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Lt. (j.g.) Serren Tan - Here Was Another Side To My Dream, Part I & II

Tahna Meru

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This sim from @Alleran Tan was delightfully funny and sad and spooky. Those are a lot of emotions to fit into one sim; I loved reading it!  
(( Escape Pod - Gorkon’s Cargo Bay ))
The Cargo Bay Crew™ were beginning to suspect they were not alone.
Sami had asked him if Trill were telepathic. No more or less than Humans, but with a twist; the joining. It was similar to telepathy with the self. Kind of like... how shuttles and transporters both moved stuff from place to place, even if they did it in totally different ways. If you zoomed out far enough they were similar enough that one could draw comparisons between them.
Regardless, no other great insight came to him.

Serren exhaled, his breath forming a small, white cloud, and Samira moved towards the exit of the pod.

Tan: Maybe we’re thinking about this the wrong way. Maybe there was something we picked up on our way in here... it didn’t come from the pod, it was here all along. And now it sees the pod, and it knows it. Understands it. It means something. ::He wasn’t sure where this idea was coming from.:: Fears it, maybe. Fears what’s on these logs. It seems to react worse whenever we do anything with them.

Neathler: Do things with the logs? Have you read them yet?

He hadn't, and it was odd that he hadn't. That should have been the first thing he did.

Tahna: Why wouldn’t it want us to read the logs?

That, he couldn't say. Sami stepped out of the pod, looking into the cargo bay. Then she called them out, and Serren was suddenly glad to be out of the cramped, freezing environment.

(( Cargo Bay - USS Gorkon ))

Neathler: Ok, it’s somewhat warmer here. Take a place and let’s go through the logs. I’ll see if any of the consoles are still working.

A great idea. Tahna found a crate to sit on, and Serren leaned up against a bulkhead, giving his tricorder a playful shake, as though upending it to reveal its secrets, flashing a goofy smile as though it were the most amusing thing in the world.
Stalling. He was stalling and he didn't even mean to. Totally subconscious.
Determinedly, Serren forced his tricorder in front of him, loaded the log file, and brought it to the screen. Read. Just read.
Tahna walked over toward him before his eyes could catch on the logs, and she commanded his full attention, giving what he hoped was a big, reassuring smile. The kind of one he hoped told her that, hey, everything was going to be okay, promising that next shore leave they would  book some holodeck time, make Volcano-pop together and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh about all this silliness that was so very far behind them all. Have to drag Jona off for drinks! Yell and giggle and sing traditional sea shanties! All of them!
A billion thoughts suddenly filled his brains, so much that it was hard to focus on anything.
Shore leave hijinks!
Watering the plants!
Read. The. Logs.

Neathler: Anything in those logs that stands out?

Tahna: Nothing yet.
A good answer, and one he echoed, with substantially less confidence. 

Tan: No... nothing. Yet.

Samira nodded and returned to the doors, like she was going to flurry-kick them down herself. She was mildly terrifying, and it made sense that she could likely destroy them if she wanted to. And she seemed like she wanted to...

And then the world winked out.
The darkness returned, cold and harsh and sharp as glass; it almost seemed to [...] his skin, turning all his arm hairs up.
And he heard a voice that he hadn't heard in his entire life. Not externally, anyway. Only a whisper in his subconscious. But now loud and clear, an audible noise.
Alleran: Hey.
What the [...]?
(( Somewhere That Is Absolutely Not The Escape Pod In The Gorkon’s Cargo Bay ))
Pushing himself off the bulkhead, Serren stared in amazement at the three people standing before him. There didn't seem to be any deck below his feet, no bulkheads, no source of light at all; their faces were cast in the strange omnipresent luminescence that seemingly touched nothing else.
Marlee Xai, the first host of the Tan symbiont. Old and grey, the same age as she'd been when she died.
Alleran Mapak, the second host of the Tan symbiont. Sickly and pale, wearing his Commander's pips and red collar. Wooden cane grasped in his right hand. Serren forgot how short he was.
Safine Rael, the third host of the Tan symbiont. Standing there, hands on her hips, her abdomen covered in blood but otherwise... standing. Both legs were strong and healthy despite her obvious injury.
All three of them stood in the darkness, as real as anything he'd ever seen, save for the strange light.
Light that only touched the dead.
Safine tossed her hair absently, unbothered by the shadows around them. She met his eyes, mild disapproval flashing across her features.
Rael (Hallucination): "No thoughts head empty"? Is that what you really think of yourself? C'mon. Really?
Xai (Hallucination): ::Clicking her tongue,:: To be honest, this one is pretty well adjusted. I think that's all you, Alleran. The kind of thing you'd say.
Alleran looked away at nothing in particular.
Mapak (Hallucination): Y-yeah, I guess it is. It's j-just ... how it is. My contribut-ution to the Tan symbiont. Occasional b-bouts of self doubt. Sorry, b-buddy.
Serren stammered out a vague nothing, staring between the three of his past selves. Was he dead? Had the cargo bay decompressed suddenly, blowing them out into the space outside (hopefully it was space)?
Was this... death, from the symbiont's perspective?
Rael: Hey. ::She snapped her fingers in front of her face.:: Pay attention to what's happening around you. The light's about to—
(( Cargo Bay, USS Gorkon ))
—come back.
As suddenly as they disappeared, the lights returned. As suddenly as they appeared, the three Ghosts of Trills Past vanished, their thoughts once again his own.
Safine's bluster. Marlee's knowledge. Alleran's nervousness. Serren's... self. All one again.
The others, clearly, hadn't seen or heard the ghosts.
Maybe best to keep that little thing, whatever it was, to himself for now. Put it in the mission logs as "hallucination, comma, creepy".

Neathler: You’re back…

Pale and trying to piece things together, Sami's gaze met his. He looked down and away, not ready to accept that stern gaze just yet.

A malfunction of the lights, followed by some kind of... joining hiccup? Or something else?

Tahna: Is everyone okay?

Absolutely, definitely not. Serren, for the very first time since he'd come aboard the Gorkon, wanted to go home. Not to his quarters, but back home to Trill. To The Ring. To making Volcano-pop the real way, with real heat pipes, with his folks and the icy winds outside and nothing going on every single day. Without the bother of being joined, without Starfleet and its demands, without... anything.
Being joined was a mistake.
Starfleet was a mistake. It had killed Alleran, it had crippled Safine, and it was driving him mad. If he couldn't learn from two failures, there was nothing else to learn from a third.
But no matter what his thoughts, no matter how cowardly they suddenly were, he couldn't forget his duty to Sami and Meru. There were three of them, trapped in a cargo bay, and he had to get through this. He was not "fine".

Tan: ::Shakily,:: I'm fine.

Meru stood and paced, tricorder in hand. She clearly wanted to get out of here too. Sami looked agitated too. Like she was going to get back to smashing down those doors. Go full, "Samira, smash!".

Tahna: Maybe we’re going about this all wrong.

Serren canted his head.

Neathler: How so?

Rattled, Serren just listened, his full attention on the Bajoran scientist whose brain would likely be their salvation. Muscles and phasers couldn't win this battle. Her big ole' noggin would save them. 

Tahna: If we’re assuming there’s even a possibility we’re dealing with some sort of sentient…thing, then maybe we just should try talking to it. We’ve considered the possibility that there’s something in here with us, but we’re still acting like there’s nothing there. Maybe us ignoring it is just making it angrier?

Neathler: And how exactly do you want us to not ignore something, if we don’t even know where it is?

It seemed, rather than silly, actually like a solid plan to him. If it could grab Neathler and Tahna and pull them around, it could probably sense vibrations in the air, aka sound. The question of if it would understand their speech, or if the UT would even be a useful asset in this situation, was definitely up in the air.
But there was only one way to find out.

Tan: ::Nodding to Tahna,:: Yeah. Let's do it.

Neathler: Was there a common factor when those oddities showed up?

He couldn't think of a causal link. Couldn't think of much of anything. Seeing his ghosts... it had reached into his pouch in a way that he found discombobulating. Couldn't focus.
Why hadn't he read the logs yet?

Tan: The temperature dropped. And we tried to... ::Quietly,:: read the logs.
Tahna: Response

Samira, all business, turned to him. He straightened his back, trying his best to appear more confident and sure of himself than he felt, which was little. He felt small and cold and young and alone.

Neathler: You said something about it not wanting us to read the logs. Can we use that somehow?

Yeah? Yeah.

Tan: ::Thinking,:: Well... if I were some kind of freezing grabby-ghost, and I wanted to scare some fleshies into not reading something, I'd basically mess with them when they took action to read, and then ease off when they didn't. Probably.
Tahna: Response

Neathler: What about using a tricorder to project words or part of those logs on a wall or something? Maybe whatever it is, will react on that?
They could taunt it. It was a bold plan, but it just might work.

Tan: Could rig something up. Gimme a moment.
Neathler/Tahna: Response
Serren went to work. He accessed his tricorder, and with a firm, deliberate effort, closed down the log program and accessed the secondary functions.
Almost immediately the distracting fog that had obstructed his efforts lifted. His fingers eagerly obeyed his commands, flying over the tiny device's surprisingly accessible keypad, bringing up the secondary features. Photonic emission, low grade. Like a basic projector from science class.
Suddenly he was a skilled, experienced, talented Starfleet officer again, and rigging a standard tricorder as a projector was a simple task indeed. Yet somehow, reading simple text on it was not.
Tan: Okay. Got something. Should be able to display our data line by line.
Neathler/Tahna: Response
The sinking feeling in his pouch came back, as though the spirit—or whatever it was—had plucked the thoughts right out of his brains and figured out what they were trying to do.
Before he lost his nerve, Serren linked the lights to the dump of the raw logs, activated the projector, and shone the light at the nearby bulkhead.
Tan: Sorry, lemme adjust the focus.
He tapped a few more keys with fingers that shook slightly, and the image came into focus. The first few lines of the logs... black and distorted, corrupted but readable. He squinted and tried to read...
Neathler/Tahna: Response


USS Gorkon


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