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Old March 14 2014, 10:13 PM   #91
CeJay
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

- IV -



“Commander Star, please report to sickbay.”

Tazla had been dreading this moment. Ever since Katanga had confronted her in the turbolift a few days earlier after having found out about her substance abuse she had known that she wouldn’t be able to avoid it. He had given her some leeway to try and deal with this situation herself but now that their latest crisis was concluded, he had decided that he had waited long enough.

She wasn’t exactly sure how she was going to play it. There hadn’t really been much time to think about the issue with everything that had been going on. Perhaps subconsciously she had hoped that her old friend would simply let the matter slide, continue the status quo unchallenged. It had been nothing more than a fantasy.

So in the end all she could do was take a deep breath and head for sickbay, hoping she could find a way to talk Katanga out of reporting her condition. She had only just made inroads both with the captain and, surprisingly, Nora Laas, and for the first time since coming aboard the ship she was beginning to feel like she really was the first officer. For the first time in a long time she felt as if she belonged and she liked feeling that way. Katanga could take all that away in a heartbeat.

She entered sickbay and found the room still busy with patients from the beating they had taken inside the nebula. Ensign Serena was among the patients and Star smiled when she saw her awake and seemingly well, chatting excitingly with another officer. When she noticed that it was Lieutenant Lance Stanmore that smile dropped from her face and she stepped closer.

“Commander,” Srena said and quickly sat up straighter on the bio bed.

Stanmore stood from where he had been sitting. “Sir.”

She considered the two young officers for a moment before she focused on the Andorian. “How are you feeling, Ensign?”

“Pretty well considering the circumstances,” she said. “Doc says I should be able to return to my quarters tomorrow.” When she noticed that the first officer was considering her visitor she quickly continued. “Uh, the lieutenant just stopped by to fill me in on what happened while I was out.”

“Sure he did,” she said.

“Perhaps I’ll better catch you up later,” said Stanmore. “Commander,” he added and then left sickbay in a hurry.

Star stepped up next to the bed instead. “You did good work, Ensign. I can’t wait to read your report.”

“Thanks, Commander. Just wish I hadn’t been caught off guard by those Vulcans or whatever they were.”

“From what I’ve heard they were pretty powerful aliens. You might not have been able to fight them off even if you had been prepared.”

But the Andorian refused to have that change her mind.

Star put a hand on her shoulder. “You did excellent work on your analysis. Commander Xylion has already asked for you to spend some extra time in the lab with him to hone those skills further.”

“Really?” she said and smirked. “I’d love that.”

“Stow that enthusiasm until you realize what the extra work load will mean. You won’t have much time left for extracurricular activities,” she said and shot a brief glance towards the doors which Stanmore had used moments before.

Srena nodded. “I understand. No distractions.”

The Trill looked the young woman over for a moment. “Perhaps just a tiny bit of distractions,” she said with a smirk, holding her finger and thumb an inch apart.

The Andorian returned the smile.

She patted her shoulder again. “Now get some rest. I expect to have that report as soon as they let you get out of here.”

“Yes, sir.”

Star turned and headed for the CMO’s office at the far end of sickbay, bracing herself for a much more difficult and painful conversation. She froze when she reached the doorstep, immediately realizing that this was going to be far worse than she had anticipated.

“Ah, Commander,” said Captain Michael Owens who stood on the opposite side of Katanga’s desk and had turned towards her when she had appeared. “There you are.”

“Captain,” she said carefully and then glanced at Katanga behind his desk, trying hard to keep her face free from showing her feelings of hurt and betrayal which had gripped her suddenly. She had expected to having to face him regarding her drug problem, but she hadn’t thought that he’d go to the captain with it.

“We were just talking about you,” Owens said.

Star nodded but said nothing, trying to come up with a defense for her actions on the spot. One which would not end up with her spending the rest of her career in the stockade. She had been there once and sworn never to return. Now she wasn’t so sure if she could keep her own promise.

“The good doctor just regaled me with some interesting stories of your former host Dezwin. I can see now where you get your drive from,” said the captain.

“Actually we probably have to thank Lersus, my third host for that,” she said after a moment. “The man was nothing but an adrenaline junkie. Compared to him I’m a meek little Tarkalean sheep.”

“Meek, right,” said Katanga. “Just the word I’d think of when we’re talking about you.”

Owens smirked at that. “Don’t sell yourself short, Commander. I know we’ve had our problems but you’ve done a hell of a job to prove to me once and for all that we didn’t make a mistake in keeping you here. That you belong in that uniform and on this ship.”

“Is that what you do with all your new officers, Captain?” said Katanga, sounding like his feisty self. “Make them jump through various hoops until you are satisfied that they can jump high enough? Makes me wonder what you have in store for me exactly.”

Owens frowned at the other man. It didn’t last. “Whatever it takes to ensure you wear the complete uniform, Doctor,” he said, noticing that the man was still stubbornly refusing to wear the gray and black jacket.

“Let’s make a deal,” said Katanga. “I’ll make sure I look like a prim and proper little soldier when I’m up on that bridge sitting in that chair right next to yours. But when I’m down here you let me wear whatever the hell I please.”

“I suppose I can live with that.”

Katanga smirked and looked at Star who still stood near the door. “See and you said he was difficult.”

Owens regarded his first officer. “Did you now?”

She shook her head ever so slightly. “I don’t believe those were my exact words, sir.”

He stepped up to her and offered a smile. “Relax, Commander. You look like a first year cadet in the commandant’s office.”

“Can we assume that is a situation you are fairly familiar with, Captain?” said Katanga, leaning back in his chair with a wide grin decorating his dark face.

Owens glanced back at the man. “Keep an eye on that ice your treading on, Doctor, it may thin quicker than you thought,” he said but his playful tone gave proof he wasn’t being entirely serious.

“You’re looking at a man who has made a career out of walking on thin ice.”

“Sir, you wanted to see me,” said Star, unwilling to delay the inevitable any longer.

Owens regarded her again and then threw a thumb over his shoulder. “That was the doctor. I was just in the neighborhood and I thought I’d tell you what a good job you’ve been doing.”

She cringed slightly when he realized that those had been almost the exact same words she had offered to Srena minutes before. What went around.

“How about we have breakfast tomorrow morning in my quarters and we can have a chat about your future role on this ship?” he said and then looked back at Katanga. “You are also invited, of course.”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said.

“I’ll be there, sir.”

“Excellent, then. Carry on,” he said and then left the room, leaving Star and Katanga behind.

The first officer visibly relaxed her shoulders the moment he had disappeared and then looked at the man sitting at the desk. “You didn’t tell him?”

He shook his head. “Tazla Dezwin Sigus Star,” he said in an admonishing tone. “What kind of monster do you think I am?”

She smirked a little. “You know just Taz will do,” she said and then sat in the empty chair facing his desk. “And I’m sorry I couldn’t help but fear the worst when I saw him in here and after that little chat we had the other day.”

“There is something called doctor-patient confidentiality which I happen to take very seriously,” he said. “I won’t tell a soul about you condition.”

She exhaled. “Thank you, I really mean it.”

“Under one condition.”

Her features hardened. “You are blackmailing me?”

Katanga stood and walked over to her side of the desk, shaking his head slightly. “I’m worried, Taz. You are showing all the symptoms of yridium tricantizine addiction. Besides the fact that this drug is causing significant damage to your mind and body, you will simply not be able to keep it a secret for much longer. And when it comes out, your career will be over.”

“I know that.”

“Then we have to do something about it.”

She shook her head. “I already tried. There is no cure. I tried hyperzine for a while but it didn’t work.”

“Here’s what’s going to happen,” he said and looked straight into her eyes. “You are going to tell me everything that has happened that led you to this point and this addiction. You’ll tell me everything you’ve ever taken, the dosages, the drugs, what times and what the effects were exactly. We’re going to go through this step by step if we have to and then we are going to start thinking about beating this thing. I’d be lying to you if I said it’d be easy, quick or painless but it is possible. But I will need your full commitment to this. Nothing else will do.”

“And you think we can do it without anyone else finding out?”

“We sure are going to try.”

She took a deep breath, considering for a moment what was at stake. Her assignment on Eagle, her career, her life, really. After all besides Starfleet she had nothing. Never taken the time to build a life away from it. And it had taken her a long time to get to a point where she actually cared for herself and those people around her again. Where she wanted to keep what she had fought so hard to achieve. She understood something then and there. Sometimes you had to fight with tooth and nail to hang on to what you had. And sometimes fighting for the one thing that really mattered meant much more than picking up a phaser and battle a terrifying enemy. She smirked at that while she arrived at a seemingly obvious conclusion. Her worst enemy had always been herself for as long as she could remember.

Tazla Star looked up at her old friend. “When do we start?”
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Old March 14 2014, 10:25 PM   #92
CeJay
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Re: The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze

This concludes The Star Eagle Adventures V: Shadows in the Haze. Thanks for reading.

Shadows in the Haze is now also available in a slightly revised version as an ebook (epub/mobi/PDF) at StarEagleAdventures.com.


theonering wrote: View Post
Great story as always CeJay! I really enjoyed the addition of Lt. Clancy and the interplay between him and Nora in this "episode" as well. I hope you end up keeping him in the ensemble and he's not just a one off character.
Thank you very much for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed the novel. Writing a murder mystery was a lot of fun to try my hand at and I hope it kept readers guessing. As for Clancy, he's part of the crew so it is very possible that he may appear again. Most likely in the vicinity of a certain Bajoran security chief. However, don't expect another Star Eagle novel for a while as I recharge my batteries and the series goes on hiatus.
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