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 Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]

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Thelos th'Zhela
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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:13 am

Thelos dropped his head for a moment. He'd been there, and had even remembered screaming a 'no' or two to stop her before she'd passed out cold. When he lifted back up, however, his face was set and determined. "You were at the physical end of your endurance, captain. The end. There is no such thing as forcing yourself to last longer, no such thing as being stronger in the face of that. You reached your limit, and there is no one who can condemn someone for that."

His tone turned soft again. "You gave him nothing. Your own mind saved you from that, and you endured what might have killed some, permanently broken others."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:29 am

Archangel's jaw clenched, battling the anger that bubbled up inside her, the anger that she still harboured toward herself. It was still a struggle, some mornings, not to let herself slide back into that catatonic state that had claimed her for so long after the incident.

"The physical self means nothing, it's just a shell. It's the mind that matters, the mind that must never break. No matter the pain or suffering inflicted, the mind must always prevail." She took a deep breath. "Maybe others can forgive me for what I did, but I can't forgive myself."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:34 am

Thelos crossed his arms and leaned back with a weary excuse for a smile. "The mind can break, sir. It's actually a painfully fragile thing, a mind. Sure, you can have training to buff it up and make it last longer, but it's rather like using a stick to prop a door closed. The mind can and will shatter if put under enough duress. I've seen it happen." Wind and ice knows I've seen it happen.

"But it can be rebuilt... but not if one insists on whipping themselves because of something they could not control," the Andorian said calmly. Mentally, he was seriously considering writing a note in the captain's file for more mental evaluation if things continued like this.

"You must forgive yourself, Captain. You help no one by hating yourself for something you couldn't change."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:48 pm

"Something I couldn't change?" Archangel gave a humourless smile. "Oh, Thelos, there were plenty of things I could have changed. I could have stayed on the bridge and worked from there to eradicate the invaders. I could have gone to that meeting armed like a sensible person. I could never have made the bargain with Jarris. I could have fought harder when he restrained me. I could have done so many things different."

She shook her head with a sigh. "Intelligence and command training taught me how to survive under torture, techniques to render so many different pressures useless, but I still failed in my task and duty.

"And a Romulan who fails in their duty is not a Romulan at all."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:56 pm

I didn't realize we were on a first-name basis, mm? Thelos puzzled to himself. He sincerely hoped he wasn't dealing with a mental break- he didn't think so, but it had to be a possibility and with a small child in the vicinity he had to be careful.

"Did you know I worked on an intelligence ship for a long while?" he asked conversationally, re-routing the topic for a moment. "The Delphia. I'd seen some of the... interesting conditioning that operatives get put through... How strong it can make a person." And how damned barbaric.

"It's not a flawless system, captain. Torture would be completely ineffective if it were, and since it isn't... there's cracks in the system. People can break. You can break. You did break. That wasn't a failure of duty, but a failure of a flawed conditioning. For you see, Captain, once a body gets put under a certain amount of strain... it's not in control. All the training in the world doesn't mean a damn thing once you're out of control."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:52 pm

"I am familiar with your service record, Thelos, I have read it, along with everyone else on this ship's," Archangel replied before barking out a harsh laugh. "Flawed conditioning? I know an operative who would be very upset to hear that. He worked so very hard in that conditioning."

She shook her head. "Conditioning or no, when I accepted command of that vessel, that means I swore to keep it safe. I broke mnhei'sahe, and there's no returning from that."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:20 pm

"My deepest apologies to the person who trained you, Archangel," Thelos said quietly. For the first time in the conversation, Thelos had dropped the 'sirs' and used her first name. He'd probably be lynched for it later... but he didn't care. "...But he obviously wasn't perfect."

The foreign word fell on Thelos's ears. Mnhei'sahe, or so she'd said, was something the Andorian only knew as some kind of honor code unique to Romulans. He couldn't begin to understand it's complexity... nor the impact that breaking it had on Archangel. All he knew was the situation at hand.

"So, you've broken it. Where does this leave you? If you're to be able to be the captain I know you are, then you cannot hold onto the past like that.... if not, you should probably turn in your pips." Though he was dead serious, his next words were much more encouraging. "However, you're standing here now. Part of you knows that you deserve this commission, and part of you knows that you're stronger than anything that happened on the Chin'Toka. That's not lying to yourself."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:34 pm

Once again, Archangel found herself confronted by the deep divide that different cultural norms left between humanoids. She closed her eyes, a pained expression crossing her face.

"It leaves me disgraced and dishonoured," she said softly. "Being a half breed, a mongrel was bad enough, but my dedication to duty meant that I still had mnhei'sahe. Now I have broken it, I am less than nothing." She looked back up at Thelos. "Gabriel worries. He always worries about the girls and the Romulans and the devils in black. I took the commission to help him build a world where he doesn't have to worry about me."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:45 pm

Thelos thought about that one, then remembered something he'd read in the recesses of starfleet's files as a medical case study. He brought it up because it applied in this instance... but he needed to know how much Archangel herself knew. "You have a friend by the name of Pardek," he redirected.

"Did she ever tell you what happened to her?" All rules of doctor-patient confidentiality seemed to have flown out the window in this instance. He looked at her with an expectant expression, one eyebrow raised.

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:50 pm

"Yes, she used to be a very good friend of mine," Archangel replied. "We fell out of contact when we were assigned to different ships..." Her voice trailed off, omitting the fact that she had, albeit not all that willingly, taken up with Revek, a man who had taken great delights in breaking Archangel to his will.

"I know that she had problems on the homeworld, with the Tal'Shiar. It doesn't take a genius to know that bad things happened, even if I don't know the specifics."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Thu Oct 16, 2014 10:39 pm

"I happen to know more details... only because It was part of the open data files that I studied," Thelos explained. He'd omit some of the more gruesome details, but the basic idea could be conveyed. "The person in question was tortured... so badly that she, too, broke as it were. I'll spare you the rest."

"You say she's your friend, or at least used to be... yet, she's a hybrid, a mongrel," he repeated using Archangel's choice of words. "...and she snapped and likely gave away information that led to the death of her parents. My question to you is if you think the same of your friend that you think of yourself, that she too is less of a Romulan, less of a person."

"Can you honestly tell me that, captain?"

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:26 am

"Safefta was a child, not an officer with countless hours of training behind them," Archangel countered. "In that instance, it was the Tal'Shiar who broke mnhei'sahe." She shook her head. "Being a hybrid in itself isn't enough to go against that code. As far as I am aware, nothing in her behaviour has warranted such a dishonour."

Taking a deep breath, she continued. "Romulans are creatures of duty. Duty to themselves, duty to their House, duty to the Empire and, in some cases, duty to the Federation. I failed in that, and such a thing is unforgivable."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:36 am

Thelos pressed the issue further. "Haven't I already said that training can only take you so far?" he said calmly. There was also the fact that he knew Romulan schooling and early training to be... vigorous, at the last. "And what of her duty to her family that was broken? She spoke, they died. Regardless of whether or not she was their 'commanding officer', isn't it true that Romulan bonds of family are an entire set of duty in itself? Bonds of house."

Creatures of duty, obviously...

"And if being a hybrid is not enough of a qualifier, then you cannot see it as a negative aspect in yourself, Archangel. There is no shame of being of mixed blood," he added, though going against what had often been taught on his homeworld. Andorians tended to be a racist bunch... Thelos was just strange.

His voice turned dead serious again. "You did not fail. You did everything you could and got hundreds of people out there alive, even given the torment you were put through. Yes, people died. People die during hostile takeovers. It is a sad thing that they were lost, and that your medical consequences prevented you from telling the families directly? Yes, of course! But it is a problem of life, captain. Things do not always go the way they should, and as a captain you must be flexible to that." Thelos himself had been knocked out of service for a very long time, himself... but though he felt bad for that, he didn't feel it equaled how T'Koris felt and didn't mention it.

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:49 am

"A child cannot be held to the same standards as an adult in the same way that a civilian cannot be expected to fight on the same technical level as a soldier. An engineering officer isn't subject to the same responsibilities as a command officer," Archangel replied shaking her head. "I don't know enough of the situation to judge."

Her expression turned hollow, hunted, as she looked down at the deck plates. "I didn't live up to the standard set for me and failed in my duty. If you cannot comprehend this, I understand. It's often difficult for others to get their heads around a Romulan viewpoint."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:56 am

"Oh, but I'm not talking about protecting the lives of a crew compliment, I was talking about protecting the lives of your family, which, from my knowledge of Romulan culture, is well expected of the teenager Pardek was at the time." According to her file, she'd already killed to prove her own worth. I don't know what kind of person Pardek is, but I'm going to assume she'd be insulted by this conversation.

Thelos's antenna bent to the side at the change in Archangel's tone. "It's difficult for me to understand because you have a warped perception of what's expected of you, sir. If you hold yourself to such impossible standards then of course you're going to feel that you've failed in everything you try to do, even when it was literally the best you could do."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:07 am

Archangel barked out a harsh laugh. "A warped perception of expectations? On the contrary, people have always told me exactly what their expectations are. 'Don't be Romulan', 'use your intelligence, you worthless hybrid', 'don't dishonour me or I'll end you', 'do your duty whether you like it or not', 'obedience is everything', 'fix the warp engines'." She paused to take a deep breath, trying to steady her emotions. "I made mistakes and people who looked to me to protect them, died. I call that failing."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:33 am

Thelos stood in silence for a moment, quietly observing the mother in front of him. One of his hands lightly gripped his own chin thoughtfully, must mostly to hold his mouth shut and prevent the disturbed 'o' shape that it wanted to fall into. "Whomever said those things to you... there are wrong," the Andorian said after a moment. Those words were nothing short of abusive.

"Wrong, do you hear me, Archangel? No one has any right to tell you not to be who you are, or to threaten you like that. No one." He was urgent, for multiple reasons... mostly out of concern for Archangel not only as a person but as a CO. "How can you serve as captain if you fall victim to the loathsome things that were said to you to warp your perception like that?"

"Tell me, captain. If you can truly tell me that you can perform your duty without being wracked by guilt by bad incidents in the past, then why are you falling apart, now? If the answer is that you cannot, then you need to get to the heart of the issue of why, which seems to be your personal impossible standards, and fix the issue. I say this sincerely for your sake, and for the sake of everyone else."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 7:13 am

Archangel looked down to the side again in a characteristic sign of discomfort for her, but there was anger in her expression as well. She turned back to glare at the Andorian, but her apparent fury wasn't directed at him.

"I serve as captain because some of those things you say are so wrong were said by Starfleet Command in the short time I spent as XO on the Chin'Toka and again when I took command of this ship," she replied. "I perform my duty to the best of my ability, putting my personal feelings aside. Emotions don't have a place while I do what is required of me. I'm not on duty at this point in time. Commander Arthur is." She shifted her weight onto her left leg, resisting the urge to lean down to rub her right knee as it protested her standing for a prolonged length of time. "I will do what is asked of me, Thelos. How can I not?"

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 7:20 am

"There's a difference between being told to fix the warp engines and being told that you're worthless because of your parentage," Thelos countered. "You cannot tell me that Starfleet command said that." And if they did, I'll eat my pips and resign my commission. He could see the anger on her face, and he couldn't help but be unnerved, but he didn't feel like the anger was actually directed at him.

"... sit," he suggested as he noted her weight shift and remembered her bad knee. The attention to that issue was only momentary.

"How can you not? When what you are being told is damaging you on a personal level, that is when you reconsider exactly what it is you're being told to do. Obviously this doesn't mean shirk your duties on a technical level. You're still the captain and must run the ship. However, being told 'use your intelligence, you worthless hybrid', 'don't dishonour me or I'll end you', or 'obedience is everything' is hardly part of what's expected to you, and it's damaging."

"You have all these unrealistic expectations of yourself because of that and it's tearing you apart."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 9:16 am

Archangel hesitated, then took the medic's advice and sat on the edge of the biobed they were standing around. The look of relief on her face was brief but evident.

"I know," she replied softly. "But so many people expect so many things of me and there's nothing that can give. Starfleet Command, the Star Empire, Intelligence services, my father, Gabriel and the girls..." Her fists clenched in anger as she forced herself to keep a lid on the virulent Romulan emotions that threatened to break through her careful control. "I have to prove them wrong. I have to prove that I'm just as good as pure bloods."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 9:47 am

Thelos very nearly sighed audibly in relief. He disliked to watch people cause themselves discomfort, even accidentally. When Archangel sat down, the Andorian turned to face her better. The look on his face was just one of someone who felt sympathy, but not pity. He knew most hated pity.

A hand was rested on the biobed as Thelos offered a pained smile. He'd touch her shoulder if he didn't think that there was a chance that those balled up fists could connect with his skull for it.

"There's nothing inherently wrong with being born of two species, Archangel," he said kindly. "You are an equal match for any full-blooded Romulan, or human. You have your family, Mr. Arthur, your daughters... and you have your crew. You have a fine family, ma'am, and a strong crew. You are doing an excellent job, and anyone who thinks otherwise obviously is blind to see it," the medic offered softly.

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:00 am

"'Doing an excellent job'," Archangel scoffed. "Maybe that's what I could have done before Jarris. Maybe that's what I did. But not now. Now I do this because that's what Starfleet Command needs me to do and because Gabriel needs to think that I'm getting back to normal." She looked down at the deck plates again. "You might think that being a half blood is nothing to be ashamed of, but that's not true."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:12 am

"I don't suppose you feel all right by doing that," the doctor said. "You feel like you're lying about being alright, and so you feel guilty about that too." He was more thinking aloud than actually addressing the captain, but that's how it came out. More therapy might do you good after all...

His antenna twitched at her last comment. Thelos shook his head sadly. "There's nothing wrong with being a hybrid, nothing at all. Some of the most prominent figures in starfleet were half-bloods." My cousin's a half-blood.

"Could you honestly go and tell..." he paused. "Go and tell your friend, Pardek, even, that she should be ashamed of her bloodline, too?"

"Who you're born to doesn't matter. You don't have anything to prove just because one of your parents had pointed ears and the other didn't," he added placidly.

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:32 am

Archangel let out a growl of frustration, jumping off the biobed and starting to pace in a short line, the limp in her leg evident and worsening as she paced.

"I don't care how other hybrids deal with it. All I know is what I have been taught all my life. Whether that's what you believe or not, it doesn't matter!"

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:44 am

Thelos's eyes flew wide and he took an automatic step back. He felt that at this point Archangel had met an impasse of logic and was refusing to accept it. Which, he figured, was pretty much expected. He just hoped he could get her over that hump.

"I don't just believe it, I know it," Thelos said, unshakably calm as ever. "There is no shame in this. It's a combination of two different DNA strands, just like most humanoids, barring my species," he continued. "As difficult as this may be for you to accept, what you have been taught is wrong, and is a horrible thing to be told to someone... that they're a shame because of something that has no affect on anything and cannot be helped."

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PostSubject: Re: Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]   Today at 3:11 am

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Apologies [Thelos/Archangel]
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