USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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When we break, who are we?

Posted on Wed Sep 13th, 2017 @ 2:27am by Lieutenant Mark Whistler & Captain Kestra Marunis

Mission: S2E1 - Secrets
Location: Holodeck One
Timeline: MD 103 || 1630 Hours

Racing forward, Mark leapt up into the air, spinning as he did, and as he landed, he spun around and kicked his target in the back, sending them flying down onto their face. He then turned and threw one of his Kulak daggers into the face of an oncoming enemy. Running at the falling body, Mark withdrew his dagger, spun around and used it to slice through the throat of another attacker, not even pausing for a breath.

Kestra had entered the holodeck, Expecting to use it to run one of her training scenarios since she had some free time to spend alone by herself, Only to find that the holodeck was already being used. From what she'd seen, it looked as if there were bodies everywhere on the battlefield, A single man looked as if he were about to attack another man who was already poised to strike.

However, Without even clearing her throat to get the first man's attention, Kestra smoothly yanked her dagger out of it's holster at her left hip by it's hilt and flipped it to it's proper position, Before making a quick arcing throw of her arm so that the dagger's blade didn't injure her at all. The dagger left her hand and went sailing speedily through the air towards the both of the men standing there poised to attack each other. The dagger sailed past the first man's shoulder without even touching him or skimming any part of him, and the dagger had sunk itself deep into the neck of the second man in front of him. Killing him in an instant.

Mark saw the new dagger, and turned around, seeing a newcomer. "Well, since you're not an attacker, I'll assume you're a member of the crew." Mark said. Without hesitating, he threw his Kulak over his shoulder, embedding it in the left eye of the final attacker.

"Program Complete." The computer stated.

"Names Mark Whistler. I'm acting Security and Tactical Chief, for the moment." Mark said, by way of introduction as he drew the woman's dagger from the dead man, and spun it in his hand. "Half a gram heavy on the top side." He said, spinning again and holding it out. "Marine?"

Kestra nodded a half nod without saying a word to Mark, The Bajoran took the dagger from him, and spun it around masterfully a few times before sliding it blade-first back into it's holster at her left hip in one smooth motion. "Kestra Marunis." She answered his introduction with her own. In another quick motion, She pulled out what looked like a ornately decorated chopstick from out of one of her uniform's many compartments, and twirled it in her shoulder-length, perfectly straightened brown hair, Securing the loose ends to the back of her head as the chopstick firmly locked them into place.

"Figured. You're not in Security, and the way you handled that weapon, you're not an amateur at this. Plus, Security usually don't keep weapons on their person." Mark said. "So, aside from throwing daggers, what other moves you got?"

Kestra smirked, "I take it that's your invitation for a demonstration." It was obvious of course, As she moved into a perfect crouching tiger stance once she'd moved in front of him, Keeping her core steady and strong, and prepared herself for Mark's countering move.

Mark returned the smile, and prepared himself. As he looked at her move, he decided to begin with something simple. He spun around and swung his foot at her, aiming for her chest, preparing in case she decided to grab his foot.

Kestra reacted quickly, Not opting to grab his foot, But she dodged his move and spun low to the ground for a sweeping back kick to his straightened leg instead; Opting to disrupt his balance and send him flying backwards to the ground.

Seeing the move, Mark had to quickly counter, so he leapt backwards, performing a cartwheel as he did. As he landed, he smiled, and went to land a punch on Kestra.

Mark was fast, She had to admit that, But Kestra was quicker. She'd side-stepped him, Avoiding the punch; And when he passed her, She grabbed his hand in both of hers and twisted her body to perform a circular body throw. Flipping his body head-over-heels towards the ground of the battlefield.

As he landed, Mark reached up and grabbed Kestra's collar, and pulled her down to the ground, before forcing himself to leap up to his feet. "Not bad." He commented.

Kestra huffed a grunt in response as she expertly righted herself by rolling herself flat onto her back and using her arms to be raised above her head with her palms against the ground to steady herself, Kestra flipped her lower body up towards her stomach, and threw her legs back down towards the ground, Sending herself standing upright in one solidly fluid move, "Not so bad yourself."

Mark smiled; he liked this one. He could see she was young, but she was definitely a warrior. The only thing she lacked was the same kind of experience he did, but he knew she'd make a hell of a fighter. He ran at her, and as he neared her, he leapt into the air, vaulting himself over her, landed and grabbing her. Spinning her around, he grinned. "Best fighter I've seen in a long time." He said, smirking as he leant in and stole a brief kiss, before moving back to give himself some space.

When Mark stole the kiss from her, Kestra angrily lashed out at him, Only to end up missing him by mere inches. She lunged after him, Throwing several fast punches and kicks his way.

Dodging the attacks, Mark looked at her. "You've got passion, and skill. But letting anger get the best of you won't do you any favours. You need to control your anger if you want to survive any battle. You can't let anything get inside your head." He told her, grabbing her arm and throwing her to the ground.

"Controlling my anger never helped my birth parents live their lives before the Cardassians cut them down like dogs." She answered with a angered hiss whilst letting Mark throw her to the ground. She returned to her feet in one swift motion, balled her hands into fists and turned her back to Mark just as her face turned red and tears threatened to form in her eyes.

When Mark tried to reach for her again, Kestra reacted quickly by grabbing his arm in one fluid, yet fast motion, Jabbed her elbow into his side as she side-stepped him and spun around him, Flipping his arm around in the same fluid motion so that it was now pressed up against his back. The blade of her dagger was risen towards Mark's throat in an effort to slit it, But she'd hesitated. The pain, The anger and loss now evident in her tear-filled eyes as she looked at him.

"I was hiding in my parents' bedroom closet when my mother was raped and murdered, Her throat was cut from ear to ear as her body laid against a table where it had lifelessly fallen. My father's body lay on the floor next to their bed, He had a few disruptor holes burned right through his chest and his head was smashed in so bad, I couldn't even recognize who he was anymore." She choked back a sob, Then continued. "I was so scared that the Cardassians would kill me too... So, I grabbed my family's dagger to use for my own protection and I ran..., I ran like a coward out into the streets as far away as my own two feet could carry me before they could even touch me." Kestra let her arm that held the dagger up to Mark's throat drop, and released his arm at the same moment as she sighed in disgust at herself whilst dropping her dagger to the ground. "I am a coward."

Mark got up, picked up the dagger and looked at it. "Surviving doesn't make you a coward." He said, as he spun the dagger in his hand. "You were a child, and the Cardassian's were nothing more than a virus to be dealt with. Believe me when I say I know exactly what it feels like. My birth parents were killed when I was barely one. My surrogate parents were killed when I was ten." Mark said. "You say you were a coward, but no one can expect children to kill. I did take a life when I was five, but look at me now. I'm a killer because my world made me that way. You were shown love as you grew up. But you've allowed your inner hatred to fester and become a virus of it's own." He said.

He handed her the dagger. "It isn't brave to take a life. People think I'm nothing more than a cold hearted killer, and maybe I am, but I do what I do because I need to do it, because it's what I had to do. You've turned your passion into strength. But don't allow that hatred to destroy you. You're better than that." He said.

Kestra shrugged at Mark's words; Even though she said nothing, The look on her face showed him that they were already beginning to sink in. With a sigh, She took a few steps away from him and responded without even looking at him, "I don't think I know how to stop it. I've hated the Cardassians for so long, It's been all I can ever think about."

"Then think about this; you hate all Cardassian's for the actions of a few. That's to be expected, but at the same time, it gives you a cold hatred, which isn't worth anything." Mark said. "Hate the ones who wronged you, not the ones who didn't. If you see all Cardassian's as the enemy, then you'll find yourself defeated. Unrighteous hate is something that I've seen destroy thousands of people." He told her.

"Computer, show program Whistler One Alpha." He ordered. The view changed to show them alone on top of a stone platform, surrounded by clouds. "Consider this; if you allow the hatred to control you, how do you succeed at anything? Right now, as a Marine, you're a blunt object. You're dangerous, to yourself as well as to your enemies. But you have strength within. I'll teach you how to control that strength. I grew up on a world without control, and so it was exceptionally important that I teach my people how to control their feelings. I became a leader at ten years old. Here, I'm a security chief, but I still need that control." He said.

He took a breath, and looked at her. "So tell me; what good has pure anger done for you so far in life?" He asked.

"I've learned to survive with it." Kestra answered in such an almost quiet voice; Though, It sounded to her like she wasn't really talking to Mark, But to herself. "I figured if I was angry, Nothing and no one could ever really touch or hurt me." She glanced over at Mark, The tone of her voice now rising to show the anger beginning to well up inside her once again, "All Bajorans, Like me, Hate the Cardassians for what they did to us! They wronged us by invading our planet; Stealing our resources, Killing our people- My birth parents included- by the thousands!" Tears began to fall from her eyes as she continued, Her voice rising a few octaves louder, "They treated us like we were lower than the dirt we walked on. Killing men like they did to my father, Raping women like they'd done to my mother. Poisoning to death, or burning small children until they were nothing but ashes where they stood! Did we even deserve that? Of course not."

"But the Cardassians didn't care." Kestra let out a disgusted grunt, "We were the lesser beings to them, Like an evil thing that had to be purged in their eyes."

"You were lesser to some. Not all felt the same way, from what I learnt after I escaped from Turalek." Mark said. "They thought they were better than you; it happens in many cultures. The strong attack those who they think can't defend themselves. But your people proved they weren't weak by fighting back."

"No one deserves the darkness that is thrust upon them. No one asks for their life to be danger and death. But this is the nature of the universe. But there are times when darkness is repaid upon those who give it to others; The Cardassian's were almost wiped out by the Dominion. Many would call that poetic justice." He said.

"But here's the thing; if you allow your anger to rule you, then you've already lost, because your mind and heart have been corrupted. I'm a monster; I have committed terrible crimes in my life. You, on the other hand, haven't. You've survived through things that no one should ever witness. It shows how strong you are. But what will you do with that strength? Allow your enemies to remain in your head for free, or prove that you are better than them by rising above them?" He asked.

"How am I the strong one, If I ran away like the coward that I am?" Kestra asked without really registering Mark's real question to her. "They'd stolen everything from me, Including my birth parents. When I lived for several months on the streets; My hair was a horribly tangled mess while my face and hands were covered in so much dirt and dust, You couldn't even see what I really looked like. Even from a distance."

Kestra gestured to her uniform, "My clothes were beyond filthy and in ruins, and I was starving half to death from hunger and starvation before I was found by the Bajoran Militia. They brought me to the orphanage a few days later." She moved over and sat down on the edge of the stone platform, Letting her legs hang over the side before turning back to glance at Mark, "When I saw that there were orphaned Cardassian children there, I wanted to kill them all myself. I had never felt as angry or betrayed in my entire life than the day I lost my birth parents."

"A year later, I was forced to pack up my things and leave the orphanage on Bajor because they told me that I had been adopted by Humans when I was six. I didn't think that leaving Bajor would have any affect on me because at the time, I thought they were going to stay there with me. Turns out, I had been wrong, and that made me even angrier: To live with a bunch of Human strangers whom I didn't even know? Who didn't even understand the Bajoran customs or rituals, and couldn't even teach them to me like the other Bajorans could? How would that make you feel?" She asked Mark point blank.

"It made me angry." Mark replied calmly. "And that happened to me twice in my life as a child. When my mother was pregnant with me, she and my father were travelling when the ship they were on crashed on Turalek. They hid in caves for a year with me. But as my mother was giving birth to my sister Carrie after almost a year, we were attacked. My father was killed first, defending us. My mother was killed whilst holding Carrie. Before I could be killed, another tribe attacked. Carrie and I were taken by the second tribe." He said.

He took a breath and looked at her. "When I was five, the tribe was attacked, and in defending Carrie, I was forced to kill one of the attackers. It was an accident, but I held a blade and as the man attacked, he grabbed me and the blade went into his heart. I learnt how to kill, and began to train to fight. On my tenth birthday, I was given implants to give me night vision when I choose to, and steroid enhancements. Shortly after the procedure, which was considered an honor among my tribe, we were attacked, and my surrogate parents were killed. I grabbed Carrie and led the survivors, all children, away and to a cave system which we made our home. I wanted to kill everyone I could, but I didn't have that option." He said. "I had to think smarter. We were able to survive through skill and luck, but as a ten year old, I was angry, and wanted revenge on everyone. On my parents, real and surrogate, for leaving us, and on those who took their lives." Mark told her.

He looked at the setting sun which colored the sky, and sighed. "You wanted revenge on those who were in a similar instance, on victims like yourself. Cardassian children were orphaned because of the Bajoran resistance. Did those children deserve the same fate? Did they feel as you did? Did they want to kill all Bajoran children? Who can say. Revenge...it never gives you anything. You kill a Cardassian in return for them killing your family. Does that give you satisfaction? Or does it make you want to kill another? And another? And where does it end? Is revenge worth that?" Mark asked. He reached out and cupped her cheek with his hand. "Are you worth so little that you will let revenge destroy you? Or are you stronger than you think, and allow yourself to move forward?" He asked.

Kestra pondered what Mark said for a moment, but flinched away slightly when he'd touched her cheek, "How would you move forward when so much is left behind?" She didn't really ask him the question physically, but rather rhetorically.

"By remembering what whatever has happened before, no matter how dark, I'm still here." He replied gently. "And you're not alone, Kestra. Not anymore. You weren't a coward for surviving, you were brave to keep fighting."

"Guess I never really thought about it that way before." Kestra answered as she turned to look at the setting sun for a brief moment, "I guess I'd considered that I was a coward for so long, It made me blind, and to think that I was all alone."

Mark smiled and stood behind her, placing a hand on her shoulder. "But now you see, and that's given you a start on a better path." He aid. "But you'll never be alone, not anymore. I'll train you to hone your strength, and to find the inner peace that will give you strength. If I hadn't found it, I'd be a simple barbarian on a world of chaos. People don't understand me, but you're the first person who I think does." He told her. "If you want it, you have a family again. Mine. I don't have friends, you see. I have family, and my family is everything."

Kestra smiled a little in response, For the first time in the longest time that she'd ever known, She'd never truly done so before, until now. "It would be nice to have a family again." She muttered aloud without really looking up at Mark.

"Welcome to the family. Dinner every Sunday, and some nights as well if we're free. Tradition I always keep with." Mark said. "I also promise you this; for as long as I draw breath, you'll always have me looking out for you. You ever need anything, I'll make sure it happens." Mark said. It felt good to have his family growing, and he knew that Kestra was just like him when he was younger. She needed a guide, and he'd provide that for her.

After all, that's what families were for...

 

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