Part 1, 2, 3,4,5 and 6 linked below:
Jolan entered into the turbolift, he had just finished his evening PT and still had free time. As the doors closed he spoke. "computer, Travelers Mark." Within seconds the lift was moving. Jolan, still in his PT clothes - a t-shirt with the words Starfleet Marines on it, arrived at the lounge a few minutes later.
He walked in to the surprisingly comfortable lounge - it was sparse yet filling up.
"Gimme a Green Tea, please." With his drink in hand [one of which would more than likely be replaced with spring water or coffee later]red he spotted the skipper and walked over.
"Mind if I join you? Also is the lounge a 'leave your rank at the door' kinda lounge or must I stay formal, sir"? Caymen chuckled and motioned. He was sipping on more tea - he thrived on the stuff.
"Please, have a seat, captain. And no, while I am almost never in off-duty garb, I do go informal. It is good to ask though. I have found that with superior officers, it never hurts to ask first."
The two sat, with a perfect window seat, watching the stars go by. "So, how're your first couple weeks on board?" asked Caymen.
Jolan sat down and took a pull from his tea. "I loved the Cambridge and the Oakland, but those old Akiras can't hold a candle to the August." He took a second pull from his tea and resumed.
"Aside from being a bit concerned about my family and the fact I haven't had a chance to live-fire test and calibrate our weapons upgrades, I may request a permanent posting aboard, provided I can when I smooth things out with my wife, take her and my baby girl Rebecca aboard."Greener smiled.
"You are always welcome to take a permanent position here. In fact, most posts here are due to our tour. If you want to change your mind or bring your family on board, you better make that decision fast."
Jolan chuckled finishing his tea "ha how fast can you find a replacement tactical officer besides,you wouldent kick me back to a desk so quickly would you,im a likeable guy if ya get to know me"Greener chortled.
"We'll be leaving Federation space in a couple weeks."
"If I can ask, what exactly is the mission. Lieutenant Scuttlebut mentioned something about the former neutral zone and Hirogen possibilitiess, and you know the Hirogen - they shoot first ask questions later. I wanna make sure the crew and this fine lady is ready." He paused refilling his drink then sat back down.
"Yes, we could very well run into the Hirogen and Remans and Romulans, as we will be very close to those borders. Hopefully with my relations with the Romulans decades ago I can avoid a conflict. But we must be prepared for anything.""Can I run a battlestations drills shipwide before we leave our space perhaps?" Jolan asked.Greener nodded. "I think that would be prudent. Let's plan on that in the next 48 hours."
Zoteke walked into the Traveler's Mark and stopped just inside the door. He took in the scene. The Mark as he had taken to calling it wasn't very crowded but still a good number of people were enjoying their off duty time. One of them was the Captain.
Captain Greener was sitting alone as far as Zoteke could tell but part of the Captain's table was obscured from view by a small group of people talking. He decided to go over and see if the Captain was as amicable off duty as he was on duty and walked in the Captain's direction. Coming around the group he noticed the Captain wasn't alone. He veered off towards the bar and ordered up a beer. He looked over to the Captain.
He didn't want to interrupt two high ranking officers in something important, even in a lounge. The grunt marine was to ingrained in him over the years to stave off the nervous feelings he got when in the company of Starfleet officers. The so called cream of the crop, the best of the best.... just because they went through the academy and had a commission. He didn't yet feel like he was an officer himself.
The Captain's table companion wasn't there on official business though, if his outfit was anything to go by and Zoteke decided to heed his wife's advice. She always told him to do some 'networking' in his offduty time.
He walked up to the table scraped his throat feeling suddenly anxious as a grunt Marine in the company of Officers. "Stop it, you're an officer now too. Don't be a wuss and talk!" he told himself.
Out loud he said "Good evening sirs. Mind if i join you?"Jolan noticed the man was a Marine almost before he saw him he could tell by the walk he was also apprehensive possibly nervous.
"At ease Marine. Pull up a chair. We're informal for the moment. Call me Jolan, Jolan Trask."Caymen grinned and nodded.
"Indeed, have a seat."Jolan continued. "I'm guessing you're Second Liutenant Madwan comma Zoteke, if the presumed image on file is right that is?"
Taking the queue from the two men Zoteke sat down in an empty chair.
"Yes, the image must be. I'm Zoteke." he answered the question. "Of course i know who you are, being my commanding officers and all.. " he added nervously, though less nervous than he'd expected to be.
Jolan poured his third cup of tea " ha i may be a Marine but captain Dylan is your CO, I'm ships chief tactical officer, though it won't mean i won't skip drill unless tactical duties force me to, I'm still very much a Marine"
"I must say the August is a mighty fine ship. The crew has gone out of it's way to make me and my son feel at home and we do... feel at home that is." Zoteke told his table companions, adding "I've been to many places and had many different welcomes.. the one we had here was by far the best. I hope we can prove worthy of your effort."
Greener nodded. "Aye, I'm sure you will. The question is - can you survive out here in the wilderness without contact with other Federation personnel for months on end? Even a couple years?"
"Sure. I guess i'm up to that challenge." Zoteke answered immediately, even before thinking about it. "I mean, if you feel i'm qualified... i'm no Academy graduate." He added.
Jolan chuckled. "Don't get me started about the Academy, my oldest son is red squad, acting helmsman on the USS Antares his final field cruise before he heads off to boot for the Marines and i-"
his combadge beeped.
"Hold the thought" as he tapped it "This is Trask go ahead Mendoza" the voice came back
" right sir,i got a word from your friend on the vulcan embassy garrasion...y-your wifes transport ..."
“out with it gunny!" jolan snapped suddenly as mendoza resumed
"its been MIA as of 12 hours ago she was earthbound to pick up your Sister when contact was lost"
Jolans heart sank it made sense as to why she never wrote him back worse yet his baby girl would be with her "i-thank you gunny keep me posted...Trask out " if you'll excuse me gentlemen as for the battle drill ill have it ready in 48 hours"
Jolan walked off a mix of anger and sadness behind his veil of discipline
Caymen stood as Jolan walked out. "Do take care, captain. Mr. Davowski is at your service if needed..." He trailed off somewhat.
Greener shook his head.
"This war bring so much travesty to the galaxy... in a way, it is good that we're away from the battlefront in that we don't have to directly deal with that."
He and Zoteke merely nodded and finished their drinks. Caymen had to figure out a way to get Trask's family here if they could be found.
Just as the Chief engineer had promised the August had dropped out of warp to work on her engines, giving Zoteke his chance to work on the Sparrow. He'd heard from the ensign which the chief had burdeoned with the task of getting a team of engineers working on the fighter the team had allready begun working on the modifications in the MA's testing logs before they had left faster than light travel.
As Zoteke walked into the hangerbay where the sparrow was housed he was met by ensign Calloway. When Zoteke had walked into the hanger his eyes were rivited to the sleek and gracefull lines of the Sparrow. Besides the best piece of machinery he's ever flown he found the little but powerfull fighter the most beautifull spaceship currently in service and he never got tired of looking at her.
As he got closer to Jeanette Calloway, the ensign assigned to the Sparrow for the moment, his eyes had other priorities. "Goodness she's gorgious" Zoteke thought.
"Good to see you sir." she said snapping of a salute. A mock frown appeared in Zoteke's expression.
"And if you stop saluting me the same goes for me ensign. How are things coming along?" Zoteke replied adding a smile.
"We've all but finished making the modifications that were listed in the log you provided us with. We're itching for you to take her out and establish a baseline for us to measure the success or failure of any future modifications. We want to do this before the power systems the chief came up with are installed" the ensign told him.
Zoteke was having trouble keeping his mind on the Sparrow and his eyes on socially acceptable targets. Jeanette's hair seemed to sparkle as she moved, her eyes lit up like stars and the engsign's uniform did nothing to hide the perfect curves of her body. Only the fact that Jeanette stopped talking made Zoteke aware he was expected to reply.
Snapping his eyes back to hers, feeling a blush creep into his cheeks, he stammered something like "It'll be my pleasure eehm.. you know... to fly.. eehm... i love it."
The smile that radiated of Jeanette's face made Zoteke wonder if she knew exactly what he'd been looking at and thinking of.
"Follow me hotshot. I'll show you what we've done to her" She said and led him round the Sparrow pointing out the several modifications the team had made.
Doing his best to keep his mind on the job but failing as Jeanette moved over and under various parts of the fighter in ways that seemed allmost deliberately sexy. He wondered if she did that on purpose before finally forcing his mind to the work he was here to do: The modifications.
Most had to do with rerouting power distribution and flow. Some with the pulse phaser cannon's amplitude and frequencies and some with structural enhancements. All in all the team had done a remarcable job without the benefit of a complete research and development space station backing them up. Zoteke said so.
"I'm really impressed ensign." and while pointing at the padd Jeanette had given him he added "If these figures are correct you've done better than the spannermoneys.... eehm engineers of Memory Alpha...". His slip of the tongue earned him a mockingly stern look from Jeanette.
"Spannermonkeys huh?" she loughed "I'll remember that" she added and pushed a button on the padd.
"I... i.. i didn't..." Zoteke stammered but the smile on Jeanette's face stopped him as well as her raised hand.
"Don't worry about it fighterjock, everyone has nicknames and terms for people and jobs. Spannermonkey is one of the nicer ones we're called." she told Zoteke. The relief was visible in Zoteke's expression.
"these are the tests we'd like you to perform on the first time out. We'd like you to gradually increase speeds and strains and not push her to hard to fast. We'd hate to loose her on her first outing." She explained.
Zoteke nodded and looked up at the cockpit while he relished the woman's closeness and smell. She smelled like a summer morning in the forest... with a musky engine undertone."The interface was updated as well? Most of the alterations to it were done at my recomendation. I practically designed every inch of it." Zoteke asked.
"Yup. Everything's like the MA logs specified. She's ready to go." Jeanette answered.
Ten minutes later Zoteke was strapped in, feeling like he'd come home in a sense. This was it... As the Sparrow was booting and powering up, Zoteke opened up a comm to the bridge.
"Sparrow to Ops. Request permission for departure." he asked.
His heart pounding with excitement at getting to fly once more.
After receiving permission from Ops the hanger bay doors opened up to the vacuum of space save for the force field that held the August's atmosphere inside of her. Zoteke inched the fighter off her "feet" and hovered just above the deck while slowly increasing forward motion.
Just as the gap in the doors was wide enough by centimeters the Sparrow slipped through the force field and into her natural environment.
The feeling of liberty and the excitement of being out in a fighter again was indescribable. A cry of joy lept from Zoteke before he had the chance to contain it.
"Yeeeeeehaaaaaaa!!!!" he yelled.
"Eehm... Ops to Sparrow. Could you repeat that? I didn't catch that." came the disembodied voice of the Ops. Officer on the bridge.
Regaining his self control somewhat Zoteke replied.
"Ahum... never mind Ops.... Sparrow out." and snapped off the channel.
He pulled up the test schedule on his on board computer and set his sensors to record the data needed by the "Spanner-monkey's" he was working with to bring the Sparrow to battle readiness.
An hour later the list of tests he was required to perform was ticked off and he noticed he had some time left. A smile crept on his face as he said "Let's see what you're really made of" and punched the throttle as hard as he dared without the power distribution trouble having been addressed.
The Sparrow shot forward like a bullet from a barrel.
"OH YEAH!!! " He yelled.
This Sparrow was performing a lot better than the one he'd flown at MA. The power came up more smoothly than he'd expected and the controls seemed more responsive. He pushed his controls forward and left, pushing the craft's nose down and angling it slightly relative to it's direction. Then with a flick of the thrusters he sent the Sparrow tumbling like a wheel wile keeping its motion straight.
"I knew it, she can do cartwheels"
Zoteke smiled as he brought the Sparrow out of it's tumble and into "normal" flight again. Then he continued to perform the acrobatics he had learned to do and love during the time he'd spent off duty after his wife and parents died. When it was time to return to the August the smile on his face was etched in marble. He was happier than he could remember being since that terrible day they had murdered his wife and parents.
After he'd landed the Sparrow, shut her down and climbed out of her cockpit the wonderful beauty of Jeanette Calloway's face was marred by a stern, even angry expression.
"Is that what you call taking it easy on her maiden flight?" she snapped as he took off his flight helmet.
"Oh boy" he thought, "I'm dead"
Jeanette entered main engineering and immediately spotted Lyden dozing with his feet propped up on the edge of the console right next to the warp core. She smiled and, shaking her head, walked over to him.
"Should I leave sir so you and the warp core can be alone together?" She asked half laughing as she did so.
Kurtis cracked open one eye and looked up at her.
"Seriously Kurtis," She said. "The ship can actually continue to function if you're not here. Now would you PLEASE go to your quarters and get some rest! You've been going for the past 16 hours."
Lyden removed his feet from the console and got up from the seat and stretched. "Yeah maybe you're right." He replied and yawned loudly. "You'll wake me though at the slightest bit of trouble."
"Yes Kurtis," She said smiling "If the warp core so much as hiccups, you'll be the first call I make." Lyden gave her his best stern look but couldn't help but crack a smile.
"Alright, alright. Engineering is all yours Assistant Chief, wake me at 0600 hours." He said and began to collect his tool belt and a couple of padds of minor reports he hadn't finished reading yet.
"Sir," She said quickly as he was starting to leave. "Can I ask you a question of a personal nature?"
Kurtis turned back to her, sighed, and grabbing a stool plopped down. "Let me guess...You're wondering when I plan on shipping out for the old engineer's home so you can take over engineering?" He quipped lightly.
"Exactly!" She responded quickly and chuckled at the joke. "Seriously though Sir. I'd like to ask for your advice about something."
"Ask away Cal." He said, his interest piquing a bit as she was clearly struggling with how to ask the question.
"I'm just wondering sir, your thoughts about onboard relationships?" She said it so quickly Lyden almost didn't catch her question.
"I never knew you cared Cal!" He replied slyly "Sorry but I make it a point never to mess around with my junior officers."
Jeanette's face turned five shades of red. "No, not you sir..." She stammered, now totally embarrassed.
Kurtis couldn't resist. "Oh so you DON'T care about me??" He was being ruthless and he knew it.
"KURTIS! Will you stop it already and be serious for one second!" She scolded him out of total exasperation.
"I tried being serious once Callaway, it gave me an awful headache." He replied grinning like a Cheshire cat.
It was when she grabbed the hyperspanner that he raised his hands and finally let her off the hook.
"Okay, okay. I give up! What's on your mind?" He asked as he wiped tears from his eyes.Jeanette looked down at the hyperspanner, turning it in her hand as she replied.
"I was just wondering sir what you thought about crewmates dating one another?"
"Who's the unfortunate victim...errr...lucky fella I mean." He asked as she threatened him mockingly with the spanner.
"Sorry, sorry couldn't help myself." He said quickly and composed himself to reply. "Honestly Jeanette, you're asking the wrong guy about that." He replied.
"Ah, I see the confirmed bachelor type huh? Just give you a couple of wrenches and something to fix?" She said half smiling.
"Yeah something like that." He replied halfheartedly.
"Well this is kind of sudden ain't it? I mean... Who is it? Someone at Memory Alpha? One of the fellas we picked up as replacement crew?" He asked hoping to change the topic off of his social status.
Truth was, aside from the thoughts of Senna that now clouded his mind, there had been someone once. A female cadet from back when he attended the academy. She was a top notch science student and he the ever serious engineering cadet. They'd met during a trial cruise aboard the training ship USS Hathaway and had hit it off immediately.
Problem was, she was high speed and extremely ambitious whereas he was just happy being an engineer with no interest in advancing his career. It was a real sticking point for them and finally, during a fight, she told him she was tired of waiting for him to grow up and had stormed out. He couldn't blame her but it broke his heart nonetheless. They actually had stayed in contact though for some years following and even though he was heartbroken he did his level best to answer a letter from her every time he got one. Then one day the letter came that she was to become a Commander's wife and she wished him well...That letter he didn't answer.
After that he just threw himself into his work and really just gave up on the social scene altogether.
"Kurtis? Have you heard a word I said?" Jeanette asked questioningly.
" Huh? Oh sorry, got lost in thought there for a second." He replied quickly.
"So anyways," She continued but a quick look of concern flashed across her face. "I was saying that I just have these mixed up emotions as to whether or not it's a good thing for me, my career, that type of thing."
Lyden leaned forward and placed his hand on her knee. "Jeanette, we're a zillion miles from home, there's a war raging all over the quadrant, heck we're on a dangerous mission into unknown space that we might not ever return from and you're wondering if it's okay to date?!!
Live for now Jeannie because there just might not be a tomorrow. If the right guy is there, I say go for it and never look back." He finished and wiped away a tear that had fallen on her cheek.
"Thanks Kurtis," She said smiling. "Now I've taken up more than enough of your sleep time, get moving and get to bed."
"Yes Ma'am!" He said tiredly and grabbing his gear, made for the turbo-lift and some sack time.
The turbolift came to a sudden halt, and the doors hissed open. Londance walked out onto the bridge, and made his way to the station on the left side of the Captain. "Sir, I have the report on Iconian Language structure." Londance stated, in a tone unlike his usual demeanor.
Caymen motioned for Londance to have a seat in his normal duty station on the bridge. "If you wish," he said taking the padd."I'll be in the Observation Lounge... C-collecting my thoughts." Londance said, his voice failing.
Greener stopped him with a slight tap on the shoulder, stretching out as needed. He spoke quietly. "Hey, everything alright?"
Londance looked at the captain, with troubled eyes, "The D'elagrii is missing.. Sean was on board..."Caymen breathed in deeply and sighed.
"I can have Starfleet give me all the information they have, if you wish. It is a common courtesy amongst the admiralty to do so."
Londance blinked a few times - eyes wandering, as he collected his thoughts, "That would be appreciated, sir." he said, with a nod. Caymen nodded.
"One thing to keep in mind, however troubling this may be - we have an important mission starting in less than an hour. I need everyone at their tops. After that, we can disassemble and analyze ourselves."
Greener realized the harshness of his words, but it was a military vessel with military goals.
"Listen, if we had more time, I'd go have a drink with you and talk it out." He looked about the bridge. "But we're about to scan for those missing ships... "
Londance's face went from troubled, to the nearly perfected mask of an officer, "I understand, sir. It's difficult - the thought of loosing someone. I've known Sean for almost 80 years, sir. I will put my troubles aside, and you will have my best."The captain nods with a smile. He put a hand on his shoulder with a pat. "A fine officer feels his pain and yet deals with it after duty calls. It is not an easy thing to do... trust me." A flash of his fiancee from decades ago enters his mind. "Now then, how about this report?"
Londance tilted slightly, and lowered his hand to his station panel, "The Iconian language is complex, as most who know of it would know. I have managed to discover several theories on how the Iconian alphabet is perceived - as well as their numerical system."
"Ah yes, that will help. Where did you find out about this symbology? It was not in the base file I accessed earlier?" Caymen didn't have time to dig any deeper at the time.
A grin managed to tweak across Londance's face, "Well, if I may be frank - Diplomatic privileges do come in handy, every so often. After viewing previous failures in comprehending the Iconian language, I remembered my encounter with Alyssa, in the lab - she had mentioned that her work on Iconia was classified. I took a gander that Starfleet may have already partially figured out the language, but was keeping it under wraps - to stave prying eyes from learning the secrets of their culture; as it turns out, I was somewhat correct. Alyssa's team was able to decipher 2/5ths of the Iconian language.
"From what I have learned from the files, lines underneath denotes a numerical character - where as characters without lines are the alphabet. Alyssa's team was able to decipher the vowels, as well as a few consonants.
"It is theoretically possible for us to decipher full words, using what we currently have - but, I have run into a dead end; there appears to be no knowledge about whether the language was written in English, or Iconian. The problem we now face is that if the language is indeed written in Iconian, we would not be able to understand the words. So far as Starfleet is concerned, there are no records of spoken Iconian to date. If there are, I either can't find them - or I don't have a high enough clearance to access those files." Londance finished.
Greener nodded slowly. "Nice work... I will see if there is anything else I can find, but I am somewhat doubting there is much else even at my rank." He pauses. "Let's have the computer create a list of what we DO know, even if the words don't mean anything. For instance, the numbers should help us quite a bit."
Londance tilted his head again, his eyes wandering over to his comm station, "As the old Earth saying goes - 'I have been working on it, as we speak'" - the view screen in front of them changed, from a view of the stars, to strange symbols scrolling across the screen. The ships computer was analyzing the Iconian language.
"The characters that are highlighted in Yellow, are the alphabetical symbols that we know; those in blue are numerical. The characters in red are the symbols we do not know, at this point in time."
The computer is currently attempting to formulate words, sentences and phrases, in all currently known languages - in the hopes that the Iconians spoke at least one of them, at the time that these characters were created."
A change in the pattern on the screen occurred, as characters from the Romulan language scrolled across, underneath the Iconian. "Alright. And how's your Romulan? I am fluent, but if we run into them, we may need to try and figure out what they know, and translators don't always do justice to diplomatic conversations."
Londance's mask faltered, a shadow fell across his face. He looked at the captain with darkened eyes, "My Romulan is impeccable, sir."
Caymen breathed in deeply and sighed. " This is not good, seeing the Romulan. Hopefully that's newer etchings than the Iconians used and was put there in the last 40 years."
He paused and then smiled.
"Excellent work, Lieutenant. Please remain with me on the bridge as we get our initial scans soon."
They nodded to one another and took their seats. The "fun" was about to begin...
The closer he got to the doors to Jeanette Calloway's quarters the more nervous he got.
For the first time in ages he was going on a date, and he still couldn't quite believe Jeanette said yes almost before he could finish asking her out. Zoteke was notoriously bad at reading "the signs" the opposite sexes tends to use in communicating their feelings towards men. In his youth he had friends tell him countless of times a certain woman had been "all over him" when Zoteke hadn't noticed even the slightest hint in such directions.
Of course they'd allways told him afterward when Zoteke had "ignored" another woman's advances and couldn't do anything about it anymore. Then he had married. First to the core and then to his late wife. Now, for the first time, he was putting himself back "on the market" and "into the game" and the more he gave it thought the more he doubted he had the slightest idea what he was getting himself into.
But the butterflies in his stomach were unmistakable and he was head over heals for the woman he was picking up for their date. When he had caught up with Jeanette last time in the travelers mark he'd sat down and shared a drink and a very very good conversation with Jeanette and had even almost forgotten he had intended to ask her out on a date so much had he enjoyed her company. Stuttering and blushing like a teenager he had asked if she would like to go on a date with him to the holodeck sometime.
The expression on Jeanette's face was, or so Zoteke hoped, unmistakably happy when he'd finished and she'd said yes almost faster than his mind could register.
Stammering like an idiot he'd then proceeded to ask her if she realized he meant a "date-date" as in romantic and stuff (yess, he'd actually said "and stuff") because he wouldn't want her to misunderstand and be embarrassed. Jeanette had answered it'd better be a real date or else…
He chimed at Jeanette's door and waited. A couple of seconds later the doors parted and revealed Jeanette standing behind them in a breathtaking blue and yellow dress which followed the curves of her body closely.
The dress left her legs bare from just above the knee and when lighted from the back a slight silhouette of that which the dress covered hinted at the beauty that the dress covered. Her hair was styled and cascaded down from her shoulder to the front of her breast and seemed to change color as the angle to the lighting changed making it seem to flow psychedelically. Her eyes seemed to radiate with life and spirit and melted Zoteke's heart to slag with her piercing look.
"Hi hi, I'm so glad you showed up" Jeanette said as greeting.
"So am i" Zoteke answered meekly, his nerves pinching his voice up a pitch.
Jeanette stepped out of her quarters and accepted the arm offered by Zoteke. He had given her a box of chocolate and some flowers, Rozes no less, at her door which she thought was soooooo qute. Zoteke seemed to be the traditional type as far as dates went. She wondered if he had planned a traditional date or something a bit more...... Zoteke like..
She would know soon as the turbo-lift deposited the pair on the right deck and they'd made their way to the terminal before the doorway.
"Jeanette, one question. What do you prefer. Traditional dinner-date or a more..... active? No that's not the right word... Exciting.. no that's not it either... it's more..." Zoteke started asking but never needed to finish.
"Do I look like a traditional girl to you, or ever gave you the impression I was in any way traditional?" she countered. "Dancing it is then... I just hope you like bass, beats and light-shows.." he said punching in the code for his custom program to start. The doors opened and the two stepped into total darkness.
The doors vanished making the darkness complete. They could hear they were not alone. Far from it, there were a lot of people around them. Just as Jeanette's eyes began to adjust to the darkness a voice, amplified through an obviously ridiculously large speaker system, attacked her ears saying "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.... THUNDERDOME....... ARE YOU READY?" A chorus of cheers answered as lights from some point to the front of an enormous hall came up and revealed they were in a huge crowd of oddly dressed people which were all facing to what appeared to be a huge stage.
On it an mc was waving his arms and pacing up and down the stage and another man behind a console wore what looked like a headphone on his head covering one of his ears. The man was obviously doing something rhythmic as his head bobbed up and down as if on a beat. The Mc did another couple of are you readies and then yelled "Than here you are, NEOPHYTE IN YOUR FACE MO Da VOCK AAAAAz!!!!"
Jeanette was about to ask what or where the hell this was supposed to be when music erupted from the sound system with a melodic synthesizer tune followed by a bassline that Jeanette felt as much as she heard it. The crowd, she guessed about 10.000 in number, started dancing... a jumping up and down on the beat of the bass drums of sorts, and lasers, strobes and other light effects washed over the crowd, the music and all of Jeanette's senses that weren't already in a state of shock.
The faces around her all expressed happiness, joy, Ecstasy or just simple good spirit while most of them bounced with the beat, either making their way to a destination known only to them or dancing... bouncing around where they were with their friends.After the initial shock had dissipated and her initially overwhelmed senses began to catch up to the tsunami of stimuli coming at them Jeanette began to feel more and more elated herself.
The beat began to make sense to her and her hands and feet itched to be moved in synch with the rhythm of the bass drums. Before she new it she was dancing, bouncy and jumpy, together with Zoteke and the other people in the crowd feeling all her tensions, stress, worries and reservations flow from her like water from a hilltop.
She looked Zoteke in the eye and noticed he was scrutinizing her closely. She could see the doubt and worry in his expression and knew he was worried if she'd like his choice for their date or not. She could tell it was not he was worried hed look like a fool but he was worried she would have no fun..... That was so sweet!!!
After a few seconds she decided she liked it. She did very very much. She liked music, big crowds and all kinds of dancing. She was no fool and had already seen some people obviously intoxicated in some form or other, but she also saw there was no one in the crowd without a smile or satisfied expression. Everyone was having fun and everyone knew that everyone there was there for exactly that and no more: Have fun!It was exactly the kind of thing that she was hoping for.
Fun, exciting, different and maybe a little bad at the same time. She had already admitted to herself she'd had a crush on this odd refreshing instantly likable brash fighter pilot with a sense of humor to boot but at that moment she knew for certain. This guy had something that drew her to him she couldn't identify or explain.
And at that moment she just knew she was his.
She was in love like never before.
With that sudden realization a warmth exploded from her mind to the farthers extremities of her body and senses filling her being with a need to let him know. To find out for sure if he might feel the same. To know if he was hers as much as she was now his.
Shouting at the top of her lungs to be heard over the hardcore house music she asked Zoteke what exactly it was he had taken her to.
"This is what they called a Hardcore house party back in the 1990's and early 2000's!" he shouted back at her.
"I like it here!" Jeanette shouted back and grabbed the back of Zoteke's neck.
She pulled Zoteke's head to hers and planted her lips on his.
Zoteke was caught off guard by Jeanette's sudden move and it took him a second or two to realize she was kissing him. He recovered quickly though and returned the kiss passionately even though his brain was still processing what happened.
Then the realization struck and a smile exploded onto his face. His heart jumped, stalled and then settled into the same rhythm as the pounding beats of the music going at 180 beats per minute now.
"She kissed me!.... She kissed me!!" echoed through his mind.
As he vaguely had a thought hoping he had not said those words in his mind out loud he took Jeanette into his arms and hugged her tightly and passionately before kissing her with all the love he felt cascading through his every fiber. The night had only just begun and they had the holodeck for at least 10 hours.
That minute or two though would be etched into his memory for ever in every microscopical small ridiculously clear detail. He knew that for him.... and for Ahrund of course... another chapter in their lives had just been started.
A fresh one, for which the story had yet to unfold.
The smile that had exploded onto his face wouldn't leave that night and the smile that had formed by morning was one telling everyone that part of the new chapter that had been started would be rated NC17.....
Her head was burried in the insides in the underbelly of the Sparrow fighter as as she shouted out
"OK THE DATARECORDER IS READY! TURN HER ON!".
She ducked, closed the access panel and locked it, then moved to the left until she had a view of the cockpit and it's occupant.
"Firing up the systems.... ok, screens popping up.... testing sequence..... yes, we've got green on the data storage again. No more red squares!" Zoteke told her as the systems came online and the bootchecks completed.
"I'm off then! Love you!" he added as he plopped down into the fighter's pilot seat.
"Love you to! Be car..." Jeanette started replying when the commsystem interrupted.
=^=Lt. Zoteke Madwan report for away team duty=^=
For a second Zoteke's gut was feeling like it would be empty real soon and Zoteke's expression signalled the dissapointment, anger and dispair that coursed through the experienced soldier at hearing the order. The message's tone had impressed the situation's tention on any listeners but the sound's and sights of the ship going to yellow alert ampified any sense of tention as if designed for that specific effect.
Jeanette's heart hurt when she saw Zoteke's face and she felt sorry for the big guy. She was impressed as much as worried when only 2 seconds after the words came from the commsystem's speakers the expression on Zoteke's face as well as his posture and voice switched over to determined honor and duty tapping the comm and replying.
"lt. Madwan here, acknowledged. On my way. Out."
Zoteke powered down the Sparrow with a few quick keys and unhooked the harnass with a twist from his other hand simultaniously. He than stood and climbed out of the cockpit, hopping down the ladder to the floor. Jeanette was there as he started towards the equipment lockers to change out of his flight-gear into his Marine ground combat kit.
Zoteke avoided looking Jeanette in her eyes as he started to step around her.
"Zoteke, are you ok? Maybe if you explained to Captain Dylan how...." she started, unsure what the best thing to do was at that moment.
Shaking his head and sighing Zoteke flashed her a look. "Jeanette, please don't... I can't... i.... Let me explain later.. please. I'm sorry but not now" he said looking down with another sigh.
"No, honey it's ok... i'm sorry.. i just wanted.." Jeanette said, stepping up close to him with an apologetic expression.
Zoteke quickly put his arms around her and gave her a quick kiss before letting her go.
"I'll comm Ahrund on my way up to make sure he's ok." Jeannette told Zoteke as he started on his way to his locker.
Waving Zoteke replied "He should have been beamed into the ECCC automatically as soon as the yellow alert kicked in. All kids under the age of 5 are whenever a yellow alert goes off" hoping that hearing that his son would not be forgotten did anything to lift his spirit.
The expression she saw on Zoteke's face, however briefly, worried her.
When Zoteke was out of sight she opened a channel to the little communicator that Zoteke had given his son. The frequency was a hidden and unknown one so only he, and now Jeanette, could open a connection with it.
"Jeanette to Ahrund." she said, waiting for a reply.
"Ahrund to Dzjennet... Me go bzzzoing and me now in safe place!" the excited voice of Ahrund said from the tiny speaker.
"Good boy! Just like we practiced! Now you know Jeanette and Daddy must work really hard now. But as soon as Daddy or me has the chance to we wil come get you. Ok honey?" Jeanette asked while she worked to lock down the Sparrow and walked out of the fighter bay on the way to engineering.
In her head she counted off the seconds and quickened her pace when she realized she'd be 93 seconds later than usual in reaching her Yellow alert position.
"Okaaaaay... Daddy work... Dzejennet work... efwiebody work..." the pouting voice of the little child answered. Then Ahrund added in a hopefull tone: "Ahrund work too?"Jeannette loughed at that.
"No Ahrund. You stay and play with the other children in the safe place. Have fun and before you know it me or Daddy wil be there to pick you up. Bye bye have fun honey" She said hoping to keep the kid from crying or acting up.
Just as she crossed into engineering and was within earshot of most of the Alpha shift crew her commbadge spewed out Ahrund's reply.
"Okaaaaay... Me lofyou kiss kiss bye bye" Ahrunds surprisingly happy voice said. In the far reaches of her consciousness she wondered if the kid's response was hiding something..
The glances and snickers which failed to desguise the loughs just barely being held back triggered a knee jerk duck and hide response for Jeanette at first but then she thought of Zoteke and Ahrund which ignited a sensation of pride inside her.
She realized she didn't care anyone knew she was now part of Zoteke's and Ahrund's life and even proud of the fact that Ahrund was so fond of her. The smile that the thought brought to her expression radiated brightly and seemed to outshine the warpcore pulsing in the center of engineering.
As she logged in at her station she noted she'd only lost 12 seconds to her average alert response time. She could live with that, she thought, as she went about her duties.
As he reached his locker in the locker room Zoteke slapped his commbadge onto the locker next to his. Shrugging out of the flight gear he spoke to the computer in it.
"lt. Zoteke to Ensign Yeager. Suit up for Combat Air Patrol duty. You're taking my slot. Just don't take the Sparrow. Until we've got her tweaked right, and you've got the simulator hours, it's best you leave her to me for now. Jenkins and Zsuzsa are almost prepped and ready in hanger five. This is a standard insystem Combat Space patrol. Scanners peeled and eyes open. It can turn into a Search and Rescue in a second so be prepared!" Zoteke rattled into the little communicator stuck to the locker while Zoteke struggled with the flight-gear and after that his ground combat kit.
After a second of silence in which Zoteke wondered if his ramblings had made any sense to the ensign that he just called upon to take his place the tiny speaker came to life.
"Ensign Yeager here, acknowledged. Combat Space Patrol, 3 birds, scanners peeled, possible S&R, be prepared. Got it sir. I'll try not to embarress our squadron to much sir. Yeager out"
Rushing through the swooshing doors into the corridor and to the turbolift Zoteke smiled with satisfaction. As he became more and more involved in the runnings of the Marine's on the August and with the Fighter's and the crew's involved with them he'd quickly made sure that there was a plan in place for every situation they found themselves in.
He'd made sure that someone was always ready to take his place no matter which of his duties Zoteke was called upon to perform himself. He had, rightly so, concluded early in his new career that being a fighter pilot and being a Marine soldier were not something one could do simultaniously. He was glad that the theory and practice translated in success now they were put into practice.
As the turbolift doors opened to deposit Zoteke at his destination all thoughts about his son, Jeanette and even about being pulled off active flight status to provide boots on the ground were carefully, be it with difficulty, pushed out of his conscious thoughts.
There was no room for that in his mind right now.
Just the Call of Duty and his determination to answer it.
(To be continued in Part 8)