You Are My World - Part 1 "Lost"
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Location: Chief Counselor's Officer, USS Arcadia
Timeline: 0931 Hours, MD 2 (March 4, 2393)
[Previously in Looking For Answers - Part 2 "Motivation"]
. . . . . .
"I get you want answers," said Ryley, "but the very reason you want answers is the same reason you shouldn't get involved. I don't understand why you insist on withholding information and taking this on all on your own."
Oliver's brows tightened as the counselor spoke, and when her last sentence came out, he nearly smashed his glass on the table. "Because you can't trust anyone, not when your family is at stake." He retorted, or rather blurted out, his voice more bitter than angry. Then seemingly caught off guard by his own words, he quickly added, "Lieutenant McGuire's family, that is."
Then he paused momentarily, as if to compose himself.
"Starfleet investigated the Kandor's disappearance for about a month and then just closed the case and declared the ship lost. One month, Counselor, only one month." Shaking his head, he continued, "They are not going to put in any more effort than they did last time. Whatever the Kandor was doing here in the Silent Triangle, it was beyond top secret. But top secret or not, don't you think Lieutenant McGuire's six year old son deserves more than just a formulaic condolence letter from Command? Don't you, Counselor?"
"Let's not continue to confuse the issue," the counselor replied evenly. "That little boy could still get a formulaic condolence letter from the brass even if they discover what really happened. Lots of loved ones receive condolence letters from the brass that don't seem to make up for the losses they have suffered in comparison. Even when loved ones know exactly when and exactly how the people they care about have been lost, nothing Starfleet could possibly offer makes that loss OK. I don't think your primary motivation is to get answers for that little boy because if that were true, you would do whatever you needed to to make sure answers were found without there being any potential for distractions or emotional compromise. If this were all about getting answers for that little boy, I would think the last thing you would want to do is make yourself a target and risk the potential of losing sight of what it's really all about, right? Sir, I don't doubt to some extent, your heart is in the right place. I'm just not sure where your head is right now."
"No," Oliver shook his head. "nothing can make up for the loss of a parent, not even the truth of what happened, but truth brings solace, Doctor. It brings closure. Is that really too much to ask? Is it?! Do you know how meaningless it is to be told that someone is sorry for your loss after they have refused to put in the effort to find out the truth of what happened? Do you?!" His eyes drifted away and his voice again turned bitter. "They didn't even try."
. . . . . .
Despite the significant distance, it didn't take long for the turbolift to reach Deck 8 from Deck 46 where the hangar bay was. As soon as the door opened, Korra stepped out and made her way to the chief counselor's office. She didn't know why Lieutenant Kincaid wanted to see her. She had done her mandatory psych evaluation when she first came aboard, and the counselor didn't explain it on the comm, either. Guess there's only one way to find out.
Ryley was waiting in the waiting area for Korra to arrive. She didn't want her yeoman to mistake this meeting for another psych eval and create more confusion, so she thought it best to not much one way or the other. Instead, she offered, "Thanks for meeting with me, Captain. Please, follow me to my office," she requested politely.
The Marine nodded and followed the counselor into her office. It was a rather spacious office, but by now she had gotten used to all the rooms on the Arcadia being larger than what you would normally find on a starship.
Once the doors closed behind them, Kincaid gestured for the other woman to make herself comfortable. "I promise I won't keep you, but I need your help. May I get you something from the replicator?"
"No, thank you, Counselor. I'm fine." Said Korra as she took her seat in the first chair that she came across. If this wasn't going to take long, then there's really no need for any drink. Oliver would have asked for something just to be polite. She, on the other hand, didn't care too much for it.
"I don't suppose this is about my evaluation? Cause I already did mine."
Ryley sat across from her and shook her head. "No, this is about Captain Lee," without preamble. "I understand the two of you are close and go a ways back, and I need someone who knows him better than I do to help shed some light on some things. To be clear, I'm not asking you to betray any confidences, but he seems bound and determined to get answers for a young boy who may have lost his father under mysterious circumstances, and I think there's more to it than just a desire to be helpful. He's taking a great risk, and I think perhaps it has something to do with something about his past."
Of course, Korra knew exactly what the counselor was talking about - Oliver had complained about Kincaid's questioning his motivation over dinner the other night - but she was not going to volunteer her best friend's personal history just because someone asked for it.
"Don't you think that's something you should talk to the Captain about, Counselor?"
"I wouldn't be here if I hadn't," Ryley replied frankly. "I was candid with him and I expressed my concern that there was something he wasn't sharing with me, something that would help me understand his thinking and decisions much better. Still, he refused. I don't think he did so because he didn't trust me, I think he did so because whatever it is, it's painful. As I said, I wouldn't be here if I wasn't truly concerned for his mental health. I wouldn't ask you to divulge something personal out of sheer curiosity."
Korra raised a slight eyebrow. "The Captain's mental health is just fine, Counselor. That I can assure you."
"Unfortunately your assurances don't absolve me of my professional obligation to determine that for myself," Ryley replied matter-of-factly. "I've expressed my concerns to you and I'm hoping you will help me, but the ball is in your court."
“And if I don’t?”
Ryley suppressed the urge to sigh. She wasn't about to issue threats or encourage a fight, and she was not interested in wasting time on such activities. Instead, she said simply, "Then I will be forced to try and get this information from some other source, which will prove difficult, obviously, but I'm not about to issue threats or engage in what would be a pointless fight either."
If there was one thing that was worse than her explaining to the counselor why Oliver was so intent on finding the Kandor, it was for Kinkaid to dig up information from some other sources, incomplete and even distorted information that would paint Oliver as an irresponsible and whiny brat. She couldn't allow that to happen.
Letting a small sigh, the Marine pilot looked out of the windows of the spacious office and into the empty space outside. There was a long pause before she finally spoke.
“I was 10 when I first met Oliver. We lived down the hallway from his grandparents in New York. His grandfather was rarely home, being a starship captain and all. And when he did come back on shore leaves, well, they never got along anyway.”
“Of course, I didn’t know about that back then. All I knew was that we had a new neighbor and he was the happiest kid I had ever seen. At least that’s what we all thought. Every time you see him, he’s always smiling. Everyone liked him, all the neighbors in the building, all the kids in school. But then one day he ran away, and they looked for him everywhere . . . . . .”
::26 Years Ago, Central Park, New York City::
Soft crunching rhythm emanated from under her boots as the little girl waded through the snow that covered the path along the edge of the Turtle Lake. The sun had begun to set and light flurries drifted down through the cold crisp air. She need to find him before it got dark and the snow heavier.
Making her way to the huge rock formation under the Belvedere Castle, the girl looked around for the small cavern the two of them had discovered a few months ago, their secret lair as it were. It was . . . right over there, behind those snow-laden pine trees.
“Oliver.” she called out as she climbed over the rocks between the trees. “It's me.”
There was no response, but when she finally made her way behind the trees, she heard faint echoes of intermittent sobbing coming from inside the cave. Switching on the flashlight on her wrist watch, she stepped in and found a boy about her own age curled up all by himself in the farthest corner of the small cave.
She quietly walked over and sat down on the ground next to him
“We have been looking for you everywhere.” she said softly, “Your grandpa is really worried.”
The boy stifled his sobbing and wiped off the tears that still lingered on his cheeks.
“I don't care. I hate him.”
“But . . .”
“He has a ship, but he won't go look for her!”
Korra tilted her head in curiosity, but didn't get a chance to ask whom he was talking about.
“He won’t go look for her . . .” his voice faltered again. “None of them will.”
He again buried his head in his knees, and muffled cries filled the small cavern.
Korra’s heart sank. Snuggling up to him, she wrapped her arms around her friend. She didn’t know what else to do, but she had to do something. He was hurting, and that broke her heart.
She didn’t know how long she held him, but when he finally looked back up, she could see it in those swollen brown eyes: it was pain, it was confusion.
“She said . . . she said she would be back for me. She promised . . . . . .”
::27 Years Ago, Cargo Transport SS Wells::
Renee was exhausted. It had been a long day, and she still had several calls to make before she could get some shut eyes, but there were no calls, there was nothing, more important than the little boy next room, and it was well past his bedtime.
“I’m thirsty.” said Oliver as his mother walked in.
Renee smiled. “Now you are just stalling, but I have got you covered there.” she said, setting a glass of water down on the night stand. “How about a good night kiss before we turn off the lights.”
The boy giggled as he nodded.
“OK. But can we keep the lights on? I’m afraid of the dark.”
Renee gently caressed his cheek. “There’s nothing to be afraid of, sweetie. I’ll be in the next room. Whenever you need me, I will come. Promise.”
“Love you, mom.” said the happiest boy in the whole universe.
Bending down, she kissed him on the forehead. “You are my world, Ollie. You always will be.”
Oliver was awoken by a tremor. Then there was another, knocking the glass of water on the nightstand over the edge. It fell and broke into pieces as it hit the deck.
Sitting up against the bulkhead, he rubbed his eyes, still drowsy from sleep.
“Mom?” he called out. But there was no response.
The ship shook again, this time more violently than before, and then it went dark for a moment before emergency lights kicked in.
Everything fell silent. He couldn’t even hear the gentle hum of the warp engine that he had gotten used to over the last few nights. It was eerily quiet, and he was afraid.
“Mom!” He called out again as he clenched his small blue blanket tightly in his hands.
There was still no response, only a loud explosion down the corridor outside, followed by what sounded like phaser blasts. Then it fell quiet again. All the sudden the door to their quarters slid open and his mother rushed to the side of his bed with a phaser in her hand.
He immediately jumped up and threw himself to her.
“What’s happening, Mom? Are we . . .”
That was when he felt something warm dripping down his ear.
“You are bleeding.” His eyes widened in horror.
“I’m scared, Mom.”
“Everything will be fine, sweetie.” said his mother. Her voice was calm, but her movements hasty. She picked up the boy from his bed and carried him into the corridor outside. “Close your eyes, sweetie. Everything will be fine.”
Oliver did what his mother said and buried his head in her shoulder. She was running, and he could hear the occasional phaser blasts passing by them. He’s afraid, very afraid, but as long as he had his mother, everything would be OK. It had to be.
Then the running stopped, and he was put back down on the deck. Finally opening his eyes, he cautiously looked around as he held onto his mother’s shirt. The grim red hue of the emergency lights washed over the corridor, and it seemed that they were at one of the escape pods. His mother always had him memorize all the escape pod locations on any ship that they happened to be on - and they had been on many different ships.
He looked up and saw his mother’s fingers flying frantically over the pod’s control panel. He could hear shouting coming from down the corridor around the corner. Someone was coming.
“Mom.” He tugged at her shirt, his voice shaking, and just then the double hatches to the escape pod slid open.
Renee picked up the boy and tugged him snugly into one of the two seats in the pod. Having secured him in his seat, she caressed his cheek and managed a brave smile. “I love you, Ollie, but Mom has to go.”
“There’s still room here.” the boy gestured frantically at the empty seat next to him.
“I can’t,” she said softly, “but I promise, sweetie, I’ll come and find you, wherever you are.”
Oliver was dazed. He was lost.
“I’m scared, Mom.”
With her hand Renee gently wiped off the tears that had begun to run down the boy’s cheeks.
“There’s nothing to be scared of, sweetie.” she said and kissed him on the forehead. “Just remember, Ollie, you are my world, and you always will be.”
The hatches sealed.
“No!!!” Oliver frantically struggled against the seat constraints as the escape pod jettisoned itself into open space.
“No . . .”
::The Present, Chief Counselor’s Office, USS Arcadia::
Absentmindedly Korra twisted a loose strand of hair with her fingers. Looking away from the counselor, she stared into the empty space outside the windows.
“They didn’t find the escape pod until two days later.” She said, “And It took another month before they figured out who his next of kin was. Captain Lee didn’t even know he had a grandson.”
“The investigation that followed took about three months, but they couldn't find a trace, not even a hint as to what happened to the Well. But he wouldn’ accept it. He begged his grandfather to keep looking, but the old man said no, and told him instead that he should stop whining.”
Korra turned her gaze back to Ryley.
“So he ran away. I think he wanted to look for his mother himself since no one else seemed to be interested in looking for her. But he was just a little boy, in a city he barely knew, on a planet he barely knew.”
Kincaid nodded, her mind swirling with thoughts of what she had just heard as well as the parallels between then and their current situation. As she suspected, there was a lot more to his current motivations then she knew, and that just meant he had an emotional blind spot that could compromise his judgment all the more. "Thank you for telling me all of this. I know it wasn't easy for you. Right now I think Oliver might be identifying with that little boy a bit too much, but I promise, I will tread lightly. He's not acting maliciously, but out of his own trauma. I would hardly crucify him for that."
"You'd better not, Counselor," said Korra, the seriousness in her voice was unmistakable, "or you will have to answer to me, and I assure you, I'm not as diplomatic as our Captain."
"I don't respond to threats," Ryley replied evenly. "What I can tell you is, we both want the best for the Captain. Perhaps that's some common ground we can work from? It's obvious you two have a special bond."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Korra blurted out without much thinking. Narrowing her eyes, she asked, or rather demanded, "Did you talk to Terri? What did that brat tell you? Why would you talk to her in the first place?"
First it was Oliver, then it was Kevan, why did everyone want to talk about the girl? She was not her mother. Heck, she had never even seen the brat till yesterday.
The other woman's volatile response just confirmed Ryley's earlier impressions. It seemed Korra was spoiling for a fight, whether or not one was being offered. "I'm not sure what you're talking about. All I was trying to say was that is obvious based on how protective you are of the Captain the two of you must be pretty close. It sounds like you have other things on your mind right now. I'm willing to listen if you feel like talking."
"Oh." Korra's countenance relaxed in relief, if only momentarily. If she didn't want to talk this over with Oliver, she most definitely didn't want to talk about it with the counselor. Shrinks.
"No, I don't." she said bluntly. "If there's nothing else, Doctor, my starfighter needs a fresh coat of paint."
Before the counselor could respond, the distinctive klaxon of yellow alert sounded.
"This is Captain Lee to all hands. We have a developing situation in the secondary brig on deck 43. Per Emergency Protocols 23.5 we are now in a ship-wide lockdown. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill. The situation is being contained. Remain where you are and await further instructions."
"Ugh." Korra grumbled and sank back down in the chair. Great. Now she was stuck here with a shrink.
[To be continued . . .]
Captain Korra Ymir
Squadron Leader, VMFA-31
USS Arcadia, NCC-89015
(NPC - Oliver)
Lieutenant Ryley Kincaid, M.D.
USS Arcadia, NCC-89015