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CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

CHAPTER 01: "Old Comrades"

[ USS Theurgy | Captain's Ready Room | Deck 01 | 1100 hrs. ] Attn: TheBanshee

The pale blue glow from the computer console washed over Captain Ives' blank expression. A half consumed, albeit cold, cup of coffee sat on the table next to his arm. Lieutenant Commander Trent had left more than half an hour ago and Jien had plenty of pressing matters to attend to before the next visitor arrived.

It had been a slow voyage into the KNZ since they left Theta Eridani IV, and while repairs were well underway, there was still a lot to prepare for. The day before, he had decided on giving the crew some time to regroup. He would let them partake in the Risian event on the holodeck that evening, hopefully having rendezvoused with the Harbinger by then. They had all already endured enough horror and seen enough action to last a lifetime. So Jien wanted them to take some time off to settle their emotions and thoughts and feelings in whatever ways or methods they required. He knew they anticipated deployment orders, yet those would wait until the next day, after the mornings Senior Staff Meeting.

A slight yawn escaped his lips just moments before he heard the chirp that announced the arrival of his next appointment. Jien bid him to enter and the doors hissed open and closed. Presumed lost until yesterday, Lieutenant Commander Wenn Cinn emerged into his field of view. The Captain stood and smiled faintly. "Cinn..." he began, taking note in the Security Officer's fresh uniform and his washed face. He walked around his desk slowly, appraising the man who'd been with him since he first became Commanding Officer of the Theurgy. "Now you do look like you have returned to the living again."

The situation was too absurd to even try and address the miracle of Cinn's return seriously. At least not yet. Jien clasped the man's hand firmly and shook it. "Welcome back."

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #1
Catching up with everything he'd missed in such a short space of time was going to give him a headache.  He could feel the beginnings of it starting behind his eyebrows already.  So much had happened to his ship and crew since his 'death' that he wondered how they had made it so far and not be completely raving mad by now. 

One of the reasons for their continued survival he was on his way to see now.  Having finished his catch-up with Ida, where he'd also grabbed a shower and a change thanks to Ida's storage of his personal belongings, he was making his way towards Ives' ready room to chew over the rest of what he would need to know and find out what s/he had in store for him.

Pressing the button on the outside of the door he heard the tweeping sound and waited for the door to slide open, indicating approval to enter.  As it did, and he stepped into the room, he looked at the male form of Jien Ives and noted how tired he appeared.  Ives stood to greet him Cinn smiled and nodded, "Captain."  With a firm shake of the hand the superior officer commented on his resurrection.  "It's certainly better now I don't smell like I'm dead.  You're looking tired, you're still doing too much I see."

It had been a frequent comment from Cinn over the years.  He appreciated the hard work the Captain put into his job but sometimes Cinn did wonder sometimes if he took too much on, especially now more than ever.  With everything that had gone on since the split from the fleet the pressure must have been enormous, a broken Captain was the last thing any of the crew needed and if it took Cinn occasionally reminding Jien to have a rest every so often to keep him sane then that's what he'd do.

"Ida's been bringing me up to speed on what's happened since I died but I know there will be some things that you and I need to discuss beyond that.  That and what you're going to do with me now I'm back are why I'm here.  So am I bound for the airlock Captain?"  Cinn chuckled, and shuddered a little, at the thought of being spaced again.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #2
The phrase 'since I died' lingered with Jien more than the reoccurring reminder about his own work-pace, but the Captain nodded in agreement when Cinn spoke of the present and what was on their agenda.

"I read Deputy zh'Wann's report," said Jien and dropped his hand to fold his arms across his chest, a faint smile touching the corner of his mouth. "Yet regardless what it had said about the means of your survival, you know me better than to throw unarmed and non-hostile people out Thea's air-locks. I may cut an imposing figure of authority, which is certainly required to keep the crew in line during these circumstances, yet we should live by Starfleet's old creed - before it was corrupted. Even our enemy is more useful to our cause alive and interrogated than killed out of turn. In fact, I am sure zh'Wann informed you that we have one of them in custody right now - a couple of holding cells down from the one you borrowed for the night."

Turning away, Jien paced back towards his desk. "Speaking of 'alive'," he said and seated himself with a gesture for Cinn to please join him if he so wished, "and not, I trust Ida has informed you about how many from the old Senior Staff has died on our voyage. Yesterday you asked me about Lieutenant Augarath Thenaljpar, and I am afraid he is sorely missed at Tactical. His current successor, however, does show promise. You might remember him as Junior Lieutenant Sjaandin Fedd, now full Lieutenant. Others are gone as well. Hendricks, Kalmil... and Commander Nerina."

Jien was sure that was a topic that Cinn wanted to visit, given how the Bajoran mountain of a man had seen who was his First Officer in the Flight Hangar. Though he did not go there yet, instead gesturing towards his desk -  which was covered in orderly stacks of PADDs. "I may be tired but at least I am still here, and we have a new Captain's Yeoman from the Harbinger that also help me keep an eye on crew morale. She has proven herself quite capable, and she volunteered for the position even if she is an Ensign. I don't think you will have to worry too much, old comrade. At least not in regards to the paper-work."

The staff position was most often filled with someone from the NCO-ranks, yet Cameron Henshaw had put all notions about career aside in order to try and help as best as she could, which was something quite bright considering that their careers were pretty much up in smoke anyway. The question at hand, however, was a subject that Jien did address - the core issue pertaining to Wenn Cinn's return from the dead. Why the Prophets had sent him back.

"How about you?" he said simply, oaken eyes unblinking as he stared at the Bajoran across his desk. "Do I have a choice in reinstating you, or is that one of the conditions that the Prophets mentioned when they brought you back to life? Do they foresee that you must serve as you did, or do you aspire to something else?"

Or rather, did the Prophets mean to have Wenn Cinn lead in Jien Ives' stead?

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #3
Cinn sat down at the Captain's gesture, looking as relaxed as someone like him could do, "I heard about my neighbour and yes, Ida's gone through the list.  So many in such a short space of time."  The grimace that tightened his jaw and flexed his masseter muscles left no doubt that the Bajoran was both deeply saddened by the losses and also mightily outraged.  He took a deep breath before speaking again.

"Glad to hear you have someone to keep an eye on you close at hand although I hope she's not just helping you with the paperwork, you need someone to tell you to take a break sometimes," he forced a smile after the dark thoughts that had preceded the conversation about the Yeoman but meant the words genuinely.  Clearly the Captain had other matters he wished to discuss before talking about his new first officer and the story behind it from his point of view.  Fair enough, he'd get his answers one way or another whether from him or from her.  He trusted Jien and his/her opinion but having left while the woman now at his right hand had very recently been thrown into the brig for being a spy it still made him a little uncomfortable.

The boring eyes of the Captain held his easy gaze as he asked about the return, "The Prophets never speak in a straightforward manner.  Of course you have a choice in whether you reinstate me, she's your damned ship.  What they said was 'The Wenn is of the Theurgy', they didn't say whether I was supposed to come back as CSec, bottle washer or anything else, just that I was supposed to be here."

Cinn sat up and forward, resting his hands on his knees, "All I know is they didn't think it was my time to go, I got sent back to this ship for a reason they didn't explain.  I'm grateful for a second chance no matter where you choose to assign me, if you choose to assign me.  I'll happily sit back and be a civvie if you want me to Jien, I'm sure I could make a living on board as a personal trainer or martial arts coach."

The thought of Cinn in civilian life was almost as laughable as seeing him washing bottles.  The two just didn't go together.  Yet he hoped it would illustrate his point that it was still Jien's ship and he was sent back because the Prophets said he had to be here, they didn't say anything about what he had to do with his time when he got there.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #4
The notion to let Wenn Cinn sit on his hands and do nothing aboard the Theurgy was rather amusing - this tank of a Bajoran across Jien's desk that looked like he flossed his teeth with barb-wire and rinsed with high grade acid. "Request denied," he said with a faint smile and leaned back in his chair a bit, "I would be a fool to remove you from service, yet I wonder if you'd not be the greater fool in thinking this a cruise ship on a leisurely voyage home."

The matter was already decided - affirmed by Ida's report. They both knew it so the pretence served to be a jocular thing - humour lately so precious in its rarity.

"So the Prophets want you here for some greater purpose - their reasoning ambiguous to us mortals," mused Jien quietly and looked out upon the vista of KNZ space. He looked back and folded his hands on top of his desk, the faint smile still present even if his tone was formal. "Very well, I suppose I will acquiesce to their wishes. I hereby reinstate you as Chief of Security aboard this vessel, and your Security Clearance returned to that of our Senior Staff. You will devote all waking hours to settle in and return to your previous duties. I expect a full report from you on this progress - and a briefing about the security conditions aboard this ship - before noon tomorrow. Furthermore, you will make sure to acquaint yourself with the new personnel under your command that has been transferred over from the Harbinger. Among many others, you have a new Master-of-Arms named Zaraq - an exiled Klingon formerly of House Bah'el."

Jien took a deep breath, changing the topic to one of the two that he guessed Cinn was keen on discussing. "I demoted your Deputy while you were gone. I am sure you have an opinion about this, yet I am unaware whether or not Junior Lieutenant zh'Wann has told you the reasons. Is this something that we need to delve further into or should we let the matter rest for the time being?"

Besides the bloodied Ensign in his Brig, prisoners turned First Officers and the alliance with the Harbinger, they had not even begun to discuss the immediate tactical situation. Jien believed these things more important than staffing, at least in means of priorities on their current agenda.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #5
The smile played on his lips as the Captain denied his request to be a mere passenger and immediately reinstated him as CSec with all the rights and responsibilities that entailed.  Instantly there was a report deadline, sometimes he missed being a junior officer.  New staff, including a Klingon, sounded interesting, he would have to check them out after reading performance reviews.  Sometimes the written word didn't do the officer justice, speaking to them was often more enlightening.

"Ida informed me of the circumstances of her demotion.  We discussed each of the actions that led to it, some I agreed with her and some with you but I concede the demotion was necessary in the overarching scheme of things," Wenn didn't hold back even when he disagreed with something, it was a beneficial flaw. 

"The real question is, how are we holding up?" drawing a line under the Ida situation and moving forward.  There really was a lot he needed to catch up on but right now the priority was what could get them all killed if they didn't sort it out.  He knew this was where Jien was heading with the conversation and the Captain was right to do so.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #6
Nodding, Jien began to pace his office while Cinn was seated by his desk, content to address the grave matters at hand.

"We have an enemy that clearly does not care for preserving any galactic laws or conventions about time travel and the perseverance of the timestream. What is even worse is that we do not know what they are after. One might think power would be their incentive since they overtook Starfleet Command, yet the Niga Incident proved to us that they might only wish to wield power in the transition to something else. For by implementing the virus on that planet in the Mahéwa System, they proved perfectly willing to reduce the entire Galaxy to deprived, senseless anarchy. Had not Commander Rez left an account in our ship computer of what transpired aboard this ship as a last resort before she also was infected - where she encrypted and protected the composition of Dr. Nicander's antidote - the USS Relativity would never have located us in time: never found us in our plight and saved the entire crew from becoming the first vectors of the outbreak."

This touched upon why Jien trusted the spy that Cinn had thrown into the Brig, and Jien turned to look at the Bajoran where he sat - as an invitation to challenge his desicion. Indeed, the idea to make the Trill that Cinn had known as Asst. Chief Counsellor Azhani a Commander and First Officer. A Trill with a flawed joining and with the voices of her former hosts in her head, and perhaps even worse, an agent of Starfleet Intelligence.

"I do not entirely trust her," said Jien quietly, putting his hands on his hips and looking to the floor, "not with the voice of Lieutenant Commander Jona Rez present behind her eyes. Yet I know the man he was when I was a SI operative on Aldea. He went by another name back then, but he is not unknown to me, and Edena Rez seems to be able to limit his influence upon her. I suppose that one might say I'd rather keep Rez close so that I may keep my eyes on her, yet that is not entirely true either. I trust her and the other two former hosts that speak through her - besides Jona Rez - and with her combined experience of four people locked into one person, she is quite resourceful. Besides, even Jona Rez seek to thwart this enemy of ours, having been of great assistance when we first interrogated Ensign Sonja Acreth."

Jien fell quiet at that point, letting Cinn digest what had been said.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #7
Cinn sat silently through the pacing, listening carefully to every word.  His elbow rested on the arm of the chair in which he was seated, chin on his thumb and index finger resting on his lips.  Admittedly much of what Jien was telling him he had already read from reports but while he had left out the details of the infection  there were some interesting snippets that Cinn had not been privvy to before now.

So that was why Rez had been made XO, she had unwittingly made the recording that caused the Relativity to know exactly when to arrive.  He remained stoic, despite the challenge in the eyes of his Captain to say something, although he thought about how such a fortuitous happenstance could have changed the fortunes of the Trill woman so much.  Really what he needed was to talk to her himself, find out for himself what kind of person she was.  This multiple personality mishmash of personas was disquieting for him, at any given moment could one of the other personalties be speaking to him?  How would he be able to tell which one it was and what their motives were?  No, he was definitely not comfortable with it and hoped he'd get a chance to speak to this woman at the gathering later.

He was very glad to hear that Jien didn't trust her completely and for the same reasons he didn't, although he didn't personally know this Jona Rez.  Then he went a spoiled it by saying he did actually trust Edena and the two others but not Jona, although he had helped with the interrogation of the known enemy.  It was the first twitch in his still expression, frustration at his Captain's indecision about the woman, whom he was supposed to trust above all others, causing his eyes to narrow momentarily. 

He blinked it away, his eyes returning to the, now silent, man stood nearby.  For a moment he said nothing at all, letting it all sink in and putting the thoughts of the XO to one side where he could mull over it later.  Cinn sat up straight and took a deep breath, letting most of it back out before speaking.

"It's like being back home all those years ago," he mused softly, "a superior enemy that should have wiped us all out but we held on, desperately, alone and losing far too many good men and women."

He rubbed his brow thoughtfully, "They aren't going to play fair, they aren't even trying to from what you're telling me.  I'm going to say some things that you aren't going to like but you'll listen because you know I won't shut up anyway, it's why you didn't transfer me years ago.  Starting with Directive 010: Before engaging alien species in battle, any and all attempts to make first contact and achieve nonmilitary resolution must be made.  I think you've done that one already, it didn't work.  Regulation 3 (Paragraph 12): In the event of imminent destruction, a Starfleet Captain is authorized to preserve the lives of his crew by any justifiable means.  Every moment we are still here, still a threat, we are threatened with imminent destruction.  I think you have to consider a more persuasive form of interrogation on the enemy in the brig and, when it has given us all the information it can, we give it to medical to pull it apart and find out exactly what it is, how to detect it and most of all how to kill it.  Finally, if we can find where it calls home, General Order 24."

Playing nice had gone, this was about survival now.  Jien, he knew, would want to stick to the rules and maintain the pretence of being good Starfleet officers.  That was how he was, he always had been, Cinn was giving him the proper, procedural reasoning for doing some things that might seem questionable.  Maybe this was why he had been sent back, he could do the cold, heartless things that needed to be done and live with the knowledge of it.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #8
Indeed, Jien Ives listened to Cinn while he recited the Starfleet regulations in order to validate his argumentation, without interrupting him and without any sign of ire. He went to lean against the edge of the desk a short distance from the Bajoran, folding his arms, and as he did, he changed... into her female form. She did so merely for the sake of being able to meet Cinn's eye more directly instead of looking down upon him where he sat. Her words were not meant to be overbearing, but succinct and clear - the issue of rank not to muddle the waters. So with her arms folded underneath her uniformed chest, she spoke in her crystal clear voice.

"Make no mistake, old comrade," she said, dark eyes unblinking, "I have invoked General Order 24 once already when I ordered Lieutenant T'Less to destroy the planet Niga, and given the ruthless nature of this enemy, I have no compunction about doing so again if we find the root of the Federation's corruption. With Regulation 3, I have motivated all our tactical actions that have forced us to destroy entire starships, at the split seconds where there was no other resolution to be found; where we couldn't disable their engines or strip them of their weapon systems. The cost of duty has become steep for us, with hundreds of dead and thousands of surviving family members on our conscience. If your chance at a second life has made you doubt my fortitude and resolution in this guerilla war that we fight, then you may test your assumption at your earliest convenience by asking any of the survivors what they think of the matter."

Momentarily, the acute grief and shame of all the hurt Jien had caused passed like a shadow across her face, yet even as the emotion lingered for a few syllables, her brow tilted forward and cast her gaze in iron. "Like you said, we are still here. We are still a threat to the enemy, yet while we remain threatened with imminent destruction, that does not sanction torture of the unarmed and parasitically possessed, much less execution without trial and the dissection of what may still be a Starfleet Officer. An Ensign with a name - Sonja Acreth - that may be rescued from the parasite or power that has come to possess her."

Placing emphasis in her standpoint, Jien pushed away from the desk as she continued, her voice less cutting. "Until proved otherwise... there is still hope that all the people we have lost to the enemy may still be returned to us. If we can, I want to preserve that hope for everyone aboard; that the people they once knew back home may still be who they once were. We need to destroy the enemy, and not loose those we hold dear in the process," she said and took a deep breath, looking out at KNZ space before continuing, "I have faith in Dr. Nicander that he can find a way to scan and discern the nature of what may be inside Ensign Acreth. Until we know more, I am not prepared to kill her for the same answers that he may provide us with."

Turning to face Cinn again, Jien clenched her jaw, yet she gave the Bajoran a faint smile to show she did not hold his suggestion against him. She knew his motivations and she agreed to some part with his convictions in a place as dire as theirs. "We are currently in an extreme situation and the truth about what has transpired must outlive us all. Now, however, it is more important than ever that we preserve the invisible web of rules and regulations that keep us from anarchy. At some point, we may even have to seek unorthodox allegiances to achieve our goal, yet the principles and ideals of the Federation makes us who we are regardless the opposition. For if we should loose what Starfleet once stood for... then what are we trying to save?"

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #9
Cinn listened respectfully as she spoke, the shorter incarnation cutting no less of a figure with her determination and strength.  She had her points, he knew what she was trying to do, trying to save for both herself and the rest of them.  The noble leader who would fight for justice and freedom, unbowed and unblemished by the evil enemy who sought to destroy all she stood to protect.  It was an honourable goal but he had seen noble leaders like her before, those who stood firm and held their heads high.  They had been among the first to be killed.  The ones who had survived were the ones who had learned to keep their hands clean, to object to everything those with looser morals had to do in order to keep them where they were.  She might as well have been standing on a battlefield at midnight wearing a glowing suit.  It was up to the ones who could to do the things she couldn't sanction, to protect the one thing they held dear but would do anything at all to protect.  It was so clear cut in her world, it was shades of grey in his.  He would protect his Captain from the things she did not want to have to do.

When she had finished he spoke again, "Have you any evidence that the host survives the parasitic infestation?  Are they aware at any level of what is going on?  Lucan is a great Doctor but be honest, we have limited resources.  Having him work on a scan that may never come to fruition is a waste of resources.  Let me liaise with him, work something out that will gather results and answers in a more reasonable time frame."

He held up his hands, palms facing towards the woman and fingers splayed in a gesture of acquiescence, "The Ensign will remain very much alive for this.  We need information, we need options and we need them now."

Cinn put his hands down again and sternly held her gaze, "If it were you in there, you were compromised by these things, wouldn't you rather someone did anything to stop it from spreading?  I know I would rather be torn limb from limb than allow this parasitic infection to cause any more deaths."

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #10
The counter-argument opened with a couple of rhetorical questions that Cinn knew Jien couldn't have any answers for, but in posing those questions, it was painstakingly obvious to them both that Cinn could not prove the opposite either. It was not worth the breath to raise any objection. The manner of approach and results were better fodder for thought. The CSec was right in that they needed more info and options.

"There is no guarantee that your methods will grant any more success than his. However, I do think you and Nicander will have to work together regardless since he will have to visit the Brig in order to perform his scans," commented Jien to the request of a liaison, and she paused in thought. "The CMO may have limited time and resources and your assistance might aide our cause in that respect. My fear right now that even if you say she will live, you might happen to obstruct Nicander's work since you are obviously of the mind that his efforts are a waste of time and would rather subject Acreth to interrogation followed by an autopsy. For example, Nicander has sworn the Hippocratic Oath and will not condone harmful interrogation techniques. I can already see how the two of you may have a conflict of interest, and at that point - when you will begin to argue - neither methodology will be successful. The two of you have no history of disagreements, true, but with two Lieutenant Commanders and their separate teams involved in this matter, I may have to give either one of you the authority when it comes to Ensign Acreth. "

She did not say who would be given authority yet, so far undecided, but she did counter Cinn's argument about Sonja's true will in the matter. "That you and I would give our lives for the sake of the greater good is obvious, yet I think you are being presumptuous about the rest of the people aboard. Also, if you were joined with the enemy, and Nicander would find a way to restore you to your usual self, you would be far more valuable to our cause than your dead body would ever be. Some may say the same about me in the greater scope of this situation."

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #11
Cinn wasn't annoyed by his captain's words, he had expected it to be honest, in fact he would have been more surprised by an agreement to his suggestion and probably would have questioned Jien's sanity.  He was, however, left a little frustrated by his hands being tied when all he wanted to do was find answers.  Still the fact he would have to help the Doc out with his side of things was better than nothing, perhaps he could learn something in a non-spoonhead-beating kind of way.  Unfortunately that's the way he was seeing it, this war against the parasitic race destroying the foundation of the Federation was so similar in his mind to the Occupation of Bajor.

One thing he did disagree with was Jien's view of the crew, to him they should all be willing to give their lives for the greater good.  Cinn said nothing on the matter though, knowing it wouldn't do any good.  There were just too few answers for Cinn's liking with far too many questions hovering around waiting to sting you if you weren't paying enough attention.

"Very well Captain," he said, not exactly happy but not entirely displeased, "I will liaise with the Doc as soon as I can to arrange something to be done about the Ensign.  He can take point simply because it'll be less messy his way, no arguments needed, I'll just be there in case it tries any funny stuff.  I know you think he can work miracles, I just hope you're right.  I suppose I should check in for a medical anyway, to make sure everything is working the way it should.  Just to be on the safe side.  I'm sure all of that can wait until after this party you have planned though, right?"

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #12
"Yes," said Jien, nodding her head to the question and slowly returning to the seat behind her desk. "It was one of the civilians aboard that came with the idea to me and Edena Rez, and admittedly, it might be something good for crew morale. Now that we have the chance, hidden as we are, we might use the opportunity to help everyone put Theta Eridani IV off their minds."

Seated, Jien folded her hands on the desk and looked towards Cinn. "I will announce your involvement in the interrogation of Ensign Acreth tomorrow at the Senior Staff Meeting, and I will let you inform your Deputy and your senior Brig Officer - one Connor Matthews, correct? As for the details, I will let you and Nicander work them out after the meeting, and I will give the authority to the doctor for the time being. If there are no results, I am open to having this discussion again, but with the doctor present so that he is not left out of the decision. I cannot foresee him agreeing to killing her, despite how she nearly killed him in the Harbinger's Brig, much less torturing her. Yet none of us can be sure where we stand on the matter in a couple of day's time."

Leaning back a bit, Jien folded her arms underneath her chest again. "Nicander's first priority is, however, the restoration of a badly injured Temporal Affairs Officer we had transferred to us from the USS Relativity. Did Ida brief you about him?"

Their conversations were usually on the pragmatic side of the spectrum, odd as it felt speaking of current events with Cinn since she had thought him dead and forever lost until yesterday. As rough and unorthodox as the Bajoran might be sometimes, it was still quite reassuring to have someone she knew well back on the Senior Staff. The rotation of Senior Staff members sometimes made Jien feel somewhat alone, always being unsure what their opinions would be. At least Thea and Dr. Nicander remained from the constellation that had left Earth that fateful day three months ago. Now, Wenn Cinn was there too, and while she found merit and grandness in all her current staff, it felt good to see an old face again.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #13
They were back in safer territory now the subject had changed.  Cinn simply nodded as Jien acknowledged that things could change rapidly and she would have to adapt with whatever was thrown at them.

"Ida told me about the time ship and the crewman they left behind.  I take it he was injured in the escape from the planet?" Cinn was aware of the man from the future but had not had the chance to catch up on every tiny detail of everyone's goings on in the interim between meeting with Ida and meeting with Jien.  His priorities had been his own department and the changes in senior staff, which to be fair had been enough to go through in such a short space of time.

Cinn examined his Captain's face as she stood there, considering how most species would be showing physical responses to the stress of the position they had been thrown into.  Hair colour changes and lines appearing on the face were the two most obvious but with Jien there was none.  The unique nature of the Chameliod meant that no matter what life threw at Jien she would remain looking the same.  That was probably quite an advantage since a leader who looked like the toll of their position was wearing hard would probably lose the hold over some of the people under them. 

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #14
"Indeed he was. Severely so," said Captain Ives with an introspective look as she was assaulted by the memories of what had happened in the nightmarish ruins of the hot springs. "When the Calamity triggered the tectonic event, the sulphuric ashes and minerals made the nearby thermal springs acidic, and Lieutenant Morali tried to save his dying Ash'reem mate - who had managed to climb up on some driftwood in the middle of the springs. I tried to stop him, but he dove in anyway, and I had to dive in after to try and save him. I hoped to save both, of course, but it was evident the girl was beyond saving."

Jien needn't illustrate how evident that must have been if seen from a distance. Not to Cinn, who had seen his own share of pain and death. Details of Amikris Noetin's plight were moot to the account of what happened.

"Nearly died myself, and had died if the crew had not pulled through and our new Science Officer had found a way to lock on to the remaining crew on the ground by using their life signals. As for Morali, Ash'reem breathe and absorb water through their hair and skin in their natural habitats, in case you did not know that, so the dying body I returned with to Sickbay was hardly recognisable. The girl had no life signal when the Theurgy found us, so her body remained."

Looking away, Jien took a deep breath. "She was the vessel of hope for their people, for in her DNA laid the key to solve their species' nigh extinction. You see, despite of the Niga virus' vile nature, it had - combined with Doctor Nicander's antidote - caused a mutation that elevated Amikris' ability to carry children. Her mother even wanted to preserve the virus for sake of her people, but I had to deny her plead. The risks of a second outbreak was too high, and it was reasoned that Amikris' DNA would suffice."

Turning her head back, Jien's gaze was hardened in certainty. "It's easy to be wise in hindsight, and while it seems we were wrong, I would rule the same way if I had to make the choice again. Just like the choice to dive in after Morali, for as crude as it may seem, it was not compassion for their fate that drove me, but the unique advantage we have in Morali when facing our enemy - the only means to respond to the temporal incursions that the enemy make in order to stop us."

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #15
"I think everyone is glad that you didn't perish down there.  I can't even begin to imagine that kind of loss, we've all lost friends and colleagues but to lose the chance to keep your whole species alive?" Cinn shook his head slowly.  The depth of the loss was unfathomable, to lose the chance at saving an entire race of people because of the attack was beyond hideous.

"No one will blame you for any of it and no one would question your reasoning for wanting to save Morali considering the circumstances.  I doubt someone like you could have been completely pragmatic about it, and I mean that as a compliment, despite your protestations about it being purely about the information he possesses you will have had the compassionate response.  You just can't help it, Jien, you are just too nice," he smiled, teasing his Captain gently but being genuinely humbled by the lengths s/he would go to for the crew.

He paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts about the immediate future, before speaking again, "I'll leave speaking to Nicander until after this party of yours on the holodeck then.  I hope it's not just for the crew however, I think you could do with a bit of down-time too.  I'll be there, I've got to make my presence known again and talk to some of the new arrivals before they get themselves into any trouble.  The sooner people stop staring at me for coming back from the dead the sooner I can do my job."

"Is there anything else that requires my attention?" he asked.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #16
The loss of the Ash'reem species was indeed great, but as Cinn said, perhaps worst for he who almost died trying to save it. Double so because he would wake up being - biologically considered - human, and because of his MEM-treatment, thinking himself unjustly trapped in the current century.

"Solely pragmatic? Hardly," said Jien in confession to Cinn's words about her motives when she dived into the acidic lake. "I would like to think I am not all about the mission, even if it is my prime directive. I sympathise greatly with Lieutenant Morali and his plight, and I feel a certain amount of guilt for bringing him aboard to aide us."

She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "He might have volounteered, but that hardly matters when he cannot remember doing so himself. It's likely he knew what might happen to him and Amikris Noetin on Theta Eridani IV, and he might have volunteered because he thought he could preserve his people in this alternate universe - where the enemy has ruptured everything that would come to be. The Temporal Directive did not allow him to tell me when I accepted him aboard, and after his Memory Engram Manipulation treatment, he did not know his motivations either."

Cinn suggested that he'd meet with Dr. Nicander on the morrow, and to that, Jien simply nodded her head. "I will be there as well, of course," she said, not entirely sure it was such a good idea as Cinn thought. "No, I do not think there is anything that we cannot discuss at the Senior Staff Meeting tomorrow. Glad to have you aboard again, and I hope that - despite the circumstances - you are equally ready to resume your duties on this hellish voyage we have ahead of us."

She smiled faintly to him, a bitter-sweet expression. "Dismissed, Lt. Commander Wenn."


Re: CHAPTER 01: Old Comrades [1100 hrs.]

Reply #17
Cinn stood slowly and nodded, "Aye sir.  It's good to be home... I just have to make it home again.  Getting my quarters back to the way I like them is always so much fun.  It's why I like long-term postings, unpacking is my personal enemy."

He smiled warmly at his captain, "You know I'd rather be nowhere else in the Universe, don't you?  In a situation like this, I know of no-one else who I would rather be serving under than you."

He turned and headed to the door, his tone changed from supportive to his usual brusque manner, throwing a wave as he went, "Enjoy your party, I'll see you at the meeting tomorrow.  The door swished open and he stepped through it, vanishing from her view and back out into the land of the living.

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