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Part of USS Daedalus: Mission 2 – The Edge of Hope and Despair and USS Mackenzie: Mackenzie Squadron : The Edge of Hope and Despair

DEHD 018 – The True Way

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“All passengers are secured and belongings stored.”  Leo Halsey stood, PADD in hand, as he reported the latest.

Captain Dread slid into her center chair, thankful the current nightmare was nearly over, “Helm, plot us a course out of here and…”

Catari at tactical interrupted her, “True Way Raven fleet entering the system now!”

Helena groaned, “Yellow alert – Halsey – you’d better head down to the passengers if this gets sticky.”  He nodded and was through the turbolift doors moments later.  She turned her attention back to Athena, “Status?”

“Shields are up, weapons armed…but not targeting yet.”  She kept her eyes on the ships, setting the computer to alarm should anything change.  She personally hated The True Way with a deep hate that was wide with her anger.  It took some effort to keep her feelings to herself.

Helena gripped the arms of her chair and said, “Hail them.”  A moment later, Atega signaled that they were responding.

A young Cardassian appeared on the screen, his scowl deepening as he took in the bridge of the Daedalus.  “What are you doing here, Federation?”  This is True Way Territory.”

Dread shrugged, “Wasn’t aware you had claimed this far out – not much out here.  We were just leaving.”

He sneered, “What did you take from us?  You will tell us…now!”  She could see those in the background watching him carefully.  Was this a case of a young upstart desperate to prove himself in a new command?  Or was he just this way normally?

Helena said, “We didn’t ‘take’ anything from you.  We rescued a group of colonists who got lost out here and had been on the planet for a short time – they asked for our help, so we picked them up.”

The sneering continued, “I am Gul Jeta…I am reading a fire down below.  What harm have you brought the planet?”

Her patience with the Cardassian was waning, “We could not bring some of the housing and other equipment with us.  Instead of leaving it there, we’re returning it to the land.  You should know…,”

He now shouted, “Do not presume to tell me anything.  This is our planet…it is ours to do with what we will.  You must leave.  Now.”  He cut off the channel.

Catari mused, “Now they are targeting their weapons on us.  Orders, Captain?”

Dread shook her head, amused, “I tried to warm them…but that’s on them.  Make a note in the Federation maps for this planet, warning ships to avoid extended contact with it.  Helm, plot a course back to Mackenzie.  Engage when ready.”  Moments later, the Daedalus leaped away and into the darkness of space as the True Way ships swarmed the planet, making plans.

 

“I do not know how to feel.” Holbrook Orena sat on the bed in the back of the cargo bay, his face still wet with tears. Ensign Soojin sat beside him, a box of tissues in her hands as he slowly pulled from it and continued to cry.  “She was my everything…and for our nephew to be the one who…took her away from us.  I do not know how to feel.” Samantha hadn’t experienced such a powerful loss.  She simply listened as he spoke of his wife, their life together, and the many adventures they had experienced over the years.  He shared their younger days of love and spirited journeys together but also of their later years.  Holbrook looked at her, “You would have loved her, Ensign.  She always had a kind word for people…she missed meeting new people after we moved to the colony.  No new adventures to have, no new people to greet.  I suppose that’s why she took to exploring the lands around us.”  Sam continued to listen to him as he shared the story of how they met and how love had grown between them.

 

Six hours later, Halsey sat in his office chair, slipping out a bottle with dark liquid sloshing around.  He pulled out two glasses from another drawer, one of them on the other side of the desk, where an equally exhausted Jordan Reid sat dejectedly after flopping into the seat.  She picked up the cup and held it out intently as he filled it halfway.  She sipped at the whiskey, the warmth flowing through her tired bones. “I would have thought a strict man like yourself wouldn’t have contraband like that around – being a captain and all.”

Leo chuckled darkly, “You don’t know the half of it, Jordan.  We managed to see all fifty of them complete their blood work and put together an individual treatment plan for each.  That’s success in my book.”  He took a drink, “We’re lucky we got to them when we did.  The True Way would punish them by forcing them to serve them somehow…and the genetic infection would have gone unnoticed….and eventually killed them all.”  Another drink, “I’m glad you chose to stay on Daedalus, Jordan.”

She set her glass on the desk and motioned for another pour, which he did.  “I’ll carry Ambrose with me forever, Capt…,”  He waved her off and gave her a long stare.  “…Leopo…Leo.  I’ll get used to it.”  She accepted his smile as evidence of her progress.  “I have to find my new loves and my new life out here.  I can’t sit and wait for the safety and comfort to heal me fully…time is one thing…but not moving forward is another.  Grief is a monster…and I’m slowly working at cutting away at him piece by piece each day I’m alive and doing the work I am good at.  There’s a value and a healing to that, I think.”

Halsey raised his glass to her, “It’s not easy…but the journey must be had.  It can’t be ignored.”  The two sat in silence, patiently drowning their glasses.

She swirled the dregs of her second cup, “What’s next for us out there?”

He gave her a curious look, “I don’t think even Dread knows that.”

She rolled her eyes, “Not that.  I mean…what’s next for all of us?  What’s the next thing that’s going to push us to grow?  Force us to see something in us that we didn’t see before?  You tell me we’re never done becoming the best version of ourselves…what’s next for us?”

The Chief Medical Officer shrugged, “Whatever it is, we’ll face it together, Jordan.”  

He offered another pour, and she relented, “If you keep this up, I must warn you – I am a mean drunk.”

Halsey chuckled, “Well, the last time I imbibed on the real stuff, I punched an admiral’s son for making a pass at my girlfriend, so we’ll be great company.”  They continued to talk and drain the bottle well into the night as the Daedalus returned to the rendezvous with the Mackenzie.  The stars shone on, and the universe shifted forward and onward,

And in one small corner of it, an angry young woman plotted as she raged behind a shimmering curtain of revenge.