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Captain Halloway

Rumors and Trolls

Location: Earth

Timing: Just After the Aegis CO Announcement


Thomas Halloway pulled the floral shirt over his bare shoulders and yanked open the door. The bright Bahama sun was blinding as he waved in the steward he was expecting. “Ahhhhh,” he greeted loudly, point toward the central kitchen area, “you can just wheel it in over…” His eyes adjusting, he was taken aback to see it wasn’t a steward at his bungalow door.


His young helmsman stood there in a gauzy wrap over her revealing bikini, blonde hair done up in some fashionable braid. Suddenly remembering to behave himself, he looked her straight in the eyes, at once feeling more naked than the Hawaiian shirt and Union Jack swimming trunks he wore. “Sabrina,” he said with some surprise. Funny to see you here, he thought but didn’t say. He could think of nothing else to add that didn’t sound similarly stupid.


She smiled broadly. “Skipper,” she answered, “I hope I’m not interrupting.” She gazed past him into the bungalow, as if looking for something.


“No, no,” he replied evasively. “I was just about to have a spot of lunch, then head down to the beach.” He gestured toward the open patio door behind him, then ran a hand through his dark, well-groomed hair. “How, uh,” he managed not to stammer, “were you able to find me?” His British accent tended to come out more in times of stress. He leaned against the open door. As was his custom he hadn’t brought his communicator, figuring anything short of a fleet-wide emergency wasn’t worth knowing about. Something that big would show up on the news or the Intel boys would send someone to track him down.


Lieutenant Sabrina Tracey pointed toward the patio door, as well. “The boat,” she answered. “Pacifica is listed as berthed at this dock.”


He glanced back at his helmsman’s reference, understanding the Bermuda rig sloop was a sure way to find him. He’d acquired the craft just after assuming his first command and rechristened her with the name of his adopted homeworld. Whenever he could count on enough liberty to sail, she waited at a port of his choice. The battle with Species 8472 had been months ago. In addition to repairing Yorktown, Starfleet had opted to move up her refit, allowing him his first extended leave in years. “Yes, well, you caught me,” he admitted.


His smile dropped suddenly and he stopped leaning against the door. As his stance straightened, his tone was businesslike, “I hope it’s nothing serious, Sabrina.”


The young lieutenant looked down at her bare feet before looking back. “Not in a bad way, sir,” she reassured him. “But they’re getting ready to recall the crew and dispatch orders to proceed…” she paused, lowering her voice. “toward Aegis.”


“Aegis?” he wondered aloud, scratching at the three-day growth along his jaw. “Has something happened?” He didn’t want to admit he’d actually paid attention to some of the news broadcasts during his vacation. Frankly, he was surprised, even a little betrayed, to learn his friend and fellow captain Sorehl had advised pulling the station out of Cardassian space. Maybe it was time, but it still felt sudden. He’d read about all the negotiations and withdrawal plans. He’d been worried when the Ferengi had expressed their displeasure with a blockade. But since then, he’d heard nothing to suggest any further problems.


Still in the doorway, Sabrina pulled her wrap closer, for all the good it did. “You know they're moving closer to Breen space?”


He nodded. It seemed like a good idea to keep a close watch on them. He’d never quite forgiven the Breen for luring him out of position near the Calandra Sector during their assault on Earth. And except for their brief forey into the Gamma Quadrant, Yorktown had been running indiction missions to stop Breen privateering ever since the war ended. In his opinion, they were the loosest cannons still rolling around the Quadrant. He could imagine Starfleet wanting a capital ship to oversee the deployment of the station at its new location. “They want us to be the lookout while Aegis gets in place?” he wondered aloud.


“I’m not sure, sir. But the Allies want a less militant presence…” Sabrina trailed off, no longer looking at him.. Instead, she peered over his shoulder. Glancing down, Halloway noticed a shadow playing across the terra cotta tile. He closed his eyes tightly. “Doctor,” he said evenly, without turning or opening his eyes, “I thought you were going snorkeling.”


Behind him, Dr. Kelley had padded into the bungalow through the open patio door, a mask and collection bag swinging in one of her hands. “I thought I left my fins on the boat,” she explained, “but I think…” She stopped mid-sentence, her swimsuit still dripping onto the tile.


“Dana,” the helmsman smiled from the doorway.


“Sabrina,” the doctor replied with a touch of surprise.


The captain took a deep breath. “Lieutenant Tracey was just telling me we’re about to get new orders,” he explained, turning toward the doctor. “I was just about to invite her in.” He consciously avoided any comment to suggest Kelley’s presence was out of the ordinary.


Sabrina put out her hand, taking a step back. “Oh, no,” she insisted, “no, I’ve got… someone waiting in the flitter.” She paused, pointing a thumb behind her. “We just did a submarine tour of the reef. Since we were in the area… I wanted to tell the skipper… well, I wanted to let him know.”


Dr. Kelley had already closed the distance to the door, smiling. She craned her neck, as if to see out to the transport shuttle. “You’re both welcome to stay,” she invited. “I’m sure the captain would love to show you his boat.”


The slightest smile twitched on the young helmsman’s face as she took another step back. “No, really,” she continued, “I just wanted to...” She stopped. “Oh. I almost forgot. Aegis' captain was reassigned. The Allies installed a civilian to give them greater oversight.”


Halloway frowned. He and Muon weren’t close, but he had been defense counsel at her court martial. He didn't like the thought of her being ushered out after all her contributions to Cardassia. He wondered about the timing.


“Civilian oversight?” Dr. Kelley asked. “Where did they find that volunteer?”


“The Ferengi offered him,” Lieutenant Tracey answered. “Ambassador Drankum.” As if with some urgency, she moved backward even faster. “I’ll see you both back on the ship.” Finally, she turned and headed toward the small shuttle.


Halloway watched her go. “Drankum?” he said with some surprise. “That old troll? I thought he wanted to stay retired. Why would he let them drag him back in?”


Beside him, Dana just shrugged. “Who knows. In any case, it looks like vacation is over.”


He looked at her, letting out a ragged sigh. “The captain would love to show you his boat?” he repeated, questioning.


Dana’s smile was almost wicked. “You know you’re always trying to show that thing to someone.” The doctor watched the shuttle lift off. It was her turn to sigh. “Well, this little discovery should keep your reputation intact.”


He stopped leaning against the door and pushed it closed. “What are you talking about?”


“You know full well what this looks like,” she chided, gesturing between him and her. “The captain can’t even follow his own rules. He gets grounded and starts running around with a member of his own crew.”


Halloway feigned shock. “But we’re not…” He looked between the doors of the separate bedrooms.


“She’ll never believe this is platonic.”


He sighed. “Yes, I suppose the fiction is much more interesting than the truth. We’ll just have to trust her discretion.” He could certainly talk to the young woman, but it might look like he was protesting too much.


“Then again, it’s not like you haven’t behaved your way into those rumors,” the doctor needled, walking away.


He smacked her lightly on the backside as she passed. “Go put some clothes on. Looks like we’re due for a senior staff meeting.”

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