Patronus by Hayes McQuarrie There was a huge reception in the hangar bay, nearly all of the able bodied crew (and then some), all waving their arms and cheering for the Wraith pilots as they stepped out of their ships. Savith stood on the nose of his and took a theatrical bow, rousing a vast cheer. McQuarrie, though, wanted no attention; he knew how this crew felt about him, and just wanted to get safely to his quarters so he could hide from their malignancy. But when he stepped down from his Wraith, he was seized in a much more celebratory way. Lifted above the heads of those who grabbed him, he was suddenly swimming in a lake of hands, all trying for him. A chant grew from a small group of people to the entire hangar, ?McQuarrie! McQuarrie! McQuarrie! McQuarrie!? Scattered cries from the crowd he could barely pick up. ?You saved us all, Captain!? ?Good work, sir!? ?I change my vote!? This last exclamation was heard over even some of the nominal chanting, and soon, more people were concurring. ?Me too! I vote for Patronus!? ?Yeah, Patronus!? Then the chant shifted from ?McQuarrie? to ?Patronus,? and all who were present were shouting it, lifting its name to the stars for absolution. Finally, his captors put him down, and he gave a million handshakes, it seemed. Out of the crowd, then, came Narin, holding her arms out for an unembarrassed embrace. Her arms wrapped around his neck, and his around her waist, and he lifted her off her feet and squeezed her hard. He put her down and they climbed the stairs and onto the catwalk, so they could address everybody. Hayes put his hands up to silence everyone, and said, ?I can?t thank you enough for your sudden support. It means a lot to me, honestly. Now, I?m going to put it to the test: shout?shout anything?if you now see that something is terribly wrong around here.? The hangar shook with vocal quakes. Hayes feigned to be shocked and afraid of the loud response he received, and then shook his head to notify them that he was expecting it. ?So! This crew is as smart as I always thought they were! Tell you the truth, I was worried there for a second that I was going to be crucified. But now, correct me if I?m wrong, but do I now have total support on my ship?? Another deafening cry of approval. ?I will have a meeting with my department heads tomorrow morning, promptly at 0800. Now is the time for us all to finish repairing the ship and have a good night?s rest. But after the department head meeting, you will all be fully informed as to what our plans of action will be, and I?m implementing a form of government on this ship that truly, truly represents the voice of everyone on board. Right down to the ensign and non-military positions, every voice on this ship will be heard and taken into esteemed account. ?Because we are now our own galaxy, as Captain Lebaron said. We belong to nobody but ourselves, and the edges of our galaxy are the edges of this ship. And with the number of us being very small compared to that of even a moon colony, it?s very plausible for a decision to be made by everyone.? Narin spoke up, ?Now, now don?t think that because we are a new form of government that you can do whatever you want and expect everything to work. You?ll all be expected to report to duty just as you would normally. Because this is still a Starfleet-built ship, and you are all trained to run a Starfleet-built ship, so you will all follow duty. Understood?? Hundreds cried, ?Yes, sir!? ?Good!? she said. ?Let?s get to work on repairs! On the double!? The crew filed out of the hangar bay, and Hayes and Narin walked together. Hayes said, ?You know, as I said before, I was worried I was going to get strung up. The most of my worries was that you?d be the one ordering and executing it. I have to say that I?m delightfully surprised to see you on my side again.? ?Well,? Narin said, ?it was quite evident after the Talisman attacked that there was something wrong, and even if it?s not worth pursuing, it?s worth defending against. Does that make sense?? ?Sort of.? ?What are you doing tonight, after duty?? ?Passing out. Directly.? Narin pulled him aside and quietly said, ?Can I come over before you pass out?? ?Sure can.? ?Okay. First order of business, we need to perform search and recover for Trilo?s craft. Second, you and I need to go down and convince Markstrom to come out of his cell.? Hayes darkened and sighed, looking down at his and Narin?s feet as they stopped in the hall. ?Trilo?I wonder what he was thinking.? ?He was adamant about opposing the revolution, and then he does a suicide run on the Talisman. That was one confused person.? ?I don?t think he was confused at the end,? Hayes said, their walk resuming. ?He saw his ship under attack, his friends getting killed, and his Klingon side finally made a joint decision with his Betazoid side. He listened to reason and honor, and gave his life.? Narin sniffed. ?He didn?t have to though. Our torpedoes would have done the job. I feel? I feel responsible for his death.? ?Hey,? Hayes whispered, and they stopped again. The halls were beginning to clear, and so he put a curled finger under her chin and pulled it upward. ?Don?t. You didn?t know what he was doing. You couldn?t have.? ?It was my order.? ?Don?t,? he persisted. ?Well let?s find any remains we can. I?ll speak at his funeral.? -- The sound of his own breathing was all he could hear. No remaining functions were on his Wraith, including life-support. All he had was his emergency life-support system and a sealed cockpit. Trilo Trekar had been lucky, maybe too lucky to be considered anything else than an act of God. When the photon torpedoes detonated before his eyes, he had pulled away, but not enough. The blast raped him of the rest of shields and fried everything except the cockpit. Metal was fused and bulbous around him, and he questioned whether or not his compartment could actually be opened in the way it once had. He?d have to be cut from it, if anyone were to rescue him. The problem was, without friction, his ship was still drifting farther and farther away from the scene of the fight. He had about twenty minutes left on his emergency life-support. It wasn?t long until he could see the shuttles sweeping the area for him, anticipating the possibility that he was drifting, thus moving outward. Finally, one shuttle emitted a minor tractor beam to stop his vertical spin, and then scanned him. Out of his cockpit window, he waved to his rescuers, but they couldn?t see him. Without lights in his ship, all they could see was broken dark metal. They towed him anyway, and he was getting impatient as his life-support was dwindling. He hoped they wouldn?t make any stops along the way, assuming he was dead inside. But he figured they scanned for life signs. Maybe. After the trauma he?d endured, he was unsure of a lot of things. The only thing he was sure of was a wave coming over him, some telepathic transmission. It faded in and out, but he could make out certain words. ?The forest? wake? the time? the town? come over? inside? a worry? section?? Trilo thought it only a part of his shock speaking through, imagining the voice of a young woman he might have recognized. Then, like the first time you realize you?re awake after a long, confusing night of vivid dreaming, he heard the voice clearer, more direct, say, ?Trilo? You can hear me?? It startled him so bad that he gave a cry and shook his head to try to get it away from him. The spider to be launched from its web. He threw a minor tantrum and beat his temples and growled to himself to drown out the telepathy. Once there was only frantic panting, he realized he?d been victorious. The voice persisted no longer. For now. -- Markstrom Benson hugged his captain the minute the forcefield was deactivated, and then he hugged his commander. ?It?s about time, guys. Honestly.? ?You okay? From the attack?? ?Bet your ass, Hayes. Took a few tumbles, but I?m just fine. Might wanna check on your meat sack down the hall though.? The dark voice came back, ?Leave me be. I?m fine.? Markstrom shrugged and slapped his comrade?s arm. ?Guess not, eh? So what?s the plan?? ?We go to our quarters and rest up and report for duty as normal. Department head meeting at 0800.? ?Sweet.? Captain, came a voice from the bridge. We found Lieutenant Trekar. He?s alive and well, sir. ?Send him directly to Sickbay anyway, Ensign. Tell him Lieutenant Benson and I will meet him there.? Yes, sir. ?What about me, sir?? Narin asked. The brace on her wrist felt tight. ?You can come too, if you like. I mentioned Markstrom just because they had an argument. Figured they could make amends now.? ?Very well. See you up there in a few. Gonna make sure Ramirez is okay.? Markstrom Benson and Hayes McQuarrie left her there, talking all the way. She made her slow way down the hall, realizing that meeting her was an amused, breathy little laugh. Upon turning the corner, she found that the Admiral had sustained more injuries, and he was holding a broken arm. ?You?re a very good actress, Commander Luviox.? ?Well, I?m doing as you said,? she remarked. ?I?m making him trust me again.? ?Good. These idiots are going to all follow him now, I see. You have your work cut out for you.? Admiral Ramirez coughed long, gurgling unpleasantly. ?I?ll try to talk Hayes into getting some doctors in to see you.? ?I?m fine,? Ramirez replied irately. ?If we?re going to take this ship back with our lives, you?re going to have to have your life. No use arguing, Admiral. I will see to it that you?re healed.? He didn?t thank her, and instead made a weak attempt at standing, limping brokenly to the forcefield. ?Now you listen, Commander. Every day following this will be delicate. You can?t let McQuarrie think for one second that you?re not on his side. But every action you take under his nose must be against him. Do you understand?? ?I do.? ?Do anything you need to do. Understand.? Narin breathed. ?I do.? Henceforth, Narin Luviox, after two utterances of ?I do? was married to the task of returning the Coldstream?s soul to the body occupied now by this Patronus. And she would have the Admiral ready to come out teeth gnashing to bite the hide from McQuarrie?s dish. ?I won?t give up my standing as a member of the Federation, Admiral. Never.? -- Hayes left Markstrom and Trilo to make their amends in Sickbay. Aylyn wasn?t immediately available, so he sauntered back to the bridge, relaxed and confident now. People waved to him and greeted to him as they passed, and he was still getting pledges of support from random members of the crew. He accepted them warmly, trying his damnedest to treat them more like brothers and sisters than before, trying to strengthen all camaraderie aboard. He?d need it if his plan against the Federation was to work. The bridge was winding down, the night crew just settling in, the repairmen finishing up. N?Ges yawned his way all the way to the turbolift, and said goodnight to the captain tiredly, thanking him for all he?d done. ?I chose a side, finally, sir.? ?Figured you would by now. And since you still call me ?sir,? is it safe to assume which one?? ?Very safe, sir.? N?Ges smiled and bowed his head. ?Goodnight again, sir.? Hayes, with his hands in his pockets, kicked over to his ready room door and stepped in. He replicated a cup of tea and sipped it, feeling the good burn on his upper lip and tongue. Crashing in his chair felt good now, rather than onerous, and his feet went up on the corner of his desk. One hand reached over and tapped in a long code series in his computer, and logged into a secure untraceable channel. A steady beeping ensued. It was a beacon. And it was picked up. Fading into the screen then was Captain Owyn Lebaron, looking as sternly beautiful as when he first started talking to her. They looked at each other blankly, and then Hayes broke, a smile widening between his cheeks, provoking Lebaron to do the same. ?Did your crew fall for it?? he asked. ?They did,? she said. ?Did yours?? ?They certainly thought it was a real battle.? ?It was a real battle, Hayes. Just not for keeps. Remember?? ?Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was a good one. Had me sweating when that phaser blast cut through the side.? ?Any casualties on your end, Hayes?? ?A few.? ?Do you think they?re necessary?? ?Maybe not necessary, but?well, you know. Necessary.? Owyn Lebaron chuckled sadly. ?I hope our consciences aren?t ridden by those lives that we each had to take today.? ?Maybe not in the long run, Owyn.? ?What is the long run, Hayes? What are you planning to do? Obviously you aren?t going to do as I warned. That was my real warning, by the way, minus the hostility. If you want all your people to live as much as I think you do, you?ll stay out there and let things settle on this side. There are millions of worlds out there. You could make your own colony, escape the problems instead of letting more lives be lost in the process of fixing them.? ?No,? Hayes said, taking another sip of his tea. ?They need to be fixed. To escape and ignore is to become part of the problem. I can?t do that. They need to be fixed, and I?m going to get this crew pumped up for fixing them.? ?So back to my original question, Hayes, what are you planning to do?? Hayes smiled mischievously and said, ?It?s a surprise.? ++ --------------------------------- We won't tell. Get more on shows you hate to love (and love to hate): Yahoo! TV's Guilty Pleasures list.