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Lt. Cmdr. T’Lea & Lt jg Rune Jolara: Full Circle


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((USS Avandar, Quarantine Quarters A))

:: She hadn’t moved in hours.::

:: As if locked in a coffin, T’Lea laid motionless on her cot with her hands folded across her stomach, and her eyes closed. A breath was taken every two or three minutes, which made her look dead between the rise and fall of her chest.::

:: Meditation was the only thing that quelled the burning rash plaguing her skin. Dark green discoloration had spread up her neck and the side of her face. The doctor had given her a cream to soothe the irritation, but all she could say about that was that it smelled weird – like plastic and mold. For all she knew, that’s exactly what it was.::

:: Rune had left the holo-deck in search of T'Lea as soon she reported to the Captain what she and Sylkar had found on the holo-vid. It of course hadn't been hard to locate the Commander but Rune was a little surprised at the condition she found her in. Was this why she was in quarantine? She silently watched for a few minutes before hitting the comm-button. ::

Jolara: Commander... ::no answer... Raising her voice:: Commander T'Lea.

:: The Romu-vulc in her deep, almost trance-like state of meditation knew there was another presence nearby even before the comm. squawked with a voice. It was the Counselor. Not somebody she wanted to see, and not somebody that T’Lea wanted to see like this, a splotchy green mess.::

:: Had she not been so embedded in Vulcan-mode she would have impolitely told the woman to go frak herself, but instead, the hybrid remained immobile on her hard cot, eyes closed.::

T’Lea: Counselor. What may I do for you?

:: Getting an answer to that question would tell her a lot. Had Vetri sent her? Was this business? Personal? Or more punishment?::

:: T’Lea’s voice was smooth and calm. It was kind of creepy the way she just laid there looking all blotchy and dead, except for the talking part.::

Jolara: ::no hesitation:: Actually, I wanted to see how you were doing and if there was anything I could do for you.

:: Normally her response would have been, “Yeah, you can get me the hell out of here,” but the inner calm she’d reached was dominating the other T’Lea, the emotional half.::

T'Lea: There is nothing to be done.

:: Literally. Nothing. At all. To be. Done.::

:: Her response wasn't exactly what Rune had expected but she didn't move. ::

Jolara: I must admit, you have looked better.

T'Lea: Indeed.

:: Rune was quiet. She had never seen T'Lea act like this before so it took her a moment to decide how to proceed. ::

Jolara: Is it from being infected?

T’Lea: No. The chemicals that were used in the decontamination processes caused a skin irritation.

:: Rune tilted her head slightly. A skin irritation? ::

Jolara: It looks to be more than that. Does it hurt?

T’Lea: It is painful.

:: By now Rune should have realized that T’Lea was riding the Vulcan truth-train. Everything the Counselor asked got a straight forward answer. The question was, would she take advantage of that, and would T’Lea let her.::

Jolara: oOShe is definitely not herself.Oo Has medical treated it or given you anything for the pain?

T’Lea: They did. A cream. ::flat:: Its odor is odd.

:: That was all she could say about that – as the medicinal properties had yet to take effect.::

Jolara: Has it helped?

T’Lea: Not presently. No.

:: It would take a day or two for the cream to saturate the skin enough to correct the cause of the rash.::

:: Without warning, T’Lea sat up on her cot, in an almost a robotic fashion. She planted her feet firmly in front of her, and rested her hands on the edge of the cot. With a ramrod straight posture, she lifted her line of sight toward the portal in the door and saw Rune’s blonde head occupying the window.::

:: Rune didn't show any reaction to T'Lea's movements, though she was very concerned about her odd behavior... At least to her, it was odd behavior. Since T'Lea was half Vulcan, it would make sense she was capable of acting like one. Was that it and Rune just hadn't seen it to this extent before? ::

T’Lea: Did the Captain send you?

Jolara: ::no hesitation:: No. She doesn't even know I'm here.

:: Of course not. What would be the point of solitary confinement if the Captain sent a visitor. Oh right, sending the Counselor was probably part of the punishment, since she knew how much the hybrid hated head-shrinks. Only, the Captain hadn’t sent Rune, so that meant… Hmm… exactly what did it mean?::

T’Lea: I do not… oOunderstandOo… Then why are you here?

:: If the Captain didn’t send her to torture her, then why was Rune there? They weren’t exactly friends.::

Jolara: ::faint smile:: I was concerned and wanted to check on you myself.

:: Not sure what to make of that, T’Lea rose from her cot and approached the window in the door to further study Rune’s sincerity. Once she was satisfied with her evaluation, the Vulcan hybrid lifted an eyebrow of consent.::

T’Lea: You have questions. Ask them.

Jolara: I'm curious. Why did you disobey a direct order not to beam to the surface?

:: It was something an Al-Leyan would never do... well almost never. After all, it was what Rune had done when she refused to return to her homeworld. Except the difference there was, Rune's disobedience was to save herself. She was certain that had not been T'Lea's motivation. ::

T'Lea: I have multiple reasons. Why does it matter? What is done, is done?

Jolara: As I said, I'm curious. I would like to understand why.

T’Lea: Very well. I did not believe the Captain had the emotional fortitude to order me into harm’s way, even though it was required. I disobeyed her orders because I was the only one that could, and I was the only one that could do what needed to be done on the surface.

Jolara: What makes you think you are the only one who could salvage the gateway?

T’Lea: That was not my original intention. I went there to destroy it.

:: Again, that wasn't at all what Rune had expected to hear. ::

Jolara: You wanted to destroy it?

T’Lea: You witnessed the consequences that Iconian technology can bring if it is reactivated. Whole worlds die, and I will do whatever it takes to secure our future so that my children do not have to face whatever destructive force 12 Deities unleash.

:: By the end of her statement she’d lost a little bit of her Vulcan cool, and showed a hint of fear for her family’s well-being.::

Jolara: Yet you did not destroy it.

T’Lea: How could I destroy the one thing that may hold the answer to what happened to the away team? You were on the bridge when I suggested we fire upon the storm. I went down there because I had to see for myself what I had done. Della needed to know that it wasn’t her fault. She needed answers and I needed to make sure that nothing like this ever happened again.

Jolara: We all know the risks of being out here. It was not either of your's fault. You made the best decision you could, given the information we had.

:: Rune contemplated what she was about to say next. ::

Jolara: Would this have anything to do with Eden?

:: It was a reach, but considering Cmdr Tan's reaction to their initially finding the crashed shuttle, Rune had to wonder. ::

:: The Romu-vulc gently shoved off the door she’d been leaning against and paced the floor a few steps. Did it have anything to do with Eden? What a stupid question. They were two completely unrelated things. The answer was no, of course.::

T’Lea: I spent ten years as Della’s First Officer on Eden. Ten years of watching her bear the burden of thousands of dead crewmen.

Jolara: Captain Vetri seems to have put that behind her. Is that not the case?

:: Of course, Rune knew she hadn't. ::

T’Lea: She would have you think that. I would have you think that as well. I know I have stated that everything that happened on Eden was inconsequential to our reality, and technically it is true, but in here ::she pointed at her heart:: it is not. We lived the story of other people’s lives, of their deaths, betrayals and tragedy. Was it somebody else’s story? Yes. But it was still *us*. We lived it like it was the truth, and that is illogical and incorrect. It should not effect us in this reality.

:: Well, this wasn’t how T’Lea had expected the conversation to go, but here she was facing Eden once again, and with Rune looking on.::

Jolara: Perhaps it wasn't physically real, but mentally and emotionally everything you all experienced was very real. Very real and traumatic. From what little I have seen, none of you have dealt with it.

:: The AI-Leyan was more observant than she’d let on during her time here. Or perhaps, those that experienced Eden were not as good at hiding their problems as they thought.::

:: The Romu-vulc walked over to a wall and stared at the blank surface as she spoke her next words. It was easier to talk to the wall than face Rune.::

T’Lea: Ten years I was Della’s caregiver. She went through ten years of being blind, did you know that? It killed me to watch her struggle with it. I did everything I could to make sure she was safe, but it wasn’t good enough. People mutinied. We all died in the end.

:: She turned to face Rune, not caring what came out of her mouth for once.::

T’Lea: It was my job to carry out Vetri’s orders, and to make certain that others followed her orders. I was her First-[...]-Officer for ten years, and when it was over, when we all woke up from the nightmare… Dickens was promoted to Commander, and everything I sacrificed for the Captain and the crew was swept aside like it didn’t matter. Hell, I even managed to convince myself that it didn’t matter. ::knitting her brow:: But it did. And it’s bullsh*t. And I’m angry about it.

Jolara: Why did you step aside and not say anything?

T’Lea: What I want and what Starfleet wants for me are two different things.

Jolara: What do you mean?

T’Lea: I am not command material, Counselor. I cannot be trusted with power. I have a history of killing people, and I am certain Starfleet frowns on that type of behavior.

Jolara: ::continuing with her rapid fire questions:: I don't believe I found any mention of you killing anyone while under your command.

:: There was a list of dead people under her command… just not while she was in Starfleet. Except one. One woman. One scientist. Her protégé. But it was easy for that kill to slip through the cracks, probably due to the way Vetri worded the report to Starfleet.::

T’Lea: Did you know I had one real mission as First Officer after the Eden incident? Lt. Blackwood died under my command, on my away team. I get people killed, Counselor. It’s what I’m good at. I either put them in the ground, or I dig them up to study them. But if I am not even allowed to be an archaeologist, to do my job… then why am I here? Am I anything to this crew other than the Captain’s bond-mate and general nuisance? Do I have a purpose here? Do I have a goal?

:: It was a question she had been avoiding for a while. What was she doing with her career? Was this it? Did she want to be stuck a Lieutenant Commander forever? Could she live with that? Should she be doing more in the field of archaeology? Would joining a civilian operation serve her better?::

:: Rune showed absolutely no outer reaction. She couldn't help thinking how ironic this conversation was going. Yet, T'Lea was finally opening up to her... something she had been trying to get the Romu-Vulc to do since they first met. ::

Jolara: Have you spoken to the Captain about any of this?

T’Lea: I can’t talk to Della about this. She would take it the wrong way. She would harbor guilt and think that she’s stifling my career, which isn’t true at all.

Jolara: Why are you here?

T’Lea: I’m here for Della. I’m here because my love and commitment to her outweighs anything I want for myself-- ::she suddenly paused, and then scowled deeply:: Oh, frell…

:: By now she had walked herself back to her cot where she rubbed her hands over her face in frustration and dropped down onto the bed.::

Jolara: So in a way you do feel she has stifled your career?

T’Lea: No, it’s not that. It may be possible that some of the motivation behind disobeying her orders was to sabotage my career. To end it. Incredibly stupid, right?

:: Rune shook her head. ::

Jolara: How long have you been searching for Iconian... artifacts?

:: What an odd question, thought T’Lea. She raised an eyebrow that said as much, but took a moment to calculate her history.::

T'Lea: I was raised by my Uncle. Zadok was an archaeologist whose primary study was on the Iconians. We traveled extensively in pursuit of their knowledge. It is something that I have been around all my life.

Jolara: Making you an expert on the subject, correct?

T'Lea: I am one of the few who have the most hands-on experience with the technology.

:: Where exactly was the Counselor going with this, she wondered.::

:: The only way to find out was to follow Rune’s lead and see where it went.::

Jolara: How did it make you feel when Lt. Anora was chosen for the away team instead of you?

:: She looked away at the far wall. She knew the answer to that question immediately, but hesitated to reveal it. Inside her head there was a mini-war taking place. A war between Vulcan indifference and Romulan pride, but eventually the latter won out.::

T'Lea: ::flatly:: Insignificant.

:: That was a polite way of putting it. A few, more colorful phrases were running around in her head.::

Jolara: Much the same way you felt while First Officer on Eden. And once again, all you have worked so hard for was simply brushed aside as if it didn't matter.

:: T’Lea didn’t say anything. She simply looked down at the floor in front of her feet. It was difficult to respond while being exposed to… well, *herself*. At that moment it was like Rune could see straight through her tough exterior, and had uncover the suppressed emotions that even T’Lea could not bear to shed light on.::

:: It would take a few minutes for the Vulcan hybrid to recover from this “awakening”. Luckily the Counselor continued.::

:: The entire time, Rune never took her eyes off the Romu-Vulc. ::

Jolara: But it does matter. This time you couldn't just step aside. This time maybe you could take away the guilt both you and Della were feeling by helping to bring back four lives you thought you were responsible for taking.

:: T’Lea suddenly really wished for Rune to shut up because it was increasingly difficult to listen to her helpful nature, a.k.a. the truth.::

T'Lea: Your words are logical, but do nothing to correct the situation that I have created.

:: Stonewalled by a Vulcan. By now Rune should be used to this side of T’Lea.::

:: Rune leaned forward and smiled. ::

Jolara: They are alive, T'Lea. According to the holo-vid *you* retrieved, they fell through what we believe is a gateway just before the moon was hit.

:: The Romu-vulc slowly lifted her head as each word was absorbed by a brain cell, until finally the woman was standing on her feet, and right in front of the only window in the room.::

T'Lea: Do you have their location?

:: She had hope.::

Jolara: We aren't exactly sure yet.

:: [...]. There had to be a way to be "exactly sure", but there was nothing T’Lea could do to help by being stuck in here. She rolled her shoulder away from the door, and disappeared out of Jolara’s view.::

T'Lea: Thank you, Rune, for this.

:: For stopping by, for listening to T’Lea rant, for helping her figure out her own emotions, for sharing information about the holo-vid.::

T'Lea: Your company is appreciated.

:: Even though T'Lea couldn't see her, Rune smiled. ::

Jolara: You are welcome and I don't think I ever thanked you. ::Before T'Lea could ask:: For saving my life when we ended up on the Rubari ship and again when we landed in the ocean. ::grinning:: Even if you did want to kill me. ::beat:: Anyhow, get some rest. I'll let you know when we find them.

:: With that, Rune walked away without giving T'Lea a chance to say anything else.::

---

Lt. Cmdr. T’Lea
H&A Specialist
USS Avandar

and

Lt jg Rune Jolara
Counselor
USS Avandar

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