USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Such Sweet Sorrow

Posted on Thu Jun 15th, 2017 @ 8:04am by 1st Lieutenant Skryt Mrazak

Mission: S2E1 - Secrets
Location: Runabout Hangar
Timeline: MD 91; 0900

It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. Mrazak found himself stowing his gear aboard yet another transport vessel that would take him to his next assignment. The nature of his service to Starfleet--an expatriation from the Romulan Empire which did not teach him anything other than organized mayhem--did not afford him lengthy postings.

One would think after 46 professional farewells that it would be easy to pack up and go, but the Vindex, being the 47th, held something that Mrazak never thought he would find.

"Pleassse don't leave me!"

Shadi knelt on her knees, pleading with both claws outstretched. Her talons dug into his uniform sleeves. The coughing hiss, Mrazak had come to learn, was the sound of her weeping. Saurians evidently did not have tear ducts of the standard humanoid variety.

"I must," Mrazak said. His dark eyes scanned the other personnel who were entering and leaving the runabout, loading cargo, and performing pre-flight checklists. Before Shadi could make any bigger of a scene, he took her by the arm and led her around to the runabout's bow.

"What we shared was wonderful." He dropped his duffel at his side and took Shadi's scaly face in both hands. "But we knew it could not last forever."

Shadi's tongue flicked out of her mouth in disapproval. "Surely it can! We found love on this new world, and we must fight for it like we would any other battle."

Mrazak shook his wrinkly head. "No." His gravelly tone underscored the finality of the moment. "This is what I must do. It is my purpose. The Federation is the only light in this dark universe, and I must do my part to sustain it. I know frontier combat. That world down there isn't the first pick for most experienced Marine officers, and my replacement is already in transit. She ought to be here tomorrow. Meanwhile, somebody needs to lead the men, and when the Corps calls, I answer."

"No matter the cost," Shadi said. She slowly nodded in acceptance--and defeat. "You are the greatest man I have ever known. Your words embody all 8 virtues of the Warrior Code. I will never forget you!"

Their faces blended together in a slick, smacking mesh of dislocated jaws and fanged suction that amounted to a horrific counterpart to kissing. Talons dug into one another's flesh, leaving loving flesh wounds and scars to remember one another on cold, lonely nights to come.

When their faces stretched apart enough for their flesh to snap back into place, Mrazak had to pop his jaw to one side in order to get his words out clearly.

"I will never forget you either."

The Saurian shot her eyes wide open in protest. "What if I transferred with you?"

"Inside of us, we both know you belong with the Vindex." Mrazak took her claws and pressed them together in front of his mouth to kiss them. "You're part of this ship, the thing that keeps her going. If this ship leaves orbit and you're not on board, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."

Shadi folded her lipless mouth into a mere slit. "But what about us?"

"We'll always have Nova Mercia."

"Where I said I would never eat you." And Shadi had meant it.

Mrazak grinned. "And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of."

"Oh bitter famine..." Shadi started wheezing and hissing again.

"Hey," Mrazak slid his own talons beneath her chin to prop it up and look her deep in her reptilian eyes. "Here's looking at you, kuoku."

Shadi nodded. "I do love this tasty ship." After meeting his eyes, she slung her arms around Mrazak for one last bone-crunching embrace. "I will find you again. If it takes a hundred years searching a hundred plains on a hundred worlds, we will be together again." Her hissing voice went low in his ear, barely above a whisper. "In this life or the next."

The Reman grunted as much in surprise as in pain. "May it be so."

Shadi turned away. "Farewell."

Mrazak stood immobile as he watched her go. Partly in sorrow, but mostly to catch his wind. That was one unique creature, the first to take his breath away in every conceivable way.

"I don't know much," he said to her back, too softly for her to hear, "but I know the lives of a few people amount to a hill of bodies in this cruel universe."

The duffel bag at his feet called to him, a harbinger of his greater duty on the planet surface. Mrazak snatched it up and made his way back around to board the runabout, but not before wiping a hand over his wet eyes.

 

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