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Lt. Cmdr. Alleran Tan - The Broken Mirror


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(( The Otherplace ))

:: Where did people go when they die? ::
:: Philosophers from every species had asked this question for years. For Tan, it had always been this place. ::
:: It had no real name. The Graveyard of Dreams. The Otherplace. It had whatever label was most appropriate to it at the time. ::
:: A simple cottage, in a dark wood, surrounded by grass and trees. ::
:: Hell. ::

Alleran: Why are you doing this?
:: He was seated in a warm, comfortable rocking chair, nestled up by the fire. It crackled and popped as Trill honeywood burned away, bathing the entire building in a warm, aromatic fragrance. ::
:: Marlee -- aged and wrinkled, as that was how she saw herself now she was dead -- sat in her chair, avoiding his gaze. She folded her hands in her lap. ::
Marlee: It's not me. It's you. You did it to yourself.
:: She turned to him and snarled, her face a feral visage. ::
Marlee: You were the one who hurt me!
:: Taken aback, Alleran could do nothing but gape. ::
Alleran: I didn't do anything to you!
:: She snorted derisively, dismissively. Her anger faded. ::
Marlee: Of course you would see it that way.
:: Alleran leaned forward in his chair, resting his chin in his hands. ::
Alleran: Tell me, then. Explain it to me. What did I do wrong?
:: Words didn't come. Tan slapped his hand on the chair's armrest. ::
Alleran: You need to tell me!
:: Finally, her answer came out in a croak. ::
Marlee: You're a broken mirror. Shards of soul all over the ground. It's better to leave you alone than hurt myself trying to fix you.
:: She looked away, unable to face him. ::
Marlee: I'm sorry. I'm just better off without you. I tried my best. I tried to make it work. But... the thing is, you can't be fixed. You're not a good host.
:: Alleran slumped back. ::
Alleran: So what?
Marlee: Pardon?
Alleran: So what if I'm a bad host? That I never went to the academy and I only got joined based on a random chance? Does it matter? Isn't the whole purpose of symbiosis to explore new things? You'll have a lifetime of perfect Academy graduates, chronic overachievers all of them, lining up to be a part of your life. Why not take one loser every now and then?
Marlee: Because that life is pain.
:: Simply stated but enigmatic. ::
Marlee: You're a dreamer, Alleran. You have hopes. Ambitions. Goals. Desires. Wants. But you lack the conviction to make them happen. You don't push hard enough. You want but you don't work. You're not prepared to accept delayed gratification and earn what you want. You're talented in your own way, but lazy. And that laziness -- that lack of achievement -- hurts me. I can't just spend your lifetime being some flyboy on a rusty, outdated ship out on the edge of nowhere, getting bumped from crew to crew, constantly repeating the same mistakes over and over. I can't do it anymore.
:: Alleran took offense at that. ::
Alleran: The Garuda is not rusty.
:: She glared at him with sour disapproval. ::
Marlee: That's exactly what I mean. You didn't listen to a word I said.
Alleran: I listened. ::he folded his hands behind his head:: I just didn't agree.
Marlee: Well... it doesn't matter anyway.
:: She relaxed into her couch and pointed out the window. Through the glass, fuzzy and indistinct, Alleran could see the world outside. The turbolift. The blood. ::
:: It was a false representation. Not the world through his eyes. He could see himself slumped in the corner, a dead thing, waiting for medical technology to bring him back to life, start his heart again, fill his lungs with air. ::
:: He'd open his eyes again. Speak to the others, for a time, crack a few jokes and say goodbye. He'd hang on as Alleran for a bit. ::
:: But not forever. ::
:: It was going to be painful. All of that. But he'd get over it. ::
:: The new host would help. A fresh voice to help out. ::
Alleran: So, it's you and me and whoever we get next, right?
:: Marlee rolled her old shoulders and, with careful deliberation, added another log to the fire. It swelled, sparks flying out, and then settled as the bark was consumed and the heat began to burrow deeper into the wood. ::
Marlee: You and me... and whoever we get next.
:: They watched the false world outside, together, everything silent except for the faint crackling of the fire. ::
TBC...
-----
Lt. Commander Alleran Tan
Chief of Navigation
USS Garuda
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