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Posted on Fri Oct 15th, 2021 @ 12:45pm by Sasha Vieers & Mauricio Arnaldo & Lieutenant Krysia Kaleri-Smith & Lieutenant JG Aeryn Jameson

Mission: The Gauntlet
Location: Deck 6 - Sickbay
Timeline: After "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things"


Mauricio was feeling better after a few courses of treatment from the Pandora's medical team. His chat with Captain Temple and Ensign Sh'vastarth had buoyed his spirits after his near-death experience on the Fire Queen; and he had even agreed to stay onboard to help the Pandora get back home. He guessed being almost killed then abandoned by Katya was giving him a change of mind - or maybe it was just being amongst his own people again? Either way, he felt good.

Deciding to go for a walk now that he felt strong enough again, Mauricio headed over to the private recovery rooms. Nash was lying in his bio bed, comatose and peaceful. Mauricio felt a pang of guilt at seeing his friend this way. The last time he saw Owen, they were undercover spies trying to find information on the Pithos Facility in the Delavi System. Nash had been a true Starfleet Commander on that mission - taking the lead on the investigation, coming up with some very creative aliases for them, offering to protect Mauricio if everything went south. Mauricio got the feeling that Nash was loving the opportunity to have his own mission, to use his own skills as an officer, instead of just sitting in one of the big chairs on the Bridge.

"Raith Kolani and Salek Morano, of the Nyberrite Alliance," Mauricio spoke gently, recalling their aliases from that day.

To see his friend now, lying injured and motionless in the Sickbay, was a sad reminder of how dangerous their lives could be. Mauricio was lucky, he was already fixed and on his feet. Nash's injuries would take much longer to heal. Mauricio stood in silence watching over his friend. There was a PADD near his head, playing messages from the crew, all wishing him a speedy recovery. It was a nice touch for whoever had thought of it; a way of letting Nash know how much he was loved and missed. The only other sound in the room was the occasional beep from the medical equipment, showing his slow heart beat. The shelf above was filled with flowers, more signs from the crew who wished him well.

After standing there for a while, Mauricio noticed there was a second, distant beep happening near by. He tried to dismiss it at first but when it happened again, he frowned and looked around. There was no one else in the room, there was only one monitor by Nash's bed. But again... beep.

Turning around, Mauricio walked outside into the corridor, which was totally empty. He continued to follow the low beeping until he came to a closed door on another private room. The noise was coming from inside this room, he was sure. There was a security seal on the door, but no officers were posted outside of it. Like they didn't want anyone to visit, but didn't need to stand guard either. Curiosity was now getting the best of him; he had to know what was behind the door and what was causing the beep. Looking up and down the corridor to check that it was still empty, Mauricio tenderly opened the circuit panel next to the door and after a few minutes of trying to remember his Marine incursion training, he was able to override the door locking mechanism. The door slid open and he gave a satisfying smile in response.

Stepping inside the darkened room, Mauricio squinted in the low light. He could just see the outline of a figure on a bed, a monitor near by that was giving off the beeps he had heard.

"Computer? Lights at forty percent." Mauricio whispered.

As the room illuminated brighter, Arnaldo was confronted by the sight of Sasha Vieers, lying asleep in bed with a ventilator mask over her lips, her body twisted into an uncomfortable, wretched position. Bald patches on her scalp were evident where her once long, curly locks had fallen out. Her fingers were gripped into a tense claw, like there was constant pain in her hands or arms. There was something about her skin - it was like she was covered in something. Taking a few tentative steps forward, he could see the areas around her mouth, neck, nose, and eyes were covered in a hard, black substance. It looked like rock. She was taking shallow, wheezing breaths through her mask, her body twitching ever so often.

"Dios la ayude!" Mauricio gasped, holding his hand to his mouth in shock.

There were no flowers here, no video messages. Just a near-silent room with the occasional beeping of medical equipment.

Aeryn had been passing by when she noticed Sasha’s room had been accessed. Walking across to the doorway she stepped inside, “You shouldn’t be in here Mauricio” she offered a small smile before walking over to Sasha. “We’re doing what we can for her, she may look like she’s in pain but I promise you she’s not.”

Mauricio jumped at the sound of someone speaking, not expecting anyone else around. He relaxed when he saw it was Aeryn but he didn't make any attempt to leave. "I don't understand... what happened to her? Last time I was here she was fit and healthy, and - you know, killing people - but she was not... like this?!"

Aeryn nodded. “I know. Captain Temple gave her a chance to help us, the problem is that she was exposed to toxic chemicals in the atmosphere of the planet she was sent down to. To be honest I’m surprised she’s still alive! She’s hanging on with every fibre of her being, considering at one point that she wanted to die.”

"The planet? You mean Hesiod?" Mauricio looked back and forth between doctor and patient. "I thought you all went down there? How did she end up this way?"

Aeryn shrugged her shoulders. “Sasha went down alone, only she truly knows what happened to her down there.”

“All we do know is that she found a little peace, a part of her did anyway.” Krysia walked into the room having been on her way to visit Sasha anyway. “She didn’t want to be like this, she wanted to die.”

Aeryn sighed. “We couldn’t just withhold treatment, and let her suffer. I’m not convinced she was in the right frame of mind to make that kind of decision.”

"Oh is that so?" Came a sardonic voice from the back of the room. It was Sasha's voice, she was using the Counsellor and the Doctor's abilities to project her mind to them both; only Mauricio could not hear her. Her body may have been weak and spirit crushed, but her mind was still strong. In this projection, she was healthy and normal once more - standing proudly in her old Starfleet Ops uniform. She appeared before them, like a ghost, and walked to the end of her own bio bed. She looked down at her body with a disappointed shake of her head, "You think this is what I want?"

Krysia wasn’t surprised, she was barely fazed by what she saw. “You don’t hear her do you?” She looked at Mauricio, “Sasha is here, she’s projecting to our minds. She’s angry that she’s here, like this.” Krysia took a moment before placing her hand on Mauricio’s hand and linking her mind to his so he could hear and see Sasha too.

Mauricio pulled away. The last mind link he did had had caused significant after effects for him. He didn't want to feel that again. "I'm sorry, I don't want to know." He said sadly.

Sasha sighed, "It's more of a general bitterness, really." She commented.

“As a doctor I do what I can for my patients Sasha” Aeryn looked at Sasha’s withering body as she spoke. “I’m sorry this happened to you, I truly am!”

"I know, but neither you or the experts back on Earth can fix this." She reached up and touched her face. In the image, her skin was clear, but she could still feel the black, rock-like scabbing across her skin. "I can feel it. In my lungs, in my throat. The damage now is irreversible. The particles have invaded my body and they are winning."

Mauricio went and sat by her other side, shaking his head. "This is worse than death."

Krysia nodded. “Yes it is, it’s eternal suffering, and it’s cruel.”

Aeryn was starting to feel outnumbered in this conversation, “I’m sorry, I truly am but there’s nothing else I can do. I promise you that I won’t let you suffer. However long you’re here Sasha, I will make sure you’re comfortable.” She gently pressed another pain killer hypo to Sasha’s neck before nodding politely to the others and heading out of the room.

Sahsa's image closed her eyes and smiled as her body felt the pain reliever go through her. "This part doesn't suck." She smiled.

"She's got a point though." Came another voice. It was Sasha again, this time wearing her all-black stealth attire from that night on Paradise, and the night she killed Dorian. It was the darker, less caring side of Sasha that had been released when the pain reliever lowered her mental defences. The Evil Sasha shrugged, "These people weakened us with their morality and their rules. The real me would have kept on fighting and not given up. It's pathetic."

Starfeet Sasha sighed again, "You aren't the real me. You're a product of the bubble universe. Kaleri knows, don't you? Who I really am?"

Krysia nodded. “You’re both halves of the same person, when we were in that bubble universe we were friends, at least until Dorian confused matters. What happened stemmed from the time we spent living our lives in a universe that Starfleet says never existed! We know otherwise. It existed, but now here in this real world, we’re back to this.” She gently placed her hand on Sasha’s hand taking a deep breath as she felt a stronger link with Sasha. “You asked me once if I’d help you, do you still want my help?”

"Yes." Starfleet Sasha said immediately.

"No." Evil Sasha said emphatically.

"Help?" Mauricio turned his head to look at the Counsellor. He was only hearing one part of the conversation. "What do you mean?"

"You ain't helping me, darling." Evil Sasha hissed, walking around to stand next to Krysia. "It's a crime and you know it."

"I want release!" Starfleet Sasha cried emotionally, "Please! I can't do this any longer."

Krysia looked at Mauricio. “When She first came back here Sasha asked me to...” She paused. “She wanted me to help her die.” She looked back at Sasha. “Back then I couldn’t....I wouldn’t do it but seeing her like this....” she looked back at Mauricio. “What would you do Mauricio?”

Mauricio was taken aback, as he cast his eyes over the suffering patient in front of him. "Hijo y del Espíritu Santo." He murmured as he crossed his body devoutly. "I... don't know. You say she asked you for this? When she was conscious?"

"A weak moment." Evil Sasha huffed. "I've been sitting here plotting my revenge on all of you. You're taking me out just to save yourselves from the hurt I'm going to inflict when I'm free."

"We've actually spent all of our energy just trying to breathe." Starfleet Sasha said honestly, "And failing. My body is... barely still there. In my Trill tradition, this would be the time in which a symbiont would be removed to allow the host to die respectfully."

"We were never joined." Evil Sasha sighed loudly.

"But it's still our time." Starfleet Sasha retorted immediately, "We are not coming back from this."

Krysia could hear Sasha’s two halves arguing each other out, one wanting to survive, one wanting to die. It was an impossible situation, and if she did help Sasha the last thing she needed was a witness. “Maybe I’m being stupid here, just letting my pity get the better of me.” She looked at Mauricio. “I’ll let you have some time alone.” She looked towards Sasha. I’ll be back Sasha, that I promise you!

Sasha's mind started to feel the connection fading. Evil Sasha rolled her eyes, "Back inside we go."

Starfleet Sasha looked to Krysia, a small smile on her lips. "For now."



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