Dear Em,

Another Sabbat has come and gone, and I realize it’s been three months since last I wrote. Where does the time go? I am doing much better of late, I think. Looking back over the past year and a half, I can certainly see how far I’ve come, though on a day-to-day basis it’s hard to see.

This letter is quite a bit longer than the usual. Seanmháthair believes it will be helpful for me to chronicle the journey I’ve made since being freed from Legion. I’m not certain I understand how it can help, but I trust Seanmháthair’s wisdom. Since journaling is not anything I’ve ever excelled at (it’s as if I’m talking to myself and I feel just a bit daft about it all), I told her I would write everything out in a letter to you.

When I first came out of stasis, I was so disoriented. Only your presence – and the fact that I could so easily reach out and touch my Lady Goddess – helped me believe I had actually been freed. I certainly could not believe Starfleet would give me command of the new Eclipse. I had not the experience, and I thought it was obvious I had not fully recovered from the effects of Legion’s imprisonment of my mind and soul. Looking back, I should have refused them, but I suppose I still thought being an officer in Starfleet meant blindly following orders. Mayhap that is what it means – I just can no longer blindly follow orders… not when my own sanity is at stake, at any rate.

Those three months on Eclipse-A had been so difficult. And no, please do not feel you need to apologize yet again… I don’t know that it would have been significantly easier had you been willing to return to Starfleet at that point and serve as counselor. You, too, were still healing and needed that time of seclusion on Vulcan. And besides, you were always as close as I needed you to be, Imzadi.

The easiest part of the job was dealing with so many young, inexperienced officers… but that’s not to say it was without stress. Were we ever so naïve, Em? Was life ever that black and white instead of the endless shades of gray we see now? Thankfully, most of the enlisted crewmembers were experienced at their jobs, and several of the engineers who had been with the Prometheus project from inception were on board to put the ship through her paces.

It’s a great ship for the right captain, but I’m not that captain. It’s a warship, and would suit Duffy more than me. If I were ever to go back to Starfleet, I would mayhap prefer a science vessel like Luca has. I simply cannot bear conflict any more.

To be sure, it was an easy and uneventful training flight – as training flights go – and Starfleet had no cause to be unhappy with the performance of the ship, her crew or her captain. But so many small things combined to make it torturous for me. First, of course, was the fact that I had no real training or desire to captain a starship, so I was constantly second-guessing myself. Aaryn Trasee-Yeade made things easier, talking me through some of the less obvious pitfalls of command. At the same time, his presence was painful because I could not help comparing Aaryn the doctor to Dannon the captain. I understand this is a common problem for those not from the Trill home world who become acquainted with different hosts of the same symbiont. It didn’t help much that Aaryn had yet to accept the Yeade symbiont. In return, I hope the small amount of support I might have been to him helped Aaryn accept his new role. Like Dannon, he is a good man, and could possibly have become a good friend given the time.

The most interesting aspect of the mission – and the one I had expected to be the most difficult – was my “babysitting” of Kamala Singh. I’m sure I’ve mentioned her once or twice. Starfleet did its best to make sure I had little trust in the lass, but you know me, Em… I’m trusting to a fault. Like Barry Mulvihill, she’s completely psi-null… a nothingness you can only notice if you know there’s supposed to be something there. Does that make sense? So I had no real basis for trusting her. Most of the crew disliked her because of her arrogance. Although I did find the arrogance irritating at times, she certainly had enough cause for her superior attitude. In every way, she was genetically structured to be a perfect human. As I said, Starfleet had – and probably still has – little trust in her motives, but I found her an eager student once she realized it was to her benefit to learn the concept of teamwork. Despite my inability to read her, I don’t harbor the same distrust Starfleet does – that she is a spy for the Romulans. She certainly has no cause to love them after their treatment of her and her sibs.

Nor was it helpful having Duffy as my executive officer. I don’t understand why Starfleet put him in that position rather than security chief, any more than I understand their desire to push Malik into the security chief position. My only guess is that they did not want Duffy in familiar territory; that they wanted him as off-balance as I certainly was. Did they think keeping us unsettled in that manner would prevent Legion from reasserting his dominance should he return? More fools they if that was their rationale. Duffy’s attitude toward me would have been no different had he been security chief, though. Because I was his commanding officer, he took great pains to keep our relationship strictly platonic. To this day, I still fail to understand that. And it hurts, Em. Still. I felt it as a rejection. Perhaps he accepted me as his commanding officer, but as a woman, I was rejected. On top of everything else going on at that time, this nearly did me in.

I think the most difficult aspect of the mission was simply the fact that I was not on Earth. With my mental shields shredded, my abilities magnified, my grasp on reality tenuous, it’s a miracle I managed to survive the three months away from home. I needed most to be in a safe environment, I needed Seanmháthair to help me rebuild my shields, my strength, my confidence. And I needed solitude with my Lady. Despite the fact that there are far more people in County Tipperary than on the Eclipse, there are holy places here that foster a sense of serenity. Seanmháthair still believes I am meant to take her place as high priestess when that time comes, so she has been teaching me more of those duties. I am still not certain that is my path.

At first, when I came home, it was all I could do to rebuild what had become very fragile mental shields. I know you understand how I was feeling – Legion had managed to shatter your shields, too. But the wee help I was able to provide you then was no help to myself when I faced the same dilemma. Had it not been for Seanmháthair’s patience… well, I do not like to think how badly I would have fared. But I am doing well. I am stronger now than when I first left Ireland, and strangely I have Legion to thank for that. Does it seem as odd to you that an entity that tried to kill us and infect much of the Federation is the method by which our gifts have been so immensely augmented? I think of this often, and always the ancient Taoist philosophy comes to mind. That philosophy maintains that there is a seed of light in the darkest night, as well as a seed of darkness in the brightest day. Light and dark, good and evil… one cannot exist without the other.

I have little to occupy my time outside my studies with Seanmháthair and practicing my healing skills. Having so little to do leaves time – mayhap too much time – for my mind to wander. I think often of Padraig, possibly because his daughter, Mhari, lives not far from here with my sister Kate. She is a beautiful child, and I can already see Padraig’s mischievous nature in her. Watching her play brings such pain, though. I had often dreamed that Duffy and I could have a family.

Could it be that I imagined the whole thing? Did I see love in his eyes only because that is what I wanted to see? No. It does me no good to doubt my abilities at this point. I have come so far in healing my broken spirit; I cannot be laid low by thoughts such as these. By the Goddess, Em, he’s as good as any Vulcan at controlling his emotions, though. And truth be told, he’s better than some I’ve met. But no, I did not imagine his feelings for me, so long ago it seems. Yet why did he always hold himself apart? Perhaps there was fear there that I could not sense… my gift was not as strong then as it is now. And why, when we no longer serve together and I am no longer his captain, does he ignore me? I understand his reluctance to visit planet-side, but why does he not respond to my messages and letters? It is not likely that he hasn’t received them – I’ve sent so many. It must be that I’ve created in my mind a life that isn’t possible for either of us.

This is what torments me most these days. I love Donovan Kahallan as I have loved no one else before. I cannot get him out of my heart or my mind. And yet, mayhap it is as Seanmháthair says… that this is not the right time and place – or even lifetime – for the two of us. Mayhap my ruminations of the past are my way of avoiding that possibility. But for the sake of my serenity, I must consider it. Oh, Em… you know how this breaks my heart. Even as far away as you are, I know you can feel it. I’m sorry for inflicting my pain on you in this way. If I could find a way to lock Duffy in a tiny corner of my heart to spare you this distress, I would do so, my dear friend. Ah, but we are Imzadi, and cannot hide anything from one another. I know you have your own torments. It is simply my wish not to add to them.

To a lesser extent, Starfleet has plagued me since nearly the moment I returned home. If it were not so annoying, I could almost find it humorous. They were willing enough to discharge me after the Eclipse-A’s training flight, but I had barely set foot again on Irish soil when they began their campaign to pull me back into their arms. Why? They’ve yet to give me any reason for it. Since it is true that I’m now one of the Federation’s top holoprogrammers since the disaster at Utopia Planitia, they could easily have named that as a reason for wanting me back. They could even hire me as a civilian contractor if that is their purpose. Yet, they say nothing on the subject. Seanmháthair believes, and I cannot disagree, that their desire is simply to study me further, to eventually find the explanation as to why I was freed from Legion’s grasp. If such is their reasoning, it will do them no good. Studying me will give them no insight into the nature of a Deity, nor will it help them understand why She fought to free me. I do not question Her motives; it is hubris on their part that they do so. But beyond all that, I have no desire to be a lab rat. It is only these past few months that I’ve truly felt freed of that monster. I am no longer waking up in a cold sweat, unsure of reality. What would I have done without you, Em, in those first few months? I know I’ve thanked you often, but I’ve not thanked you enough. I fear I’d have gone mad thinking I was still trapped in the nightmare of Legion’s making.

And now Starfleet wants me back? Well, I’ll not be jumping to do their bidding until they send someone of a slightly higher rank than ensign to speak with me. Mayhap even one who can explain what is on their collective minds.

And so ends my chronicle. Seanmháthair may expect something more profound or lengthy, but such is not my nature I’m afraid. If I cannot achieve whatever goal she envisions from this exercise by corresponding with you, then that goal must not be meant for my achievement. Padraig is not the only mischievous member of my family, after all.

How are you faring on Vulcan, Em? You, too, are sounding stronger and more sure of yourself, but I don’t have a sense of how far you still need to go.

I miss you, Imzadi. While I know you are always just a mind-touch away, there are times I yearn for the touch of your hand… for the simply joy of a hug.

I hope this finds you well. You have all my love.

Dear Em,

I was cheered by your last letter, and am so happy to hear you are adjusting easily to the space station. If the press of minds around you is near anything like the wash of emotions I felt even as little as a year ago (and I know that it is, and even more so), I can well appreciate the peace deep space must afford you. How many people are at this research facility? You didn't say in your letter.

Several letters ago, you said you felt Legion had been drawn to us by your talent and your yearning for someone or something "out there" meant for you. I've thought about this a great deal since receiving that letter. I am not sure I can agree with your conclusion. While it is true that your talent may have seems like a small magnet to him, it distresses me to hear in the tone of your letter that you blame yourself for the chaos that resulted. We all yearn for something, Em. Wishing does not make a thing so. If anything, you attempted to mitigate the damage by imposing some sort of order on the situation. Had you not done what you did, it is true that your soul may not have been shattered... but it is also true that none of us would have survived. I do not doubt that my interpretation of those events is as faulty as anyone's, since I see the whole incident through the haze of my own painful memories.

But some good news! My own progress has accelerated of late. I have been invited to teach a course at Trinity College: the Role of Psi in the Medical Fields. Apparently, it is a course that has not been taught in many years. It was, of course, Seanmháthair and her machinations that landed me this position. The Dean of the Medical College is an old friend of hers, and asked if she would be willing to teach the course. I think she suggested my name to him to get me out of her hair!

In truth, I am ready to move on. I am as well as I am likely to get lazing about in the country. Dublin is not so huge a city as cities go, but it will certainly be a test of my defenses. Although I do have trepidation, I am finding myself looking forward to the challenge. I will be moving to Dublin next month, and will keep you updated on my activities.

I miss you, Em.


Dear Em,

Yes, I did have some nervousness about moving to Dublin, but it seems all my fears were unfounded. There must be several thousand students here, yet the burden of their emotions is less than my mother's house at Christmastime. It is a relief to know my mental and emotional shields are fully healed.

The Dean of the Medical College is a fine old gentleman, nearing his 100th year. He seems decades younger, though, with the energy of someone half his age. And he certainly has a wonderful sense of humor. We have made arrangements for me to teach a single class this term, however, I will also be assisting some of the professors with various research projects. He knows my background in engineering and holoprogramming, as well as my desire - for now - to absent myself from that field. He has suggested that I might act as a peer counselor for some of the newly arrived psi students who have not had the opportunity for structured psi studies. I think I would enjoy that.

I have met several of the other instructors here. I am surprised by the size of the Psi Department. I had always known, of course, that Trinity College has the best program on Earth... I had not realized how extensive it is. I think I have made the right decision by coming here. I see far more opportunities here at Trinity than I ever did in Starfleet. Seanmháthair was not enthusiastic about my joining Starfleet in the first place, and now it seems - again - that she knew better than I what was best for me. Still, I believe my time in Starfleet was not wasted. I learned a great deal, and made wonderful friends.

I begin teaching my first class tomorrow. I do not believe I've been this nervous since my first day at the Academy!

I wish you well, my dear friend. I hope to hear from you soon.


© Kelly Naylor