((Room 04-0201 (Sherlock's Quarters), USS Excalibur-A))
It had been some hours since Aine was transported back to the Excalibur unexpectedly. Unless that concussion lasted longer than she thought, it definitely hadn't been three months. Which could only have meant one thing: the crew left on the Excalibur discovered the same thing they had down on Demes II. She'd given her debrief, but as happens, was told nothing in return. And she would know nothing until the official reports were filed.
They'd found the Betazoid and learned he'd been there for many years. That the Admiral was responsible for that too. He was a pawn in some twisted game, they all were. There were many things that happened on Demes II that Aine was not proud of. From the word go, her faith in the Prime Directive felt violated. And some of her less proud moments did the same. She wondered if there would be repercussions for her, for the Commodore, for the rest of the teams on Demes II. It didn't matter. Whether they came or not, the questions would. And her answers wouldn't change one way or the other. She would stand by her choices.
The blue tint of her skin and facial markings of the Demesians were long gone. The furs she wore, soaked by an unfortunate response from the Cleric, were turned in to be reclaimed by the ship's replicators. Save for one piece. The knife she'd replicated based on Dr. Boeschg's research. It wasn't an actual Demesian artifact, but it would serve as a reminder for the experience. A reminder of what Starfleet is, or should be, were it not for people like Admiral Regillensis. Maybe she'd even take Doctor Adea, Genkos, advice and put it on display in her office. It would be a good start.
Back in her quarters, she'd gotten cleaned up. It was nice to finally have tea that didn't taste like the mats in the Security Departments training center. Last leave, she was able to work out a replicator recipe for her favorite tea. It had previously only existed on the Resolution. And since she never uploaded it to a starbase for the Federation database, it disappeared with the ship. The warmth and bitterness offset ever so slightly by the sweetness of the milk, felt like home. Much like the hum of the deckplates below her bare feet.
She stood, cupping the mug of tea, wearing nothing but the thick robe that some would describe as pink but she liked to think of as "light salmon," staring out the transparent aluminum windows of her quarters. The starboard side of the ship offered no view of Demes II, just a slightly hazy from the reflective glow of the planet view of the night sky as the Demesians would see it come nightfall.
The Demesians. She took a long slow sip of her tea, ignoring the slight burn. It was nothing compared to the "burn" on Demes II. The burn that will be the inevitable. The damage is done to Demes II. And she knew there'd be talks about pulling up all the Federation equipment. Whether left or taken, Demes II would be in chaos. She knew there would be those who weren't there talking about the Prime Directive. To her, there was only one answer: help them. Allow those who want to move forward, move forward. Allow those who want to keep the old ways, keep them. She thought about her own home, not her now home the Excalibur, but Ireland.
Ballinaclashett was a small village. Farmers. And just down the way, fisherman. There wasn't a hover transport to be found. Nary a replicator in any house. Farming equipment was the one exception. Just four hours walk north, and you hit the city of Cork's shuttleport. Cork itself, a modernized city. Tall buildings of white aluminum and reflective golden glass rise among the ancient buildings below. Having both wasn't impossible. But she knew the Federation probably wouldn't see it that way. And they wouldn't listen to a lowly Lieutenant who was in Security. It was a part of the job they'd studied. Past cases. Cases that helped to establish the rules and regulations. Maybe Demes II would be that way one day, maybe not. She just hoped the ego that was what Starfleet could be, was put to the side, just once for the Demesians were mere victims.
Looking out the windows, she focused on one star as she sipped her tea. She imagined it was Sol, though she couldn't be sure where it actually was. Her mind sped towards it, past the rings of Saturn, through the asteroid belt, onto Earth, ending on the still mostly green isle. Her shoulders suddenly slumped and she set the mug and what little was left of the contents down on the table in the living room. If someone asked, she'd say she was just tired. But it was so much more. There was anger, for the Admiral. Sadness for the Demesians. Disappointment in what she'd come to believe and been taught. And even through it all, hope. Hope that the right thing would be done.
The familiar chime that was sometimes an annoyance was a welcome sound.
Lieutenant Aine Sherlock
Chief of Security