<FWG> <Patronus> Issue 1, Article 1: "Across the Universe"

  • From: Jason Ziredac <ziredac@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: fwgalaxy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 19:39:13 -0800 (PST)

  Across the Universe
  by Captain Hayes McQuarrie
  Concord-class starships were a bit hard to handle sometimes, inside and out, 
through and through. Everything was state-of-the-art, especially with the 
recent upgrade of all systems, including the warp core and weapons mainframe. 
Four new shuttle bays were added in and were barren as an armless man?s writing 
desk. What did Captain Hayes McQuarrie, nearly retired ex-commander of the 
illustrious USS Exeter, need four new shuttle bays for anyway? He didn?t need 
them; Admiral Ramirez did, mainly for show, the cheap bastard. 
  Hayes was just about to turn fifty-five and looked ten years younger, a 
constant which has comforted him all his life, though as his actual years grew 
out, his topical years? meaning of looking ten years late for the body within 
began to mean less and less. When he reached eighty, he would look seventy. Not 
too much of a comfort anymore, when you?re used to being thirty and looking 
twenty, or forty and looking thirty, et cetera. Time was dwindling, and he 
could feel it just to begin.
  Fifty-five just seemed scary. For some reason.
  Nevertheless, he sat at his quarters desk, looking across the room into a 
wide mirror he?d replicated from the early eighteenth century. Big brutish 
British thing, brass on the frame and oak on the back. It did reflect him, 
though, quite well, because he shamelessly discovered that he was checking 
himself out. Not bad, he thought. I?ve got the birthday blues, he added. Now, 
what could possibly cure this woeful ailment?
  Hayes and Narin had an agreement about this whole thing, and he ran through 
their verbal contract in his smiling mind as he lay there basking in the 
afterglow of his cure for birthday blues. Rule #1, no ranks. He was not a 
captain and she was not a commander. Rule #2, no last names. McQuarrie and 
Luviox were stricken from conversation. Rule #3, no discomfiture during duty; 
there were no awkward pauses, no emotional references in times of stressed 
work, nothing. It was almost, he thought, as if when they were on the bridge of 
the Coldstream or in the meeting room or on an away mission, they were their 
full titles, loaded with responsibilities and dignity.
  Captain Hayes McQuarrie, leader of the crew of the admiral escort USS 
  Commander Narin Luviox, second-in-command to Captain McQuarrie, on duty.
  And in bed, they were Hayes and Narin. Man and woman. Plus, with a rule like 
Rule #1, she could boss him around; that was never boring. This had been one of 
their first musings while entertaining the notion of romanticizing, and Hayes 
tried to remember when they first began this little soiree that they repeated 
over and over again. It had to have been right after their first mission aboard 
the Coldstream, bringing Admiral Ramirez to a meeting on the edge of the 
quadrant. Not that it wasn?t romantic the first time, but it certainly wasn?t 
very storybook, to use a noun as an adjective; they had both been a bit on the 
exhausted side, tipsy with nothing but fatigue and a long stream of properly 
cracked jokes. You can guess how the rest of this goes: she looked at him, he 
looked at her, and skyrockets, to use a noun as adverb. 
  Never any need to go into any intense detail with these sort of things; most 
of these people we speak of like their privacy, and don?t necessarily 
appreciate the narrative being so expository of their efforts to seek pleasure. 
Hayes was a bragger though, constantly leaking dirty secrets to his chief 
science officer and closest male friend aside from his brother, Lieutenant 
Markstrom Benson. Benson would then trade with stories of girls who had no 
names, because even though his detail would become a bit too harrowing, he 
considered himself a gentleman and would never reveal who they were. On this 
subject, Hayes was very different; Benson couldn?t look at Commander Luviox 
without either cracking a smile or looking away deviously to avoid her gaze.
  This time with Narin had been no different; they did their thing and she 
half-dozed and minded the clock which counted down her seconds until duty. 
Sleep overcame her this time though, as the previous hours of paperwork and 
overseeing officers and their projects had taxed her heavily. Hayes removed 
himself from the bed, being careful not to wake her, and he went to the 
bathroom to shower and dress himself. 
  Placing his captain?s pip on his collar, he gazed at his dashing self in the 
mirror and decided that fifty-five wasn?t so bad. You see, there was a fourth 
rule, a rule that is broken all the time on his part, and that is Rule #4: 
absolute secrecy. Granted Hayes only spun the tales to Markstrom Benson, but 
the secrecy was first and foremost for something other than ease amongst the 
minds of the crew. Perhaps for Narin it was, but for Hayes, the discreetness of 
their rendezvous was kept for two reasons.
  One, Lieutenant Commander Chi Mungoti.
  Two, Dr. Aylyn Cta.
  Hayes could almost smell the burning wood beneath his feet at the thought of 
the mutiny that would ensue if those two ladies found out about Commander 
Luviox, let alone about each other. Markstrom knew, though, and every time he 
thought about it he let out a little chuckle. Sometimes during department head 
meetings. Department heads were beginning to think that he was crazy. 
  The other two affairs also had the identical set of rules, and since all 
three women could be trusted to secrecy, the entire pleasure cruise that the 
Coldstream had become was easy street. With the Admiral mainly in charge, it 
was not completely unlike the mayor of a city in which the governor resides. 
Sure, Hayes McQuarrie had responsibilities, but everything was lessened in 
perspective. And when it came right down to it (which it never did), he could 
kick back and watch Admiral Ramirez handle everything. The guy was getting old, 
but he was still a serving admiral on active duty. Not something you hear about 
all the time. But it did provide the captain with a relaxed schedule, 
  Monday, Narin.
  Tuesday, Chi.
  Wednesday, Aylyn.
  Thursday, Narin.
  Friday, Chi.
  Saturday, Aylyn.
  And on the seventh day, he rested. But hopefully not for long.
  There was one more member of his team of department heads with whom he still 
wished to know, in the biblical sense. Claire Eyensworth, chief of Engineering. 
This tough little brunette chick with a beauty mark and an affinity for 
theater, who was originally from the United Kingdom colony of Blackheath on 
Cade VI, had this punchy little accent that nearly drove him crazy every time 
she started rattling off engineering terminology. Hundreds and hundreds of 
words that he would never understand, but over them he inhaled her accent and 
felt more and more of an infatuation. And tonight, it was time to fill up his 
  Engineering buzzed with that field of pulsing energy that man could never 
fully contain. He never fully trusted this vast power of warp and space travel; 
not meant for man, it was, nope, and not meant for him. But bending over some 
sort of console which told her about the ship was Claire. Oh, how the notches 
of her spine penetrated the smooth surface of the uniform as it spanned her 
back. How her hair dangled darkly over her shoulders as she worked, in a 
rainfall of appeal. 
  ?How are things going, Lieutenant Eyensworth?? Hayes asked, putting his hands 
behind his back and spitting out a smirk.
  She was startled, but not in the heart-stopping way. ?Oh, hello Captain.? 
Sweet Jesus, was her accent sexy! ?D?you think you could surpass the protocol 
and call me Claire or something shorter than ?Lieutenant Eyensworth? It?s 
really a mouthful.?
  ?It would be my pleasure, Claire.? He let his eyes bounce up to the towering 
warp core, jutting out his lips in that delightfully ignorant way of his. 
?Things going okay down here??
  ?Oh, fine, fine.? Claire seemed to be taking this casual little conference of 
theirs as a chance to catch her breath. Her hands hugged her hips and she took 
a mindless little look around the room herself. ?Nothing out of the ordinary.?
  ?Isn?t that the only way it is on this ship?? quoth he, a bit spitefully at 
his boring assignment. What had he ever done to deserve such a purgatorial 
  Claire concurred: ?No mysterious space anomalies, no alien attacks, no boldly 
going where no one?s ever gone before, just carting around an old admiral? Why 
would technology designed never to malfunction need maintenance??
  Hayes walked up to the railing beside her and leaned on it, looking dreamily 
into the swimming colors of their engine. ?Well, we have to find our ways to 
break the monotony.? And as if the idea had just come to him, he perked his 
head ever-so-slightly and gave Claire an innocent face. ?Say, how would you 
like to break the monotony with me this evening??
  Much to his pleasant surprise, she stuck out a thoughtful bottom lip and 
looked up, searching her mental pocketbook for an empty slot. (There were lots 
of them.) ?Sure. My schedule?s free. What do you want to do??
  ?Let?s see a play. I?ll put it in the Holodeck. Pick one: drama or comedy??
  ?Oh, I feel like laughing.? Loffing. She said it, loffing. Oh good god, he 
wanted her. 
  ?Okay. I?ll let the computer pick the specific play. It?ll be a surprise.? He 
gave her uniform a quick up-and-down and looked at her as if he was faced with 
stacking toothpicks in a tide pool. ?And I think there?s a dress code at this 
particular theater.?
  Playing along, she asked, ?Oh? And what?s that??
  ?Not a uniform.?
  She laughed brightly. ?I?ll see what I can do. What time??
  Don?t ask Captain Hayes McQuarrie what the play was about. The hours 
following completely erased his collective memory patterns, sending him into an 
early sleep in a bed warmed by two bodies. Claire dozed beside him, a light 
snore resonating like the preemptive hiss of a teakettle, and she was a 
sleep-kicker. Not hard though. She had been an amazing kisser, Hayes 
recollected as a light kick to his ankle roused him from a swirling sleep, 
probably second place only Narin. (Aylyn was sufficient at kissing, and Chi let 
her lips go limp like Hayes was kissing a dead person.) Claire kissed with her 
entire body, arms wrapping, hips grinding, abdomen pressing to abdomen, as if 
her lips were unable to operate independently of the rest of her immaculately 
sculpted parts.
  Hayes slid out of bed, feeling thirsty as hell. He missed his slippers by two 
feet and forfeited his attempt to adorn his soles during his short trip out of 
bed. Replicating a glass of cool water he traveled to his table that sat by his 
large windows. The Coldstream was orbiting Novay VII, a soon-to-be Class M 
planet in the final stages of terra-forming that their ship just happened to be 
passing by. Four science vessels were on the other side of the planet, and 
Admiral Ramirez had already headed meetings with the chief science officers.
  Not that the bastard needed to; he just liked to stick out his prominent gut 
with his hands behind his back and show the little people a feign of care. 
  Hayes had always admired the stars, removing himself from the fact that each 
one housed multiple worlds and resigning to the ignorance that they were just 
pinpricks in the Day?s blindfold. Out here, the blindfold was always on and 
shimmering spots of hope always shone through. When Hayes drained his glass 
halfway, he set it down on the table with a light clink and sat staring out.
  Novay VII was mostly a dark gray-blue, the molding clouds of terra-forming 
eddying in a myriad hurricanes like stripes across its globe. Who would live 
there? Hayes thought rhetorically. Whose homes will be made there? Whose lives 
will begin or end on this world?
  Claire kicked again and Hayes heard the sheets ruffle, so he turned and 
watched her shift and flail her arm onto his empty side of the bed. She would 
have smacked me right in the face with that one, he thought as the back of her 
left palm bounced on his mattress right beneath his pillow. He turned back to 
the window and saw that some of his stars he had been watching before were 
gone, and in their place a dark ship, maybe twice the size of a shuttle, 
seeming to be leaving the Coldstream. It slowly slid toward the eastern 
meridian of Novay VII, and looked to be heading around the planet. This was no 
Starfleet shuttle, though, not a ship that would be carrying officers to and 
from the Coldstream and the science vessels. Hayes rose from his seat and 
almost pressed his face to the glass, trying to rid his view of the mild glare 
in his room. 
  There were no markings on it at all, the ship, and its features were sharp. 
Still it remained in obscurity, its previously discerned sharp features blurred 
by its lack of light. Was this ship carrying a threat? The Coldstream 
nightwatch would have sensed it, no, no, he would have known. Who would have 
authorized a non-personnel ship-to-ship transfer if not the Captain? He would 
have received a call from Narin, any excuse to see each other, really, so who 
  Ramirez, that sneak son of a bitch. Raise a fuss? No, no, he?s an admiral. No 
business of mine.
  The dark ship wheeled around the planet, and disappeared from sight.

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  • » <FWG> <Patronus> Issue 1, Article 1: "Across the Universe"