[USS Vanguard] The Morning After

  • From: Kieran Darkwater <kierandarkwater@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ncv80221@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 10:36:26 +0100 (BST)

Kieran drifted quietly into the bar through the clockwise door, settling 
himself gently in a secluded corner and watching the revelry through shadowed, 
dark-rimmed eyes. Sleep had been hard to come by for the last day or so, and 
internal wrangling robbed him of his appetite for anything, even had he been 
even slightly inclined to such activities.


/Was I ever interested?/ he wondered. Being different was a fact of life for 
him, and always had been ? everyone had a unique background, and everyone was 
correspondingly unique as well, but some fundamentals underlay each and every 
person in the Federation ? biological fundamentals and instinctive habits.


Drinking games, of course, were not one of those precedents, but he cast his 
mind back to the events under the influence of the virus, and he could think of 
many that were. The? invitation? of not just one but two attractive women ? 
he?d not had the courage to speak with either of them since ? had called to the 
primitive urge to procreate, yet he?d been unswayed completely. Whilst others 
could barely control themselves ? if at all ? he?d not been inspired in that 
direction at all.


Similarly when the Master Chief?s call to arms went up, a large number of the 
crew ? primarily the men, and primarily the ones not otherwise occupied ? took 
to fighting, struggling to establish themselves in the pecking order: Kieran 
felt nothing. Now, staring at the more moderate range of joyful activities, he 
still felt no urge to join them. Slipping back out the door without touching 
his drink, he returned to his quarters to slump in his chair, unable to rest 
but unable to concentrate on work, and wait for a revelation.




[snip] "Do you even remember last night?" he asked


"Some of it" Zena replied as she made a pitiful effort to grab the glass of 
water. Giving up on the water she lay and closed her eyes trying to remember 
the events of the night before...[/snip]


Jaav watched the full range of curiosity, embaressment and others make their 
way across her face, and felt his smile broaden more than a little as he did.


?Much as I?d love to stay and watch you recall,? he offered, kissing her 
forehead gently, ?duty calls.?


?Duty? We?re on shore leave, Jaav.?


?Unfortunately, people don?t always have problems 9-5, weekdays.? He pointed 
out ? she knew what it was like to have a disruptive career. ?I don?t plan to 
be too long. Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and I?ll come by and? well, laugh, 
frankly, later?


He slipped out the door a few feet ahead of the pillow, chuckling gently to 
himself as he went down a few decks. It wasn?t a corridor he?d used 
particularly often, and he stopped outside the unassuming door, pressing the 


Kieran looked up, hastily arranging a few things on his desk to appear as 
though he?d been working. ?Come in.? he called, and the doors hissed open to 
reveal Jaav waiting.


?Counsellor.? He acknowledged. ?What can I do for you??


?I thought I?d come see how you were.? Jaav offered, as Kieran gestured for him 
to sit.


?I?m? fine. Why??


?You haven?t been to see me.?


?I was only in, what, two months ago??


?True. Every four months, regular as clockwork, you come in, tell me that 
everything is fine, give me just enough to make a few suggestions, and then go 
back to work.


?It?s all true!?


?I know, I?m not suggesting otherwise ? you give me exactly what I?d expect, 
which is your way of showing that everything really is fine. It?s your way, 
that?s fine.? Kieran waited, knowing something more was coming. ?Normally, 
after recent events, you?d be in my office, making an appointment, telling me 
just enough about what happened whilst we were? influenced? to let me know that 
you were telling the truth, and to let me know that you were back to normal. 
I?ve not seen you yet.?


?Are you checking up on everyone?? Kieran snapped, and Jaav was more than a 
little surprised to see anger on his face, to hear it in his voice.


?Just the people still acting out of character.? The scientist snorted, 
slumping back in the chair where Jaav could see the dark rings beneath his 
eyes, the weary set of his shoulders.


?What character?? It was an undertone, probably not meant for Jaav to hear, but 
he did. Kieran, he knew, was not normally this undisciplined.


?I?m not sure I understand the question.? Kieran looked up, briefly, gnawing 
gently at the inside of his lip as he contemplated telling all. It was true, he 
was always cautious in his dealings. He didn?t fear the counsellor, there was 
just little point in revealing all the trivial details of his life as though 
anyone cared ? right now, though, things were different.


?What sort of reactions have you heard of from people?? He wasn?t avoiding the 
question, as such, but Jaav decided to run with it ? generally speaking, if the 
subject was talking, he was achieving something with them.


?A variety ? aggression, greed, lust? the typical base emotions and activities 
consistent with higher social functions being suppressed.? He said. Talking 
technicalities to Kieran was the way to keep his attention.


?Base emotions and activities? fundamentals??? Jaav nodded. ?So, what does it 
say about someone if they don?t appear to have those ?base? emotions, the 
fundamentals that make people people.?


?Is that what worries you? That you might be different??


?I?ve always been different, Jaav. My cousin changed the dictionary on the 
computer in our town to show my picture under the entries odd, unusual and 
different.? It was a story Jaav had heard before, but the humour in the telling 
wasn?t present this time. ?I can live with different to everyone else? this is 
more than a different personality, this is? things are missing, Jaav. Things 
that shouldn?t be missing. Basics of being alive ? sexual attraction, the 
strive for dominance, resistance to restriction??


?The Virus didn?t strip away all the vestiges of humanity ? of civilisation ? 
from us. It reduced the capacity for rational thought to a degree, and 
suppressed the social constructs we use to moderate behaviour, but it didn?t 
completely cut us loose from everything we?ve learnt. The strong willed out 
there still managed some control over their activities ? people still used 
tools and equipment. Were you expected to devolve into an animal??


?Jaav, there was nothing. No lust, no drive to fight, I just wanted everyone to 
leave me alone.? Jaav tapped his padd gently, wondering how to continue for a 


?Kieran, since you joined the ship, you?ve not had a single serious 
relationship.? He held up a hand as Kieran began to interrupt. ?Please, I?ve 
not been prying, but I speak with everyone else, too, and they don?t have your 
reticence about discussing their personal lives ? none of them have mentioned 


?My personal life is just that ? I don?t avoid discussing it because I?m 
embarrassed about not having sex!?


?Kieran? calm down. I?m not judging. The Virus let people?s basic character 
loose ? some people?s basic nature is a competitive one, others are primarily 
sensitive, or emotional. You are an insular character, and you always have been 
.You force yourself to social activities and interactions ? without /that/ 
social construct of inclusion you revert to being insular and focussed.?


?Why? Sentient creatures are social, it?s one of the defining characteristics.?


?You know better than that; society is a by-product of sentience, it?s common, 
but it?s not a requirement. What?s bothering you about this, Kieran? this lack 
of clarity isn?t like you.?


?It?s? I?m different. I?ve always been different. I can live with being 
different. I look around at the majority of people and think ?I don?t want to 
be like them anyway?. Self-indulgent and self-interested, concerned with 
venality and appearance, achievement and public opinion. It?s a choice.?


?A touch judgemental, but I see where you?re coming from.?


?But it?s not a choice, is it? Once all the choices ? the ?social construct? ? 
are stripped away, it?s a basic. I?m not disdainful by choice, it?s hardwired.?




?SO! SO! Is that it? SO!?


?Is it important to you??


?We each create our own destinies ? that?s a pretty fundamental concept for 




?I didn?t, it?s chosen for me. It?s there in the background, making my 
decisions for me.?


?Are you any different today than you were last week??




?Has anything changed? What you like, what you don?t like, how you see people 
and places and things. Has any of it changed.?




?Why? You like the same things you liked before, you dislike the same things 
you disliked before. What?s changed??


?I?m not free to like or dislike any more.? Head in hands, tugging at his hair, 
Kieran threw himself back in the chair with a growl of frustration.


?Kieran, I think we?ll call time on this here, for a moment. You?re getting 
yourself worked up, and I need to look some things up on this before we go on. 
You should try and sleep.?


?Sleep? That?ll make it go away.?


?No, it won?t ? it will help you think clearly enough that we can work together 
on it.? Sagging, knowing it for truth, Kieran slumped in the seat, the fight 
going out of him.


?I?m guessing that having talked about it will make sleep easier?? he held up a 
hand as Kieran gave him a familiar look. ?Trust me on that, try sleeping. If it 
hasn?t helped, call me and I can get you a sedative, but we?ll try and avoid 
that if we can.?


Standing to walk to the door, he looked back with a sigh. ?You are going to 
have to come to terms with this, you know. There isn?t a magic answer.? Kieran 
just nodded, still in the seat, the haunted expression hanging round the edge 
of his eyes. ?Get some rest ? we?re on leave anyway, so you?ve no post to 
attend, I don?t need to put you on medical leave.?


?Thank you, Counsellor.?

?Sleep, Kieran.?

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