Shayne bumped his new body into the midriff of a mildly perturbed Vulcan woman.
She wore blue, and the pin at her collar designated her a petty officer in the science division, but to Waters’ eye, and the mind of Shayne, she wore white, billowing robes of Vulcan’s arid past and present. She sat beside her/them/it and tendered caution.
Vulcan woman: This will require patience. Time. You are not designed for such discipline.
Chloe had nodded, and Shayne did too, staring at the crown before her and trying her best to use the device that would permit her a voice. Nothing sounded. Nothing disrupted the quiet of the meditation cave, or the institute of medical marvels that Vulcan had constructed over centuries of barbaric sand.
Wrath, thick and vulgar, wrapped his mind, and he turned to the Vulcan woman that sat placidly and howled at her.
Shayne (through Waters, with crown): Will you listen when you hear me? Hear me now! What can my voooooooooice say that my face doesn’t? I want to sing! Scream! Laugh! Who are you to teach me that, you conceited worm!? Attack! Kill me! Try it! I dare you! I want your heart to boil!
The Vulcan woman did nothing at first, but then a smile appeared, and clawed its way up her cheeks. From nowhere she pulled out a lirpa, and held it in the stance of a savage. There was another lirpa at hand. Shayne dived for it, and brought it before him just as the first strike crashed across his hands and resonated to the tip of his spine.
Strength he shouldn’t have had propelled him to their…? feet, and he swung at her for all his worth, the blunt end careening toward her ribcage.
She disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving only the sound of ringing laughter behind.
Shayne screamed, and hammered the wall of the meditation cavern, beating upon it until his hands felt warm and wet-
-her knuckles bled slowly, cowed into submission, and Shayne pulled back the wounded limbs and stared at the corridor he’d just punched into disorder. Her hands ached insistently, and a pang of guilt wracked him. But there was more, more to see-
-Little Miss Robot. Flat Tone Waters. The names rang in her ears as the surroundings grew colder, crueler, more hostile. They surrounded her, the young children, laughing and delighting in her fragility, her perceived weakness. The people she wanted to be friends with, the people she just wanted to appreciate and respect and be recognized by were… devouring her spirit. Her soul. Her hands curled up, and she lashed out, driving her tiny fist into one of the boys closest to her. He curled up and held his nose as it slowly dripped blood, and the rest of the people ran away, terrified of Little Miss Robot, and rightly so…
...except… she hadn’t punched them. Shayne had. The memory was only as strong as the source, and it collapsed into the truth. Waters had ran, stumbling away. Classes started again, but she did not return to school that day. She ran to her room, began to weep, pulled her knees in close and just sobbed until her cheeks were chapped…
...he was walking, meandering along the corridor. He knew not which deck he was on, or where he was going. There was relief for an instant; the memories that had flooded his thoughts had faltered, for but a moment. But there was no real relief, for he knew that they would return. They always returned. But the question was when-
-and he saw it, clawing its way toward him like a nightmare given from. The antiseptic smell, the cool air, the carpet beneath him, the comfort. No one should be here. No one who belonged at the Academy should be here. But here he was. And he was ready to die.
The seal above the desk before him glistened in the early afternoon sun, but the room was dim. Darkened by memory or actuality, Shayne couldn’t recall, couldn't' care. The edges of thought flickered, and he tried to remember why he wanted to know what happened here next- the ignorance that he was so dedicated to avoiding was nothing short of bliss here.
The sirens were still sounding, and he looked down, and his gnarled hands were covered in grime and ash. There were people, the commandant of the Academy who had recommended Shayne try for something better. There was his squad leader, his name so familiar that he couldn’t think of it now.
Shayne: Not here. Not here, please, Christ have mercy…
Tears slid down his face, and the people around- the commandant, the squad leader and others didn’t seem to note. They might have cared. The screaming wasn’t helping, so he stopped listening to it, even as it continued its forlorn braying tone.
Commandant: Cadet Lucas may yet survive, Mr. Shayne. The medical technicians are hopeful.
The commandant spoke softly, but Shayne simply stared, unable to stop the tears. He didn’t care.
Shayne: Aye, sir.
He wouldn’t even be here now. But he’d been told. Told the opportunity was too great. The chance was too coveted. How could he let it go? He would be happy to- another, better pilot could take his place, and take it well. But they wanted him. They wanted what he brought- enthusiasm and a clear head. Oh, god above- a clear head. That’s how they endorsed him. If the agony weren’t so putrid, the irony would make him howl like an animal.
Now he was at the launch area, his heart pounding from having dashed across campus to make it. His uniform didn’t fit right, the hot San Francisco sun beat down on him, and he didn’t want to fly today. Not today. But they needed to practice. Lucas stood there, beckoning him closer.
Shayne: Get in your craft- we gotta go!
They were late, already late, so late. Later than would ever matter, and still later than that. There was no ground to make up. This memory was late.
Lucas pointed to his craft.
Lucas: But… my stabilizer assembly! Remember, I’m not confident-
Shayne: I will examine it LATER! Get in the damn craft before we’re declared AWOL.
Had he been so cruel? Had be been so heartless to Lucas? Had he bullied him into that shuttle? He’d checked the stabilizer assembly on his shuttle no less than four times that week- each time it looked better than the last, and still Lucas insisted on having his squadmate examine it. He was sick of it.
Lucas looked balefully at Shayne as he climbed into the cockpit. Shayne watched, despite the huge rush. His squadmate secured himself, and Shayne began to taxi, Lucas by his side. Shayne glanced over and raised a thumbs-up.
The battered, bleeding, deformed, broken body of Lucas returned the signal.
Shayne screamed again.
The party had been going on for hours now, and though Shayne rarely left the campus, he couldn’t turn down this sprightly little Marine officer candidate down again.
Crowely: You got an offer to join the flight team!? Insane- when do you start?
Shayne: I’m… I’m not all that interested, to be honest. I’ve got enough on my mind.
Crowely looked at him, disgusted.
Crowely: Seriously? That’s your excuse? Whatever, man. You probably couldn’t handle it anyway.
Shayne’s soul left his body as the stein of beer slowly descended toward the table.
Shayne: Please don’t say that.
Crowely: Why not? It’s the truth, isn’t it? What a fracking joke. Too much of a weakling to even try to represent your team, your academy.
Shayne, even in the memory, shook.
Shayne: Now that’s enough.
He was quiet. Dangerously, intensely quiet.
Crowely: Man, if I were in your shoes, I’d jump on it. I’d take it. Because I could. I’d be the best damn pilot this rotten place ever saw, because I’d put my mind to it. Nothing would stop me. I’d fly better than you. And I’d BE better than you. And you could thank me for bringing honor to the Academy you failed.
Shayne raised the beer stein, and smashed it across the stocky woman’s head.
She went flying, and Shayne leapt upon her, crazed into madness. The stein had chipped, and now, with each successive blow to his comrade, it cracked further. The crowd stopped and screamed, but Shayne refused to cease, quietly beating Crowley insensate. And he loved it. He enjoyed it. Years of fury over this very incident, exacted in an instant. It was almost like…
Crowely: And you could thank me for bringing honor to the Academy you failed.
...like that wasn’t how it had happened.
She was beside him again, getting closer to him, challenging him. Trying him. Threatening him. The beer stein shook in his hand. He wanted to use it. He could. He would end this contemptible waste of space, and silence her for all of time.
But that was not the Starfleet way.
And he was a servant of Starfleet.
So instead, he looked her square in the eye.
Shayne: Received and understood.
He’d tried out. Succeeded. Hated it. Found passion for it. Started to enjoy it. Found friends, or at least comrades.
And then he was back in the air conditioned office, and the squad leader turned to him, and said the most painful words Shayne could remember.
Captain Randal Shayne