Episode 5: The Adversary (Joint Mission)
Location: Hanson Guest Quarters
Timeline: MD120, 1210 Hours
“Oi, remember where your elbow is,” Andy scolded gently, then gave a count to 4 to resume the lesson. They may have been bound for a vacation, but Andy still wanted JP to practice his cello; she had made a holo-device to create a travel-light cello he could take along whenever they moved around, and JP was seated in a chair with the cello now with his mother playing accompaniment on her violin. With the count, a mellow tune began to spill from the large body of the cello with the violin joining soon after. Andy smiled when she heard the clean clear notes resonating together, an improvement to the boy’s earlier slip ups.
On the nearby sofa and watching with great interest and a massive smile, Mitch Hanson couldn't help but beam with pride at his son. It was the first time that the Admiral had heard his son play the giant instrument and he was massively impressed, even with the improvement since the boy had started just a short while earlier.
Then of course, there was Andy. He knew she played but he had forgotten what wonderful tunes she could tease out of the instru… wait a minute. What was that? Had he… Yes! He’d caught himself looking at her in a way that he hadn’t for a while. Judging by the fact that she hadn’t changed her facial expression one iota, she clearly hadn’t seen him. But he had definitely caught himself looking at her in that way… the way that always spelt danger for them. Perhaps it was the thought of just being together, as a family, with no work and no commbadges. Maybe, just maybe, there was hope for them yet? As the smile returned to his face, he slowly swayed to the sound of the beautiful music.
After another pause as Andy gave some instruction to JP, the music began again, this time from the beginning so JP could play the piece straight through without any help. Andy hadn’t caught the gaze Mitch had given her, but JP had, and he grinned as he worked through the tune, doing his level best to hide his smugness as he focused on the music. He wouldn’t get to the end of the piece as the door chimed.
“I’ll get it,” Andy offered, since she was already on her feet. “Take a break, we’ll finish in a bit,” she said to JP as she strode over to the door and opened it.
Once the doors parted, the former drone was faced with the blue skinned Captain of the Nogura, a Captain who looked even less cheerful than usual (if that was even possible). “I’m sorry to bother you Master Chief, but I need to speak with the Admiral,” Thalek revealed in his stern, gravelly tone.
“Oh…” Andy said as her expression fell; she had a feeling she knew what this was about, but she said nothing, not until she heard the bad news. She stepped aside with a gesture of her hand to invite the Captain in, then went to the dining table to set her violin back in it’s case. “JP, we’ll pick this up tomorrow,” she said to her son, and JP knew this was code for ‘Go to your room so the adults can talk’, and so he shut off the holo-emitter and pocketed the small device, then went off to his bunk. “Do I need to leave too?” Andy asked as she closed up her violin case.
Thalek shook his head as he took a seat across from the Admiral and watched as the boy dutifully, yet begrudgingly, left the room. “There’s been a development with our mission,” the Captain revealed, sliding a PADD across the coffee table to the much senior Admiral. “It appears that the Consortium agent we were sent to apprehend has been warned that we are coming and has fled to the wormhole,” the Andorian revealed.
“Well that certainly complicates things,” the Admiral remarked as he looked briefly at Andy and then the PADD again. “So, he’s headed to the Alpha Quadrant?” the older man asked. “Why? There are no known Consortium cells operating on the other side of the wormhole.”
th’Zorati shifted, uncharacteristically nervous (he’d never admit it out loud, but Hanson had always intimidated him, so it was hard to explain this failure to him) as he explained his actions. “We spoke with our guest again and he was surprisingly forthcoming,” he began. “According to him, there were rumours, around the cells, that Monhok had been trying to branch out. Almost as if he were going in to business for himself. He had supposedly been approached by someone from the Alpha Quadrant that could use his… expertise, his knowledge of the Consortium,” the Andorian revealed.
“That’s just great…” Andy grumbled as she plopped down into a chair at the table. “Guess this explains the course correction I felt a little while ago,” she added dryly.
Thalek nodded as he confirmed her statement. “We were trying to intercept him before he made it to the wormhole but we won’t make it in time,” the Andorian frowned. “Communications are jammed too, so we can’t get a transmission to Deep Space Nine via the relay either,” he told.
“Sounds to me like they’ve known about this for a while,” Hanson mused quietly as he read the report from Starfleet Intelligence that Garen had presented to the Captain earlier. “So, what else do we know?” he asked eventually, referring back to the meeting the Captain had undertaken with their ‘guest’. Hanson had been more than skeptical of Hunter’s intelligence so far, but most of it had transpired to be… Crap. He suddenly realised that he hadn’t told Andy (or J.P. for that matter) that Hunter was aboard. She’d flip out for sure.
“I know we’re not making it to Altor anytime soon…” Andy said before Thalek could brief Mitch on any further detail. “Dammit!” she exclaimed, then sighed. “Sorry, not mad, I’m not mad,” she said, trying to convince herself more than convince them, with such attempts only resulting in one of the dining chairs being kicked away from the table. “Ok, I’m mad, but not at anyone in this room.”
“You will be…” Mitch told sheepishly as he changed his stance and turned to look at her, taking one of her hands in his and holding it tight (mainly so she only had one to punch him with if she felt so inclined). “I didn’t tell you because, well, we weren’t going to be aboard for long, but Hunter is aboard. He’s been the source of our intelligence,” the Admiral confided before closing his eyes and wincing as he prepared to be socked in the jaw.
Instead of letting her anger boil over, Andy held it in, silently fuming as Mitch held her hand. “We can discuss this later,” she finally said, her normally gruff and gravelly voice now soft and muted. Then she pulled her hand away from his, grabbed her violin and stormed off to her bunk.
“Crap on a cracker,” the Admiral sighed as he lowered his head and shook it. Why did he always manage to piss her off just when things were going so well? Looking up again, he diverted his attention back to the Captain. “Give me five and I’ll get changed,” he revealed before pushing himself up and heading towards the same room that Andy had disappeared into.
When the door shut behind him, the man looked at the former drone. “You’re mad. I can understand that. I apologise,” he told in a very stilted, almost staccato fashion as he eyed the woman and the wardrobe with his spare uniform in it.
“Don’t,” Andy said as she tucked her violin away under the bed, then made her way to the wardrobe, pulling out her uniform, then his and tossing them on the bed. “I’m not mad at you, really,” she assured him as her odd-eyed gaze finally met his. “I know you had nothing to do with how things unfolded, and I don’t fault you for not wanting to spoil the mood by telling me about Hunter, so you don’t need to apologize. But I am still pissed because I know what this means. Just give me some time, I’ll get over it.”
He reached across and took ownership of her uniform, dragging it away from her. “Just because I’m back on duty doesn’t mean you are. You stay here, relax with J.P. and I’ll be back the minute I’m no longer needed,” the Admiral smiled, trying to atone for the change of their plans.
“Yeah, but how long until you’re ‘not needed’, or until we can get back to our vacation plans? I will go stir-crazy without something to do,” Andy pointed out.
“As soon as the situation has been resolved, we’ll head straight for Altor. I’ll even get us passage on another ship that won’t be anywhere near a Starfleet mission,” Hanson told as he began to slip into his Admiral’s uniform. It didn’t phase him in the slightest, getting changed in front of her, despite their complicated relationship status. “You never know, this bunch might be so competent they don’t need me for anything other than a briefing,” he smirked.
With a grin, Andy shamelessly enjoyed the view as she watched him change. “I hope so, because I was promised tropical drinks and deep tissue massages on the beach and I intend to collect, even if that means finding a nice piece of eye-candy to drag to the holodeck.” Even at his age, Mitch was still a nice piece of eye-candy…
“I’ll ask the Captain for you,” Mitch grinned as he zipped up the front of his uniform jacket and fastned the belt around his waist. Good to go, he winked at her and left the bunkroom.
“Not my style, but in a pinch he’ll do,” Andy said with a chuckle.
“Whatever,” Mitch called back as the doors opened and he stepped out into the main living space again. “Okay Captain,” his tone had instantly changed to reflect the donning of his uniform and the transition from off-duty big wig to on-duty Vice Admiral of Starfleet Tactical. “You can fill me in on the rest on the way to the bridge,” Hanson instructed, gesturing with his left hand to the doorway. th’Zorati nodded and quickly vacated the premises, followed swiftly by the aging Admiral.
With Mitch and Thalek now gone, Andy took a moment to recompose herself before putting her uniform away. As she made her way to the living area to pick up the chair she had kicked, she contemplated what she was going to say to JP. Right now, there wasn’t much to tell, they wouldn’t know how long Mitch would be on duty or how long their vacation would be delayed until the situation evolved. But still, she had to tell JP something!
Andy entered JP’s room to find him lying on his bunk playing a hand-held game. Around his wrists were a pair of wristbands, a suggestion from the counselor to make him more aware of when he was scratching his wrists, and peeking from under those wristbands were signs of fresh irritation.
“You’re scratching again?” Andy observed with concern as she sat down on the edge of the bunk.
“I stopped before I scratched too bad,” JP said with a shrug. The bands around his wrists did make him self conscious, but it was working! “Something happened, didn’t it?” he asked in return.
“Yeah…” Andy admitted reluctantly. “Your dad had to get involved, but hopefully he won’t be on duty for long, and as soon as we hit Deep Space 9 we can find another transport to take us to Altor. Our plans ain’t changed, just delayed a little,” she tried to assure her son.
“If you say so…” JP replied with a heavy sigh, his attention thus far remaining on his game.
“Look, I know it sucks,” Andy said in an attempt to relate to what he was going through. “My parents were both Officers, so I know what it’s like to have them choose work over me. Now, I think I’ve done a pretty decent job of balancing my time between work and spending time with you, but your dad is still new to this, not to mention the situation was pretty serious, he had to get involved. It’s nobody’s fault.”
“I know,” JP said, finally lowering his game to look at his mother. “Just really, really sucks…”
“It’s okay to be disappointed, I am too, just try to give your dad some slack when he comes back; he’s doing the best he can and I know he’ll make it up to us once he can,” Andy tried to assure him. “And until then, there’s no reason we can’t have some fun. Why don’t we go down to the holodeck and you can show me that game you’ve been wanting me to play, the one with the zombies and the magic bees?” she suggested.
“Really?” That had JP’s attention, although he pretended to contemplate the offer seriously. “I guess I could be convinced to show you,” he said with false disinterest, causing Andy to chuckle.
“Would an ice cream float afterwards help seal the deal?” Andy asked. Again, JP made a show of considering the offer before finally nodding.
“I accept these terms,” JP said with a grin, then hopped up to go find the program amongst all the other games he had collected. Andy smiled at his resilience, she just hoped that there wouldn’t be too many delays to their plans to test that resilience further.