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[2374] Eyes to the Future, Thoughts to the Past

[ Jordan Koilos | Bajor | Tozhat Province | Banks of the Great Lake ] Attn: @stardust
A gentle breeze rippled across the lake, creating subtle waves and rustling the trees in the early afternoon. The sun lazed across the sky cascading soft warmth down upon the planet’s surface. Clouds drifted across the heavens on invisible currents. The water around him was crystal clear despite the occupation of Bajor. So many beautiful places had been leveled in the Cardassian’s wake. Tozhat Province had been one of the few that had survived for the most part which is why the human had chosen it for their landing. Having been home to a Resettlement Center, it was heavily populated, which made a fine place for trade. He and Bjorn wanted to prep for an arduous journey, not knowing how long it would take them to find their first Borg target. They’d agreed to free as many of their fellow victims as they could, and with the knowledge they had retained, it was possible to go on the offensive. Yet given the events of today, perhaps they were merely mad for throwing themselves in opposition of the singular group that had hurt them both so thoroughly. Their best laid plans were already falling apart and all because Koilos couldn’t keep it together in the market. What the hell?

Jordan stood chest deep in the water, fingers running through his soaked hair and breathing deeply. He’d just come up from being submerged for the past few minutes after finding a relatively secluded little cove while walking along the lake’s shores. Four years. Four LONG years trapped on world that could have ate him in any number of ways. Literally and figuratively. He still couldn’t really socialize. In many ways he’d forgotten how. Or perhaps it was simply that crowds now scared him? Earlier Jordan had tried to walk amongst the people in the city, only to nearly have a full on panic attack. While traversing down the streets in the market, all the voices around him, he had a flashback: The voice of the collective, a presence that could only be the queen’s thoughts, the faces of drones that had been on that sphere, hell even thinking as if he was still Five of Eight. He hadn’t used that title in years. Yet even being apart of the collective for a short time had done its damage. It had been in those moments of distress that he had fled the city, taking one of the many trails outside in an attempt to escape. Probably looked like an insane man running from some asylum as he did so. He needed to be as far away from large groups of people as he could, and the less metal, the better. His legs could not carry him fast enough.

So when he found the cove an hour or so later, the thought of a swim to clear his head had been the only thing that could distract him from those memories. The trees around it provided ample cover from onlookers from afar, and he hadn’t seen a soul on his way here. A small stroke of luck but one that was gratifyingly welcome. He needed privacy right now. Time to collect himself. He threw his bag down against a larger set of rocks, stripping off the civilian clothes and laying them upon the stone’s surface. He left his underwear on, the fabric stretchy, and for many intents and purposes not unlike a swimsuit he’d used to wear back at the academy. It would do in place of proper swim attire. Hell, he even left his knife, something he kept on his person at all times, with his clothes. Right now, he needed escape and there was too much history linked to the tool to risk it. Every step into the cool but not terribly cold water, smooth stones under his feet, had been like a divine entity drawing his anxiety out from his chest, only to drag it away into some far-flung place under the waves.

Jordan even had considered calling Bjorn before he got in, just to have someone, perhaps the only someone, he trusted nearby. Bjorn was really and truly the only person who could understand. They’d been through hell together, and their friendship had been the only thing that had keep the now ex-borg sane. Both of them knew if it hadn’t been for each other, they’d probably be long dead by now. Bjorn would have died from his wounds without a doubt. Jordan would have probably committed suicide. Going from having the Collective rewrite you brain to need the safety of the group, to being practically alone had been torture. The, once more, human looked at his forearms, remembering the scars that had been there before the aliens had repaired his body.  He could vividly remember the hot flashes of pain before Bjorn had rushed in and stopped him on one particularly depressing night.

Another useless memory his former borg side thought. Dwelling on the past wouldn’t help him move on. Jordan breathed in the smell of the fresh water all around him. How had he let himself get this way? He thought he had come to terms with all of these events long ago. He’d talked them through, rationalized his decisions, berated himself for his mistakes, and vowed to do better. Bjorn, with his matter-of-fact logic from years in the collective had helped. But on his first outing in a city, he’d lost it. No. He couldn’t ask his friend for help this time. This time he needed to do it himself.  This time he had to figure out an equilibrium on his own. If he couldn’t, how could he accomplish anything? On that planet, it was life or death almost every day, and you really didn’t have time to think about much else. But here, where you don’t have to worry about things like finding food, or suffering from some unknown infection or poison, Koilos had time to think about the things that he’d done.

So many thoughts passed through his brain in that water. Reliving old trauma only to have his more rational self chastise him for falling prey to them. It was perhaps for this reason he had not noticed anyone approaching.

Re: [2374] Eyes to the Future, Thoughts to the Past

Reply #1
[ Lt. Foster | Banks of the Great Lake | Tozhat Province | Bajor | Grid E-7 ] Attn: @Argyros

Stretching out beneath him, a divine mirror, with the ethereal beauty of the sky and the landscape, duplicated in an almost perfect reflection, merely disturbed by the gentle motions and delicate palpitations of the water’s surface. The great lake was a sacred place, not only to the Bajorans, but to many off-worlders that came here. Stellan could easily see how. Its beauty was elysian perfection, like embellished tapestry on a temple wall. Each gentle flicker of light, reflected from cresting ripples, a pearl or a sequin, flittering in the gentle breeze. And in the light of such beauty, he could also very well understand why the Bajorans were such spiritual people. It was hard to account for such beauty in physical terms, tectonics and groundwater-levels. The porous basalt, that filtered the rain, coming down from the mountains, the scattered deposits of limestone, washed out to give the water a faint, turquoise hue, instead of it natural, chemistry determined deep blue. And even that could be explained away with absorption rates and light spectrums. The truth of the matter was, however, that sheer happenstance, for all these factors coming together in perfect measures, wasn’t nearly as gratifying an explanation as the tails of divine intervention, the monks along the lake road told everyone who cared to listen.

Stellan was by no means a religious man, or one of blind belief in unquantifiable phenomena, but he did enjoy a good story. Even more so he enjoyed the glee and utter peace, the monks exuded every time they got to tell it. It was the kind of personal peace he vied to possess, but alas, had not found the means to replicate. His dark eyes thus drifted over the soul-mirror in abject reverence. As delicate rings of disturbance, radiated from the small cove below, out into the near perfect representation of the world around and the endlessness above. The wind whispered in the trees, telling ancient secrets and tall tales of the history of the land, from the beginning of time until now. The gusts whistling through the rocks and cliffs, adding a siren’s song to the enigmatic chorus. Bringing with it the scent of pine’s and firs, at least their Bajoran counterparts, combining their olfactory allure with the freshness of the perceived smell of the translucent glimmer, spreading across the stones and sand beneath. Pulling in and away in an endless motion, relentless and stubborn, unwavering to man’s influence. He could imagine his feet planted firmly into the gravel, chilled wet lapping around his ankles, unfazed by his presence, if only reverberating some kind of acknowledgment through gentle ripples and subtle gurgles.

Ever since coming to Bajor, the young man had been confronted with the tortured spirits and strangled hopes of its people. A society marred by two consecutive occupations within a lifetime. First the Cardassians, who’d stayed for over fifty years, and then their return as the lackeys of the Dominion. Both times expelled by the gleaming light of Starfleet’s glory. Well, even the Bajorans he’d met that weren’t religious, at least believed in the more palpable salvation of the Federation. And at times, these two were quite at odds with one another. Those who believed in the divine creation, wholly gave themselves to the will of the prophets and their plans for these people. He could see the welcome refuge, in such hyperbolic scripts, every day. But whereas a delusion was clinically described as a mirage of the mind, indistinguishable from thought, religious belief was a conscious decision to indulge in a reality that didn’t exist outside the minds of those who believed in it. In its own fascinating capacity, the man was oftentimes overwhelmed with deciding where the one ended and the other began. But just as logic, was the refuge of the Vulcans, belief was that of these people, so the only holistic fashion of approach was the embrace. Using their religion as a guidepost to accustom them with the dark mementos of the past and the questions it produced.

Yet, in a moment such as this, Stellan found it hard to find the value in it all, when every ‘earthly’ quarrel paled in the eye of the persistent beauty that would outlast it all. But that was exactly the peace of mind the man sought out to find his own refuge in, away from the struggles and tribulations, that did not only define the lives of his patients, but very profoundly so, his own. He had come here more times than he could count. Morning, noon, evening, night. Witnessing the change in the mood and energy, with every tick of the clock, as the linear trail of their existence drew across the sky in the sun’s golden wake. It now kissed his skin with the warm comfort of an abstract sense of care and love he’d never known in his own life. Where familial interactions followed a much more calculated and totalitarian sentiment, even more so than a factual interpretation of divine creation could. It was why he did break everything down to its bare studs, examining the ghost in the machine, to draw conclusions for how it would affect him on an emotional level. Why he had practically spent the past fifteen minutes spiritually appraising the world around him, as he sat there, perched upon a limestone spire, his bottom limbs contorted in a pretzel, as slightly squinted eyes of obsidian black did not only reflect the specs of glimmer across the water’s surface but also the shadowy figure in the midst of it all.

He wondered how long it would take, until the other man would notice the officer, a few feet up above the cove, Starfleet attire powdered with dust. Sleeves rolled up and both zippers half undone, revealing a V-shape of sun kissed skin beneath teal pleads, glistening with the faint sense of solar indulgence. How long it would take until the mere sentiment would transition from sheer happenstance towards creepy intent. After all, he’d watched the whole scene unfold, from the staggering to the beach, the peeling from the very garbs he too was donning, the body sinking into a reflection of itself that grew shorter and shorter with each step, like a melting candle. Until a rim of giddy sparkles, shifting up and down the inch or so where gentle waves lapped around his torso. But no, he was not going to spend another fifteen minutes on internally debating the poetic lamentations of this man's almost nude physique too. Finding a small, flat pebble by his side, the man picked it up and flipped it with ease in a parable through the air and into the water, a few feet ahead of the man. Undoubtedly that would either elicit a revelation or the deep-rooted anxiety of something beneath the surface, that many people seemed to harbor in reference to water. And since his mantra was to mend psychological trauma, not create it (outside his immediate family), Stellan ruffled his vocal cords subsequently, in an effort clear not only the dry throat, but the air too.

“Don’t you just look like a picture.” he retorted with a subtle chuckle, conveying the abject seriousness of his judgment. “One small step for you … one giant leap for the Tozhat chamber of tourism.” Pulling his arms up, framing the man and the lake beyond, within his index fingers and thumbs, the dark haired man squinted one eye, to get a more two-dimensional representation of what he was looking at.

Re: [2374] Eyes to the Future, Thoughts to the Past

Reply #2
[ Jordan Koilos | Bajor | Tozhat Province | Banks of the Great Lake ] Attn: @@stardust
Clarity. The organization of his thoughts was what he needed right now. The rivers of his memories flowed forth, trickling, crossing, interweaving, cascading until they reached the lake that was his mind. The Dam that held these thoughts, which his abrupt recollection of traumatic memories had cracked, allowed for more than a gentle waterfall to spill forth into his conscious world. His head leaned back, face pointing up to the stars hidden by the daylight’s sapphire sky. Eyes drifting closed, the sun’s gentle rays of light altering his escape of black to shades of grey and shadows of white. Lungs filled to capacity, pulling in the soft scents of trees, stone, and water. His knees slowly stopped supporting his weight causing him to lean back and slip below the surface.

There, the world around him drifted away, his body seemingly weightless, surrounded on all sides. A blessed nothingness that had his racing heart slow to a gentle gallop. He’d taken to this kind of self-designed aquatic therapy sometime during the early days of his second year stranded. Given the environment, Bjorn was usually right there watching over him, but here on Bajor, the human thought he’d be safe enough to try it. Or perhaps he was desperate for an escape that had worked for him in the past. Both were acceptable. There, behind closed eyelids, each imaginary string of memories and thoughts became visible in his mind’s eye. Though tangled like a ball of yarn, Jordan was finally able to focus solely on what was bothering him the most. His anxiety had a form now, and one that could be unraveled given time.

A mere two minutes had passed since his submersion but it felt like ages. His lungs weren’t even burning for air thanks to some of his remaining implants but sadly, ever so unfortunately, he couldn’t stay down there forever. Sea green eyes open, looking up at the columns of pure light breaking through the lake’s reflective surface. Tiny bubbles escaped his nose, dancing their little jig to the surface in a funny little congo line. Smiling he rose, the tension of the water resisting, pleading for him to stay down until it finally relented and he broke through. He breathed again as the liquid hydrogen and oxygen molecules slipped off his skin to rejoin the others.

Just as he was banishing the tangible peace from his eyes something splashed, rather loudly and very closely, to his left. Panic swelled for a moment at the surprise, Jordan’s head whipping around in the direction of the sound. A stone, roughly round, relatively smooth, and thin drifted towards the lakebed, swaying from side to side as it tumbled end over end like some tiny acrobat.

Jordan’s ocular implant immediately into gear, calculating and displaying the most probable path the pebble came from. He traced the various shades of holographic green and Borg glyphs back to their source. Humanoid. Male. Starfleet Uniform, blue undershirt. Maybe two meters tall but hard to tell since he was sitting.  Some sort of perverse voyeur? How long had be sitting up there, perched like some strange bird? Jordan ran a quick diagnostic. All his implants came back at 100% operational. So why had he not seen the man on his approach? The answer lay in how dirty his clothes were. With the amount of dust, dirt, and stone particulates on him, his onlooker had been flagged as simply part of the scenery. The former Borg made a mental note to adjust the algorithms as soon as he was alone.

”I’m sure the place could use something new to look at. Too bad they’d have to visit the artist in a Federation brig if he dared hang such a picture.” Koilos was far from amused. Even less so at the idea from some random person. Who the hell was this clown? The human slowly walked out of the lake, keeping one eye on the man. He went directly to his clothes, pulling a small towel out of his bag and using it to begin drying off. It wasn’t about being shy, Jordan had no such issues. But here, next to where his clothes lay, was his knife. He would have preferred a phaser, but his onlooker was well within throwing distance. Starfleet officers weren’t know for being dangerous without cause, but four years on a world that had tried to swallow him more than once made the man rather nervous. Assume everything was some sort of trap and you’d rarely fall for one. 

Re: [2374] Eyes to the Future, Thoughts to the Past

Reply #3
[ Lt. Foster | Banks of the Great Lake | Tozhat Province | Bajor | Grid E-7 ] Attn: @Argyros

Being in the right was a subjective concept, like the mirror of this glistening lake, having a reflection of the world above, as it had one of that below. You would not understand the ambiguity of it, until you’ve broken through the surface for a gasp of air, or beneath it for a taste of unconquerable territories. This tranquil cove had been his for the better part of an hour, as the shadows of the trees ticked across the stones and pebbles like the digits on a clock. He had witnessed the water come and go with each wave more times than a person could count. Had seen the small sputters and splashes of fish, nabbing insects from the perfect mirror’s surface, the edge of their world. Had of course seen the tall man encroach on said territory, disrobe, and disrupting the reflections of the world around them, by adding that of himself. A world that, to him, had been secluded and solitary, his own to possess, it became his reality, as his odor mixed with the calm drift of pine scents, dancing across the clear water. But it had not been.

But he understood the perception, as feelings of surprise, contempt and even anger, wafted back his way, like a strong breeze. It made him smile, gently, like the gentle curve of the waterline, in their little cove. The comment made him chuckle, even before the soundwaves had reached him, the conception of words in the man’s mind alone, traveling at speeds superseding that of sound. But the reverberation of the man’s baritone, against the subtle noises of bubbling water and chirping birds, was a nice surprise. Something he could not have anticipated or deducted, from his hidden skills and talents. “Oh …” he replied, in a reassuring measure. “… hung, it will be.” A double-entendre, not unnatural to be flung back by the dark-eyed man. A small crease forming into a handsome dimple, on his right cheek, as the corner of his mouth rose towards it. After all, the fabric of the man’s Starfleet issue underwear, not intended for use in bodies of water, clung to the details of his physique more closely than a designated bathing suit would have, leaving little to naught up to imagination. He didn’t think it was perverse to look at something that was so clearly visible to see, as much as he didn’t think it to be intrusive to read thoughts that were so obvious to sense.

He followed the physical motions of the man intently, as much as his emotional ones. But only felt a thick haze ... intriguing. Even more so since it seemed like he had a knife there with him. An odd choice for a tranquil bay so close to civilization, on a planet as peaceful as Bajor. He understood that it was more a token of habit, than consideration, even if in this very moment, both sentiments were interchangeable. He clearly thought he needed it. Against another Starfleet officer, no less. Curious. There was something connected to that sentiment. Like the chain of an anchor, into the dark abyss of an ocean, fixed to the ground so he could never drift away from it. Old daemons, as they were. He had seen many of these afflictions in his work, his studies, his observations of people. That only made the whole thing – pardon, the whole man – even more intriguing.

“I guess that - aside of my uniform, my friendly looks and benevolent spirit - you have no reason to believe that there’s nothing you have to worry about. But seriously, if I meant to do you harm, I would've done it while you were in the water … much easier to dispose of your body that way.” he related light-heartedly, obviously intent of too making light of the situation, in the process. “I am Stellan.” he raised his hand lightly in an attempted wave. “Some cultures consider the relation of one’s first name as a token of good intentions. Even the Borg … so, what’s your designation?”


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