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Being Crazy Isn't Enough

Posted on Wed Jul 14th, 2021 @ 5:53am by Lieutenant Commander Leonora Wolf MD & Lieutenant Commander Finley Chu & Lieutenant Karna Zsan

Mission: Mission 0: Everybody Has A Story
Location: Delphi Unit HQ, Stratholme | Driaan IV
Timeline: 2388




Karna stood in the corner of his quarters. It was hardly a luxurious space, but it would do. Only frail minds trapped within their own cages of flesh and blood need entertain themselves with ornamental d├ęcor. Spartan accommodations were perfectly fine with Karna. They were easy to sabotage.

It had been a few hours since he had reported the power distribution glitch in his quarters. His easel showed signs of auto-painting attempts. A few rolled up clumps of paper lay strewn on the floor below. But soon he had relegated himself to the corner for meditation. For any time now, he knew, the object of his fascination would arrive to help him with his problem. Little did she know that it was likely not the one she had in mind.

The buzzer signaled Fin's arrival. Annoyance had laced her thoughts. She was pinging some of her friends in the Domestic sections of SFI. The maintenance call shouldn't have been her problem, she was supposed to be supervising the department, not being the department. But somehow nobody was available to fill this call. Soon that would change.

Karna opened the door and smiled wide. "Thank you for coming," he said. "I don't know how you fixed my door, but it wouldn't open for the last few hours. Maybe something with the power relay?"

"I didn't do anything..." Fin said confused.

"So." Karna put a hand against the wall and smiled a transparent, soulless smile. "We seemed to have noticed one another at the briefing yesterday. I was hoping we'd have a chance to talk."

"Sure, I need to grab lunch anyway. You can join me?" Fin offered, not enthusiastic, but friendly enough to not have it feel like a mandatory invite.

"I would love nothing more." And for Karna that could not have been more true.

As they walked together, Karna probed her mind again only to come up with the same aurora of complex emotions and nuanced values that can only come from a lifetime of painful experiences.

Fin felt a vague tingling sensation at the edge of her consciousness. She had felt it earlier in the week too.

"Are you happy?" he asked abruptly.

"Happy with what?" She countered curiously.

"Life." After a few more steps, he added, "Yourself. Everything."

"I really can't complain." Fin shrugged, "Nice job, nice place to live. What about you?"

Karna pursed his lips before he answered. "You might say happiness is an abstract concept for me. I cannot easily tell when I am dreaming and awake." His temper downshifted several notches. "Odd question: do you think you could ever love me?"

"That's an odd thing to ask a virtual stranger." Fin replied, giving him a sidelong glance. She had modulated her tone as to hide any discomfort she felt. "And I must say, not really an appropriate question for you to ask."

TAG

"I don't blame you," Karna replied. "I don't love me either. They say something is broken inside me. To tell the truth, I've wondered if it was ever there at all. And, if it's not, could it--whatever it is--be put there?"

He took a long step to plant himself in front of Fin. His next question was asked face to face. "I know what's happened to you. The betrayals. The abuse. The pain. They're as clear to me as the nose on your face. Yet you still have love inside you." Karna twisted his face in confusion. "How?"

Forced to stop, Fin looked up at Karna. "My history is none of your business, Zsan. I'd appreciate it if you didn't bring it up again." Her tone was measured, calm. Emotionally, anger flared up brightly but was contained in the same instance.

"But... that wasn't my question," Karna said with furrowed brow. "Even now, your anger is born from love -- a triggered defense against the pain love has inflicted." He shook his head with amazed fascination. "Through it all, and despite everything, you are unchanged. Love is still inside you." He stared off at the wall and chewed his lip, then flinched as his faraway look disappeared with a snap of his head. "I envy you."

"I..." Fin started, then her face screwed up in confusion. "What?" She looked at Karna, "What the hell are you talking about?"

Karna scowled at her as if she were mocking him. "Just there," he said, pointing his finger at her heart. "Emotions manifest within diverse parts of the body, and you carry tension from past loves mere centimeters from my fingertip. And its root goes deeper still. I had hoped..."

He trailed off and turned silent.

Eyebrows could not possibly go higher upon her face. Confusion had finally struck her silent. After moments she found her tongue once more. "You really are the weird one, aren't you Zsan?" There was no malice, distaste, or anger in there, instead it was astonishment and confusion that filled her voice.

"Story of my life," he quipped. Without missing a beat, he continued. "I apologize if I have been off-putting. Normally I do not apologize for my behavior, but since I fully intend to continue observing you, I feel it necessary to express my preemptive regret for any discomfort it may cause you in the days and weeks to come." His eyes turned turgid. "Understanding you... just might help me understand myself. I do hope that's all right."

Fin shook her head in confusion again, "Do what you need to do, but right now I'm starving and you're between me and a plate of burgers. So either you're coming or I'm eating without you..."

That gave Karna pause. "Just so we're clear... are you formally asking me to dine with you?" Something unfamiliar stirred within the pit of his stomach. "If so, then, yes, I believe I can clear my schedule."

"I am asking you to share a bite to eat as colleagues. No dining, just sharing a meal." Fin shrugged and stepped past Karna towards the mess hall.

Karna smirked. "Colleagues," he repeated with a click of his tongue. He hasted his step to catch up to Fin. "Do you think I'm insane?"

Fin just sighed.

He looked at her askance. "If we're to be colleagues, then we must establish a baseline understanding of one another." Turning to face her head-on, he asked again with added emphasis. "Do you think I am insane?"

"Quite possibly, yes." Fin shrugged finally. "Though chances are a lot of us are unhinged."

Karna cocked his head. "Interesting. Despite your discomfort with me, you nonetheless seek common ground in order for us to better relate. What about me prompts this response?"

"We'll be working together for the foreseeable future. Better to be positive, than risk getting shot in the back because I was being mean." Fin joked, walking away from Karna.

"I would never shoot you in the back," Karna said. He flourished a double shadow knife from his sleeve. "If I choose to kill you, it will be up close, poetic, and with a whisper in your ear--just like with the Romulan interrogator from whom I relieved this knife." Another flourish of the hand made it disappear into his sleeve as fast as it had appeared.

Rushing to catch up to Fin, he turned more cheerful. "So what are they serving today?" he asked with a clap of his hands.

"I believe it's dragon spice noodles." Fin answered, "And if you feel confident you'd be able to take me with a knife we'll need to spar some time." She said with amusement in her voice.

"Oh, please, don't tease me," Karna quipped.




When they reached the mess hall, it was empty save for the unit commander. Karna smiled wide at her, as Leah was one of the other extant souls that he had granted personhood.

"Oh, Leonora, if you wanted the pleasure of my company, you need only ask," Karna said. "No need for coincidental run-ins all the time."

Leah looked up from the PADD she had been reading, "you know me, Karna. As ever, my life revolves around you." She replied in a flat tone, though there was a sliver of a smirk in the corner of her lips.

She then nodded to Chu, "Fin." She said, motioning for them both to join her.

"Miss Chu invited me to dine with her," Karna bragged with waggled brow.

Leah looked from one to the other, "did she now? Should I tell her what she's getting herself into, or would you prefer to?"

"I am an open book!" Karna exclaimed with hands spread wide.

Leah chuckled and took a sip of her tea. "He's not lying...though," she looked over at Fin, "be prepared to know what you really don't want to know."

"When did I ever tell you anything you didn't ask?" Karna challenged. "I'm afraid you're spinning tall tales about me to the lady Finley." Turning his black eyes onto Fin, he grinned. "Don't believe a word she says."

Leah just rolled her eyes in amusement.

Fin gave Karna a long look before looking back to Leah, and finally shrugging. "I'm going to go with Leah's advice on this. You've been plenty odd in the walk here. Something tells me I don't want to deepen that impression more."

"Have you considered for a moment," Karna said slowly, mirth all over his face as he deployed yet another mind game, "that I am the right one and it's the rest of you that are off?" He waggled his brow above his bottomless pits that passed for Betazoid eyes. "Think about it. Never confused, never hesitating, always certain. I just might be the supreme being of the universe. Everyone should be so lucky as to be counted odd like myself. We would never lose."

Leah chuckled, "really, tell us more, oh supreme overlord."

On the odd occasion, Leonora indulged Karna's delusions out of pure entertainment. As a medical professional who was also familiar with psychological defects, such as sociopathy, narcissism and the like, she was keenly aware of what Karna really was. She was also keenly aware of Starfleet Intelligence's use of such a person.

"I am Starfleet's trashman," Karna said plainly. "If everyone took out their own garbage rather than leaving it to pile up for someone else to tend, imagine how clean this galaxy would be."

"Correction, we are all Starfleet's trashmen." Leah supplanted. "Some are more skilled at being the direct to trash heap than others, granted."

Karna grinned. "Now imagine if everyone was as clean and efficient as me."

"Then you wouldn't be special." Leah quipped back.

"Special is one word for it." Fin muttered to herself as she took a seat at the table with her food.

That quip made Karna grin even wider. "You do love me!"

Annoyed by the Betazoid, Fin dug into her food. Anything to keep her from having to engage Karna again.

"Has anyone told you that you chew your food strangely?" Karna asked.

"See what I mean?" Leah chuckled. Part of her was actually fond of Karna, his brutal, even savage honesty. He was also able to hear the same back without fear of feelings getting hurt. Both useful in their line of work and incredibly sad, as he wasn't really capable of feeling any emotion that regular, neuro-typical people could.

A quirked eyebrow was Fin's response, well that, and chewing with her mouth open instead of closed.

"So uncivilized!" Karna exclaimed with mock horror, yet he was still unable to hide his grin.

"Oh for god's sake!" Leah rolled her eyes, having given up now on reading the PADD.

Three more bites cleared Fin's plate. She rose, her mouth still full. "Whell fulks. I'm goin' to the gym." was the closest approximation of Fin's words as she stepped away from the pair. She was already tired of being studied by Karna, it felt truly uncomfortable. And that was something coming from someone who had the pleasure of a SFI debrief after an extended deep-cover mission.

"Was it something I said?" By the width of his grin, it was plain that Karna's question was a rhetorical one. "You people are my tribe now. Always stay true to your tribe. Isn't that the universal truth of every society and civilization?" Looking after Fin as she walked away, Karna shook his head. "Some people have no gratitude."

Leah chuckled softly at that. "Give her time, Karna. Some people need adjustment to your eccentricities." She said as she finished her meal. "I'm proud of you for trying though."

She was indeed.

 

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