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A Not-So-Difficult Choice to Make

Posted on Wed Mar 10th, 2021 @ 9:41am by Ensign Khaiel D'hikatsi & Captain Akiva ben-Avram

Mission: S1E4: The Hills Have Eyes
Location: Administrator's Office | Overwatch Station
Timeline: MD 4

Khaiel D'hikatsi stood outside the doors to Captain ben-Avram's office, having just rung the chime. Nerves overtook him as he stood here, unsure as to why the Captain had summoned him. Logic lead him to believe that the Captain was securing him transport somewhere else. He knew he couldn't go home, knew he wouldn't be able to return to a normal life; not with what he had seen and experienced. But certainly the Captain was ready to rid himself of the young Ensign who wasn't experienced enough to be a part of his team.

His mind drifted slightly back to that day, when he woke up no longer at home but with Sebastian. An odd name for a female Human, but Humans were quite the contradiction in and of themselves. He'd seen more since that day than he could have ever imagined. And now he stood on a top secret military installation surrounded by objects he shouldn't even know exist, much less be able to touch.

The Captain's voice beckoning to enter caused him to jump back from his daydream.

He stepped forward into the room, taking a stand in front of the desk. "Ensign Khaiel D'hikatsi, reporting as requested, Captain," he said.


Normally Akiva would make with pleasantries, but since Khaiel was some kind of Vulcanoid with a temperament one would expect, those were dispensed with.

With a hard swallow, Khaiel did as he was told without question or comment.

"Do you recall the conversation from the transporter room?" Akiva slid a PADD toward the younger man. "It was the line of no return. You've entered a new world, a dark one full of terrors and heartache. But every now and then, we win. Venus was such an example, and you performed admirably."

A lot had happened since that day, but Khaiel remembered the exact conversation they'd had. The young man nodded in response, surprised at the approval he'd just received. "Yes, sir. And thank you, sir. Just doing my part."

Akiva nodded at the PADD. "Take it."

Picking up the PADD, willing his hand to remain level, Khaiel glanced over the contents. "Orders of conscription?" A smile began to spread over Khaiel's face. He was almost certain he'd end up in some shitty posting on the edge of Federation space, a basic prisoner for what he'd seen. "You want me to work here? On Theta?"

"Like I said, you performed admirably." Akiva paused, considering his next words. "The field team has no computer specialists at the moment, what with Lieutenant Sternwood on indefinite medical leave. When she does return, she's slated to be a remote operative who will continue our investigation into Venus in hopes of understanding what happened there. Between her archaeology and computer specializations, I can think of no one better." Regret passed over him, though. Officers were people, not tools, and so Grace would be missed. "Between your actions in escaping that madwoman Sebastian on Mars and in helping take down not one but two existential threats to the Federation, and all in the span of a day, only a fool would not see your value to this agency."

Before Khaiel could respond, Akiva pulled the PADD back to the midpoint on his desk. "Before you agree to anything, I must reiterate that this position will be the end of your life. Whatever you do from this day forth, you will no longer be the Khaiel you were before. Count the cost, Ensign, because you will not get a second chance to opt out." Akiva let go of the PADD but not his stern eye contact. It was out of character for him and quite uncomfortable. Some things just needed to be said. "The alternative will be a remote posting on the frontier of Federation space, which will be what your service record reflects whether you are here or there. Make your choice."

"Seriously?" Khaiel asked, his forehead scrunched in concern regarding the remote posting. This was exactly what he was afraid of.

"I'll try to make it a pleasant one," Akiva said, "if that's the choice you wish to make. While there are others who conscript capable officers into Memory Theta against their will, I am not among them. This must be your choice, and I will do my best to mitigate the consequences of refusal."

Khaiel sat there for a moment. This was it, this is what he was thinking about that day on the beach. Adventure. Intrigue. The feeling that what you're doing is making a difference in this universe. Captain Akiva was offering him the chance of a lifetime and there was no way he was going to let that slip through his fingers.

"No need, Captain," Khaiel said, pulling the PADD towards him again. "I accept without any reservations."

A bittersweet smile came over Akiva's face. It was always good to see a sane person join the team, but in his short tenure as administrator he had already seen significant turnover. The odds of Khaiel enduring for any length of time were no better than anyone else's, and he was only just beginning his Starfleet career, his life even. "Welcome, then, to Memory Theta. There is just one last thing to go over..."

Bursting into the office, Mrazak did not announce himself or ask permission, as per usual. "Ben-Avram, what in the crap nebula do you want?"

"Speaking of the devil..." Akiva bit back a smirk. "Thank you, Captain Mrazak, for coming on such short notice. I wanted to you to meet the newest member of the field team. Ensign D'hikatsi will be replacing Lieutenant Sternwood as the computer specialist."

Not your field team or your specialist, but the. The choice of words burrowed under Mrazak's skin.

"You're the ragamuffin he picked up back in the Sol system." Looking between the men, Mrazak seemed stuck between accepting a valuable asset and allowing Akiva to overstep his command.

Khaiel just looked up at the man, slightly offended by his language, but saying nothing.

"I did not sign off on this," Mrazak said. "Do we need another discussion on administrative purview? The field team is mine. I make personnel decisions, not you."

Akiva listened pensively and even nodded at the end. "Agreed," he said at length. "It is indeed the field team leader's duty to assign new personnel, but Memory Theta's registry features vacancies in both the field team leader and the lead science specialist roles. You have no power here, Mrazak, because..." The chuckle Akiva had been holding back could not be resisted any longer. "Well, I think that's a little surprise best left for you to uncover on your own."

"" The Vulcan's dark eyes nearly bulged from his head in the makings of another of his classic apoplectic meltdowns. "You will pay for this!" Turning to Khaiel, he said, "We will speak again once I have sorted this... malfeasance." The word dripped from his tongue like venom.

Watching as the Vulcan left, Khaiel turned back to Akiva. "I'm not sure what's going on here," he said.

"Captain Mrazak is the Lead Science Specialist and Field Team Leader," Akiva explained, "and is the final authority as far as Starfleet Science is concerned. He was mistakenly reported as killed in action a few days ago and that miscommunication has not been cleared up yet. It allowed me to install you directly into the field team without any additional paperwork on my part."

"Does he not want me to be on the field team?" Suddenly, Khaiel began to have reservations. "I'm not sure I'm comfortable joining a team where the leader doesn't want me, Captain. I'd rather end up on the edge of Federation space where people at least appreciate my presence."

Akiva shook his head. "You took down the AI almost singlehandedly. Of course he wants you. It's me he resents. I'm sure once you're on mission together, you'll see a different side to him." Cringing a little, Akiva said, "Not necessarily better, but different. More appreciative. Or, eh, less hostile."

Khaiel nodded. Pressing his finger to the PADD, the young man signed his future over to Memory Theta and the adventure that lay before him. He wasn't sure how it would go, nor was he sure he'd fit in. But he never wanted to look back at this moment and wonder 'what if'. So he took the opportunity and he was going to run with it.

"Welcome to the team," Akiva said amiably. "Mind your manners and protocols, don't tempt Ferrofax, and this will be the posting of your life."

Standing, Khaiel took the Captain's hand and shook it firmly. He turned to leave the office, a big grin forming on his face as he stepped into the unknown.


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