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A New Dawn: Part 2

Posted on Sat Mar 14th, 2015 @ 5:00am by Commander Jey Cleh & Commander Andrew Matheson & Lieutenant Commander Rosaleen O'Donnell

Mission: Bloodpath
Location: USS Bettina

Andrew kept his eyes closed, sorting through everything and groaning softly. "I'm reminded now why certain Earth cultures believe that the statement 'May you live in interesting times' is considered to be a curse rather than a blessing..." He realized that this honestly wasn't the first time he'd been in a spot like this. It was just the first time where he was the bottom line as far as that affecting lives of others went. Just keep breathing, idiot. You won't be any good to anyone if you don't do that.

"If they believe we are against them, they will not hesitate to destroy us all. That is why, no matter what, you cannot react out of the ordinary. You must seem to agree with them. You must buy the rest of us the time we need." For the first time since her return, Rosaleen flashed her classic impish smile at him. "And you can't even handle a simple touch from me without almost jumping out of your skin."

He chuckled back. "We're not at a Betazoid wedding, and I'm married. Unless that's going to become your new duty uniform, this IS rather out of the ordinary." He paused. "Who is this 'they' you're referring to, assuming you're talking about a group larger than 'her'?"

"The Council. I...well, I'm not really sure what exactly is going on. I haven't been allowed to see everything. But something bad is brewing within the Council House." She looked down at herself briefly. "And as for my lack of uniform...I'm comfortable this way. I always have been, to be honest. Kathleen as well. I think it has something to do with who we are. But I remain more modest for the sake of those around me. I'm comfortable around you as well. And somehow I don't think that you are offended by it."

He grumbled. "And here I thought we'd caught a clue after the Andor secession and the Briar Patch fallout. Fantastic..." He opened his eyes. "I never said I was offended by the lack of uniform. My issue there is that I'm fairly certain I'm not allowed to be as appreciative of it as I have been until my marriage finishes going down in flames. That would only be a minor stress factor, but since I'm way out in the deep end of impaired emotional control just now..." At this point he considered breaking his own leg to make it easier to get his foot into his mouth before realizing that it would be counterproductive with another telepath in the room.

"Well, I certainly wouldn't want to be the cause of any extra stress for you, so..." It was as if reality 'blinked'. Rosaleen stood clothes in a full length, dark blue dress. "...I guess I need to worry about your comfort level more than mine." She approached Andrew yet again, but did not make contact with him. The look she gave him was shy and seductive at the same time. "Like I said...a complication."

Andrew sighed. "Like I said... probably won't be a complication for long. I'm not trying to trivialize or inconvenience you here, but to say this has been a long couple of days is about as much an understatement as saying that the Borg might possibly have obsessive-compulsive disorder where perfection is concerned."

A soft laugh escaped from Rosaleen. "You think you have had a rough couple of days? I'm not even sure what, or even who I am now. I've...I've changed Andrew. I'm not the same person that you were walking beside the water with a couple of days ago. I feel..." She trailed off, not quite sure she wanted to say the rest.

Andrew tapped his temple. "From what the good captain tells me, I've changed too. She hopes to limit the brain damage, actually." He chuckled wryly. "I feel fine, just tired. But things have definitely been set in motion all the way around here."

"I wouldn't advise touching me any time soon. No telling where you are liable to end up. But...I think that you saw what you needed to." The room turned cold. "And I am worried for my people in the Briar Patch. There is great danger to them. I need to go and speak with the elders." She walked over to the closest monitor, and after a few commands brought up a map of the region. "What's wrong with this picture? Why are the Vidian's attacking here and now? It makes absolutely no sense from a tactical standpoint. They have been unable to properly support this action. Why are they pressing it?"

Andrew was up on his feet before he realized that fact. "The Vidiians? Anywhere near here? Damn it all..." He was halfway to hitting his commbadge before remembering that waking up the commodore at this hour of the morning had its fair share of risks that make the Vidiians look tame. "Is this imminent enough to justify waking up the commodore?"

She looked at him with a quizzical expression. "You...you don't know, do you?" She quickly ran the last several days through her mind, analyzing every moment in the blink of an eye. "Nobody does. Andrew...that's who is attacking this planet. But why? Wait...no, that's not the most important question here. How? How have they managed to get an attack force here from the Delta Quadrant?"

"Three immediate possibilities come to mind there - transwarp, slipstream, or wormhole travel. Given the spatial instabilities of the Briar Patch, none of them are horribly out of the question." He racked his brain trying to remember how those things worked; the last time he'd had to care about any of them was back working on the Cardassian treaty. "But I'm far more concerned with the why than the how at the moment, because if the why doesn't involve picking a war with us we actually have time to sort the rest of it out."

"I get the feeling that they did not expect our involvement. At least not as soon as it occurred." She turned to him, careful to keep her distance. "Think about it. If Arianna had not been here with one of your personnel, we might not have realized what was occurring here for a long time. And Kathleen...her Ka'Bu instinctive curiosity drove her to move before ordered to. Something isn't right here. I just can't see what it is though."

At that moment, the peace of the Bettina's medical bay was shattered as the doors opened, and Lizzy rushed into the room. When she left, she had linked her Tricorder to the medical bay's sensors. The moment each of the two had stood up from their beds, her tricorder had raised alarms. Now as she rushed in to see them both standing there casually, the tricorder dropped to the deck, and surprise filled her features.

"Oh my god..." Lizzy said in shock as the door closed behind her. "You... You shouldn't even be conscious, much less standing. The sedatives I gave you saw to that."

"It's good to see you as well, Captain." Rosaleen replied, then turned back to the screen for a moment, bringing up additional overlays. "We have a problem. We are in a war that makes no sense."

Lizzy ignored Rosaleen's statement about the war. She picked up her Tricorder off the deck, and moved to stand near the woman. "As your treating physician, I'm more worried about your physical condition, than the war." It was only a partial lie. She was concerned about this war, or whatever it was happening here, but Rosaleen was her most pressing issue at the moment. "I'm going to need to examine you, before I can let you walk out of here."

Rosaleen turned toward Jey, her eyes returning to the dark maelstrom appearance that they had exhibited earlier. She studied the Captain for a moment, then leaned in to whisper in her ear. "I know who you are, Liz. If you want to help your sister, you will work with me, not against me. The danger here is greater than you can imagine."

Though Lizzy's first instinct was to physically ambush Rosaleen to learn how she knew her name, she ignored it only because Andrew was there, and she knew he hadn't heard. Instead she took a single step backwards, glaring at Rosaleen, before looking at Andrew.

"You stay here. I'll check on you in a minute." She told Andrew, then resumed glaring at Rosaleen. "You... we need to talk in the office." She said, gesturing to the office.

Rosaleen turned to Andrew. "Stay, please. I will only be a moment."

Andrew chuckled. "With the look in the captain's eyes, I suspect I might get a phaser on stun if I tried anything else. I'm not going anywhere."

-------------------

Rosaleen turned and walked to the office, positioning herself in the far corner as Lizzy walked in. The storm in her eyes had subsided a bit, but was still evident.

As the door closed behind Lizzy, she stood looking at Rosaleen with her arms crossed. "Since you know who I am, I'm assuming you somehow know my situation too." She started. She wanted to blow up at Rosaleen, but she knew that this woman now had her in a corner, and setting her off now would be very bad. "I want some answers, and I want them now... for example, how the hell do you know that name?"

Rosaleen's answer was as cryptic as the entire moment. "Because it is where you exist." She studied the woman for a moment...and an eternity. "There is no danger. Your secret is safe with me."

Lizzy sighed,, looking none too pleased. She decided to resign herself to helping Rosaleen, but she wasn't just going to side step her duties. "Fine. I'll help you, but at least let me get a tricorder scan, and see your wound first." She finally said, relaxing her stance a bit. "Saving your life was a bitch, and I can't just let that go in good conscience... Not after the mistake I made when you got shot."

"Well you must have done something right, considering that I am standing here." Rosaleen replied as she reached behind her neck, deactivating the electromagnetic clasp on her dress, and let it fall to the floor. As she stood nude in front of Lizzy, something was very apparent...and very wrong.

"You're kidding me..." For the second time now, Lizzy was in a mental mode of shock as she looked at Rosaleen. The wound was just... gone. No scar, no red marks... nothing. She took a few steps closer, opening her tricorder. She took the wand out, running it over the general area to get a more detailed scan. "There's not a thing wrong with you." She put the wand away, and closed the tricorder, before stepping back. "Kathleen told me about the two of you... but I've never seen anything like this."

"To be honest, I don't think the being that stands before you is anything like the one that you knew a few days ago. During my...absence, something happened. Something I am still trying to piece together. I feel...different. More in tune with everything. More...powerful."

"No thanks to me." Lizzy replied. She bent over to pick up the dress that had fallen to the floor, holding it out for Rosaleen to take. "I saved your life after you were already pronounced dead. Arianna D'Tal tried to save your life after I uhh... freaked out."

The clouds left Rosaleen's eyes, returning them to their normal crystal blue. "We all have our ghosts to deal with. You met yours, and you overcame their legacy. Now it's time to move forward again." As she spoke, she put the dress back on. No sense getting Andrew all worked up again.

Lizzy looked at Rosaleen, and sighed. "One more thing." She said. "If I'm to help you with all of this," She waved in the general direction of what Rosaleen had been observing as she'd come into sickbay. "and your medical needs, I'll need to be kept in the loop... These secrets are safe with me, but please don't keep them from me."

"I'll do what I can, but to be perfectly honest...I don't know very much myself." She finished re-activating the clasp, and indicated the door. "Shall we?"

"After you." Lizzy gestured, stepping aside to let Rosaleen pass, then followed her out.

-------------------

Rosaleen walked back into the bay, heading directly to where Andrew stood. A shy smile comforted him...all was well. "OK, now where were we?"

Andrew remembered where he was and who was now listening before he blurted everything out. "Political ramifications about the who, how and why of the Taranok IV attack, I think."

"So have you experienced any brainstorms since our departure?" Jey walked up to them as they spoke. "As I said earlier, there is something critical that we are missing here."

Lizzy knew these two had been telepathically joined, and understood the ramifications. "Don't bother tip toeing around, Commander." Lizzy said casually, as she started to scan him with the wand of her tricorder. "Rosaleen convinced me to help, so just put me in the loop."

Andrew took a look at Rosaleen, saw no resistance to the idea, and nodded. "Two separate brainstorms, one aimed more at me and one aimed at our general predicament." He then went into a discussion of the red-haired visitor and all the particular problems that could cause, leaving out the interlude where he had stapled his heart to his sleeve, and then segued to the Viidian theory.

While Lizzy listened to Andrew's rather interesting story, she had done a complete scan of him from head to toe. As he finished, she closed the tricorder, and looked at him. "If you keep stressing your neural pathways like this, you're going to do more harm than good." She told him, then turned to Rosaleen. "Do you recognize the name Rhian Terek? I ask because she's here, and she already knew it was these Vidians."

Why couldn't they be rid of that woman once and for all...

"I'm fairly confident in saying that she had nothing to do with the current situation here. At the same time, she would be the first in line to take advantage of it. She is former Tal Shiar. Actually, she might not be a bad source of intel. Might be worth the price she would ask."

"We've got another problem too." Lizzy replied. "The woman who took a pot shot at you was taken into custody. I placed her under guard in the Brig, and while you two were sedated in here, her and her guards were murdered."

"Tal Shiar? This day just keeps getting better and better, though I've never heard of a breathing former Tal Shiar operative. Had the sniper been formally questioned yet, and is there any chance the operative could have been in on the murder?" Andrew had never believed in coincidence; everything that went to hell had a reason for it. "And how do you mean, stressing my neural pathways? Other than making sure my barriers stay in one piece, I've been staying in my own head as far as I know of." That was honest curiosity, since he thought Rosaleen had been inducing his visions.

"She didn't get questioned. The Commodore also says this isn't Rhian's style." Lizzy replied to Andrew. "According to what I saw, you've been doing more than working on barriers. My scans show evidence of a temporal flux placing stress on your cerebral cortex."

"That was my doing." Stated Rosaleen. "I apologize. It wasn't exactly intentional though. It just kinda...happened."

Andrew casually rested against the biobed, not particularly wanting to get back into it, not particularly wanting to wind up on the floor. He had a conference in the reasonably near future if he could manage to get to it. "My orientation lecturer way back in the day said the diplomatic service would never be boring. If I hadn't visited his grave three weeks ago, I could cheerfully throttle him right now for being a master of understatement."

"Now that I know, I'll be much more cautious in my interactions until I figure it all out. But, back on topic...this whole endeavor by Starfleet here. I fear it's all a sham. I fear...that the Council is about to change the entire fabric of the Federation, and not for the better."

"I just don't see how this planet could be a flash point of that magnitude. I'm willing to chalk that up to horrible timing effects with my transfer here, but what was it about this planet that made the Federation interested in wanting them to join? Did they ask us or did we invite them?" Andrew drummed his fingers on the bed. "From what I saw of the refugees, the general population wouldn't be a problem - but there are clearly some people who don't mind shooting at diplomats to keep us out. Is that just a frustrated few or are we actually taking sides in a civil war here?" Fear crept into his voice with that question.

"We may very well find ourselves in the middle of a civil war, but it won't be one on this planet." Rosaleen responded dryly.

"Just when I thought my life couldn't get any worse." Lizzy replied just as dryly. "Why can't people just learn to leave well enough alone?" It was a rhetorical question, but yet it was perfectly valid in her eyes too.

Rosaleen turned to Lizzy. "You can't tell me you haven't seen this coming. Look at all of the controversial actions that have come from the Council. My father has expressed serious concerns about the Council's abilities to even function as an effective leadership group on numerous occasions."

"The Council has had nothing but headaches going for it since the Andor secession drama, from what I was seeing in the dispatches. I wasn't aware there were prominent internal schisms on top of generally reactionary politics." Andrew idly thumbed through his PADD, trying yet again to get caught up to speed on things.

"I remember some of the conversations around the dinner table growing up. Sometimes it seemed like we lived on the verge of dissolution."

Andrew snorted. "That fear was around back before the Treaty of 2370. Certain Council hawks demanding that we not give an inch to Cardassia lest they take a parsec... It was always the same three or four voices from junior councilors, never enough to force a vote on anything problematic." His eyes rolled closed. "Then again, that's going on twenty-five years back and it's the same type of problem we're discussing now."

Lizzy wanted to blurt out the details of the past several years go Rosaleen, but Andrew's presence made that a bad idea. "If you knew how I've spent my life since my parents died, you'd understand why I never saw this coming." she said, as she moved to the terminal, adding another image to create a split screen. It was a projected images of the planet, with large red spots covering most of it. "This is Taranok IV. Based on what data we've been able to gather, these red areas are completely overrun, but you can see that there are a lot of areas that are scattered, and possibly other safe zones."

Rosaleen studied the tactical readout. "That's odd." She zoomed into one section of the planet. "Look at this. Other than the capital city, they seem to have avoided most populated areas. In fact, if you look here..." She zoomed in even closer. "...their ground forces had to travel almost double the distance they needed to by taking a route around these towns."

"Depending on how involved the Viidians are, I do have a disturbing thought about that." Andrew shuddered. "It's possible that the Viidians are sponsoring one side of this conflict in exchange for... harvesting rights... afterwards. In that case, it would make a disturbing amount of sense to leave as many population centers as possible intact in order to maximize the resultant rewards for the Viidians. I hope I'm completely wrong about that, though."

Rosaleen shook her head. "No, it's not that. They were cured a long time ago, so they have no need for harvesting anymore. Dammit...there is something important that we are all missing here."

Andrew rubbed his eyes. "I'm sorry. I just don't know enough about the situation here to be useful, I guess." The wave of dark emotions that rolled off him as he tried to master his frustration at the last week was fairly obvious, both telepathically and physically via body language, but he either didn't notice or didn't care that it bled through his shields.

But Rosaleen wasn't paying attention to him. In fact the room had even ceased to exist in her mind.

'They don't need to harvest...so there is nothing here that they need badly enough to go through this much trouble. So why...even if they did need to harvest it would be a million times simpler to do so in their Quadrant.'

She walked a few steps away as her mind went into overdrive. 'Cured...that fixed their problems. It healed them...not completely though. They were cured, but they did not recover what they had lost. It's life though, but still...'

Her eyes were like blue fire when she looked at Andrew and Lizzy. "Son of a...they don't need a cure. But they want to regain what they lost." She saw the blank looks that met her. "There is only one way they can regain what the Phage took. They are going after the metaphasic radiation around Ba'Ku!"

Lizzy knew nothing of the Ba'Ku, but she had heard of metaphasic radiation, and the effect it had on Humans. "Sounds to me like they either want the fountain of youth, or immortality." She said, then turned back to the display. Something odd caught her attention, causing her to zoom in further. Odd... there was another building that looked like it had also exploded, but it wasn't completely destroyed.

"What the hell?" Lizzy was completely confused now. "This building here looks like it was blown up after the initial explosion. It's not completely destroyed, but look..." She zoomed in as far as she could, and pointed at a fairly fuzzy spot. "This looks like a Federation console. Why would the Federation have a building here?" She asked as she turned back to face Rosaleen.

"Wouldn't the advance contact and diplomatic personnel have needed a building to work out of until we got here and established something more of an official presence?" He didn't think it would have been a five-star hotel, but proper protocol would have involved at least some infrastructure prior to the Bettina's arrival on-world. Then again, considering every other curveball that looked to be heading for the plate at the moment, Andrew wasn't going to be knocked over with a feather if that hadn't gone as expected either.

"That's the wrong construct." She zoomed in on the console. "Computer, enhance image." She waited for a few seconds as the computer carried out her command. "There...that's a tactical console. That would not be in any type of facility for either diplomatic or observation and documentation purposes."

Andrew growled under his breath. "I get the distinct impression that I have just found another deficiency in the diplomatic packet the Corps handed me. Nothing of that mission scope was indicated here in what I've read over."

"People in authority have been keeping secrets, so that's not really a surprise to me." Lizzy told Andrew.

Rosaleen started to say something, but her focus wavered a bit. It took her a moment to realize what was actually wrong with her. "Wow...I hadn't realized how hungry I am. I'm guessing that it has been a few days since I have had any real nourishment."

"Well there's nothing more I can do for you here." Lizzy replied. "Medically speaking, there's nothing wrong with you, so you're free to go."

Andrew looked over at the captain trying to gauge his odds of getting released and getting a few hours of sleep in his own bed. However, he couldn't get any sort of read on her at all. Chalking that up to the possibility that there actually may have been some neurological damage going on, he settled himself back into the biobed.

Rosaleen reached down and squeezed his hand. "Would you like me to bring you something?"

Andrew shook his head gingerly. "No, but thank you. I think at this point sleep is going to do more for me than anything else."

She kissed his hand. "I will check on you later. Captain...if you require nothing further from me, I'm going to head out for a bit now. I'll keep you appraised of any concerns I have. But for now I feel just fine...well, for being recently dead."

As he settled in, he realized there was actually something he needed. "Captain, given Rosaleen's premonitions with regards to our guest, could I be fitted with a concealed biomonitor in case I'm required to leave sick bay to deal with that? I'll stay the night, but I don't know when they'll show up and I don't want to have to go into details about what happened with them."

Lizzy looked at him for a moment, after Rosaleen left, then sighed lightly as she moved to get a bio-monitor out of one of the drawers nearby. "I'm syncing this with my tricorder, like I did with Sickbay." She told him as she approached him, attaching the small device to his upper arm. "Try not to set it off."

Lizzy tapped him on the shoulder comfortingly, before moving to gather some of the tools she would need for the forensic work on the murder scene in the Brig. Shortly after, she walked back out of the medical bay to do something she really didn't want to do.
--------------------

Lt Commander Rosaleen O'Donnell
Commodores Personal Assistant
Starbase 80

Captain Jey Cleh
Executive Officer
Chief Medical Officer
Starbase 80

Lt Cmdr Andrew Matheson
Chief Diplomatic Officer
Starbase 80

 

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