SIM:Nicholotti All the Cards On the Table

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((Private Room One, Sickbay, USS Victory))

::There was something not quite benevolent that hung in the air as Kali moved a chair near where she and her duplicate had been sitting and requested that her First Officer sit. It was clear that part of it was shock, though he would never let that part really show. What she dreaded now was how far back she had set their relationship after having made such strides only a short time ago. With a deep and heavy sigh, she gestured towards the chair.::

Nicholotti: Sit down. I have some things to tell you.

::From a place behind her knees, as they were drawn up to her chest, the duplicate of the Captain watched the man who had seen her, and turned decisively cold. More fear ran through her mind as she realized the trouble her simple existence was causing. Silently, a shudder ran through her. Not only had she been the cause behind the attack that had taken Colt from the picture, but now she had become the wedge driven between Kali and the man she’d been struggling so hard to create a working dynamic with. Forcing her own silence, she frowned in the dark.::

Walker: As you wish Captain. No explanation is necessary.

::Knowing him to be a smart man, and the kind of officer she wanted in the role he was in, Kali knew he had worked out much of what was going on here already. But that didn’t mean she escaped the need to vocalize it, or explain it to him. He deserved all of that, and so much more. So much that she wasn’t quite sure she’d be able to offer. In the dark, she frowned slightly.::

Nicholotti: Earlier tonight…::She started, and then paused. Her voice was steady, but those who knew her well would hear that it wasn’t quite normal.:: Commander Cody presented me with an option that would ensure my protection should there be an attempt on my life. That option came in the form of a sort of bioholomatrix duplicate that could fool just about anyone and anything.

Matrix Nicholotti: oO That would be me…. Oo

::Their eyes had adjusted again by now, and she gestured to the woman still fairly curled up in a ball on the chair next to her.::

Nicholotti: After he explained it to me, we moved ahead with things and sent her in my place. It was just to be for the night, until we took the Victory out.

::She could see nothing betrayed in his eyes, and that, perhaps, worried her more than anything.::

Walker: So Mr. Cody assisted you in this. I see. So, will you be requesting my transfer then Ma'am?

::Kali’s eyes got wide for a moment at the question, and though his voice didn’t hold the fury she expected, the statement conveyed much more than other’s might have picked up. She shook her head.::

Nicholotti: Of course not. Why would you think such a thing?

Walker: Well the Captain has deemed it unnecessary to include me with basic elements of her safety until those elements stood revealed. That she chose to share this information with another Officer shows a distinct lack of trust in this officer's capabilities. I would assume that this indicates her desire for another to take on the role of First Officer.

::So much could be read into what he said, and how he said it. But that wasn’t it. He didn’t understand.::

Nicholotti: I have the best First Officer I could possibly get. ::Throwing her hands up, she shook her head again.:: No I don’t want another to take on the role. It was a good idea. In many ways it could have saved my life.

::There was no way of really knowing how things might have played out if she had been the one in the office rather than her double, or what other dangers she might have put herself in if she hadn’t hid away the way she did. But there were also so many other layers to this than could be seen from where they now stood.::

Walker: Captain. :: He took a breath and released it harshly before continuing, trying to let go the tangled knot of anger, betrayal, and hurt. :: Kali. I get it. I do. And the Trojan Horse routine is classic. But, if you can't trust me to tell me? If you don't think to tell me? I'm no good to you.

::The clone of the Captain listened to his words and felt supremely guilty for it all. At the same time, she realized how he spoke about her, not realizing that she had grown into her own. She wasn’t a Trojan horse, even if that was what she was supposed to have been. What did it mean? The dreaded thoughts of her final moments being not far in the future made her shudder and sob to herself as she thought about Colt and his future. The strange pull to him made her want to fight harder against those that would simply turn her off. These feelings and thoughts…..they had to be real. What else could explain their intensity?::

::Shaking her head again, Kali sighed, recognizing with some hope that he had at least called her by her name. Maybe things weren’t set quite as far back as she’d feared, and because she would soon be asking for his help, she was supremely thankful for that simple, tiny gesture.::

Nicholotti: I’m telling you now, and I’m telling you that you don’t get it. There is much more to this than me keeping secrets from you. That was far from the intent.

::Her words were not calming. Instead, he found his anger and frustration building as if she'd poured fuel onto the fire. He clenched his jaw, keeping himself from losing control. ::

Walker: So what you are saying is you did intend to keep it from me, but it was for a good reason. And telling me after the fact doesn't help matters. The point remains. If you won't tell me...if you won't TRUST me...

::Hurt, betrayal; those kinds of feelings had a way of creating a rift that she didn’t want between them. And yet, how could she heal this gaping wound that she’d created. It’d all been to protect him, and her, and everyone around them. But where she saw the big picture, he viewed the most prevalent, hurtful aspect. And looking at things now, who was to say her big picture was even right? Perspective was everything…::

Nicholotti: It has nothing to do with trust. I couldn’t drag you into this Ben. I refuse to put your career at risk after you’ve just gotten it on track.

::The control he'd kept on his temper snapped. He stood up suddenly, putting literal and metaphorical distance between the two. His voice, responding to the internal fury, raising to match those fires. ::

Walker: My Career?!? What good is my career if you won't trust me to do my job?!? And how can I do my job.. if you won't keep me in the loop!?

::Somewhat exasperated, she stood, pacing slightly not far from the other two.::

Nicholotti: A lot of rules were…::her face contorted as she looked at her duplicate and realized just what they were facing now.:: bent beyond all recognition. All to keep me safe. All to keep me from harm. I have to deal with that now, because it’s grown into far more than it was ever supposed to be, but you don’t. I needed to protect you. ::She shook her head.:: I won’t drag you down with me Benjamin Walker!

::His mind flashed back to the holodeck. He'd tried to setup a simulation with the two of them fighting together. And how each of them had stepped in the other's way, trying to save each other from threats that would have been dealt with by the other without harm. Instead they'd both "died" multiple times. The fear that he wouldn't be there when she needed him, that they'd live out the loss he'd seen there, the frustration of it all smashed any remnants of control. He shouted back at her, his face inches from hers. ::

Walker: You just don't get it do you? Either include me... Trust me... or get rid of me. If you'd included me then, maybe, just maybe.. I could have come up with something. No. WE could have come up with something that wouldn't drag either of us down. But instead you went off on your way, because there is no way that Kalianna Nicholotti could possibly...ACTUALLY... RELY ON SOMEONE!!!

::The words cut deeper and deeper as his anger, and perhaps, hurt became more and more apparent, but she wasn’t going to stop him. She deserved his backlash. All of the frustration and fury that rose from him, inches from her face; without flinching she simply let him have his moment. This was a conversation she’d hoped they wouldn’t have to have, but things changed, and chaos fell down around her. Still, at least now he couldn’t quite be implicated in things, but that didn’t stop her from needing his help. She looked at him in an almost dire way, praying that some shred of the dynamic they’d started to build, and some tiny piece of trust was still there.::

::In silence, the duplicate watched the scene play out, searching her memories and thoughts. She understood better than any why Kali had kept her a secret, and why she felt so strongly against dragging anyone else into things. And it was those feelings that were making her feel worse and worse. Instead of becoming a help to the real Captain, a woman she felt strangely connected to, she’d become a catalyst for even more pain. And so, the tears fell.::

Nicholotti: That’s what I was afraid you’d say.

::And who was Kali to argue any of it. Who was she to say he was wrong. It was the same stance she would have taken for Jaxx, and somehow thought that her own First Officer was different. Perhaps it was the first mistake she’d made, at least the first massive one. What would it take to realize that she wasn’t alone in that office in the Hub, with nothing but her rank to stand by her? Why did she feel the need to shelter them all?::

Walker: Then :: He paused, letting out a breath. This was not what he wanted. And he felt an ache so strong that he could almost cry. They were so close. He could feel the connections building between the two of them. Things were coming together. But this? There would be a wall, a poison. She couldn't, wouldn't, trust him. Not down to the roots. And maybe if the situation were reversed, he'd not be able to trust her fully. To risk her career to help save his life. :: Then maybe it's better we move Cody into the FO position. You trust him at least. :: It came out more bitter than he'd intended, but... it hurt and part of him, not a part he was proud of, wanted her to know that it hurt. ::

Nicholotti: No, that’s not it. I trust YOU. I want you there. ::Shaking her head, her hair flew around her.:: I need you there.

::She was, for all intents and purposes, defeated. This was quickly spiraling and she couldn’t handle more loss, pain, or hurt. It was all too much. It was at that point she looked at him, caught his gaze, and put it all aside. It was time to open up and let him in completely as her right hand, her partner in command. He had a right to be a part of this now, and indeed, may be the only way she would find a way out. David and herself were in too deep, emotionally invested in the being that sat silent, huddled in the chair. Flopping into her own chair, she held his eyes with her own, trying to form the words.::

Nicholotti: ::Her voice got quiet.:: Ben, it’s gotten too big. ::She sighed.:: I need your help.

::He knelt down at her side, putting his hand on her shoulder. He'd deny the tears that were shining in his eyes later, but for now he let her see. Let her know that for this one moment, he had torn every shield he had down in a last ditch effort to save what was between them. A bond that was at times stronger and more personal than any other. ::

Walker: Do you trust me? Can you, will you trust me?

::Seeing the raw emotions that she always tried so hard to mask in his face broke her further. Thankful for the dark, and hoping he wasn’t able to see her own façade falling apart and the mild shaking of her hands, and perhaps the glistening of her own eyes, she nodded.::

Nicholotti: I do trust you. I know I’m late, but I’m coming to you now…

::He shook his head, all trace of humor fled. She watched him, realizing he meant so much more.::

Walker: No. Not just with this. I'm not dancing around it, not willing to put a partial effort. If you want my help, if we are going to work together at all... It's got to be all in. No secrets, no "protecting" each other. We are in this together, absolutely... or we are done.

::Kali knew what he meant. There would be no more protecting him against her own foolish plans. This was the real deal; what David had been trying to tell her, and what Ben himself had told her not long ago. Where she was didn’t mean that she was alone, even if they had to fight her to make her understand. He’d thought enough of her to get in her face, and yes, yell at his commanding officer. But that was what it had taken to make her see. She put her hand over his on her shoulder.::

Nicholotti: No more secrets. From now on, we face it together. I’m sorry.

::It was a huge leap for her. Protecting her crew, serving that crew; these were the things that had built her career and made her who she was. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to rely on anyone, it was that she didn’t want to burden anyone. But how could she justify not letting him in? She couldn’t. And so, the pact was made.::

::He almost fell over with relief, but instead found himself chuckling helplessly ::

::Raising an eyebrow at his reaction, she shook her head slightly.::

Nicholotti: Uh, you alright?

Walker: Sorry.. :: he couldn't get himself under control even so. :: Was just thinking.. "See.. that wasn't that hard at all.." :: He laughed at the absurdity of it all ::

::Perhaps it was the breaking point they had reached, and the stress of everything that had just come down around them. All she could think of was how incredibly lucky she was it was him and not someone who would have given up, or worse, turned their back completely. She actually smiled at him and patted his hand before nodding.::

Nicholotti: Thank you.

:: He looked at her in confusion, head tilted slightly. :: Walker: For what? :: He smirked::: After all, I haven't fixed everything yet...

::The smile turned into a bit of a smirk, though her thankfulness shone in her still glistening eyes.::

Nicholotti: For not giving up. And, maybe for yelling at me when I deserved it.

Walker: :: He dismissed the idea that it was a big deal:: Eh, anyone else would have done the same. And quite likely with less yelling.

::It took some guts, that was for sure. She was able to count, on one hand, the times she’d gone toe to toe with Jaxx, and every time she’d been terrified, but she’d been right. It only made her realize that this man really was just who she needed next to her facing the chaos that often showed up at Starbase 118. And with Cody on their side, the command team would be unstoppable. That was the thought that made her turn towards her duplicate and inevitably, back to the problem. As the smirk faded, she gestured towards her.::

Nicholotti: Ben. ::She paused, still very unsure of quite how to break the next bit of news to him.:: My duplicate.

::Though like introducing one person to another, she found herself completely unable to call the duplicate by her name, and the duplicate seemed to figure that out too, because behind her knees, which were drawn up to her chest with her arms wrapped around them, she finally spoke as the storm around her cleared. The tears that had threatened to show in Ben’s face, and in Kali’s, had actually fallen from her eyes, and the tracts on her cheeks were freshly repaved.::

Matrix Nicholotti: You can call me Anya.

::Raising an eyebrow, she glanced wearily at her First Officer.::

Nicholotti: Anya?

::The question was more than just of the origin of the name, it was Kali wrapping her head further around the idea that this being had come into her own and was more than just a duplication. She really was a twin, or a clone, as David had told her. With each minute that passed, that simple fact became more and more apparent.::

::The woman nodded as best she could from behind her knees.::

Matrix Nicholotti: After gr::She paused, and sighed.:: your grandmother.

::With an almost physical effort he wrenched his mind back onto the new subject. He still felt raw inside, but he had to concentrate. This was something that would cause a great deal of difficulty. Especially if they had gone far enough to share all of Kali's memories to it. Despite the connection he'd just help solidify, he felt curiously disconnected from the holo-being. ::

Walker: So, what happened? This doesn't seem like an issue that can't be dealt with easily enough. oO By shutting the program down for one.. Oo

::And now, to explain.::

Nicholotti: The original plan was to create a perfect duplicate. It wasn’t supposed to be an AI, not unless left to roam for a long period of time. And yet, when the creation was complete, she already was. ::Kali frowned as she remembered those first moments.:: She ceased being a program the moment she was completed.

Walker: Are you certain? I mean the holo-programs that we create most definitely act beyond the initial creation. Further, there have been several pseudo-sentiences documented within a holomatrix. And If it has served it's purpose...

::The other woman jumped in now, unable to remain silent and let Kali finish.::

Matrix Nicholotti: ::Slamming her feet on the grown and coming out from behind her knees.:: You can’t shut me off. You can’t kill me!

::And that was when the door opened and the doctor, still in surgical scrubs and fairly thoroughly painted in blood, walked in the room. Light spilled everywhere once more as they seemed to collectively wait and see what she had to say. Ben was tired, emotionally exhausted really, and the situation had just gotten even more dire depending on the direction the doctor wanted to take the discussion. Even so, it was a surprise even to him as he spoke up. ::

Walker: So...ahhhh.. What's up Doc?


--
Captain Kalianna Nicholotti
Commanding Officer
Starbase 118 / USS Victory


&

Commander Ben Walker
FO
Starbase 118/USS Victory


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