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  1. JP by Choi, T’Reshik and Saveron: River of Dreams - Part 1 “In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep From the mountains of faith To a river so deep I must be looking for something Something sacred I lost But the river is wide And it's too hard to cross” ~ Billy Joel, River of Dreams (( Vulcan - Sutek Monastery )) ::Thunder rumbled distantly over the Voroth Sea, little more than a murmur by the time it reached the shore. The Sutek monastery had stood for a millennium, an airy structure, with a number of arches and plateaus open to the wind and the salt spray of the ocean below below as it dashed against the crags.:: ::Ji-hu watched lightning skein across the dark purple sky on the horizon, sitting on the highest plateau, his knees pulled up to his chest. He couldn’t remember how he’d gotten there. He’d been in San Francisco a moment before… or was it the San Francisco district on Starbase 118? He kept blinking, hoping the images of the Vulcan man hemmoraghing before his eyes would go away.:: ::A monarch butterfly flew by.:: Choi: Can anyone hear me?! ::Light footsteps sounded behind him. Between two pillars came the glimpse of a dark-haired child in blue robes before she disappeared again, her footfalls echoing into the distance.:: ::Ji-hu sat up and turned towards the sound. The child was familiar, he wanted to follow her.:: Choi: T’Reshik, is that you? :: Rows upon rows of tiny zeroes and ones flashed under his feet with the distant lightning, bright beneath the stone for a moment before disappearing. The Vulcan child slipped into view again, a small, determined-looking girl with a stack of papers in her arms that looked almost too bulky for her to carry. Then she turned and ran, dropping sheets of paper in her wake that turned into butterflies and skittered toward the sea before Choi had a chance to read them. :: Tirak: They are moving toward the storm. Choi: ::spinning around:: Wait… I… know you? :: Sutek’s lab assistant caught one in his hand, and it lingered there for a moment before fluttering on its way again. He was a tall, graceful-looking man, with an auburn tint to his hair that was uncommon in Vulcans of T’Reshik’s ethnicity.:: Tirak: You humans call them “moths”, do you not? Choi: Butterfly. Danaus plexippus. Monarch. Notable for their annual southward late-summer or autumn migration from northern and central United States and southern Canada to... Florida and... Mexico. ::Ji-hu blinked again, not sure why he was spouting off scientific facts. Didn’t he have better things to do? He should get out of the monastery, get back to… wherever he had been…:: Choi: Do you know where that little girl went? It’s like she’s… hiding from me or something. Tirak: Interesting. I do not believe it is you she is hiding from. Most likely she does not realize she is hiding at all. Choi: I should look for her. Can you give me directions to the lab? ::Why he had to go to the lab he couldn’t say, but he had a problem he’d find her there, or maybe some answers.:: Tirak: Unlikely, but deductive reasoning would suggest that moving in the opposite direction to the butterflies will lead you there, if that is where she is headed. Choi: That is logical… ::Was it?:: Thank you. Are you… going to be okay? Tirak: Negative. I have been dead for some time now. Choi: Of… course. I’m so sorry. ::Ji-hu’s hand formed the ta'al, though it felt a perverse symbol given what he knew about Tirak, somewhere deep inside of him. What would happen to the man, or what had already happened. He turned and began down the steps of the monastery, monarch’s passing by in the opposite direction as they danced up the winding staircase, on their way out of the monastery. Flying out to sea. Hopefully they would land somewhere and reproduce so their children could carry on the journey.:: ::The sky seemed to progressively darken as Choi descended, not only a result of the approaching storm or the surrounding walls but also of the strange architectural shifts that seemed to happen in dreams. Ancient bricks became ancient cliffsides, then twisted arcs of metal, with butterflies dancing ever upward through the gaps into the distant grey clouds. The sight that greeted him at the bottom was darkly familiar.:: ::It was the ESPO, and yet it wasn’t; piles of paper and ancient scrolls had been stacked up at one end, as if forming a flimsy sort of barricade; the consoles around him glowed with unfamiliar colour, bled out into arteries of wire leading to ancient machinery, almost biological in its construction. The girl was standing at the opposite end. She looked to be between nine and eleven years old, but the cast of her face and the determination in her eyes was unmistakable - he was looking at T’Reshik. :: Choi: T’hy’la? What are you doing? T’Reshik: You should not be here. ::She looked at the parchment barricade behind her.:: I tried to keep it out. This hurricane will not lose traction when it hits land, and we are too close to the shore. Choi: What’s… what is it? ::The child-T’Reshik moved to a console, pulled out a wire; blood the colour of emeralds flowed from the empty port, trickling onto the floor in unsettling quantity, staining the girl’s bare feet. She replaced the plug elsewhere, ignoring the bleeding. A low rumbling, the sound of thunder, or wind hitting stone, sent shivers through the building.:: T’Reshik: This? A solution. Ultimately fruitless, but it kept the wolf from the door for a few years. ::She looked at him, her eyes chilling and empty.:: That is the phrase, is it not? The wolf from the door? These new memories are… chaotic. Choi: Memories? Is that what these are? Last I remember I was… sick… something bad had happened, someone was hurt… Do you know what I’m talking about? I… can’t remember... ::The great stone structure creaked. Papers fluttered to the ground, shrunk and grew wings. Butterflies tried to emerge, but faltered in their flight, weighed down by the thin layer of green blood they were now soaked in.:: T’Reshik: I do not know you. I suspect it is a shame that you must die here. So many have died to this. ::She moved to the next console, grabbing a sheaf of papers and stuffing them into a recess, and blood seeped out from around them, the air smelling of sweet verdigris now, organic and damp.:: ::Ji-hu felt queasy from the copper tang in the air, the way the butterflies flapped, caught in the blood. He reached down and scooped one up, the warm blood sticking to his hand, but the monarch came away easy enough, wings twitching, attempting to dry.:: Choi: ::to himself:: I can at least protect you. T’Reshik: Do you hear that? The oceans on this part of Vulcan are turbulent. The hurricanes can last for days. Perhaps you might find it beautiful. ::She looked up as a crash sounded and the whole building shook.:: It is destroying the monastery. I expected as much. Choi: ::cupping the monarch in his hand:: What is it? Can we save the monastery? Can we get away? T’Reshik: It is in here too. ::The wind kicked up around her feet, battering at the bloodsoaked hem of her robe, the discarded papers, the remaining butterflies on the ground. The air seemed to become warmer.:: It always was. ::There was a chilling kind of maturity to the way she enunciated those words. The air picked up further, buffeting at Choi’s form.:: Choi: T’Reshik… you need to help me… I need to get out of here I was... ???: T’hy’la! ::A patter of feet, heavier, and fast. T’Reshik appeared in the doorway - not a child, this time, but an adult, wearing the same lab coat he had seen her in during their mind meld.:: ::Ji-hu blinked, as the storm began to wrench apart the laboratory, the winds seemed to muddle his mind. They were chilling, but he felt too hot. His mind was muddled, he could barely think.:: Choi: If you’re… but... T’Reshik-2: That is not me. Come with me, now. ::She reached out her hand.:: ::Ji-hu recoiled away. If he uncupped his hand the butterfly would get torn away by the howling wind as it continued to tear apart the structures around them before it could fly again.:: Choi: No… I’m not g-g-going with you! You… you did something... ::T’Reshik began to physically drag him, and it seemed as if the ground crumbled away behind him at every step. Girders creaked and bricks fell at either side of the staircase, and the wind howled far above.:: Choi: ::shouting:: Help me, I’m so scared, t’hy’la… I feel so lost… Where are we? Are these memories? T’Reshik-2: ::shouting over the sound:: Unsure. Some kind of shared hallucination. The last I recall, I was about to mind-meld with you. Did that occur? ::Bright green butterflies the colour of blood flooded up around them as they ascended.:: Choi: Mind… meld… yes… we merged, I could remember… too much… T’Reshik: Ji-hu, this is important. Can you remember anything about what followed? ::prompting:: We were in sickbay, we were initiating a mind meld, and then... Choi: And then… ::They were in the surgery, but it was more Vulcan in design than anything in Starfleet, parts of the wall were exposed and beyond they could see a hurricane cycling around them, the blazing hot sun of Vulcan cutting through the tendrils of storm.:: ::Wyn stood over the operating table, though he was far away, somehow, he wasn’t coming through. T’Reshik lay there, only they were operating on the T’Reshik that had watched her husband die, they could both tell instinctually. Ji-hu was there as well, though he seemed to burn with darkness.:: Foster: ... not ready... withdrawing the probe… ::The other Ji-hu reached a dark, blazing hand out, which found the console.:: Choi: No… no! ::He reached out his hand to stop him, and as he feared the butterfly was whipped away. The room seemed to twist and scream around them, metal screeching against metal, stone grinding against stone. Ji-hu and T’Reshik were cocooned in the structure, obscuring the scene without, protecting them from the storm.:: ::Ji-hu glanced down at his hands. They were quite literally covered in warm, oxidizing greenish blood.:: Choi: I… killed you… Wyn wanted to s-s-stop and I… T’Reshik: ::abruptly:: No. I remember now. That was my influence. You are not to blame. Choi: No… you don’t understand. I wanted to keep going. It wasn’t just you. I could have stopped but I… wanted to… and now you’re dead… all that’s left is your… katra… I killed you... ::T’Reshik’s eyes widened a little, as if in realization. She spoke rapidly.:: T’Reshik: Choi. If this is true, and I am dead, you need to listen to me, and you need to focus. Something is wrong here. I cannot yet ascertain- ::Ji-hu pushed her away and the cocoon separated them, pushing her out and pulling him in deeper and darker. It was quieter here, calmer.:: Choi: Computer, begin encryption process for a three-tiered firewall security system. I don’t want anyone getting in or out. Computer: Acknowledged. ::Outside, T’Reshik was joined with the Choi who burned darkly. He smiled at her and took her hand in his own.:: Choi: We make a much more logical pair, wouldn’t you say t’hy’la? ::T’Reshik spun round as the storm battered at her lab coat, jerking her hand out of his. It had seemed natural to offer Choi her hand earlier, despite the intimacy of the gesture - like siblings huddling close against the cold - but the version who had taken it now sent warning tingles up the back of her neck, or the memory of it. If T’Reshik was dead now, it was reasonable to assume that she no longer had a physical form, and that quiet realization felt less important than the idea that her katra was actively endangering its host somehow.:: ::It was reasonable also to assume that this dark-burning Choi who seemed to wholly lack the… the humanity of the original was an extension of that problem.:: T’Reshik: What are you? Choi: I’m Lieutenant Choi Ji-hu, the better parts, anyway. The ambition, the cunning, the intellect. The parts you saw a reflection of yourself in, I’d guess. ::T’Reshik flared her nostrils disapprovingly.:: T’Reshik: I always knew psychoanalysis was a pointless discipline. ::She closed her eyes, attempting to assert some order on the situation; felt the raging torrent of their clashing minds resist, and pushed further. The ground cracked. Walls formed, then were swept away into the whirling chaos; wires unfurled from beneath her feet and spread into the distance, heralded by streaming lines of bright code, and one by one the hurricane tore them up again and dragged them into the distance.:: Choi: ::smiling:: Perhaps you might find it beautiful. T’Reshik: I am not impressed by you. On the contrary. Now that I have a vague idea of what you are, this should make my task easier. Choi: There is no task, t’hy’la, there’s no problem to be solved. We were working for the same purpose. To survive and overcome. If that means killing the weaker part of myself… what are you doing? ::T’Reshik turned back to the twisted stone-and-metal cocoon, and started to wrench one of the girders from the outside, her muscles straining implausibly from the exertion - how could one ache in a body that was not there?:: Choi: Why are you hurting yourself to get at… ::motioning at the cocoon:: … that. I’m right here. T’Reshik: ::straining:: If I am forced to guess, you are some kind of subconscious manifestation of negative emotion, possibly fear. Given that mine is conveniently elsewhere, subduing you should present no difficulty. Choi: ::amused:: Subduing me. I guess I should know that about you by now. You have a hard time admitting when it’s time to give up. ::She tore the metal away and swung at him.:: ::Choi ducked once, then again, bringing his hand up to stop the jagged metal bit.:: Choi: Huh, I’m much better at hand-to-hand without pesky anxiety getting in the way. Though I don’t know why you’re fighting me, t’hy’la. We should be embracing. Oh well... ::The ground shuddered and parted, and she was thrown sideways, her hands scrabbling to keep herself away from the the edge of what was now a deep precipice, nothing visible beyond but the raging sandstorm which smelt of blood. The weapon tumbled out of her grip and fell away.:: Choi: You can’t fix this, there’s no solution. It’s a decision I’ve made myself. T’Reshik: ::picking herself up:: No. There is always a solution. ::She gave the not-Choi one last, determined look, and ran for the edge.:: TBC “And even though I know the river is wide I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore And try to cross to the opposite side So I can finally find out what I've been looking for” ~ Billy Joel, River of Dreams A JP by Lieutenant (JG) Choi Ji-hu Engineering Officer USS Constitution-B C239402CJ0 And Commander Saveron Acting First Officer USS Constitution B R238802S10 And Lt (JG) T'Reshik Science USS Constitution D239311T10 JP by Choi, T’Reshik and Saveron: River of Dreams - Part 2 “In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep Through the valley of fear To a river so deep And I've been searching for something Taken out of my soul Something I would never lose Something somebody stole” ~ Billy Joel, River of Dreams (( Mindscape - unknown )) T’Reshik: ::picking herself up:: No. There is always a solution. ::She gave the not-Choi one last, determined look, and ran for the edge.:: Choi: Computer, activate program Choi-88. ::The mindscape began to reconstitute itself, metal fragments and stone whipping about in the storm to reform a new space. An amalgam of monastery, laboratory and starship. Choi-88 was a starship bridge simulation. T’Reshik was placed on a ship that was half-Suurok class, half temple, while Choi remained behind on an obsidian black Galaxy-class vessel. He ran his hand over the cocoon, which sat at the centre of the vessel’s.:: Choi: Shields up, red alert. ::T’Reshik stared at her surroundings with disbelief. Something itched at the back of her mind, but she ignored it. What did this… this whatever it was gain by trying to engage her in a simulation? And why did it seem to have so much control? Was she going to have to start trying to think on some kind of symbolic level in order to correct the situation?:: T’Reshik: Computer. Hail enemy vessel. Choi: =/\= Go ahead, t’hy’la. =/\= T’Reshik: =/\= What do you want? =/\= Choi: =/\= I want you to play a game with me! I do love my starship simulators. Although I’m not sure if I’m the computer core, or the captain of this vessel. Why don’t you fire on me and find out? =/\= T’Reshik: =/\= I will not ‘play your game’ and I refuse to become complicit in harming my friend. Computer, initiate self-destruct-=/\= Saveron: =/\= Belay that, T’Reshik. =/\= ::The bland voice sounded over the comms as a tiny blip appeared on the sensors, racing impossibly fast towards the confrontation. Vastly smaller than either combative ship, on visual ther vessel featured a crescent-shaped head and rotating drive in the tail, the [...]pit big enough for just one person. It left a streak of green plasma across space, like a comet:: ::Everything of course, was an overlay. A mind’s way to interpreting what was going on underneath, like a dream. But this one was in the control of one part of one mind. Saveron had fought other minds across the shifting sands of Vulcan, but this time he was playing by someone else’s rules. ‘Seated’ in the [...]pit of a simulacrum of the fastest ship ever to come out of the Vulcan Science Academy, he found himself ‘dressed’ in full robes and deep desert suit, the usual manifestation of the mental protection he maintained when accessing the mind of another.:: ::A dark aura flickered around Choi’s ship, menacing in a way only diseased thought processes could be. And he’d seen something similar before.:: Choi: =/\= Identify yourself, unmarked vessel. =/\= Saveron: =/\= This is Commander Saveron. Lieutenants, stand down. =/\= ::Not that he expected the order to be obeyed, but the possibility warranted the attempt.:: ::T’Reshik almost experienced relief. She sat back in her chair, letting out a long breath. So that was the source of the odd feeling - another mind, one she had in fact encountered before, and perhaps the very person who could help.:: T’Reshik: =/\= Your presence is fortunate, Commander. What is your assessment of the situation? =/\= Saveron: =/\= It is a pathological personality; such cannot be permitted to return to consciousness. =/\= ::The tiny ship zipped between the two larger ones, jinking and weaving with agility afforded by it’s size the very latest inertial dampeners.:: Choi: =/\= Commander, this matter does not involve you. If you don’t turn back I’ll be forced to fire on you. =/\= ::The obsidian vessel shimmered menacingly, as if the very thought of opening fire gave it pleasure.:: Saveron: =/\= Incorrect. You will choose to fire on me, and bear the consequences of that choice. =/\= T’Reshik: =/\= Commander Saveron, recommend we avoid engagement with the enemy if possible. He has - =/\= ::a pause. Then, with some disbelief; :: =/\= The real Lieutenant Choi is aboard there with him. =/\= ::Saveron believed it. He’d seen it before. Commander Ross’s personality, bound and gagged, by the pathological implant who, in that mindscape, had shifted from Ross’s face to his own.:: Choi: =/\= As I explained to T’Reshik, I’ve made my choice. I’ve lived two lifetimes and seen what I needed to. We are of one mind on the matter, a sacrifice in the name of discovery is worth it. T’Reshik has been able to proceed with her life, blood on her hands, and I will do the same… with her help. =/\= :: T’Reshik gritted her teeth as her hands began to seep with a thin coating of green blood. Why did this mindscape have to be so literal? It was getting difficult to maintain her grip on the piloting controls.:: ::There was no real point in engaging in argument with ‘Choi’. He wasn’t interested in discussion, only his own ends. From his words it sounded as though Choi’s stifled curiosity and perhaps his self-loathing over his lack of confidence had combined with T’Reshik’s stubornness and lack of principles to create a gestalt that was almost whole. It’s dissolution could benefit both parties.:: Saveron: =/\= T’Reshik will find it difficult to assist you if you destroy her. =/\= ::He pointed out.:: T’Reshik: =/\= I have no intention of assisting it. Recommend that you prioritise Lieutenant Choi’s mental wellbeing over retrieval of my katra. If my consciousness needs to be purged for him to survive, so be it. =/\= Choi: ::to himself:: All that remains is to rid myself of this weaker portion… but it will not simply do to jettison it into space… no... ::The little ship, a replica of a single-purpose vessel known as the ‘Jellyfish’’, wheeled in an impossibly tight turn and came back for another pass between the two ships.:: T’Reshik: =/\= Computer, engage shield. Lieutenant Choi, stand down.=/\= Choi: =/\= Open fire on unidentified Vulcan vessel. Do your worst, Commander. You’ll be doing me a favour. =/\= ::Dark lances of energy blazed out of the obsidian vessel, twisting and turning through the mindscape space towards the strange little vessel of Commander Saveron.:: ::The little ship dodged and wove, looping over it’s own track and skimming the shields of the attacking ship, such that many of the dark blasts of energy barely missed it and impacted not their target but their originator. Of itself however it returned no fire.:: Saveron: =/\= Be careful, Lieutenant. Rash action oft backfires. =/\= Choi: =/\= And no action gets us nowhere. =/\= ::T’Reshik was yelling instructions before Choi was even finished speaking, although she'd barely had enough time for shields to initialize, and wasn't entirely sure if this would work, given that the capabilities of this esoteric artifact-ship were still largely unknown to her. Her hands smeared blood on the controls as she attempted to maneuver alongside the smaller ship.:: T’Reshik: =/\= Computer, end transmission =/\= - extend deflector shield to cover Jellyfish-class vessel! ::As the small vessel rolled back away from Choi’s ship it matched phase and slipped inside the shields of T’Reshik’s ship.:: ::An incoming hail on a closed channel signified to Saveron that T’Reshik was done with diplomacy for now. Neither did she make any attempt to return fire; she seemed to be pouring everything she had into shield strength. :: T'Reshik: =/\= Jellyfish, this is T’Reshik. I believe Lieutenant Choi to be experiencing remorse over my death and recommend the application of… counselling. =/\= ::She even managed to say that without conveying her overall disgust with the profession. Mostly.:: =/\= I repeat, since enemy captain seems to have taken Choi’s consciousness hostage, I do not recommend returning fire. =/\= Saveron: =/\= Understood. Ideal outcome is the retrieval of Lieutenant Choi’s consciousness so that we can return you both to your respective bodies. =/\= T’Reshik: =/\=... repeat that, Commander? =/\= Saveron =/\= You and Lieutenant Choi are to be returned to your respective bodies, and the pathological personality must be excised. =/\= ::He added, in case that wasn’t obvious.:: =/\= That is the reason for my presence. =/\= ::There was silence on the line.:: T'Reshik: =/\= Am I to understand that I am not dead? =/\= Saveron: =/\= Affirmative, though your body is currently in a vegetative state. =/\= ::Pending the installation of a consciousness.:: T'Reshik: =/\= … interesting. In which case, what is your recommendation? =/\= Saveron: ::On the closed line.:: =/\= It is important that you transport Lieutenant Choi’s hostaged personality onto your ship. It must be separated from the pathological personality.=/\= T’Reshik: =/\= Understood; preparing for transport now. Signal when ready.=/\= Saveron: =/\= The moment will be apparent. =/\= ::The little ship wheeled around and exited the shields of T’Reshik’s ship again, bringing it once more into weapons, and communications, range of Choi’s. T’Reshik was absolutely right, his weaponry was not phasers, but something far more deadly.:: Saveron: =/\= Do you know why I am here, Lieutenant Choi? =/\= ::T’Reshik stayed silent on the general line, simply listening and waiting.:: Choi: =/\= To interfere, I assume. To return things to the status quo, to steal my t’hy’la and the power of will she has given me away. =/\= ::His ‘t’hy’la?:: Saveron: =/\= That is my purpose, but not the cause. I am here to intervene because Wyn Foster requested that I do so. =/\= ::Silence crackled on the line as the obsidian black ship pulled into a new attack pattern. The little ship dodged and dove, staying out of the line of it’s conventional weaponry.:: Choi: =/\= I won’t be swayed, Commander. I have already made my choice. =/\= Saveron: =/\= Do you believe that Wyn will not perceive the change, Lieutenant? =/\= ::He asked rhetorically.:: =/\= He is perceptive, and above all a healer. Do you think he will thank you for what you are doing? That cold ambition will appeal to him? =/\= ::Silence.:: Choi: =/\= You’re not wrong, Commander. Maybe this is a sign that I don’t need Wyn any longer… =/\= ::The voice sounded unsure, for the first time. Something of the iron will the Choi-ship was trying to impose had eroded somewhat.:: Saveron: =/\= Perhaps. But does he still need you? It would hurt him deeply to see you change from the Choi he knew and loved to one with no compassion, all ambition. =/\= ::And he knew Wyn wouldn’t stand for it.:: Choi: =/\= Still, better to live from a position of strength and power, than to fall back on old vulnerabilities and failings. Arm photon torpedoes. Fire when ready. =/\= ::A new series of burning dark lances fanned out from the ship, twisting and screaming through space. Again the little ship twisted and dove, though this time the lances missed it by only the narrowest of margins, and it’s shields flashed as they were grazed.:: Saveron: =/\= A pathological personality will not be permitted to survive. If you will not yield now, you will do so on Vulcan. =/\= ::There were those with far greater skills in such things than he.:: Choi: =/\= And if you excise me, what then? Ji-hu will have to live with what he’s done. =/\= T'Reshik: =/\= Incorrect. I am still alive.=/\= Saveron: =/\= Both T’Reshik and Choi live, as yet. =/\= ::He confirmed.:: ::There was a moment’s silence as the comm line crackled. The shields on the obsidian ship fell.:: Choi: =/\= What the… get those shields back up! Now! =/\= ::T’Reshik activated the transporter hurriedly, still smearing green on the controls as she poured all available resources in attempting to get a lock on the hostage. It might not have been what Saveron had planned, but she knew an opportunity when she saw it.:: ::Saveron hadn’t been certain exactly how he was going to get those shields down; the nature of the dreamscape required constant improvisation. Failure from inside suggested that there was still some internal struggle.:: T’Reshik: =/\=Target locked and energizing.=/\= ::T’Reshik turned her face to the materializing figure behind her, blood-slick hand poised over weapon controls. She wasn't going to fire until she knew Ji-hu was safe, but she didn't trust the other Choi not to turn on her the moment he noticed his leverage was gone.:: Saveron: =/\= T’Reshik; set a distant destination, maximum warp, once you have Choi. =/\= ::The “program” began to break apart the second the stone and metal cocooon-computer core transported onto the Vulcan temple-ship. A nearby red dwarf began to fracture apart, as if being torn to pieces by some invisible hurricane out of space. The starry, dark backdrop began to flicker. Only the ships remained, the minds behind them still stabilizing their projection. The “simulation,” however, was breaking down, tearing itself apart.:: Choi: ::darkly:: =/\= T’hy’la, I thought we were one mind on this, but you’re giving me no choice. If I can’t have your katra, I’ll do my best to carry on our work without you. End transmission. =/\= ::The black Galaxy-class vessel wheeled about, entering an offensive posture towards T’Reshik’s ship, and the same dark lances of energy shot forth in tendrils, twisting and turning, bleeding pixels as they skeined their way through space as it broke down.:: ::The little ship wheeled around again, flying a long arc across the back of Choi’s temple/ship, and as it reached the zenith of the arc, it’s cargo doors opened, and a sphere was ejected from the ship in the direction of the far larger vessel.:: ::In real life the substance had been red; in the dreamscape it was silver and seemed infinitely reflective, yet what it reflected was not the scene before it. Faces came and went; Wyn, Rue, Jalana, Choi’s parents. Scenes familiar and dear, though some were obviously taken from holographs that Saveron had pulled from the computer; others straight from Choi’s memories. The ESPO offices, his messy quarters, Starfleet Academy in summer, Korea in spring. The smell of blossoms and snow on the wind, the taste of hot chips. The friends and family who appreciated Choi for who he was, social anxiety and all.:: ::The little ship zipped away again, towards the smaller ship that held T’Reshik and Choi’s consciousness, and the silver sphere fell inexorably towards the giant, looming ship.:: TBC “I don't know why I go walking at night But now I'm tired and I don't want to walk anymore I hope it doesn't take the rest of my life Until I find what it is that I've been looking for” ~ Billy Joel, River of Dreams A JP by Lieutenant (JG) Choi Ji-hu Engineering Officer USS Constitution-B C239402CJ0 And Commander Saveron Acting First Officer USS Constitution B R238802S10 And Lt (JG) T'Reshik Science USS Constitution D239311T10 JP by Choi, T’Reshik and Saveron: River of Dreams - Part 3 “In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep Through the desert of truth To the river so deep We all end in the ocean We all start in the streams We're all carried along By the river of dreams” ~ Billy Joel, River of Dreams (( Mindscape - unknown )) ::The imposing, black vessel seemed momentarily vexed about continuing the attack pattern against T’Reshik’s ship or pulling away into some kind of defensive maneuver. The momentary hesitation was all it took as the substance hit it. The ship shuddered, went dark and then began to drift, pulled into the gravity well of the black hole’s storm as it tore apart the “simulation.”:: ::T’Reshik, delayed by the dual demands of navigational calculations and making sure Choi’s cocoon had arrived in one piece, jumped to warp, and the stars froze and smeared in place on the viewscreen as she left the disintegrating ship far behind her.:: T’Reshik: Ji-hu? Can you hear me? ::Ji-hu’s eyes fluttered inside the core he had created for himself. A monarch had landed on his eyebrow, it’s wings extending and closing. He felt oddly cool, like a heat wave had broken and a gentle rain had swept through wherever he was. He also felt more tired than he had ever felt in his life.:: Choi: ::exhausted:: Computer, status. Computer: Level 2 encryption b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-broken. Level 2 encr--SYSTEMS ERROR. Choi: Release level 3 encryption. System shutdown. ::The chamber around him began to fall apart as the simulation terminated. Suddenly they were all on the monastery’s plateau overlooking the Voroth Sea. A hurricane raged in the distance, a dark, twisting structure of grey and purple.:: ::Ji-hu was sitting with his knees pulled up to his chest. He glanced up at Saveron and blushed, his eyes falling back down to the violent, churning sea water.:: Choi: You’re the r-r-real Saveron? ::It would be easy to doubt the identity of the tall figure, swathed in heavy robes over a deep desert suit, only the grey eyes visible. But even as it nodded, the cowl fell away and the face mask peeled back, revealing the familiar visage.:: Saveron: Affirmative. Choi: ::to T’Reshik:: And… and you’re alive? I didn’t k-k-k-kill you? ::T’Reshik wiped green smears onto her lab coat.:: T’Reshik: I am. You did not. Saveron: Doctor Foster managed to repair the damage. ::He could have said more, but that could wait until they were all back inside their own heads.:: Choi: I’m so tired. Can we g-go home? T’Reshik: I concur. Commander? Is that possible? Saveron: Theoretically. ::He confirmed.:: I have prepared to perform the Fal-tor-pan. ::Of course, he’d never done it before, nor received the level of training of a Temple Priest, but he’d come this far.:: T’Reshik: ::to Choi:: Are you - :: “Injured”? “Distressed”? Neither of those seemed to make sense in here. T’Reshik settled. :: - alright? Choi: I’m just so tired… and I r-remember everything now... Saveron: And yourself? T’Reshik: ::wiping off more blood (this metaphor was quickly becoming irritating).:: I am unharmed by the experience. Or insofar as I can tell. ::Indeed. The harm that was done to T’Reshik had happened long ago.:: Saveron: Then we should depart. ::He looked at where the simulcrum of Choi was seated, watching the butterflied.:: Once we leave you should regain full possession of your own faculties. Doctor Foster will be summoned for you. ::Just a little added incentive. Then he turned to T’Reshik..:: Saveron: You must come with me. ::Even if he couldn’t return T’Reshik to her own head, she needed to leave Choi’s for him to heal. In a move entirely uncharacteristic for a Vulcan, he stripped off one glove and held out his hand. Here in the dreamscape, that clasp would act as an anchor.:: ::Despite the complete exhaustion he felt in his body, that he now understood wasn’t really his body, Ji-hu managed to clamber to his feet and face the Vulcans. He hoped, despite what he’d experienced in a single day that had felt like… and in some ways, was… an entire lifetime, that Saveron taking away T’Reshik wouldn’t take all of her. He couldn’t imagine life without her memories, her experience, a little piece of her living inside of him. Ji-hu saluted the two with the ta’al.:: Choi: ::in a Da-Leb/Nel-Gathic pidgin:: Peace and long life. ::T’Reshik regarded Saveron’s hand for one long, suspicious moment. Then she returned Choi’s salute, and replied in tentative Korean. :: T’Reshik: Peace and long life, Ji-hu. ::She took Saveron’s hand.:: Saveron: Live long and prosper, Lieutenant Choi. ::Favouring Choi with the ta’al for a moment, he turned and they began to descend the long, winding steps of the monastery. As they did so they faded from view.:: ::Ji-hu sat back down and the plateau and turned to watch the storm as it raged quietly on the horizon. His eyes felt heavy and the world was beginning to soften around him, as if he was going to sleep, but in the wrong direction. Something tickled his eyebrow and he reached up. When he brought his hand back a monarch butterfly perched on his fingers, wings opening and closing. It would be nice to see Wyn again, after so long. He smiled, his head nodding down to his chest.:: ::From Saveron and T’Reshik’s point of view the steps let them out onto a vast expland of rolling sand dunes, and when they looked behind them, the monastery had vanished. Here the sands were more yellow than red, and great jagged teeth of rock stuck out incongruously through it.:: T’Reshik: Intersting. I recognize this landscape, but I cannot name it. Saveron: This is the Goan desert; where I passed my khas-wan. ::He said quietly.:: ::They were suddenly on Vulcan’s western continent. There was no obvious path or direction for them to take, and Saveron sealed up the mask of his desert suit and began to walk in the direction of the sun.:: T’Reshik: Have you performed the fal-tor-pan before? Saveron: Negative. ::And he didn’t want to admit that, whilst the initial phase had been successful, now that he had T’Reshik’s katra, he was uncertain what the next step was.:: ::T’Reshik wiped off her hand on her lab coat again. The one holding Saveron’s seemed to be behaving itself, but the spare was still bleeding away, and the smears on her lab coat were starting to stink. She momentarily envied Saveron his reduced sense of smell.:: ::The two walked in silence for a while. T’Reshik had never held anyone’s hand for so long before, and she was quickly approaching the conclusion that she didn’t like it. T’Reshik: Do you have a physical destination in mind, or are we merely walking until we encounter landmarks? Saveron: The latter. I am searching for a marker whereby we may access the the place where your consciousness should reside. ::But all around them was bare desert and sharp rocks. T’Reshik’s brain was empty of anything even resembling a mind; they needed some anchor for her.:: ::T’Reshik flicked some blood from the free hand as they walked.:: T’Reshik: I assume I am not obligated to converse with you in the meanwhile. Saveron: You are free to converse or not as you choose. ::His tone of voice was dull. Saveron wasn’t feeling particularly chatty himself; he was concentrating and battling increasing mental fatigue. He had access to the whole of the brainscape, but there was no obvious point at which to finalise the transfer.:: T’Reshik: Acknowledged. ::They walked in silence for some time, as non-specific as time was in this place, before curiosity got the better of Saveron. One of the few emotions that Vulcans regularly seemed disinclined to rein in.:: Saveron: Do you recognise the Goan from your own experiences, or my memories? ::He asked.:: T’Reshik: Your memories. I have never been there. My kahs-wan took place on my own continent. The sand has a different chemical composition. Saveron: That is correct. The iron content is lower, and the magnesium and phosphate levels are higher. ::It was one of the things that made the An’ahyaes valley, nearby, so fertile.:: You have retained some of my memories. T’Reshik: Only fragments. Children whom I assume to be your offspring. Unfamiliar landscapes. The sound of wind chimes. The cluttered living quarters of what I assume is an elderly relative in the early stages of Bendii syndrome. ::pause.:: Do you have any of mine? ::Saveron suspected that those were his quarters she was talking about.:: Saveron: Also fragments. Wind in the rocks. Pieces of VSL vocabulary. A child’s science kit Some… interesting perceptions following exposure to certain substances and… a damaged coffee machine? T’Reshik: That is… probably from the Academy. Saveron: An… interesting period in your life. ::The fragments of memory were interesting from a disassociated point of view, but unwanted. With every insight into T’Reshik’s mind he saw greater and greater disassociation, even sociopathic tendencies. The more he knew of her the more he wanted to help her, but the less agreeable he found her. She was hardly innocent in her situation.:: ::T’Reshik looked to her right, then stopped.:: T’Reshik: I believe those are footprints. ::And indeed they were. Small and wide-spaced and slightly heavy, the brisk walk of a child. Saveron followed her gaze.:: Saveron: Affirmative. We should follow them. ::He knew that without having to ask how; this was the sign he’d been looking for.:: ::The footprints trailed off through the sand, a distance far greater than a barefoot child should have survived in this deep desert. Yet this time as they walked the landscape began again to subtly change. The ground grew redder and more coarse, and the rocky outcroppings became more distant, less jagged. The sky darkened and took on a vague, dreamlike quality. T’Reshik stared up at it as they walked, eyebrows furrowed, then directed the same look at the fading prints on the ground. :: Saveron: The scene is familiar? T’Reshik: Unsure. I assumed this was your memory at first. Possibly some kind of transitional terrain… it shares geographical features with my home province. Saveron: It is becoming less like my own, which suggests that we are transitioning from my seat of consciousness to yours. ::Which was what needed to happen, and he’d begun to doubt was achievable.:: ::She reached down and picked up something half-buried in the sand. It looked like a page torn from a chemistry textbook, with a tiny bloodied handprint at the edge. T’Reshik raised her eyebrow at Saveron.:: Saveron: It would appear that we are following the correct trail. T’Reshik: I concur. Let us continue. ::The red sands beneath their feet grew fine again, stretching out into dunes ahead of them. The footprints deepened, weaving between patches of rice grass; T’Reshik caught the scent of salt on the air. By the time they were in sight of the sea, she had accrued a handful of discarded papers in varying languages, green-smeared at the edges and peppered with sand. :: Saveron: This is your home province, is it not? ::It no longer bore any resemblance to the south of Han-Shir.:: T’Reshik: Affirmative. We are in my memories now. ::The maker of the footprints was waiting for them on the beach, a young Vulcan girl with solemn green eyes and a distinctly familiar cast to her features. In what was, for him, an unfamiliar landscape, Saveron regarded the figure cautiously.:: Saveron: Who are you? ::The girl said nothing, but crouched down to lay aside the bundle of scrolls in her arms. She reached her hand out to T’Reshik. Beyond her, they could see dark clouds gathering at the horizon, and the waves lapped quickly against the steep shore as if warning of an oncoming storm.:: ::T’Reshik glanced over at Saveron.:: Saveron: Our guide, perhaps. ::Certainly she had the documents from which the pages had been torn.:: T’Reshik: Actually, I believe this is where our path ends. ::She let go of Saveron’s hand and offered the ta’al, then reached out for the child’s.:: T’Reshik: Live long and prosper, Commander. If I do not awake from this, please ensure that I am still credited in any studies resulting from this experiment. ::Pause:: Also, please inform my father that I regret not contacting him sooner. Saveron: One would question your priorities Lieutenant, but I will do so. ::He raised his hand to return the gesture.:: T’Reshik: My priorities are logical. ::To the girl:: I am ready. ::She didn’t look back at Saveron as the child-T’Reshik led her into the water. When the papers in her hands touched it they dissolved into shreds, but the two Vulcans seemed unharmed. The waves rose to greet them and then they were gone.:: Saveron: Peace and long life. ::And never had he meant that expression more, though perhaps ‘peace or long life’ might have been more accurate.:: ::As the pair disappeared beneath the waves, the tall figure in desert robes faded from view, until there was nothing left but the water lapping at the sand.:: END “I'm not sure about a life after this God knows I've never been a spiritual man Baptized by the fire, I wade into the river That runs to the promised land” ~ Billy Joel, River of Dreams A JP by Lieutenant (JG) Choi Ji-hu Engineering Officer USS Constitution-B C239402CJ0 And Commander Saveron Acting First Officer USS Constitution B R238802S10 And Lt (JG) T'Reshik Science USS Constitution D239311T10
  2. (( USS Constitution - Main Holodeck 01 ))::Ensign Paku couldn’t shake the feeling of imminent death. Of course, that was a constant in his life. A prey species that is biologically determined to sense impending danger and death in an environment where danger and death were all around them meant his threat ganglia had been working overtime since he’d been accepted into Starfleet Academy. That Paku was, perhaps, slightly more anxious and hypersensitive than the average Kelpien had nothing to do with it.::::The fact that his superior officer, little more than a child in the Kelpien’s eyes, was installing military-grade tech into an explorer vessel was likely the cause. His threat ganglia twitched and danced all afternoon.::::After testing the Faust Control Unit and running a series of diagnostics, they were just finishing up and packing it in. Paku was already fantasizing about returning to his quarters where he had the environmental controls and lighting set just right to simulate subterranean Kelpia, when Lieutenant Choi got a call.::Sindri: =/\= Sindri to Choi? =/\=::His threat ganglia had just started to relax and retreat, but at the chilling sound of the voice they shot out again. Lieutenant Choi seemed… put off by the voice, but not terrified like he should. Paku tried to wave to get his attention. Cut communications. Run.::Choi: =/\= Choi here, Lieutenant. =/\=Sindri: =/\= I’m looking for the vermin that usually inhabit this dank office of yours… I got them a customer. =/\=::Ensign Frag, the obnoxious, filthy Tellarite, leaned in close to Choi’s communicator.::Frag: =/\= You promised you’d stop calling Little Dag a customer! He’s a valued member of the crew, Sindri, no matter how short he is! =/\=Choi: ::sighing:: =/\= We’re just finishing up some work on the holodeck, Lieutenant, we can be down in ESPO within an hour or so. =/\=Sindri: =/\= Nice… playing nerd games on company time? You think maybe some actual work might be squeezed into your busy schedule? =/\=Paku: Lieutenant, we need to call security.::Choi turned to him, raising an eyebrow.::Choi: Security?! Why?Paku: Something… bad is happening… or is going to happen. I’m undecided.Frag: ::grumbling:: Isn’t that Kelpia’s planetary motto?::Lieutenant Choi stared at Frag, then Paku, looking exhausted. He hit his communicator, reopening the channel to this Lieutenant.::Choi: =/\= Lieutenant, we’re going to be awhile packing up and submitting documentation to Starfleet R&D. =/\=Tor: =/\= We’re also not a repair shop. If someone has a maintenance request they ca- - =/\=::Lieutenant Choi waved his hands furiously at the J’Naii.::Sindri: =/\= Well, I can wait a few more moments I suppose if you think you’re going to be done? Otherwise we can come back later. =/\=Choi: =/\= Probably better to just come back, sorry for the bother. Choi out. =/\=Frag: That was a little too civil for Dag… something’s up…::Paku’s eyes went wide as he stared at the Tellarite.::Paku: I’m going to have to agree with Ensign Frag.Tor: ::muttering:: I suppose there’s a first time for everything…Frag: ::decided:: He must be leaving me chocolates and flowers! That old romantic!::Paku braced himself against the wall, threat ganglia twitching aggressively. All he wanted to do was save everyone from a violent demise… was that so much to ask?:: (( Brief Timeskip - ESPO ))::If Paku’s threat ganglia were twitching before they’d returned to ESPO, they were practically standing up straight out and thrashing as they entered the Constitution’s office. Something was very, very wrong. Over the usual, overwhelming scent of computer parts and Frag’s body odour, there was another smell, something organic and chemical, that Paku couldn’t trace. No one else seemed to notice it even after he’d pointed it out.::::The Kelpien sat down at his console and immediately began to sanitize everything, as usual, while the others filed their end of duty reports. That’s when things got weird. He felt a hand run over his head and he leapt out of his seat to see Ensign Tor standing behind him, a weird grin on their face, their eyes out of focus.::Tor: ::laughing:: Who let this big bald kitty in here? Here kitty-kitty…::Paku backed up against the console and began to move his way around the corner, away from the Ensign, threat ganglia flopping around in terror. He glanced around the corner where he saw that Frag was sitting on the floor and starring at her hands.::Frag: I can see the entire history of the universe in my palms… and the future, too… wow… I look great in green…Paku: Ensign? What in the name of- -Frag: ::looking up at him, terrified:: Are you Hovah? What happened to all your hair? Do you want me to shave? Is that what you’re telling me, sweet merciful Hovah?::Frag began to cry.::::Paku glanced over her to see the Bynars dancing, although no music was playing, at least not out loud. He’d never seen them move in that way. They were actually… really good. Lieutenant Choi was nowhere to be found, he’d likely, maybe mercifully, returned to his R&D lab.::::Paku sighed. This was just like the Starbase 104 Festival of Gratitude all over again. Why did no one ever listen to him? He reached into the sanitation kit he always wore on his hip and handed a pair of gloves to Tor.::Paku: You can pet the kitty if you wear these medical grade sanitary gloves.::This did the trick. Tor seemed to loose all interest in him and instead was transported by the material.::Tor: So shiny.::Frag continued to sob and whisper prayers to sweet merciful Hovah about how she didn’t want to shave her proud purple mane, before switching at a moment’s notice to a need to satisfy her “munchies.” The Bynars kept dancing.::::Paku’s threat ganglia finally retreated and he sat down at his console, finishing up with the sanitation wipes, before he pulled up the security logs. A Lieutenant Dag Sindri and Cadet 4th Class Kaith had entered and then promptly left, and nothing had been accessed save a single file on Paku’s console, which had been deleted. He pulled up the deleted file’s cache and restored it, hoping it would help make sense of the situation.::::Two men were shown in a crowded room, arms slung over one another. One of them was shirtless and wearing a hat shaped like a humanoid mammary that read, “Risa or bust!” although if this had any significance it was lost on the Kelpien. They each swayed violently, clutching huge glasses of amber liquid. They were screaming some sort of ancient chant, or invocation, that was earsplitting in its volume and intensity. “If I staaaaaayed here with you giiiiiiiiiiiirl… things just couldn’t beeeeeeeee the saaaaaaaaame…” The crowd booed and threw various foodstuffs. Perhaps this was some sort of pagan ritual?::::Paku shuddered and deleted the file, making sure to clear all caches related to it. This was something better left unseen. He turned back to Frag, who was struggling with the industrial replicator to override the settings to give her a “big frakkin’ pizza,” while Tor rubbed the medical gloves against their face, cooing. The Bynars danced. Paku sighed. No one ever listened to him…::ENDThe Engineering Systems Programming Office PNPCsEnsign Frag, Ensign Paku, Ensign Tor and Crewmen Ix & TeAs simmed by:Lieutenant (JG) Choi Ji-huEngineering OfficerUSS Constitution-BC239402CJ0
  3. Bar fight. Love it. The chaos sustains me. Excellent characterization, and the last line made me lose it.
  4. catscatscats

    Post a sim, post your thanks – here's more info

    Is there an easier way to tag someone in a post than searching for a quote from them on the forums and copy-pasting it in here?
  5. catscatscats

    New Academy Graduate

    He's joining the Conny? Awesome! Fresh blood! And I mean that literally. T'Reshik needs some fresh non-synthesized blood for her experiments. If you would just like to take a seat... wait. Why are you running?!
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