SIM:LtJG Ayelet Kadosh: Burnout
Author's Note: As I've mentioned before in the author's note for "Today, be a doctor.", SB118 feels more like improv to me. You really have to be open to the cues and ideas others provide you, and that includes not just the explicit tags for dialogue responses but also the hidden or silent tags of various actions that have been simmed. Even though this SIM is technically a solo SIM with no other characters, much of the framework was set up by other writers: the computer announcements of the impending warp core breach, the security lockdown of the ship, and so forth.
I'm glad how the sim turned out, including the aftermath and eventual character resolution for Ayelet. I wasn't sure exactly how far I wanted to go with her breakdown when I first started writing this because I like to think of her as a strong character, but I think after all she went through, it made sense. Furthermore, I think her overall character arc explores a different way we can respond to adversity, and the choice she ultimately makes for her life after this episode is perhaps even braver than just "getting back on the horse" as we often see our heroes do.
The events in this SIM occurred on stardate 238808.25.
((Corridor, USS Independence-A))
::Ayelet Kadosh had heard the red alert and general quarters announcement in her quarters. She had already finished her shift for the day, but she'd be expected back in sickbay to handle possible mass-casualty triage in whatever emergency the ship had found itself.
Yet, her time on the starship had proven anything but serene. Ayelet still hadn't gotten to know most of the crew as well as she had known those on the deep space station, and though she enjoyed the company of the few friends she had made--Nishal, Zeet, Rick, and Gypsy--she wasn't so sure she'd choose to stay aboard once her tour of duty was finished.
Life on a starship was just a bit too chaotic for her, if the past few months were any indication. Captured by FTU pirates. Overrun by angry Romulans. Though DS17 had experienced several months of terror from Grendellai and Ixvapyan bombings while she had been stationed there, daily life on the larger facility hadn't seemed nearly as fragile as that aboard a Prometheus-class vessel.::
Kadosh: oO Perhaps I *am* getting old. Oo
::The recently turned 35-year-old woman rolled her eyes at the thought with a smirk to herself. She shouldn't romanticize the past. Her experience with the Vaadwaur had changed everything. Nowhere was safe. A life in Starfleet was a life of risk. And she had chosen that life.
As if to punctuate that fact, the computer suddenly gave a new ship-wide announcement.::
Computer: =/\= Warning! Anti-matter overload! Three minutes thirty two seconds to anti-matter containment breach! Warning! =/\=
::Ayelet stopped and looked around the corridor. A few other crewmembers scurried to their posts. No one else seemed too concerned about the imminent breach. Shouldn't there be an announcement to prepare for an evacuation?::
Kadosh: oO Calm yourself. There are a whole deck of engineers working on whatever problem came up *this* time. Bright, young, eager engineers like Rick. Oo
::The thought comforted her a bit, and the nurse resumed her journey to sickbay. She got into a turbolift, ordering it to drop her near sickbay. The computer's calm voice echoed in the turbolift as it continued counting down to the ship's destruction.::
Computer: Two minutes to warp core breach.
::Two minutes... That was barely enough time for someone to get to an escape pod. Ayelet's sense of dread started returning to her. She hated it. She prided herself on her professionalism and her composure. During the occupation, she had been the one the other insurgents of the Federation resistance had jokingly called their shining light in those darkest of hours.
Yet she wasn't the "Doc" anymore, huddled together with her fellow insurgents. Now, she was alone, caged in a cramped turbolift that steadily seemed to be shrinking.
Ayelet noticed that she was starting to breathe more heavily as she came upon this realization. She had to get out of here. Fortunately, the turbolift had arrived. The entrance to sickbay would just be across the corridor once the turbolift doors opened. The nurse calmed down as her breathing relaxed. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and opened them again ready to face the tasks ahead. She stepped up to the doors.
They didn't open.::
Computer: One minute to warp core breach.
::The heavy breathing returned instantly.::
Kadosh: Computer, open the turbolift doors.
Computer: Unable to comply. Door controls have been manually overridden.
::Manually overridden? Anxiety started to take hold of the nurse as she thought of solutions.::
Kadosh: ::panting:: All right... then take me to... deck 6!
Computer: Unable to comply. Shipwide lockdown is in effect. Turbolift service has been suspended. Please exit at this stop.
::Ayelet curled her hands into fists as she brought them up to her forehead.::
Kadosh: All right... okay... initiate an emergency site to site transport! Beam me to an escape pod!
::Again, the computer replied in its usual neutral tone.::
Computer: Unable to comply. Transporter service is unavailable in your area due to unknown interference. Please move to a different location and retry command.
::After a brief pause, the computer spoke once more.::
Computer: Thirty seconds to warp core breach.
::Ayelet's hands began trembling. She attempted to shake off the feeling and pry the doors open with her fingers, both to no avail. She looked up towards the emergency exit of the turbolift. It seemed so far away.::
Computer: Twenty seconds to warp core breach.
::Ayelet screamed in frustration and punched the control panel with her fist painfully.::
Kadosh: *SHUT UP!*
::She brought her shaking hands to her face, blocking out the sight of the turbolift walls. If she closed her eyes, she could imagine herself somewhere else. Anywhere else.
She leaned against the back wall of the turbolift. Her heavy breathing, nay, all her breathing had ceased entirely. Thoughts of home, family, and friends, current and lost, filled her mind for what seemed like the longest time, only to be interrupted again by the computer's voice.::
Computer: Matter/anti-matter ratio returning to normal. Coolant systems engaged.
::Perhaps it was that neutral tone of the computer's voice that finally did it. A voice that seemed as bored telling you that you were about to die as it was when it told you what lunch menu options were available through the replicator.
Perhaps it was the fact that she had come so close to a horrible death yet again. Perhaps it was because no one was around to see her, to judge her, and to be disappointed and ashamed of her.
Whatever the reason, Ayelet didn't care. She didn't care about professionalism, composure, or any of that anymore. No one was around to judge her or be ashamed of her but herself when the shining light of DS17 finally broke down, collapsing to the floor of the turbolift as tears flowed into her palms that still covered her brown eyes.::
Lieutenant JG Ayelet Kadosh