SIM:Adarnis - Radical Beginnings, Part Five

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JP Lt. Cmdr. T’Lea/2nd Lt. Dade Adarnis - Radical Beginnings, Part 5

((Hartlhei Forest))

:: Dusk was setting in and the spectrum of pastels that had once painted the clear sun filled skies were now quickly turning into an ominous dark gray. As night encroached a storm was moving in with it. In anticipation of the brewing tempest, the animals that would usually be singing their sweet nocturnal serenades were silent and waiting.::

:: Suddenly, a flock of birds rocketed in fright from their leafy, yellow and red jungle home when the unnatural sound of CLANK, CLANK, CLANKING ricocheted off the tree trunks below. On the hillside, where the overgrowth of forest choked the gentle glide of the slope, a metal cover was hurled off a narrow hole, and rolled the rest of the way down the hill, slashing through shrubs along the way.::

:: The first person out of the man-made tunnel was the handsome Dade, feet first kicking his rucksack onto the ground. Next was the lovely T'Lea, head first, gripping a few overhanging tree roots and gracefully sliding out onto her feet. Though their exit had been easy enough, the journey up to this point had been gruelling. After twisting and turning through the endless caves, Dade's photographic memory had led them to a hidden passageway -- one that had been chipped out of stone and scratched out of dirt. It was like some kind of jailbreak escape tunnel, supported by old rotting beams of wood that looked ready to crumble on top of them. For an hour, the duelling-duo crawled on hands and knees through sharp rock, muck, crunchy insects and prickly roots only to find that steel bars sealed their exit. Luckily, the soldering job had been shoddy, and the metal was rusted through, otherwise, Dade would have still been there kicking at it.::

T'Lea: ::sarcastically:: That was a delight.

:: She picked up her backpack and immediately flinched as lightning streaked across the sky, followed by a loud clap of thunder overhead. Then the rain came. All at once. A torrential down pour. Large, pelting, plentiful drops drenching the two in a matter of seconds.::

:: Tilting her face up to the canopy of trees, T'Lea welcomed the cool water as it splashed down, washing the grime and sweat from her face, neck and hair.::

T'Lea: ::still looking up:: We need to find shelter for the night.

:: Dade didn't respond. He'd been quiet ever since they'd left the last cave room with all those haunting inscriptions. But then he didn't have to say anything. She knew. Oddly enough, she'd felt it too.::

:: More thunder rumbled overhead. The wind was getting rough now. Time to move.::

:: Wiping the rain from her eyes, T'Lea finally glanced over at Dade, but what she found made her drop her backpack in a defensive reflex. Six hooded men, all as tall as Dade, all as strong, if not stronger. T'Lea couldn't see their faces, but she had a hunch they were Romulan, and three of them had Dade restrained and on his knees with a cloth gag in his mouth. The other three were starting to circle T'Lea.::

Adarnis: Mppphmnph!

::He was shouting something that sounded a lot like `run' but longer and more elaborate. His arms were up behind his back, held in place by the thugs and to the point of exceedingly painful restraint.::

:: Lightning. Thunder. T'Lea's hand swept down for the honor blade strapped to her ankle, she struck one man down by the knee, but before she could stand up right a surprise attack came from behind. She heard Dade's muffled warning, but it was too late. Now four men, one bleeding from the knee, disarmed her and had her face down in the mud, with someone's elbow pressed hard against the back of her neck.::

Hooded Man: Hold her.

:: After the other three masked men cinched their grip on T'Lea, the Hooded Man got up and walked over to Adarnis, ripping the gag from his mouth and tossing it back toward the other captured trespasser. The men holding T'Lea shoved the cloth in her mouth, which didn't stop her from continuing to swear a blue streak at them.::

::Dade wriggled trying to loosen the grip the men had on his arms. One, he figured out, had a weak wrist and couldn't move properly let alone hold him without an immediate struggle. He'd had enough of warnings now.::

::The Hooded Man motioned for his thugs to make him stand. They did, and he pulled out a silver rod with a flashing light on the tip. Slowly he began to methodically trace Dade's body - head, neck, shoulders, torso, arms, legs - closely watching the blinking blue bulb, and when he was done he nodded, satisfied.::

::Dade's reaction was to move his body away from whatever the hell that thing was. He'd never seen one before and wasn't intrigued by it in the least; in fact, should he have had use of his arms, he'd be shoving that thing where the Hooded Man's sun didn't shine.::

::The Hooded Man turned and picked up the Tal Shiar honor blade the female had attacked them with. He glanced back at Dade, curious, was this his wife? And then he redirected his attention back to the female, motioning for his thugs to lift her.::

::Hooded Man stood right in front of her, lifting her chin with the tip of the blade, studying the fire behind her eyes, as if deciding something.::

Adarnis: Touch her and I'll rip your soddin' teeth from your head, Romulan.

:: The Hooded Man shoved the blade under his belt, right next to another knife and performed the same examination on T'Lea as he'd done with Dade. Head. Neck. Chest. Shoulders. Arms. And he suddenly stopped at the female's hand. The light was no longer flashing.::

:: The Hooded Man looked back at Dade, now extremely disappointed in him.::

Hooded Man: Put her on the rock!

:: The three men restraining T'Lea yanked her body around, dragging her through the mud and over to a flat-top rock.::

::Dade struggled harder against the men holding him, shouting over the thunder. The rain was making it harder to see, the whole scene looked blue and ethereal and somehow amazingly familiar to him, almost like a period of déjà vu.::

Adarnis: Don't! She's got nothing to do with this!

Hooded Man: It must be done.

Adarnis: Don't you bleedin' dare, Romulan!

:: The three masked men slammed T'Lea face down on the rock, one twisting her left arm behind her and smashing her head to the stone, the other wrestled with her legs, and the third, stretched out her right hand, her palm flat on the surface. T'Lea was cursing up a storm under gag, but it didn't take a genius to figure out what she was trying to say.::

:: The Hooded Man caught a glimpse of T'Lea's eyes as she struggled. If looks could kill, he would have died a slow, messy death. He was impressed with her spirit. Too bad this had to be done.::

:: He took out the other knife, which was much more practical looking than the honor blade, and walked around the large stone altar to the other side. There he stood for a moment, and then he raised his weapon and swung it down striking clean through flesh.::

::Dade looked away as he heard the blade slicing through naked flesh and the clink of it hitting the rock on the other side. His stomach plunged through the rest of his body and hit rock bottom. He clenched his teeth together and forced his wrist up, grabbing the other two, If they wouldn't let him go, he'd bleedin' make them.::

:: At first T'Lea had successfully suppressed a scream as the blade pierced through the palm of her right hand and stuck stone underneath, but as the blade twisted a little and was yanked out, she couldn't hold back. Though muffled, the howl of agony was as crisp and as sharp as the blade itself. But it didn't stop there. In plunged the blue tip of the silver rod, the heat from the light surging through her hand like a thousand burning needles. And just when she thought she couldn't take any more, it stopped and the blue light was retracted – with it, a million little nano-devices that weren't visible to the naked eye.::

::The Marine grabbed the two who held him and lifted his back up, throwing them over his shoulders and landing on the floor in the mud then making a dash for the Romulan male, he'd make him pay for that. He'd make him soddin' pay with his flesh and blood.::

:: The Hooded Man began to wipe his knife clean, but looked up to see Dade charging towards him. Some how he'd broken free. The other three men released T'Lea and she instantly clutched her fist to her chest, pulled the gag out of her mouth, and then dropped to the ground with the rain still pouring down, lightning still flashing overhead, and thunder still rumbling through everyone's bones.::

Hooded Man: Stop! STOP!

:: He removed the hood to reveal a Romulan underneath, but a FEMALE Romulan, and as Dade slowed, so did the six men converging on him. T'Lea however, shot to her feet, swung around and even with her injured hand grabbed the woman responsible and struck her so hard that she lifted off the ground and landed flat on her back with a splat in the mud. T'Lea was just about to finish her, when Dade grabbed her in a bear hug.::

T'Lea: The frell are you doing? She almost killed me!

::He held onto her tightly to stop her from causing any more damage.:: Adarnis: She didn't, she didn't want to… she took something from your hand…

Romulan Woman: It was a tracking device. ::getting up, rubbing her jaw.:: A Tal Shiar tracking device. Bio-Nano-technology, undetectable by standard means, and now disabled. They've been monitoring you. For how long, who knows. But no more.

:: T'Lea clenched her bleeding palm, wondering where she'd picked up a tracking device, and more importantly who had stuck it in her. Could have been anyone, anywhere, at any time. Maybe at the Battle Bar, or the Trader's Shop. Little did she know that back on Starbase 118 Tomal's coordinates receiver just went dead.::

::Dade unfolded T'Lea's hand. The wound was deep, the blood green seeping down her skin and onto her shirt. Her shirt had seen a lot in the past few days.::

T'Lea: That's what this was all about? Just who the hell are you anyway?

:: The Romulan Woman looked at Dade, curious if he remembered her. Then T'Lea looked at Dade, expecting an answer as well.::

T'Lea: ::sharply:: Do I need to kill these guys or what?

::He looked up at T'Lea, into a pair of eyes that he hoped understood him.:: Adarnis: Akhiy'nai, the Black Hand. ::he thumbed over his shoulder to the Romulan woman and lowered his voice:: She found me, I think, that's how she found us, or why she's here.

:: Her eyes slid past Dade's and locked on to the woman's. Blunt and cold came her next words.:: T'Lea: So you found him again. What do you want with him?

Romulan Woman: We should not be discussing this here, we need to move on and quickly before the Tal Shiar get word we're here. Are you coming?

:: Clutching her injured hand, T'Lea silently checked with Dade. He seemed committed to going with them. She lightly wagged her head at herself. What was she doing? Why was she bleeding, again, for this man? Why was she even here? And more importantly why was she about to blindly follow this man into what felt like the lion's den.::

T'Lea: As if we have a choice. Lead the way.

::Dade lifted up both of their packs onto his shoulder; wondering if it really was where he knew the woman from. Her image, the same as the one he'd seen in his vision. The flashback of the dark hair, shoulder-length and the face, he'd thought she was an Angel at first. That he'd died and was taken through to the afterlife.::

::They moved away from the caves and deeper into the mountains. The Black Hand were reputedly the terrorist organisation against the Tal Shiar; the other half of the fence in a way. Dade didn't know why he knew them, he just did, the same reason why he didn't know a lot of things; how to pick his tattoo for instance. He wasn't on Romulus, he'd picked the image at random and what the hell was the Adarnis project?::

((The Black Hand))

::Deeper into the mountain side, there were innumerable caves that ran through the rock faces and deeper into the rock itself, forging huge homes for members of the selected organisation. Quiet and sometimes unknown, the Black Hand were the rebellion of Romulus just waiting to happen. For years, they'd kept secret members in the Tal Shiar and Tal'Diann, developed the technology to combat the ever increasing Romulan technology and helped people instead of turning them away.::

::T'Lea was taken through to their Medical Centre to have repairs done to her hand while Dade had been shown around, to see if he did remember anything at all. The woman had introduced herself as Ecurai; a name she'd took when she joined the organisation many years ago. In human, it meant `hope' but as she explained in Romulan it was very rarely used.::

Ecurai: But there is nothing more I can tell you. By all means, stay in contact, new information may come up but I have never heard of an Alex Adarnis.

Adarnis: What about the Adarnis project, the `Daedalus Architect' Inscription?

::She shook her head and crossed her legs underneath the robe.:: Ecurai: Nothing, I am sorry.

::The door opened and T'Lea walked inside, carrying her hand. The wound looked to have gone but from where Dade was sitting her couldn't see properly. His attention went back to Ecurai, who was now standing and looking to T'Lea with a more than apologetic face.::

::Dade realised that Ecurai looked old, her eyes had grown crows feet and wrinkled at the edges. Her hair had grey streaks running through it and she moved slowly, probably the reason for the goons that folowed her all round. Two were stationed outside the door, he knew that much.::

Ecurai: I apologise, Commander. It needed to be done.

T'Lea: Bite me.

:: The Romu-Vulc refused to even look at the woman, or accept the apology – what she really wanted to do was throttle her until her eyes popped out. But instead, T'Lea just walked past, toward her bag where she saw that the honor blade had been returned. As Ecurai made her quiet exit, T'Lea inspected the blade, and then set it back down, thinking with her back to Dade. Thinking about everything. Thinking about Dade, the bio-nano tag, the caves, his tattoo, everything he'd told her, everything they'd shared. Just everything. Until Dade gently lifted her hand for a better look, and all that melted away.::

::The woman left, leaving Dade and T'Lea in the room on their own. Dade stood up and looked at her hand.: Adarnis: How is it?

T'Lea: Aching to hit something.

::He turned her wrist over and ran his fingertips across her palm where the wound had been only a few short hours earlier. A scar ran through the centre but that would heal within a few days and she'd be left with only the memories of the day.::

:: As he traced the scar on her palm, she turned her head from him, shut her eyes tight and gritted her teeth. Sometimes the softest touch brought about the biggest sensation – almost painful. There it was again. The sucking chest wound. He shouldn't be able to do this to her. Nobody should. She'd worked too damn hard to get close to anyone now. And yet with one simple touch, the Deltan half-breed could leave her a mess inside. She loathed him for that.::

Adarnis: Who was tracking you?

:: Snapping away her hand, she was quick to shun him. She unzipped her bag and pillaged violently for a change of clothes. :: T'Lea: Don't know.

::He left it at that, no need in provoking anything. He ran a hand over his head and closed his eyes, definitely tired and soaked to the bone. The clothes he was stood up in were still dripping from the rainfall before and he'd imagine so were T'Lea's, but he wouldn't have said so for fear of a fork in the eye.::

Adarnis: We'll stay here for the night and move out tomorrow. All a bloody waste of time, I knew it would be. Sent on a wild flaim' goose chase round some pissin' caves just to wind up here. ::he took his shirt off and flung it to the floor defiantly:: Stupid bastards.

T'Lea: Oh, no. No. :: she whipped around and shoved him hard. Hard enough to send him off balance a couple of steps.:: You don't get to say that. ::moving in on him, she jabbed his bare chest with her finger to punctuate the beginning of each statement.:: I didn't just risk my life for this to be a waste of time. I didn't just shed my blood for this to be a waste of time. And you didn't nearly get your head knocked off by falling rocks for this to be a frellin' waste of time!

:: Backing away from her attack, she whisked away with a frustrated growl, and stormed a nearby table where she came to a fuming rest, hands bracing her exhausted frame against the wood top. The memory of her wounded hand throbbed. She thought she'd packed a change of clothes, but she couldn't find them. That's not why she was upset though – it just happened to flash across her mind along with a billion other things at that moment.::

T'Lea: ::soft, almost vulnerable:: What the frell have you done to me?

::Dade frowned, scratching his left shoulder. Worry, concern maybe crept into his brain. Was she pissed at him? More than definitely. Did she want him around? No. He kept his mouth shut, preferring instead to look at the floor. He'd dragged her on this and now he was giving up, as simple as that.::

T'Lea: You stubborn, arrogant, egotistical, smartass, son of a bitch. ::to herself:: I shouldn't care what the frell happens to you. ::turning to meet him face-to-face:: Do you understand? I refuse to care! ::she blew past him, aimless in direction.::

::He bit into his lip but it couldn't hold it back.:: Adarnis: I risked my neck chasing you through some damn caves on Bajor just to help you, I didn't ask you to come with me here but you took it upon your majestic self! If you hate me so damn much, then why the hell did you come?!

:: And that was the one question she had been fighting since she'd stepped foot on the transport. It was the one question she couldn't bring herself to answer. Her only response was a poor generic one.::

T'Lea: Frell you!

:: And with that, her recovering fist connected with the wall, leaving a substantial dent. She knew she sounded crazy and was acting even crazier, but these new emotions were something that she wasn't prepared to deal with. Not now and not here. That's why her anger was running wild, stomping and smashing any and everything in its path. Including Dade. It felt good to get it out, and after punching the wall it felt even better. Pain. Simple. Primal. Uncomplicated. Physical pain. Shaking the stinging in her hand – for the moment she was thinking clearly.::

T'Lea: Do you know how long I've been looking for my mother? ::she didn't wait for a reply, and she kept her back to him:: Do you know how many lies I'm still sifting through trying to find the single grain of truth that will lead me to her? Do you know how many people have promised me answers, used me, and screwed me over in the end? And do you know why I still keep looking, you big dumb jerk?

::He folded his arms over his chest, protectively but he didn't see the point in doing so. She was hitting an unseen nerve, unseen by anyone including him. She was shoving himself in his face and turning it all around. He wasn't opening his eyes, he wasn't trying to find the answers, he wanted them all shoved into his lap like the photo.::

:: She turned to face him. She was as cold as ice.::

T'Lea: Because I'm a stubborn, arrogant, egotistical, smartass, bitch, and I don't know when to stop. I will destroy everything in my path to get the answers I'm looking for – even you. And when all my efforts fail, I'll start over again.

:: In a way it was a warning to him. Stay away. Don't get close to her. Trust no one. But in the same breath, it was advice for his own situation – whether or not she intentionally meant it for that purpose was something only Dade could interpret.::

::Advice, perhaps. Dade took a breath through his nose. Christ, he couldn't breathe in this room. She was right; this time anyway, he'd admit it. She'd hit a nerve buried under years of neglect and abuse, the one that tapped his soul. Stay away from her; she didn't need him, he didn't need her and she'd find a way to dispose of him in one way or another. They just weren't right, what had happened in the caves should stay there.::

:: Shaking her head at him, disappointment etched on her muddy face, she walked past and found the shower room. It wasn't much of a room, just a thin white curtain dividing the two areas, and a white tile floor with drainage in the middle. She flicked the light on and ran the water hot enough to pound deep into her sore muscles. Discarding her filthy clothes she spotted the clean white Romulan robes that were left for them hanging off to the side of the room on two large metal hooks. For a moment the sight of the garments relaxed her. It was one less thing to think about.::

:: As she stepped into the shower, the water poured over her skin. Caked on dirt and mud ran down the drain in swirls of varying brown. With it seemed to wash the anger, resentment, frustration and confusion T'Lea had been covered in. As she tilted her head back to rinse her raven colored hair, she caught a glimpse of Dade's blurred image pass by. He was no doubt on his way out of there after her little tirade. It was what she wanted. Wasn't it.::

:: Was it?::

::Dade took out the packet of cigarettes and lit one up as he packed up his pack and hers. She was going back to the Starbase and he was going back to the Challenger. Simple. He'd find out what was going on whether it killed him in the process, but he wanted her to have no more part in it. Or he knew she didn't want anything more to do with him. That was the way it was meant to be; two Alphas, like chalk and cheese.::

:: A deep breath of steam, she exhaled and leaned forward, placing her palms flat against the tile wall so that the water pounded against her stressed back. The temperature difference in the cold tile sent chills across her skin, but that too soon left her. It was better this way, she told herself. She'd been honest with Dade. He meant nothing to her, he was just a plaything, and if he stayed she would inevitably be the primary cause of his death. It was better that he leave now, while he still could.::

::He stood outside the curtain and took a drag from the stick. His back hit the wall and he sunk down to his knees, he was so tired of running away from his past that now when he was in a collision with it he couldn't stand it. He was close to finding something but he didn't know what, the unknown was frightening. He'd spent so long running away. From everything.::

T'Lea: ::softly:: I hate you.

Adarnis: I know.

::He pulled back the curtain and shoved her against the tiles on the other side of the shower, feeling the gush of the water on the top of him almost as quickly as his mouth collided with hers for the billionth time. Water running down his back was nothing compared to the torrential rainfall they'd been in only a few hours before. Captivated, vindicated, justifiable insanity described him at that very moment but he couldn't react more simply.::

::He meant nothing to her, something she could throw away at the end of an evening and carry on the next day as if nothing had happened between them. He knew all this but he still couldn't deny the urge to feel her again, to retrace the lines and curves of her skin that his memory still held perfectly transcribed into brainwaves in his mind.::

((Next Day - Transport))

::Dade loaded the packs of theirs into the small shuttle transport cargo hold, all the while with the cigarette dangling out of his mouth. He threw it to the floor and rubbed it into the grass with the heel of his boot. Ecurai hadn't been all that helpful. She had told him all she could; they'd found him outside the caves and that was it. They had had no other connection or ever run into Alex Adarnis. They'd never participated in any project, let alone translated the Deltan in the caves.::

::The Marine leant against the shuttle and folded his arms over his chest. "And when all my efforts fail, I'll start over again." Her words echoed around in his head, bouncing from each braincell. Ecurai might have known nothing about it but somewhere someone did and he wasn't going to stop until he knew who and why. The `Adarnis' project, the `Daedalus Architect', was his name Daedalus Adarnis? Is that where Dade had come from? Was he who he thought he was?::

:: T'Lea exited the complex and approached the transport wearing her newly laundered clothes. There was still a rip in the back fabric and her hand still showed of the scar she'd earned, but other than those small souvenirs, she looked healthy, maybe even refreshed. A good night's sleep could do that for a girl. So could a long shower.::

::He slipped his hands into his pockets of the green combats and smiled, perhaps as a contrast to the shore leave they'd embarked upon. It was probably the first time he'd smiled a sincere smile to T'Lea before but he doubted she'd be up for his jovial mood in the morning.::

Adarnis: Still hate me?

:: She stopped beside him, and although she didn't return the smile, her eyes did a good job of betraying her.:: T'Lea: Always. :: looking ahead:: Who's this guy? Maybe they want my other hand now.

::A robed individual, carrying something small in his palm walked over to the transport. Short cropped hair as the Romulan's had but there was something else about him that Dade couldn't quite put his finger on.::

Male: Your symbol, Mr. Adarnis. Ecurai would not have you leave without it.

::The male handed over the dog tags with the impressed symbol on them. Dade turned them over in his hand before pocketing them in his combats. Whatever they were, he was going to find it out. Questions needed to be answered.::

Adarnis: Tell her thank you.

::The male bowed at the waist and walked back inside the complex.::

:: T'Lea took the first step up to the transport, and then stopped. Eyelevel with the Dade, she looked at him -- a softness behind her eyes that not many got the chance to see, her hand resting on the side of the shuttle, near his head, wanting, but fearful to touch him. Enough had been said over the past few days. All that was left now was for them to go their separate ways.::

:: She turned and took the few remaining steps into the shuttle. A few hours and she'd be back on base. She silently wished Dade the best of luck, but hoped she wouldn't see him again. For both their sakes.::