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Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #25
During the debate, Captain Ives had watched Thea where she stood, to gauge her reaction to what was being said, for it had struck her how Thea had just recently been given her rights as a sentient being. That made her both unique and an unknown minority among all the species aboard. Therefore, Jien thought that the situation in the conference lounge was reminiscent of how a black woman in the early 20th century would walk into a military tent in a warzone, pleading for the life of a black child soldier - urging the commanders to mount a rescue mission behind enemy lines. The only real difference in the present situation... was that Thea was not only that military tent, but those guarding it too. Starfleet programming or not, this was her digital progeny that they discussed, and all things considered, it was well within her ability to cause severe damage aboard if she did not get what she wanted.

The silence lingered before the Theurgy's Chief Medical Officer spoke up.

"I find myself to hold a somewhat biased opinion," said Lucan, and the exotic Câroon man looked - as always - as if he was a bit uncomfortable in his uniform. His people walked barefoot and wore lose robes, and right then, it seemed to Captain Ives that the doctor was remembering that time in his life. "A dear friend of mine was reduced to a catatonic state of mind, unable to fend for herself. Therefore, neurosurgery was the very reason I became a doctor; why I travelled to Aldea to earn my degree before I ended up in Starfleet Medical. Therefore, I find myself strongly opposed to the Calamity's A.I. being reduced to her core programming, since to me, it would be equivalent of reducing to a similar fate, minor technical differences or not. In my regard, it would be more merciful to deactivate her permanently."

T'Rena was not slow to support her Captain, however, speaking from her place at Vasser's right side. "The Calamity is an asset we should try to secure for the sake of our mission, by any means possible. The cost of one emitter already copied from Cala's own version seems negligible compared to what is to gain, especially if we do not stand to loose the Theurgy's Ship A.I," she said, her brown eyes flat as she looked at no one in particular, "The odds of survival for anyone boarding the Calamity besides the A.I. projection is, however, less than one percentage. Therefore, I recommend removing tactical information from the copy of Thea that is to be uploaded to her new emitter and beamed aboard the Calamity as soon as we manage to deal with the shields. As for the A.I. aboard the Calamity, it is tactically sound to rid it from corrupted subroutines as efficiently as possible, and that would demand a complete reset to her original programming. This A.I. should, by then, be able to tell if it will suffice."

Taking a deep breath, Sjaandin Fedd nodded slowly. "I was opposed to the idea at first, but I cannot argue with that logic. We have far less to loose compared to the tactical gain, and resetting the Calamity A.I. seems to me the most humane thing to do considering what has been done to it. Like Chief Ravenholm, I wish we knew what was done to her core programming... Either she was made corrupt, or she was corrupted post production, which could mean that she might be restored. I am, however, confident that Thea should be able to handle it either way once she'll reach that holographic laboratory."

Thea's stoic countenance looked grim to Jien, but after Vasser, T'Rena and Sjaandin Fedd spoke, she looked a bit more optimistic. "Thank you for this confidence, and if I am allowed to undertake this mission - alone as I might have to be - then I will make sure that I live up to everyone's expectations," she said, hands still folded behind her back, and then she turned her head to look on Jien, and she looked back without saying anything at first, which caused Thea to ask the obvious question. "Captain, may I... please... save Cala if there is any hope left for her?"

The Senior Staff was utterly divided on the issue, and when Jien finally spoke, he rose to his feet, and changed... to her female form. She hoped that it might soften what she meant to say, if only for the lighter tone of her voice. Her austere look, however, was a mirror image to what her male form would wear.

"No, Thea," she said, the edge in the two syllables crystal clear.

"But Captain..." said the Ship A.I. in a perplexed tone, "does this mean that I am less trusted to accomplish such a mission, or that I am not trusted to leave my physical body in any capacity? Does it..."

"I means I would not send anyone at this table on this mission," she said quietly, "if it was their son or daughter that was captured, corrupted, or even worse... not truly their child to begin with. Undertaking such a mission requires that your judgement is not impaired, and very few people could make the call to end their daughter's life... because that might be what needs to be done."

Thea opened her mouth, to protest no doubt.

"You are the only one that could survive this kind of suicide mission, and I do not trust your judgement, just as little as I would trust any mother blinded by hope as they ran beyond enemy lines. Our real mission is more important, and any tactical benefits that might be gained is moot compared to the risk of this enterprise. We must ensure our own survival, and that the truth does not die with us."

Her lips a thin line, Thea closed her mouth, hiding any A.I. emotion she might feel.

"We will do all that we can to disable the Calamity with the use of our gravimetric mines and the methods presented this morning," said Jien, her tone a bit softer, but still unyielding, "It is likely, however, that we must also destroy her to stop her. I make this promise, though, that if the right kind of opportunity presents itself... I will give the order to beam you aboard. As it stands, however... I do not think it likely."

Thea looked away, jaws clencing, and Jien walked up to her, laying a hand on her shoulder. "I hope you understand, even though you do not agree, and I hope you will be able to put your hopes aside, and won't let your emotions jeopardise the mission. I am positive that if I was a mother, I would do my best and lay my hate on the enemy that stole and corrupted my daughter at a time when I was not there to stop it from happening. If..."

"Thank you, Captain." Thea turned her head to look straight ahead. "I suppose I should return to my regular duties."

Jien did not let the self-reproach get to her, much less show, during the pause before she stepped back. "Dismissed." And after Thea walked out the sliding doors, Jien turned back to the seated gathering, who were so silent that not even their breathing could be heard. Jien did not let the shame she felt show, leaning over the table on her fists at her end of the table. The time for ethics and philosophy was over.

"In three hours, I mean to set a course towards Starbase 84, merely twenty-five lightyears from our current coordinates in the KNZ. We will go in dark, with our cloaks protecting us from discovery by Starfleet. When we reach the Starbase, we will get inside by any means necessary, and we will use it to project our message across all known networks and subspace links. Mr. Trent and Ms. Ravenholm, we are depending on you to make this happen. The truth must spread like wildfire across the Alpha Quadrant and beyond, and hopefully.... someone will listen to our call."

Standing straight again, Jien looked between the gathered faces as she laid out the hard facts, orders dealt with little to no room for objections. They needed to act before they were attacked again. "When we do this, we are left more vulnerable than we were down on Theta Eridani IV, since everyone will know where we are. Using Starbase 84 will ensure that our message is not blocked, but regardless of encryptions and precautions, it is definite that we will not be able to hide where it originated from. All committed fleets will come for us at maximum warp, and the Calamity will likely arrive first... unless she finds us before we reach our destination."

Jien paused to let them savour the odds that came to their minds. "Our chances of survival are low. Too low to tell our crews. We do, however, stand a chance if Winterbourne can align our warp trajectory with the Calamity as she goes after us, and the gravimetric mines does their job. Then, if the third time we face her proves us victorious... the cloaks will be our means to hide... until we finally find enlightened allies in the Galaxy."

By Captain Vasser's side, T'Rena opened her mouth to say something, but she glanced towards her commanding officer before leaning back in her chair again - silent. Since Vasser said nothing either, Jien gathered they were in accord.

Sjaandin Fedd was frowning, but since there were no objections, he spoke up after a while. "I do not know what the rest of you think, but I recommend we adjourn and start preparations. There is much to do, and we can only succeed if we are ready. We can all speak over intercom before we set out, right?"

Nodding, Jien seized the opportunity. "Agreed. Before 1200 hrs, I collect a full report from all departments, and those not ready have until we reach Starbase 84 to prepare. Each minute that pass is one more minute that the Calamity may find us. Dismissed."

[ Dr. Nicander ]

Walking out, Dr. Nicander supposed he may have looked troubled, and so be it, for it was not entirely feigned. Inside, the beast was howling in rage, demanding that this had to be stopped, and as for Lucan, he was not exactly keen on partaking in a suicide mission that would not only thwart the plans of his kin, but put an end to his own plans to avenge the death of Kisane. He had yet to find Sanael, and much less taught his native people the dire lesson they needed for the injustice they did to his long lost love.

Perhaps, he thought as he stepped into the turbolift, and the doors closed before his pale grey eyes, I should release Amikris' child... and let everyone have something else to worry about.

[ Captain Ives ] Attn: TheBanshee

As Jien left, she passed by Wenn Cinn in the corridor. "Deputy zh'Wann reported that she had already told you about this transfer request she made jsut before the meeting," she said, glancing up at the mountain of a man.

"Vasser is in need of a CSec, so I am merely wondering if you have any objections to make. Otherwise, I am prepared to approve the transfer. In either case, I want you to interrogate Sonja Acreth while we still have the chance, and report your findings before we set out."

[ Commander T'Rena ] Attn: Kurohigi

Walking next to Captain Vasser, T'Rena remained silent until they were out of earshot from the rest of the senior officers. They both knew that the surveillance system was down on the Theurgy, which proved quite fortunate given the delicate matter that they needed to address. When she was confident they were completely alone, he raised her even voice, not even glancing sideways.

"It would seem Captain Ives has pushed our hand. We may not have as much time as we wanted, but with the people that now see the truth, I am confident we can still make our move, and I estimate our chances of success to be higher than 82 %."

Only then did she look on her Captain, this vessel of hope for the survival of the Galaxy.

"Shall I make the necessary preparations?" she said, as if she was asking whether or not to set the table before supper.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #26
[Tia Marlowe]

The simplicity with which Captain Ives shut down the debate over Thea's away mission was astounding, brutal but astounding.  Tia felt as though the words had hit her physically as Jien continued and explained her reasons for denying the request.  Despite disagreeing with the Captain on this one there was nothing she could do to change her mind, Jien had a right to stop any mission if she so desired but Tia couldn't help feeling a sense of frustration and even distaste at the decision. 

After being dismissed she rose quickly and headed for the door, thoughts still churning in her mind about Thea and the fate of her daughter.

[Wenn Cinn]

That Jien had made an absolute decision on this pleased Cinn.  The Captain was showing that strength he'd known from before and was using it again effectively.  Part of him even felt relieved that there was no doubt over who was in charge after the recent exchanges he had been both involved in and witness to.

Cinn stood after being dismissed and headed out of the meeting room, he was wondering when the discussion regarding the fate of his deputy would take place since it had not during the meeting as he had expected.  Jien resolved that issue however and spoke as she caught up with him in the corridor.  he listened and nodded, "Ida spoke to me this morning regarding her request and her desire to take this opportunity.  As I said to her, if it what she wants then I would place no objection."  His tone was almost cold, almost only because there was a hint of emotion beneath the cool calmness of his words.  The request had affected him but he would not stand in Ida's way if she wanted to get away from him and take a stand on her own.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #27
[Lt. Cmdr Natalie Stark]

Natalie had made her best argument in Thea's favor. She'd done what she could, but it was clear that Cpt. Ives had to look at the whole situation, considering all the factors in play, not just the humane one. The curt dismissal of Thea tugged at Natalie, but then again, she could see that both commanding officer and hologram were trying to keep their composure and remain professional. She wanted to offer some words for the ships avatar, but the briefing was neither the right time nor place. And it wasn't like she was given the option to dwell on it long.

Captains Ives plan of action took the young ops chief by surprise. "Starbase 84," she whispered softly, sitting back in her chair. It was clear that she wasn't the only one that hadn't quite expected such a bold course. The times were desperate though, and she realized quickly that it would fall on her shoulders to help ensure the ship survived long enough to reach that starbase. The gravamteric mines were coming back to haunt her once more it seemed. The efforts her staff had done in assisting the tactical team would need to be redoubled. That cloak was going to draw extra power and her team would be on point to balance it out while the engine pukes kept the ship running.

Rising with the dismissal order, Natalie tugged her jacket back down into place and swiped the PADD off the table. She saw Lt. Fedd glance up at her from where he sat by her side, but she was still frustrated with the man from when he'd poked around in her head, and turned abruptly to put her back to him, and head out the door. She was on edge already, and did her best to weave in and out of the throng of senior officers unhindered. She wanted...well, she wanted to go find Rory and pick up from last night, but she didn't have time for that. So she would settle for briefing her staff on what they could get accomplished in the next three hours. She would shoot off a quick note to Sten Covington to keep him in the loop, but the Chief of the Deck had his own team to run roughshod over, and wouldn't need Natalie dragging him away from his duties.

No, it was the rest of her department that needed a run down of what was tot come. If she had her math right, she'd have just enough time for a quick meeting before getting down to main engineering to get into the meat of their issues.

She just wished she had a few moments to say something to Thea. And to Rory. But duty called.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #28
[Declan Vasser]

The meeting had not gone as he expected, but at the very least, T'Rena was there to give her analysis.  Though a Vulcan could often be a frustrating person to hold a conversation with, their practicality was appreciated when it came time for weighing options.  82% was a strong number, especially from a species who didn't weigh in the human factor, the effect of determination or the risk taking that Terrans were so well known for.  "Make any necessary preparations you need.  I shall place my trust and my faith in you on this matter, T'Rena.  Continue to serve well, as you always have.  This could be the only opportunity we have to make it work."

[Lin Kae]
His first senior staff meeting had not gone as he hoped.  It had been his goal to help Thea, to support her in her quest to save Cala, but Ives had found the greatest factor against the plan to be Thea herself.  She was too close to the matter, and could not objectively perform her duties.  Strangely, he respected the Captain for that, for treating Thea as he would a human crew member, willing to risk all for their own child.  "Thea," he said, getting the AI's attention.  "I'm sorry.  I know you wanted to be a part of this mission, to save Cala, but I think I might know a way you can still help in a way that might help us stop the Calamity without bringing harm to Cala.  For it to work though, we may have to do some upgrading and re-prioritizing of your systems."

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #29

Hayden listened quietly as the debate continued and silently wondered if they would all view this differently if Cala were a "true organic"? 

O'Connor doubted it very much.  While the other reasons identified by the crew were no less valid, Hayden believed there was still the giant elephant in the room, which everyone continued to touch upon, but did not say outright.  Picard was rescued because he was an organic being and despite assimilation, parts of him still were. 

There was no question his crew's admiration played a major role in their desires to rescue him no matter the personal risks.  He was one of their own.  Was Cala?

Even as questions continued to rage within her, another part of her recognized Ives had made hir decision well before he'd actually announced it.  That made observing Thea's expression no easier, and Hayden vowed to reach out to her as soon as possible.

The discussion concerning the safety of the crew was an unnecessary but powerful reminder she needed to speak with Ives concerning what had happened to Maya the night before, at the very least in hypotheticals. Despite everything else going on, Ives had a right to know there was a rapist in their midst posing just as much of a danger as anything the Calamity or the rest of Starfleet did. 

Particularly in light of all they'd already experienced in terms of sexual violation, Ives needed to know this.  Hayden had no doubt the man in question had gotten away with his crimes, perhaps dozens of times over, because no one had believed their experiences were as serious as the life or death struggles they all faced.  Hayden had promised Maya not to reveal her name, and the counselor was skirting her ethics as it was by not knowing specifically whom the attacker was, but that in itself made her uncomfortable enough.

Hayden followed Ives from the briefing down the corridor, intending to call for hir attention, when she noticed s/he was already speaking to the Chief of Security.  She slowed her approach, not wanting to interrupt but also not wanting the Bajoran to catch the topic of discussion before she or Maya might be ready for anyone to know anything.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #30
[ Theurgy "Thea" NX-79854 ] Attn: Lin Kae

Through the bio-neural network, Thea heard the call of Lin Kae's voice like any ship computer would react to the command "computer", and even though she walked the corridors a couple of decks below with her emitter, she still replied to her specialist through the intercom.

"I see," she said, sounding crestfallen, and not sure how she might confront Kae about his wish to reset Cala instead of updating her ethical subroutines and rewrite the parts that made her carry out her orders for the enemy. Yet if he had an idea that held such kind of promise, she was not going to object. "I will be in your laboratory with my emitter at 1050 hrs. It needs to be recharged. As for the upgrades and the reprioritising of my system software, I an looking forward to reviewing your suggestion."

Far below Lin Kae's feet, Thea entered her own quarters, looking around. It had been nice to have Selena Ravenholm sleep on her couch, but now the friend she had made the evening before - whom she had played Space Cadet with until well after midnight - had been forced to return to the Harbinger. During the staff meeting, Selena had tried to analyse the mission design and give new input, but it had not helped Thea's request. Lin Kae had done his best, but he'd had just as little success. She was and remained alone, and unable to change that fact.

She raised a gloved hand to her eyes, and when she looked at the glove of her suit, there were digital tears on her fingertips.

[ Captain Ives ] Attn: TheBanshee & The Counselor

Jien listened to Cinn with her brown eyes impassive, detecting that Cinn did not seem to like that his Deputy would leave but she made no comment towards it. Given the state of things, and all that needed to be done before they set off towards Starbase 84, the matter of the Deputy was negligible. "If you have no objections, personal preferences aside, then I will approve the request and inform Captain Vasser that the command-issue of his new on-board security team has been resolved."

Out of the corner of her eye, Jien noticed the Chief Counselor lingering in wait for an opportunity to speak with her, so Jien turned her head and nodded to her before addressing Cinn again - making him aware that there was a cue forming up so she was not brushing him off. "You have the interrogation of Sonja Acreth to attend to, where I recommend that Carrigan Trent and Petty Officer Cardamone is present given their insight on the nature of the enemy, aside from Dr. Nicander, of course, like we discussed yesterday. Furthermore, I want you to start arranging for boarding parties and a presentation of the Starbase's structural weak points. Sjaandin Fedd can deal with the problem of its outer defences, but you are the one best equipped to plan for the opposition we'll meet once we are inside. Carry on, Lieutenant Commander, and I am looking forward to hear your findings."

Once Wenn Cinn had excused himself, Jien turned to the human, and she changed... to his male form. He put his hands on his hips and considered what she might have to say to him.

"Hello O'Connor," he said with a quick smile in greeting. "Is this about Thea and my decision in regard to saving Cala?" he asked quietly, expecting anything.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #31
[Simon Tovarek]

After hearing the decision that was ultimately made by the captain, Simon stood up from his chair and took in a deep breath. He was glad that he survived his first senior staff meeting and still found the entire thing a bit weird. Yet there was a lot of work to be done and there was so little time to get to it. He reported to his own department to get any available hands down to engineering to help out there where they could. He than gathered his stuff and walked away. He paused by Tatiana as he reached the door however and smiled a bit coyish at her.

[Amelya Duv]

Once the meeting was over Amelya took her stuff and smiled at Carrigan before she walked towards him "Lieutenant Commander, quite an expose you had there." she complimented him on his presentation and ideas. Before he could answer her however she continued "I need to be heading back to the Harbinger, more patients await my care there. I hope to see you again... In the near future." she said with a smile and gave him a wink before she left the room. She than requested a site to site transport and just a few seconds later she was beamed off the ship.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #32
Hayden was surprised but grateful Jien had noticed her looking hir way.  She really didn't want to interrupt hir conversation but she could no longer keep what happened to Maya to herself.  All through the night and this morning Hayden had thought about what to do and agonized over her obligation to Maya and to the safety of the rest of the crew.  Hayden had watched over Maya and fought a war within herself between wanting to take care of Maya at all costs and needing to risk their budding professional relationship to protect everyone else.

O'Connor was a doctor so she'd seen a lot of horrific injuries in her career, many perhaps more medically severe than what Maya had endured, but there was something about witnessing injuries done to someone out of a need for sheer violence and control that made caring for someone after a rape so much different.  Even if Maya hadn't relived the rape in detail the night before in front of her very eyes, the images of Maya's battered body were seared in Hayden's brain.  O'Connor was just so glad she'd gotten to her in time because she believed her assailant could have killed Maya.

When Jien assumed his male form and turned to her, it was still somewhat disconcerting, but it was a testament to Hayden's currently distracted state that she didn't visibly startle.  Nor did she seem to know what1 s/he was talking about at first when s/he mentioned Thea, even though the AI had been discussed mere minutes before.  "What?  Oh no, not at all, sir.  At least not right now," she added.  "I need to talk to you about a very delicate matter concerning a member of the crew.  May we speak somewhere privately?"

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #33
[Lin Kae - Hololab, 1050 hrs] attn: Lucan

Kae met with Thea in the Hololab at the agreed upon time, where he was able to both maintenance her emitter as well as explain his plan to her.  The diagnostics for the emitter were quickly becoming routine, the holography expert breezing through the checks with great detail, but still making excellent time.  "There was the idea of a boarding party to take the Calamity, but the ship would be too fortified to allow such a thing, Cala too easily able to kill anyone who comes aboard the ship without her wanting them there.  I was then reminded of old techniques used in the 21st Century on Earth by hackers to crash computer systems connected to a network.  They would introduce traffic, multiple functions running simultaneously to take all the server's processing power and leave others incapable of accessing it themselves.  If we can bombard Cala's systems with traffic, in the form of randomized data, we would essentially be able to trap her in a gridlock and unable to contend with the crew that is boarding."

The plan was sound, expect that Cala's distinction as a ship from the future meant she had greater processing power then Thea, thus able to sort the traffic faster then Thea could provide it.  "Alone, you wouldn't be enough, but we also have the Harbinger as well.  I'm thinking if we can establish a computer link between both ships, you can use the processing power of both ships as a multi-core system to boost your own ability to bombard the Calamity computer.  We would just have to rewrite some of the code that links you to the Theurgy to allow for a simultaneous link to the Harbinger."

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #34
[ Outside the Conference Lounge | Deck 01 ] Attn: The Counselor

The Chief Counsellor truly seemed distressed about what she had in mind to tell him, so Jien frowned as he looked at her for a moment. "Of course, join me in my Ready Room," he said, motioning for her to follow him.

On the way there, he tried to probe her thoughts with some questions that mightn't have anything to do with what she wanted to talk about, but which nonetheless held some consequence. Last they spoke in private, she had been concerned about his well-being, assuming that he was suffering from the events during the Niga Incident and did not wish to open up to her. In his opnion, he had, and he had assured her as best as he might that he had put it behind himself. He had even sought self-assessment in revisiting a lover that he had been with before that incident, and he had not found any concerns at that point.

More recent events had strengthened his conviction, in the ease in which he became close to Ensign Henshaw, not to mention the... therapy he'd had with Skye Carver on Lohlunat .

"I read your report from when we left Theta Eridani IV," he said to her, glancing in her direction with a sympathetic expression around his eyes, "I understand from Thea that you were faced with a tough choice, and in the end, people had to die for it. I am sorry, Lieutenant, that you had to undergo that. I am sure that Ensign Cir'Cie is grateful underneath that Vulcan stoicism, small consolation as it may be."

Look away, entering his Ready Room as they were, he added, "Tell me, if there was any time to do so, how did you rationalise your decision?"

[ Holographic Laboratory | 1050 hrs. ] Attn: Kurohigi

Thea listened to the suggestion Lin Kae was making, folding her arms underneath her breasts as she looked at him. She was thoughtful, and not only in the sense that her analysis subroutines were indeed digesting what her specialist was saying, but she weighed indirect factors as well. Such as Cala's potential countermeasures and ability to, somehow, not process the external input data that she'd be assaulted with.

"So I would act as a conduit for the data that would mask our presence and actions, be it either through overwhelming her pasitronic brain's processor and delaying a reaction, or forcing her to deactivate the systems that we are targetting?" she asked, pacing the room.

She did not like not using her new emitter, having to rely on her ship-wide hologrid to project herself in the room. She felt so numb compared to when she could use her new sensory mapping, but not only did the emitter have to recharge, but it was imperative that the version that was to be downloaded into it would not have the kind of tactical information that could jeopardise the mission and the tactics that were to be used against the Calamity. Barring tactical information about her own actions, of course.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #35
Hayden was so focused on figuring out how she was going to put what she had to share into words that his questions were met with distracted answers.  O'Connor wasn't impolite exactly but her head and her heart were clearly not on herself or the past at the moment.  She followed him rather absently to his Ready Room, her professionalism ever present, but the sheer emotional impact of what she was holding onto weighing on her.

Nearly at the threshold to his office door, his question caught her completely off-guard, her confusion evident on her face.  Were she not so distracted, she might have taken offense at his words, the wound created by her decision to send a group of others to their deaths to save one, still quite raw.  As it was, she was working very hard to intellectualize his reason for asking.  "Do you believe I made the wrong choice, Captain?"  She didn't intend to be the counselor answering a question with a question, it just came out that way.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #36
It was apparent that what had happened on Theta Eridani IV did not sit well with Hayden O'Connor. Jien looked back towards her as he rounded his desk to sit down, letting her reply linger in the air for scrutiny - allowing her to reflect upon her own reaction with her own expertise. Of course Jien wasn't out to question her, neither now nor regarding what she had been forced to do, and he tried to make it clear when he spoke next.

"I was not there, Lieutenant. I do not know what I might have done myself, so I am not questioning your decision. I am merely asking if there was a reason why you did what you did; if there was something that compelled you to save the Science Officer rather than your former crewmates on the other side of the chasm." He gestured for her to sit if she so wished and opened the computer console that was resting on his desktop. Various PADDs were stacked there too, ordered in piles by department or issue aboard the ship. Above the glass cabinet, where golden models of the ships Jien had served upon were displayed, a lacquered black sword-stand held Arashi, the memento of his foster father. A dai-katana that he had kept since before he joined Starfleet Academy.

As he opened the list of messages that had arrived during the Senior Staff meeting, Jien added, "As Starfleet Officers, we are trained to act under pressure, but we were never taught to operate outside the fleet, renegades as we are now considered. Nor were we expected to be on the run for almost three months, fighting impossible odds at every turn, and facing an enemy such as the Calamity and those that sent her from the future to obliterate us. What happened down on Theta Eridani IV has left many of us with scars; new wounds on top of those that had yet to heal after the last ordeals. Now more than ever we need you and your rehabilitation officers... and yet you must also be given the chance to speak of what happened on that mountainside."

Jien had not even begun reading his messages, looking to Hayden as he were, and he steepled his fingers below his eyes and met her gaze. "So, do you want to talk about what happened first?"

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #37
[Lin Kae]

"In 21st Century Earth, they would call it a DDoS attack, distributed denial-of-service.  A server can only handle so much of a workload before other attempted connections can't get through, so if you have a bunch of traffic coming in from one place meant to congest the server, then actual commands, like defensive measures Calamity could take against the ship, can't be sent out because she is too busy trying to get rid of the congestion.  The problem is that Calamity is a future ship, and thus has more processing power, likely able to clear congestion faster then you alone can make it."  That was where the upgrades came in, allowing her to clutter Cala and tie her up with a massive amount of useless data that crippled her from acting in aggression.  It was perhaps the most fatal flaw of a ship operated solely by artificial intelligence, and one they would use to make the operation go smoothly.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #38
[ Holographic Laboratory ] Attn: Kurohigi

"I understand," said Thea pausing in her pacing to look upon her emitter where it was docked to recharge. "It is basically the same tactic we used against the infected computer scientists that was trying to reclaim control over me during the Niga Incident, only this time, we have to use more data in order to overpower a far more superior adversary."

Turning to Kae, she put her hands on her hips and lowered her gaze to the deck plating while her pasitronic brain processors were working to derive a method to increase the data volume and distribution speed. Eventually, he looked up. "The key is to duplicate the data exponentially by copying itself when it leaves my memory banks, just so that I do not have to retain all of the data myself, and in order to prevent Cala from easily filtering duplicate input that she is recieving , we ned an advanced encryption key with a random seed that does not make all of the data look the same. Furthermore, we cannot use any data. It has to be internal sensory data which Cala will confuse for her own, and in order to assist the Theurgy and the Harbinger if we are in mid-battle, short-range sensor array input is equally crucial. The data-mass does not have to be separated though."

It would result in Cala receiving input that, for example, the Lone Wolves were having a dogfight with the Reavers inside the hull of her Vectors.

Thea, however, was still concerned that they were planning for an opportunity that wouldn't come, given the final word of Captain Ives at the end of the Senior Staff meeting.

[ To be continued in 07: Reconstruction ]

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #39
Hayden absently sat in response to Ives's gesture, more out of obedience than a true desire to sit down. She was too keyed up to think about having a casual chat with them seated politely across from each other, but his concern for her emotional well-being had clearly caught her off guard. Her expression showed she was focusing intently on his words, as if he were trying to convey some important technical details rather than emotional support, which she was certainly more used to giving than receiving. As she listened, she cautioned herself not to respond rationally or rudely, because truly, her first instinct was to tell him that no, she didn't want to talk about her decision. Given what had happened to Maya, Hayden's own distress seemed insignificant. Perhaps it was just distant, and now it had been brought up front and center again.

As the Captain talked, she found herself frowning, embarrassed to realize she couldn't really remember her reasons for the decision she made, only that she'd made it, and a group of people had lost their lives. In fact, the more she contemplated it, the more she was reminded there were actually more reasons not to do what she did. A childish part of her wanted to again ask why Ives wanted to know her reasons for choosing to save herself and the science officer because her reasons, whatever she ultimately offered, would be evaluated once they were spoken aloud. However, she recognized she couldn't really talk about her feelings about the situation she was put in without talking about her ultimate choice.

O'Connor hesitated, and then like a runner who only knew she needed to run somewhere even if she wasn't sure of her direction, she pushed forward with her words. "I acted on instinct, Captain, that's the truth. I wish I could tell you I made a rational decision, that I weighed all the variables and made the logical choice, but the truth is, I haven't yet begun to make sense of why I did what I did." She paused, and thinking of Cir'Cie's words in the transporter room immediately after they were rescued, offered, "Cir'Cie thought I did it save myself, that I somehow determined I was of more value to the crew because I could help keep them focused and somewhat emotionally healthy for the challenges we face ahead." O'Connor shook her head. The thought that it could be true, even subconsciously, was just as abhorrent her as the idea itself. "Honestly, I couldn't tell you. The only thing I can say is that whatever choice I made, I'm certain I would be feeling just as horrible as I am now."

Hayden exhaled. "I know it's going to take time. However, in the meantime, there are more pressing matters than my emotional health. I'm sorry tell you this, sir, but a member of the crew disclosed to me last night that she was raped by a member of the Harbinger crew."

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #40
Sitting there, Jien did not frown of give voice to questions about what she had done or why, merely sitting there and listening to her words. She had advised him about disclosure and facing the wounds upon his soul after the Niga Incident, and it now seemed like they had switched shoes.

It was clear to Jien, having spent years as a Counsellor before he became a Commander aboard the Vendetta and changed to command and the diplomatic corps, that Hayden felt just as bad as she chose to divulge, and had come to the conclusion that regardless what she had done, she would have felt just as bad. This was a good state of mind to reach in such a short time, where she was no longer blaming herself for what she had done and instead - with her rational thinking - come to see the decision more objectively than most would have. She accepted the regret, but she had moved on. Jien wondered at which stage she was truly at though - in dealing with the incident - since she was well aware of the psychological origin to her own reactions. The risk she ran was to rationalise the incident too far and think her own reaction insignificant just because she knew how she was supposed to react, and supposed to grieve... without actually doing it. She might be moving on too fast.

Jien was just about to pick up on the idea that Cir'Cie had presented when Hayden switched topic entirely, and said something that made Jien forget all about the Counsellor's report. He lowered his hands to his desk and slowly inhaled some air to keep himself from exclaiming his utter outrage. His eyebrows furrowed into a scowl for a second, but with so little known, there was no recourse but to ask more questions instead of leaving the room to locate the poor woman in Sickbay, if that even was where the victim had ended up.

"How is she? Has she been taken care of by the doctors?" he asked Hayden quietly, having taken another breath to still the ire inside, "What else can you tell me? Can he be arrested?"

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #41

In a matter of nanoseconds, Hayden regretted her abrupt change of subject. The kind of news she had just dropped in Ives' lap should have been delivered with more care, especially given Ives' history of sexual violation. Had she changed subjects just to avoid her own emotional discomfort? Seeing the Captain's barely contained rage in his nonverbal cues, it was all Hayden could do not to wince. It was true she was feeling anxious, and although she could justify on an intellectual level that what she had to share was an immediate safety concern, she didn't like feeling she had sacrificed someone else's emotional well-being, even for a few seconds, to escape her own feelings.

She resisted the urge to reach out and place a reassuring hand against the Captain. What was done was done, and the best she could do now was provide answers. More gently, she offered, "The assault took place last night, during the event, apparently at the steam pools. I came upon the victim as I was leaving the turbolift to return to the event. She was dressed in her toga and about to get on the turbolift, but she was visibly dazed and disoriented, and even though she was mostly covered by the toga, I could see she was badly bruised. I could tell immediately her injuries couldn't have been accidentally or self-inflicted, and when I inquired as to what happened, it was apparent she was in shock. She resisted going to sickbay, so I suggested we return to my quarters as a compromise. She agreed, and once we arrived, I set up a recording to capture any statements, formal or otherwise. I also made sure to document and then treat all of her injuries."

Hayden paused. Subsequent events would be hard to talk about and hard to explain, but she had to. "I confirmed the woman in question did not consent to sexual contact with the Harbinger crew member. I also confirmed her injuries were the result of her initial attempts to resist the assault. That said, she does not want to report her assailant because she believes his actions were the result of emotional distress given all he has personally been through as well as recent events. She is convinced that although she considers what he did to be rape, by making herself available to him to do with her as he would," and here it was clear Hayden was swallowing her distaste, "she is contributing to his well-being and the overall success of the mission. According to her, his role and his place amongst the Harbinger crew is much more critical to the success of our mission than her own role, so consequently, she wants to protect him from any and all consequences. She also knows as long as she doesn't identify her assailant by name, I cannot break doctor-patient confidentiality on the grounds that the crew safety is at risk. I've come to you because it was the only compromise I could live with."

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, however, she realized once again, she had spoken aloud just to benefit her own emotional well-being. Certainly telling someone what had happened made her feel better, but she had essentially told the Captain something he could do little about.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #42
[ Captain Ives ] Attn: The Counselor

Jien listened intently to the information given to him, and he could not help that - with the incident in question - he became frustrated with the fact that he was given no name to vent his anger unto. He was left with am ominous impression that a senior officer from the Harbinger, which was his educated guess based on the scarce information he received, had raped one of the Theurgy's female officers during an event that was supposed to be insouciant.

Furthermore, in hearing about what had happened, Jien immediately regretted having said 'yes' to the Risian that had wanted to host the event. What had he been thinking? They had a mission, and with the Calamity likely to find them again, how could he have thought there wouldn't be people too on edge to handle celebrations like they had held the night before? Jien felt sick, had to stand, and did - pushing away to pace his Ready Room. He took a couple of deep breaths, stopped his hands from making the white-knuckled fists he was making at his sides, and tried to lessen the severity of his mordant stride. "Shimata..." he cursed under his breath.

His thoughts were upon this brave woman who would sacrifice her integrity for the mission, as misguided her standpoint might have been, and what he could do for her. That he felt responsible was, of course, erroneous on his own part, since he was not supposed to take the blame for the actions of a lesser man, since the festival itself should not have anything to do with what had happened. It could just as well have happened on any off-duty hour. Then, of course, there was his great sympathy, since he vaguely remembered a situation not too remote from what had happened to her - how the infected Chief Nolak Kalmil had used his Deltan abilities to take advantage of... her. With her thought, she had changed form, and she rounded on Counselor O'Connor.

"Instead of preserving the mission," she said, shoulders squared as she folded her arms, "she might be doing the opposite instead. I must be able to trust the people around me, and we have a lot of transferred personnel from the Harbinger. This person could be the most qualified at what he does, but if he would take advantage of a woman - regardless of her opinion in the matter - then I cannot trust him. Rape is not only a violation of everything we stand for, and the very tenants of the Federation that I have fought to preserve despite all that has happened aboard this ship. I do not care how emotionally distressed this man might be, violating women is - and will never be - justified."

Sighing, Jien realised that she was preaching to the choir, to borrow an ancient Christian etymology, and returned to stand by the desk in Hayden's field of vision. What was there to say, really? "I will... try to keep myself from allowing these news to affect the way in which I appraise the actions of the Harbinger officers around me. I cannot afford to make this ruin trust where trust is indeed to be found. If I were to be paranoid, it would affect my ability to make the right decisions when needed. So I ask you this..."

Jien unfolded her arms from underneath her chest and put her hands on her hips. "Try to encourage this poor woman to tell us more, so that there can be justice, and so that I won't have to look upon former Harbinger personnel as if they were all Schroedinger's rapists. No offence intended, of course." The barest of faint smiles ghosted across Jien's face, to take the rough edge off her words. Hayden O'Connor might have been from the Harbinger, but this was a male offender, that much had been established. "I know it is a foolish question, and I should not be asking it, but do you have anything more that you observed which we can give Security if I were to be asking them to make a quiet investigation right now?"

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #43

Hayden continued to watch the emotional fallout of her words as reflected in the Captain's facial expressions and nonverbal behavior. Even as her guilt persisted for springing Maya's rape on him so suddenly, she realized there was a certain amount of voyeuristic catharsis in watching Ives react. From the moment Maya disclosed what happened to her, Hayden felt an obligation to keep her own feelings in check, not just to so she could take care of Maya's needs, but because they were so overwhelming. There was a certain sense of relief in seeing the flash of guilt, anger, and sadness on someone else's face, as if now that they were purged from someone else, they were purged from all in the vicinity. Nothing could be further from the truth, but O'Connor took temporary comfort in the thought.

When Ives transformed into female form, Hayden was surprised and immediately curious. Was the transformation the result of intense feelings, perhaps some unconscious identification with the female victim? The counselor didn't know. For all she knew, she was reading entirely too much into it, and the switch had all the significance of a sneeze or stretching one's legs. Still, the transformation before her eyes was a reminder of all the questions Hayden still had about Ives' two forms and their connection to emotional state. Inquiring about Ives' feelings seemed inappropriate at the moment, however, so she resisted it for now.

As she outlined all the reasons why Maya's logic was faulty (though, of course, she didn't know it was Maya in question) Hayden simply nodded. O'Connor had considered all of the same points and thought about how she might convey them to Maya in a way that would compromise her psychological state further, but in the end, she had decided against it. Ives didn't see the Vulcan doctor relive her violation in real time the way Hayden had. Sheer instinct or perhaps it was sheer cowardice, told her not to press Maya any further than necessary. O'Connor got the distinct impression if she did, whatever strings that were holding the Vulcan's fragile psyche together, would snap. Hayden was going to do everything in her power to prevent that from happening.

She was gratified the Captain wanted to pursue an investigation, even quietly. It validated her own instincts to document evidence and Maya's statements, even though it had the potential to compromise the therapeutic relationship and potentially damage any investigation. Seeing I've struggle with what to do next made Hayden's honesty that much more difficult to offer. "Honestly, Captain, I feel fortunate to have gotten as much out of her as I did. I considered turning over my recordings with her to either yourself or someone from security, but I fear it will only help to identify the victim and not her perpetrator. Given what I have observed, I'm afraid even gentle questioning will cause further psychological harm to her clearly fragile psyche. I've also repeatedly replayed her words over and over in my mind, and I cannot come up with one potentially identifying characteristic that could point us in the right direction. I've captured his DNA, I believe, during her medical exam, but I've not yet made an attempt to compare it to any DNA which might be on file for the Harbinger crew. Without her cooperation, any legal proceedings wouldn't go anywhere, and whatever trust she has in me will forever be damaged."

O'Connor paused, then offered, "Naturally, I will be working with her therapeutically and I'll do what I can to get her to disclose. I'm hopeful with time she will see the flaws in her logic and consider making a full report. However, like so many have done with the incidence of sexual violation in the past, there's a part of her who thinks she doesn't have the right to treat what happened to her as a criminal violation given her assailant's psychological state. She considers him a victim of external trauma, much like so many focus on the infection or the other life forms when they discuss their own sexual traumas. The external cause has become a way to explain events, and therefore, a way to convince herself what she suffered, if she can permit herself to call it suffering at all, was nothing compared to what he suffered, or what we'll all suffer collectively, if she simply doesn't say anything."

Hayden met Ives' eyes and held her gaze sincerely. She wondered if the Captain would see any parallels between Maya's response to her assault and Ives' own reaction to the trauma she had endured. It was perhaps a tad manipulative of Hayden to make the comparison, no matter how true it was. In actuality, Maya had been more open about her own suffering than Hayden believed Ives had been about hers. Or was it his? She wasn't sure.

Re: Chapter 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #44
Something about Lieutenant O'Connor's words, the way she phrased them, tugged at Ives as she was seated before the counsellor. It was likely imagination, that Hayden would be alluding to their argument down on Theta Eridani IV, so with a pause and a look, Ives disregarded the notion.

"If you have a sample of the perpetrator's DNA, and given the fact that the identity of the victim won't have to be compromised, I think there is a way to proceed with an investigation. Quietly so," Jien added to forestall any comment about how it might hurt the victim if the investigation was made openly and the rumours spread like wildfire across all decks. "We won't have access to the DNA records of the Harbinger Crew aboard the Theurgy, but fact is that our Deputy - ThanIda zh'Wann - has unofficially been named the Harbinger's new Chief of Security. Therefore, as soon as she has settled in today, I urge you to prepare the DNA sample for analysis and contact her - sending her the data in order to find a match amongst the Harbinger's journals."

Since the Chief Counsellor did not know the Andorian Deputy, Jien explained her reasoning in so many words. "Lieutenant zh'Wann takes her job very seriously, and she will go the extra mile when it comes to the safety of the Theurgy's crew. If you only tell her that the DNA sample is important for sake of her old crew, she will likely investigate and name the match, but she can't make any arrest or hearing unless you tell her what it is all about. Therefore, I recommend you try to convince her to help out without telling her the purpose. She is not known for her... delicate touch towards people that she thinks will compromise the crew or the mission. I read in the reports that you aided her yesterday morning in the Brig, so I think you know that I am not exaggerating. I would like to have Wenn Cinn and I decide how we ought to proceed when we know who the likely assailant was, and involve Captain Vasser and zh'Wann as required in order to maintain good relations between the crews and not make this situation escalate."

Pausing, Jien glanced towards the chronometer. "zh'Wann will likely have settled in on the Harbinger around noon, so that's when I think you should get in touch with her. In the meantime, there should be plenty of time to prepare the data of the sample as well." Jien looked back towards Hayden and folded her hands on the table. "What do you think? I value your input in this matter, Counsellor. Do you have a better suggestion on how to proceed?"

Re: CHAPTER 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #45
Hayden listened to Ives carefully, and although the more that was shared, the more she agreed, she also couldn't deny that with each word she felt more torn. Hayden knew for the sake of ship security there had to be an investigation, but just providing DNA samples without Maya's knowledge felt like an ethical violation. Intellectually, she knew she was right on the ethical line, considering she was taking action to ensure the safety of Maya and the rest of the crew, but that didn't mean she felt any better about it. Providing the samples for comparison was one thing, but getting Ida's cooperation to run the comparison without being able to tell her why?  That  was an entirely different mountain to climb.

O'Connor had no doubt Ida was good at her job and capable of being discreet, but as Ives' had so diplomatically pointed out, she was not known for her finesse when it came to meeting her professional obligations while interacting with others.  Would she even do as O'Connor asked without knowing the reason?  If she needed to be convinced there was a good reason for it, what could Hayden offer that wouldn't cause the Andorian the alarm she was trying to avoid?

Then there was the matter of Ives and others getting involved.  Once the assailant had been identified, there was no unringing that particular bell.  What if Maya refused to come forward even then?  The command and security staff couldn't ignore Hayden's report of a credible threat, and a large part of her didn't want them to, but what would that do to the therapeutic relationship she had with Maya and potentially anyone else?  The crew desperately needed someone they could talk to while letting down their guard.  If the crew stopped trusting her to provide a safe place to keep their confidences?

All of that didn't even take into consideration what would happen if there wasn't enough evidence to prove Maya's claims.  Hayden believed she had more than enough evidence to show the sexual contact was violent, but could that prove to enough people it was also not consensual?  Rape myths still abounded in the Federation, particularly given the diverse cultures that comprised it. Would anyone be inclined to punish her assailant, and if so, how would that work given their present circumstances?  How would Maya be perceived?  It wasn't like she could be transferred elsewhere.

It was a lot to consider even if she knew safety had to be the priority, and it flashed through Hayden's mind in what felt like an eternity, but what was probably only a few seconds.  O'Connor took a breath and slowly exhaled before answering, "I'm concerned what will happen if I'm not able to convince the woman in question to come forward.  Even assuming I can convince Deputy zh'Wann to run the comparison without knowing all the details, there's still the possibility you all will know the results and feel compelled to act on them before I convince her to come forward.  If that happens, I'm afraid she will feel betrayed for a second time, and the damage to my therapeutic relationship with her, and everyone else who hears I cannot be trusted, will be irreparable.  I believe her, Captain, and I believe the evidence supports her assertions, but I'm not so naïve as to believe everyone will agree with me.  I also can't help but put myself in the Deputy's place.  If I raise enough concern to convince her to identify the DNA, how can I then withhold information and demand she ignore her own professional obligations out of respect for my own?  Given what we know of her social challenges, that may be too much to bank on."

O'Connor paused, then added, not heartlessly, but sincerely, "Would you ever trust me again if I forced you to report your rape to security, knowing there was a chance at least some of your own crew and those aboard Harbinger believed you were weak as a result or simply asking for it?"

Re: CHAPTER 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #46
As much as she didn't like it, the counsellor was right. Jien made the mission and the safety of the crew her priority, as much as her former Deputy would, and that had compelled her to suggest a quiet investigation. Jien sat back while O'Connor spoke, convinced that the counsellor had the right of the matter even before she was finished.

For her arguments were sound. Hayden was correct about the awkward position that the victim of the atrocity would be placed in as soon as Jien and Wenn Cinn acted on the DNA-results. If the victim wasn't prepared to step forth, then the lack of further evidence might create a scenario when the word of the victim stood against the accused. Also, if the perpetrator was indeed one of the ranking officers originally from the Harbinger, his word as a ranking Starfleet Officer still carried some weight. If it was a member of the Senior Staff, the officers reporting to him might even provide an alibi out of misguided loyalty. Then, there would be no hope for the victim to get justice, so the evidence had to be strong enough to justify the verdict in the eyes of both the crews as a whole.

That was, unless Jien took justice into her own hands, and passed sentence without proper evidence, ordering Wenn Cinn to lock away the accused in accordance with non-judicial punishment. NPJ was the regulation that allowed her to administratively discipline the crew without a court-martial. Such disciplinary actions ranged from reprimand to reduction in rank and correctional custody to confinement on diminished rations. It would not constitute a criminal conviction, but it would serve.

Then again, it would not serve the victim, since she could be targeted by those loyal to the perpetrator.

"..would you ever trust me again if I forced you to report your rape to security, knowing there was a chance at least some of your own crew and those aboard Harbinger believed you were weak as a result or simply asking for it?"

Blinking once, Jien raised her eyes to look into the counsellor's, and she could not help how her brow furrowed for a moment. She was quiet at first, considering whether or not she ought to be angry with O'Connor for making her point in such a untoward manner. In the end, she decided not to, taking a deep breath and leaning forward. She set her forearms upon the desk and folded her calloused hands. "You are right," she said quietly, looking down upon her hands in thought. "Unless the victim agrees to it, we can't do anything. Not without endangering her and undermining your integrity as a counsellor aboard this ship."

Looking up, Jien's mien was bitter, not liking how her hands were tied in the matter. "Unless there was anything else, you are dismissed, counsellor. The victim is your priority, and I hope you can convince her to step forth. Tell her that she can be protected, regardless who the assailant was. I will personally make sure she has nothing to fear if so required. Furthermore, the matter will be handled with the outmost discretion, and her identity kept as secret as possible aboard this ship. When she is ready, come to me first, and we'll take it from there."

Standing up, Jien walked away from the desk - looking out upon the orange nebula. Before O'Connor left through the sliding doors, she added, "Since we left Earth, I have had to make decisions no Commanding Officers should have to make. Rationalised the destruction of entire starships that almost brought this voyage to an end, just for the sake of preserving our lives and the truth we bear." She said this without looking at the counsellor, leaning with one forearm against the bulkhead next to the panoramic view of the transparent alluminium. "When I look through the crew manifests of the ships we have destroyed, I can put a face to a couple of those names... yet I imagine you knew those five people from the Harbinger better than that."

Jien pinched the bridge of her nose. "So if you want to talk about the decision you had to make on that mountainside, my door is open. And... if I come to remember anything new from the Niga Incident, then I suppose we could have a mutual exchange."

After she had said this, Jien turned her head towards Hayden, and a faint smile touched her face. Bleak as it might be, it was still there - the first time seen by the counsellor. Perhaps even the first sign of a truce between them.

Re: CHAPTER 03: The Captain of My Soul [04: Anger & Bargaining]

Reply #47

So focused on making her point was Hayden that it took her a moment to absorb the last thing she said. It was safe to say, however, that even before the words were completely out of her mouth, O'Connor regretted them instantly. Fighting back a wave of nausea and self-hatred, Hayden felt powerless to say or do anything else in what felt like an eternity between O'Connor's words and Ives' response. Even so, words couldn't possibly convey the way the healer felt as she realized she'd done the equivalent of pouring salt in a barely healed wound, except to Hayden, it felt like the equivalent of firing a disruptor on its highest setting at point blank range. She was not a woman who deliberately caused another person pain. In fact, there was still a small part of her that wrestled with the idea of causing anyone pain, physical or emotional, even when she knew it was necessary to help them heal medically or psychologically. It was completely abhorrent her that she would do so simply to make a point, and it was terrifying to her to think this was going to be the consequence of her killing five of her former crewmates.

Hayden understood that people could often say things they didn't mean, especially under stress, and she even acknowledged in her personal life, she had done so many times. But professionally was another matter entirely. Was she losing it, after all? O'Connor knew something inside her would break if she saw even a hint of pain in Ives' eyes. The counselor trusted herself to keep it together long enough to be alone if that happened, but she also knew full well that hint of pain would join the images that she saw of her former crewmates as she sent them to their deaths.

O'Connor held her breath and waited for the flash of pain in the Captain's eyes followed by the explosion of anger that she knew was coming. In Hayden's mind, anger was the only way she would be able to save face if O'Connor was in Ives' shoes. Even though the Counselor had tried to make clear that she did not believe the captain had been weak or that she had asked for what happened to her, just hearing those hypothetical accusations would be enough to make anyone react, even if there was only a sliver of self-blame left.

So it was more than a bit surprising and confusing when the signs of hurt and anger didn't come. For a breath, Hayden wondered if the Captain was just that good at hiding emotions, and then she saw it, that hint of confusion that let O'Connor know Ives didn't know how to take what she'd said and was trying to decide how to feel. Inwardly, Hayden breathed a small sigh of relief. Ives was just as confused by Hayden's words as she was. They'd only interacted one other time together, but perhaps it was enough for the Captain to know Hayden wasn't herself. Please forgive me Captain, I know not what I do.

Still, the softness of Ives' tone wasn't lost on her, and despite hearing agreement, when she was dismissed, it was all she could do not sprint for the door like a woman desperately ill. It was only the fact that protocol had been drummed into her that her body knew to turn and listen because the Captain was still speaking. As she listened, she realized she hadn't caused hurt, only revealed her own. Whether it was because Hayden had hit a nerve or because Ives recognized pain in another, O'Connor wasn't sure, but the counselor thought she understood she was being given an opportunity to save face, and even hope for the future of their relationship. She'd take it.

Not trusting herself to say anything more, all Hayden could do before she left was nod and offered, "I'd like that."

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