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Old April 7 2013, 03:01 PM   #48
Rear Admiral
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)

Thanks CeJay

When I decided to rewrite this story one of the things I did want to keep in it was the morally compromised captain. That character, originally Benjamin Walker (a Brother Benny creation) was one of the best things about the original version for me. So Dylan North continues in that tradition, though I'm going to do some things a bit differently than I did the first time around. With Amelia I thought it would be great to see a civilian perspective that I think is a bit right but also wrong and have that be something of a wedge between them.

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Dominion War Memorial Observance Station
Benzar System

“The Alpha Quadrant is truly magnificent,” Hereth said, her violet eyes beaming with genuine wonderment at the sweep of space provided by the station’s large wraparound port window. “One can see why you fought so fiercely to retain it.”

An awkward hush fell over the small group surrounding the Vorta diplomat. “We fought to ‘retain’ it because it is our home,” Lt. Welker, an exobiologist in the Sciences Division, said tightly, her ice chip blue eyes freezing the suddenly flustered Vorta in place. “This isn’t a vacation spot for us.”

Hereth grew pallid at the woman’s harsh reaction and a helpless Commander Nandel looked to ship’s Counselor Nitsa for assistance, but the slender Mizarian looked away, her face seeming to recede into the depths of her ceremonial hood.

“I’m certain that Hereth meant no offense,” the Rushmore first officer finally jumped into growing fire. “A poor choice of words,” Nandel added, and the Vorta nodded heartily before bowing deeply.

“My apologies,” Hereth quickly added. Neither Welker nor Nitsa acknowledged the gesture and both melted away. A chastened Hereth made an excuse to depart moments later. Now Nandel felt embarrassed and a bit ashamed of her colleagues though she sympathized with them. It was that empathy that restrained her from pulling rank on the subordinate officers, and it would prevent her from disciplining them once the gathering had concluded.

They had all lost friends, colleagues, and sometimes more during the war. Nandel tried to not to dwell on such things, to live in the present, to prepare for the future, but this whole memorial service was doing nothing but dredging up old ghosts and horrific memories for almost all in attendance.

Except for Hereth. The Vorta didn’t have a clone analogue in the Alpha or Beta Quadrants during the war. She was an innocent, and the Halanan executive officer couldn’t help but credit the astuteness or shrewdness of the Founders for sending her as their representative.

Despite the still raw feelings, it would be hard to channel that ire on a person who had nothing to do with the war. At least except for all but the most unreasonable. Or the most vengeful.

Nandel sighed, figuring that she would have to talk to the captain, about Nitsa at least. It wouldn’t do for her to continue counseling those crewmembers still grappling with the aftermath of the war if she was similarly affected.

It wasn’t a task she was looking forward to. Nitsa had been so helpful in helping Nandel to come to grips with her own emotional scarring. Nitsa helped Nandel use her unique physiology to work through her demons.

Halanans possessed psychoprojective telepathy, which allowed them to create a solid doppelganger. Often these simulacra acted out subconscious desires. Much of Halanan mental disciplines went into controlling and channeling the projections in positive directions. But Nandel had been a proponent of suppressing the ability and dealing with unresolved baggage with the conscious mind, like she felt most sentient species did.

Before she had never been comfortable with the idea of relying on her projection or giving it too much free reign; she knew too much about the tragic results of such irresponsibility.

So it had been a hard sell for Nitsa to convince Nandel to use her simulacrum to explore her deep feelings of loss. But eventually she had relented and Nitsa had been with her sense, a true friend that had left her starbase posting to follow the Halanan to Rushmore.

Nandel had finally given in after Nitsa had argued that the work they would undertake regarding psychoprojective therapy might be able to help even non-Halanans.

So far, Nandel wasn’t sure if it would, but the counselor remained convinced. In any event, she was personally feeling much better. After Cuellar, she had been on the ledge, and had pondered suicide many nights, but now she felt a part of life again, and the connectivity was something she thought she would never experience again.

And for that reason, she couldn’t reprimand Nitsa, even if she wanted to. Nandel sighed, and placed her empty glass on a tray from a passing waiter. She looked for Nitsa and then Hereth, but didn’t see either. It was just as well. There wasn’t much more she could say to Nitsa at the moment, and the idea of apologizing again, to a Vorta, in the midst of all the destruction her people helped wrought, made the first officer feel uneasy. It also made her feel darkly nostalgic. She could feel the cool brush of old ghosts on her shoulders.

Nandel quietly and quickly exited the room. There were old ghosts that needed conjuring.
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African Confederation

Rear Admiral Visala walked at a languid pace, resisting the urge to tug on the collar of her uniform. Despite the weather controllers, the climate was too arid for her taste. She had been born in the arctic chimes of Andoria and despite being away from her home planet for many years she had never completely adjusted to other environments. She merely tolerated them, or endured them if necessary.

Even with a waistcoat on, she could feel patches of sweat starting to accumulate at the armpits of her red undershirt. She hoped to conclude this meeting as quickly as possible. She nodded and affected smiles at the few people who greeted her as she made her way.

She was heartened that there were so many positive reactions to her uniform. Sometimes Visala wondered if Federation citizens truly respected the sacrifices Starfleet made for them, or would comprehend that much of the subterranean doings of Section 31 were for their benefit. To keep them safe and secure, so that every citizen, every child could live in freedom and unhindered by want or need. She smiled at herself, remembering the pitch that her recruiter had lured her into the section with.

She couldn’t believe she had been so na´ve back then. Things were a bit more complex than that, there were a lot of gray areas, and compromised souls in her line of work, but Visala had to admit that she still clung to the old idealism. Sometimes hanging onto it was the only thing that kept her sane, and feeling halfway clean at least.

The Andorian stopped at a wrought iron fence, joining a throng of others. Together they watched the renovations of the United Earth President’s residence. Millions, perhaps, billions visited the old capitol of pre-Federation Earth’s government. From what little Visala knew of Earth history, the residence stood as a testament to the human, no, the sentient, desire for peace, change, and transformation. Another heartening reminder, she realized, to gird her for what she must do next.

Logan was already leaning against the fence, looking away from the construction, a welcome downcast expression on his face. His disguise of sunglasses, a cap pulled tight over his curly locks, and garish tourist wear, which included baggy shorts which showed off toned legs, was simple but effective.

Visala hadn’t noticed any press people present, or attempting to hound the presidential chief of staff. Here he was just another onlooker. Visala was getting more attention.

That would normally concern her. She liked to be as inconspicuous as possible. Though the Andorian knew that the notice she was receiving would perturb Logan, so she didn’t mind too much.

She had arranged this meeting location, out in the open, and took her time getting there because she wanted him to stew. She wanted the human to understand who was superior, no matter how much smoke he had blown up the backsides of the Directorate as of late.

“Too your precious time,” Logan rasped, his voice low.

“It’s a beautiful day,” Visala beamed her most pleasant smile. “One that we should take time to appreciate, and remember for all the bad days that are to come.”

“Is that a threat?” Logan looked up at her. The Andorian imagined she could see hard eyes staring daggers at her from behind his opaque glasses. Her smiled widened as a result.

“I’m the least of your worries,” she said, stepping closer to him and bending so her lips were close to his ear. “Once the Directorate finds out about your little mishap, I think they’ll see the error of placing so much faith in you.”

Logan shifted awkwardly, his shoulders hunching, his body tensing. “I’ve delivered. Santiago is under our control.”

“Ah yes, except when he isn’t,” Visala said, “and the means that you have been occasionally forced to use to insure his compliance will have deleterious effects on him if overdone; traceable effects.”

“I’m well aware of that,” the human snapped. “That’s why I rarely resort to such methods, good old fashion manipulation works fine. The trick is getting him to admit that he really supports our way of doing things anyway. And that’s become increasingly easier over the years. We can thank the Dominion for that.”

“I’ll make sure to send a bottle of wine through the Bajoran Wormhole,” Visala said drolly.

“I didn’t call you to discuss Santiago,” Logan remarked, shifting again.

“Yes, you didn’t want to talk about one of your ‘successes’ but your failure, and a massive one it is,” Visala’s good cheer evaporated. “With such a device now in the wrong hands…”

“We’ve got to do something about that,” Logan paused, “Plus Special Affairs.”

“Eleuth?” Visala chortled at the man’s astonished expression. “I know all about your friend. I’m surprised that you didn’t hear about the transporter accident in Sidney this morning…tragic.”

Logan breathed a sigh of relief, “But what about the rest of Special Affairs?”

“Don’t worry about them,” Visala assured him. “My own people inside Special Affairs will cover up your involvement in this snafu.”

“What am I going to owe you?” Logan asked, setting his shoulders, as if preparing to be struck.

“Nothing, yet,” the Andorian answered, “Well perhaps a simple understanding that you remember your place in our organization despite your current preferred status. And when I call on you for a favor, you will not refuse me.”

“Of course,” the man answered quickly, as if he was spitting something rotten out of his mouth. “But what about the situation with my pointy-eared acquaintance?”

“I’ve already set things in motion,” Visala promised him. “We’ll retrieve what was taken.”

“What about the thief?” Logan asked.

“I’ll leave that up to you,” the admiral replied. For the first time since their conversation started, Logan smiled.
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