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Babel, Part 1

Posted on Fri Oct 23rd, 2015 @ 10:33pm by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele

Mission: Heart of Stele
Location: Beta Base, Moon of Troyius
Timeline: After "Break, Breaking, Broken"

It was almost exactly 41 hours after the attack on her ship that Vanora received the call from her mother.

The time stood out in Vanora's memory for multiple reasons. First, everyone else had already called. Peri was first, as usual; Captain P'Trell had contacted the USS Apgar, where the then newly-minted Lieutenant Junior Grade Peridot Samsoe had just arrived for her first mission. She knew that if the Apgar wasn't already well into deep space, Peri would have stolen a shuttle and gotten to V, as Peri called her, at maximum warp. That was within hours of the USS Bouzid rescuing the SS Lady of the Lake, and Tang's abduction.

Next was Llwch, the baby of the family, a SFMC private stationed somewhere along the Romulan Neutral Zone. He hadn't known what to say, though it didn't matter, as Vanora was inconsolable and already obsessing over finding Tang. He promised her he'd keep his eyes and ears open, and that was enough. After that, Neil called. Vanora didn't remember where her oldest sibling was at the time, a dig somewhere outside Federation space. He'd clearly coordinated with their father, since the subspace communication from Bedwyr came immediately afterward.

Vanora and her father had cried together over subspace. Bedwyr's had always had a soft heart, and though he had an intellectual connection with Neil and Peri, he and his middle daughter shared an emotional, sometimes spiritual bond. Undoubtedly, it was from him that Vanora got it into her head that she was free from tradition and could leave home and explore the galaxy. He had loved Tang, though he'd only met him in person once; the two of them spoke regularly, both polyglots sharing an affinity for regional Human languages. And he'd quickly forgotten of his bias against Marines the moment he met his daughter's partner. More importantly, Bedwyr had loved that Tang was in so many ways Vanora's other half: he was patient where she was impulsive, calm where she was fiery.

That was all in the first day. Either by choice or circumstance, Vanora's siblings still living on Elas did not reach out until the second day. Ajax at least made an excuse; he had been leading desert training with the Augusta Timariot, and had only just received the news that morning, upon his return. He was somber, as always, serious and strong. The call was short but not rude; it was as long as was expected.

Helen, though, made no explanation or excuse for why she had not called Vanora earlier. The oldest sister and heir to the chiefdom of Augusta, it was her way, drilled into her head over three decades: her first responsibility was to the Augusta, then to the Dohlman and Elas, and only after that should more personal ties be considered. The subspace communique was within the 40 hour window that the leaders of the clan were expected to give condolences to clansmen upon decease of family. As with her call with Ajax, the call with Helen was as long as was expected. Unlike Ajax, however, Helen was detached, and Vanora gritted her teeth through what she considered a condescending call.

Had her grief and rage not blinded her, Vanora would have noticed that Helen did not look well. Though she trained, sparred, brawled and rode as hard as she could from the time she could stand, Helen had never been completely healthy. Even the doctors at the Federation hospital had not been able to figure out what was wrong with her. A possible side-effect of interspecial breeding, they hypothesized, but that had never been confirmed, either. It was after Helen began showing signs of slow growth and muscle development for her age that Vanora's parents began to drift apart. Vanora had put it together after she'd left home; though six children may have seemed a large family for Humans and other Alpha Quadrant species, it was not unusual for vivacious Elasians to have families twice as large. Helen would have been 6 years old when Llwch was born. Surely their mother blamed Bedwyr for Helen's weakness. It certainly did not come from Augusta blood, her mother would have reasoned. Vanora was only four, and did not remember whether her parents began fighting then. And even if they remembered, neither Neil nor Helen had ever spoken about it with their other siblings.

But it was certainly the case that Helen looked unwell, beyond her genetic propensity for a wiry frame and a sunken though proud and well-defined face. Vanora would not have gone back and noted this in her memory had her mother not hinted at it, clearly though discreetly, when she finally called Vanora, just outside the appropriate 40 hour window for the leaders of the Augusta. That, Vanora knew even before receiving the call, had been done quite deliberately.

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Aleixo had been right: the Timariot locked down all of Beta Base once they knew that there were prisoners loose. Even if the two Nausicaans and one Tzenkethi were still free, everyone's mobility suddenly became limited. Which was a serious problem, considering that Vanora, Tang, Aleixo, Cassandra, Shenara and the Klingon male, named K'Trath, and the Andorian woman, named Jhyraoss, were still two buildings away from the shield generator.

"This would be a good time for the two Starfleet Intelligence agents to figure out how to get us out of here," Shenara complained as she shook her head and then attempted, yet again, to knock the concussion out with her own hand.

The universal translator dampening field had not been lowered, but through a couple of minutes of deliberation, communications between the alien species had been reestablished. Tang, Aleixo, and Vanora all spoke Elasian, and Tang and Cassandra both spoke the Human language French. Tang and Vanora knew mostly only curse words in Klingon, which made K'Trath and Shenara laugh but was less than helpful. Fortunately, Jhyraoss did speak Klingon, and Cassandra's Andorian was passable, thanks to a rotation she had done at the Federation consulate on Andoria. Communicating a message to the whole group, therefore, took some time, but with a little bit of practice, they'd become significantly more efficient. So Shenara's complaint was registered to Jhyraoss while K'Trath grunted in agreement, who passed it on to Cassandra in what was likely a much more politely summary than the original words, and the female Human shared with Tang, who in turn shared with the two Elasians.

Before the sirens began blaring, the group had made it through the third cell block. The cells had all been empty of both guards and prisoners, though their scant belongings showed that at least seven of the cells had recently been occupied. But there was no sign of why the other prisoners had been moved, or to where. They cleared the room quickly and made it to the next area, which had turned out to be a break room for the Timariot.

The fighting had been fierce. Though most of the guards were out securing the perimeter, a dozen officers had huddled in the room as an ad hoc regional base of operations; the lockdown had blocked easy access to the command and control center at the center of the ring-shaped base. They had hit the door hard, anticipating a fight, even if they hadn't imagined taking on so many knights at once. Vanora, Jhyraoss and the two Klingons charged with melee weapons, their sheer ferocity catching the Timariot off-guard and sending the scrambling. Cassandra and Aleixo took cover with Tang, and the Intel officers picked the knights off with phaser fire as best they could. Though Jhyraoss and K'Trath took phaser burns and Vanora a sword cut on her upper arm, the group made it through mostly unscathed and without injury that wasn't fixed by the dermal regenerator that Cassandra found after the fight was over.

With access to communications equipment now, Aleixo monitored the movement of the Timariot and Troyian guards. They had subdued or killed the other escaped prisoners, and were closing in on the break room. There was no chance to make it to the shield generator as planned. They were stuck, and all they could do was barricade the doors to buy time.

TO BE CONTINUED...

 

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