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[Plot] JL - Cmdr Dahe'el, Cmdr Archer | "Audaces Fortuna Iuvat"

Posted on 10/27/2021 @ 7:38pm by Commander Almar Dahe'el & Commander James Archer
Edited on on 10/28/2021 @ 1:46am

Mission: Genesis

There were things far worse than death. Things that played havoc with the mind, that toyed with emotion. Things that left one broken… Life…

Life was far less universal than death insofar that everybody eventually dies, but not everybody truly lives. It was that very notion that made life far worse than death. Especially when that life revolved around so much hardship and strife.

Especially when one not only had to endure loss, but persecution as well.

Almar was many things, but a simple man was not one of them. He had grown up in a world that had instantly chosen to paint a target on his back and leave it there for all to see, for all to use for throwing knifelike barbs and all things wicked in his direction. Being born Cardassian had truly meant to be born as something widely considered ‘evil’ by conventional society - and perhaps with good reason. Afterall, in war, the other side is often depicted as something worthy only of being beaten and consumed. It didn’t matter that his parents hadn’t a thing to do with the war, the Dominion, or any part of anything nefarious in nature whatsoever - but the facts often didn’t matter when it came to the demonization of an entire race of people.

In truth, the man was both a paradox and a titan, having cared enough to forge ahead and climb through the ranks of Starfleet in spite of everything levied, by life, against him.

So when it came down to brass tacks and the very worst of tides turned and roiled steadfast against the shores of the Federation, he was more than ready.

Ravnsson wore a tarnished crown upon his less than noble brow, but it was a crown nonetheless and it came with a power most frightening and unwieldy when placed in the hands of a madman or monster. Almar knew it, and moreoff, he felt it. He felt it rise in his veins both as the white hot boiling of anger and the undeniable prickle of anxiety - a disturbance along his nervous system prompting him to take action, to batten down the hatches and prepare to ride out a storm that would undoubtedly prove to be both brutal and unforgiving.

The night of the election, Almar had felt hope begin to dim and die. So many had already given up the fight and the hunt for answers, but he’d remained stalwart in his efforts to find her. The only flame that could both reignite the candle of hope and light the path towards salvation was anything but extinguished within his heart and soul - but the ability to find her, to bring her home, to restore her… That was beginning to fade.

With tea cooling in an untouched kettle, Almar had sat stunned and broken within his chair. His head had rested in his hands for what felt like hours with silence ruling supreme over his quarters. While he could have screamed, could have cried, he knew such actions were fruitless wastes of precious time and energy.

“I know you’re out there…” His dry lips wrapped around the words of reverence with a voice so cracked and gravelly, “Somewhere.” Yes. Somewhere. Somewhere only Ravnsson likely knew and there was no promise of her condition…

NO.

No. His mind wasn’t going to wander into the darkness. Not when there was so much to do and be done.

What Almar did do on that vile eve was summon Archer to his quarters.

---

“I’m not going to lie, it’s a solid idea and a comprehensive package, but I’ve got to ask… Are you absolutely sure you want to include him on this?” James looked up from the desk to find the Cardassian’s grim features. It wasn’t like Almar to come across as brusque or feral, but times had turned for the very worst and so too had his humor and demeanor. The spook’s hand smoothed across the console, feeling the cool interface beneath his palm as it sat poised and ready for his command to be made. “You could be setting us all up for a much greater fall than we’ve already taken.”

“I’m sure,” nodded Almar, motioning almost flippantly towards the terminal his friend sat at, “Vokar won’t stand for another racist at the helm of the Federation. We’ve already seen what he’s done in the past in those regards.”

One of the spook’s brows quirked upward, his forehead wrinkling in thought as it did. “All that means is that he’ll bring war.” He cautioned flatly, “Is that your plan for revenge?”

The Cardassian paused, visibly considering and weighing the options and the outcomes. While Rochelle may have been a naturally gifted tactician, able to plot battles by several moves and visualize recourse to every possible variation with relative ease, Almar was an engineer capable of structuralizing in an entirely different way. It left him with much the same foresight, just with different tools of execution and methods and reasons that required far less bloodshed. “It’s not revenge, it’s an insurance policy.” He finally replied, “It makes sure that he pays for what he’s done and isn’t able to dole out any more damage and that he pays for…” His voice trailed off, his mouth balking against the taste of the words yet to come and patently refusing to utter them. The more credence he gave the idea of her death, the more likely the universe was to accept it.

The sentence didn’t need to be finished for James to understand the meaning and instinctively know the finished bits of the verse. He reached to scratch the back of his head and let his fingers trail until they cupped the back of his neck, squeezing to release the tension as it began to build, “Okay.” The word was breathed on a quick sigh, “I’ll send everything to Vokar and Hark.” The leather of the seat squeaked beneath him as he twisted to fully face the other man, “On one condition.”
It was Almar’s turn to raise a brow. His head tilted and his mouth unpursed from the thin line it had formed, “And what is that?”

“You tell me why you think she’s still out there.”

A pin could have fallen and its impact been deafening with how quiet the room became almost instantly. Almar felt the tension rise within every muscle and sinew of his body. He could so easily have just said ‘I just do, send the fucking message’, but in this time and in this place, such contrary passive aggressive responses held such little weight. His lips once more pressed together as his hands found the bottom of his plain white shirt. His fingers set to gathering up the hem and guided the fabric up his torso and up over his head, revealing his bare chest for Archer’s eyes.

What may have come across as an odd freckle to some, was unmistakable to learned eyes. The mark of Atlantean pair bonding was clear as day, bright as anything against his alabaster skin between his pecs. At first his eyes cast low, reaffirming that it was still indeed there and hadn’t faded, but they soon found Archer’s once again and his fingers brushed over the spot in reverence to its significance. “Now you know a whole new secret.” He finally spoke, offering the barest simper of a smile, “I have to believe that she’s still alive if the mark is still there and hasn’t faded.”

James didn’t need to look at the console to see where the ‘send transmission’ button was. His fingers found it with practiced ease, his thumb sealing the deal with his biometric signature while his head nodded and his eyes took in the mark for what it was. “So the rumors were right.”

“Yes.”

“Not those rumors. I already knew you two were sleeping together. I know everything that happens on this ship.” The spook snorted sharply and waved him off, “We received word in June that Rochelle had been spotted on Japori II. I went with Parsuv to the planet and spent three weeks trying to find her and met every roadblock you can think of.”

Almar blinked rapidly, his expression falling as he absorbed the information offered to him, “You didn’t tell me? Why?” He asked, incredulous and hurt even though his heart quickened at the news. Part of him wanted to change course from Theta to head to the backwater little world. It was neutral territory, just outside of the Federation’s stronghold, but a stone’s throw from the station. So close and yet so far. So very far.

Behind the spook, the computer beeped compliance and spat out the thin chip that had been inserted. Plucking it up, James held it out for Almar to reclaim, “Because no one wanted to give you false hope, Dahe’el. It was easier to explain things had we found something than to deal with crushing people’s spirits.” He explained, “Besides… We had no idea who was watching who and where. It was easier for Parsuv and I to get away and do our jobs. That’s what we do, clandestine secret agent type bullshit.”

Getting to his feet, James came to stand in front of his friend, “If she’s out there, all we can do is hope she’s free and far far away from this insanity.” There’s a lot that he would have given to be able to hit the redo button on the last year and a half, but such things were near impossible and limited to temporal rifts and fairytales spun by the Q. In short… Impossible. He sighed, once again running fingers through his short hair, “Y’know… If we are to meet our doom… I’m honored to die beside you.”

There was so much Almar could have said, most of it profound and some of it perhaps even crass, but the words all stilled on his tongue as he found himself smiling once again. He’d never been accepted by the majority of society, but the crew of the Vindicator had eventually embraced him. People like Rochelle, Ra’lin, and Landon had done more than that… They’d become his family. “The feeling is mutual, James.” The Cardassian rested one of his hands on the top of his friend’s shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze, “Xander and Vokar have everything we’ve gathered on Ravnsson. They have all of our location and communication records. They have all the evidence in the Universe of our innocence, and they have our blessing to release it for the Federation to see. We’ve gone all we can.”

“That we have.” Archer nodded with a small smirk, “Here’s to praying it’s enough.”

“Aye. Here’s to praying it's enough.” The Cardassian returned the nod, “I’ll see you when we dock. Turning ourselves in with no resistance is going to be the best way to handle this.” He added, escorting his friend to the door.

“I agree…” The door hissed open and the spook took his leave, turning only once to give one final regard to his comrade, “Try and rest easy, Almar. Indulge on the crickets for tomorrow we dine in hell.”

The laugh that burst forth from Almar was surprising to him. It rang free, promising that his humor hadn’t died and that hope certainly did rule eternal within the hearts and minds of the purest of souls. “Get fucked, Archer. I’ll see you later.”

---

The mighty USS Vindicator docked at Cold Station Theta at exactly 19:26:32, four minutes earlier than projected, and only because a freighter named Copperfox had cleared out of the area a full hour ahead of her own schedule on an emergency supply run to a nearby mining colony.

Almar and Archer were ready and waiting, each dressed in fresh pressed uniforms and their very best ‘I haven’t a fuck to give’ expression. They knew what lay on the other side of the lock and how fast it would come swarming in to apprehend them.

… And certainly weren’t disappointed when a security team did indeed come spilling in through the umbilical shouting their fool heads off only to quiet in astonishment when their targets were found standing calmly in wait.

“What’s the hustle for, boys?” Archer couldn’t help himself. The Commander was anything but easy to work with under even the best of circumstances, and certainly wasn’t about to lay waste to his reputation for being temperamental and smarmy.

Almar on the other hand simply raised an eyebrow in regard to the horde.

“Commander James Archer, Commander Almar Dahe’el, you’re under arrest for the murder of Rochelle Ivanova, treason against the Federation, and conspiracy.”

Archer fought the urge to shake his head, instead he nodded that he understood. Almar followed suit.

“We’re taking you into custody. You’ll be held in the brig and given the chance to speak to JAG officers while you await trial for your alleged crimes. Anything you say or do from henceforth can be used as evidence against you.”

“We know.” Almar nodded again, “Let’s get on with it, the crew needs a rest and this doesn’t need to be a dog and pony show.”

The rest of the process was easy. The retinue formed around the two men, leaving them unshackled due to their compliance and the knowledge that no further embarrassment to the Federation was warranted or required. People glanced their way, some whispered, others grimaced and shook their heads - but neither man ever saw a shred of anything that could be considered condemnation as they were escorted to the brig. Ravnsson wasn’t going to get his way with their parade, that much was painfully obvious much to their amusement.

Lightyears away from where Almar and James were being booked and processed, two separate consoles had been blinking with notice of incoming communiques. Both had been checked, their info packets downloaded and read. Within minutes, both receivers were growing nearer to the station, streaking across the stars to respond to the Hail Mary they had caught.

Closer to home, a third, smaller message blinking to life for a third reader, offering explanation and making one concise order; Ra'lin, find Rochelle on Japori II -ARCHER

Now… What was it they said about fortune favoring the bold?

---

Commander Almar Dahe'el
Executive Officer
USS VINDICATOR

Commander James Archer
Chief Intelligence Officer
USS VINDICATOR

 

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