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Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

[ Ens. Cameron Henshaw | Arboretum | Deck 21 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan
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It couldn't be avoided forever, she knew. Cameron thought that going three days without saying anything beyond customary greetings or announcing people who were coming to speak to the Captain was something of a feat, considering their proximity and the nature of her duties as the Captain's Yeoman. They'd managed to avoid any meaningful conversations, really, and that was both the problem and for a time, the solution. But now, now there was really no choice, and the diminutive young woman found herself seeking Jien Ives to address an extremely serious matter resulting from yesterday's debacle.

As the turbolift brought her that much closer to hir, Cameron fidgeted unnecessarily with her uniform and skirt, as if it were out of place, anything to occupy her hands and her mind, to delay thinking of everything, even for a moment. She found drowning her sorrows didn't quite work out for her, and neither did throwing herself into someone else's arms, or nearly doing so at least. It wasn't lost on her how he didn't seek to speak to her either. There had been times...opportunities. Her sister, her adoptive father, the crew of the Harbinger, those that were lost during the entire sequence of events. She began to shield herself from the overwhelming losses by keeping herself occupied at all times. Drink, sex, work, whatever was easiest and most available.

The doors opened, and she stepped out, making a beeline towards the Arboretum, where Thea reported Jien Ives was at the moment. It likely weighed on hir mind too, Cameron mused privately. But why did it have to involve Cameron losing everything? She didn't exactly feel anger or hatred, but she certainly didn't know what she was feeling as she entered, and found the captain before a pond. Taking a deep breath, she did her best to clear her mind before approaching the Chameloid. “Captain,” said Cameron, her tone betraying almost nothing, “I'm sorry for intruding on your free time, but we have an urgent matter to go over.”

She avoided making eye contact, looking slightly past hir, or below the eyes.

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #1
Captain's Log, Supplemental. I have never enjoyed demoting and replacing a senior staff member, and especially in a time like this, when the crew seek stability and order after - what many think - was a devastating defeat.

Yet given the short-sighted neglect and misconduct of Hayden O'Connor, where she did not remove Doctor Maya from duty, I had no choice. Her failure to follow regulations indirectly led to Sonja Acreth escaping the Brig during the battle, and having served as a Counselor for years, I do not think I am being too harsh in my decision. I can but hope that Ejek, from the Resolve, can do better, despite the challenges of this mission.

- Captain Jien Ives, Commanding Officer, USS Theurgy

[ Captain Jien Ives | Arboretum | Deck 21 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Triage
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After finishing his log entry, Captain Jien Ives put his PADD aside and sat quietly by the pond in the middle of the Arboretum. He felt numb.

It seemed like there were few fortunate prospects ahead, even though there were still opportunity in what Jona Rez had done. Still, until Ed- Amelya Rez woke up, the joining of the symbiont successful but there being no sign of the host recovering from the surgery yet, they only had one name. One individual that would have been able to decrypt the Simulcast. Elim Garak, the Cardassian ambassador on Earth.

Going to Earth under the present circumstances weren't... ideal, but as soon as they were able to leave the Nebula, they might find some way to reach the man, and see if he could carry their torch for them. And in order to do that, they had to replace their dilithium crystals. The away mission to the Coreless Moon was underway, and aside from the crystals sorely needed, Ives had no idea if if the second objective had any chances of success. Deputy zh'Wann would personally oversee the attempt to reach out to Chancellor Martok, and with Jien's faith in the Andorian restored, he hoped she would be successful in persuading the Imperial Intelligence operative to be compliant. He simply had to wait and see.

His ruminations there by the pond, having unzipped the collar of his undershirt, sequenced away his shoes and socks, and hiked up both sleeves and trousers, were brought to an end when he noticed a figure approaching through the undergrowth. It was Cam, which was another source of regret, since the unsaid between them grew larger and darker every day. It was also tinged with Cameron ceasing her intimate advances, which she’d made for the sake of helping him. It didn't project upon their duties, he believed,

Yet the past couple of days, after her shifts came to an end? Jien hoped that he wouldn't get any more reports about her off duty conduct. It was becoming harder to not speak of what he learned, even though he wanted her to process it all in her own fashion. She seemed as much in need of distraction as he did.

What she said made it clear that the brief respite he'd found by the pond had come to an end.

"I was about to leave anyway," he said, remaining seated and looking into the water. "Please, go on, what is this urgent matter?"

Given recent events, what wasn't and urgent matter?

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #2
[ Ens. Cameron Henshaw | Arboretum | Deck 21 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan
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The young woman honestly didn't believe Jien Ives really was about to leave, if she knew the Chameloid at all in the time they'd spent together. Despite the standards that some might have held him to, Cameron knew even he had his limits, and the strain of everything that had transpired thus far, surely weighed more heavily on his shoulders than most could even truly begin to imagine. Cameron believed she knew, to an extent, having suffered at the least, grievous and voluminous losses enough to rival the captain. She had lost virtually her entire family. Part of her wanted to point the finger at the captain, but the more rational part of her knew it was inevitable one way or another. Ian Hawthorne was infected, for who knew how long? Her sister, Ian's biological daughter, died as a result of Calamity, who was hunting the Harbinger, and thus killing or harming the crew of the Theurgy simply due to their proximity to Declan's ship and crew.

No, Jien Ives was not to blame, and besides, he had enough on his plate to deal with, the last thing he needed was to have an angry, vengeful and resentful Yeoman on his hands. Very little escaped his notice, so Cameron surmised that the captain was just resigned to getting to latest problem.

Keeping these thoughts and discoveries to herself, the young woman simply stepped forward and presented the PADD in her hand to him, “I've finished going over the reports provided first by Junior Lieutenant Zeshryr, then Junior Lieutenant O'Riley this morning, about the Protomatter and the material to make a dirty bomb.” said Cameron, barely hiding a slight quaver in her voice as she thought again about how close they were to mortal peril if the Cult of Morali had succeeded in constructing the bomb, “It was a good thing Zeshryr was such a thorough person in even matters better left to a quartermaster, or we'd have missed that incorrectly labeled supply crate, and the Cult would've had themselves one very powerful - if unstable - weapon of mass destruction. O'Riley had offered to put her nose to the ground to sniff out anymore hidden surprises that might still be lingering around, in her former capacity as a Security officer even while continuing her duties in Engineering.”

Cameron didn't miss how the Bringloidi woman seemed almost desperate in her offer, like ensuring the safety of the crew, or more importantly, the captain, was her sole life's goal. It was borderline obssession. The Yeoman would know, considering her own hero worship of Jien Ives, which while presently dampened in light of recent events, was not quite truly diminished in the least. “She seemed very concerned about the whole thing, but I can't say she might be wrong or that it won't hurt to let her try what she offered. You and Thea have enough to deal with as is, so perhaps having some people keeping an eye out might be good...? Also, do you want to keep the protomatter? Per the report by Zeshryr, it's somewhat weakened and diluted with other material that made it less potent than a concentrated version. Still dangerous, but perhaps useful for...well, for something, I suppose.”

She clasped her hands behind her and looked up expectantly at him. Damn, he looks so handsome. she thought.

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #3
[ Captain Jien Ives | Arboretum | Deck 21 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Triage
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In quietude, Captain Ives listened to Cam while she spoke of Zehryr's and O'Riley's efforts, and how they had forestalled what the Devoted had planned - whatever it might have been.

He glanced up towards the Ensign now and again as she spoke, while his thoughts were on what was most prudent given the development. Unable to help it, he might have thought about how pleasing Cam's physical form looked in the simulated sunlight too, but it was but a fleeting notion of a Chameloid, the permanent forms of the individuals around him fascinating in their solid and unchangeable heritage. The fact that Cameron had offered him distraction before, several times and when he sorely needed it, had a lot less to do with it than she might have thought. Then again, Ives doubted she'd make any such advances again, given the reason for the unsaid that presided between them. Like an invisible wall, Ives had ended up causing her a lot of suffering.

Furthermore, the last time she did it - before Starbase 84 - he might even have scared her. Therefore, whatever compelled her before was moot, and the notion a mere distraction from the grave matters at hand.

"Please ask O'Riley to coordinate with Wenn Cinn if she's about to carry out security duties alongside her re-integration into Engineering. I know she served in Security on the Resolve, but the repairs of the ship is our highest priority," he said quietly, looking back towards the pond. He did suppose that O'Riley, in her devout mindset and willingness to aid the crew, was ideal for the task, especially given the fact that she had experience in Security as well. "If Wenn Cinn's people knows what she's doing, and she can manage her time between her duties to O'Connell and this investigation, then I see no problem with her continuing what she's doing."

He paused, thinking about the other question. This bomb, and what to do with it, now that it was in their care. "Store it in a torpedo casing, and have one of the Black Opal people take a look at it. With their experience in weapons research, some of it conducted on that base, perhaps they know best how to utilise it. I think there was a former tactical officer serving as the Executive Officer on the Black Opal - Lieutenant Masuda Yukimura. He might take on the protomatter and see how it might be best handled."

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #4
[ Ens. Cameron Henshaw | Arboretum | Deck 21 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan
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The two were seemingly sizing each other up as they spoke. Cameron's years as a counselor and being a close study of psychology and body language, she knew more or less what was going on between the two of them. Memories of the intimacy shared in the days before the attack on Starbase 84 replayed itself in her mind unbidden. Despite all that transpired, despite all the pain and sorrow, Cameron had set them aside, because Jien Ives was oftentimes closer to breaking than so many would ever realize, and it was best kept that way. The less people that knew, the better. He'd lost it when he spoke about the timelines, and how things were spiralling out of his control. His frustrations boiled to the surface then. How close was he to another breakdown like that?

Starbase 84 was nothing short of a disaster, and they intergrated the crew from yet another bunch of starships. The onrush of new crew brought its own host of challenges and problems. Troublemakers and saboteurs could easily slip into the mix and cause no end of trouble. Which was why she thought finding trustworthy individuals and friends to help guard against such things as the Yeoman considered to be a threat to the ship and her captain. Her captain. Jien. Despite herself, any feelings of animosity or resentment were already fading, as she reminded herself of who it was she served, and who she loved, more than she would ever admit aloud. It helped her to renew her resolve on what she promised both him and herself. For as long as she lived.

In the split seconds as it took for her to process these thoughts and her renewed resolution, Cameron nodded at Jien's instructions, making notes and entries in her PADD. “I'll let her know.” said Cameron, in regards to Sinead coordinating with both security and engineering. The woman was a multitude of talents and abilities, it seemed. “Lieutenant Yukimura, okay,” she made note for special care in the handling of the material. It was one of the most volatile exposives she had ever heard of or seen. The last thing they needed was to accidentally finish the job intended by the Cult. “Thank you. I'll have this taken care of.” she gave him the barest hints of a smile, and lowered her head, making as if to turn and leave, when she paused.

Was this how it was going to be from now on? Was this the new norm between them?

Could she live with that? Knowing that she could do more? Or that the ignored potential of Jien Ives having no available outlet...? She couldn't even begin to let herself imagine that.

Turning her head and lifting her chin to stare up at him, she parted her lips, but the words didn't come out right away, instead, letting a pregnant pause grow a bit. “No one could have known how that would have turned out,” said Cameron, “what happened on the Starbase.” She turned her body to face him fully, head tilting to one side, her face unreadable, but the sorrow in her eyes visible, “I...I don't blame you. I just wanted you to know that.” Bringing those thoughts right to the surface hurt her more than she thought, as she felt that painful wrench in her chest, and a sudden difficulty in breathing made her have almost-hiccups, as she failed to hold her composure. She brought it up, now she would see it to the end.

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #5
[ Captain Jien Ives | Arboretum | Deck 21 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Triage
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When the issue was concluded, and Cameron had acknowledged the orders and made her notes, Jien had expected her to just walk away.

Yet she stayed, lingering with her back to him, and it made him turn his head to look at her. Gradually, it became evident that she had more to say, but since Jien thought she still blamed him for what had happened - the thing unsaid - he thought she was about to make the announcement that she'd resign her position as Yeoman. It was, actually, what Jien had expected her to do right after what happened. And yet she had stayed, preforming her duties, and he'd come to think that it was merely her soldiering on despite the loathing she harboured towards him. By his orders, he'd made her take advantage of her family bond to the CO of the starbase, and this had not sat well with Cam to begin with, and when it was revealed that her adoptive father had become Infested, he'd thought she'd blame her. Especially after reading the reports, which detailed how that host had held her hostage and said vile things. That host had revealed how her adoptive mother had been raped and killed that same day. It made for difficult reading, even if the boarding team had stopped anything from happening.

What had happened, however, was that the host had pulled the trigger on that phaser, holding it to her temple, and only because of the anti-nadion charge that had permeated the command center had Cam's life been spared - the particles rendering all present phaser weaponry useless for a short duration of time.

No, instead, Cam turned around and said she forgave him, or better yet, that she did not hold him to blame for what she'd experienced. Of course, Jien knew that it was more to it. The loss of Ian and Trish Hawthorne was hardly her first. Her half-sister had met her end on Theta Eridani IV. That loss, however, might and mightn't have been prevented, if Cameron hadn't followed Jien's orders, and gone to her sister instead. This was something, however, that they had already processed in the days following that event. Jien's fear had been, of course, that it had remained a barely healed wound.

"Thank you," he said quietly, looking at her. He found himself even smiling faintly where he sat in the grass. He was about to say 'Ensign', resorting to rank as always when in public, but in the quietude of the arboretum, and the shroud of the trees above them, he called her by her name. "It means a lot to me to hear that, Cam. It really does. I have already apologised for sending you there, but you should know how much I have regretted the outcome as well. I can't imagine your loss, but I lament how I made the impact worse by sending you there."

Glancing back towards the still pond, which was only disturbed by a small rivulet of water on the far side, he added. "Will you join me for a while?"

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #6
[ Ens. Cameron Henshaw | Arboretum | Deck 21 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan
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As she had expected, or suspected, Jien expected the worst, and who would blame him? It didn't make her feel better, but seeing him look even a little elated, hearing him say her name out here where anyone might abruptly wander in on them, made everything more bearable. Maybe it was a little silly of her to take joy in such a simple word uttered, but if they didn't snatch whatever moments like this when it was presented to them, when the shadows and darkness surrounded them on all sides, what was it she heard that shiny rainbow-hued woman say in passing? The light between two people shone the brightest.

“...I'd like that, yes.” said Cameron, clasping the PADD in front of  her with both hands. She crossed the path to sit down beside the captain, her eyes gazing over the pond he was watching, she wondered how he bore it all, and still carried far more weight unceasingly. If the guilt of what he had costed her was also among the burdens, then she was glad to have at least lifted that much. But it was all still there. Perhaps, in time, the presence of it won't be so visible, or at least it won't be thought of in every waking moment. That was the first step to healing, for both of them, she supposed. To acknowledge that there was a wound, but to not let it fester.

He had invited her to be with him, to take what moments of peace they could, and she felt emboldened to take another step as they sat together, looking for all the world like two people in a veritable garden, at peace. She rested her slender hand over his, “They do this,” she said thoughtfully, “because they're afraid. Those parasites. They're trying to do everything they can to end you, end us all, because they're afraid.” She looked at him, her eyes glinting with unshed tears from all the raw emotion welling from within her, “I believe that, and I hope you do too. You can't give up, not now, not after everything we've endured. Giving up means they win. And it was all for nothing.”

She placed the PADD on the grass beside her and used the free hand to dip a finger into the pond, the placid water rippling outward wider and wider, “One little act has far-reaching consequences, and all we need, is to get the truth out, to any and all. If we can get even one sentient to believe us, it'll be enough.” She pulled her finger from the water and the ripples continued. She looked at Jien again and gave him a wan smile. “You're all I have left, Jien. I can't lose you too. I won't.”

The light between two people...

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #7
[ Captain Jien Ives | Arboretum | Deck 21 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Triage
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Hearing what Cam had to say about the parasite, Jien wanted to believe her. Oh, how he wanted to, and he wanted to say as much to the crew as well, to repeat her words and have them take heart in how they were - indeed - making a difference each day.

Yet as he watched the rings spread across the pond, he doubted it still. The enemy was like a phenomenon, chaos manifest in the galaxy, and the Infested that opposed them were agents of this darkness. Chaos, in nature, did not feel fear. How could it? Perhaps, however....

"The Hosts," he said quietly, raising his thumb to let it slip over Cam's, "Acreth said that it was through the bodies they wore that they achieved a linear, orderly nature. They need the hosts to further the cause. To feed this abyss she mentioned. In that sense..." he said and turned his head to look at Cam.

"In that sense, you might be right. Indeed, those Hosts out there might fear how they are opposed. Perhaps they are capable of seeing how difficult we are making it for them, and how we will change this timeline. Perhaps we can restore it, somehow... but then, all our efforts might be rinsed from the timestream. Perhaps none of this would happen, and we only have the mission left to preform, before we are back where we started. Before the parasites corrupted the fleet."

If that was the case, even if they won, there would be no more tomorrows.

He thought this, as he looked into Cam's eyes.

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #8
[ Ens. Cameron Henshaw | Arboretum | Deck 21 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan
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He probably didn't buy it. Cameron could only guess, but she thought she could read him well enough by now, enough to at least get a bead on him, or make accurate guesses. Nothing that's one hundred percent, but enough for the time being. She patiently gazed into his eyes for as long as he maintained the contact. She frowned as he spoke about the hosts, and the horrid woman, Acreth. The Parasites wanted chaos, but the ones with hosts sought order? It sounded like a contradiction, a paradox, or to just get downright confusing, Schrodinger's Worm.

But then again, the Parasites were a threat unlike anything the Federation or anyone else had ever faced yet. There was so much they did not understand, so little true headway in a final solution. So little time to recover from each victory or defeat, it was all they could do...no, it was all Jien could do to keep the ship and everyone together.

But she heard what Jien said, and what he must surely feel inside, the things that he would not open up about, not even to her, and now maybe more so, because he probably wanted to protect her from more pain. But she had lost almost everything already, what was a little more pain now? It was like a drop of water in an ocean. I will make his pain mine. she thought to herself, Whether he wants to share it or not. “Until then though,” said Cameron, squeezing his hand gently, “we keep going. We keep our minds open, and our will strong, to find hope, and then act on it.”

She turned to gaze at the pond again, “Until it's over, one way or another.”

Without looking back at him, she said, “You can always talk to me any time, Jien, you know that right?” She looked at him, “You can lean on me, as much as you need. You're not alone.”

And neither am I.

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #9
[ Captain Jien Ives | Arboretum | Deck 21 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Triage
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The moment shared, however fleeting, might be coming to an end, but still, Jien Ives was grateful that Cam and he could return to what they shared before Starbase 84. Not that it could be so easily defined, but it was important to him.

So, to hear her say that she was there, whenever he needed to speak, it was a great relief. He wanted it no other way, regardless the shame of putting her in the situation she'd ended up in. She was a Starfleet officer, and like many crews, they suffered great emotional trauma and peril in their voyages. Only their own was, perhaps, a bit out of the ordinary. The Theurgy's mission was wrought with impossible odds, horror and dire challenges, but in a way, perhaps overcoming what they all faced, those predicaments also made them stronger. Together.

Together with Cameron, Jien believed he had a foundation in which he could continue the mission, and it was not without gravity that he spoke - meeting her eye. "I know."

Before she left, he felt he had something he wished to tell her, but he was uncertain about how he might broach the topic. He looked back to the water, and removed his hand from hers, running his fingers through his hair... which extended, as she had switched to her female form. She sighed lightly, feeling like she did have to speak of it, even if she wasn't entirely prepared for it. It was, in a way, even more strange to speak of it now, with Cam, but she knew she had to. Cam had the right background to listen, and even if Jien used to be a conselor herself, many years ago, she could not counsel herself in this matter.

"The first day here, in the Azure Nebula, I told myself we needed more Engineers. Which is true," she began, clenching her jaw, the images of a certain engineer on her retinas. "We... lost our Chief Engineer in the first battle against the Calamity, weeks ago. She took a phaser blast to the chest, to save my life, from the Cala hologram. Thea's daughter, in a strange sense. She was brought to stasis, in hope that she'd survive an operation later on. She did... at my order. She woke up again, with a new heart."

Jien clenched her jaw, not keen on continuing, but she knew she had to tell someone. Only Nicander knew, and the Câroon's feelings abut the ordeal was plain. The guilt for what happened wasn't his. "Only it was not just her heart that had been affected. When she came to, post surgery, it was discovered she'd suffered brain damage, and she couldn't walk. We didn't have enough artificial prosthetics to replace as much of her spine as we needed. She was bedridden. Confused. Scared."

It was more difficult than Jien had thought. She had to swallow, her hands clenching into fists. "Nicander had recommended against resuscitation, yet I insisted nonetheless. I told myself it was for the sake of the mission, at her great peril, but it was... a selfish thing," she said quietly, and as if she was seeing herself from the outside, she spoke with lips numb, unable to associate with the emotional impact of her own words. "She died late last night, as her body rejected the things done to her... but she did recognise me in her last moments. It was... because we used to be intimate, before the Calamity shot her. She died because I needed her, and thought I knew better."

She fell silent then, for she couldn't add much more to it.

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #10
[ Ens. Cameron Henshaw | Arboretum | Deck 21 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan
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When he took his hand away from hers, and then he shifted into her female form, Cameron watched with mild curiosity, wondering what emotional turmoil within the captain caused the shift. Then she realized that Jien was acting on the Yeoman's offer. She needed a listener, and maybe even a counsellor. Cameron swallowed as she listened to a personal account of Nicole Howard's passing, from the lips of the survivor and witness. She could see the struggle that went behind the Chameloid's eyes, the guilt in her words, and the profound regret. But more than that, Cam saw the love.

She closed her eyes for a moment as she let that thought wash over her. As the Captain's Yeoman, she could disregard that. Even captains got lonely, and sought companionship. As Cameron Henshaw, the girl who lost everything but one, she could not ignore the little jab of pain the admission put in her, or the ever-so-tiny hint of jealousy, a feeling that was so because of her growing love for Jien. She ultimately chose to subdue that pain and jealousy, to take on the professional counsellor's attitude, since that was clearly what Jien wanted now. Later, later Cameron could be alone and process the personal aspects.

She had read the case file for Nicole Howard. The poor woman had suffered traumatic mortal injuries, and compounded by the exposure to Virus 117, which was the final straw for the woman, who was already so weakened by her injuries and the subsequent surgeries to undo the damage. Yet, for all the guilt Jien felt over Nicole's demise, believing herself responsible, Cam realized the captain overlooked the most important part of what happened that day. “We all need someone,” said Cameron, “sometimes, more than one.”

She flushed a little at the thought that she of all people would be giving this advice to the captain, yet, it was what she needed, right? “I know you feel responsible for her death, but Jien, it wasn't you, nor was it really a selfish motivation. You cared for her, and more importantly, you were there for her in her final moments.” She turned her body to face the captain, “That's more than some people ever get to have. She had you with her. It was Cala that did this to her, that put her in the situation. So if you want to blame anyone, blame Cala. You couldn't have known about the virus. By the time you had been alerted to it, the operation was already underway, and like you said, we needed the engineers to help look after Thea.”

She did her best to assuage Jien's feelings of guilt, and to offer what comfort she could, without revealing too much of herself, without baring her soul. This was about Jien, and nothing else, so Cameron put her focus on whatever the captain needed. “The only thing to do now, is move forward. You will always have her here,” Cameron placed her right palm over her heart, “and here.” she moved her hand to her right temple, giving a small encouraging smile. “She will live on. You did what was best for the crew, as you always do. Jien, people make mistakes, and all leaders, are but people. But this wasn't one of those times. Please understand, I've read the report, it wasn't your fault.”

Okay, so maybe she couldn't keep out her personal desire to take away that pain from the captain.

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #11
[ Captain Jien Ives | Arboretum | Deck 21 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Triage
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Hearing Cameron's words, a lot of thoughts came to Jien, ranging from denial to acceptance at different turns. Even the reasons for those diverse reactions differed, but at the end of all that Cameron had said, Jien found herself cast into an unflattering light. Even in that, she could not bring herself to tolerate legitimacy in her actions. She realised she wanted to have this blame upon herself, and the reasons were many.

Loss of crew. Destruction of pursuing starships. Destroying the Orcus to preserve the ship and have the Simulcast sent. Unable to stop the false Simulcast, and thus verifying what Starfleet Command and the Federation media outlets had claimed about the Theurgy and its crew. Perhaps Jona Rez had been right, that she'd almost started a civil war in the Federation? For all that had happened, and kept the Theurgy on the run, she wanted the blame of Howard's death on her own shoulders, even if it was not the whole truth of the matter. Like she memorised the crew manifests of all ships in Task Force Archeron that had been destroyed through the voyage, did she use Howard's death as a new whip in her perpetual self-flagellation?

It had, of course, not been a conscious recourse, but Cam had cast some light on it, and Jien did not like what she saw. For as she regarded herself in this light, she saw someone who who tried to seek penance, when she should be faithful to the promise of the mission, and believe in the same things she wanted the crew to believe in. That there was hope for them all. Did she already. or was she faltering?

She couldn't quite bring herself to smile back to Cameron, her eyes distant. "I see now," she began quietly, choosing wisely between the topics at hand, "a reason why I so adamantly refused Thea to try and reset Cala. Why I couldn't allow for a mother, however digital, to save her daughter. To restore her, if the enemy had simply changed her subroutines. I never could say with absolut certainty whether Cala could be saved. I still can't. Perhaps I held Cala accountable, as you say, and I did not want Thea to succeed?"

Of course, there had been other reasons too, in how Thea was biased in such a role, and might pick the remote chance of restoring her daughter in front of the crew's safety. But Cala... Had the fact that Cala killed half of Jien's Senior Staff, all those people on Theta Eridani, and hurt Howard, all factored into her orders? Could she deny that was the case? Could she really claim to have been objective? Jien wasn't so sure any more.

She knew, of course, that what she said wasn't what Cam wanted to hear. Cam did not want the self-flagellation to continue. She wanted Jien to find strength in how she'd put the needs of the crew first, in ordering Howard to be resuscitated. That she couldn't have foreseen the effects of the virus and how it had tipped the scales. Jien appreciated that sentiment, but was she ready to believe it yet? So soon? Few of those she'd counselled herself would.

"Thank you," she said, but not in dismissal, for the imprint of Cam's touch had pierced the fortifications she'd raised around herself. "Please know that..."

How was she to phrase it in a way that made sense, and illustrated what she felt, without diminishing either of them, or what it meant for her? "You have done nothing wrong, in your wishes of tempering me, and comforting me, as you have since Theta Eridani IV. By then, I had already lost Howard, and what she and I had was... new. Fledgling feelings, the fraternisation unknown to the crew, and so it would have remained, as much as I wished otherwise." She wasn't just talking about Howard, obviously, and Cam needed to hear it. "I cannot afford my judgement being questioned, in being found too close with some crewmembers. I should be objective, dependable, and without fault. I cannot give the Devoted or other dissidents fodder for their cannons, in their wish to usurp command of the ship. On the other hand, I obviously can't do this alone, without someone who can listen, and understands how... lonesome my role is."

It wasn't fair. Nor was it right. Yet it was a choice. "So thank you, for what you have given me. This comfort and distraction. In my role, I should not need it, nor ask for it, despite how much I do, and want to. While I can't openly express my gratitude, you should know how much you mean to me, in your generosity, and your faith in me, despite how brittle you know me to be."

Re: Day 03 [1100 hrs.] For You, Always

Reply #12
[ Ens. Cameron Henshaw | Arboretum | Deck 21 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan
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It was the oddest feeling that she experienced yet, in that day. As Jien spoke, Cameron felt like her exchange earlier was almost nothing, a quick splash of water over a stone statue. She wasn't entirely surprised by the captain's choice and reaction. She wanted to feel guilty, she wanted the blame to fall on her shoulders. The Yeoman did her best to assuage and temper that guilt with a balance, and a provision of strength, moral support and encouragement, but in the end, it was up to Jien to accept that. The greater burden and pain for Cam was to let her make that choice.

I will just pick up the pieces that are left and put her back together, thought Cam decisively, as many times as needed.

Jien went on to explain the need for secrecy, and she could understand it. People could be filled with doubt as much as they could be understanding or sympathetic, but Jien's unique position and the situation not withstanding meant a very fragile precipice and pedestal on which she stood with only one foot to balance. But more than that, Jien confessed a vulnerability and a near-dependence on the Yeoman, and that was what resulted in the sensation of being knocked down while picked up all at once. Outwardly, Cam's only reaction was to share a wan smile, and eyes shining with unshed tears.

She studied the Chameloid's female form, drinking in the sight of her, committing her as she was now into memory, feeling it was important to do so for some reason. She drew closer to the captain, capturing one side of her face with a hand, while she leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, a gentle and slow action, taking her time, before pulling back. “For you,” said Cameron, “always.”

She meant so many things behind those words, as well a made a promise and a commitment, completely unconditional, freely and generously given, without expectation of anything in return. She took hold of her PADD and reluctantly rose, “I'll take care of this,” she gestured with the PADD, “and I'll be back before you know it.”

She wanted to linger, to say more, but for the moment, perhaps this was sufficient, and she did not want to smother Jien. She had to have faith that at least this much would be allowed them both. Two broken souls, tired and alone, with nothing but the stars between them. As she left the arboretum, she cast one last glance behind her, to see her captain, before the pond, in such a perfect caption, the closest she could be to a moment of serenity, and then the doors shut. She sighed and left to seek out Yukimura.

- FIN

 
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