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Posted on Thu Oct 22nd, 2015 @ 3:49pm by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele

Mission: Heart of Stele
Location: Beta Base, Moon of Troyius
Timeline: After "Friends In Low Places"

"As soon as the Timariot spot those two, this place will be on lockdown," Aleixo complained as he, Vanora, and their two other new companions, the Frenchwoman Cassandra and the Klingon woman, who they thought called herself Shenara, all hurried through the base toward the second cell block. Aleixo had determined--from the other prisoners he saw during the dog runs and the ones Tang had identified as being in his own block--that there were at least three cell blocks. That confirmed what Vanora had gleaned from her rough map.

"Only if anyone who sees them stays conscious long enough to call in the escape," Vanora countered. A Nausicaan alone was no joke, even for a Timariot knight, but a Nausicaan and a Tzenkethi was possibly more than the slothful guards of Beta Base could handle.

The group was in an open area, a sort of plaza, dark except for a mobile floodlight roaming the area. They had come down a winding ramp on their way in, and another ramp awaited them on the opposite side of the plaza. The metal wire of the dog run took up half of the space. Vanora shook her head in disgust, imagining being stuck only in the tiny cell with this small maze as the only other thing the prisoners ever saw. And Aleixo had said he'd been in here for 3 years; if Tang was being taken here for the first time when Kanoa met him on the transport, her husband had been suffering here for a year and a half.

"What is this place?" she finally asked while the group was ducked behind some cargo containers, waiting for the floodlight to move on and leave them a path forward.

"The place the Timariot keep their treasure," Aleixo laughed bitterly. "The Timariot always are playing cavalry, you know that part. But at some point since they were organized, the pomp and circumstance got to their head, and they became deluded into thinking they were a real army, not just barely-tolerated paramilitaries."

"The Wars," Vanora said, nodding in understanding.

"It was more than that. Playing soldier wasn't enough. Someone decided they didn't want to just be dogs trailing around Starfleet anymore. They started their own Intelligence and Strategic Operations divisions. But they were purposeless; Starfleet has that well-covered. Unless..."

"... unless they made their own purpose. So they started capturing you, and others."

"Yes." Aleixo held up a hand to pause the conversation, as it appeared that the floodlight was about to move on. At that moment, a pair of Timariots walked into the spotlight and stopped. They were far from the group, but they'd certainly see any attempt to cross the plaza.

"How has the Council of Nobles allowed this to go on?" Vanora whispered, incredulous.

Aleixo looked away from the guards and turned to face Vanora, his eyes narrowed. "You aren't who you seem to be. And I say that knowing that I have no idea who you are; you're hiding something, even as a stranger. I appreciate you breaking me out of my cell, but I've been here a long time. Get me off this damn moon, and I'll tell you everything when we're in open space."

"Deal," Vanora said. Cassandra tapped her hard on the shoulder and pointed at the floodlight. The guards were gone, and the floodlight was moving toward the dog run. "Here's our window," she said, walking carefully across the space, balancing speed and stealth. She breathed a sigh of relief when they all made it to the opposite wall. All four of them began moving up the ramp, crouched, but when they had almost reached the final turn, Aleixo held Vanora back. He signaled to Cassandra to secure the door into the next cell block, and then it dawned on Vanora. She finally understood a little more of what was happening here.

"You're Starfleet Intelligence," she said before Aleixo could tell her why he'd stopped her. "And Cassandra must be as well. Those were Starfleet signals."

"And you're Starfleet too, then, Mystery Woman. But not Intelligence, or you would be here for me and Cassandra, not Tang. But it begs the question: how do you know we're Intel?"

"If you were regular Starfleet, someone would have been looking for you a long time ago. Three years means you're in some very deep cover, and you've been written off as MIA." Vanora was about to give her name and rank, per procedure, but caught herself. She wasn't on any sanctioned mission, and the less Aleixo knew about her for now, the better. "Why did you stop me?" she finally asked.

"I don't know why you're here for Tang, but I can guess. Starfleet, regular or Intel, wouldn't have sent you in here alone, so you're off the farm. This is personal for you. I don't like personal; it gets in the way of me getting out of the base. You need to promise me you're going to hold yourself together, no matter what."

"I'm Elasian, and I'm Starfleet," she declared defiantly, though her bravado covered up worry. Aleixo was trying to prepare her for something. Something had happened to Tang, and she wasn't sure she wanted to ask.

Apparently Aleixo could see the worry in her eyes. "Just... keep it together. It is what it is," he said in a very non-Elasian manner.

Vanora took another look at Aleixo, shook her head, and continued up the ramp. Whatever he thought his little "talk" with her was going to accomplish, it had not worked. Vanora was just more on edge. Maybe, though, that's what he wanted, for her to be more alert. More ready.

Cassandra and Shenara had secured the door more thoroughly than expected: the two Timariot they had seen earlier were unconscious, leaned carefully against the door as if they, too, were taking naps on the job. Shenara held a phaser out to Vanora, keeping the polearm for herself; Cassandra also had a phaser and spear. "I'm guessing I'm better with that than either of you are," Vanora said to Aleixo and Cassandra, handing her phaser off to Aleixo and taking the spear.

"Once we get through, we get Tang, and then we don't stop until we're to the shield generator." Vanora pulled out the guard PADD and pulled up the controls for this cell block. She nodded to the other three, and signaled for them to breach, deactivating the cell door forcefields at the same time. The Klingon didn't understand the Starfleet signs, but she did not hesitate as they all streamed through the door into the next cell block.


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