Romancing the Stone: Stage II

"Diamond in the Rough"

Darrel W. Beach

Looking for story notes?  You'll find them in Chapter 1.


     Leena walked into the mess hall showing more confidence than she actually felt.  She knew she had to do this eventually, but was she really ready for it now?  Attaining closure for such sensitive issues could be strenuous, drawn out procedures, and she was already dealing with many complicated problems.  If she tried to take on too many things at once her problems would only get worse.
     She spotted him sitting amongst a gaggle of chattering crewmen, both Maquis and Starfleet, and he appeared to be enjoying the conversation immensely.  She didn't seem surprised.  He had always been a laid back individual.  A little too laid back, she had thought once.  Now she could see that it was his approach to bonding with others.  His manner, his posture, the way he talked - it was all non-threatening, an open signal that he was willing to give any stranger the benefit of a doubt.  Perhaps it was a good idea to approach him first after all.  "Lieutenant Baxter, could I have a moment of your time?"
     The parlance all but died out in response to the sudden disruption.  Walter Baxter diverted his attention from the group.  Recognizing the face of the inquisitor and her sombre expression, his smile diminished to a fraction of its normal self, replaced by a pensive curiosity.  He excused himself, addressing the table without looking back.  "I'll be back in a minute, fellas."  At Leena's direction, they moved to a more sequestered table.  "What can I do for you, Lieutenant?"
     "Please, Leena will do; technically I'm not on duty right now."
     "Okay, Leena.  I'm Walter.  What's up?"
     "I, uh, have a favour I wanted to ask."
     "What kind of favour?"
     "Uh, well, this is kind of difficult to ask."  The room seemed to be getting uncomfortably warm.  Quit stonewalling.  Just get it out.  "Please tell me what you remember about Wilton Suombattu."

End Stage II

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