Obsidian Command

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No More Secrets

Posted on 10 Mar 2022 @ 3:33pm by Commander Calliope Zahn

Mission: M3 - Into the Deep
Location: USS Alexander, Sickbay, Dr. Llwyd's office
Timeline: Following "The Whole Truth"
1431 words - 2.9 OF Standard Post Measure

As the lift spirited Calliope from the USS Alexander’s bridge to Sickbay, she only vaguely remembered asking for the destination moments before. St. John had said something to her when she had returned from the Admiral’s office and Calliope had given what felt like a polite response, but maintained her pace off of the lower bridge. Unsure if she could make it fully collected all the way back to the privacy of her own space on Obsidian Command, she remembered the invitation of Dr. Llwyd to make an appointment with him, which led to her stepping out of the lift and asking the admitting nurse if she might wait in Llwyd’s office to speak with him.

The computer automatically brought the lights up, but Calliope called for them off again and sat in the dark. The wave of emotional release hit her all at once as she lowered herself into the sofa. It came in great heaving sobs and she gave in to them, letting an ocean wash through her after holding back the tide for so long.

“No more secrets.” She repeated presently what she had said to herself the day before after getting back from playing chess at the park with Dr. Llwyd. It had been a determination then, and now it was a reality.

There was nothing left to hide. The new and unfamiliar freedom was almost unbearable. She’d gotten used to the silent turn of the screw— the compilation of self justification that followed the dictate of the ‘need’. More recently, it had grown still for the last three or so years when Dr. Ryder had been sneakily providing her with his drawn-down version of the hypo and she had stopped searching for it elsewhere.

It had only taken a week on Obsidian Command and away from Ryder's care to snap right back to her old pattern.

Composing the confession the day before had come slowly at first. She’d hovered over her work station with a blank tablet and paced, telling herself that she didn’t really have anything to say, that there wasn’t anything really wrong with her actions and no one was hurt by them. No one aside from herself... And everyone she loved... When she got herself to sit down to it, it was for them. She could feel the weight of all of the hurt, anger, frustration, betrayal, and pain she was causing. For her mother, her friends, and for Lance. She had to get the rest of the poison out.

She told herself she couldn’t remember. That was the next hurdle. The next lie inside. She said to herself that she couldn’t remember the specifics, as if that would stop her trying. But she worked backwards through that lie as well. She remembered by asking herself, “If I was going for another refill, where would I go back now?” and quickly discovered it wasn’t as hard to recall as she wanted herself to think. The names, places, times— all of the circumstances came back to her in long streams of consciousness. One leading to another until the confession was writing itself.

It wasn’t complete, she knew that. It was only as complete as her memory would allow. More would occur to her later, she was sure of it. But as she delineated each event that she could now, she recalled another and another until she couldn’t record them as fast as they came to mind. The document grew and she formatted it to make it simpler to reference. She only proofread it once and as she did, it seemed like someone else’s life. She had never considered it all in one place like that. Her excuses had constructed a barrier that allowed her to keep it all from view.

At first she wasn’t sure what to do with it. She left the pad at her elbow as she mechanically got a small meal and returned to work on her report concerning the Devil’s Golden Bowl.

As the day wore on, full of heavy reflection and careful accounting, Calliope considered just keeping the first pad to herself. Her desperate little voice reasoned that she’d made enough progress with it, and that nothing good was going to come of sharing the account. It was bad enough to be caught at it the one time on Obsidian, but who would ever trust her if she gave herself away at years of cheating? Wasn’t the one enough of a correction? Enough humble pie? There wasn’t really going to be much any formal investigation could turn up, so much of it was so old, and all of it was off the record. It would be easy enough to pretend all of the rest had never happened and move on. Just put the one instant down to a desperate poorly thought out move on her part and keep the one ding on her record. It was salvageable. On the very scary other hand, if she gave this entire confession, she could easily be stripped down and left without her life’s work. What good would she be to anyone if she were drummed out of service? She had nothing to gain and everything to lose by it.

“It isn’t up to you what they do with it,” she told her squirmy inner-self in her best command voice, peeling off her socks to flex her toes and try to relax for a minute. She looked at both of the socks, inside out in her fist.

They were a pair. No matter what.

Were they?

It was late again and Lance wasn’t back, again. She had left a little stack of replicated prints from their one evening away in the mountains earlier in the week and she pulled down one of her memory books to put them on some pages. She drew her fingers over the colors of the sunset, and over the image of the outline of Lance’s profile against the sky. Then she paged through the blank pages in the back and wondered how many more photos there might be. How many trips would they take? Would they fill up these pages? Would they ever need another book? She came to the end, where she had tucked the letter. The one addressed “To Lance.”

He hadn’t seen it yet. She could just destroy it and he would never need to pity her or feel weird around her or decide for certain that he wanted nothing more to do with her. They could go on just like they always had. She could learn to be content with him being happier in a shuttle bay with a ship named for her than he felt being with her.

“No more secrets,” she repeated again on a slow exhale, setting the letter on the end of the counter where he was likely to spy it next time he came through for a shower and a bite to eat.

She went back to the desk, staring at her reflection in the black gloss of the confessional tablet. By forwarding al Havash’s claim to Admiral Sepandiyar, Llwyd hadn’t ruined her career like she had thought of weeks ago. Now she knew he had really opened a door out of this prison of lies she’d been constructing around herself. She could close the door again. But she knew deep down that what she really needed was to walk the rest of the way through herself.

And so her decision had crystalized: the confession was the remainder of the report already on Sepandiyar’s desk. So she had messaged St. John for the appointment, and then spent the remainder of the evening worrying herself sick until sleep mercifully took over.

She’d felt ill that morning, far more than usual. Almost feverish. But she zipped up her collar and took her cane, relieved that St. John had gotten her a relatively early appointment that very next afternoon so she didn’t have to suffer for days.

With the confession made, the fever was lifted now, replaced by this uncontrollable onslaught of tears and sobs. She wasn’t sure yet what aftermath remained after the house of lies had been washed out to sea.

Short phrases were escaping as she consoled herself in a tight hug, holding her own shoulders and rocking alone in Llwyd’s dim office.

“... What’s done is done … … more than you deserve … ... finally free of it …”

 

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