Reflections #33 & #34 "Memories." [Backpost]

[OOC: This post was to occur just a few hours after the Pegasus docked at the starbase. It's my first back post so please forgive me.]

[On] [USS Pegasus] Kitty had a couple more things to do on the Pegasus before the ship became technically inhabitable. One of them involved Engineering orders. The other did not. She felt more than a bit nervous as she approached the quarters of the dread Security Chief... she took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. According to the computer, this is where she was... and Kitty felt privacy would be better for this request anyways.

"Enter." Sulan said quietly. She sat in a meditation position, wearing grey meditation robes. She stared at the flame of a single wax candle, focusing her concentration on it. The glow from it caused dark flickering shadows to dance in the semi darkness.

A patch of light from the corridor lit up part of the darkened room as the door opened. Kitty stepped into the room slowly, looking around, smiling at the sight of the candle. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disturb your meditation," she said quietly, drawing the 'logical conclusion' from the setting. "It is of no consequence. What can I do for you, Lieutenant Black?" Sulan said, looking up at her as she blew out the candle.

"I, uhm... wanted to ask a favor." Kitty clasped her hands behind her back as if she were in a china shop. "Personal... so you don't have to call me 'Lieutenant'. I'm off duty right now anyways." She was still in uniform.

"Of course, Ms. Black. You have but to ask." She stood, and moved over to the bed and sat. She gestured toward an empty chair for Kitty. "Lights." Sulan said and the room came up to full brightness, revealing a wall full of bladed weapons. "Would you care for some tea Ms. Black?" Sulan said tonelessly.

"Tea would be fine, thank you." Kitty sat down in the indicated chair and looked over at the bladed weapons. She gave a low appreciative whistle and then got up Out of her chair to go take a closer look. "That's an impressive collection."

"Indeed." Sulan said as she replicated two cups of Earl Grey, knowing that humans generally hated the Vulcan tea she normally drank. "They are all real. Battle trophies. How do you like your tea? Cream? Sugar perhaps?" she said, with her back to her as she put the tea on a serving tray.

"Uhm, honey, please. Battle trophies?" She didn't touch any of the edges. In fact, she kept her hands clasped behind her back as before, just leaning in here and there. "The detail on some of these are beautiful. Oh, sorry..." Kitty retreated to the chair previously offered.

Sulan added the honey and handed a cup to her, before sitting again. "Fear not, you may look at them all you wish. In fact, your the first person in several days who's managed to be well mannered around me. How is Hannah's wrist? I had assumed that I had broken it cleanly. It should heal quickly." she sips her tea, hating it's disgusting flavor, but not wanting to seem rude, to her guest.

Kitty choked on her first sip of tea. "What's this?" She hadn't heard a thing about that little incident. Sulan raised an eyebrow. "That is why your here, is it not? To inquire why I was forced to take such an action?"

"Uh, n-no, that's not why I'd Planned to come here. How do these things keep happening around you? I mean, Ryylar, and then Hannah... you've always been reasonable around me, and so have they." Kitty looked honestly perplexed. "It wouldn't have been My job to ask about it anyways... the ship's going to be shut down soon, I don't have to do any replacement XO things anymore." <And hopefully never again,> she added in her thoughts.

"'Why do these things keep happening around you' ? I have been speculating on that. I believe it comes from your species instinct to protect a potential mate. Yet, if you did not come here regarding O'Driscoll, why then, have you come?" She studied her face, seeking to read it's emotional intent.

"Well, I.." Kitty turned shy for a moment. She obviously felt silly asking this, but she was determined to try. She was good at trying unorthodox solutions, things that probably nobody else would ever consider. "I wanted to ask if you could help me stop my nightmares," she said straight out and almost a bit in a rush, then looked relieved to have finally put it out and ready to see the reaction, instead of just trying to imagine it.

Sulan doesn't show how completely unexpected that statement was to her. She simply answered. "I see," ans sipped her tea again while she thought of something to say. "Perhaps the counselor would be better equipped to deal with your situation than I. After all, I seem to lack a certain compassion that your species seems regard."

"I've gone to counselors on this for years," Kitty said wryly, sipping her tea and glad that Sulan hadn't laughed at her. "I thought I'd put it behind me a couple years ago, but it's come back." She put her teacup down and looked directly at Sulan. "But I haven't had nightmares like that about the floating corpses, and I honestly expected to. Oh, they've been in my dreams, but I haven't been afraid." Sulan nodded. "Have the holodecks come back online yet?" She asked, studying her, yet again.

"No, not here," Kitty said. "But the station has plenty of holodecks and I'm sure we're free to use them." She didn't seem to mind the scrutiny. She was relieved and hopeful... she seemed to honestly believe Sulan could help her. "Very well then."Sulan said, taking a data chip from the draw of her night table. "Follow me to the station. I want to show you something." She got up and left without looking back.

Kitty left her teacup behind, rose to her feet, and promptly followed Sulan like a little shadow.

[ Starbase 47, outside the main holodeck, several minutes later.]

Sulan added the data chip, and tapped the controls rapidly, entering the parameters of the program. "Like you, Kitty, I also had nightmares to over come." She finished entering the data. "Enter when ready." The computer chimed. She entered without hesitation, the setting on the holodeck was an old Vulcan family-shuttle, half again the size of a runabout, but in very bad repair. It sat empty, but out of the portholes, the planet of Vulcan could be seen below. the shuttle was pointing away from it, the pilot controls set for an escape velocity. Steam, and condensation leaked from the pipes lining the walls. The shuttle at best, was barely flight worthy.

Kitty watched Sulan, surprised but impressed, and then followed her in, looking around. Her breath caught as she saw the state of repair of the shuttle and she tensed... but nothing actually creaked, so she slowly relaxed again. She remained silent, watching Sulan.

Sulan turned toward her, and gestured with wide arms. "This, is my nightmare. This shuttle." Kitty turned a full 360 slowly, taking it all in, then looked back up at Sulan. "What happened?" she asked simply.

"Computer, generate character, Sulan14." Sulan said, either ignoring her, or not hearing. A younger frailer version of Sulan appears before them, unscarred, and fresh faced. The real Sulan caressed the frozen hologram's cheek. "To think I was like this once... Innocent, beautiful, and so very naive..." The holographic Sulan wore just plain black cover alls. Sulan looked at Kitty as if she'd forgotten she was there. "Ah yes... Kitty... This place, was the birth place of the Sulan that you've come to know. Though in reality, I was born on Vulcan, this place is where I consider to be my point of beginning."

"I could... understand that," Kitty said slowly, and she hadn't even seen what had happened yet. "Something big happening, something big enough to be life-changing... that's the kind of thing that nightmares come from."

"Correct." Sulan said quietly.

"How did it happen?" Kitty asked quietly. "And how did you get over it?"

"Do you to see?" Sulan asked darkly.

".....Yeah, I'll see. And then I can show you mine," Kitty said seriously.

"Computer run program." Sulan said. The holographic characters took their place. Sulan 's father in the pilot's seat and her mother in the co-pilot's. The younger Sulan ran fro console to console, behind them monitoring the shuttle's EPS conduit pressure, and navigational shield integrity.

Thought she tried to remain calm, fear was evident on her young face. "Will we escape?" She asked worriedly as she checked a monitor. "That, remains to be seen." Said Aventris, her mother, from the co-pilot's chair. Sulan's father, Torrin, remained grimly silent, as she fought with the shuttle's ancient controls. A calm, authoritative voice spoke over the com. "Attention craft, alter your current course, to the following coordinates." Number's rolled across the pilot's console, but he ignored them, his face set in a hard frown. "Do you see Telek?" He asked, glancing over his shoulder to the girl. "We are not even allowed to leave our own home world. Thus, more proof how contact with humans weakens us as a species."

The shuttle rocked suddenly and violently, causing the younger Sulan to loose her footing and go sprawling across the decking. She got up quickly and returned to her place at the monitors. "I-I think it's a tractor beam... There was a patrol ship just over the north pole. I don't think we have the power to escape it." Her father doesn't said a word as he pushed the shuttle's engines beyond their maximum outputs. The younger Sulan checked the status displays, as warning alarms began to sound. Her eyes widened a what she saw there. "Father stop... The engines are red lining.. I've never seen this much-" but she never gets the chance to finish. The consoles in front of her explode of a gout of dirty yellow plasma, enveloping her in the blast. A fist size chunk of metal shrapnel misses her head my mere millimeters as she falls, and streaks before shattering the canopy widow in an outward spray of transperisteel and oxygen. Her parents are pulled out of the hull breech faster than the Vulcan eye can blink, but the force of the vacuum pined her horizontally between the backs of the now- empty chairs. She has but a few seconds to marvel at the feel of her blood evaporating from her ears eyes and nose, and to try and grab desperately at the back of one of the chairs with a ruined and blackened thing that her mind informs her was once her hand, before she disappears in the blue white glow of a transporter beam.

"Computer, end program." Sulan calls, and the scene fades, to be replaced by the yellow lines of the deactivated hollodeck.

Kitty took a slightly shaky breath. The whole thing had affected her.. the parents and child, the hull breach, she nearly looked away at the plasma damage... but she didn't. Then she took another deep breath and looked back up at Sulan. "Well that..." She paused for a moment. "That... well, beats mine. How.. did you stop the nightmares?"

"I... used the anger I got from the incident, externally. I ran from the memories, ran from the hole that was in my heart. Yet, I could not kill enough nor hurt enough people to fill it. Only after I forced myself to watch the event, over and over, could I come to accept it. If a person is struck enough times in an area of their body, it will go numb to the pain. The heart, Kitty, is no different."

"I've talked about it, described it over and over," Kitty said slowly. "But I haven't watched it, except in my dreams."

"Thus, you know the course you must take." Sulan said simply. Putting a hand on her shoulder to comfort her. "This may sound strange, but after a time, I came to treasure this memory. For it was the last clear thing I remember before being taken by Section 31. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to be with my parents in their last moments."

Kitty blinked at that and then considered it. "Yeah... I could.. I could see that. I was luckier than that. I didn't lose anybody. I just thought I had." She looked across the grid. "Do you... want to know what happened? You showed me... I'd like to return the trust."

"I would be honored, for you to share such a thing with me." Sulan said, surprised that the girl would trust her with something of such magnitude.

Kitty smiled and nodded, then sat herself right down on the holodeck floor, apparently quite comfortable enough there. She took a deep breath and started her story, speaking very calmly and almost by rote, as if she'd told it this way many, many times before.

"My grandparents are marine biologists," Kitty started. "They've devoted decades to learning the language of the humpback whale. In doing so, they've written a lot of papers, given lectures at colleges..." It was obvious she was very proud of them and their accomplishments. "We were out in a research vessel. Not a spaceship, of course, just a small ocean-going vessel. I'd gone below decks already. I was tired and wanted an early bedtime. I can still remember that room so well. The furniture was bolted to the walls and floor, and the room was tiny, but it was comfortable for me and I did have my favorite teddy bear.

"Hunting whales is strictly forbidden, of course. Our continued existence depends on the humpback in particular. You aren't even allowed to attack a whale, not even to protect yourself. They're just too important. Whales usually aren't aggressive, so you don't have to fear them. But this one had been attacked by illegal whalers, and it was maddened. A wounded, maddened whale may attack, especially if it was wounded by humans. Another thing about whales is that they're very, very strong. You know those old wooden sailing ships, a few thousand years ago? Matchstick, in seconds. Even the newest technology can't withstand repeated blows from an angered whale.

"I was fast asleep, and the first slam threw me right out of my bed onto the floor all tangled up in the blankets. I managed to get untangled and got up just in time for the second slam to throw me right back on the floor again, so I crawled towards the door, to get the breather unit from the lab just in case. The ship's hull started to creak under the strain, and I was pretty scared. Then the whale slammed into us again. The lights went out, and I had to crawl over and get my flashlight. "I could hear loud creaking from the other side of the room. They warn you about that kind of creaking, if you do a lot of boating. It's a very, very bad sign. It means that the boat is actually breaking up around you. I was so frightened that I couldn't move at first, and then I made myself stand up. Then the wall breached.

"The water was icy cold and dark, and it rushed in so fast that I was swept right off my feet again. Within seconds it was two feet high. I couldn't get the door open with all that water pressure holding it closed. The next slam broke deep into the boat somewhere.. the world was whirling all around me for a moment and I could hear the crash. I thought I was going to die. I had good reason to think that. Being trapped below decks in a sinking ship... well, your chances aren't all that good.

"I decided that if I was going to die, at least I would give survival the best try I could. Once I decided that, my head cleared, and I took a deep breath before the water filled the room completely. Once it had, the pressure equalized between the inside and outside, and I was able to swim through the tear in the wall. I kept my flashlight in my teeth so that I could see. Once I was out, I had no clue which way was up or down, so I remembered what my grandfather had taught me and followed a bubble to the surface.

"My lungs were burning by the time I broke the surface, and then the air was icy cold. It was kind of strange, it hurt to breathe, but I thought I could never get too much air again. I could see bits of wreckage, but I couldn't find my grandparents. I found out later that they were huddled on a bit of wreckage a distance away, and they thought I'd gone under and drowned. My grandfather's leg was badly broken and torn open. Well, between the whale's injuries and my grandfather... if you know much about the ocean, you can guess what came next.

"I was treading water and trying to figure out what to do next when I saw the first shark go past. It brushed right against my side. It was a bit of a shock... those cold eyes and sharp teeth. It wasn't interested in me. I wasn't bleeding. More came... Sharks are more scavengers than predators, and they usually leave humans alone. When they detect blood in the water, though, they get very aggressive. A couple of them got a little too friendly and I slapped them across the nose. If you make enough of a nuisance of yourself, they'll leave you be.

"I started moving. There wasn't any wreckage close enough and large enough for me to climb out of the water, so I started swimming away from the sharks. I heard later that my grandmother grabbed a broken pole from the wreckage and fended them off, keeping them away from my grandfather until the rescue boat arrived. They dived to look for me, but they couldn't get into the bulk of the wreckage. So my grandparents thought I was dead, and I thought they were dead. They got airlifted to a hospital, and my grandfather went into immediate surgery.

"You don't grow up among marine biologists without learning anything. When I was well clear of the sharks, I knew I had to get to land. But the shoreline in that area is pretty rocky, and you could get killed trying to swim to shore... dashed on the rocks. To make things worse, the weather had shifted, and the wind had picked up. The waves were starting to get pretty high. So I gave a couple of calls and a friendly dolphin couple answered me. I asked them for help getting to shore, and they thought it would be a great game. They did their best, but there wasn't any really good place to land. Broke my arm... a simple clean fracture, luckily.. but I got on shore alive."

Kitty paused for a moment, eyes closed, remembering. Then she continued her story. "Well, what could I do? I'd survived this far. I ripped some cloth from my nightclothes and set my arm the best I could with a piece of driftwood, and then put it up in a makeshift sling. Then I headed up to the shore road and started walking. That was probably the longest and hardest part, because I was so tired and shivering cold, and the adrenaline was fading away. But I knew that I had to keep moving, to keep warm. My grandparents were rescued pretty quickly after the incident, maybe about a half hour or so? And about two hours after that, I came wandering into town and got picked up by the local law enforcement.

"They said they didn't know how I kept walking that long, between the pain from my arm and the cold night air. I got given a couple of warm blankets and a nice hot drink, and they took me straight to the clinic. There was an alert out about me, standard procedure even though they thought I'd drowned. So they were able to verify my identity pretty quickly and tell my grandmother that they'd found me."

She gave a small, wry smile. "It took over a year to get some form of equilibrium in the household. My arm was mended pretty easily, but my grandfather was laid up for months, and then I picked up a bad case of bronchitis. My grandmother had a total nervous breakdown, and I got diagnosed with severe post-traumatic syndrome, night terrors and waking dreams. But we all stuck together, and we all got better bit by bit. I started really improving when Grandpa was up and around, and then we both started sailing again, and the terrors shrank to nightmares and eventually stopped.

"Until we took structural damage in our first battle on the Pegasus, and I heard the creaking again. And when the hull breached in the lounge, I was helpless." She looked up, both pleading and fierceness in her eyes. "Evans saved my life, but I was helpless... and then he got hurt. It wasn't my fault, it would've probably happened that way anyways. But I don't mean to let my fear put him in danger ever again."

Sulan nodded, as she listened to the story intently. "I can find no fault in your actions, Kitty. There is no need to suffer any more. You should be proud of both your past actions, and you current ones."

Kitty blinked and blinked again, running all of this through her head, then running the story through her head again. "You know what..... I was... more competent than I remember." She said this with a funny wry look on her face.

"Just so." Sulan said nodding.

"So I... I recreate it.. and watch it again and again?" Kitty looked up at Sulan. "And it won't bother me anymore? Why didn't the various counselors have me do that?"

"Correct. That, coupled with the meditation techniques I will teach you, should suffice. As to why the counselors have not done similar, I do not know."

"Well, it does seem kind of.. harsh.. if you think about it in a more... gentle sort of way, if you know what I mean. But I'll try anything........ meditation techniques?" Kitty tilted her head a little in curiosity.

"Yes. The mind is the lens by which you view the world. Alter it's perceptions, and you alter your world. I can teach you ways to better control and use your mind."

"How long will it take?" Kitty frowned. "I might have to get back to you on it. I'll be leaving soon... going home for shore leave."

"Come to me, when you return, and we shall begin then. Agreed?"

"Agreed." Kitty smiled and rose from her seat on the holodeck floor, then turned to look Sulan in the eyes. "Thanks," she said honestly. "I really appreciate this."

"Your quite welcome." Sulan said, tilting her head slightly. "Now, unless you require anything else, I have duties to attend to."

Kitty shook her head, smiling. "I'll look you up when I get back from my grandparents' house. Are you having a working vacation, then?"

"I suppose it could be called that, yes. I'm seeking an old... friend of mine named Angela. There is much we must discuss."

"A friend of yours?" Kitty said brightly, all tones of voice and ominous pauses going right over her little head. "That'll be nice. I hope you have a good time." She started making her way to the holodeck door.

"I am certain we shall." Sulan said following her, and heading back toward the ship.


A joint post by:

Lieutenant (j.g.) Telek Sulan Chief of Security USS Pegasus


Lieutenant Kathleen Black Chief Engineering Officer USS Pegasus