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Commodore Ravnsson & Cmdr. Merlin | "Stargazing"

Posted on Tue Feb 23rd, 2021 @ 3:54am by Commodore Aksel Ravnsson & Commander Evan Merlin

Mission: A Distant Thunder

A faint smile lingered on the face of the station's commander when he continued his wanderings. Gradually he came closer to the more active parts of the station. It wouldn't be long before he would have to return to his quarters, to wake up his son and start the day. Right now, he enjoyed the last hour or so of solitude, as the people on the station who didn't work the gamma shift began to wake up and started their day.

He entered the promenade, where the first shops were preparing to open: a bakery with delicacies from a dozen different worlds, a coffee shop which had a small cluster of bleary looking people waiting for the door to slide open, the florist. He greeted a few people with a smile or a friendly wave, while in the meantime his thoughts kept wandering from topic to topic.

He was truly happy for Xue that her husband had returned, he was glad that the crisis she had spoken of was averted now, and only mildly curious as to how those two events were linked. But Xue was reunited with her love, a girl had her father returned to her, and he himself didn't have to send his own son away to keep him safe – all good things.

He was happy for Valeese and for his XO that she was with child again, though he couldn't help but worry. The Vorta had been kidnapped earlier. It was unlikely something like this would happen again, but there were more people who held a grudge against her, just for what she was. Not even for who she was, just her race was enough for people to hate her.

It was a concept which he found hard to feel. He understood the concept of hatred intellectually, but he just couldn't comprehend on every level how someone could hate someone else, personally, for the acts performed by a race as a whole – in a past before this person had even been born.

From there it was an easy association which lead him to people he didn't understand, people whose motives he found hard to grasp. He rounded a corner and entered one of the observation decks which tended to be empty or almost empty at this hour. One, two hours from now and it would be crowded here, but now he could look through the viewport unobstructed by anyone else. The wide expanse of stars spread out before him, with the nearby nebula rotating just into view. He often ended his tours at an observation deck, either this one or another, to enjoy the stars in solitude before plunging back into the hectic pace of the day.

This time, though, he found someone else was here already.

"Commander," Above the stars, above the light that had started to peek around the beveled swell of the station's curves, Ravnsson's voice rose like smoke. It wasn't bleary or tired, held no promise of a recent retreat from the world of dreams. It was bold and crisp as a double shot of espresso and just as alive in its one word greeting. Beside him rested a dark cane, the carefully carved knoll of it nestled into one of his palms as a prelude to the rest of his body language. Calm. Unfettered. Unbothered, even by the intrusion. Aksel Ravnsson was a man of eternal confidence and poise, grace and power. A creature like Evan Merlin would never pose threat to something as old and seemingly immortal as the beast roosting against that rail. That knowledge, intrinsic as it was, could easily have been considered arrogance had it not been for the fact it was genetic. El-Aurians hadn't a worry in the universe.

Especially not that particular one.

All of his worries were being dealt with. Systematically.

"Come, Merlin, spare a moment to entertain an old man. Tell me what you see." The fingers of his free hand rose and curled, beckoning the Commander forth and guiding his attention to the appearance of the nebula beyond. His own mercurial eyes never left the undulating, dancing swirls of stardust and gasses.

"Gladly." The smile on the Commander's face was as sincere as ever, but if Ravnsson had been watching him, he would've seen the sea-coloured eyes take on a darker tone. For the first time, the Commander noticed that something in him responded to the presence of the El-Aurian. Had that happened before, the first time they met? He noted the reaction in himself and stored it for future examination as he strolled to the viewport, coming to a rest next to the Commodore.

His eyes shifted from the old man (and how old was the El-Aurian, really? For that matter, how old was he himself? And was either question relevant?) to the nebula from which he himself had come, years ago, and to the stars beyond. The smile on his face grew softer, gentler. This view always had this effect on him.

"I doubt you desire a factual description," he said after a moment of silence. "So… what I see. Stars. Space. A nebula which hoards her secrets. What I don't see are the planets around those stars, the people who live on them, alone and connected, a universe filled with mysteries, with so much unknown."

"Is that not factual?" The gray man's eyes flashed briefly with amusement, but the sentiment failed to land and settle anywhere else across his face or body. His pose remained unchanged and unchallenged, discounting the way one of his hands slid along the cool smoothness of the railing in front of them. "There is an undoubted wealth of culture hidden within that nebula. Species we can only fathom, stories we can only dream of." He paused, only briefly, "I know of two beings that have been salvaged from its wreckage. You and the time traveler, but neither of you share much in common beyond the concept of xy chromosomes and maybe being thankful for the Federation's willingness to accept and promote your existence."

It was an undeniable bit of philosophy, though impossible to tell whether or not it was one the man of smoke and ash had spent a particularly long amount of time pondering. And then came the smallest of shrugs, "Unless of course you count the entire race of the Stenellis. They too could be considered treasures of the nebula's hold, though far less innocent in nature than you and Craig MacLeod. They know their culture and their history. It hasn't been lost to them." An elegant finger rose from the rail in gesture to the space beyond.

"Mr. MacLeod's culture and past hasn't been lost on him, either," the Commander said with a slight smile, still staring out. "Though it has been lost to him, I understand." He leaned against the cold metal. "However, what I described was my view, which is not a fact. Other people would gaze out and see something completely different. Some might just see great burning globes of gasses when gazing at the stars, and dust and refracted light while looking at the nebula. Others might see tremendous business oppurtinities out there, or worlds to conquer, to dominate and to rule." He shifted his attention from the magnificent view to the man standing next to him. "So, if I may ask, Commodore, what do you see out there?"

Unaffected by Merlin's assertion of his beliefs and the differences between fact and opinion, Aksel wasted no time in waxing over his response, "Unlimited potential, Mr. Merlin. I see unlimited potential." He said, allowing his lips to curl into a faint, bemused sort of smile. "I'm sure you see it as well, you aren't a fool." There was a shift of the El-Aurian's weight, removing pressure from the ache of an old injury that refused to allow its presence to be ignored. Like the majority of the Federation and its mamby pamby utopian principles, it served as nothing more than a thorn in the man's side and a constant reminder of things that required change and fixing.

"We came here because we recognized it and then we mostly abandoned it until a little less than a decade ago. The lawless frontier, all consuming with all of its mysteries and magic."

"Of course you do," the man who was called 'Weirdo' by many murmured in reaction to Aksel's first reply. The question is, potential for what? His hand caressed the viewport. This was one of the few of the original ones, it had been here when he arrived on the station and hadn't been expanded or altered since. Maybe this was why he returned to this observation deck more than the others. "Magic and mysteries," he said, louder (though he had no doubt that the Commodore had heard his murmur quite well). The hand which was not resting against the viewport made a twirling motion and suddenly held a crystal ball, which began a hypnotic dance across his palm and the back of his hand, fingertips, up his arm and back, moving seemingly with a will of its own. "To be observed and enjoyed, or to be taken by a bold hand? The first would indicate a waste of potential, the second – well, fortune favors the bold, isn't that how the expression goes?"

The older of the two pursed his lips in momentary consideration of the question, the parlor trick hardly something he considered mesmerizing. Over the long length of his life, Aksel had seen plenty magicians and unexplainable happenings come and go. They were to be expected, just like the passing of the seasons or the changing of the tides. He glanced once at the crystal and then to its holder before averting his gaze back to the nebula and space beyond. "Even wildlands require cultivation and pruning for the sake of survival, Mr. Merlin. The Terrans learned how managing forests and removing rot helped save the land from the destructive cycle of wildfires." He spoke evenly, easily, likely from memory, "Fire offers rebirth, yes, but it also can get catastrophically out of control if it isn't managed. We must cultivate things in order to protect them. Just as you cultivate this station in order to protect it."

"'Time is the fire in which we burn…'" The quote rose unbidden, the thought spoken of its own volition, without intercession of the Weirdo's brain. Aksel's words resonated with a truth he probably hadn't intended when he spoke them. The Commander suddenly smiled that radiant smile of his, the crystal ball disappeared as suddenly as it had made its appearance, and he bowed. "Thank you for your insights and your wise words, Commodore. I will leave you to your contemplations in peace."

"Some of us more than others, Mr. Merlin. Some of us more than others." Aksel nodded, finally affording the strange Commander the presence of his entire countenance. It was far from majestic, but it spoke of the centuries he had experienced and lessons that had been learned. So much could be said for Aksel Ravnsson and the way he saw the universe at large, but most of it would only be half truths while the rest lay waiting in those rich gray eyes. "God speed and be well, Commander. Enjoy the rest of your morning." He bid the man adieu, reaching to clap a hand upon his shoulder on his way past. The time for contemplation had long passed and had since birthed them upon the hour of action.

"And you," the weirdo Commander said, still smiling that radiant, and somehow enigmatic smile. Time to return to his quarters, to his son, and then to work. Some of us more than others indeed. For some time had seemed to burn them up, and for others… it was time a purging fire would cleanse the rot from this station.


Commodore Aksel Ravnsson
Section 31
Starfleet Intelligence

Commander Evan Merlin
Commanding Officer


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