The Star Eagle Adventures: EVS3 - Homecoming

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by CeJay, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    She has a valid point, and Leva's entirely too cavalier about dismissing it.

    Let's hope he doesn't get caught out in all this.
    CeJay likes this.
  2. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Ugh. I think she's going to have to club Leva over the head and drag him off, at this point.
    And I thought I was dense about women...
    Gibraltar and CeJay like this.
  3. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    The Romulan delegation which had been brought to Earth by the Turing had been housed at a Starfleet compound in Shanghai for the duration of their visit, close enough to Paris and San Francisco where they would spend most of their time, and yet not close enough to the very nerve centers of the Federation and Starfleet to possibly pose a threat. It was a subtle message by the powers that were that the Federation was hoping to normalize the mostly hostile relations that had existed between their respective people for centuries before the Dominion War, but that real trust between the Federation and the Romulan Empire was not yet a reality.

    Leva had been one of the few individuals who had been cleared to visit the delegation, thanks to his connections with his fellow Romulan in exile and on-again-off-again mentor Osanus Dar. Dar had apparently been instrumental in making these talks possible.

    Security, however, remained tight, many had not forgotten the events that had taken place the last time a Romulan delegation had visited Earth four years earlier during the Antwerp Conference which had ended in disaster when the Dominion had detonated a bomb, killing twenty-seven people. The incident had become infamous for not only marking the beginning of the Dominion aggression against the Alpha Quadrant but also for being the deadliest attack on Earth in over a century, shattering a period of unprecedented peace that had been enjoyed by its populace. Of course, the Antwerp bombing eventually became nothing more than a prelude to the devastating Breen attack on San Francisco during the height of the Dominion War.

    Leva met Donatra in the beautifully maintained inner courtyard of the compound she was staying at, judging by her smile, she had been waiting for him.

    Jolan tru,” he said, using the traditional Romulan greeting.

    “And hello to you, So’Dan.”

    He was immediately struck how much better she looked in person than over the view screen, still wearing her short, Romulan military-style haircut which highlighted her perfectly tapered ears, her gracefully upswept brow as well as her expressive eyes and her bright lips. He couldn’t help but find her attractive even in her bulky gray Romulan uniform.

    “Welcome to Earth,” he said.

    “Glad to be here. Gladder still you cold be.”

    He nodded. “How have you been?”
    “It’s been a tough few years," she said, her voice taking on a more serious tone now and Leva could certainly sympathize with the sentiment. The war had been hard on the Romulans as well, while they had not exactly been forthcoming with precise numbers on their losses and while they were likely much lower than those of the Federation and the Klingons who had fought the Dominion for longer, the Romulans had suffered a great deal as well, after all there had been no half-measures when they had joined the war effort, they had thrown everything they'd had at the enemy and even that had very nearly not been enough.

    Leva was pleased that she seemed to have survived the war intact. "Yes, for all of us."

    “But that’s behind us now, isn’t it? Time to look forward and all that.”

    “I believe that’s what has brought you here.”

    “Quite an interesting development, wouldn’t you say?”

    He nodded but didn’t speak for a moment. He continued before the silence between them threatened to become awkward. “I understand I have you for the rest of the day.”

    “That’s right. I have been handed over into your care. I am all yours as they say. My official mission is to immerse myself in human culture to better appreciate our former enemy and perhaps a potential ally one day.”

    “You almost make it sound like a chore.”

    She laughed. “I suppose that all depends on my guide.”

    “I shall try to make this as memorable as I can. But remember, I’m only partly human. I might not be the best person to make you appreciate this planet’s culture.”

    “Something tells me I won’t have any complaints. Where do we start?”
    Leva took a moment to take in his surroundings. The compound was just outside of Shanghai and completely walled in but did allow a peek at the large city's impressive skyline. "We could start right here. Shanghai is one of Earth's most vibrant cities."

    She frowned. “I got to see some of it on our shuttle ride in. To be honest it’s not quite my kind of thing. A lot of modern super skyscrapers. I’ve seen this on Romulus and countless other worlds.”

    He nodded. “Shanghai has changed much over the centuries. It didn’t fare well during Earth’s various wars and was rebuilt a number of times. I suppose it has lost some of its unique character, but it remains a great melting pot of Western and Eastern influences.”

    Donatra didn’t look impressed.

    “Tell you what,” he said. “We’re actually not too far from the place I spent most of my early years after leaving Romulan space. It’s still quite a historic place, even today.”

    At that, she lit up. "I wouldn't mind seeing your old stomping grounds. The place that tamed your wild Romulan blood," she said with a smirk.

    “Don’t know about tamed,” he said and then nodded her way. “Before we leave, perhaps consider changing your attire?”

    She looked down at her uniform. “What’s wrong with it?”

    "There aren't many Romulans on Earth, so it depends on how much you want to stick out."

    Donatra nodded. “I guess it’s only fair. We made you change into more local garments when you came to visit.”

    Twenty minutes and one outfit later, the two set out via shuttle, heading east, Donatra having changed into a simple, tan suit which if it hadn’t been for her ridged brow made her look almost Vulcan. Leva had remained in his uniform.

    “So where are we heading?” she asked as the shuttle left the Chinese mainland behind and headed over open waters.

    “A place called Kyoto on the Japanese island. My father lived there for some time before he met my mother and we kept our principal residence there. If you are looking for Earth culture and history, you won’t find too many places that offer more on this side of the planet. It’s a city that hasn’t changed all that much over the last few centuries.”

    In the shuttle it took them mere minutes to reach Honshu, the Japanese main island and Leva slowed them down once they were back over land to allow his passenger to take in the green and hilly landscape below.

    “This almost reminds me of Romulus,” she said as he turned to look at him. “No wonder you chose to live here.”

    "Not sure if I would use the word chose. In fact, I couldn't wait to get away from here fast enough when I was younger. Joined Starfleet as soon as I was old enough. I think in hindsight I was probably a little too rash with my decisions. I suppose I was a fairly angry young man back then."

    She grinned. “Some insights into So’Dan Leva’s inner psyche. This trip is certainly full of surprises.”

    “Well, don’t expect many of those.”

    He brought the shuttle down at a landing port near the center of the historic city where they disembarked and began to explore the town on foot and public transport, Leva taking her to see a number of majestic Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples which had survived for centuries and proudly reflected historic Japanese architecture which Donatra admitted to being impressive.

    “Considering how violent I hear Earth culture has been in your history, I am surprised to find so much of its architecture has survived,” she said as they strolled through the gorgeous moss garden of the Saihō-ji temple.

    “Earth has also experienced nearly two centuries of peace before the Dominion War.”

    “Maybe. But for thousands of years before that humans were at war with each other over petty national and religious conflicts. Trust me, most people outside this solar system are stupefied how Earth and its people managed to not only survive but also become the center of a galactic superpower.”

    He offered a smile. “I did not know you were a scholar of Earth history.”

    “Romulans believe that knowing their enemy is essential to securing victory.”

    “I didn’t think we were still enemies.”

    She shrugged. “We were when I was taught about Earth.”

    He nodded and then stopped when they had reached the temple proper.

    “What is it?”

    “Two hundred meters behind us. A woman in a dark suit. I think she has been following us since we left Tō-ji.”

    Donatra uttered a little, amused laugh.


    “She has been following us since we left the shuttle. Her and her partner. What I cannot tell is if they are just bad at trying to be inconspicuous or if they are just not trying very hard at all. Letting me know that we are being watched.”

    “They’re with Starfleet? Federation Security maybe?”

    She nodded. “You didn’t honestly think they would let a Romulan walk around on Earth supervised solely by one Starfleet officer who himself has some Romulan blood coursing through his veins.”

    “I suppose not.”

    "I don't blame them. Besides, it's not as if we weren't watched when I took you on a tour of the capital back on Romulus. Trust me we had a lot more eyes on us then we do now."

    Leva nodded slowly. “You spotted them pretty quickly though.”

    “I tend to be pretty mindful of my surroundings. Particular in unfamiliar territory.”

    But he didn’t look fully convinced and Donatra could tell. She smirked. “You think I made them because I’m a spy? An agent of the Tal Shiar?”

    “After all we’ve been through, do you really blame me?”

    She turned away from him. "I suppose not. In fact, I probably deserve your mistrust."

    He took a step towards her. “You did work for them. You got close to me to get me to defect. Those are facts.”

    “Right. And what could I possibly say now that would make you trust me? To make you believe that I hated what I did to you. I hated it until I realized that I enjoyed your company so much, I was actually excited about the prospect of being successful in my mission. Of you staying on Romulus. With me.”

    Leva placed a hand on her shoulder. “And I almost did. Because of you.”

    She shrugged him off. “But now you’ll never be able to trust me again. Now, whenever you look at me there’ll be that voice in the back of your head, trying to warn you, telling you not to get too close because I might not be what you think I am.”

    He considered the ancient temple for a moment as he tried to collect his thoughts. She was right of course, everything she had said what absolutely true. It also meant that Lieutenant Donatra was either one of the best Romulan agents the Tal Shiar had ever produced, or a person desperately trying to atone for her past actions. Leva wanted to believe the latter. He turned back to face her even while she kept her back to him. “I don’t know about you, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

    She very slowly turned back around. “Are you now?”

    He shrugged. “As long as you don’t ask me to reveal Federation secrets.”

    Donatra laughed. “You really think that the Tal Shiar doesn’t already know whatever secrets you could share?”

    “Now that hurts.”

    They continued their sightseeing tour of Kyoto until the late evening and left the city after an extensive seafood dinner in one of the city’s famous eateries. Donatra had asked him to return with her to her room in the compound in Shanghai where she claimed to have a surprise for him.

    “I can’t wait to see it,” he had said with a gleam in his eyes.

    “You’re fortunate I’m not a telepath because I’m sure I don’t care where your mind has wandered off to.”

    He had smartly suppressed any further commentary after that.

    As it turned out the surprise had been a case of eight bottles containing an azure beverage.

    Leva could hardly complain as he quickly pulled one of the bottles out of the case. “Authentic kali-fal? Now that is a surprise.”

    “I remember how much you took to it,” she said and then produced a couple of glasses. “I think a few drinks won’t hurt.”

    He didn’t say no. After having spent a lifetime mostly reviling the beverage, he’d found a new appreciation for it after his journey to Romulus. He wasn’t entirely sure if this was because he had never before tasted the real thing—after all he had been too young to try it when he had lived in Romulan space as a child—or because his visit to his former home had somehow changed his complicated attitude towards his Romulan heritage which he had taken pains to ignore or outright deny after having turned his back on that culture. Perhaps it had everything to do with his budding feelings for Donatra herself after he had first met her.

    Regardless, he had joined her eagerly in opening a bottle and just like two years earlier, it hadn’t stopped there.
    DarKush likes this.
  4. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Oh boy...a night of drinks with an old flame. Oh well, what could go wrong?
    I think Leva is going to have some 'splaining to do when he gets home to Eagle. Yikes.

    I don't know how I feel about Donatra yet. I didn't trust her at first but now I...oh hell, okay I still don't trust her.
    It's not because she's Romulan either, she just seems a little too glib and disarming somehow. I guess we'll find out.

    The only problem here is that if Donatra is playing him, Leva will be devastated and probably won't ever trust anyone again.
    That means a certain interested party will pay the price because he won't commit to her or anyone else after this.

    Here's hoping I'm wrong!
  5. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    Differently to their encounter two years ago, this time there had been no rushed departure by Donatra. Whereas last time she had attempted sneak away even before he had awoken, Leva found her just where he had left her the night before, lying in bed next to him.

    Jolan tru," he whispered softly as her eyes began to flutter open.

    Her response was a satisfied little purr.

    “Just as good as you remembered it?”

    She smirked. “Better,” she said.

    He nodded.

    “What time is it?” she asked through still only half-opened eyes.

    He turned his head towards the window and the sun streaming into the room. “Late morning, I’d guess.”

    She pressed herself closer against him. “Too early.”

    “Agreed.” He brushed his hand against her cheek and then moved in closer to kiss her. “We could stay like this the whole day as far as I’m concerned. I have nowhere I need to be.”

    Donatra stopped suddenly and pulled back. “I do.”


    “Computer. What is the time?”

    A soft trill acknowledged the inquiry. “The time is ten thirty-four hours.”

    Her eyes opened wide as she rolled away from Leva and practically fell out of bed. It was only a momentary setback as she shot back up onto her feet and then rushed into the washroom.

    Leva smirked as he watched her naked, retreating form. “I take it you are late for something.”

    “The conference,” she called out from the washer as he heard the sonic shower coming to life. “Starfleet Headquarters in twenty-six minutes. Is that in walking distance?”

    Leva couldn't suppress a laugh. She may have studied Earth history but clearly, geography had not been part of her lesson plan. "Not quite. Another continent altogether."

    She uttered a colorful Romulan curse.

    “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll get priority transporter access. And even if not, I can probably pull some strings.”

    She emerged just six minutes later and Leva was impressed what she had been able to accomplish in that time. She looked spotless, already dressed in her uniform, not a hair out of place and even her lip coloring perfectly applied.

    "I'm a soldier girl," she said after noticing his surprise. "Being ready is half the battle."

    He nodded. “Will I see you after the conference?”

    She sighed. “I am not certain it will be possible. The schedule for the next two days is pretty tight. A lot of conferences and meetings and when I’m not in one of those, I will have review sessions with my delegation. This was really the only time I could make available for us.”

    "In that case, I'm glad we made such good use of it."

    Donatra smiled.

    “What’s next after the conference?”

    She walked over to a mirror to adjust her uniform even if Leva couldn’t really see the need. “I’ve already been assigned to a ship as a weapons officer. The fleet needs every available hand maintaining order in the Cardassian territory.”

    He didn't like the sound of that. None of the stories coming out of that area had been positive since the war had ended and the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans had divided up the territory which had formerly been part of the Cardassian Union amongst themselves. A number of former Cardassian military hardliners had taken arms to oppose the occupation by any means necessary. Blood had already been spilled on all sides, and as expected the Klingons and Romulans were particularly ruthless in quelling any unrest.

    “Could you not request an assignment somewhere else? Somebody with your diplomatic experience could be invaluable right here on Earth working for the Romulan mission.”

    She turned away from the mirror to face him. "I know what you're trying to do, So'Dan and I don't think I appreciate it. No matter what is happening between the two of us, I am and always will be a loyal Romulan soldier. And I will go wherever I am needed most. Do whatever I must to serve Romulus. You understand this, don't you?"

    He nodded slowly. “Yes, of course.”

    “Good, I wanted to make sure you knew where we stand.”

    “About that. Where exactly do we stand? What is this thing between us exactly?”

    She walked over to the bed where he was sitting up against the headrest and she leaned down to kiss him. Then she regarded him for a moment. "I like you, So'Dan Leva."

    He smirked. “Good to know.”

    Then she uttered a little sigh. “To answer your question, I don’t really know. This isn’t exactly conventional. But I think we need to be realistic about what is possible considering our respective positions. I like you So’Dan but I am not giving up my life. And I don’t think you are either.”

    He considered those words for just a moment. “Funny you would say that considering that I almost gave up my life under similar circumstances.”

    She frowned, clearly not sure how to respond to this.

    He waved it off. “Sorry, that wasn’t entirely fair.”

    “There’s some truth to it, I guess.”

    But he shook his head. “I am and always have been of two worlds and I have struggled with that all my life. Intentional or not, you opened my eyes to something I had tried to ignore for a long time. That I’m as much Romulan as I am human.”

    “And for what it’s worth, I think you represent the best parts of both our people.”

    It was a nice sentiment, he thought, even if he was not sure he shared it. He had made his fair share of poor decisions in his life after all.

    She headed towards the doors but stopped short and looked at him one last time. “We will see each other again, of that I have no doubt. Thank you for trusting me and for the time we got to spend together. Jolan tru, So’Dan.”

    “Until we meet again.”

    She gave him one last smile and then was out of the door and at least for now it seemed, out of his life again.

    Leva uttered a heavy sigh and let himself fall back onto the bed. As far as he was concerned, he really had nowhere else to be.
    Galen4 likes this.
  6. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Well then. It seems these two have a real connection and I doubt we've seen the last of this relationship.
    I might have been wrong about Donatra, maybe she's not the shifty sort, after all. But one can't help wondering at this "chance encounter" and whether or not it's a set up towards some nefarious scheme down the road.

    Romulans are master chess players, and she may again be at the mercy of her superiors and a slave to her loyalty.

    Or not.
    CeJay likes this.
  7. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    After a rather awkward encounter with the local Starfleet personnel running the compound during which he had struggled to explain his presence in Donatra’s quarters, Leva had decided to return to Eagle. After all the modifications on the tactical systems were still not complete and focusing on work, he figured, was favorable to staying on Earth which at least for the moment reminded him too much of the short but memorable time he had spent with Donatra.

    Eagle was still running with a skeleton crew and was mostly occupied by spacedock’s maintenance personnel and a few crewmembers who had decided not to take the offered shore leave.

    One of the first things he had done was to check in on Nora and had learned that she had since been fully cleared by Doctor Katanga and that she was apparently no longer on board the ship. He had taken some comfort in that. If she felt well enough to spend time planetside, she was probably over whatever had affected her.

    He had contacted Alendra next to meet her in main engineering to discuss the next phase of the weapons and shields overhaul they had started a few days earlier.

    The Bolian arrived late and Leva quickly noticed that she wasn't quite herself. Her facial expressions were difficult to read as if she was trying to keep them purposefully neutral. "Did you enjoy yourself, Commander?"

    He shot her a puzzled look at the unexpected formality which had crept into her tone. "I had a good time," he said nodding. "As I said, there was nothing to worry about, I have not been turned into a Romulan spy by evil Tal Shiar machinations," he added with a grin which completely failed to find any acknowledgment.

    “Anyway,” he continued. “I thought we carry on where we left off. I’ve already run a diagnostic on the primary phaser couplers and we’ve achieved a throughput improvement of nearly five percent. I think we can do even better before we move on to the torpedo guidance systems and the new shield grid.”

    “Right,” she said, “we’ll just pick up where we left off.”

    “Is there a problem with that?”

    She shook her head. “No problem, sir. Except that I’ve been thinking about what you told me before you left. I do believe I should take some shore leave,” she said and then presented him with a padd which she had been hiding behind her back.

    “What’s this?” he said as he took the device and glanced it over.

    “My request for shore leave, sir.”

    He frowned. The request she had put in writing would practically keep her away from the ship until Eagle was scheduled to depart for her next mission. There would be no time at all to continue their work together. There was no question that she was entitled to the leave, but it had not been what he had expected.

    Alendra noticed his confusion. “I am planning on visiting my family on Bolarus, I haven’t seen them since the war first broke out. Unless of course, you have an objection.”

    “I … no, of course not. I just thought—“

    She took the padd back from him. "Thank you, sir," she turned and began to walk away.


    She stopped to turn and face him again.

    “You are upset?”

    She laughed mirthlessly. "You're a trained tactical officer. Clearly, you can read between the lines."

    He wasn’t sure what to say to that.

    Alendra took a few steps back towards him. “You said you can see the obvious but to be honest I’m not so certain. I’ll be back in a week, maybe you’ve figured it out by then.” Her body went stiff. “Permission to be dismissed, sir.”

    He hesitated for only a moment and then nodded. “Permission granted.”

    She turned on her heel and this time walked away with purpose, leaving Leva behind.

    He looked after her with a blank look on his face, not missing the fact that Alendra was the second woman he had watched walking out on him on the same day. He couldn't help but start wonder if Nora hadn’t been right all along.

    He wasn’t sure what he was going to do next, the only thing he knew for certain was that just a few days earlier, the galaxy had seemed like a much less complicated place.
    Gibraltar and Galen4 like this.
  8. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Alendra needs to get slapped upside the head. And I think I know a certain Bolian who would eagerly volunteer for the job! Things are getting complicated for everyone involved.

    This brings up a pretty fascinating aspect of the ST universe: mainly, that different humanoid species can become attracted to one another, even when there are likely large anatomical and aesthetic differences involved.

    Great character development, keep it coming.
    CeJay likes this.
  9. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006

    May 2376

    She hadn’t been able to remember any of the details of her conversation with So’Dan in the Jeffries tube when she had come back to in sickbay. Nora had recalled that the topic of conversation had been interpersonal relationships aboard the ship, particularly So’Dan’s relationships with his subordinates, but for the life of her, she couldn’t remember what her argument had been about or what had initiated it.

    So’Dan, who had clearly displayed great concern over her condition, perhaps even some guilt, had tried to gently remind her that she had made a rather heated point about how she had disagreed with the manner in which his relationship with Lieutenant Alendra had developed.

    This in itself seemed odd, considering that she liked the young Bolian officer who had only come aboard a few months earlier after her previous ship, the same one on which Leva had served a very short stint as first officer had been lost.

    Ultimately she had given up on trying to remember the exact nature on what So’Dan had claimed had turned into an argument and growing somewhat tired of his well-meaning concern over her health, she had insisted that he leave her alone and get on with whatever work needed to be done.

    Nora didn’t like people fussing over her.

    She was also not used to waking up in sickbay. Not if there hadn’t been a battle and scars to prove it. In fact, had it not been for Starfleet’s advanced dermal regeneration technology, she’d still be covered with evidence from her days as a resistance fighter on Bajor and later a Marine.

    But there had been no scars to treat this time. She had passed out without warning or apparent cause. That’s what she had been told by Doctor Katanga.

    She didn’t believe it for one second.

    “How much longer is this going to take?” she asked the veteran physician who was in the process of reviewing her latest scans on a large screen in sickbay while she watched on, sitting on a biobed. It had been three hours since she had awoken, almost five since she had apparently passed out, and she still had no answers. None that she thought were satisfactory.

    “It’ll take as long as it takes,” he said.

    She uttered a heavy sigh. “Fine. But can I at least return to my quarters? I’ve been here for half a day and I feel fine. I promise I won’t do any heavy lifting.”

    Katanga turned to look at her with a clearly annoyed expression. “If your reason for being here were related to you physically overexerting yourself I would have released you an hour ago. But it’s not.”

    “Then it must be something I ate. I told you some of that Earth food—“

    "Does not agree with you," Katanga said, completing the sentence for her. It wasn't difficult, after all, she had tried to blame her current condition on her recent foray into Mexican cuisine a couple of time now. "If nothing else I can say with a high degree of confidence that you didn't end up here because you ate a few too many hot peppers last night.”

    “Alright, Doctor, what’s wrong with me then?”

    He considered her for a moment as if rethinking what he was about to tell her. “I have my suspicions but something tells me you’re not going to like them.”

    “Don’t keep me in suspense,” she said humorlessly.

    The doors to the sickbay opened to allow another member of the medical staff to enter. Only at second glance did she realize that the newcomer was not a specialist in physical health. Alex Clancy was an assistant counselor with whom she was fairly familiar with after she had worked closely with him on a murder case last year.

    She felt her entire body tensing suddenly upon seeing him now, the implication pretty obvious. Nora jumped off the biobed.

    Clancy smiled at her. “Laas? How are you?

    She shook her head and then looked back at Katanga. “No.”

    "At least give it a chance. Clearly, there is nothing physically wrong with you. You did pass out for a reason and if it's not physical—"

    “You think I passed out because I’m psychologically damaged? I’ve got news for you, Doctor. Most people who go through a Cardassian occupation don’t come out the other end without a few emotional scars. But I’ve already been through this before they even let me join Starfleet years ago. I don't have any long simmering psychological hang-ups that would cause me to suddenly pass out," she said, struggling to keep her anger in check. "You've run your scans and you have my blood and whatever else you can take from me. Run more tests, find out what's wrong me, physically, and once you know, come and find me. But I won't be sitting around here on my hands until you've figured it out." With that, she turned towards the doors and walked right passed Clancy without uttering a single word to him.

    “Lieutenant, I haven’t released you yet,” Katanga called after her.

    Nora ignored him as she left sickbay.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
    Gibraltar and Galen4 like this.
  10. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Nora, I think, is too quickly dismissing her fainting spell and even more troubling, apparent amnesia. There's clearly something going on here. Let's all hope Katanga can figure it out before this turns into a bigger problem.

    The trouble with former Bajoran freedom fighters is, they've gone through so much hell, you just never know what mental time bombs are waiting to go off. Even in ST's future, PTSD can't be removed with the waive of a magic tricorder, so problems can crop up at any time in life, just like folks who suffer from it in real life.

    And you never know if other agencies are at work, too.

    Looking forward to where this train takes us!
    CeJay likes this.
  11. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    She had returned straight to her quarters and it hadn’t taken very long for somebody to seek her out. Leva had been her first visitor but she had turned him away after she had assured him that she was doing much better and just needed some alone-time.

    Her second guest was not as easily dealt with and she had been hardly surprised when Alex Clancy showed up at her door and practically invited himself in.

    “I thought I had made myself pretty clear back in sickbay,” she told him.

    He nodded. "Oh, you did. Quite clear, in fact. But just a little piece of friendly advice. Don’t go and ruffle Katanga’s feathers. He’s been doing this kind of thing too long to be put off by a stubborn security chief.”

    “He has no idea what’s wrong with me,” she said defensively.

    “Well, he has an idea, you just don’t want to listen to it.”

    Nora walked over to the couch under the viewports in her quarter and let herself fall down. “So, what’s he going to do? Get my own security team to bring me back in? In restraints?”
    Clancy smirked. “After you stormed out of his sickbay he was fairly close to doing just that. Keep in mind, as the chief medical officer on this ship he has that authority, and he’s not afraid to use it.”

    “Judging by the fact that it’s you who has darkened my doorstep, I assume that you’ve talked him out of it.”

    “Barely. But I did manage to calm him somewhat. Convince him that a more subtle approach might be the better way to go here.”

    She nodded. “Good. You wouldn’t be a very good counselor if you couldn’t calm down somebody who is upset.”

    Clancy took a chair opposite her, keeping his eyes on the Bajoran. “Very true.”

    She saw what he was doing and quickly shook her head. “Don’t do that. I told you, I don’t need a counselor.”

    “Can we just talk? As friends?”

    She sighed and avoided eye contact. “If you’re going to start asking me about my childhood, I’m going to throw you out.”

    He offered another disarming smile. "I think I can work with that restriction."

    Nora placed her boots onto the glass coffee table and leaned back on the couch. “Alright, Counselor, let’s talk. But if after this conversation we both decide that I’m perfectly fine, you go back to Katanga and you give me a clear bill of health. You both back off and you make sure he does as well.”

    “That sounds like a challenge.”

    “I like challenges.”

    “I’m sure there must be something about that in my official counseling book. Don’t bet on your patient’s health. With your patient.”

    “Those are my terms. Take it or leave it.”

    He nodded after a moment. "Alright then. But if we both agree that there is something that is bothering you, something psychological that may have been the cause for your panic attack, then you agree to further treatment."

    She frowned at the word he used. “Fine. Let’s get this over with. Do you need me lie down?”

    Clancy smirked. “No, I don’t think that’s necessary.”

    “Oh okay. I think I saw that in a holo-novel once.”

    “We’re good like this. I’m not Freud.”

    “So, what is it you want to talk about?”

    “What do you want to talk about?”

    “Me? Nothing. If it were up to me we wouldn’t be talking at all.”

    “I try not to take that personally.”


    Clancy got up and out of his chair and walked over to the replicator. “In my experience, a conversation is properly stimulated by an accompanying beverage. What can I get you?”

    Nora considered that for a brief moment. “I’ll have some kava juice.”

    “That sounds good, I don’t think I’ve tried that yet. Is that Bajoran?”

    She nodded and Clancy ordered two glasses, brought them to the table and sat back down.

    “This is pretty good,” he said after trying his.

    “I used to drink it as a child quite often,” she said, took her boots off the table and had a sip from her glass. “It doesn’t exactly remind me of better times. I suppose I just got used to the taste.” She looked him square in the eye. “If this is some ploy to get me to start talking about Bajor, forget it.”

    “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

    “There isn’t much to say anyway. I grew up in a war zone, my parents were worked to death in a labor camp and my sister and I started fighting for the resistance from the moment I was big enough to raise a phaser.”

    “Something tells me there is plenty to talk about there but I get your point. Just tell me about what’s been on your mind lately.”

    “Nothing out of the ordinary.”

    He smiled. “Let’s start with the ordinary then.”

    "You want me to bore you? Fine with me. Let's see, I've been thinking about how to transition the latest security transfers that'll be joining us next week and how to fit them into the current duty roster. I've been thinking about what kind of training regimen I want to put them through, considering that they're all fresh from the Academy or basic. I've been considering getting my tactical bridge qualification renewed. And of course, I've been thinking about the work we need to do to overhaul the tactical systems.”

    Clancy nodded. “That’s a lot of work related thoughts. Anything on your mind not relating to your current duties?”

    She considered that for a moment. “I’ve been thinking about our mission in the Valeria sector a few months ago.”

    “Go on.”

    "During that mission, I lead an assault team to what we thought at the time was a pirate base on the surface of a small moon. Star had entrusted me with trying to open a dialogue with them but as they were well-armed I made the call to try to pacify them first.”

    “Which seemed to go contrary to your orders,” Clancy observed.

    "Well, it was more complicated than that. The other ship we were working with at the time had opened fire on the base from orbit."

    “Right, I remember,” said Clancy. “The Sacajawea. That was a hot mess alright.”

    She nodded. “I was left with very few options at that point, so I ordered the assault. Got into a pretty close scrape with a few of those pirates. Then I realized that it wasn’t just a pirate base. They had whole families there.”

    “And that changed things for you?”

    “Yes. I mean we were using non-lethal force, of course, but you can never be entirely sure of that when you fight people you’ve never fought before. Different races have different anatomies and all that. What affects a Bajoran in a certain way may not affect say a Klingon or a Valerian in the exact same manner. I didn’t want to take the risk of killing innocents by mistake. I took a chance by appealing to their leader and he agreed to a cease fire.”

    “That was a sensible call. Why do you think this particular episode has been on your mind lately?”

    Nora shrugged her shoulders. “Not sure. I guess I wonder if I would have had made that call before. During the war. Or even before that. It’s not as if I hadn’t been in similar situations before.”

    “You mean back on Bajor?”

    She pierced him with a dark look.

    Clancy raised his hands defensively. “Sorry. I swear I don’t mean to go back there.” He continued once Nora began to relax again, taking another sip of her juice. “Let me ask you something else. That mission on the moon, it wasn’t purely an assault then. Your orders were to establish contact.”

    She nodded.

    “And is that usually the kind of away mission you would be leading? And I mean no offense by that, but you’re the chief of security. Would something like that not be more in the wheelhouse of the first officer for example?”

    “Yes, it would. But remember, the captain was back on Valeria and Star was in command.”

    Clancy thought this over for a moment. “If I recall the ship’s command structure correctly, wouldn’t Commander Xylion have been the acting first officer?”

    “He was. But I suppose Star entrusted me with the mission. And yes, you are right, normally the first officer, or perhaps acting first officer, would have led an away mission like this. It was, however, a heavily armed away team, made up mostly of Marines. Star expected trouble and she entrusted me to deal with it.”

    He nodded. “More than that, I’d say. She entrusted you to deal with any trouble and still find a way to open a dialogue. Which you did.”

    “Yes. So what?”

    "I'm just conscious that your relationship with our first officer hasn't always been one based on trust. In fact, while we were working together on Gedar's murder case last year, you very nearly threw me out of your office the moment you realized I had been ordered by Commander Star to assist you.”

    She rolled her eyes. "Right. Star and I didn't get along well. That's no secret. We both got over it. Why would you want to bring this up again? I thought part of your job was to fix things that might be broken, not try to examine the things that were eventually fixed."

    “I know that your relationship significantly improved and don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of trying to explore the cause for this. I have my suspicions but I’m certain neither one of us would like to dwell on those.”

    That dark look returned. “Good. Let’s move on. You’re running out of time.”

    “I’d like to focus on why you were so upset about Commander Star joining Eagle in the first place. You had a lot of anger over this at the time. As you said, it wasn’t a secret and easy to discern even to the untrained eye.”

    "You're kidding, right? She was a criminal, she pretty much admitted to this. She was following orders which not only ran counter to ours but I'm fairly sure would be considered illegal in a court martial. In fact, she had already been convicted in a previous one and sent to prison for getting people killed. The only reason she was let go was because of the war and the urgent need for experienced personnel."

    Clancy nodded. “And I can see how all that would lead to some resentment, sure. But the captain trusted her enough to become his permanent first officer. She’s risked her own life on multiple occasions to save hundreds, if not thousands of lives. Most of the crew had started to accept her when you were still furious about her being on this ship. And you remained furious until whatever happened between the two of you behind closed doors during the Gedar case. What I’m trying to figure out is where your anger came from. Why you were fighting her for so long after everyone else seemed to have accepted her being here.”

    Nora simply stared back at him, saying nothing, her face an unreadable mask. The silence lasted almost an entire minute, neither one of them attempting to break it.

    Then she stood up suddenly. “You know what? This was just as pointless of an exercise as I thought it’d be and I’m done with it. I trust you know your way out,” her voice was cold as ice.

    Clancy left his chair. “I’ll leave if that’s what you want, Laas. But until you decide to face that question, I’m not sure you will get better. I think that panic attack you suffered, it could be just the beginning and sooner or later you or somebody you care about could get seriously hurt.”

    Nora said nothing.

    “You tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it. I can go back to Doctor Katanga and tell him that I could find nothing wrong with you and no reason at all to keep you from your duties. I can tell him that the episode you experienced must have been a fluke, brought on by too little sleep and poor diet. But until you truly confront your pain over the loss of Gene Edison, I don't think that would be the truth, and eventually, it will catch up with you in a very bad way."

    When Nora still refused to talk, he nodded slowly and walked back towards the exit.


    He stopped just as the door panels had opened for him and he looked back at her. She had tears in her eyes and her voice had sounded small and weak. He came back towards her, allowing the doors to close behind him again and they sat down next to each other on the couch.

    “What do I do?” she asked. “How do I stop feeling like this? Like I lost something of myself, something I can never get back. How do I stop feeling like this all the time?”

    “It’s not going to be easy,” he said as she leaned her head against his shoulder. “I’d be lying to you if I told you it was. Losing someone you loved is never easy and it shouldn't be. But Laas, I don't think you ever truly grieved for him either. He died nearly two years ago and from all, I can tell, you just went on with your life as normal."

    “There was a war going on,” she said, quietly.

    “That war ended five months ago.”

    “So now what?”

    "You're no stranger to losing people, I know this because of your background. As a Starfleet officer, as a Marine, and certainly, while you were fighting the Cardassians on your homeworld. You must have lost people close to you before. How did you grief for them?"

    She reached back for her juice and took another sip as if to give her strength to speak about this. "I don't think I ever allowed myself to get as close to anyone as I did with Gene. My sister died when we escaped Bajor together. That was hard for me, not just because I loved her but also because after she was gone, I was alone. And for the next few years, I was pretty much on my own, drifting aimlessly from one refugee camp to the next. I remember that I cried a lot back then."

    “Bajorans have always been a very spiritual people,” said Clancy. “I know that many point to that faith as the reason your people were able to overcome the occupation.”

    But Nora shook her head. "I never had much use for the prophets, I don't know why. Maybe because my sister didn't truly believe in them. But I know that many others did and they drew strength from it. But that was never me. In some ways, I envied true believers. To have something they could believe in so strongly and without reservations."

    Clancy thought about this for a moment. “I have an idea,” he said and stood. “If you’re willing.”

    She nodded slowly. “If it rids me of this pain, I’m willing to try whatever it takes.”
    Gibraltar and Galen4 like this.
  12. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Nora's finally opening up, which is a good thing. it's a shame she has so much pain to work through, but given her history, it's totally understandable. We've also touched on some interesting Eagle history here as well, which is another reminder that I have a lot of back reading to catch up on.

    It will be very interesting to see where these compelling interpersonal relationships all end up!
    CeJay likes this.
  13. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    Clancy had invited Nora to join him in one of Eagle’s holodecks the next morning. She had very nearly changed her mind before she had finally decided to take him up on his offer and find out what it was that he thought might help her overcome the feelings of despondency and loss she had only recently realized had been plaguing her.

    It had been somewhat of a revelation that the reason she had been feeling so miserable lately, and in fact had passed out while working with Leva—something she still could barely remember happening at all—was all related to Gene Edison's death. Gene had been the only man she had ever truly loved and while their relationship had lasted mere months, it had been the most intense she had ever experienced.

    Clancy had been right that she had not grieved his passing. At least not for long. She had mostly blamed herself for his death—after all, he had died saving her life—and had punished herself over and over again by painstakingly revisiting the moments of his death in her head and rehashing all the things she could have done differently to ensure his survival, even at the cost of her own.

    In the immediate aftermath of Gene’s death, her life had been too busy to spend much time thinking about what she had lost. There had been a war to fight. And according to Clancy—she still wasn't totally convinced it was true—she had turned her grief and her anger towards Tazla Star, the woman who had come to replace Edison.

    But she couldn’t deny that since the war had ended, and since her relationship with Star had somewhat normalized, she had felt a growing and painful hole inside of her. She had worked hard to pretend it didn’t exist, keeping herself occupied and distracted, but apparently, and according to Clancy, denial was not a good way of dealing with grief.

    She had been very hesitant about Clancy’s idea about using the holodeck because to her the holodeck was nothing more than a training tool, not unlike visiting the gym. She went there to exercise and to drill members of her team by running through various combat scenarios.

    She understood of course that most crewmembers liked to use the holodeck as a form of escapist entertainment, she had even taken part in a few of them herself on occasions, but in truth it had never much appealed to her as such, and the idea that Clancy was going to use it as some sort of counseling instrument made her downright uncomfortable.

    Her worst fears—that he had recreated Bajor during the occupation or even worse, had created a holographic version of Eugene Edison she was forced to face, were seemingly alleviated when she stepped through the heavy doors and found herself inside an alien-looking temple.

    There was no denying that the building had a spiritual function, considering the serene environment, the pleasant smell of incense in the air, and the numerous colorful decorations, many of which reminded her of the decorations she had seen in Clancy’s quarters the last time she had been there.

    She would never have guessed when she had first met Alex Clancy, especially since he was a human, but the assistant counselor had turned out to be quite a spiritual man.

    The hall she found herself in wasn’t very large and was open on all four sides to allow for a stunning view of the immense mountain range which completely surrounded it and in which this refuge was nestled in. The highest peaks, which by her estimation were only a few kilometers distant, were covered in snow and yet the temperature was mild and comfortable. In all likelihood, this was thanks to the climate settings of the program and not an actual reflection of the real location it was stimulating.

    She spotted three larger-than-life statues of sitting men inside the hall itself. All three had long beards and wore flowing robes, all seemed to have ancient wisdom carved deep into their eyes as they stared down at her.

    “I see you have met the Three Pure Ones.”

    Nora turned to find Clancy. He had exchanged his Starfleet uniform for a bright red robe which looked not too different to those the statues were clad in.

    “These are your gods?”

    He nodded with a smile. “Something like that.”

    She looked around. “This is very nice. Very serene,” she said and then glanced out towards the mountains again. “And quite the view. Where are we?”

    “A place called Tibet down on Earth. These mountains form part of the Himalayas which have some of the highest peaks anywhere on Earth. It’s actually even more stunning seeing the real thing. I’m sure we can arrange a proper visit but for now, I think this simulation will suffice for our purposes.”

    She nodded as she turned back to look over the hall with all its spiritual decorations and symbology. “So, are you trying to convert me to your religion?”

    He shook his head. "Not at all. In fact, this isn't about religion, it doesn't even have to be about spirituality. But I think some Taoist concepts might work for you. Worth a try if you're willing."

    “What do we do? And should I change first?” she said, considering his robes and then her uniform which suddenly seemed terribly out of place.

    “Whatever you are most comfortable in.”

    The truth was that Nora had always been most comfortable wearing the uniform, it was simple and straightforward, it stood for something she could believe in and it removed the necessity for her having to worry about what to wear. There had always been something reassuring about putting on a Starfleet uniform.

    She made one concession however and unzipped and discarded her gray-shouldered jacket, leaving her in her gold shirt, black pants, and boots. "Alright. So tell me about this Daoism. What's it all about?"

    He smiled at her. “In short, it’s about living in balance with the universe. But maybe more so, it’s about accepting who you are as a person and coming to terms with it.”

    Nora frowned, not fully understanding his rather cryptic description.

    Clancy shook his head. "You know what, let's not worry about the deeper meaning of the philosophy. As I said, I'm not trying to convert you to a belief system or a set of rules. All this," he said, indicating their surroundings, "it's just ambiance. An environment to allow you to relax and meditate. I usually come here once a week and I think it helps me tremendously to center myself. Perhaps the same can work for you as well."

    She nodded slowly. “I suppose I said I was willing to give this a chance. How does it work?”

    “The aim is to attain true inner peace, to identify the things that trouble you, to see them inside yourself and to excise them. Now I’m not saying that this will solve all your problems, and certainly not on your first attempt, but it might be the first step in the right direction,” he said and then sat down. Nora watched him take on a pose in which he fully crossed his legs so that his feet were resting on his thighs. She had to admit that she was surprised how limber he was since she had already proven on occasions that she was by far more athletic. “This is a classic meditation position but you don’t have to—“

    She managed to replicate the pose after only a couple of tries and then shot him a smile. “Agility has never been a problem for me.”

    "Of course not," he said, returning her smile. "Now the key to this is to find a way for your body to remain very still. People who have practiced this kind of meditation for years can usually remain in such a state for hours, but for now, let's just try this for a few minutes at a time."

    She nodded, “I can do a few minutes of this.”

    “Good. Posture will also help, try to keep your spine erect and your hands in your lap.”

    Nora watched him do it and then quickly followed suit.

    “Next comes breathing,” he said. “It’s the most important part. Breathe through your nose and deeply, make full use of your lungs, and fill them from the bottom up, using your diaphragm.”

    Again Clancy demonstrated and Nora was quickly able to follow his example.

    “As you breathe in I want you to focus your mind on yourself. On everything that has been bothering you over the years, think about the pain and the hurt you have been feeling. Accept that it is part of you, part of who you are.”

    She did her best to do just that, to visualize Gene Edison and what he had meant to her, and the terrible pain she had felt, a pain so powerful it had been difficult to breathe when he had died on an insignificant rock of a planet in the middle of nowhere. And not just pain but also anger. Anger at herself for having been unable to save him, and anger at the shapeshifter who had delivered the killing strike but also anger at him for having jumped in its way to shield her and taking the lethal blow which had been meant for her for himself instead.

    “Imagine the air you are taking in acting like a healing light and allow it to fill your entire body, from your head to deep down to your toes. As you breathe out, I want you to visualize all that pain escaping your body alongside it.”

    And so she did. She let it all go, let it escape out of her nose as if it was nothing more than a vapor, hot air which had infected her body and could be gotten rid of as easily as exhaling.

    “Continue to breathe,” he said, “continue to focus on your breathing and your life, your thoughts, and the pain and anger inside of you as it slips out of your body for good.”

    But Nora struggled to keep her thoughts that focused. And it wasn’t the posture that gave her a hard time, certainly not the breathing, or the pleasant smelling air and the calm surroundings. Her mind simply refused to cooperate. The pain she thought she was exhaling, it felt as if she was simply taking it back inside her with the next inhale. It seemed impossible not to think of the emptiness Gene’s death had left inside of her and even worse, the blame over his death that had stayed with her ever since that fateful day.

    She had been responsible for his death and as a result, she had sabotaged her own life and happiness. She had allowed his slaughter and by doing so she had not only let him down, she had let down everyone else who had counted on her to keep him safe, everyone who had known and loved him.

    After just a couple of minutes, she uttered a heavy sigh and stood up again. “This isn’t working.”

    Clancy looked up at her. “You have to give it a chance, Laas.”

    But she shook her head. "I'm trying, I really am, but this just isn't me," she said and looked around the temple. "Don't get me wrong, this is all very beautiful and I get how it is supposed to have a calming effect on me but in reality, none of this means anything to me. And I can't just will myself to feel better about myself. I'm not built that way."

    Clancy stood as well. “I told you, this isn’t some sort of magic cure. You cannot expect immediate results. You are on a journey, Laas. We are just taking a very small, first step.”

    “I know what you're trying to do, and I'm thankful for it but this is never going to work," she said, looking him right into the eye. "I just cannot do this, I'm sorry.” And with that, she turned her back and left he holographic temple behind.
    Gibraltar and Galen4 like this.
  14. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Nora's making progress at least. She gave Clancy's therapy session a go and even admitted to what's really eating her. There's hope, now. I'm sure it will be a long process and it will be interesting to see how she journeys through this.

    I can see that Eagle's crew really needed this shore leave, even if it's not been all together relaxing.
    It will be fun to see how they all gel together again once Eagle resumes her voyages.
    CeJay likes this.
  15. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    She found a message from Alex Clancy waiting for her on her computer terminal the next morning after she had woken up.

    Laas, I’m sorry I cannot speak to you today as I have been asked to join a conference on the starbase on short notice. I suppose you were right and meditation may not be the right choice for you after all. However, I did mention a journey and I am hoping you would give me one more chance at helping you with it. If you are willing to take up this challenge, I have provided some instructions on an expedition of a different kind with this message. It will not be easy, and it will require both effort and persistence from you, but I think you just might find what you’ve been looking for once you reach your destination.

    Nora couldn’t deny that she wasn’t at least somewhat intrigued by the message as well as the directions he had left for her. And while she was still certain that the holodeck session of the previous day, even though meant well by Clancy, had not had the intended effect on her, she was willing to give him another chance. She owed it to him to at least try, but probably even more so, she owed it to herself.

    She also quickly realized that he had not exaggerated when he had claimed that she needed to be persistent. While the notes were a little on the vague side, it was obvious that what he had proposed was not just a journey in the literal sense, but in fact, an actual trip which would keep her busy for at least the next week.

    Nora smiled to herself. Clancy knew her better than she would have given him credit for. She was not a person to easily back down from a challenge.

    She packed lightly, considering her destination, did some research on the likely weather she would encounter and dressed accordingly. Then, after ensuring everything else onboard was squared away and could wait a few days until her return, she sat out via shuttle towards the starting point of this journey Clancy had put together for her and which he believed would help her in some way or form she still wasn’t quite able to perceive.

    It didn’t matter. She had decided to see this through to the end.

    She landed the shuttle in a city called La Paz in the Andes highlands of South America and inside a nation state known as Bolivia. She had never been to this part of Earth before, but then, of course, she had never traveled the planet extensively even while she had been at the Academy. She had been too busy working hard on the academic side of her studies which she had struggled with mightily after having spent almost her entire youth as an independence fighter on Bajor.

    La Paz was a bustling city and it took her a while to get her bearings. Clancy's instructions had her traveling North via one of Earth's most ancient forms of transportation; an old-fashioned train guided along on metal tracks and apparently still in use in favor of more contemporary, high-speed vehicles. Judging from the type of passengers she encountered on the train, it was mostly tourists who chose to travel in this manner.

    She exchanged the train for a boat once she reached Lake Titicaca, which she learned was not only the largest lake on the continent but one of the highest on the entire planet as far as surface elevation was concerned.

    Nora had never been a big fan of boats, harboring a somewhat irrational fear of the ocean, but while Titicaca was a sprawling body of water, she was somewhat appeased by the fact that it was nothing more than a very large lake.

    Once she had crossed it lengthwise she nevertheless found herself relieved to be back on dry land as she continued to travel further north and into Peru. She found herself mesmerized by the beauty and diversity of the region which in some areas reminded her of the mountains of Rakantha province where she had grown-up.

    The flora and fauna, of course, were very different and she was particularly fascinated by a flock of peculiar looking birds she encountered wadding through a shallow lake. They stood on two very long legs, even though they seemed to prefer just balancing on one at a time, had bright pink plumage and very long S-shaped necks which seemed to come in handy to bend all the way down into the water and find their meal. It was by far one of the oddest creatures she had ever seen and yet also an undeniably graceful one.

    Nora eventually reached a clearly ancient town by the name of Cusco located in a valley she learned had once been the center of an advanced civilization which had long since disappeared.

    Had she visited this place for sightseeing, she thought she could have easily spent days exploring the many historic locations the city had to offer. Instead, she continued on higher and deeper into the mountains, this time making use of an even older type of train, this one pulled by an ancient-looking and steam-powered locomotive.

    Realizing that her journey would take her close to one of the great wonders of Earth history, Clancy had made allowances in his instructions for a visit to Machu Picchu, the ruins of an Incan citadel built on the very top of a steep mountain, rising over two thousand meters above sea level.

    Nora was not deterred by the steep hike up to the peak even if it had been some years since she had last attempted such a trek—they had been commonplace fighting a guerilla war against the Cardassians when she had been but a child—and thanks to her role as security chief she kept herself in prime physical condition, which usually meant starting each day running multiple laps around Eagle’s saucer section.

    The ruins were indeed a sight to behold, and even more so was the stunning setting of the mountaintop and the partially cloud-shrouded peaks all around her. She had heard of this place before, seen pictures of it, but those she found paled in comparison to the real thing.

    The site was clearly a popular destination for both human and alien tourists and she didn't spend too much time there, but she didn't move on without promising herself to return some day to tour the ruins properly.

    She left the tourists behind as she continued to travel even further north as to Clancy’s directions. She followed ancient winding trails down the mountain and then up again, many of which looked as if they hadn’t seen much use in centuries and requiring her to exercise great focus on caution in order to avoid an errant step which could have led to her tumbling down the mountain. This, after all, wasn't the holodeck, there weren't any safety protocols in place here other than her own judgment.

    She got lost a few times in this unfamiliar world, relying heavily on her travel padd to get her back on track, a handy tool which easily located her position but refused to tell her exactly what she would find at the end of this excursion.

    On a number of occasions, she was forced to use her rock climbing gear as she had to traverse otherwise impassable terrain. She slept in a tent for three consecutive nights without encountering another soul save for wild llamas, many kinds of birds, including large and mighty-looking condors, soaring in the blue skies above and a close run-in with a cougar who had clearly not been happy about sharing his hunting grounds with this two-legged outsider and which had very nearly led to Nora resorting to using her phaser.

    She sustained herself by eating Starfleet ration packs which she didn’t mind at all and had gotten quite used to during her stint as a marine and in fact had seemed like a lavish meal compared to the scraps she’d scrounged together for food as a resistance fighter. She also had to endure some difficult weather conditions during her trek, including a couple of rain storms which had forced her to seek shelter in her sturdy tent for hours at a time.

    It wasn’t until her third night that she had considered how much she was actually enjoying herself. Not just exploring this wild and beautiful land, the unfamiliar flora and fauna she encountered on a daily basis, but also the way she was entirely focused on the trek itself, on the challenging terrain, on where to set up camp and when to seek shelter and on relying mostly on her wits and abilities instead of on the technology she usually depended on daily. It also felt somewhat liberating to be doing all this by herself for change, with nobody else around to assist her.

    It was a life affirming experience that kept her totally engaged in her own survival, and only much later did she realize that during the majority of her journey she had hardly thought at all about her duties back on Eagle, the war she had helped fight or the people she had lost.

    She was beginning to think that perhaps Clancy had sent her onto this journey not so much to reach a destination but perhaps for the journey itself. That was until her fourth day in the wild and after climbing the steepest and trickiest rock wall yet—one that had caused her to slip and nearly pummel to her death at least a couple of times—that she realized that there had been some other purpose to all this after all.

    After a challenging ascent, she pulled herself up to find herself on an expansive mountain plateau which unsurprisingly featured yet another, smaller range in the near distance. But differently to most others, she had encountered over the last few days, she actually spotted the first signs of human habitation since she had left Machu Picchu behind.

    She was able to make out more details of the settlement built into the mountain as she began to cross the plateau. It looked very much like an old-fashioned village, too small to be called a town, with high walls, just a handful of buildings and a central structure, not unlike a keep complete with tall towers. But what struck her most of all was how familiar it all looked. She couldn’t immediately place it, not until she got closer and was able to see more details of those domed spires.

    Nora felt her heart beat faster as she realized that the architectural style was unmistakable. It wasn’t an Earth-style. It was Bajoran.

    It was a vedek temple.

    Both excited and fascinated, she picked up the pace, crossing the plateau and then hiking up a path towards the village until she reached the gates. Any final doubts of what she had found were quickly dispelled when she encountered the Bajoran signs which identified this place as a Bajoran vedek retreat built nearly forty years ago by Bajoran exiles who had escaped the homeworld during the Cardassian occupation.

    She wasn’t surprised that she had never heard of this place, after all she had never put much effort into connecting with her own people after arriving on Earth and certainly not in any kind of spiritual way and yet she was completely awestruck by discovering a little bit of her homeworld on this planet so very far away.

    As she passed the walls she felt as if she had been transported back to Bajor. She had never had much use for religion, even as a child, but she had visited temples on a few occasions and what she found here looked almost exactly the way she remembered it, including a beautifully manicured and serene garden. She spotted at least half a dozen Bajorans wearing bright orange vedek robes, meditating or tending to this oasis.

    She dropped her backpack and for a moment simply stared, taking it all in, surprised not just by what she had found but also by the feelings suddenly washing over her. It was a sense of euphoria she couldn’t fully comprehend.

    One of the vedeks spotted her, an older man with a thick white beard, and walked over to her. “Welcome,” he said and smiled at her. “We have been expecting you.”

    She simply nodded, her words were stuck in her throat somewhere.

    The vedek reached out for her ear the same way she remembered vedeks do when she had been a child and something she had always found rather vexing.

    She felt none of that now, instead she welcomed the touch, as well as the vedek’s complete disregard of the fact that she wasn’t wearing the traditional earring which signified a Bajoran’s faith and her decision not to wear it which had often irked other Bajorans and particularly vedeks.

    But this man simply continued to smile at her. “The prophets have guided you to us, Nora Laas. Are you ready to embrace their love?”

    She had been asked this question many times before on Bajor and her answer had always been the same. Her primary concern had always been fighting and killing Cardassians, not praying to some sort of abstract gods living in a temple in the sky who had seemingly no tangible interest in helping the Bajoran people fighting off their oppressors. Faith, as far as she had been concerned, had been the refuge of the weak and those who weren't able to fight by using a real weapon.

    And yet in that moment, many light-years from the place she had been born and where she had grown up, many years after she had left that world behind her, she thought she could feel the one thing that had eluded her all this time.

    She thought she could feel the love of the prophets.

    Nora Laas smiled.
    Gibraltar and Galen4 like this.
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    The Audacity of Youth

    Back Then


    Elijah Katanga was absolutely convinced that he had hit the jackpot when he had chosen the relatively unknown world of Yura II as the shore leave destination for himself and is close friend Dezwin Sigus.

    After all who could argue with the marvelous azure, cloudless skies, the pleasantly warm weather—just a little bit on the hot side—and the mild and refreshing breeze. And then, of course, there were the seemingly endless, sandy beaches, the water just as azure as the sky above.

    More importantly perhaps were the people. Even though they were not used to many alien visitors, after having endured a dictatorial and xenophobic regime for the better part of half a century, which had only recently been disposed of following a long and bloody civil war.

    None of this was obvious from the welcoming manner Eli, Dez and a small group of other offworld visitors had been received by not just the officials looking after the local region they had chosen for their shore leave but also by everyone else they had come in contact with from the shop vendors, the waiting staff in the restaurants and the hotel to the random people they encountered on the streets.

    “According to this, Yura II was ruled by the Kindred, a religious minority with control over the military. The Kindred were able to maintain a kleptocracy for over two hundred years. A state of virtual civil war had existed for the last twenty years or so and came to an end only five years ago when the rebel forces took control of the government. Since then the transitional leadership has invited foreign delegates to help reshape their government, which is currently heavily modeled after a technocracy with the formerly repressed technical elite in power. According to Federation guidelines, all visiting Starfleet personnel is strongly advised not to interfere with any political activity or otherwise get involved in strictly internal affairs as defined by the Prime Directive or face disciplinary action.

    Reading this, I don’t know if coming here was such a great idea considering this planet’s turbulent, recent history. We could have gone to Trill for shore leave. That’s a world a lot less complicated,“ Dezwin said without once looking up from his padd.

    Eli rolled his eyes, having grown tired of Dez reading from the padd he had brought to the beach while they were lying next to each other on two comfortable deck chairs. “Every time we go back to Trill we spend half our time helping your parents on their farm. That’s not what I call shore leave.”

    “I always found a bit of manual labor quite cathartic. Besides, it's fun to operate all that heavy machinery. And there is more than enough time to check out all the great sights on weekends.”

    Eli reached over to him and with two fingers slowly pushed the padd downward. “There are plenty of great sights right here.”

    “Hey, I was reading—“

    That’s as far as Dez got until he spotted the two pretty young women who stood directly in their line of sight, in ankle-deep water, wearing revealing swim wear and watching the two offworlders with amused giggles.

    “What does your padd say about the locals?”

    “Friendly,” he said without having to double check and giving the two women a beaming grin. “Very, very friendly.”

    “I think we should put that to a test,” said Eli and jumped out of his chair to head towards the two women.

    “Never could say no to you,” said Dez and promptly followed.

    It turned out the two women, Melna and Derla, were indeed extremely friendly and curious about Eli and Dez, intrigued by the human’s dark skin and the Trill’s leopard-like spots. And while the Yurians were humanoid and a fairly close anatomical match to both humans and Trill, dark skin and body markings were unknown on their world.

    The two pairs quickly connected, Melna and Derla just as happy to talk to the two alien visitors about their world as Eli and Dez were to answer questions about the Federation and the galaxy beyond Yura II. They spent most of the morning and afternoon together, first on the beach, then exploring nearby caves, until they found themselves a local restaurant in the later afternoon where the two young women introduced them to the strange and exciting, new cuisine.

    “So you’re both doctors?” Melna asked over dessert as the conversation had drifted to their respective occupations.

    “Not exactly,” said Eli. “Dez here is training to become a doctor. I’m just a lowly corpsman.”

    “With high ambitions,” the Trill quickly added. “Still thinking about nurse training, aren’t you?”

    He just shrugged. “Maybe. We’ll see.”

    “Such a noble profession. Being a doctor, a nurse or just any occupation where you are helping people,” said Derla

    “Don’t be fooled,” said Eli with a smirk. “Dez here has been putting off taking his final medical admissions test for two years now. Some days I think he’s only studying to be a doctor so he can meet and impress women.”

    “Hey,” Dez protested, “those tests are not easy, one needs to be prepared. Just because you’ve done yours already doesn’t give you the right to throw this into my face.”

    Melna sidled up closer to the Trill sitting next to her, a wicked smile on her full lips. “Well, if the plan was to meet women, it seems to have worked.”
    He reciprocated the smile with one of his own. “It does help.”

    “That and being from another planet,” said Derla who clearly had taken a liking to Elijah.

    Dez nodded. “And it would be a shame to end our joint, interspecies exploration so early. The night is still young. What’s up next? A walk on the beach under the moonlight?”

    “Moonlights,” corrected Eli, referring to the three moons already visible in the darkening sky.

    “Whatever you have in mind,” said Derla and stood, “I’m afraid it will have to be without me. At least tonight.”

    “Say it ain’t so,” said Eli, clearly disappointed by her departure. “Is it something I said?”

    She quickly shook her head. “Not at all. And I’m still eager to learn more about your Federation. But it’s my turn to look after my father tonight, I’m afraid.”

    “Is he not well?” said Dez.

    She shook her head sadly. “They say he’s got the Crimson Flu.”

    “Oh no,” said Melna quickly. “I’m so sorry. Is he on the list.”

    Derla nodded slowly. “Yes but not very high. We don’t think he’s going to hold out,” she forced a smile onto her lips. “I’m sorry, I wouldn’t be very good company tonight either way. It was a pleasure to meet you both and I hope we will see each other again. Have a good evening all.”

    And with that she quickly left the restaurant, leaving the others behind.

    Dez, his medical curiosity piqued, turned to the friend she had left behind. “What is this Crimson Flu?”

    “I’m not entirely certain. It’s a disease that’s been around for a long time, I think. It’s gotten worse over the last few years.”

    “But there is a cure?” asked Eli.

    She nodded. “Yes, a vaccine. But it is rare and strictly rationed. If you have the Crimson Flu you go on a list for the vaccine. But unless you are part of the Technologist sect, your chances aren’t very good. They are even worse if you are a former Kindred like Derla’s family. It’s not fair, they never even supported the government during the war, but now they are being punished just by association.”

    “Not just unfair,” said Eli, “sounds outright criminal if you ask me.”

    “Maybe,” said Dez, “but keep in mind this is a different culture and we know very little about it”

    But Eli shook his head. “Fair is fair, here or anywhere else. And this isn’t.”

    "We thought it would be different after the war with the old regime gone," said Derla. "But sometimes it feels nothing has changed except the names of the people who make the rules.”

    “Sounds about right,” said Dez.

    “How can you say that?” Eli protested. “Nothing about this is right.”

    "I know that. I just mean that I have heard about this kind of thing before. In a lot of places. After a big war, the common people are the last ones to ever benefit,” said the Trill.

    "And in the meantime, they are left to die?"

    "As much as I enjoy a philosophical discussion, particularly one about my own people, from the perspective of outsiders, no less, I think I really should go and look after Melna. Help her any way I can."

    As she stood, Eli and Dez quickly followed suit.

    “Please, accept my apologies. I didn’t mean to be judgmental,” Eli said quickly after realizing he might have been at fault for her decision to leave.

    “No, that’s fine. And for what it’s worth, I do believe you are correct about what you are saying about our ways. We should catch up again soon and before you leave. Thank you for a wonderful day.”

    “The pleasure was ours,” said Dez before she too left them behind.

    The two of them sat back down and remained silent for a moment until Eli stood suddenly and walked off with a determined pace.

    “I don’t think I like that look on your face,” said Dez and then followed him outside. It turned out that his friend was making a beeline back to their hotel room and by the time he had caught up with him, he found Eli already sitting in front of their desk and the computer terminal that had been provided for their use.

    “What are you doing?”

    He didn't speak straight away, to preoccupied with trying to figure out how this alien technology worked. But it wasn't long until he found what he had been looking for. "They have a publicly accessible information network here. Just wondering what they may have on this Crimson Flu.”

    “Where are you going with this, Eli?” Dez asked, unable to mask the suspicion in his voice as he looked over his friend’s shoulder.

    “We are medical professionals. At least one of us is trying to become one,” he added. “I think as such we should research a potential viral epidemic on the very same planet we are currently staying on.”

    “Right,” said Dez, sounding unconvinced.

    “Here we go,” said Eli once he had found what he was looking for, searching through the publicly available records. “The Crimson Flu is apparently caused by a negative-sense, single-stranded, segmented RNA virus which causes mild to severe influenza symptoms with a fifteen to twenty percent fatality rate with elderly persons most at risk.”

    “Okay, that sounds a lot like a type-A influenza virus. Very common on most worlds with large humanoid populations. The fatality rate is high though."

    "Well, listen to this. Apparently, an antiviral inhibitor is available for treatment but the distribution of the drug is strictly controlled and waiting times to receive the medication can be from six months to two years."

    Dez moved closer to the screen. “Six months? That is way too long for an influenza virus like this.”

    “Yes, it is. If untreated, the Crimson Flu virus can become terminal after three weeks of exposure. These records are not very clear but since this outbreak, it seems more than five million people have died from the Crimson Flu.”

    “That’s a full-blown pandemic. At least class six,” said Dez as he glanced over the screen and trying to make sense of the translated text there. “Maybe even class seven. Is there even a class seven?”

    “I don’t know but if there wasn’t before, there is one now. Right here on this planet.”

    Dez sat down on his bed. “How did something like this not make it on our official Starfleet brief?”

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yurian government has been keeping this piece of information from the Federation. It also looks as if this region doesn’t appear as badly affected as some of the larger population centers on the northern hemisphere.”

    But the Trill shook his head. “Hardly an excuse.”

    “None at all as far as I’m concerned,” Eli said, doing little to hide his outrage. “And the fact that the government is doing nothing about this virus, hoarding the antiviral agents for themselves and their supporters instead of making it available to everyone infects, makes this nothing short of genocide.”

    “That’s a strong word.”

    "It's what's going on here," said Eli and stood, walking over to his large duffel bag and after rummaging through it for a moment pulled out a hand-held, gray device.

    “You brought a tricorder on shore leave?”

    Eli shrugged his shoulders. “You never know when it may come in handy,” he said as he began to manipulate its controls, the top section popping out and the device beginning to hum and blink. “The antiviral agents won’t be hard to find, they are based on protein inhibitors, something a medical tricorder should be able to pick up easily and—here we go. Found a large concentration just three kilometers from our location.”

    “So what? You want to go and break into a medical store like some sort of drug addict and steal a whole bunch of medication? Have you lost leave of your senses? Who does something like that? Remember the Starfleet guidelines. Particularly the parts about the non-interference.”

    “I’m not saying we’re going to steal it but at the very least I’m going to have a look what they are doing with these drugs. Dez, they are purposefully withholding medication to their own populace. You can’t tell me that you can sleep easily tonight knowing that people all around you are suffering because they are being denied the very treatment they need to survive. The least we can do is get somebody to explain to us the reasoning behind this. I’m going and that’s that. Up to you what you’re going to do.” Eli slung the tricorder around his shoulder and headed for the doors.

    Dez watched them close behind him and then uttered a heavy sigh before he got up and slowly followed his friend. “I already know I’m going to regret this.”
    Gibraltar and Galen4 like this.
  17. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Glad to see Nora Laas find what she needs. I was surprised that she eventually became drawn to the Prophets. But the more I think about it, it makes sense. People recovering from trauma often discover faith while going through the healing process.

    I also liked the detail of Nora finding a Prophet temple or similar on Earth rather than Bajor. An interesting roundup to her journey.
    CeJay likes this.
  18. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Regarding "The Audacity of Youth"...

    I'm always interested in stories that start out in the past, so already hooked.
    So Eli and Dez have stumbled into a Pandemic? Wow, does anyone taking shore leave in your stories ever get a break? :)

    I'm assuming these two will attempt to save the poor slob who's on the list or even try to make a cure available to the population. Either way, I have a feeling things aren't going to work out as planned.
    Looking forward to more!
    CeJay likes this.
  19. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006

    Tazla Star leaned back in the guest chair inside the CMO’s office and scrolled through a padd. “Looks like all medical supplies are fully restocked, all facilities checked and operational and the latest crew rotations confirmed,” she said and then peeked over the padd to look at Elijah Katanga sitting behind his desk with his concentration focused on his computer terminal. “You have exactly zero patients, as to be expected while docked at a starbase containing the largest hospital in the quadrant, and none of your research requires any personal supervision at this point.”

    The doctor simply mumbled an undecipherable response.

    “So this begs the question why you are still onboard when the ship is almost deserted with the vast majority enjoying their greatly deserved shore leave.”

    “Huh?” Katanga said but didn’t seem to pay attention to any of her words.

    “Why are you not down on Earth?” Star said more forcefully.

    Katanga, startled by her tone, turned to look at her. “Why aren’t you?”

    “Don’t deflect. Besides I’m due to join the captain on his diving expedition in Australia tomorrow.”

    “Right,” he said with a smirk. “You and the captain. Looks like you’re getting all chummy, spending your shore leave together. You sure have come a long way from the days I first got here and you couldn’t stand the man.”

    Star quickly shook her head as she took her boots off the desk. “That’s not true. I mean, yes, we are much closer now but I never disliked Owens. If anything I’ve been incredibly grateful for everything he’s done for me.”

    “Oh please, from what you’ve told me he had no choice in keeping you on. And for the first year or so you were a first officer in name only the way he kept you on his leash.”

    She nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “There were… trust issues. But I don’t blame him for that. I had some baggage. Still do.”

    “Whatever you say. At least he finally sees your true value.”

    She offered him a wide, almost overdone smile. “So touching the way you look out for me. I remember a time when things were the other way around.”

    Katanga uttered a little laugh to that. "You, looking out for me? When was that ever the case?"

    “I can think of a few instances when you would have gone off the rails if it hadn’t been for my calming and reasonable influence. In fact, I wanted to speak to you about one of those times.”

    He shot her a quizzical expression.

    “Yura II.”

    “Must we?” he said with a groan. “That was a million years ago.”

    “Close. Sixty-two.”

    “That’s a lifetime.”

    She shot him a sweet smile. “Yes, but see for us Trill one lifetime is actually not such a big deal.”

    “Lucky you,” he said. “Still, the less said about Yura II the better. Hell, I hardly even remember most of it.”

    Star became more serious as she sat up straighter in her chair. “Looks like we don’t have much of a choice in the matter. The captain spoke to me about this earlier this morning. It looks like there are some important mining rights that are due to expire and the Federation really cannot afford losing these to another bidder right now. Apparently the Yura system possesses dense gallicite deposits which are critical for the Starfleet rebuilding effort.”

    “What does any of this have to do with us?”

    Star hesitated for a moment, trying to find the best words for what she needed to say next. “Certain influential persons on Yura II appear to have better memories than you do. They remember our visit there quite well and will not agree to resign the treaty until certain concessions have been made."

    Katanga fixed her with a dark scowl. “What kind of concessions?”

    “An apology.”

    He looked dumbstruck. “An apology for something that happened over sixty years ago that most people—who are not Trill—have long since forgotten? This is ridiculous.”

    “I completely agree.”

    “Good,” he said and then turned back to look at his terminal as if this had put the matter to bed.

    Unfortunately, Star knew better. “They expect us to issue a formal apology for our actions,” she said after he hadn’t said anything further on this. She stood from her chair. “Seeing that you don’t recall any of the details, I figured I just draft something for the both of us. I'll let you have a quick look at it when I'm done."

    “Wait a minute,” he said before she could slip out of the door. “I didn’t agree to issue any kind of apology.”

    “You implied it yourself, this is nothing more than silly political posturing by an old man who holds a grudge. We’re both above these kinds of things. Let’s just hammer something out quickly, get it issued and everyone’s happy.”

    “I’m not happy,” he said with an exasperated sigh. “Who put you up to this? It’s Owens, isn’t it?”

    She shrugged. “Honestly, it’s not a big deal.”

    “Yes, yes it is, Dez,” he said, calling her by the name of her former host as he was sometimes wont to do. “What we did back then, it was the right thing. We were right and they were wrong. I’m not going to apologize for being right.”

    “I thought you didn’t remember.”

    “It’s coming back to me now,” he said. “And I stand by my actions. All of them. If you want to apologize for yours, that’s fine, but I encourage you to stand by your principles, I know I will. And I won’t compromise them to satisfy a starship captain who wasn’t even alive back when all this took place.”

    “It’s not just that, Eli.”

    “Really? What then if not to ingratiate yourself further with that man? I bet you didn’t even bat an eyelash when he asked you to do this. He probably mentioned this offhand and you just agreed, not considering for even a moment that what we did back then made a difference for a lot of people. That it was the right thing to do and if we were placed in that exact same position once more, we wouldn’t hesitate to make the same choices all over again.”

    Star hesitated for a moment when she realized the truth of his words. At least as far as how Owens had approached her about the apology that had been demanded from her and from Elijah Katanga. And he was also correct that she hadn't thought much about it at the time. Maybe he was right, after all, maybe she had been too eager to please her captain to even consider turning down the request.

    He carried on as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. "Don't compromise your own ethics just to humor others, Taz. If there is one thing I've learned over the many years practicing medicine, this is it. And you know who taught me that? A very good friend of mine," he said and pointed at her stomach where he knew her slug-like symbiont lived. "Why don't you go ask him to see what he would do?"
    Gibraltar likes this.
  20. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Hey CeJay,

    I have been terrible about reading your works. I did read the Leva/Donatra story and I thought it was a nice follow-up to the Dominion War story. I like your take on Donatra, helping to 'humanize' her, more so even than we saw in Nemesis. And it actually does set up her change of heart in that movie.

    I also liked Alendra and I hope things work out for Leva and her down the road.
    CeJay likes this.