((STARDATE 239606.13 - Undisclosed Research Facility, Undisclosed Location - Holodeck 1))
Alora didn’t quite expect a dojo when she arrived, but that was what greeted her as the doors parted at 06.58 am. Teser was already there, ready and waiting. Normally, in the dojos where she had trained, holographic and real, there would be decorations on the walls, stands that held fake weapons, or sometimes real weapons. This was a stripped down version. A floor covered in dull red mats provided mild cushioning as she stepped onto it. The walls were white and bare, and there were no windows or doors. Nor were there mirrors, whereas all the dojos she had been to had at least one wall of mirrors to allow those who were learning to see their form and correct any mistakes.
It came as no surprise that he was already there. Teser didn’t seem like the kind of person to mess around. He was dressed comfortably, loose black pants, black short-sleeved shirt - his entire outfit matched his eyes and hair. Even his early morning stubble seemed to add to the darkness, as if he were trying to make sure he could disappear into the shadows at a moment’s notice.
The greeting was far too enthusiastic, and it was unnecessary. It was obvious she was there, not just because of the sound of the doors, or the fact that he could see her enter, but the very nature of her mind, the glow of it filled the room even before she had stepped through the doorway. To him in particular, she was bright. It was almost painful, and it continued to eat at him that Captain Davis hadn’t just sent her away. Well, so be it.
DeVeau: So, h…
Kalin lifted a finger, and immediately the science officer went silent. He shook his head, then turned to fully face her. She seemed undaunted, just confused, a single eyebrow arching upward.
Teser: You will not talk. I will talk. Captain Davis warned you yesterday, I’m going to warn you again.
He drew closer so that he could stare down into her eyes, ebony into emerald, his expression tight.
Teser: This is not a game. I will not pull punches, I will not go easy on you. I will do my best to teach you ways to protect yourself, but today I will determine whether or not you stay or go by your response. Do you understand?
She didn’t answer right away. For a moment, her eyes searched him, searched his face, and her expression twisted down into a frown.
DeVeau: Why are you so determined to get rid of me?
Teser: I’m here to get rid of the weeds. I will not allow anyone to compromise anything we’re trying to accomplish here. What we’re doing here is classified, and you are easily compromised. Starfleet can’t allow that to happen. I can’t allow that to happen. Either you learn how to resist telepathic attacks, and it’s already documented that you haven’t been able to, then you’re a danger to Starfleet. If you can’t effectively contribute and keep classified information classified, if you’re going to be a liability, then you’re out.
DeVeau: I’m not a liability.
Teser: You’re going to have to prove that.
She took a step back, her green eyes flashing, leveled at him, unyielding. Gone was the jovial demeanor that had entered. In its place was a determination that he hadn’t expected - not that it made a difference.
DeVeau: Then let’s get started. Kalin smirked and shook his head.
Teser: Don’t be in such a hurry. You must also know that there will be no barriers between us. Whatever you are thinking, whatever secrets you have, they will not be secret from me. A variety of techniques are used when attempting to get through to someone in this fashion. Your fears will be more than just dreams or distant memories. You will experience them as if they were here. Now. It will seem as if you can not only hear and see them, but touch and smell. I will do my best to teach you how to see beyond what your mind is telling you is real, to get past that and see it for what it really is, but as soon as you’ve had enough, you tell me to stop.
DeVeau: And if I tell you to stop?
Teser: Then you will be put back on your ship.
In other words, Alora would fail. There was no room for failure. What little she had been told about what was being done was exciting. Then there was the fact that he would be teaching her a very important skill. How valuable would that be? Alora had already too much happen for that not to be enough of a motivator to continue. At that particular moment, however, the most powerful reason was the pure fact that he had no confidence in her. She had to prove him wrong.
DeVeau: I see.
Kalin stepped back to put more distance between the two of them. DeVeau remained where she was, still unfazed, still unyielding. She would soon see what she was getting herself into.
Teser: Then let’s begin.
He disappeared. Teser was just suddenly not there. No glow of gold or silver had surrounded him to indicate there was a transporter that had locked onto him and beamed him elsewhere. A moment later, the dojo disappeared, and she was in darkness. She turned, but everywhere she turned was blacker than night, a thick, inky depth that surrounded her. Then, from that darkness, Teser emerged and stood before her, his face and arms the only thing she could distinguish from the black.
DeVeau: What is this?
Teser: This is your mind. Part of your mind, Only a surface, however, where nothing has manifested. It’s just us. This is where we begin.
DeVeau: What do I do?
Teser: Your task is to try and push me out. Start by focusing on me. Feel my presence. You have to sense me in order to ‘touch’ me. If you can’t sense me, you can’t push me out, and you can’t prevent me from digging deeper. So concentrate. Distinguish what part is you. Separate that, hold on to it. Until you can do that, until you can immediately sense something or someone else that is trying to slip in, you’ll be vulnerable.
Distinguish. Surely Alora could do that. After all, there was no one like her, and she had some experience thanks to her relationship with Saveron. In silence, she did as she was told, focusing first on herself. Who was she? Who was there beside her? Then she felt him, a sense of another presence. Definitely different from the mind she had felt before, not hostile, but not necessarily desired either. But how to get rid of him? She had never tried to push Saveron out, he had always been welcome. In this case, however, she had to learn how to do so, especially if whomever it was had a detrimental agenda. She focused on that presence, on Teser. Then, in an experimental attempt, she imagined pushing him through an imaginary door. As soon as she had, she found herself in the room they had been before, Teser standing in front of her.
Kalin had to admit he was surprised at how quickly she had accomplished the task. He’d known some people to not even get half as far in a full day. Still, there were other issues with her that put them at risk - and he’d barely begun. More was in store.
DeVeau: Now what?
Teser: Now, we do it again - and it gets harder.
It did get harder. Much harder. Worse than Teser had anticipated - for he had never expected to wind up in the infirmary. Yet, two hours later, there he was, sitting on a bio bed, his head feeling as if it were splitting wide open. Alora lay on the bio bed in the stall next to his, unconscious. That had been his fault.
Davis: What happened?
Eudora practically stormed into sickbay, uncertain whether to be angry, but definitely worried. Kalin craned his neck slowly to look at her, then winced at the pain such movement brought.
Teser: Things didn’t go as planned.
Davis: I can see that. I didn’t tell you to put her in sickbay!
Teser: She’ll be fine. I simply knocked her out.
In truth, he hadn’t intended to, but her own reaction had caught him by surprise, and it had been a gut response. A gentle response compared to some things he could do, but a reaction never the less. Had she been a true enemy, the consequences would be have been far worse. One of the nurses pressed a hypospray against his neck and the headache faded away. Teser slipped off the bed to his feet, ignoring the nurse’s protest that she wasn’t finished. Eudora’s displeasure was far too palpable and it threatened to bring on another headache despite the medication. She stood there, fists jutting into her hips, tight expression trained on him. Davis: I suppose this means I need to find a new candidate.
Teser: No. We’ll resume training at the same time tomorrow.
That displeasure immediately shifted to surprise and Eudora’s hands dropped and she stared over at the prone science officer.
Davis: Really? What changed your mind?
Just before he reached the doors, Teser stopped and looked back.
Teser: She was perseverant. ::He paused for a moment, then added.:: And...she fought back.
With that, he stepped through the doorway, reaching up to wipe the bit of blood that trickled from his nose.
-- Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau Science Officer Starbase 118 Ops M239008AD0