Part 1, 2, 3,4 and 5 linked below:
===USS August, bridge/ready room===
Walking out of the ready room Zoteke was feeling quite happy, for the first time in a long time.
Of course he was always happy when he was with his son but now he felt confident and... in the right place... home sort of..
Ahrund was happy as well, with all the pretty lights that shone from almost every surface on the Uss August. Zoteke put Ahrund down on his feet and took his hand.
"Lets go see if we can make this home okay?" he asked the little guy. Ahrund looked up and simply repeated "Hoome! okaaay!!" with a happy face.
They started walking towards the turbo-lifts at the back of the bridge when suddenly something shot up his conscious thinking like a supernova, stopping him in his tracks. His eyes wide he backtracked the conversation he just had in the ready room and replayed the words of the Captain. He suddenly turned, picked up Ahrund and chimed the door to request entry back into the ready room.
Greener announced, before he could sit down. "Yes?"
Zoteke briskly stepped into the ready room and stood at a resemblance of attention. "Sir, i might be mistaking and if so i apologize but did you just call me Lieutenant?"
"Ah yes. Captain Dylan and I like what we've seen of you and what we heard from the Memory Alpha battle. We thought it appropriate to award a battlefield commission based on that and your history."
Flustered Zoteke was at a loss for words for a moment. He'd always had his thoughts about officers, being a man who'd risen through the Marine ranks from the ground up, literally, starting as a private way back. Now he was an officer himself, a genuine legitimate commissioned officer. Finally he found his words again.
"Thank you sir! I'm honored! I will not make you regret this, you have my word!" he stuttered, adding a salute to the words. Caymen returned the salute.
"You earned it... I just apologize for the lack of anything formal at this time. You will be recognized in front of your fellow crew soon enough though.
"Ahrund took the salutes as his queue and mimicked the salute gesture his father had made saying "Thank you. Me like you. You have beard! You grand daddy?"
Caymen chortled. "No, I am not a grand daddy. I have to live vicariously through my fellow crew to fulfill that role." He never felt 'down' for not having children or grandchildren, but he enjoyed time with children on the ship.
Laughing Zoteke patted his pride and joy on the head and saluted the captain once more before turning and walking out the ready room. As the doors closed he turned Ahrund to face him and said "We've definitely found a new home kiddo!" before putting the kid on his feet again. They crossed the bridge and left the bridge in the turbo lift, happily on their way to a new and bright future with the USS August and it's already legendary crew.
A somber scene - sullen, and depressing. Row after row of officers and crew, all standing at attention to bear witness to the joint funeral of their fallen comrades. Lieutenant Davowski is standing in front of the group, in a black and gold dress uniform, adorned with a black & cold coin belt. The look on his face is almost tormented. He breaths deeply, before beginning.
"We are assembled here today, to pay final respects, to our honored dead. These men and women, fought for the safety of Memory Alpha, and the safety of the Federation. Their sacrifice was not in vain.”
"Lieutenant Kwa-Nic', Marine Executive Officer."
There was a long pause here, with the knowledge that he saved many lives in his death.
"Ensign Brian Kalcho, security.”
"Ensign Rond Sa'sho, engineering.”
"Warrant Officer Travis Ferrington, ship operations.”
"Sergeant Gladis Mason, marines.”
"Corporal Grant Worthings, marines.”
"Privates Selena Torentina, Thomas Ellington, Franklin Eugene Smith, Gorbotilz of Jalas, and Rhea 'Pinky' Rosslin.”
"Our comrades were not only members of the Federation - they were our friends. Losing them will never be easy to forget. eath is a shadow that follows the body. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower, we will not grieve - rather find, strength in what remains behind."
Londance ends the Eulogy, there. Caymen spoke up.
"It is at this time that on behalf of Captain Dylan, the USS August and her crew, station Memory Alpha, Starfleet, and the Federation, I present the Purple Heart to all those who depart us today. We hope their families will cherish this as we do their service and their sacrifice."
“In addition, we would like to award a posthumous promotion to Kwa-Nic', to First Lieutenant in the Starfleet Marines."
Captain Dylan saluted Kwa-Nic's casket, and all the marines and officers followed suit with a clap of uniforms and boots shuttered throughout the room. Somewhere in the midst of those gathered, a bugle begins to play 'Taps'. As the slow somber sound of taps played in the great space, Greener nodded somberly to Dylan, who nodded in return.
The two nods told Londance what was next. Londance stiffened his posture a bit, as he stated "Present Arms!"
In unison - the assembled saluted. The caskets carrying the fallen soldiers began moving.
"Order Arms!" The assembled lowered their salute.
Flags that were placed on top of the caskets were pulled off; being symbolically folded.
"Left Face!" The assembled tuned left, facing the port holes.
One by one, the caskets were rocketed out into space; a trail of light tracing their path. Many moments passed before Londance felt it was time to end the ceremony.
"Burial detail, dismissed."
The Traveler's Mark was almost entirely full, at the moment; the reception to follow the funeral was being held in here. All the tables were full, and still - people were standing. No laughter, barely even a mutter; it was silent. By the port holes, a clearing was placed. A glass podium, surrounded by various plant life. A row of holographic emitters created shimmering figures that uncannily represented each of the fallen; behind them, flags to represent their home-world.
Caymen stepped up to the glass podium. The room fell somewhat silent and the captain looked at the holographic images, the flags, and the attendees (nearly everyone on board that could fit or who wasn't on duty).
He cleared his throat. "Fellow crew, officers, civilians, family, and friends. We have honored our fallen heroes in solace and properly put their bodies to rest."
"And we will always remember their names, their efforts, and what they have left behind. But now it is time to celebrate. You might ask yourselves why, and some may not wish to bear a smile this day. And that is fine. But I refuse to let this end on a sad note, and I feel it a necessity to celebrate their lives as much as we honor their passing."
“So on this day, in the year 2409, during one of the fiercest of wartimes, let us rejoice in our lost friends, remembering what they brought to our lives and to the Federation."
Greener nods to Targon, who presses a button on his bartender padd. The holograms salute and smile proudly, before returning to their somber look. Caymen just hoped no one took offense - he had always done something similar to brighten the hearts of those in mourning. They would have time to continue mourning, but it was always good to have a bit of laughter and friendship mixed in.
"Now, if anyone else has something to say, I welcome it. Otherwise, Mr. Londance will say a few words in closing." Greener stepped away from the glass podium, smiling to his comrades, and nodding compassionately at those not able to express joy yet.
A few of the crew stepped up and said a few somber and also laughable words. It was touching and enjoyable across the board. Davowski walked up to the podium, and took a look around the room; taking in the faces of those gathered.
"After everything that has happened in the time I have been aboard the August, I can say only this - these officers died with honor; I can only hope that when my time arrives, that I can show the admirability that they did."
With that small bit, Davowski nodded to Caymen and stepped down. Caymen put his hands up.
"And with that, eat up, drink well, and be merry. Those of us with jobs on this ship have a lot of work to do tomorrow!" They all gathered and mingled and sang songs with the band, playing tunes of various cultures. The drinking was light, and the laughter was not too overdone. But a brief good time was had in honor and celebration of their lost comrades.
==USS August, Sickbay. Some time after the funeral and reception==
After he met with Davroski, Josh went back to sickbay, which seemed empty, save a few of the medical staff. Most of them were going over test results.
"Can I get the medical files of all the new crew on board please?" Josh asked one of the nurses.
The nurse nodded, grabbed a PADD & handed it to the doctor. He began to flip through the files & noticed two files linked together. The files were linked through family relation.
Josh said to himself, "Should brush up on my paediatrics." He then called over the attending nurse.
"Have M. Sergeant Madwan & his son report here for an examination please."
The Nurse softly smiled & went off to do the task.
=/\= Master Sergeant Madwan, please report to sickbay & bring your son along. =/\=
Having been busy all day cleaning out the quarters they'd been given, both Zoteke and Ahrund were enjoying a refreshing drink on the coutch. It was exactly between Ahrund's naptime and dinner time so they still had some time to kill when the comm. signal came in.
"They're quick aren't they. Well, might as well get that out of the way too... " Zoteke told Ahrund. Ahrund pushed the comm-badge for Daddy. Ahrund liked anything that responded to being pushed.
=/\=Acknowledged.. we're on our way.=/\=
Zoteke got up and scooped Ahrund up in his arms. "lets go for a walk ok?" He asked.
"Walk, me put down" Ahrund confirmed and indicating beyond doubt he wasn't being carried. Zoteke knew that insisting on carrying the kid would result in a very audible disagreement from Arhrund. He put him down.
"remember to look where you are going... you know you fall down when you look around to much" he told Ahrund and took him by the hand. It was useless though, as the halls of the ship were filled with people, engineers repairing stuff, sparkles coming from panels and gorgeous shiny button like thingys all around the little guy. It was an overload for the kid who'd been used to the less technology sparkling innerds of an old space station, or on a planet near a space port with his Daddy.
Every few meters the kid stumbled, wanted to veer of to see whatever caught his eye or just simply because he was moving faster with his mind than his feet. It took a while before the odd looking duo, a big chubby 2 meter + marine holding hands with a small 2 year old boy not yet reachin 90 centimers, walked through the swishing doors of the sickbay.
"OOoooooh Moooi!" Ahrund exclaimed taking in a breath so deep in awe that Zoteke thought he might explode. Zoteke smiled, melting away each time he saw something take the breath away of the little one. To be awed so... he was jelous it took so much these days to make Zoteke feel that kind of awe...
Seeing the doctor he stood at attention and saluted.
"Mast... Lieutenant Zoteke Madwan and Ahrund Madwan Reporting as ordered sir."
Josh smiled & said, "At ease before you hurt yourself. I'm going to update your medical files Lieutenant." Josh paused for a moment.
"And we're going to talk about setting up some stuff for your son while he's getting checked out if that's okay?"
"Some stuff.. well, i hope it's going to be more specific than that doctor.. there are some issues i hope we'll be able to adress.. Some physical." Zoteke began, as Ahrund eyed the medical devices the doc. was pulling out with suspicion. As the marine got on the bed, Josh pulled out his tricorder & started to scan.
"So," Josh said, "cute kid."
"The cutest ever. Ofcourse they tell me i am biased... i don't buy that though…"
"I assume that he's still in pre-school?" Josh asked, "Reason that I'm asking is that I was hoping to set some classroom instruction for him while we're on this mission. We're going to be an awful far from fed space.”
"We've kind of been out of the normal routine for a while now sir. After... the loss of my wife and parents we've kind of wandered to get ourselves back together at least somewhat....." Zoteke began but stopped, sighed and then looked the doc in the eye...
"To be honest, i've been doing that. I just took the kid along while i did it. He's not seen a classroom in months.." Zoteke admitted with a tear threatening to break through. It never would ofcourse, Zoteke being a Marine and all.
Josh had finished his scans & said, "Your all set with one little concern. I need you to drop 25 lbs. by your next physical. Your weight is a little to high for my likings."
"Glad your liking is'nt the one that counts. No offense doc but as long as i can outperform the grunts physically.. there's nothing wrong, no matter the weight." Zoteke defended, a bit to forcefully.
"Now," Josh said happily, "time to switch hats. Could ya put the little feller up on the bed please?"
Zoteke's face showed a bit of concern. "This might be a loud couple of minutes" he thought as he bent down to pick up Ahrund. Ahrund had allready figured out he was going to be the subject of attention next, and was nowhere in sight.
"what the.. Ahrund, where are you?!" Zoteke exclaimed. Silence replied. He was hiding.
All Josh could do was laugh. He patted Zoteke on the shoulder & said, "Fast little bugger, isn't he?"
"Eehm yeah, when he wants to be. If he doesn't he can slow you down like nothing else..." Zoteke absentmindedly answered. He was looking under and behind everything he thought Ahrund could've gotten to, and added "And he must've figured you'd be scanning him with that device after you'd scanned me... He want's to be fast right now. He hates devices being used on him for some reason."
"I have an idea." Josh said, "You go find your son. I'll make up something for the little guy."
"Sure.... but that could take a while i guess... Was that door open the whole time?" Zoteke asked pointing at the doorway and walking through it at the same time, looking everywhere for Ahrund.
Josh called over the nurse & said, "Get me a sensor package & set it on active scan, then replicate a stuffed bear with a zipper pocket." The nurse smiled & said, "Covertly taking a bio scan?"
Josh answered, "It's the best idea I got." A light bulb went off in his head.
"And replicate a big bowl of candy." he said, "I'm pretty sure the tyke likes sweets."
How he had done it Zoteke couldn't figure out but Ahrund had succeeded in getting the sickbay doors to open for him and he had allmost dissapeared into an open service duct in the hallway when Zoteke had spotted him. Another crew member helped in catching Ahrund and safely in Dad's arms.
"Me no want Buzzz buzz me" Ahrund exclaimed as if that would explain everything.
"But you need to let the doctor do this so he can make you better when you are sick" Zoteke pleaded, hoping against hope it'd do any good.
"Me know, me no get sick then..." Ahrund informed Zoteke and turned his attention away from Zoteke. The discussion had closed and there was no point in going on and on about it.
Soon the two Madwan's were back in Sickbay. Zoteke noticed the lights were less bright, and the diagnostic table was now occupied by a big stuffed bear and he could smell the bag of candy waiting somewhere out of sight. He couldn't help but notice how quickly and willingly the medical personell seemed to be willing to help him and Ahrund get settled on the August.
Josh called over Zoteke & his son to the bed. He bent down to Ahrund's eye level. "I kinda knew that you'd be scared of any of the beeps & blips. So I made you a nice, fluffy bear. You can play with him if you like." Josh bent back up.
Zoteke bent down to face Ahrund at that question. "You think you can be brave for the bear this morning Ahrund?" he asked, repeating the doctor's words in official manners.
Ahrund looked up with eyes like saucers.
"brave?" he asked, eyes tearing up. "Me was brave... mommy no come back... " he muttered, tears now flowing freely. Ahrund sat down on his bottom where he stood. Zoteke face-palmed and did the same. Tears forming in his eyes as well. This was the first time in a long time Ahrund had even spoken of his mother.
The stresses of the Borg attack and what it put Ahrund and Zoteke through had more effect on the boy than Zoteke had realized. It took effort for Zoteke to push back his own tears and put on a happy face. Then he scooped up Ahrund and said: "Ahrund you were brave then. You saved Daddy. If you hadn't been brave then, Daddy would not come back either. You saved Daddy because you were brave. You must never ever think Mommy didn't come back because of you... never... okaay?"
Ahrund nodded, and instantly stopped crying. It never stopped to amaze Zoteke with his ability to go from happy to heartbroken and back in seconds.
Zoteke held up the bear. "So... you want to hold the Bear?"
Ahrund nodded enthusiastically and grabbed the bear from Zoteke's hand who looked at the doc.
Josh turned to Zoteke & said, "So far, so good. Let's get some readings." He grabbed a tricorder & started to retrieve telemetry from the package. "Everything seems to be good. Vitals are great. Outwardly, he looks like any normal kid." Josh said, "Emotionally, how has he been?"
Zoteke sighed before he answered "To be honest doc. I haven't got a clue. After he lost his mother and grandparents he was sad for a while. Then, when we were on leave and i was doing some flying he seemed to cheer up every time i got back from a flight. I guess seeing me smile made him happy. But after what i just saw... I just don't know. Could it be he's putting up a happy face just because...?" Zoteke started, before catching himself.
Inside he wondered why he was suddenly so open. Normally he kept his private thoughts and feelings just that.. private.
Meanwhile Ahrund had seemed to forgotten all about his fears for devices and had been able to grab a device which was in his reach. He pointed it at the doc's leg and.. just before he could press the activator button of the laser scalpel Zoteke's hand zipped past Ahrund's emptying the kid's hands before he could do damage. He handed the scalpel to the Doctor.
He looked at the doc. And said: "Sorry doc. Don't want you to think there's a problem. There isn't. We've just had a lot happen in our lives but we're coping." he said scooping up his pride and joy.
"Never mind. Ahrund and me are fine. We're a team and as long as we're together there's nothing in the Galaxy that can touch us. Are we done?"
Josh nodded his head & said, "Yeppers. You & your son are as fit as a fiddle. You might expect a group fitness test with the rest of your platoon sometime after we leave MA. I just gotta set something up."
"Fitness test? No problem. I've been doing them weekly since i was in bootcamp. Since i'm a pilot i've been doing them with fellow holo-marines. That's all. Don't worry about me looking chubby. I'm Ktarian, and i've still got to meet the grunt that can beat me on the Confidence course." Zoteke assured the Doctor while heading for the door.
"Thanks doctor. Good to know our health's are in capable hands. See you round" he finished as the doors swooshed closed behind the duo"
=== August Bridge ===
Greener stood at attention along with his other senior staff on the bridge. The viewscreen had two images side by side. On one half was Commander Romaine and a few of her aides. On the other was Admiral Quinn.
"Permission to depart," came Ian Grant's voice, one of the few seated at the moment.
Commander Romaine nodded. "You have my thanks, Captain. You, Lieutenant Vrih, the Marines... We are truly grateful. Memory Alpha, signing off."
Quinn grinned. "Starfleet sends its best, Captain. The August will surely do us proud. Godspeed."
The commands from Starfleet command and control came through and between Grant and Nogumo, the August broke orbit and jumped out of the star system.
=== A short bit later ===
Most of the senior officers had left the bridge shortly after the departure. Caymen looked on and waited for the nod from his operations and helm.
"We are out of the system. Orders, Captain?"
Caymen stood and smiled.
"Galactic North, Lieutenants. The Eridan Belt, just past sector Z-6. Maximum cruising speed."
The two nodded in tandem and the ship zipped up into a faster warp bubble and shot out across the galaxy. There was a lot to test on the way - a new marine deck, enhanced shielding, a new complement of marine weaponry, tricorders, and medical supplies, a new anti-proton torpedo system, a polaron beam array, and a new star fighter.
===USS August, Engineering. A few days after departing Memory Alpha===
After dropping off Ahrund at the daycare facility, or school as Zoteke called it, and participating in a Marine battle drill Zoteke cleaned himself up and went down to deck 17. He strode into engineering and looked around at the hustle and bustle going on in the cavernous area that held the ship's main power source.
The warp reactor core rose up in the center of the room, power visibly pulsing through the core in beautiful fluorescent colored swirls. It never ceased to amaze Zoteke that matter anti-matter annihilation could be so controlled and contained that one could stand no more than mere feet away from it.
In front of the mighty column of power stood a silhouetted person and Zoteke decided that would be the best person to ask about his Sparrow. He stepped up to the person and tapped the shoulder of the Lt. bent over the readouts on the displays in front of him.
Lt. Lyden was so completely engrossed in monitoring the warp core readings that he never even heard Zoteke coming up behind him, so when the Lt. tapped him on the shoulder he went into instinctive combat mode and, grabbing the mini plasma torch out of his belt, he whirled around in a defensive posture.
Holding up his hands out palms spread and stepping back a step Zoteke said "WHOA, easy there... I'm Lt. Zoteke Madwan of the Marine corp. I'm the new fighter pilot.."
Lyden let out an audible sigh of relief. "Good God man! You just took about 5 years off my life that I can't spare."
"Sorry. I just came to ask a question. I thought coming down here in person would make a better first impression than signaling you my requests over the com." Zoteke answered.
Replacing the torch in his belt, Lyden gave Zoteke a quick but firm handshake. " Your good first impression damn near gave me a heart attack!" He said and flashed a boyish grin. "Lt. Kurtis Lyden at your service Lt. Madwan. What can I do for ya?" He asked.
Zoteke nodded as he explained. "We've received a new fighter from MA before we left to replace the Peregrine lost during the battle at MA. The fighter is an experimental one and i was involved in test-flights during my stay at MA. The one they gave us is unmodified in any way. At the moment the thing is a death trap and cannot be regarded as anything close to battle ready. I'd like to request some engineers to work with me to get the Sparrow we have ready for test-flights as soon as we drop out of warp long enough to do so."
Kurtis nodded and picked up a padd off the console he'd been working at. "Well then Lt. you're in luck because I've just made a call to the bridge requesting that we drop out of warp so we can perform a thorough maintenance of the warp core." he replied and then tapped his combadge."
Lyden to Callaway."
=^= Callaway here sir, go ahead. =^=
"I've got a Lt. Madwan here with me, he needs some help looking after that new fighter we took on board. See if you can put together a team to help him out as soon as we drop out of warp." he explained.
=^= No problem sir, I'll get right on it. =^= she replied and closed the com channel.
Lyden looked back at Zoteke. "The warp core maintenance will take about 8 hours to complete so I don't know if you'll have the time to get in a test flight? But you should at least be able to get her ready for one."
Zoteke held out his hand and as the Chief engineer took it he shook "Thank you sir. I'm sure we'll be able to get the biggest problems worked out in time to take her for a spin" he said and started to turn to walk away.
He then thought of something and looked at the engineer. "Say, you don't happen to be a wiz at power management do you?" he asked.
Lyden gave a sly grin. "I've been known to dabble. What seems to be the trouble?"
"It's just that the main problem on the Sparrow is that it is rediculously overpowered. The weapon systems on it require a humungous amount of power but that power is also connected to the engines, both warp and impulse." Zoteke explained. "When you hit the throttle on the Sparrow, the power increase is to quick for the conduits and that leads to them having the tendency to blow up.." he finished.
Lyden thought for a moment. "Well we could just use reinforced conduit but that would restrict the flow as well and you'd probably lose some of that wicked horsepower. Still and all though that would be the easy fix."
Zoteke thought on that for a moment. Then he shook his head. "We had that thought at MA as well but we decided that would be a loss of potential and we had to find a way to keep the power, even if only to keep the weapons as powerful as they are but to control the flow of energy to the engines more precisely... We thought of buffers that stored the excess power and either bled it off through the shields or feed them into the phasers for extra power." he told Kurtis.
Kurtis bowed his head for a second and thought. Looking back up at Zoteke, he grinned mischievously. " I've got a better idea. You ever heard of a multi-phase pulse injector?"
Zoteke shook his head and Lyden could tell he'd peaked the Lt.'s curiousity.
Kurtis chuckled. "Now what this thing will do is pulse the flow of energy extremely quickly but because it's pulsed it'll never hit higher than the conduit's tolerance level AND you'll have no loss in power to the weapons or engines."
Zoteke looked both stunned and excited at the same time. "The only drawback is...Well...There is no such thing as a multi-phase pulse injector. I've got to invent the darn thing. Don't worry about that though, I've already got some ideas on how to build it." Kurtis chuckled.
"I wont take up anymore of your valuable time then Chief. I'm sure working with the team you've given me we'll start on solving the big issue first. There's a big list of em in the engineering logs we got from MA's testing." Zoteke said.
"Tell you what...You and Ensign Callaway's team work on the other laundry list of problems with that bird and I'll handle the power managment problem. Deal?" Lyden said and stuck his hand out.
They shook on it and Zoteke turned and walked out of engineering. Truth was that the Sparrow and it's problems had vanished from his mind. He was thinking about something... someone... else entirely. Much to his own surprise.
(To be continued in Part 7)
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