USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Taking a Walk Through the Recesses of Your Mind

Posted on Thu Mar 30th, 2017 @ 10:50pm by Lieutenant Kazyah Linn & Commander Akiva ben-Avram

Mission: S1E5 - Unknown Territory
Location: Akiva's Office - USS Vindex
Timeline: MD 74; 1432 hours

Kazyah Linn stood before Akiva's office, pacing in front of the door. He'd been here for the past ten minutes trying to work up the courage to actually ring the chime, but it still escaped him. It had only been a day since his charges were dropped and his new orders had come in, but he hadn't left his room the entire day. At this point, everyone hated him, for reasons outside of his control, so he felt it best to avoid them at all costs.

He took a deep breath and pressed his finger to the chime, immediately wishing he hadn't. While they did seem to have an understanding, Kaz couldn't help but think there was still something there that gave Akiva pause.

"Enter." Akiva did not look up from his desk, though he began looking for a place to stop in the report he was reading.

A few moments passed but the doors did not open.

Akiva shrugged and went back to his report.

After a minute or two, the doors finally opened and Kaz stepped into the room. Rather than his uniform, he simply wore a pair of jeans and a tight fitting black v-neck. "Hi," he said, softly, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Akiva looked up and set down the PADD. "You're out of uniform, Lieutenant."

"I'm not on duty," Kaz replied. "Also, I don't have any uniforms."

Akiva smirked at his own cruelty in making Kazyah state the obvious. "What can I do for you, Mister Linn?"

"I was hoping to talk to you, get a feel for the general thoughts on me coming back," he said, taking a seat even though it wasn't offered.

"I can't say as I relish you being under my command," Akiva said bluntly, "given your past performance." He cleared the desk enough to prop up his elbows and fold his hands, fingers steepled, in front of him. "What are you after, Kazyah?"

The man shrugged, "I guess I don't really know," he said. "It would be nice for you not to say 'given your past performance' when talking to me. I'm really tired of hearing about it and getting looks when I walk past people."

Akiva cocked his head. "Perhaps you should have thought about that when making those choices," he said. "Nobody can escape what's inside them."

Kaz rolled his eyes, "My charges were dropped, Akiva. Doesn't that make you think that maybe I'm innocent?"

"I don't trust you, so no," Akiva said flatly. "The circumstances surrounding the entire investigation, including your own concerns of corruption, do not shine a convincing light on your sudden acquittal."

Kaz considered what the man said for a moment, in silence. "Then let me show you," he said. "You don't trust me and you don't believe me. But I can prove everything to you," he said. "I'll open my mind and let you see everything that happened."

Akiva clenched his jaw and gulped. "After our past mission, I'm sure you can appreciate my apprehension for subjecting myself to telepathic persuasion."

Kaz nodded, "I get it," he simply said, standing up from the chair. "The offer is on the table. If you ever feel up to knowing the truth, let me know." He turned and walked towards the door.

"Put yourself in my shoes, you bastard." Akiva scowled across the room, though his eyes kept lingering on Kazyah. "I say I don't trust you, and your answer is to have me put my very mind in your hands? What would you do in my place?"

Kaz stopped just shy of the door, not turning around. He waited before he answered, convincing himself not to lash out in anger. "I said I got it. And I really do, Akiva." The man still didn't turn around. "I understand what happened and I understand your reluctance. That's why I'm not pressuring you. I'm just laying the offer on the table."

"Swear to me," Akiva said at length. "I need to know the truth. Swear to me you will not... fiddle around in there. If you do, Ha'Shem spare me if I don't kill you where you stand."

"I'll do you one better." Kaz turned around with a phaser in his hand. After a moment, he held it out to Akiva, handle first. "If you feel, at any time, that something is not kosher, then you can take care of me right here and right now. I'll talk you through the entire process and I'll even give you complete control while in my mind. The only thing you won't be able to see is most of the classified information I know."

"How will I know you aren't stealing my command codes?" Akiva asked. "Again."

"If you remember, you never gave them to me," Kaz said with a smirk. "As for your mind..." Kaz shrugged, "You're just going to have to take a leap of faith with me."

Akiva frowned at the phaser before reluctantly accepting it. "How do we begin?"

"Well, first you'll want to choose where we do this. Somewhere you feel most comfortable. Then, we'd sit down and I'm going to need to touch you in a sensitive area to create a solid bond. The most effective places for something this complicated would be behind your ears, under the cradle of your arms or your inner groin. Given your clear discomfort with my interrogation method, I would think behind your ears would be the most appropriate."

"I'd rather kill you here than in my quarters, so this will do fine," Akiva said as he trained the phaser on Kazyah. "You may... touch my ears when ready."

"Have a seat." Kaz watched Akiva sit down and slid himself onto the Commander's desk. Taking the side of Akiva's neck in his hands, Kaz gently rubbed his thumbs along the soft skin behind the man's ears where his jaw met his skull. He took a deep breath and held it for a moment before letting it out in a long, meditative fashion.




Akiva felt a headrush as though falling from a great height only to crash to a sudden halt. His vision felt blurry, almost washed out and fish-eyed.

"Is this how you saw the world before... Veloz Prime?" Akiva asked. He was startled when his voice sounded harmonized with Kaz's. "What's happening?"

"Our minds are linked," Kaz's voice said, though there was no material form to link to the vocal modulation Akiva heard. "You will see things as I see them, but with your eyes instead of your mind, as I do. They will not quite be the same."

"Show me the beginning," Akiva said, trying to ignore the odd vocal effect of their shared consciousness.

The air swirled around Akiva, filled with emotion and quiet whispers that he couldn't quite understand, as if they were too far away to hear. Suddenly, the feeling calmed and Akiva found himself standing in Kaz's quarters, watching him work at his personal desk.

An audible sound buzzed from the desktop, alerting the man of a communication. With a press of his thumb to the panel on the front, a screen rose from the wooden top.

"Lieutenant Linn, I understand you have been trying to get ahold of me," said a grizzled man on the screen. His Commodore pips slightly covered by the man's greying beard.

"I have," Kaz said, running his hand over the screen of a PADD to read its contents. "My infiltration of the Consortium has been successful. But I've learned of a plot by Commander Tolan to take over the Vindex and put it under Consortium control. I need new orders," he said.

Akiva took a few steps forward, getting a better look at the man in the screen. Realization sparked in the Commander's mind as he recognized the familiar face. He reached out to put a hand on the desk, but there was no corporeal form that he could touch. Rather, he clasped his hands behind his back and watched in silence.

"New orders?" The Commodore looked confused, "Kazyah, your orders remain the same. Your loyalties do not sit with the Vindex, and should she fall, you will continue to perform your duties. You cannot lose your cover. We need someone in the upper echelon of the Consortium for information."

Kaz sat there for a few moments in silence, his teeth biting the inside of his cheek. "Aye, sir. I'll keep you informed on the state of the Vindex."

"We do not care of the state of the Vindex," the Commodore said, leaning towards the screen. "Stay close to Tolan, Kazyah. The Consortium is splintering, but there's something else at work. Something we aren't sure of. We need to know the Director's plans."

"The Director?" Kaz asked, suddenly unsure of what the man was talking about. "Who is that?"

"We aren't sure, yet," The Commodore stated. "But there've been whispers of a Director with great telepathic abilities. He is staging himself to take power once the Consortium crumbles. He is the ultimate target. You cannot allow the Vindex's misfortune to hinder your mission. The fate of the Federation may be at stake here."

Kaz nodded, "Understood, Commodore. I will be radio silent until the mission is complete." Without waiting for a response, Kaz tapped the control panel and the screen went black, lowering itself back into his desk.

Another swirl surrounded Akiva and he found himself standing in the void once more.

Akiva narrowed his eyes in silent response to the revelation. It was possible that Kaz could have pulled that commodore's face from his mind, or could have guessed which commodore would've responded to his inquiry. A niggling feeling inside him said otherwise.

"No questions yet," Kaz's non-corporeal voice said, knowing that the Commander had many in his mind. "You wanted the truth so I must give it to you raw, without bias from my own explanations. You will form your own opinion based upon the evidence you see and may ask questions when we are finished."

When Akiva deigned not to speak, the emotional air began its torrent once again and the Commander found himself standing in Kaz's quarters again, but this time, in the bedroom.

On the floor, with his back against the wall, Kaz sat with his head resting on his knees. In one hand was a bottle of amber liquid, half empty, in the other, a PADD that contained a list of names. He slid a finger, lazily across the screen, reading the names.

"I can't do this," he said to himself, his voice slurring from intoxication. He pressed the bottle to his lips and swallowed a few mouthfuls of the liquid, dropping the PADD on the floor. He pressed his wrist against his face, wiping away his tears with the sleeve of his shirt, though it did little to help as the tears continued to flow down his cheeks.

Akiva noted the PADD discarded on the floor. "What's on the PADD?" he asked, squatting next to the physical Kazyah, trying to read the screen.

"That is the list of hostages I received before we took over the ship," non-corporeal Kaz stated. "It is also the list of people that were to be killed once we were in control. You, Catalina Ghatto and Storr Garlake are on that list. Among many others."

Physical Kaz tried his best to stand, grabbing the PADD and using the wall for balance as he stumbled forward. "I can't do this," he mumbled to himself again, his frustration quickly becoming anger. He walked from the bedroom into the main room, eventually finding his way to the living area. He dropped to his knees next to the glass coffee table, ripping his combadge from his uniform.

He threw the small device on the table and picked up the nearest object he could find, the marble betazoid deity figurine that he used to meditate with. He paused for a moment, his face scrunching in agonizing pain. "You don't deserve this!" he screamed, raising the figuring and bringing it down on the communication device. After two good hits, the pendant cracked and the inner mechanics became damaged beyond repair. He raised the figurine again, this time bringing it down as hard as he could, the marble shattering the glass on impact. The man collapsed on the bed of glass shards and sobbed, holding the PADD close to his chest as his legs were pulled to his torso in a fetal position.

Akiva stilled the quiver in his jaw, forcing himself to remain objective. Emotions ultimately did not matter when it came to choices and their consequences. Or so he told himself.

Another emotional wind surrounded Akiva and the scene changed once more. The quiet whispers gnashed at him with hurt and pain, their emotional state obvious, despite their hushed tones. This time, Akiva found himself in a turbolift, physical Kaz standing there, his fingers caressing a familiar, small communication device.

The doors opened and a handsome Bajoran man stepped in, his uniform jacket hanging open and the yellow undershirt half-way open as well. "Good afternoon, Kazyah," the man said, stepping into the lift.

"You're out of uniform, Ensign Kellyn," Kaz said, his face not turning towards the other man.

"Why does it matter?" the man said, taking off his jacket and throwing it to the ground. "Now that we're in charge, we can do whatever we want. I've always hated Starfleet and I hate wearing their uniform."

Kaz bit his inner cheek, taking a deep breath. "Despite our actions today, we were Starfleet Officers, and you would do good to remember that. They gave you something you couldn't have given yourself. We work in service of the Federation."

The man's eyebrows scrunched together in both confusion and concern, "What does it matter? The Federation can burn for all I care."

Kaz turned to the man but said nothing, instead looking forward again.

"I heard the green girl from Science is coming with us," the Bajoran man said, deciding to change the subject. "I don't know about you but I can't wait to get a piece of that. Some of the others are saying that Tolan is taking prisoners to keep us occupied until the Consortium comes to get us." He threw out his elbow, nudging Kaz in the side.

In a quick motion, Kaz grabbed the man's elbow, twisting him towards the turbolift wall and slamming his face into the bulkhead. "Listen to me, you worthless excuse for a man. We are the villains in this story," Kaz growled into the man's ear as he continued to slam his face into the wall. "And if I hear you touch a single hair on anyone's head, I will kill you!"

The Security Officer's body went limp as it fell to the ground, the wall of the turbolift streaked with blood.

Kaz stumbled backwards, pressing his back to the opposite wall. He squeezed his eyes closed, as his body shuddered. His chest rose and fell quickly, his breath escaping him. "I'm so sorry, Kellyn," he said, as the realization set in. He reached out to touch the man, but his hand recoiled in fear and pain.

The doors of the lift opened, the sound of the air joints startling Kazyah from his cowered position. He crept around the man's body and exited the car, putting in a destination for deck 23 before he left. The last thing he needed was for the body to be anywhere near him.

As the doors of the turbolift closed, Kazyah pressed his back against them, gasping for air. "You can't grieve now, Kaz," he said to himself, softly, as he purposefully stabilized his breathing. "If you're going to save this ship, you have to do this now." He took a final deep breath and his face was set on his mission.

Kaz walked forward, onto the Bridge, the communication device in tow. As he began to speak to the security guards that were guarding the Observation Lounge, Akiva's vision began to blur and the all too familiar rush overtook him.

His vision cleared and he found himself in a darkened room, Kazyah Linn and Tolan speaking to each other. From their conversation, it quickly became obvious that the two had recently discovered that they were both working for the same side. And as they made plans to fake Tolan's death to deceive Saalkan, the realization of truth set in and Akiva had seen all he needed to see.

The mention of Saalkan made Akiva bristle beneath the collar. His daughter nearly died at the mad Vulcan's designs, and he had been forced into the worst possible choice a man could find himself to choose between her and his duty. All such thoughts were corralled, though, as Akiva came to a decision.

"Show me your acquittal," he said. "Not when the JAG clerk presented the orders to us on the ship. I want to see the backroom deal you cut in order to get it."

Akiva stood there in silence as Kaz considered what the man wanted to see. "My first instinct is to not show you, as it is highly classified," he said, finally, "But I suppose if I'm to ask you to trust me, I also need to trust you."

This time, as the winds of change swirled around Akiva, the whispers were practically silent, lending an eerie calm over the situation. When his vision cleared, Akiva found himself standing in the Brig with Kaz and another man who he didn't recognize.

The conversation between the two men was practically hostile, from physical Kazyah's standpoint. Despite Mystery Man never actually stating what he wanted in return, it was obvious physical Kazyah didn't want to take part in it.

After the heated conversation, Akiva saw the hours pass by in an accelerated fashion. Meals being delivered, his own conversation with Kaz, even a Doctor's check up. But the memories slowed back down to normal pace when Claudia walked into the cell.

An emotional weight began to press on Akiva as he felt non-corporeal Kazyah's demeanor and emotional state become jagged and pained.

Akiva watched as Claudia slammed her subordinate officer into the wall, pressing a phaser to his body. As she spouted expletives and yelled accusations into his ear, physical Kazyah didn't move, barely saying but a few words.

"You're at fault for 431 people dying on this ship...and it was your fault that your younger sister died too. What would she think of her big brother right now?" Akiva heard his Captain say. It was obvious, despite his lack of acknowledging the comment, that physical Kazyah was hurting from what the woman said. And the emotional pressure that Akiva felt from non-corporeal Kazyah's mind turned dark and despondent.

Akiva watched as the Captain open fired on the former Intelligence Officer, his body crumpling to the floor. Again, the scene accelerated once more and Akiva found Mystery Man coming to pay physical Kazyah another visit.

Despite the harsh tones of their previous conversation, recent events seemed to cause a change in physical Kazyah's demeanor. In lieu of the hostility from before, the conversation was more amicable. Through their discussion, it became obvious what Mystery Man was offering: the opportunity to have his charges dropped in exchange for staying on the Vindex and watching over her crew.

But while Mystery Man made it seem like Starfleet Command was the one extending the offer, all doubt was set aside when Mystery Man revealed his true intentions. "Welcome to Section 31, Mr Linn. Sit tight - you'll be out of that cell sooner than you think" he said as he turned and walked away.

As physical Kazyah collapsed on the cot, his face rife with regret, the scene blurred and Akiva found himself once again standing in the void.

"Enough!" Akiva shouted. "Let me out! Let me go!

The headrush from before came back, though the acceleration felt reversed. Now he felt as though he were deep under water being thrust toward the surface. When standard consciousness returned to him, he jostled with a gasp.

The phaser was still in his hand pointed at Kazyah's heart. Akiva deactivated it and dropped it on the desktop. His eyes fixed themselves against the viewport for several moments.

"Now that I know what I know," Akiva said slowly in his clipped brogue, as if chewing every word, "we are in deep shit."

"So you believe me?" Kaz asked, not moving from the man's desk. He looked at Akiva with sad eyes, the need for validation apparent.

Akiva regarded the other with a solemn look. "I still do not know your personal motivations or future plans, but I can see you were nothing but a patsy for something far bigger than the so-called truth in the official report." He rubbed his chin in thought for a moment, then pounded his desk. "What was Saalkan's plan? You got closest to him. What could possibly have been so important to sacrifice so much and then cover it all up?"

"He was trying to reach a higher plane of existence," Kaz said, clearing his throat. "He actually had zero care in this universe for the Consortium, Starfleet or our conflict with each other. He simply chose the Consortium as they were able to give him the resources he needed."

Akiva would have dismissed such talk as pure delusion if he had not seen through Kazyah's eyes. "He believed he could do it, didn't he?"

Kazyah gave a solemn nod.

Akiva shook his head, taking it all in. "'I will ascend into heaven; above the stars of God I will exalt my throne: and I will sit upon the mount of the assembly; and in the sides of the north I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.'" He shuddered.

"All right. So while the Federation was faced with a material threat of insurrection, Starfleet Intelligence caught wind of an even greater threat against whom they deemed even a Pyrrhic victory as better than defeat."
Akiva strummed the desk with his fingers as he thought everything through.

"We cannot simply come forward. We'll be dismissed, and if you're correct, assassinated." Akiva bit his lip in futile attempt to control his breathing.

"At least Saalkan is dead and his... repurposed superweapon was destroyed."
When Kazyah flinched at the words, Akiva cocked his head and zeroed on the man. "Right? There aren't any significant chances of it happening again, are there?"

Kaz sat there for a moment, unsure of what to say. "I can't promise that," he said, finally. "Upon his death, Saalkan performed a transfer of his katra into my mind, making me a Val'reth. Someone who hosts a katra against their will. I didn't even know he was there until yesterday."

Taking a deep breath, Kaz continued. "Last night I was awoken from sleep and an urge made me go to the morgue. I found Saalkan's wife with his remains and she performed a Fal-tor-pan, taking his katra from my mind and putting it back into his body. Unfortunately, in that situation, I was unarmed and there was nothing I could do. He and his wife disappeared into thin air." Kaz held out his hands towards Akiva's neck, gesturing that he was willing to show him the entire memory as proof.

"And they just let you live?" Akiva raised an eyebrow. "If you saw them disappear into thin air, then you were obviously under some kind of telepathic deception."

Akiva's scowl deepened.

"This probably wasn't the first time," Akiva concluded. "Saalkan was... is... brilliant, but he didn't hatch this by himself. If he has allies other than the Consortium..." Akiva trailed off and then gave Kazyah a look of horror. "... then we may have stumbled into the middle of a secret war. One between Section 31 and... whoever is helping Saalkan. Did they mention anybody?"

Kaz just shook his head.

Akiva exhaled in frustration. "If they let you walk away, he obviously trusts you to some degree." He felt like he was grasping at straws, but he saw little else within reach. "Saalkan was not shy about eliminating people once he's through with them. That means he is likely to show up again."

"I told him, flat out, that I was not on his side. And that if he showed up again, I would do everything in my power to stop him," Kaz said, still sitting on the Commander's desk, looking at him. "Starfleet Intelligence had no idea what was going on, but I think Section 31 knows more than they're letting on. While I don't care for my sudden new assignment, perhaps I'll have access to enough information to save us next time?"

"With the Consortium done and gone, who would take him in?" Akiva asked. "The man is presumed dead, so it's not like he can just wander from starbase to starbase."

"There's more to it than that, Akiva," Kaz said, holding out his hands again. "I think you should really see this."

Akiva stared at Kazyah's hands with unease. "This had better be good." He bowed his head, and slowly reached for the phaser though did not point it at Kazyah as before.

The two men sat in silence, their eyes closed in a trance-like meditation. Akiva's eyes darted back and forth beneath his eyelids, as was common for someone not used to such procedures. After a few minutes, the two opened their eyes.

"Honestly, I don't think he's interested in us," Kaz said, giving Akiva some time for his mind to settle back down. "Hopefully his quest for a god-like power keeps him away from us." Kaz shrugged.

"I distinctly recall him swearing vengeance upon us," Akiva said. "For Ha'Shem's sake, we blew up his facility and had him beat to death." Akiva swallowed his rising anxiety, then something dawned on him.
"What was it his wife said in your memory? V'tosh ka'tur?"

"A V'tosh ka'tur is a Vulcan who does not follow the teachings of Surak. They live a life free, without the emotional suppression that is common in Vulcans," Kaz said.

Akiva rubbed his chin. "Are they known for militant actions? Could Saalkan use such a group as a fallback?"

"They've been known to cause issues in the past, but they're a very rare breed," Kaz said, scratching his chin. "I'd be very impressed if he were to ever try and mobilize such a disjointed group of individuals."

"Then I suppose we've got absolutely nothing," Akiva said. "Stuck in a possible war between Section 31 and Ha'Shem-only-knows-what."

"To be fair, we have no confirmation of a war between Saalkan and Section 31. It's merely speculation based on the facts." Kaz shrugged, "Not saying it's not possible, I just think that maybe we shouldn't panic. Let's just take some time to relax and maybe my new position will reveal more information in the future."

"Perhaps," Akiva conceded. "I just do not believe in coincidences."

Kaz nodded, "I don't either. But unfortunately, there's just not much we can do right now. We have to be vigilant and keep our eyes open for anything suspicious."

"Normally I would advise the captain," Akiva said, "but under the circumstances I think that would do more harm than good. Anybody who possesses this knowledge is in immediate danger, and then there's the wedding she's planning. I think we need to keep this to ourselves for the time being."

"Akiva, she can't know I'm now apart of Section 31," Kaz said, looking the man directly in the eye. "That knowledge is classified, you're not even supposed to know. And the more people who know, the more dangerous it is. You cannot tell a single soul."

Akiva blinked several times. "I believe I just said that, Mr Linn. What do you take me for?"

"I know you did, but I felt it bared repeating based on the gravity of the situation." Kazyah slid off the man's desk and walked around to the other side.

"We need a code for this nebulous situation," Akiva said. "Something we can use to alert one another without raising suspicion."

"How about this," Kaz said. "If you want to meet and discuss something, just tell me you have something on your mind." The man smirked a bit, laughing at his own pun.

"Fine." Akiva leaned back in his chair and knuckled his eyes. "Is there anything else? I feel like I need a stiff drink."

"No, I'm good," Kazyah said, "Thanks for this, by the way. It's nice to have someone believe me, finally. And to not feel so alone."

"Most prisons are of our own making," Akiva said. "At least that's what Counselor Maera has been telling me." He paused a moment, then said, "Maybe we'll catch a drink sometime."

Kaz simply nodded as he walked out of the room.

 

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