Jump to content

Time until Halloween Avatar Contest closes. Get in costume now!

The Halloween Avatar Contest has closed! We'll announce the winners next week! 

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

Ens. Serren Tan - The Value of a Moment Unshared, Pt II


Recommended Posts

(( Bunker under Predator Paddocks, Asteroid Trueno, Bratax System ))

Quinn Reynolds had crept up on them -- or perhaps he just wasn't listening -- with a grace that should not have been surprising. She rounded the corner with one hand wrapped around her chest, shoulders hunched. Splattered in mud from head to foot, soaked with rain, sweat, injured and bleeding, having been in an overturned car and then chased down by a dinosaur, yet seemingly escaped mostly unharmed.

Emphasis on the mostly. Reynolds was probably in the worst shape that any of the three Tans had ever seen her in. He couldn't imagine her looking worse; she seemed as though she'd been thrown in a tumble-drier full of rocks, pulled out by wild horses who had subsequently dragged her through the galaxy's muddiest paddock and unceremoniously dumped in a drinking trough. Her hair stuck to her uniform, weighed down with mud, the dark brown making stark contrast against her skin. Her arm wrapped around her side. He could, once more, smell blood, a new source that made his nostrils twitch.

For someone he'd never spoken to before, nor seen much of during the ride in the car except for a view of the back of her head, hair blown about by the breeze, she was as much a stranger as to him as she was an old, familiar friend. Someone who had been there for him during...

 

(( FLASHBACK: Sickbay, USS Garuda, Six Years Ago ))

A light chemical push. Alleran felt it as a real, physical thing; an intrusion into his sleep, forcing him awake. Forcing him to live. Open his eyes.

It wasn't truly living with half a mind -- unjoined Trills were perfectly capable at any task they set their minds to, really -- but after years of having two brains, it certainly felt that way. The world was sluggish, dull, and had a strange unrealness to it; as though the dream, and the Otherplace was the reality.

A shadowy figure stood above him. Alleran's eyes had not yet adjusted to the light.

Alleran: Mum?

Reynolds: Not quite.

Oh. Through the fog came emotions; strong and raw. Embarrassment was one of them.

Alleran: Hey.

Perched on a stool by his bedside, she smiled at him, an expression worn and ragged around the edges. She looked pale and tired, strands of mousy brown hair falling limply about her face.

Reynolds: How are you doing?

Alleran: Oh... you know. Stuff. ::he managed a lopsided smile:: Dying.

::She tried to reply, but there seemed no words to express what she was feeling. Instead, she breathed a deep sigh, and nodded.::

Alleran: It's not so bad, really. I dunno. I'd always imagined I'd go in a... some kind of crash. Something dramatic. Lots of fire. Not like this. I don't think anyone really imagines it this way either. Just sort of... slowly fading away, and then one day, falling right over. Not everyone gets a dramatic send-off, I suppose.

Reynolds: ::Quietly,:: No, they don't.

He smiled -- strongly, more genuinely now.

Alleran: I'm glad you're here. From the academy to the end, huh. There's a... pleasant symmetry to all this. I like symmetry.

Reynolds: It's symmetrical for you, Alleran. Me, I just get to watch another friend die.

Her voice cracked toward the end, and she looked away, taking a slow, deep breath. Yeah. He had buried friends too. It was never easy.

Alleran: Yeah.

She shook her head, looking back at him and forcing a smile.

Reynolds: I'm going to miss you.

That felt good. To know he was going to be missed.

Alleran: I’m going to miss you too. A lot. ::a pause:: And I mean, well... I’ll still be here. Kind of. It’s complicated.

Reynolds:: :She nodded.::I can imagine. I have a hard enough time just dealing with my own crap, let alone a couple of extra lifetime's worth from other people.

Alleran: It would depend on the wants and desires of the new host, although it won’t be just up to them. There’s a whole host of emotions and feelings in there all mixed in together. Sometimes there’s a really desperate need to reconnect with the past host’s life -- something that’s very problematic and fraught with all manner of risk -- and sometimes... well. Sometimes they just want to get away from it all. I can’t promise anything.

Reynolds: Is there anything you need? Anyone I can contact for you?

It sounded really stupid, but Alleran had really only one request.

Alleran: Make sure you come to my funeral. It sounds stupid, but Marlee -- my previous host -- well, she was something of a bitter workaholic misanthrope, which is easy for me to say now that she’s killing me. Accordingly, well, it was pretty empty when they put her in the ground. Couple of her old students. Some distant family members there because that was expected of them, just boredly waiting for the service to end.

She winced. He reconsidered.

Alleran: Actually, hell with that. No service. Just a big party. Lots of booze. Fun.

Reynolds: One drunken wake on short notice. I'm sure I can organise that.

He managed a little laugh.

Alleran: Thanks. I’ll be kicking around for a while yet. Couple of days, maybe, on the outside.

She nodded, her gaze dropping. He seemed to remember something.

Alleran: Oh. And if the new host gets here, make sure that you check that they’re not crazy first. Who knows who they’ll send this far out. They might not have that many options.

Reynolds: You might not want me vetting potential hosts. ::Her smile briefly returned.:: I suspect none of them would be good enough.

That actually made him feel really, so much better about the whole thing. Just the idea that someone was going to look out for him.

Alleran: Okay. I know you’re busy. I think I’m good here. Biobed’s nice and comfy. ::he smiled:: Take care, okay? I’ll be back soon... more or less.

Reynolds: Call me, if you need anything. Anything at all, alright?

Alleran: Yeah. Will do, for sure.

She tried to say something else as she slid off the stool -- a goodbye, perhaps -- but for the second time in short while, words failed her. Instead, her hand found his, and after a brief, firm squeeze, she was on her way.

 

(( Present ))

It was not his memory. The symbiont had been extracted by that point. Unlike every other interaction they'd had, the words they had shared at that moment, on Alleran's deathbed, were something of a mystery to him. Serren had only the third-hand knowledge that she had seen him post-extraction as his body was dying, that they had talked as long as Federation medical science had let them, and that the decks of the Garuda had shaken with one hell of a wake. The rest...

The rest was now only known to Quinn Reynolds. A little piece of Alleran Tan that she, and only she, possessed. From the first moment he had been joined, the symbiont had absorbed the entire life experience of Alleran Mapak until that point. The symbiont knew Alleran as a baby. Saw him grow up. The symbiont had felt its first host, Marlee Tan, die and seen her body with Alleran's eyes. It knew everything he knew, everything he had ever known. For every other moment since had been a wiggly little tape recorder in his belly, dutifully noting down everything he saw and said, everything he'd felt, and making those experiences part of its own -- etching them into the permanent history of the Trill species, a living cultural artifact of his species.

Trill understood the value of memories. The Tan symbiont had so many, a lifetime of memories in Marlee, and everything Alleran had known was now part of Serren. Each was precious.

He had memories of Idril Mar, that bold Trill Engineer turned Fleet-Captain. Of Jhen Thelev, that tea drinking mentor and idol, who once let him sit in the command chair of the USS Tiger. Of Karynn Brice, the friend who had helped him through so much pain. Of Danny Wilde, his friend on the Independence-A. Of Della Vetri, the bold Trill Captain for much of his career, who he missed so much. Of Kira Venroe, who he had loved so hard for so long, and entertained wild notions of getting married to. Of T'Lea, the fiery half-Romulan who he thought of as a dear friend. Of sh'Shar, that idiot Andorian he felt so strangely about. Of Tenzin Zhou, the Trill who might well, one day, have become Tenzin Tan. Of Doctor Skyfire, who had tried so hard to save Alleran's life. Of Tracey Townson, the one-handed Canadian who could kick harder than anyone he'd never known. Of Zinna, who had helped him adjust to life on DS-17. Of Toni Turner and Tallis Rhul, friends on the Ronin, who had helped him on Devinon V. Of David Whale, who had sheared off one of the nacelles on the Indy during Operation: Bright Star. Of S'Acul, his helmsman friend and drinking buddy. Of Marari, the half-borg Vaadwaur who had become, in the end, after crossing blades with him more than once... one of his friends. And all of the absolute mountains of everything that had happened with Sidney Riley. The joyous love and a child shared between them, the latter lost, the former turned to bitter ashes. The best of times and the worst of times. Life and love, loss and hate. All dutifully recorded, stored, integrated.

And others. Everyone in Alleran's life was shared. From his earliest childhood memories to dying in a turbolift. Every kiss he'd ever shared, every punch he'd thrown, every time he'd ever loved or hated or laughed or cried, recorded forever, an eternal record that could potentially last a thousand years. It would be there long after everyone he had ever known had turned to dust.

Those memories were part of Serren now.

Everything except those few scant minutes aboard the Garuda.

Alleran's death had been the only private conversation that host had ever truly had. Serran hadn't experienced it. Safine hadn't experienced it. Nobody else ever would. Only Quinn.

Now here she was.

Shorter than he remembered -- Alleran was a foot shorter than Serren, and taller than Safine too -- although not in any way diminished. She still carried the same strength, the same presence, filling a room.

He was seeing her now through three sets of eyes, three lives, three opinions, three sets of memories and personalities all with their biases and complications and twists and preferences and tastes and opinions and thoughts.

Despite their current predicament, and her current condition, Serren could only think one thing.

Quinn Reynolds looked as strong, as brave, as wickedly intelligent, and as blindingly beautiful as the day he had met her.

Symbionts had no ears. No eyes. No senses at all. They were just gross worms in a little pouch, nestled in amongst other organs, parasiting nutrients and providing cognitive function in return. In their natural state, they could only communicate through electro-static discharges, transmitting vague emotions and thoughts through the sacred Caves of Mak'ala.

They had no eyes. Symbionts couldn't cry.

But if they could...

Reynolds pressed a kiss to the top of her son's damp head, a simple action that bought him back to the moment.

No time to reminisce about the past. About lives lived and gone. There were still stompy-chewy-eat-y things out there. He still had a job to do.

Reynolds: A hug? Things must be dire.

He tried, so very hard to keep his voice professional, to maintain a business-y air, one that belied the tumultuous writing in his mind. But his voice came out with a little crack in it that betrayed him.

Tan: It's... very good to see you again, sir.
 
A sentiment the others might well have shared, but one which, to him, carried with it the weight of a lifetime of friendship.
 
And fortunately, this time, Alleran didn't... betray him as he had with Safine. Quinn was "sir". Safine had called Quinn "ma'am" when they had first met. Because the treacherous worm in her belly, the part of it that was Alleran, had withheld that information. She blamed the neural blocker, of course, but Serren knew better.
 
For some reason, chemical or otherwise, the symbiont had not liked Safine. It liked Serran. 
 
Picky little grub.

Marshall/Cayne: Response

Dylan clung to his mother and Serren could hardly blame her. He gave a little nod the kid's way, just enough to say, you did good, you did real good.
 
Reynolds: I think I have T-Rex scales debossed on my ribs, but otherwise I'm all right. ::Hazel eyes travelled over them.:: What about you three? What's this about someone passing out?
 
Serren smiled Cayne's way. He didn't want to speak for her, but he also understood she was still a bit shakey.
 
Tan: The good doctor was more injured than originally suspected when the vehicle rolled over. She lost consciousness for a moment, but not to worry, Marshall's patched her up.

Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds: Response

Reynolds: We have to move, but we can take it slow for a while. There's some doors and a crossroads up ahead, helpfully without any signage whatsoever. If this is an emergency bunker, there should be some supplies and if we're particularly lucky, a map. Let's see what we can find?

Tan: My thoughts exactly, sir. Mister Pointy and I will take the lead, with your permission.

Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds/Reynolds: Response

A moment was spent picking up their medical supplies, and he threw his bloody, mud-splattered jacket over his shoulder. With the spear held snug in both hands, keeping an alert eye as he moved into the indicated corridor, Serren carefully stepped through the dank, musty tunnels, glad to be ahead. It meant he couldn't smell the blood.
 
Forward, forward. Carefully but not too slowly, Serren strode through the corridors at a somewhat-slower than normal pace. They didn't have a dinosaur at their back any more, and they were all various states of wounded.
 
He had landed on something, or someone, who had cushioned his fall. Now the adrenaline had faded, he suspected it was Cayne.
 
A minor little stab of guilt, one best distracted with a snide comment.
 
He turned and regarded Quinn over his shoulder, the ghost of a smile on his face, as though sharing an in-joke.
 
Tan: So. "Frank Reynolds", huh. ::beat:: Really?
 
Reynolds: Response
 
He only smiled and went back to his job.
 
Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds: Response  
 
It wasn't far until they came upon a door, as promised. Serren leaned in to inspect it. Ferengi had been known to sometimes booby-trap their precious goods or private areas, but rarely their unsigned escape bunkers. Still, he gave it a once over, just to be sure.
 
Not that there was much to see. A steel door, flecked with rust, and a glowing pad beside it.
 
Tan: Ready?
 
Anyone: Response
 
He touched the open button.
 
The door creaked and shuddered, as though it had not been opened in some time, then slid into the floor, retracting away with the high-pitched whine of metal on metal. The corridor beyond stretched into the promised crossroads. A passage to the left, to the right, and straight ahead, that one similarly with a door.
 
Serren looked to the ranking officers.
 
Tan: Which way, sirs?
 
Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds/Reynolds: Response
 
Nodding his acknowledgement, Tan headed to the left, speartip leading the way. The tunnel curved at right angles, as though navigating around some subterranean obstacle--maybe a huge rock that was too big to move--then it broadened, coming out to a small area with two sets of bunk beds built into the corridor, and a number of small cupboards, similarly unmarked.
 
A quick once-over found nothing amiss.
 
Tan: Clear.

Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds/Reynolds: Response 
 
Something caught his nose. More blood. But this was different... older. Rustier. It did not carry the scent of any of their group.
 
Tan: Wait. Wait...
 
Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds/Reynolds: Response   
 
He crouched by one of the bunks, pulling back the sheets. The lower sheet was stained with dark Ferengi blood, right about where the heart would be on a person sleeping on it. The centre of the stain was burned in, as though someone had shot an energy weapon right--
 
Tan flinched and looked away. At least there were no bodies. But that did raise the question... where did the bodies go?
 
Tan: I think this is a...medical station. Of some sort. Or possibly a rest area for the staff, I don't know. Either way something terrible happened here. ::he thought for a moment:: Still. Could be something useful in those cupboards, though?
 
Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds/Reynolds: Response
 

-- 

Ensign Serren Tan
Security/Tactical
USS Gorkon
O238704AT0
  • Like 2
Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.