..........Jack regrets taking leave on Risa--almost as much as leave, in and of itself. Walking along the shore, she thinks the sun sits too perfect, like nectarine syrup, on the horizon. Waves break and the waters roll along her toes. That warm, 39.1 degrees centigrade. The temperature behind the bussard collector.
..........She sprays lotion over her hands. Her family came from a human ex-pat community on Andoria, before the war broke. All she remembered needing there were thermal layers lined to block UV rays. Here? People expected her to walk around half disrobed with the callous sun beating down at 39.1.
..........On arrival, she felt... exposed--yet she wore shorts and a shirt.
..........A Vulcan diplomat and his entourage sit just a few rows down. A clean, bowl-cut and those sharp ears--sharp enough to know whatever his next lecture would be, it would--at least--be heard.
.........."The question of 'free' Borg-" He looks toward Jack and her Starfleet satchel. "-the question does raise the issue of whether we can justify continued destruction of their ships. Were you aware there are children aboard the drone ships?"
..........Jack doubts if his companions aren't aware. The Vulcan saw her bag, the ship insignias and patches running up the armband. His lecture aims for her. Thoughts of screaming at him like the Andorian children at recess in her youth play through Jack's mind. Kick dirt at him and she's another drunk sailor. Ignore him and he'd sit content in his most logical deductions. Ferengi itemized their neat, little deductions. While running aid to Reman in the Haarkona system, she'd once told a Ferengi Daimon where to itemize such deductions, in what orifice, and with how much force. Jack smiles at this.
.........."Perhaps, this young woman can offer her insight?" The Vulcan turns. He wants dialectic.
..........Smile fading, Jack stood up. The implant on her left brow arches.
.........."Don't the Vulcans euthanize?" She lets the word escape her lips like a computer system failing. Without a break, she waves her hand and runs into the water. She breathes long and hard and dives...
.............under the water, she holds her knees to her breasts. It reminds her of the ship. The one place she felt was her haven, her home. At the bridge, diplomats' lectures didn't give her pause. She knew how to outmaneuver a Romulan Warbird, how to stand against a Klingon carrier and send a few more good men and women off to Sto'vo'kor. She could immerse herself in work, just as she could at the bottom of the wading pool. No breaches. No need for Structural Integrity Fields. Just immersion.
..........Yet, here she sits, at the bottom. Warm water all around her. The same 39.1 degrees that broke her down outside her post. The smell of the Borg nanites like cheap synthale. She smelled it in the showers in her quarters anymore. 39.1 degrees. Hot. She didn't know why she chose it but she brought it on herself. She'd shower until her skin ran redder than her uniform.
..........Her thoughts drift toward her leave ending--this detour on Risa over as soon as possible. She tells herself that her XO could use the leave time to see his family. It's settled. I'll re-assume command; let him relax. Assume command. Assumptions.