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The Source of Cerulean

Posted on Thu Sep 2nd, 2021 @ 12:20am by Fleet Admiral Sturnack & Commander Marlena Glenn & Captain Jocelyn Blake

Mission: Episode 2: 18th and Constitution
Location: Starfleet Headquarters
Timeline: Mission Day 4 at 1230

[Starfleet Headquarters]
[Day 4, 1230 Hours]

"Now I can't guarantee he's going to be up for visitors," Marlena said, grabbing her purse. Though a Starfleet officer -- and thus wearing a uniform -- the woman operated like many others when it came to personal accouterments. It wasn't uncommon to see various folks wearing backpacks or carrying around briefcases or fashionable bags on their way to and from the office. Which is why Marlena never felt out of place in slinging her overly large handbag over her shoulder, as she was doing now. "The Admiral is an exceptionally private man, as you know. He hasn't even wanted me to visit...had to rather fight him on that front, I'll tell you," she nodded toward the door across the way.

"Ready?" she asked, only just then noticing the two coffee tumblers in Jocelyn Blake's hands. "Bringing coffee to the CinC, eh? Some might say that's my job," she smirked, eyes sparkling with mischief. "Trying to curry a little favor?" she wondered aloud, shrugging lightly. "Vulcans don't typically respond to such gestures the way others might. Not to rain on your parade, of course," Marlena said matter-of-factly.

Jocelyn frowned, but kept hold on her coffee offering. She wasn't even sure that he would be up to drinking coffee yet, but she was desperate to connect back to how things were pre-Romulan embassy blast and coffee felt like the most normal thing. She nodded her readiness as Marlena spoke, shouldering her own pack as she did. "Not favor, so much," she noted. "Just... normalcy, I guess. The last time I saw him..." she dropped off quietly. She hadn't talked about that experience in detail with anyone yet. It still felt to difficult touch, as if approaching the memory of finding Sturnack after the blast was an unshielded nerve ending. Touch it and it would cascade pain.

"He's looking a damn sight better now," Marlena's smile was tight. "But believe me, I get it. Let's get that mental image out of your head, girl," she said, reaching out to take Joce's arm and guide her forward.

The two women made their way out the doors, through the security checkpoint, waving to Bob as they went. The transporter ahead of them was the fastest way to reach Starfleet Medical so they stood in the short queue and then, when asked where they needed to go, Marlena gave the officer the details that had been provided for their visit.

In a whirl of azure energy, the transporter picked them apart atom-by-atom and sent them on their way, reappearing on a transporter pad in the grand lobby of Starfleet Medical. The place was abuzz with no end of people going to-and-fro: doctors coming and going, visitors and well-wishers heading to their respective loved ones' rooms, and administrative staff and heightened security everywhere.

Approaching the set of turbolifts that would speed them to Sturnack's side, Marlena submitted her purse for inspection at the security station that had been erected. With the recent bombing, it seemed Starfleet Security was taking no chances as a security officer waved a trilling tricorder over the bag.

"Clear," the man waved Marlena on through before scanning Jocelyn's belongings as well. "You too," he nodded, allowing the second of the women to pass beyond the security checkpoint and on towards the lifts.

"They stopped me for a lip stick the other day," Marlena said, rolling her eyes as she stepped up to call the lift. "Thought it was a phaser, I'm sure," she smirked and then stepped into the open lift car. "Terrorists ruin all the fun, ya know?"

Jocelyn nodded, a small smirk on her lips at the thought of Marlena being parted from a tube of lip stick. "I suppose I can't blame them," she said, "although you'd think they'd know the difference between a weapon and a lipstick tube."

The lift whisked them off to their destination floor opening as they arrived and depositing them in a quiet area. A bustling nurses station could be seen down the corridor from them. Jocelyn followed the other woman as she made her way down the hall, greeting the nurses as they passed until she finally stopped outside of one of the rooms. The door was cracked, and the lights were low.

"So..." Jocelyn said, suddenly as nervous as she had been during her interview with the Fleet Admiral. "I'll wait out here while you go in to see if Admiral Sturnack will see me?"

With the door cracked open, Marlena wondered if Sturnack could hear them outside already. "I'll see if he's feeling like company," she nodded her head before slipping inside.

[Starfleet Medical]
[1245 Hours]

He was following her again. A shift of blue ahead, rounding the corner and out of sight. Sturnack walked in her footsteps, placing each of his footfalls directly where hers had been. The glowing trail of footprints led him, too, around the corner, where the Vulcan expected to see her waiting for him, but she wasn't there. A very long hallway stretched forward, seemingly endless, but the footprints continued and so did then Sturnack.

After what seemed like days of walking, the Vulcan came upon a closed door whose knob was smudged with glowing azure. It was as if the grease from someone's hand had left behind a luminary trail to follow. Reaching forward, Sturnack's shaky hand made contact with the knob, its striated patterning rubbing against his skin as the man grasped and turned it. Creaking open, the door gave way to a hospital room and, stepping inside, the Vulcan finally found the source of cerulean.

Ovrora sat on the hospital bed, legs crossed the way should would have sat on her bed during the times the shared as roommates at the Academy or on the Ulysses. She looked up as he entered, a grin lighting her face when she saw him, transforming curiosity to warm excitement.

"Sturny!" Young Ovrora exclaimed from her place on the bed. "I was hoping you'd visit."

The Andorian bounced off the bed all nearly 5 and a half feet of her a ball of energy before rushing over and hugging him. The hug lasted longer than a normal hug with Ovrora would, the feeling slightly out of sync with the woman herself. "This is an interesting room, don't you think?" she asked, turning to take it in.

The mountains of Andoria loomed in through the window, snow as far as the eye could see. Beeping machines lined the area around the bed, cords and tubes tangled and hanging from them, though they made no sound.

"I wonder what brought us here?" she said to the room at large.

The Vulcan, for his part, did not return the hug. He'd never been fully comfortable with the gesture though, in the past, he'd grown accustomed to returning the embrace with one closed-fisted hand. His confusion denied such a return gesture this time, however. Why was Ovrora even here? She'd passed long ago and yet here she stood, looking as new as the first day he'd met her. And why was he in this hospital room? The very place Ovrora had left him so long ago, surrounded by family as Sturnack watched from the periphery.
Why am I here? he wondered along with Ovrora in his own head.

"I assumed it was you who brought us here," Sturnack finally said aloud. "I followed
you, after all," he commented, referencing the trek alongside Ovrora's glowing footprints.

Not-Quite-Ovrora tilted her head to the side, a confused frown settled across her features. "Admiral Sturnack, I would assume you know better than to think that I brought you here. Why would I want you to visit a hospital room anyway? Wouldn't a bar have made more sense?" Her voice seemed to echo when she said his name, a feeling of dissonance sounding as she used his rank to speak to him. It both was and wasn't her voice speaking, but as she continued the sound resolved back into her own tone--as familiar as ever.

Ovrora's antennae twitched forward a rapid motion that Sturnack would have recognized from various mischievous plots the Andorian had hatched in their early days as friends. "What do you say Admiral Sturnack? Wanna blow this joint and find some whisky? Surely we can find some fisticuffs around here somewhere." The dissonance sounded again with his name, this time her voice seemed to shift entirely--tone and cadence a complete departure from the Ovrora he knew before settling back into her own voice. Dream-Ovrora was bouncing on the balls of her feet, fake fists raised and taking mock strikes at the air in front of her. "C'mon Sturny. A good fight always gets the blood flowing."

The tonal shift in her voice was curious; the echo, most interesting. But as Ovrora fell into old patterns of teasing him, Sturnack dismissed both with the shake of his head. "Your penchant for drunken altercations," he began, not clarifying whether he meant the afore-mentioned fisticuffs or something else as well, "continue to astound. As for why you'd want to visit here, I do not know." The Vulcan stepped forward then, coming within arms' length of the bed. Reach out to touch it, he pulled his hand back as the
bleeps and bloops of the medical equipment suddenly same to life.

Sturnack turned to Ovrora then, a heavy weight settling over him. "You brought me here once. With your letters," he said, suddenly holding up a stack of hand-written cards and notes. All but the last were unopened, the latter held in his other free hand. It was unfolded and emblazoned with the unsteady script of someone without full control of their hands. "I came here to say good bye," he trailed off, eyes looking down at the empty hospital bed.

Ovrora had stopped her faux sparring, hands dropping loosely to her sides as the equipment of the hospital bed came to life. The telltale sounds of a life on the brink between here and gone sounded quietly, but deliberately through the room. She eyed the letters as he held them up, taking them gently from him as she did.

"Why are these sealed?" she asked, her voice quiet. "And why is this one," she held the open letter out so that it's unsteady scrawl faced him, "open?"

Not waiting for him to respond she circled the bed, climbing up and laying down on the edge of it, curling up the way someone might curl around another person they wanted to care for. It was an odd sight, Ovrora, but not the right one, on the hospital bed. "Why are we here again Admiral Sturnack?"

The Vulcan -- ignorant as to why he would do so -- moved to the bed as well, lying down next to Ovrora and staring up at the ceiling. "The last letter looked so illegible compared to the rest. Logic dictated that advanced age or a health failing of some kind led to the declination of your handwriting. Such warranted that I peruse the letter to ascertain how you were doing. As for the rest," his eyes briefly darted to the unopened stack now sitting on his bedside table, alongside some kind of uneaten gelatin, "I did not wish to subject myself to further...distraction," he chose the word carefully.

Only that word did not at all describe Sturnack's hesitation. Ovrora would recognize the term as one he'd used in place of "pain" on several occasions prior, mostly especially when the pair had gone their separate ways.

Next to him on the hospital bed Ovrora's features shifted to mirror the pain that Sturnack didn't expressly describe. In a matter of a moment longing and regret and loss and a touch of emptiness ran over her face. Real Ovrora would have known what he meant, but this version of her felt it deeply.

Her fingers reached over next to his ear. To someone outside of the dream space it would have appeared that she was about to trace a finger along its pointed outside edge. Instead, cerulean fingers hovered barely an inch away and then, a quick press of thumb and middle finger, elicited a snap...

[Sturnack's Hospital Room]
[Moments later]

Sturnack awoke suddenly, the snap having roused him from the dreamscape. Nearby he could hear two people talking, though he was not immediately sure who was doing so. He took a few moments to acknowledge his weariness and the toll it was taking on his mental faculties. Having slept almost 10 hours given the time reflected on the clock across the room, the Vulcan determined his body must be pushing for even more. But sleep, it seemed, would have to wait for as his thoughts began to clear -- along with some of the cobwebs dangling over his brain -- Sturnack finally realized who was outside the room.

"Come in. Both of you," the Vulcan sounded through dry, cracked lips, inviting both Marlena and Jocelyn into his room. The soft beeping of his monitors must have translated themselves into his dream, the sounds taking him back to Ovrora rather than his own, post-bombing recovery. He reached to the small tray table to the side of his bed, fingering a bottle of water that was almost out of reach. The tips of his fingers made enough contact to let him pull the bottle closer and into his waiting hand.

Unscrewing the cap, he took a long sip, allowing some of the water to wet his lips in the process. Sturnack sat up straighter in bed, watching as both of the women entered his hospital room. "Greetings," he offered, his voice sounding strained. "I regret that I am unable to stand on ceremony for this meeting. Tell me, however, what has happened." The Vulcan looked stiff and pained, though it was obvious that Sturnack was attempting to downplay his condition. He'd had his spinal cord punctured and almost severed and several large shards of shrapnel pierced through his trunk from one side to the other. Dermal regenerators could do a lot but at times like this, letting the body take its natural course was often quite needed as well.

"Sturnack," Marlena said softly, coming in to stand at the foot of the bed. "There's no emergency. I just wanted to check on you...and Jocelyn here wanted to come along."

Jocelyn stepped into the room behind Marlena, hanging back. Sturnack's voice sounded tired, but the timbre of it was his... The sound from a living man and not from the spectre she had been resurrecting in her dreams every night since the incident. She pulled in a shaky breath, letting it out slowly. He was alive, yes, but there was no doubt that the extent of his injuries was significant.

Taking another breath to steady herself she approached his hospital bed, stopping next to Marlena at the foot and to the side.

"It's good to see you, sir," she said, an emotional smile on her face. She reached up to straighten her glasses, a bright blue color that day, before remembering that she was holding two coffee tumblers. She held out the tumbler in her left hand. "From the Horseshoe," she said by way of explanation. "I'm guessing they don't serve the good stuff here." She blushed then, feeling a bit like she was intruding.

"I... I can wait outside..." She stammered as she moved to set the tumbler on the bedside table. "Give you some privacy."

"No privacy is required," Sturnack replied neutrally, eyes locking onto the tumblers Jocelyn held. The one she offered was his own, no doubt absconded from his office. Did Marlena assist in the effort? Or had the Press Secretary simply taken the tumbler during her last visit to his office? In the moment, the Vulcan did not particularly care to unravel such a minuscule mystery. Instead, he placed the water bottle back onto the tray and held his hand out, accepting the tumbler with a nod.

Moving the vessel under his nose, Sturnack took a long whiff of the beverage. The action seemed to cause him pain and so he stopped, taking -- instead -- a ginger sip of the hot coffee contained inside. Vulcans were not known for emotional reactions -- especially when it came to everyday, inanimate objects -- but had the sip restored a little color to Sturnack's countenance? He seemed a little more himself.

"Quite acceptable, as always," the Vulcan slowly nodded. "Better, of course, than the coffee on offer here indeed," he noted. "I am appreciative of the coffee...and the gesture, Jocelyn," Sturnack used the woman's first name. He was, after all, sitting up in a hospital bed and robed in attire much less ceremonious than that of a Starfleet uniform. Why stand on such ceremony now? "How are you both doing?" he wondered.

"Oh, you know," Marlena smiled ruefully, "lots to do. So...many...things..." she exasperated, reaching up to pull her hair into a pony tail and secure it with a scrunchee. "Admiral Whitford has been quite busy in your absence. Aside from a certain acerbic attitude, he is actually managing things quite well. For an ass like him, I mean," Marlena smirked, moving to sink into one of the bedside chairs. "I mean really, who gets off on acting like that?"

"Marlena," Sturnack responded, his tone half-full of what sounded like a request for professionalism.

"Alright. Not an 'ass.' How about..." she put a finger to her lips, "an ostentatiously difficult thorn in the side?" Marlena beamed, as if her own cleverness had delighted her.

Jocelyn still stood at the foot of the bed trying and failing to not stare at Sturnack as he slipped the coffee she had brought with her. She was painfully aware that she didn't quite know what to do with herself and even more so aware of how relieved she felt when Sturnack referred to her by name rather than rank.

She half listened as Marlena spoke, but was unable to hide the smirk of amusement at the other woman's choice of descriptor for the DCinC. Whether the term was appropriate or not, it wasn't wrong.

Sturnack, for his part, had been distracted from Marlena's updated description of Whitford. Instead, he'd mentally noted that the eyeglasses Jocelyn wore today bore the same color as Ovrora's skin had. And even further, the Vulcan also recognized that the voice that he'd half-heard saying "Admiral Sturnack" in his dream hadn't been Ovrora at all. It'd been Jocelyn talking to Marlena in the hallway beyond his room. Suddenly things made a lot more sense, though perhaps more than Sturnack cared to admit.

"Is he continuing to make your life difficult, Jocelyn?" The question hung there in mid-air, like a shuttlecraft hovering before landing. Something about the Vulcan's tone sounded almost protective as Sturnack regarded the Press Secretary with a raised eyebrow.

Marlena, meanwhile, had noticed that Sturnack had not deigned to reply to her. Instead, he'd phaser beam-focused on Jocelyn alone. And Jocelyn had brought him coffee. And Sturnack had used Joce's first name. And... Marlena, old may be onto something," she thought to herself, tucking the results of her intuition away for later. Further study of the pair's interactions would obviously be needed before she could confirm any suspicions.

Jocelyn shrugged lightly at the question, moving to perch on the edge of the chair on Sturnack's opposite side. "No more or less than normal. He's a bit distracted at the moment, but wasn't exactly thrilled with the press coverage from my post-disaster briefing." She frowned then, the events playing back in her head the way they had so many times before, only this time with the dissonance of Sturnack alive in front of her. "Of course it's only been a few days, so there's plenty of time for him to decide to resume the warpath."

She stared down at her own tumbler in her hands. "The security detail hasn't left me alone until just today. I had to point out that you were likely to have better security yourself than they could provide to convince them not to follow me here." She blushed again, recalling the moment in her office before the embassy. It felt like a very long time ago that he had assigned that detail to her. Their presence, in a strange way, had made her feel as if Sturnack was still around, even in the moments of uncertainty when they waited to hear news of him from Starfleet Medical.

"What about you, though?" she asked, turning the subject back to the man in front of her. "I mean..." she frowned again, fingers fidgeting along her cup. "I was the one who found you. I...You probably know that..." she sputtered then, the frustration and fear and sheer weight of emotion from the last several days crashing down in one massive wave. "... I honestly wasn't sure we'd get a chance to share another cup of coffee again."

The Vulcan had intended to speak more about Whitford and his warpath. However, Jocelyn's rather vulnerable display of emotion drew his attention elsewhere. Sturnack turned his thoughts to what finding him must have been like for the woman. Seeing him in a pool of green blood, impaled in multiple places, and barely clinging to life. For a Vulcan trained in the meditative arts, a quick series of intentional breaths would help to dispel the trauma and set it aside for later examination. But, for a human, Sturnack knew that such things were not easy.

"No amount of screen doors could help you through that," Sturnack said softly, connecting back to a conversation they'd previously shared around processing strong emotions. "It is regrettable that you had to see me that way, Jocelyn," the Vulcan continued, "and more regrettable still that such a tragedy could and would take place here, on Earth, where so many feel safest. However," he steepled his fingers together in his lap, "I am confident that you have proceeded to the best of your ability since. And, as you can see," he arched an eyebrow, "I am 'alive and kicking,' to use a human aphorism."

Marlena's eyes narrowed at what she was witnessing. Sturnack was almost comforting Jocelyn. This was not behavior that she had witnessed before, so where was this coming from now? Again, her mind leapt to conclusions based on more than just the cordial trappings of a CinC to his Press Secretary. There was more to it. There had to be. "We're very glad you are, Sir," she nodded then, re-entering the conversation.

Jocelyn nodded, looking across the bed to Marlena, a flush creeping up the back of her neck. She hadn't planned to be so forthright with Sturnack. Something about seeing him here, alive and holding court from the hospital bed, instead of pinned, run through, and mouthing something she couldn't hear... She ran a hand up to cup the back of her neck, chasing away the image as she did. Maybe it was because he had been so kind to her that morning, but she found herself unaccountably comfortable in his presence--confident that he would understand even as she knew how very different they were in handling things like this.

"Yes," she echoed Marlena's comment, eyes settling on her tumbler. "very glad."

"I am told that I will be able to return to duty within a few days," the Vulcan glossed over the sentiments from both women. "Until then, I would avoid any type of provocation with Admiral Whitford. I regret that I am not there to more deliberately corral him," Sturnack said, eyebrow arching further upward, "but, in fact, I do require his political acumen and counsel. For the moment, at least," he trailed off. Did that mean Sturnack did not envision a future in which Whitford was a permanent fixture? Perhaps, though he didn't seem willing to say more on the matter.

"Thank you for visiting me," the Vulcan dipped his head to both women in deference. "I am...appreciative," the word was chosen with the utmost care, "of your desire to see that I am alright. Now, I believe both of you are due back at the office at this time. It would not do to tarry."

In other words, go away now.

=/\= A joint post by... =/\=

Fleet Admiral Sturnack
Starfleet Command


Commander Marlena Glenn
Aide-de-Camp, CinC's Office
Starfleet Command


Captain Jocelyn Blake
Press Secretary
Starfleet Command


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