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JL | Capt Landon Neyes, Aella | "Ad Astra Per Aspera" Pt 2

Posted on 241902.23 @ 00:25 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Captain Landon Neyes

Mission: Lacuna
Location: San Diego, Earth

Aella sighed when she walked into the apartment’s spare bedroom. It wasn’t her living space, it was his, but the damned spare bedroom had been downgraded into one messy pain in the ass of an office - the fucking office, as he so eloquently put it. It came as no surprise that Landon’s desk was covered with its usual clutter and his large feet were perched precariously on the edge of it, threatening to topple a useless assortment of PADDS filled with false leads he couldn’t compel himself to toss away. Of course she could have just stopped and counted her blessings that he was actually clean - even his shirt was rumpled and she could tell he had been pulling at the thin leather bracelet he insisted upon wearing as some sort of memento and tie to the woman that had gotten under his skin. He had dark circles under his eyes and the floor in front of the desk had been turned into a fort made out of take-out containers - mainly from Boudins, not that she could blame him, their sourdough bread bowls filled with rich broccoli and cheddar soup was nothing short of orgasmic. That said, none of their contents had spilled over, and if she was being honest she’d have admitted that he had kept things relatively neat.

Six days, and he never fucking left. She thought to herself, feeling a bit guilty. Aella knew that this was hard on him and it would be pulling on some sensitive strings, but she had felt that he was doing alright when she had left a week ago to follow up on business ends that needed to be tied. Her hunch had proven terribly correct and it had cost quite a bit of time, energy, and monetary resources... She hadn’t been wrong, but seeing the Trill sitting there and brooding soured the sweetness of her victory. Suddenly she didn’t feel like crowing.

It had been months since they'd gotten more than small tidbits of information about Tr'Bak's whereabouts, and none of them gave any real credence to the realization of Landon's desires and her needs because the damn pointed eared hobgoblin remained unscathed and very much alive.

"So… You haven’t slept?" She knew the answer, but wanted to hear him say it.

Landon didn't even bother looking up, he just nodded and continued running his thumb along the screen of yet another PADD, shuffling through the information it provided. To her, he sometimes looked like a tired and scared little boy, and did so right then, but with eyes that spoke of the pain, sorrow and anger he often felt.

In about five minutes anger was going to be the dominant feature in those pretty baby blues.

"Darling… You look like hell!" She said as lightly as she could. Dropping her shoulder bag in an empty chair.

"Thanks." Landon grinned, his face lighting up the way it always did when he smiled whether he meant it or not. He didn’t. It was yet another hollow display of emotion that he didn’t want to feel until things were done and the issue… Tabled. "You're late." He said, placing the PADD down, gently tapping his chronometer and shaking a finger at her.

It was 7:30 in damned the morning and Aella knew that according to the laws of normalcy that she didn't have to be in until 9. That’s when businesses opened and normal days started - but this wasn’t a normal day and, while this was certainly a business, nothing was normal about it. They were in the business of assassinating a certain Romulan Senator.

It didn’t stop her from maintaining her pain in the ass streak. "I am not!" She emphatically responded with a sharp huff, and finished tying her hair back in a single braid before walking over to his desk and relieving him of the PADD he’d been working on reading. He didn’t need it anyway.

“Listen. I have information you’re going to want to he--”

“Tr’Bak is taking over the Praetorship.” He deadpanned, leaning into the arm of his chair and looking up at the young woman, waiting for the chance to weigh her response. So far, she’d proven to be a terrific partner, diligent, working hard to do everything it took to save the Federation from ruin. That made him the hired gun with monetary resources and a strong, near rabid, desire to end the life of the one that had stolen his from him.

“Uhhh… No?” Aella tore her gaze away from the PADD to stare at Landon, quirking a brow up, “But you’re full of shit so I don’t need to worry.” She added with a shake of her head and roll of her eyes before placing them back on the information. It was a list of sightings, all of them verified, and none of them anywhere near the Vindicator or Federation space - Ascendancy either for that matter.

“Yeah for now I am, but since when does he remain in Romulan space for that long? This guy is good, he knows there’s a lot of money riding on his head, but he's got to slip up soon."

Aella sighed in response, as if mentally announcing that everything was back to normal - as normal as Landon got that was - and she could just melt back into work and the task at hand. Even though she continued to read through the report, she knew that if she forgot something that Landon could quote the whole page back to her. Sometimes it was both blessing and curse that he had somewhat of an eidetic memory, but she knew that such a talent brought with it its fair share of pain. He could remember every detail of what it was that Tr’Bak put him through and every moment of the downfall of his relationship with Rochelle. The deaths of his parents, the taste of defeat. All of it.

She looked at him, studying the facade plastered across his fine features; the one that said he was fine. But she knew he was frustrated, flustered, and pissed that Tr’Bak remained just out of reach, safe and sound on his home turf. The man, the Romulan, was a fucking monster and like Landon, was being driven on by a similar desire.

Ivanova.

“Anyway,” She coughed, “I have an in.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. I got lucky. He has an agent undercover on the Vindicator,” She grinned without looking back up, “And get this - I mean you’re really gonna love this one - the undercover agent isn’t a Romulan at all. It’s Rochelle Ivanova!” Aella guffawed in wild amusement and shook her head as she crowed the most wonderful little bits of the story, “Not like a clone like the one they deployed after they took you, but he actually went all the way this time. Mirror Universe version of Ivanova primed, prepped, and disguised as a fucking counselor! Pretty sure she’s supposed to kill Ivanova and take her place… Just pretty sure.” Her voice drifted off when she finally looked up to catch why Landon hadn’t interrupted. His silence was unnatural to say the least. Maybe to him it wasn’t quite as amusing or fascinating… Maybe.

What she saw was the the color drain from his well tanned face and his eyes grow dark with storm clouds and hints of flashes of lightning roiling beneath the surface. She’d seen him angry and she’d seen him scared, but this was another thing entirely - he was both terrified and violently furious all wrapped into one otherwise interesting burrito of discontent. “Landon?”

His mind reeled, sending him back to the chamber on the Romulan ship and the memories of holding Rochelle - the photos of her anyway - after she again been abducted and supposedly murdered by the bastard. He hadn’t been able to save her that time, and he knew deep in the pit of his very soul that there was so very little he could have done to change things, but still felt morose and horribly guilty. "If he wanted her dead, he’d have killed her long ago.” His voice tasted sour.

“Maybe so,” Aella answered, holding his unsteady gaze, “I mean…”

"No. There’s no maybe. He has a different psychosis driving him. He doesn’t want her dead, he wants her conquered and he can’t convince her to join him so he’ll take her and use his puppet to control the Vindicator." Landon’s hand rained down flat against the top of his desk with a sharp crack of hardened flesh against wood. His jaw flexed as he clenched it and shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair. “Of course… That’s why he doesn’t need to be close right now. He doesn’t want to raise suspicion. Son of a bitch.”

“Y’know, boss, I never thought I’d live to hear the day a Trill used that colloquialism.” The woman grinned, hardly able to contain her amusement even in the face of such a morose discovery on his part, “But yeah… That seems rather logical. I was going to say that I feel like if this doppelganger was going to strike, she’d have done it already.” Mainly because striking now would be next to impossible, considering that Aella had done quite well in planting the notion that the woman’s cover had been blown. Too many questions would be asked, that was for damn sure. Landon, of course, was too radical in his shifts to sit idle and that gave her time to do what she needed to make sure that what she wanted most came to pass.

Landon be damned. Tr’Bak had to die for reasons far deeper than salvaging a marriage and ending a giant pissing match.

“You said she’s the counselor?”

“I did.”

“Makes sense. She’s collecting data, figuring out how the crew behaves and how Rochelle behaves with them. Tristan would know more about this but I don’t have time to include him on this. That’ll be your job.” Landon was in motion again, swinging his feet off the desktop and back to the floor where they belonged. What had to happen next was what had to happen next, there was no denying it and he certainly wasn’t going to simply stand idly by while hell froze over somewhere in the depths of deep dark space. None of what he was working for would make an iota of a difference if he failed to keep her safe this time.

"So… You’re leaving? Going to her?" Aella’s voice was tinged with frustration as she spoke and watched him get to his feet and begin to move around the room, pensive but fluid… Purpose driven. Like it or not, this was actually a good thing. Something that might prove irresistible to a control freak like Tr’Bak.

"He seems to be driven by the need to win. He hasn’t beaten her, not yet, and that’s driving him crazy. He's a narcissist, Aella, once he has her, then he can gloat that he’s won and we’ve lost or whatever he thinks.” A bag was grabbed, long and cylindrical and leather. His favorite bug-out bag, one he could fit all of his necessary items in and leave with in a hurry. Everything else could be bought, “He wants her alive because part of leaving her alive means that she’ll have to live with the memory of what happened to her and knowing that she couldn't beat him." He said flatly, not wanting to make it sound more pleasant, because that would only serve to make him more mad, “And that’s what he gets off on. He always gloated whenever he was face to face with me and I can only imagine how much more he will once he’s face to face with her in that capacity.”

It went unsaid, but Rochelle Ivanova had never been designed to be held captive.

An uncomfortable silence filled the apartment as he moved from room to room filling the bag. Every time he looked at Aella he could see that she didn’t like his idea at all, or maybe - more to the point - she didn’t like that he was leaving and ‘abandoning the cause’ as she put it so often.

It was all she could do to finally catch his eye and nod with what she hoped would come across as a smile of encouragement. Trying to stop him from doing whatever it was he’d set his mind to was a stupid waste of time and resources. If he was going to do dumb, she’d do what she could to soften the landing. Her ace up her sleeve was the fact that the “Counselor” knew the jig was up. Aella had told her as much last they spoke, "Well good luck. I’ll keep working it on my end."

“Thanks. Let Tristan know what you’ve found and I’ll let you know when I get to Cold Station Theta.” He answered, pulling his bag’s drawstring tight and beginning to lock it up.

She nodded and pushed through the door, closing it softly behind her. There was nothing else to say, no warning that he was about to enter a game of hurry up and wait that would console him. He could spend his time stewing and cooling his heels on that station - potentially for months - waiting for that godforsaken ship to return to home port. Like Tr’Bak, Ivanova didn’t want to be caught… For many different reasons, of course, but by the same person no less. If they all died, so be it, so long as the galaxy was rid of Vrith Tr’Bak one way or another Aella couldn't have cared less what resources were used to bring it about.

The end justified the means.

---

Captain Landon Neyes
Starfleet (Ret.)

&

Aella
Resistance Fighter/Spy

 

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