Posted July 2, 2020, 1:38 a.m. by Lieutenant Commander Maxwell Wynter (Chief Engineer / 2nd Officer) (David Shotton)
Posted by Lieutenant Commander Maxwell Wynter (Chief Engineer / 2nd Officer) in Mundai Colony - A need to get away
Posted by Lieutenant Commander Maxwell Wynter (Chief Engineer / 2nd Officer) in Mundai Colony - A need to get away
Posted by Lieutenant Commander Maxwell Wynter (Chief Engineer / 2nd Officer) in Mundai Colony - A need to get away
Posted by… suppressed (1) by the Post Ghost! 👻
“Alright, so who are the faithful? You said they follow the devout, who support the Authority. It doesn’t sound like the Authority cares too much about the faithful so why do they follow the devout?”
Ella hung her head for a second looking at her own cup of coffee. Living her life was one thing. Explaining it was another. She had to get the words correct or Max would not trust her or worse hate her. Running the tip of her tongue over his lips to moisten them she stole precious seconds to think. “The Authority is not blind to the…concerns of the faithful. In fact, the faithful are the ones that put the Authority into power. The Authority needs the faithful more than the devout to keep our planet functioning. They can get a bad reputation depending on who you talk to. You must have that situation. Where the ends don’t always meet the means with the most palatable avenue.” Ella was speaking in riddles yet she had to. Max seemed honorable but the Authority did not send in their henchmen when rooting out dissenters.
“So, the Authority uses the faithful as a means to an end? The Devout are somewhere in the middle, a middle class. I’m guessing the main population who support the Authority and treat the faithful as second class citizens. It sounds like the Authority uses the faithful to maintain the Devouts way of life.”
Ella felt her skin break out in goosebumps mainly from fear. She had already said enough to be asked to visit the Devotion Headquarters. She did not know Max well enough to gauge his temperament. Was it exhaustion or frustration that caused the man to gaze so deeply into his mug. Laying her hand on his arm Ella held her breath. He didn’t have to answer the question in her mind. Even if he did, Maxwell Wynter did not have to answer honestly.
At her touch, Max looked up and at her. His smile was soft, to show her he was listening and he tried to make it reassuring but after everything that had happened he found that he almost didn’t have even that in him. It was a smile that matched his eyes. He desperately wanted and needed to find Jasmine, to hold her and make sure that she was safe. To take her home.
The thought of questioning his integrity vanished as his eyes met hers. Max was a good man. In this moment, Ella had one thought: All I want is to see what you look like when you really smile.
” You said something about me not being from the Authority in the space port, I can promise you I’m not.” Max had noted the apparent fear with which she had spoken of this Authority in the space port, and he had seen how she almost had to physically will herself to trust him from moment to moment like he might not have been who he said he was. All in all, it was beginning to leave Max with a deep sense of dread in the pit of his stomach, which wasn’t helped by the exhaustion that his mind was now accepting was in fact real and not just an annoying emotion.
Lt Cmdr Wynterm CE
Squeezing his arm Ella took a chance. Her mother had always told her to take a chance on people. For the multitudes of people that would steer you wrong, there was the one person who did have your best interests at heart. Max did not have Ella’s best interests at heart here in her living room. Max was only thinking of his wife but Ella could have his. Getting up she walked to her closet and pulled out a box. Digging through it, Ella yanked a bottle and two glasses. “I need something stronger,” she set down the glasses. Pouring the drink her hand shook some letting a few drops splatter on the wood surface of the coffee table.
“I’ll drink to that,” Max said and smiled a bit wider. Still tired, but partly relieved that the moment of awkward tension between them seemed to have passed, like he had completed some hidden test he didn’t know the outcome of. His mind absently wondered if, instead of alcohol, the closet would have held a weapon if he had failed the test. “Keep going, you were telling me about your world. I want to hear about it Ella, I need to understand this place.”
“We are not the indigenous race on Mundai,” Ella began to tell the real truth of life in the sparkling city. “Centuries ago when we settled here as colonists there was another race. They were a peaceful people willing to share everything. The helped my people live and thrive here. I say my people because all of the Mundain’s you will ever see are from the devout.” Gesturing to herself Ella suddenly felt dirty. She struggled to keep her gaze on Max’s face. Ella shivered feeling the revulsion that would soon shine in Max’s eyes. “I am not a true devout. I don’t believe in the Authority and I am ashamed to say that I once did. People can change and I,” she began to talk but froze hearing the sounds of sirens echoing on the road below. Her face went white and her throat dry. If she had made a mistake about the handsome man next to her, Ella could not fix it now.
Seeing her reaction Max put his hand on hers and held it there for a moment, then stood and walked to the window, turning off the lamp on the table on the way so that his silhouette didn’t show up to people looking from outside. He watched the car outside for a few moments as it slowly drove up the street, both of the officials inside it with lights shining in closed doorways and down short alleys between the buildings, like they were searching for something. After a number of minutes, they were far enough up the street that Max considered them gone. “They didn’t stop, and they’ve moved on now Ella.” He returned to his seat and poured another glass for the two of them. “Drink up, I think you need a little more of this. Keep talking.”
Pursing her lips, she let out a long controlled breath steadying her nerves. “I trusted you in the spaceport. I need you to listen to me now. Don’t say a word until the end.” Then you can arrest me , she added silently to herself.
He didn’t speak, Max just nodded and pushed the small glass closer towards here then sat back, ready to listen.
“The faithful are beyond peaceful or pacifists. They are living martyrs for our society. The Devout have enslaved them. That is why you don’t see them in the streets or in the city. A hundred years ago we had a war with a neighboring planet. The death toll was amended but the casualties were catastrophic. The indigenous people would not fight but they did aid in the war effort by literally giving their bodies and souls to Mundai. Our doctors found that while we were two entirely separate races the faithful had a unique DNA allowing for them to be compatible organ donors with just about anything that has DNA.” Ella paused in her story to pour another drink. If Max was an operative of the Authority she had given him her death warrant on a platter. Her hands shook as she brought the drink to her lips.
Max nodded, and listened carefully. He even leaned forward as she spoke so that he was sure to take not of everything she said through the tiredness that threatened to fog his mind at every minute. By now it was just willpower that kept him going, sheer determination and force of personality.
The information she was sharing was a state secret. The thought that she, a lowly greeter at the spaceport could know this seemed laughable yet she did know it. ”So as the wounded came home, the faithful served. They allowed the devout to harvest,” she felt sick and choked back the bile rising in her throat, “what was needed to save the lives of the men dying in the war. Lungs, kidneys, eyes, livers.... all of it could and was used by doctors to save the lives of injured soldiers, and the faithful could regrow what was taken from them. That was how the indigenous people became the faithful. Because they faithfully Served the people of Mundai. After the war it never stopped however. Our planet is like any other number of worlds. Our vistas or beaches can be found a number of places but what can’t be found elsewhere in the delta quadrant are cities With the promise to heal what ails you. I know what happened to your wife,” she paused looking at Max. “I knew the second you said she was a doctor. What I don’t know is how to help you.” Ella paused here letting Max absorb all she had said. it was a lot. He would have so many questions. Ella just hoped she had the answers.
Jasmine Wynter CMO
“But you couldn’t tell me because we were in a public place surrounded by the Authority, and you had no idea if I was who I said I was or working for them.” His mind drifted to the car that had been cruising the street below, and visions of old movies he had watched with Jasmine about secret police, the Gestapo they were called, came back to him.
“That makes sense, living like this seems insane to me, but it’s not my world.” Max had to put himself in Ella’s place and understand why she did what she did, and how she felt. At every moment Ella could be taken by this Authority it seemed for the slightest infraction, all to preserve a way of life that they considered for the greater good. Not the greater good for everyone, but the greater good of a few. It was something that Max, as a Mintaran was keenly disgusted at, and as a Starfleet Officer was outraged but, it wasn’t his world and he certainly had no power to change it. Sometimes the Prime Directive sucked, even if he did have the power to do something about it, he couldn’t. What he could do, was help Jasmine and, if he could, Ella.
Lifting his glass Max finished what was left in his, then refilled both of their glasses one last time. He could feel the alcohol warming him, whatever this was it was potent in a way he wasn’t used to, but didn’t seem to affect him like he was drunk, yet. “You have already helped me far more than you think Ella, thank you. I couldn’t have wished for a better friend at a time like this you know. You never needed to help me, or get involved in my problems but you did even though you put yourself at risk and took a chance on trusting me. You have no idea how much that means to me and how much I appreciate it. Somewhere in this mess there is an answer, I just have to find it.”
“I have a lot to think about Ella, and tomorrow I’ll have more questions but trust me, I think you should get some sleep after what happened today. I need some time to myself to go over everything. There is an answer here, there always is.” Standing, he knelt beside her and put his hand on hers once again. “Go get some sleep, I’ll make sure you are safe.”
Max watched her stand, and smiled at her in thanks as she made her way to her bedroom, his eyes lowering and following her figure for a moment as she walked but Max raised his hand to rub his jaw and turned his head, looking out into the dark night. Ella was beautiful and graceful, there was no denying it and if Max wasn’t married she would have been the first person to turn his head if he saw her in a crowd or a bar. Max was clearly biased but Ella’s smile and eyes very nearly matched Jasmines but, where Jasmine had the Mintaran confidence, directness and fire that women from his planet all possessed on the surface, Ella was softer. She felt far more vulnerable and Max had an insane urge to hug her and tell her everything was going to be ok, even if it meant lying to her about things going to be ok because Max knew it wasn’t going to be.
Pushing himself to his feet from where he knelt, he sighed and tried to get the myriad of thoughts out of his head, of Jasmine and of Ella. He needed a moment to think and as his eyes moved over her living room, noticed a device that looked like a personal console in one corner. Walking over to it Max sat down and turned it on, the familiar looking screen of a popular extranet program coming up almost immediately and he smiled slightly. Using the console he typed in an address and in moments was in his own personal messaging program looking at his messages. Most were nothing and he knew he was hoping that one would be there from Jasmine, that she found a way to contact him somehow but of course, there was nothing. Then, one name stood out from the rest and he blinked. Hard. The message title filled him with dread and he was cold as he quickly opened the message, trying to keep his breathing steady as he glanced around to make sure Ella was asleep.
The message contained a link to a news item. A Federation Shuttle on it’s way back from Mundai had exploded, claiming the life of the Chief Medical Officer of the USS Manhattan, Dr Jasmine Wynter, Lieutenant, leaving behind her husband, Lieutenant Commander Max Wynter. Her body had been recovered and was being tended to for a traditional Starfleet service in space with full honours. Max read the article over and over again, sitting in shock as his tired mind tried to make sense of the news. Jasmine was dead and they had her body, but his mind refused to believe it. He couldn’t accept that his wife was dead and that he hadn’t been there. Keying the consoles communication system, he called the person who had sent the message.
On the USS Manhattan
Waiting at her desk, Celina’s eyes were red rimmed and was dreading seeing the person trying to connect to her. What was she going to say to him? What could you say to someone in this situation?
Clicking the accept button she let out a long slow breath seeing a familiar face on the screen. “Max I am so so sorry,” she began feeling her heartbreak for her friend. “How are you,” she began the standard question before stopping herself and leaning closer to the screen. Max looked exhausted and frustrated but not sad. He also looked to be in an apartment of some sort. “Wow, you look like crap but not in the way of my wife just died way? Where are you and what are you doing,” she wrinkled her nose up staring at him.”
“Celina, I got your message. Don’t look at me like that, you would look like this if you were chasing your husband across an unknown quadrant of space only to see him get shot and beamed away. Listen to me carefully and promise me you won’t repeat this, alright. I need you to promise me and trust me, I know what I am doing.”
“About,” she drew the word out hearing the calm but pressing tone of Max’s voice. It was hard to grasp what was going to happen based on what she said versus what he just told her. Max didn’t seem the type to lose it but again it was his wife and Celina had first-hand knowledge about the five stages of grief.
Over the next few minutes, Max relayed what he had learned about Mundai to Celina and about Jasmine’s disappearance. He spoke quickly and to the point, and didn’t repeat what he said.
“Max,” Celina said gently in the tone used mainly by security, diplomats, and negotiators. It was the calm where your sole purpose was to not have your conversational partner jump off the roof before you could make them see reason. “I… we have her body in the morgue,” Celina tried to give Max a reality check gently.
“Yes, I know that Jasmine’s shuttle exploded and you have her body. I know she’s your friend and I can imagine what the Manhattan is going through, but I need to see her body, Celina. “
“Max I am sure they will let you say goodbye before the service but you need to come back,” she started to cajole him as best she could.
“Send me the medical pictures of her after the explosion, I know you can. You have to, for me and for Jasmine. I can’t just let her go like this, I owe it to her and to Ella to try.” Angrily and with no small amount of frustration, Max slammed his fist on the table beside the console.
“Ella,” Celina’s tone changed to one of more suspicion. “Who is Ella?” Suddenly the room was no longer such a mystery. Max was in an apartment and asking for pictures. “Wait are you trying to find out that she is dead ‘cause you asking for pics is like a proof of death. I know Ella is not the name of her sister and you only have a brother,” Celina could not help but feel fiesty even coping with the death of her friend.
“Ella saved me from the Authority here, otherwise I would be missing right now, that’s who she is,” Max explained, “I would have asked the wrong question to the wrong person and I bet my body would have been in that shuttle as well. Send me the pics Celina.”
“What you want me to stroll on down to the morgue and say hey Jaz’s husband is not sure she is dead so can ya pop open the top for me,” her tone was laced with sarcasm. She was also sounding angry but not at Max. A small part always held out hope the person reported passing was not the person you loved. It was a guttural wish all individuals went through however given the possibility Jasmine wasn’t dead enraged her. If there was any chance Max was right, Celina would kill whoever had put her, Max, and the crew through this.
Max didn’t reply, instead he looked at Celina calmly and raised a single eyebrow. His expression was clear. Yes, yes I expect you to get those pictures, and I know you will so stop fighting me.
“Fine fine,” she snapped at Max standing up pointed a finger at the screen. A rational person would not do what she was about to do. Max had asked she not tell anyone. He had to realize that was a stupid request. Who was she going to tell? The captain who would reward Celina with a one-way ticket to the counselor? Jack who would remind her that just because of their past not everyone was a top-secret spy deep undercover who died in the middle of a mission only to have their history wiped and then moved on? There was no one except maybe Shavon in medical that wouldn’t think Celina was off her rocker aiding Max instead of trying to get him back to the Manny. “If I get into trouble for doing this I swear I will take you down for this,” she threatened Max. Again it was not at max persay but more the idea that Jasmine was sitting somewhere needing help and the crew was planning tacos or pizza for her wake.
Now Max did reply, but it was with a smirk that never reached his eyes. “If you get into trouble for doing this, Celina, then you are off your game.”
Twenty minutes later....
Max was silent as the first pictures came up on screen and Max had to put his hand over his mouth as the tears came to his eyes. It was Jasmine on the bed. Her body was burnt and damaged, but the face, hair and figure was Jasmine. Her eyes were closed and she looked peaceful, like she was simply in an eternal sleep and the pressure and worries of life were no longer her concern. Max closed his eyes for a moment, had this whole exercise been for nothing?
Lt Cmdr Wynter
The past hour had been an emotional roller coaster for Celina. She not only had to threaten the corpsman in the morgue to get at the body, but seeing her lifeless friend and reviewing the medical records confirmed what Celina knew. “Max come home to us,” she said softly into the comm call. “If not for her for me. I can’t lose her and worry about you.”
Max forced his eyes open again, there was no way he could argue that the body on the bed wasn’t that of his wife. His eyes froze just then, something at the back of his mind screamed at him to look harder. Something wasn’t right. Max let his eyes travel over the pictures searching for something, what it was he didn’t know but it was there, he knew it, and he had missed it. Landing on one picture his hand dropped from his mouth as it opened it shock and recognition. He knew.
“Celina, it’s not Jasmine,” he stated in a whisper. The shock of the realization hitting him like a brick.
“Max,” Celina snapped harshly. “I am not stupid nor would I say someone is dead without and ID check, tricorder scans, DNA,” she rattled off the litany of steps in declaring someone dead.
“I don’t care what the DNA says, it’s not her. I can prove it to you but you have to keep this quiet, you need to go through the motions and let them bury the body. These people need to think we believe them, it’s our only hope of not losing the trail.”
“And what, say Max is indisposed and doesn’t care about his wife’s funeral. No one is going to believe it. Neither you or her left according to the normal means. No records of you leaving by transporter because you took a shuttle and the paid for it in credits. Do you know how bad this is going to look and make me an accessory if I don’t say I know where you are? You are AWOL and your wife is dead.”
“Dammit Celina I am not crazy, look!” Max raised his hand and around the wrist, was clearly the bracelet that both he and Jasmine wore. Gifted to them by their parents as a wedding gift that all newlywed Mintarans received to help them with their marriage. “That is not Jasmine on the bed, the bracelet is gone and I would know if it had been removed.”
Now, Max smiled a real and genuine smile despite the whole circumstance. It was the first real glimmer of hope that he had received, a sign, Jasmine would call it. In that moment, he honestly believed it was a sign. “I would know because the bracelets are set to notify us if it is removed from the other person, or one of the wearers lifesigns cease. My bracelet has done neither, so I know that Jasmine has neither removed it or been killed. She’s alive and here on Mundai, and I am going to find her.”
Celina immediately pulled up the image looking at Jasmine’s wrist. Her friend never had it off. Celina always assumed it was a Minataran thing.
“It works with Quantum Entanglement,” Max revealed, letting Celina in on a little known piece of Mintaran technology. “Two particles are paired at the quantum level, so that their quantum signature is the same even when both are separated. That means that wherever they are in the universe,” Max emphasised the word, “they are always instantaneously connected with each other no matter the distance in between them. It’s a technology we don’t share because a) it is extremely expensive and b) we hold the rights to this particular design. Most other forms are very unreliable but Celina, I know she is alive, she has been taken by the Mundain and they staged her death somehow. That is a fake body that imitates Jasmine on that bed. I don’t know how they did it but remember, they can use the faithful to grow body parts. Who is to say they can’t clone a body entirely and manipulate the DNA in those organs to make it seem like someone else, we can clone people after all. It is just illegal for us.”
“I need to go, but Celina. Thanks. This means so much to Jasmine and I. I’ll bring her home, I promise.” With that, Max turned off the console and stood. He ran his hand through his hair and felt the anger rising in him. They had abducted her, faked her death and he didn’t know what else. He knew that Jasmine would never agree to harm the faithful, or do anything that exploited them so whatever the Authority was making her do, was by force and threat. Now, they had Max to deal with. If Mintarans were known for anything it was being thorough and leaving no stone unturned. a 36000 page marriage form proved that. It was only going to be a matter of time before Max found the problem in their system.
“Max…Max,” she yelled before being unceremoniously disconnected. Letting out a sigh she drummed her nails on the console. If there was any way this was true, Celina was going to give Max a chance to find out.
Feeling like he needed fresh air, Max walked to the door and let himself out. The hallway was narrow and the doors small, and he chose to take the stairs instead of the lift. In moments Max was outside on the pavement in the cold of the night air. The freshness of it prickled at his skin and he leaned on the wall and closed his eyes. He was tired, exhausted in fact and the rollercoaster of emotions the day had brought had left him feeling wired on the edge. The sound of a siren at the end of the street made his eyes jump open again.
Looking towards the sound Max saw the car, running silent but with the people inside shining torches as they came down the street again. Max knew he wasn’t supposed to be here, this wasn’t part of the tourist area he could be in and clearly he wasn’t a Mundain. At the very least they would stop and question him if they saw him, at worst, he didn’t want to think about it. Turning Max made his way back inside, the lights from the car passing over and pausing slightly on the door he passed through as it finished closing.
Double timing the steps he made it back to Ella’s room and let himself inside, locking the door behind him and moving to the window. Pushing the curtain aside slightly he was greeted by the siren once more sounding from below the building they were in, and he could see the car had stopped below them. Max swore to himself and stepped back from the window, how could he have been so stupid as to step outside, even for a moment.
Lt Cmdr Wynter, CE
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