SIM:Reider, Luke/Luke at DS72 (Part 2)

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As Luke continues his tour of the station, engineering sparks a memory of part of his haunted past...

::Luke rubbed his eyes wearily as he leaned against the wall of the corridor.::

REIDER:::muttering:: Long day, long day...

::Sighing, he looked around for Yeoman St. Clair. He'd already seen the command center, and now the sickbay, so it was time to stop by engineering. It was only fair. Charlene appeared a few moments later from around a corner. She was holding a bottle of something, which she handed to the Admiral when she had approached::

ST. CLAIR: This is for you Admiral, it's "chocolat chaud", my mother's recipe.

::The bottle was really more of a metallic mug, with a handle on the side and an enlarged base. Reider popped the top of gently and breathed in the fumes. It smelled more than delicious.::

REIDER: If I didn't know better, I'd say you were a Betazoid, Charlene...

::She laughed, surprised as they began walking::

ST. CLAIR: Why's that, Admiral?

REIDER: So far, you've anticipated and solved half of my problems before they even became problems. This is just what I need. Thank you.

::Smiling gently, she clasped her hands behind her back::

ST. CLAIR: You're welcome. Now, where did you have in mind next?

REIDER: I believe Engineering would be the best idea.

ST. CLAIR: Agreed.

((10 minutes and one mug later...))

::The station's engineering looked as old as the outside of the station. They were still using a rather outdated version of the standard small-base fusion core reactor. Nevertheless, the room was spotless, and appeared to at least be well-kept. Charlene introduced the Admiral to a few of the engineering crew; who apparently she knew. Reider wondered if she was routinely the base's ambassador; which would explain how she knew so much about the base and it's inhabitants. One of the crewmembers began explaining a few of the station's display panels.::

TRON: As you can see here, we are running at about 87% efficiency. For a core this old, that's just a little above average...

::Someone approached::

TORMONT: Ahh, Admiral, nice to meet you, I'm Tormont 154, the CEO of this fine station, and I'm afraid that I don't know your name....

::With a nod, the Admiral returned the handshake::

REIDER: Admiral Luke Reider, of StarBase 118.

CHARLENE: I'll let Tormont take it from here Admiral. I'll be waiting nearby...

TORMONT: Now, if you'd rather sit in my office, which I can tell you is a lot more comfortable then standing, follow me.

::The two walked up the few stairs into the CEO's office as Tormont closed the door behind them, then offered the Admiral a seat::

TORMONT: Now admiral, what brings you to our fine station here?

REIDER: Well, I'm actually here for the official promotion of Captain Demma to Fleet Captain. Star Fleet is impressed with what he's done with DS72, and feel it's time he moves up a rank...

((A few minutes later...))

TORMONT: BECKA!! Sorry to interupt our conversation Admiral, if you don't mind I'd like a quick word with my friend here.

::Reider shrugged::

REIDER: Don't worry... I have plenty of time.

::A few moments passed, and the Admiral's mind wanders. Something about the engineering room had bothered him since he walked in... he just couldn't figure out what it was yet.::

TORMONT: Sorry about that admiral, I haven't seen her since before she left with the Defiance.

::Shaking his head::

REIDER: Not a problem... so tell me, where are you from?

TORMONT: Originally I'm from Rynar, the 3rd largest city on Hermat.

REIDER: Really? That's incredible. I'm afraid my hometown is not so interesting. Just a logging town in Maine...

TORMONT: Fascinating.

REIDER: Huh. I'm interested to know, how did you make it here, to DS72? CEO of a station, even as small as this is pretty impressive for an ensign.

TORMONT: Well, I was originally on the Ronin, under Adler, and after she was put in dry dock, while waiting for orders, my friend Brock said that there was an opening here for CEO. Would you care to take a look at some of the systems?

REIDER: Sure! I took a look at some of the systems when we first entered. One of your officers was showing us a display on the power grid. It's pretty amazing that you're still using this power core... what is it, forty, fifty years old?

TORMONT:::S/he leans towards the admiral:: To tell you the truth, I don't know.::S/he chuckles.::

::As both stood, one of the engineering officers signaled to Tormont. The door slid open and the officer can be heard mentioning something about re-calibrating the capacitance power cells. Tormont noded as he and the Admiral moved towards the opposite side of the fusion generator.::

::There was a hum, eminating from somewhere deep inside the station. Reider stopped, looked around, and listened::

TORMONT: Admiral...?

::It's too late. Reider is already far away. The vibration of the hull beneath him seems unnatural, as he watches the ghostly spectre move down the hallway. Behind him, the group stands quietly. Finally, they are released! As Reider scratched his face, the now ragged looking beard, the small Crockett crew trapse down the hallway behind their new captain. Lansing is dead, and the Erntemaschinen have already massacred many of the others. The ship pulses, almost alive, as if blood flowed inside the decks. Reider finds it ironic that the ship the E.R.T.s have created seem more alive than they. Another one of the E.R.T.s passes, giving a haunting look at the band of haggard crew. The Crockett can be seen ahead, her airlock tunnel possibly more inviting than the arms of his wife at the moment.::

REIDER: Come on, we're almost there...

::The group tromps down the hallway, stomping their feet louder as they approach. Let it be known that no one will break the spirit of a StarFleet officer. Least of all, monsters like this. Luke stops at the door to the airlock, stepping to one side.::

REIDER: Go ahead... anyone with bridge experience report there now.

::Their foot falls echoing through the hall, the crew of the USS Crockett pound their way onto their ship. Never did the lights seem so warm, so inviting, as they do now. The halls which have been quiet for weeks, come alive with the breath of these proud men and women.::

::Reider remains outside the airlock. Another group of officers can now be heard following on the trail of the group he just led. As the next bunch rounds the corner, Luke can see his wife at the head of the line. He had known all along that she was alive. But now to see her... he had been wrong. NO site was more inviting than the arms of his wife. She smiles from down the hallway, her feet stomping more loudly than the rest. It almost looks painful. Even if it was, it wouldn't matter... they were going home. She stops next to Luke, ushering these next members of the crew onboard. The Crockett suddenly begins to hum, as a number of flood lights flicker on, illuminating her surface; accentuating her curves. Dinora and Luke embrace, holding eachother so tightly it would seem their arms would break. As her hair falls over his face, Luke breaths her in, feeling in her the beauty he married.::

::From somewhere nearby, a third group's boots can be heard. Dinora and Luke slowly let go of one another, waiting expectantly for the next crew. But first, the E.R.T.s... a mass of them. Dozens, it seem, appear from the left end of the hallway. In each ghostly pair of arms is the body of a dead Crockett crewmember::

::The third group stops, probably in amazement, as they watch the dead moved in. No stomping can be heard, no defiance for this moment. One by one the bodies are dropped at the feet of Dinora and Luke. Both step back, and soon the pile begins to trail down the hallway away from them. The E.R.T.s appear automatons, silently dropping each corpse, then whisping away, as another like the one before it drops the next body. Some of the dead appear serene, their faces almost looking dreamy. Others are mangled, missing limbs, sometimes heads. The worst are the ones whose bodies looked simply desicrated. Eyelids missing, earlobes torn away, fingers bloody from the loss of nails, or faces caved from impact with frightening device of torture. It is a horrid parade of death; laid at the feet of the USS Crockett's highest ranking officer.::

::The last body is that of Kendall Lansing, the once proud woman who was only the third female captain of StarFleet. She appears untouched, and is carried by two of the Erntemaschinen. A group of the aliens appear, and clear the bodies of the first to be dropped near Luke and Dinora. The two carrying Lansing gently place the captain at Luke's feet, her knees slightly elevated, her arms crossed over her chest. Her uniform is pristine, the pips shiny. Her black hair is only slightly tousled. Luke wonders for a moment what he is supposed to do now...::

::From above and around them the voice comes again. The same nightmarish vibrating tone that seems to stop every cell of one's body in it's place.::

ERTNMASCHINEN: Leave if you will; our promise is unbroken. Here are your dead; one for every living in your crew.

::That was all. Needless, it seemed. Reider knew how many there were. Knew exactly the number; 268 dead. 268 living. The pile of bodies a testament to this number.::

::Silence pervaded the hallway. The ever present semi-darkness of the ship dulled everyone's vision, and kept the state of nightmare alive. Luke's eyes finally wandered to the group of officers, waiting at the other end of the hallway. By this time, the entire rest of the crew, 150 members, had assembled, waiting. Finally, Commander Luke Reider found the will to speak::

REIDER: These were our friends. Help me bring them home.

::The stomp of his foot, the first in many minutes, sends a resonating thump through the hull, drowning out the sound of the ship's beating heart, somewhere deep below. As his other foot falls, it leaves the same hollow sound echoing through the hall. In succession, the waiting crew's feet pounded mercilessly at the floor as Dinora and Luke bent down slowly and gathered the now stiff body of Kendall Lansing into their arms. Two by two, the officers lifted the bodies of the dead and carried them into the ship, placing each of them gently into the hallway off of the airlock. Soon, the entire crew, even those assigned to the bridge, now warm with energy, were carrying their crewmates aboard. Emotionless, tired, beaten, Dinora and Luke carried the last officer onto the Crockett. As they placed the slight woman on the floor, who the two of them remembered as a neighbor of their quarters, Luke tapped his com-badge.::

REIDER: Bridge, we're ready.

::He tapped at the console next to the airlock and watched as the tube retracted, the glass shield slipping into place first, and then the metal bulkhead... They could now go home...::

TORMONT: Admiral!

::Reider's head cocked to the side as his eyes cleared, and blinked at Tormont, unsure of where he was. The humming below them had stopped.::

REIDER: I'm sorry...?

TORMONT: You... drifted off for a moment...

REIDER: I'm fine.

::His face blank, Reider followed the Chief Engineering Officer to the nearby fusion core, to see what new improvements had been done on it.:: Reider continues his tour of engineering, and then moves on to other things...

::While the tour of the engineering area was certainly interesting, Luke's area of expertise had never been the jeffries tubes, power conduits, or bulkheads. As he had discussed with Demma, his passion is, and always was medicine. The Admiral thanked Tormont for his time, before heading off to find Charlene; again.::

::The hallway provides a welcome respite from the throbbing of the fusion core, it's pulse rather loud in the engineering room. The images of the Crockett, and the ERT ship flow in and out of Reider's mind. The figures of dismembered crew, eyes standing open...::

ST. CLAIR: Admiral...?

::Opening his eyes, the Admiral slowly looks around. He notices the carpet, slightly faded, and the black wall panel nearby; smudged with fingerprints. Every now and then an officer or two walk by, holding PADDs, conversing, laughing.::

REIDER: Yes, I'm fine. I need some rest.

ST. CLAIR: I'll arrange your schedule for tomorrow. Just have the computer contact me when you are ready, Admiral. Can you find your way back to the Phoenix?

::Nodding, Reider heads down the hallway, alone, for the Phoenix::

((The next day...))

::Luke's vision is blurry as he sits up and pads across the carpeted floor to the replicator.::

REIDER: Warm Leyron root stew, Bav'aeuk juice chilled, warm Tallarian fluff.

::Waiting a moment for the food to materialize, Reider groggily carries the two dishes and a glass to the nearby table. Setting them down, he rubs his eyes for a moment before taking his seat and picking up his utensils. The fluff is first. Spooning it lightly into his mouth, Luke savors the warmness of the light white... fluff. There is no other word to describe it, really. It's taste is mildly sweet, and contains a hint of cinnamon. There is only a small bowl of it, and Luke finishes it quickly. Fluff is well known for it's vitamin compounds. Pushing that bowl out of the way, Luke starts on the next; the stew. The broth is native of the Malkusian system of planets, and is made of the roots of numerous sappy and green bushes. When boiled, the roots lose their stickiness, but retain a syrupy taste. Crushed leaves and flowers are ground into a paste which is then mixed with the stew to make a soup that stands deliciously between delicately mild, and pleasingly thick.::

::When finished with the Bav'aeuk juice, also known for it's vitamin contents, Reider returns the plates to the replicator and then heads off to the bathroom. Within minutes, the sleep washed from his eyes, Luke meets Charlene in the main lounge of DS72, ready for the new day.::

::The first stop of the day is the security office. Reider is treated to a thorough look through of the base's extensive interior security measures, and soon after, is pointed in the direction of the brig; just for a quick look through, of course.::

::Reider sighs upon entering. The brig looks the same on this base as it does in every other Star Fleet establishment around the galaxy. Drab, quiet. Lots of force-fields and ensigns with their feet on tables. Also lots of playing cards.::

::The scene does not lighten up until the Admiral is on his way out the door. Down a nearby corridor, a female can be heard berating a guard. Reider perks up at the first sign of excitement.::

REIDER: What's going on down there?

GUARD: Just some woman we put in the tank last night... she was causing a scene in one of the lounges.

::Tongue in cheek.::

REIDER: Really? What happened?

::The guard shrugs and attempts to lead Luke out the door. Charlene does the same, not ready to broach the subject of disorderly conduct on the station with the Admiral.::

GUARD: Uh... I'm not really sure. She got in some kind of fight with some Klingons or something. She was very intoxicated.

::Reider is more than interested now. This could actually add some fun to his day.::

REIDER: So what exactly happens when you have this sort of problem, Ensign?

::The Admiral steps towards the corridor and gingerly takes a look. One of the guards is quietly mouthing harshly at the woman, pleading with her to "shut-up! we have an Admiral in!" Reider chuckles to himself and decides to test the officer.::

GUARD: Well Admiral, usually we put them in solitary confinement for the night, let them sober up, and such. If you'll head right this way I can bring you back to the security office...

::Reider is not to be deterred. Charlene is all but shoving him out the door when he strides down the hallway towards the drunk tank to get a glimpse of what StarFleet officer was drunk enough to cause a scene.::

::What met Reider's eyes was more or less the most surprising thing he had seen all week. He stopped, abruptly, in the hallway when his eyes met that of the detained woman. If her forehead's bulbous shape hadn't tipped him off immediately, the molten red hair would have.::

REIDER: Great Gorn of the Galaxy!

::Charlene gave the Admiral a wary look, wondering where such a strange exclimation of surprise came from. The prisoner stopped her argument with the silent guard and clenched her teeth, her jaw bulging out just slightly under the skin.::

::The stolid face of Captain Maela Jolon seemed no less beautiful than her profile showed. Every command officer of StarBase 118 knew the woman by face. Her explosive relationship, or rather lack thereof, between her and Wolf was well known, and laughed about on 118. Her command exploits were equally popular. The USS Isannah, now commanded by one Jessa Tallen, had seen it's hayday during Maela's command. That was, until she died.::

::The Admiral turned to Charlene, and then looked accusingly at the guard.::

REIDER: Do you know who this is?

GUARD: ::Shaking his head:: She wouldn't provide us with a name, Admiral.

::Perhaps it had just been luck, or maybe Maela's now hoarse voice had reminded the Admiral of video logs he had seen of her a few weeks earlier. Whatever the case may be, this was certainly an interesting development in the day of the Admiral.::

REIDER: Are you aware...

::Shaking his head, Reider stopped. "Are you aware that you're dead?" didn't seem the proper greeting.::

REIDER: Rather... hello Captain Jolon, my name is Admiral Luke Reider.

::Jolon stared at the admiral, not only did she have a headache from the alcohol, but her muscles cried out in pain claiming abuse and she had had to put up with blabbering security officers. This all to say, she wasn't in a good mood. She sat on the bench leaning into the corner for support.::

REIDER: Um... guard, lower the shield. Captain Jolon... we need to talk.

JOLON: Brightest one of them all! Am I supposed to clap for you?

::It wasn't the nicest thing to say when meeting someone for the first time but Jolon really didn't care. She had been trying not to be noticed but so far she had done nothing but be noticed.::

JOLON: There isn't anything we have to talk about. I'm not one of your officers... anymore.

::She sat glaring at Admiral Reider even though he didn't deserve to be spoken to or looked at that way. Jolon was angry at a great many things and Admiral Reider had just walked in volunteering to take it. The shield dropped and Reider stepped into the cell. He motioned for the assembled officers to leave them alone.::

REIDER: Au contraire, ma soeur. Although you may have died, and come back as it seems, you are still a StarFleet officer.

::Although Reider hadn't expected the animosity, he certainly wasn't surprised by it. Jolon's temper was well known.::

REIDER: Whether you like it not, you still have a duty. You are part of the great brotherhood -- and sisterhood, for that matter, of StarFleet Captains. And while we're on the subject... where have you been?

::Reider shook his head once more, rethinking another question.::

REIDER: No, it doesn't matter. What matters is that I find out if you're THE Jolon. So, unless you have other pressing issues, I would appreciate it very much if you would accompany me to sickbay where I can retreive a sample of your blood, to compare it with your DNA at StarFleet command. Would you be so kind?

JOLON: I've already been to sickbay. They may want to space me if they get the chance to get their hands on me again.

::With a chuckle, Luke mused to himself that hardly disagreed with her assessment. Jolon slid forward on the bench and then pushed herself up and to her feet with some effort.::

JOLON: I could probably use a nutritional supplement anyway. I'll go if we don't have to walk there. Suppose my DNA doesn't match, then what? What are you the Admiral of? I've never heard of an Admiral Luke Reider.

::Motioning to the guard, Reider leads Jolon out of the brig.::

REIDER: I serve on StarBase 118, as a deputy to Fleet Admiral Wolf. I believe you know him...

::Luke glanced at Jolon, who said nothing.::

REIDER: If you are not Maela Jolon of StarFleet, then... so be it. I will assume that you are a strikingly similar woman whom I used my charming powers of persuasion to rescue from sickbay.

::Smiling at her, they board a turbolift.::

REIDER: I'm afraid I still don't know my way around this station, just to the restaurant area, since I've been there so often. I believe I know where we can order a drink, and some food. Maybe they will be able to replicate my special morning-after tea...


::The informal setting put Luke at ease. Although he was no stranger to crowded formal dining and all of the pleasantries that go with it, he preferred gatherings like these. As Demma uncharacteristically (for a Klingon, at least) tapped his water glass, the room quieted.::

DEMMA: Thank you all for coming. I'm sure you all are wondering why I've called so many people together. Well we are here in a celebration of sorts. Well as the night progresses everything will become more and more clear. For now, I'd like...

::Demma pauses, and glances in Reider's direction. It takes a moment, but he then realizes that the captain is looking at Charlene, the yeoman assigned to accompany Reider during his stay on the station. Luke frowns, wondering what the problem is, but Demma continues on.::

DEMMA: Ahh, excuse me, without further adue, I'd like to turn things over to Admiral Reider from StarBase 118. Admiral.

::The crowd of officers applauds as the Luke stands.::

REIDER: Unfortunately this is the first time I have visited this fine station. I had, however, heard many great things about the work that was being done here, before I arrived. And just yesterday, I had the chance to see an antique fusion-engine!::Reider smiles amidst chuckles.:: I want to thank you all for that privilege. It is truly amazing that you've operated up to this point with what you've been given. But if there's one person who deserves a high amount of praise for keeping this station together, it'd be Captain Torrack Demma.

::The Admiral turns towards Demma.::

REIDER: Not only has Demma achieved what no other Klingon has; captaincy in StarFleet, but he's maintained the respect of those officers who serve with him. He has faced the wrath of executive officers::snickers::, and he has faced the deterioration of a station serving long past it's prime. Demma can truly be called a miracle worker. It is today that we honor him, yet again, for these accomplishments.

::Reaching down, the Admiral opens the small black box that had been waiting next to his plate. One full pip sat waiting inside. Taking the pip, Luke stepped across the room and reached up, pinned the pip on, and extended his hand.::

REIDER: Everyone, please congratulate Fleet Captain Torrack Demma.

::Luke first shook Demma's hand, and then returned to his seat.:: With his job finished, Reider returns to his quarters to prepare for his final day on the station.

::With the dinner over Reider leaves the restaurant area and heads back to the Phoenix. His work is, for most accounts, done. Charlene promises to wrap up his final appointments the next day, so that he can return to StarBase 118. Tired, and ready for another night's sleep on the quiet Phoenix, Luke steps across the airlock bridge and trapses through the hallway, into the turbolift, and finally into his quarters.::

::Taking off the jump-suit jacket, the Admiral sits down at his desk, noticing that there are messages waiting.::

COMPUTER: Two messages. Playing back first message.

::The face of an ensign appears on the small screen.::

ENSIGN: Admiral Reider, I wanted to notify you that the woman staying on the station, who you are supervising, has requested that you be responsible for a sub-space message sent to the USS Isannah, at 1902h tonight. I wanted to make sure that you were aware. Station ops, out.

::Luke frowns. It takes him a moment to realize that it was Jolon who sent the message. Carefully, he wonders just exactly what she was doing. Shrugging, he assumes it was simply an effort to contact some of the people she had served with before. The computer continues. The next message is from StarFleet Command, on Earth.::

::The sender is one Admiral Ullric VanThorpe, the wise and stealthy best friend of Luke Reider.::

VANTHORPE: Reider, old man! Where HAVE you been? Took me three calls just to track you down. What the hell are you doing out there on DS72? That Klingon's been nothing but trouble since he became a captain.::The man shakes his head as he smirks:: But anyway, I want to hear from you! It's been...::he checks his chronometer:: at least a week! Talk to you soon.

::The message ends, leaving Luke amused. Ullric was a nut, certifiably. Luke stands, strecthes, and crawls into bed, determined to return the message tomorrow.::

::Sleep comes easily. The engines beneath deck have been put on low-output mode, soothing the regular pulsing that could always be detected.::

::In dream, Luke finds himself standing at the door of someone's quarters. It is dark inside, and the only illumination comes from the replicator pad. A hypospray appears after a moment, and then the room is dark again. Reider frowns, watching amidst the haziness as someone takes the spray. He feels no fear, just watches. A sigh, from somewhere in the dark. He enters further, but sees nothing. His foot touches something, and he looks down to see Maela, sitting cross legged, her hair let loose and wild::

::She holds the hypospray carelessly, then lets it slip out of her hand. Laying a hand on Luke's leg, she gently pulls him down. Music wafts out from somewhere beyond. Maela leans in to kiss him, giggling. Luke smiles, lifts the hypospray, and injects himself with it. Feeling warmth all over, he chuckles back at Maela and pokes her ridged forehead. They both laugh, the darkness wrapping around them as the loud, hard music continues, almost mad at everything going on...::