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Topic: [2374] Operation 'Spark' - Betazed (Read 1766 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • stardust
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Re: [2374] Operation 'Spark' - Betazed
Reply #50
[ Cmdr. Brody Miller | Codename: Mason | Rena Resistance Bivouac | Dalaria City | Betazed ] Attn: @Swift
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The notion of change was the whetstone for human progress. Yet it also wore on the conviction and patriotism of any individual in equal measure. Because as much as change could leap and jump like a dashing frog through lush green pastures, it could also be a stubborn sloth, slowly and gradually winding its way through the thicket of time. The majority, surely, succumbing to the more gratifying notion of simple acceptance, at one point during their lives, only regretting it in the last moments before death, much, much later. But it was a notion so normal, so widespread, it hardly felt odd or submissive. So to someone like Brody, the true heroes were those who withstood the grind of time and the pressure of community and pursued their penchant for change relentlessly. Potentially people like Sariah, who blindly followed their own conviction, no matter the opposition, to eternity and back.

A two double-edged sword indeed. Because conviction like that could easily turn into obsession. But that was not for him to decide, he told himself, and such reminders lifted the foggy veil of indecision swiftly, unveiling the path of duty, lined with the orders he'd received. Straying from the predetermined alley only when it would serve the better or easier resolution of the mission. A world of black and white he much rather indulged in, than the murky gray of idealism and deceit. Something that always pout him at stark odds with the professional machinations of his wife, who thrived in the undetermined midst between right and wrong. Making an art out of swaying it to one side or another, with the power of words. Which was probably the deciding scheme to eventually end this war, indeed, but as a wolf could not turn its coat, he would have to contribute in whichever way he knew how. And that was by being the very tool he'd been forged into. A weapon created for one purpose. It was then only in the gentle embrace of her, that he could contemplate a different existence.

Yet, as he alluded, it could've also been a guy ... by sheer assumption at least. A reality he more than gladly entertained to carve whatever frail amusement he could, from a situation that was slowly looking up. The mission to infiltrate the Dominion network had been a success, despite - or because - of it's sacrifices. And whatever else Bishop harbored in terms of affiliation and perceived debt to this people, or the galaxy, would have to dissolve in whatever time it would take for the stringent perseverance of time to move the planets moon back into vision, and as such the shuttle into transporter range. A measure of time that would best be spent indulging in whatever easement and deception necessary to get Bishop to drop his guard. To make him susceptible to either persuasion or force by surprise. And if that were facilitated by actual bonding of some kind, then Brody was the last one to dissuade it.

Acknowledging his sharp mind with a solemn nod, the man let a small puff of air flare his nostrils in a muffled chuckle of relief. "Gotta have at least that ..." he mumbled quietly, omitting the added 'in this line of work' parameter. It literally went without saying. Though judging from the short time they spent together, the other operative might've been well advised simply sticking to the facts now and then. Looking back up at the man, as Bishop spoke up once more, voicing more of his assumptions, Brody's eyes narrowed slightly, as he gauged the extent of what he was willing to give away. Yet given the fact that they were both cast from the same block of Starfleet iron -which spoke to their integrity - and that they would likely not cross paths again after this, sat that bar pretty low.

"Not really in this line of work anymore ... actually." he admitted quietly, a certain ring of relief to being able to push forth these words. "... just the most qualified person in a hundred light-years to get you off this rock, I suppose." A gentle shrug to broad shoulders, fabric drenched in darkness from the neck outward a few inches, where the rain had seeped into the man's coat, his dark eyes once more shifted to the growing glow on the horizon. "I'm the first officer of a starship, the very fleet that's been trying to free this place of the Dominion, for the past month ... at great expense." A glimmer of light that extinguished against the dark night, at the unspoken truth that said fleet probably only had one more push in it, before it would have to retreat. A reality neither conducive to the general morale, nor Bishop's actual ambition to leave. "But I've been working the dark corners of the Federation in the past ... I guess that's pretty obvious." Words alluding both to a sense of pride in his skill and achievements as well as the tragedy of the more personal afflictions it came with.

Silence filled that small overlook once more. At least in the more immediate surroundings, guarded by the muffled sounds of people inside the compound, and the scattered fights and skirmishes in the night streets beyond. A sense of ambience that had become so tragically comfortable and acquainted. Nodding once more at Bishop's recitation, registering the subtle sense of indecision and deceit betraying the actual conviction to relent, he reminded himself to be on guard and still hold on to the idea of having to stun the man's ass off this planet. A notion, which brought down the levity of the moment temporarily, back to the cold wet stone of reality, though it was uplifted again mere seconds later.

Letting out a sincere chuckle, Brody shook his head into the top of his chest with a gentle smirk, before looking to the side at the bearded man once more, gentle glee to his dark features. "Plausible deniability." He stated simply. Alluding to the fact that in their line of work the omission of a truth was not considered a lie, but rather a shaping of reality. Potentially something he shared with his wife's convictions. Only that he could distinguish still between a professional lie and a personal one.

"What about you, then?" he turned the whole thing around. "I assume it would be a lot harder to account for weeks away on guerilla warfare, than a quick twenty-four hour rescue mission." he winked playfully ... teasingly.
  • Last Edit: April 17, 2021, 11:11:26 AM by stardust

Re: [2374] Operation 'Spark' - Betazed
Reply #51
[ Lt. Andrew Fisher | Codename: Bishop | Rena Resistance Bivouac | Dalaria City | Betazed ] Attn: @stardust

"Yeah. Gotta have at least that." He quietly repeated Brody's words, leaning up against an exposed stanchion beam as it was jutting out from the crumbling façade.

Peering out past his fellow covert operative, there was a weariness clearly evident within the corners of Fisher's sage green-eyes. It was the look of a man that had seen far too much sorrow in far too short a time. It was the look of a man who had wanted to make a change in his life but hadn't yet found the internal wherewithal. The fact that Brody had, made Fisher envious of him, because he could see a hint of reverent peace in the other man's face, no doubt a reward of having made said transition. He had every reason to champion that sense of reverence, because as he'd attested, he'd had someone waiting for him back home. A someone he loved, who loved him, and whom he could find meaning in as he went on in life. For Fisher, that loved one had since passed, her death a result of his inability to stop and turn back before it was too late. Sadly, this wasn't a new revelation for Fisher, who had been struggling with the role he'd played in Nassyra's death ever since. The guilt he felt, had fueled him into volunteering for this suicide mission, and had driven him into acting without any thought for his own safety for well-being.

He had decided he'd die a spy as some kind of punishment for having failed to become something else while it still mattered.

"First Officer, eh?" he raised one of his thick eyebrows slightly higher than the other out of curiosity as a wry little smirk crossed his face. "Guess that means you carry the rank of at least Lieutenant Commander. Means I'm guilty of insubordination of a superior officer." His attempt at levity, the tried-and-true defense mechanism hard at work, did little to assuage him in the moment. All the same, he did his best to not let onto the deeper thoughts running through his mind, calling on his most practiced poker face to protect him from being detected. Yet the allusion to Fisher's own need for an excuse with regard to a someone who might be waiting for him, caught him a little off-guard, as while he should have expected some kind of a reciprocating inspection, he hadn't. Glancing back at Brody as the man winked with a semblance of playful teasing, Fisher wondered how he might approach the subject, and whether or not to obfuscate rather than be truthful. He had no way of knowing if Brody was being genuine, or if he was simply trying to batter down any defensive walls which Fisher had put up, a cunning attempt to coerce him into being more cooperative.

His gaze still partially transfixed on Brody, Fisher manifested a series of words right up unto the very periphery of his consciousness; words which were ready to be transformed from mere thought to audible verbalization, but he didn't formulate a single syllable. Instead, he remained deliberately silent as the will to speak just wasn't with him, only a long exhale escaping from flared nostrils as he shifted his gaze back to the apocalyptic scene all around them. Part of him had wished to warn Brody against making the same mistakes which Fisher had, to take what he had and cherish it while he still could, but he wouldn't. It wasn't his place, and he doubted the other man would even lend much credence to the advice of someone who was as broken as Fisher. Another part of him wanted to bear his soul and lay it all out there, to alleviate the tension and anguish which was still harbored deep within, but he couldn't. No, Fisher knew that he needed to feel what he still could regardless of how painful it was, because while it drove him to be reckless, it also drove him to be the ultra-effective weapon and tool which could better serve Starfleet and the Federation. It was his abandon of self-concern which may as well have removed any sense of fear that had previously held him back from making the kind of insanely dangerous and fool-hearty plays that others would never have even considered.

It gave him an edge, but it also meant that his survival was heavily based on luck.

Lightning soon flashed overhead again, accompanied a second later by the clap of thunder and the soft pitter-patter of rain as it began to fall. The reprieve was at an end and the storm had returned. Reaching for the bottle of whisky, Fisher threw back another quick swig as he shifted his weight until he'd leant with his back against the stanchion, casting a head on gaze toward Brody. "I imagine Nass would have liked you." He finally admitted, deciding to embrace the moment, at least in a manner which wouldn't entirely unseal the tap attached to the black hole in his chest. "Hell, she'd probably be screaming at me to just go along with you. To get as far away from here and the front lines as I can." Tilting the pate of his head to the right as his eyes narrowed, he felt the sting of droplets as they sprayed against his cheek by the gradually building wind. "If she were here." The defiant  tone of his voice making it abundantly clear why she wasn't without having to necessarily spell it out. There was also a hint of challenge in Fisher's voice, as though he knew where things were leading toward, and that he wouldn't back down from the promise he had previously made.

"As far as I'm concerned, until that fucking thing is gone, I'm not going anywhere." Throwing back a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the Dominion Battlecruiser still hovering over the city, he sought to reiterate his point just in case it had been lost in their short moment of sentimentality.

Fisher had grown to respect, and even to a degree, understand Brody. There were clear parallels between the two spies, having even come from the same training tree, but they still had different concepts as to what they were supposed to be doing. Well, more so they had different understanding of what Fisher was supposed to be doing. Sure, Brody was acting under orders from Anderson to bring Fisher back, which meant that Fisher's own orders were quite clear, but when he'd volunteered for this suicide mission, he had done so with the understanding that it would only end in either victory or death. Anything else had meant a failure on his part, and he'd been through more than enough of those in recency. "Your shuttle is due overhead soon, and as it is, I still have no intention of going with you." Holding out a hand as if to pre-empt any immediate retorts, Fisher knew he at least owed Brody a modicum of compromise for having been as lenient with fulfilling his mission parameters as was possible. "But... now that we've hijacked the signal jammers, we might be able to get a secure subspace line with Anderson." Taking a deep breath, because he knew he could ultimately regret the offer he was about to make, he decided to press on anyway. "If he still wants you to bring me in, I'll go. No resisting. Hell, I'll even shut up during the trip back."

Knowing there was an unspoken scenario left undefined by what he was just outlined, he looked around their immediate confines. "...and if we can't get a line, then you and I can have it out however, wherever you'd like."

"That's the best I can do."
Writer of
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Chief Intelligence Officer | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]
[ Lt. JG Kate Foster | Chief Surgeon | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]

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Re: [2374] Operation 'Spark' - Betazed
Reply #52
[ Cmdr. Brody Miller | Codename: Mason | Rena Resistance Bivouac | Dalaria City | Betazed ] Attn: @Swift
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When thinking of how getting married had changed his life, Brody would freely dive into the more superficial waters of complaining about the etiquette and romanticized notions imposed upon him by his wife. But if he were to hold his breath, go under and take the time to dive deeper into the darker hues of his character, he'd find the colorful, glowing creatures of the deep that more partly described the change he'd gone through. No, the change that had shaped him like the very stones dotting the floor of this ethereal ocean. Grinding him down in a swifter notion, however, than eons of back and forth against one another.

Though there had certainly been a lot of rubbing against one another ... no doubt.

But deep down he'd find the kind of calm and perspective that only caring for someone else more than about yourself could impose. The kind of purpose that let you coast along on rose-colored clouds when everything was going well and then throw all countenance overboard when protectiveness kicked in at the cusp of things going bad. And while he would've attested to probably being far more level-headed before ever meeting Samantha, he couldn't deny how much he loved the feeling of being grounded to the heavenly shores of marriage. How the good times they had shared so far measured way more than the years and years that had preceded it. A notion that did not dare fathom a world beyond this sensation, a life without, once taken a sip of the ambrosia that was true love.

As sappy as that all sounded, Brody was starkly aware of the reality surrounding his little kingdom, and the dangers lurking there. More so in this very moment, since coming to Betazed. Ever since diving deeper into the dark blue of Bishop's character, finding a lifeless abyss with the carcasses of happy memories littered around like testaments of death and resignation. It wasn't a world he enjoyed exploring.

Tilting his head to give the man a quizzical, albeit amused look, Brody shook his pate lightly at the insolence and playfully naïve demeanor of his partner in crime. "Among other things ..." he replied calmly. Surely Bishop could remember all the way back when he'd first defied a direct order. One from an even higher rank than Lieutenant Commander. Even on the matter of direct insubordination, one could argue there had been more instances than one, in this past day alone. But he was willing to exact a blanket court martial on all of that. If only for the more agreeable accord they had struck as of recent. Because if he'd learned one thing, then that the bearded man would only leave this planet in one of two ways: Limp as a fish, or by his own volition. And at this point in his career, he rather no carry anymore soldiers out.

But he would ...

"Smart gal." he added quietly, returning his dark eyes to the cityscape beyond, taking a moment to contemplate the implications and revelations of the tidbits relayed. All the dead remains at the pit of his soul and the erratic shadows in his every decision. "See ..." Brody started out, turning back to the man with a somewhat curious stance across his face. "... despite my wife not being here, I'd still heed her opinions. Because in the end, time and space is just an idea, if you think about it. No matter what separates you, doesn't invalidate your feelings, or hers. So, what's keeping you from taking her advice?"

Sure, he understood that he was talking about a dead woman here. But in the grander scheme, what difference did it make if his significant other was on a starship somewhere or, a realm away a little further. He wasn't some soulless ghoul, who didn't know any motivation but duty and righteousness. He had all these memories and references to a better life, it seemed, yet chose to torture himself with defiance of everything he once held dear, in some sort of sick ploy to self-punishment. That much had been evident from the first time he'd thrown himself on a grenade or ran headfirst into a wall of enemies.

Clearly the only saving grace in Bishop's existence was the fact that fate seemed to have other plans. And despite not knowing how many times that would right his wrongs, he went right ahead and ignored his sheer luck again and again.

Letting out a disgruntled sigh Brody shook his pate into a submissive stance, half hanging between his broad shoulders, eyes transfixed to the rubble beneath. "Not to rub it in or anything, though. But I recall at least two instances in the past day alone that could've had you taking the swan dive to eternity while that thing wouldn't even have noticed." And what good would that sacrifice have done? At least Brighton's had a sense of meaning, because it hadn't been born out of stupid heroism, but necessity.

However, Brody was not above that pesky sense of diplomacy, his wife had instilled upon him, and Bishop just happened to have to meet him halfway, as his body hovered within inches of his own so he could almost feel the heat radiating off the man's muscles. Or just the sentiment of it. And the sensation wasn't alleviated by his questionable choice of words either. Instead, it made his skin burn slightly with the sting of second-hand embarrassment. Or was it a different kind of excitement? Either way, the value of his inability to blush could not be overstated right now.

"So, what's the plan then, until then?" he mused, as if tot ake the olive branch extended into consideration. "I am not going to have it out with you until you've had a shower, that's for sure."
  • Last Edit: June 02, 2021, 07:17:45 PM by stardust

Re: [2374] Operation 'Spark' - Betazed
Reply #53
[ Lt. Andrew Fisher | Codename: Bishop | Rena Resistance Bivouac | Dalaria City | Betazed ] Attn: @stardust

Casting a somewhat wry glance at the other man as he pointed out the reality regarding the Jem'Hadar Battlecruiser hovering in the distance, Fisher understood that in the grand scheme of things his stubborn persistence in seeing it gone made him seem like a madman, stuck in his ways until they would ultimately consume him. But what Brody hadn't factored into the equation, was that when Fisher had accepted this suicide mission, he had been explicitly instructed that there would be no early retreat, or any retreat at all for that matter. The mission would either succeed, and Betazed would be liberated by the Federation and its allies, or the mission would fail, and he and all the other volunteers would have perished in the fight. Sure, the fatalism of Operation 'Spark' was something that had naturally attracted someone in the kind of precarious mental state within which he had been mired ever since Nass had bled out in his arms, but Fisher still very much preferred victory to defeat. And despite all of the pain, anguish, and regret which besieged his emotional senses, he wasn't totally without the will to keep going.

However, as he let Brody's words seep into his conscious thought, breaking them down and the meanings hidden within them, he couldn't escape the inherent truth that the man was espousing, perhaps without even intending to. Whether or not Nassyra was still living, meant little when it came to what she would have wanted for him. If anything, her death, which he believed had come as a direct result of his inability to abandon a mission and his sense of duty, only exacerbated the internal conflict raging in his mind.

"You're not wrong." He admitted, somewhat begrudgingly, but all the same.

Crossing his arms over his chest he allowed himself a moment wherein he genuine wondered if maybe it was time to give this up. If he had done his part well enough, and that he could finally return behind the lines to recuperate and regather himself. It was an alluring premise, for sure. Every part of Fisher's body had grown weary over the long haul of two-weeks of hard fighting. His conscious thought a veritable raging torrent of mixed emotions that could have kept the most talented of Counseling Officers occupied for months on end. Doubt began to creep forward into the forefront of his thoughts now, stirred by Brody from where it had been nestled away at the back, and the sage-eyed bearded man began to imagine himself back home in Boston for a respite from all of this. A chance to try and heal the myriad wounds of his body and soul, restoring himself so that he might be a better soldier once more, and more importantly a better man.

Yet the moment it had all started to feel like it was the right thing for him to do, his attention came snapping back from the precipice of where Brody had placed him as the sound of atmospheric turbulence shrieked and howled high overhead.

"They're here! They found us!" announced Ebirone as he came charging up the stairwell that led down into the main level of the bivouac.

Shooting a look of concern at Brody, Fisher then stormed off past the big Betazed and descended the stairs in a hurry. Behind him he could hear Ebirone hot on his heels, and when he reached the staging-area he saw Sariah corralling her people into action. "How the hell did they track us?! Why didn't our sensor grid pick them up?!" she shouted at Christine who was nearby, hastily running her hands over a console in an attempt to understand. All about and around them, the panicked and scared people who couldn't fight were gathering up what little personal affects they could, while the blue-skinned Betrull hustled to divvy out weapons to whomever was sturdy enough to carry one. From behind, Ebirone patted Fisher on his shoulder and offered him a primed Jem'Hadar disruptor, which he accepted.

"I don't know! The sensor grid is functioning! It just didn't detect them for some reason!" Christine shouted back.

"Never mind that! We need to get these people into the escape tunnels. Now!" Ebirone retorted.

Nodding in succinct agreement, Fisher began pushing his way through the panicked people toward the escape trunk that would feed down into the tunnels beneath the old building. "C'mon!" he called after Brody, very much in need of the sort of hand he could offer. "Move! Move out of the way!" he shouted at the crowd, most of which was too panicked to even notice his voice calling out them. Soon the ground and everything around them shook with a visceral tremor, and for an instant the spy figured the building about to collapse unto him and everyone else. The people cried out in terror as the walls rumbled, and dust particles fell from the ceiling rafters above them.

"Bombardment?!" blurted out Betrull.

"No! If it was a bombardment, we've have been crushed already." Fisher replied, peering back at the Bolian.

"Then what was that?!"

"Landing." Fisher answered simply. "They're probably setting up a perimeter." He added.

"We need to go!" Sariah commanded, and Fisher acknowledged with a nod.

"Wait!" cried out another voice. "They won't kill anyone so long as we don't run!" explained Aatrah with an alarming reasoning hidden in his voice. "If we drop our weapons, and give up, they promised they wouldn't kill anyone!" The young Betazed cast the gaze of his black-eyes from his sister, to Ebirone, and lastly to Fisher and Brody.

"What... how... what do you mean, they promised? What're you talking about, kid?" Ebirone approached where Aatrah stood.

The silence that persisted from Fisher and from Sariah spoke to the realization that they'd already had, which Ebirone didn't want to himself have out of some sense of heartbreaking disappointment that his pseudo-adopted little brother could have made such a monumental mistake. "We don't have time for this, we need to get into the tunnels!" Fisher sought to re-clarify the necessity of escape, knowing they had precious few moments to get moving before the Jem'Hadar would overrun the bivouac. He had already understood what was happening and knew that any arrangement that had been made would never be kept in earnest by the Dominion. He just knew that dealing with who had done what was nothing more than a distraction, and that the paramount need to get everyone out was just that.

"No! Don't! Ebb! I swear, they said they wouldn't hurt anyone if we didn't run! Please!?" Aatrah pleaded, holding out his hands to both Ebirone, hoping that his sister would intervene on his behalf. "Sar... please! They only want them!" the young Rena pointed to Brody and Fisher, and then cast a sympathetic glace back to his sister who seemed stuck in her place.

Fisher heard what was said, but didn't react, having already assumed that he'd been offered up in some kind of an arrangement that the younger Rena had struck.
Writer of
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Chief Intelligence Officer | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]
[ Lt. JG Kate Foster | Chief Surgeon | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]

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Re: [2374] Operation 'Spark' - Betazed
Reply #54
[ Cmdr. Brody Miller | Codename: Mason | Rena Resistance Bivouac | Dalaria City | Betazed ] Attn: @Swift
[Show/Hide]

In the grander scheme of things, Brody hoped that Bishop didn't think him to be a pessimist. Someone who didn't believe one person could make a difference. Because that was not the truth and would've presented him in a light he didn't care for. As a matter of fact, he was more than convinced that one person alone could tip the scales of time. And there had been many instances of that happening in the past. But self-sacrifice wasn't some sort of buff, that you could use every time you needed a leg up, it was a rather definitive last-ditch effort to success. And if that didn't work, then that was it. No second chance. It was all for nothing.

So maybe that was where their views differed, in the matter of grandeur in which that last impact should be going down. The innate certainty with which success had to be implicated, for the man to even consider that path. Not to diminish the bearded man's life and value thereof, but Brody wasn't willing to throw his away, just at the off chance of also leaving a mark, while merely numbing the pain and guilt, primarily. He couldn't say for sure at this point, of course, but he had a feeling that if he was to give his life in the line of duty, somewhere down the line, it would be meaningful and remembered.

But there was also the fifty-fifty chance he'd simply slip in the shower someday.

And while it surely would've mattered to his wife, to be able to get reassurance over talking sense into someone, rallying them to her cause, it wasn't so much for the Commander. He nodded gladly, at Bishop's agreement, figuring it was a pledge towards considering his own mortality an advantage worth holding on to, from now on. Which was good enough for him. Of course, he still didn't have an illusion that Bishop would simply give up his crusade simply for him striking a nerve and making some sense. The overall situation hadn't changed that much, considering how many times they risked their lives the past hours, and there obviously still needed to be some kind of resolution for the operative to leave this planet in any state but being tranquilized.

For the first time, in all this time, Brody could feel like he had developed a kind of understanding over the man and his psyche. And he felt like that feeling was mutual. Tracking the guy's sage colored eyes with his dark orbs, as they fell to the floor in contemplation once more, he wondered - if only for a moment - what their relationship would've been like fi they had met under different circumstances. Maybe years ago, when he still was in this game full-time too. When they both were still idealistic do-gooders under the spell of duty and the grander scheme. He imagined they would've been quite similar in character then. And had they been on a similar mission then - considering how close they'd grown over this short term despite both being these closed-off, pessimistic selves - he could only imagine how their relationship would've developed in the hot, narrow and moist trenches of a war.

But all those hypothetical went out the window literally with a bang ... or the hole in the rubble, for that matter, as Ebirone's voice echoed up the small staircase leading to the hideout, bellowing like trumpets. Shooting up from his seat, Brody's limbs tensioned, and his hands clenched around the imaginary grip of his rifle. Where was his rifle?! Looking back at Bishop, as if trying to squeeze a last token of reassurance from the man that this was not just some misguided cock-blocking attempt, the operative quickly dashed over to his backpack and weapon, getting himself into shipshape on their way down the narrow stairs.

The hideout was abuzz with the frantic civilians that pooled out of their caves and corners like ants being alerted by the pheromones of their soldiers. The whole hive was in communal uproar and it was making it hard for those who could actually make a difference to get coordinated. Bishop's outcries and commands fell on deaf ears, plucked with the wool of panic. Taking a skeptical look at the new cracks forming, in the already fractured debris around them, Brody had to agree with the man. They were probably being surrounded as they spoke. Simply going with the flow for now, as the guerilla leadership seemed to have some sort of plan, which involved their whole posse - and not just Fisher - to get to safety, he was going to roll with that. As long as it didn't directly contradict his own mission.

But then the bomb went off, figuratively, as the youngest began to speak. His mind instantly went to that dark place that everyone still skirted around simply because this was basically just a kid, that had sold them out. Still, his body couldn't resist the urge to move forward menacingly but stopping himself a good bit before twisting the teenagers neck. If there was anyone, he'd be able to understand and forgive such a manipulation, however, it was Aatrah. His dark eyes still transfixed on the kid's counterparts, instilling an icy sensation of dread that would hit the empathetic boy to the core.  And he would've continued to reciprocate a feeling of guilt over what he'd done if Bishop hadn't intervened with a rather succinct assessment.

War tribunals were held when the war was won.

The specification over what was bargained for, however, prompted Brody to turn back and take a step forward that made the younger Betazoid flinch backwards half behind his sister. Thus his glance soon switched to her.

"You better get your brother in the tunnel, or I'll tie him down to that post, so he can figure out for himself how forgiving the Jem'Hadar really are." he told her, his voice low and menacing, leaving no doubt by now that he was capable of doing so. Surely some of his resentment for the idealistic woman with the tough exterior went into the venom of his words. Especially since treason had struck so close to her.

Ushering the pair past him, following the flow of civilians to the escape tunnels, Brody cocked his rifle, marking out the last passage on their way they could dig into, in order to give the caravan a head start. Unsurprisingly, Fisher and Ebirone seemed to be with him.

"I hope you didn't think this was going to grant you an extension." he told the other operative, against the doorway they were taking cover behind. A gentle glimmer of mischievousness to his dark features.

"I give you ten minutes, not a second more." Brody added, bringing his rifle up and turning the scope on so he could scan the adjacent passage for cloaked assailants. Ten minutes for the refugees to get the fuck out of there. Ten minutes for Bishop to make up his mind.

And he better came up with a damn fucking good plan to wrap this mess up.

Re: [2374] Operation 'Spark' - Betazed
Reply #55
[ Lt. Andrew Fisher | Codename: Bishop | Rena Resistance Bivouac | Dalaria City | Betazed ] Attn: @stardust

All about and around him, people scrambled for their lives as Bishop listened to the exchange being had between confused resistance fighters.

There had been a few instances throughout Fisher's recent, somewhat checkered past wherein he would have been more than pleased to have been the one to have stirred up such a sentiment of disarray and panic among people of this sort; refugees, civilians, the general innocent victims who had found themselves sadly caught in the midst of a most dangerous game of chess know as war. Playing off of the sensitive heartstrings of your opponent's populace in order to deter a willingness to carry on against you, was a tried-and-true method of sabotage in which he had a surprising knack for. Sure, to an extent he had felt some sense of empathy for those he had manipulated and had at times even regretted his actions in eliciting the kind of terror, which was necessary to a mission's success, but he had always considered it to be within his particular zone of morality. He had seen it as bending or blurring the lines of what the Federation would have condoned or allowed their operatives to undertake in the name of peace and prosperity; acceptable as it didn't outright tread over them.

But here and now, as he could see the look of uncertainty; of absolute weariness and dread in the faces of all these poor stricken refugees whom he had been trying to protect and save for the previous two weeks, it began to dawn on him that maybe the ends didn't truly justify the means.

In an instant, he even imagined Aatrah going through similar mental gymnastics and an attempt to try and make his betrayal seem a correct course of action to have taken. After all, he hadn't explicitly sold out his friends or loved ones. In a way, he was acting as any civilian might have in trying to exclude themselves from a conflict being waged by two combatants. It mattered not that one of them was technically fighting on behalf of those civilians and their right to live free, while the other was actively seeking to subjugate and oppress them. All that really mattered to the young Rena, was the lives of his friends and family; was saving as many of his people as he possibly could, even if it meant bending the rules. It surely didn't help matters, that Bishop and Mason were nothing more than a pair of spies to the young lad; literal trained assassins and infiltrators who hadn't even revealed their real names during their time planet side. They were outsiders, not even to be misconstrued with the other members of Starfleet that had also been fighting the Dominion. No, Betrull, Christine, and Ebirone had been honest about who they were from the very beginning and had no reason to be duplicitous in their dealings.

Again, for an instant Fisher could even imagine a conniving Vorta explaining it all in plain English to the misguided youth via whatever backend communication channel they had managed to establish without his, or anyone else's knowledge.

Digressing back the thought, just as Mason had also been so inclined, the matter could wait till later to be more fully resolved. For now, they needed to move, and move quick if they were going to have any chance at all of surviving this latest in a long line of catastrophes. "Through the tunnel! Keep going! Remember our drills, and you'll be fine!" Fisher shouted over the commotion, his voice accented by another rumble of the structure above, dust slipping free from the old cracks wherein it had lay dormant since the initial bombardment of Betazed. A smattering of yelping and cries followed, yet the flow of the helpless out of their various hiding spots continued to progress in earnest. They had no idea how long it would take for the Jem'Hadar to begin storming into the emptying bivouac from the primary entrances that led up into the destroyed structure above. Minutes would be preferable to seconds, Fisher thought as he pushed a pair of panicked men past him to keep the way clear for any suppressing fire he might need to lay down. Ahead of his, he saw Mason trying to speed things up, similarly attempting to shove people past him toward the tunnel entrance.

"Chris! Get down there ahead of us, and make sure they're following the right path!" Fisher ordered, sensing the need to give instructions since both Sariah and Ebirone had gone silent in the wake of their world being metaphorically destroyed.

"I wouldn't dream it!" he soon answered his fellow spy, giving him a stern yet wholly understanding nod.

What an absolute mess this had turned out to be. Probably worse than the other Operative could have envisioned when given his orders to come and extract Fisher, and it triggered within the bearded man something of a second guess regarding his decision to stay. Maybe his being here; his very presence was well past prudence, and it was indeed time to call it a complete mission and move on. Would the Rena Resistance have been as effective in their efforts to undermine the Dominion occupation? Probably not, but they also would have been far less of a target for the Jem'Hadar. Maybe, instead of a mission of sabotage, they would have been better served by only keeping and caring after the displaced refugees that were now mired in a most dangerous position. Fisher's presence had put them in danger. It had turned something small, and insignificant into something that had warranted the close attention of an enemy which would show no hesitance in killing any and all involved. As had been the past, his actions, and the actions of Starfleet Intelligence had put the people they were to serve in the direct path of harm.

"No!" a voice blurted out.

Turning back to where it emanated among the sounds of rumbling concrete and shuffling feet, Fisher saw Aatrah standing just feet from his sister with a frustrated and defiant look in his face; tears streaming down both cheeks. There was an obvious pleading to his expression, mixed with an apologetic incredulousness that struck right to the very core of the spy's heart.

"I won't... I won't let you! I can't!" he screamed, a desperate creak to his throat as a cacophonous boom reverberated through the concrete structure all around them.

This situation was hastily degrading to the point of an impasse, and Fisher silent prayed that neither he nor Mason would need to be the one to force beyond it. Sage green eyes began to dilate in realization of what such a boom signaled; the Dominion had blown something away with explosives, meaning they were close, if not immediately about to breach the bivouac.

"We absolutely don't have time for this!" hollered Fisher.

"Sar! Please! They said they'd--" whatever else the young traitor had been about to say was cut short as heavy footsteps encroached from the south entrance, an echoing drumbeat which cut right through any and all quarrels which might have previously been at play, accentuated by the sudden high-pitched staccato of voluminous disruptor fire that caught several unfortunate souls as they were scurrying for the escape tunnel.

Immediately, synapses fired in Fisher's trained brain, forcing muscles and tendons to constrict in such a manner that his body spun round, a pistol raising to the level of his shoulder, returning fire with utter alacrity. It was an autonomic action, allowed to proceed as any fuses for self-preservation had long since burned out from stress and loss. The only thing that mattered in the minute, was sustaining a suppressive wave of superior firepower on the enemy so that any remaining friends and allies could try and escape a foul fate at the hands of their enemy. As had been the case in every engagement he'd ever been through, the passage of time seemed to speed up and slow down at the same time, a contradiction of reality that only those who had been in such a fight could have ever understood. With steady strides, he moved not for the tunnel to escape, but rather to where the Jem'Hadar were trying to breach, his weapon cycling as quickly as it possibly could, yet not fast enough to meet the demand of his finger against it's actuator. All around him, the world seemed to grow dim and silent, an unnatural echo to that which he could discernably hear, as his mind was hyper-focused on the task at hand.

Soon enough the weapons fire ceased, a pile of five dead Jem'Hadar lay crumpled at the base of the stairwell that had led in, their bodies dotted with blue glowing holes that had been blown clean through their abdomens, a steady pool of violet blood forming on the concrete flooring beneath them. The tide of their enemy had stymied for just a moment, but the bottleneck wouldn't hold forever, or for more than just a few seconds. Fisher knew that shock grenades would come prior to the inevitable second wave, and that any chance of defending was a futile one given the inexhaustible numbers their enemy likely had to throw at them.

"No, no, no!" he heard a frantic voice, assuming it to be one of the friends of family members of the poor victims that had just been shot dead.

"No! Shit, no!" exclaimed a baritone counterpart which Fisher recognized instantly.

Allowing his sharp focus on the entryway to wane out of curiosity, and aware that Mason likely had just as keen an eye on the situation, he peered back over a shoulder to ascertain what it was that Ebirone was reacting to. It didn't take but an instant for the realization to hit him.

"Sar! Sar! No! Sar!" sobbed Aatrah as he clung to his sister, cradling her in his arms as she lay slumped over on the floor, a blank look in her unmoving eyes as the front left side of her forehead was singed by an apparent disruptor bolt that had struck her. In the commotion, she had gone to grab her brother; to try and shield him from the attack, and in doing so had taken a shot meant for him. "Please! You have to help! Please!" the kid frantically looked back and forth from Ebirone to his dead sister, clinging unto her out of a desperate need to hold onto the hope that she could make it. Ebirone could only down on the scene in horror and sadness, his hands barely able to grasp his disruptor rifle, yet he understood the situation, and how there was no time or moment that they could spend dwelling on the dead, regardless of who they had been. Gruffly, he reached down to grab Aatrah by his shoulders, hefting him to his feet, allowing the elder Rena's body to come to a complete rest on the floor. The kid tried to fight against his friend, to try and grab for his sister, but he couldn't muster the strength to overwhelm the bigger Betazoid.

"She's gone. She's gone! We have to go!" Ebirone explained, pulling Aatrah with him as he made for the tunnel.

Watching it all unfold for him, Fisher could recognize and even understand the pain that Aatrah was feeling; having lost sibling of his own, yet he couldn't imagine the implicit guilt the boy would have felt for having so directly caused his sister's death. With a sigh, he caught glimpse of Mason for just a split second before he too reached out to grab at a grieving refugee, beckoning them to move. "Come on. We can't stay any longer. Come on!" he said softly to a woman, clinging to what he could only assume to be her dead husband. Once more, he tried to mask the gratitude he was feeling in that he wasn't an Empath, as he knew the shared turmoil of these poor people must have been damn near overwhelming. He was fortunate to have been so jaded; so stonewalled to the world in this particular moment, and he thanked fate for it. Better to feel nothing, than to feel the kind of ache these people were experiencing.

The woman moving on after Ebirone, who himself was effectively carrying an inconsolable Aatrah, Fisher stepped closer to where Sariah's body was left. He would speak highly of her in whatever report he'd write to summarize his time on Betazed, even if he and her had never once had a moment of mutual respect and understanding. She had only ever acted in what she thought was the best interests of her people and had sadly paid dearly for it.

"Let's get out of here." He said softly, once more looking back to Mason before stepping to the tunnel.
Writer of
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Chief Intelligence Officer | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]
[ Lt. JG Kate Foster | Chief Surgeon | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]

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Re: [2374] Operation 'Spark' - Betazed
Reply #56
[ Cmdr. Brody Miller | Codename: Mason | Rena Resistance Bivouac | Dalaria City | Betazed ] Attn: @Swift
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Watching the tides of beetles ebb and flow around him, breaking against the corners and protrusions of the intricate labyrinth, Bishop and him like rocks in the midst of it, Brody couldn't quite honestly say he felt any sense of impending doom over the situation. All that was transpiring over the course of this mission was - especially when taking into account the talents and proclivities of the other operative - only a matter of when, rather than if.

On a historic level, the notion of resistance was one with a checkered past. Some successes, many failures. But in the book of romanticized notions, it was a sentiment venerated by free spirits. A compulsion, born from a subjective sense of justice. And that was the far more dangerous conviction. Had he realized what his companion was thinking, how he viewed his involvement in the plight of these people, in almost retrospect, the Commander would've whole-heartedly agreed.

Leaving aside the fact that the man expanded the scope of his orders into some sort of personal crusade, he had inadvertently given the resistance something that was for more dangerous than even hope: reassurance.
Reassurance that this way was the right way. That fighting the unwinnable fight was better than sitting it out and letting fleets and - god forbid for him ever admitting this - diplomats doing the work. For while involving the civilian populous in the dangers of battle was a war crime in regards to the opponent, it implied a similar sense of judgment passed upon those who sought themselves defending what was right.

The danger to the people of Betazed after the initial occupation was debatable, the danger to those siding with the rebellion was factual. There was no benefit from sterilizing entire worlds, but there was from snuffing out the ambers that threatened your power. And this was exactly why people like Bishop - and who Brody HAD been - weren't tasked with acquainting themselves to the ramifications of politics and judgment. On a galactic scale that was wholly above their paygrade.

And a wonderful thing happened if you followed orders to the T: you could make peace at the sometimes illusory bosom of zero accountability. What was it one of his old instructors at the academy had said? You wouldn't judge the weapon, but the one who's wielding it. And that was who Bishop and he were ... or had been ... weapons.

But once again, the man's contemplations and justifications were interrupted by someone whining. Dark eyes shifting back to the recently discovered traitor in their midst, Brody had actually already come to peace with the fact, but Aatrah wasn't exactly helping by being so passionately persistent. And despite his clear instructions, his sister was little to no help either. So if she wasn't able to restrain the kid, he was more than willing to do so. Not lastly after Fisher reminded them that there was no time for this.

Letting the phrase 'No kidding!' wash non-verbally over his face, the man conceded.

But then the first batch of armadillo critters burst from the rodent hole leading towards the surface. A fact that - he had to admit - was happening as a slight surprise to the former operative. He'd actually figured they would have a little bit more time. And before he could actually do more than get a few targeted shots in, Bishop had taken care of the majority of them in that late 20th century action hero fashion only he could.

Pushing the tongue into his cheek over the steaming pile of bodies he still had to admit to the effectiveness of the crazy antics, this time, while their situation hadn't really improved. Save a zero point infinity drop in overall Dominion forces.

But just as they were about to finally be able and move on, the little puppy started yapping again.

"Can you finally take care of your ..." Brody barked out in a disgruntled twirl, turning back to the rest of the remaining patrons, only to stop mid-track at the sight of the younger Betazoid hunched over his sister's seemingly lifeless body. And while he had shared a great deal of indifference towards her, death was a judgment that had come far before her time. Undeservedly so.

Watching the hulking Betazoid take care of Aatrah closer and more personally that he could ever do, Brody bit back a silent sense of disillusion over the already dire outlook of the resistance's odds. For even though he did not share the mawkish sense of hope in their own weight against the overwhelming odds, he had developed an incontrovertible passion for them as people. People who had summoned, but not deserved, what was now coming for them.  Guilt was not on those defending their homes, but on those from off-world, bringing their intergalactic disagreement to the streets of Betazed.

Ultimately readjusting his backpack, slung over one shoulder for ease of access, the former operative pulled out one of the remaining grenades and set the trigger, before throwing it in a skilled curve up into the descending cavity, with the dead Jem'Hadar at its mouth. While the Rena had no further need for the passage leading into the compound, their opponents sure did. And counting on the already precarious state of the caverns and tunnels, it would take very little to seal the entrance.

Kicking up some dust, as his soles slid across the cracked ground while he started off towards the exit, a loud bang drowned up the resurgence of Jem'Hadar voices coming from the tunnel behind him. Followed by a blast of smoke and gravel, flying through the room. Almost sliding into the tunnel after Bishop, one of the larger beams acting as the roof of the cave, cracked and fell too, effectively making this a one-way trip for certain now. Settling into a corner close to the other man, as the wave of air and dust subsided around them, he let out a coughed-up breath, shaking some whisps of ground concrete from his Caesar cut.

Letting dark eyes on the bearded man's features for a moment, relating a notion caught between judgment and thought, Brody eventually squeezed past him to step into the clearing at the mouth of the escape route where Ebirone, Aatrah and Chris were waiting.

"So, what's the plan for you guys. What's the line of succession?" he asked succinctly, now more intent to get this whole mission over with than ever. One way or another.

"I guess he's out." He nodded at the younger Rena, in reference to his biological ties with the former leader.

"Where's your backup camp?" Brody intended to try it another way, hoping someone at least had a plan, so it wasn't up to Bishop or him to devise one. There was at least hope that with the sacrifice of Sariah they would just bunker down somewhere and let the pros do the work. But it was sadly highly likely that it would go the entirely different way. Especially if Bishops blind ambition had anything to say about it, he supposed.

Turning to look over his shoulder, back at the other officer, one brow cocked expectantly, he sure hoped the man would be able to make the right decision for everyone.

Re: [2374] Operation 'Spark' - Betazed
Reply #57
[ Lt. Andrew Fisher | Codename: Bishop | Rena Resistance Bivouac | Dalaria City | Betazed ] Attn: @stardust


Old masonry tiles laid down centuries before, that had barely clung to the lining of these sewers throughout that time now finally slipped free from their bonding in chain-reaction to the reverberating report of explosives left in the wake of this hasty evacuation. The Bivouac. Sariah Rena. Nearly a half-dozen others. All left behind, and only uncertainty awaited them and this fledgling resistance movement. In a veritable blink of an eye, the bitter-sweetness of a hard-fought victory over the Dominion had turned utterly and completely sour. Suddenly, it was becoming clear that any and all desperate hopes which Fisher might have previously held onto regarding the fate of these people, and their courageous efforts to turn back the tide were gone. They had been wiped away by desperation which not only rivaled, but far outmatched his own. A desperation born of an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, and worse, helplessness. It was a sentiment civilians championed out of inexperience, naivety, and ignorance. A sentiment he'd seen before; he'd even capitalized on it before, and now it had come full circle to bite him and everyone else in their asses. Fisher knew he should have been wary of it, but he had allowed himself and his better judgement to be blinded.

'War isn't a game for civilians. You think a soldier who's been cornered or surrounded by a mortal enemy is a dangerous animal? Try taming a helpless and war-torn parent, who's watched as their child has starved for days on end. No. It's not us that are the real threat in a conflict. It's them. All of them, and how they cling onto something as ludicrous as hope for a better tomorrow.' Hurley's advisement at the dawn of a prior undercover operation Fisher had been on came to the forefront of his thoughts as he stepped down past a few terrified refugees as they were holding onto each other for support. The man was an absolute prick. The kind of person that you wanted to forget the moment he left your presence, but his teachings and guidance had been instrumental in Fisher's life as a spy, and what was troubling, was how often his cynical words and warnings proved prudent. 'I'm telling you. It's that hope that will drive them to do great and horrible things. Drive them to compromise who they are today, for the promise of maybe being better tomorrow.' The sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach reminded Fisher just how much he hated Hurley as he approached the front of the pack.

Christine and Betrull were knelt over, checking a diagram of the sewer tunnel network, re-familiarizing themselves with the best path to take. Normally, Sariah and Ebirone would have taken the lead, but neither seemed to be in any kind of shape to do that. The big Betazed hadn't said a word since everything took a left turn, standing with a blank look on his face as he held a still inconsolable Aatrah by both arms.

"Okay! We've got our route. I think." Announced Christine as she stood, unslung her rifle, and approached Ebirone and Aatrah.

Peering back to Mason, Fisher gave him a simple and almost entirely imperceptible nod that only another spy would've picked up on. The gesture spoke volumes about the state of mind Fisher was in and signaled a moment to sidebar with his compatriot. Given how deeply buried they all were now, there was no imminent threat from the Jem'Hadar above, as the very reason they had chosen this place for their operating bivouac was this old sewer system and the logistics nightmare it represented to anyone trying to navigate it without any fore-knowledge. The only method which would provide immediate results, bombarding the entirety of the area until it was little more than a deep crater, was one the Vorta wouldn't allow the Jem'Hadar to take. No, the allure of capturing two Starfleet spies alive would ironically give Fisher, Brody, and the rest of the surviving resistance members their chance to slip away. Still, Fisher had his doubts as to just how safe their journey ahead would actually be, there were only so many winding sewers to get lost in, and there were thousands of Jem'Hadar to funnel into them in the hope that some might find the prize.

Stepping over and away from an earshot of anyone else as Christine began going about trying to ready everyone for travel, Fisher sighed heavily as he checked the status on his rifle instinctively. "Here's the deal. You and I aren't any good to these people... at least, not anymore." He added the qualifier an instant later, as though he was still trying to convince himself that his initial mission had done some good. "These sewers are, for the most part, relatively safe and secure. They should allow everyone to get away from here and hunker down somewhere until they can make contact with another resistance cell." There was an obvious tone in Fisher's voice, which betrayed a newly developed sense of disproval at the idea of any of them continuing the fight elsewhere. "You've definitely worn out any kind of a welcome at this point, and the same goes double for me I imagine." In truth, Fisher could envision a sense of resentment and anger being directed at both him and Brody, as misguided and misplaced it might have been. To these battered people, it was just as much the fault of these Starfleet spies that things had gone so bad so quickly, and in such desperate times people often needed someone to blame.

"Chances are the allure of tomorrow in exchange for you and me will spread now that the idea is out there." He neglected to add how much he sympathized with such a shared sentiment, given all that these people had been through. "But Ebirone. Christine. Betrull. These people trust them. Believe in them. Everything bad that we represent, disappears when we disappear. I get that now." It was clear that Fisher was trying to convince himself, more than he was Brody or anyone else at this point. "So you've got me." He glanced back at Ebirone and Christine as they embraced each other, the former seemingly having gotten through to the former finally, and Betrull having replaced the big Betazed as the one to comfort and console the grieving Aatrah. "On one condition." Fisher added, a sudden spark coming to mind as though he had re-discovered some kind of a reason for his presence on Betazed. "We lead the Dominion on. Get them to follow us out of here, and as far away from them as possible. Once we're clear, we can beam to your shuttle, and you can complete your orders." Sage green eyes now shifted back to Brody, knowing that he was again asking a lot of the man, but there was a pleading to his facial expression as he hoped to elicit something as close to a positive affirmation as possible from the fellow spy.

Before he could get a response though, Ebirone stepped closer, rifle held tightly in his big hands as he looked to both Fisher and Brody in turn. "We're ready to get moving." To say there was an added seriousness and air of confidence to the big man's voice would have been an understatement, but there was something more that a seasoned poker-player could pick up on, hiding just beneath the surface of his expression. "I'm sorry about what happened back there. About what Aatrah did. About what he tried to do, to you. Both of you. I should have seen it coming." Fisher was about to interrupt and reassure the man that there was plenty of fault to go around for not having seen what was going on, but Ebirone continued before he could. "I won't let something like it happen again. It's my job now. My time to lead these people. She would've wanted it that way." It was true, that the elder Rena sibling had expressed a trust in Ebirone that went beyond the normal constrains of acquaintance, or even friend. No, Ebirone was every bit the big brother that Sariah and Aatrah never had, and it would fall to him to pick up the mantle of responsibility now that it had slipped from her shoulders.

Digressing back to the point, he shook any sentimental thoughts from his mind and looked to the two spies once more. "Are you two ready to go?"

Fisher looked to Brody for a determination on the matter.
Writer of
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Chief Intelligence Officer | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]
[ Lt. JG Kate Foster | Chief Surgeon | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]

  • stardust
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Re: [2374] Operation 'Spark' - Betazed
Reply #58
[ Cmdr. Brody Miller | Codename: Mason | Rena Resistance Bivouac | Dalaria City | Betazed ] Attn: @Swift
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If it came down to it, Brody thought, there wasn't really a separation that could be made between soldiers and civilians, as much as the distinction of colloquial terms suggested. There were civilians who could fill the role of a soldier more passionately and befittingly than any trained professional. Because it was not the training and skill required to fight, but the profound detachment from the individual struggle, that defined the perfect warrior. The need to rise above the ramification of immediate action, such as snuffing out a potential father, brother or husband, potentially an entire bloodline, with one random shot. Condensing an entire history into one bolt of superheated plasma. Those who weren't capable of doing that, where the real threat to victory. A determination Bishop himself was - at times - teetering dangerously close to fulfilling. His pitfall wasn't the lack of proper training and psychological conditioning, but the personification of the war into each and every one of these individuals. For the fight was not won with all the little victories, individual lives saved, but the commitment to the grander cause, at all costs. A distinction at which the two men greatly differed.

A thousand cells like the Rena, spread across the planet, could not rival the combined power of the fleet - physical or symbolic. They were a rash, born from desperation, that paid more in lives - compared to its victories - than any planned out large-scale attack by a proper military ever would. An unpopular reality that the other man seemed to slowly come to terms with ... again. A truth that you could hate, for the simple fact that it was the truth. And it seemed to have pushed the man into the favorable position of being open to a compromise, as he beckoned him to the side.

To put it in terms his wife would use: He had him by the balls. Though Brody did not thoroughly enjoy the visual implications of the metaphor.

His initial hope for reciprocation was, however, quickly disarmed by Bishop's almost adorable inability to admit error. Which prompted the former operative to raise his brows in obvious disbelief, though giving the man the benefit of a few more seconds to circle back down to the reality of it all. And he would also let the part slide where he wasn't the best thing that ever happened to this entire mission, for now. Yet as he listened on, waiting for any kind of indication that the past hours weren't just a bunch of toy blocks, Bishop could reorganize to fit his narrative, the man was horrifically disappointed. Disbelief turned into annoyance, turned into gently simmering anger.

Eyes narrowed at the man, as he went on, describing his final demands. Which were an audacity to even ask, in their own rite. The admission of Brody 'having' Bishop, however, almost made him break the dense fog of seriousness with an inappropriate chortle. He had him every second of the way, if he wanted to admit that to himself, now or ever, or not. Then came the condition and with it that tiny spark of delight fell back into the dark abyss of duty. He'd been indulging the man's delusional idea of being in charge of his own fate for long enough. It was what had led them right into this mess in the first place. There was no way he'd follow that lead to jeopardize the outcome of his own mission on the fool's errand of concluding Bishop's.

"Not gonna happen." Brody contemplated in his mind. The words already dancing tango on his tongue, as Ebirone stepped closer, diverting his attention slightly past that of his bearded companion. So he listened. Some more apologies and demands, that didn't really mean anything to him. He hadn't taken Aatrah's "betrayal" personally. Why should he have? All the shit they were quite literally knee deep in, at this point, was because certain individuals - dark eyes briefly flickered back at Bishop - took everything so damn personal!

"Oh good, so we got THAT settled." Brody commented, slightly sarcastically, pushing past both men with his grip tight around the matte black phaser rifle by his side. The water gushing around his feet and lapping up against the curved perimeter, before he turned to face both once more, his back now to the rest of the group.

"If you really think I am going to sacrifice myself for your crusade or this midget rebellion, then you're more deluded than I gave you credit for. Both of you." He proclaimed loudly, intent on having anyone hear it, if only to snuff out that last remaining spark of defiance with which each and every one of them put themselves into unnecessary danger. A danger that now he was expected to alleviate. Not - gonna - happen!

He was supposed to liberate the planet from the deputy seat of a flagship, at the head of a task force, fighting bigger threats than stray Jem Hadar platoons and communication stations. And goddammit with a place to go shower once in a while! Threats that if extinguished would actually make a difference. Threats that could easier and more effectively be snuffed out with the knowledge Bishop had acquired on this rock. So, if there was a crime, it was that he had the foresight to see what really mattered down the line, not only as far as he could throw a grenade. The kind of holistic view that wasn't trained, or even desired, in an intelligence operative. The kind you got once you stepped out of that fabricated reality that was drip fed to you by your handlers. Shackles that were hard to shake, for sure, even after the crackling intercom voices were long gone. But an insight he hoped Bishop would be able to achieve before it consumed him.

"But we are getting out of here, the two of us." The man subsequently admitted, voice trickling down to a low rumble, rather than a roaring rapid. "You guys go ahead, I'll give you guys 5 minutes before I blow the passage behind you. Whether the Jem Hadar decide to follow us instead then is entirely up to them. But for their own sake I hope they think about that course of action real hard."

Shifting his posture into a demanding stance, he was hoping that little concession was enough to wipe that puppy look off Bishop's face, that was irritatingly starting to grow on Brody.
  • Last Edit: September 15, 2021, 10:59:22 AM by stardust