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[AU] Scuttlebutt

Posted on Mon Jun 22nd, 2020 @ 6:27am by Lieutenant Kalin Brennan-Griffin PhD & Lieutenant JG Vecon Fick
Edited on on Fri Jul 10th, 2020 @ 5:01pm

Mission: Divided We Fall
Location: Offices / Quarters
Timeline: immediately following "Boiling Over"

A Mission Post by Lieutenant Kalin 'Shae' Brennan-Griffin PhD & Lieutenant JG Vecon Fick
Mission: Divided We Fall
Location: Offices / Quarters
Timeline: immediately following "Boiling Over"
Thu Jul 26th, 2018 @ 2:32am


Lieutenant JG Vecon Fick made his way to the quarters that Shae and Cailus shared. He wanted to know what was really going on. He was tired of the rumors and misunderstandings. He knew the crew had already been on the verge of fracturing, and he hoped that maybe Shae would also be in the mood to discuss what had been happening lately on what was left of the USS Pandora.

Fick had changed a lot in the last year. Since the loss of Arnaldo he hadn't really been able to shake off the weight of the trama. He had heard at Academy of people that had seen combat and never been the same again and he had always sort of blown it off. He now felt like he had been wrong for assuming that those people were just weak. They weren't. It was painful. Even now, he still had nightmares and the sound of any sort of metal fatigue terrified him to the point of panic attacks. Of course, he didn't really say much about what he had been experiencing, preferring to keep his mouth shut and try and focus on his duties. It had made for a much less cheerful Fick. He was often suspicious and first to jump to conclusions now, possibly more reactionary because of his lack of proper sleep.

He stopped in front of Shae's quarters and knocked on the door. He waited patiently, putting one hand on the wall and leaning heavily on it. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to relieve the tired burning.

It took a moment for the door to slowly slide open, and even then it did not open all the way, just a crack so that Shae could peek out to see who was at the door. When she did not immediately see anyone, she opened the door a bit further and stuck her head out. That's when she saw Fick.

"Fick?" Shae said timidly as she half hid behind the door. "What are you doing here? You shouldn't be here, it's not safe," she cautioned with a shamed humility in her voice. And she was not looking well at all; her skin was flushed with fever and a heavy sweat on her brow and dampening her hair, and she looked so anxious.

Fick looked at her with a gaze that suggested he was too tired to be concerned about anything anyone on either side had to say or do. He sighed heavily. "So you're seriously not interested in talking about what happened today?"

"I didn't say that..." Shae replied, but she hung her head in shame; she really didn't want to talk about it, especially right now, but at the same time she didn't want to leave her friend in the dark, especially when it looked like he was hurting! "It's just that the Captain wants me isolated until... until I'm 'normal' again," she explained awkwardly. Then she sighed. "But there shouldn't be any harm in talking to you..." she finally relented, and opened the door the rest of the way to let Fick in.

Fick stepped through the now open doorway and sighed tiredly. "So... what is going on with you?" He looked around, not really looking for anything. He wanted their quarters to bring back memories, but it didn't. Lately, those memories had become harder and harder to hold on to. He had hope, although he wasn't sure it was hope any more, it was more like a quiet desperation.

"I'm... uhhhh," Shae started awkwardly, rubbing her hands together. "It's, um, my.... my fertility cycle," she admitted with a blush, then moved to close the door again. "It happens every 6 months or so. Don't worry about me jumping you, I'm only interested in Cailus, and since we've been here, he goes to bunk with Nyx when this happens so we don't get pregnant. But the isolation gets to me after a while so I went for a walk to get food and water, and when I did I ran into Crewman Kaleri and her baby, a-and... I-I sort of lost it..."

Fick sat down on a chair and looked at her. "I'm not worried... and her and that baby make me want to lose it on a regular basis. I mean I get it, but I don't get it at the same time. It's confusing and we're all frustrated. I just can't live my life here like I never signed up for Starfleet. I mean. Being here... hell, even being stuck here... doesn't not relieve me of duty or dismiss that agreement I made." He crossed his legs and threw one arm over the back of the chair.

"I feel the same," Shae said as she sat on the office desk, not because it was comfortable but because the surface of the desk was cool and was helping to moderate her body temperature. "Even still, I shouldn't have lost it like I did, even with my condition being what it is, I feel so ashamed... And now I'm worried that my actions will widen this gap between us and some of the others who have been pushing away from the Chain of Command. I hope I haven't damned us all."

Fick snorted. "We're already damned and this is the ride to hell. At least when they write my epitaph it'll say... "He was loyal and kept his word." I think the worst thing for me right now is how I'm going to feel if we manage to get back... are they still traitors? Or do we ignore what happened here? I'm not sure I can trust them again.I mean... how am I supposed to trust you, not you... like royal you... Joining Starfleet didn't include a disclaimer that said, well be loyal, unless you get trapped in an alternative universe... If there was a clause about when it was okay to abandon your duty then I sure didn't see it."

Shae sighed; she wouldn't say it aloud, but she agreed with him completely. "But at the same time, they're not exactly wrong either," Shae pointed out. "I know Nyx only has our best interests at heart, he wants for us to get home as quickly as possible, but we're not going to last much longer if we keep to our current pace. The others who are pulling away, they just want to survive, and honestly I can't fault them for that! It's a no-win situation because I agree with them in principle, but I'm loyal to the Captain and our oaths to Starfleet, and I do want to get home as soon as possible..."

"I do too and the more minds we have on getting there, the better it is, but some people..." He sighed, "I get it too... honestly though, whatever happens is going to happen. Maybe I'm meant to die here." He shrugged. "I'm not sure I care anymore..." Fick admitted.

"Fick..." Shae said sympathetically. "I know it's hard, but you can't give in to despair," she cautioned softly. "I know what it's like to be stuck in a cage for years with no hope in sight, but you can't give up; if I could find a way out, if Cailus could survive for decades in a failing escape pod... then we can do this, I know we can."

He nodded. "It's not really despair... Of course, I want to go home, but if I don't... I don't. I have to just take it moment by moment and they're not wrong, like you said, but their loyalties have left a lot to be desired. You don't have to do one or the other. Both are possible. So in that sense, "defecting" from our two decks is just childish." Fick shrugged again.

"Technically, they haven't defected, but after today..." Shae sighed; after today, the future was starting to look rather grim. "It was Aoife's blanket, I gave her some of Aoife's things since we didn't really have much to work with for baby supplies, and when she came around with the baby, I could smell Aoife and I just..." Shae released a shuddering breath as a tear slipped down her cheek. "But like you said, I have to take it moment by moment..."

Fick nodded. "I can see where that would be painful. I can't even think about that stuff anymore. I just have to act like all those people never existed. If I think about it... everything starts to crumble," he explained.

"Yeah, but when you're a parent, you can't think like that," Shae said. "Especially with Aoife... We were forcibly separated when she was born and she went through something terrible, and once I got her back and she started to bond with me, she would get terrified if I didn't check in on her often enough. She even went catatonic when Cailus and I had our first date! I can't help but worry about her and wonder if she managed to adapt without us. I don't have the luxury of pretending she never existed, not when I fought so hard to get her back..."

Fick nodded again. He didn't really have anything to say to that. "I'd just rather not be losing my mind all the time. I guess it's just a difference in coping mechanisms. I don't know what to do about recent developments though. Like you I think things are going to get much worse. We might not see better for a long time." He tried really hard not to think about K'Laus or Mauricio. He tried not to think about his parents. He did wonder what Starfleet had told them. It made him sick to his stomach. With the nausea came the panic. He sat forward in his seat and took several deep breaths, blowing them back out slowly. "I can't..." He swallowed hard.

Shae recognized the signs of a panic attack from all the times she'd had to deal with her own anxieties. She immediately hopped down from the desk and knelt in front of Fick; she took one of this hands and held it to help him feel grounded. "Breathe, breathe..." she said gently, even going so far as to breathe in time with him for solidarity. "Count down from ten, nice and slow," she encouraged him.

Fick did as he was told, squeezing her hand tightly, he closed his eyes and tried to breathe slowly. He counted down, feeling the panic ease off. He opened his eyes again as it passed and puffed out a controlled breath of air. "I'm sorry..." His voice sounded rough and far away to him, almost as if there was distance between where he was and his body.

"It's okay, you don't need to apologize," Shae said to him as she stroked his hand in an attempt to comfort him. "I've been where you are, sometimes I still find myself in a panic, so it's okay, I understand." It was then that she realized the heat and sweat from her hands might be making him uncomfortable, so she drew her hands back awkwardly. "And sorry about the sweat, it's just part of what I'm going through right now."

Fick shook his head. "I wasn't offended. I hadn't really noticed. I was a little distracted. I can't... I can't dwell on that stuff, even for a moment. Or this is my life," he said, meaning his panic attack. "So do you just have to wait for this to go away? Or is it like the Vulcan thing?" He wanted desperately to change the subject.

"Yeah, I should be fine tomorrow," Shae replied, just as eager to change the subject as well. "Are you okay now? I have a bottle of water if you think it will help."

He nodded. "If you can spare one. I'd like one and I'm okay. As okay as I'm gonna get, I think. I don't know what else to say about it except to just shove it all back down again." He took one last deep breath, letting it out again slowly. "Yeah, I'm gonna be okay. Are you going to be okay?"

"I don't know..." Shae said as she retrieved a bottle of water for Fick; normally she'd offer tea, but she didn't have any to give him. "I guess it all depends on how the Captain responds to my actions today. I expect I'll be disciplined, but somehow I get the feeling it won't help... I really messed up big time..." she said as she handed over the water.

Fick took the bottle and drank deeply. "Thank you. Well... what's the worst that he's going to do? Confine you to quarters? I guess he could demote you, but I think there's been enough of that already." He shook his head and leaned back in the chair again. "I'm not really sure how to solve the problem anymore... For a long time I knew... but now, things are so confused that it just doesn't make any sense any more."

"I hope he doesn't confine me to quarters," Shae replied with a sigh as she hopped back up onto the desk. "For one, I wouldn't be able to continue my work, trying to get us out of here, and also I'd go mad! I have a hard enough time confining myself during this time, being forced to stay here all the time would drive me insane, and I don't just mean that as an expression of exaggeration; I have lived in a cage before and it's unbearable! A demotion I could live with, even a court marshal once we got out of here, but I cannot live with confinement..."

"I'm sure he'd take that into consideration... I, of course, think that he shouldn't do anything to you." Fick shrugged. "She's... irresponsible and childish. She had it coming. To be honest, I feel like she deserved worse. If we had a brig, her and all of her people should be in it."

"Honestly, I can't say that I disagree with you on any point, but... We really need to try to stay away from such thoughts," Shae implored softly. "The crew is already becoming polarized, but we need to be working together! I know that may make me a hypocrite considering what I said to her in the Observation Lounge, but I wasn't in full control of my faculties, I wouldn't have said that under normal circumstances!" She released a heavy breath, then looked at Fick as she contemplated something. "If I am confined to quarters, will you come visit me? Seeing a friendly face may make it more bearable..."

"Of course I will!" Fick laughed a little. "I wouldn't let you suffer in here with nothing but Cailus' mug to look at," he joked. "And I totally agree with you. I think we should all work together, but I'm not the one that made the decision to step away from Starfleet and neither are you."

"Thank you, Fick," Shae replied, making an attempt to smile. "And if you ever need anything, you know I'm here for you too, right?"

Fick nodded. "Yeah..." he said. It didn't sound very convincing. "No one has time for problems. I really try not to bother anyone with what's bothering me. Unless it's useful in someway. I've become pretty paranoid." He felt like he could at least admit it.

"It's okay, that's not an unreasonable response to what we're going through," Shae said to console him. Truth was, she felt the same way, but she had learned to deal with that paranoia, even use it. "We'll get through this somehow, we have to..."

Fick nodded again. "It doesn't seem that we have much of a choice. The only other choice is to eat a phaser or find a way to get spaced." He snorted, as if he thought it was funny. He leaned back in the chair and dropped one arm over the back, crossing his legs in front of himself and sighed. "You know... when I joined Starfleet I never expected to end up like this... waiting to be killed by my crewmates in a tiny space..."

"No one ever plans for this sort of thing," Shae replied, then hung her head. "But it is my fault, I should have seen the signs that day in the Bridge, should have told Nyx we needed to leave, but I was so damned fascinated by what was happening...." Her voice broke and her body trembled as she tried not to break down into tears. "And now I've made everything worse by what I did in the Lounge! I did this to us!"

Fick snorted. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. You should have seen what? You're not a fortune teller. How the in the hells were you supposed to know what was going to happen or what the end result was going to be. I mean I'm sure I could find a way to blame myself too... Think about how much Nyx blames himself... Come on now. We were doing what we do and things went sideways." He shook his head. "You're no more responsible than Nyx or I am... and screw what happened in the lounge. We're confined in a small space with people we see everyday that we don't necessarily like with limited supplies and a lot of pressure to constantly come up with solutions to death. I think a little explosion of tension isn't an unreasonable thing... no one died."

Shae held herself around her midsection, nodding with hesitant acceptance, but it was still so hard not to blame herself. "But I'm the Scientist, it's my job to look for these kinds of things; I should have seen the wave it was even released, the neutrino build up was right there, why didn't I see it until it was too late?"

"Because hindsight is always 20/20..." Fick said flatly. "It's not like you're the only one on the ship and you don't know everything. Like I said, you don't have the power of foresight... how were you supposed to know. You've got fifty million other things you have to do as department chief so don't even go there. You've been dwelling on this crap? Why? Talking to me about feeling sorry for myself when you're all up in this?" He was giving her a hard time, but he was hoping that it would drive his point home.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Just that what you said... about waiting to die... It's how I feel everyday too, only if we find a way to survive long term, I get to watch all of you die... because I'm so damned long-lived. Surviving is both a blessing and a curse, and it makes my failure weigh all that much heavier on my conscience. If we can't find a way out, and I want to believe we can, I need to believe, but I'm a Scientist, and hearing your own doubt reinforces my pragmatic logic that we may never find that way; suicide may be the only way out, and thinking like that, I can't help but feel responsible," Shae replied angrily. "You know, I'm feeling pretty hopeless too, and hearing how inconsolable you are right now, it's hard to maintain the facade of hope; I can't always be the one consoling everyone, I have a breaking point just as everyone witnessed today. I see you dying inside a little bit more each day, Fick, but you're not the only one; we're all having a hard time."

Fick didn't even look amused. He shrugged. "Of course I'm not... but you're not going to tolerate my bullcrap any more then I'm going to tolerate yours. "I didn't say I was going to do anything about the way I feel. I just said I feel that way and if I can't talk to someone about it then what am I even doing here? I know we're all feeling hopeless. It's hard to maintain any sort of regular behavior, but it is what it is. We can be mad all we want... be hopeless all we want... regret this or that... but none of it changes anything."

"But don't you see? That's the point, Fick! If we can't hope, if we can't believe, then what is the point of even trying?" Shae said, hanging her head once more.

"I don't know what the point is in trying. Yet, here we are, still part of the crew and still trying. So, is that hope? I don't know, but we're still going. No matter what we do or don't have we have to stick together. Support each other no matter what." He stood and went to her. Kneeling in front of her he petted both sides of her face and tried to tip it up to look at him. "It's gonna be okay, no matter what. Hope or no hope we will adapt."

With a sad whine, she leaned into one of his hands for comfort. "I'm so tired," Shae said softly; and she didn't just mean emotionally, her cycle left her feeling bone tired.

"Then you should sleep... probably in the bed." He stood up again and offered her a hand up as well. "Look... we're gonna make it one way or the other. We've gotten this far, haven't we? Just rest. It'll be better in the morning." Famous last words. "I should get out of your hair anyway."

Shae took his hand and let him lead her to the cot where she lay down. "I'm trying to get us home, but it's too much... Too much, but I won't stop, I'll... get us home..." she said wearily. The weight of her responsibilities, her guilt, and the stress of the day had taken it's toll on her, she couldn't even keep her eyes open long enough to bid Fick a good night.



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