Posted by Lieutenant Commander Bethany Kovra Gadi (Chief of Security) in Kindred Souls - Tag: Martel
Posted by Lieutenant Miranda Martel (Chief Engineer) in Kindred Souls - Tag: Martel
Posted by Lieutenant Commander Bethany Kovra Gadi (Chief of Security) in Kindred Souls - Tag: Martel
Posted by… suppressed (5) by the Post Ghost! 👻
Bethany was having a very long conversation with herself. This mission was voluntary and when first given the details she had signed up without hesitation. This was the kind of thing she was trained for, and she was good at it. It wasn’t so cut and dry. The taskforce had been disbanded 3 years ago. Most of the members had moved on to other things, other assignments, retired, or died. That didn’t matter though, they were all out of reach, and she could not, in good conscious, work with Elias. There was no way to know until the smoke cleared, the body’s counted, and investigations done, if he was acting for good or ill. There were children on this ship. And no matter what their parents had or had not done, what knowledge they possessed, choices they freely made, the children were still innocent.
People had called the way Bethany tracked Elias, uncanny, supernatural, or accused her of being a double agent at times. It was some kind of bizarre game. Some times she was ahead and some times behind. Hell, some times she’d felt like he was leading her through some twisted dance. But there was only one truth to the matter, the crew was safer with Bethany staying. No one knew Elias like she did, but that was flimsy and disappointing reassurance if at all. She had to eat though, and act like it didn’t phase her, or the entire security team would go off it’s rocker. They were going to get a dressing down from her anyway, when her temper had cooled some.
She entered the galley, ordered from the replicator and took a seat, at a far table, back to the corner, one foot propped on the edge of the adjacent chair and leaned back, watching the whole room, trying not to look like the predator she was. How easily old habits returned.
A minute or so later another figure shuffled in. Despite being almost four centimeters taller and around five kilos heavier, the woman in Operations gold seemed somehow smaller. Perhaps it was the hunched shoulders, or the way she kept her head down. Her eyes darted through the room, noting the position of every doorway and person. assessing them spatially and tactically. She sized Bethany up in an instant, a way that suggested the woman wasn’t a threat. Perhaps she was, but, not to Miranda’s mind. Then socially came after, noting what people were wearing, rank pips, uniforms, hair, cosmetics, appearance. All in less than a second. Perhaps it was hyper-vigilance. Maybe it was something else.
Her hands were balled into fists at her side, not white-knuckled but clearly not relaxed. And she wore her shoulders for earrings. Her face was drawn and she didn’t say much, or really anything as she headed for the replicator. That was a far cry from the officer from the staff meeting. she’d been serious then in her own way but more relaxed. But now? She seemed almost like a caged animal.
Miranda pulled something from the replicator without really paying much attention, then grabbed a mug of tea, but one loaded with chamomile and lavender, along with bright notes of bergamot. Finally, she sat down with a tray that had a steaming soup that smelled wonderful, and something that resembled a cinnamon roll for dessert. And for a time she simply sat, cradling the mug in her hands, staring at nothing. Checked out. Her hands tight around the mug.
Lt Martel, CE
Bethany watched the new CE enter and pace across the mess and to a table. It didn’t take an expert to know something was wrong, but thanks to Bethany’s training she knew with just a glance that Martel had had a massive panic attack and was on the edge of another one. She was fighting with herself and loosing. That girl needed a hug, as her uncles would say. And whatever Martel might tell someone, she didn’t need to be alone. Bethany got up from her seat, making a clear approach to the table Martel was sitting at and set her tray down across from her and sat. “It’s about to get packed in here, and you don’t look like you feel like being bombarded with the days gossip.”
Motion caught her attention on the edge of her vision. Green eyes snapped up, catching the approaching security officer. Oh no. Clearing he r throat she took a sip of her tea as Bethany approached. And the tray landed. Miranda flashed her a small smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. That she didn’t quite believe. “True enough,” she said then gestured to the other seat. Part of her wanted this person to go away. But even more so she really didn’t feel like being alone. At least then she was distracted… somewhat. But too, she sensed the chief was unsettled too. Maybe in her own way, for her own reasons. A kindred spirit perhaps. “Sit.” It was as much a command as a request, and an offer. Then added a hasty, “Ma’am.” Not that she could really stop the lieutenant commander. Not that she wanted to either. “I guess now is as good a time as any,” she said, bringing out that smile again, but it didn’t quite burn away the dark clouds in her eyes. “We haven’t been formerly introduced. Lieutenant Miranda Martel,” she said, offering her hand to the chief.
Lt Martel, CE
Bethany shuddered, “I’m too young to be a ‘ma’am.’ Lt. Cmdr Bethany Gadi.” She quickly but surely shook Martel’s hand. “But Gadi works, or Bethy if you like. A curse on whoever in command thought to promote me to Lt Cmdr.” About that time, true to her word about ten other offers walked in and headed for the replicators. Bethany took a sip of her coffee. Martel didn’t want to talk, but wanted a distraction. Bethany had seen that look on others. For the time being she kept true to her offer, to not have to talk, acting as a buffer to keep over eager junior officers away. In the mean time Bethany attempted to enjoy her dinner and ignore her own swirling thoughts.
Miranda nodded as Gadi introduced herself. When the doors opened and ten other crew ambled in, her head snapped around, then Visibly relaxed and retreated into herself once again. The mug in her hands trembled for a moment, but she forced t hem steady once more and sighed, taking a long drink once again. For a long minute she said nothing. She was aware of a few of the others looking their way, their eyes on her making her skin crawl. But none approached, instead they moved to fin d their own table not to far away. “Thank you,” she said quietly. “Most days things aren’t like this. But… I have to wonder if my assignment to this op was someone’s sick joke. … Or someone-s misplaced vote of confidence.” Or both. She turned her gaze from her mug back up to Bethy. “I assume you read my file, as any good security chief would. Wanna know who’s on their boat with them.”
Bethy nodded. She’d read the basics what she needed to know. She didn’t read the in depth logs, but enough to know the core of the person who was coming on board. “I get you there. I’m starting to know why I was transferred here for this mission and it’s sickening.”
She paused just long enough. “Well, after the Shamshir … this seems like dealing with the same kind of people. I dunno if I can go through another group like that … trying to steal the ship, kill the crew. Trying to… ” She trailed off, breaking her gaze. It wasn’t hard to see the ghosts there. Shame and guilt. Even though by all accounts Miranda had went above and beyond. What she’d endured had been horrific. But did she have the strength for another round?
Lt Martel, CE
Bethy listened and took a long pull of the water. She needed coffee, but that was off limits for the time being. Survivor guilt was a hard thing to get past. Usually an unjustified accusation at the self, but a serious monster to slay. “Well in this case no one is really trying to steal the ship or kill the crew. We’re just making it look that way. Until of course we get to wherever Agents Blue and Pikelsimer are sending us.” She leaned back and looked at her. Giving Martel the solid reality of her options. “You know, you’ve given more than your due to Star Fleet. You can walk away from this. It’s totally voluntary. You’d have to hang around this strange station for a bit, but that might be better than the alternative of going.”
Miranda put down the mug and then leaned forward, elbows on the table. Lacing her fingers together she rested her forehead against her hands. “Either way, I’m dead. I don’t get out of here without being dead. Vanished, into thin air. Or my family thinks I’m now a career criminal. Or both. You heard the cover.” She sighed. “So the only way I can move forward is to complete the job. But more than that, who would I be disappointing if I didn’t? Myself, maybe. And you’re right. I more than put in my dues.” She grimaced at that. “But I was young and dumb, and thought I knew the odds. Well, I played myself.” She shrugged. “And yeah, I know it’s not exactly the same thing. But if somebody decides they want to take from me-us. Another set of pirates? It’s not what we’re planning on but someone could get a wild hair and decide they want the Asimov.” Memories flooded back, being huddled on a floor with dozens of other crew. Armed gunmen going down the line looking for officers. In a quick play she reached out and grabbed her lieutenant’s second pip off their collar and stuck it on her own. Before he could stop her she stood and addressed them. She’d paid… brutally.. for the choice. But she didn’t regret protecting her chief, or the rest of her ship and crew. But it didn’t undo the invisible damage. Would she do it again? Could she do it again?
The idea was terrifying. But she’d survived that. Could she survive it again? If it came to that? Maybe. Maybe it would be better to eat a disruptor bolt, than to deal with what came after. A dark, sardonic chuckle escaped her. What’s a little more damage? She’d already been through about the worst anyone could.
Lt Martel, CE
Bethany nodded. The cover story was hard for a lot of people. What would their loved ones think? Their careers would survive it because command would fix it, after the fact. But relationships and trust was another thing. “I know it doesn’t help, at least not a lot, but most of us on Asimov have been through this kind of thing before. We’re better prepared to handle the unexpected and the ‘what ifs’. We can minimize it, with luck maybe avoid some of it, but in the end we will take care of it.” Bethy took a gamble and reached out, placing a hand over Miranda’s - a quick exchange of warmth to help still the nerves. “We were all young and dumb at one point. Most of us even played ourselves, but we are still here. We learned what are strengths are and what are weaknesses are. And we’ve all learned our limits. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that out loud. You have to make the best choice for you. Will you come back whole? We’re coming back, in how good of shape I can’t say, but we will. Honestly, if I had the choice, I don’t think I would go.”
Miranda nodded listening. “I suppose it’s more about the price to be paid. I bargained for time and for others. But the price was heavier and worse than I thought. I’m just not sure I want to pay it again. But…” She glanced around at the others, then back to Gadi. “I hope I don’t have to. But I don’t think I would choose differently.” There. she said it. The thing she dreaded. But she’d been through it before. She’d come through those fires, not unscathed, but forged perhaps a bit harder and stronger. It was more the anticipation of more pain that made her balk. People tended to fear the idea of pain more than the pain itself.
“The price is never what we expect. What we have to decide is if the price was worth what we gained. The answer, unfortunately, isn’t always forthcoming or black and white. We can’t go back in time nor can we go forward. We can only act, here, now, and make the choice that allows us to get up and keep pushing forward every morning.”
‘I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to be here, for not wanting to do this either. I sure didn’t sign up for it. Not l… in the way I thought. I just… “She sighed, and one could see a wave of tension roll of f of her as her shoulders dropped. “I’m probably being paranoid. With any luck, I’ll be riding most of this out in engineering, making sure this bucket o’ bolts stays in the sky.” She flashed a small smile at Gadi, but this one, while a little haunted, had more life to it. It was then that she realized she was still holding onto the Chief’s hand, her grip surprisingly strong, or maybe not, given her time spent monkeying about in the ship’s innards and with it’s engines. Glancing at her hand,s he frowned. “Sorry,” she murmured and loosened her grip, moving to let go… if she felt Gadi wanted her hand back.
Lt Martel, CE
Bethany didn’t remove her hand, she didn’t need it back at the moment. She just shook her head, no need to be sorry. Though her eyes darted around the room often taking in the growing numbers of crew, who was there, who wasn’t, what they were doing, where they were in relation to herself. But Miranda needed that human contact, that connection, and Bethy was willing to be that connection. Bethany had been trained to deal with making these kinds of choices and to live with the consequences. Miranda and most of the crew had not been. “Just because one is paranoid does not mean the monsters aren’t real.” The comment was introspective not aimed at Miranda at all. Bethy squeezed her hand, “But we are all a team and it doesn’t matter how big the monster might appear to be, we’ll do just fine. And I hear you’re a pretty decent fighter and you’re smart.” Those that knew Bethy would know that was high praise. She’d seen Martel’s file and taken her measure. Sure Miranda was stressed and panicked and scared, but she was still there, still doing her job and intended to stay. That spoke more about her than any report would.
Swallowing back a lump in her throat, she nodded. She knew the reports had spoken well of her, and had been backed up by her crew. But to have a total stranger s ay something like that. It just hit differently. Her vision turned watery for a moment and her grip tightened without thought. “I grew up having to scrape and scrap,” she said. “Means a lot to hear you say that. I can tell you’re tough as nails and the wear on that handle means that blade isn’t just for show. Smart? I dunno about. Dumb and brave or at least foolish, sure.” She gave the chief another small smile. “And maybe with a bigger heart than I was issued.” in truth she hadn’t done what she did for recognition. But just … shielding others, and buying time. But that someone recognized even a little meant a lot, especially someone in Gadi’s shoes. Taking a moment she reached up to wipe at the corners of her eyes with her free hand while clearing her throat a bit. She followed with another deep breath, letting it out with some force. “I’m sorry. I… I thought I was better. But I guess not.” Or was she? Her last assignment had seen her cool under pressure and holding her captain’s life in her hands. Now it felt like she was the one trying to drown in her own blood.
Lt Martel, CE
Bethany squeezed just a bit. “Naw, yer smart. You wouldn’t be chief engineer if you weren’t. I can’t speak to foolishness but it often goes hand-in-hand with bravery. And it doesn’t mean dumb.” She shook her head, “There’s more wear on this handle than their should be, but it was all earned.” With her free hand she picked up her drink and took a pull like it was a beer instead of water. “Being ‘better’ is relative. Some days we are better and some days we aren’t. Recovery is like that. It’s not linear. That’s not how the mind and heart work. It’s okay to be better and then not be....wait here.” Bethy let go and disappeared to the replicator and came back with ‘to-go’ trays and loaded up their meals. The mess was getting packed and loud and boisterous. “Come on.” She urged Miranda out of her chair and down the corridor to the lift and deck three and DH quarters. “Your last assignment, nothing like the Shamshir, so after ‘dealing’ with it, you were fine. Now here you are, very similar situation and you aren’t. Why? because the brain doesn’t work linear, it skips around. It’s searching everything you know for similar situations so you know what to do, and now it’s raw again and you aren’t okay, but you will be.”
Entering the pass code on her door Bethany led her inside. It was just like any other DHs quarters, except for the coffee maker. She checked her quarters in case of any unwelcomed guest or ghosts, she wasn’t sure which Elias was at this point. She set the food on the small table, “Sit and eat instead of staring at it.”
As Beth had went to go get covers for the trays, she frowned, but then when she saw what she had in mind she nodded. “I know. After the Shamshir… After the reconstructive surgeries, and all. I was also going through a lot of therapy. It’s one thing to know stuff consciously. Another to be in the middle of it and drowning, not knowing which way is up.”
As they made their way into Beth’s quarters she grimaced. “I’m still waiting on my tummy to stop doing flip-flops. I grabbed it more because I know I need to eat rather than really feeling like it. But i know as son as things settle down I’m probably going to be ravenous.” She cast her gaze about the interior. Department head quarters were small, efficient. Cozy, some might say, at least on the Brazen-class. But it was positively luxurious compared to being on a naval submarine centuries ago. Tehre it would have been a bunkroom with personal bunks but they were all hot racking.
Bethy just listened and let her talk. Where ever her mind needed to ramble. At the mention of an uneasy stomach, Bethany stepped into the bedroom. Everything she did was quiet and made little sound. She was back in a moment and set something next to her plate wrapped in wax paper and twirled on both ends. “Ginger candy. It will help your stomach.”
Miranda took the proffered candy. “Thanks. We’ll see.” She looked at it for a moment then popped it in and began to work quickly at it to get it to dissolve. Hopefully it would do the job.
Taking a seat at the table, she unpacked the tray once more. It smelled wonderful, and was still plenty warm with the heat condenser at the bottom, suffusing heat all up through it. “So do you bring every strange girl you meet back to your place,” Miranda jabbed lightly, a little playful. In some ways it was an attempt to lighten up the mood. But she also sensed that people didn’t see these quarters too often. Or at least she guessed. And in many ways, out of the mess hall, she was more relaxed. It was safer here.
Idly she took a quick spoonful from the soup testing it, and then nodded. She’d had a little better, but this version was pretty good. Warm, rich, flavorful, good salt content. The potatoes and onions would be filling, along with the added chives. Potato soup could do a lot for the soul, even if it was stupidly simple.
Lt Martel, CE
The never faltering grin on Bethy’s face widened a bit. “Nope, not really. But here lately it feels like this place is Grand Central Station.” She jerked her head toward the coffee pot. “People keep findin’ out I’ve got real coffee. This keeps up and I won’t have enough to last this mission.” She joked in return allowing Miranda to lead the conversation and tone. In truth Bethany controlled everything in this room. She didn’t really care if people saw where she slept or ate or spent her free time. This was just a room in a hotel. It was her shuttle that she never let anyone on, but it wasn’t here, she couldn’t bring it. So some of that huge degree of privacy she required now carried over to her quarters. But like she said it felt like Grand Central in here the last couple of days. She took a bite of her food, it was still warm and she grinned at the similarity. Cheesy potatoes for herself as a side rather than a soup, and Polish sausage. The only thing it was missing was her mother’s baked apples.
The food Gadi had smelled wonderful and looked just as tasty. With the sampling of her own soup plus what Gadi had out, her appetite roared back to life with her stomach beginning to settle. “Real coffee, eh? I can see why this place would be popular then. I tend to prefer tea, but I’ve been known to enjoy some of the black swill from time to time.” She gave Bethy a small smile then, crinkling up her nose for just a split second then dug into her soup some. It trailed warmth down and in that.. .in it’s own way was comforting and helped chase away some of the dark specters haunting her mind and heart.
Not all of them went away, but some. As she sat and ate, she reflected a little. The big black knot in her chest where her heart resided was still there. But it wasn’t as tight now. And while she didn’t know Gadi from Eve, in that moment she didn’t’ feel quite so alone. And yet realized just how alone she’d been feeling. Yet desperately she didn’t want to go back to that. Sure, ‘the life’ was moving from post to post, in many cases. But part of her craved stability. Somewhere she could just be for a while, and make real connections, real friends. Maybe eventually find someone she could call hers. But for now? Just somewhere to be where she felt she belonged was enough. And where … others might have her back as much as she had theirs. Part of her hoped Gadi would. It was a security type’s job to be a shield. But… the variables of the moment could dictate things change at any moment.
Her gaze traversed back up to the officer across from her. “So … as much as this all brings back some bad memories… you look ready to bolt, or knife someone. You mentioned earlier you don’t want to be here. At the risk of destroying blissful ignorance… what has you so rattled?”
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