Touching of Minds
Convoy of the Damned
Location: XO's Quarters
Timeline: Early that evening
Walking along deck 2, Sara was heading for Bertrand's quarters to continue their discussion in sickbay. Her research into Betazoid physiology had surprised her how robust their neural networks were, even for a telepathic species.
in truth, she was looking forward to this exchange. it wasn't often that she could stretch her telepathic muscles and aquire new information on a Federation species from a first hand source. she also wanted to deal with these feelings she had for the XO. For her, it was strange that she would be attracted to a short lived species, but there was something about him that she couldn't quite put her finger on that just seemed to appeal to her.
Stopping outside the XO's quarters, Sara took a deep breath and tapped the door chime to let him know that she was there.
From inside the door she could here a sudden flurry of activity. thumps and scrapes and muttered curses.
After a moment, the door opened to reveal Bertrand, his face flushed and slightly out of breath.
"Sara! Hi," he tried to compose himself quickly. "I wasn't expecting you so soon. Not that it's a problem... er... come in."
He stepped back and gestured her inside. The room was large, as befits his position, but still seemed bare. There were very few things one would normally associate with a room. Only the standard issue art was on the wall. There were no pictures or other memorabilia, except for a set of service medals.
It was obvious that he had recently tried a rush tidy. A pile of clothes could be seen sticking out of one cupboard where the door hadn't shut properly. dirty plates had been placed in the replicator, but he had forgotten to press the reclaim button, and there were still a range of half drunk cups on the work desk against one wall.
"Can I get you something?" He asked moving to the replicator and hurriedly pressing the reclaim function. "I don't have many guests so..."
"Yes I remember the state of this place the last time I was here. This is a vast improvement" Sara said, giving a wave of her hand towards the clothes sticking out of the cupboard. As she did, a slight wave of blue energy, emanated from her hand and the clothes slid into the cupboard and the cupboard doors shut closed.
"As for a refreshment, I would like some water please" she said, moving over to the couch and sitting down.
"Water, right," Bertrand responded slightly red faced, though whether this was exertion or embarrassment was not quite clear. He brought to large chilled glasses to the table in front of the couch and sat down opposite her.
"Right," he said settling. "I assume you are here for the mind meld, or conscious share, or whatever you call it on your home? How do we proceed?"
Sara smiled, "First step is for you to relax. As a telepath yourself I am sure you know that emotional control is essential for telepathy." She said, taking the glass of water and sipping it, "hmm, the air on this ship is so dry. I do not know how you can withstand it for as long as you do"
"My people were descended from Amphibians, way back," Bertrand admitted. "We developed ways to cope with dry surroundings. Drinking a lot helps."
Bertrand sat on the couch and took a few deep breaths. Emotional control and balance was not his strong suit. He had improved since the loan of the Aulian crystal from his Psych. He reached out for it now and found the soft blue resonance in its case in his room. The effect was like turning off the gas under a pot; his mind began to simmer less and calm.
"Okay," Bertrand breathed out slowly. "Calm. Talk me through it."
He followed Sara's words and motions, allowing the crystal to help him steady his underlying anxiety. Meeting new species was what this was all about, after all.
Feeling his mind suddenly calm, Sara was surprised. Even she would take more time than that to calm her mind and block out other psychic noise. Closing her eyes, Sara took a breath in and reached out to Bertrand's mind, "Relax, Commander. Slow deep breaths. Let go of your physical shell, reach out and grasp the threads that bind us, one to another. Open yourself to the universe. Embrace Eternity" she said, forming the link between their minds
To explain the experience in words is to try and discuss painting colours to a blind man. For a time there was no Bertrand and no Sara, but a union mind which was able to wander through a shared history. Time unfolded and the past was as vivid as the present. Perhaps a little too vivid.
This was a meld meant for two, and Sara had not been told about the presence of the Aulian crystal. She could not have known how it amplifies and stabilizes a psychic activity. Perhaps if she did, she could have compensated for it. All they were aware of was that it was hard to find the present moment, the time when both were sitting on the couch in a room.
Two physical shells waiting to be filled.
Bertrand felt the physical body coalesce around him. He became aware of his breathing, and the feel of the couch. He let out a slow breath and opened his eyes.
For a moment he thought he was looking straight into a mirror. There was his own face looking back at him in surprise.
Then something rang in his ears... silence. He could no longer hear the minds of others. He leapt up in horror. What had happened to everyone on the shi...
The figure of Bertrand remained sitting on the couch looking at him.
"Wha... What's going on?" he formed the words with his mouth, but it was Sara's voice that spoke.
Hearing her own voice speak, Sara opened her eyes to see herself standing across from her. What was going on, were they still in her mental space? Opening her mouth to speak, Sara was suddenly flooded with the thoughts and feelings of everyone on the ship. It was like a noisy room dialed up to eleven. Quickly putting her hands up to her head, Sara tried to shut them out.
“Enough, I cannot handle the noise” she said, curling up in pain.
While Bertrand didn't understand what was going on, he recognized the symptoms in the doppleganger in front of him. It was common in teen Betazoids as they came into puberty and the full strength of their powers. He knelt quickly next to the figure forcing the head up to look at him. He found he was unusually clear headed and calm, but not able to project thoughts. Still he focused on being as calm and centered as he could.
"Look at me," He commanded, the strange voice taking his words and his now gentle blue hands forcing the grizzled face towards him. "Look at me and focus on me. There are other noises, I know. It is like a crowd at a party. If you focus, you can concentrate on just one conversation. So listen to me. look at my face and listen to my thoughts above the others. You can do this."
Doing as instructed, Sara did her best to push out everything else and focus on the figure before her, she wasn’t sure what had happened but she knew two things for certain, she was starring at herself and this was not her body. Starting to take more regular breaths, Sara relaxed as the multitude of voices seemed to quiet down until only one voice was left. Bertrand’s voice.
Bertrand heard the breathing settle. he was uncomfortable at not being able to read the person's mind. Was this an Android? Where were all the other minds on the ship. He pushed the thoughts back to stay focused on this... figure.
"Do you know who you are and where you are?"
“I am Sara’draphia T’eseri, Chief of Medicine onboard the USS Victory. I am currently sitting in Commander Cuprum’s quarters” Sara responded, as a few more pieces started to fall into place for her, “and I assume you are somehow Bertrand. Are we still in your mental space?”
"I really doubt it," Bertrand tried to gruff, but coming out in Sara's voice it just sounded petulant. "Is this a by-product of the meld? Did something go wrong?"
"I am not curtain, I have never heard of this happening before" Sara replied
"Okay, we need to get to Medical," Bertrand said, instinctively offering a hand to help the other up. However, he was not as strong in this body and when Bertrand tried to pull Sara up, he suddenly found himself falling forward and instinctively reached out to stop himself hitting the floor.
Next thing he knew there was a blue flash and he was sailing across the room. He hit the wall heavily, and landed in a pile.
When he got his breath back he managed, "I am guessing that was part of your abilities? That 'pushing things with your mind' trick?"
"Correct, you have just experienced a biotic field. I recommend you attempt to keep your movements to a minimal until we can figure out what has happened," Sara said, standing up. As she did, she realised how stark the difference in their heights was.
"Minimal movements, right," Cuprum muttered. "It seems we are going to get very acquainted with each other's... well... bodies. I am not sure if there are any social taboos among your people about bodies, but my people have very few. just... be careful with the right arm. It's a lot stronger than it feels."
He walked gingerly to the door. His normal stomping gate didn't work in this body anyway, which was slender and subtle.
As they stepped out of Cuprum's room a junior engineer walked past and nodded to them.
"Commander," he said.
"Ensign," Cuprum replied instinctively, only to have the Ensign glance at him in confusion and move on.
Bertrand looked at his former body, "Let's get to medical before we bump into one of the senior officers and have to try and explain."
"I believe that is a wise choice." Sara replied, leading the way toward sickbay. She was still trying to think of how this could be possible. She'd never heard of something like this before. Perhaps the Starfleet medical database might have some clue for them.