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​Lieutenant Lena Josett - Gestures of Love


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A whimsical sim, with a perfect mix of emotion, humour and rawness and plenty to pull from to continue weaving the story. Simply superb @Quinn Reynolds

 

((Caves, Rogue Planet))

 

Alieth had bypassed all common sense—under the influence of the blue goo, Kelley’s father, something; it was the only explanation for her sudden decision—and tried to replace the man at the heart of the tree. A scream unlike anything Lena had ever heard had torn through the air, a chorus of nightmares howling in unison. Light flared, the pulses erratic, and the roots and vines didn’t just move, they flailed. Snapping through the air like whips, Lena felt a burst of pain and then a warm trickle running down her neck, a vine slicing across exposed skin. 

 

Beneath their feet, the ground rumbled, shaking hard enough she thought her skeleton might vibrate clean out of her body. Dust, pebbles, and chunks of rock fell from the cavern ceiling; if the quakes didn’t stop soon, they’d very likely be buried alive. Knocked to the ground, sprawled across writhing roots which encircled her wrist and ankles and wouldn’t let go, Lena called out to the other hybrid in the room.

 

Josett: Kelley, tell your Dad to stop this!

 

Kelley: Dad! Dad, please! You need to stop! You need to talk to me!

 

At least she tried, in a voice hoarse and thick with tears. Not that it did Lena any good, realising with no small amount of alarm that a root was snaking around her neck. She wasn’t the only one struggling against the writhing tree; Corliss was almost thrown flat on her face as a root entangled her leg. The counsellor deftly avoided it, dropping a heavy hand on Alieth’s shoulder.

 

And all the while, Bear stood almost stock still, barely a twitch in his broad, dense body. Not his usual response to a crisis.

 

Mind-controlling blue goo, then. Sometimes, it sucked to be right.

 

The root tightened around her throat. Her vision burst with pinprick stars of oxygen deprivation, heartbeat a marching band in her ears. Lena barely saw Alieth shift her gaze from the tree to Corliss, hardly noticed Bear crumble to the ground. Helplessness was not a feeling she was accustomed to, but with her wrists and ankles held fast, all she had was a futile struggle against suffocation.

 

And then Bear appeared in her dimming vision, pulling at the vines, desperation deep in blue.

 

Fortune: Alieth, you have to pull out!

 

She finished with a yelp, her legs dragged out from underneath her, face smacking into the unyielding ground below. The Betazoid dug her fingers into Alieth’s uniform jacket, holding on for dear life as the tree tried to drag her away. Her pain, or her struggle, finally seemed to drill through the haze encasing the Vulcan.

 

Alieth: Corliss!

 

Kelley: Dad!

 

Amidst grunts and groans of pain that were little more than whispers against the thunder of Lena’s pulse, Alieth escaped. The Vulcan tumbled backward, collapsing in a heap alongside Corliss. Vision fading at the edges, darkness creeping in, Lena looked back toward Bear. No air for a pithy remark, all she could manage was a flick of a grin. After all, it was a little funny that an oversized pot plant was going to be the end of the street rat.

 

And then, with no preamble or warning, the vines loosed, and she could breathe again.

 

Alieth: ::To Fortune,:: Are you OK? ::She searched for the others through the cavern:: Are you all OK?

 

Fortune: Response

 

Around them, the vines and roots retreated, withdrawing from their attack. Heaving in great lungfuls of air, coughs racking through her raw throat, Lena took Bear’s offered hand and wrapped her other arm around his shoulder, leaning on him as she pulled oxygen back into starved cells and chased fear out of a hammering heart. Not dead yet.

 

Street Rat: 1, Mother Nature: 0.

 

She shouldn’t get too cocky. Nature still had a few tricks up her sleeve. The tree had ceased its pulsing; instead, it shone in all the colours of the rainbow, light spilling out from root, trunk, and vine. Cheeks flushed in olive, Alieth nodded to herself, and lifted her hand. Light sparkled off shining crystals, the blue gunk solidified and shining.

 

Alieth:  What is... ::after a moment’s falter, her brain appeared to catch up with her mouth,:: the blue substance, the one that Mister Marshall handled, has crystallised at the sap's touch.

 

Fortune: Response

 

The multi-coloured light shone brighter, lighting up the cavern. For the first time, Lena could see the far reaches of the cavern walls, the lofty ceiling above them. In the tree's heart, Kelley’s father stretched out an arm, crystals raining from his limb like stardust.  

 

Alieth: I do not understand what, but something has begun.

 

Fortune: Response

 

Left with the feeling there was still a hand gripping her throat, Lena eased her weight back onto her legs and her arm from Bear’s shoulders. She wasn’t the only one testing out her space legs; free of the life-giving or life-taking vines, Kelly’s father stepped out of the tree. Teetering steps led him toward his gasping daughter, his gaunt frame barely able to support its own weight.

 

Change that to being unable to support his own weight. He toppled forward, and Kelley rushed to catch him, easing the feather-light man down to the ground. She cradled him in her arms, in a sad, gentle reversal of a parent holding their child. There was love in his eyes when he looked at his daughter, a depth of affection Lena had never known when he brushed away the tears from her cheek. 

 

Bear swallowed and gripped her hand tight. She wasn’t sure if she should look away or leave, the intimacy of the moment so profound, and she told herself the sharp knot in her throat was only bruising. 

 

And then, in front of their eyes, the man crumbled away. As if a breeze brushed against a sculpture of ashes, he dissolved into fine, shimmering dust.

 

Alieth/Fortune: Response

 

Kelley choked out another strangled sob, grief and anger warring as she sat back on her heels. Trembling fingers raked through the sparkling dust, cupping it in her hands, as if she could somehow put him back together. To see him die twice... Well, it was there on the young woman’s face. Teeth sinking into her lower lip, a hurt almost incandescent in her eyes.

 

Kelley: Why didn't you… why didn't you check? Why didn't you… examine him? Why didn't you do anything that Starfleet is supposed to do? ::She wiped away angry tears as they flooded forth.:: Explorers, scientists, engineers, that's what my-my-my dad said it all was. Where is all that now?


Warmth slipped away from Lena’s hand as Bear stepped forward, raising his palm to soothe Kelley. But what could anyone say? The woman had just watched her father die for a second time, and maybe because of what they’d done. Or maybe not. Perhaps this was the only end there could have ever been, the man’s essence and life given over to the planet.  

 

O. Marshall: This was an accident, Ark'va. No one is to blame here. It could've been any one of us.

 

Alieth/O. Marshall/Fortune/Kelley: Response

 

Offering comfort was not something Lena was well-equipped for. She rarely received it and gave it even less. The universe was harsh. People suffered. They died. A lot. Most of the time, no one cared. You just had to fend for yourself, and there was no point in bemoaning it. Survive the day, and then figure out tomorrow. 

 

But they were stuck in the belly of a broken planet, with a luminescent tree and shockingly little in the way of answers. Disinterest, dismissal, none of these would serve them well. If they were to get Kelley back on their side, the Starfleet team needed to show they gave damn. Corliss did it as naturally as breathing, such was her kind-hearted nature. Lena needed to dig a little deeper to back the counsellor up.

 

Josett: Look, I have no idea if it could have been different. ::She crouched down in front of Kelley, planting herself in the woman’s line of sight, her eyes almost golden in the gemstone light. Her voice was ragged and rough, her throat raw and purpling.:: But I know what I just saw. I’d put all the latinum in the Ferengi Alliance on the fact he was in here to keep you safe. He gave everything he had, and then somehow found more to do that for you. Your father loved you, and you got to feel that again. Some of—::she caught herself, quickly changing tack::—so many people don’t get to experience that even once.  

 

Alieth/O. Marshall/Fortune/Kelley: Response

 

Josett: Has anything been different these past five years? Even if it’s just a gut feeling, because my gut’s telling me your Dad wasn’t entirely in tune with this place. 

 

Alieth/O. Marshall/Fortune/Kelley: Response

 

With a glance at Bear, Lena rocked back on her heels. Earlier, Corliss had reacted as though someone had introduced a power drill to her cranium. And if the tree really was a biological processing unit, was there a way to listen into and interpret the impulses passing through it? They had two telepaths, an intelligence officer who knew engineering, and a former Ranger. Each one of them clever, competent, and resourceful. Between them, they surely had everything they needed to learn, understand, and do something about the biological machine in front of them.

 

Josett: I don’t know how your—::she wiggled her fingers near her temple::—magical brain powers work, but can you sense anything from this place at all? Tap into whatever information it’s transmitting?

 

Alieth/O. Marshall/Fortune/Kelley: Response

 

--

Lieutenant Lena Josett

Intelligence Officer

USS Gorkon

 

simmed by

 

Vice Admiral Quinn Reynolds

Commanding Officer

USS Gorkon

T238401QR0

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