Posted on Wed Aug 14th, 2019 @ 8:38pm by Lieutenant Commander Maralen Seitha
Episode 1: A Lesson in Humility
Timeline: Just after "Words Worth Regretting"
Maralen sat beside the fire, poking it occasionally with a stick to keep it burning. She had told him to tend the fire, and he was, but he was also trying to process what had just happened. He had tried to be rational, reasonable, point out why going on a long hunt for other crew was likely not only pointless but inefficient and dangerous. But Charlotte had not been listening to him. Worse than that, she had not been telling him anything.
She is not required to tell you anything. The voice of the Executive said coldly in his mind. It was only that part of his mind trained by the Realm that pointed these things out, but it always took the form of the Executive’s voice as he was the ‘face’ of the organization. You forget the Lessons so quickly?
Maralen growled softly, but it was at that part of his mind. I forget nothing! But Starfleet is not the Realm, and she is not you!
The voice chuckled, but the sound was cold, empty. There is no difference, Seitha, it chastised him. One commanding presence or another. As you obeyed us, you should obey her. Never question; just do as commanded.
Maralen stared into the fire. Was that true? Was his life just one set of controlling forces after another? Was he just her tool as he had been the Realm’s and the Singers’?
No! He refused to believe that she saw him that way! That look in her eyes when he had submitted had told him that. No, she was not like Them!
And yet she keeps secrets from you. The voice taunted. She follows the interloper instead of talking with you. Why do you suppose that is?
Maralen thought about that for a moment. Who was this Cecile anyway? She was not Defiant crew; he knew who all of them were, had read their dossiers. No, she was something else. Perhaps she was a part of the game, a test of a different breed. Perhaps Typhon had put her here to test the bonds between he and his captain. She had certainly been doing that so far. And it seemed to be working.
“Sshrral…!” he hissed to himself as he pushed the sticks around in the fire with the stick in his hand. But even if that were true, that didn’t account for his behavior. Why had he behaved in the way he had? It couldn’t just be because Charlotte had refused to tell him her plan; that was strategically sound considering the situation and where they were, and the fact that the Unknown Element — that was how he thought of Cecile now — was nearby. No, that was not enough to make him snap. So why had he?
Analyze. The Executive’s voice coaxed in his head.
Typhon brought us here, wherever here is. He created these scenes, or used them. He kept us all apart in small groups, the captain gods only knew where. And when I did find her, it was with someone I didn’t know, and they seemed like… friends or at least comrades. How sshrralling long was she wherever he had her to form a bond with this woman?!
Your focus drifts. Flawed.
Maralen growled again. This whole situation is wrong somehow. It feels wrong. All of it. And then there is Typhon… manipulating everyone. And I’m powerless to stop him!
And the lightbulb went off in his head. It was the feeling of powerlessness. He’d felt it on Ledara when he’d held his mother’s head in his lap as she died and watched the life go from her eyes. He’d felt it when the Realm had abandoned him to the ThoughtSingers. He’d felt it when the Singers had taken control of his form and slowly, methodically killed Arianna using his hands. And here he was again, powerless to help his crew. And Charlotte was holding back with him. He strategically understood why, and even agreed with it. But the part of him who felt as though he was being once again manipulated by everything in the universe hated it. And so he had reacted, tried to push her to give him something.
And he’d gotten that. Not what he’d wanted, but she had given him something. She had stripped away all of his armor and laid him bare. And he had done what had always served him, what had always protected him from the wrath of those things more powerful than he. He had surrendered. He had given them what they asked him for. Compliance.
But was that really what Charlotte Reynolds wanted? He seriously doubted it. He felt the self-loathing begin to settle over his mind. He had surrendered, become the Tool. But he was not their tool anymore, and she was not them. He’d been wrong, through the whole conversation, driven by something old and unresolved. And that was not fair to her… or the crew.
The truth was that he did care what happened to them. He did wanjt to save them. That was the problem. He couldn’t see how he could. He felt powerless to help them, to save them. And he had tried to strategize, tried to think of a way out of this. But all he had done was put a wedge between himself and the only other person who could possibly help him save them.
He sighed. When she came back, he would apologize. He had decided.
He poked the fire again, but this time, he was not morose. This time, he was determined.