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Someone to open up to

Posted on Sun Nov 29th, 2015 @ 10:25pm by Lieutenant JG Victoria "Vicky" Iniya & Lieutenant Mark Whistler

Mission: Smuggler's Delight

Mark opened his eyes for the tenth time, and decided to give up on the idea of trying to get some rest. It was only afternoon ship time, but he was tired, yet every time he closed his eyes, he saw the blood that had been spilt, he saw Se'Lah practically indifferent to him, as if she was a stranger, and the bodies of his family on Turalek. He sighed. "Whistler to Iniya, do you have a few minutes?" Mark asked, tapping his comm. badge to open a channel.

Vicky was a bit groggy herself, sipping at some tea as she looked over paperwork and data. "I do. Do you prefer my place or yours?" she asked.

"Either, I need your professional assistance." Mark said, standing up and taking his hammock down.

"That sounds ominous," Vicky said with a hint of a smile in her voice. "How about you come by and have a seat on my professional fainting couch then."

Mark nodded, and left his room, making his way quickly towards Vicky's office. As he reached it, he rang the chime, and waited to be let in, just so she knew he was there, rather than bursting in.

"Come in," Vicky called, just finishing up setting out a tea set with hot ginger herbal tea. "I made up some tea you might enjoy. At least I hope you do. I grew the leaves myself."

Mark smiled as he sat down. "Appreciate that." He said, looking at her. "Thanks for seeing me on short notice."

Not mentioning how she grew those leaves, she sat down as well, pouring each of them a cup of the tea. "Any time. What's on your mind then?"

"Turalek. Se'Lah. Death." Mark said, sighing. "I can't stop seeing what happened on Turalek, and now Se'Lah doesn't even remember me."

"Yeah, the whole situation is pretty messed up," Vicky replied, picking up one of the tea cups and breathing in the aroma. "And that's my professional opinion. Let's start with your mission first then. What about it bothers you?"

"I escaped that place years ago. I knew, however, that one day I would need to return there. But I should have gone back sooner. So many good people died, and they could have been saved if I had gone back years ago and got them all off of that hell. I keep telling myself that I didn't go back because Starfleet said they would go there for me. But that wasn't it. I didn't go back...because I was scared of finding them all dead." Mark admitted.

"Fear is a powerful enemy, but it's also a friend. Perhaps that fear was holding you back until the time was right to go out there for something larger. I know you've done a lot of good since leaving and with your Starfleet training, I'm sure you were more prepared for what was to come when you did go back. Does that make sense?" Vicky said calmly as she sipped her tea. "Either way, now you have to find a way to come to terms with how things unfolded."

Mark took a sip of his drink, and looked at her. He felt the tang of the drink, and he found it a little...bitter, but it also tasted...familiar somehow. "And how do I do that? I mean, I failed my people back there, three officers are dead and someone might be making an army. Part of me wants to take a ship and hunt them all down...but I know I wouldn't even be able to manage to start that." He said, sighing.

"On top of that, the Islandica may be a powerful little ship, but she's exactly that. A single small ship." Vicky replied, hoping he enjoyed her tea leaves. "Personally, I'm glad that you came back with so many others. I mean, yes it's sad that 3 officers were lost... But they signed up for risks like these. That's one of the things that we risk wearing this uniform."

"Oh, I'm glad I could save so many, but there are many more who need help. How can anyone see the universe as it is and not want to do more?" He asked. "The damned prime directive. I hear it used so often as an excuse not to help, or a threat if we do try to help."

"The prime directive is there for a very good reason, even if it does seem to get in the way. We're not here to debate that though." Vicky replied. "in the end, what happened likely couldn't have happened any other way and suffering in the universe isn't going to simply end that easily. I hope Starfleet helps out where they can, but this is the Expanse we're talking about. It's rare for any known ships to be out here, let alone of Federation origin."

Mark nodded. "And that's one thing I think Starfleet made a mistake about, not having ships in here sooner. But knowing that there may be other Turalek's out there, how do I keep from getting the job done, whatever the cost? I don't care about the prime directive: That's most likely why my family have tried to get me out of the fleet more than once."

"Perfectly understandable. Sometimes that tenacity is needed though." Vicky said, sipping her tea once again. "How's your tea? You've hardly touched it."

"It's a little...bitter, but it reminds me of a drink I had as a kid. It was a drink that was meant to help soothe after battle. It was a little sweeter, but also had a darker color." Mark replied, taking another sip. "Of course, Turalek never grew anything like ginger, as far as I know. But then, there's a lot I don't know. We found something on the planet which...unsettled me." He said, before going into detail about the enhanced soldiers. "The question I need to know is were they planning for me and my clan to be part of their army? And if so, why are our implants so much more...advanced?"

"I'll try to eat a bit more sugar the next time I grow tea leaves then." Vicky replied, finishing off her tea. "questions like these can only be answered by others. I would keep them in mind but not dwell on them since answers aren't going to be easy to get."

Mark took in what she said, but he was grateful that she would share something like that with him. "Or I can add sugar, you don't need to put yourself out. Appreciate the effort it must have taken." He said. "I think the worst thing about this is that if I'm meant to be a weapon, does that mean others are right about me? I can kill and not even care. Does that make me a machine?"

That was a worrying thought, indeed. Vicky had a test for it though. "Could you kill me without a second thought? Would you not mourn my death if you did?" she asked, setting her empty teacup aside.

Mark thought for a moment. "Could I kill you without a second thought?" Mark asked. "Yes, I could. Would I? I'd like to think not, but that does depend on the reason. But I would definitely mourn your death." Mark said. "And I'd hunt down and kill whoever created whatever situation led me to having to kill you."

"As unsettling as your response may be, It still doesn't sound like the rationale of a machine. And if you had to kill me... I think for that I might have to abandon my pacifist ways." Vicky replied, smiling softly. It wasn't quite what she wanted, but it was close enough.

Mark looked at her. "I somehow doubt you could, though. You remind me a lot of Carrie, my sister. She could never fight, and she never wanted to. She's...well, she's not like me. She's never taken a life, and I'll never let her do so. Just like you, I'll do whatever it takes to make sure you never have to sacrifice your morals. I'm already going straight to hell. I'll be damned if good people like you go with me."

"Though I don't share in your religion, I do find it odd that you would think that you're going to hell for getting blood on your hands in the service of your ideals and so others don't have to give up theirs." Vicky mused thoughtfully. "I thought I understood the concept of religion, but I see there's much more to learn about it."

"Religion is something that people will never understand. But then, it's about faith. I'm going to hell for the lives I've taken. I've killed so many people. I'm a monster, and I've worked with monsters. I've been forced to kill men, women and children before. But I did it because I wanted to build a better world for so many others. I failed at that, and now look at what's happened."

"Because of the concept of 'sin' I assume. The histories of many races are littered with wars and killing and survival. I can't see you going to some bad afterlife based on your actions being something you were forced to do. Besides, I'm betting you made a difference in at least someone's life." Vicky replied.

Mark looked at her, and then stood up. "But does it excuse what I've done?" Mark asked. "You know, every Starfleet Counselor I've spoken to has wanted me to open up to them. I guess they wanted to know if I ever felt remorse for what I'd done. You're the first I've ever opened up to." He said. He sighed. "I've never felt remorse before. I've never felt guilty at taking a life, because I always knew it had to be done. Starfleet...they teach a kinder way, a more peaceful way, but is there a place for someone like me in this grand utopia? That's the question my family set to me, my blood family. And I always ignored them, because I didn't care, but for the first time, I felt love...and now I question so much."

Vicky stood as well. "Personally, I prefer a policy of not regretting your actions no matter what they are. I guess I'm different like that. Yes, you've taken lives. Yes, you've done what's considered to be 'evil' things. But I feel the same way now as with my prior assessment. You know the weight of a life and you know the toll of taking one. You've only reinforced that assessment, now more than ever. Is there a place for you in this Starfleet? Yes. Precisely because of your past. Does it excuse you? Legally yes, I feel you are excused and given more chances. How you take that and use it is up to you though. What you do with this knowledge determines your future from here on out." Vicky replied.

"Tell that to my family. My oldest brother is about to join the ranks to the admiralty, and they're trying to get me removed from Starfleet. The Captain wouldn't hear of it, thankfully. I did, however, swear my loyalty and my blades, my weapons, to her. She's given my people a home, and I've finally started to feel like I have a place." Mark said.

"Family is not determined by blood. It's determined by who you fight for and who fights for you." Vicky replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the universe.

"You'll never hear any argument from me, but they are still family. And you never give up on family, even if they give up on you. Is it wrong to hope that maybe they'll learn and understand? Or is it just a fool's hope?" Mark asked, sighing as he sat down again.

"I believe the saying is 'hope springs eternal.'" Vicky replied simply, also sitting back down.

"Yes, well, I need a lot of it, especially with Se'Lah. Are you aware of what happened?" He asked.

"Because of patient confidentiality, I can't reveal any personal information about her circumstances... but yes... I'm aware." Vicky said with a hint of sorrow to her voice. "The best I can recommend is to be patient."

"See, this is where karma comes and bites me in the ass. I find happiness, and then Turalek comes in and takes everything away. She was injured on Turalek, I'd bet that has something to do with the whole thing. I just...I didn't tell her, though. I had a chance to, but I thought better of it." Mark explained.

"When she switches to the personality that's been in control the past few months, open up to her." Vicky recommended. "I'm sure you'll have plenty of chances, but the sooner the better, I think. It might help avoid distress and mental troubles."

"I think she started having them when she started a relationship with me. I just...Vicky, am I insane to think any kind of relationship could work?" He asked.

"Professionally, I have seen no signs of insanity in you. As a friend, my assessment remains." Vicky replied with a soft grin. "You remain insanity free in my eyes. Just keep in mind that those issues were likely already there and you're one of the very few she reveals them to. Oftentimes, a loved one... Family... Is the only one we show our true selves to."

"Hence why I wanted to see you. I think you're the first counselor I've ever considered to be family, and so the first I've trusted. I'm glad someone thinks I'm not insane, though." Mark admitted. "I will admit, though, I'm a little surprised the Captain let me keep my people aboard. I then made an oath to her that I've never made to anyone, swearing my loyalty, and my blades, to her service, for all time. I never make that lightly. Hell, I've never made that to anyone before. My family automatically have it, naturally, and that does include you."

"Judging from the Captain's profile, I assume she sees them as an asset not linked to Starfleet. Her mission reports are replete with instances of third party usage in places Starfleet simply can't go." Vicky stated. "Thank you though. I'm not sure how to take that but as a pacifist... Well, I'm just not sure." She was a bit sheepish saying that, but she did truly appreciate it.

Mark nodded as he leant back in the chair. "It means that as long as we're around, you'll never need to break your rule of non violence. I won't let it happen. You remind me of Carrie...she's so innocent, doesn't fully grasp the darkness, which is good because it means she can never be consumed by it...and the same goes for you." Mark said. "The Captain...we had an interesting first meeting, but she has placed her trust in me, despite the Admiralty warning her not to do so. She isn't like other Captains...and Se'Lah...she is unlike any woman I met before her. I think that's why I fell in love with her so quickly."

"One of the reasons I feel at home here - so many unusual people. In a way it reminds me of the SS Sanity's End." Vicky had a teasing, lopsided grin as she said it. "Seriously though, I love being around interesting people, don't you? They always surprise you with the smallest things."

"You mean such as being able to turn into a tree?" Mark asked, with a small smile. He then adopted a more serious look. "I grew up knowing how people would act in any situation. Again, part of being on Turalek is knowing these things. But then I came out into the universe, and things were a little more difficult to understand, but I could still anticipate. This's different. I can't ever anticipate anything, and growing up that would be a weakness. Here, it's just another day in the office."

"Is that a bad thing?" Vicky asked with equal seriousness. "I mean, eventually you'll figure out the patterns everyone uses. It just takes a little time to get to know everyone."

"I honestly don't know how to answer that question Vicky. Life here...I'm reminded how lucky people are, with replicators, beds, computers, ships...anything anyone could ever want. And yet, there are people who still suffer. And Starfleet officers...most of them try to help those in need. The history of the Federation is rife with examples. People who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the innocent don't suffer. When I left Turalek, I never thought I'd ever see such a sight. But the ship I stole had information on the Federation, and during the journey, I began to read it. It sounded like a fantasy to me." Mark said.

Vicky nodded, motioning for Mark to continue.

Mark sighed. "Then I came across a Starfleet vessel, and it was commanded by one of my older brothers. I thought that perhaps I was being given a great gift. Then, of course, my oldest brother came along and cast me out of the family, for what I had done. He tried to get Carrie to stay on his ship, but she refused to leave me. Since then, my brother's have tried to get me removed from Starfleet, because I don't represent the Federation's ideal image. So I thought that was a prime example of Starfleet, and lost a lot of respect. Since being's like this is the ship I should have been found by, this crew. If I had...maybe things would be different. So no, it's not a bad thing that I can't anticipate, because I've always seen the worst in people. Maybe it is time I started seeing the best in them."

"Given the chance, most people will do what they feel is right. At least that's what I like to think." Vicky replied. "Ideal or not, I feel you're trying to do that as well."

"But that's always been the trick, hasn't it? Knowing the difference between right and wrong? People have different views on right and wrong, always have and always will. To my family, and to others, I am wrong, because I do not hesitate to kill. But in my view, they are wrong because they are hypocritical, and will likely falter in the face of real adversary." Mark said. "Who gets to decide?"

"Both are right in a way."Vicky said as if it were simple. "From each point of view, it is correct. As for a universal 'right', that's for better people and courts to decide."

"Better people? Better than who?" Mark asked. "You're better in many ways, to be sure, and so are a number of people I've worked with. But who are they better than?" He asked. He wanted to find the answers, needed to find them, now more than ever.

Vicky thought it over a moment. "It depends on your definition of better, I guess. But overall i think it's those in power that put the good of the many above the good of the few and try to help all peoples. That's a personal opinion though."

"That's the thing I've always seen it as, opinion. But only a few opinions matter to me, and none of them rank higher than Captain." Mark said. He sighed as he rubbed his eyes. "I think the worst part is Amelia. She died back on the ship, and we're not sure why yet. It feels like I failed. Some of my clan stayed behind, to help organise others and bring some semblance to peace, and to protect others. But I feel like I should be with them, yet I know there's more to this than meets the eye. Some things just don't add up."

"Reality and opinion rarely line up and truth is often obscured. I'm a bit out of my depth on that sort of thing, but I can at least recommend that you start at the beginning and work from there. Maybe you missed something in the heat of the moment." Vicky replied.

Mark nodded. "It's possible. I was talking to her just before she died, and she...she seemed fine." Mark said. He then frowned. "Wait a minute...she was about to say something. What was it?" He asked, standing up. He frowned. "She said that when she was captive, there were people talking about something..." He said. His eyes widened as he realised what she was saying. "Oh god, she said Circle. The Circle of Eternity. They're the ones behind Turalek." Mark said. "This is...I don't believe it."

Vicky smiled pleasantly. She had no idea what he was talking about, but she'd be supportive of it none the less. "That sounds like something important to remember. I assume you can do something with it now?"

"They're a terrorist group. I've been chasing them for a while now. I suspect they were the ones who wanted our deflector dish." Mark said. "They must have been trying to raise an army, but we stopped them on Turalek."

"Then I wish you luck with that. It's a bit out of my expertise, but if you ever need someone psychologically profiled, please let me know." Vicky replied, a bit lost now.

Mark nodded. "Actually, I do need you to speak to my people, see if anyone needs help. I'll also be needing your skills for interrogations when I find someone." He said.

"Consider it done. Several are already scheduled." Vicky said with a bright smile.

"Thanks Vicky." He said, returning the smile. His smile then dropped. "Now comes the hard part...tracking the bastards down."

Vicky raised her hands in mock defeat and giggled slightly. "That's all on you, I'm afraid."

"It's my speciality. It's a small galaxy for people when I'm angry with them." Mark said, the coldness in his voice clear.

"I guess good luck to them. It sounds like they'll need it against you." Vicky replied, becoming serious again.

"They'll need a Miracle." Mark said. "Thank you, Vicky." He said, before he stood up. "I'll speak with you later."


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