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Posted on Wednesday January 6th, 2021 @ 6:28am by Lieutenant Anjohl Gaden

Mission: Episode 1: Maelstrom
Location: USS Nightengale
Timeline: Day 0 at 0230

/=\USS Nightengale Nine Years Ago/=\

Gaden had been having a good couple of days. He was starting to adjust to being around people and not feeling like a swarm of bees was rushing in and out of his head. The Falchion had become a second home and he was already friendly with most of the crew and was drawing especially close to Gilik and the Captain. He drank a chocolate milkshake, wiped the milk off his lips then lay down on the bed. It was bigger than he was used to and both softer and warmer, but he still preferred sleeping under stars.

It didn’t take him long to fall asleep. He awoke to someone shaking his shoulder and they weren’t being gentle about it. The bed underneath him was no longers soft and warm. It was hard and uneven, the cold seeping through and chilling his spine. He opened his eyes and saw that the hand shaking him wasn’t human. It was dark and scaly and the eyes a luminescent yellow.

“Are you okay?” asked a guttural voice. Gaden looked down at himself, seeing he totally naked, then at the creature that had woke him up. He was well over six feet tall, maybe seven feet. He was covered in scales, layered over each other there was a ridge that ran down the middle of the man’s head from the nape of his neck to his forehead. The room he was in was about three meters by three meters, the walls limestone and covered with a dank green moss.

Part of his brain screamed at him that this was all just a dream. But his hands were manacled to the wall, the pinch of them around his wrists and ankles, the cold was familiar all too real, the odor assaulted his nostrils. It just had to be real.

The door to the cell, and cell it was, was suddenly kicked open. He could see a long winding, torch lit hallway. He shook his head. Whatever was going on, he wasn’t okay. The voice who had asked him if he was okay, was about to say something more, when one of the invaders, a large green-skinned man came over with an ax. He swung it and the reptilian head was severed from its body. Black blood splatter all over the hybrid teen and the smell was now overwhelming.

He was unchained and led to what had to be a torture chamber He was beaten severely. He knew it had to be real, the pain sure was. He recognized the man who was standing above him as the one who had wanted to rape him. He threatened to do that now, but instead, he undid all of Gaden’s restraints. “You have five minutes, then we start chasing you. If we win, you lose, we kill you.

Gaden rubbed his wrists and ankles trying to get some circulation in them and then started running at top speed. He was running through a maze It felt like there were a hundred dead ends and the sound of pursuit was close at hand. Suddenly, he found himself at the edge of a very steep cliff whose bottom could not be seen. He felt the heat of a phaser blast narrowly miss him and the took a flying leap.

He started to fall and know he was doomed. He was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it. He kept falling and falling and it seemed like he would never stop.

Then he woke for real. He was on the floor of his room, sheets twisted around his legs and he was bathed in sweat and trembling violently.

Dressed in nothing but a pair of boxers and a thin tee-shirt, his hair tangled and matted, he made his way to Gillik’s cabin. He leaned against the wall and pressed, then kept pressing the chime.

Gilik awoke with a jolt, sitting up so fast he felt dizzy for a moment. The chime sounded so insistently he didn't even bother trying to find a shirt or a robe. He stumbled to the door in his boxers and smacked the control to open the door.

"Gaden--what's wrong?" he gasped out when he saw the boy and the state of him.

The boy’s eyes were still wide with fear, “You.. you’ve got to help me, I.. I don’t know what’s happening. Please, can I come in?”

Gilik just reached out to place a hand on his back and ushered him inside, sitting him right down on the sofa and grabbing him a cool glass of water before sitting down at his side. "Tell me what's going on."

Gaden took the glass and drank half the water in it before replying. “I, I had this, I guess it must have been a nightmare, but it was all so real. I could feel the cold, the chains around my feet and hands, and the pain when I was hit. How could that happen? What the hell is going on? Am I going crazy?”

Gilik watched him curiously as he spoke. "Of course you're not crazy," he said in a low, soothing voice. "Sometimes nightmares can be terrifyingly vivid, especially at chaotic times in our lives... like periods of drastic transition and uncertainty. And especially so for empaths." He took hold of the boy's free hand and gently massaged it, working his way down to the wrist. "Do you still feel pain?"

“Pain, no, not really, but I still feel ice cold, but don’t stop doing what you’re doing it helps.” Then after drinking the rest of the water, he told the counselor the details of his nightmare.

Gilik carefully massaged first one arm, then the other, encouraging circulation and working some warmth back into his limbs. "That does sound very frightening," he said once Gaden had finished. "You're all sweaty--why don't you have a quick sonic shower and then we'll talk some more about it? We can replicate something warm and dry to wear."

“Yeah, I guess that would be a good idea,” Gaden said, as he stood to his feet and pulled off his shirt and reached for his boxers to remove them as well.

"Uh...!" Gilik also stood, immediately turning in the opposite direction. "The head is just... over there." He gestured without looking directly at the boy.

Gaden stopped what he was doing as he suddenly realized he’d been about to do something wrong. He walked into the bathroom before taking his boxers and getting into the sonic shower. When he was done he walked out. “I feel a little better, but I’m not any warmer. Did you replicate any clothing for me yet?”

Gilik stood next to the bathroom door, and once more quickly averted his eyes when Gaden emerged. He held out a warm, soft set of pajamas replicated to the boy's specifications. "These should keep you nice and toasty, I think."

“I want to talk about my dream, my nightmare, but why don’t you look at me. Did I do something wrong, is there something wrong with me, with my body?”

"No--of course not!" Gilik exclaimed quickly. "It's just... it's a cultural thing. I was raised to believe the body is private, and it's just a matter of discretion for me to look away if someone is undressed. If I were raised Betazoid, I'm sure I'd feel much differently."

Gaden wasn’t sure if he fully understood, but he nodded his head as he began putting on the pajamas. “You said earlier I could have had it because of stress, but I’m not under stress, why would I have it, and why would it be so real?”

Once Gaden was fully dressed again, Gilik wrapped an arm around him to reassure him and guided him back to the sofa. "Well, stress is more than just 'feeling stressed'. Drastic changes in environment, habits, and such, can have a profound effect on us that we might not even realize until it works itself out in strange ways. And the very vivid, palpable quality of your dream might be an expression of that, or... perhaps a not-so-desirable function of your particular biology."

“Does that mean I’m going to have more of them, will they get worse?”

"I don't think they will, Gaden, but I also can't predict the future," the Counselor replied gently. "You might continue to have intense dreams, but if that happens we can look at it more seriously, from a psychological as well as a medical standpoint. It might just be a rare anomaly for you, so try not to worry. Does the fear and intensity seem not quite so bad now that you've had a chance to talk about it?"

“A little, but I’m still scared. Can I sleep with you tonight?”

Gilik paused to consider what he was asking. It was hitting him how tired he was, and he wasn't sure he was thinking quite clearly at the moment, so he knew he had to proceed carefully. "Do you want to lie down here on my sofa? Or do you feel like you need someone next to you while you sleep?"

It’s been such a long time since I’ve had someone next to me while I slept. Would your culture allow it? Would you want to sleep with me?”

"Well... I'm a little more concerned of what people might think of me professionally, but I suppose it isn't really anyone's business," Gilik mused, stifling a yawn and rubbing his eyes. "I remember when we were younger, my sister used to crawl into bed with me when she was scared. There were times we were both scared, and it was nice to have her beside me then. I guess this wouldn't be so different."

“No, I guess it wouldn’t, “Gaden agreed, “and I think I would sleep better knowing you were there.”

"Alright," Gilik agreed in a whisper. "If this is what you need to get a good night's sleep after your nightmare, you can crawl in with me." He led the boy into his bedroom, and grabbed a set of pajamas for himself, feeling he should have at least that much of a boundary. "There are two pillows--take whichever one you want."

“Should I turn away when you change your clothes?” the teen asked.

"Well, I don't much care since I'm putting things on instead of taking anything off," he chuckled, pulling a soft t-shirt over his head.

Gaden watched him as he dressed, but tried not to stare, “So, you’re only wearing pajamas because I’m here? Is that because of how you were raised?” he asked innocently.

Gilik sighed. How could he even begin to explain the complexities of this situation, the implications going through his mind, without making the poor boy feel like he was being an imposition or doing something bad? "This is just more comfortable for me," he said vaguely. "I don't want you to worry about it. Let's just get some sleep."

Shrugging his shoulders, Gaden moved to the bed and crawled in on the left side. “Thanks for doing this, letting me sleep with you. I just don’t like being scared.”

"I understand," Gilik replied soothingly as he slid under the covers on the opposite side of the bed. "When I was your age, I always had to be the strong one, for my little sister's sake. I sure would have appreciated having someone to crawl in with--it would have been hard for me to admit but I was scared a lot too."

“You were scared?” Gaden asked incredulously, as he turned to face the counselor, “what were you ever scared of?”

"Oh, of course--plenty of things!" Gilik assured him, folding one arm beneath his head as he stared up at the ceiling. "I was scared of being alone, of growing up, of failing my sister, of making my parents' mistakes. Sometimes I was scared of my own feelings... or even just bumps in the night."

“Well, I guess it’s pretty obvious I’m scared of things that go bump in the night if I understand that expression right, and I am scared of my feelings. Scared and confused about them.”

"I know you are," Gilik whispered, shutting his eyes. "But for now, just know you're safe. I'm right here, and I won't let anything hurt you. We can talk more about feelings when you've had some sleep."

“Okay,” Gaden agreed, turning his back on Gilik and moving a little closer to him, but not quite close enough for them to be touching.

Gilik was still for a few minutes and then reached out a hand, finding Gaden's arm in the dark. He gave it a gentle squeeze. "Good night," he whispered.

“Good night,” he said, “you do make me feel safe.”

The Counselor smiled, resisting the urge to roll over and cuddle the smaller body next to him. It had been a while since he'd had a bedmate other than his cat, and it was a nice feeling.

Gaden, his eyes growing heavier was soon asleep, feeling comfortable and safe. He still had plenty of questions, but those could wait.


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