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CHAPTER 02: What Goes Around... [Second Day]

CHAPTER 02: What Goes Around...
Joint-Post by Searcher & Auctor Lucan

[ Security "Office" | Theurgy Camp | 0947 hrs. | 2 Days Post Mortem Arcorn Neotin ]

Throughout the reading of past reports, ThanIda zh'Wann sat silent - only eyes moving.

At first, the idea of the potential threat had been an eventuality, and more importantly, a way through which she could extend herself beyond the festering shame inside her head. There were little facts to put down in a PADD, and she had understood perfectly what she was had to do. She did not look at anyone after she finished reading. She merely rose to her feet and walked away, walking towards the Transport Centre that would take her aboard the Theurgy. She had sworn to do her duties to the last dot, so with methodical care, ingrained by a life-time of training, she aimed to put aside the stigma that tainted her in the eyes of the crew she meant to protect... and do what was right. There was nothing more she meant to do than to perform exemplary.

After she got aboard, she set a straight pace towards the stairs that would take her to Deck 15 and the Fighter Assault Bay, not looking around. Eventually, she passed two Engineers as she descended one of the many unlit corridors, and one of them looked up to see her, and there it was... that glimmer to his eye. The recollection manifest. In fact, Ida remembered him too. A Petty Officer she'd had sexual intercourse back during the Niga Incident. The Pinkskin man towards her, stood in her way. She stopped impassively.

"Ah, Deputy," said the bearded human, the small bold smile remaining on his comely features, "Do you want to help us out for a minute?" he said before dropping his voice a little, "and we would be most appreciative."

Ida did not say anything. She had heard the man, but she did not answer before she had quelled the ire that boiled inside. She pinned him with those emotionless eyes, with a face so lost of soul that the lad might just have stared into a cliff-face in the apex of deepest winter. Her antennae were stiff curves - aimed like vipers about to bite out his eyes at any given moment.

"Why are you smiling, Petty Officer?" she asked - perfectly void of emotion.

"I... I was thinking that I would ask you if...."

"That is your intention." Ida's hands were perfectly still by her sides - eyes nailed into the back of the technician's skull. It was as if she was the only unmoving object in the darkness of the corridor. The very eye of the storm. "Answer my question."

"Why I smile?" The Pinkskin glanced around briefly, perplexed and feeling that things were not developing as he had thought.

"Yes." Still, no movements to accompany her single word.

He cleared his throat again - now more awkwardly. "Because..."

"Because it would be easier to ram your teeth down your throat with my fist?"

She did not even raise her voice; didn't bat an eye. The man was too shocked to say anything.

"Why try to spare just your lips, when you might keep your life?"

Throwing his hands up, the Petty Officer stood aside, joining his equally startled companion. "I'm s-sorry. I thought that you were lo-"

"Why spare your life," Ida pressed, remaining exactly where she were, "when it has no meaning to me?"

The young man was now pale, backing away further. "Forgive me, please, I will b-be quiet now. Do not file a complaint, I will continue now, Lieutenant."

Ida continued to stare at the man, but said nothing further. Not until the crewman had turned around to his open control panel did she release him with her flat stare. As if nothing had happened, she continued down the corridor, for she was both blessed and fettered by duty. There little else remaining. She would restore the honour she had lost, and the interrogation of two particular people might just be such an opportunity.

Skye was still feeling a bit restless and as usual her feet took her to Kestrel though there wouldn't be any flying for now.  Instead she grabbed a tray of tools and pulled off a panel, thinking now was as good a time as any to check some of the relays.  "Gotta keep you fit, Girl," she said softly and gave the Valk a little pat on the side.  It was the one constant in her life and keeping it running smoothly was important to the pilot.

 "Tcha ... no wonder ..." she muttered and picked up a coil spanner to begin a few light repairs.  The engineers working on the Valks had been focused on the big problems and while she knew they would get to these smaller things eventually, it felt good to be doing a little something for Kestrel herself.  She was aware that someone had entered the bay a few moments before but ignored it thinking it was likely another of the Wolves.

The footfalls were precise and coming straight for her so when they stopped nearby, she turned her head to see Than'Ida standing there.  The grip on the spanner tightened as she took a deep breath and returned her focus to her ship rather than Smurfette.  The security officer hadn't said anything to her yet so she chose to ignore her in the hopes she'd take her blue ass somewhere else and not tear that wound open a little further.

"Ensign Carver," said Ida and set her hands on her hips, looking at the Federation Attack Fighter for a second.  "I have a couple of questions for you. Since repairs on the Valkyrie fighters are important I can ask them here." She didn't feel the need to further imply that she would rather have had the Ensign brought in for a hearing. If her story checked out, then her interrogation would not have to become more formal.

Skye knew this wasn't a social visit, mainly because she'd given up trying to be social with the cyanotic woman soon after she'd boarded and her 'pinkskin' condition was immediately dismissed.  The implications of the security officer's words were not lost and she spared a quick glance toward her.  "It's your nickel so shoot," she replied and went back to work.

Frowning, Ida remained where she stood. "You were listed as MIA during a patrol in the fifth week after we fled the Sol System, and your wingmate - Lt. Josh Reynolds - vanished as well. In your report, you write that the two of you were spotted by four Valkyrie Mk IIs that were escorting an Antares-class freighter. You were hailed, yet it stated that your wingmate did not 'mince words' and immediately fired upon the four Valkyries." Ida paused there, if not only to make it clear what she thought about the alleged actions of her lost wingmate. "After this, the both of you worked together and destroyed three of the enemy Valkyries, yet after disabling the fourth, the report stated that you were in it's pursuit when it exploded in an untimely and unpredictable fashion. Yet while you were in pursuit, the explosion destroyed your wingmate's Valkyrie, yet apparently - since it is standing here - the explosion must have only damaged yours. The detonation did render you unconscious, though, and you were left drifting. Is this an accurate account of what happened, Ensign?"

The words weren't exactly what she expected and she paused in the scanning, looking at Ida with a bit of confusion.  Why was this being brought up again?  Though she'd disagreed with Josh's actions at the time, it galled her that this blue bitch was looking so condescending, giving one of those supposedly dramatic pauses before going on with what she thought she knew.

"Is this an accurate account of what happened, Ensign?"  Skye's jaw muscles worked and she pursed her lips as she considered the security officer, her eyes sharp as a hawk's.  "You got a few details wrong there," she stated as she set the coil spanner back down on the table and crossed her arms over her chest.  She had an idea where this was going and didn't like it one little bit.

"Yes, he fired on one of the Valks and forced us into a fight.  Two were destroyed and one was disabled.  The fourth was making a run for it and I informed Josh I was going into pursuit, the third exploded right next to him.  His ship was destroyed and my ship took damage as well, sending me off course and unconscious."  That haunted look crept up in her eyes again, hurt from losing Josh and the agonizing loneliness that followed when she desperately tried to get back to the Theurgy.

Hearing this, Ida was silent for a couple of moments, before she stated the obvious question. "So what happened to the fourth one?" This contradiction to the report she read was like getting the scent of blood on the hunting ices of Andoria, and like a hound, her mind pursued the implications just as her words did - leaving no true room for the Ensign to answer her first question. "If your account is accurate, then you were disabled and unconscious with a fourth enemy Valkyrie fully functioning. Your life-signs should have been visible. You should have been transported aboard the freighter. You should not even be here. Yet you are... So, why are you truly here, Ensign?"

As she spoke, Ida's words turned sharper with each syllable, and the second question was far more pointed - like blade drawn and aimed towards the face.

Skye watched Ida as she raised her voice and accused her, both aloud and silently of a great many things and her eyes hardened in response.  "Obviously I don't know what happened to the fourth one since I was unconscious," she replied in a quiet, seething voice.  She hadn't thought much of Ida's intelligence but that question was ridiculous.

Stepping forward, essentially going toe to toe with Ida, Skye glared into Ida's eyes.  "When I woke up, I was on a freighter.  They'd given medical assistance and fixed my ship then offered me the chance to stay.  Believe me it was tempting beyond belief but for you to ask me why I'm here," she said pointing downward to the floor of the ship, "... you don't understand a damn thing about what it means to be a Wolf."

That finger came up and poked Ida in the upper chest.  "Loyalty.  That's what it means.  This is my pack and I went through hell to get back here because even though I am only one, I am a part of this crew and it's my duty and privilege to do everything I can to protect it ... including you, you ungrateful arrogant bitch.  How dare you question my loyalty and motives when you take a raw cadet who'd never even fired a phaser into a situation he should never have been in!"

Skye's eyes blazed with anger and she shook with barely suppressed rage.  "He was one of the few people I know who still believed there was good in the world but Scosche is dead because of you.  It may as well have been you who fired on him because you knew he wasn't ready for any kind of combat but you didn't care.  You showed piss poor leadership and don't deserve those pips or any kind of authority so take your false accusations and haughty blue ass away from me.  I've got real work to do."

During the fighter pilot's tirade, Ida had hissed "Careful Ensign..." yet to no heed or merit since the Pinkskin grated on, throwing back the accusations as if they were photon grenades. Despite the human's ferocious proclamations, Ida did stand her ground - eyes as unwavering as they had been when the guy in the corridor hat tried to chat her up. Her demeanour was as icy as the whiteness of her long hair, and she folded her arms underneath her breasts with an air of command about her... until the blonde woman jabbed her finger at her, at which, Ida took a half step back - mainly out of incredulous shock about the woman being so out of line.

Then came the words about Scosche Bellde'side, and since Ida did not know the story between him and this Pinkskin, she thought the accusations entirely uncalled for. Most likely an attempt to lead the focus away from the hearing. Yet even more, those accusations hurt. They hurt a great deal. They were the antimatter thrown into her reactor core, which was an assembly so frail after what happened her on Niga. What had been cold ice... ignited. So when her honour was questioned and she was told to leave...

...she threw the first punch.

Skye's head whipped to the side and she kept looking that direction as she opened her mouth and worked her jaw open and close a few times.  Slowly she looked back at Ida, her eyes blazing with hatred and contempt.  There was something else though as one corner of her mouth quirked upward, amusement and maybe even a hint of triumph.  Ida had just further proven herself unworthy of her position by striking her.  When she said or did nothing, Ida began her own tirade again.

"We are at war, and Cadet Bellde'side did not follow my orders, Ensign," proclaimed Ida in the wake of her attack with a bestial fervour that was completely opposed to her earlier behaviour, even if she remained where she stood. "I will lock you up in the Brig for insubordination unless I can find more things about your report to pin on you. Bellde'side's mistake is an unrelated matter entirely, and you still have not given me a satisfying account on why you were given assistance, by whom, and how you managed to find your way to the Theurgy. Speak, Pinkskin!"

Skye continued to glare at Ida, defying the security officer for a bit by not speaking.  When the tension was getting too great she shook her head and spoke very slowly and concisely, as if she were talking to a child.  "I can't give you information I don't have.  The person in charge of the freighter was what we would call a Good Samaritan.  He never told me how I got there or what happened to the other Valk and honestly at that point I was just glad to be alive.  As for how I found Theurgy again, it was a bit of blind luck and hitting a trail of Deuterium which I knew She'd been leaking."

There had been no backing down or away as she spoke and even now she remained in that personal space.  "Scosche was a good and kind man, someone I could have loved more deeply than I came to over the short time we were together.  He was a victim you know, locked away and left in humiliating circumstances and then he was thrown in the brig and treated like a criminal, betrayed by the one department that should have done more to help him.  And then you snatch him up, shove a phaser in his hand expecting him to act like a Starfleet graduate."

Realising that Skye Carver had been involved with the Cadet made the words in Ida's mouth turn to ash, yet somehow, she managed to maintain her cold façade.

There was a slight sneer then, Skye's demeanor just as cold as Ida's.  "When I got back and you were infected, when I heard everything that had happened, I actually felt sorry for you because a lot of things weren't your fault.  But just as before, you looked down your nose at me and acted so superior when you've made mistake after mistake so I'm really not in the mood to give you any sort of satisfaction, Smurfette.  If you want to throw me in the brig, fine.  I accept responsibility for my actions but throw yourself in too because you struck me and I am going to file charges."

Whatever regret had managed to set in Ida's heart was seared away, the Cadet disregarded both because of the implausibility in the pilot's report - not to mention what kind of implications that might portend - and also because of what the Pinkskin had the nerve to say just then. "A lot of things? A lot of things?" she challenged, ignoring the strange title she had been given. It was probably an insult anyway. Instead, she proved that even ice could burn.

"I was raped by an... an abomination! Yet that was just the horrific start of it! The shame! The bloody humiliation of not being able to stop myself from endangering the very crew and ship I have sworn to protect! I had no bloody idea what I was doing! I am constantly reminded of my unwholesome actions in the eyes of the people around me, and I do not even know the extent of the evil acts I committed! Ignorance is definitely not bliss for me! All I have is my imagination, and you dare suggest that I am to blame? That I was not altogether a victim at Niga? That I, to any slightest degree, was responsible for my actions?"

Captain Ives' edict had been crystal clear in how no one was to blame or charged for their actions while being infected or attacked by those that were. "Whether or not I have made mistakes is not the question, Pinkskin, and you are clearly holding something back," she said, taking a deep breath and her antennae angling forward, "For who would not inquire about the fate of that fourth Valkyrie, who clearly had no reason to flee anymore? Would that not be the first thing on your mind when waking up? You are a insubordinate liar, Ensign, and because of your attitude, your unjust insults and your conveniently made up feelings for that Cadet, I have little reason to doubt that you are implicated in some way with our enemy. In which case I think striking you even harder would be more justified than the little slap you just got. On Andoria, you would already be dead by now."

Said and true, the next one came for the gut, and she put her whole body and bleeding soul behind it.

The accusation that she'd made up her feelings about Scosche made Skye see red but she reined in her temper, realizing that neither of them were emotionally sound at the moment and one of them had to have some sense ... and it obviously wasn't going to be Ida.  God how I want to rip off those fucking antennae and shove them down her throat! Skye railed in her mind and then she saw the swing coming.  Stomach muscles went taut and the pilot pitched backward so that the blow was only glancing, not even eliciting a grunt or air rushing outward.

"Are you listening to yourself?!" Skye cried out incredulously.  "I said you weren't responsible, that I felt sorry for you because you weren't in control during the Niga mess," she tried to explain as she danced back out of the way but brought her hands up and took on a defensive posture.  "It's all the shit before and after and if you think I'm working for the enemy then you are way more fucked up than anyone knows.  I will piss in a cup, have blood drawn, scans done, or whatever to prove I am of my own mind and that protecting this crew and the ideals of Starfleet before the takeover are my utmost concern."

This time she'd refrained from talking about Scosche, not wanting to tell Ida about some of the best times of her life.  Those were her memories and hers alone now.  She didn't care that they were screaming at each other, that in her maneuver to get out of the way the tray had crashed to the floor and tools clattered as they were strewn about the deck.  Twice now Ida had struck out at her and she'd managed to control herself but if she came at her again, it was obvious that she would protect herself in any manner necessary.

"All the 'shit', as you refer to it," said Ida and stepped after Skye, ignoring the tools on the floor, her antennae angled forward like twin snakes, "has to do with being a superior officer. Something you have yet to learn, Ensign, but will come understand right now. If you are indeed who you claim to be, you might be a good pilot, a great pilot, yet when it comes to the chain-of-command, you are completely out of line. If Grayson was still with us, he would throw you in the Brig just as quickly as I will right now."

The warm memory of David surged when speaking of him, and Ida had to pause and control her emotions before continuing, still following Carver's retreat. "Given our mission, and what we are up against, we cannot tolerate your kind of behaviour, regardless who you might be spreading your legs for, Pinkskin. Now will you be a good little wolf pup and come with me to the Brig, or will I have to beat proper respect into you?"

Skye continued to parry any blows Ida attempted and dance out of the way, gaining more control and clarity while Ida's deteriorated more.  "David was a good man and a true superior officer.  He wouldn't strike another wildly like you have."  Granted, she wouldn't have copped an attitude at Grayson either, definitely wouldn't have poked him in the chest but that was water under the bridge now.  Skye had respected Grayson but had none for Ida.

"As far as my behavior, I've already stated I will take full responsibility."  With that she stood up straight and lowered her fists.  "I will go to the brig but you might as well be ready to be in the one next to me.  You were the one who has lost all control and you will not strike me again because I've more than earned the right to defend myself.  You might outrank me and have more years in service, but you are no superior officer," she spat.

"Because I outrank you, you should have kept your arse in line so that I would not have to show you the error of your ways so forcefully, Ensign." Ida pulled to a stop, relaxing her stance as well, even if her scowl remained. "Like the Andorian Guard, Starfleet is pretty clear on enforcing the chain-of-command. You let your personal feelings about me cloud your better judgement, and hopefully, that is the same reason that your report does not check out. That, however, remains to be seen. zh'Wann to Security, please report to Deck 15 on the Theurgy and arrest Ensign Carver for insubordination and suspicion of treason."

"You're right, I did let my personal feelings cloud my judgement and I will accept what Captain Ives sets down for me," Skye said much more calmly than she felt.

Four security guards appeared through a site-to-site Transport, looked around to spot the two women standing in the shadow of the Valkyrie fighter. Ida turned her head to them, ignoring the Pinkskin. "Throw her in the Brig for questioning and go through her quarters in search for anything out of the oridnary. I have reason to believe that she is just like Ensign Acreth on the Harbinger. Inform Captain Ives of the arrest and alert Dr. Nicander in medical that he might have to perform very thorough examinations."

The security detail complied without hesitation, one of them grabbing Skye's arm to set her in motion. It was almost laughable that they sent four.  "I didn't really need an escort because I was about to march to the Brig myself but the company will be nice," she stated.

Accused of treason ... again ... and this time by her own side.  And both sides were dead wrong but would anyone really believe her?  People were almost hysterical and the merest whisper set off things similar to the Salem Witch Trials.  Would she be subjected to medieval torture?  Thrown in water and if she floated she was guilty so burned at the stake ... or drowned so of course she was guilty?

All her life she had been reaching out and what did she have to show for it all?  "You'll find some clothing that isn't Starfleet regulation, a couple of holonovels, and a few pictures of my mother and father in my room," she informed them all.  She was a pilot so always traveled light and if she did perish then there wouldn't be much to return to her mother.  Again, there wasn't much to Skye's life.

"Ensign!" said Ida as they were headed off, drawing attention once more before they parted ways, "I am sorry about the Cadet, but this is war, and he is just another casualty. He should have listened to me."

When they started to leave and Ida apologized, Skye hesitated a moment and looked back at her and the raw emotion was undeniable.  "He should never have been here in the first place.  He was a victim from beginning to end," she said quietly.  "You keep trying to tell yourself you aren't responsible for his death, that it was war, but you never should have taken him into that kind of situation."  She turned then and basically led the team to the Brig.

Ida remained, lowering her eyes to the deck. I had no choice. We are few enough left already.

The notion felt hollow.

[ To be continued...]

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #1
[ USS Theurgy | Brig | 1700 hrs. | Same Day ]

Utter silence.

The powered down Brig only had dim emergency lightning, and there was no light from the shimmering forcefield of the holding cell. While he read his Deputy's report, his eyes were not visible underneath the cut of his brow ridge - hidden in shadow. He paced the floor while reading, with Skye Carver inside the holding cell and ThanIda zh'Wann standing to the side with a group of security guards. They had evidently taken the same precautions that had been taken with Ensign Sonja Acreth in the Harbinger's Brig, for Skye Carver had been stripped down to her undergarments. A precaution chosen by XO T'Rena on the other ship, yet in the end, it had not mattered. Sonja had managed to get out of her cell anyway, and killed the Harbinger's Chief of Security. That had made the Andorian Deputy the highest ranking Security Officer in the valley.

And she was not Captain Ives' ideal choice for that, for accumulating reasons. This being yet another one.

"You take your duties very seriously, zh'Wann," he said quietly and raised those darkened eye-sockets to the Deputy. He had finished reading the report. He was not in the best of tempers, both because of this incident as well as the fact that he had not slept well - perhaps reliving the events at Niga again in his dreams. Perhaps it had been because of his argument with Counsellor O'Connor. Regardless, he was not in the mood to be forgiving in this matter, regardless whom might be at fault. "Which is good, yet there is a fine line that one might cross and be considered over-zealous. It is my firm opinion that zealotry has no place in a command position. I advocate sound judgement over inciting unrest and encouraging the notion to be over-suspicious against your fellow crew members. This... is clear signal to the rest of the crew, and I do not like how the ripples of this incident might make the crew behave towards one another."

"Of course, Captain," said Ida inclining her head, "yet I think that my suspicions in this matter are merited. If you look at the inconsistenc-"

"I read it, Lieutenant." Jien turned to face the almost naked woman behind the force-field. "Now, I want to hear Ensign Carver's version about this confrontation... as well as an account on what happened on that freighter after she woke up. Wolf, can you start with the latter. What are your experiences from after the battle? Who were on that freighter?"

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #2
Skye had offered no resistance to the guards, had disrobed without hesitation and handed everything over to them.  Frankly she was surprised they didn't ask for her undergarments given they stretched well enough to be able to hang herself if she so wished.  Suicide was not in Skye's book unless she knew her death would gain the crew something worthwhile.  Some say every time a pilot sat in the cockpit that they were about to commit suicide.  Scosche had said as much more than once.  Yet she did it because she was part of the buffer for the crew.  To serve and protect ...  Yet who was going to protect her now?

It didn't matter how long she sat there because what would be would be and there was really nothing she could do but tell the truth.  Whether they saw it as truth or lies would remain to be seen and she tried to clear her mind and recall every detail possible, taking deep breaths and letting them out slowly as she sat cross-legged with the backs of her hands resting on her knees.  I really should do this more often, take time to calm myself she thought to herself.  It would likely help her get in less trouble though there was the nagging worry that this just might be the end for her.  If they decided she was the enemy, she would be executed.

Her heart beat harder and faster at that thought and she saw the irony in her body's reaction.  She'd come close to death several times but she'd pulled through and hadn't thought much about it until now and her body reacted strongly, wanting to stay alive and asserting itself by quickening her pulse and making her feel the need to move.  Thankfully Captain Ives arrived about that time and she stood immediately, hands at her sides and feet together in the appropriate posture of attention.  Whatever he had been dealing with, it was quite obvious that he was in no mood for bullshit and she was not going to be the one to start shoveling.

There was only silence from the cell as Captain Ives and Smurfette began their discussions.  She wasn't going to interrupt or throw fits like a cadet might, not that it probably mattered at this point.  What she wouldn't give for a moment with Lin Kae right now, for the comfort of a true friend.  But what would he think of her now?  And she and Razor had shared a bit, besides the physical.  There was an understanding, similar pain in their lives that gave them a bond besides being Wolves.  Again Skye was faced with the fact that what she craved most was intimacy of a different kind, that of friendship and family.  It's what had driven her to find Theurgy again, seeking those bonds.

Captain Ives looked at her and she held his gaze, wishing she could request Ida not be present but knew that wasn't possible.  "When I woke ... I wasn't in a sickbay or even a medical bed.  It was in a very well-appointed bedroom," she stated.  "I was told my wounds had been treated and some repairs were already underway on my Valk.  During my time there I was treated with courtesy and respect, given help to make the repairs and I searched the ship from top to bottom, end to end, to make sure there was nothing that could potentially bring harm to Thea and the crew."  Skye was one who saw Thea as a person, had helped her gain some semblance of feeling and had slipped calling her by the more human name rather than the ship.

"His name is Andrus Hagan," she said softly.  "Betazoid with a number of crew I never met other than two who worked with me on my ship to get it working again.  One was human, Laraelle Millsap, and the other a Betazoid-Vulcan named T'Kara Ral.  They were middle men from what I could tell.  Someone would contact them, request some type of art and set a price, then he would seek the owner and offer to purchase.  I never witnessed any transactions but I believe they were all legitimate given I sensed no deception when Andrus told me of his business and he mainly spoke mind to mind."

Her gaze never faltered as she spoke to her captain, every word the pure truth.  "I was involved with Andrus, intimately.  It was more than just physical though.  He listened to me, truly listened and I could feel how much he cared as he tried to help me with my feelings.  My father was seldom around in my life and I struggle with my feelings about that, which was even worse after he went missing, but for the first time in a long time I felt some peace there.  He asked me to stay with him and part of me wanted to stay."

She swallowed the lump in her throat and blinked at the tears her emotions were bringing, fighting them to remain calm.  "But my loyalty was and still is the Theurgy and Her crew.  I am only one and far from a perfect officer but I am part of the Pack.  I left there with enough rations to last a month and during that time I was completely alone.  There was no amount of music that could soothe me and I kept telling myself just a little further, that She would be just around that bend," she said, her voice cracking and she cleared her throat.

"I had two days left of rations and I figured it was over.  I was going to die out in space ... alone.  I could have stayed in comfort but I couldn't give up on you and Theurgy and the crew ... the closest thing to a family I've ever had."  Bringing up her hand to wipe an errant tear and then rub under her nose, she took a few deep breaths.  "I don't know what else I can tell you, how I can prove I'm not a traitor, Sir," she said simply.  "Any tests or procedures, I'll do them.  I'm not going to fight or say no ... no matter how much it hurts."

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #3
Listening to Ensign Caver, Captain Ives found himself deeply moved by her assertions. She was like a finely chiselled statue of loyalty, standing up for herself without hesitation. She made for quite a sight. Physically too, for like many of the Wolves, she had a fine permanent bodily form - something that remained one of the Chameloid's fascinations. To be so blessed without freedom to make it so was a marvel to him, yet he did not stare openly, for he was far too old for such adolescent behaviour. Especially during such unfitting circumstances.

Jien had read Skye's report back when she returned, this to ground his decision to award her and Nathaniel Isley with the Star Cross. Now, he merely heard the omitted details. The reason he had awarded Skye with the Star Cross was the firmest reason for Jien to lay great credence in that she was telling him now. To think, that she would abandon a chance to escape the nightmare voyage and live happily with a man that must have fallen in love with her, yet instead suffer a lonesome search in order to find them in their most dire hour, and to save the galaxy from the the virus by stopping the shuttles that were to drop into Warp - that was evidence enough for Jien. Of course, he saw Ida's side too, yet her suspicions seemed to be a matter of a clerical error and a mistrust towards a story that did not fit within her more... cynical take on the world. All that was most plausible was not always the truth.

"Lieutenant zh'Wann, run the names of the crew she mentioned by Thea. I think you are under the impression that it is the same freighter that was being escorted that also picked her up. Ask Thea to check the database registers for freighters and cross-reference them against the Federation flight logs for the sector we were in at the time when we believe we lost Ensign Carver and her wingmate. If we find two, and one of them requested a Federation escort, I believe that matter can be buried."

"Yes, Captain, but she-"

"Do it." The two words broke no argument.

Ida paused. "Yes, Captain."

While the Deputy walked over to a control panel, powered it up, and began to touch the buttons on the touch screen, Captain Ives stepped up to the forcefield. "My apologies that you have to go through this. I must ask you one last question, though," he said quietly to her, "if the freighter that picked you up was not the same freighter that had been escorted by the four Mk. II Valkyries, did you tell Andrus Hagan about the situation with the Theurgy, Starfleet Command and the Federation's accusations against us? What did you tell him?"

Hopefully, the results of Ida's impromptu research would not merit calling for Dr. Nicander to perform any of the new scans he had begun experimenting with. The poor doctor had barely recovered from his wounds from the last time he attended a prisoner. Not that Jien thought Ensign Carver was like that thing in the Harbinger's Brig, but Jien thought that the man would be less inclined to go near another holding cell anytime soon. "Do not worry, Ensign, I believe you. Else you would not have stopped the infection when you returned to us. The enemy wanted the galaxy crippled for their overtaking, so why would someone 'joined' - an enemy impersonating you - stop that from happening?"

The faint smile Jien tried to give her was one of reassurance, however faint it might have come out.

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #4
[ USS Theurgy | Fighter Bay: SCO's Office | 1705 hrs.]

Miles Made his way into his office after a rather eventful days simulations as well as a few hours of overseeing repairs in the fighter bay.  He smiled as he looked at the PADD on his desk and began going through the notes on it.  Finally he got to a section reading 'Individual reports.'

He went through the list one pilot after another going backwards so that his report would be the last entered.  He contacted the pilots one after another as he entered the logs they gave onto the PADD.  Finially he arrived at the last two names.  His own and Skye Carver, Wolf 02.  He tapped the combadge and spoke up.  "Kestrel, this is Alpha; ya got anything to report today?"

"This is Security. Ensign Carver has been arrested and is currently being interrogated in her holding cell." the voice on the other end of the combadge replied.

Miles replied in a flumoxed and extremely irritated voice "Excuse me she's what?  On who's authority, and why was I not informed?"

"Deputy zh'Wann ordered the Ensign's arrest, sir. As to why you were not informed, I do not know, yet I suppose ordinary routines are being hampered with all the repairs and exchange of personnel." the voice said calmly.

"Understood," he he said clearly frustrated and holding in a lot of anger but remaining as calm as possible under the circumstances.  "Has she been given the option of legal council or has that been conveniently hampered as well.  Please inform Deputy zh'Wann that I will be arriving very shortly and that I am sure the captain will be wanting to hear about this breech in arrest and interrogation protocols."

"Captain Ives is already here, sir. She, I mean he, is in there now, speaking with the Ensign. Deputy zh'Wann too. Do you want me to go in there and tell them you will be joining them?"  The security officer on the other end answered.

He sighed, "Yes, and can you please inform the Captain that when I arrive I would like an explanation of why I have been kept out of the loop on this.  I believe at the very least my officer and I deserve that much.  Renard out"

He immediately got up from his desk and put away the PADD. as he cursed under his breath. knowing with the power down he would have to take the long way to get to the Brig.

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #5
The quick fall and rise of her bust from the breath letting out and rushing back into her lungs was the only movement Skye made, a sure sign of relief that her captain still believed in her.  She knew she was far from out of the fire yet so couldn't quite rejoice but now she had hope again.  "Thank you, Sir," she said softly but her gratitude was thick in her tone.

"Even if you believe me though, I understand that tests will still need to be run.  I don't want there to be any room for doubt.  My loyalty and honor being questioned, along with pain and negative personal feelings toward Lieutenant zh'Wann ... I reacted badly and did become insubordinate to a point.  I blamed her for taking Scosche into a situation he never should have been in, and I still do, and then I poked her in the chest when she stated she believed I was in cahoots with the enemy."

She took another breath and clasped her hands behind her back as she braced her feet almost shoulder-width apart.  "I take full responsibility for my actions but I never struck back at her, Sir, either took the blows or blocked them.  I wanted to hit her, very badly, but she became irrational and I tried to bring it back to reason.  It didn't really work until I stopped being defensive and left myself open to her.  I didn't resist the arrest and I won't resist the testing or your sentencing."

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #6
In hearing more details about the way the arrest had been made, it fuelled Jien Ives' discontent with how the Deputy had handled the situation. Not only had she endangered herself in going alone to Skye Carver, given the strength that the joined enemies had proven themselves to possess, but Ida had even come to blows with someone still innocent until proven guilty, and this over attitude and critique against her split-second decisions in a battle. The Ensign admitted fault, yet based on her account of the arrest, the greater fault was Ida's. On top of this, Jien had other incidents where Ida had acted on her gut feeling, and while the Andorian had done everything in her power to save each situation, she failed as often as she prevailed. This, to the expense of lives and hazard to the mission.

Some, like the First Officer, argued that it was because of bad luck and unfortunate circumstances, and that Ida's intentions were good; that she meant to protect the crew. Yet Jien had lost a former Chief of Security, Wenn Cinn, due to Ida's unfortunate shortcoming in a critical situation. While she was not to be blamed for the Calamity hologram's killing of the next Chief of Security and Security Officer Marija Ferik, Ida and the aforementioned Cadet had been the last line of defence against Cala beaming up to the Main Bridge. That line of defence had been broken, the untrained Cadet had been lost instantly, and Nicole Howard, Amatras Neotin, Adam Kingston and T'Less had been shot down. She had even made threats at gunpoint against Edena Rez when released from the Brig.

Moreover, Ida had fallen victim to the Niga virus and initiated the Outbreak, which had rendered Ives infected too. The edict might protect her officially in that regard, yet Jien was growing less and less impressed with the Andorian's failures, regardless if it was unfair of him to blame her for them. A couple of days ago, she had ordered a forcefield lowered in the Harbinger's Brig without warning those in attendance first, and Lieutenant Dee, a third Chief of Security, had lost her life because of it. Now this? An arrest based on lacking evidence? Striking one of the Lone Wolves as if she was still in the Andorian Guard? There was a point, in Jien's mind, where patterns of random failures could not be ignored.

He turned from Skye in order to ask Ida for her account of how the arrest had gone about, but before he got the moment to ask, another security guard entered and spoke up. "My apologies, Captain. I was ordered to inform you and Deputy zh'Wann that Lieutenant Commander Miles Renard is heading here, and he requested an explanation as to why he has not been informed about Ensign Carver's arrest earlier today. Shall I let him in when he arrives?"

Captain Ives paused, the question he'd had in mind to ask zh'Wann altered before it left his lips, and this question was quite a bit sharper than he had initially intended. His countenance was as hard as his words. "Is this true? You have not made sure to inform the SCO that one of his fighter pilots have been taken taken out of the duty roster and thrown in the Brig?"

Ida turned away from the console, frowning, not so stoic anymore. "I was convinced this was taken care of by one of my men. Pardon, Captain, an oversight from me to make sure the report was actually sent to the Commander."

Jien's upper lip stiffened before he asked the next question. With the lack of sleep recently, this was becoming too much to digest in good stride. "And what about the logs in the database, was there more than one freighter in that System and sector at the given time that didn't request a Starfleet escort?"

Ida finished the search entry she had started on, and she paused a moment before answering in a slightly crestfallen tone. "It would seem that there were two more freighters in that sector, passing through at different times than the third did, both after the skirmish the two lone-wolves had," she announced, but she turned around to press the issue. "Nonetheless, that fourth Valkyrie and the escorted freighter were clos-"

"So with reasonable doubt as to her capture by the enemy, by no less than two other freighters that passed through the area after the battle, not to mention her own account, I should still believe there is merit in keeping this Ensign - whom I rewarded with the Star Cross for her loyalty towards our mission - locked up because she criticised one of your decisions? Because she poked you in the chest? You, if anyone, should know that if she was joined with the enemy, and you believed she would be, you would not have gone there alone to attempt the arrest."

"Sir, she was not suspected to begin with," Ida said, antennae rising in a defensive way, "I just needed to go over a discrepancy in her report and then the argument broke out when she did not want to answer my questions. She verbally attacked me at this point, I had reason to assume she was trying to divert attention away from her report and her true..."

"Sir, should I let Commander Renard in when he arrives?" asked the other security guard again, seemingly eager to leave.

"Yes, of course," snapped Ives and raked calloused fingers through his own hair, the guard vanishing right away "Deputy zh'Wann, please, I always value my crew's own initiatives, yet less so when they are misguided. Less even still when it encourages the kind of behaviour that will cause both these crews in this valley to start suspecting each other to be one of the enemy. We cannot function as a crew if we cannot trust each other. What you have done here today will cause a ripple effect that may just cost us lives or the very mission that we have embarked upon. Starfleet regulations still apply, and you have no evidence to support your claim. Your good intentions are again leading you astray."

"Captain, I..."

"When is it enough? This I ask myself repeatedly when it comes to you, Lieutenant, and right now, I wish I knew. What I do know is that you will not be my new Chief Security Officer, and that you may be demoted to Junior Lieutenant just so that you learn some humility and regard towards Starfleet regulations about how you should treat your fellow crew. You may still be Deputy, yet only until the new Chief of Security has decided what is to be done with you."

"Captain! I still..."

"Dismissed, Lieutenant. Get out. Right now."

With a pause filled with emotion and unspoken reaction to Jien's words, Ida turned on her heel and walked out, leaving Jien Ives and Skye Carver alone. "No tests," he said quietly, not meeting her eye through the forcefield, "the damage to trust is great enough as it is, and Dr. Nicander will still be screening everyone eventually. Not sure how that may help in that regard, but I hope that it will be less troublesome as everyone will be undergoing the same scans."

With a simple command upon a console not far away, Jien lowered the forcefield.

OOC: Skye next, but I think Miles may show up after that? :)

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #7
[Skye Carver]

Ever since that first time Skye had tried to reach out to Ida in her first days on the ship and had received nothing but dismissal, the pilot hadn't liked the Andorian.  Things had built up to the point she dreamed of ripping off those antennae and dangling them from the window in her cockpit.  Just a few days ago, seeing Ida dressed down as she was would have made her laugh and jump for joy but so much had happened and in her quiet time in the cell she'd had time to think about a lot of things.

Her eyes were troubled as Ida paused, then turned smartly and left the brig.  There was no joy, only sadness that one of their crew was suffering another blow.  Ida was far away from her home and there were no other Andorians on the manifest.  As alone as Skye felt most of the time, there were at least other humans around to bring some sense of comfort.  If anyone was truly alone, it was surely Ida.  There was nothing she could do now, a bridge burned so to speak though she didn't think she could ever truly try to become friends with the woman who brought about Scosche's death.

"No tests," came the soft voice, interrupting her gloomy thoughts.  He wasn't looking at her now, speaking of damage to trust and she wondered if a part of him might still worry that there was something sinister to her.  She swallowed hard, an audible squelch seemed to echo in the cell.  "Now or then, I will present myself, Sir," she said equally soft and watched him reach out to turn off the force field.  She didn't move immediately, instead hesitating with a hint of uncertainty but finally she stepped forward and stopped in front of him at a respectful distance looking almost like an errant child.  "I'm sorry, Sir," she murmured and waited to be dismissed.

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #8
Miles had been thinking as he came up to the deck climbing up the ladders within the ships labyrinth of access tubes.  In the time he had calmed himself though a part of him still wanted to grab the Andorian by the neck and make her remember to never abuse her power again.  In the time though he had calmed somewhat and was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, for now at least.  What was concerning him the most was what could have transpired that would prompt the arrest of what amounted to one of the shining examples within his squadron?  More importantly why would the captain be involved and himself not alerted.  Surely it must have just been an oversight in the communications onboard the ship, but with the rumors he had heard of the zealousness of Andorian security at home he had to wonder. Would he be dealing with something akin to Obsidian Order interrogation tactics used against his fellow pilot or would she be given the fairness of Federation investigations.

Miles came walking down the corridor towards the brig as he saw the Andorran figure in the distance.  His pace was quick and he had long earlier shifted into his true Vulpinian form to aide his trek through the back-roads of the ship.  He approached her and spoke up.  "I presume the captain sent you out to greet me and explain the situation?"  He said looking towards the security chief.  "But, before we go in, I would very much like to know what prompted you to begin an impromptu interrogation of one of my pilots before asking me to join you in it?  As you know per Federation regulations the chain of command would have it fall on me to assist in the initial confrontation and if necessary the arrest and interrogation."

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #9
[ USS Theurgy | Brig ]

Captain Ives said nothing for a few moments, troubled thoughts on his mind. He was looking down at the joints in the deck plating, tracing them to find options. Answers. Solutions. Like searching for pockets of clear water in a mire of shit he was stuck in. He might search all he wanted. He would still have to make muddy choices. Drinking some in order to make it to the next day. It had nothing to do with Skye, but the situation as a whole.

Was it better to suspect the worst and act accordingly, like Ida had done, or choose to nobly trust everyone and be sorry when later stabbed in the back? Lieutenant zh'Wann wanted to protect the crew by rather being safe than sorry, while he wanted to take risks and be unapologetic? Feel no shame in front of all his crew and the whole of the Federation when someday having to pay for choosing ignorance over distrust?Could he afford the risks he took for sake of preserving an obsolete method of command... in a situation where Starfleet protocols made them predictable, and ill equipped for a mission of their nature and import?

Ironic, how the Lone-Wolf apologised to him right then, when none of his troubles were truly her fault. Fate had just made her out  to be an example, where he had to pick a side of an argument that had been revisited in many ways and forms already since their long perilous voyage began. Nothing was black and white anymore. Her apology was so softly spoken that he raised his oaken eyes to look at her. It was as if she pardoned herself for being another burden upon his shoulders. He smiled faintly to her then, this beautiful human creature of invariable form that stood before him.

"Perhaps you may need to control your temper, and to rely on the chain-of-command in order to put your personal feelings aside. The way I see it, there are no videologs, and there are two accounts of what happened." He stepped to her and raised a hand to gently turn her cheek a bit towards him. The light played over the lustre of her skin, yet the vision of her physical self had been marred by a bruise along her cheekbone - undoubtedly where the Deputy had struck her first. "For your insubordination, and the aggressive way that you may have confronted her when she conducted her hearing, you may just have deserved this first one. I don't know. You can answer that question best yourself, and I will leave it be as long as you do think about how you act towards senior officers. I will not put it on your record."

Jien's eyes lowered, trailing down her form to her chiselled abdomen, where a second discolouration could be seen. His face was almost serene, neither gawking nor seizing her up in a lecherous way, but rather a respectful account of her impressive form. Like a boxing trainer surveying the injuries after a match in the ring, even if this kind of study was in his genetic code. The only way in which the moment could be perceived as intimate by the pilot was how close he stood to her, and the fact that he was touching her as he brushed the back of his fingers against the second bruise. "This one, however, and the fact that you are here is fully the Deputy's fault, and by extension my own. For I am the one to apologise that you were treated this way by Security. It should have been more clear where Rez and I stand in the question about possible enemy infiltrators. Something that shall be remedied now."
He retracted his hand and ended his study, his in-born Chameloid appreciation of her finished. "Given the admirable conditioning of your permanent form, I'd say you are not too worse for wear, though. You seem to be in excellent shape, yet I suppose that is to be expected from you Lone Wolves."

[ Meanwhile, Outside | The Security Office ]

To Ida, it was as if an icicle had fallen from on high, and by skewering her behind the collarbone... pierced her blue-blooded heart. She walked as if in a daze, not fully able to wrap her head around what had just happened. True, she had thought that she wasn't in Captain Ives' favour since David Grayson had been picked for the Chief of Security role, and even less so after the Niga Incident, but she had never thought it was this bad; that her honour-bound dedication towards protecting the Theurgy's crew would be so ill-favoured by her Commanding Officer.

By Lor'Vela, why should I care anymore?

She heard the approach of someone, turned her head without truly seeing. Only when the Vulpinian figure in the dim light spoke to her did she realise that it was the Squadron Commanding Officer, and that he was demanding explanations. She had no heart to retort in anger or defence, her mien flat as she replied. She faced the silhouette of the pilot a bit more, her hands by her sides and her antennae rising as she met his eye.

"You presume incorrectly, Commander Renard, yet I will answer nonetheless," she said and took a deep breath, collecting her thoughts a bit to give the man what he needed. She felt so numb, yet could sympathise with his standpoint given what had happened. "You would have been consulted earlier if it had been any true suspicion towards Ensign Carver when I approached her this morning, for I merely had a few questions about the report from the time she was missing in action. Her replies made for inconsistencies, and an increased likelihood that the enemy was involved in her absence, even meriting suspicions that she might be one of the enemy, given the lack of knowledge we have of them at this point. When I pursued the truth with further questions, the Ensign..."

She sighed. Her version of the story would never be credited anyway. "The situation went out of hand, we came to blows, she was arrested for insubordination yet I was also at fault. She was also to be kept for medical examination in order to verify her true human nature." She raised a hand to pinch the bridge of her nose, the pain helping her to focus. "It would seem you were not alerted to the development, and it was my responsibility to make sure word go to you about that happened, Commander. My apologies for not making sure this came about. I do not know for certain who failed to execute on the order, but I'll make sure it does not happen again."

Ida glanced back towards the distant door to the Brig. Yet perhaps its not my responsibility anymore. At least not if Captain Ives would have any say in the matter who the next Chief chooses for his Deputy.

"I was dismissed, Commander, but my written report is with the Captain if you care to know what prompted that I approached Ensign Carver to begin with." Hopefully the exotic squadleader would settle for that much so that she could leave, yet somehow she doubted it....

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #10
[Skye Carver]

Skye watched the captain further, almost able to see the weights on his shoulders.  Her apology had meant to encompass everything but it almost felt like it wasn't enough.  His face lifted and his eyes captured hers as he stepped forward and turned her face to look at the bruise.  His comment brought a rueful expression, her lips pursed with a lopsided and self-deprecating grin.

"Eight times out of ten I deserve the first punch, Sir," she said light heartedly, hoping to ease some of the tension in the brig.  One thing she could recall was she had never seen the captain smile, something she found profoundly sad.  Then he said he wouldn't put this on her record and a bit of breath she'd been holding back let out and her shoulders relaxed just a little bit more.

As his eyes drifted downward, there was a new tension and one she hadn't expected.  The muscles underneath the skin where he brushed the backs of his fingertips fluttered.  Though he didn't mean it that way, there was a certain intimacy Skye felt.  Only lovers or medics had ever touched her wounds and bruises but he was her captain and surely couldn't be interested in a lowly ensign.

Even with that thought, warmth rose in her eyes as she looked up through her lashes as he stepped back.  "I took a knife and lost an ovary on Nimbus III so this was just a love tap," she replied in an uncharacteristic distraction from her body's condition.  It was clear she appreciated his compliment but was maintaining appropriate interaction between herself and a superior officer.

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #11
At her humorous remark about injuries sustained in the line of duty, Captain Ives chuckled faintly, remaining where he stood within an arm's length away from the fighter pilot. The... boldness to her eye was a change, and if nothing else, it did serve to distract Jien from heavier thoughts. He met that look and spoke quietly in his faded British accent.

"I remember that report," he said, his eyes lowering to her abdomen; searching for the puckered markings that may just as well have been treated by a dermal regenerator and rendered invisible. He crouched down slowly before her, his brown eyes scrutinising the texture of her skin over the aforementioned area. "You fought a group of Nausicaans in a seedy establishment, and the leader of the group had to slam you repeatedly into the wall before he could use his knife on you. A knife which you ripped from his grip even as you were injured. An impressive feat, Lone-Wolf."

Seeing the scar when the light cast across her skin just so, he glanced up to her as if in minute approval before reaching out with his fingertips - outlining the affected area. "You were treated by our new Head Nurse at a local clinic, which seemed to lack the more sophisticated kind of medical equipment. There are surgical makings here, and while the hand was steady and true, some of the lines from the removed stitchings can still be seen."

Dropping his fingers from the area, his gaze was still roaming the texture of her skin, yet he caught himself being too observant for human social conventions, so he ceased looking at the way her thighs met up close. He stood up and took a deep breath, running a hand through his hair while meeting her eye once more. The distraction from the world outside the Brig compelled him to linger, not to mention the light tension of a deepened acquaintance with the one called Kestrel among the Wolves. She certainly did not seem to mind speaking lightly with her Commanding Officer too, so he saw no reason to dismiss her unless she wanted to leave all on her own.

"Scars fascinate me, as you might imagine," he confessed to her with a light shrug and a casual gesture, "since I can't very well have my own without being pretentious, given the fact that I can make them vanish quite easily. My morphogenic matrix may become unstable by certain radiations and deeper injuries, yet that is something that leaves neither stitchings nor scars when treated. I apologise if I have been too forward."

It was obvious, though, that the apology was merely a method of propriety, since he was not sorry that she had allowed him to study her physique up close, as errant it might be thought that a Captain would do so given the circumstances. It was when facing such humanoids as her that he thought of experimenting with his forms once more, even if his years of adapting his Chosen Forms had come to an end.

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #12
[Skye Carver]

Skye's eyes sparkled when she heard him chuckle, that happy feeling inside of her rising again as it always did when she managed to get someone to laugh or smile when they were feeling down.  That was a trait she'd always had, even as a little girl.  Her mother had told her she'd been tempted to change her name from Skye to Sunny because of her impish delight in making people laugh.

Maybe she should have felt some qualms about having the captain crouching before her as she was clothed in nothing but her standard issue undies but it simply didn't really phase her.  She'd also been known to be a bit of streaker at times, unabashedly running through some place with not a stitch on since she found that old Earth prank highly amusing.  No, she just stood still for his inspection.

"Well, Sir, I am a wolf so that sort of makes me a bitch by default," she stated, continuing with a less than formal dialogue with him since he didn't seem to mind.  Maybe having someone be a little informal was just what he needed, a momentary reprieve from having to be strong and unyielding.  "Besides, that guy was uglier than warts on a goat's balls.  I was doing Nimbus III a favor by setting him up for Kae to take down."

Again muscles fluttered as he touched along the scar, creating a hint of warmth within her pelvic region but she nodded.  "Yes, Lieutenant Jenkins is quite skilled and I'd take her over most doctors in the field.  She knows how to take care of someone without all the gadgets.  She offered the dermal regenerator once we got back but I declined.  It's a reminder that I shouldn't let myself get distracted by men who can create major gusts of wind," she chuckled.

She was referring to Lucan of course, how it was he who had summoned the winds and distracted her so the damn Nausican managed to knife her.  Skye was also continuing to chat away as if she hadn't noticed his gaze lingering on certain parts of her body.  He was the captain so protocol told her he was off limits and she'd already been errant enough.  She did smile at his comment about being fascinated with scars.  "Most warriors are," she replied with a hint of pride.

"And there's no need to apologize.  I've been caught in my skivvies or less more than once," she quipped and then gave him a more respectful expression.  "I should apologize for not addressing you properly, Sir, but I have this little problem that when I see someone burdened as greatly as you are right now that I just say things to try to lighten the mood.  I mean no disrespect, only wish to bring some levity for a heartbeat or two to remind us of how we used to be."

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #13
When Skye Carver mentioned that she had been caught in her underwear more than once, Jien remembered that he had seen a report from the eve of battle with the Calamity, where four Lone Wolves had been engaged in drinking games in Below Decks, and Ensign Carver had performed a lap dance for one of the others. Yet when she apologised to him in kind for acting in her off-duty demeanour towards him, and when she told him why, the Ensign almost broke the spell - the reminder of what awaited them both outside the Brig hanging in the air once again.

Heartbeats of levity indeed, so scant and fleeting when felt.

"You are certainly not being disrespectful. Quite the opposite," he said quietly, and he managed to hold on to the feeling that there was a source of reprieve to be found in speaking with the Ensign. His eyes dropped to indicate her bodily form, and he twisted his words into a small joke. "After all, you are a sight for sore eyes."

His faint smile and the look he gave her punctuated his pun, as if confirming that he actually had jested with her. He stepped around her slowly, his soundless steps allowing him to look upon her back as well. He continued the light-hearted jargon they had established by bringing up what he had come to think of earlier.

"I do recall now that you were caught in your skivvies - as you so aptly put it - in Below Decks of all places," he said as he circled her, searched her body for more scars and appreciating the sight of her unique form. "I had thought that with the deactivation of the Felicity Hologram, that place would be rid of antics like that, yet I hear you performed a lap dance for someone in your pack too. Oh, do not be alarmed, for I do try to read everything. All I am saying is that I am certain that an escapade like that was another source of great levity for those present."

Coming around on her other side, he had already changed... into her female form, and she still wore the same kind of faint smile. "Perhaps, someday, you might be willing to teach me how to do that?" she said, her accent the same but her voice a female reflection of the other. "For I do believe in the need for distractions in times as dire as these, and it's something so far remote from anything I've learned over the decades that I am too intrigued to not make the request."

When she came to a stop in front of Skye again, she folded her arms underneath her uniformed chest. "So what say you, Ensign?" She raised her chin in mock-challenge. "Can you teach an old bitch to sit?"

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #14
[Skye Carver]

Sometimes her mouth got ahead of her brain and she saw the momentary lapse, the sadness and anger rising in those oaken eyes.  He recovered quickly though, and she felt another little wave of relief.  He even returned a little volley of his own, something that brought a smile to her face as she preened for just a moment, going along with the joking manner.

Her eyes widened when he recalled her little display in Below Decks.  It hadn't seemed like anything someone would report to the captain, especially since they hadn't been drunk enough to start a fight and break things.  Still though it was a bit flattering he'd heard about her little dance.  "Well, it did sort of make someone smile a little bit wider," she said offhandedly.

The captain began to walk to her side and stepped behind her in a seeming review of her body.  If there was one part of her she was truly proud of, it was her ass.  It was probably what people commented on most about her and her lovers had certainly enjoyed a good smack now and then as well as a little exploring.  As the talk became nothing about duty, she relaxed more.

Only to nearly completely relax when the captain stepped around in her female form.  Gone was any sign of tension that had been roused by the male form touching her.  Now there was a look of respect but any sensual air was now gone.  The last words though had her face nearly splitting as the grin widened.  "I have no doubt you can learn in a heartbeat and if you're not careful, you'll be a Wolf all too soon," she replied, accepting the challenge.

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #15
"Oh, I would be putting on my flight suit inside-out and crash the bird into the hangar wall at first notice," confessed the Captain, having no skills in Conn whatsoever. She might be able to fly a shuttle if so required, but not too well.

"A deal, then," she said next, her smile a bit more than a touch to her eyes, and raised her hand to run some of her own hair behind her ear, "yet I trust you can keep this somewhat to yourself though? It would hardly be deemed appropriate in the eyes of the crew that I was taking that kind of dancing lessons, despite how healthy it might be to stretch your legs a bit and learn new art-forms."

Turning around, she headed to the locker which kept the Ensigns clothes, and even if she enjoyed the sight of her form, Jien supposed it was no way around the fact that the human wanted to get back into her clothes and out of the Brig. "Here you are." She opened it for Skye and leaned against the wall next to the open locker, changing back... to his male form. He folded his arms across his chest and watched her. "I will contact you when I have time for a first lesson, if that is okay with you."

Since she did not mind him watching her body, he continued to do so in his studious way.

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #16
[Skye Carver]

The image of Jien Ives donning a pilot suit and then crashing was actually amusing, causing Skye to laugh out loud and then hush quickly with a contrite expression.  "I doubt you'd be that bad," she chuckled at the person she saw as at least competent in everything s/he did, typically outstanding.  "A deal, then," she said and Skye bobbed her head.  "A deal."

She'd known the captain would ask for secrecy and she'd only nodded at first, watching the female version go to the locker and retrieve her uniform.  "I can keep the secret but would it be so bad for the crew to know you can and do enjoy yourself once in a while?" she asked and then looked into the male version's eyes.  Perhaps he was enjoying himself already, changing at that particular moment.

Taking her uniform, she started putting it on though perhaps she did so a little slower than necessary.  Old habits die hard.  "I know you're the captain and supposed to hold yourself at a distance but ... respectfully Sir ... you're a person just like the rest of us.  There are times we all need something fun to help us stay focused when things are bad."  Like now, when everyone was stressed from their situation.

"True the crew doesn't need to know but if they did know you were doing something and were enjoying yourself, it would be a relief.  I know when I look at you, I worry that all the pressure is building up inside of you and it's got to come out in some form," she said as she zipped the uniform top.  "Better if it's something fun than basically exploding at an inopportune time.  Trust me, I'm an expert at that," she said with a lopsided grin and waved around her, indicating the brig.

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #17
The question about a Captain's integrity and profile in the eyes of the crew was hardly an easy topic, since there was a mix of rules, personal preferences - even individually recommended behaviour - that dictated the standard for each ship and each Commanding Officer. The same applied for the Department Heads too. Personally, Jien had come to chose what was most wise for the sake of their current mission, and be as firm as it required too. Moreover, he had to use the kind of leadership that he could maintain in all situations, and not resort to managerial techniques that was alien to him and his persona.

"I think the crew knows," he said quietly as he watched her movements, "or suspects, that even if I am what I am, in terms of my species and my role aboard the Theurgy, I am still a person like everyone else. They know that I am not carved out of a slab of stone or hammered into shape from a rod of iron. The difference lay in fact and fiction. The former might be used against me, the latter mightn't."

At this point, Skye's bare body had regrettably vanished behind layers of clothing, and yet the special kind of memory that was genetic to him let the vision remain, to the point where he might be able to mimic her appearance, yet only skin-deep. Not like his two Chosen Forms, which were true down to a cellular level. The problem with that kind of thorough adaptation of a species inherent biology was that he had just as little control over his body as the next man... In order to not make this semi-hard fact evident to the pilot, since that would certainly be unseemly in the context that they were just then talking about, Jien pushed away from the wall and walked in a semi-circle as he continued to speak. If Skye had noticed anything, it would not be in his tone of voice.

"I... have spoken with out new Chief Counsellor already, and I suppose I should keep seeing her. The risk you mention is the same one she talks about, even if I do think I find means of therapy elsewhere than in Counselling. I... find respite in training regiment. In honing the skills I was taught when I was raised in Japan."

Facing her anew at the end of the short walk, Jien shrugged with one shoulder, the small smile returning momentarily. "Perhaps I will find the same therapeutic value in training with you." The smile waned though. "Yet I maintain that it must still remain secret... since the risk of mutiny is too high. I do not want to arm any opposition in our own ranks with facts that could be used against me in an unofficial smearing campaign. No rumours to fuel the flames. We will not exactly be deemed heroes in the eyes of all if we succeed... given what we have had to do during our escape from Earth. Some people think we are fighting to attend our own war crime trials... and that is reason enough to be mindful."

Gone was any smile now, replaced with a countenance carved in gravestone.

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #18
Miles respectfully looked at the obviously troubled security chief.  Or that's what he thought she was unaware of the recent change.  Still he could tell there was something weighing on her heavily.  "I'll talk to the Captain then about it then since he is in there."  He said letting her leave.

Soon he walked the rest of the way to the brig.  He was far from as rushed as he had been before.  If he knew Skye at all he knew that if she were angry with the captain she probably would not hold back in the least.  Still with his hearing he could detect nothing out of the ordinary, No strange vibrations from the resounding bass of the thugs of things being thrown into a wall.  No loud shouts of argumentative voices.  No alarms had sounded.  No security had ran through the corridor.  Everything pointed to at least some form of calm between Skye and the captain.  For that at least he was thankful.  Still he knew there was a discussion that was necessary. 

He walked to the door as it opened automatically.  He scanned the room noticing the calm of his now fully dressed officer and the Captain.  "Captain, I was informed that you would provide me with a briefing of security's side of the situation.  Carver, I'm glad to see you are relatively unharmed.  I had feared the worst when I was unable to contact you."  He said in a almost deadpan neutral tone, pushing as much of his inner passion to the side as best as possible.  Despite this there was a visible anger on his face, an anger he felt was justified given how he had not been made aware of this until he began to investigate where his officer had been personally.

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #19
[Skye Carver]

His smile was gone, but Skye's remained though it had softened.  "I understand the reasons and promise, Sir.  Not a word and we will clear our names as well as save Starfleet."  She paused for a moment then, a little wrinkle forming between her brows.  "You know, you could always take on another form if you wanted.  That way if someone walked in they'd never know it was you," she offered.

Anything more she would have said was cut off as soon as she heard the hiss of the doors opening.  Any playfulness in her expression was gone and now there was only the ensign pilot standing with her captain.  "I'm fine, Sir, and apologize for not having my combadge for a while," she stated simply and then went silent to let the captain and her commanding officer hash out the details.

(OOC:  Short post I know but wanted to allow the captain and squad leader to have a chance for some dialogue.)

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #20
When Miles Renard entered the Brig, Captain Ives had also fallen silent and he inclined his head to the Squadron Commanding Officer in greeting. Skye's question would have to remain unanswered until they'd meet again.

"You have had to stay here in the Brig long enough, Ensign," he said to her in Miles' presence with his characteristic faint smile. "Dismissed. I think Commander Renard here would like your side of the story too, so feel free to write up a report for your debriefing with him. Good evening to you in the meantime, and try to avoid getting into another fight on your way out of here."

Turning to the SCO, Captain Ives then started from the beginning, going over the details of the incident and apologising for not having made sure Security had gotten in touch with him upon Ensign Carver's arrest.

Yet with such burdens as he carried, what came to linger with him the most after having visited the Brig was the brief respite he had found in speaking with the fighter pilot. Perhaps she was right in many thing, that there was merit in letting his ...her hair down once and a while. The thought had made Jien change into her female form, mid-speaking with Miles Renard about the demotion of ThanIda zh'Wann and what had happened in the Harbinger's Brig, where it had been confirmed that they housed on the the enemy. Sonja Acreth was now the living proof of the conspiracy, and all their fears had been verified.

"Without an internal surveillance feed, it was word against word," she finished, folding her arms underneath her breasts and looking up upon the Vulpinian, "yet I have chosen to not administer punishment for Ensign Carver's insubordination. I deemed that her being locked up here today was punishment enough, making her realise what may come of such behaviour. Do you concur with my judgement, or would you like to pursue this matter further?"

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #21
Miles listened as the captain went over the details.  After he was done with the post-incident report he nodded.  Sighing he said.  "Sounds like we both have our work cut out for each other.  For one I think I need to re-brief my officers on the concept of "Lawyer'ing up" in reaction to a line of what they perceive as unfair questionings rather than resulting to insubordination or resistance of arrest."

"To be honest though it is a relief to hear what has came out.  My own instinct had made me initially worried that my officer was being treated unfairly and was the victim of some kind of security department witch-hunt behind my back.  Instead it seems the truth is far more benign."

He then pinched the bridge of his nose thinking for a moment whether to state his opinions or not, and decided that it would probably be better if he didn't speak out on it at the moment.  Instead he simply added.  "In defense of zh'Wann, I don't really hold any resentment towards her.  From what I can tell both of them probably said things to each other that made them deserve both whatever knocks they received and to be given a little time out in the brig."

"As for thoughts on Carver's punishment before you mentioned your thoughts on the matter I was considering between 1 and 4 weeks with between 2 to 4 hours added shift time.  The final decision would be dependent on how much I felt was appropriate based on her own account of the events.  In this way the punishment would rather than take away her ability to be useful to the ship would enforce a consequence for her actions by reducing her free time while giving her a means of repaying her dept to the ship so to speak.  However, since your evaluation is that she is in need for no additional punishment due to her understanding of the consequences of insubordination as well as her understanding of the reasons why such consequences are necessary, I will defer to your judgement as Captain and would recommend no further punishment.  After all the point is for her to grow as an officer and she is still an Ensign after all.  Better that she makes these mistakes early on in her career." 

He had to chuckle a bit at that last statement.  "Career, It amazes me that i can still think like this." he said with still a soft laugh that brought a slight tear to his eye not from the sadness of it but from the hilarity in the absurdity of it all.  "After all of this and I still have faith that the system will work itself out and we will be fully exonerated once we expose the truth.  Oh I don't doubt that we will come through; I don't doubt that we will triumph in getting the word out, and I am 100% certain that the Federation will succeed in fighting back against this enemy within.  I am certain in these facts Captain."  he said confidently with a fierce grin showing those fanged canines behind the human like lips.   His voice softened a bit as he sighed gently looking up and rolling his eyes with a soft laugh in his voice  "But I must be the most naive person on this ship to think that there's a happy ending for any of us in this."

Re: EPISODE 03: Unconquerable Soul [Chapter 02: What Goes Around...]

Reply #22
Stepping away; leading the way out of the Brig with her arms still folded, Jien chuckled at the SCO's confession. "Learn from the past, live in the moment, and lay your hopes in the future. Great deeds are made by those who trudges on with this in mind, and keeps doing so despite the odds. That, is what I keep telling myself. Yet even to me those words may ring hollow sometimes."

Thinking of what Skye had said before Miles showed up, Jien wondered if frivolity was a means to an end as well; where one might dampen the worst blows that dire days might bring. If you do manage to find some joy despite the pain and darkness all around, it might not matter that you are facing death by the enemy's or the Federation's war crimes tribunal. You have still lived as you might have wanted to live if you had been victorious and unpunished.

"Yet when they do feel hollow," continued Jien and stepped into the dim lights of the corridor, "we always have the words engraved upon our plaque. Courage is fear, when it has said its prayers. Only if we brave another day do we learn if our hopes were indeed in vain."

- Fin

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