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Posted on Jan 01, 2018 @ 4:41am by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Jan 01, 2018 @ 4:42am

Mission: Fear Itself


(Continued from “Auld Lang Syne”)


When the world and I were young
Just yesterday
Live was such a simple game
A child could play
It was easy then to tell right from wrong
Easy then to tell weak from strong
When a man should stand and fight
Or just go along

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light
Today there is no black or white
Only shades of gray

-”Shades of Gray”, The Monkees


SD: [2.17]1228.2055
Scene: Arboretum

Eve had lost track of the words of memory and kindness being said for the losses of Chaucer, Schad, and Carter. It wasn’t that the words weren’t meaningful, or that they weren’t beautiful expressions fitting of the event; it was simply that she had holed herself up in grief, a rare moment where she wasn’t able to properly care for the others while in the throes of her emotions.

The back of her mind was making shadow puppets of thought, casting them to the forefront of her muddled perception. Aerdan’s conversation with her had a lasting effect. Her facial expression was was open, calm, and sad. But she wasn’t as sad at the pointless loss of life as she was that she may not have done better to make their lives better during the time they were here, aboard the dreadnaught. Something had to change.


At hearing her name, the Counsellor blinked and looked to her left to find Tomas Vukovic standing there. “Tomas,” she acknowledged softly. She hadn’t seen him since he had awoken in Sickbay.

“Iphie said you looked like you could use this,” he said, handing her a cup of what looked like coffee, but it was actually a dark chocolate mocha with some kind of vanilla foam.

It was rich, slightly bitter, and sweet. Overall, it was comforting. “She has a knack for knowing these things,” Eve admitted. She took a more sidelong glance at the FCO. “How are you?”

He shrugged. “I’m still here,” he answered simply. “I should thank you for your part in that.”

She shook her head. “Iphie made sure she had the regenerator at the Tribble. Jake recognized there was a connection to the entity. Aerdan monitored your vitals. Cantor went ‘in’ to look for you. All I did was watch. I didn’t have the skills.”

Vukovic smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. The spectre of death still hung heavy in the room. “Then you stayed out of everyone’s way in admirable fashion.”

Eve sighed. “Not a position I was thrilled to be in.”

“Controlling a situation is an illusion. Just ask Captain Kane if you don’t believe me. But I don’t have to tell you that- you were in Intel.”

Eve sipped her coffee and absorbed what he had said, then her eyebrow raised. “Are you trying to put me out of a job?”

“In what way?”

She looked bemused. “I thought *I* was the one supposed to be digging in everyone’s past for clues as to how they’ve become the person sitting across from me. Besides, it’s only a blip on my resumé.”

Tomas rubbed his bald head, almost looking puzzled. “And why *is* that?”

“I wanted to write my own ticket. As broad of a range as field missions could be, or had the potential to be, they just wanted someone to do their killing for them.”

“I’m sure ‘they’ aren’t in charge anymore.”

“Considering Edgerton’s gone, I would have to agree. But sometimes there’s a difference between fulfilling one’s duty and one’s purpose. Duty and purpose aren’t always mutually inclusive, and here I have the gift of both. I’m not sure I would anywhere else.”

The man known as Cy in several circles nodded. “There’s one thing you haven’t mentioned.”


“Now that all the excitement is over and done with, you and your department have your work cut out for you. You may have been an unwilling bystander in Sickbay, but I don’t see anyone volunteering to spend time in your office watching you dissect the fears of over 870 people.”

“Hard work never bothered me. Feeling like I don’t make a difference, that bothers me.”

“You’re not alone in that,” Tomas said, his icy blue eyes surveying the the room, looking at those who had come to pay their respects. “We dealt with something that did not play by the laws of our universe. I can imagine there’s a lot of uselessness being shared by both our crew and the crew of the station.” His focus on her deepened. “Imagine how Kane and Crichton feel.”

“I have been.” She remembered her awkward offer of support to the CO before they made their Hail Mary against the Phobophage, and she meant every bit of it. But to describe the conversation as comfortable would have been a lie. And Michael Turlogh Kane was such an expert at holding on to the mantle of professionalism that she wondered if her gestures had any impact on him, or if it even mattered as long as she was doing her job, something he inherently needed each of them to do. What had changed was not his expectation; it was her definition of what that entailed. “Do you think it’s possible for people to work together and also be friends?”

This made him think of Xana again. “I’m not necessarily looking for friendships.”

“That was one of the most graceful side steps I’ve seen in a while.”

The Borg of Slavic descent gave her an earnest look, indicating he hadn’t been dodging the question. “I’m being honest. But if you really want an opinion based on my purview, I think *some* people can work together and be friends. However, given the diversity we have, I don’t think it’s realistic for everyone to be all chummy with each other. Is that what you’re looking for?”

“I’m looking for a way to help the crew all the time- not just the hour or two a week that I might see them. I’ve been so caught up in building healthy psyches and minds that I didn’t stop to consider building the relationships that support that structure. While some of what I heard tonight was the retelling of events and interactions that meant something to the deceased and their co-workers, I also heard a lot of regret that so many worked with them and yet never went into a deeper conversation with them. That they stood alongside them, facing dire situations, but never truly knowing them.”

The ordinary looking man, who was anything but, lowered his voice and spoke with compassion. “Surely you can see that some level of self-preservation is at work there. Would you be able to entertain those ideas if you had forged a deep relationship with each of the dead crew? Would you be able to stand here and observe their service?”

Eve looked at Vukovic as honestly has he had at her a short time ago. There was a pause. “I’d like to think so.”

“But you don’t know, do you?”

There was a longer pause. “No, I don’t. But we’re asked to take risks every day. And not just risks to our physical selves. Of course it’s easiest to see our solidarity in that. Merely being aboard the ship demonstrates our lives have been laid on the line. We earned the right to die for the Federation and its ideals. But that doesn’t mean we’ve lost the right to live.”

“Life is… complicated.”

“It’s messy,” Eve agreed. “Death is simple. You die. The end.” The Andorian CMO’s paraphrased words were no less fitting now than they were when he said them.

“Funerals aren’t even for the benefit of the dead,” Tomas said with experience. “They’re to allow the living to mourn. To reconcile that their friend or loved one is no longer there.”

“Right now I feel like I’m mourning the loss of the opportunity I had to know these people,” Eve said with a wan smile. “I don’t know how many more chances I’ll get to remedy that.”

Tomas squeezed Eve’s hand. “At least one. Let’s go get a refill and keep Iphie company.”

NRPG: Happy New Year!

Ken: took an excess of liberties with Vukovic; I seem to have made a habit of that ;-)

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for

Lieutenant Eve Dalziel


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