Tales of the Border Service: Birth and Rebirth

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by TheLoneRedshirt, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Author’s Note: For in-depth background for this story, I would refer you to Tales of the USS Bluefin: “Crossroads” and Tales of the Border Service: “Trash Day”

    Tales of the Border Service: “Birth and Rebirth”

    Stardate 54631.42 (19 August 2377)
    USS Pamlico
    Sector 0431

    Lt. Commander Kelendi Nor Huren, C.O. of the Buoy Tender Pamlico, sat in the crew’s mess across from CPO Peter McManus. Both of them were staring intently at PADDs, their mugs of tea ignored and growing cold.

    “What about Lt. Kamakawa?”

    McManus shook his head. “He’s put in his walking papers. I hear he’s going back to Okinawa to raise orchids.”

    “Lt. Vrelshan?”

    “Just got promoted to Lt. Commander. She’s being transferred to Star Station Able as Deputy Station Manager.”

    “Lt. Ch’Raalin Th’Vor?”

    McManus cocked his head at Nor Huren. “Lass, did ye not hear? He’s headed back to Andoria. Th’Vor got appointed to their Planetary Council.”

    Nor Huren tossed her PADD on the table. “Well good for him,” she said, sarcastically. She dropped her face into her hands and sighed – her frustration all too apparent.

    “Pete, how hard can it be to find a replacement XO?”

    A look of sympathy spread across the Scotsman’s broad face. “Dinna give up, lass. There’s one out there . . . it just may take a wee bit ‘o time to find him.”

    “It’s been eight months, Pete. I’d say it’s taking more than a ‘wee bit’ of time.”

    Eight months prior, their former Executive Officer, Lt. Kep Tien, had suffered an emotional breakdown and threatened the bridge crew with a phaser. Commander Nor Huren had knocked Tien out with a well-thrown data PADD, saving the object of Tien’s ire, Ensign “Pudge” Patterson from being reduced to sub-atomic particles.

    Now Tien was back on Earth in a psychiatric facility and the Pamlico was still without an XO. The reduction in overall fleet strength, accompanied by the attrition of qualified officers was making the search that much tougher. Add in the fact that a billet on a buoy tender was pretty much at the bottom of any officer’s list of preferred assignments, and the task became nigh impossible.

    Chief McManus continued scrolling down his PADD until he came to a name he had previously highlighted. He knit his brow as he considered mentioning the candidate again. (Nor Huren had rejected the suggestion outright the first three times McManus had brought it up.)

    He cleared his throat. “Skipper . . .”

    Nor Huren kept her head down on the table. “I know what you’re going to say, Pete. The answer is still no.”

    “He’s the most qualified candidate of the lot.”

    “Over-qualified, I’d say. He’s a full commander.”

    “Not anymore. He’s been busted back to Lieutenant.”

    “Well that’s reassuring. You’re not scoring points for him, Pete.”

    “His C.O. on the Illustrious gave him high marks when he served as tactical officer.”

    “We don’t need a tactical officer, Pete. We don’t have any weapons. Besides, I’m more concerned about his service on the Horace Greely.”

    “He saved the lives of two Border Service officers.”

    “While trying to save his own. Pete – he’s in prison, for the All’s sake!”

    “And I was in the station brig when you brought me on.”

    Kelendi looked up at that remark. Pete sat with his arms crossed, a sad expression on his face.

    “That was different,” she said, but her retort sounded weak to her own ears.

    “How so?”

    She straightened. “Rehm’yat!” she exclaimed, using a mild Rigellian oath. “You weren’t involved with the Orion Syndicate. You weren’t part of a rogue Starfleet crew that was actively smuggling drugs and weapons. And you aren’t addicted to Corillan Acid!”

    “I’m an alcoholic, lass,” he said, gently. “Not so different.”

    “You’ve been sober for almost two years – you don’t even touch Synthehol !”

    “That doesna change the fact that I’m an alcoholic, Skipper. Recovering, yes, but I was still a mess when you pulled me out of the brig and onto Pamlico.

    “That was different.” She lowered her eyes and folded her arms, stubbornly.

    McManus chuckled. “Not very. Just ‘cause I saved your arse a half-dozen times when you were but a snot-nosed Ensign.”

    “More like ten times,” she said, softly.

    They sat quietly for a few moments, each alone in their thoughts.

    “Well, at least he’s never shot up a bridge with a phaser,” she admitted.

    “Aye. There’s that in his favor.”

    She eyed the gray-haired NCO. “Pete . . . is this your idea of somehow atoning for your own past? Because, if it is . . .”

    He shook his head. “No, lass. But I do know what it’s like to get a second chance. I’m grateful for the opportunity you gave me every day.” He held up the PADD for emphasis.

    “I’ve read enough about this lad’s situation to think that, maybe, he deserves another chance too.”

    * * *

    Stardate 54632.69 (20 August 2377)
    New Zealand Penal Colony
    Auckland, New Zealand, Earth

    “Prisoner Bane, approach the door to your cell,” announced the guard.

    Ian “Jack” Bane rolled from his bunk, wincing at the ever-present pain in his side, and stepped forward toward the glowing portal.

    The guard, a Starfleet security NCO, carried a stun batton at the ready as he stared impassively at Bane. The non-com tapped his combadge.

    “Lower force field on Beta 21.”


    The blue glow surrounding the entrance to his cell faded, as did the background hum that sometimes seemed to lodge in his brain.

    “Prisoner Bane, step forward, then right face.”

    Bane complied. He always complied. It was his life now, and had been for over six months. In prison, he was no longer Commander Bane, not even Lt. Bane. Such titles were not allowed for inmates. He was not even given the courtesy of “Mister.” It was always “Prisoner Bane” or just “Bane.” At least it was slightly better than being called by a number.

    “Move forward,” ordered the guard.

    “Where are we going?” asked Bane. Sometimes the guards would answer. Usually they would remain silent. Once, a guard having a bad day had prodded Bane in the kidney with his stun batton. He had awoken in sickbay a few hours later, the pain in his side still searing despite the heavy pain medication. He could thank his former C.O., Captain Elena de Souza for that. The phaser they had wrestled over had been set to kill but not disrupt. Nevertheless, he had caught part of the beam along his side, resulting in a two-month hospital stay.

    The guard who had prodded him with the baton had been relieved and reassigned, or so he had heard through the prison grapevine. As to Captain de Souza, he did not know where she had ended up. Most likely, she was in a maximum security prison - Sundancer, perhaps. But he did not care.

    “You have visitors,” replied the guard.

    This surprised Bane. When he had first arrived at New Zealand Penal Colony, his mother had visited him twice a week. After all, Australia was practically next door from a planetary scale. But Bane’s morose attitude became more than his mother could take. Finally, his younger brother, Nick (Nigel’s twin) had come alone one Sunday and told him that he was putting a stop to their mother’s visits.

    “It’s eating Mum alive to see you like this, Jack. She still hasn’t gotten over Dad’s passing and now you’ve pissed away your career and probably your life. When you decide you want to do more than just stare out the window, let me know. Otherwise, you can just sod off.”

    That had been three months ago. He had made no attempt to contact home, though his mother continued to send messages. He neither read nor replied to them.

    “Stop here,” ordered the guard. Bane complied as a scanner checked him for contraband.

    Who would want to smuggle something out of prison? he wondered, idly. Bane steeled himself for the doors to the visiting area to slide open. He did not relish an encounter with his family.

    But it was not Nick Bane nor his mother who awaited him. Three people were standing in the commons area – the rest of the space was unoccupied. Two he recognized – Dr. Trinidad, the prison CMO and the JAG officer who had represented him, Lt. Voorties. The third was a Border Service captain – a human male with brown skin and a shaved head. Bane noted the expression on the Captain’s face was one of pure contempt.

    Bane had grown accustomed to that look.

    Lt. Voorties, a stocky woman from Capetown offered a professional smile and gestured for Bane to sit.

    “Jack, this is Captain Meyer of the Border Service. He, um, has new orders for you.”

    Bane glanced from Meyer back to Voorties. “Orders? What are you talking about? I have nearly five years left on my sentence.”

    “Just shut up and listen, Lt. Bane,” growled Meyer. It was apparent he neither cared for Bane nor the orders he was about to convey.

    “In case you hadn’t heard, prisoners are not entitled to be addressed by rank . . . sir.

    Voorties was clearly uncomfortable with the turn the conversation had taken. “Why don’t we . . .”

    “As you were, Lieutenant Voorties,” interrupted Meyer brusquely, his eyes boring into Bane’s. “Like I was saying, Lieutenant Bane, I need you to refrain from the urge to open your mouth while I’m speaking. I’m well aware of the rules here, mister. Against my better judgment, your sentence has been commuted to time served and your commission has been reactivated.” He held up a PADD and began to read.

    “You are directed and required to report to Star Station Echo no later than Stardate 54640. There, you will be attached to the Seventh Border Service Squadron and assigned as Executive Officer of USS Pamlico, under the command of Lt. Commander Kelendi Nor Huren. Your commission of Lieutenant is effective as of this Stardate. Failure to report will result in immediate incarceration and revocation of your commuted status.”

    He looked up and a small smile crept across his lips. It was not a pleasant expression.

    “In other words, you frak this up, Bane, and you’ll be put away so far and so deep that time itself will lose all meaning. You got that, Lieutenant?

    Bane was genuinely puzzled. “But I don’t understand . . . why me? Hell, I’m not fit for service.”

    “That’s the first thing you’ve said that we agree on,” said Meyer. “To answer your question, I’ve pulled some strings on behalf of an old friend who serves on that ship. For some ungodly reason, Chief McManus thinks you may be worth salvaging. I’ve always trusted his judgment in the past but hell, the old dog might be getting senile. I sure don’t see anything here that gives me much hope for you.”

    Dr. Trinidad stepped forward, obviously displeased by Meyer’s gruff demeanor. “I think you’ve made your point, Captain, and now your duty is done. As CMO here, I need to discuss some matters with Lt. Bane . . . privately.”

    The disdain in Meyer’s eyes did not diminish. “Sure, Doctor. I’ve had my say, so I’ll get out of your hair. Lt. Voorties? It’s your job to make sure Mr. Bane is on a ship outbound to Star Station Echo. It will take at least a week, so I suggest you get this officer cleaned up and on his way pronto.”

    “Aye, sir. We’ll get things moving right away.”

    The Captain nodded. “See that you do. One last thing, Mr. Bane. If you have any notions of going AWOL and reuniting with your Syndicate buddies, just know that there are plenty of Border Dogs in the Borderland that would love nothing better than to put a torpedo up your exhaust vent.” He offered a curt nod to the JAG officer and the doctor before turning and stalking away.

    * * *
  2. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Wow, Starfleet and the Border Service are really scraping the bottom of the barrel, but hey... these are hard times.

    Bane's got a lot to account for and like other notorious returnees to active duty as such Tazla Star he's going to have to prove himself to a great many people.

    A terrific start! :)
  3. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    Well, I wondered how you would make Pamlico interesting...
  4. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    The pickings are slim for the Border Service at present. Most of the "best and brightest" are going to ships of the line in the regular fleet.

    Buoy tenders, well . . . seeing as they are at the bottom of the pecking order, they have to make do. Nor Huren will have her work cut out for her trying to get Jack Bane integrated into Pamlico's crew. Will he cut it as XO or will he flip out like Lt. Tien?

    Stay tuned . . . :devil:
  5. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Oh, I hope to make it interesting, all right. :evil: The addition of Jack Bane to the crew is only part of this story. The next chapter should be up later today.
  6. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    I love me a good redemption story. Im fact you could say I've got a weak spot for those fallen out of graces and given a second chance. But I have to wonder if Pimlico is the right place for Jack Bane. Their track record for reliable XO's isn't exactly spotless.

    No matter. This promises to be a lot of fun. And if things get tough for Jack, he could always ask for some advice from Star. Or on second thought. Better not.
  7. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    You know, we ought to do a Tazla Star / Jack Bane crossover story. On second thought, there probably aren't enough counselors in all of Starfleet to deal with their issues. :guffaw:
  8. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Admiral Admiral

    Sep 14, 2004

    You know, I didn't comment on the previous story for various reasons, but now I just gotta.

    Have I got this straight? You drove the XO that was actually doing her job nuts and shipped her off to the funny farm just so you could replace her with a violent felon? Really?

    Can I ask you a question? And really, any of you TNG guys can answer. Do you all actually get together in a chat room or somewheres and ask each other "Now what can I put in my story this time to make Admiral2 drive his own forehead through the monitor?" Come on. I can take it. That's it isn't it?

    Look, I think the last XO made some mistakes - and I'm talking about before she went apeshit with the phaser - but at least she was trying to maintain good order and discipline. And contrary to nor Huren's conclusions the XO was undermined by her commanding officer, so blatantly that only a true Star Trek fan could miss it completely. Frankly, I lay Kep Tien's psychotic episode squarely at nor Huren's feet. If redemption stories are so great, why isn't somebody giving Kep a second chance?

    "Yeah, but this way we can give Nigel Bane agita by having his felon older bother in the same service! What a great character story, huh?"

    My forehead...through the screen... :scream:
  9. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    Hey guys, the gig is up. Admiral2 has finally caught on to our plans ...
  10. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Admiral Admiral

    Sep 14, 2004

    I KNEW IT!!!
  11. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 3, 2005
    You had to spill the beans, didn't you? *shakes head*

    How long before you spill our other secrets?
  12. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Okay. Who talked? :shifty:

    Sorry about the monitor, Admiral2. ;)
  13. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Chapter Two

    Stardate 54632.70 (20 August 2377)
    New Zealand Penal Colony
    Auckland, New Zealand, Earth

    “Jack, let’s sit down and talk,” suggested Dr. Trinidad as he gestured to a chair. Bane looked across the visitor’s area at the security guard. The guard stood at parade rest, his gaze fixed impassively on Bane.

    The tall Australian settled into the chair. Trinidad by contrast was much shorter with a dark complexion and wavy black hair. His soft voice still carried the faint lilt of the Samoan Islands.

    Of all the people at NZPC, Dr. Trinidad was the only one who treated Jack like a fellow human being. Sure, his JAG lawyer Voorties was polite, but she always wore a bureaucratic smile. Bane imagined that if he ever said “boo” to her, she’d scream for the guards.

    Trinidad, by contrast, was a genuinely caring person. Perhaps it came from his medical training, but Bane suspected that it was simply a part of the Samoan’s nature. At present, the kindly CMO was the closest thing he had to a friend.

    “We need to discuss your medical situation,” continued the physician. “Your wounds have healed nicely, but the peripheral neuropathy will cause you continued pain for the rest of your life.”

    Bane shrugged. “I’m getting used to it.”

    Trinidad countered with a sad smile. “I hardly believe that. Phaser wounds like the one you suffered affect people differently, but unfortunately, the damage to your neural pathways is permanent. Complicating matters, of course, is your addiction to Celedrixic Quinalamine.”

    Jack smiled wanly. “Corillan Acid. You can say it, Doc – you don’t have to sugar coat it.”

    “No, I suppose not. Like your neuropathy, your body will never be completely free from the affects of Corillan Acid. You’ve survived the physical withdrawal – no small thing – but your brain has been ‘rewired,’ so to speak. If you were to even take a micro-gram of the drug again, your physical dependence would return with a vengeance. Because of that ‘re-wiring’ we are limited in the types of pain inhibitors you can receive. I will, of course, include this in your records for the CMO of your ship.”

    “Doc, I don’t think buoy tenders have CMO’s. I’ll be lucky if there’s a qualified medic on board.”

    “Regardless, this is crucial information Jack! I can’t stress that strongly enough. You must not take anything other than these few meds I’ve listed, and only at the doses indicated. You are easily susceptible to new addictions. What might be normal for the next person could take you back down the rabbit’s hole and the next time you might never climb out.”

    Bane nodded. “Okay, Doc. I get the picture.”

    The irony of the situation was that Bane never set out to become a Corillan Acid addict. It had been Captain de Souza’s twisted scheme to hook him and force his cooperation with her and, by extension, the Orion Syndicate. Unfortunately, no one really believed his story. Captain de Souza had introduced the drug to him gradually by reprogramming his cabin’s supposedly tamper-proof replicator. It had to be an expensive and complicated process for de Souza, but with her Syndicate contacts, she had pulled it off without his knowledge.

    At least until the hallucinations started. And then the mad cravings.

    At first, Bane had thought he was losing his mind. It came almost as relief to him when his former Captain had revealed what she had done and promised to “help him” by providing him what his body and brain craved.

    For a price of course – his cooperation and by extension, the sacrifice of his integrity. All for a few vials of Corellan Acid each month. Just enough to keep him in line, but not quite enough to ease the torrid nightmares, the sense of paranoia and the hopelessness.

    And he had gone along so easily. So much for his oath to serve and protect the Federation. Sure, part of him knew he was on a long slide to destruction. On more than one occasion he had nearly turned himself in.

    But the siren song of the Corellan Acid was too strong.

    His lowest point came when his brother, Nigel, and that Commander Strauss from the cutter Bluefin had confronted Jack and Captain de Souza. As he reflected on the moment, he realized he had come very close to allowing the Captain to kill his brother. Only when she had turned the phaser back on him did Jack finally intercede in an act of utter desperation.

    What followed was a haze of pain and disjointed images. But one image that would not go away was the look on Nigel’s face back on the Greely. Nigel had not been angry, nor shocked.

    His little brother’s face had shown profound disappointment and sorrow.


    Bane blinked and turned to see Dr. Trinidad staring at him with a bemused expression.

    “I zoned out, didn’t I?” said Bane, sheepishly.

    “Just for a moment. Really, you are doing much better in maintaining focus, Jack. You’ve made remarkable progress. Just remember what I’ve told you. I would hate for you to have a relapse.”

    “Relapse?” Jack laughed harshly. “I suppose that’s one way of putting it.”

    Trinidad clapped Bane on the shoulder. “Enough of this maudlin talk. Let’s see about getting you out of here. Ah, there’s Lt. Voorties now!”

    * * *

    Stardate 54639.11 (28 August 2377)
    Runabout USS Ocoee
    On final approach to Star Station Echo

    “Lieutenant? Sir? You might want to wake up. We’ll be arriving at the station in five minutes.”

    Jack Bane drew in a deep breath and rubbed his eyes. “Thanks,” he mumbled to the young ensign. “I’m awake.”

    “The replicator is off-line, but I think there’s still some coffee in the carafe,” she suggested helpfully.

    “No, thanks,” he replied absently and turned his gaze to look out the viewport, effectively dismissing the young officer.

    Ensign Leigh Kelsoe gave a slight shrug and turned back to the flight deck. She took her seat next to the pilot, Lt. (j.g.) Jiang Feng.

    “Not very talkative, is he?” remarked Feng.

    “If he didn’t outrank me, I’d tell him where he could stick his attitude,” replied Kelsoe, obviously miffed.

    They had picked up Bane at Starbase 210, along with four crates of isolinear chips and eight crates of transtators. During the nine hour journey, Bane had barely spoken to either of the flight crew - maintaining an aloof silence.

    “Rank hath its privileges, Mr. Kelsoe,” pointed out the Chinese pilot. “When you get another pip on your collar, you can be rude to junior officers too.”

    She stuck her tongue out at Feng who reacted with mock horror.

    “Why Ensign Kelsoe - that is gross insubordination!”

    Kelsoe pointed through the forward viewport. “And that is the station’s landing bay, Lieutenant, sir. The Lieutenant might wish to bring up the nose a couple of degrees before we fly through that deflector array.”

    Feng quickly turned his attention back to the controls and made the adjustment. Chagrined, his voice became all professional.

    “Impulse engines to idle. Activating thrusters.” He tapped his combadge. “Ocoee to Echo control. Requesting clearance to land in bay 4.”

    “Echo to Ocoee. You are clear to land in bay 4. For a second there, I thought we were going to have to lock ‘tractors on you when you dropped below the glide slope.”

    Feng’s face reddened and Kelsoe tried but failed to hide her grin. “Uh, copy that Echo. Everything’s under control here.”

    “Glad to hear it, Ocoee. Once in the bay, maneuver to starboard and land on pad epsilon. Welcome to Star Station Echo.”

    * * *

    The last time Jack Bane visited Star Station Echo was just before the war. For Jack, those had been happier times – before his transfer to the Horace Greely and his addiction to Corellan Acid. He was a lieutenant commander serving on the Miranda-class Illustrious as Tactical Officer and second in command. He had enjoyed a happy reunion with his little brother, Nigel, and they’d made the rounds of some of the station's drinking establishments. He’d been pleasantly surprised to find a place that served Fosters – the real thing, not the replicated swill he had grown to loathe.

    But that was six years ago. Before the bottom had fallen out of his life. Before he’d learned that hell was very real and existed in little vials filled with amber fluid.

    He stood outside landing bay four on the upper concourse. Beings from many worlds and all walks of life flowed by him in a steady stream.

    It was odd to see all these people walking around freely. A mere six months in prison had acclimated him to isolation from large groups. The sheer number of people was overwhelming.

    He felt beads of perspiration break out on his forehead.

    He badly needed . . .

    “Lieutenant Bane?”

    Jack managed not to jump at the sound of his name. He turned to see a young officer, stockily built with a round cherubic face and a nervous smile.

    “I’m Ensign Larry Patterson . . . from the Pamlico,” he quickly added. “Commander Nor Huren sent me round to fetch you.”

    Bane nodded, still fighting the feeling of near-panic. “Fine,” he replied, tightly, “Lead the way.”

    The smile on Patterson’s face froze as a puzzled expression fought to take over. “Uh, yes sir. Can I take your carry-all?”

    Bane shook his head. “No. I've got it.”

    “Oh, okay then. If you’ll just follow . . .”

    “Is the Bluefin in port?”

    The question surprised the Ensign. The Bluefin? Gosh, sir, I really don’t know. We can check the status board on the way to the ship, if you like.”

    Bane hesitated for a moment. “No – no, that won’t be necessary. Let’s go, Ensign.”

    “Uh, yes sir, Pamlico is this way.”

    * * *

    Stardate 54639.0 (28 August 2377)
    Adrona Colony
    Ballinger III

    “Hon – how far apart are the contractions?”

    Dr. Glenda Hurst settled into the passenger seat of their aging planet-hopper. She smiled at the worried expression on her husband’s face.

    “Scott, they’re still intermittent. I promise I’ll let you know when the intervals become regular. But I would like to make it to Starbase 500 before the baby’s first birthday.”

    Scott Hurst blinked. “Huh? Oh, right! Sure!” He settled into the pilot and began to run through the pre-flight check.

    Dr. Hurst closed her eyes, leaned back in her seat and ran a hand over her swollen abdomen. After many false alarms and two miscarriages, the Hurst’s were soon to have their first child – a little girl. A faint smile formed on the physician’s lips.

    It won’t be much longer, little Sara. We’ve waited so long for your arrival, she thought.

    “Okay,” said her husband of seven years. “Pre-flight is complete – all systems are green. We’ve got a full load of fuel, your bags are on board, and the baby carrier is strapped in for the return trip. Did we forget anything?”

    Glenda smiled at Scott. “They have replicators at the Starbase hospital, sweetie. If we forget something, we’ll be okay.”

    Scott leaned over and tenderly kissed his wife. “You sure are calm about this,” he said.

    “I’m a doctor, babe. It’s my job to be calm.”

    He chuckled. “Riiight. Like the calm you portrayed when Michigan made it to the final four last year.”

    “Hey! I was calm. That was passion!”

    He winked. “You’re pretty good with the passion thing too, Doc.”

    She smirked. “Shut up and fly, dear.”

    “Yes ma’am.” Scott brought the hopper’s thrusters on line. The little ship whined and shook for a moment before slowly rising into the air. He tapped instructions into the nav-computer and advanced the throttles. The craft’s nose pitched skyward and they began to climb rapidly.

    “Forty five minutes to the system boundary, then we’ll take it to warp four. We should make it to Starbase 500 in about 36 hours.”

    Glenda’s hand suddenly shot out and grabbed Scott’s arm, her eyes wide. “Scott!”

    He turned quickly in his seat, alarmed. “What? What’s wrong?”

    She grinned impishly. “Nothing. Just making sure you were paying attention to me.”

    He let out a shuddering breath. “Geez, Glenda! If you keep that up you’ll be treating me for a coronary.”

    “Good thing I brought my med-kit,” she said. She reached over and squeezed his hand. “Sorry about that, babe. Love you!”

    “Love you too, kiddo. Why don’t you get some sleep? It’s going to be a long trip.”

    She sighed and squirmed in her seat, trying to find a comfortable position. “Too wired right now. Maybe later.”

    The silver ship slipped past the second moon of Ballinger III, accelerating to quarter light speed.

    As the tiny craft picked up speed, vibration from the impulse engine opened a crack in a weld seam of the oft repaired and patched Deuterium tank. Fuel began to drip into the dark hold of the old hopper.

    * * *
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2010
  14. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 3, 2005
    Bane is really in for a rough ride...

    ...speaking of which, that hopper is in for a rougher ride.
  15. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    I'm not getting the best of vibes from Bane here. Just a few hours out of prison and his body is already craving the acid. Not good. He'll also have to deal with the adversity of his peers just like Star and Windslow had to. Let's see if he'll fare better.

    And don't you just love the slowly unraveling disaster which is doubtlessly going to strike the clueless couple on their way to deliver their first child. Border Service to the rescue? Let's hope so.
  16. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Chapter Three

    Stardate 54639.14 (28 August 2377)
    Star Station Echo

    As Bane followed after Ensign Patterson, the anxiety attack slowly faded. They made their way to one of the three main docking pods which afforded a spectacular view of the stars and a view of the ships in port.

    Bane spied an Albacore-class cutter through the thick, transparent aluminum, and his feelings of anxiety begin to return before he noticed the name on the gleaming white hull – USS Scamp. He relaxed a bit, exhaling sharply. Patterson did not notice Bane's discomfiture.

    Pudge led them past a massive asteroid-breaker and a small Aerie-class patrol vessel before they came to Pamlico’s berth.

    There was nothing particularly endearing about the small buoy tender. The former Oberth-class ship was obviously refit for servicing navigational buoys and subspace relays. The meager weapons ports had been plated over. Two oversize graviton-beam emitters now protruded from the top of her saucer like warts and a secondary navigational deflector had been wedged into the bow of the saucer. The hull was festooned with patches, the newer plating contrasting with the parts of the hull which were nearly a century old. What aesthetics the Oberth-class had once possessed were gone. The modifications to Pamlico had erased her charm. To Bane, she reminded him of an old woman whose beauty had faded, only to be replaced by tumors and age spots – a victim to the ravages of time.

    “There she is!” announced Ensign Patterson proudly. “Isn’t she great?”

    Bane cast a side-long glance at the young officer, but no – there was no sarcasm in Patterson’s voice. The kid was sincere.

    “Fair dinkum,” he muttered. He refrained from making any disparaging remarks about the little ship. After all, his own life was far more of a wreck than the buoy tender. Who was he to criticize?

    * * *

    Lt. Commander Nor Huren made another turn with her spanner and checked the torque readout. “That looks good Sage. Go ahead and button her up, then light up number two engine.”

    “It will take about ten minutes, Skipper. Did you want me to tear into number one today?”

    Nor Huren wiped her hands on her coveralls. “No – we need to head out in two hours. It can wait ‘til next week.”

    CPO Anderson looked doubtful. “Skipper, we need at least a week in spacedock and pull both impulse units. We’re fifteen hundred star hours past needing an overhaul.”

    Kelendi spread her hands in a “what can I do” gesture. “Sage, with the Saginaw laid up without a warp core, we’re having to handle their routes as well as hours. Once she’s back in service, then we can layover for proper repairs.”

    The petite engineer shouldered the bulky molecular bonder. “If you say so. But if we add anymore spit and bailing wire to these engines, they’re going to come apart when we need them most.”

    The Rigellian C.O. did not know the etymology of “spit and bailing wire,” but she understood Anderson’s point and agreed.

    “No argument from me, Sage. I’ll offer extra Bunatma leaves to the All in my meditations this evening.”

    “Anything would help, Skipper.”

    Nor Huren’s combadge chirped. “Patterson to Captain.”

    “Go ahead, Pudge.”

    “Lt. Bane has arrived, ma’am.”

    “Good. Please escort our new XO to the ward room. I’ll be up in a few minutes.”

    “Aye, Skipper. Will do. Patterson, out.”

    Chief Anderson cocked an eyebrow at Kelendi. “Lt. Bane?”

    “Not the one you’re thinking of, Sage. This is his older brother.”

    Anderson’s eyes widened. “Jack Bane? I thought he was in prison!”

    Nor Huren fixed the engineer with a warning gaze. “Not anymore, Chief. And I don’t want that spread around the ship – understood?”

    Sage shrugged. “Sure, I won’t say anything. But I would think some of the other non-coms would know. What does Pete think?”

    “It was Pete’s idea. Get on that engine, Sage.”

    “Aye, aye.”

    * * *

    Pudge led Bane through the narrow corridors of the buoy tender until they reached the wardroom. Inside, there was a long table with eight chairs, a replicator and a wall-mounted screen which currently displayed the Border Service insignia. The walls were covered with a faux-wood finish – probably from a decades old refit. It was a slight improvement over the uniform gray of the corridors, but seemed somewhat anachronistic. A painting portrayed the Pamlico in her earlier livery as the USS Gordon Cooper.

    At least everything was clean and ship-shape. Once, Bane had cared about those sort of things, until about three months into his time on the Greely.

    Maybe ‘sentence’ would have been a better word, he mused.

    “Sir, if it’s alright with you, I’m going to head to the bridge. We’ll be departing shortly and I’ve got some calibrations to finish at Ops.”

    “Sure, Ensign. Go ahead, and . . . thanks for meeting me at the landing bay.”

    “You’re welcome, sir!” beamed Patterson. “Glad to help.” He bobbed his head, then departed the wardroom.

    Bane chuckled in spite of his dark mood. Where do they find these kids? He wondered.

    He stepped over to the replicator and ordered coffee. A mug materialized and he grabbed it, taking a tentative sip. It was definitely better than prison coffee.

    He turned and saw a tall woman in engineering coveralls regarding him with a bemused expression, leaning against the doorway. She was stunning to say the least – her skin the color of bronze and her eyes a softly glowing golden-brown. Only her hair was askew – a course brass tangle that seemed to have a mind of its own. Lieutenant Commander's pips glistened on her collar.

    “Lieutenant Bane, I presume?” Her voice had a faint accent that was soothing like a breeze on a hot day.

    Bane placed the mug on the table and stood at a casual parade rest. “Reporting for duty, sir.”

    Nor Huren regarded her new XO, maintaining a friendly smile as she hid her shock. By the All – he looks like he’s been drug through the seven hells! The image in Bane’s personnel file was several years old. It had portrayed a healthy, handsome man with a thick mustache and a roguish grin.

    The man before her was much thinner, to the point of gauntness. Shadows hung beneath his eyes, which lacked the luster from his file image. The mustache was gone. So was the smile. The once-thick brown hair was now lank and tinged with gray.

    Bane was perceptive enough to pick up on her slight hesitation. “Sorry for my appearance, Commander. The past few months have been right barmy.”

    She extended a hand in greeting, which he shook perfunctorily. “So I hear,” she said. “Mind if I join you? We’ve got a few minutes to talk before departure stations.”

    “Your ship, your call, sir.”

    She stepped over to the replicator and ordered Gwynt-ja tea. “First matter of business – you can drop the ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am.’ I prefer to keep things informal on Pamlico, as much as possible. Feel free to call me ‘Kelendi’ or ‘Skipper.’ Do you prefer ‘Ian’ or ‘Jack?’”

    Bane felt a bit off-balance. “The only one who calls me ‘Ian’ is my Mother, and only when she’s pissed off at me.” The thought of his mother and the pain he’d caused her made him pause. His gaze suddenly became distant.

    “Alright – Jack it is, then.” She turned from the replicator and paused when she caught his expression. “Are you okay?”

    “Yes. Fine.”

    It was like a wall had suddenly dropped. Nor Huren regarded Bane for a moment before taking a chair.

    “Have a seat.”

    That sounded close enough to an order for Jack to comply. He took a place across from Nor Huren and settled into a chair. His face remained impassive as he took a sip of coffee.

    “Look . . . Jack – I’m sure you’re wondering why you’re here. To be honest, we’ve been without an XO for almost eight months. You’ve met our only other officer, Pudge Patterson. He’s bright, eager and as insecure as a Klingon in a room full of Tribbles. Our senior NCO, Chief Pete McManus, has been acting XO, but he has other duties and he’s not crazy about paper work.”

    Bane took this in and was quiet for a moment. “So, why me? No disrespect, but can’t you find anyone else qualified to serve as XO? You do know about me, right?”

    She nodded. “Yes. I know all about what happened on the Horace Greely. I know about how your former Captain was working for the Syndicate. And, I know about your addiction to Corellan Acid.”

    “Crikey, and you still want me? Your last XO must have been a corker. What was he, an ax murderer?”

    She took a sip of her tea, her gaze never wavering. “Something like that.”

    Bane snorted. “So I get to serve as the first officer of the USS Loony Bin? Thanks, but I think I’d rather serve my time in New Zealand.”

    She shook her head. “Not an option, I’m afraid. You leave this ship without permission and security will have you headed to some place far less pleasant.” Her tone was still conversational, but the hard look in her eyes gave Bane pause. He swallowed.

    “Captain . . .” he began. Nor Huren shook her head and wagged her finer. He sighed.

    “Skipper – I’m going to be straight with you. I don’t think I can cut it anymore. I’ve got more issues than the last four centuries of Reader’s Digest. The CMO at New Zealand says if I take anything as strong as a bloody aspirin, I’ll go bonkers. My attention wanders, I live in constant pain, I’m moody as hell, and I’ve pissed away my reputation and my own family. Is that what you really want in an XO?”

    She took a sip of tea and glanced past Bane. “I’ve seen worse,” she said.

    “Bull!” he muttered.

    “No – Chief McManus, actually. Say hello to our new XO, Chief.”

    Bane turned. A large, barrel-chested non-com stood in the doorway, muscular arms folded. He had a face only a mother could love, assuming said mother was either blind or drunk. It was a face acquainted with brawling and hard drinking. His cauliflower ears hugged a large skull that was covered with close-cropped gray hair. Muddy brown eyes regarded Bane with interest.

    McManus nodded. “Welcome aboard Pamlico, lad.”

    * * *

    Stardate 54639.87 (28 August 2377)
    Aboard a Cosmo-Works Planet Hopper N10778

    Scott Hurst glanced over at his sleeping wife and smiled. Glenda Hurst was the light of his universe. It still amazed him that this beautiful creature had agreed to marry him.

    They were different in so many ways. She was beautiful, brilliant and possessed charm and grace. Not to mention she was a gifted physician. People just naturally loved Glenda.

    He, on the other hand, was not particularly handsome. Scott was quiet and reserved and certainly not a great conversationalist. He was a good engineer, but he often felt more comfortable around machines than around people.

    That had changed when he met Glenda.

    Now, seven years into their marriage, the child they had wanted was due to arrive in mere days. He couldn’t imagine life getting much better than this.

    The computer beeped for his attention.

    Warning. A strong ionic disturbance is 2.3 lightyears ahead along this course. There is a 67.2% possibility that the disturbance will destabilize the ship’s warp field. A course change to 233 mark 14 will avoid the disturbance.

    Scott frowned. That would require them to go well out of there way.

    “Computer – if we make the course change and increase to maximum warp, how much will that add to our transit time?”

    “Changing to the new heading would add 33 hours, 19 minutes.”

    Hurst grimaced. That would almost double their travel time, not to mention cutting their margin for a “safe” arrival down considerably. He was also concerned about running the hopper at warp 6 for that long. She handled warp 4 smoothly but at maximum . . .

    “Computer, if we drop to sublight during these areas of disturbance, then increase our speed to warp six once we’ve passed them, how much time will that add?”

    “Factoring in ten hours, twenty one minutes and eleven seconds at full impulse, transit time would increase by 17 hours 38 minutes.”

    That seemed an easy enough choice for Hurst. Adding 17 hours was far preferable than adding 33 hours.

    “Maintain current heading. Alert me when we are within five minutes of an area of ionic disturbance, and drop us out of warp.”


    Scott rubbed his face and frowned. He didn’t like this new development, but he’d logged enough star hours as a pilot to expect the unexpected. He’d learned that in Starfleet before getting out ten years ago and working as a civil engineer on Ballinger III.

    Still, even with the added 17 hours, they should have at least two more days before the baby was due.

    In the darkened hold of the hopper, Deuterium continued to leak from the holding tank. The slow drip had escalated to a steady trickle.

    * * *
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  17. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    Countdown to disaster for the happy, expecting couple ...

    And Bane is going to be a more difficult case than I imagined. Nothing more dangerous than a failed officer who has given up on himself. This is obviously a make or break situation for Jack but everybody better figure out quick which one it's going to be or there is going to be yet another disaster in the making here.

    By the way, nice work on describing the aging Pamlico. She clearly ain't going to win any beauty contests anymore.
  18. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    It remains to be seen whether Jack Bane can overcome his past. Let's hope so - if he screws up, he could cost lives.

    Thanks! I wanted to distinguish Pamlico from other Oberth- class vessels. She may be homely, but she gets the job done. :)
  19. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Bane's a train wreck to be sure, but he's still getting his head on straight after leaving lockup, so I'm hoping he starts to settle in. His new CO welcomed him in a nice, relaxed way, free of recriminations or threats... it's a good start.

    As for the expecting couple in transit... yeesh! Bad things are on the way. :scream:
  20. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Yeah, Kelendi Nor Huren has a way of putting people at ease.

    But we know how that worked out with the previous XO, don't we? :lol:

    And for the parents to be, what makes you think anything bad is going to happen? :whistle: