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Com Ivanova, Empress Xue'Daio Nox, Cmdr Dahe'el, Vokar & Cpt Vokar | "Curse the darkness..."

Posted on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 @ 7:08pm by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova

Mission: The Round Table

“Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness.” Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

Having watched from the vantage point he shared with the Empress, Vokar had been impressed at the way the Cardassian XO of the Vindicator manipulated and maneuvered Rochelle about the dancefloor, he was caring and gentle yet strong and direct when he needed to be and the depths of their relationship and trust in each other was written with every step that they took. Anyone who cared to analyse them could see it. Holographic waiters had been employed and programmed for this event to augment the staff from the station and they currently weaved their way through the crowd, the dancing had finished for the moment and the band were playing some light mood music as food and drink were passed around on decorative trays.

Shining, as she did, Xue'Daio stood as a silent sentinel beside the aging Vulcan. All was as it should be - or so it would seem. People were smiling, celebrating life, and from her perch she was able to pick out those who meant most to her... Or rather... Those who intrigued her most. Her cousin, S'ia, remained close to her dance partner, a man she was most certain was the one the young star had chosen to remain in Starfleet for. A short bit off, a different man stood toying with gravity defying glass balls, that one curried the briefest whisper of a smile before her eyes left him and settled on the pair Vokar himself had levied his attention on. "Even when they were on Apsha, they seemed to glide together." She remarked, a couple fingers flicking in their direction in gesture to the pair, "It gives me hope that the Ascendancy can someday gel as well with the Federation. If he can be accepted, loved as he is, then we can find our way to alliance."


From the hidden vantage point in the rafters, the unseen watcher looked down at the chronometer to his left, it was close to go time and he was recalculating all of the formula he had in place, ensuring that everything would go as planned. He’d been on the station now for several weeks, anticipating this eventuality and found himself eager to get started, he’d been reading several books while waiting and found himself reciting a quote under his breath, “Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness.”


The whiskey was smooth and warmed Almar from his depths as her words trailed off into everything that never needed to be said between them, he swirled the amber liquid in the glass a few times, the smile that crossed his lips was nearly a permanent fixture when he was in her presence. "Have you given any thought towards the possible reason behind Vokar accompanying the Empress?"

An ice encrusted brow rose and her eyes flicked towards where she could see the Empress and the Vulcan standing and watching. Earlier the woman had been dancing with the Goblin King, ensnared in some idle banter filled with quiet smiles. The body language had said it all; they were familiar. Too familiar - but not in ways that made Rochelle uncomfortable enough to second guess the Goblin King's allegiance to Starfleet - whoever he may be. "I'll go out on a limb and say it isn't for love." She nodded, sipping her drink, "Perhaps some sort of Master and Padawan routine. He could be teaching her... She's young, after all, and connected to the Romulans through the Praetor's nephew." The icy one shrugged, "there's always once way to find out." She grinned, stealing his glass from him and depositing it next to hers on a passing tray, "Come. We mingle."

Making their way across the floor was not as treacherous as it could have been, Almar and Rochelle moved with arms linked towards the spot where Vokar and the Empress were sat observing the crowd, the Cardassian noted how some people looked over his mask and recoiled slightly before remembering where they were.

"Empress Xue'Daio Nox, Captain Vokar... I can't say that I was expecting to see either one of you so soon." Rochelle greeted, relying on their astute senses and the ease of which her Cardassian counterpart could be identified in order to seal the deal on the revelation as to who hid behind the veil of winter.

Xue, for what it was worth, had long since figured it out. Watching them on the dance floor had been enough to alert anyone who bothered to pay attention. She found herself smiling, nodding, and graciously inviting the pair closer with a simple elegant sweep of her shimmering arm. "I should be thanking you heavily for bringing Si'a Dai'xun home safely and for allowing her to assimilate into your crew so seamlessly. We arrived out of fear of the unknown, or rather that the unknown had consumed the Vindicator. It would seem that all great things never truly die." Her eyes, bright rose, flicked towards the aging Vulcan at her side in knowing amusement.

"I, for one, am certainly glad that the Vindicator returned in one piece," the Vulcan replied honestly with a slight smile that curled the corners of his mouth and creased the scarred cheek, "The Vindicator and I have a long history together and it would be a shame to see her lost."

Almar gave a wide bow and offered a flick of his cape as he came to a halt beside Rochelle, a smile was offered from below the mask, devoid of the fangs that adorned it so prominently, "Empress, Captain, it is a pleasure, as always." he replied with a light chuckle to himself as he thought through the entire range of possibilities for their appearance together.

"Yes... It would." Rochelle's smile waned for a moment, "I... We..." She gestured to the man at her side, "We owe you a great debt of gratitude for aiding in getting all hands off her previous namesake."

Xue nodded as she watched and listened to the curious flourish of the pair in front of her, "I doubt he takes score, if we're being honest with one another." The Empress' mouth curved into a delicate simper, "I have found that the Vanguard have an interest in what's best for the Federation as a whole and the Vindicator's survival, your survival, is paramount if we're ever to see peace out this way."

"Peace is a lofty goal, one that we should all strive for," Almar replied with a nod, "Its also the primary reason we were sent out here, to seek out new life and new civilisations, Starfleet and the Federation were built on peaceful co-existence and it would be a good day when the Ascendancy and the Federation walked hand in hand as friends."

A holographic waiter strolled past the small group and offered round glasses, this one seemed a little out of place to anyone paying them any mind but they were all but invisible as they moved around the crowd, when it reached Vokar its mouth formed to speak, "Liar." it whispered to the Vulcan as he picked up a glass. Within a moment it had wheeled away and disappeared into the crowd.

"Lofty, yes, but worthy and possible if we all understand a common interest and goal." Xue quipped in response.

Rochelle could only nod in agreement as the conversation went on by way of politics, easy and cool with no greater hint given towards why the odd pair had shown up together.

Several minutes passed before another holographic waiter passed the group and this time a little louder it spoke, "Murderer." it said, the voice still hushed as it passed the Vulcan, it was gone as fast as the first but only a moment passed before another approached, this time it spoke at a level that could be heard by all four of the group, "Imposter."

By that time, the redhead had become more than a little unnerved. She followed the retreating form of the holowaiter just long enough for another to pass - the list of words and accusations being thrown in Vokar's direction growing in ardor and volume. A glance to Almar did nothing to settle her. A glance towards the Empress and the Vulcan only served to make her blood pressure rise all the more. "Something we need to know about?" She asked, trying to look for Aine or Blyx or anyone partly responsible for the programming of the holowaiters, but finding no one and knowing that none of them, in their right mind, would ever have done anything to provoke the Vanguard during a time when so many were unarmed and the Empress there to rally her own army if she felt so inclined.

Xue, however, had taken a half step away from Vokar. Her face, once serene, was now laced and clouded by confusion and annoyance perching on the cusp of irritation and embarrassment, "Not from me." She replied, deigning a quick glance in the direction of the Cardassian and the icy Commodore. Her attention was then pressed towards Vokar, an unspoken question playing across her refined features.

An uncharacteristic look of worry had begun crossing the Vulcan's scarred features as he began scanning around the room, the crowd had caught wind of something going on and had begun to back away, "Show yourself!" he shouted to the room as he banged his cane on the deck plating.

Almar reached up and removed the mask that hid his features, it fell to the floor, discarded amongst the mysteries of the night, "What's going on, Vokar?"

Before the Vulcan could speak the holowaiters began emerging from the crowd, a legion of men who never really existed in the first place but now they all wore a familiar face, they were morphing, changing, the features distorting and stretching, becoming more Vulcan as they approached. Their voices began ringing out through the air as they moved, repeating the words they had been speaking, their chorus a taunt, digging at Vokar, "Liar, Murderer, Imposter..."

"Empress..." Rochelle whispered towards the albino butterfly, and reached to take hold of the delicate chains and crystals dripping from the regent's wrist. The mask discarded, there was little ignoring Almar's intent or impressive stance - the very act, combined with Rochelle's quiet urging, conveyed everything that needed to be said while the level of weird continued to grow and spiral wildly out of control.

It didn't take much by way of urging for Xue'Daio to crab step further from the man who was beginning to come apart at the seams - the swarm of holowaiters beginning to swallow them, cutting off any and every escape. She could feel the familiar tingle of electric current begin to run and prickle along her nerve endings, the bright glow of her in the whispers of light only serving to intensify in warning that the Stenellis was no longer comfortable or amused. "Vo..." She paused in her speech, brows furrowed tight as she came to rest beside the still ice enshrouded red Commodore. "Imposter?"

The holowaiters stopped and formed a near perfect semicircle around the group, the main focus now on the Vulcan who looked around at the sea of his own face, a bead of sweat formed on his forehead and made it's way haphazardly down his broken features.

Behind the two officers and the Empress, a thud announced the arrival of something different but ever so familiar, the voices of the waiters stopped as the figure rose from its kneeling position it had taken upon landing, "Imposter!" the newcomer shouted as he reached his full height and threw back the hood concealing his face, the scars were the same but he looked... younger, fresher, stronger.

Spinning on her heel at the sudden change and sound, Rochelle came face to face with yet another Vokar. This one far more vibrant, this one far... Younger. His face was alight with anger and perhaps a smug sense of... Victory? She couldn't tell. Her next grasp on the Empress would need to be through clothing only - the serenade of her unworldly power was barely perceptible above the clamor, but unmistakable to any who had ever met with the species' bio-electric defense mechanisms. Rochelle, unfortunately, had.

Xue's head lifted defiantly, the delicate filigree mask removed to expose her pixie-like face and rose eyes filled with their own unique ire. She stood close to Rochelle, knowing full well that there was safety in numbers and push come to shove she'd unleash hell upon one, or both, of the Vulcans present. "Liar." Her voice barely hissed beyond her lips, as she looked over her shoulder to catch sight of the man she had trusted while accusations flew.

"I told you that I'd come for you, you stole my life from me and left me to die!" the younger of the two Vulcans shouted as he strode towards his doppelganger with purpose, "You left me to rot in the hell of your universe, you betrayed me after we helped you. The Pendragon is mine and I'll have her back!"

"Take the Empress." The Commodore's hand found Almar's elbow, "Get her to the Endeavour and consult with Admiral Archer when you're out of the arboretum." The order was gentle, but enough to get her point across. This was no place for the Empress of the Stenellian Ascendancy to be; smack dab between two warring Vokars - one that had potentially been using her to accomplish only the Gods knew what. As her hands slipped away from the Cardassian's arm, she stepped out away from the 'safety' of his shadow and towards the two titans.

Almar's gentle guiding bought the Empress as far from the two warring Vulcans as he could, her safety at this point was paramount and the Cardassian was moving to place his bulk between her and the Vulcans.

"Time out!" She bellowed roughly, holding her icy hands in the timeless signal for the fight to pause. "Make a move, you're both done. Cold Station Theta is one of the best armed and most ready stations in Federation space, not the smartest place to try to run this game." She could feel her heart thundering wildly in her chest as those white eyes went from one angry face to the other, "Empress Xue'Daio is leaving. As are you, gentlemen, and from wherever it is you go you can play an amazing game of eenie meenie or whatever it is you want in order to figure out who's who..." Playing her cards right, she may have saved face enough to allow the spectators to believe this was just another act of the night - a pre-midnight salute to the spooky nature of Masquerade Balls. "No one here wants any part of this, Vokar..." She warned, low enough for only Vulcan ears to quirk towards and pick up. "Everyone just wants to go home safe and sound tonight."

"Rochelle Andreevna Ivanova, Commodore, USS Vindicator E and currently F," the younger Vulcan replied with a slight smile as he cocked his head towards her and nodded, "We've not yet had the pleasure," his voice was steady, calm and measured. "Noone may want part of this, but everyone is involved," he added as the face turned sour and his right arm shot up, a phaser leveled at his doppelganger, the speed at which he drew was nothing compared to how quickly he took the shot, the bright orange lance reached out and tore open the chest of the older man, sending him crashing back against the garden wall, he fell and slumped over in a heap on the floor.

"NO!" The scream from the albino Empress was shrill, but the brilliant flash of light, bright as star shine, filled the space faster than Rochelle could leap for the Vulcan's hand or draw her own concealed weapon. All she could do was cover her eyes as the flash left with a startling pop and crackle. How she'd gotten free from Almar was a mystery, but a quick look in their direction promised her that he was still standing and no worse for wear, beside the vibrant Stenellis monarch. The same, however, could not be said for the Vulcans, either of them. The how and the why Xue'Daio Nox had been able to fell the younger of the two Vokars without being anywhere near close enough to touch him skin to skin was a question she'd need to ask later - for the moment, she was dealing with a far worse scenario. The young one felled by the blast, the elder slumped over and dead.

"Him! Grab him!" Rochelle ordered, gesturing to the younger, still living Vulcan as Xue rushed past, wings and all, to fall at the dead one's side. At a loss, she found herself coming close, aware of the anguish written across the young regent's face as she cradled his head close to her chest.

Looking up with hurt filled eyes, she locked gazes with the Commodore, "We don't know who's what anymore... But he was my friend." She explained, willing herself to keep from tears though the pout of her lower lip and delicate chisel of her chin trembled in threat. "He doesn't deserve this spectacle, Ivanova... Please..." She begged, hugging the body to her tightly.

Swallowing hard, Rochelle looked to where security had started to gather, where James had appeared from the crowd, to Almar. "Ok..." She nodded, silently pleading with them all to follow along, to listen. "Security," She hit her well concealed combadge, relieved when it chirped, "Five to beam to the brig. One deceased... In fifteen seconds." It was quiet enough, but acknowledged. Xue seemed to visibly sigh in relief as the snow queen stepped away, steeling her resolve as she did, "And that ladies and gentlemen was our show! Two minutes until midnight!"

(To be continued...)

Empress Xue'Daio Nox
Queen of Apsha
Ruler of Aleine
Stenellian Ascendancy


Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer


Commander Almar Dahe'el
Executive Officer


Captain Vokar
Former Commanding Officer


Vanguard Commander


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