"Mea Culpa"
(Previous Post: "Looking for Support")

"A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault."
-John Henry Newman

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Deck 13, Gymnasium
Stardate: 63077.1900

Eve landed a solid kick to the right side of the punching bag, then hit it with her fists. She took a couple of steps back and repeated the process with her other leg, once again following through with her fists in an even rhythm. The punching bag responded with a satisfying smacking sound.

The Counsellor was no stranger to this place; a good workout was almost always the cure for what ailed, especially in the frustration department.

Finding a middle ground, a center to the chaos that surrounded her was important. The speculation about their upcoming mission had taken a fevered pitch, with each of them trying to steel themselves against a secret lab harbored on a frozen wasteland. The ramifications of Genetic Memory Transfer were boggling.

Then there were the underlying concerns about the crew, who were still adjusting to their experience in the alternate universe and more recently the VALLA ROYAL. Doctor Rikar was improving steadily, and seemed to be enjoying her new position. But Eve knew that patience, vigilance, and compassion was still needed for the entire senior staff as they navigated through this uncertain future.

The last bit of business was of a more personal nature for the Cardassian born woman. As many times as she hit the defenseless bag, as much as she tried to move past her mistakes, she saw the smarmy, sneering face of Trodat in her mind's eye, taunting her. She heard the whispers of the Locustat, demanding answers. She saw Maya assuming her role as ILO with capability and intellect. It was a position that Eve coveted for herself one day. But until she could prove herself more deserving and successful than she currently felt, it was a desire and a dream far away from the present.

"Lieutenant Dalziel," the Shillian said formally. Truth was Maya had tried to get the woman's attention before this, but Eve had been wrapped up fully in both the inner and outer battles she was facing.

"Commander Maya," Eve said breathlessly with the tone of someone caught in a misdeed.

"You wanted to see me?" Maya asked. The Counsellor had flagged her mission report with the request to see the Intel chief, although obviously she wasn't expecting the visit at this particular time.

"Yes... I gather you received my report." Eve brushed a few stray hairs off of her forehead.

"It was very thorough." The junior officer's attention to detail was striking. "I saw nothing missing or lacking."

"Thank you," the dark haired woman replied while dabbing her neck with a towel, seemingly grateful that her submission had passed muster.

"That does not explain your need to speak with me," Maya continued.

Eve nodded. "Regardless of the results of our last mission, my actions inadvertantly put the crew at risk both physically, and from an Intel standpoint. Therefore I will accept any disciplinary action you see fit to recommend."

Maya tilted her head slightly, a thoughtful puzzlement in her expression. "You seem to be doing an exemplary job of punishing yourself. I doubt any further reprimand is required."

Eve began pummelling the bag again, her words punctuated by staccato hits. "I wasn't the perfect operative. I wasn't the perfect officer."

"Let me include you in on one of the many secrets of the universe... nobody ever is."

Eve stopped and glanced at her, her gray eyes filled with regret. "You were. You saved us all."

The ILO clasped her hands behind her back. "I experienced a mere moment of perfection. It occurs far less often than anyone would want it to, including myself. I could calculate the probability if you still question that." The countless hours she spent in animal form, in hiding, in uncertainty, could not be ignored. Although her current strength was unmistakable.

"I put the crew in harm's way."

"Our mission placed us there. And if you recall, it was the encrypted message that sent you to Doctor Rikar's location. Obviously, someone trusted you," the Shillian said pointedly.

"It was you," Dalziel said, the realization dawning on her.

"Yes it was. My trust in you was not and is not in question."

Eve knew Maya was being completely honest with her; it was the only way the Shillian knew how to be. "Making the right decisions is important to me. An officer isn't worth their salt if they can't make the right decisions when it counts."

"You intervened on Captain Rikar's behalf. You used all the resources at your disposal, some of those resources being your crewmates. We all made it safely back. You have always shared the joys of achievement among the rest of the senior staff. Why do you insist on carrying this perception of failure alone?"

"If you hadn't been there we would have all been dead. Because I led the others there."

Maya was resolute. "If you hadn't taken action when you did, Sabrina Rikar would have been dead. Is that what you wanted?"

Eve crossed her arms. Of course she didn't want that. "Neither is acceptable."

"Neither of those things happened. As long as we keep working together as a team, neither is going to happen."

Susan M Ledbetter
Lieutenant JG Eve Dalziel