SIM:T'Lea - Broken Part 4
JP Lt. Cmdr. T’Lea & 1st Lt. Dade Adarnis – Broken, Part 4
((Later – A Safe Place?))
The small Grelod man had taken them out of the wine cellar and out of the mansion. Dade hadn’t taken the time to look at what prison they were being held in the first time round, but he got a quick look the second. His memory engraved the images into his mind, for future reference just in case.
Taking them out of the building and far out into the country surrounding them, the Grelod had repeatedly asked Dade to listen to him, to take notice of what he was saying although half the time Dade hadn’t been able to hear him muttering to himself as he walked in front, making sure the coast was clear as they escaped through the maze of corridors and tunnels running underneath the grand mansion. Once the Grelod was satisfied that they were away from his master’s residence and hadn’t been followed, he led them to a safe place guarded and surrounded by trees. A small wooden lodge in the middle of the forest. Reweq led the way inside and sat down immediately, cutting his arm open with a small flick knife he produced from his person.
Dade set T’Lea down on the small makeshift bed and stood up slowly. He wasn’t armed.
Adarnis: What are you doing?
Reweq paid him no attention and started to drip his blood into the vial once more.
Reweq: Saving her life although I am not sure why I should be.
The Marine pulled up a small wooden stool.
Adarnis: ::frowns:: The hell do you mean? We had no reason to be in there in the first place…
Reweq: ::snort:: She deserves everything she gets given in this life, and the afterlife.
Dade refrained from smacking the small bloke and instead rifled through his pockets for his cigarettes. Nothing. They’d took them. He kicked the wooden floorboards in defiance, even though there was nothing he could do about it. The Grelod noticed his aggravation and slid the backpack across the floor towards his feet.
Reweq: Check inside, my financer told me to bring them.
Dade found the cigarettes inside and sparked one up, blowing out a perfect smoke ring into the air around him. He felt better; no, he felt good.
Reweq: You’re welcome, by the way. ::he squeezed another drop out:: You could have died trying to protect her. Taking another drag, Dade scuffed the sole of his boot along one of the floorboards again.
Adarnis: What of it?
The Grelod looked at him; a piercing look.
Reweq: Her last mate died, in most the same way.
Adarnis: Bored to death by a Grelod?
Reweq: Beaten to death. ::the man took the vial and handed it over to Dade:: She watched; he died to give her power. She will do the same for you.
Dade looked away as he flicked the cigarette butt onto the floor. A harsh reality; was that why she’d repeatedly told him to stay away? He looked over at her sleeping form and defied every urge he had of going to her. He looked back at the Grelod.
Adarnis: This will heal her?
Reweq: Most definitely. Grelod’s are a frail, weak species – we’re not ashamed of it. What we lack in physichal strength we make up for in other ways. ::pause:: We heal very quick. It’s in the blood.
He nodded. Dade stood up and carefully maneuvered himself to sitting next to the sleeping hybrid. He ran a fingertip along her arm, from her wrist to her elbow. He thought about that decision he’d made; he wouldn’t have left without her and he still wouldn’t. He would gladly give his life to save hers; he would do it blindly and without hesitation. What did that make him? Dependent? Enthralled? Obsessed?
The sticky, filmy layer of sleep slowly began to peel away, replaced by the unfriendly sensation of a sunburn across every square inch of her skin. Though the remains of the fire baton had significantly lessened at the turn of the day, anything touching her was still a punishment to be reckoned with. But something was different, she immediately sensed with eyes closed. Her hand grabbed at the dirt floor, only it wasn’t sand or loose pebbles – it was a cool fabric under her palm, and a soft mattress she was lying on. Her next question was what had happened? Had she died? No, definitely not. Too much pain still. Unless this was hell, which in her case was most likely.
His hand gingerly cupped underneath her neck and touched her bottom lip with the liquid.
She instantly recognized the touch, and although he had several types she was familiar with, this one was careful, gentle, and purposeful. Trusting, she accepted the liquid and began to open her eyes. A few sips, that was all she had but she could already start to feel it working in her body. Cracked ribs mending, bruises dissolving, singed nerves calming down. Focusing outwardly, her vision sharpened and she first saw Dade, he looked healthy, strong, unmarked by the past few days. And then she saw another face, one she recalled pummeling years ago, Reweq. Movement behind him made Dade look towards the doorway. Reweq was moving slowly out of the door. Dade wanted to jump up and keep him inside; he still wasn’t sure whether or not this Grelod had been the one who’d kept them in the cell.
Adarnis: Where are you going?
Reweq: I have done what I have been paid for. Your benefactor is generous; I have outfitted the cabin with everything you will need until you are ready to continue away from here. Do not return to the mansion; I cannot save you twice.
With that he was gone. Dade looked back to T’Lea, and she looked away, shoving the vial of warm purple liquid out of her way as she sat up. She touched her ribcage, it no longer hurt to breathe, her skin no longer felt like it was on fire.
Adarnis: Feeling better?
T’Lea: Tastes like dren.
Adarnis: Suit yourself. ::he put the vial into her palm:: Drink it.
She didn’t refuse the half empty vial as it was placed in her hands, but she didn’t immediately drink it either. Instead, she just sort of sat there with a dark cloud hanging over her head, thinking, and unable to look at the man sitting next to her. She was nowhere near being her old fiery self. She was more like a shell, an empty husk still sitting in that dank, dark cellar awaiting death.
T’Lea: Where are we?
Adarnis: On the fringes of the Outland; more than likely several miles from where we were before to be on the safe side.
Lifting herself off the mattress, she glanced around the room and sipped at the liquid. Her eyes took in the rustic surroundings -- log walls, mortar, wood floors that creaked with every step, a small table and chairs, a full length mirror with cobwebs attaching it to the wall, a sorry excuse for a kitchen, and some other room with a closed door – probably the bathroom, and finally her eyes made it back to the bed.
She set the vial down on the table, about a third of the drink remained. Walking over to the mirror she ripped off her shirt and cleaned away the layer of dust just enough to get a clear view of her back. The bruises near her spine looked less severe; she was feeling a lot better, which is why she stopped drinking the liquid. She didn’t want to feel better.
Further up her shoulder she pulled down her bra strap a little, allowing her eyes to reacquaint themselves with her tattoo. She stared at it for a long time, her jaw muscles clenching when a well of emotions began to bubble to the surface. She quickly beat them back down.
T’Lea: I’ll get you back to Federation space safely. I don’t know how, yet, but I promise I’ll find a way.
He turned sharply, his hands in his pockets but the look in his eyes defiant.
Adarnis: You’re coming with me.
T’Lea: I’m staying here.
The answers were short, energetic. No speeches for that.
Pulling up her strap and turning away from the mirror, she still lacked the passionate fire in her eyes, but there was a shaky, unstable, and uncertain determination that now resided. She would get Dade to safety, but she hadn’t decided if she’d turn herself back into Pelco, or finish what she’d started twelve years ago. Either way she wasn’t going back to Starfleet.
Adarnis: I’m not leaving you.
His voice said what hers wanted him to, what they both didn’t want to face. On the one hand they had freedom; they could go and never return, go their separate ways and never see one another again. But that would be too easy. Although, Reweq had set the ball rolling in Dade’s mind. T’Lea had come close to killing him more than once. Was it purposeful? Was she really this good an actress?
She shook her head at his answer, and turned to walk over to the kitchen sink to clean up, but the Marine had barricaded himself in front of her. Her eyes looked everywhere except Dade. She knew she couldn’t win the battle of emotions that were relentlessly assaulting her psyche, and if she looked at that man she would surely crack. It was torture all over again.
T’Lea: ::pushing past him.:: Get out of my way.
His eyes flickered up to the ceiling and he took a beat to think about it before he was after her again, this time to stop her leaving. He didn’t know why it was so important, why he wanted her to stay with him. A torrent of emotion had been rushing through him, reeling through him since that first day, that first meeting, and it’d exploded since then. Her hands collided with his chest.
T’Lea: Why won’t you frellin’ leave me alone!
Adarnis: Because you need me just as much as I need you!
Her gaze landed heavily on the ground. He knew exactly where to strike the lethal blow, but she resisted and softly wagged her head.
T’Lea: No. You can’t say that. ::snapping:: You’ll die like the rest. Don’t you get it!
Adarnis: I’ll take that chance.
T’Lea: What is wrong with you?!
Was he provoking her to anger on purpose? Toe-to-toe she faced him for the first time in days, tears evident, but not yet cut-loose.
T’Lea: I’m the Butcheress of N’Dallis Prime! That tattoo on my back – it isn’t artwork; it’s a kill count, a gang insignia. I murdered my bond-mate and countless others! Do you understand what that means? I’m half Vulcan. I bonded with him, and when I watched him die – when I felt him die ::she touched her chest:: I enjoyed it! Do you really want to be with someone like that!
She suddenly realized that tears were rolling freely down her cheeks, and that she was looking directly at Dade. Turning back toward the sink she quickly rinsed away the evidence and hung there, wishing her own death to save her from this mental anguish. It didn't occur to her that she was finally starting to feel. Finally starting to heal. Finally starting to change, and the man who had done this for her, she was still vehemently trying to push away -- to save him from herself.
Her tears… he’d seen her crying. Was she? Was she crying? Dade lifted his hand to touch her shoulder, to turn her around and take her up in his arms, hold her close and tell her it was all going to be all right, he didn’t know how but it was. It’d be fine. They could leave, they could go where no one knew them, or wherever she wanted and they’d be fine, they’d be good, they’d be together at least.
But he couldn’t. Some part of him just couldn’t. His hand recoiled away without that touch that he needed, that he wanted. He was denying himself of it. It found his pocket again and he found himself walking backwards toward the door of the cabin, towards the unexplored and backing away from the unknown. His hand found the latch and then he was free, stepping outside.
The door clasped shut behind him. The sound was small and harmless, but condemning for T’Lea. She tensed, angry with herself, and at that moment the world seemed to hush – only the silent scream of grief amplifying in her head.
Her back suddenly hit the wall and she slowly slid down, tucking her head into her knees, and curling her arms around her head to hide the pain. Rage flushed from her body and was replaced with the purest, most condemning form of remorse, regret, guilt, shame, and self-loathing she’d ever felt. The weight of over a hundred deaths, a thousand betrayals, a hundred-thousand lives ruined because of her, came crashing down on her shoulders all at once.
All the faces she’d maimed and murdered. All those that had followed her and died. All the ones that had opposed her and were slain like animals. She suddenly saw them all. All the ghostly and ghastly figures pleading, and begging for mercy flooded her mind at once. She’d showed them no pity in their final hours, and they showed her the same, convicting her of her sins right where she sat.
Dade lit up another cigarette as he walked along the well worn pathway into the trees. That’s what he didn’t see; the forest for the trees. He was blind to what had been in front of him all along. She had massacred people; to the point where she had condemned herself for doing so and had accepted whatever fate was going to be dealt to her in that dungeon.
The Marine scratched the back of his neck. He couldn’t feel the tattoo but he felt it there. Hers an insignia; a mark of Cain the killer. His was a mark of Abel, the slain. She had helped him; they’d become so close, they’d fought side by side, nearly died side by side and lay together in the piercing afterglow of ritual between two beings undermined by none.
He hadn’t felt the feeling of complete immersion in so long. He couldn’t look at T’Lea and see a completely different person. A droplet fell on his nose and he looked up; it was starting to rain. She wasn’t the same, she had changed and were these feelings changing with her? Was he becoming more relaxed, more confident and learning more about himself because of her? He wanted to be near her, he wanted… no, needed… to feel her close to him, feel the rush of being alive with someone who felt the same.
He felt his pocket for his lighter and instead found a hole in his pants. He poked his finger through it and touched his skin. It tingled for a second then dissipated. He was alive and she was alive; they’d just survived torture beyond torture and they were still standing, still arguing, still baiting one another time after time. But he had seen her cry, seen the tears drop from her eyes…
Inside the cabin and seated at the lopsided table, T’Lea dipped her head into her hand and wiped away a stray tear. Her face was placid with fatigue. She couldn’t remember if she had ever once in her life cried before. Definitely not when she was a practicing Vulcan, and definitely not as the Butcheress. Which left only one question, what was she now? Massaging her forehead she tried to force herself into a meditation. She was sure her Vulcan half had answers, just like before in the cellar she would offer a pearl of wisdom and everything would be fine, but T’Lea couldn’t seem to break into that mental sanctuary at the moment. Either her Vulcan counter-part wanted her to suffer through the emotions, or she was far too emotional to escape this disturbing reality.
She had to look elsewhere. Getting up, she paced the wood plank floor, each step creaking under foot as she walked aimlessly from the kitchen to the rear window, and then back again. Once more she found herself alone on this godforsaken hell hole of a planet, trying to figure a way out of the life she’d made. She glanced at her hands in disgust. How much blood had she spilt? The Orion being the most recent. How much more would she continue to spill? And why all of the sudden did it bother her so much? She stopped and looked at the entrance as it made an unexpected noise.
Dade flicked the butt of the cigarette and walked inside the cabin. He let the door close behind him. Her eyes pierced through him and he was immediately terrified; not of her pulling out a phaser, jabbing a knife in his neck… just terrified of what he was feeling for this woman, for this hybrid. He leant back against the wooden door and looked at her in the silence.
Adarnis: You had the chance to kill me. You had the chance to let me die in the dungeon. Why didn’t you?
She instantly recalled what her Vulcan half had said, but refused it. Her voice grew tired and dull.
T’Lea: What was I supposed to do, nothing?
Adarnis: You could’ve; another minute, maybe two of that and I would’ve been a corpse. You didn’t know Reweq was coming.
She started to say something, and then stopped, sagging her weight on the table in exhaustion.
T’Lea: What do you want from me? What do you want me to say?
He looked to the floor.
Adarnis: I can’t do this, T’Lea. I can’t feel something so strong for you and… ::he shook his head:: I don’t care who you were. Life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all.
She looked at the same knot of wood in the floor he had been searching. She needed him as much as he needed her, and life wasn’t fair – otherwise she would have been dead long ago. His statements cut like a dull knife, tearing at her bone.
Her brown eyes moved up to his face, and she stood there before him exposed, raw, vulnerable and completely fatigued. A total wreck of emotion. He knew what kind of monster she was, and yet there he was. Undeniably there.
T’Lea: I’m not a good person, Dade. I don’t think I’ll ever be one. The things I’ve done. The people I’ve murdered – I don’t want you to be one of those memories. ::closer, she stopped in front of him and sighed.:: You may not care about my past, but I do. And on top of everything else… ::her fingertip fleetingly touched his hand.:: You scare the hell out of me.
A small smile etched on his own lip; small, so small but there all the same.
Adarnis: You scare me too.
((Next Day – Cabin))
The early morning fog stubbornly sat on the ground putting the entire forest, and the log cabin under siege. Inside, the soft sleek female curves, reminiscent of a toned black panther and just as deadly, lay naked under a tangle of cool white cotton sheets.
Mentally and physically spent from her trials yesterday, the only reserved energy T’Lea had left was just enough to shower and then crawl into bed. Now, in a waking state her hand reached over in disappointment to find an empty place where Dade had slept. Nothing had happened between them last night, it had just been a comfort to feel him there, to know that for once in her life she wasn’t so very alone.
He’d woken up early and spent half of it stroking her hair, running his fingers through it as she lay, head on his chest. He could feel her breathing and it felt good to feel her sleep, hear her sleep without the added bonus of the screams of pain. Gently, he’d moved from underneath her and wandered into the bathroom.
T’Lea rolled onto her back with a cat-like stretch and she tucked her arms under a pillow; the cool fabric scattering chills across her skin. But as she lay there, she couldn’t help but feel guilty for enjoying the simple comfort of a bed when those she’d killed rotted deep in the hard, damp ground. It was something she’d have to live with the rest of her life. Something she’d have to work though and forgive with time.
As Dade made a sparsely clad exit from his shower several minutes later, T’Lea sat up and watched him cross the room to get dressed. She couldn’t help but stare. Honestly, he looked like a Greek god, and she unabashedly enjoyed his chiseled physique from across the room, admiring the handy work. He was perfect. Almost too perfect. While he buttoned up his pants, her eyes traced the sharp lines of the tattoo on his back, and she found herself worried by its meaning, or lack thereof to be more accurate. She knew that nothing would ever be simple between them. They just weren’t that kind of couple. She flinched. Were they a couple? The word sounded so foreign to her. The concept even more bizarre.
The Marine pulled his shirt from the bag and let it hang off his shoulders as he tucked his arms through. He looked back over his shoulder; she was watching him, watching his every movement. Was there a reason for it? He lit up a cigarette and let it hang from his mouth as he flicked dirt off his boots, cleaning them up with water and a cloth. Part of him; the Marine in him couldn’t believe he’d got them so dirty, whereas the other half wanted to curl back up in bed with T’Lea, feel her slender arms around him, tugging him into deeper shades of darkness.
After a few more minutes of ogling, T’Lea eventually got out of bed and pulled a fresh set of white and tan garments from the bag Reweq had left for them. White. Not her color, but definitely her size as she held them up for a look. Casting a glance behind her she caught Dade’s eyes with her own, but said nothing. Last night in bed she’d explain a few things to Dade about her past, how she got the moniker The Butcheress Of N’Dallis Prime -- how her lust to secure the drug shipments at the Durry Docks had lead to a turf war in the dead of winter. It had left the city nothing less than a meat locker full of corpses, frozen in the streets until the summer thaw. She was no longer proud to speak of such things, but she needed him to know.
Dade took a drag of the cigarette and after pulling his boots on, he leant against the table, watching her as she’d watched him; the way she moved, the way her body reacted to the stiff morning air, that look that had stayed on her face all night long. A small part of her was at peace; that much he could tell.
Adarnis: Which one was the latest?
She slipped into a pair of khaki slacks and after a short search she found her shoes. Dragging them back to the bed, she sat. There was more that Dade needed to know – a lot more than she could ever express, but for now the easy stuff had to be said. He had a right to this information, since it was the reason they were here.
T’Lea: A while back I was hired by Black Ops. to retrieve an Iconian relic. In return they promised information about my mother. I did the job, but they didn’t keep their end of the deal. I gave them a fake replica of the artifact and kept the real thing. I was going to blackmail them later when I figured out more about the piece.
Getting up she set the bag on the table and straightened out a white tank top t-shirt.
He flicked the butt of the cigarette out of the small window and started to button up the khaki shirt.
Adarnis: That sounds familiar.
T’Lea: Remember our trip into the Bajoran mountains? I got a message from Professor Kad – the one who orchestrated the kidnapping. He said he’d found a symbol in the caves that was identical to one on the Iconian Artifact. ::pause:: Well, he was right. It was in the wall paintings.
Adarnis: You know anything else about it? Where it comes from, who put it there in the first place?
T’Lea: It’s Iconian. It’s powerful. That’s all I know. ::she let the thought hang in the air.:: I guess the only way Professor Kad could get the artifact from me was to tip off the Bounty Hunters. They get paid; he gets rid of me, and he gets the artifact. But… ::she tugged on her shirt.::
Adarnis: But what? Something just doesn’t add up?
T’Lea: I can’t figure out how Kad knew about the warrant. This is an isolated system. Anything that happens here stays here, unless someone from my past tipped him off. ::she paused and sat on the edge of the bed to lace up her shoes.:: There’s only two people alive that know my history with this place but neither one would betray me.
Adarnis: Who? I can’t imagine a lot of people could keep their mouths shut when put through torture he gives out.
T’Lea: My Uncle Zadok, and an old friend, Ceedel. One wanted to protect me so much from myself that he had my memories blocked; and the other was in my gang, but he’s bound to me by his religious beliefs for saving his life. He’s not allowed to bring any harm to me. Or some dren like that. Of course… I’m not sure of anything anymore. I think I saw food in that bag.
Dade lifted up the bag and emptied the rest of the contents. A water canister and a bit of fluff.
Adarnis: Lucked out. Nothing.
T’Lea: Great. So the next question is who hired Reweq to cut us loose…
The Marine shrugged and stood up, scuffing his boots on the floor.
Adarnis: Just doesn’t make sense.
T’Lea: ::standing again:: Exactly. Unless Professor Kad couldn’t live with a guilty conscience and decided to pay out an escape route for us.
The thought subdued her. She was still dealing with a guilty conscience of her own.
Dade saw the look on her face and tugged her towards him in a hug, curling his arms around her waist, resting his hands on the small of her back.
She looked up into his deep violet eyes. His affections -- she felt so undeserving. A part of her still needed to be punished for her crimes.
Under the shadowy canopy of the trees, and amidst the heavy veil of the fog a dark specter lingered. He wore a long duster coat and a Stetson hat, and he didn’t take his eyes off the window of the lodge.
Professor Kad dipped his hat down and leered behind a tree. Through his earpiece he listened to the conversation inside. The entire cabin had been bugged in hopes that he would learn something more from T’Lea, but so far the things he’d been eavesdropping on only managed to infuriate him. The man and woman inside were getting closer when they should have been growing apart! Kad ripped the listening device from his ear and smashed it with his bare hand against the rough bark of the tree trunk. Enough, he thought with his temper flaring. It was time to begin the next phase.
Pulling a disruptor from his clothes, Kad marched through the thick layer of fog on the ground, the mist swirled in the coat tails behind him, and as he reached the front entrance, he kicked in the door with a fervent might. The wood splintered from its hinges and gave a startling crack as it caved into the room. Kad’s disruptor instantly found T’Lea’s weakness. Dade.
Kad: Move and I melt his head right off his neck. ::the seething Professor tossed a slaver collar to Dade and then set his aim on T’Lea.:: Put it on, or she dies.
Dade’s vision flickered between T’Lea and Kad, then the collar. He opened it up and with a grunt of frustration tied it around his neck.
When T’Lea made a move for her non-existent honor blade, Kad discharged his weapon in the wall behind her, scorching the wood. The Romu-Vulc, realizing her foolish mistake and remembering that Kad had taken the weapon on Starbase 118, backed down.
Kad: ::to Dade:: Latch it tight! No slack!
The Marine gulped and fitted it around his neck tighter than anything he’d ever fit around there before. His eyes drifted back up to meet T’Lea’s and he trembled inside.
Kad tipped back the Stetson on his head, finally revealing his true identity.
T’Lea: Ambassador Tomal?
Tomal/Kad: I thought you would have figured it out sooner, but I suppose you’ve been preoccupied with your sex toy. I understand. A woman of your caliber needs to release fairly frequently.
The tall Romulan armed the slaver collar around Dade’s neck with a sharp click from a remote button. It confirmed with a happy beep, beep.
Tomal: Now. You will do as I say if you wish him to live.
T’Lea: Wh -- Why are you doing this?
From his coat pocket, Tomal pulled out the Iconian Egg Artifact and smiled, full of pride.
Tomal: Power. Ultimate, unbridled power. You of all people should understand that.
Heart a thunder, T’Lea briefly touched her head before finding the edge of the bed. All this time it had been Ambassador Tomal moving her around like a sad little pawn on the chess board, and playing her like a fool. She shook her head in disbelief, and finally, after days of accepting torture and making peace with death, her jaw muscles clenched and her game face was resurrected. Dade once again stood before her with the lethal slave collar strapped to his neck, but she’d made up her mind, and they were not going to die on this filthy, stinking planet. Tomal was.
Tomal: Starting to sink in now, isn’t it? Let me clear it up for you a bit more. Your dear Uncle Zadok and those archaeological expeditions he dragged you on, all in the name of history and science – big stinking pile of dren. He was looking for this. ::he wiggled the artifact between his fingertips.:: But then so was your mother, the Tal Shiar, the Vulcan High Counsel, your dear daddy, Starfleet Intel, and the rest of the natural born universe!
Dade looked at Tomal. How could this man command so much respect from the quadrant, from the sector… he wasn’t a frightening person… but the collar pulsating with power around his neck made Dade think twice about jumping him to the ground.
Tomal: Your Uncle’s search lead him here over twelve years ago, remember? Only the artifact, as you well know was in another quadrant entirely. He’d deciphered the tablet wrong. The final symbol to unlocking the infinite power in this sweet little relic is right here buried in the desert. Zadok would have found it eventually, had you not distracted him.
T’Lea: That’s why you brought me here, to take you to his old digsite? If you know so much, why don’t you frellin’ go there yourself. It’s been over twelve years I don’t even remember where it is.
Tomal: ::he wagged the detonator in his hand:: You better try. Move. My convoy is waiting.