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Sedrin Belasi

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Everything posted by Sedrin Belasi

  1. (( Kaitlyn Falcon's Quarters; Starbase 118 )) ::It was quiet. Far too quiet.:: ::After a wonderful night spent with Leo, the in-depth conversation began. He gave her his updates; what had happened, what he had learned, what he had done for his sister and his friends.:: ::He also told her what had to happen next... He would be leaving the station, turning over command to Sal, and he had no idea when he would be back.:: ::Kaitlyn's next question was the obvious one; "When do we leave?":: ::That was when the other shoe dropped. Leo needed Kaitlyn to remain there. Kaitlyn had immediately prepared for a lengthy verbal battle... though it seemed Leo knew exactly how to diffuse the situation. He had need of Kaitlyn's skills, but this time her most important contribution would be off of the battlefield. He would need a reliable source of supplies, something he knew she could provide.:: ::It was a blow, to be sure, but it was also something Kaitlyn could not argue against. If Leo needed her providing support from where she was, then she would provide him the best support she could.:: ::Leo had not remained much longer. Their farewells were not exactly happy, but they were hopeful at the very least.:: ::And then... silence. Her quarters seemed far more silent than they had before, even though it was still just her and Rhino.:: ::She needed to move. Needed to do... something...:: ::Then she remembered her mental note, to fire up the old sparring program and work out her stresses. A quick check with the computer found a free holodeck. She booked a reservation immediately.:: (( Holodeck 47; Starbase 118 )) ::The holodeck doors parted, admitting the civilian dressed officer onto the gold-grid-on-black room.:: Falcon: Computer, activate program Kaitlyn Spar 1, with gear. Computer: Acknowledged. ::The room around Kaitlyn shimmered, floor replaced with a hard white surface as the room faded into darkness all around her. A spotlight illuminated the center of the room, a black ring marking the floor. A similar light remained over her head, showing a table and chair form nearby. Atop the table were a line of bottles of chilled water and a duplicate of her weighted staff.:: ::She had first used a staff in combat many years ago, before she had joined Starfleet. She had been taken hostage by the Orion Syndicate, long story, and after breaking loose grabbed the closest thing she could use as an improvised weapon; a metal rod with large hexagonal nut at either end. While she was able to recover her twin phase pistols, her initial escape had been thanks to that rod.:: ::Once she returned to civilization, she got her hands on a better constructed staff and learned how to use it. While she had not yet been able to use her knowledge in the field, it did give her an excellent form of stress relief.:: ::Kaitlyn grabbed the staff, hefting it slightly to remind her arm of the weight.:: Falcon: Computer, reduce ambient temperature to 18.3 degrees Celsius. Computer: Working. ::The room started to chill as she removed her jacket and flung it over a chair. She liked working out in the cold; it meant she was unlikely to overheat, and the added pain of impact (while maintaining safeties, of course) gave her ample reason to avoid hits.:: ::Kaitlyn moved to the center of the circle, holding her staff in a two-handed ready stance. She did a short warm-up, making multiple practice swings of the staff with steadily increasing speed and sweep.:: ::Once she felt adequately stretched, she dropped back into her ready stance.:: Falcon: Computer, begin round one. ::The computer gave its acknowledging beep as Kaitlyn listened to the shuffles beyond the light, waiting for the first opponent to appear.:: ::Points of light manifested; eyes in the darkness. Two figures entered the light, both Orions in patched leather jackets and tan pants. Each had the symbol of the Orion Syndicate at his shoulder. One cracked his knuckles, the other his neck, and both charged.:: ::Kaitlyn stepped forward, thrusting the end of her staff into one Orion's chest to stop him before spinning the staff around to bring the other end's weight into his head. The blow dazed him, leaving him open for a follow-up side swing to the side of his head, knocking him down as he vanished from the program. She immediately reversed, ducking down as she brought the staff around and into the side of the second Orion's head twice. The second opponent vanished as well.:: ::Kaitlyn had encountered the Orion Syndicate many times over the years, or rather FAR TOO MANY times. The amount of harm they caused, the amount of destruction she had witnessed over the years... No minced words; she hated them. Time might have given her some distance from it, but it would never truly be gone.:: ::While at the Academy, she had asked one of her more holographically capable friends to make this sparring program for her. While training dummies were okay, sometimes Kaitlyn wanted to fight something that could fight back. Besides, it always provided excellent stress relief.:: Falcon: Computer, begin round two. ::As Kaitlyn got back into position, four new opponents emerged from the shadows. They remained in two pairs, moving around the ring to attack from two directions. Kaitlyn turned in place, keeping the assailants to her left and right.:: ::The quartet charged her, Kaitlyn snapping her staff up and around to knock each pair into each other. They staggered, three of them momentarily collapsing while the fourth managed to keep his feet.:: ::That simply meant he was the first to fall, as Kaitlyn swiftly brought her staff around for another decisive strike.:: ::The remaining trio regained their feet, though did little to coordinate their attack. Kaitlyn dodged the clumsy grasp of the closest Orion, snapping her staff behind her to crack against the back of his head. Reversing her swing, she swept the second's feet out from under him, chaining her movement to slam the other weight down against the Orion's chest. Both vanished from the program as the final Orion approached. Kaitlyn made another two-hit combination; a straight strike to the Orion's chest followed by a comical upswing between the Orion's legs.:: ::The look on the Orion's face was priceless. Kaitlyn couldn't help but smirk as he fell over sideways and vanished.:: ::Kaitlyn took a moment to breathe, using her staff as support. Typically, she would make the next round one-on-one, going up against an opponent armed with a staff of his own and getting more movement into the mix. However... Kaitlyn found she really did not feel like continuing.:: Computer: Standing by for round three. Falcon: I know... ::Sighs.:: I know... ::The escape was always nice, and as expected she had burned through the residual stress of the last mission.:: ::Yet, all it had done was remind her of the terrible new truth... She was separated from Leo once again. She had spent a couple years and several postings away from him before, and the prospect of repeating that did not sit well with her.:: ::It was necessary, sure, but that did not make it any better.:: ::Kaitlyn walked back over to the table, setting down the duplicate staff and picking up her jacket from the chair. That day, there would be no round three.:: Falcon: Computer, end program. ::The room shimmered, quickly replaced with the same gold-grid-on-black she had seen on entry. Her escape would have to come from elsewhere.:: =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Lt Commander Kaitlyn Falcon Chief Helm Officer Starbase 118 / U.S.S. Albion F237507RF0 =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
  2. DeVeau: ~But...but...chocolate...~ -------- DeVeau: ~Chooooocolate...~ ::Alora resumed the slow pull of the bag.:: DeVeau: ~Come to me, preciousssss...~ ::taps Alora's hand away.:: Moonsong ~There is a price for chocolate. ~ ::Alora straightened and eyed her friend.:: DeVeau: ~I refuse to jump up and down, scratch my head and make monkey noises. I also don't like bananas.~
  3. ((Earth Starfleet Headquarters)) Personal Log. I find myself sitting in my temporary quarters, looking out the window towards the setting sun of the San Francisco bay area and contemplating my experiences over the last few days. It's hard to describe my feelings from what I have been through, and it feels all like a mind-numbing dream, and a part of me still thinks that maybe it all was. But it felt so real. I was there, if only for a short time. Back home. Back in my universe of origin. But was I? It seemed so real. The sounds, sights, smells. It felt real and maybe that was enough, even if it wasn't. But while there, I was offered a choice. An awful choice and when I chose and returned here, it was as if not one single second had passed. But to me, it felt like an eternity. As I prepare myself to return to duty, I can't help but wonder what, if any of the consequences would have been for me should I have chosen differently. I guess I'll never know. But one thing is certain, I will never forget this particular return visit to Earth. It all started when I arrived a little more than a week ago. ((Time Warp - Home of the Townson Family - Earth)) ::The house loomed large in front of Tracey as she gazed along the pathway that led to the front door. She stood there for a moment gripping the handle of the hover-stroller tightly as the fall colored leaves swirled at her Starfleet issue boots. She knew she was heading into uncharted territory and had not been home for quite some time. In fact, this was not her home at all, but the home of her namesake who ended up in a different universe on that fateful day she found herself here in this strange, peaceful universe.:: ::Tracey slowly made her way up the pathway towards the black front door of the home and after climbing a few steps, she breathed heavily for a moment and looked into her hover-stroller as a feeling of almost panic gripped her. The smiling and cooing Romulan infant inside however brought a sense of calm back to Tracey as she mustered up the courage and lifted the ancient door knocker. Before letting it drop she looked at the intricate details on the carved iron-clad ancient device and she found herself chastising herself for feeling so insecure. She had battled the Dominion in a relentless war in her universe of origin. Watched friends and family die, walked the battlefields where the stench of death and charred flesh from phaser fire pervaded the surrounding environment. So why was she so scared of this, she thought? With that in the back of her mind, Tracey let the iron knocker drop and a loud clank could be heard from within. Moments later the door opened a crack and then further as an older lady stood and smiled.:: Cynthia Townson: Tracey. ::smiling:: How wonderful it is to see you. Tracey Townson: Thank you. I hope I am not intruding. Cynthia: No no! ::opening the door wider so Tracey and the child can enter:: Please. Come in. ::Tracey smiled nervously as she pushed the stroller ahead and entered the home. She looked around the home that was in the same neighborhood she grew up in and in the same location she remembered, but the home itself was just so much different. This was an estate compared to where she grew up. Her home was much smaller and looked nothing like this one did. Tracey entered the hallway and looked around in awe.:: Cynthia: Anything familiar? Tracey: ::stealing her eyes away from her surroundings and focusing back on her mother she slowly shook her head and tried to smile a bit:: I am sorry, mother. The neighborhood is familiar to some extent but the layout is just so different. This is a much larger home than that which I remember, for example. Cynthia: I see. ::with a hint of sadness in her voice she attempted to change the subject as she loomed closer to the hover stroller:: So this is the little one I first met on DS26. Tracey: ::following the older woman's gaze:: Yes, mother... ::looking at her mother:: My apologies. Cynthia: ::standing up straight and putting her hand up:: No. Please. I am pleased you think of me in that way. Tracey: I know you must miss her terribly. Cynthia: I do...:looking away for a moment:: but it has been so long. Sometimes I forget. Tracey: Are you certain you will be able to do this? I do not wish to burden you. Cynthia: ::turning back to Tracey and smiling:: Anything for my daughter, and I do have help. Your uncle Sorel has taken a permanent residence close by and will assist me. Tracey: I don't believe that Starfleet is any place for children. ::looking down at her adopted Romulan infant.:: And he needs special attention. Cynthia: I know. You've always thought that way. ::There was a long silence between the two of them as they watched the child in the stroller falling asleep. Tracey then leaned down and placed her real left hand on the cheek of the child and whispered in Romulan.:: Tracey: Heis'he Hvaid. Arhem ssaed llhnae. Krenn hwio nhrai erh'na shikaen Townson. (My love Hvaid. I will return. Here you will become part of the Townson family) ::She then kissed the boy on the cheek and stood up and looked at the woman who was her mother in this universe.:: Tracey: I thank you once again. As soon as you find yourself overburdened, please contact me. I shall attempt to find other accommodations. I can't live outside of Starfleet, and I cannot take him with me. It is a difficult choice for me. Cynthia: I know, Tracey. Don't concern yourself. I am here. Tracey: I wish I could bring your daughter back to you. ::Once again there was a long pause as the two women stared at each other. Then Tracey's mother spoke.:: Cynthia: You have. In you. Tracey: I must go mother. Cynthia: ::nodding solemnly:: I know. ::smiling:: Now don't worry, Tracey. He'll be fine. Better than fine. ::With those words, Tracey felt a sense of calmness wash over her like she felt in her mother's presence when she was a child. Tracey smiled warmly then gave her mother a hug before giving one more tearful goodbye to her Romulan son, and then left to return to Starfleet headquarters in San Francisco for her new assignment.:: ((Earth Starfleet Headquarters)) Personal log - Supplemental All was going just fine as I arrived here in San Francisco for my briefing and to await my new assignment. In my free time, I would try to relax and had called my mother many times to make sure all was OK. She kept on reassuring me all was fine and I was happy that my mother found someone who could speak Romulan to Hvaid so that he would understand his native language as he learned to talk. On a few occasions I would even head to the Academy grounds and watch the Cadet exercises on the grounds. But as the Academy was not far from Starfleet medical, where I was housed in their Psychiatric ward for two years, I would sometimes find my focus to shift towards that building and the window to my old room, recalling those days when all I knew was fear and anger and sadness. It felt like an eternity ago, but how quickly those memories could return. Who would have thought all those years ago, that I would now be fully integrated into this universe's version of Starfleet, and a full Commander at that? Certainly not I. Especially after that Kobyashi Maru test. But lo and behold. I made it. So two days ago, I headed back to the building I once called home and decided to pay my Psychiatrist a visit. It was that day that I faced my fate and the choice I was confronted with that I made. One that I really hope was just a figment of my imagination. ((Starfleet Medical - San Francisco - Earth)) ::Tracey entered through the familiar doorway and headed inside the building she was an in patient at when she first arrived to this strange, peaceful, universe. She made her way through the busy, bustling corridors and arrived at a main desk. The nurse on the other side looked up at Tracey and her eyes opened wide when she noticed the pips on her collar and then quickly stood at attention.:: Townson: Please. At ease, Lieutenant. I am looking for the office of Doctor Samuel Huff. Lieutenant: Yes, Commander. ::Tracey watched as the woman worked and then looked up questioningly at Tracey.:: Lieutenant: You are aware that Doctor Huff is a Psychiatrist. Townson: Yes. Now if you will, Lieutenant. ::The Lieutenant gave Tracey the information she needed and Tracey went to visit her old Doctor. All went well and after about a two hour conversation, Tracey took her leave and headed back to Starfleet Command feeling proud and happy that the Doctor was impressed with her progression and that she was much more integrated into this universe than she ever imagined she could be. She entered a turbolift that would bring her to her temporary quarters and there were four people inside. The doors closed and turbolift moved along on its trajectory. Three of the officers were of Lieutenant rank and one was a Captain. The Lieutenants were standing at attention and Tracey nodded at the Captain. The lift stopped short of Tracey's destination and the three Lieutenants quickly exited the turbolift. The doors closed and the lift continued. Suddenly the Captain, who was behind Tracey, spoke.:: Captain: You no longer come to attention in the presence of a superior officer, Commander? ::Tracey frowned at the question then turned towards the man behind her who was now wearing a black uniform with red trim and had a phaser on his belt and a communicator that was no longer part of his uniform. Her eyes moved towards the stripes on his sleeve that represented that of a Captain. The uniform was exactly that of a Captain in her universe of origin.:: Townson: Who are you? Captain: I am a Starfleet Captain. And you are to come to attention in my presence no matter what the circumstances, Commander. Or have you forgotten your training in this universe? ::Tracey did as the man said but kept her eyes locked on the man waiting for him to make a move. He didn't and in that moment, Tracey tapped her com-badge.:: Townson: Starfleet command security... ::The Captain smiled.:: Captain: They can't hear you, Commander Tracey Townson. Townson: I'm sorry. I don't know who you are. ::Tracey remained at attention but was ready to attack. Her false right hand was rising clandestinely ready to be used as a weapon if necessary. She didn't have anything else to defend herself with.:: Townson: Who ever you are, please return me to where I was heading. Captain: I will return you. In due time. But first I wanted to let you know that we have been watching you. At ease, Commander. ::Tracey relaxed her posture and looked over the man's uniform. Every detail was perfect. It was if he knew of her Starfleet.:: Townson: Me? Why? Who are we? Captain: All in due time, Commander. ::The man snapped his fingers and Tracey knew her uniform had changed as well. She raised her right arm all the way up and looked at the stripes of that of a full Commander.:: Townson: What are you doing to me? Captain: I am giving you an opportunity to right a wrong. Townson: ::shaking her head:: How? ::Suddenly the lift started moving again. Tracey turned to look towards the doors of the turbolift that changed to a sickly familiar sight. She turned back towards the Captain and he was gone. Then the turbolift rocked and almost threw Tracey to the ground. It was the telltale sign of an attack. Tracey looked at the steel workings of her now uncovered false right hand which she used to keep herself from falling by bracing herself against the turbolift wall.:: Comm: =/\= Marine contingents report to cargo area 57. Triage units report to deck 22 section 57. Commander Townson, report to the bridge. =/\= Townson: I'm back...ev...everything I knew is gone. Captain Riley, Captain Waltas, Captain Blueheart, Doctor Sampi, Doctor Velana the Tiger, Independence, Discovery, Atlantis, Avandar. My time at Starfleet medical. My rise back through the ranks. Hvaid! Everyone! Everything! They are all gone! ::The turbolift doors opened to a chaotic scene as dead officers lay all over the bridge. The bloodied familiar face of Tracey's old Captain Roberto Cedeno turned towards Tracey and barked his orders.:: Cedeno: Take the helm, Commander. Fast! ::Tracey ran from the turbolift towards the helm and threw the bloodied body of the dead officer in the seat to the floor. Tracey sat quickly and could feel the liquid blood of the dead officer on the back of her uniform as her fingers danced over the controls of a configuration she had not used in years.:: Townson: Three Jem'Hadar battlecruisers flanking us. Attempting to find an escape route. Cedeno: Hyperwarp now, Commander! No time to be pretty! Townson: Yes, Captain. ::And with that, Tracey pressed a button on her console after entering coordinates that would hopefully not have them colide with the battle-cruisers and closed her eyes as the battleship Resolution jumped to hyperwarp. Tracey then slowly opened her eyes and turned towards the Ops station and the Captain who had brought her back to this universe smiled this time in a uniform with Lieutenant's stripes.:: Captain/Q: Good work, Commander. ::Tracey sighed as she jumped from her seat and headed towards her former Commanding officer who was badly injured in his Captain's chair. Captain Roberto Cedeno looked up at Tracey's yellow eyes and spoke softly and his breathing was labored.:: Cedeno: My injuries are grave, Commander. If I don't survive, I trust you with this ship and crew. Never give in to the Dominion. ::Then the medics arrived and began to care for the Captain. Tracey turned back towards the Captain that brought her here and spoke to him quietly.:: Townson: Please tell me this is a holodeck scenario. Captain/Q: No. This is as real as your so called life gets. Would a holodeck capture all this? The smells, the tastes, the feeling? Townson: ::pausing and looking over her bloodied uniform and then looking back at the Captain.:: No. But why? Captain/Q: Now you have that which you really wanted. Your returning to your universe of origin, and your own command. Townson: ::looking at Q sharply:: Captain Cedeno will not make it? Captain/Q: No. Townson: Then what...what about me? Captain/Q: I am certain you'll be a fine Captain. I can go now. have you decided to stay? Townson: No no. That's not what I mean. I mean me. The one who was me here? Captain/Q: Ohhhh ::scratching his chin and nodding:: Well she's just, you know. Gone. Like everything else from that strange, peaceful universe. Townson: Can't you just put her back to that universe where she came from? Captain/Q: ::shaking his head:: Sorry, us Q have no powers in this universe. If we bring someone here, the other will just disappear. Like poof. Townson: Q? You are a Q? So that's it. I read about you while studying in the other universe. ::A voice from the back of the bridge sounded.:: Voice: Commander Townson! We're are draining energy reserves while at hyperwarp. Townson: Then drop us out. Be certain no enemy warships are in the area. Voice: Yes, Commander. Townson: ::to Q:: I...I can't do this. My life...my child is in another universe. I can't be responsible for the loss of all that I had and the loss of an individual who was here and made a life, no matter how bad, here for herself. You should give this...gift to the one who was here. I don't deserve it. If anyone should disappear, it should be me. I stole her life. I couldn't live with myself if I stayed and took her life once again. It was bad enough I did it once. ::Announcements for ship repair specialists began chiming through the Comm as Q looked at Tracey.:: Q: I could send you back. But you'll never have this chance again. Are you sure. Townson: ::nodding:: Yes, but if you can, remove her memories of her time in the peaceful universe. I know from experience, it would be easier. Q: It is your choice. ::Q then snapped his fingers and they were both on the turbolift at Starfleet headquarters in their Starfleet uniforms of the peaceful universe. Tracey felt for her three pips on her collar with her now covered right prosthetic hand and realized all was back to the way things were.:: Q: Welcome back, Commander. All is as it was. I hope you make the best of things. We will be watching. ::Q then snapped his fingers again and disappeared. The turbolift doors opened to the sterile air of the hallway ahead that lead to her temporary quarters and she paused at the doorway to the turbolift and looked back inside and wondered if all that happened during that short trip real or not.:: -TBC- Commander Tracey Townson Intel USS Invicta H237708TT0 -- Envoyè depuis mon palm pre
  4. Sal Taybrim: Hello rock, meet hard place. That is now going into my daily vocabulary.
  5. Taybrim: He was beginning to wonder how Leo managed this all the time without going mad. Then again maybe Leo was mad, and he just never noticed. On second though, nah, Leo was too well grounded to be mad. He just must have the patience of a saint. A little from column A, a little from column B...
  6. Taybrim: He breathed an audible sigh of relief when he caught sight of Commander Falcon. Not only was he personally glad to see her, but back in the depths of his mind he knew Leo would have his hide if he came home to Falcon in sickbay. Or worse: the morgue. Aye, Leo is rather fond of his red-headed lady...
  7. ((Promenade, two decks above the main brig - StarBase 118)) ::Seth Ralston was having what he liked to think of as a 'working lunch' Except in his line of work, the working part was far less clear. For all intents and purposes he was a well to do trader enjoying a delicious and exotic meal on the promenade of StarBase 118. He had picked a sampler platter from the Al-Leyan restaurant on the corner and was in the middle of savoring every little bite like a gourmand. The food was good, but he wasn't really there for the food. The sampler platter simply drew out his eating, allowing him to spend more time sitting in this prime location and observing the traffic of the area without raising suspicion. He was just some guy enjoying alien cuisine. Not an immoral, merciless bounty hunter with his mind set on murder. Except in his mind it wasn't murder. Murder was personal, a crime of passion. This was a simple killing. There was a difference. This was dispassionate - a simple fact of life. Someone knew too much, they needed to be eliminated. He didn't really care who it was beyond the precautions he would have to take in order to get the job done. Starfleet had nicely trussed his subject up and stuck him in a jail cell. That was a minor setback - getting past Starfleet security was a pain. But on the other hand it reduced his all too slippery subject into a sitting duck. The biggest trouble would be to get in, get the job done and get out before Starfleet started shooting. Ralston knew the rules full well. Shoot a drifter and nobody cares. Shoot a Starfleet officer and you'll be hunted to the ends of the Galaxy. It was presumptuous and unfair, but true. Contracts on Starfleet officers always fetched a pretty penny in return for being some of the most dangerous to pull off. The killing part was easy - the not getting part caught was hard when it came to Starfleet. Ralston tended to avoid those contracts - too messy, too much preparation. So he didn't really want Starfleet on his tail because of an accident on his part. He had spent the better part of the afternoon observing and memorizing Starfleet's patrol patterns. Locating the security cameras, mapping the station, planning his route. He had a pretty good idea of how to pull it off. He needed a distraction, a small power failure, a way to mess with the backup systems and a little bit of luck. Fortunately he had most everything taken care of. The first thing he had done upon reaching the station was to find a way to get near the power grin and place a small black computer box into the workings. It was a gamble - such devices would be found with routine checks - but he was betting the rest of his plan would come together before the nightly maintenance went though. He would rig the distraction while he shopped, and access to the backup systems. If he moved fast it would be in, out, done. He could escape through the ventilation system and be back on the promenade before they could declare his subject dead, and off the station by the end of the night. Finishing his meal he headed to commercial sector, two floors below. Spending some time browsing, he came upon the 'Menagerie' - an exotic pet shop. He indulged in looking at all the animals, touching the cages and talking to every creature there. And on each cage he left a tiny black patch by the lock. Enough that when he sent out a pulse, every patch would amplify his signal and demagnetize every lock simultaneously. Then he headed out and back up two floors where he skirted the Starfleet patrols and gained access to a Jeffries tube. Time to move quick. He knelt down, working the magical part of his plan. Explosives were all too quickly picked up by security scans - normal explosives at least. Which was why he was allowed in to the little secret that Grek wasn't supposed to share. He took out a small container of grey powder - Calcium Trisulfanese, a fertilizer for terraforming projects and opened the container. Then a flask where he poured a generous libation of the sparkling golden liquor over the top. Mixing until it formed into a ball the consistency of modeling clay, Ralston smiled. He held in his hand a thoroughly innocuous looking ball. Safe to carry, safe to break and press into molds. Safe until it was hit with phased or charged energy, when the whole mass destabilized and exploded with impressive force. It was perfect for a job like this. Packing his things up, he hustled to the backup junction. It was dark, humming with just enough power to make sure the system was at the ready in case it needed to be used. Press a little of the clay here, and a big chunk there... it would stick happily in place until Starfleet powered up the backups. And then... boom. It was a thing of beauty. He backed out of the area, heading at a junction for the ventilation system, making his way towards the Main brig from above. He could feel the electric crackle of the force fields and security systems from over a dozen meters away, and he took the time to silently creep forward and locate the players in this little drama. Starfleet, Starfleet, Starfleet. The freighter captain was leaving, and there was the hybrid. Beaten up. Good. That would slow him down. Seth Ralston indulged in a grin as he pulled his devices from his coat. One magnetic pulse emitter, that was the first thing he turned on. Then the computer hack, signaled to start as the device interfaced with the power junction. It would take 67 seconds for the device to cause a lapse in the power and Ralston used those 67 seconds to swap in the modifications that turned his perfectly legal Rigellian phase pistol into a deadly long range weapon. There was a crackle of the forcefields and the lights flickered. Showtime.:: ~*~ tbc... ~*~ MSNPC Seth Ralston Bounty Hunter hired by Unsavory Sorts Simmed by: Sal Taybrim
  8. ((Main Engineering)) :: Ashley strode into Main Engineering, purple eyes glancing curiously at all the equipment and crews goings abouts. He was on a search… as was usual for *some* crewmembers… for his next appointment. One Cadfael Peters, who he had last seen unconscious on the shuttle that had acted as his method of rescue from the Asphodel. But if the man was back on duty, he was healthy enough to attend a scheduled appointment. He wasn’t going to let people think he was a pushover about these things. :: :: Cadfael wasn’t known for avoiding the required sessions, though with all the transfers in his record it’s possible one or two sessions may’ve gotten lost in the administrative shuffle; and Ashley wanted to… as a Terran would say… “get the drop on him.” :: :: What this counselor wanted, this counselor got. :: :: Finding his mark hard at work at a panel, Ashley made his move. Silent and stealthy, he stepped up behind Peters to make what would be an apparently sudden appearance, his hands clasped behind his back and smile in place. :: Yael: Lieutenant Peters, I presume? :: Ashley let the man turn around and gather himself from the interruption. :: :: Peters heard his rank and name, grateful perhaps that the voice hadn’t recited his serial number and turned around slowly. :: Peters: Yes, ensign. How can I help you? Yael: Counselor Yael. ::nodding his greeting:: When last we met, you were quite unconscious. You’re feeling better now? Peters: Yes. Provided I don’t need to go back into Sickbay any time soon. Yael: Excellent! Then you can accompany me to the main counseling office for your routine evaluation. :: It wasn’t phrased as a question, though his polite smile stayed firmly in place. :: Peters: Routine? Are you sure you aren’t confusing it with my annual? Yael: Whichever you prefer to address it as, Lieutenant. :: The engineer’s brows furrowed momentarily, and he blinked a few times to formulate the words before he spoke again. The Denobulan smile was creepy, and a little disorienting. :: Peters: I had my annual eval when I came aboard, with Counselor Sheridan. I’m sure you’ll find his last note in my record. Though if you’re insistent this is mandatory after I had my ears blown apart, I will accompany you now. Yael: Consider it a Quarterly Update, with your injuries in mind. ::pausing, his smile never faltering:: Lieutenant, you seem a little frustrated? :: Peters gave a small huff of exasperation and picked up his tools. The console diagnostic would keep, and he was sure one of the other engineers would catch the results if he was still being held hostage by the counselor. :: Peters: Tends to make me a bit irritable when they get told “You need to drop everything and go to counseling to make sure you’re considered fit for duty.” If you want to discuss my case with Counselor Sheridan, go ahead. I’m sure he’d be more than happy to accommodate. :: This guy was downright annoying. Vance, at least, was personable. :: Yael: Counselor Sheridan is not posted at Starbase 118. I’m sure you understand that we counselors leave copious notations for our crewmembers future care, should we be personally absent. As for having you drop everything, unless it’s an emergency, it isn’t as important as your health, is it? :: The question was bluntly stated, yet still eternally polite, presented with a smile that said “I will stand here and harp at you as long as it takes.” :: Yael: You see, Counselor Sheridan himself noted you may attempt to *avoid* seeing a different counselor, should they not be persistent in seeing you. ::he paused, head [...]ing to the side slightly almost humorously:: Of course, you would *never* conduct such a professional sleight against a well-meaning fellow crewmember, would you? :: It was a load of bait. Ashley had had difficult clients to catch before, and had found the firm approach quite successful at ending their days of running away. If they knew a persistent Denobulan might creep up on them at any second, they’d at least be in the mood to get it over with, leading to them coming to him. :: :: It was also worth noting that several pairs of eyes belonging to the engineering staff were now quite interested in their conversation. :: Peters: You have no idea how much I would love to conduct such a sleight against you right now… :: His words were caked in sarcasm, but never the less picked up his tools and motioned for the Denobulan to lead the way. :: Yael: I like to know the crew I serve, Lieutenant. Humor me, and I’ll leave you in peace. ::pause:: Until your next regular bi-annual post-injury psychological update is due. :: He paused, then he gave Peters an easier smile. :: Yael: Just joking, Lieutenant. :: Stronger insults hinged on the edge of his tongue, and he didn’t like the fact this guy was starting to get on his nerves. Bringing up the bi-annual post-injury psych eval just made his mood less friendly. So instead of cursing the man out in front of the other engineers, he settled on the mildest one he could think of, in reference to a Star Wars beast of some sort. :: Peters: You...son of a gundark, you…. Yael: ::grinning, turning to lead the way out:: Flatterer. :: Cadfael’s mood had gone from chipper to angry in five minutes, just by talking to the Denobulan who seemed hell-bent on making his day a nightmare. There wasn’t anything he could do about it except humor Yael, then maybe earn five minutes or longer of uninterrupted work. The fact Vance was no longer posted to Starbase 118 just made it worse. Peters didn’t dignify that line with a response, inwardly thinking of all the ways he could punch the man’s lights out so he could get back to work. The thought of a court-martial flashed briefly through the engineer’s mind. :: Peters: oO It’d be worth it… Oo ((Main Counseling Office - 5 minutes later)) Yael: Please help yourself to the replicator. Or, I have some Denobulan coffee prepared if you’d like to try it. :: Ashley stepped up to the desk and poured the bluish, steaming, liquidated tree bark into a mug, waiting for Peters answer as he took a seat at one end of the couch. :: Peters: Coffee’s good… :: he took the offered seat as far away as he could manage from the creepy yet annoying Denobulan, not usually the sort to want to punch a guy after ten minutes. :: Yael: ::heading right into things:: I’ve been informed you and Vance Sheridan were close friends. You must miss him. :: That just stung, and Cadfael picked up the cup of Denobulan coffee. Every reminder Vance was gone just drove the knife deeper into his mind. He had a friend, then lost him because of a transfer. And he didn’t think he’d trust another counselor again. :: Peters: Don’t go rubbing salt into the wound, alright? It’s none of your [...] business anyway. :: Ashley’s smile never wavered, but he did manage a very slight expression that amounted to “tisk tisk.” :: Yael: No salt intended, Lieutenant. But the answer is very much there, isn’t it. ::the anger was definitely an answer of sorts:: Have you had many close acquaintances on the Starbase aside Mr. Sheridan? :: Cadfael’s muscles tensed, and he tightened his grip around the coffee cup. While he probably couldn’t break it, he was considering throwing it at the counselor just for being annoying. The smug grin on his face was creepy and annoying at the same time, and again the questions just pried open the fact he missed Vance. :: Peters: Look, doc. Not your game, alright? You don’t need to know whether I have any friends or not. :: There was a pause as Ashley set his mug down, before shifting slightly in his seat, hands folding easily in his lap as his purple eyes set solidly on Peters. :: Yael: Lieutenant, it is in fact my “game.” If I believe your habits to be unsustainable, negatively impacting you on a personal level, or downright unhealthy, I can… and *will*... pull you from duty. ::pausing:: Not to mention, as a professional favor to Counselor Sheridan, I have been asked to keep a “close eye” on you, as it were. :: The smile went from stern to wry all without changing very much at all. It was very much an expression rooted in the eyes, expertly masked and yet expressive all at the same time. :: :: The anger in Cadfael’s eyes burned through his otherwise neutral facial expression and he sipped the strange coffee in order to prevent himself from speaking. He sat in silence for several moments, unblinking. He didn’t relax, and wasn’t in the mood to play “be civil to the counselor” at all. He wasn’t Vance. :: Peters: Professional favor? :: It was a very pointed question, but that’s all. :: Yael: Yes. His personal notation in your file was vibrantly stated, and I intend to follow through with his request. ::continuing regardless:: I think it’s admirable, that you’ve earned the worry of a good friend. It demonstrates something of your character. :: Albeit, not the part that was currently glowering at the Denobulan. :: :: Cadfael sighed, and set down the coffee. He didn’t seem to notice he was now out of coffee, nor did his posture relax at all. It was clear he wasn’t going to win, but he did not feel comfortable around this guy after spending the last however long it was since they met wanting to punch him in the face. oO He isn’t Vance. Oo :: Peters: And what would that be? Yael: What do *you* think it is? :: Ahhh, the classic answering of questions with more questions. Ashley knew he was pushing the man, but it was the approach recommended to him, and he was sticking with it until proven ineffective. Peters’ anger would be something he might have to chip away at over time. :: Peters: That’s why Vance asked you to look after me, isn’t it? So you could tell me? Yael: No, Lieutenant. That was my personal observation. :: By the stars, was this Denobulan a smug little bugger…and personal observation be [...]ed. It was going to be a living nightmare to get this guy humored. :: Peters: So...what, you want me to warm up to you? Tell you whether or not I’m socially inept and awkward with everyone who isn’t Vance? Tell you about the Darwin and how everyone ignored me because I was caught in a space pocket? The Victory, where I can’t remember much of anything except the Sickbay? The smug yet intriguing little gremlin I met in the previously mentioned rift who wound up saving my life? My stupid and desperate maneuver to wire one implant into the ship’s comm system so I could hear the orders that were part of your rescue? The dual EARS implants? :: He stopped, furious at Yael for even bringing up the personal observations in the first place. Professional favor or not, apparently Vance’s loss affected Cadfael more deeply than he knew. And it hurt just relating these things in a string of questions he didn’t want to answer that were bound to come up anyway. :: Peters: oO What the bloody hell is wrong with me? Oo :: Even expecting an outburst, Ashley was surprised at the intensity. He’d been expecting *something,* sure… but not *that.* Purple eyes widened slightly, and he let Peters digest the moment of silence that came once he appeared to finish. He certainly didn’t want to interrupt if the man wasn’t done. :: :: After a moment, a kind smile on his face, he asked gently… :: Yael: Did that feel okay, getting all that out? You *have* been through a *lot,* haven’t you. :: Again, not actually a question. :: Peters: No slag, Ensign Obvious. Care to tell me something I didn’t know? :: He was irritable, frustrated as all hell, and this smug little….It was annoying. Some portion of him wanted to walk over there and clock him one across the jaw as he leaned back in the chair, silent for a few more moments. The tears of frustration started to blur his vision, and he blinked them back before he shed a few. :: :: The Lieutenants ire had certainly been earned, and the anger was obviously rooted in some serious emotional turmoil. But Ashley was less concerned with the engineer “warming up to him” than he was helping the man learn to actually process that anger, and possibly find the next Vance. Peters didn’t have to *like* Ashley. That was beside the point. :: :: What was more important was the microexpression Ashley had thought he had seen glance across Peter’s expression after his outburst. One of shock. :: Yael: I’m going to pencil you in for a bi-weekly session, Lieutenant. I believe you can greatly benefit from learning some anger management techniques, which will allow you better ability to socialize with your fellow crew in the future. :: Bi-weekly sessions. Great. He was going to be seeing this smug little frack twice a week for the rest of his career until such time as Cadfael didn’t need Ashley’s help anymore. This could only get worse from here. Why is it he got along fine with Vance and the new chief of engineering, but lousy with this guy? Maybe it was the persistence in the Denobulan’s manner or maybe that [...] smug grin that wouldn’t go away. He blinked a few more times to keep the tears at bay and just narrowed his eyes at the counselor as though daring him to provoke so he could throw a punch and walk away. :: Yael: ::indomitable in the face of the sizzling lieutenant before him:: It may be difficult going for you, but you may find yourself at peace with yourself… if you give it a genuine go. But for the moment, I suggest you find something relaxing to do. I’ll let engineering know you won’t be returning today. :: Enforced introspection wasn’t his preferred method, but he didn’t want the man to simply bury himself in work to attempt to forget all he’d said here. :: :: Keeping him from engineering was like taking away a canine’s favorite chew toy for punishment. And someone in the heavens was definitely punishing him. This was going to be a living hell for the rest of his tour on the starbase. :: Peters: You... :: He couldn’t finish the thought and finally, the [...] broke as a single tear streaked his face. Pure anger gleamed in his eyes, hands clenched tightly into fists as he started toward the door. :: Yael: Lieutenant. ::meaning to halt the man for one last moment:: :: Peters paused in his tracks, wanting to wipe that smug little grin off his face. But there was nothing he could do except walk away before he put himself in sickbay for a broken hand. :: Yael: Please keep in mind, it isn’t my intent to torment you. I do what I do entirely for your benefit. :: It was the only thing the Denobulan said without a smile. :: Peters: Yeah right. :: and walked away without another word, clenching his eyes shut to prevent further tears. :: END === Lieutenant JG Cadfael Peters Engineer Starbase 118 Ops 0239002CS0 & Ensign Ashley Deneve Yael Counselor Starbase 118 Ops http://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php/Yael,_Ashley_Deneve
  9. ((Freighter Anatoli - Captain's personal bathroom suite)) (nine days ago) ::Seth Ralston raised the still-hot tip of the silenced phase shift disruptor to his thin lips and blew on it. There was no smoke - gunpowder and bullets hadn't been used in his line of work for centuries, but he had always been a fan of Terran 'old western' holovids and at times like this he fancied himself the spitting image of an old frontier bounty hunter. Before him Captain Grek's eyes bulged out of his head as he sank below the fragrant bathwater. Little bubbles filtered up to the surface marking Grek's last breath as his killer went silently to work. It wasn't hard to access the Ferengi's computer nor was it hard to destroy his trade records. The hardest part would be tracking down everyone that Grek had brought in to his trade network - and who might know the nasty little secret the Ferengi uncovered. His employer Drin Jerol has made it quite clear: no loose ends. Fortunately Ferengi loved contracts. And contracts gave Ralston a perfect list of people to find, follow and eliminate. No loose ends.:: ((Geneva VI Cargobase - Security Station)) (Four days ago) ::So far, so good, Ralston had tracked own the other five contacts in Grek's network. One left - and of course the last one proved to be the slipperiest of all. It was always that way. Nothing could ever be easy. Now he was standing in a shabby security office that served as both an evidence room and a trophy locker for Vintam Dalreth, the dimwitted mob boss that served as the owner of Geneva VI.:: Dalreth: I told you. He's dead. ::He tossed a sample case that had a small amount of charred remains in it.:: I'd love to say I fried him myself, but the plasma fire took care of it first. Ralston: I see. ::he nodded, taking out a scanner. Yes, the DNA matched his target, but Seth Ralston was an expert at tracking people. It was clear Vintam Dalreth was not. Seth was looking for different things - not the least of which included not just a presence of the right DNA, but the correct amount of it. At base, there just wasn't enough remains here to be an entire body. Of course a plasma fire was a nicely thorough destroyer of remains, but if this Rohan was as much of a survivalist as his history lent Seth to believe, he doubted the hybrid would get caught in a plasma fire to begin with. No, Seth Ralston was quite sure Zel Rohan was alive. Not that Dalreth needed to know that:: Ralston: ::Whistling at the charred little pile in the box:: Yes, I guess he most certainly is. Dalreth: ::smirking:: You should pay me for taking care of it for you. Ralston: technically I should pay your faulty circuitry. ::he dig in his pocket and toss a small bag of latinum towards Dalreth:: maybe with that you can hire a decent engineer. Dalreth: ::he snorted:: You got what you came for. Now get out. Ralston: ::a smooth smile:: I'm going... ::Hands up, he retreated, never even giving his name...:: ~*~ ((Passenger Ship Shangri-La - In the vicinity of StarBase 118)) ::After a nice thorough search of Geneva cargobase, Ralston decided that his quarry had, indeed, smuggled himself out of the area. So he had taken to some old fashioned detective techniques, and started listening in on every commline he could catch in a several lightyear radius. He figured that sooner or later the right information would come to him, and soon enough it did. It was something minor, a stowaway report on a freighter that had left Geneva VI. It was enough of a lead that Ralston was sure to follow. Problematically the destination was a Starfleet run starbase. Despite being Human, Starfleet bases were Ralston's least favorite places to hunt. They tended to have excellent security and plenty of naive, do-gooding officers all ready to stick their noses into other people's business. And his entire reason for tracking down loose ends was to do damage control and stop people like Starfleet from investigating what his employers were up to. He didn't like it. Operating on a Starfleet base meant being careful and patient, and yet he wanted - needed - to eliminate his target before the target had a chance to talk to Starfleet about what he knew. Because once Starfleet knew, there was no containing the secret. And Starfleet was a nasty animal when one started killing off its officers. Ralston didn't like it at all. Then again, he could always hope for one quick murder of a meaningless drifter and enough misdirection to make Starfleet drop their investigation. It would have to work, and he had to get there quickly. Time was running out. No loose ends. He repeated it to himself like a mantra. No loose ends. ~*~ tbc... ~*~ MSNPC Seth Ralston Bounty Hunter hired by Unsavory Sorts Simmed by: LtCmdr Sal Taybrim
  10. ((Starbase 118: Counsellor’s Office)) ::It was incredible how routine visiting the counsellor had become. Kellan’s conditional return to duty after Counsellor Sheridan’s breakthrough with him on the Einstein, which had stipulated that he would need to continue with regular therapy sessions, had led to a change in career goals and an increase in Kellan’s confidence after a breakdown that he had expected would see him locked away and medicated to the point where he would live his life as a vegetable. Then it had become clear that he wasn’t in Ravensville any more - this wasn’t some fabricated alien reality designed by cruel tormentors to watch the young Bajoran respond to one unbearable stimulus after another. This was real, actual reality, where you could be surrounded by people who wanted to help you reach a point where you could function from day to day and reach a point where no-one had to be your crutch around the clock. Someone had served that role for him once before, and Kellan didn’t know if there would be a day where he would ever not regret the way he had treated that man.:: ::It couldn’t have been more clear that counsellors were allies. When Counsellor Sheridan had transferred from the Einstein, Kellan had continued with a new counsellor, an older human by the name of Rosemary West. He hadn’t liked her quite as much as Sheridan, but they had got on well, and he had continued to progress under her care, to the point where his work had evidently attracted enough attention for him to be offered a department chief role. He wondered who he would be meeting this time.:: ::He pushed the chime on the office door to announce his arrival. He was prepared for there to be a wait as he was aware that appointments sometimes ran on. The door opened almost immediately, though, and he walked in to find the office empty other than a young-looking Denobulan Ensign. Denobulans had a reputation for being easy to get on with, so it seemed his luck was in.:: :: Ashley had taken to his office easily, skipping the whole decoration part for the moment. His sudden placement on the Starbase after his rescue on the Albion had taken him aback, and he felt utterly unprepared. First thing was first… the PC’s… the priority cases… as well as updating himself concerning the senior staff. He had only had time to skim the files, unfortunately, before jumping in head first into the thickness of his first appointments hefty case file in more depth. Not that he hadn’t done this at a rapid pace before. There were methods to this madness, thankfully. The entry of the Bajoran crewmember was his cue, and as was his method, he clasped his hands behind his back in that easy way he had… a way that almost guaranteed an avoidance of the traditional handshake other species seemed to hold to. He gave the man a smile and allowed him to enter and introduce himself. :: Kellan: ::Smiling:: Hi, I’m Lieutenant Kellan, here for an appointment at 1400. Yael: Quite right, good to meet you Lieutenant. Counselor Yael, at your service. ::pausing:: I’ve had just a few moments to go over your file. It appears you’re a regular visitor. Kellan: Yeah, I’ve been having regular sessions and it would be good to set some up here as well if you can fit me in. ::Given what was recorded on his file, the Bajoran was fairly sure that he wasn’t going to get any resistance on that front. In fact, it was quite likely that the request would be turned around the other way and he would be instructed to report for sessions rather than having to ask for them.:: Yael: Certainly, we can do that. ::knowing the complex and very *thick* file would suggest such a thing, and glad the man had volunteered rather than waiting to be voluntold:: But rather than leap into the thick of it off the bat… :: Ashley made himself at home at one end of the comfortable couch at room’s center, pouring two mugs of freshly brewed Denobulan coffee at the table before it. The liquid was slightly bluish in color, rather than the typical black or deep brown. :: Yael: … I’d rather we took a few moments to enjoy a proper cup first. If you don’t mind, of course. :: Giving them both a chance to easily chat, giving him a chance to gauge the Bajoran’s mindset and allowing him to set the pace. :: ::There was only one problem with that idea, which was that the ‘proper cup’ contained some weird-looking concoction that Kellan had never set eyes on before. He leaned forward and sniffed at it warily.:: Kellan: What’s it a proper cup of? Yael: This is a traditional Denobulan coffee. It’s made from a common tree, from which we grind and roast the bark, mixing it later with a dilution of its sap. It’s quite vibrant in flavor and has only a mild stimulant. ::It didn’t smell too bad. Even though Kellan wasn’t particularly sold on the tree bark description, he figured it was worth a try. It couldn’t hurt, really, and he didn’t tend to be over fussy about food and drink.:: Kellan: Sure, why not? It’s worth a try at least, right? :: Ashley only smiled, glad to see the man willing to give it a shot. Openness to new experiences was a trait common to those who aspired to the Fleet life, so could be called a healthy impulse. :: ::The Bajoran engineer settled on the other end of the sofa, picking up one of the mugs and resting it on the arm. The room was familiar, yet unfamiliar. There were things about it that were immediately comparable to the counsellor’s office on the Einstein, but others that were not. Part of him felt at home here, while the rest of him felt slightly awkward. He knew it was important for that not to become a barrier, though, so he decided to try his coffee. It was just slightly too hot, so it was an extremely small sip, but the verdict was…:: Kellan: I like that, actually. It’s not quite as bitter as Terran coffee. Or raktajino. That stuff could turn your eyeballs inside out. Yael: Gah… ::visibly disturbed by the very mention of the Klingon drink::... agreed wholeheartedly. Kellan: I feel like raktajino is like this acceptance ritual. Like, you know, if you don’t order a raktajino from the replicator when you go there then you’re not part of the gang. Did you ever find that? ::Maybe it was just on the Einstein, but he would certainly be interested to know if it was the Starfleet equivalent of being a jock, or an A-teamer. He’d given up after about two cups and decided to plough his own furrow.:: Yael: ::thinking on it, then, with a grin:: That sounds as if it could be true. I’ve had a similar introduction to *it.* Kellan: Well, I guess that’s the benefit of being Chief Engineer. I get to choose what the drink is. ::He smiled and took another sip of the interesting beverage. He didn’t really intend to play games here, but he did want to let Counsellor Yael know that he was confident about the role he’d been assigned to on the starbase. He wasn’t going to let it swamp him, and he knew it was going to be important to make his mark on his staff as well as on the base itself.:: Yael: ::a glint of humor in his eyes:: So long as you avoid programing every drink to become a glass of water with a goldfish… ::eyes landing on the Bajorans::... an old friend of mine, also Chief Engineer, exacting revenge for a previous prank. ::Kellan smiled in amusement. He hadn’t thought of that. It would be a good way to play a joke on his colleagues, though, if he felt so inclined.:: Kellan: Sounds like a fun character to be around. Yael: He was quite interesting. A tragic soul, but a vivacious and passionate personality. ::If one could call his old friend Chase’s hot-dogging “passionate”.:: I always wonder now, what mischief the Engineering Chief is up to. :: And he meant that generally, as in all Engineering Chiefs, and he gave Kellan a properly amused look of suspicion. :: ::Still chuckling away, Kellan found his eyes drifting towards the lone pip on Yael’s collar. He didn’t really think anything of it, as all counsellors underwent the same training before they could be assigned to active duty. He decided to use it as another leg up for a conversation topic, settling down a little more comfortably as he did so.:: Kellan: So is this your first posting? Or have you served anywhere else? Yael: Don’t let my rank fool you. ::the Denobulan chuckled lightly:: I’m not fresh from the Academy. I’ve some experience under my belt, and recently returned to active duty after an extended Leave of Absence. Kellan: Oh? ::The Bajoran was aware that extended leaves of absence weren’t usually taken for the happiest of reasons.:: Was everything all right? :: Mentally Ashley had to steel himself. He hadn’t tried this next part before… but he knew, with what he knew of what Kellan had experienced, relating to the man from the start in a profoundly honest way might be the best way to gain his trust. He wasn’t exactly looking *forward* to it, but it felt like the right path. :: :: And his days of hiding were supposed to be over. :: Yael: I was taken off active duty after experiencing a kidnapping and rather extended session of enthusiastic torture by a drug lord on Duronis II. :: He paused after the words left him with deceptive ease… it was nowhere near “ease,” to be sure… his eyebrows almost imperceptibly knotted together ever so slightly… then continued with a few more details. :: Yael: Afterwards I spent approximately six months under psychiatric care, and another year healing on Earth. Although, the time near Starfleet Headquarters gave me an excellent opportunity to study up on the specialty concerning Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. ::The sofa suddenly felt quite a lot less comfortable. All those times on Varo II when he’d been caught trying to steal food to sustain himself and Heril. He’d never been held and tortured, but he understood pain, and there was something behind this counsellor’s words that he felt he recognised.:: ::He realised he probably shouldn’t have asked.:: Kellan: I’m sorry, I uh… ::he floundered for something else to say.:: Yael: ::lifting a hand to dismiss whatever platitude he suspected was coming:: It isn’t something I want to tiptoe around any longer. I’m a big believer in “owning” one’s experiences, as it were. Taking control of them makes it harder for them to control us. :: He had placed those final comments in a more shared sense, insinuating that Kellan might also benefit from a mindset of personal strength in the face of adversity. :: ::A little off balance, mainly because he hadn’t expected that he would encounter anyone who actually understood what he’d been through rather than just doing a very good job of being sympathetic, Kellan nodded slowly.:: Kellan: Yeah, Counsellor Sheridan said something similar. ::The human had done the bulk of the work in helping Kellan come fully to terms with his experiences in the Ravensville simulation.:: I guess you’ve read my file? Yael: I have read your file, yes. ::pausing, he [...]ed his head to one side slightly, smile solidly in place:: I assure you, you will have to work *very* hard to surprise me. ::The Bajoran actually quite liked the fact that there were a lot of things he wasn’t going to have to rehash or explain in detail. When a counsellor change came along, it helped that there was continuity.:: Kellan: Hopefully that won’t happen. I just find it easier to cope with some things if I can talk about them. I mean, I feel like I’m doing well enough, but there are maybe a few things that I could work on and be better at, if that makes sense. And honestly, having regular sessions makes me feel supported, so you won’t have to go hunting for me round the station at any stage. Yael: Excellent news. I’m glad to hear you’re doing well. Your most recent file additions were quite inspiring, if you didn’t know already. :: Having turned the tone a bit low himself with his harsh but seemingly successful admission, Ashley now moved back to something positive to replace it. :: Kellan: Well, that’s good to hear. I was pretty happy to get offered a chief engineer position, honestly. Especially on a starbase. I don’t think I’ll be short of a few things to do. Yael: Too true. I do hope you excel at delegating. Kellan: What, you mean being bossy? ::He smiled again.:: I can do that just fine. Yael: I’ll believe that when I see it. :: The Denobulan was being good-natured about the common issue, not being accusatory. Chiefs were notorious workaholics, in his experience. :: Kellan: ::Confidently:: You will. I mean, I can’t promise I won’t work a bit of overtime during really busy spells, but there’s no good burning out, is there? And you can’t think if you’re too tired. That’s when mistakes happen. ::It sounded almost like someone else was talking through him, or he was reciting from a book. Those were things he did try to stick to, though. If the Chief Engineer was making mistakes through exhaustion then there was no telling what the repercussions might be.:: Yael: Would you say you’re well prepared for the role? Did it come as a surprise to you? ::Kellan took in a slow breath and turned around a little on the sofa, tucking up one leg and wrapping his hand around his cooling cup of coffee as he thought about how best to answer.:: Kellan: I feel like I’m prepared, yes. I shadowed the Chief Engineer on the Einstein for a while before I transferred over here, and I did a lot of reading up on the differences between keeping a starbase and a starship running. There’s no warp care on a starbase, obviously, so that means things are simpler in one way, but the fact that there are so many different facilities aboard, some of them unique, means things are much more complicated in another. I’m really looking forward to it. ::He took a longer sip from his mug. The drink was definitely a hit.:: Kellan: Was I surprised? I still don’t really believe I’m here. I thought I was going to have to plug away for years before I had a chance to progress. I didn’t know that they let you move up through the ranks if you were having counselling appointments, but apparently they do. I just didn’t really connect that seeing a counsellor doesn’t mean you’re automatically unfit for duty. ::He was also aware he’d been doing something right, so his approach to his life and his work since his switch to a gold collar had to be much improved from when he was wearing teal.:: Yael: ::chuckling as he took another sip of his drink:: No one ever believes us when we say such things. Counseling is entirely to your benefit, and all that. Those who shy away from us don’t tend to discover what you have… the secret is out. :: That the “head shrink” wasn’t out to gobble up your secrets for nefarious means. :: Yael: If I might move into a professional recommendation, on that note… ::pausing slightly::... your previous success indicates to me that one should not “fix what is not broken,” as Terrans are prone to saying. Do exactly what you have been doing, as much as you are able. Or in other words, change as little of your established routine as possible, at least in the short term. :: The short term, to a typical overly-patient Denobulan, meant in the new few months. :: Yael: Priority number one is adapting to your new role without derailing your progress. ::Kellan hung on the counsellor’s words. That had been key to his success so far.:: Kellan: I understand. Yael: It would be entirely normal to experience some pushback during a time of change, where you might feel you are regressing somewhat. Be certain to take the liberties you need as you move forward. Kellan: What do you mean? Like, give myself time off if I get stressed? ::He wanted to make sure he fully understood what Yael was recommending.:: Yael: If you feel it is necessary, yes. Or use other outlets. You’ve said you’ll be coming to see me regularly, that’s one. Holodeck time is another. There are also your hobbies, don’t forget them just because you’re an all-important Chief now. ::he said this in a positive way, with a grin:: They can be easily forgotten when we become overwhelmed or stressed. Kellan: Yeah, that’s true. ::He could recall a few occasions where he’d been thinking about heading to the holodeck for the afternoon, but had sacked it off and just sat on the couch eating junk food.:: Yael: What *do* you do, aside your profession? :: Ashley’s interest was two-fold. What hobbies a person took to told one a lot about them. It also opened up opportunities for socializing, which a Denobulan was rare to avoid. Unless it was something altogether terrifying, like orbital diving. :: Kellan: Well, I quite like boxing, but I’m not very good at it. I had a lesson from one of my old friends from the USS Vigilant a while back, just before I transferred, and enjoyed it. I don’t mind getting hit ::because a punch to the face or body barely seemed to register in comparison to some of the things he’d been through - he hoped that wouldn’t need explaining:: and I enjoy the challenge of having to think about tactics while you’re defending yourself and looking for openings. Yael: Boxing… good old fisticuffs. It does apparently have its draw. Afraid I’m not the right type to engage in it, but I do understand the appeal. ::pausing:: Anything else? Kellan: I took up running recently as well, actually. I was looking for something else that involved exercise, but where I didn’t have to go down to the gym. I’d rather be outside running around than cooped up inside. ::Well, depending on who was using the gym of course. Sometimes the view in there wasn’t all that bad.:: Kellan: I use the holodeck mostly, and I try to use a new program every time I go. There are hundreds, and they keep getting updated, so I don’t think I’ll ever get bored. Yael: Do you ever run with other crewmembers? Or do you interact with them in other ways? ::Kellan winced at the question. He had a feeling this one was going to get him some heat.:: Kellan: Uh, no… not so much. Usually I go running on my own. It’s good to get away from everything and just run sometimes. I did used to go and hang around in the ship’s lounge with a few friends on the Einstein, but I don’t really force the social side of things. If I’m friends with someone then I’ll spend time with them, but maybe not in massive groups just for the sake of it. Does that make sense? :: So he kept his friends close, and kept most others at bay? At least, that’s what Ashley heard behind the spoken words. :: Yael: I do understand. ::pausing before pushing a little deeper:: Do you know many of the starbase crew? Kellan: I do know a couple of people on the starbase already, yeah… ::He tailed off. One of them he was happy to have been reunited with, and was looking forward to finding the time to catch up with them. The other, he was very concerned about what would come of them being posted together, even though he was actually even happier to have found him again than he was to have run into his other friend.:: Kellan: Actually, one of them… well, I was going to talk to you about them. Yael: ::an eyebrow perking up in curiosity:: An old flame? Or perhaps, a rival? :: For work or play, either was a potent combination. Old friends could renew both the spirit AND old difficulties. :: Kellan: Old flame. It was me that screwed things up between us. I can see he’s still pretty angry about it, or cold, or whatever. Doesn’t seem keen on me being around is the overriding message. I don’t really blame him given how I broke things off. :: He, an old flame. Something that had not been in his file, but not at all an issue. Denobulans were known for their liberal social policies regarding family and orientation, after all… having three wives, who in turn had three husbands apiece, led to such things being complicated, but considered utterly natural. :: Yael: That’s unfortunate. If I may ask, what led you to break things off? Kellan: I was going through a tough time. Things weren’t exactly peachy for him, either, but we got assigned to different places. I got the Einstein and he got… I don’t even remember. I couldn’t face saying goodbye because I was upset we were being split up, so I just… ::he dropped his face into his free hand.:: I sent him a letter. Didn’t call him, didn’t try to see him. That was like, 6 months of a good thing right down the toilet because I couldn’t bring myself to try to figure things out and just assumed the worst. ::That was probably his biggest regret for a long time. When he looked up again, it became clear that he was deeply embarrassed by what he’d done more than he was upset. He’d had some time to come to terms with it and decided what he wanted to do, long before he’d met Richard again.:: Yael: I see. ::it was clearly an action that bothered the Bajoran:: Then perhaps this is a good opportunity to mend that tear. Not that you should pursue a relationship at this time, but that you could seek to resolve the conflict. Allowing him to say his peace in the matter may be hard for you to hear, but could resolve some of your *guilt* in the matter. ::pausing slightly, setting down his mug:: When we think we’re going to bed alone at night, we’re largely incorrect. We must be able to sleep peacefully with ourselves, after all. :: Every sentient being knew that battle. The one where the question of who they were, of their self-worth, came crawling into their mind when the lights were low and the bedroom silent. :: ::Oh boy, that would probably result in a death. Kellan wasn’t afraid of talking to Richard but he did think he understood how badly he’d hurt him. He felt like he could see some of it in that meeting.:: Kellan: You think that’s a good idea? :: Purple eyes set on the Bajoran carefully. He didn’t want to encourage something Kellan wasn’t prepared for yet. :: Yael: *If* you believe it may be beneficial in the long term, yes. The true answer may be if you are going to be put in a position where you will see or work with him often. Otherwise… laying low may well be in order. It’s your determination to make. ::Kellan smiled ruefully into his coffee cup.:: Kellan: I’ll be seeing him every day. Maybe I should bring on the showdown. :: Ashley couldn’t help a slight chuckle, but his expression translated into “oh no.” :: Yael: That may well take the answer out of your hands, then. ::Yes, it did, rather, didn’t it?:: Kellan: The only thing that makes this more complicated is that I still love him. I don’t think I ever lost that. But I know I can’t just walk right up to him and tell him that, otherwise there’ll be a boxing match for real, probably. I do want to fix this, preferably in a way that makes things better for him, but if there’s any chance of a salvage operation then I’d like to try to take it. Yael: Then, if I might make a suggestion…? ::He’d been hoping he might say that.:: Kellan: Please do. Yael: Whatever you may think *you* want from him is aside the issue of *his* mindset concerning you. With this in mind, I would suggest you attempt to… play the chameleon. Blend back into his view without making waves. Allow him to show you what he does… or does not… want from you. Give him the time he needs to process your presence. I do not believe it will be long before he tells you, verbally or otherwise, where he stands. You can make your move from there. ::So, in other words, let Richard take control and take things at his own pace.:: Kellan: That sounds like it might work. ::He felt a little encouraged.:: It’s definitely worth a shot. So, you think do the showdown thing first so he can get some stuff out of his system and then try to take it easy? Play things by ear? Yael: “Showdown” might be a bit dramatic. ::smiling at the man:: However badly things ended, it’s possible your expectations might be a little exaggerated. I doubt you’ll be pulling your six-shooters. :: He was trying to say this kindly while still being brutally honest. :: Yael: Approaching him may well see you rebuffed, rather than rebuked. But yes, I do think you should approach him. Make certain he knows you are not ignoring him… then allow him the space to decide what he needs and wants. ::Kellan stopped to think for a moment. He had been predicting some kind of apocalypse, or a beat down in the corridor, hadn’t he? It wasn’t so much that he was afraid of that happening as it was that he wouldn’t have blamed Richard if he reacted that way. Whatever had happened between them, he knew he wouldn’t hurt him, not in that way.:: ::In fact, it struck him that this was really the only thing that he was really afraid of right now. The fear of rejection. He needed to face it head on, like he had everything else, and be prepared to play the long game to prove to Richard that he could trust him again. If that led to friendship rather than anything else then he would have to live with it. In the meantime, he also needed to keep on top of his duties and continue to capitalise on all of the progress he’d made over the last year.:: Yael: Depending on his response, it may require stoicism on your part. Be prepared for anything, but expect nothing… that’s more of a personal policy of mine, admittedly. ::It was sage advice again, and he would certainly give it his best. He’d learned to cope with pain, negative emotions, irrational fears… maybe this could be tackled in a similar way.:: Kellan: I think I can do stoicism. We can talk about this in future sessions, can’t we? I think it’ll be easier to hold everything in if there’s somewhere to let them out again at some point. Yael: Certainly. I’m here whenever you feel you need me. ::Well then anything was possible, wasn’t it? Taking the risks Kellan was going to take would be a much easier thing to do if he knew there would be someone he could talk to afterwards.:: Kellan: Thanks. I appreciate that. I’ll let you know how everything goes. :: Taking that as a cue, Ashley set his mug to the table. There was a slight clanking sound as it hit the table, jittering slightly in a somewhat unsteady grip, but it did not spill. Moving on as if all was well, Ashley stood and smiled one last time at his guest. :: Yael: Please do so. It would be good to hear this situation has been resolved for you. :: Allowing Kellan to depart, the Denobulan-hybrid opened the man’s file and began taking notes, logging his recommendations and other details that might be important down the line. It was nice to start off with a crewmember he didn’t have to hunt down first. :: ::Meanwhile, as Kellan walked down the corridor, he felt as though he’d just been given an in to solving what had looked like an insurmountable problem. He would have to expect setbacks, but maybe he wasn’t staring into an irreparable rift after all.:: A JP by Ensign Ashley Yael Counselor Starbase 118 & Lieutenant Kellan Joran Chief Engineer Starbase 118
  11. Matthews: Hey Smurf ::A smurf, Udas had come to learn from Matthews, was an ancient Earth cartoon. They were blue with white hair. All similarities ended their. Andorians were vicious warriors, scientists and politicians. Smurfs ran around in the woods.:: Udas: Hey yourself. ::looking Matthews up and down.:: You'd think just once you'd come your bloody hair.
  12. ((Starbase 118: Holding Cells)) ::Chen sat with his arms folded over the back support of the chair he'd wheeled out from behind the nearby guard station console. He'd spun it around and re-settled himself after sitting in view of Lukic for a good ten minutes, just watching him. With the seat backwards like this, he could lean forwards towards the cell and really pile on the pressure. He didn't need to tell Lukic why he was there. He didn't need to bombard him with questions. He certainly didn't have any desire to indulge in the interrogation methods that some of his black-collared compatriots might on other installations - on occasion, they would forget that they were Starfleet officers and cross more than one line. He didn't even have Sabina Tiam with him. This was about psychological pressure and winning the mind game that Lukic had started when he'd decided to try to play everyone in the Black Tower for fools.:: ::Lukic had begun by trying not to look at him. Then he'd tried turning his back on him. Now, the Serbian was sat in the corner of his cell, hands in his pockets with a resigned look on his face.:: Lukic: You're going to sit there all day, aren't you. ::It was more of a statement than a question, as though he was perfectly aware of the way things would play out.:: Chen: Until I get what I'm looking for. Lukic: And what is that, exactly? An apology? Do you want me to beg to be released? Give you a sob story of how a man like me ended up betraying my uniform because of outside influences beyond their control? ::Chen took in a slow deep breath through his nose. They'd reached indignance. He could work with this.:: Chen: I don't believe you ever had any loyalty to that uniform. And if you wanted to be released, you'd already be begging. I wouldn't describe you as a man, Mr. Lukic, so much as a loose end. We know what happens to those in your line of work. ::There was a pregnant pause.:: Chen: You know what I want, because you pretended to work for me. Just like you pretended to work for other intelligence chiefs before you came here. Lukic: You want to know who I work for and what we're trying to achieve. Too bad. ::His lip curled into a sneering smile. Chen had a feeling that he was about to get the "I know my rights" speech, the one where the guilty party quoted chapter and verse of every regulation they mistakenly believed would help to save their skin. He'd heard it many times, usually from a Romulan and involving the word 'extradition' - in this case, he had a feeling he would be hearing 'court martial'.:: ::He was going to shut that down before it started.:: Chen: If you're not going to tell me anything then maybe you'd be more useful as bait. Lukic: For what? ::He looked nervous all of a sudden, even though his tone was defiant.:: Chen: As I said, you're a loose end. Not to mention a liability, being as you wound up in a holding cell instead of doing whatever it was you were supposed to do. So, suppose I file a report exonerating you and turn you loose. I'm pretty sure we'd see someone from your organisation show up on the station and make some kind of an attempt to dispose of you. ::While that was a viable plan, Chen had no intention of condemning the man to death like that. It would be barbaric. They would have to take measures to make sure he could survive before rearresting him and sending him for trial. His words, however, seemed to have cracked the veneer of Lukic's resistance. A little more pushing and he was going to start getting answers.:: Chen: For example, we know there is at least one other operative aboard, because you sent a message to them on the Albion. ::There was a long silence as Lukic considered what Chen was saying.:: Lukic: They'll kill me if I tell you anything. Chen: They'll also kill you if you don't, won't they? Lukic: ...yes. Chen: What were your orders? Lukic: I... ::He opened his mouth and blunted.:: Chen: What were your orders? Lukic: I can't! I... Chen: ::Antennae tipping backwards, Irritably:: Computer, record an official amendment to the file of Warrant Officer Lukic, Adrijan, Starfleet serial number TX-832-538. Warrant Officer Lukic is hereby exonerated of all... Lukic: NO! No, stop! I was ordered to sabotage the satellite that you had in storage in the Black Tower. Someone pulled some strings to get me assigned here. I don't know who the other operative is, we don't get told anyone else's name. Just how to send a message. That's all. ::The traitor had risen to his feet. Chen remained in the exact same position, although his antennae slowly moved forwards, back into their neutral position.:: Chen: How were you supposed to sabotage the satellite? Lukic: Destroy as much of it as possible. Emitters. CPU. Eventually the transponder, although I used that to send the burst message to the Albion. I hoped someone was aboard to receive it, so that they could have a chance to stop the Albion from deactivating the satellites. Chen: They failed. You failed. We will track this operative down and we will detain him in the same way as we have detained you. If you continue to co-operate, you will be sent for trial and most likely held in a high security stockade. That's unless you give me a reason to drop charges and have you released before then. Is that clear? ::The answer was a grim nod.:: ::The best way to drag information out of Lukic was going to be to do it in small bursts. Chen couldn't risk pushing him too far, or he could start to resign himself to the fact that he was going to be hunted down - the trick was to keep him believing that there was a way for him to survive, have him thinking that Starfleet custody was somewhere he wanted to be. For now, knowing that the satellite could still be a target and, therefore, potential bait, was good enough for him to make a few plans.:: Chen: I'll be back, Mr. Lukic. ::He stood from his seat, and wheeled it back behind the guard console. Once he left the room, the regularly posted security guard would return and resume her duties.:: Until then, I suggest you make yourself comfortable. TBC Lieutenant Commander ChenChief Intelligence OfficerStarbase 118 Ops & PNPC Warrant Officer Adrijan LukicEx-Intel Ops & Sicarius OperativeStarbase 118
  13. ((Starbase 118 Ops: Greir and Chen’s Quarters)) ::Every shift was currently a long shift. There was a mountain of work to wade through and delegating was difficult in a situation where everyone’s trust couldn’t be guaranteed. Chen had no choice but to trust a select few. Based on their actions during the Astred investigation and the ion storm, Chen felt there were a couple of officers he could rely on - Mendes, Graham, Voss and Tiam. At present, he was in the process of turning over some plans for flushing out their missing undercover agent in his mind but, after an exhausting, but quite enjoyable shift, he was ready to wind down and give his brain a little rest.:: ::He reached the door to his quarters and it slid back with a soft hiss. It struck him as quite a wonderful thing that the air inside bore the same familiar smell as it had in his shared quarters aboard the Vigilant, Darwin and Deep Space 6. Hints of Greir’s and his own aftershaves, clean fabric and tones of Masala spice chai all blended into one scent, identifiable to him and only one other person in the galaxy: home.:: ::He hadn’t walked more than five step through the door when Greir appeared from the bedroom, the pleasure at seeing his fiancé return evident on his face. His golden eyes were bright in the ambient light of the quarters and it hit Chen how much he missed him lately. Early starts and late finishes were really squeezing their time and he’d barely had time to sit down and talk to his th’se since the ion storm that threatened the station had been dispersed. He’d established that he’d been OK, and that he’d ended up lending a hand by making announcements over the comm in the commercial sector. He hadn’t been able to provide Greir with some of the specific details of what he had been up to himself, but he had been able to give him the bare bones of where he’d been, and that he’d been involved in trying to disperse the storms before they could cause damage.:: Chen: Hey, th’se. ::He crossed the living area quickly, wrapping his arms around Greir and leaning his forehead towards him, the tips of his antennae almost touching the dark blue pigmented band beneath his partner’s hairline. The expression of affection allowed him to sense his familiar warmth…:: Reinard: Hey Chen, how was your day? ::...but it wasn’t enough. In response to Greir’s question, he kissed him hungrily and insistently. His hands felt the muscles in Greir’s back relax, and it was a good few seconds before he heard him breathe in through his nose. His partner’s hands slid down his back to rest loosely on his waist, and he felt the muscles in his face moving as he smiled through the kiss. They were all signals of how much Greir was enjoying the greeting.:: Reinard: Missed me then? ::The question came during a pause for breath.:: Chen: Mm-hmm. ::And the advantage of that particular answer was that you could say it while you were kissing someone.:: ::Greir was finding the all of this attention most welcome indeed. He’d missed Chen something rotten as well, although he’d quickly realised that this must have been how his partner felt when he’d had to work long shifts as the captain of the Darwin. He’d considered that Chen would be very busy while he set up his new department and he didn’t resent him for it - in fact, while he had some spare time on his hands before final authorisation for Terraform Command had come through, he’d started to try to change his schedule so that he could always be around and awake whenever Chen was home so that they could maximise their time together. Things would stabilise soon enough.:: ::He could have stayed like that with Chen all night, but there was something he’d been looking forward to very much for a few weeks now. Some packages had arrived that morning for the wedding, but one had been a delivery that had been redirected from Deep Space 6. He had ordered it for Chen’s birthday, a long time in advance, in fact, because the item was very special indeed and he’d put a lot of thought into choosing it.:: ::He was a little out of breath and he could feel his pulse racing. Mustering his willpower, he broke the kiss, taking a step back and taking both of Chen’s hands in his.:: Reinard: There are some things we have to talk about, Chen, and I have something to give you. ::He suddenly paused, remembering that his partner had just worked a long shift and probably hadn’t eaten.:: Reinard: Are you hungry? Do you want to get some food first? ::Chen shook his head. He was a little hungry, but he didn’t want to eat yet.:: Chen: I’d like to wait a while before I sit down and eat. I want to hear whatever you want to talk about. Is everything OK? ::The Andorian’s antennae were beginning to push away from each other as he wondered whether or not Greir had run into a problem with work, or if he was unhappy with the way things were playing out on Starbase 118.:: Reinard: ::Smiling reassuringly:: They’re fine, Chen. Nothing to worry about at all. ::He’d wanted to push his partner’s antennae back into position to illustrate the point, but they moved on their own in response to his reply, pointing themselves back at him again.:: Chen: OK, so what is it? Reinard: Alright, close your eyes. I’m going to sit you down on the bed, and then I want you to hold out your hands. ::Chen complied with the instructions, allowing Greir to guide him into the bedroom. Gentle pressure on his shoulders told him when he could sit down, and he held out his hands. He was aware he was about to be given something and he was very curious about what it might be. When Greir placed it in his hands, he found it was of medium weight, and felt like it was wrapped in tissue paper. It was long enough to rest on both of his hands, so it was wider than his body.:: Reinard: You can open your eyes now. ::The excitement in his voice was unmistakeable. As soon as Chen saw the shape of the package, he had a hunch about what it could be, and he felt an onrush of gleeful enthusiasm.:: Chen: Oh, wow, this is a hrisal! ::Greir beamed down at Chen as he tore feverishly at the wrapping. He’d expected his partner to identify the Andorian sword, as he didn’t seem to miss much, but he doubted he was prepared for what he would see when it was fully unwrapped. Or it’s sheath, for that matter.:: ::Chen’s grin spread wider and wider as he removed the layer of tissue paper, then carefully unfolded the layer of navy blue silk cloth that was wrapped around the outside of the weapon. When he saw the hilt, he gasped, tilting it to catch the light as he inspected the intricate detail.:: Chen: Thirishar’s word… this is absolutely beautiful! Etheka insets? Is this hand-carved? ::Greir smiled proudly as Chen examined his gift. The etheka wood insets hilt were visible between carefully woven strands of jet black cloth, which both cushioned the hilt and helped to provide grip. The material threaded through the hilt itself in a series of thin holes, keeping it secure and in position. The carving and etching on the wooden and metal hilt depicted the scene from the Tale of the Breaking where Thirishar stood before Uzaveh the Infinite. The Tale told that Uzaveh had separated the legendary warrior Thirishar into four beings, one for each of the Andorian genders, but Greir knew that Chen had always believed the story should have been different, that Thirishar was standing up to the deity. He would never have managed to get anyone to agree to carve that onto a hrisal, but this seemed to be as good a thing.:: Reinard: Yes, and you bet it is! Take a look at the blade. ::Slowly, Chen pulled the hrisal from its etheka wood sheath. The blade itself was etched with Thirishar’s trials in scintillating detail. This was some unbelievable work by an exceptionally skilled craftsman but, more to the point, this weapon could not have suited him more. He was taken back to the sword training his charan had given him as a young chan, out in the fields near Irimari, and how he’d continued to study the discipline right through school, always keen to impress the parent he had been closest to. After Chen had broken his bond and left the homeworld, he’d severed ties with all of his parents, which had been intensely painful but hardly of his own choosing. Hrisal training had helped him to get through it, allowing him to expel all other thoughts from his mind, focusing only on how he, and his weapon, moved. And here was a sword with the deity from the Tale of the Breaking that he had always looked up to, always aspired to be. He wanted to make sure he saw every single detail of the artistry on the blade without missing an inch.:: Chen: ::Looking up at Greir for a moment.:: I love this so much. Can I look at all this etching for a minute? ::Greir took a seat next to Chen, resting a hand on his back. He could see how happy Chen was with his gift.:: Reinard: Of course you can, Chen. Take your time. ::They sat for a few minutes, with Chen examining the artistry on the blade, turning it over to look at its other side after a few moments and making sure he took in every scrap of detail. To begin with, Greir stroked his back, but ended up taking to playing with the short, spikey hair at the nape of Chen’s neck, eyes shifting between the hrisal and his partner’s face. It really looked like he’d nailed it.:: ::Only when Chen was happy that he fully appreciated exactly what he was holding in his hands did he slide it back into its sheath, leaving it sitting across his lap on top of its silk wrap.:: Chen: I don’t even know how to begin to thank you for this. This is the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever been given. Reinard: It actually came late because of the transfer. It was supposed to be your birthday and it’s a shame I couldn’t give it to you then, but I’m glad I was able to do it now. It was master crafted by an artisan swordsmith who lives about eighteen miles from your home town on Andoria. I commissioned him myself. ::Greir had never cared about the cost of gifts. He didn’t normally spend a lot, with the exception of his recent visit to Starbase 118’s commercial sector. That meant he’d saved up enough that he could buy extravagant things for people he cared about without having to worry about the price.:: Reinard: You don’t need to do anything to thank me. Seeing how much you love it means a lot to me. I love seeing you that happy. ::Chen really was lost for words. He just looked at his th’se and smiled.:: Reinard: That’s why I’ve made a decision that I really hope you will be happy with, because it’s something I probably should have consulted you about first. It’s just that I thought about it right before that ion storm scare, and I hoped that you wouldn’t mind me surprising you with it. ::Now that he thought about it, Greir was very slightly nervous that Chen might be annoyed he had altered the plans without talking to him. He wanted the wedding to be both of theirs, with both having the same controlling stake and both having equal responsibility. The last thing he wanted chen to feel was that he was being forced out of the planning side of things.:: ::Chen wondered what might be coming next. He wondered if Greir was going to have to travel to Earth or something to talk to his bosses about the delays to getting his department set up on the starbase, or to a distant planet on a terraforming mission. If he was then he was really going to miss him.:: Chen: What was it? ::The question was filled with curiosity rather than accusation. Chen knew that Greir had given up a lot so that they could be together and if he did need to spend some time away from the station then there was no way he would give him a hard time about it.:: Reinard: I’ve moved the date of the wedding, and the guests and everything we need are on the way. I don’t want to wait and wait and wait and end up never marrying you, Chen, because of transfers, missions, jobs… anything at all. I want you to be mine, and for everyone to know it. There’s a specially reserved space in my family that I want you to fill. I want to make the commitment to you that I promised to make over a year ago and I can’t bring myself to wait patiently to do it like it’s a piece of unofficial business that must wait its turn to reach the top of the priority list and gets postponed if something else comes along. You’re very special to me and it’s time we took action. ::The words spilled out of Greir’s mouth, engulfing everything that he had planned to say in an unexpectedly emotional speech.:: Reinard: Are you OK with that? When I did it, I did it because I thought you would be. I hope I’m not wrong. ::Those nerves were mounting a little bit more as he waited to hear what Chen made of that. Essentially, he’d interfered in something that they had planned together and changed the schedule purely because it suited him. His reasons had been good, as far as he was concerned at least, but now that he thought about it, there was a real chance that Chen would be upset that he wasn’t at least consulted.:: Chen: You know, I have to say I’m a little surprised. ::Greir shifted uncomfortably. This was not a good start.:: Chen: You just got me the most beautiful sword I’ve ever seen, with so many absolutely perfect personal touches. You know me better than I know myself, and you’re worried that I mind you moving the wedding so that we can get married sooner? ::Picking up the sheathed hrisal, Chen stood, giving it a temporary home on top of his chest of drawers.:: Chen: If you had told me that I needed to get dressed because the wedding was in an hour, do you know what I would have said? ::Being as it had now become obvious that everything was alright, Greir was finding it hard not to grin away at his partner.:: Reinard: What? Chen: I would have asked if we could do it in thirty minutes. Now c’mere. ::He reached out a hand, prompting Greir to stand from the bed and go to join him. Once again, they embraced, and Chen’s lips found Greir’s.:: Chen: Thank you so much for my wonderful present. And I am so excited that we’re going to be married so soon! I guess I’m going to have to cut down on the osol twists and hit the gym a little harder, huh? Need to make sure I look my best for the big day! ::At the mention of the tart Romulan pastry, Chen’s stomach growled loudly, reminding both of them, and probably the inhabitants of the quarters above and below them, that Chen still hadn’t eaten.:: Reinard: ::Laughing:: As if you’re even slightly out of shape! Now come on. Unless I’m very much mistaken, your belly has just decreed that we need to get you some dinner. And then I’m decreeing that we’re going to snuggle up and watch a holo on the sofa. ::Chen very much liked the sound of that. It came with the added option of falling asleep on Greir if he got particularly comfortable.:: Chen: I think you, and my tyrannical stomach, both have a deal! TBC Lieutenant Commander Chen Chief Intelligence Officer Starbase 118 Ops & PNPC Greir Reinard Regional Director Federation Terraform Command Starbase 118
  14. ((Starbase 118: Habitat Section)) ::Sabina walked purposefully through the corridors of one of the Starbase’s habitat areas. She had spent the last half hour in her quarters, pacing. Something that, as of late, had become far too habitual for Sabina. Her transfer to Intelligence had come with a rigorous up-training schedule and fascinating work, each consuming the majority of her time despite any remaining leave. But she had found that upon returning home in the evenings, something just wasn’t quite right. Given any amount of time without other distractions, her thoughts inevitably turned to the Noguwip. Which, eventually caused the knotted anxiety to return to the pit of her stomach.:: ::So, rather than spend another evening lost in her own repetitive thoughts, she had taken it upon herself to seek out one of the only other people who might be able to empathize with her.:: ::Standing outside Vance Sheridan’s quarters, Sabina pressed the door chime and waited.:: ::As was the norm of late, Vance had only been back home for a few minutes before he’d slipped into a post-work funk. He’d managed to wean himself off ice cream (as long as he didn’t hear the words ‘cookie dough’ spoken aloud he would be fine) before there had been any major long-term repercussions on his waistline. In fact, he didn’t really feel much like eating at all now in the evenings. An untouched Hawaiian pizza balanced awkwardly on a heap of PADDs on the coffee table in front of the sofa, which itself hosted Vance and his black stormcloud. He stared vacantly at the screen on the terminal on his wall, which was playing back a documentary about wildlife in the Serengetti.:: ::He was wearing a pair of comfortable jeans and his dad’s old hockey shirt. Despite being a couple of sizes too big (big enough that the neckline was sagging off to one side, revealing his collar bone and the freckles on one side of his neck), it reminded him of home. It used to be purple, but it was quite badly faded, and the stitching was coming undone from one of the patches on the sleeves. As if to complete the look, he’d been lying down with his head propped against the arm of the sofa for long enough that his hair was sticking up at the back, like a duck’s tailfeathers.:: ::When the chime rang, he started, coming back into focus and hauling himself into an upright position. Travelling to the door was like walking on stepping stones between piles of discarded clothes. His furniture resembled obstacles that were stacked with used mugs and plates. Very little by way of tidying had happened since the riots had ended.:: ::He made it to the door without more of an incident than tripping over a pair of track pants. When the door slid back to reveal Sabina, he regained his sense pretty quickly. He wasn’t sure who he had been expecting, but seeing a friend on his doorstep immediately had him worrying about the state of the place and what they might think.:: Sheridan: Sabina! Hi! Tiam: ::Smiling.:: Hi. ::She glanced past him into his quarters for a moment.:: I hope I’m not interrupting anything. ::As the Betazoid tried to look past him into his quarters, he found himself angling himself to try to block her line of sight to the devastation that lay inside. It was a futile effort.:: Sheridan: Nope. Nothing at all. ::He cleared his throat and mentally switched himself into counsellor mode.:: What can I do for you? Tiam: I had hoped you might have some time- ::Sabina cut herself off and, with a breath, visibly dropped her pretext.:: It’s been a long couple of days and I could use a friend to spend some time with. Mind if I come in? ::beat:: Oh, ::She held up the bottle that had previously been tucked under her arm.:: and I come bearing gifts. ::Coming back out of counsellor mode was a little less easy than jumping into it. It took Vance a couple of seconds of silence to process what she was actually asking, which probably came over as him having been momentarily hypnotised by the bottle. One part of his mind was reminding him loudly that he wanted to be on his own. The other half was unable to ignore the fact that Sabina was asking for a friend’s help.:: ::When it came down to it, he felt like spending a time with a friend would really do him some good. He’d been alone enough. He told that part of his mind to pipe down.:: Sheridan: Wow. Good choice of gift. Come on in. Just uh… give me a second to turn this place from a dump back into a habitable environment… Tiam: Thanks. ::Walking in, she began to look around the living space as the door closed behind her. Clearly, Vance’s response to the stress of their recent mission hadn’t been neurotic cleaning. Sabina did her best to hide her amusement.:: ::He started whizzing around the room, pushing bundles of clothes into heaps and stacking all of the cups and plates in one area so that they could be ferried more quickly to the recycler later.:: Sheridan: ::Under his breath:: Embarrassiiiiing… ::He fumbled for some appropriate small talk to distract his guest from the fact he was speed-tidying.:: So what did you bring? Tiam: I’m clear out of Saurian brandy. ::Her drink of choice.:: But I did have this tucked away… I don’t know if you’re a whiskey person, but it’s honied and fairly mild. Perfect for sipping. ::Well, his luck was in then. It was really too bad that Sabina had run out of her favourite drink, but it sounded like what she had brought was very close to Vance’s favourite.:: Sheridan: Sounds good! ::He cleared a couple of t-shirts and his uniform off the seats and hurled them over towards the pile, then carefully cleared everything except for the pizza from the coffee table. The living area actually looked like a living area again.:: Sheridan: Help yourself to pizza. That was just replicated a short time ago, I promise. I’m really sorry about the mess. I’m usually pretty tidy, but I guess work kind of got on top of me lately. ::She glanced at the pizza. While she had developed an affinity for the human food living on Earth for so long, her appetite wasn’t with her this evening.:: Tiam: Thanks. And seriously, don’t worry about it. We’ve all been swamped. ::Though, her quarters were immaculate. Sabina did, in fact, respond to stress with neurotic cleaning.:: ::He decided that taking the step of plumping up the flattened cushions so that Sabina actually had a fighting chance of being comfortable might be a good idea, and took care of it in short order.:: Sheridan: OK. ::He sighed, then smiled cheerily.:: I think we’re good, although you might want to just, you know, run a scan or something to make sure this isn’t still a hazardous environment. Tiam: ::She chuckled.:: Really Vance, it’s fine. Besides, exposure is the only way to build resistance! ::Helping herself to the replicator, Sabina produced two short whiskey tumblers with ice. She filled them with a moderate amount of the drink she’d brought. Enough to not seem stingy, but not as much as to imply she was trying to get the good counselor drunk. She handed one of the glasses off to him and took a seat on the couch, pulling one leg up under the other very casually.:: Tiam: ::After a deep sip of her drink.:: Before we get too comfortable, let me say, I am here strictly as a friend. Can we leave the job outside? ::Vance had been working appointments all day again, and was certainly in need of a break. Not having to think too carefully about what he said next, or avoiding leading questions or, heck, not having to write everything down? That sounded like a major blessing.:: Sheridan: God, yes. Tiam: ::She smiled.:: Ok. Good. Then let me ask you something… ::She set her drink down on the table in front of her, leaning forward with an expression of genuine curiosity.:: How have you been? ::She asked not in the way friends did to catch up, but rather with the weight of knowing he too had gone through a difficult time.:: ::Oh, they were going there.:: Sheridan: Uhm… ::He frowned, nodding in consideration of how he was going to answer, then took in a slow, deep breath through his nose. If they were doing this the friends way instead of the counselling way, then he figured he should just go for an honest answer.:: Sheridan: Pretty crappy, honestly. I tried to bury myself in work to distract myself and now the amount of follow-up appointments is starting to get on top of me. I also cried in front of the first officer, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t do much for your kudos. How about you? ::He took a drink from his glass, features expressing his concern once he swallowed the alcoholic nectar. There was no hiding the fact he was increasingly worried he hadn’t really helped Sabina during her appointment.:: Tiam: ::She ran a hand through her mass of hair, considering.:: I could say I’ve been managing fine. Enjoying leave, staying on top of things but, honestly, it’s been really difficult. Once the day’s distractions are done… ::She trailed off and took another sip of her whiskey, welcoming the warmth that came with it. She supposed no one had said honesty was easy, but still, Sabina was finding that she had become so comfortable behind a veneer of professionalism, anything less than a polished, prepared image was challenging.:: Tiam: I don’t know. I come home and it’s like the only thing left is what happened this past mission. Which, of course, is the last thing I really want to spend time pouring over. ::Vance nodded, rubbing the back of his neck with his free hand.:: Sheridan: No kidding. I was worried I didn’t help you out enough in that counselling appointment. I think you’re doing a very good job of holding everything together, though. Tiam: I’m quite good at avoidance. But hold on, let’s circle back for a second. Did you say you cried in front of Taybrim? ::Her brows scrunched in concerned curiosity.:: ::He laughed, more out of embarrassment than anything else. Perhaps he shouldn’t have said anything. Regret was painted on his face as he answered, mostly that it had happened in the first place.:: Sheridan: Yeah. I did that. He was good about it. I was explaining to him how helpless I felt when Y-rocck… you know... ::He was overtired and didn’t really have all the necessary defences in place to deal with remembering that part of his conversation with the commander. There was no way he was going to let it happen again, so he tailed off, using his drink as a convenient way to mask the fact he needed a second to get himself straight.:: ::It took him a second to stabilise himself, and another second to get his voice back. His hand dropped onto his lap and he hung his head, looking down into his glass.:: Sheridan: Sorry. You know what I mean. ::Shifting into a new posture on the couch, one arm on the back cushion, Sabina leaned her head onto her hand with a small sigh.:: Tiam: I don’t mean to be so forward about everything. It’s just, back home, when things are hard, or difficult circumstance arise, there aren’t really secrets. Everything is out in the open, discussed and eventually I suppose, settled. That’s really not the case across the fleet. ::Vance had a different view of things as a counsellor, but that was because talking about difficult circumstances with members of the fleet was his day job. Thinking about it, he couldn’t remember very many times where he’d overheard other officers talking to each other about things that were bugging them, so he really had to concede that point.:: Sheridan: I guess. People do have a tendency to keep things to themselves. Tiam: I notice Terrans, especially, seem to keep emotional issues very private. It’s hard not to pick up on that habit. ::Some humans that Vance knew were unfailingly private. They were the ones who showed up to counselling sessions and effectively clammed up for an hour, maybe surrendering one piece of information if he was lucky.:: Sheridan: It’s easily picked up and not so easily broken. I didn’t think I was private, but I guess I found out how much being able to keep my feelings to myself means to me. Maybe it’s a human failing, and we should learn to share more, as a species. ::A brief moment of quiet settled over the pair. Sabina slowly spun the contents of her glass and watched the ice settle before looking back up to Vance.:: Tiam: Did they give you a commendation? ::She assumed they did, if anyone had really deserved recognition, it was Vance.:: They gave me one. Now, sometimes I just look at it and think, what an odd thing to receive this for. Sheridan: Yeah, I got one too. I guess I’ve maybe been seeing it as a consolation prize. Validation in some way that I didn’t make a horrendous mess of the mission. ::And a reminder, too, that someone thought that his choice to doom a Starfleet ambassador twice over hadn’t actually been a choice so much as an unavoidable necessity.:: Tiam: Maybe it’s just me but, ::she chose her next few words carefully.:: what we went through on that ship, it’s got me questioning a lot. I feel a bit like I’m being dragged through Plato’s cave. ::The main question in Vance’s mind was ‘why?’ Other than taking the chance to torture three innocent people, Vance really didn’t see any benefit to what Y-rocck had done beyond making himself feel powerful and getting a rush out of inflicting pain and suffering. Beyond that, he supposed he’d spent more time feeling sorry for himself than doing much else. He’d been up and down; the night he’d spent on wingman duty for Peters had been amusing, and he’d enjoyed talking to Kaitlyn Falcon in the pub, but other than that it hadn’t been a barrel of laughs.:: Sheridan: Having your eyes opened to the world outside? ::He’d seen a diagram that illustrated the cave during his studies at school, before he’d even joined the academy. He’d found it interesting, although the ramifications of exactly what it had meant hadn’t been fully apparent at the time. Prisoners, chained in a cave, with the sun shining through the entranceway and casting renditions of life from the outside onto the cave wall in shadow. The thought behind it was that to the prisoners, those moving shadows were the closest thing to reality that they would ever experience.:: Tiam: Something like that. ::In the allegory, the journey from prisoner to one who could stand upright and look upon the sun and the world underneath it was often described as a painful one. One would, after all, resist an entirely new reality being thrust upon them.:: Sheridan: So, what kinds of thing are you questioning? Tiam: Myself, mainly. ::The corner of her mouth raised in a smirk but her eyes remained dark.:: My principles. On Betazed we have strict moral guidelines on the use of telepathy both for within our own communities and for interacting with species who are not telepathic. But during the war, after a long occupation and realizing there were no other options, many turned to weaponizing their telepathy. ::The sentiment now made her far more uncomfortable than it once did, something that was written all over her body language. Still, hating to see a good whiskey get watered down, Sabina took the last sip of her drink. And with it gained the final bit of resolve she needed to finish her thought.:: Tiam: I used to understand that. I used to try and prepare for a day when that might be needed again, strengthening my abilities and my attitudes. But now… Now I wonder if that makes me like him. ::As the conversation turned towards something that had been nagging at the edges of Vance’s mind since the riots had ended, he shifted in his seat, tucking his legs onto the sofa. One knee was tucked into his chest, with his free arm wrapped around it in a half-guarded gesture.:: ::Sal Taybrim had told him that Betazoids had a moral code about when they should and should not use their telepathy with offworlders. Sabina had just repeated that, and then told him she was questioning his morals. Suddenly, he felt a lot less safe.:: ::The idea of someone going in his mind again was terrifying. What made it even worse was that it seemed oddly compelling somehow. Uncomfortably, no, harrowingly compelling. He scratched at his knee absently and breathed in deeply through his nose as he answered.:: Sheridan: I guess that depends on whether or not you still feel it would be morally wrong to force yourself into someone’s mind. If you don’t, or if you do but then you still do it anyway, then yeah. That would make you like him. But if you don’t, then it doesn’t. ::Part of him was expecting her to just take the opportunity then and there. There was no-one else in the room. It was odd; he didn’t feel afraid, not now he knew what it felt like. He was just preparing himself for the worst.:: ::Primarily unaware of Sheridan’s deep concern, in part due to her own avoidance of her empathic abilities and in part due to being wrapped up in her own thoughts, Sabina weighed his words.:: Tiam: It’s funny, after what happened, I can’t even access the full extent of my abilities. ::She bit at her lip.:: It’s like I scare myself off. But I hear what you’re saying. Still, can it circumstantial? ::She thought back to the series of events leading to Aidris-Taree’s expulsion from SB118, the images in her mind sending chills down her spin.:: Tiam: I mean, I hate to say it, truly I do, but what happened on that ship, clearly made us impervious to the entity on the base. And without that, things could have ended up very different. So, ::She rested her head on her arm now, propped comfortably on one corner of the couch.:: do the ends justify the means, or do the means make us who we are? ::As she recapped the events that had brought about an end to the riots, Vance made two realisations in quick succession. The first was that whether or not Y-rocck’s invasion had left them impervious to Taree’s psionic abilities was probably a moot point. The second was that he wasn’t looking at someone who was about to hurt him. Thoughts of Y-rocck reminded him who his enemy was for one thing and, for another, if Sabina had wanted to hurt him then she would have done it by now.:: ::In fact, she wouldn’t have even needed to enter the room first.:: Sheridan: The ends definitely do not justify the means in this case. With his level of psionic power, I don’t have any doubts that Y-rocck could have boarded the station himself and dealt with Taree. Instead, it was just more convenient to use expendable puppets. ::Whether or not his theory was right or wrong was irrelevant to him in that moment. He had been used, so had his friends, and he was angry about it.:: ::Sabina leaned forward, gripped by his words. He had laid out the situation so bluntly and in a way that she had not been seeing it. Had she been justifying what had happened to herself, trying to write off and minimize something that was truly terrible?:: Sheridan: He knew exactly what he was doing. He was playing with us. He walked into and out of our minds for fun, then he poisoned you, tried to cut the Ambassador’s head open and gave me no choice but to burn myself. He was a monster. ::Sabina was silent. As Vance spoke, a heady mix of anger and cold pain rolled around her like a heavy fog. Whether it was because his emotions were so strong, or because her focus on blocking out such things had failed her, she couldn’t say. In fact, she found it rather difficult to know what feelings were coming from where.:: ::She had been fine. What happened was nothing more than a fact, a bullet point in a mission summary. But Vance, he had told the real story, he had given the facts truth. A glance down at her hands revealed a faint tremble.:: Tiam: ::Her voice was thinner than it usually was.:: Is that… what happened? ::His fingers gripped his knee and his knuckles turned white. A tremor ran through his upper body, almost like a shiver, but from the cold that only anger can produce. He tried to hold everything inside himself, knowing that someone needed him to be strong enough to just talk to them, but his emotions betrayed him. He gasped in a breath as twin tears spilled down his face. He didn’t do anything to hide it this time.:: Sheridan: You’re a good person. What happened on Betazed with the Jem’Hadar is a different thing. ::He swallowed, continuing to speak past the lump in his throat.:: Sometimes, you don’t have a choice but to fight back if you want to survive and that is very, very different to making someone suffer and getting enjoyment out of it. ::For a long moment, Sabina didn’t know how to react. It had been a long time since someone had been so open with her. And she couldn’t think of a time anyone had called her a “good” person. She felt a chill on her cheeks. Reaching a hand up, she felt fallen tears there. When had that happened, she wondered. And why were they still coming?:: ::Something else was nagging at her. Vance wasn’t feeling all of this over her. Clearly, his struggle with this was equally raw. With the delicate movement of a dancer, she positioned herself closer to him.:: Tiam: Vance, ::She looked at him, making sure that he had a moment to breathe and was looking at her.:: you’re right you know. Sometimes, ::She blinked tears from her eyes.:: sometimes you don’t have a choice. Sheridan: If I’d had the power to fight back against Y-rocck and hurt him, really hurt him, so that I could defend myself, I would have done it. ::There was less anger in his words now. It had been overtaken by honesty. He spoke slowly, voice cracking under the weight of too much emotion.:: Sheridan: He humiliated us and made us suffer for fun. What kind of creature does that? ::Y-rocck was far from the most dangerous force in the galaxy, but few other threats were threats for the sake of it. The Borg sought perfection. Orion pirates were driven by greed. That didn’t justify what any of them did, but it made it easier to rationalise.:: Tiam: But we survived. ::Trembling hands wiped at her jaw line where the tears inevitably settled before falling.:: And we didn’t go through it alone. ::She was right about that. He answered her with a nod. He wanted to smile and say something reassuring, or to give her a hug, but the guilt from suspecting she might hurt him had caught up with him. He wiped at his eyes with the back of his sleeve, taking momentary comfort from the memories of home it invoked.:: Sheridan: I don’t know which way is up any more. I don’t know about you, but I feel like there are no boundaries around my mind anymore, and everyone is a potential threat. I mean, I honestly don’t know how I would have held things together through the riot if you hadn’t been there and I know we don’t know each other very well, but I already think of you as a friend… but, just now when you said you were questioning the moral code that Betazoids have, I thought you were going to go wandering around in my brain. Even though I trust you not to. ::He sighed deeply and wiped away more tears.:: Sheridan: I’m supposed to be a counsellor and tell people how to deal with things like this, but knowing what to say and then actually doing it are two different things. Have you been having the same problem? ::Just because she was a Betazoid didn’t mean that she was necessarily predisposed towards being able to hold things together any better than he could.:: Tiam: ::She nodded.:: Vance, I don’t know what to do. I feel lost, displaced in a world I should already know. And I don’t appreciate that some external force could even be responsible for it. Most my day is spent on autopilot. Working is easy. In fact, anything that isn’t sitting in my quarters, thinking, seems easy. ::For a moment, Sabina’s mind went to that place. Her thoughts slipped into the same ones that were there for her in the dark hours of early morning. Her eyes welled with tears as she felt again the same swirl of failure and vulnerability she had been going to bed with each night. The worst of it was that they hadn’t seized Y-rocck. With a small sniffle, and a conscious choice to do so, she thought on the other points he had made, feeling boundaryless and susceptible to any manner of telepathy.:: Tiam: I can’t say that I see telepathic threats more than usual. But I have more experience with telepathy. I have the biological advantage of mutual awareness. In most cases at least… ::Though, it hadn’t made a difference with Y-rocck.:: But I haven’t truly interacted with a telepath since being back either. ::She paused.:: I’m not exactly looking forward to it, but, part of me knows I also need it. ::She gave a defeated chuckle.:: If I get spooked off by telepaths, how will I ever go home? ::It was a terrible thought, not being able to return home. It had been thinking of home that had kept Vance grounded so far. Where did the cost of all of this end?:: Sheridan: I guess it’s something we’re both going to have to come to terms with. ::Some other Federation species were a little less reserved about the use of telepathy, after all. Breaking down on coming into contact with them would be no good and yet Vance couldn’t help but feel he might never be comfortable with that kind of contact again.:: ::Sabina stood, a bit more slowly than usual as she gave some of her muscles a good stretch on the way up. She began collecting their empty glasses, for recycling or for refill she wasn’t exactly sure yet. But she didn’t want to contribute to any untidiness in someone else’s quarters. Especially after Vance’s power cleaning earlier in the evening had given him such a strong start.:: Tiam: ::Changing the subject, she spoke a little more light heartedly, and with a bit of a smirk.:: Can I tell you what I don’t like about counseling? ::Vance spluttered out a shocked laugh. He hadn’t quite expected the conversation to head in that direction, although he could tell well enough that Sabina wasn’t about to slate him.:: Sheridan: Oh, so you’re going to kick me while I’m down now? Tiam: I said counseling, not counselors. ::With that, her trademark smirk was in full force. But her tone settled on something serious as she explained herself.:: There aren’t enough actionable items in counseling. You can spend hours learning about how to look at situations or how difficult circumstances should be framed as we think about them, but sometimes, you leave the room going, “Ok, but what do I do?” ::Feeling she had acceptably tidied the mess she’d brought, Sabina returned to her place on the sofa.:: ::That was an interesting comment and it was something Vance would have to admit that he and a good number of his colleagues regularly fell foul of.:: Sheridan: I’ll definitely bear that in mind. I think that sometimes, we don’t want to interfere too much and end up not quite doing enough. Tiam: Might I make a suggestion for you? ::He wiped his face on his sleeve, having now gained a little more control of himself, then looked at Sabina curiously.:: Sheridan: What’s that? Tiam: There are ways in which, even humans, can develop natural telepathic barriers. I’ll be blunt with you, they’re not magic and wouldn’t stand up to a force like Y-rocck. ::Of course, neither had her own.:: But, it can be comforting to know that you are, at least in some small way, a little more in control of which parts of your mind end up exposed. ::That did sound like a good idea. Whether or not Vance ever ended up using a technique like that, it would make him feel like he had some control over the situation.:: Sheridan: Do you know anyone who can help me with that? ::In fact, he felt like it would be as good as therapy in itself. A dedicated period of time spent taking care of the way he felt, and not by grieving, or feeling sorry for himself, but by doing something positive. He was a positive guy most of the time, not that his experiences on Starbase 118 so far necessarily reflected that.:: Tiam: ::Sabina pursued her lips, thinking.:: I would recommend a Vulcan approach. Which, is not my specialty but, I think it would be the most effective. If I recall correctly, there’s a Vulcan temple on the station that might be of use… But, there’s always the holodeck as well. Plenty of instructional programs available, I’m sure. Sheridan: I’ll give it some thought and see about getting something set up. Are you going to do the same? ::She smiled wearily with a soft sigh.:: Tiam: No, no my issues will require a different approach. ::Sabina didn’t want to go into too much detail, given the counselor’s current relationship to telepaths. But truthfully, more than anything, she would need someone with whose mind she could work, willingly of course. An opportunity to become comfortable in her own abilities again would do wonders, she was sure. Another Betazoid would be ideal, but the likelihood of that chance presenting itself in the near future seemed unlikely.:: Tiam: And a little patience. ::Still, if Vance ever wanted to test his ability to shield his thoughts and feelings, she would be happy to assist. But in the meantime, she would continue to work and play, as she had. And the stinging memories of the Noguwip would, at some point, begin to fade like old scars on thick skin.:: ::There was a brief pause as conversation on the subject petered out. Vance was sure that either one of them could probably have spoken for hours about their experiences on the Noguwip but it was unnecessary. Each had seen what the other had been through, and they had just covered what hadn’t been seen. All Vance knew was that he wasn’t ready to sleep yet, and that he didn’t feel like sitting up on his own. He breathed in slowly and deeply through his nose and rubbed at one of his eyes with the knuckle of his index finger before making a suggestion he hoped would go over well.:: Sheridan: So, do you want to maybe hang out for a while? Do something, you know… normal? I have a bunch of stand up comedy shows from Earth if you’re interested, and I’m pretty sure my replicator still knows how to make ice-cream. ::He would probably need to remind himself how to get his lazy butt down to the gym at this rate, too. Still, in the name of hanging out with a friend rather than moping in a darkened room on his own, sacrifices had to be made.:: Tiam: Normal? What even is that? ::She grinned.:: Yes, I am all for that idea. ::She leaned back, more relaxed now. Sabina felt as though the air between them had been cleared. What happened on the Noguwip was no longer a topic that needed to be tiptoed around. Instead, she felt, the two had come to a place where they could find real solidarity in one another. Now the only matter left to settle was which ice cream flavor would cap off the evening. Though, even that presented a unique challenge…:: Tiam: But I have to admit something… ::A certain playfulness sparkled in her eyes.:: ::Sabina spoke lightheartedly, lest she worry the counselor that another onslaught of emotion was coming.:: Sheridan: Uh-oh… ::He caught the whiff of some ruse or other and made a show of bracing himself behind one of his cushions.:: What is it? Tiam: I haven’t tried ice cream before. ::He dropped the cushion, gaping.:: Sheridan: What the…? How is that even possible? Alright, don’t move a muscle. I’ll be right back with the flavour to end all flavours. ::He hopped up from the sofa and made short work of the trip to the replicator. Maybe falling off the wagon wouldn’t be so bad a thing.:: Sheridan: Computer, give me two bowls of cookie dough ice cream. Large. ::He was yet to encounter someone who didn’t fall in love with that particular vice at first taste but, if the impossible happened, the replicator was right there to provide well over a thousand different back-up plans…:: TBC A JP by PNPC Lieutenant Vance SheridanCounsellorStarbase 118 Ops & Lt. Sabina TiamIntelligence OfficerStarbase 118 Ops
  15. ((Starbase 118 Ops: Outside the Chief Counsellor’s Office)) ::Having recently taken care of his annual physical appointment, Chen had taken it upon himself to contact the counselling department and arrange an appointment there, too. Counsellor Sheridan had mentioned something about his schedule being busy, and asked if Chen minded fitting in a little before Alpha shift was due to start. It made sense that there would be heavy traffic after the riots, and Chen didn’t mind accommodating the request one bit. He’d left Greir to sleep a little longer, got himself ready for his shift, and then reported to the counsellor’s office. The time of his appointment had rolled around, but there was no answer to the chime, even after a second try. Deciding that there was a chance there was already an ongoing appointment, Chen gave Counsellor Sheridan the benefit of the doubt. Another ten minutes later, however, and he was starting to wonder whether or not he might have just overslept. He was contemplating contacting him when he caught sight of the teal-collared officer hurrying around the corner. Sheridan staggered to a stop almost as soon as he came into view, bent forward with his hands on his knees while he got his breath back.:: Chen: You OK? Sheridan: Yeah… sorry… overslept. ::Chen wasn’t entirely sure whether or not the human counsellor was red in the face from exertion or from embarrassment. If he’d had to guess, he would have chosen a little of both.:: Sheridan: Sorry, Commander, this is pretty much the first time in my career. I can’t believe I asked you to show up early and then kept you waiting. If you file a report then I wouldn’t be surprised and I’m prepared to accept responsibility for… Chen: Woah, woah, woah!! ::He held up his hands, a little nonplussed.:: I didn’t say I was going to file anything. It’s not like you overslept on purpose, is it? ::The counsellor shook his head. Pulling the rug out from under him seemed to have calmed him down.:: Chen: Alright, so let’s just not worry about it, OK? if you’re having to cram appointments into your free time, you’ve probably been working too hard anyway. Let’s just do what we can do before someone shows up for your next appointment. ::He noted the Terran’s dishevelled hair and the thin layer of stubble that coated his face. It looked like he’d literally heard the time and then sprinted out of his quarters, pulling his uniform on along the way.:: Chen: Did you at least get a chance to eat? ::He suspected that the answer to that question would probably be no.:: Sheridan: No. ::Nailed it.:: Sheridan: I literally heard the time and then sprinted out of my quarters. I had to pull my uniform on along the way. ::It looked like Chen’s observational and deductive skills hadn’t been compromised by the early hour of the appointment. If only most situations were this easy to read. It would save a lot of work.:: Chen: Then if you want to grab some food and eat it while we do the appointment I won’t put you on report for that either. ::Vance took in a deep breath, seeming to consider what Chen had said, and then cracked a smile. Chen’s eyes returned it. The most important thing to him was that he took care of his evaluation. Both he and the counsellor had a full shift to take care of after this, and starting the day in a panic wouldn’t do either of them any good.:: ::The counsellor keyed in his access code and activated the door mechanism.:: Sheridan: Have you ever considered a career in teal, Sir? ::Chen’s eyebrows lifted and his antennae twisted towards each other. The only person he felt he’d ever supported in that way was Greir, after he’d lost his hearing, and the way things had worked out suggested that he had done at least a passable job. Aside from that, his partner was really the one who knew how to handle their friends’ personal problems.:: Chen: I think I would probably just end up making more work for the other members of the department after a while. I’ll stick to black if it’s all the same. ::He followed Sheridan into the room, finding a seat while the counsellor replicated himself a drink and some breakfast. When offered a drink himself, Chen passed. He’d not long had breakfast himself, and he intended to pick up a cup of something when he got to his office.:: Sheridan: OK, so this is just a basic annual evaluation. It shouldn’t be too strenuous. ::Chen couldn’t remember a counselling appointment that he had considered strenuous. Maybe he’d been lucky with the counsellors he’d seen, but he’d never really developed the aversion to this kind of appointment that some of his colleagues had.:: Chen: I’m glad to hear it. I was hoping it would be pretty routine. ::Vance stuffed part of a maple syrup coated pancake into his mouth and nodded, answering in a slightly muffled voice before swallowing.:: Sheridan: We sfaa wi your pwofai… ::Chen’s eyes narrowed and his antennae tipped forwards as he tried to figure out what the counsellor was trying to say.:: Sheridan: ::Swallowing:: Sorry, we’ll start with your profile. I’m not seeing anything major flagged up on here, but I’d like to take a quick look back through your records to make sure we don’t let anything slip through the cracks. ::Chen waited patiently while the counsellor reviewed the notes on a PADD with one hand and wolfed down his breakfast with the other. More than likely, he would have done it before they met up, had he been awake on time. Watching him for his reaction, the Andorian took note when his eyes opened a little wider and he squinted down at the PADD, seeming to read and re-read one of the sections a couple of times. Finally, he pushed his plate to one side and looked back up.:: Sheridan: OK. ::He shuffled back in his seat, giving Chen his full attention.:: How have you been lately? You recently transferred here from Deep Space 6, right? ::Chen nodded. The counsellor’s tone had changed and there was no doubt he had switched into professional mode, but his bed hair slightly ruined that image.:: Chen: That’s right. Things have been good lately and I’m excited to be here. Sheridan: This is a promotion for you too. What are you looking forward to most about your new assignment? ::Where did he begin? Chen could feel pride filling his chest again as he thought about it, and that bled through into his answer.:: Chen: Everything. Literally everything. I’ve never worked in a department with so many top of the range resources before, and this has come with a considerable boost to my clearance level, my own staff, the chance to re-establish some of my old contacts… it’s as close to a dream job as you could ever get. ::The counsellor smiled as he heard the enthusiastic response. Clearly there weren’t going to be any issues with motivation or settling in. He made a quick note of Chen’s response before moving to the next item on his agenda.:: Sheridan: It looks like someone made an observation that they were worried about your work-life balance a few years ago. How do you feel things are with that now? ::Chen remembered his work-obsessive days aboard the USS Echo well. He’d worked every hour he could physically stay awake for following an undercover mission on Nelvaer IV, a Romulan-controlled world, and he had nearly driven himself to exhaustion, all in his pursuit of excellence and a promotion to full lieutenant. Ironically, he had only really started to see results after his department head, Commander Cathleen McCrae, had sat him down to point out that his brain needed recovery time. “Officers at breaking point are no use to me,” she had told him, which had initially left him feeling confused and unfairly rebuffed, but had eventually sunk in.:: Chen: I think they’re pretty good, honestly. I transferred here with my fiancé, so every time I finish a shift and he gets home we get to spend time together. We sometimes just chill out, sometimes spend time on the holodeck, maybe do a bit of work around the quarters now and again when it needs it, or occasionally we’ll do separate things with other friends. We’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about our wedding lately. We’re just making some adjustments after the move. ::Talking to Lieutenant Commander Chen was having a very comforting effect on Vance. Listening to him talk so enthusiastically about all the things that were going right in his life and conversing with someone whose routine hadn’t been split in half by the riots was hugely refreshing.:: Sheridan: Well congratulations to you both. So you have something to look forward to when you go home, which is pretty much as much as any of us could really wish for, but are you sticking to standard shifts? Do you anticipate the whole being the chief of a big department thing taking up more of your time? Chen: I think I can manage it. ::In his experience, counsellors were more likely to believe that particular statement if you could show them that you had, in fact, already been managing it.:: I think I’ve fallen into quite a good routine, work wise. I work my shift, sometimes I might go in maybe an hour early if things are going to be busy during the day, then I come home at the end of the shift. Then I get to spend time with my awesome future husband until the point we both turn in for the night. He’s Laudean, so he needs more sleep than I do, so I take a short rest, then if I need to go take care of a few more things in the lab, or if there’s something else I want to do I get up again, figure everything out, then head back to get the sleep I need. Then we wake up together, and the cycle repeats. ::He scratched an eyebrow as he thought about whether or not that covered all of the bases. He realised it probably didn’t.:: Chen: Obviously if we entered into some kind of emergency scenario, the routine might have to change. Greir, my fiancé, is ex-Starfleet himself. He was a captain right up until we moved here, so he understands the work life balance. He was a counsellor before that. ::Vance grinned. This particular officer was under the thumb, then, as far as counselling appointments and taking advice went.:: Chen: Oh, no. No no. Stop looking like you’re going to set up some kind of hotline to him or something. ::The grin became a full on laugh. Chen was certainly sharp. The idea of contacting his partner to do some home therapy if ever he became a difficult patient was too funny, though.:: Chen: Do not make me order you. Seriously. ::He started chuckling himself.:: Sheridan: To be honest, I think that probably answers one of the other questions I had on my list. Chen: Oh? What’s that? ::Vance cleared his throat and settled himself down. The next point on his agenda was absolutely no laughing matter whatsoever.:: Sheridan: You’ve had an eventful career, it seems, and there’s reference in your file to you having lost a foot, and then you were fitted with a biosynthetic replacement. I can’t see anything at all in here that documents any regular counselling appointments during the time you were recovering. That’s a pretty traumatic event to have to live through so either you’re exceptionally mentally strong, or the fact you were seeing a counsellor… as in seeing a counsellor at the time meant you were effectively getting care around the clock. ::Chen took in a slow, deep breath and looked down at his right foot. Most of the time now, he barely even thought of it as anything other than his own, he’d grown so used to it. The memories he had of his old one getting crushed in an emergency escape hatch were unpleasant. He didn’t usually feel the need to throw up his guard in counselling appointments, but he made a conscious effort to keep his antennae from moving to hide the unpleasant emotions that his thoughts had stirred up.:: Chen: Greir was absolutely invaluable back then. If not for him, I don’t know how I would have got through it. We’d recently been through a bad patch in our relationship, but everything that happened put things into very clear perspective. We almost lost each other that day. He was in the tunnel, too, and he could easily have drowned. My foot was crushed because I was trying to stop his head from being caught in more of those emergency bulkheads just a little further up the tunnel. ::He paused for a moment, clearing his throat.:: We helped each other through what happened. I think the fact that we were picking up our relationship where we left off, as well as all the help and support that Greir gave me were instrumental in my recovery. He helped me to keep everything so close to my normal life from before. Of course there were two or three things that I had to do differently, but he kept my mind off everything a lot of the time. I think, in situations like that, making sure you keep a hold of your normal life is really important. ::Vance nodded his understanding. Chen’s last sentence sank into him; as usual, a session with one of his patients had provided him with some advice that was frighteningly relevant to his own life. Meanwhile, even though there was no movement in the commander’s antennae, he’d seen some of the colour drain from his face when he’d tackled the subject of his foot.:: Sheridan: Thank you for being so detailed. I think it’s a very healthy thing that you’re able to talk about it. I’m going to go ahead and make a really clear note in the files here that you did receive treatment, so no-one should ask you about it again in the future. Chen: Thanks. ::He blew out a breath, glad that the matter seemed to be dealt with. Vance put his PADD down on the arm of his chair, about done with everything that he needed to ask.:: Sheridan: So, is there anything else that you wanted to talk about? ::Those antennae quickly picked up and Chen became a beacon of relief.:: Chen: I don’t think so. Nothing that springs to mind. ::Vance rose from his seat and extended a hand in the Andorian’s direction.:: Sheridan: Well in that case, Commander, you’re all clear for duty. And, uh… thanks again for being understanding about me oversleeping and letting me eat and stuff. I really appreciate that. I’ve got a very long day ahead. ::Chen accepted the human’s handshake - that was one thing he had never had a choice about assimilating into his repertoire. It seemed to be just as much a Starfleet tradition now as a human one.:: Chen: No problem, but remember you were grilling me pretty hard about work life balance. There has to be someone who can help you or a way for you to make sure you get a break. ::Vance listened to Chen’s advice and felt it hit home. He knew he was right. He didn’t know if he was going to act on what he was saying, though. Things would fix themselves in the end.:: Sheridan: I am seriously going to replicate you a teal shirt if you’re not careful, Sir, but thanks. I will take that into consideration. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. ::Chen looked at Vance through smiling eyes one last time before turning to leave. As counselling sessions went, it hadn’t been so bad. He just hoped that no-one else caught the counsellor oversleeping, and that he would adjust his schedule to make sure he would get enough rest that it wouldn’t happen again.:: TBC Lieutenant Commander Chen Chief Intelligence Officer Starbase 118 Ops & PNPC Lieutenant Vance Sheridan Counsellor Starbase 118 Ops
  16. Richard Matthews: Taybrim: =/\= This is a courtesy reminder to Ensign Pon Pon, Lieutenants Matthews, Sheridan and Gilaars. Meeting in the captain's ready room in fifteen minutes. =/\= :: The actual hellz? Try as he might, Richard could only draw a blank at a scheduled meeting. This though he couldn't ignore, well he could, and he could possibly get away with it if he bribed Page with genuine tea - with real grown tea leaves and not the replicated stuff. But it would be more of an effort getting his hands on that and trying to attempt bribing a superior (not to mention kind of illegal) so he'd just get up and deal . . . there was always the rest of shore leave to be a lump.:: Matthews: Ugh, I've got to get up now. ::So saying he rolled, he rolled right off of his couch and onto his hands and knees.:: Alright, I'm off the couch, now the getting up part should be easier. ____________________________________________ YES PLEASE!!!!
  17. (( Promenade - Keal’s Pub; Starbase 118 )) ::It had taken a bit to fully coordinate, but Nathan had managed to get the repairs to his pub completed in short order. Kaitlyn had even pitched in where she could between shifts; he’d always been a good friend, and she was happy to help. It also gave her a good opportunity to make sure the gang were all okay, as well. It seemed they’d all managed to weather the storm.:: ::Now in civvies, consisting of blue jeans and a short-sleeved purple blouse, Kaitlyn grabbed one of the bar stools to relax and enjoy the establishment.:: ::She’d barely had time to get situated when a mug of hot chai appeared before her. Kaitlyn looked up to see Vera’s smiling face. The shen gestured to the mug.:: Yanis-Keal: Well, go on. Give it a try. ::Kaitlyn chuckled. She’d introduced Vera to chai back when she’d been working with her brother, and the shen had quickly grown a taste for it. Her more adventurous side lead her to develop new flavor combinations for the tea, and Kaitlyn quickly became her favorite guinea pig. Kaitlyn lifted the mug, raised it in a classic ‘toast’ gestures, and took a sip.:: ::It was… interesting, to say the least. It had a couple types of flavored syrup added. Kaitlyn let the flavors mix for a moment… One was… peanut butter, and the other… some sort of chocolate? Kaitlyn finally swallowed the sip, giving an approving nod.:: Falcon: Nice. Very smooth, and a good mix. Peanut butter, and…? Yanis-Keal: Andorian white chocolate. Took a bit of work to get a syrup that matched it, but I thought it might give a good bite. ::Kaitlyn nodded, taking another sip. Vera certainly had the bite part right. Now that Kaitlyn knew what she was looking for, she could taste it immediately.:: Falcon: Well, I approve. ::Smiles.:: Got a name for it yet? Yanis-Keal: Not sure… I’ll think on that. ::Smiles back.:: That one’s on the house, in thanks for all the help. ::Kaitlyn lifted the mug once more, this time in thanks.:: Falcon: Hey, I’m always happy to lend a hand. ::Vera’s antenna flicked to one side, toward another patron. The shen looked over to him, then back to Kaitlyn.:: Yanis-Keal: Hey, I’ll check back in a bit, okay? Falcon: ::Smiles and nods.:: Sure thing. I’ll be here. ::Vera stepped away from the bar, starting over toward the other patron in need. Kaitlyn turned around in her stool, leaning back against the bar as she took another sip of her chai, giving another approving nod. Yep, this blend could work just fine.:: Sheridan: Commander Falcon! ::The computer never failed Vance Sheridan. Few people knew he was in league with it, but he’d been using its ability to locate people to devastating effect lately, dragging in officers who were overdue for their annual psych evaluation, striking like an Arcturan sky cobra when they least expected it. Today’s target was Kaitlyn Falcon, who had managed to escape the counsellor’s chair for rather longer than she should have. There was a note on her file that seemed to indicate attitude problems and issues with interacting with counsellors, which Vance found interesting. He’d decided, as he usually did in these cases, that he was going to make up his own mind.:: ::The shout came more as a cheerful greeting than anything else. He waved from a little way across the pub, wearing a smile characteristic of an officer who had just met a colleague and was interested in joining them for a drink. The way she was relaxing did not seem characteristic of a trouble maker.:: ::Kaitlyn looked up at the shout, quickly recognizing the man from their brief encounter in C&C. He was their new counselor, if she recalled correctly. She’d also heard about just how bad things had been over on Noguwip, and that he was up and about spoke well of his toughness. She returned his wave, giving a small smile. While he didn’t appear to be on business, past experience had forced her to be a bit… wary around counselors.:: ::She’d been surprised by them in bad ways too many times…:: ::Sheridan finished his approach, Kaitlyn making sure he had room at the bar. Regardless of what had happened before, Kaitlyn could prove she’d learned how to be cordial.:: Falcon: ::Nod of greeting.:: Sheridan. It’s good to see you up and about. What brings you by? Sheridan: I finally managed to catch a break between appointments, so I figured this would be a good place to come to get a drink. What do you have there? ::He leaned on the bar next to her, preferring not to take a seat just yet. There was a chance that rumours of his dawn raids on unsuspecting therapy-dodgers might have reached her ears, and that forcing her into a situation where she felt like she was being analysed might not be a good idea.:: ::Kaitlyn took another sip of the interestingly flavored tea.:: Falcon: Hot chai, a sweet and spicy tea. Sheridan: Would you recommend it? ::Kaitlyn smiled, giving a light chuckle and a nod of her head.:: Falcon: Oh, yes. I always recommend people try it at least once. ::Vance looked at the bartender, pointing at Kaitlyn’s cup.:: Sheridan: Hi. Could I get one of whatever those is? ::Nathan stopped mid stride, looking over Kaitlyn’s shoulder at the mug, then over to her.:: Keal: Chai? Falcon: Yep. I’d recommend starting him with vanilla; nothing too crazy. Keal: You got it. ::While he was waiting for his drink to be prepared, Vance turned his attention back to the mission at hand. He wanted to just talk to Falcon to see if he could figure out what these issues with counsellors were supposed to be, without mentioning them directly. There weren’t many immediate pieces of common ground that he could think of, so he shot with something obvious.:: Sheridan: So, I’ve not been here for long enough yet to figure out which are the best places to go to when I’m off duty. I feel like this is a good choice… are you a regular here? Falcon: Well, it’s one of the best places on the station, in my opinion. Although the owners have been friends of mine and my sister’s for years, so I might be biased. ::Points to a table in the far corner.:: In my pre-’Fleet days, that table was reserved for my brother and me whenever we were in the sector. So, I’d say I’m a bit of a regular. ::Vance looked across to the table that Kaitlyn was pointing at. Being a regular was one thing, having a table reserved for you was another.:: Sheridan: So what caught your eye about this pub in particular? Falcon: The place has a good atmosphere. It’s calm, relaxing, good-natured. All the folks working here are great people. I love catching up with Nathan and Vera whenever I get the chance. ::It had to be pretty good having non-fleet friends that you could visit and forget about everything the uniform brought with it.:: Sheridan: So is that the reason why they stock chai? ::You could get hold of chai from any replicator, but the real stuff was probably much nicer.:: Falcon: No. My twin sister is the reason they started carrying chai. She was chief engineer here when Nathan was setting this place up, lended a hand a few times after he nearly crushed himself under a shipment of furniture. As part of his thanks, and after finding out it was her favorite drink, he made sure to keep a good supply of the best spiced chai he could get his hands on. ::Smiles, lifting up her mug slightly.:: Still does, to this day. Sheridan: Kind of like a family tradition, then? I call that good customer service. ::Kaitlyn smiled, giving a light chuckle.:: Falcon: I suppose so. Certainly scored him a few loyal customers, I can tell you that. ::Movement nearby caught Kaitlyn’s eye, watching as Nathan returned with a second mug of chai and set it before Sheridan.:: Keal: Sir, your chai. ::Vance took the drink from him, smiling, and took a moment to enjoy the aroma of the spiced tea. Chai wasn’t difficult to get hold of on Earth, but he’d never really dabbled with it before, so this would be a first.:: Sheridan: Thanks. This is kind of a landmark. First cup of chai. D’you want to stick around for the momentous first sip? ::Nathan leaned back against the counter, giving a smile.:: Keal: Sure. I’m always curious about a ‘first taste’ reaction. ::The Canadian grinned, visions of him burning his mouth and having to be rushed back to sickbay running through his mind.:: Sheridan: OK, here goes… ::He lifted the cup to his mouth, blowing on one corner of the drink to cool it before taking a quick slurp - just enough to taste it, but not enough cause any pain.:: ::Kaitlyn and Nathan each waited a moment, then spoke almost in unison.:: Falcon: Well? Keal: So? Sheridan: You know what, that’s good. You might want to be careful, Commander, or you might have some competition for the chai reserves. ::Kaitlyn laughed, shaking her head. Nathan put on a look of mock offense.:: Keal: Pah! As if I could let such a travesty occur; running out of chai. ::Smiles.:: I’ll just have to stock more. Falcon: ::Chuckles.:: You won’t hear me complaining. ::Nathan chuckled as well, giving Kaitlyn a pat on her shoulder.:: Keal: Well, I’m back at it. You two have fun, okay? ::The bartender went back to work, leaving Vance and Kaitlyn to talk. Deciding that the moment had passed for the helmswoman to get spooked and flee the bar, Vance hopped up onto the free bar stool.:: Sheridan: I’ll be honest, it’s good to catch a break after all the excitement on the promenade recently. I came pretty close to forgetting what the station outside my office looked like. Falcon: Well, until recently, you really didn’t miss much. There was a lot to repair, out there. ::Kaitlyn gave a soft sigh, taking another sip of her chai as she leaned back against the bar.:: Falcon: Hell of a lot of fighting out there… I’m not sure how much you saw of it, but it’s not something I’d wish on anyone. ::Vance clearly remembered seeing Kaitlyn doing her level best to empty the power packs of her phasers into the alien entity on the promenade. Considering the creature had shrugged off nearly everything that they had thrown at it, Vance had been very glad for that. Any crew needed people who knew how to handle themselves in a combat situation.:: Sheridan: I should probably thank you for giving that creature hell like you did. I know other people were firing too, me included, but I think your resolve rubbed off on us. ::Kaitlyn actually managed a small smile at that. She couldn’t tell him how she’d managed to build up such a strong and sudden resolve, of course. It was probably one of the only positive effects of that particular part of her life, of those old battles.:: Falcon: I’m glad to have done some good. It was a bit of a gamble, trying to keep my focus where it needed to be. If it also helped everyone else keep their focus, then it was worth it. ::Kaitlyn paused a moment in thought. On the one hand, she didn’t want to dwell on the past events any longer than necessary. On the other… she wanted to make sure Sheridan was okay.:: Falcon: I heard that things on Noguwip were… difficult. If you ever need an ear, I’d be happy to help. ::The oddity of her offering to listen to a counselor wasn’t exactly lost on her, though she kept it from her features. They hadn’t spoken for long, but what she’d seen so far suggested Sheridan was alright. That, or he was a good actor. Regardless, she wanted to make the offer.:: ::Vance appreciated the offer, but wasn’t really in a place where he wanted to talk about the Noguwip at that point. He’d already broken the ice on it with Commander Taybrim, and he felt like he needed a decent period of time to heal before he touched on it again. Still, it was nice to know that the crew were so friendly.:: Sheridan: That’s very kind, but could we maybe uh… iksnay on the Oguwipnay? ::He smiled sheepishly:: I’d like to pretend that particular episode was just a very bad dream. Falcon: ::Nods.:: Happier topics. Agreed, wholeheartedly. So, where are you from, originally? Falcon: ::Nods.:: Happier topics. Agreed, wholeheartedly. So, where are you from, originally? ::That was a much happier topic. Vance picked up his chai and settled down more comfortably on his seat.:: Sheridan: I’m from Whitehorse in Yukon. Grew up there with a pretty big family who’ve spread themselves out over most of Earth, and a little bit beyond. ::He cracked a smile again.:: It also comes with the added benefit of thinking it’s pretty warm on starships and starbases most of the time. Every day is T-shirt weather! ::That was, of course, rather a large exaggeration. Yukon was not known for being particularly warm, but it was hardly like living under one of the Andorian poles.:: ::Kaitlyn gave an understanding nod and smile. Ships and stations had always felt a little cool to her, but she’d always liked it.:: Falcon: Were you close with them? Sheridan: We were pretty close growing up, yeah. I’m the middle kid of five, actually, so I had an older sister and brother to make sure I wasn’t getting into trouble, and a younger brother and sister to keep an eye on myself. ::He swigged his chai, enjoying the combination of sweet and spicy even more now that it was a little cooler.:: Jonny is the only other one of us who will be joining Starfleet. He’s in his final year at the academy. Falcon: ::Smiles.:: Oh? Does he have a path in mind? Sheridan: He’ll be a security officer. He’ll be a good one, too. He was always very disciplined. Kept to a strict routine. I had to teach him how to unwind a couple times. ::He smirked. They had been counsellor and security officer even back when they were kids, it seemed.:: Falcon: ::Laughs.:: It’s such an underappreciated skill. ::Smiles.:: ::Sharing stories about family was always fun. Vance was curious if Kaitlyn had any of her own to share.:: Sheridan: So how about you? You mentioned your sister. Are you from a big family? Falcon: Big enough. Two sisters; one older, the other’s my paternal twin, and one brother, the eldest, plus mom and dad. ::It sounded like their clans were of comparable sizes.:: Sheridan: Whereabouts did you grow up? Falcon: We were all Starfleet brats. Our parents met on the U.S.S. Freedom-A, and we were all born there. We looked out for each other, and found various ways to keep amused on a starship. Usually without getting into too much trouble. ::He laughed. He could imagine just how much hot water a group of four children could get into aboard a starship. You could probably write an entire series of children’s books about it.:: Sheridan: I guess that explains why you ended up in one of these uniforms. Did many more of you make the same career choice? Falcon: Actually, most of us went Starfleet. Both my sisters joined as soon as they were old enough, though my brother decided to stick with a civilian life. He went and got himself a freighter and started making a name for himself. Sheridan: Kind of the black sheep of the bunch, eh? ::He could understand why her brother might have had a desire to be a little different, although that didn’t necessarily have to be the main appeal to remaining a civilian.:: ::Kaitlyn paused for a moment, considering that particular phrase. James had always been the odd one of the bunch, excepting Kaitlyn’s flip-flop of career choices, but ‘black sheep’? Falcon: Hmm… I wouldn’t put it that far. He’s never done anything that would worry our folks. Really, the only people he’s crossed paths with in a bad way are either Orion Syndicate or your standard issue swindlers. Sheridan: So, do you see him often? Which region of space is he based in? Falcon: I see him whenever I can. He doesn’t have any particular region he stays in, though he tries to stay close to wherever the family is assigned. ::It sounded like the Falcons all kept in touch, anyway. It had been a little while since Vance had last called home and spoken to his own folks. He didn’t plan on doing it any time soon, either. Not until he had some good news for them.:: Sheridan: Well, if he’s ever around on the station, or any of the rest of the family for that matter, you let me know if people are meeting for chai, OK? ::Kaitlyn nodded. She’d been meaning to try to pull everyone together into a family reunion. Being on the base, it might well be a good time for that.:: Falcon: ::Smiles.:: Sure will. ::As the exchange of stories drew to a close, and Vance’s mug came closer to being empty, he decided they were in a good enough place to pick up on official business.:: Sheridan: So, believe it or not, I’m actually a little disappointed about something work-related, that maybe you can help me figure out. ::Kaitlyn nodded, leaning forward.:: Falcon: Sure thing. How can I help? ::The counsellor dropped his voice and leaned in a little closer. It wouldn’t do for anyone to overhear the piece of confidential information that he was about to bring up.:: Sheridan: Your file says that you kill counsellors. Like, stone dead. I almost turned up here to talk to you in body armour, just in case… ::Really it was a little risky joking about that but, having taken some time talking to Kaitlyn about issues that weren’t work-related first to make an effort to actually get to know her, it seemed more appropriate than bringing the matter up seriously. He felt like she would actually respond in a positive way.:: ::Kaitlyn leaned back, giving a slightly amused snort. That was certainly an interesting way to bring it up… Kaitlyn had been wondering exactly how Sheridan would broach that particular subject. She hadn’t worked with him long enough to completely gauge him, but she was willing to let him run for a moment.:: Falcon: Oh, really? Sheridan: If, you know, you could maybe tell me how you managed to dispose of the bodies without anyone knowing then I’m pretty sure we could submit something to the Federation News Service and make ourselves famous. Like, some kind of team of crime busters or something. ::The suggestion, while still hushed, was theatrically conspiratorial.:: ::Kaitlyn’s response came out somewhat dry; not overly joking, but not overly annoyed, either.:: Falcon: You’d be surprised how effective replicators are at destroying things. Sheridan: ::Laughing to himself:: Seriously, though, you should take a minute to drop by my office when you have time. You’re overdue your review and I don’t think either of us is going to find one of those routine check-ups too difficult. ::He lowered his voice again.:: Besides, if you do then I think I can probably put the record straight on your file. I’m not really seeing the reason why it’s there in the first place… ::He hoped that he’d proven to her that he wasn’t going to be some kind of overbearing psychiatric type who peered at her through magnifying goggles, scribbling on a clipboard and shining a light in her eyes.:: ::At first, Kaitlyn was tempted to tell him exactly how difficult those routine check-ups could be. She’d gone through it, after all, and was not particularly interested in repeating the experience. That last part, though, intrigued her.:: ::To date, she’d had an XO who considered her a liar, one counselor who responded to the issue with a lecture, and a second counselor who felt her desire to carry a weapon warranted accusal that she distrusted security forces.:: ::Sheridan’s jokes suggested that he’d actually read her file, and his comments suggested he was looking past them. If he was willing to do that… then maybe she’d be willing to give him a chance.:: ::Finally, thoughts gathered, Kaitlyn gave a slow nod.:: Falcon: Okay. I’ll give it a shot. ::Well, that was certainly a relief.:: Sheridan: Thanks. I’m glad. Falcon: You’ve read my file. I’m sure you know my feelings on it. But, you’re willing to keep an open mind, so I’ll do the same. ::Vance nodded enthusiastically. As far as he was concerned, there was no need for the session to be confrontational, and he doubted that things would be as bad as Kaitlyn might have thought.:: Sheridan: I appreciate that. Really, I don’t see why it has to be any different to the conversation we had today… only there’ll be less people around. I could even provide chai… although it’d be replicated and probably not quite as good as here. Falcon: I’ve actually got a few blends programmed in that aren’t too bad. ::The counsellor smiled, feeling like he had managed to make a good deal of headway.:: Sheridan: OK, well I need to swing back to the office, but it was good meeting you. I’ll hopefully see you around some time. ::He intended that to mean outside the counselling office. Kaitlyn was friendly, easy to talk to and didn’t mind sharing a laugh and a joke. That seemed to be a running theme among most of the staff here.:: Falcon: I’m not usually hard to find. ::Admittedly, Kaitlyn’s demeanor had slightly cooled, but she was still cordial. Sheridan really was making an effort to be accommodating, though he was fighting a bit of an uphill battle. She managed a small smile, touching two fingers to her temple in a friendly salute.:: Falcon: Good meeting you, too. ::Vance mirrored the salute. He didn’t expect Kaitlyn to be overexcited about the prospect of a counselling appointment given what had been penned in her files, but it looked like more of a case of two, or three or four tangoing than just Kaitlyn causing problems. Once they had a dialogue going and he’d built up a little trust, maybe he would be able to find out more about what had gotten her written into her previous counsellors’ bad books but, until then, he was happy just to make sure she was clear for duty. He headed towards the exit, already thinking about his next appointment. It was really too bad he couldn’t stick around for another chai.:: TBC A JP by Lieutenant Commander Kaitlyn FalconChief Helm OfficerStarbase 118 Ops/USS Albion & PNPC Lieutenant Vance SheridanCounsellorStarbase 118 Ops SIMmed by: Lieutenant Commander Chen
  18. ((Starbase 118: Executive Officer’s Office)) ::Vance stood outside Commander Taybrim’s office, listening to the sound of his own pulse in his ears. He didn’t usually get nervous about being on the receiving end of a counselling session, but then they were usually just routine check ups. In this case, he knew he was going to have to confront a number of unpleasant things, and he wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Fortunately, the starbase’s first officer had graciously agreed to slot a session into his busy schedule, which meant that Vance had been spared from speaking to a member of his own department. He trusted in their abilities, of course, but there was a part of him that felt like talking to them would make things difficult for him in the long run. He didn’t want to risk giving himself a complex about seeing one of his colleagues around and about in the corridors if this ended up taking more than one session.:: ::Taking a deep breath, he pushed the door chime and waited to be called inside.:: Taybrim: Enter ::Vance walked through the doors, feeling as though his legs were pulling against elastic restraints. He made an attempt at a cheerful salute.:: Sheridan: Hello, Commander. Thanks for agreeing to see me. ::Sal nodded, gazing up placidly from the stack of reports he had on his desk. The office was tidy, neatly set with various stacks of work in organized piles. The walls and flat surfaces were decorated with a relaxing array of pictures and pieces of artwork, some of which Sal had chosen for the lovely moods they created (things that had decorated his office as a counselor) and some that were sentimental - brought back from various shore leaves or gifted from friends. There were holopics of his family from several years ago on Betazed, mementos from former crewmates, and one small rather humorous trophy for the ‘Academy Classic Mini Golf Championship’ of 2388. The whole room smelled of orange, cinnamon and a faint lingering note of pepper, owing to Sal’s beverage of choice.:: Taybrim: I’m glad to have a chance to talk. ::he gestured to one of the open chairs:: Please be seated. Can I get you anything to drink? ::Vance sat down, taking a deep breath and sitting on his hands to keep from giving away exactly how nervous he was.:: Sheridan: I was going to ask for a coffee, but it smells really orangey in here. Is it from herbal tea? Taybrim: Rigellian orange cider. ::A faint grin:: I only drink coffee on special occasions. Or high stress occasions. In the region of Betazed where I grew up, citrus fruits were very popular. They’re more astringent on Betazed, though - almost medicinal. So when I found other planets had citrus, I was hooked. ::he chuckled:: I suppose I can think of worse things to be attracted to. ::He had a point. It was easy to drink too much coffee when you were in an office job, or at least the office-based part of a Starfleet officer’s duties. Herbal tea was much better for you, and could hardly be described as a vice.:: Sheridan: You’re right. I think I’d like to add some citrus to my life as well, please. ::In all honesty, Vance had already drunk enough coffee in the past few days that he was surprised he wasn’t suffering from a major outbreak of the jitters. Anything that could help him to relax would be most welcome.:: ::Two mugs materialized into the replicator pad. Sal had tweaked his favorite into several versions, and while his normal morning brew had a combination of sweet orange and the slow burn of pepper in it, the one he opted for was mellower, tinged with a hint of honey and a bit of cinnamon and ircan root for a ginger like heat without a burn. He offered the first mug over towards Vance, retaining the second:: ::As they settled, Sal leaned back, slowly shifting from his executive officer hat into his well worn counselor skin. When he had first started his career he had agonized about shifting departments, several times. But as things went on, he started to appreciate this breadth of skills, even if his depth in any one area was lean. There were many skills from his past assignments that he valued - and this was one of them.:: Taybrim: How have you been, since the aftermath of the riots? ::His voice was even, with an undercurrent of empathy. There had been so much work that was done in the last few days, he expected the majority of the crew was feeling drained - none so much as those committed to keeping everyone sane:: ::Vance took in a long, slow deep breath. He could pointlessly stall for time, (“Fine, everything has been going OK, I just wanted some advice on maintaining work/life balance…”) or he could do what he knew he had come here to do and tell the truth. His session with Sabina the day before had opened his eyes to the fact that he needed to offload some of his problems and stop them from growing into something bigger. This was his chance.:: Sheridan: Uhh, not so good, actually. I experienced some things that were pretty unpleasant and made some calls that I’m really not so proud of. Kind of to the point where I really feel like I failed to do my duty… so I’ve been burying myself in appointments to make sure I have to focus on other people rather than myself. Taybrim: ::Ginger brows knit together for a few moments, considering the admission. It wasn’t unusual for a counselor to bury themselves in work for various reasons. Though it was quite perceptive of Sheridan to parse out the reasons for his actions. His true question was on how Sheridan felt he had failed, when by all official reports he had done quite well. But first things first. Deal with the thick layer of pain that was coating the delicate feelings of self doubt.:: Experiencing the unpleasant I understand all too clearly. Have you talked about is before now? ::Vance shrugged, and looked in the direction of one of the pictures hanging on the wall without really focusing on it.:: Sheridan: No. I’ve been avoiding it. ::He looked down into his own lap.:: The stuff that happened, particularly on the Noguwip, isn’t like anything I’ve ever experienced before and I guess I was just hoping I’d get over it without having to talk to anyone. ::He looked up, wearing a resigned smile. That was the kind of behaviour he tended to gently admonish some of his patients for. It was easier to overlook when you were the guilty party, though.:: Taybrim: ::Open, coaxing:: What happened on the Noguwip? ::There was a pause as Vance tried to decide where he should start. Should he ease himself in with recounting the tale of being given the choice of watching a colleague have their head cut open by a circular saw or flashburning half of his own torso? Or the humiliating experience of having a telepathic being sifting through his thoughts and memories like choices on a replicator menu? He could feel anger starting to bubble up inside him and he tensed up, fingers clenching tighter around the handle of his mug.:: Sheridan: The… uh… the captain, of the Noguwip. His name was Y-rocck. He looked like a snake. No limbs, just this long body, with some kind of grotesque mask, almost like a clown. He said something about that entity that caused the riots being a demon, and that we all had to be cleansed. ::Sal’s own telepathy was weak, it came and went like waves lapping upon a shore as a result of youthful overconfidence and 100mA of electricity running through his body. But his empathy was still fairly strong. The tension is Vance’s form did not go unnoticed, nor did the sudden blackening of the emotional timbre in the room. In response the little ginger haired man seemed to radiate calmness, like a port of solace in a tempestuous ocean.:: Taybrim: ::Nodding understanding:: Go on. Sheridan: He did something to stop us from beaming out. Set up a dampening field, or raised the ship’s shields or something. Then he started questioning us about the girl. I thought he was trying to find out what we knew about her, but now I think he was trying to find out how much contact we’d had with her. Only he didn’t do it by asking us questions. Taybrim: ::Brows furrowed, the implications of that statement were dark and clear. Still, Vance needed to talk this out.:: What happened? Sheridan: I saw it happen to Lieutenant Tiam first. Y-rocck was telepathic. He forced his way into her mind. Ambassador Calderan warned him that he needed to stop, but he just carried on. When he was done with her, she told us she was alright, but I didn’t have any time to worry about it before it was my turn. ::He abandoned his mug, leaving it on the table, and sank into his seat, wrapping his arms around himself, fists clenched around handfuls of uniform on each of his sides. He wanted to look at Taybrim and actually tell him the story, but his eyes wouldn’t lift higher than the rim of the table in front of him.:: Taybrim: ::Despite his calm demeanor, Sal’s teeth clenched. He knew that pose. He had not only seen it before, he had lived through it. For a moment his eyes closed, giving the man a second to steel himself. When he spoke, his voice was low, filled with kindness, and yet the sort of firmness one didn’t back away from:: What did he do? Sheridan: He… he sifted through my recent memories. Reporting aboard the starbase. A conversation with Sabina in the turbolift. ::His words became more rapid.:: I could feel him digging around in my head, and I tried really hard to take control by thinking of a memory from school but the next thing I knew I was stood in the playground with a bunch of people pointing and laughing. I mean, I don’t even care about the memory - that kind of thing didn’t happen very often and it was a long time ago, but it was him just showing me a fraction of what he could do if I tried to stand up to him. I know that was a fraction. ::He could feel his anger and frustration intensifying, and he was talking past a lump in his throat now.:: Sheridan: It was like waving away an insect or something, and it took him no effort to just reach in and take control of my mind… ::He turned his face away and used the heel of his palm to intercept a hot tear before it could escape his eye, half hoping that the XO wouldn’t see it. He knew there was no way he would have missed it, though, especially seeing as there were more coming.:: Sheridan: God, this is embarrassing… ::He was referring to the fact that he couldn’t even keep control of his own emotions more than anything else. Control wasn’t something he was going to be allowed to have, apparently.:: Taybrim: It is not. ::He replied simply, letting that hang there for a moment before explaining:: Embarrassment implies your reaction is either wrong or foolish, when it is neither. Your reaction is natural and understandable, and I see no weakness in it. ::His dark eyes were fixed upon Vance, half hooded in a quiet, non-judgemental gaze:: ::Vance heard the words and took some comfort in them. His reply came initially in the form of a nod as he gasped in awkward breaths, wiping at his eyes with his uniform sleeves. He was determined to take back some form of control. He wanted to acknowledge Taybrim’s sentiment a little better, though, and managed to croak out a word.:: Sheridan: Thanks. Taybrim: ::He put a hand to his chin in thought:: ‘Cleansing’ is a very tame word for what was a crime committed upon you. Even with good intentions, telepathic rape is a criminal act. ::He spoke carefully, but the last words were sharp, no matter how softly they were delivered. The word rape was a difficult one in particular, and the concept was too often skirted around by those unwilling to struggle with the full magnitude of the crime committed upon people like the away team.:: ::Rape. Vance hadn’t thought of it like that. He’d been trained at the academy to help victims of rape as part of his studies to become a counsellor. Not one day ago, he’d sat down opposite Sabina Tiam, who had been exposed to the same thing he had, and run what he had felt had been a successful support session. They had discussed the feelings of helplessness and anger that she had been feeling and the effect that Y-rocck’s influence was having on her life. He’d even recognised potential signs of trauma, and dealt with them as such, but he hadn’t thought of that word. And yet it was one that should have come to mind. Maybe it didn’t matter that he hadn’t said it out loud during that session as far as Sabina’s treatment went but, ordinarily, he would have. So why hadn’t he?:: ::Because it was a dirty, ugly word, and it made him feel weak and stupid.:: ::The realisation was enough of a shock to stem the tears, though. There was none of the usual brightness in the Vance Sheridan that finally spoke, and he latched onto one of the details that the commander had mentioned.:: Sheridan: I don’t even think that was the cleansing. That seemed to just be his way of proving a point. The cleansing came after we were all dragged away by some weird creature with tentacles and dropped into containment pods. Lieutenant Tiam’s pod started filling up with gas, and Ambassador Calderan’s had a circular blade slowly descending towards her head. Nothing happened in my pod, but I was the only one with a phaser. Taybrim: ::He frowned, deeply. These aliens may operate on a different cultural standard than the Federation, but this entire story was turning into one of abuse of three Starfleet officers. Abuse that was passed off as ‘cleansing’ and therefore a ‘good thing.’ Sal was disgusted by the story that was shaping up:: What did you do? ::Even though Y-rocck seemed to have wanted the officers’ imprisonment to have the greatest impact on them, Vance found it much easier to recant the tale of their escape from captivity and how they had been declared as ‘cleansed’ than he had about Y-rocck’s mental probe.:: Sheridan: I didn’t have any choice but to fire at my cell, point blank, with the phaser on high thermal. I broke out, but suffered burns on my arm and down my side. I don’t really remember a lot of what happened after that, other than that I beamed out with Lieutenant Tiam, and we left Ambassador Calderan behind. ::He immediately turned his head away as he felt a fresh wave of guilt and shame. How could he have left her, knowing what the monsters on that ship were capable of?:: Taybrim: You didn’t leave her behind. You were forced to return. There is a difference between a choice you willingly make and one you must endure. Sheridan: Twice, though? I did it to her again on the promenade when I told you it was OK to just beam her out… ::On some level, he knew that he hadn’t had a choice, but he was losing the battle against his emotions again. He was a good person. He’d done nothing but help people this far in his career and he’d prided himself on that. Literally the second he’d stepped onto Starbase 118, that had changed. He slumped forward, elbows on knees, gripping the back of his head with both hands. It felt like someone had smashed through the [...] that let him hold back his feelings and keep them in control.:: ::No, not ‘someone’. Y-rocck. He was to blame for it. Well, he wasn’t going to win. Not this time.:: Taybrim: ::He could feel the emotions rolling off the counselor, without even reaching for them. It made Sal chew his bottom lip, a surge of empathy welling in his chest.:: Vance, your reactions to what happened were unavoidable. And what you feel is normal. It may be uncomfortable, but that does not mean it is not valid. Sheridan: It fell to me to make the call. It’s my fault. ::He still hadn’t been to see if Ambassador Calderan was alright, in fact. That would have involved facing up to his own decisions, as well as his experiences on Noguwip, and he wasn’t sure he was strong enough to do that yet. How selfish he was.:: Taybrim: Do not blame yourself. If others blame you, it is only because they do not understand what has happened. ::He leaned forward. He was all too well aware of the pain and anger the counselor must be feeling, and he felt a deep need to reach out, and offer something, even just a sympathetic ear:: You can come here any time you need. I would be happy to meet with you. ::Vance let out a deep sigh and sat up again, rubbing his forehead. He looked at Sal through red, puffy eyes. It did come as a relief that he was being so understanding and supportive, and he felt like having someone to talk to if he needed it would be a good thing.:: Sheridan: I would really appreciate that. Taybrim: ::A nod:: Regular social contact will help you feel less isolated. ::A small smile:: If you like we can make a lunch date. Private or public, either works for me. ::While his first instinct was to say private, Vance was determined to keep as much of his routine as normal as possible. He didn’t want to take any more time off work and he wanted to try to take each day as normal. Didn’t he deserve to be able to do that? He hadn’t asked for any of this.:: Sheridan: I think I’d like to try public, but maybe not somewhere too busy. I’ve been feeling uncomfortable around telepaths lately, although not you - you’ve been really helpful. I think I’d get on better with somewhere I can see who’s around me… for now anyway. ::It was interesting to him that he didn’t find Sal Taybrim threatening. Maybe it was because he’d been so understanding that he was able to trust that he wasn’t just going to rifle through the private thoughts in Vance’s head. Or maybe it was because he’d just broken down in front of him and admitted to feeling weak and desperate, so he didn’t feel there was much left to humiliate him in his eyes. Either way, he felt like he was an ally. He wasn’t completely uncomfortable around Sabina either, so maybe this was something he would be able to get over relatively quickly.:: Taybrim: My species has a very strict code when it comes to the moral conduct of telepathy. ::he mused quietly:: I think you will find Tiam in agreement, and she will likely be another empathetic support. ::A pause, before he gazed back at Vance:: I would be happy to meet wherever you are comfortable. And you are always welcome to change your mind as to place. ::he smiled, knowing that it was difficult to commit to decisions during a healing process. Sal was more than willing to be flexible - he remembered how much he had appreciated the people who were flexible with him and had resolved long ago to offer it to others.:: ::Vance finally cracked something that resembled a half smile. At least things were out in the open now. Sometimes you had to let yourself go so that you could build yourself back up again. He’d seen it happen enough times with his patients to know that.:: Sheridan: Thanks. ::He took in a deep breath through his nose.:: I have the rest of the day off, so I think I’m going to see how many different desserts my replicator can make before it overloads. Maybe catch up on some rest. ::He was exhausted, after all, and he hadn’t really given himself enough time to recover from the physical toll the last mission had extorted from him.:: Taybrim: I think that is an excellent idea. Set no alarms and sleep as long as you need. ::A fond smile. He knew how grueling Starfleet could be, and for some reason all the good officers seemed to feel guilty when they took time for themselves.:: ::No-one on Vance’s staff had complained once when he’d re-jigged the schedule to give himself some down time. Maybe they had noticed he’d been pulling double shifts since the riots had finished. He doubted they would mind one more morning.:: Sheridan: Thank you, Sir. That’s really good of you. I’ll do that. Taybrim: ::He stood as the other man stood and offered a hand out. It wasn’t quite the Human handshake, just a clasping of hands. The reaffirmation that people were physically there for you, willing to support you without hurting you.:: Rest well, Vance. Let me know where you would like to get lunch tomorrow. ::he smiled with the look of ‘if you sleep through breakfast, I’ll never tell’:: ::Vance really did appreciate that gesture. He’d only met the commander in person just a few minutes ago, and he already felt like he could depend on him. Meeting up for lunch and talking about something other than the horrors of the Noguwip would be a welcome change from driving himself to the point of exhaustion each day. It kept his mind off the things he didn’t want to think about, but it wasn’t doing him any favours in the long run.:: Sheridan: I will. I’m looking forward to it already. ::Sal offered one last parting smile, letting the man leave at his own leisure before he sat back. The whole affair with the Noguwip was turning up some painful and unpleasant truths. He had confidence that both Tiam and Sheridan would recover in time. Perhaps Sheridan would need more time, but he was starting to realize the situation and was certainly taking steps along the path of the healing process. The only member of the away team he hadn’t seen was Nia Calderan, and he was worried that Y’Rocck’s influence was even stronger on her than the others, judging from her reactions when she was beamed back onboard. Considering her position and her relationship to Commander Handley-Page; Sal was very worried about her. The little ginger XO frowned as the doors to his office closed. This past mission rent the crew in more ways than one.:: ::The door slid closed behind quite a different Vance Sheridan than the one that had walked into the office. His eyes were a little less bright than they had been when he’d reported aboard the station, and he felt like he’d left a part of himself on the alien ship. Still, his meeting with Commander Taybrim had proved that there were people who were prepared to help him to get back on his feet. With their help, and by thinking about his own training, he felt he had a good chance of getting through this.:: ~*~ tbc ~*~ A JP by: PNPC Lieutenant Vance Sheridan Counsellor Starbase 118 Ops SIMmed by: Lieutenant Commander Chen ~and~ Lt. Commander Sal Taybrim Executive Officer StarBase 118 Ops
  19. ((Starbase 118: Black Tower, Chen’s Office)) ::Chen could have sat for hours combing through the information on his terminals. Access to BLACKNET. Access to most of the station’s records, across a range of departments. There were things that he knew he wouldn’t be able to see, such as information restricted to the station’s commanding officer and the inhabitants of the Executive Tower, but that didn’t matter; there was more than enough for him to go on, including files that were effectively for his eyes only. It was like being in a candy store.:: ::He had made it a priority to read through the files of all of the personnel under his command. Some of them he had been able to skim read. Others were interesting enough that he’d felt the need to digest them in more detail. He’d been to see a couple of officers and called others in for meetings, and he had finally reached a stage where he knew who his core staff were likely to be.:: ::It had been while he had been looking for any officers from outside the Black Tower with previous experience in intelligence that he had come across the final officer he needed to contact. Lieutenant Sabina Tiam had previously worked for intel, but it seemed that she had been transferred to security previously in her career after a psychological evaluation. There was a note to say that a few things had been redacted from her files as well, although that information seemed to be accessible to Chen. Naturally, that had piqued his interest and, after reading the entire service record, he had decided that she would be the perfect officer to serve in a similar role to one of his previous department heads aboard the USS Vigilant, Kaedyn Zehn. The Trill had been excellent at analysing data, extracting patterns from it and using it to formulate theories. The way he was going, Chen felt he was going to be able to create a ‘think tank’ of officers with that kind of experience for the first time in his career.:: ::He tapped his badge, keen to summon Tiam for a meeting.:: Chen: =/\= Chen to Tiam. =/\= ((Meanwhile, Resident Holodeck 3)) ::Two thick, purple silks hung from far above and wrapped around Tiam’s arms. Using only the resistance, Sabina held herself upright suspended high above the holodeck floor. With a whirl of fabric, she spun herself into a new position, largely inspired by the scorpion yoga pose. Her breath was labored, but even. Her momentum had her swinging, ever so slightly, into the start of a circle, the trail of the silks fluttering on the air.:: ::The art of aerial dance, especially the silks, was both beautiful and intense. The physical strength and mental clarity required was a large part of why the art form had become such an impactful part of the young woman’s life. It took a certain resolve and skill to feel comfortable storeys off the ground. Her practice had become much like her meditation. So when her combadge chirped, the interruption caused her to slip just slightly lower, the silks tightening around her limbs. She silently cursed herself for not putting the thing on mute.:: Chen: =/\= Chen to Tiam. =/\= ::The name was unfamiliar to her, which immediately piqued her interest.:: Tiam: =/\= Tiam here. =/\= Chen: =/\= Sorry to disturb you, Lieutenant. I’m the chief of intelligence. I’d like for you to come and meet me in my office to discuss a few things. Is now a good time? =/\= ::Well, that was certainly unexpected. With a quick unwrapping and rewrapping of the silk, Sabina performed a drop that was so fast it usually made spectators gasp. A ruffle and swoosh could be heard on the comline, she was sure. Having stopped a mere few feet above the floor, Sabina answered as she stood and untangled herself.:: Tiam: =/\= Give me fifteen? =/\= Chen: =/\= Alright. I’ll have someone waiting to bring you up to my office. =/\= Tiam: =/\= Aye, sir. Tiam out. =/\= ::Looking down at her athletic attire (a black catsuit lacking sleeves) she bemoaned the fact that she would have to run and change into a uniform with the few minutes she had instead of having the chance to read up on this Chen. Which was unfortunate because he clearly already knew something about her. Intelligence types did certainly like having the upper hand in meetings.:: ((Small Timeskip, Black Tower)) ::As she had rushed to change, throw her hair up and cover the distance between her habitat section and the Black Tower, Tiam had gone through each possible reason she was being called to a meeting with Chief Chen (which was what she would refer to him as, until she knew his rank at least) and ranked those reasons from most to least likely.:: ::Now, as she was being escorted by a black collared crewman through the Black Tower’s public entrance to the chief’s office, she was convinced that something had come up in one of her recent reports. Whether it had to do with what happened on the Noguwip, or her involvement in uncovering the apparent involvement of Romulans in the recent attacks on the base, she didn’t know. But either way, she was preparing herself to be grilled.:: ::When they approach the office, the crewman requested and was granted access. He motioned for Sabina to enter before returning to his other duties. Walking into the office, she stood at attention, looking to the Andorian chief.:: Tiam: Lt. Tiam, reporting as requested, sir. ::As the lieutenant entered his office, it struck Chen that she was a very similar height to a previous visitor to his office, Clayas Vell. He was a good half a foot taller than both of them, and not especially tall himself.:: ::Still, maybe it was beneficial to be shorter if you worked in a black collar. He was short himself by Andorian standards but, rather than allow any of the teasing that had been aimed in his direction at the academy to bother him, he had just reminded himself that it was easier for him to fit into hiding places than the members of his species who had reached the heady heights of six and a half feet.:: Chen: Have a seat, Lieutenant. Good to meet you. ::Sabina took the seat opposite him, crossing one leg over the other. She was ever aware of her movements and body language. Her cobalt eyes settled on the chief, quietly considering.:: Tiam: Likewise, sir. ::The chan tapped at his console, scrolling through the records that were displayed on the screen.:: Chen: I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I recently transferred here to take charge of the intelligence department. As a part of that, I’ve been looking at making sure we have the best possible team, and that’s led me to review a few files belonging to people who used to work in intelligence but don’t any more. ::Sabina resisted the urge to shift in her seat. That certainly wasn’t the conversation she had expected. Still, she didn’t want to assume where he was going with this, lest she get her hopes up.:: Tiam: I see. Chen: According to these logs, you were shipped out of intel a while back? It cites psychological reasons, but they saw fit to expunge those records from your medical files. Can you explain why that was? ::Oddly it seemed to be classified above her clearance level, which meant that Chen wouldn’t be able to share it with her even if she didn’t.:: ::That particular fact made Sabina rather uncomfortable. And despite her ability to hide that discomfort in most ways, the young Betazoid’s artificially colored eyes shifted to a darker, more navy blue right along with the shift in her emotions. Tiam silently cursed herself for not yet having that malfunction taken care of yet.:: Tiam: I could only speculate, sir. ::And frankly, she prefered not to.:: ::According to the files, Tiam was currently cleared for general duty - there was nothing to say that she was on restricted duties due to psychological reasons, and there was even a record for her latest visit to see a counsellor, within the last few days. Interestingly, Chen had been given the option to override the usual lockouts on those files, which he guessed was a facet of holding the position he held, but he had opted not to. He had enough integrity to respect doctor/patient confidentiality, and the fact that she hadn’t had her availability to work full shifts changed told him everything he needed to know. However, it seemed that she hadn’t passed the psychological exam required of intelligence officers, which was often tougher, right back when she had been doing her intelligence training.:: Chen: Am I right in thinking that you haven’t been experiencing any major problems recently? Nothing that would keep you from doing your duties? Tiam: That’s correct, sir. I’ve never been relieved from general duty. ::The Andorian looked from Tiam to the computer screen and back again, then scratched one of his eyebrows absently as he weighed up his options. Lieutenant Tiam had all of the skills needed to be a top flight analyst. While Vell had experience in that field, it seemed he would be better suited to cryptology when the team was working on full scale projects. Tiam, on the other hand, seemed like she would be able to keep a track of all incoming data, managing and making sense of it in real time. Of course, there was always bound to be some overlap between officers in terms of ability, but he didn’t see that as a problem - it just meant the department could be more versatile.:: Chen: What would you say if I told you I’d like you to put a black collar on again? I can take care of filing the paperwork to initiate your transfer today, if necessary. I think you’d fit into the team I’m trying to build very well, and you’re in the right place to skill up, if you feel like expanding your repertoire. ::Up until this point, Sabina had tried to remain as reserved as possible. But his offer had been wholly unexpected. The last time someone tried to put her in an Intelligence department, transfer orders to 118 had come through mere days later. She had started to accept that she wouldn’t make it back to that particular division of Starfleet. And now, an opportunity with not just an Intel department on some starship, but the Black Tower had presented itself. How could she say no? Still, she tried to temper her excitement.:: Tiam: I would say that’s something I’m very interested in. ::Her resolve finally cracked in the form of a half-smile.:: And for the record, I’ll take any opportunity to expand my skill set. Chen: Good. There are a lot of personnel in this department, but I like my front runners to as versatile as possible. I get the feeling that things aren’t quiet all that often in this region of space. ::Conceivably, they could be called upon where they would have to run a field operation en masse, or cover for someone else, working outside their comfort zone. It never hurt to be prepared.:: Tiam: I do have one question. ::The Andorian’s eyebrows and antennae both lifted in curiosity.:: Chen: What’s that? Tiam: Will I be cleared for field work as well? Or are there duty restrictions on file? ::In her past several missions, trying as they were, Sabina had learned that it was her work in the thick of things that really pushed her and helped her grow. As hard as the work may be, she didn’t want to give it up. Desk jobs were wonderful and wonderfully safe, but despite herself, it had been made clear to her that she wouldn’t reach her full potential hiding in an office.:: ::The brows descended again and Chen looked at Sabina through narrowed eyes for a moment, thinking about how to talk to her without giving too much away.:: Chen: There are duty restrictions on file, but let me take a look at what I can do to get them lifted. All the time you’ve been serving as a security officer might just give you the edge you need to give me a hand with that, but there’s no much more I can say. Tiam: ::Nodding.:: Understood. Well sir, I’d be more than happy to join the team, if you’ll have me. Chen: Consider it done. I’ll take care of the transfer request right away. There’s a meeting in the main briefing room tomorrow at 0800. Tiam: Aye, sir. ::Her eyes sparkled with an excitement that the rest of her expression did not betray.:: ::There was just one more thing. Chen hadn’t made it through all of his intelligence training by being sloppy - being attentive to details was something he prided himself on, and he had noticed something that he found quite interesting.:: Chen: Before you go, I have a question too. This whole time we were talking, I noticed that your eyes have been changing colour. If you don’t mind me asking, do you have implants? ::He imagined it was possible that she was using some kind of device as a result of losing her sight, although there was nothing to indicate that in her files and he couldn’t see any evidence of circuitry, as he would have expected in standard ocular implants.:: Tiam: ::She chuckled, looking away momentarily.:: I do, actually. Though it’s merely a cosmetic implant. The color variance is a slight malfunction I’ll be taking care of… ::She could have gone on, explaining that she got them when she started at the Academy but had found them most useful while studying with SFI and that being assumed a Terran instead of a Betazoid often made her job of gathering intelligence all the easier, but she had a feeling the chief could put two and two together.:: Chen: Interesting. Alright, I think I’ve pried enough for one day. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. :Tiam nodded with a sense of finality and stood to leave. Before turning to walk to the door, she paused.:: Tiam: Thank you for the opportunity, sir. I don’t know what exactly was put into my file, but I hope to prove myself an asset to the team. ::With that, Sabina turned to exit the office and the Black Tower, feeling enthusiastic knowing she would be coming back to the state-of-art facility for her regular duty shifts. Commander Chen seemed to be a straightforward leader, and Sabina respected that. Now, only time would tell if he expected the same bluntness from his team and whether or not Sabina would be able to overcome any lingering reservations he, or the powers that be, may have about her return to a black collar.:: TBC A JP by Lieutenant Commander Chen Chief Intelligence Officer Starbase 118 Ops & Lt.Jg. Sabina Tiam Intelligence Officer Starbase 118 Op
  20. ((Tiam’s Quarters)) ::The soft golden glow of candlelight emanated from the small alter set up in the corner of Sabina Tiam’s bedroom. A Betazoid prayer candle, colored with swirls of silver and gold in white wax and scented with a sharp, almost acidic citrus, burned slowly in the center. Surrounded by stones representing the Great Houses and small figures of key mythological characters, the candle was the center of Sabina’s attention.:: ::In the early morning hours, her mind was still malleable from sleep, though stress already plagued her thoughts. Now, deeper into her meditative state, her worries had eased their grip on the pit of her stomach. Breathing evenly and intentionally, the young woman focused only on the flame. She neither saw, nor heard, anything else. And once she had settled into this singular focus, Sabina opened her mind. She reached out to the base around her, open to whatever emanated from it’s inhabitants.:: ::She took a deep breath in, filling her lungs and expanding her diaphragm. And then slowly exhaled the air in a steady, purposeful push.:: ::She felt the minds around her, a countless number. She knew they were there, surrounding her on the base.:: ::Another breath.:: ::Still, the minds were present. Present and utterly nondescript.:: ::Sabina tried to focus, brows knotting as she intensified her gaze. She tried to look deeper, tried to feel the tenor of the populous. After their visit from Taree, one would expect heightened tension, maybe exhaustion.:: ::But she couldn’t say with certainty she felt anything like that. She could feel she wasn’t alone; the world hadn’t gone quiet. But it was so… muffled. As she pushed herself to try just a little harder, she felt the same anxiety she had woken up with twist at her insides.:: ::Sabina was experienced enough to know she wouldn’t get anywhere with fear gripping at her. She sighed in frustration, forcefully enough to extinguish the candle in front of her.:: ::Resigning herself to getting ready for the day, she began the process of making herself presentable. But she couldn’t let go of what was happening as she moved through her quarters. Her sleep had been uninterrupted, which meant her recent counseling session with Sheridan must have been worth something. But, upon waking, she had found that without the dream to preoccupy her, the only thing she was left with was an uncomfortable emptiness. An emptiness that came only in part from her muffled empathy.:: ::It wasn’t that she was experiencing major, or consistent issues with her telepathy. During her day-to-day activities it had functioned much the way it always did. Though, it was not as if she walked around reading the minds of passers-by as it was. Still, when she was meditating and trying to control her mind and use any amount of real finesse, she felt this uncomfortable tightening of her nerves in her core. But, outside of that, she was fine.:: ::That was why when Vance had asked her if her telepathy was back to normal, she had said, for the most part, yes. She had been sure that with just a little more time she would be able to get herself back to 100%. That, and a negative answer would have prompted more questions, probably tests that were unnecessary and potentially notes in her file that she would rather avoid.:: ::But now with the nightmares seemingly ceased, she had been left with no distractions, save for the ones she made for herself. In fact, without the Dominion war and her anger at the abandonment of her people in the forefront of her mind, it seemed all she was left with were her memories of the Noguwip and the last time her telepathy had been functioning the way she had trained for it to. But the last thing she wanted to think about was her time on that ship.:: ::The dark-haired telepath looked at her reflection in the mirror. She was adorned with her usual combination of a catsuit (this time a long sleeved dark green number) and a multilayer sheer wrap, this one being iridescent. Her face too, looked the same as usual. Her mane of wavy dark hair framed her oval face. Her blue eyes were lined in black and enhanced with layers of mascara. But as she stared at the woman in mirror, something about her looked… off, out of place. Like the mirror could see a part of her was missing.:: ::She had been able to talk through her feelings of being outplayed on the Noguwip. Which was something that, for her, was more than a blow to the ego. But what she had not spoken about was Y-rocck. Or the heady mix of mastery and violation he had brought into her mind. What she hadn’t realized at the time was that he had taken something with him. He had taken her sovereignty over her own mind. Trying to face that felt like standing on the edge of one dark, wide canyon and she was determined not to fall in.:: ::But despite the feelings left after she let go of the memory from her youth, she was determined not to regress.:: Tiam: ::To her reflection.:: Normalcy begets normalcy. ::Eventually, if she just kept her chin up, and went about her life as usual, she would feel normal again. And so too would her mastery over her telepathy return. Eventually the knotted fear infesting her when she tried to work her mind would fade. She could get through this, and she could do it on her own. She wouldn’t need to burden anyone else. She was already sleeping better, surely that was encouragement enough.:: ::In the mirror, she smiled purposefully, practicing until it was convincing. What had happened was in the past. She would carry on about her business as such.:: Tiam: oO Fake it until you make it. Oo ::Turning to exit the bedroom, Tiam prepared to leave her quarters for the day. She would go to the promenade; get lost in a crowd or indulge in a luscious breakfast. Anything but facing the mirror and the truth therein.:: Lt.Jg. Sabina Tiam Intelligence Officer Starbase 118
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