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Praetorian

Posted on Tue Nov 9th, 2021 @ 5:43am by Lieutenant JG Valerie Novis

Mission: Episode -1: Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment
Location: Cardassia
Timeline: July 14th, 2381

It was the emergency signal, the one that meant that one of her informants was under the belief that they'd been compromised and were in dire need of help. It had been reported by the normal patrol of the area around the Embassy, an arrow pointing to the left, with a vertical mark (both of chalk)then reported up the chain until Commander Danil had woken Lieutenant Kyra Novis, ostensibly a trade attaché of the Federation, to go out and meet them.

Dressed in her normal 'going out' clothes, Kyra stopped at the security station at the gate to talk to the Watch Officer, who was overseeing an Ensign and a pair of Petty Officers, "Lieutenant Magrum, I'm heading out on my own, but I may not be returning by myself. You've been briefed on the situation?"

"Yes, ma'am." The Bolian officer agreed, "The code word for your re-entry will be Jericho, if you're compromised, the code word is Gorgon. We'll do our best if you're compromised, but well.."

"I know the risks, Lieutenant, I'm just going around the corner to the Tresa Nor." Kyra agreed, patting him on the shoulder, "I'll let you brief your people." She gave a smile and left the station, waving at the Ensign, a fellow Trill that Kyra had met several times, to let her out. She changed her walk to the rapid shuffle that her personae as a trade attache of the Federation constantly used. The attache that was completely harmless, only going out when there was someone that was ready to make a deal.

But normally, there was a security guard with her, this time there was no time to set it up, hence the emergency signal, but Kyra was a VERY experienced Intelligence officer and could hold her own in person and on her own. In fact, these sorts of missions were some of her bread and butter. Instead, she walked quickly around the corner and towards the semi-popular taverno Tresa Nor, one of the places that wasn't off limits to Federation personnel, and there were few enough of those in this particular city.

She smiled at the Home Guard security officers stationed outside it, one of the collaborators that put themselves in danger for the sake of trying to promote a lasting peace on the planet, but it really was a risky business. As she stepped into the taverno, her head flipped around in the dramatic fashion of her personae and she spotted her informant, and he was looking scared. Rather than wave at him, she ducked her head down and slipped through the sparse occupants and slid into an opposite corner of the booth, "Letas Boral, you set the signal?" She asked quietly, he'd picked a very good booth to keep out of the way and keep a conversation private. "Were you followed?"

"No, Drea Letor, I was not. What about yourself?" His eyes flitted around, looking to see if the Trill's arrival had triggered anything.

***************
In the back room of Tresa Nor
***************

"Gul Bonam, we have a bite." The low voice said quietly to one of the old Obsidian Order Guls that had been released from his duty after the Dominion War, "You were right about Letas Boral, he is indeed a traitor to the cause. Look at who he's meeting with." He pointed at the screen.

Gul Felo Bonam leaned in closer, squinting his eyes at the screen for as good a look as he could, "Novis." He said with definition, "Just as he said would be the one to respond. Eliminate the one who set the mark, I'll take care of these two myself." He straightened his tunic as he stood back upright,

***************
Main room of Tresa Nor
***************

"I came as soon as I could. What information do you have?" Kyra glanced around briefly before focusing on her informant again, "I can bring you back with me, but it has to be worth it." The information was worth more than this man's life, that was the policy.

"You have someone at your embassy that's working with the old Obsidian Order." He said in hushed tones, "They've given them all of your agents both inside and out. You need to work fast. He even gave them-" His eyes opened wide as he looked over Kyra's shoulder.

Kyra stood as his eyes flickered past her, ready to spin towards what got his attention when a sliver of ice cold rammed into her. Then nothing but pain. Her mouth opened, but no sound came out as the sliver withdrew, replaced by warmth, but still more pain than she'd ever felt before. The hand that had come down on her shoulder turned her and she saw the face of her attacker as she still tried to make a noise. Then another spike of pain as the knife, yes, that was a knife, more like a stilleto, rammed into her gut once, twice, then a third time and fire blossomed from yet another source. 'Novis...' She thought as the Cardassian shoved her back into the booth.

"We thought better of you." He spoke to her informant, who was half standing in horror, his free hand dipping behind his back and coming out with a disruptor. "You have failed the Order." Without any hesitation, he pulled the trigger, unleashing a mass of energy into the chest of Letas Boral, vaporizing his heart. The Cardassian ignored the panicked flight of the rest of the people in the taverno, turning back to Kyra calmly while she seemed to gasp like a fish. He observed her wounds, blood already running down the seat of the booth and smirked before walking off.

Disbelief ran through Kyra's mind as she could only watch her murderer walk away. There was no doubt in her mind that she was not going to survive the next hour even, she'd been stabbed in a kidney and the shock of it was what was keeping her from moving. The fire she felt in her belly was survivable, but they were leaking badly. The other problem was that she felt pain not just from herself, but also from her symbiont, Novis. Tears leaked from her eyes unbidden at the knowledge of what was going to happen and she lay there for three minutes, every second of which was torture.

She finally felt herself able to move and she rolled off the bench to the floor before somehow dragging herself up to her knees, crying freely, but there was no one to help her. She stayed there for another minute as she tried to figure out the damage and had a mental conversation with Novis. It wasn't really anything verbal, more trying determine the extent of the damage. In the end, Novis took the pain, as much of it as possible, away from Kyra and her ability to move increased. "Thanks lady..." Kyra whispered to her constant companion.

She pushed herself to her feet and clamped one hand across her belly wounds and began to stagger to the door. An inadvertent bump on a table sent another massive spike of pain that buckled her knees, but she caught herself and continued on. As she emerged, the streets were empty, the Home Guard having run like the rest of them. Kyra let out a sob as she trailed blood, staggering towards first of two corners she'd have to reach. It took her seven minutes to make the three hundred meters and she left a smear of blood on the corner of the building before she staggered on. A hundred meters from the last turn that would put her in line of sight from the Embassy, Kyra stumbled and fell hard and lay there unmoving for forty seconds, the bloodflow slowing as she felt light-headed.

It was pure stubbornness that forced her to her hands and knees and she crawled towards the corner. She made it onto the cleared road and finally just collapsed, unable to continue on, hands both going to her belly. The pain returned as even Novis realized there wasn't much else that could be done.

**************
Security Post
**************

Ensign Valerie Herella saw the figure crawl around the corner and instantly stabbed the alert button. Around the compound, armored shutters slammed down over windows and gates began to close. She pointed at a Petty Officer as she overrode the main gates closing sequence, stay here. Get the Lieutenant on the Comm and get a medic and stretcher team up here.”

“And just where are you going, ma’am?” The PO asked her, dreading the answer.

“Out there.” Valerie grabbed a medical pack and patted her pistol gripped phaser on her thigh, “That’s no Cardassian, it has to be one of ours and I’m going to go help.”

The Petty Officer sighed as the young woman left at a dead run, “She’s no Trill.. She’s a frigging cowboy….”

**************
Street In Front Of The Embassy
**************

Kyra was rolled onto her back without any warning whatsoever, eliciting a groan of pain, which was all she had in her. Above her, a pretty, but most definitely not beautiful, face looked down at her, worry on her face, “Ma’am, I’m Ensign Herella, where are you hurt ma’am?”

The mission. It was the mission that needed to be completed, and Kyra blinked slowly, “Gorgon.” She croaked out, seeing the Ensign tense at the code word. Good, she’d been briefed at least, “Listen carefully.” She slurred, “There is an.. An..” her vision greeted out for a few seconds as she briefly lost consciousness.

Valerie saw the older woman come back from passing out, “Ma’am, we’ve got a medic on the way, we’re going to get you inside and patch you up, good as new.”

“No…” Kyra got out, removing one hand and reaching up to to cup the younger Trill’s face with the bloody appendage, “It’s too late for me.. You… It’s your turn now, Valerie, I know who you are.. You’re my backup body, you.. You have to tell them.. We have…” Her voice faded out again, her hand falling limply from Valerie’s face as she exhaled her last breath. The nearly inexhaustible strength of Kyra Novis finally giving out.

A medic finally slid to a halt next to the intelligence officer, tricorder out and active on the run, he looked up to Valerie and shook her head, “She’s gone, ma’am.” His eyes sought another reading, “Christ… She’s nearly exsanguinated… But the symbiont is still alive, is there another.. Oh.” He saw the spots on Valerie’s face, “It’s you, you’re her umm..”

“Backup.” Valerie nodded, reaching up to her face where Kyra’s hand had been, “You need to bring her back.” She shuddered, seeing the red of the other woman’s blood on her hand, reaching down to take the limp fingers in her own, squeezing it hard, “I’m not ready.”

“With the injury the symbiont took, ma’am, with all due respect, you need to get ready quick. Normally, there’s a few hour period, right? At this point, I don’t think the doc is going to be able to heal it, so we’re going to need to rush.” The medic gestured to the two security officers with the stretcher, “Whatever you need to do, Ensign? I'd go do it. You two, get her on the stretcher and get her to the medical room. Move it!"

Lieutenant Magrum caught the last words and sadly looked at the body moving past him and placed a blue hand on Valerie's shoulder, "I'll call your relief." He said quietly, "She was a good officer, a friend."

Valerie nodded her thanks and quietly walked back through the gate, which closed after everyone was back through. This was... Not the way it was supposed to be. It was always envisioned by those chosen as Initiates that there would be time to cleanse oneself, to meditate on a Joining and what it was all about, to talk to the prior Host to get to know who they were about to become. Hours at the least, days, weeks, in some cases even months. This? Minutes at the least, maybe at most an hour, without any of the normal tradition.

As she made it to her quarters, Valerie was already undressing, that was the least she could do as she stepped into her refresher, taking a cloth and scrubbing at her face to try to wipe the blood away, but only ended up getting a bit more than half of it off before she gave up. There was no time for a sonic shower, instead she finished getting undressed before putting on a ceremonial robe with nothing underneath. It was symbolic that she had nothing to hide from the one that would be part of her shortly. She left the room barefoot, barely seven minutes after entering and walked briskly to Medical, trying to clear her mind of the anxiety she felt.

The Doctor almost sighed in relief when Valerie walked in, hustling over to her with a tricorder and scanned her as she walked towards the two tables next to each other, one empty, the other with the body on it, covered by a sheet except for her midsection. "I was getting worried..." He admitted, "But I'm required to tell you that you are not obligated to do this, Ensign Herella, you can back out at any time up to the implantation."

Valerie shook her head even as she shuddered out of nerves, "No, doctor, this is why I'm here. The life of the symbiont is paramount over that of the host." She gave him a slight smile, "At least that's what the Commission says. I'm not going to argue about it. May I... See her?" Valerie gestured at Kyra's head. She got a nod and gently brought the sheet down to uncover the face that had blood smeared across it, and touched her forehead to Kyra's, "I'll try to do you proud, but I'm sure you'll tell me that yourself, won't you?" She brushed a kiss across Kyra's already cooling lips, not a romantic one, but one that would be given to a close friend, despite that they'd barely talked at all. She replaced the sheet and reached to where the lump of a hand was next to the body and squeezed it.

The doctor was waiting by the other table when Valerie came over to it, "This is my first time doing this, but I've done all the research when I was informed that there was a Joined Trill on the base. The only concern I have is that it appears the symbiont is wounded itself."

"Herself..." Valerie corrected, knowing a bit about the Novis symbiont, "And it should be okay. So long as it wasn't fatal to Novis, she'll heal rapidly once we've been fully melded. I'm guessing that after those 93 hours I'm going to be doing a lot of sleeping and eating while Novis recovers. I know that there was something Kyra was trying to tell me, but I'll know what that was in relatively short order." She gave a brave smile as she laid down on the table and undid the sash on her robe.

As the robe fell away, one of the nurses brought over a pair of towels that were placed so as to preserve Valerie's modesty despite the urgency of the situation and it began. The removal of the symbiont went smoothly Novis having had severed the neural connection to the dead woman already, the doctor did a scan on the symbiont and grimaced, but that was all. He definitely wasn't knowledgeable enough to even try to do anything about it. "You're going to feel a bit of pressure here." He announced to Valerie as he located one of the pouches in Valeri's abdomen and began to slowly insert the symbiont until it began to move on it's won, seeking the contact from the neural ganglia to the spinal cord that it required for melding.

Valerie herself felt the symbiont moving inside her and had to stifle a giggle as it honestly tickled while moving further in, then a shiver ran up and down her spine as the symbiont made contact with the spinal cord and it was a quite unique experience as her nerves told her with a burning sensation where the ganglia had connected. She closed her eyes, this moment being one she'd never actually expected to experience in her life, and several minutes passed in silence.

It began with a whisper in the back of her head, she thought, though there was no way for any sort of conversation with a symbiont unless it was inside someone else, and even then it was speaking with the entire being of symbiont and person. But what she thought she heard seemed to be an apology, it was sorrow on a scale that Valerie had never known before. That confused her for a moment, then her back arched as she felt what seemed to be a dagger penetrating her from behind, a shriek of pain coming out of her, then all but doubling over as one, two, three times she was stabbed from the front, the towels dislodging from the sudden movements.

The doctor and the nurse sprung into action, the nurse all but tackling Valerie before she could fall off, the doctor grabbing her shoulders and pressing them back to the table, "Get the restraints.. This may be a rejection of the joining." He snapped to the nurse, not even looking, instead, prying one of Valerie's eyes open to get a look into it, "Ensign, can you hear me?"

Valerie's shriek faded off, it turning into a long series of sobs, "I'm not rejecting it." She sobbed, "It's... So much pain, mental pain, physical pain, gods..." She let another short scream of pain out that she strangled from force of will alone, "I'll. Be. Fine." She bit out, clenching her teeth hard enough that one of them actually cracked, turning on her side and curling up in a ball as her body was wracked with shudders and alternating shrieks and sobs, the nurse covering her with a sheet up to her shoulders.

Over the next few hours, as the woman and symbiont began the process of melding themselves together, everything devolved. From an occasional shriek, it turned into throat-rending screams as more and more of the pain, physical and psychic, from the symbiont was transferred and somewhere inside her, Valerie knew that it had truly been Novis sending her a pre-emptive apology for what was going to happen.

It was at this point that the doctor had gotten off the comm with one of the Guardians back on Trill and finally administered a sedative that tempered the full-throated, agonized screams of torture to a whine in the back of Valerie's throat as she slipped into blessed unconsciousness. From the direct pain, to dreams. Dreams of a faceless Cardassian with a knife and a gun, of another Cardassian, gunned down in front of her after she relived being stabbed over and over again.

And so began the life of Valerie Novis, no longer Herella.

 

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