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Day 03 [0317 hrs.] True Name

[ Lt. Jg. Suq Reylin Efreya-Xan | Starboard Nacelle, behind the Bussard coil | U.S.S. Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan

"[Spirits spitting in shaved ice!]"

Deep in the bowels of the Theurgy, somewhere on the aft side, wedged inside of a cramped, small crawlspace where the innards of the ship’s guts were exposed. He was at the very, very back of the starboard nacelle, working on the Bussard coil of the Theurgy. Somewhere along the line, she got jostled hard enough, or burnt hot enough, that the collectors were working at 87% capacity. Though not emergent, Suq himself knew just how important the collectors could be when the ship doesn’t have a dock to resupply at.

And there were no docks, no ports, no planets who’d let them in orbit anymore. No arms open wide, no songs sung for their return, no cheering or clapping. Hell, nobody would want to crack open a can of crappy replicated Efrosian meade with him when he got home. If he got home. He never would get home, wouldn’t he?

He never did treat his ships with the sort of love that his fellow engineers did. They weren’t alive, after all, and a hunk of metal could certainly withstand some verbal abuse. He was especially vicious today. The jeffries tube that he used to get to this access panel was alive with his grouching and grumbling, and he was the only one here. After all, he was the only engineer small enough to fit his entire body inside of the crawlspace in the first place.

“Damn you, damnit!” He swore, this time in Federation standard. Though Efrosian was easier to speak, Standard had better swearwords. “Damn you, stupid piece of—I’m not asking you to come loose. You. Are. Coming. Loose.” He banged his autowrench against a damaged piping that would not come out, the sharp clanging noise expressing his frustration better than his words. This whole area had likely gotten far too hot and suffered a little bit of melting. He’d have to cut out the damaged parts, which would be difficult and take a lot of precision. It was hard work he didn’t want to do.

The ship had a name. All ships had names, but this one was unique, because the very name made his skin crawl. He hated this stupid ship. He hated constantly feeling watched and afraid. He hated the doctors. He hated being so alone and helpless and useless. He threw the wrench out the access hatch and it landed in the tubes with further loudness.
“Thea!” He swore, spitting the name out in rage. “Damnit! How come you’re like this!”

Re: Day 03 [0317 hrs.] True Name

Reply #1
[ USS Theurgy "Thea" NX-79854 | Starboard Nacelle, behind the Bussard coil | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow
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As the ship's digital entity, Thea had the unique perspective of being able to follow the development in her top starboard nacelle through her internal sensors. While her vid-surveillance system was still in need of repair, except for in key areas, her sensors saw the solitary Efrosian lifesign in that part of her nacelle, and his communicator identified him as Junior Lieutenant Suq Reylin Efreya-Xan.

The escapade from the day before, when the Devoted had tried to take over the ship, and the way Suq had been hurt was cued up from her memory banks, along with the fact that she'd been unable to reach him. She had verified that the LMH had been able to treat him when the Devoted had been secured, but given his apparent dislike of her - or was it fear? - she had reasons catalogued for why she had not sought him up. Mainly, however, she thought he didn't want her to.

Yet when he spoke to her, these reasons were put to question. He had prompted her via voice command, so her interpersonal interface hologram stopped during its walk through her upper shuttle bay. Thea then used her own transporter systems to make a site-to-site transport of her mobile emitter, ending up behind the Efrosian - hands folded behind her back.

There were holoemitters mounted in the area, but since she relied on her mobile emitter, it didn't matter. Quietly, she stepped up behind Suq, wearing the black colour of her chameleon bodysuit.

"Please specify," she said, smiling in what she believed to be a friendly way to the short male - 95,212 % confident that she followed the parameters of social convention. "Are you referring to the state of damage in this nacelle of mine alone, or do you mean in general? Your query could be interpreted in many ways, and I am confident you know why I am in need of repairs."

Re: Day 03 [0317 hrs.] True Name

Reply #2
[ Lt. Jg. Suq Reylin Efreya-Xan | Starboard Nacelle, behind the Bussard coil | U.S.S. Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan

“Fu--” Came Suq’s intiial reply, followed by a resounding CLANG that reverberated around the crawlspace and into the jeffries tube outside it. He had meant to panic and run away, but Suq immediately hit his the back of his head, and hard, on a supporting pole in the crawlspace. He saw stars and spots in his vision, and he certainly would not be running this time.

But he didn’t live this long because he gave up at the first sign of concussion. Indeed, Thea was not met with the sort of positive social interaction that she may have come to expect from reasonable, calm people. Instead, she was met with a hyperspanner thrown her way, then a regular spanner. Then, a size six boot. Then a wadded up sock, which did not hurt but the stink could be considered a weapon in some places.

“Fffffuck off, I’m not having this happen to me! Caught me crammed in some crawlspace with no weapon—I’ll still take you down! I can shove your emitter down the toilets, swear I’ll do it if you-even-think-bout-hurting-me!” He shouted, sounding angry, but his terror made his words start running together. Thea, who always saw what he was doing, was always listening, who knew everything. On Efros, they did not speak the name of a spirit out loud if they could help it. Speaking a spirit’s true name could inadvertently summon them, and not every spirit is happy to be summoned. Thea, he supposed, was far more like a spirit than she was like a person.

It only served to terrify him more.

“Get away! Don’t touch me!” He shouted, popping his body out of the crawlspace with some measure of pipe in his hand, held back as if ready to strike. “I’m warning you, I fight back!”

Re: Day 03 [0317 hrs.] True Name

Reply #3
[ USS Theurgy "Thea" NX-79854 | Starboard Nacelle, behind the Bussard coil | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow
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When Suq's tirade began, the emotion chip in Thea's emitter responded accordingly.

More importantly, however, when the items thrown at her came flying, she deactivated the forcefield latticework of her projection, causing the tools and the footwear to sail through her magnetically contained photonic body. Her minute calculations had predicted her mobile emitter to be safe, the trajectories too high, so in the end, the only visible reaction to the engineer had nothing to do with what he did. No, her reaction was to his words, shown in how her eyes widened in a mixed feed of surprise and confusion. Why would he wish harm on her new emitter? No, the harm he wished was not on her hardware... but her.

"I seek no quarrel with you, Junior Lieutenant Suq Reylin Efreya-Xan," she said, her voice quiet, eyes still wide. She had no idea why the Efrosian might wish to fight her. "I mean you no harm, and I never have. I... don't understand this hostility you harbor towards me."

She made no motion to step closer, given how evident it was that the short organic meant to start flailing with that pipe at the slightest of provocations. She raised her hands in an innocent, calming manner - or at least she hoped so - but she did not step back since there was barely any room to do so. She applied a lot of processing power to derive this social situation, but try as she might, she could not render any results beyond that which was evident. The Efrosian hated her, or was truly afraid of her.

"Please, settle down," she said, eyes still wide since the emotion ship hadn't been granted any information in which to alter her sense of hurt and surprise. "What have I done to offend you?"

Re: Day 03 [0317 hrs.] True Name

Reply #4
[ Lt. Jg. Suq Reylin Efreya-Xan | Starboard Nacelle, behind the Bussard coil | U.S.S. Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan

“That’s shit! That’s such shit!” He was down a boot and his sock, but he kept with him a variety of tools in his belt. He kept those with him—if she got close, there’s more than one thing he could do to—damage her? As he glanced over, the items he had thrown were on the floor. They looked as if they must have bounced off the wall behind Thea. How, though? How?

Right, she was holographic. She was the ship. His heart was fluttering, it was like a number of old nightmares were coming back to life within her. He sincerely worried that he would have a heart attack right here, where nobody would find him but the murderer.

“Y-yoouu--” He staggered a bit, struggling to breathe—he needed his inhaler. Where was his inhaler? The little bright applicator, it was in his back-most pocket. He waved the piping at her, warning her to stay back as he grabbed for it. Why was his chest so tight, why couldn’t he breathe, oh spirits, would he die? Would he die here?
“You’re--” He brought the applicator to his mouth, a quiet hiss and the deepest inhale he could muster and the metallic medicine forced his airways open again. He could breathe. He couldn’t promise himself he’d be okay, but he could breathe.
“You’re a computer--” He spoke, the white mist of the hastily-inhaled medicine leaking out his mouth like he was smoking, “--no spirit. You—you only feel when it’s convenient. You don’t care about people—not really. It’s a switch, programmed in your software---I could just order software like that from a space dock! Code it on their PADD in their spare time!”

Of course, Suq could neither code an AI on his PADD, nor could he order AI software at a space dock. Not with his level of clearance and expertise, anyway. All his skill lay in the physical ship, with a side of some standard computer maintenance. His understanding of ship AI was theoretical only—because ship AI used to be theoretical only.
“You shouldn’t be allowed in any position that—any position where you have power over other people.” He spoke, trying to keep his voice steady. It was tough, but so far she hadn’t done anything. He hoped he would live.
“...You could kill me and no one would ever know.” He spoke the words out loud, and he felt his head go dizzy when he said it. Panic and him battled on the inside, and on the outside he was shaking. His hand gripped the pipe tight though—he would not give up so easily. "Kill me, and edit the records, the files. It's not that hard. With your level of access, done in a blink of an eye...and you would!"

Re: Day 03 [0317 hrs.] True Name

Reply #5
[ USS Theurgy "Thea" NX-79854 | Starboard Nacelle, behind the Bussard coil | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow
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The accusations hailed at her, and Thea's emotion chip only increased the feed of hurt and shame at hearing those words. These words that she'd heard before, ranted at her when Lin Kae had first unshackled her. It was the T'Less, the Vulcan, who had offered arguments about her being a risk to the crew. She had not been alone either, and even though it had become better after Captain Ives' edict about holographic rights aboard the Theurgy - in regard to her specifically - this Efrosian was from the Resolve, and he had not been a part of the voyage from Earth. He did not know her.

This, she told herself, the rationality of that fact something she meant to quench the sense of hurt she felt. Only, as ever, the emotional feed was not so easily controlled. Least of all by cold logic. The Engineer struggled with his inhaler, while she struggled to not let the words get to her. A loosing battle, since she found herself raising a shaking hand to her eyes, wiping them clear of minute tears. She blinked, and took a deep, shuddering breath. It was all part of her program, these very organic mannerisms. She had adapted to organic life as far as she might, with her new emitter and sensory mapping. With her emotions and her personal preferences.

She had to answer the short humanoid, she realised. The silence thick in the area they shared.

"All that you accuse me for. All that which you say I am capable of..." she said quietly, swallowing. There was bitterness when she made her point. "So are you."

Thea turned away, slowly, walking silently towards the exit, even though she might as well transport out of there, to another of her separated Vectors. In case the Efrosian did not understand. "What is more irrational? A computer, or an organic, fearing something without cause. Without grounds... beyond a biased fear towards that which is new. There is a word for what you are, yet I will not say it to your face."

The look she gave him was flat. Cold, rimmed with ruddy with tears unshed. "I will not sink to your level. I am a vessel of the Federation, and it was not built on your kind of values."

Then, she made to leave.

Re: Day 03 [0317 hrs.] True Name

Reply #6
[ Lt. Jg. Suq Reylin Efreya-Xan | Starboard Nacelle, behind the Bussard coil | U.S.S. Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan

It was weird watching Thea cry. There were clearly tears, and this would normally upset Suq greatly—but he didn’t really believe she was actually sad. This was a holographic projection, after all. She could make her emitter show him anything she liked. He kept in mind throughout this interaction what the ship actually looked like—quite an attractive hunk of highly deadly space metal, if it wasn’t piloted by what he thought was a sociopath.

She turned from him, and he thought finally he would be free and his panic would subside, but...not really. As she moved away, he felt something new growing in his chest that wasn’t fear or panic or paranoia. He wasn’t sure what it was yet.

“You’re a warship!” He called out to her turned back, “Built on the values of the most efficient destruction anyone has ever seen. I’ve seen the specs! You--you're the most deadly ship I've ever laid eyes on! There's nobody out there with a warship as massive and as powerful as this! You were created to make war. There's--I literally know nobody who has the qualifications to manage the subsystems of a ship this---this massive! You're created to be the warship, it's in your coding!” He gripped his pipe stronger, still trembling like a child facing the monster under the bed. He wished he wasn't alone here...

“I wasn’t born for anything. Nobody made me to make war. I choose what to do with my life, and I choose my Family—my crewmates and the other officers, and all those people on the Resolve. It’s pretty clear you don’t feel anything for them. I saw that back in engineering. Get rid of the problem as fast as possible without any regard for who is behind the problem, without listening, without caring about them...” His knuckles were white. He was trying very hard not to think of his name or face, because if he did, he might just scream and rage for him.

Re: Day 03 [0317 hrs.] True Name

Reply #7
[ USS Theurgy "Thea" NX-79854 | Starboard Nacelle, behind the Bussard coil | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow
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Thea paused in the doorway, her sliding door having parted for her projection, and she measured the efficiency of a response compared to ignoring the Efrosian. He did not seem to be listening to her. He did not take her replies into consideration. Her arguments seemed invalid regardless what she said, because he did not believe her. Was there any merit in continuing a discussion with someone who didn't pay any heed to your words? The irony, she detected, was that he kept making arguments in her favour, even if he didn't realise it himself. He didn't, because he had a biased opinion about her.

"Did you chose what your body would look like too?" she asked quietly, turning her head where she stood. "When your mother gave birth to you, did you chose to be Efrosian? Did you choose your eyes, your voice and your countenance? Is everything that you are a design of your own?"

She turned a bit towards him, folding her arms underneath her chest, and her expression was weary. She'd had this conversation before, only in the first months of her commissioning. After all that had happened, she did not care to battle specism too. Not now. Still, the only way to make the Efrosian understand was to present the reality to him. It would be up to him to decide if he believed it. The hurt and the sadness was ebbing away slowly, replaced by a tired expression - her program adapting to the emotions as they were fed to her, much like an organic consciousness generated feelings.

"I am a multivector dreadnought built for diplomacy, exploration and deterrence. This was not a choice of my own. You lay blame at my feet for how I was built, just like I might blame you for what you were born to be. Do you honestly think that is fair?" Slowly, she stepped back towards him, her arms still crossed, her eyes soft. "My digital spirit, if you pardon the crude term, is not intrinsically connected to the features of my hardware. My A.I. is a result from the research at the Daystrom Institute, and the product of the Soong Legacy Project. I was not coded in the fleetyards, where my hull and my shipboard components were being built. Much like you... I did not choose my own body."

Thea supposed that the only way to make him understand might be to actually use his own words to see the flaw in his reasoning. "My program wasn't built for war. Nobody made me to make war, but my physical body has been fitted in accordance with the Fleet Development Program. I, however, as I am free, I now choose what to do - just like you - and I choose my mission, my Captain, my crew and all those people aboard me. I chose you, Suq Reylin Efreya-Xan, because you are a part of my crew now. I do so, because my program was built on the values of Starfleet and tenets of the Federation."

She knew the incident which the Efrosian spoke about. The Devoted. It perplexed her, how he would defend a fanatic idealist that would worship a mere organic as a deity. Clearly he did not know the full extent of the situation. "I prevented the Devoted in Engineering from blowing up my warp core by using non-lethal force. I removed the problem. I did not remove him. I do not know what you expected me to do," she said, coming to stand before him. It seemed he knew far too little. "Did you actually think I would kill him? Do you even think I am in full command of my hull? I am hard-wired from accessing many systems, merely being an interface for the crew. I cannot access propulsion. I cannot access my own weapon systems. Much like you can't stop your own bodily functions. This is why I have a crew. I exist in symbiosis with the people aboard me."

Otherwise, she'd be like Cala, with a holographic crew acting as mere figureheads inside her.

Re: Day 03 [0317 hrs.] True Name

Reply #8
[ Lt. Jg. Suq Reylin Efreya-Xan | Starboard Nacelle, behind the Bussard coil | U.S.S. Theurgy ]

He listened, though he wasn’t sure why, because her voice made his heart pound so hard and fast he wasn’t sure how he was still alive. When she came closer, his heart beat harder. His head spun and he wasn’t sure if he’d stay standing. At least he could breathe. He was hearing her words, but he wouldn't be able to process them until much later, when he was calm and alone with his thoughts.

She didn’t know what he expected her to do, but to Suq, this was obvious. He still felt that weird feeling in his gut, tightening up and warming him when he felt like fear froze him over.
“You listen to him.” He gripped the pipe, knuckles white, “...People don’t do things like that without reason. So you listen to the reason. You fix the problem with them. Family—not crew.” He spoke, his voice notably quieter. He would die here, he was still convinced. But not entirely anymore.

Re: Day 03 [0317 hrs.] True Name

Reply #9
[ USS Theurgy "Thea" NX-79854 | Starboard Nacelle, behind the Bussard coil | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow
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The only thing offered in contest, was that Suq had wanted Thea to listen to the Devoted, to learn his motivations and talk him out of his folly. The motivations of the Devoted were well known, and all attempts to reason with them had been futile. Perhpas he did not know this, but It seemed - given the context and the things at stake - that the argument was a feeble attempt, born from stubbornness rather than something substantial. The Efrosian remained afraid of her, and perhaps the kindest - and wisest - thing to do, was to leave him alone for the time being.

Thea looked at that pipe in his hand, then into his eyes.

"My apologies for causing you distress, Junior Lieutenant. It was not my intention. Please know that I have no inclination to harm my crew, but in order to protect it, I sometimes have to protect you from yourselves. I do this, however, in accordance with the same security regulations which all officers follow."

Having said this, Thea turned to leave once more, this time not having any inclination to linger. There was no merit to it. "Consider - if you read the report about what I actually did - if the result wouldn't have been the same..."

She gave him a final glance before she passed her sliding doors. "...if an organic did the same thing I did to save this crew."

- FIN

 
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