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Babel, Part 2

Posted on Sun Oct 25th, 2015 @ 11:27am by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele

Mission: Heart of Stele
Location: Beta Base, Moon of Troyius
Timeline: After "Babel, Part 1"

CONTINUED:

"I was sorry to hear of your loss," Livia, Chief of Augusta, said to her daughter. To an outsider, the sentiment may have sounded genuine, but for Vanora, a lifetime of reading between the lines of her mother's words caused her blood to boil.

"Which loss is that exactly? My ship or my husband?" Vanora spat back. Her mother had clearly insulted her and made yet again clear her feelings about Vanora's life choices and marriage.

"So hostile, my daughter. You have my genuine sympathies."

"And yet not enough sympathy to call me within the first forty hours."

"I do not need to explain myself to you." As usual, Livia did not raise her voice; she did not need to in order to speak with authority. "Your loss is great, and every loss that you face..."

"... is a loss for Augusta. So you've told me." Vanora looked at the ground. "Well, thanks for calling, mother. I will speak to you again in a few years, I'm sure." She lifted her hand, setting it on the console to end the call.

"One more moment."

Something about the way that Livia spoke to her had always been enough to cause Vanora to pause. It was the reason why, when she had finally decided to run away from home, Vanora had done so in the middle of the night, when no one would talk her out of it. She raised both eyebrows and waited for her mother to continue.

"I recognize that your freighter ship and your husband were everything to you. You may not believe it, but I have followed the course of your life, and I do know how much they meant to you. Especially your husband." It was typical; Livia could not even bring herself to say Tang's name. "Now that you have lost both," her mother continued, "you must be struggling to find your meaning in life. You must be wondering what you are supposed to do now."

"I know what I am doing now," Vanora replied. "I am trying to find my husband. The initial reports from Starfleet show no sign that he was killed, and there's no body or disruptor residue. He is out there, somewhere, and I will find him."

"Perhaps. Perhaps you will. But you cannot live for an extended period of time as a uninvited guest upon a starship that happened to pass through the sector while you were there." Livia paused as if determining how to present her next statement. "The Augusta have resources. I have resources. Return to Elas, where you belong, and I will provide you with all the resources you need to continue your search for your husband. In the meantime, your clan will care for you. We will heal you. This is where you should be."

Vanora shook her head. "No," she said simply. It was true that Captain P'Trell and the rest of the crew of the USS Bouzid were strangers to her. But Vanora would rather be with strangers than with her mother and sister and the Augusta. She had sixteen years of that life, and it had been enough for her. The obsession with tradition, with hierarchy, with order... that had never been Vanora.

Livia's expression changed only slightly, but even slightly was enough to cause Vanora to doubt herself. Such was her mother's power over her. "The situation here at home," Livia said, "is not ideal. We need you now, Vanora."

"We?"

"The Augusta." Livia knew, after she responded, that the answer was not enough to reach her daughter, so she added, "I need you, and your sister needs you."

"Helen has you, you have her, and you both have all of the Augusta. Neither of you needs anything from me."

Suddenly, Livia's face was grim, an expression that Vanora had never seen before. Not once in her life, though Vanora imagined that such an expression may have fell upon her mother's face when she first figured out that her heir was destined to be a weakling. "Helen is sick, my daughter. Very sick, more than ever before. I do not know yet what ails her, but she needs you. I need you here, now."

For Livia to say she needed Vanora would have broken her heart in half, had it not already been broken from her loss of Tang. "I'm very sorry to hear that," she said sincerely. "As soon as I find out what happened to Tang, I will check in on Helen." Vanora chose her words carefully, not promising explicitly to return to Elas. She had left the feudal civilization behind and did not intend on getting caught up in her family's antiquated lifestyle again if she could avoid it.

Livia's usually controlled expression contorted for a brief moment, and then returned to normal. Only years later would Vanora realize that it was as much an expression of complicity as it was of frustration at Vanora's disobedience. "Return, and conduct your search from here," Livia repeated herself. "For once in your life, be with your family."

"No. Again, no, and every time you ask, no. Tang is my family as well, and I will be with him, whether he's dead or alive, before I run off to do your bidding. I am not your subject, Livia of Augusta; I haven't been for a very long time. You will have to deal with that."

"If Helen passes before you return, you will forever regret it..."

"If my sister dies," Vanora responded solemnly, "I will mourn her, and I will be at her funeral and wake. And," she said with finality, "I will make sure to call within 40 hours. Goodbye, Mother." Vanora ended the call before her mother could say anything more.

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

"Open the doors now and surrender, and we swear by the Dohlman that we will not kill you!" yelled Sir Ammon from beyond one of the break room's two doors. The door's edge had begun to smoke a minute ago, meaning that a phaser had almost succeeded in cutting through the wall. On their side, Shenara and Jhyraoss were using their own phasers to weld together the furniture they had piled up against the door, and K'Trath stood guard at the opposite, already-barricaded door.

"Ça marche!" Cassandra exclaimed.

"It works!" Tang translated, starting the translation tree across the group, and they all quieted from previous work improving the barricades in order to focus on the translators. He continued and looked at Vanora as Cassandra explained further. "Using the communications relay we have in here, Cassandra was able to contact the cloaked interceptor you have in orbit. You should be able to access it now."

"We need to get a message to the nearest Starfleet subspace beacon," Aleixo said quickly, waiving Cassandra over with another Timariot control PADD. Cassandra handed the device to Vanora.

She prepared the distress call with their location. A bright flash in the room distracted her, and she looked up in time to see four Timariot phaser beams punch through the door at the four corners. The four beams split, revealing them to actually be four pair, and now the beams began to cut toward one another. On the other side of the room, where K'Trath was standing, the door began smoking more heavily, meaning that that door, too, would soon give way to the Timariot efforts.

"There's no time for that now," Tang said, translating for Cassandra. Cassandra pointed, drawing Vanora's attention back to the PADD. "Timariot reinforcements are about to land. When they do, we are finished." The barricades were good enough to hold off the on-base prison guards; they had determined early on that Beta Base was not equipped with its own transporters, likely to prevent escape attempts. But once the transport arrived, the Timariot could beam directly into the break room and overwhelm the escapees.

"We will all be dead and this base buried long before Starfleet arrives," Shenara spat.

A corner of the PADD flashed, and Vanora instantly confirmed what Cassandra's console reported: another prison transport ship was approaching the moon at full impulse, and would be upon them in less than a minute.

"It is over, but we will send as many of them as we can to Gre'thor before Sto-vo-Kor welcomes us," K'Trath began laughing.

Jhyraoss nodded and took up her weapon, signalling for Cassandra and Aleixo to do the same.

"Today is a good day to die," Shenara agreed as she lifted her halberd.

"It usually is," Vanora smiled herself, "but those reinforcements actually make Sto-vo-Kor further off than you think." She was furiously typing commands to the Razor into the PADD.

"Explain, Elasian," Tang said. "Jhyraoss said that, not me or Cassandra," he clarified with an amused smile as he admired Vanora working. "I imagine that you have some brilliant, skin-of-our-teeth coup d'etat as usual, my captain?" He did not have to explain again for Vanora to know that the last question came from Tang himself.

"I'm not going to lose you again," she promised quietly so that only Tang heard. She then ignored him and everyone else, focused entirely on her programming, ignoring as the phaser beams on the second door punched their way through, and the beams of the first door met again. The Timariot began tearing off that door, and immediately phaser fire began raining against the make-shift furniture barricade, with multiple beams finding gaps and bursting into open air. Those of the group with phasers began to return fire.

Vanora noticed none of this until she yelled out, "Got it!" and finally looked up. "Everyone get close together, now!" she yelled out, waiving furiously for all to come toward her and Tang. The others did not wait for translation to interpret the message, and everyone crowded in as close to the reunited couple as they could.

The phaser fire from beyond the door stopped suddenly. "It's too late to surrender now," Sir Ammon bellowed with cruel laughter. "You are all dead. Prepare for the Timariot!"

The group could see the sparkling air of transporter streams beginning to materialize in the room. At the same time, the room itself seemed to dematerialize.

It was, of course, the group of escapees that were dematerializing. Vanora had successfully reversed Kanoa's "break-in" program, and the temporary dropping of Beta Base's shields were enough for the Razor Interceptor to beam all of them out of Beta Base, to freedom.

 

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