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THE Answer to THE Question

Posted on Wed Jun 1st, 2022 @ 9:05am by Lieutenant Sophie Xiong & Siany ZyMach

Mission: S1E5: Symphony of Horror
Location: A semi-secure room somewhere on the station
Timeline: Before Current Mission

BACKPOST- shortly after “The Sorrow of Lin An”

Since Sophie had some spare time, she decided to take Lt. Commander Qiao’s advice and see what sort of clearance she had and what she could examine. Perusing through the database, she chose some random artifact and looked over the file. There was prescious little there. Nothing about what it did or how it worked. Only that it was Telino in origin and anybody who wanted to could check it out, provided no more than two other people had opened it in the past month. Weird, but whatever. She requested access and got an immediate response that a representative of the owner of said artifact would have to be present and she would be notified when it was ready.

That was also weird. A representative of the owner? Was that normal? She had no idea, but decided to just go with it. In the meantime, she continued looking through the files.

It was maybe twenty minutes later that she recieved a response. The representative and the artifact were ready. In a secured room. Was that normal? She had no idea about that, either.

“Whatever,” she muttered, and asked the computer for directions.

The computer led her to a part of the station that she didn’t even know existed. Nobody seemed to be around, but the lights were on and the steady hum of electrical systems filled the coridors. Her foot steps felt intrusive in the quiet and she subconsciously attempted to walk more quietly. When she finally arrived at the room in question, the doors opened to reveal a smallish room with a table, a single chair, and a somber looking blond who looked very familiar.

“Aren’t you the bartender?” Sophie asked.

“Siany ZyMach, yes,” replied Siany. “And also official representative of the Queen of Yegorah. I’m here to make sure that,” she said, nodding to the artifact on the table, “isn’t mistreated or damaged.”

Sophie looked over the artifact. It was an elongated pyramid that reminded her of the old-style, pendulum metronomes that people used to sit on top of pianos, except this one had no discernable openings nor a key to wind it. “Is there a reason we have to be in the middle of nowhere to examine it?” she asked, turning back to the bartender. “It seems like if security were in question, it would require a higher clearance level.”

“It’s more to keep too many people from viewing it at once,” replied Siany. “As it is, I won’t be watching it at all. I don’t need to; I’ve already used it.”

“What does it do?” asked Sophie, abruptly turning her attention to the artifact. “The file was unclear.”

“We aren’t completely sure,” answered Siany. “But, there is a theory. Even so, we don’t like to tell you before you use it. We find it is less effective if you know what to expect.”

“Is this going to kill me?” demanded Sophie, alarmed.

At this, Siany let out a sudden bark of laguhter, but quelled it quickly at Sophie’s glare. “Sorry,” she said. “No. As I said, I’ve used it. And I am very much alive.”

“Touché,” agreed Sophie, again turning her attention to the artifact. Mea Taulima it was called. Which didn’t mean anything to Sophie. She didn’t speak Telino.

“Any help opening it?” Sophie asked.

“Sorry,” answered Sophie. “I don’t know how.”

“I thought you said you’d used it!”

“I have,” confirmed Siany. “But I don’t remember how it works. It’s been awhile. And I’ve only used it once.”

“Mhm,” replied Sophie, returning her attention to the device. “Likely story. If I have to figure it out myself, you could just say that. I like puzzles.” She picked up the small device and turned it over. There didn’t seem to be any opening that she could see. She turned it all around, looking very closely at every square milimeter of it, but saw nothing.

After several minutes, She set it on the table in front of her again. She chewed on her lip for a few minutes, then picked it up and tried tugging on the top of it, but to no avail. She tried pulling on the sides, trying to find a crack or hole of some sort. Nothing.

Finally, she set it down again and frowned at it. She didn’t know how long she sat frowning at it, as if that would somehow make it open, but finally, she pushed it away from herself. “Forget it,” she said, unsure why she was giving up so easily, only knowing that the thing suddenly made her very angry. “I have no idea what this is supposed to do.”

“But,” said Siany, “you already opened it.”

“No I didn’t,” countered Sophie hotly. “I tried, but there doesn’t seem to be an opening.”

“Everybody forgets,” muttered Siany. “Everybody who opens it,” she said louder, “forgets that they have done so. But, just like everyone else, you opened it, stared inside for several minutes, closed it, stared at it for several more minutes, and then pushed it away from yourself, just like everybody else does.”

Sophie blinked. She didn’t know how, but somehow, this seemed like the truth. As if she trusted that Siany would never lie. But that didn’t make a lot of sense because she had only met the other woman once. “Why do I know that’s true?” she asked quietly, staring at the device.

“Because you’ve looked inside,” answered Sophie. With a sigh, she pushed herself off the wall where she had been leaning and crossed to the table. “We believe that it answers one burning question,” she explained. “Something we may not even realize we wanted to know. And after we’ve gazed into the depths of the Mea Taulima, we have the answer. But we don’t remmember either the question or the answer. Instead, we behave as if we’ve always known the truth. Without really knowing what the truth is, except on a subconscious level, we do what we would have done if we’d known the truth all along.”

Sophie now glared at the device. “Is that why I’m so angry?” she asked.

Siany winced. “Probably,” she admitted.

“Do you know what question it answered for you?” asked Sophie, attempting to distract herself from the rolling anger that had suddenly overtaken her.

“Not difinitively, no,” anwered Siany. “But, I’ve thought long and hard about it. After I used it, I was suddenly carefree and cheerful. I hadn’t realized how somber I had been before until my sister and brothers commented on the change. I felt free. Like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.” She paused. “I think,” she continued slowly, “that my burning question was ‘will I ever be Queen?’ I had never realized how much the thought that I’d have to take over stressed me out for my whole life. But, after using the Mea Taulima, I believe the answer it gave me was ‘no.’ And that thought took all the burden off me.” She grinned. “And it means that my sister is going to do just fine. Which is something I’ve worried about a bit more consciously. She’s so concerned that she’ll make a mess of it, she’s transfered some of the worry onto me. But I digress,” she sighed with a shake of her head. “Maybe thinking about what would make you angry-”

“And depressed,” quipped Sophie, now feeling even more about whatever answer to whatever question she’d had.

“And depressed,” repeated Siany somberly. “Maybe if you can discover what would bother you this much, you’ll know your question- and the answer.”

Sophie nodded. She stared at the Mea Taulima for a minute longer, then with a sigh, stood back up. “Thank you,” she said tersely. Though she didn’t sound grateful, she actually was. “If I have any more questions…”

“Just pop into my bar,” replied Siany with a sympathetic smile.

Sophie nodded, then abruptly turned to leave. She had a lot of thinking to do.

Except when she got back to her quarters, all she could do was cry. She hadn’t cried since she was a child, but here she was bawling her eyes out over something she didn’t even know.

What had that thing told her?


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