Star Trek: Apollo


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Post 07 - The Paralysis of Choice

Posted on Tue Nov 19th, 2019 @ 4:23pm by Commander Niun
Edited on on Wed Nov 20th, 2019 @ 2:22pm

Mission: Episode 0 - War Games
Location: En Route to Starbase 38
Timeline: Mission Day 01 - 1500 Hours

[Deltan Freighter]
[2370 - 1930]

"Order anything you want," Tal said, one hand emerging from the depths of the voluminous silk dressing gown he wore long enough to wave in the general direction of the replicator. "I'll get the tea."

The Deltan's casual words, to make his own choice, swirled about in his head like so many panicked birds looking for a way out. As an Azhadi, he could stand absolutely still for hours at a time; no longer Azhadi (and how could that even be possible?), he found himself caught between thought and action. Choice? From the moment of his birth till this one, he had never made a choice based solely on his own desires. And now his path was cluttered with them. Choked. And worse, every choice he made would lead him that much further from the Mri. Panic welled up within him, cutting off his breathing, as drops of perspiration blossomed on his forehead. It was a shameful thing, this feeling of helplessness.

He stood unmoving and unable to do ... anything ... until he felt Tal's arms encircle him and dignified Edral, roused from his slumber, move to his side. Eddies of comfort swirled about him and he felt the panic recede far enough to unlock his joints. He leaned his head against Tal's as his hand dropped to Edral's sleek neck.

"Let's sit down," Tal said quietly, his breath a warm whisper against his skin, and, unresisting, Niun allowed the Deltan to lead him to the thing he now knew as a place to sit. Among the Mri, there were no such things. One sat on the ground. Only the Imai was permitted to sit elevated. Imai. Mother and Matriarch and ultimately, betrayer.

He saw her again as she was that last day, standing among them, fists planted on her hips, while they knelt in the warm sands and waited. He had never known such absolute conviction in the rightness of his life as he had among the people. She was their mother and they, her devoted children. Scouring winds blew across the plains whipping tendrils of her graying hair across her face but it was her eyes that he remembered most. Cold and hard, without the love he had always expected to find there. "... your service to the people is ended. You are to leave this world and never return."

The wind turned mournful and the dusei, scattered among the Azhadi, set up a low keening sound in counterpoint to the soft weeping of the Amrazi huddled together and apart from the colder Moaku. The Azhadi themselves did not move for a moment that seemed to stretch into eternity and then Maylor stood.

"This is my word," the Imai said.

First among the Azhadi, it was for Maylor to respond. The Imai ordered, Maylor decided how to fulfill that order. He unsheathed his sword, fashioned by his own hand, and walked up to the Imai, knelt, and laid the sword at her sandaled feet.

It was a sort of insult, this giving of the traditional promise. An Azhadi, going into service, laid his sword at the Imai's feet, and in the act was the unspoken promise that her Azhadi would return to her again. She stiffened at the act but said nothing. Maylor turned and began the long track to the spaceport. He took nothing with him nor did any of the others who followed.

By the time Niun approached her, the pile had turned into a small mountain. The Imai did not move, did not respond, her eyes filled with flinty resolve, as her Azhadi left, single file, walking away from everything that had ever mattered. He felt a sort of winter descend into his soul as he followed the track made by the other Azhadi, Edral at his side, offering and receiving comfort as they walked ... and walked ...

Niun felt a feather-light kiss on his shoulder; he turned and Tal smiled at him. "You're getting lost in your own head again," he said quietly. "I think its time you taught me that game of yours."

Niun nodded, not quite ready to smile, "Need stones," he said in heavily accented Deltan as he held up two fingers.

[Transport Vessel - Final Approach to Starbase 38]

He held the stone in his hand, one of the pair he had used to teach Tal the rudiments of the people's game, Shon'ai, idly rubbing his thumb over its smooth surface. As with anything that the Deltan owned, it was uniquely beautiful and one of a matched set. He kept one with him, the other was probably forgotten in a decorative box somewhere. That was Tal and he, Niun, had no illusions on that score.

Seventeen years had passed since he'd been on the same planet as Tal, nineteen since that particular night. They were friends now which, for Tal, was the desired end state of any experience. Tal, who possessed a decidedly hedonistic soul, had experiences not relationships; over the years, they had discussed over comms any number of those experiences. In fact, he was due to contact him again tonight but that was after he got the business of reporting in out of the way.

A Mission Post by:

Lt. Commander Niun
Chief Engineer
USS Apollo


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