What shall we do with the drunken lupine?
Shore Leave - An Internal Affair
Location: The Shooting Bar
Sonny was busying himself around the bar. He had heard a lot of talk lately about there being some sort of Internal Affairs investigation. Not to be outdone on his own ship, he decided, as a subtle nod in the face of "the law", today's motif resembled a 2250's illegal Andorian Heat Den. Naturally he decided to make the temperature a little more comfortable. With it, came an interesting pin stripe suit, except the jacket and pants were short sleeved.
That's when the heavy lumbering footfalls and casting of a great shadow announced a certain Sirran's arrival. Dressed in simple camo cargopants and a tank top, she made her way to the bar.
"Why, if it isn't my favorite Sirran. Hadn't seen you in a few days. What can I get for you?" Sonny asked.
"Hey." Dina managed a faint smile and a wave, but she seemed out of sorts. At his question she considered a moment, then shrugged. "Something strong. Your choice. And make it a triple, I wanna get shitfaced." Beat. "That's the expression, right?" she flicked an ear.
Sonny's famous smile broke a little as he say what he could only interpret as pain in her eyes. "I got just the thing. This is Ferengi Fermented Slug Slime. Now, before you give me that look. It sounds way worse than it is. I would never steer you wrong. I promise, not only is it smooth, but it is strong." His smile returned. "Also, it has the added benefit of being a mild hallucinogen. Nothing crazy, but it makes the buzz way more intense." He handed over a glass of what looked like nothing more than water.
She regarded the glass with distrust, contemplating it for a moment, then glancing up to him before turning her attention back to the glass. She then threw the glass back, drinking the contents in one swig, closing her eyes and making a face as she swallowed.
"Oof. You're not kidding. That's pretty strong." she said after a moment, her voice that silky smooth, thick and warm timbre. "Keep 'em coming." she added, setting the glass back down on the bar. "Got some spooks in my head that need drowning."
Sonny poured another drink, but this time, practically filling the cup. He then put the bottle down next to the glass on the bar. "I can see that. I'll tell ya, you can drink till the targs come home, but the...Spooks...As you put it always come back. What you got rolling around in that beautiful furry head of yours?"
She smirked, though the smile didn't extend to her eyes. "Programmed to be a charmer, aren't you." She sighed, contemplating her drink again for a moment before continuing. "What makes a person good? Can you be a good person even if you've done horrible things to innocent people? Was there truly no other way, or is that a fairytale we tell ourselves so we believe we still have the right to sleep at night?"
Her questions were rhetorical, or so she thought. Deep struggles, conundrums of philosophy. And yet, the spooks in her mind. She tossed back the second drink, the full glass, setting it down and just reaching for the bottle instead. As Sirran she knew she had a cast iron constitution and it would take a lot to get her drunk.
Sonny seemed to contemplate the questions. As he speaks, he noticed the bottle past half empty. He then reached under the bar and produced a second one in anticipation. "I tend to believe there is good in all things, and all people. Sometimes you have to do things that you're not proud of. Sometimes, you are forced to do things you don't agree with. It's not the act that makes you evil. It's the way you feel after the fact that determines your alignment."
Sonny then blinked his eye and a small goblin looking creature appeared in the seat next to Dina. "You see this thing? It's called a Lumpra. Vile little creatures. They were a major plague on the Tellerite home world. They would get into machinery, and just chew it up destroying entire pieces of vital machinery at times. The Tellerites thought them no more than a vermin. Well, because of a series of breakthroughs, they found out that these creatures where self aware. They had a spoken language that the Tellerites were able to finally translate. They even had forms of government.
"They fit every criteria of a sentient species. The Tellerites had no idea. If it wasn't for one scientist to discover the Tabla Rosa, if you will, then they may have inadvertently eradicated a sentient species. Once the discovery was made. They found out the Lumpra's main diet consisted of the hard metals the Tellerites were using in their systems. Once this was discovered, they set up as many accommodations for the Lumpra that they can. The Tellerites murdered thousands, if not millions of these things before they found out that they were not mere vermin. Does that make the Tellerite people evil? Once they say their error, they immediately set out to make reparations. Does that make them good?
"These are questions the Tellerites have battled with for a hundred years. Some loose sleep over what they did to the Lumpra. Some, still hunt them for sport. That, in my opinion, is were you draw the line of good and evil. It's not the actions, it's the reactions.
Dina shook her head, before just reaching for the bottle and taking a swig that could floor any creature of lesser constitution. She did wince and make a face, pausing a moment to let the vile liquid make its way down before speaking, her voice a bit lower than before, her words slightly less clearly enunciated.
"Bullshit. Completely different situation. I knew damn well what I was doing and who I was shooting at. There's no defense of 'ich habe es nicht gewußt' No. I've earned these nightmares. And the only people who can take them away are the ones screaming and dying in them." Beat. "This whole damn carcass is rotten."
Seeing how fast she was putting down the drinks, Sonny blinked and a few moments later, a waiter came over with two more bottles of the stuff. Sonny cracked them both open and left them on the bar. "Did you though? I ingested the reports. You were defending yourself against someone that wanted to kill you. And you found out pretty quickly that the more humane action would be to kill instead of stun. From what I could tell, it sounded like you did not have the full picture until after, and then you did your best to solve it with as little death as possible."
With that, Sonny blinked again, and the entire room dissipated. Everyone who was there was suddenly gone. The only thing left was the two of them and a small 5 foot portion of the bar that was separating the two. "What nightmares did you earn? Because you survived? Yeah, that sounds legit. See, only the good can torture themselves this badly. If you were evil, do you think you would really care? Yeah, you may be the bad guy in someones narrative, but that's the nature of perspective."
Dina looked at him for a good long moment, her breathing slow and deep, though eventually her gaze fell, as did her shoulders. She shook her head in silence, flicking an ear. "Pretty words. I'll give you that. You should've been the diplomat. Not me."
She heaved a deep sigh, finishing off the first bottle with one massive gulp, shuddering a bit at the taste. "Does it really matter what I believe, though? Or you?" Her voice a bit more slurred now, though quiet and subdued. "People say I should forgive myself. That I had no choice. That's the yarn I spun the IA guy, whatshisface." she waved her arm dismissively.
"But I can't. Forgive myself." She shook her head, closing her eyes for a moment, a single tear threatening to escape. "Too much guilt. Too many what-ifs. Too many whys. And too much fucking screaming when I close my eyes to sleep." The massive being curled up her lips in a snarl. "And open up this damn room. Not in the mood for dark claustrophobia."
Sonny gave a sympathetic grin and blinked his eyes. While he sat there and watched her, the room started to light up. However, the light wasn't coming from overhead. It was coming from a sunrise in the distance. As the area lit up, it revealed they were now on a wide field on Dina's home world. The smell and sound of the native flora and fauna filled their senses.
"But how could you forgive yourself? You're not a monster. And I'm not going to sit here and say the expected, 'this is what you signed up for' line of garbage. You should feel guilty. You should be haunted. You should never forget those people who will not see another sunrise like this." He say as he gestured towards the sun. "And you should never expect to be forgiven. That's not the point. The point is this happened, and it was terrible. Now it's time to accept reality as it now is, and work within it's parameters. That may not sound as beautiful, or comforting as you wanted, but that is the reality."
He leaned in towards her a little closer. "See, I am nothing more than a big pile of code and wiring. My emotions are programmed. I'm not real. If I experience something that I don't like, I have the luxury of being able to erase that memory. If I experience something outside my programming, it creates an error, and gets purged from my subroutines. You do not have those luxuries. You have to learn to cope and manage. That sounds like a terrible process to me, but an important one to you. Healing is hard, but necessary. Don't forgive yourself. Don't forget their faces. But don't blemish them by ruining another life. You have some terrible things to atone for. Use the rest of your life compensating for those actions. And you can start by finding joy in life again. It won't happen right away, but it will get easier every day."
The scene was one of an idyllic, poetic beauty. The first beams of rising sunlight, warm in color and feel, reflected and refracted on the dew of the field. In the distance, snowcapped mountains, tall and majestic. The field itself, gras, damp in glistening morning dew. Birds flew overhead, interjecting the silence with their song. Flowers interspersed in the grass added their colorful presence.
A group of large, deer-like creatures wandered the field, megafauna, of a size and pride that humbled most similar beings on other planets. Sturdy legs carried strong bodies, as they lazily made their way across the majestic plain. And if one looked closely, they could see small, colorful insectoid, butterly like creatures, flitting from flower to flower.
Amidst this all, Dina slowly, shakily rose to her full height, her eyes now watering, mouth ajar. She gulped as the full beauty of the scene - colored as such by feelings of nostalgia for a world that had pained her to leave behind - hit her, strong arms feebly reached for something - anything - to hold on to.
"... Bastard." she eventually managed. " ... You magnificent bastard. Such a cheap trick to appeal to my emotions like this." Her voice quiet, though even so subdued still that warmth, hint of power. "Siridge plains. Yaso mountains. A herd of Deistra." Then he gaze turned to Sonny, and he saw a smile, faint though it was, shining through the tears.
" .. Thank you."
Sonny beamed. "I don't do this for thanks. I do this because it what needs to be done." He stopped talking and looked around as well, taking it in. Even thought he was a mere program, he was able to appreciate the sheer beauty and awe of it all. "I also didn't do this to pull at your heartstrings. This is beautiful. I can only imagine. Literally only imagine how much better it would be to see the real thing. This is a facade. I say that not to lessen your feelings. I say that to make a point. This, as beautiful as it is, isn't real. But it puts up a pretty convincing face. Behind it all is no more than wires and lights. That's probably going to be you for some time. Acting happy, enjoying life from the outside. But on the inside, hurting as deeply as you can. The difference is, this?" He gestured around. "Will never be real. But this," He placed his hand on Dina's heart. "Will eventually feel true joy again. Don't fight it. There is an old Earther saying. 'Fake it till you make it.' That's what it will feel like for a while, but one day you will wake up and realized, you actually are feeling joy."
He then blinked again, and the world faded away back into the Andorian Heat Den. "Until then, you can come here, and we can talk. You obviously have the counselor, but I understand the dynamic is different. There's a reason people talk to their bartenders. Also, I have two whole crates of the fermented slug slime. But maybe we should see how you feel in the morning. I'm told the hangovers are not too pleasant. As if any could be."
Dina shook her head. "No ... No this was not fake. It was a gesture, out of kindness. A reminder, of where I came from. Of the journey I made to get here. A reminder of the beauty that still exists in this universe." she spoke, letting him place his hand on her chest. Sirran physiology was slightly different, but only in where things were located, and she appreciated the gesture. "It was a kick in the rear. And just what I needed."
She sighed, sitting back down as the Siridge plains vanished again, once more making way for the heat den. "You're not 'just' a program, Sonny. Things like this - they don't just code programs to do that. Especially not to do them out of kindness." A pause. "And if you are just a program, then so am I. Synapses, personal preferences, education and instincts in a slab of brain meat driving a meat armored skeleton." she chuckled softly, nudging the remaining bottles of slug slime back towards him. "I think I'll finish up with a large mug of fruit juice before heading out."
Sonny nodded in gratitude for the kindness Dina had shown him in her words. Not a lot of beings think of him being more than just a well crafted program. He appreciated the recognition. He started to blink to have a holowaiter bring over the drink. But as a sign of respect for Dina, whether she recognized it or not, he got the glass and poured her the drink himself. "Just what the doctor ordered."
She did not realize, still caught in her own whirling maelstrom of moods, though she offered another almost-smile as she took the glass and tasted the juice. "Mmm. Yeah. That's nice." Beat. "Thanks again, Sonny."