Trojan Horse #131, 132 - Consolation...

-=On=- Kathleen Black headed for sickbay, lost in thought. She'd been lost in thought the entire afternoon, after the talk with the captain and then with O'Driscoll. Her stride lengthened, moving faster as she neared Sickbay. She'd go in and see if Evans was ok, and then... well.... Lost in thought, she wasn't even looking where she was going.

Ryylar was walking out of Sickbay and would have smacked, Caitian into Kitty, had it not been for Ryylar's superior reflexes. He stopped and screeched to a halt before slamming into her.

"Oopssssss! My fault." He apologized with a small smile to Kitty.

Kitty blinked and slid to a halt.. literally.. almost toppling, but regaining her balance just in time. "Eep! Sorry!" She blinked and recognized Ryylar. "Uh, no, I think that one was my fault. I just wasn't looking where I was going.. I'm sorry!"

"It'sssssss ok. I've been having rrrrrrrun insssssss with a lot of people lately. Ssssssome morrrrrrre pleasssssant than otherrrrrsssss." He said with a smile, then frowning as he said that last part, remembering his conversation and near blood bath with Lieutenant Sulan.

"I hope this one wasn't unpleasant.." Kitty said with a smile, but the smile was slightly forced and she looked upset. Not as totally devastated as recently, but still quite upset.

"I've neverrrrrr been upsssssset at meeting you." He reassured her with a nod, patting her shoulder.

Kitty chuckled, but the chuckle was slightly choked in her throat. She smiled, resting her hand on his for a moment. "Thanks, Ryylar. I, um... I think I could really, REALLY use some chocolate coffee... when you can, of course." She sounded apologetic now.

"Well I'm off shift..." He said, leaving the rest of the invitation unspoken.

"...If you wouldn't mind..." Kitty said beseechingly.

"Not at all... let'ssssss go." Ryylar said, smiling a little as he moved out of sickbay towards the lounge.

"The lounge should be safe.." Kitty said, "but the last time I was in it, it developed an absolutely awesome view." She shuddered as she turned to follow him,

"Hmmmmmm well then perrrrrrrhapsssssss the sssssship'sssss kitchen would be betterrrrrr." He said.

"Sure. I'm not sure I'm ready to go back in there yet anyways..." Kitty let that sentence trail off and continued to follow Ryylar meekly.

Ryylar switched directions and made his way to the galley, searching around for the ingredients to get her the coffee.

Kitty pulled up a chair and sat uncertainly, looking a bit lost and forlorn. "How're you holding up in all this?" she finally asked.

"Krrrrrissss isssss bussssierrrrrrr than a rrrrrrrich Ferrrrrrrengi. I'm about two ssssssstepsssssss away frrrrrrom killing Lieutenant Sssssulan..." He said as he made her coffee.

Kitty blinked at that. "What, you too? What's with this ship lately?"

"She called me a cowarrrrrrrd and told me that I shouldn't be wearrrrrrring thisssss uniforrrrrrm. That sssssshe couldn't sssssssee what Petrrrrrrrova ssssssaw in me." He snarled, turning to Kitty, his anger rising as he recalled Sulan's insults.

"You didn't believe her, did you?" Kitty asked in astonishment. "That's just... well, it's not only untrue, it's ridiculous!"

"If she hadn't pulled herrrrrr phassssserrrrrrr on me and put it to my head. She'd be in the morrrrrrrgue by now." He grumbled as he finished making her chocolate coffee.

"She pulled her phaser on you?" Kitty asked, bewildered now.

"Yeah.. it'sssss the only way she could win the fight. She challenged me and told me I should attack herrrrrr and when I wasssss ssssssuccesssssful, she put the phassssssserrrrrrr to my head sssssso she wouldn't lossssssse. I'm glad Hannah left herrrrrrr. She'ssssss a lot betterrrrrrr off without that damned pointed earrrrrrrrred bitch." He growled, handing her the coffee.

Kitty closed her eyes. Her own posture seemed to droop considerably.

"I'm going to go to Captain Labrrrrrrrie and tell him what happened. You know, I deck a few rrrrracccccissssst ssssssecurrrrrrrity officccccerrrrrrsssss in my lounge afterrrrrr they harrrrasssss and asssssault one of my waitrrrrrresssssesssss and I get put in the brrrrrrrig and thrrrrrrown at a counssssssselorrrrrrr. Sssssulan goessssss ape and pullsssssssss thissssss kind of crrrrrrap and she'sssssss ssssstill in charrrrrrrge of Sssssssecurrrrrrity on thissssss ssssssship." Ryylar griped.

"I think someone should tell him," Kitty said tiredly. "I suspect it might be my job." Her hand closed around the coffee mug and she didn't seem to mind that it was still hot. "I'll do it. You'rrrrrre needed to keep thissssss ssssssship intact. You'rrrrrrre farrrrrr too imporrrrrrrtant to botherrrrrrr with sssssssmall rrrrrrreporrrrrrrtsssss like thisssss." He said to her.

"Hannah asked if she could stay in my quarters for a little while," Kitty said, her whole body still in a complete droop. "But my quarters have been inaccessible for days, now. We'll bunk out in the quarters that Evans shares with Dr. Russell.. because Evans is still in sickbay." She shook her head slowly. "This whole thing seems like an ongoing nightmare, and I don't know what to think anymore. When we were on the Lantree, Sulan and her group probably saved my life many times over."

"She'sssss got herrrrrr own motivessss. Motivessssss that I quesssstion." He nodded to her.

"I don't know her well enough to have a clue," Kitty said. "You're going to go to the captain on this?"

"What otherrrrrr choiccccce do I have? Let herrrrrr kill Hannah in a jealousssss rrrrrrrage?" He grimaced.

"Uh, I'd rather not have that happen," Kitty said wryly. "But do you think she really would?"

"She nearrrrrrly bit Krrrrrrrissssstiana'sssss thrrrrrroat out. She put herrrrrr phasssssserrrrr rrrrrrright to my head afterrrrr calling me a cowarrrrrrrd." He said, pointing out the rather obvious symbols that Sulan wasn't exactly mentally stable.

"Yeah, and she tossed a grenade at me. But it wasn't a real one," Kitty said, her tone still wry.

He blinked and screwed up his face.

"And they sssssssaid I wasssss crrrrrrrazy forrrrr beating up a few bad officccccerrrrrrsssss." He grumbled once more over the injustice.

"Ryylar..." Kitty said hesitantly, cupping both hands around the mug now that it was beginning to cool. "If I did something really awful, would you still be my friend?"

"Well that dependsssss on what you did I guessssssss. I mean... I wouldn't be yourrrrr frrrrrriend if you murrrrrrderrrrrred Krrrrrrrissssss." Ryylar frowned.

"That's not what I did," Kitty returned absently.

"What wassssss it?" He asked softly.

"Well, I... I don't know how bad it really was. I mean, I didn't realize how bad it might be until the captain found out about it. I wasn't thinking of it, I just... I mean, they were dead already, I didn't Kill anybody, and it seemed like the logical solution. And I didn't mean to be doing anything terrible." All this came out in a barely coherent rush.

"What happened?" He asked her softly as he sat down next to her.

"The dead bodies of the Lantree crew," Kitty explained shakily. "They were drifting around, and kept getting attracted to the currents we made walking through.. and.. at first we pushed them away, but then we were short on time, and... uh, we vaporized a few of them. To clear the area. I, uh, helped." She looked into the depths of the chocolate coffee. "Once," she added.

"You say they werrrrrrre dead?" He asked her.

"Absolutely," she said. "The atmosphere was gone. They were... frozen dead. It was pretty... well...." Kitty closed her eyes. "Yeah. And that's why I hadn't thought it was so terrible. I mean... when you die, what I always believed, the body is just a shell.. and it didn't seem as important..."

"It issss a shell. What's made those people uniquely themselvesssss wassssss theirrrrrr sssssspirrrrrrit. It wasssssss long gone beforrrrrrre you got therrrrrre ssssssso don't worrrrrrry about it." He said, giving her a light hug.

Kitty barely responded to the hug.. but it was because she was thinking, thinking of what to say, how to say it. "That.. isn't the part that really bothers me."

"What parrrrrrt about it botherrrrrsssss you?" He asked her.

"One of the corpses.. it startled me. I turned around and the face was Right There." Kitty held up her hand right in front of her face. "Touching my helmet almost. And I.. well.. screamed and backed up. My heart was pounding. I was terrified. Sulan decided to clear the hallway... but I'm not blaming her for anything, I was the superior officer and I saw the sense in it. She's the one who asked me to help. And... and I did. And when I did, when I vaporized one of them... I wasn't afraid anymore." She frowned, still looking into the depths of the coffee. "Is that.. a bad thing?"

"Isssss a piece of bulkhead alive?" Ryylar asked her.

Kitty shook her head slowly.

"And the bodiesssss arrrrre nothing but hussssskssssss... Shellsssssss of what ussssssed to be." Ryylar said, taking the next step in his answer.

"Sssssso what'ssssss the differrrrrencccce in vaporizing a pieccccce of bulkhead and the dead rrrrrrremainsssssss of ssssssomething?" He asked her.

"Ask the captain," Kitty said wryly. "If you'd heard him when he found out what we'd done... well... I wouldn't have dared tell him that it made me braver."

"Humansssss placcccce a lot of emotional value in corrrrrrpssssssesssss." He said with a nod.

"One thing I neverrrrr underrrrrsssssstood about you wasssss the prrrrracticcccce of planting yourrrrr dead. When you die you want the sssssspirrrrrrit to be frrrrrree and happy to trrrrrravel to the afterrrrrrlife don't you?" He asked her.

"We don't bury them as often in my family. We usually cremate," Kitty said quietly, and then she took her first sip of coffee and closed her eyes as she let the effect sink all the way to her feet.

"Ssssssso what'sssss the differrrrrrenccccce in sssssending thossssse bodiesssss back to be burrrrrrrned, verrrrrrrssssssussssss vaporrrrrrizing them now? The familiessssss have the one trrrrrrue thing they need frrrrrrom the perrrrrssssson allrrrrrready. Happy memorrrrrrriesssss." He said.

Kitty smiled a little at that, but the smile was heartbreakingly sad. "So you... do you think it was awful.. that I wasn't as scared after I did it? I think... I think she asked me to on purpose, to make me face the fear and take control over it."

"I wassssss ssssssscarrrrrred to fight. To hurrrrrrrt ssssssomeone." He told her.

"But when I ssssssaw thosssssse Brrrrrreen going to attack thosssssse people on the Rrrrrrrhode Island, I didn't carrrrrre. I wasssssn't ssssscarrrrred anymorrrrrre. I jusssssst attacked them. I had theirrrrrr blood on my handssssss. I don't rrrrrregrrrrret it. I'd do it again if I had to. Doessssss that make me bad?" He asked her.

Kitty shook her head. "No, it doesn't. I guess.. I was a little more cold-blooded on that mission than I thought I could be. I feel like I changed a little inside. And when the captain challenged me on it I held my ground."

"You have changed... but that'ssssss what life isssss about. Look at me. I've changed." Ryylar said,

"Yeah.. I remember when I first met you," Kitty said with a wry chuckle, sipping at her coffee. "I wasn't all that sure we'd be friends."

"I don't think anyone wassssss sssssssurrrrrre. I know Krrrrrrrissss wasssss damn ssssssurrrrrrre I wassssss not rrrrrrright forrrrrrr herrrrrr." He said.

"You two are such a good pair," Kitty said, smiling, then she sighed. "I wish she was here. There's all this stuff I think she'd know how to handle just perfectly, and I'm trying to handle it instead, because when she's gone I'm kind of the second in command."

"Well... you'rrrrre a good officcccerrrrrr and a fantassssstic perrrrrrsssssson Kitty." The large Caitian said with a smile.

"Thanks, Ryylar." Kitty smiled. "That means a lot to me. 'Cause you know, I'm going to continue to do my best." Her tone changed slightly.. strengthened. "If I have to go stand up to Sulan I will. But don't let her bait you into starting a fight.. because if I have to stand up to you, I will. I'll do whatever I have to.. because in a way, I'm responsible for all of you, for now. And I want everyone to come out of this." Then she seemed quieter and smaller, diminished. "But I can't wait until we get into Spacedock and I'm not responsible for anyone but me..." she admitted quietly.

"Well... if she ssssstarrrrrrrtsssss a fight... I may not be able to ssssssstop the fight until one of ussssss isssss dead." Ryylar said with a nod.

"I know." Kitty's tone softened considerably. "But I don't want to hear that you started it, ok? Please?"

"I won't ssssstarrrrrt it.... but I'll ssssssurrrrrre asssss hell finish it... Essssssspecccccially if she thrrrrrreatensssss ssssssomeone elssssse." He said.

"Just... just... I.. don't know." And Kitty started to cry quietly again. "I'm sorry..." she managed between tears. "I thought I was over this..."

Ryylar grimaced and put his arms around her and pulled her into a hug, cuddling her gently.

"Ssssshhh it'sssssss ok Kitty..." He tried to comfort her.

Kitty managed a few more sobs before she stopped, comforted by her friend's presence. "Thank you.." she whimpered. "I think.. I should probably go now and see if I can see Evans before it's time to go to bed."

"You go ssssssee Evansssss I'll go ssssstand guarrrrrrd outsssssside of Evans' and Doctorrrrr Floyd's' quarrrrrterrrrsssss to keep Hannah sssssecurrrrre." Ryylar told her and patted her back.

"Thanks, Ryylar," Kitty said, and then gave him a sudden big hug. "I'll feel safer, knowing you're there... but I felt silly about asking."

"Don't everrrrrr feel ssssssilly about asssssking me forrrrrr help Kitty. You know I'll alwaysssss be happy to give you whateverrrrrr help you need." He said.

Kitty smiled tiredly but wholeheartedly at that. "Thanks... and thanks for the chocolate coffee. It hit the spot. We'll get through this... I'd.. better go." She offered him the empty cup. "Thank you," she said again. <near

"You'rrrrre welcome Kitty. Any time." He said, patting her back with a nod as they both left the galley for different parts of the ship.


Lt. Kathleen Black Chief Engineer USS Pegasus


Warrant Officer Ryylar Acting Security Officer Morale Officer USS Pegasus