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Stardate: 1604.06 [06 April, 2016]
The Girl Who Smiles
so like innocence as an indiscretion; and by a series of reckless escapades,
half of them quite harmless, she had acquired all the privileges of a personality.”
Oscar Wilde [Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime]
The air was so different from Earth, recycled through the system with a spritz of something in, what she assumed was, an attempt to allude to the fresh and crisp oxygen that was so abundant on most planets. The matted grey walls were so dull in comparison to the colours that used to surround her, but there was a soothing and calming influence whenever her eyes happened to focus on them. It was the artificial gravity that really had her thoughts drifting, despite how her eyes and her thoughts were seemingly focused on the PADD in her hand. It mimicked Earth’s almost perfectly, and she wondered briefly what other sentient beings thought of it. Did it feel too heavy or too light? How did their bodies compensate for the difference? Did it change the pattern of their breathing or their heart beats? While the approximation was nearly identical, she was certain that her body felt lighter and that her strides carried an extra spring with each step.
Then again, that could have simply been her excitement.
She walked with the much older adults, her pace almost at a sauntering pace as they moved down the carpeted hall towards the carbo bay. Bright green eyes never strayed far from the PADD in her hand, her mind working through the information that was displayed before her as it compared the specifications against those she had committed to her memory.
At one point, when she was much younger, someone had taken the time to explain the imagery of her mental and emotional essence. It had been a fascinating conversation that randomly brought itself up to the forefront of her musings whenever she processed information. He had said - and it was hard to forget the loving manner in which he described what he saw - that her soul was layered and methodically categorized to a fault. Her inner workings had created a vast stone hallway, thick imposing stone walls created with the sturdy masonry of ancient castles. The ceiling that should have existed was an endless dark sky that was alive with the constellations she had grown to love. A glow without a source illuminated the hallway, open rooms – save for one – labelled to signify their purpose. Each room had a pointed arch entry way with elaborate designs carved smooth into the stone, and each had a posted sign next to the entrance. Logos, the near cavernous and sterile-like environment of pristinely maintained filing cabinets contained the sum her knowledge. Pathos, which he deemed her “Charlie Foxtrot” tempest of emotions, seemed to exist in a perpetual state of glitter and thunder with sweeping motions of music and colour. Ethos, the solidly built room of her convictions contained the simplicity of a solid stone statue of a woman in ancient garb and a solid stone bench. Eros, the stringently locked room of her lust and perversions was safely guarded by a set of stained and imperial oak doors with dark metal detailing.
Anyone with any remote inclination for telepathy would be able to pick up on the vivid imagery of her subconscious, he had told her. Though, he had been quick to assure her that they wouldn’t be able to handle the insane level of activity long enough to even gather more than a phrase or two. It was like walking into the center of a proverbial beehive filled to the brim with insanely caffeinated bees. One really didn’t want to linger too long for fear of suffering the stinging migraine that resulted in trying to keep up with the odd dichotomy of methodical chaos. The rather vivid imagery of her very soul would be there for anyone to watch should they choose to tap into it.
As her eyes traced the cluster of a conduit in the specifications, she briefly wondered how many species in the universe were telepathic. Would they see the image of her mind as he had or would the cordoned off rooms appear in a way that they best understood it?
“Find anything interesting, Ellie?”
With her thoughts interrupted, her chin lifted and her vibrantly green eyes settled on the aging face of her favourite uncle, who easily towered over her with his height. Not that it was hard to do so; she was accustomed to having to look up at people. The corners of his eyes had wrinkles, which came from his natural jovial disposition. Even the wrinkles in the edges of his mouth seemed to turn up naturally. The man really loved to live, probably as much as she did. The red of his collar was bright against the standard Starfleet grey and black uniform, and the shine of his rear admiral pips reflected just as radiantly. The salt-and-pepper of his hair had more salt than pepper, but that only added to the distinguished demeanour that he carried so easily.
The every present smile on her face only brightened as she looked at him. “Maybe, Uncle Greg,” she replied. “I found a cluster of conduits that wasn’t part of the original specifications in the design. I thought maybe I’d take a look when I get some time.”
Aldéric only chuckled as he placed a hand on her shoulder. “Things come up between conception and construction. I wouldn’t worry about it. It wouldn’t surprise me if the conduits were put in to handle the amount of power being used by the Hermes,” the expression in his eyes softened as soon as the name of her new home passed his lips. “She’s a good ship, Ellie. I think you’ll really love her and her crew.”
Marielle nodded at his words. She thought so too. When her uncle’s attention turned to the two adults who walked stiffly before them, her eyes followed. She had been vaguely paying attention to the disapproving ramblings of her life choices, but experience had her ignoring it. “Do you think they’ll be okay?” she asked her uncle softly, thankful that her parents were so engrossed with sharing their displeasure that they failed to notice that she and her uncle were speaking.
The man beside her shrugged. “It’s not like they didn’t know you weren’t going to make it happen. We all know just how exasperatingly obstinate you can be when you want something. They’ll eventually learn to live with your decision,” he told her. “You’ll never get their approval, so it wouldn’t do you any good to want for it.” There was a tone of sympathy as he spoke candidly to her.
“I know,” she replied softly, her tone dipping slightly despite her attempts to hide her dismay. “I can’t help but wish for it.”
The hand on her shoulder tightened in a comforting squeeze. “I’m definitely in your corner, Short Stack,” Aldéric assured her, smiling down at her as her vibrant eyes met his gaze and for once she didn’t comment on the nickname. “I’m damn proud of you, and I know you will do wonderful things. Even if you’ll annoy the hell out of your commanding officers.” She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth as she snickered, and he laughed at the reaction. “Speaking of which, do try not to make my life a living hell. I’ll be dealing with enough to keep your parents from annoying your commanding officers.”
“I have absolutely no clue what you’re trying to insinuate,” Marielle’s retort was light as it sang with a soft and innocent melody. Her eyes came alive as they walked through the sliding doors to enter the cargo bay. The sounds of the bustling room was drastically different from the silence of the hallway, and it had her heart beating faster as her departure time neared.
“Right,” Aldéric narrowed his eyes at her with a knowing glint reflected in his dark irises, “and your father isn’t a certifiable antediluvian fuddy duddy.”
She turned to him and made a scene of gushing at his words. “Oh, Uncle Greg!” she squealed lightly. “I am extremely gratified with your crusade to ameliorate the dexterity of your linguistic locution.”
He blinked and his expression turned confused for a half second, comprehension over her words a half beat slower. “Why you little-,” he stopped to laugh, which only grew louder as the soft sound of her giggles reached his ears. The pair came to a halt when Marielle’s parents stopped before the tall stack of large grey storage containers. The wall of storage crates curved inward slightly.
“Do you have everything you need, Marielle?” came the lithe voice of her mother, Henriette. The svelte woman, with her long straight jet black hair and dull hazel eyes, had turned to stare down at her youngest daughter.
“Oui, Maman,” Marielle answered with well-practiced poise as she moved away from her uncle’s side to stand before the storage containers. They towered nearly a half meter over her short stature. “My possessions were transported earlier, so this is all that remains.” She moved with a practiced spin to look at her parents, who had turned to face her when she moved stand with her possessions.
“You will call us when you arrive,” Henriette confirmed as she dusted the imaginary lint from her daughter’s shoulder. Her slender fingers lifted Marielle’s chin up. “Don’t slouch. It’s unbecoming of a young woman of your position.”
With a deep and quiet breath, Marielle resisted rolling her eyes and exaggerating the slouched curve on her shoulders. There was no need to depart on such terms, especially when her parents were already in a foul mood. “Maman,” she soothed, “I’m just getting transported to the ship. I will be there within seconds of leaving your side. I do not believe I’ll need to confirm my arrival. I promise I will contact you and Papa once I’ve settled into my quarters.”
“That’s right, Hattie!” boomed the jovial voice of her uncle. “The girl will be fine.”
Marielle smiled appreciatively at her uncle. “See. Uncle Greg knows better than anyone that transporters are perfectly safe for use.” Her eyes moved to her father. Not for the first time, she compared the two men.
While they were identical twins, the two could not be any more different. They shared the same physical features, but the manner in which they carried themselves separated them entirely. Her uncle was muscular with years of working in Starfleet. Despite how the war with the Borg and the Dominion had hardened him, Aldéric still carried a love for life that kept him young and vibrant. The younger of the twins, Aubert was thin with a pointed chin, sharp deadly eyes, and hair that was still black without any signs of silver. His shoulders were always squared back tightly as he studied people with an angry calm that was eerily akin to that of an approaching storm. The frigid atmosphere that surrounded him reeked of contempt, and it aged him.
“I’ll be fine, Papa,” she repeated. Marielle worried her lip, though her smile never faltered. Her eyes flickered to her uncle briefly for support.
“Oh. Come now, Aubert!” Aldéric stepped forward to slap his brother on the back. “Let the girl enjoy her youth a little. She’s in very capable hands. Commodore Billings has a reputation worthy of her propensity for mischief.”
Aubert grumbled as his jaw clenched, stumbling forward at the force of his brother’s light-hearted assault. “Yes. I know all too well of Commodore Billings’ reputation,” he grumbled as he found his footing and straightened. His dark, near black, eyes settled on his daughter. “I do not approve of this, Marielle.”
Marielle fought the urge to shudder. There were moments when her father’s uncaring gaze had her trembling. “Papa,” she lowered her chin slightly but kept her eyes firmly locked with her father’s in a show of defiance, “this is for my dissertation. My lingering and unused commission just happens to be helping me at the moment.” It was difficult to hide the annoyance in her voice.
His eyes narrowed. “Do not presume to think I don’t know about this clever ruse of yours,” he snapped. Aubert’s voice filled the entirety of the cargo bay, harsh enough to have several of the officers stopping to watch. “Perhaps it is time you’ve learnt that the universe is not as you see it, and that your proper place is at home. I expect you to return once you’ve outgrown this nonsense, fully ready to take on the dignified role of a proper lady of your position.”
There was a beat of silence as Marielle stared at her parents. A dull ache in her heart had Pathos coming alive with blues and greys as a dejected melody moved through her. She had grown accustomed to the overwhelming disappointment and disapproval that filled their eyes whenever they regarded her. It made her wonder, not for the first time, if they ever regretted her existence.
Marielle caught the sight of her uncle behind them, a knowing and supportive shimmer alive in his eyes as he stood tall behind them. He pulled his shoulders back, tilted his chin up, and pulled the corners of his mouth up with his fingers. The sight of him had a crescendo of raw musical intonations crashing into the ever present and ever hidden sadness she carried quietly. Blues changed to vibrant reds and sunshine yellow. Pathos came alive with rebellious determination. “Sure, Papa,” she assented flippantly before adding very softly under her breath, “Whatever you say.” Marielle kept her eyes locked on her uncle, who regarded her with pride, as her hand snapped to the badge on her chest. “Ensign Deniaud to transporter room three. I’m ready for transport.”
She felt the usual tingle of the transporter, and Marielle couldn’t help but look down at her fading body. Her fingers wiggled as her hands drew delicate circles by her side. Her eyes moved back to the beaming expression on her uncle’s fading face. She mouthed out an exuberant “Thank you!” in his direction before he completely faded from her sight.