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[Round 17] Forces of Nature


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JP LtCmdr Maria & Lt Kolk - "Forces of Nature"

((Lt. Commander Maria's Quarters - Later))

::It took a surprisingly short time to get there, her door whispering quietly open to show her quarters which were, by all accounts, painfully bare. The only personal effects Jack could find were a small device he didn't recognize and a few PADD's sitting on the desk. Jack looked around and was... impressed. It really didn't seem like she'd moved in at all. Had she just changed room assignments or was this how her room had been set up since the ship was recommissioned? ::

Maria: Didn't expect it to be so plain?

::He shook his head.::

Maria: I don't need much, I spend most of my time in the science labs normally. ::Pause.:: But that's not important right now. How are you?

Kolk: ::sighing:: I've been better...

::She thought back to her own misgivings, but didn't let them show on her face.::

Maria: How so?

Kolk: Well... before the briefing I'd already been unsure about how well-suited I was, well, am, to being CFO - Jhen called it an early "mid-life crisis" - and now... ::shaking his head:: I'm not sure I should even be on this particular mission.

Maria: Because of your alternate?

::Jack couldn't look at her face because he was never very good at talking through his feelings while looking at anyone's face. Maybe that said something about his character or something, but if it did he had no clue what. The only difference in his emotions that Cara could see was a faint ripple, but it seemed his overcast mood was too much for anything to overcome.::

Kolk: Yeah, he's a big part of it. I'm guessing you could tell how strong a reaction I had to the mere mention of him - and of course being near him at the Inn... I just don't know how I'll react to actually confronting him, which I guess we're planning to do.

Maria: We could make sure you're not one of the people who has to talk to him, but for that you'd need a reason. Do you have one for it in your own mind?

Kolk: If I had to give an official reason, I'd cite the danger to the crew, but unofficially. .. I just don't want to let myself get anywhere near him.

::The ghost of a man's image slipped into Cara's mind before she hastily shoved that thought away. She didn't blame Kolk for reacting like this at all. Another image came into her mind, she shut it out hastily. Yes, she could certainly empathise, but that didn't mean either of them could just let everything go.::

Maria: No-one ever said facing your demons was easy.

Kolk: Yeah. I just... He's me, you know? How do I know I won't end up just like him? With enough hate and heartache...

Maria: But if you let him affect you so much that you can't talk to others or lose control at the sight of him...

::She didn't think she needed to finish that sentence. Thankfully, he understood.: :

Kolk: That's the other thing. I think he's trying to make me just like him. He left a severed Gorn head in my old quarters just to get under my skin!

::The memory brought back more of the frustration and rage. For a moment, he wanted to lash out at something. If he'd been in his own quarters, he'd have been tempted to break one of his starship models or something. In Cara's quarters, of course, there was nothing to break, and even if there had been it wouldn't be his to destroy, so he stuffed the anger back where it came from.::

::A severed Gorn head? Internally Cara flinched away from the idea. She'd seen enough dead Gorn to last her a lifetime, but this was the first she'd heard of such an incident. No wonder his clouds were rolling in distaste!::

Kolk: Sorry, I...

Maria: No really, I don't blame you. I've seen enough dead Gorn to know how discomforting that is.

::The engineer moved to the nearest wall and slumped to a sitting position on the floor, his legs strewn haphazardly. He just felt so tired. As if having gotten no real sleep last night weren't enough, he was wearing himself out with all this emotional turmoil.::

::Cara watched as his clouds dropped with him, falling close to the floor and losing pretty much all form. That was enough to bring her back to her senses. He needed help, she would be stronger than this. She would be the person people could depend on. She would not allow her fears to get in the way.::

Maria: Lieu... I mean Jack, would you like something to eat? You seem exhausted.

::Jack smiled at her use of his first name. He'd have to try and return the favor. With the mention of food and exhaustion, though, he couldn't help but think of the foul up the replicator had made of his chocolate milk that morning in his quarters, but somehow he had a feeling his "mid-life crisis" had probably caused him to order it wrong in the first place. Regardless, he decided to not press his luck, which seemed fairly rotten today, and ask for something altogether different.::

Kolk: Um... Well, I had breakfast with Jhen, but I wouldn't mind some orange juice.

::There was a slight smile from the hybrid as she crossed to the replicator to order two.::

Maria: I can at least help you with that, if nothing else. But I think I know a way to at least help some of your problems.

::The hybrid sat down next to the man on the floor and looked at the orange juice in her hands. How could she start saying this? She'd had such trouble this morning, but then she hadn't had a reason for staying strong then.::

Maria: Did you know that we're actually quite alike in a few respects?

::Jack reached over and took the cup from her hands with the most whimsical look he could muster softening his face.::

Kolk: Oh?

Maria: Yes, neither of us think we're good enough to take such a weight... and maybe for the same kind of reason.

::Taking a sip, the human looked to the floor pensively as the comforting liquid washed smoothly down his gullet. After a moment, he looked over at her.::

Kolk: I'm not sure I see the parallel.

Maria: You have Flight Ops and Engineering, I've been head of Science and Counselling in a war, then Commanding on Rakis when none of the people above me were there. Even now I'm back to being CSO and Second Officer, even when I'd stepped down from the position once.

Kolk: Don't forget the Inn. You guided us through that very well, and managed to keep me focused on my duties despite... him. Believe me, you weathered all those situations with distinction. You're a brilliant officer, Cara, and we all look up to you. Honestly, I don't know where I'd be without you. I mean... all those months ago you pulled me out of my downward spiral. What would have happened if you hadn't been there? What if someone else, someone less forgiving had seen the "distinguished Assistant Chief Engineer" scared-[...]less and sleeping under his own desk? And depression's only the beginning... Do you have any idea how much I want to kill... "myself"? How can people look to me for leadership when, at any moment, I might abandon my life, my morals, just to get revenge on a man who stole my face?

::Now Cara really couldn't look at the man. He must have realised by now that it was just those things that weighed her down? That she found herself just as unworthy of them as he did? That there were demons inside her too? When she spoke her tone was somewhere between sad and bitter.::

Maria: Please, I don't deserve such high praise, I simply did what was in front of me. That's all I've ever done. What's so deserving of solving a problem and hiding your emotions with a counsellor's mask? What's so good about hiding what you're really like, just so people trust you enough to follow your logic?

Kolk: A Vulcan would say it's what we should all be like that, but... yeah I know what you mean.

::A pause and she shook her head slightly.::

Maria: I'm sorry, please, ignore that. But isn't that always the way of it? Others may say good things, but inside your mind there's that part that says, "If they knew..." right?

::Having just spilt everything he'd been thinking since the briefing, Jack felt spent. She was right, everyone must feel the same things, but... it didn't change the fact that he felt it overwhelmingly now.::

Kolk: ::sigh:: Yeah... But, ::He looked over at her once again:: you said you thought maybe you could help?

::Cara nodded, with a rueful smile as she stood and collected one of the PADDs from the desk. Was she really going to do this? She seemed slightly divorced from her body as she looked down at the PADD.::

Maria: I thought it might help for you to see yourself through another's eyes, to see that your soul isn't as dark or lost as you think it is.

::The image of a darkened soul, his in particular, brought to mind a familiar and pertinent quote from Matthew 5:22. He whispered the quote to himself as his eyes bored into the carpet but failed to see through to the deck below.::

Kolk: "Every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment."

::He returned his voice to it's usual level.::

Kolk: I'm guessing I'll be seeing myself through your eyes then?

::Cara nodded and took a small object out of her pocket to set gently on the floor.::

Maria: Yes. And I'm intending to show you who you're really following too. After all, you've told me yours. So... do you want to see the 'research' I stepped down from being Second Officer for? The thing that would... might... can horrify people if they know?

::Her fingers hovered over the PADD, face calm but heart blank. Her ribbons were rippling gently behind her in the pattern she recognised as loneliness, the person always standing apart from the crowd. But she was ready to activate the holoimager, even if it did mean she was estranged by someone she called a friend.::

::As he looked up at her, he smiled. He'd considered her a surrogate sister for a long time now, but he hadn't really gotten a chance to know very much about her. He knew what kind of person she was by how she cared for himself and others, but now he was really beginning to meet her. It felt comforting to know that, despite his own revelation, she was willing to remain his friend and even to share her own secrets with him.::

Kolk: I would be honored.

Maria: Then I'll show you both who you are... and who I am.

::A gentle touch on the PADD was all that it needed for Jack to appear in front of them, his clouds gently floating around him. Another touch and his clouds darkened to a heavy grey, his sadness pouring rain onto the carpet.::

::For a split second, Jack felt as though he were looking at his alter-ego (or maybe that should be alter-id), but in an instant he realized she'd activated a hologram. He didn't know where the projector was, but it wasn't important. The... weather around him was astonishing. So realistic it was almost tangible, but also definitely transparent. ::

Kolk: Is that really...?

Maria: Yes, that's what you look like to me.

Kolk: Wow...

Maria: At your darkest those clouds become a hurricane, hail and ice and wind under a blanket of black cloud. That doesn't happen unless you are truly furious though, normally all you produce is lightning.

Kolk: You're seen me...? ::Realizing, he answered his own question.:: oh right, at the briefing.

::Silently Kolk's image dissolved to be replaced by her own, ribbons rippling around her in a gentle but non-existent wind.::

Kolk: So it's not all natural images, huh? Why are you ashamed to share that? Those ribbons remind me of rythmic gymnastics.

Maria: No, it doesn't look so bad... but recently when helping with the academy one of the cadets ruined the exam completely and I... lost my temper. From that I've managed to create what I would look like if I lost control entirely. I call it my 'Feral' state.

::A hesitant set of commands and the figure in front of them started to change. A roaring blast of wind came from nowhere, lifting the ribbons straight back as the human figure crouched. The ribbons distorted, forming streamers of tinted wind as a long ribbon down her back emerged and flicked out into a long tail. The tinted winds streaming away from her body clearly made the form of a large feline, yellow slitted eyes snapping open to cover the black orbs in a glare of true wildness.::

((OOC: For reference see http://estantia. deviantart. com/art/Feral- Cara-98103744 ))

::Cara's face was blank as she looked at the creature, but Jack was shocked. The change was so sudden and so drastically different than the simple ribbons. He tried to quietly take it in, but the altered version of Cara looked like a full grown lioness that was definitely not resting between meals. A gasp escaped his lips before he could close them tight.::

Maria: As I said, we all have demons.

Kolk: Well, I guess I'd better not tick you off.

::At the attempt of a joke a slight smile came to her face as she studied him. Shocked he may be, and possibly even a little scared, but it was only of the anger, not Cara herself. So showing him both forms had helped then, letting them see both sides of the coin.::

Maria: I never intend to let that loose again if I can help it. But did it help you?

::He breathed in a slow sigh, getting marginally more comfortable with the giant, angry Cara-Cat in front of him.::

Kolk: I think so. I don't suppose I could see the hurricane I made earlier, could I?

Maria: No, I'm afraid I haven't had time to program it in, after all, I've only just seen it. Do you really want to see it?

Kolk: ::smiling mischievously: : I just want to see which of us Evil Me should be more afraid of.

Maria: Presumably neither, after all he can't see empathic signatures. The actual difference between them is hard to describe, but his signature is primarily more extreme.

::Jack thought about it for a while, staring at the feral feline as he did. Seeing a manifestation of unbridled anger helped him think about just how much danger there was lurking underneath the surface of a person who didn't hold themselves responsible to anything. In time that began to scare him much more than the image in front of him did. There was a lot of apparent power in that choice, but he knew where that power came from and he was beginning to see what it ended up doing to the human soul. His faith had always taught him that there was peril in every unconfessed action, that if one never accepted help (much less the fact that their actions were wrong), they would die the eternal death of the soul.::

Kolk: So... if I gave in to... what he wants me to...

Maria: No, no matter what happens to you your signatures will only ever be similar, never the same.

::He looked at her, her meaning hitting home. He and the other, they were not the same individual, no matter what. And if that were true...

Kolk: Then there is hope for me.

Maria: Not just for you, for him as well. Remember, it can go both ways.

::Jack considered the ramifications of what she'd said. He also began to think more about what his previous ponderings meant for the man they were setting out to find. If he had abandoned everything he'd been brought up in as a child, then his plight was pitiable. And if his soul was endangered, Jack had no right to kill him. Indeed, he had a responsibility unlike any he had to another living being. They were different, as she'd said, but they were still the same as well. Called to the same good end. Certainly, "Deviant" would never end up a decorated Starfleet Captain as Lt. Kolk hoped to, but beyond that they were both called to live eternity in heaven with God. If he could, he had to try and re-awaken that calling in his alternate. It would be for the man's own best and for the best of the galaxy in which he lived... and for Captain Mar. If the other Jack could be made to see the error of his ways, he could help them all save the Captain.::

Kolk: I don't think we'll have to keep me away from him any more.

::It was true, she had barely seen a spark of thunder from him, and now his clouds were just slowly orbiting, with a kind of light caught inside she hadn't yet seen in him. He seemed calmer even... serene. She smiled.::

Maria: You're not angry any more.

Kolk: No, I pity him.

::A brief command and the hologram vanished, Cara crossing over to pick up her mobile projector again.::

Kolk: So I'm a hurricane, and you're a cat... I love cats.

Maria: Thank you, I think it's just feline rather than a cat, but I prefer the ribbons.

Kolk: Well, I think I would prefer the cat, but only so long as you could tame it. Being a bunch of clouds, or ribbons for that matter, seems to suggest we're both fairly wistful, easily disturbed. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Maria: Actually it doesn't necessarily mean that at all, for me the ribbons stand for grace, and for you the clouds more a mobile system.

::A slight hint of laughter crept into her eyes now.::

Maria: But at least neither of us are a walking bonfire.

::He looked sideways at her. He know she wasn't talking about herself - she'd just proven that, so...::

Kolk: Care to tell me who is? Or is that under counsellor-patient privilege?

Maria: I can only think of one person who may be described as having a fiery temper rather than a stormy one, and I find that descriptions like that tend to be quite accurate.

::Jack thought about it for a second and his best friends was the first person to come to mind. Although most times the Andorian was farely well settled, Jack knew that his temper could flare pretty quickly if you pressed the right buttons... like mentioning anything about a certain Vulcan.::

Kolk: Jhen?

::Cara blinked, then raised a disbelieving eyebrow. An Andorian? With a fire signature?::

Maria: Fire? On an ice dwelling species? Besides, I always thought he was the kind to give someone the cold shoulder if he wasn't pleased with them.

Kolk: ::smiling mischievously again:: It depends on why he's angry with you...

Maria: Anyway, if you're feeling better now then we should probably meet our respective teams. We have a tempest to catch.

Kolk: And if we're lucky we can turn him into a summer rain.

::He smiled and had the urge to hug her again, but instead he said goodbye and left her quarters in much better spirits than he entered them.::

Kolk: Good luck with the AI.

Maria: Good luck with the ship.

::On the way out, he couldn't help but think he should've offered the hug anyway. It never hurt to show people that you care about them, but then this wasn't the first time he'd missed such a chance. He'd try not to miss the next though.::

::Cara noticed the little streamer of cloud that had caught her attention in the briefing detach from the main mass sweep round her, drawing a smile from the small hybrid. Maybe it wasn't just Kolk that had benefited from that discussion.: :

TBC...

Simmed by:

Lieutenant Commander Cara Maria

CSO/2O

USS Ronin

&

Lieutenant Jackford B. Kolk

CFO/ACE

USS Ronin

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