SIM:Nicholotti Kali's Return

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((Erscyne Station, Eridani Erscyne System, Afehirr Sector))

::It had been some time since an outsider had stepped foot on Erscyne Station. Back then, her people had been in a world of trouble. Now that was not the case, yet they still invited this one in. In return for saving them, the least they could offer the one who had returned was a way to get home.::

::Isdae had no idea what home was for the raven haired command officer who had spontaneously appeared in the shadow of her own scar not long ago, nor did she know if the woman really was as different as she seemed to be now, but she felt it was her duty to make sure she was helped in any way the Erscyne Trade Alliance could help.::

::And so, with a quick glance out the window, as if to verify that the scar had returned to a calm state, Isdae stepped through her office’s exit and shot a look to the woman nearby.::

Zaypakellista: They are here for you. It is time to go.

::In return, she only got a nod from the figure who seemed to cast herself in the shadows. With a cloak-like covering and a hood that hid the brilliance of her new, crystalline blue eyes, the woman looked like the captain Isdae had met, but something felt off.::

((Docking Bay, Erscyne Station))

::Standing tall, with her slender arms draped to her sides like the flowing robe that she wore, Isdae watched as the small craft docked and was cleared for station entrance. Watching as the officer in the familiar uniform disembarked, she held her nod until she was certain he could see it.::

Zaypakellista: Greetings, Commander.

::How Lieutenant Commander Colt Daniels had found himself here, standing on the deck of Erscyne station was a long and complicated story. When the reports had come through, he’d immediately volunteered for the mission to retrieve the precious cargo, his reasons were his own. Now, as he stood opposite of the slender form of this Prime Captain Zaypakellista who matched every bit of his nearly two-meter height, he waited with cautious optimism to see if she had truly found what he was looking for.::

Daniels: Prime Captain, ::He bowed his head respectfully.:: I am Lieutenant Commander Colt Daniels with Starfleet Intelligence. On behalf of Starfleet, I’d like to extend our gratitude to you for all that you’ve done here.

::Moving just a step sideways, Isdae revealed the woman who had come with her. The woman, however, gave no indication of knowing the man in the uniform.::

::Colt’s neutral expression grew into a smile at as the Erscyne Officer stepped aside to reveal Fleet Captain Kalianna Nicholotti. A million thoughts ran through his head at once, and it took all of the restraint and professionalism he had not to wrap his old friend in a bear-like hug. Instead, he remained in place, standing rigid as a board with his hands behind his back like this was just any other day. In this business, one had to learn to keep up appearances.::

Nicholotti: Commander.

::Almost as Isdae had, the woman nodded in greetings before turning towards her.::

Nicholotti: Prime Captain, I thank you for your hospitality. I hope that one day I will come to know the details of your tales, but for now I will thank you anyways.

::Isdae allowed herself a bit of a smile as she nodded towards the woman in return.::

Zaypakellista: Of course, Fleet Captain. If you should remember, also remember that you are always welcome here.

::Colt watched as the woman that he and the rest of Starfleet had presumed to be dead for the last 6 months exchanged pleasantries with the their host. If she was happy to see him she wasn’t making it obvious. She for the most part seemed exactly how he’d remembered her, except for the eyes. The grey eyes that he’d seen in his dreams, the ones that he pictured when he tried to remember her face were gone and impossibly blue ones had taken their place.::

Daniels: We can leave as soon as you are ready, Fleet Captain. ::He searched her face for any hints at what she was thinking and found none.:: We’re going to be rendezvousing with the Apollo by way of Starbase 118.

::The raven haired woman nodded slightly before moving towards the small craft. In doing so, she walked right past the officer who seemed to look somewhat confused. Isdae knew he would find that this was not the same woman who had flown into the anomaly outside, but that was not her place to divulge. With one last glance, she moved from the docking bay and signaled the command center that they be cleared to leave.::

((Runabout, Leaving Erscyne Station))

::Kali found her way to the pilot’s seat and began the powering sequence that would take them away from the station. It was only when she felt the presence of the tall officer right behind her that she stopped. Slowly, she turned her chair to face him. Taking a long look at him for the first time, she suddenly felt as if something were missing. Her eyes narrowed slightly.::

::But the feeling didn’t last and soon it was gone.::

::Colt had dismissed Kali’s actions in the Docking bay as her trying to represent Starfleet in the most professional manner possible, but now in the privacy of the Runabout, nothing had changed. She had simply boarded without him as he made the final preparations without so much as a word. As he came to a stop behind her position in the pilot’s seat, he tried to find the words to express all of the things he wanted to say, but she spoke first.::

Nicholotti: Is there a problem?

::Colt Daniels and Kalianna Nicholotti shared a considerable history, a brief but intense romance followed by years of friendship and mutual respect had all coalesced in his being here to bring her back from what was supposed to have been the grave, and these words were the first thing of substance she had chosen to say to him. His mouth fell open slightly despite his best efforts.::

Daniels: I...uh...No. ::He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong here.:: It’s just I never thought I’d see you again, Kali.

::He took a step forward and placed a hand on her shoulder.::

::The sensation of his hand on her shoulder felt far more familiar than she thought it should have. Now the idea that she was missing something tugged at the corner of her mind a little bit harder, but she was unable to make the connection. The fact that he had called her by her nickname meant that he knew her, somehow, but she couldn’t place him.::

::While she could tell from the pips his rank, and from the uniform that he was starfleet, she found herself unable to place him in her past at all. But there were indications that this was just wrong.::

Nicholotti: Well, I’m not that easy to kill I guess.

::She smiled a bit awkwardly and returned her attention to the console in front of her. Something about this whole thing made her somewhat uncomfortable, though she wasn’t about to let on she was feeling that way.::

::Colt felt a very subtle smile trying to form on his face at the undeniable truth in her words, but it was tempered by the uncomfortable feeling he was getting from her. All the sadness he had felt at her passing, all the regret when he’d thought she was dead had left him wishing for just one more chance, one last conversation with the woman who had been such an integral part of making him who he was today. The chance was here and it just felt...off.::

Daniels: No one will argue that claim. That makes three times you’ve died. ::He climbed into the seat next to her to assist in the pre-flight routine:: And those are just the times I know about.

::He shot her a sideways glance, hoping that he’d see a smile, a laugh, some hint that things might be alright. Colt didn’t see any of that as she worked the console effortlessly with no hints of emotion playing on her face. He could only guess at the traumatic events she’d experienced and he supposed she would just need time.::

::Running through the last of the checklist for launch - something she did remember quite well - Kali awaited clearance before guiding the ship out and away from the alien station. She almost didn’t remember it either, save for the scans she somehow recalled. The names of those on board, and any history she’d had with them however, well, the Prime Captain had told her the tale of the Excalibur and her crew. Kali just didn’t remember much.::

::A voice echoed in her thoughts about things forgotten and changed. She wasn’t the Kali who had fallen into the bright scar that lit up space in front of them. No, that Kali had died, effectively, and her consciousness had been put into a reconstructed body. At least that’s how she was made to understand it.::

::But the more she focused on her time away, the more it faded. Perhaps that was on purpose, as an attempt by the beings on the other side to limit what she brought back to her more primitive universe.::

::Colt had settled into the navigator’s seat without argument and had set course for Starbase 118. It wasn’t long before they had left the station behind and were streaking towards their destination. Several minutes passed in silence as he tried to come up with something to say, but in some way that he couldn’t explain, something between them had changed.::

Nicholotti: ::Turning slowly to the other officer.:: I get the feeling that maybe you were expecting something a bit different here.

::He was lost in his own thoughts, so when she finally broke the silence, it caught him a little off guard. He swiveled in his chair to face her fully, catching sight of the eyes that seemed so foreign on the very familiar face.::

Daniels: No, it’s fine. You’ve been through a lot. ::He softened his tone a little.:: I’m right here if you want to talk about it. We’ve got a long trip ahead of us and after all the times you’ve been there for me, listening is the least I can do.

::Nodding slowly, Kali tried to place it all, but there were huge blank spaces in her memories. She could spout off the technical specs or medical procedures like a textbook without trouble, but when it came to people and the connections she had with them, well, that was beginning to seem like the thing she lost.::

::And of course she didn’t know quite how to deal with that realization.::

Nicholotti: ::Shaking her head.:: I’m sorry Commander, I don’t remember you.

::He started to smile at what had to be a joke but her serious expression cut it short. Colt leaned back in his chair with a dumbfounded expression playing clearly across his face. His eyes never leaving hers, desperately searching for something, anything that would explain what was happening.::

::Kali made it a point to make eye contact and not break it. She got the impression that this was sensitive ground and she didn’t want to give off the wrong expression. What was it she was missing? The blank spaces in her mind were just that, blank. There was just nothing there, and no indication that anything she could do would change that.::

Daniels: What do you mean you don’t remember me? ::Her expression remained unchanged as the unfiltered thoughts began to pour out of him.:: Colt Daniels? You’ve known me since I was a fresh green Ensign… I was with you when you were given your first command. Of course you remember me.

::He stared at her expectantly for a few moments, willing some sort of epiphany to occur in the woman opposite him in the small craft.::

::She knew he was expecting something, but there simply was nothing there. Intuition told her that she must have been close to this person before she had been lost, and that realization deeply concerned her. Searching deeper, she looked for more and then came to realize that she didn’t remember anyone. Sure, there were some names in her head, mostly associated with historical figures she’d learned about in school, but she couldn’t remember her family, friends, or anyone else.::

::What did that mean?::

Nicholotti: Commander… I don’t know what to say. ::Slowly she shook her head.:: I just don’t remember you.

::He was overcome by the terrible sinking feeling of loss all over again. Here she was, his friend, his mentor, the only person he’d ever truly loved, right in front of him but hopelessly distant. He’d dropped everything and pulled every string he could to be the person to pick her up from Erscyne Station, jumping at the chance to make up for all the times he hadn’t been there for her. He had been so happy to see her, but now he didn’t know what to think.::

Daniels: I don’t understand…

::He sighed and shook his head in disbelief.::

Daniels: So you remember this...::He gestured at the flight controls, a hint of frustration in his words.:: You obviously remember Starfleet ::He tugged at the collar that displayed his rank::....but you don’t remember me, specifically?

::Kali looked at the console and immediately connected knowledge with everything there. It all made perfect sense to her, but he did not. Aside from the vague shadow of something missing, she’d not even recognized him. But she’d not recognized the Prime Captain on the station either.::

Nicholotti: I’m afraid I don’t recall anyone, actually. ::She frowned slightly.:: This though, it’s all as if it’s playing from a recording. It all makes sense and connects just fine, even if it feels as if I’m seeing it for the first time.

::With crystalline blue eyes, she turned back to the man sitting next to her and shrugged somewhat apologetically. What could she do? This worried her greatly, but the problem dictated a course of events. First she needed to get home, to Starbase 118. Then, perhaps the medical department could assist her.::

::Finally he realized what she was trying to say. No one had any explanation yet as to how she had come back, it was something that he was certain would be studied for a long time to come, but whatever happened, had changed her. Colt Daniels did not pretend to understand the complexity of the psychological trauma she had experienced. All of the frustration that had been building inside him left his voice, replaced by just a touch of sadness.:

Daniels: I see. ::He did his best to sound sincere.:: After all that happened to you, I guess there were bound to be some complications. I’m sure it will all come back in time. It has to.

::He just nodded reassuringly, and tried to force a smile that he didn’t really feel. Colt had been so focused on himself that he hadn’t considered how terrible this must be for her, to realize that she couldn’t remember anyone from her past. A lifetime of connections and carefully cultivated friendships just...gone.:::

::It was strange, how things seemed to be working out. Somewhere in the background she could almost remember the other side. Though the memories about her time before she opened her eyes to see the stars were fading fast, the memory of existing in ways she didn’t quite understand flitted around encased by a reasoning that she had given all to save lives had settled in a mental place she could access.::

::And with that as her sole solid recollection of the past six months pushed her forwards.::

Nicholotti: Commander…::She paused a moment and her expression softened.:: Colt. ::Smiling.:: I don’t quite remember what happened, but I feel that I would do it again to save what was saved. Let’s get back to 118 and see if we can work on putting all this together again.

::She continued to smile as she tapped the side of her head. It may not have been something she had complete faith in Starfleet Medical’s ability to do, but she was still the same old Kali after all. The pain on this man’s face struck a chord within her and she wanted to ease that if she could.::

Daniels: What you did saved the lives of your ship and that station at least, possibly this entire sector. ::He thought of something that she might remember.:: Do you remember what that old plaque on the wall in your office on Starbase 118 said?

::He watched her, hoping that she did. It wasn’t much but in some small way, he thought it might help.::

::She thought for a long moment before the image popped in her head. Even then, it was as if she recalled it from a picture, or a history book, or something of the sort. Saying it out loud, however, seemed to bring some kind of simple peace to the man near her, and that made it worth it, even if it didn’t quite come from the place he had expected.::

::Or maybe it did.::

Nicholotti: The important thing is this, to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.

::She read it off word for word as if she were reading it from the picture she held in her head.::

::He smiled as he recalled his time on the Starbase. Things had been so very different then.::

Daniels: Right. That was supposed to be an inspirational quote, not an instruction manual.

::He shot her a smile now, even with holes in important parts of her memory, she was still the same person that he’d grown so close to. The framework, the personality that made her Kalianna was still there, and in the end, he supposed that would have to be enough. For him, for Jaxx and all the other people who would be eagerly waiting for her when they got to the base. ::

::Raising an eyebrow she watched him. The joking aspect of it finally hit her though and she smiled in return.::

Nicholotti: I suppose I just took it a bit literally then. ::She paused a moment and looked away.:: I just wonder what it was I sacrificed.

::It seemed like it was a lot. She could remember so much, like where she was born and where she went to school, but she couldn’t remember the names of her closest friends. What did that say for the future? Would the lack of those connections hurt her? Without them would they even let her return to Starfleet? And who was ‘they’ anyways?::

Daniels: Well, we were old friends before. ::He extended his hand for her to shake in a symbolic gesture that felt more than a little ridiculous to him.:: We can be new friends now. LtCmdr Colt Ryan Daniels, it’s nice to meet you. Again.

::With a kind of hesitation, Kali looked at the offered hand before breaking out in a smile. Hopefully all of those who were once a part of her life would be this forgiving. It had to hurt to lose someone close to you, though she didn’t quite understand that hurt just now. Regardless, taking the hand, she felt as if the future wasn’t quite as cold as it could have been.::

Nicholotti: Kalianna Arashi Nicholotti, though I think you already knew that.

::There was another kind of long pause as Kali tapped some keys on the console. It wouldn’t be long before they arrived at 118. Before they did, though, she wanted to make sure the man next to her knew that she appreciated his patience. It was the very first memory of friendship that she’d tucked away in her mind. That made it quite groundbreaking.::

Nicholotti: Thank you.

::The look she gave him said the rest. She was different, but the same. Hopefully he could read that in her crystalline eyes.::

TBC

JP by: Fleet Captain Kalianna Nicholotti USS Apollo A

and

LtCmdr. Colt Daniels Intelligence Officer Special Activities Division

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