((Hi, folks. This is going to be a rough few sims. As always, everything is entirely IC; I mean it even more than usual this time. This touches on some darker themes, so if you’re not feeling it right now, don’t feel compelled to read right this minute. I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass. I've broken it up for more digestible consumption. My thanks to Jesse/Lt. Waters for her insights into Waters’ past life and character.))
((Deck 3, Sickbay, USS Arrow))
The channel closed, the progress report provided and concluded, and Shayne ought to have been grateful. His diligent staff was attacking the problem with their usual vigor and ingenuity, and if he knew them, a solution would be available within a very reasonable period of time.
But he wasn’t grateful. He wasn’t much of anything, really. He wasn’t himself. He wasn’t someone else. He was sinking, fast. And he couldn’t pull himself back up.
He staggered, leaning against the biobed, as his mind finally began its rebellion. His mind? Waters’ mind? It didn’t matter. Nothing did. He couldn’t even gain the traction necessary to command his actions. He felt himself go weak, years of training and decorum and grace under fire failing him in an instant. Her heart was pounding roughly, as if trying to supply blood to a body twice its normal size, but Shayne knew, in whatever logical part of his mind that facts and reason and recognition had been shunted to, that it was nothing to do with size. It was his thoughts, and they were encroaching where they oughtn’t.
Shayne (through Waters, with crown): Assssssssymetrical, inverted, phased, stable… universal…
A pattern he’d set for himself, a stopgap, a mental bluescreen. Rather than crash, or collapse, or be swallowed as in the past, he’d set himself words, phrases, completely extraneous information to say, to think, to overwhelm whatever fear or panic he was forced to contend with in the moment. They were so ingrained that they now happened instinctually, but there was nothing he could do to stop them from being spread about the room via the crown like so much cognitive diarrhea.
His mind, opened. Opened to the world. The place where every doubt, evil thought, damnable influence, unkind remark, bigoted opinion, lecharous fantasy and contemptable ideal of cowardice was processed, branded, set aside and dissolved with reasonable, passionate introspection. It was a forge, his mind, not particularly gifted in academia but especially disciplined against any outside incursion. Now, the incursion was all but grafted to him- a gaping conduit for every hateful ideal to linger, to emerge, to spread and steal away his good name, his strength, his resolve…
He opened her eyes.
The biobed was still there, and the panic still cleaved his rationality in two, but the walls of sickbay had disappeared. In their place was a ready room- his ready room, abandoned for some unknown purpose at some unknown date. His collar, though not visible to him, only held three pips, and he knew this because of the face being made by the Andorian on the computer terminal.
Thy’Quirn: =/\= Do you realize what this has done? Do you realize the damage you’ve caused? The failure this marks you for? =/\=
He couldn’t remember if the admiral’s words had been real. Only the feelings existed for Shayne in that moment. And those feelings had been real. Chaos. Pure, unbridled chaos, fighting against order and creating even more friction and discord in his mind. He’d swallowed the ball of antipathy at the time. It was his responsibility.
But here? Nothing of Shayne really existed, nothing he valued, nothing he wanted. And so that swallowing failed. He screamed silently, and her crown did the work of a thousand enraged patrons.
It screamed for him.
Shayne (through Waters, with crown): DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDIE! Inc-c-c-c-ompitent defective creature! Bastard! Lazy, useless, foul-
Medical technician: Ma’am!?
Shayne whirled his diminutive form around. He was back in Sickbay, trembling and sweating and shaking like an addict. The medical officer looked at him strangely, with concern. It was vile. Repulsive! He didn’t need it. Didn’t deserve it! He’d bear it on his own, as he always had!
Shayne (through Waters, with crown): Don’t need you! Get away get away get away get away get away ANGELS GOOD PEOPLE NOT FOR ME GET AWAY GET AWAY GET AWAAAAAAAAAAAY-
He fought off the hands that tried to comfort him and staggered off, barely able to put one leg in front of the other.
The doors hissed open.
The corridor had left, taken itself away for the next scene. He was on a planet somewhere, short as ever, towered over by the sheer enormity of evil surrounding him. Across from him were People, not just any; to his… her…? side were comrades. Oddas? Captain Oddas Aria? What business did she have running a ship with her wife as security chief? How could anyone function like that? Conflict of interest, conflict of goals- illogical, stupid, insane, negligent-
Oddas: Lieutenant! Hold your fire! That’s an order!
He didn’t. She didn’t. There was a plan between them, she knew that- a plan that involved Security Chief Irina Pavlova, self-appointed bad-ass and security hazard, doing something crazy and wacky and totally unreasonable behind enemy lines. They were wrong. It was wrong to risk them all on such a stupid gambit. She didn’t trust Pavlova. He didn’t trust Oddas. Raising the weapon felt euphoric.
Oddas: Lieutenant! Stand down!
But the beam had already left the emitter, streaking an orange path toward the explosive materials that the People, genetic purists and zealots, were currently hiding behind. The conflagration warmed the courtyard, and though the light of the detonation was too great to pick out individual figures, the combined memories of Shayne and Waters knew that seven People had been slaughtered.
No mercy, no shift, no change- just a different venue, appearing faster than could be interpreted. The lecture. The telling-off. The reprimand. Swallowed. Accepted. The rage festered, and again, the swallowing failed. They rounded on her, the Bajoran figment of memory.
Shayne (through Waters, with crown): FAILURE! Fool! Preaching, absorbed pretender! You've made all of us vulnerable! You! Us! Your wife, your children! All of us! WHY?!
Oddas’ figment simply grew neutral in expression, and vanished, leaving-
Captain Randal Shayne