41: Vigil

Commander Salvek
Sickbay aboard the Alchemy

--=Immediately After At Her Right Hand=--

Salvek had not gone straight from Engineering to Sickbay as Kellyn had expected. Instead, he went to their quarters and removed his uniform.

He walked to the closet and reached in for his favorite meditation robe. It was traditionally Vulcan; made of black fabric with the names of his loved ones embroidered down the front. Sakkath, T'Shanik, Sacul, Kellyn and Arie were the names that appeared, read from top to bottom. There were other robes as well, but in times of great crisis, he was most comfortable surrounding himself with the presence of those dear to him when he wished to look inward, to his spirit.

He slipped into a pair of sandals and left his combadge behind. If anyone needed him, he would be easy enough to find. He tucked his meditation mat under his arm and walked out the door, on his way to Sickbay.

He nodded politely to those he passed in the hallway. The looks he received were ones of surprise. Salvek rarely ever left his quarters out of uniform, and certainly not dressed such as this. His meditation was an extremely personal matter, a ritual that he performed only in the presence of his family.

As the doors to Sickbay parted, he looked into the room. It was quite dark, no doubt the suggestion of Jariel Camen, who knew Liis detested bright lights. Salvek knew the Vedek would do everything he could think of to keep her comfortable, whether she was aware of it or not.

Sickbay was empty except for Camen and the EMH. Camen kept his vigil at her bedside, absentmindedly thumbing through an authentic paper book he had replicated to read to help pass the time. Camen's tired eyes looked up to see who had entered the room. He had read the same page over and over a dozen times and it still was not sinking in, he just couldn't focus on reading.

"Good morning, Commander."

"Good morning." Salvek said, as the EMH hovered over Zanh Liis, taking his scheduled readings to update her file. "I thought you may want the chance to take a meal or rest. We will be arriving shortly."

"I'm fine. I appreciate the offer, but there must be important matters on the bridge or in engineering to attend to. I want to keep my eyes on her personally, so I know she's safe." Jariel was not going to expect Salvek to stay just to make a show of it, if he really didn't want to. So he gave Salvek the opportunity to leave now if he wished.

"Everything is well under control." Salvek motioned toward the floor on the other side of the stasis chamber. "May I?"

"Be my guest."

The EMH flipped his tricorder closed, satisfied that while Liis certainly wasn't getting any better, she at least wasn't getting any worse for now. Sensing the tension in the room, he decided to let the two men have their peace.

"Listen fellas, I'm just going to switch off for the moment, if y'all need anything, just let me know."

"Thank you doctor." Despite the pain he was in, Jariel nodded respectfully to the EMH. His gesture was a sincere expression of gratitude for all the EMH had done up to this point. Salvek was continually impressed over the years with the gentle way Jariel had with all life forms, organic or holographic.

After the EMH vanished, Jariel spoke again.

"Please, Salvek, later on would you thank Kellyn for me? For coming here earlier? She thinks I was asleep," Jariel admitted sheepishly. "But I wasn't, really. I had to pretend so the EMH wouldn't throw me out. I didn't want her to know because she said some. . .pretty personal things while she was here. Things I know she didn't mean for anyone to overhear."

Salvek nodded. "I will omit the fact that you were awake. That being the case, however, would it not be wise if you rested now? While I am here?"

"I just can't," Jariel looked at the floor. "Every time I close my eyes, I see her in pain. I can't get that image out of my head, no matter what I do."

Salvek understood. He had been in Jariel's position before, and he would not wish it on his worst enemy, let alone one of his most trusted friends.

Salvek unrolled his meditation mat on the floor beside Liis. He kneeled down, and closed his eyes, bringing his steepled fingers to his chin.

He could feel Camen's curious gaze upon him, as the Vedek craned his neck to look over the stasis chamber, to see exactly what Salvek was up to. The Vulcan sat motionless for a few moments, then began to chant softly. He then repeated the chant in Federation standard for the sake of Jariel.

"Etek vi teretuhr kup-kakhartau tu katra takau karik-tor fam kup-vravshau tu svi' nash-tehrai. We who are bound to guide your spirit, summon the strength to not fail you in this task."

Salvek relaxed his position, lowering himself to sit on the floor with his legs crossed, as he began his deep meditation.

He focused his mental energy on controlling his emotions, knowing he would need his wits and logic about him for what was to come. The truth was, Kellyn had been right. He had not wanted to see Zanh Liis like this, and did not know exactly how he would react.

Through his life Liis had always just... been there. Sometimes, even without his knowledge. He was her charge, and he couldn't help but appreciate the irony that after years of risking her life to protect his, he was now in the position of having to do the same for her. Nothing he could rationalize in his deepest thought could make this feel right.

Logic told him that the events that led up to this point were merely the acts of a few nefarious individuals that could have occurred at any time and any place, to any of trillions of different people throughout the galaxy. It was a logical course of action that if one was going to engage in lifeform trafficking, and you had the chance to obtain a high value target like Zanh Liis, that one should act on that opportunity.

Still, he knew in his heart that she deserved better than this. But logic made no exceptions for anyone "deserving" anything. One made their own destiny through their actions. "Deserving," implied that some force would protect Zanh Liis, but the teachings of Vulcan philosophy did not allow for any such force. He sat quietly for perhaps half an hour, debating the fate of Zanh Liis with himself.

At last he began to withdraw himself from the meditation. His brought his heart rate back to normal and his eyes fluttered open. He stood up slowly from the mat, and leaned over the stasis tube, peering through the glass to her pale, weary face.

"Perhaps," he said quietly, "If there is no force to prevent something like this happening to one as selfless and giving as you are, Zanh Liis, there should be. Perhaps your Prophets. In lieu of that, I can merely pledge to you that I will do all in my power to save you, as you have saved me, so many times. And I will continue the work that is so important to you that I complete, no matter what happens."

Salvek heard a deep breath from the other side of the tube. He looked towards Jariel, who was slumped over against the backrest of his chair. For the first time since Liis' rescue, he had finally felt comfortable enough with her safety to really drift off to sleep. Salvek walked around the stasis pod, and slid his arms around Jariel's back and under his knees. He lifted him from where he sat, and carried him to a biobed nearby.

Jariel stirred but did not awaken as Salvek laid him down and pulled the blanket up around him. He stepped into the doctor's office and sat at the desk, bringing up a comm link to the bridge.

"Salvek to Grace."

[Go ahead.]

"Time to Bajor."

[Two hours, Sir.]

"When we reach the system, take us out of warp and begin the landing procedure. I will be staying in Sickbay until we arrive. Please inform me when we have landed."

[Anything else?]

"That will be all."

He closed the channel and returned to the patient area. He was determined now to stay here until they arrived, to allow Jariel as much time to rest as he could have.

Salvek took up vigil in Camen's vacated chair, and began leafing through the book the Vedek had been reading earlier.

"You will be home soon, my Captain."

Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Alchemy NX-53099

NRPG: I went for it. ~Salvek

NRPG2: You nailed it. Thank you so much. ~ZL