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On the Cusp, Part 2

Posted on Mon Oct 26th, 2015 @ 2:43pm by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele

Mission: Heart of Stele
Location: Tellun System
Timeline: After "On the Cusp, Part 1"

CONTINUED:

"It was a setup," Tang explained. "The Ferengi were paid to be a cover; the job was always meant for the Lady of the Lake. The mission was to destroy the ship and capture me."

"I know that my mother disapproved of my freighter and our marriage, but this!" Vanora was incredulous. That her mother would use her position on the Council of Nobles to commit so petty and so vicious a crime against her own family was unthinkable. "Why capture you, then, if she just wanted to separate us?"

Another voice answered. "Because she lied to the Timariot. Most of them, anyway." Cassandra had approached them and handed Vanora her shoulder bag. "In order to get the Timariot intelligence division to agree to her operation, she convinced them that Tang was an Intel agent, not just an asset. When we found that your ship was ambushed, I knew it was too much of a coincidence. And Intelligence doesn't do coincidences," the Frenchwoman continued. "It turned out to be a key lead, even though it took a very long time for us to figure out how it fit together. We eventually discovered the Ferengi who had made the deal; they were, unsurprisingly, not on the ships that the USS Bouzid destroyed. They flipped on their clients, and from there we figured out that the network was tied to the Timariot. We suspected that Beta Base is not the only secret facility that they're running, both here in the Tellun System and elsewhere in Elasian territory." She pointed to the other Intel officer. "Aleixo's a part of the unit, too. He was captured while under deep cover."

Now Vanora was even more furious. She made to stand, but Tang grabbed her arm to restrain her. "You mean to tell me that this whole time, Starfleet Intelligence knew that Tang could be alive, that he was being tortured for information that you knew he didn't have, and never thought to tell me? Bastards..."

"They worked as fast as they could," Tang said in his best soothing voice. "And they did their best to bring me back alive. The torture was not their fault, nor was most of it even because the Timariot believed I had intelligence. Starfleet Intelligene could not jeopardize the operation, and they could not risk putting you in danger for no reason. I would not want them to."

She knew that Tang believed what he said, but Vanora did not. She stopped her attempt to stand, though, and instead examined the look Cassandra was giving her. "You thought I might have been in on it? That I would turn over my own husband to some secret prison?"

Cassandra sighed and dropped her shoulders. "I am sorry, Commander, but it was not my call. And, believe me, I have seen far worse behavior and far greater betrayals. In my line of work, caution saves lives. Tang is right about that."

"We need to get ready to go," Cassandra said as Vanora backed down. "We will all beam down directly into the Federation Embassy, and rendezvous with Starfleet Security and Intelligence there. In not too long, Starfleet vessels will be in the Tellun System and Beta Base will be shut down. Anyone fleeing won't get very far."

"I'm not going with you," Vanora replied.

"What?" Cassandra asked.

"Vanora..." Tang started.

"Take Tang with you; make sure he gets treated for the fractures immediately. I will meet back up with you... after." She looked at both Cassandra and Aleixo. "This is not open for debate. I outrank both of you."

Tang shook his head. "Do not do that which cannot be undone, my Vanora. I am free now, and we are reunited. That is what matters." But even as he spoke, Tang looked at his wife and knew that neither Cassandra nor he nor anyone else would change Vanora's mind. Her face was set, and she was resolved to confront her mother. It was now a question of honor.

"It is not all that matters, Tang. You know that as well as I do."

"Then I will go with you," he answered. "Let us be apart no longer. We have had enough separation for a lifetime."

"If you go down there alone, we cannot guarantee your safety," Cassandra warned both of them. "The Augusta are deep into this."

"My mother will hurt me. That much I am sure of." Vanora, however, was not certain that the inverse was equally true. "But I cannot say I'm sure of your safety from that psychopath," she said to Tang. "What I have to do... I'm sorry. I cannot do it with you there. Go with Cassandra; I promise you I will meet you at the Embassy when this is over."

"Normal orbit established," Aleixo announced, getting up from his seat. "Hurry up, lovebirds; I am ready for a real meal and a real shower," he laughed. Shenara, K'Trath and Jhyraoss were already prepared to go, and the group huddled as best they could on the small transporter pad.

"Put me in the pilot's seat," Tang said to Vanora. "If you will not allow me to go with you, I will watch you from here. I will not allow you to walk into potential danger without any backup. I will beam you out at the slightest sign of trouble."

Vanora saw that Tang's conviction, shining brightly from his eyes, was as firm as her own. "You never have. You have always been my guardian," she smiled. She lifted Tang and carried him to the conn, before turning back to Cassandra. "Five to beam down, then. Make sure that Starfleet knows Tang is in this ship."

"I will," Cassandra nodded. "One other thing, before you go. Your sister, Helen. She isn't involved in whatever your mother has gotten your clan into. Intel cleared her of suspicion before I was captured."

Vanora nodded in understanding. Helen's only desire in life was to live up to her title and her mother; Vanora had feared that her older sister's desire for acceptance and praise made her vulnerable to these sorts of machinations. She and her sister were not close, but it was still a relief to here that the family betrayal had been at least somewhat limited.

Cassandra paused before adding, "Since I haven't yet, thank you, Commander. Even if it wasn't us that you were coming for," she smiled. Aleixo and Jhyraoss similarly thanked her, while the two Klingons crossed their arms fiercely in salute.

"Qapla'!" they shouted.

Vanora nodded and mouthed her own thank you to them. She would not have escaped with Tang on her own, that much was clear. She nodded to Tang, and he initiated the transporter. Once the others were safely down in the Embassy, she leaned down and kissed Tang deeply. "I won't be long," she promised. It was heartache for her to leave him again, given how long they had been separated the last time they parted ways.

"Be strong, my Heart," Tang said with a smile. "Do not let anger subsume the beauty of your compassionate soul."

Vanora stood on the transporter pad, took a final long look at Tang, and then gave the command. "Energize."

 

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