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Ensign James Fox & Ensign Ilyazi Malon - Delving Deep


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((Private room, Assembly Hall, Prak Zel))

::Things hadn't yet been explained to Fox on the plans for how they were going to deal with - and hopefully win - a game of Stratagema, and so Ilyazi, having already retrieved the Ensign from Zaveri's office, walked with him back to the room Minister Haksar had allocated for their use. He was nervous, she could tell, and she needed time with him both to explain, and then prepare him for what was possibly going to be quite an experience. She didn't know yet just how much contact he'd had with telepaths, and getting him used to her in his brain was her main priority.::

Malon: ::laughing:: I tell you what, if you win, I'll buy you dinner, how does that sound?

::This was the second time he'd been surprised by Malon in as many minutes. A shy smile managed to grow on his face. A few drinks with Counsellor Reinard and dinner with Dr Malon. If only he'd known making friends with his colleagues would be so easy, he might have managed to sleep the past fortnight.::

Fox: ::Smiling:: Well with that incentive, I've no excuse to lose.

::She smiled to herself, and as they finally approached the private room, she silently opened the door and held it while Fox came in, much as she might have welcomed a patient into her offices back on Earth. But he wasn't a patient. He was a colleague. And with that in mind, she closed the door, literally shutting everything outside that room off.::

::The door closing and the ensuing silence startled Fox. The young Ensign quite clearly had no idea why Ilyazi wanted him alone. He cautiously took a seat in the far end of the room, facing the Doctor. He had nervously begun to run his hand through his hair.::

Malon: ::laughing gently:: You look a bit nervous. Are you okay?

Fox: ::Hesitantly:: Uh...that depends. What are we here for?

Malon: ::smiling:: Just relax. I wanted to talk to you about this game of stratagema. How are you feeling about it?

Fox: Alright....I suppose. I'm quite a good player but with so much riding on me winning....and the quality of the opposition...

::He slowly shook his head, doubt plastered over his face.::

Malon: Hopefully I can help with that. ::moving to bring a chair over to where Fox was sat:: The Captain and I have come up with a little plan to aid you in winning this game of stratagema. But for it to work, I need you to be completely and utterly comfortable with me.

Fox: W-what?

Malon: Do you know that I'm a telepath?

::Of course, the moment he registered the question in his mind, she'd have her answer. Not even the most skillful of liars could ever school their first thoughts from her.::


Fox: I think I heard the Captain mention as such in the briefing....

Malon: ::giving a curt nod, keeping her black eyes settled on him:: How do you feel about telepaths and communicating via telepathy?

::She was keeping contact verbal for the time being, more with the aim of building trust than anything else. Captain Herrera had been forearmed with the knowledge she was a telepath, and by his thoughts made it quite clear he had no problems communicating that way. Fox, though...she wasn't sure yet. Nor, for that matter, was Fox::

Fox: How do I feel about it...? I don't know. I mean, you're the first telepath I've met.

oOI've nothing against telepaths if that's what this is about....is that what she thinks? God, I hope not. Does she think I'm a bigot? Does the Captain?Oo

::She heard his quite obvious distressed thoughts and, with a warm smile, held up a forestalling hand.::

Malon: It's okay, I'm not asking because I think you're bigoted. No one thinks that of you, so relax. This is purely about the game. ::pause:: Obviously, for me its quite natural to hear other people's thoughts in my head. For you it isn't. It can be quite a...unique experience, especially if you're new to it.

Fox: ::Cautiously:: If I'm new to it....?

Malon: The idea is that I'll be with you while you play a game of stratagema. The Zakdorn spectators won't worry about their thoughts being overheard, and you can guarantee that with their skill, they'll be thinking of what your next move should be if *they* were playing. All I need to do is listen in, pick up the best move from them, and relay it to you. How does that sound to you?

::Fox's face was quite the sight; his jaw hung open and his eyes narrowed as he fought to take in and comprehend this barrage of new information.::

Fox: Wh.....but isn't that cheating?

Malon: ::chuckling:: Yes. But as much as I'd love to say you're up to the Zakdorn's level...no one but a Zakdorn is.

Fox: I suppose you're right....Stratagema's a pacy game though, could you....'communicate' with me that fast?

Malon: ::nodding reassuringly:: I think so, but we'll need to practice. I don't want to overload you, so I want to take this fairly slowly.

::She paused again, giving him chance to think it through.::

Malon: Ready?

Fox: ::Nervously::....Alright. I'm willing to try. Do I need to do anything? Will this hurt?

::She put a reassuring hand on his shoulder and gave it a light squeeze, her next words being sent telepathically to him.::

Malon: ~ I promise you, it won't hurt. And all you have to do is listen. ~ ::speaking aloud:: I'm going to send you a list of four words. All I want you to do is relay them back to me verbally. Alright?

::He was startled as he first heard Ilyazi's voice inside his own head; he jolted upright in his seat. As she finished and he realised no harm had come to him he softened.::

Fox: ::With growing confidence:: Yeah....yeah, alright.

::She made sure to only send him thought words, not images. She started off with simple words, gradually making them more complex until she reached 'schizophrenia'.::

Fox: Tree....yoghurt....vigilant.....::Grinning:: schizophrenia? A few hundred years ago, that'd be my diagnosis if I told anyone about this.

Malon: ::grinning:: And how do you know I'm not a figment of your imagination? ::more serious:: How was that?

Fox: Okay...I think. How was it for you?

::He almost kicked himself for asking such a silly question.::

Malon: ::smiling at him:: It was fine, trust me. I'm used to this, so you don't need to worry about me. ::shifting to lean forward on her knees:: Now, the next part is a little more intense, a little more tricky. I'm going to send you images - a few basic items, a few complex scenes. All you have to do is relay them back to me as fast as you can. We'll start when you're ready.

Fox: ::Exhale:: Okay, I'll give it a good go.

Malon: I promise you, you'll be absolutely fine.

::As long as *she* didn't mess this up, anyway.::

Fox: ::Smiling:: Even if I'm not, at least there'll be a Doctor in the room.

::Ilyazi nodded, smiling at him, and then proceeded on with his "training". She started off by showing him an image of a pear. As he responded, she added to the image, imagining the bowl the pear was sat in. And then finally the table.::

Fox: An apple.....no, a pear sorry. It's.....it's now inside a bowl....the bowl's on top of a counter...or a table, rather..

Malon: Good, that's correct.

::Ilyazi sat back at that point, clearly indicating it was time for a few minutes break. She stood and walked over to the wall unit that Haksar had welcomed them to use. Fox welcomed the distraction, this was all rather disconcerting.::

Malon: What would you like?

Fox: A pint of Romulan ale....::grin:: but I'll settle for a glass of water.

::She laughed and tapped in the order for two waters, waited for them to appear, and then held Fox's out for him to take. He gladly accepted the drink.::

Malon: ::concerned but relaxed:: How are you doing with this? Are you okay?

Fox: I...think so. It's just a bit strange, I've never had anyone visit my brain before. If I knew you were coming, I'd have tidied up a little.

::He ventured a little smile then took a few sips from his water. It had been quite a busy day...they hadn't prepared him for this in the Academy.::

Malon: ::smiling:: I'm glad you can still keep your humour through this. Some people totally freak having someone else in their minds.

Fox: How about you? Is it tiring, telepathy?

::She took a sip of her own glass of water, considering his question. She wasn't entirely certain how much to tell him. Not *everything*, obviously, or he really would freak at being anywhere near her.::

Malon: It's...complicated. Rodulans have four lobed brains, which means that when we're among our own people, we're blind to each other. Put me in a crowd of people, and its like a deaf person from birth can suddenly hear one hundred conversations going on around him, all the time, non-stop. It's not always easy to filter out.

Fox: I can't even imagine what it must be like.....

::A sudden thought occurred to Fox. His mind flashed back to their initial briefing and the marine that had approached Ilyazi. He had offered her apologies and romance in equal measure, much to her chagrin.::

Fox: So back on the Vigilant....with that marine Iceman....you must've known what was coming?

::She chuckled and bit her lip all at once.::

Malon: Oh yes, I did. I perhaps could have been a little kinder to him by *not* rejecting him in front of the entire senior staff, but honestly...

::She trailed off at that point, not wanting to finish the sentence.::

Fox: I think during times like that, I wouldn't want to know what the guy was thinking....

::She held his gaze for a long moment, and judged his comment to be entirely truthful and frank. She felt like she could trust him, seeing as he was putting so much trust in her.::

Malon: ::carefully:: Sometimes its good to know. It can be...a protection. If you know what's coming, you can avoid it.

::oO(Malon) Or exploit it. Oo::

Fox: That makes sense..

Malon: ::giving him a grim smile:: Are you ready to continue?

Fox: Yeah, let's do it.

::There was a steel in Fox's voice which wasn't there before. Ilyazi, extremely glad to find him more confident, put her glass down on the desk and crossed one leg over the other, letting herself relax into the chair.::

Malon: This next image is going to progress faster and will be more detailed. If you're struggling, I'll know. But I'll also know if I think you can do it, okay? Do you trust me enough to do this?

Fox: I do. Trust you, that is.

Malon: ~ I'm here to support you, so don't worry. ~

::Once he'd given her the all-clear, Ilyazi sent him an image of a palm tree. A sandy beach quickly formed around the tree. A beautiful coloured parrot flew into the branches as-::

Fox: I can see...a palm tree. And now a beach. I've just seen a parrot fly onto the tree. A green wing Macaw, I think. I saw one of those once when....

Malon: ~ Focus. ~

Fox: oORight....sorryOo

::She didn't let him lose concentration. She now did something she rarely did - she forced other thoughts that came to him out of the way, forcing him to remain focused, and then continued with the image. It was a more intense way of doing it, but he needed to learn mental concentration.::

::A coconut fell to the beach and rolled towards the lapping waves, as a lizard crawled upon a rock. Everything she sent him progressed rapidly.::

Fox: A coconut's fallen....it's rolling towards the sea. I can see a lizard....it's....it's.......crawled on the rock. The parrot's looking at it. The parrot's flying towards it...landed on it's back. They're both now scampering after the coconut. They're not fast enough, the coconut is in the sea drifting away.

::She knew he'd struggled part way through, but Ilyazi kept him focused on the task at hand. Once they'd finished the image, Ilyazi pulled herself back out of his mind, giving him chance to recover and gain control of his own mind. She hadn't hurt him, but she was concerned it may have been too much.::

Fox: ::Breathlessly:: Wow....that was...quite a lot...

::He hadn't expected telepathy to be so....vivid. The image forced into his mind was clearer than his own recollections; his focus was so intense that he had momentarily forgotten about the room he was sat in. Returning so abruptly to his own thoughts was quite disjarring.

Malon: ::quietly:: It's not easy, I know. But are you okay?

Fox: I'm okay, honestly. That felt alright.

Malon: ::smiling and picking up her glass:: Good. ::taking a sip:: How do you feel about the game tomorrow?

Fox: ::Pausing to think for a moment:: Pretty good, all things considered. Better than I did, at any rate..

Malon: My plan of attack is to let you do the hard part. I'll only be there as a guide. ::wryly:: If you count shoving images into your mind as "guiding".

Fox: ::Grinning:: I like guide. It sounds gentler than 'mind image shover'.

::She laughed at that, thankful he was okay after what some would deem an intrusion.::

Malon: Thanks! ::smiling reassuringly:: I think you'll do okay. Just...react as quick as you can, and stay *focused*, and you'll be absolutely fine.

::React as quickly as you can, stay focused and you'll be absolutely fine; he'd been told exactly the same thing by his father before his maiden flight. The words themselves did little to assuage his unease but the familiarity of them brought yet another smile to his face.::

::Ilyazi put her empty glass down on the desk and stood up. She was worried, now she thought of it. Not because of Fox's abilities. But because of hers. Stratagema was *fast*, and she had to be careful.::

Malon: Tomorrow morning we'll have a quick practice session, but I think otherwise you seem fairly comfortable with me in your mind. That's all I wanted to make sure of.

::Following Ilyazi's cue, Fox also stood. He felt confident that the advantage afforded to them by Ilyazi's telepathy would be significant. Now all he needed to do was brush up on his own skills.::

Fox: Not that I'd wish rooting around in my brain on anyone... but I'm glad it's you helping me with this. Thankyou.

::And *that* was all she needed to hear to make her totally relax again. She was always wary of using her telepathy in such a forceful way, but hearing a "thank you" made it all worthwhile.::

JP by

Ensign James Fox
Helm Officer
USS Vigilant


Ensign Ilyazi Malon
Medical Officer
USS Vigilant

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