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Catching up

Posted on 27 Jun 2023 @ 11:51am by Lieutenant Commander Harva Taliborn & Lieutenant Commander Cintia Sha'mer

1,111 words; about a 6 minute read

Mission: Deus ex Machina

"Hey, Commander," resounded the Sirran's resonating voice. "Got a minute to talk some?"

Sha'mer looked up from the PADD she'd been working on. She had been halfway through her dinner when she got the idea for a new simulation she wanted to run and was now working out the parameters for it. Once everything was back up and running, this would be a nice workout for the gamma shift tactical team.

"Of course," she said, smiling as she looked up (and up) at Harva. With him standing and her sitting, the height difference was even larger than it already was. She gestured at the free chair on the other side of the table. "Want to sit down?"

"Yeah, sure, I reckon I can spare a moment for a sitdown," he rumbled after a moment's consideration. The chair was slightly less positive about the whole idea, as evidenced by the creaking and groaning as all six hundred plus pounds of him sat down, but it held. "Just wanted to check up on you, see how you're doing, and to thank you for - kicking that thing outta my skull, back there."

"You're welcome. I'm glad I was able to do it." She sometimes shivered when she thought about the others, the people they'd encountered on the base who had been taken over earlier, their own minds, thoughts, dreams, their entire personalities wiped out by that alien artefact. "How have you been holding up?"

"Honestly?" he flicked an ear. "Struggling. Just a little bit. I remember everything. That feeling of - that cold, calculating will, seeing you, judging you as the big threat and lashing out," His ears wilted a bit as he furrowed his brows. "If you hadn't been able to stop me, I - "

"But I did," Sha'mer interposed, gently but at the same time firm. "Dwelling on it is much like wondering why someone gets shot and dies, and the person walking next to it continues and is fine." Like that situation in the cargo bay when those tentacle things attacked. "I was there and could help. It's not exactly part of my job description, but…" she shrugged. "I suppose it feels more personal than the difference of getting shot or not, though," she added in a softer tone.

"It does. Because it was my hands that - " he held up a massive, strong hand, flexing it, claws visible, before lowering it again. "But that is something for the ship's counselor to pick apart, I suppose," A soft, rumbling chuckle. "What was your - ... impression, of that thing? The people it had taken over, and when it spoke to us?"

"Your hands were remote controlled, at that time. Like you would control a worker bee or any other machinery. The difference is that your worker bee isn't sentient and has no mind of its own which has to be subjugated or controlled." Sha'mer looked up at Harva again, her dark eyes flashed. "As for that artifact… it could have made contact at any moment. Maybe it would've needed to take one person over in order to communicate, and it could have accidentally taken over that person. That could've been an accident. Anything beyond that has been a choice. Every person it took over. Every person it attacked. Everyone it killed. Everything it destroyed. Only when it's very existence was threatened did it try to communicate." She shook her head. "No."

"Well, you're not wrong," he answered with a faint smile. "How did you - " he gestured a bit with his hands, unsure of how to describe the event. "How did you yeet it, anyways?"

"Um." Bright stars, how to describe it? She could see it perfectly, the shimmer of the other's presence overlaying Harva's mind, working its way in, her own concentrated power, and the push.

Push, that was the keyword she was looking for. She remembered another meeting with Harva, a gym in the middle of the night – and just like that she had, well, at least a description. "It's kind of like that punching bag I pushed with my mind. Only with the alien influence as bag, and I kind of pushed it out. You were still there, and as soon as it was gone you could come back."

He flicked his ear again. "That really doesn't help me understand better," A shrug. "Maybe it's just something I'm not supposed to understand. It happens. Thanks again, anyways. Though it makes me wonder, those poor sods it had under its control, was any of them still inside there? Could they still see and hear everything, as well? Could they have been brought back?"

Sha'mer thought for a few moments. "I might be able to show you something, a kind of graphical representation, but you'd have to give me some time to make it. As for the others…" She shook her head. "No. They were gone. If there had been anything left inside, I might've tried… But they weren't." She wanted to add 'I'm sorry', but sorry for what? That there had been nothing she could've done? That the artefact had killed those people, that what had walked around and did things and spoke had been just an extension of the artefact itself, nothing remained of the people themselves? So she sighed and said nothing.

"Well, rest in peace, them," Harva sighed, shoulders slumping a bit. Then a shudder, fully understanding the fate he had managed to avoid, this time. But for now back to happier things. "Yeah, sure, I'd like to see what you can come up with. If you need anything material or the computer, let me know and I'll set you aside whatever you need."

It didn't require any telepathy at all to know which direction his thoughts had taken. "I think you would've been fine even without me," Sha'mer said, leaning forward to touch his hand. "The presence would've left you the moment we destroyed it. And we would have. Might've taken a little longer to rig up something, but we would have done it. And it might have left you with a killer headache for a few days, but you would have been alright. Those people had been under its hold for weeks, not hours. There was nothing left. You were still fighting, and would've continued to do so."

"Yeah, well~" he steeled himself, rising up to his feet again, much to the chair's delight. "I'm glad we didn't have to find out. I'll leave you to your work, Commander."

"So am I. I'll let you know when I have something finished, shouldn't take me too long. Take care, alright?" She smiled up at him.


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