The Ghosts of Future Past - Part 2 "Haeschen"
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Note: This is Part 2 of The Ghosts of Future Past, but due to my own carelessness, I posted Part 3 a few days ago before Part 2 was ready. Sorry for any confusion in the story.
[Previously in The Astounding Adventure of Terri Cornelia Lee - Part 15 "Mourning"]
. . . . . .
“I hope Terri Lee is here as well.” Hans said.
Terri had been hiding in the corner behind a divider since she sneaked herself in ten minutes ago. She was supposed to go to the funeral earlier - she heard President N’Verix would be there - but she couldn’t bring herself to look at T’Pen in the eyes, not after what she said to Hans the last time she saw him. Yet here she was, in the reception, hiding from T’Pen and from her dad, wondering what she was doing, what she should do. She was startled when her name was mentioned; it’s as if Hans himself had been there, calling out to her. Her heart jumped into her throat.
“Hello Arme Haesschen. I hope this finds you well. I wanted you to know although I had no children of my own, you were the closest I had to a daughter, and I ask your father’s forgiveness for sometimes thinking of you as such. I sponsored you to the Academy what seems like ages ago now. Since that time, you have turned out to be a remarkable woman, an excellent officer, and still just as stubborn and hot-headed as ever.”
A few chuckles.
Biting her lips, Terri felt something she had always hated, something wet in her eyes.
“To you I leave those Fleet ranks I wore during my service to your father as XO. May they inspire you to reach those goals you set for yourself. If that goal includes staying in Starfleet, it would do me great honor if you wore them when the time is right. I also give to you the stuffed bunny you affectionately called “Jingles” when you were a small girl. I gave it to you when you were but a child, and you returned it to me when you felt you had ‘outgrown’ such things. If you do not wish it for yourself, keep it anyway. Perhaps your own children could use a friend one day.. In addition, I grant you the right to all the books I read to you when you were a little one; I do not remember their titles, but I do recall you were fond of some of them.”
That was all that Terri could bear. She sprang out from behind the divider and headed straight for the doors, knocking over a few chairs.
. . . . . .
[Previously in The Ghosts of Future Past - Part 1]
. . . . . .
"Ugh." Terri grunted as she pushed the bar up one more time. Some people just didn't know when to quit. She would just have to give him a piece of her mind then.
As she lowered the bar with both of her hands, she turned her head sideways in the direction of that ever annoying voice. "Listen up, you . . ." She was about to go on aN expletive-filled tirade when her eyes caught his.
"No . . ." she murmured in disbelief. He looked so young, but there was no mistaking it. As realization dawned on her, her concentration broke. "Ouch." She cried as the bar slipped from her hands and landed on her sternum. It hurt badly. But not as badly as the sight of the man standing next to her.
Adlerstein kept to the rescue, taking the bar in both hands and trying to heave it off her.
As the man tried to lift the bar off her, Terri stumbled off the bench and landed on her side.
"What are you doing here? You are not supposed to be here! You are supposed to be on the Kyushu. I checked!" Her voice was frantic as she struggled to get back on her feet. "No, no, no. It can't be. This can't be real."
First it was her dad. Now it's Hans. Why did she keep having nightmares of the ghosts of her past?
"Stay away from me. Stay away from me! I didn't do anything wrong!"
Wake up, Terri, wake up.
She was making a scene, and several gym-goers turned to look upon the drama unfolding.
Hans turned red with embarrassment. “I...I didn’t say you did miss...” he had both his hands up in a disarming pose to try and calm her down.
Terri breathed heavily as she looked around. She's still in the gym and Hans was still standing in front of her. It's . . . it's not a dream. But how? What was he doing here on the Arcadia? More important, what should she say? What could she say? All those things she had said to him the last time she saw him. But that was a different reality. This . . .
"Get out of my way!" she shouted and pushed him away, dashing toward the exit.
Hans fell on his rear, letting forth a grunt of surprise.
. . . . . .
::Present, Guest Quarters, USS Arcadia::
With a broad swipe of her arm, Terri cleared the desk of the myriad of things that had clustered it, sending them crashing down onto the floor indiscriminately. In their place, she set down a rectangular and nondescript case, nearly identical to your standard Fleet issued type-2 tactical carrying case, but much rugged in design. It had to be. What's inside was too precious. Too personal.
After a momentary hesitation, Terri placed her right hand on the nearly faded Starfleet insignia in middle of the lid and initiated biometric authentication. A few soft beeps later, the locking mechanism was released, and for the first time in two years the lid swung open.
Most of the interior was taken up by three and half rows of neatly arranged medals and commendations: a Star Cross, a Medal of Honor, and a Distinguished Service Medal, among others. They belonged to her dad.
In the lower right corner, however, there was another rectangular box, this one small enough to fit in her palm. Swallowing hard, she picked it up and opened it.
There were no medals, no commendations, only a set of three golden rank pips. They were worn and weathered, having seen their fair share of service and blood. The pips belonged to someone else, and he had wished for her to wear them. Taking another deep breath, she closed the small box with the rank pips in it. She didn't deserve them.
Terri glanced around the room, and her eyes fell on a stuffed animal, whose long ears stuck out from under a pile of clothes. Walking over, she pulled it out and held it in one hand as her other hand dust off a few threads of lint that had attached themselves to the bunny. She looked at it for a moment and then let out a small sigh.
::In A Future That Was, 2400, USS Themyscira, In Orbit of Indri IV::
"What? How did she get out?" asked an incredulous Captain Oliver Lee, commanding officer of the USS Themyscira. "I locked the doors myself."
"I think she . . ." Lieutenant Kell Tobin had barely begun when he was cut off by his visibly irritated CO.
"It doesn't matter." said Oliver. Turning to the commander standing next to him, he shook his head. "I swear, if she gets into the Jeffries tubes again, I'll ship her to Vulcan first thing in the morning. And I don't care what Michaela says."
Johannes Adlerstein, XO to Lee, places his hand upon his superior’s shoulder. “Easy Skip; I’ll go get her myself.”
Oliver nodded. "Themie, where's she hiding now?"
The ship's AI appeared before the trio of officers in her holographic avatar. "I'm afraid she's no long on board, Captain. Transporter log shows that she beamed herself off the ship a few minutes ago."
Oliver exchanged a dumbfounded look with Hans before turning back to AI. " What do you mean she beamed herself off the ship? She's only six, Themie. How did she even know how to use the transporter?"
The young Andorian woman that was the AI's avatar shrugged with a small smile. "Well, she is an exceptionally precocious and intelligent six year old, sir."
Most parents would be happy - even proud - to hear such compliments about their children, but the only thing Oliver was feeling now was frustration.
"What good is all that intelligence if she has no discipline and self control? Where did she transport herself to? "
"The Tauran Ranges on the Eastern Continent." answered Themie.
"Run a scan of the area."
"Way ahead of you, sir."
"Did you find her?"
"I'm afraid not. The mineral deposits in the mountain makes pinpointing her position impossible, but I can extrapolate a search perimeter."
Adlerstein chimed in. “Did you wish to go down there sir?”
Oliver shook his head. "No, I can't leave the ship. The Herulian and Serdec delegations will be here soon, and the negotiation cannot be postponed. Too many lives are at stake. Lead the search party, Commander." A pause. "Besides, she has always listened to you."
“She’s done no such bloody thing, and I’ll thank you not to throw out such wild accusations.” The German quipped. Softer, he stated, “Count on me Skipper; I’ll bring our young rebel home.”
Oliver responded with a simple nod, his brows still knotted tight. He appreciated his XO's effort to lighten the mood, but the situation was anything but lighthearted. The negotiation between the Herulians and the Serdecs had entered its most delicate and volatile stage, and Terri just had to pick now to act out and throw an tantrum. With Michaela on leave at a medical conference, he had been left alone to deal with Terri and her antics. And the last few days had been a non-ending string of frustration as the girl was every bit as stubborn as her mother . . .
At the thought of Korra, Oliver let out a quiet sigh, and the knot on his brow softened.
"I can't loose her, too, Hans."
“You won’t sir, not while I get a vote.” The German responded, placing his hand once more upon his superior’s shoulder before departing.
::Later, Somewhere in the Tauran Ranges, Eastern Continent, Indri IV::
Terri sobbed intermittently as she caressed the small Klorian rabbit in her arms. She hadn't meant to hurt the bunny. She didn't know its nest was under the bushes when she threw that rock in frustration after realizing she had lost her way in the forest. It was not her fault. So why was she still crying? She shouldn't be crying. She's a strong girl, strong like her mom, and her mom would not want to see her cry.
Just then, the tiny rabbit in her arms squealed softly. Was it still hurting? Was it calling out to its mom?
At that thought Terri began to sob uncontrollably as tears streamed down her reddened cheeks.
A call of a different sort came from the forest, a human one.
“Terri! Terrrrriii! Come on Kleine*!”
Tears still streaming down her cheeks, Terri sprang up from the grassy ground and began running away from that familiar voice. She had been running away from the search party for almost two hours now and she was exhausted, but she's not going back to the ship, not even if her dad sent Hans for her. But she was only a few feet away from where she had been sitting when another squeal from the little rabbit in her arms stopped her in her track. Terri looked down, and the bunny squealed again. All that running must be hurting it.
"Arrg." Terri groaned in frustration. She was supposed to protect it.
Sitting down on one of the rocks nearby, she wiped the tears off her cheeks with her sleeve and tried her best to stifle the lingering sobs. She was a strong girl, and no one was gonna see her cry.
Adlerstein pushes his way through bushes and flowering plants, sending a myriad shower of pollen into the air to float lazily towards the ground, while also coating his sleeve and pant legs with the dusty detritus. His quarry was found sitting upon the rocks, as if daring him approach.
Hans found a bit of rock to sit down next to the young girl. He decided he would wait for Terri to speak first. When she did not, The German tried to reel her in gently.
“So what do you think? Maybe put up some walls here, make a shack?” Hans gestured near a sturdy looking tree. “I could build a neat holodeck there . . . maybe even get it to two stories.”
Terri knew what Hans was trying to do, but she didn't do anything wrong, and she was not going back to Themie, no matter how much she's starving for some of Mr. Gorgan's hot, juicy cheeseburgers right now - not that her dad would let her have any. She had nothing to say.
"This place is stupid." the girl murmured as she caressed the bunny on her lap.
“I’ll say, there’s no food here.” The German quipped. Hans leaned over, seeing Terri’s furry friend. “Who’s this here?”
"It's a bunny." the girl said matter-of-factly before letting out a small sigh. "It's hurt." Looking back up at her father's XO, she quickly added, "I didn't hurt it . . . I mean, I didn't mean to. I didn't know it was there. I couldn't see it. The shrubs are too thick. I . . . I didn't . . . It's not my fault!" the girl sniveled as she wiped away new tears off the corner of her eyes.
Hans instinctively rubbed her shoulder reassuringly. “Hey, hey, easy young one. Accidents happen. How about I look him over a bit and see how he’s doing?”
Terri nodded quietly. Gently she handed the rabbit to the man. "Is he gonna be OK?"
Adlerstein turned the rabbit over gently. The animal made grunting sounds in protest. The Teutonic officer took out his tricorder and scanned the animal. The device beeped and trilled before spouting its prognosis.
Hans remained mute about the readings at first. “Soooooo . . . young one, care to say what got you so riled up you couldn’t even come to me and we could box your father’s ears as a team?” He joked.
Terri wiped clean the traces of tears that she still felt on her cheeks. Kicking a pebble by her feet, she said, "It's Adrien. He took my glider when Mr. Yok wasn't looking. It's not my fault that he fell on his stupid butt when I took it back."
Hans clucked his tongue before punching a few more buttons on the scanning device. "Well . . ." The German let the words hang in the air for a spell. "how many times did he fall on his butt?"
Terri looked down and kicked another pebble, but she didn't answer, her lips pursed tight.
"From what I heard, the boy looks like he fell on his butt alright, down a few flights of stairs." Adlerstein chimed.
A barely noticeable smirk flashed across Terri's lips as she remembered the pained look on Adrien's face. "He shouldn't have taken my glider. It was my glider."
Hans’ eyes greater warm as he spoke to the young girl. “Oh, come now Kleine; you know I know you better than that. A stolen glider might get a sock in the arm or a good push, but the way you went after him makes me think he did more than just take something of yours. What else did the kid do?”
The smile disappeared from Terri's face. Looking back down, she kicked another pebble, this time with much more force. "He said . . . he said I'm the reason my Mom died. He said I killed her! So I punched him. It's his fault. He shouldn't have said that! I didn't kill my mom. I didn't!" Her voice began to crack as she looked back up, tears swelling in her eyes. "I told Dad, but he wouldn't even listen. He said I shouldn't have punched Adrien. He said . . . he said it was my fault. But I didn't kill my mom. I . . . I didn't! Why would he say that?! Why?! I . . . I . . ." Her words became unintelligible as tears began to pour down her reddened cheeks and she started to cry uncontrollably.
Adlerstein set the rabbit down, which promptly skittered away as fast as it’s legs could take it. Hans put an arm on Terri’s shoulder, patting her there as gently as if she were made of porcelain in an attempt to console her grief. “There there kiddo. Kids can just be mean-spirited sometimes, for reasons beyond our understanding. You know and I know what happened to your mother was not and could not have been your fault. So long as we both know that fact, anyone else who thinks otherwise can go to the infernal regions.”
Hans was taken aback as Terri buried her face into His shoulder, the grey woolen fabric soaking up the anger and exhausted tears, as if to physically drag the emotions away from the small child. Hans decided to simply hold her, swaying back and forth gently like a living rocking chair.
It wasn't long before the heartbroken cries turned into sobbing and sobbing turned into barely audible
When Adlerstein finally felt her form go limp and her breathing slow, he gingerly stood up, holding the young girl in his arms, her head still nestled into the crook of his neck. As he stood up, Terri murmured slightly, making the German freeze until he was sure she would not stir further. Hans touched his comm badge, hissing slightly as it’s chirp forced another groan from his passenger.
“Adlerstein. Two to beam up.” He said.
As The swaths of bluish sparkles took them and then faded, Hans’ view of the planet was replaced by the transporter room. His vision set upon Captain Lee, who was waiting for them.
“Got her sir.” The German said, his tone quiet, his palm downward pushing towards the floor indicating his recommendation that his Skipper use the same volume.
Oliver let out a small sigh of relief. Walking over to where his XO stood, he tugged a strand of loose hair behind the girl's ear.
"Thank you, Hans." he said softly. "Would you mind taking her to your quarters for the night. I . . . I still have some paper work to finish." A pause. "Besides, I think it'd be better if you are the first person she sees when she wakes up. Michaela should be back by 0800 hours tomorrow. I will have her pick up Terri then."
Inwardly, Adlerstein thought the girl needed her father, not himself. However, Hans was unsure how to state such an opinion without coming off as insolent, so he simply choose a safer course:
As they disappeared behind the closing doors, Oliver let a long sigh. How he envied the German.
[To be continued in Part 3 . . .]
Captain Oliver A. Lee
USS Themyscira NCC-85430
Terri C. Lee
(NPC - Oliver)
Lieutenant Commander Johannes Adlerstein
USS Themyscira NCC-85430