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Lt. Jack Kessler & Lt. V'Len Kel - Directional Control

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 ((Starboard Nacelle control, USS Oumuamua))


Once more V’Len turned to look at the PADD lying quietly on the control console.  He thought once more about picking it up, throwing it into the engine nacelle and heading back down to sickbay. He took another drink instead.  He had opened the bottle of Saurian Brandy that his friend Ulasso had given him as a parting gift.  He took another drink and then another and lay back on the floor of the room. 


It was quite apart from the gentle “thrumping” of the engines.  They gave an occasional hiss and V’Len had turned to look at the door each time the sound came.  He expected to see Millie standing there, ready to work on the nacelle.  She never was.  Since the crew had returned from 2265 V’Len had been having the same trouble everywhere on the Oumuamua.  When the doors to sickbay opened he expected to see Millie.  When awoke, his heart sank when he found she was not lying next to him.  He’d never met the woman, but somehow her memory was not going away on its own. Worse, he had started to see Millie around the ship.  Usually just ahead of him and out of reach.  Sometimes there was no one there at all.  Other times it was simply another member of the crew.  So he’d devised a plan that he hoped would help.  


As he sat up he felt his head swimming.  He took several more drinks and regarded the bottle.  It was about a quarter empty.  He slapped his chest several times before finally finding his com badge


Kel:  =/\= V’Len to Jack =/\=


The torpedo launchers on deck 17 were only accessible by ladder from deck 16 and during maintenance this room was one of the quietest Jack had found. He lay on his back underneath the port launcher. The main control housing open, exposing a myriad of isolinear chips that provide the control interface matrix to the launchers. Jack was deep in thought when his Trilldorian friend's voice broke the silence in the room. Jack nearly jumped off the floor slamming his head into the torpedo launcher. Either Jack hit his head harder than he thought or V’Len sounded funny.


Kessler: =/\= V’Len, are you ok? =/\=


Kel: ::slurring his words:: =/\= Jack?  Hey, will you come to starboard nacelle control? I need your assistance with a (beat) thing. =/\=


He closed the channel and took another drink.  By the time Jack arrived the bottle was now half empty and V’Len’s face alternated between smiles and frowns in a way that must have been quite eerie to his friend.


Entering the room Jack half expected to find V’Len trapped or pinned to the wall based on his request. Instead the doctor sat, or rather lay on the floor next to a console with a bottle of what Jack assumed was actual liqueur in his hands.


Kessler: ::kneeling down beside V’Len:: Hey buddy, you ok?


Kel: Oh no man I’m great.  ::holding up the bottle::  Want some?  It’s from Ulasso’s region.  ::looking around:: I forgot glasses, but trust me the alcohol level in this is so high there are no germs alive.  ::laughing::


Jack took the bottle and sniffed it. A smile curled Jack’s lips. oO Saurian brandy. Girls have to be involved. Oo


Kessler: ::sitting the bottle aside:: Dipping into Ulasso’s private stock again? ::beat:: You were here to work right, not just drown your memories away.


V’Len stuck his finger up in the air as Jack reminded him that they were not just there to drink.  He slowly tried to make his way to his feet only to flop back down to the ground.  He pointed to the PADD wiggling his finger up and down.


Kel:  That PADD has the Starfleet file on my wife.  I need to know what happened to her.


Jack followed the invisible path V’Len’s finger made as it pointed up to the console and to the PADD that apparently had the information V’Len did not want to face. Jack reached up slowly and took the PADD from the console and pulled it down to him and pursued the first few lines of information. Jack’s thumb depressed the screen off function and he lowered the PADD and looked back to V’Len. The Trilldorian was in no condition to deal with this information and Jack honestly was not sure he wanted to read it. V’Len was a close friend and Jack would honestly do anything for him but this mentally deeper than anything he thought V’Len had faced and the recent trip to the past had dug up some very powerful emotions. 


Kessler: I don’t know buddy. ::looking around the room:: Not sure this room or your condition are the best to crack this egg open in.


Kel: ::waving his finger in front of him::  Nope. Nope this is the right place.  Millie could never get the starboard nacelle on the Exeter to work the way she wanted it to.  We spent more time in that nacelle control room than we did in our quarters.  ::taking another drink::  This is where her ghost is.


He placed the bottle intentionally next to him.  And lay back on the deck.


Kessler: ::pushing the bottle a little further out of his reach:: Now, Doc you know the ghosts you seek are not in the bottom of that. ::beat:: What do you say we head back to your quarters and we can talk there?


It was a good idea, maybe he would sleep this off and Jack could reason with him when he woke up. Or then again, this guy was very stubborn.


Kel: No!  ::slowly getting up to a sitting position and motioning Jack closer, whispering::  The worm is asleep now.  It doesn’t want to know what happened to Millie, but I do.


V’Len began to chuckle.  He didn’t know what was funny, but it could also have been that he was starting to cry and it just sounded like a chuckle.  It was hard to say for sure.


Kessler: ::putting on e hand of V’Len’s shoulder to steady him:: Which part of the symbiont doesn’t want to know.


Kel:  See Xam Kel doesn’t want to know the answer and no other Kel host has ever tried to look her up.  I had to get tipsy just to get up here with the PADD and not throw it down the nacelle.


Kessler: I really don’t think this is the best idea considering your state of mind. 


V’Len looked up at Jack, his brow furrowed and his eyes glazed over.  


Kel:  I need to know what happened to her, Jack.  I need closure.  Good or bad.  I need to know.


Kessler: ::looking at the PADD and feeling a sense of loss of his own:: I understand the need for closure. I really do.


Jack slid to a seated position next to V’Len, his thoughts turning to his parents. Alive or dead no one could answer. The attack on the Caboto had left so many questions and Jack had no closure when it came to his parents so he felt for his friend and knew what he himself would do to get that closure for himself. 


V’Len lay back down on the floor.  He could feel his antenna twitching and the room around him seemed to list and spin oddly.


Kel:  I see her everywhere.  When a door opens I see her walking into the room out of the corner of my eye.  Walking down the hall I see her just ahead and I turn a corner and she’s gone.  When I wake up in the morning I expect to see her there.  I’m haunted, Jack.  I’m a haunted house. ::snickers::


Jack patted V’Len on the chest and smiled a small sympathetic smile. He then grabbed the bottle of Saurian Brandy and took a drink. Then he lifted the PADD and keyed it on. Thumbing through the data Jack got to the incident at hand. He read the report and then re-read it again. The report was short and although an investigation was launched the data that was collected seemed miniscule to what he would have hoped to find from what he read.


Kessler: ::sitting forward a little:: Are you absolutely sure you want to know?


V’Len stared up at the ceiling. There were really two main outcomes that he had thought of.  V’Len’s preferred outcome was that Millie met someone and found love again. Xam’s preferred outcome was that Millie locked herself away in a Vulcan monastery never to set eyes on another man again.  Xam was very full of himself. Either way, V’Len felt sure that knowing what happened might help the symbiote move past their latest experience. 


Kel: Yeah. Yeah I wanna know.  Go for it. 


Kessler: ::nodding slightly:: Well, you were right about where she would be. V’Len, Millie died while on duty and at her post. It appears the Exeter encountered some sort of temporal anomaly and while attempting to rectify the effects of the anomaly the ship suffered a systems malfunction. One that caused a feedback and explosion in parts of Engineering and in the nacelle control room. Millie and two other engineers died instantly. 


Jack looked over to V’Len who laid on the floor. Death was hard to deal with anyway you looked at it. Knowing she died doing something she loved, did that bring any closure to V’Len? Would it have brought comfort to him if he knew his parents died doing what they loved? Jack honestly could not answer that question.


V’Len stomach began to churn.  Millie had died? That was not an outcome he had even thought of.  On the one hand it very much should have, but somehow it was unthinkable.  It was like every pain receptor in his body had fired simultaneously.  


Kel: Dead? ::sitting up and looking at Jack through glazed eyes:: What kind of temporal anomaly?  How did the explosion take place?


Kessler: ::looking back at the PADD and let out a low sigh:: The investigation was closed. The cause of the explosion was deemed to have been a result of the temporal anomaly. That’s all that is here buddy.


Kel: ::agitated:: Thank doesn’t make any sense she was on starbase 12 when we were in 2265.  What year did the explosion take place? 


Kessler:  ::looking at the PADD:: 2267, two years after we were there.


Jack looked over at V’Len and the Trilldorian was getting worked up at the news. Obviously the alcohol was not helping the situation inside that complex skull of his.


V’Len struggled to get to his feet, but failed and flopped down on the floor.  


Kessler: ::placing a hand on V’Lens shoulder:: Easy buddy, don’t get agitated.


Of course as soon as the words came out of his mouth Jack knew that was the wrong thing to say and immediately regretted it.


Kel:  ::overly agitated::  Well hell yes I’m agitated.   There’s no analysis of what happened,no root cause investigation?  Did they find a body?


For V’Len the last question would have been standard, but the thought of Millie's dead body turned his stomach again. He turned away from Jack and covered his mouth trying to keep himself from vomiting.


Kessler: ::popping up onto one knee:: Hey, easy buddy. ::beat:: take a deep breath, nice and slow.


The feeling of nausea had passed an V’Len began to slowly pull himself to his feet.   He did not make it far before he slumped back down next to Jack.  He looked over at his friend.


Kel: ::sadly:: I mean I knew she’d be dead it’s been 150 years.  I just didn’t think she would have been killed with no explanation.  Was she actually in the Starboard nacelle when the explosion occurred?


Kessler:  ::leaning back against the bulkhead and in a softer voice:: Yeah ::beat:: yeah she was in the nacelle.


V’Len crawled over to the bulkhead and leaned against it.  


Kel:   ::chuckling::  Maybe you were right.  Maybe this was a bad idea.  


Kessler:  ::sitting the PADD face down on the floor:: Doesn’t matter now if it was or wasn’t. You’ve let the genie out of the bottle. ::beat:: Does it help at all?


Kel:  Maybe it helps to know.  It’s not the good news that I wanted, but it is closure in a way.  And I suppose there’s a certain symmetry to it.  They both died working to carry out Starfleet’s mission, that’s something. 


Kessler: ::looking over to V’Len:: That’s got to be worth something.


Kel:  ::laughing::  You want to know another funny secret?


V’Len was not sure why he could not control his laughter.  He also wondered why he was bringing this up.  Telling Jack about this was probably not a good idea, but V’Len was too drunk to stop. Perhaps it was the guilt he felt for breaking the rules.  


Kessler:  ::smiling at V’Len’s uncontrolled laughter:: I love a good secret.


Kel: ::laughter slowing to a giggle:: I violated the Temporal Prime directive.  ::chortling::


Kessler: ::chuckling along with V’Len:: You know V’Len, that does not surprise me in the least. ::beat:: hand me that bottle.

As V’Len passed Jack the Saurian Brandy, Jack thought about the past and how hard it would be not to try and manipulate it to save a loved one. He would not have blamed V’Len for trying as he was sure he probably would have to save his parents. It would have been wrong and against protocols and directives but how could you not try. The will power involved in that instance is huge and Jack did not think he could have stopped from doing the samething his friend most likely did. Jack took a drink of the brandy and handed the bottle over to V’Len who certainly didn’t need it but now was the time to drown out the nerves of pain.


Kessler: What did you do? Call her?


Kel: ::looking off dreamily:: Wouldn't that have been great?


Something inside Kel was elated with the idea of hearing MIllie say just one word.


Kel:  Sadly no.  Something much more…cringy.  I found a guitar and recorded her a song.  A song we danced to on our wedding day.  Then I sent it off.  


Kessler: Well, that I would probably have done too. Since you did not actually talk to her ::smirking at the thought:: I’d say you bent the Temporal directive. ::beat:: to be honest, based on what you have told me. I would have done the same thing.


Kel: Let’s hope TI doesn't come to ask about it . ::snickering::


Kessler: ::taking the bottle back and taking another drink:: Love will make you do all kinds of things. Good or bad. 


Jack thought about Michele and his parents. He would certainly do anything to protect them but he had other people on his mind too. One in particular that he was not going to name in front of V’Len. That had already proven a complicated situation for them both. 


V’Len sat for a moment.  He took the bottle from between him and Jack, took a drink and then replaced it between the pair.  


Kel: Hey Jack.  Since I’m drunk and everything?  What is the story with you and Michelle?


Kessler: There’s no story.


Kel: Oh come on.  I’m so lit I won’t remember tomorrow.  I told you about my ex.


Kessler: We dated at the academy. Upon graduation we went our separate ways.


Kel:  Well she seems very into you.  You must have history if not current events.  Come on unburden yourself.


They did have history. Actually more of a complicated history and one that Jack had not talked to anyone really about. V’Len was his closest friend on the ship and Jack trusted him not to say anything even if he was able to remember it in the morning. Maybe this was a good time to face up to his internal struggles with this situation. At least the Saurian brandy made it easier to face.


Kessler: ::leaning back against the wall:: We do have a history. I asked her to marry me during our final year at the academy. I was head of heels for her but she had the more sensible head on her shoulders. She knew that would affect both of our plans. I wanted to command a ship and she wanted to go into medicine. Marriage would have seriously complicated things for us both right out of the academy.


Wow that was history. V’Len picked up the bottle and handed it to Jack. It was challenging to think what to say.  In some ways it struck him much like the story of Captain Riker and Troi.  They had separated to pursue careers only to find themselves back together on the Enterprise D. 


Jack paused and accepted the bottle from V’Len and took a drink of it.


Kel: So you chose not to go through with it.  You might have been posted to the same vessel. 


Kessler: We knew that on the same posting we would not be able to focus on our careers. I loved her and she loves me but we agreed to achieve our goals first and then see where things took us. We made a promise not to get posted to the same assignment so that we would not interfere with each other's goals.


V’Len let the idea sink in.  It was an interesting arrangement, and it made a certain degree of sense. For his part V’Len only had the experience of his past hosts when it came to marriage.  Xam and Millie had a bond that would not be put aside for anything, including time it seemed. Yllom Kel was different.  She was a painter and she and her poet husband spent years apart promoting their own work.  Her’s was an almost Denobulan style relationship.  Eventually they had settled down together and had a small family, but their passions always came first.  Artists. 


Kel: So what does it mean that she’s back?


V’Len took another drink and again replaced the bottle. 


Kessler: Let’s just say her being here complicates things a bit for me.


Jack’s mind darted to Nesre and his growing feelings for her but he also knew V’Len had feelings for the councilor and did not want to cause anything that would get between his friendship with V’Len. Things felt too complicated already with Michele being aboard and Jack really did not know what to do with it all.


Complicated. That was certainly one word to describe Lt. Winters. She was an excellent medic and had been instrumental in helping him keep up in sickbay.  She and Rox seemed equally mischievous. He hoped they never had a drink together.


Kel: So what do you think?  Could you see yourself spending your life with her?


Jack looked over at V’Len. The soberness of the question made Jack think the Trilldorian was not as drunk as he thought but then one good look at the doctor said otherwise. It was a great question and a year and a half earlier Jack would have had a resounding ‘yes’ to that question without hesitation. He still had feelings for her but so many things had happened in the past year and a half that had changed Jack. If he were to be honest with himself then the answer was yes but he was developing feelings for Nesre as well. He shook his head slightly trying to figure his own mental state out.


Kessler: ::letting out a soft sigh:: I could, I just have stumbled into something different here on the ‘Oumuamua that I was not expecting. 


For his part V’Len could think of only a few people he would consider spending the rest of his entire life with. The first to come to mind was Nesre.  She was always pleasant to be around whether eating, talking or walking.  Heck even when she was stopping him from taking over a starship she was a delight. Rox came to mind too.  Outside of work they didn’t do a lot together, but they had a great working relationship and she was always pleasant to be around despite her antics. 


Kel:  Based on my previous host’s experience, marriage is great. For my part I think I’d risk it.  


Kessler: My parents have a great relationship and marriage for them has been a strong bond. It’s a tough commitment and I don’t want to hurt her or anyone else. 


Kel:  I mean there’s always some risk of getting hurt, but my Trill and Andorian parents were all very committed to each other.  Stuff came up and they worked it out.  


Kessler: I just don’t know what to do at this point. Michele is a perfect match for me in many ways and my mother loves her but in the time I have been here I have feelings growing for another and that complicates things.


V’Len picked up the bottle.  The volume remaining was low so he tried not to take too much.  He had had plenty.  He passed the bottle over to Jack.


Taking the bottle, Jack raised it to his lips but stopped. Staring at the bulkhead opposite where they sat, Jack lowered the bottle to the deck and sat it down.


Kel: We’re both thinking about Nesre right now aren’t we?


Jack did not look over to V’Len. Instead he just kept a blank stare at the far wall thinking about all the pieces of this puzzle and how they all affected his mindset and his reality.


Kessler: Yep ::the word escaped his mouth softly::


Kel:  Valentines day was a bit of a debacle.  Sorry, not sorry. 


Jack looked over to the man and started to chuckle. 


Kessler: A debacle? ::laughing:: You took off running down the corridor to beat me to her quarters. ::still chuckling:: I could barely keep up cause I was laughing so hard.


Thinking back on it, the entire scene as it played out had to have been pretty funny from the point of view of a bystander. 


V’Len let out a hearty laugh.  


Kessler: ::leaning his head back on the bulkhead:: Buddy, I would not have had it anyother way. She’s incredible and I am happy you think so as well. 


Jack looked over at his friend and thought about what the Trilldorian had lost, found and lost again. The emotional strain and rollercoaster that he was going through had to be more than Jack could ever understand. 


Kel: ::chuckling::  We’re awful chummy for two guys competing for the same girl.  


Kessler: Look, you are the closest person to a best friend I have and I would do anything for you. ::beat, taking a long slow breath:: You need someone in your life that can give you more than a memory can. 


V’Len knew he was right.  He glanced around the room again. It was much cleaner and more modern than the Intrepid's counterpart.  He needed to stop coming here. He’d already been several times since their return to 2400 and it had to stop.


Jack eyed his friend and then looked blankly back to the bulkhead.


Kessler: I have things to work out with Michele and I do not want anything, especially Nesre to come between you and I. 


Kel: Not giving are you?  Frankly Jack, I can’t imagine Nesre with a nicer fellow.  ::shaking his head::  Gosh that’s weird to say.  


Jack smiled but shook his head from side to side.


Kessler: No. I am going to back off. You go after her. Enjoy life again my friend. ::beat, thinking deeply:: I need to stay focused on my true goal and right now I am getting sidetracked.


There was a rub.  V’Len cared for Nesre very much and the fact was he enjoyed being her friend.  What would happen if he messed up the friendship in some ham fisted attempt at romance. Could they be friends if a romance didn’t last?  Worse too was the way he was concerned Nesre might see him.  As a project, as a broken thing needing fixed.  His transporter accident, his cardiac inducer and now his past lives.  Nesre always seemed so well put together.  How could he be more than a burden? 


Kel: ::hesitantly::  If you say so.  


Jack knew half of this conversation would be lost to the drunken state of his friend and come morning much of the brotherly sentiment he felt for V’Len would not translate over but it was the right thing to do. Both for V’Len and Nesre. Jack had gotten sidetracked from his mindset to become a Captain and that was not a life that was shared with family very easily. Yes, his father was a starship Captain and his mother went everywhere his posting took them and although they made it work and seemingly easily, Jack knew it was a tougher life on both. It had been the reason Jack and Michele had made the promises to each other that they had. Only now with his parents missing in action Michele had taken a new course of action to be at his side. One that Jack had found fault with but now maybe he needed to embrace the decision she had made.


Kessler: ::handing the bottle to V’Len:: I mean it plus I have seen the way she looks at you. You two would be great together. Just treat her right.


Kel:  You have my word of course.  


Jack started to stand and felt the weight of the Saurian brandy hit him. oO Oh boy this is going to be fun. Oo He thought as the room started to spin. Looking down at V’Len he knew getting this guy back to his quarters was going to be a bit more work.


Kessler: ::picking V’Len up to his feet:: Come buddy, to your feet and then to your quarters. You need to sleep this stuff off.


V’Len stood shakily and leaned against Jack.  The pair wobbled out of the control room, leaving only the silence, a PADD and an empty bottle of Saurian brandy. 


Lieutenant Jack Kessler

Chief Tactical Officer

USS Oumuamua





Lieutenant V’Len Kel

Chief Medical Officer

USS Oumuamua NCC-81226


He/Him (character and player)

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