Halves Form by Hayes McQuarrie Claire hit the spot. In more ways than one. Hayes?s tension dissipated, and he could go about his tedious task once more. More than once more: forty or fifty more times. At least. Christ. ?Computer, unlock ready room, voice recognition McQuarrie, six-seven-two-niner.? The computer replied, ?Voice recognition confirmed. Ready room unlocked.? Ito N?Ges was reading a holonovel with his feet propped up on the captain?s desk, unclad in any footwear. His uniform shirt was now draped over the captain?s chair, and his white T-shirt was wrinkled and worried. When Hayes appeared in the doorway, his feet fled the desktop and the holonovel found its way to the floor by accident. ?Captain, sir, I apologize!? Ito stood and snatched his uniform shirt from the chair and was hopping into his shoes. ?I didn?t mean to take liberties with your property?? ?Ito, Ito, hey, no worries. Stay if you want. It?s nice and quiet in here, so finish what you were reading, I don?t mind.? Ito picked up the holonovel and shook it trivially. ?This? No, I?ve read it before. Twice actually. Just thought I?d run over my favorite passages to pass the time.? ?What is it?? Hayes swept his arm in the direction of the sofa provided, and Ito sat in it to retie his shoes. ?Immobility in a Stranded Mind, by Derrick. Great book. You read it?? Hayes shook his head. ?Haven?t got around to it yet. I?m not book-dumb, but I?m not a huge reader at the same time. The ones I find myself reading are fantasies and quick-reading adventures. Philosophical works like Derrick books have to be pounded into me. Also I feel pressured, when reading philosophy, to memorize stuff to quote to people. People who quote philosophy always feel pretentious to me.? ?I try not to quote or preach,? Ito said. ?If someone wants to learn something, they can pick up the text itself. They don?t want to think in a way they don?t voluntarily open themselves up to.? ?Any messages?? ?No. Nothing changed.? ?That?s good.? Hayes resumed his seat at the computer and looked at the screen, studying it briefly before looking back at Ito. ?What else did you do while I was gone?? ?Nothing. Just read.? ?Uh-huh.? ?Yup.? ?Yeah.? ?Did you and Lieutenant Eyensworth?have a good time?? Hayes?s hands webbed behind his head. ?Oh yeah. I always have a good time with Claire. She?s got a real interesting way about her, doesn?t she? Love her accent.? ?Yeah, I?yeah, she told me to call her Claire. It?s weird, you know? Not too many people are taking their rank anymore. Ran into Ensign Bravineth on one of my laps through the ship, and she even stopped me to tell me?and I barely even have spoken to her in the past?never to call her an ensign again. I said, ?Okay?why are you telling me this?? you know? And she said, ?Because that makes me a part of Starfleet. And I don?t want to be a part of Starfleet anymore.?? Hayes cocked an eyebrow. ?Really?? ?Really. It seems that those people who are with you are really with you. This thing could totally be a misunderstanding that could be solved in a mature meeting of minds, but if things go the?go the human way?people are prepared to completely denounce Starfleet and fight back.? ?How do you feel?? ?Still undecided. I don?t know all the facts. And even if I did, I?d need a lot of, you know, alone time. Kinda meditate on it and such.? The former captain perked up and leaned forward. ?You meditate?? Ito derailed for a minute and then heaved himself back into a regular mode of thinking. ?Well, not meditate meditate. Just meditate. I didn?t mean any sort of spiritual thing. The kind of meditating you do with a cigarette. Or with an extra hour in bed before you actually have to get up. Why?? ?I?ve just always wondered how it?s done.? Following was a beeping, a form of beeping that Hayes was dreading all day. Incoming. From the Talisman. From the ship that was on their six with their arrows knocked and ready to loose. From Captain Lebaron. ?Ito, you might want to take off,? Hayes said, staring at the screen with lips ajar and eyes unblinking. ?Start that meditation of yours. And if it works, fit in some prayers. If you know any. If you don?t, make them up.? Ito stood hurriedly, his uniform shirt draped over his arm like a butler?s towel, and he saluted the former captain. ?Best of luck, sir. I?ll be right outside in case we need to take evasive.? ?It?s a Coyote-class starship, Ito; we couldn?t take evasive if our?I was about to say, ?if our lives depended on it.? What you could do is head down to the hangar and be ready to receive fighter pilots. I?ll call for them. Get going, if you want. I know you?re still undecided.? ?I might be undecided as to whether or not I want to rebel, but I?m damn sure that I want people on this ship to stay alive.? Somewhere in Ito?s logic, there was a flaw. But Hayes wasn?t about to play devil?s advocate. He sent Ito on his way and then accepted the call. ?Captain Lebaron,? he said, as the woman came into view. She was rather stern-looking, though not unlovely. Her hair was plain and fine and looked like it wouldn?t do anything interesting even if you put black market glue in it. At the moment, her lips were sucked in between her teeth, so when they reemerged, they were slightly more red than normal. ?Captain McQuarrie,? Lebaron responded. ?I was worried you were avoiding the call. Or busy taking a piss or something.? ?Wouldn?t miss the call for the world,? he said with the best cover-up grin he could, having a rather distracting thought of what he was doing twenty minutes earlier. ?Have you?have you come to a decision?? Lebaron nodded slowly. It was hard to read: on one hand, she had the duty of destroying a fellow ship. On the other, she had the responsibility of refusing the order of some very severely wound admirals. Either way, Captain Lebaron had quite the dilemma. He almost told himself that he couldn?t imagine the talks she must have had with her crew to make the choice, and then he stopped himself, recalling the fiery chats with Narin and the cold looks from Trilo, and all of the secret meetings happening on board. Finally, Lebaron spoke, but it was distorted by a catch in her throat. She cleared it. ?May I?may I call you Hayes?? ?Only if I can call you Owyn.? If peace talks wouldn?t work, hitting on her surely would. ?Very well, Hayes. My decision is?? == --------------------------------- Expecting? Get great news right away with email Auto-Check. Try the Yahoo! Mail Beta.