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Making Inquiries: Bokot [PLOT]

Posted on Wed Sep 9th, 2020 @ 10:51am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant Jackson Smith & Lieutenant Commander Rhiana t'Aegis

Mission: Mission 6: To Your Scattered Bodies Go
Location: Empok Nor
Timeline: 19 May, 2395 - 1200 Hours


After two brief stops on the Firebird to obtain a basic medical kit for Commander t'Aegis and a phaser type II for Lieutenant Smith - Rhiana had been carrying one since her release from sickbay earlier - the two officers were now walking briskly along a corridor on Empok Nor. Briskly, because the Romulan was setting the pace and she was obviously in a hurry. She also had not said one word to the Lieutenant and did not appear ill at ease because of that.

Jackson kept up with her, walking at her side, matching her stride for stride. His hand brushed against the phaser at his side and lightly touched the knives he always had tucked away safely hidden. He knew that Rhiana would prefer to never say a word or even acknowledge he existed, keeping him in the dark was not going to give them the best shot at being successful. Maybe with the Captain's order, things might be different? He could only hope, "I don't suppose you are going to give me any heads up on what we are doing or going, are you?"

"We are going to my contact's store to speak with him," Rhiana replied as if that was obvious. She fell silent again, not saying all the things that she was burning to yell at him. At the same time, she was silently exploring the idea of Smith having an "accident" before they would reach Bokot's store. Alas, she knew that she would never get away with that.

Rhiana felt horrible for being forced to betray her fellow Romulan. Bringing him to the attention of Starfleet Intelligence - in the hope that they did not already know about him - would make his life a lot more complicated. He might even have to leave Empok Nor and she would likely lose him forever. She did not know whether she could stomach any further losses.

For a brief moment, Jackson felt the hair on the back of his neck raise, almost like his life was being threatened. Maybe it was better than Rhiana didn't know he existed? He shook off the thought, he would have to trudge on. Although, he was beginning to question the chances of him coming out of this alive. He considered his words carefully, then decided against being careful, "So, this has nothing to do with your underground fighting?"

Maybe, had they been in a non-public area and had the circumstances been different, she would have reacted differently. More violently. A lot more violently. But as it were, Rhiana's pace merely slowed for a step or two before she regained her original speed. "You should realise, Lieutenant," she said, pointedly not looking at him and in a tone that appeared perfectly composed, "That there is nothing you could do to threaten me. By all means, go and report your findings to the captains once this is over. And make sure you have a good explanation for why you choose to waste resources on a fellow crewmate that could better be spent on real intelligence."

Jackson could not hold back his chuckle, "You really have no clue do you? You just don't get it. The Firebird is not just a normal ship. We are a family. The captain is risking his whole career for you, for some kid that is not even remotely his responsibility. He is risking everything, involving us in Romulan affairs that if they don't lead to our deaths, could lead to some serious diplomatic backlash, that is all going to fall on him. Not you, not me, him. And he didn't even hesitate, because it's the right thing to do." He turned and looked directly at Rhiana, "You know what gets me more than anything, more than you keeping secrets, or anything like that. If I had told you that the Romulans were interested in the Firebird, you wouldn't have told us about Xavi. You would have taken him and fled. Your problem is that you don't understand that we are family. Whether we like each other or not, I will always have your back. Malcolm said you are one of us. That is all that matters. Not because he is my captain and Starfleet requires me to obey him. Because he is my family. I will trust him, not Starfleet, with my life. Once you realize you are part of this family, things will go a lot better."

It was a matter of seconds for Rhiana to push Smith with his back against the bulkhead of the corridor they were just about to pass and keep him pinned against it with her forearm across his collarbones. Thus making it obvious that she was not trying to choke him, merely restrain him. Her face inches away from his. "You are out of line, Lieutenant. Never question my loyalty to the captain or the ship ever again."

With a sudden movement, she stepped away from him, tugged at her uniform to straighten it and continued down that corridor without waiting for Jackson. She was seething and had had to hold back enormously to not beat the young officer to a pulp. But Xavi and Bokot were more important than him. Her pace quickened when she saw Bokot's store sign only a few metres further away.

Jackson followed. He shook his head. Rhiana was so wrapped up in herself and so blinded, she couldn't see her actions are what has put the captain and the Firebird in danger. The captain might trust her, and she might be family, but she could never be trusted to make rational decisions. Full of emotions and wrath. Well, since the honest approach didn't work, Jackson decided he would just have to manipulate her. Jackson fell in line slightly behind her, He raised one eyebrow as they approached the store. This was her contact? Very interesting...

Bokot wouldn't admit it to anyone, even under torture, but he actually enjoyed the work that came along with running an eclectic shop of art and goods from around the galaxy. He'd been able to use his contacts from his time in the Tal Shiar to create a network that had brought in a fascinating collection for sale. Of course, there were more Romulan pieces in the shop than any other but it was comforting to him to have them around. After a few months, Bokot had been surprised to find that he was actually making a profit and, for some reason, found that gratifying. He shook his head at himself as he opened the latest crate of merchandise. He knew that he was simply trying to distract himself from his thoughts of Rhiana. He looked up when the entry chime sounded.

Three people walked into the room. They were tall and young and Bokot knew right away that he was in trouble. He was an excellent intelligence professional with an uncanny ability to size people up from the beginning. These three, had matching haircuts, wore clothes that they clearly were uncomfortable with and all had recently had cosmetic surgery to hide their Romulan origin. He also knew that they had all, at some point, been in the Romulan military. The spacing of their steps was a hallmark.

Bokot fell into his shopkeep persona, smiling. "Welcome," he said. "Thank you for stopping by my humble establishment. We specialize in goods from all over the galaxy and if there's something you don't see that you are looking for, please let me know and I will do my best to find it for you."

The three companions split. One moved to the left of the shop, the other to the right and the leader came straight p the middle. Bokot recognized standard small squad tactics and wondered if they were moving in that fashion on purpose or simply by instinct. The person in the middle, a slightly older version of the other two with a touch of gray in his black hair, spoke.

"We are looking for something in particular," the older one said in a gravelly voice. "We're looking for information and we were told that you or Zulg were the ones to talk to. We don't like Ferengi so here we are."

Bokot nodded, and shifted behind the crate to give himself more cover. "Zulg has his uses. I've spoken with him on a few occasions. He can be trying," Bokot said. He kept track of the progress of the other two without moving his eyes. "And I do hear quite a bit of interesting news here in Empok Nor. What exactly can I help you with?"

The three had made their way to within ten feet of Bokot and the one in the middle raised a hand. The other two immediately stopped walking. The one on the right turned so that he could look at Bokot on his left and the entrance to the shop on his right.

The leader took another step forward, his eyes cold. "We're looking for a Romulan traitor. One who has found a hole to hide in but hasn't kept his head down," he said and pulled a knife from a concealed sheath. It was a beautiful piece. Bokot had the fleeting idea of how much it would sell for.

"I see," Bokot said. He let his hand fall behind the crate and grabbed the phaser that he'd placed there earlier. He never went anywhere unarmed. His hand blurred and the phaser fire caught the leader squarely in the chest. Sadly, Bokot hadn't been able to set the weapon to full power. He knew that security protocols on the station would have picked it up immediately and he didn't need that kind of attention. So the blast stunned the leader and he fell to the ground.

The other two reacted with admirable speed. The one whose attention had remained locked on Bokot launched himself forward, punching the intelligence professional to the ground. The crate shattered with a crash and the phaser went spinning out of Bokot's hand.

Another knife appeared and Bokot, slightly stunned from the fall, only managed to deflect the blade. He hissed as the knife cut into his shoulder. While not a field operative, Bokot too had training and he leveraged his body, struck his attacker across the face and rolled in the same direction as the blow. The maneuver allowed him to force himself to the dominant position and he used the opportunity to jump away, sending a display of Orion clothing to the ground with a muffled thump.

Bokot watched the two attackers, the fallen one rising to his feet, holding the knife in front of him. They began to close and Bokot assessed that he was in serious trouble.

It was that scene that Jackson and Rhiana entered. She was already expecting the worst. After all, Bokot had promised to protect her and Xavi and with the boy now taken, it was obvious to her that Bokot had not given the information of where to find them willingly. Or so she hoped. Seeing him wounded and threatened confirmed her hopes. Taking out her phaser and firing it once at the each of the two attackers took her mere seconds. Rhiana was a good shot and the attackers dropped unconsciously to the ground. She did not move away from the entrance and scanned the store with her gaze. "Are there others?" she asked Bokot just loud enough for him to hear her, switching automatically to Romulan.

Bokot shook his head and pressed his right hand over the wound on his left shoulder. Green blood oozed through his fingers. "Not that I am aware of," he said, not speaking in Romulan so that the other Starfleet Officer could understand. He looked around at the three fallen attackers. "But they acted with military training and I doubt that whoever sent them would send only three. I would wager that there are more not far away."

Jackson smiled with the efficiency that Rhiana took out the adversaries. He stepped into the shop slightly behind Rhiana. "I don't think I will take that bet." After doing a quick survey of the scene, Jackson casually stepped back out of the shop and studied his surroundings. Three stores down and across the street he spotted The Spotted Leopard, an exotic animal/fur clothing store, perfect he thought. There didn't appear to be any suspicious figures in sight. He peaked his head back into the shop, "If you are well enough, come with me. I know where we can go." Jackson waited to see if Rhiana would trust him or not.

While Jackson was outside doing whatever, Rhiana changed the setting on her phaser to a level just below that which would raise an alert on the station, then fired at the attackers again. It would not kill the attackers, but it would keep them stunned for longer. Just before she turned away from the second, she spotted the third one lying on the floor not too far away and fired at him as well. Better safe than sorry.

Before she could do anything further, Jackson was back and suggested they leave the premises to which she gave him a brief nod. "We have an estimated ten to fifteen minutes before they will regain consciousness." She looked down at the attackers then at Bokot. "Did they come for the boy?"

Bokot sighed. He was frustrated with the lack of control. "We didn't get to the pleasantries part of the conversation. But they were not members of," he paused a moment and then continued. "My organization. Initial contact indicated that they were looking for information and that I was their preferred source. I can only say that I presume they were here either for the boy or for you. I'm not as hard to find," Bokot said and moved over to Jackson. He cast a critical eye over the young man.

"You must be the Lieutenant Smith that Zulg speaks so highly of," he said.

Jackson nodded slightly to him. He looked him over, "You ok to move, we will need to go quickly."

Rhiana looked at Bokot's shoulder and reholstered her phaser. "Let me have a look." Without waiting for an answer, she opened the small medical kit she had attached to her belt and took out a medical tricorder. With what appeared to be practiced movements, she detached the small mobile unit from the tricorder and moved it over the wound. "It is a relatively deep injury," she commented on the findings. "I may be able to heal it, but..." Rhiana interrupted herself and stared at the tiny screen. "You need immediate proper medical attention, Bokot. It appears that there was poison on the blade." Even as she spoke, she packed up the tricorder. "Where is the nearest medical bay?"

Jackson spoke up before Bokot had a chance, "There is an Empok Nor medical bay nearby, but I doubt we will be safe there. It is a very busy and public space." Jackson hesitated slightly and then continued, "I know of a safer place to go. It is discreet, hidden, capable, and close enough. You will have to trust me, though, and don't ask too many questions." Jackson looked to Rhiana. He knew this was going to be a tough decision for her, but they also didn't have a lot of time to act.

"I'm certain that using a public medical facility would be a poor choice for many reasons. I will defer to you, Lieutenant Smith. And I'll try not to ask too many questions," Bokot said with a thin smile.

Rhiana's jaws tightened. She was still furious with Smith and she also did not like how Bokot appeared to trust him. Her own trust in her fellow Romulan was still fresh enough that his smile and attitude reminded her of some of their earliest encounters and a time when she thought she despised him. She knew that she needed to take a decision - or rather, that she needed to agree with Bokot since it really was his life that was in danger. But she hesitated. And it was not even entirely because of the options. It was because she felt that she was not in complete control of anything anymore and that by giving in to Smith's suggestion, she would lose even more.

But Bokot was literally bleeding to death right before her eyes if he did not get help and Rhiana would not allow that to happen.
Even while she pondered her few options, her eyes browsed the store and quickly spotted some neat piles of fabrics on a table nearby. Towels, table linens, whatever. She did not care. But she did grab a thicker piece, folded it in half again and handed it to Bokot. "Press this against your wound." Without waiting for a reply, she walked towards the racks of clothes and tapped her combadge. "t'Aegis to Firebird." =/\= Firebird here, =/\= came the reply from the vessel's bridge. "Send Captain Cunningham and the Marines urgently to my coordinates. Extraction of three prisoners and securing the premises. t'Aegis out." She selected a dark coloured tunic from the rack and turned back to look the two men. "I am going to trust you, Lieutenant," Rhiana declared as she removed her uniform tunic. "Do not make me regret it."

Jackson restrained a smile at Rhianna having to admit she needed to trust him. He nodded slightly to her and moved toward the front of the store.

"Let's move quickly." Jackson once again surreptitiously scanned his surroundings. It appeared safe and with purpose he strode across the street towards the Spotted Leopard. The doors swished open for him and he was assaulted by a variety of smells, many he could not even begin to describe. The vast collection of furs and leathers were sprawled across multiple racks and shelves, it was a dizzying display of colors and scents. Jackson smoothly slipped through the unorganized racks and displays towards the back of the store where there sat an interesting woman, with dark black and purple hair, eyelashes that stretched well beyond any natural lash could go. She was swathed in multiple layers of furs and had leather gloves that were a bright pink with golden stripes along them. She looked up and smiled broadly upon seeing Jackson.

"Well Darling, it's so nice of you to come visit me and in your fancy uniform too! If you aren't too careful, we might start to think you are one of the good guys."

Jackson returned the smile, "Always nice to see you, Sammie. A busy day?" he inquired with a raised eyebrow.

"No worries, hon, you are the only ones here." Sammie winked at him as she spoke.

"Good," Jackson tossed her a strip of latinum, "I brought some trouble to this guy's shop, he needs some immediate help."

Sammie chuckled, "Hon, trouble always follows you around." She glanced over at Bokot and looked him up and down noticing the blood at his side. "Don't worry, we will get you fixed up." She glanced over at Rhiana, "And her?"

Jackson laughed slightly, "Don't ask, and don't piss her off."

Sammie turned back towards Jackson, "You always find the most interesting people."

Jackson, "Thanks, "Jackson smiled and started heading around the counter, he motioned for the others to follow. "Oh, also, I wouldn't be here if you can help it, that trouble might come this way looking for us."

Sammie nodded, "Don't worry about me hon, I won't be here. I will let them know you are coming, better hurry."

Rhiana remained silent and kept an impassive expression that would probably be interpreted as the usual Romulan arrogance which suited her perfectly. She did glance over at Bokot repeatedly during the exchange and generally kept close to him, ready to help him should he suddenly feel faint.

Bokot's body was failing him but his mind was still as sharp as ever. He'd faced death many times over the years and his current predicament wasn't nearly the worst. So he ignored his physical condition and focused on watching Lieutenant Smith's interaction with the woman named Sammie. He mentally recorded their words, searching for hidden meanings or signs. He smiled faintly and nodded at Sammie as they passed.

Jackson smiled at Sammie and then passed by the counter and moved through a door in the back. This lead to a storage room that was hard to see the difference between it and the front of the store. Jackson did a quick survey of the area, saw what he needed and moved directly towards a specific rack, he grabbed a shirt and a more demure grey jacket. Surprising that something like that was even in this store. Jackson quickly shed his uniform top and put the shirt and jacket on as he stepped towards the back. Once at the back wall he pressed a couple of places on the wall and panel slid open revealing a passageway, which he quickly went through.

Bokot looked at t'Aegis, raising an eyebrow. "Apparently Empok Nor has depths that were hidden from me. I look forward to learning more at a future time. Lieutenant Smith seems in his element, which corresponds with what Zulg said to me," Bokot said and then slumped to the floor.

"Bokot!" Rhiana immediately dropped to her knees next to him and felt for his heartbeat at his throat. "He is still alive," she commented after a few seconds and turned him onto his back. The bundle of fabric he had been holding against the wound was soaked through and made a wet sound when it slid to the ground. "He needs medical attention now," Rhiana added as she quickly removed her tunic, revealing the dark green shirt she had also 'borrowed' from Bokot's store. She spoke quickly and with urgency in her voice but without apparent panic while she folded the tunic into as compact a bundle as she could and placed it onto the still bleeding wound. "He needs a blood transfusion and an antidote to the poison, else he will die," she explained while shifting her weight to press down hard onto the folded tunic and Bokot's shoulder.

Jackson looked back at Bokot, "We are just a couple minutes away." Jackson pulled out a small communicator from under his jacket, he pressed the button, "Morte, this is Raven, we are having a fast day. It has been filled with lots of green anoles. One of them is fun to watch. Although, the sunflowers can be so bright."

A couple seconds pass as they move through the corridor and then a voice comes back over the communicator, "Hey Raven, there are so many types of sunflowers, can you send us a sample so we know what kind of pot to have ready?"

Jackson stopped and turned the cylindrical communicator over, pressed a button and a needle poked out, he stepped towards Bokot and raised the device as if he was going to poke Bokot in the arm, he stopped for a brief second and looked up to make sure Rhiana wasn't going to punch him. He shrugged as he had no idea from her expression and Jackson pressed the device into Bokot's arm. It was a quick needle prick and then he pulled it out. Jackson then pressed a button the needle retracted. "Sunflower sample sent." Jackson stated into the communicator. Jackson looked at the pail Romulan, would they be able to move him? Before he had to make a decision a voice came across the communicator, "Hey Raven, we will come to you to help pot those Sunflowers, be there soon."

Jackson turned to Rhiana, "Help is on the way." Jackson stepped past Bokot and made sure the hidden door to the Spotted Leopard was secure, "We should be relatively safe here, hopefully, he can be moved soon."

[Bokot's Shop]

Jack and his squad of Marines, having received permission from the Empok Nor OIC, materialized outside of Bokot's shop, fully geared up and ready to go. There was no way he would beam down into a small space with possible hostiles. That was just asking for casualties. They were all armed with standard Federation phasers, set on heavy stun. Jack made a hand motion towards one of his people, ordering him to stay back as a rear guard. The Marine nodded. He motioned to the other three Marines to move in. Two of them went right as they entered, while Jack and the other went left. They moved in a stacked formation with the Marine in the rear holding the shoulder of the Marine in front. They moved fast.

Jack's first impression was that there had been a serious fight. He could see displays had been broken and left on the ground. One part of his brain was trying to figure out what the heck this shop was actually selling because it all looked like junk to him. The two groups paused in the corners of the room, surveying the damage. The front Marine in each group knelt, while the rear made a scan.

Jack held up a fist. He could see the bodies of the attackers where their sensors had indicated they would be. Nothing had been moved. Still. Jack had been a Marine for years and had been in more combat than most. He'd quickly learned to trust his intuition because it was trying to save his life. Right now his intuition was telling him that something was not right about the scene.

He looked at the scene again, his head moving slowly from side to side. There. A pool of green blood stood out starkly against the pale floor of the shop. It shone in the lighting. And on one edge, Jack could make out a footprint. It wasn't a footprint that any Starfleet personnel would leave. He knew those boots. And it wasn't from any of the downed enemies. None of them were close to the blood. Jack's mind brought up old memories. Combat on the Romulan frontier. He remembered boot prints like those.

"They are..." Jack started to yell and two bolts of energy shot out of thin air, catching the two kneeling Marines in the chest and knocking them down. Jack dove behind a display block that had previously held a mannequin wearing a purple dress of thin material. Two more bolts lashed out, hitting the downed Marines again. He could see Gunny Phillips also hiding behind a display block. The two of them locked eyes and Jack nodded. He looked out at Private Collins, who was laying on the ground. The young Marine unleashed two short phaser bursts and Jack and the Gunny rolled out to their opposite sides and also unleashed a barrage of phaser fire. Jack aimed for the spot where he would be hiding if he were somehow invisible and was rewarded as the shot connected with a body. The air shimmered and the enemy fell to the ground with a heavy thud. Jack continued to fire, hoping he would catch another. He finished shooting and rolled back behind the display case. His heart was pounding as adrenaline rushed through him. And then he heard the sound of transporter beams and he jumped to his feet, firing again. Two beams of light flared and Jack shot at them, knowing it was futlile.

"Clear," Jack said, stepping around to examine the remaining bodies. There were still two of them, including the one Jack had shot. He knelt down and felt a strong pulse on the body, while the Gunny did the same on the other side.

Jack tapped his combadge. =^=Cunningham to t'Aegis. Commander, we have arrived and secure the scene. Be aware that we encountered two new hostiles wearing some kind of advanced personal cloaking device. We have two prisoners. The rest beamed out.=^=

Jackson and Rhiana stood in a very bright, completely white, and very sterile hallway. It was stark contrast to the areas that they were just in. In front of them was a window into another room where Bokot lay on a bed in an equally bright, sterile room. The main difference was all the instruments that were spread around the room. Several individuals tended to Bokot, but it seemed that he was likely out of the woods as one by one they filed out of the room. The last one to come out was a human female. She wore a white lab coat and short golden brown hair bounced lightly as she turned to face Jackson. "The poison is neutralized, the wound is sealed, and he has been given a blood transfusion. He will need to rest, but he is going to be ok."

"Thank you doctor, I owe you one." Jackson smiled towards the doctor.

She placed a hand on Jackson's arm, "You know that's not true, I will never be able to repay you for what you did for my sister and me." Jackson nodded slightly. She looked over at Rhiana, "You can go in and see him now if you want." She then turned her attention back to Jackson, "But if you insist, you can buy me dinner when you are done with the current mess you are in."

"Deal, thank you again," Jackson replied, with that the doctor turned and headed away from them down the hallway.

=^=Cunningham to t'Aegis. Commander, we have arrived and secured the scene. Be aware that we encountered two new hostiles wearing some kind of advanced personal cloaking device. We have two prisoners. The rest beamed out.=^=

Rhiana stopped short two paces away from the door to Bokot's room and hit her combadge. "t'Aegis here. Understood, Captain. Transport them to the Firebird. Keep them sedated and disarm them. Make sure to scan them for hidden poisons or other devices that would allow them to commit suicide. I will join you shortly. t'Aegis out."

She took a deep breath before she crossed the threshold. If nothing else, they should be able to learn which faction had taken Xavi. It gave her a tiny sliver of hope that she would be able to find and free the boy. That was already enough to make her feel a little better and her expression became a fraction less grave as she finally stepped into Bokot's room and walked towards the bed.

Placing her hand lightly on his forearm, she briefly smiled down at her compatriot. "I am glad you are still with us." Rhiana's words were soft, intended mostly for Bokot. But she was also admitting to herself that she really was glad about this. Not too long ago, she would not have cared about him dying. Might even have welcomed it. How things had changed.

Bokot opened one eye, ignorning the pain in his body and gazed at t'Aegis. "As am I. I believe that we have a longer path to walk together and it would be a pity if that walk were cut short, as so many others have been. Are we safe now?" Bokot said.

"Relatively speaking, yes," Rhiana replied in the same soft voice." You are out of immediate danger and we secured your shop for now. But I would prefer for you to come to the ship with us so we can talk." And for him to get checked by Kaar or Oggt. Medical professionals she trusted. To some degree.

"I've always wanted to investigate the interior of the Firebird. I accept your proposal," Bokot said, letting his eyes close again. "If you don't mind, I think I will..." His voice trailed off as he slid into darkness.


Lieutenant Commander Rhiana t'Aegis
Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant Jackson Smith
Chief Intelligence Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Bokot i-Ra'tleihfi tr'Llhaenn
Empok Nor Trader
(NPC by Captain Llwyedd)


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Comments (1)

By Lieutenant JG Owen Woodhouse on Wed Sep 9th, 2020 @ 3:36pm

I love this post! Everyone really shines and the writing is a delight.

My favorite monologue, maybe ever:
Jackson could not hold back his chuckle, "You really have no clue do you? You just don't get it. The Firebird is not just a normal ship. We are a family. The captain is risking his whole career for you, for some kid that is not even remotely his responsibility. He is risking everything, involving us in Romulan affairs that if they don't lead to our deaths, could lead to some serious diplomatic backlash, that is all going to fall on him. Not you, not me, him. And he didn't even hesitate, because it's the right thing to do." He turned and looked directly at Rhiana, "You know what gets me more than anything, more than you keeping secrets, or anything like that. If I had told you that the Romulans were interested in the Firebird, you wouldn't have told us about Xavi. You would have taken him and fled. Your problem is that you don't understand that we are family. Whether we like each other or not, I will always have your back. Malcolm said you are one of us. That is all that matters. Not because he is my captain and Starfleet requires me to obey him. Because he is my family. I will trust him, not Starfleet, with my life. Once you realize you are part of this family, things will go a lot better."

*cue soaring hearts everywhere*