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Old December 14 2009, 03:57 PM   #346
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

Oh, Gibraltar, if only Maren had been thinking that way ... she's going to have to start thinking that way (or at least pretend to start thinking that way) pretty quickly, but I guarantee you some badass notion of taking prisoners and gaining intelligence was the furthest thing from her mind in that moment. (Not to mention that without Telek's intervention, she would have just died pointlessly and had her body fried by radiation minutes later.) So I'm not sure she's getting any prizes out of this -- what you are nicely calling gutsy, some might call incredibly foolish. That it somehow worked out is the only saving grace in all of this ....

And yeah, John somehow managed not to get himself demoted to Ensign there ... he's trying hard. Poor guy. I think right about now he's wishing he'd just stayed on the Titan, which offered him plenty of adventure with none of the emotional baggage.

Icheb's "new friends," I guess we're calling them now, are definitely ready to play hardball. We'll see what that means ... thanks for the great review!
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Old December 15 2009, 07:46 PM   #347
mirandafave
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

From Ad Astra:

And just when you think things can't get worse - the Admiral shows up! Hee hee. Mind the Admiral might just be of help and afterall he wants to preserve his own ass too. So I'll try and think the better of him. Adele should to - or at least give him a chance to see what value he turns out to be. I guess with Berkley it is all dependent upon his own agenda.

John showing deepening concern and Maren tries her best nonchalant stance but I think she might understand the headache she has caused for the captain down the line. It remains interesting to see how that all pans out.

In addition, Icheb's condition and prognosis are somewhat confirmed. He is in a bad place in more ways than one. Hardball indeed. Maybe the ship's saviours might prove to be the Good Samaritan they purport. I doubt it somehow. There's bound to be more to it. But Icheb's stubbornness knows just when to kick in - namely at the end of the chapter so we can't discover more. Grrr.
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Old December 16 2009, 01:09 AM   #348
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

Hey, MirandaFave! Thanks for the review! Like I said at Ad Astra ... We'll see how the admiral handles this. He probably does have the same healthy sense of self-preservation as everyone else!

If you think John is a wreck now, wait until he finds out his best friend went missing while he was down in engineering worrying over Maren.

As far as Maren goes, yeah, she has an idea this could all be problematic ....

With regard to Icheb's situation, I could possibly rename this story Icheb and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and it would work. Except it's gone on way longer than a day. (Actually, you could insert Adele's or Maren's name there, too, and it would still work.) Icheb's "new friends" may be able to help him, but at what price?

Oh, and I have to laugh at the comment about Icheb's stubbornness knowing when to kick in ... his motto is pretty much, "You can't make me," isn't it? He's compliant and helpful as long as it's his choice, but you can't really force him to do much, as Seven found out repeatedly on VOY. Surprise, the stubborn kid turned into a stubborn adult.
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Old December 17 2009, 11:02 PM   #349
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been away due to family/holiday crazy and the whole ship is going nuts !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm jumping up and down in my seat while catching up - I whooped when the Borg ship blew up - my officemates are wishing they were doing what I'm doing!!!

ok - I'm calm now.

Great Work KES7 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

oh my oh my oh my oh my!!!!
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Old December 19 2009, 08:53 PM   #350
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

Oldest Red Shirt Ever, thank you! I'm so glad you got back to the story (and the boards ... didn't see you around and was wondering what had happened to you!). The ship has indeed gotten a little crazy. I hope you didn't get in trouble for whooping it up at work! That's pretty high praise, I'm very flattered!

Without further delay ... here comes some more. This next chapter might be the last one before a short break for Christmas. It will depend on how crazy things get around kes7's house.
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Old December 19 2009, 08:53 PM   #351
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

CHAPTER FORTY

Ensign Matthew Dean had seen some interesting things in the two years since he had graduated Starfleet Academy, but nothing he had seen up to this point was as fascinating or eerie as the four Borg drones lying behind a level ten force field in the brig of the USS Tesseract. He had seen holographic representations before, and they were pretty realistic, enough to scare you pretty badly during tactical simulations. But the drones lying in separate cells just a couple of meters away from him were the real thing. One was dead, or at least he was pretty sure it was. One, he was calling “Brain” because, well, he could see it, and if he didn’t turn it into some kind of joke, he might throw up. The other two were just out cold.

This hadn’t been covered in the tactical simulations -- what to do with a bunch of unconscious Borg drones. He had called medical for the drones, but sickbay was apparently slammed with patients and he had been waiting for a doctor to show up for several minutes. As he waited, he sat behind the computer console in the brig, watching tactical and systems updates flash by on the screen, and eyeing the motionless Borg with wary interest. He was really too young to remember much about the Battles of Sector 001 or Wolf 359, so everything he knew about the Borg had been learned from his classes at school, and the memories of those a bit older than him who had seen it firsthand. He was surprised at how small the drones actually were. For some reason, he had always thought of them as larger than an average humanoid, but then again, he had seen the ship’s ex-Borg first officer walking around and he looked normal enough.

As he gazed idly at the console display, a security report marked PRIORITY ONE caught his attention, but as he reached out to freeze the display, John Quigley stormed into the brig, looking pale and stressed out and more than a little bit angry. He was carrying the top half of his tactical armor and his helmet under one arm, and as he walked in, he threw it all into a corner to be dealt with later. Matt could see the tactical gear was streaked with blood, and John’s hands were a mess, as well.

“Have you called medical for these prisoners?” John asked as he walked over to the small lavatory and started wash his hands in the sonic sink.

“Yes, sir, they’re on their way, supposedly. I guess sickbay is kind of slammed right now. ”

John looked perplexed for a moment, then a look of understanding crossed his face. “People must have gotten hurt when the ship rocked. What caused that, anyway?”

“An explosion on the Borg cube, sir. The tactical reports are all here,” he said, indicating the console.

“Thanks, Matt,” John answered distractedly. Matt noticed that John’s hands were clean now, but he still held them in the sonic sink, staring at them with an odd expression on his face. Matt suddenly wondered if he was all right. John was normally a friendly, easygoing guy, but his entire demeanor had changed the moment they’d arrived outside engineering. Rumor had it he and the chief engineer had something going on, and nothing that Matt had seen this morning had done anything to dispel that notion. He hoped the engineer would be okay, as much for John’s sake as for hers. The lieutenant looked pretty shaken.

Matt looked back at the console display and brought up the priority one advisory. His eyes widened as he read the report. “Sir, there’s something here you should probably see,” Matt told John. John glanced over, then looked back down at his hands and seemed to shake himself out of his fog.

“What is it?” he asked, walking over to Matt and leaning over his shoulder to view the display.

“A priority one security advisory. The first officer is being held hostage.” John looked at Matt sharply and gently pushed him aside, leaning forward to get a better look. He read it first quickly, then again more carefully, staring at each word in stunned disbelief.

Fuck,” he exclaimed under his breath, bringing his hand down hard on the console. “You’re in charge here until further notice, Ensign,” he said. “I’ll be in sickbay.”

*****

Adele and Admiral Beckley walked into the brig just moments after John had left, and the ensign on duty snapped to attention so hard Adele wondered if he would be sore the next morning.

“At ease,” the two superior officers said in unison. Adele exchanged a glance with the admiral, who smiled at her. Blank. Creepy. No emotion. She forced herself to smile back.

“Explain what we have here, Ensign,” Adele requested.

Matt glanced at the four occupied cells. “Four Borg drones. One appears to be dead, another is seriously injured, and two are unconscious. Medical has been called, they’re sending someone now. They’re behind a level ten forcefield, a strong dampening field, and according to Lieutenant Telek in engineering, their neural transceivers have been temporarily disabled by a Kedion pulse, sir.”

So that’s what O’Connor was up to, Adele thought. Icheb’s cortical monitor must have given her the idea. Suddenly, she froze. All at once, her mind made several connections, and she realized she might have a very, very large problem on her hands. There was no way to be sure without talking to Maren directly, but Adele suddenly had a sneaking suspicion that her chief engineer might have been trying to save more than just the ship.

“When can we question them?” asked Admiral Beckley, who hadn’t taken his eyes off the drones.

“You’ll have to consult medical about that, sir. I have no idea how to wake them up, and with all due respect, I don’t feel comfortable trying,” Matt answered.

“I suppose that could be a good way to get yourself assimilated,” the admiral conceded, a little flippantly.

Matt nodded solemnly in reply and eyed the drones warily. “Medical should be here any time now, you can ask the doctor.”

“I’ll do that,” Beckley replied.

Adele saw her opportunity and took it. “Admiral, if you wouldn’t mind waiting alone for medical, I’d like to run up to sickbay myself and check on my chief engineer. She was injured after the drones beamed aboard.”

The admiral looked at her, his expression as unreadable as his emotions -- if he has any, Adele thought wryly. “I’m sorry to hear that, Captain,” he said, sounding reasonably sincere. “She gave me a fascinating tour of engineering just this morning. Please tell her I hope she recovers soon.” Adele resisted the urge to shudder at the void of emotion coming from the man.

“I’ll be sure to do that, sir,” she replied, and took one last long look at the unconscious drones before heading for sickbay.

*****

John took a deep breath as he surveyed the chaotic scene in front of him. Sickbay was packed. There were at least two dozen crewmen inside, all being treated for minor injuries suffered when the ship had been rocked by the explosion on the Borg cube. He stood in the doorway, scanning the room until he saw Maren lying on a biobed in a comparatively quiet corner, tucked away behind a small partition. No one was with her, but there was a diagnostic arch over her head and it looked like she was unconscious again. Someone had cleaned most of the blood off her face, but her blonde hair was still streaked with it. With all of the medical staff busy, there was no one to prevent him from going over to her, so he did.

“Maren?” he whispered, taking her hand. She didn’t answer. She was out cold -- probably sedated, he thought. There was no way he was leaving her to find out the news from someone else when she woke up, so he grabbed a nearby visitors chair, pulled it close to the bed and sat down, watching her breathe as he held onto her hand and tried to figure out how to tell her Icheb was missing.

“How did you get back here?” a voice said from behind him. He turned around in his chair to see Sheila Duggal, the doctor Maren had been working with a few nights before.

“By walking,” John answered truthfully. He knew he probably sounded like a smartass, but he didn’t much care.

Sheila gave him a look of irritation mixed with sympathy. “You’re not supposed to be in here. I can let you know when we move her to a real room or release her to her quarters.”

John looked at the tiny, dark-haired doctor with a tired expression. “I’m not leaving. Call security if you feel like it, but they’re kind of tied up right now.”

Sheila looked at him for a moment, sighed, and briefly placed a comforting hand on his shoulder before turning her attention to the scanning arch. John figured that meant she wasn’t calling security. “Thanks,” he said quietly.

She glanced at him. “No problem,” she replied.

“Is she okay?” John asked, as Sheila checked the monitors.

Sheila nodded. “She should be. We’ll need to watch her for a couple of days to make sure the swelling goes down, but Doctor Bashir was able to stop the bleeding in her brain pretty quickly. She got hit really hard; do you know how it happened?”

John shook his head. “I’m not totally sure. I think she got thrown by one of the drones, but I didn’t see it happen.”

“Well, between the head injury and the hangover, she’ll have a hell of a headache, but we can treat that,” Sheila told him.

John smiled wryly at the mention of the hangover. “She definitely partied a little too hard last night,” he said.

“Fire water?” Sheila asked. John nodded, looking surprised. “Yeah, we had quite a few people in here early this morning trying to get that out of their systems,” Sheila explained. “And now, this happens,” she added, gesturing toward the packed sickbay. “Busy day so far. And apparently it’s about to get worse.”

“What do you mean?”

“One of the drones is being transported here. It’s got a worse head injury than Maren, but it’s alive. I guess we’re going to try and treat it.”

John nodded. He didn’t have much to say to that. He returned his gaze to his unconscious friend and tightened his grip on her hand.

“Have you ever told her how you feel about her?” Sheila asked curiously, as she saw the expression on his face as he looked at her. John looked up like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“We’re friends,” he insisted.

Sheila rolled her eyes skeptically. “Sure you are.”

*****

Admiral Beckley stared at the drones in their separate cells with quiet anticipation. Part of the Tesseract mission was to determine the status of the Borg Collective, and now, they had three of its members alive and in captivity. If he had believed in such a thing as luck, he would have felt like it had shined on them today.

For the moment, he was glad the Borg were unconscious. It gave him time to consider the options. He wondered if this was what the young engineer he had met this morning had had in mind when she had done whatever she did to neutralize them, instead of killing them. Somehow, he doubted it. She didn’t seem like the tactically-minded type, she was too much of a scientist.

As he recalled his one and only interaction with Maren O’Connor, he couldn’t help but think of the way she had behaved around Commander Icheb, and suddenly, an intriguing question entered his mind. What if, due to the nature of her relationship with the exec, she sees these drones as something other than a faceless enemy? She was just young enough, he realized, that the similarly young ex-drone exec may very well have been her only exposure to the Collective beyond what she had learned in school. He raised his eyebrows as he considered the implications of that.

He watched quietly as the Vulcan doctor, Sarik, set up a site-to-site transport to sickbay for himself and the badly injured drone, whose injuries he had quickly determined were too severe to be treated with the medkit. The other two live drones had been given some sort of treatment for their neural shock, but had not yet regained consciousness. Admiral Beckley waited patiently, and as he did, he contemplated the situation with the first officer.

Who would have technology sophisticated enough to neutralize both the best of Federation technology and the Borg Collective, and what would they want with Commander Icheb? More to the point, he wondered, why would they think we would risk the safety of everyone on this ship just to get him back? His best guess was that they didn’t expect that. Then what do they want? He didn’t have any answers yet, but he was fairly certain that the drones might.
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Old December 20 2009, 02:22 AM   #352
tenmei
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

Ooooh. Me likey - a nice character interlude, so to speak, with Beckley up to his dirty tricks once again.
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Old December 20 2009, 02:46 AM   #353
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

Fubba wubba!
Well words sorta fail me as this chapter kicks up the gurgling excitement in my gut as to what this is leading up to. And if the Admiral is at a loss as to what is going on then I am certainly at a loss. This is one terrific piece of story-telling.
Here we have emotion and changing scenes zipping pass at breakneck speeds and the urgency and immediacy of the chapter just hooks you in. I don't know why it all feels so urgent ... but it does! And that makes me nervous for some reason.
You reveal and hold back things and it is EXTREMELY effective at keeping the reader on tender-hooks. I swear this tale comes with a secret supply if ketrecel white to get us addicted. Super stuff kes7.
Like the different POVs we get, the ensign's being a nice start to the whole thing and the Admiral's a terrific reward for the reader at the end.
Now, has Icheb just been laying about? And what was Maren thinking?
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Old December 20 2009, 12:56 PM   #354
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

This chapter gives us a brief respite between the previous action and whatever waits in store for the crew when they finally meet Icheb’s captors. John has a chance to catch his breath, but soon discovers that Icheb has been abducted right on the heels of Maren’s injuries. I’m sure this will turn his guilt over the kiss with Maren into a tangled ball of angst and regret as he contemplates what might transpire if they are unable to retrieve Icheb.

Adele is unfortunate enough to have Beckley nipping at her heels, and takes her first opportunity to ditch him in the brig. Whatever his reasons for being there, Beckley’s presence is disruptive to the smooth operation of the senior staff (as I’m sure he knows) as various personnel are constantly looking over their shoulders and second-guessing themselves when he’s around. Not to mention that he just plain gives Captain Oyugo the creeps.

These were some terrific character moments right in the placid eye of the storm. Soon, the other eye-wall will threaten to sweep them right back into the chaos.
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Old December 20 2009, 09:00 PM   #355
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

Kes 7!
Another terrific chapter. A couple comments, the first of which I've been meaning to say for a while.

John Q is ... hot. Maybe I'm projecting, but then, that's part of what good writing does to/for you---provides a compelling framework with enough space for the reader to flesh out, as it were. As with all the characters, you've taken your time with John. He's a good guy, impetuous but a nurturer, though he might not realize it as such. The image of him sitting in sickbay, holding Maren's hand (and isn't he on duty? shouldn't he be checking in with someone?), in half his security gear, hair probably all tussled, and looking like he's scared he's about to lose his whole world... Like I said: compelling. Man, between the brooding/simmering/techno-exotic-cyborg/genius/hot-geek, Icheb, and the affable/handsome (there I am projecting on to the fellow)/stalwart/boy-next-door/ tactical-jock, John, poor Maren is in some serious trouble. How does she concentrate?! HAH! Our young, emotionally vulnerable chief engineer never had a chance.

And second: I feel so sorry for those Borg in the brig. The Admiral is curious! Beckley's curiosity feels soooo appetitive, mind-hungry. (Reminds me of the Borg, actually, with a dash of malice.) I imagine Beckley interrogating the hapless drones, a small smile tugging at his lips, as he matter-of-factly informs them, "Resistance is futile." Beckley, I suspect, is a man fluent in the language of irony.

Thanks, again, K7. That was a fun read. More please!
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Old December 21 2009, 12:38 AM   #356
CaptainSarine
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

As usual kes, you've provided us with a fantastic installment in the story of the USS Tesseract! You have painted a fantastic picture of the aftermath of this Borg attack, switching and swapping POVs like a maestro as you go, and upping the tension of this whole storyline as well.

I loved the intro to our young security officer at the beginning, a rounding out of this crew that I've always thought you do really well. A few short strokes, but we feel straight away who this guy is. A nice touch using this POV to intro John and then sucker punch him with news of Icheb.

As Gibraltar said above, the news of Icheb's dissapearance is not going to improve John's complex feelings for Maren, but I really feel for the guy - that scene in sickbay was really well done, making us appreciate all the strength of John's love for both his friends.

And finally the Admiral... Ah, the Admiral. I thought his whole storyline and - creepy - outlook was perfectly summarised in his reaction to this Borg attack - he thinks this is his lucky day!

All in all, and in the words of Barney Stinson, awesome!
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Old December 21 2009, 11:33 AM   #357
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

A nice little interlude here. Nothing of great importance happens and yet you keep things intriguing just by focusing on your many well-developed and still developing characters.

I know you don't appreciate my soap opera analogy but boy oh boy have you set up a complicated love triangle here. Icheb wants Maren but Maren doesn't want Icheb and John kinda wants Maren and is best friends with Icheb and Maren kind of wants John but only when she's hammered and generally doesn't know what she wants ... and so on. That's some tense human drama.

It's also a very exciting read.
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Old December 21 2009, 02:22 PM   #358
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

tenmei -- Thanks for the review, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

mirandafave -- You know, if I was paranoid, I could totally translate that review as, "I'm not sure what to say because I don't know what this chapter was about and I'm at a loss. I'm not even sure why I like this story, unless you're putting drugs in it, that might explain it!" Heh. No, seriously, thanks for the review, and I'm glad it kept your interest even if you're not sure why. As for Icheb, we'll catch up with him soon, and Maren won't be sedated forever ... we'll see what she has to say for herself.

Gibraltar -- Thanks for the review, I appreciate it! I don't think there's much breath-catching going on for poor John. More like breath-holding as he waits to find out more about what's become of his friend and also waits to see how Maren will react to the whole thing. He's not much for sitting around in a crisis, either, so the fact that he's just sitting there next to Maren is kind of a sign of how important she is to him and how badly he thinks she might react to the news of Icheb's kidnapping. As for Beckley, he's certainly disruptive, but he's also SI. The chance to analyze drones fresh from the Collective is a rare opportunity, one that he's not about to pass up if he can help it, whether that's "officially" his job or not. And yes, he gives Adele the creeps. I'm glad you liked the small breather to see the characters reacting to what's happening before the eyewall hits again.

Diogenes -- Thanks for the review! I don't think you're projecting anything onto John ... I'm pretty sure I've mentioned in-story that people think he's very attractive. So if you find him hot, that's good! I think your assessment of him as a nurturer is dead-on. It's in his nature to take care of people and protect them, which might seem a little ironic for a tactical officer who blows stuff up, until you think about why he does that. I have to say I laughed out loud at this, though:
Man, between the brooding/simmering/techno-exotic-cyborg/genius/hot-geek, Icheb, and the affable/handsome (there I am projecting on to the fellow)/stalwart/boy-next-door/ tactical-jock, John, poor Maren is in some serious trouble. How does she concentrate?! HAH! Our young, emotionally vulnerable chief engineer never had a chance.
I totally agree. As for the Borg in the brig, wow you must really hate Beckley to feel sorry for them! Like I said to Gibraltar, Beckley is SI. There's no way he's not interested in these drones. And "Resistance is Futile ..."

CaptainSarine -- Thanks for reviewing! I like seeing things from the lower decks POV once in a while. I think it keeps things grounded. When the focus is 100% senior staff, I think you lose sight of the effects the decisions made by the decisionmakers have on the rest of the (huge) crew. And of course, then we had the sucker punch -- nice, accurate description of how I'm sure J.Q. felt when he saw that advisory. "Hey, you just kissed the love of your best friend's generally miserable life, and now he's being held hostage by dangerous aliens! You suck!"

CeJay -- Thanks for the comments and compliment. I'm glad you find the characters compelling. I can live with the soap opera analogy as long as people keep reading, and as long as we differentiate beteen daytime and prime time ... I hope this is closer to the latter! Or we can go back to calling it "space opera." I liked that one. I do have to quibble with you here:

Icheb wants Maren but Maren doesn't want Icheb
Oh, really? I'm not sure I'd go that far.
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Old December 22 2009, 02:46 AM   #359
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

I've considered the earlier suggestion of Khandi Alexander as Adele and don't hate it - I just imagined her darker with closely cropped hair and the kind of intensity around her that makes people galvanize into action. Of course a part Betazoid might know how to clam and soothe whenever necessary for maximum functionalty of the crew . . . I like M Epatha Merkerson (butchering the name - from Law and Order).

I am afraid I rather like Beckley the more we get to see inside his head. It's hard not to admire him the same way you'd admire the craft of a predator at work. I know Starfleet has had it's share of icky and outright bad people but I'm still pulling for him to ultimately have the good of Starfleet and the UFP at heart; but in the mislead Section 31 kind of way!

Either way I can't wait to see and I'm strangely less worried about Icheb - who
I am confident can handle himself very well thank you, than the hapless victims of Beckley - Bwaa Haa Haa Haa! It'll be hard to wait though!
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Old December 23 2009, 02:35 PM   #360
kes7
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Re: Star Trek: Tesseract

Thanks, oldstredshrtevr!

So we have one liker of Beckley. You are in the minority so far! You better be careful, maybe he's sucking you into his web of manipulation ... or maybe you're right and he's not totally evil. I'm not saying either way.

Sorry about the wait, but you're a parent, too, you know how it is this time of year! Merry Christmas!
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