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A Davis

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About A Davis

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    Sanity is highly overrated.

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  1. “Seeing it Through” Johnson Kenyon & Amanda Davis Johnson walked slowly down the hall and pressed the chime on Dr. Davis’ door. The smell of fresh tea and scones drifted down the hall even before she opened the door. “Hello, Lieutenant,” she said congenially. “How may I help you?” “Dr. Davis?” he asked as he stepped in, extending his hand in greeting. “I didn’t realize we had a counselor on board.” “Well, that’s understandable. I’m usually in my office, and if I am not, you can page me. But please, do come in,” she said stepping aside after shaking his hand. “Nice to meet you. May I offer you tea and scones, Lieutenant…?” Her office was very Victorian, as was her dress. Apparently she was a civilian. Rubbing his chin and looking at her directly, he responded taking one, “Yes, thank you. Johnson.... Kenyon Johnson... I just got back from a 4 day trip on the Ni.... whatever the name of that Romulan shuttle is.” “The Nei’rrh. Then you’ve been through quite a bit,” she supplied, setting a cup of tea next to him, then turning to retrieve one for herself. “What I've been through isn't the worst of it... I'm afraid I don't trust our Chief Engineer anymore.” “And why would that be?” “I don't know if he was playing some sick game, but on that shuttle, when our power shut off... he said we could blow up. That we shouldn't engage the engines... then after minimal modifications to the shields... he decides to test them and bring her to warp.” “Have you talked to him about that? Asked anyone else about that situation?” “I don't think I can talk to him now... I'm angry and he just got his kid back.” “Was there anyone else on the ship that you could talk to?” “I haven't decided, but I think I may need to switch departments.... or bring it up to the Commander,” Johnson paused just now taking in the counselor’s question. “ Tarisa was there, but she dutifully obeyed his directive... I just thought she was a robot.” “Before you make any judgement, may I suggest you take some time off, then talk to someone who was there,” Counselor Davis offered. “Actually, the only thing that gives me comfort in this situation is working. Just keeping myself busy... helps me to think.” “Well, if you believe it helps, then by all means. But please, before you judge Commander Korjata's words or actions, talk to him. Ask him why he said that. I'm sure he has a very good explanation.” “I am not sure I can. Like I said, he just got his kid back. Still, I think what he did was wrong. He jeopardized the life of everyone on the Nei’rrh.” Johnson paused and breathed a cleansing breath. “I don’t understand it.” Johnson stared at the ceiling for a moment then he returned with a hardened look of resolve. “I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting at the navigation station and we had just modified the shields. The Chief gives us some coordinates and tells us to go to warp. Tarisa dutifully punches in the coordinates while I question it. I tried to reason with him. He had previously told us that going to warp might cause our destruction. We had also speculated that going to warp could create more of the waves which affected the shuttle. And…” Counselor Davis watched him intently but did not interrupt. A major part of counselling is listening and allowing the patient to let the emotions flow. Often, just sitting by and listening opened more doors than expected. He was, essentially, thinking aloud. He looked both torn and frustrated: two major emotions that need attention. Eventually he would get to the core of the matter. Only then could he deal with it. “...And he ignored my concerns, took us to warp briefly and talked callously about how I had signed a waiver when I joined Starfleet. ‘Either we’d die or we wouldn’t.’ Since we didn’t die, then he supposed we’d live. Sort of rubbed my concern in my face.” Johnson leaned forward and rubbed a blemish on his forehead. Since his pause was longer than normal, she ventured, “You remember that vividly, which makes sense. We all have a ‘fight or flight’ instinct when we face danger. In this case, you were allowed neither fight nor flight. Your instinctive reaction of survival was denied. So Lieutenant, if you can, think about how the incident makes you feel now, at this very moment?” “Angry. He as much as told me life was a 50-50 gamble anyway. I got up and left the navigation station and got myself,” Johnson smiled widely for the first time in the session, “a cup of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream. He had just risked my life without so much as hearing me out and I was stuck on this DAMNED shuttle with him. I needed a moment to calm down or I was going to push him out an airlock or something.” “You restrained yourself in the face of grave danger, Lieutenant. That’s commendable. A lesser man would not have reacted that way. He would either fall apart or take over.” Johnson again looked up, this time he had a tear forming in the corner of his eye. “I need to report it to Commander Coleridge and request a formal investigation. I don’t want to do this. I may never be able to look our Chief Engineer in the eye again, but there are too many things that need to be answered.” “Johnson,” Amanda began, using his given name for the first time, “holding things in never helps a problem, so I would like you to consider a few things. You say that you ‘don’t want to do this’. That’s understandable, but why do you not want to do this? Earlier you said that you didn’t want to face him because he ‘just got his kid back’. Now you say that you ‘might never be able to look our Chief Engineer in the eye again’. Those two statements tell me that you are compassionate, Lieutenant. It’s good to be compassionate, but I’d like you to consider something else. “If you ask for a formal investigation, you will eventually get to the heart of the matter. You might even be reconciled with Commander Korjata. Alternatively, if you don’t ask for a formal investigation those questions will nag you for a long time, and in the future, lives could be lost.” While Amanda waited for that to sink in, the thought came to her that there might be another option, so she asked him if there was one. “Yes, Counselor, there are other options, but I don’t think there are other options I can live with.” Amanda nodded, then waited patiently in case he wasn’t finished. Johnson scratched behind his neck and looked at the scone in his left hand. He leaned forward slightly and took a bite. Smiling, mouth half full, he said, “these are very good. Do you make them yourself?” he said as he covered his mouth. “Yes,” she replied, smiling. “My mother’s recipe, handed down from one generation to the next. I’m glad you enjoy them.” Johnson chewed and swallowed before continuing. “You must be very proud of them to share them with everyone or perhaps you believe in comfort food.” “Well, I wouldn’t say that I’m proud, but I am thankful that my family passes things on, especially recipes. And it is comfort food. If it makes someone feel better, I’m glad.” Johnson sighed and nodded. “I do feel better. I guess I have a report to write.” Johnson’s eyes grew wide with the revelation of what he’d done. “Do you think you could keep what I said about Tarisa to yourself?” Amanda looked curiously at Johnson, “Of course, Lieutenant. Anything that is said in here is purely confidential.” Johnson shook his head and half smiled before speaking. He opened his mouth and closed it again. Amanda had a pretty good idea what that meant. “You like her.” “That’s about it. I really don’t want to accuse someone I’d like to date of being without emotion. She had her reasons and they will come out in any official investigation.”
  2. “Chasing Shadows”* Ensign Theobald Dumont Dr. Amanda Davis, MD Personal Log: Stardate 0130.19 Theo was standing nervously before Amanda's office door on Deck 73. Perhaps he had had too much tea. He did what he could to keep calm, but caffeine was not it. Amanda’s office door slid open to her welcoming smile. She was dressed in civilian skirt and blouse that hailed back to earth’s Victorian period. Victorian furniture, passed down through several generations, showed a relaxing, comfortable, and welcoming atmosphere behind her. The aroma of fresh tea filled the air. Soft, soothing music played in the background. “Hello, Ensign Dumont. I am Amanda Davis, but please call me Amanda. Do come in.” She stepped back to allow him entrance. “If you’re up to tea and scones at this time of day, I have some freshly made.” “It smells delicious, Amanda. But I must refuse. I’m in the habit of eating my biggest meal at noon and I’m still full. Perhaps I’ll take one for the road. So nice to meet you ma’am.” “And you are not the only one to take a scone away for a snack later on.” She smiled. “But please, sit wherever you feel comfortable. If you don’t mind, I’ll have some tea,” she continued, walking toward the counter where the tea and scones were displayed. “Of course.” Now Theo felt somewhat awkward, but he was impressed with the good doctor’s hospitality. Sitting down, “Where do I begin?” “Well,” she said, returning to set her teacup on a tea table before settling into a couch. “You may begin wherever you would like to.” Normally, Theo was very direct so he just jumped in. "I have flashbacks to the moment I was about to die. My accident boils to the surface whenever I experience a strong emotion. The other day I was on the holodeck with Ensign Grim. It’s a potentially dangerous place for me, as I was once a holo-addict. My wife’s call over the comm system sent me reeling. I was back on the shuttle, age 14, suffocating. All I could see were the emergency lights and the smoke pouring out of the life support console." Amanda gave him plenty of time to elaborate, perhaps tell more. When he seemed to be at a stopping point, she said, “It sounds like you have had quite a traumatic experience.” “It was the flashpoint of a long nightmare. The recovery was almost as bad as the accident. I really didn’t want to face the emotional scars, so I bottled them up and chose to lose myself on the holodecks at Sargonia’s Library. The colony’s doctors were able to return almost all of my body to complete health, at least enough to graduate from Starfleet Academy, but I was a mental wreck.” Amanda waited patiently in case he would say more. Eventually she moved ahead. “What exactly happened that brought you to the brink of death?” Feeling revulsion at having to relive the accident, Theo however drove on, “The personnel shuttle transporting us to the mines on Beta Agni VII suffered engine failure and spun out into the orbit of Beta Agni IV, whose liquid thorium mantle is radioactive. I was suffocating because the aft emergency shields were slowly failing.” “And you were rescued.” “Yes, rescued by a starship that was in orbit of my homeworld/colony, only after suffering from a large dose of radiation poisoning.” “There must have been some very brave people on that starship to dive into that kind of radiation and save you,” Amanda suggested, setting her teacup aside. “I never thought I would catch myself saying, ‘Thank God for politicians.’ Our Ambassador was just about to depart for Earth on the USS Nova when they rescued us. “Unfortunately, the pilot of the shuttle and three miners were killed. You see Doctor, what a simple accidental miscalculation can do? My whole life has been jaded by this incident ever since,” Theo said trembling. “Well, Theo….” she began, then asked, “May I call you Theo?” “Sure,” he said with a dejected expression. “First of all, dealing with a traumatic experience such as you have can be difficult. However, since you pushed yourself on to complete your education at the academy, I would venture to say that you are more brave than you think you are. That said, hiding from the trauma is more difficult and debilitating than facing it square on. “A very brave lady by the name of Eleanor Roosevelt faced many dangers in her lifetime. But in the end, she said, ‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ “Theo, you are brave. Moving on to join Starfleet while knowing that danger lurks in space tells me that. Face your fear straight on and you will conquer it. Are you up to the task? Of course. And I am here to help you.” “It will take time.” remarked Theo forcefully. “Yes, it will. Have you tried to deal with it?” “I guess I’ve just ignored it.” After a minute or two of thought and studying his expressions, Amanda drew in a thoughtful breath, then slowly exhaled. “Theo, you mentioned that your friend, Ensign Grim, and you were in the holodeck together when something triggered a flashback. I suggest that you get with your friend in the holodeck, create a situation that is similar to what you experienced, and face your fear one step at a time. Yes, it will take time, but it will work, and this is how. “Begin slowly. Configure the holodeck with Ensign Grim so you are fighting an animal instead of an experience. Focus on that animal, determined to conquer it, then fight. After you conquer that first animal, make one larger and a little more ferocious. Eventually, you will change your session from an animal to a dangerous experience, but you will convince yourself that you are conquering just another animal. Fear is the animal that you will conquer. Does that make sense?” “Yes ma’am, but what if it kills me first?” “You are in the holodeck, Theo. It might scare you, but it won’t kill you. You are always in control in the holodeck. Knowing that will help you conquer situations in life.” “I understand.” “Good. Remember that the key is to work slowly. If the first animal is too much, back up and make it a smaller, less ferocious animal. Proceed from there.” “Thank you, Amanda.” said Theo, with an anticipatory smile. ----------------------- *The title Chasing Shadows was borrowed from the book by Fred Burton: Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice.
  3. Will the Real Captain Ramson Please Stand Up Amanda Davis and Captain d’Ka As soon as she stepped from the lift, Amanda stopped to catch her breath as the most enticing aroma drifted in from the corridor. Darjeeling? She was certain. It had to be. “Counselor Davis.” Captain d’Ka greeted her with a gracious nod as his office door slid open. “Please come in. May I offer you tea?” he asked, leading her toward a set of exquisitely upholstered chairs that were arranged casually in an inviting alcove not far from his desk. “Yes, thank you, Captain,” she responded pleasantly. “Darjeeling?” “As I recall, it is your beverage of choice.” Waving her into a chair, he took the one opposite while the yeoman brought tea, then retreated to another room. The captain’s office decor was far from utilitarian, the exact opposite of Captain Chirakis’s imposing style, rife with her coveted weapons display. It interested Amanda that the two should be such opposites. His voice and tone were as smooth and soothing as ever. Hers, on the other hand, tended to be rough and often laced with sarcasm. Captain d’Ka’s impeccably fitted uniform bore not only his Starfleet insignia, but the insignia of the Sindarin Defense Council as well as several small ribbons for heroism and distinguished service. He was the only Sindar in Starfleet, and one of the few his people allowed out of their territory. He was seldom seen, except when he visited Aegis or other secure ports of call. Amanda decided long ago that that was probably was a good thing. The Sindar are a reclusive race and their home system was a closely guarded secret, so it was best to keep a low profile. He seldom came aboard the station when Missouri docked, and when he did, he stayed away from public areas. With a stature of 6’ 8”, a silent, smooth step, delicately pointed ears, silken hair, and the solid, commanding presence reminiscent of an elven king, he could not go unnoticed in a crowd, and that was probably why he had invited Amanda to his office on Missouri for the meeting. “Commander Lei’ri informed me that you might need my assistance?” His smooth lilting cadence brought Amanda back to reality. “Yes, Captain. It’s about Captain Ramson, and it has to do with your telepathic abilities.” D’ka’s expression turned serious. “Surely you have many telepaths on the station, Counselor,” he said cautiously, a brow raised. “Are they unable to help you?” “Well, yes, we do have several telepaths, and Lt Commander Lawliet is El-Aurian. He is very capable, but he does not have the… talent, the... ability that you have.” D’ka sat motionless, studying her for a moment. “By ‘ability’, you refer to ‘telepathy’?” “Yes, Captain. Because of recent events, there is some question as to the true nature of Captain Ramson. At Commander Coleridge’s orders, I have given her a complete psychological profile. But I’m still concerned. I’m worried that she might have the residual effects of the droid core inside her. Without the objective observation of someone outside the crew, I can’t be certain.” D’Ka breathed deeply, his lips slightly pursed. He paused, his hands steepled and pressed against his forehead, and his head bowed. After several minutes, he looked up and inhaled deeply as his eyes narrowed. “Counselor, are you asking me to probe Captain Ramson’s thoughts?” “Captain, I am asking you… begging you… to do whatever you can to help me determine whether or not the captain is… not a threat to station security. And, with the limited profile I have of you, I know that you have abilities well beyond anyone else in Starfleet.” D’ka sighed profoundly, closing his eyes momentarily before answering. “Counselor,” he began, then rephrased, saying, “Amanda,” with a soft intonation she had not heard before. “I would like to assist you, but the Sindar code is a sacred trust. It forbids probing thoughts unless I am given permission by that person, or that person’s thoughts are directed toward me to do me harm.” He straightened up, greatly concerned, and uncomfortable. “I see many things. And I know many things. But I cannot, and I will not, even contemplate breaking that code. If I do, I not only dishonor myself and my family, but the Sindar Supreme Council will know immediately, and their punishment will be well beyond anything you can possibly comprehend.” Taken aback, Amanda swallowed hard, embarrassed. “I’m sorry, Captain,” she whispered. “I….” She left off when he gently raised his hand. “No need to apologize. You could not have known. But now that you do, I must ask if there is a good reason you are asking me, instead of the telepaths on the station.” “Well, yes.” She cleared her throat. “Two reasons, actually. All Captain Ramson’s psychological tests show nothing unusual, per se. However, they match the results of her previous tests almost perfectly, which is definitely unusual. Also, the droid core wasn’t detected by the telepaths who were with her on the Treevian planet, so I cannot be certain that they would be able to detect either the droid core or any possible residual effects of the droid core.” “I see,” d’Ka responded, giving a slight nod. “In this case there is no problem. It doesn’t take a mind probe to determine that.” His hands spread as he relaxed into a smile. “Just being close to her tells me that all effects of the droid core are gone. She is, indeed, the ‘real’ Captain Ramson.”
  4. Nightmares Kat and Amanda Kat was worried. She was still having nightmares about the attacks on the station so she decided to go have a chat with Amanda. It was hard enough to admit that she was injured and needed treatment for her leg, but this was even harder for her to admit. She finally brought herself to call. "Dr. Schawsee to Dr. Davis." "This is Amanda. How can I help you, Kat?" "Dr. Davis, I’m having an issue that I need your assistance with. Can I meet you someplace? Or in your office?" Sweat started to bead on her forehead she was so nervous. "Of course, Kat," she replied, "but if it's a private matter, it's probably best we meet in the office. Otherwise, we can go to the shipyard’s coffee house." "Thank you. I'll come to your office. I'm a bit embarrased. Can I meet you in about,” Kat wiped her brow as she looked at the chronometer on the wall in her tiny quarters, “five minutes?" "Five minutes will be fine. See you then." "Thank you, Doc. Schawnsee out." Kat tapped her badge once more, shutting off the channel as she took a deep breath and began to talk to herself. “See, it wasn’t so hard. Now go face it. It’s just Amanda.” After brushing her hair and pulling it back into a neat ponytail, she headed down to Amanda’s office, stopped at the door, nervously straightened her uniform, and rang the chime. As usual, Amanda had readied the tea pot and set out an assortment of freshly made finger sandwiches and scones. Sometimes patients wanted something, sometimes they didn't, but she did like to be prepared. Amanda had just enough time to fill the teapot before the door chimed. By the time Amanda reached the door the tea’s aroma had spread throughout the tiny office the shipyard officer had so graciously afforded her. "Amanda you always have it smelling so good in here,” said Kat as she stepped in. "Oh, I love the smell of steeping tea,” Amanda replied. “It gives the room a cozy feel, like the private Victorian tea rooms in Wales. Nijil brought me some lovely artisan teas that his parents grow on TKR-117. It’s that beautiful tea you smell. Would you like some?” “Tea? That would be great, Thank you." Setting the tea tray on a tiny table between them, she poured them each a cup, then offered milk and sugar. “Scone? Finger sandwich?” Kat took a seat in front of the table with all of the goodies and teas on it. "No, thank you, but I would like sugar please." Kat took a spoonful of sugar and placed it in the cup of tea that had been poured for her. "You didn’t have to do this for me, Amanda. Thank you ever so much." “Oh, I enjoy it, Kat, and I especially enjoy it with friends." After settling in with a few sips and idle talk, Amanda opened the conversation. "You said you wanted to discuss something?" "Well, I do not come as only a friend today. I ...." Kat took a sip before continuing. “Yes, I do." Kat sat the cup back down and looked directly to Amanda. "I'm having nightmares, Amanda. They have been going on for over a month. The only way I can relieve myself of them is to give myself a good dose of a sleep aide. I have to admit I have done it a few times because I’ve fallen asleep at my console in Sickbay. I can’t keep doing that. I need your help." There. She said it. It was all out on the table. Now she just hoped that Amanda didn’t turn her in for scripting her own drugs out of Sickbay. "What kind of nightmares, Kat?" asked Amanda, concerned. "Bad ones, REAL Bad ones. So bad that I wake up screaming and sweating profusely. My bed covers are soaked. I'm shivering, shaking and can not go back to sleep. Every time I close my eyes again all I can see is the Children’s area getting blown to smithereens and the children getting sucked out into space. I know it’s not real, but I can’t get past it." Kat had begun to sweat and shake. Amanda took a moment to let her settle down so she could think. "What do you believe triggers these nightmares, Kat?" The doctor shook her head. "I wish I knew. I'll go to bed tired, thinking I'll get a good night’s sleep, but I’ll be asleep for maybe an hour to an hour and a half, and then wake up shaking, shivering and sweating so bad that I end up having to change my covers they are so wet. Amanda,” she said in exasperation, “I don’t know what to do. Like I said, I do not want to continue using the sleep aides." "Well," Amanda ventured after considering her tea for a moment, "I do believe you're right in not wanting to use sleep aids. We both know how unwise that can be, so we won't even discuss it..." Amanda paused, like she was thinking and Kat wondered if she had caught that she had already used them before coming to her. But if she didn't she wasn't going to tell on herself again. She continued to listen and began to calm herself down. Once again she picked up the cup of tea and took a few more sips as Amanda continued her thought. "... but I believe it’s important for you to know that you’re not the only one plagued with nightmares. Most of the station’s crew have come to me lately for help in that regard. We’ve experienced many forms of trauma over the last few months and nightmares are a normal reaction to trauma. They are products of the subconscious processing waking moments while we sleep. Your nightmare is about the children probably because you love them and are concerned for their welfare; you’re worried that they will be injured, or worse. You want to protect them." "But I know that we are all safe now,” said Kat, “so why can’t I stop having them, or at least not have such vivid ones? In a few days we will have the new station. I can’t keep going on being so tired that I fall asleep at my console." "First, Kat, just because your conscious mind knows you’re safe doesn’t mean your subconscious does. Constant replaying of the trauma is the brain’s way of protecting you from harm in case it happens again. How do we deal with this? We find a way to reduce your conscious mental stress level, which, in turn, will improve your sense of well-being and help convince your subconscious that everything is under control. “You’ve already taken the first step by talking about it. Something else that might help is regular exercise; it increases the concentration of norepinephrine, the chemical that moderates the brain’s response to stress. If your knee is well enough, you can begin a regular exercise regimen." She was about to continue, but she paused to eye Kat suspiciously. "One of the best things you can do is to get away for a while,” she said firmly. “Kat, are you allowing yourself some time away from the children, some time to take care of yourself?" "I am, Yes. I do have my other duties and other patients. I can be so tired that as soon as my head hits the pillow I'm out of it. Then I wake myself up with the screaming as we are being blown up all over again. When I look at the clock on the wall I notice that I have only been asleep for about an hour to an hour and a half." Kat sat back in the chair and took a deep breath trying to calm herself back down, feeling she has been yelling even though she hadn't. “Kat,” Amanda shook her head, gently chiding, “going to other patients is not getting away. You must get away from your duties entirely. At least once a day you must take time to be completely away from sick bay and the children so you can relax and clear your mind. Not only will the nightmares subside, but you will be a better doctor for it. “Stroll through the garden here, go to coffee with a friend, get completely away, perhaps in the holodeck they have set up for Aegis crew. Interaction with outside friends in relaxing places will allow your mind to rest." "No I have not done that,” Kat responded after a bit. “I am not a social person, Amanda. I finish my duties, sometimes go check on the kids. Sometimes I don’t if I am really tired. Then I go to my quarters and just try to rest. If I’m not tired I’ll go to the gym, work out a bit, then go sit in a hot bath and then turn in. This is what I do." "Tell you what, Kat." Amanda put down her cup and rested her hands in her lap. "I’ve also had a problem with getting away, and I certainly would enjoy company. For the next week, if you will allow me, I'll come get you for a stroll in the holodeck. I'll show you my home in Wales and you can show me your home in the woods of Old Kentucky. It will do us both some good. After a week, if that doesn’t help, we'll try something else. Agreed?" "Do you think that will make them stop? I mean I waited to come to you until they are almost debilitating. But if you think it will work I'll give it a shot." Kat replied uneasily. "I guess that all I can do it try, isn't it?" "I believe it's a step in the right direction.” Amanda’s face brightened. “And while we walk through the woods of Kentucky and along the seashore of Wales we can talk and perhaps relieve ourselves of the burdens we've both been carrying." "Alright. I'll give it a try if you think it will work. When do you want to start this?" “How about this afternoon." Kat thought for a moment then agreed. "OK I'll give you a call once I complete my rounds this afternoon." Kat took the cup and finished off her tea. "Thank you for the time, Amanda. I really appreciate it."
  5. Oh, for a Hundred Words “It’s a game, Amanda. Have fun!” After a night’s rest, she’d heard about an exercise for station morale. Enter friend Samantha, aboard USS Missouri. “What am I supposed to write? ‘A cup of tea, a hot cream scone, and thou beside me… in the wilderness?’” “Well… you are in the wilderness.” “You’re not helping,” Amanda sighed. “Write what’s in your heart. Catch you later.” A stare. Connection cut. She picked up her pen. What’s in my heart? Children playing in the trees, laughing, singing, Light hearts put the past behind them. Their future, ours. We should be as they.
  6. Dreamscape Amanda Davis and Captain Chirakis Amanda stood mesmerized as the lift moved from the captain’s quarters towards the control tower. “How do you know you weren't hallucinating or dreaming when you were in that… other place, Captain,” said Amanda. “At the time, I believed that I was dreaming. However, when Dr. Nagi found me... I had this in my possession.” The object wasn’t anything special, only a small oval of highly polished pink granite. But it was warm, and Amanda couldn’t take her eyes off it. The lift stopped at the observation level, and in the moment between opening and closing doors, the magnificence of Aegis’ star-line flooded the lift: stars in the hundreds of billions, and billions more were distant galaxies. Could it be? Is it even possible? “The Daoine’eile?” she asked. The captain shrugged, “The Daoine’eile, the Quadin, the Ostatní. There are as many names as species in the galaxy - or the universe, for that matter. A powerful race and fearsome, but not to be feared.” * * * * * Just over an hour ago, Amanda had entered the secure quarters on the Distinguished Visitors deck. Captain Chirakis did not look surprised at the visit. She seemed resigned, but she kept her distance, firmly ensconced at the observation window. Her position was not only good for defense, it was a classic method of avoidance and a posturing that asserted her dominance. The familiar steely stare was there, but something lurked behind it. A struggle. A dinner tray sat untouched on the ornate dining table, latinum tableware arranged neatly on either side, white linen cloth and napkin bearing Aegis’ logo expertly placed. Everything else in the room was undisturbed, as though the quarters had no occupant. Over the past few months Amanda had grown accustomed to the captain’s demeanor. She knew her quirks and her methods, and she knew that this would probably be more like a chess match than an interview. There was no sense in mincing words. Mr Roberts' request that she “have a chat” implied that he wanted a full assessment, and given the circumstances, that is exactly what he would get. "Counselor." Polite, but not amiable. “Hello, Captain. How are you?" "You are the counselor," she replied flatly. A hand waved Amanda into an armchair. "You tell me." "All right,” said Amanda, taking a minute to settle in. Then she leaned forward to speak. "You are stubborn and willful. You are determined to be uncooperative and you are thoroughly enjoying being able to intimidate everyone and keep them guessing. In short, you are the same obnoxious person you've always been." The captain’s lips curled into a mischievous grin. "Except..." Amanda paused, unrelenting in her gaze. "Except...?" A playful brow rose. "Except that there is something you find very disturbing. In fact, it's so disturbing that you want to bury it. You're not only hiding it from us, you're trying to hide it from yourself." “Really,” the captain replied, playing along. After considerable thought, the tall Bajoran stepped slowly away from the viewport and relaxed into an armchair facing the counselor. "Obnoxious," she said, fingers steepled at her chin. "Nasty, unpleasant, and disagreeable - am I correct?" "And several other things I shan’t mention because they are impolite. But there you are again, Captain, skirting the issue, changing the subject to throw me off track. Captain, we need to get to the real issue." "Which is..?" "What you are hiding, even from yourself." The captain’s look softened but the smirk remained and she chuckled, flicking a nonexistent speck from her uniform. “You know me too well, Counselor Davis. And so does Mr. Roberts, apparently, since he sent you.” She paused, then looked up. “I find the direct approach more effective.” "Very well, then. What happened on TKR-117?" The tale unraveled slowly, beginning with the descent into the archaeological dig, following the runes, arriving at the 12th level chamber, hearing the voice, and ending with the ascent into a different place . It seemed the stuff of fairytales, hardly believable but still having a kind of sense to it. If anything, the captain was not one to spin tales - at least not like that one. After a long silence Amanda recovered enough to ask, "The stars had a different configuration. Have you any idea where you were based on that?" “Not of the planet, but I do have an idea of the galaxy.” "The galaxy?" "Counselor, Captain d’Ka is much more traveled than anyone in Starfleet. According to him, it is the home galaxy of the Daoine’eile." “The Daoine’eile?” The captain shrugged. “The Daoine’eile, the Quadin, the Ostatní. There are as many names for them as species in the galaxy - or the universe, for that matter. A powerful, advanced race, and fearsome though not to be feared.” “And how do you know you weren't hallucinating or dreaming when you were in that…” she waved a hand, “...other place?” “At the time, I believed that I was dreaming. However,” she reached into her pocket, retrieved the stone, and handed it to Amanda, “when Dr. Nagi found me wandering and… incoherent, as he put it… I had this in my possession.” "It's very warm," said Amanda as she turned it over in her hand, “warmer than it should be from being in your pocket. But…” she looked up, “this proves that you were there, Captain, so this can’t possibly be what disturbs you." “No, it is not,” Captain Chirakis sighed and shifted as though weighing her words. “Counselor, there is a block of time I cannot account for, when I remember nothing.” An ironic chuckle brought her eyes to lock on Amanda’s while she spoke with precise emphasis on every word. “I have absolutely no memory from the time I entered the world of the Daoine’eile to the time I was found wandering by Dr. Nagi. I could easily have been the one to attack the station.” * * * * * Amanda stepped out of the lift as soon as the doors opened at the control tower. The stone was warm and soothing in her hand. Jylliene was busy at the operations console. Shift personnel moved in comfortable, intricate synchronicity, each one instinctively knowing when to move or dodge as they exchanged data and ideas. And directly in front of her a rested and refreshed Mr. Roberts stood waiting.
  7. "Dormez vous?" The floor wasn’t exactly the most comfortable place to sleep, but at this point it didn’t seem to matter. Anywhere you could sleep sufficed, and Amanda had fallen asleep on the floor, leaning against a bulkhead with a child on her lap. In her cobwebbed waking moments she remembered prodding Ejiul out of his resignation and consoling Annisha with a lullaby. After that she had moved from one child to another, humming and singing softly, soothing their weary young souls. Eventually most of them had fallen asleep, and one had settled on her lap as she sang, “Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques, dormez vous? Dormez vous?” She had a passing thought about the irony of the situation, then she had fallen asleep, only to awake and realize even she had slept through several attacks. So… it’s been 36 hours since the first attack, and the attacks come every… 30 minutes? No, every 33 minutes. That makes… Amanda closed her eyes to concentrate, breathing deeply, but it didn’t seem to make much difference. ...that makes how many attacks? Sixty five? Sixty six…? At this point most of the children in the safe rooms were sleeping. Even klaxons and bombardment didn’t awaken them. Everyone, including the doctors, medical technicians, the security detail, and…. well, just everyone was exhausted. No, they were beyond exhaustion, and it suddenly struck Amanda that the situation outside these protective walls could be very dangerous. Sleep deprivation. Surveying the sleeping bodies - some on cots, some in chairs, some with books in hand or toys dangling mid-play…. If they were tired, what about those who were defending the station? Page by page her mind reviewed the medical manual: Sleep deprivation can lead to decreased performance and alertness, memory and cognitive impairment, poor judgement, relationship problems between and among teammates, depression, impaired vision, hallucination, paranoia, decreased fine and gross motor control that could result in stumbling, falling, or... firing a weapon unintentionally…? Ever so gently Dr. Davis lifted the toddler and placed him on a cot, then straightened her skirt, checked in with Kat and Dacia, and left the safety and security of the Children’s Home bound for the Control Tower. Mr. Roberts was a military man through and through, and he’d probably seen more battles than he could remember. Amanda knew there were protocols in place to deal with such problems, but she felt compelled to check. Whether the lift would allow her to enter the CT in a time of crisis remained to be seen.
  8. “Are we going to die?” A Joint Log by Kat and Amanda Kat had a low in the incoming injuries and had gotten word that some of the children may need attention. She had an old walking stick in her quarters and, knowing what she had done to her knee, knew she was going to need it. She grabbed the hypos and gave her knee another dose of cortisone and another round of painkillers. She would have to deal with it sometime, but right now the children would come first. She bent her knee a few times to work the medication around in it then grabbed a fresh med kit and headed off for her quarters to get her walking stick then to the Children's ward. Kat entered the Children's safe zone and saw the children huddled in the middle of the floor. She also saw Dr. Amanda on the opposite side speaking with a young Rihan boy. She walked over towards them as they talked but did not interfere as she listened closely to what was being said. “Are we going to die?” Amanda started, then took a deep breath. The young Rihan boy knelt on the floor, hands folded listlessly in his lap. His deep brown eyes held total resignation as they stared beyond the shelter’s walls into dark memories. For the last 24 hours there had been a lull of just over 30 minutes between the attacks. Because it was predictable it should have been a comfort, but for some reason he treated it like the calm before the storm, the universe taunting him with peace before snatching him from existence during this raid, or the next, or the next.... To any other child, Amanda would have said, “Of course not,” but knowing Ejiul, the comment would have been trite, or even cruel. He seemed to understand beyond his years the threat they faced. Whatever had given him that insight must have been painful beyond words, but at this point its origin didn’t matter. “I don’t know,” Amanda whispered as she knelt down beside him. “But I do know that we are well defended, and that those who defend us are strong warriors. We have many friends and allies to help us, and they should come very soon.” Here she paused to gauge his reaction, but he continued to sit and stare blankly at the floor, the wall, and whatever dark scene his mind conjured. She adopted a more serious tone. “I also know something else, and it’s something very important.” The boy’s gaze shifted as he turned to face her, his expression demanding more. “I know that it doesn’t do any good to sit... and wait... and do nothing.” Her tone was firm, meant to provoke him away from whatever nightmare he was reliving. His face flushed and his jaw clenched, fists balled and ready to strike. Amanda braced herself. “I’m just a boy of ten summers,” he spat, gesturing... “imprisoned here with these… children. What am I supposed to do, take up arms I don't have? Command an imaginary ship and join the fight? Summon an army and….” His rant continued for some time before he settled down, and only then did Amanda address him quietly, yet sternly, meeting his eyes straight on, as a Rihan mother would. “Firstly, Ejiul, you are not a prisoner here, you are here at the order of your family,” she countered, ignoring the looks some of the children were giving him. “They put you here for a reason, and you know why. You are not just a boy. You are Rihan, and you are a warrior of the House of Keirianh. You are noble, Ejiul, and you are a leader. You have passed through the Great Fire and you are strong. You will do what you can, whether ten or ten thousand summers, and you will do it well.” With sudden maturity, his face grew livid and he contained his anger with the piercing glare Amanda had seen all too often from the Chief Engineer. In a matter of seconds he had turned away and was marching toward the others. Amanda followed. “What must I do,” he growled. “Whatever we can, Ejiul. Let’s go find out.” Listening to the conversation, Kat’s stomach turned hearing the fear but yet determination that the boy had. She was glad that Amanda was the one to speak to him. She wasn’t sure she could have handled that as well as she did. Kat watched as Amanda moved on with the youngster but stayed behind not to be in the way. She just looked over the huddle in the middle to see if she could spot anyone hurt.
  9. Dogs and Cats A Joint Log with Captain Chirakis and Amanda Davis It wasn’t like Captain Chirakis to mingle with children, much less visit the Children’s Home at length. Oh, she came for routine inspection, but she never stayed beyond ten or fifteen minutes. So when Amanda first noticed her just outside the door to the playroom, she assumed the captain was there to make sure the newest additions were comfortable. When she passed an hour later and the captain was still there, Amanda realized there must be something more to it than mere curiosity. She had a distant look, one that Amanda hadn’t seen since the memorial service for those who fell during the Aegis campaign. The captain was looking toward the children, but not at them. She wasn’t watching them, she was thinking, and the thinking she was doing reflected in her expression as painful. Most of the children had settled down and were excitedly investigating their surroundings, but there were a few who played by themselves, as if they were lost in their own little worlds. One or two were struggling terribly with their young lives and remained huddled in a corner, refusing to speak or make eye contact with anyone. They’d been that way since they came to the Home and no doubt would be for some time. It was these children the captain watched. Had they something in common? There were many things the captain hadn’t shared and Amanda hadn’t pressed the issue, but she took the captain’s presence as a signal that perhaps this was the time to deal with it, so as soon as she was able she walked casually in that direction. “HoD GoragH hardened me to this,” the captain commented darkly with a jut of her chin toward the children even before Amanda could greet her. “We often came upon children. During raids, there were always the children left behind to fend for themselves. Some were capable. Some were not….” She left off, her expression turning grim. It wasn’t something to discuss, especially in this setting. Instead Amanda replied, “HoD GoragH was your adoptive father?” “Yes,” the captain brightened, if only slightly. “But more than father. He was first my captain and the first time you crossed him would be your last.” She paused in a warning growl, then a faint reminiscent chuckle. “He was a strict taskmaster, a strong fearless leader, and a warrior to the death. I believe you would say he was my... mentor?” “Yes. Mentor is a good word.” After a nod and a moment of silence the captain shifted her attention to Amanda. “So what is to be done?” “To be done with what?” “The children, of course. Isn’t that why they are here?” “Oh. Of course. To be done with the children. You mean,” the counselor cleared her throat to think, “how are we to help them overcome….” “Yes.” Her wave took in the children’s play area. “How will you teach them to overcome?” “Well, we use several therapies: play, art, songs, writing, discussion, and….” Amanda hesitated, as the subject had not yet been broached, “...animals.” There came a long pause with a blank stare. “Animals.” “Yes. Animals. And I’m thinking especially about dogs and cats.” The stare again. But at least it was a thinking stare,not a cutting stare. “Dogs, as in canines. The kind that bark and walk on four legs?” Amanda nodded. “And not Caits but... cats.” She spat the word with her eyes narrowed and her hand gestured as she spoke, “The ones that rub against your legs, leaving… fur… all over your uniform?” Well, perhaps cats weren’t exactly the best idea, however, “Yes, Captain. Cats.” “And what… exactly… would these dogs and... cats... do for the children?” “Well, the presence of any small animal has a soothing effect…” she paused at the captain’s expression, “...for most children. Dogs can sense when a humanoid is upset or about to be upset. They stay close and can be very comforting until the problem passes. And cats purr, which is also soothing.” The captain didn’t seem to be warming to the idea. “Of course, they would be screened and trained well before any of them worked with the children. Dr. Schawnsee has used animals for therapy, and Dr. Sandero has, in her capacity as a pediatrician. In fact, she has a beautiful pug….” “A pug.” “Yes, a pug.” “It’s a dog?” “Yes, a dog.” “Dogs, and… cats.” “Yes, Captain. Dogs and cats.” There was a long pause while the captain studied the ceiling, lips pursed. "Very well. Send the proper paperwork." Amanda took heart until, just before the doors to the Home closed she heard, “Cats.”
  10. Beyond Her Ken A Joint Log by Captain Chirakis and Counselor Davis “Oh my, Captain,” Counselor Amanda Davis finally broke the silence. Her mouth agape as Amanda looked up from the PADD, the remnants of her Welsh accent hung in the air. In light of the directive they had recently received from the RSE concerning the orphans’ education Amanda expected something, but certainly not this. They were well settled into a smooth generally accepted curriculum in the Childrens’ Home and the report she had just read seemed to put the kibosh on everything. “I’ve never seen figures like this before.” Captain Chirakis seemed to take it in stride. “Nor have I,” she remarked blandly, “especially in one so young. However, if one had the correct teaching and was encouraged from birth, perhaps…. ” “Oh, no, Captain,” Amanda broke in, leaving the captain with her mouth open. One seldom survived the captain’s correction when she was interrupted, but Amanda ignored the raised brow and pressed on. “Any ordinary child taught from birth might be ahead of her peers when it comes to shapes, figures, reading, computation, and the like, but this?” She waved the PADD in the air between them. “This is no ordinary child. She is way beyond O levels, and quite a bit above A levels. Whatever are we to do for her education?” “That,” the captain reached for another PADD, “is where you come in, Counselor.” The first thing Amanda noticed as she took it in hand was the UFP symbol emblazoned on the PADD’s cover. It was separated from the much more imposing symbol of the Romulan Star Empire by a thick diagonal line. Across the top of the screen was Annisha’s name in both languages, followed by a detailed description of what the reader would find within. Everything on the PADD was side-by-side, first in Rihan and then in Federation Standard. Her astonishment melted into concentration as Amanda paged quickly through the syllabus, then the sample of lessons that followed. At the end of the introduction was a method of scoring and monitoring progress, then the system of reporting her scores to a higher authority. The manual was extensive and it took her some time to glance through it but the captain didn’t seem to mind the wait. “I sent the psychological evaluations you provided,” Captain Chirakis gestured with a hand, “along with the educational diagnostic from the station’s computer system to the professionals you suggested. They collaborated and chose the most appropriate material for her diagnosed capability.” “And did you tell them how old she is?” “They did not ask. Is it important?” “Well, yes it’s important, Captain. It’s very important. There’s a distinct difference between cognitive age and emotional age and when one so young is capable of technical manipulations well beyond her years, special accommodations must be made so her intelligence does not overwhelm the emotional needs of a girl her age. But now that I think of it, I always include age when I evaluate anyone, and you sent my evaluation, so they must have known. But tell me, Captain, how are we to handle this?” “Which? The intelligence or the emotions?” “Oh,” she’d gotten ahead of herself again. “I mean how are we to pursue this; how are we to implement… to use this curriculum? How are we to teach her?” “You are the counselor, Ms. Davis. That is for you to decide.” “Oh. I see.” Timid? yes. A bit overwhelmed? Definitely. “And am I to have anyone to help me?” “SubCenturion tr’Korjata has been informed and has already begun some of the lessons.” There was that nod again, like it was nothing, nothing at all for anyone to take on the educational responsibility of…. Then it hit her. “Nijil?” Oh, it came out so quickly. It jumped right out of her mouth before she could stop it and she wished she could take it back especially when she saw Captain Chirakis’ reaction. “Please don’t get me wrong, Captain. But,” she sucked in a breath to think, to gather her wits, “Nijil isn’t exactly a teacher.” “He seems to be doing well so far.” The captain’s expression hadn’t changed. It was her piercing ‘why not’ look, the kind you really don’t want to challenge. “What I mean is,” Amanda stammered, gesturing nervously, “that he’s not a trained teacher. You know, one who has gone to university to learn how to teach, what to say, how to go about things, how to break down assignments into….” The captain continued to stare. “But of course,” Amanda took another breath and forced a smile, “that can be rectified.” “Rectified?” She didn’t seem to understand. “Yes, rectified. Changed. I mean, I can teach him… how to teach.” “Good. Then do so.”
  11. No Other Love Amanda Davis Oh, my… a lover’s note. Amanda’s eyes sparkled with mischief as the thin, tightly-wound scroll tucked deep into the crotch of the willow tree came within reach. Had not the artificial arboretum breeze flicked a wispy tail of ribbon into view, she would not have noticed it at all. But she had, and now her fingers gently worked it out of its hiding place and she cradled it in one hand, studying it with immense curiosity. It wasn’t the first one she’d found - and read before putting it back, mind you. As the centerpiece of the arboretum’s fragrant rose and iris garden, the willow served the crew in many ways. To Counselor Amanda Davis, it was a private retreat. After a tiring day she welcomed its gently-flowing tendrils that veiled her from the workaday world, cleansed her thoughts and renewed her energies. For others, it served a variety of purposes, from family picnics to an ideal place for very private moments. In fact, it had become the station’s preferred love-nest, and there Amanda had stumbled upon - and embarrassed - many an entwined couple in her wanderings. Finally the temptation was too much, and with the enthusiasm of a young schoolgirl Amanda glanced around, then carefully removed the silk ribbon and slowly pried it open. The paper crinkled at her touch. It had the ancient feel of fine parchment, the kind used either for art projects or for framed documents that were meant more for show than for officiality. The writing was a beautifully crafted script in Federation Standard. Strange, she thought. Generally the notes were poems, short rhymes, or the occasional song, childishly crafted and appreciated only by the sender and the recipient. They were seldom in Federation Standard. Settling easily against the tree’s broad trunk, Amanda smoothed the paper against her lap and began to read. Hello, Baba. It’s me, L’illia. I haven’t heard from you for a very long time but I keep writing, hoping that you’ll find my notes and answer them. Even though we’re not home anymore I know you’ll find them. Mama always said you were clever like that; no matter where I put them you would find them. You were like a sprite, she said; you knew my every move and thought. And you did, Baba, so many times. When I thought I was being clever at hiding things you always found them. I know you’ll find this eventually. I know you’ll find me. Mama and Papa are gone now, Baba. At least that’s what they tell me. The Great Fire came so quickly they didn’t have time to leave. I remember someone grabbing me from my bed and shoving me into a transport with a lot of other children. Everyone was screaming and crying. I was, too, Baba. I’m so ashamed. You always told me to be strong no matter what because that’s the Rihan way. I try, Baba. I really do. But I miss Mama and Papa, and I miss you. I live on a station far from home now, Baba. It’s called Aegis. At first the transport took us to a planet called Alastair. It was like ch’Rihan, with green hills, beautiful flowers, and nice people who took care of us. We stayed there for a while until they could get the station ready and then they moved us there so our families could find us. No one has found me yet, Baba. Not Mama, not Papa, not Uncle, not Auntie, and not you, Baba. I heard someone say you’re all gone; they said it in whispers but I heard them. I’m scared, Baba. I’m so scared. Please don’t be gone. Please find me. The words on the page began to blur. Amanda blinked, then smoothed the paper once more before continuing. I have nothing from home except my doll, Lilibeth. I was sleeping with her when we had to leave. And I have my nighty - the one you gave me for my birthday last year? I have that, too. I’m very careful with it, Baba. It’s not even soiled, not in the least. And that stone you gave me? The smooth one from the river? I have that, too, because it was in Lilibeth’s pocket. I hold her close at night, and when I close my eyes I can smell you and I can smell Mama and Papa and home. Please, Baba. I want to go home. We go to school here, Baba, and learn all kinds of things. There is a nice lady who takes care of us. She’s human but she’s married to a Rihan. Her name is Mimi. It sounds like Mama’s name, but not exactly. Everyone calls her Doctor. There is another lady, too, one just as nice as Mimi. She’s gentle and her eyes tell me that she really cares. We call her Auntie, but the others call her Counselor. She wears skirts that make noise like the wind in the trees when she moves. She smells of sweet flowers, Baba, like the flowers in your garden.... L’illia’s words melted into one unintelligible stream. Thought piled upon thought, scene upon scene until Amanda found herself clutching the parchment, pressing it into her breast as though that simple act could erase every hurt, every torment. She choked on her tears but soon they began to flow freely. Torrents cascaded down her cheeks and onto the scroll, cleansing the wound that had opened a great chasm in her soul, each word piercing deeper and deeper, forcing her into an emotional blur that, until that moment, she had hidden so well, sheltered from the children and the crew in the name of professionalism. As if on cue, the arboretum breeze stirred, carrying with it a heady fragrance of rose and iris. It swirled the willow’s branches toward her and curled them around her feet, its heavier boughs moaning in concert with her pain. Great heavy sobs escaped for what seemed like hours until there came a sudden, inexplicable quietude, an emptiness that left her weak because she had no more to give. L’illia was one of the most beautiful children Amanda had ever known. Her silky black hair framed dark azure eyes, deep pools of hidden secrets that she would have never shared were it not for Annisha. She and Annisha had become dear, dear friends, but now that Annisha had been adopted, L’illia was once again alone. In the aftermath of her grief, Amanda wondered who this Baba was, and if he really did perish, or if by some wondrous providence he or she had survived. Oh, please let it be so, Amanda whispered, still clutching the scroll. Dear God, please let it be so. Let them be alive. In your boundless love you have a place for her. Let it be with them.
  12. Broken Ties Her small hand firmly secured by her adoptive Romulan mother, Annisha’s gaze wandered imploringly toward Amanda as they passed, as though her young mind bottled up a torrent of emotions. Annisha’s free hand gave a quick wave before they rounded the corner to the docking area. her action leaving Amanda choking back the emotions she’d kept in check for the last few days, dreading the day that came all too quickly. “Don’t torture yourself like that, Amanda,” urged a soft voice next to her. “She’s gone to a good home, to good stable parents; she’ll have a lovely life, and surely they will visit, or at least you can visit them.” The voice belonged to Sidra, Amanda’s friend and confidante since childhood. They’d chosen similar paths, as is often the case with close friends. She was right, of course, but Amanda still could not help staring - first at the docking ring, then out the viewport as the Romulan ship departed, taking Annisha to her new home. “You remember when we first parted, Amanda,” Sidra continued, “and we both had that same feeling, that we would probably never see each other again? And, honestly, how many times have our paths crossed? And now we find ourselves at the same posting.” It took several minutes of contemplation before Amanda turned to face her friend. They’d shared many a secret concern, the most recent being the plight of the Romulan orphans: if they would be reunited with their families, find good homes, or spend the rest of their childhoods making a family with the others who had nowhere else to go. “It’s not that, Sidra,” Amanda finally replied, her expression more concerned than melancholy. “I’ve become close to so many of these beautiful children and so far I’ve had no problem watching them leave. But I have a very uneasy feeling about Annisha, about her parents. It’s something I can’t quite put my finger on. Something about them just makes me... shudder.” Sidra glanced out the viewport to an empty berth, then to the standard departure vector that Annisha’s ship had taken, but it had already merged with several others in the channel, making it impossible to distinguish one from the other. “I had the same feeling, Amanda. Why didn’t you tell me before now?” “I don’t know,” she said on a sigh, “I believe I was either hoping I was wrong, or perhaps putting it off to my own feelings for her, wishing I could keep her here, somehow. You know, even adopt her myself.” She finally looked up to Sidra. “But the feeling is still there, and even moreso now that they’ve gone.” There was a long period of silence between them, finally broken by Sidra. “I think we should tell the captain.” “Yes,” Amanda agreed, “I do believe we should.”
  13. “Disparity” Amanda Davis and Captain Chirakis After their last meeting, Amanda’s trip to Captain Chirakis’ office didn’t give her the usual knot in her stomach, but not until she settled onto the settee, Darjeeling steaming in her cup, did she realize how comfortable she was. The captain sat directly facing her in the armchair, quite relaxed. “There’s something strange about the Romulans,” said Amanda just before her first sip. “Really?” The captain smiled, bemused. "And you felt the need to tell me that." Amanda nearly choked, but the teacup did make it to the saucer in time. “Sorry,” she said, clearing her throat, “I wasn’t referring to Romulans in general, of course. I was was actually referring to the Romulans who are adopting Annisha.” She paused, putting her cup aside. “I met them on the midway and we had quite a conversation. There are things about them, things they said that strike me as being quite uncharacteristic of Romulans. I feel that they are not being truthful, and that I was being played, if you know what I mean.” Captain Chirakis’ expression changed. Brow raised, her eyes met Amanda’s with intense interest. “I do know what you mean, Counselor. Can you be specific?” “Well, the first thing I noticed was that T’Nari stood aside and said little unless she was spoken to, which seemed quite odd given that the Romulans, for the most part, are gender-equal. But I passed it off initially because Jolar, as the male figure, is the traditional head of household for humans.” The captain gave a slight smile before saying, “I know a few who would argue that point, Counselor, but continue.” “Yes. Well, what really struck me as odd is that Jolar admitted that his wife was barren. We were in a public place, mind you, and he was essentially talking to a stranger. And then she almost began to cry as she looked at Annisha.” Here Amanda paused for the captain’s reaction. “Does that not seem odd to you?” she asked after a long moment. “For most Romulans it is not customary to admit one’s sexual shortcomings,” she admitted, “nor is it customary to cry, especially in public. But these are not usual times, Counselor. Go on.” “Then, when we brought up the problem with records being lost in the Great Fire, Jolar commented that they were ‘not as passionate as Cardassians in our record keeping.’ I find that very odd, given the strained relations between Romulans and Cardassians, especially since the Dominion War.” If Captain Chirakis had any thoughts, she kept them to herself. The rest of the visit passed congenially, the captain asking questions about Annisha, how she was faring, what, if anything, she was willing to share about her real parents, and what Jolar and T’Nari had told her about the planet A’Tari. There wasn’t much to share except the general feeling of being played, to which the captain seemed to agree. Amanda left the control tower with mixed feelings. She had told the captain, the captain seemed concerned, and she promised to ‘look into it.’ Amanda wished she had the resources to look up the background of the adoptive parents, but she did resolve to keep a close watch on Annisha.
  14. Between the Lines Captain Chirakis and Counselor Davis “Tell me, Doctor, what you think of the child, Annisha.” Abrupt, as usual. Definitely not mincing words. Cutting to the chase. It amazed Amanda the number of trite expressions that popped into her mind when the captain spoke. “Well,” she began as the captain paused the command lift for privacy. “She is definitely capable.” “Only capable?” The head-tilt, the piercing eyes, the crossed arms - all called for something more, perhaps something different? “What, exactly are you looking for?” “I am looking for your professional assessment of the abilities of the child, Annisha, who presently resides in the orphanage, whose house is not known, whose origins are not known, who has been claimed for adoption, and whose abilities you have just witnessed via my personal viewscreen.” And now the captain was angry. At what? Amanda watched her a minute, thought a minute, and then straightened up, meeting the captain’s eyes for probably the first time since she’d come aboard. “May I be frank, Captain?” The piercing gaze remained. “Why should you not be frank, Counselor?” “Well, because... you can be very intimidating, and... frankly...” she took a deep breath, trying not to lose her temper, “I’ve had enough intimidation.” Kirel held her gaze for a moment, then restarted the lift with, “Computer, my office. Direct.” Amanda remained facing her, unyielding. Kirel, on the other hand, relaxed. Her arms were still crossed, but she stared thoughtfully at the ceiling, then stepped out, leading Amanda into her office. “Please, Counselor, make yourself comfortable while I make tea.” “Tea?” Amanda wasn’t quite sure she wanted tea at this point. “Darjeeling,” came the calm reply from the bar not far from the settee, “one lump, correct?” Amanda perched on the edge of the settee. In a moment the captain returned with a... tea tray? “One lump?” The captain repeated after setting the tray on the coffee table. “Yes. One,” Amanda replied, her face still flushed, “thank you.” There followed a few minutes of silence. They faced each other, Amanda on the settee and Captain Chirakis in a chair, not exactly facing her, not exactly turned away. It was a comfortable angle. Amanda took a tentative sip of her tea. “Intimidate,” Kirel began pensively. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but it means ‘to frighten or overawe in order to gain control.’” “Yes.” She seemed to mull that over a second. “And I intimidate you.” “Yes. Yes, you do. Not... all the time, but most of the time.” “Then I have accomplished my goal.” Kirel sipped her tea. “Beg your pardon?” The warm fragrance of Darjeeling filled the silenced room. Amanda relaxed a bit more as the captain settled comfortably against the back of her chair, cup in hand. Her expression and tone softened but her delivery remained direct, and her words were measured. “Counselor, this station sits on the edge of hostile territory, much of it completely unknown. The dangers we face here are unlike any among the allied powers, and much unlike any I have ever encountered. To survive one must be physically and mentally strong. One must be able to judge swiftly and accurately friend or foe, and be able to face a foe... or a danger... without succumbing to fear.” The captain put her cup aside. “Since I came aboard this station I have sensed your fear, Doctor Davis, especially your fear of me. To be effective, whether you are counseling civilian support, crew, or command... and you will have occasion to counsel command... you must display the same approach to fear that you desire to instill in them. You cannot succumb to fear. To that end, I have pushed you to your limit of endurance. You have confronted your fear, conquered it by confronting me, and are now ready to be effective in your role as counselor. I have achieved my goal.” Amanda sat staring, at a loss for words. “Now. Do I intimidate you, Counselor?” “No, you do not,” she replied timidly. “Counselor,” the captain repeated, leaning into her words, “do I intimidate you?” Amanda jerked up. “No,” she exclaimed. “Certainly not!” “Good.” Kirel leaned back, picking up her cup, “Tell me about Annisha.”
  15. No Word for "Secret" in Nijil's Dictionary by Nijil and Amanda Aegis's expansive arboretum was a place of refuge for Amanda. It was not only beautiful, but its selection of species rivaled some of the Federation's best collections and its expanse provided seclusion for many a recluse - and today Amanda felt much like a recluse. She lingered by the water garden, its trickles soothing her soul as she fed the harlequin salamanders. She stopped for a chat with Jahn Lee in the orchid garden - always a blessing. Then came the rose garden; that's when nostalgia took hold, urging her toward her favorite willow tree. Its branches brushing the ground with a comforting swoosh in the artificial breeze reminded her of Wales. Amanda wrapped her skirt around her legs for a bit of warmth and stretched out beneath its soothing boughs and closed her eyes. Within seconds she had put aside the stress of their upcoming mission; she was back home, playing in her childhood garden. * * * * * * * Nijil needed to get away from the metal. The alloys started to get on his nerves. Corridors, shafts and bulkheads. All of it. This stroll marked his first time in this part of the station. Nearly like home. Just nearly. The paths were marked by either polished concrete or, for the more adventurous, flat stones. He took one of these paths to avoid running into others. As he trekked through the winding passage of thick plantlife thoughts of Jylliene filled his mind. She would adore this place. Nijil smiled and made a mental note to choose a prime location. He stopped to get his bearings, noticing a large willow tree afar. The tree grew larger the closer he walked. It may very well be the centerpiece of the entire arboretum. The path of stones ended on the concrete again, but a new one started on the other side. The willow lay dead ahead so the engineer leapt across and rejoined the stone path. He ran faster, skipping the multitude of delightful flowers lining it. The feeling of running felt really good. The run probably meant he did not exercise nearly enough. The corridors, as long as they were had nothing on the beauty of... "Ooof!" Nijil tripped over something not quite solid. His face hit the ground first before he realized what happened. Now he knew why he only jogged when he was late. "Oh, my! Are you alright?" Amanda jerked up, tucking her legs beneath her to help the young Romulan who had just tripped over her outstretched limbs. I'm so sorry. Please tell me you are alright." He lay motionless for a moment, taking in the closeness to the ground. Feeling if he indeed had feeling in his legs...or face. "Oh..oww," he groaned. His world had gone black or dark green. "Oh, dear. You're injured. Should I call the doctor?" "Na, I'm fine." He flipped himself over and looked to the sky. The willow tree was overhead. His breathing raced as the tiny cuts on his face started to share their pain. "I am na fine." He remained on the ground. "I was going to say you didn't look fine. Where do you hurt? Or... I suppose I should ask, 'Where do you hurt most?'" Memories of his past falls, of which there were many, crossed his mind. "My pride." He looked at the person he tripped over. Not Rihan nor Trill. Human? He did not remember her face. "Well, if only your pride hurts, then you'll be fine," Amanda replied in relief as she removed her silk scarf, dabbed it in the fountain next to her, and began to clean his face. "I must say, even for a Romulan that much green does not do you justice at all." "Ha, I have heard that one before," he quipped. Manners, he heard his mother say in the back of his mind. "Really?" she replied, bemused. "Are you in the habit of falling face-down in the arboretum, then?" "This is my first time here, so no. I did not know anyone was here," he started to pull himself up. "Are you injured?" "Me? Oh, my no, unless you consider embarrassment a 'hurt.'" Rocking back on her heels, Amanda rinsed the scarf, gave it one more dip in the fountain and moved to complete her task. "I'm embarrassed and sorry that I had my legs stretched out so far as to trip someone. Hold still, now, and we're almost done.... There." She checked her work. "Just the right amount of green." "Nijil. Engineer." he said as he extended his hand. "Thank you." "Oh. Of course." Amanda wiped her hands before offering hers. "Amanda. Aegis's counselor in residence, or as some call me, 'the resident shrink.'" She laughed. "Nice to meet you, Nijil. Have you been here long? On Aegis, I mean." His eyes widened. He knew the Rihan definition of "counselor," but not the Federation's. "Oh, well. I've been here for a few months around the time of the last refugee arrival." He now sat with his knees pulled up a bit toward his chest. She must be human, he thought. "Human?" "Yes. Terran, actually. From Wales, a very small country with many flowers and trees such as they have in this area of the arboretum. That's why I come here. It reminds me so much of home." Another pang of homesickness hit her and she leaned into the comfort of the willow's trunk. "I'm sorry," she sighed. "I'm being so selfish. I imagine you're more than a bit homesick, and I shouldn't be. At least I have a home to return to. Please accept my condolences on your loss, Nijil." "Yes, you would have to remove all of this plantlife with a gamma ray burst to get the same look as my home. The Breen were responsible for the eventual damage. Not the Federation or Earth." His sickness came not from landscapes or plants, but family he could not find. "My parents were farmers, my sister in education. They are my real losses." Apparently at a loss for words, Amanda watched him a moment, then ventured, "They must have been wonderful family. Can you tell me about them?" "Wonderful is not the ideal word I would use. Perhaps Jentela. She's the closest to wonderful. She taught at a local primary school just over a set of rolling hills past the farm. Was with child at the time of the attack." Nijil imagined the destruction. "She had a comfort around children don't have. The children liked her, alot. Quite the opposite of my father with respect to kids. "Niilan. Father. He took a rather distanced approach to raising the three of us. Very proud. Very Rihan. He'd blow a plasma manifold if he knew I was involving myself with a Trill. Not that I ever listened to him. Taught me everything I knew about farming and enough to know I did not want to follow in his boot steps." He became lost in thought regarding his parents. Jilliene did not ask about them. She knew they were missing. The engineer pressed on. "Our mother raised the three of us. Great cook. Knew more about how to combine their flavors better than my father knew how to keep them growing." This made him smile even with the tinge of their loss. "Barissa, that's her name, was the driving force for me getting into the military and engineering. 'Forge my own path out of the fire,' she said. I wonder if she was talking about the fire of plasma coursing through starships?" He shook his head, "Anyhow, she steered me straight, talked to the right people and here I am... alive when they may very well not be." "Then you're not certain they are dead, are you?" "No," he answered. "And yet, from your expression you don't seem to believe they might still be alive." "I've been searching subspace transmissions for months and have not found anything. Short of hacking the resources of the station's computer cores it will take some time to scan them all." He had lost hope these past months. "I've not even resumed the search...." His voice trailed off as he realized his search had been replaced by the involvement with Jylliene. He began to feel a bit of guilt. "Nijil." Amanda waited for his attention, then met his eyes with all sincerity. "It's been only a few months. Not even four. I know that's a long time when you're worried, but there are many reasons why you may not have found them yet. They may have taken refuge on a beautiful planet somewhere, but without the resources to even begin to think about subspace communications, without the ability to contact anyone. Your parents, as you describe them, are strong and resourceful. Your sister, more than able. You mustn't give up hope, Nijil. There is always hope." "Jylliene," Nijil stated, not answering a question. "Jylliene, our new operations officer?" Startled, "What about her? Do you know her?" Amanda hazarded a smile. "Well, I do communicate with station operations occasionally," she teased. "I've met her, but I don't believe you could say I know her." "Oh, she's very nice. I think she's why I stopped my search. She has distracted me," he said with a grin. Amanda reminded him a little bit of her. Perhaps Terrans and Trills are closely related. "Well, that's a good distraction, then, isn't it?" "I suppose so. I don't think I've been this close to someone in a long while. It makes me uneasy. I've been involved with someone before and it did not turn out well." After a thoughtful pause she said, "It isn't my place to pry, Nijil, but may I ask you a personal question?" "For a Romulan you've asked many personal questions, but," Nijil brightened, "I'm not like many Romulans. What is your question?" "Would you consider your relationship with Jylliene one of good friendship? And by that I mean: is she a nice person to be with, do you relate well to each other, and most of all, do you seem to understand and respect each other?" "It has been that way as far as I've known her. She's not kicked me out when I've fallen asleep in her quarters. Did not leave me when I got hot sauce on her at dinner." He looked up in thought for a moment. "A Rihan woman would have protested or stalked off by now. As you know I'm a... 'klutz?' She has a high tolerance for my foolishness. We are at a point I've not been with someone before. It's uncharted territory." Amanda flashed an impish smile. "Well, then," she cleared her throat and straightened up into the stereotypical counselor. "Uncharted territory or not, in my professional opinion, Nijil... only my opinion, mind you... you have not only the good beginnings of an excellent relationship, but you might even have enough courage within yourself - non-Romulan that you are - to nurture that relationship into something that lasts. I mean, seriously? Any lady who can endure having a dinner dress ruined by hot sauce is certainly worth pursuing. At least that's my opinion." Nijil decided to get up on his feet. The pain of his fall remained, but he felt better about Jylliene than before he arrived. "It's good to have someone think a relationship could work. I should be talking to her about this. If it weren't for this mission... that I should not have said. Pretend I did not say anything." "Say what, Nijil?" Amanda's smile broadened. "And before you see Jylliene, stop at the gazebo in the orchid garden. Jahn Lee, the gardener there, is always looking for someone to admire her orchids and use them for a good cause."