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Too Good To Be True

Posted on Oct 20, 2016 @ 12:25am by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel & Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Oct 20, 2016 @ 12:25am

Mission: Fortress: Earth

“Too good to be true”

(Cont. “To fight as we fall”)

* * *=(/\)=* * *

Eve dropped to her knees next to Barton's unresponsive form. He was breathing, but he might as well have been sealed in carbonite for all the inactivity he displayed. His pulse seemed normal. His eyes were devoid of response or reaction. She peered into them, for a split second wishing she could go inside and commune with the demons that had dragged him beneath the surface of his private hell. Then again, if wishes were horses, everyone could ride.

She looked at the others in silent judgement. Rochemonte, her anger justified but wildly active at an incredibly inconvenient time. Jake, looking far too guilty for something as simple as not being able to stop the inevitable. Selyara Chen, her visage hardened but placid, her gaze directed towards the big man. The Shadow Master had known Jim wouldn't be able to handle knowing what happened to Paris, but she hadn't counted on the variables of the PHOENIX crew. The Marines were divided; Bellecotte was stoic, but even with the armor obscuring most of her, Kass was clearly worried. Then, there was Dreyton. He looked restrained, but under the surface his eyes danced with the past few days’ activities. Commander Jos had a raw expression, his antennae an extension of his concern and need to find redemption in their pursuit of Edgerton and his doomsday project.

Dalziel closed her eyes, wishing for someone to blame and coming up empty. Why wasn’t Selyara trying to help him? Was it too dangerous, or just too personal?

“Let’s move. Cadet Ryan will be expecting us at the core.”

Eve’s gray’s gray eyes snapped open as she glared up at the Andorian ExO. “That’s it? What about Barton?”

“Our backs are up against the wall. What, do you want us to carry him?”

"I made him a promise." Eve had told him she would help stop the voices. She meant it. But even as she argued her case, she knew it was impossible.

"You took an oath long before you made that promise. And if we don't stop the Aegis Shield it won't matter what state Barton's mental faculties are in."

“If you want my opinion,” Selyara said in a tone which conveyed that she was sure that her opinion was not going to be welcome, but that she was going to give it to them anyway, “Barton is useless to us right now, and we should cut our losses and leave him. He’s dead weight, metaphorically and literally. He will be a pain to move, and his very presence is distracting all of you. This is not a time to be distracted. He’s a fucking inconvenience.”

There was a stunned pause in the conversation, not just from the Machiavellian coldness with which the Shadow Master said it, but a reaction to the sudden expletive. Unlike Kassandra’s constant stream of ornamental profanity, Selyara’s use was deliberately shocking, coming as it did from someone who was generally ice cold. Eve knew that it was a calculated sentence, with the intent to stun some sense into the party, but she felt her blood rising.

“I see, Miss Chen. Now that he’s helped you, you’re just going to discard him like yesterday’s garbage? How convenient for you.” Eve rose, turning to Raxl. “You better be careful, Mister Dreyton. She’ll insert the knife in your back before you feel it.”

The Vulcan woman did not rise to the bait; it simply wasn’t worth the time. Selyara noticed the taut extremities and clenched fists of the ship’s Cns, but what little interaction she’d had with the Cardassian born woman indicated she was not one to foolishly act on such provocations. Deep in the back of her mind Dalziel must have known that one touch of her slender hand could render her psychological intellect into a pile of goo- just like what she’d done to Embry and so many others. And it certainly didn’t take an empath to notice Eve was frustrated by the truths that had been presented to her regarding Jim Barton.

“I can take him back to the shuttle.” Thomas’s sudden interjection took all the wind from Eve’s sails. The winged man had been so quiet since they’d arrived that she’d nearly forgotten he was there. She whirled to face him. “I’m strong. I can carry him easily. You don’t need me here now that you’ve got a computer expert, and this is much more boring than I thought it would be. I’ll take him back to the shuttle and guard it until you get back.”

“Would solve the problem.” Kassandra removed her helmet and tousled her hair with both hands rather violently before replacing it and snapping the visor back down. Eve caught the unspoken implication that it would solve *both* problems, Barton being one, Thomas the other. [[Heaven forgive me fer agreein’ with Miss Chen, but we both know Barton is broke, an’ it ain’t something we’re gonna be fixin’ soon. I’ve been on the receiving enda his branda crazy, and I’m not really eager to tempt fate again. Right now we ain’t got time to deal with meltdowns nor crazy, an’ that goes for you too, Rochemonte.]] Kassandra jabbed her index finger rather angrily towards Cindy, who bristled. [[Either you’re capable of keepin’ things rational, or you best be gettin’ back to the ship. I ain’t gonna put up with havin’ to worry about the enemy in front of me *AN’* the ally at my back. An Eve, you know I consider ole Chastity here a friend, an’ you know I’m loathe to leave a man behind, but Frenchie here is right. They’re gonna use the Aegis shield again, an’ maybe they’re even usin’ it right now to decimate our fleet. If ever there was a time to take heed a’ that old Vulcan chestnut about the needs of the many, it’s now.]]

Eve thought she heard a rather expressive sigh from Kassandra’s second at this, caught between agreement, and exasperation at the manner in which Kassandra had delivered it. Dalziel echoed the sigh, and let her shoulders slump.

“So, it’s decided then? Good. We’ve wasted enough time. Lynette could very well be dead by the time we get there.”

“Captain Thytos, you take point. Your sensor nets may prove useful to avoid further bloodshed. Mister Bellecotte, take up the rear. Eve, you’re on point with-”

“If it’s all the same, sir, I’d prefer Rax here takes the point with me,” Kassandra interjected. Eve felt a little hurt by Kassandra’s dismissal of her assistance. For a moment she felt like a little kid being passed over when picking teams. Then the easy familiarity which Kassandra referred to Raxl Dreyton sunk in and she realized that they must know each other. She studied Dreyton for a moment. She put him in his late 40’s, around Kassandra’s age, and his build and movements suggested a trained fighter. A Marine buddy then.

“Very well. Mister Dreyton on point with Kassandra, and Thomas, you’ll take Mister Barton back to the shuttle,” Aerdan had the slightly weary voice of the only adult among a group of children.

Eve felt a little better until she accidentally fell into step beside Selyara Chen. The haughty expression that had been on the half Vulcan’s face before Barton’s breakdown was gone, replaced by a great weariness. Every so often one hand fluttered to her temple, her mouth moved silently, followed by a pained grimace. Selyara seemed to feel Eve’s eyes on her- she straightened and the cold ice-queen expression slammed down over her face, and she caught Eve’s eyes in that spider-like, pupiless gaze.

“You knew about Paris, didn’t you?” Eve couldn’t help herself. “You felt them- you felt it happen, didn’t you, and you kept it from Barton to protect him-”

Selyara cut Eve off. “I kept it from Barton so he would continue to be useful, and because the meddling idiot left bits of his mind in mine, which means I have a vested interest in not doing things to upset him until I’m able to excise them. Don’t ascribe motives to me that don’t exist.”

“Sure, tell yourself that.” The Counselor kept pace with her reluctant partner, struggling to find some common ground. “It must have been horrible,” she said softly, trying to empathize. There seemed to be at least a particle or two of caring left in that calculating heart.

Selyara was silent for a long time, her expression hovering somewhere between ‘wondering if Eve was an idiot’ and sorrow. The former opinion appeared to be winning.

“Of course it was. In your line of work, you must have watched someone die before, haven’t you?”


“Did you ever once consider that enjoyable?”

“Better the other guy than me… but in the context you’re presenting, then no.”

“So imagine, if you possibly can, the primal screams of 28 million people, and your only option is being made to listen to them. Feeling each and every one of them in pain and confusion as they are ripped from the mortal coil, most of them not even knowing why or who did this to them. How could it have been anything but a devastating experience?” Selyara finally snapped. Eve opened her mouth to say something else, but Selyara held up a hand to forestall it, and actually ‘shushed’ her. “Miss Dalziel, I understand now why you gave up espionage. You like to talk far too much.”

“I’d like to think I’ve done better with my life trying to put people back together than to rip them apart.”

“Sure, tell yourself that.” The half Vulcan sped up, leaving Eve walking next to Jake.

* * *=(/\)=* * *

[[So, Raxl Dreyton. Long time no see,]] Kassandra said with what Raxl presumed was a smile, though the bottom half of her face was partially obscured by her helmet. She sidled up to him, detaching a hand phaser from her hip. With a practiced motion she flipped it around, and offered the grip to him. He accepted it, and waited as she reached her hand into her gear bag and tossed him an earpiece, carry vest, several power packs, and a variety of palm-sized flashbang, smoke and gas grenades. He watched her carefully. She pulled each of them out without hesitation, never looking down or into her bags, never looking *anywhere* really, but with an eerie accuracy. Raxl tried not to stare too hard at the glassy blue of her eyes, just in case she noticed.

“Not that long for me. I was there on the arena in LIMBO, as a matter of fact, I met Barton while he was saving your butt. Glad to see you made it,” Raxl said tentatively. The woman he’d known would have been embarrassed by her weakness.

[[Remind me to show you my scar sometime. It’s really something. I see yer taste in company’s still deplorable,]] Kassandra brushed it off with wave of her hand. It wasn’t really time to talk, and she’d never been much of a talker anyway.

“Well, I’m hanging out with you again, so I guess not,” he joked, his propensity to wisecrack getting the better of him as he donned the carry vest and tucked the various “goodies” into its pockets. The vest would definitely never win any fashion awards, but at least it was lightly armored against phaser fire and functional, even if it was possibly the ugliest thing he’d ever worn.

[[Har har,] She wrinkled her nose at him. [[Gotta say, I’m glad it’s you though. I was worried that Miss Chen’s help might be an unknown quantity, but you’re the devil I know. Still a lousy shot and better with your fists?]]

“Still too short to get a kick in without catching a punch to the head?” Raxl rejoined without pause. chuckled appreciatively, and elbowed him-not-so-gently in the ribs. Raxl felt a little better; after several weeks of Selyara’s blithe indifference to him it was gratifying to know that women still found him charming.

[[I see ya also still think you’re wittier than ya are,]] Kassandra retorted, but her voice was soft. Soft for her, anyway. [[Right. You ready? Let’s rumble and roll.]]

Raxl was surprised by how quickly his Marine training came back to him even though it had been decades. The last several decades had been spent acting on his own, moving on his own, being an army of one. Even when he and Barton had fought Mister Johnson, they’d been two men attacking the same target, trying to keep out of each other’s way.

Fighting with another Marine was fighting as a unit. Suddenly he wasn’t just a lone wolf, he was part of a pack, moving in tandem, part of a well oiled machine. They communicated through hand gestures, clearing the way corridor by corridor.

**Stop. Two men around this corner- dunno what they’re doin’ not patrollin’ lollygaggin’ it looks like to me, heading away from us. I’ll go low, you go high, then take the right,** Kassandra signed. Raxl nodded. The guards, two humans, were busy chatting, as though they didn’t take their patrol very seriously, which made sense. After all, even though there was a fugitive in the base, where were they going to go? Lynette *would* be found eventually. Kass fell into step behind them, her pace mirroring theirs so her footsteps wouldn’t be noticed. Raxl followed suit. **Three, two, one.**

Raxl grabbed the two guards’ heads and smashed them into one another as Kassandra dropped down and swept their feet out from under them. Raxl caught the one on the right around the neck as he staggered.

To his left, Kassandra had her forearm on the neck of her prone victim, using her full body weight to assist her, one hand clamped over his mouth to prevent him from calling out. The man’s fingers scrabbled uselessly against Kassandra’s armor, struggling to gain purchase against its slick surface, before his body relaxed into unconsciousness.

Kassandra prised open the entrance to a nearby maintenance hatch and shoved her guard in unceremoniously. Raxl followed her lead, taking a moment to seal the hatch with his phaser. She nodded approvingly, and gave him a thumbs up.

They met no other inhabitants of the base, and soon saw the door to the computer core. Beside him Kass’ footsteps ground to a halt. Surprised by the sudden interruption of their rhythm, Raxl stopped and turned to meet her off-kilter gaze. She flipped her faceplate open and frowned.

“Does this feel wrong to you, Raxl? ‘Cause it sure as hell feels wrong to me.” Kassandra’s hands twitched nervously near the trigger of her pulse rifle. Raxl shoved down the adrenaline that had been pumping through his veins pretty much nonstop since he’d left LIMBO and took a deep breath. He let the tension drain from his body, and suddenly he could feel exactly what she meant, the nagging intuition that something was horribly, horribly wrong.

“It’s too easy. Way too easy. We’ve only met two guys since Barton’s little incident, and they weren’t even armed. We made it to the computer core and not a single security force in sight? This base isn’t that big, Edgerton’s paranoid, he has to be listening in to every transmission, which means he knows that Lynette is in the computer core.” Raxl had always prided himself on his well developed sense of self preservation, his ‘gut instinct’ that warned him to bail on bad situations, and it was screaming now.

“It’s a trap,” Kassandra said, taking the words right out of his mouth. “An’ we ain’t got a choice but to waltz right in.”

“So we walk in, and make sure we’re ready for them. Ready to booby trap this hallway and get ready to take a stand while we hope like hell these eggheads can work a miracle?”

“I was *born* ready,” Kassandra said, slamming a fist into her open palm with a bravado that didn’t quite reach her voice. “Let Harry know. I’ll get the space cadets into the core, and we’ll get ready to light this hallway up like a christmas tree.” Kassandra lifted one hand and knocked on the doors to the computer core. The door creaked open slightly and a suspicious brown eye appeared in the crack. “Lynette Ryan? Come with me if you want to live.”

“Uh. What?” the woman sounded confused.

“Sorry. I just always wanted to say that. Cavalry’s here, but it’s about to get hairy. Open up an’ let us in an’ keep yer head down.”

* * *=(/\)=* * *

NRPG: Hello to the Anubis crew! I'm so excited to be reading your posts and to have more excellent writers to collaborate with, I've really been enjoying reading your posts.

Phoenix crew: It's the final countdown! Kass and Raxl and Harry are readying for Edgerton's trap. Eve, Jake, Cindy, Aerdan, and Lynette are trying to turn the tide in the fleet's favor, and hopefully pull a miracle out of that computer core, Thomas is taking Barton back to his aerie, where he will feed him to his youn- I mean taking him to the Red October.

A post by:

Susan Ledbetteratwritingthanme


Eve Dalziel

Counselor to basket cases


Alix Fowler


Selyara Chen

A piece of work


Kassandra Thytos

A woman causing a singularity because she didn't use a single cuss word in this post.


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