Log of the Month for August, 2001
Posted on August 14th, 2001 by Brooke Dolan and Tempest Rainbird
From Ancient Grudge…
The luxuriously soft threads of her rug pillowed Tempest’s limbs in their cranberry caress. The back of her head was pressed deeply to the floor through the shag mesh so that her neck was raised slightly.
Schumann floated gently in the room:
Und wüßtens’s die Blumen, die kleinen,
wie tief verwundet mein Herz,
sie würden mit mir weinen,
zu heilen meinen Schmerz.
Tempest inhaled deeply, allowing the air to inflate her lungs and ripple through her diaphragm. With great care, she eased the last remaining vestiges of tension out of the back of her neck, her fingertips, the ends of her toes. She visualized all the tension accumulating in her body as a densely packed mass of static and pushed it out of her body.
Off duty, Tempest had come to her quarters to lie down. The harrowing experiences of the past few hours had left her wrung out with a throbbing headache and cold nausea lingering in the pit of her stomach. All she really wanted was a couple hours of sleep to carry her away from it all — so of course, cold sweat and discomfort plagued her as she lay down. Her skin prickled, her throat was dry, and her stomach churned with stress. Rest for the weary? Of course not. So Tempest picked up her weary bones, put on some gentle music, and laid down to meditate.
With the next pulse of her breath, she allowed the all-encompassing darkness of her eyelids to disconnect her from reality. She conjured up the well-used image of her “safe place” in her mind’s eye. It was a forest in the outlying pastoral areas beyond the banlieues of Paris. She’d been there only once — during her childhood in France. It was like a painting: in spring, the sunlight on the leaves really did create massive gradations of sun and shadow like the dappling of an impressionist brush.
When Tempest crept through that place with her parents, she could feel some of the power of her denied heritage rumbling through her with the force of a buffalo stampede. She fantasized moccasins and downy leathers, saw herself slipping through the trees unnoticed, like a shadow on black, pursuing the mysteriously spiritual ends of daily survival. It was one of those moments that remained frozen in an islet of memory, images, associations, instantaneous reflections preserved like a fly in amber.
Tempest abandoned herself to the sensation, letting the vampires of her reality be dissolved in remembered sunlight. As she did so, relaxation flooded through her. The song and the soft rug lulled her into a dreamless sleep that stole her consciousness away.
Brooke tried not to actually pout, but she wasn’t entirely successful. Despite her best efforts, she had still not made it to sickbay to check on her Icarus crewmates. And she still had not figured out a way to weasel out of the first officer’s post and get off of Atlantis. Sitting uncomfortably in her new place on the unfamiliar bridge, she endeavored to calm down and collect herself, to at least outwardly portray the appearance of a grown woman and a mature, responsible Starfleet officer remaining composed in an unnerving situation. But the displeased look on Admiral Zuriyev’s face as he looked down at her told her none of her attempts were succeeding.
“I understand your concern for your former crew, and I commend it, but as I have told you, we are on an important mission now, and you are my executive officer, for better or worse. I need your cooperation; I need you to be composed and in control of your emotions. I am willing to overlook your behavior on this ship until now as a symptom of shock. But from this point forward, you are my first officer, my right hand, and I need to be able to count on you as a Starfleet officer. Do I make myself clear?”
Brooke took a deep breath, trying to exhale the stress she was feeling, and rose to her feet. She nodded, and replied, “Perfectly clear, Admiral. Again, my apologies. I will conduct myself more appropriately. Perhaps while I check on my crewmates in sickbay, I could speak to your medical officer about getting a mild sedative to counteract the effects of my recent psychological stresses.”
It seemed to Brooke that a wry grin briefly flickered across Zuriyev’s face, then disappeared. “You seem perfectly fine to me now, Commander. But I assure you that your crew is in good hands. You can reunite with them later. Right now, I have a more pressing matter concerning one of my officers.” He picked up a padd and glanced at it, although he’d already memorized its contents, then headed for his ready room. Unsure of whether or not to follow, Brooke remained in place. Zuriyev turned around, indicating that she should join him. Once they were off the bridge, he handed the padd to her.
“It seems that a charge of insubordination has been laid against my chief of security and tactical officer, Lieutenant Zinthys. The report was filed by ship’s counselor, Lieutenant Commander Rainbird.” Zuriyev paused as he noticed Brooke visibly stiffen, then continued. “I have observed some sort of animosity between you and the counselor. But on my ship my senior officers work together, personal grudges are put aside. As executive officer, one of your duties is to handle personnel matters. Whatever your personal feelings may be about Rainbird, leave them behind when you consult with her on this report.”
Brooke’s eyes widened in what appeared to be abject horror. “You mean – you want me to actually talk to that woman? Admiral, I must protest. I may be your new acting first officer, but I have no knowledge of or experience with your crew. Surely I’m not well suited to deal with issues of insubordination onboard. Especially with that – that – with the counselor. Certainly you must have someone else who can handle this.”
Zuriyev’s lips tightened. “Commander,” he began.
Brooke cut him off. “And that’s another thing, sir. I’m not a commander; I’m a lieutenant commander. I was promoted to that rank less than two months ago. Surely Starfleet can’t seriously expect to promote me again in such a short time. There’s a limit to even my brilliance!”
“Commander Dolan, do not interrupt me again. You have been given a legitimate field promotion, and, for the last time, you are my executive officer. I will hear no more on this subject. If you continue along these lines, I will file a report of insubordination and failure to comply with orders against you, and you will be off this ship faster than you would have thought possible — straight into a court martial! You are a member of this crew, and you will perform your duty as such, and as a Starfleet officer! I will not have this conversation again! Your orders are to discuss this personnel matter with Counselor Rainbird, and you will follow them. Dismissed.”
Brooke swallowed, utterly chagrined and humiliated by the dressing-down she’d just received. “Yes, sir, Admiral,” she replied hoarsely, then immediately left the ready room. She quickly crossed the bridge, her cheeks burning, hoping no one was looking at her. She entered the turbolift. “Computer, give me the location of Counselor Rainbird.”
“Counselor Rainbird is in her quarters,” came the response. Brooke then ascertained the location of said quarters, and instructed the turbolift to take her to the appropriate deck. She made her way to the counselor’s door and, taking a deep breath, pressed the panel to signal her presence to the sleeping woman inside.
Tempest was awakened by a jarring blast. Her head throbbed. Her eyes, even when they were open, weren’t seeing very well. She took a moment to close them again and try to relax the tension out of them. Bloody hell. She wondered how long she’d been asleep — tried to get up, and found she was stiff >from her stint on the floor. She made a noise in the back of her throat and pulled herself into a sitting position, rubbing absentmindedly at her raw flesh.
Her knees protested her choice to stand up, and her back and neck seconded the motion. Her brain vetoed them, and even managed to coax a little clothing-straightening from her rebellious hands. “Come,” the frog in her throat ribitted. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Come.”
Brooke tried to clear her face of malice and approach this with the business-like ethos that was expected of her. She could feel her upper lip twitching slightly with anger that refused to dissipate. Unable to muster neutral, she settled for haughty, and lifted her chin. She walked into the lion’s den with a disdainful flare in her step.
It was hideously ironic that Tempest had chosen the same quarters. They were even decorated similarly, down to the damn stupid cranberry-colored rug she had on the floor. Standing on it with her light brown skin, Tempest looked like the dark meat of a Thanksgiving turkey. Picturing her arch-nemesis about to be flayed with a gourmet’s fork almost dispelled some of Brooke’s enmity.
Refusing to even look the woman in the eye, Brooke focused her attention on a bizarre sculpture featured prominently on the back wall. “I have a report you filed against Lieutenant Allen Zinthys. Justify yourself.”
…Break to New Mutiny
Tempest’s nap had managed to soothe only one of her symptoms — her nausea — and at the sight of Brooke, it flooded back. She felt all energy to cope seep out of her into the rug. With a drained sigh, she began, “Brooke-”
The irate woman snarled like a cat at her. “Stick to ‘Commander’ — you lost the privilege of a first name basis with me long ago.”
That was totally unfair. Tempest had left Starfleet, true, but she had continued her work, and it turned out that Brooke had done something suspiciously similar after the Atlantis exploded despite her high-and-mighty moral stance. Tempest had a feeling Brooke was indulging in revisionist history. Such blindness could never be counteracted with constructive arguments; Tempest tried to appeal to the warmth that had existed between them. She could still feel the remnants of it when she looked at Brooke; why had all the positive memories drained entirely from Brooke’s mind?
Tempest collected herself, and calmed her tone to a soothing pitch. “Commander, I know we parted on unfriendly terms, but a lot has transpired since then, just as a lot transpired between us before that. Hard feelings I understand, but I feel that I’m sensing some genuine hostility-”
“‘Sensing some hostility?'” Brooke repeated. Then, in an act of infantile behavior totally unbecoming a grown woman and a Starfleet officer, she mimicked Tempest’s voice like a scornful child. “‘Sensing some hostility?'” Brooke’s words practically dripped with loathing. “Don’t pull that Betazoid crap with me, Counselor. I didn’t come here for one of your little sessions, and I’m not smoking your damn peace pipe. I have a job to do; I might not like it, but it’s my obligation, part of the privilege of wearing this uniform.” She paused disdainfully to look Tempest up and down, obviously finding flaw with the counselor’s casual attire. “And you know perfectly well that I am every bit as qualified to play Jung to your Freud, except that I’ve got a few more degrees to throw in your face.”
Stung by her former friend’s sheer contempt and ill will, Tempest could only fall back on her psychological training. She attempted once again to reach out to the embittered woman. “Brooke, please, let’s be adult about this. I only want to-” She was cut off by an almost overpowering wave of fury from the commander.
“What did I tell you to call me?” Brooke yelled. “Forget the damn report! I’m putting you on report! Let’s see how your boyfriend the Admiral deals with that!”
The full passion of Brooke’s anger channeled itself into her arm and she hurled the padd across the room, sending it to crash, splintering, against the wall, bleeding glass from its wrecked viewscreen into the depths of the soft carpeting. Enraged, Brooke turned and stormed out of the room.
Tempest stared after her, stunned and unblinking. The door hissed shut, and silence beat at her for a few seconds. She walked over to the padd and picked it up, worrying at the shattered glass with the edge of her index finger. A tiny splash of blood fell into the machinery. She winced and drew her hand away, the pain snapping her out of shock. She threw it back on the ground and barked at the computer, “Where the hell is Commander Dolan?”
“Commander Dolan is in the turbolift heading for the bridge.”
“Damn her!” Tempest raged. She kicked the padd. Splinters of glass tinkled as they resettled themselves in new patterns on the floor. Who the fuck did she think she was? Tempest had tried to be rational; Brooke had replied with hatefulness. And how dare she bring these personal matters into the professional arena? Tempest wasn’t going to pay the piper for it. Did Brooke just expect her to lie back and take these insults like a martyr at a stoning?
Tempest flailed angrily as she struggled to change into her customary jeans. She had left them in a pile on the floor when she retired to meditation; now they were tangled with the morning’s flannel. Rage tricked Tempest’s hands into clumsiness. Instead of separating them, she merely dropped them. She kicked them and stormed out in exercise clothes — hair matted with unbrushed tangles, legs mostly uncovered, stomach exposed beneath her tank top.
“Bridge,” she ordered the turbolift resentfully.
Brooke strode proudly onto the bridge, her head up, her spine razor-straight. She knew that she was still in her fighting stance, but the Admiral was deliberately provoking her and he deserved what he got. He was making unreasonable demands, and Brooke was forced to be polite to his face — but she was damned if she would play his sycophant as well. If her hip flared a little more than it would have in a neutral gait, or the arch of her foot curled slightly when she raised it to step — that was her own business. He couldn’t take offense at the way she walked.
He was also facing forward so he couldn’t see it. By the time he looked up, Brooke had parked herself stiffly in front of the first officer’s chair. He glanced at her, but didn’t even turn his head away from the viewscreen. “Commander Dolan?”
“It’s taken care of, sir,” Brooke replied, keeping all emotion out of her voice. He nodded and she sat, staring straight ahead.
The turbolift wrenched upward, upsetting Tempest’s balance, and she stumbled forward into the door. Why was everything going wrong today? Tempest bitterly recounted the tumultuous events of the day. First Zinthys had pulled his insubordination bullshit, then Geleis had fainted dead away in her arms. And Brooke had managed to eclipse it all with her infantile tantrums and threats. Now even the goddamn turbolift was out to get her! What had she done to provoke an all-out attack from karma?!
The scratch on her upper arm was mild and already fading. The sting of the actual physical hurt was long gone.
The bridge doors opened, and Tempest walked out. Too late, she remembered her state of disarray and longed for a hairbrush. These were officers whose respect — except Zinthys’ — she had gone to a lot of effort to earn. Embarrassment flooded through her, and she considered running back into the turbolift, to her quarters and hibernating there, hoping the events of the last twelve hours would somehow miraculously evaporate.
Then she saw her. Brooke. Sitting icily in her chair, reflected in glare on the viewscreen. Staring straight forward with glacial eyes. Even the way she sat made Tempest sick — as though she were a queen, a princess, somehow forced to dirty herself by interacting with the rest of the crew. As though the Atlantis was somehow infectious and might sully her pristine self. The expression on Brooke’s face was one of hauteur bearing pain: I am a poor, small tree, sorely pressed by the winds of life, yet I keep my pride — despite the fact that the winds of hurricanes have bent my limbs and torn my trunk, and I fear the pain of it all may kill me. Brooke turned her head to look at Zuriyev, and fixed that icy gaze on him. Tempest saw a flicker of some emotion pass across Brooke’s face and bend her mouth upwards before she looked straight ahead again. Was that – disdain? For Alexi?
Too much. Too bloody much! Tempest walked to the front of the bridge and fixed herself directly in front of Brooke. She stared her down with a hunter’s gaze, and rumbled coldly at her, “Brooke, we are going to talk. Now.”
Brooke rolled her eyes and left them aimed skywards. “Counselor,” she sighed, “you and I have discussed everything that needs to be discussed. Now get out of my face before I actually do charge you with insubordination. As long as I am stuck in this position, you will pay me the proper respect and you will not show up on the bridge looking like a trollop.”
Tempest choked her oncoming scream into a pathetic highly pitched squeal. “You barge into my quarters with no warning while I’m asleep, hurl insults and padds at me, scream and storm out and accuse me of unprofessional behavior? Excuse me for showing up looking less than glamorous — what am I supposed to do when I’m physically attacked? Take the time to primp and preen myself before I find out what the hell is going on?”
Brooke snapped her head back around to look at Tempest. Her icy demeanor melted in the face of rage. “I did not physically attack you, nor did I barge into your quarters; I was ordered there. And if you hadn’t –”
Unnoticed by Brooke and Tempest, Zuriyev had risen from his chair. His face was beet-red. His voice, pure molten lava, rolled slowly and dangerously.
“What. Do. You. Think. You. Are. Doing?”
Tempest recoiled, ducked her head, and stepped slightly back, ready to defend herself. Brooke closed her mouth and froze again, haughtiness slick like oil on her.
“Ladies,” he growled so quietly that only the shocked silence on the bridge allowed his voice to be heard at all. “You will come with me to my ready room.” Without a single glance backward, he strode off the bridge, gait determined, eyes fixed on his destination.
Like naughty children, Tempest and Brooke slunk after him. Tempest shot Brooke a look that was filled with daggers. Brooke took care to ensure that not even the smallest part of her was polluted by physical contact with that woman. The door to the ready room swished closed behind them, and they were left alone with the Admiral’s wrath.
In all her years with Starfleet, Brooke had never seen a superior officer quite as angry with anyone as Admiral Zuriyev was at that moment. His face was a mask of fury, his bald head almost crimson. She had half-expected him to let loose a string of expletives at them, but instead he remained silent, glaring at them, waiting. The silence grew uncomfortable, but Brooke did not want to be the first to break it. She did not have to wait much longer, however, because Tempest did it for her.
“Admiral,” she started.
“Counselor,” said Zuriyev, in a voice so quiet and controlled it was almost frightening. “I have just promoted you to Lieutenant Commander. I wish you had shown me what a grievous mistake that would be before I did it.”
Brooke repressed the urge to smirk as the Admiral continued. “I do not want to hear your complaints, your whining, your catty bitching about each other. I do not know why you two seem bent on destroying your careers with this childish behavior, but this is your absolute, final warning. I do not have time to deal with your shit — your personal problems are your own, both of you. And they had better stay that way. If you two do not like each other, find some way to work it out, because you are both integral parts of my crew, and you will have to cooperate. Now act your age, and your rank. If I ever witness or even hear of such an outburst between the two of you again, on this ship or off, I will slap you both down a rank. And to put you to the test, I am assigning you both to crew evaluations — together. You have one week to complete them.”
Brooke’s mouth almost dropped to the floor. It was completely unbearable. Crew evaluations with that bitch? In only a week? It wasn’t possible. The Admiral was being absolutely unreasonable. But she didn’t protest, and she didn’t glance over to see the Counselor’s reaction, not wanting to give Tempest the satisfaction. The Admiral continued, “Those are my direct orders, officers. You are to work together, and so help me, you are never again going to display the sort of behavior towards each other I have just witnessed. You shame yourselves, and your commanding officer, by acting like selfish, spoiled little children. You are both dismissed.”
In a daze, Brooke watched the Admiral walk out, leaving her alone with Tempest in his ready room. She swallowed, and turned slowly to face the object of her scorn. “Well,” was all she could manage.
Tempest looked similarly lost. “Well,” she replied.
But the hateful fire within Brooke had not been quenched by the Admiral’s warning. She looked directly in Tempest’s eyes, and her own eyes seemed to burn with the heat of her anger. “I will work with you, Counselor, I will perform my duties, and the Admiral will have no cause to find fault with me.” Then her voice lowered. “But I swear to you, I will see you pay for what you’ve done. If I have to burn with you for what we’ve both done to sully the faces of medicine and humanity, so be it.”
Tempest did not respond, did not move. An eternally long moment passed. Silence hung thickly in the air, the tension between them almost palpable. A chirp intruded on their wordless battle. The Admiral’s voice cut through the dreadful quiet. “Commander Dolan and Counselor Rainbird, to the bridge.”
Tempest left first, Brooke followed. They approached Zuriyev, slinking like warring, territorial cats, and settled in their seats on opposite sides of him, shifting as far away from each other as they could.
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