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Pieces of Unreality

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Christopher was glad that Ash had served on the Discovery.

Had Ash remained on one of the Section’s NCIA-93-type vessels, he would not have been spared from the death-dealing Control. He would have become nothing more than a number - a mere estimate - in Starfleet’s official report about the failing of Section 31’s threat assessment system, its eventual neutralisation, and the apparent destruction of the U.S.S Discovery.

But, as mindless as Control was, it was lightyears away from stupidity. To kill someone with as rich a history with the Discovery as Ash Tyler - oh no, no, no! That would have been one fatal miscalculation on Control’s part. Someone like Ash Tyler would have been far too useful to Control on its mission to obtain the Sphere’s ancient data apropos of artificial intelligence and sentience. Ash would have endured the same fate as Leland: being injected with Control’s coded, ferromagnetic nanites and nanobots, which would serve to carry out one mission - integration.

The nanotechnology would go on to activate and network itself, working to install a system programmed to sabotage the Discovery, and going on to destroy every last innard: from the thinnest of capillaries, to the thickest of bones; from the most minuscule of cells, to the largest of bodily organs - every last drop of blood would have been drained from his body and replaced with conglomerates of the murderous nanites and nanobots.

Ash would have been no more than a shell.

In each instance where a thought of Control’s wicked reanimation processes sauntered through Chris’ mind, his lips curled and his gut throbbed.

Though, when he thought of what could have happened to the now Commander of Section 31, he felt more than just the vile pangings of disgust - he felt pity.

Ash’s body - the one that had not always belonged to him - had undergone an unconscionable number of tragedies: his skin had been flayed, several of the chambers of his very own heart had been removed by saw, and his bones had been shaved down to what were deemed appropriate lengths.

Nearly all of Ash’s major organs were left tainted with amassed scar tissue as a result of the brutal procedures of the Klingon choH’a’: and with the passing of time, the fibrous tissue only grew to become a source of pain for Tyler. Nerve endings regenerated, returning feeling to the scarred tissues, just to be crushed by what served only as evidence of the nefarious surgeries - just as the lump of excess salivation uncomfortably sliding down Chris’ throat served only as evidence of his revulsion to his own nefarious thoughts - just as the tugging at his stomach and the pricking at his brain both served as evidence of Chris’ culpability for even allowing thoughts of Ash’s possibly gruesome death to cross his mind.

Chris ran - chasing after his own thoughts in an attempt to catch them and return them to the present and the real.

He, with a deep inhale and a scant sigh, sharply reminded himself - scolding himself almost - that these were only hypothetical situations inspired by the darkest of his own nagging, abhorrent thoughts. ‘How silly’, he thought. ‘What good does it do to dwell and focus on what could have been rather than what had been and what truthfully was?’

Though if he focused on what truthfully was, he could not help but feel himself succumb to the relative glumness of his reality.

It had been a fair amount of time since Chris and Ash had spoken.

Following the chaos of their respective interrogations in the wake of the disappearance of the Discovery to the unfathomably distant year of 3187, the two men decided that in the wake of all that had happened - all of the lies that had been recorded under oath - they both desperately needed a drink.

In the small San Franciscan pub nearest their temporary quarters, the pair’s conversation varied from disheartened talk of the day’s events and their shared uncertainty for the future to, as the night went on and the effects of the myriad of shots of Andorian ale began to take effect, the possible return of professional baseball to Earth and the seemingly uncomfortable tightness of a nearby Tellarite patron’s pants.

In the chaos that was his reality at that moment, that bit of chatter allowed Christopher to feel some sense of security.

Reality had changed since then.

The reality was that he remained uncertain when the universe would permit himself and the Section 31 operative to cross paths again.

The reality was that with each passing day he grew more and more unsure that the dull flame of desire evoked by the mysterious liaison that had managed to transfix him would fade.

Reality became the occasional treat of masturbation to the thoughts of heated body-to-body contact.

Reality became the recollections of the envy - the green-eyed monster that would strike his heart each and every time he witnessed Ash and Michael lock eyes, seeming to speak through their gazes alone.

Oh, how he longed to be loved.

And how he longed for his communicator to stop chiming!

Chris flipped open his communicator with a small groan escaping his lips, returning from his withdrawn, near-catatonic state, “Go ahead Number One.”

“Captain, we are receiving an encrypted subspace transmission from an unknown vessel.”

“What are its origins, Commander? Have you verified whether its encryption codes are documented anywhere within the Starfleet database?”

“Based on our initial scans, its encryption coding sequences most closely resemble those utilised by Section 31.”

The skipping of a heartbeat. The parting of lips and the sudden inhalation of air.

“Captain?”

“Put it through to my ready room.”