((CMO's office - Starbase 118))
((Time index - Night before Keal's party))
::There was a small crack in the wall. Barely noticeable. It looked more like a chip of paint, probably leftover from when she'd moved her desk the first time and stubbornly refused help to do it. The crack was jagged, but easily fixed. In fact, the more she stared, the more she wondered if it was a crack at all, or just a shadow. All the lights were off, nothing except the soft glow of her monitor at her desk. The desk which she'd vacated about an hour ago, to curl up on the sofa and stare at the wall. Seven hundred souls. Seven hundred rescued slaves. Since they returned to base, Mirra had been working with Ishani and her crisis response team, as well as Aelia and her veritable army of counselors. They'd all been running ragged, offering aide when and where they could. They were exhausted.
But...they didn't have her job. After the treatment plan had been developed and implemented, she was approached with a rather delicate situation. That mine had been under Syndicate operation for years. Given the conditions of the rescued workers, life expectancy in the mines varied...but was consistently short. Her job, had been attempting to identify the remains. Cataloging the species in hopes, bringing closure to families who had long ago given up hope of ever finding out what happened to their missing loved ones. Tucked away in her office, she shouldered the burden and began her work. The worst was the before pictures. Smiling, healthy faces with the bold red "Missing" banner, and the date. Some were old enough to be her grandparents. Each match she made would bring a small bit of peace to those waiting at home, but each match took a bit of her soul with it. Mirra had to step away for a moment before she gave it all away. And that brought her to the innocent little crack in her wall. So absorbed in her examination of the curious little crack, she missed the light tapping on the door of her office.::
Zotav: ::quietly:: Mirra...?
::Aelia Zotav had been Mirra's roommate at the academy. Both had majored in medicine, but life had taken them to different paths. Separated by duty for years, they'd recently been reunited, Aelia choosing to move from medicine to counseling, her trained eye took a backseat. Mirra at this moment didn't need a therapist, she needed a friend. She carefully settled next to Mirra, who was staring intently at the wall, knees up and arms wrapped protectively around them. Maximum safety position. Aelia knew what Mirra had been doing, and her heart broke just a little for her friend. Laying her head against Mirra's shoulder, she spoke softly.::
Zotav: ::gently:: How many...?
Ezo: ::evenly:: Three hundred and twelve.
::Three hundred and twelve souls returned to their Gods, freed from the mines long before Starfleet ever arrived. Those were the only ones she'd been able to identify, so far. There were countless numbers she hadn't been able to match...yet. She planned to ask Aitas to do some more extensive digging. Some of those people were most likely drifters, no official medical record reports to match them to. There were even more so degraded they would never be identified. They were cataloged in a massive log that hurt to even think about. Those lives would be remembered as a file, on a database somewhere, and nothing more.::
Zotav: ::wrapping her arms around Mirra in a tight squeeze:: You did a good thing.
Ezo: ::hollow:: I didn't do anything...I couldn't ::her voice cracked::
Zotav: ::gently:: You brought peace. Closure. ::hugging tighter:: Mirra...they were already gone...
::Mirra took one arm from around her own legs and wrapped it around Aelia. Burying her face into the ocean of inky black curls of her friends hair, and lost the battle against her tears.::
Zotav: ::holding her friend close, her own tears slipped down her face. She kept her voice even:: And now, you honor them with your tears. You've been doing this for hours...alone.
Ezo: ::whimpering softly:: So many I can't...they won't match...and...no one will remember them if I can't find them...
Zotav: ::softly:: It's alright...you've done everything you can...and we will remember them. We will honor them.
::Aelia moved her hand through Mirra's hair, making soft soothing motions and humming softly. After a few moments, they both managed to stop crying, and the two friends linked hands, each in their own thoughts, but focused on the small crack in the wall.::
Ezo: ::quietly:: I should fix that crack...
Zotav: ::tilting her head:: It kind of looks like a happy little bunny...I think it's cute. You should leave it.
::A small smile broke across Mirra's face. No matter how dark the moment, Aelia was never far from the sun. She snuggled closer to her friend, who never ceased to bring Mirra back into the light. Nuzzling her shoulder affectionately, Mirra gazed on her little bunny shaped crack in a new light. Even in the most dire of times, with Aelia's help, she'd work a little harder to find the bunny. In whatever shape it took.::
PNCP Lt. Aelia Zotav
Lt. Commander Mirra Ezo, MDChief Medical Officer Starbase 118 OpsC239205ME0