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Old April 27 2013, 10:04 PM   #67
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)

CeJay,

I caution you to remember that Gakket's not dead yet, just severely injured. And that probably makes him more dangerous.

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USS Rushmore
Recreation Center

“That’s not in the rule book!” Torkill groused as the surprisingly agile Bzzit Khaht jumped over him, stunning him into a momentary paralysis. The Bzzit Khaht took center court, slashing at the racquetball. The small orb bounced hard against the wall and whizzed past the dumbfounded Fenarian’s head.

It smacked into the ground and back up, falling right into a nonplussed Zammit’s outstretched hand. “I think that’s game,” the medic said. The crowd which had gathered to watch the furious match erupted. Torkill’s face burned with embarrassment.

“How-how did you?” Torkill did a double take. How did the diminutive doctor move so quickly around him to then retrieve the ball that had just sealed his triumph?

And he just looked as unruffled as he had when he entered the recreation room in response to Jonda’s injury. There was only the lightest patina of perspiration on the man’s brow. Torkill, on the other hand, was breathing ragged, winded by the ferocious display he had just witnessed. He dropped his racquet and placed his hands on his knees.

There hadn’t been any contest. Zammit hadn’t given him any hope. The Bzzit Khaht had been faster, his hits had been harder, and the Fenarian was a bit ashamed and proud to admit, the other man had just wanted it more.

“Doctor,” A chagrined Torkill said, once he got his breath back. “I…am impressed.”

“I would think that a security officer with your experience would know not to prejudge,” Zammit chided. Torkill lowered his head in shame. The man was right. “Or to let his emotions cloud what is obviously in front of him.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Torkill asked, sensing that the bantam medic was talking about more than the game. “Just what are you trying to say?” He demanded.

Tossing the victory ball in his hands, Zammit strolled past him. “Go beyond the surface,” he replied cryptically, “and games aren’t going to help you do that.” He left the Fenarian to ponder both his defeat and the man’s mysterious advice.
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USS Rushmore
Captain’s Quarters

“I can’t believe that something like this actually exists,” Captain North shook his sadly, “Or that you would be a part of it Miranda.” His mind was still spinning and he nervously ran his hand through his hair several times because he didn’t know what else to do.

Rear Admiral Visala, (an actual high ranking member of Starfleet Intelligence!) had reiterated what Miranda had just told him. As soon as she had signed off, North had checked the woman’s record, and it was legitimate. And Dylan had no reason to believe that the rest of what both women had told him was true too. Granted there was no proof, but he felt it in his gut, and he could see it in Miranda’s glacial gaze.

Sure he had known that Starfleet had done more than a few shady or questionable things throughout the course of its existence, and he had heard more than one believable rumor about the extralegal activities of Starfleet Special Affairs and Investigations, but the existence of an outfit like Section 31 blew his mind.

Miranda had patiently sat on the couch while he struggled to process it all, with an impassive expression. She had known that Dylan would at least verify Visala’s position if he could do nothing else, and obviously the engineer was confident of what he would find.

It was apparent to the captain that the woman understood him perhaps better than he understood himself. And it was also glaring now how she had manipulated him. Anger burned through the pall of confusion. “You played me,” he stated, his voice cracking slightly as his anger built.

“Yes,” she admitted, and her blithe admission made him want to leap out of his seat and throttle her. Shame washed over the captain immediately, dousing most of the flames burning within him at even contemplating the thought of such a thing, but not extinguishing the embers.

“Why?” Was all he could muster with as waves of guilt, anger, and shame roiling within him.

“Captain…Dylan,” there was a spark of life in Miranda’s eyes, a bit of the old her returned. “I never meant for it to happen…like this. I never thought I would be activated, really.”

“How long have you been in this Section 31?” He asked. She nervously smiled. North wondered if that gesture was just an act as well.

“Dylan that really doesn’t matter,” Miranda finally said.

“So all this time you’ve served on this ship; you’ve been working for them?” He snapped.

“I wouldn’t quite use that terminology,” she answered. “I was a member predating serving aboard Rushmore, but I had never been activated prior to now. I think it’s an accident of fate that I was assigned to the same ship that is playing such a prominent role in the Federation’s campaign to keep Benzar from seceding.”

“All the things that happened, with us, it was all a game?” Inside North was roaring, but the question came out whisper soft.

“No,” she shook her head, and then turned away from, as if suddenly bashful. Summoning up her courage, Miranda faced him again. “Dylan, we needed each other…the war, it took a toll on all of us, and after the fall of Benzar…that was real, all of it.”

“But not real enough for you to do the bidding of Section 31,” he pressed.

“I’m sorry, but no,” Miranda murmured. “The defense of the Federation comes first. Any personal feeling…that is secondary, tertiary even.”

“How can you say that? How can you be so cold?” He had gone from wanting to pummel the woman to wanting to embrace her.

Memories flashed through his mind of their nights of lovemaking, made all the more passionate due to their illicit nature. But it had been a release valve that he, they both, had desperately needed. And now Dylan realized that the prospect of losing Miranda had been one of the things holding him back from resigning his commission.

He hadn’t wanted to lose Miranda. Dylan didn’t want to lose Amelia. But now he knew he was going to lose both…unless…

“Oh God,” he put his face in his hands. His chest heaved, but no tears welled in his eyes. He felt like he was breaking a solemn vow, the one he had sworn upon becoming a Starfleet officer, no matter Visala’s propagandistic spiel.

But he had already broken a far more sacred vow to his wife, he realized. And he would’ve continued do if Miranda hadn’t sprung this trap on him. Dylan sat up. He was no angel. He wasn’t even a good man.

But he didn’t think he deserved to lose his marriage, to hurt Amelia further. And after the war and all the postwar madness, maybe an organization like Section 31 was what was needed to prevent the galaxy from spiraling into another major conflict? He rolled these rationales around in his head until he felt fairly comfortable with them. Once again, Miranda patiently waited him out.

“Okay,” he finally spoke. “I’m in.”
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