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Stepping Stones
Posted on February 28th, 2018 by Alexis Wright

Lexy was sure she’d be tired at the end of such a chaotic day among the treacherously beautiful quantum filaments, but her mind hadn’t stopped buzzing with possibilities ever since Kate and Kuari had spoken to her of publication. She hurried through a dinner with Kate in a rather preoccupied state and excused herself, against protestations that they’d planned to watch a movie together that night, to depart for her little-used office. Once she had prepared her workspace just so (according to her custom), she settled down to compose her thoughts.

More months than she cared to count had gone by since she’d started thinking about returning to academia long enough to earn her Ph.D., and somehow there had always been a reason to delay. It never seemed to be the right time, although she knew that the obstacles and roadblocks were almost entirely of her own making and in her own mind. She’d always prioritized other things, largely because the process of pursuing that final credential terrified her. Taking the command test had been one thing; it was something she had never aspired to, and so the prospect of failure had not been alarming to her. But this? This was something she’d been working toward since she was a child, and now that she was so close to the end, it was more difficult to muster the nerve to submit herself to her peers and mentors to be weighed and judged and potentially found wanting. More than that, her heart was set on asking someone whose opinion she deeply valued and respected to be part of this process, and something within her trembled at the thought of disappointing that person.

But in rare moments of fortitude like this, Lexy knew that these fears and anxieties could not, should not dampen her conviction or interfere with her goals. On a day like this, she was confident in her abilities, and she knew with complete certainty that her quick thinking in developing the sensor parameters to detect the quantum filaments had likely saved lives. It was because she stood on this solid bedrock of proof of the prowess of her mind that she was able to pass the next hour, and then another, and yet another in her office that night, her eyes clear and her voice strong, dictating her paper on the detection of these anomalies with the precision and clarity that she prided herself in.

When she finally made her way back home and climbed into bed next to an already-sleeping Kate, she did so with the knowledge that she’d created something she was excited to publish upon their return, another step on the path that she knew she wanted to walk despite her fears. She was asleep moments after her head hit the pillow, the darkness hiding the smile of satisfaction that curved her lips.

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An Indelible Smile
Posted on January 31st, 2018 by Kathryn Harper

by Kathryn Harper, with Alexis Wright

Her command of Atlantis had gotten off to a rocky start, but as she reflected on things while looking out the ready room window before the start of alpha shift, Captain Kathryn Harper found herself to be overjoyed with the recent trend. The Federation was slowly recovering from the Section 31 Crisis, and for the first time in months, the ship’s mission had nothing at all to do with Section 31. Instead, they were tasked with perhaps the most exciting mission of scientific exploration of the century; to directly study the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Even her personal life was unimaginably good; she had just recently become engaged, something that she’d never dreamed would ever happen to her except in girlhood fantasies. Given her tumultuous romantic history, Kate thought that nothing short of a miracle.

Kate regarded the diamond ring on her left hand with a curious smirk, tilting it back and forth to admire the gem’s sparkle. Engagement rings were not tradition on Risa, but she could not deny her attraction to the shiny stone. In all the excitement since Lexy had given it to her at the holiday party, Kate realized that she had yet to call her parents to tell them the good news. She sat down at her desk terminal and placed a request for the communication link to Risa, knowing that soon, Atlantis would be out of range of the standard subspace relay network, so her remaining time to easily call home was limited. While she waited for the link to connect across the incredible distance between Atlantis and Risa, her gaze wandered back to the ring on her finger and the scintillating light it seemed to contain.

The viewscreen finally cut away from the Federation logo after several long minutes of waiting, giving way to the image of her smiling parents, as they always were when they got a call from their only child. “Kathryn!” roared her father, Rolik, his face erupting into delight at the sight of her. He pulled his wife close as he continued in their native language, “It is so good to see you, my girl!”

“Papá, Mamá!” Kate answered, also in the Risan tongue. “How have you been?”

“We are well, Kathryn,” Jhnal replied, smiling warmly at her daughter across the vast expanse, “As we are always well. And you? What adventure is our Starfleet captain daughter on today?”

“The greatest yet; a voyage to the center of the galaxy. But that is not even the reason I called!” Each word faded to a smile, the soft expression seeming indelibly carved on Kate’s face.

Jhnal’s eyes betrayed the faintest moment of excitement, but it was masked so quickly that Kate wasn’t certain it had been there at all. “Oh? You do not look worried, so maybe it is something good, yes?”

Raising her hand to show off the sparkling diamond ring, Kate excitedly announced, “Lexy asked me to marry her!”

Jhnal barked a laugh, bringing her hands together in a triumphant clap. “I knew that strange little human would do it sooner or later! And that ring you wear means that you accepted, yes? Your father had begun to worry,” she added, grinning and nudging her husband in the ribs as he grinned sheepishly. “Ha! We are so happy for you, daughter!”

Rolik wrapped his other arm around Jhnal and pulled her into a bearhug, since Kate was out of reach, and his daughter remained respectfully quiet while her father was overwhelmed with emotion. When he finally let his wife breathe again, Rolik wiped a tear from the corner of his eye. “Yes, Kathryn, that you have finally found such happiness in her brings us pure joy.”

“Thank you both. I still can hardly believe it,” Kate gushed, the smile still her resting expression.

“And your Lexy, we worried at first that maybe she was too shy, but when she came to us… she loves you, Kathryn. This is wonderful! Now we will have two daughters!” Jhnal’s excitement was nearly palpable, even through the screen.

“She does love me, yes. Me, of all people! I mean, you two are obviously biased in my favor,” Kate gestured at the viewscreen, “but I had given up on finding actual love years ago. But here… well, here she is.” Kate finished the thought quietly, now having to wipe a tear from the corner of her own eye though her smile remained intact. “I never imagined being as lucky as you two are, in that regard.”

Rolik leaned toward the camera, and although he spoke softly, he still maintained an air of gregariousness. “Kathryn… you were never like the other girls. Always with the playing of the sports, and the studying, and the music… but look what you have done with your life as a result. The first woman of our people to command a Federation starship, who negotiated a historic peace treaty with the Romulans—you have made all of Risa proud, not just us. To do all of that takes someone truly special, since such ability and insight is quite rare, indeed. But when you are so different, it is harder to find the right person to settle down with, though the one you eventually find is likely to be as special as you are. We always knew that you would succeed at this, just like most anything else you have tried.”

“Yes,” Jhnal added, nodding, “You and your Lexy are both special people. It is lucky that you found one another, just as Rolik was to find me, yes?” She favored him with a mischievous smirk before turning back to the screen. “But finding your match is only the first challenge. Marriage is hard, sometimes, and it takes work… so do not think that the hard part is over. The building of the life together is not easy, but if you are both willing to sacrifice for love, then it will be worth the trouble.” Her hand found Rolik’s, and gave it an affectionate squeeze.

“I will remember that. Already, I have learned a few difficult lessons about successfully living with a lover.” Kate snickered, remembering her previous, wholly disastrous attempts at cohabitation. “Another first!”

“We are so glad to see you finally with love in your life. You look so happy, Kathryn! We are proud of all of your accomplishments, but it is your happiness that has always been most important.” The love that filled Jhnal’s smile almost glowed through the viewscreen. “So, tell me,” she continued, looking innocent, “where and when will be the wedding?”

With a hint of red suddenly coloring her cheeks, Kate slowly shrank into her chair as her face slid down into her palm. An exasperated laugh found its way through her unfaltering smile as she lightly reproached, “Mamá!” The joyful sound of her parents’ mirth from the other end of the connection only made her heart feel even warmer.

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Logs of the Month for Nov/Dec 2017
Posted on January 2nd, 2018 by Kathryn Harper

Congratulations to T’Lira for winning November with “Curiousity Didn’t Actually Kill the Cat, Did It?” and to Alexis Wright for winning December with “Use Your Illusions II”! Check them out in the Featured Logs section!

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Use Your Illusions II
Posted on December 28th, 2017 by Alexis Wright

by Alexis Wright, with Kathryn Harper

The sand beneath Alexis’s blanket still radiated some of the day’s warmth, despite the fact that the suns had long since dipped beneath the horizon. The constant sound of waves crashing against the shore provided the sole accompaniment to her inspection of the foreign constellations that stretched across the Risian night sky. Long, peaceful moments passed before the jarring sound of Kate pointedly clearing her throat prompted Lexy guiltily back to the question she’d been blatantly avoiding. Sighing, she turned her head to the right toward Kate lying next to her on the moonlit beach. “To be honest, taking the test isn’t really something I’d planned to do, but T’Kirr talked me into it. She sponsored me, in fact.”

“Oh?” Kate’s brows rose with interest. “The Commodore would not have suggested that you take the test unless she thought you capable, of course.”

Lexy sighed again, turning back to point her eyes skyward. “She said that it would be good for my career, but that’s not terribly important to me. She didn’t really get my attention until she suggested that I should do it to better support you. I promised them that I would, you know. So, when she brought it up… there wasn’t much choice in the matter. I didn’t mind, though,” she quickly added, “If it helps me support you, then I’ll do it. It was like that.”

They laid there wordlessly until it became clear that Lexy would add nothing further, and Kate ventured another question. “The test is different for everyone… what was it like for you? Or would you rather not say?”

Knowing that this would inevitably come up did not serve to make Lexy feel any more prepared to talk about it, but she knew that she needed to get it off of her chest. “It…” she said, then paused, unsure where to begin. “I didn’t know much about the test going in, only that it would test my leadership abilities. I didn’t really think I had any of those, though, so I was fully prepared to fail a test for the first time in my life.” Lexy rose to a sitting position, gazing out toward the surf; she grabbed a fistful of sand and watched it run out through the hole created by the imperfect seal of her pinky finger. The strong breeze blew the sand onto her clothes, and she clenched her fist to stop the flow. Without looking up, she said, “Computer, reduce wind intensity by eighty percent.”

Once the breeze died away, she allowed the flow to resume and the sand to stream down to form a small pile before her, just beyond the edge of her blanket, idly adding more handfuls to it as she spoke. “The ship I was commanding was carrying a diplomatic delegation, which included my brother Bryan, to some relatively routine…” She stopped abruptly, again clenching her fist to halt the flow of sand, her gaze focused on something that wasn’t there. The flow of both words and sand resumed a moment later with a shake of her head. “No. The details aren’t important. What matters is that I was presented with a seemingly simple decision between two options, one of which was clearly supported by all of the information available to me. But even though I made what was objectively the ‘right’ choice, things began to go wrong. I was presented with an opportunity to choose again, and I reviewed my options with the new information in mind, but came to the same conclusion. And again, the situation grew worse. When the opportunity to change my mind came up a third time, I realized that this must be their test… in other words, would I trust some fabled gut instinct instead of the data in order to get out of a bad situation?”

The neat pile of sand in front of Lexy grew as she continued her rhythmic pattern of taking a handful and then carefully allowing it to stream down from her balled fist. The mechanical motion, combined with the irregular cadence of the pounding surf, provided a somewhat hypnotic accompaniment to the words that seemed calm on the surface, but poured from her lips with an undercurrent of tension. “I decided, in that moment, that I was going to fail their fucking test.” The expletive was rare from her mouth, and she spat it percussively. “That I would show them that it was more important to me to stick to my principles… to follow the conclusions that I draw from the data rather than trusting my so-called gut when making that kind of decision.” Lexy’s body slowly began to betray her growing agitation; the quaver in her voice and tremble in her hands were subtle, but present. “They offered me the choice repeatedly, Kate, thrusting me into a position where I was forced to decide between being objectively right and being potentially more safe. It was easy at first, when the consequences were merely inconvenient, but it was hard when I knew making that decision again would mean that someone would get hurt. That someone important to me would probably die. That continuing along the path upon which the data had led me would mean that my choice would lead to the destruction of the ship, the death of every single person aboard, my own death, a diplomatic incident that could easily lead the Federation into war. When the choices became agonizing, I put as much time into analyzing and reviewing the data as I dared, frantically searching for an objective reason to change my decision. But there was never any reason, Kate. The choice was always clear.”

The last of a handful of sand trickled out of her fist and she opened her hand, blankly regarding her palm before angrily plunging it into the tidy mound she had created, scattering it haphazardly in every direction, erasing its existence in a matter of seconds. This unusual emotional act of destruction and disorder left her feeling cold and hollow, and she hugged her knees to her chest, resting her chin between between them as she stared off at the distant horizon, trying to ignore her awareness of Kate’s concerned eyes silently watching her. When she continued, her voice was quiet. “I wish I could say that I made what I knew to be the right choice with defiance and certainty, every time, to the bitter end… but that’s not what happened. Once the consequences got serious, the struggle was less between me and the test and more between me and my own self-doubt. It shook me, deeply, to see a choice I’d made get people killed. Get Bryan killed. I asked others aboard the ship for input, practically begging for someone to give me a reason to revise my choice, but they all deferred to me… as they were programmed to do. It’s not until then that it really sunk in for me what it would mean to be in command, to have that kind of power in my hands alone, and I was so incredibly glad that I would fail this test, that I would never be asked to make such a decision. Frankly, I actually wasn’t certain that I could even continue to make it during the test, despite my knowledge that it wasn’t even real. When I realized that my next decision would finally result in the destruction of the ship, I was actually relieved. As soon as my death was imminent, the tortured screech of twisting metal drowning out the panicked cries of my friends and colleagues barely visible through the choking smoke filling the bridge vanished, and I suddenly found myself alone in an empty holodeck with an empty voice telling me that the test simulation was complete and advising me to take a moment to collect myself before emerging. I stayed in that empty room for what felt a long time, Kate, huddled much like I am now and trying to put myself back together again. It even occurred to me that this might be part of the test as well, seeing how quickly I could recover, but I didn’t care… I was pretty sure I’d already failed. I wanted to fail.

“Ultimately, I decided that I should recapture some of the defiance that I’d had initially; it had been very difficult, but I’d shown them how committed I was to trusting data above all else. I wanted to gloat in their faces, when they saw me defiant in the face of failure because my principles were more important to me than whatever they wanted to turn me into.” The bitterness in Lexy’s voice was almost palpable, and she paused to compose herself before proceeding. “So, that’s the state of mind I was in when I went out there to receive my glorious failing grade.” She laughed, a harsh and humorless sound. “But my fragile smile of triumph died the moment I saw them, Kate. I don’t even remember everything they said to me, their congratulations and words of praise for my success. Success!” She laughed again, surreptitiously raising a hand to swipe away tears. “They called that a success. I was wrong, Kate. The test wasn’t what I thought it was at all. No, they were impressed that I never second-guessed myself, and said that I’d demonstrated that I have what it takes to be in command. My stomach dropped; I felt sick. Getting myself and everyone else killed because I was too damn stubborn to abandon my own stupid principles is what passes for success?” Swallowing hard past the lump in her throat, she fought to keep it together long enough to finish her thoughts. “I was so shocked that I couldn’t say a word. I couldn’t even tell them that I didn’t want to pass their stupid test. I just stood there limply while my hand was shaken and tried to nod in the right places until they sent me on my way, a newly-minted command officer.” Her vision blurred and she dropped her head, giving in to something that wasn’t exactly sadness, but rather the sheer overwhelming emotion that she was not equipped to hold at bay any longer.

Kate watched as Lexy buried her face in her arms and quietly shook, the soft sounds drowned out by the wind and the waves. Kate tried to speak, but was stopped short by a firm gesture. With hesitant uncertainty, she finally offered Lexy a brief but comforting touch before retreating to remain quietly present nearby in accordance with the troubled woman’s apparent wishes. Time passed in silence, apart from the wind and the waves, and the stars slid some distance across the great dome of the sky before Lexy lifted her head again to speak again.

“I haven’t been able to talk to you about any of this,” she began, her tone matter-of-fact, “because essentially what I’m saying is that I think anyone who wants to have command-level responsibility has something wrong with them, not to mention that I think the concept of a ‘gut’ that one should trust is silly. I would be insulted, if I were you. But I also know that neither of these things make me think less of you, and I don’t know if you can understand. I never wanted this responsibility, Kate. I think there would have to be something wrong with me to want it, and the concept of me trusting my gut is silly. But you’re not me, and these things work for you, and that’s okay. Do you see? It’s just that we’re different. I love Kate Harper, even the parts of her that make no sense to me. And I don’t want this responsibility, but I’ll accept it to support the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with, even if I’m going to have to do a lot of thinking to figure out whether I’m even worthy of it in the first place. I passed the test, and what’s done is done. So… we’ll just move forward from here.”

Kate spoke softly from her position reclined on her beach blanket, her eyes pointed toward the stars. “You said you did not know much about the test; would it comfort you to know that it is designed to put you in one of the worst situations you could possibly face in command?”

Her brow furrowing slightly in surprise, Lexy looked back at Kate over her shoulder. “Really?”

“Really,” Kate confirmed, tipping her chin down to meet Lexy’s eyes, dark and unreadable in the dim moonlight. “If you think about it, it makes sense. They test you at your worst, with the understanding that if you succeed, most of the other decisions you must make while in command will be comparatively simple.”

After a moment’s thought, Lexy sighed and released her legs, shifting to recline similarly on her own blanket. “That makes sense, logically. I say that I would have to be crazy to want the responsibility, and I still think that’s true, but I know logically that the responsibility isn’t always such a heavy burden.” She glanced over at Kate, wondering briefly about the differences between them and admiring the strength that she knew she didn’t possess, before returning her gaze to the heavens. “Don’t worry. I’m not saying that I hate it or won’t do it. I’m just saying that I have some thinking to do about it.”

Rolling to her left and propping herself up on an elbow to face Lexy, Kate smiled. “Of course. Thinking is what you scientists do, is it not? Take your time. But I think you should be proud of yourself.”

Again, Lexy couldn’t help but turn to look at her with a slightly furrowed brow. “What, because I passed the test?” The incredulity in her tone was unmistakable.

“No,” Kate laughed, shaking her head. “I mean you should still be proud of yourself for sticking to your principles. They are an important part of what Starfleet stands for. Your approach may be somewhat different than mine, but the principles are the same. You have seen me make decisions based on my principles, have you not?”

Lexy studied her, considering her words. This conversation had certainly gone in a direction she hadn’t anticipated, but she wasn’t particularly surprised, as similar conversations had done the same in the past — it was, in fact, a large part of why she sought them out. Turning her thoughts to the events of the past months and years, she found herself drawn to Kate’s perspective in the decisions to not fire upon the Romulan refugees, to disobey orders and steal the ship, and a variety of other decisions Kate had made as a matter of principle and that Lexy had heartily agreed with, both at the time and through the lens of hindsight. In her mind, she held these emerging realizations up against the negative experience she’d had with the test, but found it beyond her ability to reconcile at that moment. “You… make a compelling point, but again, I’ll need to think about it.” She turned her eyes back to the sky and stifled a yawn; the movement of the heavens meant that this simulation had been running for some time, and it was getting quite late. “I’m too tired to think about it much more right now, I’m afraid.”

Stretching, Kate made understanding noises and rubbed her eyes, then gave Lexy a look that was discernibly affectionate, despite the dim light. “You say that coming here helps you to relax. Hopefully that has been accomplished?”

Lexy had already noted the fading of the stars, as the sky was just beginning to lighten with the streaks of the approaching dawn. “Yes,” she said, nodding, “I do love this simulation. It always helps me think, as well… but it’s not the same as the real thing. I think I’m ready to go now,” she added with a glance toward Kate, who seemed to be pleased enough by the positive change in Lexy’s state of mind to respond with a smile and a nod of apparent agreement. With one last look around the comforting setting, she took a deep breath and said, “Computer, end program.”

Taking a moment to collect herself, Lexy blinked to readjust her eyes to the blank walls before finally rising to her feet. “Thanks for the talk,” she said with a faint smile, and then walked out of the empty holodeck. Alone.

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Log of the Month of October 2017
Posted on November 17th, 2017 by Kathryn Harper

Congratulations to Csirr Velekh for winning October’s Log of the Month with “Holding On”! It’s an evocative description of an emotional scene, so check it out in the Featured Logs section!

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Curiousity Didn’t Actually Kill the Cat, Did It?
Posted on November 8th, 2017 by T'Lira

Something was… off.

The PADDs strewn across the coffee table included various languages, at least one culture, and a couple of fun books. One by one, they’d all been tossed aside as their owner grew bored.

Now, Taril peered at another PADD, this one containing his history assignments from class. He was supposed to be writing about the founding of the Federation but that had been so over done at this point. There were almost literally a thousand books and essays on the subject, why couldn’t teachers give interesting assignments?

It didn’t help that he had this feeling that something was wierd. He’d had that feeling for a bit now, since just after he’d finished his math assignment.

He was trying to come up with something new to write for this stupid assignment when the computer terminal beeped. Eager for a distraction, he jumped off the couch and hurried over. Maybe it was a message from Aunt Elena or someone, or an update to one of the journals Mom subscibed to.

Instead, it was an automated shipwide message.

“Quarantine?” he wondered aloud, “That’s when we can’t leave the ship and gotta stay put… but why?”

His innate curiousity wasn’t going to let this go any time soon, so he dashed over to grab his PADD and checked his messages.

Sure enough, there was a message from Mom, telling him to stay in their quarters and basically wait this out. But that didn’t tell him why… maybe the computer knew something… if he knew how to ask…

Hurrying back to the computer, he tried to access the system, but couldn’t. It wouldn’t go through.

“Wierd…,” he muttered, trying again, even putting in Mom’s code. She’d be really unhappy if she knew he knew it, but he got curious and watched her put it into the computer sometimes. Besides, what harm could it do?

Even that didn’t work, which was probably really, really bad.


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SCI2 Ensign Linxi Jude
Posted on October 23rd, 2017 by Linxi Jude

“Hey Linxi!” The Betazoid turned towards the voice, belonging to a familiar. “Did you think I was gonna let you leave without as much as a goodbye?” The short, lean human placed his hands on his waist, tilting his head, expecting a response.

Linxi rolled her eyes. “No, but I was kinda hoping,” she joked. “I thought you were,” she mimicked a low ‘manly’ voice, “too busy working at the Academy sickbay to bid you farewell.”

“I was. But I convinced the Doc to let me come here. Come on, Linx. We have known each other for four years. Did you really think I would not find a way out here?”

“Oh hush, Theodore,” she replied, as a voice shouted over the crowd, “Linxi Jude for the U.S.S. Atlantis!”

“Looks like it’s time for you to get on up there.”

“Yeah,” she uttered, in an unusual straightforward manner.

“You’re not nervous are you?” Theodore raised an eyebrow, and moved towards Linxi, giving her a hug, “You will be fine.” He pulled away, “At least I have four more years to enjoy the precious ground.”

Linxi snorted at his joke, as the voice called for her a second time. “Well, this is it. Farewell, Theodore Sinatra.”

“Farewell, Linxi Jude.” He appeared almost somber, as Linxi turned and walked towards the shuttles.

The brunette took a deep breath, and entered the shuttle for the Atlantis. She turned back around, seeing her friend wave, as the doors closed. Her first assignment- fresh faces to meet and new adventures to experience.

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Log 3: Holding On
Posted on October 3rd, 2017 by Csirr Velekh

Csirr sat on the wooden steps as he stared out across the golden fields. Orange and red wisps of light tangled in his dark fur and shone in his eyes, blinding him slightly. The young man did not care enough to move, however, and remained where he was, arms locked around stilted knees and holding them close to his chest.


The voice from over his shoulder spooked him and, though he did not jump out of surprise, the tension was obvious in the lines of his shoulders. This time he heard the hinges of the old door grinding and the heavy footsteps in his direction. There was a pause as the feet next to him hesitated.

“May I?”

Csirr made a small noise of assent, moments later a large mass joined him, leaning forward with their forearms resting on their knees. The two figures sat in silence for a good few minutes, the Caitian staring into the fields and the other studying their counterpart. A deep breath signalled the voice’s return.

“It wasn’t your-”

Clenched teeth.



A hint of a growl.

“I don’t want to hear it.”

“There was nothi-”

“Would you just stop?!”

The Caitian threw himself to his feet and spun around, damp eyes attempting to glare holes the man sitting down, his teeth bared and his arms now wrapped tightly around his middle. His claws dug into his sides, slightly tearing the skin. Not that Csirr noticed.

“You know it was! If I had just acted a little faster, then-”

“Then the woman would’ve still died,” the man rumbled back, standing with his arms crossed and towering over the bipedal feline by almost a head. “Csirr, there was nothing you could have done.”

“You don’t know that!” Csirr cried, becoming slightly hysterical. “I was supposed to save her! That’s what I’m supposed to do!”

The man lurched forward, wrapping his arms around the sobbing Caitian and clutching him to his chest. The young man struggled but soon relented, shaking in his new haven and clutching at a well-worn shirt littered with holes.

It took a few good minutes for the Caitian to calm down and a further minute or so before he stopped crying. The man holding him drew back, strong but gentle hands framing Csirr’s face. Thumbs dried the damp fur on his cheeks and warm brown eyes stared into his own green and blue.

“Ze… You need to understand, you did all you could to save her,” he gentle rumbled. Csirr tried to turn away, but the man refused to let him. “You’re the reason she lived as long as she did.”

Csirr’s shoulders slumped in defeat and he averted his eyes. “I just wish I could’ve done more… I should’ve done more…”

The man facing him smiled warmly, small crinkles in the corners of his eyes. “You did more than enough. You gave her a chance to say goodbye when everyone else gave up on her.”

They stared at each other for a few seconds before Csirr sighed and leaned into the hands on his face. “Thanks…”

“No problem, ya overgrown house cat,” the man chuckled. “Someone’s gotta take care of Doctor Furball.”

Csirr huffed and tried to bat him away, but the man knocked it away and slid an arm around the feline’s slim waist. Csirr let out a small squeak as he was pulled closer, paws still clutching the front of the tattered shirt. Wide eyes stared up at smiling brown, the setting sun making them dance like fire.

Csirr didn’t know who leaned in first, but he soon gave up caring. A full minute passed before they even considered parting. When they did, Csirr buried his head in the tall man’s shoulder. A gentle vibration rolled in his chest as his tail mimicked the man’s arm, curling slightly up the back of his shirt.

“My sweet Ze…”

Csirr shifted slightly, nosing the man’s neck and relaxing at his scent, ears flicking contentedly.

“You’re a sap, Asiht.”

The Haliian chuckled.

“I know.”


Csirr sat on his bed, staring at the holo picture of Jehla, Asiht and himself, taken a week before he left Earth. He absently itched at the healing injury on his forehead and smiled wistfully at the figures flickering before him. He remembered clearly the first kiss he and Asiht had shared, saddened greatly as he remembered when they had the call it off after Csirr got posted on the Atlantis.

Neither believed they could sustain a good relationship so far apart. Asiht would never know whether or not Csirr would be in constant danger and Csirr couldn’t make Asiht wait for him. They cared too much about each other for that. They had remained closer than ever and knew they could always rely on each other.

It didn’t stop it aching though. Csirr missed him and Jehla greatly and called every other day, swapping stories –Csirr toned down the violence greatly– of their own little slice of the universe.

It was for the best.

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Office Politics
Posted on October 2nd, 2017 by Kathryn Harper

Although the Tzenkethi war had ended over two years ago, its losses were still being felt throughout Starfleet and the Federation. The USS Atlantis had been nearly destroyed in the ultimate battle of that conflict and, due to the difficulty and time involved in manufacturing replacement ships of all sizes, still lacked a full complement of fighters. During her last visit to Starbase Vinland, Captain Kathryn Harper had been awaiting a delivery of seven new Mustang Mark II fighters, but had only received two of them before their unscheduled departure. Now, she sat in an office aboard the starbase, having just concluded an argument with Vinland’s CO and CAG that those five Mark IIs in their inventory were earmarked for Atlantis, and should be transferred aboard her ship.

Of course, it would be trivial to contact Admiral Blackthorne’s office and have the materiel transfer orders re-sent. Given her relatively short time in command and desire for self-sufficiency, Harper preferred to at least put in a solid attempt to resolve this herself before involving the Admiral. Before the meeting, she had asked herself, “After all, how hard could politics really be?” The stonewalling she had received answered that question. According to Vinland’s CO and CAG, those five Mustangs were vital to the starbase’s defense, and since Atlantis had never taken delivery, they would remain in Vinland’s inventory until new transfer orders arrived.

This argument was, of course, absurd. While speaking with him, Harper began to suspect that Lt. Commander Yorris, Vinland’s CAG, had assigned himself one of her Mustangs and did not want to return to a Mark I. Not that she could blame him on that point, having flown the Mark II, but Vinland hardly ever saw combat, and given the firepower that a starbase had, their fighter wings were largely focused on training. The logic of it aside, the materiel transfer orders did not expire, so those fighters weren’t in her inventory when they were supposed to be, and from a military perspective, that was really all that should matter.

Why were they being so obstinate, then? The flagship of Third Fleet comes to pick up new fighters and they just say no? Harper knew for a fact that Vinland’s CO, Captain Brandis, would not have given the same answer to Admiral Blackthorne. Of course, she lacked his rank and influence, but orders were orders, especially such mundane ones as inventory allocation. Harper shook her head, stopping herself from speculating further on the reason behind their bizarre reaction to her request, preferring to not know the answer since it would likely anger her.

Instead, she tried to find a way to beat them. Harper flipped through the documentation around Atlantis’s last visit here on her PADD, finally pausing on the orders stating that they were not allowed to leave. These were the orders she had ultimately broken to rescue Admiral Blackthorne and Commodore T’Kirr from their Section 31-imposed exile, and how they had been able to escape Vinland stuck in her mind. A wry smile spread across her face as the door opened, heralding Captain Brandis’s return.

“I’m sorry, Captain,” he began, not sounding sorry at all. “We just can’t spare those five Mark IIs.”

“As a matter of procedure, Captain, you and I both know that materiel transfer orders do not expire,” Harper answered as she stood to face him. “Now, I could have the Admiral send the orders again, which I am sure he will find to be a tremendous waste of his time. I could have already done so, even. Or… I could have fabricated new orders.” She paused, letting her reference to the forgery they had committed in their escape sink in before inclining her chin to deliver the dagger. “It is not as if your staff can tell the difference.”

Brandis had taken the heat for allowing the theft of Atlantis, and even though his superiors at the time had been Section 31, the entire situation had been a tremendous embarrassment for Vinland. He let out a sigh, not having expected that she would threaten to involve the Admiralty, or that she would bring up having fooled his operations staff. “Alright, fine, you can have the fighters,” he conceded. “If you never bring that up again.”

“Deal,” Harper quickly affirmed.

Offering a conciliatory handshake, Brandis admitted, “It was an incredibly good forgery, you know.”

Harper tucked her PADD against her chest with her left arm and accepted the handshake. “I know it,” she answered with pride.

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Posted on September 15th, 2017 by Kathryn Harper

by Kuari and Kathryn Harper

“You did the best you could, and you’re not at fault for those deaths. Smith is to blame, and no one else. Don’t forget that, Kate.”

Admiral Blackthorne’s parting words still echoed with Captain Harper as she finished her report on the loss of the Neptune with all but thirty-nine hands. What had he meant? You did the best you could? Did he think that he could have done better? Would Admiral Blackthorne and Commodore T’Kirr have saved more of that crew, or even all of them, had they been in command? She’d never known him to mince words, but given the situation, Harper found it difficult to doubt that the outcome would not have been better with a more experienced commanding officer in Atlantis’s center seat.

The door chimed. “Come,” Harper answered automatically, but not as energetically as usual. Still, the ready room door slid open, and Kuari entered. She was on all fours, and her head was held low on her long neck in front of her. Her large eyes met Harper’s briefly before darting aimlessly about the room, and she trotted all the way to the desk with more energy than she should have felt before the tip of her tail cleared the doorway.

Dropping her hindquarters, Kuari sat on the floor and intermittently glanced up at Harper. “Hi. How are you doing?”

Kate took a moment to regard her executive officer and friend before deciding that the command demeanor would serve no purpose now, and answered truthfully, “I have been better, Kuari. The Admiral assured me that we did the best we could, but it is hard to stop wondering whether or not he and Commodore T’Kirr could have saved more lives.”

Kuari nodded and looked down at the floor. She had wondered how Kate’s call with Admiral Blackthorne had gone. He and T’Kirr were role models to her now, especially T’Kirr as she attempted to emulate the Vulcan’s ways as Executive Officer, and she imagined Blackthorne was the same for Kate. “They might have been able to,” Kuari admitted. After a moment of thought, she continued, “Unless they would have made the same decisions we did. It’s hard to know.” She looked up at Kate. “All we can do is our best.”

“Of course,” Kate began as she stood and made her way around to the front of the desk to lean against it. “But after what we did… the sheer improbability of what we accomplished, I mean, with foiling Section 31. After that, it just felt like we could do anything.” She slid up a bit to sit on the desk’s edge and finished, “That feeling was improper and dangerous, but this… this may have been our Kobayashi Maru.”

Kuari thought on that for a moment and decided she agreed. A modest grin stretched back on her face. “What do you think? Would thirty-nine be a good score? For a test meant to fail, that is.”

Captain Harper had never taken the infamous test of character while at the Academy, since it was not administered to cadets in the science track, but that it was a no-win scenario was common knowledge. In her countless mental replays of the situation, Harper had certainly not been able to figure out a way to win. “It is going to have to be,” she answered, envying her XO’s seemingly eternal optimism. Kate scooted back a bit more, bringing her right knee up to hold it in her clasped hands before speaking, to herself as much as to Kuari. “Could our predecessors have done better? Maybe. I do not know. But we… Kuari, we saved thirty-nine people. Smith killed the rest.”

“Green as fur!” Kuari replied somewhat loudly, straightening herself. At Kate’s blank look, she smiled a bit more and elaborated. “It’s a Rucara saying. I think it would make more sense to translate as, “Is fur green?” but we don’t say it that way. It means it’s obviously so and I’m agreeing with you.” The Rucara cocked her head to the side. “Funny thing is, our fur isn’t green, it’s clear. Our skin beneath it is green. The deeper meaning is that it’s about perspective, not necessarily fact. If fact can’t explain it, it’s up to you how you perceive it, and it’s encouraged to do so in whatever way makes you go on in a healthier way.”

Harper thought about this for a moment, idly bouncing the leg that her laced fingers held captive. “That makes a lot of sense, but I would not have understood it had you not explained it to me. I should study your language.”

“It gets more complicated when you realize our skin isn’t always green. We can turn it brown. But don’t think about it too much, which is another good lesson.”

“And I thought English idioms were hard.” With a smile at the wisdom of her Rucara friend, Kate offered, “Thank you, Kuari. I needed that perspective.”

Kuari smiled back, this time showing her pointed teeth, but it was tempered by the seriousness of recent events. She could tell this had hit Kate harder than it had her, and she was happy to make her friend and captain feel better.

“Hey, alpha shift is over, you know.” Kate hopped down from her perch on the desk and offered, “What do you say we go for a swim?”

Kuari stood immediately in response, excited. “That sounds great! We could use a good swim.”

“Yes,” the Captain answered with a deep breath, “we certainly could.”

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