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Com Ivanova, Capt Neyes, Praetor Tr'Bak | "Where Stars Were For Shining" pt 6

Posted on 242002.04 @ 22:36 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Captain Landon Neyes & Vrith Tr'Bak
Edited on on 242002.04 @ 22:50

Mission: Genesis

There was a heavy beat, rather a pause between them as Rochelle's body language shifted slightly. Something made Tr'Bak turn, to look out the window which he found himself beside. Only the crackle of the fireplace and the dull silence of the wintry night looked back - but there was something just off the edge of his perception. It made him squint and lean forth to examine what could only be described as a flicker. It was then he saw, in the reflection of the glass, the PADD he’d given her. It lay face up on the table next to her chair, the single bold word, “window”, blinking on its otherwise dark screen.

In that moment, time felt as if it began to slow. The beating of his heart caught snapshots of what happened next. As he was about to turn away, his keen eyes caught the blur of motion outside and watched as the feebly old window pane shattered, bowing and cracking as it gave way to a massive form plowing through it; the mixture of snow, ice and glass glittered over the shape of a man, clad in all black, lunging at him. Tr’Bak barely moved at all before he was thrown backward, his chest nearly caving in, thanks to the force of the collision. It was a pair of boots that slammed into him, leaving his wasted against the unforgiving floor. He could hear them as they too hit the wood, and looking up, the figure of the man responsible became much clearer.

Two steps from hell, Rochelle stood in front of her chair with a mix of surprise and fascination alight within her widened eyes. The last thing she had expected that evening was the sudden cascade of glass that had hit her or to witness Tr’Bak be brought to the ground by a blur of black rage and icy wind. Initially, it had left her stunned and off kilter, bracing to protect her face from the onslaught of sharp shards. That surprise had quickly shifted to extreme alarm as she instinctively prepared to do what was necessary to protect herself from the threat she had initially perceived to be one of Ravnsson’s men.

Landon, however, was positively seething. His hands gripped the upper edge of the window frame as he completed the kick inside and forearms flexed under the strain before he let go and landed, not losing a single stride as he charged headlong towards Tr’Bak. The frozen look of cold rage etched into Landon’s features matched the frozen air outside, now spilling into the old cabin, and the firelight cast dancing shadows across the floor as the flames reacted to the sudden burst of wind. He did not look to Rochelle, only into the eyes of his target. Somewhere deep inside, the realization she was alive filled him with both elation and furious madness. It exalted his emotions to a place where there was no way to control them and ears of raw and frigid relief began to roll over his cheeks, though that would the extent of his initial response to seeing her alive and well. Stopping wasn't an option, not now. Not with Tr'Bak close at hand and needing to repent for his sins.

And then there was that degree of pain that kept everything so real. Pain that came from a smattering of cuts across his quivering face. Caused by bits of broken glass, they began to weep. The mix of stinging tears and sanguine ran in slow rivulets down his heated cheeks and neck and the pain was like a pull, an invisible tether that bound him to his quarry.

“You.” He throat bellowed between shallow breaths. It was less a word and more a utterance of damnation. It filled the room from wall to wall and was only followed by the crunch of ice and glass beneath his boots as he barreled toward the man who had taken his wife captive.

Tr’Bak attempted to stand, his hands sliding over a slippery and treacherous floor that ultimately denied him any form of traction. The second impact was of his own doing, his body tumbled forward as shock still gripped his lungs and his limbs slipped out from beneath him on the combination of melting snow and glass.

“Will.” Landon’s kick was met with a crack of bone as Romulan was forced back down onto the floor for a third time. Hard enough that he seemed to bounced against the wooden floorboards. He'd reach for the fire iron, but the attempt to arm to himself would be feeble at best. The Trill would intercept as he crossed past the hearth, toeing the poker's bottom and sending it flipping up into his left hand. From there, Landon's path was true and decided. Each step causing the violent ringing in his ears to rise louder and louder.

It was almost sensual, the sensation of it. Landon’s skin tingled with thousands of tiny needles, and waves of hot courses of adrenaline washed over him from tip to toe. His breathing all but stopped each time they connected, reveling in a surge of adrenaline and endorphins he had only achieved during the best and most expensive highs of his life. His mouth almost salivated as he dropped to one knee and in a single motion, drove the iron poker hard into the left fleshy part of the Praetor's left shoulder. The barb penetrated deep and nearly passed through into the wooden floor board underneath.

The Trill leaned in close to the battered man beneath him and took in the sounds of the Romulan's suffering. At long last their eyes locked and Landon's lips parted to whisper one word;

“Pay.”

With a jerk. Landon launched himself back up to a standing position, the poker still caught within his grip. With all of his strength he heaved Tr’Bak back up and onto his feet, using the iron tether like a gaffing hook. It stuck crudely out of the back of the Romulan’s shoulder. Verdant blood and oozed from the would, soaking Tr'Bak's shirt.

About the time Rochelle had convinced herself to take a barefooted step forward, Tr’bak had taken the sole brunt of an undeniably savage force. One even she second guessed her desire to tangle with. By the second step, the sound of the attacker’s voice put her on pause and forced her to both tilt her head and narrow her eyes as the first tendrils of recognition began to creep along her receptors.

This wasn’t Ravnsson, nor one of his goons.

“Jolan…” Tr’Bak coughed, managing a smile as he staggered to keep his feet beneath him, “Jolan tru, Captain.” His face was a mosaic work of green blood, pieces of glass and bits of his own hair that stuck firm to it. In some worlds it would have been considered artwork, but it was anything but art as he considered his predicament. Things were broken. Things called ribs and his collarbone. Had he been a betting man, he’d have placed an incredible number of latinum slips on at least one piece of bone having begun to court his left lung. Beyond all that, the thing that was most troubling was the fire iron that held him tethered to Landon’s grip and disabled his left arm entirely.

His eyes, backlit by his own stubborn good humor and narcissistic lack of fear, bore deep into the arctic landscape of Landon’s, noting the differences between them at that exact moment and the last time he’d left the man for dead. He’d been all but broken then, discarded like some sort of soiled doll. Had he been able to gather enough breath to do more than wheeze like a leaky balloon, he’d have made a comment about it.

A flash of copper, far too soft to be true fire, caught the Praetor’s attention, dragging his eyes from Landon’s face towards Rochelle’s inbound form. He hadn’t bargained for this, long ago having discounted Landon the same way he’d initially discounted her - and now… Now he paid for it, far more bitterly than he had in the past.

She’d kill him. In an instant, she’d kill him. Of that Tr’Bak was most certain.

Except she didn’t.

It may have been foolish to try and get between Landon and his target when he was as incensed and out of control as he was - Rochelle would later reflect that her perception of his control was incorrect. He’d been perfectly focused and perfectly calibrated to carry out his objective, regardless of how brutal and rash it appeared from the outside looking in - but it had become a necessity.

For all of the horrors, atrocities, and pain the Romulan had committed in the name of whatever it was he held holy, his number had not yet been called for penance. Not yet. Not entirely. Hate it as she did, Rochelle knew he now served a different purpose and she, noble as they come, owed the bastard a life debt.

Her hand, small and delicate as it was, slid over Landon’s wrist and over his gloved hand until her fingers curled over his and the iron he held. A glance towards Tr’Bak revealed his struggles to remain standing, his breathing ragged and shallow. Their eyes met, ice to emerald, as she knew they eventually would. His were wider and brighter than she’d ever recalled as he peered back at the keepers of his own mortality. Hers were dark with conflict.

Yes. Conflict.

Her desire to see him dead for everything he’d taken from her. From Landon. From them, mixed heavily with deeper understanding that something far more nefarious lurked in the dark, waiting for them. There was no forgiveness to be found, no true concern for his well being or the life she held in hand, but there was a flicker of understanding. He’d take it.

For an instant, one that felt like the better part of an hour, time held its breath. Wind, snow, and flame curled together as the only things that dared to move, cradling them like a hand of tarot cards and hesitant to flip the final piece of the deck to reveal the outcome of their tangled fates. The elements themselves had become the Hierophant, praising only the bold and cursing them in the same cruel second. They would fall and shatter, bled dry by their own star-crossed misfortune, or they would rise.

Landon blinked. The feel of Rochelle's touch over his hand shook him back into reality, if only for a fraction of an instant. Tr’Bak was still the sole focus of his attention, and his eyes never wavered as they all stood there together. It was only until he realized she was healthy, healed and whole that he slowly reached up to unscrew the knob at the top of the poker. With a free hand he grabbed the collar of the bastard's shirt if only keep him standing while he worked to free him. There would be no outward indication it taxed his strength in any meaningful way, and once the knob popped off, rolling away at their feet, Landon slowly began to push it through the harrowing wound, feeling Rochelle's grip release and her fingers slide along his wrist until they dropped away and left him cold.

Each inch of the poker ground against Tr’Bak’s flesh and bone as it slid like a javelin through him. There would have been no other way to remove it, and Landon really didn’t prefer any other method aside from yanking it out the hard way. For whatever reasons, unclear to him as they might be, he simply did as Rochelle silently asked and spared the bastard’s life. In truth, this act of mercy was the best attempt he could muster for the moment. Though inside his mind, a playlist of snaps and cries could be heard as he meticulously tore the man apart. Bit by bit. Piece by piece. The look on his face made that clear. Every moment and inch that iron slid through the Romulan's shoulder, Landon made sure the green blooded son of a bitch knew it was a message.

With a clatter, the blood smeared iron fell free to the floor behind Tr'Bak and Landon simply let go of the man's collars, letting him sway and drop to the floor along with it. The Trill's eyes left him and he turned to face her, his wife, who lived and breathed with no outward sign of nearly meeting her maker.

Tr’Bak’s all but broken in body, rolled onto his back and allowed his hands to fall across his aching abdomen. Though he contemplated the act of mercy he’d just been gifted, he found it within himself to keep his mouth shut.

For once.

His words, even if he could have gathered them, had no place between them or being aired during a time as valuable and tedious as the one that had enveloped them. It held no feeling of dishonor when their attention turned from him to one another, Rochelle's lingering a few seconds longer until the Trill’s movement caught her peripheral vision and stole her attention.

“You’re Ok.” Landon said, barely above a choked whisper. There was little to no emotion attached to it, aside from it being difficult to say. He could feel it though, the familiar wall of agony crashing and rising as the heat of the moment settled around them. He could feel it… but it simply stopped short of bringing him any outward emotion at all. He blinked again, this time taking a step toward her. There was no passionate moment of reunion, and no fountain of tears. Landon simply looked at her, still lost in the thought of losing her.

It didn’t feel real to him anymore. Not yet. Everyone had convinced him she was dead, and for a small while he had almost given into the assumed reality of her passing himself. What he’d have to do to raise their child alone, and punishing himself for allowing her to die. It still ran like electricity through his brain, and he wasn’t yet sure how to stop it. A small part of him believed it a dream, and this was the part where he awoke at home, drenched in his own sweat and tears.

“You’re ok.” He said again.

At first, she was silent. Watching the way he moved and contemplating the reality of it all. She’d been fooled once by the jackal on the floor… It wouldn't happen a second time. His voice was hollow, a whisper, but held an understated sense of strength that instantly appealed to her greater senses and knowledge of who Landon Neyes was.

When he stepped towards her, Rochelle’s chin lifted in a combination of defiance and self preservation that instantly began to dissipate as the adrenaline was cut by equal parts of recognition and the realization of what had happened. He’d come for her. When all others had likely believed her gone, his faith had dictated that he defy convention, buck the norm, and reject ‘reality’ for what it was. “I wasn’t.” She replied, “I haven’t been.”

It was her turn to eat territory, taking a painful step across more broken glass. Her eyes studied him, the gear he wore, the bloody mess of his face, and the questions alight within his livewire eyes. She cursed herself for the way her hands hesitated before reaching to remove his visor, letting it fall to the floor and exposing his sweat slicked hair to the wintry air that had filled the cabin. From there her eyes followed the familiar expanse of his spots, locating the ones that refused to follow the general convention of his overall pattern until they disappeared beneath the fabric of his high turtle neck.

Only when she was certain that the savage mess of a man before her was indeed Landon Neyes - something about his posture, the way he held himself becoming so dear and familiar - did she reach to brush away the rivulets of blood that marred his handsome face. The bridge of his nose became a point of great interest. The tiniest sliver of glass gave way and pressed to the pad of her index finger as she swept it across his skin and she unconsciously held it up between them as if it were the embodiment of the strife and pain that had befallen them, “It’s ok now.”

Her touch once again quickly brought him closer to reality, and once he’d closed the distance between them, he pulled her in against his chest like he’d never done before. It was an almost desperate embrace, keeping her tightly pressed within his arms. Small and petite as Rochelle was within his embrace, she was his touchstone. It felt as if his world fell back into place once more. She was the missing piece, and the hinge, the capstone to everything he’d come to love about his life. Pressing his face into her neck he could take her in, and finally the emotion began to trickle. A huge breath sounded from him as he nearly buckled in relief as she reached to run her fingers through his hair and soothe him.

“Tristan has the boys. They’re already at Starfleet HQ, but he’s taking them to-...” he stopped, and turned to the man laying on the floor, realizing his mortal enemy was still in the room once again.

“Anyway, they’re safe. I don’t suppose you two were on vacation.” Hesitantly and with regret, he released her and walked towards the injured Romulan.

“He didn’t do this.” Rochelle found the voice that the Praetor lacked, picking her way through the worst of the glass to join her husband where he loomed over the downed and bleeding man. In her hand she bore the same regenerator Tr'Bak used to fix the eye she’d tried to knock from his skull. It was dropped unceremoniously beside him, “He intercepted Ravnsson’s attempt to overthrow Archer.” She added, her brow furrowing as she saw the way the creature struggled to keep air in his lungs. It was pitiful, but fitting.

"By assassinating you?" Landon asked, casting a questioning look at her.

She nodded in response, "A distraction from the main event."

"Hell of a distraction." The Trill blew a heavy sigh. Any second now he was going to wake up. Any second. He nearly reached for Rochelle again, trying to anchor him to her as if he'd be able to drag her back into reality from whatever horrifying dream world he'd fallen into.

Tr’Bak’s eyes opened into thin, emerald slits at the sound of their conversation. From between his lashes, he looked up at the Trill and managed to shake his head. The smirk returned, his trademark choice of expression regardless of how dire the situation seemed to be. “You’re welcome.” He wheezed, lifting his uninjured arm to gesture vaguely to the woman standing just off Landon’s side. He couldn’t quite make her out from where he lay, but knew she was there, alive, and more than well with thanks owed to him for all of it. Maybe even their reunion and the bond they shared, if he dared be so bold to claim credit for such things. “None are safe. Not until Ravnsson is revealed and dealt with…” Breathing was painful, talking even more so.

“They cannot know…” The Praetor continued to rasp, gathering the medical device and beginning to fix the grotesque injury to his shoulder. Never would he admit to feeling vulnerable beneath the redhead’s gaze or that of her avenger, “She’s alive. They’ll butcher her.” His refined features curled into a pained snarl as he fought to find a way to sit up when he was certain the wound had begun to clot - even if those clots had been helped by the fabric of his shirt. It could be properly healed later, the shirt discarded and replaced.

Rochelle, on the other hand, could not be. He looked to her, watching her as she rekindled the fire he’d learned to admire.

In return, Rochelle looked away from Tr'Bak as he continued working to lick his wounds and rest, choosing instead to regard and study Landon and the little hints and tells that wordlessly gave away his thoughts.

“Ravnsson must be outed and caught or she’ll never be safe, none of you will be.” The Praetor finally spat out as his back met the cool sanctuary of a wall. From there he let his eyes close, somehow choosing to trust that they wouldn’t stoop so low as to kill him as he rested. “Exposed… Discarded. You’ll have to do it publicly where he stands no chance of denying her or his involvement and she will need a story as to how she survived.” A hand gestured vaguely towards Landon, “You intercepted the plot,” his head shook, “Not me. I had nothing to do with any of this.”

“There you have it. The reader’s digest version.” The redhead more or less groaned, reaching to pinch the bridge of her nose in hopes of stemming both the adrenaline induced headrush and migraine that was threatening to consume her. Could she escape? Could she simply take the misguided gift Ravnsson had offered and disappear? Could she order Landon to forget her, take their family and go as far from there as he possibly get? Or would she finally stop pretending that papering over the cracks was actually working in any capacity?

No. She'd never be free.

A quick pant of a sigh left her and she turned away, leaving the resting Romulan and Landon half a room’s length away by the time she found herself standing at the ragged window. The sound of blood rushing in her ears and the sharp moan of winter gales drowning out whatever conversation Landon and Tr'Bak may have entered into.

War was coming.

---

Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer
USS VINDICATOR NX-78213-F

Vrith Tr'Bak
Praetor
Romulan Star Empire

Captain Landon Neyes
Retired
Starfleet

 

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