Part of USS Alita: Liberating Sevury and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Respite

Various - USS Alita
MD01
0 likes 443 views

Vlex walked from the conference room without another word. She avoided eye contact, hiding her gaze behind her long bangs as she made her way down the hallway. She had one goal, and only one goal and that was her quarters. She’d lied to her CO. She was tired, yes, but it was so much more than that. Her Betazed empathic abilities were being overloaded. 

She stepped through the doors of her quarters and let them slide shut before she fell back against it and buried her face in her hands, “No, no no… NO…” She squawked. Betazeds felt things stronger than most, feeling the emotion and intention of those around them, and Terani was no different. She lacked, however, the ability to easily cut off from the emotion as many of her peers could, especially when it was the deep dark emotions. 

The word “Dominion” had fallen into the rumor mill and the ship was rife with fear and trepidation that had been threatening Terani’s resolve. 

She stumbled over to her bed and sat on it, pulling her blanket tightly around her and trying to focus. She’d gotten into racing because of this. When she focused on the race, everything else was faded away and she could find piece. But when there was no other focus, it was difficult. 

There was someone aboard that was so buried in a deep, penetrating darkness that Terani couldn’t pull her consciousness away from it, like a tragedy unfolding before your eyes. But these wounds were old and so deep. The recent news had set them aflame again and the feelings we’re burning in Terani’s brain.

Someone was suffering, so deeply. 


Maggie’s legs were trembling as she walked to her quarters, but she hid it well. After all, she’d learned to do that well so many years ago now. She refused to lose herself to this again. She refused. They wouldn’t understand. She had fought so hard to find her peace and her heart again after the War. They wouldn’t recognize her the way she was before. 

But they’d said it. Straight from the CO: The Dominion was back. 

Stepping into her dark quarters sent her heart rate up, and she said “Lights, full.” As calmly as she could before the doors slid shut behind her. The Dominion weren’t just nameless boogey men to her. The Jem’hadar weren’t just legendary warriors. They were captors, they were beasts, they were nightmares. 

She stood at the doorway for a long moment, scanning the walls for any hint of movement, any flicker of bent light that might betray a Jem’hadar skulking around her quarters. Her logical mind told her that she was being silly and that of course she was in no danger aboard the Alita, but the louder part of her mind, the part of her that was still fighting the grasp of PTSD, told her she damn well better make sure. 

She still remembered the start of it. When her life change. When she lost herself. 

Maggie was serving aboard the USS Bali when it had been destroyed during the Dominion War. The ship had been disabled by the Jem’hadar, who had quickly boarded and began taking hostages for intel and negotiation. Maggie had been unlucky enough to have been in a corridor where a plasma conduit blew during the initial boarding. Caught in the blast, she found herself mangled and caught be ship debris and was counting down the seconds to her death. 

She still remembered the corridor… A1138, Junction 5, section C. Plasma Conduit A14 had blown. The most useless information, but it was forever etched in her mind. She could still hear the hissing of the ruptured airline, the drip drip drip of bleeding out on the deck. She could almost feel the press of the support beam on her back, blocking out her breath. 

Then she saw them… The Jem’hadar were walking down the hallway dragging a young Ensign. 

Maggie’s eyes flicked to the side as she tried to remember… what was her name? She could see her face so clearly, but her name escaped her. That sent a pang of guilt through her heart. She could see her face… She’d never forget her face. 

The young girl had seen Maggie and cried out in desperation for help. Maggie’s training kicked in and she snatched her phaser from her belt, barely able to get a grip on it around the rubble, and brought it to bear. The Jem’hadar were already turning back to face her and raising their weapons. She was raising it to kill the first of the boarding party, but time seemed to slow as it all registered in her brain. 

She could never kill them all in time. They’d shoot her before she could kill them all. 

To this day, after extensive therapy, she couldn’t remember making the decision consciously, or even the movement that brought her phaser to bear on the Ensign. She just remembered her face. In that last moment as she realized that Maggie was about to take her life. She’d never forget her face. She’d never forget the gasp. Never forget the stifled scream that ended abruptly as Maggie’s shot rang true and she was disintegrated in their hands. 

She vaguely remembered the feel of the phaser’s emitter on her temple as she tried to prevent her own capture, but the Jem’hadar were too fast, and they dragged her from the wreckage and took her instead. 

That was the start of her personal hell. For the next six months she was at the mercy of the Jem’hadar, and they had no mercy at all. Some of the scars she received from her mistreatment at their hands couldn’t be removed even after multiple dermal regenerative treatments, and the scars they left on her mind she didn’t think would ever heal. 

She remembered vaguely the pain of dislocating her thumb to get out of the shackles they kept her in. She could still smell the dank, moldy aroma of the prison block she was thrown every night. She’s torn a short piece of metal off of her bunk – or the slab of metal that was supposed to be a bunk – and laid in wait by the door for the Jem’hadar to return to torture her more, and then she struck. 

She remembered very little of her escape. She remembered opening all of the prison doors on the way out. She remembered that she didn’t escape alone. She remembered killing Jem’hadar. Three with her makeshift blade, before she found one of their weapons, and the rest suffered a fate at the hands of their own technology. And she – a doctor, who’d sworn to do no harm, who’d pushed for fair treatment of Jem’hadar prisoners, who’d insisted that the Federation must never lose their humanity – savored every kill. Each one fueled her rage until, by the end of it, she was barely even aware of where she was. 

Months of rehab and therapy followed. She tried to find her footing, but she struggled. It had been almost a quarter of a decade since then and even now she wasn’t sure she had her footing fully. 

Although tonight, she was acutely aware that she did not. She could still feel the gun in her hands, that Jem’hadar phase rifle. Her eyes flicked to the medium sized lock box sitting below her desk, tucked away out of sight. She stared at it for a long moment, but then abrupted moved over to it. 

She tapped in the clearance code and pulled the lid free, revealing the Jem’hadar rifle she’d stolen. Maggie pulled it from the box and looked it over. The weight was familiar in her hands, each scratch on the casing teased a dark memory in her mind. She wasn’t supposed to have kept it, but she needed something to remember it was real, and by the time she’d gotten away, the rifle was all she had. The rescue teams said she’d clutched it like a teddy bear all the way back to safety. 

She tapped the prime and listed to the power cell power up with a high pitched whine, and fought the darkness as the corners of her vision. 

She gripped the weapon with white knuckles and stared at the cold, metal casing. She found herself choking back tears, but she let out a huff and cleared her throat, then slid the phaser under her arm and walked over to her bed and lied down on top of the blankets. She slid back until her back was against the wall and clutched the gun like a lifeline and stared, looking for the movement of invisible killers in her room. 

It was going to be a long mission. 


Terani shuffled in her bed, pulling her blanket tighter. The terror had dimmed, faded to a cold fear that she could pull herself away from. She needed a better focus, something calm, something… She found an uncertain mind. Anxiety, nervousness, doubt. No fear, though. Confidence, but shaken. 

She tried to focus on that for a moment, another buoy in the emotional seascape of the ship. She closed her eyes tightly and swam through it, looking at every nuance and letting it pull her further from the dark. This she could at least navigate and find her way out of. 


Tiffany wandered through her quarters, quietly pondering the mission at hand, trying to find holes in the plans, trying to account for everything. The cup of tea in her hand had gone cold a while ago, but she hadn’t noticed. Her mind was spinning and she felt disconnected from everything. This was the most harrowing mission she’d been assigned and she wasn’t nearly as confident that all of her people would make it home as she’d made it seem in the meeting. 

She sighed heavily after a while and sat her cup down on the table, rubbing the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger for a moment. 

“Computer… open a channel to two-eight-alpha-nine-six-one,” She called. 

The open channel screen appeared on her holocommunicator on her desk and she sat down in front of it, adjusting her nightshirt so she at least looked somewhat presentable. 

A moment later a concerned older woman – with a very familiar shade of red hair – appeared on the screen. “Tiffany?” The woman said, sounding a bit worried. 

“Hi, mom,” Tiffany replied with a smile. “I’m sorry, I know it’s late.”

“No, no, honey, it’s fine! Are you okay?” Her mother asked, putting on her glasses and wrapping her robe tighter around herself as she took a seat at the communicator. 

“Yeah I just…” Tiffany trailed off for a minute and looked a bit distant before fixing her expression and smiling more warmly, “It’s just one of those nights where I need my mom. That’s all,” She admitted. “I know you have to get up early though, so I won’t keep you long.”

“No no, actually I took the day off tomorrow, so you picked a good night to wake me up,” The other woman replied with a warm smile. Tiffany wasn’t sure if that was the truth or a lie, but honestly… right now she didn’t care. 

“I’m having a rough day,” She said to her mother. 

“Just a normal rough day? Or Starfleet orders that we can’t talk about because it’s classified and dangerous rough day?” Her mother asked, knowing well what Tiffany’s job entailed. 

“Option two,” Tiff replied with a wry chuckle. 

“I see,” Her mother replied, looking over her daughter’s face intently, her smile fading a bit as her expression grew more serious. “Is this a… Might not be seeing you again call?” She asked, her voice sounding strong but with a hint of concern. 

“I don’t think so,” Tiffany replied. “I’m just… I’m worried. About my people. About what’s happening. About… everything,” She admitted. 

“What’s happening, hon– No, nevermind. You can’t tell me. Forget I asked,” Her mother replied, raising a hand and laughing a bit. 

“I just need my mom, that’s all,” Tiffany repeated, her voice tight. 

There was something in Tiffany’s tone, a note of desperation, when she said that. Her mother regarded her for a long moment, appraising the strong young woman before her on the comm screen, and her smile broadened, “Your father used to say when you were little, ‘It never matters how much trouble that little girl and her friends get into, she always finds a way out,’” She told her. “And he meant every word of that, Tiffany. Every word. If there is one person in the galaxy that will see whatever you have in front of you through, it’s you. You are strong, you are capable, and you are wise, and those people who are trusting you have their faith in exactly the right place,” She said. 

Tiffany sat quiet looking down at her hands in her lap. 

“Right now, you need to rest. You need to trust your people, like they trust you,” Her mother responded. “You’re going to do fine, and everything will work out okay,” She said, as if there wasn’t a doubt in the universe. 

Tiffany was quiet for a long moment before she spoke again, “Can we talk for a bit? I know it’s late.” 

Her mother smiled, “You know we can.” 

Tiffany got comfortable in her chair and smiled gently at her mother, “How’s dad? Did he ever got those Vulcan Hydrangeas blooming?” She asked. 

“Oh don’t get me started on those hydrangeas!” Her mother exclaimed with a laugh. 

Tiffany sunk down in her chair, just listening to her mother delve into the story, trying to find a little bit of hope in the darkness. 


Hope… Contentment, but still fear. Still anxiety. Terani searched for something better, some last stepping stone to find her way back to safety, back to the light. 

Finally, she caught a hint of love. Not passionate love, but maternal love. Family love. She tried to relax her shoulders and focus on that…


Melody sat on the couch in her quarters, snuggled under blankets with her daughter, Samantha, watching an old earth movie about lions and meerkats. Her daughter giggled as they watched the cartoon animals eat bugs and sing songs. Samantha never failed to her mother so much hope, even in the darkest nights. She felt her husband’s loss that much more on the even of dangerous missions, but something about Samantha made it… just a bit better. 

“Did you enjoy dinner?” Melody asked, giving her little girl a squeeze. 

“Yeah! Pizza!” Samantha exclaimed happily. “It’s my favorite. I love it!” She said. 

“I know,” Melody replied with a chuckle. “And you know what else is good?” 

“What, mommy?” Samantha looked up at her mother like she was some sort of goddess, promising the secrets of the universe. 

“Rocky road ice cream with rainbow sprinkles!” Melody exclaimed, playfully scratching at her daughters stomach and eliciting a high pitched squeal from the little girl as they both laughed together. 

Melody got up and walked over to the replicator and placed the order for the ice cream.

“Mommy?” She heard from behind her, quiet and thoughtful. 

“Yes, baby?” She called back over her shoulder. 

“Are you worried you’re gonna die?” The little girl asked, sincerely. 

Melody’s heart pricked at that. Her daughter was so young, but so perceptive some days. It made her proud, but frustrated her that she couldn’t as easily hide the real pain of the world from her daughter anymore. She  picked up the two bowls of ice cream and turned back to her daughter, walking over with the treat, “Why do you ask that, baby?” 

“Because we have special nights when you think you might die,” Samantha replied with all the innocence of a small child, looking up at her mother with big eyes. 

Melody never lied to her daughter and she didn’t intend to start now. She could only imagine the fear she must have after losing her father so early in her life. The thought of losing Melody too must have been staggering, “I’m about to go on a dangerous mission, yes,” She said. “And even though I’m not afraid I’m going to die, I always want to make sure that if anything ever happens to me, the last memory you have with me is a good and happy one,” She explained.

“But I have no intention of dying,” She said, smiling, and poking her daughter on the nose as she handed her her ice cream, “Because I have a beautiful little girl that I have to watch grow up,” She explained, in a matter-of-fact tone. “And I very much intend to do that.” 

And you’re a super hero,” Samatha replied, giggling excitedly. 

“AND I’m a super hero!” Melody replied, tickling her daughter and laughing with her, barely catching the ice cream before she dropped it, “Careful, little one!” She said, laughing happily. 

They snuggled back together and Melody kissed the top of her head as they dug into their ice cream, “Everything is going to be just fine, kiddo.” 

“I know, mommy.” 

There was something in that ‘I know’ that set Melody’s heart to rest. That was it. Samantha knew everything was going to be fine, and so was. Melody snuggled in closer to her daughter and smiled. Everything was going to be just fine. 


Terani’s entire body relaxed, the wave of peace and love and happiness flowing into her from whoever it was. She finally felt the last shackles of fear and anxiety fall away from her mind and her heart rate returned to normal. It was like being buried in a warm burrow, safe from everything. 

She sighed heavily, letting the last of the tension in her shoulders go and wrapping her blanket around her tighter. Maybe now, sleep could come. Next time the fear rose, she’d have a ships controls under her hands, and that would keep it at bay.

Comments

  • This is perfection. Tense, taught, and filled with emotions that threaten to overwhelm....but they hold back just enough as a reader that you want to read on. I love the "Just need my mom" dialogue, but this entire story is fantastically paced and written, with each unique character having their moment to experience the reality of this FA and the Dominion. Damn fine job!!!

    May 9, 2023
  • This is… powerful. I like how you wove the telepathic link in between the scenes to bring them all together, showing different aspects of the crew’s reaction to the news and what they will be facing, from despair, through support, and then to love. Well done! Looking forward to reading more!

    May 10, 2023
  • Wow. What a powerful way to explore the feelings of the female members of the crew, I wonder how you are going to top this by exploring the gentlemen on your crew? Using Terani as a vessel to make those links between the characters was a fabulous choice. This perfectly shows the range of emotions on display in that 'calm before the storm' phase of the war. I do worry about Terani, though. Poor girl. She's not a counsellor, but I sense she may be emotionally supporting her crew before long. But my true love, Tiffany. She needs a shoulder and where does she turn? To that one person who forgives everything and is always there for us. A mother's love is like no other, and I sense a catharsis for Tiffany as she talks things through. She needed that. Before long, they'll all be calling her mother! Well done.

    May 14, 2023
  • This is a very definition of a rollercoaster experience in emotions. Seeing it from different experience, perspective and the strong bonds that are forged over years. The reality check of what is coming at this. A very strong post, very well put, love it!

    May 17, 2023