<FWG> <Patronus> Issue 1, Article 2: "At the Other End of the Leash"

  • From: Jason Ziredac <ziredac@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: fwgalaxy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 19:42:32 -0800 (PST)

  At the Other End of the Leash
  by Lieutenant SG Trilo Trekar
  Doctor Aylyn Cta
  Captain Hayes McQuarrie
  ?Commander Luviox says we?re on our way out of the Novay system and we?re 
heading to the Metriaga area.? Yolli Mosté was exerting powerful emotions of 
confusion and a tinge of fright. Trilo Trekar, you must know, was not a huge 
fan of his Betazoid side, and tried to ignore it whenever possible. It was the 
reason he never got along with too many Klingons on the home-world, always 
stumbling into their thoughts and emotions and causing problems. This time, at 
the mention of Metriaga, Trilo picked up unease from his assistant security 
team leader.
  ?What?s wrong with Metriaga??
  Yolli was confused. ?Did I say something was wrong with Metriaga, sir??
  Trilo pursed his lips and shook his head negatively and turned away, back to 
his desk, checking on the ambiguously described business rendezvous the Admiral 
had last night. He thought the subject had been dismissed but Yolli knew 
  ?Sir, I really don?t mind the empathy. Nobody does.?
  ?I am Klingon, Mosté. I do not have empathic abilities.?
  ?All right, sir, whatever you say.? After that, Trilo expected Yolli to leave 
as their routine morning greeting and exchange of ship gossip had run its time. 
?There is something wrong with Metriaga,? Yolli said instead. ?Well not really 
wrong, but precarious.?
  Trilo swiveled in his chair and crossed his arms, trying his best to look 
stern and stoic like the good Klingon he?d always tried to be. ?What?s 
precarious about it??
  ?Metriaga is in a system on the edge of explored space is all, sir,? Yolli 
spoke quickly. He was trying not to seem afraid, which was admirable. ?Beyond 
that border is wild territory no one has gone before. There have been reports 
from the colonies of strange happenings. Not necessarily attacks, but 
just?well, weird things, sir.?
  ?Then I?ll keep my eyes open. Thank you, Mosté.?
  Yolli jerked forward to add some argument, some trifle form of counsel, but 
instead waved his hand to his superior and bid him good day. Trilo was happy 
with that, and swiveled around in his chair, clicking and clacking at his 
terminal, trying to drum up some information on this Metriaga place. It 
required more than he?d bargained, for the planet was so backwater that the 
only search fields fulfilled were articles only briefly mentioning the cursed 
world, and he had to dig from link to link to find a hand-entered exposé by a 
doctor from the colony, a Doctor Severn Harak. 
  It was littered with medical jargon, perceptibly not reading for prospective 
tourists. Paraphrased, it would have said, ?Metriaga has been classified and 
sanctioned as Class M, however the throat virus is still at large and we advise 
any interested parties to post inoculation sites in orbit to warn incomers and 
guard them from the bug. The virus is not lethal, and will only infect the host 
if said host is not inoculated. Enclosed is the proper recipe for the 
prescription.? There was a bit more history enclosed, and Trilo skimmed it for 
the gist had been obtained.
  And, as premier security officer aboard the ship, it was Trilo Trekar?s sworn 
duty to alert the other officers of his crew. Cta and Benson were the two to 
contact, to cooperate on securing the inoculation with any potential away team. 
If there was an away team; he had been so preoccupied with Yolli?s worry that 
he had forsaken the question of why. Why were they going to Metriaga in the 
first place? Surely an admiral cruise wouldn?t be called upon to investigate 
any of the strange happenings, and no business meeting of an admiral would be 
held at such a remote island of a planet.
  His curiosity was a mask of further worry he was picking up from a few of the 
other officers aboard who had the same thoughts he did. 
  Aylyn never had any patience. Nor did she ever have patients. She was a 
ship?s doctor aboard the most boring ship in the fleet, as her captain and 
secret boyfriend Hayes McQuarrie would always say. Wholeheartedly did she 
agree, wanting to kill herself every single hour that no such person would set 
foot inside Sickbay with more than a pregnancy test.
  And she had had enough of those. It seemed to her that on every ship she?d 
been on, there was more lovemaking than in bunny cages. Aylyn?s common nickname 
for the ship?s she?d served on was the USS Loveboat, succeeded by sequence 
letters. The Coldstream was thusly the Loveboat F. Couldn?t one officer 
(herself included) go without chasing the opposite sex? Wasn?t that the most 
aggravating downside to serving on a military vessel: having relationships? 
What if one of them died? Wasn?t banging one of your crewmates just begging for 
a series of psychological complexes when they?re assimilated and try to kill 
  Hayes being the exception, Aylyn hated love, and loved to hate it. Mocking 
those who walked hand in hand, mouth to mouth, she decided against picturing 
herself in any sort of lover situation. That?s why Hayes?s little guidelines 
about sleeping together appealed to her so much; if no one else knows and he?s 
just the Captain when not in the bedroom, then he might just as well be a 
manifestation of her nighttime imagination run wild. Every woman?s got an itch, 
her mother used to tell her when she was in middle school and the churnings of 
puberty, and you don?t need a husband or boyfriend to scratch it.
  No need stood between her and the Captain. Maybe it was a one-way street, but 
not coming from her. She never asked.
  If he doesn?t tell you right out, don?t go asking him, her mother used to 
tell her. Most of the time his big dumb mouth will spill what it feels, and 
anything else is a lie. Now get to your trigonometry homework or so help me 
I?ll slap you Tuesday.
  ?Yeah, you would, wouldn?t you, bitch?? Aylyn always wanted to say back. 
Mother always knew best, as the credo went, and the woman always had good 
advice that Aylyn took to heart, but every time she told Aylyn she would slap 
her Tuesday, there was always an inkling (sometimes embodied by a 
near-antagonizing lean forward) to test her mother?s patience, to see if she 
really would have slapped her Tuesday.
  ?Go ahead, I dare you, Miles. Go down,? Aylyn taunted. She and her friend and 
head nurse Miles Slade were playing an old Rummy-type game called Phase 10 on 
the biobed, perched upon rolling stools raised to the max so they could sit 
comfortably on their card table. The point of the game was to complete the 
hands given to you and put them down on the table, and each card you had in 
your hand when your opponent got rid of theirs was counted against you. Aylyn 
was streaking again at a whopping 30 points, and Miles was sweating under the 
heat-lamp of 245. 
  ?Not like it will do any good anyway,? Miles said, putting down his set of 
four and a run of four. ?You know exactly what I?ve been collecting and you?re 
going all the way immediately on your turn.?
  Aylyn fanned out her cards, a perfect run of 9 from 3 to 11, without wild 
cards. And the other two cards in her hand were a pair of fours: the exact 
thing he?d been collecting. Again, Aylyn had won. ?You know me too well, Miles.?
  Miles scoffed and rolled his eyes. Aylyn was sure he was gay: a safe friend 
to have in her voluntarily loveless world. ?Damn it, Lyn?? he was the only 
person besides Hayes who was permitted to call her that ??you always get me 
with that. At least I got to go down that time. What are you on, Phase 8??
  ?Phase 8. And, uh, where are you? Phase?oh I can?t see that far back?Phase 4??
  Miles tallied up their scores and placements on the PADD next to their cards. 
?Shut it.? He was the only person permitted to say that to her, under her rank 
or over. ?Why bother gloating anyway? You?re slaughtering me; look, I got 
fifteen more points, putting me at an even three hundred. You?re at thirty. You 
have ten times my score.?
  ?I sure do, buddy. Keep playing. It?s your deal.?
  ?Trekar to Cta.?
  As ill-natured as you?d picture a loveless woman being, you?d be wrong with 
Aylyn Cta. She was a joker, a playful person who loved to get rises out of 
people. Shit-flinging, her Texan friend at the Academy used to call it. 
  ?You?re still not pronouncing right, Trilo,? she called back, trying to make 
her smile audible; sometimes that guy tried to hard to be the full Klingon his 
one-third Klingon makeup wasn?t. ?Give it another shot.?
  ?You?re putting too much of a vowel in between the C and the T. Come on, 
buddy, we?ve been working on this one for months.?
  She clicked her teeth and rolled her eyes at Miles, who had to stunt his 
chuckle. ?What do you need, big guy??
  ?We?re heading to a place called Metriaga, and there?s a very mild throat 
virus that?s still hanging around there. I thought I?d alert you so you could 
work with Lieutenant Benson on getting an inoculation ready for an away team, 
should there be one. I?ll send you the prescription values here??
  Trying to sound disgustingly shocked, Aylyn cried, ?Are you giving me an 
order, Trilo? I?ll go tell the Captain immediately and he?ll have you thrown in 
the brig for forgetting your place in the scheme of things!? This, of course, 
was a joke.
  Trilo chuckled dryly on the other end of the comm. and said, ?It was more of 
a suggestion. Our higher-ups don?t really take initiative, so??
  ?Right, right, right,? Aylyn cut in. ?I?ll give Markstrom a call and we?ll 
cook up this inoculation. It?s not a serious illness, right??
  A slight pause. ?Well ohh-kay, Trilo, it was nice hearing from you.?
  ?Uh, yes, it??
  ?Uh, right, bye.? And the channel closed.
  Aylyn cracked a vitriolic smile and looked across the card table at Miles, 
who was halfway into a shuffle. ?Don?t stop, Miles. I haven?t beaten you yet. 
You get the cards all dealt out while I go get this taken care of. I?ll be back 
in ten minutes tops.? She got up and beelined for her office and swiveled to 
walk backwards for a second. ?And Miles, don?t cheat. I?ll know if you do.?
  ?You know I?d never cheat against you, Lyn,? he said with a hint of 
romanticism, to which she cocked her head. When he saw her expression, and that 
she?d stopped walking altogether, he added, ?Because you?d chop off my hands. 
You know, kick my ass or something.?
  Squinting coyly, Aylyn nodded and pointed at him as a final benevolent 
admonishment not to deal his own cards face-up. Rounding the corner brought her 
to her office, so she stepped inside and listened to the doors hiss closed 
behind her. At her computer, Trilo?s message was waiting, including the full 
details of the virus and the inoculation. She studied it briefly, looking for 
keywords of danger and seeing none, looking for unfamiliar symptoms and seeing 
none, looking for difficulty and seeing none. Cross-referencing with the rest 
of the crew for individual problems to weed out bad candidates for any possible 
away team, she again found nothing. 
  Damned. Nothing new and exciting. Everyone was going to be absolutely fine 
  ?Cta to Benson. Get out of bed, you lazy turd.?
  ?For your information, sweetie pie, I am out of bed. Just because I?m off 
duty today until 1300 doesn?t mean I burn daylight.?
  ?Uh-huh. It?s 1230 now?What are you wearing??
  ?Oh this is going to be an interesting comm. chat.?
  ?Mark. What are you wearing??
  ?There. That?s my point. When you get around to following your duty or 
whatever you do, we?ve finally gotten ourselves a project, albeit boring.?
  ?Yeah? What is it??
  ?We?re going to this planet that has an active throat virus in the air, and 
the proper inoculation can make us immune to its effects. Should I be going 
slower, Markie? Are my words to big??
  ?Actually, Aylynnie, I was wondering when you were going to be done.?
  ?I?ve done all my homework on the matter, and now I just need you to 
replicate the medicine and its applicators for any possible away teams. Can you 
do that??
  ?Yeah, yeah, sure. I?ll bring ?em to you when I?m done.?
  ?Thanks, Markie,? Aylyn catcalled patronizingly, closing the channel before 
he could issue his sarcastic response. ?Well,? she said to herself, ?that does 
it for that. Today?s big obstacle can be considered passed.? And she stood from 
the office chair to go beat Miles into the ground with an ending score of 55 to 
  The Admiral?s room always smelled like bad incense, like cleaning supplies 
had been spilled and deemed a proper aroma for the atmosphere. Hayes could 
actually go without entering, could just submit like he always did to the 
Admiral?s sporadic actions, could ignore the Admiral?s disregard for a chain of 
command, just to avoid the awful smell in there. Sometimes it was the cleaning 
supply smell, and sometimes it was month-old grapes squashed in the air cycle. 
He turned away from the door for a beat, and then turned back around and took a 
deep breath before ringing the chime.
  ?Come,? the voice said from inside.
  Admiral Elian Ramirez was a man in his sixtieth year, keeping well a full, 
thick head of black hair that always looked wet and blanketed over his scalp 
like a smooth fungus. He was chubby, but had strong arms and legs that strained 
his uniform. Upon his chair he sat like a tyrannical king, hands gripping the 
ends of the armrests, posture slouched, legs outstretched leisurely. His head 
was leaning forward and his small eyes were still looking forward. The man 
always looked pissed, but the man always was stupid.
  ?Sir,? Hayes said curtly, succinctly. With the intense leisure aboard the 
ship, his sparse meetings with the Admiral were what kept him up to speed with 
his militaristic formalities. It always felt like the meeting between a good 
student and a bad principal. ?Permission to speak candidly.?
  Ramirez half-grinned, saying This is going to be good. ?Granted.?
  ?Admiral Ramirez, please keep me in the loop. When you go straight to my XO 
and I pick up on our movements through rumor, when I?the Captain?hear of what 
we?re doing from an ensign in engineering, then I?m not doing a captain?s job. 
Just because you?re of higher rank than I doesn?t mean you can just??
  ?And what, Captain McQuarrie, would you have done about it?? The Admiral 
still didn?t stir from his kingly sit. ?Tell me, when would you tell your XO? 
The next time the both of you are on duty on the bridge? Or when she rolls off 
of you to go to sleep??
  Hayes was silent, stunned. Ramirez was now, after all these months, proving 
  ?I don?t need to ?keep you in the loop,? McQuarrie,? he spat, keeping 
menacingly motionless. ?I will give you the details of the Coldstream?s 
movements when it is directly pertinent to your particular position in the 
ship?s command. That is part of my duty.?
  Perhaps not as smart as Hayes thought. He tilted his head back to project 
condescension, and placed his hands behind his back, which he straightened. 
?Well, then Admiral, you?d know that when the Coldstream?s movements involve 
heading to a planet with an away team, and away team coordination goes through 
the Captain and not the Admiral, then sir, perhaps you should have given me a 
  ?Again,? Ramirez condescended, ?you didn?t need to know. For future 
reference, you won?t ever need to know unless I tell you. Understood??
  Failure: this confrontation was just another failure, and to add to it, the 
Admiral somehow knew that he was sleeping with Narin. At least. He wanted to 
ask the Admiral how he had this information, but it would either be a lie or 
completely embarrassing that could erupt into more knowledge spread throughout 
the ship. Nodding and giving his mandatory vocal acknowledgement, Hayes finally 
turned and left the odious odor of the Admiral?s room and when the door hissed 
closed behind him, he leaned on it for a second. 
  There was a coldness in his guts and his extremities, something like anger 
and shame mixed like an alcoholic drink. Ahead the hall to the turbolift 
stretched laboriously, twisting in his vision in a way that made him want a 
good, heavy drink. Real alcohol, not synth. He counted one blessing about the 
fact Ramirez knew of his romantic habits: he wasn?t too social of a man; there 
wouldn?t be anyone to tell unless he went out of his reclusive way.
  Overall, Hayes felt like the kicked dog of another person, and that feeling 
was never pleasant. To be at the other end of the leash was to potentially be 
choked. And for just a little while longer, Hayes had no choice but to submit. 
Maybe one day he?d get off this ship, go riding through the stars like a cowboy 
again, just like when he was on the Exeter. Or maybe he?d get up the gumption 
to finally retire and live in peace, somewhere on a backwater planet where 
there were still small towns. 
  Again, again, again?Hayes walked away from the Admiral?s room with his head 
hanging and his feet dragging. There was an itch in his eyes, and a weight in 
his heart.

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  • » <FWG> <Patronus> Issue 1, Article 2: "At the Other End of the Leash"