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[Cue The Q] Capt Landon Neyes | "This Dismantled Altar" pt 3

Posted on 241903.20 @ 21:34 by Lieutenant Craig MacLeod & Captain Landon Neyes

Mission: Lacuna

The thought crossed Landon’s mind only to be instantly erased by an all out assault on his senses. His eyes, most definitely, took the brunt. Whether he wanted to believe what was happening, or not (and the ‘or not’ weighed high on his list of options), there was no denying the sudden shift of temperature, humidity, and general atmosphere. He blinked, shaking his head and shielding his face from the blinding flicker of lightning as his face screwed up in response to the pain created by sudden photosensitivity. It wasn’t expected and his poor pupils, thrown from the relative light of his bathroom and then into darkness only to have bright hot light shone into them without warning, simply couldn’t keep up.

Cursing the returning dark, Landon had nearly missed a flurry of motion, and certainly would have had the sky not writhed again in agony, roiling as it succumbed to jagged spears of lightning ripping further wounds into its side. On cue, the cacophony of thunder rang out over the hammering drive of nail like hail against his flesh. It hurt. All of it hurt, but it did nothing to dim his senses when and where it concerned Rochelle. He’d know her anywhere and a brief glance over his shoulder showed no sign of the mysterious apparition of ‘Javaan’.

He was alone, left with nothing more than a savage storm and the fleeting spectre of his estranged wife disappearing into the maelstrom of rain, wind, and hail.

“ROCHELLE!” Landon bellowed, starting off in her direction. She was running, tripping, stumbling, in a uniform torn to shreds. In the instinctive horror of the moment, he himself limped with every shoe-less foot fall against those knifelike rocks, something that prompted him to notice the quick flashes of her pale bare soles as she continued to put distance between them.

”I run faster without the stupid boots.” She’d once explained, calling his long legs an unfair advantage during their training sessions. She’d even argued that the extra flexibility through her ankle allowed for a quicker and less awkward turn of foot. He’d simply laughed and allowed her to proceed, barefoot. That was her, always high spirited. Always stubborn. Always refusing to be bested… And now she bolted through what felt like a gods awful dream. The rocks had to have shredded the skin from her feet as she ran, every step leaving behind a heartbeat's worth of blood on the water-swollen ground, but try as he did it never seemed to be enough to allow him to gain ground. She was untouchable and she was undeniably injured. Two things that both frustrated and terrified him.

“ROCHELLE! STOP!”

But she didn’t. His voice had been snatched up by the wind to nip with bloodthirst at her heels and it was all he could do to follow in the dark, ducking branches and leaping fallen logs as she veered from the gravel road and into the cover of the half-frozen forest.

But Landon wasn’t the only one hunting the Phoenix that night.

Aella wasn’t quite near as stealthy as Rochelle, and certainly not as fleet of foot. Even in pain, even damaged as she was, Rochelle’s dogged determination and knowledge of natural environments kept her just ahead of the brunette and Landon alike. He noticed the other woman a second too late, careening through the dense underbrush with a swear and a scowl, a firearm of some fathom brandished in her dominant hand. Rochelle, knowing her life was on the line, winged through the woods as if she were nothing more than mist rising from the moss and pine.

It took his breath from him, left him reeling, but he didn’t have time to stop and second guess things. Rochelle, unarmed, was running for her life with a well armed Aella hot on her tail in an environment that refused to grant salvation nor forgiveness to fools who trod within its holds unprepared to leave tribute or make sacrifice.

There was the flash of light. Not lightning, not this time. It was green and hot, so bright he’d nearly been convinced it was lightning for the briefest of moments before realizing that thunder failed to follow. It clicked, seconds later, that Aella had fired a Romulan disruptor. Rochelle remained upright, luck having her dart left when Aella anticipated her arcing to the right. Luck was never meant to stay, though, it was always fleeting in nature and hardly fair. Fortune may have favored the bold, but it chose not to kiss Rochelle twice. The suddenness of a mis-step taken by the redhead, sent her into the underbrush to crawl and scramble against the icy wetness in an ill-fated try at finding her feet again made his heart lurch. She’d avoided being shot only to fall prey to uncharacteristic clumsiness and the unforgiving greed of gravity. Aella chortled, panting as she came to a stop, and took aim.

“No… NO NO! ROCHELLE! RUN, GOD DAMN IT!” He screamed, panting against the cold air as he caught up to them, aiming to drive his shoulder into Aella’s back, but found himself hitting the ground on the other side of her instead. The pain at having passed through the vesper only bubbled worse when, from his place in the mud, he hurled a rock in the brunette’s direction only to watch it pass through her face. Neither woman turned to face him, neither acknowledged the rock nor voice nor way he violently crashed into the sloppy muck. Aella closed in as Rochelle picked herself up, and both of them began what could only be described as the dance of death.

Back on her feet, the sodden redhead stood defiant, poised, and vibrant against the dark, burning bright in the face of certain death. She favored her right leg as she crab stepped to counter Aella’s mania, but her mouth was drawn tight, her eyes harboring the same intensity he’d once seen her set upon... “Vrith Tr’Bak. You’ve been his all this fucking time.” she huffed with a shake of her head, her breath curling skyward as frost and steam, “What do you think Landon will do when he figures you out, hmm? What do you think he’ll do when he finds out that I’m dead?”

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s the one that killed you.” Aella sniffed, they were the words of the cruel from a woman he largely considered an ally. She was hardly that, pointing a Romulan weapon at Rochelle. Landon recognized the disruptor right away, he’d pulled it off Tr’Bak on a dance floor once upon a dream ago, the night the Vindicator-E had been destroyed to be exact. It was his, something he thought was safely stored away in his bag, seeing as how such things were contraband, but the idea of killing the bastard with his own firearm had been too tempting a dream to ignore. He’d lived to regret it, standing there helpless to do much more than watch and pray to whatever God was listening that they spare Rochelle from his stupidity.

Ignorant of his faux pas, Rochelle’s head shook, sending bit of rain soaked hair away from her face, “Because…?” She asked, quirking her brow, “You’re going to have to help me out here, Aella, I’m not following you.” She was buying herself time, Landon recognized the tactic. Frozen in place and helpless as he was, he recognized her words and careful progress.

“That’s far enough.” The brunette snapped, “He can’t let you go and we can’t let him go. You can’t save him, Rochelle. He belongs to this, he always has.”

“Landon belongs to no one but himself.” Rochelle retorted, her voice harboring both pride and defeat as she spoke, showing her palms for what they were worth, “You might have him convinced that he’s doing the right thing, provoking the Romulans, but eventually he’s going to figure it out and that Tr’Bak wants those listening posts destroyed. And when that happens?” The redhead smirked, her head shaking, “You’re fucked.” In the second between the lightning and the thunder, the struggle was lost. The taunt tore from her mind to erupt in one strangled yelp of surprise as a bright, green beam caught her midsection, twisting her body and slamming her to the sodden ground.

Underneath the roar of the storm, Landon could hear himself screaming.

For a moment that was all he heard as his own knees hit the ground, mud splashing up to meet him as he watched Rochelle’s eyes well with pain and morbid understanding.

He could see the steel cords of her nerves fray and snap as she extended one hand to claw at the ground. Skin and fingernails tore and peeled away; blood seeped into cracks in the stone and mud, but she moved an inch. And another. Fighting, shoving, until she was on her knees. One breath... All feeling was drowned by the defiance pulsing inside her. Her fingers stretched skyward to wrap themselves around a narrow trunk, struggling to pull herself up by the stars until, for one wild moment in the middle of the storm, she stood, and the sky held its breath in awe.

The ensuing fight was brief.

The disruptor jammed and Aella, perhaps stunned by the fact her prey had so much gumption left in her, had been taken by surprise enough to allow Rochelle to grasp the weapon and free it from her grasp with the sickening crack of a broken wrist and and the appropriate wail of pain such an injury elicited from the brunette’s lips.

Rochelle’s was a victory never meant to be long lived, however.

It was beaten down, quite literally, by a quick kick to Rochelle’s profusely bleeding belly, a blow strong enough to send the savage spark of a woman back to the rocky loam with a heavy thud and splash, but this time she lay in a rather self satisfied bundle of fire and ice. Laughing.

She would get the last laugh. Aella would never make it out of the forest alive. Her body would be found in a ravine some fifty feet away, having taken a wrong step in her haste to flee the scene of the murder of a member of Starfleet's brass, and fallen to her death. Rochelle, on the other hand, would whither ‘alone’ in the cold and rain, succumbing as much to hypothermia as she did to her injuries while Landon remained invisibly at her side, trying to stroke her hair with his cold and muddy fingers. Trying to gather her into his arms, calling her name and begging the Gods that they spare her. They wouldn’t. They’d forsaken the pair of them over two decades ago, taking the life and promise of their unborn child just as quickly as they’d gifted it and as such seemed as if they had no further use for them from that point on. She'd die knowing failure, that she'd left the universe before she could finish Tr'Bak and save Landon's soul from everything that dared to torment it. She said as much, whispering her last confessions to whatever God happened to be listening that night as she lay at their dismantled altar, broken and bloodied.

“Rochelle… No, baby, no... ” He choked when her body no longer shivered, her chest no longer rose, and the light finally left her eyes. It was all too real. All too fast. Rochelle…


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To Be Continued...
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Captain Landon Neyes
Retired
(Borrowed momentarily by Spaceman)

 

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