Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DarKush, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    I'm enjoying these little blasts from the past and it is actually quite an ingenious use for the holodeck
  2. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks a lot CeJay,

    I thought using the holodeck could be an interesting way to tell Nandel's backstory without resorting to using a lot of exposition or a dialogue between some of the Rushmore character's or having Nandel just reflect on it. I've done all that before, and in fact, within this story so I wanted to do things a little differently in this instance. Plus it allows me to return to Terrence on the Cuffe (which is my favorite story period for him, so thanks for adding him to God Particle) and the Dominion War a little bit.


    USS Rushmore
    Recreation Room

    Lt. Torkill threw up his hands in triumph, bellowing in victory. He crushed the hand of the racquet in his hands as he looked down at his opponent, crumpled on the floor. “Too much for you eh, Mr. Jonda?” He laughed.

    The Catullan rubbed his chest with one hand, while holding up a single finger with the other. His racquet lay far away from him, as if he had tossed it in complete abjection at his defeat. “One…minute,” the man wheezed, “Need…to…catch…catch…”

    Torkill had already turned from him. His silver eyes scoured the rest of the denizens in the rec room. Some of the ones who had been paying attention had startled looks on their faces, others quickly turned away from him.

    Sometimes Torkill thought that his fellow Federation citizens were a soft-kneed bunch. If they couldn’t handle a Terran game, there was no way they could survive a game from his planet. For those, he used a holodeck program.

    He had hoped to do so tonight, but Commander Nandel was using it. So he decided to work out his frustrations in a far more natural way. And he had to admit, a satisfying one. He had already sent Lt. Daley to Sickbay, the woman claiming to have turned her ankle after Torkill had knocked her to the ground while pursuing the ball, and now it appeared that another patient would be checking in soon.

    “Are you alright?” The Fenarian’s ears twitched at the familiar voice and his nostrils wrinkled at the memorable stench. Without gazing at the Chief Medical Officer, Torkill pointed with his racquet behind him, in the downed man’s direction. “Lt. Jonda is over there.”

    “I’m not talking about him,” Dr. Zammit replied, angling to get in front of Torkill. He glared down at the smaller Bzzit Khaht, a hiss escaping his lips. On his homeworld such a gesture by another would be considered a challenge that merited a lethal response.

    Torkill reined in his natural impulses. “What are you implying Doctor?” He brusquely asked.

    “I’m not implying anything,” Zammit held his ground. “Why do you think I am implying something? There something you want to share?”

    “I am down here, just playing racquetball,” Torkill said, holding up the battered racquet. He suddenly felt defensive, on the spot, and his anger began to simmer.

    “No, you’re down here, hurting people, on purpose,” Zammit charged.

    “Are you accusing me of assaulting my colleagues?” Torkill roared.

    “Yes,” Zammit’s yellow eyes were as hard as latinum orbs. The Fenarian was impressed at the man’s courage.

    “I am simply playing a game, and if weaker beings can’t handle it,” Torkill shrugged his broad shoulders.

    “Is that it huh?” Zammit said, past Torkill. The Fenarian turned around. A nurse was attending Jonda. The Catullan was now sitting upright. The Algolian nurse was waving a medial tricorder over his chest.

    The tall Algolian looked up, a scowl on his elongated face, “Lt. Jonda has suffered a severe chest sprain?”

    “Just from a teeny ball?” Torkill was incredulous, “And I thought Catullans were made of stronger stuff.”

    The amiable Jonda tried to laugh and winced. The nurse’s scowl deepened. “So you think it’s all just fun and games Mr. Torkill?” The doctor walked past him. He directed the nurse to take Lt. Jonda to Sickbay. Then he picked up the man’s abandoned racquet.

    Torkill flashed two rows of teeth. “Are you picking up the fallen standard?” He mocked, disbelieving.

    “My staff can take care of Mr. Jonda, and I have yet to have my daily exercise,” Zammit said, one edge of his mouth inching up in a smile. “Now let’s see how well you do against me.”

    USS Rushmore
    Captain’s Quarters

    “You’re not joking?” Captain North couldn’t believe the words Miranda had just spoken. The engineer leaned back on the sofa, throwing her boots up on his coffee table.

    “I want you to leave the Memorial immediately and head toward the coordinates I’ve just supplied you,” Drake said. Just from entering his quarters until right now the woman’s entire persona had changed. A chill emanated from the woman and Dylan shivered. She wasn’t the same person that had been his friend for years and only recently had begun sharing his bed. It was like he had been sleeping with a stranger. All pretenses had been dropped and there was a cruel set to her features that had never been there before.


    “That is no concern of yours,” the engineer replied. “Do it, and after this is complete, I will request reassignment and you’ll never see me again.”

    “I don’t understand.”

    “Believe me, its best that you don’t know more than what I’ve told you.” Drake slid her feet back to the floor and quickly hopped out of the seat. She planted both hands almost to the opposing edges of his desk and leaned close to him. At least her scent hadn’t changed. For a second, he saw a glimmer of the old compassion in her blue eyes. “Dylan, I didn’t intend for things to turn out this way, believe me I didn’t. But I have my orders, and a mission to carry out. I would rather do that with no painful revelations…or worse, but I have my orders.”

    “Who gave you these orders?”

    Drake sighed. “I can’t say.”

    “Well then, I’m not moving anywhere then.” He sat back and folded his arms. They shared the same couch but were galaxies away from each other. “Not until you tell me what this is really all about.”

    Miranda sighed more loudly. “Damn it Dylan, why do you have to be so stubborn? But time is of the essence. I want you know that my superior is not going to be pleased.” She replied. She walked around to his side of the desk, and used her hip to bump him to the side. She quickly activated his desktop computer. When the screen shifted from the UFP emblem to a shadowy figure, Miranda glanced back and him and whispered, “I’m sorry.”

    On the small screen a stout, Andorian female, with an admiral’s bar adorning her collar, glowered at them both before leaning forward. “Captain Dylan North,” she rasped, “Welcome to Section 31.”
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Looks like Torkill may not be the king of Racquetball Mountain for very long! :lol:

    And poor North... he's now been drawn into the dark fold of Section 31. Doubtless, much personal and professional blackmail will be involved in making him tow the line, but that's S31's specialty.

    And once they have their hooks in you, you're their's forever.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
  4. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    Ah yes, I recall the Section 31 blackmail angle from your previous iteration of this story. North is going to find himself in an impossibly compromised position. It's just going to go downhill from here, isn't it?
  5. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Sorry I've been away so long, but real world stuff and then a bout of writer's block got in the way.

    Thanks for the last comments. I did want to keep the idea of a morally compromised captain and the affair from the previous version of this story. I enjoyed that part of the old story a lot so I wanted to retain it.

    Though there were many things about the old story that I didn't like-which I guess is kind of obvious since I'm rewriting it (duh, I know right?)-but anyway, one of the things I think the old story got a bit away from was the focus on Samson, Ousanas, and Daneeka. The following passage was my way of trying to remind myself of that.


    Imperial Romulan Cruiser Aidoann

    Samson Glover stood up, his knees creaking as much from disuse as age when he heard loud, insistent footfalls in the hallway, heading toward the cell.

    Whatever was about to happen, the former admiral wanted to face it standing. He flicked his eyes in Ousanas’s direction. The older Romulan continued to look dejected, staring off into space, not even meeting his gaze. Concern and disgust roiled in Samson’s gut.

    He had never seen the hardy, resourceful Romulan so disconsolate. Part of him wanted to wrap his arm around his shoulder and prop him up with words or by just being there. Another part of him wanted to give the man a good swift kick.

    While they were literally in the belly of the beast, now was certainly not the best time to flake out. Before Samson could call to his old friend, the door opened and a beaming Gakket strode in, followed by a younger woman quick on his heels. Samson never could’ve imagined that such a handsome face could be so evilly contorted.

    Behind them shambled two Remans, each holding a limp, unconscious Daneeka by her arms. Samson gasped, his heart catching in his throat at the one’s bruised and torn body. Thin drops of blood trailed her dragging feet.

    Glover heard a rustling behind him, and then spoke with a voice as forbidding as the Vulcan Forge, “You are going to pay for that Centurion.” It was Dar. Samson’s chest swelled even as his heart continued to break at Daneeka’s condition.

    “Drop her,” Gakket ordered and the Remans complied, tossing the woman like a sack of laundry onto the floor. The woman didn’t move, and Glover couldn’t tell if she was still breathing. Both Samson and Ousanas advanced on the prideful Romulan. Gakket held his ground. A determined cast settled over the woman’s features, her muscles tensing, preparing for attack. But neither pulled the disruptors at their hips.

    It was his Reman guards who pulled their sidearms, each aimed at the Starfleet officers. Dar placed a hand on Samson’s shoulder stopping him from continuing. The ex-admiral thought about shoving it away, but then realized such a gesture would be futile, even if it would feel good doing so. He could never reach the centurion in time before the Remans opened fire.

    “Let’s not pretend that I don’t control everything and everyone on this scow,” Gakket crowed. “The traitor understands that Admiral Glover, and soon so shall you.” Samson noticed that Gakket’s aide, a lieutenant by her rank insignia, was not enjoying this exercise of power as much as the centurion was, or probably hoped she would be. Perhaps the brutality Gakket had visited upon Daneeka had curdled her blood too? Maybe it had created a fissure that the admiral could take advantage of at some future date, the thought flittered through his mind.

    Gakket motioned and the Remans stepped around him, their weapons still trained on Samson and Dar. “You know Admiral,” Gakket prattled on, “Your Bolian told me all that I needed to know,” he chuckled as Samson’s blood ran cold. “I know the exact nature of the weapon, and I understand now why Commander Volok kept it from me,” he nodded, his smile widening as his eyes took on an infernal glint.

    “Such power, such beautiful destruction,” His voice filled with demented wonderment. “We could return your Earth to its Stone Age in a matter of hours, without losing the thousands of soldiers and ships a proper invasion would take, and also without provoking retaliation from the other Federation worlds. They would all tremble at our new weapon!”

    “You don’t know what you are dealing with Gakket,” Dar warned, “None of us do.”

    The centurion snorted. “I should vaporize you right now traitor, but I am certain that some senator would reward me handsomely for you. Perhaps they’ll put you in a cage to put on display in one of their manses.” The arrogant man laughed. No one else joined in.

    “No, death is too good for an oallea like you,” he spat. “And speaking of bugs, Oallea, why haven’t you taken the human into custody yet?”

    Samson thought about resisting as the two Remans rushed to grab him, each locking vise like grips onto his biceps. But he could tell from their grasps that he didn’t have the strength to make much of an impact. He just hoped he could hold out longer than Daneeka did, though he doubted it. Daneeka was far younger and in much better shape than he.

    Instead he steeled himself. He wouldn’t give the insolent Romulan the satisfaction of seeing any trepidation.

    Sensing movement to his side, Samson spoke without looking, “Don’t Ousanas.”

    “Samson,” Ousanas’s plea was low in his throat, the tone dangerous. He was glad that Dar was sounding more alive, even if a bit unhinged.

    “Gakket will have his comeuppance,” Samson said, glaring at the centurion. Gakket threw back his head and guffawed.

    “You humans have such imaginations,” Gakket said. “Once I deliver this Iconian weapon to the Tal Shiar, you won’t see me again, but your precious Earth will: at the head of an invading armada.”

    “Sir,” the lieutenant interjected, and a flash of annoyance shot across Gakket’s face. “We are supposed to bring the prisoners and the device back to Benzar, to Commander Volok.”

    He rounded on the woman and struck her. She fell to the deck and Samson strained futilely against the Remans restraining him. Oblivious to Glover’s useless struggle, Gakket loomed over the downed woman as she struggled to get back to her feet.

    “Never interrupt me again Didia,” the centurion warned. He kicked the woman savagely in the gut, knocking her back down to the ground. She crumpled with a pained exhalation. Still hanging over her, Gakket brayed, “The Tal Diann doesn’t have half the power and prestige of the Tal Shiar. This is finally my way in and beyond. If you stick with me, and remember your place, you will ascend at my side.”

    He turned away from her before she could answer. Samson saw a brief well of hatred in the woman’s eyes as she got to her knees. Pull your disruptor, the admiral mentally pleaded, wishing he were Betazoid. End this sack of space garbage right now.

    “Now, where were we?” Gakket asked as he casually tugged down his tunic and rolled his shoulders. He was comfortable in the role of bully, and it didn’t really matter who his victim was, human, Bolian, Reman, or Romulan. All he needed was someone he could lord it over, someone he could terrorize.

    Unable to control himself, Samson spat in the man’s face. His confident demeanor vanished in a nanosecond. Gakket lunged at Glover, murder in his eyes. Instinctively, Samson shrank back, and then he felt himself being thrown backward.

    He slammed into Dar, both men grunting at the collision. While still getting his bearings, he saw a white whir and then heard quick movement. Steadied by Ousanas, Samson turned back to see that the Remans were now aiming their weapons at Gakket.

    “What are you doing?” He snarled at them. “I’ll have you flogged until you beg for death!” He roared.

    “No,” the one called Oallea said. He aimed his gun downward. A green spout of energy consumed Gakket’s left leg a second later. The man fell to the ground, howling with pain, spewing invectives. Both Remans sidestepped him easily.

    “What have you done?” Lt. Didia screamed, though her expression was a mixture of fear and relief. The second Reman shot her without answering, his disruptor bolt punching cleanly through her skull. The dead woman fell on top of the still shrieking Gakket, causing the centurion to wail even louder.

    Seeming immune to the man’s anguish, Oallea turned to Glover. He gave a small bow. “Our apologies about your colleague,” he said, his voice filled with regret. “There was little we could do until we received the word.”

    “The word?” Ousanas said. The man had stepped forward, ready to push Glover behind him if the Remans turned their pistols on them next.

    “The partisans,” Oallea explained. “I am part of the resistance. We were expecting the deliverers, but we did not know it was you until Gakket extracted the information from the Bolian.”

    “And if we hadn’t been the ones you were expecting?” Glover asked, unable to shackle his anger. How could anyone sit idly by and allow another being to be tortured?

    “Just thank whatever gods you believe in that that was not the case,” Oallea curtly replied. He turned his back to the Starfleet officers. Walking past the writhing Gakket, Oallea stopped to kick the man’s head and face. He didn’t stop until there was a sickening crack, and the centurion went silent.

    Samson winced, a phantom pain shooting through his own face as he saw the man’s unhinged jaw. Verdant blood poured from the man’s nose and mouth. Oallea bent down to roughly shift the insensate Romulan’s nostrils and mouth away from the growing pool.

    “We’re not going to let you go so easily veruul,” Oallea promised. “You have many crimes to pay for.”

    “N’Clado’s death will be avenged,” the second Reman declared. Both Samson and Dar took the momentarily interlude to check on Daneeka. The admiral sighed with grateful relief that the feisty Bolian was still among the living, though her breathing sounded ragged. She would need medical attention, the sooner the better.

    “So, what now?” Dar asked, looking up from Daneeka.

    “We’re going to take this ship,” Oallea said. “You can come with us if you wish,” He offered, though his eyes told them he doubted they would accept.

    A bit ashamed of his bloodlust, his need to exact some payback for what the Romulans had done to Daneeka; Samson left the injured woman and stepped forward. He had no doubt that Ousanas would follow. “We’re with you,” Glover declared.
  6. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    So Gakket got his. Now will it be too much to ask for Volok to find a similar fate? This being Dark Territory, I'm not holding my breath.

    But at least Glover and his compatriots are out of immediate danger. At least that's what it looks like for now. Something tells me that Dar and and Daneeka won't get over their experiences here quickly though.
  7. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005

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


    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.

    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.”
  8. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    Thanks for reminding me about Gakket. Another thing to worry about.

    Why do I have the feeling that North just made a deal with the devil? Those usually have a tendency to not work out very well for the non-devil party. Good luck there, feller.
  9. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Yeah CeJay,

    North just might have made a deal that's going to quickly go south. Then again, maybe Section 31 isn't as bad as we've been made to believe (which includes some of my own works).


    USS Rushmore

    Commander Nandel hated this part, but she always forced herself to endure it. But instead of being in the moment, of assuming the place of the person she had been several years ago, she stepped outside, allowing her simulacra the unaltered grief that Nandel had once experienced.

    It felt wrong, disrespectful, to playact that period of excruciating pain in her life. So the Halanan had changed the holodeck’s programming to allow for her to be an unobtrusive observer.

    She now watched as Lt. Commander Nandel stood silently over Demetrius’s flag draped coffin. His was one of two dozen that filled one of the Tyche’s shuttle bays. The woman was broken, sobbing softly, yet uncontrollably. At the time Nandel felt inconsolable though Lt. Laxle had done his best to be there for her.

    The Ithenite held her hand and silently stood witness as she gazed upon the photon torpedo casing. Nash had always wanted to be buried in space, shot of out a torpedo tube into the great vastness beyond. He had once told her that he never wanted to stop seeing what’s out there.

    Briefly glancing at the other coffins, Nandel had guessed at the time that he hadn’t been alone in his sentiments. The Rushmore first officer turned toward the soft swishing of the bay’s entrance as it opened. The grieving Delagrange operations officer she had once been, had been oblivious to the new arrival.

    Laxle had not. The Ithenite had turned to see who had entered the makeshift morgue. A tall, fair-skinned Arin’Sen officer crossed the threshold. A golden stripe ran across the shoulders of the man’s uniform. His uniform was singed and tattered, some cut pieces of fabric hanging off his arms and legs at points. It was a tad worse than Nandel’s soot-stained uniform had been.

    Ensign Effad, of the security division, Nandel remembered. She didn’t pay attention as the man introduced himself to the Delagrange officers. “I heard-I heard you were here,” Effad had addressed the operations officer. He had bowed his head, his tears flowing from his eyes. “I’m sorry.” Without elaboration, the man turned on his heel and quickly left the funereal bay.

    As he walked out, a green-hued, mono-finned Aquan female, this time wearing Sciences blue passed him. The woman walked stiffly, either due to injury or reluctance. Laxle nodded at her. Nandel had not turned around.

    The woman took up a position near them, but not too close. She had bowed her head and prayed softly. While doing so she touched the necklace of sea shells hanging from her neck and the sea shell in the center of her forehead, held their by a headband.

    Once the prayers were complete, she had looked at the Delagrange officers. “I am Dr. Lilaea, junior medical officer,” she had said. Laxle handled the introductions for him and Nandel.

    “So, you’re Nandel?” The Aquan had said, shaking her head sorrowfully. “I wish we had met under different circumstances…Lt. Nash was always talking about you.” The woman had mused, and then stopped, a stricken look on her face. She had apologized profusely.

    Laxle had tried to mollify her distress, but Nandel had remained mute throughout. Finally she had pulled her gaze away from the coffin. “How did he die?”

    The Aquan was taken aback by the woman’s bluntness. It took her a moment to compose her thoughts. While she struggled, Commander Nandel flashed back to her memories of that frenzied battle.

    There had been so much heat and smoke, as consoles erupted like volcanoes, showering searing sparks on any unfortunates caught in their wake. Nandel had suffered minor burns, her duty uniform fortunately taking the brunt of it.

    The mission of course hadn’t gone according to plan. Though no Dominion warships had been guarding Cuellar Nor, the taskforce had been met by a Cardassian force nearly twice the size of their own.

    Nandel had gotten swept up into the battle and the varied reports coming in from the other starships had become mishmash, a cacophony amid the flurry of orders barked by Captain Liyange.

    The Klingons, despite their small number and questionable space craft, had proven their worth, losing all but two ships while taking out twice their number. The tide of the battle hadn’t changed though until Captain Machk had driven the Bowie, which had been trailing plasma and on the verge of a warp breach, into Cuellar Nor’s central core, decimating the station.

    The remaining Cardassian ships had broken off at that point, with nothing else to fight for. Once they saw the enemy retreating, Nandel had sworn that the ship’s structural integrity field had been compromised as the structural supports seemed to shake with the collective roars and whoops of approval.

    After that initial outburst a sense of deep sympathy had poured out of everyone over the sacrifices of not just the Bowie, but all of their comrades who had died in the assault. Nandel had been given the sad task of composing Delagrange’s casualty list.

    She had gone at those duties with grim determination, as well as whatever else had been ordered or she thought necessary to get the ship back in shape. As far as they knew, the retreating Cardassians might be rendezvousing with another force and would come back to reclaim their broached territory.

    All that while Nandel had been bursting with desire to see Demetrius, to inquire if he was okay, but her duties had come first. Hours later, a ragged Captain Liyange had stepped from her ready room. “Nandel, I need to speak with you.”

    The first officer had remembered looking up, with certainly a confused expression on her face. Liyange was generally a stickler for rank titles and she wasn’t the chummy sort. Maybe it had just been the ferocity of the battle that had thrown the woman off a bit, Nandel had reasoned. Though deep inside she had known what had prompted the name change.

    “In my office, please,” Liyange had added, her countenance morose. Reluctantly, Nandel had pulled herself from her station.

    Within the confines of the ready room, the din of repair efforts on the bridge muffled, Liyange had turned to her. The captain had placed a hand on Nandel’s shoulder. To this day Nandel wasn’t sure if that gesture had been to steady the Halanan or the captain.

    Liyange had leaned forward, as if her stance had become wobbly. “I received the casualty report from the other ships, including the Tyche.”

    “No,” Nandel had shaken her head, her eyes welling as grief sought to rob her of speech, “No,” she got out though a great weight had settled on her chest. “Please…”

    “I’m sorry,” the captain had said, “But….Lt. Nash, he didn’t make it.”

    Commander Nandel choked up again at the memory. A part of her had been ripped away, and that wound would stay with her until she died. Halanans bonded once, and it was eternal. She could never imprint another being and another being could never mean as much to her. She could have relationships, she could even learn to care for another, but she would not love them, she couldn’t. The part of her soul that she had given to Demetrius she could never reclaim.

    Nandel would never be whole again.

    “Lt. Nash…Demetrius…he died with honor,” Lilaea had replied. “There had been a plasma coolant leak in Main Engineering. Demetrius led an evacuation team. He saved many lives, including Ensign Effad, but-but the injuries he sustained in the process…they were just too severe.” The woman had reached out to Nandel, but the Halanan had shrunk from her touch.

    “Thank you,” Laxle had said, his voice full of apology.

    “It is alright,” Lilaea had smiled wanly. “I understand. I had just wanted the Lieutenant Commander to know.” The Aquan had then left the two to their ongoing, silent suffering.

    Nandel had been so engrossed in reliving the morbid vigil that she hadn’t heard the holodeck door open. “Commander Nandel?” A skeptical voice had called out. “Is that you?”

    Nandel jumped with a start, turning to the speaker. “What are you doing here Counselor, and who else would you expect me to be?”

    Nitsa looked her over, with an appraising eye. “You know the answer to that, and you know that revisiting this tragedy can activate your psychoprojective alter ego. And you don’t need to do that. You’ve progressed a great deal. The last thing you need is a relapse.”

    Nandel sniffed. “Don’t patronize me doctor. As if you could understand what I need.” The woman turned briefly to snap, “Computer, end program!” The somber holographic recreation vanished and was replaced by a black room, lit by a softly glowing room-wide crisscrossed grid.

    “It took you a long time to cope with your grief, to not lose yourself by giving Fyren license.”

    Nandel’s heart pinched at the mention of her alter ego. She could never remember the actions of her projections, each an aspect of her subconscious desires or fears at certain times in her life. Fyren was the most recent, and the most destructive. She bore all the rage of losing Demetrius.

    The Halanan knew that she should be grateful to Nitsa for helping her learn to accept Nash’s death instead of allowing her unresolved emotions to give birth to an impish force like Fyren. The situation with the rogue alter ego had become so dire that Nandel had been removed from active duty and placed at Elba II for rehabilitation. The modicum of progress she showed there had prompted the administrator to transfer to Starbase 337 and into the care of Counselor Nitsa. The Mizarian had gained acclaim for her work with telepathic mental disorders. While pyschoprojection was not abnormal, deviant manifestations were considered worthy of treatment.

    Since their sessions, Fyren had disappeared. She had become subsumed and Nandel was learning to live life as a half-being. But there were times when she resented the Mizarian’s interference. When the woman wouldn’t let her relive the past, wouldn’t let her see Demetrius’s smile or feel the warmth and protection of his arms.

    “I went looking for you, after the party,” Nitsa explained. “I had a feeling that being presented with such vestiges of the war would trigger your anxieties. You held up well in at the gathering by the way.”

    “You are patronizing again,” Nandel chided, though she wondered if the counselor had a point. Nandel hadn’t had an adverse reaction even to the presence of the Jem’Hadar. Perhaps the lack of Cardassians had been not triggered a bad display from her? Cardassian forces had played a miniscule part in either the taking or liberation of Benzar. And it made sense that the Cardassians would not want to attend a gathering with Dominion representatives, due to the Dominion nearly exterminating the Cardassian race.

    “My apologies,” the Mizarian replied. “I had just wished to emphasize that you are doing well, and you have no need to continue dwelling on things you can’t change.”

    “Who said that was what I was doing?” Nandel snapped. “Have you ever heard of nostalgia?”

    “Yes, but like everything there are healthy ways to experience it and unhealthy ways,” the counselor answered. “This is not healthy.”

    “We heal in our own way,” the Halanan shot back. “Let me heal my way.”

    “I wish that it could be so simple,” Nitsa said, “but you and I both know that it isn’t. As long as you stay rooted in the past, you can’t move forward.”

    “I’m Halanan, we bond for life, there is no moving forward for me,” Nandel remarked, her voice cracking. “There will always be a missing aspect; it will always be out there, among the stars with him.”

    “I am cognizant of the uniqueness of Halanan physiology,” Nitsa replied, “and you are right, I will never fully understand the depth of your loss. But I want you to understand that you can still have a full life, a good life, even if you can never bond again. But to do that, you have to stop miring yourself to this dark passage in your life.”

    Nandel laughed coldly, “Easier said than done Counselor.”

    “Well, let us continue to do it, together,” the Mizarian offered. “I’m here as long as you need me to be.”

    “Or even if I don’t,” Nandel riposted. Despite the counselor’s concern, the Halanan bristled at the knowledge that her return to the exploration division had been contingent upon Nitsa being brought on to monitor her. Many starship captains had passed on Nandel before Captain North had decided to give her a chance.

    After intense psychotherapy Nandel had repaired some of her career as the executive officer on Starbase 337, and North had been willing to take a chance on her. It also helped that Rushmore had also been in need of a counselor, and despite the unique arrangement, both Nandel and Nitsa were overqualified to serve on a New Orleans-class frigate so getting them could be considered a boon.

    “You still do,” Nitsa assured her.

    “And maybe you just need a pet to continue your experiments on!” Nandel gave her both barrels, feeling awful instantly at her words. She knew they were coming from a very raw place. But they did crack Nitsa’s professional armor. The Mizarian took a step back.

    “I’m sorry you feel that way,” the other woman said stiffly.

    “No,” Nandel shook her head, “I’m sorry for making such an accusation, it was unfair of me. You’ve-you’ve been a great help Counselor. It’s just, well, it gets hard sometimes, being without him, being so…alone.” She turned from the woman, not wanting the Mizarian to see her tears. “I-I try to hold it in, to dam all these surging emotions, to be the model officer this ship and Captain North need me to be.”

    “And you’ve done that,” Nitsa said softly, “You have provided exemplary service. And this isn’t about Rushmore or your career. This is really about your life and freeing yourself from the ghosts of the past.”

    “It’s a process,” Nandel admitted.

    “I know,” Nitsa conceded, “And I want to be there for every step of it. We are in this together. I don’t abandon my friends.”

    “So I’m more than just a patient to you?” Nandel asked, “More than a puzzle to be solved?”

    “Of course,” Nitsa replied, a hurt expression on her face. “Did you think that’s how I saw you?”

    “I thought I was a research topic,” Nandel admitted.

    “Well, you’re not,” Nitsa answered. “You’re so much more than that. And it will be my honor to help you discover what that is.”

    The Mizarian’s earnestness struck a deep chord within Nandel. It didn’t fill up the void, but it did make it feel a little less frigid. She sighed, working up the courage she knew would be necessary. “Computer,” Nandel finally said, “Delete all Delagrange and Tyche holographic programs.”

  10. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Excellent character work all the way around, from North's digesting the existence of Section 31 to Nandel's ongoing suffering. Damn, and I get accused of failing to pull punches with my characters! :lol:

    Wonderful work, leaving me hungry for more...
  11. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    Things were clearly building up towards something like that in the holodeck. What kind of perverse punishment to force yourself to live through the death of your one true love all over again. But then she can never bond again, what is she to do but live in the past?

    I really hope Nitsa can help this tortured soul live a normal life.
  12. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks again guys,

    I'm glad you liked the previous section. When I can, I'm taking stuff from the previous story like with North and Section 31, the initial reveal from from the other story. But I felt an additional section was needed to explore how that news would hit him at first in more depth than I had done.

    I also agree that it is very punishing, a kind of self-flagellation that Nandel puts herself through. I used those holodeck scenes as a way to explore that aspect of her character.

    Merria Cosmopolis

    “You’re new,” Major Vorot observed, narrowing her eyes. “I wasn’t aware that there were any new medical personnel assigned to this station.”

    “Ah yes,” the nurse said, gulping nervously, “I recently transferred over from the Aidoann,” the tall, broad-shouldered man said, “One can only take the Reman stench for so long.”

    “Yes,” Vorot nodded, “See to him. Resuscitate him if you can,” she pointed at Meldin. The cut up Benzite hung limply from the gurney. His resolve had been remarkable.

    Vorot had used the monofilament blade to first slice off the barbells extending from his nasal lobe. The man had shrieked more from the removal of those whiskers than he had when she had removed his two opposable thumbs from each hand.

    All of the fingers of his right hand had been sliced away and still the man had not given her what she wanted. Ashamed that she had allowed her frustration to best her, Vorot had moved to his chest, carving into him. She had relied on her knowledge of Benzite physiology to insure that she caused nothing but the most exquisite agony. Instead of finally giving her the information or confession that she wanted, the man had shuddered and then became unconscious. Vorot had checked his vital signs and found nothing.

    She hadn’t wanted the man to die. The amputations could be explained away, at least to her superiors, but the death of a Starfleet officer by her hand was not something that would not be approved. The nurse rushed over to the insensate man and immediately began running a medical tricorder over his bloodied chest.

    She hid her anxiousness by spitting out demands, “What’s his status medic?!” The man infuriated her by ignoring her.

    He quietly, methodical continued his inspection. The tricorder beeped. Vorot tensed. “What caused that noise?” She stepped quickly toward the medic.

    The nurse continued to ignore her, “There it is,” He said, talking and nodding to himself.

    “There what is?” She demanded again, so close she bumped against him. The man moved away from her, creating some personal space. He looked down at the tricorder again before he answered.

    “Just what I was looking for,” he replied.

    “What does that mean? Can he be revived or not?”

    “Yes,” The man said, “He can be. The prisoner has gone into shock. It is a simple procedure to revive him.”

    “Then do so, at once!” Vorot bellowed, angered that the man hadn’t done so already.

    “No,” he said, an impassive expression on his face. “I will not do so, because your ministrations will only result in the same thing occurring again or worse.”

    “Excuse me,” Vorot said, reaching for her weapon. Her hand brushed against an empty holster. She looked down, blinking in surprise.

    “I think you’re looking for this Major,” the man said. Her head whipped up just in time to see the medic pulling the firearm from behind him. He aimed it at her.

    “How did you? Who are you?”

    “None of those questions are important,” the man replied, “It is foolish of me to waste more time, but I do want you to know that the answers you probably were seeking were in the blood you shed. Counselor Morah injected Lt. Commander Meldin with digital information in the form of amino acid sequences. It was right under your nose the whole time.”

    “Starfleet Intelligence,” she said heatedly, her nostrils flaring.

    “Giellun Tei at your service,” the man gave off a jaunty salute.

    “I will remember that name,” Vorot promised.

    “I guess you’ll be one of the first in line in Erebus to greet me when I join you there,” Tei shrugged, right before he pulled the trigger.
  13. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005

    Imperial Romulan Warbird Ra’kholh

    Commander Volok sat quietly among the destruction he had caused. He wore a blood green sleeveless robe, the mourning tattoos etched along the length of his arms. Cross-legged, his hands resting on his lap, he tried to concentrate on the single candle burning on the makeshift table he had reconstructed. The room was dimly lit and heavy with shadows.

    Despite the vast differences between the Romulans and Vulcans, both peoples still found value in meditation.

    However no peace came to him this night. He was so close to achieving everything that he had worked for over the last several years: a new position of authority and respect among his peers and revenge against Samson Glover and the Federation.

    But he couldn’t uncoil the knot of fear that had coiled in his stomach. Things were going too well and that made him suspicious.

    Plus Centurion Gakket had not reported in when he was last scheduled to, and Patrin was cautious to contact the man. He didn’t know if Velen had someone tapped into the ship’s communications.

    He tried to tell himself that it was nothing, that Gakket was wisely avoiding radio silence until he returned to the cosmopolis with the prisoners and the Iconian device. Volok was certain that the man would discover the true nature of the weapon Glover was carrying, and the old Tal Arcani operative was just as equally certain that the depth of the discovery would overwhelm the self-important subordinate, giving him delusions of grandeur that Patrin would be pleased to dispel.

    His ears twitched right before the door chime trilled. “Enter,” he said. He maintained sitting with his back to the door. There was a sharp gasp behind him.

    “Commander,” the young woman ventured. Volok’s features scrounged up in displeasure. He blew out the candle.

    “Lieutenant Vahen,” he replied. “I did not call for you.”

    “I know…sir, but I thought…” the woman let the statement dropped.

    “You thought to interrupt my meditation,” he said before standing up. He ignored the creaking of his joints. He turned to glare at the woman.

    “That was not my intention sir,” she said hurriedly. She chanced quick looks around at the chaotic condition of the room. To her credit she had hidden most of her fears well.

    He snorted, “Too much like your mother,” he shook his head, a glim of wistfulness and disappointment filled his eyes, “She died well against the Klingons,” he nodded with grim satisfaction. “And you do her memory no honor by cavorting with our enemies.”

    “Grandfather,” the woman heatedly began, but stopped herself and cooled considerably at his glare. “Commander,” Vahen corrected herself. The woman looked down, “Lt. Jonda was a comrade-in-arms. Both of us shed blood at the Battle of Minos Korva. Both Romulan and Federation wounded convalesced together.”

    “I am aware of that,” Volok replied, “But the war is over.”

    “Is it?” The woman pondered, finding the courage to look up at him again. He smiled. The woman did favor her mother, who had resembled his wife. Gracefully tapered ears, small pert nose, green-blushed cheeks, thin lips. Patrin had never loved Nimara, but he had done his duty, as was befitting his station.

    He had married and he had produced children, but he had never been able to love them as he should. Volok had provided for them, and for a time he had brought them wealth and glory. At one time he had thought that enough. He had hoped that the accolades could fill the void in his heart for them, that it would provide them some sustenance.

    But ultimately he failed them in that as well. When the Tal Arcani was dismantled, his wealth and lands had been seized, and his family name had been besmirched.

    Nimara had divorced him to stanch the damage and many of his children and grandchildren had disowned him. Patrin’s only consolation had been that his marginal favorite, his eldest daughter Turi had died years before, defending the empire against Klingon savages.

    And now Turi’s daughter stood in his quarters. Arrue had never forsaken him, and yet he often treated her like worse than his enemies. Granted enemies were supposed to be lulled into a false sense of security and non-threatening family members didn’t deserve such consideration.

    Still, Arrue’s loyalty had to account for something, did it not? “Arrue,” he said, softening his voice and his bearing. “You must be cautious in how you are perceived. There are always eyes looking at you, observing you to see if there are any weaknesses they can exploit to get to me.”

    “I am aware of that Commander,” Vahen said tightly.

    “Also,” Volok said, “You must be cautious around these Starfleet officers. They are our enemies. They have already worked to remove us from our rightful control of Cardassian territories and they will not rest until we are removed from Benzar as well and confined behind their Neutral Zone.” The woman nodded, but Patrin could see by the dull glaze forming over her eyes that she had grown tired of this oft-repeated admonition.

    Volok sighed, “Be more circumspect if ever you encounter this Jonda again,” he warned. “This whole situation on Benzar might end badly and we must appear loyal to the Star Empire without fault.”

    “Sir,” Vahen asked, her eyes going wide, “Are we going to war with the Federation?”

    “That is up to the Federation to decide,” Volok replied, “It is not war we seek, but merely our rightful place in this universe.”

    “Which includes Federation territory?” Arrue was skeptical.

    “We liberated the Benzites,” Volok’s response was testy, “And we are their guests.”

    “Our rather we are on Benzar at the behest of the new planetary leaders, who came to their positions once many of their predecessors met untimely ends.”

    “War is hell,” Volok nodded sagely.

    “Of course it is Commander,” the engineer added, her tone belying her words. Perhaps there could be a future for Arrue in the Tal Diann after all, Volok surmised. She wasn’t as wide-eyed as he had been led to believe.

    “You will share dinner hour with me,” He announced. The woman’s eyes brightened and her ears perked up at the news. It was the first dinner invitation he had offered to her since had Ra’kholh reassigned as his flagship.

    Deep down he had known that the reasons he had done so was to be closer to Arrue, and Patrin was doubtlessly sure that the sharp young woman also figured that out. But that desire had never punctured into his conscious thought process until now.

    “I am honored Commander,” Vahen bowed.

    “Grandfather,” he acceded, with a curt, respectful head nod. “I think you have earned the right to call me such.”
  14. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    I took some perverse delight in seeing Vorot's demise in such a way. Now, is Volok next? Personally, I wouldn't shed a tear. He might be just a little too clever to fall that easily though.
  15. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005

    It seems you're the President of the Volok Fan Club :).

    I want to thank our fellow UT writers from Full Speed Ahead for the use of Starfleet Intelligence operative Giellun Tei.


    Merria Cosmopolis

    Quaestor Helveid entered the room, reluctance evident in his gait and on his face. High Commissioner Selene McCall sprang from her chair, not giving the Romulan lawman a chance to speak. “I demand to see Lt. Commander Meldin at once!”

    The man put up his hands, either by design or coincidentally approximating the human gesture for haplessness. “I do not have that authority,” he conceded.

    “Then why are you here!” She snorted, crossing her arms as she planted her feet.

    “I came to inform you that the Federation Council has been contacted,” the constable began, but McCall cut him off.

    “That’s something I could’ve done, if I had been allowed access to a communications console!” She snarled. “But your fascist friend Vorot has confined me to this cage!”

    “This isn’t a cell,” the man looked around at McCall’s spacious, well-furnished quarters. “This is the room that was assigned you during your stay.”

    “A gilded cage is still a cage,” McCall riposted. “And I distinctly recall armed guards not being posted at my door.”

    Helveid shook his head and gave her a small smile, “The reach of our security forces was perhaps a bit longer before this murder investigation, but believe me, you were always within our reach.”

    “Murder investigation?” McCall questioned, “Feh! This is a railroad job!”

    “Railroad? I don’t understand,” Helveid looked at her sidelong. “Please elaborate.”

    “I will do no such thing!” the woman huffed. She knew she was acting unseemly, and extremely undiplomatic. Her behavior was playing right into the Romulans’ hands, but Selene couldn’t help herself. She was concerned about Meldin and nervous about her own prospects. And Selene preferred lashing out to cowering in fear.

    “We have received word. Starfleet has dispatched a starship that will escort you back to Federation space. Major Vorot had deemed that you were not involved in the murder of Commissioner Morah.”

    McCall squelched her inner sigh. She didn’t want the Romulan to see her secret relief. “And what of Lt. Commander Meldin?”

    “He remains a person of interest,” Helveid replied. “And he will remain in our custody.” Veins throbbed in Selene’s temples. She could feel herself becoming apoplectic.

    “That is not acceptable!” She bellowed, pushing past Helveid. “I demand to see Vorot right now and if I have to barrel through an entire phalanx of Romulan marines, nothing is going to stop me!”

    With surprising fluidity, the Romulan slid around her and in front of her. He placed strong hands around her biceps, his fingers clamping into her flesh with surprising strength. She yelped in pain before kicking the man.

    Helveid grunted, but held firm. “For your own safety, not to mention galactic diplomacy, I advise you not to pursue this course of action,” his voice was infuriatingly steady.

    “Screw galactic diplomacy,” Selene ripped back, “I want to see….” McCall stopped as both she and Helveid heard the thunderous noise at the same time. He released her as deep worry dawned on his face. Seconds later the floor beneath them trembled and the walls rattled.

    “What is that?” Selene asked. “What’s happening?” She looked around, frightened as the walls began to buckle and floor beneath her started to give way.

    Helveid didn’t answer. Instead he rushed to door. He had almost made it before it blew off its hinges, meeting him instead. McCall screamed as the man was flung into her, their bodies becoming a tangle of limbs, pushed on by the mangled metal door. Before McCall could fully grasp what was happening, the mass slammed against a wall.

    She heard the crack, felt the buzz saw of pain, saw an intense white light, and then nothing more.

    USS Rushmore
    Chief Engineer’s Quarters

    “Torkill, this is a surprise,” Lt. Commander Miranda Drake put on her most pleasant expression. Truthfully she really didn’t want to see anyone right now, least of all someone as suspicious and perceptive as her Fenarian paramour. The meeting with Dylan had taken more out of her than she cared to admit.

    The muscular Security Officer was sitting on the edge of her couch. He was dressed in civilian clothes, a rustic brown leather sleeveless vest with black breeches. Off duty, Torkill preferred to go barefoot. In one paw he clutched a glowing orange cup of Fenarian Lava Water.

    The replicators could never duplicate it so he brought barrels of it from Fenaria. She had allowed him to store one of the barrels at her place. On the old-style vid player facing the couch, an old Earth drama about gladiators was playing quietly.

    Torkill had developed a fondness for Miranda’s vids, particularly the historical dramas. He had been surprised at how bloodthirsty human history had once been, compared to Earth’s 24th century evolved sensibilities.

    The Fenarian believed that conflict was essential to the improvement of the sentient condition. His views had been the cause of much conflict initially between them after he had joined the crew, and they had some great rows. Miranda’s knee jerk reaction had been to disagree, but she had admitted to herself, and later on to Torkill that deep down she agreed with him. They had begun making love shortly thereafter, with the intensity that they had once brought to their debates.

    “Where have you been?” Torkill asked. “It is long after your shift ended.”

    “Are you my nanny now?” Miranda said, not hiding her annoyance. “I am the chief engineer aboard a starship, shift times are extremely flexible.”

    “But you were out past your normal flexible schedule,” the Fenarian pointed out. He placed the cup of Lava Water on the coffee table in front of him.

    “I needed to relax after work so I walked around,” she shrugged.

    “I’m here for when you need to relax,” Torkill countered.

    “Not in the mood for bruises tonight lover,” Miranda said. She walked past the couch. “See your way out.”

    The engineer walked on, into her room. She closed the door behind her. She leaned against the back of the door, her heart beating faster, anticipating that he would follow her. “What’s wrong with you?” The man said, the door muffling his voice slightly.

    “I’m tired, I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” she replied.

    “Miranda,” he started.

    “Tomorrow,” she pressed. Miranda heard the hissing event through the door. Her heart caught in her chest as she thought the Fenarian would demand more of an answer. Instead she heard him huffing and then stomping his way out of her quarters.

    The engineer sighed in relief, her entire body sagging. Miranda slid to the floor, seemingly boneless. Placing her head in her hands, she shook her head, “How did I get into this?”

    She had lied to the captain-big surprise-about this being the first time Section 31 had activated her. But she wanted to maintain some level of trust with Dylan to bring him successfully into the fold. And Miranda reasoned that the best way to do that was to appear as innocent and put upon as she was prevailing upon him.

    His greatest crime had been falling into her arms. Dylan was no saint. He had betrayed his vows, but joining Section 31 was a hell of a price to pay.

    Miranda thought the organization was necessary, but it required a certain hardness of feeling that she didn’t think Dylan possessed. She had lain in his bed, wrapped in his arms, and she knew that in his heart the man was a simple horticulturist.

    Why he had not gone back to civilian life after the war, Miranda didn’t know. She had urged him to, but he hadn’t listened. If he had heeded her advice, he wouldn’t be in this predicament and she would be putting the screws to whoever the captain was.

    Perhaps Nandel and with her record of mental illness, there was fertile ground for manipulation. “Ugh,” she gasped, disgusted with her thoughts. The Halanan was one of the nicest people she knew and one of the best first officers she had ever worked under.

    She hated how Section 31 made her see people as chess pieces, to be moved around to achieve some greater purpose. But that was the way the universe was and she would rather be moving the pieces than be one herself.

    But still it took a toll on her. Miranda sat alone, for a long time, before she willed herself back to her feet. Her limbs had stiffened. The engineer shook it off before she stepped back into her living room area. She made her way over to her desktop console and activated it.

    She tapped in a request, “Samson Glover, retired Admiral, Starfleet,” she muttered.

    Imperial Romulan Cruiser Aidoann
    Control Center

    The heaves finally overtook Samson when he stepped onto the bridge. Green blood was smeared across the walls and cords of Romulan entrails spilled from ripped open corpses filling the deck. Other dead Romulans were pinioned to their consoles, their sightless eyes trapping the violent terror of their deaths for eternity.

    Above and beside them, bloodstained Remans maintained the ships systems oblivious to the abattoir. Oallea sat comfortably in the central command chair, a literal throne of blood. It amazed Glover to see how quickly the Reman had seemed to grow in stature, from a shriveled slave to formidable ship’s master.

    Ousanas propped the Samson up from falling into the ocean of gore. He steadied him until the convulsions subsided. He hadn’t been fed in so long that there was nothing to eject from his stomach. “Was this necessary?” Samson asked, after he found his voice again. The two men carefully waded through the carnage.

    “I know something of Earth history,” Oallea said, “and that of the humans of your phenotype. I know that many of your skin color also labored under the yoke of oppression and that there were many rebellions. This is no different. And it is a result of the violence that we have borne for centuries.”

    “I don’t need anyone, least of all you telling me the history of my own people,” Samson said hotly, though the charge had rattled him. “And I won’t allow you to cloak what you have allowed to happen here within a tragic period on my planet.”

    “So be it,” Oallea shrugged, “but despite your protestations I am certain there is some part of you that understands the reason for this fury even if historical remove can’t allow you to condone it.”

    The former admiral couldn’t hold the man’s gaze. On some level he knew that the Reman was correct. He couldn’t really truly conceive of the horrors that had been visited upon his ancestors, but hadn’t he just a short while ago thundered from their cell, ready to exact vengeance upon the Romulans who had captured them and tortured Daneeka?

    But he hadn’t found any alive. The Remans had efficiently butchered their oppressors. And it had reminded Samson brutally of the true end result of such vengeful thoughts. “Have your soldiers recovered any of personal effects?” Ousanas said, and Glover was glad for the shift in conversation. The Reman’s words had turned Samson down some dark corners.

    “Why are you speaking to the captain Romulan?” A beefy Romulan bellowed from an aft console. “Your head should be mounted on a pike along with the rest of your accursed kind!” A chorus of agreement rumbled through the bridge. Samson’s blood curdled as the wraith-like beings stirred from their stations. Instinctively he moved in front of his old comrade.

    “The Romulan's life is mine to take…or preserve,” Oallea said authoritatively, silencing the mob. “And he lives for now.”

    “Our belongings,” Ousanas pressed.

    “Will remain under safe keeping,” Oallea would not be budged. “Until we reach our new destination.”

    “Where are you taking us?” Samson demanded. Oallea shifted his eyes forward to the main viewer. Without even looking at them, the Reman said.

    “I had the Bolian moved. Perhaps you should retire to the medical station to check on the condition of your compatriot.” It wasn’t a request.
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    If that was some sort of rescue attempt, it seems to have gone spectacularly wrong.

    I don't like S31 but I have a tiny bit of sympathy with Drake here. But mostly not. Most people choose to work for these guys - North being an obvious exception.

    As for the Remans, yeesh. I know you're not supposed to trust a Romulan but boy oh boy do you not want to run afoul of a Reman. Dar better watch out.
  17. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005

    Merria Cosmopolis

    Giellun Tei inspected the smoking corpse quickly, chastising himself as he did so. He doubted his Starfleet Intelligence superiors would’ve liked his lippy retort to Vorot. They stressed efficiency of action and in the few seconds his taunt delayed him, the Tal Shiar agent could’ve turned the tables.

    He thanked the gods that she hadn’t. Rifling through the pockets of her padded uniform, he found the monofilament knife, which he doubtlessly been the cause of most of Lt. Commander Meldin’s grievous injuries. The operative found nothing else of value. For a moment he pondered taking the jacket off the dead woman and either using it to disguise himself or Meldin, but then dismissed the idea. For one, the big charred hole in the center would be a giveaway and two, even if Meldin wore a Tal Shiar tunic his features were definitely not Romulan.

    He pocketed the blade , and turned back to Meldin. The Benzite hung limply from his constraints. Giellun smiled as he saw the man’s chest beginning to rise.

    Even though he had the information he had come for and would likely be admonished for wasting time reviving the Starfleet officer, Tei was prepared for whatever reprimands might come his way.

    He didn’t leave comrades in the field, even those he had never met. Tei hurried to the man and steadied him before releasing his shackles. With a grunt, Meldin fell into his arms. The Benzite’s eyes fluttered open, and they were clouded with confusion then fear.

    He tried to pull away from Tei, but Geillun’s grip was too strong. “Who…what…” Meldin said weakly.

    “Lt. Commander Meldin,” Giellun replied compassionately, “Welcome back to the land of the living.”

    “Who are you?” The Benzite rasped, trying to pull away again.

    “Starfleet Intelligence,” Tei answered. Meldin eased visibly and he stopped resisting. “I’m here to take you back to Federation space.”

    “No, the High Commissioner,” Meldin shook his head, “McCall.” Tei nodded. He hadn’t been ordered to bring either of them back. And he was certain that McCall’s political position would protect her.

    However he didn’t have time to explain the intricacies of galactic politics to the barely sensate man. “She’s already on my ship,” Tei said, deciding to lie instead. “As soon as I get you aboard we can take off.”

    “What about…Vorot,” Meldin’s eyes widened in terror before narrowing with determination, “And the guards?”

    “The major has been neutralized,” Tei said with relish, “And the Romulan security forces are going to have more to worry about than us in a few moments.”

    “You’ve provided a distraction,” Meldin said, strength returning to his voice. His eyes gleamed with an appreciative comprehension.

    “Yes,” Tei nodded curtly. “Now,” he hooked an arm around the man’s shoulders for support. “Lean on me.”

    “I-I can stand,” Meldin protested.

    “No you can’t,” Tei said as gentle as possible. His patience was starting to fray. They were fortunate that no one had checked up on Vorot’s progress yet as it was.

    “I can,” Meldin declared, trying to push the man’s arm off. The Benzite stood on rubbery legs all for a few seconds before they gave out and he toppled to the floor.

    Tei rushed to catch him before the man hurt himself further. The man fell into his arms. Before Meldin could protest, Tei applied a Vulcan neck pinch.

    “Sorry about that,” he murmured to the unconscious man. “But I don’t have time to argue.” He threw Meldin over his shoulders.

    Clutching Vorot’s disruptor pistol in one hand, Tei took a deep breath and pulled out his personal transporter. He paused before activating it, thoughts of his daughter Taleirrh and his life on New Athens flittering through his mind.

    He had risked all to escape with his daughter and his brother Nveid, after his wife had been murdered by the Tal Shiar. Now he would do so again, turning a quick retrieval of information into a rescue mission. Geillun hoped that his momentary compassion hadn’t doomed both him and Meldin. Once he activated the device the Romulans would know an enemy operative was among them.

    “I’ll be home soon,” he promised before dissolving in a crackling haze.

    Imperial Romulan Warbird Ra’kholh

    Commander Patrin Volok strode onto the bridge of his warbird, an impassive expression masking his inner joy.

    Subcommander Tassem stood rigidly by the command chair she had no doubt just vacated before his arrival. The prim woman nodded as the man claimed his seat. “Tassem report,” he barked, covering his glee as best he could.

    “Sir,” the woman began, with uncustomary reluctance, “There’s been an incident.” Volok hid his smile behind a frown. Looking down at him, lines of concern wormed their way across her forehead.

    “Go on,” his gaze bored into the woman.

    “The cosmopolis has been attacked,” she said, her hesitancy giving way to cold anger.

    “What?” He asked, nearly jumping from his seat. This wasn’t the news he had been anticipating. After patching things up with Arrue, Volok had been waiting to hear the news that the ship carrying Procurator Harmost had suffered an unexpected singularity breach which consumed all life onboard.

    But this…this was expected. “Do you know who did it?”

    “Not yet sir, but I suspect the Remans,” Tassem answered.

    “Your idle speculation means nothing!” He said, unloading on the woman. He shot out of his chair and strode toward the main viewer. “Patch me through to Merria at once!”
  18. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005

    Imperial Romulan Cruiser Aidoann

    Oallea glared at all the pretentious finery that Gakket had surrounded himself with. He noted that many of the statuary had been crafted by Reman hands. It intensified his hatred for the arrogant Romulan even more. He crowed about Reman inferiority yet stuffed his office with the products of their labor and imagination.

    He flexed his hands, eager to wrap them around the Romulan’s throat. But he had forced himself to save the crippled Centurion. Oallea had even made sure that the Romulan medic aboard had been spared in order to keep Gakket alive. Oallea wanted the man’s death to be slow and excruciating.

    After that he would dispatch of the Romulan doctor. As for the fates of the Romulan, the human, and Bolian captives he was at a loss. He knew the case they were eager to get back and one that Gakket beamed about was of great importance. He was certain it was a weapon of some sort. He had been privy to some of Gakket’s interrogation of the Bolian and had seen the brave woman eventually give out, spilling some information.

    Oallea knew they were from the Federation Starfleet. It was that fact that had kept them alive thus far. He wasn’t privy to all of the plans of the partisans fighting for Reman and Benzite freedom, though he knew that agents of the Federation were being sent to help them.

    Oallea was certain that those agents were the people aboard his ship. And whatever was within that case was their means to help in that effort.

    Though he could also be wrong, the Reman realized. The human and Bolian could be traitors and the Romulan could be Tal Shiar for all he knew. He needed to divine the secrets of the case before he decided their fate, but before that he needed counsel.
    The Reman leaned forward in the disgustingly soft chair and activated the triangular computer monitor. He waited patiently until an image resolved through a storm of static.
    A pallid vision, with sharp cheekbones, smiled at him. “Oallea,” she said, touching the screen. His heart fluttered as he mimicked the gesture.

    “Vibeke,” he said, “It is agreeable to see you again.” The woman was pleasingly gaunt, with a cascade of night-black hair hanging over her shoulders. She wore the iridescent uniform of one of the Reman units that had been pressed into war to fight the Dominion and now combatted the real enemy: the Star Empire.

    “Likewise,” she said. The woman sat back, her countenance becoming severe. “What do you have to report?” Oallea gave her a brief recap of the mutiny.

    She nodded, “It was long past time since those Romulan slavers received their just punishment.”

    “I agree,” Oallea said, “But that is not all.”

    “Oh,” Vibeke raised an eyebrow. “Please proceed.” Oallea quickly told the woman about the prisoners. Vibeke’s eyes widened with excitement.

    “They must be the assistance we were promised,” She said, “You must bring them here at once.”

    “I’m not so sure about that,” Oallea said. Vibeke frowned.

    “Not this again Oallea,” she sighed.

    “Whatever resides within that case is a weapon, one that must have great power,” Oallea ignored her. “Why should we fight to be exiled from our home? Remus is our birthright!”

    “Why would you want to stay there?” Vibeke asked, her face scrounging in disgust. “The Romulans have stripped Remus down to its core. It’s a barren wasteland. We can have a greater, brighter future here, in Federation space, unmolested by the Empire.”

    “Ha,” Oallea chuckled, “Do you really trust the Federation? Sure they want the Romulans off their doorstep, but do you really think they will accept us?”

    “There are reports that they have done just that, for Romulan refugees,” Vibeke countered.

    “Because that’s all part of their propaganda,” Oallea snorted, “Once we have done the hard work of removing the Romulans for them, they’ll abandon us.”

    “Starfleet Intelligence has proven trustworthy thus far,” Vibeke pointed out.

    “We share a common enemy,” Oallea replied. “But once that enemy has been removed, they will have no incentive to honor their agreements. In fact, they might pack us up and send us back to Romulus to assuage the riled feelings there.”

    “You can’t mean that?” Vibeke was aghast.

    “What is a Reman life, or lives really worth to them?” Oallea asked, “As far as they know we are nothing more than chattel, a savage people, monsters that would haunt their dreams. Who knows what stories the Romulans have filled their minds with?”

    “Then perhaps it is doubly important that we show them we can be honest partners,” Vibeke replied.

    “I’m tired of counting on the goodwill of other beings,” Oallea declared. “Only we can insure our future!”

    Vibeke shook her head, “You sound like the deluded Vkruk now, or the upstart, Shinzon.”

    “Both speak with great truth,” Oallea stated.

    “Both are madmen,” Vibeke shook her head, “Fools. They think that they can forge an alliance with sympathizers in the Imperial Fleet and that there will be some grand alliance between us and the Romulans. It’s insane. In order to be whole we must start over, somewhere new, in fresh soil.”

    “With this weapon in our possession we can insure that the Romulans comply,” Oallea said confidently.

    Vibeke laughed, “Well I certainly don’t love you for your intellect.”

    Oallea seethed, “I’m serious Vibeke.”

    “As am I beloved,” she said, “And that is why you need to forget your dreams of returning to Remus and come to me instead.”

    “I’m sorry my heart,” Oallea said, “But I must put the needs of our people first.”

    “If you truly meant that, you would heed my advice,” Vibeke challenged.

    “What do you mean?” Oallea asked, both perplexed and intrigued.

    “Erebus Station,” Vibeke intimated, “We have found its location.”
  19. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005

    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.


    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.”
  20. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    A lot of compelling threads to follow here. Tei certainly is an interesting character who bears watching. For now I'm most fascinated about the Remans and their burgeoning rebellion against the Romulans. Their clandestine alliance with Starfleet Intelligence makes sense but with the kind of people like Oallea around, who seems naturally distrusting of any possible ally, I don't think this is a partnership meant to last.