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Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#1 Old 28th Sep 2009 at 12:30 AM Last edited by carenrose : 24th Jul 2011 at 10:23 AM.
Default Picking Up the Pieces (Star Trek) (Ch. 4 - 07/24/11!)
Picking Up the Pieces

Please Read:
Just a few notes about this story before I begin:
* It takes place around 2428-ish ... same timeframe as the uniform set I posted a while back, HERE. To give you an idea, 2424 is about 45 years after the end of ST: Nemesis, the last TNG movie. In fact, one of the characters related to (but not appearing in) this story was born amidst the events of Nemesis, and is in her late 40's now ...
* The basic plot idea this story goes by, was laid out before the release of the 11th Star Trek movie. Therefore, it is not in continuity with this movie.

___________________________________________________________________

Please excuse the not-so-great quality of the pics for this chapter. I did them quickly, and did a lot of photoshopping (GIMPing?), they're not even all from the Sims game ... sorry. (Although, I did create the planets from 2 pictures of rocks! I'm happy about how it came out :D) PLEASE COMMENT!

Prologue

Cirtri. Situated in a quiet little corner near Federation space, it didn't seem like much would happen there. The planet itself was beautiful, serene, a good vacation spot. If it weren't for the fighting.


For many years, the two rival governments of Cirtri had been fighting a war of sorts, a war of threats, alliances, and midnight stealth attacks. The two often involved themselves in the affairs of such powers as the Federation and the Romulans, supporting their respective allies with technology and supplies, and getting the advantage of having someone much bigger on their side.


And thus was the situation now. Within the Federation, there was a near-rebellious coalition of developing worlds that wanted a faster rate of technological development than the Federation thought was good for them. Their former leader, a peaceful, charismatic man, had been assassinated and replaced by someone with much more militant ideas. Cirtri's Lecxèan government began showing concerning support for the faction's new leader.


So, the Federation sent unofficial ambassadors T'Lea and Kareb to their unofficial ally, Xis, to try to swing events in the Federation's favor.


While they were there, however, Lexcè attacked Xis' capital city, Euneva-Kwa, in the middle of the night, forcing a complete evacuation of the city into its extensive network of underground tunnels.




It was from this situation that Capt. Andersen and the USS Taurus was sent to rescue them, and return them home.

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
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Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#2 Old 3rd Oct 2009 at 5:52 AM Last edited by carenrose : 5th Apr 2010 at 7:21 PM.
Default Chapter 1: Diagnosis
Chapter 1: Diagnosis


After the end of her shift in Sickbay, Chief Medical Officer Olivia Hernandez took her normal route back to her quarters, passing though the guest quarters section before officers' quarters. She ran this loop in reverse every morning, starting at her quarters and ending, on her second lap, in Sickbay. And every evening, she walked back home.

Nothing much ever happened, except a few times when she'd pass by people arguing out in the corridor, or a child playing on the floor. Even passing by Sickbay, not much was ever happening.


But as she rounded the corner to the guest quarters' corridor, she saw a dark form lying, motionless, on the floor.


As she approached, she realized it was none other than T'Lea, the Vulcan un-official they were bringing home. She pulled out her medical tricorder and dropped to her knees on the floor.

She tapped her combadge and called the EMH in sickbay. "I need an AG-lift outside of guest quarters immediately!"


He appeared next to her with the anti-grav stretcher in less than 5 seconds.

"She's cyanotic," he said. "What happened?"

"I just found her here. She's apneic ... heart rate at 150 ... Here, help me lift her up."


Once T'Lea was up on the stretcher, the EMH shouted, "She's breathing!"


They ran back to Sickbay. "Probably post-ictal," Olivia said. "Find her husband for me, Doc, I need to talk to him." The EMH turned around and ran back to where they found T'Lea.


Sickbay's doors whooshed open and Olivia's assistant, Dr. Steve Mackenzie, met her at the doors. They lifted T'Lea onto the main biobed.


"I found her apneic and bradycardic, heart rate at 150 ... both pulse and resps have returned to normal."

Steve read the results of the scan on his tricorder. "Seizure?"

"That's what I thought. Will you put the results of a full head scan up on the lab screen?"

Steve nodded.


T'Lea moaned and started to roll onto her side.


Olivia came to her side. "T'Lea, can you hear me?"

She moaned in response.

"Steve ..." Olivia called.

"Where ... am I?"

"You're in Sickbay on the USS Taurus. You've had a seizure."

"Kareb?"

"We've got someone going to get him right now."


She turned aside to Steve, and under her breath, asked, "Where is Doc, anyway? He should have gotten back by now."

He shook his head.


She turned back to T'Lea. "Now, T'Lea, I need to know, have you ever had a seizure before?"

She slowly rolled over so her back was turned to Olivia, and mumbled, "Just leave me alone."

Olivia sighed. T'Lea was doubtless quite groggy, nauseous, and in pain. She didn't want to be awake, let alone questioned. But this was important ...

"T'Lea, this is important."

"Leave me alone."

"I understand you're not feeling very, um, well ... but a seizure can be a very serious sign ..."

T'Lea groaned.


"Olivia," Steve said. "I've got your scans up over here. I think the questions can wait 'til later." He motioned towards the screen.

She shook her head and followed.

"Look."


The scan revealed three large areas of past damage where healthy neurons had grown completely intertwined with damaged ones, some even forming connections with the damaged cells.

"I'm guessing this isn't her first seizure," Steve said. "You're the neurologist, what do you think?"

"Computer, show overlying structures."


What appeared was a skull with healed fractures, each lying directly over an area of damage.

"Depression fractures." Steve sighed. "Blunt-force trauma."

"Computer, give me the approximate age of injuries."

"Level of healing consistent with injuries greater than fifteen years in age. Estimates past this point in time may not be accurate."

Fifteen years, at least? She walked back over to T'Lea.


"T'Lea, this isn't the first time you've had a seizure, is it?"

She groaned and rolled over. Olivia had awoken her. "No."

"What happened?"

"I thought I asked to be left alone."

Olivia sighed. She'd never been very good at getting her patients to tell her what she wanted to know ... she always felt she was much better at surgery than at talking to her patients.


Suddenly, the EMH appeared in the doorway. "Kareb wants to know if his wife will be returning to him tonight."

"You didn't bring him?" Steve asked.

"It appears our patient has a history of recurring seizures. He is not concerned."

"So he's demanding her back?"

"I'm sorry, I should have said that differently. He wants to know if she is returning tonight, or if she is not, he will come here to Sickbay. He also wishes to know if she has regained consciousness yet."


Suddenly, T'Lea sat up. "Yes, I will be returning."

"I don't know if that's such a good idea ..." Olivia said.

"Tell him I'm on my way." With that, she stood up, albeit unsteadily.


Olivia rushed over to catch her if she fell.

"Don't ... touch me."

"Here, at least wear this." She held out a neurocortical monitor. "It'll alert Sickbay if you have another seizure."

She allowed Olivia to put it on, then with that, she walked out of Sickbay.


"Doc, follow her. I don't want her falling and hurting herself."


He nodded.


Once they were alone, Olivia turned to Steve. "I think I'll sleep here tonight. Is that alright with you?"

"Sure." He smiled. "I don't mind any other time, do I?"

She shrugged, grabbed a PADD, and walked to her office.


And within an hour, she was asleep.

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Scholar
#3 Old 3rd Oct 2009 at 2:35 PM Last edited by Gingerxyz : 3rd Oct 2009 at 2:46 PM.
Hi! How many sites have you posted this on now?
It's brilliant, as I've already said At least I think I have. Anyway, it is!

no power in the verse can stop me
ge smak daun, gyon op nodotaim
jus nou drein jus daun
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#4 Old 4th Oct 2009 at 12:28 AM
This is the 3rd. :D
I wanted to post it here & at SimTrek originally, but I was having so many problems with here not loading right for a while, so I posted it @ SimTrek, then Raven said I could post it at her site .... :D

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Scholar
#5 Old 4th Oct 2009 at 6:50 PM
And now it's here as well! Are you going to keep updating it at moonlightdragon?

no power in the verse can stop me
ge smak daun, gyon op nodotaim
jus nou drein jus daun
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#6 Old 4th Oct 2009 at 8:52 PM
Yup! It's really easy once I make the post one place, I just have to copy/paste to the others with only a little find/relplace stuff ... :D

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Instructor
#7 Old 4th Oct 2009 at 11:50 PM
So far, a pretty good read. Some mild pacing issues, but overall, a very well-structured and well-produced piece. Perhaps the title should be modified so readers know it's in the Star Trek universe? Because I would not have known if I hadn't bothered to look.

Either way, something to look forward to while I'm waiting for my own story to be approved.

You can find me on the Sims 4 Gallery as DozerfleetProd. If you have XBox One or PS4, please test out my creations, and let me know if / how well they work on consoles.
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#8 Old 5th Oct 2009 at 7:58 AM
Thanks for the feedback :D

Where are the mild pacing issues?

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Instructor
#9 Old 5th Oct 2009 at 8:05 AM
Not sure I can define it. Just...a rough beginning, kinda has a choppy feel. Even so, very effective use of downloads. It looks just like Star Trek.

Albeit...I'm not much of a Trekkie, so I don't know if your Vulcan lady's behavior is Vulcan-typical or not.

I've only seen two episodes of Next Generation (Best of Both Worlds 2-parter,) and the recent Star Trek movie. I grew up on Star Wars, to be honest. (Though, courtesy of the recent film, about the only things Star Trek needs now to become Star Wars is telekinesis, metachlorins, a few more sentient droids, and some glowing swords. They're already almost the same thing in every other respect.)

Anyway, I digress. This one looks like it has some potential.

You can find me on the Sims 4 Gallery as DozerfleetProd. If you have XBox One or PS4, please test out my creations, and let me know if / how well they work on consoles.
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#10 Old 5th Oct 2009 at 8:22 AM
lol, I don't think I know *how* to make typical Vulcans. Every single Vulcan that will appear in this story is atypical in some way

And was it the Prologue or Ch.1 that seemed choppy like that? Or both?

Hmm ... it's been *forever* since I saw anything having to do with Star Wars. Like, since I was little.

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#11 Old 18th Oct 2009 at 6:51 PM
Default Chapter 2: Remainder
Sorry it took me so long to post this here. I've been working on a pose box and writing chapter 3 ... neither of which are finished yet ... ... and in all the craziness I forgot to post chapter 2 here! :O

Reminder: Please Comment!
This chapter is a bit picture-intense. It's got 47 pictures. (No, that number wasn't on purpose!) It's also probably the longest text-wise so far, I think.
Warning: there's a bit of blood and violence.
I think the writing in this chapter is a lot better than the pictures, I sort of feel the pictures don't really do justice to what's going on. There's too many limitations to what you can do in the game, and with editing, I just think the pictures don't totally capture the feel of the chapter.


__________________________________________________________________________________________

Chapter 2: Remainder


She had planned the perfect wedding.


Her true love had proposed one night, and she'd accepted.


Then came the Tholians, the war.


He and his comrades were sent to fight.


One by one, they all came home. Except him.


Then, one day, the happiest day of her life, he returned.


Bruised and broken, starved and scarred, he returned to her.


She cared for him. She loved him.


He said he was not half the man he once was. He was broken, defective. She deserved better. He wished to free her of himself.


No! She loved him! She would care for him, no matter what it would take. She deserved no less than him, her true love.


He told her that they should call off the wedding. He would be nothing but a burden to her the rest of her life! He begged her to let him let her go!

No, never! She loved him. She loved him with all her heart! She couldn't let him go.


She did up her hair. She put on her dress. She stared at her reflection. The wedding was tommorrow. The perfect day, the day of her dreams, was about to arrive.


Walking down the hall.


Doors open.


His quarters. Something off, something wrong.


She smelled blood. Something wrong ... her stomach flipped. Something ... wrong ...


There was blood. Too much blood. Too much ... His eyes locked onto hers. They were glazed, empty.


A scream caught in her throat. No, she couldn't lose him! Never!


Their fingers entertwined. He was slipping away, fast. If only she could hold on ... just hold on ...


He was slipping away. And she was responsible.


As her world came crashing down around her, she began to sob. To wail. To scream.


She awoke in dim light, the cold comfort of her office surrounding her. She wiped sweat from her neck, tears from her eyes. She took deep breaths to calm her racing heart. She spun the ring around her finger, let out a sigh. She wouldn't get back to sleep for a while now. She never could after she'd had the dream.


Olivia paced through the empty Sickbay. Steve was in his office, working. She didn't want to disturb him. Didn't want him to know.


She sat down on one of the beds along the wall. She considered going out to run her usual course around Deck 7, the one she ran every morning. At this point, there wasn't much use in trying to go back to sleep. She knew it would never come. No, she decided, she wouldn't go running tonight. There'd be enough other nights for that.


She wandered between the counters in the lab.


A noise! She gasped, turning around to see what was behind her.
It was just Steve, coming out from his office. She exhaled slowly.

"Olivia," he called across the empty room, "are you okay?"

"Yeah, Steve, I - I'm fine," she mumbled back, wishing now she had chosen to run.

"Olivia?"


She walked over to him, slowly. "Hmm?"

"You had the dream again, didn't you." It wasn't so much a question as a statement. He knew her too well.

"No, uh ... it doesn't matter. I was just ... walking around."

"I heard you scream."

"Oh. Well ..."

"Olivia ..."


"Look, just ... I don't want to talk about it. Nothing's wrong."

"Olivia."

"Nothing's wrong!" She paused, searching for something, anything else to say. "Um, you, uh, remember me asking you yesterday about ..."

He cleared his throat. "Olivia, I heard you scream."


"Dr. Mackenzie, I don't care what you think you heard, but ..."

She was cut off by a sudden beeping. Steve sighed. "It's T'Lea! She's having another seizure!"


"What? That's two ... in less than eight hours!" She cracked her knuckles and headed after Steve.


He was already at the door, medkit in hand. Olivia bolted past him, down the corridor. This couldn't be good.
________


The door was locked, so they waited outside for an answer, hoping Kareb would be there. They hoped he was awake, hoped he knew what was going on ...


Finally, he emerged, slowly. He looked ... pained, for a Vulcan.

"Kareb?" Steve asked.

"Yes. I apologize for making you wait, but I had to make sure she would not injure herself." He stopped, searching their faces, perhaps trying to gauge if they saw his distress. "I assume that is why you came, because of the seizure."

Olivia nodded.

"I understand your concern." He paused. "However, it has been nearly forty years, that she's had these seizures, and ..."

"Wait, forty years?" Olivia inturrupted.

"Yes."


"That - that's ... What happened?" She stepped closer to him, he turned and stared at the light on the floor.

"Thirty-seven years ago ...
________


Thirty-seven years ago, T'Lea and Kareb were attending a conference on interplanetary trade, held at a hotel on the planet Xitene. They had two seven year old daughters staying at home with family, while they brought their newborn son along with them. It was only the first day of the conference and they had just broken for lunch, when they heard screams. Something had gone horribly wrong.


A local but powerful xenophopic group had established a base for themselves in the hotel, and, having waited for a break, kidnapped as many people as they could from the conference. They separated their hostages by race: all their own were still held against their will, but treated fairly, and all others were, well, not treated so fairly.


T'Lea and Kareb were placed in a room with a young Andorian kid, who was quiet, kept to himself most of the time. That evening, he barely picked at his dinner, some meat dish which neither T'Lea nor Kareb touched. Kareb wrapped their son tightly and was putting him to sleep, when the Andorian made his move.


Every stretch of hall was watched over by two guards, one at each end. Their room was near the middle, slightly closer to one side than the other. Kareb hadn't really seen what happened, all he knew was that the Andorian tried to escape, the guard from the near end of the hall ran after him, raised his weapon to shoot, and was dropped unconscious to the floor by a neck pinch from T'Lea.


The guard from the other end of the hall, a big muscular guy with a short temper and a solid metal club, came running. Finding his comrade lying on the floor, dead for all he knew, he attacked. Kareb watched from behind the open door, forced to choose between saving his wife and protecting his child, as the guard struck her on the head.


With the first hit, she stumbled back, falling against the wall for support. He struck again, this time she fell to her knees. Through their bond, Kareb could feel her pain, could feel her starting to slip into unconsciousness. Then, another hit, this one crushing the back of her skull, smashing her face into the floor. There was no more pain. The guard, satisfied that she didn't respond to a hard kick in the stomach, dragged her into the room. Kareb stepped back, arms raised in a gesture that he hoped would convey he was unarmed, but anger threatened to overtake him. The guard advanced, now holding a syringe of clear liquid, backing Kareb into a corner. There was only one way to escape: the balcony, a route that meant sure death for him, his wife, and his son, if it was not sure already. If he chose to fight, he knew other guards would only come and finish them off, he knew he would be unable to fight them all.


He only hoped whatever the vial contained would not be lethal.


Two days later, he awoke to find a young Xitene girl rocking his wailing infant. She told him how she had been sent the night before to shut up the starving baby, how she'd been encouraged to just toss him over the balcony's rails, how she found T'Lea face down on the floor, conscious but unable to move, struggling to breathe through her own vomit. She told him how she'd tried to lift her up, but couldn't, and turned her on her side. She told him about the violent convulsions early that morning, and how, when she finally woke up, she was able to move again.


T'Lea was asleep on the bed. Kareb fought hard to keep back the tears. Blood oozed from her ears, her nose, and the large gash on her forehead. It had filled in her orbits, giving her dark bruises beneath her eyes. He gently caressed her face, but she did not respond.
________



"For the first week, she couldn't speak. She couldn't see, that last strike damaged her occipital lobe. She still remembers nothing of the first two weeks after she was attacked. At that point, she still didn't have many seizures." He took a slow, deep breath, then continued. "She got meningitis, just when we thought she was beginning to recover. Then, the seizures increased, she began having five, seven a day ... Finally, after about three months, she was starting to do better, she was slowly getting her sight back, she was able to get up and walk around, to take care of our son. But she was still having seizures. I told her, when we got home, I was sure there was something they could do for her. Six months after the injury, we were still there. We were not able to escape until it had been two years. Everyone else who tried before then was shot on sight." He paused again, shifting his weight from one leg to the other. "When we returned to Vulcan and were able to seek medical help, we learned that there was nothing anyone could do for her. Had we had access to care even six months after the injury, they would have been able to help. But due to the regrowth of healthy neurons into the damaged areas over time ..."

"I saw that," Olivia said suddenly. "It's inoperable, at least by any conventional means."

"Right. Now, the only thing that can help her is drug therapy. With anticonvulsants, instead of 3-5 seizures every day, she only has about four a week."

"Only?"


Kareb suddenly looked back at the closed door behind him. "She's regained consciousness. I must go."

"Thank you," Steve said, "We appreciate you taking the time to tell us all this."


Awkwardly, Olivia offered, "I'm a neurologist ... If, uh, if she wouldn't mind, I'd like to talk to her."


Kareb simply turned and went back into his room.

.

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Mad Poster
#12 Old 20th Oct 2009 at 7:35 PM
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#13 Old 22nd Oct 2009 at 4:02 AM
Thanks! :D
And I'm almost done with the writing of chapter 3 now, I'm hoping to leave the game open (it's open now to do some testing) and take pics! Then close & edit! (Hopefully, that is ...)

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Lab Assistant
#14 Old 11th Nov 2009 at 11:01 PM
This is amazing! Am very excited to see some one creating a story based off something thats already exist in our pop culture media. I don't know too much about Star Trek however i've only seen the new movie! Which was great and I loved it! Well I will be keeping up with this story! Good Job can't wait for more :]

Am Back and its Time to get BittersWeet xoxo
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#15 Old 3rd Apr 2010 at 7:55 PM
Default Chapter 3: Offering
Reminder: Please Comment!
I am finally posting this chapter, even though I haven't finished taking all the pictures yet. I think I've waited long enough, and you've all waited long enough for this chapter.
Speaking of long ... this is a long chapter. Longer than even Ch 2, which I said was long. It's got 42 pictures, and there are still 2 sections that I haven't taken pictures for!
By the way, don't skim over those picture-less sections! They're important!!
A lot of stuff is going to be revealed in this chapter that either foreshadows or otherwise leads into events in coming chapters. So enjoy! :D

So I present to you ( ) ... the long awaited ... Chapter 3!

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Chapter 3: Offering


On T'Lea and Kareb's second evening aboard the Taurus, Captain Andersen invited them to a formal dinner with his senior staff. Among those present were Olivia and Steve. For nearly an hour, they had all sat around drinking synthehol and making small talk.

There was a sort of uneasy silence between Olivia and T'Lea throughout the whole time. Olivia knew better than to bring up the previous night's events - she was required to keep them confidential - but she had come prepared for the end of the dinner, when she would have a chance to talk to T'Lea alone.

Earlier, she had convinced Steve to come along with her, citing her dislike of overly fancy social events. Really, she just felt like having someone there to back her up when she talked to T'Lea.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of listening through mindless chatter, forcing herself to remain politefully alert - she had only slept three of the last thirty-six hours - people began to say their goodbyes and goodnights.

Olivia moved herself towards the back of the crowd that had formed around the Vulcans. Slowly, the crowd dwindled until there was just Steve ahead of her, talking to Kareb.

She saw her opening.

Motioning with her hand for T'Lea to come, she picked up the PADD she'd brought with her. T'Lea came, followed by Kareb, then Steve. She hadn't counted on having an audience.


"T'Lea," she began, handing the PADD to her, "I think you should come into Sickbay for some tests ... there've been new procedures developed since your injury, and I think there's a possibility I'd be able to help you."

Kareb stepped foreward and took the PADD from his wife. "We appreciate your concern, Dr. Hernandez, but that won't be necessary."

"No, I'm serious. This really could work. I think -"

"No thank you, Doctor. We do not require your help."

"But -"

"Olivia," Steve said quietly, placing his hand on her shoulder. "Let's go."

She shrugged off the unwanted touch as Kareb and T'Lea turned away, heading for the exit. She started to follow.

"Where are you going?" Steve asked.

She turned, about to make some excuse, but Steve just shook his head.

Frustrated, she turned again and went for the opposite exit. She knew what she had to do next. She just didn't know if it would work.

________

Sickbay was empty and there was nothing left to do, so Steve let his curiosity get to him.

Olivia hadn't had a reason to spend the night in her office, so Steve sat down at her desk, looking for a way to find out what information she'd given T'Lea.

On the top of a stack of PADDs sat an article, seven years old, detailing promising new surgical techniques to carefully remove damaged brain tissue. Among the authors was none other than Olivia Hernandez, MD.

Steve sighed. Of course she would think her own work could solve everyone's problems. Olivia was one of the top neurosurgeons in Starfleet, if not the entire Federation.

He started skimming over the summary. She'd described the procedure to him before. Despite her earlier behavior, it looked like she actually had a point. This could actually help T'Lea.

________

"I need a favor."

Olivia stood in the doorway of the counseling office, the Vulcan head counselor's back turned towards her.

"Yes, Olivia, what can I do for you?" T'Kara asked.

"I need you to talk to someone."


"Who?" she asked, turning around.

"T'Lea."

"I heard what happened earlier. How you offered to help them ..."

"Yeah."


"Olivia, my job as head counselor is not to make people listen to you."

"Ouch."

"Do you really have a legitimate reason for wanting me to talk to her?"


"She's been living with this for almost forty years! Then when I say there's a possibility I can help her, they want nothing of it!"

"Perhaps they're tired of being poked and prodded and experimented on."

"This isn't just experimentation. I've proven it actually works."

"She's an interesting case, isn't she?"

"What?"

"There's so many things you could learn, it's such a great opportunity ..."


"Look, are you going to talk to her or not?"

"Olivia, face it. To her, you're just like countless other doctors who've taken interest in her before. You believe you'll be able to cure her, but all that becomes of it is a series of tests and invasions into her personal life. Wanting to avoid that does not require the further prying of a session with a psychiatrist."

"I think she may have stopped taking her medication."


"How did you come to this conclusion?"

"When we talked to Kareb, he said with medication she has about four seizures a week. Without, she has about that many a day." She paused. "She's had three in the past 24 hours."

"I believe your conclusion may be valid. I'll have Ms. LaVena talk to her."

"Uh-uh. I don't want Staci to do it, I want you to."

"Do you doubt her competence?"

"No! But you're Vulcan, you'll have a better chance with her."


"To suggest to a Vulcan that they need to see a psychologist implies you believe they are unable to properly deal with their own emotions. Were this suggestion to come from another Vulcan, it would likely be taken as a grievous insult."

"And it would be better coming from a human, how?"

"She may be more inclined to give her the 'benefit of the doubt' than with me."

"So you won't do it?"

"I don't believe it would be wise."


"You owe me a favor."

"You've never been much of one to keep track."

"You still owe me one."

"Why don't you try to talk to her yourself? Try to work on using your empathy?"

"You're the empath."

"You don't have to be an empath to talk to her, Olivia."

"Besides, they sort of told me to leave them alone."


"Sort of?"

"Sort of."

"I'll see what I can do."

"Thank you."

"I'll be apologizing for your behavior."

"I'm sure she'll love that."

"You really must work on your interpersonal skills, Olivia. They'll do you good."

"I'm a neurosurgeon, not a shrink."

"You don't have to turn all your patients and staff against you to be a good neurosurgeon."


"Steve seems to be okay with me."

"Steve seems to be in love with you."

"Yeah, I kind of wish he'd stop."


"Goodnight, Olivia. I will see you at the department meetings tomorrow." She turned back around.

"Thank you again."

"All I said was, 'I'll see what I can do.'"
_________


The ship's operations manager and science officer, Solkan, sat in the dark in his quarters, the doors locked, light from his desk comm screen illuminating his face. He spoke in quiet tones with a man named Jeremiah Hanson.

"Their names are T'Lea and Kareb," he said for the second time.


"I assume you've found something of interest about them beyond their recent activities on Cirtri?"

"They have potentially useful ties to Romulus."

"Solkan, you know the Romulans are not our main concern right now." He paused. "Alright, go ahead."


"They were ambassadors from 2356 to 2380, most notably, the Vulcan ambassadors to Romulus from 2371 to 2380. They adopted the child of the Romulan ambassadors to Vulcan in 2379, after Shinzon's coup. This effectively ended their career as ambassadors. Eight years later, in 2387, they were taken hostage and T'Lea was severely injured. Ten -"

Hanson interrupted. "Hold on. Just because they had ties to Romulus over forty years ago does not mean they are of any interest to us now, Solkan."

"Beginning in 2356, the year they became ambassadors - with only a 10-year break after T'Lea's injury - until eight years ago, they have been active agents in V'Shar - Vulcan's intelligence and security agency."


"What happened eight years ago?"

"The former director of V'Shar retired and his replacement had a different outlook and philosophy on how it should be run. However, whether this was their reason for resigning is unknown. Since then, they've been working for themselves, usually furthering the direct interests of the Federation."


"Are you absolutely sure about their current ties to Romulus?"

He hesitated.

"I'll look into this. In the meantime, you need to keep focused on your goal. Remember that."

"I always do."

"No, you haven't been. Everything you've brought to me recently has been about the Romulans or the Tholians. You're concerned too much with the past and not enough with the present, Solkan. Our main focus should be on the state of the Federation right now, not on wars that ended years ago. Understood?"


"I understand you've looked into everything I've given you, even 'recently.'"

"Only because I'm obligated to check every lead I get, no matter how promising or how absurd."

"Of course."

"Have Calais contact me tonight. I need to speak to her about a few things."

"Of course."


The screen went black.
________


At 0800 the next morning, Staci LaVena, first-year psychiatric resident, walked into the Counseling office for the start of her shift.

"You're fifteen minutes late," came the voice from within one of the private session rooms.

Staci was taken aback. The Vulcan hadn't even turned around. "I'm sorry," she began. "I was just -"

"No explanation is necessary, Ms. LaVena." A pause. "You'll be working with Dr. Hernandez today."

"I'm not scheduled to work with her until tomorrow."

"I am aware of that. You will also work with her tomorrow."

"Oh."

"Now, I have a patient to see." She headed for the door.

"Shouldn't I come -"

"I will be speaking to my patient alone, Ms. LaVena. Dr. Hernandez is expecting you."

She sighed. Following T'Kara out of the door, Staci walked across the hall to Sickbay. She wondered to herself if this was some sort of disciplinary action for being late, or if there was something so important about T'Kara's patient that she couldn't shadow her like usual, or ...

"You're late."

"Sorry, Dr. Hernandez. I was -"

"I need you to start this for me," Olivia began, motioning for Staci to come closer. "I need you to look through these articles and write up a short summary of each for me."

Staci looked at the stack of PADDs on the counter.

Olivia then walked over to Dantarea Antekais, the Aeorsian biological sciences intern, asking her to do something else.

"Wait, Dr. Hernandez," Staci called. "Where are you going?"

"I have things I need to do today, Ms. LaVena. I would appreciate if you both have your work done by the time I return." With that, she turned on her heel and walked out of Sickbay.

Staci looked at the headings on the top few articles. None of them were about psychology. Vulcan neurology, the treatment of seizure disorders in various species, some neurosurgical procedure she'd never heard of before ... Dr. Hernandez often did this to her, giving her busywork to do that never related to her field. Olivia seemed to have little interest in psychiatry, even neuropsychology. Everything with her was straight neurology, neurosurgery ... and all very complex.

"What does she have you working on, Dantarea?"

The colorful-haired girl just shook her head, indicating she had no idea.

Staci nodded, wondering why there had to be so much mystery today.

________


Later that day

"She's very determined."

"Stubborn. She can't take 'no' for an answer."

"Maybe we should give her a chance."


"She sent their head counselor after me to 'talk' about things. An empathic Vulcan. I will not let Olivia pry any further into our private lives."

"She sent the head counselor ..."

"Yes. She told her I'd stopped taking my medication. Did you tell Olivia that?"

"No. I would not do that."

"But you told her how many seizures I've been having so she would figure it out."

"T'Lea ..."


"We don't need her 'help,' Kareb. We don't need the intrusion."

"But if there's the possibility -"

"No."


He fell silent. You know I can hardly bear to see you like this.


I've had epilepsy for 37 years.

Yes, but it hasn't been this bad, since ...

I know. But I can think so much clearer, faster now that I'm not taking it.

I fear for you.

Fear is -

Logical. With as many seizures as you've been having ...


It hasn't happened yet.


Finding their hands clasped together, T'Lea backed up, distancing herself from him. "I want you to talk to her assistant, Dr. Mackenzie. Find out what her interest is in me. Find out why she can't back down. Then perhaps we can get her to leave us alone."


"I don't think it would be right of us to use him like that. Besides, we'll be back home soon enough."

"She thinks she can 'fix' me. Our being home won't stop her for long."

"It's still not right to use Dr. Mackenzie like that."
________

"Kareb!"

Kareb turned, realizing the voice was that of Dr. Mackenzie's. Steve ran towards him.

"I was hoping to find you here," the doctor said.

"I am on my way to talk to Capt. Andersen. What can I do for you?"

"Oh, well, if you're busy ... There are just a few things I would like to talk with you about. Perhaps we can set up a time? This evening?"

"The captain and I are only having lunch. I will be free in approximately one hour."

"Sounds good. I'll be here."
________

"Thank you again for taking the time to talk to me, Kareb."

Kareb nodded, now finding himself caught between his own curiosity, his desire to help T'Lea, and what he said he was so against, using Steve only as a way to get Olivia to back down.

"I'd really like to talk to you about Olivia's offer," Steve began.

"We said we're not interested."

"I know. And trust me, I'm not here because she sent me. But I read what she gave you, and I feel I need to try to do a better job of explaining it to you, rather than just shoving it at you and saying 'this will fix all your problems.'"

"Do you believe it could 'fix all our problems?'"

"I do believe it's likely it would at least do some good, yes."

"You sound unsure."

"I won't make empty promises. But I do think it's a plausible option."

"Alright. What exactly does this procedure entail, that it is any better than anything else we've tried?"

"Are you familiar with GANST, gene-activated neurosomatic tagging, or AST, active synaptic tagging?"

"Remind me."

"Well, basically, both methods tag neurons based on different criteria. GANST can find and tag neurons by a specified RNA sequence, while AST tags any and all synapses, at the axon terminal, that fire within a certain amount of time, determined by a buffer chemical. Then, of course, the tagged neurons are removed or destroyed surgically."

"We've had doctors tell us that both procedures would work, only to have them fail in simulations."

"Alone, they both have many problems. They tag too many cells, or not enough."

"Yes. Either they would have provided no reduction in the frequency of her seizures, or they would have destroyed good neurons, losing function that could have taken a year or more to recover, if ever."

"Olivia's developed a procedure that combines parts of each tagging method. Not all hyper-excitable neurons in the seizure focus contain the same RNA sequences, and some healthy cells have it. Likewise, in AST, since there is still normal activity occurring in the early stages of a seizure, there's a very high likelihood of tagging good neurons. What Olivia's done is found a way to combine the two methods, in addition to further identifying the RNA sequences that should be tagged. That way, only neurons that are tagged by both methods are removed."

"Why couldn't they have been combined 25 years ago?"

"The solutions used for each procedure sort of cancelled the other out. As GANST has improved, it now uses different solutions that are more compatible with AST."

"What would Dr. Hernandez' procedure involve?"

"She would introduce the solution into the cerebrospinal fluid near each seizure focus, and give it time to diffuse. The GANST starts tagging immediately. As the AST buffer turns on its tagging, she would trigger a seizure, causing the affected neurons to fire, and be tagged. The buffer turns it off just before the seizure activity breaks through the inhibitory surround." He paused to let the information sink in. "She would then run a simulation with the neurons tagged by both methods removed, to check for seizure control or loss of function. If the results aren't good, she tweaks the tagging protocols and tries again."

"How many times will she have to try?"

"Knowing Olivia, she's probably already run tons of simulations of the procedure, so it shouldn't be many. Perhaps ten? That's a rough estimate though."

"Ten? You want me to convince my wife to let Olivia trigger ten more seizures than she normally has?"

"She would only let it go as long as it takes to tag the cells."

"Then have her pumped full of anticonvulsants until she's unconscious, or until Olivia can't trigger any more seizures, whichever comes first?"

Steve fell silent, probably trying to think of a response.

Suddenly changing the subject, Kareb asked, "Dr. Hernandez doesn't like to give up, does she?"

"If you're saying she's stubborn, yes, very."

"Does she pursue many of her patients like this?"

"No, not many. But not many people tell her no." He chuckled softly. "She's one of the best neurosurgeons in Starfleet - in the Federation - so you can imagine that's not something she gets a lot."

"How many neurosurgeons are there in the Federation?"

"Not many."

"How good is 'one of the best,' then?"

"Excellent."

He nodded, raised an eyebrow. "And she designed this procedure herself?"

"Yeah. Well, along with a few other doctors."

"Then it's no wonder she's so sure it will work."

Steve nodded, looking disappointed.

"She has taken quite an interest in us. More than other neurologists have. It's almost as if she has a personal interest in what happens to T'Lea."

Steve sighed. "This has happened before. Not often, but it has. Last time, it was a kid with a disease that slowly turned his brain, essentially, into mush. That time, it was her persistence that let him live as long as he did. Now, I could be wrong about this - it could just be that she sees you as such an interesting case. But I think with you her interest is primarily because she has epilepsy. And though -"

"Wait, what?" Kareb cut him off mid-sentence.

"Yeah, Olivia has epilepsy ... Oh. You didn't know." He paused. "I'm sorry. Olivia's pretty well known in and around Starfleet Medical, it's not often we come across someone who doesn't already know ..."

"How can she be a surgeon?" he asked, eyebrow raised. Before Steve could answer, though, he said, "Is the epilepsy why she's so well known?"

"It's part of it, I'm sure. But there's a lot more to it ... Starfleet Medical Academy loves being able to claim one of the Federation's top neurosurgeons as their own. Plus, she's been involved in some pretty high-profile stuff in the past. She was on a medical ship during the Tholian War, too, and along with other doctors, was given a sort of hero-status at the time ... And she's developed or helped to develop various new procedures ... In fact, I was a little surprised you didn't already know of her."

"We haven't exactly been looking for a neurosurgeon recently."

"Not recently at all, I suppose. She's been pretty well known for a while now. In fact, what's considered her greatest achievement, a procedure to fix severe spinal cord and peripheral nerve injures, was finished almost six years ago now."

"So, epilepsy?"

"Right. Absence seizures. They're a brief, nonconvulsive type of seizure, a sort of 'staring spell.' They keep a very close watch on her. She has them maybe once every five years, if that. It's practically non-existent now. Hasn't really been an issue since she was a teenager, wanting to get into Starfleet."

"Is she on any kind of treatment?"

"No. In fact, she reacts rather badly to many anticonvulsants."

The eyebrow went up again.

Steve gave a quizzical look.

"Nothing."

Suddenly, Steve's combadge beeped. "Mackenzie here," he answered.

"Steve, where are you?" Olivia's voice called, sounding quite irritated. "Department meetings began five minutes ago!"

The doctor sank down in his chair. "I'm sorry! I'll be there right away."

"You'd better be sorry! 'Cause when you're late, I'm the one who gets all the flak. So get yourself down here now, or you'll end up with both me and Solkan to deal with!"

"I'm sorry, ma'am, I'll be there right away." Turning to Kareb, he said, "Thank you again for taking the time to talk to me. I'm sorry to run out on you, but I really don't need angry superiors breathing down my neck for a month."

As Steve ran out, Kareb wondered how T'Lea would react to what he just found out. He just hoped it wouldn't make things any worse than they already were.

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Lab Assistant
DELETED POST
Original Poster
24th Jul 2011 at 11:47 AM
Default Chapter 4: Cloak (Part One)
This message has been deleted by carenrose. Reason: posted twice
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#16 Old 24th Jul 2011 at 11:47 AM
Default Chapter 4: Cloak (Part One) ... post 1
Reminder: Please Comment!

Warning: certain parts of this chapter are a bit graphic, violent.

Sorry for the delay in posting this chapter. I've had it written for probably over a year, but I've really had trouble with the pictures. For some of them, I have an idea exactly how I want them to look, but don't know how to implement that in-game. I'm too much of a perfectionist. For others, I've really been lacking inspiration/motivation to take them. With 109 pictures, I bet you could guess why ...
Really, sorry it's so long I think 5,600-some words and 109 pictures. Anyone on a slow connection will probably hate me. Also, due to Photobucket's super-annoying over-compression of pictures, I've switched to a new image host and to png format, which means larger file sizes. Hopefully, it won't load too slowly.
Anyways, due to forum limit of 15 images per post, I've had to part the chapter up into multiple separate posts. I hope this will help your loading time. Just make sure you read all of them ...

A few notes on this chapter:
It leaves off where Chapter 3 ends ... department meetings have just begun, with Steve arriving late.
Solkan is both the Operations Manager and the Science Oficer, so he heads not only the science dept. meeting (blueshirts) and the operations dept. meeting (which is the dept. the Ops Manager would belong to), but also the command dept. meeting, because part of the Ops Mgr's job is these department meeting things.

A quick recap of Chapter 3:
* Olivia offers an advanced new surgical technique (that she developed herself) to cure T'Lea's epilepsy. They refuse.
* Olivia convinces T'Kara (the ship's chief counselor) to talk to T'Lea about having stopped taking her medication.
* Solkan contacts Jeremiah Hanson, saying that T'Lea and Kareb are ex-V'Shar agents and may have "potentially useful ties to Romulus." Hanson tells Solkan he's too concerned with the past. Hanson asks for Calais to contact him.
* Steve talks to Kareb - of his own accord - to try to convince him to accept Olivia's offer. He reveals that Olivia (at least in the past) has epilepsy herself, which may be the root of her intense interest in T'Lea's case.
* Olivia angrily informs Steve that he is late to their meeting.

Chapter 4: Cloak (Part One)



At department meetings that afternoon, Olivia had much on her mind. Too much.

Her thoughts were everywhere but on the matters at hand. Not that she felt the matters at hand were particularly important - mundane things like allocation of resources, staff scheduling, recent developments, and so on. However, as chief medical officer, her presence, and unfortunately, her input, was required.


"Dr Hernandez!" Solkan nearly shouted. "Do you have anything to add?"


Oh shoot. Add to what? She realized she'd hardly been paying attention to anything that was going on.

"Well?" For a Vulcan, he sure could sound irritated.

"No. I have nothing to add." She hated how he could make her feel like she was in school again, being chided by her teachers for thinking about science or math when she should have been reciting some unused grammatical rule of Federation Standard - for the millionth time.


Solkan and the rest of the blue shirts in the room continued their mindless drawl as Olivia planned her evening. She was off duty early today, and she had nearly as much to do as she had on her mind. She needed to talk to T'Kara, to Thelis - their first officer, and possibly to the Captain. She wanted to talk to Calais, their chief engineer, but she really didn't know what she would say. She was planning to have dinner with Staci LaVena, but didn't know if Staci would remember. And then, she had to deal with Steve. She thought she'd been a little harsh on him earlier for being late, but he still didn't seem to realize that his actions reflected on her ... and that reminded her, she needed to put a note in Dantarea's file. The biosciences intern had recently put some very promising effort into her research recently ...


Everyone around the table began to stand up. Finally, she thought, heading for the door as fast as she could.

Someone suddenly touched her shoulder. Startled, she stiffened and turned around, finding Steve. "What do you want?" she asked.


He sighed, looking sad or perhaps disappointed for a brief moment. But he smiled at her, and asked, "I was wondering, when you're off duty tonight, if you'd like to come see a holonovel with me, maybe have dinner afterwards?"

The reality of what he had just said slowly sank in.

"I'm really busy tonight, Steve," she finally said, shaking her head. "Maybe you can find someone else who can go with you?" Without waiting for any answer, she walked out of the room, leaving Steve standing there speechless.



________



Later that afternoon, Commander Thelis and Olivia were warming up in the ship's gym for their near-daily run together.

"So, apparently, T'Lea didn't take it well when T'Kara went to talk to her," Olivia told him.

"I can't imagine she would've, no," he replied, streching down to touch his feet.

"I think they're avoiding me, Thelis."

He sighed.

"I mean, we're on the same ship, and I haven't even seen them since -"

He cut her off. "Olivia."

"What?"


"Yes, of course they're avoiding you. Because you keep bugging them after they've declined your offer. Repeatedly."

She sighed, shook her head. "I know."

"Then just let it go. We'll be to Vulcan tommorrow morning. Then you won't have to worry about them any more."

The doors opened and they started jogging down the corridor.

"I can't just let them go like that!"

"Olivia, do you even hear yourself? If they refuse, they refuse. You can't just keep after them forever! You have to just let them go 'like that.'"


She shook her head. "Look, this isn't even what I need to talk to you about. It's about Solkan again."

"Okay." He nodded.

"Last night, he and Calais both contacted Hanson again, within an hour of each other."

"Do you know what was said?"

"No, unfortunately. I just know that there was contact. The data stream was encrypted, as usual. I still haven't been able to break through, even though it seems they've used the same group of encryption codes each time."

"That's alright. Just keep at it, Olivia."

"Problem is, I'm a neurologist, not a spy. I need someone who's good at this kind of stuff on our side."


"Well, I'll try to reconstruct whatever I can from the data logs, see if I can figure anything out."

"Don't bother. Solkan wiped everything."

"From both him and Calais?"

"Yes. Everything."

"Great. They always have to cover their tracks, don't they? Maybe I should see what the Captain can do. I can have him alerted next time they make contact ..."

"You can try, but don't expect much. I think they're using diplomatic encryption codes, so even the Captain's codes won't override them. They know he's on our side."

"Great."


They broke into a full run.

"You know," Olivia said between breaths, "I think Solkan's onto us."

"He has been for a while." Thelis' antennae relaxed. "Really, you don't make things any better by aggravating him."

"He complained?"

"To Andersen."

"Who else?" she asked sarcastically.

"Even after three years, he still won't do what he's suppposed to and come to me about stuff like that."

"Of course not!" She laughed, panting.


"You'd think a Vulcan wouldn't hold a grudge ... being un-emotional and all." He paused to breathe. "Really, though, you need to pay attention during department meetings, Olivia."

"You know what Steve did?"

"Other than show up late? You told me that already."

"I think ... he tried to ask me on a date!"

"You sound annoyed. You didn't turn him down, did you?"

"Of course I did!"

"Wha ... Olivia!" He stopped in his tracks, shaking his head.


She slowed and turned back towards him. "I'm not interested in him, so I turned him down. Okay? I'm already taken!"

"By a man who died ten years ago, Olivia! Ten years ago! It's time to move on!"


She turned away, tears unexplicably threatening to come. She squeezed her eyes shut, then sprinted as fast as she could away from Thelis. Away from her problems. Away from everything she still couldn't face.

When she was not far down the hall, her combadge beeped. "LaVena to Hernandez," Staci's voice said.

Not wanting Thelis to catch up to her, she slowed only to a fast jog and answered. "Go ahead, Staci."

"Hey, I've got a question."

"Yeah?" She was feeling pretty out of breath now.


"I'm wondering if we can cancel our dinner for tonight? Steve asked me to dinner and a holonovel with him."

What?! She was shocked, she hadn't expected this. "Um, sure. Go ahead."

"Are you sure?" Staci asked. "I mean, you sound a little ..."

"Yeah. Should be fine. Gotta go."

"Okay. Thanks, Olivia."

"No problem." She picked up her pace again, her head filled with all kinds of unexpected emotions. But, strangely, what prevailed was jealosy for Staci and an anger towards Steve.

She couldn't be falling for him, she decided. All this confusion was simply beacuse she hadn't slept well the past few nights, and she was letting herself get too wrapped up in all these emotions.


After all, she was already taken. And no one could ever take his place. Ever.

________


Leaving the Operations department meeting in a crowd of people, Ensign Newlin felt like someone was following her.

It was silly, of course, that she would feel that way with so many people leaving at once, and each of them going their own way ... but she still couldn't shake the feeling.


It had been this way ever since she'd been recruited by Section 31. She'd accepted their offer for the action, the excitement, but all she ever did now was look over her shoulder to ensure no one was watching her.

As she rounded the bend by Sickbay, she thought she heard footsteps behind her.

It was quite unlikely, she reasoned, that anyone was truly behind her, because she was taking the long route to her room, taking the turbolift down by senior officers' quarters, going past Sickbay ... they'd have to be taking the same indirect path to wherever they were going, too.


A large, male hand suddenly grasped her shoulder. She gasped, but didn't turn around. She felt the familiar sensation that the being who touched her was at least marginally telepathic.

Commander Solkan, she thought. She finally looked, and found she was right.

"Tommorrow morning, we will arrive at Vulcan," he said, hushed and in a deep voice. "I noticed you are on duty in the transporter room at that time."

"Yes, sir," she said uneasily.


"Our guests, T'Lea and Kareb, will be departing." His volume dropped a few levels, and, one hand still on her shoulder, leaned closer to her face. "I want you to delay them with some 'routine maintenance.'"

"I'll be informed of their departure ahead of time, sir." She fought to keep her voice from wavering. "Any routine maintenance will be expected to wait."


"You will detect a problem in your normal daily scans, something that requires attention before they can transport. It will necessitate the scheduled procedure to not be put off, but be performed immediately. The data logs will support this if anyone cares to question it." He fingered a lock of her hair.

"How long before their departure will this 'problem' appear?"

"One hour."


She could feel his warm breath on her ear.

"The nature of the problem will make itself known to you tommorrow morning," he said. She wondered if he had sensed telepathically what she was about to ask. "It is not necessary for you to know tonight."

She nodded, and just as abruptly as he had come up behind her and grabbed her shoulder, his hand fell back to his side and he walked away, facing straight ahead, as if nothing at all had just happened.


She sighed, having more questions than answers.

Such was life in Section 31.

(continued) ....

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#17 Old 24th Jul 2011 at 11:51 AM Last edited by carenrose : 24th Jul 2011 at 12:10 PM.
Default Chapter 4: Cloak (Part One) ... post 2

Exhausted and craving the sleep she had not gotten for the past few nights, Olivia slid under her covers, ready for the warmth to envelop her and let her fall into a peaceful sleep.

But as she turned off the lights, it felt like her mind turned on.


A thousand thoughts, frustrations, and worries rushed at her at once, demanding to be processed by her conscious mind before she could sleep. They just would not wait until REM sleep to surface.

She tried to lay still, to force herself to focus on sleep, but her mind rebelled and her body followed. She was soon tossing, turning, the dull ache of exhaustion making it impossible to get comfortable but demanding a comfortable position all the same.

It had been years since she'd had this much trouble sleeping for so many nights in a row, she thought. And it had all started that first night T'Lea came aboard. What was it about her, Olivia wondered, that she couldn't get over? That kept reminding her of so many things, so many things from her own past? She had never been drawn quite so strongly to any of her patients, not at such a subcortical level.

Ah, but there was no time to figure that out now. She needed sleep, and badly. Last time she'd gone without any sleep for days, she'd started having seizures again. And, of course, the powers that be at Starfleet Medical clamped down on her and put her on a 6-month probation from doing any surgeries ... something they would certainly do again if she continued on the course she was on.

Of course, this was something both T'Kara and Steve wouldn't hesitate to remind her about if they knew she wasn't sleeping well. And the readings from her neurocortical monitor were readily available to those charged with her "health," both physical and mental. She sometimes wished she didn't have to work with them every day.


And Steve ... What was he thinking today?! What right had he to ask her out like that? He knew she wasn't interested ...

Or was she?

Olivia pushed that thought back to wherever it came from. She wasn't. She was not interested in Steve.

But that he had the gall to turn right around and ask Staci ...

Then again, hadn't she told him, "Maybe you can find someone else to go with you?"

Why did she even care that he asked Staci? That was great, all the better for them both, right?


Olivia sighed forcefully. Thinking about this wasn't helping her get to sleep.

But Steve ...


She growled and threw the covers off. This was ridiculous. There was no way she'd ever get to sleep if she kept going like this. As much as she hated to, she knew it was time to seek medicinal help.

She glanced at the chronometer on her way out the door, hoping it was late enough that no one would be around to see her wandering through the ship in her pajamas. She didn't like people to see her in her pajamas.


She padded her way through the halls to Sickbay unnoticed. Steve's liable to be there, she thought. Maybe I'd better go to the upper level.

Changing course, Olivia headed for the nearest turbolift that would take her up to deck 6, to the small surgical/intensive care suite. She could sneak in there without Steve seeing her ... she hoped.


She entered her access number into the panel by the door and it opened with a swish. Olivia stepped backwards, even though she knew no one in the main part of Sickbay below could hear through the protective transparent aluminum walls.

The replicator prompted her for an access code and patient name. Reluctantly, she typed in her own name. The empty list of known medications and interactions popped up, along with a single medical condition, described as an "abnormality of the thalamo-cortical loop resulting in infrequent non-convulsive generalized seizures."


The description she had written herself, many years ago, before she had really been comfortable telling anyone in Starfleet that she had epilepsy. She chuckled slightly at its verbosity now.

When prompted, she entered the name of the medication and the dose she wanted, and it replicated a small vial filled with the slightly yellow liquid. She found a hypospray in the drawers and snapped the vial into place.


Pressing the tip over her right jugular vein, she pressed the button, and it delivered the contents in a short, mildly painful burst.

She quickly returned the hypospray to its drawer, and put the empty vial back on the replicator to be recycled. She knew from past experience that she had less than ten minutes until it would take effect.


Olivia quietly made her way back to her quarters, where she crawled under the covers, and, after a few minutes finally fell asleep.

________


Sickbay's doors swished open to reveal the cacophony of five critically ill patients awaiting her attention. She passed from one bed to the next, reading preliminary scan results, taking mental notes. One: ruptured cerebral aneurysm. Still conscious but falling fast. Two: fifty-nine percent burned, third and forth degree. Plasma burns. Degree of airway involvement unknown. Three: just brought in by security. Very agressive and agitated, cause unknown. Consider psychiatric as well as medical causes. Fourth: impaled through lower lobe of left lung. Hemopneumothorax, cyanotic. Close to shock. Fifth: generalized convulsive seizure, unknown cause. Apparently been seizing since before they were brought in four minutes ago. Should be considered status epilepticus.


Triage, her head told her, but, save for the third, they all needed her equally. It was chaos.


At the first bed, she read the results of the latest scan. Blood was flowing into the subarachnoid space, and her patient had just lost consciousness. Elevated blood pressure and some cardiac arrhythmias. She was showing signs of nuchal rigidity, suggesting initial onset of subarachnoid hemorrhage at six hours prior ...


As she set the curved vascular regenerator on the patient's forehead, Olivia grabbed the patient's thumbnail and squeezed. She opened her eyes and pulled her hand away. Good, Olivia thought. No abnormal posturing. Still comatose, though, GCS 2-1-4.

Making sure the vascular regenerator was doing its job, she turned around to face her next patient.


"Doctor - " he called out in a raspy voice.

She scanned him. Minor respiratory involvement due to breathing super-heated air. Rapid, shallow respiratons, tachycardia, hypotension, narrowing pulse pressure. Hypovolemic shock.

A dermal regenerator would do no good for him, as there was little dermis left to regenerate.


Olivia turned suddenly. There was someone there, in the shadows, someone lurking, up to no good. She suppressed a shudder and continued on.

Another doctor came up behind her and began treating the burn patient, so she moved along to the fourth. The third behind her shouted incoherently at the security personnell beside him.


It looked like she had been impaled with a pipe or conduit, perhaps related to the the same incident as her second patient was involved in? Her breathing was very shallow, fast, labored, and she was displaying the signs of the first stages of shock. Every breath was agony. She was very pale, and her lips and nail beds were already very blue.


Olivia walked to the other side of her patient's bed to see the exit wound. She was lucky, the pipe had missed her spinal canal by more than an inch, but the destruction of her left lung was severe, and she had several fractured ribs. Judging by her emotional state, though, her brain was starting to suffer from lack of oxygen.


Just out of sight, that shadowy figure moved closer. What did he want with her, she wondered, with her patients? No one else seemed to pay him any mind.

Olivia scanned her patient. There was no known damage to the aorta or other major blood vessels. Of all her patients, she perhaps had the best chance.

Olivia noted that her fifth patient was still seizing. Damn, she thought. It's been too long ...


The fourth patient started to cough ... coughing up blood. Agony, Olivia thought, and the word repeated itself in her mind. She grabbed a hypospray with bloody hands and realized she wasn't wearing gloves.

Somewhere in the room, a metal object clattered to the floor. Olivia jumped and turned to look, and found the shadowy figure much closer than before. She quickly administered the spray to her patient, then began on the fifth.


Scans on the fifth indicated no infectious diseases, no brain tumors, no traumatic injury, no swelling of the brain, no infarctions, no bleeding, no drug use or abuse ...

What else? she thought. What else can be causing this? She ran another scan, and all blood sugar, electrolyte, and other chemical levels were well within normal range for someone who had been seizing for the past ten minutes. Damn.


She grabbed another hypospray, noted her hands were still bloody, and shot it into his neck. She waited. No response.


Two beds over, her third patient suddenly vomited blood. She cocked her head and ran through a list of possibilities as she administered another dose to her status patient.

The shadow was right behind her, less than a foot. She could hear him breathing.

No response to medication from patient number five. Refractory status epilepticus. Damn, damn, damn ...


Olivia felt something at her neck. She started to whirl around to face the shadow, but suddenly felt very faint, and fell to her knees.


As she stared into her bloodied hands, the rest of the room faded around her, and she was struck with the realization that none of her patients would be saved.


Slowly, she fell backwards towards the floor ...

________


Olivia found herself awake, staring wide-eyed at the darkness around her. Her heartrate was slightly elevated, but not pounding. She looked around, disquieted, uneasy. She felt like there should be someone waiting, lurking in the shadows. Had what she just experienced been a dream, or reality? Had he brought her here to her quarters before she regained consciousness?

No, she thought. I went to Sickbay earlier, took 5 cc's of dylamazine, came back here ...

One of the side effects of this medication was unusually vivid, strange dreams. And the more nights she had gone without substantial sleep, the more unsettling her dreams naturally were.

"Damn," she said aloud. I wanted to know what was wrong with the third.


Looking around the darkest corners of the room again, she got the distinct feeling that she wasn't looking for just any shady figure, but for a very specific one. Solkan.

Why him? she wondered. He's never tried to keep me from saving anyone. He never even comes in to Sickbay! So why do I think he's the shadow guy?

Forget it. Time to go to sleep


________

(continued) .........

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Lab Assistant
DELETED POST
Original Poster
24th Jul 2011 at 11:52 AM
Default Chapter 4: Cloak (Part One) ... post 2
This message has been deleted by carenrose. Reason: again, double-post ... grr.
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#18 Old 24th Jul 2011 at 11:53 AM Last edited by carenrose : 24th Jul 2011 at 12:11 PM.
Default Chapter 4: Cloak (Part One) ... post 3
________

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________











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If you still can't see the pictures, click here for description.

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#19 Old 24th Jul 2011 at 11:54 AM Last edited by carenrose : 24th Jul 2011 at 12:13 PM.
Default Chapter 4: Cloak (Part One) ... post 4

Olivia screamed. She screamed until she was gasping for breath, shaking, sobbing, nauseous. She rocked herself back and forth, tears streaming down her face, crying "I killed him ... I killed him ... I killed him ..."


T'Kara's words came to mind, words she had told Olivia many times before. She'd said Olivia wasn't responsible for his death, that it was not her fault, that she'd done what she could. But T'Kara, and all the other counselors she'd had to talk to, knew nothing! He was dead because Olivia had failed, because she hadn't seen it coming, because she couldn't save him, because she hadn't tried hard enough!

She was a doctor, damn it, and she hadn't even been able to save her own fiancee!

How many times had she said she loved him? How many times had she assured him he was safe with her? How many? Not enough!


If she had just tried harder, maybe he would have had a fighting chance, maybe he wouldn't have given up!

And now ... Steve ...

She couldn't bear for it to happen again.

What was it that T'Kara had said, about not being able to let go? Why she still could not take off his ring, after ten years? But why should she let go?

Was it so she could be "free" to pursue other men? Was it so she could live a "fuller" life? Was it so she could forget her past and move on?

She would never forget him! He had been the world to her. He had meant everything. To simply ... discard ... his memory so she could continue her life was ... impossible. Even ten years later, he still had her heart, had everything of her. And she would let nothing, no one, take him away from her again.


Exhausted and sweating*, she crawled out of bed and collapsed against the side of it on the floor. The nausea from earlier had subsided once she calmed herself down a little. But she still felt drained, empty.

Slowly, she laid down on the floor, and surrendered to the exhaustion. There was really no use fighting now.


Sleep claimed her quickly.

________


"Sickbay to Dr. Hernandez."

Olivia groaned. Where ...

"Sickbay to Dr. Hernandez."

She groaned again and tried to sit up, but her back complained sharply.

"Dr. Hernandez!"


"What?!"

"Olivia, where are you?" Steve snapped. "Your shift started fifteen minutes ago!"

"Damn!" she exclaimed. "Damn ... damn it!" She looked at the chronometer.


Despite the pain from sleeping on the floor, she jumped up and threw on her uniform as fast as she could. She barely had her shoes on when she ran out the door.

________


Sickbays doors opened to Steve, standing arms crossed, waiting for her.

"It's about time."

"I - I'm - "

"You're the Chief Medical Officer, and this is the kind of example you set?"


"I'm never late!"

"Today you are! Twenty minutes!"

"I - "

"We talked about lateness in the department meeting yesterday, Olivia. The meeting that -"


"That, as I recall, you were late to."

"It's the only thing you recall about the meeting, too."

"I was - "

"I know you haven't been having seizures, Olivia, so you have no excuse. You weren't paying any attention at all."


"What business is it of yours what I was doing during the meeting?"

"So I suppose I should follow your example now, huh?"

"What?"


"You heard me. Now, I've had a long night, so I'd be more than grateful if you'd let me get out of here in a timely manner."

"You've had a long night?"

"Yes, I have. I've actually been working, not spending the night wandering around sickbay in my pajamas."

Olivia felt herself blush, and hid her face.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to go get some sleep."


"Go."

"Thank you," he said with more than a touch of sarcasm, and walked out.

________


"We should be arriving at Vulcan in approximately two hours, Captain."

"Any sign of a message from them yet, Ensign?"

"Negative, sir. Nothing from Vulcan."


"Any sign that their communications may be down, anything?"

"No sir, plenty of activity there. Just ... none for us."

"That's odd."


"Do you think something's wrong, sir?"

"Wrong?" He paused, thinking. "It's as if they aren't expecting us. We bring home two of their diplomats, and you'd think they'd expect us ..."

"Did Starfleet ever inform them that we would be the ones bringing them home?" Solkan asked.

"I - I suppose I don't know."


"Don't worry yourself, then, Captain. Worry is illogical when you don't have all the necessary facts."

"I suppose you're right."

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#20 Old 24th Jul 2011 at 11:55 AM Last edited by carenrose : 24th Jul 2011 at 12:38 PM.
Default Chapter 4: Cloak (Part One) ... post 5

One hour later

"Ensign Newlin to the Captain."

"Go ahead, Ensign."

"Sir, we've had a slight malfunction with the transporters, it'll require a few minor repairs before we can use them again."

"What sort of malfunction?"

The phase transition coils are out of alignment. It should only take an hour or two to fix."

"We're less than an hour away from Vulcan, Ensign. Do what you have to, but make it quick."

________


"Dropping out of warp for arrival at Vulcan, sir."

"Standard orbit. Alert me if they hail us."

"Yes, sir."

"Ensign Newlin, how's the transporter coming?"

"It's coming, Captain. But it might be another fifteen to thirty minutes."


Andersen sighed. "Solkan, you're coming with me. Thelis, you have the bridge."

Once in the turbolift, Solkan turned to the Captain. "Where, precisely, are we going?"


"You are going down to the transporter room to see what's going on, to help the Ensign if you can. I am going to inform T'Lea and Kareb of our current situation."

Solkan nodded slightly. This was going exactly as planned.

They exited the turbolift on Deck 7, just between Sickbay and Transporter Room 2.

"Captain," he began, "perhaps - "

Thelis' voice interrupted him. "Captain, we're being hailed."


"Good. We're just past sickbay, route it down there. Solkan, you go ahead and talk to T'Lea and Kareb. Apologize to them for me, will you?"

"Yes, Captain." This was going even better than planned.

________


"Good morning, Doctor."

Olivia barely looked up from her lab work to greet the Captain.

"If you'll excuse me for a moment," he said, "I need to borrow one of your lab screens."

"Go ahead."


Andersen recognized the Vulcan woman that appeared as Admiral T'Rena, one of the Vulcans' top brass. "I apologize for the delay, Admiral," he said.

"It is of no matter, Captain ..."

"Andersen, USS Taurus."

"What can we do for you, Captain Andersen?"

"Do? We're returning your ambassadors - T'Lea and Kareb - "

"I apologize, Captain -" She began, but stopped short. "For the inconvenience. Had it been possible, we would have sent for them ourselves."


"Of course," he said. "It's no problem."

________


"It is gracious of you to allow me to talk to you before you leave," Solkan said as he stood in the doorway of T'Lea and Kareb's quarters.

T'Lea motioned him towards a chair.

"The Captain and I were a bit ... concerned ... that no one on Vulcan seemed aware of our arrival. It seemed a bit unusual for ambassadors such as yourselves to have such a ... quiet entrance."

"There is no cause for concern, Commander. T'Lea and I are no longer ambassadors, we have retired. We are simple stellar cartographers with a background in diplomatic service. From time to time our knowledge is requested, especially in such 'unofficial' situations as the one on Cirtri."

"Your 'knowledge?'"

"Of diplomatic affairs and communication."

"Or your services?"


"What are you implying, Commander?"

"I am not implying anything, Ambassador. I am simply asking a question."

"We do not have any 'service' that we offer. We bring our knowledge into a situation where it is requested, that is all."

"Then perhaps you would be interested in another 'situation' - "

"I apologize, Commander, but we only operate through regular channels."

" - a sharing of knowledge, as it may be."


"What knowledge would we possibly have, that would interest an individual, a Commander in Starfleet? And what kind of knowledge do you believe we would be interested in from you?"

Under her breath, T'Lea whispered, "A Lieutenant Commander."

"We have a lot in common, you know. There are things we could accomplish ... which could not be done alone."

"We are stellar cartographers and independant consultants. You are a Starfleet officer. What you 'accomplish,' and what we 'accomplish,' are in entirely different realms. What is it that you want from us?"

"What do I want? Information, knowledge, just like you do."

"We could arrange for you to be enrolled in diplomatic services training on Vulcan, if that is your wish."


"You retired eight years ago, yet you still have full access, don't you?"

"Access to what?"

"And you regularly attend sensitive 'diplomatic' meetings and negotiations. You dine with leaders from throughout the quadrant. You -"

"If that were the case, we would not share such confidential information with anyone in Starfleet, especially one so low in the chain of command."

"You have a such a degree of autonomy, that you never had before you retired -"


Solkan's communicator beeped, nearly catching him off guard. "Solkan here."

"Transporter room reports ready, sir," spoke the voice of Ensign Newlin.

"Thank you, Ensign."

Before he could speak again, his combadge sounded a second time. "Solkan here."

"Transporters are back online, no further problems," the Captain said. "Meet me in five minutes?"

"Aye, sir."

"Back online?" Kareb said.

"We had some mainenance that took slightly longer than expected."


"We appreciate having been informed, Commander," he replied, voice dripping with as much sarcasm as his perfect Vulcan demeanor could muster.

________


Standing in Transporter Room Two, Kareb handed a PADD back to Ensign Newlin, transport coordinates entered.

"Are you sure these are correct, Ambassador?"

"I know my own home planet, Ensign. Those are the correct coordinates." He stepped up onto the pad, and T'Lea followed.


Without the normal formalities expected from a departing Ambassador and the Captain who hosted him, Kareb simply inclined his head towards the Captain and said, "It was agreeable seeing you again, Captain."

T'Lea, having been silent since before they entered the room, finally spoke up. "Give our 'regards' to your parents."

"I will."


Kareb lifted his hand, giving the traditional Vulcan farewell. Then, with a shimmer of light, the couple dematerialized.

"What was their destination?" asked Solkan.

"A small city in the northwestern continent, population approximately -"

"In other words, not the capital city."

"Yes, sir. That is correct. It's not even a major metropolitan area."

"It's where they live, Solkan. They're going to the city where they live. The question is, why? Why is no one waiting for them, expecting their arrival?"


"Perhaps your earlier concerns may have been founded, Captain."

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#21 Old 17th Sep 2012 at 3:55 AM
Note: FINALLY posted!!
In case it is not clear, the events of this chapter take place within a 5-month period (except for the one paragraph that explains what happened "four years ago," you know).



[size=200]
Chapter 4: Pursuit (Part Two)
[/size]

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/9hrOQ.png[/imgsize]
For three months, Steve and Staci continued seeing each other, though it became clear that if he had ever been truly attracted to her, he really had no interest anymore. They met once a week for a lunch "date," and only ever talked about work. There were no more flowers, no more effort, and no more pursuit. He knew it had been a mistake to bring her into his conflict with Olivia, to use her just to spite her. Only out of some sense of obligation, some desire not to hurt him, did Staci continue to hold on to the strings of what was left of their romance. Steve, on the other hand, clung to the hurt and betrayal and tried unsucessfully to create from it something like love.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/o7V2B.png[/imgsize]
The rest of the medical staff saw what was going on between Steve, Staci, and Olivia, and chose to keep their distance. Olivia chose to ignore all of them, pretending she wasn't hurt, pouring herself into her work until it was all she was. She worked extra hours, and ran surgical simulations in the holodeck when she was avoiding Steve in Sickbay. She had found an outlet in her interest in T'Lea, so she allowed it to consume her thoughts. Day in and day out, she obsessed over the procedure, perfecting it, reviewing it, researching and testing even less conventional alternatives, logging hours upon hours of surgical simulations. And when she slept, she dreamed of of surgery and not of a painful past.

________

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/FtRwg.png[/imgsize]
Four years earlier, a young Andorian investigative jourmalist had stumbled upon some disturbing facts, facts implying corruption in the upper levels of Starfleet, things accessible to the public but not under public scrutiny. He spent time researching, gathering more information, before he felt he had a workable theory. His conclusion: that Section 31 was now held control of Starfleet Command, and therefore, of everything done by Starfleet. When he finally brought forth his evidence to the public, some were interested, but too many dismissed it as paranoid, citing the simple fact that he was Andorian as enough evidence to that point. For almost three years, the man continued to have a neglected presence in the media, his ideas listened to by some but ultimately dismissed by many.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/ZPDcG.png[/imgsize]
Suddenly, near the end of the most recent Terran calendar year, he publicly announced his resignation from the news agency that employed him. Some suspected they had pressured the resignation, others wondered if he'd had some sort of mental breakdown and holed up on some barren asteroid. A few even said he had been kidnapped and was sitting in some prison somewhere. But within a few weeks, all conversation about him died down as he was relegated to the back corners of the public mind.

________

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/MOCyF.png[/imgsize]
Over the next few months after arriving back home on Vulcan, T'Lea and Kareb recieved and ignored multiple subspace messages originating from the Taurus. At first, they hoped for some news about their daughter, three years ago sucked into some strange rift which transported her and her ship to an alternate universe. But Andersen and his crew hadn't been able to keep contact with her, and in fact had been assigned to other missions over time.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/DSGWd.png[/imgsize]
They determined that every single message, save three, originated from the science officer, all encrypted with diplomatic codes. Since their face-to-face encounter the last time they were aboard the Taurus, it had become clear he had nothing important to say.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/jqX2d.png[/imgsize]
Thelis, the Captain, and Olivia continued to work together to crack through the codes Solkan used, without much success. They first discovered the new recipient, someone unknown on Vulcan, the multiple messages with no reply. Eventually, their work paid off, and they were able to determine the intended recipient, still if not the contents.

Still, it stumped them why Solkan should have such interest in T'Lea and Kareb, that he should attempt to contact them so often. He had been their missing daughter's bethrothed mate, but hadn't made any previous attempts to contact them regarding her. And in every other case, he only used the encryption codes when he had something to hide. Thelis, working on that assumption, tried to find a connection between his contact with Hanson and when he contacted T'Lea and Kareb, but there was no appreciable pattern. Olivia then contacted them herself three times, telling herself it had nothing to do with the surgery, but was only to "apologize" for Solkan's relentlessness.

________

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/aRwQj.png[/imgsize]
As for the rest of the Federation, there were some outlying planets, part of a near-rebellious coalition of developing member worlds, that were under attack from a relatively powerful group of pirates in the sector. Instead of seeking assistance from Starfleet, the planets sought assistance from a quasi-military group long descended from the Maquis, the organization formed over 50 years ago near the time of the Dominion War. The group was in Starfleet's good graces, so Starfleet allowed them to defend the worlds which were not in their good graces.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/urdfg.png[/imgsize]
The neo-Maquis' actions in the area led to a subtle shift in the balance of trade, leading to Ferengi merchants going head-to-head with their Tellarite competitors in a sector where the Tellarites previously had the biggest operation. These Tellarite - and Ferengi - merchants began to view Starfleet as weak and even incompetent and found themselves agreeing more and more with the ideology of the outlying worlds and their militant leader.

Cirtri's rival governments, however, never showed any official action, too afraid of open war on their planet. But behind the scenes, each side had formed alliances, the political atmosphere of their planet echoing the Federation as a whole. Not a member planet itself, Cirtri had become a place where disagreements could be hashed out and where both sides oddly felt safe.

________

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/mOqEK.png[/imgsize]
Solkan visited Dr. T'Kara's office several times in those few months, seeking mental training from her, a more powerful telepath, to bolster his own below-average telepathic abilities. She turned him away every time, making it clear that she was not qualified and was not interested in doing such a thing. He began to visit her quarters when they were both off duty, but never got to stay any longer than 60 seconds.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/TW41T.png[/imgsize]
Undeterred by his failure, he began meeting Ensign Newlin in Engineering at the end of her shifts, walking with her to the recreation lounge where she sat with him, looking absolutely terrified to be there. They sat in the far corner, away from others who might eavesdrop. To her relief, she always returned to her quarters alone. When questioned later by Thelis about these encounters, she said they were simply discussing work, allocation of ship's resources to the transporters, and a possible path towards promotion for her.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/MeHNY.png[/imgsize]
Near the end of the year, Solkan began repeatedly contacting a young female Vulcan officer aboard the USS Antares, where he had been stationed before coming aboard Taurus. The Captain, Thelis, and Olivia soon found this ship to be heavily controlled by Section 31. However, he chose not to hide his activity, as he was asking her to become his mate.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/IJB1A.png[/imgsize]
The Antares officer initially refused, and Solkan, now in the throes of pon farr, assaulted Dr. T'Kara the same day, causing enough injury that she spent the evening in Sickbay. The Antares officer finally accepted, though now that the communications were being encrypted, it may have only been because of threat of force.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/Nk9wQ.png[/imgsize]
Reluctantly, the Captain allowed Solkan to travel via shuttlecraft to the Antares, from which he returned much calmer but with new encryption codes.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/0DB8d.png[/imgsize]
Back on duty, Solkan began to exercise his freedom as Operations Manager to leave his station on the bridge and visit Chief Engineer Calais down in Engineering. Though a Changeling, she had always been far too timid to do any covert work for Section 31, but Solkan always pushed her in that direction. The Captain, Thelis, and Olivia assumed that was the nature of his visits, until an anonymous report came to Thelis from someone who had witnessed Solkan pulling Cal off into an empty side room near Main Engineering, with his arm around her waist. The source said she looked reluctant to go and seemed to pull away from his touch. When questioned, however, Calais claimed no recollection of any such event and rejected the implication that Solkan would act with such impropriety.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/7CZsl.png[/imgsize]
Then, late one night, the brig commander, an Allasomorph named Lassasia, showed up in Dr. T'Kara's office, asking vague questions about Vulcans and forced mind-melds. Sensing her unshielded fear, T'Kara brought her across the hall to Sickbay, where Steve was on duty. Though the night, the two doctors observed and comforted her. Once Steve had researched her physiology, he determined there was no physical harm done. T'Kara then left Sickbay, passing a PADD with her office hours to Lassassia on the way out. In the morning, Olivia arrived for her shift and asked Steve if they had questioned the girl or alerted security. Offended that she would think them so incompetent as to forget something that critical, Steve called T'Kara back to Sickbay, pulled Olivia into his office and angrily explained all that had happened that night. Olivia remained oblivious to the reason for his anger. T'Kara entered, interrupting their argument, and showed the final incident report, which only said she had been assaulted by an "unknown Vulcan male." She again left Steve and Olivia to work together to wrap things up with Security and discharge Lassassia, who had made her decision not to pursue further investigation to identify the "unknown" man.

[imgsize]http://i.imgur.com/6QATG.png[/imgsize]
And finally, after nearly five months of avoiding each other, Steve and Olivia finally worked up the courage to tolerate each other's presence while on duty in Sickbay, ignoring the awkwardness between them rather than ignoring each other.

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
~~~~
Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#22 Old 17th Sep 2012 at 3:55 AM
Default Chapter 4: Pursuit (Part Two)
Note: FINALLY posted!!
In case it is not clear, the events of this chapter take place within a 5-month period (except for the one paragraph that explains what happened "four years ago," you know).



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Chapter 4: Pursuit (Part Two)
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For three months, Steve and Staci continued seeing each other, though it became clear that if he had ever been truly attracted to her, he really had no interest anymore. They met once a week for a lunch "date," and only ever talked about work. There were no more flowers, no more effort, and no more pursuit. He knew it had been a mistake to bring her into his conflict with Olivia, to use her just to spite her. Only out of some sense of obligation, some desire not to hurt him, did Staci continue to hold on to the strings of what was left of their romance. Steve, on the other hand, clung to the hurt and betrayal and tried unsucessfully to create from it something like love.

The rest of the medical staff saw what was going on between Steve, Staci, and Olivia, and chose to keep their distance. Olivia chose to ignore all of them, pretending she wasn't hurt, pouring herself into her work until it was all she was. She worked extra hours, and ran surgical simulations in the holodeck when she was avoiding Steve in Sickbay. She had found an outlet in her interest in T'Lea, so she allowed it to consume her thoughts. Day in and day out, she obsessed over the procedure, perfecting it, reviewing it, researching and testing even less conventional alternatives, logging hours upon hours of surgical simulations. And when she slept, she dreamed of of surgery and not of a painful past.

________

Four years earlier, a young Andorian investigative jourmalist had stumbled upon some disturbing facts, facts implying corruption in the upper levels of Starfleet, things accessible to the public but not under public scrutiny. He spent time researching, gathering more information, before he felt he had a workable theory. His conclusion: that Section 31 was now held control of Starfleet Command, and therefore, of everything done by Starfleet. When he finally brought forth his evidence to the public, some were interested, but too many dismissed it as paranoid, citing the simple fact that he was Andorian as enough evidence to that point. For almost three years, the man continued to have a neglected presence in the media, his ideas listened to by some but ultimately dismissed by many.

Suddenly, near the end of the most recent Terran calendar year, he publicly announced his resignation from the news agency that employed him. Some suspected they had pressured the resignation, others wondered if he'd had some sort of mental breakdown and holed up on some barren asteroid. A few even said he had been kidnapped and was sitting in some prison somewhere. But within a few weeks, all conversation about him died down as he was relegated to the back corners of the public mind.

________

Over the next few months after arriving back home on Vulcan, T'Lea and Kareb recieved and ignored multiple subspace messages originating from the Taurus. At first, they hoped for some news about their daughter, three years ago sucked into some strange rift which transported her and her ship to an alternate universe. But Andersen and his crew hadn't been able to keep contact with her, and in fact had been assigned to other missions over time.

They determined that every single message, save three, originated from the science officer, all encrypted with diplomatic codes. Since their face-to-face encounter the last time they were aboard the Taurus, it had become clear he had nothing important to say.

Thelis, the Captain, and Olivia continued to work together to crack through the codes Solkan used, without much success. They first discovered the new recipient, someone unknown on Vulcan, the multiple messages with no reply. Eventually, their work paid off, and they were able to determine the intended recipient, still if not the contents.

Still, it stumped them why Solkan should have such interest in T'Lea and Kareb, that he should attempt to contact them so often. He had been their missing daughter's bethrothed mate, but hadn't made any previous attempts to contact them regarding her. And in every other case, he only used the encryption codes when he had something to hide. Thelis, working on that assumption, tried to find a connection between his contact with Hanson and when he contacted T'Lea and Kareb, but there was no appreciable pattern. Olivia then contacted them herself three times, telling herself it had nothing to do with the surgery, but was only to "apologize" for Solkan's relentlessness.

________

As for the rest of the Federation, there were some outlying planets, part of a near-rebellious coalition of developing member worlds, that were under attack from a relatively powerful group of pirates in the sector. Instead of seeking assistance from Starfleet, the planets sought assistance from a quasi-military group long descended from the Maquis, the organization formed over 50 years ago near the time of the Dominion War. The group was in Starfleet's good graces, so Starfleet allowed them to defend the worlds which were not in their good graces.

The neo-Maquis' actions in the area led to a subtle shift in the balance of trade, leading to Ferengi merchants going head-to-head with their Tellarite competitors in a sector where the Tellarites previously had the biggest operation. These Tellarite - and Ferengi - merchants began to view Starfleet as weak and even incompetent and found themselves agreeing more and more with the ideology of the outlying worlds and their militant leader.

Cirtri's rival governments, however, never showed any official action, too afraid of open war on their planet. But behind the scenes, each side had formed alliances, the political atmosphere of their planet echoing the Federation as a whole. Not a member planet itself, Cirtri had become a place where disagreements could be hashed out and where both sides oddly felt safe.

________

Solkan visited Dr. T'Kara's office several times in those few months, seeking mental training from her, a more powerful telepath, to bolster his own below-average telepathic abilities. She turned him away every time, making it clear that she was not qualified and was not interested in doing such a thing. He began to visit her quarters when they were both off duty, but never got to stay any longer than 60 seconds.

Undeterred by his failure, he began meeting Ensign Newlin in Engineering at the end of her shifts, walking with her to the recreation lounge where she sat with him, looking absolutely terrified to be there. They sat in the far corner, away from others who might eavesdrop. To her relief, she always returned to her quarters alone. When questioned later by Thelis about these encounters, she said they were simply discussing work, allocation of ship's resources to the transporters, and a possible path towards promotion for her.

Near the end of the year, Solkan began repeatedly contacting a young female Vulcan officer aboard the USS Antares, where he had been stationed before coming aboard Taurus. The Captain, Thelis, and Olivia soon found this ship to be heavily controlled by Section 31. However, he chose not to hide his activity, as he was asking her to become his mate.

The Antares officer initially refused, and Solkan, now in the throes of pon farr, assaulted Dr. T'Kara the same day, causing enough injury that she spent the evening in Sickbay. The Antares officer finally accepted, though now that the communications were being encrypted, it may have only been because of threat of force.

Reluctantly, the Captain allowed Solkan to travel via shuttlecraft to the Antares, from which he returned much calmer but with new encryption codes.

Back on duty, Solkan began to exercise his freedom as Operations Manager to leave his station on the bridge and visit Chief Engineer Calais down in Engineering. Though a Changeling, she had always been far too timid to do any covert work for Section 31, but Solkan always pushed her in that direction. The Captain, Thelis, and Olivia assumed that was the nature of his visits, until an anonymous report came to Thelis from someone who had witnessed Solkan pulling Cal off into an empty side room near Main Engineering, with his arm around her waist. The source said she looked reluctant to go and seemed to pull away from his touch. When questioned, however, Calais claimed no recollection of any such event and rejected the implication that Solkan would act with such impropriety.

Then, late one night, the brig commander, an Allasomorph named Lassasia, showed up in Dr. T'Kara's office, asking vague questions about Vulcans and forced mind-melds. Sensing her unshielded fear, T'Kara brought her across the hall to Sickbay, where Steve was on duty. Though the night, the two doctors observed and comforted her. Once Steve had researched her physiology, he determined there was no physical harm done. T'Kara then left Sickbay, passing a PADD with her office hours to Lassassia on the way out. In the morning, Olivia arrived for her shift and asked Steve if they had questioned the girl or alerted security. Offended that she would think them so incompetent as to forget something that critical, Steve called T'Kara back to Sickbay, pulled Olivia into his office and angrily explained all that had happened that night. Olivia remained oblivious to the reason for his anger. T'Kara entered, interrupting their argument, and showed the final incident report, which only said she had been assaulted by an "unknown Vulcan male." She again left Steve and Olivia to work together to wrap things up with Security and discharge Lassassia, who had made her decision not to pursue further investigation to identify the "unknown" man.

And finally, after nearly five months of avoiding each other, Steve and Olivia finally worked up the courage to tolerate each other's presence while on duty in Sickbay, ignoring the awkwardness between them rather than ignoring each other.

Check out Picking Up the Pieces
(Chapter 4 PART TWO posted 9/16/12)
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Quote:
"Jean-Luc, we're only moving six hundred people." ~Admiral Dougherty
"How many people does it take before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral!?" ~Picard
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