<FWG> <Patronus> Issue 2, Article 5: "Graced"

  • From: Jason Ziredac <ziredac@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: fwgalaxy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 12:23:05 -0700 (PDT)

  by Claire Eyensworth
  Hayes McQuarrie
  The trick of diversion was an easy one to learn, a simple flip of the mind 
from logic to the body, needs to desires. Everyone on the ship formerly known 
as Coldstream was surely trying it, to whatever degree. Some people took a 
moment from their duties, were they even at them in the first place, to sit and 
catch up on reading, speak with a friend injured in the attack about things 
back home, take a walk in a projected forest that surrounded a pool. Others 
just had lunch. Most importantly, the truly stressed members of the crew, the 
departments heads, sat in their corners to get watered and toweled. Those in 
the brig took naps.
  Claire Eyensworth began picking at her fingernails the moment Markstrom 
Benson obstinately admitted himself to the cells below. Varia was emotional, 
but all right, and Trilo had gone to the window, taciturn and impermeable. The 
commander, as she probably now wanted to be called in all respects and hours of 
the day, tried to salvage the cohesion of the gathering, but couldn?t, ?not 
without all of us here,? she?d said. 
  How contradictory, Claire thought. ?All of us? would denote the captain?s 
  She agreed with Markstrom: something was most evidently wrong. The only 
difference between him and herself was that she had absolutely no clear idea 
what to do about it.
  So whilst the intellectuals read, the strollers did tread, and the hungry 
were fed, Claire sought out a familiar bed. Upon the ghost-town bridge she 
fell, having once found more welcoming air in a haunted house, and she asked 
the computer where Hayes McQuarrie was located. The voice of the computer was 
the only voice on the ship to accomplish a pleasant tone, no worried sighs or 
distracted pauses, and it informed her that he was in the ready room.
  Down the ramp and almost to the door she walked lightly, before she heard the 
other lift door open up for helmsman Ito N?Ges. ?Oh, hello Lieutenant 
  ?Claire?s fine,? she replied kindly. ?Rank or no rank. My title and surname 
are a strenuous jumble. How are things with you, Mr. N?Ges? And what would you 
be called nowadays??
  He chuckled twice. ?I?m doing okay. And you can call me whatever pleases you. 
I?ll answer. Tell me, Claire, I was just wandering the ship, doing laps, you 
know; nowhere to drive the ship. If you?re not busy, would you, perhaps, maybe, 
like to walk with me? No one seems to want a chat or anything??
  ?Oh,? Claire apologized. ?I?ve so much to tend to. I don?t know if I?ll have 
time. Maybe if we get another chance.?
  ?Perhaps I can assist you down in Engineering?? The black-haired boy was 
cutely reaching, and she was flattered. But her heart seated one, and that seat 
was taken.
  ?I?m all right for now, but if I need you, I?ll call. Nice to know I have 
  ?Of course, Claire,? he said, beginning another lap. 
  Claire smiled. ?Have fun if you can.?
  The red alert lights did their spastic thing, and ceased it a second later.
  ?Any idea what that is?? N?Ges asked before he left.
  ?Some system bug or something. Science is working on the sensors.? 
  ?Oh. Huh. Well, buh-bye Claire. Hope to run into you soon.?
  Resuming her previous path, Claire found it now to be a difficult task to 
reach out and press the chime. She feared that ding would be all that an overly 
cautious man would be waiting for in order to blast through the door with a 
phaser set on ?shake ?n? bake.? She feared that it would look suspicious or 
something if someone with a closed mind were to walk in and see her walking in 
without intent to kill. She feared that he?d be a different person, scared into 
being paranoid, angry, even murderous.
  But most of all, she feared that the door wouldn?t open at all. That nothing 
would happen. That a pause and a sinking feeling would inhabit her gut and make 
a stuttering and retreating fool out of her.
  She feared Nothing. No, she told herself, she feared nothing. Not Nothing, 
but nothing. It confused her too; don?t fret.
  The chime inside leaked, muffled, out into her ears. Following it was an 
oddly familiar, ?Come!? like it was the old days when the top mission of the 
day was to find lobsters for the Admiral?s dinner with an Andorian ambassador. 
When she came in, however, she was greeted, while still happily, by a rather 
dogged looking man with great black bags under the skin beneath his eyes. His 
hair was this salted brown cobweb atop his scalp, and his body seemed to tremor 
with the caffeine diet.
  ?Claire,? Hayes spurted, as excited as he could be for his overflow of 
fatigue. ?How good to see you! Come in, sit down, make yourself comfortable. 
Want anything? Some tea? Coffee??
  Claire wanted to make the compulsory declination given the stressful 
situation, but a cup of Dadayama tea sounded refreshing. She requested it, and 
he got it for her. ?Thank you,? she said, taking the first careful sip. ?Have 
you been in your ready room all night??
  ?No, just since 0600,? he said, smiling and sighing comfortably. ?Working 
  ?Doing what? I can?t begin to imagine what a captain on a mutinied ship would 
be doing to take up so much time??
  ?Claire, please don?t say it like that.? Hayes was tired, and he was tired of 
accusations. Though it wasn?t her intended connotation, she let him let loose. 
It was the least she could do. ?I was doing what should have been in the best 
interest of any good person on this ship. And now I have good people 
questioning me, constantly shouting at me, calling me a criminal and an 
outlaw?like Robin Hood or something?and all I?m trying to do is save lives. I 
didn?t want to hit the Admiral, I didn?t want to cause a struggle, I didn?t 
want the Lexington to be destroyed?And if you even think of saying that we were 
responsible for the deaths of those people, you?d better just stop thinking 
that right now. I had every intention of keeping them alive, but they blew 
  She stepped forward and looked down at his feet, watching as hers got closer 
and closer. He was wearing slippers, and her sleek black uniform boots were 
like ships about to pierce a blue cotton fog. What stopped his rant?something 
she deemed had gone far enough?was her left hand that she?d delicately placed 
on his shoulder, like they were preparing to bolero. One quick glance arched up 
at his eyes before she let her face sink into his T-shirt-clad chest, as her 
other hand wrapped around his waist.
  It took Hayes a moment before he realized exactly what was happening (thus 
far) and hugged her back. ?I?m sorry for this,? he said. 
  ?Don?t be,? she found herself saying. ?It was the only thing a noble person 
would have done. I think if I was in your shoes I might have done the same 
thing, were I only as brave. That?s one thing that you can?t let anybody 
demean: your courage. You had so much of it to do what you?ve done so far, and 
I personally believe you?re able to take this further, should the rest of this 
ship follow you. Which is another thing I must warn you about, Hayes: Narin is 
trying to gather people against you.?
  ?I know. I figured she would.? He sounded peaceful about it, surprisingly, as 
if it was a fate he?d prepared himself for following years of isolated 
  ?She?s doing it fairly, I?ll say in her defense. If enough people will follow 
you she?ll abide. Which makes me a trifle suspicious??
  ?Of course,? he said, as if she said that one should insulate water pipes in 
wintertime. ?Suspicion will become a common thread, and we?ll need to wear it. 
Just know that in the best interest of the ship, you can always trust me.?
  ?Of course,? she said, as if he had asked her to marry him.
  Claire still hadn?t pulled her head away from his chest; she was looking for 
his heartbeat, but was too wrapped in swirling thoughts to concentrate on it. 
The rhythm was too deep inside, the blood flowing not seeming as important as 
the arms around her. She didn?t know it then, and she would realize it 
approximately fifteen minutes later, but she was falling in love with him; and 
the predominant thought was a fright of losing him to ultimate persecution.
  The embrace was bracingly broken, and it was accompanied by the familiar 
flashing of red lights. His arms left her back, and his chest left her cheek, 
and he uttered a distressed, ?Shit!? Wheeling around the desk he nearly 
destroyed the perfect arrangement of pyramidal prisms he?d been given along 
with his captainship and a glass of champagne, and he launched himself into his 
chair. Three frantic taps of his personal computer brought about the immediate 
ceasing of the red alert.
  Claire, understandably, raised an eyebrow.
  Hayes sighed. ?You?ve probably been wondering why the red alert light has 
been going off. And now you?re adding the wonder as to why I?m manually 
deactivating it each time it flashes. I could explain; you have an open mind, 
don?t you??
  ?Positively, Hayes,? she said, offering herself and taking the seat across 
the desk. ?You?ve nothing to rouse distrust for you in my heart.?
  He took an intermission from whatever was on his screen and leaned onto the 
edge of his desk like a kid at a glass case that contained copious amounts of 
his favorite delicacy. ?Just so you know, the way you say that gives me 
  The adorable little moment caught Claire unawares, but her eyes batted and 
she expressed gratitude in some odd way. 
  ?Anyway,? he said, going back to the screen. There was another one of those 
heavy breaths that he had to take before uttering something hard to say. ?We 
have a problem. And we?ve had it since 0600 this morning. Approximately. I have 
my theories, but I?m blank right now as to why; but?the?oh how do I put this? 
The?hmm. Okay. The ship that?s behind us right now with their weapons armed is 
waiting for more negotiations to start between myself and the other captain.?
  The alarming little moment caught Claire at a complete bodily pause as her 
heart jumped up in her throat, committed three somersaults, and plopped down in 
her stomach. ?Well?? she said breathlessly. ?That?s certainly not what I 
  ?Now, as I said, I have my theories, but I think everything?s going to be all 
right. I hope. If this Captain Lebaron is the kind of woman I think she is, 
things will be all right. But for now, as per their understandable cautions, 
they have their weapons armed. And you know what happens when weapons are drawn 
on us.?
  Claire only thought for a second, her brightness beginning to glow a little 
in all this emotional jumble. ?With that system upgrade we had, right. The red 
alert system goes on automatically.? Realization befell her and her hands fell 
dead in her lap. ?You mean to tell me that for?? She glanced at the time. ??for 
sixteen hours you?ve been manually disabling the red alert because it keeps 
activating due to the ship behind us??
  ?Without telling anybody, I know. It?s wrong of me. I should have been the 
first one out onto the bridge to make an escape. But when Captain Lebaron sent 
me a message asking for negotiations, I thought, ?We?ve been graced. Someone 
with sense.?? Hayes continued to speak as Claire slowly got up from her chair 
and went around to the other side of the desk. ?I?ve so far explained to her 
what happened, and she?s been listening. I?m imagining several department head 
meetings going on over there? What are you???
  ?You don?t need to explain yourself, Hayes,? Claire said. ?First you 
protected us with defensive tactical skills that we didn?t know you possessed, 
and then you protected us by shutting down a potential mass murder. Now you?ve 
been protecting us with just the taps of your fingers. I?d be interested in 
knowing, Hayes McQuarrie, how little does it take for a man like you to protect 
several hundred people??
  She was standing over him now, reaching delicately down to his hand to dust 
the top of it with her fingertips. ?My heart tells me that you could so much as 
blink and lives would be saved. I don?t care what you?ve named the ship, Hayes: 
you are Patronus.?
  ?So far, you?ve been the only one to actually think about the Latin meaning 
of the word.?
  ?I know another one. Amor. Take a wild guess at what that one means.? With 
that, Claire bent down and kissed Hayes deeply, gaining his lips and taking his 
tongue, giving her own in passionate exchange. His hands began to rove her ribs 
and her waist, her ass and her legs. ?Hayes, I need you. Now. Please.? She 
commanded him softly, in between almost forceful kisses.
  ?Just don?t be offended if I have to suddenly get up to, you know,? and he 
shook a hand at his computer screen.
  ?I?d rather do this in a more appropriate setting.?
  ?I can?t leave.?
  ?You can?t?? Claire said, provocatively. It was merely fifteen minutes later 
that Ito N?Ges was sworn to secrecy an given the rites to disabling the red 
alert. He was almost caught envying the captain?s hand on the small of Claire 
Eyensworth?s back, but he just nodded and complied. Not as if he had anything 
better to do.
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  • » <FWG> <Patronus> Issue 2, Article 5: "Graced"