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Rihannsu
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 216
# 13
02-24-2013, 03:12 PM
"Red Alert! General quarters! All hands, man your battle stations!" Bryan yelled out. "Borg probe, thirty kilometers off the bow!"

Alarms blared and crew began scrambling onto and off of the bridge as they moved to their battle stations. Shortly thereafter, Ibalei took her place in the chair to Bryan's direct right.

"How much further until we can get a detailed scan, Athena?" Ibalei asked of the AI.

"Should be in range...Now." Athena responded.

"Helm, all stop." Bryan called out.

"Thank you Bryan," Ibalei said, nodding slightly. "Athena, get me a deep scan of that vessel. I want to know-"

"Just what is going on here Admiral?" A voice shouted from the turbolift on the starboard side of the Athena's bridge.

"Ambassador Zizania," Bryan said, acknowledging the Joined Trill his ship was carrying to meet with a race the Federation had just made first contact with. "We've just encountered a Borg probe. I'm not going any further until it's either destroyed or confirmed to be completely captured and secured."

"That could take hours! I'll be late for-"

"First of all, if you're late, your late. if need be, I'll apologize later," Bryan snapped. "Second, this ship has a quantum slipstream drive, remember? You should have nothing to worry about."

"But what if-"

"Justin, escort the Ambassador to his quarters."

"Right away, sir," the Athena's security chief said. "Come on Ambassador. Before you get into trouble."

"Athena, report?" Bryan called out, as the Ambassador and Justin left the Bridge.

"The probe is all but completely disabled, sir. The ship has no weapons, engines, or shields, the hull is breached in multiple zones, and there is only one active drone remaining. All others have either been ejected into space by hull breaches, destroyed by weapon impacts, or otherwise eliminated."

"Justin," Bryan said, tapping his combadge, "When your done taking the Ambassador to his quarters, I want you to get your best MACO team and have them meet Ibalei and I in transporter room one. There is still an active drone on that ship that I want captured. Clear?"

"Yes, sir," came his reply.

"Ibalei, get your combat gear. Let's get ready to move out."

"Sir, Starfleet regulations require me to inform you that you are not supposed to join an away mission without a full security compliment, and only once the zone is confirmed to be completely clear of hostiles." Ibalei warned rather sarcastically.

"Noted Ibalei." He responded.

"Good. With that out of the way, let's go get this thing done."

At that, the pair left for the Athena's armory to get their combat gear and prepare for the mission

********

The team beamed into a narrow corridor of the probe. Bryan silently motioned for them to spread out and search the room, but they found nothing that could be of any use, not even any evidence of who attacked the ship.

"All right, form up on me," Bryan called, and the team moved over to him. "Justin, how far away from the Drone's position are we?"

"Should be in the next room, sir" He said.

"Good. Set up to breach, and set your weapons to the maximum possible stun level."

The away team moved to the doorway and pressed themselves against it. After Justin finished setting up a photon grenade with a special shaped charge, Bryan silently counted down on his fingers, and when he got to zero, the grenade blew, destroying the door. The team moved in and spread out once more. All of a sudden, there was a single shot, and it connected squarely with Bryan's armor.

"Return fire!" Justin yelled out, and the entire room lit up with phaser fire.

"Bryan, are you all right?" Ibalei said once the cacophony died down.

"Yea, I'm fine," Bryan said, staring at the faint plasma burn in the armor's chestplate. "Caught me in the armor. Looks like they were right about this MACO equipment being much better than standard gear."

"Good. I'd hate for you to die right before the wedding," She laughed.

"Funny. Is the drone still online?"

"Looks like we just knocked it out," one of the MACOs said.

"Good. Everyone, get ready for transport. Justin, grab that thing to take back with us. I'll have Six and Syiseda see about trying to liberate it. Athena, five plus capture to beam out."

The faint hum of the transporters enveloped them once again, replacing the dark, angular corridors of the Borg probe with the clean and sleek appearance of the Athena's transporter room.

"Welcome back, sir," the transporter chief said.

"Thank you chief. Everyone, back to your posts."

At that, they all stepped off of the transporter pad and left for the armory to put their gear back where it belonged

********

"Status report," Bryan called out as he stepped back onto the bridge.

"Everything looks good so far, sir," Six called from her station.

He sat back down into the Captain's chair. "Good. Thryiss, target that probe and prepare to launch a full quantum torpedo salvo on my mark."

"Aye, aye sir," the Athena's Andorian weapons officer called from her station.

"Fire!"

Outside the front window, the three blueish white torpedoes sped away from their tubes and slammed into the probe's hull, finally destroying the crippled vessel. Suddenly, there was a bright green flash of a Borg ship warping into the area.

"Sir, Borg cube detected, twenty kilometers to port side!" Athena yelled out.

Bryan sat forward in his chair. "If I had to guess, that cube was coming to assist the damaged probe. Helm, take us in to engage," he said forebodingly.

"Bryan, are you insane?" Ambassador Zizania called from the entrance to the bridge.

"Maybe a little," Bryan conceded. "But the Athena is completely state of the art, right down to her polarized neutronium armor. She was designed to be able to take on a Borg cube."

"Just...Don't let me down, old friend," the Joined Trill responded walking up to Bryan. "I've already lost enough to the Borg."

"Don't worry," He said, standing up and gripping the Ambassador's shoulder, "I can do this."

Bryan sat back down as the Ambassador left the Bridge once again. "Are we in weapons range yet?"

"No, sir. Should be a couple more seconds." Thryiss said.

"Six, reroute auxiliary power to weapons and standby to reverse shield polarity on my mark."

"Aye, sir," the Athena's resident Liberated Borg said.

"Thryiss, overload the axial phaser banks and load a quantum torpedo salvo. Fire a full alpha strike on my mark."

"Yes, sir." The Andorian replied.

The cube drew steadily nearer, slowly and menacingly. Suddely, the one voice everyone had come to dread came on over the intercom. "We are the Borg. From this moment forward, your lives are forfeit. Your distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile."

"Fortune favor the bold," Bryan whispered to himself. "Thryiss, Six, now!"

The Athena lashed out at the Borg cube, her axial dual beam bank firing two massive orange beams towards the cube, followed closely by a trio of quantum torpedoes. Despite the onslaught from the Athena's most powerful weapons, the cube's shields barely held. The Borg return fire was also ineffective, however, as their heavy plasma beams hit the shields. Though some ships would have lost a fairly large percentage of their shields from the Borg's fire, the Athena's were capable of not only resisting more damage that most, but temporarily turning it into additional shield power for the vessel. The Athena began to turn ponderously around the massive cube, firing every weapon she had as soon as they came into arc. The Borg had one advantage that Bryan could not counter however.

"Sir, Borg shield neutralizer incoming!" Athena called over the intercom.

The Athena's shields glowed a bright green before dissipating in a short burst of light. Before he could say anything else, a Borg plasma beam ripped away from the Cube, catching the Athena's neutronium armor straight on. The hull held true however, and the ship kept fighting.

"Damage report!" Bryan yelled out.

"Moderate structural damage to decks seven and eight, starboard-bow quarter, zones four, five, and six," Six of Nine called out.

"Time to end this," Bryan muttered. "Thryiss, ready another quantum salvo, but hold them until I give the signal. For now, concentrate on bringing the Cube's shields down. Dwayne, match our movement speed with the Cube's rotational speed. Let's see if we can't overwhelm their shields."

The Athena's phaser banks continued to gradually melt away at the Cube's shields, until they finally sputtered and died.

"Now Thryiss!" Bryan yelled out.

Three more quantum torpedoes sped away from the Athena, this time passing through the recently downed shield and slamming into their target's hull, ripping open a massive breach.

"Sir, the Cube is preparing to warp out!" Athena said.

"Thryiss, get another torpedo right through that hull breach! See if you can't collapse the ship's hull integrity!"

One more torpedo sped away from the tube, passing through the hole in the previous salvo had created, and impacting the interior of the massive vessel.

"She's about to go critical sir!" Athena warned.

"Helm, full impulse away from that cube! Now!" Bryan yelled.

By the time the Cube finally went down the Athena was already well out of range of the main shockwave. The ship shuddered faintly when the blast impacted, but was otherwise unaffected.

"Report!" Bryan called.

"The Cube has been destroyed, sir," Athena called.

"Some minor structural damage to decks three, four, seven, eight, and ten, sir." Six called.

"Syiseda," Bryan said, tapping his combadge to signal the Athena's Betazoid chief medical officer, "How many injuries are we looking at?"

"Twenty-one injuries, sir," She reponded, "One of which is the Ambassador."

"How is he?"

"Critical condition, sir. I doubt he'll survive."

Bryan paused. "Are you sure?"

"Quite, sir. We're already preparing to remove the Symbiont, just in case."

"Athena, at best speed, how far are we away from Trill?"

"Five to five and a half days, depending on how much we rely on the slipstream drive," the AI responded.

"I'll be down there in just a moment, Syiseda," Bryan said, speaking again into his combadge.

"All right, sir." She said, her voice almost a whisper. "He said he wanted to speak to you anyway."

Bryan tapped his chair's intercom button and called, "All hands, this is the Admiral speaking, secure from general quarters. The vessel is no longer under threat. Return to standard duty rotations, beginning with beta shift."

"Bryan, do you mind if I go with you?" Ibalei asked.

"Of course not," Bryan said, looking slightly distressed at the news of the Ambassador's injury. "I'd really appreciate the company."

*******

"You know," Ambassador Zizania said laughing slightly, as Bryan strode up to his bedside, "I always thought you'd be the death of me."

"Nonsense," Bryan said, looking into the eyes of his old friend and mentor. "You're not done berating me for everything I do yet."

"You're right. Shotgun diplomacy only works if your opponent doesn't have a weapon of his own."

Now it was Bryan's turn to laugh. "Three and a half years out of the Academy, and you're still trying to teach me the fine art of diplomacy."

"Of course. It's my job." the Joined Trill said, smiling.

"And will be for a while." Bryan said, his voice beginning to falter.

"Sir," Syiseda said as she walked up behind him, "it's now or never. I need to get the Symbiont removed right away."

Bryan looked back at her. "Are you sure there's nothing more you can do for him?"

"I've reached the limits of modern medical science, sir," she replied, looking sadly towards the bed where Ambassador Zizania lay. "The physical trauma was easy enough to repair, but he lost a lot of blood, and there may still be some internal bleeding."

Bryan waited for a second. "Very well," he turned back to the Ambassador.

"So, I guess this is goodbye?"

"No. it's not. I'll see you soon, my friend." Bryan said, smiling. "Syiseda, do your best to simulate the Symbiont's natural environment in any way you can. I want to make sure that Zizania survives until we reach Trill."

"Already done, sir. Ibalei was a huge help in getting it set. It should theoretically last for at least six days."

"Good. I want him to live on. At least now he has a chance at doing just that."

At that, Bryan turned and began to leave when he remembered the guest they brought aboard.

"One more thing Syiseda, have you already taken care of the Borg we brought aboard from that Probe?"

"Yes, sir. She's in the Brig if you'd like to speak with her."

*******

"Designation and Unimatrix number." Bryan said tersely as he entered the Brig.

"I am unit Ten of Ten," The Borg said mechanically. "Formally of Unimatrix Zero-Zero-Three-Nine, assigned to recon probe designation reconnaissance vessel twelve of seventeen."

"And what was your mission?"

"To scout the sector for the possibility of adding it to the distinctiveness of the collective. Our probe was attacked by species designation 8472, or, as you refer to them, the Undine."

"And you no longer hear the collective?"

"I will always hear them. But I no longer serve them."

"Six," Bryan said, speaking now into his combadge, "Can you confirm what she just said?"

"One step ahead of you sir. She is no longer a member of the collective."

"There is another like me in your crew?" Ten asked.

"Yes," Bryan replied. "Her designation was Six of Nine. She was in the Khitomer system."

"I would like to speak with her."

"I'll have her sent down. But first, I have a question for you."

"What is it?"

"How good are you with torpedoes and the like?"

"My primary function on the probe was to utilize torpedoes."

"In that case, would you like to serve as a projectile weapons officer on my ship? I am short several crew, and I am able to waive any and all training as circumstances require."

"Very well." Bryan began to walk away as the Borg spoke up once more, "Thank you...Sir."

"Of course. I will always be happy to do anything and everything for my crew."

*******

"Admiral on-" Justin began to say as Bryan stepped onto the Bridge.

"Save it Justin." Bryan interrupted him. He walked across to his chair in the center of the bridge and sat down. "Aara, can you contact the Trill Symbiosis Commission?"

"Right away, sir." The Orion said.

"Admiral Valot," the head of the Commission said as he appeared on the screen." What do you want?"

"I wish I could be calling with better news, but Ambassador Pakan Zizania was killed when a Borg Cube attacked the Athena en route to the rendezvous in Gamma Orionis."

"And the Symbiont?"

"Still alive. We were able to recover it before the ambassador died. My chief medical officer has placed it in a simulated environment that should be able to last until we arrive at Trill."

"Which will be how long?"

"About five days. The Symbiont's environment should hopefully last for Six."

"Very good, Valot. We will meet with you outside the Caves of Mak'ala once you have reached Trill."

"I'll contact you with any new developments. Valot, out." The large cetral viewscreen switched back to an image of the night sky. "I'll be in my quarters if anyone needs me."

*******

Bryan and Ibalei were startled awake by the sound of Bryan's combadge chirping beside the bed. Sighing, Bryan picked it off of his uniform, tapped it and said "Bryan, go."

"Sir," came Syiseda's worried voice, "I've got bad news about the Symbiont."

"Is there any other kind?" Bryan muttered to himself. "All right, what is it."

"You and the First officer had better get down here so I can explain in better detail."

"Fine. We'll be there in a minute."

Both Bryan and Ibalei climbed out of the bed and began to put their uniforms back on.

"I hope the Symbiont is all right," Ibalei said worriedly.

"I agree," Bryan replied. "Zizania was one of my favorite instructors back at the academy."

"What do we do if the Symbiont is in trouble?" she asked.

Bryan paused. "I don't know yet. I'd need to contact the Symbiosis Commission for their opinion."

"Sir, I'd like to confess something."

"Go ahead, Ibalei."

"You recall I told you that I was considered a likely candidate for being joined?"

"Yes. You basically told them you wanted to live your own life first, correct?"

"Yes, well, they had already picked a Symbiont for me, one that had only been in three other hosts. I'll give you one guess which it was."

"Zizania?"

"Yep. He hand-picked me too. I was to succeed Pakan as the fourth host. I imagine they've already chosen someone else though."

"Well, let's hope that the Symbiont will last the rest of the trip."

With that, the two left the room, now wearing their full uniforms and headed towards a turbolift. "Sickbay," Bryan called as they stepped inside, and the lift sped away. Several seconds later, the doors opened, this time revealing the Athena's main Sickbay, which also happened to be where Syiseda's office on the ship was.

"What do you need Syiseda?" Bryan asked.

"Sir, you know the habitat Ibalei and I prepared for the Symbiont? Our estiamtes were wrong. It won't make it until we arrive at Trill. By my estimates, it will only last, at most, six hours."

Bryan immediately felt a sense of dread. "Are you sure?" he asked.

"Ibalei?"

She had been completely silent the entire time, and looked as though she had seen a ghost. "The entire environment is collapsing," she said, studying the readout for the the artificial habitat.

"I'll contact the Symbiosis Commission. Let's see what they have to say about this."

Bryan left the room and headed back to his quarters. he sat down at his desk and tapped a few commands into the console Suddenly, the screen changed, showing the Symbiosis Commission's leader.

"Valot. What do you need now?"

"There's been a...Complication with the Zizania Symbiote," Bryan replied, looking down slightly.

"Define 'Complication' Admiral," The Trill said, obviously very worried.

"The environment has started to destabilize earlier than expected. We estimate that we have only six more hours until we lose the Symbiont for good. Meanwhile, it will still take us about a day before we reach Trill, even at our best possible speed."

"Where is the nearest medical vessel?"

"Athena?"

"Around ten hours, even with Quantum Slipstream frive."

"Give me a full listing of all of your Trill crew members, Valot," the Symbiosis Commission's leader said, looking pale as a ghost.

"Athena, compile a full list of all Trill crew members on the Athena," Bryan called.

"Done, sir," the AI said, less than half a second later. "Shall I forward it to the commissioner?"

"Do it."

The Trill on the screen picked up a PADD and began studying it. He briefly stopped, but continued on. After several minutes of looking, he set the PADD back down.

"Two things, Admiral. First, I noticed there is another Joined Trill in your crew. Sujoi?"

"Yes, she serves as the ship's chief counselor," Bryan said, remembering one of the Athena's more recent additions to the crew. "The fact that she has multiple lifetimes of experience to call upon has been very helpful to the crew when talking to her. What was the second thing?"

"I noticed that Commander Ibalei Zera is your First Officer. The fact that you have another Joined in your crew will make what I'm about to ask a little easier for Commander Zera to do."

"Let me stop you right there," Bryan said, knowing what the Commissioner was about to ask. "Ibalei has already informed you and the rest of the Commission that she has no desire to be Joined, correct?"

"Yes, but the circumstances are different now. First, I can all but guarantee that the Zizania Symbiont will accept her. I can't say the same for any of the other unjoined Trill in your crew. Second, given that she is a telepath, she can join with Sujoi's mind, and have all of the required training and information within an hour. Third, as you are quite aware, the Symbiont will not survive the remaining trip home."

"How can you be sure that the Symbiont will accept her?"

"Because it chose her. Very few Symbionts make a choice like that, but when they do, it has almost always been the correct one."

Bryan looked out the window at the far end of his quarters solemnly. "I'll let her know as soon as I can."

"Thank you, Admiral. Was there anything else you needed?"

"No. I'll contact you once we've implanted the Symbiont."

"Very well. Symbiosis Commission, out."

Bryan sat back in his chair, wondering what to do. He had just made two contradicting promises in one day. He, on one hand, subtly promised Ibalei that he wouldn't make her join with the Symbiont, but on the other, he promised the Symbiosis Commission to do just the opposite.

"Ibalei, could I see you in my quarters for a minute?" he said tapping the intercom button, still thinking about what to do. By the time she stepped through the door, he still had no idea which side he should take.

"You asked to see me, sir?" She said, her voice filled with sadness.

"Yes. I just finished my call with the Symbiosis Commission," Bryan said, preparing to make a final decision.

"And I take it they asked that I be joined with Zizania?"

Bryan sat there silently.

"Let me save you some trouble Bryan," she said, telepathically sensing Bryan's dilemma. "I'll do it."

"Well, what about the other Trill on the Athena? I mean, there's Sanati, Jenes, Corsan...Among others."

"Yes, but only one Trill on this entire boat was handpicked by the very Symbiont that we are transporting. I imagine he also suggested that I get the necessary training by telepathically joining minds with Sujoi?"

"Yes, he did."

"Then I'll also be better prepared for what is to come than some others might be. I only have two requests, however."

"Of course. Anything you need, just ask."

"Thank you, Bryan. First, I'd like to speak with my family before being joined."

"Of course. What else?"

"I'd like you to be there during my Zhian'tara."

Bryan smiled a little, "Of course I will. I had intended to if you were going to take the Symbiont."

"Thank you," She said, smiling for the first time since they got the bad news about the Symbiont.

"I'll give you some privacy so you can talk to your parents."

*******

Bryan walked back in, about half an hour later, to find Ibalei sitting at the desk crying.

"Ibalei, what's wrong?" he asked, walking over to her.

She got up from the chair and walked across to the window. "My parents have effectively disowned me."

"What?" Bryan almost shouted. "Why?"

"Well, first, I told them about the fact that I'm being Joined. That wasn't what upset them initially, as they though I was doing it by my own choice," She said, her voice rife with grief. "But then I told them about why it's happening. That's what they were initially angry about. Eventually, when things were starting to actually cool down, I told them about us. It was at that point that they said 'No daughter of ours will ever marry a human.'"

"Well, if it's any consolation, mine said basically the same thing about me marrying a 'Spot head.'" Bryan said bitterly.

"So, it looks as if it really is just us against the universe," Ibalei said with equal bitterness.

"Well, if it were going to just be me and one other person, I'm glad it's you," He said, smiling as he looked into her eyes.

"Same here," She said, smiling slightly as well, despite the tears still in her eyes.

"Well, are you ready to begin?"

"I guess so," She said.

Bryan tapped his combadge and called, "Sujoi, could Ibalei and I see you in my quarters please?"

"Right away, sir," the Joined Trill replied.

It didn't take long for her to arrive. She stepped through the door and said, "You needed me, sir?"

"Have you already been briefed on what you and the First Officer are going to be doing?"

"Syiseda informed me, yes. Are you ready Ibalei?"

"As ready as I can be for something like this."

"Very well. This will feel like a lot longer than it really will be, although it will still take about an hour. Rest assured, however, you'll have as much, if not more, training than most other hosts."

At that, both looked carefully into each others eyes before the stares of both became blank.

*******

"Done," Sujoi said, blinking heavily.

Ibalei almost fell, as Bryan ran over to catch her. "Well, that was..Not what I was expecting," she said in a slight daze.

"Are you all right?" Bryan asked worriedly.

"I'll be fine. But the sooner we can get this over with, the better."

"Come on, let's get you down to the med bay."

All three silently left Bryan's quarters. Once outside, they found an open turbolift and stepped inside. "Sickbay," He called, and the doors hissed shut. They continued to stand silently until the doors slid open, once more revealing another one of the Athena's sleek corridors.

As the trio entered the sickbay, Bryan called out, "We're ready Syiseda."

The Betazoid stepped out of her office. "Are you sure?" she asked. "This is your last chance if you want to back out, Ibalei."

"Yes," she replied. "It's my duty, both to the Federation and my people."

"Very well. Let's get you sedated. Bryan, I'm going to have to ask you to step out side while we preform the surgery."

"Good luck Ibalei," Bryan said, "and know that I'll always love you, no matter what happens today."

"Don't worry," She replied, kissing him lightly, "I'll still be me. I'll just have three others with me as well."

*******

Bryan paced around the hallway outside the sickbay. He couldn't stop thinking about what had been going on inside for the past hour. Occasionally, he would stop at the door, and press his ear against it, hoping to hear anything, but to no avail. After what seemed like an eternity, Syiseda finally appeared in the doorway.

"How is she?" Bryan asked anxiously.

"She'll recover," The Betazoid said. "She's still unconcious for right now, but the Symbiont shows no sign of rejection. Primary brainwave patterns are still similar to Ibalei's before being joined, however, there are now a number of competing secondary ones. For the moment however, it appears that she'll still be, for the most part, the same Ibalei we've all come to know."

"Good. I guess that means we need to get to Trill to preform her Zhian'tara, correct?"

"That's a common misconception, actually. the Zhian'tara is not required, but it is strongly recommended, as it will help her sort through which voice belongs to whom."

"Well, we're still going to have it done. She already expressed that she would like for me to be there for hers, which I will."

"I was doing some reasearch on the Zizania Symbiont earlier," Syiseda said thoughtfully. "From the looks of it, of the now four hosts, Ibalei is the first female."

"Really?"

"Yes. The first was a police officer on Trill approximately 200 years ago. Killed in the Line of duty 185 years ago. Second was actually a Starfleet officer. He reached Lieutenant Commander rank, and served as the chief engineer on the U.S.S. Yorktown. Died of old age approximately 75 years ago. You already know the third."

"How much longer until she wakes up?"

"She should reawaken by the time we reach Trill. I've already contacted the Symbiosis Commission to have them prepare a guardian for her Zhian'tara."

"Good. Athena," he called, this time speaking to the Ship's AI, "I'll be in my quarters. Let me know when we reach Trill."

"Yes, sir," the AI replied. "Do you want me to inform you if and when Commander...Zizania awakens as well?"

"Yes, Thank you Athena."

*******

Bryan sat sleeping in a chair near the window at the far end of his quarters when the doorbell startled him awake.

"Enter," He called, rubbing his eyes. "What do you need?"

"And here I though you'd be happier to see your wife," came a familiar voice from behind him.

Bryan quickly turned around and looked into her grey eyes. "Ibalei!" He shouted, almost jumping out of his chair as he ran over and gave her the most passionate kiss he could.

"That's the reaction I was hoping for," she whispered quietly when they both finally came up for air.

"Athena, why didn't you inform me that Ibalei was awake?" Bryan called.

"I did," the AI replied calmly. "You were asleep."

"Also, Athena told me to tell you that we're about five minutes away from Trill," Ibalei said.

"Good. I'm really glad you're still...You," Bryan replied, smiling a little.

"Don't worry, I'll always still be me," she said, smiling as well, "I just have a few more voices in here, that's all."

"Athena, once we arrive at Trill, tell Ensign Dwayne to establish standard orbit. Ibalei and I are going to beam down with a small away team so that we can perform her Zhian'tara. Did you have in mind who else you want to bring with you?"

"Yes. I was hoping Justin and Dwayne would as well."

"That sounds like a plan. You may want to let them know of that, though," Bryan said, chuckling a little.

"Agreed," She said, laughing a little herself. "We'll...Wait...I'll tell them as soon as possible."

Bryan laughed a little. "We'll?"

"Oh shut it. It's going to take a little while to get used to having all of these different voices in my head."

"Don't worry. I'm sure you'll get used to it soon enough...Dax."

"Very funny Bryan," she replied sarcastically, despite starting to laugh herself.

"Come on, let's go get Dwayne and Justin," Bryan said, smiling.

*******

The four of them beamed in right outside a large cave, where several others were already standing.

"Greetings, Admiral Valot," one of the Trill, the one Bryan had been speaking with during the ordeal on the Athena. "And it's nice to see you again Zizania."

"Same to you, Bireir," Ibalei said, clearly speaking for her new Symbiont. "Shall we get on with this?"

"Are your companions here for your Zhian'tara?"

"Yes. Justin will be speaking for Endrin, Dwayne for Hinar, and Bryan for Pakan."

"Very well. Let us begin. First, are you all ready for what is about to happen?"

"Yes, we are," Bryan replied, even though he didn't quite feel ready.

"And are you ready, Ibalei Zizania?"

"I guess so," she said.

"Then empty your thoughts and clear your minds. This will be done before you know it."

*******

"So, how does it feel Ibalei?" Bryan asked, back in his quarters on the Athena.

"I'll admit, it's not what we...erm...I was expecting," she replied.

"Well, I'm just glad to know that you're still you," he said, smiling.

"Well, who were you expecting? Dax?" She replied sarcastically.

Bryan leaned back in his chair. "I was expecting not to have to Join you with a Symbiont partially against your will."

Ibalei shifted into the chair with him. "Well, if it makes you feel any better, I'm actually rather glad to have been given the opportunity. Something about it just feels...right."

"I just wish it could have been under better circumstances," Bryan replied sadly. "Though, that's a complete 180 from your previous stance on being joined."

"I guess actually being joined has allowed me to put it in perspective. Not to mention the fact that talking to the other hosts during my Zhian'tara gave me an opportunity to realize just what joining is really about."

"And that is?"

She leaned her head against Bryan's shoulder. "I guess it's to build a living history of the entire Trill race. At least that's how I interpret it."

Bryan leaned his head onto Ibalei's and placed his arm around her shoulders. "I guess this begs the question where do we go from here?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, our parents are no longer acknowledging that we exist, you're sharing a body with three others,...and we still haven't planned when to have the wedding."

"Well, planning can be taken care of at some other time. As for our parents, it actually feels kind of freeing to know that they're not going to be watching my every move anymore. And as for sharing a body, the...others can provide me with advice, but they still don't really have any control over me."

"I can't wait to see what you're able to do with that advice."

"Agreed. But, for right now, we're off duty," she said, kissing him playfully. "Both Zizania and I think that we should make good use of the time we have here before we need to get back on-duty."

"Oh really?" He said. "What did you two have in mind?"

Ibalei whispered something into his ear and Bryan chuckled a little. With that, the pair walked through the door way to Bryan's bedroom and kissed passionately before the door shut behind them.

*******

Ibalei lay awake next to Bryan, thinking about what she had just been through. She wasn't the first Trill to be joined under a state of emergency, and she knew that she wouldn't be the last. But she was for the moment, happy. She stood up from the bed, slipped an undershirt on, and looked out the window, watching the Asynchronous Warp field pulse gently against the night sky.

"You've done quite well for yourself, Ibalei," the remnants of Pakan whispered in the back of her mind.

"Well, he's been a big help," She thought, looking over to Bryan, who was still sleeping on the bed.

"All the same, you're a strong women, and you truly deserve this honor."

"Thank you Pakan. Both for helping me through this, and for being there for both of us during the academy."

"Of course," He whispered as he started to fade back into her subconscious.

"Wait, before you go, I had a question."

"What is it Ibalei?"

"Why are you still letting me be...well...me? I mean, from what I've seen most others who have been are usually different than before they were joined."

She felt him pause a moment, just before the Symbiont spoke up, "Because, you've worked hard to get to where you're at. You have a life. I've complicated that for you. It would be best for me to only advise, and speak through you as little as possible."

"I..."she paused mid-thought, realizing the sacrifice Zizania had made for her in giving up the freedom some Symbionts have to let her continue to, for the most part, live her life as her own. "Thank you Zizania. You won't regret giving me this chance."

She felt the Symbiont's happiness about that comment. "I know, Ibalei. In addition to all of this what I just mentioned, you and Bryan have both had enough hardship. I don't need to add to it. After all you two have been through in the past three years alone, not to mention what could still happen, with the Federation fighting a war on three fronts."

Ibalei would have yelled out with joy, had Bryan not been sleeping right in front of her. "I..I don't know what to say. Thank you so much, Zizania."

The Symbiont faded back into her subconscious as she smiled and turned back to look out the window. For the first time in her life, despite effectively cutting all ties to her family, it seemed as if everything was coming together, and she was grateful to be able to share it with Bryan.
Vice Admiral Bryan Mitchel Valot
Commanding officer: Odyssey class U.S.S. Athena
Admiral of the 1st Assault Fleet
Join date: Some time in Closed Beta

Last edited by ironphoenix113; 02-25-2013 at 01:15 PM.