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  Captain Cersei Naal, et al., SD
 
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Nazir was silent as he leaned against the wall and stared at the gathered officers.  Most, if not all, were shivering desperately to regain their lost body warmth.  His arms were crossed over his chest and his ankle crossed over the other.  He wasn’t sure if they had gathered to watch the recording or to be surrounded by the warmth generated by multiple bodies.  Dark amber eyes swept through the room as he studied the faces.  Those who appeared most pained were the telepaths and empaths among the crew.  The neural agent would last another twenty-one hours.  It was the true test to see if they had the fortitude of what was to come.  â€œWe should consider instituting mental exercises for the entire crew,” he murmured to Elias Bryton.  The Angosian did not have friends, but Bryton was closest to filling that role.

Elias nodded in agreement.  The human watched the shivering masses and couldn’t help but chuckle.  The frozen tundra of a world was one of his favourite training locations.  It was always accompanied by a warm body in his bed.  â€œCould be helpful,” he agreed.  â€œThis lot is a bit disorganized.  Can you believe that stunt your researcher pulled?”  The director pointed his finger at Esdan Otretal, the Betazoid that had been assigned into the small theoretical research and technologies department.

The commander turned his attention to the junior officer in question.  He smirked.  â€œHe’s suffering for it now.  We knew someone would strip.  Someone always strips in that one,” he replied with a dark chuckle.  â€œBut, he’s more unglued over the loss of his abilities than the others.  That’s gonna be a problem.”

The biomedical director nodded and turned his attention to Lieutenant junior grade NightWing K’Trevala.  â€œThat one’s interesting, don’t you think?” he whispered.  â€œFollowed direction without much question.  Had no problem with the weather.”

Nazir chuckled.  â€œShould be interesting to find out how the dynamic in medical changes.”

NightWing sighed as she shed the heavy cold weather gear and looked around at the others from the training mission and, grabbing the medkit from one of the other medics in the lounge, headed straight for Esdan Otretal using the tricorder to see how far he had gone into hypothermia. She knew it was pretty far already since he had yanked off the protective gear and had only been in his training uniform. She grabbed a mug of hot chocolate and shoved it into his  hands, even as she got one of the warming blankets activated and around him. “Here, drink this, it will help you warm up.” She remembered too many ice rescues back home in the dead of winter, this was ‘old hat’ for her and her brother back there on Velgarth. The Pelagirs around Lake Everdim taught her many things about the ice and mountains and she had done her best to apply those old lessons to the situation they were thrown in. She knew much about working and surviving in different terrains, thanks to those lessons, but the problem was that there wasn’t enough time to impart all she had learned about such survival to the others. Cities and spaceships were  okay, but she was at home in the wilds. She began checking on the others that were also hypothermic, doing her best to get them  under warming blankets and loaded with hot beverages. Once she was able to get their core temperature out of the basement, so to speak, it would be easier to reason with them and get them to go soak for a while in the hot tub in the gym area. She knew she wanted to go soak for an hour or so, but her team needed her services first. She grabbed a mug of hot chocolate as well and sipped  on the beverage while still using the heat to warm up her hands.

“She’s a bit too emotionally attached to her patients,” Nazir muttered.  â€œThat seems to be a problem for this entire crew.  They’re too clingy.”  The commander smirked as he scratched the side of his neck.  â€œThey’re all hugs and camaraderie.”  His dark eyes settled on the back of Lieutenant junior grade Riley Higgs’ head.  Turning to Bryton, he raised a brow in question.  â€œI actually wanted to talk to you about moving Riley Higgs to science.”

He shrugged.  â€œI don’t care as long as she stays in my section.”  Elias looked at Yari and smirked.  â€œWhy?  Didn’t like her in medical?”  When the Angosian only shrugged in response, the director of biomedical sciences chuckled.  â€œYou’re just interested in messing with them, aren’t you?”

“Asher thought all her tinkering on her leg would make her better suited for science,” Nazir offered with a smirk.

NightWing continued moving around the others, checking on them and seeing  that they got hot drinks in them and were at least paired with a warmer body under the blankets to help  increase the  hypothermics’ condition to something closer to what would be considered ‘normal’. She was worried about K’hevok, the half Vulcan was seeming to suffer the effects of the cold weather worse  than the others yet his Klingon side was too proud to let him show  it. She made sure he was having several heating blankets around him at  all times while he was drinking several hot beverages to help raise his core temperature. She knew the Vulcans’ ability of regulating their body temperature but was unsure how the Klingon half would come into play in such situations.

Lieutenant junior grade Esdan Otretal continued to shiver under the large blanket that was draped over his shoulders.  His fingers were wrapped tightly around the hot beverage.  He had no concept of what was in his mug.  He couldn’t register the aroma.  He had some concept of being cold.  His body shook nearly uncontrollably despite how he’d been in the lounge for a good hour.  Esdan bent over at the waist and curled in upon himself while he remained seated in the uncomfortable chair.  It was too quiet.  â€œHow do you people live like this?!” he screamed aloud.  The Betazoid jumped to his feet.  The mug fell from his hands and splashed the legs of the chair.  The blanket fell into a lump onto the floor when his hands came up to cover his ears.  â€œIt’s too quiet!”

NightWing heard Esdan’s scream and turned toward him. “Calm down, Esdan, it will be over soon. They want to see if we can function without using our abilities, and we can, if we just calm down and think of this as what it is, a way to try to break us. We can come through this stronger if we calm down and think things through.”

“Don’t tell me to calm down!” he screamed at her.  His normally easy and youthful tenor voice jumped as it squeaked.  The Betazoid shook desperately with the chill that continued to make his skin cold.  Esdan motioned to the other suffering telepaths and empaths in the room.  They were all in a daze, many bent over in numb shock or others crying.  Those who weren’t present were most likely in their rooms to isolate.  His pointed finger was aimed at the Tayledras and his arm shook as he tried to steady the limb.  â€œWhat’s wrong with you?!  You should be freaking out like the rest of us!”

“I’ve had to deal with this before in my training back home, just because you can’t use one part of yourself doesn’t mean that you’re an invalid and useless to the team. You’re brilliant at what  you do, so can you think of a way to give those that are mind-blind the abilities we have?

Esdan threw his hands in the air.  â€œYou have no clue who I am,” he growled.  His body continued to shake and he fell down to sit in his chair once more.  His legs came up and his arms wrapped around himself.  He buried his face into his knees and he sobbed loudly as he rocked back and forth.  â€œNo one should be this calm.  Your damn lecture doesn’t help.  You sure know everything without knowing a damn thing!”

She sat down beside him, seeing his need for warmth and wrapping the blanket back around him as she got in under it as well to hold him close to her and share her warmth.” No, I don’t  know everything and I’ll be the first to admit it.”

The physical touch was unwanted and the Betazoid pushed NightWing roughly aside.  He hissed at her.  â€œI don’t want your damn pity!” he screamed.

“I’m not pitying you, Esdan. I’m just telling you how I see things, I don’t have near the telepathic ability that you do, I’m more the empath, and a Healer at that, that’s one of the differences  between us. Also, if you were not brilliant,  you wouldn’t be here on this project. I’m staying calm because I know that getting all panicked and emotional will not help everyone get  better any faster and if I were that way, I could be seriously hurting their chances when immediate action  would  be needed.” She handed him her mug of hot chocolate to drink.”You’re still too cold and I want you to warm up, maybe not to me, not emotionally, but at least get your body back to  its normal temperature.”

Lieutenant Commander Marielle Deniaud entered quietly and stared around the lounge as she stood at the threshold.  Her eyes narrowed slightly at Nazir and Bryton, but she nodded in their direction as a formal greeting.  She watched one of her researchers panicking in the middle row.  It appeared that the medical officer was attempting to calm the Betazoid, but she had no idea what the conversation transpired between the two.  The lounge occupants were watching the scene, so whatever it was had to worth the attention.

The security chief walked sullenly behind the diminutive engineer.  His gaze immediately lifted toward the ruckus with NightWing and Otretal and his features hardened.  Gideon grumped quietly and mumbled under his breath about the researcher.  The half-Bajoran lifted his hand to grip Marielle’s shirt sleeve briefly and get her attention.  â€œI’m just going to head to training,” he murmured.  The emptiness of emotion was still overwhelming and the thought of being in a large room with a bunch of people and not feeling any of them made him shiver.  It had nothing to do with the cold.

Esdan growled in irritation and slapped the offered mug away.  It flew and hit the ground.  The rich chocolate splashed the carpet.  He pushed to his feet and pushed his way down the row.  He tripped several times in the attempt but somehow managed to get to the exit.  â€œYou’re a freak!” he screamed.  â€œYou don’t know a thing!  No one would respond like this!”  He pushed the security chief and the research chief apart as he ran out of the room.

“Esdan! I know what it might cost if I do give in to what I do or don’t feel.” She sighed and moved over to one of the medtechs to speak with him. ”Make sure  that he gets warmed up, possibly by  being in the hot  tub for a while.” She went back to get another hot  beverage, this time some mulled cider. When she sat down again, she turned away from the screen and everyone else and buried her face in her arms, her shoulders shaking.

Her attention was pulled in every direction.  With Gideon speaking to her, Esdan running out of the room, and NightWing calling out after the junior researcher even when he was no longer present, Marielle wasn’t sure who deserved a response first.  She sighed, deciding it was probably best to speak to the Bajoran-mix.  â€œAre you sure?  They’re playing the video,” she pointed to the screen.

“He’s lucky the Karmanori pulled me off of him,” he muttered as he turned to watch the Betazoid running out.  The physicist’s question pulled his attention back to her and Gideon faced the woman to nod at her.  â€œI’ll watch it later.”  â€˜I can’t make decisions like this.’  He raised his hands to rub over his face.

The physicist raised a brow at him.  â€œWhat?” she asked, blinking slightly at Gideon.  She giggled quietly.  â€œOh.  That.”  Marielle waved her hand nonchalantly.  â€œAll of you were so harsh on him.  He was just excited.”  She turned to look at NightWing and sighed quietly.  â€œI”ve got to go apologize for my officer apparently.”  Her gaze returned to the security chief.  â€œI’ll see you at dinner?”

Gideon shook his head.  â€œYou don’t apologize for him.  Don’t see me or Erik jumping you in our excitement.”  His brows furrowed as he grumped again.  He’d forgotten about the video being available to watch and he wondered if he would need to watch it.

A soft giggle escaped her and she flicked him lightly on the forehead.  Marielle bit her tongue to keep the response from finding voice.  â€œHe’s my officer, and he just went off on her in public,” she reasoned.  The engineer turned researcher moved towards the medical officer and waved to Gideon without looking back at him.  â€œGo.  Be amazing like always,” she offered as her good-bye.

“Let Nazir handle him,” he called after her with a sigh.  The security chief frowned at her command and turned to leave the lounge.

The physicist took the seat next to NightWing and offered the pale woman an apologetic smile.  â€œSorry about him-  About Esdan.  I’ll speak to him about being respectful to his crewmates,” she offered quietly.  There was no need to express how she’d walked in on the scene or how she’d listened to the entire exchange.  There was no way for the diminutive woman to know how the empathically and telepathically inclined officers were feeling.  She simply had no way to know since she’d only ever been alone with her own thoughts.  She assumed, however, that it was very much like losing a piece of one’s self.  The adjustment would undoubted be rough for a good portion of them.

NightWing looked up, eyes still streaming. ”It’s okay, Commander. I’m like this for a little while after the crisis is finally over and though the worst of  the physical is over, for the non-mindblind it’s still going on. I try to NOT use my abilities, except in a crisis, as much as possible just because of such situations as this.”

“Crisis?”  Her head leaned to one side as she studied the medic.  â€œThis isn’t really a crisis?”  Marielle worried her lower lip and shook her head.  â€œSorry.  It probably does feel like a crisis for everyone.”

“I know, but I look at these ‘exercises’ as equal to the real thing  since it’s  practice  for some times when we might be faced with similar situations.” She wiped her eyes and sipped at the cider. “It  might be a good idea for us to hold seminars in addition to these training exercises  on what we already know so we can teach each other without having to waste time and energy to have the knowledge residing in just one person of the team and have to try to explain it on the fly as to what might be needed.”

She looked up to stare at the video as the recording played.  It would most likely be on repeat like the first.  Marielle sighed quietly.  She had a feeling Gideon would be spending hours watching in the lounge and she wondered if perhaps he’d simply waste away in the lounge while he watched.  She shrugged.  â€œYou’d need to speak to your section director about it, I think.”  The physicist sighed quietly.  â€œI’ve had training with my own department and with both research and engineering pulled together.”  She leaned back into her seat and continued to watch the split screen.  Apparently they had eyes on the rescuees and the rescuers, probably so they could watch reactions and actions.

“I know and I will, but I’m not talking  specialized department knowledge, but in general, like how to survive in the snow, so to speak, and I was wondering what you thought of it.”

Marielle shrugged.  â€œI think they have a plan, and I’m not sure what it is quite yet.  So far, all these joint training sessions have been nothing more than observation sessions.”  She motioned to the screen as she watched Esdan stripping his winter gear before setting it afire with his phaser.  â€œI don’t think this has anything to do with actual training.  There’s no need to keep our telepaths and empaths unable to use their abilities for twenty-four hours, but here they are doing it.  They have these recordings on repeat between sessions.”  She shrugged once more.

“I can think of possible reasons for having us mind-blind for different time periods. What if we were to run into an aggressive telepathic race like the Rynami? Would we be able to react and function against them if we had  to have our abilities blocked?”

“I’m sure it’s to assess what needs work and they’ll train accordingly,” Marielle offered.  She was and most likely would always be the eternal optimist.  She chose to believe that whatever reason they had to endure the group scenarios would come into focus in time and it would be for the betterment of their abilities as Starfleet officers.  The researcher pushed a small smile to her features as she looked to Nightwing.  â€œI’m sure it’ll work out in the end.”

“Alright, let’s not hope that the end involved is the one that winds up being deposited in the sewer system.” NightWing smiled slightly before going back to watching the room for anyone else that might be suffering from hypothermia. She scribbled a note to Lt Cmdr Bryton on a convenient PADD that she wanted to talk to him about some ideas that might help the teams. She sent the message off to him and waited for his response.


   
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