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Cmdrs Valeese & Merlin |

Posted on Thu Oct 17th, 2019 @ 5:34pm by Commander Valeese & Commander Evan Merlin

Mission: Dust Stirring

More nighttime wanderings. Again there was too much on his mind for any rest, but now it had little to do with crew interactions, Xue's situation or the mysteries of his own origins. No, just when he had been thinking about how lucky he was that there hadn't been any real crises on the station, something had happened.

Just a barroom brawl? Just an accident? Or was there more to it? It seemed a clear-cut case. Barroom brawls did happen, though rarely – usually when some visitors had decided to consume some alcohol prior to coming to the station and continued their journey to a drunken stupor once the'd come on board. Then one wrong word could cause volatile tempers to rise, words lead to blows and before long there was a whole mass of people who'd joined the free-for-all. It usually ended with two or three people in sick bay with a bunch of bruises and sprains, maybe even a broken bone or two, and the rest packed up in the holding cells until they'd sobered up.

This time, though, it had ended with one man in the morgue. And there was something… He couldn't put a finger on it. Just a feeling, just his intuition chiming in that something smelled here. He'd run it by Stacker tomorrow, see if he had the same thought. At the very least, his former department could find out more about the unfortunate victim.

He was deep in his musings when he passed the spot which he'd began to call, strictly to himself, 'Commander Valeese's reading nook'. Occasionally he found her there. Sometimes he stuck around for a conversation, sometimes they just nodded at each other before she continued with her book and he with his stroll.

This time she was there.

The sound of foot steps echoing against the bulkheads rang clarion in the Vorta's hypersensitive fan-shaped ears. They twitched, quirking and pivoting subtly at their base to home in on the origin of the sound and the exact location it came from. Next clue was the sound of a bizarre heart rhythm that could belong only to Klingons or one singular being she didn't quite have a species name for. The lack of dragging toe or gait grievance caused by injury or alcohol whispered the rest of the tale and, without looking up from a new to her copy of Don Quixote, Valeese knew exactly who it was that had come to pay a visit.

"When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?" She quoted the passage, her lips quirking in a shy, sly little smile. If ever there was an answer to madness and lunacy, Evan Merlin would surely have it. The man seemed to be born of it, and a little sprinkling of mystery, and there was never any doubt of that in her mind. Of course, she herself seemed governed by the same tugging strings of crazy; a Vorta, naturally a pariah by Federation citizen standards, sent to 'keep tabs' on the Federation by a potentially savage enemy, fell mutually in love with one of Starfleet's prized intel officers - a former Marine no less - and now grew within her the undeniable evidence of just such a controversial tryst. The smile grew with a delicate little snort.

"Ah, but one man's sanity is just another man's madness, from his point of view," he replied. The gravity which was part and parcel of his new position did nothing to diminish the wattage of his grin, and his eyes twinkled as brightly as ever. Lee's words had, for the time being, disspelled his mood. "So who can say where true madness lies, indeed." The Admiral made me CO of Cold Station Theta. If that's not madness, I don't know what it is.

"Indeed." The Vorta nodded, slipping a book mark in to hold her place as she closed to book and sat it beside her, "If you've come for insight on the Empress, I have little to offer. She, and the Ascendancy as a whole, mourn. I think that's relatively obvious, though." She shrugged gently, "Times are changing, that much is also certain."

"Hmm?" He blinked slightly at the change of subject. "Oh, no. I mean, that is clear. Right now, the last thing she needs is more distraction. I was just, ah, musing a bit. I guess I just wandered towards this section while I was thinking. Feet walking without any direct input from above, so to say. I hope I'm not bothering you?"

"Not at the moment, no." Valeese offered the recently risen CO a pretty smile a quick bat of her lashes. A leg swung over its partner and she soon found herself resting the book in her lap, her elbows upon it, and her chin in her hands as she watched him, "Being distracted isn't going to help anyone, least of course yourself given the um... Nature of the beast." a couple fingers lifted from her chin to churn the air around her face, eluding to the station - and the untamed space around it - as a whole.

"Beasts… yes." That remark immediately recalled what he'd been thinking about before he noticed Valeese. Had it really been an accident which had killed the Nausicaan? Or had it been something worse – murder? Had someone engineered the brawl to make it seem like an accident? That would be a beastly act, indeed. "Believe me, I'm not distracted. Much as I wonder how the Empress is doing," and her child, their child… which was a whole other chain of thought, but one which would have to wait. "Whatever is happening, it's not happening here, and therefore beyond any influence I have. If there is news, I might get it, or I might not." A small sigh escaped at that idea. "Either way, there is not much I can do about that. What's happening here, on the station, on the other hand… That's something I do need to focus on." And worry about.

With a nod, the Vorta seemed to agree with his entire line of thought and sat quietly mulling it over - genuinely trying to sort out the least conspicuous of ways to pass information along. As pressed for time as the strange man was, he was still a man and still concerned with the well-being of his lover and unborn child, much in the way she imagined Stacker was during her medical tour of duty. A hand brushed over her own swollen belly and she sighed ever so softly, canting her head to one side and studying him, "There is rumor within the medical community that she may return to Theta to give birth. The Stenellis as a society are nervous about this birth, they don't know enough about the father to feel adequate and I suppose the general consensus is that we may know more."

Smooth as honey, and just as warm, she offered him a small smile that slowly began to fade as her attention readily shifted to the death on the promenade, "As far as your other... Troubles... I'm afraid that I can't be of much help. I tend to avoid the Promenade as a whole. It hasn't exactly been kind to me."

The sort of smile he returned was more of a smirk. "I know." He had been there, and it hadn't been a barroom brawl turned bad. That one had been an actual riot, aimed at one person only – the station's resident Vorta. "Maybe the autopsy will shed some light on the situation." Yes, he could do with more light.

Valeese's nose wrinkled at the thought, "Ah yes... The autopsy," she sighed heavily and reached to tuck an errant raven curl back behind one of her fan-like ears, "I'll see to it that you receive a thorough report. Has the body been released by next of kin or are there none to be found? I'd hate to trip over some cultural aspect and perform an autopsy that might be against religious preferences or something."

"Thus far, we have very little to go on." He leaned against the wall, his hands sketched in the air as he talked. "His name is Janoger, he's been on the station slightly over a week. Arrived here, as far as we can tell, in a freighter which hung around here for two days, then left. No family or friends on the station as far as we can tell. He was the only person to leave the ship. Other than that, we're still digging. So I'd say to hold on to the body until we know more – hopefully that'll be by tomorrow."

The Vorta nodded, shifting her weight ever so slightly. Mental notes were made, thoughts and schedules updated to reflect everything that she now knew about the cadaver down in her sickbay - which, as the Skipper had previously mentioned, was next to well... Nothing. Nothing at all. Just a name. Just a ship. Just a lonely record of otherwise monotony. "Odd he was the only one that disembarked. I'm not the best with piecing that sort of thing together, admittedly, but if I had to take a wild guess as to where to start..." Her thoughts trailed off, not needing to be finished, "Anyway, I'll keep the body in stasis until you give me the green light to go ahead. Should preserve any evidence not seen by the naked eye."

He ran a hand through his wild curls and nodded. "That's good, thank you. I want this whole situation resolved and behind us as soon as possible." He waved one hand through the air as if he could physically brush the situation away. If only it were that simple. "So… how are you holding up? The last weeks can't have been easy for you." Weeks? Make that months. The kidnapping, her pregnancy… Thinking of which, there appeared to be a lot of that going around, or was it just because Valeese had brought up Xue? The thought that she might be coming to the station was frightening and exhilarating at once – exhilerating because he'd get to see her again, yay! But frightening because he had absolutely no experience with people giving birth, let alone in how to behave as father-to-be. And what about Stenellis customs? Would they even allow fathers to be present-

He dragged his thoughts back to the here and now. Pregnant people. Xue. The young Stenellis who had arrived earlier today… Early morning? Time was beginning to blur a bit. And of course Valeese herself.

"They've been... Interesting. We'll go with interesting." Valeese's response came by way of a light laugh and the shake of her head. If she buried down and allowed herself to really think about it, she'd likely have screamed and asked why she was insane enough to prolong such craziness - but of course that wasn't something she was going to resign herself to, especially when the good now outweighed the bad by quite a bit. Of course, had she known where Merlin's mind had wandered, she'd likely have had the discussion with him of how she personally knew that there were no less than 3 babies born a week on average right there on the station. Some were crew. Some were civilians. Some were passing travelers who didn't quite time things right. Life was happening and being created all around them. His reaction, no less, would have made her laugh.

No such conversation occurred.

"Everything will sort itself out and be as it should be, Commander, that's just how these things work." She shrugged, choosing to believe his far away look had something to do with the insanity on the promenade, "Unfortunately we have a lot of species on this station and not all of them get along with one another. Leaves us to have to clean up the mess and reminds some of us that the promenade isn't the nicest place to be. That's all there is to it."

Something dark flashed in his eyes, not unlike a sudden cold stream in a warm sea near the beach. "It should be, though," he muttered, in a voice so low that few but a Vorta would've been able to make out the words. "In all the universe, there should be one place where it's safe for everyone, where people of all shapes and sizes can go to to relax and have some fun…" And there was that familiar wave with his hand, a bit stronger than usual, perhaps. And just like that, the dark disappeared once more. "Might as well wish for a magic wand," he sighed. "In the absence of which, we'll just do the best we can, won't we?"

"That's about all we can do." She agreed, unable to find a valid reason not to. Doing their best had proven problematic with the way the universe beyond the station had repeatedly done its own best to thwart their every effort to wrangle things into some semblance of order. "In medicine, when one treatment doesn't work we shift focus and try another. Sometimes the most unorthodox medicine is the one that makes the difference."

"We can only hope," the commander said wearily. And he did feel weary, all of the sudden, despite the thoughts and memories which continued to churl in his mind. He sighed and stretched. "Maybe I should give this sleep thing a try. I've heard it is wonderful." It would certainly be nice to *stop* thinking for awhile.

"I'd say that would be for the best." Valeese offered a small smile, "Go. Rest your head. Sometimes sleep brings clarity."

"Right now, I'll settle for silence. Good night, and sleep well yourself when you get there." And with another wave he disappeared.

Commander Evan 'Weirdo' Merlin
Commanding Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170

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


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