’t all too pleased about this.

“I have asked Assistant Counselor Alex Clancy to aid Lieutenant Nora in her investigation—“

Nora grunted noticeably, shooting the captain a ‘get-a-load-of-this’ look.

“To aid the Lieutenant with her investigation,” Star continued, her voice taking on a little volume to stress her point, “in the best interest of finding the person or persons responsible for this as quickly as possible.”

“And how would a counselor be able to assist me with that, Commander?” Nora asked, unable to keep her voice free of sarcasm.

The Trill turned to glance at the woman sitting next to her and if looks could kill, Nora would have died on the spot. “Well, for starters, Lieutenant, presumably we are dealing with a living person here. Somebody with a mind, possibly a disturbed mind, who felt it necessary to kill another living person for reasons which must have been entirely unacceptable. Who better to try and understand such a person than somebody whose job it is to study minds?”

“Fine then,” she said. “Once I find whoever did this, you can have this counselor of yours psychoanalyze the perpetrator until the fleet comes home.”

“Secondly, Lieutenant Clancy was stationed for three years on Farius Prime. I don’t have to tell you that that planet is practically run by the Orion Syndicate and that crimes are rampant there. As a Starfleet liaison to the local government, Clancy took part or assisted in a number of criminal investigations ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. How many criminal investigations have you taken part of, Lieutenant?”

“I’ll have you know that I successfully investigated a homicide when I served on Deep Space Two,” she responded lamely.

Star considered the woman for a moment with a little twinkle in her eye, almost as if she had been waiting for that point to come up. “Investigate?” she said. “A bit generous of a term, don’t you think? You were assisting Commander Leva at the time who did most of the heavy lifting. Besides, that was nearly six years ago. Do you have any other relevant experience you’d like us to acknowledge? Other than your mandatory Academy classes that is.”

Before the Bajoran could form a retort, Star turned back to the captain. “Sir, I’m not denying that Lieutenant Nora, as the head of security, should take the lead in this investigation. But I do think that Clancy is uniquely qualified to assist and compliment her efforts to bring the responsible party to justice as quickly as possible.”

“Captain,” Nora began but was stopped when Owens held up his hand.

He rubbed his temples for a moment. “Lieutenant, the Commander here makes a very convincing argument. Work with Clancy. You’re the lead of course but I see no harm in having the closest thing to a subject matter expert in on this.”

“But, sir,” she started again, clearly trying to object. Once again she was stopped by her captain.

“That would be all, Lieutenant. Go to work and find me whoever did this.”

Nora looked like she wasn’t done arguing her point. But after seeing the resolute expression on Owens’ face, she decided against it. She shot a last, withering look at Star and then stood. “Sir,” she said once more, clearly addressing only the captain and then quickly departed.

Owens uttered a heavy sigh just after the doors had closed behind his departing security chief.

For a moment silence reigned in his ready room which dragged on just short of becoming uncomfortable.

“This isn’t working,” he finally said.

“I’ve studied Clancy’s file very closely. He has the right set of experiences for this task. And I trust his abilities to find a way to get on with Nora.”

“I’m not talking about Clancy.”

She nodded as if knowing exactly what he meant.

“Captain,” she began and then left her seat and took a few steps towards the bulkhead, considering her next words carefully. She turned back around. “I’m trying here, sir, I really am. There is nobody on this ship who wants to make this work more than I do. There is nobody who has a bigger stake in my assignment here. No matter my past, I am a Starfleet officer and this is exactly where I want to be. And without this, without Eagle, I have nothing. I have no illusions about that. Nobody else would touch me considering my past. So I ask you, sir. What is it you want me to do? I’ll be whatever kind of officer you need me to be.”

He looked up at her expectant eyes. “You’d think you could do that?”

“I’ll do whatever it takes, sir.”

“I don’t doubt that. What I don’t believe however is that you are the kind of person who can completely and entirely dismiss her own nature and become somebody else just to accommodate others. ‘This above all: to thine ownself be true.’”

She turned away to face the bulkhead again. “If you’re right then I’m not the first officer you need.”

Michael considered her for a moment, thinking back to both Maya’s and Deen’s assessments of his controversial first officer. In a way they had both been right about her. But what he couldn’t deny was the fact that he had been anything than fair to an officer who had done nothing but try her hardest to make the best out of her second chance. “We’ve both undertaken on this journey together, Commander and we both knew that there would be bumps along the way. We’ll both learn from them and move on.”

“I don’t know if I can,” she said, still with her back to the captain. “You said it yourself, I can’t fight my nature. It took everything I had just now to keep from boiling over.”

“I understand that. And you’re not wrong. Laas was out of line.”

Star turned to face the captain, a perplexed look on her face. “Then why did you allow—“

Owens grimaced. “Because I’ve known her for a long time. Served with her for years. Because, and I’m not proud to say this, I understand her pain and anger and while it has no place in this room nor on duty for that matter, I can’t just dismiss it either because the truth is, it’s a pain I share with her,” he stood and walked over to the window to consider the majestic beauty of the Aphrodite nebula for a moment. “Nora Laas is broken and I don’t know what it will take to fix her again but I know that I’m not going to be the one to be able to do it. And I can’t give up on her either,” he said and then faced his first officer. “So you see, Commander, I need you on this ship. I need you to do the things I cannot do.”


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Old October 6 2013, 03:34 PM   #28
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

Re: Chapter 2

Wenera really droped a bombshell on Deen. The good doctor is being hard on herself over the circumstances regarding her pregnancy, yet her point is sound: Bringing a baby into the world on a ship in the middle of a war is probably not a great idea. Sounds like her replacement will be more than up for the task.
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Old October 13 2013, 10:10 PM   #29
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

– VI –


When Nora returned to her office she found much to her chagrin that Alex Clancy was still there. He stood the moment she stepped into the room but before he could say a single word she shot him an icy look which she had perfected over the years and was usually reserved for subordinates who had displeased her.

It had the intended effect on Clancy.

“You are here to assist me with my investigation and clearly there is nothing I can do about that. But before we start let’s set some ground rules. First, I’m in charge. You are merely here in an advisory capacity. You do what I tell you and nothing else. Is that clear?”

He nodded. “As crystal. You’re the principal on the investigation. The boss, the big cheese, the top dog, the bigwig, the head honcho, the Big Kahuna. I’m just a lowly foot solider following your every order,” he said with a large grin plastered on his face.

She considered him suspiciously. “I don’t even know what half those words meant but I believe I got my point across.”

“You sure did.”

She walked back to her chair and sat down behind her desk, keeping her eyes peeled on the counselor as if he might jump across the table and attack her any second.

He took his seat again. “Contrary to what you may believe, Lieutenant, I am not here to spy on your progress or further anyone else’s agenda. I just want to help you find whoever did this in any way I can. That is my one and only concern here.”

Nora hadn’t even realized how tense she had been until she felt her muscles slowly relaxing. It suddenly struck her that he was in fact quite good at what he did. Even though she had been determined not to let her guard down, he had managed to calm her with just a few well-placed words. “Alright then, Counselor, where do you suggest we start?”

“You can call me Alex if you prefer,” he said with a grin.

When her look remained frosty he seemed to realize that she clearly did not prefer that at all.

“Uh, okay. Well the good news about a crime on a starship is that our culprit cannot be far and has no means to escape. That’s making this job a lot easier for us. What we have to establish now is means, motive and opportunity. Starting with opportunity, that pretty much covers nearly the entire crew.”

She shook her head. “We can rule out the regular crew,” she said. “The killer is more than likely amongst the civilians who recently came aboard.”

“At this point we shouldn’t rule out anybody unless we can establish and alibi.”

“You’re suggesting somebody of the crew did this?”

“I’m suggesting that anyone could be the killer. You, me, the captain, at this point we don’t do ourselves any favors by excluding anyone from consideration.”

“That’s insane.”

“Maybe. But by using the process of elimination, whoever remains is likely our culprit.”

“There are somewhere near six-hundred people on this ship.”

He nodded. “So we better get started. Where were you last night?”

She gave him that look again, making it clear that she was not amused by the question. But when he didn’t back down, she actually began to consider it. “I was up late finishing up a report. Check the log if you want.”

He offered her that easy smile again. “That’s one down, 599 to go.”


* * *


“When I said that I was hoping to sign on a starship once more for some excitement and adventure, this is not exactly what I had in mind,” said Doctor Elijah Katanga as he hovered over the dead body of Lieutenant Jin Gedar. “Don’t we have enough death and killing with the Dominion on our hands? Do we have to start killing each other?”

“So you can definitely confirm then that this man was the victim of a homicide?” asked Alex Clancy who along with Nora Laas and the doctor were the only other persons in the morgue.

“Well, it’s been a few years since I’ve performed a post-mortem—“

“Wait,” said Clancy. “You’re saying you actually cut the body open?”

“Of course not, don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “We stopped doing open body autopsies a century ago. Why cut a person open when scanners can tell you all you need to know without ever touching the body.”

“Right,” he said, sounding somewhat relieved.

“Well, regardless how long it’s been,” Katanga said, “I know defensive bruising when I see it.”

Nora stepped closer to the naked corpse. She couldn’t deny that the dark-skinned Krellonian had been a handsome man. His toned physique was still evident, as were his kind face and his long silver and black hair which tended to cover his earless skull. He was ghostly pale now of course and cold as stone. She couldn’t immediately see any form of bruising on his skin until Katanga activated an ultraviolet light which revealed a whole pattern of sub-dermal damage underneath the skin.

Nora had seen many dead bodies in her various lives, as a resistance fighter, as a Marine, as a Starfleet security officer, different to murder, death was nothing knew to her.

She noticed with some satisfaction that Clancy apparently couldn’t quite say the same. He seemed to keep himself as far away as possible to the slab containing the corpse. “Lieutenant, do you see all these bruises?” she said.

“Uh, yeah.”

She turned around and noticed that he was making every effort not to look at Gedar’s body. “Really? Because you’re standing all the way over there and I don’t really think you can get a good look at things from there.”

“I’m seeing just fine, thank you very much.”

She smirked. “I thought you had experience with this kind of thing?”

Clancy looked her straight in the eye. “Doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with dead bodies.”

“He won’t bite, son,” said Katanga.

Clancy took a deep breath but whatever courage this was supposed to have given him wasn’t quite enough to step closer. If anything he only gagged slightly at the smell of death which apparently even the advanced sterilization field in the morgue couldn’t quite neutralize.

“So let me get this straight,” said the security chief, crossing her arms below her chest. “Star thinks you are some sort of expert in homicide investigations and yet you can’t stand looking at a dead body.”

He frowned at that. “I never said I was an expert. I said I had some experience. As a counselor. You know what you do as a counselor, Lieutenant? You speak to people. And they tend to be alive when you talk to them.”

Nora and Katanga exchanged a bemused look. “I don’t think the man has the stomach for this kind of work,” said the security chief.

“He should consider himself lucky we didn’t cut him open then,” the doctor said. “Would have made an incision right here along his sternum,” he added and then drew an imaginary line across the dead man’s chest. “With all those organs crammed in there so tightly, it’s a real mess, I tell you.”

“If you … eh … excuse me a moment,” Clancy said. “I’ll be right outside.” And then he practically ran out of the morgue.

Nora Laas threw the man a cheeky grin. “You’re a wicked man, Doctor, I like it.”

“What’s the point of being a physician if you cannot scare off the squeamish from time to time?”

Nora laughed.

“Back to the less amusing dead body in front of us,” he said, his face as stern and serious as ever.

“Of course,” she said, her humor suddenly gone as she focused on the many bruises on Gedar’s body. “This must’ve been one hell of a fight.”

But Katanga shook his head. “Most of the bruises are not recent.”

She looked up at him with a surprised look. “He got those before last night? How?”

The doctor produced a padd. “According to his medical file, he was bruised after an accident in engineering two weeks ago.”

“These don’t look like they’re from an accident.”

Katanga nodded. “I’d have to agree. But that’s what was recorded in the official log.”

“Recorded by whom?”

Katanga appeared uncomfortable revealing that information.

“By whom, Doctor?” she said again, this time more insistent.

“Doctor Wenera,” he said hesitantly.

Nora looked back down at the body. The bruises, now mostly dark patches around his shoulder, chest and arms looked as if they had been quite painful. “Wenera,” she mouthed silently.

“Now, listen here, young lady, I’ve known Jane for a long time and if you are implying that she’s done anything improper—“

But Nora held up a hand. “I’m not implying anything. And she’s certainly not a suspect. She left the ship long before the time of death, correct?”

Katanga nodded. “That is right. TOD is around 2345, give or take 15 minutes. Unfortunately I cannot be more accurate. We don’t exactly have a wealth of information on Krellonian physiology in our databanks.”

“But you said that some of the bruising is recent?”

“Yes,” the doctor confirmed and lifted one of his lifeless arms. “Around the hands and wrists. It doesn’t tell us much except that there must have been a struggle before he fell.”

“Which means we’re definitely dealing with murder,” she said and studied the bruising up close.

Katanga nodded.

Nora stood back up. “Thank you, Doctor. Please let me know if you find anything else which might be relevant to the investigation,” she said. “I better go and find Clancy. I suppose I have to fill him in.”

“You’ll have a full report within a couple of hours.”

She gave him a final nod and headed for the doors.

“And Lieutenant.”

Nora stopped and turned to face him again shy of reaching the doors.

“I’ve seen and done a lot of things during my long career in Starfleet. Both beautiful and horrible things alike. But I don’t think there is anything worse than the willful murder of another person in cold blood. Do me a favor and find whatever bastard did this.”

“You’ve got my word.”


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Old October 19 2013, 07:36 PM   #30
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

– VII –


“And you are absolutely certain about this?” asked Tazla Star while she paced Doctor Katanga’s office.

“Absolutely.”

“No chance this could have been an accident or perhaps even a suicide?” she continued as she kept moving, clearly deep in thought while assimilating the information Katanga had given her on his findings after completing his post-mortem on Lieutenant Gedar.

“Well, there is of course always a chance but I’m fairly convinced that his injuries were sustained during a brief struggle, implying that he did not go down that shaft voluntarily or accidently.”

“Interesting. And you’re sure about time of death?”

“I put all this in my report to Lieutenant Nora, Taz, why are you quizzing me on this?”

She shot him a quick look. “Nora and I have a thing.”

“A thing? What does that mean? She’s your subordinate, isn’t she? You’re the first officer for Christ’s sake.”

“Look, it’s complicated, alright?”

He massaged his forehead in frustration. “I’m beginning to sense a lot of thing are rather complicated on this ship.”

She stopped and stepped up to his desk. “Don’t tell me you’re already regretting leaving your comfy old post on Earth for the rough and tumble world of a starship.”

“To be honest, I could’ve done without a murder on my first day,” he responded in a deadpan.

She nodded to that but her mind seemed to be going off again at warp speed as her gaze drifted towards empty space.

“I know I’m going to regret asking this,” he said, “but what’s on your mind?”

She didn’t respond right away but her eyes slowly found his again. “You remember my theory?”

“Ah yes, the spy,” he said. “Wait a minute, you think your mystery person is responsible for this?”

“Makes a certain amount of sense, don’t you think? Maybe Gedar found out about the spy’s identity or got to close to learning the truth.”

Katanga didn’t look convinced. “And he goes ahead and kills him in such a manner which kicks off a ship-wide hunt for a murderer?” he said. “Not a very good spy if you ask me.”

Star shrugged. “Maybe it wasn’t planned like that. Maybe something went wrong. Maybe he or she didn’t expect a fight.”

“A lot of maybes. But let’s assume you’re right. Don’t you think you should share your suspicions this with our security chief who is investigating the Gedar’s death?”

She gave him a look as if he had lost his mind.

“Right, I forgot, you two have a thing,” he said and uttered a heavy sigh.

Before the Trill could say anything further on this, the room shook suddenly and enough to cause pieces of equipment to fall onto the floor.

Katanga managed to snatch a tricorder before it dropped off his desk. “Something else I didn’t miss about starships,” he said. “What is it now? More turbulence caused by this nebula?”

But Star shook hear head right away. “No, this is something else.”

As if to be proven right, the red alert klaxons came to life just then, alerting the crew to imminent danger.

She tapped her combadge. “Star to bridge, what’s happening?”

Lieutenant Lance Stanmore responded. “We have detected a massive plasma overload in the starboard EPS manifold, Commander. It’s threatening to reach critical levels. If it does it could lead to sever hull damage and we might lose shields.”

“Have you been able to localize the source?”

“It’s coming from EPS sub-station three alpha on deck thirteen, section nine.”

Star had since memorized Eagle’s deck layout so she immediately knew where the problem was coming from. “That’s right below us.”

Katanga’s eyes went wide.

“Lieutenant, I’ll be heading their now. Inform the captain and have Damage Control meet me there.”

“Star, this is Owens, I just got to the bridge,” the captain said. “Let Damage Control handle this.”

Tazla Star looked frustrated and she bit her lip just before she shot back: “Understood, sir, Star out,” she said, closed the channel and turned towards the doors.

“Where are you going? Didn’t he just tell you to—¬“

“It’s right below us, Eli. I can get there before Damage Control. Unless you’d prefer to get your floor blown out from under your feet,” she said and was already out of the door by the time she had finished.

The doctor uttered another sigh. “’Join a starship, Eli,’ she said. ‘See the galaxy,’ she said. ‘Never a dull moment.’ Yeah, she got that one right,” he mumbled before he started to pick up the equipment strewn across the floor. “I’m getting too old for this.”

The turbolift was down the corridor so the better option was the Jeffries tube access panel just opposite from sickbay. She took a knee, unceremoniously removed the cover and slipped inside.

She could feel he heat immediately and understood this to be a bad sign. Starship bulkheads were made out of a duranium polymer which was near indestructible. If she could feel the heat through a number of layers of duranium, there had to be a fire already.

The ladder to reach the deck below was just a short crawl away and upon reaching it she quickly slid down. She crawled a few more meters and then blew out another access cover with her boots.

She got out onto corridor right next to the EPS sub-station. A clearly dazed crewmember was sitting up against the bulkhead, her face and hair dirty from soot and burn marks.

“Lieutenant Smith,” Star said as he approached, recognizing the engineering officer. “What happened?”

The woman looked up but appeared as if she hadn’t understood the question.

Star pointed at the closed doors of the sub-station. Everything looked normal from the outside, but judging from Smith’s appearance and the red alert strobes in the corridor, things were bad inside.

“I … I’m not sure.”

“Anyone else still in there?”

She shook her head slightly.

It was a frustratingly slow response considering the circumstances. She quickly decided that the woman wouldn’t be of much assistance. She looked down the corridor and when she could found nobody from the Damage Control team, she decided to have a look herself.

Kate Smith decided to speak up then. “You … you can’t go in there,” she said. “We … we have to evacuate … evacuate the deck. The overload is building up … catastrophic levels.”

Star looked back at her. “Go ahead and evacuate,” she said and turned back towards the doors which of course didn’t open, the computer having them sealed shut after detecting the emergency. Star found the manual release hidden within the bulkhead beside it. But the doors still didn’t budge, not until she removed a manual override tool, slapping it onto the door and began to pull the panels apart.

She got it open just wide enough to slip through.

Inside she found an inferno in the making.

Hot, green flames had engulfed much of the exposed EPS conduit which transported ultra-hot plasma from the warp core to various other systems across the ship. Something had happened to interrupt that flow which had caused the overload and the resulting fire. Star knew enough about engineering to realize that if something wasn’t done quickly, the entire conduit would blow and with hit, destroy a huge chunk of Eagle along with it. Not to mention her and dozens of other crewmembers.

And perhaps even worse yet, according to Stanmore, this particular station regulated power flow to the main shields. And if they went down they’d be completely exposed to the fatal radiation of the nebula.

The heat was unbearable and her skin had almost instantly broken out in a heavy sweat and in a futile effort to cool it.

She quickly stripped out of her jacket and red shirt and then brought up an arm to cover her mouth and nose to try and keep from breathing in too many of those noxious fumes saturated in the rapidly thinning air.

Her eyes already stung and tears were streaming down her face but there was little she could do about that. Instead she stepped further into the room, desperately trying to remember the exact layout for the controls to tackle such an emergency.

She quickly came to the conclusion that she had two options. Find the fire suppression system which for whatever reason had failed and contain the plasma fires or find the emergency EPS shut-down to deal with the overload.

The fires were bad, the overload was potentially far worse.

After she found the first two consoles she looked at completely destroyed or partially melted, she came across a third station which thankfully was still functional.

She nearly burned her fingers when she tried to touch the control surfaces.

Of course he had no other choice and hit those panels as quickly as she could. The next ten seconds felt like minutes, with the heat bearing down on her and robbing her of air and strength. Then the panels finally turned from bright red to soothing green and when she looked up, through blurry eyes, she could see that the plasma within the conduit was receding.

Too bad the fire still had enough fuel to burn her alive.

She was determined not to stick around for that, turned towards the exit and high-tailed it out of there.

Out in the corridor she dropped on her hands and knees when her strength had finally given out, coughing hard and eagerly sucking up non-toxic air.

The Damage Control team came sprinting down the corridor with their firefighting equipment just as she got back on her feet. Kate Smith was nowhere to be seen.

Star pointed a thumb over her shoulder. “I’ve left you with the clean up,” she said and turned away from the surprised members of the Damage Control team. She couldn’t keep a large smirk in check as she walked off. Yes, she had come close to be burnt to a crisp but then what was life without a little challenge now and then?


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