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Cmdr. Evan Merlin | Lonely At The Top

Posted on Thu Aug 29th, 2019 @ 8:22pm by Commander Evan Merlin

Mission: Dust Stirring
Location: Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 241908.29

Command was lonely. This he knew even before he had accepted command of the station. He had seen it for the first time once he'd begun to settle on the station, not long after he was found, way back when. He had seen it in the eyes of Cold Station Theta’s CO then, as he slowly began to understand how Starfleet worked and what a chain of command was. He had seen more of it during his time at Starfleet Academy and the few exercise missions he’d been on as a cadet. He had seen it closer still as he rose through the ranks in Starfleet himself, and he’d seen it in Xue – so deeply ingrained in her, due to the nature of her family and position, that it was almost a core component of herself. So it wasn’t as if he had stepped blindly into it when it was offered to him.

Now, though, he discovered that observing something from the outside and actually *living* it from the inside were two different things entirely. One of the things he loved to do was to talk with people, interact with them. He used to wander through the station at night, joining a gamma shift in different departments and just having a chat. People there, bored more often than not during the down shift, were usually prepared to talk, explain what they were working on, and he could occasionally even help out a bit. The only exception had been the Intel department, but they were a closed-mouthed bunch to begin with, and him being such an unknown factor didn’t help.

That all had changed now. With a very few exceptions, he found that pips and positions did make a difference for people. They saw the symbols, not the man wearing them, and he had to adhere to that whether he liked it or not. Most of the exceptions were the people who were department heads like him, before he had been catapulted into his current position, and he could hardly bother *them* at three am. Not unless there was an emergency, which – thank the stars for their blessings! – hadn’t occurred yet. Of course, there had been a few incidents, such as the one when a Kressari delegate mistook a Horta for a footstool during the recent midsummer festival. A timely intervention from a diplomat and a tailor, followed by an extensive tour of the arboretum smoothed things over and in the end, the Kressari delegation had returned home with a trade agreement and the promise of a future exchange program. Small headaches. Small worries.

He still made his nighttime walks – he had never required much sleep and the recent changes hadn’t affected that. But now he either walked through the civilian and commercial areas or stuck to the deep bowels of the station, where few people ever came. But he missed those nighttime talks.

Maybe, he mused as he paced through deserted corridors on his long legs, it was because the silence left him with too much time to think. Too much time to ponder the vulnerabilities of a station on the edge of the Federation, with Romulans on one side and the Stenellian Ascendancy on the other, all politely staring at each other. Not to mention a nearby nebula which still hadn't been fully explored, and which occasionally yielded some of its surprises… such as himself.

A station which, for all its size, was still vulnerable, a thin shell that housed several thousand people permanently, and nearly the same amount of people who were in transit or just stayed here for awhile. People in all shapes and sizes, so many different races, strong and weak, peaceful and warrior-like, all living together in a precarious balance, and so many ways to tip that scale. As former StratOps officer he knew too many of those ways, and he was sure that Commander Stacker could add quite a few others to that list. And those were the known unknowns.

He sighed. No, too much time alone did not sit well with him. He swung around a few corners, took a shortcut to the nearest turbolift and ordered it to take him to the promenade deck. It, too, would be quiet this time of night, but 'quiet' on the promenade was relative. There were always a few restaurants open all night long, a few bars, one or two shops. The turbolift rose through the station, smoothly and swiftly. The repairs and replacements were effective, but he did miss the old, somewhat temperamentful lifts from time to time.

Up and up, nearly there. He looked forward to nestling himself in a corner where he could see the drizzle of people on the promenade at this hour, nursing a drink – deka tea or something.

Instead, when the doors opened, he stepped out in the middle of a riot.


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