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All the World’s a Stage Nijil Korjata & Amanda Davis The day had been long for Nijil tr'Korjata and it was not even lunch yet. Administering the repairs and maintenance of a space station of thousands drained his personal energy reserves. Watching the teams work, little dots on a holographic model of the station, was oddly satisfying. The spill on level 37 remained the only hiccup, but as he looked at the chrono it was not yet lunch. "No injuries or deaths. I'll take it," Nijil said to himself. He often spoke aloud as he worked as it helped him deal with issues as they arrived. He could pose questions to himself rather than let all his thoughts and doubts merely rattle in his head. If talking to himself bothered the other engineers they did not say anything. Every so often one of them would answer him if it was a simple problem with an answer escaping him. "The utilities specialist that got the dose of coolant on his uniform will be fine Chief," an attractive member of his team piped in. New or here for months, he could not remember. With so many on the station, people started to look the same after a while. "That is good news." Nijil sighed. "Suppose we need to send a team to investigate." "Investigate what?" Nijil was taken aback. "Why the root cause of the breakage. What manufacturer, when was the faulty part constructed, or was it our fault?" The engineer looked puzzled, then approached. "We could look into it beyond the normal protocols if you like." "Yes, leave no tree unclimbed." "Tree what?" she asked. "Nevermind, please see this investigation to its conclusion," Nijil instructed, looking directly at her. She simply nodded. "Right away SubCommander." Then she turned and crossed through the door and out of main engineering. Nijil smiled. "Certainly a well-trained bunch of people. Could have used this kind of work..." He stopped his out loud monologue as someone important entered main engineering. “Hello, Nijil,” said Amanda as she approached and straightened the Starfleet uniform that she seldom wore. “I see everyone is very busy. How are things going down here?” "Captain...a pleasure to see you down in this corner of the station, the heart if you will. Things are going, well...I believe they are going very well. Teams are out there fixing the station." Nijil straightened his uniform in turn, wondering for a moment if it was on backwards. The communications badge was on correctly at least. He spun up a holodisplay of the station with the workers as dots milling about. "There they are." Amanda smiled as if he was joking about upping her rank a notch. She let it pass and studied the holodisplay of workers. “Yes, they certainly are busy. And how about you? You seem very busy. What are you doing besides fixing things on the station?” She glanced at the decking. “I see that the decking is very clean.” "Oh yes thank you. Long overdue...the cleaning." He blinked, then looked at her. "Wait...pardon, you are not the captain." The Rihan slapped his own forehead almost comically. "Well, attempting to not let this coordination overwhelm me. Sending the right people for the right task. Having the rupture on level 37 investigated. Thinking of the evening meal and how if you let it go time just passes you by." Nijil ran out of breath as he was just running out of things to say. “Settle down, Commander. You don’t have to say… or do everything at once,” said Amanda as she began to notice the ‘strange mannerisms, language, and glances’ from nearby workers. “In fact,” she continued, “it’s time for a break, so… how about lunch? We haven’t had lunch together for quite a while.” "That sounds wonderful. I can't remember the last time we dined together." He said, closing files and the image of the station. "Did you have a place in mind? Perhaps a new place." “This time I’ll let you choose. I’ve heard that Chez Antonio has specials today, but...whatever you would like is fine.” "There are so many places that any will do as long as the cooking smells good." Gestures towards the main door. "Lead the way Doctor." *** Not long after, Nijil and Amanda entered Chez Antonio and hunted for a table. Amanda noticed Captain Chirakis and settled for one a few tables away, close enough for her to hear the conversation. "So," placing his hands on his legs, "what is good here? None of my people have talked about this place. So much replication testing." Nijil smiled. "Even the engineers remain skittish." “Well..,” Amanda began as she flipped open the menu. “Chez Antonio isn’t exactly a regular restaurant. Antonio visited Aegis a few years ago and realized that there were no fine dining restaurants.” She paused to breeze through the menu. “So he decided to stay and open his own restaurant, and he’s thrived ever since. Oh…” Amanda tapped a finger on the menu. “Coq au vin. Perfect.” The SubCommander appeared to be struggling to read the menu. "Was expecting a PADD menu. Get to flex my language skills. Hmm." He scanned the large text for something recognizable, but it all seemed foreign. "The hours lately have tried my sleep. Perhaps I should make that a double." He gulped. "I trust your judgment," smiling and folding the menu up. “Well, Coq au vin is chicken cooked in red wine, carrots, bacon, olive oil, and garlic.” He nodded. "Still sounds like a good choice, both in menu choice and locale. Perhaps I can get a few pointers." Nijl beamed. "Oh! I had Annisha help me cook something using replicated foodstuffs. It really relaxes me after a day of relays and isolinear memory cores." “Wel, I’m not surprised that Annisha cooked. She’s an exceptional young lady. Georgio,” she called to the waiter at the next table. “Two Coq au vin, please. And wine?” she asked Nijil. "Please," he said sternly. Georgio gave a gracious nod and moved on. Amanda relaxed into a contemplative sigh. “This is wonderful, Nijil. It’s been such a long time since we’ve had a chance to relax and talk, and really the first time we’ve gone to dinner together. I hope Jylliene doesn’t mind.” "Yes, a very long time. She is with child, so I...don't know how she will react." He shook his head. "I can deal with my mate if I can handle engineers hounding me all shift long." He paused. “Hounding you?” "Oh you know, asking for approvals, awaiting the next repair work, and asking for advice. Don't get me wrong, the team is great. Just more approaching than I'm accustomed. I mean it's fine. Part of the job." “But you do need rest. Everyone needs rest, especially after what has happened on the station.” "And back to the dream? Did Jylliene tell you of the dreams?" “Dreams?” Amanda was slightly taken aback. “She did mention that you had difficulty sleeping” "Yeah, the replicator issue. People have to eat." “The replicator? You have a dream about a replicator?” Laughs. "No no, though that would be funny. No, the replicators messed with my sleep cycle and yet, the dreams were still vivid. The calm in a storm I'd welcome with an open pillow." “Um…” she mused. “You have bad dreams?” "On the contrary, the place was inviting, the woman there calming, familiar." “The place in your dreams?” Nijil takes the wine placed on the table moments earlier. "A kind of dark room, lab maybe. Mood lighting. I wake up in a bed. The temperature is just right. The hum of a distant machine is just the proper mix of noise. Feels like home." The engineer smiled. "This dream can't be home can it?" He looked at Amanda. "Maybe I need a vacation...again." “Well, no. Dreams are not usually home. Dreams are actually stories and images that our minds create while we sleep. They can be vivid,” she said, taking a sip of wine. “They can be happy, sad, or scared. The most vivid dreams happen when your brain is very active.” "This is my life. My mate. My future child. My current little devil. Don't get me wrong it's a great life, even with the stress of keeping a station running. Is it all in my head? Dreams must be." Putting her dish aside, Amanda rested her arms on the table to speak quietly and ask confidentially, “Nijil, do you ever feel like someone else is in your mind? Something that happens during the day? While you work? When you’re with Annisha? Something you cannot control?” "I believe if there is one universal truth about sentient species across the galaxy it is our propensity to, how is it said, wear masks? Pretend we are someone else if the moment suits us. I surmise this is true as much to ourselves as it is to others." Nijil smiled as he swallowed a copious swig of wine. "I ran across the writings of a sage of old. "All of the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."
A Fold in Time Amanda Davis, MD (Psychiatry) Sky Harbor Aegis Amanda Davis clutched her teacup and reread the patients’ data on her PADD. Most of the crew from RSE Ma’ev had been released from sickbay, and the few remaining were recovering nicely— except for some who were suffering from severe anxiety, fear, and depression. Most of those who were struggling with psychological trauma were fairly young and inexperienced, brought aboard to replace the many who were lost in the the devastation of ch’Rihan. Considering their youth, their inexperience, the anxiety, fear, and depression, Amanda believed that their psychological problems stemmed from experiencing the temporal fold. In essence, their minds were struggling with an extended reliving of the same experience ad infinitum. Her eyes closed into an extended sigh, then she leaned her forehead against one hand and paged through notes with the other. “Amanda?” Startled, her head jerked up to see Dr. Stone’s concerned expression. “Oh. Jeremy. Thank goodness.” She relaxed and waved him into a chair. “You look… exhausted? Frustrated?” he said, slipping into the chair opposite, then corralling cream and sugar set for his coffee. “Oh, yes. Both. And very concerned.” He nodded. “Can I help?” “Well, yes. If you know how to treat Time Perception.” “Time Perception. The Ma’ev’s crew?” “Then you do know.” Amanda’s mood changed instantly. She stared at him for a minute as a grin took form while he added a drop of cream and began to stir. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Jeremy. Of course. You specialize in deep space trauma! How could I ever forget. I should have come to you at the very first. Please… do tell.” After a double-tap of his spoon on the mug and a long first sip, he looked up. “Are we talking about classic or otherwise?” “Well, I’m not sure. It certainly seems classic.” “Anxiety? Fear? Depression? Paranoia?” “Oh, my, yes.” She passed her PADD and he paged through it while he drank. “Hm…. these are the patients I’ve been watching.” He returned the PADD and relaxed in his chair. “The best thing you can do at this point is to sit, listen, and counsel. Their brain scans show a disruption in the communication lines from cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and basal ganglia. An engineer would say that the ODN lines are tangled and crossed. Until they’re… uncrossed, either by counseling or mild medication, their circadian rhythm and ultradian timekeeping will try to make sense separately and might even try to fight each other.” “And when that happens? When they fight each other?” “Oh, any number of things.” He took a sip, then scooted her PADD around, tapped a few sections, then turned it back to a list entitled Temporal Illusions. “Telescoping—thinking that recent events happened long ago and vice versa; overestimating short intervals and underestimating longer intervals; loud or high pitched sounds seeming to last longer than normal sounds. But some of those are normal, not necessarily caused by trauma. Excessive fear, empathy, depression, and the like—those are often trauma.” Amanda sat for a moment, then refilled her teacup as she asked, “And what do you know of temporal folds?” “Hey Amanda,” he laughed. “I’m a doctor, not a scientist. Why do you ask?” “Because….” She returned the pot and waited for his full attention. “The Adriatic is on its way to investigate the temporal fold, and I don’t believe that they realize what they’re getting into. Please excuse me, Jeremy. I’m going to talk to Dr. Pavilion.”