I was once again staring at a Type VI shuttle, only this one was a model. I realized I was back again in my childhood bedroom, seated at my desk, staring at a model of the very shuttlecraft that I had been rescued in. The room around me seemed to be in a bit of teenagerly disarray. I searched for further clues to help me figure out the exact time period I had arrived in this time, but was having difficulty making an exact determination.
I'm still not sure what I should think of this surreal experience. There didn't appear to be a pattern yet to my movements or experiences. All the same I would have preferred release from being a prisoner within my own mind. I wasn't sure what that would mean for me though. Is the alternative to this odd experience the great nothingness of death? The Trill weren't a very spiritual species, so I had very little inclination towards an afterlife other than that which the symbionts offered us via joining. But I had heard the stories from other cultures. Stories of beautiful paradises, eternal peace, commiserating with loved ones and relatives for eternity, and on the other end the tales of eternal damnation and pain. In some odd way neither particularly appealed to me.
Only just then did I realize that my previous hosts, who would have had some experience with death, were unusually absent. I could usually feel their sometimes weighty presence within my mind, but now I felt nothing. I felt alone, and confident within my own thoughts for the first time in years. It was unexpectedly liberating to realize it.
Just as I was beginning to relax within my own thoughts, my bedroom door opened. I caught my brother's head peeking in. "Hey, I was going to ask how it's going but I think I already have my answer."
I gave him a quizzical look, "What exactly do you mean?"
"You haven't played with your models in years. Except when you're brooding." he responded.
I glanced down at the model shuttle in my hand before quickly putting it down on my desk as if to hide it away from him. "I don't know what you mean."
"Okay, how about two years ago when you caught your boyfriend out with that other girl? I distinctly remember walking by your room to see you playing with that ship over there for days."
I stopped pretending to organize the items on my desk to look where he was pointing. "That is the USS Excelsior, and I wasn't playing with it. I was .. trying to figure out how to repair it's bent nacelle." I reached up and grabbed the model and looked at it critically.
"Right," my brother shut the door and sat down on the bed next to me, "and how about when you put that hole in Mom's skimmer?"
I put the model down and pointed at him angrily, "That was not my fault! The skimmer bucked on that turn and I didn't see the rock."
He put his hands up in surrender, "Hey whoa, I'm not judging, I'm just giving examples." I glared at him for a moment. I knew he was right, but I didn't want him to know he was right. I turned around and went back to shuffling the items on my desk. From behind me I heard him speak again, "Mom's worried about you."
"She can stay out of my business. She has no problems keeping hers to herself." I angrily retorted.
There was a pause before he added, "I'm worried about you."
I searched my memory and realized where this conversation was going and found my adult self moved a little by his admission. This was very unlike my brother at this age to be so direct to me about his feelings. I wished I had some control to admit to him everything that is bothering me. I wanted to turn around and hug him and ask for help. Unfortunately my angsty 19 year old self was less kind.
"Don't you have some new girlfriend or springball game to get to?" I sarcastically retorted.
I was caught by surprise as my chair spun around forcibly. I now found myself facing him, his hand firmly holding the chair so I didn't turn around again. "Ilia, this has got to stop. It's been over a year, it's time to move on."
This only made my teenage self angrier and more obstinate, "What would you know, you're as bad as my ex-boyfriend." I angrily got up and stomped into my closet and grabbed a shirt to put on over my tank top.
"Yeah? And what happened to Borze? You never did tell us why you left him so suddenly either." Joneg raised his voice as he asked a question that I'm pretty sure we both knew the answer to.
"Oh whatever! He was on your springball team, he probably told you exactly why," I snipped around the corner as I changed out of my pajamas and into some proper pants. "Borze was as bad as the rest of you. Trying to tell me what to do. Besides, I thought you'd be overjoyed, you never cared much for him dating me."
"I'm just trying to look out for you." He yelled back at me.
Ever since we were children, Joneg would try to fill the missing father figure role in our family life. When we were younger it was mostly helping mother out with cleaning and shopping. As we grew up he started taking on duties like fixing the house and running errands. But it wasn't until he got bigger than mother and I that he developed a pesky obligation to protect us. Mother didn't seem to mind so much, he was her 'big handsome boy' after all. I, on the other hand, was less keen on seeing my younger brother play the savior role with me.
"I don't need your help, I can handle myself!" I yelled at him from within the closet. I had started rapidly fixing my hair up so I could hopefully escape this conversation and this house. His next question caught me by surprise and derailed my plans.
"Is this your latest rejection?" I heard him call out to me.
"What!?" I screamed as I stormed out of the closet, with half my hair still in my hands and a clip in my mouth. I saw him standing up holding a PADD I had tried to hide away. I snatched it away from him, "You have NO right to go nosing around in my stuff!" I pressed the deactivation button on the PADD and tossed it into a pile in the corner of my bed next to my stuffed mreker.
It was in fact a rejection letter, one of many I had gotten from Starfleet over the past year or more. I remembered receiving each and every one, and how they killed me a little more inside every time. Even after all that had happened since, it was a painful memory to relive. The rejections had taken a toll on me and in return I had grown more frustrated and lashed out at those around me. My brother was no exception.
"It's okay to ask for help, you know. I got help with my applications to the symbiosis commision." He sincerely admitted.
"Well that's wonderful that mister perfect can admit his faults. This is different." I quipped as I hastily tried to finish fixing my hair.
Joneg grabbed my arm as I tried to walk passed him again. "No it's not," he said softly, "I know how important this is to you, you've only talked about it all your life. What you may not have noticed though, is how important the symbiosis is to me. I've been preparing for this since I was young too."
I paused for a brief moment to consider his words before pulling my arm from his hand. "I know you think you understand, but you don't." I grabbed my boots from where I had tossed them the night before and started putting them on. "Now you, and Borze, and mother," I said with emphasis on every noun, "can go and talk about how I should chalk this up as just another one of my failures. And how I should move on to whatever the hell it is that Mother thinks I should be doing with my life, but I'll let you know right now. I'm not giving up. Not this time. This is too important to me."
I started to storm out when I heard him call out behind me, "Ilia."
"What!" I angrily replied as I whipped around so fast that a lock of hair came loose from my hasty up-do and fell in my face. My hand still hovering over the door control pad in preparation for a quick exit.
"Have you," he stuttered, trying to continue the conversation I wanted so desperately to escape, "have you considered signing up for the symbiosis program? I'm told that Starfleet Academy prefers candidates who have been accepted into the program. I'm sure they would fast track your application since I'm already in."
"What? And give up all control of my life to that horrible 'Symbiosis Commission'? I think not." I scoffed and then started to open the door.
"Ilia please, at least just consider it. It's not as bad as some are claiming." he pleaded as I continued to leave. "Ilia! Where are you going?"
"Away from here! Away from everyone!" I slammed the door shut on him and stood in the hallway of my childhood home for a moment to take a deep breath. I remember all the external anger and frustration of that moment. Internally though was another story. I struggled with so many feelings. My dream of finding out who my father had been was falling apart in front of me. My life goal to become a heroic Starfleet officer like those who rescued me all those years ago had seemed so close. Only to have it yanked away, and put agonizingly out of reach. It was fear and confusion that drove me now. I didn't know what I had done wrong, and it felt like everyone around me would prefer I gave up on this 'silly dream'. It was something I had just known I was meant to be all my life. Only to be told no, by someone I had never even met. It hurt me in a way I never thought imaginable.
After this exchange with my brother I remembered running off to sit alone atop my mountain. Instead I found myself standing for an unusually long time in that hallway, still touching the control panel of the door I had just slammed shut. It was then that I noticed something out of the corner of my eye that should not have been there. I realized I had enough control to turn my teenage self towards the foreign object. When I saw what it was I gasped.
"Quinix?" I managed to squeak out, "It can't be." There before me standing in the hallway, as proud as I remembered him, was Quinix. I may not be the best at telling one Denobulan apart from another, but I knew it was him, and more importantly I knew a Denobulan had no business being there.
He turned towards me and said only "Amens."
I reached out towards him only to have the world fall away around me. It felt like I was tumbling for the briefest second as everything changed. Just as I was about to scream out in terror I found myself seated in a desk with my outstretched hand in the air.