Part of Endeavour: Through The Thick & Thin

Rest and Reflection

MACO Commanding Officer’s Quarters
May 21st, 2157
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Major Caidin came to us in an extremely state of psychological desolation…while I recognize that is not an official medical term, word fits. Any survivor of a Romulan Attack would suffer trauma…anyone pulled from the cold of space after their ship was destroyed, would be forgiven for having more then a few nervous ticks…any officer pulled out of a room after spending 3 days watching their fellow shipmates slowly die, till only three remained, would most definitely have to deal with stress disorders.

It would be only natural for any of these scenarios to result in severe nerouses as the mind fought to process such horrors.

Major Caidin went through all these at once…and then she was captured by a syndicate of alien slavers and thrown right into a new realm of continued horrific scenes and acts. Endured torture and nightmarish experimental surgical procedures. Had her very DNA ripped apart and put back together again…had dangerous technology never meant for human use, implanted within her body against her will…pumped so full of drugs that there times when she would go for a week without any sense of lucidity…

…all to make her an inhuman killer for the profit and entertainment of a sadistic tormentor.

I hear that some of the drill sergeants at the MACO Basic training camps, will tout their goals as turn their recruits into killing machines…but never like this, and never by the complete loss of one’s humanity…never at the cost of such violations being visited upon the soldier.

I make reference to all this, using such language, to make my point clear.

There are serious ramifications should Major Saorise M Hess-Caidin be put back into the field so soon.

Caidin has indeed been restless as late and has expressed regrets and guilt about not being able to contribute directly to the war effort or the defense of Humanity and the Commonwealth…this is compounded by her existing layers of survivor’s guilt and more then likely, the adrenal effects of those still working implants, driving her towards action, even when none is required.

One could argue that returning to active duty, a military routine…could have therapeutic value as an outlet for such feelings and impulses…I have, in effect, considered this.

I also, flatly discarded it upon review….what Caidin requires is a controlled environment, and during peace time, a MACO assignment, even out in the Colonies, may have been able to provide that…but an active war zone is hardly controlled.

It also removes Caidin from little support structure she has. Her family is on Mars, but contacts her regularly to check in and lend support…and starship medical officers, while I do not besmirch the good work that they do nor their induvidual skill and mastery, are hardly equipped with the same experience and techniques that we in Division 14 have for handling such extreme cases.

I have also heard from less…authoritative…mouths, that suggest that Patient Caidin’s ability to function on a day to day basis in spite of all that trauma sustained, means that she must have incredible will power and  that would be no further horrors that could be unleashed upon her that would have any further effect.

Pardon my momentary lapse in professionalism, as I declare those that think this, to be idiots. Damned idiots.

Caidin’s functionality in the face of further traumatic triggers, is akin to a single candle, trying to stay alight in the middle of a windstorm. Just the slightest of breezes or cross drafts hitting the candle the wrong way, and it’s lights out.

I understand that the order to return her active service is final, however…and that she has accepted those orders without hesitation….so I hereby log my extreme discontent with this situation while I am still her principle therapist: Saorise Maedb Hess-Caidin is not ready for active service and this course of action can only lead to furtherance of tragedy compounded upon tragedy.

Dr. Karen Gatlin, PsyD
Division 14, UEMed


After the inauguration festivities, Saorise had made her way back to the still spartanly-laid quarters that had been assigned to her. Her position and rank had afforded her own quarters, something that wasn’t always available on Starfleet Vessels.

NX, Columbia, and the new Yorktowns she had seen being laid out in the McKinley dry docks when she had left Earth, were all large and “stately” enough for such living comforts…on the older and smaller NUs, NTs, and NPs, accommodating a MACO team meant at the very least, doubling up even for the senior staff…on the smaller of the patrol craft assigned to guard the colonial freight lanes and economic shipping, it had meant occasionally hot-bunking with up to 3 people to a mat in some cases.

Saorise was relieved for the Endeavour’s weight-class allowing for the singular berth. She had spent the last half of the year in medical isolation, often sleeping in a hermetically sealed chamber, under restraints and remote observation, just in case a night terror set her reactive implants off accidentally and triggered a violent relapse into older habits.

This time, the observers were just the usual passive internal sensors one would expect on a Starfleet Vessel. She had actual privacy for the first time in two years, and both the self-control and state of mind to prevent such biologically violent outbursts.

As she reflected on the day, The Major was actually surprised at how smooth things had gone so far. She could faintly remember her torrid emotional state when the reactivation orders came through and the issues she was still having in managing the smorgasbord of alien tech and mismatched spliced genetic code inside her body….but ever since she had left Earth, she had been mostly calm, collected…even stoic, in her mannerisms.

Maybe the therapies had finally kicked in…maybe she was just adapting to the new circumstances and need for basic social awareness…Improvise, Adapt, Overcome as her old drill sergeant had once said during basic.

Or maybe there was something else…something she couldn’t quite put her finger on…like a shadow, just on the periphery of her mind’s eye.

Saorise shook her head and made her way to the small desk and workstation where she had stowed her gear earlier that day…maybe it didn’t matter, as long as whatever it was, kept working.

She unzipped the bag and opened up the nearby storage armoire and began putting her spare clothes, almost all MACO-issued uniforms and variants thereof. She didn’t have much personnel belongings after the destruction of the Shamshir, and hadn’t left Earth with much more either.

Hiding amongst the folded uniforms, however, there were a few personal effects, what little she had acquired over the past year:  A book of Vulcan meditation techniques from the Vulcan healer at Division 14 along with a small portable kaltoh board; A pair of Ushaan-tor hand-blades in the dueling style from the Captain of the Andorian cruiser that had transported her back to Earth after her escape; And a black-plated MACO pulse-phase pistol…a rather recent addition to her belongings, as it had only been given to her by General Casey himself when she had left the care of Division-14 and re-entered the service.

She picked up small attaché case that the pistol was stored in, and opened the biometric locks that kept it secured. The case itself, in addition to holding the pistol, also held the holster, made of actual leather, and three energy cell batteries. The pistol was of show-piece quality, it’s matte-black and silver finish marking it as different from the standard issued matte-grey sidearms of the MACOs. Engraved along the housing for the “barrel” of the weapon was the MACO motto and the personal dedication

“Semper Invictus”

Commissioned by Gen. G. Casey
For Maj. S. Hess-Caidin, 2157

On the flipside, the motto was repeated but instead of the dedication, was a more personal reminder:

You Are Still Yourself

Saorise paused her impromptu weapons check for a moment to let the meaning and intent of those four words sink in. She had taken philosophy as part of her engineering degree, to expand her capacity for thinking critically…and she found a surprising amount of overlap in materials, ideas, and theories explored in both fields of study, with one such overlap being a thought experiment known as the Ship of Theseus that went something like this:

An Ancient Greek naval hero sets out on an adventure across the sea, stopping at each port along the way to repair and replace a portion of their vessel. Upon returning home, every piece of the vessel, from rudder to bow to sail, had been replaced by a new part…the question was: Was the ship itself still the hero’s ship that he set out on? Was the property of “Theseus’s Ship” still applicable to the craft that returned? If not, at which point did the vessel loose access to that trait? When the first plank on the hull had been replaced? When over 50-percent of the vessel had been replaced? When the last piece of original material had been tossed aside in favour of something new?

Saorise had come to ask that of her own being as well in the weeks and months following her escape from the Orion gladiatorial ring known as “The Pit”, when she was finally safe to indulge in matters such as self-analysis and reflection upon what she been through and all that had been done to her…a process that had only really begun when the Andorian Cruiser delivered her back to Earth and into the care of Division-14’s Medical Anomalies staff, a process that had not been a clean nor pretty one in the beginning either, as it fell upon her like a second Xindi Weapon carving up South America.

Over the course of almost two years, she had not just had internal organs and other body parts replaced with implants and prosthetics, but also had entirely new and completely alien alterations done to her…chromosomal RNA alterations to cause her body to heal faster, to ignore otherwise crippling injuries, to push herself beyond the human body’s usual physiological safeties. She had put on several pounds just in increased bone density along, meaning she still surprisingly heavy for her size and appearance. Chemicals had been pumped through her system, she had been implanted at one point with a third lung (which Division-14 had managed to successfully remove with only minor short-term side-effects), and a nanitic colony had been injected into her neural tissue that had constructed hyper-conductive sheeting around most of her nervous system before being extracted again…there were still moments where time seemed to slow down around her: useful in emergencies, annoying when trying to pay attention to a Captain’s speech.

…and that was just a mere handful of examples to the procedures she had been forced to endure…not to mention all the repairs that had been made to her body after suffering injuries, or the scar tissue and damage left over from the surgeries undergone to try and understand and undo all of it.

…this was all in addition to the mental trauma and emotional reckoning that had, until quite recently, dominated all of her mind’s investment of energy.

Was she still herself after all that? What did it even mean to be “herself”?

She sighed and opened the casing of the phase-pistol to insert one of the battery packs, causing the weapon to power up as the casing was then shut close. She switched the settings between stun and kill, checked the sights and safeties, and then cracked the pistol back open again to take the battery pack back out and into it attaché case with it’s other two energetic siblings.

Saorise then closed the pistol back up and pulled the trigger a few times to make sure that it was inert and no residual energy was left in the unloaded system, before securing it back in the case as well, which she placed, opened and on display, next to the workstation monitors at her desk.

A medal, a memento, and a thing to tinker with when she needed to focus on anything other then the existential dread of unanswerable questions.

The MACO Detachment Commander returned to her pack and finished placing the uniforms and under-dress away. She then secured the pair of Andorian duelling blades in a desk drawer, where they would have to stay until she could borrow the tools to fix a secure mounting bracket of sorts to one of the room’s bulkheads. The kaltoh game was placed on the other side of the desk, opposite the monitors from the side-arm case, and the book of meditations was tossed on top of bed, just below the pillows.

She disrobed out of her uniform and down to the two-piece silvery MACO underdress, which refracted in the ambient lighting, giving the appearance of very fine chain mail…on a microfibre level, a comparison that wasn’t actually all that inaccurate.

Saorise took a moment to inspect the heavy scar tissue that marred most of her now bare skin, her mind once again coming back to the Ship of Theseus line of thinking…prior the destruction of the Shamshir, most of what was now scar tissue had been smooth, pale white, and covered in a heavy peppering of freckles courtesy of one of her fathers’ Gaelic ancestry…now it was a mess with the left overs of healing acid burns without a human-compatible dermal regenerator or the almost scale-like patterns from the various times she had experienced electrocution attempts…other scars were from the more traditional particle weapon burns, cuts from bladed weapons, or tearing from the fangs and claws of whatever wild fauna the green-skinned bastards of the Pits had managed to acquire on the Black Market for special “expo matches”.

The Major could feel her heart-rate increase as her line of thinking summoned up rather horrific memories that were still so fresh and detailed in the recollection. There was quickening throughout her body, and she could feel the initial gut-wrench of her enhanced adrenal system starting to churn up a boost of the equivalent of biological NOS on the orders of her fight/flight instinct-

…and then suddenly, stillness…her heart stopped for 3 seconds, then her breathing returned to normal, and her bio-rhythm followed suit through her body, as if her biological systems had gone through a hard reset to factory settings.

She could feel the traumatic thoughts and memories being pushed back in the dark far reaches of her mind, and a voice filled ancient poise and stoic wisdom replaced it, reciting a Vulcan mantra that she was sure she had heard once, but couldn’t quite place.

“You are wading through water, which swirls and crashes around you…let it flow around you…do not let it move you…now calm the tides…still the waters…there is peace…there is order…there is logic…”

Slowly, it was repeated as Saorise let herself fall back to sit on the edge of her bed.

“…there is logic…” she said, closing her eyes and beginning to repeat the mantra outloud.

After five minutes, she stopped and opened her eyes again, turning to look at the Vulcan tome by her pillows. She picked it up and sat cross legged further into the center of the padded bedding, opening to a random page and began reading the curved and linear script of the Vulcan writings.

A book before bed seemed like quite the logical course of action to take at this particular moment.


+++Meanwhile at Starfleet Security Station Pappa-Echo-09, Earth+++

Sukret of Vulcan had secured an old EM-33 patterned training pistol from the security officer on watch, as well as the firing range, with a not inconsiderate amount of diplomatic capital being spent…Sukret was a Healer trained in the his peoples old traditions, not a diplomat or politician by nature…expending such favours was not something he naturally did.

But then again, neither was handling a weapon…any sort of weapon. In fact, the last item of destructive purposes he had held, had been a survival knife forged in glass from the desert sands, during his Kahs-wan rite of passage into maturity, almost two centuries ago. Even when serving as chirurgeon aboard a cruiser during his tours with the High Command, he had forgoed the usual self-defence training on the grounds of the pacifism oaths he had sworn at Mount Selaya.

Yet, the weight and feel of the pistol seemed familiar to him…the tactile give and take of the rubber grip-panels, the curve of the trigger, and the alignment of the sights…there was a feeling of comfort, security, confidence that it evoked within him.

It gave a momentary sense of calm that he had found elusive for most of the past few days…He had found his mental discipline and self-control, becoming very strained as it was taxed constantly by even the smallest of annoyances. The grating idiosyncrasies of his colleagues, the twangs in the South Georgian accent of one of his patients…an argument on medical ethics with Dr. Daniel Brigh, a fairly common daily occurrence between the two, had almost turned violent when Sukret’s emotional impulse control nearly slipped just as, for the briefest of moments, Sukret mentally pictured himself snapping the impudent human’s neck with his bare hands.

The realization of just how close he came to reverting back to the primal savagery of his pre-Surak ancestors, was a disturbing one to say the lease.

If he was in Vulcan space, such an incident might give cause to Sukret taking emergency leave from his duties and visiting a monastery like that on Mount Seleya, or the Sanctury at P’Jem (before it’s destruction at the hands of the High Command’s hubris and the barrage of Andorian plasma weapory, that is)…an emotional purging through meditation or even “facing the inner emotional self” in more extreme cases, would be sought out and a spiritual cleansing through logical discourse would be undertaken.

…Sukret however, was not on Vulcan…and he wished to be secluded from his people in this moment, regardless…such a lapse, was a private matter after all…hence the pistol and the range.

It wasn’t the most logical course of action, Sukret realized, but it just…felt…right.

He set the range up for a stationary target and placed it out at the far side of the half-way point of the range’s length…a bit far for most uses of a side-arm, especially an old EM-33 which faced degradation of the plasma projectile coherency at around that area, which the training pistol would emulate…a piece of trivia that Sukret remembered quite clearly, though he could not remember exactly from where or from whom.

The elderly Vulcan brought the sights of the EM-33 up to eye-level and found his point of aim on the far out holotarget, adjusting for particle drift, and then gently squeezing of a single shot at the target, which hit “centre mass” directly.

He fired again, this time aiming for the head area, a more difficult but more valuable target. The EM-33 trainer let out a burst of fake plasma and Sukret felt the simulated magnetic recoil of the pistol’s acceleration chamber, travel through his arms and into his shoulders.

Another direct hit on target.

The sound of the weapon discharging, the feel of the gentle recoil, the brief tensing of the muscles in the arms and shoulders…it all felt familiar to the pacifist healer…

…he could feel it, right into his chest. His already quite rapid Vulcan heart-rate quickened, the fine hairs on his skin stood up,  and his breathing started to become shallow and rapid.

He pulled the trigger again, this time in a double-tapping burst. Two flashing colours from the target indicated scoring hits on the target’s centre-mass again.

The barrel of the pistol sounded off another staccato of increasingly rapid bursts of fire, each met down the range by a matching series of colour flashes.

Sukret pulled the trigger again and again, his breath matching the increasing rapidity of the shots. His vision narrowed to a tunnel, bluring out everything but the sights and the target down range.

Another burst of fire and Sukret’s breathing became heavier and quicker…and he could feel something primal and aggressive awaken within…each pull of the trigger became tighter, until the tip of his  finger became tinged green from the coppery blood momentarially trapped from circulating by the pressure being applied the trigger.

Sukret could feel his breath seething through gritted teeth now, and as he continued with his unceasing barrage, that seething became a guttural growl. He felt trapped…not by the growing lapse in emotional control, but by something else…something he couldn’t define…just that whatever it was, it meant him ill…this phantom meant him harm…it meant her harm.

The warning lights for low energy cells started to blink on the back of the pistol’s profile, just as Sukret’s growl become a full-on yell of fear and desperate rebellion. The lights went out several rapid squeezes later as Sukret’s savage intensity reached it’s fever pitch, putting a strain on even his own elongated Vulcan lungs, as each pull of the trigger only produced an empty charge indicator. Unleashing his frustrations, Sukret wound up his arm and chucked the trainer pistol down the range like a throwing axe, with all the force and might of a man who had grown up most of his life on a high-gravity world.

It fell short of the target and tumbled across the ground, eventually skitting to a stop just past the holotarget.

As it did, Sukret felt the primal emotions subside, leaving him to regain self control and steady his breathing once more. He was glad there was no one else around to witness such a unprofessional display of violent irrationality…and that as a side benefit, the empty ranges made it easier to retrieve the thrown pistol.

It bore a small dent in the outer casing now, and the trigger seemed a little loose…but otherwise the weapon was not worse for wear.

Training models were often constructed to be more robust and withstand more punishment, for rookie recruits who had no idea what their doing. He reminded himself…though again, he couldn’t remember what he was exactly reminding himself from.

He returned to the firing line and removed the emptied power cell from the EM-33 trainer, then pulling the trigger twice more to ensure there was no residual charge in the system. Next, he checked a nearby display to see tally of his hits. 94% accuracy rating with most shots landing on either the centre mass or headshot killzones…not bad for a complete beginner who never handled any sort of energy weapon in his long life.

All treatments risk side-effects, Sukret reminded himself as he began find his centre once again. Some more expected than others, it seems…