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Ensign Didrik Stennes - Cameo


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(( Shuttlebay, USS Drake ))

::As the Drake sailed through the thalassic null space, mounting simultaneous rescue and demo operations, a shuttlecraft carrying the half-blind, barely conscious Didrik Stennes was tractored into the bay. Upon landing, a medical team boarded the craft and found the ensign strapped into the pilot's seat, head slumped onto his chest. Though his body was battered, bruised, and quite frankly, not getting any better, his mind was still functioning, and was grasping at ways to protect itself from the onslaught of stimuli his body was sending its way.::

(( Flashback/Dream – Tromsø, Norway, 2374 ))

::In Tromsø in October, each day was ten minutes shorter than the one before, so everything was a race against time. Workers rushed to get home before dusk–4:00pm; parents kept extra close watches on their young ones, who had a knack for rushing off into the freshly fallen snow; and teenagers' priorities shifted to make the most out of what little autumn remained. On this unseasonably warm October day, fourteen-year-old Didrik had skipped classes to spend the brief afternoon on the sea, or more accurately, the high-speed overland transport that crossed the Norwegian Sea, connecting Tromsø to the Faroes in just under an hour.::

::It was 4:30pm by the time he snuck into the backdoor of his house in Tromsø; already nighttime. Moving quietly through the rooms, his covert actions were interrupted by a concerned female voice, though not one he could immediately pinpoint.::

VOICE: Didrik, where have you been?

::Didrik's eyes widened when he turned to the source of the voice. Standing before him was a young woman, dressed well beyond her years. The woman wasn't human, not in the slightest. From the ridges on her nose, he guessed perhaps a Bajoran, but she wasn't like any Bajoran he'd ever seen. She had purple-grey bones circling her dark eyes, and what looked like a spoon in the middle of her forehead. Didrik recognized her from somewhere, but at the same time, he didn't. Or rather, he recognized her as two different people, but wasn't sure which was right.::

((OOC: Physically, it's Lt. Sinda, but embodying Didrik's mother Hera in this dream/flashback.))

STENNES: Uh, I stayed late after class today to help set up for the festival this weekend. I would have called but––

::The strange woman cut him off, and beckoned him closer with her hand. Didrik approached, still trying to work out exactly who she was.::

SINDA/HERA: I need to tell you something, Didrik, something important. Your brothers and sisters already know; they were here when we got the news.

::Wait a second. Didrik had been here before. This was the day his mother told him…, but wait, something was different. She wasn't. Was Lt. Sinda his mother? It all made perfect sense, but didn't. Didrik's memory told him he should nod at this point, to encourage his mother, or possibly a Starfleet tactical officer, to continue.::

SINDA/HERA: Yesterday, the Dominion attacked Betazed. They've occupied it.

::Didrik remembered his stomach hitting the floor, a feeling that was dutifully recreated in this instance, even though he knew exactly what was happening. His father was on Betazed, reporting for the Federation News Service. He knew his father would come home eventually, and yet he was compelled to ask...::

STENNES: Is Far okay?

::Silence for too long after Didrik's question. The words were hard for her to say. Didrik was puzzled. Had Lt. Sinda known his father?::

SINDA/HERA: I don't know, Didrik. The Federation offices here haven't been able to contact Betazed since the day before yesterday. The news says that it wasn't a violent attack, but without anyone to confirm what happened, it's…

::Her voice trailed off. Didrik kept the rest of his questions to himself, and went up to his room. He logged into his computer terminal and began finding the answers on his own. How far was Betazed from Earth? Why wasn't the Tenth Fleet protecting the planet like they should have been? Why would the Dominion attack Betazed? Was it their first inroads into attacking Earth? In his adulthood, Didrik was a virtual encyclopedia on the topic of the Dominion War, but still used the bare-bones civilian SearchNets to find whatever information he could to re-answer these questions.::

(( Flashback/Dream — Starfleet Academy, Earth, Fall 2384 ))

::The lecture hall felt like it was 40˚C. To Didrik, the air felt still and stiflingly humid. But then again, he knew exactly the reason why. It was the first half of the Tuesday lecture period, what Lieutenant Commander Bevins called "Question Time." During Question Time, the Commander lobbed increasingly difficult engineering questions to the hall full of cadets, one at a time, chosen at random. Those who could answer the questions correctly earned their keep for the day. Those who couldn't would have to work twice as hard to catch up at the next lecture. Didrik dreaded Question Time, as he had yet to answer a single one correctly all semester. His nervous sweating and nail-biting didn't go unnoticed by Commander Bevins, who singled him out yet again.::

BEVINS: Cadet Stennes.

::Didrik jumped at the sound of his name, then stood to face his professor. But wait, this wasn't right either. Commander Bevins was an overweight, bald, greasy old man. Or was he? The professor at the center of the lecture hall was young, not even 30, Didrik would guess. He shook his sweaty head to clear the cobwebs. Was Commander Rogers his engineering professor at the Academy?::

ROGERS/BEVINS: ::clearing throat:: Cadet? Are you with us?

STENNES: Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.

ROGERS/BEVINS: Cadet, after a rough shuttlecraft landing that disables the craft's propulsion, what do you check first when performing repairs?

::The question was short, indicating the answer was easy. Didrik knew the answer, too: check the alignment on the magnetic constrictors with a hyperspanner, replacing the constrictors if necessary. But those words eluded him in this moment, and he stayed silent, a buoy of ignorance in a sea of competent cadets.::

STENNES: I… don't know, sir.

::Commander Rogers… er, wait, Lt. Commander Bevins… was that right? Whoever it was, he was good at showing disapproval, and his barely audible snort made Didrik feel even smaller than he did before. Though he tried to keep up, Didrik spent most of the remainder of the lecture staring at the wall chronometer.::

::After class, Didrik collected himself as best he could. Grateful to be out of the Engineering Department, he took a few deep breaths as he walked across the Presidio toward more familiar territory. He rounded the corner of his dormitory, and heard a male voice call his name.::

VOICE: Cadet Stenz.

::Didrik recognized the voice, but also the trademark mispronunciation of his surname as characteristics of different people. He looked up and saw a Vulcan Admiral staring at him sternly. The man's stance was sloppy, slouching, not at all how a Vulcan would carry himself.::

STENNES: Admiral Wagner.

::Wagner was obviously not a Vulcan name, but the Admiral responded to it nonetheless. Didrik was almost positive that his Department CO aboard the Drake was not named "Wagner," and yet, here he was, trudging his drooping frame over to where Didrik stood.::

SOLOK/WAGNER: I admire your tenacity, Cadet, but it needs to stop now.

::Didrik remembered. This was the nail in the coffin of his Starfleet career.::

STENNES: I understand you have some concerns, Admiral, but with all due respect, the prospectus I wrote for you is a very sound premise for my junior thesis.

SOLOK/WAGNER: This is not about your prospectus, Cadet, it's about your performance. I won't risk my reputation at the Academy by mentoring a cadet who's failing half of his core courses, no matter how good of an honors thesis I think he could turn out.

STENNES: Sir, I appreciate your––

SOLOK/WAGNER: Cadet, stop. Now, listen young man, if you put in half as much energy on your core curriculum as you've put into hounding me about your thesis over the past six months, you might have strengthened your academic record to the point where I would have agreed to mentor your research. I've been telling you exactly that since last semester, and if you haven't gotten it by now, then maybe you just don't have what it takes to make it in Starfleet.

::No matter how many times Didrik had replayed this exchange in his mind over the years, hearing Solok––er, Admiral Wagner say those words to him still put a shiver down his spine.::

STENNES: I apologize, Sir.

::The strangely human-acting Vulcan admiral continued on his way, whistling. Didrik climbed the stairs to his dormitory and immediately accessed his computer terminal. Logging into the database for the Office of the Registrar, he began reading, not for the first time, the proper procedure for withdrawing from the Academy.::

(( Flashback/Dream — Rakantha Province, Bajor, 2386 ))

::Didrik had quickly learned that it was easier to go without shoes when walking home on a rainy day. With shoes, he'd had to bend down and manually extricate his feet from the mud every third step, and half the time, his foot would slip out of the shoe anyway, leaving it still stuck in centimeters of rain-saturated clay and silt.::

::So he walked, barefoot, down the muddy path from the center of the village to the house he rented, just over a kilometer away. The twice daily walk to and from the schoolhouse gave him time alone with his thoughts, and the opportunity to reflect on all that had happened to him in the past year; to think about his job as a teacher; about Starfleet, and of course, about Tiro and their future together.::

::Or, their future apart.::

::Didrik pumped some water into a basin at the foot of the steps to his house, and submerged his feet until most of the mud washed away. Before both feet had crossed the threshold, he was greeted warmly.::

VOICE: Welcome home, love.

::Didrik smiled, grateful that some things stayed the same. The voice was familiar and loving, and it filled Didrik with joy. When he finally rounded the corner into the kitchen, however, confusion once again set in.::

KELLS/TIRO: You must've stayed even later than I thought you would tonight. More tutoring?

::The environment, the clothes, the way he stood with one heel atop the toes of the other foot, all were hallmarks of Tiro, but the person standing in the kitchen certainly wasn't. It was Aron Kells. Were their voices really that similar? How could he have mistaken Aron's voice for Tiro's?::

STENNES: ::absently:: Yes, I just want to make sure a few of the younger ones will have a head start with their new teacher. They're all bright kids, but you can't teach the same way to all of them.

::Didrik sat at the small dining table, where a cup of ginger tea was waiting for him.::

KELLS/TIRO: Have you told them you're leaving yet?

STENNES: No, I don't want to make a big deal out of it.

::A pair of hands descended on Didrik's shoulders, beginning a slow, kneading rhythm. Didrik closed his eyes almost reflexively.::

KELLS/TIRO: They'll miss you. You're probably the best teacher this village has ever had.

::With his eyes closed, Didrik was having trouble remembering who he was talking to. After a minute or so, the hands stopped, and when Didrik opened his eyes, his love had joined him at the table.::

KELLS/TIRO: I have a surprise for you.

::He produced a thin rectangular box, which Didrik opened. Inside was a Federation-style PADD, displaying a map of North America and a flashing yellow blip over a point near the center of the continent.::

STENNES: What's this?

KELLS/TIRO: Chicago.

STENNES: ::nervous laugh:: I don't understand.

KELLS/TIRO: I didn't want to say anything until I knew for certain, but I was accepted into the Music Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts.

STENNES: What?

::Clearly, that wasn't the response Tiro, or Aron, expected. He continued, albeit slightly deflated.::

KELLS/TIRO: We always talked about how much I wanted to study music, and since you're going back to Starfleet Academy, it didn't make sense to do it here on Bajor.

::Didrik felt the emotions of this conversation for the first time in a long while. It was so much easier to forget, to simply tell his family their split was a mutual decision, to do whatever it took to keep himself from feeling as despicable as he did in this moment.::

KELLS/TIRO: Doesn't being a third-year cadet mean you can live off campus? I think I remember you telling me something like that before. Chicago looks like a great place to build a life together.

::The silence was palpable.::

STENNES: Tiro, when I go back to the Academy, my life isn't going to be the same. I won't get to choose where I live, or whether I go or stay. I'll go wherever they send me, and I won't always get to bring someone along.

::Once the ice was broken, they both knew what was coming.::

KELLS/TIRO: Oh. I see.

STENNES: I mean, if I could, you know I would, but Starfleet isn't the most family-friendly organization, and I'd hate for you to go all the way to Earth just for me to get reassigned somewhere else once I graduate.

KELLS/TIRO: Didrik, I love you, and I'll follow you anywhere, if you want me to. Do you?

::Didrik never gave him an answer. Just more lies and nonsense about how his hands were tied once he signed up with Starfleet. The words hurt twice as much as Didrik remembered, and he couldn't figure out why, until he looked up and saw Aron's face looking back. He wanted to reach out to both of them, but trapped in the memory of his own past, he continued to spew more words, until the room grew prematurely dark, and he was overcome by a pain unlike one he'd never felt.::

(( Sickbay, USS Drake – Present ))

VOICE: Ensign Stennes, can you hear me?

::Didrik opened his good eye, and realized he was lying on a bio-bed in Sickbay. He was relieved his last-minute shuttlecraft repairs managed to get him off the planet, and that he was alive, but immediately his thoughts returned to his mutated arm, which was obscured from his vision by a restraint that covered his chest and torso.::

STENNES: I'm here…

OOC: Please don't be bothered if (a) I used your character, or (B) I didn't. The mind does crazy things when it's limits are tested, and rest assured Didrik doesn't secretly wish Sinda were his mother. :)

Ensign Didrik Stennes

Helm Officer

USS Drake

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