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I Want My Money Back

Posted on Mon Feb 27th, 2017 @ 12:59am by Lieutenant Kazyah Linn & Captain Claudia Ainscow & Petty Officer 3rd Class Rebecca Ainscow

Mission: S1E4 - Remnants Of A Lost Cause
Timeline: Mission Day 68; 1545 hours

Kaz didn't knock as he walked into Saalkan's office. He knew the man was in there and he knew he was alone, which is exactly how it needed to be. The job was completed and now it was time to get his reward. Something that both excited and frightened him at the same time. But it was his destiny.

"I've done as you asked," Kaz said, not waiting for introductions or pleasantries.

Saalkan drilled him with a stare. "Where is the body?"

Kaz put his hands on his hips, "You'll have that soon enough. I've carefully executed him as a suicide and left him for those loyal to him to find. Trust me, there is no way they'll question what happened. But if he died any other way, they would turn on us. And that's not something you need right now. This way, they'll be devoid of a leader and have no choice but to look to you. And as they feel I am loyal to Tolan, will follow my lead when I profess my loyalty to you tomorrow morning after he is discovered." He raised an eyebrow, "Satisfactory?"

The Vulcan's hands shuffled beneath his robes. His eyes closed for a second, brow furled in concentration. A harumph escaped his lips in short order. "Very well," Saalkan said. He reached for the communicator embedded in his obsidian desk. "Mr Doqqu, bring the captain and her paramours up from the detention sublevel to my private lab." He did not wait for response before he moved toward his office door.

"Come, Mr Linn. It is time I show you the reason."

"First," Kaz said, holding up his hand, "I would like what you promised me. My abilities to you would be greatly enhanced with my sight returned."

Saalkan stopped in his tracks and did an about face. He regarded Kazyah with a shrewd, calculating assessment. "Granted. You will better understand what I am to show you." His hand struck out preternaturally fast in a fluid motion and seized Kazyah by the forehead. "Behold." The command was carried on a breathy, guttural gust.

As before, the pain hit Kaz like a warp core breech, except this time he was expecting it. He braced himself against the wall, squeezing his eyes shut, as he bore the pain in silence. And before long, it passed. The man blinked a few times, groaning.

"Wow," was all he could say as he looked around. He bit his lip, fighting back the tears that were welling up in the corners of his eyes. And as much as he tried, he failed, and a few tears rolled down his cheeks. "I used to lay awake in bed, dreaming of a time when I used to be able to see. Clinging to the memories I had as a child. The world is so beautiful and my memories paled in comparison to what I see now."

"I have much more to show you," Saalkan said slowly, then gripped Kazyah by the chin and pressed his mouth against his for just a peck. "My son." The Vulcan stared down as his nose at Kazyah before tearing away and briskly heading toward the door. "Come."

Kaz stood there for a moment, without words. He swallowed hard as Saalkan walked away, unsure of what just happened. A slight smile pulled at the side of Kaz's mouth as he quickly followed the Vulcan out of the room.

Rather than use the turbolift which would return them to the central hall which served as the hub for each of the modules, Saalkan had a private turbolift which took him directly to his private lab within the science module. He stood in quiet repose during the moment of travel, as if Kazyah were not even present. After but a moment, the door opened to reveal an extended area with its own power core. A stasis pod was linked directly to it, as well as a vast computer terminal with multiple screens and consoles not unlike a stellar cartography station on a smaller scale. Various instrumentation panels and supply caches stretched across the walls. A researcher could spend some time in the space without having to leave.

"My sanctum sanctorum," Saalkan said with his hand raised. "We are very close, Kazyah--so very close. Can you taste it?"

"I can," Kaz said, somewhat unsure of what to say in that situation.

A buzz came to a blast door on the far end from the turbolift.
"Ah, that would be Mr Doqqu with our guests," Saalkan said. His demeanor was nearly chipper. "Please have them restrained."

As he spoke, Doqqu followed behind Claudia, Rebecca, and Laena with a disruptor rifle in hand and a bat'leth on his back. He forced them to march forward linked together in single file with their hands restrained behind their backs. The disruptor rifle was held inches from Laena's back.

Laena's lower lip trembled as she was lead into the room. Her eyes darted around, looking for anything that could be helpful. But she quickly realized that there was no hope.

Rebecca had nothing to say - she simply followed her secret lover into the room and then stopped after Claudia stopped in the position indicated to her. She knew where this was going and she was at least grateful she could be with her partner at the end.

Claudia led the two women behind her into the room and stood slightly forward of them to make it clear to Saalkan that she wouldn't be letting him get to Becky or Laena very easily.

"Ah, Captain Ainscow, a pleasure to at last speak with you face to face." Saalkan smirked in false cordiality. "Oh, yes, we have had our dealings before now, but I trust now you'll find matters sorted to their proper place. I am, as you can see, a different man than the one you thought you knew. Have you enjoyed your stay?"

"No I haven't I'm afraid. I want my money back" Claudia commented.

"Rest assured, my good captain," he said, leaning in to sniff along her hair and neck, "you will get everything that's coming to you." A throaty chuckle gurgled from his mouth. "But, for now, I require another."
His eyes shifted to Laena. "Little Orion, you possess knowledge that I require. It will go well for you not to resist my taking it."

The woman's body began to tremble as tears rolled down her cheeks. "Please Saalkan, I don't know what you want," she said, not looking up at the man.

"Oh? Have you forgotten so quickly?" Saalkan leered at her, his grin wide and cruel. "Allow me to refresh your memory. It was the day that I entered your lab--just the two of us. Am I stirring any recollections yet? I asked a personal favor of you, and even though you could or would not fulfill it, you offered to fulfill another desire of mine. Pon Farr was painful, you said. Previous masters taught you how to ease my difficulty, you said. And you stroked my ear just here." His fingers brushed near the point of his lobe and shot Claudia a look. "A wicked little temptress, this one." His grin turned to a sneer. "But you would know that better than I, would you not? 'O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done. The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won!'"
The Vulcan suppressed his mirth, allowing only a chuckle, then surrendered to the fiendish cackle that struggled free from his breast.

Doqqu turned away from everyone, having found great interest in the far wall.

Saalkan fixed a hard gaze upon Laena once more. "Do you recall now, my pet, or shall I go on?"

Kaz stood there, his arms crossed over his chest, his eyes set on the poor woman in front of him. Her mint green skin glistened as the uncontrollable tears fell down her face. "Saalkan," he said, taking a few steps forward. "While I know you're enjoying the terror of this poor girl, if her mind is filled with fear, it'll make finding the information you want much more difficult. Especially if you try to take that information by force, which I'm sure you also desire. Tell me what you want and I will retrieve it for you."

"NO!" Saalkan roared in fury. Loose articles about the room fluttered from the telepathic surge of his wrath. "It is rather specific knowledge of various star systems, both past and present, as well as future projections, all buried deep within her unconscious mind. And, if knowledge is power, then a god am I." He removed a silver rod that was inscribed with archaic writing from a hidden fold and affixed it around his neck by chain. "I appreciate your offer, Kazyah Linn," Saalkan said with a gentler tone, "but there are realms of understanding beyond your present comprehension."

The Vulcan placed his hands on their foreheads, centered between Laena and Rebecca. His eyes rolled back into his head while his fingers clenched his prey.

Doqqu raised his disruptor rifle at Claudia in preemptive action. It was the only warning she would get.

"I close your eye to sleep, give me what I seek," Saalkan intoned, "call up from the deep, give me what I seek..." Tremors overtook his hands as both ladies simpered against his touch. "Enok-kal Fi Lar!"

Saalkan gasped and blinked his eyes back into focus. "Thank you, my pet," he whispered sincerely. He took her forehead in both hands and kissed it. "I confess I did not know if that would work, but you have given me the final piece." He spared but a glance at Rebecca, whose eyes were glazed over and for all appearances looked dead on her feet. "As for you," he said in a deep, low tone, "your services are no longer required."

Two fingers on her forehead were all it took to send her toppling to the ground.

Laena let out a yelp of pain and heartbreak as she watched the woman fall.

Claudia immediately went to the floor and cradled her partner's body in her arms. There was no way she could have lost Becky already - it had taken her so long to find someone to share her life with and now it felt like it had already been taken away from her.

"YOU FUCKING SON OF A BITCH!!!" Claudia screamed.

"I did not take her life," Saalkan said coyly. "She did." He pointed to Laena. "I merely facilitated the transaction." After a glance at Rebecca's supine form, Benedict tersely added, "Honestly you should be thanking me."

"Thank you? Thank you? I'm going to kill you" Claudia snarled.

"Oh, come now, Captain," Saalkan said. "We are so far past the point of meaningless threats. Can you not see? Whether your lady fair lives or dies is of no eternal consequence, and so of no present relevance to me. She yet breathes, so if it is of any comfort to you, I can fling her back into your cell so you can share your final moments together wallowing in one-sided misery."

"You're going to regret just wait..." Claudia whispered.

"Return them to the detention sublevel," Saalkan said to Doqqu. "But take it slow. Claudia may find this of interest on her way out."

The Klingon hesitated a fraction of a second, then nodded in compliance. "Move," he said, gesturing with the barrel of his disruptor rifle. He unlinked Rebecca from the others and plopped her over his shoulder next to his bat'leth.

"I'm so sorry," Laena whispered to Claudia through the whimpers as they walked out of the room.

Ready to explode into a fit of rage Claudia decided against that and just walked quietly behind the Klingon and watched her girlfriend's unconscious body draped on the Klingon's shoulder.

"Don't...speak to me" Claudia replied.

Saalkan turned back to Kazyah. "I must rest before I attempt my rebirth," Saalkan said. "Doqqu will guard my personal quarters while I meditate and gather my strength. But before I retire, allow me to keep my earlier promise." He moved toward his stasis pod and took up the cranial interface. "Consider this stasis pod as my very own Womb of Fire. It is connected to a planetary satellite network through which this facility and all nearby Consortium vessels are linked," he explained. "They will be my temporary eyes and ears until I learn to use my own on such a grand scale." He placed the interface over the crown of his head and concentrated.

Immediately the screens in the lab lit up, each one showing various sectors of space throughout the quadrants of the galaxy. The images were not static, but showed dynamic movements of stellar bodies and systems.

"It has taken a lifetime and a half," Saalkan said, "but I have finally found it: Sha Ka Ree." He set the interface down and looked deeply into Kazyah's eyes. His vibrant, seeing eyes. "Do you understand now, my son? Sha Ka Ree is not a place, but a state-of-being! Once I resolve the fifth-dimensional parallax of this planet to the origin of time and space, then I shall become eternity itself. The galaxy shall be my throne, and Veloz Prime my footstool." He placed a hand on Kazyah's face and stroked his cheek. "And all of this, I share with you."

Kaz's hand cupped over Saalkan's on his cheek, his other going to the man's face. Without a second though, he pulled the man's face closer and their lips met.

The Vulcan caught Claudia's eye in his peripheral vision as she looked over her shoulder in passing into the corridor. His eyes met hers with a cold squint of victory. When he finally pulled away from Kazyah, he yet stood nose to nose. "I know you have been tempted to betray me, my son, and I do not resent your doing what you have to do. I will take a weapon of mass destruction and repurpose it as a ladder to ascend the mountain of godhood. Give me 24 hours, and I will give you forever."

"Everything I do is in service of you," Kaz said, his chest rising and falling with quickened breath. "What are your orders, father?" he asked.

Saalkan removed the chain and its silver rod from around his neck. "I have more. You may have this one. It is a 'rod of Kel' from pre-enlightenment times, just like the Vorl-tak beneath our feet. Your katra is out of balance due to the many generations of interbreeding, so proficiency will not come but with long practice."

"And what is it for?" Kaz asked, his hand closing around the silver rod. He brought it close, his fingers grazing gently over the polished silver metal as his eyes danced over the vulcan engravings that were etched into the object. "It's quite beautiful, actually."

"It is a relic of ages long past, before we squandered our birthright for cthia and diplomacy." Saalkan's eyes smoldered at the mention of the words. "We were meant to metamorphose into luminous beings who walk upon the fiery orbs rather than fly between them on space vessels. Wondrous feats of life and death can be wrought by one of sufficient strength of mind and katra. The rod of Kel will teach you how, though it will exact a price. It will, I hope, prepare you to one day follow my path and ascend to interplanetary immortality."

Kaz's hand gripped the rod tighter as he held it against his chest, "I will study with it endlessly, father. But please, tell me your plan. What is going to occur?"

"There are beings in this galaxy who are as far above us as we are the amoeba," Saalkan said. "Starfleet has tomes of entries in its database, and were it not for that bastard Surak, we would be among them. When our primitive ancestors harnessed the power of the Vorl-tak, they thought only of destruction. One engineer thought to use it as an impulse engine. As for myself," Saalkan drew himself up to his full height and raised his chin, "I will use it to transcend the mortal coil, using the gravitational field of this very planet to psionically uplift my consciousness to the point of origin for all matter, time, and space--Sha Ka Ree. The Vorl-tak device shall open the door to Sha Ka Ree, and then even the likes of Q will bow before me. I have allowed for a time of hibernation, and this stasis pod shall preserve my mortal form until my katra uplifts it to the transdimensional state that my consciousness shall attain."

Saalkan's eyes were miniature novas inside his head. "As you can see, the Federation, the Consortium, and every other so-called galactic power are mere dust mites in the vortex of eternity. But that shall not be my fate, nor shall it be yours. Sha Ka Ree shall be ours, body, soul, and katra."

"And what of the girls?" Kaz asked. "Is Rebecca truly dead? What part of this ritual needed her life?"

"I transferred Laena's pain upon her," Saalkan explained. "I did not know for certain if it would work, so the fact the yeoman survived at all is intriguing. None of them will live to see the morning after next, so what does it matter?"

"It matters because I am trying to understand what I would need to do to follow in your footsteps, father," Kaz said, his fingers still fumbling with the rod Saalkan had given him. "How will we commune once you have passed to Sha Ka Ree?"

Saalkan patted Kazyah on the shoulder. "Do not worry, my son," Saalkan said whimsically. "At that point, there will be no escaping me."

Kaz gave the man a genuine smile, "Thank you," he simply said. "What do you need me to do in the mean time while we await your transcendence?"

"Determine which of Tolan's remaining allies are a threat and which are not," Saalkan said. "I could do it myself, but that would only postpone the inevitable. My time is best spent gathering my energies." He returned to his private turbolift. "I will notify you when the time is ready."

"Yes, father," Kaz said, dropping to one knee as he bowed his head forward.


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