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Old February 17 2013, 11:01 PM   #38
Rear Admiral
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)

Thanks CeJay,

Yeah, it's not looking good for the home team right now. I was so busy writing stuff for the other characters that I almost forgot that this is supposed to be a Samson story and wanted to throw a scene in there to remind me of that. Putting him in some real danger should also keep me focused on figuring out a way for him to get out of it.

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Dominion War Memorial Observance Station
Benzar System

Lt. Commander Miranda Drake’s cloud of frustration lifted as she caught the Romulan Volok and Lt. Jonda in an animated conversation. The animation was coming all from the Catullan science officer, as was his wont, while the Romulan rigidly stood close by.

Debating a nanosecond or two over what she should do, the engineer headed toward the odd twosome. The Romulan stiffened slightly, his tapered ears no doubt catching her approach. Volok turned smooth, a practiced smile on his face. He dipped gracefully in respect, “Commander Drake,” he said with such familiarity as if they had been working together for years.

Miranda forced herself not to curtsey. “Commander Volok,” she looked around him to Jonda, and acknowledged her science officer.

“Commander,” Jonda’s smile was far more genuine, though tinged with nervousness.

“You two seem to be engaged in quite an interesting conversation,” she threw out her hook.

“Ah yes, Mr. Jonda was telling me about the mechanics of the forcefield holding the debris in a globular formation,” Volok said, nodding with appreciation as he continued, “A most complicated, and admirable process.”

“Agreed,” Drake said, warming to the subject. She had spent hours poring over the schematics of the memorial and had been eager to ply its creators with questions. The best part of this whole affair thus far had been meeting some of the engineering team. She wished she had one or more on the Rushmore. Not to knock her team at all, but such engineering skill was something rare, even in Starfleet.

Miranda had already determined to try to recruit a few of the Benzites for the Corps of Engineers and hoped to put a bug in their ears about it before the Rushmore disembarked. “Ah yes,” Drake began, “I was speaking to Planner Felnis about…”

“My apologies,” Volok said, a remorseful expression wreathing his features, “But I am fatigued. I had actually been planning to retire to my vessel before I encountered Mr. Jonda,” he said.

“And you know how I am,” Jonda said, with a sheepish shrug. “I guess that the commander had enough forbearance to tolerate me going on one of my tangents.”

“It was a fascinating tangent,” Volok declared.

“I see,” Drake said, her eyes narrowing slightly. Something was going on between the two men, and it had little if anything to do with engineering small talk.

“If I might take my leave?” Volok asked, though he had already stepped away from both Starfleet officers. Before Miranda could reply, the Romulan headed in the direction of the transporter rooms.

She waited until she thought he was safely out of earshot and then leaned close to Jonda. “What was that about?”

“Just idle conversation,” the Catullan smiled, but now the gesture didn’t feel so warm. It felt artificial, chilly even. “Nothing to concern yourself with Commander.”

“I can order you to tell me,” Drake’s voice hardened.

“Yes, you could,” Jonda replied, unfazed, “though I think you would disappointed with the result.”

“What is that supposed to mean Lieutenant?” The engineer asked, not hiding her exasperation.

“That when you look for shadows, you’ll find them,” Jonda said, shrugging, “An old saying among my people. I think that everyone is so uptight, on edge, and that’s not any way to be. We won the war, all of us together, we should be allies, and it’s time we started acting more like that. Step one, is treating the Romulans like fellow sentients.”

“How we treat the Romulans isn’t the issue,” Miranda rejoined, “It’s how they treat us.”

“Fair enough,” the science officer sighed, “Perhaps we change that by engaging them in dialogue.”

Drake shook her head sadly at the younger man, “We’ve been trying that for years,” she replied wearily. “It hasn’t worked yet.”

“Doesn’t mean we should stop,” Jonda replied earnestly. Drake tried not to laugh at the man’s idealism. She would have liked to think that she had been that fresh faced once. She clapped the younger man on the back.

“No it doesn’t,” she conceded. She sighed, feeling more relaxed. The fog hanging over her had lifted. She canted her head to the side as the din from the gathering came through the closed doors.

“Have you forgotten that a party is going on?” She teased the science officer. Jonda smiled.

“Of course not,” he said, gesturing at the door. “After you commander.”

“No, you first, I insist,” Miranda replied with a chortle. Jonda acceded to her wishes. Though she wasn’t as keyed up, the engineer still felt uneasy about the furtive conversation. She hated to admit that she didn’t quite believe that Jonda had been completely honest with her, and at the moment she preferred to keep her in front of him.
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Imperial Romulan Warbird Ra’kholh

The engineer knew to be waiting for him when Commander Volok appeared on the transporter pad. He stepped off it and imperiously passed the penitent Lt. Vahen, without even glancing at her. He couldn’t prevent himself a small smile of triumph as he caught the woman’s flinching from the corner of his eye. He would deal with her later, or not at all. It depended on his mood. Volok had learned long ago that the anticipation of punishment was just as effective, or more so, than the actual chastisement itself.

Volok strode down the corridor, not even acknowledging the rapidly saluting officers he brushed by. Once inside his private quarters, behind the safety of sound proofed walls, he bellowed, unleashing the full weight of his fury.

He had kept it pent up too long and now, out of sight, he tore through the room. Rending chairs and tables, upturning the sofa and smashing mirrors, Patrin superimposed a face over each item he demolished.

Ripping his skin on jagged wood and twisted metal, the sight of his own blood empowered him on to more destruction. His boot smashed the glass coffee table top and he imagined it was Velen’s face he was pulverizing. How dare she interrupt his parley with Captain North. He was just about to get the rash human to commit another faux pas in front of the Benzite elite.

Word of such uncouth behavior on the part of North would’ve spread throughout the Benzite punditry and from them to the lower masses. It would’ve been one more finger pulled away from the Federation’s grasp on Benzar.

But the arrogant Velen had to interject, her desire to engage in internecine bureaucratic warfare had been more important to her than luring the Federation into another diplomatic blunder.

Were the Tal Shiar really so frightened of the Tal Diann that they wanted Benzar to slip from the Star Empire’s clutches?

The idea of such selfishness enraged him further. After razing nearly every other standing thing in his room, Volok turned to his personal terminal. He blinked several times, in rhythm with the soft green light emitting from the computer. In his fugue he hadn’t noticed it before.

His curiosity reined in his anger, and Volok stalked over to the terminal. He activated it and listened to the encoded audio message. Reaching back for his chair, the commander felt empty air. Turning around, momentarily confused, he gasped at the trail of destruction he had just created.

It shook him that he had just done such a thing, that he had allowed his temper to rule him so. The chair had been a casualty, so Volok hunched over the screen and tapped in the proper authentication sequence.

Minutes later a peeved Garth Logan glared at him. “Where have you been?” The tousled hair human demanded.

“I didn’t know I had a Terran nanny,” Volok snapped back. Logan opened his mouth to retort and then closed it as he gave Volok a thorough once over. “What happened to you? You look like you just survived a row with the Yan-Isleth.” Volok patted down the wild strands of hair. He did nothing about the blood smeared across his cheeks.

Volok snarled at the mention of the Klingon Chancellor’s personal bodyguards, the supposedly fabled Brotherhood of the Sword. “What do you want?”

“You know what I want,” Logan said, not backing down. “Has the package been delivered to you?”

“Yes,” Volok nodded, “All three, nice and tied with a bow, according to my subordinate.”

“Excellent,” Logan said, pausing as he considered his words, “Did your subordinate report anything unusual about my contact?”

Ah, Volok realized, his smile widening. He might not be able to strike at Velen…yet, but he could take down this toadying human. “You wish to know the status of the…Steadfast, is it not?”

“Yes,” Logan said slowly, his eyes hooding with suspicion.

“It and her pilot are space atoms,” the Romulan boasted, “and not only do I have my prisoners, I also have your Iconian device.”

“What?” Logan spat, and Volok laughed.

“Did you seriously not think that I didn’t know about your other mission, the one that would deliver the Iconian device to Benzite insurrectionists?”

“How is that…how could you?” The human was so livid, his face beet red, that he couldn’t even formulate a full sentence. Volok wondered if that is how he had looked just moments earlier.

“The Tal Diann has eyes everywhere,” he boasted. “And on behalf of my organization and the Star Empire, I thank you for giving me the means to not only to affect my vengeance but also to crush the rebellion your Starfleet Intelligence is aborning. If I was a citizen, President Santiago would have my vote.”

He gave a full throated laugh at the man’s face contorted with fear. “Yes, I know who you are and who you work for, Mr. Logan. Did you really take me for such a fool? And if you did, guess who is the fool now.” With a deep satisfaction, Volok disconnected the link, leaving the dumbfounded, outmatched man to stew in the hell of his making.
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