Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by SLWatson, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    So, who was it that asked if I wrote longer stories? You? Bet you're scrambling for that backbutton now!

    On the Nature of Wind
    Author: SLWatson
    Editors: KRWalker, Maguena, Sadisticerrorpi
    Betas: TheBrimmstone, Smoke Glacken (Jen), Allenth, Sabby (other Jen), Ehzoterik, Merfilly
    Rating: PG, mild cussing
    Timeline: 2242 - 2243
    Pairing: None
    Words: 98,800+
    Disclaimer: Star Trek, of course, belongs to Paramount. I'm only borrowing one of their main characters, a couple of cameos and a few of their concepts, but eh. As for the rest of the charries, they're mine. If by some small chance you want to use them, just ask. I'll probably jump for joy and say yes. And I'd be negligent if I didn't say it: This story is best read in its original format HERE.

    All right. This story has something of a strange pedigree, so lemme explain it.

    One: It was the very first one I wrote. I started it in October of 2001, wrote through the first four parts and then... stopped. Got blocked for the next six years. Could not write in it to save my life. Tried a dozen times. Worst of all, I got blocked at this really fricken important scene, too. I'd go back and edit and pick at things, but it took me until earlier
    this year to actually finish this story. There are definitely stylistic differences between then and now, and between the first four parts and the last part and Epilogue. This one's not as polished, though still entirely readable... so, be patient with the twenty-one year old I used to be? ;-)

    Two: It was never, ever supposed to be a novel when I did start it. I figured it would be about 10,000 words, mostly humor, and that was it. I sure as heck never imagined, when I started, that it would end up 98,800+ words, let alone set the ball rolling on an
    entire story arc. Wanna know what question sparked it off? "Huh. Why did Scotty buy a boat for retirement in ST:IV?" Funny how stories go, isn't it?

    Three: Even when I did realize this would be a novel-length story, I didn't realize that I would go and write the timeline before it and after it. And I sure didn't realize that the long gap between the Prologue and Part I would later beg for some fill-in tales to explain things, mostly because back when I started it, I hadn't even begun to ask questions about my favorite engineer. Needless to say, though, this story is where those questions started really sticking in my head bigtime.

    And four: There's a pretty long gap (and a decent amount that happens) between where I left off on Distant Horizons and where this story picks up. Someday, I will go back and at least fill in one or two more stories to explain how Scott ends up from there to here, but today won't be that day. There's also a lot that happens between the Prologue and Part I on a more personal level that I knew, but hadn't originally deemed as important as I do now. Nonetheless, those stories remain separate from this one, and I'll post 'em later.


    This is meant to be a standalone novel; you don't have to read Distant Horizons to be able to enjoy it. Though, of course, you'd probably enjoy it even more if you did. It's a sort of sequel to the story 'In Theory' in the novel Kobayashi Maru. It takes place mostly in the year 2243.

    No, you don't have to comment. Yes, though, it would be greatly appreciated. It has a bit of something for everyone. Humor, drama, friendship... piracy...

    No, I'm not kidding. You wanna know more, you can read on. ;-)
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2008
  2. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Prologue

    Prologue: True North

    Monday, January 10th, 2242
    Andrews Lecture Hall, Theater 6A
    Starfleet Engineering Academy
    Belfast, Ireland, Earth

    The chatter in the back of the hall was more of a buzz than a solid noise; whispers that broke occasionally into silence, then started up again just as unfathomably. Few people seemed to be concerned with what was going on in the front part of the room, where most of the underclassmen were studiously taking notes; those in the back were the upperclassmen who were taking notes not on the subject but rather on the teaching style.

    Andrew Corrigan wasn't doing either. A third-year cadet, his only reason for being in the room was because Maggie Mersea was there, and he had a serious case of infatuation for the girl. He had no urge to help teach to the youngsters, especially Basic Language -- but Maggie wanted to teach and he wanted to be near Maggie, so he signed up for a study period that had nothing to do with studying.


    Corrigan pulled his attention away from the blonde and looked over at Sean Kelley, thinking once again that he really didn't want to talk to the ensign. Kelley was about as much fun to talk to as a brick wall, and nearly as ignorant. Still, there were a few times he had given Corry a hand on a project, and even if he was a bit of a condescending bastard, he had the occasional moment of geniality, so Corrigan did his best to look interested. "Yeah, Sean?"

    "Do you have the assignment for SS&D?"

    Yep, he looked beseeching. Corry hadn't noticed Kelley's absence in the class, but apparently he needed a bailout. Digging through his disorganized notes and textbooks, he pulled out the folder for Year Three Station Structure and Design, and offered the paper over. "It's due on Monday... Captain Bligh there would be pretty ticked if you didn't turn it in."

    Sean chuckled, copying the assignment down on a spare sheet of paper, "Yeah, bad enough that I missed class."

    "Where were you, anyway?"

    "Trying to finish my project for Captain Ahab. Got it in just before the deadline." Sean finished writing and offered the paper back over, looking pretty relieved.

    Corry couldn't blame him. Most of the officers who taught the third and fourth year cadets were downright disagreeable, hence their nicknames. Their excuse for being rough was a weak one at best, the whole spiel about 'how would they react to authority on a starbase or starship if they couldn't handle it in the academy'. As far as Corrigan was concerned, they had all gone through basic training, and that was some of the harshest discipline they could ever encounter -- why beat a dead dog?

    Shaking his head, he turned his gaze back to Maggie. There was just something about her, and it had nothing to do with the fact she was one of the small handful of women who had actually gone into Engineering and was available. To think that would imply that he was desperate for a female companion, and dammit, Andrew Corrigan was never desperate for anything. Back in South Bristol, he had a few girlfriends, and any one of them would --

    "Oooh, this oughta be good..."

    Sean's voice cut through Corry's rapt fascination, or more precisely, his tone of voice did. Corrigan glanced up at Kelley, who gave him a smirk and nodded to the podium. "That's him. That's the bastard that swept in here and snatched my ranking."

    Corry frowned for a moment, trying to figure out what the other cadet was griping about. Class ranking? Firmly dragging his thoughts away from his past loves, he looked at the podium, where one of the first-year cadets was about to recite some basic Vulcan phrases. How could a newbie steal a third-year's ranking? Then it came back, the more than few rambling sessions Kelley had gone into over the past month or two about some cadet or another who had transferred over from another Academy. In all reality, Corry hadn't paid much attention -- he had better things to keep his mind on than class ranking. Glancing back at Kelley, he tried to keep the amusement out of his voice as he replied, "The supposed grading-curve killer?"

    "Just go ahead and laugh, Corry. It's real funny when some little brat comes in out of no where and takes top of the class." Kelley's voice faded into a mutter, "Bet he's some admiral's kid or something."

    Corrigan tuned him out, looking back at the podium. The cadet down there looked like he'd be lucky to make it out of the class without passing out, let alone with a high grade. He was white-knuckling the podium like a midshipman in zero-g, pale, baby-faced, stuttering around an accent that could've been anything but definitely didn't work well with the careful enunciation of the basic Vulcan dialect. Corry tried not to laugh, but the poor guy looked downright terrified, and the attempt at 'what is your current heading?' was almost unrecognizable. "You sure, Sean? He's definitely not an upperclassman, let alone one who can steal top ranking."

    "Wanna bet?" Kelley sulked, glaring darts at the black-haired ensign below. If looks could kill, everyone between him and the cadet behind the podium would be dead. "He's in ASD with me, and you'd think he was some kind of damn genius or something from the way ole Ahab talks."

    Corry raised an eyebrow. There was no way the somewhat pathetic looking cadet below could have gotten into Advanced Starship Design... he couldn't even pass Basic Language, and that was a throwaway class. "Pearson thinks he's a genius?" Corrigan snickered, leaning back in his seat, "Maybe I oughta see if he'll tutor."

    "I told you, I'd tutor you if you wanted. You don't need to go to the brat."

    Corry smirked. Geez, Kelley was really holding a grudge about that ranking thing. It wasn't the end of the world if someone graduated second in the class instead of first, was it? If Kelley's world revolved around that, he really needed to get himself a girlfriend and something resembling a life.

    The chime ended the class, saving the 'curve-killer' from the second part of his somewhat hopeless oration, and Corrigan picked up his notes, watching Maggie as she walked... no, not walked, glided...

    She was just beautiful. A love-sick sigh threatened to break away from Corry, but he held it back. Kelley was still muttering as he headed down the steps, and he must've said something to the cadet who had been at the podium, because the room went silent lightning fast and everyone left in the room was watching. Corrigan looked between the two... Kelley with his somewhat arrogant grin, and the other ensign who was probably about two seconds away from turning him into some sort of punching bag.

    He wasn't entirely sure why he acted, but later he figured that it was mostly pity. Trotting down the steps, he neatly stepped between the two near-snarling men and put on his most disarming grin. "Tell me if you need any of your other class assignments, okay Sean?"

    Kelley looked up at Corrigan, briefly debating on whether it was worth the demerits to continue antagonizing, but he must have figured it was better to walk away and nodded stiffly. "I'll do that."

    Corry notched the grin up another few levels, needing all of the disarming ability he had, and Sean walked out without a backwards glance. The rest of the remaining cadets, both upper and lowerclassmen, filtered out themselves, more disappointed than anything that someone had broken up a potentially entertaining fight. Breathing a faint sigh of relief, Corrigan turned back to the other cadet, who was still fairly lit up. "Don't mind him, he's an ass sometimes."

    "Sometimes," the other cadet echoed, brown eyes narrowing on the exit with almost vicious intensity, as if he could bring Kelley back and finish what was started by sheer staring power. "Most o' the time, if ye ask me."

    "All right, 'most o' the time'," Corry agreed. The look he got in answer was like super-cooled liquid coolant, and he chuckled, "Geez, you need to relax. Calm down, take a few deep breaths, then you can give me your name."

    For a moment, it didn't seem like the advice would be taken, but it ended fairly quick. "Montgomery Scott. Scotty, t'most people."

    Corrigan nodded, grabbing a few stray papers and offering them over. "Andrew Corrigan, mostly known as Corry the Magnificent."

    Scott took the papers, one eyebrow raising slightly in amusement now that he'd apparently managed to rein his temper in. "Is that yer proclamation, or--?"

    "My delusions of grandeur entirely," Corry interrupted, leaning on the desk. "I have a theory, you know. Care to hear it?"


    "Well, listen anyway. See, my theory goes like this... really good engineers are always known by their last names. Always. It's like some kinda universal constant. Bell, Edison, DaVinci, Cochrane, Corrigan..." Grinning a bit, Corrigan leaned over the desk and dropped his voice, "But Sean Kelley is always known as Sean."

    Scotty looked up, with a grin. Tilting his head, he seemed to ponder it for a moment, then looked back at Corry with a chuckle. "Good theory."

    "Thanks! And now that we've discussed serious universal theory," Corry said, "I have a proposition for you." Taking note of the wary glance he got, he frowned. "Wow, the world's just out to get you, isn't it?"

    "Not the world, just the entire third-year class."

    Corrigan waved a hand dismissively. "Okay, let me put it another way. I'll get you through Basic Language, and you get me through SS&D."

    The other cadet paused in his meticulous organization of his notes, books and computer tapes, and Corry raised both eyebrows hopefully. Afterall, his parents would kill him if he failed in one of his more important courses, and Basic Language had been a breeze for him. It was practically fail-safe, and the terrible, awful curve killer looked like he could use a friend, or at least someone around who didn't give a hoot about his class rank.

    A pause held as Scott weighed the idea, looking for all the more like he was trying to divine the future and figure out if it was a good idea. It eventually came down to common sense, though, and he shrugged. "What the Hell? Ye've got yerself a deal."
  3. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 1

    Part 1: Balancing Equations

    ---- --------------- - --------- - --

    A soul in tension is learning to fly,
    Condition: Grounded, but determined to try,
    Gotta keep my eyes from the circling skies,
    Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit...

    -Pink Floyd, Learning to Fly

    ---- --------------- - --------- - --

    Chapter 1:

    Thursday, November 24th, 2242
    Malone Road Dormitory, Room 17
    Starfleet Engineering Academy
    Belfast, Ireland, Earth

    "All right, I've got no less than fifty credits saying that it won't stop raining within the next month."

    Scotty didn't look up from the computer. The mere sound of rain water told him two things: That Corry had missed the shuttle from the main campus, and that he was not thrilled about that fact. "No bet here."

    Corry frowned, shrugging off his coat and throwing it into the closet without a single thought of hanging it up. "Have you even moved since I left?"

    "Hm mm," was the absent-minded and negative reply. He'd just gotten a new batch of upgrade schematics that were going to be performed to the U.S.S. Constitution, and saying that Scott was obsessed with the starship would have been a massive understatement. Not only did he have every article, journal and schematic he could get his hands on, but he had managed to bribe one of the higher-up officers to pass on any new information.

    "Talked to Admiral Pirrie," Corry was saying as he pulled his boots off and wrung his socks out, "and he agreed to our four-day leave."

    For a long moment the comment didn't process, mostly because Scott was concentrating, which was another way of saying that the sun could go nova and he'd be oblivious. It must have been duly noted somewhere though, because after reading another four or five lines, he glanced up, eyebrows furrowed. "I didn't request leave..."

    "Nope, you didn't." Corry grinned, flopping back on his bunk. "I requested leave and you're coming with me."

    "Ohhhh no. I'm stayin' right here," Scott answered, stubbornly shaking his head and turning back to the monitor. There was too much he wanted to get done and it would be hard enough with the idiotic simulations they seemed to run the senior cadets through every other week. Well, not every other week, but way too bloody often for his tastes. "I've got three different articles due, an' that mockup warp core in Pearson's class--"

    "But you're coming with me because I'm not going to feel guilty about leaving you here over Thanksgiving."

    This was one of those times Corrigan was irritating him, just a bit. Not that Corrigan ever irritated him for more than a half-hour tops before he gave in, but this time, he just wasn't going to let the older cadet talk him into anything -- it had already happened a surprising number of times. And the last time, he slept through an entire day to avoid the hangover. Or, tried to. "That's an American holiday, Corry."

    Corry, whistling a few notes, sat up again and leaned forward. "So? The proper response to a Thanksgiving Dinner invitation is, 'Thank ye, Corry, ye're too kind to lifeless little me.'"

    Despite himself, Scotty laughed. Corrigan just loved imitating him -- that probably went back to the Basic Language lessons not quite a year before when Corry'd had the painstaking task of tutoring a mostly language inept student. Well, inept with speaking them; reading them was easy enough. "Not on yer bloody life. Not now, not ever."

    "All right, forget the thank you. But you're coming with me, because not only did I tell Mom I was bringing you along, but I already booked two transatlantic tickets."

    Scott was pretty sure he was telepathic. He could almost hear the, 'Ha! Let him try to weasel his way out of that one.' "No..."




    "No, an' that's final!"

    "Yes, or I just beat you unconscious and drag you there."

    "You wouldn't."

    "Bet me?"

    He would. "Bastard."

    Corrigan whooped in triumph, jumping to his feet and doing a quick victory-dance. Scott glowered at him as downright maliciously as he could, which was pretty damn weak since it was impossible to be angry when your best friend and roommate was dancing like a gimpy chicken. But he at least wanted a point or two for the effort. Waiting until Corry was finished flailing around, he tapped his fingers on the desk. "When're we booked?"

    "In three hours," Corry replied, hopping from foot to foot excitedly.

    Three hours?! Oh for the love of... "Corry, I want to reiterate. Ye're a bastard. A sneaky, lowdown, devious, malcontent-- oof!"

    Well, that saved him from dragging his carryon out of the closet. Scott sighed, a sort of resigned and basically world-weary sigh, and got started on packing. True, he hadn't protested too hard against the idea, but it would have been nice to have some advanced warning. But then, advanced warning was a luxury when dealing with Corrigan, not a privilege or necessity. He'd learned that the hard way when Corry had announced that they were going to become roommates and had decided to move him in without so much as a word of warning.

    Of course, if not for Corry, he might not have been able to pass the much-hated Basic Language course. It would have been a serious setback to have tested out of his entire first two years worth of Engineering Academy only to be held back over something as downright worthless as a course that no one ever put to practical application. Like the universal translator would go out and it'd be critical to speak in ancient high Vulcan to ask for directions. Right.

    Thankfully it didn't come to that; he was the youngest senior cadet and first in the class, and all it took was not punching Corry out for correcting him every five seconds, either for the actual language work, or for his own native getting away from him.

    Thanksgiving didn't sound too bad, even if it wasn't a Scottish holiday.

    "Ever been to Maine?"

    Scott shook his head, grabbing his civvy clothes and packing them away. "Been to New York, and Maryland." Half under his breath he added, "And California. Coulda lived without that one."

    "Which part, Basic or Command School?" Corrigan asked, still wearing his 'vacation or bust' grin.


    "Well, Maine's colder than this, but we get sunlight a Hell of a lot more often. And we live in South Bristol, right there on the coast. An island, really. You'll like it, and dammit, put that book down!"

    "What book?" Scotty asked innocently, eyebrows up as he hid the 55th edition of 'The Ships of Starfleet: A complete technical reference to the most state of the art vessels' behind his back.

    Corry must not have been fooled, because he wrestled it away not more than three seconds later. "There's no way you're going to have your nose buried in a book over the entire leave. Cripes, you need a life."

    "But..." He was trying not to look pathetic. He knew he was failing, but damn, he was trying.

    "No. You're not going to take that or any other remotely engineering based material. This is vacation! Relaxation! A break from the norm! A chance for peace! An opportunity to--"

    "Point taken, Mum," Scotty replied dryly, retrieving the book and putting it back on the shelf neatly. The prospect of four days off campus without any sort of trade-related material was akin to Hell; Engineering wasn't a hobby or a career, it was his life.

    Corrigan must've caught the slightly... well, obviously unhappy tone and sighed, "Look, there'll be enough to do without working on something or another. Besides," he continued, his voice jumping from chiding to obscenely cheerful, "we're gonna be the greatest engineers ever to work for Starfleet. Might as well have fun while we still can."

    "Engineering is fun," Scotty answered, tossing a longing glance at the halfway torn-down phase inverter sitting on his workbench. He was pretty sure he wouldn't get his way, though, even if he had gotten down and sobbed for all he was worth. Of course, compared to his former fate of being a starship captain, four days on leave wasn't too bad, books and bits or no. "Just four days," he thought. "How bad can that be?"

    The constant drumming of fingers on the back of the seat practically drowned out the wind that buffeted the transatlantic shuttle, and it had only been fifteen minutes. Out of a thirty minute flight. Had Corry known his roommate was going to get fidgety, he might have just let him take the book, but this was the first long-term leave he'd convinced (or bullied) Scott into taking. Their occasional weekend jaunts usually ended up in the student's lounge on campus, or pub-crawling through Belfast, but that was a quick run that lasted one night and the next day was spent recovering from it -- it had taken months just to get Scott to quit working long enough to do even that. But this was four entire days in Maine, and if the trip over was any indicator, it would be a long four days for the high-strung Scotsman.

    "You could try for a rhythm. You know, something other than 'tap, tap, tap'," Corrigan suggested, leaning back in his seat.

    "I could be workin' on my term project too." Tap, tap, tap.

    "You could, but then you'd miss out on a great dinner, with all kinds of dishes and desserts."

    "I can cook, Corry." Scotty looked over, pausing in his drumming for a moment, one eyebrow going up automatically. "Are ye sure that yer parents know that I'm along for the ride?"

    "Absolutely sure." Corrigan beamed his trademark, mile wide grin. "Trust me! When have I ever led you wrong?"

    "Last month when I woke up on the floor with my bootstrings tied t'gether and a hangover? The same time I missed turnin' in a paper 'cause I was sleepin' it off?" Scott tried to suppress the smirk, but only partially succeeded. "Or the time before that when we were almost nailed for violatin' curfew, all because ye wanted to spy on Maggie?"

    "Hey, the guy she was with was a scumbag," Corrigan defended, frowning at the thought. She had been so nice in turning him down the fifth, sixth and seventh times that he had asked her out that he had to make absolutely sure that she wasn't going to get into trouble with the Lieutenant she was dating. Of course, the mishap with the napkin had been entirely accidental. Corry had no clue how that itching powder made it onto that single napkin, and dammit, just because he was mysteriously missing twenty credits out of his student account meant absolutely nothing.

    "Aye, perhaps he was," Scotty admitted, crossing his arms and relaxing for a moment or two. He wouldn't admit it, but Maggie had caught his eye too, and he hadn't been the one to slide into the kitchen of that particular restaurant with the offer.

    Not that Corry didn't know. But he figured that they could both afford to dream about the same girl since neither of them had any real chance of getting her attention. He took the moment of silence to actually get his thoughts in order, leaning forward a little to look out of the window. It wasn't often he had a moment of peace, between classes, scenarios and having a roommate that didn't seem to know what sleep was if he wasn't plastered. "Looks rough out there. Did you know that back in the old days, the wind could get so bad out there that the waves would just break a ship apart?"

    Scott nodded, looking out himself. "Had to've been pretty damn brave, I suppose. I think I'll stick to starships."

    "Easier to die."


    "No... not really. Well, not back then." Corry smiled slightly, leaning his elbows on the back of the chair in front of him, still looking out. There was something beautifully dangerous about the ocean in a full-gale, something he grew up seeing on the shores of Maine. The current view only showed the sky, but he knew that the foam was streaking on the breaking waves below. Growing up in New England meant that he grew up with the stories of a time when ships still sank, and life or death could depend entirely on the wind and the skill of the men onboard. "It's kind of hard to believe that it's been almost a century since the last time a ship's gone down and someone actually lost their life."

    "I wouldna say that's a bad thing," Scott pointed out, trying to see down through the cloud cover to the Atlantic's surface.

    "Not at all, but we've gotten everything so fail-safe here on Earth that it's almost impossible to do anything wrong." He knew that Scotty would be the last person in the world to understand, but he tried to explain anyway, "See, if we can't fail, we can't succeed either. Not unless we go out into the stars. But people used to go out on the water and that was like their final frontier, their lives on the line. Kinda makes me wish I was born about five hundred years ago."

    "Why? I mean, ye've got a handful of sheets, a pile o' lumber, and if somethin' does go wrong, there's no emergency transport, no backup systems, nothin' standin' between you an' the deep." Scott shrugged, going back to drumming once he realized that he just couldn't crane his neck enough to see below. "If I'm gonna give my life, I'd want t' do it out there... up there. Where I can make a difference, instead of relyin' on the right winds."

    "Have you ever even been sailing?"

    "No. Been out on power boats, though. Fishin', mostly, not too far out."

    Corry grinned, trying to break away from the somewhat philosophical aire that had fallen. "Sheltered."

    Scotty gave him a brief, not-really-irritated look. "If I were sheltered, I wouldna been allowed to hang glide. Tell me that's not wind related."

    "Yeah, but hang gliding's different. That's a land-based thing."

    "I went out over the water a few times. I just prefer the land scenery."

    "Suuure. Uh huh. Right. Yep. Yessiree." Corry smirked, knowing full well exactly what the response to that needling would be.

    Right on cue... "Ye're such a bastard sometimes."

    Corrigan sighed happily, looking up at the ceiling with a self-satisfied look. "I know."
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2008
  4. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 1

    Very good to see Scotty connecting with someone. For awhile, his inability to connect with others was affecting MY ability as the reader to connect with him.

    Well done!
  5. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 1

    I kinda wish I'd been able to write more of the space between the story Distant Horizons (and not just leaving the set with that one) and this one, if only to show that he took some pretty big steps in Basic Training towards settling. And I wish I'd known this would actually become a story ARC when I wrote ONOW here, because I would have shown the evolution of this particular friendship, instead of deeming it secondary to the plot. Because it is a good tale.

    Still, I really hope that ONOW, despite that I was way younger when I wrote most of it, holds up okay. And thanks much for the comment; yes, Scott does get more personable. Corry's an awful influence on him, in the best ways a good friend can be. ;-)
  6. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 2

    Chapter 2:

    Friday, November 25th, 2242
    139 West Side Road
    South Bristol, Maine, North America, Earth

    Corry was right, it was colder in Maine. A lot colder. The wind was biting, and whipping along the coastal road as the cab deposited the two cadets in front of the house. The sky seemed to be clearing, though, the sliver moon catching a few glances down between cloud banks... sunlight was forecasted for the next day.

    Scott pulled the edges of his coat a little tighter, teeth chattering despite his best efforts not to let them. The guy who'd driven them there seemed to like having a window cracked, and the ride from Augusta had been long, cold and silent for his part, mostly spent tuning Corry's aimless chatter out, something he had become an expert at. No books, nothing to fiddle with, just a head full of idle thoughts and most of them less than complimentary towards the driver. He was already beginning to regret this.

    "Wow... man, it's a great night!" Corry grinned, setting his bag down and turning to the bay across the road where the tide was coming in. "Wouldja look at that..."

    "I'm lookin' at that," Scotty answered, thinking that his nose was going to freeze off while Corrigan communed with nature or whatever he was doing. Still, he wasn't about to interrupt -- he'd heard more than enough about how much Corry loved Maine to understand what coming home would feel like.

    Then again... South Bristol was on an island, and he was going to be a popsicle if he stood there much longer. "Corry..."

    "Yeah, yeah, I know." Corrigan turned back away from the ocean and to the house, grabbing his bag. "Time is it?"

    "0100. And not gettin' any earlier."

    Corry smiled and hopped up the steps, taking his keys from his pocket and unlocking the front door. The two-story colonial wasn't dark, and the kitchen lights were on, but rapping on the door would doubtless wake everyone up. He stepped in, then tossed a glance back over his shoulder.

    Maybe it wasn't so cold, Scotty decided. Suddenly he just felt utterly out of place, and wished he could transport back to the dorms. Why did he let himself get talked into this? He'd only met Corry's parents once, when they visited after the three-week summer break between one academic year and the next, and he sure as Hell didn't know them well enough to want to invade their house. "Maybe... I'll just go and..."

    Corrigan sighed, walking back down and dragging the younger cadet up by an arm. "No time for chickening out now, Scotty."

    "I'm not a chicken!"

    "Then stop acting like one!"

    Scott might have protested further, but then Corry's mother stepped out. "Shhh, boys..."

    "Sorry Mom," Corry said, dropping his voice and letting go of his bag and his roommate to hug his mother. "Is Dad in bed?"

    "He just turned in about an hour ago." She stepped back, smiling a warm, patient sort of smile. "Are you two going to come in before we let all of the heat out?"

    Corry grinned, stepping past his mother and immediately heading for the kitchen door, off to the right. Scott fought down a cringe -- oh, God, he felt like some kind of invader or some sort of bloody leech, or something other than a Starfleet cadet -- and eventually gave into the idea of warmth and followed. The door clicking shut behind him didn't do much for his nerves, though. Not that he hadn't liked Corry's parents when he'd first met them, because they were such nice, hospitable types, but he sure felt like he was abusing the privilege now.

    Corry's mother Melinda was giving him a look, and he got the impression from that alone that he wasn't the first unwitting victim dragged to this house. Shaking her head, she only chuckled, "Honey, standing there isn't any less dangerous than sitting in the kitchen. We only bite when provoked."

    Scotty blinked once or twice before he figured out it was a joke. He just didn't expect parents to joke... his never did. Aunts, uncles and cousins, maybe, but never parents. Nodding, he found his voice somewhere, "Aye, sorry ma'am. Just..."

    "He's a chicken, Mom," Corrigan said from the kitchen doorway, already holding a cup of tea and a warm turnover.

    "I'm not a chicken."

    Melinda tilted her head, suppressing a smile. "I don't know, Andy, I don't see any feathers."

    "Plucked chicken?" Corry asked, shrugging.

    "Not poultry at all," Scotty defended, shooting the other cadet a slightly mocking smirk, "Andy."

    Corrigan returned the smirk without skipping a beat. "Then stop acting like it, Monty."

    Melinda watched the short battle, amused, and pushed past her son to step into the kitchen. "Andy, why don't you come over here and put that engineering education of yours to work? This thing won't heat up."

    "But Mom..." Corry looked down at his turnover, then his tea. He sounded almost like he was on the verge of whining; by the time he looked back up, Scott was already past him.

    "What sort o' power source?" Scotty eyed the oven, kneeling in front of it. If Corry wouldn't let him have his books, maybe he could at least do something.

    Melinda turned on the overhead light. "Regular old electricity. I've been meaning to get one of those new hydrogen-based ovens, but I just haven't had the time, with Rachel wanting to visit all of these different colleges." She sat down at the kitchen table, watching.

    "Ye'd only need one o' those if ye were plannin' on cookin' a whole ox." Scotty grinned briefly at the mental image of Mrs. Corrigan trying to shove a whole ox into the oven, but that passed before he had the chance to laugh about it. Pulling his penlight out of his pocket, he turned it on and halfway crawled into the small space, looking at the connections between the heating coils and where they drew their current. That was probably the problem there, since the rest of the stove worked... the metal wasn't conducting the current right. Primitive; he was used to working with matter and antimatter, with plasma-based impulse engines. It had been awhile since he tackled a kitchen appliance.

    But then, everyone started somewhere. He'd torn down a bad intercom box for his first project, somewhere about when he was five, or was it four? But it had just fascinated him, the way a person could push a button and talk to someone across the house or across the country, or across an ocean, or all the way up in space. Just by pushing a button. So when he'd come across that old piece of machinery down in the basement, he'd sat there with his father's tools and tried to learn how it did what it did and why, and every little thing. Of course, it hadn't worked like he might have wanted it to, and he had no idea how to take that thing apart right back then, but it was a start. After that, his family had tried pretty hard to keep the household technology where he wouldn't find it.

    Never worked. There was always something to be opened up. Balancing himself on the side wall, he stuck the penlight in his teeth and pulled out a screwdriver... one of the few tools still used in the modern engineering trade and something he always had. Just sort of pry the thing loose, don't actually touch the charge on the other side, might be a wee bit of a shock, and that wouldn't be good. He could faintly hear Corry and his mother talking, but didn't pay it much mind. Afterall, it was more important to fix this than try to converse, and he would be the first to admit that talking was not his strong point.

    He scraped at the end of the heating coil, shaking his head slightly at the carbon buildup on it. It was old, probably older than he was, come to think of it. Hrm... odd thought. Just odd.

    Bit more, should have it done. The oven was stuffy and not entirely comfortable, what with the way he was balancing, but tight spaces were never a problem for him. Engineers had to be able to work in tight spaces... access crawlways, underneath equipment, and that should do it! Grinning again around the light in his teeth, he carefully pushed the coil back into the back panel, listening for the telltale click of connection. It must've worked how he expected... within ten seconds, he was being cooked himself and skittered back out of the oven before he could become Thanksgiving dinner instead of the turkey. "Got it."

    Corry mimed looking at a watch, teasing, "Wow, a full five minutes. I think you're slowing down in your old age, Scotty."

    "Didn't see you jumpin' to the rescue, Corry." Standing, Scott brushed his hands off on his trousers absently, once his light and screwdriver were back in their appropriate pockets.

    "You're an angel," Melinda said, offering a cup of tea and giving her son a brief, pointed look.

    Scott took the cup, wiping the dust from his not-often-used charm with a winning smile. "Not in the least, ma'am." He could feel Corry's glower and tried not to snicker. Sometimes, though, it was nice to pull one over on the other cadet -- God only knew it just didn't happen all that often.

    "Kiss ass," Corry snipped, and was rewarded with a light whap upside the head from his mother.

    "Honestly, Andrew Jacob, you would think that after all of that Starfleet education, you would be willing to fix the oven yourself and not leave it to your guest." Melinda didn't have much of an edge on her voice, but that could have been because she had turned to setting the temperature.

    Corrigan rolled his eyes, sipping at his tea before answering, "Mom, he's my roommate, not a guest. He's the guy who leaves his boots where I'll trip over 'em every other damn day, and insists on staying up all hours of the night talking to himself--"

    "While ye sit over there and chatter about Maggie an' leave yer half o' the room in complete shambles, then borrow my tools when yers get lost in the maw--"

    "After I get done trying to talk you into going to bed at a reasonable hour so the workbench light's not keeping me up, and after I get done throwing your boots in the closet where they belong--"

    "Even though my boots're the only things that I don't bother to put away--"

    "Instead leaving them in the middle of the floor--"

    "All right, gentlemen," Melinda finally broke in, closing the oven door on the turkey and turning to give them both a look. "If you're going to argue all night, you can sleep outside."

    "Sorry, Mom," Corry answered, practically in unison with Scott's, "Sorry, ma'am."

    "Go drink your tea, then go to bed."

    They didn't even make it to the livingroom before they were taking potshots at each other again.

    The ray of sunlight crept from the window's edge across the wooden floor of the living room, over the couch, settled across one corner of the room, went up over the end table with the half-full cup of cold tea on it, and finally, over the sleeping cadet in the recliner. He didn't move, didn't so much as twitch, knowing somewhere in his subconscious that there wouldn't be a class to get to, that he was warm and comfortable, and that he could take his time coming back to the world of the living.

    Needless to say, Scott didn't spend much time sleeping. He could go three or four days on pure concentration, so wrapped up in a project or a theory that sleep never crossed his mind. It wasn't that he didn't get tired, he just never noticed. When he finally did crash, he slept like the dead until he had to be awake for his first class of the day at 0630, and was up again without much effort. But for the moment, there wasn't anywhere to be and there wasn't a thing to do, so there likewise wasn't much point in waking up.

    It was finally the sounds of ceramic or china or something otherwise plate-like that pulled him from the black, heavy, dreamless sleep he'd fallen into. Blinking a few times into the bright light flooding through the window, he frowned slightly to himself and was looking around for a clock when he sighted one of the prettiest girls he'd seen in a long time... or at least, since he'd been in Historical Engineering with Maggie yesterday. Deductive reasoning might have told him that this was Rachel, Corry's younger sister, but just waking up all he knew was that she had long legs, blonde hair, and looked damn good.

    "Don't even think about it."

    And speaking of Corry... "Think about what?"

    "She's way too young for you."

    Scotty managed to turn his head enough to see Corrigan, who was kicked back on the other chair in the shadows. "Too young...? I'm twenty! Ye'd think I was a bloody geezer, the way ye're talkin'."

    "She's sixteen!" Corry waved a hand, as if he could throw the entire notion right out the window. "Besides, she has a new amour every week. You'd be number thirty-six, or something."

    Scott didn't see anything really wrong with that, but by the time he looked back, the lovely Rachel was gone, and he was pretty sure that any attempts to flirt would be headed off at the pass by her older brother. Not that he was a very good flirt... every time a girl showed more than a passing interest, his brain stopped working. "Lookin's not a crime."

    "Do yourself a favor, and don't. She'll just break your heart, and then you'll blame me."

    "Nu uh."

    "Dinner's almost ready."

    "Really?" Scott was quite proud of himself for not asking if Rachel would be on the menu. He knew that would earn him a crack upside the head quicker than he could get the question out; much as he had found a great hobby in needling Corry, it wasn't worth being smacked.

    Corry had gotten pretty good at reading his expressions, though, and narrowed his eyes. "Ohhh, just go and get washed up, and if I catch you eyeing her up again, I'm gonna put you headfirst through the incinerator."

    "Yes, mother," Scotty answered, a bit snippily, and in a good imitation of Corry's voice. He crawled out of the massive chair, stretching out and trying to remember how he'd fallen asleep downstairs instead of up in the guestroom. The last thing he could remember was Corry talking to his mother and that was it. Rubbing at his eyes one-handed, he grabbed his boots and carryon with the other and headed upstairs.
  7. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 2


    "He's kinda cute. A little shorter than I like 'em, but cute," Rachel said, stepping into the livingroom after the Scott was up the steps and out of earshot.

    Corry shot her an irritated glance. "Whatever happened to Bill?"

    "Last month." She plopped down in the recently vacated chair, smiling over at her brother with a distinctly wicked look. "Smells good too. Girlfriend?"

    "Not that I know of," Corry sighed. He never knew when she was serious or joking, but this little ribbing could be either. Whatever happened to the sweet little girl that used to play with dolls and dress the cats up? He wasn't sure who he was feeling more protective of... his sister or his roommate. Talk about a tough spot to be in. "What about Rodney?" he asked, drawing the name out with all of the torment he could wring out of the two syllables.

    Rachel made a face, shaking her head. "He was too handsy. Practically pawed me every time we went out."

    "Did he?" Corry's eyebrows jumped to the top of his forehead. "Maybe he needs a lesson in how to act on dates..."

    "No, I got him good. Dumped him in front of the whole school during lunch one day." She smirked, obviously enjoying the memory. "He's an ass."

    "He was the perfect man, last time you wrote me. 'Oh, Andy, he's just so nice and sweet, and he even brought me flowers!'" Now it was Corry's turn to smirk. The idea of some cretin trying to make out with his little sister pissed him off, but the chance to get under her skin was just too good to pass up.

    "Ohhh!" Rachel stood and pointed an accusing finger at him. "Andy, you're just as mean as you were when you moved out. Do us all a favor and don't move back anytime soon!" With that, she stomped out, muttering a few obscenities loud enough for him to hear.

    "Home sweet home," Corry whispered to himself, grinning an evil grin and kicking back to finish reading the local forecast on the news screen. Seemed like they were in a stretch of clear skies, and in the back of his mind he wondered if he could get away with taking the boat out. True, November on the North Atlantic wasn't exactly prime sailing weather, but by the time good weather came around, he'd probably be starting his internship on some freighter.

    He wasn't sure about that. He really did like being an engineer, and it was a job he could live with, but he couldn't imagine spending a great deal of time in space. The off-planet scenarios that they ran more often than not only lasted a week or two, and by the end he was always glad to have Earth back under his feet. The trip to the shipyards in orbit of Mars hadn't been bad, either, but the trip to the surface hadn't been nearly the excitement Corry wanted. It just wasn't home.

    "What's the forecast like?"

    "Four more days of sunny skies, Dad," Corry answered, offhand, then looked up at the figure in the doorway. People always told him that he looked like his father -- the same blond hair and blue eyes, the same tall, wiry build, even the same smile. When he was a teenager, he hated the comparison. Now, he was beginning to appreciate it... there were far worse people to be like than Aaron Corrigan. "How long're you home for?"

    Aaron leaned on the door frame, crossing his arms. "I have to head back out tomorrow, but only for a week. I was thinking of stopping by the campus and visiting."

    "I'd like that," Corry chuckled, thumbing the power button for the reader off. "We don't have another simulation scheduled as far as I know, so any time you wanna drop by's okay by me."

    "Hear you've made it into the top thirty of your class."


    "Better than last year," Aaron said, smiling his approval and somehow making it seem less like a sappy-parent thing and more like a respectful-colleague thing. He was in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, which mostly concentrated on planetary architecture. Last month it had been building a life-support station on Amara VI, this month it had been hollowing out mining tunnels on a stationary asteroid, and next it could be anything. "Plan on keeping it up?"

    "Long as Scotty keeps letting me copy his notes," Corry replied, grinning. He was only half-joking, but he wasn't about to tell his Dad that.

    Aaron shook his head with a low laugh, turning back to the kitchen, and Corry leaned back in the chair and watched the sunlight creeping across the floor. Thanksgiving Day was never hectic in this household, and he appreciated that. Last Thanksgiving had found him trampling around an abandoned space station with the rest of the cadets, working under a time limit and trying to restore more than emergency life-support. This was preferable.

    He wasn't really sure how long he was lost in his own thoughts -- about his career, about his family, about Maggie and where she was spending Thanksgiving or even if her family celebrated it, but the call for dinner pulled him away from it. Standing, he slipped into the kitchen and sat down, and Scott was about three paces behind, looking like some kind of animal about to be sent to the chopping block. Corry debated on sympathy and decided to stick to amusement. "See chair. Sit in chair. Scoot chair to table."

    "See Corry. See Corry get beaten. See table go flyin'," was the aside-whispered reply.

    Corry beamed a smile at his mother, his father, his sister, mostly trying to cover up the fact that he reached over, viced down on the back of the shorter cadet's neck and forced him down into a chair. It may have been a less than kind thing to do, but then, subtlety wasn't one of his better traits. "Turkey smells terrific, Mom," he said over Scott's low grumble.

    "Why thank you, Andy, and when you finish mistreating our guest, please say grace," Melinda answered, not even looking up as she finished setting the different dishes on the table.

    "She couldn't have seen that. How'd she see that?" Corry asked quietly, not sure if he was impressed or irritated by the fact that she had.

    "Dunno," Scotty replied in a sullen whisper as he rubbed at the back of his neck. He still looked like he was waiting for someone to stick a noose over his head. Well, until Rachel gave him a smile. Then he must have forgotten about the noose, because he went from zero to smitten in under two seconds.

    Corrigan just shook his head, waiting until they were all seated. It was damn nice to sit down to a home-cooked meal, without having to worry about what sort of insanity would come next in a typical Starfleet day. Looking on as his mother sat down, and his father finished adjusting his silverwear, and his sister made lovey-eyes at his now stupidly grinning roommate, he thought maybe that it really didn't get much better in life than this.

    "Dear Lord, we thank You for bringing us all here together this day, for the food that You provide, for the strength that You give us, and for these moments we all share.


    "I just don't get it. Not one damn bit."

    Corrigan raised an eyebrow, glancing over at Scott, who was strung out on the recliner and staring forlornly at the ceiling. It wasn't like he hadn't tried to warn the other cadet that Rachel would just lead him on, but then, his advice was never heeded. "I told you so."

    "Ye're just so sympathetic, I don't even know what t'do," Scotty shot back, sarcastically, then went back to looking heartbroken. Apparently, spending two whole days following Rachel around like a lovesick puppy, only to get the inevitable brush-off, had devastated him for life. At least to look at him, one would think that.

    Corry just sighed. He'd tolerated the whole charade, knowing what the outcome would be, and now he was expected to console someone who had just been asking to get burned. Someone once told him that young love was terribly fickle, and given how his sister and his roommate were both acting, he honestly had to agree. "Look, she's shallow and you're being silly. What were you expecting, everlasting love? Roses and white dresses and a big ole wedding? Cripes, Scotty, get over it." He wasn't surprised when he didn't get more than a 'hrrmph!' in answer. It wasn't hard to offend Scotty... at least he usually got over it fairly quick.

    This time the silence lasted a full three minutes before he heard the muttered, "Bastard." That was another way of saying that Scott couldn't stand being left to his own devices for more time, and needed something to keep his interest; if he didn't have a machine to bury himself in, Corry was the second best distraction. There were more than a few times in the past several months that Corry wondered if maybe the other cadet should have been put on medication for hyperactivity. Or, barring that, somehow hooked up to the power grid -- he could likely run half the eastern seaboard.

    "Yes, but where would you be without me?"

    "Back at the Academy?"

    "Still a third-year trying to pass Basic Language, shunned and miserable, and tripping over your own boots every five minutes," Corry laid out, matter-of-factly. "And I'd be a third-year, trying to pass Year Three SS&D, loved and adored, and not tripping over your boots every five minutes."

    "Ye're right, it's all yer bloody fault," Scott chuckled, tipping his head back far enough over the arm rest to peer at Corry upside-down. Putting on an almost desperate voice, he continued, "I shoulda known gettin' mixed up with the likes o' you woulda been trouble. Now here I am, just completely devastated and contemplatin' jumping from a cliff, all because--"

    "You have melodrama down to a science."

    "I'm insulted. This is genuine, pure, complete heartache! I'm dyin' here, Corry, an' ye just have to go an' twist the knife."

    Corrigan glanced over, raising an eyebrow. "If you're heartbroken, pal, I'm Surak of Vulcan."

    Apparently Scotty was well over his lovesickness, and grinned. "Nice t' meet ye. Did ye know that I happen to be Bonnie Prince Charlie?"

    "And here I thought you were Johnny Walker."

    "Just happens to be a tolerable whiskey. I suppose that'd work too."






    "Erm... penguin?"

    Corrigan rolled his eyes, fairly amused. "Ye're pathetic."

    "Yes, mother."
  8. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 2

    What a cantankerous set of friends. But considering how badly Scotty needed friends, this is definitely a good thing.

    It's interesting...I end up picturing settings, in your work, that aside from Starfleet Academy, aren't the sanitized, futuristic look we saw even shipboard on TOS. Your settings come to me very much with traditional architecture and decor inside--things that probably would've made the historical register in the 23rd century. In general, your population seems to have clung to its tradition much more than later series like TNG and DS9 would let on (where people seem so unfamiliar with common idioms it's unbelievable). Would you say that's a fair assessment of how you perceive the Trekiverse?
  9. RobertScorpio

    RobertScorpio Pariah

    Jan 25, 2008
    San Diego
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 2

    I agree with where you are going with your reply to Mr. Watson's story. It definately seems he has his eye on that past. I like it...I hadn't read this story yet and decided to so after his McCoy story in the monthly challenge...keep it up my dear watson

  10. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    ::nodnods!:: Believe it or not, that was intentional. In Belfast, where the Engineering Academy is, there are quite a few new and modern areas where cadets work, but those are often in newer parts of the city. The actual location for the Academy proper, as in classrooms and dorms, is where Queen's University currently is, a historic sector of Belfast even now and would doubtless be by then too. So, rather than forcing the surrounding history to adapt to them, the Engineers adapted to the surrounding history.

    They're also very close to the traditional shipbuilding area of Belfast, on the Lough, and there are still shipbuilding operations even in the 23rd century -- there are still ocean-going cargo carriers, the dynacarries, that haul goods across the ocean. And, who knows? Harland and Wolff may indeed still build the occasional passenger liner, too.

    South Bristol is... supposed to be timeless. Absolutely, emphatically, it's supposed to be something eternal. I have a lot of reasons for this, too, both practical and personal. Especially given where it is.

    But I tend to definitely take the view that the 23rd century isn't some unrecognizable wonderland of gadgets. ;-) I think some things have changed for the better -- on Earth, anyway, I think that there's education for those who want it, and that food is plentiful, and that most of the cracks towards homelessness and desperation have been done away with by any number of means. But, not all. I think humanity still has its issues, as does Earth.

    But I think a lot of things would still be the same. For instance, instead of water laundry units and dryers, you probably have sonic laundry units that make it quicker and easier to wash clothes, without the inherent effects water takes on fabric. But, even though it's established that there's such a thing as sonic showers, I think most of humanity probably still has a good, old-fashioned water shower. Because really, who wants to bask in the warm streams of... uh... sonic waves?! after a long day. ;-)

    It's just a matter of balancing the old and new in a way that makes logical sense. It's doubtful that most people have a personal transporter in every home (just look at how much trouble a transporter sometimes could be on a starship!), and it's doubtful that people still don't have to clean their houses, wash their dishes or cook their food. Some things change... but some things are timeless. And, really, should be.

    And that's... a really long answer to a simple question. Sorry!

    Heya Rob! Yeah, I really do keep an eye firmly on what comes before when trying to write what comes later. A whole lot can happen in 300 years, but some things remain fixed -- everything gets smaller, or more efficient, at least those things that need to. But I don't see everything changing so dramatically and completely that the world no longer looks or even acts anything like it does today. Better, certainly, in a lot of ways. But an ideal we can reach, instead of a magical wonderland that seems impossible to achieve.

    Does that make sense?

  11. RobertScorpio

    RobertScorpio Pariah

    Jan 25, 2008
    San Diego
    it certainly does, which is why I think TOS is still,after all these years, the TREK most people are attracted too.

  12. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 3

    Chapter 3:

    Tuesday, December 6th, 2242
    Weikman Lecture Hall, Theatre 2B
    Starfleet Engineering Academy
    Belfast, Ireland, Earth

    Falling back into a schedule was sort of like reading a book that's been read a thousand times. You knew what was coming, spent a few hours re-reading, and occasionally you might cross a paragraph you've read before and never appreciated. That was what Historical Engineering and Design class was like as well... going over the old and familiar, and gaining a new appreciation for it. The professor was a commander in Starfleet whose love for engineering was surpassed only by his love of history, hence making it the perfect combination for him to teach.

    He wasn't a bad teacher either, and his passion for the subject was infectious. Scott wasn't the most historically-inclined student, reserving his attachments for modern day designs, and even he found the occasional lecture that made him look up from whatever schematic he was poring over to listen.

    This was not one of those days.

    Going over Cochrane's first designs was terrific, getting a real in-depth view on how the man's mind had worked when he had basically invented the modern age. The advent of the impulse engine had been another really intriguing lecture. He'd even found something mildly interesting in a study of nuclear powered naval destroyers. Then they went back further in their studies, into the age of petroleum-based internal combustion, then steam, and finally back to wood and canvas.

    Corry loved it, Scotty couldn't stand it, and the last two nights had invoked two arguments that had reached almost epic proportions over which each of them believed to be true... Corrigan thought that to understand modern starships, one had to understand archaic sailing ships, and his roommate most adamantly disagreed.

    And now, sitting in the back of the theater, Scotty basically tuned out the entire proceeding and concentrated on the fuel-mix ratios for the Deravian class freighters, which went right along with a recent battle the Constitution had engaged in. Historical Engineering was an elective, taken mostly for the credit, and even if he didn't do more than take common sense guesses on the exams, he could still pass it. So he didn't hear the next words, but if he had, he might have started to seriously worry.

    "As this is my last year, ladies and gentlemen," Professor Barrett said, pacing in front of the podium, "I've decided to do something a little different. I understand that every other year, we've taken a written final, and that's what you're expecting. But, since this is the last time I'll have the distinct pleasure of teaching cadets, we're going to have a practical final exam."

    Waiting until the students quieted down, he stepped back and drew a few lines on the chalkboard, the most elementary lines of a sailing vessel. That drew more concerned whispers, but he continued without a word of reproach, "This year, we're going to be building ships. More specifically, sailing ships... all the way from an initial design to the final christening, and perhaps even further. This project will take the rest of the year, and we'll begin next week, so prepare yourselves."

    "Sir?" One of the cadets in the front row rose his hand, eyebrows drawn in a frown. "This sounds awfully time-consuming... will it interfere with our other classes?"

    Barrett smiled, leaning on the podium. "Well, Mr. Jansson, that would depend on how much you can get done in class, and on your personal time."

    Jansson cringed, probably not wanting to ask anything else for fear of the answer, and Corry jumped in without hesitation, "Will we have a choice on what sort of ship we're building, Professor?"

    "I'll have you all broken into teams, and assigned a specific material to work with, but so long as you're historically accurate, the design's entirely your discretion." Barrett glanced at the chronometer, then back at the student body. "Assemble any questions you have and I'll answer them tomorrow." As if on cue, the chime ended the class.

    Now the chime was akin to Pavlov's work with the dog... even the most engrossed senior cadets heard it through whatever technology-induced haze they had fallen into, and Corrigan's intrepid and occasionally absent-minded roomie wasn't any different. Corry had contemplated building one just for the sake of getting Scott to pay attention to something besides books, girls he had no chance with, and schematics... it would have made for a nice change from the usual mumbles and single-minded chatter.

    As it were, he bounded up the steps to the top of the hall, waiting impatiently for Scotty to finish organizing his books. "This is just gonna be great. In fact, I can't think of a better final."

    "Final? In December?" Scott didn't look up, no doubt sure he was just hearing things. No one had finals in December, unless it was only a semester class, and none of his classes were.

    "Did you even hear a word? Hell, a syllable?" Corry leaned on the back wall, one eyebrow going up.

    "Nu uh. See, 'bout two weeks ago, the Constitution had a run in with not just a pirate ship... oh no, a whole damn fleet o' the bastards. So there they are..." Scott went into theatrical mode, setting his books down and gesturing with both hands, eyes glazing over as he relived whatever this was, "surrounded on all sides, takin' hits from every quarter. Shields go down, she's practically floatin' dead in space, an' Cohlburn... that's her Chief... he has t'rewire the whole bloody relay system, reroute power directly from the engines, can't even use the converters or the regulators--"

    Corry rubbed at the bridge of his nose. "Can I just guess at the end? It works, the ship survives, and goes on to demolish the whole pirate fleet."

    Scotty shot him a dirty look, pausing in mid-gesture. "No, but she set 'em runnin'."

    "I was close." Corrigan smiled a genial, somewhat disarming smile. "So you heard absolutely nothing about how, for our final, we're going to be designing, building, and maybe even sailing something with real, honest-to-God sails? You know, those ships you call archaic piles of lumber?"

    The look was worth it. The younger cadet blinked once, twice, and when it clicked he took on an expression close to horror, nearly squeaking, "Ye're kiddin'!"

    "Nope!" Corry said, grinning. "And care to guess when we're starting this little project?" Taking the dumbfounded shake of the head as a 'go-ahead', he dropped the proverbial bomb, "Next week."

    Scott whimpered, finally looking at the blackboard. When he saw the lines, he looked like he wanted to crawl into a dark hole. "N-next... next week? As in, really next week? We're gonna start workin' on this next week?"

    Corry sighed happily, starting down the steps and for the exit. "I knew you'd be thrilled."

    "Displacement, buoyancy, rightin'-arms an' rightin' movements, deep-v instead o' shallow draft... ohhhhh God." Scott buried his face in his hands and moaned softly, just trying not to let the headache he had drive him to throwing himself out the window. This entire business of building a sailing ship was mind-numbing -- in fact, he could feel his brain cells dying a slow, painful death. It didn't help that out of twenty team members, Corry had placed him as head shipwright.

    "It's not that bad, is it? It's engineering, at any length," Corrigan pointed out, closing the door behind him and setting down the three bags he'd brought.

    "He's been mumbling about it since you left." Jerry Jansson stood from where he was perched on the table, setting aside an ancient book to go snoop in the bags.

    Scott scowled, pulling the drawing board back onto his lap and looking down at it. He'd been working on it for the past week and still felt utterly hopeless. Corry had decided that they were going to be all traditional Maine, and build a schooner -- well and good, aye, but the mathematics were agony. There was nothing there even remotely relative to starships. "A'right, lemme see someone else do this. Lemme see one o' you try'n figure out these calculations and make bloody sense of 'em."

    Corry shook his head and stepped over, peering over his shoulder. "You have a whole group here who'll help. It's not like you have to do this alone."

    "'GZ, the rightin'-arm, is drawn from G perpendicular to the direction of buoyancy...'" Scott frowned deeper still, raising an eyebrow up at Corry. "Tell me again what this has to do with modern shipbuildin'?"

    Corrigan picked the drawing board up, looking over the rough drawing for a moment before replying, "Okay, look at it like this. In starship design, we have a keel, a center of gravity for orbital purposes, a displacement for any low-atmosphere flying... it's not that different. Just... I dunno, try thinking of it like a starship, but on water."

    "Suuure, a starship on water." Scotty leaned back, crossing his arms. "Why, that's bloody brilliant, isn't it? Just imagine that starships have buoyancy, angles of heel, metacenters and inch trim movements."

    "Exactly!" Corry chirped, beaming a false grin. "And at least try to have fun with it."

    "Hey, Corry! Are you gonna let us eat, or do we have to wait for a finished schematic?" Joseph Albright asked, calling from the table where the bags were still sitting.

    "Nah. We'd starve to death." The team leader shot his roommate a sharpish look before going back to the table himself. He knew well enough that the look was returned, probably razor-like in it's unhappiness, but after a week of prodding he was even starting to lose his patience. Sure, shipbuilding wasn't easy and it meant a lot of research, but he knew Scotty was damn near a genius when it came to engineering. There wasn't much of an excuse not to use that talent for something unique, except that Scott was miserable and when he was miserable he had a knack for dragging his feet over anything he could. Shaking his head, Corry fished out the burgers, tossing one to Albright. "Can you believe I paid six credits apiece for these things? Processed veggies made to taste like meat, and they charge six credits for it."

    "Welcome to modern economics," Jansson chuckled, already through two burgers and heading into a third. "Supply and demand? Nu uh. Gouge the hungry cadets! Make 'em beg!"

    "Or pay out through the project budget." Corrigan sat down on a chair, kicking back and munching half-heartedly at the cold food.

    Albright smirked. "Well, if we're not going to build a ship, at least we won't be hungry when we fail, right?"

    "Just fat and slothlike in our misery!" Corry howled, melodramatically, holding the burger out in one hand and putting his other hand over his heart, "But soft! What shout through yonder doorway breaks? It is the calisthenics officer and we are the victims! Arise, fair cadets, and slay that chunkiness, which is congealed about your bellies!"

    "Oh man," Jansson laughed, crumpling the wrapper and throwing it into the bag, "I don't think Shakespeare had that in mind at all."

    "Shakespeare never attended Starfleet Engineering Academy, either," Albright answered, glancing at his watch. "Hey, shouldn't we be getting back to the dorms? It's getting late."

    "Yeah, yeah."

    "You two go ahead," Corry said, taking another bite of the cold sandwich before throwing it away. "I'll see about getting our head architect to move a little quicker."

    "Good luck." Jansson shrugged, pulling on his cadet-issue jacket. "Give me a call if you need anyone to take over."

    Corrigan frowned, leaning back in his chair. "All right. See you guys later." Waiting until they were out of the loft, he stood and stretched. It was a little chilly in there -- but then, considering the size of the place, that wasn't too surprising. Professor Barrett had been kind enough to arrange for an indoor berth to build the ship in... the only concession he would make historically. The whole room was nearly two hundred feet long, supported by duradium beams that arched the tall ceiling. The massive doors at the end led to the ramp, which in turn led into Belfast Lough. The lack of heat on the main floor had to have something to do with the coolness of the mold loft, and Corry entertained the idea of bringing in a few plasma heaters to warm the place up. Hard enough to do serious manual labor, but to be constantly cold was a whole other factor.

    Of course, without a finished architectural plan, they would never get to that point. Taking a deep breath, he steeled himself for dressing down his roommate, a task he found completely miserable. It was one thing to banter, one thing to even argue, but it was almost painful to have to chew Scott out using the authority he had as the project leader. Stepping back to the once-again working architect, he looked over the plans and hoped he wouldn't have to do any serious yelling to get the point across. "You know, the sooner we get this done, the sooner we can move onto something else."

    "It's pointless! A damn waste o' time, completely an' totally foolish, no matter how ye look at it."

    Corry rubbed tiredly at the bridge of his nose. He'd had a feeling it would go down this way -- it wasn't as though they hadn't had a couple of warm-up arguments that would lead into this. Scott was stubborn; when he dug his heels in, it wasn't easy to drag him along.

    No amount of trying to be nice was going to work, so finally Corry counted to three in his mind and continued, "Listen, pal. I know you're less than thrilled about this whole thing, you've made that perfectly clear. But this isn't just your grade, this is the whole group's grade too."

    Scotty barely bit back a growl and set the drawing board down, then stood and snatched his coat from the back of the chair. "I know that. I understand that perfectly, but if ye wanted a happy trooper, Cor, ye shoulda picked someone else."

    "But I didn't, and dammit, this is your responsibility!" Corry leveled an icy gaze at the other cadet, holding it until he forced Scott to look down at his boots. "Look, I'm not going to just hand this over to someone else. You're the best designer here, and as soon as you can drag yourself away from the fog of whining, we can get this project moving."

    "Ye're a bastard," Scotty snapped, and Corry knew that this time, he meant it.

    "Hate me if you want, but I'm not going to let you moan and groan about how stupid this is until we're all trying to explain why we failed our final," Corrigan said, keeping an even voice and mentally wincing at the entire ordeal. When he was twenty, he probably would have taken a reprimand like that hard... two years made a big difference, he realized without really thinking about it. Doing his best to soften his tone, he took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I know this isn't your idea of a good time, but if I didn't think you were the best man for the job, I wouldn't have appointed you. Use that genius of yours and make the best of it... do that, and I'll buy the Scotch."

    "Ye'll have it by the deadline, an' not a day earlier." Scotty pulled his coat on and buttoned it, still plenty pissed off. Without a backwards glance, he all but marched out.

    Corry waited until he heard the door slam before picking up the drawing board. Sitting down, he eyed the lines... more practical than artistic, but even as rough as it was, it was going to be a damn good looking ship. It had a deeper draft, sort of narrow-bodied. Smiling slightly, he looked over the few written notes: "Schooner, fore and aft, LOD=106', LOA=157', Beam=26'... GZ? GM? ITM? BM? Help?" Further down, it had a few of the figures Scott had managed to work out, all in longhand. Setting the board down again, he leaned back in the chair until he was looking at the dark ceiling. He didn't want to go back to the dorm just yet and face the liquid-nitrogen silence he was certain to get.

    Maybe it would all blow over by morning. If not, Corry couldn't immediately imagine anything worse than getting the cold shoulder from his best friend.

    For now, the ceiling and the soft Belfast rain was all the company he wanted.

  13. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 3


    Morning came inevitably, bringing a still soft rain and the smell of sea so strong that it permeated everything and everyone. Corry drifted awake to the buzzer, reaching back with one hand to smack the off button... it was too early to go to class, too early to think of anything but staying in bed.

    The secondary buzzer was the one that got him, though, and he pulled himself out of bed and stretched. The room was quiet and he rubbed at his eyes drowsily, stifling a yawn... yep, way too early for this. What happened to those carefree days when he was a kid, worrying only about grade school and recess? What happened to the long summer days he'd spent fishing, swimming and sailing?

    Gone, long gone. Shaking his head, he glanced around for his roomie, but Scott was long since gone himself. His other pair of boots were even put away neatly -- testament that Corry must have struck a nerve. He hadn't been there when Corrigan had come in last night, and if not for the boots, Corry would never have guessed the other cadet had shown back up. Feeling a pang of self-recrimination, he sighed and opened his closet.

    His uniforms hung neatly, sharp grays that he actually tried to keep nice and crisp for class. Reaching to grab one, he stopped short when he saw the note hanging by engineer's putty from the shelf, and after a moment puzzling over it, he pulled it down to read it.


    Here they are, every last one of them -- every last one of them that I could manage anyway. Albright should be able to check them and if he could finish the weight distribution studies, I would be in his debt.


    Corry smiled slightly, folding the note and pulling the old-fashioned notebook down. Sure enough, in slightly shaky but otherwise neat block lettering were the equations, from the righting movement to the center of buoyancy above the keel. Even the inch-trim was worked out. He didn't want to think too much about how long and hard the night must've been for Scotty to have pulled off a feat like that, but he did think about where he could find a good bottle of Scotch. Afterall, fair was fair.

    Slipping the note into the front cover, he set the notebook on his dresser and went back to getting dressed for the day.

    It had been a long night, spent under the overhanging roof of a dockside building in the cold damp air, using the weak light from above to write. One hand with a pencil, the other turning the pages of the shipbuilding handbook... circa 1845... and Scott had worked out every single equation that he could until he was too tired to see straight.

    Why he did was well beyond him. When he'd told Corry that he wouldn't have it until the deadline, he had been serious. Deciding wisely that he needed to cool off, he'd checked in with Security, let them think he was in for the night, then snuck out and headed down for a walk along the docks; maybe he'd never want to work on the ocean but he still enjoyed being near it. Pacing the concrete in the dark, listening to the lapping against the piers, somewhere around midnight he'd decided to just work on this a little -- cut down on what he'd have to do the next day. It was a quick walk back to the dorms, and it hadn't been hard to scale the fence and slip into the basement window that was always left open by the last cadet who had been doing laundry that night.

    It took maybe a half-hour to get in and back out, a task Scotty had gotten damn good at since moving into the dorms. He'd gone back to the docks, found a spot out of the rain, pulled the books and notebook from where he'd shielded them under his coat, and gone to work.

    Now, at not quite a quarter to ten in the morning, he could barely stay awake. The lecture hall was nice and warm, pleasant after being chilled all night by mist, and he really wanted to nod off and sleep through the rest of class. Or skip out altogether and go back to bed. Or even get a nice, hot cup of coffee... nevermind. Long hours were an unbeatable part of being an engineer in the service.


    And there was the other half of the reason he'd stayed out all night. Trying to muster up some indignation and failing, Scotty glanced sidelong at Corry, who'd somehow managed to slip into the hall without him noticing. "What?"

    Corry winced slightly, setting his books down on the desk. "Thanks for finishing the equations."


    "...are you still mad?"

    "Noooooo, o' course not." Really, he wasn't too angry, but it didn't hurt to make Corry squirm. As far as Scott was concerned, he deserved it a little at least -- walking around for two hours trying to face some unkind truths about oneself wasn't the least bit thrilling. Corry might have been right, but it didn't take the sting away. "Give those t' Albright?"

    "Yep. He was overjoyed... he says he can have them all polished and finished by Tuesday, a whole three days before deadline," Corrigan said, quietly, leaning on his books and looking down at the guest lecturer. "I really like the design, you know."

    Scotty frowned slightly, leaning back and crossing his arms. He wasn't in the mood for small talk, being friendly, or anything that required energy. "Aye."

    "And I went out and got you something." Corry grinned in sudden good-humored pride, pulling an old bottle out of his carryon and offering it over. "Fair's fair and all."

    "Cor! Bloody Hell, put that away!" Scott squeaked quietly, once he got a good look at the label. "Are ye daft, pullin' that out in here?"

    "Nah, he's not paying attention," Corrigan answered, but he put the Scotch away just in case. "It's some good stuff though, cost me a bundle so you'd better appreciate it."

    "Ye're bribin' me."

    "Is it working?"

    Scotty chuckled, shaking his head. So much for staying mad. "Aye. It's workin'."

    Barrett was indeed pleased, having never expected the cadets from Team C to finish stage one early. He had assigned Corrigan as the leader, partly for the sake of prior experience and partly because he was reasonably people-oriented, and they had drawn wood to work with as their primary material. Team A had gotten aluminum, no easy find in the modern day. Team B had gotten steel, Team D had fiberglass, and so forth. So looking over the finished equations, he was looked happy with the progress. "Gentlemen, I'm impressed."

    "Thank you, sir," Corry answered for the rest of his team. He tried to ignore the looks they were getting from the rest of the class... it wasn't their fault they seemed to have the majority of the talent. "Do we have permission to move onto the next stage?"

    "Absolutely. I'll give you a list of distributors... I take it you've worked out which woods you'll be using?"

    Albright spoke up, having adjusted Scotty's figures enough to work with the different densities, "Aye, sir, we've decided we're going to work with oak primarily."

    "Very good. I'll expect your detailed schematics by the next deadline," Commander Barrett said, offering the notebook back to Corry. "Good luck."

    Corrigan took the notebook and turned to leave, the rest of his team following on his heels. Most of the twenty-member crew was waiting to start the actual work, reading up on the physical process of building a ship and working with the timbers -- the design team was the one working on the more mental level. Jansson was in charge of working on the material plans, Albright was the man who was to adjust the initial equations for every change made in the ship, and Scotty was heading up the overall design... in charge of the schematics. Not that he had to do it alone, since Albright and Jansson were damn good designers as well, and Corry was willing to help even if his main strengths were based on maintenance instead of creation.

    It was a good design team, and Corrigan was pretty sure they wouldn't have any trouble with the rest of the cadets either. He just regretted Maggie being assigned to Kelley's team and not his... it just tickled him when she returned his smile on the way out of the hall.

    "Now we're movin', baaaaby," Jansson sang, impromptu, skipping a step. "Team C, as in c-ya later."

    "Ye're too cheerful. Stop it," Scotty teased, in a good mood himself. With the worst of the achitectural math out of the way, his disposition had improved considerably.

    "I'm just thinking about the looks on all of their faces when we came trotting in with our finished math. I mean, you could just smell the stench of anguish." Jerry stopped outside of another theater. "I'll catch up to you three later, and we'll see what we can get done before break."

    Corry grinned, waving. "Thanks, Jer." Albright had just peeled off to chase after his girlfriend Joyce, and the entire atmosphere at the academy had taken a turn for the better... it might have been the rain pausing for a break, but it was more likely the vacation prospect. Tossing a glance at Scott, he asked, "Ready for another stretch?"

    Scotty thought about it for a moment, shifting his books from one arm to the other. "Honestly? Nu uh. But I can do it."

    "We still have that whole bottle of Scotch to celebrate with..."

    "Aye, but we have class tomorrow, too."

    Corrigan shrugged, but let it drop at that. "What're you doing over break?"

    "Mum wants me home for Christmas. You?"

    "Eh, same here. Care to hang out for New Years?"

    Scott stepped out of the building, holding the door open with his foot for Corry, mulling the idea over. "Aye, why not? But you come home with me this time..." he shrugged, "give ye a chance to meet my family."
  14. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 3

    Hmm...given what we know about Scotty's family, something tells me this trip might not go well...
  15. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 3

    LOL! We'll, they're dysfunctional, but not exactly psychotically so. I'll probably post the next chapter either tonight or tomorrow.
  16. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 3

    Yes, but even so, it could prove embarrassing. I know how it feels to be a visitor in a household that's not running smoothly--ouch.

    BTW, odd comment: I really like the title of this episode. I enjoy archaic-sounding titles for some reason...for the same reason I really liked the name of the Voyager episode, "Concerning Flight."
  17. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    Re: Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 3

    Well, yeah. Definitely. ::laughs:: Been there myself.

    Thank you! Most of my titles are pretty simple, and probably archaic. And I don't remember which Voyager episode that is, but you're right -- the name is awesome.
  18. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio
    Arc of the Wolf: On the Nature of Wind - Part I, Chapter 4

    Chapter 4:

    Saturday, December 31st, 2242
    Unmarked Lane in BFE
    Outside of Aberdeen, Scotland, Earth

    The moment he got there, Corrigan understood all of a sudden exactly why Scotty had been so nervous first walking up to his house in Maine. It wasn't so much the uneasiness of being in a strange place... in this case, on a dirt road a good several miles from Aberdeen proper, half-secluded in the woods, a stiff wind blowing out of the North, and the underlying smell of another country all together. No, it wasn't that, it was knowing that you were going to talk to people who you didn't know, and try to make a good impression because that was what was expected of you by your best friend and co-conspirator. That was why he stood outside of the brightly lit house for a good twenty minutes in the cold, mustering his courage.

    The house itself was two stories of stone and wood, and the windows glowed in a cheerful welcome. All around were people's vehicles, and that alone was an odd lot, from an actual shuttlecraft off in the clearing to the right to a horse-drawn carriage. Laughter occasionally drifted out from the cracked door, and every once in awhile a shout was heard for something or other.

    So he took his time getting up his courage, trying to figure out how he would fit into Scottish customs, since from what he had heard, they were far flung and varied. He paced, rubbing his hands together, and hoped for salvation.

    "So ye plan on standin' here all night, just bidin' yer time?"

    Corry turned on his heel, raising an eyebrow at his roommate who had snuck up in the shadows. "I'm... I'm just admiring... I mean, I'm taking a breath of fresh air. Long ride here, you know."

    "Aye, right." Scott stepped over, sticking his hands into his pockets. "I dinna think ye'd make it."

    "Didn't," Corry corrected, though more jokingly. Near a year ago, he'd been more serious about toning down that accent -- now it was habit. "And I did."

    Scott twitched at the correction, probably suffering flashbacks to when he was being stopped every sentence. "Sorry, didn't. And speakin' of, my cousins decided to tell me I was talkin' odd."

    Corry grinned. He counted that as a success. "Yeah? Well, that just makes my day. But I haven't quite succeeded in getting you ostracized yet."

    Scott smirked at that, briefly. "I've ostracized myself. Mum went and put me in charge o' watchin' the whole lot o' brats. And while they may well be bonnie lads an' lassies every other day, they've been eatin' pure sugar all evenin'." Tossing a glance back at the house, he grinned wickedly. "I'm in no rush to get back in."

    "Makes two of us, then," Corrigan muttered, leaning on the fence that lined the driveway. "Anything I should know before going in there? Like... greetings, or um... and do I have to eat haggis? Or wear a kilt? Or do some sort of weird sword dance?"

    "What?" Scott shook his head, amused, and leaned closer. Dropping his voice to a conspiring whisper, he confided in perfect deadpan, "Corry, whatever book ye read tellin' ye this muck... throw it out."

    Corry frowned. "But I thought--"

    "Know what she made? Steak an' potatoes, oysters, um... Chaudrée de l'Atlantique au saumon--"

    "Huh?" Corry asked, trying to ignore how the French was utterly butchered.

    "Salmon chowder. French salmon chowder."

    "Like chowder as in New England Clam Chowder? Red or white?" This was already beginning to look a little brighter. Corrigan was almost sure he would have to go through arcane rituals, and now someone was presenting him with a sort of homelike dish.

    "White, and it's somethin' like that, aye," Scott admitted, with a barely concealed smirk.

    Corry thought about it for a moment. "So I won't have to eat haggis?"


    "And you have something like clam chowder?"

    "Aye." Glancing to the door again, then back at Corry, Scotty raised his eyebrows. "Ready to give this a try, or should I go and slay a sheep first, bathe in its blood and chant a spell to keep the demons away from ye?"

    "I think I'm ready." Corry steeled himself as well as he could, walking towards the house. He wasn't sure what he expected when he opened the door, exactly, but he certainly noticed that there were people everywhere. Everywhere. Older people, people his age, children... it was a madhouse. Backpedaling slightly, he ran into his roommate, who gave him a shove. "Uhhhh..."


    "Am not."

    Scott rolled his eyes in exasperation, leaning on the doorframe and pointing. "All right, we'll start nice and easy. That's my mum Caitlyn back there, the one dishin' out soup. She's the reason we're eatin' French food. And over there's my father, Robert. He's an artsy type... does interior designin'. The bitch he's talkin' to... pardon the language, is Callie. She's my sister, and thinks she's the best thing to come to the art community since Monet. Still with me?"

    Corry nodded seriously, filing the names in his mental cabinet. Caitlyn - angel, Robert -artsy, Callie - bitch. "Still here."

    "Those're the important people, since they'll still be here tomorrow mornin' when we're hung over and in foul moods." Smirking slightly, Scott nodded to a middle-aged woman sitting on the couch, surrounded by children of all sizes. "That'd be Colleen, one o' my aunts, and that brood beggin' her for candy consists of... in no particular order, mind ye... Mary, William, another Robert, Tara, Heather, Heck... I still think he was named as a joke... Fiona, Kathleen, and Abigail. Now, they don't all belong to her... some're Stuarts, a couple o' McGowans, one or two Scotts."

    "Is that all? Please say that's all," Corrigan whimpered, just trying to remember a few of those names -- and that was only about a fourth of the people actually in the room. He was suddenly glad his family was so contained.

    "No, we still have the rest o' the aunts and uncles..." Apparently feeling some pity, Scott grinned. "But I'll let ye take a--"

    "Montgomery! Who've ye got there, lad?"

    "--break." Taking a deep breath, Scotty shrugged at Corry and started weaving his way through the people, trying hard not to step on any children who happened to be underfoot. After looking back over his shoulder to make sure his hapless roomie was following, he made his way to the back table where his mother was. "Mum, this is Corry... er, Andrew Corrigan, my roommate at the Academy."

    "Oh, I'm so happy to meet ye!" She seemed to be, too. She practically beamed. "Ye know, it's really good Monty has a friend, he was always so shy--"

    Scotty wasn't quite able to stifle a tortured wince. "Mum..."

    "Ne'ermind, Montgomery, ye just be a good lad and get a few more bowls from the kitchen."

    "Aye, Mum," Scott said, with a sigh, slinking off down the dark hallway towards the other brightly lit room.

    Corry resisted the urge to smirk, though some part of him winced in sympathy. But it was kind of nice to see the tables turned somewhat, and he offered over his best schoolboy smile to Caitlyn. "Ma'am, it's a pleasure. And this chowder smells just terrific."

    "Ye mean that? Here, let me get ye a bowl, ye poor thing, ye must be starved after flyin' over here from Maine." Smiling in turn, she went to ladling out some of the white soup.

    Taking the few seconds to get his bearings, Corry finally relaxed. Aside from the hustle and bustle of so many people, the house itself was very warm and lively. It wasn't as brightly lit as his parents house, sort of mellow lighting, and a fire was burning in the stone fireplace. Every spare piece of furniture was in use, and it seemed like everyone was relaxed -- just a rather large family gathering.

    Taking the bowl that was offered to him, he smiled thankfully at Caitlyn. Christ, it was almost uncanny how much Scotty looked like his mother... same coloring, same lines. It wasn't hard to see who had inherited what from whom. "You're a professional chef, right?"

    "Aye, spent my whole life cookin'. Monty told me ye hailed from Maine, and I thought ye might like somethin' that reminded ye of home a bit. Been meanin' to try this out, it's a little diff'rent from what I use to make on tour." Pausing for a moment to fix a lock of hair that had fallen loose from the bun, she looked around the room. "And speakin' of, where's that boy gotten to? He's such a good lad, but it doesna take much to distract 'im."

    Corry nodded at that, though in the back of his mind he was wondering where she got that from -- trying to distract Scotty when he was working was like trying to get blood out of a stone. Admittedly, it still remained one of Corry's favorite hobbies. He took a bite of the soup, then asked, "Want me to go find him?"

    "If ye like. Kitchen's just right down there."

    Nodding smartly, Corry took his bowl with him as he made his way back towards the kitchen. Stepping in, he didn't immediately find the other cadet... well, until he looked around the corner of the counter and found him fiddling with the garbage incinerator. "Your mother's looking for you."

    "In a minute," Scott replied, distractedly, sitting back for a moment to squint at the readout panel. "I just got this thing workin' a few days ago, and the cheap piece o'... nevermind." Taking a moment to sigh with an expression that could only be described as 'henpecked to bloody ribbons', he looked back up at Corrigan. "Bowls, right?"

    "Yeah. I'll get 'em if you want, though."

    "Ye'd have my eternal thanks."

    Corry chuckled, shaking his head and searching through the cabinets until he found the bowls that matched the one he left on the counter. "You look like you need to get out of here."

    "Understatement o' the century there."

    "So what're we gonna do?"

    Scott stood, brushing his hands off and leaning on the counter, thoughtfully. "I was thinkin' that if we decided to avoid runnin' around the whole o' Aberdeen with the family, we could be smart lads and spend Hogmanay doin' a little... how to put this politely?... ditchin' the relatives and gettin' stupid at the pubs."

    "Hmmm... hang out with your brood or go drink, hang out with your brood or go drink..." Corry grinned, a grin of complete mischievousness. "I think I'll take option B."

    "Aye, I thought ye might."

    Corry finished the chowder while Scott took the bowls out to his mother. It wasn't that he would have minded going around and doing whatever they were supposed to be doing, but after seeing just how many people were there, the idea of branching off seemed a lot more appealing. He crossed his arms, waiting until Scotty made his reentrance, looking even more henpecked than before... if that was possible. "Clean getaway?"

    "Clean as it gets, in this house." Buttoning his jacket, Scott tossed a glance to Corrigan. "Ready?"

    Corry shrugged, standing up straight. "Ready as I'll ever be."

    "So, here I was, took off like a bloody fool in the middle of a gale... a'right, wasna the middle o' the gale, but the wind was kickin' up. An' me, bein' the patent idiot I am on occaaaasion, jus' stayed aloft, clingin' to the bar for dear life." Downing what had to have been his umpteenth straight shot of Scotch, Scotty leaned on the bar with a distinctly plastered look. They still hadn't made it into the actual city, having stopped off at one of the smaller roadside taverns for just one drink. That was several drinks ago, and not even a full hour; they had started the night pretty much like that had every time they'd gone pub-crawling -- basically leaping into a wager on who could drink more quicker and still remain standing.

    Corry laughed, shaking his head and pushing his hair out of his eyes. "Didja land safe?"

    "Nooooooo, oh no, nu uh. I'm really..." Nodding a few times and trying not to giggle, Scott leaned closer, whispering, "...dead. As a doornail." Sitting back again with a bright grin, he continued, "O' course I landed safe. Right smack in the middle of a bale o' hay, had to wade through cattle, an' got home stinkin' to high Heaven. Was a right bonnie trip, that."

    "I once took the boat out alone in a storm." Corry nodded as well, with a seriousness that was bordering goofiness, draining his own glass and gesturing for another. "Was all kinda windy out there, white capped waves, and here I was on a skiff getting the hell beat outta me. Made it back alive, though, unlike you."

    "Aye, poor dead me. I'll drink to that."

    "And I'll drink to being alive."

    Picking up his shot, Scotty took it in one belt, which was no doubt less painful this late in the festivities. Slamming the glass down on the bar, he looked at the clock -- almost 2200, and they still weren't even into the city itself. "We haveta go."

    "I dun wanna move, though." Corrigan complained, though he pulled himself up off of the barstool reluctantly. "Tell me again why we took horses?"

    "Couldna convinced anyone to let us take a real vehic... ve..." Not quite able to get the word right, Scott finally settled on, "ye know."

    "Ayuh." Tossing down a handful of credits and not even bothering to count them, Corrigan half-walked, half-staggered out to the tree where they had tied the two horses they'd hijacked quite slyly from the carriage. Looking up at the largish beast, he tried to figure out how to climb up, what with riding bareback like that. Hard enough when he was sober, but now that he was officially getting just a bit tipsy, it proved to be impossible. "Can't we just lead 'em?"

    "Ye wanna walk?" Taking the bridle and half using it for support, Scott led his steed (the put upon beast that it was) over to the steps of the tavern. After about three tries, he succeeded in getting up onto the horse's back, and promptly gave Corry a smug little look. "See? Easy as can be."


    "Just c'mon."

    Following the other cadet's example, Corry took his few tries before clambering up. Taking the reins into his hands, he looked down both ways of the darkened road, pretty oblivious now to the cold wind that was still powering down from the North. "Which way?"

    "Thattaway," Scott said, nodding proudly towards a footpath into the woods. "I know a short... short..."


    "Aye, that."

    "Is that a good idea?"

    "Ye wanna get there before midnight, right?" Pulling on the reins and bringing a whole new meaning to the term drunk driving, the Scotty headed for the path, singing some barely-coherent Gaelic-sounding tune. After a moment, still not sure it was a good idea, Corry followed.

  19. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

    Oct 27, 2008
    NE Ohio

    "We're lost." And forgotten, and with no hope of rescue. Corrigan was getting a little more clear-headed by that point, at least clear enough to notice that the path they had been on was long gone and it was a bit chilly out there. Add in the fact that the horses were about ready to declare a strike, and it was starting to look bleak.

    "We're not lost, just..." Scott pulled his horse up short, looking around blearily, thinking more and more about his nice, warm bed. "Tempor... uhm, misplaced."

    Corry shook his head, then took to surveying the area again. The moon was out, which shed a little light into the trees, but that didn't offer much in the way of direction. "Is all of Scotland this sparsely populated?"

    "Nu uh... we shoulda come 'cross somethin' somewhere by now. Unless we're goin' in circles." Which was possible. He was an engineer, afterall, not a navigator.

    "Time is it?"

    "Dinna know."


    "Mum's gonna murder me... aye, she'll just string me up an' that'll be the end o' that." Leaning over the horse's neck for a moment, Scott groaned. He could see it -- they stagger in after several days lost; bruised, tired, and too weak to run away -- and then... "I'm a dead man."

    Corry laughed. "We established that, didn't we?"

    Shooting an irritated glance back, the other cadet sat up straight again. "A'right, really dead this time. Double dead."

    "I won't let 'er kill ya. Who'd design the ship if you bit it?" Corrigan nudged his horse up until he was along side Scott. "Besides, you're only my best friend. And think about it! How many Starfleet cadets can say that they got lost in the woods on horseback, drunk, and lived to tell about it?"

    Taking advantage of the setup, Scott lowered his voice to an almost sinister level, eyeing Corry with a wicked look, "Who says we're gonna live?"

    Frowning, Corrigan held the gaze. "Of course we're gonna live. Someone's bound to find us."

    "But how soon?" Having all too much fun, the younger cadet set his horse to a slow walk, circling Corry. "Ye know, there're stories of all sorts in these parts. In fact," Scott continued, lowering his voice further still, until it was just above the sound of the wind in the trees, "once I heard 'bout this group o' highwaymen... y'know, the men who useta jump from the trees and cut the throats of innocent travelers."

    A little spooked, either because of the booze or because his friend was very good at taking advantage of bad situations, Corry swallowed hard. "That's bullshit. There haven't been reports of highwaymen for centuries."

    "Oh, but ye never know, do ye? Maybe they're just waitin'... waitin' for someone dumb enough to wander away from the lights, away from the safety o' the city..." There was nothing quite like abusing someone's drunkenness. And cultural misconceptions. "Common 'round these parts, all the way up past the third world war, ye know. Cut-throats, radioactive mutants..."

    "If there were highwaymen, they'd never bother with two cadets," Corry tried, lamely.

    "Waitin' in the trees, watchin' for a chance to leap down--"

    Something rustled in the brush, and that was all the influence Corrigan needed to lose his entire sense of reality. He kicked the horse in the side, probably by accident, held on by what could only be the sheer force of fear when it reared up, and only just managed to grab onto its mane in time when it took off at a full gallop.

    While watching Corry get repeatedly slapped in the face by woodland brush was good, he couldn't very well be left to find his way anywhere by himself, so Scott took off after him. At least he had the sense to avoid the worst of the branches, though; he counted almost fifteen pained 'ow's' before Corry managed to get his horse back under control.

    Scott stopped his only a moment or two behind. "Cor... oh, God, the look on yer face..." Dissolving into giggles again, he almost fell off the horse.

    Corry glared ice chips, slipping down and breaking off a thin branch from a sapling nearby. "Just keep laughing, because I'm about to seriously hurt you."

    "It was a stick... I threw a bloody stick, and ye lost yer mind." Having no clue what was up with the sapling, Scotty was still damn amused with himself. Afterall, if you couldn't take advantage of your drunk buddy and scare twenty years off of his life, who could you take advantage of? He was sure it wouldn't work, but apparently the timing, the whistling of wind, Corry's already odd misconceptions about Scotland, the alcohol and the entire mood all worked together for this little masterpiece.

    Swatting the other cadet across the arm with the branch, Corry waited until the yelp quit echoing before saying, "Well, you have your stick and I have mine."

    "I'm not apologizin'..." Scott said, then whimpered and fell back to rubbing at his arm. That'd leave a nice welt, he was sure. "Ye dinna have to get mean about it."

    "You scared the Hell outta me!" Corrigan had an obvious debate with himself, raising the branch again, then apparently decided he had gotten the point across and dropped it. "Now, before we get into any more trouble, do you have any idea where we are? Or what time it is?"

    "No," Scotty answered, fairly well sobered up himself now. Relatively speaking, anyway, compared to what he had been. "I suppose if we head in one direction, we should end up somewhere."

    Corry nodded, dragging himself back up onto the horse's back and taking the reins in hand. He held a hand over his heart for a moment, then gestured. "All right, lead on."

    "Turn my back on ye? Ohhhh no, by all means."

    "You know your way! I don't!"

    Raising an eyebrow, Scott asked, "Ye sure? We are lost, afterall."

    Corry rolled his eyes, nudged the horse into a walk, and took the lead.

    It was the booms of the fireworks going off in Aberdeen, signaling the new year, that finally gave them the right direction. Of course, by that point, they were both too cold and tired to think about turning around and heading into the city, so they simply sang a few verses to Auld Lang Syne, talked back and forth about the great days gone by, and came to the conclusion that this jaunt would probably be remembered simply because of its relative stupidity.

    So when the lights of the house came back into view, and the two cadets trudged their tired horses up the lane, it was a welcome sight. One of those, 'you're still alive no matter how stupid you've been' sights, which generally greet the baffled, the moronic, and the young and foolish. They had fulfilled at least two of those requirements, and were close on the other two.

    Most of the vehicles were gone, though the carriage that the horses had come from and the shuttlecraft in the field were still there. Shaking his head, Scott slid off of his horse and tied the reins to the fence, close enough to the water trough that had been set up for them. He wasn't particularly bothered by missing the celebration in town -- the stunt he had pulled on Corry was more than worth it. If he were an artist, he would have been tempted to paint the scene.

    "My butt's gonna hurt for a month," Corrigan complained, following his friend's example. "I've never ridden a horse that long."

    "Well," Scott said, amiably, "if anyone tells ye it's like bein' with a woman, ye c'n tell 'em to take a hike."

    "That's pleasurable. This isn't."

    Shaking his head, Scotty chuckled and headed for the house. He had been riding for years, but had since fallen out of the habit. Morning would probably show just how much, and how many muscles he'd abused. Tossing a glance back over his shoulder, he paused to let Corry catch up, just about ready to toss this night up to experience.

    So when the gut-wrenching, blood-curdling, almost inhuman howl came, it was more like being dipped in engine coolant. That instantaneous, frozen reaction of the damned, the cursed, the confused. The horror as it all came to play out, the figures that glowed eerily, the gibbering nonsense, the black-painted faces...

    ...the hard thud as the two cadets slammed into the ground.

    Terrified beyond all possible description, Scotty couldn't even manage a cry of fear. The world had just turned into something surreal, though the logical part of his mind (the part that wasn't working) might have told him that there was nothing to panic over. As far as he was concerned, panic was a good idea, but by the time he realized that, he was already pinned to the muddy ground and a somewhat familiar voice was all too jolly above, "So what d'ye think we should do t' our horse thieves 'ere?"

    The other voice, the one above Corry's muffled shouts for help, heavenly or otherwise, replied, "Oh, I dinna know. Skin 'em, maybe?"

    "Aye, that'd work mos' times. Wouldna learn anything that way, though."

    "D-do... do I get a vote in all o' this?" Scott asked, albeit timidly, once he finally got his breath back.

    "'Course not." Grinning merrily, the man stood up and offered a hand down.

    Taking the hand, the cadet pulled himself up, not really surprised that he was shaking from head to toe now. Looking over at Corry, it was a little bit of a reassurance to find him in the same condition; muddy, confused, shaking, and otherwise a little dazed. It took another minute to find his voice again. "Cor, these.." pausing for a moment, he tried to find a polite word instead of a curse, "gentlemen happen t' be my uncles."

    "Wonderful family," Corry murmured, eyes still wide.

    "Charlie's the name, lad," the one who had Corry pinned said, grabbing his lifeless hand and shaking the hell out of it. "The horses ye decided to borrow happen to be mine."

    "N-nice to meet you."

    "This one's Edward," Scott muttered, gesturing to their other assailant. "Mum's brothers, an' both a bit wrong in the noggin."

    Edward frowned, swatting his nephew upside the head. "Watch yer tongue, Montgomery. We prob'ly saved ye a chewin' from yer mother."

    "A chewin' would be preferable to bein' scared gray!" Scotty protested, though not nearly as seriously as he would have liked. "Were ye just layin' in wait?"

    Charlie grinned, oblivious to the way Corrigan cringed when he threw an arm across his shoulders. "We saw ye ridin' back the road... just got here maybe twenty minutes ago. Thought we'd don some warpaint and give ye a proper greetin', o' sorts. O' course, lad, if'n ye want us to tell Cait what happened--" Seeing Scott blanch white, he chuckled, "Well, we dinna tell 'er yet."

    "So how 'bout we just use this as a learnin' experience? Ask before ye borrow a man's horses." Quite satisfied with the way it was all playing out, Edward nodded smartly and headed back for the house, basically leaving it at that.

    Certainly not about to argue, for fear of incurring motherly wrath, Scotty waited until both men were out of earshot before leaning on the fence with both hands and taking a few good, deep breaths. "Unfair."

    "If you wanna call foul, I'll deny knowing you," Corry replied, leaning beside his roommate, likely trying to come to grips with his second scare of the night. "Man... I'm half tempted to just hop the shuttle back to Belfast tonight. At least I know I'm safe on campus."

    "Take me with ye, if ye do." Looking back at the house, Scott nodded to himself. "I love 'em, Cor... but ye know that old sayin', 'too much of a good thing' an' all that."

    Nodding emphatically, Corrigan had no problem agreeing, "Aye."
  20. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    AAAAHAHAAHAHA! What an epic night! That'll teach 'em to think going out and "getting stupid" is a good idea... ;)

    Ohhh, and you know, you CAN get arrested for DUI for riding a horse intoxicated. Seriously. It's happened. ;)