Valore's Assorted Monologues

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Lieutenant Valore, Personal Log. Stardate 95447.1



I have only been on Deep Space Thirteen for several days, yet the integration process proceeds well beyond expectations. Officers well beyond my own position have invited me to socialize while off-duty and will be playing chess with a captain in the near future. Given the context of the situation, I will attempt to deliver a difficult challenge during the game and intentionally lose at the end. Captain Lyn seems to be a newcomer to many of the strategies and rules, so I do not believe she will discover the deceit. It will inspire her with confidence to continue practicing and learning the game.



Marcus arrived yesterday. Whilst Father is glad that his home is devoid of cats now, Marcus is having a much more difficult time. He hid underneath my bed almost the entire time he has been here and anytime the door to my quarters opened, his tail would increase in volume, otherwise known as ‘poofing’. I had to move his food and water bowl to him, as he appears too fearful to seek them out himself. His old habits do show, however, as he did once depart his place to drink from a cup of water I had sitting on the nightstand. Thankfully, I saw him do so and avoided drinking out of the same supply. I may consider replacing his water bowl with a cup, as he does seem to hold such a preference.



The integration process has not been without issue, however. My new… ‘friends’ have conducted some improper extrapolation regarding my voicing desire for the position of quartermaster. They have voiced - in public - the idea that I am guaranteed to this position. This is cause for concern, even with my explicit denial of the matter. I intend to write to Lieutenant Commander Sakkhet regarding the truth of this matter and that I am not the source of these rumors. With luck, he will hear from me on this before anyone else.



Present situation not included, my stay here has been most enjoyable. While I find working planetside to be more comfortable, my posting is at least not on a starship. There are people here whom I would appraise to be good and whom I would wish to develop friendships with. I have disposed of Father’s letters that arrived with Marcus. I do not believe they have merit, given facts of the matter, nor do I believe his logic to be sound. Now, speaking of writing to the Lieutenant Commander…



End Log.

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Lieutenant Valore, Personal Log. Stardate 95459.3

It has been one week since my transfer. To say that it has been normal is a gross understatement. I transferred to Deep Space 13 with the impression that it would be more busy than Korael and prepared myself for a heavier workload. I have encountered far more difficulty than anticipated. With Commander Sakkhet's permission, I have taken up more shifts in the officer of the quartermaster. While the amount of requisitions needing to be processed is staggering compared to previous postings, it is a minuscule issue relative to other ongoing events.

In the last seven days, I have a been privy to a murder investigation, negotiations with a synthetic warlord, combat involving a sword, very large rocks, and a cook-off. No, I am not falsifying records. No, I am not being hyperbolic. I do not know how to describe Deep Space Thirteen other than speaking on the facts of the matter.

The Yuctan System was odd. Incredibly odd. Though I am certain Captain Bishop would like nothing less than to study the uncovered artifacts there for a decade. While the Captain departed to study the artifact further, Captain Nimitz and I responded to an attack on the survey team. The leader of the abductions was some... synthetic warlord. It is difficult to describe the creature in full detail. Captain Nimitz attempted to explain the Federation to it, but it did not seem to care. It's primary concern seemed to be power politics and posturing. I... may have embellished somewhat, attempting to associate Captain Nimitz with strong monarchical authority, but we got the hostages out without them being harmed. I believe the untruth was worth it. The hostages would certainly agree.

On a separate mission, I found myself fighting a Tholian with a sword. Yes. Me. Against a Tholian. With a sword. I've never used a sword. The closest I've ever been to one was in a museum. I'm certain in my belief that anyone with the slightest bit of training in swordsmanship would cringe at my display. My success was based more in luck than skill, as even a Tholian seems to not be invulnerable to an edged blade coming at its face. This encounter, along with the injuries I have received from it, has only reinforced the fact that I need additional combat training. Lieutenant Valencia and Captain Nimitz have both offered to assist me in this matter and I believe I will take them up on their offers.

Soon after my pitiful display, I was presented with the ability to disappoint even further. I, as part of the Federation envoy to attend these despicable 'games' had to participate in a cook-off.The idea is as ridiculous as it sounds. Nobody cooks anymore, that is why we have replicators. Cooking is illogical. Captain Derenzis seemed to agree with me, as she seemed to be about as worried about the implications of failure as I. The only person who really seemed to know what they were doing was Captain Nimitz, oddly enough. Why he bothered learning such an illogical and useless skill is beyond me, but just as in Yuctan, he seems to have a special affinity with saving the day. It was unfortunate that Derenzis and I were split off from the others to be on our own team. We only achieved fifteen points whereas Nimitz and Archer achieved twenty-four. Had it not been for our pitiful meal preparation, the Federation's mission would have succeeded right then and there. Perhaps I would not have had to face the fear of death by quantum warhead soon after.

Without going into detail into an ongoing investigation, may I just say that I hate Cardassian manifests? They're organized in such a manner that almost seems to defy logic. When I first acquired them, I thought I would have a summary for Commander Nim in days. Instead, it is most likely to be a week.

Finally and most importantly, Marcus seems to be doing better. He still does not come from under the bed, but when I return to my quarters at night I find my books knocked onto the floor and fur in my bed. It would appear that a certain feline seems to be getting used to his new surroundings. Perhaps he may start answering the door or preparing his own meals soon. Or write his manifesto on the unshakable feline autocracy. I am sure Isa- Captain Lyn would like a copy of that. I will try to make his stay more comfortable by moving the books and firewood out from underneath my bed and perhaps put a few pillows and his favorite blanket there.

If every week is eventful as this one, I might have to- no. No, I am still bringing my reports with me to Risa. If only to spite them.

End Log.
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Lieutenant Valore, Personal Log. Stardate 95519

It has been almost a month since my transfer to Deep Space 13. This is perhaps the last time I ignore rumors, as everything I heard is essentially true. For somebody that works at a desk, this posting involves considerable phaser fire directed towards me. Academy phaser training is enough to remain sufficient in such a scenario, though Captain Nimitz has offered supplementary phaser training and a design for a custom phaser. It is logical to increase efficiency in such a field that has increased in frequency of appearance, though it would be preferred that I not be shot at as often.

The Captain also offered me me a position on the Pegasus as yeoman. Given the Captain's style of command, I believe I will accept this offer and request a transfer tomorrow. He seems to find my work satisfactory and I believe the Pegasus to be a fantastic posting, though I had concerns of my own suitability. He also mentioned a complaint that had arisen against me. It is troublesome, given that the Captain had no detail to provide me, telling me only to be mindful of my actions. I do not understand it. I have never considered myself one who rushes into a situation without considering all of the details. I will attempt to... do better, I suppose? I only wish I understood how it is I am supposed to do so.

The chess game with Captain Lyn went... poorly. Throughout the game, I offered several avenues for her to defeat me. Instead, she seemed focused on eliminating pieces rather than victory. As a result of the mutual destruction, it concluded in a draw when all but a few pieces were eliminated. This will take much more time and effort than I had originally anticipated. Or perhaps Captain Lyn's plan was to cause as much bloodshed as possible. It is difficult to say. I will attempt to schedule another game with her sometime in the future should she wish to do so.

Captain Bishop confuses me as an individual. I have trouble understanding what it is he expects from an officer. On one mission, he chose intimidation as his tactic in dealing with an individual. Given that the ranking officer sets the course of action, I am surprised he opened with such hostility when he chose to be straightforward at the mission briefing. I also found it odd that he was so eager to accept the armada of vessels coming to the protectorate, ignoring the potential risks involved. At this moment, I believe them to be genuine refugees and aid should be dispensed to them. The Federation should offer the protectorate to do so ourselves, as it would create a dependency on Starfleet and we are more capable of carrying out this task than the planetary government. At the time though, I believed caution to be warranted, as these were a people enthralled by the Tholians and attempted to carry out a coup in their name. It seems logical to me that caution is warranted. Perhaps the ships should be scanned for anything suspicious while aid is dispensed. It is good that Captain Bishop appears correct for now, though it would be a large blow to the system should it prove to be otherwise. Perhaps I am wrong in this assessment. Captain Bishop is my superior officer with significantly more experience than I. I am, however, left wondering whether his actions would be the same if we were not the third party, but the ones in question.

Marcus continues to improve in his current home. He no longer has any fear of walking about the quarters. In fact, he acts like he owns them. His fur is everywhere and I found claw marks on much of the furniture, though I never caught him in the act. How unfortunate it would be for him if he is moved to the Pegasus after taking so long to adjust, though I hope this experience will assist him in the next. I had considered taking him out for a walk around the station, the the Promenade perhaps, though I think I will refrain from doing so from now. He seems to be an individual who wishes to adapt slowly. Captain Nimitz did promise not to shoot him. I will hold him to that. It concerns me that the Captain has a history of shooting cats. Perhaps I should teach Marcus phaser training myself? The Captain would never suspect a cat.

End Log.
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Error: Entry deleted. Unable to retrieve log.

Lieutenant Valore, Personal Log. Stardate 95535.8

The plan is in motion. I have been unable to confirm or reject the rumors of surprise PADD inspectors on Risa. As such, I have chosen to take the very necessary precaution of postulating that they are real and command intends to enforce 'quality leisure time'. It is highly inefficient. It is illogical. It is wrong. If I am to spend an entire week doing nothing and sitting on a beach, I may as well continue reading and writing reports. Forbidding us to work while on shore leave will only increase the amount of work that has to be done when we return. I have put into place everything I will need. Cryptography is a heavy subject but the proper encryption, codes, and contacts have been arranged. Red herrings have been appropriated to fool the PADD inspectors into thinking they have denied me my reports. When I asked Captain Nimitz to reject my application for shore leave, he chose to 'take it under advisement'. I believe that is his method of saying no. It is of no matter. If I am going on shore leave, I intend to enjoy it my way. Surrounded by work and reports. This endeavor has brought to me a very unexpected ally. I admit, it is far easier to carry out cryptography collectively and it is logical to work together. Still, I will keep my eye on them should they attempt to manipulate shore leave to their advantage. Like informing the PADD inspectors of my designs. These inspectors are a waste of manpower. They could be guarding vital Starfleet operations instead of Horga'hn statues.

I have also decided to take Marcus with me to Risa. He can, if anything, enjoy the air and run along the beach while having a panic attack every time the water touches his paws. I think he will enjoy it. For the purposes of his safety, I will take him to the medbay in the next few days to see if he can be implanted with a tracking chip should he decide to take a tour of the hotel. How unfortunate that he does not like collars. Perhaps he can make a friend. Captain Nimitz mentioned Marcus could play with Nagala. I think that would be good for him.

End Log.

Computer, delete previous log.
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Lieutenant Valore, Personal Log. Stardate 95565.7

Always be ready for an ambush. A tactical awareness is necessary at all times in the case of attack, even on the Promenade. Captains Derenzis and Lyn seemed to not understand this and they were more or less splattered in ice cream that was seemingly from Vanilla and Bust. It is a waste of good ice cream. Very inefficient. Very illogical. The perpetrators of this offense seem to have been children. I suggested informing their parents and having them clean up the mess they created, but Captain Lyn seemed to not be concerned. She let them go without a care. While it is a concern, I think I will write a simple note to Security and leave it at that. My concern is not punishment but removing this idea from the heads of those idiotic children. Without consequence, they will simply repeat their actions.

There is a long pause.

Why I am wasting time with something as insignificant as this? There are much larger concerns. Am I attempted to evade them? Procrastination is not something I recall myself utilizing often. Prior to the incident related to confections, I found myself in a conversation with Captain Lyn and Commander T'Shair. What I saw and heard was... disturbing. The Commander was... acting highly emotional. She was... smirking and making comments towards Captain Lyn that could be considered...

She coughs and clears her throat, leaning in closer to the PADD to whisper.

...flirtatious.

There is another long pause, silent except for another clearing of the throat and a cat's meow.

I found it concerning. The two of them were... criticizing my utilization of logic. Captain Lyn, I understand. She gains pleasure from antagonizing others. But T'Shair? A Vulcan!? It's emotional. It's illogical. It's stupid. It's wrong. I thought that perhaps something was amiss with the Commander. For Captain Lyn's sake, I attempted to... inquire, rather awkwardly at that, whether the Commander is undergoing Pon Farr... to which she replied in the negative. That leaves only one other option. The Commander is...

Yet another long silence fills the log, save for what is either an engine or a cat purring.

...deranged. I think the Commander is not of sound mind. I think she may need counseling. Perhaps I should reco- no. No, it's not my place. If she needs counseling, a superior officer can recommend it to her.

I may as well sign up too. It seems as though I am proficient at upsetting people. Captain Ailes is the latest subject of this situation. She seemed adamant in making it clear to me that any decisions she makes will not involve logic. I suppose I should show concern... but it doesn't matter. It's not my posting anymore. It doesn't concern me and I'm most definitely not going to argue with a superior officer. She seemed to get even more angry, though. For some reason, she changed the conversation to Captain Nimitz. It was irrelevant and illogical but I entertained the subject. It was uncomfortable, though. It seemed as though I was being expected to defend the Captain. I wanted to depart, but at the same time I think that would have made an even worse impression. She demanded to know why I expect logic, bringing up Captain Nimitz as my commanding officer. I told her my opinion, that I think he acts logically in almost every circumstance. I don't think she believed me. But that shouldn't matter, should it? It was my opinion. Am I supposed to change my answer to suit the expectations of another? I don't know what to do. Some people say yes, some people say no. It's like when Captain Bishop reacted negatively to me. I try to say what I believe, but that is clearly wrong. She went to speak with Captain Nimitz and now I believe he may start to develop a negative opinion of me. I'll just remain silent from now on. I'll offer facts and figures, but I'll leave the opinions to my superiors. I don't want to offend them. I don't want them to be angry. I don't want this to continue. I don't want morale to be lower. I don't want to be inefficient. I don't want to go to Risa.

There is another pause. Longer than any other.

I don't want to go to Risa. A week ago, I would have answered in the affirmative. I have made plans. Arrangements. Wrote entire ciphers. Acquired contacts. I was ready for Risa. There was a sunk cost and I was unwilling to let the work go to waste.

And then the Pegasus was attacked. And now three people are dead. Even more on the Romulan Warbird. It was an act of war on the Federation and this is how we respond? Waste time on some meaningless resort while more ships are attacked? If the Pegasus was not so severely damaged, I would have recommended to Captain Nimitz that he cancel shore leave and go hunting. We cannot allow this to continue. Perhaps they will start to prey on civilian ships next? Or attack colonies.The perpetrators need to be brought to justice. They need to be dismantled. Potentially, they need to die. At first, I had thought I was acting illogically in this conclusion. After proper meditation and introspection, I believe I am correct in this analysis. Whoever the perpetrators are, they are from the future with knowledge and technology beyond our own. They could contaminate the timeline. What if I find out something using temporal knowledge, and then act on it? The entire future could be changed. A butterfly beating its wings could create a sandstorm. They need to be stopped.

A meow is heard, louder this time. Something is turned over and hits the floor.

Yes, Marcus. I know. It's food time. Your favorite time of the day. Let's go, we have to get you ready for Risa.

End log.
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The sound of waves crashing against the beach is heard along. Unlike previous logs, this one does have video. However, it is oriented to the beach with Valore not in sight. A cat does sit on the dry sand though - bathing himself. Every time a wave crashes onto the beach, he looks at it expecting a monster to pop out.

Lieutenant Valore, Personal Log. Stardate... it doesn't matter.

She spoke though it sounded muffled. Perhaps she is speaking directly to the sand?

They lied. They must have. It's what they do. Cullum and Isadora were in on it together. They must have been. Isadora created this... this 'game' just to get to me, then Cullum forces me to- to-

The PADD falls onto the sand, camera first. Valore does reorient it before continuing.

It was blood. From something. But it wasn't replicated. I know it wasn't. Cullum didn't give an answer. He let Isadora pretend to ask the bartender and come back with a lie. Captain Nimitz told me that they grill their food and it is real. This must be how they dispose of their blood. Savages. Barbarians. Eating animals in this day in age. Killing innocent creatures for nothing more than personal enjoyment. And now they use their dirty tricks to have me join in. I could feel my insides turning inside-out. I drank some seawater just to purge myself of this filth. I anticipated inspectors would be forceful, but...

A wave came too close to the cat, wetting part of him. He sprang up like death itself has come for him, running wildly towards the camera and knocking the PADD over. Now the camera showed the stars. It was nighttime now.

I've had enough of this. I didn't want to be here. This wouldn't have happened on the station. I don't want this.

What appears to be Lieutenant Valore from the sight of the shirt and vest rolls her back onto the PADD. Now the camera doesn't show anything.

Somebody tried stealing Captain Nimitz's command codes. I'm sure of it. Once I find out this PADD's true purpose, I will have them. I am not in the mood for games. I will crush them. They will not fool the Captain on my watch.

The log ends.
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Lieutenant Valore, Personal Log. Stardate 95584

The camera is on again. It shows the PADD is sitting on a beach lounger, aimed at the sea. It is nighttime. There is no cat this time. From the sight of legs and feet, Valore appears to be sitting on a lounger directly to the left of it.

I think Commander T'Shair just ended my career. Yes, that's correct. I think the Commander sank my career. 'How?' future self asks, having difficulty recalling the incident. Perhaps ten years later because the memory is so far repressed to the very back of the mind. She pulled a phaser on a teenager. Yes. Yes...

Suspicious things had been occurring on the Promenade. Several days ago, an individual masquerading as an officer tried to steal Captain Nimitz's identity. Just ...today, I received the same fake message warning of a Klingon attack and shore leave had been cancelled. Attached was what is probably a virus of some sort, designed to steal information no doubt. Given how everything is centered around the Promenade, I decide to observe it and see what happens at night. Do I find something? Of course I do. Is it what I wanted to find? ...of course not.

I see two youths breaking into the establishment. They were sneaking behind the bar when the staff weren't there. It immediately comes to mind that they intended to steal something. Maybe also vandalize the place too. Kids. When I intervened, they attempted to flee but I managed to catch one and Commander T'Shair was there to apprehend the other. I recognized them of course. Because of course they /had/ to have been the same ones. They were the ones responsible for throwing water balloons at several officers including myself the same day. One of them was also complicit in throwing ice cream at several officers on the Starbase a week or so ago. Good ice cream too, which makes it doubly criminal.

One of them escapes, but I try to negotiate with the other one. Kids are simple, yes? All they want is personal selfish gain? It should be easy, yes?

Of course it isn't! He isn't budging, even after I decided to let him keep the backpack that was confiscated from him for the balloon incident. Why? Apparently kids have committees now. What are our schools teaching these children!? Was I like this!? I can't have been. I don't recall ever being this horrible as a child. Was I?

...enough of that. So what happens next? I hand him off to Commander T'Shair. I figured the Commander has more experience telling people what to do and getting that sort of thing through because of her position. Should be that way, yes? Right?

...of course it isn't. Again. Because what does the Commander do? She draws a phaser. Yes. A phaser. On a child. Because that's perfectly logical. Oh wait. THE COMMANDER ABANDONED LOGIC FOR EMOTION. REMEMBER, VALORE!?

At this point, she's yelling into her log. A new thing for sure.

I don't even stop to think or negotiate. I try to grab her arm and yell at the kid to run. This is insanity. She threatened a child with a phaser. A... water pistol, as it turned out to be. BUT HE DIDN'T KNOW THAT! I DIDN'T KNOW THAT! HE'S PROBABLY A BUNDLE OF FEAR AT THIS POINT! I SAW HIS FACE! I DON'T NEED TO BE A COUNSELOR TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT LOOK MEANT!

I can't believe this. This is horrible. This is terri- breath, Valore. Breath. Fear is illogical. Fear is illogical. Fear is illogical... yes there seems to be quite the lacking of logic on Risa...

What am I supposed to do now? I don't know what to do. What do I do? I-I have to tell Captain Nimitz.

End log.
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Lieutenant Valore, Personal Log. Stardate 95742

I have been reviewing previous personal logs. I am tempted to delete a few, given how inappropriate they seem to be in hindsight. My circumstances have changed since the last log. The operations of the Pegasus continue normally, save for a moment in which the Captain's reason and sound judgement seemed to have eluded him during a trap laid by the Sokaarians.

Regardless, all is presently as it should be. Save for perhaps one issue. The Captain has ordered me away from shifts for the next two days for no apparent reason. It is purely illogical. Perhaps the Sokaarians continue to hold some influence over him? He clearly showed desire for the highest efficiency when he was praising the Pegasus' emergency mobilization times. I need to monitor this further.

I've arranged a workaround to this situation. Rather than operating on the Pegasus for the next two days, the Rear Admiral has agreed to allow me to assist him with administrative duties during my leave. He is... difficult to read. He seems to be a realist guided by a minor compass, perhaps. I recall after the quarantine, he informed me that he was in his office doing paperwork the entire time, despite that being untrue. Of course, he wished to prevent instability and uncertainty. It seems to be in his character, as he doesn't seem to be much of an ambitious backstabber. He reminds me somewhat of Father, except I have yet to hear the Admiral say anything reactionary or xenophobic as of yet. Though granted, he is in a more professional setting. Regardless, he seems to be an individual worth keeping- what is the human phrase? Maintain an eye on the person? Humans seemed to have really enjoyed removing body parts before FTL.

I have yet to understand the Captain's reasoning for this leave. I suspect he may have lost confidence in me. I should review my work performance and make alterations where necessary. Except I already did that about thirty times. I have great trouble understanding these captains at times. It seems all of them desire completely different junior officers, or perhaps a completely different Starfleet.

I suppose there is a downside to this. I have to meet with Lieutenant Cullum. How that man became the Admiral's yeoman is beyond me. He seems completely incapable to me. I saw him cowering under a table when the Porter was approaching Event Horizon. Yes, because a table would most definitely save him from such an enormous collision. Truly excellent thinking, Lieutenant. You're on your way to Captain with that logic. Speaking of logic and lackthereof, T'Shair had the gall to try and encourage a romantic relationship between myself and the lieutenant. Utterly illogical.

That is perhaps the word to describe Lieutenant T'Shair. Illogical. The moment she began abandoning logic, she completely lost herself. She even attempted to flirt with me. First Captain Lyn, then Derenzis, now me. Why? Because someone clearly abandoned Surak's teachings. And yet she had the idea to lecture me on logic at Vanilla or Bust. Why do I even try to help her? What is the point? I told her no. She practically ran off. I told Captain Lyn that she shouldn't support T'Shair returning to Vulcan. Not with what happens there. But I can't help but doubt at times. I keep it to myself. Of course I keep it to myself. The moment these people smell doubt, they begin to pounce like wolves. Or cats. Or however predators pounce.

So yes. Life has become eventful. We shall see where this leads. All rivers lead into an ocean, as one might say.

End log.
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Lieutenant Valore, Personal Log. Stardate...95781.1? Really? Wow. It's late. No wonder Marcus is so active.

I sense a pattern here. Why do I sense a pattern here? The Pegasus has been grounded as a result of the Drozana incident. Yes. That incident. The secret mission that nobody knew about until it was happening. That the admiralty was supposed to know about but didn't. That was supposed to result in a simple conversation, not an attempted murder. Yes, that Drozana incident.

The admiral was disappointed. I could see it on his face as I recounted the events. Good job, Valore. You're so smart. Making yourself look like a fool, not just by making stupid decisions, but also announcing them to command. Can the Admiral's opinion of me even sink lower?

Of course it can! Why do I even offer such rhetorical questions? There are these caramel apple milkshakes they have at Vanilla, they must be the greatest things ever. Any individual with a semblance of logic would immediately gravitate to them. I decided to drink one because this day just could not get any worse when some commander and a human vulcanoid gravitate to me for conversation. Leeeet's... skip the details of what the commander wanted to know. Some of it is... inappropriate, especially for a public setting. And of course, then there were the political questions. Nothing too serious, so I decided to offer my opinions on the matter. The fact that I already drank a quarter of the milkshake probably didn't help. And so the lieutenant and I offered our opinions. And then she changed her attitude and became distant when the utterly unimaginable sacrilege of having different opinions on matters was discovered. Because disagreement is unthinkable, yes? Is she certain she is half-human? That's a very Vulcan thing to do. She wouldn't be out of place on Vulcan itself, I think. Personally, I think that-

There is a feline 'mrrrrph' and something heavy makes a 'thud' and hits the floor. The sound of hundreds of papers scattering across the floor's surface is heard.

Good job, Marcus. That's the second time you've done that. And each time, you even scare yourself. Good job. Don't look at me like that, this was your fau-... I will not be coerced into giving you-... please stop it with that look-.... Marcus. Marcus, if you want a tummy rub, you have to jump on the bed. I'm not doing this personal log /and/ sitting on the floor for this at the same time. Yes Marcus, I know you have room to stretch out-... fine. Fine.

Valore's voice becomes distant from this point onward. It seems she indeed moved to the floor with the cat.

We would've had that slaver if people just kept their composure. Captain Nimitz announced that it was a Starfleet matter even though we weren't in uniform. Not to mention the... false accusations that came afterward. Really, of all the stupid and irresponsible accusations to make, did the Commander really have to say he...-

The man was a slaver. He gets no sympathy from me. The truth would've put him in prison, I don't know why my superiors decided to make up allegations. It's irrelevant now. He can't run forever. Everything is connected to everything else.

Tangent, Valore. This is a tangent. Get back on point. I was about half finished with this glass and I started walking around a bit to clear my head. Where do I end up? Meeting the Rear Admiral in the hallway, of course. Hopefully, he didn't make the correlation between milkshakes and vulcans.

Not the end of the galaxy, lieutenant. Just excuse yourself and return to your quarters. Don't make a fool of yourself. Whatever you do, don't try to strike up a conversation with him for the next half hour. Don't make him even more disappointed.

WELL DONE, LIEUTE- oh, I'm sorry Marcus. I didn't mean to startle you. Come on, I'll brush you on the bed.

Valore's voice is no longer distant. A sad cat meow is heard, as though a cat was just deprived of his basic feline right to lay on the floor.

Stop complaining, Marcus. You're getting brushed. See? You like the brush. Just stop rubbing your face against it, it's rougher than your tongue. You'll injure your eye-... here, I'll brush your head for you. There you go.

Purrs are heard, growing in volume.

Yessss, life is good for you, isn't it? Perhaps you should join Starfleet. Or run for office. I could see you as the presidential dictator one day, purging anybody who dares deny you treats.

Back to the Admiral... I think I may have failed. Failed the mission, failed him, failed Starfleet. I can just sense another reprimand coming my way. I wouldn't be surprised if he's considering discharging me. It seems as though every few months, I'm involved in something that went completely awry. First T'Shair's incident with the phaser, now unofficial extradition on Drozana. And to think he actually wanted me on his staff. I. Am. An. Utter. Idiot. When I asked him whether the offer still stood, he gave me a non-answer and left. Of course he doesn't want me on his staff. It just goes to show that now he knows I'm an idiot, asking stupid questions. I need... I need more time to think.

I think I need another milkshake. And you need more brushing.

Tap tap tap. Somebody was trying to find the 'off' button. A half-dozen taps later and the log ends.
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The log begins. This log has a direct visual of Lieutenant Valore in her new quarters. Her cat is seen hiding under the bed. The Lieutenant had already changed to the red uniform from gold.

Her expression is neutral, but it is suppressed rather than absent. She looked down, straightening any wrinkles in the uniform, tugging down on it. She turned to the sides and around, examining it for any issues. Straightening out the cuffs, she proceeds to readjust the camera slightly as to get her face into the shot completely.

She takes long and deep breaths. They are difficult to keep intact, as her body seems to prefer quick and shallow breaths at this time. She reaches out of the scene, bringing out two pips. She places the first onto her collar, a full pip that would denote the rank of ensign if alone. The lieutenant exhales sharply, the air in her lungs escaping from a corner of her mouth. She placed the second hollow pip, denoting the rank of lieutenant junior grade.

She reached back to her hair that was at her shoulders, bringing it back and beginning to tie it. The cat in the background began to scratch the side of the bed. The lieutenant looked back, raising one eyebrow. The cat continued for several seconds before looking to Valore. The moment he did, he bolted to the closet at a speed that one could assume displayed guilt.

Valore looked back to the mirror, picking up a commbadge. She inspected it, turning it over. It was her operations badge from her previous posting. It even had all of the scratches on it from the insane missions. She set it aside, moving to pin the tactical badge onto her new red uniform. Same job, different uniform. It appeared crooked and the Lieutenant readjusted it so it was fairly straight. Unsatisfied, she continued to make small adjustments that improved its orientation or worsened it until it was just about as straight as it could be.

She looked back to the camera. There was likely a mirror behind it. She flexed the muscles in her mouth and cheeks, trying to loosen the stiffness that was apparent and profound in her posture. There was negligible success, but it was there. She opened her mouth to speak.


Sometimes, we are left with no good choices.

The statement was clearly to herself. It lacked any forcefulness behind it, as though she intended it to be merely a whisper in the wind. She reaches out towards the camera and the log ends.
7 Likes
Scans of sketches have been uploaded to Lieutenant Valore's personal log record.

The first is a sketch of phasers. Several of them, both pistols and rifles, are to be inserted into the desks of both the Rear Admiral and the Yeoman.

There was a Plan B, in which the phasers would instead be inserted into the walls or inside the potted plant.


REJECTED

In large red letters read the rejection. There were, of course, more pages.

The next showed what appeared to be a water tank right in front of the Rear Admiral's desk underneath a trap door. A chair stood atop the door. Finally, that office would have chairs! Inside the water, Valore had drawn what appeared to be piranhas.


BAD IDEA

The answer read in the negative. Too bad. It could've dealt with the Admiral's enemies. Unfortunately, according to the notes Valore added in, piranhas don't seem that effective unless they are starving, and there are several listed reasons why doing so would be unethical.

The next was essentially the same drawing, except with sharks.


PENDING

Another entry had a weapons locker added to the office with phaser pistols and rifles. However, it seemed to be designed so that the back wall of it could be removed to reveal much heavier arms, including a sniper rifle and potentially a disruptor.

PENDING

Not rejected just yet. Oh well. Onto the next idea. A lone jeffries tube would be connected only to the Rear Admiral's Office and a shuttlebay for emergency evacuation, with no other entries or exits.

UNDER REVISION

Well. At least it wasn't rejected. The final page involved sentry guns. Yes, sentry guns. Armed with phaser miniguns, they would be inserted into the walls. Unlike previous ideas that were manually activated with a false wall or button underneath a desk, these phaser sentries were designed to respond to a hostile IFF. They were designed to pop out of the wall at a moment's notice and fire on an unsuspecting assassin at levels ranging from heavy stun to vaporize, depending on the situation in the Starbase and whether there was an active boarding action.

REJECTED
6 Likes
Valore was on her stomach, laying on her bed. There was an empty milkshake glass beside her, with only the cherry remaining. A cat sat on the bed, pressing his paws in an alternating fashion against the bed as though testing it.

I look like an idiot.

Valore commented, her face slightly green and her speech somewhat slurred.

An idiot and a fool. Of course the Republic would balk once they can't break into the Admiral's real office. Now I look like an idiot. I convinced the Admiral to allow something that wouldn't happen.

She patted at the bed sheet until she found the milkshake glass, fishing out the cherry and popping it into her mouth.

I convinced the Captain to give me resources and personnel. I wasted her time. I wasted their damn time. I wasted the Admiral's time. That posturing sublieutenant with his snide tone and his boastful laugh. I'm trapped. I am completely trapped. Utterly. The Admiral won't budge and neither will the Sublieutenant. What am I supposed to do? This situation was rigged from the start, The Sublieutenant doesn't care to the lengths I went to nor does he seem to care about anything but his own personal efficiency.

The lieutenant rolled onto the PADD, her voice becoming muffled. A feline yelp is heard. It seems the PADD wasn't the only victim.

I'm sorry Marcus. Come here. Please come here. Fine. Nevermind. Leave me then. I'm left to face everything alone as always.

Moments pass, followed by a long sigh.

I didn't mean that Marcus. I'm sorry. Come here. Hold on. I'm just going to pick you up, stop complaining. I'll give you extra food tomorrow. Everything is so infuriating right now.

She dug the PADD from underneath her. The sound quality returned.

I need another milkshake. With strawberries. And caramel. Why did it have to be sugar? Humans become inebriated from that disgusting throat-burning garbage. They can eat all the ice cream they want and not even have to be in a private setting.

Valore threw the PADD across the room. It hit the wall with a thump, and hit the floor with another thump.

Why did it have to be Romulans? He's not even-

The log ends.
5 Likes
The log was recorded at 95959.3. Since the last video log, a new cube-like sculpture and book of Cardassian enigma tales now decorate her shelf. The lieutenant is sitting in a chair with a cat in her lap that continuously smacks his tale against the lieutenant's leg.

It wasn't real. Holograms aren't real. It doesn't matter if it looked real. Or sounded real. Or behaved realistically... it is real. Maybe it wasn't a creature that existed in our world, but there was no difference in killing an animal on the holodeck and killing one on some world somewhere. It requires the same actions, the same moral abandonment... the same eagerness to kill a fellow living thing.

The Federation prides itself on its diversity of beliefs but... I cannot see how this could do any good. There is a divide between what is right and wrong, and if a culture revolves around killing some innocent animal, I cannot see how it is anything but wrong. Sometimes I think that coexistance is not enough. Integration requires effort from both peoples, not just one. Sometimes beliefs and practices have to die. An animal doesn't deserve to die.

I saw the Admiral when he killed that bird. There was no hesitation. No thought. He killed it the moment he thought its feathers would suit his purposes. Success was more important than anything else. It was more important than the life of an innocent creature. It's... exactly what you would do, isn't it?

She uttered a short exhale, giving the cat head scratches. The feline closed his eyes, raising his chin.

I was right. The Admiral is so much like you. Total and complete success is all that matters. Any casualties are irrelevant if they have no effect. It's illogical and immoral. And you know that. It's about control. Power. Command. And you wonder why I don't write to you anymore. Why all you get when you send me your gifts every year is confirmation that the delivery was made. What did mother see in you?

She scoffed. The cat looked to her, and she began giving him a scratch under the chin, and the feline's eyes shut once more.

What a stupid question. Even you would tell me that it was a stupid question. She saw exactly what you wanted her to see.

The log ends.
2 Likes
Father,

I'm sending you a painting. The painting. The one we talked about. My hypothesis proved correct and it has done what I expected it to. Things are changing so quickly, I almost have issue outpacing everything. Thank you for your advice on the matter when I was on Vulcan. It did help. No, I do not know when I will return, or whether I will. This has changed little.

Computer, send message.

Valore laid the PADD against the console, swiveling on a chair to inspect the painting resting against her wall. #125.

Even I didn't expect such a sudden change, but the admiral is impressed. More so now that I've taken care of another unforeseen issue. Hopefully, it will continue. I've found conversation with the admiral to be more difficult as of late, though I suspect it is not entirely unilateral. Still-

She placed the knuckle of her index finger against her upper lip.

It is predominantly beneficial. And recent matters have allowed me to extend further to the benefit of Command. Dealing with the... Wing Commander was a simple matter of utilizing the right channels. Though I must admit that I find the admiral's reactionary approach to the Azedi to be interesting, given his choice of strategy. It is worthwhile to observe more.

She reached down, picking up a cat and holding him in her arms. One hand scratched his neck and head, and the cat closed his eyes slightly.

And Marcus is doing well. A shame his future friend prefers evasiveness, but it is of no consequence.

She whispered to him, giving him a chin rub.

You're not ordnance. You're fit for command. Maybe you'll be in charge of the galaxy one day.

The cat appeared conflicted. At one end, he didn't like being whispered to. On the other, chin rubs...

I'll take you to the holodecks so you can roll around in the grass for an evening. I suspect you'll find it agreeable. Computer, end log.
5 Likes
Recording unavailable.

Valore sat at the end of her bed, a cat in her lap. She focused on petting him as she began speaking.

Expect the unexpected. Advice I would give another, yet I have nothing to display for it. What contingency did I offer? What did I even consider?

She asked these questions of the cat. He looked up, closing his eyes halfway as the scratches made their way to his head.

I grow weary of losing, Marcus. Little was gained and much was lost. I am certain that I have made the best choices, but were they the right ones? Everything becomes confusing when in the fast current of the river.

The cat, sick of the monologue, jumps out of Valore's lap. As he kicked away, Valore exhaled sharply as the air in her departed violently.

He is my friend... I do not know why. It seemed to be a benevolent idea at the time, but...

The cat meowed, standing in front of the door that led to the hallway.

Not now, Marcus. I will take you for a walk later.

Valore glanced at the door, turning her gaze to the floor soon after.

It was a mistake. It is always a mistake. These connections merely make it harder. I am becoming too emotional. Once this is done, there will be no more. I can not have room for friendship, there is too much that must be done. I cannot let anything interfere.

Mrrreeeeoooow. Meeeooooow.

Not. Now. Marcus.

You always spoke of the one thing more powerful than material. I do not know how you balanced it. To associate with people and call them friend, yet to not be emotionally tied to them. I do not know what to do.

Meeeeeooooooooooow.

Now is not the time!

Valore snapped at the cat, her usual ice evaporating.

I cannot make this mistake again. Not again. Let this be a lesson to myself, and seal it there.

MEEEOOOOOOW.

Valore rose from the bed, moving to the door where the cat was waiting.


You wish to leave? Then go.

She opened the door to the hallway. The cat appeared surprised, not having expected the door to open. The door. He'd never left the quarters himself. There were other people... he backed away, unsure about this. Or at least he attempted to, as Valore's ankle pushed him out, the door closing behind him. He attempted to scratch on the door, but to no avail. He would have to navigate this unfamiliar labyrinth himself.

To think I agreed with the notion. Or even entertained it myself.

She approached her shelf, rummaging through her things. It was fairly disorganized, compared to the rest of the room that was essentially mentally cataloged. She moved aside a terracotta cube, a few books, oh look a Cardassian enigma tale. She drew out a half-mask, based on the Phantom of the Opera. A memento she acquired during the art gala. Something to remind herself of the unforgettable week of mock-intrigue and campaigning. It wasn't hers. It probably didn't fit her anyway.

Past the point of no return. The final threshold. The bridge is crossed, so stand and watch it burn. We've passed the point of no return.

The theatrics can be absurd sometimes. I apologize for singing beyond what is comfortable for your hearing, Marcus.

She turned to the rest of her room.

Marcus-

She tossed the mask on the floor haphazardly, departing the room in a hurry.
4 Likes
Valore lay on the sofa, her cat Marcus choosing to occupy the majority of the space. He was a cat after all.

I cannot help but perceive this to be made in error, Marcus.

She spoke to the cat, with the feline turning his gaze towards her and giving a look as if to inquire into the lack of tummy rubs.

I agree. It is a brittle gambit, and I am not one for gambling. Not that I am very good at it, either.

The cat offered a yawn, moving onto his back as he invited a petting. He stretched his limbs out and Valore complied, giving him a chest rub.

You do have a point, Marcus. As does Nimitz. If I fail, little is lost beyond pride. Even then, that merely assists in the further propagation of logic. If I succeed? All the better.

The cat closed his eyes slightly as he enjoyed the attention, purring lightly.

I agree. It is snack time for you.
TO GBA4642@Submail
CC --
FROM SilverBisector323@Submail
SUBJ Good Day

Father,

I need a favor. Do you recall when I last traveled to Vulcan and you prepared mollusks? I have need of such a thing again, except with a doubled portion. Before you ask - no. This does not involve the return of normal communications. The less we converse, the more preferable I find this arrangement to be. I also need the raw materials that were used to cook the mollusks to be entirely replicated. My dietary requirements remain the status quo.

Also, if you could include snacks for Marcus, I suspect he would appreciate it.

//SIGNED//
SilverBisector323

TO SilverBisector323@Submail
CC --
FROM GBA4642@Submail
SUBJ Can You At Least Use An Interesting Title?

S,

I admit, your message confused me at first. Is it too fantastical to imagine that you would wish to speak to me again as though I am your father? Your mother's death weighed upon me greatly too, S. Everything I did, I did for you. She understood that just as well. Why do you refuse to do so? Speak to me as I am owed, not as a utility. Sooner or later, you will have to realize that you are not as different or disconnected from me as you purport. I will fulfill your request, but understand that this cannot continue in its current form. I want you to visit, S. Or at least write more often. I knew you would do well regardless. Just permit me to revel in my success this once. I will send the mollusks pre-cooked, just heat them up. Though I had hoped this dietary fad of yours would have faded already.

On a final note - dispose of that creature you carry with you. His slothfulness is only matched by his desire to rely upon you for sustenance and shelter. If he cannot care for himself, he does not deserve his survival. No, I will not provide you with 'snacks' for it.

//SIGNED//
GBA4642@Submail
2 Likes

Markus lay curled up on the sofa, enjoying his well-deserved rest. He brought his front left paw over to his mouth, beginning to bite in-between the claws to keep everything massaged.

Life was good. His food bowl had been filled more than usual, his requests for tummy rubs at two in the morning had been fulfilled last night, and it had already been past the monthly date to have his claws trimmed and yet they were as sharp as ever.

Most importantly of all, the Vulcan was gone. Peace and quiet had reigned the entire day, and he needn’t worry about incessant ramblings or sudden desires for pettings when all he wanted to do was sleep.

With his paws massaged, he lay his head back onto the soft cushion. Maybe another nap. His eyes began to slowly close until-

He opened his eyes, staring at the opening door to the quarters. Oh no, why couldn’t she have been gone for just a few more hours? At least enough time to get another nap in. Maybe if he just ignored her-

“Good evening, Marcus,” the figure greeted as she approached, offering a hand.

He smelled it. Vulcan? Check. Valore? Check. All seems to be in order.

“I would say my day has been quite agreeable. What of you?” she asked, beginning to offer a head rub.

The feline didn’t ask for this, but he wasn’t going to complain. It’s a pain to scratch anything on the head, what with the whole ‘lick the paw and smooth it over’ routine.

“As it happens, I have had a rather pleasant conversation with the Ael’Riov.” she continued, moving to pick him up.

No! No! No! No! He was so comfortable on this sofa! Don’t pick him up! He spent entire minutes trying to find the perfect spot! He’s napped here for hours! It’s nice and comfy, don’t pick him up!

Valore carried the cat off to bed, holding him tightly. As much as he squirmed, as much as he tried to return to his favorite spot, one of them was far stronger than the other.

“Whilst the day ended well, I must admit that it did not begin so. I had discovered an unexpected variable today amidst early socializations and-”

Let me go. Let me go. Let me go. As much as Marcus attempted to flee, he was stuck in the Vulcan’s grip. He stopped, calming down after his first attempts. As much as he wanted to leave, he must admit that he does enjoy midnight tummy rubs. Granted, they were not 2-in-the-morning tummy rubs, but very little in this galaxy could ever reach such a high bar.

“I found myself in the company of an oblique individual of Rihannsu and Vulcan background. It was a rather… confusing conversation, if I may be completely honest. He attempted to play a rhetorical game with me whilst pretending not to or not realizing he had.”

Marcus stared at the wall with a blank expression, gripping the bedsheet with his claw. He hated himself. These were his quarters. His haven. His servant. Now, he is to be rudely interrupted in the midst of an all-important nap? Yet, he tolerates this? Perhaps even finds this agreeable? Resist the pampering, he told himself. You are the one in charge. You are the one in charge.

“I believe I said more than I should have. Perhaps played into the desire for conversation. He brought up… a few points I did not expect. He is as cynical as they get, of that I have no doubt. I had thought that I was becoming the epitome of such a thing, but I see now that there is far more to fall. The way he seemed to assume I was naïve, simply because I believe in the greater tomorrow.”

The cat looked over at her. He had no idea what Valore was saying, but from the tone of it this was getting good.

“What would he know? He knows nothing, repairing ships all day. He does not even know what he is, I could see it in how he spoke to me and responded to my statements. He thinks that serving on a Rihannsu ship will allow him to connect with his heritage? It will do nothing more than tell him how he should act. There are those who lead, and those who follow. He would sooner adopt the beliefs of another than find out what it is he should think.”

These pettings were getting awfully intense. He wasn’t sure how to feel about it. It made him tense as well.

“I find myself conflicted now. He brought up Nathes, and I have only more ammunition to wonder about now. I must have sounded like a lunatic to her when I spoke of my own beliefs. Or did she see something in it? Or worse, did I see only what I wanted to see? I hate doubts. It seems as though all I ever have is doubts, compared to the others I look around. So certain of their actions, so certain of their just cause.”

She paused. Why did she pause? He looked over at the Vulcan, slowly closing and reopening an eye. Maybe that will resume.

“All of them, wrong. It’s what the Ael’Riov said about the galaxy always having something more to teach. Yet, I cannot help but feel that so many learn the wrong lesson. I’m speculating now. Into this, into Nathes, into the Ael’Riov, into the Dominion, and most importantly… into the Admiral. It has left me thinking about the Admiral, for the worse. No, that’s wrong. I have been thinking about this long before earlier today. When we moved to the command office, I had thought that there was so much we could do now that we weren’t being shackled. So much we could change for the better, to truly bring about long-term change.”

Valore hugged him again. This was too much. Hugging a cat once was okay. Hugging them twice wasn’t in the daily itinerary.

“Remember, Marcus. People will protect the system that gives them power. If people stand where they sit, then you can trust them as much as you can trust a chair. I need to get over this. The Vorta was right about liabilities, but I cannot shake it no matter how I try. Comfortability has always been a luxury I could not afford, but I find it comes so naturally when speaking to-”

Marcus Tullius Cicero has had enough of this person’s antics. Over the past half hour, they barged into his inner sanctum unannounced, abducted him from his favorite spot, interrupted nap time, and began preaching to him. He flipped around, grabbing Valore’s arm and sinking his claws and teeth into it tightly. While he did so, he began to kick at it with his hind legs. This will show them to interrupt nap time.

Nobody interrupts nap time.

12 Likes

200px-Chess_piece_-_Black_queen

Valore had taken to her quarters, late into the evening. Normally at times like this, she would be reading or preparing for tomorrow’s meetings. Instead, she had elected to try something new. A tarp lay over the dinner table, and the Vulcan herself had taken to wearing an apron. With a painting kit set up, she had taken to applying color to a wooden set of chess pieces. She considered carving the set herself, but she didn’t want to push her luck. Just painting was already a step outside the norm.

Another unexpected norm breach was her decision to not do so in silence. Whilst she usually did her reading or other work without distractions, she had chosen to play some music. Terran song generally wasn’t her preference, but she made an exception this time around. She had listened to a few Italian operettas in the past, so this was only slightly new.

She liked to turn off her Universal Translator for moments like these. The translation of the lyrics did not really concern her, but rather how they are used in song. Perhaps she even liked it more when she didn’t understand the song as much, and the words were mere incomprehensible sounds to her. Still, she hummed along and sang a few words and it seemed to help with the mood.

“O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao.” she mumbled along.

Her brush moved to blacken the bishop, humming along. She glanced over to the PADD sitting on the table as she did so, and the cat that lay atop it. She had been reading more reports on the Azedi, though now they were clearly claimed by Marcus. Only sapients need to actually read, cats just have to sit on the PADD to absorb the information.

Valore smirked at this idea, as though that explained the strange habits of cats to sit in the most inconvenient places for her. As she finished painting the bishop, she placed it with the others. She reached for the next piece to paint, pausing. Holding the queen in her hand and rotating the piece, she could not help but frown in the corner of her mouth. She liked making chess analogies, even if they did not always fit. The value of the pieces had nothing to do with their strength. Every piece can defeat another piece, but only one piece per turn. The value was dependent upon their flexibility - something that she had always valued in herself and her work.

Yet, there was always something wrong with that. She placed the piece down with the others, staring at it. Pride was the enemy. It made people self-centered and do stupid things. It turned her father into a blithering fool, and it can turn any admiral into a feudatory obsessed only with their position.

Most importantly, she hated that part of herself. The vulcanoid frowned outright. No matter how much she tried to bury it, it would always resurface in the cycle. Every time, she would try and distance herself from personal feelings to do the job. There have been no major failures yet. That’s what scared her. These last few months have been like nothing else; they are euphoria and optimism mixed with dread.

She was obsessed with her own pride. She knew this, as much as she wished it didn’t exist. She climbed the hill and found herself at the top, and now there was a part of her - a part in her very core that she could not separate - that wanted to tell everyone what she had managed to do. To show what she was capable of, and bring people into her path. She intended to bring about peace with the Azedi. It had become personal for her.

No honor. No sympathy. Only results. Results are all that should matter. When she is long-dead, the galaxy will care far more about what things have become, not how they were achieved. It was that callousness that she could call upon that let her deal with problems as they arose.

It made it easy. It made it efficient. It also made it cold. Heartless. What is a galaxy without heart? Perhaps she should start joking that she could never trust someone like herself.

She picked up the rook, beginning to paint it.

She dreaded the Admiral’s departure. Not for any real reason, though. Her entire week had been one of worry and stress. She still thought back to that day - an hour before the awards ceremony and he chose to brief her on what was about to happen. She still has yet to forgive him or let it go, she knows that much for certain.

She was pleasantly surprised by Quint. She expected someone like Konieczko, or someone who did not know how to run a flag office. She hadn’t expected to be emboldened with as much trust as she has right now. Especially her idea to reach out to the Azedi.

She paused, scoffing and shaking her head. She couldn’t help it as she just stared down at the tarp. Dmitri would probably have just wanted to bomb them again. It frustrated her. He’s just like Nimitz in that regard. Simple solutions for simple problems, issues that could be solved with a photon torpedo. Another reason to never enter politics, lest she begin designating councilmembers as unnecessary and expendable.

She moved to paint the knight.

Reaching out with a hand, she began to give Marcus a scratch on the head. The cat looked at her lazily, purring quietly. She didn’t want to admit it, but the Azedi matter had begun to worry her. It is about peace, about bringing change to an area the 38th really needed it. But that wasn’t her only motivator. Perhaps the Azedi are like a curtain, and peace is the string that is needed to be pulled to show all of the jingoists the error of their ways. That conflict only results in more conflict, and bombs only led to more bombing targets. Again, it was her damn pride that got in the way. And it was her pride that convinced her of the certainty and righteousness of her cause. It was so self-evident to her, and yet she could not help but follow along.

She took the queen piece in her hand again. After the Senator’s ring had been stolen, a meeting had been set up in the arboretum. Just her and a cardassian vole that certainly liked to make a lot of noise, with the Ael’Riov only happening to pass by coincidentally. She chuckled to herself at the comment he had made. Perhaps in another life, she would have been the political officer the Ael’Riov was so reminded of.

“Mrreow.”

Marcus wailed for attention, collapsing onto his side. With a sigh, Valore followed the all-too-familiar path of giving the cat a thorough tummy-rub. She cat extended and then retracted his claws.

There was a certain admiration to be held for those who take the direct route. Maybe that was why she was so initially drawn to Nimitz. He didn’t care for the repercussions, he just did what he thought he had to.

Is that what had drawn her so much to Nathes? She had already gone through all of the literature the Commander shared with her. Now instead, she found herself looking up political pamphlets written during the interregnum. She admired that woman, even if she won’t say it aloud. Say what is right, and speak truth to power. Damn the consequences, damn your career, damn the Empire. How she wished she could do the same. Just say what she believed and change things how they needed to be changed.

But she couldn’t do that. She knew that. Maybe it was cowardice. Maybe it was a lack of desire to throw away all of the investment into the current career or position. She knew what she was good at, and what she was not good at. The politics, the bureaucracy. It call came easy to her. Would the opportunity to deal with the Azedi this way have come otherwise? Maybe, maybe not.

Was it? She had never publicly spoken of her own political opinions. Until she met Kalris. Then she had trouble stopping. The warning she received from Captain Varley remained in her head, about how there was no need to have more officers start conflicts with the Vorta. She was right from a practical sense. Yet someone far above her in the chain of command could not be more wrong. The alliance with the Dominion will be the Federation’s undoing if it is not rectified. The Vorta are the enemy of all life in this galaxy, of all peoples. She had thought it over and over again in her head. Did the people who believe in reform truly have no merit? Is that not preferable to being enemies? Valore’s conclusion was one and singular. The Dominion cannot change, nor will it. It will have to be dismantled and destroyed. There was no alternative, nor was she willing to entertain one.

For whatever reason, Kalris found her an amusing or interesting person to speak to. Whatever the Vorta’s intentions were, her opinions have not wavered. Kalris is the enemy and would be more than happy to see slavery spread across the galaxy. To her, it was not
a gray area. There was a right and wrong, and the Dominion were wrong. She was certain of it, irrevocably so.

She paused again, moving the queen piece between her fingers. What would have happened if Nimitz never picked her out of logistics? That ambition for the quartermaster position seems so long ago, and so miniscule compared to what happened. It was so stupid. Maybe it was because she felt like a small minnow in a large ocean and wanted to find somewhere to belong.

Maybe that was what this was all about. The master of realpolitik could find no enemy they would be unwilling to become friends with, nor have any friends that they could set aside. As much as she tried to do that, she couldn’t. Or maybe she wouldn’t. It was hard to say. On a chessboard, pawns are pawns. They are meant to be exploited, used, and thrown away when they outlived their usefulness. But this is the Great Game. The pawns are people. She wasn’t going to just throw them away. They were whom mattered most in all of this. She could not forget that. She would not forget that.

Maybe that’s why she went out to lunch with Commander Mandra. She stopped talking to Alina some time ago, and they more or less drifted apart. But she never forget the Commander’s desire to host a music night on the station. She wouldn’t forget something like that. And if there was to be a music night, maybe people would be happy. At least Alina would be happy. That’s one more bit of happiness in this galaxy, isn’t it? That has to be worth something, right?

Still, she could not help but be captivated by what could have been. Would she be in the position where she is now? Probably not. Would she have been happier? Maybe. Maybe. The hypocrisy was so apparent. She joined Starfleet because she wanted to make a difference in this galaxy, and she would have been happier in a position that would have made none. What is the logic in this? If she could go back and change her decisions, would she? No. This was a question already considered. There are things greater than herself at play.

Valore paused again, turning her attention to the chess pieces she already had painted. Rook, Knight, Bishop, King. She knew who these people were. The people she needed to accomplish this mission. Valencia, Brohm, Sideris, Quint. A harsh example, but an applicable one.

Two questions remained. Who were the pawns? And would they be so easily sacrificed? Without heart, what is the point of the galaxy? Yet, it would be better off if she just did what she had to. In Command School, she knew the answers. She just gave the answers Starfleet wanted to hear. It was easy that way, just like in the Academy. Just tell your instructors what they wanted to hear, ignore your own opinions. In the field though, when the real decision was hers and nobody was there to interject, what would happen? What she thought she needed to happen. But what the hell does that mean? In an effort to keep other people in the dark, is she that capable of confounding herself?

Secondly-

She reached forward, taking the white queen in her hand and placing it in front of the other pieces.

What happens when she meets her match? Someone who cannot be maneuvered around or misdirected? ‘Their hands cannot hit what their eyes cannot see’ was always a useful motto to work from. She didn’t know anything about Azedi Intelligence Services. Who they were, what they did, what they were capable of. And if she met someone whom she cannot overcome? When she meets an adversary that is smarter, faster, and more experienced than her?

What happens then?

Already, she could feel her pride and ego. Pride is what ruined her father’s aspirations. It will not ruin her own. She will not let it.

The song was nearing its end.

“È questo il fiore del partigiano. Morto per la libertà.”

She should really look up the translation sometime.

"Come on, Marcus. It’s time to trim your claws.*

Perhaps Marcus should be the one in charge.

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It had been about six hours since had made her way back to her quarters, having spent the entire time face-down in her bed in full uniform. She grumbled in pain as the inebriation of her previous confectionary adventure was replaced by the pain of what comes afterwards.

She felt a weight on her back as four paws began sinking their claws in and out of her uniform before plopping down atop the Vulcanoid.

“Hewhro Marhush.”

With the cat’s incessant purring, she lifted her head to look at the PADD she had been looking at before she collapsed for an unscheduled nap.

Oh no. The nightmare was real. She buried her head back down. If she can’t see it, it can’t possibly be real. At least for the next hour until she forces herself to get ready for work. She can deal with the searing reality of an Admiral Bishop then. How could she forget? That moment where he promoted himself is seared into her mind, possibly forever.

She remembered how Bishop’s executive officer came to her in a panicked state. They had both been on-edge since the initial appointment. How Security ended up opening an investigation into the incident as a result. It was a burning frustration inside of her that refused to die - nor did it have any escape. The feeling turned to anger, and then- she had to change the subject.

Valore placed her hand on the PADD, sliding through several windows. She can worry about that later. She stopped at another one. An image from a few months ago she placed a grayscale filter on. She sighed. This PADD wasn’t being helpful, it was just making her introspect. Isn’t the point of copious sucrose to do the opposite? Or perhaps she simply held a predisposition to brooding. About this, about the Azedi, about the Fleet, about her friends, everything. How do other people live? Living from one day to another without a care in the world.

No, that is unfair. Living with only care for themselves or their immediate surroundings. Though it explains why friends are so few between. Was she really the only one who felt this way? To care what the Azedi think? To look beyond the pomp and circumstance of the Federation’s power projection and the Confederacy’s xenophobia? That there were people who awaken every day and live lives not too dissimilar to her own that could be upended or rendered entirely destroyed. And just how much of the Azedi state apparatus have they interacted with? Their military, certainly. Perhaps their diplomatic corps as well. But a confederation still needs as much effort keeping it together as it does projecting outwards. There is so much untapped potential that seems to be ignored.

It isn’t ignored. It’s your problem now.

Thank you for pointing out the obvious. Aren’t you supposed to be on my side, mind? This was just a ramble, something to keep the mind preoccupied. At least that frustration from earlier had subsided. Of all of the nonsensical rambling, one point had been illuminated, at least in the past. There was a sense of profound loneliness, and not for any lack of people. Understanding people was often easy. They screamed their identities, their aspirations, their ideals. Some louder than others.

At times, she felt envious of them. How easily they melded in with conversation, friendships, professionalism. Figures, she’d be on a station with more than ten thousand people and still feel alone. And yet, she became careless recently. Further reinforcement that she should keep out of polemics. Captains are chiefly governed by two factors - fear, and glory-seeking. They fear the unknown and prepare for war with anything that seeks to spite them, and then they congratulate each other on the back when the insignificant threat is vanquished. Always the short-term. Always only what is directly in front of oneself, never unable to think one year ahead. Ten years ahead. A century ahead. If nothing else, that is the pinnacle lesson she had learned on the Pegasus. sh’Sonora is the same way, perhaps worse so. She builds a strawman of her those she sees as her opposition, and attacks that. Those who defer from her strict ideology are caricatured as foolish or extreme. It was not the first time Valore had been on the business end of that bayonet. Though it did take her outside help to realize the depth of it. Thank you, Alina.

Valore allowed herself to emit a short muffled laugh. The act seemed to encourage the cat on her back to start purring. For a moment, it was a restful respite from her brooding. Though she could feel the break she had been granted quickly evaporating.

Is this going to be a a sordid session of depressive brooding, yet rendered in ways that only she could understand? And fail to describe to others?

But of course.

Did you really think that there is any silence in melancholy?

That there would be privacy in solitude?

She felt the cat conclude with his strange massage, opting to plop down atop her. Well. Now she’s stuck. She didn’t have the energy to really move, and now she wouldn’t want to ruin Marcus’ comfort. It didn’t help that he was getting heavier. She should start reducing his portions. Or she would, if he didn’t constantly give her sad eyes.

There will always be detractors. That is to be expected. The point is to surround oneself with people whom one can trust.

Is that the point?

She hoped it was. It least it makes it easier.

Easier? What about better?

Must that question really be considered right now? Marcus certainly has no need of such weighty questions, and he has a rather agreeable life.

“Isn’t that so, Marcus?” she asked the cat, as though he can read her mind. Of course he can, he’s a cat.

Her only response was a swishing tail that flew into her face. She took that as a yes.

It’s been some time since her last substantive brooding. Since then, her opinion of Nathes has only risen. Is it any surprise, though? She always regarded the commander with considerable praise.

Nathes had lived through - and participated in - the major conflicts of the last few decades. And yet, she learned lessons from it. Not just any but the -right- lessons. What the future holds, what has to happen, and the winds of change.

She thought, long ago, of something similar of Nimitz. Though that was her own fault, willing to see only what she wanted to see. She has to admit though, it was her own damn fault to be blinded. Yet the only lesson she learned from Nimitz was power in its purest sense. No direction No step forward.

She once saw Nathes as a role model. Someone to look up to. Perhaps even emulate. Though recently, she’s seen how that thinking is flawed. Predicated upon a hollow wish.

For years, she had thought that she was born too late. That the fundamental crucible of the modern day had been formed by the time she was doing what she was doing. Hell, Alina has several campaign and war medals. Had it been just a few years earlier, maybe she could have done something to contribute.

But now, she’s grown to understand her role. Winning a conflict is far simpler than what comes next. Maybe that’s what encouraged her to seek Quint out on being put in charge of the Azedi matter.

It was her pride talking. She knew it was.

Well of course it is pride. What else do you think it is? Hubris? Actually, maybe it is…

The next few decades will be of turbulence, uncertainty, and change. This much, she was certain about. This was the future, and it is something she was far more capable of handling than the past. This was what she was here for. Her gaze was at the greater tomorrow, at what comes next. Tactics win battles, strategy wins wars, but logistics builds empires. Her place was in tomorrow, not yesterday. The best was yet to come.

You are full of yourself, aren’t you? With an ego like that, maybe you should run for politics.

That was a tangent, wasn’t it? Still, thinking it over, Valore had no friend greater than Nathes. She trusted the commander utterly, something that could not be said for anyone else, ever. To be able to talk about -anything-, regardless of the subject matter. That was a luxury that should never be squandered.

Alina was… similar. Though not exact. Ironic, given that she always disliked Alina. The occasional remark or comment that made her want to leave and stop talking to people for the rest of the day. There may not be silence in solitude, but there is comfort.

As much as she has grown to appreciate Alina’s presence, there was a lingering concern that had been retained in the deeper, and often less open, part of her mind. There was something lacking that gives her pause to this day.

Trust. For as much as the chief science officer was her friend, it was a distinctively different friendship. Rather than weighty conversations in empty rooms, it consisted of more… nominal matters. Films, food, and other related matters. It feels less like one of substance and just doing things for the sake of doing an action. And it -feels- as though every important conversation goes nowhere. Either it dies in her throat, or it goes nowhere.

Don’t let this opportunity wash away. Reach deeper into the mind, find what’s been purposefully tucked away.

The thought was interrupted once again by the autocrat laying atop her. The feline stretched out his paws, yawning. It was a soft, weary sort of yawn. The one that compelled Valore to reach behind her and offer a petting. The cat stretched out his limbs to maximize his welcome.

Valore sighed. As much as she enjoyed this welcome diversion, the topic was on her mind. She couldn’t effectively let it drop now without addressing it.

It was security. As much as she wants to, there is a caution in the back of her mind warning her to not say too much with Alina. Something that she cannot ignore.

It was probably nothing.

Don’t you rely upon your feelings to assess people? Have your mind’s warnings ever been wrong?

She paused. Perhaps she just wishes that her intuition was always right, or maybe she truly believes it was. Either way, the thought - the warning - gave her pause. There’s a reason why she has avoided more sensitive topics with her newer friend.

She sighed. A matter for later. She flicked her gaze up at the PADD. Admiral Konieczko. Or rather, Citizen Konieczko. She stopped by his house on the Human planet earlier this year. She had a few frustrations she had prepared for him at the same time she sought information on the Azedi. Similar to Jung wanting her to write a letter and not send it, though more… direct. Though when she arrived, the words evaporated in her mouth as always. She didn’t expect to find him as happy as he was.

He was enjoying retirement, completely content with his life. Valore didn’t think it was right to bring up earlier problems, given that Konieczko seemed entirely committed to distancing himself from them. She changed her mind at that moment, letting him enjoy his distance from the problems of today. She thought it was better he had gone, and he seemed to agree so… why litigate it?

And now that he is gone, she has a new superior who seems to prefer the hands-off approach. This, she can work with, but it has come with the fact that she now has considerably more autonomy… and the weight of her assignments increase as well, especially on her mind. She has no room for mistakes, and any chance for it must be excised immediately. Leadership is a journey, not a destination. One must constantly prove themselves over again as new challenges are faced.

Her hand moved to her neck, an index finger falling upon her collar. As her rank increases, so will the weight of making decisions. At times, she’s looked to those above her for guidance and direction. What will happen when it is she that is looked to for what to do? At first, she was ready for it. Ready to jump into more leadership, assume command, and lead. Now? The decision weighs more and more upon her.

Actually, weight was a cat.

She found amusement in her mind’s response as the tail hit her in the face once more.

Will she be able to step towards the future? Or will her name only be mentioned in an example of how ideals die…

Regardless, she -did- feel better. As much as the negativity of her brooding weighed upon her, its conclusion did lighten her. Perhaps there really is a benefit to this. Her head seemed to clear, and she found the will - and also the desire - to get up. Or at least, somewhat. She reached behind her to grab the feline, moving onto her side as she snuggled the poor creature in her arms. Despite his clear preferences for choosing petting on his own terms, he was patient with her. After all, it -was- still tummy rubs. He purred loudly for a bit before meowing, wiggling to escape. He ran off into the other room. Valore followed with a sigh. Of course it was snack time.

She looked back at the PADD on the bed. Maybe she should frame it. Her eyes drifted over to the cabinet where she kept her commendations in a box. She didn’t win any this year. Then again, she didn’t expect to either. They were just pieces of metal or cloth to her. Not that she doesn’t like medals, her pride wouldn’t hear of it. Rather that the moments that mattered most to her, the ones where she felt she made the most substantive change - they were the moments nobody will ever hear about. Ones that she will never put in a report, and ones that she will never receive any recognition for. She preferred it that way. Attention would cause difficulties, and people like Captain Nimitz were more capable of wearing chests of medals and garnering attention for them. That photo was one of her real commendations, a sense that she really did improve. Actually, she will frame it. Marcus can rub his face against the edges of it, he loves that sort of thing.

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Valore leaned back in her seat. It was done. Witnesses interviewed, scenes analyzed, report written. She looked it over once, missing the syntax error she made halfway through the report. Sleep deprivation is a powerful force. The Vulcanoid leaned forward, clicking the submission button. There you have it. Now Bishop can read the first paragraph, disregard it, and do what he initially planned.

She was tired, and the more basic part of her mind was asserting itself. This is usually the part where there was some sort of inner reflection or pretentious attempt to comprehend the vast complexities of the universe. Right now, she was just thirsty and hungry and weary. The Commander forced herself out of her chair, having spent all day in it. She could have sworn she heard her limbs creak as though they were machinery in need of additional oil, but it was all in her head. Stumbling over to her mini-fridge, she poured herself a glass of… what was she pouring? She looked at the contents. Oh, apple juice. Sure, that works.

Valore took a long sip from it, practically shuffling back to her desk and easing herself in. She reclined back, resting her feet on the surface and looking up at the ceiling. Taking another sip, she exhaled a breath she felt like she had been holding all week. Up was down and down was up. Nothing this year made any sense to her. Captain Bishop was a terrible captain, but a slightly better admiral. Quint’s hands-off approach was both useful in promoting a talented cadre and also difficult to control them. She couldn’t stand Commander Mandra but now she was co-habitating with her. At least Duo hasn’t changed. Then again, she offered him philosophical advice so maybe he seeks to become emperor of the galaxy. She sipped again. Of all kings, it could be worse than Duo.

“Computer, play the loaded playlist.”

As the music played, a thought dawned upon her. A year ago, two years ago, she’d be bustling about to her next destination. She had a list of problems that needed to be solved every day in her head, and by now she’d be halfway done with them. Fixing the galaxy, one piece at a time. Now, she’s reclining in her office. What would people think if they walked in? The galaxy is trying to undermine her, destroy her will day-by-day. What would the plan be against such a gargantuan enemy such as entropy?

She sipped again from her glass, closing her eyes.

“Lights to level two,” she spoke and the lights dimmed to be barely visible. A candle would be more useful as a light source now.

“Seize the galaxy,” she mumbled to nobody in particular as her solution to entropy. It would probably be a concerning statement, considering that the only one with access to her train of thought was her. But that’s fine. That can be a problem for tomorrow. Right now, she was going to take a nap. In her office. In the middle of her shift.

If her past self could see her, she’d probably be slapped right about now. But that’s fine. Quality over quantity. Don’t try to solve every problem, solve the ones only you can.

She chuckled to herself. That’s a pretentious thought, isn’t it? Being the only one to solve a problem. She let adjusted to get more comfortable. This music does wonders for just resting and thinking. Then again, not sleeping for three days straight also does wonders to help with being tired enough to sleep. Maybe that’s what was at work here.

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