SIM:Nicholotti Revelations and Vindication
((Colt’s Recovery Room, Sickbay, USS Victory))
::Tears were streaming down her face as she gripped his hand tightly. Her knees were threatening to give out from under her as she looked at him, completely at a loss for the reasons why this emotion, this feeling, and this draw was so damn strong. The memories didn’t play out like this, yet the intensity of what she felt now was so incredibly real...::
::Certainly there was an attachment based on the fact that he had saved her, risking his own life for hers, but it ran deeper. Based on her short time ‘alive’, she had reviewed the thoughts and feelings that wove around in her mind. Partially hers, and partially something that was put there, she knew in her core that Kali had been wrong.::
::But that was neither here nor there. The time to address all of that was long gone. Because of the steps she had taken, and the risk in allowing him to think that she was Kali, while acting in the way she did, she was now stuck with only one course of action that could be taken. She had to tell him the truth. There was nowhere to hide anymore; she had to share her demons.::
::The way the tears were falling told him that he wouldn’t like whatever she was about to say. The way she was acting was completely atypical from any behavior he’d ever seen her exhibit, though he supposed after last night’s ordeal anything was possible. Colt tried to prepare himself for whatever bad news she was going to drop on him. He wondered if maybe she didn’t feel the same way or maybe she had found somebody else, but whatever it was, he knew it was going to hurt.::
Daniels: I... Uh, ok. Go ahead...
::He felt her hand trembling in his, as if she was afraid. He didn’t understand what would have her so scared. His mind raced to find the answer, his heart had started beating faster as he came to an unsettling conclusion. He gripped her hand tighter, trying to steady it and spoke again before she could.::
Daniels: Something went wrong, didn’t it...with the operation?
::He steeled himself for whatever she was going to say, preparing for the absolute worst. Last night he had been ready to die, he had made his peace with it, but now after everyone had told him he’d be alright the thought seemed... terrifying.::
::She shook her head and looked at him once more, with the look he now had in his eyes, wondering for a moment what it was like to be Kali and to be loved as she was. Forcing the thoughts from her mind, and closing her eyes in a failed attempt to push the glimmer in his eyes from her mind, she finally gathered up her courage together. Her eyes shot open and she forced the words out as quickly as she could.::
Anya: Colt I’m not Kali!
::It came out in a jumble, leaving her holding her breath and waiting for his response.::
::He heard the words but for a moment had no response to offer. His face openly displayed a mixture of confusion and relief that he hadn’t received the grim news he had begun to expect. Immediately he diverted all his attention to her, his face softening as he spoke.::
Daniels: That’s ok, You don’t have to keep up the façade all the time, you are also a human underneath all of those pips.::He offered a reassuring smile:: We’ll get through it.
::But even as the words left his mouth, her expression told him quite plainly that he was missing something. Something big. Somehow she managed to appear even more distraught::
::A renewed wave of frustration, and struggle, came over her, readily appearing on her face as she shook her head somewhat wildly. He wasn’t understanding and she didn’t know if it was because he didn’t want to, or because the idea of what she was, was really that far out there. More tears came and she imagined she was only hurting him worse at a time when he least needed it. Much akin to twisting the blade, she figured that making him understand now probably wasn’t the best choice.::
::But it was the only choice she had. Now was it; within hours, if Walker had his way, she would be turned off and lost to the nether forever. She had to make him understand and it didn’t have time to wait.::
Anya: No, it’s not like that. I’m not her, I’m just a duplicate. A stand-in meant to protect her. ::She begged now, each word like fire in her chest, hurting her to even say.:: Please understand....
::Colt raised an eyebrow and slowly shook his head, trying to process what she was saying. He wondered if maybe this was another nightmare, but the very real aches and pains all over his body told him otherwise. More confused than ever, he caught the eyes with the woman that he KNEW was Kalianna Nicholotti.::
Daniels: I don’t understand, is this some kind of joke? ::He brought his hands to his face and rubbed his eyes, as if it would bring some clarity to the situation.:: What do you mean, “stand-in”? I think I would be able to tell the difference between you and a look-alike.
::He felt insulted, the idea that she would be able to switch places with a doppelganger without his knowledge was absurd. He had held her, he had kissed her, it WAS Kali.::
::She could see the look in his eyes changing and it hurt her deep inside where she’d never realized pain could run so deep. The vague memories of loss welled up and she tried to understand it, but living it first hand was just so...different. The intensity was enough to drive anyone insane, especially her, and while she knew what she was fighting for here, fighting to say, it all still seemed too jumbled up.::
::In her mind, she tried to find a way to make things sound less horrible than they were. The feelings of guilt for having gotten him into this, for making it all seem like the past was the present, and for giving him the hope that she thought that he needed. Now she saw that she had only given him something that wasn’t true, and with her feelings settling the way they were, it all only broke her heart further.::
Anya: It’s not a joke. ::Somewhat desperately.:: It’s my fault. I never meant this to happen. ::She paused before launching into as short a detailed explanation as possible.:: I’m a holographic matrix clone of her, created by Commander Cody, to stand in her place in case she was attacked. ::Shaking her head.:: They never intended for me to be more than a mirror copy, but...something went wrong.
::Wrong. It was such a strange word for what had happened. If it hadn’t gone wrong, she wouldn’t be there, she wouldn’t have experienced any of what she’d experienced, and she wouldn’t be hurting like she was now. Was it worth it? In her short time in existence, she’d been brought to what she felt to be quite the high point, and now, to a very low point. Was the trade off, the bad with the good, all worth it in the end? ::
Anya: I wasn’t supposed to be me. ::She frowned.:: I was supposed to be unfeeling, and just a mirror. ::A fresh wave of tears fell.:: I wasn’t supposed to be able to feel like this!
::Colt’s brow furrowed, unsure which part of the ridiculous story to attack first. Though the look on her face told him she was dead serious, something that he could only know because he KNEW her. Frustrated, he sat upright in his bed, ignoring the pain that shot through him. He reached out and touched her face feeling the wetness of her tears on his hand.::
Daniels: You are lying. ::He said this firmly, there was no question in his voice.:: No hologram has tears. ::He shook his head, unwilling to believe her. When he spoke again his voice boomed a little louder than he’d meant it to.::This is crazy. You are lying. You...”she” would have told me.
::But even as he refused to accept it, the shadow of the doubt began to rear it’s ugly head and gnaw on the back of his mind. She had been acting so different, like a completely different person in some aspects but the little details, the things that were impossible to fake were right..He knew the difference.::
::But she hadn’t told him. She couldn’t have. And it was that which allowed her to dig the hole she was in now. If he had known that she was not Kali, the sudden shock of things, and their connection, would never have formed. And in the fact that she didn’t understand things herself, how could she make him see? Why did she even bring it up? The sudden draw to be nearer to him was overpowering, but she kept her distance. She couldn’t hurt him anymore...::
Anya: Please. Please rest, calm down. I never meant for this...
::Ignoring her suggestion, he turned and slapped a wall panel, a decision which he immediately regretted as the motion stretched the skin around the recently closed wound site. He collapsed back onto the bed, grunting in pain, as commanded the computer through gritted teeth.::
Daniels: Computer, locate Captain Nicholotti.
Computer: Captain Nicholotti is in the Ready Room.
::The words returned to him what she already knew and had been trying to tell him. They conveyed the truth behind her story; the horrible, horrible truth. She cringed at the look of pain that was clear on his face after he hit the wall, resisting the urge to try to soothe it. It was more than physical pain now anyways, and something far deeper than she could possibly heal with the time she was certain she had left. Kicking herself for dwelling on the idea, as it had led her down this path to begin with, she simply stood there, overly straight, with her arms wrapped tightly around herself, just watching him.::
::It was with those few words that the entire universe seemed to collapse around him. He didn’t know what had been real and what hadn’t. This “clone” had completely fooled him, she looked so real standing before him, when he held her she had felt so real. His mind was ablaze with thoughts as he tried come to grips with the impossible information that had been forced upon him. Thinking back to the the events immediately before the assassination attempt, the brief moment of unexpected and unrestrained passion that had carried him through the darkest hours, it was all a ruse. He had wanted so badly for it to be true, but it wasn’t.. He turned his attention the figure before him.::
::The need to look away, to avoid seeing the pain she was and had caused, was overwhelming, but she wouldn’t allow herself the respite. No, if there was something she had gotten from Kali, it was the need to stand up and take responsibility for the path she had chosen. In this case, she forced herself to watch what she had done, each moment, each frown, and each painful word as it played out in front of her. She forced herself to watch him, and to hear the way he now spoke to her. All traces of what was there before long buried.::
Daniels: What are you?::The pain in his voice was very thinly veiled.:: Why do you feel so real!?
::Frustration and confusion was clear, and though her tears still fell, they fell silently from eyes that were full of sorrow, but were wide open and devoid of the sparkle she’d inherited from Kali. A defeated coolness wove its way through her voice, as though she’d given up on all. And she had, knowing that he understood now, and was calming, her task was complete. Now she would only serve as information so that he might be able to put things together. All she knew was that she hoped she could help bring closure, since she’d long abandoned the idea that she might bring him peace.::
Anya: I am real, or so they say. Or so some of them say. ::She paused a long moment, blinking, and watching him, before continuing.:: I’m some kind of clone of the Captain. A twin, perhaps. bio-holographic in nature...somehow.
oO At least that’s what they said... Oo
Anya: I was her until the moment I was.....me. Until I woke up.
::Colt just stared at the woman, if that’s what she was, in front him and saw the pain on her face as she tried to explain herself. He had never seen an EMH that was capable of this kind of emotion, he’d certainly never been compelled to feel compassion for one, but this was different. She seemed so scared, so helpless and for whatever reason he suddenly had no desire to cause her anymore pain.::
Daniels: Hey, it’s ok... don’t cry. ::His voice now much softer and more calm. The frigidness from earlier had all but vanished.:: It’s just that this is a lot to take in. I’m still just struggling to catch up. ::He sat up again slowly, taking care not to hurt himself again.:: You said “you were her”. What does that mean exactly?
::Despite the confusion and the heartache he felt, he was doing his best to try and spare her feelings. If she was a sentient being, a person even, that had brought into this unexpectedly, then it wasn’t fair for him to take his frustrations out on her.::
::Her voice got more and more solemn and distant. Doing her best to disconnect from him, from the world around her, and from everything, she let the empty darkness in her stomach grow and overtake everything. Instead of fighting anymore, she simply let the numbness take over, and take over it did. Soon the feeling was all consuming and so powerful that she was able to look away from him, to the ground, and to the nothingness that existed between here and there. A strange shudder moved through her as the last remnants of the fight left her now that he knew, understood, and had calmed considerably.::
Anya: I have all of her memories. All of her feelings play in my head like holo vids, dancing on the edge of my consciousness, never fully realized. I...::She paused and tried to formulate the words.:: I wanted to know what it was like before they shut me off. Sent me away.
::She shrugged now and let another wave of tears fall from cold, almost unemotional eyes. Only sorrow remained there now, and even that was fading into the cold disconnection from reality. The emotions she’d been trying desperately to understand and to fathom, this ‘love’ thing, and the need to care, the need to protect those around her as Kali had, and all of the other abstract emotions and notions she consciously pushed into the darkness that ate at her. She pushed them away until this was all that remained.::
Anya: For a moment, I understood. I felt what she felt. ::Turning back to him, she caught his eyes with her own.:: I have you to thank for that brief moment, but it wasn’t worth hurting you like this. I’m sorry.
::He now understood the what, but he still didn’t grasp the how. Kali had obviously been concerned for her own safety, perhaps she didn’t have faith in his ability to protect her. He supposed he couldn’t blame her for that, he’d left her all alone before when she had needed him. She also apparently hadn’t trusted him, at least not enough to let her in on the plan. All of these facts weighed heavily on his mind has tried to adapt to the way things were now rather than how they had been only moments ago.::
Daniels: So in the office... this whole time... you’ve been here for me because you inherited her feelings for me? ::He placed his face in his hands:: I’m sorry, I know this isn’t your fault, but I just really needed it to be real...
::Her gaze snapped back to him as he said it, and slowly she shook her head.::
Anya: ::quietly.:: It is real.
::Explaining that would take some doing though, since she didn’t even understand the pull that his very existence seemed to have on her. All she knew was that there wasn’t anywhere she’d rather be, especially when he needed that image that had brought him through the dark, than right there next to him. She’d gotten so angry at Kali for not being there, and for not trying, and yet in doing what she did, she’d only made things worse.::
Anya: I inherited the past. What happened between the moment I woke up and now...::she paused and thought about it for a moment, coming to a final conclusion.:: that was me. My thoughts. My feelings...
::And while she didn’t quite grasp them all, they were there nonetheless.::
::As he listened to her talk he accepted that the circumstances seemed to be determined to become hopelessly complicated. Whoever she was, she had been the one to guide him through the darkness, and she had been the one to be there when he emerged, for that he would be forever grateful. She was so confused and hurt, much in the same way that he was. The urge to hold her and console her was very strong but she was a stranger, he didn’t even know her name anymore. It was the strangest feeling, to know someone as thoroughly as he knew the person who had been the foundation for her being, but not even know her name.::
::He just nodded, watching as she struggled to regain her composure::
Daniels: Well, thank you. You don’t know how much you helped me just by being there. ::He thought for a moment coming to a sudden realization.:: It was the visit to Cmdr. Cody’s quarters wasn’t it? I had noticed her acting different then. I thought it was just stress...I guess I had noticed you...
::Nodding in response, she would hide no more from him. Hiding, deceit; it had all led to hurt, and she couldn’t hurt him anymore. She wouldn’t. It was a promise she made herself, and in silence, to him as well.::
Anya: That was where I woke up. And I left, while she stayed behind.
::The final few pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place as she revealed more of the truth. Colt wasn’t stupid, Cody had been so protective of her from the very beginning when he almost blasted the diplomat when first arrived. It made sense that he would have gone to the extreme to ensure her safety. It had been what Colt himself had been trying to do. A dark and unhappy thought stabbed at the back of his mind, while Kali had stayed behind in safety, she had knowingly sent him off to protect what they had thought to be a hologram. He forced the idea out of his mind for the moment, it was something he’d deal with later. There would be plenty of time to dwell on it.::
::He felt very alone, Kali had been the closest thing he’d had to a friend and now it seemed that she didn’t even trust him. Now the “Bio-Holo-Matrix Clone” of Kalianna Nicholotti stood before him, she had been there for him and at the moment seemed to be the only person he had to turn to. He decided to start from the very beginning.::
Daniels: Since you never got the chance for a proper introduction... ::He extended his hand to be shaken, it was purely symbolic, she knew him just as well as Kali had, but he wanted her to know that he acknowledged her as her own being.:: Lieutenant Junior Grade Colt Daniels, at your service. What should I call you?
::Her eyes got slightly wide as she looked from him to the hand he held out. Searching her memories and trying to figure why he wasn’t mad, or cold, or something other than...this, and coming up with nothing, she couldn’t help but take his hand. The familiar warmth was there, and she realized that it had been something she’d never expected to have felt again, even at this kind of a distance. After a moment, taking it all in, she looked back up at him.::
Anya: I call myself Anya. I don’t know that anyone else calls me anything in particular, other than ‘double’, or ‘clone’.
::Which brought her back to the realization that time was running out. Where was Walker? Would he return to have her shut down soon? It was already morning...and the face of cold fear stole the warmth she’d just found in her connection with him.::
::He smiled, as he shook hands with the person he had been sure that he loved only minutes ago, who was now a brand new acquaintance. He wasn’t trying to pretend that he didn’t still feel drawn to her, but at this point he had trouble deciphering which feelings he felt for Kali and which he felt for Anya. It was a matter that would require a lot of thought and reflection that he didn’t have time for at the moment. For now, he supposed, he would just try to get to know her.::
Daniels: Nice to meet you Anya. ::He gave her his best attempt at a warm smile, bringing the symbolic introduction to a close.:: So about you, you have emotions, I’ve seen fear in your eyes...you can cry... What happens now?
::She let her mind wander for a moment as she looked in his eyes, wondering if there would have been any possibilities, given time. But it was a train of thought that promised only heartache, so she quickly tried to shut it down. Before she could think she let a single thought escape.::
Anya: I just wish I had more time....
::He shivered slightly at her words, it was something he hadn’t considered. He had assumed with sentience came the right to live, that was federation law. That was the Prime Directive. He shook his head slowly and spoke.::
Daniels: What do you mean? Do you have a shorter than normal lifespan? ::He was surprised by the concerned tone of his voice.:: I don’t understand.
::With a sigh, she glanced towards the door, half expecting them to walk in at any moment and take her away. At least she’d done what she set out to do though...there was always that. Shaking her head she turned back to him and shrugged, trying to seem as if she didn’t care, but her eyes told a different story.::
Anya: There are some who don’t exactly think I am what I am. ::She paused.:: And when a program’s run its course and has served its purpose....
::Her voice trailed off. The connotation of the statement had been made. There were some who didn’t believe she was what she was, but she had come to terms with the fact that her life had been made to be short. It was ultimately alright though. In her short time she had the chance to experience some of the best, and worst, experiences of humanity.::
::Her defeated words assaulted his psyche, she wasn't just a program. That much was painfully obvious, he wasn’t a scientist but he had seen programs with AI sub-routines. The kind of behavior she exhibited almost certainly demonstrated full sentience. Colt rubbed the back of his head with his hand, trying to gather his thoughts. It was a matter of course that he wouldn’t stand for that. He could see the fear in her eyes, she was afraid to have her light extinguished, THAT was the very definition of life.::
Daniels: No. :;For a protracted moment he let the lone word hang in the air.:: If you don’t want that to happen, I won’t let it happen.
::He reached out and grabbed her arm, letting his thumb rest over the veins in her wrist, feeling her pulse.:: You are not “just a program”.
::His hand, reaching out for her arm, startled her, but she didn’t try to pull away. Instead, she tried to wrap her mind around what he was saying, and the stance he was taking. It was far from the hatred she’d been expecting and dreading. But at the same time, like Kali had not told him to protect him and his career, she had serious misgivings about following this path.::
Anya: What they decide, we have to abide by...::She narrowed her eyes slightly.:: You can’t risk anything more for me.
::His life had been enough. She only wanted him to recover and return to his life, his career, and to risk nothing else for the clone that would most likely be gone in the next few hours.::
::He had half expected her to say something like that, it was something that Kali would have said. The words did nothing to deter him, if he defied the command staff on this it could end his Starfleet career, but on the other hand if he stood idly by and allowed them to end the life of an innocent being... it would place Starfleet at odds with his own morality and he would end his own career. He had already made up his mind on the matter, when he locked eyes with Anya.::
Daniels: What they decide? There is no decision to be made. You are alive. You don’t want to die. I did not join Starfleet to be an accessory to murder.
::And all at once, her head swam again. What was it that made it all so hard to comprehend? Why should he care? Why would he care? After the trouble, the pain, and the confusion she’d put him through, he was willing to stand up to not just Walker, but everyone to save her? It made little sense to her until she looked at herself. She had fought just to be there, going as far as to fight, and hit, her so-called twin over feelings she didn't understand.::
::Or perhaps, in her naivety she understood it better than she thought.::
::For the first time since he reached out for her, she twisted her arm around until her hand found his, and she held on. Finally, she looked back up, realizing that the dark feeling in the pit of her very being was quickly fading, and that hope, perhaps, had returned in the slightest little bit. For the first time since she started down the path of information sharing, she allowed herself to step closer. At the edge of the bed, she gripped his hand and found his eyes with hers.::
Anya: I don’t want to go. ::She carefully considered whether or not to say what was drifting around in her head, ultimately deciding to just let it flow.:: I want to stay here with you.
::Colt was aware of the risk involved in what he had just committed to, but it just didn't matter. Her words had served only to fortify his resolve. As she at the edge of his bed with her hand in his, not far off from where she had been just a short while ago, he saw all of the justification he needed in her eyes. Finally they didn't carry the fear they had seemed to hold throughout their conversation.::
::He again felt the urge to take her in his arms and reassure her, but again, felt confused about the origin of the feelings. It was something he’d have to figure out. In the meantime he would keep his word, he’d go toe-to-toe with anyone who wished to extinguish the fire that now burned so plainly in her eyes as they embarked together towards an unknown future.::
Daniels: Everything is going to be alright. ::He squeezed her hand just a little bit tighter.:: I promise.
Bioholomatrix Clone of the Captain
Starbase 118 / USS Victory
As simmed by Captain Kalianna Nicholotti
Lt.JG Colt Daniels
Return to Kalianna Nicholotti