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Outpost Phoenix: Personal Com-Net image
Family Matters: Communique

Outpost Phoenix: Personal Com-Net


by Lieutenant Lukas Behr & Doctor S. Vasari
[Stardate ]

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The subspace message came at an odd hour.  It flashed and beeped as urgent, the highest priority demanding its recipient’s attention.  Lukas groaned quietly as the constant chirp from the computer pulled him out of his dreams. He rolled lethargically from his side to his back as a soft and steady stream of German curses slipped from his lips.  “Verdammt. Was zum ewigen Fick. Computer, wie sp*t ist es? (Dammit. What the hell. Computer, what time is it?)” His natural rasp was thickened by sleep and indignation. The fantasy of his dream was someone he wanted to return to - or visit across the house - but the constant chime gave him no option to do so.

“The time is 0237 hours,” came the gentle yet monotone reply.

Another rumbling complaint tumbled from his lips.  He had yet to open his eyes. “Bei den Himmeln. Erinnere mich am Morgen.  Schalte es aus. Scheiße. (By the heavens. Remind me in the morning. Turn it off.)”  Lukas shifted on his mattress to roll back to his side. He released a low grunt when the chime sounded again.  “Verdammt, was ist das?! Was zur Hölle ist so wichtig!? (What is it?! What the hell is so important?!)” he shouted as he sat upright and smacked his palms on the comforter that fell to his legs.  He blinked and lifted his hands to rub the sleep from his eyes. It’d been a difficult transition back to the daily grind after the incident with the Solka-Het and this was the first night that he’d gotten to bed at a decent hour.  It was beyond frustrating to be woken in the dead of the night.

The feminine voice answered calmly.  “There is a priority one, urgent message from the Earth Transport Authority, regarding a transporter accident on Stardate 71854.8.  Immediate response is required.”

“Transport Authority?  Accident- Scheiße.” He threw the covers off his legs and scrambled out of bed.  There was no thought to how he was dressed, his loose shorts low on his hips and without a shirt.  Bare feet thumped loudly on the stairs as he all but ran to the office space. Irritation and drowsiness were quickly replaced with worry and dread.  As Lukas recalled it, his family had been set to make a trip to Mars so Bodie could check out the Daystrom Institute campus. Hurried steps brought him to his console and he dropped into the chair as he typed to receive the message.  Light blue hues stared at the screen.

An older gentleman appeared on the screen, his features carefully guarded.  The sad glint in his brown eyes gave a hint of his heavy emotion. “This message is for Lukas Behr.  I’m Richard Vanderbilt with Earth’s Transport Authority. Mister Behr, I’m contacting you with some unfortunate news.  Yesterday,” he paused to glance down at a PADD, “Armon Behr, his wife Elsie, son Bodie with wife Lisette, and daughter Rosine were involved in a transporter malfunction.  It occurred when Adelina Behr stepped off the pad. The patterns of those involved are still within the buffer, but it has been determined that there is no chance of survival.  As the next of kin, we need your permission to release their patterns from the buffer so they may rest in peace.” Richard looked up from the device and focused on the screen. “As named in legal documents, guardianship of Adelina Behr transfers to you, Mister Behr.  I understand you’re quite a distance from Sol, but social workers are handling as much as we can here. We simply need your response regarding the buffer and a signature accepting transfer of care of Adelina.” He waited a moment before allowing his sorrow to reach his expression.  “Mister Behr, I’m so sorry for your loss. We look forward to hearing from you.”

He stared at the blank screen, shocked.  The universe had stopped and all Lukas could feel or hear was the heavy arrhythmic beat of his heart.  The intense pressure in his chest was caused by both the weight of his emotion and forgetfulness. A deep breath eased some of the ache but it pushed him into motion.  His fingers moved over the surface of the console and he played the message again. The German officer propped one elbow on the desk and rested his temple into his palm.  He closed his eyes and listened to the steady voice repeat the tragic news. Each time he reached the end of the recording, he tapped to play through it again.

For hours he played the subspace message over and over again.  He heard the words but could not absorb them. He couldn’t fathom that his family was suspended in a pattern buffer and waited on his word to die.  Logically, he knew the malfunction could occur. He knew exactly what had happened to cause it. There was just no sense that it was his parents and his siblings that were caught.  His brain could not make the connection. Eventually, he slumped forward and rested his head on his arm. The void of thought and emotion drained him physically and he fell asleep with his finger on the replay button, causing the video to loop continuously.

Eventually, the noise pulled him from slumber.  He startled awake and sat up, blinking at the screen as he watched the message for the umpteenth time.  Lukas could nearly speak the words along with Vanderbilt - they’d filled his nightmares. A soft grunt fell from his lips and he pushed to his feet.  “Es war kein Traum. Es ist echt. Was mache ich? (It wasn’t a dream. It’s real. What do I do?)” The German pulled himself up the stairs, his steps carrying him in the opposite direction of his room and to Jane’s bedroom.  He tapped on the panel and made his way inside without pressing the chime. Even in the dark, he knew where the bed was. He simply knelt onto the mattress, lowered to her side, wrapped his arm over her, and curled against her warmth.

Jane was a heavy sleeper.  There was something about being enveloped in her bed that always allowed her to linger in the deepest of dreams and she was never keen to leave the imagined world.  The warmth that surrounded her, however, was a true comfort. It pulled her from the black and white scenery of surreal visions and a soft contented sigh escaped her as she rested her head against what she thought was her pillow.  The deep inhalation filled her lungs of his scent and the surgeon sidled closer towards him, her arm draping over his waist. “Altri cinque minuti (Five more minutes),” she muttered, lips brushing lightly over his skin.

His arm tightened around her and he silently delighted in the feeling of being close.  It was a brief feeling as the repeat of the video he’d heard all morning played in his head.  “Jane,” he murmured as he tucked his chin to cage her against his body. “Jane.” Lukas was starting to grasp what exactly had happened on Earth and his thoughts started running away with him.  ‘They’re gone, my family is gone.  I have to take care of Lina- I’m too young to be a dad.’  He groaned quietly as he imagined the judgements that people would make when they saw him with his niece, believing that he’d been irresponsible and had a daughter.  ‘But I can’t not take her in, there’s no one else.’  He sighed heavily.  “Jane,” he called again to wake her.  “Bitte.”

“Vai a dormire.  È troppo presto. (Go to sleep.  It’s too early),” she murmured against his chest.  Her body practically wrapped around him, bare legs tangling with his and her fingers curling into his side to hold to him as if he was nothing more than her side pillow.  “Mangerò un dannato hot dog se mi lascerai solo dormire. (I’ll eat a damn hot dog if you’ll just let me sleep.)” Her voice was raspy with her fatigue, the haze of sleep turning her already smokey voice deeper and sultry.

He whined softly at the mixed signals he was receiving.  The tone of her voice would normally drive him crazy with lust, but his mind was simply not there.  “Jane,” he tried again, more insistently. “I need to talk to you- I need help. Bitte!” The operations officer pulled away slightly and glanced down at the woman.  It was only then, and after his eyes had adjusted to the darkness, that he saw she was naked. A quiet gasp stuck in his throat and his body froze. A very small part of him was excited by it, but it was hardly enough to outweigh his need to talk with her.  “Jane!” he shouted. The mess of limbs and sheets that followed happened so quickly that he barely recognized her yelp of surprise. He tried to hold her when she rolled away, tangled in the sheets, and fell off the edge. The tug on the comforter and the help of gravity pulled him along with her as they tumbled to the floor in quick succession.

One second she was jumping over fluffy cotton candy clouds of beautiful blues and the next, she was ripped from the calm of her beautiful dreams when a voice cut through the illusioned world to reach her.  Her body slammed against the hardwood floor, though she was unsure of how it happened. She only knew that her name made her attempt to sit up and she was hindered by sheets and limbs. A heavy grunt had all air leaving her lungs when she felt a weight slam over her and she curled in upon herself in a poor attempt to soften the blow.  The back of her head bounced with a sickening crack, the ornate rug that decorated the polished hardwood barely managing to stifle the sound. She blinked several times and saw stars in the dark. “Che cazzo!” she yelped, the words scratching at her throat. There was barely a beat before she thrashed against the weight over her, scratching and clawing at the shadow that hovered over her.  Panic was quick to settle in her bones. “Lukas! Aiutami! Qualcuno è nella mia stanza! Lukas! (Help me! Someone’s in my room!)”

He immediately pushed back to escape the flurry of nails, resting against the mattress behind him in an effort to stay out of range.  “Jane, it’s me! I’m here!” The German reached to grasp her wrists as he straddled her waist. He’d never heard her call out in such a way, so he had no idea what she’d said, but she called for him twice.  Lukas could only imagine that she thought him someone else. “It’s just me,” he reiterated when she continued to struggle against him. It almost made him forget why he’d let himself into her room.

Energy left her fighting limbs and the surgeon could only blink several times as she attempted to adjust her eyesight to the low light that filled her room.  It took far longer than normal for her panic to subside before she could understand what was happening. “Lukas?” she gasped softly, finally relaxing completely.  A few more blinks and she could only stare up at the operations officer. “Stronzino! Che cazzo, Lukas?! È ancora buio! Stavo dormendo! (It’s still dark outside!  I was sleeping!)” The medical officer shifted slowly and realized her state of undress. Her hand flattened on his chest as she shoved him away and quickly gripped at the blanket to keep herself modest.  

That one he’d heard before.  He frowned and shook his head against the characterization as he raised his hands in innocence.  “Jane, I need your help- I was just going-”

“It’s called a replicator, Lukas.  Gods. You’d think at your age you’d know how to-”

“I can’t replicate my family.”  The words left his lips before he could stop himself.  His features fell and his body slid to one side to sit next to her.  He leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees and held his head up by gripping his short brown hair.

The snappy retort simply died on her tongue before she could even comprehend the meaning of his revelation.  Jne turned her chin to look at her best friend, her irritation melting to concern when the haze of sleep and irritation cleared completely.  “What?” she asked softly. Jane held the thin sheet to herself as she shifted on the floor to sit beside the German. When he didn’t answer immediately, her hand rested on his shoulder and she leaned her head so that it was in his line of vision.  “Lukas?”

He lifted one hand to cradle her head as he slowly closed his eyes.  “I got a message from Earth. They’re in a pattern buffer, no chance of survival.  Adelina jumped off the pad-” His voice wavered and he leaned toward her. Speaking it made it true.  The void of emotion and thought returned and it left him cold.

“No chance?  At all?” Her voice was soft, barely audible.  The news was shocking in so many ways. Transporter accidents were rare in their time, but it didn’t mean they didn’t occur.  Still, she’d heard of many instance of people being stuck in the transporter pattern buffers. Pattern degradation occurred, that’s why secondary and tertiary systems kicked into place.  That was the extent of her knowledge of such systems - and only because Lukas had once taken to explaining the technology at length because apparently it was fun.  There was no thought to the ache in the back of her head or how only a thin sheet kept her modest from him.  Her arms wrapped around him and her hand rested on the side of his head to hold his ear to her chest. Jane’s mouth opened and closed but there were no word to give voice, so she lingered in the silence to comfort him.

The shake of his head was minute in answer to her question.  All he could do was focus on the beating of her heart. For several long moments he was silent as thought slowly came back to him.  “I have to give them permission to release their patterns from the buffer,” he whispered, his voice thick with emotion yet eerily empty at the same time.  “And then Lina is transferred to my care. Aunt Millie and Uncle Kurt can’t take her.” His father’s siblings were distant from their family and probably didn’t even know that Adelina existed.

She was silent for several minutes as she processed what Lukas was telling her.  Her head nodded slowly. “I’m here for you,” she whispered softly. “I- You’ll have a lot of decisions to make.”  Jane’s lips formed a thin line. “Whether or not you’re staying here at the outpost- Whether or not you’ll remain in Starfleet.”  The surgeon hated even saying it. It sounded cruel and absolutely the worst thing to utter, but the stages of grief were undoubtedly going to be difficult for the German, whose natural disposition was typically cheerful.  There was genuine concern that the loss of his family would have him lose that part of him. “We don’t have any official counselors,” she whispered softly in his hair.

“I thought you could help,” he murmured.  The idea of seeing a counselor would just make it even more true than it already was.  Lukas was still very much out of touch with the reality of the situation. The questions that Jane had posed seemed unreasonable to ponder.  Why wouldn’t he stay at the outpost or in Starfleet? It wasn’t like his family made the decision for him and their death made all previous agreements null and void.

Jane had absolutely no idea how to respond to such a claim.  While she was a brilliant surgeon, she was not a trained psychologist.  The science of the humanoid psyche was a difficult one for her to grasp.  The medical officer could only hope that distracting him would help in some way.  “It’s late,” she whispered softly. “Why don’t we get you back into bed? I’ll go change.”

He mumbled quietly as he leaned back to let the Italian get to her feet.  His gaze shifted to the chronometer and he grunted softly. “I can’t go back to bed,” Lukas argued in a raspy baritone.  “Time to get up for work.” One hand lifted to grasp the mattress so he could also struggle to his feet. The comforter was still wrapped around his legs.

She shook her head.  “It’s too early,” Jane urged softly.  The Italian woman struggled to push to her feet and tugged gently at his arm.  “You’re allowed to curl in bed and do nothing right now.” Silently, she cursed at the tangled mess of sheets that kept them bound together.  “I’ll take care of everything today- You just rest.”

The German didn’t bother trying to disengage from the sheets.  All he’d heard was curl in bed and rest. The bed was right there and rest sounded really appealing in that moment.  Lukas sat back onto the mattress and lethargically pulled the comforter from around his legs. He all but fell back and turned to his side, barely resting his head on the pillow before his eyes closed and he succumbed to the void.

With a shake of her head, she watched her best friend settle on the mattress.  She untangled herself from the thin sheet and made her way to her closet, grabbing the first shirt from her mess of dirty laundry.  The t-shirt would have to do while she made the communication to the outpost to inform the operations officer on duty that she and Lukas would not be able to make it for their shifts.  Fingers gripped at the bridge of her nose as she padded to the office space they shared. The subspace message remained on the screen and Jane debated watching it. It felt like spying and opening up another’s diary.  Curiosity had her watching, however, and the Italian could only sit in horror at what the German operations officer would have to accept. The order of business was clear - contact the outpost, go through the manifest in search of someone - anyone - with the proper credentials to help him, and simply be there for the man.

   
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