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[2008: SEP-OCT] Sokkan's Fulcrum


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“The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.” ~Marcus Aurelius

Aurelius, Sokkan reflected, could well have been a Romulan. Smoke and mirrors, secrets and lies... They were all more efficient tools than brute force, in the right hands. And Sakkon had particularly skilled hands. If deception were a laser scalpel, he would be the surgeon, slicing through the protective layers to enact the changes he wanted within.

"The Federation ships are within range."

A voice intruded into his reverie and the Tal Shiar operative looked up, glancing at the woman who had spoken. Centurion T'Elaiia - sharp as a mono-edged knife and about as warm. She had been invaluable during the planning of this operation and he knew she had a stellar career ahead of her. He also knew that she was simply waiting for an opportunity to stab him in the back and seize control, and thus the glory, for herself. A tiny smile cracked his stony visage at the thought. He liked it. It kept the fire burning in his blood.

"Show me." he replied.

T'Elaiia nodded and the viewscreen snapped from the cobalt-blue moon they were orbiting, to the instantly recognisable forms of the two Federation starships. Perfectly on time and at the exact coordinates specified, Sokkan had to admire Starfleet efficiency. After all, it had definitely made certain aspects of his job easier. His face impassive, he observed the two ships; one sleek and streamlined, built for speed and exploration, the other rugged and battlescarred, impact scorches plain on its hull and the glow from the nacelles flickering unsteadily. They were elegant ships, no doubt, but they lacked the sweeping, avian beauty of Romulan designs.

"Let's hear them." he spoke directly to T'Elaiia and in response, she deftly tapped into the communications channel the two vessels had established. Though Sokkan knew most - probably everything - that was would about to be discussed, he wanted to hear it for himself.

"USS Aurelius to USS Pendragon. Please respond."

"This is Captain Xen of the Pendragon. Commander Tsao, it's good to hear your voice. How is your captain?"

"Captain Sovak is in critical condition. Our doctor is reluctant to transfer him at all, but in our current condition we don't have the facilities to treat him or the speed to get him somewhere that does."

"Is he contagious?"

"In theory. The contagion isn't highly transmissible unless weaponised, but it does have an aggravated effect on Vulcans, it seems."

"I doubt the Kalash had Vulcans in mind when they were creating it. First the diplomat gets caught in the crossfire, then the Starfleet captain replacing him gets infected in a biological attack. Makes you wonder if the Federation shouldn't have just let them wipe each other out."

"I'm not sure the Captain would agree. He believed they were near to agreeing to a ceasefire."

"Apparently not."

There was a reluctant pause from the First Officer of the Aurelius.

"No."

There was another silence, as if Captain Xen suddenly realised he had misstepped. It was brief, however, and he soon continued on in the same business-like manner.

"How would you like to do this, Commander?"

"It will have to be via the transporter. Our 'bays were too heavily damaged in combat to launch a shuttle and our transporter systems took significant damage as well, so we'll need your most skilled operative at the controls. It should take us about fifteen minutes to prep him."

"Very well. Let us know when you're ready for the transfer. Pendragon out."

Sokkan rose from the command chair, his calm exterior belying the sudden jump in his heartbeat. This was it... Everything he had spent months working toward hinged upon a single moment; in the blink of an eye he would either soar to success or fall to ashes.

"Centurion. It's time."

Without a word, or even a hint of acknowledgement, T'Elaiia rose from her seat and followed Sokkan as he strode from the bridge.

*********

He lifted his chin and felt the small hiss of air as the hypospray delivered the activating agent into his system. Even before he had finished changing from his uniform into the shapeless tunic and trousers Starfleet made their inpatients wear, he could feel his temperature rising; his immune system beginning to battle the sudden infection rampaging through his body. It was only going to get worse... And though he knew it was unlikely to kill him, it would bring him dangerously close to the edge.

Stepping up onto the transporter pad, his legs already beginning to weaken underneath him, he turned to face T'Laiia. She had taken up position behind the console, her long fingers resting lightly on the controls while they waited for the crew of the Aurelius to finish their preparations. He appreciated her appearance in the same way he did that of Romulan vessels; predatory and graceful.

"How do I look?" he asked.

"Like a Vulcan. My condolences."

Sokkan allowed himself a wry smile in response - he was going to miss her sense of humour. Breaking the silence that had settled, the console in front of her began to chirp. She looked down and instantly her hands were deftly moving over its surface.

“The Aurelius is locking transporters to the Pendragon. Scans show they are operating on the expected subspace frequency. Intercepting beam and initialising transport...” she glanced up at him, inclining her head in a goodbye nod as the green light shimmered around him, shifting to blue as it intensified.

“Happy hunting.”

*********

A few days later, he cracked open his eyes. His throat was parched, his entire body ached and his the inside of his skull felt as though it were on fire. A woman with kind eyes drifted into the edges of his swimming vision, leaning over his bedbound body with a tricorder in one hand.

“How are you feeling, Captain?” she murmured gently, touching him on the shoulder in a sympathetic gesture.

Deep inside, Sokkan smiled.

Edited by Quinn
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