Previous Next

Backpost: Lost and Found

Posted on Wed Oct 6th, 2021 @ 6:41pm by Lieutenant Commander Emni t'Nai & Lieutenant Commander Karim
Edited on on Wed Oct 6th, 2021 @ 6:46pm

Mission: The Place of Skulls
Location: Risa, Grand Delphinium, Emni's Room
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 0000

[Risa, Delphi, Grand Delphinium]
[Emni's Room]
[6 days to departure, 0630 Hours]

Low lights limned the floor in Emni t’Nai’s room throwing the furniture into relief as the inset fixtures transitioned from darkness to low warm light. A quiet chime sounded in the space alerting its sleeping denizen that it was time to wake up.

Emni groaned, dragging the downy comforter of her bed up over her head in protest. For a brief moment the chime stopped and she felt the edges of sleep tugging her back into oblivion, but the chime sounded again, this time louder.

A different sound followed it alerting her that someone from the resort was trying to reach her. Her hand reached from beneath the comforter and she slapped at the commlink.

“t’Nai,” she said, the sleep in her voice evident.

A disembodied voice came across the comm. I’m sorry to bother you so early, Dr. t’Nai, but you have an incoming subspace message from a Commodore T’Vel. She advised that you would want to take her call.

If Emni hadn’t been awake earlier she was now. “Yes, of course,” she said, voice clearing as she shifted from sleep to a heightened anticipation. She hadn’t been sure if she would hear from the Commodore again after she had spoken with her, asking her to reach out to her son on Vulcan and find out if he was, indeed, receiving the type of treatment he needed.

“Put her through to the console here,” Emni advised.

“Thank you Doctor,” the consummately polite voice of the Risian at the front desk advised.

Stumbling from the bed, Emni made her way to the desk, tugging a robe from a hook and wrapping it around her shoulders. She finger combed her hair as she sat down at the desk, tugging the robe in place to make sure she didn’t look too much like she had just risen from bed.

A moment later the screen lit.

For a couple of seconds, the logo of the Pathfinder II Project was emblazoned across the screen, but this was rapidly replaced by the now-familiar visage of Commodore T'Vel, who had sharp angular eyebrows and the typical pointed Vulcan ears. However, her dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail and her nose bore ridges that betrayed a Bajoran ancestry. In stark contrast to the other Vulcans Emni had interacted with via subspace lately, this figure wore an expression that displayed emotions tightly but plainly.

She did not seem amused.

"Emni," T'Vel opened, her use of the doctor's first name a telling indication of their recently shared concerns. She was still in her uniform undershirt, her combadge affixed to the chest, but both her face and tone betrayed a degree of annoyance, which may have been restrained only by the remnants of her childhood Vulcan tutoring.

"I apologise for disturbing you so late,," the commodore said, "but I have news of Karim."

"No apologies necessary," Emni replied, her stomach dropping. She hadn't expected the news to necessarily be positive, but the Commodore's expression gave her pause.

A black mass of small cat made itself known then as Kyi'i appeared from wherever he had been curled to leap into Emni's lap making her jump for just a moment. Absently Emni's hand drifted to the cat, who was leaning into her hand even as he appeared to peek over the desk at the view screen himself.

"Kyi'i," Emni scolded quietly even as she scritched his ears before turning back to the conversation at hand. "How is he, T'Vel?"

The commodore's eyes briefly flicked downwards, clearly recognising the cat she had gifted to Karim before he had served with Emni aboard the Adelphi, and there was a faint softening in her features before she spoke again.

"He is not well," T'Vel said simply, her words crisp. "My relations with my mother's and Karim's father's families are... strained, at best. It is only for Karim that they seemingly acknowledge my ongoing presence in their lives at all, and a sense of obligation from my own mother. As we discussed previously; they had assured me that Karim's condition was something they had experience treating, that due to his strict emotional control and barriers, Vulcan Masters would be best placed to heal his wounds. As you know," T'Vel continued, a sharp intake of breath punctuating the point, "Karim has chosen to follow the path of Surak. Both our relatives and I accepted that his desire to live as he wishes, as a Vulcan, is paramount. They called his condition, koh-par vokau. Roughly interpreted, it is the 'disease of shame'."

T'Vel's eyes looked down for a second, and Emni could see that the commodore had her hands clasped tightly on the top of her desk. After a couple of moments, she looked back to the screen once more. "I have been repeatedly refused communication with him. They claimed an outside influence, especially a non-Vulcan one, at such a critical juncture in his treatment would damage the progress he was making. I heard the same rhetoric from my mother during my own youth. I persisted, and I was even accused of endangering my own son's life; they claimed I risked inciting early on-set of other illnesses, such as Bendii Syndrome, or other emotional and mental collapses."

There was another pause, but the thoughtful expression on T'Vel's face did not invite comment or response yet, as she seemed to compose herself once again. "Vulcan is an alarmingly conservative world, and in spite of almost three centuries of interstellar alliance, there are vast swathes of the population that resist external insight into their own calamities. I need not bore you with the details, but I was eventually able to have a Starfleet Medical team inspect the place they claimed to have been treating Karim. He was found isolated, aside from a singular Vulcan Master, undergoing enduring periods of fasting and minimal stimuli." T'Vel shook her head lightly, her stark brow furrowing further. "But the outbursts, as you described them, remained. The confusion, the disarray... the lack of order..." Another pause. "The officers trod a fine line in their challenging of the Masters and the others. Through the welfare concerns that were raised, they were able to have Karim moved to a Starfleet institution to be examined, but Solek and the others have been petitioning unceasingly to have him returned to their care immediately, or risk permanent damage to his welfare, and the staff at the facility, of which many are Vulcans, have expressed contrasting views on what measures to take, of whether to release him into his family's care once more."

Pushing herself forward, unclasping her hands, defiance entered T'Vel's voice. "I am not prepared to do that. He is Vulcan, but he is also not. I think you, too, are uniquely positioned to understand this."

Emni listened intently, doing her best to keep her features schooled to the neutral doctor's bedside manner. Nonetheless she couldn't help the frustration and concern she felt pressing through as Karim's mother described the conditions in which he had been found. A shot of anger settled into the pit of her stomach and for the millionth time she wished she had been successful in convincing Karim to stay on Risa despite the difficulty he faced. She felt at least partly responsible for the circumstance. Somehow, over the time that he had been under her care, she had come to consider his case her personal responsibility. When he left it had been a blow on more than one front--not least of which her own confidence.

"I do, indeed, understand that," Emni responded, hand absently running down the length of the black cat in her lap. "Has anyone considered asking him what he wants?" She frowned a moment before continuing. "Unless he has deteriorated significantly since I last spoke with him, he was still perfectly capable of deciding how to pursue his own care. I wouldn't have placed him back on active duty, but he wasn't to a point of needing someone else to decide for him."

"He wants to be well. And different cultures have different beliefs on when someone may not be able to make a decision for themselves," T'Vel replied with some reluctance. "Karim has, however... expressed concerns with both his treatment by the Vulcan Masters, and at the prospect of discontinuing it. He is of two minds, it seems, and he remains critical of everyone's involvement." As she carefully said the words, it was clear that there were more nuances to Karim's objections, perhaps because of his illness, but his mother did not elaborate on them. "He does not wish to receive treatment at this Starfleet facility, and the family is insisting he does not have capacity to make informed decisions - an assertion he challenges. My options have been limited. The scrutiny of my position diminishes too much direct involvement, and he has been warned that he faces losing the option to make an informed choice of his own."

T'Vel now focused her eyes more intently on the doctor. "But... he has asked to return to you, Emni."

Emni drew in a long breath, releasing it slowly. "I see," she said simply, a miasma of different emotions embodied in a single acknowledgement.

And she did see. If anything it's something she had, in a very small unacknowledged place, hoped he would do. A mixture of relief and alarm rang through her as she considered this new information.

Glancing down to where Kyi'i had now curled into a ball on her lap, she pressed her fingers gently behind his ears. His rumbling purr reminded her of the first time she had met the cat having come to Karim's quarters at the request of Lieutenant Timmoz--half house call and half intervention.

Letting out another long breath she thought through the logistics. Their new ship, the Sojourner was mere days away. They were set to disembark in under a week and from there make their way to the Delta Quadrant. They would stop at Pathfinder Station, certainly, but she didn't see how it would even be possible to get Karim there in time. That was assuming that Björn even agreed to have the man on the ship. The realization made her heart plummet anew.

"Of course I would consent to continue his treatment," she began choosing her words carefully. She wanted to be clear that she did want to see him again--would be more than happy to. "I imagine, however, that you know we're set to leave Risa in less than a week and then our orders take us directly to the Delta Quadrant." She looked down at her hands then. Was her expression... embarrassed? "Truthfully, I haven't kept anyone else appraised of my outreach. Even Captain Kodak is unaware. If we could get Karim here in time we would need to discuss it with the Captain first. I..." She stopped mid-sentence, frustration and no small amount of helplessness warring against what she knew to be true.

"I would absolutely resume his treatment," she started again. "He is my friend. If I can help, I want to. But I don't see how it can work."

The faintest hint of a smile tugged delicately at one corner of the commodore's mouth, in spite of Emni's reservations. "Even I would not deign to interfere with Captain Kodak's management of his ship. I do know, however, that, having read his logs and reports of their interactions, Karim thought highly of his working relationship with Mister Kodak, and often commented on the captain's good and caring nature. These might not always be things you'd consider Vulcans to note and appreciate, but perhaps not all Vulcans appreciate the same things."

T'Vel smiled again, an expression that seemed more deliberate for Emni herself, which also showed what a development the half-Vulcan commodore had made in her own character, since her own years of youth subjected to the Vulcan mantra. "If the crew of the Sojourner would have him, I would be able to manage the logistical implications. The Pathfinder-Two Project carries a certain amount of autonomous discretion, owing to its rather individualised remit; Karim has extensive experience with first contact scenarios and engaging with non-Federation species. Finding him a place on the roster, from a Command perspective, would not be impossible. Starfleet has made more questionable appointments in the past."

The last comment was made almost under T'Vel's breath, although its exact target was unclear. She was, however, accurate; a number of peculiar staffing and personnel choices had been made during Starfleet's storied history, even on the fleet's flagships."

"The extent and nature of his duties, I believe, would be best left to the discretion of the ship's command structure and medical professionals, of course," T'Vel went on, already entering details onto a PADD, only now occasionally making eye contact via the terminal to Emni. "I do not think anyone could challenge the informal appointment of a diplomatic specialist to an exploratory vessel." She resumed eye contact with Emni, a degree of satisfaction clearly detectable in her words. "How unfortunate it will be, of course, that it will take some time for correspondence and personnel movements to be arranged for a ship so far from Vulcan. We can only hope they will understand."

Kyi'i had, in his enjoyment of Emni's lap, taken to spreading his toes and then contracting them in a kneading motion, the result of which was little pinpricks of cat claws on Emni's thigh. As T'Vel spoke, she gently dislodged his paws, setting them on her hand where he continued to curl his toes around her fingers in the same motion.

"Are you suggesting that the Sojourner would be delayed?" she asked, trying to follow the train of steps and needed authorizations that could even remotely result in a return of Karim to the same ship she was assigned to. The amount of connections and confirmations necessary was slightly dizzying. And yet, as she listened, a very small, selfish, and persistent flame of hope sputtered into existence.

Whatever else may be true, she missed Karim--gruff arrogant exterior, mussed hair, and all. She might not admit so willingly, but the thought of seeing him again felt a little bit like relief to her and she realized, perhaps a moment too late, that the emotion may have been showing on her face--a side effect of the less than typical practice of her neutral doctor's visage while on Risa.

"Whatever can be done to minimise the impact on anyone's routines, more the better," T'Vel replied evenly, entering a few more commands into the PADD again. There were a few seconds of silence as she concluded whatever input, before finally looking back to Emni, which was followed by even more silence, albeit with more meaning carried in the commodore's expression. "Emni, I appreciate all of the concern you have expressed for Karim and the great efforts you have gone to to help since the incident with the Vidiians. My son does not make friends easily - he chooses them carefully, and it is rarer still that he has been fortunate enough for them to also choose him, in turn. He may not quite understand or appreciate it himself yet, but Karim is fortunate to have you, and even the others from the Adelphi. I have to believe some part of him also recognises that."

The Commodore's words hit their mark like an arrow shot from close range. Emni pursed her lips, a myriad of conflicting emotions erupting from where she had so been working to ignore them each clamoring for supremacy. She considered the right response and finally, after a beat longer than necessary, replied, "I'm fortunate to call him my friend as well."

She looked away from the screen then, something not dissimilar to shyness flitting across her features. It was gone in only a moment, though, as her eyes returned to the Commodore's visage. "I appreciate whatever efforts can be made to help Karim whether they are efforts I can be a part of or the efforts of others. I..." she faltered then, rethinking her word choice. "It would be good to see him again."

There was only a brief flutter of recognition on T'Vel's face at Emni's behaviour, and only the briefest of concern was shown. It was soon replaced by that light, un-Vulcan smile the commodore had worn at times during their conversation. "Thank you, Emni," she said. "I will be in touch soon." And the screen returned to the display of the Pathfinder II logo.

Emni blew out a long breath, tapping a spot below the screen to deactivate it. The screen darkened at her motion and she sat back heavily in her chair, head spinning as she considered all of the possible avenues and paths that could lead to a return of Karim to the Sojourner, and his case to her care.

She ran her hands along Kyi'i's soft fur, feeling the rumble of his purr beneath her hand as she evaluated each scenario in turn and... always finding a clear block... discarded them. No... there clearly was not a way, unless Commodore T'Vel had some kind of magical pull that she wasn't saying she had, for Karim's request to be returned to her care to be granted.

A sort of heavy disappointed settled on her features then as she realized, even in the improbability of the moment, that she had gotten her hopes up.

"We'll see him again someday," she said to the cat, switching from stroking the cat's fur to scratching his chin. "It just won't be any time soon."

=/\= A mission back post by =/\=

Lieutenant Emni t'Nai
Chief Medical Officer
USS Sojourner

Commodore T'Vel (Karim's mother -- played by Christopher)
Special Assignment
Pathfinder Two Project

Special appearance by Kyi'i


Previous Next