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No Further Use

Posted on Thursday February 4th, 2021 @ 12:47am by Wraet tr'Melanth & Cleo Ortega

Mission: Marauder's Map
Location: In orbit of Rangalor V
2413 words - 4.8 OF Standard Post Measure

Cleo would’ve liked to say that her situation had improved following her liberation from the prisoner transport, but she wasn’t certain she truly believed that was true. Yes, she was no longer in DPI custody, but by no means did Cleo feel free. It felt like she’d simply traded one overseer for another. At least the rebels were kinder, if less able to provide.

“Wake up, we’re here.” A rough voice accompanied a gentler nudge as one of them roused her. Cleo knew from the voice that it was Maurice, or so the others called him. She doubted that was his actual name, but she cared little about the deception. The less she knew about these people or their plan, the better. That meant less she would have to try and hold back when the DPI recaptured her. Cleo might not be a hardcore rebel, but she was no collaborator.

As she straightened up in her seat, Cleo quickly realized that during her slumber she’d leaned her head against Maurice’s shoulder. Not surprising. During prisoner transports she’d been notorious for that. Half the time the women shackled in next to her had shoved her awake for intruding on what little personal space they had, but not Maurice. He’d let her sleep.

Cleo had to look for the little things, the simple courtesies, to try and come to the belief that yes, she really was now better off.

“Where are we?” Cleo asked as she stretched, not realizing what she’d done. At least she was no longer wearing restraints; that was definitely a plus, Maurice answered before she could take the question back.

“In orbit of Rangalor V.” Said quickly. It appeared her question had caught him off-guard as well. She’d asked so few, and said so little, that her handler had indulged her without thinking the one time she did speak up.

“Rangalor…” Cleo tested the word as she looked at one the shuttle’s datafeeds showing the planet. Sadly she was not up front in the shuttle’s cockpit, and couldn’t see the place with her own eyes. “I’ve never been to a planet before.” She said, in a simple, matter-of-fact tone. Technically that probably wasn’t true. While she was convinced that all of the prisons she’d been held in were either in orbit or somewhere out in deep space, she had no way of knowing for sure. Her liberators had told her that the one she’d just left was in a hollowed out asteroid, but even with that she had to take them at their word.

“Well don’t get your hopes up. You probably won’t be today.” Maurice said simply as he waited. Cleo watched him as he spoke, trying to read his body language. He was alert, but not overly nervous. Either he knew the people they were going to meet, or knew enough to have some confidence in the plan.

After triple checking all of the appropriate signals and countersigns, Wraet beamed over the rebel ship. He lifted one hand in Vulcan-style salute. "Live long and prosper," he greeted, staying in character though he was reasonably certain that most of the group at least suspected his true origins.

"And you, Sargon," Maurice replied, but with a closed fist.

At that last countersign, Wraet nodded and relaxed his grip on the case he was carrying as there would be no need to crush the handle, releasing a gas that would buy him moments of crucial initiative in a fight. "I have brought the supplies you requested. Be careful of the case. The handle is old and battered," he said, handing it over. His eyes moved to the one person he did not recognize. She was young, even for a Betazoid, and especially so for a doctor, but if his information had been correct she had had a considerable amount of practical experience despite her few years. "I take it this is our medic?"

Cleo glanced at the case of supplies, wondering what she was being traded for. The Vulcan's choice of words describing her didn't sound very promising. Our medic. It was as if the whole matter was decided, and any input from her was irrelevant. She opened her mouth to say something--she wasn't quite sure what--but before she could utter a word Maurice held a hand to her shoulder, as if barring her from stepping forward to join in the conversation. Annoyed, she tugged at the faded pleather jacket someone had given her to wear. It had seen better days, not unlike most of the people she'd met. As she did so, the scarf wrapped around her neck loosened, revealing a glimmer of her metallic suppression collar. She didn't appear to notice.

Maurice did. "She's trained alright, our man made sure of that. Might still be a bit wild though, they say she was raised by Jackals." He said as he carefully took the case, placing subtle emphasis on the last word. Jackal was a more recent codename for the long-destroyed Pacifica. "Might want to check her for bugs. And do something about that collar." He glanced at Cleo and winked.

Cleo glowered at her handler. The DPI had treated her like a dog, but that didn't mean that she was about to let these people do the same. Or were they testing her? She suspected Maurice's words, however demeaning, did have a more subtle intent. She looked at the Vulcan, wanting to shift her glare his way, as if to dare him to talk about her that way too. Her gaze lost some of its intensity though. This Sargon seemed not unlike the other Vulcans she'd met, but there was something about him that made him seem a little intense. She couldn't explain it, and attributed it to everything being so clandestine.

"I trust you have checked her for infestation," Sargon replied, addressing Maurice. "But I shall certainly perform a follow up, and deal with the collar. I have always had a certainly ...partiality... toward Jackals and dislike seeing one subjected to such restraint." Turning his attention to Cleo, he softened his expression somewhat. The girl had been through Elements knew what and looked every bit the wary caged animal. "I am Sargon. My associates are in need of a medic and my understanding is that you have both skill and experience."

Associates. One of those words that was so perfectly neutral and vague. But if she was being true with herself, Cleo did not have a better word to describe anyone she knew. Anyone who knew her was either an enemy or an associate. It was a place to start. And Cleo had to start somewhere, right? She wasn't exactly in a position to strike out on her own, and even if she could, how far would she really get? And if she turned herself in, she would have to endure an unpleasant gauntlet of interrogation sessions all over again before she got to see a relatively nice and peaceful prison cell where she could fade back into obscurity. That was assuming she was allowed to live. Her options were limited, and none of them were good, really.

"Hi Sargon..." Cleo said, almost replying with her own name. Then she wondered if any of them were even using real names. Probably not. In all likelihood, this Sargon probably already knew her name. She would have to come up with a suitable alias later. "Are you and your... associates also likely to require treatment for disruptor wounds in the near future?" Cleo knew it was a stupid thing to ask, and it pretty much was a rhetorical question. She was just tired of all this talk about jackals and whatever. Their medic had been shot with a disruptor during the prison break. While not immediately life-threatening, the wound had been quite unpleasant and had required professional treatment. It had also been too debilitating for their medic to treat himself. What these folks really wanted was a medic with discretion, as going to a legitimate doctor or hospital with such an injury was asking for a whole lot of trouble with the authorities.

So she did have some experience, and had some grasp of the situation even if her youth was betrayed by her attempt at a periphrasis. Wraet almost smiled, but no matter what they might suspect, Maurice and his crew had never seen any evidence that he wasn't Vulcan, and he wasn't going to break character now. "That is something we prefer to avoid, but one must be prepared as probability cannot be expected to correlate with preference. In exchange for your assistance should preference fail, we offer you a place, and protection, insofar as we can provide it for anyone."

Though that arrangement didn't sound that far off from what Cleo had known aboard the Pacifica, she knew better than to assume that Sargon's crew would operate the same way. In prison she had met former members of various other resistance groups, but she'd also met criminals and terrorists. Most claimed that they had once operated under the rules and regulations of Starfleet, but desperation had forced them to stray. Where would this group be on that spectrum? Where did Cleo stand? She'd never really figured that out.

"I'll need a clinic, or at least a room or two to set up in if you want me to keep people alive. That and tech. Tech or enough drugs to take the edge off the lack of it. I'm not going to do my job out of a field kit, conducting a train of walking wounded. I'm not an amateur." Cleo stated, in a sharp departure from her timid state only a moment before. It was not a planned deception, she'd just recognized that the negotiation phase of this interaction had begun. She didn't like fighting, but when the need came she knew when and how to fight over the scraps needed to survive. Cleo had never been particularly close to her mother, but she'd learned that much from her.

Wraet nodded, resisting a smile - despite Dominion captivity she still had spirit. "Obtaining one is the next objective. But we can discuss the specifics a more opportune time." He looked back to Maurice. "We are grateful for your efforts. I shall detain you no further."

Cleo said nothing at first. She'd already said enough without thinking, and was now trying to keep the trend from becoming a habit. There were some noticeable shifts in her body language though; her expression tightened, with a faint pursing of her lips. So no base of operations... or even a safe house. Cleo thought. She hoped that Sargon and his people were new, or new to this particular crew. It was either that or they were amateurs. She dropped the thought as soon as she considered it for two reasons. One, Cleo would be the first to admit that she about as jaded as they come and optimism did not come naturally to her, if at all. Two, Maurice and his pals did not seem like amateurs. If recaptured, she could potentially comprise his unit. There was no way she'd be handed off so casually. There had to be other variables in play. That or she was wrong in her estimation of Maurice. Cleo was just going to have to go along, and wait and see.

"I guess that settles it, then." Cleo said with a shrug. She stepped forward, even though it probably just wasted movement if they were going to beam her out. She turned and offered Maurice a subtle wave goodbye.

Wraet took a short step toward her, nodded to Maurice and activated his transport beam. A moment later they materialized in a small sleek craft. He ran more thorough check for bugs, then relaxed his Vulcan attitude slightly - the ship was obviously Romulan to anyone familiar with even the letters on the screens. That might or might not apply to Cleo, but he saw no reason to be overly cool toward the girl especially after what she had been through. "I will introduce you to the others soon. We have a day's journey ahead of us to the rendezvous. Unfortunately, I cannot relieve you of that collar with the tools here. Is there anything else you require?"

Cleo listened, but was more than a little distracted by the chance in scenery. She'd never been aboard a Romulan vessel, but she could read some of the language, enough to decipher medical records and basic texts. She couldn't say whether or not the ship was Romulan, but the crew interface suggested that might be the case. By the time Sargon mentioned the collar she was more or less paying attention again, but she did little but offer a nonchalant shrug. Even if he did have the tools, she probably wouldn't have been comfortable doing anything about it. The guards had warned her that tampering with it would be bad for her health, but she doubted that there were actually any kind of security countermeasures on the thing, given how rarely they'd inspected it. They'd probably just meant it as a general threat. No, she needed to understand more about how it worked before she dared try to remove it.

"No thanks, I don't really require anything at the moment..." Cleo began to reply. It was true, she wasn't hungry, she'd just taken a nap, and wasn't really feeling any other physical needs at the moment. In a way she was still very much in the prison mindset--asking for, and expecting very little. She did venture a request however. "...but if you have any music, or something to read, that would be nice." Cleo finished as she looked around for somewhere comfortable and out of the way to sit.

"I have both in fact," Wraet replied, opening a library browser on a PaDD and handing it to her before tapping short sequence on his console. "I hope you like human blues. I've come to ....appreciate... the genre."

A moment later the sound of a guitar and human voice filled the cabin:

"I was born by the river, in a little tent
Oh, and just like the river
I've been running ever since

It's been a long
A long time coming
But I know a change gonna come..."


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