“Glinn Makeb is aboard, Commander,” Malen said on the holocom. “He will be interrogated, and I will pass on any relevant information. High Command thanks you for the capture of a traitor, sabateur, and smuggler.”
“Glad to be of service to our Cardassian allies. Be well, Malen.” Eden ended the call, then looked at the others around the table in her quarters. Ral spoke first.
“Commander, in the ruins… you said you knew where we need to go. How is that?”
“I spent my childhood looking at star charts of that area of space,” Eden said. “I know it as well as people know the neighborhood where they grew up. The place we are looking for is in the Cestus system.”
“Cestus?” Luvrodo blinked. “That’s near the Gorn border, isn’t it? Why would you know that region?”
“I was born there. Federation starbase… it’s gone now,” Eden said. And please don’t ask more now. “The facility is on Cestus III.”
“I’ll have our detachment brush up on Gorn etiquette,” Thibeau said. “In case of local trouble.”
“Probably best,” Eden said. “If there’s nothing else?”
Those present nodded. “Dismissed.”
The others left, with only Eden and Luvrodo still in the room after the door closed. She met his eyes. “If I didn’t know better, I’d start to think you enjoy my company,” she said.
“I do.” He moved from his seat to one closer, at her side. “But that’s not why I stayed. There’s more to Cestus than your childhood.”
“If I didn’t know better,” Eden murmured, “I might think I’m surrounded by telepaths.” She sighed. “The station’s operations were classified, Luvrodo. But it was destroyed, and my mother was killed in the battle where it happened. I haven’t been back to Cestus since.”
He covered her hand with his. “There’s enough pain there that I can feel it even past your barriers. Couldn’t Starfleet send anyone else?”
“They’d have to come here to get the disc first,” Eden said. “And the current crisis is consuming nearly all resources. It has to be us, and even if it didn’t… I can’t run from my own birthplace the rest of my life. Not if I want to be the person I see myself as.” She met his eyes. “I don’t run because I’m scared. Not ever. I run because it’s the right choice, because it will save lives or help others or because fighting is unnecessary, but I don’t run out of fear. And the only reason I would run from this is fear.”
“There’s no shame in fear, Eden,” he murmured. “Sometimes we need it.”
“I know that,” Eden said. “I listen to my fear.” She let out a breath. “But this isn’t fear telling me that I’ll find danger. Just that I got hurt badly there once, and I don’t want to hurt like that ever again.” She rose to her feet. “I need to be alone for a while. Let the crew know that I appreciate their work.”
“I will,” he said, squeezing her hand before releasing it. Be well, Eden. Have good dreams.
She smiled at the sound of his voice in her mind, the blossoming of affection and desire that came with it. “Good night, Luvrodo.” It was only after he was gone, after she was sure her thoughts would remain hers alone, that she let herself think them.
I rarely do, but I appreciate the sentiment.