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Exorcizamus Te, Omnis Immundus Lethean

Posted on Sun Jan 31st, 2021 @ 4:34am by Calderon Jarsdel & Lieutenant JG Jaya Maera Garlake

Mission: S1E4: The Hills Have Eyes
Location: Secure Storage Bay | Overwatch Station
Timeline: MD 4

It had taken some doing, but Jaya had managed it.

With Dr. Wilson dead and Chief Mayhew in intensive care, the ranking officers on Overwatch at the moment were Gwynne and Jaya. Sergeant Holloway, the sergeant-at-arms and Mayhew's right hand, had assumed command of the security apparatus. He was also none too pleased with what his ranking officers had proposed to do.

The exorcism ritual could not happen in Sickbay. It was still being cleaned from the untimely and messy demise of Dr. Wilson.

The brig was a natural option, except that it did not have the room the ritual required. Open space was required. Proper acoustics. The brig did not provide this.

Holloway would allow only one alternative: secure storage. And then upon one condition: an escape pod would be prepped and standing by to eject the subject into space where he would be fired upon and disintegrated.

Negotiations and diplomacy were natural skills for a Deltan counselor, but Jaya felt she had outdone even herself. Jumik had killed nearly 20 Marines and their brothers wanted his blood. However, they were all Starfleet. If this failed, then Calderon would die one way or another -- either through a neural aneurysm or in the process of Jumik attempting to escape and being jettisoned to certain death.

Jaya's home of Seyann had no shortage of rituals, but she couldn't help but wonder if all the candles were necessary. How did Gwynne replicate so many so quickly? Their flickering light against the secure storage bay was as disorienting as it was soothing. From somewhere came the faint sound of trickling water and a summer breeze. It was too dim for Jaya to tell where.

"All right..." Jaya said as she entered. Two Marines rather than medtechs pushed the hovering portable bio-bed behind her. "Calderon is unconscious for now, but the sedative should wear off soon. How do we want to do this?"

"Carefully," said Gwynne, her expression intent, serious and focused. "Very carefully."

Secure storage wouldn't have been her first go-to for this unorthodox and unprecedented procedure, but now, as she stood amongst the specific cacophony of sound, lack of light and sensory calm, she considered that this might be the best place after all. Containment made the atmosphere easier to control, and the blank canvas onto which she was painting the set mood made things as easy as they were likely to get.

"He - they - need to be immobilised physically," Gwynne continued, the smallest hint of a smile catching her eyes as she noted the curt nods from both Marines. "Then we need to set up a mental cage in which to perform our delicate trickery." She turned her attention entirely to Jaya then, and grimaced.

"I've not encountered or heard of anything like this before," the Betazoid admitted. "Possession, yes. But for this duration? Never." A soft sigh and the setting of a determined stance. "Between us, you and I are stronger than the Lethean. The real test is whether we can extricate Calderon without tearing his mind apart."

Jaya considered the admonition for a moment before giving a nod of understanding. "So what's first?"

"Take a look inside here," Gwynne instructed, giving Calderon's skull a very light tap with her index finger. The bio bed was still now, set in the middle of the room. "See what you see while they're still under."

"It doesn't work that way for Deltans," Jaya said with a shake of her head. "We're only empaths. I can feel thoughts and emotions, but probing is extremely difficult. What happened before was... an anomaly. Somehow between your telepathic burst and Jumik's presence within Cal's mind, my own mind became entangled until I could sort it out and wake up." The memory of it alone made her feel awkward and disoriented. "It would be best for you to guide me in whatever it is I need to know." Looking down at where she pointed, though, Jaya asked, "Is there where the paracortex is located?"

It was the area of the brain processed Betazoid telepathy and produced the neurotransmitter psilosynine which made the phenomenon possible.

Gwynne nodded, curtly but not unkindly. "Yes," she agreed with Jaya. Then, with a wry smile, she added. "I'm going to be poking around in there pretty extensively, so you should feel something soon." There was the wider concern with regards the prior entanglement, but Gwynne would monitor that rather than attempt to avoid it altogether. She reached out and gave Jaya's hand a firm squeeze in moral support, a physical gesture rather than a mental one chosen on purpose before they embarked on this cerebral mission. "I'll be right here beside you," she promised. "Out here as well as in there." Her free hand lightly rubbed fingertips over Calderon's brow.

"Yes," the Betazoid confirmed. "The paracortex is there." Her mental imagery, shared briefly with the Deltan, conveyed a view of healthy brain matter with something darker shadowing across and around those pink convolutions like clouds across a clear sky.

"I'll walk us in there," Gwynne noted. "Right through the front door, and we'll see what we're dealing with. I'd say," she smiled briefly and with little humour. "This will be something like fighting close quarters in a haunted house. Safe word - in case we need it - Tequila."

The candles flickered, all of them in unison, and Gwynne closed her eyes as she internally looked to Jaya. Her hand still held the Deltan's with a casual yet finitely present strength.

"Ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be." Jaya cracked a smile at Gwynne's choice of safe word. "When will we--"

A rush came over Jaya's vision, similar to vertigo but far more overwhelming. When her sight adjusted, she realized that her eyes were not functioning. Her perception was now inward. It felt similar to the disorientation from before when she had battled Jumik on the ocean shore within Cal's mind. This time, however, she felt more self-assured, more... complete.

"Is it always this way for Betazoids?" she asked.

"No," Gwynne said, serious in tone and expression. "But Letheans and their abilities are not well documented." She gave Jaya's hand a firm squeeze then set about constructing a mental boundary, the high fence and bubble within which they hoped to keep Jumik and Cal. That weave was light, strong and visible like strands of light forming a dome at the periphery of both women's visions.

Jaya nodded. Well-versed as she was in the psychologies of most Federation species and some outside the Federation, she had to admit to being in uncharted territory with Lethean psychology. Soon her sensory input was overlain by the immaterial realm of the mind. This time, rather than a coastline, she found that the ethereal environs flickered between ghostly auroras over wispy, cloud-like ground. Nearly weightless, Jaya felt herself drawn toward a nexus of ancient fog that lured them by its soft incandescence.

"He's in there," Jaya said. She could feel him. "But where is Cal?"

The voice was quiet, a tickle of a whisper right close to Jaya's metaphoric ear, here in the misty confusion. There was the sense of proximity, of someone right behind her. A fleeting push of matter against flesh and bone as if someone had very slightly pressed their back against hers. "Here," said Cal's voice, small in volume yet certain in timbre.

"They're both close," Gwynne stated, her initial task almost complete. She winced then as a banshee-style yell echoed from within the clouds, seemingly to come from everywhere. A shadow flickered, indistinct, large and ominous, floating in that blank canvas above them all.

Jaya felt way out of her element, but she was already committed. Stepping forward, she called out Cal's name. "Calderon! Keep talking. Can you tell us where Jumik is hiding?"

"He's... everywhere..." whispered a voice in Jaya's ear. She felt the touch of a hand at hers, that grip warm and certain, but fleeting. "I can't..."

A tyrannical laugh both permeated and filled the blanket of fog about them, the sound unbidden and unrestrained, causing Gwynne to frown and concentrate harder on reining in the power of Lethean. Her voice was calm, though as she spoke to her companion, and as she pulled a bright sphere of orangey yellow warmth about them. A safe place in this emotional maelstrom in which to stand. "Jaya, focus on Cal. Bring him into the light."

Nodding solemnly, Jaya closed her eyes to better concentrate, only to realize that gesture would actually separate her from this experience. Good to know. She just might need to bail out if things got too hairy. Three little babies in her womb depended on her to know when to withdraw.

Rather than close her eyes, Jaya instead took in the scene. Not just visually, but sensually in every way. Sound, smell, taste, touch, everything carried in the air was hers to feel and to connect. Soon there was a growing sense of merging, where she felt and thought things that were not her own. It was familiar, yet here and now it was still so surreal. No matter. She was in.

"Calderon," she called out to the emptiness that she had begun to fill with herself. "Calderon, come forth!"

Gwynne's mental strength was entirely occupied in holding the Lethean's presence at bay, something she was capable of matching, though not forever. His energy bounced repeatedly at the edges of that warmly lit sphere.

A ghost - an incorporeal version of Calderon Jarsdel - stepped from out of the nowhere that surrounded the two women's stand and walked into their bubble. He positioned himself just within Jaya's normal physical reach and he let a smouldering pair of blue eyes regard her. That blue was the only colour presenting in the shade as he finally spoke. "Why would you risk your unborn children for me?" He asked the Deltan, and that question was devoid of emotion in that moment.

Why was she doing it? Jaya didn't hesitate. "Because that is the Starfleet way," she said. "You asked for help, and we're here to do just that. Can you tell us where Jumik is hiding?"

Her answer made a physical shift in that wisp before her, Cal's shape becoming visibily more opaque. "Thank you," he said, the tone holding something akin to gratitude and strengthening as Cal considered Jaya's question. "He's everywhere," he answered. "In everything. He's more me than me."

Looking to Gwynne, the feeling of helplessness was difficult to ignore. Not knowing what to do under the circumstances, Jaya fell back on her training. "You are you, Calderon. You've only forgotten. Remember who you are."

Shifting mist momentarily obscured that unsubstantial version of Cal, then as it cleared once more, there stood two forms, one a child about twelve years old, the other an older man with the features and dark eyes of a half-Betazoid. The elder held the younger's hand, tightly, his form in close protection formation of the child, and his features were sternly serious as he spoke.

"Go away," the disguised Lethean said simply and with thinly veiled malice. "Leave my boy alone, you're upsetting and disturbing him."

Gwynne stepped forward. "You are a parasite, Jumik. This is not your mind and you have no claim to it because you do not belong. Had you been a better passenger, perhaps things would be different, but now we act on Calderon's request to remove you." She stretched her hands forward, palms out, as she reached her mind toward the disguised Lethean.

~Jaya, take Cal~

There was no possible training for such an encounter. Jaya nodded at Gwynne's direction and ran a circular arc toward the child she believed to be Cal. With any luck, Jumik would be unable to engage her with Gwynne directly attacking him.

Jumik, still in the form of Cal's father, attempted to pull the child closer, even as the force of Gwynne's attack washed over him. The child however - Cal - saw his chance and reacted simultaneously. A swift duck and punch to the groin, then the boy ran straight for Jaya with no backwards glance. Energies collided, the air around them all exploding with the power of the mental thunderstorm unleashed between the two potent foes, and then the scene shifted again.

Underground tunnels, rock walls and the sound of a thunderstorm raging outside. Jumik, in his true form, red eyes bright in his ridged and mottled features, stood tall and calm as he focused on retaliation. His attack, now in the visible form of lightning, crackled in the air between him then leapt towards Gwynne. "Just die," he snarled, as he watched the three foes rally their varying strength. But Jaya could feel that subtle shift, the dent in his strength that Gwynne had created.

"Take my hand, Calderon!" Jaya called out. She resisted the surge of telepathic power by doing her best to ground it through her feet. It made her feel contaminated and defiled, but she allowed the coarse energies to wash over her if it meant rescuing the poor soul held captive in the Lethean's thrall.

He did. Take Jaya's hand. But Cal didn't run. He held the pregnant woman's hand and he turned to face the battle of Lethean versus Betazoid even as he felt the rush of power shifting in between and all around them. As he turned, he shifted height from cmall child to gangly teen, floppy fringe masking blue eyes that were filled with determined, steady rage. He stood, partly shielding Jaya, even as he refused to move. "No," Cal said. "No. Leave! Leave me alone. Leave them alone!"

Jumik laughed. A simple sound of derision rather than humour. He cast out everything he had, ignoring Jaya and Cal and focusing on Gwynne first. Blue energy infused the air about them and the floor began to break into pieces even as the lightning shifted from bright to dark, literally stealing the light from around them all.

"Take it back," Jaya said. "Ignore his jeering and take back what he stole from you. This is your mind. We're all just guests. Push us all out and be free!"

In the darkness, Cal yelled. All the venomous words in his home tongue that his brain could conjure, every curse he knew from his travels. And as they left his mouth they formed pinpricks of light, akin to tiny fireflies in Jumik's constructed darkness. They were joined by Gwynne's candle flames, a myriad of yellow and orange in that deep, dark black.

The world around them changed again.

A pine forest. Tall trees blotting out most of the light, but those fireflies were remnant, buzzing about a frustrated and angry Lethean who now took the form of a bear. His growl sent out a soundwave that shoved Cal to his knees, but about the ursine form flocked an irritating swarm that Jumik swatted.

Jaya recalled the means by which she had defeated Jumik before. But that had only forced him to release his hold. It had not expunged him. Only Cal could do that, she realized. How could she make him realize that?

"Calderon Jarsdal!" she called out. "I defeated Jumik before when our minds were commingled, with a little bit of help. We are here with you now. With our help, you can push him out as well. Deny him existence. Deny him form. Deny him utterly. This is your mind. Nothing can exist here without you willing it. Fight him, Cal!"

He felt it, that support, it had just taken him a little while to figure out what it was exactly. The last two years, Cal had been invisible, trapped and hidden within his own mind, forced to watch life unfold at the Lethean's mercy. He'd needed to find ways to offset the emotions he wasn't allowed to feel, to accept his fate when nothing had seemed to draw attention to his predicament. Now, he realised, with a rush of all those bitten back, pushed down and repressed feelings, he was free to express himself just exactly how the fuck he wanted. And he had help. Two minds, two women far stronger than he would ever be. He could do this.

Cal reached out, literally and figuratively. He lifted his arms, cupped his hands and concentrated on all those tiny little lights while the bear raged in his aural assault of the trio. If he could schmush all those small pinpoints into one full beam...

~I need your help~ Cal admitted, his words finding a voice, and a purchase in Jaya and Gwynne's minds finally. ~Please~

~We are here~ Jaya and Gwynne said as one. ~Now push him out~

Nothing can exist here without you willing it. Cal focused on those words. More than anything else over the last two years he'd wanted the Lethean gone. If this was his chance, he vowed not to waste it. That broad focus of support boosted his confidence as the lights forged together into a wider source of light - a potent beam that steadily and relentlessly ate its way through the darkness. The bear-figure roared and dropped to all fours as that pine forest was swept with flame, fire eating everything its path as the bright orange beam cut a vast swathe across the imagined landscape.

And then, even as Calderon formed a mental picture of the Janaran Falls - the image Gwynne had once reminded him of - the landscape shifted again. He stood now, with the two women beside him at the point where river became waterfall and Jumik... Jumik clung to a rock in the fast moving water between them and the edge. He'd thought it would be easier here for some reason, but it wasn't.

"I can't..." whispered Cal, his voice fading into the mist and noise of the river's rush. But he took a step forward, one booted foot of the now adult-shaped version of himself resting upon Jumik's left hand.

"You can!" Jaya insisted. "Surround his presence with your own and expel him like a bad cough!"

Cal took the leap - step - of faith and crushed the Lethean's fingers beneath his own, now chunkier and heavyweight right boot. Jumik's howl was drowned by the rush of the water behind him, but as Cal reached out to kick him in the face, the Lethean grabbed that extended ankle, twisted it and pulled them both into the waters. Together, they vanished over the edge of the Falls.

"NO!"

The force of will that came from Gwynne carried her over the edge in pursuit of the pair. Jaya rushed to the edge herself, suppressing the fear of the worst.

There was a rush of water filling every single one of her senses, an overwhelming sense of sound and fluid, bubbles and a bone-deep cold. And then, inexplicably...

An airlock. A simple equation - vaccum versus sealed atmosphere. Cal stood on one side, Jumik on the other, neither wore suits, both dressed in simple shirts and trousers, feet bare, hands pressed against the clear window that separated them from each other.

Gone was the water, the planet, the sign of anything identifiable to determine where they were as a specific ship or station. There was only the battleship grey walls, the airlock and the red button on Cal's side of the divide.

He didn't grin, or sneer, or even find any words to speak to the Lethean who had occupied his mind for so long and made it virtually unihabitable. He didn't say a single thing, his eyes open, his mouth closed and his pulse calm as he thumped the heel of his hand against that button, as he held it down and listened.

The outer door slid open without fanfare, devoid of sound or lights to announce its inevitable conclusion and Cal watched as the momentum of their forward motion tugged at Jumik's physical form. He pushed, with every fibre of his mental being, backed by the two women somewhere behind him, and stared impassively as the Lethean clung to a handle and refused to accept his fate.

Whatever words Jumik spoke were lost to the darkness behind him, no stars to guide or comfort him in that moment, no rescue waiting to save him.

"Goodbye," Cal said, as he heard steps behind him and turned to see Gwynne standing there, a myriad of light surrounding her head like a halo. It shifted, moving from Gwynne to Cal, and outwards, through the sealed barrier to wrap itself about Jumik's form like a cloak, accompanying the Lethean out as if a swarm of tiny candle flames felt a need to usher him into that last night.

Jaya stepped forward and placed a hand on Cal's shoulder. "Well done," she whispered. "You're free."

He exhaled for what seemed like forever and regarded Jaya with a vacant expression, thoughts wandering past her and backwashing his brain with something else. Something that suggested that a remnant of some kind persisted. A footprint in the flower bed of a house that had been robbed. A scent of an aftershave that lingered after a man had gone. Shadows cast from a presence that had occupied a space for so long they'd imprinted in his mind?

"Thank you," said Cal, and he sat down, closing his eyes as the brightness now back at Gwynne's beck and call threatened to blind him.

Gwynne and Jaya joined him. "Thank yourself," Gwynne said. "You couldn't have done it... without you."




With the words spoken, the shared dream-state between the three minds ended as the three were returned to an individual space-time orientation.

Jaya felt her eyes flutter before opening. Her vision was bleary but otherwise it seemed her mind and body were properly synchronized. The dancing candlelight against the walls of the storage bay made it difficult for her to make out the other two.

"Gwynne? Cal?" she called out, then pragmatically added, "Holloway?"

As he opened his eyes, Cal exhaled as fully as he dared. He felt the bio-bed straps shift ever so slightly against his lowered chest, and he stared at the ceiling above him. Metal. Small, enclosed space. He looked left. Right. Escape pod? Damn. They'd been truly serious about the back-up plan, huh? And yet, here he was, breathing in and out like a real boy. Alive. Mostly sane.

In the reddened darkness within his own head, there was a definite sense of space now. Of being able to stretch into places he had long been denied. Cal smiled, just long enough to feel the freedom that two women and a ritual he had never known existed might have granted him. It felt... real... and yet he wasn't sure he could truly believe it. Jumik's voice was quiet. But... where it had been, where once there had been a whole other personality stinking up his perfectly fine brain, now there was new ground. Open, unexplored and yet present. Accessible.

"Jaya?" He asked, not even trying to sit up. "I feel... different." Cal smiled, no malice this time in the expression.

"Different is good," Jaya said. "Change is part of life. Good changes are all the better." She chuckled a bit in relief. Going into the situation, they had no way of knowing whether they'd succeed.

Gwynne, however, had not said a word.

"What happens now?" Cal asked. "Back to the cell?"

"Bet your ass!" called out Sergeant Holloway.

Jaya frowned at the Sergeant-at-Arms but could make no protest. "Unfortunately so," she conceded gently. "But this isn't over. We didn't come this far freeing you from one prison just to leave you in another. Your story is just beginning, Cal."

Cal closed his eyes again and let their voices soak into his eardrums. He tested that space, half-expecting the silence of their victory to be interrupted. It wasn't. Only his voice, his mental tendrils exploring those new roads and pathways. He felt the weight of that secondhand guilt, the blood on his hands, the look on the Marines' faces, that awful gargling choking sound from their Master-at-Arms. He had the distinct impression that he'd never be welcome here. If he couldn't shake that scent of murderous death coating his soul, how could they? He wasn't welcome. He wasn't a friend. He didn't even really know where he was. He'd never see candles as a romantic gesture ever again.

But Jumik's voice was quiet. And right now, that was the biggest victory Calderon Jarsdel could have hoped for.

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