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Regrouping

Posted on Sun May 30th, 2021 @ 7:04pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Lieutenant JG Jaya Maera Garlake & Ensign Nandi Chakma & Lieutenant Colonel Storr Garlake & Commander Arianna Frost

Mission: S1E5: Symphony of Horror
Location: DS9
Timeline: MD 2


Recent events had taken a surprising twist. Nobody had expected what happened and so no one knew how to process it. Sitting in the common area of their suite, Akiva, Storr, Cal, Jaya, and Nandi considered their unfortunate circumstances.

"I can't believe it," Akiva said for the nth time. "We knew they were gunning for us, but this is egregious."

Storr harumphed. "I'm no lawyer because my parents loved me, though I'm pretty sure this isn't an actual trial. Sure, there is a tribunal and evidence, and all the trappings of a courtroom but the verdict already seems written. Sure, there was showmanship concerning Frost's recording..." he trailed away with a shrug. "Our papers are in order. Just not the one they want."

For Cal the aftermath of their half-day in court was less traumatic and far more intriguing. While his current fate was inextricably linked to Theta and her people, the to and fro of testimony, implied fault and intriguing double-play only piqued his curiosity to need more. He felt caught between episodes of some favourite fiction, wrapped up in the lives of those around him by chance and malice rather than choice and now hanging on the next chapter to answer more questions. But Cal's main focus, sat as he was literally amidst everyone here's emotions and unseen interplay, was Frost and that power play of a hand that would drop into this reality card game next. He kept quiet, juggling those incoming thoughts and feelings and taking time to learn the nuances of each distinct personality.

Nandi remained quiet herself, doing her best not to stare at Cal as his strikingly prominent brow furrowed in thought. The man could quite possibly know her thoughts, but that didn't mean Nandi had to embarrass herself like a first-year schoolgirl.

To say that the proceeding was a shitshow was putting it mildly. All neatly and tidily wrapped up with a bow and all. If any of them had followed protocol, the unspoken and spoken orders it'd be done by now, Memory Theta shut down, her crew transferred and split up and the Federation much less protected. Sadly, even though they have managed to tip the scales and regain some balance, this was far from over. Frost knew she'd become a target herself, even a problem, so repercussions for her clear disobedience and outright opposition were undoubtedly fast approaching.

Arianna had gone to report to Commodore Rahal, to inform her of what had happened and how it could affect Frost and her involvement. The conversation went surprisingly easier than she'd expected. No doubt, the Taskmaster would have a different choice of words. She'd deal with it when the time arrived. Now, as she stood in front of the door to the suite where the Memory Theta delegation was situated, she had a different thing to deal with. A matter closer to home than she'd realized.

Taking a deep breath, tugging on her uniform, Arianna pressed the buzzer.

Nandi jumped at the sound and covered her mouth to keep the squeal from coming out.

Despite her own surprise, Jaya held enough class and poise not to react similarly or laugh at the young Ensign.

"Storr, Cal..." Akiva nodded toward the two men, gesturing for them to be ready for whatever defensive action they might require on the off chance they required it.

Cal, already standing closer to the door than the others, pushed his shoulders back against the wall he'd been leaning on and adopted a nonchalantly alert stance. No clenched fists or martial arts in readiness, though the Lethean energy within his mind automatically readied for attack. Whether or not that was a possibility remained to be seen. Cal's full visual attention remained on the entry point, his mental focus calm as he recognized that unseen mind on the other side. Frost. He didn't say that out loud though, certain the woman was not a threat to them.

The Marine simply stood and moved to the doorway, crossing his arms over his chest and physically blocking the room. While the first sight of whoever was about to enter the room would be an SFMC Lieutenant Colonel, it could also be their last. Cracking his neck side to side, he simply waited.

"Come!" Akiva said. As the doors parted, he saw Arianna standing at the threshold. He couldn't help himself. Akiva smiled. "Are you allowed to be here, Commander?"

A 5'6'' blonde with green-gray eyes stood before him, both surprised at the other's presence. The Captain's question rung in the air as Storr stepped aside with a muted *harumph*, letting Arianna pass by. While she was no enemy, and indeed a strong ally given her time with MT and display at the tribunal, he found it hard to have anything but distrust towards anything that even whiffed of Internal Affairs.

Frost couldn't help but smile in kind, shrugging as she stepped in, "probably not, but since I already flushed my career down the drain, what's a little more." Ari replied as she stepped closer to the group. "Are you guys alright?"

"We're still alive," Akiva said with a conciliatory shrug. "Though I don't know how--"

Jaya jumped up from her seat and hurled herself at Ari in a deep embrace. "You left without saying goodbye," she whispered with her cheek pressed against Ari's shoulder. Her sudden gesture cut Akiva's reply short.

Arianna was not prepared. At all. The surge of emotion such a simple gesture elicited in the usually tightly controlled spook was surprising. Relief, gratitude, guilt, regret, caring all at once. The last time she'd felt such warmth and genuine happiness to be present was...over twenty years ago, back home. How she'd missed that.

Frost wrapped her arms around Jaya and squeezed gently. "I didn't have a choice...needed to fight some bad shadows..." Ari whispered back.

Jaya was worried, seemingly disappointed too. This made Frost even more regretful, despite really not having had a choice. "She does care about you." Arianna reminded herself, allowing a small affirmation of her own in her heart that she cared about Jaya too. And not just her.

"I should go away more often if this is my welcome," Ari chuckled as the two pulled away finally.

Silent in his overwhelming task of observing this open floodgate of feelings, Cal concentrated on learning the two women's signatures and on separating them from each other in that complex and strongly flavored invisible emotional soup. There was so much more to come, so many different tiny details in that maelstrom as each individual literally opened their hearts and minds to him.

All things considered, Akiva was elated to see Ari. There was even a familiar knot in his gut that he had not felt in a long time, at least not without a sour pit to accompany it. He smiled wider as Jaya kissed Ari on both cheeks, but then felt stilted when Jaya guided her to the lounge sofa. Akiva was unsure of how he had wanted to greet Ari, but as per usual the moment had escaped him. "Or you could come back more often," he offered as a pithy alternative. Immediately he cringed, though, as he realized how the comment sounded negative, awkward, or otherwise out of place. "That is... it's good to see again."

Arianna chuckled as Jaya lead her over to the sofa, "it's good to see you too, Captain." She wasn't quite sure what was it about the stilted, awkward greeting that she found kind of adorable, but she was indeed glad to see Akiva. It wasn't at all what she'd had in mind for that eventual visit, but it was what it was. She was here now and he was here now, so here they were. Part of her wanted to be more personal, but this was not the time nor the place for such familiarity, not with someone as private as ben-Avram and she respected him too much to put him on the spot like that.

Frost sat down next to Jaya, only then realizing that the Deltan had not yet released her hand.

Looking into Arianna's eyes, Jaya fixed her with a knowing stare. After a moment, she closed her eyes and let out an exhalation before slowly shaking her head and chuckling.

"Based on the stunt you pulled back there, I take it you were summoned here against your will as well?" Akiva finally found his tongue and fortunately used it to say something intelligent. It had been a feat after Ari reciprocated his greeting. The sight and sound of it all -- her being there, smiling at him, confronting him with idle musings that had felt safe in the privacy of his office and inner mind -- nearly made him forget to breathe, taken aback as he still was by her appearance. "Even so, I appreciate what you did."

Arianna raised her eyebrow in a silent query as Jaya affixed her with a look, before looking over at Akiva, "initially, I thought it would be a standard deposition, Theta was bound to have an official inquest sooner or later. It wasn't until I arrived last night and that encounter with the idiot that one of those three sent to brief me that I got ordered to help bury you. It's an effective trap for someone less experienced, still not at all pleasant. Had to derail it somehow. Won't help bury someone when they don't deserve it. It goes against what I do." Arianna sighed.

It was more than just not wanting to help destroy her friends. It was also a personal affront as a lifelong investigator and a seeker of truth. She was Internal Affairs for god's sake! She went after people who pulled shit like this, she has gone after people like that.

"I imagine they are scrambling now to cover their tracks," Frost added finally, looking around at everyone. "You need to stick to your guns and have your best arguments ready at hand. Just because I derailed my bit, doesn't mean they'll stop trying."

His back now once again rested upon the wall behind him, Cal adopted an enigmatic smile. These people were old friends, or at least trusted allies. Things, he suspected, would all be okay. Once the inevitable drama was done.

While he knew that he should be thinking of the trial and his role, all the Afrikaner could think about was how he could not reclaim his position on the couch next to his wife. Petty? *Probably,* he thought, his arms still crossed as his fingers strummed over his biceps. She was no threat to him in any way and the help she had offered was truly meaningful to the crew but there was something....something...there. Looking between Akiva and Arianna, the former's elation at the latter's presence was obvious and the pieces started to fall in place. No matter the amount of contempt that the marine had towards Laena for her actions towards the Captain, she was still the mother of Akiva's child and for all-intents-and-purposes still his wife; there was no room for another woman in the Hebron's life. Storr's eyes squinted as he surveyed the two. Stick to his guns she says? Yes, yes he would.

Arianna paused for a moment, looking around the assembly again before adding. "There might be another problem. I don't know if it's related to this inquest or not. My quarters were broken into last night by a young Trill bloke who seemed very curious about the PADD with the doctored testimony I put together in case I had wandering eyes around. Once they realized they'd been busted they legged it, I gave chase and we ended up on one of the skywalks on the promenade. Luckily by then Station Security intervened and tossed us both in the Brig. He wouldn't talk, but he did yell 'zhian'tara na'mah!' before bolting face first into the forcefield. Before, on the skywalk while he hung over the railing I heard someone call out to him and he dropped something to the other person before they made off and my little spot let himself be pulled in."

"So was anything taken? If it's simply a copy of your doctored testimony, I don't see that as a problem either." Lieutenant Colonel Garlake asked. While a regrettable circumstance, it wasn't much of an issue for anyone here as the perpetrator had been caught.

"The problem is, it looks like he downloaded the files. This was quite likely a targeted action, of an organized group." Arianna countered, "I had station security put a tracker on them and get them off the station where surveillance team would pick up his trail and follow. There is one organization that usually employs the Trill...TLA. It could be that I was targetted randomly, or specifically, I don't know. It could be we're all targets. Security has increased the Alert level on the station, but we all know the old 'where there is a will, there is a way' adage."

Akiva palmed his forehead and sighed. "Nothing is ever simple, is it?" There was something significant to the news, but whatever it was eluded him at the moment.

"So the Trill is no longer in custody?" Jaya asked. "If he is off the station, then I suppose there's no more harm that he can do. But whoever he was working for? The person who recovered whatever he dropped? I suppose we have even more reason to tread lightly." Where were the old days when her biggest concern was diagnosing repressed feelings and combat fatigue? Jaya let out a sigh. This was her life now, working among the shadows. She often wondered how the others managed it so casually.

"Unless they intend to interfere with the inquest, then at this point they are just a distraction," Akiva said, putting the group back on task. "Nonetheless, I appreciate the advance warning," he added with a timid glance toward Ari. "Forewarned is forearmed, as they say."

Arianna nodded and shrugged at the same time. Then she looked over at Jaya, "how are the bubs?" She asked quietly, a smile on her face, one that echoed exhaustion, both physical and mental.

Rubbing her womb, Jaya said, "They're growing." A soft chuckle punctuated her statement that was equal parts joy and weariness. "I won't be able to hide it for much longer."

Nandi looked at Jaya with wonder. "You're pregnant with twins?"

"Triplets, actually." Jaya threw a sultry look at Storr for his contribution.

"You look amazing for having triplets," Nandi blurted, then quickly blushed. "If you don't mind my saying, ma'am."

Jaya laughed deeply. "No, please. Never stop saying so."

"Wherever I end up after this," Ari chuckled, "if you ever get stuffed koala or kangaroo toys, you'll know it's from Auntie Ari for the bubbies." She said, glancing over at the still displeased Colonel, making a note to do something about that, soon.

"Kanga what toys?" Jaya arched her brow in curious amusement.

Arianna smirked, "big muscly marsupials from 'Straya on Earth, the toys look cuter and fluffier than they are though. You can also eat them. The 'roo's I mean. Not the toys."

"Do... do you have these fluffies nearby?" Nandi inquired.

Arianna looked over at Nandi with an amused look. "Not..quite. But I know where to get them. Why, you after one yourself?"

"Maybe..." Nandi lowered her head in a demure expression.

It was amazing to Akiva how they had gone from expressing frustration at the situation to sharing laughs and blushes over child's toys. And, perhaps more amazing, it was all due to one person's return into his life. Arianna. His heart had been closed off for so long after Laena, yet now two blasts from the past in as many days? Whatever lay in store, Akiva didn't know how many more surprises he could take. Thankfully, as he looked around the room and saw friends old and new, he gave quiet thanks to HaShem that he would not have to face the day's battles alone.

 

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