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The Boy, I

Posted on Jul 28, 2020 @ 2:25am by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: Dog Days Of Summer


(Continued from "The Devil You Know")


Captain's log, supplemental - the boy has arrived.


Location: USS Phoenix, docked at Starbase 56
Stardate: [2.20]0727.1825
Scene: Captain's quarters - deck 2, saucer section

Normally, Michael Turlogh Kane's evenings were spent reading departmental reports, or, if he had free time, some history or anthropology. Some ship captains were micromanagers, demanding regular briefings on operational minutiae, but Kane had been fortunate thus far to have never served on a starship like that. On every starship he had found himself in command of, the senior staff had been professional and self-motivated, meaning that he never had anything more to do beyond reading those reports. He was more of a hands-off manager, only intervening in emergency situations that required a decision by someone in authority, and there was nobody on a starship more in authority than the ship's captain.

Or so he thought. Eve Dalziel had just left his quarters, and the strange boy known only as Billy was standing in front of him, looking up at him with pale blue eyes. Kane had seen Benito Bonviva-Crichton around the Phoenix several times, and had even spoken to him once or twice, and there was no physical difference between the two boys that he could see. Billy had the same eyes, the same mat of white Bolian hair, the same arctic blue skin as Benito. If there was a comparison to be drawn between the two boys, it was in their individual bearings - Billy was clearly uncomfortable, being as he was in strange surroundings, and his body language emphasised his uncertainty - eyes flickering between the floor, the room, and Kane's face; shoulders low; hands balled into little fists; and an general air of tension.

Kane wondered how to handle this. He considered himself an able student of psychology, but not with children. He knew how to intimidate or persuade adults through various psychological techniques, and while he supposed that they would probably work on Billy, he didn't want the boy to end up afraid of him unless it was absolutely necessary. Being nice wasn't much of an option, either - everyone who had had any dealings with Billy had been nothing-but-nice with him, and the boy was still reticent to talk in detail about where he was from, how he had got here, and why he was wandering the Starbase wearing the skin of Jake Crichton's son.

Billy didn't say anything. He was standing there in front of the closed doors, looking lost, confused, and nervous. With each passing second, the silence between them seemed to be stretching out like a rubber band, growing ever more taut.

Kane put his hands behind his back and assumed a military air. "Billy."

Billy's eyes flashed to his, but quickly looked away.

"Counselor Dalziel has put you into my care until your situation is a resolved." Kane immediately regretted speaking so formally. He sighed inwardly, and decided to change tack. "Do you know who I am?"

Billy shrugged.

Kane frowned. "Look at me when I'm speaking to you, please."

That got a reaction. Billy looked right at him, alert now. "You're the captain," he said in a voice that was exactly the same as Benito's.

"Yes. Captain Kane, but if you need to call me for something, you will call call me captain or sir. You're going to be spending a few nights sleeping here. During the day, you will attend school with Mister Tennant and the other children on board. In the evenings, you and I will do things together, like visit the holodeck, the hydroponics bay, or the gymnasium. If you are attentive to your lessons and follow my instructions, I will show you the ship's battle bridge at the weekend. Do you understand?"

Billy nodded. Kane noted that the boy's bearing had changed. Billy was standing straighter, his shoulders more square, and his chest was puffed out like a little balloon. In a bizarre way, he seemed to be mirroring Kane's stance, and Kane wondered for a moment if he was being made a fool of. There was no way that the real Benito would have permitted him to say a full paragraph like that without interrupting with some factoid about tribbles or ice-cream. If this was Benito, then the boy might be so far gone psychologically that his natural personality had been subsumed.

Kane raised an eyebrow. "While you are in my care, I shall address you as Crewman Billy. When I issue you a command, you will reply 'Aye, sir!' as loudly as you can, and follow my instruction. When I ask you a question, you will reply in the affirmative or negative as appropriate." Kane caught himself. "That is to say, you will say yes or no. Do you understand?"

"AYE SIR!" bellowed Billy suddenly.

Kane was silently impressed. "That was a question, not a command. You answer questions with a yes or a no. Do you understand?"

"YES!" screamed Billy.

"Good. There is no need to shout, Crewman, I can hear you just fine." Kane pointed to the futon that he had replicated earlier and placed in the corner. The living area of his quarters was much too spacious for one person, so it wasn't too big a deal to give up some of his space for his guest. The space he had allocated to Billy included a full third of the living area, and consisted of the futon, a chest to store things in, and a table and chair to sit at. "That is where you will be sleeping. It is your space, and I will never move into your space unless you allow me. Do you understand?"

"Yes," said Billy.

Kane pointed through the doorway that led to his bedroom. "That is where I sleep. It is my space, and you are forbidden from going into my space unless I allow it. Do you understand?"

"Yes," said Billy.

Kane pointed to the doorway that led to his bathroom. "That room is where the toilet and shower are." He indicated the replicator. "That is the replicator. You order food by speaking to it." He paused a moment. "Do you have replicators where you come from?"

Billy nodded slowly. "Yes."

"Good. Then you should have no problem ordering something to eat. Go and sit on your bed now, and tell me if you like it or not."

Kane watched Billy move across the room and sit on the bed with narrowed eyes. He bounced up and down on it a few times. "It's very soft."

Kane nodded. "You are used to sleeping on a harder surface?"


"I like soft sleeping surfaces but I prefer firm pillows under my head," said Kane. "Sometimes trial and error helps to figure out what we like. Try it for tonight and if you still don't like it tomorrow, then we will change it."

"Aye, sir."

Kane moved to the couch and sat down on it. Crossing his legs, he sat back and kept his arms away from his body, trying to give a relaxed impression. It was plain that Billy was responding positively to him as an authority figure, that there was no hint of the rebellion or boredom that Benito would be expressing. Billy was clearly used to be issued orders instead of being given choices. Kane was loathe to push the boy towards the edges of his comfort zone, but he realised that there might be an opportunity to learn a little more about the child. "Crewman Billy, I know that many people have asked you many questions today. I have more questions for you, but first, would you like to ask any questions of me?"

Billy thought about it, then shook his head. "No, sir."

"Why not?"

Billy thought about it some more. "Because you have to do as you're told."

Kane frowned. "Who does?"


"I see." Kane indicated the rank pins on his collar. "Everybody on this ship has to do as they're told because I tell them to. Do you mean like that, or do you mean that everybody everywhere has to do what they're told?"

"Everybody everywhere."

From where he was sitting, there was a good fifteen feet between the two of them, and Kane did not want to bridge that distance. It was important that Billy not see him as a threat. He spoke directly, but moderated his tone. "Who gives everybody their orders?"

"The Crown."

Kane frowned. "What is that? Is it a place? A person?"

"A person."

Kane fought the urge to complain to Billy that his answers were too short. At least the boy was answering him, and if he really was not Benito and was from some strange mirror universe, then it might simply be his standard way of speaking. However frustrating it was to speak to him, Kane didn't have much of an option but to plough on. "And the Crown is like me? Someone in authority? Someone who tells people what to do, and then those people tell other people what to do?"


"Crewman Billy," said Kane slowly, "have you ever heard of the United Federation of Planets?"

Billy's brow creased in seemingly genuine confusion. "No."

"I see." Kane drummed his fingers on the arm of the couch. "Now listen carefully, Crewman. Do you have a family? A mother and a father? Brothers and sisters?"

Billy was staring at the floor again. It looked like he almost wouldn't answer, but then, in a voice little more than a whisper, he spoke. "Mother."

Kane leaned forward and activated the control panel on the low table in front of the couch that he was sitting on. The device had been converted to HCARS several days ago, but he found it relatively easy to use the new OS to scroll through a list of people aboard the Phoenix. When he found Benito Crichton's civilian identification record, Kane followed the links to Benito's parents, accessing a likeness of Xana Bonviva and projecting it onto the desk. After a moment, a small-scale hologram of Xana Bonviva appeared, twelve inches tall, standing on the low table, smiling benignly at some off-camera amusement. "Is this your mother?"

Billy looked, and when he saw her, he jumped to his feet. "Yes!"

"You can come over here and look." As Billy hurried to the side of the table, Kane manipulated the hologram so that it was facing him. Kane watched as emotion washed over Billy's face - his eyes were drinking her in, and he seemed to be on the verge of tears.

Billy looked up at him, and suddenly, he was a very small boy all alone in the world. "Is she here?" he asked, a desperate air of hope in his voice.

"No," said Kane, as gently as he could. "She's probably where she was the last time you saw her. If you tell me where that is, I might be able to send a message to her."

"It's a space station, that people call Nowhere," said Billy quickly. "Please hurry, she's very sick!"

The name of the place meant nothing to Kane. "I'll try," he said, "but nothing will happen tonight. Here." He picked up a PADD, downloaded the image of Xana Bonviva into it, and gave it to Billy. "Now you can see her face whenever you need to." Billy took the PADD, and Kane reached out a hand and put it on the boy's shoulder. "I can see that you are a strong, disciplined young man. You are a credit to your mother. In the coming days, you will have to stay strong and remember the things we talked about tonight. Can you do that?"

Billy straight up and held the PADD to his heart. "Yes, Captain."

Kane nodded. "Good. Now, go to bed and sleep."

The boy obeyed without question.


Scene: Corridor - deck 2, saucer section

While Billy slumbered, Kane stepped out into the corridor and activated his communicator. "Kane to Commander Crichton."

[[Crichton here,]] came the immediate reply.

"Report to my quarters, Commander," said Kane. "Billy and I have been talking this evening, and there are some things you should know."


Scene: Captain's quarters - deck 2 , saucer section

Later, in the small hours of the morning, Kane got up from his own bed and looked into where Billy was lying, the PADD on the bedside table next to his the bed. The boy's sleeping face was lit up by the holographic image of Xana Bonviva smiling at him in the dark.


NRPG: Thanks to Sarah for tolerating my many questions about everything to do with Billy!

Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer

"He speaks an infinite deal of nothing!"
- Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1, Scene 1.117



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