Posted June 24, 2022, 6:34 p.m. by Lieutenant Commander Markus Woods (Chief Star Fleet Science Officer) (Sam Haynes)
Posted by Lieutenant Sharah Fayth (Chief Star Fleet Medical Officer) in Rest and Relaxation (TAG Woods)
Posted by Lieutenant Commander Markus Woods (Chief Star Fleet Science Officer) in Rest and Relaxation (TAG Woods)
Posted by Lieutenant Sharah Fayth (Chief Star Fleet Medical Officer) in Rest and Relaxation (TAG Woods)
Posted by… suppressed (3) by the Post Ghost! 👻
Rende walked along beside him, matching his stride as his words urged him to a longer faster pace or his realizations made him slow and pause in the corridor. She let him talk and let the music of his emotions play over her and resonate within. “I cannot speak of what you experienced on the old Viking. I wasn’t there, but I have seen a lot, I’ve heard stories of more, and there is evil in this universe. We El-Aurians live thousands of years, not just hundreds. Most of us that survived are considered children by our standards. And there was more in the universe than even our scientists understood. It is the great thing about space, there is always more to learn, but it can often be terrifying. You may not have the answers you wanted, but they are out there. There are more views of reality and perceptions that humanity is aware of. And that is not a failing, that we don’t know or can’t understand, but a potential to grow and learn.”
Mark’s steps were mostly slow. This was a stroll, not a march. And it was full of contemplation. It was his turn to listen for now, but he understood a little more. And he’d come to the Viking with no small measure of arrogance, only to be proven wrong.
She patted his arm gently. “No that is the frustrating part of perfectionism. The ugly side is when you think you’ve reached it. When you are absolutely sure you are always right and your plan, your preparations have taken into account everything and you know no one can do better than you. That is the ugly side of perfectionism.” She and El had suffered from that for a couple of centuries and it was a debt Rende could never repay. “Hab’rabi and his remnants were so far outside what we expected to find. Yes he deceived us, and that made it harder, but what would we have done in his place? And that is a question we’ve all asked and answered and forgiven him for. Now we beat ourselves up for not seeing it sooner. In the end, though, it’s important that we did see it. It could have been much much worse. I should have seen Kohr was not Kohr sooner, I should have interrogated Hab’rabi rather than questioned him, I should have used the transporters to eradicate the motes, and I should have blown up the shuttle with the away team in it. Sacrificed their lives for the rest. I didn’t, I chose to believe that saving lives and finding understanding were more important. Yes, you supported me in that decision, but it was mine alone and my responsibility. We could circle it like vultures over a dying cow, but that will get us nowhere.” She patted his arm again. “It is one thing to say ‘I wish I could have done more’ or to see after a better solution and then learn from it to become better. However, there is nothing to be gained by living in the should-haves.”
Mark nodded, listening. While she looked to be only a generation older than him, she was in fact many times his age. He would do well to take heed of her advice. It was hard-earned wisdom. She had yet to give him anything but wonderful counsel, and he suspected she always would. Even so, it was hard to let go, and he suspected it would take time and would be no easier.
“Oh Markus, I wasn’t forced by circumstances to choose you, to lean on you. I could have easily chosen Sigmundsson, Forgrave, or Semenza. Hell for all that I could have chosen Eldorin. We’ve worked and lived and loved together for centuries. He knows what I will do before I do. But I didn’t. They were not the right person in that situation, you were. I am very proud of you Markus. It was a tough foray for your first time in command and you did remarkably well. You will always wonder if you did right, that is the mark of a great commander. To always wonder and push yourself to make the best choices will make you someone that people will follow, not blindly, but with certainty and pride. Because they will know you value them. It doesn’t get easier, but the process becomes a steady foundation that will support you.”
The faith she chose to have in him at the time and hearing how proud she was of him through all of it stung like antiseptic in an infected wound. It hurt, just for a moment, but then eased followed by relief. It was cathartic in so many ways. Her approval mattered to him more than he ever expected and once again he found himself blinking away watery vision and doing his best to breathe through it.
She walked along in silence for a moment. The habitat deck of the star base was huge and there was plenty of time. She paused and turned to him, hugging him in a strong embrace counter to her ancient years. “El and I had always wanted many children, but after we lost Tabris we just couldn’t. It hurt too much. We missed out. So I am glad to call you part of my family, another son to be proud of.”
The embrace caught him off guard just for a second and then he found himself holding her back just as tight. Another son to be proud of. It sent him over the edge and the dam broke. Hot tears followed faster than he could get ahold of them and a quiet sob ripped from his throat as he held onto Rende for a moment. All military bearing or decorum of rank, time, and place forgotten. For a long moment, they stood together like that before Markus finally pulled back some and wiped at his face with his sleeve. “I’m sorry I–”
“Nonsense, Markus. I’d hardly expect anyone to go through all of what we have and not have some very strong feelings about it. Or in finding second family,” she said with a warm smile.
She squeezed his arm in an affectionate gesture. “I think if you feel you are barely keeping the water out, you should take a lesson from your young lady. I have heard Sharah speak often of the storms and the waves around her. Of trying to surf above them. But I have also heard her speak of letting the boat collapse. Frightening I am sure for her, but the raft is no longer viable, so she lets go and allows the current to take her. Also terrifying I would imagine. Eventually, though the current lets go and she finds another raft or she floats on her own for a while.” Rende glanced up at him with a grin. “Or even better, she has found herself held and sheltered by someone with a stronger boat. She may not have a boat of her own right now, but she is a stronger swimmer than all of us put together. She can lead you through.”
Coming around a curve she paused to let several people pass and then continued on, “And a piece of personal advice. Marry that girl before you both get stuck holding your breath unsure of how or when to move forward. I want more grandbabies!”
From across the deck Markus could feel Sharah baulk at the idea. It wasn’t that she was listening but they were both thinking very clearly about her, and that made their thoughts like a stab of light through the storm and be heard clearly. She didn’t comment but seemed to immerse herself in the waves to keep herself from intruding further.
Mark nodded. “I intend to. Maybe even before we get back from leave. I dunno. But I want to and intend to. As for a grandkid, that idea scares the hell out of her. She’s so terrified she’s going to pass on her condition to any kids she has. I don’t think it will happen. It’s pretty rare. And then there are my genes in the mix. So… ” He shrugged one shoulder. “That’s something we’ll just have to work out, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.”
Rende nodded, “Her gifts are… a temptation to those who crave power. Sharah is a pure heart. She only wants to help people, to do right by them. And she’s had plenty of opportunity to abuse it. But it makes her one of the best doctors in Starfleet.” Rende sighed thinking about the young woman whom had brought her family back together. “I know. She’s terrified of most things. She’s never really been told she can do it. Always ‘don’t do this or that or you aren’t strong enough.’ Now she has you and that’s all changed. She suffers and it breaks my heart. Being a mother I can understand her fear of passing on that suffering. I can hear it in her music, the hesitation, the heartbreaking pause, as she waits to be told again.”
Mark smiled. The way she related to Sharah and hearing her music. That was familiar, and for a moment he wondered if Sharah hadn’t picked up the metaphor from Rende. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard that metaphor from his captain, or so he thought. At the same time, it was fitting, and he supposed she was right. Peoples thoughts and emotions were constantly shifting, changing, resting, and beginning again. Very much like music. But more than that, Sharah had showed him that aspect. He’d interpreted it differently but now that things were settling with the Viking, he couldn’t un-hear it. But with Rende it seemed to be on a deeper level. She looked at the entire song and theme. He supposed he only heard it in the moment, measure by measure. He needed to fix that. “I’ll take it under advisement,” he said quietly, but earnestly. “And you’re right about the temptation. I’ve pointed out similar to her. I feel in some ways it was a misstep. She pulled away so hard. It rocked her to her core. Broke her some, I think. It hadn’t been a possibility she’d even considered. For me, it was simply theorizing, but I didn’t realize how much of an information hazard it would be for her.”
Rende nudged him slightly as they walked. “I think you confuse her a little, in a wonderful way. The way you accept and don’t judge. It’s good for her, and for you. Whatever you two may do with your lives, you are good together, the way your music meshes and harmonizes, flows and swirls together. You must call and tell me when she says ‘Yes.’“
When. Not if. She felt more assured than he did. “I think you’d have to be the first one I told. OF course my own relatives would be in the mix, but I think you’d have to be the first.” A soft, faint smile floated across his features, just for a few seconds before fading. “As for accepting and not judging, what other way is there? I actually find it strange that for societies built on things like logic and order, as well as openness, they are sometimes quite close-minded. Then again, what do I know? I’ve only had my abilities for around seven years. They would probably consider me to be a child in that regard. And maybe I just don’t know any better. But I choose not to live in fear, not of her. Anxiety and paranoia creates the thing they fear. Asking ‘what if’ and only looking to the negative is a spiral and a trap they fall into a lot.”
“As for the other, Tabris is a perfect example that blood doesn’t make a parent. Sharah has a lot of love to give, and she has hurt with the ache of not being able to give it away. She is a rare soul that has the capacity to truly love anyone with out definition or conditions. Just like you love each other.” Rende was maybe being a little invasive, poking her ancient nose where it didn’t belong, but the truth was she loved it, and she hoped that Markus and Sharah would create the kind of life together that she and El had. Not the same experiences (How boring would that be), but that same affection and love and partnership.
“Oh, I know. It’s one of the reasons why I love her. Just so long as she doesn’t give her heart away,” Mark said with a small smile. “Well, not to anybody but me.” In truth he wanted all of her, mind, body, and soul. But he wasn’t about to be that sappy or sentimental. Though he supposed Rende already knew anyway.
Rende gently swatted his arm. “Markus Woods don’t you play coy with this old woman. Anyone who sees Sharah with you knows she has already given her heart away to you. More importantly, you know it too. I know something else too.” She leaned in slightly, conspiratorially, “You gave her your heart too.”
“I know. It was a joke. A small one anyway,” he said with a wry smile.
Rende grinned and laughed like the giddy old grandma she was before turning serious. “Tabris told me, a little, about the way Sharah was when he first met her. She was very lonely, guarded, existing on the fringes. Using her training as a doctor to try and atone for something she never did wrong. But you’re pulling her slowly into the center, and it’s a new and a little frightening for her probably, and your little information hazard couldn’t have been that bad. She choose to come back to you, to lean on you, and love you.” She contemplated him a moment. “Intimacy is not a physical act Markus. ‘It’s about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them and bare your soul, and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’ - that’s intimacy.’ Now I’m not privy to your private conversations, nor do I want to be, but it’s easy to hear it, between the two of you, that you’ve created that safety for each other. And I am very happy for you.”
(OOC the above contains a quote but couldn’t find who said it)
“Intimacy is not limited to a physical act,” he corrected gently. “And I’m well aware. It’s pretty hard to lie to a telepath. It’s better to not try, and instead hope that they’re… able to accept all of you. If you’re not going to shut them out, that is. And with Sharah, she’s like an antenna that picks up everything. Rather than trying to dig in or invade. She is the one who is invaded all the time. The best I can do is be mindful of my own thoughts and feelings. I can’t stop her from hearing, but I can choose the music. Not that I want to hide anything from her that way either. But like her, I can listen too.” He lapsed into silence for a few moments as they walked simply letting the foot traffic pass them by and letting the hum of the station mentally and physically wash over and through him. Staying open for long periods wasn’t something he would have done a year or two ago. And even now he wondered if he shouldn’t close down. But he’d done it on the Viking mission to keep his finger on the pulse of the ship. It was necessary then, but not now. And he was no Ship’s Counselor.
Another turn in the corridor lead to the large central area full of food vendors and some shops dotted about like a small garden. They wove in and out and around. “So tell me Markus, you always talk about all the possibilities in front of you. What do you think you want to do. Don’t tell me a list, we both know you could do anything, but what do you see? Is command something you still want after everything?”
“Are you asking me what I want to be when I grow up,” he asked with a lopsided smile.
Rende laughed, “Yes, I am. What you do you really want to be when you grow up Markus? What will make you happy? Not what others might want of you, or what might benefit them but for you.”
“I suppose I’m something of a loyalist and an investigator. Others might consider me a guardian, and perhaps I do as well. Even though I didn’t go into Security. I could have. And still could. Researcher. Part of me likes the safety of routine. The chain of command. But at the same time chafes against it, seeks to be at the lead of that chain. At the end of the day, like so many other people I just want to feel safe, secure. And like I’ve got good people around me I can rely on. Push back the dark, keep others safe. Be reliable, competent. Capable. Perhaps a little adventure every day.” At that he smiled for a long moment. “When I was little I didn’t always feel safe, especially after my father disappeared. He seemed untouchable, and if… something could happen to him then it could happen to me. Right? But there was always something new, or interesting just around the bend, behind that tree, under that bush, or around that star.” He fell silent again, but clearly thinking. “I joined Starfleet to perhaps find my father. Not so much literally, but spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Not externally but within myself. And maybe… one day be an example for any kids I have. Be able to give them the safety and security I never had. If I can push back the dark, whether it be born of ignorance, fear, or oppression and leaver them with a brighter future, I want to.”
Rende listened quietly, to his words but also the music, her head tipped gently to the right to hear better. “You know you can always call me. Subspace communication is amazing these days, and with the new holoprojections I can be right there. But you don’t need me Markus. You can and have made huge strides for yourself, Star Fleet, in your field of study.” His music held a tinge of wrongness, sharp notes in discord with his melody. She pulled out a micro PaDD and proceeded to list off all those accomplishments, as well as those small seemingly minor correct decisions. The actual list was extensive, but the point was simply to remind him of his confidence. “You are a scientist, but I think you have forgotten what it means to be a scientist, at the heart of your purpose. And that is experimentation. You didn’t go into science to know the right answer, but to discover them. Somewhere along the line, Markus, you decided that you had to have the right answer the first time. Instead of the discovery of trying different things and seeing what happened. And you’ve lost the fun the excitement of being a researcher. You are able to see things before others, but that should be exciting, drive you to discover more, not live in a state of frozen indecision.”
Mark listened as she began to read off his accomplishments and achievements. The things he’d gotten right. And even the things he hadn’t, while outweighed by the others, he’d come through just fine. It was a little embarrassing. But … it was a mountain of evidence to support her theory. And as much as he wanted to, he couldn’t truly argue with it. And slowly, he began to relax more. His shoulders slowly dropped. When she reminded him of the review boards, and they had found no fault with him… It wasn’t just that he hadn’t screwed up. He’d done more, and probably better, than they could have at the time. Even though he’d felt in jeopardy, there were commendations in his file over it. The Medal of Valor wasn’t a consolation.
“So I’m sending you to OED V. It’s out on the frontier where you can be a cowboy scientist,” the idea made her grin. “The governor is not opposed to Star Fleet, but he doesn’t welcome their needless interference, so the colony is VERY independent. Lots of amazing work is happening there, and the most amazing thing is they are doing it on their own - the civilian and fleet personnel assigned to the colony, but they take no further help or interference. You’ll be on your own.”
The cowboy scientist comment made him smile. “Well I’ll have to break out my boots then,” he said wryly. The idea of being out there on the fringe was..Well… He paused at one of the windows looking out into space, looking at the stars. Part of it made his gut tighten up. But it was smaller, quieter now. “i could use a planet under my feet.” Another quiet little thought occurred to him then. “So you’re sending me out to the sandbox to go play.” It could have come off as sarcastic, and perhaps it was reductive. Bu but not inaccurate. OED V would be a good place to plant his feet and find his footing again and stand tall. A little older, a little more weathered, and a little wiser perhaps.
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