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A Familiar Face

Posted on Mon Sep 25th, 2017 @ 4:23am by Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Za'ul
Edited on on Mon Sep 25th, 2017 @ 4:29am

Mission: S2E2 - Vindeux
Location: Starbase Unity / Vindex Bridge
Timeline: MD 127; 0930

The SS Chikara took port at Starbase Unity to offload its latest batch of refugees before heading back to the borderlands between the Dominion and Federation space. Many of them were without identification, and so were permitted to walk the promenade while asylum could be made official. An unassuming, middle-aged Vulcan with proud eyes stood out among them. He wandered beside a small crowd of other refugees, hoping to blend in while taking in the sights and getting the lay of the land. The starbase offered little by way of amenities, but it could be home. This was a brave new world he had entered, and it was nothing like the one he had left.

“Saalkan Za'ul Kaiyen, you are under arrest. Stand down!”

The Vulcan looked to his left, then his right. A dozen armed Starfleet Security officers surrounded him. The other three refugees were pulled away from his side, leaving him to stand alone in a circle of armed men. “I believe you have mistaken me for someone else.”

“We will not tell you again,” said the lead Security officer. Though he held his phaser discreetly, it was nevertheless pointed at the Vulcan's midsection. “Come along quietly, and do it now.”

The Vulcan's neck muscles tensed. “Very well.”

Akiva sat in the Captain's chair once more. With Claudia's pregnancy advancing to the point of being harder and harder to keep secret, he suspected that there would be many mornings where he would man the Bridge without her. They were docked at Starbase Unity where they'd offloaded that accursed shuttle and the twice-dead corpses it had contained. With the repairs nearly finished, the Vindex would likely be underway any day now.

Many crew members had gone on shore leave on Starbase Unity, but Akiva opted to remain on board the ship for the past couple weeks. The former Dominion station held nothing that he wanted to see twice. His first day at Unity was one he wanted to forget... for a number of reasons.

“Sir, we are receiving a coded message from Starbase Unity,” a junior officer reported from the Ops station.

“That is unexpected.” Akiva frowned at the news. He was never one for surprises. “Patch it to the Ready Room, and notify the captain.”

Akiva nodded to the junior officer at Tactical, who replaced him in the Command chair. The Ready Room doors opened before him with a hushed whisper that filled him with foreboding. He hoped Claudia was well enough to join him eventually, but he knew this had fallen to him.

Seating himself and folding his hands in a steeple position, he opened the transmission. “Commander Akiva ben-Avram, first officer of the Vindex,” he said to the stranger in the view screen.

“Where is Captain Ainscow?” It was a middle-aged woman with captain's pips and a no-nonsense disposition.

“She is detained,” Akiva said cautiously. “How might I be of assistance?”

The other captain sniffed. “You will have to do. We have apprehended a person of interest. The status on his record is KIA, but the biometric scan is a 95% match. Since he is a former member of the Vindex crew, we had hoped for a visual confirmation.”

Akiva frowned in skepticism. “Who could it be?”

The visual display changed from the captain to a Vulcan man restrained in a chair. His face was battered, swollen, and covered in a shiny veneer of sweat. When his one good eye opened, Akiva shuddered in horror.

Barukh at'tah Adonai Eloheynu melekh ha'olam h'noten laiya'ef ko'ach...” The Hebron muttered his prayer through trembling hands.

The captain's face reappeared. “So you do recognize him.”

Akiva nodded solemnly. “What has he done now?”

“That we can tell? Nothing.” The captain's scowl showed she remained unconvinced. “His... 'questioning'... has not been as informative as we had hoped. He claims that he is not who we think. Since the Vindex has taken shore leave at Starbase Unity, I am calling in assistance. We need to know what this man knows, and if there is any truth to what he claims.”

It took a moment for Akiva's racing mind to assimilate everything the captain was telling him. “I will inform Captain Ainscow immediately. We'll be in touch.”

The other captain sniffed again. “I cannot overstate the urgency of the situation. We will be waiting.”

The comm cut out, replacing the unpleasant woman's face with the Starfleet emblem. Akiva leaned back in the chair and ran both hands through his hair.

“Saalkan.” He could barely believe it.

Memories of the mutiny pored through his mind. Saalkan's initial betrayal and brainwashing of the crew. The countless deaths. The abduction of the captain and other hostages. Tales of the torture Saalkan inflicted upon them, including Laena. The self-doubt that wracked him throughout the entire crisis. The agony of choosing between his daughter's life and defeating Saalkan in the final battle.

If there were ever a living, breathing devil in man's clothing, it would be the Mad Vulcan Saalkan. And now Starfleet wanted the Vindex senior staff to face him once again. For his part, Akiva would be ready. He tapped his commbadge.

“Commander ben-Avram to Captain Ainscow..."


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