SIM:Whale: Sleepless Nights, Part I
Sleepless Nights: Part I
((USS TIGER - WHALE'S QUARTERS))
GLENNIE: Lieutenant Whale, status report.
:: Whale turned his attention from his bridge station to the man in the command chair. The Ackerman's captain had aged well, despite -- or perhaps due to -- being in command of the ship for sixteen years. Captain Duncan Glennie would be turning fifty-six in a few short months and had thus far been able to fend off Starfleet's repeated attempts to promote him to Admiral. :: For his part, David Whale was a relatively young twenty-eight year old Lieutenant (wait, was that right?) steadily working his way up through the redshirt ranks (red? Wasn't it gold now...?). The captain had even hinted that he may be on the short-list for a promotion to Lieutenant Commander at the end of their current tour.::
WHALE: All stations report normal, Captain.
:: The captain gave him a satisfied smile.::
GLENNIE: Very good, Mister Whale. Please wait for me in the transporter room.
:: Whale nodded and stood and headed for the turbolift, pausing briefly to accept and return a warm smile from Gianna Dacosta at the bridge science station, recently promoted to Lieutenant Commander herself (that's not right -- Gianna didn't serve aboard the Ackerman...). He stepped into the lift and the doors closed and suddenly the world went dark. The power had seemingly left the entire vessel and even backup power had failed- :: And just as suddenly, the red-tinged emergency lights flared to life, painting the inside of the immobile turbolift in the same shades as Whale's uniform tunic. The lift doors slowly opened and Whale found himself looking out onto the bridge once again, albeit bathed in red.
WHALE: Captain, we seem-
:: He stopped, his brow furrowing in confusion as he stared at the main viewscreen. There was another ship in orbit with the Ackerman and it was the USS Tiger (but the Tiger doesn't exist...). Whale looked frantically around the bridge, trying to find some anchor for his reeling mind, but found none. What he found sent him into an even deeper spiral and he had to grip the bridge rail, knuckles white, to prevent himself from collapsing. :: The bridge was not how he'd left it moments ago. A thick layer of dust coated every surface and screens blinked randomly from every bridge station , out from behind the slumped forms of the Ackerman's crew. Every crew member was exactly where they had been when Whale stepped into the turbolift, but they were... they weren't even people anymore. They were THINGS. Unsteadily, Whale approached the captain's chair and gingerly placed a hand on Glennie's shoulder. The fabric of the man's tunic crumbled under the lightest touch and Whale recoiled violently from the papery, dried out thing that had once been his commanding officer. As he stumbled, he looked at the Glennie-Thing's face for the first time and saw the grimacing lips pulled back tightly, exposing the yellowish-brown teeth in a permanent death grin. And he saw the black, black pits that once held eyes that would sparkle with excitement when the ship would encounter something unknown. Somewhere in the one part of his mind that had bypassed the shock and revulsion that paralyzed him, Whale knew something wasn't right. He hadn't seen this. He'd still been locked in the transporter systems. :: But then that part of his mind was drowned out by other thoughts.::
WHALE: Gianna... Oh god...
:: He stumbled away from what was Glennie and what now resembled a morbid paper wasp nest and half ran, half fell to the science station. :: Gianna had always been so beautiful. Whale felt bile rising in his throat as he looked down on the empty eye sockets and the death grin and the faded, crumbling blue uniform dress that covered the desiccated corpse slumped back in its chair.::
:: Whale sat up in bed, throwing off the tangled mass of his sheets and wiping the sweat from his brow on the back of his right hand. A glance at the clock told him that he’d only been asleep for three hours, but as he rubbed his eyes he knew he wouldn’t be getting any more rest tonight. :: Pushing himself out of bed, Whale crossed to the bathroom. He splashed several handfuls of cool water on his face, trying to wash away the images from the dream. :: The dreams had started not long after he’d finally been told what had happened to the rest of the Ackerman’s crew. They’d been a near nightly occurrence back then, frequently culminating in him coming face to face with his own corpse. This was the first time Gianna had made an appearance and it was the first time in months he’d had a dream about his past at all, let alone one in which he discovered the bodies of his friends and comrades. It had to be that he was back aboard a starship. He couldn’t think of any other reason for it. Regardless, it was sure sign that he couldn’t put off his first meeting with the counsellor any longer. ::
:: Being required by Starfleet to attend counselling sessions was one thing. Admitting he actually needed them was another matter entirely. :: He glanced at the clock again. Counsellor Eete would undoubtedly be asleep now. Now point in having two officers deprived of a good nights’ rest – he’d check in with her in a few hours. Until then… ::
((DEEP SPACE 17 - THE BLACK JENDORVAK))
:: Tired, irritable and unshaven, Whale was able to blend in perfectly with the dark tavern’s decidedly fringe clientele. Out of uniform, he’d made it past a set of burly bouncers – one of whom bearing a striking resemblance to a shaved mugato, despite (apparently) being human – with only the most cursory of evil glares aimed in his direction. He sidled up to the bar and dropped heavily onto a stool, waving over the bartender. ::
WHALE: A beer. And a shot of… the strongest stuff you have.
:: The bartender eyed him suspiciously. ::
BARTENDER: Are you Starfleet?
WHALE: Are you hard of hearing? A beer and a shot of something strong.
:: Damn it. Was he that transparent? :: Glancing around the tavern at the collection of rogues, con artists and cut throats, Whale shook his head slightly. The only reason the bartender was suspicious, he figured, was the Whale was the only person in the whole place who looked like he’d showered within the past week or so. He put the thought aside as his drinks arrived. He quickly downed the shot – a orange liquid with a slight phosphorescence that burned all the way down like he’d swallowed molten metal, but quickly faded to a pleasant, tingling warmth that he felt all the way to the tips of his toes. He ordered two more while he finished his beer. By the time he’d set down his empty glass, the two fresh shots had arrived – this time brought by a young Bajoran woman. :: Whale had to force himself not to stare. The woman was quite pretty – not classically beautiful, but in a natural sort of way. Her short hair was spiked out in all directions and dyed a deep burgundy colour. She wore long gloves a white, toga-like dress… if something that small could even be considered a dress. :: She smiled at him. ::
BAJORAN: Another beer?
WHALE: Uh, yeah. Please.
:: She laughed as she poured him another beer. He downed another shot. ::
BAJORAN: ‘Please’? Can’t say that I hear that too often in this place. :: She slid the full pint glass over to him. :: I’m Uatu.
WHALE: David. Nice to meet you, Uatu.
:: He knocked back his last remaining shot. ::
UATU: You’re going to want to take it easy with those. They give you a hell of a hangover. ::beat:: So, David. What brings you out here, to the Armpit of the Ithassa?
:: He chuckled in spite of himself. ::
WHALE: Work. I’m… I work security for long range vessels.
:: Not a complete lie. ::
WHALE: At the risk of sounding like a cliché… what’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?
:: She smiled, though there didn’t seem to be much humour in it. Whale swore at himself. He’d almost entirely isolated himself in the last few years and it hadn’t helped his interpersonal skills. Normally people found him standoffish, but maybe this time, he’d moved to quickly in the other direction. Then he noticed that she wasn’t looking at him at all. One of the bouncers was standing over his shoulder. Whale braced himself. ::
BOUNCER. Uatu. You’re up.
:: Whale glanced up at the Bajoran questioningly. She shrugged and gave him another slight smile. He thought it seemed like a sad smile, but he was never very good at deciphering signals like that. ::
UATU: I’m here because like most people, I have debts to pay off.
:: Whale watched her head toward the back of the bar, where a rowdy group of customers nearly drowned out the grinding, thumping music with their whooping and catcalls as an Orion woman finished her dance and left the stage. Shortly thereafter, a new song began and Uatu took to the stage. :: Sighing, Whale killed his pint, thought about ordering another then realised that his head was feeling rather fuzzy already. He’d better settle for a trip to the men’s room and see how he felt after a bit. As soon as he stood he knew he’d made the right call, steadying himself on the bar while he took a few seconds to blink away the haze. He somehow made it to the men’s room without falling over and after emptying his bladder (and having a rather philosophical discussion with a very, very drunk Tellarite at the urinals), Whale felt much better and much more steady on his feet. ::
((Continued in Sleepless Nights, Part II))