Picking up the Pieces
Location: U.S.S. Poseidon; Lt. Freya's Quarters, Deck 4
Timeline: Day 000 - 1345 Hours
Tags: Post-Departure, Post-Fighter Incident, Mirror Universe
"Computer, time." Kana spoke with a tinge of frustration as she began making her way in the turbolift down towards Deck Four. Now that the investigation into the unfortunate demise of Lieutenant Pavan was coming to a swift conclusion thanks to the crew's hard work, the Chief Counsellor was able to feel ready to depart from the still mourning Lieutenant Shannon. As much as it felt wrong to do so, she couldn't keep the scenes she had witnessed earlier - Lieutenant Freya being escorted to her quarters - at the back of her mind any longer.
"The time is: Thirteen-Forty-Five Hundred Hours." The computer answered her. She signed and rubbed her eyes; the day was still far from over, and yet it had felt like an age since it had started. Not the way that she - or anyone else, for that matter - had expected the day to go. Even she, as stoic and determined as she was, couldn't help but feel a little exhausted from everything that had happened. Yet still she had to press on.
The turbolift doors opened and, straightening her posture, she made her way down the corridor towards Lieutenant Freya's Quarters. As she rounded the corner, she immediately noted the stature of the Commodore in the corner of her eye. Instinctively she stopped dead in her tracks and peddled back, having just avoided from walking out into his sight. Peering carefully around the corner, she watched as he left Lieutenant Freya's quarters. Her eyes widened. "What is he doing here?" She thought with growing concern. Having observed Freya's apprehensiveness towards him in the past, she had to try and not fear the worst.
It was then that she realized what she was doing: spying on a senior officer. Definitely not something she had ever imagined she would be doing, especially on this ship. "It was all meant to be so routine..." - Whatever feelings of guilt she had for doing what she was doing, she couldn't turn back now. Frustrated since the beginning of the day that she felt out of the loop, in the interests of her duty to the wellbeing of the crew, she was determined to find out what was going on.
Waiting for the Commodore to disappear out of sight, she straightened her jacket and the Vulcan overcoat she was still wearing, and approached Lieutenant Freya's door. She heard the chime ring from within.
Freya was sipping the second glass of the Romulan Ale, deep in thought about the meeting with Commodore Paladin she had just had. And what an unexpected course that meeting had taken - not only had she been wrong in her assumptions about Paladin, he had turned out to be a potential ally.
Her thoughts were interrupted after a mere moment when the door chime went off once again. "Oh great, another one", she muttered to herself as she called "Come in!" to authorise the computer to admit her latest visitor.
Stepping inside, the Chief Counsellor had to take a moment to observe the scene in front of her. Most striking immediately to her was that the Lieutenant's uniform had changed, to one that seemed recognisable yet was nothing commissioned by Starfleet, though she had kept the standard commbadge. Also noticeable was her return to blue as opposed to the red of her official station. Her hair was different. To top it all off, she was in possession of what appeared to be a sabre, currently resting on her table. "This day just keeps getting better and better..."
"Lieutenant." Kana started firmly, choosing not to comment on any of the new features immediately. "I would've come to speak with you sooner, but as I'm sure you've been made aware by now, events transpired that required my attention. May I join you?"
Freya nodded. "Of course, counsellor, do take a seat. May I offer you a drink?"
"No, thank you. I still have duties to attend to after this." Kana rejected the offer as politely as she could as she took a seat. Crossing her legs and holding her hands together, she looked directly into the Lieutenant's eyes. "So, care to tell me what happened this morning?"
"Turns out, a case of mistaken identity, and a bit of an overreaction by the Commander, if I may say so," Freya responded. "I talked it out with Commodore Paladin, and it turns out that he is not the person I believed he may be. And trust me, counsellor, that is for the benefit of every single person on this ship."
"Mistaken identity? Not the person she thought he was?" Kana noted in her mind. These would be points of clarification in a moment, but first she wanted an answer to her original question.
"That doesn't answer my question, Lieutenant." Kana answered simply, seemingly unphased by what else Freya had said. "What happened this morning on the Bridge which caused you to be brought here - under escort - to your quarters? Then we can judge whether the Commander's response was an 'overreaction'." If it wasn't already obvious to Freya, the Chief Counsellor was not best pleased, though she still maintained a common level of politeness.
Freya sighed. "I take it you did not receive a report of the events then. I had a short 'episode', if you would like to call it thus, triggered by my realisation of Commodore Paladin's presence. The Commander asked if there was an issue, I replied that there was not. He did not believe me and summoned me to his ready room for after the shift, I reiterated that there was no issue, and then he accused me of subordination and threw me off the bridge." She shrugged. "Pretty clear overreaction as far as I am concerned, especially the part with the escort if you ask me. I have no interest in harming this ship or anyone on it, why would I? I have since discussed the matter with the Commodore himself and established, as I said, that it had been a case of mistaken identity."
The Chief Counsellor listened intently, and once the Lieutenant had finished let out a small sigh. Looking away for a moment as if in thought, she then turned her attention back to Freya and continued. "When we were considering whether to appoint you to Chief Flight Control Officer, both the Commander and I were convinced that what you may have lacked in experience would be outweighed by your professionalism and dedication to your post. It's disappointing to hear that - on our very first embarkation - this is already having to come into question."
She paused for a brief second, allowing the seriousness of her words to carry across the table, before continuing again. "You are a Senior Officer now, Lieutenant. More importantly you are the Chief Flight Control Officer; all those below you and around you on the Bridge look to you as an example of what they should be and how they should act in important moments. Answering back to the Commander when he had asked for the issue to be resolved at a more pertinent time is not an example to set to the rest of the crew, particularly on our very first departure. Did he overreact? Perhaps. Were you still out of line? Yes."
Another pause, her deep black eyes now piercing into Freya's, though not entirely with anger; more disappointment, and sadness. "Disagreeing with the Commander is one thing, but disrespecting his authority - in a moment where he needed you most - is another, and not something I will allow you to just shrug off. If this is how you are going to behave, am I to take this as an indication that we should look elsewhere for a Chief Flight Control Officer?"
Freya shook her head. "It was a case of mistaken identity. It will not happen again." She shrugged. "That is really all I can say about it."
Kana thought for a moment, reading both Freya's body language and her emotions without going so far as to read her mind. She could sense the utter exhaustion, and the general heightened sense of concern she had. While she was appearing very uncaring, it was truer still that she cared very deeply. That was not something the Chief Counsellor ever doubted, but she needed to make the point to the Lieutenant that these things couldn't just go unchecked. "I believe you." She said, "I give you my word that I will be giving the Commander a similarly frank discussion, too. You understand why I must do the same with you, however."
She let time pass for a few seconds, before she decided to finally broach the obvious. "So, this new uniform of yours; care to tell me about it?"
Freya paused for a moment, before reaching into her pocket and pulling out her Terran badge and holding it out to Kana. "I think this explains it, provided you know what this is."
Kana glanced at the object that Freya held out to her. "This must've been the special trinket she held onto back when I first met her in the Officers' Lounge. What is it?" She took it and observed it closely. It was a comm-badge, that much was obvious, but it was one she had never seen before: it was shaped like a dagger, apart from the round visage of what appeared to be Earth at the centre.
"I must admit, Lieutenant, I'm completely at a loss. Care to tell me where it comes from?" The Chief Counsellor glanced back at Freya, a look of genuine curiosity on her face.
"Now where do I begin." Freya paused and pondered for a moment. Finally, she decided to drop the biggest bombshell right away. "Lieutenant, junior grade, Freya Svanirsdottir did not survive the destruction of the U.S.S. Cromwell in the Badlands. And I was never on that ship. I was somewhere else entirely. Tell me, Counsellor, have you ever heard of what is apparently called the "mirror universe"?" She snorted. "At least that is what it's called in this universe. We obviously just call it the universe."
For a moment, Kana was completely unsure of how to respond. The phrase "Mirror Universe" was not unknown to her, but her only encounter with it had been rumours and hearsay that passed around through the cadets in the Academy, something which she had never thought to pay much mind. She encountered it again during her tour of duty on the U.S.S. Ganymede - one of the scientists under her care seemed overly obsessed with the idea, to the point of mania - but then she just put that down to a case of extreme paranoia. She could not help but show a flicker of a smile and let out the slightest chuckle, but that quickly dissipated as she looked deeper into Freya's eyes and felt no sense of misdirection from her. The Lieutenant seemed wholly serious in what she said.
"I have heard of it, yes, but only in spooky stories for freshmen at the Academy and then in bits and pieces during my service. Most, myself included, dismiss it as nothing more than a conspiracy theory. But I'm to take it from the seriousness in which you're telling me this that this is not the case?" The Lieutenant Commander maintained her composure despite struggling to believe what she was being told.
Freya couldn't help but laugh. The Terran Empire a mere conspiracy theory? Oh, if only. "I am afraid it is true, Counsellor. All of it. If it wasn't, I would not exist. You may have noticed that I always wear these slightly tinted glasses? Well, the one physiological difference between people from my universe and yours is that we are somewhat sensitive to bright light, as our universe is generally somewhat darker. That is also why generally, the lighting in my quarters is dimmed, and I dimmed my console on the bridge."
She paused for a moment to add some gravity to her next words. "I am an officer of the Sovereign Terran Empire. I was assigned to the ISS Cromwell on a pirate-hunting mission in the Badlands when the ship was destroyed. I was the only survivor, and thrown into this universe - where I found that the ship's counterpart had also been destroyed, with all hands lost. I was rescued by the Edinburgh, debriefed, and assumed by late counterpart's place on this crew."
The Chief Counsellor was baffled. None of this sounded possible, and yet Freya's delivery of the story showed no signs of being an attempt at misleading her. If she were in a brighter mood, Kana might have considered this to be some sort of rib; yet with the day that everyone was having, it didn't feel possible that this could be the case. Taking a moment to consider the implications of what she was being told, Kana placed her mouth in her hands as she sat there in thought for a few moments. "Goddamnit Gregory - who have you brought on board? What are you getting us all into?"
"So this...case of mistaken identity." Kana cleared her throat, "If I'm to assume what you're telling me is all true, which I must admit I still find hard to wrap my head around, are you saying that you mistook the Commodore for his...'mirror' self?"
Freya was silent for a moment before responding. "Yes. Commodore Gregory Paladin is a horrible man. But that is not the man we have on this ship. He has proven that to me. The details I will leave between him and me, but I have no doubt that he is not the one I thought he was."
"I will get answers from Gregory; this has gone too far already." Kana thought to herself with a tinge of frustration. She was already beginning to grow tired of the secrets and the false truths; it was counter to her Betazoid upbringing. Perhaps the strain of what had happened earlier in the day was exacerbating her feelings towards the issue, but that didn't cross her mind immediately. She would have to take the time to reflect on it later; for now, she needed to at least do what she could to return the ship to some form of normalcy. If that ever existed in the first place.
Nodding as to show respect to Freya's wishes not to dive into any further details - though both she and Kana knew they'd have to be revisited eventually - the Chief Counsellor decided to finally acknowledge the other stand-out feature of the room. "The katana you have there, I suppose that came from this 'mirror universe' as well? I remember you saying how it was important to hold onto things from the past."
Freya nodded. "It's a family heirloom, given to an ancestor of mine in the mid-20th century. He was a Field Marshal, leading the combined German, Finnish and Japanese forces that ended the Second Great War on the Eastern Front when he took the city of Yakutsk and captured the last of the enemy leaders. Of course, history played out very differently in this universe."
"Quite." Kana responded. She knew enough about Earth history to be aware of what events Freya was referring to, though they did indeed play out very differently. Already the image in her mind of this supposed 'Mirror Universe' was turning out to be quite dark, and not just in the literal sense that the Lieutenant had explained. Did this mean that all the events that occurred in this universe had the opposite outcome in the other? The thought was one she quickly dismissed, not wanting to imagine what might be of Betazed if certain events had played out in a very different way to how she had experienced.
"Does the Quartermaster know of all these possessions? What of the Commander?" The Chief Counsellor enquired calmly, settling to at least deal with what she could comprehend right now. The rest would have to wait, as burning as her desire for further answers was.
Freya knew what this question was aimed at. "The Commander, as far as I am aware, knows nothing about who I really am. And for the time being, that will stay that way. And the quartermaster? She has never asked. I don't normally have them out on display."
She stood, and walked over to the replicator, returning a moment later with a pot of fresh, green tea and two cups. "May I offer you a refreshment, Counsellor?", she asked, and poured a cup of tea for her without waiting for a response. Kana's taste for green tea had become common knowledge on the ship. "I may not be a Federation Starfleet officer, but I was fully briefed. Command structure is nearly identical, and I have found it fairly simple to fit in so far. This morning was a blip. But it has shown me one thing. I should stop pretending to be someone I am not."
Freya paused, and took a sip of her tea. "There is only one issue. That of my sister and grandfather. Or rather, this universe's Freya's. I have not found it within me to contact them. I do not know how they would react." She stared into her cup for a moment, silently. "I miss my little sister, Counsellor. I will probably never see her again. She probably thinks I died. And for all intents and purposes, as far as that universe goes, that's almost true."
Kana could not help but chuckle as Freya produced and poured her some green tea. Clearly the ship had already started to take notice. It wasn't unwelcome; she hadn't had anything more to drink since the early hours of that morning, and it was hard to ignore that she was becoming a little parched. After everything that had happened, she did need some sort of refreshment to at least be able to relax, even for a brief moment. "Thank you, Lieutenant." She took one of the cups and with a few gentle blows to help cool the beverage, took a mouthful.
She wasn't surprised to learn that the Commander didn't know, that was what she had automatically assumed. As for the Quartermaster, it was certainly possible that she was unaware, though Kana had taken note of Sydney's referring to Freya as her only real friend, and the young officer's strong reaction to seeing the Chief Flight Control Officer under security escort earlier in the day. They had also previously shared a quarters together; even if they hadn't been on display before now, Kana found it hard to believe that Sydney's now well-recognised penchant for being on top of everything in her remit would let some unregistered cases slide without question, since something of that nature couldn't be hid easily. Yet these were only assumptions for the time being.
"If you're as clued in to the Command Structure as you say you are, then you know I can't simply ignore the fact that you are in possession of items which, by either your deception or otherwise, should not be here on this ship. However," The Chief Counsellor continued, the emphasis on the word 'however' very clear. Kana was speaking with a much more relaxed tone then she was earlier, as if she had switched from being the Second Officer back to her role as a Counsellor.
"If you are intent on putting this morning's events behind us, which I do believe is the case, then this is how I propose we move forward: I will speak to the Commander about these various personal effects of yours. Due to their significance to your person, I would be willing to vogue for your right to keep them. In return however, I would like us to meet with the Commander to rectify the strain on your professional relationship; furthermore, whatever the circumstances of your origins may be, it's clear to me now that all of these personal effects tie-in with what I've identified as being significant traumas in your life. I would like us to be able to address those together, in time."
She took another mouthful of her tea and savoured the taste as she allowed Freya to consider her proposition. As she did so, Kana addressed her other point. "I would refrain from trying to contact them, for now. If everything you've told me is true, then the reality is that they're not your sister or grandparent, at least not really. If your reaction to the Commodore was anything to go by, I'd be concerned as to the outcome an encounter with them might go, even if the circumstances are much different. We shall need to prepare you for that occurrence, should it come to happen."
The Chief Counsellor was somewhat bemused that she was beginning to play along with the 'Mirror Universe' story, but if it helped to get Freya talking and bridged some sort of understanding between the two, whatever the truth was would be established in time.
Freya nodded slowly. "Yes, I don't think I am ready to see Sora. As for speaking to the Commander, I believe it may be best to address that matter with Commodore Paladin. He is very much aware of my origin, and we actually have some shared acquaintances. As for my sword, I am prepared to go quite far to keep it in my possession. However, for now, I am willing to follow your protocols and procedures." She finished her cup of tea and grinned. "Ironic. Green tea is a very popular drink at the Imperial Court. Understandable, considering it is partly descended from what once was the Japanese Empire."
Kana smirked a little. "Well, at least it sounds like they have some taste." She took another sip. "I actually intend to speak to the Commodore and the Commander together shortly, so that works just as well. I've known for a while that the Commodore was responsible for all of our presences here, the designs of which I'm still not sure. I'm sure we're all likely to learn in time, I myself am just not a fan of unexpected surprises."
Taking another moment to reflect, the Chief Counsellor then thought she'd take the opportunity to ask one final question. "Speaking of Lieutenant Allen: she confided in me that she considers you one of her only friends. The two of you have become quite close already, I take it?"
Freya hesitated for a moment, before nodding. "That is one way you could put it, yes. Why do you ask?"
Kana raised an eyebrow, and gave another smirk. "Am I to take it that there's something serious, Lieutenant? I ask as I take an active interest in the lives of my fellow crewmates, particularly those under my care. I think it's a wonderful thing, and even if you are just friends - or not sure at the moment - I'm happy for you both."
The Lieutenant shrugged. "Honestly, I am not sure what it is. I've not seen her since this morning, and I have no idea how she might react to my... transformation. We will see." With the last of the tea drunk, Freya stood. "Now, is there anything else? It has been an eventful day so far, and there are a few things I need to take care of. Not least the question of uniform."
"I'm sure she's mostly just concerned for you and your well-being right now. When you have the chance, I do recommend talking to her. She'll want to know you're okay." Kana smiled reassuringly. "Besides, I think the haircut suits you. Though maybe I'm biased." She winked, acknowledging the fact that she also had short black hair.
Finishing her green tea, she placed the cup down gently on the table and stood. "As for the uniform, I see that as being the least difficult to justify. With a few very minor alterations, some of which I see you've begun to make, " She referred to her having already pinned her Federation badge. "I'm sure it'll be acceptable."
Getting ready to leave, she stopped herself. "Oh! I suppose you'll want this back." She opened her opposite hand and revealed the Terran badge which she had kept hold of all this time. Placing it in Freya's hands, she then placed one on the Lieutenant's shoulder. "Thank you for allowing me to have this conversation with you, Lieutenant. There will be many stressful days like this in the future, but we'll be better and stronger for it when we work together. I'll arrange for us to have a proper counselling session once we're underway and things are running smoother; in the meantime, I'll be in touch about the Commander."
This encounter had not gone in any way how Kana had imagined it would, but despite the baffling revelation that the 'Mirror Universe' may indeed be a real entity, the Chief Counsellor was growing to appreciate the deeper complexities of the Chief Flight Control Officer's character. Despite the events of today, the conversation they had renewed some of her faith in the idea that Lieutenant Freya Svanirsdottir might just be up for the task after all.