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The Boy, II / Blood Simmering

Posted on Aug 27, 2020 @ 12:18am by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane & Ensign Lynette Ryan
Edited on on Aug 27, 2020 @ 12:18am

Mission: Dog Days Of Summer


(Continued from "Fallout")


Captain's log, supplemental - as the HCARS upgrade enters its final stages, the ship has been rocked by the recent actions of Commander Crichton. Jake's Starfleet career will be finished by this, but I hope his career as a father will not be...


Location: USS Phoenix, docked at Starbase 56
Stardate: [2.20]0826.1615
Scene: Captain's quarters - deck 2, saucer section

Michael Turlogh Kane didn't know what to say to Billy. The boy had clammed up upon being separated from Jake, and even though Kane had managed to coax him back to his quarters, it was plain to see that Billy was not processing recent events very well. The boy had withdrawn into himself in a way that Kane dimly remembered himself doing when he too was a child - now, Billy was sitting on his bed, staring blankly at the holographic image of Xana Bonviva that was on his nightstand. His blinking had slowed, indicating emotional or cognitive turmoil, and his breaths were coming at a quick pace, punctuated every few seconds by a heaving sigh. There were no tears, though, at least not yet. Perhaps the confusion was still dominant, recent events still being parsed out insofar as Billy was able to make sense of them.

When he was six years old, Michael Turlogh Kane had been taken by his parents on a day trip to Galway. They had made arrangements to stay at a local bed and breakfast, and before lunch had struck out into town. They walked beneath the Spanish Arch, ate a delicious Atlantic chowder for lunch, and stopped for a while to listen to a story-teller on Shop Street. A little while later, the young Kane stopped in front of a store window to look at some toys, and when he looked around again, his parents and little brother were nowhere to be seen. After the initial shock, Kane had taken stock of his situation, recalled their route in his head, and retraced his steps all the way back through crowded streets to the bed and breakfast, where the bean-an-tí, hearing his plight, fed him chocolate and crisps and contacted local law enforcement. In the meantime, his traumatised parents, who had been inside the store for ten seconds and assumed their first-born was following them before turning around to realise that he was not, also returned to the bed-and-breakfast, sure that their eldest son had been kidnapped. Instead, they found him in the scullery, looking quite pleased with himself, feeding his face with treats. Kane never forgot how delighted he was upon seeing them again, nor did he forget the confusion he felt when his traumatised mother beat him to within an inch of his life in front of everyone for getting lost in the first place. When he grew up, he had always been careful in how he spoke to children, thinking that they were likely smarter than they appeared. He always thought that it would have been possible to reason with the most obstreperous child if the right words could be found, but now, at crunch time, he found himself wordless.

He knew Billy would not speak first until he was good and ready. That might take days, and in the meantime, new developments might overtake them. In the meantime, Kane decided to mimic the bean-an-tí of his childhood memory. Going to the replicator, he ordered a cola, half a pound of milk chocolate, and a big bowl of salt-and-vinegar crisps. Putting it all on a plate, he crossed the floor to Billy and laid the snacks on the nightstand. The boy flickered out of his reverie and eyed the food warily.

Kane went down on one knee. "Billy, if you have any questions about what happened, I will try to answer them."

Billy didn't say anything, so Kane left him alone and went to his work desk. There was a mountain of reports to read.


Scene: Deck 10, saucer section - The Vulgar Tribble

Iphigenia Bonviva was never one to pry into anyone else's business. It was just that, as the proprietor of an eatery - the finest in Starfleet, she knew - hospitality meant interaction, and interaction often led to conversation, and that - well, that might lead to all sorts of trouble. People opened up to their bartender in a way that they never would to their counselor, so over the years Iphie had learned to cultivate a quizzical expression coupled with sage nodding even as she thought about a thousand things other than what the customer was talking about.

She had her own problems nowadays, anyway. This whole business with Jake was the talk of the ship, if not the Starbase, and Iphie was trying to juggle managing her business and managing her niece, Dahlia, who was just about ready to give up on her whole family. Right now, Iphie had them both where she could see them - she was standing behind the counter in the Vulgar Tribble, keeping an eye on Dahlia as the girl moved between tables taking orders. A couple of hours as a waitress wouldn't do Dahlia any harm, and might even help take her mind off of her stepfather in the brig.

There was another guest sitting at the counter that Iphie was keeping an eye on. Lynette Ryan, one of the assistant chief engineers, had come storming into the Vulgar Tribble just under an hour ago, demanded a strong drink and didn't-care-what from Calvin.

It only took Calvin, one half of the Vulgar Tribble's Bynar duo, to pour and deliver Lynette's beverage. It was such an inquiry that was missing a few essential details that the Bynar had to quickly research and calculate the most suitable choice that satisfied the patron's needs but was also not harmful or fatal to the them as well.

As soon as the drink was placed down in front of her, Lynette thought for a few moments on what she had done. She had abandoned her post without a single thought. She knew there would be fierce consequences, but frankly she didn't care. It wouldn't take long for someone to discover she was missing. Raising her hand, Lynette ripped the comm-badge from her breast and immediately dropped it into her full glass. A small smirk appeared on the young engineer's face as she watched the bubbles of her drink react with the foreign object before she fished it out again and flicked it across the counter-top. With her comm-badge now disabled it would give anyone looking for her more of a challenge.

Flashing a victorious smile, Lynette picked up her glass and took a quick swig of its contents. Although the drink tasted sickly and bitter, it had the formidable kick that was needed, so she ordered another which she knocked back as disturbingly quick as the first. Now she was onto her third, and Iphie noticed the distinct changes in her body language and thought about cutting her off. Lynette had claimed to the Bynars that her duty shift was finished, but that didn't seem accurate. Iphie supposed that Lynette could have finished up early, perhaps as a result of whatever it was that was troubling her, but the fact remained that it was mid-afternoon and the young woman was already a little drunk.

Iphie drew in a deep breath, sidled over to Lynette, and did what she did best. "Hey Hot Chocolate, what's up?"

Lynette was preoccupied with whatever was on her mind. She looked up, eyes a little bleary, and thought about her answer for a moment. "Do you do that with everyone? Give them a stupid name?"

Iphie raised an eyebrow. "Yup."

Lynette smiled bitterly. "Well then, what do you call that overbearing bastard who runs Engineering?"

Ah, thought Iphie. Work problems. Now we're getting to it. "I don't call him anything," she said. "He hasn't come in here, ever. Like, he's been aboard for nearly three years and hasn't been in here once. And you know Grazerites don't need more than a couple of hours rest in a day, right? So what does he do with his free time?"

"He doesn't take any," spat Lynette. "I'm telling you, Iphie, he's working our asses off down there. This HCARS project, absolute marvel of technology. Going to revolutionise operations all across the fleet and the PHOENIX is the guinea pig for it. It would be an absolute dream to be working on such a project." Lynette ranted with a ferocity and volume to her voice that began to draw the attention of the other patrons in the lounge.

"Except our wise and glorious leader has declared that I am not to be anywhere near it. I should be on that team - I clearly have the computer expertise." Lynette's display of anger and hostility was growing as she slammed her clenched fist onto the counter-top, and Calvin had to perform a quick save of some glasses before they ended up smashing onto the floor.

Iphie glanced over Lynette's shoulder at Dahlia as the engineer continued her alcohol-fuelled rant. She was standing chatting to a Human operations crewman, a young man with a petty officer's stripes on his collar, who looked fresh out of basic training. She watched suspiciously as her niece tossed her hair and smoothed down the front of her apron, laughing much too loudly while the crewman smiled much too smugly. "So they say," she said to Lynette, slipping into her say-one-thing-while-thinking-another routine.

“Hell! I helped save the Federation, Iphie. We probably wouldn't be here if I hadn't helped bring down the Aegis satellites. But Noooooooo... I'm tossed aside for an amateur I watched nearly fry themselves to a crisp an hour ago." Lynette then downed the remainder of her drink in one go till her third glass of, whatever it was, was empty. "I tell you what, he has had it in for me ever since I stepped aboard. I've played along and said 'yes, sir' to orders, even though I knew better ways. I've kept my mouth shut for nigh-on three years, and you know what? I can't take it anymore. He has to be the galaxy's biggest arsehole and I have seen my fair share of them. So you know what I did a while ago?"

Iphie was staring daggers at the young man. He and Dahlia were clearly flirting, but her niece was only fourteen and was flirting like a Pakled lost in the Vulcan Science Academy, smiling a smile that could have been on the face of an oversexed asylum inmate. "Go on, tell me," she said, keeping one ear on Lynette.

"I left," said Lynette. She spoke with finality. "I just upped and left. That's it. Game over."

Hobbes came back to the bar, and carefully pushed a tray of empty glasses onto the counter-top, which was level with the diminutive Bynar's head. Iphie made eye contact with Hobbes, widened her eyelids, and jerked her head in the direction of Dahlia's table. "Like, you didn't tell anyone?" she said, Lynette's words still percolating in her brain.

"The hell I did," grumbled Lynette. "I'm not just having a whinge here, Iphie. I'm about ready to give Starfleet up for good if it means working with that bloody Grazerite for another minute. You know what, if he was here right now I would be certainly be giving him more than just a piece of my mind."

Hobbes looked around to see what Iphie was directing her attention at, but at that moment, Dahlia flicked her hand through her hair like a wannabe supermodel and ambled back towards the bar, an excited smile on her face. Hobbes shrugged - a bizarrely Human gesture that the Bynar had picked up somewhere - and got back to work.

Dahlia was still grinning. She ignored Lynette. "Can I get a bourbon on the rocks for Anthony?"

"Not in the Eight Houses or the Ninety-Nine Hells you can't!" hissed Iphie. "You're underage, both to serve alcohol and to flirt with a grown man like him! You cut that right out, right now, or I'll send you back to my quarters!"

"But we're friends!" hissed back Dahlia. "Don't embarrass me!"

"You only met him!" hissed Iphie.

"His name is Anthony and we have a connection!" hissed Dahlia. "He's a petty officer! That means he's going to be an Admiral one day!"

"What are you two hissing about?" hissed Lynette, leaning over to try to get in on the conversation.

"Why can't everyone just leave me alone?" shrieked Dahlia suddenly, pulling her apron up over her head and throwing it at her aunt in one movement. Before anyone could stop her, she turned on her heel and ran for the door. As they parted, Dahlia nimbly side-stepped Asta Elgin, who was coming in, and disappeared up the corridor.

Iphie sighed.

"I know how you feel," nodded Lynette sagely.

Asta caught sight of Lynette and approached the bar. "Lynette," she said, nodding a quick greeting to Iphie, "you'd better get out of here while you can. The boss noticed you were missing and is on the warpath. He left Engineering specifically to come and get you. If I were you, I'd - " She stopped dead, seeing the empty glass in Lynette's hand. "Wait - have you been drinking?"

Lynette was just about the reply, but she, Asta Elgin, and Iphie Bonviva all froze as the doors to the Vulgar Tribble opened once again. There on the threshold stood, for the first time ever, the Grazerite Chief Engineer of the starship Phoenix. When he caught sight of Lynette Ryan, his thickset bovine features creased into a look of fury, and he strode forward, a bull about to wreck this china shop.

"Uh-oh," breathed Asta.


Scene: Captain's Quarters, as before

For a few moments, Kane got distracted by Malin-Argo's latest HCARS project report. Although the report was addressed to him as captain of the Phoenix, the Grazerite had also carbon copied Admiral Stiles on Starbase 56, and the sight of her name on a Phoenix-specific report gave Kane pause. It wasn't necessarily untoward for Malin-Argo to send a report to several people, but the salutation was for him alone, and given what he knew about his chief engineer's personality, it rankled a bit.

Yet again, Malin-Argo was giving Kane notice that he had powerful allies in Starfleet, including Amanda Stiles. This was a woman who had recently announced to Kane that the Phoenix was going to be refitted and deconstructed in the new year, that she would not be assigning any replacement officers from her command sector to make up the holes in the Phoenix's senior staff roster, and had dangled such a big career advancement carrot under the noses of Eve Dalziel and Kassandra Thytos that the ship was about to lose two of its most valuable veteran officers, one way or another, for pastures new. Malin-Argo had, Kane knew, requested a transfer off the Phoenix, and there was an unspoken acknowledgment by all parties concerned that the HCARS upgrade would be his final project on the dreadnought before being sent onward and upward. There was no doubting the Grazerite's immense dedication and skill at his job, but he was unpopular and arrogant - a trade-off that Kane often ending up debating the worth of.

Malin-Argo's report indicated that the HCARS upgrade was now into its final stages. The delay caused by the rewriting of the main computer's security source code had been overcome, and the HCARS network was now an impregnable fortress, a series of connected nodes spread throughout the ship that could be sealed off from one another to prevent collapse of the system as a whole. HCARS had been installed just about everywhere now - only a couple of residential decks were left to be upgraded - and, as expected, the new operating system was running smoothly and efficiently. There was a certain amount of adjustment needed, though - after all, Kane was reading this report on a PADD that was still using LCARS - but with time, the crew would adjust. Along with all the technical data, Malin-Argo estimated that a shakedown cruise would be a useful test-bed for the system in a live environment, and recommended that Kane contact Admiral Stiles to arrange one. True to form, the Grazerite had made several suggestions for shakedown cruise destinations.

Kane scrolled down through the report, and as he came close to the end, he heard a clinking noise from Billy's side of the room. He glanced over the top of the PADD to see that the boy had finished the cola and chocolate and was putting the plate and glass on his nightstand. Like a man fortified by a stiff whiskey, Billy took a deep breath, lifted his head and met Kane's gaze.

"What's going to happen to my dad?" he asked.

Part of Kane wished that Billy would stop referring to Jake like that. If Billy had a father, then that man was living in whatever parallel universe that Billy had originated from; that place's version of Jake Crichton. Explaining all that to Billy was going to be difficult, to say the least, but Kane could understand why Billy was fixated on Jake.

The question was a hard one. It didn't feel right to sugar-coat the answer. Kane put the PADD down and leaned forward in his seat. "What Commander Crichton did was completely out of character for him, but it was still very wrong. He has been relieved of duty, and will have to appear before a court-martial to answer for what happened."

Billy nodded. "A court. What will the judge say?"

Kane shook his head. "I will write to the judge and ask him or her to be lenient, but at the minimum, Commander Crichton will be discharged from Starfleet. His career on the Phoenix will be over, and he will have to find a new path through life. I don't know what that would be." He paused. "Do you understand?"

Billy thought about it. "I think I do, at least a little bit. What did my dad do that was so wrong? He was trying to send us home."

Kane frowned. "I'll answer you in a moment, but what do you mean by that, Billy? What do you think that Commander Crichton was doing when he came in here and got you?"

"Taking us home, I said. Like, he was setting up the transporter to send us home when you came in and arrested him. I want to go home, back to the space station. If I want to go home, and my dad was taking us home, how is that wrong?"

Kane knew this conversation was going down a dark hole. The boy was going to be gutted if he was told what Jake's real motives were, and he might not easily accept it. If Billy's train of thought rebelled and went off the rails, then anything Kane said was going heap more trauma upon an already confused mind. For a man used to making decisions under pressure, Kane was finding it immeasurably difficult to come down on one side or the other. "Billy, I - "

"You said you'd answer me, Captain Kane!" said Billy, an undercurrent of childish desperation in his voice.

Kane held up his hand. "Alight, I will, but I think you'll find it hard to believe me." He stood up and came across the room, moving one of the armchairs so he could sit near Billy's bed. Careful not to get too close to the boy's personal space, Kane leaned forward and kept his hands away from his body, presenting as open a stance as possible. "Commander Crichton was not trying to send you both home. He was trying to send you home."

Billy frowned. "I know."

Kane shook his head. "No, Billy. He was only trying to send you home. Nothing else."

The penny dropped in Billy's head, and confusion clouded his pale blue eyes. "He wasn't going to come with me like he said?"


"But he said he was going to!"

"Did he?" Kane indicated the PADDs on his desk on the other side of the room. "The ship's Security department is still collecting all the information, but Commander Crichton wanted you to think that you both were going home. In reality, he only planned to use the transporter to send you home."

There were breakers rearing and crashing in Billy's eyes, his emotions tidal. "But why?" Why did he lie to me?"

"Commander Crichton is not your father, that's why." Kane rubbed his forehead. "You might have trouble understanding this part." Thinking for a moment on how to explain, he held up his hands. "Imagine that there are other worlds out there, where other little boys named Billy live. They look like you, but they don't have the same life as you, and they are all a little bit different than you. For example, imagine a world where different version of you was born. This other Billy has parents that look like your own, but there might be a little difference. Like, maybe this other Billy got born and his eyes didn't work and he was blind, or he loved school so much that he became smarter than all the other kids. Can you imagine this other Billy - all these other Billys in all these other worlds?"

Billy nodded.

"Now, let's say that there are ways to travel to these other worlds," Kane continued. "If you could travel to these other worlds, and you could bring all the other Billys back here with you, what do you think would happen when the parents of these other Billys found out that their sons were gone?"

"They would be sad."

"While you were sleeping in the space station, someone took you from your world and brought you to this one. And they took the Billy who lives here back to the space station. They swapped you with the Billy who lives here. Commander Crichton is not your father - he is the father of the Billy who lives here, on this starship. He was so scared that his own son had been hurt that he was trying to use the transporter to send you back to your space station, and bring his own Billy back to this ship."

"Oh." The boy processed the information, his eyes on the floor. It took over a minute for him to think it all through, and Kane was careful not to break the silence or make any sudden movements. When Billy did look up, he had another question. "But if my dad - I mean, the other Billy's dad - was trying to send me home, why did you stop him?"

Kane sighed. "Because the outcome was not guaranteed. Something could have gone wrong, and you might have been hurt. You might even have died." Seeing Billy's follow-up question, Kane held up a hand. "I know that you want to go home to the space station and that you might have been prepared to risk the danger, but it's not so simple. In this world, we have rules about what kinds of decisions little boys and girls are allowed to make for themselves. For example, sometimes you might get to decide what you want to eat, or what game you want to play, or what colour you want your new clothes to be. There are other decisions that children are not allowed to make for themselves, because they do not understand the consequences of those decisions. We write laws to make these rules official. Under our laws, you are not allowed to accept the danger that Commander Crichton was going to put you in, because we, the adults, have judged that you are too young to understand the danger." He shrugged gently. "This is why Commander Crichton's actions have such serious repercussions - not only was he trying to make you do something that he wanted you to do, but he was doing it against your ability to understand what was happening, and he put a lot of people in danger when he sabotaged the ship. You think he is your father, right? That's how he was able to get you to come with him. But all the time, he was not thinking about you - he was thinking of sending you back to the space station so that he could get his own Billy back. Commander Crichton decided that the other Billy's life was more important than yours, and that is why I stopped him."

Kane watched the concepts and explanation filter through the boy's ten-year-old mind, and knew that, even as he processed the fact that Jake was not his real father, Billy's heart was breaking. Not only was he a million miles from home, but he was completely alone, cut off from any source of emotional comfort. Even those things that seemed familiar to Billy were as alien and inconceivable as the minds of other people.

Billy finally accepted everything. He reached over to his holograph of the smiling Xana Bonviva. "She's not my mother either, is she?"

Kane shook his head. "No. She is the mother of the other Billy."

Billy sighed, a sudden expression of emotion from some chasm inside him. He switched off the holograph. Xana Bonviva's smiling face fizzed out of existence, and Billy passed the holograph base to Kane. "Commander Crichton must have been really scared for the other Billy."

Kane nodded. "I think so too."

"This other Billy is very lucky to have a mom and dad that love him so much."

Kane reached out a hand and put it on Billy's shoulder. "I think so too."

The tears welled up in Billy's eyes, then, and the boy wept for a long time. He mourned his missing home, his mother and father, mourned his own lonesome heart, and cried for the fearful fate that had driven him to a world where there was already a version of him that had everything that he did not. Kane could not do anything except be there, and so he stayed beside Billy as the boy's emotions overtook him. In the morning, he thought, he would take him to visit Jake, and see if something could be worked out. Until then, there was nothing to be done except to be kind.


NRPG: We're moving into the end-stage of HCARS, but ructions are still happening aboard the good ship Phoenix. Phillip wrote and edited a big chunk of the middle scene!

Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer


Phillip Wright
Writing for
* One pissed off * Assistant Chief Engineer Lynette Ryan


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