Winter sighed heavily as she wove her way through the empty med tables in the infirmary. Jordana would be in the Emergency Room, just down the hall and to the left. She needed to speak to her about what had happened... she'd never felt Dana's control slip like that. She'd never Felt that kind of fear from her, either... not from Jordana. Winter stepped into Jordana's curtained alcove just as the medical staff was stepping out, taking with them trays of bloodied cloth and snips of what had once been Jordana's uniform. She nodded to the orderlies, recognizing two of them from the suite earlier, and received somewhat shy, skittish smiles in return. She had something of a reputation on the base...
All of the senior ensigns did... none of them were what could be called normal, even by the greatest stretch of the imagination. Jordana looked pale and small, ensconsed as she was in the bed; propped up on pillows and the telltale stiffness of bandages around her torso showing through her hospital gown. Her right leg was elevated and wrapped in an already dry cast, as was her left arm. Tatakai certainly had done a number on her... a flash of anger welled in Winter's chest and before she realized it, a number of beakers and jars on a nearby table boiled over and cracked. She sighed.
**Calm, calm down... you have got to calm down, Winter, after all, you've already blown up the zero-g training room, isn't that enough... besides, Duo will see to it that you spend the next six weeks cleaning out the Med bay with a squirt bottle and a toothbrush if you're not careful....He really likes that whole toothbrush-punishment thing.**
With her coppery hair loose from the serviceable twist it was usually worn in, Jordana looked downright washed out, and the dark circles under her eyes didn't help, either. Winter pulled up the nearby chair and settled comfortably by the edge of the bed, long black hair pulled into a somewhat messy tail with long strands escaping their confines. Her violet eyes studied the friend she considered more of an older sibling, and she stretched out with her consciousness. ~Dana... you needn't wake up. In fact, you should sleep, but I need to know what happened to you.~ She Felt Jordana's answering presence slowly emerging to the front of her mind... the brilliance and warmth of her aura wavering and heavy with sleep and sedatives. She sighed... sedatives always messed with a psychokinetic's mind. Most of the medical staff here knew that, they'd learned the hard way when they'd given her something to put her to sleep once a few years ago. Duo had not been pleased with the results, and the loading dock had needed to be rebuilt from scratch. Winter placed herself between Jordana and the rest of the base as she sank in to meet her friend... she didn't want to place any undue stress on the other officer.
~Winter?~ The contact was hazy, but intelligible, a good sign that Jordana was going to be
just fine... once she flushed the drugs out of her system.
~I feel so... distant.~
~Its the sedatives, Dana. Don't fight them, just go to sleep,-~
Dana interrupted. ~But, my-~ ~I will remain with you, Dana. Do not worry, you
will not be unprotected.~ A soft sigh filtered through the cloudy contact as the other girl relaxed a bit, balancing somewhere between sleep and awake. A gentle strand of Jordana's consciousness stretched out and brushed across her mind, trying to form the easy bond they shared, but it was clear from the tenuousness of the contact, that it wasn't going to hold. Winter took over and latched onto the thread, strengthening it. With a rush that left Winter breathing hard, Jordana's memories of her experience with Tatakai flooded through their link. She could See the rage emanating from the ensign as Jordana had Seen it, Felt the pain as Jordana had Felt it; the burning across her ribs, the spear of pain through her hip and arm, the shards of sheer anger and rage aimed at her. Tatakai's reaction to the gentle probe was completely at odds with how he *should* have reacted, it just didn't make any sense to her... until she saw the telltale signs that his memories were false. The vision and recollection were too clear, too bright, and too sharp to have been any events dulled by time. She'd implanted enough false memories in her years with the Black Lions to know. As the memories flashed by she Felt Jordana's near panic, and her own consciousness answered it, sending a shock through their connection.
Jordana gasped and arched in the bed.
~Gomen, Dana! **calm, soothing, peace** My block slipped, it will not happen again.~
~Its okay, Winter. I'm just tired... so tired *drift*~
Winter stroked Jordana's hair from her face, tucking a long strand behind her friend's ear and kept up the projection of calm and peace, trying to keep Jordana coccooned in a nest of blissful ignorance. After all that had happened in the last twenty-four hours there was no reason that Jordana should not have been allowed to rest. She sighed softly, this was not going to be easy. Tatakai was unstable, and unstable personalities in high-stress situations were dangerous combinations and made for explosive results... she knew from first-hand experience. She stayed a while longer, reluctant to leave her friend until she was sure the other was deep in sleep.
As she sat at her friend's bedside, she wondered what she was going to tell Duo. She knew that Jordana had been ordered to report back after her scan of Tatakai... but that was going to be difficult now, not to mention that if she told Duo what had truly happened, Tatakai's memories of the Black Lions would have been wiped and he'd have been on the next shuttle back the nearest colony, bags packed and no recollection of where he'd been for the past month. She had to lie. Winter cringed. She didn't lie, she *couldn't* lie, not to Duo... not after all the things he'd done for her. Not to mention the fact that she knew Duo's policy on lying. Oh, he'd managed to spin an incredibly creative web here and there when the absolute truth would have been worse, but.... Well, who says she couldn't do that, too. She could spare Tatakai the horrible reality of a brain wipe and discharge, save Jordana a trip to Duo's office, and save Duo the extra aggravation. All it would take was a little creative license. Winter smoothed Jordana's hair once more and strengthened her barrier around the other girl before she took her leave. On her way through the infirmary, she popped her head into Khaiya's room, and noted with a amusement, the half-empty box of chocolates that still lay open on his chest. Too much psi-energy nearby might have awakened him and done damage, so she settled for the more mundane method. Being careful not to disturb him in his delicate state, she crept in and placed the box on the nightstand.
Shesmiled softly as Khaiya shifted a little in his sleep before settling back into his pillows. A short trip down the hallway brought her to Michael's door. She refrained from even trying to initiate any kind of mental contact, knowing that not only was he extremely sensitive to it at the moment, but probably would not appreciate any reminders of his new talents. Then again, that's what she was, one short, slender, fifteeen-year-old, black-haired, violet-eyed, walking reminder. Winter sighed and slowly turned the handle, peeking into the room.
Michael was asleep, thank kami-sama, his bright blue hair spread everywhere as he slept curled on his side and with one hand tucked under his pillow. Soft, hitching mumbles hinted at a less-than-peaceful slumber and Winter sighed. She watched him sleep for a moment or two, just making sure that he would be all right before she left for the night. As she walked down the corridor to Duo's office, she thought of how she was going to explain, and yet, not explain things to her commanding officer. It hadn't taken her long to discard the notion of lying to him, she knew she wouldn't be able to do it, and so she no longer even entertained the idea. Duo's secretary, Sorata, was still seated at his desk, flipping through papers that needed Duo's or Heero's signatures, determining the truly urgent ones from those simply marked urgent for the sake of being seen sooner. An elegantly-boned hand brushed a lock of black hair back out of the way just as Winter reached the desk.
"Ensign Winter to see Commander Maxwell. I am reporting in for Ensign Sevayin." She tried not to come off sounding too distant, but feared that it hadn't worked. Winter was, by neccessity, detached from everything and everyone around her, save for a precious few people. Sorata looked up from his work, large golden eyes assessing her. If he was surprised by someone so young wearing the uniform of a senior ensign, or being so formal, it didn't show. In fact, the gleam in his eyes spoke more of curiosity and intrigue than personal offense.
"Go right ahead, ensign, he's just looking over paperwork." Winter nodded with a perfunctory smile... Michael and Jordana were much better at the "social interaction" routine than she was... and she often envied that skill. Although Winter could easily manage to insinuate herself in any situation if the mission required it, when it came down to interpersonal relations, she was somewhat lost. She could feel two large, bright golden eyes staring at her from behind as she walked through the door to Duo's office, making a mental tally of what he could from her physical appearance. Great... curiosity... while it was a helpful and neccessary thing in their line of work, she certainly did not relish the idea of being the side show attraction again. It had taken her long enough to deal with it when she'd first been brought in to the program, and now there was a whole score of new recruits.
Then again, the new recruits certainly were a colorful bunch... perhaps it wouldn't be so bad this time. She'd have to wait and see, after all, psychokinetic abilities weren't something you could discern from a person's appearance... and people reacted differently around psychokinetics. Usually for the worse. Winter stepped through the doors of Duo's office and saw his dark, chestnut head bend over a thick pile of papers, antacid bottle on the desk, and a distressing furrow between his brows. He didn't notice her entrance.
"If you keep doing that, your face will stick like that." She said softly, hiding a smile as he jerked his head up. She ammended her entry with a respectful, "Sir," tacked on the end. Duo had said the very same thing to her a few years back when she'd worn a puzzled expression at her first introduction to Michael. Duo smiled and it reached all the way up to his eyes.
"Winter, what are you doing up here? I thought you were still recovering in the Med Bay."
"I was discharged last night. My injuries were minor, and I was only kept overnight for observation."
Duo's face smoothed out a bit in concern.
"What about the backlash?" Winter cringed inwardly. He *would* ask about that...after all, she'd blown
up his Zero-G training room.
"I am more stable now." It was true... albeit not the whole truth. She *was* more stable
now... she was also very tired and in the process of blocking both herself and Jordana
from the rest of the base... not to mention Michael, as well. "More stable... uh huh."
She knew he wasn't buying it, but at least he didn't question her about it.
"So, what brings you up here at this time of night, kiddo? You're not scheduled
for a duty shift for hours."
"Yes sir, Iknow. I am here to bring you Ensign Sevayin's report on Ensign Tatakai's condition."
That got Duo's full and complete attention.
"Why isn't Jordana up here to bring me the report herself?"
"She is currently resting, sir... in the Med Bay."
Duo's head popped up and his eyes jerked wide open.
"There was an... altercation in Ensign Tatakai's quarters."
"Explain." Duo's voice was hard and his eyes were flat. He was angry, but
she knew he wasn't angry with her. Winter dropped into full formal mode, no longer addressing Duo with any sort of familiarity.
"You requested that Ensign Sevayin speak to Ensign Tatakai. A low-level sweep of his aura
triggered a previously engineered program."
Duo was not in favor of mind scans of any kind, but he knew that
telepaths performed low-level aural sweeps at all times, it was like
breathing to them. It was the first thing they learned. After all, they'd
need to be in control of that abilitiy before they could be released into a
room of people. He often wondered what it was like to see multiple levels of a person.
"Previously engineered program? By whom?"
"Unknown sir. Ensign Sevayin was able to determine, however, that the
memories that were triggered by the sweep were implanted and engineered to
result in a violent response."
"For what purpose?" Winter had seen Duo like this on a few occassions, times when
he behaved more like Heero. She brutally shoved away memories of the last time, not
wishing to remember the circumstances.
"Speculation would lead me to believe that it was designed as a binding
instrument, sir, something in the subject's memory created specifically to
bind the victim to his master, without his knowledge."
"So you don't think he knew what he was doing when this happened?"
"No sir. From his reactions to both Jordana's actions and my own, the emotional intensity
that resulted from a simple, aural sweep simply overwhelmed any rational response that may
have been more in the ensign's nature."
"I see," Duo went round his desk and opened the antacid bottle, taking a
long pull with a slight grimmace for the aftertaste.
"Over three hundred years of making this stuff, and its still tastes like chalk," he
muttered. Winter would have smiled at Duo's attempt to lighten things up, but she knew better... now was not the time.
"Did Ensign Sevayin perform any invasive scans?"
"No sir. Her aural sweep triggered the reaction and it was too late to attempt anything
else by that time, he was already attacking her."
"How did you end up there?"
"I Felt it, sir." She answered softly, knowing he knew what she meant.
"Yes, sir. Her fear, his rage. I've never known Jordana to be so afraid."
Her voice was still quiet and muted and Duo stepped closer to his officer.
Winter embraced his presence, taking strength from his moment of quiet determination.
"And you're sure it wasn't anything he was aware of?"
"No sir. It left no room, or time, for an active response."
"So, you think he's got some sort of overlying programming that messes with his head in certain situations, right?"
"Yes, sir. It seems to be most prevalent when actions are taken
against, or interest is shown in his suitemate, Ensign Khamryn. It mirrors
the conditioning that was placed on him in his own past. It is highly
unlikely that he has any knowledge whatsoever that this is abnormal behavior."
"Course of action?" He was asking for her opinion. There were a few telepaths
on the base and when it came to mind games, they were always the first ones consulted.
"Separating him from his suitemate would be detrimental at this point, seeing as he has
formed a strong bond in such a short time. It is possible that regular psychotherapy can
sever the bond. The false memories pose another problem, they have too much to do with his
current personality traits."
Duo nodded, listening carefully. "What about the others?"
"Jordana needs time to recuperate from the physical injuries
sustained, but in light of the previous altercation, any response
to her presence would almost definitely be negative, as well as to any
overtures that I might make. Khaiya, although he also needs time to recover
from the backlash of Michael's incident, would be the most likely candidate to
make any progress."
"Do you really think the shrink can help him? I want to make sure someone is there
with them, if for no other reason than to check his emotions."
Winter nodded sharply, the glint of determination sparking in her eyes.
Duo sighed and ran a hand through his bangs.
"All right. Well, none of this is going to happen today, or even tomorrow,
considering you three have been banged around enough lately. Go get some sleep.
I'll shift your duty schedule around for tomorrow." He rested a hand on her shoulder,
feeling the knots in her muscles.
"You need to relax, kiddo," he said with a smile. "I could say the same for you, sir."
Deep in her mind, she felt the last strings of her contact with Duo tremble.
She smiled back, letting herself feel the warmth of his presence and contact.
He snorted. "Yeah, tell that to everyone who wants fifteen minutes of my time.
turn and strode out of the office towards her own quarters.
~And make sure that you sleep... don't just stare at the ceiling from your
bunk!~ Winter allowed herself a small laugh as she moved down the corridor.
Deep in her mind, she felt the last strings of her contact with Duo tremble.