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When A Legate Of Rome, Be A Legate

Posted on Mon Dec 6th, 2021 @ 5:55am by Lieutenant JG Valerie Novis & Captain Juliet St. Clair

Mission: Episode 1: By Any Means Necessary
Location: Various
Timeline: 11 April 2385, 1810 hours

It had been confirmed within twenty-four hours of the initial reports: Carnarvon and all of the maintenance and refit crew that hadn't been reassigned were dead. Given that most of the security unit had been on board, that meant virtually everyone that Valerie had known for the last three and a half years, everyone who she'd known since being Joined with the Novis symbiont, were dead. "I suppose that makes for a clean break, doesn't it?" She murmured to herself as she watched from the shuttlebay's observation window as the shuttle carrying Lieutenant Commander Parker Magellan left through the containment forcefield, leaving her behind as well. Perhaps she'd gotten a bit too close to him, not that it had ever been more than that one romp in the bed, but his departure meant only one thing: It was time to get used to yet another department head.

She ran her hands down each side of her uniform, noting the bumps where she kept a couple blades secreted 'for emergency use only', then to a utility pouch on her left side, while her right ran down to the holster on her right thigh where she kept her pistol-gripped phaser whenever she was on duty. Where she kept it on herself when she was off-duty she never told anyone. If something dropped into the pot, it wouldn't necessarily give her a chance to run and get dressed, and/or get to an armory, and/or to another location with a weapon. Valerie Novis went everywhere prepared for a fight, that was a guaranteed fact. Everything was in place and she heaved a sigh as she refocused her vision into the window, catching a glimpse of her reflection and forcing a smile onto her face that slipped away, despite the confirmation that she was looking rather good.

"Computer, locate Lieutenant Ellis for me please."

"Lieutenant Ellis is no longer aboard the Tucker." Came the bland response.

Now THAT was interesting... She'd met Daniel Ellis a single time before Parker had squirreled him away to get him settled in for a smooth transition, but not on board? "Where's Captain St. Clair?" The answer came quickly and Valerie nodded.

**

Having just dismissed the First Officer from her Ready Room, Juliet took a breath. It was annoying to need to change everything so soon before launch, but she was not one to shy away from doing what needed to be done.

“Computer,” she said, “where is Lieutenant Valerie Novis?”

The computer chimed and then replied. “Lieutenant Valerie Novis is in Shuttlebay Observation.”

The Captain locked her computer terminal, got up from her desk, and left the Ready Room, onward to meet her Assistant Chief, who was about to get some interesting news.

**

One hand reached out, palm flat against the window in farewell, then she turned to leave. An interception point flitted into her head almost unbidden and she trusted the instinct. There was a bit of unease in the pit of her stomach as she made the requisite turns, ending up at a turbolift door, which opened, leaving the blue-haired Captain and red-haired junior grade Lieutenant face to face, Valerie's eyes opening wide with the brief shock, "Pardon me, ma'am, I was just about to try to find you. I wanted to let you know that Commander Magellan has left the ship to his new assignment and the computer just let me know that Lieutenant Ellis isn't here as well... I'm not sure what that means, ma'am, are we going to be getting a new replacement shortly?"

“I was trying to find you, too, Lieutenant,” Juliet replied. “Come along. Let’s go to the security office.” It was only one deck above them, and there was a stairwell close by. “I heard your former ship was among those destroyed over Mars,” she said as they walked. “You have my condolences.”

"Thank you, ma'am," Valerie fell in step next to Juliet and clasped her hands behind her back, "She was undergoing a major refit when the attack came, probably didn't even know what hit them. Better off that way, if I may say so." She showed virtually no emotion about it, having come to the conclusion that it wouldn't help matters at all, "Life's a bitch and then you die." She said even quieter, "It'll happen to all of us eventually, it's just a matter of how long you can keep the Reaper at bay."

The Captain nodded appreciatively. She wasn’t exactly quite so nonchalant about the prospect of death, but given the pain she endured over her career, she was no stranger to such thoughts.

They reached the right deck and entered the office of the Chief Security/Tactical Officer. Lieutenant Commander Magellan had packed up days ago, and it appeared Lieutenant Ellis had removed everything of his as well. The room was completely empty, save for the desk, a few chairs, and a computer terminal.

Once the door closed behind them, Juliet faced her officer. “As you already figured out, Lieutenant Ellis was reassigned at the last minute. And no, we aren’t getting a replacement.”

Valerie swallowed hard as the words hit home and she looked past Juliet at the bare office with the realization of what it meant. She was the 'Old Lady' of the department now, at least that's what it sounded like. She nodded slowly, she wasn't a rookie anymore, she'd spent a good two and a half years as the Assistant Chief on Carnarvon, she knew she could do it. A warmth settled in her stomach at the thought of being in charge. It all went through her in a matter of a second, then she nodded again. "Yes, ma'am." Her voice was a whisper as she met Juliet's eyes, then she had to have a soft bark of laughter, "What's the worst that can happen?"

No one ever said that Juliet wasn’t one for dramatics. She looked away from Valerie and toward the surface of the desk. She began to remove her artificial fingernails and place them one by one on the desk. “In my experience,” she said partway through her display, “it’s never a good idea to ask that question.” Finished, she looked back at the young Trill Lieutenant. “We’re going to be investigating potential threats to the Federation coming from Cardassia. The Detapa Council is friendly but a lot of people in the Union, like the ones who had me in their care for a couple of weeks back in ‘67, don’t like is much and would take advantage of our weakness right now. Do you want to see what other gifts they left me?” Not once did she smile or smirk or anything like that. Right now she was deadly serious.

"I um..." Valerie cringed, not having known that about Juliet, "I'm not sure I really want to, ma'am. I..." She shook her head hard twice, "I was on Cardassia for three years, ma'am, I do understand how many of them see us, because we were constantly on alert for attacks at the Embassy. During my tour there, we had several concerted attacks from a couple 'patriot' groups, as well as eighteen suicide bombings, seventeen of them successful at detonating themselves." She remembered the one that hadn't, because it had ended up with her right next to the bomber. "I've also seen some of their other handiwork. We didn't go anywhere on the planet except in groups of three or more."

Despite the seriousness of the situation, something came into her head unbidden, her mouth moving and words coming out without any sort of consciousness, "But you're still such a sexy blueberry." She said with a jaunty voice, even though the expression on her face didn't match the words.

The unexpected phrase completely caught Juliet off guard. She furrowed her brow. Part of her wanted to admonish the young officer. How did she not understand the severity the situation? And how dare she be so inappropriate? But not only was the outburst sudden and jarring, it was…familiar?

She looked away to think of her next sentence. It didn’t come. She looked back, opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Until she remembered where she had heard that very specific sentence.

“Kyra?”

"Oh my gods... I am SO sorry, ma'am, I don't know where that came from." Valerie's eyes were wide open and her hand had flown up to cover her mouth. She was waiting for the explosion from the Captain, whom she had very DELIBERATELY decided not to flirt with, but the single word, a name, one that she was familiar with for two reasons, but a complete stranger where it shouldn't have been, "I... Yes, ma'am, but no ma'am. It's complicated, ma'am." Her knees grew weak as she stepped back, finding a chair and all but collapsing into it. "I'm sure you want to know?"

"After that outburst, I feel like you owe me the explanation, Lieutenant," Juliet said bluntly.

"I, she, Kyra that is, was stationed on Cardassia while I was, ma'am." Valerie said weakly, "She actually was the reason I specifically was there, I was an Initiate that was passed by the Symbiosis Commission and because Kyra Novis was there, there needed to be a 'backup body' in case she was injured or killed and the symbiont was able to be saved. Kyra went out to meet with one of her contacts, but he was compromised and she was attacked. We honestly don't know how she managed to drag herself back to the front of the Embassy, but she did and the docs couldn't save her. She'd been stabbed a few times, three I think, and they knew she was Joined, because they'd attempted to kill Novis as well."

Valerie remembered the sight of Kyra Novis literally crawling around the corner, she'd been on duty at the time, a trail of blood behind her. "Novis was also wounded, not just Kyra, but I can't remember much from her. I was on Trill for two months recovering, not all of it conscious. I don't even remembering leaving Cardassia, they'd sedated me after I wouldn't stop screaming. I remember the Joining procedure, I was more than a bit nervous, you can't train enough to be there on that table. But as soon as Novis made contact with the neural link, I blacked out completely. The first thing I remember after that was waking up on Trill in the caverns... They had me under close observation with a half dozen specialists, apparently they'd put me in one of the pools with the unjoined when they couldn't bring me out without screaming instantly."

"Well, Lieutenant," Juliet said after a brief pause, "Kyra Novis and I were good friends for quite a few years. We were in advanced infiltration together. That's where we met. When I was compromised and captured on Bajor, she was part of the group that helped find and recover me." She grinned and let out a chuckle. "In the recovery ward of the USS Mjolnir, I was trying to feel like myself again, so she helped me dye my hair back to blue. I was staring at myself in the mirror. Missing nails, scars all across my stomach and back. She made me laugh by saying exactly those words: But you're still such a sexy blueberry." She wiped a tear from her eye.

"She worked in my intel department on the Lancer," Juliet continued, "before we both went undercover early in the War. I ended up going down the command path while she continued being an infiltrator. I always tried to follow her career, which isn't easy in our line of work. I was at Kyra's funeral, where someone told me that Novis survived, but I couldn't get the details." She smiled at her security officer. "Hopefully more of her memories will come back to you."

“You can’t hope more than I can, ma’am.” Valerie said softly, averting her eyes to look down at the floor, “It’s like a piece of me is missing. I’ll sometimes get a flicker of familiarity at a random sight, as if I’m looking for a signal or sign, but then nothing for days, for months. I can clearly remembering working on a prototype warp drive, at least the theoretical side of it, I can remember the joy of screaming through an atmosphere at several times the speed of sound, reefing in behind my target in a high G maneuver, I can even remember sitting down in the middle of a room with a couple guns pointed at me while I talked to desperate people whose plans had gone wrong, but I can only get hints from the twenty or so years before I was Joined.”

She sighed, leaning back in the chair, “They obviously weren’t about to show what Kyra was up to to an Ensign, but they showed me some of the heavily redacted mission summaries and reports from Kyra’s missions to try to draw out those memories. They even tried the Rite Of Reemergence to bring her personality out rather than mine, but it backfired when I apparently went catatonic. I’m sure it’s from how we died.” She used the pronoun absently, voice altering in pitch slightly, huskier, more like Kyra, “Getting stabbed in the kidney hurts beyond pain. Worse than childbirth, because it’s so searing that the person can’t even scream. If lucky, the person being stabbed dies quickly, the mercy of death ending that pain. If not? The mind goes insane before they die a lot slower. If they survive? It alters them forever.”

Valerie looked up, her voice back to a clear alto, “It may be Novis intentionally screening her thoughts and memories out, or it may be Kyra herself doing it, whether to keep me from knowing things a Junior Security Officer shouldn’t know, or to protect me.”

"She was very protective," Juliet agreed. "Anyway, to confirm your suspicions, yes I'll be asking you to serve as Chief Security and Tactical Officer. It will be on an Acting basis for right now but if this mission goes well I'll make it formal. When we're finished here, log into the secure system and read 2385-001121. You'll be accompanying me, Commander Solis, Ensign Blanchet, and Doctor Olivier on a field expedition to the Orias System aboard our excursion craft. If you have any questions, let me know as soon as possible. Report to the bridge tomorrow morning for alpha shift; we're departing Starbase 375 at 0900 hours."

That brought Valerie's attention back to the forefront, more of a laser focus on the present rather than reminiscing on the past and she shot up to her feet, "Absolutely, ma'am." The names, of course, were familiar to her as she'd been keeping track of the comings and goings of the rest of the crew, along with the former Commander Magellan, just to be sure that the lists were up to date. This meant she'd be the primary armed source, but that was fine with her. A warmth inside her grew, confidence in herself and in this blue-haired pixie, she'd do what was needed. "Pixie?" She said under her breath, shaking her head slightly hoping the Captain didn't notice. "I'll probably be on the bridge early, just to be sure, ma'am."

"Good," the Captain said with a nod. "Carry on, Lieutenant." The Captain left the new security chief alone in her new office, ready to find someone who could stand in for the Ops Chief.

Valerie waited until the Captain had left before she once again collapsed onto the couch. This was not anticipated, not expected and... Not desired? No, she did want this, no matter how it came to her. It was just a matter of getting down to it. She tapped her commbadge, it was time to get down to it, "Security section heads, report to the Chief's office please."

 

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