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Posted on Jun 10, 2020 @ 9:28pm by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Jun 10, 2020 @ 9:28pm

Mission: Dog Days Of Summer

= Changeling =

(cont’d from “Broken Connections”)


LOCATION: Starbase 56
SCENE: Security Hub
STARDATE: [2.20] 0610.1309

Jake stood near a large monitor, watching the live-feed from the interrogation room. On the screen, he saw the slight, familiar features of his only son, Ben, seated at the table. Across from him sat Commander Pygan, the Andorian head of security aboard the station. On the table between them were several empty plates, as well as a bowl of half-melted strawberry ice cream. Jake had been there when the food was brought in, watched as the boy had fallen upon it as though he hadn’t eaten in days. The ice cream had given him pause, though - the boy had lifted a spoonful of dripping pink slosh from the bowl and examined it carefully before slowly dipping the end of it into his mouth. Then, his eyes had gone wide, and the ice cream started to disappear as quickly as the food had… at least until the sudden onset of an ice-cream headache forced him to put the spoon down and slide the bowl away from him.

{{That will pass,}} Pygan said, smiling disarmingly at Ben. The boy was rubbing his temples, his eyes screwed tightly shut.

{{Hurts,}} he said.

{{Too much of that stuff too quickly will do that,}} Pygan said. {{I don’t like ice cream very much, myself.}}

{{Can I see my father?}} Ben asked.

Pygan glanced up into the camera, so that from Jake’s perspective it was if they had made momentary eye contact. Then the Andorian looked back at the boy.

{{Soon,}} Pygan said. {{We just need to go over a few things again.}}

Ben frowned. {{More questions?}}

{{I know,}} said Pygan, smiling apologetically now. {{Adults always need all their forms in order, signed in triplicate, with the i’s and t’s dotted and crossed. But I promise it won’t take long.}}

{{Ok,}} Ben said glumly.

{{Let’s start with your name again,}} Pygan said. {{Can you tell me your name?}}

{{Billy,}} Ben said. {{My mom always called me Billy. But I think she’s dead now.}}

This sentence, spoken almost nonchalantly, sank into Jake’s heart like a dagger. He realized he’d been chewing roughly on his thumbnail, and so he forced himself to let his hands drop to his sides, where his fists began to clench and unclench so tightly that it hurt.

{{Billy,}} Pygan repeated. {{Not Benito? Or Ben?}}

{{That’s *not* my name,}} the boy said sharply.

{{Okay,}} Pygan nodded. {{So, Billy. Can you tell me how you got here?}}

{{A woman brought me. She said that if I was quiet and I did what said said, I would see my father.}}

{{What did she look like?}}

{{Skinny,}} Billy said. {{She had yellow hair.}}

{{And where is she now?}}

{{Don’t know,}} Billy shrugged.

{{Where did you come from, Billy?}} Pygan asked. Jake winced at the Andorian’s use of the name “Billy”.

{{Home,}} Billy said. {{Then I think I was on a ship. I don’t know, I slept a lot.}}

{{And where is home?}} Pygan asked.

{{Nowhere,}} Billy said. {{Can I see my father now?}}

Pygan sat back and sighed. He looked up again at the camera, directly into Jake’s eyes. Then he looked back at Billy and smiled. {{Sure. I’ll go and get him. Do you want anything else to eat?}}

Billy shook his head. Pygan stood up, turned, and walked out through the security doors behind him, disappearing from the monitor only to appear a moment later at Jake’s side.

“So?” Jake said, still looking at the boy through the monitor.

“He doesn’t seem to be a threat,” Pygan said. “We’ve scanned him 6 times while he’s been in there - no concealed weapons, no cybernetics, no errant energy signals. Biometrics indicate he is Benito Bonviva-Crichton.”

“That’s *not* my son,” Jake said, turning to look at Pygan.

“On that, you seem to agree,” Pygan said, folding his arms. There was a hint of accusation in the Andorian’s tone that Jake didn’t much care for.

“I’m not imagining this, or making it up,” Jake pressed. “When I looked into his eyes, I didn’t see Ben. I can’t explain it any better than that.”

Pygan sighed again. “I can only go off of the information I have, Commander. Physically, biologically, the boy sitting in that room is your son. I’ve spoken with him, he does seem confused about where he is, even *who* he is, but I see no indication that he’s lying or holding anything back. Meanwhile, security teams aboard both the starbase and your ship have conducted a thorough search for this woman the boy is describing, and we’ve found nothing. No intruders or any sign of intrusion. At this point, this is no longer a security matter.”

“What are you saying?” Jake asked. “That my son has gone crazy?”

“I’m not saying anything of the sort,” Pygan said. “What I am saying is that there’s nothing else we can do. I am not going to hold a 10 year old child in the brig indefinitely based on nothing but a gut feeling. It’s time we brought in the counseling department.”

“But what if I’m right?” Jake said. “If that’s not Ben in there, then where *is* Ben? That boy might know something about what happened!”

“Commander,” Pygan said, fixing Jake with a suspicious look. “I believe that something unusual is going on here, but that is a child in that room behind me. A child that, from everything we can measure, is biologically your son. And he is asking for his father. But frankly, at this moment I’m more concerned about your mental state than his.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means if you’re going to go in there to interrogate him, I can’t let you do that,” Pygan said. “I appreciate it’s not my business to tell you how to raise your own offspring, but the boy is a Federation citizen, and a minor, and he has rights of his own. If I have any reason to think he’s at risk of being abused, I have an obligation to step in.”

Jake sighed and rubbed at his eyes with the heels of his hands. When he looked up, his face had regained some small measure of composure.

“Okay,” Jake nodded. “You’re right. It’s not the kid’s fault.”

“Good,” Pygan said. “We’ll be remanding the boy to your custody, Commander Crichton, and I have notified the counseling team aboard the PHOENIX. Of course, if anything else should develop that we can help you with, please let me know.”

“I will,” Jake said.

“And if you don’t mind, I’ll check in tomorrow,” Pygan said. Once again, Jake caught the hint of accusation in the Andorian’s voice, but he let it pass. Pygan was only doing his job, looking out for Ben’s - or Billy’s - best interests.

“Okay,” Jake said. “That’s fair enough.”

Finally, Pygan’s expression softened. He reached out and placed a hand gently on Jake’s shoulder.

“I understand this is difficult for you,” he said. “I mean it, if there is anything else I can do…”

“I’ll let you know,” Jake said. “I’d like to see him now.”


SCENE: Interrogation Room

Pygan walked in first, with Jake a few steps behind. The boy’s eyes fixed immediately on Jake, and Jake saw an expression there of uncertainty, mixed with a deep longing. Billy was chewing slightly on his lower lip, something that Ben often did when he felt guilty or knew he was in trouble. The similarity was so striking that, for an instant, Jake’s doubts shrank back and he wanted to step forward to embrace his son. But then Jake looked into the boy’s eyes - pale blue, just like his father’s. The eyes themselves were familiar, but the expression, the *soul* behind them, was not.

“Hi, Billy,” Jake said, nodding.

“Hi,” Billy said quietly.

“My name is--”

“Jake Crichton,” Billy said. “But I called you dad.”

“You called me?” Jake asked.

“You died,” Billy said. “But the blonde lady said that if I did what she said, I would get to see you again. So I was quiet and I stayed put like she said to.”

Jake didn’t know what to say. He glanced at Pygan, who gave a single, somber shake of his head, then looked back at Billy.

“My mom is dead too, isn’t she?” Billy asked.

“I… don’t know,” said Jake.

“Can I stay with you, dad?” Billy asked.

Tears began to run down Jake’s cheeks. He brought up his hand to cover his mouth, to keep the sob from exploding out. As he did so, he noticed how badly his hand was shaking. Slowly, he nodded.

“Yeah,” Jake said. “You’re going to come home with me, Billy.”


Shawn Putnam
Jake Crichton, Commander
Executive Officer


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