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Dvokr chim Hok

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About Dvokr chim Hok

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  1. Pan-Galactic Conversation Starter Hok & Poldara ------------------------------------------- Hok smiled as Anastasia sat across from him at the table. He took a moment to study her body language, mostly centering in on her face. She appeared fatigued. Her eyes told all he needed to know. He poured the multi-colored drink over ice, causing the ice cubes to crack and pop. He placed a thin straw in each glass, each printed with the words: Don't Panic. Anastasia watched him finish the bewildering creation. She was impressed. “Why do we have you stuck at the comm station if you have this hidden talent?” "I only make this one drink and there is not enough room for a bar on the bridge, no matter how much a captain protests," he said with a smile, knowing the kickback the drink had. "The straw is there in cause the first try kicks you in the...rear." He lifted the glass high as customary. "To... um...?" Lifting her own glass, Anastasia said, “To mistakes.” Then, wisely, she did not knock back the entire drink in one go as she might have liked. Instead she took a conservative sip. Her eyes narrowed, and she started to say, “Not really all that--” but couldn’t finish the sentence: her eyes got wider, and she sputtered a little. “Hungh.” He took a slightly larger sample. "I..." he coughed. "Told you it would," his left eye visibly twitched, "kick you back a bit." The drink has already sent a tingle out through his body even as it had not reached his stomach. "To mistakes, may they keep us on the straight and narrow." He finally clinked their glasses together. “Oh, now where would the fun in that be?” Anastasia said with a smirk, sipping a bit more of the drink. "Well, one could alway repeat the same mistake over and over. Is that what's happening?" He took another drink and winced. “Sometimes it feels that way. On the other head--hand, I mean hand, why would I have another head?--it feels like I’m just exceptionally good at finding new mistakes to make.” "New, you mean this last failure, I mean mission? What could possibly go wrong with a cloaking device on a ship not designed for it?" He lowered his voice, being in public and all. "What happened to our dear Chief Engineer was not your fault...or is there something you are not telling anyone?" For a moment, Anastasia didn’t say anything. She stared down into her rapidly disappearing pangalactic gargleblaster. When she looked up, it was with a more serious visage that, for a moment, seemed to transcend the intoxication quickly taking hold. “I should have caught the problem before it became a problem. I have sensors. They should sensed these things.” She waved her glass around, causing some of its contents to slosh out of it and onto the bartop. “It was my idea to overload the cloaking device to allow us to escape from within that planet unharmed. It was because of me it exploded.” "Well, is was a grand explosion, and it did save us." Hok's face started to turn red as the cinnamon in the drink started to travel back up the back of his throat. "Oh, phase two of the drink is coming. Anyway, even under the best circumstances these things happen, and I'm sure the doctors on the station are doing all that they can for Mr. Randall." Ending on that point may not have been the best move, but moves were not what Hok was known for among his friends. He placed his right hand on hers. "Don't let what happened plague what you do tomorrow. Guilt can eat you like a Ceti Alpha larvae. One bad decision, then another... so on.. whew.. you get the gist." Anastasia narrowed her eyes at him. “You sound like a counselor now. I thought we were wallowing.” "How does that make you feel?" He smiled. “Like throwing this drink in your face, were it not for the fact that I must drink it all. For I would not want to be rude.” She frowned, then shrugged, then drank. “You’re right, of course. You’re right. You are right. I’ve already made so many mistakes, what’s a few more behind me? Besides, I did warn him to get out of there. Hopefully he’ll know to run faster next time.” "Your behind is not a mistake, I... oh my." Looked at his drink. "Crap, well, improvements can always be made," his face was two shades of red. He drank again and removed his hand. "Why do you make these mistakes, or, well, that sounds crass. What do you think is going on? Something at home bugging you?" Anastasia muttered something, charitably, about Hok having “nice tufts,” but glared slightly when he segued into talking about “home.” The very idea was something she was no longer certain about. Home had once been … well, home had once been a definite concept, and now that was no longer the case. Home was probably Challenger, and that turn of events surprised no one more than her. “Change bothers me. Or, not change. Certain changes. I …” at this, she ran her finger around the rim of her glass, absently, as if reluctant to make this admission, “... miss certain people. But that doesn’t bring them back to you.” "You know what," he spat out of his mouth, smashing his glass down on the table. Everyone close by stopped their chatter. "That damned Cassie went and let the ship!" He looked disappointingly at the table. "I was rather fond of her, someone that would at least talk to me other than through the comm system. I know she did not leave because of me, but it sure feels like it."/ “There, there.” Anastasia reached out and patted Hok on the hand. “I’m sure that wasn’t it. And I’ll talk to you outside of the comm system! I just thought you might like hiding behind it. Like a shield.” "I," she was right of course. It's easy to bury yourself in your work, and working the communications on and off the ship sure helped. Hok reached for the last remaining ounces of the drink, splitting the remains between the two of them. "I think you are right. What a damned mess, the communications officer that does not communicate." They were silent, then Anastasia asked, “Did we just have … a moment?” "Is that what they call it? This drink does strange things, but yes, I think we did." “Well, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone. I had ‘a moment’ with Commander Rinax recently, and she’s never going to let me live it down. Last thing I need is word getting around I want to make friends.” Anastasia gave a sort of snort-giggle, which did little to clarify whether or not she was sarcastic. Hok found the snort a bit charming in a Tellarite sense. "I only listen. I don't talk, remember?" He thought a moment. "If you like these unfriendly sessions, I can always make this drink again." If only Anastasia knew what she wanted, that would simplify her life. Instead of replying with this, however, she simply knocked back the last dregs of the gargleblaster and tried to look him straight in the eye as her arm, shaking, put the glass back on the table. “You’re on.”
  2. Operation Metal Jacket II Undisclosed Location Alberta, Canada, Earth Undisclosed Location. Undisclosed, yes; secluded, yes; impenetrable, no, but damn well guarded, monitored, and defended. Roughly fifty miles north of Mackenzie, Alberta, and not far from the shores of Williston Lake, the construction site was cold and wet, and the terrain almost beyond rugged: true wilderness, not exactly the place to take the family on a picnic, or even on a weekend away. The only thing you have is what you pack in, and if you forgot something it’s several days’ hike to get it, so don’t forget the milk. The campers that would occupy the place formed a SOG, a Special Operations Group, an elite protection/detection detail. JSOC wasn’t worried much about someone stumbling into it, like a backpacker or a hunter. They were more concerned with what might come out of the skies. SOP would be a shield, a dampening field, or a force field, but they’d be detected and might draw attention to the area. Instead, they installed a state-of-the-art stealth sensor grid with direct line to HQ. We're not talking small change here, so they were definitely taking Morrison seriously. During planning, they’d kept Cass out of the loop on some things, which was understandable. She knew he was important, but how important and why was on a need-to-know basis: more secure. What you don’t know you can’t tell, even under pressure or… the other thing that no one wants to talk about. *** "This is not the location of the cabin," Morrison noted after having a shuttle drop them off parts north of Mackenzie. Only a few kilometers walk -- no -- trek to their current location. He supposed Cassie could have started at the town and spent a good part of her leave getting to this current spot. For that he was thankful. “Cabin’s too hot,” she replied, in step with him along the path. “Whoever is after you will be watching it, thinking you might return.” He nodded. "Yeah, you're right. I never did connect those at the cabin with those that beat me. Not like we got a good look at their faces." His cane never left his side and even so Morrison took point, leading them to a good vantage point. So they climbed higher. He grunted as he supported himself. "If it's not the leg it's my back. I feel so old now." Thinking of Cassie that hurt him the most. He was older, sure, but now the gap felt even greater. They walked in silence for a while; she followed, watching him, especially his gait. “You okay walking, sir?” "Nothing I can't handle." A lie. The walk was killing him slowly like tiny ants each taking a tiny bite. “You should have joined the Corps, Commander,” she said. “We need men with endurance.” She closed the gap slowly, until they were side-by-side. Shifting her ruck away from him, she continued, “A hike always goes better when you’re talking, if you’re up to it, Commander. There are a few things we need to discuss. We can do it now,” she shrugged, “or later.” He smiled and glanced at her. "Now is always a time. Now that I'm back on Earth I have all the time in the world. "What's this about?" “It’s about a lot of things, but let’s start with Coridan. We have a pretty good idea of who had you, but it will help if we can get your perspective, every detail you can remember.” She left it wide open, giving him the chance to begin wherever he was most comfortable. "There are two sides to Coridan: the new pro-Federation side, and the old underbelly still infested with the cancer known as the Orion Syndicate." He stopped to consider his starting point. "Luckily no one on the entire planet knew me, so getting there and establishing myself required little effort. I found the dirtiest clothes I could get and set up shop repairing odds and ends. At first I had to look for problems. Offered help in exchange for food and shelter. Then as the weeks went by my reputation as a fixer grew. Gained enough credits to rent a hole in the wall." Morrison walked up a steeper incline which needed his concentration. Minutes passed before he started again. "Business was good. I started to gain the trust of the locals. Breaking the ice with idle conversation proved easy and fruitful. It's interesting what people tell you when you can repair a long-broken diverter or old radio. Oh, I found out what the blank paper did." His excitement at this discovery showed and he stopped to tell her face to face. Cass turned, waiting. "The papers fitted end to end. That was the first part, but all I had was a folded tent on the table. Confounded me for a week. One night in the shop after closing time I placed this tent on top of a small flashlight pointing up at the ceiling. Unexpectedly it turned the room pitch black except for these tiny pinholes of light. Actually quite pretty. My own planetarium. Then I noticed something." He pointed up. "Something looked about the dots of light. Then it hit me. Sol, Andor, Alpha Centauri, Arcturus, Terra Nova. As plain as day. The center point was the Coridan system. I was looking at a star chart." “Any idea why your father would include a star chart, or if the stars on the chart meant something beyond Coridan being the center?” "I think so. The flashlight also emits light in wavelengths other than all at once. I tried all of the colors. The red was the last. The stars disappeared, but replaced by red lines. The lines and stars had to be related, so I flashed between the white and red lights. I looked up some of the systems on a star chart and noticed something. I think they were trade routes for outgoing dilithium shipments. Most endpoints stopped at probable Syndicate locations." He paused. "Needless to say this finding was particularly exciting, but on the Coridan itself I had no clues. I had to poke around some more." Morrison restarted his climb. Granger fell in step. “So you poked.” "Yes. And eventually drilling equipment breaks down. Just in case I needed it I studied it enough to perform a good diagnosis. My good deeds for the local neighborhood proved worth my time. Up to that point my customers have been normal humanoids that looked, well, human. One night a pair of Nassicans knocked at my door. They asked if I knew anything about repairing larger pieces of a more mechanical nature. I said yes and they made me a larger offer, but I'd have to leave right then. I packed my kit and went with them." "I should have known Nausicaans lean more toward the muscle of an operation. They made sure I kept on their path. Walked a few kilometers out of town to some seemingly abandoned shack. It was the entrance to an extensive underground mine. They flanked me to each side as we made our descent." Morrison slipped on a branch and fell back into Cassie. "Damn." She caught him just before he hit the ground, but the momentum carried them down, landing them face to face in a very compromising position. Cass blinked, then grinned. “Commander, I think we better get to know one another first before we go any farther.” "No, I placed that very branch there for this sole purpose. I'd hate to waste such grand planning." “Well, you are a good planner, I’ll grant you that,” She nodded, her face pressed close to his as she was caught beneath him, “and you have impeccable timing. But the Marine hiding in the evergreen to our left? He might start a rumor. I think I’d better help you up.” It was more than a suggestion. "I must be getting old." Morrison used his better arm to prop himself up, waiting to use his other hand to grab onto hers. "Either I didn't notice the Marine or didn't care." Cass rolled to a stand and grasped a tight hold on his hand. “If you had noticed the Marine, I’d have his ass, Commander. I knew he was there because I know their positions. If I didn’t know his position and I spotted him, he would be a damn poor sniper and I’d hang him out to dry before I personally drummed him out of the Corps. Main cabin’s just around the corner. We should be there in a few minutes.”
  3. Ad Hok Granger and Morrison Morrison smiled. “Did you get the files I needed Ensign?” “Yes Commander,” snorted the Ensign, “though it wasn’t easy to bypass the standard alert.” Hok considered for a moment. He dropped an isolinear chip into Morrison’s open palm. “I hope you remember this little risk I took on your behalf.” Morrison laughed softly. “I can’t get you a promotion if that’s what you are thinking. If you need a character reference as someone dependable contact me through the official channels.” “Contacting your office is easy, but where you are planning to go...” Hok’s question trailed off. “Is off the grid. Yeah. I knew that as well as my father.” The commander pocketed the chip and looked at Hok. “So, how is she?” “She’s fine sir. Taking command of her department on Challenger. In fact I had to arrange the command center there. Files were in disarray...some even on paper. I set her straight.” The communications officer grinned as his accomplishment. “Did you? What I know of her that’s quite a feat. Well, Ensign, safe travels to you.” He nodded. Hok quipped, “Commander,” then continued on. Farther down the hall, MCptn Granger exited Marine Commandant Danielle Jeorsey’s office. She looked like she’d been through the ringer, and knowing Jeorsey, he pretty much knew why. The woman got into everyone’s business on the station. Nothing got past her, as far as she knew. The Commandant was the reason Morrison used an older tradition of ‘sneaker net’ rather than normal channels. Poking around the Federation archives and status reports on Coridan did not raise red flags per se, but the degree to which he needed information would. Cass paused a minute to take a breather while she leaned against the observation windowsill and stared into the docking area. Then continued in Morrison’s direction. She seemed preoccupied and didn’t seem to be noticing much but the dirt on the floor. Commander Morrison had seen her in the distance, but was not prepared to meet her this soon. He’d not had a coffee yet, even replicated. “The chip? Where did I put it, oh there,” he thought. He pressed forward. “Cass?” he thought, as if he didn’t see her at a distance. As she looked up her worn expression changed. “Commander Morrison.” Her smile was stressed, but still a smile. “Thought you’d be off-station by now, Sir.” “No, I have been working and waiting for...I had no where to go really. Figured this station would not burn down.” He grinned, making reference to his cabin on Earth. “I try not to burn more than one thing a year, Commander.” She seemed to relax. “You here for the duration, then?” “They would have me yes. Commander has privileges, and they had some work for me here. I don’t think the Captain needed me on board.” She hadn’t changed, save for the meeting with Jeorsey. “Care for a coffee, they have the fifth best replicated coffee in this sector?” “I sure could use one - fifth best or not. Could use a shot in it, too, but they tend to frown on such things when you’re on duty, so I’ll settle for coffee.” He pulled a small flask out of his shirt pocket. “This?” “Good to see not everything was lost in the fire,” she grinned. “Whatever’s in there works for me.” Clipping the slate she’d been holding onto her uniform belt, she stepped up beside him with a nod. “Your flask, your choice of venue.” Morrison gestured in the direction she was already headed. They walked together for a bit. “So how was that nebula?” “Hot,” she said. Clipped. To the point. Definitely not offering more. Nodding, “I’d not take anything less than the Challenger in there frankly. A birdy told me you have additional duties now.” “A birdy.” Cass paused with a knowing chuckle, one brow raised. “Seems like your birdy is pretty busy, shuttling back and forth from the station to the nebula. Wonder how it survives dodging those ion storms,” she teased. “Coffee first. Then talk.” They sat down at the cafe, the one with the view of the ships coming in. He picked a booth with the best view. A waiter came over and...waited. “You first Cassie.” “Coffee. Black. High octane.” Her challenge coin slapped the table. Morrison smiled. “House blend, black.” A minute later two steaming coffees arrived. He reached into his shirt and pulled out the flask, handing it to her. “I’ve found out more information regarding my father.” Cass nodded, a generous ounce from the flask changing the coffee’s rich aroma before she handed it back with a very sincere nod of thanks. “I’m assuming it’s pretty interesting,” she said, inhaling deeply before taking a sip. “Well, there are a lot of indications he never left there,” he said, adding a bit of the flask contents. “Probably got too deep. Just made me think he may be less likely to be alive.” He shook his head. “Everything I’ve read stops short of telling the whole story. Whatever it is, it runs deep and has been for some time.” Cass seemed to think for quite a while, alternately sipping and studying her cup. When she looked up, she kept her voice low.. “He was Intel, right? On a syndicate op.” The public place wasn’t somewhere to share details. “He must have had a handler?” “Wish I knew.” “Um,” she said. Her eyes wandered. “The contents of the box still got me going. They’ve been rolling around in my head ever since we left, even creep up in dreams now and again in kind of a… surrealistic way.” She sipped and studied the cup. “Like a puzzle: what does an outdated isolinear chip, an old telescope, a bunch of matches, rolled up paper, and an image of your father have in common?” Putting the cup down, she looked at him and waited. “Well, I was able to get something off of the rolled up paper. I should have known this.” Morrison pulled out the rolled up paper and set it on the table. He then motioned the waiter once more. He brought over a lit votive candle, setting it between them. “Something to violate the fire code...” He unrolled the paper and held it some centimeters above the flame. Words and drawings appeared. Numbers and measurements also started to emerge. “Do you see it now?” Cass's head tilted in several directions before pulling her chair closer and leaning over the paper at an awkward angle. “Sure do. Map?” Cass’s eyes swept the paper from top to bottom, bottom to top, left to right, right to left, then on a diagonal. “Got a translation?” “No. He knew a few languages and I’d imagine he’d choose one not readily known. I’ll let the computer handle it later. I’m guessing this is a map of the operation he was attempting to expose. Appears to be underground. The notes probably indicate security measures.” He stopped to point out similar symbols on the paper. Her eyes continued to skim the images, darting from one to the other. “Language… or a code,” she said. “When you load it onto the computer, give it wide analysis parameters; don’t narrow it down to a language. For all you know the boxes that look like buildings,” she pointed to several in a line without touching the delicate paper, “could be symbols, and the writing adjunct to them.” She looked up. “Not all civilizations use phonetic writing; keep that in mind. Let the computer tell you what it is; don’t assume anything and keep the possibilities wide open.” Her focus shifted back as she considered it at various angles for another minute before she stopped and leaned back to grab her now-cold coffee. After considering the cup, she said, “Sorry for taking over. Guess it’s become somewhat of an obsession that…” a raised finger stopped her thought, “Well, it could be part of a larger picture I’ve been working on for a while. But my point? Your father had this paper in a puzzle box rigged with a failsafe. I doubt he would have put simple notes on a paper for someone to read easily.” “Yes, an old method of concealing this...map. Guess he figured no one but myself would get through this far. I think I have a pretty good picture what he was doing. The rest I can figure on the way. I’ve arranged a warp-capable shuttle.” Hal smiled, “I’m making a run for Coridan. I’m going to complete my father’s work.”
  4. Erich will be working on something deep in the bowels of the ship and will be unable to interact with other members of the crew. There's a high EM box close to where he will work and comms will be non-functional.
  5. Several days ago Cass had materialized a good five miles from Morrison’s cabin and had begun to weave her way toward it, SOP for anyone playing it safe. She didn’t know him well enough to trust him, but it took more than casual acquaintance for trust. But he’d given her these coordinates for a reason. She wanted to know why. The area around the cabin was dotted with broad, mature evergreens: comfortable and good cover. Balsam was her tree of choice, its sap useful for survival and its branches soft and pliable. Easy hide. And there just happened to be a tall balsam on a hill a half mile from the cabin. Shielded by digital camo and traveling light, she had no problem settling into its broad branches. The wildlife didn’t seem to mind her being there. A few birds and squirrels had decided that her nutrition bars were easy pickings until she trapped one for dinner. Then they left her alone. She scouted the area for a few days, checking out the wildlife, neighboring cabins, and access points... and anything that would raise a red flag. The cabin was fairly remote. A few buildings huddled together formed a town about 14 clicks away. There were few neighbors and he seemed to be alone. Still, she was off the grid completely; he may not be. The man was a creature of habit; Cass could set her chrono by his movements: waking, sleeping, walking to town, cooking. He used a wood stove, a fireplace, or both. With no signs of plumbing he probably had an in-house or chemical toilet. The squeegee-clunk of a water well hand pump carried all the way up the hill. On the fourth day, the weather changed. Cass could feel it, smell it in the wind. Animal behavior changed: some disappeared, others hunkered down in culverts, bushes, and dense undergrowth. The forest around her grew eerily silent and the clouds ominous. She had provisions for surviving a week or so in just about any weather but the prospect of perching in a balsam didn’t quite suit her when there was a warm cabin with a wood stove and she had two fresh-killed rabbits to divvy up. Add snow made for deep tracks that would blow her cover anyway. Within a half hour Cass had gathered her kit, erased all evidence of her bivouac, slid down the trunk, and crept to Morrison’s cabin - rabbits trussed over shoulder, her grand-dad’s vintage M16 slung over the other. After a long pause to listen, she stepped to the door and knocked. As surely as a clap of thunder had come within mere meters of hitting him, Morrison jumped. He cursed something in an off-world language he learned on a mission years ago. His personal sidearm lay in a drawer across the living room. He tiptoed over to it and primed the charge. The high-pitched whine made him feel a little better, but the issue of the knock still unanswered. With a little less caution he went to the door, primed old phaser on one hand, his coffee in the other. He bend down and looked into the peep hole. He heard something against the floor outside. It wasn’t so much the creaking floorboards that made Cass withdraw; the whine of the phaser sealed the deal. “Commander Morrison?” she called from behind a tree, “it’s Cass.” She dangled the rabbits outside her cover with one hand, shouting, “I brought dinner.” Morrison popped his head up, now visible through the door window. “Who? What? Cassie?” He assumed she turned his offer down mere seconds after getting the crystal. Now he blinked in actual puzzlement. He disappeared for a moment. The door opened. He just stood looking at her, holding animals she caught. His phaser pointed at his side. “Aye, Commander,” she shouted back, “and last time I looked, phaser isn’t exactly the best way to cook rabbit.” “I...I have a stove,” he said, still standing at the door. “Um, won’t you please come in?” “How about you power down that phaser first, sir?” she said, still mostly hidden by the tree. “Think it might hurt you worse than me with it pointed at your hip like that.” “Oh, sorry. It doesn't work anyhow,” Morrison said sadly. He switched off the phaser and placed it on the table next to the door. “It’s off. I can’t claim to know how to cook rabbit, by the way.” “No worries, sir,” she said, checking around the tree with her scope before stepping out. “I’ll have them skinned, cleaned, and on a spit in about ten minutes. Roasted sound good?” she approached the door, holding the rabbits out like a peace offering. “Just not raw, if that’s a thing,” he replied, moving aside to let her through. Cass tossed her kit through the door, propped the rifle on the porch, and pulled her KBar from her boot. “Raw is for when you’re hiding and don’t want a fire; think we may need a fire come morning. I’ll clean ‘em out here; it’s easier, less messy, but I need a bucket for the guts so we don’t draw predators.” After a few minutes, Cass came back to the door, spits in one hand, inedibles in an old bucket in the other, and the skins draped over one arm. Morrison let her in, not wanting to join in the skinning process. “That did not take long. Had you wanted to cook this over the fireplace?” He had no idea how to prepare rabbit per se, but if it was anything like chicken he could muddle through it. He moved into the kitchen presuming she’d do the same. “I’ll leave that up to you, sir, but I’d guess you’d like it roasted.” After placing the bucket next to his small sink, she pointed the spits at the fire. “You want to do the honors, or should I?” “By all means,” he gestured with his hand, pointing the way. “So, have you been here long? Surely you did not stay on the ship for days.” Her back turned to him as she arranged their dinner over the fire, she smiled to herself. “Been here a while. Not long. Took me awhile to find your place.” Morrison seemed puzzled. “They should have placed you at the foot of the path up. Did you alter the coordinates, or did I get it wrong?” ‘Oh, you didn’t get it wrong.” She stoked the fire. “I just prefer to hike a ways and got off the trail once or twice.” “You could have told me...I thought you...just decided not to come.” He swallowed as we watched the fire. “It would not be the first time I’ve been stood up, and I wouldn’t blame you.” The rabbits well on their way, Cass turned as she stood and gave him a quizzical look. “Can’t imagine someone not wanting to visit a place like this in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.” She decided to drop the sir. “And as for the telling, I had things to do that took me off the grid. No way to communicate.” Her smile was genuine; she moved to set her boots by the door and stripped her jacket to hang it on a nail that served as a coat hook. He smiled back. “This was my parent’s place, a while back. The contents fell into disarray over time.” He watched her cook for a moment then thought how rude he had been. “Do you care for something to drink?” “Something warm, thanks. I’d say we’re in for a good storm tonight. Wind’s picking up. Temperature’s dropping. Need anything brought in? Extra wood?” She turned the rabbits and rearranged the coals after checking the cabin’s interior for supplies. Morrison thought for a moment. “There’s wood lined up along the side of the cabin, should be dry enough. Refrigeration is pretty good.” He smiled. “Guess you’ll be staying. Of course you can always signal the Challenger for a beam up.” “Beam up’s not an option for me, Commander. Boss wouldn’t like it since I’m supposed to be wilderness training,” among other things. “I’ll be good on the floor - if it’s okay to stay, that is?” “Stay yes, but the floor? Are you nuts? There’s a small guest room down the hall, or the couch.” Morrison should have known, though he expected perhaps a nearby tree as well. “Couch it is. That way I can keep an eye on the fire.” And the door. And the windows. And the approaches to the cabin. “Very well.” He looked at the fire and the roasting rabbit. “You are more than I expected and a welcome break from the silence here.” He felt odd saying that, but his mouth moved before his mind. Out the window the wind started to sway the evergreens as far as he could see. She was right, of course, about a storm brewing. As the storm continued to gain strength outside the rabbit roasted nicely over the fire. The fireplace was built for heat, not cooking. Cassie made it work. Morrison a day earlier had gathered green beans and potatoes from a market those 14 clicks away. He cooked them over the stove in a large pan. Neither of them spoke as they worked on their respective parts of dinner. Morrison had a thought. “Before I forget, let me get a blanket and a pillow from the closet in the main bedroom. I’ll be right back, watch the vegetables for me.” Cassie nodded, or at least he thought she did. Within moments he returned with a white pillow and blanket, threw them hastily onto the couch, then returned to cooking. Several minutes passed. The air filled with noises and smells of a cooked meal. Morrison tossed the beans and potatoes onto plates, gathered silverware, then grabbed two cold beers. With delicate balance he placed them onto the table sitting in front of the fireplace. She in turn removed each rabbit from its spit and placed each over the open area of the plates. Dinner was ready. They both ate. Morrison seemed a bit skittish at the thought of rabbit, but after seeing her dig in he did the same. He ate happily and struck up a conversation about impressions of a 1969 Earth and career history (at least what each was willing to divulge). Soon their plates were clean and their drinks empty. Cassie had wrapped herself in the blanket earlier and let out a yawn. Morrison got up. “Hand me your plate. I clean them in the morning. If you have been tromping around my cabin like you say then it’s time for bed.” She handed her plate over and he took them all to the sink. Without passing into the living room Morrison said goodnight then closed the bedroom door behind him.
  6. “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” Cdr Morrison and MCpt Granger Morrison’s call sent Cass into high alert; there was a damn good chance their mission wasn’t over. Security override got the lift there in seconds. With backup on the way, Cass bolted from the lift, hand to her holster.... “Cassie? Is that you?” Commander Morrison rounded the corner just as Cassie’s hand grasped her weapon. A glance at Cass, then to her hand on the fully-charged phaser’s retention release, and Morrison said, “You take your job seriously I will grant you that.” “Aye, sir. I do,” she replied, still on full alert. “You said there was an incident?” “Yes, but... stand down. I had to go, so I thought to get you here....” A minute for a thorough check of the area and a wave-off of the security team sprinting in their direction and Cass relaxed, forcefully suppressing visions of phaser fire, explosions, and a ship that had just crossed time meeting its maker. “If you ever find the time in your busy schedule to relax I have a tiny cabin in Canada,” Morrison continued, handing Cass an isolinear chip. “This will get you in whether I'm there or not. I will be there for a few months at the very least.” Cass eyed the isolinear chip, then turned it over a few times. She took a deep breath and forced an exhale as she fought back the urge to deck her superior officer. As a principle operative with high-level security clearance, Morrison’s message had led Cass to believe the worst. She’d just come off a high stress mission with no time to decompress; her mind raced. “I admire your dedication to your work, it embodies you clearly, but don't forget to smell the roses you defend,” added Morrison. “Canada,” she sighed, still staring at the chip, her tight lips slowly relaxing into a reluctant grin. “Always wanted to go up there. Might take you up on that, sir. Might even help me calm down from your call.” “Is there anything I can do to calm you down, if calm is what you’d like?” Morrison asked, seeing asking her to meet him in this fashion may not have been a good move. Blowing out a breath, Cass secured her phaser and looked up. “How about coffee? Settle in before after action review board with the temporal jocks? Sure hate to go in there with my blood boiling ; might give them some ideas.” By now her grin approached a smirk. She pocketed the chip. The trip to the mess hall was a series of nods and footfalls. LIttle else. Perhaps the tension would subside the more they walked. Morrison enjoyed silence for the most part until his mind started second guessing. A large crowd poured out of the lift they were to take. After some polite greetings they entered the lift. “Mess hall.” Morrison commanded, breaking the silence. “Are you hungry?” “Could use a bite, sir.” “A nibble it is,” he expressed as he pass the threshold into the mess hall. The hour was between lunch and dinner. Most of the crew’s internal time remained quite a ways off. To Morrison it felt like late morning. None of the humidity of Florida he noted. Actually he missed it. A table in a quiet corner lay directly in their path. A wave of his hand showed his intention. “Shall we?” “Looks good to me,” she said, slipping into a chair after a quick nod toward the next table. Morrison sat with his back to the starfield. He studied Cassie for a moment to gauge her level of angst. After a moment he could not tell. “So, sorry about the call earlier. Do you get wound up regarding things like that often?” The question could have been crass, but he wanted to know. Cass regarded him a minute before responding. Her thoughts ranged from her first encounter with counterterrorism to her last deployment - not exactly something she wanted to remember. She kept her tone easy, knowing that in the commander’s line of work he probably didn’t encounter anything close to what she had. She hoped he never did. “Yes, sir, I do,” she said with a note of finality, then added, “I take the lives I’m sworn to protect seriously. That’s why I’m here.” Morrison motions to a server. “Time for yourself?” “Only when the job is done, sir. Then I take plenty. Try to get back to what you’d call normal. Some missions take a few days; some take a few weeks or more...” she shrugged, “...but it comes with the territory.” The server arrived and spoke. “What will you two have?” “Coffee, black,” said Cass. “Coffee, black, Irish Creme, not synthetic, if you have it.” Cassie’s lowered head barely hid a grin when the server left. “Fight fire with fire, Commander? My mouth gets a little too loose for command ‘less I’m on the wagon.” A chuckle escaped. Morrison grinned and nodded. “Oh, sounds like a weakness.” Cass gave an acquiescing nod and leaned back as the server returned with their drinks, impressed at the pint bottle of Irish Creme he placed in front of her companion. The coffee’s heady steam reminded her that she’d not had a decent brew since the beginning of the mission. Wrapping her hands around the cup, she inhaled deeply before taking her first sip. “You sure you don’t want a little of this in there,” he joked, indicating the cup in her hands. “No thank you, Sir,” she shook her head, still grinning. “Board has radar; they’re sure to know I’ve been nipping. You go ahead, though. I imagine you can handle it better than I can.” Her eyes glanced around the room as they spoke; her expression remained lighthearted. One finger pointed to a table in the corner. “Check them out when you get a chance,” she whispered through a casual laugh, “they have the look and actions of shirts; wouldn’t be surprised if they already have you on their radar.” Morrison shifted his eyes for a moment. “Really? Do you always watch people like this?” He goes to turn, but stops and looks back at her. “Not now, sir. In a minute; look natural. And yes. Yes, I do. Learn a lot about people by just watching. You, for instance. I have the feeling you’d rather be in Canada right now than on this bucket waiting for review.” “Well, that should be obvious, but that’s not all I’d rather be doing,” he answered with a simple smile. Cass watched him, cup in hand, waiting. “We have about fifteen seconds.” The “Damn,” escaped before she could stop it as she checked the chrono, then frowned. “No, no, those people. I still don’t know what you are seeing. Either I’m not as keen or I’m just old.” She shrugged. “Not really looking for anything. Just observing. They don’t blend with the crew, no one talks when they pass by, some of the crew give them a strange glance and some just ignore them altogether. And their uniforms are new. The Colonel on the far side is almost squirming in his, like he’s never worn one before. Or maybe it’s the wrong size.” She laughed. “I’ll make a spook out of you yet, sir.” “Hold on,” he said to her while raising his hand. The waiter came over after a moment. “Those two men in the corner there, another round for the both of them, courtesy of Morrison.” The waiter nodded and understood. He left to parts unknown. “There. Not sure what that will accomplish. Not like we are being chased by Klingons. So, back to why I called you here. I’ll be blunt. I like you. I enjoyed your calm under what some may call extreme pressure and confusion. That said I think you could use some decompression time. I can’t order that and would not if I did have that power. Hence I gave you access to my cabin, which if you choose to visit will be well guarded, by you.” Morrison smiled then sighed in relief, then took a drink of his Irish coffee. Needed more Irish, less coffee. The young Marine Captain regarded him a minute, then studied her coffee before replying. “I appreciate the offer,” she said quietly, “but I’ll have to think about it. Can’t exactly say why, but I will say it’s not personal. It’s... complicated.”
  7. It’s... Head hung in a tongue-in-cheek smirk, Cass replied, “That’s classified.” “Really?” Morrison asked. “Why on Vulcan can’t you tell me?” He drank. The coffee coursing down his throat felt soothing. Her lack of answers to his many questions smacked of teasing. Perhaps she really couldn’t tell him. By the same token parts of his life he hid as well. Perhaps if she asked him something personal he could pull the “classified” card out. Two “It’s Classified” and they would both call it an evening. The Marine captain snickered, the smirk still prominent as she played with the ice cream crusting in her root beer. “Oh, I could tell you, sir. Problem is,” she licked the spoon, then waved it at him as she spoke, “I’d put me in all kinds of trouble and your career... possibly your life... in jeopardy. Sure wouldn’t want that to happen, ruin all that good ‘Fleet training you have?” She paused to gaze at the stars thoughtfully, “Course, if we were never to get back it sure would make for good fireside talk, now, wouldn’t it? Something to look forward to.” Cass watched sparks rise in the backyard campfire’s convection, only to disappear as their glow faded into the night, blending with the smoke as it rose on the breeze. Her spoon poked at the ice cream, forcing the soda to foam into her mouth. “You ever give some thought to not getting back, Commander? Ever thought about what you’d do if we had to stay here and make it our home?” He looked at her and wondered what our she meant, but probably not that one. He must be tired. “Well, first rule is stay out of history’s way. I guess that means finding an isolated place and taking on a new life. Canada, perhaps Alaska. Might be possible to remain here.” While speaking he drilled a stick into the fire, causing even more sparks floating to the sky. This escape away from this ambiguous mission was sorely needed. None of his previous missions went without a break in the action. All of the variables became too much for him to handle. Having company, her company, marked a first for him. “This is the first mission where I have no one back home to go to, just an empty apartment on Earth. Ha, I can leave myself a note.” Cass gave a grinning snort. “Guess if you didn’t find a note back there, then we made it back.” She paused a moment to lick the spoon before asking the obvious question, “You used to have someone to go back to, then?” He smiled for a moment. “Yes. April. She got tired of my line of work and I can’t say I blame her. Not like going into the city in the morning then coming back for dinner. She left while I was on a mission months ago, a ‘Dear John’ letter.” Morrison paused. “There’s no way to tell if I really left a note or if it survived. Maybe I died before writing it.” The air around the fire filled with silence at the revelation of dying centuries in the past. Sparks continued to float up into the dark sky. “Hard not being able to explain what you do, where you’re going, when or if you’ll ever be back. I gave up on trying to make a relationship work long time ago. Decided that my mom had the right idea, except that if she didn’t give in I wouldn’t be here now. Still, can’t dispute her reasoning. Took me a hell of a lot of growin’ up before I realized where she was comin’ from.” Her Bertaria accent got heavier the more she decompressed from the hyper-vigilism of the day, though every now and then she’d pause, evidently still listening to the team feed. “Much as I missed havin’ a dad, the family on Bertaria is big enough so that sometimes I had too many.” She laughed, staring at the flames while she played with her glass. “Pulled me this way and that, makin’ bets at who’d win out with what I chose to do, who I’d go camping with, who’d climb the mesa with me, who’d....” She left off, pensive, watching the fire die. Then she gave it a poke. “But they haven’t been born yet.” Morrison was a little struck by her candor. Competent for this mission no doubt, but in some ways reserved. Perhaps he misread Cassie initially. Perhaps he’s getting too old for this game. “You have to get over things like that when doing any time travel. I’m not born, you’re not born, is that a distant relative...you can imagine.” He poked the embers as well. “Time, ironically, is what I’ll need to get through this. Nearly turned down this mission, but I could not get her out of my mind, thought saving the Earth would help. Now I’m talking about her.” “You signed on this mission to... save the Earth?” “Ha, maybe that’s a bit too grand. It’s hard to comprehend what would happen if the Apollo mission never happens. The mission is not fitting the mission profile.” Morrison turned to Granger. “The lack of knowledge is dangerous. Challenger needs to find us more to go on. It’s unfortunate we can’t do normal investigation. All of this cloak and dagger.” He managed a muffled laugh. “I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think less about the mission and April and more about getting another log on this fire.” He got up and went to the where a stack of wood piled between two trees lay. Grabbed one log in each hand and placed them into the fire. “There. So...more about you. What made you sign up for this?” “What made me sign up, sir? Hell, it’s my job. It’s what I do. They point, I go; they jerk the chain, I move.” The playful smirk erupted again as she launched into an exaggerated, “It’s class-i-fied.” “The hell it is,” he laughed hard and poked the fire. “Is it also classified as to why you first joined?” “Oh, hell no. Corp’s in my blood, both sides. That, and every uncle and cousin darin’ me to do it,” she shrugged, “how could I resist a challenge like that? And the best part? Mom always said I’d have to be better, work harder, run faster, score higher, think quicker than any man. And I got to admit, I do. Most of the time.” “Competing with a certain man or men in general? Sounds like an old notion. Plenty of women do far better than I. Even a certain Cassie Granger.” Morrison let the complement drift off. He opened another beer and took a swig. Tossing her glass and spoon aside, Cass reached for a beer and popped it. “Men in general. One uncle in specific, but I still have a hard time outdoin’ him. General Tigard? Three times my age and I still can’t outdo him. Think I did once or twice, max.” She shrugged, taking a long pull. “My manners, I should have offered you some, but I don’t want to treat you any differently because you are a woman,” laughed and took a smaller drink. “If you are good you are good.” “Do respect, sir? Not a woman, a Marine.” Her tone was serious but the grin was still there, almost challenging. “Right. Marine.” He looked at her directly. “So how about that first question you asked me. What would you do if we got stuck here and had to made this Earth our home?” “Think I’d move to Australia, live in the outback. It’s a lot like Bertaria, where I grew up. Think I’d fit right in there. Maybe start a colony. Not sure. Figure I’d cross that bridge when it’s time.” She gazed off, like she was leaving something out. “Hmm, So you have thought about it? Interesting. What does a Marine do without the Corps? Becoming stranded here would alter who you are. The Cassie I know would change.” Morrison looked up toward the sky. “We all change, sir. But the Corps and the Marine are one, never separated. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Hell, with the technology they have in this decade I could easily make a new life for myself, manipulate the data, work my way up to Commandant of the Corps. But then I’d be with the Joint Chiefs, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.” Cass dangled the bottle between her bent knees as she stared at the fire. “Working in D.C., knowing what’s about to happen in the next few decades....” she shook her head and resumed drinking, ending the last sip with a quiet, “Rather be in the outback.” “It’s a good choice. Decently isolated, same language...I think I’d change gears. A simpler life. Try to forget my past.” He thought about that for a moment. “Sounds sad, geez. We should change the subject.” “Given the time, we should probably go in. Folks might talk.” The grin reappeared. “They should be busy,” the Commander said returning the smile. “For that matter what about delta?” “Quiet. Too quiet. But if it weren’t I couldn’t tell you.” She shrugged, “It’s....” “Classified! I know, I know. Ugh!” He beamed a smile in her direction. The thought of asking her any more questions gave him a headache. They both started to walk back to the house. True, others would wonder, but more importantly, they finished their last bottle.
  8. Cafeteria Pi Semper vigilans had its advantages. Every move, every turn, every change of venue brought new information. So far Cass had seen nothing out of the ordinary at Kennedy Space Center, but when she focused on the area’s weak points, its strong points, and the potential areas of attack, the vulnerabilities were mind-boggling. She had studied earth history, but until she actually experienced the primitive environment that took the first men into space and then to the moon she really did not understand. Formulae spread helter-skelter on Dr. Jeb Goldstein’s whiteboards were calculations Cass had learned in grade school. Some of his reference books she’d seen in the ‘Early Space History’ section of her high school library. The machines they called computers were so slow and the coding so elementary that a third grader could hack it blindfolded. “... so what do you think?” Jeb sat facing her, his expression eager, expectant. “Hm? What? Oh,” said Cass, pressing her glasses to the bridge of her nose as she uncrossed her legs to lean forward. Her clipboard clattered to the floor and she reached down to retrieve it. Shift in concentration. Big mistake. Jeb eyed her a minute. “The solution to a possible failure of....?” He stopped suddenly and leaned back, arms crossed. “Know what? I’ve been talking your ear off all morning. How about you grab a bite and we pick up after lunch?” ...or maybe not such a big mistake. “Oh, thank you,” she sighed, fumbling to gather her things. “For a minute I thought maybe you were one of those scientists who never ate or slept. Are you coming?” He waved a hand. “Nah. Bring my standard liverwurst sandwich. Keeps me going until dinner. Which reminds me....” The front legs of his chair gave a thud as he stood to escort her out. “I hear they brought you and a bunch of others from out of town. Wife and I’d like to have you over for dinner some time. Think that’d be possible?” “Oh, Thank you. I’d like that.” A half hour later found her in the cafeteria chatting with John Randall. Reflections in shiny chrome counters and glass windows as well as movement in the BFT* built into her left ocular allowed her to monitor movement in and out of the room. Outside, Gonzales had apparently taken O’Neill’s place to wander between cars in the parking lot, occasionally glancing in the direction of the cafeteria as people came and went. Having arrived late, Cass was still eating when John excused himself, so she absorbed herself in the events of the morning until the ocular alerted her to Morrison, approaching from the rear. Morrison, who seemed to have no first name, walked up behind Cass with a tray containing today’s special. His timing normally meant the other was already finished, but perhaps this time. “I finally found someone to speak to,” he said in a relieved tone. “May I?” He gestured to the chair. It seemed pulled away from the table as if someone recently left. “Oh,” Cass jerked up, dropping her fork in feigned surprise. “Of.. of course.” She glanced around. “Wow, it’s nearly one and still crowded. Please.” “Big things are happening or will happen...should happen? I have spoken to so many people today. It’s busy all over. This is nearly as busy as this place will get, historically speaking.” He sat down in the chair and pulled it forward. Before him lay country fried steak, a fruit cup and actual corn on the cob. He dug in. “So,” between bites, “what have you found out that’s not been thrown over the main channel?” “The main channel?” She tossed him a puzzled look. “Oh. What people are talking about. Well,” she pushed her glasses up for the umpteenth time. “A lot, even though I’m new. I’m working with Dr. Goldstein, in aerospace engineering, main building. It’s interesting. Where are you working?” Cass repositioned her clipboard-padd, supposedly more out of the way, but allowing Morrison to view its contents as she launched into her pie. “Oh, thank you,” referring to the clipboard. “Believe it or not they put me in the Mission Control room. I spent a lot of time with introductions. Some names I remember and some not.” He bit into the corn. It brought him back to his time as a boy. He continued. “Everything looks good in the control room. How’s the dessert?” “Oh, it’s fine. Well, as good as it could be for a cafeteria.” She shrugged. “I can’t imagine working in Mission Control. It must be exciting.” Shifting slightly, she moved the clipboard again, pressed a finger against it and a highlighted area of the complex appeared. She gave it a tap. “I think at some point you might want to take pictures, if they’ll let you. You know, to show your children and grandchildren?” Her eyes flashed in his direction briefly, then she was back to dessert. Morrison nodded as he sliced into his chicken. “I think they would like pictures. You’d like them too? What kind of angles should I get? I’m not much of a photographer.” He had taken shots when he could of the Mission Control room, but initial glances revealed little. “I’ll try to get there after the briefing this afternoon.” “Oh, if I were in Mission Control I’d take several angles, maybe a few closeups of the people you’re working with. When they’re developed you might even get them autographed.” Her fingertips rubbed together, indicating fingerprints. “I plan to get a picture with Dr. Goldstein.” “That you should,” he nodded in agreement. Morrison remembered the incident from this morning. Flicking his name badge, he explained. “I was in the doghouse myself earlier this morning. Wife kept me waiting. It was like she did not know who I was. She probably forgot to mail in the proper forms.” He was naturally not referring to his actual wife, if he had one. He thought for a moment. “However, the family is doing well. The party is on. With that in mind I need to do a good deed at this meeting. They are heavy coffee drinkers here. Plenty photo ops to be had.” “Never hurts to sweeten the pot,” she said, grinning over her iced tea. “How long does she keep you in the doghouse?” “I think she’s forgiven me. I had to wait a while as she reconsidered. Could have derailed the party. Had me sweating, but now I am in the clear.” He smiled widely. Later he was sure someone would mention checking ones credentials more carefully. Just beyond the window, Cass noticed Kal on approach. Her earbud engaged on the Marine channel. “Kahuna on point. Bogey on watch.” A brief report, nothing to respond to. Moa, aka Kahuna, had taken up position at the launch site and they were watching someone or something suspicious. Cass turned her attention back to Morrison. “You about finished?” “Mmm hmm,” he mumbled, chowing down the last of his meal. “Lots of things to do before the launch, even if you take out the photos. You married?” Morrison asked at her mention of a wedding. “No,” she said offhandedly. “I have my career to think of,” she said, referring to Delta, “haven’t even thought of marriage.” “Oh don’t discount it. Sure I’m divorced now, but.. perhaps that does not sell it. You are right, career does get in the way.” Morrison had cleared his plate of all the food. “What is next for the rest of your day?” Cass pushed her tray aside. “Oh, more facts and figures I guess. Working on a backup plan for the lunar lander. I’m sure it’ll be interesting.” ================ *BFT: Blue Force Tracker
  9. [uSS Challenger Crew - Please take a moment to go through the logs because it does set up some of the Chain of Command, and setting for this new plot line. If you read through them, I think you’ll get a better understanding of its beginning. Thank you. Commander Erika Rinax] Final Adjustment Part 3 - Joint Log - Rinax, Morrison (Dvokr) and Granger Cass sidestepped Tasha in the narrow hallway, almost running into Commander Morrison. He jumped. “Oh, pardon. I did not see you there. I can’t stand early mornings and this qualifies. So…” he looks her over a moment, “Cass I believe? Are you adjusting to this time?” Morrison asked, putting on his awake face. After backpedaling, Cass grinned. “Time as in ‘morning’ sir, or the 1960’s?” “Hmm,” he thought. “I should choose my words more carefully. The 1960’s.” “Think I might adjust to it a bit more after another cup of coffee, sir. How about you?” He laughed. “You mean a pot each. Come on.” Cmdr Morrison walked past everyone else without a word. He made a beeline to the coffee maker. “This beats the replicated ship brew for sure. Smells really nice too.” He inhaled from the top of the canister, then switched out the old coffee and brewed more. Pouring the last two cups from the old batch, he took a seat away from the others to sit with Cass. “So any questions of the mission?” “Always questions, Commander,” said Cass, slipping into a chair opposite him at the table. “Most don’t get answered until they’re on top of you and some not until you’re pinned down. But we try to avoid that last bunch by putting things in line beforehand.” Her hands curled around the cup to warm them. “But I have noticed you seem to stay on the outside of the group, Commander. I figure observer. Maybe even embedded journalist?” She took a sip, her eyes never leaving his. “As mission security it might be good for me to know.” “That’s a good way of putting it. I get to set the chess pieces, but I don’t get to make any of the moves. Someone has to stay back and take in the whole picture. This is not my first go around in another time either. Don’t ask what others,” he answered broadly. He watched her as well, shifting from the hands around her cup to her eyes. Eyes, which would need makeup if to fit the historical norms of the time. “Wouldn’t think of asking, sir,” Cass replied, pausing as her eyes fell to stare at her cup. “Some things you just don’t want to remember.” She reached for the sugar and emptied a packet, still staring at the cup, speaking as she stirred. “So tactics, logistics, what we call ‘Watchdog.’ You’ll wander, or stay in CC? Watch the blue?” * “Unless I’m needed in the field I’ll have to keep tabs on everyone’s movements, provide intelligence or actual provisions. I’ll be close by. I remind others how even tiny actions can ripple outward, causing other events to happen. Once we find our temporal terrorists we have to be sure we aren’t bigger danger.” Morrison, who never went by a first name, took a brave drink of his coffee. He suppressed the urge to spit it all out, getting the grounds. “Tracking will be more difficult. While we will have several hundred years of more advanced technology to use, they still will be watching frequencies we will be covering.” He laughed and looked into his cup. “I wish I had more information to give you. Part of going back in time to wreck someone else’s timeline is to be as discreet as possible. If we knew exactly what was planned we’d either get them in our time or arrive in the past just before they do. I was expecting them to greet us actually. Perhaps their method of time travel is too crude. I apologize; I’m taking up all the conversation.” “No problem, sir. Just so long as I know where you’ll be and where you fit into the picture, I’m good. Call sign Watchdog work for you, sir?” “Sounds good Cass,” Morrison, or rather Watchdog answered. He thought well of this woman in the short time he had spoken to her. She knew what questions to ask. “What is your call sign? I’ve spoken to you the most other than Murphy.” “Ordinarily I go by Striker, sir, but for the mission I’ll be Hera,* just to keep things on the Apollo wagon. I’ll get with Gunny Matheson to fine tune and shoot it to you for verification.” ---------------- *CC - Command Central *watch the blue - Blue Force Tracker (BFT), a digital display showing friendly (blue), hostile (red), and neutral (yellow) personnel on the ground. *Because the mission involves NASA’s Apollo 11 Mission, Challenger’s mission became Operation Zeus Boy, Apollo being the son of Zeus. Cassie’s call sign is Hera, the wife of Apollo.