Above a caramel orb, beyond a caramel sky; bathed in the light of a triune sun, an entire planet watched with held breath. They had no idea that the drama they could not see unfolding above their heads held the key to their continued survival, or the doom of them all. A billion stars stood silent witness as the fate of billions more lives played out in the hearts of men and women.
"Keh-leh Shel'ar t'naehr. Vuhkarat t'betaya fi-gluvayek."
No emotion, no obvious sign of anything but keen interest showed on the frail woman's face as she leaned forward in the center chair, steepling her fingers under her exquisite chin. Forty. Pouring out of the flickering pool of midnight blue and diamonds, heading for the planet … for them. One lone ship, orbiting above the northern mountain range.
Evading the ripples cast by the rapidly destabilizing wormhole, Rala came coasting towards the planet at full impulse, but T'Meni knew the V'Ket cruiser would barely reach the Warbirds in time. In time … to throw her formidable weaponry against an enemy that outnumbered them even as the planet based defense systems honed in on their targets and fighters rose like so many hungry birds of prey from their hidden bases, deep under the desert sands or rugged mountain chains.
"Identify the Flagship."
"She broadcasts as Endless Sky, s'thora."
"Weapons and shields to full. Engage attack pattern Hirat. Tola'uh."
Sharp, grey eyes honed in on the amaranth wreckage tumbling between the Warbirds, barely recognizable to anyone but those who had built the ship this one had been with their own hands. And amidst the shards and tatters … a shape that looked mortally wounded itself, barreling after the foe in defiance of not only death but probability.
"Federation ship Charon identified, s'thora."
If the Commander's eyes rested on that ship a split second longer than they should have, none on the bridge would comment. Or wonder.
[IRW Endless Sky, Bridge]
Perhaps in some distant part of his brain, Brent had heard the warning, seen the attacker who wanted to take him down. However he paid the Romulan no mind, as he was fixed on what he saw before him. Her. Dead. Or very close to it. He moved like a blur, closing the distance between himself and Itsak. No more tears to shed. Brent grabbed the Vaek'Riov forcing him to let Sakarra fall gently to the ground as he picked up the Romulan admiral and pressed him against the wall. One hand at his neck and the other at his wrist.
"You. You are the one who took her. You are the one who killed her. I will break you apart slowly for what you have done to her. DO YOU HEAR ME?" the enraged marine yelled.
Torn away from her by a grip that spoke volumes in its rage alone, Itsak did not even have the time to react. Nor did it seem to matter. Nothing seemed to.
Seeing his reflection in the helmet, dark and distorted, the Vaek'Riov gave a humorless laugh. What a suitable image it was. "So, it is you, then. She said you would let me know."
Oh so slowly his free hand inched towards his blade. But did even this matter any more?
"A Gai'Shian." Even strangled like this, his voice was dripping with disbelief. And then he laughed again, hoarsely, mustering the visage under the visor. And a human. Ah, Elements.
"Did she? Good. Because I am going to be the last thing that you ever see before your world is subsumed by the blinding pain I inflict upon you," Brent retorted. He let the admiral breath. No there was no reason to end his life like that. That would be far too easy and painless. The hand on his wrist began to clench down. First it was simply a mild discomfort, until the pain continued, as did the constricting hand. Far beyond what any normal human could do... Then beyond what any Vulcan could do. Until finally the room heard the sickening sound of the Vaek'Riov's wrist shattering into countless peices, severing tendons, nerves, and causing massive internal bleeding.
"Go," he said taunting Istak. "Pull that sword. Do it. Do it through that blinding pain. I know you can. Pull that sword and see how far you think you can get with it."
Empty. A void, cold and without feeling, the violet gaze resting on the enraged human.
"And what pain is it that you believe you can still inflict on me?" He nearly laughed again, even as the nerves in his arm were clamoring, screaming, searing. Gripping the hilt as if the gruesome injury were no more than a scratch, Itsak shook his head as far as the constricting grip would allow, not even bothering to struggle. Another time, another place … another life … he might have enjoyed the challenge. Unusual strength, combined with blinding fury - ah it would have been exciting.
What point is it to fight for a prize that is no more.
No more …
"Though I doubt not she would approve you finish what she started."
"Itsak- " Shiarrael spoke, it required great effort as her chest still smoldered from the disruptor blast. She crawled towards the pair leaving a streaking trail of blood behind her "I pity you- what have you become?" Her eyes no longer held hatred or bitterness- but instead sadness. In their childhood she had never given him much thought. He was simply her cousin. In retrospect he had always suffered and she had done little to aid him. "Forgive me- I have wronged you." She closed her eyes and looked away. Pity.
The familiar voice floated to his ears and for a mere heartbeat it seemed there was emotion still in that deep, startling violet, settling on eyes the very same color – and yet so different.
"It seems to me dear cousin we both pity each other."
His shattered hand pulled the honor blade as far as he could and every inch seemed to cost incredible effort. The pain … the pain was welcome. But it was hard to get the destroyed muscles and tendons to do as they should.
"But if it's forgiveness you want, you have it, for all the good it may do."
He nearly laughed again, sensing the bloodlust in the marine held at bay by sheer force of will and for the first time, looked at his rival as he should have. Ah how the Elements liked to play their jests.
"What I have become is what I chose. What I did…" a side-glance to the human was quick enough to pass unnoticed. Almost. "… I chose as well. But if it humors you, know that your thaessu repaid me in full. If only by reminding me that hate has a reason for everything…"
"You think you have lost? You think you have felt pain?" Brent replied as he immediately crushed his other wrist, the same sickening sound echoing across the room. "You have felt NOTHING. You took her away and brought her to here. You are the cause of her death. Everything you thought you might have even hoped to gain, is a loss because of your own doing!" The hand around his neck tightened threatening to cut off all oxygen to him. No. Not yet. His free hand balled into a fist and began to pound against the Romulan. Ribs first. His fists smashing over all of them that he could, the impact shaking and damaging the organs inside.
A knee shot up, cracking against his pelvis, breaking it in three places before Brent drew his hand back one final time. "There's an old saying that my colony took from Earth when we left in the early 21st century. Think on it," he said calmly as he stared into Istak's eyes. "You reap what you sow." The impact of his fist did not stop when it cracked his skull just at the bridge of his nose. The armored fist went clean through the admiral's head, rendering brain and bone alike, until with a definitive and loud thud, Brent's hand impacted against the wall, leaving a sizable dent mark behind. He removed the admiral's skull from his arm, tossing the lifeless man aside before he turned, back to Sakarra, rushing over to kneel next to her, looking for some sign.
"But love is unreasonable." Shiarrael finished the ancient quote and lowered her head. Did he truly love Sakarra? She wondered as her eyes kept gaze on the blood stained flooring. Upon hearing Brent's fist impact the wall she closed her eyes and shook her head.
Yyaio, the Dead One according to the derogatory slang of her Romulan captors. The knife still stuck plunged through her chest, and she was still smeared with green blood from head to toe, and wore little else, having had all else but her dignity stripped from her during her captivity. She was a Vulcan that the Charon's crew had never seen before, but within that skewered heart laid an all too familiar life, one that refused to surrender because of something as trivial as a mortal wound. Fortunately for her, mortality had never been high on her list of concerns.
She stood, wiping Hanaj's gelatinous brain matter from the side of her face with casual dismissal. The recent change of events had gone rather well, all in all - far better than they were a few seconds ago. How Charon's crew had managed to get aboard without her knowing was a delightful mystery, but one to be solved later. For now, to work.
"Captain," the gore-spattered Vulcan woman said disjointedly, "I am going to cut life support to this vessel soon. I suggest that you get what you need."
"Cut life support?" Shiarrael's eyes stared at the unrecognizable Vulcan "exactly who are you?" She asked, the edges of her lips were stained a milky green as saliva and blood mixed forming a bitter concoction. She slowly pushed herself up to a sitting position- blood soaked what remained of her uniform and continued to pool beneath her.
The Vulcan woman was fishing a medical kit from behind a console as if she knew the place as she replied. "It will force the ship's crew to survival areas, and from there to ejection pods." Yyaio bent forward to administer an injection of coagulants and stimulants to the wounded Captain, entirely unconcerned with her own mortal wounds, as if she didn't feel them. Her speech was likewise incongruous with the situation. Scored with lash marks across her skin, coated in coppery blood, and here she was having a tactical conversation with someone whom she (ostensibly) just met. "It is important to get this ship as far from Vulcan as possible, and preferably incinerated to somewhere above six thousand degrees kelvin."
"Life pods?" Shiarrael eyes were glazed as the medication began taking effect. She covered her mouth and coughed, pulling her hand away she looked at it finding her palm coated in a thin splatter of green. With a shake of the head she looked at Yyaio "no- let the Romulan crew remain aboard. They should die with their ship. It is only proper."
Yyaio only raised an eyebrow at the Captains' reply, sparing her a glance before spraying a stinging cellular scaffolding matrix across her wounds, followed by a nutrient bath, and then a pass of the tissue knitter. "You may worship death if you choose, Captain, but I do not."
"You are fortunate I am too injured to protest much." Shiarrael sighed and stared at the carnage. What a sad end "transport us to the Char..." her words trailed off as she caught sight of the viewscreen. The remaining warbirds were flying into Vulcan's atmosphere- "no..." she murmured as a large explosion rippled through the desert landscape. "Return me to Charon. We must stop this."
Beyond the facade, Savant was hard at work. A dozen more computer registers fell, and she was busy cataloguing and packaging - as soon as she was able, she would be transmitting everything she could to Vulcan. A ship such as this represented a wealth of knowledge, and about a culture as exotic as the Romulans as well. Savant could ill-afford to abandon it to the hardware's fate.
Because the hardware *was* fated. There was no way that this ship would be returning to Romulus. The crew had to be gotten off and neutralized, and in a manner that wouldn't allow them to self-destruct the ship in a sensitive area. It had to go. Furthermore, it had to be destroyed far away from Vulcan, as far as possible. The Memento Mori virus was a hardy strain, capable of surviving extremes in heat and cold. If in a piece of spaceframe, it could survive de-orbiting, and Itsak's nightmarish dream could come true posthumously.
Vulcan's fireside-orange trinary star would serve well. Not only would it provide an efficient end to the Memento Mori virus, it would provide ample warning to the Romulan Empire on what befell those who dared cross the Federation. An excellent venture.
"I do not yet have transporter control, Captain. Please stand by." Yyaio pulled the knitter away and sprayed a hard white sealant-bandage across Shiarriel's wounds, efficient as always. "There we are. Please prepare for loss of environmental control." A few brief seconds later, Red Alert sounded throughout the ship.
Shiarrael mumbled incoherently in Rihannsu about worms in a hlai pen before giving Yyaio an irritated gaze "we need to get back to Charon." She grabbed a console and pulled herself to her feet "quickly."
Yyaio responded in a falsetto sing-song, "I'm working on it" as she addressed the most grievous of Sakarra's wounds. Behind the scenes, Savant was quickly regaining the rest of the ships' bindings and its attendant device drivers. Communication was her top priority - Charon could always beam them back herself, once Savant was able to talk with herself there again. Barring that, Vulcan would be able to get them easily enough.
"We should have transport options available in fifteen seconds. Please stand by."
Yyaio continued her medical work as around her, the temperature dropped degree by degree. Sakarra. Poor Sakarra; innocent of the violence that befell her. At least on first pass, that is - if she was actually innocent would take further cogitation, but Savant had neither the luxury of time or inclination to pursue the question. There was too much left to do in the minutes remaining. She knelt down beside Sakarra's prone form, forgotten in the drama, and began with the tissue knitters and drugs. It was fortunate that Vulcan and Romulan physiology was so similar.
Captain Shiarrael t'Rehu
Vaek'Riov Itsak tr'Sahen
Brevet First Lieutenant Brent Warren