==This entire piece is a prequel to “Starbase 801 Chronicles”==
==USS August, Holo-deck 3, two days before departure.==
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the vastness of space, emphasized by the emptiness of the vacuum that filled most of it, was feeling awkwardly crowded and cramped to Zoteke. At speeds ranging from near zero to nearly the speed of light, he was maneuvering his fighter frantically to avoid colliding with the bandits that he and his wing-men were "dogfighting". He also had to avoid colliding with his two wingmen and to stay clear of the gravimetric distortions that ravaged the area the battle turned out to be fought in.
For the sake of sanity and his headache he had muted the fighter's voice warning prompts by the time the computer began voicing threats it perceived after he had already noticed them and had dealt them.
The challenge that had faced him the past 3 hours was becoming more and more of a battle than it had anything to do with entertainment or anything remotely resembling science.
A recon mission had turned into a mad struggle to survive when the wing of three Sparrow fighters was ambushed by a pirate outfit that had even built themselves an actual carrier vessel.
His wingmen had taken out around 8 of the enemy fighter drones and Zoteke had turned 11 of them into expaning clouds of superheated plasma and debries. This left 12 more to worry about though.
Until that moment the two wingmen that covered his six hadn't moved from their escort positions so much as an inch keeping their distance of 12 meters between their fighter's main hulls. At that moment though, he was seeing some of their opponents move into a position from which his wingmen would be vulnerable.
Zoteke yelled " Break b Break break break." and then after a calculated second, Zoteke called "Omega break 21" while he rammed back the throttle controls and Carefully and precisely pulled, twisted the main control stick with such precision, it caused the Sparrow to be pulled into maneuvers that everyone, including the fighter's own computer considered to were impossible for the fighter to perform.
Just before leveling out behind the fighter drone that had taken a few shots at him earlier, Zoteke's heart nearly exploded with jump-scare levels of adrenaline were dumped into his blood. He got that jump-scare from observing that, between him and his target, a small child came into being with a flash of light! It then seemed to walk over to him, radiating the brightest shiny happiness with his smile, as if to light the stars themselves, before knocking on his cockpit's canopy frantically to get his attention as if it was possible Zoteke’s attention wasn’t on the supernatural appearance of a Human into the endless and cold emptiness of Space-Time.
For seconds the suddenness of the litle kid’s appearance had him stumped, and it took him a moment to reassemble the shattered pieces of his thoughts back into working order. Then he resigned himself to no longer having the opportunity for completing this mission,before ordering the computer to end the simulation.
Ahrund giggled and screamed with joy as the space, the fighters and everything else stopped existing because of the computer shutting down ” the simul ace tea on” that ran. "
“Allright then, here i am and what on earth could it be that has you so absolutely hyped, your're actually hopping up and down right now." Zoteke asked his son in a tone that’d tell Ahrund his father wasn’t happy about being interrupted during a simulation.
“Daddy, Ahrund have now done thing good for to make you happy!" the kid exclaimed with pride, and he seemed to expect nothing else will ever be required from him, after having made himself understand most of it on the level he was doing now.
" O....i mean ooooooh... that's really sweet of you my superman but are you sure daddies bosses will not be angry at daddy this time? " Zoteke asked the child that had radiated it's pride in his achievement.
"what is it you did you think makes daddy happy?" he asked wondering what computer systmen had been forced to submit to the will of the little guy this time and if it had been one that'd not been part of the theming associated with this server.
" Me saw daddy make mark , in list of letters daddy sent away this morning. Me know that mark say to daddy he wait for letter talk back to flaggy message. Me hear computer make happy beep and me go tell to daddy he can read thjalk back letter he got" Ahrund solumnly and with enough pride in his voice and the look in his eyes that could give a veteran Marine core soldier a run for his money for badass stares while they were visiting the memorial at pearl harbour or the Alamo.
Whatever Zoteke was planning on saying about the rude and naughty way Ahrund had interrupted his training simulation was forgotten instantly as he realized what Ahrund had said exactly/ and what he, meant. After sending off his application for the squadron leader job, that had been open at Starbase 801 Legacy, he marked the message for the computer to notify him at the moment any reply came back.
It was what Ahrund was trying to tell him. A reply had come and the computer had tried to reach him without succes. Taking Ahrund's PADD he was about to logoff Ahrund's id to open his own messages he scowled when he noticed the PADD''s screen turned out to be showing his personal inbox and effortlessly opened the message addressed to him to be read.
Ahrund meanwhile looked at his father with excitement, and little patience, bopping up and down literally like a bouncing ball.
"Ahrund, we are going to be living on a space station real soon. How would you like that?" Zoteke asked the kid.
"OOOH station big place! so big that there are really many much peoples there... Ahrund thinks i like that… Yes daddy… I think me likes that much" Ahrund nodded happily.
" Daddy has been accepted by, and ordered to report to Starbase 801 as soon as possible. “ Zoteke read out loud. He then turned to Look Arend in his eyes then and said “Go put all your things into a big box sweetheart, we're going to Starbase Legacy!" .
Zoteke trying hard specifically to not sound like an announcer of sports from the old days, unsuccessfully. He noted the kid’s expression seemed to shine an even brighter shade of joy in response to his announcement though. Ahrund was actually already searching for everything he could find about “Starbase 801-Legacy”
==Madwan living quarters, Uss August==
" YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY" Arendje shouted arms flinging in the air wildly and started a full run towards his little room in their quarters. As the kid rounded the corner Zoteke heard him call up the list of things he had to pack for transport out loud.
" I must pack the Chuggintons, aaaand Sally must go, and Mateeeer... and then too pack McQueeeeen... and doooooooc...." the kid mumbled to himself mostly. Speeding his walk to keep the indoor tornado his son resembled sometimes, Zoteke too made his way to the bedroom, to start packing.
He couldn’t help but notice that the situation made him feel that their future had begun, and to his surprise had to admit he felt food about it! He hadn’t expected that, seeing that he had begun to accept only a short while before that the USS August was their home now, and that he’d begun to see the Augusts crew as family more than as collegues or friends.
Maybe the indisputable fact that the move to the station would include a promotion, and that a Starbase had a much bigger community which was better for a child to grow up in than the tightknit Uss August’s crew could be helpt him to adopt the positive feeling he mused as the packing of their stuff progressed.
==Temporary quarters onboard transport vessel “USS Uhaul”==
=A day or so before arrival at Starbase 801 Legacy=
Very very quietly Zoteke pulled up the blanket over his son's shoulders, gave the sleeping form a soft kiss, and stepped out of the small room that was his son's bedroom for the duration of the trip to Starbase 801.
Satisfied Ahrund was safe, happy and asleep he walked over to the surprisingly comfortable couch facing the panoramic window that was his temporary quarters' most prominent feature.
On his way there he wrestled the bottle of “Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve - Glenfiddich single malt whisky” and the single-shot glass out of the trunk that held his and his son's only belongings that traveled with them.
.Making sure he'd have anything he'd be waiting for the rest of the evening was within hand's reach he ticked the items of in his head.
”Drink, check. PADDs, check. Cheese, check. Pillow, check. Direct and easy view of the entertainment screen so it can be ignored completely, check”
Satisfied he'd have no reason whatsoever to get up anymore for the duration of the evening he dropped his uniform pants, shook off the top of his uniform and in his underwear dropped himself into the couch. He took the shotglas and put it down on the small table in front of him, and then held up the bottle of very rare, very old and very special whisky that he'd been lugging around with him for what seems like forever.
There'd been many times in the past where he had come close to opening that bottle but somehow those moments were never special enough to seem to justify it. Moments after battles won, or endings of wars. His marriage and the birth of his son... all of those moments were considered and deemed not worthy enough to waste such rare and fine whisky on.
And no doubt each of those moments were far far more momentous, and/or, life-changing then the one he was in now, dressed as he was now in his underwear, sitting as he was now on a couch in a quarters that never was or would be his.
Shaking his head and smiling as he considered all that he broke the seal on the bottle and pulled out the cork. Shivers ran down his spine as he did so, and somehow felt a weight lift off from his shoulders mentally. He knew his old friend would approve that having Ahrund back, and out of Section 31's grip, was a momentous enough occasion in itself, and being accepted as a squadron leader on a relatively new Starbase that carried the Legacy that 801 carried made the occasion even more momentous.
Holding the bottle under his nose he took a deep sniff and held it for a few seconds. The alcoholic fumes entered his lungs and clearing his sinuses, and made his nose become aware of a distinctive whiskey smell.
With that smell, the memories of a time long past came flooding into his consciousness and those memories easily took him back to when Zoteke acquired the bottle of special liquor from which the smell originated.
It was early in his career when he was in his early twenties, and he and his platoon got deployed to defend some insignificant planetoïd. That planetoid had actually been the mission area and ground zero for one of the boldest Forward Operating Bases in the Federation.
Everyone knew that the ball of space rock was in fact useless in any sense, except as the showcase that would show the Galaxy that the Federation was not to be trifled with once the Republic had set up its administration, and committed itself to the protection of such a place in the ongoing war.
for the insignificant defense against an insignificant enemy, in and around some insignificant location during some even less significant skirmish with an enemy that in the end became one of the faceless members of the United Federation of Planets.
They had been dug in “holding the line” for over 73 hours he remembered, withstanding wave after wave of enemy assaults without relent.
Of the 100+ men that had originally been deployed to that position just 14 were left alive and able to fight when suddenly the surge of infantry coming at them slowed and then stopped.
He remembered how his best buddy, best friend since the first day of boot camp, suddenly had plunked down his rifle and started digging into his backpack as if he was afraid he'd never get another chance to do so.
Keeping one eye on the horizon for the enemy, and one ear on his comm so he'd hear any orders coming through, from whoever was in charge at that moment, he threw his friend a questioning look.
When his friend then proceeded to pull out two unremarkable-looking bottles from his backpack, Zoteke couldn't help but wonder why those bottles were in his backpack, instead of his bunk storage box or somewhere safe in storage. Then he wondered briefly how those bottles had survived the fighting of the past few days.
Michel, Zoteke remembered the name of his friend was, suddenly grabbed the backpack Zoteke had strapped to his back, and without asking or explaining shoved one of the bottles into it.
He then broke the seal on the second one and opened it. Raising the bottle a little while flashing a false salute he then took a big gulp from the bottle and passed the bottle to Zoteke.
As Zoteke, confused a bit but happy with the reprieve they had gotten from the relentless fighting, took the bottle intent on taking an equally large gulp of the whiskey, Michel grabbed his hands and said “Look at me Zoteke. I just realized what I'm actually going to tell you, and I know it's too late for me but not for you.” his friend said, with an odd expression. Before Zoteke could answer that his friend said;
“Take the bottle I put in your backpack and save it for a special moment. But whatever you do, don't wait too long. Promise me you won't wait until your dying breaths to enjoy it. Don’t be as stupid as me!…..
and think of me when you drink it... will you do that? Please promisssss...”
As his friend slumped out of consciousness and went limp, Zoteke noticed a streak of blood marking the slide of his back onto the floor. Only then did realization sink in that his friend had been wounded and, with his dying breath, had shared his most precious possession and final thoughts with the closest to his family and loved ones he could reach; Zoteke.
Zoteke remembered putting that opened bottle to his lips in a gung ho hoorah semper fi kind of blur, tears threatening to break through his Marine macho barrier, and downing what was left in the bottle in one go.
He remembered that, but not much else after that. He knew that, if he'd look it up, his Starfleet record would be able to fill in some of the gaps like names and locations and stuff, but he'd never cared enough to check then.
He wouldn't taint the memories of his friend by doing so now either. Back then he'd never tasted any earth liquors before but since then he'd looked into the brand and history of the bottle that his friend had given him and with the information that yielded the significance of his friend's act and final words became more clear, gained in importance and meaning.
Committing sacrilege in the eyes of some whiskey connoisseurs he said “Semper fi Michel, here's to you!” and put the bottle to his mouth.
A large gulp filled his mouth and he let it slide slowly down his throat for as long as the alcohol's bite allowed him. Then as the rest was forced down quickly past the blocking reflex of his throat and Zoteke was left gasping for air past the same blocking reflex his lungs were experiencing.
“Hoooooweeeey!! That's gonna put hair on my chest for sure!!”
he exclaimed as soon as he was able to get sound out of his throat again. With a smile, he filled the small shot glass and put the cork onto the bottle and put it on the table.
The warmth of the alcohol spreading through his chest and with a new but comfortable satisfying feeling he leaned back on the couch pulling up a PADD.
It was the one onto which he'd had the computer upload all information that was available on the Starbase and more specifically it's fighter compliment. Again he frowned when he saw how little that amounted to be.
It seemed that removing computer authorizations when he left the August, making it almost impossible for Zoteke to keep tabs on his friends on the August or the ship he had come to care so much for, was something Starfleet was more stringent about than assigning access for his new position as squadron leader of the Legacy's fighters.
He was left with nothing more than public records, and for a moment he was sorely tempted to ask Ahrund to help him. But as quickly as the thought entered his mind the memory of the interest Section 31 took in his son just because of his knack with computers and computer interfaces overclouded it. He decided he could wait out the Starfleet bureaucracy and make himself familiar with what Starfleet felt they trusted him with. When he'd gone through those public records twice though he couldn't help but feel frustrated at how little those records told him. It stated that the Starbase had a complement of fighters, some of which were Peregrine's, but not even the number of fighters or how many different types there were.
Sending a message to Starfleet's computer security department stating his annoyance and his demand for proper authorizations to be given immediately did little to soothe the irritation he felt and he found himself digging through secondary and tertiary routing and caching systems to see if there was any way to get more detailed information.
It took almost three hours of relentless gazing at the screen after screen of index tables, transcript backups, and other useless data before he stumbled onto something useful. Apparently, the records of the testing procedures with the Sparrow got “stuck” somewhere between Memory Alpha and the main Starfleet computer core never reaching Starfleet Research and Development.
Al subsequent files concerning the Sparrow, mostly Zoteke's own reports, instead of being delivered into the inbox of the department's responsible scientists had been routed into the batch of files that, according to the computer systems, were in transit to that same inbox.
Those files, inheriting the original report's security settings, were marked as being Zoteke's own files and as such could be opened without problems from the padd Zoteke was using. It turned out that the whole Shepherds squadron was transferred onto the starbase when the August stayed there, just after he was forced to leave.
Inquiries about the Sparrow had been made as the station's engineers learned only one person had ever flown the Sparrow since it was assigned to the August or before that, in its test flight period on Memory Alpha. No answers had come in reply to those inquiries and in the red tape, which always had a reputation in the fleet but had gotten ridiculously entangled due to the war, the Sparrow had been forgotten.
The starbase was waiting for word from Starfleet R&D or a pilot with the required qualifications and R&D was waiting for any kind of word on the Sparrow or assuming it destroyed while on active duty with the August. Finally, with his eyes stinging from the concentrated gazing onto the small computer screen and his heart filled with joy at the anticipation of being reunited with the Sparrow he lifted the shot glass of ancient whisky saying into the air:
“This has just become an even more suitable moment for this Mies, here's to you pall”
As he downed the whisky and its smooth warmth slowly spread through his chest he decided that, for the moment, the direction and prospects for the future of his and his son's lives couldn't be better. He lied down on the couch and set the entertainment screen to show informational documentaries on science and history.
No more than 5 minutes later he was fast asleep.
END OF PREQUEL
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