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Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

[PO3 Lillee t’Jellaieu |  Bridge | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Argyros

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Two weeks. Fourteen days. 332 hours. Depending on the situation, such a span of time could pass by in a heartbeat, there and gone again with its passage unnoticed and unlamented. For Lillee t'Jellaieu, however, those two weeks had been straining in a way that she could never have expected.

Tossing and turning in bed that night, Lillee sighed, rubbing her eyes wearily. A quick glance to the side confirmed what she knew: it was only midnight. Another six hours until she had to get up for her shift, which typically consisted of a dull patrol run in her Valkyrie through the Aldea system. She groaned, but there was nothing for it; her body was determined that there would be no sleep tonight. The cursed thing was that Lillee couldn't determine why.

Thus, reluctantly, she swung her legs off the bed. "Lights," she called, and her small quarters duly illuminated, the small viewport depolarising to show the endless traffic and repair activity outside the hull. Clad only in a simple loose shirt, Lillee's gaze lingered for a moment on the picture by her bedside.

In it, two blonde children, a boy and a girl, grinned back at her, their pointed ears angled proudly through their hair, their cranial ridges barely discernable at such a young age. The picture was several months out of date by now, having been taken several weeks before the Theurgy's blood-soaked flight from Earth, but even that image had required horrendous effort to retrieve from databanks far away in the Federation. For a few more seconds, Lillee gazed at her twins with longing, but she knew herself. She missed her little devils more than anything, but for once, they were not the cause of her insomnia. No. Something else was afoot.

Thus, after a quick shower and donning a fresh uniform, Lillee walked out onto the decks of the Theurgy. The immense starship was separated  in three at present to facilitate easier repairs, but even so, it was enormous. Lillee could walk the various decks for hours, and given the late hour, the decks were almost deserted. So, with a conscious relaxation, she let her thoughts drift away, her legs permitted to roam where they pleased.

It was an old adage, so old that nobody was quite certain whether it was Romulan or Vulcan: henn'qi nummea kan'ti sufv liymet far''haan. "Quiet the mind, awaken the soul."

The relaxation of Lillee's mind was such that she didn't notice where her legs were taking her. When she arrived at her destination, it actually took a while for Lillee to realise she was there: the Bridge. Waking up from her self-imposed absent-mindedness, Lillee looked around with bemusement. Why was she here? She was a fighter pilot now, and she had no place on the Bridge. Indeed, save for a bored ensign at Ops, the large space was deserted. Logical, of course. Starships in dock didn't need full duty shifts on the Bridge.

Then again, Lillee mused, it wasn't her first time here. The ensign at Ops eyed her curiously, so she flashed him a small smile. "Petty Officer t'Jellaieu. I hope you don't mind. I flew the ship from here once, and I was curious to see the Bridge again."

A half-truth, but an innocent one. The ensign frowned, checked her identity, then shrugged his acceptance. He didn't say anything, which suited Lillee's mood perfectly. It was perhaps odd to let an NCO onto the Bridge without permission or reason, particularly one wearing the white collar of TAC CONN, but these weren't ordinary circumstances. In any case, the Theurgy's resident AI would ensure that Lillee didn't do anything with the controls.

Amidst the preternatural silence and dimmed lighting, Lillee moved to the conn, sliding into the seat. Momentarily baffled, having no idea what to do, she loaded up the ship logs from one of the Theurgy's many battles in the Azure Nebula: when Vector 03, the Stallion damaged and alone, had come across the USS Cayuga, and shortly thereafter, been ambushed by a squadron of vengeful Asurian saucers.

The battle played out on her console much as she remembered: the sudden attack, the desperate rush to defend the strickem Cayuga, the frantic dogfight, the often dangerous maneuvers that Lillee had forced the Stallion into to comply with Commander Stark and Lieutenant Yukimura's orders. The former was safe and sound, though Lillee hadn't seen the impressive woman since that same battle, but the latter was quite dead, killed by the Borg. Compartmentalising her sorrow, Lillee continued watching the record of the battle, wondering...

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #1
[ Lt. JG Derik Veradin | Bridge | Deck 11 | Vector 3 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff
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Acting Chief CONN Officer Derik Veradin stepped off the pad in Transporter room 4 aboard Vector 3. He sighed heavily, exhausted from a full day of running diagnostics and tests on each of the vectors. Both the Helm and the Sword had a few minor issues that took WAY too long to iron out, and the Trill was just praying that the Stallion was faring better. It wasn’t as if the repair teams had done their jobs poorly or anything, Derik simply had much narrower ranger of tolerances for helm controls. He preferred them to be as absolutely responsive as possible, so that even when it wasn’t him piloting, whoever stepped up wouldn’t experience lag time with control inputs.

Walking down the halls was eerily quiet. Even at night, crew were usually going about their duties, traveling from station to station. Tonight though? Tonight, there was quite literally no one transferring the hallways. Veradin tried to distract himself from the oddity with thoughts of how he’d spend the next two days off. Despite the shore leave for all crew here on Aldea, as a department head, he felt it was necessary to check on things constantly. Perhaps that was simply his sense of duty getting in the way. Oh well.

A short turbolift ride up one deck and the Trill found himself outside the bridge. He stepped inside, finding skeleton crew on deck. One, a female officer was sitting at the helm. Odd. No reason for someone to be at the controls when the ship isn’t going anywhere. He stepped close to the OPS station, greeting the ensign quietly so as not to alert whoever was fiddling with the pilot station.

”Who’s at the helm station?”

”Petty Officer t’Jellaieu sir.” The ensign answered. ”Something about wanting to see the bridge again after piloting the Stallion at some point?”

Derik pulled up the petty officer’s records, curious. TAC CONN, which as a bit strange given the setting. The helmsman however saved judgement for when he was to address her. Callsign Bloodwing, fairly exemplary record, etc. Everything seemed to be in order. Still.

Walking slowly to keep his footfalls as quiet as possible, Veradin moved to stand just behind the woman. He looked over her shoulder, watching a series of ship helm logs play out across the controls. It seemed that she was “reliving” one of the vector’s previous engagements. Derik continued to watch for about another forty five seconds before finally speaking.

”Evening Petty Officer. Anything I can help with? He wasn’t accusatory or anything, simply asking why she was there.

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #2
[PO3 Lillee t’Jellaieu |  Bridge | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Argyros

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Lillee was so absent-minded, so adsorbed in the battle recording, that at the sound of the male voice behind her, she jumped in her seat with a startled eep! Fiercely embarrassed, Lillee stood up and turned, facing a handsome Trill lieutenant. It only took a moment to piece it together, though she hadn't yet met the man; Trill, lieutenant, red collar, knew her name, standing at the helm.

"Lieutenant Veradin," Lillee said, bowing her head slightly in an attempt to regain some lost dignity. "Excuse my intrusion, I didn't know anyone would be working here tonight." She glanced back down at the helm, which showed the climatic moment of the battle. A display showed the forward view as the Stallion surged through the battlefield, red phaser fire lancing out and striking an Asurian saucer, the burning Cayuga visible in the background with another saucer lodged in its hull. Quite without meaning to, Lillee glanced around the darkened and deserted Bridge, remembering what it had been; Commander Stark, inexperienced and unsure but shouting out orders anyway. Lieutenant Yukimura, manning Tactical, firing the vector's weapons as fast they could cycle, but struggling to hit the infuriatingly nimble saucers. The strange Borg girl, doing...whatever she had been doing. Captain Ziegler, demanding to be returned to her ship, wrecked though it was.

The frantic scrambling to meet the surprise attack, the smell of overheated conduits, the panic and fear of an unprepared and understaffed crew, the shouting of orders and reports, Lillee's intense concentration as she worked the Helm...she remembered it all, vividly.

Lillee took a deep breath to steady herself, returning her attention to Veradin. "My apologies, sir. I was recalling the battle we had with the Asurians, just after meeting the Cayuga."

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #3
[ Lt. JG Derik Veradin | Bridge | Deck 11 | Vector 3 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff
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”Yes I don’t usually announce where I’m going when running triple checks on the helm systems. I like to keep everyone on their toes, make sure we are all keeping up with maintaining the interfaces. Tonight however I’m working late to make sure there wont be any issues with the repairs.”

The Trill looked back and forth between the Petty Officer and the console. Based on the playback, it did appear to be the battle with the Asurians. Derik had made it a point to watch the recordings when he had time so he could keep up with his department. It might have been a little excessive but knowing what each vector went through helped him to focus his efforts on areas where there wre most likely to be future issues with the ships. After nearly having the Helm’s core explode in that nebula, the Chief helmsman was being a little paranoid.

”Easy there Ms. t’Jellaieu. I don’t have a problem with what you’re doing. Replaying previous engagements can help you learn from them; help you realize where you could do better next time. If you want to continue, by all means do so.” Smiling politely, he sat at the OPS station instead, converting the controls over to CONN so he could run his tests.

”Perhaps though, you could try to be less awkward when showing up during the graveyard shift. Ensign might’ve let you in, but you still shouldn’t normally be here during this hour.”

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #4
[PO3 Lillee t’Jellaieu |  Bridge | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Argyros

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Lillee nodded, glancing at the Ensign at the back of the Bridge who looked distinctly embarrassed at the discreet reprimand. The boy moved to the back of the Bridge, giving Lillee and the Lieutenant a modicum of privacy, and as Veradin sat down at Ops, Lillee sat back down at the helm. She considered the battle replay, thinking, before glancing back at Veradin, sat just next to her.

She didn't know the man, nor did he really know her. Although Lillee had technically been assigned to CONN for a few days, the chaos in the Azure Nebula had precluded any chance of meeting him. Still, if the rumour mill held true, Veradin was a competent officer with a good head on his shoulders. He certainly made for a contrast to Commander Ravon, even if the differences were subtle, so much so that Lillee wondered if she was imagining them. One man flew starships; the other flew fighters. The latter was more intense, more stressful, more thrilling...

...more dangerous.

Lillee breathed out slowly. "I didn't exactly mean to come here tonight, Lieutenant. I just...drifted, I suppose you could say? Something was eating at me, and I couldn't sleep. Something about that battle. Or this." She worked the helm, minimising the battle replay in favour of the default helm controls. The warp drive and impulse engines were powered down with the Theurgy in dock, of course, so there was nothing to see, but nevertheless, Lillee pondered.

"You know, I have flown large ships before," she mused. "D'Deridex-class warbirds, an Akira-class, even a Galaxy-class briefly. Still, I have never flown anything like this vector. The impulse engines are incredible...the sublight acceleration, balancing all that thrust to keep her steady, so much responsiveness for so large a ship. I was able to outmaneuver and outrun saucers a fraction our size, enough for Lieutenant Yukimura to kill them."

She smiled in an odd absent-minded sort of way. "I know that the Theurgy has less propulsion per ton when all three vectors are reunited, but you have so many more thrusters to play with, and an AI to reduce response time. What is it like to fly her?"

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #5
[ Lt. JG Derik Veradin | Bridge | Deck 11 | Vector 3 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff
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Listening to Lillee explain how she ended up on the bridge was distracting but mildly fascinating in a weird kind of way. Perhaps it was she asked. Perhaps it was the glimmer in her eyes as she described a little of her experiences. She was pondering the previous battle, it was written all over her face.
”How does it fly? Like one of those Earth Orcas with rockets strapped to it. Big but surprisingly maneuverable.” Derik tweaked the thruster controls while silently praying Thea wasn’t listening. If she heard how the helmsman was describing her, she’d probably have some words of her own.

”Thea would kill me if she heard that.” He admitted. ”Truth is, for such a big ship, Thea is the finest vessel to fly I’ve ever had the pleasure of helming. After a little while, she starts learning your preferred patterns of doing things. I remember a couple days in, I sat down  at the helm and found the controls had been altered to my presets before I had a chance to do it myself. I’d been changing them myself, experimenting with placements to improve response times. The controls had been optimized for me. I doubt it took her too long to figure out how I might like the control layout, but the fact that she did so was amazing. It was such a small gesture that ended up meaning a lot.”

”Here. Look.” Derik tapped the controls, bringing up his personal settings so Lillee could see the differences. ”See?” Some of the control inputs had been moved around from the standard layout, and some of them had even been resized. An extra line of control were off to the far right side, several buttons going down in a line. The Trill pointed at them. ”I didn’t make these. Thea did. Instead of having me tap anywhere from five to ten controls to perform a specific maneuver, she created quick controls so I could activate them and keep one hand on the stick.” He pointed at the lowest five keys. ”These she created so I could alter power levels. With a tap of a key I can adjust for the more intensive patterns. Or if there is an overload forming, two taps and I can cut power before things get too bad.”

Derik leaned back, taking a deep breath. ” So what is it like? It’s like being directly hooked into her engines. Like she was an extension of my arms. Even our Valkyries don’t have this kind of interface. Thea basically covers for my ‘Human error’. She lets me fly but will make sure I don’t fall.”

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #6
[PO3 Lillee t’Jellaieu |  Bridge | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Argyros

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Lillee's eyes widened as the lieutenant explained the controls. "Impressive," she said, her hands tracing various command sequences on Veradin's personalised layout without her hands pressing the buttons. It wasn't quite to her preference, as Lillee generally preferred more control options to 'dance' through, but the ergonomical advantage was undeniable.

"You're right, the Valkyries don't have this," Lillee mused, glancing at Veradin. "D'Deridexes have a predictive interface system like this, but we constantly had to fight the computer to not over-do it. Balancing the singularity at high warp was a nightmare, even when the computer wasn't tweaking your display halfway through your shift. This, though...Thea is far superior. Having sentient flight assistance is a dream. If I ever meet Thea, I must talk to her about this."

Lillee leaned back in her chair, feeling her back creak in protest at her not being in bed. "Lieutenant," she said slowly, a nascent thought starting to form in her mind. "if I may ask a personal question...why do you fly the Theurgy, and not a Valkyrie? Surely you must have thought about it, yes? The life of a hotshot, dodging torpedoes and flying through Borg cubes? Most of the Wolves would likely die rather than go back to flying starships, I think."

And many had, Lillee thought darkly. It wasn't often spoken about, either on patrol or in the locker room, but the attrition rate for the Wolves since Sol was horrific. Lillee herself had replaced an officer who'd suffered a traumatic brain injury, disqualifying the woman from flying again. She hadn't given it much thought, hadn't allowed herself to think about it, but the casualty rate stuck in her head.

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #7
[ Lt JG Derik Veradin| Bridge | Deck 11 | Vector 3 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff
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A smile slowly formed on Derik’s face as Lillee commented on the superiority of Thea’s interfaces. When she began explaining what flying a D’Deridex was like, the Trill was genuinely curious to know more. For such an oddly shaped ship, in the Trill’s opinion at least, the damn things were surprisingly nimble in many respects. They were also rather large. Larger than he thought might be necessary. With such a spacious design, it must take forever to get from one place to another.

The conversation took a darker tone thereafter, which surprised Veradin a little. ”I’ve asked myself that question a few times now.” He responded in a much quieter and serious tone. ”Part of me longs for that rush again. Flying solo, responsible for no lives but oneself, hunting a part of a small but vicious pack going after much larger prey. It would probably be less stressful than flying a massive starship like Thea and not having to worry about every tiny impact on the ship’s hull might be killing several crewmates.” He thought about his next words a little more carefully, intent on not sending the wrong kind of message.

”Part of it probably has to do with my station. As a senior staff member, my place is wherever I can lead my department most effectively. In this case, I would have to say that is from the bridge. Sitting at the helm helps me keep track of the larger picture. In a Valkyrie, my attention would be somewhat limited to whatever smaller engagement I was taking apart in at that very moment.” The Trill leaned back in his own chair, contemplating how else to explain. ”I don’t think that should be considered a copout or anything, but the reality is that I’m responsible for more lives than myself. I cant tell you how it can eat away at me when we lose lives from enemy fire that I should have been able to avoid.”

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #8
[PO3 Lillee t’Jellaieu |  Bridge | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Argyros

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"The work matters." The words came out without conscious thought, startling Lillee briefly. She pursed her lips, letting her mind roll where it willed. "Flying a Valkyrie does matter...yes, it matters," she said, as much to herself as to Veradin. "My wingmate at the Apertures, Goldeneye, she saved the Cayuga. We would have all died if not that one Valkyrie, but she so nearly died doing it. Nearly died a couple of times. So did I. We all nearly died out there. I had an Elements-cursed drone hanging on my fighter, trying to break into my cockpit before I scraped him off. I was so scared already, flying through that cube, firing my phasers...that monster scares me more now than then."

Lillee chuckled, sitting back in her chair and wiping her face with her hands. "Oh, excuse me, Lieutenant. I am rambling. I never got scared before, when I was flying for the Empire or fighting in the war, but...this is ridiculous. A scared Romulan. I am dishonouring all the Federation legends about us, aren't I? That we're all fearless devils, scheming and untrustworthy? Yet I think about fighting another big battle in so fragile a thing, so easily killed, and my babes could lose their mother...that scares me more than any Borg or Parasite."

She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose before glancing at Veradin again. She was quiet for a long moment, thinking, before the words finally came. "Sir, if I requested a transfer back to CONN, do you have a need for one such as I?"

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #9
[ Lt JG Derik Veradin| Bridge | Deck 11 | Vector 3 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff
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Derik’s fingers stopped mid command input. Did he just hear the Petty Officer right? She wanted to quit being a fighter pilot? Now that was a surprise. Sure, she made a good argument for herself. Flying around in a Valkyrie was a huge risk. They were tough little ships but not invincible. One good hit from a larger vessel and you were atoms and debris floating across the cosmos. Given the risk it posed to one’s family too? She had risked her life enough in a proverbial “tin can”. If she was being distracted by thoughts of her family while out there it would endanger her squad mates too. What was he to do? Did he approve her transfer back to CONN and leave the wolves with even fewer pilots? Did he deny it and send her back, potentially to her death? No. No that would be a mistake of epic proportions. She was already having doubts, already second guessing her transfer after a mere two weeks.

”With your experience Mrs. t’Jellaieu, I will always have need of you. Your varied piloting history alone makes you extremely valuable. Piloting a ship as large as Theurgy, even one of her vectors alone is challenging itself. Since you’ve had experience with larger vessels, like the D’derdexes, I wouldn’t mind having you somewhere more advantageous to your abilities.” Derik smiled at the woman. ”I’ll push the transfer papers through in the morning myself. Might take a couple of days but I’ll do what I can.”

He made the final adjustments and began one last simulation to check his work. Everything was reading green but you just never knew. Having Lillee back in his department would help with staff and he was sure he could find a suitable assignment relatively quickly. Perhaps somewhere on the safer side while she worked on what she wanted specifically. Being on the ship alone was dangerous, but if she started worrying a little less about what was going to happen to her in the next few seconds every time they got into a scrape, she’d be able to focus better. Not that he had any doubt in her abilities given what he’d learned.

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #10
[PO3 Lillee t’Jellaieu |  Bridge | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Argyros

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Lillee smiled gratefully at Veradin. "Thank you, Lieutenant," she said quietly, looking up at the main viewscreen. It showed the usual view up ahead, the blue curve of Aldea with occasional dots of civilian and military shipping passing by in orbit, a spectacular view made ordinary by its ubiquity. She pondered whether she'd miss the Wolves, but realised almost immediately that she wouldn't. She hardly knew any of them, after all. Goldeneye had been a solid wingmate, Salvo was a fine flight leader even with the rod up his ass, Razer was a capable SCO...and that was about it. Lillee knew Angel and Ghost better as naked and drunk rather than clothed and sober. It wasn't much of a squadron bond, really, and they'd still be on the same ship, fighting the same battles.

The decision, having been made, settled Lillee. It was like a warm blanket had settled around her mind, stilling its restlessness and anxiety. Feeling more comfortable, Lillee twinned her board to Veradin's, watching him work. Tired though she was, it was at least good experience. Lillee had never been trained on the new Odyssey and Theurgy-class starships, so watching Veradin tweak the helm was far from perfunctory curiosity.

"Finishing your shift?" she asked, glancing at the man himself. "You look exhausted, Lieutenant, if you'll forgive the observation."

Re: Day 14 [0050 hrs.] Aimless, Insomniac and Alone

Reply #11
[ Lt JG Derik Veradin| Bridge | Deck 11 | Vector 3 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff
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Derik certainly didn't mind hearing the observation. He chuckled and glanced towards the Romulan with a crease in the corner of his eye. "That obvious? Yeah, it's time to call it a day."

In short order, he finished up the simulation and got up on his feet. He faced Lillee and put his hands on his hips, looking at her while the light from outside Thea's third hull shimmered across them both. "I look forward to having you back. This ship has had a lot of losses in my Department, going back as far as when they fled Earth," he said, not counting himself among those who had served aboard Thea since that fateful day. He had stepped aboard at Starbase 84, and served diligently since then. His many predecessors at the helm of the ship did suggest that he should warn Lillee, since it seemed that even if there was a thicker hull to protect her, she might still end up dead. Then again, such was obvious, and he wouldn't insult her intelligence by suggesting the Theurgy's mission was anything but dangerous no matter in which position one might serve aboard.

"No worse than the Lone Wolves, of course," he added, and stepped towards the exit, thinking about the personnel files of those who'd been at Thea's helm before him. Lawrence O. Lance, killed by friendly fire during the Niga Incident. Cale Winterbourne, an Ensign that had been executed during Captain Vasser's mutiny, back when the Theurgy had teamed up with the Harbinger. And then Aisha S'iti, who had fallen to a stray phaser beam from a Devoted on the Main Bridge. He'd seen her die himself, from the adjacent Conference Lounge.

"We'll speak more on the morrow," he said giving her one more smile. "Good night Petty Officer."

- FIN

 
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