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Re: EPILOGUE: Precepts By Which We Survive

Reply #50
[Ensign Chris "Husker" Slayton| USS Theurgy| Deck 15| Fighter Assault Bay] Attention: CanadianVet, RosariaRosette, IronFerrox

Chris' eyes widened at the voice of the Harbinger's tech before he turned to regard the woman. "Wow..please forgive me Miss Ji. When I heard it was a Petty Officer Ji, I failed to put two and two together, it's been a hectic time. So please forgive my lack of memory." he said with a respectable bowing of his head towards the junior officer.

While he was embarrassed that his mind had been on so many other things that he didn't put two and two together on Eun's presence on the Theurgy but he was glad to see the young tech still helping to keep the fighter's flying and during their mutal time on the Harbinger, he tried to treat her with the respect due to her talents with a wrench, he would occasionally make the request that she'd be the one to work on his late Valkyrie.

During the chaos aboard the Harbinger, he hoped that she was one of the lucky ones to make it off of that cursed ship alive. "How are you?" he asked respectfully to the young woman.

Re: EPILOGUE: Precepts By Which We Survive

Reply #51
[ Zaraq | Junior Officer's Quarters | Deck 07 ] Attn: Hayden O'Connor

When the female spoke, Zaraq curled his upper lip at her for defying his wishes. She tried to speak like a Klingon, disrespecting his people by turning his reasons into her own. But Zaraq knew humans, and it was not dishonour to walk away for them. No, they would blame themselves for not being able to prevent death, even death chosen.

"You are no warrior," he snarled at her, his gaze defying the sharp light and his thick neck thrumming with the sound of his voice, "you are a counsellor. You talk. You are not walking away because you care for those you treat, but because of your own self-perseverance. For you humans cannot stomach loss, even the loss of a stranger, and especially not when you think you can prevent it. You owe nothing to me, so leave me be."

Images flashed before his eyes, where Cale Winterbourne dropped dead to the deck of the bridge, and he felt nothing. He had been made to feel nothing. He barely knew the human, but the order to shoot him was flawed. It had no anchor in reason beyond the whims of his old leaders on the Harbinger. The young human had been intimate with him, and he did not even blink before firing his phaser. Madness... All of it...

"I will not listen to orders again..." He remember T'Rena standing over his bunk, the human woman named Slaverton beside him. The Vulcan was playing tricks on his mind. When she was finished, he did as she had told him in her thoughts. He struck Hannah and mated with her, holding her down. Just so that the Winter Queen might place her filthy hand on Hannah as well. She turned compliant immediately.

"I was undone," he growled, denying the wetness in his eyes - face still twisted in rage. "Not myself, but I was weak, and I deserve nothing more than the barge and to suffer for that weakness."

Why was his hand shaking? The muzzle was still pressed to his temple, so he shifted it so that he had it underneath his jaw. "They betrayed us, you and I. The Captain and the Queen... I was blind, and I failed to defy them. People died for it, people of the Ives' crew. I will never be forgiven, and I cannot leave this ship. I have nowhere to go but beyond the veil of this damned life in exile. We might die on the morrow anyway, and all this suffering would have been for naught."

Re: EPILOGUE: Precepts By Which We Survive

Reply #52
[ Maya | Main Sickbay | Counselor's Office | Deck 07 ]  Attention: Cir'Cie .

"If you would cleanse m-me, I can do the same for you... after you have taken care of the rest." 

This was the reason Maya had left surgery as soon as she heard that Doctor Nicander had returned.  Asking someone who had been compromised to deprogram the others was a tall order.  For Cir'Cie to be mentally contacting others was medically unadvisable to say the least, for both the greenblooded scientist and her patients.

Cir'Cie's offer to cleanse Maya's thoughts was unexpected, but understandable.  After purging multiple minds of T'Rena's influence, it was prudent to have one's psyche cleansed of accumulated contamination in order to prevent any long term influences.  After the final patient was deprogrammed, Maya was planning to sequester herself for at least eighteen hours so she could meditate and purge her thoughts of both T'Rena's contamination and what Kilinvoss had done to her.  She had purified her mind multiple times as a surrogate back on Vulcan, the discipline of self-purification was essential for being a surrogate.  The thought of Cir'Cie, who Maya perceived as a patient herself, to offer to assist Maya in purging T'Rena's contamination from her mind was disconcerting. 

"That shouldn't be necessary, Cir'Cie," Maya replied in what she thought was a comforting maternal tone.  It would have sounded a bit cool to a human's ears but Cir'Cie would no doubt sense the feeling behind it.  "One doesn't serve as a surrogate on Vulcan without learning how to purge oneself of unwanted influences."

It was quite a confession.  No one on Vulcan drew attention to being a surrogate back in Maya's day.  It was something one never talked about.  In the modern era medication and training had almost rendered the ponn farr surrogate obsolete.  But after all Cir'Cie had been through Maya wasn't concerned about being judged by her sister Vulcan.  After Cir'Cie had made contact with so many troubled minds, Maya had no doubt the younger woman would understand perfectly.

First things first.  It was essential to administer to the patient.  "Clear your thoughts," Maya murmured as her fingertips touched the left side of Cir'Cie's face.  "Let down your barriers.  My mind to your mind.  My thoughts, to your thoughts," she whispered as she isolated T'Rena's message and the anguish it caused.  "Forget."

[ Tessa May Lance | Locker Room | Fighter Assault Bay | Deck 15 ] Attention:  Evelyn, Fasha, & Isley

When Isley broke the bad news to Rawley Tessa fought back a gagging reflex.  Tessa had completely forgotten that Winterbourne was Rawley's brother!  That made that particular casualty so personal that Tessa couldn't process it.  It brought the whole thing back with a vengenance.  Tessa hoped that T'Rena's death had been painful.  This was a lot to process after everything that happened. 

Tessa's towel dropped out of her hands as she put a hand out to keep herself from falling to the deck.  She leaned against the wall and blinked back the tears as she summoned her training to get her breathing under control.  Tears?  Why were there tears?  Winterbourne wasn't her brother!  That was a lie.  He was the brother to every pilot and every officer serving aboard the Theurgy, and he was gone.  So much for putting on a brave face.

Re: EPILOGUE: Precepts By Which We Survive

Reply #53
[Doctor Hayden O'Connor | Zaraq's Junior Officer's Quarters | USS Theurgy]

O'Connor was pleased her challenge to the Klingon Master-at-Arms had the desired effect. At least if Zaraq was angry with her, he was focused on something other than ending his life. Although she was entirely focused on keeping him alive at that moment, she was vaguely aware of the stinging impact of his words against her psychological skin like so many arrows. Hayden might not have contributed to Starfleet by engaging in hand-to-hand combat or firing a phaser, but anyone who had a remote understanding of what she did every day would certainly say she battled just as fiercely as if she had. No doubt people like Zaraq were in the battle to protect people's lives, but she was in the battle to protect their sanity, some might even say their souls. Hayden was in no way thinking of this as a competition, and in fact, she accepted hers would be a thankless job, but she would be damned if he would imply her contributions were less important.

Whether it was merely the strain of the moment or some brilliant clinical strategy, Hayden was prepared to fire back a retort, not caring if it sounded defensive or even fatigued as long as it bought her some time, but then Zaraq's demeanor shifted and she knew he was in the midst of flashbacks only he could possibly understand. She watched as he fought his emotions, his hand literally shaking with the effort, and a single tear the only evidence that he was physically feeling anything at all. Her heart sunk as he realized what was happening and gained better control of the phaser. Hayden felt her breath quicken. She had to do something, and fast. "They betrayed us," O'Connor echoed. "You don't have to. If you leave us now, we have one less person to help us in this fight and you will have allowed their betrayal to stand as the last word. They will have won. A warrior isn't someone who leaves the battlefield at the first sign of trouble. A warrior is a warrior because he withstands true adversity and fights his way back."

Re: EPILOGUE: Precepts By Which We Survive

Reply #54
[ Zaraq | Junior Officer's Quarters | Deck 07 ] Attn: Hayden O'Connor

The counsellor's words stilled Zaraq's fingertip on the button of the phaser.

It was not because he searched for an excuse to not commit to his chosen fate, and that her words might be a ledge to hold on to before the fall. No, what she said about victory stilled his finger; that his act might grant merit to the Vulcan harlot that had twisted and warped his mind. That his former Captain would have defeated him even from beyond the veil of death. He had considered himself defeated and dishonoured, yet if his adversity still lasted, did that mean he was still in battle with them?

"This is not a battlefield I know," he growled, eyes lined by the conflict he fought inside, "I know neither how to make a tactical retreat nor how to prevail if I can't see the ground or the enemies I fight. All I know is that my help is not wanted any more. I have raped, murdered and humiliated the very people I swore to protect, and they will remember keenly what I have done - almost as clearly as I will."

He understood, then, that he spoke as if he would still be alive to suffer their blame; that he had already made the decision. By a small margin, he had decided to not surrender his fight against the two people that had reduced him to a monster without honour. The adversity he would know would lie in the eyes of the crew, and to maintain some kind of professional pride despite it all. With the leverage of her words alone, the human in the doorway had subjected him to this fate of shame... and he hated her for it. One day, time might have stopped the bleeding, and he might be grateful, but now... hate bled into his words despite his better knowing.

"You will have me suffer, alive, instead of suffering beyond the barge I am destined upon," he said, curling his upper lip at her. "Fine. I will suffer, and soon, I will serve - even if I am to be shunned by everyone aboard. Just grant me a day or two off duty, and I might see some way to fight for them all." The lack of hope and conviction he felt about it permeated his burly tone, but he powered down his phaser and lowered it...

...and slid it across the deck towards O'Connor. It ended up at her feet.

"If you can, would you please leave me be?" he asked her quietly after he surrendered the weapon. "So that I might think..."

Re: EPILOGUE: Precepts By Which We Survive

Reply #55
[Doctor Hayden O'Connor | Zaraq's Junior Officer's Quarters | USS Theurgy] Attn: Zaraq

It took what felt like sheer eternity for Zaraq to respond to her words whatsoever. In fact, for the longest time, Hayden wasn't sure if she'd said anything after all, as the two of them seemed forever suspended in this most horrific of moments. When Zaraq finally spoke, there was no time for O'Connor to celebrate, or for a moment, even process his specific words beyond the realization she had managed to keep him alive.

When she steadied herself enough to think through what the Klingon Master-at-Arms was actually saying, it only drove home neither of them were out of the woods. Although the counselor understood on an intellectual level what she was hearing was the depression and trauma underlying his words, on an emotional level, she also understood a frustrated warrior facing a battle he didn't believe he could win might still perceive suicide as the more honorable option. Despite the diversity within the universe, research had upheld the idea depressed people from all species and walks of life tended to see their universe in black-and-white terms. Consequently, treating a depressed person meant helping them identify their faulty thinking and learning how to challenge such thoughts before they could burrow themselves into the being's heart as absolute truth.

How could she convince him his help was wanted? How could she convince him he was not at fault for the mind control he suffered and that he could be forgiven, that there was joy to be experienced? Could she convince him there was more to his life left in sheer exile? If she tried, which she ultimately lose even the smidgen of credibility and ground she had gained?

Once more, she found herself speaking, not entirely sure where the words were coming from, only that they came. "The battlefield you speak of is one I know well. It's not one that is conquered by physical strength, but psychological resolve.  With respect to all of your physical feats, I submit the battlefield of the mind is one of the most challenging any warrior will ever face, and if you let me help you, I believe we can conquer it together. You've spoken as if all you face is misery, whether you live or die, but I would respectfully encourage you to remember that nothing is certain in battle, and good fortune is often just a breath away."

O'Connor fought every instinct she had not to exhale visibly as Zaraq slowly slid the phaser in her direction. To express that kind of vulnerability at a time when she wanted to exhibit strength could only increase his misery and indecision. She didn't want to present herself as the blind leading the blind any more than she wanted to give him reason to hate her and turn away from her at the same time. Instead, she casually picked up the phaser as nonchalantly as she dared and put it in her pocket.

When Zaraq asked if he could be left alone, her gut and her response was clear. "Leaving you alone with your thoughts at such a critical time would seem to be the equivalent of leaving a warrior on the battlefield of the mind without armor," Hayden answered honestly. "Might we talk a little longer and come up with a joint battle plan?" She asked with a wry smile. Hayden knew it was important to convey her respect for him as an individual and a warrior. He'd taken a leap of faith by turning the phaser over to her, and she wasn't about to undermine that by implying or stating out right she couldn't entirely trust him. That aside, she knew they weren't completely out of the woods and to leave him alone with his thoughts without a phaser wouldn't do anything more to secure the safety she was fighting for.

Re: EPILOGUE: Precepts By Which We Survive

Reply #56
[ Zaraq | Junior Officer's Quarters | Deck 07 ] Attn: Hayden O'Connor

It was strangely comforting to hear the Counsellor speak of his situation in terms he knew, so Zaraq did not offer counter-argument when Lieutenant O'Connor asked to stay with him and help him form his battle plan. Correction, she had called it a joint battle plan, because she would fight it too - meaning to be by his side.

He had surrendered his weapon to her, for he did not need it. He needed to reinforce his battlements, and strap on thick ceramic plating, for he knew he would be besieged by not only his memories, but the blame placed upon him, and the shame that he would have to live with for the rest of his life. He was already a Klingon without a House, exiled to Starfleet and with no other recourse. He had nowhere to go. There was, however, still an illusive enemy out there to fight, so he would not just fight his personal battle. He would wage war upon the rot that had corrupted the fleet he served. If he didn't, Hayden O'Connor had shown him that it was equivalent to dishonourable defeat.

"I reckon that the first battle ahead of me... is to step out that door, and face my comrades in Security. I think that the only way to... show them that I acknowledge their blame, is to tender my resignation as Master-at-Arms. I would serve as an officer alongside the rest of them, and let someone else - someone that they can trust readily - take my place. I would not do it for myself either, not primarily, but for Wenn, for Ives, and the mission. I will not undermine the good conduct of my fellow officers by sowing spite and distrust in their sense of duty and their performance as a team."

Short as his tenure aboard the Theurgy had been, but still having learned to his department, Zaraq had a fairly good idea who would be the ideal choice as his successor. As long as she and Wenn did not let their differing Bajoran beliefs get in the way.

- Fin

OOC: Sorry for the wait! I am ending this scene here. One more post to come with Ives and Nicander.

Re: EPILOGUE: Precepts By Which We Survive

Reply #57
[ Captain Ives | Corridor > Cargo Bay 02 | Deck 02 ] Attn: All

Later - the same day as the battle had been fought - Jien had one last thing of import to do, and she - being in her female form - would not be doing it alone. As she walked down the corridor, she had Lieutenant Commander Wenn Cinn with her, along with a number of security guards trailing in their wake.

In retrospect, the fact that T'Rena had been the cause for her crew to turn against her had become an odd kind of relief. Having been mentally programmed to do the Vulcan's and Vasser's bidding, it removed the guilt upon the affected crew. It was still a difficult matter, since a lot of them remembered what they had done, and the blame would be hard to wash away, but the understanding that they were not themselves when they turned against their own would - in the end - prevail. It would not be easy, nor pretty, but the truth of the matter would win out against the hurt and heartache. In that, Jien had faith. She had to.

Yet at the onset of the mutiny, Vasser had made an announcement on the intercom. She had heard it in the turbolift on the way down from Deck 01 to the Brig.

[This is Captain Declan Vasser.  I am assuming command of this ship and the mission to liberate Starfleet from it's incursion.  Captain Jien Ives is ill equipped to accomplish this task, too willing to play by rules that our enemies, with superior numbers ships, will be willing to ignore in pursuit of us.  Our first mission is going to be the...

Jien remembered standing there in the turbolift next to Edena, thinking that Sjaandin Fedd had willingly sided with Vasser, along with how many else? The lasting announcement had put insult to injury.

[...Those who are willing to join this mission, and with it, become the last hope that our galaxy has, should disarm and assemble in cargo bay two.  Those who insist upon resisting will be detained until they can be made to see reason.  Vasser out.]

Volunteers. People who hadn't yet been compromised by T'Rena. People who saw folly in going to Starbase 84, and who rather wanted to retreat and mobilise outside the far rim of the Galaxy. To forsake protocol and the regulations of Starfleet in order to do what had to be done. They had gathered behind the door that Jien stopped in front of. It had been sealed by an Ovri nurse, with Nicander, Tovarek and a... Radiant by the name Heather McMillan sedating the defectors that had amassed inside the cargo bay. This, by lugging canisters of xenon from Waste Management and dispersing it inside the bay. It had been the Ovri's idea, and only now, internal sensors showed that the people inside had come awake.

"Open it," she said quietly, and it took two security officers and their phasers to cut the door apart. While they worked, Jien considered that the people behind that door represented something she had always known to be brewing aboard. The sum of her mistakes as a Commanding Officer leading this impossible mission they were on. The threat of mutiny, and the lack of will to fight - the weary ones who had not been able to handle the loss of lives on the Starfleet ships they had been forced to destroy in order to preserve the truth. It was something that haunted Jien every day, every night, and the people behind that door validated all the guilt she felt.

With a loud noise, the door fell apart, and it was time.

Before Wenn stopped her, Jien entered first, chin raised as she stepped over the smoking debris. Her eyes fell upon the dishevelled people inside, twelve individuals of different departments and species, and she regarded them all... one at the time. She memorised their faces and how they faced her, equivalent to how they faced up to their decision to defect to Vasser. Many did not want to hold her eye, looking away in shame. Others began to cry, perhaps in fear for their own lives. A few refused to show any emotions at all, merely standing there. One or two were angry, finally able to vent their feelings - wanting to lash out verbally with all their hurt and their blame. Yet they were silent, and the quietude in the cargo bay after all of the security team had entered was thick enough to cut with a blade - emphasised by sobbing noises.

"You may report to your superior officers now, and help out with the repairs."

As she said this, two of the silent ones crumpled to their knees, others were trembling in relief, and she realised that they must have thought she would vent them out the nearest air-lock, or that they were facing a firing squad. Such was their faith in her. Such was how they saw her. It almost made her falter. Almost."Your presence here, and your objection towards my command has been duly noted. I will make sure to speak with all of you personally, and let you have your say. However, I will make you this promise. If you cause dissent, undermine the senior staff's authority, or attempt to rally this crew, you will return to this cargo bay... and remain here for the rest of our mission."

There was a long pause, before one of them - a shuttle pilot - spoke up. "You better tell that to the others... Captain."

Jien turned her oaken eyes towards the crewman. "Who?"

"There were more of us here, at first. Many more," said the blonde human, looking stoic and angry at the same time, "but I won't cast blame on them when they are not present. They left when Lieutenant Commander Carrigan Trent announced that Vasser and T'Rena had killed people, claiming that they had enforced command through telepathic powers. Personally, I have a hard time believing that they would need to do that. We need no Vulcan to tell us where we are heading... and that is straight to hell."

Jien did not so much as clench her jaw - eyes unblinking. "So you would rather retreat than continue fighting?"

"We would rather live!" The vitriol in the pilot's tone hissed in the air. "This is a futile war, and we all know it. All those crews dead because of us, and you throw our lives away in vain? You do not have the right! We are all prisoners on this ship, and we have no claim to our own fate. It's instead decided for us, and we have no choice but to suffer the whims of your folly, and the guilt you feed our souls. Personally, I've had enough." Having said this, the man removed the rank insignia in his collar and threw it at Ives' feet. Only he did it, though, sacrificing himself so that their collective minds could be given voice.

Raising her eyes from the rank insignia, Jien faced the man squarely before she bit off her command.

"Get out," she said, and she included the rest of them by raising her voice.

She remained standing there as they filed out into the corridor, and all of them had to walk past her in order to leave the cargo bay. She was not so much angry as she was disappointed in herself. Twelve people passed her shoulder, and she was left thinking the obvious.

How many more were there?


Re: EPILOGUE: Precepts By Which We Survive

Reply #58
[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Sickbay | Deck 07 ] Attn: All

In the end, the decision had been inevitable.

Her condition had become worse by the hour, and by 1800 hrs, Eve Jenkins had become too much of a threat to the crew. Having been on her rare medication for so long, Eve had no natural resistance towards her Deltan powers once they resurfaced. Powers that had grown out of control, and swept her sanity with it. She had become unable to retain her empathy towards the fate of her potential victims, and what she had first used to subdue mutineers during the hostile takeover had become her only priority. Six mutineers had been declared brain dead before Lucan had ordered Eve to be put into quarantine in an isolation ward. There was no way to save them. T'Rena might have warped their minds, but the touch of Eve had essentially killed them.

The deciding factor had been when Eve stopped showing remorse for her actions, and when knowing what had happened to them, she had still tried to break out of isolation and find new victims. It was only through luck that she hadn't succeeded. There had been phasers on hand in Sickbay after the mutiny, and a security guard had stunned her before she managed to seduce him. After explaining the situation to Captain Ives, and how there was no way of safely treating her with some new medication, the decision had, indeed, been inevitable.

Standing over the stasis unit, Lucan could not put words to what he felt.

They had shared years on the Academy together, and he had found her - of all people - on Nimbus III during that away-mission. She had agreed to join the Theurgy's mission, thinking that her father had been replaced by one of the enemies, and she had served diligently through all that the crew had been through since then. But aside from her duties, Eve had been Lucan's anchor - his light house in the dark storm inside him. A reference to the past, before he was joined with the parasite. In her presence, things had become clearer - his own self reasserting itself though her affection towards the man he had been.

Now, he had no way of knowing what was him, and what was the dark surge that he could not fight. Were his thoughts begotten by the taint to his new self, or the man she had known? For what would he have done, if he lost her the way he had now? As he stood there, over her silent face, he could not tell if the grief he felt was made lesser by her closed eyes, or if it had already been diminished - a mere shadow of the man she had said she loved. He felt more numb than he had thought, and he did not know the reason.

Why had he not said he loved her as well? Was it because he still loved Kisane... or had the thing inside made him reject Eve's feelings? All he knew for certain, was that he had needed her for him to remain sane, and now she was gone...

Again, he was going to seal away a monster. The first time, he had sealed away Amikris' child, hidden it from the eyes of the crew while it grew, and it still did. It was a creature born from Ash'reem and Niga DNA, and the intention for it was certain. His kin needed it, else none of what had come to pass would have happened. This time, however, he was sealing away a monster of an altogether different kind.

A monster that had he needed, as opposed to the atrocity the thing inside had wanted him to keep.

"I..." he said, not knowing what he had wanted to say to begin with. He rephrased. "All... I have done."

All I have done.

"I have done for love."

I have done for Kisane.

Standing there, he did not know what was true. He did not even know who he was. Not any more.


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