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Where Have You Been?

Posted on Mon Jul 10th, 2017 @ 1:18am by Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Lieutenant Kazyah Linn
Edited on on Tue Aug 8th, 2017 @ 11:07pm

Mission: S2E1 - Secrets
Location: Chief of Intelligence's Office - USS Vindex
Timeline: Mission Day 98 - 1328 hours

Akiva stormed into the office without announcing himself or requesting permission. He flung the PADD and its duty roster at Kazyah's desk. The moment the Intel Chief's name came across Akiva's desk, he had beat feet to confront the man for his absence.

"So nice of you to drop by," Akiva said with mock civility. His voice deepened with his fading smile. "Where the hell have you been?"

Kaz looked up at the man, "Good afternoon to you too," he simply said, before turning his head back down to the Computer screen.

"Huh-uh." Akiva shook his head and marched over to the desk. With a firm hand, he closed the computer display. "I'm serious, Kazyah. Where have you been? I thought you were dead."

"Funny enough, I was," Kaz said, standing from the chair. He walked to the replicator and pressed a button. "I had business to take care of."

Akiva looked askance. "All right." He sat down across from Kaz. "Start at the beginning. Where did you go, how did you die, and... well, go from there."

Kaz didn't turn around from the replicator. He couldn't face Akiva when he said this. "I can't tell you," he said, his voice lowering in shame. "Your security clearance isn't high enough."

"Very well," Akiva said. He shifted his weight forward to stand up. "Let's take this conversation to the captain's ready room. If her clearance isn't high enough, then I'm sure Commodore Hutchinson is available as well."

Kaz leaned forward, resting his forehead against the bulkhead as he slammed his fist into the wall. "Akiva, can you just get off my back right now, please," he said, his voice desperate and sad.

"Sure." Akiva came around the desk to stand next to the man. "Just level with me. We've been through too much to play games now. What's going on?"

"Saalkan contacted me," Kaz said, not looking up.

"Saalkan..." Akiva felt like he had taken a punch to the gut. "What... what did he say?"

"He said that if I wanted to live, that I needed to leave the Vindex," Kaz said, finally looking up at the man.

"And so you left without saying a word?" Akiva's tone was low and measured. "Go on."

"I didn't leave to save myself," Kaz said, turning back towards the room and leaning against the wall. "In order to have contacted me, Saalkan had to have either been on a Starfleet vessel or been within a few hundred lightyears. I was hoping to track him down and find out what he was talking about."

Akiva shuddered, then followed Kaz with his eyes. "Did you find him?"

The man shook his head, "Not exactly."

A moment of silence passed. "So he found you." Akiva took a seat. "And he let you go once again."

"Something like that."

"I appreciate the difficulty you're having, Kaz, but I don't have all day." Akiva folded his hands to make ready to listen. "What are we dealing with here?"

Kaz walked forward and sat back down in his chair, "I decided to visit a staircase just outside Federation space. It's a port known to find things of the unsavory nature. I had an old contact out there who buys and sells information. I was hoping his network of informants would have some sort of idea about Saalkan's whereabouts." Kaz shook his head, "But they didn't."

Akiva nodded. "Though he must have provided you a lead of some sort?"

"I followed him back to his room," Kaz said, his eyes distant as he played the memory over in his head. "I asked him for his list of informants so that I could follow up with them. Of course, he refused." Kaz swallowed hard, "So I stabbed him and forced myself into his mind and retrieved the information for myself. But with his dying breath, he set off an explosion that killed both of us."

"Killed you." Akiva turned incredulous. "Have you been checked over by Sickbay? Maybe they should give you an evaluation, along with Counselor Maera..."

"I'm fine," Kaz said, quickly cutting the Commander off. "A member of Section 31, who had been following me since I left the Vindex, took me and tried to save me. He says he failed. But that's when Saalkan showed up." Kaz's fingers grazed his neck where the metal chain one hung. "He tried to revive me, and he thinks he failed. But apparently he didn't. Section 31 was just as surprised as I am about it."

"Wait." Akiva furled his brow and held up a hand. "If Section 31 and Saalkan both failed, then... how are you here now? Is there a third party in the mix?"

Kaz shook his head. "I said Saalkan thought he failed. But he didn't."

"Interesting." Akiva rubbed his chin. "Good to know that even he makes mistakes. But I suppose that means you never discovered what he wanted. Am I correct?"

"Correct. From the sound of his conversation with me, he plans to do something to the Vindex that would end it its destruction. He was warning me to allow me time to leave and save my life." Kaz looked away as he sighed, "I tried to stop him and I failed."

Akiva put an awkward hand on Kaz's shoulder. "We stopped him before. Together we can do it again."

Kaz tensed at the touch, but did nothing to stop the contact. "Do you know what the hardest part to handle is?" He paused for a moment, but not enough for the Commander to respond. "The feeling of utter peace you feel upon death, and then it being taken away from you."

Akiva frowned for a moment, then nodded. "I knew that feeling well, back when I had nothing to live for." He withdrew his hand. "You must have come back for a reason, Kaz. Find out what it was." He turned to go, though he added, "Nobody comes back without a reason."

"I enjoyed death more than I should have," Kaz said, opening the Computer screen that the man had previously slammed shut.

"Yet here you are," Akiva said, turning around at the door. "Death is a tempting mistress. A man with nothing to lose doesn't spurn her easily. Find your reason for being here, Kaz. I suspect we're going to need you to know it sooner than later."

Akiva's parting glance held an unspoken admonition that underscored everything he'd said. He hoped it would linger in the other man's mind long after he walked out his door.


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