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Old April 9 2013, 03:30 AM   #56
Rear Admiral
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)


Thanks for reading. All I can say is that hopefully it will all make sense to you before the story is complete. Though the holodeck scene (s) do allow me to provide a glimpse of the Cuellar mission, which is something I had alluded to in an earlier story. And it provides me a chance to return to writing Terrence and I don't like going too long without putting him in the mix in some fashion. I was starting to miss writing the guy, though CeJay is doing a bang up job with Terrence and Cuffe in "The God Particle".

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Imperial Romulan Cruiser Aidoann

The latest wail nearly broke Samson. He shuddered, his marrow freezing in his bones at the wet, heart-rending sound that had been ripped from Daneeka.

He had never known the Bolian to be anything but resilient, and for the Romulans to draw such horrific shrieking from her, the admiral didn’t want to imagine what Gakket was putting her through.

His fears and concern were also heightened by the fact that he had been placed in a windowless cell and held in by an old fashioned nearly impenetrable metal door. It didn’t help matters that the Romulans had thrown Ousanas into the cell moments before they had begun their brutal ministrations on Daneeka.

At that time the smirking Gakket had been honest about his desire for both of them to share in listening helplessly to Daneeka’s misery. He brayed that it would weaken their resolve.

Samson thought differently. It stoked his desire to escape and to further to enact revenge. He wasn’t so sure that his old comrade felt the same.

Ousanas Dar sat slouching on a bench, his face a mass of green-blood dried welts and bruises. His ears twitched at each harrowing sound issuing from a bulkhead speaker.

“Ousanas,” Samson ventured softly, done with pretenses. “Are you okay?” The admiral was crouching by the door, looking in vain for some defect in its makeup that would help him engineer an escape.

“Mind probe,” the Romulan muttered quietly, almost whispering.

“What was that?” Samson asked.

“It sounds like they’ve attached mind probes to Daneeka,” he spoke louder. His voice had no inflection, but his countenance weighed heavy with despair. “I have not heard such a sound in many years. I had hoped not to hear it ever again.”

“I don’t want to hear it, or experience this mind probe, and I sure as hell want to help Daneeka get free of it,” Samson declared. “And I need your help for that.” He paused, giving the battered man a once over. The admiral had been so eager to stave off his own despair with concocting an escape plan that he hadn’t stopped to comprehend what the Gakket’s goons had done to Ousanas.

So far Samson had been left alone, perhaps his higher Starfleet status gave even the insolent centurion pause. But not so Ousanas, the admiral knew. Gakket had been practically frothing at the mouth with rage at the discovery of Dar’s identity.

Samson figured that Ousanas was everything men like Gakket had been taught to despise and now that he was within the centurion’s clutches, he hadn’t been able to restrain all that indoctrinated rage.

“This was a mistake,” Dar looked up at him, a manic light in his eye. Though the Romulan was staring at Samson, the admiral wasn’t sure Ousanas was actually seeing him. “We never should have done this, never should have,” he nodded his head, burying it in on his chest, his shoulders hunching high as if to protect his cranium from an imaginary blow.

He’s cracking up, Samson realized, in dreaded wonder. He didn’t think anything or anyone could do such a thing to Dar. He knew the man had survived much worse than this.

Ousanas looked back up at him, through him. “We sought to prevent a catastrophe, but that is exactly what we have created.”

Samson reached out to him, wanting to touch him, to reassure the nearly insensate Romulan, but his fingers never made it. The man’s babbling held a stinging ring of truth.

And that’s when the admiral realized that it wasn’t Gakket’s torture that had gotten to Dar; it was the man’s conscience. Samson didn’t know how to repair a wounded soul. He had been too busy skirting his own, and that is what he decided to continue to do as he went through the motions of trying to find a way out of their cell.

Staying active, keeping his mind distracted was the only way the man knew to keep his own guilt from catching up to him.
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USS Rushmore

The scene had shifted, to the night before. The two lovers lay together, their bodies cooling among the rumpled sheets. In the wan light, provided by a cascade of stars, Nandel traced the MACO tattoo on Demetrius’s bicep. Her fingers ran over the open mouth of the lunging shark.

She had always been intrigued by the curious body marking, which had been taken from a patch worn by members of the pre-Federation Military Assault Command Operations.

Nash had proudly told her that one of his ancestors had been a member of the unit and had served with distinction in the Earth-Romulan War. Stories of that ancestor’s exploits had inspired him to join Starfleet and pursue a career in the security division.

He had shared that story with her on the Falconer, the ship they had both served on before duty had pulled them in different directions.

“You love that tattoo?” Nash whispered in her ear, his voice full of amusement.

“And the arm that goes with it,” Nandel smiled, tugging on the muscled limb for emphasis. She knew it was wrong dwelling in the past, conjuring up these spectral memories that will never come again, but she missed his smile, the feel of his embrace, the force of his personality, the depth of his love.

She had feared confessing to Demetrius that she bonded with him, and what that meant for a Halanan. Halanans bonded once, and it was for life. She had thought it would scare him away and that the transient nature of Starfleet service would give him the perfectly logical out. Nandel had resigned herself to that possibility. She couldn’t expect a non-Halanan to conform to the unique biological imperatives of her kind.

But the opposite of her fears had happened, and even though they had been separated, Demetrius made it back to her when he could. Those times were short, but so delicious. Demetrius touched her cheek, his hand sliding down to gently grab her chin. He liked tucking her chin in for some reason.

Nandel didn’t mind because she hungered for his touch. Demetrius’s expression turned bittersweet before he turned around in the bed and sat up. “What’s wrong?” She asked as she moved to stand behind him, leaving the sheet and her modesty behind.

Demetrius gazed out at the starfield beyond her port window. The sleek, lethal visage of the Kinache floated by, powered by its impulse engines. Seeing the Akira-class ship reminded Nandel of Falconer, which was of the same class.

The Halanan placed her hands on the man’s knotted shoulders, concerned about the tension she felt in them. She lowered her head to his neck and kissed it gently. “What’s wrong Demetrius?”

He didn’t answer her for a few moments. Eventually he sighed, “There’s just never the right time or place.”

“What are you talking about?” She asked. He moved away from her, but only slightly, just giving himself enough room to look at her. Playing her role, Nandel dutifully furrowed her brow with worry.

The man fell silent again, and Nandel could just imagine the internal debate warring with him, before he acted. Demetrius reached down to the floor, where their pieces of their uniforms were strewn about. He snatched up his pants, and dug into a pocket.

Nandel’s heart swelled even though she had replayed this scene countless times in her mind and on the holodeck. “I think it’s time we make it official,” Demetrius said, producing a large, brilliant flamegem ring.
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