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CHAPTER 01: Cobalt & Iron [0715 hrs.]

CHAPTER 01: "Cobalt & Iron - Part 1" Joint-Post by TheBanshee & Auctor Lucan

[ USS Theurgy | Deputy's Office | Deck 07 | 0715 hrs. ]

Lieutenant Commander Wenn Cinn returned to Ida’s office, standing a little taller and cutting a much more impressive figure now he no longer looked, felt and smelled like a vagabond.

After Cinn had left, Ida had seated herself behind her Deputy's desk and started working on running the department - knowing fully well that some of the things she did would be the last time in a long while now that Cinn had returned. On top of her desk rested also the gun that the Petty Officer-turned-Infiltrator had given her yesterday, and the odd weapon represented yet another reminder that people were not always what they seemed. It made the notion that there might be more of the enemy among them very real.

People like Ensign Acreth.

When the Lieutenant Commander returned, Ida raised her eyes, and the striking figure of the Ridgenose made her smirk in poorly concealed relief to have him there. It was still a bit odd looking at him, as if expecting him to vanish unless she looked directly at him. "I trust you had a nice time showering off the corpse worms?" she asked and pushed a couple of PADDs to the side.

Cinn walked in feeling refreshed, his clean uniform a huge improvement to the rags he had arrived in.  The small bundle under his arm attested to his desire to retain the tattered clothing as a memento of his experiences.  It felt good to be back to the land of the living, his posture and demeanour glowed with a silent self-confidence and he made an impressive sight as he crossed the short space to the desk.

The side of his mouth pulled up into a smirk as Ida asked him about his shower, "The worms were easy to evict, it's the decomposition gasses I'm more worried about.  This debrief could take a while... I hope you brought a respirator, not sure the scrubbers will handle it."

He pulled a seat up to the desk and sat back in it.  Kicking up his feet he placed one booted heel on the desk and crossed the other over it, giving her a defiant grin that almost begged for her to object,  "Right, start at the beginning.  What happened after I got spaced?"

Yet there was no grin meeting him.

Being so to the point, the Ridgenose had torn all brittle layers between the present and the past, and Ida collected her thoughts on how to summarise the events following their first encounter with the USS Archeron, which was when Cinn had died, so to speak. Ironically, it was the ordeal that was the hardest for her to remember that she had to begin with.

"What happened was that we escaped with many losses and the Theurgy has never been more damaged than it was back then," she began, and knew that she bore dark news. "Augarath Thenaljpar died, and I am sorry, for I know the two of you were close... Not only him, but the Chief Science Officer, Counsellor and CONN Officer also died in the fighting. We sought refuge beyond the Borderlands and found the uncharted planets in the Mahéwa System, one of them being highly verdant and ideal to the purpose of resupplying deuterium, for instance. It was the planet Niga."

Thus, she spent ten minutes reciting what the reports had said, told him about David Graysons promotion over her yet not the cause of that decision. She meant to speak of what she had done to their prisoner before they arrived to the planet, but Ida judged it secondary compared to what else there was to describe. She spoke of the virus and the reported events aboard. The hopeless situation that was resolved because the USS Relativity came to their aid - having located them through the personal log of the former prisoner Edena Rez. She spoke of the many more who had died or been put to stasis with little chance of surviving, the prominent names being First Officer Nerina, SCO Jaru Rel, COps Hendricks and Chief Engineer Nolak Kalmil.

"As for a personal account, I cannot leave much, since I was the first one infected on the planetside. Through me, the virus sought to spread its seed across the Galaxy. I cannot take responsibility, since it was not I who committed the crimes upon my fellow crew, but I still wear the stigma of my twisted self's actions to this day. This, despite the Captain's edict."

As Ida spoke he made mental notes of questions to ask and more detail he wanted on some areas mentioned in reports.  While she spoke about Niga and the incidents that had occurred Cinn took his feet off the desk and sat up with his hands on the desk.  The list of names she reeled off as being either dead or in stasis brought home the utter carnage the virus had wrought upon the crew and he understood, at least as much as an outsider of the situation could, the significant impact it had had on both on the crew as a whole as well as Ida herself.

"You can't take responsibility but you are taking the blame.  Anyone who holds that incident against you needs to be reminded of the reality of what happened, that means you too.  You are even using the phrase 'my twisted self' to hold onto that blame," he sighed sadly, having seen it before in other victims of crime, especially sexual crime, but never thinking he would have to have this talk with his own deputy.

"Ida, you are not to blame for any of it.  No more than any other victim of sexual crimes are to blame for what happened to them.  You know this but you aren't willing to believe it.  Well believe it, it's the truth," Cinn held her gaze firmly as he spoke, not letting her look away as he drove home the hard facts of what happened.  "You were not raped once by the plant, you were raped over and over again as your body was used by it to infect others.  That makes you a victim of an insidious parasite."

"I was defeated," said Ida sharply," I was supposed to protect the crew and I lost the first battle. I was not a victim, I was a failu-"

He held up a hand, "Don't argue about the word victim, it doesn't make you weak.   Clearly everyone knows it wasn't you who did those things since Jien spoke about it.  Your only weakness is in sitting there and taking the blame that doesn't exist, dealing with being a victim doesn't need to be made any harder by imagining blame.  Let it go."

Ida took a deep breath through her nose, white eyebrows furrowed as she regarded Cinn. How could he think he had a right to call her a victim when he hadn't even been there? An unjust thought of hers. Irrational even, if she let herself do a moment of introspection. Yet Cinn knew not her reasons. How could he, when he was a part of her rationalisation when she'd defend her actions? He had been dead! Looking away, Ida's mouth was twisted in a grimace and yet she grated on - her report not finished.

"We let go of Edena Rez, can you imagine?" she said instead, using his words to continue as well as to avoid the issue. "I forgot to mention it. It was before the Niga Incident, just a day or two after you vanished. Captain Ives went to see her and that SI operative confessed to have been planted in our crew so that she might monitor and protect the prototype technology aboard. She was supposed to vent the entire Lone Wolves squadron and make the tactical systems shred them, delete Thea in order to keep her program from falling into Non-Federation hands. Detonate the Warp Core if so required. All this while she listened to the crew confess their innermost secrets in her guise as Azhani - the Asst. Chief Counsellor. Captain Ives just let her walk after she removed her SI backdoor hacks into the ship systems. At the time, after you were gone and that Pinkskin Grayson was supposed to take your role, I feared for the crew. It seemed I had no recourse but to take matters into my own hands."

A frown creased the Bajoran's brow as she spoke.  He remembered the incident with the spy posing as the Counsellor, throwing her in the brig.  He also remembered seeing that same woman standing next to the Captain on his return.  At least now her position at the side of the Captain made some kind of sense, he would need to find out what had happened to change Jien's opinion of the spy so drastically.  Yet there was more, an action Ida had taken because she didn't respect Grayson.  True, he had been shy and quiet but there was potential hidden away in there.  Why had he been promoted over her?

"Ida... what did you do?"

As her antennae angled forward, she replied as if she spoke of the annual blizzards on Andoria. "I went to her quarters. She was in the sonic shower. I put my phaser against her. Told her that while she may have been pardoned from the Brig, she was still deemed a potential threat to the crew. A Starfleet Intelligence operative did what served purposes beyond the welfare of the crew, and since we were alone, this could no longer be the case. In retrospect," she said, looking to her hands on the desktop, "not one of my finest hours. Yet by Lor'Vela, you were not there anymore, and I had to do something."
For a moment Cinn said nothing at all, instead he raised a hand and massaged his forehead and processed the information he had just received.  The pagh that made her such a good security officer was wild and untempered which had led her into trouble before and seemed it had done so again.  Under his command she had been more restrained but it had taken time.  With his death she had returned to that wild state, unbound by any respect for her direct superior. 

The silence continued while he considered his words.

Ida steepled her fingers on the tabletop, and while she seemed collected, the wait for Cinn to say something was tough on her. In her own regard, these crimes of hers had already run their course, she had already been absolved and reprimanded for them, but it felt... awkward to put her actions under her Chief's scrutiny. She realised just then, that this account of hers might possibly forever reflect upon her in his eyes... and that notion made her heart sink.

Finally he broke the silence.  His voice deep and rumbling yet, while not angry, contained little of the warmth that it usually possessed, "Lieutenant zh'Wann, I had thought I had trained you better than that.  Entering an officer's quarters, clearly abusing your authorisation codes to do so, and threatening them?  Why?  Because you thought you had to do something?  There was something you could have done.  You could have raised your concerns with your superior officer, suggested that she be escorted and placed under guard, that her clearance be limited until such time as her credentials were proven.... better still you should have trusted your Captain who was clearly given more information than you to come to the decision that she did."

He took a breath, "Ida, by the Prophets... you are such a good officer but you let your heart rule your head."

Ida accepted his words quietly. She took a long breath that was not entirely stable.

"My heart make the cobaltite in my blood flow through my veins. It makes me who I am," she said in a low voice where she sat, breathing through her nostrils as she stared at Cinn, her words as firm as they were calm. "I am Andorian. Stronger, hardier than many species. Vulcans, of course, still superior. We are what we are because our homeworld hold greater gravity, thinner air and a harsher climate. Yet despite this, one forges neither shield nor sword from cobalt. You... are iron. Your blood is ferrous liquid. When you bleed, you reek of rust. It is iron that fills your heart and course through your veins. And what is iron unless it’s forged into something like you? I can but strive to forge myself into something resembling you, so since you died..."

Here, Ida's had to grind her teeth together and look away to keep her voice from breaking. "...I have strived. Every day."

Cinn pressed his lips together as she expressed how she had been trying to emulate him since he had gone, realising perhaps how much influence his training had had on her.  He had not intended to create a clone of himself through her but it seemed as though unwittingly he had done so.  Had they worked so closely that she could not work without him?

Looking back towards Cinn, Ida sucked a new breath through her nostrils and leaned back in her chair a bit. "It was not, however, because I threatened what would become our new First Officer that kept me from taking over this department," she said, thinking that Cinn might already have picked up on that odd development. "When you died - when you were sucked through the hull breach - I tried to reach you; my comrade in war. For we were at war, and still are," she said quietly, like steel sheathed in silk, not in some kind of affectionate declaration.

"So when I lost you, I failed our team. I... froze. I do not know how I managed to crawl back along the support beams and get behind the closing blast doors. Yet once I was there, I could not move. That was when Lieutenant Grayson stepped up, until the point when I finally snapped out of it."

Frowning, as if there was a foul taste in her mouth, Ida looked down. "It has been like a part of me went out the hull breach along with you."

The silence lingered while the truth was finally spoken.

"It's almost funny, when I went out of that hull breach all I could think about was how I had failed you and the crew," Cinn replied quietly.  "It seems I have failed you in a way, just not the way I had anticipated.  I was so busy training you to replace me should the worst have happened that I didn't let you develop your own style.  Naturally when the worst did happen you tried to become me.  No matter how much you tried you couldn't do it, not because you aren't good enough but because we are so very different in so many ways."

Cinn paused, contemplating his failure before sighing sadly, "I am sorry Ida."

[ To Be Continued... ]

Re: CHAPTER 01: Cobalt & Iron [0715 hrs.]

Reply #1
CHAPTER 01: "Cobalt & Iron - Part 2" Joint-Post by TheBanshee & Auctor Lucan

[ USS Theurgy | Deputy's Office | Deck 07 ]

Cinn paused, contemplating his failure before sighing sadly, "I am sorry Ida."

She looked up from her hands after a couple of moments, her tone remaining quiet. "Like I said, we are made of different compounds, and you never taught me to do this alone," she grated and had to clear her throat. "If I may be so bold to say so, Chief, we were such a close team that I think you would not have fared well in pulling the doubled burden either. Better than me, for certain, but my debriefing is not done, and the ordeals between leaving the Mahéwa System and yesterday morning have not been much easier on our Security Officers or the crew."

Nor I, she thought, and given how transparent she had been with Cinn, he'd probably already know that.

Putting the troubling thoughts of his own to one side he refocused on the next part of the saga that had befallen the Theurgy during his time away from the ship.  He would deal with his own issues at a later time, right now he needed to know what had been going on.

And Ida told Cinn about how, after the Relativity returned to the timestream and left behind their Temporal Affairs Officer, she had reconciled with Commander Rez but been at great odds with David Grayson. She admitted to having given him a hard time because he was not like Cinn, second guessing him in all the things he did as her new Commanding Officer. He had tried in vain to win her over, attempting to clear the air by offering her dinner, only to have the evening result in heated arguments and Ida leaving before the meal was finished.

"I was no fool. I know that I failed when I could not handle the pressure, and our superior officers did the right thing in not giving me the position as Chief." This was something that she knew the crew thought of her; that she had concerned herself with her career. She hadn't cared, for she could not have openly questioned the officer that was promoted over her. It would only have undermined the chain-of-command. "What alarmed me was that they picked that withdrawn and idle Pinkskin because of a single heroic effort in standing in when you died and I was left unfit to lead. They should have picked someone stronger. A true leader. Because how could Grayson have been the one to protect the crew on this voyage we are on? I thought him a bloody opportunist without the mettle to lead us. He was no warrior. Just some Admirals's son with a fancy name that would have us all killed out of incompetence."

Cinn's eyebrows raised a little at her denouncing of Grayson as a suitable replacement for him.  Admittedly he hadn't thought that Grayson would have stepped up to the mark so suddenly either but there had always been something hidden away in that young man. Cinn's death it seemed had brought it out in him.

"Yes, how could Grayson have done it?" he asked, "I surmise from the way you're talking about him that something happened to change your opinion of him?"

Ida blinked. She had forgotten how well Cinn knew her, or perhaps it was just how keen a listener he was. An occupational hazard they shared, perhaps; searching for the underlying meaning even outside the interrogation room. His question led straight to the events of the Ishtar Incident. "I suppose the trauma from realising what the virus at Niga had made me do caused me to question the motives of everyone around me. The crew still remembers, and I was slow to trust people's intentions. A couple of weeks passed until... something... found us."

She described how the Theurgy has been visited by an omnipotent alien entity. it had been attracted to the elevated sexual pheromone-levels that the collective crew emanated in the Mahéwa System, and it had made its way aboard the ship with the expectation that the same levels would await her. However, disappointed as she had been, she had tried to force the crew to once again enjoy themselves in primal ways. Ishtar had begun to toy with them, and even forced many of the crew to interact in ways that led to further sexual activity. All to gain the energy she needed in order to break free of the prison in her own dimension.

Cinn ran his hand across his jaw and shook his head.  The repercussions from the Niga incident had been far reaching and devastating.  So many of the crew dead or injured, so many more with probable mental scarring from both incidents.  All of this on top of the battle to rid the Federation of a parasitic infection claiming the top positions.  He wondered how much more the crew would be able to take before at least one of them broke down entirely.  Statistically there would have to be at least one, he hoped in the name of the Prophets that they didn't have a weapon on them at the time.

"The entity trapped me and Grayson in a holding cell, and after he made advances, we fought. The Pinkskin surely enough could hold his own in a fight. He was a better warrior than I had anticipated," she said, pausing and wondering if she should tell Cinn what happened next. It hardly mattered. Grayson was dead anyway. "Like most of the rest of the crew, we ended up being intimate together... Forced as we were, not knowing how much we were in control when we were in the holding cell, we still got on better terms after that. He had opened my eyes to the fact that there was more to him than a fancy Admiral's name. I will never know how good a leader he might have been, though... because he died the next day."

"The man had to hold his own with you in a fight in order for you to change your mind about him?" he asked, almost amused by the notion.  He knew Grayson had been a skilled hand-to-hand fighter but to hold his own against Ida, who was naturally gifted and strong, was certainly impressive.  His loss would no doubt be felt greatly through the department and his skills would certainly be missed.

"He needed to prove himself in some way, at least. Show that he was more than he appeared to be before that," replied Ida dryly.

"What happened to him?" he asked, feeling there was more yet to tell.

In order to answer Cinn, Ida had to tell him about the Calamity ship first, and the Harbinger too. How the Theurgy had first made contact with the Akira-class ship outside the Hromi Cluster, and how both ships had been slow to trust even though they shared the conviction that Starfleet Command was not the same as it had been. What had made the two current allies cease hostilities was the word of the Temporal Affairs Officer that had stormed unto the Theurgy's Bridge and alerted them that there was another temporal incursion being made. This happened at the same time as an Yridian shuttle appeared on their sensors, yet when both starships and the launched Valkyrie attack fighters got there, it turned out to be an innocent civilian in the shuttle.

"One Rihen Neyah, who pursued our Warp trail just in order to plead having her large replicator repaired, one that we borrowed as we passed by Nimbus III to get spare parts. The Prime Directive compelled the engineer on site to break it again," she said in a cursory explanation before getting to the more relevant bit. "The enemy had meddled with time to arrange the trap at Niga, and now, they have sent a future starship back through time to hunt us and the Harbinger down. To destroy us as efficiently as possible. It is superior in all ways imaginable, and it has an upgraded version of Thea installed. In fact, she is all there is. There is only a holographic crew aboard the base ship and the Reaver attack fighters. Yet that is not all. Cala, as the Ship A.I. referred to herself, has a portable emitter. We learned this the hard way, at the cost of half the Senior Staff and several fallen comrades here in Security."

Ida fell silent there, her antennae lowering in simmering anger at the memory - face hard with contained emotions.

The revelation of a ship from the future sent back to destroy the two ships was hard-hitting, what was even worse was the idea of the holographic A.I. with a portable emitter.  Clearly this 'Cala' had been the cause of the loss of life on board but it was hard to imagine, knowing Thea as well as he did, that and A.I. would be capable of such carnage.  He looked at his Deputy's face, hiding the pain and anger the temporal incursion had caused.  The muscles in his jaw moved as he ground his teeth while he considered what she had told him.

"So we can assume that the enemy succeeded in the future if they are sending a ship back to try and take us out.  It does also mean that they are worried about what we are doing.  Fuck I hate temporal mechanics," Cinn grumbled.

"How the hell did they manage to sneak up like that... and how did Cala get on board?  What the hell happened?"

Ida's eyes returned to Cinn's, and she stood up from her seat, beginning to pace her office slowly as she explained - hands fists by her side. "The Yridian shuttle requested to dock with the Theurgy to escape the chaotic battle that began when the Calamity blindsided us. Cala must have seen the opportunity and beamed her portable emitter aboard the shuttle before it passed behind our shields. Commander Grayson was there first together with Ensign Ferik, as much we know. I received a broken off distress call from Grayson shortly afterwards, and when I got to the shuttle bay together with a fresh Cadet. They were all shot down with Marija Ferik's phaser rifle. Only Rihen Neyah survived of the three. The Cadet and I tried to locate the threat, proceeding through the bay with caution, but he did not listen to my orders. He opened fire at first sight before he even got behind some cover."

Cinn sighed sadly, being at war was never good for raw recruits.  He had seen so many of his fellow resistance fighters mown down or captured to be executed later because they had tried to play the action hero, thinking they were immortal.

"There was nothing you could have done.  You could not have gone in there alone and you made a hard decision but it was the right one," he said, still remembering the faces of those who had never returned from their first missions on Bajor. 

The image of Skye Carver's lover being shot to down from the control room by Cala flashed before Ida's eyes. "I know. Alone, I could not prevent the Ship A.I. from hacking into our systems. She killed the inertial dampeners. She almost managed to kill me too before she beamed herself to the Main Bridge. Even if we were in MVAM, there had been no time to spread the Senior Staff our on the Vectors."

As she walked her office, she listed the names of the fallen - including Adam Kingston and the new CTO. T'Less, Augarath Thenaljpar's second-in-command in Tactical. Yet she did not have the heart to tell Cinn about what had begun as a potential relationship between herself and the Vulcan.

So many names and so much loss.  Cinn sank in his chair and rested his chin on his fist, taking it all in.  He had missed so much and yet if he had been here would he also have been on the list of names Ida now reeled off having fallen at some other point in time instead?  It wasn't worth trying to think about in honesty, it would only create an array of 'what if?' situations and cause more heartache and a headache to boot.  It also wasn't the end of the story.

"It sounds as though she did a hell of a lot of damage in that time.  How did you get rid of her?" he lifted his head from his thinkers position to ask the question before rubbing his hand across his chin and waiting for the reply.

"In the end, she had to make a tactical retreat. She beamed back her emitter," said Ida, mind still upon what might have been with T'Less - endless and intimate painting sessions. Though she looked back to Cinn soon enough, steeling herself from visiting such thoughts. "An R&D Officer on the Harbinger got the idea to detonate the warpdrive of a shuttle in close proximity to one of the Calamity's vectors. Before that, the Lone Wolves and the Harbinger pilots whittled down the enemy's strange shields just enough to make the difference. T'Less and whoever was at Tactical on the Harbinger did what they could too. The Temporal Affairs Officer was a deciding factor too. It was a collective effort, and while we managed to drive her off back then, I am not in favour of the odds that we'll succeed once more if we face a similar situation."

Holo-enemies who could beam their emitters into unshielded places, cause carnage and beam back out again made this future ship issue a whole lot more complicated.  Cinn was used to enemies who bled, who would stop twitching with a phaser rifle blast to the chest.  This 'Cala' was a wholly different enemy and he wondered if working with Thea would give him some insight into stopping the rogue AI the next time.  Perhaps she could help build a training programme for the security department to work with so they would at least stand a chance.

Ida sat down in her chair again, one hand resting on the tabletop. "Captain Ives ordered the Lone Wolves to create a false warp trail away from the Hromi Cluster while the two starships set course for the Acamar System and Theta Eridani IV. We spent a week of repairs there, both ships working together to patch up as much as possible," she said and then told Cinn about Sonja Acreth - the informer that had been uncovered on the Harbinger. One of the things that they knew as the enemy. One of the impersonators. She had already told him about Acreth's existence in the Holding Cell, but now, she told Cinn about what had happened when the two COs of the starships headed down to the Brig with a large detail of Security and Medical personnel. How Dr. Nicander was about to die and she had acted on instinct, ordering the forcefield lowered.

"I did not know how fast she was, getting out of my sights quicker than the eye could follow her. I did not know how strong their kind was either, since she managed to wrench the Harbinger's CSec's handphaser up and kill her with a close proximity stun beam," the memories were too vivid. She had to pause. "Then she came after me. Tried to take my rifle. I held on with the bend of my knees and my raw fingers while she beat me. She was more animal than woman. Had I not held on..."

She did not want to think about what might have happened. "Lieutenant Vessery from the Harbinger was lighting the Brig with auto-fire beams. He managed to stun Acreth after shooting her repeatedly in the back. Dr. Nicander lived after being transported to the Triage Centre immediately, and no one died besides Dee - the Harbinger CSec. It could have been catastrophic, and I should not have taken the chance I did. It was a hard decision, and the COs were not in agreement about if I erred or not. I think I did, since two COs, XOs and all other present personnel... plus everyone Acreth could have killed after leaving the Brig, it does not make up for the life of one Chief Medical Officer, regardless how valuable he might be. I did not know the risk involved, and I should not have took the chance."

"One medical officer down in this situation could lead to a lot more deaths in the long term," Cinn rumbled thoughtfully, "We don't have the luxury of replacing people when they're lost right now.  I know you say she could have caused a lot more damage but I think in the circumstances you did the right thing.  After all, there is no point in thinking of what might have happened.  It didn't happen.  Move on."

In his words he tried to convey that Ida had been faced with a very tough situation and had made a judgement call, no matter what she thought the outcome could have been it had not happened.  There was no point in dwelling on a what-if situation, it just made you second guess yourself and doubt your judgements.  That, more than anything else, could cause serious repercussions later on when faced with another tough call.

Curling her closed lips, Ida felt that Cinn asked a lot from her, yet she could not technically object to his standpoint on the matter. He was correct, of course, yet that did not make it any easier. It felt good, however, that Cinn shared Captain Vasser's opinion on her actions that day.

"What finally got me demoted by Captain Ives," she said next, and unless he'd seen the black pip next to the golden one in her collar, he was bound to do so by then, "was that a hearing I held went out of hand. One of the Lone Wolves returned to us, an Ensign Carver, and after finding a minor discrepancy in her report from her time of being MIA, I wanted to ask a few questions. It appeared, however, that the Ensign had an affair with the Cadet that was killed in the shuttle bay, and she still holds me accountable for bringing him there. She was insubordinate, I reacted less calmly that I should have given all that has happened since you died... and we came to blows. Or rather, I punched her before taking her into custody. Fact was she had not answered my questions to a satisfactory degree, so I had reason to pursue the matter further, yet Captain Ives cleared up the misunderstanding... and demoted me as result of my accumulated errors in the line of duty. This was a couple of days ago."

"I see.  So you tried to bring her in to answer further questions and she disobeyed?  In the current circumstances I can see why you would take the safer option and strike first," Cinn knew the flyboys could get a bit up themselves and did sometimes need taking down a peg or two.  He also knew Jien couldn't just let the incident pass, not with everything else that had happened.

"Next time it might be better to simply restrain her.  Just to make sure this situation didn't happen again," he held up a hand, "I know what they can be like.  I also know that we still have to work with them.  I wouldn't worry about it too much, those flyboys can handle themselves just fine.  As for the demotion, you think you're the only one to have been kicked in the arse for being a bit too enthusiastic?  Maybe I'll tell you about the Resistance cell I was almost kicked out of some time."

He grinned, the demotion meant nothing to him.  All Cinn cared about was whether Ida could do her job and that was one thing he had never doubted.

Gradually, Ida's smile found its way to her blue countenance. "Perhaps I might, and point taken. I..." she paused and looked away for a moment, "I am gratified that you don't hold my errors against me. I feared that you would think me... deficient. Unfit to serve as Deputy. Your Deputy, now that you are about to go see Captain Ives. I have no doubt as to the fact that you will return here as Chief of Security. Perhaps even more so because of how he - or she - thinks I am unfit to serve in your stead."

"When the cause of the errors are mostly my fault I can hardly blame you and neither should anyone else," Cinn replied with a smile, "Don't worry, we'll get that deficiency of mine sorted, I plan to spend more time living so you are going to have to pick up my slack.  The next time I die I plan on it being permanent so I don't have to be shot by you again, this way you had better learn to be a Chief because otherwise I will be back to haunt your ass.  Understand me?"

Chuckling, Ida smiled to the Ridge-nose. "Perfectly, Chief. And good luck with your meeting with Ives."


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