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EPIL: S [D06|1145] Rewards of Hope

[ Commander Carrigan Trent | Transporter Room 2 | Deck 05 | USS Theurgy | 1145 hrs ] attn: @Triage and any other who may wish to attend

Calming down Ensign Tancredi had been no mean feat, but she had been convinced to release Crewman Swanson.  But she was not well.  Her eyes had lost focus, and all she would say was the standard name-rank-service number litany any Starfleet personnel was trained to give out when captured by hostile forces whenever asked for information.  But, she was not fighting, not anymore; in fact, one might say the fight had been thoroughly kicked out of her, and Commander Trent remained with her until a casualty clearing party could make its way to the hangar deck, where they took charge of her.

Which, frankly, led the man to his own devices, again.  And he certainly knew better than to take up space in the hangar, where the activity was beyond frantic.  At least, he had been out of the way the whole time, and he did not have to be told to vacate the deck and give the ground crew and pilots space to work.

But no sooner had he left the hangar that his combadge chirped. "Commander Trent, Sir, this is Warrant Officer Mutabe in Transporter Room Two.  We have a bit of a situation here."

That was definitely unexpected.  So far as he knew, Carrigan was still without official functions on the ship, and that he be contacted to deal with something was certainly a surprise.  But then again, the ship was in chaos, and it was entirely possible that no one had the chance to inform him he would be needed to troubleshoot anything yet.  "Trent here, please elaborate?"

"Sir, there is someone here who is terrified of letting anyone near her, and she has been asking for you by name."  The words struck the man like a hammer.  His heartbeat picked up and his breath quickened.  Could it be his prayers, the first he'd uttered in many, many years, had been answered?  "I'm on my way," was the answer he had given.  Part of him had considered ordering Mutabe to beam him over, but given the post-battle tasks that would need to be performed and the need to move casualties, he did not want to tie up any transporter capability.  Part of him had dreaded a long climb to Deck 5, but, it would seem that turbolifts were operational again. 

It was with a purpose that Trent covered the distance, and entering the Transporter Room, the ebony-skinned operator pointed towards a corner of the pad where a form was huddled.  She was small and lithe, clad in the same kind of suits the humanoid Savi had been wearing when they boarded the vessel, much too large for her and tattered and stained, contributing to make the wearer look even more fragile. 

The wearer was a young woman with tousled blonde hair, whose face was buried in her arms as she shivered and shook against the bulkhead, and he approached her, slowly and deliberately.  Not so long ago, he would have stood at a distance and spoken to her from there, but there was this nagging feeling at the back of his mind that he indeed wanted to be closer, and he crouched down, just outside of arm's reach, his weight on the balls of his feet and his backside a little over his heels.  "I hear you have been asking for me?"

Re: EPIL: S [D06|1145] Rewards of Hope

Reply #1
[ PWO Heather McMillan |  Transporter Room 2 | Deck 05 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet
Alternating between unresponsive catatonia and yelps or shrieks of panic when she suddenly noticed unfamiliar faces and hands trying to touch her, Heather had made herself quite a nuisance and immovable for concerns as to her exact state. Futhermore, the damage to her suit seemed to hint she might be suffering from injuries, though none could be seen from a visual inspection, neither were there any actual damage. But because she panicked whenever she saw a tricorder coming near her, and since Nathaniel or anyone she recognized was gone - at the least, the immediate people she became reacquainted with on the Versant - she wasn't willing to cooperate with these strangers.

She also began to bend light, sometimes turning invisible, before quickly reappearing, and a name came back to her, a name she remembered being important, TRENT! she shouted. CARRIGAN! Where's Carrigan Trent?!?

When one of the officers in the room tried to approach her, she coiled up protectively, hugging her knees tightly against herself, huddling against the corner, AAAHH!

They stopped trying to approach her now that she'd given a name. It was something to start with at least.

She was left alone until a man approached. She didn't look at him until he spoke. His voice triggered memories, feelings, and sensations. Pleasure, joy, love. She blinked, and looked up at him with brilliant purple eyes. There was a hint of light beginning to shine around her hair tips. Pure white light, and her eyes became brighter, literally. T-T-Trent? C-Carrigan?

Her voice was almost child-like, inquisitive, afraid, as if scarcely daring to believe what she saw was real. And she realized how she must look to him in comparison. He looked at her without recognition. Unable to refrain, she reached out, crossing the distance between them to be closer, enough for her to caress his face with both hands, I-i-it's me...H-Heather...It's me....

She looked at him with a desperate fear and longing. Her head had a halo of white light around it.

Re: EPIL: S [D06|1145] Rewards of Hope

Reply #2
[ Commander Carrigan Trent | Transporter Room 2 | Deck 05 | USS Theurgy | 1145 hrs ] attn: @Triage

From behind the woman's arms, purples eyes peeked out.  Who was this woman who had asked for him by name?  Why had she refused any help?  And why was he seeing what could only be recognition in that terrified gaze?  And if he did not know any better, he could swear  could see them light up, just like her hair, as she worked her way through saying his name as though he was a question with a voice that was trembling with uncertainty and doubt. 

Who was she?  How did she know of him in the first place?  Why did she want to see him?  So many questions that needed to be answered.  And, just as the hopes he had built up that he would find his love again in his room began to collapse, she reached for him and delicate hands landed on his recently shaven cheeks and every word she stuttered struck him with a violence that rattled his very soul. 

At first, for a mere fraction of a heartbeat, he did not believe it, but he felt, this stranger's hands, and he knew this gentle touch. 

And then, he saw.

The woman before him was a little shorter than Heather had been, and while it was hard to tell under that oversized jumpsuit she wore, but her figure seemed a little fuller;  it was a stranger's muscles attached to a stranger's bones under a stranger's skin but those expressions were the same ones he had cherished; in different eyes, he saw the same light and feelings he loved so well.  And even though it was an alien throat that shaped a voice of a different tone, the accent and delivery were the same ones he adored.  He had always been the pragmatic sort, and until very recently no one could ever had ascribed the label of sentimental to him.  And where once he would have instantly discounted that old saw as being overly romantic claptrap but he had now experienced the truth of it: it was Heather, and he would know her anywhere and in any guise.

"Heather?"  He did not even hear himself say breathe her name, the blood was pounding so hard in his ears.  If he'd not seen her eyes, he would never have known if he'd truly spoken aloud.  "Oh Heather!" From where he was hunkered down, he rolled forward.  He did not feel the pain of his knee of flesh and blood striking the deck; he did not hear nor feel it as his prosthetic one tore through the fabric of his pants.  His hand of flesh and blood reached for her cheek, trembling all the way as his arm of steel and composites went around her slender frame to pull her to him as he leaned his head forward to rest it against her. 

His vision was blurry, but no amount of blinking was enough to clear the tears that clouded them and streamed freely down his gaunt face.  And right then and there, within the transporter room, he let his iron control fully slip the leash and he sobbed openly in his joy and relief.

Re: EPIL: S [D06|1145] Rewards of Hope

Reply #3
[ PWO Heather McMillan |  Transporter Room 2 | Deck 05 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet
She was afraid for a moment, that her mind was getting jumbled up again, that she was going completely yumpy. She sought recognition in those eyes, of the man she loved. Doubt nearly crippled her once more, but then, his reaction, when he did show recognition at her, despite the changes. She had caught her own reflection, where she couldn't remember, but she could not recognize her own features. Her own parents (were they still alive?) would likely turn invisible as soon as see her. But for the moment...

She felt her own knees buckle and she sort of collapsed against him as much as he gripped her to himself. She almost instinctively flinched, fearing that his grip would crush the air out of her body, but she...she didn't. She wasn't dying from that tight hold, and it actually felt nice. She leaned her head against him, smiling for the first time in a while. She was where she needed to be. She wrapped her arms around him, delicate, yet with more strength than she had ever had before. It made her both glad, and afraid. Just how strong had she become? Nevermind that for now...

Without realizing it, her body began to manifest an ethereal glow, and the aura of light around her head and her eyes shone brightly, yet without the force she was once capable of pushing out when she lost control. Here, it was bright enough to be impossible to ignore, but dim enough that no one had to squint at her. I'm here, she said in a whisper, I'm here, Carrigan...and I'm not going anywhere.

No, she was not going anywhere. She needed time to remember everything. But as long as she had him, she could take the time she needed to recover everything else.

Re: EPIL: S [D06|1145] Rewards of Hope

Reply #4
[ Commander Carrigan Trent | Transporter Room 2 | Deck 05 | USS Theurgy | 1145 hrs ] attn: @Triage

When he felt Heather fall towards him and his embrace, fear stabbed through Carrigan Trent's heart.  Such a shock might be too hard for her!  But there was no cry of pain; there was no rush of air from her lungs.  Instead, her mass settled against his own, warm and pliable.  A mass that was greater than what it had been before she had left for that away mission what felt several lifetimes past.  And the woman under his hands felt far more substantial, far tougher, than who she had once been.  And her own arms, slender and delicate, wrapped about him and pulled him into her with more strength than he'd ever known her to possess. 

What happened on that hell-ship?  What had they done to her?  Right now, that mattered far less than the fact that she was here, they were in each others' arms.

He did not know how long he wept.  But when he looked up, Carrigan Trent was beyond exhausted.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.  But he was now unburdened as the weight of the fear of losing Heather McMillan had been lifted off of him, and as he blinked away the tears, he realized that for the first time in what was only really a handful of days but felt like ages, visions of horror did not dance before him when he closed his eyes. 

As his vision cleared, he looked upon Heather's face.  Her features were finer, more delicate than they had been before, and she was even smaller, but she felt so much stronger, so much more solid to him.  And her light?  Her face spoke of impossible joy, yet her glow was... less than he remembered.  Tenderly, he ran his fingers through her hair, and rather than float in a corona of light, it fell back down; lighter than human hair, but far heavier than it had once been.  But that was besides the point.

"I..."  That was all he could manage to say at the time.  The words would not come out.  But something else did, though, and he leaned forward to press his head against hers, basking in her warm presence. But then, he whispered. "All that's kept me going was the hope you were still alive."

Re: EPIL: S [D06|1145] Rewards of Hope

Reply #5
[ PWO Heather McMillan |  Transporter Room 2 | Deck 05 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet
It was a myriad, and Heather could barely weather it all. Both she and Carrigan were oblivious to the presence of anyone else. She was glad to have hold of something familiar, even if from a detached point of view. She still felt like everything she was experiencing now, was experienced firsthand by someone else, and now she was merely a passenger along for the ride drawing from the memories of history lessons. It was a strange way to view or consider it, but that was the closest and most accurate way she could consider it.

But she felt Carrigan's emotions, saw the raw expressions, felt every sob that wracked his body. It was surreal having a god cry over her, for her. But that was the truth wasn't it? He truly felt that way, or felt so for her. And...she...did too...

She gave him a weak smile when he told her what sustained him the whole time that they had been separated. And she took hold of both of his hands, the one of flesh, and the one that wasn't. She did not know what else to say, but exactly how she felt, I am glad you c-came to no harm...and... she looked up at him, I did die...but one of the gods on that ship...brought...brought me back.

The light around her body began to dim, I need to rest...or I'm going to faint right here...

Re: EPIL: S [D06|1145] Rewards of Hope

Reply #6

[ Commander Carrigan TrentPWO Heather McMillan | Transporter Room 2 | Deck 05 | USS Theurgy | 1145 hrs ]

Heather's smile, while exhaustion made it a ghost of what he had grown accustomed to seeing, was a welcome sight; she looked like death warmed over, but here she was.  Everything would be all right in the end now that he was armed with that knowledge.  When she took his hands with a strength she had never possessed before, he wondered once more what had been done to her within the belly of that monstrosity of a starship, what those Savi had done to her to change her so. 

And then she told him, and it felt as though his heart had become a cold, lifeless chunk of stone in his chest.  She had died?  How many times had he seen this in his nightmares?  There was no numbers to the horrors he had seen inflicted on her behind his closed lids, and he just learned they had not all been but nightmares.  But how hung on the edge of his thoughts, and before he could speak, she continued on.  She was brought back?  How?  There were so many questions, but one thing was for certain, it was no god, corporeal or otherwise that had hurt her.  There had been none of those on the crew of Versant.  But demons?  Sensors did say there were about fifty thousand of them. 

And again, his thoughts were interrupted by her voice, stating her exhaustion.  Well, he need not be told twice at this point.  Freeing his hands from hers, he tenderly gathered her in his arms and he rose to his feet, carrying her.  The mass he lifted was considerably more than he remembered, but another thought flashed in his mind, unbidden.  She is not heavy, she's the woman I love. 

"Warrant Officer, do you have the capability to see us to our quarters?"  And from his position, Mutabe gave a single nod.  "Aye Sir, stand by."  Perhaps it was not the best use of the transporter at this time, but his board was clear and there were no calls for him to move anyone else at this time. 

The beaming had been a quick process, as it always was when things worked properly, and both Heather and Carrigan found themselves in the familiar confines of the quarters they'd started to share the day before she had gone on that Away Mission, the day she had been taken from him.  The suite had been painfully empty without Heather's presence, and the only reason he had wanted to come back there from the secured quarters he'd been locked in was to at least be somewhere familiar, even if it was not truly home without her. 

Walking steadily, he carried her to the bed where he gently laid her down. 

She was quite literally asleep in his arms, and flopped listlessly to the bed, staying exactly as she was left, still wearing that grissly uniform, torn in places that were definitely fatal. Whoever wore it had far less luck than she. A mumble and a faint glow of light was her indication she was all right.

When the call came from Thea that he had been summoned to the Captain's Ready Room, Trent had been glad he had taken the time to shower before he laid himself down next to Heather.  He was not in any particular hurry to leave her, but he also knew better than to let Jien Ives wait too long for him.  He wasted little time in putting on a uniform, and before he left, he prepared a PADD and left a simple note on it, stating he would be back as soon as he could, and left it propped on the nightstand where Heather would find it, and he pressed a gentle kiss to her temple before leaving.

When he returned, it was a far more subdued Carrigan Trent who came back.  There was anger, rage even, that nothing he had to say for his own defence had mattered.  He had fought a battle against incredible odds and was going to survive it through guile, skill and his understanding of his enemy until it had been ripped from him; he had been chastised because he did not consider fighting the Borg to be wise, a battle that would not have been survived had Versant never arrived.  He had been stripped of position, and rank, and put to pasture until further notice.  Though that was a relief, in its own way.  For his own exhaustion had caught up with him, at long last.

Silently, he removed his uniform and put himself in a pair of comfortable pajama trousers and nothing else and headed back for his bed, where he curled himself up to Heather and draped a protective arm over her. 

She was there. She was alive.  That alone made everything he'd endured worthwhile.

She stiffened for a moment in his touch, indicating she was only sleeping lightly, but very quickly yielded and relaxed once more, apparently remembering it would be him, and was soon asleep, her breathing shallow.

Of course Carrigan noticed how she had reacted to his presence, and as her body eased against his, her warmth and the regular rhythm of her breathing lured him towards sleep.  And for the first time in what felt a lifetime, he was not afraid to close his eyes.


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