Part of USS Sarek (Archive): Illogical Flock

Illogical Flock – 4

USS Sarek, Arboretum
February 2401
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It snuck up on him like heartburn.  In his semi-conscious state, anxious thoughts of the attack on the USS Olympic interrupted his drowsing, unbidden.  His mind’s eye evoked images of the bridge crew rallying to the pitched battle, except, in this waking dream, every one of them looked exactly like Captain Taes.  His mood began to sour before he understood the cause was the emotional state of another.  Through his Betazoid senses, he felt pinches at the edges of his consciousness like pops of static electricity.  The foul mood fully clouded over him shortly before he felt a sudden absence of sunlight on his face.

Nune opened his eyes.

Clad in swim trunks, Nune was reclined on a deck chair when he heard the heavy footfalls approaching.  He opened his eyes to find Yuulik looming large over him.  Even through his sunglasses, he was forced to squint through the glare overhead.   To Nune, the Arcadian’s visage was haloed by the holographic projection of the sun on the arboretum’s three-deck-high overhead.  At first blink, it looked like Yuulik’s head was on fire.

Yuulik frowned down at him.  There was something pitying in the crease of her eyelids.  She waved her hand in the general direction of his bare chest.

“You know you won’t get a tan that way, yes?” she asked, her voice faltering halfway through.

As if an entire paragraph could be said in a single sigh, Nune responded, “Holographic sunbathing may not fool my skin but it fools my mind.”  –He cleared his throat–  “I just returned from four weeks in a starbase psychiatric facility.  Please excuse me if my quarters are feeling a little claustrophobic.”

Crossing her arms over her chest, Yuulik took a step back.  There was something elfen about her appearance when her lips thinned into that sheepish cringe.

“You’re going to laugh,” Yuulik said brashly, “when you discover this is my way of asking for a favour.”

When Yuulik dropped onto the deck chair beside his, Nune shifted his posture into an upright position to match her.

Nune removed his sunglasses, hoping Yuulik would be able to see the sincerity in his eyes.  He further hoped his sober expression looked nothing like the haunted man he had been under the psychic influence of blood dilithium.  Nune had menaced Yuulik to the point of abuse and she had pointedly never forgiven him for his actions, even if he hadn’t been in control of his faculties at the time.  She had professed to hate him, even weeks after his recovery.

Nune said, “I never imagined I would deserve to be in your presence again, Sootrah.  Your request for a favour is most welcome.”

“I don’t know if anyone in the crew knows Taes as well as I do,” Yuulik said.  She folded her hands over one thigh and diffidently dropped her gaze into her lap.  “But you’re Betazoid.  You can know for a fact what’s preying on her mind.”

Reflexively scoffing at her request, Nune said, “I can’t profess to be the most disciplined Betazoid in Starfleet, but I would be the one preying on Taes’ mind if I excavated her conscious thoughts too closely.  I won’t do that to her.”

“In passing then,” Yuulik proposed.  She blew an exasperated breath through her lips, clearly unimpressed with a matter she viewed as mere semantics.  “Have you not noticed a change in Captain Taes since you came back?”

Nune shrugged helplessly.  “It’s only been a few days now,” he said.  “She spends more time in her ready room, I suppose, while we’re at cruising speeds.”

Yuulik stridency interjected, “And she won’t talk to me!  Why won’t Taes talk to me?”

Although Nune could feel his eyebrows raising up his forehead, he doubted Yuulik had the emotional intelligence to read such cues.  

So he asked, “What do you think she’s thinking?”

Huffing at him, Nune could feel Yuulik’s frustration at being asked to take the slow path.  After a couple of huffs, she began counting off her points with raised fingers.

“Observation one: even when I stole team data for my private research a year ago, Taes joined me in the rain on New Tenar, for hours, to examine a box of bones,” Yuulik said impassively.  “Observation two: when I publicly questioned the hubris of her plan to feed the entire Kunrhi system with weeds, we stayed up all night repeatedly, designing the farms together.  Observation three: after I tried to augment myself in the Delta Quadrant, Taes wouldn’t give me one moment’s privacy in Sickbay.  All she could talk about was ways to promote me, while testing my methods for destroying blood dilithium.”

Yuulik huffed again.  “My hypothesis?  I’m Captain Taes’ mentor, but she has given up on living up to my quality of brilliance.”

Nune was left speechless.

“Leander, I need to know,” Yuulik said to him, “Why has Taes given up on me?”

Nune shook his head at her.  It was a small movement.  He didn’t want to meet the intensity of her mood.

“I can’t hand you the answer to a question like that, even if I knew,” Nune remarked.  He balled his hand into a fist and he beat it against his abdomen twice.  “You have to feel it.  You have to find it for yourself.”

Distraught, Yuulik asked, “Are you saying you do know and you’re not going to tell me?  Bitch, you owe me.  You say you were intoxicated on blood dilithium, but you’re the one who hit me.  You did.  You owe me!”

Remaining still, Nune took a deep breath.  He looked at Yuulik, really looked at her, when he said, “I can see how much Taes means to you, Sootrah.  I wish I could tell you what has changed since I’ve been gone, but what has changed is that Taes’ mind is completely closed to me now.”