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Bandersnatched!

Posted on Sat Feb 19th, 2022 @ 12:49pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Lieutenant JG Jaya Maera Garlake & Ensign Nandi Chakma & Lieutenant Colonel Storr Garlake & Commander Arianna Frost & Calderon Jarsdel
Edited on on Sat Feb 19th, 2022 @ 12:50pm

Mission: S1E5: Symphony of Horror
Location: Deep Space 9
Timeline: MD 3


Hours had passed since a combined Security force from the surrounding battle group surrounding Deep Space 9 managed to retake the station, but it felt like days. Akiva and Cal were returned to the Infirmary where they were assessed and cleared of any physical damage. Jaya intended on watching them closely for any lasting mental damage or psychological harm that might linger from their ordeal. She had her suspicions about what had happened, but they were best discussed in private.

Meanwhile, Ari and Storr, along with the surviving Security noncoms, were beamed aboard the USS Megaera, flagship for Rear Admiral Gareth Tau, and were treated for radiation exposure and minor injuries from their rough and tumble rescue operation. Admiral Nyel had been cleared and already returned to her ship. Once debriefed, which had taken far more than needed, Ari and Storr were finally permitted to debark back to the station.

What with recent events and Admiral Tau being the only remaining member of the tribunal present, the official inquest of Memory Theta was now slated to conclude aboard the USS Megaera. Akiva led his three friends and colleagues to the Megaera's airlock. Walking two by two, Jaya and Akiva kept silent. Akiva needed to be alone with his thoughts, and a normally talkative Jaya needed time to process as well. Nandi and Cal followed behind them with a nervous Nandi casually brushing her hand against Cal's as they walked as if gauging the man's receptiveness.

Cal was quiet and deeply pensive as they walked, his mind wrapped about the duality of the thoughts within. Two minds. The Lethean's individuality still somehow partially present. Flashbacks to tunnels those few years ago, to the wounded trap set to steal his freedom and ultimately leading through a variety of hells to this current eclectic mix of souls and situations. His world had shrunk to that small space between his ears, though it currently held a universe or two of problems, issues and questions. Could he be free again? Was the Lethean part of him now? Mentally Cal nudged at his own brain, poking in the darker cerebral corners in an attempt to coax Jumik out into the open.

It took multiple attempts from Nandi's wandering hand before Cal registered that presence and, without turning to visually engage her attention, he took her fingers into his own grip and applied a gentle, caring pressure.




When they reached the Megaera's berth, Storr and Ari were just entering the station.

"Storr!"

There was decorum and then there was passion. Jaya knew how little Storr appreciated wanton public displays of affection, but that went out the window when she laid eyes on him. The swagger of his burly shoulders as he walked toward her on his own two feet released a pit in her stomach she'd been holding for hours. Upon its release, Jaya surged forward and leaped onto him, straddling his waist between her thighs. "You're all right!" She laid kisses across his face and temple. "Which is good because I would have killed you otherwise."

The small talk Ari and Storr had been engaged in ceased immediately at the Deltan's squeal, the smile breaking across the marine's face belying nearly how much he missed his bride. Her jump into his arms surprised him though it wasn't out of character for Jaya, her still-lithe form molding into his chest as the bulge in her belly reminded them both that she was great with child. Children. Threedren?

"A fate worse than death," he was barely able to get out between the flurry of kisses barraging his lips and all facial points north of his neck. While he was aware of his "audience" and the inappropriateness of her PDA, it was at least somewhat deserved...he gave her a passionate yet quick kiss, squeezing her rump to indicate it was time to peel away (literally). A dejected/teasing harumph emanated from the petite counselor as Garlake set her back onto the ground. Not letting the moment completely pass, he bent down and whispered steamy sweet-nothings into her ear as he ran a hand over her back before brushing across her backside and taking her hand. The glitter and desire in her eyes as she looked up at him was nearly enough to make the Afrikaner scoop her up then-and-there but his nearly inhuman self-control kept him glued to the spot. For now.

Akiva was glad to see his friends safe and sound as well. Seeing them after his...ordeal, whatever it was...felt in some ways like seeing them for the first time. Jaya's pouncing on Storr was as endearing as it was inappropriate, and it brought a smile to Akiva's face. Looking at Ari, the fondness transitioned toward her as well.

"I'm glad you made it through safe and sound," Akiva said meekly.

Arianna couldn't help but grin at her friends' display. Grinning felt weird, it felt like the last time she'd had a reason to grin was so long ago she'd almost forgotten how it felt.

As Akiva spoke, she turned her attention to him, that grin still somewhat present. "It...was touch and go for a bit, but it looks like Marines and Spooks make for deadly combinations." She looked over at Storr, then her expression faltered just for a second as she turned back to Akiva, "thanks, though. I'm glad you made it out too." She said, recalling concern in those touch and go moments before the reactor was finally tripped - had Akiva and Cal been intercepted, or worse?

Storr chuckled at Frost's words. "Rough and tumble meets cloak and dagger...I think it worked alright, too."

Finishing his laugh, he then realized that he had interrupted a moment that she and Akiva were having and he silently kicked himself. He made as if to start talking again but just shut his mouth, half-smiled, and turned back to Jaya, angling them both more towards Nandi and Cal. Oops.

Still hand in hand, Cal and Nandi walked in silence. Cal's forehead furrowed with a deeply focused mind, attention internal. Nandi alongside him.




It really was good to see the two of them safe and sound. His old friend and his... Akiva paused, wondering just what it was that Ari meant to him. More than a colleague, for certain. A friend? He'd had precious few of those in life. The blow he'd taken to his mind hours before left him a little jumbled. "All's well that ends well, they say." Akiva forced a weak smile that betrayed the burdens he'd been carrying. "Speaking of which, the inquest is over in all but name. I'm hoping I can convince Admiral Tau to drop it in toto given extenuating circumstances."

Arianna nodded, her face turning serious, "if it works, I'm glad for it," she said with a sigh. "I'm yet to learn my fate. I was meant to give my deposition and go but instead...well you know what happened. Now I face the consequences." A bittersweet smile formed on her features, "it's certainly not the type of visit I had in mind."

The thought that this may very well be the last time she saw them all, saw him...it hurt both physically and mentally and she couldn't quite pinpoint the time she'd gotten so attached to this band of psycho misfits.

"Oh, I'm sure we'll meet up again," Jaya said with bittersweet angst.

"I hope so," Akiva agreed.

"So do I." Arianna thought as she nodded, looking between Jaya, Storr, Nandi and Cal and finally resting her eyes on Akiva. "Don't get your hopes up. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Don't get attached." Thoughts ran through her head.

Without warning, energy began to surround four of them before their particles were scrambled into a beam that shot out of the station. Akiva balked at the unexpected transporter action. "Wh-what? Where did they go?"




Four blue pillars of energy appeared aboard the bridge of the USS Phantom that materialized into the form of Storr, Cal, Jaya, and Nandi. Standing before them was Captain Mrazak with a gloating look on his face--which was hidden behind an exosuit helmet.

"Welcome back," said the Vulcan Without Logic. "I trust the proceedings on the station are finally over. We are in need of backup." Sparing a glance at the helm, Mrazak said, "Take us to warp."

"Aye, sir," said Ryland, then offered a wave to the others. "And howdy, y'all. I'll send old Akiva our best."

"Thank you, Lieutenant Dedeker," Jaya said diplomatically. "You read my mind." And then she let out a full-body shudder at the literal meaning of the figure of speech.

Nandi just blinked. This...this wasn't normal. It couldn't be.

In the moment of realisation, Cal's hand lightly crushed Nandi's own, then swiftly eased off the pressure as he planted feet solidly on deck and regarded the environment around him. The ship didn't matter, the helmsman didn't matter, not in that second moment. No, what struck him hard across the highly strung but silently processing mind-twins was the presence of that exosuit and the absence of Akiva and Ari. The former realisation took immediate priority.

"Why the suit, Captain?" Cal heard himself ask, as he protectively shifted position just a micro-step to the fore of Nandi's own. Force of habit, and a show of force as his mind sought to search Mrazak's in any way possible.

"Just an unnecessary precaution," Mrazak explained, "to a wholly unlikely possibility."

"He got bit by a space vampire," Ryland cut in from the helm.

Mrazak turned and barked at the man. "And that will be enough out of you, Mr. Dedeker!"

"What?" Ryland protested. "I heard the hot blond doc say you'll be right as rain once we get the antidote."

"Rain or no rain, I am fine here and now," Mrazak said through gritted teeth. Turning back to the new arrivals. "What is before us now is a very sensitive and delicate mission to retrieve some banned biotech. Your assistance was deemed beneficial. Do you have any questions or can we get down to strategy?"

Jaya raised her hand. "Just one. What's a vampire?"

The Lethean within chuckled. Not a happy sound, but a vile sense of personal amusement for the macabre. He's fucked. You're all fucked. Jumik clearly found this turn of events highly entertaining.

Externally, Cal remained calm while internally he sought more information from that secondary information resource. The question 'Space vampire?' returned a gloating response from his companion. 'Corvans'.

"A vampire is a creature who feeds on another's blood, or energy," Cal clarified for Jaya's benefit. "There are some in the animal world, but I don't know of any 'space vampires'. What's a Corvan?" He asked, the frown on his features echoed internally by another round of ghostly Lethean laugher. "And, with respect, Captain - unnecessary precaution?" Cal's questions were asked with a level, respectful tone, this crew and their idiosyncrasies being new to him. "Clearly you're concerned about some kind of infection? The doc cleared you for duty?"

"Do not ask questions above your paygrade!" Mrazak sneered through his faceplate. "Now find a quiet corner and ditsla comal datsunan until we arrive at our next stop."




"... so, yeah. We'll swing by on the way back and get you," Ryland said via Akiva's combadge. "Mrazak was pretty dern insistent on that part. Phantom out."

Akiva closed his eyes for a moment and seethed through his nostrils. When that failed to calm him, he let out a punch against the wall of the corridor where he was left standing. "Ben-zonah!" he cursed. Then, after popping the joints in his wrist, he gave it a good rub with his other hand and stared sheepishly at Ari. "Sorry. It's just...the nerve of that Vulcan! Whenever I think I've seen the depths of his devious and petty behavior, he is all too willing to show a new low."

Arianna raised an eyebrow as Akiva yelled then punched the wall. As he spoke, though, she chuckled, "so you're saying you'd rather be there and deal with him than here dealing with the rest of the world?"

"Well, no," Akiva said sullenly. She had a point, but... "I was just hoping for an easy closure to this inquest with Admiral Tau and my team. Now I'm left here alone." He smiled at Ari, though, as her melodic chuckle thawed his icy disposition. "But I guess I'm not here all alone, am I?"

Frost shrugged, "well...I do need to get going." She said with a sigh, "I have my own Mrazak to deal with sooner rather than later and my transport leaves soon." That said, she stepped over to Akiva and embraced him tightly, "it's been good to see you, Akiva."

What she was not prepared for was how right that felt. Too right. Too comfortable. Too much.

"Oh..." Akiva's brief flash of happiness quickly deflated. "So soon?" He quickly stuffed his disappointment below a stoic facial expression. "Of course. I'm sorry we kept you longer than expected..." A tremor in his throat led to a dry swallow. "...but I'm still sorry it couldn't be longer."

"So am I," she said in earnest as she stepped away from him. One little indulgence over with. She'd take it for what it was worth and not dwell on the rest. Definitely not dwell on the rest.

What was there left to say? Green eyes caught brown and she found herself lost for words. Why was this so difficult? She'd pulled through other emotionally charged situations better than this.

"I'll miss you. Hopefully, I'll be able to get on the QEC." A word or few finally.

"Wait."

Akiva reached for Ari and held her in the embrace he had been too stunned to return. "I'll miss you," he whispered in a burst of emotion that he couldn't explain. And then, somehow, their lips met in a spark of deep connection that was somewhere between platonic and passionate.

Instinct got involved somewhere in the mix of this reluctant, long drawn out goodbye, so did hidden passions, feelings of kinship, camaraderie, something more. A fire of it all spread out through Arianna as she found herself returning the kiss and the embrace.

"Oh what's the harm..." a fleeting thought etched its way in, a way of justifying this forbidden encounter. Another secret to keep. She was good at those.

Right?

As they pulled away, Arianna took a breath, leaning her forehead against his. "I don't regret this." She said between breaths softly.

One of them had to pull away before this escalated. Giving him another squeeze about the shoulders, she said. "Take care of yourself, Akiva." Her voice broke just a little, her usual cool veneer unable to recompose itself that quickly. Then she stepped away.

Akiva's mouth moved up and down but no words came out. What just happened? And what did it mean? Love was something that had been a deficit in his life in almost every way, from his lack of dating experience to his father who had practically disowned him to his brother Omri's death all those years ago. But now; after hearing from Laena that she wanted to reconcile and then sharing a parting kiss with a true-blue friend, Akiva barely knew which way was up.

As Ari walked away, all he could do was wave goodbye and thank HaShem that duty would keep them apart before something undeniable happened. Before his addled mind and confused heart let him do something stupid.

Her back turned to him as she walked away, Arianna bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from turning back and doing something stupid. Misty eyed and emotionally rattled, Frost forced herself to assume the moniker and cool off. Easier said than done, of course, now that things have been said and done.

"Fuuuuuuuuckkkkkkk!" She screamed at herself in her mind as she went to retrieve her belongings and board the shuttle back to the real world.

 

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