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Old April 8 2013, 04:49 AM   #54
Rear Admiral
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)

Thanks guys,

Well diplomacy's got to work sometimes, or else there would be no diplomats right? I thought these passages would be a good place to flesh out the Rushmore crew but also the postwar situation. Glad you liked them.

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USS Rushmore

Lt. Commander Nandel settled into a seat. The circular auditorium-size meeting room was filling up, with officers from the ships that had been gathered for the taskforce.

Below, in the center of the room was a large polished black table where her commanding officer, Captain Arjuna Liyange sat. The brown Sri Lankan sat beside a broad shouldered man of a darker hue, more akin to Nandel’s own. The captain had told the senior staff, a mysterious twinkle in her eye, about Captain Terrence Glover, whom she had met while they had been cadets on the Shuttlesworth, as she went over the list of commanding officers that would be taking part in the mission.

She hadn’t hidden her eagerness to see her old friend again, and Nandel couldn’t blame her.

The Halanan could see the two bantering good naturedly and a small part of her wished that her long, tapered ears could pick up their conversation.

Captain Liyange was generally a very private person, and for most of the senior staff, the gleam in her eye had gone unnoticed. But Nandel had picked it up, perhaps because she was feeling similar stirrings.

Sharing the table was Captain Machk of the Steamrunner-class USS Bowie. The massive, hirsute Grisellan took up two chair spaces. Also Nandel recognized the gray-skinned Rigelian Captain Nyneve of the Starship Killdeer. Nandel could make out the woman’s intricate, colorful facial markings even from where she sat. Beside her sat the Ktarian, Captain Lasair of the Miranda-class Tyche. At the end of the table where the Starfleet captains were bunched together sat Fleet Captain Borvo of the Starship Kinache. Beside him sat a placid Admiral Salk. The large, shelled Chelon seemed to be matching the Vulcan admiral in a stoicism contest.

She felt the wind shift slightly beside her. She could no longer remember his scent, but she trilled inside anyway. Nandel paused, waiting for him to say, “This is about to get interesting.”

She looked up at him and beamed, “Demetrius,” she said, rising to embrace him. But the man shooed away her open arms, just as the large doors to the chamber burst open and four Klingons strutted in. They were led by a blond-haired woman in a sleeveless, metallic tunic. “Time enough for that later love,” he replied, his eyes looking past her. “Let’s enjoy these fireworks.”

“What about the fireworks last night?” She said, repeating a line she had mouthed countless times by now. His short laugh was always the same.

Similar to Captain Liyange, Nandel had also been heartened by their present assignment. She hated the war, she hated taking lives, she abhorred losing friends and colleagues, but if Delagrange had to be assigned a mission, she was glad that it had been to the same taskforce as the Tyche.

Lt. Demetrius Nash, the man who was her bond mate, served as security chief on the Tyche, and she knew the assignment would result in a much needed reunion. And they hadn’t wasted much time once both ships had docked at Starbase 213. Nandel was still aching from the night before.

Instead of being entranced by the commotion below them, the Halanan took the time to gaze at Nash. The man was oblivious to her, with his rapt attention on the main conference table. She took in his thick shoulders, which topped off his tapered frame. His large ears were in part exposed by his haircut which was shaved on the sides but boxy on top. His lemon-brown complexion was lighter than hers, but close enough to pass easily for a Halanan. His ears almost made the cut too.

She ran a finger down his smooth, clean shaven jaw line. He twitched, glancing at her with a leering grin. “Didn’t get enough last night huh?” Nandel rolled her eyes.

“Seriously Nandel, you’re missing the show.” She sighed and diverted her attention back into the well. The Klingons talked loud enough that sound amplifiers were not necessary. The four warriors stood at the opposite end of the table from the Starfleet officers.

The blond folded her impressively muscled arms across her buxom chest. “Are you saying our contributions are not good enough?” She demanded.

“I never implied such a thing,” Borvo remarked with a soothing basso rumble. “But Cuellar Nor is a heavily-fortified base, and our mission to take or disable it will be hampered by the…” he paused, looking to the admiral for assistance.

Salk spoke up. “The Klingon High Command informed me that they could provide six starships, including two Vor’cha-class attack cruisers.”

“Well, I am certain that whomever you spoke to at High Command didn’t have to remind you that a war is going on and that losses are frequent during times of conflict,” the woman’s tone dripped with both condescension and challenge. Nandel remembered to look at Captain Glover at that point. She saw that the human was nearly out of his seat, wanting to join in but restrained by his rank and Captain Liyange’s hand on his shoulder. She hadn’t caught that gesture the first couple times she had replayed this scene, but now she liked to watch it, as well as the interplay of emotion and silent communication on both humans faces. It told her more about both captains than Liyange ever would, even if she had wanted to, which Nandel doubted.

“I am well aware of that Captain Ji’ral,” Salk said coolly, “as I am sure that you are aware that wars are won with the appropriate use of men and materiel and with implicit trust from allies.”

“Are you saying that the High Command has deceived you?” Ji’ral spat. The woman drew her dk’tahg blade and a hush fell over the room. Glover shot out of his seat. Nandel knew, from past experiences, that Demetrius was on the edge of his seat, but she always liked the drama that unfolded next so she ignored her paramour for once.

“Reclaim your seat Captain Glover,” Salk’s voice remained calm, but hard as duranium. The human captain reluctantly obeyed the order, but Nandel could tell he kept his eyes on the aggressive Ji’ral. Salk then addressed the fuming Klingon. “This display is counterproductive,” the admiral chided. “The High Command sent two K’vort-class light cruisers and two B’rel-class scouts as their contribution to a mission that was intended to halt the Dominion advance and provide a beachhead for an eventual invasion into Dominion space. Even with the Vor’chas we had been informed would be assisting the venture, the taskforce would be at a disadvantage. We are currently now even more so.”

“We are Klingons!” A young upstart stepped up, brandishing his own weapon and thumping his chest with his blade hand. Thankfully the blade faced away from his sternum. All the Klingons but Ji’ral growled in agreement.

Salk tilted his head, “I have not had the pleasure…”

“I am Commander Lorcan, son of Lorath!” The man crowed. He had long flowing, black hair and a brow so smooth he could almost pass for a human. Even Captain Lasair’s brow was more heavily ridged.

“You are a fool,” Ji’ral sneered. “Resume your place!” She bellowed, whipping around the man and staring him down until he stepped back.

Once she had reestablished her dominance, the woman turned back to the Starfleet officers. “Lorcan is exuberant, but he is correct. We are Klingons. We thirst for combat and we thrive on challenge. The disadvantage is the Dominion’s.”

The admiral nodded and then gestured to the fleet captain, ceding the floor to the Chelon. Borvo spoke, his gravely tone foreboding, “We shall see if your skills match that boast soon enough Captain Ji’ral.”
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