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The waiting game

Posted on Tuesday September 6th, 2016 @ 11:12am by Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Harkmoor

Mission: Intermission 1: New Home
Location: Earth, Fiji
Timeline: 7 January, 2392

Jeremy poured his friend another shot of Galamite Vodka. The clear liquid, which was made from some Galamite tuber that looked quite unlike like a potato, and was utterly inedible, made quite the potent liquor. It was, as some would generously say, an acquired taste. But it was popular among certain circles of the Orion Syndicate, where it was used to demonstrate stamina. Jeremy had picked up a taste for it there, and was now inflicting the stuff on his old friend, and recent Advocate, Steven Joruta.

Joruta, who bragged once in the academy that there was no drink in the galaxy he could not handle (and then spent the next two days in sick bay) winced and accepted the shot.
“I don’t mean to be ungrateful Jeremy, but why are we here? If the plan is to drink and celebrate, could we do it somewhere more cheery than the back of your quarters under a comms-lock?”

Jeremy shrugged. “Sorry Steve, needs must. You know we can’t discuss my case outside TSC-level security enclosures.”

“Don’t remind me, I had to get a week of special briefings and clearance checks before I could even take your case. But what’s to discuss? You won, full exoneration, no fault, and a promotion on top of that.”

Jeremy took a shot of the Galamite Vodka. Odd how it was called Vodka, when it really had little or nothing to do with Vodka at all. But it was clear, potent, and people liked comfortable names on things, even in the 23rd Century. Steve matched his shot, and then went into a coughing fit as the booze tore its way down his throat. When the advocate clapped the empty shotglass down on the table, there were tears in his eyes.

Jeremy had the grace to pretend not to notice. “But what now? It has been three weeks, and I still have no orders. I’m sitting here on forced vacation climbing the walls.”

Steve looked around. The ‘walls’ Jeremy was climbing were in a lovely faux-authentic beach hut on the white-sand shore in Fiji, overlooking pale blue crystal clear waters and under a glorious blue sky.
“Yeah,” Steve muttered. “You poor suffering soul you.”

Jeremy continued: “You know full well one can be ‘exonerated’, and then condemned to some backwater post to wile away a dead career. I have no idea what Starfleet think about my case, or exoneration, and the only way I will know is when I get my next orders. And besides, I hate being on vacation, it makes me jumpy.”

“Jumpy? You?” Steve smiled. “You live your life under phaser and knife, in the belly of the beast. I had special SI clearance as your advocate, and even I had parts of your personnel file redacted, but I know enough to know you have unknown, sat at the tables of the enemy with a smile on your face. But beach and sand makes you jumpy?”

“Being undercover, danger is everywhere. It’s like breathing, you are aware of it, and it keeps you sharp and alert. Being on edge becomes your standard, you learn to check your every breath and word, and to read the actions of everyone you meet. You live a few years like that, and it becomes ingrained. I swear I don’t even know how to relax anymore.”

Steve sat back for a moment, considering.
“Look, Jeremy, I get it, this must be nerve wracking for you. You have my sympathy. But my special clearance ended when your tribunal ruled. I have no special access, and I don’t know anyone in SI, let alone on the assignment board at all. So I’m not sure how I can help you.

Jeremy poured himself another shot.
“I didn’t think you could help me, I just needed someone to talk to. In my work, friends who have enough clearance to understand my background are as rare as crystal latinum.”

“Friends? Jeremy, we were friends in basic, and you saved my ass on the yearling exam at the academy, and I owed you for that. But I haven’t spoken to you in 13 years before this trial. I had to wrack my memory to remember what you looked like when you called.”

“You are still as close as I have. One doesn’t make a lot of friends in the circles I inhabit. I can think of quite a few people, around the Galaxy, who think we are friends, but don’t actually know my real name. And in some cases, my real species.”

Steve shook his head, and made to get up. He staggered a bit for a moment, then found his balance.
“Wow, that Vodka… Look Jeremy, I’m glad I was able to help you. And I won’t lie, having a TSC Clearance case, and a victory, on my jacket is a real father in my cap at the JAG corps. I’m glad we reconnected. But I’m due at Starbase 1 in the morning, for my next case. Next time you need an advocate, give me a call, and until then, find something to distract you. Aren’t you some big martial artist now? I read that in your file as well. Go spar on the white sand, or underwater, or whatever it you do.”

Jeremy put on a smile – sincere, happy and very well-practiced. “Thank you for joining me Steve, it has been a pleasure as always. Good luck on your next case…”

Steve took an awkward step back, feeling a little bit like he had just been dismissed. Jeremy touched a few buttons on the wall, allowing Steve to contact out of the room again, and a few moments later he vanished in the bright bluish stream of a transporter.

Jeremy stood and cracked his neck. He was not given to introspection or self-doubt, in fact normally the opposite. But vacations brought out the worst in him.

On his first day in SI after his assignment from the Academy, and elderly woman sat down the new recruits and told them with exaggerated patience and a kind of motherly calm: ‘you will have friends, colleagues, and lovers. But none will be real. None will know that you are using them to get what you need. They will be blissfully unaware of who you are and what you want. At least, that is your goal. It will be a lonely life. But the Federation depends on people like you.’

Jeremy had never minded lonely, he had grown up with no attachments, no close family except his dear half-sister. His father was embarrassed by the affair which had created him, and his step-mother hated him for the very same reason. And his actual mother, whose face he couldn’t remember and only had brief recollected flashes of her voice singing to remember her by, was dead. His career was his life and Starfleet was his family. And the possibility that they too might shun him, that is what drove him to an old-almost friend and shots of Galamite Vodka.

A hot shower and a Vulcan Coffee later, Jeremy was on the beach, shadow boxing and working up a sweat practicing his dancefighting. He followed that up with a long swim and bit of rock climibing, with the intent of wearing himself out. He was so successful, and slept so well, that he didn’t even wake up when the faint beep of his PADD indicated an incoming message: his orders finally coming through…

 

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