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Lt Cmdr Townson - Awaiting Deception

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((Bridge - USS Atlantis))

::As the computer began its process of searching for the prefix codes for the USS Christopher Pike, Tracey leaned back and looked up at the two Romulan vessels lingering on the main viewscreen, and she wondered what deceit they had planned. Tracey knew first hand the levels of deception the Romulans can go to to get what they want, and her memories of a particular mission to a Romulan refugee colony, while serving on the Independence flowed back to the forefront of her consciousness.::

(USS Tiger-A - Sickbay 2 Years Ago))

VELANA: Commander, this might sound odd, but by any chance, have you ever been to Bilire VI?

::Tracey's features changed to that of curiosity. Tracey was curious how the Doctor knew about Bilire VI. It was before she came aboard the Independence.::

TOWNSON: Yes, Doctor. Is there a problem? It was there actually where I suffered my first loss of consciousness. Is there a link somehow?

VELANA: When I was at the Academy, one of my xenopathology professors was...well, you could say he was obsessed with incurable diseases. One of the biggest that we studied originated on Bilire VI. I suppose I remember it because he was so close to finding a cure. All he was missing was one chain of amino acids that would break down the virus in the bloodstream, but every time he tried to manufacture it...he failed.

TOWNSON: We had the same problem, as well as the Romulan Doctors at the colony.

VELANA: Those amino acids...they're present in your blood, Commander. In exactly the right pattern. ::She paused.:: I can't explain how or why...but you're carrying the cure for one of the more unique diseases in the galaxy.

TOWNSON: How!?

::Tracey looked at the Doctor with curiosity. Tracey recalled the day she passed out with vivid clarity.::

(( Bilire VI - Jungle - 3 Years Ago))

::The trek back to the main colony was more difficult to traverse than it was to head to the campsite where Commander Clack was. Tracey figured it had to do with the darkness setting in. On her way through the brush, Tracey slipped on a root and lost her footing. She would have fallen but she was stopped by a strong arm. Tracey looked at the face that was attached to that arm and a look of recognition crossed her face. Tracey stood up as straight as she could, in the mud and water under her boots.::

TOWNSON: Commander Tal'Aura?

TAL'AURA: ::smiling:: Yes Cadet Townson. It is I. But I am not a Commander. At least not here.

TOWNSON: Cadet?

TAL'AURA: Yes Tracey. You must remember. I was your Commanding Officer while you were stationed on Romulus.

TOWNSON: Yes...but...

TAL'AURA: I know what you are thinking. I too, was dragged to this universe during a transporter accident.

TOWNSON: ::looking skeptically at the Romulan male standing in front of her, who was easily 6'7" tall and extremely muscular.:: What?

TAL'AURA: About two years ago, I was ordered to Aramus II in the Delta Minara sector, where a Romulan convoy was attacked by Dominion fighters. During transport from my warbird, I was caught in a transporter accident and ended up on a warbird in this universe.

TOWNSON: I...see...::still skeptical:: The information regarding my situation is readily accessible in my personnel files, and seeing as to how the Federation and the Romulans are...

TAL'AURA: Commander Jaxx...How is your husband Commander Jaxx?

TOWNSON: What?

TAL'AURA: I remember when you used to sit at your desk on the 12th floor of the office building where we worked in the city of Solius, on Romulus as a signals operator. You would look out the office window and up at the stars. When I would come to your desk and ask you what you were looking at, you would respond with " I wonder what star Andrus is closest to now." ::smiling::

TOWNSON: ::blinking and shaking her head:: This...this is not possible. I...

TAL'AURA: During that one training class when I had you fight that Norscican. The whole class was laughing at you, and bet against you saying that you'd never win.

TOWNSON: ::tinge of anger:: And I didn't. I didn't last one minute. He threw me against the wall like I was yesterday's trash. That was completely unfair Commander.

TAL'AURA: ::light laugh:: You're still the same, aren't you. I'm glad this universe didn't change you. I remember the first 30 seconds, you tried everything to win against the Norscican, despite the odds against you. You went at him with every skill at your disposal, despite the odds. ::pointing to the pips on her collar:: That is why you are wearing those. And that was the kind of soldier I saw in you so many years ago.

::Tracey looked up at the shadowed Romulan whose only source of light was coming from the planet's twin moons glowing over the man's head. Tracey had no idea what to make of her former superior officer potentially being also from the same universe as she was. And every part of Tracey wanted to believe that she was not alone.::

TOWNSON: Did you find a way to return? Did the Romulans try?

TAL'AURA: ::looking down and speaking with a touch of sadness in his voice:: Unfortunately no. When I arrived in this universe, I came as a Centurion. I found it difficult to contain my skill level on the warbird I was assigned to. The Commander found me to be a threat to his authority. I was forced out of the military.

TOWNSON: ::looking up and smiling:: Me too. When I first came here, I was an Ensign. At the beginning, I received quite a few tongue lashings by taking command in situations where I shouldn't have.

TAL'AURA: At least they didn't force you to resign.

TOWNSON: No. But I did spend a year at Starfleet Medical. I had a lot of trouble integrating at first.

TAL'AURA: Understandably so. Do you still know how to speak our language?

TOWNSON: Daie Riov. D'sora hrrau'khir nnaenukhe mh-aigrev reh, mrht p'tned-pra'krsh aeu. (Yes Commander. Coming here took a lot from me, but never that.)

TAL'AURA: ::looking up at the darkened sky:: We should head back to the compound. Come to my...home...if you would call it that. We'll share some stories over some ale.

TOWNSON: ::smiling:: That would be nice. I am honored, Commander.

::As the two headed back to the refugee camp, they spoke of the past when Tracey was stationed on Romulus as a Cadet. They also spoke about how they could, maybe, set an example for the Romulan Empire and the Federation to work together towards a more trustworthy coexistence. Upon arrival to the camp, Tracey and Tal'Aura entered his abode and continued to talk and laugh about the past, over a bottle of Romulan ale well into the night.::

((Later))

TOWNSON: ::putting her empty glass on the small table in front of her:: I really must be going, Commander. Tomorrow I will introduce you to my superior officer and perhaps we can work on a dialog between the Federation and the Empire. If that could work out well here, perhaps it would spread throughout the quadrant.

TAL'AURA: ::smiling:: And bring a piece of our universe into this one. And hopefully make us feel better about all the shameful things we have had to do in our careers, and do at least one thing good.

TOWNSON: ::smiling:: Exactly.

::Tracey stood up and stood at attention::

TAL'AURA: Have a good rest Commander.

TOWNSON: ::looking ahead without flinching a muscle:: You as well Commander.

TAL'AURA: ::pause:: Dismissed.

::Tracey left the small building and headed out into the night. As she walked further away, she hummed the tune that was given to her by her bartender friend on DS 17, Jack. Tracey smiled all the way to her temporary lodgings, and she had a skip to her step, despite the muddy conditions under her boots. Hvaid Tal'Aura stood and picked up the two glasses, and as he was heading to put them away to be cleaned, his door opened and Arrhae entered and closed the door behind her.::

ARRHAE: I thought she'd never leave.

TAL'AURA: You really should knock.

ARRHAE: And wake up the whole neighborhood?

::Arrhae went to a small desk, opened up a drawer and pulled out a hyposyringe, rolled up her sleeve and placed the syringe on the inside part of her wrist and pushed down. Arrhae winced and clenched her fists as the welts in her arm began to disappear. She then replaced the syringe and went to sit down.::

ARRHAE: So? does she believe you?

TAL'AURA: So far. Everything is going just according to plan. Except...

ARRHAE: Its going to happen. Don't worry Hvaid.

TAL'AURA: So far its only us who are getting sick.

ARRHAE: It may take awhile, but they will.

TAL'AURA: But we are dying. Not them.

ARRHAE: Patience, my dear Hvaid. ::standing up and taking him around the waist:: Patience.

TAL'AURA: I did overhear from their camp in the jungle that they have sent crew back to their ship.

ARRHAE: ::smiling and looking up at he lover:: Excellent. And infected crew as well.

TAL'AURA: Hopefully soon, Arrhae. Or else all this would have been for nothing.

ARRHAE: Shhhh ::embracing the man:: We'll make them pay for what they did to Romulus. And they'll suffer for it for years to come and throughout the quadrant. And we, will have the only antidote. ::looking towards the desk::

TAL'AURA: Does anyone else know?

ARRHAE: Not a soul. Everyone thinks I'm Federation friendly.

TAL'AURA: Good. And we're about to get friendlier. That undercover agent on Earth sure did perform wonders retrieving that material from Starfleet Medical. Rest his poor soul. ::smiling:: I'm happy her doctor took terrific notes.

ARRHAE: I must get back to my rounds before someone suspects something.

::And with that, the two embraced one more time and Arrhae continued going door to door to check the conditions of those in the camp before she herself headed to bed.::

((Timewarp - A few days later - Bilire IV))

::Tracey ran. She ran as fast as she could. With each footfall to the muddy ground, Tracey counted the seconds. She knew she would not make it to the conference on time, and being late was never Tracey's way. But Tracey had a second chance, to right a wrong she did years earlier. Even if it meant a poor mark on her service record, Tracey was not about to do once again what she did years earlier.::

((Time-Warp - City of Solius - Romulus - Otherverse - Years Ago))

Tal'Aura: Beautiful evening, isn't it?

::Tracey had just finished work at the office and she was sitting at an outdoor terrasse at a Romulan version of a cafe. All day, Tracey had seen the sunlight beat in through her office window, and she knew that after her day of work, she wanted to relax. The Romulan Cafe was just on the ground level of the offices she worked at. Tracey was sitting, enjoying the setting sun of this alien planet as the Romulan soldiers patrolled the streets. This was a bustling, military city, where 90 percent of the soldiers were Romulan. The other 10 percent was made up of a mix of different alien species, with her being one of them. Humans who were assigned to Romulus were dispersed all over the planet. Since her arrival, Tracey only counted a handful of humans assigned to the city of Solius. And only about three times that amount who were members of Starfleet.::

::Looking up from her PADD, Tracey squinted through the setting sun over the man's back. Placing her hand over her brow to protect her eyes, Tracey looked up and smiled.::

TOWNSON: Why yes it is. ::gesturing towards a seat opposite from her:: Would you care to join me, Commander?

TAL'AURA: Why thank you Cadet. ::pulling out the chair and sitting down::

::Tal'Aura ordered a drink and when it arrived, he took a sip.::

TAL'AURA: Still working I see. ::gesturing towards Tracey's PADD::

TOWNSON: Just studying, Commander.

::Tracey watched as the well-built Romulan sitting across from her took another sip. Tracey found him to be quite handsome, and if her situation would have been different, if Tracey was not with Jaxx, Tracey would have probably tried her luck. But She also knew it was completely inappropriate to think the way she did. But her loneliness of being away from her Betazoid boyfriend for so long, and the lack of any relationships in her environment, Tracey found herself to be flirting with her superior officer. To Tracey, it was as if there was an internal battle between her brain and her body. And up until today, her brain had won out. But all that was about to change.::

TAL'AURA: Very good, Cadet. I am very proud of your progress thus far.

TOWNSON: Thank you, Commander.

Tal'Aura: Please, Cadet. In there, ::referring to the office building they both worked in:: my name is Commander Tal'Aura. Out here, my name is Hvaid. ::smiling::

TOWNSON: ::placing her PADD on the table in front of her and looking at the Romulan with a mischievous smile:: Thats very unprofessional of you, Commander.

TAL'AURA: ::feigning a broken heart by holding his hands to his chest:: My, my. Are you going to report me, Cadet.

TOWNSON: ::smiling:: Only to say that you are one of the best teachers I've ever had. And only if you stop calling me Cadet.

TAL'AURA: ::taking one last sip then putting his empty glass on the small round table.:: Then we have an agreement.

::Tal'Aura looked around the landscape of the city before returning his gaze on Tracey.::

TAL'AURA: Have you had the chance to tour this city, yet, Tracey?

TOWNSON: ::nodding:: I took the primary tour upon arrival and I have walked around the center core near my place. Why do you ask?

TAL'AURA: Well I know this city very well. My grandmother used to live here. I used to visit quite often as a child. I know places here the tour guides would never show you.

TOWNSON: Is that so, Hvaid.

TAL'AURA: Would you like me to show you?

TOWNSON: ::smiling:: Yes. Since I've come to Romulus I find it all to be quite enchanting. I would very much like to see the rest of the city.

::And with that, the two stood up and left the little table at the cafe and walked. The two walked for hours throughout the evening, as soldiers wound past them at every turn. They went into various shops and tried different local treats. Tracey practiced her Romulan with each shop they'd enter and look around in. The two laughed and spoke the whole evening through, despite the ever present backdrop of the familiar war-zone they both lived in. Several hours later, the two found themselves on top of a mountain on the edge of the city, looking down at the city lights, while sitting on a bench.::

TOWNSON: There! That's it! ::pointing to building in the distance::

TAL'AURA: No, no! That's it! ::pointing to another building close to the one Tracey was pointing to:: I'll bet you dinner that's the one. ::smiling::

TOWNSON: No...Look at the markings on the roof. That is our office building over there.

TAL'AURA: Oh...yeah. I guess you are right. ::smiling and looking at Tracey.:: It looks like I owe you dinner.

TOWNSON: ::looking up at Tal'Aura and smiling:: Yes you do.

::On the bench next to theirs, a young Romulan couple were embracing one another.::

TAL'AURA: Young love.

TOWNSON: ::looking towards the shadowed couple then back to the city lights:: Yes.

TAL'AURA: How is Jaxx?

TOWNSON: ::without averting her eyes from the lights below:: Far away.

TAL'AURA: You miss him.

::Tracey just nodded.::

TOWNSON: I hate this war.

TAL'AURA: Don't we all. It makes us all feel very lonely.

TOWNSON: ::turning to look at Tal'Aura:: Is there someone special in your life, Hvaid?

TAL'AURA: ::shaking his head and looking down to the ground:: I have put all my efforts into the military. I had no time for much else. I had to work hard to earn the rank of Commander at such a young age. Plus with the war...::trailing off::

TOWNSON: I know. You can find that one special person one day, and loose them the next.

::The couple at the opposite bench stood up and walked away hand in hand as Tracey and Tal'Aura watched them leave. Tal'Aura turned to look at Tracey and their eyes locked for a minute. Tal'Aura gently took Tracey's hands in hers and Tracey didn't pull back. She knew what would happen next, and for the first time in years, Tracey allowed her body to overrun what was going on in her head. Tracey took a deep breath, and the two embraced.::

((Later))

::A light misty rain was coming down over the city of Solius, as Tracey an Tal'Aura were walking down a lane-way, hand in hand, leading to Tracey's temporary home. When they arrived, the two stopped.::

TOWNSON: Thank you...for a wonderful evening Hvaid.

TAL'AURA: And thank you too, Tracey. ::pause:: Back to work tomorrow.

TOWNSON: Yes. Back to work tomorrow.

::The two kissed one last time, and then Tal'Aura started walking away. Tracey watched as the man became a shadow under the lights and then a message came through her PADD that drew her attention. Tracey quickly scanned the message which said she was being recalled from Romulus in the morning. Tracey looked up at the retreating Tal'Aura in the distance and opened her mouth to shout something. But before she did, she closed it and watched the man disappear into the night of this alien city. Tracey never saw Commander Tal'Aura again.::

((Bilire VI))

::Tal'Aura had been reading and the more he read, the more he was fascinated by this Starfleet Officer. The tales of battles and near death experiences were quite extraordinary. This one was not afraid of confrontation. Tal'Aura would look up from his reading once in awhile, hearing the moans of agony coming from the hospital, and he cringed each time and look towards the drawer wher the cure to the disease lay. And he would fight himself to not just take the hyposyringe and walk over to the hospital himself and cure all those suffering. But he knew Arrhae would kill him. Literally. He was under the watchful eye of the Tal'Shiar continuously. He was the chosen one to infiltrate Starfleet and introduce the "wrath". But so far, it was the Romulans who were dying. And Tal'Aura was torn man.::

::Tal'Aura was interrupted by a knock on the door. He quickly hid his reading material and went to the door fully expecting Arrhae to be on the other side. But to his surprise, it was not.::

::Huffing and puffing, Tracey found the door to her former superior officer's abode. She quietly chided herself for being so out of shape, despite the fact that running through mud was quite physically demanding. Tracey quickly caught her breath and knocked on the door.::

::The door opened and Tal'Aura stood and looked down to the petite human standing in front of him. She was dirty and muddy and appeared to be catching her breath.::

TOWNSON: Hvaid. I've been ordered back to the ship.

::Tal'Aura just nodded.::

TOWNSON: I didn't want to just leave again without telling you.

TAL'AURA: Well thank you.

::Tal'Aura was curious as to why the human used his first name.::

TOWNSON: I never told anyone. I...I tried to forget. It would have been impossible.

TAL'AURA: ::with no clue what the human female was talking about, but nodding nevertheless:: I know.

TOWNSON: Then you are not angry?

TAL'AURA: If I was, I would have told you last night.

TOWNSON: ::smiling:: Thank you, Commander.

TAL'AURA: Return to your duties, Commander. Dismissed.

TOWNSON: Aye Commander.

::Just as Tracey was about to leave the doorway, she became very weak and her world began to fade. Tracey then passed out as blood trickled out of her mouth. But she was once again caught by the Romulan and kept from falling. Tal'Aura then brought her inside and lay her down on his small couch, and placed a small saucer under her mouth to collect the blood. He then stood and looked over her unconscious body and recalled all the adversity this human had gone through in her short life. Despite her tiny frame, there was an obvious strength to the human that he admired. Besides, from the short conversation at the doorway, there appeared to be more going on than what was written in the Medical logs. Tal'Aura was just a minor Centurion in this universe and he was finally given the chance to be someone by helping in this mission. He grabbed it at the time, just to get out of the doldrums of life. But from the readings of the human lying in front of him, Tal'Aura knew he could be more, without having to kill. Without having to watch people suffer. Without thinking, Tal'Aura went to the drawer where the hypospray with the antidote rested, opened it, removed it and headed to the couch where Tracey lay. He pushed aside her long, black hair and pressed the hypospray to her neck. The audible hiss sound emerged and Tal'Aura returned the device to the drawer and then washed the blood from the human's mouth and waited till she came back to consciousness.::

::After a few minutes, Tracey groggily sat up and looked up at Tal'Aura.::

TOWNSON: I...what happened, Hvaid?

TAL'AURA: ::smiling:: I believe you may be overworked, Tracey. You should get some rest as soon as you get the chance.

TOWNSON: That's never happened to me before.::sitting up:: How long was I out for?

TAL'AURA: There's always a first time. You were only out for about five minutes. I gave you some smelling salts to revive you. So are you going to follow my order or not?

TOWNSON: Hvaid?

TAL'AURA: Your dismissed. ::smiling::

::Tracey stood, came to attention in front of the Romulan for a moment, then turned and headed to the door. But just before leaving, Tracey turned back to face the Romulan.::

TOWNSON: Thank you once again, Commander. I will be back.

TAL'AURA: I am looking forward to it, Commander.

TOWNSON: This colony is lucky to have someone like you here. They could learn alot from you. You have always been the best teacher.::smiling::

TAL'AURA: oO As have you, Lieutenant Commander Tracey Townson, and that is why I could not let you die. Oo You are wearing out your stay, Commander. ::smiling::

TOWNSON: ::tapping her com-badge with her prosthetic hand:: Townson to Independence. One to beam up.

::Tracey took one last look at Tal'Aura then took a deep breath, closed her eyes and waited for the transporter beam to envelop her.::

::Tal'Aura stood in the doorway looking at the spot where Tracey was standing seconds earlier, with a smile, then a look of shock overcame his face as he felt the blade enter his back. Then nothingness.::

((Sickbay - USS Tiger-A))

::Tracey stared at the Doctor, but her focus wasn't on her, but with a memory of a day where she lost more than a friend. A day she paid a price by befriending an agent who was out to destroy the Federation, she later learned. To a man she believed was her kind, from a place no one in this universe could fathom, nor would she want them to. And a day where she lost her rank, a piece of her life she held so dear, for one last chance to right a wrong she had done many years previous in a place that only existed in her own mind now.::

::As she forced herself to contain her emotions in front of the emotional Vulcan doctor, Tracey sat with a look of shock on her face.::

TOWNSON: Tal'Aura! Fvah partrai hwi sthear i arhem?

::Velana jumped a bit as Townson shouted in Romulan. She understood the words, but the meaning behind them escaped her.::

VELANA: ::frowning:: Who is Tal'Aura? What did he do to you?

((Bridge - USS Atlantis - Present))

::Still staring at the two hips on the main viewscreen, Tracey whispered words in the Romulan dialect.::

TOWNSON: What have you done now?

::Suddenly her panel beeped, the prefix codes for the USS Chistopher Pike was found. She turned and faced Commander Mitchell.::

TOWNSON: Commander. I have the prefix codes for the Pike.

MITCHELL: response

-TBC-

Lt. Commander Tracey Townson
Intel
USS Atlantis

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