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  1. ((Isolation Unit 1, Sickbay, USS Constitution)) :: It was warm, far too warm. T’Reshik took a moment to remember where she was. She lifted her head from the ground; her forehead was sticky with blood. Sutek took her arm, and she looked up. For some reason her husband was in his burial robes. She wondered for a moment what it might have been like if their marriage had been something other than a sham. In the right light, his looks were almost graceful. :: T’Reshik: What happened? Sutek: Large-scale hematohidrosis shortly before you murdered me. Do you not remember? T’Reshik: What? :: The world slammed sideways and suddenly she was in the isolation room again, gasping for breath on the biobed. The cooling packs had stopped working. She grabbed one and flung it against the wall, uttered a curse. :: ::How long had she been in here? Had she been hallucinating or dreaming? She hefted herself into a sitting position and considered contacting the sickbay staff, but a small chime from her combadge told her that someone else had got there first. Automatically, T’Reshik grabbed a second cooling pack and prepared for the throw. :: Saveron: =/\= Commander Saveron to Ensign T’Reshik. =/\= ::The voice spoke Modern Golic Vulcan, the language used around Shir’kahr and the Temple of Gol, but possessed a faint accent, breathy and musical.:: :: Another Vulcan, then, T’Reshik realized - but not one whose name she recognized. For one awful moment she wondered whether Cadet Thyar had somehow managed to locate her biological father and bring him here. Which was disturbing, because he had a really nice voice - but also promising, because caving his skull in with her fist would provide a very satisfying resolution to the Pon Farr. (T’Reshik wasn’t really giving much thought to long-term consequences right now.) :: T’Reshik: ::carefully, coldly:: =/\= T’Reshik here. =/\= ::In Sickbay the Vulcan counselor watched the patient’s medical readouts with a calm that belief professional concern.:: Saveron: =/\= I would attend you, with your permission. =/\= ::He said carefully.:: =/\= I am a trained Counselor and it has been suggested that I may be able to assist. =/\= :: Annoyance flared. The last thing T’Reshik wanted to do was speak to another counselor. She put her head in her hands for a moment and tried to clear her mind so she could work out how to get him to go away. Just to be difficult - and also because her spoken Golic was incredibly rusty - she answered him in her home dialect, Da-leb province Vulcan. Not impossible to understand for a Golic speaker, but probably different enough that he might struggle. :: T’Reshik: =/\= I do not see any benefit in having you disrupt my meditations. Commander. =/\= ::She used the deliberately impolite form of the verb, and the last word was delivered almost like an insult. :: ::The Vulcan Counselor raised one eyebrow. The choice of dialect was deliberately obstructive, and spoke volumes. This was a delicate situation; how to progress it?:: Saveron: =/\= You made a request for information... =/\= ::He began.:: T’Reshik: =/\= I only asked Cadet Thyar to find that out because I wanted her to leave. I have no interest in my genetic heritage. =/\= ::Not that angle. Perhaps the direct one? He switched to Nel Gathic Vulcan, his own native language, from the other side of the planet from Gol and once deplored disgustedly by his Academy linguistics instructor as ‘Gaelic for Vulcans’. :: Saveron: =/\= Logic serves those who embrace it. =/\= ::It was however a very common proverb. He switched back to Modern Golic.:: =/\= Without disrespect, one would observe that your meditations do not appear to be effective. Your cortisol levels are rising. =/\= ::Cortisol was the hormone that drove the whole Pon farr process.:: :: T’Reshik switched to a hybrid of Nel Gathic and Da-leb, a kind of creole spoken by the displaced second and third generations of native speakers like her mother. Most often used when her youthful behaviour had challenged her mother's composure and T’Reshik was too far away for sign language. One of the drawbacks of VSL; you couldn't use it to shout at people. She spoke it with a slightly provincial accent.:: T’Reshik: =/\= Yes, Commander, it is almost as if I keep being interrupted by interfering psychology professionals. =/\= :: It was also a very good medium for sarcasm.:: ::That was unexpected. Saveron rarely heard his own language outside of his family, and T’Reshik’s file had indicated a childhood on the main continent. Yet what she spoke was a kind of pidgin some emigrants used. Unusual.:: ::But not the distraction he suspected that she had intended. The blame-shifting of her accusation did not negate the fact that there had been no improvement in her biological indicators; rather a steady progression in spite of her efforts. T’Reshik might meditate for a thousand Vulcan cycles, and she would not bring her Pon farr into remission. And she did not have a thousand Vulcan cycles. She was dying.:: ::Respect for a patient’s preferences always had to be tempered with the ability to act when those preferences were so far beyond rational that they bore no relation at all. Unfortunately his own people’s cultural conditioning meant that their response to this particular part of their biology was often far from rational and Vulcans died, of stubborness.:: ::Keying the parameters of T’Reshik’s health and responses into the computer, Saveron received the confirmation that she was not in a rational state, and intervention was warranted. Keying the door of her isolation room he stepped inside, a couple of Sickbay staff eyeballing the back of his head before the door slid shut.:: :: Saveron’s silence at the other end of the line made T’Reshik wary. It was perhaps too much to hope that he’d given up and left her alone. Sure enough, the doors opened after a delay, and T’Reshik retaliated using the closest weapon at her disposal.:: ::There was a smack as Saveron caught the ice pack as though he had expected it, then let it fall to the floor. Pale grey eyes flicked over the tortured form of the young - by Vulcan standards - woman who lay on the biobed.:: Saveron: I am aware that I am unwelcome. Accept for the moment that to me the fact is irrelevant. ::He said blandly.:: :: T’Reshik said nothing; merely tried not to look at him. If she did, her mind would start coming up with lots of very good reasons for him to stay in the room, and she was sick and tired of having to fight that sort of thing down.:: ::Pressing a couple of keys on a wall console that was locked from the patient’s access, a short platform extruded from the wall and he sat down. Objects and furniture were kept to a minimum in these rooms; less to sterilise or cause injury.:: Saveron: Are you aware that, whilst resolution through meditation is the ideal touted by the Temple of Gol, statistics show that such is virtually unattainable for those who have not already undergone the kohlinar? Only 0.3% of the uninitiated succeed. ::And he knew from her file that she was uninitiated.:: T’Reshik: ::tersely:: Of course I am aware. I refer to that same study in six of my own papers. ::He nodded briefly. She was an intelligent woman and it was apparently an area of interest for her, in a not particularly healthy way.:: Saveron: One would suggest, having read your file, that your own markedly antagonistic view of Pon farr may itself be an obstacle for the calm necessary for such meditations to succeed. :: T’Reshik glared up at the ceiling. She was well aware how undignified she must look right now. Her eyes were deep with shadows, her hair unbrushed and chaotic; she’d given up on putting her uniform jacket back on after she’d tossed it across the room in a rage and then realized she’d have to call an orderly to get it back. It had been a long time since her wheelchair had been this far out of her reach, and she resented the helplessness that came instead.:: T’Reshik: Antagonistic. That’s an odd way of pronouncing “logical”. Saveron: I would be interested to hear your logic. ::He replied mildly.:: T’Reshik: It warps our reasoning; destroys our lives if we are not careful or fortunate. If Vulcans were not so obsessed with tradition and secrecy, we would treat it like any other pathological condition and find a way to stop it happening. Saveron: On the subject of tradition and secrecy; I concur. The Temple of Gol particularly has promoted the view that Pon farr is to be controlled and hidden. Such an overwhelming biological drive clashes with their extreme doctrine of emotional elimination. But it is not a ‘pathological condition’, it is a natural part of our biology. T’Reshik: So you are suggesting I change my views in order to preserve my own life? As if it were that simple? ::If Vulcans had been cowboys in a Western, ‘your logic is flawed’ would have been fighting words. Saveron did not say them now. He was not looking to antagonise T’Reshik but to reason with her. Flawed logic was dealt with by debate.:: Saveron: I would suggest that you be open to the idea that the extremist view is not the only one. oO Nor the most valid. Oo Consider the Romulans. Pon farr does occur, but it is much rarer, and without the same strength or impact, and when it does they resolve it in the obvious manner, without our associated cultural baggage. It was our very embracing of logic that supplied a positive selection pressure for the drive; lust is, after all, an emotion. ::And so those whose biology compelled them to mate and breed had more offspring, and the urge was selected for. A beautiful piece of scientific theory in action.:: T’Reshik: Your point being? ::He shrugged slim shoulders.:: Saveron: Consider also what you have already wrought upon yourself in your efforts to subvert your own biology. ::His words were grave. Surely the damage she had done showed the lack of logic in that path?:: I would counsel you to accept your own nature, resolve the situation naturally, and move on with your life. It only dominates you if you let it. :: T’Reshik closed her eyes for a few moments. :: T’Reshik: The… damage was caused by my methods - not my reasoning. And even if I were willing to take that option, my husband is dead, I have no close associates, and I refuse to impose that kind of obligation on a complete stranger. It is not a choice anyone should be forced to make. ::The loss of a bond-mate was always deeply regrettable, and if T’Reshik had not yet resolved that loss it might go some way to explaining her current obstructivism.:: ::It was fascinating, he mused, what a difference a few years exposed to other cultures could make to one’s point of view. Saveron’s native Nel Gathic culture was somewhat more philosophical than the dominant Golic one, but meeting Betazoids, Deltans and Denobulans had certainly opened his eyes to other ways of viewing certain aspects of life.:: Saveron: If you were willing, I would offer. ::He said simply. From her words, plainly nobody else had and she would not ask.:: Since you are not, have you considered the Holodeck? I am aware that companionship simulations have been found lacking, but there are adequate combat simulations. A Jem’Hadar would no doubt provide the necessary life threat. ::He was aware that she was paralysed, but it was not for him to say what she could or could not do. Let her be the judge of that.:: :: T’Reshik shot him a look. :: T’Reshik: Anecdotal evidence suggests that holodeck combat therapy only serves to worsen the condition after the initial catharsis. And my university ethics board refused to allow me to conduct controlled experiments to prove or disprove that hypothesis. Without more data, I must seem it an unacceptable risk. ::That was not unreasonable.:: Saveron: If you are determined not to resolve your situation any other way, I can provide you with the necessary forms for voluntary euthanasia. There is no logic in prolonging your suffering, though your loss would be regrettable. ::It was said blandly, the logical conclusion of their conversation. Did she realise that death lay at the end of the road she walked? It would be a terrible waste, in his view. But you could not help those who would not help themselves.:: :: She looked at the ceiling again, teeth gritted, but there was sadness in her expression rather than anger.:: T’Reshik: I do not wish to die. ::Those were the words he had been looking to hear. From that basis, a solution could be sought.:: Saveron: It would be vastly preferable that you did not. ::He said gently.:: I would be interested to know the basis behind your logic regarding Pon farr. ::When and how had she formed such an extreme view?:: :: She turned her head to him suddenly.:: T’Reshik: I was very young when I discovered that my parents were not who they claimed to be. Do you know why I never tried to find out my genetic origin? Saveron: Negative. ::He said evenly.:: ::He didn’t know T’Reshik beyond this encounter, and such was not in her file.:: T’Reshik: Because I already knew what had happened. Not in detail. But through a process of logical deduction and the fact my parents had withheld the information, I concluded that whatever the specific circumstance, at least one and possibly both of my biological parents had somehow been deprived of their choice in the matter. No other developed society in this quadrant possesses such a… such a glaring blind spot in their attitudes to bodily autonomy. :: She raises herself up on one elbow and looked at him, eyes aflame.:: T’Reshik: You ask me to accept my biology. How can I, when it is inherently unjust? The choice to engage in physical intimacy - it should be driven by individual decisions, not biological imperative. And the fact that it is “natural” does not invalidate my argument. Diseases are natural. We still treat them. ::Her voice weakens a little:: If I… give up, and consent to the conventional treatment, I am abandoning my commitment to the rights of all sentient beings to decide what happens to their own bodies. I am abandoning my principles. ::There were multiple reasons why an infant might be adopted out, but Saveron judged that pointing out such would be futile since he already knew that she was correct. Perhaps she had always known, subconsciously. After all, they were a telepathic species, and the developing child was exposed to the mother’s thoughts throughout the pregnancy.:: ::More concerning was T’Reshik’s apparent determination to die for her cause. Her subconscious trauma surrounding her birth and abandonment could be worked through, but only if she survived. Right now saving her life was paramount.:: Saveron: If you die, your principles die with you. ::He pointed out gently, pausing to lace his long fingers together.:: There is no law in the universe that says the results of our own evolution must be just. But we do have a choice; we can own it, or we can be subject to it. ::T’Reshik repeated his phrasing skeptically.:: T’Reshik: “Own it”? ::Perhaps an example might make a simpler explanation.:: Saveron: It has been nine Terran years since my bond-mate and I were Unbound. ::And he was certain that even in her current state she could do the maths.:: Whilst hardly exact, one’s cycle is reasonably predictable. I was stationed on the USS Garuda in the depths of the Menthar Corridor when my last Pon farr approached. Rather than being caught by my own biology, I arranged to take leave and return to Vulcan, where I reunited with a friend whose bond-mate had been killed in a shuttle accident. :: There were times when T’Reshik looked at herself and wondered how her life had got to this point. Now, detained in an isolation room, listening to a superior officer talk about his sex life and trying her damnedest not to think too hard about those strong, slender hands, she briefly revisited the thought once more.:: Saveron: We discussed bonding, but she would not leave Vulcan and I did not intend to stay. We considered a distanced bond less than preferable. ::He shrugged slim shoulders.:: But I chose the manner in which I underwent my own Pon farr. ::A faint light, the barest hint of amusement, flickered in those grey eyes.:: It was not disagreeable. T’Reshik: So we are deprived of bodily autonomy once every seven years but at least we can sleep with our friends. :: Her words were probably meant to be cutting - T’Reshik had given up on neutrality by this point - but she only succeeded in sounding bitter and sad.:: Saveron: You attempt at being deliberately inflammatory does not negate my point. One can choose to take control of one’s biology to the extent possible, or one can choose to be a victim. ::He said in mild tones, ignoring her baiting.:: You are correct that such is not ideal, but you also acknowledge that we currently have few alternatives available. I acknowledge your efforts to find such an alternative; I would consider it preferable that your research efforts not die with you. ::He faulted her approach certainly, but he could not fault T’Reshik’s reasons. The ability to stop the Pon farr cycle would be as revolutionary as contraception, and as freeing. Yet it was embedded deep within Vulcan cultures, and difficult to address. Free thinkers like the one before him were the type of people who brought about such change. If only her researches had not come at such a cost to herself. That determination could change their people forever.:: T’Reshik: Even if I did take you up on your hypothetical offer - and frankly, I try not to associate with anyone whose judgement is poor enough that they would voluntarily spend time with me, given I actively discourage most social overtures by cultivating a difficult personality -... You saw my criminal record, Commander. I have already killed for my principles. And while it is not logical… I cannot help but… feel… :: -the word was uttered almost like an expletive- :: ... that it is a kind of cowardice, not to die for them now. Saveron: Do you consider that your dying for those principles is a statement that will change the situation? ::He asked, knowing that she would not be the first.:: Principles that are worth dying for, are worth living for. ::And that was important. Also they needed to work on her self-esteem. And possibly go through her history, since her crimes obviously still concerned her. But such could be dealt with if she survived, and whatever her personal nature it wasn’t it currently a concern.:: Saveron: I am not offering to ‘spend time’, nor form a relationship. ::He said blandly.:: I am offering to save your life. I was a physician before I was a diplomat. You are dying, and I consider it preferable that you live. ::It was simply emergency medicine. And in his own logical way he assumed that, once resolved, the nature of the resolution would have no bearing on future interactions. Perhaps in that he was naive. He wondered, in that moment, what Ashley Yael, his half-Denobulan friend from the Embassy, would have made of the situation. No doubt he would have laughed himself sick over various species’ hang-ups, given his adoption of his father’s culture. Now there was one of life’s ‘what if’s.:: ::He didn’t know T’Reshik, but from what he had learned he suspected that if she survived he would be seeing her as her Counselor; it would be unethical to be involved with her. And he had no interest in being so; her views on their natural biology clashed strongly with his own, and were probably just the tip of the iceberg. What was important was that she and her views survived; Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. His offer was the logical response to her situation. Still, he was surprised that the ship’s doctors had not made the same.:: :: T’Reshik was silent for a while afterwards, looking down at her hands. The conversation seemed to have calmed her, in one respect, but it was almost as if her anger had been replaced with a kind of resignation. :: T’Reshik: May I have some time to consider this? Saveron: Of course. Your decision is your own. ::Any patient had the right to refuse treatment.:: :: She looked at him. :: T’Reshik: Could I be remanded to my quarters in the meanwhile? ::He met those pained green eyes with a level gaze.:: Saveron: If you will permit ship Security to sweep them first, removing any possible weapons and locking down the professional functions of your console, I can see no logical reason why not. Pending Doctor Milsap’s approval. ::A Vulcan in the grip of the plak-tow might do any number of destructive things, and T’Reshik could not be far from it. Still, regardless of the choice that she made, Saveron did not see why she could not have the comfort of her own quarters.:: T’Reshik: Thank you, Commander. :: She thought for a moment longer, and then her expression changed, closing off again in a determined way, as if corralling her reserves of strength for one final bout of control. :: T’Reshik: If I can be transported directly there, I will not require access to Surya or any manual mobility devices until the condition is resolved - I have a floor-level replicator and console in case of emergencies. Saveron: Direct transport would be logical. ::He agreed.:: T’Reshik: :: Now ensconced in thought again :: I assume you have sufficient upper body strength to assist me should I need to be moved for the purposes of voluntary euthanasia or, er, alternative treatment… you will of course need to administer yourself some kind of contraceptive in that eventuality… and I will require continued access to the ship's medical and recreational databases in order to conduct the required research beforehand. ::She was taking the offer seriously. That was a vast improvement over her previous determination to die for her principles.:: Saveron: To answer your requirements: I can lift three times my own bodyweight in Federation Standard gravity. ::He assured her. He might not be particularly strong for a Vulcan, but he was far stronger than human.:: I have a two-year contraceptive implant with fourteen months remaining, placed by Starfleet Medical, and the civilian console functions will remain active, including database access. ::Still... :: You deem research necessary? T’Reshik: To be candid, Commander, while I possess the relevant theoretical knowledge, I am entirely inexperienced. My marriage was a front for the purposes of illicit scientific collaboration, and as a scientist, I refuse to embark on something like this without extensive preliminary reading. Also, if I choose to accept your offer, we will need to pre-establish some interpersonal boundaries-- :: She stopped suddenly.:: T’Reshik: ::slowly:: What do you intend to tell Doctor Milsap? ::The unexpected revelation was - perhaps fortunately - overridden by the pointed question.:: Saveron: I intend to tell him the facts, as necessary. ::He said simply.:: ::And he intended to ask a few pointed questions, such as why, on a ship with a crew compliment of one thousand, no one had been found to make the same offer.:: ::For a moment it might have looked as if T’Reshik was going to protest, but instead she just narrowed her eyes resentfully.:: T’Reshik: Fine. Are we done? Saveron: Affirmative. ::He bowed and left T’Reshik in peace.::
  2. (( U.S.S. Constitution - Deck 27 - Sol's Office - The Next Day )) :: The previous day had been mentally exhausting for Sol. Directing the resources of a Galaxy-class starship was rather taxing. Still, it was good to take a challenge every so often. Of course that also meant that reports had been piling up on her desk. She took a look at the first PADD that had found its way to her desk and laughed when she found a list of potential problem groups that was known to inhabit the Starbase. :: McLaren: oO Oh... if only I had seen this yesterday... Oo :: she sighed to herself and walked over to the replicator. :: Tea, Earl Grey. Hot. :: The replicator buzzed to life and deposited a mug of tea in front of her. She picked it up and took a sip, before returning to her desk. There was one thing left to complete from her previous day, a comprehensive report for the Captain. Which was sure to take atleast a couple of hours. Sol picked up a blank PADD and began detailing just what had happened the previous day. :: (( Short time skip )) :: Sol thumbed back through her report, skimming it to check that she hadnt missed anything. She had also made sure to note everyone who had stepped up, since it seemed the right thing to do. She smiled, content that everything had been detailed. :: McLaren: Computer, locate Captain Rajel. Computer: Captain Rajel is in her quarters. McLaren: oO Hmm... best not bother her then, she's still probably trying to get some rest. Oo :: She tapped the PADD. :: File report for Captain Rajel and mark as important. :; The computer beeped in compliance and left Sol in silence for the moment. Sol sat, sipping her tea, contemplating just what to do next. With their mission complete, the crew had some shoreleave time. Sol leaned back, wondering just what to do. Hadnt her mother said something about something getting delivered to her quarters? Maybe she should check that out. She stood, and headed out of her office. :: (( Deck 03 - Sol's Quarters )) :: The Box her mother had been talking about was still sitting where it had been left by whomever had delivered it. It was a standard Starfleet storage crate, about the size of a footlocker. Though it looked like it had come from the Starfleet that had existed nearly 100 years prior. Sol knelt and ran her hand over the top surface. 'Sibeal Doyle' was written across the top, along with the person's rank and their last ship. It was as if this had gone straight into storage right after they had left Starfleet. Sol popped the latches and pulled the top off. A small note sat atop the contents of the footlocker. :: :: Sol, We found these things in storage. They belonged to your grandmother. She didnt talk much about what she did in Starfleet, but maybe this will help you get to know her. Love, Mom :: :: Sol smiled, setting the note aside. She moved back the black cloth that had been covering everything, and reached into the box, pulling out an old uniform with the insignia, of what she presumed was, a Lt. Commander pinned on the shoulder strap. The old style Starfleet delta was still pinned on the breast its shiny copper and white colour standing out from the maroon of the uniform's jacket. Sol ran her fingers over the badge, which was from a time before they functioned as communicators, before setting the uniform aside and looking back into the box. A small clear case stood out from everything else for the moment. Inside was an older styled isolinear chip. Sol fished the case out of the box and stood, walking over to her terminal. She popped the chip into it and brought it up on her screen. Log entries were soon listed. Sol tapped the first one, before returning to the box. :: Log: "Sibeal Doyle's Personal Log - Stardate 7823.5 I just receieved my first posting. Im the Intelligence Officer aboard the U.S.S. Kongo NCC-1710, a recently refit Constitution-class ship. I cant imagine she'll be around too much longer, before something bigger and better comes along, but Im excited to finally be out there." :: Sol smiled. Her grandmother sounded quite a lot like her, even down to their choice of position. Though instead of being on one of the smallest ships in the fleet, she was on one of the largest now. :: McLaren: Computer, play another entry. :: The computer beeped, as Sol pulled a small starship model out of the box. It had been carefully packed. It was of a Constitution-class vessel. 'U.S.S. Kongo NCC-1710' was painted on the saucer. The first ship her grandmother had been assigned to. Sol stood and walked over to her desk, setting the model on it, fiddling with it a bit, before deciding a shelf might be a better spot for it. :: Log: "Intelligence Officer's Log - Stardate 8205.9 Captain Rodis' recommendation to Starfleet didn't help. The Excelsior already has an Intelligence Officer aboard so my request for transfer was denied. Captain Rodis felt that was unfair, so he's promoted me to Lt. Commander as well as second officer. As much as I wanted to move to a bigger and better ship, the Kongo has been my home for the past 7 years and I'm grateful to the Captain for trusting me as much as he has. Its not official yet, but my next log will be in my new position." :: Sol hadnt realized that her grandmother had been around during the more relaxed days of Starfleet. She frowned slightly, wishing she could have gotten to actually know her grandmother. It sounded as if her grandmothers time aboard the Kongo had been eventful, but she had been looking to move up, something Sol was unfamiliar with. Sol sat at her computer, looking at the little model that now inhabited an empty portion of her bookshelf, wonder just what that ship had been like. :: McLaren: Computer, access personnel records for Lt. Commander Sibeal Doyle. And play the another log log. :: The computer again beeped, and Sol glanced at the screen, and found herself startled at the image that had greeted her. It was almost like looking in a mirror. She had seen pictures of her grandmother before but never when she had been young. The face the looked back at her from the screen had the same red eyes that she did, and the same white hair. And a look that was unnerving, almost like she was looking right into her soul. She idly wondered if that was how people saw her. She scrolled through the file as the log played. :: Log: "Second Officer's Log - Stardate 9521.8 The latest briefs from Starfleet Intelligence came through earlier. They confirmed what I heard from Excelsior's intelligence officer. Praxis is gone. Starfleet is scrambling to put together a plan to deal with what they call "the Klingon problem". Captain Rodis has put the Kongo on high alert... Our proximity to the Klingon border makes us a tempting target. I can only hope that things dont devolve into all out war here. I dont enjoy the idea of combat with the Klingons." :: Sol raised an eyebrow. She wasnt much of a history person, but she knew of the Praxis incident. She sat back and wondered just what else her grandmother had gotten up to about that little ship so long ago. :: :: Sol leaned back in her chair, looking at the screen in front of her. It still displayed hey grandmothers service record. She had been involved in some pretty major events, even if only tangentially. :: McLaren: Computer, play next log entry. :: Sol stood, and wandered back over to the box of her grandmother's things, kneeling down again. :: Log: "Second Officer's Log - Stardate 9528.5 The Kongo and Republic have been chosen to provide security for the upcoming conference. As senior Intelligence officer between the two ships, its my job to brief both Captains Rodis and Zimmerman on the true nature of this mission... we are protecting one of the potential meeting sites, but we wont know if our site is the real one until the conference begins. Intelligence is taking this seriously, for once. Peace with the Klingons is an important thing for the Alpha Quadrant, especially after what happened a few months ago. If this goes well it could usher in a new era of peace in our quadrant." :: The Khitomer Conference. Probably one of the most important times in the Federation's history. Everyone knew about the Enterprise's involvement in making sure the conference occurred, but Sol doubt very much that people knew the names of the other ships that made it all possible. Peace with the Klingons was brokered, and her grandmother had been right, it had ushered a new era of peace in the quadrant. Sol gently pulled out a small case from the box and popped it open, finding some of her grandmothers service ribbons. She ran her hands over them, stopping on a rather non-descript one that just displayed the insignias of both the Federation and the Klingon Empire on a simple black background, and small plate below it simply stated 'Khitomer Decoy'. Sol smiled, while her grandmother hadnt been at Khitomer, her ship had served to obscure the real location. Sol closed the case and set it back into the box. These were not her awards, but she would keep them safe. :: McLaren: Play another log entry. :: Sol sifted through the box again, pulling out a picture, taken on the bridge of the Kongo. It was clear this was the senior staff, including her grandmother. A small caption was engraved on the bottom portion of the frame; 'The final flight of the Kongo.' No one looked sad about that fact though. :: Log: "Second Officer's Log - Stardate 9715.9 The Kongo has been tasked with studying a rare spacial anomaly that passed through the Sol System a week ago. I find myself conflicted, while studying anomalies is what Starfleet is all about, as far as a last mission goes, its pretty dull. Still the Kongo is an aging ship, full of her own problems. For a Constitution-class, she's lasted quite a long time. I've served as her intelligence officer for 15 years, and been her second officer for of 8 those years. She's seen her fair share of fighting, but its time for a new ship to take her place, with a new crew. I've heard rumors that Starfleet is constructing a new Kongo... an Excelsior-class, maybe they'll send me there... but it'll never be quite the same as this Kongo." :: Sol smiled. The Kongo had been her grandmother home for a long time. It surprised her just how long though, because she herself had already been through 2 ships. :: McLaren: oO I guess it stands to reason that since Starfleet was smaller back then people wouldnt switch ships as often. Oo :: Sol stood and found a place for the picture. She then strolled over to her terminal, and found that the chip only contained one more log entry. She tapped it. :: Log: "First Officer's Log - Stardate 9824.4 The rumors were true. Starfleet has commissioned a new U.S.S. Kongo, NCC-1710-A. She's an Excelsior-class, so she packs a bit more of a punch than my old ship and is much much larger. Much of the crew from the old Kongo were reassigned elsewhere, but a few of us were reassigned to this new one. I guess Starfleet was pleased with my service aboard the previous Kongo, they made me first officer, with Captain Rodis' recommendation. Even though he's retired now, its nice to know he still thinks highly of me. I'm due on the bridge in a few minutes, we're getting ready to leave spacedock for Oby VI. We're bringing a scientific and medical team to help contain an outbreak of plasma plague there. A fitting first mission for a new ship." :: A new ship. A new position. Sol smiled. Her grandmother had gone from Intelligence Officer on an outdated starship to first officer of one of the most powerful Starfleet vessels of its time. Sol moved back to the box, wondering just what she would find now. She gently pulled out another carefully wrapped object, and unwrapped it, laughing to herself. If she hadnt known any better, she would have thought the box was purposely put together by her mother. She turned the model starship over in her hands. The Excelsior class had gone through one major change throughout its life time, and this model displayed one of the latter types. It, like the Constitution model before it, had 'U.S.S. Kongo' painted on the hull, but with the registry amended with the letter 'A' signifying that it was the second starship to bear the name. There was only one place this ship could go. Sol stood and placed it next to the other model. :: McLaren: oO Hmmm... I wonder why this stuff was what she kept. Oo :: Sol returned to her chair, looking at the opened box from afar. Her grandmother was still displayed on the screen behind her. Why had she saved these things in particular? Sol scanned the objects she had placed around her room, the Uniform that sat on the edge of the box, the two ship models, and the picture of her grandmothers last mission aboard the original Kongo. In a lot of ways, her grandmother sounded like her, not just vocally, but in her career direction. But there was a major difference, Sol didnt want to move up. Her rank didnt matter. Or did it? She had enjoyed the previous day, not so much the events that had occurred, but the things she had to do. Maybe she should consider just where she wanted to be in the future. Sol glanced up at the ceiling. Had her grandmother gone through this exact same discussion? Where did she want to be? Maybe full command of a starship wasnt for her, but what about first officer? No. Maybe not for a long while, but Second officer seemed a reasonable goal, and she could still keep her position as an intelligence officer since a second officer traditionally held another position on the ship. Sol stood and made her way into her bedroom, looking at herself in the mirror. The black of her uniform's collar clashed against her pale skin. She found herself wondering just what she would look like in red instead of black. Maybe that would be something to talk to the Captain about, in addition to filing her requisition for that new shuttle. ::
  3. ((Skyfire’s Quarters, USS Za)):: It had seemed like forty eight hours since his conversation with Lael about nightmares. He was in between getting off work and getting ready for bed, just out of the shower when he heard a familiar chirp from his badge. He pulled on some sweat pants before going to answer it. ::Alexander: =/\= Alexander to Skyfire. =/\=Skyfire: :: He sighed and tapped his badge to reply. :: =/\= Go ahead, Dassa. =/\=Alexander: =/\=You and I need to have a little chat.=/\=Skyfire: oO Oh boy… Oo =/\= A’right. Ah’ll make the tea. =/\=:: He wasn’t looking forward to a ribbing from Dassa, but after the last conversation it didn’t seem like he had much choice. It was going to be a long and drawn out conversation, he was sure. He got out a couple tea cups and a pot of tea when he heard the chime. ::::She arrived quickly, having been waiting almost an hour for him to finish his shift, and pressed her thumb to the doorchime.::Skyfire: Enter.Alexander: ::steps inside, pinning him with a harsh stare:: She told me everything.:: He had poured one cup of tea before noticing the stare hot enough to melt glaciers. ::Skyfire: Alright...why are you mad at me?::Dassa sighed. She was frustrated in general, really. Lael was miserable. She didn’t need an empathic connection with the woman to see that.::Alexander: She’s miserable, Chythar. Surely you can see that.Skyfire: Aye, but it’s nae my fault! She came tae me with nightmares last night and ah helped her through it. Ah was nae expectin’ there to be a crush on me involved.Alexander: ::grimaces:: The way she tells it, it’s more complicated than that.:: He nodded. That meant she knew about the connection, then. ::Skyfire: Aye. She told you about that too, ah’m guessing...similar to what she had with you, but stronger. Final levels: T4/E4.Alexander: ::grimaces:: She’s trying to play it off, like usual.Skyfire: Again, nae my fault. :: He poured the other cup of tea and took a sip of his as he motioned to the empty space on the couch. ::Alexander: ::sighs and sits down:: I know it’s not. You didn’t ask for this any more than she did. ::grimaces:: I should have never let go...and this wouldn’t be happening.:: He sipped his tea, taking a long swallow of it and savoring its flavor to stall for time. Once he had finished it, he decided to address the frustration which seemed to be radiating off her. ::Skyfire: Just the situation, then and not me specifically?Alexander: ::grimaces:: I can only guess how hard this must be for her. I’ve been on the other side of the equation.Skyfire: Any tips?Alexander: ::grins wryly:: Not really. I mean, you saw how unsuccessfully I dealt with it. Jealous at every turn. ::shudders:::: He closed his eyes and nodded, taking another sip of his tea. He still felt tense, and kind of terrible. But, his shields were up and he was doing his best to keep Lael from the effects. He was silent and contemplative for several moments. ::Alexander: ::smiles wanly:: I wish I had a solution. But all you can do is ride it out and try not to pour salt in the proverbial wound.:: He nodded again and exhaled slowly, letting himself breathe before taking another sip of tea. ::::She laid her hand on top of his.::Alexander: As hard as it is to believe right now, everything will turn out.:: He set his mug back on the table and worried his lip for a moment. ::Skyfire: Did she tell you about the onboard approximation to an expert on the matter?:: He was referring to Somlen, but he was curious just how much Dassa was told about his conversation with Lael the previous night. ::::Dassa’s features softened and she nodded. It had been like pulling teeth, but she’d gotten more details than she’d hoped for. Lael was an immensely private person and the only reason she’d been privy to the details from the other ‘verse is because of their empathic bond.::Skyfire: Ah still haven’t come to a decision…Alexander: I wish I could be of more help in that area, too, but I’m still struggling to get a rein on controlling my emotions. ::grimaces:: Since the surgery, I’ve been without my anchor. I’m so used to having Lael in my head to help me deal.:: He didn’t know how to answer her. None of his connections, save for Alex, were on the ship. Truth be told, they weren’t anchors either, the connections just existed. Instead of formulating a response, he had another sip of tea and ran his fingers deftly over the tags again. ::Alexander: ::sighs:: You and Lael both...you know how to get yourselves into some serious messes.Skyfire: :: flippantly :: Come off it...ah didnae as to be on the away missions when stuff exploded and required yeh to do the surgery thing…Alexander: ::pauses:: What’s going on...it is just one sided, isn’t it?Skyfire: Not that ah ken of. Ah feel her all the time….and ah’ve been putting in extra effort to shield.Alexander: ::shakes her head:: That’s not what I meant.:: He raised a brow. ::Skyfire: Elaborate, please?Alexander: ::pauses:: What Lael feels for you…:: On the one hand, he was with Alex and happy. On the other hand, Lael was one of his best friends and losing her would cause a degree of pain he wasn’t sure he knew how to handle. How it pertained to Dassa though was unknown. ::Skyfire: She’s one of my best friends. Almost like the little sister ah never had.::Dassa grimaced. Hearing it out loud sealed it. There was no way out of this for Lael but through it. It would be painful...possibly a repeat of what she’d been through with Jansen. Dassa only hoped that the breaking of their connection wouldn’t make it harder for her to help her.:::: He watched her expression, his own stoic and curious. Why she was so damn interested in something that he couldn’t clearly explain, he had no idea. ::Alexander: ::pauses:: You have no idea, do you?Skyfire: Please, enlighten me. :: He wasn’t trying to be flippant, but this conversation had not provided any enlightenment so far. ::Alexander: Imagine what you feel for Alex. Multiply it by two and add that to what Lael already felt for you before this whole thing. That’s what she’s dealing with.:: He managed to keep the surprise off his face, but not out of his muscles as they tensed up. Now he was just trying to make it through the conversation. He didn’t really have a response to that. Again, not his fault… but still disconcerting. ::Alexander: She’s trying to sort through all of that to figure out what her feelings are. ::grins wryly:: With the strength of your connection, I’m surprised you haven’t gotten a blast of it.Skyfire: Remember the part where ah said ah was putting in extra effort to shield? Far as ah ken, it works both ways.Alexander: ::sighs:: I guess she’s been more open with me. I had to meditate nightly when she and I were still connected to sort through things.:: He understood that all too well. He meditated nightly because he had to in order to keep ahold of his gifts, not just because of the emotional connections he formed with Sal, Alex and Ris. Now, with this added connection, and the extra effort he had been putting in as a precaution more for himself, it was more mandatory than ever. Again, instead of answering, he gave a nod. ::::Dassa regarded him for a few moments, not sure what else she could say. She’d come here in hopes of helping her friends, but it seemed all she’d done is make things worse.::Skyfire: What are you after, Dassa? Ah barely understand what the hell happened.Alexander: I was only trying to help. ::grimaces:: She’s really hurting and without our connection, I don’t have a way to help. She’s sealed herself off from me completely. She won’t talk to Anjar, Leya, or Michael either.Skyfire: And our chat did….not help, ah’m guessin’.:: None of the names she rattled off rang any bells, except Anjar. He continued listening, though. ::Alexander: ::grimaces:: She hasn’t talked to me since just after the surgery...not really. I finally had a bit of a breakthrough earlier tonight, but she still won’t let me inside her head. I’m only relaying what she’s told me...and what I know from experience.:: Trapped between a rock and a hard place, he was. The rock being the fact he was in a committed relationship with Alex, the hard place being the fact Lael’s harboring feelings for him beyond that of a simple crush. ::Skyfire: Ah’m not sure what else to say, really.Alexander: ::murmurs:: Me either.:: He sipped the last of his drink in silence, breaking eye contact and feeling confused. On the one hand, he didn’t want to cause more harm than he had already. On the other, he didn’t want to complicate his relationship with Alex any further than it already was. This just...it was a new dimension to their next conversation he had to have. ::Alexander: ::sighs:: I’m worried about her, Chythar. Just when she was starting to get past things with Jansen, this had to come up.Skyfire: Doesn’t make me feel any better either, lass. Ah’m worried about her too, but ah’m only human. Nothin’ much ah can say tae make this better. Even Lazarus has limitations.::Dassa nodded, her gaze dropping to her hands. She missed Tobian most in moments like this.:::: He was silent again, keeping his gaze on the teacup. His body was still tense, and he was now wordless. Completely. He had a couple friends he couldn’t help at the moment because he wasn’t made of magic. ::---PNPC LtJG Dassa Alexander, PD, PDSMedical OfficerUSS ZaI238110RH0&Lieutenant Chythar SkyfireMedical OfficerUSS ZaO239002CS0
  4. ((Deck 7, Shayne and Pond’s Quarters, USS Atlantis)) ::Something was bothering the love of his life.:: ::Shayne’s back complained insistently as he hefted yet another box from the towering stack that still remained in his and Pond’s shared quarters aboard the Atlantis . It never seemed to diminish. They’d been at it for hours, but there was always another collection of things to move, place, or shove forcefully out of the way. Such tedium would normally be demoralizing, but then he would remember the reason for this extra labor, and he would lose his rancor immediately. After all, Isa needed her stuff moved in as well, and Shayne was only too happy to oblige.:: ::As he observed her, however, it was clear that she was troubled. She had the look of someone wondering how to best broach a difficult subject. They didn’t normally have issues discussing anything. Secrets were not conducive to romances. Besides that, she seemed highly uncomfortable. She’d look at him when she thought he couldn’t see, and dart her eyes away as if caught in the middle of an uncouth act. He hadn’t seen her this disconcerted since their relatively recent visit to her family on Trill. ((Flashback 1, a few months ago, Pond residence, Leran Manev, Trill)) ::Shayne stood in dismay as Isabel disappeared up the stairs, leaving the helmsman alone with her parents. Not even in his worst nightmares had he imagined something like this happening. And now he was left alone to maneuver the treacherous nor’easter of meeting the girlfriend's parents for the first time.:: Raffa: Isn’t she lovely… I am Raffa, and that’s… Kylani: ::interrupting:: I’m Kylani, very nice to meet you. ::What an odd couple. They seemed well paired, if not slightly adversarial. Raffa seemed content to render Kylani into the shadows, but Kylani herself was not nearly as ready to allow Raffa to relegate her to a corner.:: Shayne: Randal Shayne- a pleasure to meet you. Kylani: Can I offer you something refreshing? ::Alcohol- at least at this juncture- would be a dreadful idea. He never touched the stuff when his wits were needed, and in this most delicate situation, wits were the only thing that could help end this evening quickly and decently.:: Shayne: Erm, water would be lovely- ::Kylani immediately turned and headed into the kitchen area. Perhaps she was one of those exceptionally energetic people.:: Raffa: So you’re from Earth, right? We lived for a long time there, before Kylani got pregnant. Hence Isabel’s name… I guess you’re in Starfleet, too, aren’t you? Where else would Isa met someone like you… ((End Flashback)) ::He shivered at the unfortunate memories, and again turned his attention to Isabel. As she put down another box and straightened her spine, Shayne gently took hold of her hand and looked her in the eye, curious and kind.:: Shayne: Babe, is there something you want to talk about? ::Maybe there was, maybe there wasn’t. But this surely was not any of these matters where one could ask to talk about it. It was much too delicate and too important. One had to voluntarily reveal the opinion of it to be strictly truthful, of that Isabel was sure.:: Pond: Uhm, not really. But I sure hope that nickname isn’t going to stick. ::He hid his embarrassment with a smile. Pond wasn’t the type for cute, silly nicknames, and Shayne had forgotten that in his haste to comfort her against something that wasn’t there.:: Shayne: Absolutely not. ::He continued his unboxing with his face bright red, but still grinning. Something was on her mind.:: ::After the matter was settled without coming to any conclusive results about what it was that Isabel bothered, the Trill tried some careful advances from her side.:: Pond: ::casually:: What were you thinking about? Shayne: The dinner with your parents. I still have nightmares. ::Shaking his head.:: You remember it? Pond: ::laughing, emptily:: Of course I remember. My dad had known you for ten seconds and already almost blurted out the most embarrassing story of my later youth… ::Too late Isabel realised that Randal probably had already forgotten about that. After all, Raffa had barely been able to start with that before her storming off to the upper floor.:: ::He cringed anew as the memories swept through him. Just once, violating the temporal prime directive didn’t sound so appalling- he might be able to redo the dinner.:: Shayne: I was really trying to forget about that… ::There was a way of getting out of it once again, presenting itself. It probably would have been better to get things cleared out right there, who knew what Randal was imagining. However, clearly he wasn’t interested in doing that and Isabel moved on.:: Pond: Oh common, it was nothing. ::laughing:: And it was not the only story that evening that nobody wanted to hear! ((Flashback 2, a few months ago, Pond residence, Leran Manev, Trill)) ::After a while, Isabel returned downstairs. She felt quite bad for leaving Shayne that abruptly with her parents alone, but her father’s comment had been just too much. Now, she had calmed down over the nice view of the bay from the bedroom and was ready to face whatever monstrosities her dad’s humour would have in store for her.:: ::She found them at the kitchen table. Randal had somehow acquired himself a glass of water while her parents were drinking bajoran wine, as always. The father was just telling some stories from his time on earth, which surely would lead (after a considerable amount of time) to the time when he would meet Kylani, getting married and probably even conceiving Isabel.:: Raffa: … I lived in a district near London, called “Caldwell”. You know, it is one of these places that is in a constant cycle of being considered a bad neighborhood, becoming a place to be and then fall back again. Naturally over a couple of decades, of course. When I arrived, doing the last semester of engineering school on a foreign world, it was just on the brink. Not that bad anymore, but still cheap. Can you believe it, my buddy moving in across the street paid five times as much just three years later! Five times! ::Raffa shook his head, as if he was believing his own exaggerations: ::Shayne applied every scrap of will power toward keeping eye contact with the rambling Trill. He could barely stand to listen to this tirade while Isa was secluded upstairs, the result of Raffa’s insensitive words. But in the pursuit of propriety, he’d wait until she appeared again. After that, he didn’t know what he’d do. It rather depended on Isa’s bearing.:: Shayne: ::Giving an empty smile.:: There’s something to be said for financial prudence. Raffa: It was at the graduation party half a year later when I’ve met this young woman over here, just a freshman at the most renowned law schools in the area, but… ::Isabel made as loud of an entrance as possible, shuffling some glasses around while getting herself something to drink.:: ::He jerked up, delighted to see that Isabel had reappeared. Her storming away in a huff made him realize just how deeply her father’s words had stung, and until know, he didn’t know if she’d return at all. But it appeared that she had found some sort of inner peace. That was just as well- now Shayne would have someone to share the torment with.:: Pond: Dad, don’t bore my boyfriend with the whole story, that is no way to behave on the first day. Raffa: ::mocking:: At least better than abandoning him after 30 seconds, mind you. Shayne: ::Unable to stop the thought from crossing his mind.:: oO Oh, shut up, you insensitive fool! You’re the one who drove her away! Oo ::Raffa glanced at his daughter, obviously judging if there was a chance for her to take the bait a second time. But she appeared to be all calmed down now. However, there was still a slight pause which had to be filled.:: ::Shayne was furious, but he didn’t like the way Raffa was looking at his daughter. No matter how much he’d like to loosen the grip on his emotional reins, he knew he had to try and keep focused.:: Shayne: You...were telling me about your marriage. ::If there was one thing he’d learned from this whole mess, it was that Raffa enjoyed speaking. At great length. Whether he wanted him to or not.:: Raffa: ::With a sigh:: Ah well, it is such a lovely story how we were getting married… ((End Flashback)) ::Of course, the had been no way to stop Isabel’s father to tell the story anyway. Isabel had to be contented with the mere satisfaction of forcing him to tell the second or third shortest variant.:: ::At that point, Isabel had an idea that could lure Randal out into the open. It involved some truth bending on how much she liked that story herself, though.:: Pond: It is a lovely story though, isn’t it? ::He looked at his girlfriend, aghast. What had she said? How could she like the story? She actively encouraged her father to tell the abridged version. He could see his loathing for the whole thing reflected in her eyes. What did she mean?:: Shayne: ::Chuckling to voice his confusion.:: No. It bored the both of us to tears- you remember that. Pond: Ah well, you remember that, too. ::only slightly getting off track:: But it is about love and passion and after all, I have never seen anybody that happily married. Shayne: Well, I suppose it had its moments. Are you talking about something specifically? Pond: Uh noo, not at all. ::Slight pause, then an excited outbreak:: Hey, do you remember the next embarrassing thing? ::now realising that excitement was the wrong emotion, Isabel changed it to something more appropriate.:: We must have won an award back then… ::Shayne cringed as his thoughts continued upon their treacherous, torturous stroll down memory lane…:: ((Flashback 3, a few months ago, Pond residence, Leran Manev, Trill)) Raffa: So, Mr Shayne, how long did you say you and Isa are together? I am afraid our daughter is not very industrious while writing letters. ::Isabel gave him a crooked smile, which was her way to take that as a compliment.:: Shayne: Oh, um… it’s been some time. Bordering on a couple of years now, wouldn’t you say? ::Looking at Isa.:: Raffa: Wow, that’s about the time when it gets serious! So when are you planning to marry her? ::His daughter’s eyes went from “I have everything under control” to “and what’s my saying in that?” within a moment, but her mother was quicker on the response.:: ::Shayne’s eyes bugged out at Raffa’s statement. This wasn’t possible. Why was he facing this? Why couldn’t Isabel’s parent be more sensitive? Most fathers- in his painfully- were quite protective of their daughters, and would study any suitors quite carefully. Now this man was complaining at him for not tying the knot already.:: Shayne: ::To the universe:: oO You are having far too much fun at my expense. Oo Kylani: Darling, remember what we said about approaching sensitive things slowly? ::laughing friendly, now explaining to Shayne:: You know, just because we hit it off right away, he always thinks it must be like that with everyone else. ::again to her husband:: They’re still very young, they have all the time in the world. ::If it weren’t for Kylani, he didn’t know what he’d do. She seemed quite sensible, understanding, polite and sensitive- everything Raffa wasn’t. It was refreshing to be reminded that civility still existed in some capacity.:: Raffa: ::jokingly upset:: Young? My baby girl is… uhm… is 26 already… Pond: ::whispering, happily upsetting her father even more:: Twenty-Seven ::Shayne’s shoulders dropped even lower.:: Raffa: 27! ::to Randal:: You know, if we had been you, our oldest one had already been walking at this point! Shayne: oO I doubt it, sir! You would talk him to death long before that could happen! Oo ::Isabel crunched some numbers, leaving her forehead in wrinkles. They really did not add up the way her father was thinking they would.:: Shayne: ::Temple throbbing painfully.:: Well, I guess we’re not there yet. ::Isabel had enough at that point and decided to step in and try to move the conversation to a different topic.:: Pond: You know, enough of that, we’ll figure the right moment out, am I right? ::The sentiment earned his wholehearted support. And as he considered, he realized this was just a minor irritation. At the end of the day, he still had her.:: ((End Flashback)) ::Isabel smiled and glanced at Randal, judging if he had noticed the convenient point where she had ended her recollection of the events she had been talking about.:: Pond: I guess you have to understand my father, he surely was just making up for all the years he wasn’t able to tease me and for all the ones lying ahead of us. ::Now he was more sure than ever that something was going on. Something that Isabel was hoping he would notice as well. But what? For such a perceptive creature, he felt exceptionally thick at the moment.:: ::Isabel cuddled a little closer to her boyfriend, both in anticipation of these years and as a sign for him that she was indeed ready to take these on seriously.:: Shayne: ::Eyebrow raised.:: Well, your father has a way with words. But I guess I can accept that. And nothing is going to spoil my joy of the many years lying ahead. ::Embracing Isabel back.:: ::And then a horrible, flimsy wisp of thought came to the forefront of his mind, and a moment’s consideration expanded it so that he could focus on nothing else. The painful recollections about stories regarding marriage, Isabel’s poignant comments…:: ::Was she talking about getting married?:: ::The whole world stopped. Absolute joy and terror seethed in his heart. Did she want to? Well, she always said she wanted a family some day. He’d never really considered the implications of that desire. Sheer exhilaration coursed through his veins. What did he say? Should he ask to clarify? Should he pursue the topic? Should he run and hide? All of these things sounded quite good at that moment.:: ::Being tightly locked in an embrace, Isabel definitely felt a change in Randal’s posture. Some muscles definitely were contracted which normally wouldn’t be in this situation. For a moment, names in an old language flowed through the doctor’s mind, the ones the humans had decided that their muscles should have. Even though painstakingly learned in med school, she remembered only the Trill ones.:: ::Maybe thanks to that silly overflow, she wasn’t quite able to grasp that this reaction most likely meant that he had finally understood. This failure in recognition led to her continue beating around the bush.:: Pond: I have no doubts about that! You don’t want anything to change, do you? ::Her endeavour was tricky. She wanted to find out if Randal was ready yet. It didn’t came to her mind that he could not want to get married, it was just that he sometimes could be just a bit too pleased with the things how they are. To find the answer for that question, which could only be “yes” or “later”, was actually the easy part. She could wait, no problem. Not too long, but she could. What Isabel actually was afraid of was that he would take all that banter as a prompt to propose. That would be a problem, because it was a moment, which had to be perfect, maybe even more so than the actual wedding day. And the only way she could make sure that it would be exactly as she imagined it was to do it herself.:: Shayne: ::Now thoroughly convinced that she was speaking of marriage.:: Well, not for the present. Aren’t things, you know...good the way they are? ::He said that while cringing inside, desperate to not offend the love of his life. If he was wrong about what she was talking about, it could lead to a huge miscommunication, a possibly a larger argument. What if she wasn’t satisfied with the way things were? Was that why she was bringing this up? Already he could see conflict.:: Pond: Yeah sure… ::looking the other way, out of the window:: Sure they are. END Lieutenant Randal Shayne Helmsman/Ops officer USS Atlantis NCC 74682 G239202RS0 and Lt Isabel Pond Medical Officer USS Atlantis D239212IP0
  5. ((Government Complex, Lokesh City)) ::Tyr paced nervously back and forth, watching the Laudean security forces scrambling to divert traffic from the area. It was clear that they had no idea how to deal with the situation, as they appeared more to be herding sheep than they were directing people where to go. His eyes moved back to the group of children, who were nervously looking back and forth at the street and the shouting Laudean officers, probably waiting for their parents, who were caught in the traffic. As he watched, he noticed a lone Laudean, standing apart from the crowd, dressed far too warmly for the day. He seemed to be watching the Security officers, and where they moved, he moved away.:: Waltas::grabbing Parker's shoulder, speaking low and ominously:: Three o'clock. Don't look directly. ::Tyr watched Parker turn to the side and observe, and the same expression crossed his face as Tyr's. He saw the big man tense instantly.:: Parker: Son of a [...]... Waltas: He's far too out of place. See him avoiding the Security personnel? Attempting to blend in? Parker: It's hard to blend in with that coat he's wearing.... Waltas: That coat..could hide quite a bit. Parker: I'd bet my pay he's the second bomber, looking for a way to do the most damage... Waltas::As loudly as he dared:: Irina. On me. Pavlova: Long coat? Waltas: Three o'clock. ::He watched Irina look over to the man then quickly look away.:: Pavlova: We need to get him away from those children. Waltas::Nodding:: Sets off alarm bells. And he's far too close to the children. ::He looked to the Security forces, still attempting to clear the street:: There's no time. Irina, take left, Parker, take right, I'll go straight at him. Parker: Got it. Pavlova: Moving. ::The three officers surreptitiously approached the man in a roundabout way, with Tyr eyeing the children as if he was going to them, Pavlova circling around and Parker headed into the blocked street to cut off escape. The man looked Tyr's way, but his head was down, his hand not straying far from his phaser. Tyr paused, seemingly interested in a piece of debris at his feet, and knealt down, still watching the man from behind the Duronis-required sunglasses. He indiscriminately tapped his comm badge.:: Waltas: =/\= He sees me but I don't think he knows we're on to him. Close in but do not engage. =/\= Parker: =/\= Copy that... =/\= Pavlova::=/\= In these uniforms he sees all of us.=/\= ::After a moment of inspecting the piece of debris, Tyr stood and stretched lazily, hoping to remain unthreatening, his eyes never leaving the man. He saw him open his coat and reach inside, and he tensed. A flash of some sort, and the man was running...directly toward the children.:: Waltas::Screaming, drawing his phaser:: TAKE HIM DOWN! NOW! ::Tyr fired, hitting the man in the shoulder, while Parker and Pavlova struck him as well, but he seemed unphased. Tyr broke into a dead run, trying to cut him off from the children, but the man had the advantage and kept running even after another shot from Pavlova staggered him. Tyr reached him first and tackled the man to the ground, decking him with a hard right hand. The man's hand again went for his coat but Tyr grabbed his hand and wrenched, breaking it. Wailing in pain, the Laudean looked at him through hate-filled eyes, drew a wicked-looking knife from his boot and plunged it into Tyr's shoulder. Growling in pain he was forced to defend against the knife, catching it with his right hand, but this left the Laudean free to use his broken hand to withdraw an object from his jacket. He hurled it directly at the group of children.:: Waltas: NO! ::Everything moved in slow motion. He saw Hannibal and Irina scrambling for the device and he struggled to his feet. Both Irina and Parker reached the device and slapped it away from the children. He struggled to get to his feet to throw himself on it..and the device exploded. He felt as if he'd been struck, flying backward and slamming into one of the cars sitting in the street. The air blew out of his lungs and a horrible ringing in his ears was all he could hear. A red haze filled his vision and he wavered on the brink of unconsciousness. Taking several gulps of air, he shook his head and rolled onto his stomach, his vision clearing. The blast had been small, but his arms told him that there was shrapnel-likely a grenade of some sort. His eyes finally cleared...and revealed a scene of horror.:: ::The children, panicked, had run in the direction of the device just before it went off, and nothing the officers could have done would have changed the outcome. Tiny, broken bodies lay everywhere, at least 10, some wailing in pain, others silent. Tyr, unable to stand, crawled toward them, the closest a small girl gasping for breath. She was wearing a pink dress with the same "dracoon" he had seen in the forest during his and Toni's honeymoon, and her hair was still neatly tied in a bow. By her face, she was no older than 6, and she looked up at him with pleading eyes, not understanding why she couldn't breathe. Not comprehending what had happened. Looking to him for answers. He got to his knees, surveying her wounds, which were gruesome. She was bleeding from two gaping wounds in her neck, and her breath came in ragged gasps.:: Waltas::Weakly:: medic..someone..help.. ::The girl stopped breathing.:: Waltas: No..NO! ::Frantically he tore off his command jacket and wrapped the girl's most obvious wounds, then began CPR, desperately alternating between breaths and chest compressions. After several moments, his command jacket was soaked in blood, and the girl had long passed away. Tyr kept up the CPR, unaware others had gathered.:: Parker: Tyr...she's gone.... Pavlova: He’s right, she’s gone. Waltas: No. I can save her. I can.. ::He resumed compressions.:: Parker: We are going to get the [...]s responsible for this, whether the Laudeans want it or not. I swear it. We are going to kill them all for what they have done... Pavlova: They’ve definitely crossed the line. Waltas::Snapping, viciously:: NO! She'll live! I.. I can.. ::His body, hurting from the battle with the Laudean and the blast, gave out. He slumped onto his side, not horribly wounded in body, but his spirit was crushed. The girls' eyes were still open, staring up at the Duronis skies, still with the confused and bewildered look upon her face. Her sweet, young features were frozen in time, belying the garishness of her wounds. Her young life faded with the light of the day. Tyr looked at her and wept openly, his eyes passing over the other children who were dead or wounded from the horrible attack. A monster had done this. Someone who could somehow justify murdering children to prove their point. A sick animal, willing to snuff out young, innocent lives to make a political statement. To gain or hold onto power. Horrible things happened in war. Tyr himself had done things he later regretted. But never, in his career, had he even considered killing innocents. He wasn't capable of it. None of his beliefs would ever demand that he should do such a thing. He couldn't imagine any set of beliefs that WOULD allow or justify the murder of innocent, sweet children, on their way home from school. Yet, the proof lay in front of him. All around him. Evil did exist, and it had landed upon his soul like a vulture upon its prey. He looked back to the little girl, her dress now stained in blood and wrapped in his command jacket, her tiny hands clutched in the throes of death, her legs curled into a fetal position from the pain, her eyes still questioning....still not understanding.:: ::He didn't understand, either.:: ============================== Captain Tyr Waltas CO, Strategic Operations Duronis II Embassy C237910TW0
  6. (( Constitution Upper Decks )) ::Ji-hu was keeping an eye on his partitioned terminal while coordinating a repair team who were fixing a security office near Promenade-07. Apparently a small mob of Hinji were roaming the level, indiscriminately vandalizing any Starfleet property. Starbase security was in pursuit, but security and engineering were stretched thin, so when the area was clear he sent in a small team of Constitution engineers with a couple of security officers. The ensign had just pushed through requested schematics for a heavy duty door repair when there was a ping from Sindri’s coordinates.::::He rushed over to the terminal and noticed that a section of Nightshade’s habitat lighting had been turned off, he smiled, but then noticed something else. A small energy fluctuation from the same location. A notification that hadn’t gone to Starfleet, but to someone else.::Choi: ::muttering:: What the…::His communicator trilled and his hand reached up automatically while his eyes stayed on the readout.::Wynter: =/\= Wynter to Ensign Choi. =/\=Choi: =/\= Choi here, do you n-n-need something Lieutenant? =/\=Wynter: =/\= Yes, we found a piece of hardware that might have been used in the Nightshade sabotage. We need it analyzed. =/\=Choi: =/\= Understood, Lieutenant Wynter. I can p-pick it up at the transporter on Deck 2 and take it to M-Main Engineering for analysis. =/\=::Ji-hu waved over an on-duty ensign, who approached to take over his operations.::Wynter: =/\= Good, I'll mark it for transport with my tricorder. Energize when you are ready. =/\=Choi: =/\= Aye aye, Lieutenant. I’ll let you know if I find anything. Choi out. =/\=::Ji-hu advised the ensign to put in the call to the transporter on Deck 2, and to not under any circumstances touch his partitioned console. He nodded at Lieutenant McLaren as he made his way to the turbolift.::::The Bolian crewman had just finished transporting the device when Ji-hu arrived, and the young ensign walked over and picked it up. His hands were a little sweaty… nerves… and the device slipped out of his palm and landed with a thud on the deck floor. The Bolian gave him a dubious glance, but he shrugged, retrieving it, before heading back to the turbolift, mortified.::Choi: Main Engineering.::He studied the device as the lift hummed to life, shooting through the Constitution’s decks. It was an electronics modification component with a small interface and a button, a small cylinder that fit comfortably in Ji-hu’s hand. The cylinder was standard when engineers had to add electronic systems without pulling something completely apart, although this one showed some singeing from shoddy application. Amateurs. Ji-hu couldn’t bring himself to believe this had anything to do with sabotage. If anything it was probably a stopgap modification to regulate power fluctuations in the grid.::(( Constitution Main Engineering ))::Main Engineering was staffed by a skeleton crew, given the mass exodus to aid efforts on the Starbase. Ji-hu flipped the device in the air nonchalantly as he walked over to an analysis station just off the main chamber—dropping it once more. He whistled to himself as he placed the component into the analysis port, which slid a protective field into place as he walked over to the information output console.::Choi: Computer, run a full analysis on the component.::He listened as the computer began to run through a series of rapid systems, analyzing the component… but something was wrong, there was a high-pitched whining and then a small “thrum.” Then, suddenly, the analysis port was on fire.::::Ji-hu’s jaw dropped just before the fire suppression system kicked in.::::Moments later, the dripping wet ensign was in Main Engineering as two other officers charged into the lab to salvage what was left of the waterlogged port.::Choi: C-c-c-computer… analysis…Computer: Inconclusive. Before a full analysis could be completed the device discharged a high yield EM pulse when a remote current was established as part of the analysis protocol, which created a voltage surge due to magnetic induction.::Ji-hu’s face paled.::Choi: So why didn’t the device go off before Wynter found it?Computer: Unknown. The circuit may have been left intentionally disconnected.Choi: … so when power was disconnected from habitat lighting the new circuit would go live, electrocuting the engineer and blowing the system! WYNTER AND SINDRI!::Ji-hu began to smash his communicator and desperately call for the two officers, but there was no response.::Computer: Please be advised: There are currently reports of random communicator disruption from the Starbase.oO Am I too late then?! Has Sindri already set off a EM pulse at another sabotaged panel?! Oo::Without thinking, Ji-hu found himself pounding towards the Main Engineering transporters. A bored looking crewman, a young human woman, went wide eyed as the soaked ensign crashed into the transporter chamber.::Choi: GET ME AS CLOSE AS YOU CAN TO LIEUTENANT SINDRI’S LAST KNOWN LOCATION MAYBE NEAR A POWER PANEL IN THE MAINTENANCE TUNNEL ENERGIZE NOW!::He stood gasping for air as she punched in a few coordinates. She apologized, there seemed to be some sort of disruption that was scrambling her signal, but if she could focus the transporter's parameters…::(( Starbase 104 - Nightshade Service Tunnel ))::He felt the creeping tingling as the world went to a blinding darkness, and then he could feel the cool air of a tunnel, and see a distant light as someone was moving through it.::Choi: ::gasping for breath:: SINDRI DON’T TOUCH THE PANEL EM PULSE SABOTAGE STOP!*****Ensign Choi Ji-huEngineering OfficerUSS Constitution-BC239402CJ0
  7. ((DS26, Recreation Deck 2, Holodeck 14)) ::Though they had both been there responding to the crisis on Kriosian III Brell had been mostly leading teams from Atlantis and Morin had spent nearly the whole time assisting in sickbay. The younger Bolian’s time was also taken by his academy coursework. This chance to learn on the job out among the distant stars had not gotten him out of having to sit through lectures. Right now that all seemed a million light years away as both were focused on one thing; winning.:: ::Morin dodged the metallic disk still flashing red, it bounced off of the holodeck wall and came right back for him. He aimed his phaser and shot grazing the edge of the disk. It counted and began to flash blue aiming itself for his uncle instead. He jumped to his feet to taunt.:: Morin: Nice try! ::Brell smirked at his nephew’s comment. Morin had improved his game quite a bit at the academy and had gotten in a few impacts on him. So far he had managed to keep ahead of the younger man, but it was far closer of a game than he would like. He readied for the disk to come at him and fired long enough to send the now flashing red disk flying towards the opposite wall. Morin had given him a chance by exposing himself to taunt him. The disk bounced off of the wall and just as Morin was turning his head to react it impacted him between the his shoulder blades sending him diving to the ground.:: Computer: Full Impact - Game, Brell. ::He took a few steps forward and knelt down offering his nephew a hand, then pulled him up on his feet.:: Brell: Good game. Morin: You got … lucky … Go again. ::Brell looked to Morin and it was clear that after three games in a row that he could easily play another. He merely sheened with exhilaration of extended physical activity, while his own red tank top dampened by sweat showed how much more exerted the commander felt.:: Brell: I thought we had agreed to best two out of three. Computer end program. ::The phaser disappeared in from their hands and grid lines of the small holochamber replaced the seemingly full sized velocity court they had been standing in.:: Morin: You just know I win by running around a lot. Brell: ::Smirking.:: Perhaps. ::The two exited the holodeck and started down the walkway. They had plans to meet up with Hars, Lyldra, and the twins later on. Brell was looking forward to cooking a big meal for his family and having help in the kitchen in the form of Morin. He too had been expected to help out in the kitchens of the family underwater homestead as a child. So it was nice to have someone around who knew more than telling the replicator what they wanted.:: Brell: Would you like to grab a bite to eat? Morin: Food already? Brell: Well we can't cook in few hours all hungry and smelling everything. It would make us unable to concentrate. As a Doctor to be you should be able to tell more about cognitive function when an individual is hungry. ::Morin rolled his eyes, then poked his uncles belly for emphasis.:: Morin: As a Doctor to be I think you could skip a meal. Brell: That isinsboratanation, Cadet. ::Both Bolians laughed loudly causing a few people to turn towards them. Brell appreciated his nephews concern and he was someone whom he could always count on for support. Even if it came in form of a jibe.:: Morin: We could head back early. I would not mind playing with the twins a bit ::Brell could not believe how much they had grown in weeks they had been away tending to the Kriosian crisis. They were making whole words and simple sentences now and had greeted him him with a flurry of da-da’s upon seeing him. He had worried it had been long enough that they might forget him in throws of learning by leaps and bounds on near daily basis. The nineteen month olds were quite aware of his absence and missed him, coming home to them was one of the best feelings.:: Brell: Sounds like good idea to me. Higgs: =/\= Ensign Higgs to Commander Brell. =/\= ::He sighed, Higgs was the watch officer on duty aboard Atlantis right now and he would only be calling if there was a problem.:: Brell: =/\= Brell here, yes Ensign. =/\= Higgs: =/\= Sir the holodeck systems crashed about thirty minutes ago, and now other subsystems are not responded correctly. We are having some kind of cascading problem over here. =/\= Brell: =/\= Recall the Engineering staff, and I’ll inform Commander Rhyn about the sution before coming aboard. =/\= Higgs: =/\= Yes, sir. =/\= Brell: Well it looks like duty calls. Tell your aunt and co-uncle that I could be late, and that I well be with you all as soon as I can. Morin: Yeah, no problem. oO I’m sure they are used to it. Oo ::They gave each other a quick hug goodbye and parted ways, Morin towards the habitat module one cross-way and Brell to the nearest transporter room. Little did either know that Brell would not be coming back until very late. The problems aboard Atlantis only seemed to grow, subsystem by subsystem. It was not too long before he had to call in help from the station and inform Renos that something was going on.:: TBC Commander Brell, First Officer USS Atlantis, NCC-74682, Andaris Task Force Academy Deputy Commandant - PotW Co-Facilitator E239109B10
  8. ((USS Darwin, Deck 10, Group Counseling Room)) ::In anticipation of the captain’s appointment, Didrik had cleared the furniture from the group counseling room, leaving just a few mats and pillows on the floor. He had dimmed the lights as well, making the room seem even more empty. By the time the captain arrived, Didrik’s eyes had already adjusted to the dark.:: Stennes: Come on in, and have a seat. ::Renos never knew what to expect when ne had an appointment with Didrik. Did everyone get the experimental treatment or did he employ these more creative techniques because he felt ne might be somewhat resistant to traditional counseling? The atmosphere here was comfortable and relaxed and the furniture was suspicious by its absence. The counselor seemed to have gone to some trouble in preparation for this. Ne didn’t wait for an invitation and took a seat on one of the cushions, finding them reasonably comfortable to sit on.:: Renos: Good day, I see you’ve been busy. ::Didrik awkwardly sat down, his larger frame not well built for sitting cross-legged on the floor. Didrik felt a bit clumsy when next to Renos, who appeared to descend down onto a cushion without any apparent struggle to attempt to balance. He pushed that thought out of his mind, in a method not unlike he was about to teach the captain.:: Stennes: Last time we spoke, we touched on the subject of fear. I want to explore that more deeply today. But first, let’s just focus on breathing. Getting our bodies and minds clear and present. ::Fear. Ne wasn’t altogether fond of digging more deeply into that, especially since the latest mission had brought an uncharacteristic amount of anxiety into nir life in the aftermath. It wasn’t even as if ne regretted nir decisions but ne wondered if ne was wrong. Everyone else seemed to feel the decision ne had come to was wrong. Was nir moral compass really set so differently to everyone else’s? With some effort ne concentrated on nir breathing. Seeing that Didrik had closed his eyes ne decided to do likewise even if it felt horribly uncomfortable. A deviant J’naii could scarcely afford to close nir eyes in the presence of others. You could never tell who was going to stab you in the back the minute you weren’t looking.:: ::Didrik wasn’t certain how effective a four-thousand-year-old Earth meditation technique would work on a twenty-fourth century J’naii, but decided to take his own advice and focused on his own breathing. Hoping to lead by example, he closed his eyes, placed his palms on his knees, breathed slowly in and out, and resisted the temptation to re-open one eye to check if Renos was doing the same.:: Stennes: Imagine your every action, your every thought, is like tossing a pebble in a lake. Casting ripples outward beyond where you can see. When your mind is troubled, it’s like many pebbles being thrown in all at once, creating a rough and rippled lake. ::This was not an easy exercise for nem exactly because nir mind was so busy. It was hard to get it to come away from fretting and analysing details to concentrate on another task. Slowly an image began to form in nir mind. A large lake surrounded by woodland with tall evergreen trees that hugged the mountains as far as they eye could see. Choppy, dark blue waters and a sandy beach. Ne was barefoot on the cool sand, with brown trouser legs rolled up. A pile of large pebbles by nir side. Ne kept throwing the stones in but the pile never got any smaller.:: Stennes: But each ripple is always smaller than the one that came before it. Eventually the ripples die down, and the lake surface is still again. Focus on that image of stillness, and create in your own mind a lake undisturbed by the tossing of pebbles. ::Splosh.:: ::Plop.:: ::Plink…:: ::Very slowly, the ripples did get smaller. Even the cool wind that whipped nir hair back seemed to still a little. A sense of calm seemed to descend over nem. Ne did not wish to speak and spoil the moment and focused on nir breathing and the imagery before nem. The lake of nir mind was a place Renos had often visited during the holidays as a child. It had been a favourite family vacation spot and ne did miss it. J’naii had a lot of beautiful countryside and as a child ne had dreamed of being a countryside ranger, of studying and caring for the woodlands, conserving the threatened species of flora and fauna. Ne had ended up in a very different line of work indeed.:: ::A few minutes into the exercise, Didrik realized he’d forgotten to cue the music he’d chosen for the session. He debated whether he should interrupt the flow of things by instructing the computer to play it, but Renos was seeming to get into the meditation exercise in all the right ways, and Didrik didn’t want the sudden jar of a music track to derail nem.:: Stennes: Look across the lake, and notice that no matter how wide or deep the water may be, the lake can contain it. ::Didrik hoped the transition he was about to make was strong enough to hold Renos to the exercise, and not snap him out of it. There was still so much he didn’t know about nem, and maybe this approach would be too radical or too in-one’s-face. Hopefully, through some careful direction, he would find out, and be able to help.:: Stennes: Now let’s look inside you. Remember to breathe, and as you do, I want you to see the fear that lives there. Find the place within you where that fear lives, and let it come forth. ::Didrik could feel his own body’s response to the prompt, and he found it difficult to merely facilitate the exercise without being a participant. Didrik was no stranger to confronting his own fears, and he hoped that his experience would give him the patience and the compassion to help Renos find his.:: Stennes: As it rises from within you, continue to breathe. Watch it gather. Can you see it? Renos: Yes but it’s not clear. ::Renos stared into the now still waters of the lake. Nir reflection replaced by an inky blackness that had no particular form. Ne felt fear grip nem even without fully understanding what it was ne was frightened of. Nir palms grew sweaty and nir heart rate increased even though ne knew logically that there was no threat.:: ::As quietly and unobtrusively as possible, Didrik shifted his weight on the cushion, alternating the way his legs were crossed in an attempt to prevent his foot from falling asleep. He’d remembered from his own experiences as a patient attempting these exercises that his frame wasn’t exactly purpose built for long periods of contorted sitting. As the thoughts rolled around in his head, he silently chastised himself for them and pushed them out of his mind, allowing his own mental lake to grow still and quiet again.:: Stennes: As it gathers, what color is it? Renos: Mainly black, but there is some grey there, a little red too. Stennes: Now, just take a moment and look at the fear. Notice the shade it takes, the shape it forms as it exists before you. Whether it moves, or changes size. Perhaps it takes the form of something you might recognize. ::Both Didrik the counselor and Didrik the human being were curious about how Renos perceived nir fear manifested in front of nem, but he didn’t wish to prod too deeply or force nem to explain. As he remembered, this was an intensely personal exercise, and sometimes things were discovered that were less than desirable to admit to oneself, let alone others.:: Stennes: Now see the fear. Focus your mind and stare into it. Keep looking into it, breathe, and focus until you can begin to see inside it. All the tiny components that make up this fear, you can see them all. You can even name them. ::The more the fear took shape the less ne wanted to see it. Dark faceless figures formed in the waters. They were familiar to nem. Ne had defeated them once, many times actually but no matter how many times ne defeated them, there were always more ready and willing to take the place of the vanquished. Ne did not recognise the figures themselves so much as what they represented. Senorn formed in the pool and members of nir own family such as nir family as well but as with the black clad hunters, ne did not fear the individual, ne feared what they could do.:: Renos: Betrayal. Loss of individuality. ::Emboldened, the counselor pushed forth to the next step of the exercise.:: Stennes: Good. The act of naming gives relief. By giving something a name, you begin to control how its identity affects you. Fear is just a texture of our existence. And just as you stared through the mass of fear and saw inside of it, you can stare through that texture of fear, and see beyond it. ::Ne was not convinced of any of this, nevertheless ne tried. As ne tried to stare through it ne merely found the images morphing into something else. More red. This time an image of nemself formed in the pool. :: Renos: I’m not sure about this. ::Didrik felt his own heart rate rising and sweat appear as he continued, and he hoped that this exercise was having a positive effect on the captain. He knew his own approach toward therapy was unconventional, but having been an unconventional case himself, he knew there was value in them.:: Stennes: You’re outside of it now, peering in at this mere texture of existence. ::Was Didrik going too fast? It wasn’t working. Ne was bound in a bright red straight jacket in a small cell that contained only a mattress. Nir head had been shaved down to a number 2 and tipped back, looking towards the ceiling above with an expression of anger and anguish. It was one of many ways they stripped away your individuality in a deviant treatment unit. Ne screamed in defiance, realising in a flash as nir eyes flew open, that the sound was probably making Didrik’s ears ring. Ne at once coloured and gave him an apologetic look.:: Renos: I apologise for the outburst. It is most shameful of me. I guess I am not as adept as humans as leaving these things behind… ::Didrik tried not to show his surprise at what had just occurred, but he was almost certainly not doing a very good job. The relatively tranquil exercise had erupted into Renos’ outburst seemingly out of nowhere, and Didrik feared that he was paying more attention to his own performance rather than whether the captain was benefitting from it at all. Stennes: There is no need to feel ashamed. ::Didrik didn’t know what secrets Renos was keeping, or what had nem so troubled, but he feared he had chosen the wrong exercise. It was clear to him that the captain was dealing with a deep, existential trauma, that had probably become so deeply a part of nem that simply trying to look through it was not the most helpful of suggestions.:: Stennes: I think to even consider looking your fear in the eye is an act of remarkable courage. Renos: In my head I know this to be true but right now I do not feel it in my heart. Stennes: Fear of betrayal is not uncommon. Especially if someone has experienced it in the past. Betrayal carries with it intense emotions–guilt, embarrassment, vengefulness–the loss of trust is difficult to live with. ::Ne considered his words and his approach. It was reassuring to know that the counselor did not expect nem to suddenly put these concerns aside, like some miraculous breakthrough would make nir fears, anxieties and bad memories vanish. Like ne would transform into a well balanced, well rounded individual who’d suddenly had a mental revolution. These problems ne faced had created deep rooted rust issues that had cost nem many friendships and prevented nem from forming even more still. It led to a sense of loneliness and isolation. If ne was an island then the borders were closed and very well protected. To date only one person had managed to slip ashore and things between them were not all sunshine and smiles.:: Renos: I’m glad you didn’t tell me I need to ‘get over it’. Stennes: I don’t like to use the phrase “getting over” something. I feel like it implies something that isn’t entirely true. Our pasts never really go away, we just get better at dealing with them. Hopefully. ::Without a desk or a PADD and stylus to hide behind or busy his hands, Didrik himself felt vulnerable sitting across from Renos, who seemed so troubled. Didrik didn’t know the extent of nir problems, but having lived through his own extended period of inner turmoil, which had only recently settled through disquiet and into calm, he felt for what the captain was going through inside nir own mind.:: Stennes: Enough breakthroughs for one day, yes? We still have some time left in this session, but I don’t want to put you through anything further if you’re not up to it. ::Was ne up to it? Part of nem wanted to press on and vanquish the foe inside. Ne wasn’t afraid of hard self-assessment and did not want to be seen as a coward for wanting to call it a day. A large part of nem did want to call it a day, to say ‘good effort’ and lie down somewhere dark and quiet, pushing away the demons back into their dark places to still nir mind again. To restore the barriers ne had spent years erecting and maintaining.:: Renos: The greater question perhaps is whether anything useful could be gained within the time that is remaining. That was an in-depth and time consuming exercise, do we have time to start over? :: Did ne want to feel the pressing need to ‘have a breakthrough’ in whatever time remains so ne could feel ne have not wasted the counselor’s time? No.:: Stennes: You’re right. We can re-engage in that exercise again in the future. If you like we can continue with a more traditional framework. Or we can leave things here, and you can take the rest of the session to reflect privately. Renos: I think it would be best to leave things here. Thank you for your time. ::There was a tinge of regret in nir voice for ne felt disappointed and as though no progress had been made here today. Ne had recognised nir fears and been unable to face them. Ne was spineless. A coward. Ne stood up, nir body language transmitting false pride and confidence. Ne wore a mask well, as ne always did, not wanting to admit nir true feelings to anyone.:: ::Didrik hoped Renos didn’t feel like the entire session was for nought just because they uncovered some turbulence. He admired Renos for nir openness and willingness to plunge deep into the vastness of nir own fear, his own mistrust. Having sat for an extended period, Didrik slowly stood back up, hearing his joints crack and pop as he straightened himself.:: Stennes: Thank you for yours, Captain. Fleet Captain Renos - Commanding Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A * Executive Council & Captain's Council Member * Cadet Steward A238805EB0 and Lt Cmdr Didrik Stennes Counselor & Second Officer USS Darwin NCC-99312-A Justin D238804DS0 FNS Assistant Facilitator “Night, field of stars above us, I pick one and name it for you, and all who are to come.”
  9. ((Casino Upper Deck - The Helase)) Gnarr: Now, now, doctor, we don’t want to be rude now do we? ::Alexa looked as if she was about to get physically sick. Her cheeks were flushed and she had a hand clutching at her stomach with the other holding on to the Dabo table to sturdy herself.:: Dana: Really…ummm no…I can’t… Vee: Gnarr? ::Jaxton tapped the Ferengi on the shoulder.:: ::Dana peered over her shoulder and for a moment her expression was blank as her brain in the haze of alcohol tried to recognise the face that stared at her and Gnarr, then a large smile brushed over her lips.:: Dana: Veeee!! Gnarr: Do I know you? ::Jaxton threw Dana a bemused look and gave her a reassuring smile before looking down at the Ferengi entwined around her waist.:: Vee: You might want to look at this message I just sent. ::He handed the Ferengi the PADD in his hand. The Ferengi was in a little bit of a pickle with one arm wrapped around Alexa and the other holding a drink. He unwrapped himself from Dr. Dana’s waist and took the PADD reading the file that was being displayed.:: ::Something happened to Gnarr’s face as he read the contents. His left eye began to twitch and his lobes reddened as the blood in his face drained.:: Gnarr: Where did you get this? ::He nearly yelled only remembering to keep his tone level at the last second.:: ::Relieved that the Ferengi had loosened his grip on her and amused suddenly at his expression, Dana couldn't help but start to giggle something she never did but then again she had never been drunk before. :: Vee: You might want to review any previous contracts you might have recently entered into. Blox tells me the FIC percentages are at Eleven-Point-Seven percent for business conducted aboard the Helase. Not Ten percent as your standard contracts read. I would void any contracts with the wrong percentages before the liquidators arrive to investigate. ::The Ferengi read the message again his mouth tied up into a snarl. Jax threw Dana a wink while the Ferengi was distracted:: Gnarr: ::Scoffed:: You...how? ::Gnarr shot the human male a look that if it was more metaphorical daggers would of been flying from his eyes. He clenched his fist tightly.:: Gnarr: You can prove nothing. Business is business. ::Smiling that same smile he had given Dana.:: Besides, no harm. Now, how about a few games on the house and we forget about this? Vee: ::Throwing the Ferengi an exaggerated look of shock:: Gnarr. We just met and you try to flatter me with bribery? ::He shook his head:: No. I’m touched but I follow the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. In this particular case you should have remembered that Females and Finance do not mix. Rule 112 would also apply here. ::Gnarr scowled as he tossed the PADD back to the human.:: Gnarr: Very well, and take her with you. I will return all the latinum to her account as long as you forget about this. ::He paused, taking a step closer to Vee.:: But you have no idea who you have messed with Hu-mann. Vee: It always a pleasure to do business with you Gnarr. ::Jax coated his voice with politeness. It was probably the worst Ferengi insult he could think of.:: Vee: I would return the latinum sooner than later though. If I do not cancel that message in the next ten minutes it will be too late. Vee: oO Mess with one of my crewmates again and I will hang you up by your ears. Oo ::Turning ignoring the young human's comment Gnarr walked off back into the fray of patrons. The Dabo girl looked at Vee and Dana her expression a mixture of shock and just a little bit of pleasure.:: Dabo girl: I would get out if I was you, he has a bad temper for a Ferengi. Vee: Good advice. ::Jaxton admitted, giving the Dabo girl an appreciative smile. Jaxton doubted anything would happen right away. Gnarr will be most likely spending the next three hours editing his accounts in order to pass any surprise inspections a liquidator might give. However, the good Doctor did not look like she had three hours of this type of fun left in her. He needed to get her out of the Casino before any of her crewmates found her in this condition.:: ::Dana felt an arm scoop around her waist as she glanced to her side and saw Vee escorting her out of the casino. Her cheeks flushed slightly as she draped her arms around his neck.:: Dana: My hero. ::Jaxton laughed. His adrenaline was pumping. He had managed to bluff a Ferengi. Not an easy feat to accomplish. He never sent the message. The presence of a liquidator would anger the Captain of the Helase and undoubtedly sour whatever deal the Captain was attempting to make with him.:: ::He was still not exactly sure how he had managed it. When he asked Blox what he knew about the Ferengi and offered him the latinum he had won in exchange. The older Ferengi spilled his guts. He learned more about Gnarr in two minutes than he thought was possible. Every dirty little secret the pit boss knew seemed to come gushing out.:: ::They reached a turbolift and when the doors opened Jaxton looked at the very drunk woman in his arms. Her cheeks were flushed and she seemed to have a glow about her..:: Vee: oOThat smile! Oo ::She made a pretty drunk. A very dangerous combination he noted.:: Vee: oO Yeah. But dangerous for whom? Oo Vee: Your Carriage awaits my lady. ::He said as the turbolift doors opened.:: ::Alexa looked at Vee, then looked at the Turbolift and smiled as she took a slightly uneven step forward Jaxton still holding her head steady as he moved with her. Peering up at him she smiled still before slowly turning pressing her body a little tighter to his.:: Dana: You know. ::She paused.:: That was really sweet of you. ::Jaxton helped her inside the turbolift and waited for the doors to close. His mind was racing. Trying to think of how to get her out of the casino and back to her quarters with out anyone seeing her.:: ((Turbolift - Ghe Helease)) Vee: I'm not as sweet as I use to be. ::It was something his Mother often quoted from an old movie.:: Vee: oO Jackson! Oo ::The solution to their problem became apparent to him.:: ::She shook her head, and realised it wasn’t a good idea stopping quickly hoping the floor would stop tilting as well.:: Dana: No really...you saved me. ::This time she rested her hands on his chest, her voice suddenly getting a little softer.:: It was really sweet of you, I mean…. ::A part of her stood watching herself and rolling her eyes, she was drunk and her inhibitions had completely gone out the window. But sadly the inebriated Dana was in full control at the moment and was not holding back on anything.:: ::Before he could say another word, Dana pushed herself forward on her tiptoes and pressed her lips to his, albeit a little clumsily.:: Vee: Hmmmf... ::He had started to say something but suddenly he found himself kissing the woman.:: ::The kiss was unexpected and awkward. He found himself falling into it despite himself for a moment. However his eyes opened wide as the turbolift doors opened and a Bolian stepped inside giving them a knowing smile. It was not the stranger however that had Jaxton worried. He saw past the Bolian, and across the room. It looked like half the officers of the Gorkon were playing Dabo at a table with their backs to them. He wrapped his arm around Alexa’s waist and gently moved them to the right out of the view from the turbolift doors. He reached out behind her and pressed a button. The doors shut on command.:: Vee: Shuttlebay two. ::He said to the Turbolift after managing to pull his lips off of hers.:: ::He stepped back for a moment to avoid giving her the opportunity to kiss him again. He should of known. All turbolifts stop on the Main Casino floor. It made perfect Ferengi business sense.:: Vee: oO I was right. She is a very dangerous drunk. Oo ::His hands were shaking:: ::Still sort of hanging on Vee, but also half now resting against the turbolifts walls, ahe saw for a moment some of the crew of the Gorkon as the doors opened and wanted to jump forward and shout out to them. She was not ready to call it a night, well her mind wasn’t but her body was screaming against the idea.:: Dana: Hi! ::She smiled at the Bolian and waved shortly.:: Bolian: You two make a cute couple. Dana: ::Looking at Vee, her cheeks flushing deeply she bit her lower lip. Before pulling herself close to him.:: Thank you. ::She peered at Vee out the corner of her eye, and drunkenly winked at him.:: Vee: Thank You. ::Was all Jaxton could manage. He was just grateful none of the Gorkon crew had been waiting for the Turbolift on the Main floor. As it was he did not believe anyone had seen them.:: Dana: You’re a good kisser. ::She leaned in a trying not to speak to loudly but failed as the Bolian glanced at them and only smiled hearing them chat.:: Vee: I was inspired. ::He admitted, wishing the Bolian had never stepped into the Turbolift with them. He could of used the time to contact Jackson for the quick getaway. He put a protective arm around Alexa’s waist to help steady her as the turbolift began to move.:: ::The turbolift moved quickly and for a moment there was silence, the Bolian sneaking glances at them every so often.:: ::The silence was deafening for a moment and the turbolift seemed to crawl. He looked at Alexa and grinned:: Vee: oO She is going to have a very bad morning. Oo --- Ensign Jaxton Vee Medical Officer USS Gorkon G239302JV0 & Ensign (Dr.) Alexa Dana Medical Officer USS Gorkon C2737904DE0
  10. ((Main Engineering -- Starbase 118)) ::Praise be to Harrnath, one of the ancient gods his people had once worshipped. Though belief in them had long-since died out centuries ago, the phrases mentioning them lingered on. In this instance, Trellis gave his praise upon finally being discovered. Mirra could hear him, once she'd decided to 'listen harder' to him. ::Now all he had to do was wait for the team to figure out how to get him back to corporeality. Unfortunately, there wasn't much he could do from where he stood -- there, but not there, unable to interact with them outside of Mirra's relays. At least he could add his own technical expertise to the conversation now. He smiled at that thought.:: Tatash: As I said before, things like this usually occur following the introduction of external and unexpected energy. If he’s been shrouded in chroniton particles we’ve found our external cause, Dispersing them should force him back to our reality. ::he paused before raising his voice a little:: You’re a pain in the [...], Vondaryan. ::Trellis laughed. He hoped the Gorn didn't truly mean that. It was a joke, right? He hadn't wanted to un-phase out of reality. It wasn't his fault this happened. How could he be a pain in the [...]? Unless it was a joke. ::Despite Mirra's protests earlier, he still thought he should see Oma-Saan. No one could see him; he could use that to his advantage.:: Ezo: ::frowning:: I don't know how safe that would be... what if you were to re-materialize right in the den of thieves...? Or if you managed to get hurt somehow... Whittaker: ::nodding in agreement:: The Doctor is right. We have no idea of how long this effect will last or how extensive it is. We also have no idea how to bring you back or even phase someone else in case you get injured. Tatash: Chroniton particles degrade rapidly; they would probably wear off naturally given time but sods law dictates it would be right in the middle of the criminals nest. Vondaryan: ::sighing:: Fine. I'll stand here not sneaking around. You have no idea how hard this is for me... ::He looked over at Mirra, who had a tricorder pointed vaguely in his direction.:: Can you track me yet, Doctor? Ezo: ::glancing down to her tri-corder:: I'm getting minor fluctuations but not exactly a reliable tracking device... Can we ask the computer for his exact location? Greyson: It's worth a try, I suppose. Computer, where is Lieutenant Vondaryan? Computer: Lieutenant Vondaryan is in Main Engineering. ::He didn't understand why, but the computer could track him. For some reason that made him chuckle. Why could a computer do what the best-trained and smartest people in the fleet couldn't?:: Ezo: ::quietly, snapping:: No laughing! Stand in front of me, I want to see if I can get a clear bio-reading.... Vondaryan: ::he stuck out his tongue, though no one could see:: Anything? If I can't go spy on Oma-Saan, can I at least go look inside the fusion core? How often am I going to get the opportunity to explore the core when it's functioning? ::he raised his eyebrows, smiling:: Greyson: That's promising. Sir, permission to flood engineering with an anyon wave? Ezo: A what-wave...? Are you sure that's safe? Tatash: Vondaryan might sting a bit but nothing beyond an inconvenience. Probably the same sort of feeling he got in the first place when he phased out. ::He didn't remember feeling any stinging sensation when he phased out. Well, other than the 'transporter' beam, but that felt normal. Anyon waves weren't inherently dangerous though, so it shouldn't cause much discomfort.:: Cain: Response? Greyson: ::to nobody in particular:: The hope is, Lieutenant, that you will materialize on the deck somewhere in the room. You should be unharmed by the process. Ezo: HOW sure are we that he'll be unharmed by the process...? Whittaker: Anyons are not inherently dangerous particles. If I remember correctly, Starfleet began experimenting with them to create a cloaking device before we signed the Treaty of Algeron and I have never heard of anyone suffering from more than mild discomfort after working with them. Vondaryan: They're right, doctor. I should be fine. ::beat:: I'm just going to pop into the core for a minute to explore. ::he moved toward the power source:: You won't see me for a minute or so, but I'll be fine. ::he assumed he'd be fine. The intense heat and particles from the fusion generators shouldn't affect him in his current state. Nothing else seemed to.:: Ezo: ::glaring:: Well?? It's not like I can heal wounds I can't SEE!! Greyson: If it doesn't work, then maybe tachions are the answer...? Tatash: Potentially. Tachyon’s on the other hand would definitely leave us all a little bit irradiated. Been there, done that, no thank you not again. ::Trellis hadn't experienced tachyon particles first hand. He wondered what the sensation was like? ::Well, a question for another time, as he had a fusion generator to look into. As he put his head through the metal barriers, he was faced with an intense light from the fusion core. He put his hand to his face to cover his eyes, but to no avail. It was too bright to see anything useful. Still, he had actually seen into the core of a fusion reactor. Not many people could say that. It had been an interesting experience, if nothing else. ::Taking his head out of the core, he was struck by the relative silence around him. He hadn't realized it at the time, but the core was LOUD. The rest of the deck was quiet by comparison. He could still hear everyone, though.:: Whittaker: Doctor, I don't even need to explain your role. Mr. Vondaryan, we're coming to get you. Vondaryan: ::smiling:: I'll be here. Ezo: Well? The good news is you seem to be biologically stable, if only suffering from the minor inconvenience of invisibility... Vondaryan: ::tilting his head:: Minor inconvenience? You won't even let me use it to my advantage. Ezo: ::to the room:: If plan A and B don't work... is there a way we could configure his bio-signature into the transporter...? Or, the holo-deck...? ::Trellis silently complimented Mirra's caution. He usually proceeded in such a fashion. Gather all the available information before making a decision. Planning, weighing options, preparing contingencies. Normally that would be his role. But since he didn't know how long this condition would last he wanted to use it to his advantage while he could. ::He listened quietly as Theo updated Sal about the situation. It's not like Sal would be able to hear anything he said anyway. Still, he felt there was a sense of cautious optimism from the team after the call to the CO.:: Whittaker: Are you ready Doctor? Ezo: ::nodding, tri-corder aloft:: Ready. Whittaker: If it becomes too much then I want you to raise your shields. Lieutenant Vondaryan knows to stay here. ::Yes, Lieutenant Vondaryan did know to stay in engineering. They were the ones working on rescuing him. Though if Mirra had to raise her telepathic shields again, there was even less he could do to help. He just had to hope it didn't come to that.:: Ezo: ::casting a nervous glance towards Theo:: Understood. ::Theo gazed at the team, his face impassive other than a brief slip of a smile toward Mirra. Trellis wasn't sure if he admired the man for being so restrained or felt bad that he had to put on such a facade.:: Whittaker: ::nodding:: You may proceed Major. Tatash: One thousand particles and rising. ::Trellis wasn't sure what to expect. Perhaps the hairs on the back of his neck to tingle? Maybe the pins-and-needles sensation in his extremities, like he was regaining circulation there? Something akin to being transported? He certainly wasn't expecting to feel nothing. He pursed his lips, then tapped his foot.:: Vondaryan: Well. That was anti-climactic. Ezo ::swallowing a snicker:: Vitals holding steady. ::fighting a smile:: He uh..hasn't noticed any change by the way... Whittaker: ::firmly, looking back at Tatash:: Increase anyon output. Tatash: Five thousand and rising. ::That time he felt something. A gentle caress coursing through his body. It was thrilling, like a tiny electric shock. But he wasn't sure if it had worked. He waved at Theo. Nothing. He stepped to a console. He was going to put his hands on the display, but they passed through with only a little more resistance than previous attempts. That was something.:: Vondaryan: Not there yet. I don't think. Ezo: ::squinting sightly:: Vitals still stable, no major change yet on his end. Whittaker: ::to Tatash:: Again Major. Tatash: Ten thousand and ri.... ::a console nearby let out a string of beeps in protest.:: Getting a power interruption on the fourth EPS trunk, someone get that. Whittaker: ::looking to Greyson:: Reroute through the secondary EPS relay. We can pick up it later. ::Out of instinct, Trellis flinched when the console he stood near exploded. It was only a small explosion, not causing much damage to anything around him. Really, it was more like blowing a fuse than an explosion. It was enough to make him move back to the center of the section, away from any equipment. ::The gentle tingling that run though him compounded. He could feel his hair rising, his muscles twitching uncontrollably. Was it enough?:: Vondaryan: Can anyone see me yet? Greyson/Cain/Ezo: ? Whittaker: ::to Mirra:: How is the Lieutenant? Vondaryan: ::pursing his lips:: Guess not... Tatash: Twenty thousands... we're making progress. I'm overriding the safety. Push it to thirty thousand. We'll probably need flashlights. ::The tingling was becoming uncomfortable. Trellis dropped to the floor, his legs unable to support him due to their twitching. He screamed in pain, the anyon waves causing havoc to his muscles. ::Had Trellis had his eyes open to look around, he would have seen the lights go out. As it was, he could only sense the change but the groans from those around him. He let out another scream.:: Vondaryan: Oww, it hurts! Ezo: ::smiling apologetically towards the outline:: Vitals are still steady. ::quietly:: I'm getting a clear outline here...I think we're getting closer Whittaker: We're almost there Lieutenant! Vondaryan: Make it stop. Make it stop! ::He couldn't breathe. He was gasping for air in short, quick bursts. His muscles were clenching uncontrollably. Pain coursed through his body.:: Whittaker: :: gaze snapping towards Ezo :: Is it safe to go any higher Doctor? Ezo: ::strained:: Vitals still stable...he's in incredible pain Whittaker: Fifty thousand Major. ::The pain was like nothing he'd ever felt. Even breaking his arm as a child and the permanent nerve damage that had caused paled in comparison. His whole body screamed in protest at the waves crashing into his body. He imagined he could smell his muscles burning from the inside, his flesh searing. He writhed on the floor, rolling in agony. ::Tears formed in his eyes, dropping to the ground in front of him. He let out yet another scream of pain as his body convulsed involuntarily. He sobbed in pain. ::Suddenly, the pain stopped as the anyon waves ceased.:: Taybrim: =/\= Did you get him? =/\= Vondaryan: ::through tears and sobs:: I've always been here, sir. ::At least the waves of anyons had stopped. The pain receded, his body no longer convulsing. He opened his eyes to the darkened room. At that moment, he was thankful no one could see his tears.:: -- Lieutenant Trellis Vondaryan Chief of Intelligence StarBase 118 Ops O239208TV0
  11. (( USS Conny - Holodeck 2)) :: The mission was long and grueling, but finally it had come to an end. Rustyy could not be more pleased, able to finally sit and relax. Take in long deep breaths without fear of something falling apart, frying, shocking, zapping, shattering, or simply refusing to function. He was now ready to blow off some steam and do something fun. Dressed up as best as he could, in a long sleeved, graphic T -the punisher symbol against the grey colored shirt- and blue jeans that supported only one rip in the knee and frayed cuffs from where his boots always rubbed. It came from having a narrow waist and short legs, they just didn’t make pants that fit him right. Standing outside the holodeck, Rustyy waited for his friend -best friend- to join him in a little bit of goofing off. Shoving his hands in his pockets, he twiddled the toes of his boots together in deep thought. Best friend had a great deal of meaning to the engineer, not something he shared lightly. But he didn’t have another word for the budding relationship. He had found someone who he counted on. Which didn’t sound like much, but he had low standard so he would never be disappointed, so he could never be hurt. But now, now he had found someone who would listen when he talked and would *let* him talk. It was a frightening aspect for Rustyy to think he was letting his guard down with someone. But he would have to trust. Admittedly, it was a nice warm fuzzy feeling to think someone thought of him as more than just the fix-it man. Someone who wanted to hang out with *him* and bring him out into the sunlight rather than let the machine continue to take control and pull him down into the dark recess he had been heading. A shaky smile spread onto Rustyy’s lips as a voice pulled him out of his sullen reviere. :: Foster: Hey there! ::grin:: ::The doctor’s voice was bright, brash. That tone was re-appearing more and more as time went on. It was the biggest indicator that some of the pain of the past was being salved. And somehow he had figured that this holodeck exercise would be the perfect next step in the healing process. Something that nutty counselor had said about ‘facing your fear’ - which they were interpreting literally in this case. He waved casually, dressed in sturdy hiking boots, comfortable jeans, a white t-shirt and a blue flannel button down and a satchel slung across his chest. It curiously looked both alien and perfectly comfortable on him.:: Hael: Hey! ::a more genuine smile replaced the shaky uncertain one.:: Glad’ya’s could make’it. Foster: Wouldn’t have missed this for the world. ::He winked, striding up beside Rustyy.:: Though I did decline the hipster glasses Georgio offered me for the venture. I heard zombies like hipsters. Hael: Ha! That wouldn' be no good. ::paused.:: though I reckon I would'a turned down 'bout anythin' he'd' want to put on me. Just ain' into the same thin' ya'kno'? ::he chuckled looking down at his own cloths.:: Foster: Yep. I hear ya.::He nodded in assent:: I don’t really go for… flamboyant. Besides, the last thing I need is zombies chewing on my breeches because I had bad fashion sense. ::He cracked a smirk.:: Hael: ::refraining from laughing to hard.:: Ya, no good. ::clearing his throat.:: Let us be getting this show on that there road, eh? Foster: No time like the present. ::he nodded in sober agreement, steeling himself for the cheesy wonders of the holoprogram to come.:: :: Rustyy grinned, turning to the control panel and imputed the program coding and opened the door. He held out his hand for Wyn to enter first then stepped in behind him letting the doors close. Foster dusted the front of his shirt off and stepped through with his chest puffed out. He traditionally had weathered scary stories and haunted houses with a sense of cheeky bravery and expected this to be no different. The scene was frozen, tall looming trees that almost looked like kindergartners drew them glared above them. The moon shone through, covering the path ahead of them casting pitch black shadows on either side of them. The soft glow of artificial lights could be just barely made out in the far distance, belonging to an older styled, scattered, village just recently introduced to electricity. Rustyy could feel the excitement rising up into his facial expression as he looked around. It was very much unlike where he had grown up added that little flare on the unknown and unexpected.:: Hael: Ohf. This is gonna be fun. ::excitement could be heard in his voice as he shoulder checked his Andorian accomplice.:: Foster: Huh. ::He looked around, eyes narrowing to collect the details of the dim setting.:: This does look interesting. Shall we see what this program has to throw at us? Hael:Boo'ya. Computer start that there program. :: The computer chirped and the setting came to life in the most animated way. Owl woods and creaking branches filled the air along with a howling breeze that seemed to swirl up the dirt at their heels whipping thru like a snake in the trees. The air smelled sickly sweet like rotten meat with a hint of gingerbread and sugar under laying it all. :: Hael: ::Paused.:: You uh... Wanna lead? Foster: ::He had his antennae craned forward trying to catch every squeak and scratch as they rustled through the grass. With a pause, he turned and offered Rustyy a grin:: Sure. ::looking about:: Ok, let me get this straight. ::looking behind him, where a vehicle sat by the side of the road, stalled and dark. The scent of burned oil still lingered on the breeze:: We’re stranded here with this broken down truck. And our goal is to get the parts we need to fix it and get out of here before bad things eat us. Anything I’m missing? Hael: ::shrugged and smirked.:: Nope that sounds 'bout right. I reckon I do know there be a few ringers, but ain't sure exacts. Just not everyone's gonna try to eat us and not everythin' is bad... Foster: Well, we have a doctor and an engineer - sounds like we’re a shoe in for success. ::he considered this a moment:: I suppose I shouldn’t jinx us, though. Hael: Better knock on wood or somethin' I wanna get outta here withou' [...]in' myself ya'kno'? ::he chuckled.:: Foster: Should have worn the yellow pants ::he winked, but leaned over and knocked on the post with the roadsign that read: Malorvillle - 10k:: Hael: ::he looked off innocently.:: Or brown... ::pause... Snicker.:: ::Wyn smiled merrily, enough to offset the creepy atmosphere that was permeating the holodeck. They had just lived through one ghost ship - yet somehow facing a cheesy, melodramatically overblown version of one was therapeutic:: Foster: Hey, brown works, too! ::grin!:: :: Rustyy shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans, heading off towards the lights of the city. He scuffed his feet as he looked around. It was hard to see beyond the shadows and hard to hear anything over the howl of the wind. Though it could have been there was nothing to hear. :: Foster: ::Antennae twitching as he looked to the darkened horizon:: There it is again. ::pause:: Don't suppose we have a weapon, do we? Hael: ::giving Wyn an astonished look.:: Weapons? I didn' think 'bout that. ::chuckle.:: Guess we gonna have to improvise, eh? Foster: ::He looked around, before crawling into the back of the broken truck:: Well, guess what? We’re in luck, all redneck style. There’s a toolbox back here, a tire iron, a bushwhacking knife, a big ol’ flashlight and ::he picked up a box and it opened it with a creak:: A handgun with what appears to be exactly six bullets. Hael: ::Turning on his heel and scooting back to the broken down car. Peeking over Wyn’s shoulder to seen everything.:: Well’s who gets wha’ eh? Divy it up with rock, paper, scissor? ::he counted in his head.:: Each gets two thingies. Foster: ::he shrugged:: Up to you - I’ll give you first pick. ::he looked around:: I’m guessing this program’s gonna be a bit like a game - we’ll just find stuff we need along the way - if we look carefully enough. ::Then again the other option was to run and scream like idiots, which was equally likely.:: Hael: ::to many choices… He folded his arm across his chest and played with his nails with his teeth.:: Um… Well’s I’s’a take that there revolver. Foster: I’ll take the flashlight. ::he nabbed the most useful instrument he could see:: And the bushwhacker. Hael: ::loading the revolver.:: You think we gonna find bigger toys ‘long the way? ::he spun the cylinder, waited till the sound stopped and [...]ed the hammer all the way back. Only good type of gun, was a readied gun.:: Or just ‘nough to get through? Foster: If this program doesn’t give us a shotgun so we can blast the heads of zombies at forty paces, I will be sorely disappointed. ::He hoisted the small toolbox and offered it over to Rustyy, keeping the tire iron in the truck before he hopped off the back.:: I mean it promised cheesy thrills and scares, right? And this is our way of unwinding, right? It just *has* to have a shotgun… ::Rustyy eyed the doctor, taking a half step back and overly dramatically holding his hands up. He chuckled and bobbed his head, all zombie movies had shotguns. But it was going to be a slight fight over who gets it first.:: Hael: ::playfully.: You ain’ gettin’ no bloodthirsty like on me now, is’ya? ::Wyn looked up, blinking totally innocently:: Foster: Me? No! I’m not bloodthirsty! I’m a doctor! I’m just looking for some… what’s the word? ::A grin:: Oh yeah. Catharsis. ::Rustyy’s face fell like a 10 pound bag of potatoes, just the dumbest look imaginable plastered to the front of his face. Indeed, what’s the word? Take a guess, any guess. If Rustyy’s brain had to come up with an answer, it was going to be “fun”... It wasn’t even close to the meaning, yet similar enough to work.:: Hael: ::smirking.:: oh yea’s me too. ::he shoved the revolver into his waistline.:: Foster: ::A huff as he clicked on the flashlight and started moving towards the town:: After how long in that nebula, with all the patients and the scaredy cats and the life sucking aliens… I *need* catharsis! Hael: Well’s, lets get’s move’on then. ::eagerly.:: I’m’a ready to have’s some fun. ::walking up next to Wyn and resting his elbow on the man’s shoulder while looking around. He really didn’t understand boundaries.:: ::Wyn’s head twitched to the side, antennae catching the movement of a sudden elbow. If it were someone else he might have dodged; though his dodge reflex was highly dependant on both trust level and his personal judgement of how hostile a person was. In this case the trust level was high and Wyn had never seen Rustyy Hael get hostile at anything that didn’t blatantly deserve it. Still, his human upbringing bristled at the sudden movement and subsequent touch. A reaction that was immediately overshadowed by his instinctual Andorian desire for closeness. Boundaries in Human life were clearly defined. Some people had much lower boundaries than others, but Wyn had always found the majority of humans to be rather guarded. Andorians, on the other hand had a unique closeness bred from necessity. Sticking together in a group meant warmth. Warmth meant survival. Therefore Andorians built groups. Married in groups. Lived in groups, created bigger groups to define family and even bigger groups to define clans. There was something so ingrained in him to crave closeness to others that it left him feeling empty in his day to day life. So without realizing it, he leaned even closer towards Rustyy, as the both of them took in the surroundings moving their heads in stereo.:: Foster: ::A small cough, maybe they should, yanno, move…:: I’m ready too. Let’s move out. ::Pause. He wasn’t delaying just to stay in the radius of warmth, nooo…:: So, what now? Hael: ::snapping his freehand.:: I’s’a gots me an idea. ::proudly.:: We gotta make bets. Foster: Bets? ::He turned his head, antennae craning so close they almost brushed the tips of Rustyy’s ears:: What kind of bets? Hael: ::[...]ing his head and smiling devilishly.:: Wha’ ev’r come to mind ferst. Just somethin’ to do as we goes along. ::removing himself from Wyn’s personal bubble and pointing at him while they walked.:: Like, who screams ferst. :: How close those antennae got to Rustyy didn’t go unnoticed. He … Just… wanted… to… touch… That would be wierd though, right? For him to just reach up and touch them. Hell he didn’t even know what they were for, just that they would cool and something he didn’t have. He mentally swatted at his own hands.:: Foster: Oh you’re on. ::Wyn’s competitive streak bubbled up, making his eyes shine:: And who bags the first zombie. Hael: ::patting Wyn on the back excitedly.:: Who ev’r losses the most bets gotta buy first… two rounds! Foster: Deal. ::a nod, he started to head down the road towards Malorville.:: ::Birds squalled viciously against the darkened, cloudy sky. The echo mingled with the rustling of dried leaves to create a spooky backdrop, just enough to send a shiver up one’s spine. They had walked about a half a mile without seeing anything - just taking step after tense and careful step through the scary woods when a light shone on the horizon.:: Foster: ::He paused, antennae twitching:: Do you see that? Hael: ::goldfish brain snapped to attention.:: See wha’? Foster: Looks like a cabin… ::He narrowed his eyes. Yes, definitely a cabin up on a hill.:: Hael: ::his eye lite up and his careful steps turned to childish bouncing.:: Yep it do! Lets go see wha’ be in there! Foster: ::drily:: You know it’s not going to be good… ::And yet they would go towards it. Of course they would go towards it. It was practically in the script - and probably the only way to beat the game.:: ::Rustyy didn’t want to get too far ahead of Wyn, so he bottled up his excitement up tightly, or as tightly as he could… The cabin came more into view, and the path leading up turned into a winding path through a swamp and dead trees. A thistle bush they were coming past shook.:: Hael: You see tha’? Foster: What’s the new that versus the old that? ::He looked around and suddenly his antennae went tense as he heard… something... ::It jumped out into the middle of their path, a “chick-chick” noise and big glowing red eyes looking right at them. Two big teeth, chewing on something red. It hopped closer and closer in a matter of seconds.:: Hael: ::jumping back:: Eeek! Foster: ::He sucked in a quick breath:: Is that a kidney… or a spleen? ::Narrowing his eyes and getting clinical.:: Hael: A wha’?!? ::he looked at Wyn, he wasn’t sure exactly what those things were, only that he had them and didn’t want to lose them to… that.:: Bet! Ferst one to touch it! ::he pointed at it like a scaredy-cat.:: Foster: Are you serious?! ::he turned towards Rustyy looking a bit incredulous:: It’s a monster! ::A hasty cough as he stepped backwards.:: I’m only touching it if I can do it with my machete. Otherwise you do it. ::Rustyy stepped quickly to the monster chewing its content heart out, reaching his hand out as far as he could reach and crouching down. It jerked its head up, making him fall backwards and crab walk back to Wyn.:: Hael: You do it… ::he said in a state between giddiness and fear.:: ::The Andorian gave a short sigh. Rather than have this break down into a complete schoolyard discussion he decided to brandish the bushwhacker and run forward, taking a mighty swing at the crab-walking monster. It made a hideous gasping sound and promptly broke apart in a minor explosion of blood and gore that smelled exactly like the inside of a camping toilet that hadn’t been cleaned in two years.:: Foster: ::his antennae curled downwards:: Eww… that was disgusting. Hael: ::Taking a deep breath and standing up straighter.:: Smells like the insides of’a whale durin’ the middle of summer… Yum! ::he snickered.:: Foster: How you know that… don’t tell me. ::He took in a light breath, trying to avoid the smell as much as possible.:: Well, if it’s a game like the program promised, I’d say that’s our ‘tutorial monster’ ::The giant rat or the kobold of horror games.:: Hael: So that there be the easy one? Id’a hate to see what wicked thing them have done come up with fer the rest…. Not really! Come on! ::he started up towards the cabin again, doing his best to avoid the guts and chunks of fur Wyn had made explode across their path.:: Foster: Careful where you step. ::he intoned, picking his way through the path.:: ::The sound came again on the way to the house and two more furred spleen-eating crab creatures hopped out. Both were equally easily dispatched. Just enough to make the intrepid heroes feel all confident and powerful as they took their first steps upon the creaky staircase that led up to the cabin door.:: Foster: What do you think we’ll find in there? Hael: ::looking at Wyn with a growing smile.:: Talkin’ pictures or ghosts inside suits of armor… ::he grinned.:: Oh! Maybe we get’s our ferst zombie. Vampires? I dunno. I’s’a just be hopin’ it be cool and I can shot it and you. ::he eyed the blade.:: can hack it to pieces. Foster: Sounds cool ::He grinned, confidently stepped forward and tried the door handle.:: ::And the game immediately threw him for a loop, turning the entire welcome mat area into a gigantic slide that was headed straight for the dark and spooky basement. Wyn yelped, his voice fading as he slid downwards following by a nice selection of curse words.:: ::Rustyy watched, frozen and dumbfounded as his comrade disappeared before his very eyes down under the building. He dropped down to his knees, look for a flicker of light from the flashlight. But the consuming darkness left him only blinking. He leaned in as far as he could.:: Hael: Wyn! Can’ya hear me? I’m’a commin” fer ya! Foster: It’s wet down here! ::He yelled back up with disgust in his tone:: ::Rustyy didn’t wait. He didn’t have a rope and knew that they wouldn’t get very far through the game if he went down the darkened slide…. Wyn has ALL the fun! He snickered, clearing the “welcome” matt and barreling through the door. It slammed open letting loose the biggest group of eight legged freaks. They scurried out of the door surrounding Rustyy, crawling up his legs and dropping down on top of his head, sliding through his hair and down his shirt. His skin crawled, literally.… Okay something wet would have been a lot more fun than this. :: Hael: ::swatting madly at himself.:: To hell with this! ::he didn’t do bugs. He turned right back to where he had come from to see it blocked by large, coarse haired, slim dripping pinchers and glass, angry looking, dozen twitch eyes. As manly as manly could he turned and screamed, his hands out on front of him as he ran in the opposite direction.:: I’ll’a get ::cough, choked on a spider.:: I’m’s comin’ fer ya! ::He tripped on the bottom of a staircase, catching himself just short of getting a face full of tiny little black spiders. He scrambled, giggling and about ready to [...] himself. Gosh he hated to run. He moved quickly up the stairs, the squish-squish-crunch sound making him hungry. :: ::Down in the basement Wyn’s antennae twitched, picking up the sounds from the top of the cabin.:: Foster: Who’s coming for you, Rustyy? ::He picked himself up from the big puddle of cold water he had fallen into and started to let his eyes adjust to the near-darkness. It had been a while since he put his hypersensitive senses to the test; but within a few seconds his eyesight adjusted, able to pick out details of the cobweb covered basement.:: Oh Gods… what is this? An abattoir? ::Easing gingerly around the big central wells in the floor, he stopped short, eyes fixating on the central structure - a pedestal topped with a shiny oaken coffin. He swallowed a swear:: What’s that we said about Vampires… ? ::Clamping his mouth he edged up towards the rickety stairs that led up towards the kitchen, rushing up them in a few bounds, before checking the wooden door at the top. Rattle. Rattle, click. Locked:: Foster: Rustyy? ::A hoarse whisper:: Rustyy? ::On the second floor, it apparently wasn’t made for someone to walk on. Massive holes in the floor and creaking floorboards that snapped and crackled under the pounding footfalls. He mis-stepped, on a turn. There was no floor, only ceiling. Rustyy caught himself before he landed on the main level, on one of the cross beams, his fingers straining to not let him fall. He wasn't sure of the drop.:: Hael: Son of’a mother lickin’ uncle! ::he threw words together in slight frustration.:: ::Wyn’s head whipped around as Rustyy’s feet suddenly appeared a few meters away, sticking out of the ceiling:: Foster: I didn’t say come through the floor! ::He rushed over towards where the feet were aimed at:: Uhm, Rustyy… how good are you at jumping? Hael: ::relieved sigh.:: Uh...Not too’s bad, eh. Why’s you askin’? ::He grunted, keeping as best grip as he could.:: Am’I gonna die if’n I’s’a fall staigh’ down? Foster: Well, no… you’ll just land on a coffin… Maybe a Vampire? I’m sure it’ll be fine! Hael: ::his face lost some color. He just had to go and open his mouth from the get go! :: Well’s… If’n I be wakin’ ‘im up… We gotta way out? Foster: Not really… the door up to the kitchen is lost, unless you wanna try climbing the slide. ::he knit his brows, standing nearby:: ::Well they weren’t going to have much of a choice. Rustyy lost his grip and fell on the foot of the coffin, sending the occupant up, over and out of the thick wooden coffin and into his lap. Dust coated him and he coughed. The body rolled off and up, hissing at them. Rustyy pulled the revolver from his waistband on instinct and shot once. Twice.. Three times.:: Hael: ::cheeky to Wyn.:: Can’ kill no Vamp with silver bullets. ::chuckle.:: Darn it. Foster: I thought that was werewolves. Isn’t Vampires a steak to the heart? Hael: ::shrugged.:: Truth be told… I dunno. Ain’ never been to good with - ::The very angry Vampire like man, who Rustyy had so rudely woken up from his beauty sleep -lord knows he needed it- lunged at them. His long fangs barred.:: Vampire: I vill keel you both! ::he screeched around his teeth.:: Hael: ::slightly urgently.:: Not to rush… But try the stake! ::Wyn pushed Rustyy backwards. Honor? Nobility? The steadfast belief that blue blood wasn’t good for snacking? Whichever it was he went for the defensive posture:: Foster: I don’t have a stake! I have a machete and a first aid kit! See if you can find something wooden around here! ::Oh yeah… Rustyy looked around, his engineering eyes doing more than necessary. There, under the kitchen table was something that looked exactly like a stake. He scooted across the floor and grabbed it, jumping up and holding it out to Wyn.:: Hael: Here ya be!::he smiled proudly.:: Foster: ::He held his hand out and suddenly a nice sharp round hunk of wood appeared. There was a bad joke in there somewhere.:: Wow… convenient. ::Turning to face the hissing monstrosity.:: Come here bloodsucker… Vampire: Bloodsucker? You little worm! ::Wyn struck forward, thinking this would be as easy as exploding furry crab monsters. Wrong. The Vampire struck him hard against the shoulder, tossing him into Rustyy and sending them both tumbling backwards into the muddy wet pit at the back of the basement:: Hael: ::landing hard on his butt, water soaking in. It was a nasty squishy I-need-to-wipe moment.:: Wyn! You be okay? Foster: ::Coughing and spluttering. Somehow he had managed to keep hold of the stake.:: Yeah, in one piece. ::Thought he was slow to get to his feet. The safeties were on; but that didn’t stop a program from ringing one’s bell from time to time.:: Hael: ::standing up and pulling Wyn with him.:: Tag team it? You go left, I’s’a go right… I’ll’a be yer distraction. ::he crouched down ready to spring.:: Go! Foster: Now? ::he blinked in surprise, realizing that Rustyy had already gone and he launched himself forward to catch up. Heading left.:: ::The vampire went for the first thing that moved - which was Hael. Dashing forward with an unearthly grace, it reached out to grab the engineer by the shoulders, pulling downwards to expose the tender neck area.:: Hael: ::A sharp pain erupted from collar bone.He felt his neck suddenly exposed and swung his hand out:: Waaa! ::through gritted teeth and a smile.:: Soooo’ry man, ain’ into the bitin’ thing. Too kinky fer me. ::He did his utmost best to keep the Vampire’s attention on him until the moment Wyn was in position to take the monster out. He looked over the tall Vampire’s shoulder and smirked.:: When ev’r you be ready there, Wyn-wyn. Foster: Rustyy! ::It even surprised Wyn how loudly he could yell when prompted. It also surprised him how quickly he was to immerse himself in the program. The instant a friend was in danger his adrenaline spiked and he was jumping to the rescue:: You back off you undead fiend! ::The vampire turned, dropping Rustyy like a sack of potatoes before focusing on the little Andorian. Wyn gritted his teeth, and before he really realized just what he was doing he found himself lurching forward to not lose the element of surprise.:: Foster: Take that for biting my friend! ::The wooden stake buried itself into the vampire’s chest, guided by an expert knowledge of biology:: Hael: ::the sudden notion that he should never anger the CMO came in a flash as he watched the Vampire turn to ash in a dusty puff of smoke. He picked himself off the floor, patting his butt off.:: Nice aim there ol’ boy! Foster: ::trying his very best not to look as panicked as he felt. He sounded amusingly nonchalant:: Thanks. You ok? ::antenna craned forward, trying to remember if getting bitten by a vampire meant you turned into one… Or no, that was a werewolf. You had to be dead to become a vampire…:: Hael: Now we just gotta find a way outta ‘ere. ~*~ tbc ~*~ A JP by: Lieutenant Rustyy Hael Chief Engineer USS Constitution A239202RH0 ~and~ Lt Commander Shar’Wyn Foster Chief Medical Officer USS Constitution-B
  12. (( Starbase 11 - Ferengi Crab Shack )) Sinda: Too many let-downs in the past. McLaren: Hmmm? Sinda: Sorry, the reason I don't make plans. Too many things go wrong, too many disappointments. But if you don't plan... ::she shrugged again.:: McLaren: :: Sol nodded. :: They cant go wrong if they dont exist... but what about on missions? Sinda: Out there in space, on a mission it's different. That's the job, it's what I do. But it's not who I am. McLaren: It isnt? But when who are you? Sinda: That's the question, isn't it? ::she leaned back in her chair and looked at the white-haired Terran:: Outside of Starfleet I haven't got a clue who I am. I mean, when you look at me, what do you see? McLaren: :: Sol sipped her drink again :: Superficially, I see a pretty half-Bajoran, half-Cardassian woman. Though given the gravity of the question... I'm going to assume you didnt mean it like that. Sinda: I didn't mean it as a heavy question, but yeah, aside from the physical stuff. ::she gave a wry smile:: Although bonus points for calling me 'pretty'. McLaren: I didnt think so... :: she paused again, considering Sinda. :: I see a person who's driven. Whether that be by duty, or something more, I dont know. If were were to ask me to guess, I'd say something more, but that would only be a guess. I see a person who keeps herself closely guarded... :: Sol paused and Essen sighed. All this time she thought she'd managed to change her attitude. :: Sinda: Is it that obvious? McLaren: You say you dont like to make plans because they can go wrong, and end in disappointment. But I dont think thats the whole story... Sinda: No? So what do you think? McLaren: I'd say that its because they end in pain. Maybe not physical pain, but pain. :: Ess stared at Sol for a moment in astonishment as the other woman calmly sipped her drink. Finally, Ess shook her head and chuckled. :: Sinda: Now I see why you're Chief of Intelligence. You got all that from, what, one mission and a game of darts? I don't think anyone has summed me up so accurately before. You ever consider counselling? McLaren: :: She chuckled. :: Oh that has nothing to do with being Chief of Intelligence… and everything to do with working in a pub for a couple years. :: she paused :: No, I dont think I’d do very well as a counselor… I’m rubbish at giving advice. Sinda: Probably for the best. But apparently I'm not all that guarded after all if you can see through me that easily. Guess I'll have to try harder in future. McLaren: :: She grinned :: People just have to know where to look is all. Sinda: Seeing as you know all about me, how about you? Let's see... :: Essen folded her arms and studied the Terran opposite her. :: Sinda: You're ambitious, you want to do well in Starfleet. But you're hesitant, especially around the senior officers, maybe not sure of your place just yet. I reckon that will change now you're a department head, too. You're always observing, that much is obvious! As for making plans? I've no idea, maybe you've not been on the Conny long enough yet to have had the chance? McLaren: :: Sol nodded. :: Not bad… not bad at all. :: She shrugged. :: I probably am a bit hesitant… Im still pretty new… to all this :: she gestured around :: Sinda: What? Sitting in Ferengi restaurants on alien planets with pretty hybrids? ::she shrugged and smiled:: You’ll get used to it. McLaren: As for plans… I dunno. Sometimes I make them… sometimes things just happen… Sinda: Can’t argue with that. Things that ‘just happen’ are sometimes the best ones. :: Their conversation was interrupted as the waitress returned with their meals, placing the hot food in front of them. Ess leaned forward and breathed in the aroma. :: Sinda: I have to admit it smells, and looks, a lot better than I was expecting. I was worried I was going to just end up with a big slug crawling round my plate. But this actually looks like a seriously good steak. :: Sol poked hers with her fork, almost as if she was testing it. She had to admit, it didnt smell horrible, but smell was only half the battle. :: McLaren: I mean… I doesnt look nearly as bad as I was expecting… :: she sawed a piece off with the fork and popped it into her mouth. Her face was a mixture of interest and disgust all rolled into one. :: Sinda: Any good? McLaren: Well… its not the worst thing Ive had… yours? :: Ess sliced off a chunk and chewed it, nodding slowly. :: Sinda: It looks like steak, it smells like steak, it even cuts like steak. Shame it tastes like slug. McLaren: That is unfortunate… :: she took another piece of her tubeworm. :: Well… we can say we’ve had Ferengi food. :: she took a drink :: Not that thats saying much… :: Ess poked the food around her plate for a bit. :: Sinda: Not quite as successful as I’d hoped. McLaren: :: she laughed. :: It could have been worse... Sinda: Still, here’s to new experiences. :: She held her iced water glass aloft over the table and clinked it against Sol’s own.:: McLaren: :: Sol nodded. :: New experiences. Sinda: So, what now, Sol? We have an entire planet at our disposal, granted most of it’s empty. And a spaceship in orbit. And we have no plans. ::she quirked an eyebrow:: Anything could happen. McLaren: Anything? :: she grinned. :: Sinda: You're the first person I've opened up to in a long, long time. Tell me I'm wrong, but there's more going on isn't there? McLaren: You are pretty observant yourself… :: she nodded. :: Yes, there is. Sinda: Just so long as you know I'd fly a million light years away from anything serious. I don't do commitments. ::she gave a faint smile:: Far too much like planning. McLaren: :: she smiled. :: Of course. Like I said… sometimes things just happen. Tbc! Lieutenant (JG) Solaris McLaren Chief Intelligence Officer U.S.S. Constitution NCC-9012-B C239210SM0 & Lieutenant-Commander Sinda Essen Chief Security Officer USS Constitution-B R238401JT0
  13. “Memory Turn your face to the moonlight Let your memory lead you Open up, enter in” – Memory, Cats. ((USS Invicta, Classroom, Deck P/S7)) ::Nothing. Emptiness. The kind of emptiness that might have been the prelude to creation, or conception; the first instance of being.:: ::It was dark. It shouldn’t be dark, but he didn’t know how he knew that, or why. He. Yes, he. But again, the uncertainty as to the origin of that certainty. He felt before him with… hands. Two of them. His. Legs and feet. Also his. And a surface. Carpet. He could not have said how he knew any of these things.:: ::Around him there were voices, wordless high-pitched cries of confusion. And another voice, deeper, older, responding. Adult.:: Gupta: Where are we? ::He didn’t know. From the sound of things no one new. The older voice asked more questions, got no sensible answers. He didn’t know who she was, who any of the voices were, but he knew that was not right. A growing sense of unease filled him, a sense akin to déjà vu, a memory just out of reach, slipping away as he grasped it.:: Saavok: oO Who are they? Oo ::He felt certain that he should know.:: oO Who am I? Oo ::The feeling of unease grew stronger. He should know that.:: oO Who am I? Am I?...Oo ::In a moment of existential uncertainty, he clung to what he knew. He existed.:: oO I am. Oo ::He held fast to that thought, repeating it over to himself. Whatever else might be uncertain, he existed.:: oO I am. I am. Oo ::Like a train finding tracks beneath the snow, his mind found grooves of thought worn deep by repetition, catching on them despite the smothering blanket of forgetfulness that bid him be still, relax, forget.:: Saavok: oO No! I am. I am. I am. Oo ::And despite the resistance of his mind as it fought the forgetfulness every step of the way, the train of thought began to move along the familiar tracks.:: oO I AM. … I am… Saavok! Oo ::It was his name, he knew that, and with it came the memory of a face seen in the mirror. With it came knowledge, numbers. He was four Vulcan cycles old. Vulcan. That was his species. Defined by their mental discipline; a discipline he’d been taught almost since birth. He could feel the forgetfulness snatching at his thoughts, but he refused to be distracted. His mother had taught him as a baby, and she was amongst the most disciplined; a Temple Priestess. She had given him the strict control of thoughts, whilst his father had shown him curiosity and how to think outside the strictures when necessary. His father was here somewhere.:: ::Around him the class came under Mrs Gupta’s control. Mrs Gupta; that’s who the adult voice was.:: Gupta: Come now, children, let’s be calm and think. Now, does each of you have someone beside you? Children: Yes. Gupta: That’s good. Now, everyone should have a buddy. Can everyone reach out and take a hand? We’re all friends here, so let’s hold on to each other and keep each other safe. ::Saavok felt a little hand worm it’s way into his. With it came the touch of another mind, coloured with confusion and forgetfulness but still faintly recognisable. He’d touched this mind before.:: Saavok: ~T’Sara.~ :: She blinked in surprise as the word slipped into her mind, and there was a nagging feeling that it should mean something to her - something *important*.:: T’Sara: ~ Huh? ~ Saavok: ~That’s your name. I know you.~ ::He showed her a mental image of a little girl with pointed ears, upswept brows and a delicate smattering of spots down the sides of her face, like freckles.:: T’Sara: ~ Okaaay... ~ Saavok: ~You’re… Captain Vetri and Commander T’Lea’s daughter.~ ::The the names came slowly from his sluggish memory, but he concentrated and there they were, and with them came faces that he showed to T’Sara.:: T’Sara: ~ Why did I not remembers dem? Or anyfing else? ~ Saavok: ~I don’t know why we’re forgetting, but you can stop it happening. You have to concentrate, like this.~ ::He showed her the outline of a basic meditation.:: ~Start with remembering your name, and things about you. Don’t forget.~ ::Could she remember? Could he stop himself forgetting?:: T’Sara: ~ Saavok. Das you. ~ ::Around them the class settled for Mrs Gupta’s story; a light of hope in a very dark place.:: TAG Saavok Vulcan Child USS Invicta (As simmed by Doctor Saveron) R238802S10
  14. (( Starbase 11 )) :: They returned to their table and Jerry popped one of the Rejya into his mouth. Jalana watched him for a moment with a smirk on her lips, before she grabbed one herself and placed it on her tongue. The warmth began to melt the outer layer, a sweetness began to slowly fill her mouth, it had a slightly bitter component harmonising perfectly. Once the smooth layer was gone a saltiness joined in a perfect balance to the sweetness until a hard core was left. Biting down it broke apart and the spicy interior gave it the extra zing. The taste that was put together with all ingredients now mingling was like a song on her tastebuds and she smiled, her eyes closed as she enjoyed the taste of her childhood.::Milsap: Say, these are pretty good. Now, what did you say they were?Rajel: The center is pepper spiced heart of a Prenar - a bird that lives in the tropical parts of Trill. The sweet part is chocolate with extract of a, Une - a flower that is comparable to a Terran forget-me-not which gives it that bitter nuance. And the salty part are Guno eggs. Milsap: A bird heart, flowery chocolate and Guno eggs. ::shrugging:: Still beats the heck out of Rocky Mountain oysters. What’s a Guno, anyway?Rajel: A fish. ::Smiling:: I have no idea who got the idea to put all of these together, but it’s a heavenly taste. Milsap: Can’t argue with that. On Earth some fish eggs are considered really good, and salty and sweet is always a good combination. Now a spiced heart? That’s a new one on me.:: She took a piece of a blue … meat? She was not all too sure what it really was, but her curiosity got the better of her and it smelled not too bad, so she took a good bite of it. Just a moment later she coughed and grabbed a napkin, turning to the side to hide that she was spitting it out. :: Rajel: This was… ::she grabbed her glass and gulped down half of the water content.:: … anything but. ::She coughed and laughed at the same time.:: Milsap: ::laughing:: Glad I skipped that one. ::He speared one of the green cubes with his fork and took a bite, chewing thoughtfully.:: Now this is interesting. It’s like square asparagus, but somehow...minty. Not sure I wanna know how they did that.:: He put his fork down and took a sip of his tart teakle juice.:: Milsap: So, how’s the new rank treating ya so far? Rajel: Oh wonderful, I was even visited by the Grim Reaper, though his congratulations have been rather cold. ::grinning:: Milsap: ::chuckling:: Yeah, you sure had some good timing, getting promoted just before we found the ghost ship. ::He suppressed a shudder as he remembered the events on Unity. :: Rajel: Quite, but that is life. We don’t always have a choice of timing… ::She thought about what he had gone through and how worried she had gotten. She had left the bridge and run to Sick Bay to see if he was alright and had found out that Foster used a Tribble to get the entity leave Jerry’s body. :: … or who has which part in it. Milsap: ::nodding sadly:: Yeah, I do regret Petey havin’ to give up his life for me. If there’s any consolation there, it’s that he didn’t have to live long with that thing in his head.Rajel: I’m sure Petey would be happy to know it was for such a good cause. He saved your life. :: Jerry fell into contemplation as he continued to eat. It was still sinking in just how close he had come to death. It made him realize that waking up every morning couldn’t be taken for granted, and when you had something to do or say, putting it off meant taking the risk that you’d never get the chance. He looked up at Jalana. Ever since their dance at the holiday party he’d felt there might be something between them, but he wasn’t sure exactly what. He’d been trying to work up the courage to broach the subject with her and discuss it, but the time never seemed to be right. His recent brush with disaster made him realize there was no time like the present. He put down his fork and took a deep breath. ::Milsap: Jalana, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you. I….Ezirah: =/\= Constitution to Rajel =/\= Milsap: oO Great timing you got there, ship. OoRajel: ::Placing her fork down she gave Jerry an apologetic look.:: Sorry. ::She then tapped her badge.:: =/\= Rajel here. =/\= Ezirah: =/\= Apologies for the disturbance, Captain. We received a high priority call from Trill for you. =/\= Rajel: ::furrowing her brows:: =/\= What is it about? =/\= Ezirah: =/\= I can’t say, Ma’am, it’s personally for you. =/\= :: That changed Jerry’s annoyance to concern. A high priority call was almost never good news. ::::She gave Jerry a look, even thought it was not really meant for him, but she couldn’t look at herself right now. Something wrong wrong and she wondered what. She looked up and gestured to one of the waiters. :: Rajel: Excuse me, do you have a comm station in your restaurant that I could use? Waiter: Of course. Right over there. :: She looked to the terminal and nodded with a quick thanks. :: Rajel: =/\= Relay it to the Comm station near my signal. I’ll take it here. =/\= :: While she said that she stood up from her chair, nervous. Something in her stomach had turned. There weren’t many people who would call her from Trill, which made it only worse. :: Excuse me for a moment, please. Milsap: Sure, take your time. I’ll be here when you get back.:: Jerry waited a few seconds before deciding to follow Jalana. He had no intention of eavesdropping, and he wasn’t entirely sure what he’d do if there really was an emergency, but something told him he just needed to be there. :::: Jalana walked over to the Terminal and gave Ezirah the ID just in case and just a moment later she looked at her mother’s face. Immediately her stomach plummeted down into the core of the planet. Her mother’s eyes were red as if she had been crying, shadows under her eyes were a clear sign of not having slept in a while. :: Rajel: Mom, what’s wrong. Laxyn: Your father… ::Her voice broke off and Jalana could see how hard it was for her to hold it together. :: Rajel: What is it mom? Laxyn: He had a severe heart attack. :: Immediately she felt faint and thought her knees would give in. Quickly she grabbed the sides of the terminal. Thousand questions came to her mind, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments. What to do first, for how long, what to never do.. Forgotten all the years in which they hadn’t spoken. What if… :: Rajel: How is he? Laxyn: Still at the hospital. They sent me home to rest. But… Rajel: I know. ::She didn’t have to think twice. They were at shore leave. She was not needed here.:: Prepare an extra room for him. I’ll be there soon. Laxyn: Sweetie, you are busy. Rajel: I’ll be there soon. ::She repeated. Her mother looked at her for a longer moment and then sighed with a nod. Jalana nodded as well and closed the connection.:: Milsap: ::He was pretty sure he already knew the answer, but asked anyway.:: Everything all right?:: She had not heard him coming and jumped slightly. Her fingers were shaking and she formed fists with them in an attempt to hide it. :: Rajel: I … I have to go. Milsap: Back to Conny? I’ll come with you.Rajel: No… to Trill. My father.. :: She raised her hand to cover her mouth as she felt the tears coming. She knew that medicine was far enough to help him, it had come so far. But if it really had been severe he could still.. No he mustn’t. :: Milsap: What happened?Rajel: Heart attack. I have to … I have to go and… ::She began to shake all over.: :: Jerry’s face fell. He knew the call would be bad news, but not that bad. ::Milsap: Is he…?Rajel: What? No… no he is not, but they don’t know yet… :: Before he even realized what he was doing, Jerry stepped up to Jalana and gently grabbed her shoulders. :: Milsap: Is there anything I can do? :: As he grabbed her, Jalana’s head temporarily stopped spinning, the thoughts backed off into the background and there was almost calmness and silence in her mind. She looked at him, into his eyes and it took her a moment to realize what he had said. :: Rajel: I… don’t think so. I just have to leave right away, he needs me. Milsap: Are you sure you want to go alone? Will you be ok?Rajel: ::Confused:: I’m not the one who is sick, Jerry. Milsap: ::in a calming voice:: I know, but news like this has a way of throwing us off our game. You’re bound to have a lot on your mind right now.Rajel: I… There are hundreds of thoughts in my head, things I have to think of, to do so I can leave. Milsap: Talking it through might help you sort things out. Tell me what you need to do.Rajel: T’Mar, I need to tell her. I need to pack. :: Okay maybe not hundreds of things to do. But two that were very important. Three. :: I need to find a ship with Slipstream that docks here.. I can’t fly for days until I get home. :: Finding a ship with a slipstream drive? That at least was something Jerry could do. ::Milsap: ::grinning:: Well I can help with that last one. Let me worry about finding a ship while you take care of your other business.:: She looked at him in surprise to even offer that. Why did he do that for her?::Rajel: That would be a big help. .oO What now? Oo. Milsap: Might be a good idea to head back to Conny after all. She’s got everything we’ll need to get you ready and on your way.:: She nodded, yes, that was a good idea. Down here they couldn’t do anything. She raised a shaky hand to her communicator. :: Rajel: =/\= Rajel to … uh.. Constitution. Two to beam up, into my quarters. =/\= :: There was no question, no inquiry, no hesitation. The next moment Jerry and Jalana were engulfed into the blue light and were transported from the restaurant’s comm station, to her spacious quarters. :: -------JP byLieutenant JG Jerome MilsapAssistant Chief Medical OfficerUSS Constitution-BC239208JM01& Captain Jalana RajelCommanding OfficerUSS Constitution BImage Team FacilitatorA238906JL0
  15. (( Captain's Ready Room, Deck 1, USS Doyle-A )) :: After she got off the call with Alex's parents she stood and stretched, and then she paced, trying to figure out what to say to her own. Somehow "Surprise" didn't cut it, and she didn't have time, or the authorization to give them the full story. It would be stupid of her to think they wouldn't recognize her, she was their daughter, biologically, even if she wasn't from this timeline. :: :: It was about thirty minutes, a broken vase and a fit of hyperventilation later that she sat down at her desk, fixed her hair and decided to just do it. Regardless of how she was going to do it, it wasn't going to get any easier for her. :: :: She opened the comm channel to her parent's house in Antosia, and waited for what seemed like forever. At one point, she almost hung up, her hand moving to push the button to close the call. But that was when a familiar face came on screen. :: Faranfey: Yogar! :: The man on the screen looked at her for a moment, as if he got caught in the middle of trying to say something but changed his mind. He looked closer at the screen. :: Y Faranster: I just talked to you a month ago, you sure got aged quickly. Are you on a special assignment? I heard sometimes they do that when you are on assignment, change your appearance... Faranfey: Yogar, is mom or dad around? :: It was easier to refer to them as such, as that was what they were, and he wouldn't understand him calling them Mindysta and Teem. :: Y Faranster: Mom is, dad is on a business trip, :: there was a pause :: if it's important enough, he wouldn't mind being patched in for you. :: As she had been a daddy's little girl as a child, she knew this was true, but would he understand why? He might hang up. He needed prepping, prepping she couldn't do and he wasn't home to hear it with her mom and brother, so he might think it was a joke. :: Faranfey: It's important, but you might have to prepare him for it. Can you get mom? :: She watched as he paused again, staring at the screen skeptically, wondering what he would need to prep his father for. Unlike her older brother, she knew he wouldn't take the blame for anything of her doing, so he might decide to patch him in any way. :: Faranfey: Please. Listen, I am not pregnant, and I am not suddenly married. I have all my limbs, my health is good. So, just get mom already. :: He disappeared from the screen and she took a few deep breaths, this was the moment. She was finally reuniting with her parents. Or at least one of them, for now. A moment later her brother returned with her mother. :: M. Faranster: Alright, so what's going on. :: Waving a hand around her face as she spoke the next words. :: And what's up with the new look? Faranfey: Mom... I don't know how to tell you this. You just don't open with it usually. I suppose I could show you. :: She wondered if patching Sun in would work. :: But I am on the USS Doyle-A, Sundassa is on the USS Constitution-B. I am a Captain, she is still only a Commander. I run this ship, she's still in sickbay. M. Faranster: Is this for your assignment, Yo told me you were on assignment. Faranfey: Mom, there's two of us... I am biologically your daughter, I am biologically Sundassa, but I am not Sun. I crossed a barrier and got stuck here. :: That was simplifying things a great deal, hopefully helping her mom understand. :: I am 54, she is 31. :: Selene was trying to spell it out, Yogar's face showed comprehension and shock, but her mother seemed oblivious as normal. :: M. Faranster: Nonsense sweetie, I know when I gave birth to you. :: Her brother turned their mom to face him, this was big news and it was going to be hard to make her mom understand. :: Y. Faranster: Mom, she's from a different dimension or something. She's not our Sundassa. M. Faranster: There's two? Two Sundassas? Yo, are you sure? But, I only gave birth to one. Faranfey: That's the point. I am not Sundassa. I go by Selene, We are different... but Shel told me I should tell you, that I need family, even though not from here. :: Selene waved around her. She hoped her brother was right, that her mother would find a way to accept her, even though she wasn't from this time. :: M. Faranster: Shel? Shel knew about this? :: She looked at the screen again, her face registering that her son had kept secrets. :: When will that boy learn not to keep things from me. Faranfey: It wasn't his to tell you... He kept telling me to tell you, but I had a hard time adjusting, and I am just starting to. Mom... I need you in my life, is there room for both Sundassa and I? Y. Faranster: More siblings messing up means less time from mom and dad watching my mistakes. I'm for it, mom. :: Yogar's comment made Selene smile a little, at least her brother was interested in her being involved. It was self-serving, but he was the one stuck there with their parents, so she could give it to him. Her mother however smacked him outside the back of the head for the comment. :: M. Faranster: Don't think we won't notice when you step out of line, Yo. Even if there are two Suns running around making life interesting for everyone who meets them. :: She then reached up and hugged her son, kissing his cheek. :: There's always time for my children. :: Her eyes went back to the screen as she looked thoughtful for a few minutes while both Selene and Yogar waited quietly. :: Sweetie, this is a lot for me to take in... I don't know what I would do, knowing Sunny was in the same situation and trying to reach out to someone for the caring love that a parent gives, only to be rejected. :: Her eyes welled up, thinking about it. :: Oh, the thought just breaks my heart. I can't let you be by yourself. Faranfey: Thank you. :: Having gotten this far. :: Mom, would your heart be able to extend be there for two others who are in need too? Y. Faranster: You said you weren't pregnant. Faranfey: Yo, I am not, and they aren't my kids... :: Addressing her mom. :: Mom, I found someone, I want to spend my life with. His parents are horrible, they don't care about him or his sister. They disowned him for joining Starfleet, just because he didn't do what they wanted. :: She knew she was touching tender territory. Her mom didn't disown her for joining Starfleet and not marrying Marseen, but it was known for a long time she wasn't happy with it. Fortunately she seems to have taken Sun's broken engagement to Jaxx a bit better, as there was no mention of that. :: M. Faranster: Oh that's great! I was just about giving up on being able to see my daughter get married! Has he asked you yet? Faranfey: He has, and I accepted, but then all sorts of chaos ensued, and I asked him if we could do it again later. M. Faranster: Sweetie, you can't go breaking a boy's heart like that, saying yes, and then rescheduling the proposal. How do you plan on fixing it? :: The responsibility fell on her, her brother told her so, and now their mother. Which meant Shel was right. A fact that he would likely gloat on, if she told him. :: Faranfey: I don't know how to be romantic, but mom, I was hoping that you and Yo could talk to Daddy, and make sure he knows about me... and I could call tonight. And make it official in front of my family? M. Faranster: Awww, that's so sweet, including us in the proposal. Sweetie, go get something nice to wear. Those uniforms are nice and all... :: She knew her mother's opinion of the uniforms on the men, vs women. :: But, get something that is appealing to your guy's eye. Make yourself smell nice. Get candles, and flowers, lots of them. Yo will talk to father, and we'll make sure we are available. :: She knew her mother was trying to help, having slipped fully into mother mode, which was a relief. Selene wasn't sure what she had been worried about at that moment. :: Faranfey: Thank you mom. I'll call again tonight. :: She paused, the words not coming without tears, as if she was saying it across time, as well. :: I love you and miss you. M. Faranster: We love you too, talk to you then. :: Her hand went to the screen, closing the call before she erupted into full tears. This was the second time in a day that she was thinking about the loss of Antosia that she hadn't a chance to mourn in her world. By the time she had heard about it, she had been too numbed by the pain of other losses. Now the tears came, both in mourning of the lost world, and the relief that it was still there, with her parents. Parents that were willing to accept her. :: Captain Selene Faranfey Commanding Officer USS Doyle-A, NCC-80221-A Writer ID: A239001SF0
  16. (( Captain's Ready Room, Deck 1, USS Doyle-A )) :: Selene had planned on contacting these people after she had some time to process the way she wanted to introduce herself and what she wanted to say. This introduction changed only slightly with her brother's instructions to propose to Alex in front of her parents. Apparently he thought he was being helpful with that suggestion. At this point, she needed to talk to her parents before he did, and told them that she had become feral or some other made up line to get him sympathy. :: :: When she thought about sympathy, her mind went back to Alex and his sister, and her mind got back to the work of protecting them. Short story, Alex had contacted his parents, and she got to be witness to one of the most cold, heartless people she had ever encountered, talking to her children. When he went to take his sister to her quarters, she got on the horn with a contact that she had on Earth, one she knew was about to be discharged, and wouldn't mind doing this for her. Since she had so much to do before the ball, she couldn't put the conversation on her calendar any sooner than the next day, which actually seemed to be good. :: :: She received a message from the officer that they were just waiting for the father to get home. He had informed the mother that they were going to receive a very important call, and that it was best to have both of them present. This was per her orders, as she needed both of them there when she spoke to them. :: :: Finally the commline activated, and she opened her end, so her face and uniform shown through. :: Faranfey: Lieutenant Bailey, are they both there? Bailey: Yes, sir. :: That moment, the uniformed Lieutenant stepped to the side, and let the faces of Alex's parents show on the screen. :: Faranfey: My name is Captain Selene Faranfey... :: She paused for effect. :: This would be easier to do in person, but unfortunately because I am in the Avalon sector, I am unable to be. :: The expression on her face was solemn. :: Sean Bishop: What is this about? Faranfey: I am the captain of the Doyle, and your son's commanding officer. :: A bit of twisted honesty poured out next. :: I really hate these kinds of calls. :: She paused again. :: Unfortunately, something happened... :: She hesitated, again for effect, not letting her anger shine through as she spoke. Something did happen, the call between Alex, his sister and his mom, with her as a witness to the way the woman treated them. And now she was on the other end of the call, reacting to Selene's words. :: Gwen Bishop: In two days? :: She turned to her husband. :: If he just joined the family practice... Sean Bishop: We told him not to join Starfleet, this is not on us. Faranfey: That's normally how I start next of kin notifications. The regrettable news, is that your children seem to have no next of kin. :: The anger started showing in her eyes as she continued speaking to, no at, these two unfit parents. She couldn't understand what would cause a parent to not love their child, but these people had cut both Alex, and now Kaitlyn out, and she wasn't standing by and letting it happen without them getting some words from her. The Lieutenant on the other end was instructed to make sure the call did not terminate before she was ready, which left them forced to endure whatever she had to say. :: Gwen Bishop: What did she just say? Sean Bishop: Excuse me, Miss… Captain or whatever you called yourself, we’re his parents, so that would make us his next of kin. Faranfey: :: She leaned in to the call, waiting for them to finish. :: I was present during your call the other day, and I as you seem uninterested in being part of their lives while they are alive, I thought you might benefit from being removed from their next of kin notification. Sean Bishop: I didn’t speak to him recently… Did you? Gwen Bishop: Wait, why would you remove us from next of kin when you are notifying us… unless... Faranfey: Yes, they are very much alive, just feeling completely abandoned by their parents. Which is really a burden no child should have to endure. Anything can happen out here, that's the way it is, on top of the normal and natural things that can pretty much happy anywhere, we have all sort of exotic dangers, and I find it really hard to believe that you would not want the time you have. There are people out there who have lost parents or children without having a chance to say goodbye or make peace with them. You are the people who brought them into the world, and they look up to you. And when Alex joined Starfleet, you decided that he wasn't good enough to be part of your lives anymore. I can see you starting to do the same thing to Kaitlyn, for just missing him. He's her brother and you are pushing her away because she is the only one in your family that has a heart. Nope. I am not standing for it. :: Her anger had gotten full through to her words and tone. This call was never about a professional courtesy, it was about standing up for Alex and his nearly broken sister, in a way that she felt herself qualified to. Not to mention the way they treated their kids, shutting them out, made her miss her parents. Parents who in her time, she didn't get the opportunity to say goodbye to. The whole world of Antosia was invaded by the Hunger, and she lost both of them before she even knew they were in danger. :: Sean Bishop: Wait a second, woman, he was supposed to join my practice. We supported and encouraged him through medical school so that we could work together as a family. Then he goes on about needing his own path for himself, that we are too controlling. Gwen Bishop: Just because you overheard one conversation between my children and I, you presume to know our relationship. How dare you. Who are you to judge us? Faranfey: That's a good question, who exactly am I to call you out on this. I love your son, and he has asked me to marry him, and I am going to.. That's who I am. The daughter-in-law who is certain she doesn't want anything to do with parents that don't want to be part of their children's lives. Gwen Bishop: I can’t imagine what our son sees in you… :: To her husband. :: He joined Starfleet and this is what happens. How do you turn this thing off. Bailey: Sorry, Mrs Bishop, but I cannot permit that. Sean Bishop: What do you mean you can’t, this is our home and we are done talking to this woman. :: Selene could see she was getting under their skin, much in the way Alex’s mother’s words got under Kaitlyn’s skin the other day. :: Faranfey: You can't choose who provides your genetic material, you can choose who you will be. Your children hurt from your abandonment parenting style, you had Kaitlyn crying at your harsh words, Mrs Bishop, but they will heal. My crew are like a family, and treat both of you children with the respect that comes with that. We protect and care for one another, and when one is attacked, we stand up for them. I am only hoping that with Kaitlyn being here, that we can work on the self centered and selfish attitude that your behavior has caused her to develop. Gwen Bishop: So we’re responsible for her attitude as well? She liked to us about where she went, and it’s our fault. They want to be their own people, they can take responsibility for their own actions. Sean Bishop: You’re upsetting my wife, I am not sure why my son is choosing to marry such a cold woman, but I hope you are happy together. Faranfey: I am not cold, I am protective, and I will not let Alex be hurt by you any longer. :: She paused calming down a little bit. :: Now listen, they both love you, and would appreciate an apology from you and knowing you love them, but I am not holding my breath that you will be decent enough. However, if you choose to contact either of them after this, I had better not hear that they have been disrespected in any way. :: She couldn't exactly terminate the call without letting them have an opportunity to redeem themselves. The look on Kaitlyn's face when she spoke to her mom, made Selene see how much damage the conversation did. The girl looked up to her mom and thought she was doing what was best for the family. With what she knew, these people had already disowned Alex, and were working towards either disowning Kaitlyn or pushing her away. :: Gwen Bishop: Is she really giving us terms and conditions on when and how to speak to our children? :: To Selene. :: They are our children, and it is our relationships, not yours. Sean Bishop: It’s alright Gwen. :: He said trying to sooth his wife. :: They are our children, we’ll just tell them how this woman verbally assaulted us with no cause. Faranfey: And before you think about spreading through the rest of their family some sort of lie about Alex or Kaitlyn so they are disowned by the whole family, and not just you. I want you to know that I have a recording of the call that initiated my contact to you today as well as today's, just to set to story straight. Now, if you don't mind, I have to contact my parents, and let them know there has been an addition to the family. Gwen Bishop: I hope… :: cut off in the middle of saying “I hope your mom is proud of you, you horrible woman.” :: :: Both of them spoke at the same time, words getting cut off by Selene terminating the call. :: Sean Bishop: Finally… :: cut off in the middle of saying “Finally, now I can get a drink to calm down.” :: :: As Selene had nothing more to say to these people, she cut the call as they started to talk, not letting them finish. She felt satisfied in having spoken her piece, and making her position clear. It wasn't that she wanted to talk sense into the senseless people, but there was a part of her that hoped that putting the words out there would force them to come to terms with the fact that if they weren't nicer, they would end up alone. :: PNPCs Gwen & Sean BishopAs written (with Alexander Bishop's Permission) by: Captain Selene Faranfey Commanding Officer USS Doyle-A, NCC-80221-A Writer ID: A239001SF0
  17. ((Facility- Morgue level, Heralokk, Industrial District on Mercadia III)) ::It was safe to say that things were not going well. Armed men in the room outside, the power and the lights out, and their teenaged guest starting to get restless.:: Pavlova: They’re approaching the door, whatever you do, do it fast. Walker: I can get us out. But we'll have to take Kai'la with us. Leaving her here would be... oO a death sentence Oo bad.. Vahl: Obviously. Besides we've already agreed that Kai'la was an asset to this mission. Pavlova: Do it. Walker: Let's get some lights in here.. because it's gonna get dark. :: She waited a second.. then sent the command that shut down the warp core.. plunging the room into darkness. :: Kai'la: Can I go home now? ::Irina could hear the fear in the girl’s voice and immediately thought back to that fateful day, 223-years-ago when she had to putter own daughter into stasis on the badly damaged USS Columbia, not knowing if Katya would ever wake up, and if she did, if Irina would be there to see her.:: ((Flashback, Bridge USS Columbia NX-03, March 9, 2172) ::Smoke clung to the ceilings everywhere on the ship, while sparks erupted seemingly at random just about everywhere she looked. The bridge wasn’t even the hardest hit part of the ship, and with the main computer down there was no damage control readout other than for engineering, shields and weapons, which were mostly ruined.:: Moretti: Commander Lennon, Captain Treng, get as many crewmen as possible down to the surface. Transporters are offline, and with that ionic soup of an atmosphere I wouldn’t trust them even if they weren’t. ::The commodore looked around the bridge, making eye contact with Irina briefly:: : Take Irina and bring the backup weapons, you don’t know what that atmosphere will do to the modern stuff. We have oxygen for only three more hours, so I’m putting the rest of the crew into stasis. Wake me last when you’ve ferried everyone else to the surface. Lennon: Yes commodore. ::the XO turned to Irina:: : You heard him lieutenant, gear up and meet me in the shuttle bay loaded for bear. Pavlova: My daughter, I… Lennon: Go, check on her. Shuttle leaves in 20 minutes, so long as you are armed and seated in 18 minutes I don’t care how you use the other sixteen. Pavlova: Thank you sir. ::With that Irina didn’t bother summoning the broken lift and with her uninjured right arm forced open the Jeffries tube hatch and practically slid down the ladder until she reached her deck. In barely three minutes she was at the sickbay with her two-year-old daughter held tightly in her injured left arm.:: ((Sickbay USS Columbia NX-03)) Pavlova: Grace, take her. I’ve been ordered to the surface. Solis: Hear, give her to me. ::The toddler clasped her arms around her mother’s neck tightly and started to cry, but Irina pushed her away and into the chief medical officer’s arms.:: Pavlova: The commodore’s ordered everyone into stasis. Solis: I know. There should be enough tubes, but lets put your Printzyessa here in first. ::Both women held the screaming toddler and carried her over to the nearest cryotube, but the girl screamed louder the closer she got until Irina finally took her back into her arms and held her tightly.:: Pavlova: Can you do something? ::Lieutenant Commander Grace Solis took the hint, and seconds later returned with a small hypo and injected it into the girl’s neck. Within seconds the screaming stopped and the child grew very groggy.:: Pavlova::Softly:: : Its just a short nap Printzyessa, mommy will be here when you wake up. Katya: I’m scared. Pavlova: Me too, but I won’t let anything happen to you. I love you. Katya: I love you too. ::The last word was barely a whisper as Katya drifted to unconsciousness and Irina just stood there holding her, crying.:: Solis: We’re out of time Irina, put her in the tube. ::Irina just stood there, almost paralyzed as the tears streamed down her cheeks and into Katya’s dress. Finally she felt the gentle push of her friend and doctor’s hand and followed her lead, approaching the tube and gently setting Katya inside, then kissing her lovingly on her forehead.:: Pavlova: Watch out for her Grace, if I don’t come back, watch out for her. Solis: I won’t leave her side until you come for her, and if you don’t, I’ll raise her as my own. ::Irina wrapped her arms around the decade older Mexican woman and held her tightly.:: Pavlova::Whispering:: : Thank you. Solis: Now go protect the away team, and then come back for us. ((End Flashback)) Pavlova: Not yet Printzyessa. ::Irina watched as Kai’la sank a bit lower with a look of fear and sadness that she knew all too well. She approached, apprehensive because it was clear that the girl found her threatening, but her maternal instincts took over and she couldn’t help herself.:: Kai'la: So how are we getting out of here? Pavlova::In as soothing a voice as she could muster:: : Luna has some very modern machines that can move us. I wish I could tell you how they work, but honestly I don’t really understand it too well myself. I trust her though, she will get us out. Kai'la: What can I do to help? Pavlova: For now, just stay behind me and I’ll protect us long enough for Luna to do her thing. I won’t let any harm come to you, I promise. Kai’la: Response? Pavlova: Those men outside? No, I didn’t hurt them. Its a special gun that just knocks people unconscious for an hour or so. I promise, they’ll all wake perfectly fine, if a bit confused about what happened. Kai’la: Response? Pavlova: in a louder voice :: : How about that exit plan Luna? Walker: Response? TBC Major Irina Pavlova Chief of Marines USS Excalibur-A
  18. (( 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
  19. ((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
  20. ((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
  21. ((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
  22. ((Starbase 118: Counsellor’s Office)) ::The few days following the riots had been very busy for Vance Sheridan, but it had been the type of ‘busy’ that he was accustomed to. As he had expected, the influx of referrals for appointments had been high, with a healthy dose of requests coming in from officers being proactive about talking about their experiences and the helplessness that they were still feeling following an enforced lack of control. In some cases he’d ended up reading from a similar script. In others, he’d had to be a little more inventive. Some, the patients effectively counselled themselves, and he’d ended up just being there to listen - that was what they had seemed to need, though, and if that was enough to help them along then nothing more was warranted. His schedule would remain busy for the next few weeks, too. Everyone who he met with was scheduled for a follow-up appointment to make sure that they continued towards fully coming to terms with what had happened.:: ::The next name on his list was someone who he considered a friend by now. His experiences of the riot had been very similar in some ways to those of Sabina Tiam, with some key differences. The Betazoid had had issues with her telepathy and had been exposed to a strange gas aboard the Noguwip, a ship belonging to a strange species of nightmarish, telepathic creatures, as well as being exposed to the stress of mental violation, being ordered to leave Ambassador Calderan to be tortured and backing up Vance’s suggestion to the first officer to beam the same diplomat to who knows where with something that could only be described as a demonic entity.:: ::It was always weird counselling friends, but it did remove a certain level of formality. That was something, at least. When the door chime rang, Vance called Sabina inside.:: Sheridan: Come in! ::The office door swooshed open to allow the petite woman access. Sabina smiled as she stepped in, the light fabric of her off-duty clothing fluttering behind her. Appointment or not, she was not one to be caught in a uniform anywhere it wasn’t strictly required.:: Tiam: Counselor. ::She nodded in greeting.:: ::He stood from the seat behind his desk and smiled, walking around to the sofa and armchair that took centre stage in the office.:: Sheridan: Grab yourself a seat. Would you like a drink? ::She began making her way to the sofa.:: Tiam: Coffee would be lovely. ::Taking a seat, she realized how tense she had become. The Betazoid was still not used to verbalizing her innermost thoughts or feelings. So things like psych evals, or even just counseling sessions felt like foreign ground. But this time around she had the privilege of working with someone she had come to count as a friend. It was probably a large part of why she had been proactive in setting the appointment, in fact.:: ::To the telepath, counseling sessions with strangers seemed inherently unbalanced. She would be expected to express herself openly and honestly, yet Starfleet’s policy, and what many considered to be simple consideration, required that she kept her own mental barriers up. While, due to the nature of the task at hand, the counselor themselves certainly wouldn’t be sharing about themselves. This routine gave her no chance to really get to know who she was talking to. That type of imbalance was quite rare on Betazed. At least working with a friend, Sabina knew that she could trust the officer she working with.:: ::As Vance returned, coffee in tow, Sabina accepted the cup with a grateful look.:: Tiam: Thank you. ::She sipped the familiar, bitter beverage and after a moment of simple enjoyment, she set the cup down. Her eyes, darkening ever so slightly to cobalt, fell on the counselor. Before speaking, she pulled her legs up under her and assumed a more casual posture on the sofa. :: Tiam: You’ll have to forgive me, I’m a bit out of practice when it comes to talk therapy. ::Sabina knew he would likely know this. Her file was unusually bare in the psych section. Her last formal evaluation had come at the end of her SFI training. How she had managed to not be called in for so long, she didn’t know. But she knew that their findings had been less than favorable for her, so she hadn’t minded avoiding further study, so to speak.:: ::”A bit out of practice” was an understatement. If Sabina had been for a counselling appointment recently then whoever she’d seen hadn’t bothered to write anything down. Trying times like the riots tended to bring to light a few people who had slipped through the net of having their regular evaluations, but Vance hadn’t necessarily expected Sabina to be one of them. He guessed he didn’t really know her - he didn’t really know anyone after being on the station for just a few days now. Still, that would come with time and this wasn’t about lecturing people for not taking care of procedure.:: Sheridan: Don’t worry. ::He smiled.:: I won’t judge. I’ve had enough people through the doors today who haven’t seen a counsellor in a while that I’m definitely in sympathetic mode. ::He made himself comfortable.:: Sheridan: How’ve you been, anyway? Have you had much of a chance to take the load off? ::Sabina considered her answer to that for a moment. Between the mission, her family and her disrupted sleep, she couldn’t say she’d been great. But she had been embracing leave wholeheartedly, which helped.:: Tiam: I have, actually. While the promenade has been in the middle of repairs, I’ve gotten to explore the rest of the station. ::She nodded to herself, taking her own inventory of the past few days.:: Got some hooping in. ::Exploring the station was still on Vance’s to-do list, although he’d managed to get to know the counselling department quite well. Much better than his own quarters, in fact. He was fairly sure he knew what Sabina meant with the other thing, but he thought he’d ask to check. If it was one of her interests then it wouldn’t do any harm to chat about it.:: Sheridan: Hooping? Tiam: ::She smiled, eyes lightening a shade.:: Hoop dance. It’s common in many cultures. Hula hooping, I think Terrans usually call it. Sheridan: Ah, yes! Yeah, we do call it that. I’m glad you’ve found some time to have fun. ::She was aware she had dodged his real question, and part of her wondered whether he would press her on that point. But, a larger part of her decided it wouldn’t be right to make him.:: Tiam: It’s been good. But, I admit, I haven’t been sleeping well since.... ::She still didn’t quite know how to name what the station had gone through.:: well, since what happened. ::He nodded sympathetically. She’d had to face more than one extremely unpleasant situation, and she had done very well to hold it together long enough to complete the mission. He counted himself in that bracket, too, and Ambassador Calderan, who he was yet to see. Those were just the officers whose experiences he’d been around to see and be a part of. The effects of the riots had echoed through a large proportion of the station’s personnel.:: Sheridan: I think that’s understandable. Can you be more specific about how you’ve been sleeping? Have your sleep patterns been disrupted by bad dreams, for example? Or have you found it difficult to get to sleep in the first place? ::Her eyes studied him for a long moment. Sabina had come to find the counselor to be capable, trustworthy, and altogether fresh faced. She had no reason to think he would be overly scrupulous of her, but that concern still caused a sinking feeling in her stomach.:: Tiam: Falling asleep has been fine. After that gas, my body was feeling so weak that any time I was near a pillow I was falling asleep. ::She sipped her coffee.:: But I can’t seem to get a full night’s rest. I… ::She set her cup down and leaned forward slightly.:: Can I be quite blunt with you, counselor? Sheridan: Of course. ::That would make it much easier to try to help her, after all. :: Tiam: I keep ending up in the same dream. The past few nights, I fall asleep and eventually, there I am, reliving an old memory until suddenly it’s different. Suddenly, Y-rocck appears, in all his potential savagery and I wake up. ::Well that sounded perfectly horrible. Vance’s own memories had been violated back aboard the Noguwip, but he hadn’t seen the snake-like Y-rocck anywhere in them. He was glad of that, too.:: Sheridan: I can see how that would be distressing. I’m guessing that once you wake up you don’t really feel like you can go back to sleep again, or that you want to? Tiam: ::She shrugged.:: Sometimes it’s just easier to get up, start the day. ::Unfortunately, that kind of a recurring dream had the potential to work like a kind of aversion therapy. If they let it build up for too much longer then Sabina would probably develop a pathological fear of falling asleep, which would cause no end of additional problems. Fortunately, she had been brave enough to take action sooner rather than later.:: Sheridan: OK, so do you feel comfortable with talking about the dream a little more? Maybe we can figure out why it keeps coming back. Sometimes that can help to tackle the problem right at the roots. ::He often tried not to be too ‘counsellory’, but aspects of his teachers occasionally leaked through, even this long after he had left the academy. He caught himself gesticulating in a kind of chopping motion to emphasise his point, cleared his throat, and then sat on his hands.:: Tiam: ::Sabina took a deep breath, preparing herself for the subject to come.:: I don’t think ignoring it would be as productive. ::She gave a tired smirk.:: Sheridan: OK, so let’s start at the beginning. What’s the memory that you’re reliving in the dream? Tiam: ::She leaned back on the sofa, folding her arms across her chest.:: How old were you during the Dominion War, counselor? ::She could have guessed, sure. But Sabina wasn’t one for assumptions.:: Sheridan: Uhm, like… ::he narrowed his eyes as he worked out dates.:: 12 or something? Like, that was when it finished and the announcement about the Treaty of Bajor was made on the news service. Tiam: ::She nodded stiffly. The young woman’s features were noticeably hardened but her eyes shined a little brighter than before.:: I was young too. I was around ten when the Dominion came to Betazed. I was visiting the capitol during their first assault, in fact. ::Coffee cup held between her fingers, she gazed absently at the dark liquid.:: Tiam: I was there with my father. He’s always worked for the government there. When they attacked, he got me to safety as quickly as he could. He ::beat:: took me to his assistant so that I could have safe transport back home to our isolated village. ::She looked up once again.:: But I saw the beginning of the attack. And I watched my father run back to help, and to fight. That’s the memory I keep dreaming. And as my father runs back, up from the ground comes Y-rocck and I wake up. ::Vance took a deep breath as he recognised signs of something that he’d spent a considerable amount of time dealing with during his first year of service, but he didn’t want to leap to any conclusions. Re-living traumatic events over and over was a symptom of post-traumatic stress. However, Y-rocck’s appearance in those memories suggested another degree of complication.:: Sheridan: What happens when you wake up? Does it take you a long time to calm down, or do you keep thinking of parts of the nightmare? ::Sabina made a poor attempt to speak, but didn’t produce anything audible. This moment exemplified the difficulties she had faced when transitioning to a world where telepathy and telepathic communication were, usually, quite rare. Explaining how she felt after waking up from her nightmare seemed to require a vocabulary she just didn’t have. But despite that, she composed herself and did her best to carry on.:: Tiam: I’m fairly rooted in reality. Once I wake up, I know it was a dream. I can tell myself that. That it wasn’t real and that I’m fine. But I just… ::She attempted to describe how she felt again, giving a small sigh of frustration.:: I end up angry. ::The young Betazoid wasn’t one for anger. Truth be told, she usually kept herself distant enough from things to avoid any impassioned fervor. Her discomfort at her own reaction was apparent.:: ::She seemed uncomfortable, but that was to be expected. It was never easy to talk about feelings without stirring some of them back up again, along with a few others. It was like tracing a stick through a puddle and dredging up the sediment from the bottom; what once had been clear tended to become muddy very quickly.:: Sheridan: Do you have a clear focus for that anger? Maybe Y-rocck, or at the Jem’Hadar for attacking the capital? Or does it feel more general? ::She sipped her coffee, intentionally avoiding having to answer right away.:: Tiam: Is it possible for me to answer “yes” to all of those? ::Sabina’s telepathic abilities had been thrown out of balance after her encounter with Y-rocck, too. Vance remembered her being prescribed some kind of psilosynine inhibitor when they had both been in sickbay and asking her whether she had been struggling while the demon-like entity had been terrorising the promenade.:: Sheridan: So, just to make sure I understand the lay of the land - last time I spoke to you, you’d been having some problems with your telepathy, but after R’Marr gave you that shot, you said you felt like things had settled. Does it still feel OK? Any issues… headaches, feelings of being overwhelmed? ::It was always important to check that out. Betazoids were receptive to telepathic influence on a scale that humans weren’t. With so many members of the starbase’s crew feeling distressed after the riots, Vance wouldn’t have been surprised if things were less comfortable for empaths.:: Tiam: ::She chuckled and spoke lightheartedly for a moment, relieved he had taken the conversation in a different direction for the time being.:: Any feelings I have of being overwhelmed come from circumstance rather than brain chemistry, I think. But no, no issues thus far. Adjusting after the inhibitor wore off, especially with things on the station being what they are right now was… a process. But I’ve had time to meditate and that makes a big difference. ::Vance smiled sympathetically. They had both felt overwhelmed at various times. He had certainly felt out of his depth on more than one occasion. The meditation she had mentioned was also likely to be partially responsible for keeping her going despite being sleep deprived.:: Sheridan: Alright. Do you think maybe there’s a reason why you’re reliving that particular memory? Your mind seems to be making an association between that particular event and Y-rocck. ::Vance certainly thought there was a reason, and a very specific one at that, but he wanted to give Sabina a chance to think about it first. If she came to the same conclusion that he had then there would be a degree of proof that it was accurate. People usually found it easier to come to terms with things that they realised themselves than things that they had been told by their counsellor in any case.:: Tiam: ::She thought for a moment.:: Aside from the obvious, they’re both frightening experiences, nothing jumps out at me. Should there be more to it than that? Sheridan: I think it’s possible that there’s an emotional connection between the two things. The scene where your father leaves you to go and help defend the capital when you were really too young to join in, and the alien aggressor that forced his way into your mind. Feeling that degree of helplessness is paralysing at the time, and feeling angry is a common aftereffect. ::He was finding it quite difficult to explain that, because it was impossible not to be reminded of his own experiences with Y-rocck. He had been stripped of the privacy of his own mind and forced to inflict major injury on himself under the snake’s stewardship. In Vance’s opinion, Y-rocck was no less of a demon than the creature they had beamed off the promenade.:: ::The air in the room seemed to change. Vance’s words had hit a nerve within Sabina but they must have rung true in some way for him as well, as she felt his emotional presence in the room shift along with their topic. For a long moment she found herself digging through her own emotions; wrestling with the idea of helplessness, and how it had butted it’s ugly head into her life once more. She glanced at Vance, hoping that this session hadn’t become too triggering for him.:: ::He cleared his throat, aware he’d been quiet for too long, and that Sabina could sense what he was thinking. He forced himself to think of something else before he dwelled on the fact that she was a telepath, just like Y-rocck, because he knew it would make him uncomfortable.:: ::A touch embarrassed, he looked up at her and smiled.:: Sheridan: Sorry. If you’re happy to go into more detail then it might be good to talk about what happened on that day with your father. Maybe that will help to stop it from resurfacing as often. Take Y-rocck out of the picture, kind of thing. ::Sabina nodded, considering. On the one hand, she was happy to move the conversation away from Y-rocck, lest the counselor becomes the one in need of counsel. But on the other hand, well, that day had been… significant.:: Tiam: It was my first visit to Rixx. I was thrilled. That morning, my father had gotten called into some meeting, or something of the like. He had asked me to stay put in his office but, ::She shrugged.:: that wasn’t really my style at that age. I wandered around the building exploring, harmless really. ::Or at least, at the time she thought it would be harmless. In truth her choice to wander had caused her father a great deal of panic.:: Tiam: And then, I heard it, the start of the attack. They were firing from their ships before they ever set foot on the planet. You could feel the ground rumble as structures fell. I… I didn’t know what to do. Sheridan: So what happened? Tiam: I ran. ::She was not proud of that, and it showed on her face.:: I just, took off in one direction, no plan... Sheridan: ::Nodding slowly:: That’s what I would have done. ::He was aware that wasn’t necessarily relevant, but it provided Sabina with validation. He picked up on the change in her expression, but running away from danger was something that was hard-wired into all but the most belligerent of humanoid species. She couldn’t blame herself for it.:: Tiam: Eventually, I literally ran into my father. He, of course, had been trying to find me. And my father, he’s a man of action. Once he had me, that was it. He didn’t stop moving. He ran, carrying me the whole way until he got me to safety. ::She paused.:: Well, relative safety. ::She recalled the memory of those moments as her father ran wordlessly with her in his arms. Over his shoulder, she had seen the initial reactions to the attack.:: Tiam: We moved a short distance through the city center. I don’t think my father liked that we had to go outside to reach an escape route. He tried to move as quickly as he could but, while he ran, all I could do was watch what was happening. ::And there it was. That same, but altogether unfamiliar feeling of anger welled inside Sabina and manifested in her tone.:: Tiam: ::Shaking her head.:: There was no warning. Not for the people, at least. The panic that filled the city, the screams… Once my father had passed me off to our family friend, he ran back. He had to. There was no help for us. No cavalry coming. Our peacekeepers were overwhelmed. Starfleet was no where to be found, despite their promises of protection. There were no choices left to us, no allies but ourselves. So as the city seemed to crumble, my father ran back into the chaos. But I couldn’t. I was too young, too weak. I had to be protected. ::She bit at her lip.:: In a world where there were only the helpful and the burdensome, I had ended up on the wrong side of that distinction. ::Vance could hear the anger in her voice. Even if she had been able to help, he imagined she would still be angry for what the Dominion had done, but the fact she had to just stand by and watch it happen had intensified that emotion.:: Sheridan: Maybe so, but you were a kid. Even though you could physically hold and point a weapon, it doesn’t mean you should have had to fight that kind of battle. How did things play out in the end? ::The way the story was progressing, Vance felt as though Sabina might have lost her father during the Dominion occupation. There was nothing in her file to indicate that, but then her records were far from complete.:: Tiam: ::Her words dripped with bitterness.:: When everything was said and done, we lost countless citizens. But we survived. We won. ::Her eyes shifted to a flat, dark navy.:: Our leadership, people like my father, everyday people… They all came together and through mastery of the Betazoid mind, we prevailed. But no later victory could change what had happened. We entrusted our safety to the Federation and to Starfleet, but it came down to us. When everything was on the line, we only had our strongest to look to. I remember, in my fathers arms, deciding I would be like him. I would run into danger to help instead of fleeing. I would be strong enough to make a difference. ::Tiam took a breath, realizing she had gone on what was a difficult tangent.:: Tiam: I’m sorry, counselor. I thought this was something I had a better handle on. Clearly I was mistaken. ::Vance didn’t know why Starfleet hadn’t arrived in time to help the people of Betazed. He’d lost his grandfather during the Dominion War, and missed out on any of the stories he might have told and, although he’d looked into it, his knowledge was patchy. What he did know, though, was that overcoming the Dominion Occupation had taken immense courage and strength. And he also knew that Sabina was being anything but weak now.:: Sheridan: Confronting things like this is the only way to really get a handle on them. Telling me about it took exactly the kind of bravery that you’re talking about. It was a choice to run into danger instead of running away from it. ::Sabina looked at him, and a small smile graced her features. She could see the truth in what he said, and it brought her small sense of validation.:: Sheridan: When it comes down to it, you should know that your actions back then came as a result of things your brain is hard-wired to do. There are times when you can’t override your natural survival instinct and it doesn’t make you a coward. After experiencing that event, you have made several conscious decisions that are really more the kind of thing that define you as a person. You chose to put on a gold uniform and risk your life for others in Starfleet security. You live up to the standards and the expectations of that job every day. And even though Starfleet didn’t come to help Betazed when they were needed, you’re still prepared to serve, because you know you can stop other people on other worlds from having to experience the same things that you lived through. ::He felt that was admirable. It would have been quite easy for her to hang the anger and helplessness she had felt on the Starfleet emblem and use it as something to hate. Hatred was often used as that kind of crutch, a defensive response that cut off emotions that were less easy to process.:: Tiam: Counselor, I hesitate to taint your image of me, but I’m not sure I deserve such praise. ::Whatever mix of anger, trepidation and validation she had been experience before settled into the quiet cold that came with facing who you were when that imagine was something you weren’t proud of.:: Tiam: I didn’t choose the gold collar. I didn’t choose Starfleet out of a noble desire to protect others. I wanted a desk job. I trained in Intel for a position sat safe somewhere, pouring over data. And I did it so that I’d have a way off of Betazed. ::She laughed.:: I’ve been running this whole time. And when SFI realized that, they transfered me right out of black. ::This, of course, was simply her interpretation of what had happened. Starfleet Intelligence was rarely good at communicating their true intentions, even to some of their operatives. And ultimately, she may not have chosen her current position, but she had stuck to it. The transfer of departments hadn’t caused her to quit. Rather, it had pushed her to sharpen skills she hadn’t known she’d come to rely on. Traveling along this line of thinking, Sabina could feel herself calm down a little. She was even aware of the shift in her eye color to a lighter, brighter blue.:: Tiam: But that’s a bit self-deprecating, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve stuck it out. In the face of danger, I have risked myself for others. And I’ve learned firsthand that there are good people in Starfleet. ::She smiled cautiously.:: ::Vance readjusted the way he was sitting, folding one leg up and tucking it under another to get a little more comfortable. His image of her wasn’t going to be tainted by something like that; everyone’s careers took different paths and everyone was motivated by different things. He didn’t need to know her history to see that could be brave, even if she didn’t believe she was herself.:: Sheridan: ::Genuinely:: Me too. ::Frustrated, and tired, Sabina ran her hands through her wavy mane of hair.:: Tiam: This business with Y-rocck and that creature… ::She shook her head.:: I hate that it’s getting to me this way. I just… Sheridan: They made you feel weak. Like you were the little girl in the capitol all over again. ::The parallel was undeniable, really. Sabina’s dream had painted the picture all too well.:: Tiam: I worked so hard, Vance. I trained my mind. I studied telepathy. I practiced my abilities. ::She gestured, emphasizing her words.:: I put in the hours, day after day after day. And do you know what? I am a powerful telepath because of it. But it didn’t mean anything. ::The counsellor folded his arms. Out of Sabina’s sight, his hands gripped at his sides. There was that ‘t’ word again, but it needed to be discussed.:: Sheridan: Sometimes… ::he paused:: it’s harder to take getting beat at something when you’ve spent a long time preparing yourself for it. I mean, if you were awful at hockey, and you played a game against a pro, you would expect them to make you look bad. If you were really good, though, one of the best because you practised every day, and another player came along and had you outplayed, it would be very difficult to swallow. Tiam: Sure, but how often are lives on the line in hockey? It’s not my ego that’s bruised here. We’re talking about survival. Sheridan: No-one can be strong all the time. That’s one of the toughest things about living in a galaxy where every species is so different. I would lose in an arm wrestling match against a Klingon. We both might lose in a sprint race against a Ktarian. Being a member of a species gives you a whole array of advantages and disadvantages over others, and it just so happened that whatever Y-rocck is had more telepathic power than Betazoids do. That was decided before either of you even met. I don’t really put much stock in fate, but I guess that’s how you might describe it if you did - something that has an outcome that’s been decided before it even happens. ::There was a saying from Earth that he had always felt was useful for counselling sessions, and some of his patients had found to be a comfort.:: Sheridan: Back on Earth, there’s a saying that you might find appropriate. It’s a prayer actually, but it’s quite often used without any form of religious meaning. It goes ‘grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. ::Sabina nodded, content to listen for a moment. She had run into a similar sentiment, on Earth in fact, and she couldn’t deny it’s relevance.:: Sheridan: The last part is the hardest. I’d like to tell you something as well. ::His eyebrows knotted and his jaw set as he did so. It was something that wasn’t easy to share, but that he felt he needed to, for her sake as much as his.:: I tried to resist Y-rocck. I tried to drag him into different memories than the ones he was trying to access. He punished me for it by making me relive something embarrassing - nothing anywhere near as bad as the memory you dreamed about - but enough for him to show me that he was in control of my mind, not me. I stood up to him the best I could, but it made no difference. ::He knew he was going to have to stop avoiding that issue and talk to someone with a counselling qualification before it started to fester, too. It was about time he took some action instead of hiding in the counselling office all day, using work as an excuse not to have to go and face his own problems.:: ::Sabina leaned forward slightly, placing a friendly hand on the counselor’s knee. She could only imagine what the experience must have been like for someone without telepathic experience. Sabina had certainly never faced Y-rocck’s level of invasion before, but at least she had been used to telepathy as a part of life.:: Tiam: ::She spoke empathetically.:: I’m sorry, Vance. ::She removed her hand and collected her coffee cup and saucer as he began to speak again. While she listened, she stood and brought the glassware to the replicator for recycling.:: Sheridan: What we both have to think about is how we made ourselves bounce back afterwards. We came back to the station in awful physical condition, and the first thing we did after being treated was run an evacuation of the surgical ward. Then you figured out a way to track down that girl and, in the end, it was you that gave everyone the opening that they needed to throw it off balance for long enough to remove it from the station and end the riots. I don’t think there’s anyone who could argue that you’re weak, or that you ran away from anything at all. ::And if they did then he would be the first to contradict them. While Vance held the highest rank between the two of them, and had been responsible for having the final say on some of the actions that they had taken, he had depended heavily on Sabina’s guidance and it had been more of an equal partnership than anything else.:: ::Her back to him still as she stood at the replicator, Sabina took a deep breath and let his words sink in before turning to face him again.:: Tiam: Thank you. I appreciate hearing that. ::She returned to the sofa, perching herself on the edge of her seat.:: And you’re right, it’s something we both need to remind ourselves of going forward. I don’t know that most people could have stepped up the way you did after what happened on the Noguwip. ::He laughed and shook his head. Part of him wanted to accept the compliment, but part of him wanted to protest that abandoning Ambassador Calderan to potentially be killed on two separate occasions was hardly stepping up. He scratched his temple and looked at the carpet, deploying emotional barricades. It would hardly do to lose control of himself now, when the appointment was almost done.:: Sheridan: Thanks. ::He cleared his throat.:: I guess we really didn’t have much choice. Tiam: Funny, isn’t it, that it’s only when we have a moment to stop and think that these things affect us so much? I think I’m beginning to understand the Starfleet officer’s tendency to throw themselves into work. ::That was exactly what Vance had been doing. He’d hardly set foot outside of the counsellor’s office and there were still bags sitting unpacked in his quarters. The truth was that it had been easier to focus on helping other people than to truly allow himself the down time that he knew he needed, because that would bring about a confrontation with the experiences he’d had on the Noguwip and the promenade.:: ::This time the laugh was much more genuine and much more honest.:: Sheridan: I think that’s something Starfleet requires you to learn. They just don’t tell you that when you sign up. It’s important to remember to take a break every now and again. ::It was advice that he really needed to heed himself.:: Tiam: Life is far too enjoyable to be a workaholic. ::One corner of her mouth raised in a smile that was only slightly sassy.:: Sheridan: You got that right. ::He leaned forward in his seat, hands on his knees.:: That’s why I’m giving you your discharge papers. ::He had a feeling that their appointment wouldn’t make the dreams go away immediately, but hopefully it had given Sabina the tools she needed to process the resulting anger and find a way to get back to sleep.:: Tiam: I thank you for your time today, counselor. I hope you’ve got at least some leave ahead of you? Sheridan: I… think there’s an outside chance I’ll get a break in the next couple of days. They tend to give you time off for good behaviour, I’ve heard. If those dreams persist then just make sure you call me again, OK? ::As the two said their goodbyes, they stood and Sabina felt considerably better after having talked through the difficulties of the last few days. Going to a counselor was like going to the gym; leaving to get there can be really difficult, but you never regret it once you’ve gone. She hoped the counselor himself had plans for an appointment of his own.:: Tiam: I’m hoping this bit of catharsis will have done the trick, but I know where to go if the issue persists. ::She went to the office door and look back into the room at him as it opened.:: I’ll see you. Hopefully next time under less, ::She looked for the word momentarily.:: trying circumstances. Sheridan: Hopefully so. See you soon, Sabina. ::With a smile and a slight bow of her head, Sabina left the counselor to the rest of his day.:: ::Vance stood looking at the door for a few moments, his mind turning inwards. It was funny how other people’s appointments had the potential to shine a light on the needs of the counsellor who was running them from time to time. He was happy enough that Sabina would be able to move past the incidents from the last few days. Now it was time to take care of his own needs.:: Sheridan: Computer, reassign tomorrow’s appointments to available, on-duty counselling personnel, prioritising Lieutenant Pritzker, and display a list of crew members from outside this department with counselling training… TBC A JP by Lieutenant (j.g.) Sabina Tiam Security Officer Starbase 118 Ops & Lieutenant Vance Sheridan Counsellor Starbase 118 Ops
  23. ((Starbase 118: Chief Counsellor’s Office)) (( Time Index: The morning after Peters' night in the bar with Pon Pon )) ::​ ​After one of the most brutal riots in recent memory had taken place on the promenade of Starbase 118, Counsellor Sheridan had very much had his hands full working through appointments with members of the crew.​ ​ Fortunately, the other members of the department had not just been supportive, they had been proactive in putting in extra hours to help to reduce the backlog. Rather than assigning each member of the team to just do one thing, Vance had made sure that their appointments, and his own, were varied. Next on the books was a routine annual evaluation, although he had a feeling the riots would get at least a small mention.​ ​:: ::​ ​The name on the appointment list was familiar. Peters. He’d run into him when things were starting to die down, and he had been in need of medical attention. He’d suffered a blow to the head, and Vance had been responsible for chasing down Dr. Pon to treat him.​ ​:: ::​ ​The door chime rang and Vance responded automatically.​ ​:: Sheridan: Come in! :: Cadfael came into the room and smiled at Vance, though he did hate the fact that ship transfers made it necessary for him to have a mandatory psych eval after reporting for duty aboard each one. It was in the regulations. He could hate it all he wanted, but it didn’t change the fact he had to get one. :: Peters: Hello, sir. ::​ ​The counsellor smiled warmly, and gestured towards the sofa and nearby armchair, indicating that Peters should take a seat.​ ​:: :: The engineer had a seat on the sofa and made himself comfortable. He tried to take a breath and forget momentarily about the fact that the man he was talking to outranked him. Rank was a formality that took place on the bridge and other places that were outside this room, as his former Rodulan counselor, Dr. Kaji, had tried to teach him. :: Sheridan: It’s good to see you looking better than last time we met. You were in a lot of discomfort, so I’m glad Dr. Pon managed to fully patch you up. :: Had it been discomfort from the fact he came in during some sort of a riot or lingering discomfort since the Dunbar? Cadfael didn’t get checked out since then, and a few things had come up since. :: Peters: oO May as well let him get started, then will adjust it as needed. Oo I’m glad for the little fellow too. ::​ ​Vance took a seat himself, ready to formally begin the session.​ ​:: Sheridan: So, it says on my appointment card that we have to take care of your annual evaluation. I thought we’d take care of that and maybe talk a little bit about the riots. If there’s anything else that you’d like to talk about then we should be able to find time to cover that, too. Let’s start in the easiest place. How have you been the past few days? :: The last few days had been awkward, to say the least. His return to the Darwin after his otherworldly experience led to a message he regretted reading. He didn’t know where to begin with his last few days. The letter that crushed his heart, or his reply to it? :: :: He snapped out of his reverie and blinked a few times before speaking. :: Peters: Last few days. Right. :: He took a breath. :: Um… I miss the Victory and certain people on her. I had a friend there that I… I corresponded with her for four years. I thought I felt like I was falling in love with her. And to find out she… :: He closed his eyes and trailed off. He couldn’t finish the thought how he wanted, so settled for a lesser phrase. :: ...and I lost her. She’s a Trill, so I shouldn’t be surprised...but it still hurts. (( Flashback -- Peters’ Quarters, USS Darwin )) :: He set his tool kit down on the coffee table with a sigh. As he entered the room, he saw his console flash with an unread message. Peters' brow furrowed, the only one he'd been expecting any kind of reply from being Ayiana. And, sure enough, this was from her. :: ------ To: Lieutenant JG Cadfael Peters, Engineer, USS Darwin From: Lieutenant JG Ayiana Sevo, Chief Science Officer, USS Victory Cadfael, I wish you could have said goodbye in person, though I heard the orders came while you were on Luxis 3. I guess you didn’t have much choice but to go then. I’m not sure I understand your relief for not being Chief Engineer anymore. If you recall, I was put in charge of Science right after my first mission. It was really tough at first, but I’m getting used to the responsibility. I’m not sure if you realized, but in the end there I was starting to feel something for you. Joined Trills tend to take our time in life, not rushing to decisions or goals; seeing “the big picture,” as it were. But I definitely started to feel something more than friendship with you. I’m sorry you had to hear that through an email. I wish you well on the Darwin and hope you keep in contact. I hear she’s a neat science ship. With the massive damage to the Victory here, I’m now regretting not considering putting in for a transfer to that new Vesta-class ship they just launched. You know how much I love those ships. I’m not sure if Starfleet is going to bother fixing up this old, broken bird. Hope to hear from you. Ayiana ------ :: As he read it, his heart sank into his boots. She returned his love, and he was finding out like this. He didn't know how to react. How could he? He'd just found out that the one friend he had was starting to feel something more than friendship for him, and he was on another ship. With a resigned sigh, he decided not to bother with the shower and headed off for sickbay, leaving the message open on his console. :: (( End Flashback )) ::It was easy for a counsellor to appear to be sympathetic; that was part of doing the job professionally in some cases. Right now, though, Vance didn’t have to try to do anything. He felt a rush of sympathy for Cadfael, and he understood how painful things like that could be.:: Sheridan: I’m sorry to hear that. It’s never easy when you’re hoping something like that will play out the way you want, but it doesn’t. Peters: I spent days thinking how to respond to her. Managed to do so on the way here. (( Flashback -- Shuttle Helwraieth interior, on approach to Starbase 118 )) :: Peters was curled up in his bunk reading a PADD. With a sigh, he began composing another letter to answer a previous one he received while serving aboard the Darwin. :: ---- To: Lieutenant JG Ayiana Sevo, Chief Science Officer, USS Victory From: Lieutenant JG Cadfael Peters, Engineer, Starbase 118 Ops Ayiana, I really wish I could have. Starfleet seems to have other plans for me. I do recall. I don't think I can explain why some people are happy to not be in charge. It's a cultural thing for humans. I didn't know. I still love you, and the fact I'm getting pushed farther away by the brass means that I'm farther away from you. One thing that I don't want to change: the fact we are still friends. I spent time on the Darwin, then the Dunbar, then the Darwin again; though nearly all my time on the Dunbar I spent caught between worlds. Like I was phased out. I was ordered to report to a shuttle instead for a new assignment. I've been transferred to Starbase 118 Ops. Take care of yourself, and I'll be in touch soon. Cadfael ---- (( End Flashback )) Sheridan: That’s good. Hopefully you’ll be able to keep in touch. It may not seem like it now, but things like this usually have a good chance to right themselves, and who knows what might happen in the future? ::​ ​He smiled. He felt hopeful even if the engineer wasn’t thinking in the same way. Where romantic interest was concerned, pride was easily wounded and egos were easily bruised but once the initial shock passed there was usually a chance to mend bridges.​ ​:: Sheridan: Do you think that you have, or that you could create, a good enough network of friends aboard the station to help you get a handle on the way you feel? Would talking to Pon Pon help, for example? :: He sighed heavily and leaned back on the sofa, thinking back to yesterday and the strange social awkwardness that accompanied it -- more specifically, Pon Pon’s attempt at playing matchmaker at the end of his physical. :: Peters: Well...the doc did make me nervous yesterday. He took me to one of the pubs and tried being a matchmaker. (( Flashback -- Sickbay, Deck 503, the previous day )) :: If Cadfael was any judge of emotion, which he wasn’t (it wasn’t a human trait, after all…) , he was certain something was troubling Pon Pon besides the massive influx of patients from the hell breaking​ loose that preceded his arrival. So, with a quizzically arched eyebrow, he asked casually. :: Peters: Something bothering you, doc? ::​ ​Avoiding the question and instead choosing to run the regenerator across Peters’ face and all affected scarred areas, it took only a few moments until the device completed its’ task. Looking down, the​ Pelian blushed once more, not in embarrassment, but rather due to the attractiveness of the officer that lay in the biobed. Attempting to hide his feelings, Pon Pon hopped down towards the floor, hoping that​ the few seconds of silence did not betray his feelings. He was a doctor of course.​ ​:: Pon: ::​ ​C​​​​learing his throat.​ ​:: Pon Pon declares you entirely suitable for duty…. ::​ ​He paused for a second.​ ​:: You can return to party with confidence… yes. Peters: I told you it wasn’t a party. I was just enjoying a drink. Pon: ::Shaking his head.:: Pon Pon does not believe that young attractive engineer does not party. No no…. such a thing is impossible. :: The doc’s reaction came as a surprise, as surely Pon Pon must have some sort of authority on the subject in order to make such an audacious statement. Daring, bold, and the engineer thought perhaps​ ​that maybe Pon Pon was trying to hit on him. Again. ::​ Peters: You seem to think I actually have some kind of relationship or something going on. Hate to tell you this, doc….but you’ll be disappointed to hear I’m a single bachelor. ::​ ​Folding his arms, Pon Pon again shook his head.​ ​:: Pon: Pon Pon will look into this immediately… ::​ ​He looked up towards Peters.​ ​:: Where is party occurring, yes? Peters: oO Persistent little blighter, ain’t he? Oo ::And with that, the Pelian walked towards the door, exiting the sickbay.:: Pon: ::​ ​With a mischievous grin.​ ​:: Lucky for Lieutenant Peters, Pon Pon’s shift just ended. Peters: oO Uh ​o​h. Oo Um...thanks, doc, but that’s not going to be necessary... ::​ ​Refusing to take no for answer, the Pelian dragged the engineer out of the sickbay, and likely out of his comfort zone towards Kael’s Pub.​ ​:: (( End Flashback )) ::​ ​Vance cracked a grin at the thought of the diminutive Pelian acting as someone’s wing man. He couldn’t help but think there was a script for a comedy film in there, somewhere.​ ​:: Sheridan: Did it work?​ Peters: No, no. I’m still single, I still felt over half the crew of the Darwin denied my existence once we were on the Dunbar, and I felt rather invisibile-like because I was caught in between two or three worlds. ::​ ​Vance couldn’t help but notice that the lieutenant was skipping between issues quite quickly. It was quite common in patients who were experiencing anxiety about a number of issues - everyone had a limit to the number of things that their brain could deal with and process all at once. It seemed as though Peters had been ricocheting through a series of events that had all had an impact on his mood, and possibly his confidence as well. This invisibility issue had been referenced before, in jest, by Dr. Pon on the promenade, but it seemed like something that needed to be discussed seriously.​ ​:: Sheridan: That sounds like quite an interesting experience. I would like to hear in more detail why you felt like you were ignored, because I think that’s important. Would you mind taking a minute to describe what being caught between worlds was like, though? ::​ ​The Canadian counsellor shifted in his seat, attention fixed on Peters as he spoke. It was important to try to determine whether or not being exposed to… whatever it was that had caused him to experience this had left a psychological effect, or been as much of a trigger for making him feel like he was being ignored as the way he had perceived the members of the Darwin crew’s behaviour.​ ​:: :: He paused for a moment and ran a hand along his face as he attempted to compose his words. There was a little bit of a story in between...three worlds? Or was it two? Not that it mattered, it was in the past. It was a difficult situation for him to attempt to explain, and even harder to form words. :: Peters: It’s hard to describe. Imagine, for a moment, that you cross the threshold into engineering. You’d heard from your XO that the ship’s engine room is a mess with sparking consoles everywhere, bodies on the floor, wires hanging out of one console leading into the next, held together by duct tape. A’right? Sheridan: ::Nodding to indicate he understood:: OK, I’m with you so far. :: He took a deep breath and continued. :: Peters: In the first reality, I can see it. For only a moment. Then in the...second…? I suddenly see the room change: engineering is pristine, with no jury-rigged consoles. No dead or unconscious bodies, no people in it, nothing. Still with me? Sheridan: Yeah, I think so. Almost like you’re seeing different possible realities? :: That had to be the only explanation for what happened. He was probably affected by some sort of temporal phase shift. And yet, he had to explain the third reality. :: Peters: And in the...I guess it was the third… reality, if you want to consider it as such: I saw the jury-rigged consoles. The crew of the Dunbar, the away team, and….I saw….everything. ::​ ​Vance’s eyebrows furrowed as he tried to imagine what that might be like. It must have been very confusing, and difficult to keep a track of.​ ​:: Sheridan: How about the Darwin crew? What did they do to make you feel like you were invisible? Is it a case of them ignoring you when you tried to directly engage them? Did you feel like you had an issue with some people more than others? ::​ ​It was rare that a large proportion of a starship’s crew would just flat out ignore someone - that tended not to be the way of things in Starfleet. However, Vance knew that Peters wouldn’t feel the way he felt without good reason, and he wanted to examine that.​ ​:: Peters: I could hear my crew, but they didn’t seem to hear me. At all. ​Regardless of what I did. I tried stealing Jorey’s badge to get his attention, and nothing. My hand passed right through him. They weren’t able to hear a [...] thing. Doctor Malon tried reaching out with telepathy to find me, which hurt like hell both times. ::​ ​Vance didn’t know a lot about science, but it sounded like Peters had been phased or something? Putting his hand through another crewmate suggested there was some kind of a reason why they wouldn’t be able to hear him, but that didn’t mean the negative psychological impact of being able to see your crew but not being able to interact with them would be any less.​ ​:: Sheridan: That sounds like it could have been difficult to process. I’m assuming that things returned to normal eventually, though? :: Normal? Is that what it was? Being pulled back through some strange feat of science he didn’t follow and then fixing the problem before he was recalled to the Darwin? No…. it was Starfleet. There was no such thing as normal. :: Peters: About as normal as a Starfleeter’s life gets…. Sheridan: And did you have a chance to interact with the crew after that? ::​ ​He had to wonder whether the lieutenant’s experiences might have made him feel less inclined to speak to them.​ ​:: Peters: I got pulled back into this reality somehow through some science that escapes me. I helped my section of the engineering team seal a hull breach, then we got recalled to the Darwin. I was ordered to a physical, but instead I found transfer orders to the starbase. ::​ ​The fact Cadfael had been ordered to transfer from pillar to post was probably not particularly settling for him either.​ ​:: Sheridan: And then straight into the riots. :: Cadfael gave a faint nod and tried to recall the events, which were probably a little blurry for him. :: Peters: I get here, I find the CO, I go to the promenade. Got clocked in the face and landed at his feet. Hearing in my right ear was shot...Then don’t remember anything until you started talking to me the first time. ::​ ​Vance took in a slow breath through his nose, and leaned forward a little in his seat. He felt like he was up to speed now on things that had been happening in Cadfael’s life recently, and there had been a lot of upheaval.​ ​:: Sheridan: Here’s hoping you get a little bit of a chance to settle down for a while. Being reassigned is one thing, but being bounced from ship to ship is another, I guess. :: The engineer couldn’t help but chuckle at that minor detail. They were in Starfleet, the likelihood of transferring was ridiculously high, as any officer below admiral rank was effectively a pawn who could be moved at the whim of the admiral based on the needs of the fleet. :: Peters: Such is the life of a Starfleet officer, Counselor. You go where the brass tells you to, don’t ask any questions, and if you get the urge to fight it make sure nobody is around to catch you. Sheridan: To a degree, I guess, but rapid transfers between ships don’t tend to happen for extended periods of time. I think it’s fair to say that you haven’t really had chance to catch a breath recently, and it’s been kind of like going from the frying pan and into the fire a couple of times. Would you agree? ::​ ​He didn’t want to put words in Peters’s mouth, but that certainly seemed to be the picture that had been painted.​ ​:: Peters: :: nodded faintly :: I was on the Victory for five months out of the academy, then transferred to the Darwin for nearly two months, then here. So….yeah. I’d say, yes. ::​ ​In that case, making sure Cadfael had a chance to actually catch his breath seemed like the most important thing.​ ​:: Sheridan: Alright, well in that case, I would recommend that you take some time to get to know the station and make the absolute most of your off-duty time. Commander Handley-Page has granted us shore leave, so make sure you have at least a couple of days where you don’t set foot inside your department unless it’s to invite someone to the holodeck, or to go have a meal. Get to know a few people, see how much you can enjoy yourself and just generally try to unwind. :: The Canadian’s description of the commanding officer seemed like an apt description, based on what little he’d seen thus far. The phrasing made it sound like an order, however. Interesting. Perhaps all would make sense once he had time to actually enjoy himself. :: Peters: Any suggestions who I should start with, besides my security buddy Mr. Cumar? ::The fact that the lieutenant was immediately able to name a friend was a good sign that he wouldn’t be taking too long to settle in.:: Sheridan: I guess it’s up to you, really - there’s no good or bad place to start, but maybe someone you’re going to be working with is a good idea. How about… ::​ ​He reached for his PADD, which was on the table near to his seat.:: Ensign Rix? It looks like your paths might cross while you’re on duty, so if you already know him then it might be easier to get your professional relationship off on the right foot. :: The moment in the Watering Hole came and went. He’d seen the Trill, then had the call with Pon Pon and wandered off toward Sickbay. He wouldn’t recognize Rix on sight at this point. :: Peters: Never met the man, actually. ::​ ​Vance shrugged. Everyone would fall into that category to begin with, until Peters had bumped into enough people during his on-duty time or chanced across them in one of the bars. The alternative was to be proactive.​ ​:: Sheridan: Well, it’s just a suggestion, but you never know. Meeting up for a coffee, or a synthale or something might open a few doors, and the more friends you make, the quicker you’ll come to terms with, or even forget, that experience you had on the Darwin. :: The mere mention of the word Darwin left a sour taste in his mouth. He hated the fact that he was only stationed there for a short time, hated the fact that the only good thing to come out of that was an EARS implant, and hated everything about his visibility level. :: Peters: It’d be awesome to hang out with people, yes. Though, as I told the doc, I’m a single bachelor. I don’t know how asking someone for drinks is going to change that. You volunteering to be my wingman for my next bar-crawl? ::​ ​Vance smiled, reminded of the earlier mental image of wingman Pon.​ ​:: Sheridan: You’re sure Dr. Pon wouldn’t be offended? Peters: Not sure at all. Sheridan: If you’re stuck for someone and you need a right hand man out there then I guess I could help. It’s been a while since I did it, though. It’d probably be better if it was somewhere I’m not immediately recognisable as the ship’s counsellor, though, or you mind find people running for the exits. ::​ ​He chuckled at the idea of people fleeing for their lives in case he used some kind of psychological trick to snare them in.​ ​:: :: It was a blasted inconvenience to consider the thought he wasn’t entirely sure of the implications. Would going out with the counselor be better than going out with a Pelian? He had no idea, and it made his brain hurt. :: Peters: I don’t know what the best choices are around here for places to hide. I don’t know anything about this station, really… Sheridan: ...but you will! It will just take some time is all. ::He smiled.:: I’m looking forward either to hearing what you got up to next time we run into each other or getting a call to say you do need a wingman after all. :: The counselor’s apparent vote of confidence made Cadfael sigh a little. He didn’t know what to reply with. So he settled on the most neutral answer he could. :: Peters: I...will be in touch…. ::​ ​Vance was sure that Cadfael would be a lot more sure of himself the next time they spoke. He’d met enough of the crew on Starbase 118 himself to know that they were friendly and accommodating, and all it was going to take was for them to collectively make the engineer feel comfortable enough that he could come out of his shell. Once he’d done that, Vance had a feeling he would be able to take care of being a bachelor as well.​ ​:: Sheridan: Good man. Was there anything else you felt like you wanted to discuss while we’re here? :: He’d woken up in sickbay and didn’t actually know if he knew where his quarters were. His last pub crawl ended with him unconscious, either from drink or another crack on the head he wasn’t sure. :: Peters: I can’t seem to think of anything… ::​ ​Vance lifted his PADD again and ticked a couple of checkboxes at the top of the form he would need to file to mark the annual psych evaluation as complete. There wasn’t anything that looked like it needed to be followed up on his file from previous appointments, so it seemed that they were just about done.​ ​:: Sheridan: Alright, well in that case I think I can declare you as officially not crazy and let you get back to the rest of your day. I’ll catch up with you soon. Peters: oO Soon...right. Wingman in the making. Oo We’ll be in touch. ::​ ​Vance rose from his seat and offered Peters a handshake before he left. When he was on his own in the office once more, he realised that he was going to have to spend a little time refreshing his memory on how to be a good wingman. It would do no good to be called on and fall flat on his face, after all…​ ​:: :: Cadfael shook the man’s hand and took his leave. A hand ran along his face as he tried to get over the fact he just offloaded a ton of information about the last seventy two hours on the counselor, and in the same conversation asked for the guy to be his wingman. It was rather gratifying to have all of that unloaded… :: === Lieutenant JG Cadfael Peters Engineer Starbase 118 Ops & PNPC Lieutenant Vance Sheridan Counsellor Starbase 118 Ops As simmed by: Lt. Cmdr. Chen
  24. ((Corridor, USS Constitution-) :: Tal walked quickly along the corridor, leaving the gathering in the aquatics lab behind. His mind was busy, deep in thought and he almost did not realize that he had slowed down and come to a halt in one of the small little cozy observation nooks that could be found just about anywhere on the ship. :: :: He must have been standing there, staring out at the deep, dark depths of space for a while before he suddenly spoke. :: Tel-ar: Computer open a communications channel to the USS Apollo-A, in care of a civilian names Sherana. Computer: Voice identified, Cmdr. Tel-ar. Opening channel. :: Tal continued to stand and stare off into the depths of space, waiting patiently for any results. His conversation with Lt. Cmdr. Rajel had sparked a number of memories. Sherana had been instrumental in his final recovery from the self-destructive mindset that had followed his divorce. Not only that but she had been…. Passionate, wild and maybe as much in need of someone as he had been. Their nights and days together had resulted in marathon sessions as both pushed themselves, trying to lose themselves in the pleasure of the flesh. :: :: Tal had not tried to contact her once, after getting transferred off the USS Apollo-A. He had done the long distance relationship thing before and it had destroyed his marriage. Besides she deserved a man who could truly compliment her strengths and weaknesses. :: :: Unfortunately that did not exactly describe Tal. He had not even realized his wife was unhappy or that she was slowly getting royally [...]ed at him. Their final explosive meeting before she resigned her commission and returned to earth with their kids had been truly inspiring. :: :: Still he owed her and not just for helping him burn off the rage and stress, although that had been fantastic. No, he owed her for being a friend, for not pushing and accepting him as he was so if he could in anyway return the favour then he was going to try, even if he was probably the last person in the galaxy who should be trying. :: Computer: Civilian citizen Sherana contacted. Channel open, proceed. (( USS- Apollo-A, Quarters Sherana )) :: Sherana, the rather unusual botanist of the Apollo-A, had just finished building the roof for her plants. A malfunction in the environmental systems had brought winter's frost to a small region of her Arboretum, which of course was not the part, that was not suitable for cold. Apparently there was a lot of work for Engineering right now, because none of the dozens of engineers could take care of it. Sherana had never been a technical mind, she was a warrior and a botanist, so she could not take care of it herself and in the end built a small construction to cover the trees and keep the frost from them. :: :: When she entered her quarters she took off her tool belt and placed it on its place on the side table next to the door and pulled the band out of her hair, before shaking the soil out of it. Since she was alone now, she pulled the bulky sweater over her head and threw it onto the couch, while her feet dragged and pulled themselves out of her working boots. She rubbed over her face, it had been a long day, but she had done longer and more exhausting ones in the Klingon Military. Still she was looking forward to a quiet evening with some meditation. :: :: Just when she was opening a drawer to get her candles, the console in the standard desk she had pushed into a far corner, beeped. :: Computer: Icoming audio call from the USS Constitution B. :: She pulled her brows together and wondered who would call her. Who did she knows on the Constitution? Could it be? No.. why would he? Despite the doubt, her heart skipped a beat. Only one way to find out. :: Sherana: Accept call. :: It was silent for a moment, but then there it was, the voice she had not heard for a felt eternity. :: Tel-ar: =/\= Hello Sherana. =/\= :: And the very first sound of it sent sensations through her being, she had not felt ever since he had left. It was true. Her blood sang of his memory. :: Sherana: =/\= Tal. =/\= ::She was glad she did not sound like a whimpy little Earth woman, but still like herself. It did not matter that he did not see her, her posture, the dirt in her face, she still straightened her back, proud and tall. What did people say in these situations?:: =/\= What is new with you? =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= Fleet Admiral Jaxx brought the USS Doyle-A and I have been transferred to it. =/\= Sherana: =/\= I understand. It is a surprise to hear from you. =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= Seeing him, seeing the others with him from the USS Apollo-A made me think of you. =/\= :: She would lie, if she'd say she did not think of him. Just because she unterstood that duty came first, did not mean that she had not missed him near. She was just not some whiny little female begging for someone to stay close and pretend she could not live without someone. She was strong and had been raised with the credo of 'duty and honor first'. :: Sherana: =/\= I thought of you too, Tal. =/\= ::She did not like that she could not look him into the eye, why did he use an audio connection? :: =/\= It is good of you to call. =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= I was unsure if I should. You indicated that you did not expect it of me. =/\= Sherana: =/\= You would not have wanted the distraction. =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= What I wanted never came into it Sherana. You insisted remember. =/\= Sherana: =/\= And you insisted that going is your duty, and I would not stand in the way of duty. You know me that well. And my duty is here. =/\= ((Observation Nook, USS Constitution-) :: Tal stood staring out at the depths of space but that was not what he was seeing. No what he was seeing were memories, memories of intimate times and passionate meetings with a woman who still captivated his thoughts and stirred up powerful emotions just from the sound of her voice. :: Tel-ar: =/\= What else could we do? =/\= :: Tal turned away from the view outside, his vision turned inwards seeing her, remembering her. :: Sherana: ::A memory flashed back into her mind, surrounded by green, and in his blue arms.:: =/\= Your memory is faulty, Tal. I do remember requesting that you will keep me updated with your path. =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= Yes you did. That is something I should have done before now. =/\= :: slight pause :: =/\= Just as we spoke of possibilities for us. =/\= Sherana: =/\= Yes, I remember it. Right before our shaping of new memories in the Arboretum. =/\= ::Another shiver ran from head to toes, remembering how he had locked the place so they could have privacy.:: Tel-ar: =/\= Something never to be forgotten. At least by me Sherana. =/\= :: Tal knew his voice had changed when he spoke this time, a strange wistfulness, one almost of desire had slipped out. :: Sherana: ::She crossed her arms in front of her chest, even though he could not see it, it was a natural reaction.:: =/\= Have you called me to fight, Tal? =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= No. That was not my intent. Did you expect me to act so illogical? =/\= :: Tal pulled it together, forceing his voice to return to its normal, unemotional tone. :: Sherana: =/\= I didn't think so. So tell me, how has life treated you? =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= It has been interesting yet lacking. =/\= Sherana: ::She raised her brows, even though he could not see it. :: =/\= Lacking of what? =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= You.... If it was possible... =/\= (( USS Apollo-A, Sherana's Quarters )) ::For a split second her heart jumped almost out of her chest. So he missed her? No matter how much Duty came first and how much she understood it, she was still a woman, behind her way too big men clothes. She swallowed and this time was glad he could not see her. She did not like appearing weak. :: Sherana: =/\= Why... me? =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= Because I can not forget what being with you is like. =/\= :: Tal could hear the change in his own voice again as he admitted to having a weakness, her. :: Sherana: ::There it was again, his voice had changed and shivers ran down her spine. :: =/\= Why didn't you say that before? =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= Because we are both essentially warriors, duty comes be four our hearts. =/\= Sherana: ::That was right, they were. :: =/\= And if it were different? =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= If it was otherwise I would wish we were together. =/\= Sherana: :: The warmth that moved into her chest made her feel soft and gentle, something she was not used to. But it was for long enough to hear herself say:: =/\= Me too, Tal. =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= Why? :: Tal hated speaking about how he felt about other people but even he realized that their were times when one had to do it no matter how he felt about it. :: Because I am not Klingon, human or even technically Andorian, Sherana. =/\= Sherana: =/\= You are right, Tal. But you are you. You are a warrior, strong and honourable. ::She paused:: Why is this so difficult, Tal? =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= Because as an old friend of mine use to say, the heart wants what it wants. =/\= Sherana: ::Ah yes, his friend from the Academy, she remembered hearing about him before. What was his name again? Jason? Janos... something with J. Human names all sounded the same. :: =/\= And I know what mine wants, Tal. But you deserve more than someone who is across the galaxy. =/\= ((Observation Nook, USS Constitution-) :: Tal no longer stood looking out at the depths of space. In fact his eyes were closed, his memories providing the image of Sherana, the Orion woman who had helped him recover from his self destructive tendencies, who had become more than just a friend. A woman who had been for a very short time his woman. :: Tel-ar: =/\= Deserve and what I can have are two different things. =/\= Sherana: =/\= And what do you think you deserve? =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= To be able to fall asleep beside you and to wake up with you every day. =/\= Sherana: =/\= Tal, I ... =/\= :: She became quiet and Tal had no idea if his suggestion had offended her or if she felt the same. :: Tel-ar: =/\= I know, an impossible dream. Your over 9 sectors away from here. It would take almost a month for me to reach you... still you asked. =/\= (( USS Apollo-A, Sherana's Quarters )) :: Sherana thought about that. It was a long distance, but even with that, right here and now, her feelings had not diminished one bit. She did not like that weakness, but at the same time just now relished the feelings he caused in her. :: Sherana: =/\= What is distance... Don't tell me you miss me, Tal. =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= I do not know. :: slight pause :: but yes I miss you. =/\= :: Tal could not believe that he was admitting to having any weakness, even if it was only his desire to be with her. :: Sherana: =/\= Why? =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= #$%^& Sherana. :: slight pause as Tal regains control of his emotions :: Your the best thing that ever happened to me. =/\= :: Tal looked around, hoping no one was close enough to have seen his outburst but at the same time not really caring if anyone had. :: Sherana: =/\= And now, Tal? =/\= ((Observation Nook, USS Constitution-) :: Tal no longer stood looking out at the depths of space. In fact his eyes were closed, his memories providing the image of Sherana, the Orion woman who had helped him recover from his self destructive tendencies, who had become more than just a friend. A woman who had been for a very short time his woman. :: Tel-ar: =/\= I do not know. This is completely unknown territory for me. =/\= :: Tal admitted as he reached up with one hand and kneaded the muscles on his neck. :: Sherana: =/\= But you were married before. =/\= :: Her statement was a simple fact. One that was true and while Tal had loved his wife... the relationship had never been... solid. :: Tel-ar: =/\= You are nothing like my ex-wife. You are so much more than she could have ever been. =/\= :: It was a reality that Tal had been forced to admit to himself. One he had been avoiding telling Sherana both out of fear and concern. Fear that she did not feel the same way about him and concern because regardless of how they might feel about each other the realities of their current positions might make it impossible for them to truly enjoy any kind of a real relationship together. :: Sherana: =/\= I need to see you. =/\= :: Tal felt a little thrill at that simple statement as his hands opened and closed unconsciously while he replied. :: Tel-ar: =/\= That may be a little difficult right now Sherana. Your a long way away. =/\= Sherana: =/\= I know that. Just turn on your camera. =/\= :: So she wanted a visual, not to be in his presence, close enough that he could take her in his arms... still her request was logical, practical and he realized that he wanted to see her as well. As he did he started moving, his long legs taking him swiftly down the corridor at a full out run even as he replied to her. :: ((Corridor, USS Doyle)) Tel-ar: =/\= Give me a moment Sherana. =/\= :: Tal slid to a stop and waited impatiently for the door to the lab to open. For a moment he almost reached out to help it but he was able to restraint himself as he slipped past the half open door and rushed over to the wall mounted screen, activating it as he did. :: ((Science Lab)) :: It took the computer a few seconds to catch up, transferring the signal and establishing a proper connection. Then the image on the screen changed and he could see Sherana. She looked to be sitting down on a chair in front of the terminal and based on the way she was dressed and what he could see behind her she was in her quarters. :: :: She looked fantastic. Her loose hair framed her face and shoulders and she was wearing a sleeveless tank top that showed off her arms and curves. Seeing her like that, made his mind wander for a second. Remembering their last day together. She never dressed like that, always wearing overlarge bulky garments that concealed and hid just how truly feminine she was. :: :: For a moment his heart seemed to stop in his chest as she suddenly reached out and touched the screen gingerly. Her face seemed to soften slightly, just like it did when she was in his arms. At that moment he would have given anything, even his commission to be there with her, to be able to take her in his arms and hold her close while he kissed her. It took the sound of her voice to break the illusion and return him to reality. :: (( USS Apollo - Quarters Sherana )) :: Sherana sat down on the chair in front of the terminal, the sleeve less tank showed her arms and her curves, something she usually covered under her bulky sweater, but he had seen more of her than anyone else, so she did not think of putting that sweater back on. Her loose hair framed her face and shoulders as she looked at the blue man's face and she felt that weakness again. Before she could stop herself, she had reached out and touched the screen gingerly. Her face softened slightly, thought she did not smile, she never did, not even for him. :: Sherana: =/\= It is good to see you. =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= I am glad that seeing me agrees with you Sherana, especially as seeing you has reminded me of just how truly beautiful you are. =/\= Sherana: =/\= We are honest with each other and right now I hate that I feel this weakness in me, it is frustrating to be a weak warrior. =/\= Tel-ar: =/\- Frustrating, weak.... =/\= :: Tal's left eye brow rose and fell as he considered her simple statement. :: Sherana: =/\= But at the same time, it is the greatest feeling I had in a long time, a new and strange one. But it is good. You are special to me and the day I have met you... every day we have fought, and every moment in your arms.. =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= I had thought I could live with out you, :: As he talked Tal's voice lost all of its normal unemotional tone and came alive with a rich, husky tone that was both masculine and dripping with desire. His face also relaxed, it was no longer a stone mask hiding his inner feelings. :: that I was strong enough to resist my heart, my desire. I realize now that I was a fool. That with out my knowing it you had become a part of me, as important to me as air or duty. :: Slight pause :: So I guess that leaves me with the question, do you want me as much as I need and want you? =/\= :: Tal waited, unsure of what her response would be, desperately hoping that against all logic, that regardless of the impossibility of it all she might feel the same way he did. :: :: That was the question. The big thing. What did she want to do? Did she want to be safe and miss out on the best that had ever happened to her, because the distance would make it difficult? Or would she dare it, be the woman she was, the warrior she was and fight for what she wanted. Her dark eyes dialed in on his. :: Sherana: =/\= I want you. =/\= :: Those three simple words meant more to him than anything he had ever done, than anything he had ever said. For a moment he wanted to throw back his head and scream out a cry of victory, instead he smiled, a small one true but one of pure happiness and joy as he replied back to her, asking the other question. Again one he hated to ask but knew he had to as it was the biggest hurdle preventing them from being together. :: Tel-ar: =/\= And the fact that we are so far apart? =/\= Sherana: =/\= No distance changes what I feel, it hasn't so far and it won't. =/\= Tel-ar: =/\= I agree. Somehow we can make it work. =/\= ----- Sherana Botanist USS Apollo-A simmed by LtCmdr Akeelah D'Sena First Officer USS Apollo-A Image Team Facilitator & Commander Tal Tel-ar Chief Security/Tactical Officer USS Doyle
  25. (( CMO's Office, Sick Bay, USS Doyle, Deck 5 )) :: Jalana had come to Sick Bay to check it out, out of curiosity of the Luna Class facilities, but she had found so much more. Selene, one of the medical officers had been familiar to her from the first word, the first glimpse onto her face. She looked just like her best friend Sundassa, just with hair and eyes changed into a different colour and a little older. Jalana had seen it right away and called her out on it. While Selene had not admitted it right away, she had done that eventually. Now they sat in the CMO's office to talk. Jalana needed to know more than knowing that she had come from the future, that would never happen. :: :: Selene sat on the desk, now that they were able to talk, and privately without anyone else hearing, a part of her wanted to go back to how they interacted with one another all those years ago. :: Faranfey: You said you're Rajel, I suppose that means you got joined, congratulations! Rajel: ::Smiling:: Thank you. It happened just yesterday. Slipstream drive is a fantastic invention, I tell you. What about you? How has your life been since we last met? Faranfey: You said it earlier, my past, the future everyone was supposed to have, no longer does. Rajel: ::Nodding she thought about that and leaned back slightly:: Since the time you are from is changed with you coming here.. I have to ask... Faranfey: About how things turned out for you, if things were any different? Rajel: Yes... I'm sorry, you must get those questions all the time. But if your Jalana is anything like me, you know that I am curious to know. Faranfey: Well, I suppose there isn't any harm. :: She paused and looked at the ceiling as she remembered all those years ago. It was a time when she was happy too. :: Well, I was the maid of honor at her's and Viktor's wedding, Andy was the best man. She was a bit nervous, every bride seems to be, but she handled it with grace. She was my rock for so long, and then she stood by me when I said my vows to Andy. :: She reached under her collar to pull out the locket she wore, twisting it in her hands. :: Viktor worked closely with Andy, as head of the Marines. :: She paused, she couldn't help but think about what they were working on, the Hunger had started their invasion just shortly after her friend got married, forcing her to push up her own day as well. :: :: Listening to what Selene told her, sent a little stab into her heart. So the other Jalana had eventually married Viktor, who had been head of the Marine group on board the Apollo. Well he had been here too, but they never got to marry. Instead he had killed his father and some other guys and had landed in jail. She had never had that life she'd dreamed about, being happy with the love of her life. It was painful and she fought against the emotions welling up in her. She had to find a kind of solace in it, knowing that at least Selene's Jalana was happy. :: Rajel: And I ... she... did she stay as CMO on the Apollo? Faranfey: Actually, she was Assisted CMO, within days of Andy and I getting married, she announced she was pregnant, or was it later that night. It was so long ago. But she told me she wanted me to be an honorary Aunt, and that she wanted to step down from CMO, which was actually perfect, considering Starfleet was after me for my own Command, but I wasn't wanting to leave the Apollo. Transitioning me to CMO allowed us to work closely together again. :: She gave Jalana a bittersweet smile, she was going to be an honorary Aunt, and everything changed after that. :: How about you and Vik? I take it you aren't together anymore... :: Something about the expression when she was telling Jalana all this, made her suspect. :: :: She had been married and pregnant. Sun had married Andrus and they still worked together closely on Sick bay, which they did not too, but not as CMO and her Assistant. They were both medical officers. This other world sounded like the perfect place and she could not help to feel a bit jealous. :: Rajel: No, I am not any more. My and his life went a little different. ::Quickly she changed the subject back.:: Was she also joined? Faranfey: Yes, she was joined right after their engagement, they hopped on the opportunity because it was one of her desires. They prepped for it, and he was there for the surgery. He was so nervous, worried she'd be different, but when she woke up, while she had a bunch of new memories, the ones she cherished, were the ones tied to him, and you could still see it in her eyes, even when she woke that first time after. :: It tucked at her lips into a small smile listening to that. It was a little amusing to hear that Viktor had the same worries than Sundassa had. Sundassa was the one being with her during her joining and they had talked about the very same concerns on their way to it. She felt the all too familiar tingle in her nose, thinking that the other Jalana had him by her side, even though she would not want to miss Sundassa being there. This was so surreal. :: Rajel: Really? Interesting that so many things are the same like her meeting you or Viktor and the Apollo, but that there are still so many differences. I am sure they will miss you, now that you are gone. :: Selene looked down, they didn't miss her, she missed them. They were gone before she even left the timeline. Fractured memories of happiness. Because she was here, she changed so much, even when she passed, she didn't think she'd see them again, so she didn't even have that as comfort. Their reincarnations wouldn't even be the same. She was completely cut off from the life she had before the Hunger, all she could do, was hope that Sundassa didn't squander the chance she had, thanks to her. And, possibly create herself a little place to fit in, in this world. :: Faranfey: They can't miss me... :: Jal did not have to be an empath to see that she hit a nerve. She raised her hand and placed it on Selene's, holding it gently, she looked at the woman who was so much like Sun, just so much sadder. :: :: With her spare hand, she wiped away the tears the welled in her eyes, the talk of the past brought up both good and bad memories. The good tainted by the fact that they were taken away by the bad. :: Rajel: What happened? Faranfey: :: Looking up at her friend. :: They're :: her voice broke :: all gone, they were gone long before I came back. :: She took a deep breath, she had only told her past to Shel. And since then, she tried not to think about it much because after she got past the anger, that she had no target for anymore, all there was, was sadness. :: Rajel: :: She swallowed hard. The word could only mean one thing. Cold chills ran down her spine and her voice was a mere whisper:: How? Faranfey: There was a plague sweeping across the universe, they were called the Hunger... And they devoured everything in their sights. The Apollo was the first to go against them, and Viktor was on the front lines, he did it to protect us all, to try to keep his kid, her kid, from suffering at the hands of them. But, he was among the first of the Apollo's casualties. :: Jalana's throat closed up hearing the fate of Viktor. She knew in her mind that it was not her Viktor, but that did not matter. Her heart squeezed painfully in her chest, knowing that not only had he died, but he did to protect her, their child, and the Apollo. He had died for them, while her Viktor had killed. What had gone wrong? Could she have done anything to change their fate in this universe? She needed to breath, to stop thinking about that. She could not change the past, no amount of thinking about it could. :: Rajel: How... ::Her voice was croaky and she cleared her throat.:: How did you get away? And what happened with Jalana? Faranfey: When it was clear the Apollo was going to fall, Andy ordered me to be removed from the ship. I suspect he did the same for Jalana, but I never saw her again. Shortly after I was forcibly dragged from the ship, I had to watch it fly towards the Hunger's vessel and blow up. :: She wiped away more tears. :: They told me that it was a big win for us, as if that's a comfort to having everything torn from you. They didn't know that it was only delayed the inevitable. :: She closed her eyes, struggling to keep the tears at bay, as she told her friend what she suffered through. Her struggling was for nothing, because once her friend's arms were around her, the flood gates opened, the tears streaming down her face. :: ::Seeing her friend cry, took every chance she ever had in holding her own tears back. She had tried hard to ignore the tingle between her eyes, the blurry vision but now the salty proof dropped along her cheek that she had lost the fight. It was like she could feel Selene's loss, her pain. She had lost her husband, her best friend, her home. Nothing of that was left. :: :: But not only her loss. Jalana wondered what had happened to her, well her other her. What had happened to the child? To her symbiont? Was she the last host? Jalana was not able to say a word, her throat was choked up. She just held her friend's hand, closing her eyes as she tried to deal with that sadness washing over her. :: Faranfey: We thought it was over, there were a few skirmishes during the next few years, but we seemed to be fighting them off... But, we were wrong... Rajel: Wrong? ::She croaked between sniffles:: Faranfey: Around the same time as we finished the construction of the subspace amplifier, the Hunger reasserted their attacks, like they had been laying in wait for the perfect opportunity. My brother's ship was lost in the battle of Starbase 118, where we tried to pull enough ships together to fight them off. :: The ship she was on, wasn't able to be there, they had their own battle at the time, which left them broke and in need of repairs. While her brother was defending the station, alongside many other great ships, she was having to attend to infected crew members, and eventually put them out of their misery. Each death, she had registered in her mind as a death that the Hunger had to atone for. :: Rajel: I... I am so sorry, Sun. ::She whispered merely, for a moment addressing Selene by her real name, this did not feel like it was Selene's story, but the one of her best friend, just in another world.:: :: Selene's tone changed again, she got to the point of her story that didn't sadden her as much, it fueled her anger, and her tone reflected to show that. :: Faranfey: Jalana, I wished I could have been at that fight, at the time I was killing members of the crew that had been infected. I would have preferred to parish in a last stand, than have to kill people who were innocent. After the loss of my brother, I stopped feeling anything, except anger. The monsters stole everything from me, and I was set out to make them pay. We fought for years, a hunger-ling killed my CO and I took Command. While I wouldn’t have minded dying to be with those I lost, I wanted to make as many of them pay as possible. :: That Selene was here, made it clear that she had gotten through it. After everyone she had loved was gone, she still had survived. Making everyone pay back usually did not bring that with it. :: Rajel: What did change, that you managed to get out of that? Faranfey: I don't know, a little hope. I don't remember who, but someone researched everything they could about the Hunger, having discovered when they first showed up. I always wished they never existed, so I started thinking about what would happen if we could change everything. We didn't have anything to lose if it failed, we were mostly on our own, coming across scattered survivors, but almost everything was gone. My crew was on board, and we made our plans, trying to give ourselves the best shot at success, when we were attacked. At that point, we had to take our chances, make the jump and hope we succeeded. :: She listened to the story, completely pulled into it. The tears that had flown earlier were starting to dry, leaving salty traces on her cheeks. :: Rajel: And then? Faranfey: Our ship was under attack, we had killed a few of the hunger, my crew and I, our ship was in need of major repairs, but we didn't have time to debate, if we didn't take the chance, we would have lost it completely with the way they were coming after us. So I gave the order, and we slung the poor old Victory around the Class G4II sun. :: The rest of her story was in this time, they had plugged the hole for the Hunger, making sure they would never be able to invade. Which should have prevented her future from coming to light. Sun would have a happy life, but she was disappointed that Jalana didn't. :: Rajel: So... that is when you landed in this universe. You came to make sure it would not happen again. Faranfey: Yeah, I wanted to stop it before it started. No one should suffer that fate. :: Jalana nodded slightly. She could understand why Selene had done it, even though it might not have been inside the rules. Though she did not even know if the other Universe had the same rules. :: Rajel: You did not really expect to see me again, did you? :: The question kind of hurt, because she wasn't trying to avoid Jalana, maliciously. She wanted to keep their lives separate, it was the reason she didn't keep in touch with Jaxx, and she didn't reach out to their parents. She didn't want to take anything away from Sun. :: Faranfey: It's not that I didn't expect to, part of me hoped I would. But, I didn't want Sun to know, and the more people who were connected to her, that knew, the more people would have to lie to her. :: Jalana could not help but feel a little hurt. She interpreted what Selene said as if she would have never reached out for her, because of Sun. That was not what she expected to hear from her best friend. On the other hand, the woman in front of her was not her Sun. So she should just swallow that. She did not have any right to think, that any Sun from any other universe would ever make herself known to her. That Jal now knew she was here, had been a coincidence. :: Rajel: Why shouldn't Sun know? Faranfey: I just don't feel I should be taking anything away from her, this is her time. I had mine. Rajel: But you are here now, in this time. It will be hard to not cross paths. Faranfey: It's the reason I avoided the dinner, I would have loved to be there to see Shel get promoted... But I was shocked to see you both there at the dinner. ::That only confirmed that it had been an accident. Of course it was, what else? Nobody could have planned that.:: Rajel: Well you know her, she would not want to stay away for his promotion. And I could not let her go alone and return to the Apollo without her. :: Selene smiled, she knew Sun, it was the same reason she wanted to be there. Watching Shel get promoted was important. It stung that she didn't get to see it, but that was kind of her fault for not having told Sun sooner. :: Faranfey: I know. Rajel: ::She tilted her head slightly:: You are aware that now that I know you are here, I will have an eye on you, right? Faranfey: And when you say "have an eye on you", you aren't going to be spying covertly, are you? Rajel: ::laughing:: While we have a good Intel department, no I don't. I mean that I'll be checking up on you, make sure you are okay, calling you sometimes. You are here now, in this world. And in this world I am still around and plan to do so for a long time. :: That sounded reasonable, but she still didn't want to take anything away from Sun, even if she could have used having Jalana around to ground her all those years. :: Faranfey: As long as you have room for two of us, don't hold anything back from her though, she needs you. :: Her eyes watered a little again. :: I needed you too. Rajel: ::She squeezed Selene's hand:: I will always be there for her, she is my best friend. And I will be here for you too. I’ll just have to get used to calling you Selene, I guess. ::She paused slightly:: By not holding back... do you mean that she will hear about your existence? Faranfey: I imagine it's inevitable, if people are recognizing me, then it's bound to get back to her. But how exactly do you introduce yourself to yourself? Rajel: I can't really imagine. I guess a "Hi, I am you from the future" does not work very well. But it could be that the blow will be less if she hears about it from me or Shelther. That way she has time to figure out if she wants to see you or not. Faranfey: What if she can't handle the truth, the fact that Jaxx died, nearly tore me apart. Rajel: What if she CAN handle the truth? I cannot speak for her, but if there is one thing I can tell you, it is that 'What if's can hold you back to find happiness. You will never know before you try. :: Selene knew she was worrying herself over how Sun might react, but it was part of her mission, as she had come back from the future to spare her the same fate. :: Faranfey: I know. I'll have to figure it out, hopefully before you guys leave. But... Speaking about holding back, I think I have a guy who is waiting for me at this point. I don't remember the last time I was asked out... ::For a moment she wondered what Selene meant, but then she remembered Bishop and that he wanted to get drinks with her. She immediately jumped off the chair. :: Rajel: Oh yes! Bishop. I completely forgot. What are you still doing here like we're having a tea party, go get him. Faranfey: Whoa. :: She paused and looked at her friend, curious about the sudden reaction. :: Rajel: I have no idea where that came from. ::She laughed and then shook her head.:: Enjoy your date. And if I do not see you before we leave, I'll call once we are back on the Apollo. Faranfey: At this point, I know the door is open, so feel free to contact me, and I'll do the same. I'll also let Shel know that you know. :: Jalana stepped forward and wrapped her arms around the taller woman, pulling her into a hug. She held her for a moment and smiled. :: Rajel: Have fun. Faranfey: If I can remember how to. :: Selene smiled back, before exiting the Chief Medical Officer's office. While the conversation was a bit heavier than she expected, she knew at some point she had to get it all off her chest. She wondered if her PADD still was around, or if the DoTI had destroyed it, all those messages she made for Jalana, not knowing if she were alive or dead, being stored. Hopefully they hadn't gotten through the encryption. :: :: Now Selene had a man who had tracked her down to confront her, and then to ask her out, to find. Hopefully the rest of the evening wasn't going to be as emotional as the last couple hours. :: ---- LtCmdr Jalana Rajel Medical Officer USS Apollo-A simmed by LtCmdr Akeelah D'Sena Acting CO USS Apollo-A Image Team Facilitator And PNPC Lieutenant Selene Faranfey Medical Officer Simmed by: Captain Shelther Faranster Commanding Officer USS Doyle-A, NCC-80221-A Assistant Statistician, Starbase 118 Academy
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