Three Views of a Secret
Location: Andrews Quarters
It wasn't that his door chime was sounding that was so unusual...after all, that is the entire purpose of a door chime. it was that it was sounding at 0254 in the morning.
With a muttered Cardassian profanity, Andrew swatted at his chrono. Any wake-up at 0254 hours that didn't involve a klaxon meant things could always be worse, so there was that. He pulled on a robe to protect what was awake of his dignity and keyed the door panel.
The door opened to reveal a cloaked and cowled figure standing in the dark. Andrew recognized the person standing there immediately. However, there was something that struck him as quite odd. It did not feel like Rosaleen. Not the Rosaleen that he knew anyway. The person before him emanated a presence and power he had not experienced before. At least not outside of a select few races.
"May I enter?" She quietly asked.
Andrew felt the distinct difference immediately. This power was much closer to the order of power he'd felt when he had tried to get Rosaleen to come back to this plane of reality. It didn't feel exactly like her, but between three in the bloody morning and the fact that the temperature was mostly normal (Andrew had noticed that temperature drops and Ka'Bu pissy moods tended to be related), he suspected it was safe enough.
That and if she actually intended him harm, there wasn't a damn thing he was doing about it with her blinking ability.
"Come on in. Can I get you anything?" He keyed the lights up to a low level to spare his eyes and mask the stubble somewhat.
As she entered, there was a smoothness to her movements that was...well, damn unnatural. She made her way silently to the couch in the room and sat, curling her legs under her as she sat. Only then did she reach up and remove her cowl. The first thing that he noticed was the intensity in her eyes. "No, thank you."
He blinked a couple times to make sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. "I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess there's something we need to talk about. Since you're here under your own power I assume your mission went well?"
And just like that...she was there, right in front of him. Her cloak was laying on the couch that, in his mind, she should still be seated on. The look in her eyes was even more amazing up close. Amazing...and intimidating at the same time. She smiled shyly and placed a hand on his chest. It was as if the world fell away. "That, my friend, may possibly be the biggest understatement of the millennia. Something happened to me there...somethingwonderful."
He chuckled. "If a warp core was putting out that kind of field, I'd be calling for an engineering crew and yellow alert. Let's pretend that I've only been awake for about..." He looked at the chrono. "...Three minutes. What happened?"
Her mind was moving at the speed of light. "I met with the senior leadership on Ba'Ku. They are so amazing. THere artistic abilities are...no, wait. That's not what you need to know. The people there. They are so warm...so caring." The quality of her eyes shifted yet again. "They are family."
Things started clicking slowly. "That's where the commodore sent you off to then. She said you were away on a mission but neglected to mention just where that mission was. Though at the time we'd just pissed off the Protectorate representative, so it makes sense." He kept thinking things over. "I was under the impression you knew you were related species going in, so I presume there are very good overtones to the word 'family'?" He had a flash of annoyance as his recent marital troubles shot through his head; he closed his eyes for a second and clamped down on that hard.
"I knew...but they did not." Rosaleen responded. "There was concern that they would..." She reached up and placed a hand on his cheek. It was like a static field was caressing him. "What is wrong?"
He sighed. "The anticipated divorce paperwork came in a few days ago. I haven't had time to integrate that particular fact into my psyche to a degree where I don't broadcast it, apparently. Sorry about that." Another deep breath. "There was concern that they would...?"
Rosaleen's eyes glistened, and the room turned a bit colder. "I am so sorry. You know if you need to talk I am here." She removed her hand and took a few steps away. "Oh...there was concern that they would be hostile towards me. Any of our kind actually, but it would appear that the fears were unfounded and baseless. I was welcomed in with them from the moment of my appearance."
Andrew nodded and shivered slightly. "Thank you. I'll probably take you up on that once the whole situation has had time to sink in." He pulled his mind back to what he thought he knew about her mission. "Was there any sign of Viidian activity out that way, or did we manage to nip that in the bud on Taranok?"
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than he mentally kicked himself. She's talking personal matters so you promptly evade and switch to business. Knock it off, you idiot. "I'm sorry, Rosaleen. It's been a rough few days. I'm glad that your meeting with the Ba'Ku went well and that it was so rewarding for you. Tell me about your newly expanded family."
Rosaleen moved to the couch in the room and sat, curling her legs under her. "It was amazing. They are some of the warmest people I have ever met. It was a bit awkward though at first. Apparently over the centuries they have lost a lot of their natural abilities, so meeting me was like some kind of old mythological being appearing in their midst. And...well, the planets metaphasics had an interesting affect on me. It made me...well, more powerful. Much more."
"That would explain the jokingly mentioned warp core emanations I noticed earlier." He smiled. "And it makes sense from the heavily redacted version of Enterprise's counselor report that made its way through the core; it was already having a noticeable effect on the Ba'Ku and the So'na, so I would have expected at least a similar effect on you." He sobered. "Just don't decide to bend time and accidentally rip the space-time continuum or something. I'd hate to have to explain that to the commodore in the morning."
Rosaleen patted the couch. "Come sit with me. I promise I won't bite."
"Good to know, it'll save me the embarrassment of asking." New rule, Matheson. No attempts at humor at o'God'o'clock in the morning. He took a seat on the couch next to her. "Sorry about that. I think I've had 45 minutes of actual sleep since you left on your mission, and it's probably starting to show."
She reached over and placed a hand on his. There was power there, but it was restrained. "I can imagine. We intercepted a lot of very disturbing comms on our return trip. Things seem to be collapsing back home. I still have not heard from my family..."
Andrew sighed. "Given what that Protectorate representative was out here trying to do, Sol Sector is going to be an unholy mess for months. I'm hoping they don't actually have the traction to pull this off, but..." He shook his head. "The Betazed Council Member is an acquaintance of mine and I haven't heard anything about her. There's no way she'd have taken that quietly. I keep trying to think that no news is good news. I know efforts were being made to get people out before things went sideways."
Quiet for a moment, Rosaleen's expression changed as she remembered something that she deemed important. "Oh, I almost forgot. There was something else that might interest you. There has been quite a bit of activity at the Klingon border stations. A lot of traffic coming in and out of the region. If they have caught wind of this, who knows what their plans could be."
Andrew groaned audibly. "If the Klingons have gotten wind of this, I hope to all that's holy that Martok can hang on to the High Council. The war hawks know that there will never be a better crack at the Federation than during a military coup. I'm also going to have to consider the sector Intelligence rep and the sector diplomatic liaison as either complicit or incompetent, because there is no way I should be hearing that first from you." There were some holodeck programs that were starting to sound mighty good right now, but he'd never have time to enjoy them properly at this rate.
He rubbed his chin, felt the stubble, and winced. When he got to a multiple-day growth of beard, things were starting to get serious. And the headaches he got whenever he daydreamed about the future were starting to take their toll on him too.
Rosaleen frowned. "I'm being very inconsiderate. There was nothing that couldn't wait until morning. You need sleep. You look...well, you've looked better."
Andrew chuckled darkly. "Nothing to worry about. You weren't interrupting anything that could be called restful sleep, I assure you." In point of fact, he had been in the middle of his wife haranguing him about being so desperate to leave her that he was turning his back on the Federation to do it when the door chime had dragged him out of that nightmare. "If anything, you probably did me a favor; I wasn't heading anywhere pleasant when the door chime went off. But between my subconscious reminding me of all the things I have to make sure don't go wrong and my frontal lobe throwing a painful mutiny every time I try to plan ahead to ensure said things don't go wrong... It's been a fun few days, not even factoring in the Taranok negotiations."
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, realizing that the unruly mop he had on his head was in all sorts of disarray. "You seem to have come out of your mission with a faint glow. Your eyes are practically luminescent."
A puzzled look spread across Rosaleen's face, and she stood and made her way to the nearest mirror. Looking at her reflection in the dimly lit room, she realized that Andrew was spot on. "That is the damnedest thing I have ever..." She turned to look at Andrew, a smile on her face now. "It's beautiful."
He chuckled. "I'll go out on a limb and say that the Enterprise reports were a little more redacted than we were led to believe. And yes, it is - and yes, you are." As he waited for Rosaleen to complete the self-examination, he dove back into the business conversation. "The last reports we had on the Ba'Ku was that they wanted to be left alone after... the last diplomatic incident. Did anything in your mission change that stance in a way I need to know about?"
As he waited for Rosaleen to tell him about the planet, he made a definite note to get a briefing on what metaphasic radiation could do to telepaths. Anything that would attenuate his recent headaches was worth looking into.
"The olive branch was offered and received with caution...understandable given their past associations with off-worlders. But I think some positive steps were made.. She walked back to the couch and sat again, this time a bit closer to Andrew. She curled her legs under her. "I feel like we have an obligation to them, and not based on my association to their race. The Federation 'outed' them, and with the breakdown of structure out here, who knows who else will want to move on the fountain of youth."
"I don't disagree with you there, but my ancient and cranky Prime Directive lecturer would rage at me across subspace if I failed to remind you that we can only do what they ask of us at the moment." He pitched his voice to make it clear he was on her side in this. "That said, assuming that high-security means a damn thing these days, it's unlikely outside powers have made too many inroads on this. The Romulans, possibly, but that's only because their recent thalaron research is the dark side of that particular coin."
"The Romulans need us more than we need them still. They are incapable of keeping their refugee colonies supplied without our aid. We have everything we need here to continue to support that roll. In fact, it probably wouldn't hurt for you to reach out to them to ensure them we will continue to provide aid. My concern is still the Klingons. They have the means to sweep through us without a second thought." She was quiet for a long moment, her past experiences moving through her thoughts. "We need to get to get the old Nirune shipyards opened back up and start building fighters as quickly as possible. Starships take too long to build. We need to strengthen our defenses as quickly as possible. We can send teams out to the various boneyards though to see what ships are salvageable though. That would cut down the build times significantly. But now we start to run into the problem of lack of personnel. Damn..."
"We certainly have enough personnel to do everything we can out here. Whether or not everything we can lines up with everything we need... Well, damn." Andrew fumbled for a PADD to make the note about a Romulan contact. "I guess I've been lucky; right now my staff is handling all the framework for the systems we're hoping to bring under our umbrella. But I'm going to have to probably figure out multipresence when we actually hit negotiations." Not to mention a better cocktail of stimulants. "The one saving grace is that the major powers don't dare send anything resembling a major strike force out this way until they get a better read on the Protectorate. We're the devil they know; the Protectorate is the devil they don't. And the Protectorate, on paper, is better armed and closer to empire homeworlds than we are."
"Well, we definitely need to be ready for anything. But for now..." Rosaleen slid close to Andrew, wrapping her arms around his left one. "...it's really good to be home. I missed you."
Andrew leaned unconsciously into Rosaleen. "It's definitely good to have you back. I haven't had an incredible amount of time to have the luxury of missing anyone or anything since things resolved on Taranok, but in that time, I missed you too."
Rosaleen yawned. "What I could go for is a good cold glass of..." Suddenly a glass filled with ice and water appeared in her hand. Andrew recognized it as one of the ones he kept in his cabinets...an old item from home. "...water....what the hell?" Rosaleen stood up, staring at the glass.
Andrew was awake now. He took a good look at the glass and then looked over at Rosaleen. "Excuse me a moment, if you would?" This last was said half over his shoulder as he checked the cabinet that glass would have come from. He counted them twice and noted that there was in fact one missing.
He came back across the room, picking up a tricorder from a side table as he did so. "I can't explain the ice water, but you plucked that glass out of my cabinet without any way I can see of you knowing it was there." He showed Rosaleen the tricorder, which was clearly in the off state. "Do your abilities normally run to telekinesis or psychic manifestation... if that's even the best explanation for the ice water?"
She sat the glass onto the table like she was afraid it would bite her. "Absolutely not." The room chilled a bit. "That has never happened before." Her eyes still glowed, accentuating how much paler she had become in the last minute. "Andrew...that just scared the hell out of me."
"I didn't quite get to scared, but I'll definitely vouch for unnerved.
Though I had just assumed you'd gone between the ticks and helped yourself to my drink cabinet - until I remembered there's been no occasion for you to know I had one." Andrew shivered. "If there's any correlation between temperature swing and mood, I'm guessing you're closer to terrified than scared. Do you want me to get a medic up here?"
Rosaleen shook her head almost violently. "No...nobody can hear of this." The look she gave him was the most intense he had ever seen. "I mean it, Andrew. I...I need..." She became silent as her mind raced. She was way beyond trying to control herself. "I need Kathleen. I need to get to her now."
Bouncing ideas around in his head, Andrew saw a way this could work. "If you can keep yourself together until we get there, we can use the transporter stage adjacent to the main ballroom and go site-to-site over to the commodore's office. It's about a three minute walk from here by the route I have in mind." He looked Rosaleen square in the eye. "Do you think that's workable, and is there anything I can do to help you along?"
Finally a little of the Rosaleen that he knew reappeared. "Uh...seriously? It's Three in the morning. I highly doubt that she will be in her office."
He rubbed his eyes. "With Kathleen, you never know, but fair point. I'm still a little too used to my room BEING my office. Even here it's only a couple minutes walk. But that doesn't matter, we can still site-to-site to the nearest junction to her quarters if you think you can hold together for five minutes; otherwise I'll wake her up and ask her to come over here."
"I can make it." She gave Andrew a weak smile. "I'm not handicapped or anything. Just a bit spooked is all. I think my time on Baku may have affected me somehow."
"I'm devoutly hoping it's your time on Baku, otherwise we have an entirely different new mystery to deal with." He picked up the tricorder and tapped his commbadge. "Matheson to Commodore O'Shea. Commander O'Donnell has just
shown me something of great interest potentially related to her recent mission. She says she needs to see you; I agree. ETA about as long as it takes my staff to set up a site-to-site transport and a short walk. Matheson out."
He tapped his commbadge again. "Matheson to Diplomatic Transporter Alpha. Requesting a site-to-site transport for the two people currently in my quarters. Destination is the nearest transport dropoff to Commodore O'Shea's quarters. Authorization Matheson Gamma Beta Six Three Omega." The security code would be high enough access to actually get him into that part of the starbase via teleporter; he'd figure out how to deal with the related questions later. He stepped next to Rosaleen and waited for the transporter lock.
A few moments later the world dissolved into a bright light.
Commander Andrew Matheson
Chief Diplomatic Officer
Lt. Commander Rosaleen O'Donnell
Chief of Staff