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Jl | Cmdr Valeese & Lt. Merlin | ...

Posted on Wed Aug 22nd, 2018 @ 4:31pm by Lieutenant Commander Evan Merlin & Commander Valeese

Mission: Lacuna
Location: USS Vindicator, Sickbay
Timeline: SD 241808.22

When the Starfleet Intel ship was due to arrive, the Lieutenant waited. Of course, they wouldn't do something as simple as docking. They most likely wouldn't use a transporter room, either. Being XO had some advantages, though, so he ordered the computer to notify him the moment LtCmdr Stacker and Cmdr Valeese arrived on the station.

Once the notification was in, he waited until the computer told him that the Chief Medical Officer was in a public space – one of the corridors, or Sick Bay. And when the computer did, he popped over himself.

Being the patient was a certifiable pain in the ass when one was used to being to doctor. So far so many had insisted that she have her slow healing bruises and scrapes and random bits and bobs of injuries treated... A lot. No one wanted to believe her when she firmly stated that Vorta physiology and biology simply refused to play by conventional rules and accelerated healing really just meant a few days shaved off. Some of the Founder's tweaking of their genetics hadn't left the building - resistance to toxins and modern medicine just happened to be one of them. Why? Because it was faster to toss a new clone out than it was to heal the injured or waste time on a "defective" product. The thought left her muttering in distaste as she finished recycling another set of instruments and implements. Thankfully they weren't exactly going to waste, but her time... That was unable to be replicated back into existence.

With that burning on her mind, the appearance of the station's XO was startling to say the least. The little Vorta jumped back seemingly while still turning from the replicator to leave her office once she caught sight of the tall, unexpected visitor. "Lieutenant Merlin!" She exclaimed, jamming her hands into her pockets, "I wasn't... You... Well..." She stammered for a second before taking a collecting, soothing breath, "I'm sorry. I just wasn't expecting to see you there." The last time someone had seemingly materialized from the shadows, she'd been in for one hell of a ride.

The Lieutenant was startled as well, looking around first in bewilderment, then with a frown. "Wh- Stupid computer, I swear it's trying to play a trick on me! I'm sure I told it *outside* sick bay, not smack in the middle of it! I'm sorry, Commander, I didn't mean to startle you." He used one hand to brush some curls back, then held out what he was holding in the other. As if the smell hadn't betrayed them already, he now displayed the flowers he brought. "Welcome back to ," he said with that all-out smile of his.

"No harm, no foul." Her smile was pleasant enough as she recognized the gesture and the intentions of the man behind the flowers. Taking them from him, Valeese was more or less put at ease by the gentle scent of freesia. Purple, white, orange, sprays of greens... The color and aroma combination was absolutely divine and curried forth a smile of her own. He'd always been kind to her... Rescued her from the Bajoran, she had no reason not to trust him, "Thank you. I have to admit that I wasn't expecting a warm reception at all." She drawled wryly, running her thumb across a leaf. Banned from work beyond medical necessity, it would be fruitless to leave the flowers behind in her office. Home they'd go. "I can honestly say that I'm touched."

"You're welcome and more than welcome." Now that he had handed the flowers over, he could take a proper look at her. He frowned at what he saw. Of course he had known what Valeese and Si'a had to endure most likely wouldn't have been a picnic, but the visual damage was shocking. No doubt, the invisible bits would be equally bad. "Having a Vorta physionomy sucks, doesn't it?"

An ear flicked in his direction, trying to be sure of just what it had heard while the rest of her still admired the flowers, "Actually yes, in situations like this it certainly does," she blinked several times, her brow furrowing, before she tilted her head to really look at him, "So very few people really get that, though." Was there suspicion? Of course there was suspicion. She was naturally curious and inclined to be suspect of just about everyone and everything. A comment like that only served to pique both. Valeese could see him picking apart the bruises and scabbing left over from what had been a nasty split lip. Without looking in the mirror, she couldn't be certain whether or not the dark circles around her eyes had disappeared or if her color had become less corpse like since she'd returned - but she was certain that the weight she'd lost would take some time to reappear. Si'a had been lucky. A prized possession. For that she could heave a heavy sigh of relief, and often did.

"I wonder if that means your people are distant kin to Admiral Sha'mers people," the Lieutenant mused aloud, either not noticing Valeese's frown or just ignoring it. "They appear to have a similar problem." As Valeese would know – she had met Sha'mer before and even knew she was an Admiral, something the Lieutenant hadn't known at the time. "Anyway," he said, waving the thought away with his customary gesture, "It's good to have you home." It may be an odd kind of home, but there were a few people who cared about her here – and at least one, the Lieutenant thought, who cared deeply.

"They say there's a common ancestor somewhere. I wouldn't doubt it and lord only knows what the Founders tweaked when they decided to play mad scientist on an entire race of people." She mused, leaving the thought up in the air for a moment, "Several races, really." Valeese's nose twitched slightly, giving away her abhorrent distaste for the process and the thought. The damage had been done, and some would say it was irreparable. People like the Lieutenant - and the Commander she'd had to leave back in her bed that morning - gave her hope that someday there would be some semblance of 'normalcy' other than all out hatred, "Thank you... Seriously. It means a lot."

"You deserve no less. And considerably more." The Lieutenant hopped on an empty desk and smiled, a gentler expression than his usual, somewhat manic grin. "The Empress was extremely worried about you both," he said a bit softer.

Choosing not to reply to what it was he thought she deserved, the little Vorta simply allowed her smile to bloom a bit more in a display of contented gratitude, "I have no doubt. The Empress comes across as a rather compassionate being. Lieutenant Dai'xun's safe return was probably a great relief." Ah yes... More suspicion. With as astute as the man was it was hard to keep things from him, but her secrets needed to guard themselves. Then again, she was well aware of the secrets he himself needed to keep hidden behind his fine display of smoke and mirrors. The question was - just how much did the Empress confide in him?

The Lieutenant acknowledged her remark with a slight nod. "It was indeed. And your return as well. You are a citizen of the Ascendancy, after all, and as such, she feels responsible for you." He reached inside his mind and briefly touched the bond he shared with Xue. She hadn't been gone for long and already he missed her. Amost of its own volition, one of his glass balls appeared and began its eerie dance across his hand and wrist. He noticed it, coughed, and the ball disappeared. "Anyway," he said, hopping down. "I'll leave you to settle in again. If there's anything you need, just let me know. I'm only a comm call away."

As he walked past her he said, so quietly that the computer would never be able to catch it, but knowing that her sensitive ears would, "She told."

Ice.

There was ice in her veins as she stood there watching the shadows and light play upon the region the strange curly headed man had recently vacated. She couldn't quite formulate words, but knew she didn't have to even as her radar-like ears twitched in concern, trying to home in on any fleeting bits of speech they may have managed to miss.

That made two that knew her hidden agenda, one of them being the station's Executive Officer, the other being the station's resident Ghost. Neither, luckily, seemed to be bent on destroying or outing her - likely given that her employ by the Empress was designed specifically around keeping the two titans of the galaxy out of war... Specifically. It didn't stop her from feeling burned - even if it meant the two were rather beholden to the same sort of secrets. She knew about him, he knew about her. Forever they were locked in a rather intricate and intrinsic waltz.

A nap. Breaking from the surprise, she was quick to decide that departure from sickbay in search of a nap was the smartest course of action to take. Talking to Merlin in private would come later.

He had seen the question flash in her eyes, that brief moment of 'Had Xue told him or not?' It wouldn't have been fair to leave her wondering. He knew, and now she knew he knew. Maybe telling her that wasn't a smart decision, but to his mind, it was the only fair one. There were too many secrets already on this station, and while many of them were undoubtably better off for being kept, he felt strongly that this wasn't one of them.

As the door slid close behind him, the Lieutenant muttered to himself: "Remind me to have another look at the station AI's learning curve." He didn't want to have any more transporter surprises if he could help it.

Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170

Lieutenant Evan Merlin
Executive Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170

 

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