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Old May 20 2013, 12:03 AM   #79
Rear Admiral
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)

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Merria Cosmopolis

Giellun Tei ignored the shouts outside his cockpit. He ran his system checks, flinching from instinct as a verdant disruptor beam bounced across his hull. Two Romulan security guards, decked in the older-style, jutting shoulder pads uniforms gestured their green pistols wildly at him. He knew that that was the only warning shot they were going to give.

Tei smiled, appreciating how the quick Romulan reaction. If he had been so inclined he would send a missive to their commander. Instead the Romulan looked over at the unconscious Meldin. The man was slumped over in the seat beside him.

“Just give me a few more moments Mr. Meldin,” Tei promised. “And we’ll be away from Merria.”

Tei, under an assumed identity, had entered Benzite space in a K’normian vessel. Of course the engineers at Starfleet Intelligence had equipped the vessel with enhanced shielding, propulsion, and weapons.

So an errant disruptor beam or two wouldn’t damage the ship’s hull at all, though it might mean murder to its finish. However Tei didn’t want to wait around to see how much damage concentrated fire might do, or if the Romulans produced disruptor rifles or more potent weaponry.

Unable to rest, he gave the hapless security officers a cheery wave before he activated the ship’s lift thrusters. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the men scramble to avoid being caught in the ship’s plasma exhaust.

Flurries of disruptor beams rattled against the hull like hail. “Time to jet,” Tei said to his still insensate co-pilot. He aimed his forward spiral-wave cannons at the shuttle bay’s door and unleashed their charged fury. The duranium door blistered beneath the assault, but held firm. “Damn,” Tei said, not wishing to escalate matters, but knowing he had to.

He didn’t know if a Romulan battle cruiser, or worse, was nearby the cosmopolis and already in route. Or maybe it was just waiting outside, perched to swoop down on him. He would rather take it by surprise than the other way around.

Arming a micro-torpedo, Tei angled his vessel as far back as he could to avoid the shockwave and any debris. The ship rattled around him and the man breathed a small sigh of relief.

The latest round of bombs he had planted around the station had begun exploding. The timing was a little off by his calculation, but the distraction would be welcome. Moving back as far as he could go, he fired the torpedo.

Tei’s inner eyelids flicked down as the torpedo impacted the duranium, producing a flash so bright that it could’ve burned out his retinas. The ship bucked the tiny shockwave. The micro-torpedo had been designed to be potent but limited in scope.

Geillun checked on Meldin once more before he brought the engines up to full impulse. “Let’s fly,” he said.
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High Commissioner Selene McCall sat mutely among the injured and the dying. Her hearing had mostly returned hours ago, and the sounds of agony and despair were only slightly muffled. Amidst the tumult Benzite medics worked efficiently and quietly.

She had been one of the lucky ones, found quickly by the Romulans and transported to the planet below. Selene never thought she would’ve been relieved to see Romulan faces, but they had been diligent in rescuing her along with their own and any survivors they could find.

Now many of the survivors swelled an overwhelmed medical facility. McCall had long since given up waiting to be checked on. She had inspected herself and found no broken bones. There had been temporary hearing loss and a throbbing in her head, but she had largely escaped the blast unscathed.

And she knew that Helveid was the reason for that. The man’s dried green blood was smeared across her tunic. Normally such a thing would’ve disgusted her, but Selene felt proud to be adorned with the last memento of the man who had saved her life with his own.

McCall didn’t know if Meldin had survived and there was a shameful part of her that wished he hadn’t. Perhaps it was better to perish in an explosion than at the hands of the Romulans. She knew that when she got back to Federation space she would defend the man against any lies that Major Vorot or the Tal Shiar spewed at him.

Remembering Meldin started to bring Selene back to her senses and recall just what sort of her people her saviors really were, and what was truly at stake if the Federation failed to bring Benzar back into the fold. The violence the Romulans were using-even if implied-to keep the Benzites in their thrall would only beget an equal reaction. It was incumbent upon the Federation to stop that cycle of violence.

“Commissioner,” A golden-helmeted Romulan pushed through the crowd. Selene’s heart pinched. She looked up fearfully. Had the Romulans’ ocean of goodwill suddenly dried up? Had they remembered that she was one of the ‘enemy’ again?

Once the soldier loomed over her, the man pushed forward a 23rd century style, black cased communicator. “You requested communications access,” the man said, “This is the best we can do at the moment.”

Selene was unable not to balk at the inadequate communication device. “I need interplanetary access,” she said indignantly.

“This is the best we can provide at the moment,” the soldier repeated.

She sighed, snatching the communicator. “Can you at least patch me through one of your communication arrays aboard a starship?”

“The communicator has been programmed to do that,” the man replied.

“That’s something at least,” she said, flipping open the device and holding it to her ear. She paused, “Is there anything else?”

The man looked chagrined. “No Commissioner.”

“Then I would like some privacy,” she snapped. The man bowed respectfully before losing himself in the swath. The commissioner glanced around at the people sitting or slumping beside her nearby. They were all too consumed in their own pain or grief to pay much attention to what she was talking about.

Selene composed herself before making the call. She knew she contact the Federation Council first, but at the moment there was someone more important.

She clutched the communicator for interminable time before she got a reply, “USS Sacajewa,” announced a serious voice.

“Patch me through to Lt. Luna McCall immediately,” Selene demanded, using her best imperious tone.

“With whom am I speaking?” The voice asked, annoyance evident.

“Tell her…” McCall’s voice started to crack as the weight of today’s events started to press down on her, “that it’s her mother.”
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