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Re: Prologue: Homecoming

Reply #50
[Keval ch'Rayya| Promenade | Starbase 84 ] Attn: Tristan Kendrick

Keval kept quiet as he listened to his captain talk, nodding at the comments that he was making as his antenna moved just slightly to let know that he understood fully what else the pinkskin was saying. "I understand completely, it's still mind boggling that two ships was able to take out such a large task force." The andorian stated firmly.

As he walked with his captain, Keval's mind was already going through various tactical situations - both standard and otherwise - when a strange thought entered into his mind that drew him up short and he looked over at Tristan. "Tristan, a thought just crossed my mind and I'm unsure of how accurate it could be." he said out loud.

He moved to in front of his captain and held out his right hand, palm up between them. "What if we use the ship's sensors like an active sonar, ping outwards from a geostationary pattern near the starbase?"

As he spoke to his commanding officer, he moved the fingers of his left hand across the palm of his right hand in certain patterns as he was describing his thought process but he was saying more as he calmly saying 《All is understood but my gut is telling me that something in the data is wrong, that is missing element that I can't put my finger on it quite yet.》

Re: Prologue: Homecoming

Reply #51
[LT Komial Dotnihl | Security Level: Brig | Starbase 84]  Attn: Drauc

She was less than keen on doing just whatever the man said, but her curiosity at the Romulan's words was getting the best of her. She knew the record number was in fact a Starfleet service number, and that raised all kinds of questions that she wanted answered more than she wanted to be prudent and wait. And if the man had a code that would overide sercurity or wipe the starbase computer out, he would have used it already, so she dismissed the notion that what she was about to do would trigger some kind of deeply embedded virus.

"If its all the same to you," she finally said after taking another steadying breath, meeting his alien gaze, "I'll still have the councelor come over and take a look at you. Protocol." It was a stiff answer as she moved to the nearby security station and pulled up the StarFleet records database. She punched in  the number give and waited for the file to come up. It was a secure file and she had to enter an addtional clearance code. She had enhanced security access due to her position on a starbase that monitored a whole sector of Romulan space, but it was only barely enough to grant her access. It was a very encrypted file. On any other posting, this would have been far above her pay grade. Cpt. Hawthorne however had seen fit to ensure his CSec could do what needed doing.

"You're right about one thing, Drauc," she muttered as her dark eyes began to read the report, a frown appearing on her spotted forehead. "You've got plenty of time to wait. You really aren't going anywhere at all..."

Re: Prologue: Homecoming

Reply #52
[Ensign A'vura | Top Deck of the Drydock Section | Subspace Acquisition Grid ]

A'vura cried out in a mixture of distress and anger as his hand, ever so briefly, touched her womanhood. She was disgusted at how helpless she felt and completely at the man's mercy. When she felt her skin exposed to the rather cold air she attempted to push him away again with her knees or with twisting her body away so he couldn't get an exact feel of her.

As she was left to be continuously manhandled, she could feel herself beginning to whimper in pity for herself. She tried but to not event he was certainly not going to let her go, as he leant down to suck at one of her breasts she tensed up - that feeling of revulsion prominent again. The hand gliding up her thigh caused her to bite her lip, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of the sounds of defeat.

Her head had already turned to the side as he was so close to touching her most intimate areas, as the man seemed to be distracted with someone she quickly looked around for some sort of weapon she could use to defend herself with. As he shot a glance back at her to tell her to remain quiet she simply stared at him, believing it was too dangerous now that she had his attention again.

As he came closer again she snarled, raising her head and closing her eyes as she felt his vile breath caress her rather cold breasts. He stopped again however and she could only squint in confusion at what must have been said between him and... Whoever was on the other end.

As she was his panic she herself began to panic, blinking in utter confusion as she could see a piece of his flesh began to sizzle... That certainly wasn't normal, she thought. She jumped as the charge separated his head from his body, letting out a rather girlish yelp as she didn't know what she was seeing.
As his body fell forward she stood there frozen in shock with her eyes wide and set on where he used to stand. She allowed herself one long deep exhale before coming back to her senses, one hand moving to grip the ripped fabric of her shirt to cover her now exposed breasts as she stumbled lightly towards the exit.

Travelling down the various corridors she kept her head low and looked for nothing in particular other than another person she could ask for help while keeping her shame to herself as much as possible.

Re: Prologue: Homecoming

Reply #53
[ Security Level: Brig | Starbase 84 ] Attn: Brutus & RedBaron

Just as Lieutenant Komial began to read the report Drauc T'Laus had asked her to do, an emergency klaxon resounded in the security office.

[Yellow Alert. Yellow Alert,] the starbase computer said on the intercom while the noise lasted. [Explosion detected in the Subspace Acquisition Grid area. Sector 5. Yellow Alert. Yellow Alert.]

"All right, people!" called Mackenzie, and as the security department scrambled in unison, not only Mackenzie was helping out to organise the response to the possible threat. It was like someone had kicked an anthill. Internal sensors would not go off like that unless the nature of the explosion's readings couldn't be explained with a blown plasma relay or something of that sort, but rather being of unknown nature or with a known premeditated composition. Phaser rifles were distributed between the response teams. "You know the protocol! This is no drill. Stand by to move out. All clear?"

The regular brig officers were exempt, about to remain with the prisoners, but it did not take many seconds until one of the team leaders approached Komial. "Teams Alpha and Beta are awaiting your orders, Lieutenant. Little is knows besides internal sensors picking up on the explosion. No damage report as of yet. The patrolling officers in the Drydock Section will be the first ones on site. Travel Core has been vacated for our use until further notice."

Forgotten, the record on Drauc T'Laus history with Starfleet remained on the monitor where it had been accessed... until the LCARS access timed out and the monitor when black again.

[ Promenade | Starbase 84 ] Attn: Kaligos, Sirus, DocReno & Triage

Hearing Keval speak, but more so seeing what he told him, Tristan could but incline his head as they descended the corridor. His verbal answer fit both their conversations. "I had something similar in mind."

Just as Captain Kendrick and Lieutenant ch'Rayya emerged on the Promenade from the Executive Offices, two security guards turned on their heel a few meters away and began to run towards the access-way to the Travel Core. Whatever they had been ordered to do, it looked serious. Tristan frowned as they ran past him and Keval, but as he followed them with his gaze, he could spot F'Rell and Ensign Tancredi, who were talking to a man with Klingon ridges on his forehead. Being that it was not someone from the Resolve - and he was in uniform - it was evident that it was someone commissioned to Starbase 84. Tristan walked with Keval towards them, but his eyes remained on the spot where the security guards vanished. No more had Keval and him reached their T'Fanrell crewmember, Tancredi and the young man than there was a loud signal heard across the recreational dome.

[Attention, please,] said the disembodied female voice of the starbase's computer, the PA system in the dome making the voice echo across the open terrain and the Promenade. [Emergency announcement. A bomb has detonated below the Subspace Acquisition Grid. Use of the Travel Core has been restricted to Starfleet Security until further notice. Attention, please. The Travel Core has been made unavailable for all current residents on the base until further notice. Avoid the vicinity of the Subspace Acquisition Grid. Attention, please. All but specifically exempt Starfleet personnel, calmly vacate public areas and return to your current residence using available stairway exits. Listen for instructions from Starfleet Security and officials. Attention, please. A bomb has detonated below the Subspace Acquisition Grid. Use of the Travel Core has been restricted to...]

Oddly, the information about the explosion did not cause Tristan to feel any fear. At least not directly. No, the past three years had done something to him, and perhaps to all of his crew. The announcement made him feel... at home. As if strife and being beset by the unknown threats all around them made more sense to him than rest and recreation. What happened was that he tapped his combadge, and he realised he was already talking - addressing his closest crew."Captain Kendrick to all department heads, rendezvous with me on the Resolve. I repeat, do not go to your accommodations on the base, but to the conference lounge on the ship. Order your departments to keep their combadges so that we can reach them all on short notice. Kendrick out."

He gestured for F'Rell and Tancredi to follow him and Keval as well. "You should come too," he said to the two of them, and then he looked towards the Klingon hybrid that were in their company, giving the young man a quick smile. "Pardon me if I steal your company. Next time, I am buying, promise."

That being said in parting, Tristan led the way across the grass underneath the dome - heading towards the stairs in the outer hull. With Keval on his right side and Tancredi on his left - F'Rell swimming through the air above him - they were going to return to their home for the past three years. Right then, it did not feel like their long voyage had ended, but that this was just another alien outpost that they had come upon, and that they would have to depart before anyone was killed.

"Did you learn something useful?" he asked F'Rell, looking up towards the creature - imagining that the T'Fanrell enjoyed the open air as a change from the ship interior. Krystal shook her head, perhaps not wishing to speak just yet. Tristan turned to Keval again as well. "Pull ten of your most trusted officers and ask them to join us as well."

Tristan needn't explain why. Nor shouldn't he, in case they were being monitored...

[ Top Deck of the Drydock Section | Starbase 84 ] Attn: Nyla

No more had she emerged from the Jefferies tubes again before the announcement was heard on the intercom.                            

[Attention, please. Emergency announcement. A bomb has detonated below the Subspace Acquisition Grid. Use of the Travel Core has been restricted to Starfleet Security until further notice. Attention, please. The Travel Core has been made unavailable for all current residents on the base until further notice. Avoid the vicinity of the Subspace Acquisition Grid. Attention, please. All but...]

Along the corridor that A'vura walked after her ordeal - behind the glass walls on her right hand side - the personnel working in the traffic control offices were on high alert, wide eyes looking about since their work place was on the deck below the mentioned area. Perhaps they had even heard the detonation. Some of them spotted the Orion woman through the glass at the back of their office area, pointing and alerting their colleagues - unsure what to make of the sight of her. Clothes dishevelled and covered in green blood. Soon, several of them were talking into their combadges, alerting security about having spotted A'vura - detailing her description and state of appearance. Not necessarily to incriminate her for the explosion, but not exactly depicting her as a possible victim either. That would be for security to decide.

And speak of the devil... The closest patrol had just located her.

"Starfleet Security! Stop or I will fire!" The shout came from a high-strung, shaved human with the intent to use his phaser at first possible convenience. He had a colleague with him, human as well - tall and darker of skin. The shaved one was closing more quickly. "Fail to comply to our instructions, and I will stun you where you stand! Am I making myself clear? Answer me, or I bloody promise you will be held for resisting arrest!"

The tall guard was approaching with his open hand raised, gesturing for her to stop as well. He was calm, eyes focused on her, hand phaser pointed to the deck plating. "Raise your hands, keep them in sight. Are you injured?"

She had no time to answer, for the shaved man cut her off. "She is most likely Orion Syndicate, bloody terrorist bitch. You were involved in the explosion weren't you? Stole a dress uniform didn't you?" He was approaching cautiously, sharp eyes along the sights of his phaser as he glared at her. "Hands bloody raised and turn the fuck around! Unless I see your ass in two seconds, you will hit the damn floor, do you hear me?"

"Calm down, Bradford. She migh-" The tall man was not getting a word in edgewise. Officer Bradford was high on adrenaline.

"Do you have any concealed weapons? If you do I swear..." He was eight feet away from her, breathing through his teeth.

"Damn you Crewman Bradford, listen to me. She could be a witness -"

It was clear that if she would make a strange move, make any provocation, the guard would open fire in an instant.

Re: Prologue: Homecoming

Reply #54
[ F'Rell of the 12th House | Promenade | Starbase 84 ] Attn: Auctor Lucan, Kaligos, DocReno & Triage

The elegant creature turned and followed after the captain. She knew him sell enough and with the station going to high alert she was at least almost pleased to be returning to a place that she knew. She did not know how much of the crew of the station would respond to stress, she had seen how the crew of the Resolve respond to high stress situations. And though the ship was not in the best condition she knew she would at the very least be of more help there then on the station as she had come to know many of the ships systems during her time on board it. She had enjoyed her time being able to fly freer, but it seemed like that time was about to end.

"It seems to me that your Starfleet is no longer as in order as much of the crew hoped it would be," came the responce from the small communicator F'Rell held in on of her appendages. She knew the question was not directed at her, but she was inclined to respond to it all the same. "There is much talk of lone Starfleet ship that has gone rogue and of growing trouble with the Romulans. Though it is kept under control I sense a great deal of tension from the crew of this station. I am not sure how trustworthy they are." F'Rell was always hesitant to trust anyone and she had heard the crew of the Resolve speak at great length about the fleet they were a part of and how much they wanted to return to it. When they had reached the station she had not found the people quite the way she had expected them to be. Something was wrong with the fleet, or rather the people in it. Something wrong enough to cause a ship to go rogue.

Re: Prologue: Homecoming

Reply #55
[Lt Hi'Jak| Promenade | Starbase 84] Attn: F'Rell, Tancredi

As the warning of a bomb being detonated went off Jack glanced around feeling somewhat nervous, he had picked this place because it was the last place anything exciting was supposed to happen. If there was something going down here it meant bad news for basically everyone so he thought that meant it was 'safe'. Suppose he should have known better.

As he watched the two women he had been drinking and talking with get up to leave he gave them a bow. "Till next time then." He said lifting his glass before finding himself alone. He glanced around the promenade unsure of what his orders would be. He wasn't part of the security team, and most people wouldn't consider him vital to anything, but if something was going down his curiosity was peeked and he had no interest in simply returning to his quarters and wait for further instructions.

He sat silently in the promenade for a few more minutes before deciding that if there was one place he was going to be needed so that others could find him it was his lab. Getting up finally he made for the staircase and immediately disliked his situation. With the travel core restricted all the turbo lifts were shut down, and his lab was more than a few decks away, it was going to be a long walk to his workplace that was for sure. He let out a sigh and started walking, if someone wanted to check in with him, at least they had the coms or knew where they would likely find him.

Re: Prologue: Homecoming

Reply #56
[Ensign Six | Crew Quarters | Starbase 84]

It didn't take long for Six to make it from the Promenade to her quarters. On a starship, she'd likely had to have shared living quarters with at least one other occupant given her status and rank, but thankfully the Starbase was large enough that much of the crew managed to get their own living space, albeit a sometimes small space. She didn't mind though the confines of it. In fact she rather preferred it at times to the leers and jeers of some of her comrades. As much as she yearned for acceptance and interaction, she also still found time to enjoy her solitude.
Six carefully stripped from her bodysuit and folded it neatly at the end of her bed once the door had swished shut behind her. Her body was a curious thing to her. She had never before given it much thought, but after being reformed back into her humanoid form, and after regaining more of her humanity that she had previously lost as a borg, she began to grow... inquisitive... with her figure and how it looked and worked. Oftentimes she'd find herself staring in a long mirror at herself, sometimes touching different areas to see how her skin and other extremities might react. She hadn't gone as far as full on pleasure yet, perhaps because she didn't quite know how to, but she knew there were parts of her that... felt good... to touch.

For now though, she didn't much bother with it considering she had little time left to do so. Instead she stepped into her sonic shower to pulse away the dirt and grime of the afternoon and to offer some relief to the tension she often felt in her back and shoulders. It was the closest to relaxed she had ever managed to get, and she quite regularly took longer than she ought to in there. When she finally finished though she had barely just enough time to regenerate a bit on her station, before finally having to get dressed in her uniform once more and head back to her station.
"You wish to knock over cows? What is the significance of this? Do you derive pleasure from such things?" - Ensign Six

Re: Prologue: Homecoming

Reply #57
[Ensign A'vura | Top Deck of the Drydock Section | Starbase 84 ]

A'vura was still shaking as she met the security officers, raising her head slowly with parted lips and such lost eyes she must have looked quite the mess. She swallowed to try and regain some sense of reality from what had just happened, and now... Now her own people were ready to fire at her because of her defense to the Federation. As she caught sight of the rather overeager man with the phaser pointed at her the only thing she could was raise her arm to scratch at her head.

Swallowing again, she allowed her lips to part to let out a rather long needed sigh of relief that she was finally away from the harsh, cruel and vile scent of the Romulan's breath so close to her skin. She nodded to the taller man, offering him a rather genuine smile but her eyes began to water as the realisation of what could have happened washed over her. Through a cough she let out a raspy, "I'm... Fine." before furrowing her brows towards the still armed officer that seemed determined to take her down, "I don't really appreciate racism there... I'm a Federation officer thank you very much." she scoffed with a rather sassy perk of a brow as she gave him a once over. Cute, but naive and somewhat stupid.

Re: Prologue: Homecoming

Reply #58
[ Top Deck of the Drydock Section | Starbase 84 ] Attn: Nyla

Crewman Bradford was locked in his reasoning, already thinking that the woman was Orion Syndicate, and when she failed to raise her hands and heed his instructions to the point, he took aim - jaws clenched and focusing on his shot before the woman could beguile him or his colleague to think she was ought else. Bradford had bad experiences with Orions, and knew never to trust them - even less so when there was a threat to the station and one of them were clearly involved.

No more had she lied about being a Federation Officer than he pushed the button of his phaser - discharging the heavy stun beam right into her abdomen.

Even as he did, his colleague was shouting from behind him, cursing about his lack of restraint, but Bradford knew better. Having shot her, he did not pause his advancing steps, catching her over his arm before she fell to the deck plating. She hung limply across his arm while he holstered his weapon by his hip. Then he tapped his combadge.

"Lietuenant Komial, this is Crewman Bradford, I have apprehended an Orion woman leaving the area where the explosion was. She has green blood all over herself, likely Romulan or Vulcan, but I would vaguer the former. Likely some kind of meeting between the Syndicate and one of the Romulan factions gone awry, but either way, I am bringing the woman in for interrogation. Bradford out."

His companion was shaking his head at him, hands on his hips. "I guess I will wait for the other teams and then go secure the area."

"You do that," said Bradford with a winning grin and walked away with the Orion across his shoulder - heading for the Travel Core. As he walked there, there came a chirp from the Orion's combadge.

[Captain Kendrick to all department heads, rendezvous with me on the Resolve. I repeat, do not go to your accommodations on the base, but to the conference lounge on the ship. Order your departments to keep their combadges so that we can reach them all on short notice. Kendrick out.]

"Shit," cursed Bradford, stopping in his tracks, "Fuck." He realised that the bitch might not have lied, and yet he was alone to hear this Kendrick's call. Thoughts racing, trying to find a way to cover up his mistake, he reached down the green-skinned woman's breasts and felt around for her combadge. As he found it, he plucked it from her sullied dress uniform and disposed of it on the way down to the Security Office. He was not prepared to take the fall for this.

He would stick to the report he would write, that she had failed to comply to his instructions and resisted arrest.

Re: Prologue: Homecoming

Reply #59
[ Starbase 84 | Base Commander's Office ] Attn: All

Thirty minutes after the mysterious detonation, a ship docked at Starbase 84.

One of many. Starbases were always busy, but this visiting ship had a special meaning to Ian, and he had asked to be alerted once it arrived. Perhaps not so much a special meaning, perhaps. Rather a special person, and that special person was his ex-wife. She had long left Starfleet to become an author, but she had come because of their lost daughters. Going through this trauma, and the impossible battle of trying to clear his daughters' names, it had been such a drain on him until he accepted the implications along with his new priorities. He could only imagine what Trish Rhodes was going through, and her wanting to come to his base made it evident she was not able to handle this alone.

"Please send Yeoman Bale to bring her to my quarters," he requested after he had been alerted, and headed there from his office.

Trish was a smart, studious, and beautiful woman. She had met Ian when he saved her from a pirate attack aboard the USS Principle. They had one daughter, Lisa Hawthorne, together and adopted a second in Cameron Henshaw when her father David - a friend of Ian's - was killed in the line of duty. Trish had divorced Ian quite some time ago, after one of his darker episodes had led to a deep depression that tore them apart, although the adoption brought them back together in a way for the sake of maintaining a family unit. The passion, however, was long gone, and now that their daughters were gone too, there was nothing left between them but to salvage whatever they could.

Ian's quarters were quite fancy, not that you would expect the contrary given his station. A Spartan and elegant living space, the room for luxurious displays and material boasts of all sorts, but the fact that in their absence was a simple and clean layout of calculated necessities made it far more striking. The only thing extra, was the half completed kal-toh which Ian stood by. He removed his uniform jacket and threw it across one of the chairs, waiting for her with his thoughts on business at hand rather than the reunion. He was thinking about his meeting with Captain Kendrick and Lieutenant ch'Rayya, and how he had tried to reach his Romulan contact after they left his office. While he had reached the man, he had been found a liability, and Ian had to kill him for two reasons - to shut him up and to strategically place the blame where it had to be.

When she arrived, he turned to greet his visitor. "Trish." He said in an unmoving tone, familiar, but in a distant manner. It was hard to make himself appear like he cared, but he tried as best as he might. "I wasn't expecting to see you again."

"I had to see you," she said hesitantly, confidence fading when he acted so guarded. Awkwardly, she went to seat herself on a couch. "After all that's happened, I could not stay. They are both on those renegade ships, and we don't know what has happened to them. I know you tried to find information, and you passed whatever you could on to me, but now... I have not heard anything. I don't know what to think. I just... can't believe it."

Ian averted his gaze and walked towards a viewscreen. It was large, taking up an entire wall and currently it displayed a scene he had grown rather fond of over the years, that of waves gently lapping against a wooden jetty. Whenever he needed peace, or to calm himself, that scene was what he chose. Seeing Trish brought conflicting emotions, and idle thoughts of Lisa and Cameron.

When he said nothing, Trish continued. "There's no way it could be true. It's like there's no cosmic justice, that both ships, both our girls would be..."

"There is nothing more we can do right now, no words to say that will make a difference. I tried everything, but to no avail. Our daughters are incriminated by the affiliation to their ships, and the Federation is judging us for it." he said plainly, as a man who clearly has accepted life's cruel fate. His thoughts, however, were on the Romulan that he had killed and what benefits he could draw from the fallout... Somehow, he made his tone sad in her presence. "But we're still here, and we will learn the truth about what has happened to them, and what they have done."

He had not realized Trish had risen from the couch until he felt her hands reach from behind to take him in a tight embrace. Her hands pressed against his chest as she squeezed, and he could feel her cheek press against his back. Automatically, as if from muscle memory, he found himself reaching up, covered her hands with his.

"It's okay to cry, you don't have to hide it," she murmured into his back. Her voice was hoarse, altered by her own grief. Ian could feel the damp of tears on her cheek begin to soak into his red undershirt, so he turned slowly.

"I know," he said. Her head came up to just below his chin, so pulling her close, he wrapped his arms around her, resting his chin on her head as she buried her face into his chest. Tilting his head down he kissed the top of her head. It was something he had done often when they were married, but not since. It had been almost reflexive, and it was over before he even realized he had done it.

Trish looked up at him, her pale brown eyes meeting his. They looked at him questioningly, but he knew he had no answers, at least none that she needed. She opened her mouth to speak, but he just shook his head. They had said all that needed to be said, and he had no more to offer her.

Suddenly... she rose up on her toes and kissed him. He was so startled that for a second he just stood there in shock, feeling her lips against his for the first time in many years. A moment later, he returned her kiss, and they began passionately making out.

The feeling, the two bodies, so far apart for so long are able to once again feel the urges that once joined them. The intimacy that had become clogged with the debris of strife and personal differences had perhaps been washed away but for the solvent of shared anguish. Or could just have been natures most basic of self-comforting mechanisms, as long as there have been humans, there has always been one persistent desire, especially in times of hardship. Her hands were all over him, finding their way to his crotch, where he felt himself hardening. Trish had not been a priority, but she quickened something lost inside him.

They began to fumble with each others clothes, tearing them off. At some point, his erect member was pressing against the dark skin of her stomach as he pulled her in close. His hands cupped her firm buttocks as his mouth began working his way down the nape of her neck to her hardened peaks. Next, he was taking her in his arms, picked her up. Slipping back into patterns that were once so familiar to them, she threw her legs around his waist. He could feel his hard cock teasing her. Reaching down, she guided him into her as he moved them over to the wall.

They moaned as one when he slid into her. They paused there a moment as they both basked in the heady glow of the the feeling of his member filling her. Before long, she ground her pelvis against him, and soon they had a steadily faster growing rhythm as he thrust into her. Her nails raked against his back, and hers was scraped by the wall.

"Floor," she gasped to him, so he lowered them both to the carpet, never leaving her. She eased off of him, rolling onto her stomach. He remembered that was her favourite, for him to take her from behind as she lay there, her legs together, making herself extra tight on his shaft. He was more than happy to oblige as he entered her once more. She felt amazing like that, and soon, he was pounding into her with renewed vigour. She was writhing beneath him, and he could feel her tighten with euphoria. She groaned through gritted teeth, her hands pawing at the carpet, looking for something to grip onto it. As she did, Ian felt himself on the verge as well. Crying out, he came inside her, and it was over before he had realised what had driven him - a shadow of bygone feelings betraying him.

They lay like that a few minutes, before they parted, rolling onto their backs. She curled up next to him, resting her head on his chest, watching him breathe. It was Trish that broke the silence of the aftermath. "That was amazing," she murmured. "I needed to feel that again."

A moan of affirmation came from Ian. "The pleasure was truly all mine."

"But," Trish said softly in a tone twinged with concern, "you don't seem to be the same person anymore."

Ian said nothing at first, staring into the ceiling. "What makes you say that?"

"It was strange... it was all our best 'moves' but it was like you were someone else. Different rhythms, different details." She looked up at him. "It was strange, but I liked it. I guess you have changed more than I thought. It's like I'm with a stranger."

In a disembodied motion, he smiled down at her, but he knew in that moment she would have to die. Once that thought of his behaviour had hit her, he knew how her mind worked. She would worry it like a terrier on a rat until something clicked. "Alpha Pattern Six," he muttered almost silently, the code that would turn off all sensors and such in his room. It paid to be the base commander.

"What was that?" she asked, lifting her head.

"I am the same man I always have been, always will be," he replied, and he sat up.

"I-I just don't know," Trish began, shifting back from him on the carpet. "You're fine, but just not the same person."

"I'm the same," he said in a distant tone. "It's everything else that's changed. Everything else that's wrong. While I am more, you... have become less. There are no values left, only ruin... Until nothing remains."

"Ian?" Trish asked with equal measures concern and fear. "I'm sorry. I d-don't understand."

Not saying anything, Ian reached over and slowly moved his prosthetic right hand around her neck. It was too late for her to pull away. He began to squeeze her throat. She tried to gasp, and weakly raised her arms to push him away. But there was no hope of stopping his grip, the little amount of air she had left wasn't able to escape well enough to form words. His dark gaze stared directly into her eyes, and his grip only tightened as he saw her sweat-glistening body shudder and twitch in asphyxiation. The parasite inside him lent him the strength to remain seated where he was despite her struggles, but his prosthetic hand was more than enough to kill her with its vice-like grip. Her vertebrae were cracking from the pressure and her thrashing. Her eyes went hazy, not seeing him any more. It merely took a few seconds, before her neck gave in. Her last, desperate gasps left her body and then... the whole of her went limp - hanging from his grip.

He stared at the death mask of her face, tilting his head as he committed her grimace to memory. He smiled. Despite their history together, she was still no more than a skin-puppet. He dropped her lifeless body from his fingers, and he shook his head. "There is no such thing as 'cosmic justice'."


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