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Captain Reynolds and Doctor Saveron: Hole in the World


Alora DeVeau
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“There’s a hole in the world tonight,
There’s a cloud of fear and sorrow.
There’s a hole in the world tonight,
Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.” ~ The Eagles, Hole in the World

((Sickbay, Astrofori 1))

::The Security Officers stepped aside to let him pass and Saveron stepped into the isolation room that held the comatose Harrison Ross. Unlike Evan Delano, Ross had not regained consciousness, and his neural scans showed a greater degree of neural degradation; greater, and increasing.::

::He had studied the medical literature from his homeworld, the descriptions of how one assessed this type of damage, both using modern medical equipment and that deep telepathy that was so specific to his species. He had poured over instructions on how one healed this type of damage, though such instructions could only go so far, every mind was different. And he had, at the last, strengthened his own mental barriers and revised his mental self-defence training. The implanted personality of Harrison Ross was, by all accounts, not to be trifled with.::

::Not that he was here to fight. He was here to heal. Still, he carried with him a small, exquisitely carved crystal, his own katric ark, should the opportunity to somehow extract the infecting personality arise.::

::He had not encountered Harrison Ross following the awakening of his implanted personality; the Commander Ross in Saveron's memory was the cheerful and competent First Officer whom he had known over a year ago. The man he'd had described to him was a monster. The man laid prone on the biobed, a drip-line in his arm feeding him and the muscle wastage from disuse already apparent to the trained eye, was neither. As with many things, it was not the body, not the tool, that was the monster; it was the mind that drove it. Somewhere in there was that monster, and if Quinn and Evan were correct, so too was the good man that he had known.::

::Placing the crystal on the edge of the biobed, Saveron focused on it for a long moment, using it to centre himself, before transferring his gaze to Ross' face. Reaching out, long fingers touched his cheek, seeking out the neural nodes needed for the connection.::

Saveron: My mind to your mind….. oO My thoughts to your thoughts. Oo

::The wind hit him like a wall.::

::Gale-force, the scorching wind drove rust-coloured sands that stung the face, abraded the skin and made it almost impossible to breath. Falling to his knees in a protective crouch, arms over his head, Saveron found himself pressed into baked desert sands that smelled of home.::

Saveron: oO Vulcan? Oo

::Raising the cowl of the heavy robe that he wore here to protect his face and ears, he scuttled towards a pile of boulders half visible through the storm and worked his way in between two of them to shield himself from the driving wind. The impact of sand against stone was a constant hiss, and even as he watched the stone was being scoured away.::

Saveron: oO Why Vulcan? Oo

((Vulcan’s Force, Mindscape))

::Looking up, a great volcano towered over the boulder-strewn valley, and as he watched lightening struck it from a blackened sky. He knew that mountain; this was Vulcan’s Forge. Clearly Ross knew it too. The only indicator that this was a mindscape was the dim and sourceless ambient light.::

::Saveron had passed his kahs-wan in the Go-an Desert, half a world away, but the privations were similar. He didn’t doubt his ability to survive here, were this real. But it was not, it was a metaphor for the state of Harrison Ross’s mind; grim and slowly being torn apart. Yet the landscape was only the architecture of his mind; where was the personality? Or rather, personalities?::

::Focusing his concentration, The Vulcan tuned his mental shields and brought his telepathic defensive strategies to bear. This mindscape was a warzone, the enemy the environment itself. His robes wavered, appeared to undergo a moment of existential uncertainty, and solidified as a Vulcan Desert Soft Suit. With practiced moves he raised and sealed the hood and lowered the protective visor over his eyes, becoming a faceless shape in the shifting sands.::

::Raising his now gloved hands, a slim shape formed between them and extended, becoming a rauh-uhrozjhitao, a Nel Gathic farming tool consisting of a slim rod with a bulbous foot and a small, curved blade at the tip. Using it as a walking staff, Saveron set the foot into the shifting sands and stepped out into Vulcan’s Forge. Somewhere here was the heart of the damage, the heart of the storm. Somewhere here also was Ross.::

::Shapes ghosted in and out of the sandstorm, only ever in the corner of his eye, never presenting themselves clearly or within reach. Like ghosts or lost katras, seen only through the medium of blowing sand. Where they memories, shred of personality or something else? Saveron didn’t know. They were too tenuous for him to more than note their presence; whether or not that would change remained to be seen.::

::Sandstorms were not uncommon across Vulcan’s desert regions, though rarely with this degree of viciousness. One learned not to go out in them unless one had to, and when one needed to travel on foot, one walked with the wind. Having no more obvious direction to travel in, Saveron let the constant force of the wind push him as he walked the length of the stoney valley, watching and waiting for some hint of the reasons behind this maelstrom, the source of the damage.::

::The winds blew high up as well, scouring familiar cliff faces and carrying the sand in biting whorls. He could see their billows far ahead, yet as he watched he realised that the sand blowing across the furthest visible outcrop on his left was travelling in a slightly different direction. Looking to his right he saw the same phenomenon; unlike the surface of a real planet, here the winds were blowing towards one point.::

::He knew then that, whatever the extent of the damage, it’s core would be there.::

::A faceless figure in the Desert Suit, he trudged on through the deepening sand. How long he walked was entirely subjective; it might have been a heartbeat, or a lifetime. Timeframes didn’t apply to things that happened at the speed of thought. He knew that he drew closer however, for the angle of the wind was gradually steepening; the point of convergence lay ahead.::

::Cresting the top of a large dune, at last he saw it. The sand ran down and down into what once would have been a deep, sheltering hollow in the dune where one might rest out of the winds, but now the winds blew down the sand dunes to the bottom of the hollow, and through it, through the black space where there should have been only sand and stone.::

::There was a hole in the world.::

Ross: Why are you here?

::The mild voice came from behind him.::

::Ross was wearing traditional Vulcan funeral robes, his posture inoffensive, his hands hidden in the long, bell-like sleeves. Unaffected by the sandstorm, he stared at Saveron, his face an impassive mask any Vulcan would be proud of.::

::Turning slowly to look over his shoulder, Saveron recognised the representation of Harrison Ross; though which Ross was impossible to determine. His friend or the implanted personality? Or perhaps only the base on which both had been built?::

::Back to the wind, Saveron lifted the visor of his Desert Suit, pulled the front of the cowl away from his mouth. Unlike Ross he was not immune to the storm. Perhaps it was a reaction to the presence of another telepath, some attempt at self-defence? Ross would have been trained in such, though whether it could be employed unconsciously, Saveron could not know.::

Saveron: I am here to heal that which has been damaged, if I can. ::He indicated the dark void below with the end of his staff.::

::The other man took a few steps forward, peering down at the void.::

Ross: That is Mister Delano's handiwork. ::He paused.:: How is he?

Saveron: He is… conscious. ::He said eventually. Which Ross was he talking to?:: He regrets the event. Whether or not he also received damage is yet to be determined. ::He said simply.:: You did not escape so lightly. ::He observed.::

Ross: ::Mildly,:: I imagine there are some people very pleased by that.

::He was probably right, but the Vulcan doctor wasn’t here to take sides.::

Saveron: Will you permit me to attempt the repair?

Ross: I'd be a fool not to. ::He looked at Saveron, his gaze intent.:: You don't find the idea… disagreeable?

::The Vulcan shrugged slightly.::

Saveron: I am not here to lay blame or seek fault. One of you knew me. I am a doctor, my duty is to heal, without fear or favour. I shall do what I came to do, and then leave.

::It was a small smile that crossed Ross' face; the first outward display of emotion since he had appeared.::

Ross: Just that like that.

Saveron: Affirmative.

Ross: Well then. ::He gestured toward the chasm.:: By all means.

::The Vulcan nodded curtly, and turned his back to Ross’s avatar to survey the void below them once more. It was representative of the damage to the man’s mind, and he must feel carefully for the damaged threads, the broken links between synapses. He had studied Vulcan texts on the subject, but to his knowledge such had never been performed on a Terran.::

::First, he needed to seal the current damage, prevent any further unravelling. Taking his rauh-uhrozjhitao, the farmer’s tool that here was representative of his will, he walked the edge of the Void, prodding and pressing the sand with the blunt end of the farmer’s staff to pack it into a firmer, stronger wall at the edge of the hole, resembling nothing so much as a Vulcan farmer tending his field.::

::Rough edges of thought-paths were smoothed, ragged breaks eased or, where they could not be soothed, they were cut out, removed in such a way that they would be allowed to regrow, like an ulcerated wound cleaned of dead, infected tissue before it could heal.::

::Saveron knew that he could not heal all the damage, only Ross’s mind could do that, like his body would heal a wound. His purpose was to stop the destructive process, prepare the wounded areas to be receptive to that healing. In time Ross’s mind would heal itself.::

::Gradually, as the Vulcan worked, the edges of the void became firm rather than ragged, and the flow of sand into it ceased. The wind lowered gradually in intensity, though it did not abate, still scraping at the stone cliffs around them.::

::Pausing to look around, Saveron could see the damage that the scouring wind had done to the familiar cliffs and rock outcroppings; he could only hope that, in time, the mind’s natural healing processes would restore the structure of Ross’s mind to it’s former fullness. But that process still needed facilitating.::

::Beside him, Ross surveyed the damage with an equally impassive eye. Or was it? There was ever such a small frown tugging at the inner edges of his eyebrows.::

Ross: Evan really did a number on me, didn't he?

Saveron: The damage is… significant. ::The doctor agreed.:: I can provide some measure of scaffolding for the regrowth that must take place. ::He said.:: Beyond that, your mind must be allowed to heal itself.

Ross: Please, scaffold away.
::Reversing the farmer’s staff, Saveron used the small blade to draw lines in the air, starting at the edge of the sand and stretching out across the Void. Entirely counter intuitively, grains of sand and even small stones flowed in the wake of that blade, forming like tree roots across the blackness of the void.::

::Walking around the edge, the Vulcan doctor repeated his efforts, drawing lines of growth where synapse connections had been destroyed, mapping out the directions where Ross’s brain needed to re-grow its links, re-form the mind that had resided there. He could not build it himself, only facilitate the process, and that only so far. The rest would be up to natural healing processes.::

::Gradually a network of sand-trails formed, growing and thickening as the sand flowed, until at last they merged together, and where there had been a hole in the world, there was only a sandy depression. At last the gale winds faded to nothing more than the usual desiccating breeze that blew through this valley.::

::Above them, the cliffs were still sand-scoured and worn, different from reality. Would they also heal in time?::

::Ross was silent for a long time, looking about the quieter, changed landscape. His demeanour continued to echo that of the Vulcan healing his mind, and his funeral robes were gone, replaced by a desert suit.::

Ross: I feel... better. Thank you, Saveron.

::He ran his hand across his scalp. As his palm passed over the close-cropped blond locks, they changed to a longer, shining black -- very much like Saveron's.::

::The Vulcan had been about to nod, but paused when he saw the change take place. Ross was coming to closely resemble the Vulcan himself.::

Saveron: You are the implanted personality. ::He deduced.::

Ross: I wonder. Do you think Alora would be able to tell the difference?

::Similar tactics to those that prompted Evan’s outburst; referring to those with whom the victim was close, to upset their equilibrium. But unlike Evan, Saveron was a full-blooded Vulcan, born and raised on the homeworld.::

Saveron: Possibly not, until you sought to act in a way that caused injury to another. ::He acknowledged.:: However, this is Harrison Ross’s mind, his body. Now that I have completed that which I came to do, I shall leave.

::Ross smiled at him, absently thumbing a pointed ear.::

Ross: It does seem like it's time to depart.

::Saveron gathered his mental defences. He’d held no illusions about the danger of Ross’s implanted personality, though he had not expected something quite so overt. Not expected it, but he had anticipated it.::

::Never taking his eyes from Ross, Saveron took a step backwards, and the fabric of the mindscape shifted behind him. No hole in the scenery, but rather a tunnel through it, what a wormhole might look like if one had a personal-sized one. Whatever lay at the other end was bathed in a brightness too intense to look at. As Saveron stepped backwards his image started to shift and stretch, as he began to remove himself from Ross’s mind, seat his consciousness wholly within his own once more.::

::Ross' image blurred, melting like a picture from the human artist, Salvador Dali, before it split into two. Saveron saw Harrison Ross, blond and round-eared, collapse onto the sand of the Vulcan desert, his eyes wide and glassy. At the same time, he saw a own mirror image of himself leap forward, snaring his wrists with his hands. As Saveron pulled back into his own mind, Ross began to follow.::

Ross-Saveron: He's terrible company, you know. And he's outlived his usefulness. *You*, on the other hand...

Saveron: Are not yours to use.

::Perspective shifted, turned, and the sandscapes of Vulcan fell away, upwards. They were falling, flying, down a tunnel of shadows and half-seen shapes, towards a brilliant light at the end. Saveron strove, struggled, to release Ross’s mental grip on him, sought to reach the brilliant light before Ross could.::

Ross-Saveron: We'll see.

::Releasing the Vulcan’s wrists he pushed him away and, with a burst of mental effort, Ross strove for the light, Saveron on his heels but falling further behind. At last the light engulfed him, blindingly brilliant and crystalline, and in his triumph he sought for the mechanics of this mind. He was faced suddenly with a mirror. Turning, only another mirror. Mirrors upon mirrors, brightly lit, with only his own face staring back at him, reflected a million times into infinity.::.

::The grey haze through which they had tunnelled slowly evaporated, a heavy fog that cleared as the orange sun crested the horizon, leaving Saveron standing once more on parched sands. Yellow this time, rather than red, though still beneath an ochre sky. Above him the old tower rose, stone walls bastions against inner emotion and supporting structure of his own mind. That which Ross had sought, and had passed so close by.::

((Sickbay, Astrofori One))

::The crystal fell from his grasp as Saveron slumped across Ross’s body, dropping onto the biobed next to the man’s leg where it settled, glowing with a faint, inner light that it had not previously held. The Vulcan lay there for a moment, motionless, checking and reaffirming that his mental bastions were sound, and he was alone in his mind.::

::Behind him, the isolation room door opened.::

Security Officer: Sir?

::He was exhausted; mentally drained beyond anything he had ever experienced. Yet he had succeeded, and in more than he had set out to do. After a long moment he sat up, brushed his black hair from his face, and blinked. Sensing nothing more than a mind resting and healing beneath his fingers, he withdrew his other hand from Ross’s cheek.::

Security Officer: Sir? is everything alright?

Saveron: Affirmative. ::He said at last, weariness in every word.::

::The man watched him carefully as the Vulcan rose to his feet, unsteadily, and made his way over to the replicator. A few simple commands produced a small, transal sharps container; transparent but impregnable. Returning to Ross’s side he scooped the glowing crystal into the box and sealed the one-way lid. I could not be opened without cutting through the container.::

Saveron: This is a Katric Ark. It contains Commander Ross’s implanted katra. It is to be conveyed to Starfleet Intelligence. Under no circumstances is anyone to open it. Do you understand?

Security Officer: Aye, sir.

::The man gingerly accepted the box that Saveron placed into his hand.::

Saveron: I will provide a full report of what occurred, in time. I will also require a full medical and psychological assessment by the station’s medical personnel. ::Not his own staff.:: Now however I must rest.

::The Security Officer watched the Vulcan doctor leave the isolation room and wander off into Astrofori One’s medical facilities. Exhausted beyond belief, Saveron wished only to rest. There was one thing that needed doing first however.::

::Despite his protesting body and baulking brain, he sat down at a console in a quiet corner of the medical facilities and logged in. Bringing up his email he started a new message, addressed to Captain Quinn Reynolds.::

::How to word it? His tired brain was fighting him, refusing even the limited compassion and eloquence he was accustomed to using. How to tell her? What to tell her? Finally, tired hands typed out one single line.::

------------------------------------------------------------
Recipient: Captain Quinn Reynolds
Sender: Lieutenant Commander Saveron
Subject: <none>

Quinn,

Harrison is free.

Saveron
----------------------------------------------------------------

::He hit send and logged off the console. He should have got up, made his way back to the Invicta or at least found a bed somewhere. As it was he simply folded his arms on the desk, rested his head on them in a posture familiar to university students everywhere, and passed out.::

::At some point someone dragged a blanket over him. Time passed, in undisturbed dreams and silence.::

::When he stirred, she was sat there. Legs crossed, hands in her lap, watching him with hazel eyes. Her uniform was red instead of the familiar black, and its creases said that, unlike him, she had not slept in some time.::

Reynolds: ::Quietly,:: I got your message.

::Slowly Saveron sat up. He had been unusually deeply asleep, his mind exhausted beyond anything physical exertion could bring. Bleerily - such an odd look for a Vulcan - the doctor passed a hand over his face and blinked twice, third eyelids only retracting on the second blink.::

Saveron: I was unaware that the Gorkon had docked. ::He admitted.::

::How long had he slept? Captain Reynolds must have come straight from her ship.::

Reynolds: What happened?

Saveron: An excellent question, and one for which I do not have complete answer. ::Much as he would prefer to.:: I was able to identify the psychological damage caused by the antagonistic meld, and initiate reparations. ::Could he explain what he had found? Quinn was a telepath herself.:: It was… like an ulcer, unable to heal. I removed what was damaged and laid the groundwork for further healing, there is no regenerator for the mind.

::She hesitated before speaking again, almost as though she wasn't sure she wanted to hear the response.::

Reynolds: You said he was free.

::The Vulcan considered carefully.::

Saveron: I encountered a representation of Commander Ross, whilst I was there. It was the implanted katra. ::He paused, choosing his words.:: It would seem that he tired of his comatose host, and decided that I would make a more useful one. He attempted to follow the connection back to myself.

Reynolds: But you stopped him.

Saveron: I do not know whether I would have bested him in direct mental combat; I have no measure of his innate ability or training. Rather I utilised a measure of misdirection which he apparently did not anticipate. The personality is trapped in my katric ark.

::She let that sink in, glancing off in the direction of Harrison's room. A few moments passed, and she returned her attention to Saveron.::

Reynolds: Is he alright? The real Harry?

Saveron: Before he pursued me he… split. He had changed to resemble me, but he left behind what appeared to be Harrison Ross, unconscious. I… suspect that is the original personality. What state his mind may now be in… I do not know. But if there is an optimal situation for his original personality to heal and resurface, he is there now. ::He gave Quinn a measured look.:: It is possible that contact with the familiar may stimulate healing. I think you would say that it would 'give him something to live for’.

::It only lasted a moment, the look of acute distress that crossed her pale, freckled face. It vanished with a breath of air, as she inhaled sharply and slowly breathed it out.::

Reynolds: I'll go and see him. ::She paused.:: Thank you, Saveron. You risked yourself for him. I know Harry will… Well. Hopefully he'll be able to tell you himself, sometime soon.

Saveron: So we may both hope. ::He agreed quietly.::

END

Captain Quinn Reynolds
Commanding Officer
USS Gorkon
T238401QR0

and

LtCmdr Saveron
SO and CMO
USS Invicta
R238802S10
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