"Before We Start"
[previous post was "<Mutual Observation" by the secretive Hanali]

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Turbolift
Stardate: 30151.0850


Eve and Shar'El had made their way from the Counselor's office to the nearest turbolift, the two women sharing the occasional glance.  The CNS appeared relieved and maybe even a little happy to have the ILO walking next to her while the shorter black haired officer seemed content to having someone, anyone by her side.  There still was a great deal of mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance of the Intel Officer from Sickbay, but for the time being everyone seemed willing to put that specific event in the past.

So much had happened in so little time that the ILO had still been trying to make sense of it all. Memories filled her thoughts, some possessing substance and perspective while others just felt as if they had belonged to another person from another life.  There had been no doubt that Shar'El felt different, but from what?  As hard as the black haired woman tried she could not pin down who she had been before this, whatever this was.  That had likely been the reasons why she had instinctively sought out the Counselor's assistance to help in this matter.

Shar'El slowly turned and looked up to the much taller woman standing next to her as the turbolift pod slowed to a stop, having reached its destination.  "Thank you," the ILO said for no apparent reason.

"Hum, you're welcome," Eve hesitantly replied as her grey eyes studied the woman next to her, "May I ask what I did to deserve that?"

"No other reason than you being here," Shar'El said as the doors opened taking her attention away from the CNS and onto the empty bridge.  "After you."

"Thank you," Eve said, echoing the words of the ILO as she stepped onto the bridge closely followed by Shar'El.  There was no doubt that the Intel Officer had changed, but to which extent had still been a matter of debate for the CNS.

As the two women made their way in silence to the observation lounge, the ILO's attention was suddenly drawn onto a shadowy figure standing well inside the Captain's Ready Room.  Although Shar'El could not see any features, the black haired woman knew who had been there, a knowledge that was confirmed when she was silently instructed to join the shadowy figure in the adjacent room.  The hand gesture had been simple yet demanding, a silent command that the Intel Officer had been unable to ignore.

The ILO quickly glanced at Counselor Dalziel as she vanished around the corner leading to the Observation Lounge, Eve not having noticed that Shar'El had no longer been following her.  A faint smile flashed over the woman's lips as she realized that this had been a good thing, no explanation would be required at this time to explain her delay in entering the Observation Lounge.

A strange sensation flowed through the woman as she approached the open doorway to the Captain's Ready Room, a mixture of curiosity and apprehension.  Shar'El knew that there had been nothing to fear, yet she knew that this unexpected side meeting before the official briefing would set the tone as to her involvement in what would come to pass.

As Shar'El stepped in the door closed behind her, trapping her in the room with the shadowy form she could not identify yet knew all too well.  The icy grasp of fear took hold of the woman's thoughts as she wondered as to whether or not she would make it to the Observation Lounge.

"You are here as ordered, I am impressed," the condescending voice of the aged man came from the featureless form standing before the ILO, the absence of light in the room having insured that his identity remained but a speculation.  "I have to admit that I was concerned and believed that after your chat with Counselor Dalziel you might have decided not to return to this ship in an official capacity."

"Sir," the ILO began with as much certain and confidence as she could summon.  "I am ready to return to duty. I am not sure why you believe that I may not be able to, that somehow I am less than what is expected of me, but I can assure you that I am ready to fulfil any and all tasks assigned to me."

"I am very glad to hear this," the aged man said as he leaned back against the Captain's desk and folded his arms across his chest.  "Do not misunderstand my hesitation for a lack of confidence in your physical or professional abilities.  I am simply concerned about your ability to deal with the members of this crew on a more personal level."

"Permission to speak freely, Sir?" Shar'El demanded, receiving nothing more than a nod of the shadowy figure as a reply.  "This crew has become my family and I intend to given them everything that I can and more in whatever capacity I am assigned to.  There is no reason for me to do any less and they deserve *my* best."

"Family is it?"

Shar'El swallowed hard.  The ILO had not even realized that she used that specific term until it was thrown back at her by the aged officer, but the more she considered the unconscious choice of word she had made, the more she found herself agreeing with the statement as it had been voiced.

"Yes Sir, family," Shar'El confirmed without any hesitation.  If she would be damned, it would be for what she thought, for what she believed in and those people who had helped her to get tho this point.

"Very well then," the shadowy figure said as he stood up once again and approached the motionless ILO.  "I have one last thing to say before you can go into that briefing with your *family*..."

Tiffany Reeve

Ensign Shar'El
Intel Liaison Officer