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PLOT - JDL | Com Ivanova, Cmdr Archer | "All the Queen's Horses"

Posted on 241808.16 @ 13:05 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Commander James Archer

Mission: Lacuna

By the time the Campbeltown had snugly docked with Cold Station Theta, it was half past three in the morning. She wasn’t on any lists. She wasn’t seen by the public. Her crew and cargo weren’t off-loaded in the typical fashion and everything was conducted behind closed doors with two women quickly spirited away to medical for further checks and care. A handful of prisoners were removed by force by several rather burly MACO’s and an Andorian tiredly departed after submitting his reports. After that, the station’s own Intel officer scurried back into the shadows. This left James Archer to his own devices and on his own devices he was making a beeline towards the Vindicator.

As late as it was, and as likely it was that Rochelle was fast asleep, he knew that she’d want to know any and every detail he could, and would, afford her. There was only so much one could glean from incredibly bland reports that would wind up on her desk come morning and he knew there would be questions. Questions that the answers to had no business being given in front of anyone else but her and whatever God happened to be playing the role of celestial peeping tom.

“James…” She answered, bleary eyed and more than a little tired. To see him standing at her door, disheveled and unshaved from break neck travel was more than a little disconcerting. In fact, it left her with a furrowed brow and one hand tight on the neck of her robe as she stepped aside and ushered him into her living room, happy that Almar hadn’t chosen to spend the night. “Javaan is asleep,”

“I’ll keep it short and quiet.” He nodded in understanding.

“Thank you.”

He knew her next stop was coffee for him, tea for her. They never managed to make it to the couches as he followed her into the kitchen and rested against the counter closest to the sink, “It’s done.” He said simply, his sharp eyes watching her every graceful move. Even tired and making coffee, she was elegant and poised. A marvel of science that defied and bucked the norm in just about every way. Landon Neyes was a stupid man.

Rochelle froze for a second, missing half a beat before retrieving Archer’s coffee and handing it to him. Light and a sweet, touch of French Vanilla. An easy order that had become relatively engrained in her memory from the years spent sitting in conference and meeting with the Spook. “What is?” She asked, cradling her own cup of tea close to her chest.

Archer sighed, taking the offered mug and shaking his head. “What you asked to have done is done, Rochelle. They’re dead. A handful of underlings were brought back for the sake of a trial and giving Starfleet something to chew on, but the rest are dead.” A sip of the hot beverage turned his words into an appreciative hum, “We blew up the damned station. Shran set most of the charges himself… I made sure no one else got out. Dani wasn’t happy, she did some running around and freeing various innocents, but for the most part…” His voice trailed off as he swirled the soft beige liquid in his mug.

Her jaw tightened in response and she was forced to suck in a sharp breath through her nose. Zett had warned her of the price she was going to pay. Archer had more or less alluded to it, but agreed to do her bidding… They had all agreed to do her bidding and in response to the knowledge that so many had perished, she felt the contents of her stomach somersault and flip flop. “How many innocent people lost their lives?” she heard herself asking.

Rochelle was a glutton for punishment, after all, and this had been something she’d demanded without second thought given. It was a result of her anger and foolish pride bent on destroying and teaching those who screwed with her ‘family’ a lesson - but just who had she lashed out at? The Orions? Landon’s drugs? Tr’Bak? Did it really fucking matter anymore?

“I don’t know an exact number. No one ever will. Just be happy that Dani got out safe and did what she could,” Archer’s weight shifted from one hip to the other, watching her eyes darken and her skin lighten. He’d expected this. “A lot of people died. That’s all I know and that’s the price we pay for running operations like this. That group isn’t going to forget this for a very long time.”

The tea cup hit the counter beside the sink so hard Rochelle was certain it had shattered as she set it down - but she hadn’t time to do anything else with it in any other fashion. Her stomach lurched, bending her over the counter as it violently deposited what was left of her dinner into the sink. She’d fucked up. Made the wrong call. Or was it the right call? Didn’t matter because collateral damage was collateral damage and people who were victims as much as Si’a and the Commander had lost their lives to her hasty dealing of punishment. But how many others had died at her hands? Certainly there had been plenty of innocent children and spouses on any number of the enemy crafts she’d blown from the stars over the years - and she’d never paused to think about them. What made this situation different, though, is that she wasn’t fighting for her life in a kill or be killed situation - she’d ordered scorched earth without a second thought to the repercussions and ignored the warnings.

Now… Now she was shaking, trying her damnedest not to hurl for a second time, and clutching the counter top with weakening white knuckles.

Archer had anticipated this indeed, anything less would have left him deeply concerned for the woman and her psyche and questioning everything he thought he knew about her and life in general. He could have smiled having been proven to be correct yet again. “You’re not a monster.” He whispered to the woman as he gathered her hair back from her face before it could mix with the mess in the sink. The fiery silk twisted easily in his hand, giving him a chance to gently tuck it down the back of her robe and out of the way. “I know that’s what you’re thinking, but you’re not a monster.” Rubbing her shoulders became second nature, trying to comfort a creature that was anything but numb to the situation that had been created.

“How can you say that?” Rochelle hissed. Her eyes were squeezed shut against the continued waves of nausea and overwhelming feelings of guilt and vulnerability that had come to claim her as a prize.

“Because I know monsters, baby, I know them real well.” If anyone was a monster in this particular case, it was him. Numb to it all, worry free, conscience clear - yep… Monster. Through it all, every hardship, she’d managed to maintain her humanity, heart, soul, and morality. If anything, she was a miracle. A quick flick of his wrist and the water was turned on and making short work of removing the mess in the sink.

“You’re a force to be reckoned with, no doubt,” Archer continued, releasing her for sake of finding a dish towel and a glass, wetting one and filling the other, “but a monster?” His index finger caught her chin, turning her face towards him, “Not even close.” There was surprising little to clean up, testimony to the fact she was very much an adult and not a small child incapable of puking without destroying an entire room and herself,which came as a great relief. Instead he used the towel as a compress, cooling her forehead and cheeks and offered her the water glass for a sip.

“I don’t know how to respond to that in a way that won’t cause an argument.” The redhead breathed, suffocating her sentiments with a drink and letting him soothe the burn of embarrassment that had manifested over her skin.

“Then don’t respond. Don’t dwell. Just be happy that everyone is home safe, Si’a and Shran’s baby included, and move on.” He shrugged as if it was simple, but he knew it wouldn’t go down so easily for the often overly cerebral woman in front of him, “At least try to get some sleep. I’ll keep everyone from bothering you until a normal hour, ok?”

“Fine.” She didn’t like it, but she’d accept it for what it was. Her own doing. It had been successful, though, achieving what she’d set out to achieve. Si’a was back where she belonged, a family kept intact. The Commander was back on the station and free to live her life. Those responsible had paid the price and word was now out that she’d stop at nothing to protect that which ‘belonged’ to her. “I’m so--”

A finger quickly covered her lips, “Never say you’re sorry for actions like these. They’re the hard ones, but the right ones. You’d never have thought twice about any outcome had it been Javaan that was taken.” Archer leveled with her, only removing his digit from her mouth when he was certain she understood and wouldn’t fight him further, “Now let’s get you back to bed and me to a shower. I smell like burnt top ramen and I don’t like it.”

“Now you know the real reason I vomited.” Rochelle groaned in jest. It was laugh or cry. She chose to laugh for the moment even if it was at his expense. Crying wasn’t an option so long as he remained within ear shot, it solved nothing - but it helped release the ache that was building in her chest. In many ways it was a reminder that she was was, in fact, still human and that the brass pips and accolades meant nothing at the end of the day. Leaving that kitchen only made it marginally easier to begin to process everything that was going through her head at that moment. The fatigue, the sadness, the worry, the relief… All of it boiling down to a violent rumbling pain sitting deep in her chest. Archer was right, though. Through it all she’d never have batted an eye over any of it had it been Javaan taken and retrieved. She’d have called it an unfortunate circumstance, which it was indeed, and made peace with it being a necessary evil during a situation where there was no time to herd every innocent bystander to safety. It still didn’t mean she had to like it or that she mourned any less, though… It also did little to ease her as she sustained the first wave of shock that came from such an act.

“Consider that a freebie, your Majesty.” Archer quipped quietly, guiding her through the command suite to her bedroom and ultimately tucked her back into bed, the water glass being taken from her hand and set on the nightstand beside her. “Good night.”


Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer
USS Vindicator, NX-78213-F

Commander James Archer
Chief Intelligence Officer
USS Vindicator, NX-78213-F


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