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[JP] Lt. JG Reni Svalasdottir & Lt. JG Lan Riel - Misery Loves Company


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:: Reni looked up from her PADD as the computer signaled a notification and right after gave voice to what it was ::
Za Computer: =/\= Link with the USS Athena established. Link up with selected waystations enacted. Requested Intelligence encryption used, delay is 0,06 seconds. =/\=
:: She sat up from her bed and quite eagerly made the short distance to the desk in her quarters and turning on the screen and accepting the transmission. There was a slight delay before Lan’s dark-haired and black eyes, betraying his betazoid ancestry appeared on the screen. The transmission was slightly less in visual quality than a regular subspace transmission within the alpha quadrant. ::
:: Onboard the USS Athena, Lan’s late evening meditation was broken by the sound of his quarter’s console announcing an incoming call. Getting up, he walked briskly to the screen and made it come alive with a touch of his fingers. Subspace call from the Alpha Quadrant, Intel encryption. Given that they hadn’t established a comms relay in the Gamma Quadrant yet, that call had to have been bounced by several friendlies in order to reach them; the caller was either very lucky, or very high in the food chain. He quickly hit the ‘accept’ command, glad that he had kept his tank top on. ::
Svalasdottir: Well what do you know? It worked. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get to you Commander. ::she smiled and pulled away a rogue blonde lock from her face. She realized it was the first real smile in quite a while:: Are you receiving me OK? You’re a little fuzzy over here.
:: Reni Svalasdottir, of all people… Lan mirrored her smile. Incredibly lucky, then… or ‘Svala’ was making a very important business call. Last he saw her, the blonde Amazon had made a lighting-quick stay in his department before being reassigned to the USS Za as a diplomat... And she had given him his old title, which he didn’t feel like correcting right now. He would have opportunities to spoil the mood of this conversation later. ::
Riel: Could be better, but good enough, Svala. And it’s just ‘Lan’ after hours, thank you.
:: A small probe, in order to ascertain the purpose of the call. ::
::Reni smiled again::
Svalasdottir: Look, I know I am the one calling on you, but you have to tell me, how’s the Gamma Quadrant?
:: Lan raised an amused eyebrow. Small talk, and she hadn’t taken his bait… That being said, while she couldn’t possibly be making an encrypted subspace call only for asking that, her curiosity seemed genuine. ::
Riel: :: In a [...] blasé tone :: Well, I haven’t been dirtside so far, and a ship on red alert is still a ship on red alert, no matter which quadrant you’re in. I haven’t debriefed with the away team yet, but the locals look interesting.
Svalasdottir: ::raising an eyebrow:: Red alert? What’s going on over there?
:: Lan let out a chuckle, and tented his fingers in front of his face, a half-grin on his lips. :: 
Riel: Well, information on the Gamma Quadrant is a seller’s market, miss. How about you start by revealing me the real purpose of your call, before I consider telling you more? ::
::He had called her out. Well it wasn’t much more than fair, she had called him after all, why wouldn’t he wonder why?::
Svalasdottir: :: Adjusting herself in her seat:: Well, our first mission is over and… And I need someone to talk too. Look, before you say anything, I don’t know any of our counselor’s yet and I’m not comfortable talking about this with any of them…yet. Besides, I wanted to talk with someone with Intelligence clearance, experience and… and besides that I feel that I trust you.
:: Lan’s smile softened, and he bowed slightly. ::
Riel: Your trust honors and humbles me. I’ll be glad to help; I know all too well how it feels to have burdens you are not allowed to share with your counselor. oO Like the Hunger. Deities above, the Hunger. Oo
::Reni nodded at him with a tiny, wry smile at his bow and ceremonious words. She still didn’t know why she trusted him so much, it wasn’t like they had known each other well and long; sure they had served on two ships together, but Reni had been in and out of both very quickly. There was just something… something about him::
Svalasdottir: We had been asked for aid by a species that call themselves the Deep. Too make it short, they are plagued by a deadly illness and they asked both Starfleet and the Klingon Empire for aid. ::she shook her head and rolled her eyes:: Well, they got what they wanted; we both showed up on their doorstep and of course the Klingons started to throw their chest out.
:: It was Lan’s turn to wince and shift uncomfortably on his chair. A non-aligned species, a deadly illness, politics and a warzone… After all this time, he still had flashbacks of his first mission, and its tragic ending. ::
Riel: Let me guess: it ends with a fight.
Svalasdottir: ::nodding in agreement:: Yes, to make it short; a fire fight broke out between the Klingons and the Deep, mainly because of a certain Deep commander who… I don’t know if she was just mad or really hated Klingons, but she started it all; and me, Captain Solzano and two other officers were aboard her ship when she fired on the Klingons. ::Reni paused and rubbed her left eye, when she continued her voice gave the impression that she was reliving the moments in her mind:: The Deep ship got damaged in a return volley from the Klingon disruptors, our engineer got badly wounded but the Deep commander, well she wouldn’t quit. I… I could see it in her eyes Commander… Lan, she was borderline. ::Reni paused again, she took a deep breath and then continued, clearly having gotten to the meat of the matter:: So, just before she was to fire their massive primary weapon at the Klingons… I stunned her. ::beat:: Shot her right then and there.
::There was a long period of silence. It wasn’t like she had told Lan that she had killed the commander, but he seemingly waited for her to continue::
:: Lan was listening intently, his eyes trained on Svalasdottir’s face. Her look was focused far away, but her distress was visible. He didn’t say a word, leaving her all the time she needed to let her feelings out. :: 
Svalasdottir: Lan, I don’t know how much you checked up on me after I left the Gemini, or before I joined the Athena. But I was on mission for SFI for two years. And…
::Reni broke off and stared at the face on her screen. A calm, serious face with those deep, dark eyes that seemed to stare into your psyche::
Svalasdottir: Lan. I managed to join the diplomatic corps -because- I wanted to distance myself from… from violence and shooting. ::beat:: I know I only stunned her, but still. It was almost the same feeling.
:: Lan nodded gravely. ::
Riel: Good.
Svalasdottir: ::Reni blinked. Then she blinked again before she tried to respond to that unexpected rebute from Riel:: What!?
:: Her surprise made him smile. ::
Riel: I have checked up on you, as you say, from time to time. I don’t have the details, because I didn’t ask for it. If you want to tell me, I’ll listen, otherwise I won’t pry. But I believe I can easily guess what kind of job leaves classified sections in your record. 
:: All too easily, in fact. He had been through several situations involving very dirty Federation secrets, and all he had in his record was sections with a distinct lack of details. To warrant a full blank, the mission had to be rotten from the get-go. ::
::Reni couldn't help feel a tinge of flattery in her chest when Lan confirmed that he actually had checked up on her. She had never gotten the chance to cultivate real friendships. Never. When she was younger she had been studying all the time and that only got worse when she join the Acedemy, and right after that she had been whisked away. To hear that someone from her brief ‘visits’ on starships had actually wondered what happened to her meant a lot more than even she expected::
Svalasdottir: Lan, I… thank you. ::that was all she managed to convey tight now::
Riel: I won’t try to say anything to make you feel better about what you did. Because if you still feel bad when shooting at someone, be it at heavy stun, that’s good news. Cherish that feeling, Svala. It’s the sign you still have a soul.
Svalasdottir: ::narrowing her eyes in mock scrutiny, hiding her true feelings expertly behind some humour:: Are you going to get all spiritual on me?
:: Lan shook his head, smiling. The fact that he was the one to bring her that kind of comfort was so ironic he could have laughed until he cried. But he had the opportunity to do something that could be counted in his favor when the Judgement would come, and Deities knew he was begging for those these days. ::
Riel: You had a chance to stop her, and you didn’t hesitate or let your feelings get in the way. You saved yourself, you saved her, you saved the ship and both crews. And yet you feel remorse about incapacitating her for her own good afterwards. In my book that makes you a good officer, and a damn good person. What is there to fix?
:: Reni used both of her hands to catch her long, blonde hair and adjust it on her back. There was no need for it and she wasn’t really aware of that she was doing it ::
:: The body language was not lost on the Betazoid, though. ::
Svalasdottir: I guess… ::beat:: I guess I just feel that I should have come up with another solution?
::Before Reni’s eyes the scene played out again, and she could clearly see the look in the Deep commander's eyes. Would any words really have helped? Her vision returned to the present and she looked into Lan’s eyes instead and all that she could see was kindness::
Riel: :: With a skeptical frown :: You know what they say about hindsight, right? Listen, if you replay the scene in your head long enough that you find a better solution, go ahead and use it next time you need to make that kind of split-second decision. For the time being, a phaser shot is quick, clean, with little to no collateral damage and more or less fail-safe. 
Svalasdottir: Lan I… ::she paused but it didn’t get any better:: Thank you. ::she smiled at him, a genuine warm smile of appreciation and heartfelt gratitude. She didn’t think Lan would fully appreciate how much this meant to her, but perhaps some day, when they knew each other better she could tell him::
Riel: :: Waving a dismissive hand :: Don’t mention it. Pointing out the obvious is a hobby of mine.
Svalasdottir: ::nodding slowly:: Oh and Lan. If you don’t get your rank back soon, be sure to tell the brass what I do to officers I don’t agree with. And I know just where to aim, they taught me that. ::she grinned a rather wolfish grin, giving her beautiful face a surprisingly haunting look::
Riel: oO Yup, definitely wetworks Oo 
Riel: :: With a contrite smile :: Heh, thanks but no thanks, violence against officers is kind of what got me here in the first place. Just keep shooting rogue alien captains and leave the rest to me.
Svalasdottir: Will do. ::she took a few milliseconds to compose herself:: So, is that payment enough? What can you tell me about Gamma and the Athena? ::and she added with a marked emphasis that this budding friendship was a two way wormhole:: and how about You?
:: Lan leaned back in his chair, eyes closed, and let out a sigh. It was a part of his job that he hated. ::
Riel: About the Quadrant and the ongoing mission, not much, alas. Lots of classified activity going around. I won’t be able to give you specifics, but we have been infiltrated by terrorists who compromised our Intel and comm networks and caused severe structural damage to the ship. 
:: The bitterness in Lan’s tone was evident. His home had been attacked, his own department compromised, and he couldn’t help thinking that he could have done a better job preventing it. Svala’s face when he opened his eyes showed worry, but no judgement, and for that he was grateful. ::
Svalasdottir: ::measuring her words:: That sounds… Actually that sounds pretty bad Lan. :.she had the feeling he could be blaming himself, she thought that she would, in his case. But she knew it would do him no good, most career officers always thought they could do better, do more especially in hindsight:: 
Riel: Pretty bad, yeah. The away team got battered. Last I heard, Bishop lost a foot. 
Svalasdottir: Lost a foot!? ::lowering her voice again:: Well, that’s easily enough replaced I suppose. :.suddenly that strain of gray, dry humour acted up again:: Hey, perhaps he should get one of those fancy canes, some think they add composure and dignity, you know?
:: He couldn’t help but chuckle. ::
Riel: Thanks for the wonderful image, Svala. A doctor Bishop even more sarcastic and showing less empathy than usual, limping through the corridors with a cane in hand… Deities, you could make a holoseries out of it.
Svalasdottir: ::was the one chuckling this time:: Yeah, and doing what? Hunting down more and more weird diseases? Who’d watch that? ::she smirked at his handsome, bothered face and got back into a more supportive stride:: Hey look, there’s no use second guessing your protocols and internal security. Learn from this and move on. oO Jeez, it’s so easy to say, no wonder people keep telling me that. Oo
Riel: :: He tried to retreat into humour and mock outrage :: Hey, *I* am the counselor, here!
Svalasdottir: Yeah, well I grew up with TWO in my house. Besides, I’m only saying stuff I’m supposed to say. ::she leant back in the chair, a few seconds passed:: That’s not all the reasons right? You don’t strike me like a man that seconds guesses himself a lot, has this… something to do with your demotion?  
Riel: :: Defeated, he looked down, his shoulders slumped :: I… don’t know. Michael Tonston… showed me a great deal about myself and my abilities. :: He shuddered :: RaBeem. 
::Reni didn’t say anything. She gave him a chance to talk, to talk about what he felt like he wanted and could.::
Riel: Part of it was on purpose. I goaded him. I wanted to give him a chance to attack, I set him up for a self-defense case in my favor. I didn’t intend to kill him, but… part of me didn’t say no.
::Lan couldn’t see Reni’s reaction as he was looking down as he talked, had he, his trained eyes would have seen it go ever so slightly paler and stiffen in the jaws. Her eyes went blank as she suddenly was hit by the intense memory a knife in her hand and the feeling of still warm blood running down her fingers. Before Lan could notice she had snapped back and using her training, abolished all signs of her own issues from her face. However, she could not really hide her sympathetic gaze, that she knew all too well what he was talking about::
Svalasdottir: Lan I...
:: When he looked back at her, his black eyes expressed sadness, pleading… but also something more. ::
Riel: A lot like you, Svala. I know what I can do, what I can *be*, and it scares me. And my greatest nightmare is that one day it wouldn’t scare me anymore.
Svalasdottir: Good. You see a real smartass once told me something like: “if you still feel bad when shooting at someone, be it at heavy stun, that’s good news”. So I figure, as long as it’s your biggest nightmare, that’s a good thing?
:: He let out a bitter, dry laugh. ::
Riel: oO My “heavy stun” left a man braindead, but thanks for the sentiment. Oo We’re lucky to have each other, right? I don’t think it would be easy to find a support group where you could stand up and say, ‘Hi, my name is Lan Riel, and I’m a suspicious, cold-hearted, manipulative and potentially murderous [...]’.
::Reni nodded, leaning forward closer to the screen smiling::
Svalasdottir: Hey, how about that we become a really small support group? Just you and me. And until our next meeting, our assignment is to look to the future. OK? Our past is not much to be proud of, so maybe the best thing is to leave it back there? You’re a whole quadrant from it and I’m about to become five years ahead of it. Deal?
:: Riel paused and raised an eyebrow. He was glad beyond words for the offer, but a single word had derailed his train of thoughts. ::
Riel: Deal. But either you just meant ‘light years’, or Temporal Investigations would roast you alive for having said that..
Svaladottir: ::wincing in jest at the thought of such an investigation:: Sorry bad phrasing, I meant that the Za’s mission is supposed to last five years.
:: Reni looked at her another part of her computer screen ::
Svalasdottir: Look, I am bouncing this signal over relays whose owners would not take kindly to us talking about our sad lives all night long. ::she grinned and couldn’t help throwing in a small wink:: Lan, it’s been really good talking to you. Let’s not make it too long before we do it again alright? And if you just wanna sent me a letter, do it.
:: A letter? Lan was familiar with the term, of course, but in context, it was either ironic, figurative or just plain weird. ::
Riel: :: Grinning :: I’ll make sure I do the next time we happen upon a Dominion mailbox. 
Svalasdottir: ::grinning back:: Stay good Lan.
::Reni leant back in her chair as the screen went black. She closed her eyes and could see Lan’s dark ones in her mind::
:: The Betazoid officer shook his head as Svala killed the comm. He closed his eyes, counted slowly to ten, then pinched his arm. Nope, not dreaming. Between the very content of the call and Svala’s attitude towards him, he had been toying with the possibility. That had been… unexpected, to say the least. Still, it felt good. Better than that, even. Lan rose up from his seat as subroutines triggered by the Intel encryption protocol erased the communication logs, changed his mind, made an appointment with Jamison, and went back to his meditation. Only this time with an ear-to-ear smile on his face. ::
Lt. Junior Grade Reni Svalasdottir
Chief Diplomatic Officer
USS Za, NCC-65385
Writer ID: D239009RS0
Lieutenant Junior Grade Lan Riel
Intelligence Officer
USS Athena
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