Lahn held the small thurible in her palm and lightly waved the smoky tendrils of incense to her face, inhaling an essence of moss and cinnamon combined with a faint, acrid bite that causes her to wrinkle her nose.
Lt Commander Sri sat across from her, engulfed in voluminous Trill robes. "Your requirements prohibit us from engaging in a standard witnessing. Nonetheless, it was very helpful for the Symbiont Commission to allow me to observe one."
"Observe?" Lahn asked, implying it was more than observation. She set the thurible aside and took another sip of the tea the Lt. Commander had prepared. It wasn’t snail juice, but it had a certain character and was far more agreeable than the incense.
"One observes with all their senses." The Lieutenant Commander replied enigmatically. "We’ll combine some of those techniques with Vulcan mind melds, Rigelian spirit walking, and even some of the Aenar projection techniques –"
Lahn set the teacup with a clatter into the saucer at her knees. "I’m not sure this is going to work, Lieutenant Commander, despite all the trouble you went through for all this – " she glanced upward. Sri had clearly put no small effort capturing the details of Trill caverns on the holodeck. Alphas and Omegas, it was in caves like these she was born – literally and figuratively. In the end we are become muck in Mak’ala. Had she not seen the cavern form around her, Lahn would have been hard pressed to see any inconsistencies to give the hologram away. She looked again, seeking an imperfection. On the third pass she heard Sri tsk.
"You must block out what you know and just experience, Captain."
"I’m not very good at that, you see, I see ---"
"The mind sees what it wants to – only with great force does it see otherwise."
"But –" Lahn protested, and fought theurge to pull back as Sri leaned forward, taking her hand. Her bare hand was surprisingly warm. The result of the touch was for Lahn to see what Sri saw; Lahn’s hastily built wall of apprehension and doubt. The vision was so clear Lahn flushed with embarrassment.
Lahn slid her hand free, but forced herself to relax more. "I’m afraid this won’t work."
"You’re afraid that it will." Sri replied calmly, settling back to her tea.
Lahn sighed and sat back, closing her eyes. She fidgeted.
"Don’t be impatient. The incense takes time. It might help to meditate. You may enter into a lucid state involuntarily."
"Lieutenant commander, that’s’ what I’ve been trying to explain. That might not work. I’ve been trained in counter-psionics."
"Using Betazoid defensive techniques. Some of the best."
"Yes Captain." Sri repeated, her tone only slightly patronizing.
Lahn fended off a moment of irritation with a sigh and tried to relax, closing her eyes briefly. When she opened them, her perspective had changed. She sat up from a different rock. Sri was turned, looking at her intently. Lahn shifted her gaze from Sri to see herself kneeling serenely, her eyes closed.
"Yes Captain?" Sri asked in a softly amused tone.
"Is this part of the holodeck program?"
She looked at her resting twin. "I don’t snore like that."
Sri paused in warming her tea and looked at Lahn flatly. "If you concentrate –"
"Gods Unfortunate. My first husband really was a good soul."
"Captain." Sri said with such firmness that Lahn returned her attention to Sri despite the novelty of seeing herself from the outside.
"Right. What’s next?"
Sri slowly ran the sensor of a tricorder over unconscious Lahn. She offered no report of the results. "You will feel a tug."
"Physical or –"
"—More of an urge. A desire without reason. Just let your mind be still, and let the pull take you."
It only took a moment of relaxation to feel it. Of course it was centered around her belly. Gut feeling, the Terrans call it. They have no idea.
"What do I-"
"Follow it." Sri said, snapping the tricorder shut. "Trust your senses."
"What will you be doing?"
Sri held up tea and and a small biscuit. Lahn grimaced.
"I’ll be listening. Tell me when you don’t want me to."
"How will I re-establish connection?"
"I’ll sense your attention on me."
Lahn glanced over to her body. "You should take my phaser."
Sri’s initial puzzlement faded into a dour frown. "That won’t be necessary."
"If I come back…not me…"
"Yassal cannot take you over. You are master of your mind and body. And more importantly, it’s your consciousness seated in the symbiont primary brain. You mind gives life and energy to the others. Not the other way around."
"But if somehow she does, you should be prepared to…"
Sri sighed in exasperation. "Hasn’t there been more than enough of that, Captain? Sir, from what you’ve told me, that type of thinking is Yassal taking over."
Lahn caught her breath, wondering at how different Sri was when she was in her element "Yes. You’re right."
Sri nibbled on the biscuit, shooing her with the teacup.
Lahn took a deep breath, closing her eyes, and followed the pull.