SIM:Adarnis - Radical Beginnings, Part Three

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JP Lt. Cmdr. T’Lea/2nd Lt. Dade Adarnis - Radical Beginnings, Part 3

((Khev's Shuttle))

::The Romulan kept looking into the back of his shuttle to the woman sat with her feet up on one of the seats. If she was Tal Shiar, what was she with Dade for? Was she there to kill him or even worse; bust him for smuggling the lot out? He kept a watch over his shoulder as much as he could as the shuttle navigated the hills, mountains and plains of Romulus. His friend, however seemed unfazed by the presence of the would-be agent as he walked from the co-pilot's seat into the back.::

:: Cozy in her chair, T'Lea watched the view as it flew by outside of her window. The landscape was beautiful and wild, untouched by the concrete walls and roads of civilization. In some strange way it was soothing, the free reign of nature. Though she didn't care much for camping in it, a small part of her did appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors. She shifted in her seat so that her angle of rest favoured her uninjured side more. Maybe, when this was all over – when she'd found what she was looking for she'd retire somewhere in the green hills of some emerald planet and farm the rest of her life away. She paused that thought when a familiar smell wafted in from behind.::

::Dade sparked up another cigarette (he was smoking a helluva lot recently) and walked through to the back of the shuttle. He looked down at T'Lea who was relaxing somewhat, noticing the blacker then black of her shirt, and after retrieving the medkit from the cargo hold he knocked the catch for the back of her seat sending her flying backwards onto the now flat chair.::

T'Lea: ::startling upright:: What the frell is your problem!

::He pushed down on her shoulder and ran the medkit over her back where the blood was congealing nicely.:: Adarnis: Shut up and calm down. I can't get to it, you'll have to take your shirt off.

T'Lea: :: she gave him the mother of all scowls.:: What do I look like, one of your strip-tease holo-dolls? Shove off.

::He lifted his eyebrow.:: Adarnis: Oh yes, this is just a guise to get you to remove items of clothing. Now lie back, it's pretty deep and I doubt you can reach your own back.

:: She challenged him, staring him down for a moment, and then a slight twitch of her jaw muscle. A sign that she was about to back down her protest. She hated herself for that.::

:: Reaching back she lifted off her shirt, feeling the fabric painfully peel away from the wound. She clutched the shirt to her chest to cover herself, pulled her hair around front, and kept quiet while Dade did whatever the hell it was that he was doing back there. Probably getting an eyeful of her tattoo among other things.::

::As he cleaned round her wound, he ran his fingertips over her skin; for a battle-hard scientist her skin was soft and smooth. The tattoos were almost a credit to her existence; tribal patterns, sharp but delicate like the one covering his shoulder blades.:: Adarnis: So, Tal Shiar then?

::Briefly she closed her eyes. Nobody's touch was supposed to do that to her; make her hold her breath in anticipation, make her hesitate.::

T'Lea: It would make sense, wouldn't it. :: she said as if he knew everything about her already.:: The blade belonged to my mother, or so I was told. ::changing the subject fast:: Gee, Mr. Adarnis, this is the second time you've had your healing hands on me, if I didn't know better, I'd say you cared.

:: A taste of his own medicine, she grinned.::

::After cleaning up the cut a bit, Dade ran the dermaregenerator across her skin, watching it patch itself together again into scar tissue and then form new skin on top.:: Adarnis: I just didn't want a walking disease magnet following me round when we get there. Caves are damp and dirty as it is; I don't need a would-be corpse as well.

:: Touché. She recalled saying something similar to him at the Bajoran caves. Big dumb jerk. She slipped back into her shirt and tested out her shoulder. Hezma, he was good. She hated him even more now.::

::Khev called into the back from the pilot's seat.:: Khev: A few more clicks and we're there. I'm dropping you outside the Hartlhei Caves. You're on your own coming back.

T'Lea: ::to Dade.:: Hope you have an `out' plan, Cowboy.

::The shuttle landed with a few bumps and grinds but sure enough, they were outside the caves. After gathering equipment and leaving the shuttle, Khev said his goodbyes before flying off in his shuttle leaving the two of them standing before the dark opening of the main cave entrance.::

((Hartlhei Caves))

::Looking up at the mouth of the entrance, it seemed so familiar. Dade looked at every part he could and compared it to the holoimage of himself and his father. Same ones. He didn't have a clue what he was looking for but this had been the last known whereabouts of Alex Adarnis. Dade had been found inside, unconscious near to the entrance but without his backpack or his father. The only belongings he had were his ID card and a pocket knife.::

Adarnis: Eerie, ain't it.

T'Lea: What? Oh yeah, that.

:: She was digging around in her bag for a torch, and a pick axe, not paying much attention to Dade as he gazed into his past, and the mammoth entrance of the cave. Fastening some tools to her belt, when T'Lea finally did look up and deeper inside the cavern, she instinctively took a step back.::

:: The large opening looked like the mouth to some kind of grotesque mountain monster, the jagged rocks up front resembling fangs, and the red, wet algae slime covering them, blood. After a second look, she realized that she'd just been imaging things, and ignored her own ridiculous foolishness.::

T'Lea: So, what's the story with the caves, any folklore, ancient cave dwellers, venomous, or dangerous wildlife?

::He shrugged his shoulders.:: Adarnis: Most of the researches that came in here never exactly came out; only a couple that claimed cave drawings of cannibalism and sacrifices were in here somewhere but they came out quivering insane wrecks anyway.

T'Lea: Ritual sacrifice. That's always entertain – INTEResting. From an anthropological stand point, of course. :: she shook her head at herself.:: If it was active there's bound to be some artifacts lying around, unless the locals picked it clean. ::stepping into the mouth of the cave she flicked her light around:: Doesn`t look like there's been much traffic through here. None of the usual beer bottles, drug paraphernalia, or adolescent graffiti around, so that's good news. :: she felt Dade move in behind her. The cave was cold and damp, he was warm.:: Where do we start? Where's the map?

::He lifted an eyebrow.:: Adarnis: You've got it.

T'Lea: Me? You specifically said you had a map.

Adarnis: No, no I didn't. It was on the list of things you took to go buy.

T'Lea: It wasn't on the list. If it was on the list I would have gotten it.

Adarnis: Fine, just give me the damn list.

T'Lea: I threw the list out because I got everything on it.

Adarnis: You what?!

T'Lea: You said you had a map. You were being all stupid and macho about it, as usual.

::Dade threw his hands up into the air and muttered about the uselessness of women in situations such as these. She took the list off him, she made a big song and dance about it and bought the crap they needed, forgetting a map. Women don't forget maps; it was programmed into their genes to constantly refer to them or ask for directions.::

:: She growled at him out of frustration. It echoed down the multiple tunnels, scaring out a huge flock of tiny bat-like creatures. The two ducked and covered as the big cloud of animals flapped their wings overhead, screeching and squealing as they exited the cave. The ones that remained settled back into the rocks, their stinky little bodies huddled close together.::

:: Silence returned, and T'Lea rose to her feet looking back over at Dade. She would whisper from now on.::

T'Lea: Forget it. There's probably a sacrificial chamber nearby. You've been here before, take lead.

:: She hoped he realized how painful that was for her to give up that kind of power.::

::Dade shook his head and took the torch off her, moving on in front. He flashed the torch up above to the ceiling, watching the things moving around up in the roof space. It was eerie and frightening, but thrilling at the same time. He didn't remember anything about this place; the noise of the dripping water, the cold clammy feel, absolutely nothing.::

:: Settling into the `follow along' position behind Dade, T'Lea mumbled something about a map and her ass, and then like a good little girl stuck close. Actually she came to realize that by taking up the rear it gave her a chance to study Dade's physique. She had to admit, she was a sucker for a man with a strong back, and all that laborious Marine training sure left its mark on him. She grinned and managed to pull her eyes away for a minute.::

T'Lea: So who's the guy in the photo with you? Family?

::He shrugged in reply, preferring to work the torch around the walls to find something, a mark maybe left behind. Why did she want to know anyway?::

:: He didn't want to talk about it. Fine. She let it go and climbed over a boulder, soon landing on a ledge next to Dade. Their lights flickered down into a wide canyon until even that disappeared. It was a long, open hole to the other side where the caves continued on. It was an even longer, never-ending fall if they failed. Suddenly she wasn't willing to risk her life for a fun romp in the caves with a stud.::

T'Lea: I guess we go back.

Adarnis: Why? You scared?

::He dropped to his knees and rifled through his rucksack, trying to find that damn rope he knew he'd put in there. It was there somewhere. Finally, he put his hand on it and pulled it out, piece by piece.::

:: She watched. Perplexed.:: T'Lea: You can't be serious.

::Dade looked up.:: Adarnis: Deadly.

::Careful of her footing on the narrow ledge, she knelt down beside Dade and grabbed his hands, stopping him from pulling out the rope and grapple gun.::

T'Lea: I'm trying not to be a cold-hearted bitch, but you're making it kind of hard, so listen up. You're way too focused for this to be an innocent, nostalgic adventure. Now what the frell is going on, and what does it have to do with that bloody photo?

::Her hands on his shouldn't have made an ounce of a difference but it did; somehow he stopped in his tracks, in his search to find those damn carabiners. He swallowed and sat down, his back against the wall of the cave.::

Adarnis: The bloke in the photo is my dad, you were right. I didn't even know what he looked like `til that kept showing up on my bunk with these caves. ::he bit his bottom lip and rummaged in his pockets for his cigarettes:: I was found, just where we were before. Beaten, on Death's fingertip; apparently I was so close to death another half an hour and I was done for. Hypothermia, pneumonia, aphasia not to mention five broken ribs, a fractured collar-bone… And I don't remember any of it.

:: She nodded. She understood. She connected. She was quiet.::

::He stood up, flicking the butt of the cigarette down the chasm and picking up the grappling gun, feeling probably the weakest he'd ever felt.:: Adarnis: So, now you know. If you wanna go then now would be the best time. I can navigate the rest by myself.

:: In one swift motion she took the gun from his hand, aimed, and launched. The rope sputtered and unfurled, the spike soon striking deep into the rock across the gorge. Nothing further needed to be said. She wasn't much for analyzing every little emotional detail, even in her own life, and she wasn't any good at lending sympathy. Actions spoke louder than words in her book.::

((On the other side))

::Once on the other side of the chasm, there was a definite shift in temperature and in atmosphere. The whole place felt ethereal, as if they were intruding on someone's lair, where they weren't supposed to be. Dade lifted the torch up onto his shoulder and flashed it down the length of what they could see. The torch didn't even light up the end; it just carried on into blackness and darkness.::

:: After one shiver too many, T'Lea pulled her pack around and tugged out her full-length leather coat, glad that she brought it.:

T'Lea: ::mumbling:: Hate the cold.

::Dade blinked, something coming towards him, he was only small, he couldn't see it. He opened his eyes again and looked over his shoulder, T'Lea standing behind him. At least they were on the right path. He walked further in, feeling the cold seeping into his flesh and shivering. He could see his breath curling up like smoke in front of his face then he heard something, a beeping sound. The Marine turned around, flashing the torch back the way they'd come only to see a flash of something white.::

T'Lea: What was--.

::He grabbed T'Lea and forced her down to the ground, covering her body with his as the ledge they'd come across collapsed, hurtling small rocks down their passageway.::