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JL - Swift/Deniaud - Vigilant Wolf

USS Hermes Lounge


by First Lieutenant Leonard Swift & Ensign Marielle Deniaud
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[Deniaud/Swift] Collaboration Log
Stardate: 16008.02 [02 August, 2016]
Vigilant Wolf

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“And could I look upon her without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of remorse, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world?”
- Charles Dickens [Great Expectations]
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Murmuring in the distance. For the most part, a quiet evening on the ship. After hours. Swift had taken a break from the many hours of paperwork and processing that tended to get backlogged due to missions, or the sheer amount of things that came through. Tonight was just doing some rounds through the corridors, recognizing faces, greeting people as he walked. Some were faces he was less than familiar with, others, he knew on a friendly level. This went on for a while, his feet taking him around a corner with a word printed on the walls in large and bold lettering “ENGINEERING”. This part of the ship hummed and thrummed a little louder than the bow side of the ship. Of course, this was where the magic of matter and antimatter reactions took place. Where the power of the ship was nestled. It was here that he could lose himself in the sound alone and walk in a trancelike state if he lost himself in such thoughts. More murmuring, more up ahead. Expecting to pass by a few folks on the next corner, the Wolfen perked his ears to discern exactly where in the hall they might be, so as to avoid a collision on making a turn. But the words made him pause. A hesitation in his step.

“I heard she’s all sorts of bendy,” Crewman Todd Mosley leaned over and whispered to Crewman Warren. Mosley was a short rotund man, who was known as a Gamma shifter and tasked with working in the plasma relay room. There was no real challenge in his work, and all he really needed to do was add an additional “0” when the numbers were a little out of sync.    

“Well, I heard she can do this thing with her tongue that’s supposed to be amazing.” Nicholas Warren was almost the complete opposite in physique. Tall and spindly, Warren towered easily over Mosley, which made working in the plasma relay room with Mosley rather uncomfortable as they tried to work together at one desk in a 2-meter by 2-meter space.    

Both men were not well hidden as they stood in the far corner of Engineering, right behind the glass divide. They watched intently, having been distracted during their walk to start their shift, as Peterson waggled his finger at Marielle’s direction.

Peterson placed a hand on his hip and shook his head as he spoke to Marielle, a face-splitting grin lighting his face. Marielle, however, had lost the pose that she normally carried - gone was the confidence and near graceful stance and movement. Instead, she appeared beaten as she stood before her rival, her eyes turned down to stare at the far corner of the room and her shoulders slumped ever so slightly. The slump that curved her spine was even more apparent as she stood in front of the warp core.

“I heard she likes groups the best, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a chick.”

“Hell, I heard she’d even, you know, with animals. Though, I hear she prefers dogs.”

By this time, Leonard frowned. A big frown. His tail stopped wagging, ears lowered, and he listened. This did not sound like the kind of discussion that was warranted for any kind of environment. Workplace, lounging areas, or even private quarters. By this time he found that the wall made for a nice place to lean against, quietly observing via ears alone.

“I bet she’d like spankings.” Mosley licked his lips as his eyes focused on Marielle.

“With leather.” Warren groaned softly, almost wantonly.

Peterson pointed towards the far section of Engineering, and Marielle’s head turned to see her destination. She only nodded and walked away. She was only barely able to hold her chin up, her eyes remained glued to the ground as she traced an invisible line towards her destination. Marielle disappeared into a door labeled “Main Deflector”. When she disappeared, Peterson only smirked triumphantly before turning to look at the warp core.

“Peterson’s really enjoying this,” noted the more rotund of the pair. “He’s been wanting to stick it to her ever since she showed him up all those months ago.”

“Stick it to her or stick it to her?” Warren asked, trusting his hips forward and back to make his point. He laughed as Mosley laughed with him, their laughter dark and conniving.    

It was about this time that the Wolfen had had enough. Leaning forward, almost bouncing off the wall, he came to his feet, and rounded the corner. It was almost something out of a horror movie, the way he came out of nowhere, tall, looming, ears flattened, fur puffed, and voice booming.

“And to what methods does one stick it to someone that we make assumptions about based on hearsay, dare I ask?”    

Mosley and Warren jumped and turned, bumping into each other as the soft, dangerous and almost growling voice stopped them from their gossiping. Instinct had them stepping back until they were both flushed against the glass divider, the colour from their faces drained to leave them pale and white. The look of absolute fright made their eyes glisten as tears began to swell. It was exactly the sort of reaction the Wolfen was going for.

“I should remind you gentlemen - or at least men, rather, seeing as there’s little gentlemanly about you at present - that sexual harassment, be it to someone’s face or behind their back is not tolerated in the workplace, or within Starfleet, r the Federation. Perhaps there is something I don’t know that I should question your commanding officer about?”

There was the faintest of sounds, almost a whistle, and a putrid stench that filled the space. Warren looked down at Mosley and wrinkled his nose. “Really?” he whispered, nudging the pudgy man with his bony elbow.

Mosley stuttered. “I- I can’t help it,” he managed, his voice hoarse.

The Wolfen’s steely gaze fixated on them both, golden eyes catching the reflection of a nearby holopanel creating an eery green iridescence in his glare. “You, go clean yourself up. To both of you, should I catch wind of this sort of behavior ever again…” he leaned down closer to the pale and trembling men, almost in their faces, “There will be… severe… repercussions. It will not be pleasant for you.” Closer still, and his words became halted, mouth bearing back into a snarl, pointed and carnivorous teeth quite visible. “Do not let it happen again. Am. I. Clear.” The words could later have been described as having a growl in the sound, or maybe it was their fear. Fear did things like that.

The two barely managed to furiously nod their heads, Mosley pushing Warren roughly to move as they scurried away. “Move, dammit!” Mosley muttered to his partner, more frightened than angry that the lanky man beside him seemed to be having problems making his legs move.

They managed to take quick long strides until they felt they were safe enough away from the Wolfen. “That ‘Marielle Special’ is totally not worth it if we get eaten by the damn doctor, man,” Warren told his huffing friend, who was barely able to keep up with his long strides. They broke out into a sprint until they disappeared into the safety of their power relay room in the depths of the Hermes.

Leonard huffed a little at the remark, but figured he’d made his point for now. But his walk was no longer pleasant. In fact, he decided on a new course of action. Two men gossiping, part of a larger team… that sort of conversation was never so isolated. Taking a deep breath, calming down, he pressed forward. A bit closer towards the Engineering bay. He was often seen making his rounds, so moving around wouldn’t seem that out of the ordinary, but this time the beast was listening to the words of everyone, watching with interest as people worked and conversed. One thing of interest was Peterson. Peterson, who took great joy in being ‘the boss’, over an obviously defeated Marielle. Closer still, the Wolfen found a railing on the edge of an outcropping that looked into the bay. It was here he stopped, closed his eyes, and tuned his ears in the directions of various people speaking.

“I heard she went nuts from the pressure, and that’s why she got demoted. Just went nuts.”

“I have no clue how the hell I’m supposed to do this diagnostic, and Peterson’s no help.”

That one made him smile for a moment.    

“I heard she threw herself at Robinson, and his wife found out. Only, she joined in!”

“I heard she and Kiki had a wild night, and that’s why they had to replace that room on Deck 10. That nursery is just a cover.”

“I heard she got caught in the armory with Grimsdottir, and they didn’t even stop!”

“I heard she’s got this checklist, and she’s making her way through the ship. The Doc’s next apparently.”

That made his ears flatten, and he turned away. So much of this behaviour running amok, unchecked. A few steps from the railing, heading out of the department, he raised his PADD to type on it. “ALICE, can you do me a favor?”

The disembodied voice spoke up over his comm badge. “What do you need?”

The Wolfen continued walking. “I’m a little surprised you haven’t said anything before now. It’s in regards to Ensign Marielle Deniaud, and--”

“Is there any way I can refuse?”

He made a face as he continued. “A sexual harassment seminar, ALICE. Mandatory for all members of the crew. Beginning tomorrow morning. I will be giving the instruction on this class. I wanted to ask you to send that out to all residents on board the Hermes, crew or otherwise. It will be taken before the week is done. It’s something I feel will benefit everyone, including you.”

“How is it for me?”

Swift stopped walking for a moment, standing in the empty corridor, looking up at one of the holo-emitters. “While I realize that people might not be so likely to sexually harass you, ALICE, it is still a way to instruct people in ways of respecting people and life forms.”

He was only met with silence for several long seconds. Silence, until she finally spoke again to him. “I will send your request to be approved by the Commodore, since you are asking for the entire crew to take time away from their duties.”

Leonard nodded. “Thank you ALICE. Know that I appreciate what you do. Thank you.”

Silence once more filled the corridor. And so, quietly, he stood in the hallway, thinking. A few moments went by, and the Wolfen began to walk once more, through the corridor, past an archway that seemed to act as possibly a connector of two corridor sections. The door opened for him as he passed through. Down the hallway, he spotted Marielle. She stood facing an open door.

She glanced into the junction, the jefferies tube ladder within her sights. She sighed, the thought of traversing twenty decks had her body shaking and her lungs constricting. Her hands moved to cover her mouth in hopes of stopping the sob that threatened to spill. Her tears traced over her cheek and over her fingers before dropping to the carpet.

“Ellie?” came the voice of the Wolfen from the doorway. He could see that she was a wreck. A mess. In shambles. Falling apart.    

She turned her head away from him, quickly wiped her tears, and sniffled before she turned to face him. Her eyes focused on something beyond his shoulder as she tried to pull her lips into a small smile. The glow that normally accompanied it didn’t light her face or reach her eyes, which were puffy and red. “Hey Doc. What are you doing out so late?”

Leonard took a moment, carefully evaluating her. A quick glance up and down, he saw just how exhausted her body was. Her legs had an odd quiver to them as they supported her - muscular malnourishment, maybe? She did appear a little on the thinner side, as though she hadn’t eaten properly for days. Skin a little paler than it’s usual tone, some redness, suggesting a lack of vitamins and minerals. The way her eyes moved, they way she moved when she spoke to him, anxiety and nerves being taxed to their limits. Heavy breathing and her attempts to look calm, yet carrying a bit of a birdlike movement to her actions… all of this lead to a less than satisfactory analysis. “I could ask you the same thing. You’ve not been eating properly, or sleeping well, for that matter. I noticed things weren’t going well for you lately, but I didn’t realize quite to what extent.” The Wolfen stepped closer to her, looking concerned. Much more personable than before. “Ellie… what’s going on with you? Do you wish to talk about something?”

She only shook her head, sniffling as she settled her eyes on the metal bar before her. “Just working a lot. That’s all,” she replied softly.    

He raised a single brow, giving a look as a teacher would over the glasses. A look that said ‘I know better than that.’ But rather than say that, he gave a different response. “Is that so? I don’t mean to pry, but if you ever need to talk, my door is always open, at any hour of the day.” Things were beginning to click into place. He had known that she had been having trouble lately. A demotion is usually a smack to anyone’s pride. That alone wouldn’t affect someone this much though. That, combined with ALICE’s comments earlier, began to form speculations in his mind, putting this and that together. The timing was too perfect. While he didn’t know the details, Marielle had done something to anger the ship AI, on a level that was far enough to warrant a change of rank. It wasn’t the first time ALICE had controlled parts of the ship to influence the crew for whatever reason. Usually safety reasons. Somehow, the two were related.

Marielle only nodded, her eyes glossing over with tears that did not fall. “Thanks,” she barely uttered. It was difficult having to face the jefferies tube again, but the idea of returning to the solitude of her quarters had Pathos wailing. Gone were the beautiful colours and symphonic melodies. Pathos had shut down, overtaxed and overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of stress. Her legs attempted to take a step forward, but her knees buckled under the weight. She collapsed on the floor instantly, knees pulled together under her and legs splayed to the side. Her tears fell freely as she sobbed into her hands, her body shaking uncontrollably. “I don’t want to go inside. Please don’t make me,” Marielle begged softly, bending forward as her spine curled within itself to make her body as small as possible.    

He frowned, furrowing his brows, putting pieces more and more together. It was as though many on the ship, including the ship itself, had turned against her, and he wasn’t privy to why. “No one is making you go in there, Ellie,” he said, partially oblivious to the depths of her troubles.

“Please don’t make me go in there.” Her breaths had become haggard somewhere between the first and second plea, increasing in speed to the point her lungs couldn’t process any oxygen. Her arms wrapped around herself. “I swear I’ll be good. I promise I’ll be good.” She rocked herself, white knuckled as her hands gripped her arms. She spoke to the ghost of her past, her voice broken and hushed, not realizing that Leonard was right beside her.

Leonard crouched next to the panic stricken woman, more to make sure she didn’t pass out than anything. “I’m right here, Ellie,” he said quietly enough for her to hear, but to keep from making any sort of scene. Gently, he took her hand, and held it still. “Look at me, Ellie.” He watched as she turned her head towards him. While she had done as he had asked, there was a haze in her eyes that clearly indicated her body was moving without being conscious of it. “Look at how I’m breathing. Slow in,” and he inhaled, held it a moment, “And out. Slow in…” He’d repeat that until her own breathing matched.

It took her several minutes to match his breathing. In that time, the shaking in her limbs calmed significantly and the haze in her eyes disappeared. Green eyes were able to focus on him the moment she was able to take one actual controlled breath without the edges of panic in her limbs. They remained quiet, and Marielle used the sound of his breathing to keep her grounded. “Thanks,” she muttered softly. Her eyes fell to her knees as she was unable to bring herself to look at him. “Sorry about that,” her voice was the barest octave over a whisper and filled remorse.

Swift shook his head. “Nothing to apologize for,” he said quietly to the tiny woman. “You okay now? Have you eaten anything recently?” He asked, helping her to her feet, and noting her lack of strength as she clung to his arm. “What’s going on, Ellie? This is very out of character from the energetic and confident woman I know.”

Marielle shook her head. “It’s nothing,” came the soft reply. “Just…” Again, she shook her head and was unable to continue. It meant revealing the rumours that plagued her and the troubles with ALICE and how she disappointed her uncle. Humiliation was the least of her concern, but that didn’t seem to ease her worries or give her any strength. It went against her nature to speak of anything so unpleasant in her life, and she struggled even finding the words to say anything about it. Her stomach grumbled loudly as if to answer Leonard’s earlier question for her.

Her heart rate began to increase again, and combined with the way she averted her eyes from him, Leonard recognized she was hiding… something. He could guess what it was. Deciding on another approach, a different tactic, the Wolfen tried something new. “Well, seeing how busy you are, in the event you don’t get to your messages, I will tell you then that I will be giving a mandatory course on sexual harassment for all members of the ship, to be taken at any point through the next week, once I have it approved by the Commodore.”

She chewed on the tidbit of information and tensed as the voice in her head started ringing the alarm. It didn’t take a genius to realize that the good doctor must have heard the rumours, and there was no doubt in her mind that he had taken it upon himself to remedy the situation. Yet, everyone would know the catalyst, and she’d suffer even more. They’d blame her. The thought had her shaking and shaking her head furiously. Marielle bit down on her tongue to stop herself from crying openly and began counting her breaths to stop the impending sense of panic from making her hazy yet again.

Leonard stayed beside her, “I realize the way it will look,” he began, “But the only way to make it stop…” He pursed his lips, knowing full well that if he chose not to act, he was morally and ethically wrong, and by choosing to act, he was indirectly singling out someone as a target of other’s ire. Either way, he knew he couldn’t win. With this though, he could at least address it, help to fix it. Leaving it broken would only guarantee it would get worse. It was still a no win situation though. The doctor was ready to be, however, the Big Bad Wolf if he had to.

“Yeah.” She sighed, her eyes still focusing on the ladder in front of her. “Well. Thanks for the warning.” Marielle ignored the shaking in her legs. “I should get back back to my quarters.” There was a flatness to her voice. Yet, still she remained, staring, at the ladder.

Leonard shook his head. “No. It’s plain to see you are in no fit state to continue duty. You can barely stand, you’re weak, and you’re half starved. Come with me, I’m going to see to it you at least eat something, and get some rest. I’ll make sure you have a replacement for the time you’re not able to work. In the meantime, come, let’s get you some food.” With that, Swift nodded his head in the direction he’d be heading.

Marielle glanced down the path and chewed at the corner of her lip. “I- I don’t think I should,” she stepped back from Leonard. “I think- I think I have to take the,” she stopped, gulping to push the words past her lips, “the- the jefferies tube. And. I’m supposed to go straight to my quarters.” She shuddered again. She’d made too many mistakes, and all she wanted to do was hide.

Leonard shook his head again. “As of right now, you are under my care. You are not well, not healthy. Until I deem otherwise, I am mandating you to eat some proper food, even if I have to witness it myself, and get proper rest, if I have to watch you myself. And seeing as I can’t be in my sickbay and your quarters to be sure, you will be sleeping in sickbay, and overall where we can keep an eye on you,” with that said, he went a little less formal. “And besides...I promise you you’ll be able to get a break...from everything.”

Quietly, she thought on that. She nodded her head eventually, her eyes still remaining on the ladder until it disappeared behind the shutting doors as she stepped back. Marielle released a sigh of relief as the ladder disappeared from view. Still, she remained rooted in her spot, unmoving, as if she was ready for Leonard to retract his offer.

Instead, the Wolfen gave her a singular pat on the shoulder, and began to inch down the hallway until they reached the turbolift, which had yet to open, even though he should have been encroaching into the sensory boundaries. “Come, let’s get you some food.”    

The doors to the Turbolift still hadn’t opened, even though he was standing directly in front of them. A good long several moments passed as Leonard refused to budge. Finally, the doors opened into the well lit - and small - lift.    

Marielle stepped back, fight-and-flight kicking into high alert as she realized the turbolift could easily crash and she would plummet to her doom. “No way out,” she muttered softly to herself.

More red flags in his head that surrounded this woman. The way the doors hesitated to open. The way she instinctively back away from that which he had seen her nonchalantly used before. More pieces fell into place in regards to her stress levels. Stepping partially into the lift, obstructing the doors, he looked at Marielle. “We’ll get you some food, and I can check on my kids as well. I don’t think you’ve seen them for a bit… They’ve gotten pretty big by now.” Distraction method. Something she usually melted over. Puppies.

Marielle took a quiet deep breath before taking a small step into the turbolift, stopping with one foot within the lift and the other in the hallway. Her eyes darted around nervously as she rushed inside, afraid that if she paused, she would find herself backing out quickly. Her hands gripped the handrail tightly as her body remained tense, though a touch of a real smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Really?” she answered softly. “I bet they’re just a bundle of energy.”    

Satisfied that she came along, overcoming fears of her mind, Leonard stepped fully inside as well. “Deck seven.” He smiled and looked at Marielle. “They are. They really are. They’re moving around a lot more now. I’m going to need someone soon to help watch them.” He watched Marielle tensed as the doors closed, but he kept talking about other things in hopes of keeping her distracted. The doctor wasn’t sure what was plaguing the young engineer, but he decided he would soon find out. At that moment, however, her health was the priority and he was determined to watch over his patient.

   
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