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[Round 17] Lt. JG Alleran Tan - A Lifetime in Moments


Whale
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(( Flashback: Five Years Ago, Shuttle 3134 crash site ))

:: Alleran Mapak didn't know what to do. The woman was dying. Her arm

was severed, laying in a pool of blood. Her skin was a ghostly white.

The medics worked on her, frantically, until finally the CMO gave up.

::

CMO: That's it, she's too far gone. We're pulling the symbiont.

:: The woman's head flopped weakly. She was still alive! ::

Mapak: W-Wait- that woman's not d-dead yet!

:: The CMO rolled his eyes. ::

CMO: Doesn't matter, kid. She'll die from these wound- we can't get

her to a medical facility in time. A pre-mortum extraction greatly

decreases stress on the symbiont. That's what counts.

:: He called over one of the three rescue party members, a human woman

with dark black skin. ::

CMO: Okay, I'm going to need twelve CC's of tetraphoramine- we'll

trigger a chemical rejection and extract. Prep the status chamber.

:: Alleran could barely watch- he'd only had a few words with this

"Marlee" character, but already he liked her. She was kind and wise

beyond even her considerable years. ::

Nurse: Done. Okay, I'm going to extract it... careful, careful- give

me a hand here.

:: The two reached into the dying woman's pouch, extracting a short,

stubby worm with a bleeding gash down its flank. ::

CMO: [...]- there's a tear along the epidermis. It'll get infected...

we can't move it like this.

:: The Trill medical officer looked frustrated. ::

CMO: How long until a transplant crew and new host can make it here?

We need to transplant within four hours or the infection will be too

severe.

Nurse: At this distance... a couple of days, maybe more, assuming they

left immediately.

:: The Trill CMO growled angrily. He knew it wouldn't survive that

long. He, himself, was joined- the one nurse was a human, the other

had a medical condition which prevented joining. They'd discussed it

at length several months previous. That only left... ::

CMO: Hey, kid. You wanna live forever?

:: Mapak's eyes went wide. They were offering him the symbiont? He

glanced between the beautiful, slimy worm and its previous owner, who

seemed to grow weaker and weaker. She held a look of... curiousity, as

though trying to judge him. ::

Mapak: I- I can't. Why don't y-you take it?

CMO: I'm joined already, you idiot. And... yes, you can. You can. It's

that or the symbiont dies.

:: Mapak felt his panic well up in him. Take on the role of a host?!

That wasn't possible! He was just a normal person- an everyday shuttle

pilot, one of thousands all over this whole system. He wasn't any good

academically, he wasn't smart or brave or wise or any of those things.

Mapak: I'm not g-good enough- I'm not even a-an initiate! I can't!

:: The CMO stepped up to him, thrusting the wounded symbiont at him

once more. ::

CMO: We can seal the wound, but it has to be implanted or neutral

degradation will begin. If you REALLY can't stomach the idea, we'll

look at a rapid extraction when we return. You'll probably survive.

But you need to do this.

:: The lives of the symbionts were paramount. Mapak knew that...

everyone knew that. With a groan, he nodded his head. ::

Mapak: O-Oh gods...

:: He lay on his back, on the debris. The medical team went to work-

the human nurse cut away his shirt while the Trill CMO worked some

device over the symbiont. The bleeding stopped, thick scar tissue

developing on the injury. He felt the humans hands- unnaturally warm,

to the cool-handed Trill- lift the flap of skin over his pouch. He

blushed furiously. A girl was touching him- a real girl! He couldn't

believe it. ::

:: The symbiont squirmed in the CMO's hands, apparently disliking the

cool air. He placed it into the pouch, letting it squirm inside. For a

moment, nothing happened. That was it? Mapak felt completely normal.

He frowned. Huh? ::

(( FLASH ))

:: It was spring. The light blue leaves fell about the ground like

snow- she was swinging on a swing set, wearing a tiny frilly dress. ::

Marlee: Higher, higher!

Zee: Okay, okay!

:: Higher and higher she went. Then, something went wrong- she was

falling through the air, screaming. THUD! Pain! Her arm- she looked at

it. It was bent the wrong way at the elbow, bone poking through the

skin. ::

:: Zee shrieked. ::

Zee: MUUUUM! MUUUUUUUM! MARLEE HURT HERSE-

(( FLASH ))

:: Marlee replicated an egg and placed it in her pocket. She

replicated another one and placed it in her pocket as well. By the

time she had half a dozen eggs, her mother caught her. ::

Likanna: Marlee? What are you doing?

:: Marlee looked proud. ::

Marlee: I'm replicating eggs. I want to raise kiki chicks!

:: Her mother shook her head. ::

Likanna: Marlee, it doesn't work that-

(( FLASH ))

:: A school. A playground. Dozens of children pointed and laughed. ::

Children: Marlee has mud fleas, Marlee has mud fleas!

:: She screamed angrily. ::

Marlee: I don't have mudfleas!

:: Unable to face them, she ran from the playground, crying- ::

(( FLASH ))

:: The school again. Marlee was colouring something- a bright pink sun

shining down on the blue soil. On the horizon, she drew the dark

purple of the ocean. ::

Teacher: ... curious, and quite gifted. I was thinking of adding her

to the Trill host candidates shortlist...

(( FLASH ))

:: A different school. New and unfamiliar. Marlee shouldered her

backpack, looking around. Where was she supposed to go? ::

Student: Hey, freshman! Catch!

:: A girl threw a thick cloth ball at her. She tried to catch it- but

as she touched it, it burst and covered her in sticky sap. The older

children ran away, leaving her covered in the messy juice. Her first

day was ruined! ::

(( FLASH ))

:: She was laying on a bed in some teenager's room, looking up at a

boy above her. He was cute. He knew he was cute, and it was his

birthday... she could feel she was half dressed. She'd never done

anything like this before with boys- she was frightened. ::

Marlee: No, no...

Jian: Come on baby... I love you. We'll be together forever.

:: Marlee felt her heart melt. ::

Marlee: Are you sure? I- I love you too, Jian-e...

:: They kissed, her dress falling- ::

(( FLASH ))

:: Jian kissed the female freshman with the long dark hair behind the

school's auxiliary block. Marlee came around the corner, right as he

was grabbing her, kissing her- her face flushed with outrage,

embarrassment. ::

Marlee: What's going ON!?

:: Jian looked to her, giving a cold laugh. ::

Jian: Hey baby, sorry- forgot to tell you. Found someone better. ::He

gave a little wiggle of his fingers- the other girl smirked nastily.::

... you're dumped.

:: She had given herself to him- and he'd just tossed her away like

trash. Weeping, she stumbled back, then turned to run- ::

(( FLASH ))

:: Marlee flicked the pages on the book. She'd show that so-and-so...

she'd be joined. She threw herself into her studies, ignoring everyone

around her. ::

Marlee: Waveform... for every Z over X, dx-dy over COS...

(( FLASH ))

:: She watched everyone else dance. A banner above her table read

"GRAD CLASS OF 2260 - SEE U AT THE REUNION IN 2270!" A smaller one

below that read: "GRATS 2 JIAN, ZEE AND MARLEE - GUD LUK AT HOST

ACADEMY!". She didn't feel like joining in. Jian danced with some

blonde bimbo who giggled as he kissed her. She'd never really gotten

over him... ::

(( FLASH ))

:: The hovercar went sideways, rolling into a ditch. Marlee shrieked

as the car turned over and over and over- finally coming to a stop.

Trembling, she kicked open the door, climbing out into the fresh night

air. The vehicle was a mess. She grabbed her hair. ::

Marlee: My parents are going to KILL me...

(( FLASH ))

Jian: Baby, you know you want me again.

:: He made another clumsy grope for her, splashing Trill honeymeed

down her chest. They were at a party to celebrate the first year of

the Trill joining academy classes. Jian was there, of course. His

academic performance was nothing special, but with his father's

position... ::

Marlee: I said NO!

:: She pushed him away again. ::

:: Jian grabbed her wrist, yanking her towards him. His breath reeked

of stale alcohol. ::

Jian: NOBODY says no to ME!

:: Marlee drew back and smashed her fist into his face, cracking his

nose. With a spray of blood the young man collapsed, howling in pain.

::

Marlee: Then it pleases me to be the first! You EVER touch me again,

you slimeball, I'll make sure you-

(( FLASH ))

Defense council: As you can clearly see by the security

holorecordings, the plaintiff clearly grabbed my client first.

Jian: That's a lie! She came onto me, that whore- now she's trying to

blackmail me!

Marlee: That's not true at-

(( FLASH ))

Judge: Not guilty, by means of self defense.

:: Marlee felt vindicated, but it was a hallow victory. Jian would

never be a Trill host now after what happened- not even his father

could prop him up anymore. But her own academic career had suffered to

take time out for all this... she'd have a LOT of ground to make up.

::

(( FLASH ))

:: She tapped her PADD, reading from the huge textbook. ::

Marlee: Warlord Naita was the first of the clan leaders to come to the

table to sue for peace. Naita... Naita.

:: She scribbled the name into a margin. ::

Marlee: ... back in 1623, southern continent. She lead the strongest

armies, and-

(( FLASH ))

:: Marlee kissed him, pushing him against the wall- he was blonde,

slightly older than, very pretty and he seemed into her. The two fell

onto her bed, quickly undressing. She grabbed him, holding him close,

pushing him onto his back... ::

(( FLASH ))

:: The doctor laid down the PADD, smiling widely. ::

Doctor: Yep, you're pregnant. About two and a half months along!

Congratulations!

:: Marlee was horrified. Her career was over- she'd never be a Trill

host now, she couldn't possibly dedicate the amount of time needed to

raising a small kid and maintaining the impossibly high standards of

the joining committee. She didn't even have the guy's number anymore,

and- ::

(( FLASH ))

:: She held her stomach, crying in pain. She had an exam in fourty

minutes, but she'd come down with severe stomach pains. Her back hurt,

her sides hurt- everything hurt. Doubled over in agony, fellow

students rushed to her. ::

Marlee: My exam! I need to go- nnnng!

Student: You need a doctor, you're bleeding!

(( FLASH ))

Doctor: I'm sorry. It's just one of those things that happens... it

wasn't your fault. Even with modern medicine, sometimes a fetus just

can't be saved...

:: She held her head in her hands. It wasn't the loss of the potential

kid that wounded her- it was the fact she felt...

:: ... she felt glad. That was the worst feeling of them all. That the

death of her unborn child was a GOOD- ::

(( FLASH ))

:: Her mind was a blank. She couldn't even begin to know the answer. ::

Computer: Multiple choice. USS Constitution, NCC-1604, completed its

second refit on what stardate?

A: 226509.11

B: 226509.12

C: 226509.13

D: 226509.14

E: 226509.15

F: 226509.16

G: 226509.17

H: 226509.18

:: She knew it was before the 16th, since that's when Captain Michael

Fraser officially took command. She knew that the Constitution had

issues with its warp drive that meant it was only completed a day- or

was it two days?- before the Captain arrived. She had two choices.

13th... or the 14th. She knew that her entire host prospects depended

on this question. If she got it wrong, she wouldn't score 100%... and

why take anyone less than 100% when there were so many other

candidates with 100%? Trembling, she completely guessed and circled

the 14th... ::

(( FLASH ))

:: Marlee looked at the scoreboards for the year. The joining academy

usually weeded out anyone who didn't score perfectly- every year there

were more successful, "perfect" applicants than there were symbionts

ready for transplant... so anything at all could disqualify you. ::

XAI, MARLEE - 100%

:: She pumped her fist into the air. YES! She'd done it! She was a

successful applicant! Now all she had to do was get through the Trill

Initiate program, and- ::

(( FLASH ))

Mentor: I'm failing you.

:: Marlee gasped. It wasn't possible! She'd done everything right.

She'd been always on time, always answering everything right... if her

mentor failed her, that was it. Nobody, ever, had successfully

reapplied to the joining commission after being rejected. ::

Marlee: Why- WHY!? I've been the PERFECT student! I've- please!

Mentor: I'm sorry.

:: The older woman clasped her hands. ::

Mentor: You have a lot to learn about being a Trill host. You're too

passive. You have to assert yourself, or the host will overwhelm you.

Marlee: No- give me another chance, I'll be assertive- I promise!

Mentor: No.

Marlee: YES!

:: She had such passion and conviction. Jian wouldn't get the best of

her- not after she'd come so far... done so much, thrown her whole

life into this program... ::

Mentor: ... very well. I'll reconsider. For the moment, however, coffee. Black.

:: She practically sprinted away to fetch-::

(( FLASH ))

:: It was a new host. Marlee's shoulders fell. No- she wanted an old

host! An experienced host- the Mar symbiont, maybe, or the Dax- but

not an unknown! Not this "Tan", a host with no lives yet! It wouldn't

be the same. It was... subpar and she knew it. ::

Council: So you see, you have a choice. You can take this new host,

now, or you can wait until another appears. I warn you... you should

consider taking this offer. A new host is a way for you to make your

mark on the host- your thoughts and memories will live on for well

after a thousand years. You'll be giving something fascinating to all

the women and men who will subsequently bear the name "Tan".

:: She desperately wanted to be joined. Anything would do at this point. ::

Marlee: I accept. I'm ready when you are.

(( FLASH ))

:: Marlee Tan felt empowered. Nothing like this had ever felt this

good- not even punching Jian in the face. She went out and bought

herself a new dress- time to get rid of that ratty old wardrobe. She

was a JOINED Trill now, she should dress appropriately! ::

:: On her way home, she thought about what she would do. Her actions

over the next few years would shape the very core of the Tan symbiont-

it was a fresh slate. Something new. Something different. She wouldn't

have to worry about a Zhian'tara or anything silly like that- the

world was her oyster... ::

(( FLASH ))

:: Marlee tapped her console. ::

Tan: I found them. Bearing... 168 mark 001. It could be Romulans.

Captain: Romulans? Nobody's seen them before... see if we can make contact.

:: Marlee worked the science console, trying to boost the sensor gain.

The sensor target wobbled, then vanished. ::

Tan: No, nope... I lost them. Sorry ma'am.

Captain: Okay. Helm, come about-

(( FLASH ))

:: The search and rescue mission dragged on and on, but to Marlee the

cause seemed hopeless. ::

Tan: Fifteenth sensor sweep completed, Captain. Once again... no sign

of the USS Ackerman. If they're out here, ma'am, they're not showing

up on any of our sensors. This was the last sector...

:: The Captain nodded. ::

Captain: We're staying on until we're told to leave. We're not leaving

the crew of the Ackerman behind. We'll find them, don't you worry-

(( FLASH ))

:: Marlee's jaw dropped. ::

Tan: You're... you're breaking up with me?

:: The dark haired man nodded. ::

Likaran: I'm sorry, Marlee. Long distance isn't working out...

Tan: You said you'd try! You said you'd make the effort! I can't leave

the ship- we're explorers, in the real, genuine sense- we've made

first contact with two whole alien species while we're out here, and

we haven't even gotten half way through our-...

:: Marlee's voice trailed off. The man on the other end of the signal

sighed, shaking his head. ::

Likaran: Sorry... it's not going to work-

(( FLASH ))

Zee: Happy birthday!

:: Marlee smiled, blowing out the candles. ::

Zee: So, the big Four-Oh. How're you handling it, Marlee?

:: She gave a playful smile. ::

Tan: I'm doing just fine. I love being single, it's the life!

Zee: Yeah, well, that [...] of a husband left me last year.

:: Marlee was aghast. ::

Tan: What-?! He did what?! No way!

:: Zee smiled and rolled her eyes. ::

Zee: Men, huh?

Tan: Yeah- men... sheesh.

(( FLASH ))

:: Tan and Zee walked through the garden, holding hands. The two had

spent a lot of time together recently. A bit TOO much. ::

Tan: So, hey.

Zee: Hey.

Tan: This is... fun.

Zee: Fun.

:: The two Trill women kissed again. Blue leaves fell all around them.

It was autumn... a perfect moment. Marlee reached into her pocket,

pulling out a small Trill-oak box. She held it out to the woman. ::

Tan: Will you marry me?

Zee: Oh, silly girl, I thought you'd never ask.

(( FLASH ))

Zee: You're leaving again?

:: Marlee sighed, rolling her eyes. ::

Marlee: It's where the job takes me, Zee.

:: The other Trill woman stood, throwing her hands in the air.

Zee: Where the job takes you?! What about US. What about the FUTURE!

Did you look into the donor information?

:: They'd discussed starting a family. It would require a donor-

neither of them had any male friends close enough to do the job and

they were both in their mid fourties now... medical intervention would

be preferable to doing things "the old fashioned way" with a stranger.

Marlee, however, was reluctant. ::

Marlee: I didn't get around to it.

Zee: Oh, gee, what a SHOCK-

(( FLASH ))

:: Dear Marlee,

::

:: I loved you, but you never had time for me.

:: Your work always took you so far away and I

:: couldn't obviously give you what you wanted.

::

:: I'm sorry you had to find out this way. I know

:: that you always preferred to deal with your

:: problems up front, but... I just had to tell you.

:: Your ship wouldn't be back on Trill for almost

:: a month, so accordingly... I filed for divorce

:: last month. I found someone new...

::

:: This might be difficult for you to hear, but I'm

:: pregnant. I was going to name her after your-

(( FLASH ))

:: Marlee pointed to the drone laying on the ground. It seems the

neural poison was working- this time. She knew from experience that

they would quickly adapt... it wouldn't work a second time. ::

Tan: We're going to need to move fast if we want to extract its neural

processor. We need to find out what this drone's been up to.

:: Her team crowded around the stunned drone. ::

Tan: Doctor, begin the incisions. Move from the middle of the solar

plexus downwards, about seven centimeters. We want a nice clean

opening to get the datafeed interface through. Come on, move like

you've got a purpose people!

(( FLASH ))

Tan: Picard's been assimilated?

:: Marlee sat down. She couldn't stand very much these days- she was

getting old, her body starting to feel the effects of her age. ::

:: The man on the other end of the uplink nodded. ::

Matthew: Just yesterday. They snatched him right off the bridge of his ship.

:: Marlee shook her head. ::

Tan: That's not possible. The Enterprise-D is state of the art,

there's just no way-

(( FLASH ))

:: Tan sighed, rolling her eyes. She was tired... travelling by

shuttlecraft wasn't her preferred method of getting around, but

sometimes you just did what you had to do. ::

Mapak: We'll b-be departing in approximately f-five minutes. Please

ens-sure you are f-familiar with a-all the emergency e-exits on this

shuttlecraft, w-which of which may be b-behind you...

:: She muttered in annoyance. That pilot's stammer was annoying. Why

didn't he just get it fixed? Stammering was a simple neurological

condition, it was relatively easy to treat in adults... ::

:: She pulled out her PADD. At least she could get some work done... ::

(( FLASH ))

:: The pilot looked absolutely terrified. ::

Mapak: We're going down! T-the ionic storm j-just didn't appear on sensors!

:: Marlee held on to the side of her seat. The shuttle shook and

rocked, shedding debris as it plummeted through the atmosphere. With a

horrific crash it smashed into the tree-covered ground of the moon,

rolling over and over and over as it broke into tiny pieces. Marlee

felt a stinging pain in her arm, then- ::

(( FLASH ))

Mapak: Oh gods, o-oh gods, oh gods...

:: She opened her eyes, groaning loudly. There was sunlight streaming

in through the holes in the hull. She felt dizzy and cold... her arm

stung. Glancing over, she could see it had been torn off. ::

Tan: ... [...].

:: The pilot was standing over her, apparently busily freaking out. ::

Mapak: You're bleeding- your-your arm! Your arm! Hang on, I'll grab

s-something to try a-and staunch t-the...

(( FLASH ))

CMO: Okay, I'm going to need twelve CC's of tetraphoramine- we'll

trigger a chemical rejection and extract. Prep the status chamber.

:: She was dying. It wasn't as bad as she thought it would be- it was

painful, sure, but she was in shock. It didn't feel so bad... she had

no regrets. She felt the drug coursing through her body- she felt her

symbiont wiggle inside her pouch. ::

Nurse: Done. Okay, I'm going to extract it... careful, careful- give

me a hand here.

:: She laid her head back, feeling the human's warm hands slide into

her pouch. The chemical began to do its work, slowly letting the

symbiont detach itself. Then, when the moment came, it was-::

(( Flood of memories ends ))

:: Tan gasped, holding his belly. The symbiont's memories flooded into

him all at once, expanding his mind. He was suddenly a hundred and a

bit years older... with all the memories, feelings and emotions that

conveyed. He'd been married. He'd been in love. He'd been married,

then divorced. He'd been a young girl and an old woman... he'd been a

scientist, a mathematician, a programmer, a researcher, a wife, a

field xenobiologist... and now he was a pilot. He lay there for a long

time, getting used to the sensation. It was... amazing. ::

Tan: Wow... just, wow. This is... this is something else.

:: His new life began from this moment. ::

End

Lt (jg) Alleran Tan

Helm/CAG

USS Independence-A

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