SIM:TDakora: Drifting

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(Nowhere - A Long Time Ago))

The orange light of the setting sun cast its rays into the dining room like a sort of luminescent fog. A kind-faced woman with dark hair and darker eyes set two piping hot bowls of Ordoko soup on the ornate table and tried to keep the strain she was under within the confines of her own mind. She called out and they came; Two young boys, each with lighter hair but the same sable eyes, bounded into the room breaking up an impromptu wrestling match lest their food get cold. Growing boys needed to eat. That's what Greatmother always said.

Younger Boy::Excitedly:: ~Ordoko soup! Govanna said there wasn't any left in the whole city because of the Jim-Haters!?~

Older Boy: ~It's Jem'Hadar, Hanny.~ ::He turned to his mother::~We haven't had any in forever! How'd you get some?~

She smiled, hoping that a small bit of normalcy would help make things right for the two boys, even if it was only for a little while.

Woman: ~I had some stashed away. They didn't find it when they confiscated the rest of our food stores.~

The boys smiled between spoonfuls of hearty soup, radiating waves of contentment that their mother needed more than they could possibly know. They all sat in perfect silence, basking in the warmth of the love they all had for each other, just like any other day before the occupation. Before she'd ever watched from her upstairs window as friends and neighbors were hauled away by a sneering Vorta and it's barbaric Jem'Hadar escorts.

It took a moment for her to realize the two boys had stopped eating, their black eyes fixed on her with concern playing plainly across their faces. Raising two budding empaths had its challenges, but she forced the smile to reappear and willed her darker thoughts away. Gradually, the boys tucked back into their favorite meal and for a brief, beautiful moment, all was right in the universe.

When they finished, she took the bowls to the kitchen to recycle them and the boys followed. Replicator cycles were tightly regulated since the invasion and failure to reclaim the tiny scraps of food left on the dishes would draw unwanted attention. She felt the eyes of the older boy on her as she took care of the chores, sensing the twisting emotions within him before he ever asked the question.

Older Boy: ~M'adi, you didn't eat... ~

She turned slowly, wiping her hands on a dishtowel before wrapping him in the type of hug that made all problems go away.

Woman: ~I'm not hungry tonight, Sweet Bear. Don't worry about me.~

He began to protest, but something somewhere began to feel very wrong...

Older Boy: ~You have to eat to be stro...~

Someone pounded on the front door, hard. Then one of the bad people with the bad ears called out.

Vorta: Peacekeepers! Open up and submit to inspection.::The woman's voice sounded like acid on metal.:: You have 30 seconds to comply.

The younger boy rushed to join them, scared tears already welling in his eyes and the mother wrapped them both in a quick but tight hug.

Woman: ~Talos, take Hanek and go to the secret room, just like we discussed.~ ::She kissed each of them on the forehead and gently pushed them away.:: ~Go, now. I'll come get you when it's safe.~

The pounding came again and the sneering Vorta informed them that there were 15 seconds left.

Older Boy: ~M'adi, we can't leave you...~

A single tear rolled down the woman's face as she gave them another quick embrace and pushed them away.

Woman: ~Sweet Bear, Little Wolf, you have to hide now.~ ::She turned to move towards the door.:: ~The fire of my heart burns inside you, always.~

((Somewhere - Demes II - Right Now))

Talos drifted in and out, struggling in vain to anchor himself on one plane of existence or another. Dreams, nightmares really, mixed themselves with reality, and reality bled into his dreams. Distantly, he remembered the Terran and the club coming down on him... but that wasn't quite right... He recalled the way all of his muscles had locked out when he was hit and the sound. That sound. The buzzing crackle just before everything went black.

His shoulders ached from the angle his hands were bound behind his back, but no matter what he tried, he couldn't manage to get his eyes more than halfway open for a few seconds. It was warm here, at least and the snippets of conversation he kept partially overhearing told him that he wasn't alone, for better or for worse. Talos leveraged all of his willpower against the effects of the stun stick and managed to raise his head for a moment, his partially open eyes catching a glimpse of a modest apartment and a window facing the city before he succumbed once again and his head lolled forward. He tried to say something but could only manage a groan.

Footfalls closed in on him and he felt an icy sensation that started at his neck and gradually radiated out to his extremities. His eyes opened and his blurred vision gradually began to focus on someone who shouldn't have been on Demes II at all. Kallas: Don’t freak out.

Talos writhed in his chair, trying to get a feel for the way he was restrained and looking for any way to free himself. He was bound well, but given the opportunity, he might be able to rock back and break the chair itself... if...

He scowled at what looked very much like a Terran standing in front of him brandishing a phaser.

Dakora: So you do know how to talk... Could've tried that before you hit me with the stun-stick. ::He shifted in his chair again.:: Who are you!? What do you want!?

Kallas: My name is Mike Kallas. I’m a–– ::beat:: I was a Starfleet officer. I know you’re not a Demesian. So who are you and why are you on this planet?

Talos' eyes went wide at this revelation, but even as the man spoke he could feel that he was telling what he believed to be the truth. That, or he'd been sufficiently trained in psy-ops that he was able to fake it. Either way, he clearly hadn't been taken by the Lakkonian authorities, so the rules regarding how he would handle this situation were shifting with each new piece of information. Whoever Mike Kallas was, Talos figured his appearance here in Lakonna and the anachronistic technology weren't a coincidence.

Dakora: Lieutenant Junior-Grade Dakora, Starfleet Serial XX-771-069. ::He paused, letting his eyes find Kallas':: Am I your prisoner, then?

The man didn't say anything right away but he did set the phaser he'd been holding down, which sent a wave of relief crashing on his frayed synapses. Unfortunately, the relief was short-lived as Kallas snatched a mean-looking knife from the wall display and disappeared behind him.

Dakora: H-hey, wait, let's talk about this. I'm sure we can help eachoth-

Steeling himself for the hot sting of the blade across his throat, Talos instead felt the ropes binding his hands and feet being cut away. He brought his hands in front of him again, rotating his aching shoulders in an effort to jumpstart circulation in the stiff muscles and joints. He looked up at Kallas as he came back around to stand in front of him.

Kallas: I was a technician on the USS Rampart. We were on a mission to operate some kind of listening post in some caves near Jupe. There was an accident, and me and–– ::gestures to the comm unit:: my crewmate got left behind. We’ve been here for fifteen years.

For the first time, Talos saw the comm unit sitting on a side table, seemingly monitoring their whole conversation. It had started life as an older desktop communicator but had seemingly jury-rigged to extend its range and function. He couldn't really make out the face on the other side of the call through the artifacts on the display.

As Kallas' story sank in and Talos' senses gradually returned, the pieces began to slot together in his head. He could only imagine what it would be like to be left behind as the man had, to be abandoned by his own crew and Starfleet. He shivered slightly at the thought. The Excalibur would be back for them. It would come back.

His mouth fell open slightly as he processed it all.

Dakora: Fifteen years? ::He shook his head.:: I'm sorry, we had no idea.

Kallas' expression fell a little as replied dejectedly.

Kallas: So, you’re not here to look for us?

Talos rose from his chair letting the blood flow return to his legs as he crossed to look at the hodge-podge of Demesian items and salvaged 15-year-old Starfleet tech, the resemblance to the hack-job refurbishment of the industrial replicator at Skurvee was there, but it wasn't a smoking gun that Kallas' had done it. Even if he had, could Talos honestly say that he wouldn't have done the same? If he was abandoned by Starfleet to rot on a frigid alien world, would he not try and make his life easier? From where he stood now, the Prime Directive made the answer an easy "no." But what about five, ten years from now?

It was complicated.

Dakora: Not specifically. No. ::Talos frowned.:: The details of our mission are classified, but suffice it to say I think you two, the Rampart and that listening post are going to prove to be extremely frakking relevant to our mission.

Kallas: Response?

While many pieces of the puzzle in Talos mind were fitting together nicely, other aspects of the new development didn't line up. That Admiral, Regilensis, hadn't said anything about any Starfleet operations at all when he'd briefed them. All his talk had been about "outside actors." If Kallas' wasn't entirely full of crap, and certainly didn't seem like he was, then Admiral Reggie was holding out on them. But why?

The gears spun freely in Talos' head until something slipped into the right spot and the big idea flywheel began to rotate.

Dakora: You said you were from the USS Rampart. ::He eyed Kallas curiously.:: Who was your CO at the time?

Kallas: Response?

He'd been almost expecting the answer, but the confirmation left him with a terrible, sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

Dakora: Holy Strokes. ::He let out a big sigh.:: We've got to find the rest of my team.

Kallas: Response?

He shook his head and placed a hand on the marooned man's shoulder.

Dakora: I think this mission just went to Risa with no Horga'hn, if you know what I mean...

Kallas: Response?



LtJG Talos Dakora

Intelligence Officer

USS Excalibur-A


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