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Duty Bound

Posted on Tue Aug 24th, 2021 @ 9:32am by Mauricio Arnaldo & Ensign Aenardha Sh'vastarth

Mission: The Gauntlet
Location: Paradise
Timeline: After "Parting Gifts"


With the final meeting between the Resistance and the Pandora wrapping up, the Starfleet crew were slowly making their way back to their vessel, while the Paradise team were also leaving to settle their own plans. Mauricio Arnaldo saw the crowd of officers heading to the transport cubes and felt a pang of guilt. He had developed a sudden, but strong, connection with the Pandora's Ensign Sh'vastarth through their mind link on Carnwennan Station, but he hadn't given the Ensign much time while they were on Paradise. He felt he had neglected their friendship and feared he had hurt Aenardha's feelings by doing so. Although they had attempted a brief conversation during the farewell party, Mauricio had felt it was awkward and forced. He didn't really get a chance to explain himself.

Knowing it could be some time before he saw the Pandora and Aenardha again, he decided to chase after her.

"Ensign!" Mauricio called out, hoping to catch her before she entered the transport cube.

Aenardha stopped, almost in her tracks, and allowed the few she was following to continue ahead. She denied herself further use of their vision and tapped into the newcomer’s; Mauricio’s. During the walk of maybe a minute, she had already started a minute meditation to rid herself of the unfounded feelings she had for him. And now, in mid-meditation, the source of those feelings caught up. Aenardha had a sudden thought to take off in a run toward the transport cube, but stilled herself and turned toward Mauricio, eyes lowered.

Mauricio frowned at Aenardha's hesitation but he pressed on regardless. "I just wanted to say a proper goodbye. I feel like we didn't get much of a chance to talk back there, with everything going on."

“With everything going on,” she repeated. Aenardha sensed from those who went ahead that there was not a big rush to get back aboard. She raised her eyes and used Mauricio’s vision to look back at herself. The meditation techniques she had already put to use had done little to get rid of these thoughts and feelings she had for Mauricio. Perhaps this was an opportunity on top of a chance to give a proper ‘goodbye.’

“If we do not ever make the time, then we cannot ever take the time,” she said. Aenardha stepped away, opposite of the transport cube, and slowly strolled along side Mauricio. She denied herself the public vision of any and everyone else spread about the area. She allowed herself only his eyes. “And it may be a while before we see one another again.” She stopped and looked him in the eye. “I apologize. I am not good with goodbyes.”

"Me either." Mauricio admitted with a laugh. He leaned in conspiratorially, "Actually, when I left the Pandora, I slipped out the Cargo Bay while no one was looking." He chuckled to himself at the memory.

“So,” Aenardha began with a small smile, “I take it, smuggling us out of Carnwennan was your brainchild.”

"Hey my idea involved costumes." Mauricio said defensively, "But I couldn't figure out where to find a front and back horse costume at such short notice. Oddly, I could only find the bottom half."

Aenardha furrowed her brow and was taken aback before realizing, “That was a joke.” She actually gave a smile. “It could have worked.” She pondered the situation. “I could have attempted to make everyone think was a completely ordinary thing to happen and to not question it, even once. Yes,” she looked at him, “that could have worked.”

"Well, now you tell me!" Mauricio laughed, "So you could have just used your abilities to disguise yourself? We went through that for nothing? And by we, I mean you, of course."

“It is not that easy to be honest,” she replied. “In order to alter what someone sees and hears, I need to be around them long enough to understand their base mental pattern. If we had encountered 5 people, all of different races, I would have to concentrate painfully hard to get them all to see something other than what is physically before their eyes. And there are those who are impervious to telepathy. I have met a few. On top of all that, I am duty bound to not use my telepathic abilities to my own advantage save immediate and public vision, unless if I am given permission by the receivers of the telepathy or ordered to by my superior officer.” Aenardha finished her rehearsed speech.

Mauricio nodded, he shrugged a little, "Or by insistent ex-officers trying to help his friends?"

“I am sure you know the age old saying,” she started. There was almost a chipper sound to her voice. “Rules are meant to be broken…or bent.”

Maucirio nodded, "I'm seeing that." His smiled for a little but his face soon turned serious. "What we did to find the Pandora? For me, it was like getting massively intoxicated or something. The last time I felt like that was here, actually, on Paradise. I woke up in a terrible hotel with a broken nose and no recollection of the night before. I never wanted to feel like that again. And for a long time afterwards I had... a mental hang over. Does that make sense?"

“It does. I have actually been experiencing some unwanted…unexpected side effects as well. Nothing interfering with my work…just…” Aenardha paused a moment. “We Aenar are actually informed not to engage in that form of link. Only the Aenar elders are to do that. I did it once before and…well…I was informed that I am not skilled enough to attempt it. Still,” she stopped as he did to look out at the vastness of space, “it was probably the only way to find the Pandora. We had to try.”

"I'm glad we did." Mauricio nodded, looking away into the corridor. People were milling about shopping, continuing with their lives. He looked back, "Hey you were amazing at it. I don't know who told you you weren't skilled enough, they obviously don't know what you can do. You kept us searching and focused while my mind was going to some weird places."

“I am confident they simply do not want just any Aenar to attempt that form of connection.” She did not want to inform him of the ease if would have been for her to kill him, without any trace at all to speak of. Autopsies would conclude that his heart just stopped. No Aenar, in recent knowledge, had done anything like that and Aenardha had no intention on committing such an act. Though, she almost had. After all, she was deemed the reason why Khrap was spending his days in a mental hospital on Andor.

“I did lose some control. I triggered some old memories of yours. I will tell no one what I saw. Though I do feel sorrow for some of what you went through as a youngling. The dragon,” she went back on subject, “over the ice village was just a means to regain that control. The next time I attempt that, I suppose I will have more experience; more control.”

"Those memories." Mauricio picked up on something she had said, deliberately, to get to his point. "They are part of the reason I have been so hesitant to speak with you again." He stopped in his walk, turning to her. "Not that I don't want to speak with you - I really do, you can read me if you don't believe me. But part of that hang over or whatever I've had since we linked; it's because I had to relive some terrible memories. You reminded me of that, and that reminds me of the Pandora, and I remember why I left the ship altogether." He took in a deep breath, hoping his words were not too harsh, "I... don't like going back there."

“I do understand,” she replied. “Fully. Everyone has memories they do not wish to relive. When those memories are thrust to the forefront, we are oftentimes caught off guard." She had such memories as well. One was the reason why her tenure at the Academy was a bit longer than expected. “To be honest,” she looked at him and continued, “one of the side effects the receiver of that telepathic link…you…could have, is an unfounded and perpetual hate for the initiator of said link…me. That is part of the reason why we are told to avoid doing that. You could have ended up hating me without ever being able to explain why. And,” she took a few steps forward, “I was beginning to think that was going to be the case.”

"I don't hate you." He replied immediately and earnestly. "I mean, apart from our adventure into dream land, I actually don't even really know you." He laughed nervously, "That's not the case at all." He looked back to the transport cubes where the rest of her crew was still hanging around, chatting, some leaving. "But if I'm being honest, I hated reliving my time on the ship. Don't get me wrong, I am here for the Pandora as an ally and friend. And I am trying to get the Resistance to live by the values that I've taken from Starfleet. But," He frowned, "I don't ever want to step foot on that ship again. It's too much for me."

There was a refit Constitution Class ship owned by the Academy that Aenardha did not ever want to set foot on again. So, “I understand that more than you know.” She did not need to tell him that it gets better with time, that time heals all wounds and, adversely, that time wounds all heals. No matter how far he got away from that ship, something or someone was going to bring it all right back. Aenardha was saddened to realize that something or someone was her. “There is a saying among the Aenar, the Andorians as well. They just do not use it as much. ‘The path to healing is always the right path. It matters not that others do not understand it, or see it. It is right for you.’ It is OK that you cannot return to that ship, even if your friends do not understand why. And even if your path detours you back into close proximity, you need to stay on your path. For it is right for you.”

Aenardha said those words with a kind heart and an almost loving tone to her voice. There was certainly care in there. It stemmed from her time studying counseling at the Academy. It also stemmed from the lingering feelings for him, her resulting side effect from the telepathic link they used to find the Pandora.

"That's a wonderful saying, I'll take that with me." Mauricio nodded, "I don't want to be detouring from people but you're right, I feel like I need to at this time." He sighed a little, "There's more to it, which isn't related to you and the mind link at all, but I agree it's just the path that I'm on. Thank you for being understanding and I hope we can stay in contact once the Pandora returns to the Federation."

“I would like it if we could. It should not be difficult to find me. If I am not aboard the Pandora, just look for an Aenar in Starfleet. There is only one by my count,” she finished with a small smile. “And I would like to know how Paradise fairs after our departure.”

"Well you can look for the only human on Paradise." Arnaldo laughed, "I'm very glad we had this chat, Aenardha."

“I am too,” she said. She could feel the minds of her crewmates, growing further away. The transport cube had departed. Others were certainly on the way. “I need to get back aboard. I think we are both about to be very busy.”

"Indeed." Mauricio smiled wryly. "All the best for your journey home. Please get in touch as soon as you're back in Federation territory."



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