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Lt Lazarus Davis & LtJG Imas Heeka - the stories we tell


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(( nature preserve program, Holodeck 4 ))

What was always most shocking to Lazarus was how quiet it could be. Every movement, every step, every brush of fabric-on-fabric was audible.
The sound of his foot landing on a dry leaf was almost deafening in the moment. Somewhere nearby and overhead, a bird called. And a reply cascaded through the trees. Calling and receiving. Communication.
Behind him, he heard the sound of the hologram dissipating, followed by the industrial noise of the holodeck door opening and closing. Someone must have come in.
That was fine. He wanted to be alone, but he also didn't want to exclude anyone. He didn't realistically need the whole holodeck to himself, so he set it to a public session.
He absent-mindedly hummed a line of a song to himself, just a fragment that bubbled up suddenly to the surface of his mind. "I lost my memory today, the day my ship set sail" would have been the lyrics. He kept moving on his hike.
He had moved past feeling pain about destroying the Theseus. It was regrettable, but the Theseus and Elder created the scenario, not him. He, like anyone else on the Conny, had to deal with the situation they were thrust into. The repercussions of Jalana's rescue mission were clearly profound, but not going was the correct choice. 
When they left, he was still angry at Elder, the Theseus, and himself; all of it. No one benefits from someone so distracted on such a delicate mission. Had he gone, it could have gone much, much worse. And Heeka ended up going in his place, more or less. He heard the stories of her and T'Aven in the mines. She was a better choice.
Imas stepped through the threshold and into the projection of the nature preserve. The door closed behind her, and its hydraulics exhaled in sync with her own exhale. As the hologram obscured the door, she felt her shoulder tension lessen. She became aware of the posture of her spine.
The last mission was an unmitigated success. Or so she had thought until right about the emergency beam out. The state of Jalana, Lystra, Spears, Flores, everyone. Something happened to Saveron and T'Aven, too. 
She was a bit shaken around. A few good bruises, scrapes, and cuts. Within an hour she was totally healed, showered, and in bed. Lystra lost a hand. That cannot be undone, even with a cloned replacement. Looks, feels, acts like the original hand... but it isn't. 
She knew the term for it: survivor's guilt. This had a bit of a different flavor, though. not so much "why me?" as it was "why them?" This was a new feeling for Imas.
The simple dirt path lay in front of her, uneven from all the roots crossing it, and flanked on both sides by trees. The canopy overhead was readily pierced by the mid-morning sun. In the distance, a bird call. It sounded like a robin.
On Cardassia, when a comrade falls in battle, there is a sadness but there is also a sense of glory to it. A Cardassian would offer genuine sympathy to a friend in Lystra's situation, and help them adjust to the new reality. "Such a sad thing for this to happen to such a good person." But it would all have the flavor of acceptance, or even pride. There was no greater honor than to die in service of Cardassia. To be injured in service was something to be proud of.
But right now, this hurts. When Imas caught a glimpse of Lystra when she stopped by sickbay, Imas imagined what she would feel if it were her. She explored it deeper, instead of intellectualizing it by saying "a military officer losing a limb is almost expected." 
She felt fear, sadness, dread. She felt violated. And then began to observe the abyss of what she couldn't even fathom. What was this reaction? She'd seen worse even in basic training.
Leaves crunched ahead. Whoever started the program wasn't terribly far away. Imas strode forward, realizing she wished to be near others right now, while feeling so vulnerable.
Whomever else joined was on the move. The sounds echoed around the trees, making it hard to tell what direction they were moving. No matter.

If not going was the right choice, and he wasn't upset about the Theseus; what was it? His first command was a successful, albeit brief, mission. Things with Queen were feeling... less awkward.

He still didn't really know a lot about her. He hadn't really asked a lot of deep questions, not sure of how she felt about it. Their differences in communication made reading emotions and body language challenging, but they were coming along. He wished he could just tell her how he felt, but he didn't want to scare her off or upset her.
The footsteps approached, so he turned to see who it was. 
Lystra's hand. Spears. Jalana. T'Aven. Lystra's hand. The hand. So much pain. This is why you weren't supposed to fraternize in the military. These weren't fellow soldiers, these were comrades. Family, even. And she let her family get hurt, forever changed. No, she did her part--and so did the others. They were overwhelmed.
As she approached, the person turned to face her. It was Davis--! Her sorrow and fear catalyzed into anger.
Heeka: You..!
He was clearly surprised by her reaction.
Davis: Er, hello?
Heeka: Where were you on that mission?
To say she sounded interrogative would be an understatement.
Davis: I was oversee--::he realized she wasn't asking where he was, but a reason for his absence:: I was a liability.
Heeka: You know Spears barely made it? And Jalana? But you had *feelings*?
Lazarus looked down and exhaled through his nose, then slowly inhaled before continuing. 
Davis: ::quietly:: I'm well aware, yes. I asserted to Saveron that I was emotionally compromised, and he agreed. The list might have been longer had I gone, or the list of people that came back shorter. 
She scoffed and turned away. A convenient argument. Had he been there, with his science expertise, it would have made a difference for the better.
Heeka: If you saw--
Davis: Imas, remember Marcinko? Security officer, in the mines.
Heeka: ... yes?
Not specifically, but she recalled he was a security officer lost on the mission.
Davis: He was vaporized by a disruptor set on maximum. I gave the order that got him killed.
Heeka: Are you saying I should pity you? That you are inept?

Davis: The order I gave him was to defend our position so we could complete the mission.
Heeka: What are you getting at?
Davis: That sometimes even good decisions have negative consequences.
Heeka: ::flabbergasted:: I know that! I--::calming down:: Your presence would change the odds. Shedet isn't even an off--
Davis: I'm going to stop you right there, Lieutenant. I don't think you want to finish that. I'm Chief Science Officer because I fit the role, not because I'm the "best" scientist on the ship. Don't confuse rank with capability.
Heeka: I did not come here to be lectured.
Davis: Funny, I could say the same thing.
A squirrel and a woodpecker had a brief disagreement overhead. The chattering and flapping punctuated the pause in their conversation.
Heeka: I... apologize. I just-- I've seen death before, and extreme injury. But it's never hit me like this. Is this what it always feels like to you?
He looked at the woman, studying her face and contemplating.
Davis: I don't know you well enough to answer that.
Heeka: :: She frowned and looked away:: No, you don't.
Davis: If you're asking if it ever gets easier seeing people you care about get hurt, then the answer is no.
Heeka: How do you carry on, then?
Davis: You get better at coping with it. More efficient. I had to learn how to construct productive narratives.
Heeka: ... what?
Davis: The story of the events, the interpretations of them and the perspectives taken on them. I can't change the events, but I can change all the other things.
Heeka: I cannot envision an "interpretation" of this mission that makes it hurt less.
Davis: You won't find one.
Heeka: Then what is the point of this exercise?
Davis: Look at my shoes. I accidentally stepped into a brook earlier. I'm covered in mud and my feet are wet. If I tell the story about my time here that focuses on muddy, wet feet; it might give someone the impression that I hated this hike.

Heeka: Ah. "Because of a great love, one is courageous."
Davis: I'm not sure I know that one.
Heeka: Shame. It's from an Earth philosopher, Laozi. It means love and courage go together, like how a cup has an outside and an emptiness in the middle.
That didn't make a whole lot of sense to Lazarus, but he was relieved that Imas was relieved. There was a silence between them for a moment. 
Heeka: I am grateful you did not join us in the rescue operation.
The words were genuine, not sarcastic.
Davis: Thank you. I'm going to continue my hike, in my muddy shoes.
They nodded to each other, not exactly smiling, but there was a warmth. Lazarus strode forward on the path he was on, and Imas took the fork in the path.


Lieutenant Lazarus Davis
Chief Science Officer


Lieutenant JG Imas Heeka
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