STF

Jack's Quarters The Persian Water clock

Posted Aug. 31, 2020, 2:23 a.m. by Commander Ardashir "Jack" Creed (Executive Officer / CIO) (Steven Sigle)

Posted by Lieutenant Celina Rodriguez (Chief Tactical Officer) in Jack’s Quarters The Persian Water clock

Posted by Commander Ardashir “Jack” Creed (Executive Officer / CIO) in Jack’s Quarters The Persian Water clock

Posted by Lieutenant Celina Rodriguez (Chief Tactical Officer) in Jack’s Quarters The Persian Water clock

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Celina let out a raspy breath she had not realized she was holding. The next breath came through pursed lips as she worked to gain control of her emotions. In through your nose. Out through your mouth, she silently talked herself through several long minutes deciding her next move. Leaving Jack was not an option. It had never been an option even though she threatened to call security and he plugged in the code to wipe her from existence. Again, as always, neither of them followed through because life would not be life if they were not a part of it together.

Her eyes drifted from the monitor that held the static image of Jack slouched in the seat as his hand was caught hovering over the blurred document as he threw it towards the brass. Even though Jack’s posture was that of man beaten, the gaze frozen for all time was a man meticulously and methodically planning his revenge. Turning slightly in the seat, Jack could be seen moving about the room behind her getting another drink. Swiveling back, Celina reached up touching the monitor with the recording. Several more dates flashed across the screen. The files were dated going back it seemed to the start of his mission on Orion. One day she would go through them. Tonight however she was only interesting in a few specific ones.

Touching the first, Celina leaned back tucking her feet under her body. For years she had harbored a deep seeded resentment over the way his death was handled. Everything had turned out to be one lie compiled on another. The night they reconciled on Starbase 243 Jack had shared part of the story. Going back to his room, Jack showed her a file containing all his unsent responses to the communications she sent over six months from the time of his death. The therapist had told her it would help her deal with his death. In the end, it only proved Celina’s gut was correct. Jack hadn’t died and it was all an intelligence smoke and mirrors trick.

As with most under extreme stress, the mind allowed memories long buried dormant to resurface as if they were freshly burned. I don’t know if you will ever see this, but I will never stop. You will never have to wait for me again. I am done with rules and regulations. Jack had written that statement to her in his last unsent communication response. Now it all made sense as to why he said it. Jack had played his last card, indenturing himself for life to Starfleet Intelligence regardless of what it would cost him to give Celina what she had begged for in her state of grief.

Celina never doubted Jack struggled with his inability to contact her after the accident. What she had always questioned was his claim that he suffered as much as her. The file she selected was dated five months before the one he had shown her. 1.17.2389

Medical Facility

The room was dimly lit. With no windows it was unknown if the time stamp was day or night. The sparcely furnished room held the bare essentials. A bio bed against one wall with the standard display above it only the name read Doe, John 005. Nothing in the room gave an indication of its occupant. Even the patient was hard to discern from the tubes, machines, and medical apparatus that clung to his body like mechanical leeches. The patient had to be sedated at minimum because there was no stirring in the bed. The scene could have been a photo instead of an actual recording given how still everything was.

A soft swish followed by voices indicated someone was approaching the bed. Familiar blues of Starfleet medical personnel broke the silence of the tomb like space as they appeared to be doing thier medical rounds. “BP is one hundred over seventy,” a voice called out taking a reading as the second person held a PaDD jotting down the answers. “Arterial oxygen is approximately 74 milliters. Pulse Ox is 92. One the lower side but with a punctured lung I am not too concerned,” the voice continued.

“I don’t know why they just didn’t put in one of those experimental pulmonary webbings. He would be a great candidate to try it out on. The man can’t sign his approval or protest if he dies. They spent enough money on him already,” the second nurse growled out annoyed.

“Don’t you worry Johnny Five. I am not going to let them hurt you,” the one nurse said softy brushing the hair off his brow tenderly.

“You and that stupid movie. If your boyfriend here doesn’t wake up soon they are gonna start shoving in robo parts. Brass wants him awake for questions and you know how much they hate to wait,” the gruff second voice snapped before turning and leaving the room.

The nurse taking the readings looked up at the camera chewing her bottom lip. Her medical partner was not wrong. John Doe number five was running out of time. Leaning down she pressed her lips to his ear whispering something so low it was unable to be picked up by the mike. The way her hand caressed his forearm as she spoke indicated her words probably had a said something tender and gently before standing back up and flipping off the camera on her way out.

Lt. Celina Rodriguez CTO

The next file date began to blip for her as it began to play, queued up to continue from where she just began she would be able to tell the time frame was five months later. The room seemed a stark contrast from the one before, as a woman stood over his him.

Soft mumbled words of Moosh could be heard as Jack seemed upset as he became aware of his surroundings. It wasn’t Celina, but Azita who was in the room with him as two began to exchange soft words as he began to cry in her arms. It had been six long months, his body had been rebuilt but his mind couldn’t reach the outside world. Azita too had a funeral, a tombstone in Tehran that read Ardashir Creed next to their parents. She had thought all had been lost only to find out he had made it out, but it wasn’t a victory Jack felt he could celebrate.

The tapped flashed forward as Jack sat on the edge of his bed. A shrink sitting across as Jack seemed agitated. “I just want to see her… I am tired of these tests, you all want me back on my ship then let me back in her life. You realize she is hurting just as much as my sister did… and I can help her… you gotta cut some red tape for me doc.”

“That’s not going to happen Ardashir, she’s at risk from contact with a ghost such as Maz Jabroni. Your life will continue, but if you love her you have to let go any idea of a life.” Nathan said as he took a deep breath. If he was honest he hated these counseling sessions. Starfleet used his services as he shook his head with a soft sigh.

“Look… I will try something, I don’t know what pull I even have but I do understand where you are coming from. I left Starfleet, I understand the red tape they put you under… I doubt I can do anything, but maybe if I mention a closed meeting something they can monitor… I just can’t promise this works.” Nathan added as Jack took a deep breath and nodded.

“Anything is better than watching her wither from afar, I had to be bleed dry just to be alive right now, there is parts in me I don’t even know who makes them. OMAP Cybernetics I heard them whisper but… that’s Aedan Teller, some hopped up playboy from OED. It doesn’t make any sense why I am alive, I should have been dead three times over yet now everything about me is stitched together with science and little bit of voo doo, you don’t come back from having a three story building dropped on you doc… so why am I here?” Jack asked, knowing the man didn’t have the answers.

This shrink even being there was simply cause Jack had decked the last two when they kept trying to claim he imagined Celina like he was some beautiful mind experiment. Having broke out of his holding cell and took down 8 guards to get into a locked facility where he found the records of Celina before they knocked him out was enough for them to admit their deception. They wanted him pliable, but he was’t sure why.

“Hell if I know, I don’t even know how you got me here, but I am… and I want to help. I just don’t think they will let me for long, not jumping through hoops has always been my specialty in the service.” Nathan said with a smirk.

Nodding Jack watched as Nathan left, as he did he pulled out the photo by the side of his bed as he looked at it with a pained longing look. “I know you are out there Moosh… I will find you.” he said softly as he kissed the frame.

Present Day

“Well?” Jack could be heard hollering from the other room as he sat with his feet propped up on the sofa with a drink in one hand and a glass on the table with a bottle of Tequila next to it. Celina always loved the drink to calm her down, and he felt the two of them needed this right now. Regardless of her choice, things would be changed for them forever.

Creed, XO
Creed, XO

She didn’t respond to his question. Partially because she didn’t know what to say and partially because questions were flooding her mind as if a damn had burst. She could have sat for hours and watched clip after clip of Jack’s ordeal but what would it reveal that she didn’t already know: That Jack was willing to do whatever was required to safe guard those he loved and the Federation? Creed’s passion and devotion to his family and career was what Celina loved most about him. The lies and secrets under the guise of protecting her was what she could not handle.

Untucking her feet from beneath her, Celina took a deep breath as she rose from the chair in the room she knew so well. Moving from the small recess to the living room, Celina felt like her legs were filled with lead weights. Glancing out at the large window behind Jack, the air seemed to shimmer slightly as the shielding seemed intent on not even letting the stars be privy to the events of this room. Picking up one of the pillows that she had tossed earlier, Celina sat on the edge of the couch, hugging the pillow tight, as she curled her feet under her body.

“Jack I,” her voice caught in her chest. It sounded weak and fragile in her own ears. Pull it together Rodgriguez, she chastised herself. Just because you learned more than you bargained for does not change what happened. Focus on the task at hand. Taking a deep breath, she looked at Jack reclined at the end of the couch. On a normal evening, she would have plopped down laying her head on his knee ready to watch some movie until it was time for bed. The long pregnant pause made the air feel thick as if it could be cut with a knife. Reaching for the bottle, she poured a shot for herself hesitating before setting the bottle down.

“The last time we had a conversation of this magnitude it was when I arrived on Starbase 243 ready to board the Manhattan. Remember that,” she looked at him still holding the bottle. “We talked. We drank.” Celina kept the tone and volume neutral. Blinking she tried to fight back the tears that threatened to spill over her dark lashes.

“When does it start…or end,” she looked up at the ceiling blinking rapidly. “I know I love you,” she looked back down to meet his gaze. “I just don’t know what is real and what is fake. I can’t keep having the world I build around you crumble every few years. We were supposed to be married Jack,” her voice cracked as the first tear broke lose and ran down her cheek. Quickly swiping it away with the back of her hand she continued.

“That was never my intention. Why do you think I always insist on hurrying the wedding. I want to be able to let you in more, as much as I can but the only loop hole I found was marriage. It was always my goal for us… long before all this” he said as he took another swig from his glass before putting it down on the table.

“I though was hoping I could make it faster. Sadly both our families want to be a part of everything. I wasn’t even really sure once you said I do how to broach this all… this isn’t exactly honeymoon talking points” Jack said as he took a deep sigh. He wasn’t sure what was supposed to come from this but part of him felt better. Protocols be damned he was tired of living the woman he loved in the dark cause some faceless asshole told him to.

“How am I supposed to marry you when for the second time in our life you are ready to throw me aside only this time,” she felt the anger rising again in the pit of her stomach. “This time you want me to make the choice. Push a button. Make a choice. On or off. Stay here and say I do or get swept away to some other posting on the ass end of the universe. If you really loved me,” she set the bottle down and traded it for the shot. The hot liquid burned sliding down her throat helping her focus on not falling apart. “If you loved me,” she pointed the shot glass at him, “you would not have given me that choice because that choice was never on the table for me.” Placing a hand to her chest, Celina felt the pain of her heart breaking like she did the day she found out Maz Jabroni had died.

“I’m not throwing you aside. This was something I simply feared. My world is one I don’t get to let almost anyone in, and most people find it distasteful.” He said as he looked over at her, wanting her to realize just what this all meant in his mind.

“That button was made to give you a freedom you loose when you say I do. It’s not a forever button, those digits activate a timer. Thirty minutes to finish the sequence and then it terminates, erases the subroutine and… you become bound. I don’t think you quite understand what staying with me means.” Jack said, he knew she wouldn’t want to press it but there was other aspects she wasn’t sure of.

“You don’t give up on someone ever,” she leveled a finger at him. “You don’t just give someone an out when it gets hard or uncomfortable. Family is about staying together. Never leaving no matter what changes in life. What do you want from me Jack? Do you want me to choose a nine and slip away into a new life,” Celina rapidly brushed away the tears as they cascaded down her cheeks? “Are you going to let me make that choice in the future this easily when things don’t go right? If you say yes then that means you are willing to let me and my baby just walk out of your life as easily as pressing a button, then I can’t marry you. If you say not then why even give me the option if you can’t follow through with it. Don’t give me some patented reply either. I want the truth because I,” she felt her voice hitch,” would never find leaving or losing you to be an option I would willfully chose.” The words felt like an ultimatum and in a sense it was. If Jack answered yes, she would have no choice but to leave. She could not spend the rest of her life, raising thier kids, only to know at any second the rug could be pulled and she would be left with nothing. Sucking in a large breath, she fought to keep her breathing to a regular tempo. Right now she had to know where Jack’s head space was.

Lt. Celina Rodriguez

“Of course i don’t want you to press that button, but the rules are simple… you letting the subroutine terminate is what SI considers willfully agreeing to work for them under my supervision… so you not taking the out binds you just as much as it binds me. That’s the world I live in, and it is a world you will become part of… to an extent.” He said as he took a deep breath as he stood up as he paced back and forth.

“Computer, time for subroutine termination.” He asked as the computer game back.

“8 minutes and 43 seconds”

“So, I don’t want you to go… and you don’t get to know everything if you stay… but this is kind of the SI version of you saying I do… and you can’t leave after. There is no divorce from SI, least not a way I have found yet… and while I want you with me forever I want you to understand that risk it puts you under.” Jack said as he looked back over at her, worried this was going to be too much. The SI had been right bastards but he wasn’t sure what terrified him more, her saying she wanted out… or her letting the subroutine fail.

“I do everything to protect you, and if you stay that will not change. I don’t want you to go… I want my life forever with you… you just need to know what that life is.”

Creed, XO


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