(( A bar, Promenade second level, Deep Space Nine ))
Blood was dripping from the man’s arm. Sival noticed it while the two were walking toward a table in a dark corner of the room. It wasn’t lost on Sival that this table was suspiciously placed away from the other tables, and that there was conveniently no lighting overhead. Despite this, Sival could see the wound. His eyes were sharp, being part Vulcan, and he was trained to notice such things.
Sival: You need medical attention.
Man: ::sitting down:: Nah, don’t be ridiculous! It's just a little scrape. Besides, a little blood lost is the price for playing the game!
The man reached into the inside of his jacket and pulled out a handkerchief. Sival noticed it was stained red, appearing to be dried blood. The man wrapped the cloth around his arm just above his left wrist.
Sival: That is not a medically-sound procedure for treating your wound.
Man: Procedure!! HA!
The man laughed loudly. He motioned to the chair opposite him at the table.
Man: Please, do have a seat, doctor.
Sival thought he should just leave right there and continue on with his day. After all, he was on holiday, and this day in particular was marked in his calendar as a ‘spa day’. An Arkelian mud bath awaited him on the promenade.
However, Sival was curious. He couldn’t just leave this alone. He was intrigued by what seemed like a puzzle waiting to be solved.
Sival pulled out the chair and sat down cautiously. He looked the man directly in his eyes. His pupils were a radiant blue. They shone in contrast to his otherwise drab appearance.
Sival: I have joined you at this table. Per our agreement, you promised to introduce yourself.
The man laughed again for several seconds. It began as a roar that tapered down into a light chuckle.
Man: I promised! Well, yes, I suppose I did. But first, tell me, have you fully recovered?
The man leaned forward, scrutinizing Sival’s face. He moved his head around to view it from different angles. At one point, he came so close that Sival could smell the man’s breath.
Sival was genuinely confused.
Man: Yes, Yes! Recovered from your emotional imbalance… and hallucinations!
The man was ostensibly referring to the trouble Sival had controlling his emotions about a month ago, as well about the recent incident with the Juneau. At the time, Sival was losing his hold on his emotions, to the point where even minor ones would overwhelm him. Then there was the appearance of his departed wife, Emily, that summoned the most painful wound of his life. He had struggled to repress them, and with the additional strain of the hallucinations, he eventually lost the battle. Unable to determine what was real, as well as having the knowledge of what unchecked Vulcan emotions could do, he requested to be relieved of duty. He was no longer able to perform his tasks. He had even become a potential liability to his crewmates.
But how did he know any of this? And how much of ‘this’ did he know? Sival had an irresistible urge to find out.
Sival: Can you please specify?
The man paused for a few moments. The silence was uncomfortable, even for Sival. Finally he spoke, hoarsely and almost in a whisper.
Sival blinked. That confirmed it.
Since it was apparent the man already knew about the incident, at least in part, Sival initially found no reason not to discuss the matter. He placed his hands in front of him on the table, clasping them together, interlocking his fingers. He took a deep breath before speaking.
Sival: I have indeed recovered...
Sival hesitated before continuing. Would he tell him that the 30th anniversary of his wife’s death triggered an emotional imbalance that physically damaged neural pathways in his brain? He reconsidered and decided not to, leaving his remark hanging, unresolved.
Man: Good! GOOD! I’m so glad to hear it! Now, I have something I want to show you.
Sival: You have yet to introduce yourself.
Man: Yes! Well, I am a friend, as I said. My name’s Grumley. Michael Grumley. That’s me!
The man smiled widely. He pantomimed bowing, as if he were receiving applause from an adoring audience.
Sival: Very well, Mr. Grumley. And what is your business with me?
Man: Business! Yes, that’s a good word. Business!
He paused and looked deeply into Sival’s eyes. Quietly, he continued.
Man: I have something you might like to see.
The man again reached into a pocket inside his jacket. He pulled out a small box, no bigger than the palm of his hand. It was unremarkable, just a beige-colored box.
He placed the box in the middle of the table. He looked around, and once he was satisfied no one was watching, he slowly removed the box’s lid. Sival slowly bent over and peered inside.
Sival: Why are you in possession of this?