|Zaliel looks back over the last few years
|Zaliel discusses her challenges working with the Kit
|Zaliel reflects on First Contact with the Kit, their journey home, and Starfleet’s new directive to allow children and families on exploratory vessels like the Brahe
|Zaliel confronts her feelings about the return of Holo Robin Monroe
|Captain Zaliel Sel
When I sit down and try to think about all the things that happened over the last year, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. Hell, the last five months are enough to guarantee a counselor’s job for at least a decade. Where to start?
There was the near-affair with an admiral. I mean, Marc doesn’t think it counts, but in a way, I feel as though I was at least emotionally unfaithful. It started so innocently, right? One dinner led to another almost each week until—well, until he reminded me that the security I felt in that budding relationship was as unsteady as what I already had with Marc. So many colleagues warned me: don’t marry a civilian. That it’ll only end in heartbreak. We came close, then we came together, and now we’re apart again. But, I’m getting ahead of things.
After leaving Deep Space 13 and all the baggage that went along with being attached to a permanent installation, the Brahe was put in for major refits. Marc and I used this time to reconnect which we needed badly. The refit was a major effort. It was nice to turn Chief Engineer Zolwink loose on the effort and let her just work. She really did inspire me at times and watching her coordinate and manage this refit gave me ample time to reflect on the decades-long hostility between us which began the second I officially took command of the Brahe. I didn’t realize it was the last refit she would be alive to see.
A few months after the refit had been completed, we set out for a deep-space assignment. Shortly after leaving the Federation, we encountered an unusual subspace anomaly. With the USS Shackleton’s assistance, we attempted to rescue a freighter believed to be trapped inside. The Shackleton would go on to complete that mission while the Brahe was pulled into the past by my Chief Engineer. There, Commander Zolwink attempted to kill me in the damaged engineering section of the Brahe from 2409. Instead, she was killed by her past self. When my ship and I returned to 2420, it was without the Chief Engineer. I find myself constantly looking back at what happened and trying, desperately, to find a different path we could have taken. I still don’t have an answer.
Another major repair later and we set out to further investigate the anomaly—to check that the warning beacons were still in position and that no other ships had encountered it. That’s when we were pulled into a strange corridor. When we returned to normal space, we were over a hundred-fifty lightyears from our previous position. Shortly thereafter, we encountered the Kit. Ensign Abrams compiled the initial report. My impressions of the Kit are that they are an intelligent, ritualistic people who only recently discovered warp travel. My hope is that we can continue to enjoy peaceful relations with their society long after the Brahe has departed.
I guess those are the highlights. Until then, I guess it is…oh, god, two in the morning? I’m going to pay for that in four hours. Computer, end log.
|Captain Zaliel Sel
|Captain’s Quarters (audio only)
I’m getting out of the habit of creating these logs. When you make a First Contact, it’s all you can really think about. Paperwork be damned, I want to keep watching their soap operas—purely out of anthropological interest, of course—and listen to their music. The Kit are no exception. Their dramas, comedies, and music are all riveting. I wish I could write how well the contact has gone and that I’m a few kilos heavier for sampling their delicious meals.
But, it hasn’t all been fun. Shortly after our initial contact with the Kit government, we started observing increased agitation among the labor and male suffrage movements, pushing the largely conservative government to adapt to a political scheme more accommodating to Federation ideals. It’s worth saying that the Kit were already going through something of a social revolution when we arrived. How much influence our presence has had will be a matter of debate for Kit historians at a later date. My impression is that we managed to just stumble into it.
After meeting with President Nah’hala’s representatives aboard the Brahe (Jara, Marsek, and Parsa K’mnzi), they established themselves quickly as helpful and inquisitive. While the Matron Jara K’mnzi remained somewhat acerbic, both Marsek and Parsa become a frequent sight in the laboratories and common areas. I wish I had joined them more, but my duties and conversations with Nah’hala occupied most of my time. The Kit President is remarkably easy to talk to. I’d probably call her “down to earth,” if the phrase means anything for a species who actually lives most of their lives underground.
I sent Commander Vance and Doctor Riox to the surface to meet Grand Matriarch B’da K’mnzi (that surname keeps showing up), one of their two heads of state. I chose them for many professional reasons, but ultimately, I’m forced to realize my own insecurities kept me from going to the Sunlit Temple. I could say that it was all the things that B’da represented or that it was calculated posturing. At the end of the day, I look at myself in the mirror and am forced to confront the fact that I failed myself—if not the mission. My only hope is that Kass doesn’t blame herself for what came next.
President Nah’hala invited the Brahe crew to participate in the Kit’s main sport: t’q-zhm, or “Rock Toss.” Though B’da was reportedly spurned by my refusal to meet with her in the Temple (it should be noted that I attempted to negotiate several other venues, but she refused), there was no indication that any greater hostilities would occur. So, when the appointed day came to view Rock Toss, the Senior Staff and I piled into Robin and flew to the surface.
Honestly, it was amazing fun and meeting Nah’hala for the first time—I genuinely wanted to embrace her—it was probably the best first contact mission I had ever participated in. Anyways, we get to the box seats, sit, watch the game. The actual game was relatively short by some standards—maybe an hour long, including the commercials and half-time event.
The event had just ended (the home team, the Burrow Boulders) won in a last-second victory (really an astounding game) when the room seemed to explode. I actually think someone either planted or threw concussion grenades into the room. Regardless, the next thing I knew I was fighting off a splitting headache when B’da and some guards entered the room. They must have stabbed Horace with a spear (I would know this until after the fact) while we were all incapacitated. B’da and Jara exchanged some words. I tried to intercede to put that grand old Starfleet Diplomacy at work when B’da ordered one of her guards to shot me.
Which she did.
I’m fuzzy on the personal details after that. I remember falling to the floor and hearing a lot of shouting. After what felt like an eternity, I was beamed to the Brahe’s sickbay where the medical team saved my life. Since then, I’ve been sequestered in either the sickbay or my quarters. I’m still recovering, but I feel that, if anything, my mental health has taken the hardest hit. I keep going over it in my head: did I do it? Did I piss B’da off so bad she felt the only option was to kill me? Jara and Nah’hala warned me that Kit politics were complicated. Maybe I should have given B’da the same attention as I gave Nah’hala, but B’da wouldn’t return calls whereas Nah’hala was on the line for hours every day. She wanted to know as much about us as I could share—and not about our technology, like so many Academy instructors warned. She wanted to know about our culture. Our advancements in equality, in social programs, and how we helped make those things a reality.
Can I be blamed for leaning on the leader who wanted to speak with me? I suppose, as the Captain, I can be blamed for anything. But, I feel, if anyone had spent as much time with the Kit as I have, they would find them a rich, intelligent, and communal people—some noteworthy exceptions aside.
As I sit in my quarters and watch the Brig footage of B’da in the holding cell, I am trying to understand the woman who tried to kill us. I’m trying to understand her motivations. They don’t make sense. Kass, Parsa, and now Tri’a (the computer is still analyzing the Kit sign language, which we have pathetically little data on) have each independently seen B’da, but each interaction leaves me with more questions than answers.
Another trip to the planet is warranted, but in my condition that would be impossible. I’ll give it some thought, but I think Tom and Kass will have to take the lead on this one. Now, I am out of tea and tired. Maybe a thirteen-hour catnap will help. I haven’t done that in years—if Amanda knew she would be livid!—but no, I think it would be better to leave those skeletons for another night.
|Captain Zaliel Sel
With the help of the Kit and our own Commander Vance, the Brahe was able to properly detect and transverse the subspace corridor which first dropped us on the outskirts of the Rhak’t system. The return journey was far more stable and better reflected the journey Doctor Riox had: a narrow corridor populated with stellar debris.
The journey was short and otherwise uneventful. Our current understanding of the corridor best matches the “Underspace,” first identified by the USS Voyager many decades ago. If that’s the case, it would be the first of such corridors in the Beta Quadrant—at least to my knowledge.
To further expand our understanding of Kit culture—and to help heal the physical and emotional wounds caused by our near-disastrous first contact—I have agreed to take on three Kit: Parsa and Tri’a K’mnzi, and Sa’Ren Sk’llian. Parsa and Sa’Ren are scientists and researchers. Tri’a is…complicated. We’re trying to find a spot for her, but she may just be a…civilian.
That brings me to some serendipitous news: once we crossed the barrier and entered normal space, we intercepted a number of still-inbound communications. Aside from the typical updates on Starfleet protocol (thank goodness they didn’t change the uniform again!) was the one concerning families and civilians on exploratory and defensive Starfleet vessels.
We’re adding them again. While the Brahe can accommodate a limited number of civilians, they were required to hold some job, like a scientist. Under the new policy, we can (and are expected to) accommodate a limited number of non-Starfleet personnel, including children.
I like kids well enough. But, to my knowledge, no child has ever set foot on the Brahe, let alone lived on it. We don’t have schools or play areas. What kind of experience would they have?
I know other ships carry families. The Fresno is in range (thanks to the jump). I know the California class ships have carried them since the 2380s. I’ll reach out to their captain and get their advice. I can’t remember if the Shackleton has families; maybe Alyx can help?
Marc was happy to hear from me. He’s still out in Ponor building colonies, but he hinted that a change was coming. Hopefully that means he’ll head this way soon, but who knows?
That’s all for now. Goodni—morning. Good Morning and goodbye.
|Captain Zaliel Sel
|Captain’s Ready Room
The captain sat on the couch in her Ready Room, a thermos in her hands. She looked out at the ship as it traveled at warp. Stars streaked by like waves on a sailing ship, the Brahe’s bulk cruising smoothly through calm waters.
“I’m finally coming down from my inadvertent run in with Salek’s mind,” she finally said. “For the last few days I’ve felt an almost debilitating guilt over every trivial mistake in my life. Things I thought were long buried came bubbling up.” As she spoke, her face turned away from the camera, Zaliel’s voice was distant as if the ship were just catching up to it.
”I’d talk to our new counselor, but I think he has his hands full with both Salek and his newest creation. Having Robin—or something like Robin—back is hard. I remember when she died, I couldn’t get away from the memory fast enough. After two years I realize how foolish running away was: I never really faced what happened. Certainly,” she dabbed her eyes. “Certainly, I cried and felt guilt. And I won’t pretend to miss her reports or the negative attention they drew from Command. I just—she didn’t deserve to die.”
The captain blew her nose. It was a loud, honking affair that rang in her ears long after her handkerchief was discarded. “We rendezvoused with the Pollux yesterday and transferred some persons over. I don’t want to get into why they were here—frankly, I’m happy to forget the whole incident. Cannibals!” she shuddered. “As if there weren’t enough nightmares already on this ship.”
”We’re proceeding on course for Stellar Cluster SG-10169: an uncharted area of densely packed stars just beyond Federation space. I’m looking forward to this extended mission with only limited contact with Command.” A pause, “I don’t know how to put this, but Admiral Shuun is…weird. I just have this feeling the man is not entirely honest in his motivations—more so than most Admirals I’ve worked for.”
Zaliel finally took a sip from the thermos, then nearly spit it out. “Blech! Cold chai!” she cursed. “I suppose that’s a good place to end this—cold chai and vague paranoia…I should call Marc.”