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Fleet Captain Sidney Riley: The Storm Bringer


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((Conference Room 1, USS Tiger-A))

::The Fleet Captain left the conference room before everyone had cleared out of the room. She headed to her ready room to drop off the PADD she was carrying. She looked over at the cat bed by the door and it was of course empty. She hadn't seen Andy since before they had been caught in the temporal displacement wave. Shaking her head she exited the room, walked across the bridge like she was in a daze and entered the turbolift. When the doors closed she leaned heavily against the wall, her face holding a reflective and melancholy expression.::

::It hadn't been that long since the Vaadwaur had invaded the Ithassa Region. That war had been brutal and not just in a physical sense. Memories of the last war came flooding back as she closed her eyes against the harsh light of the turbolift.::

((Flashback 238709.18))

::The Terran/Deltan nodded. Time to play poker and if she lost that hand, then it was time to play chicken.::

Riley: =/\=This is Captain Sidney Riley of the USS Independence to the Vaadwaur on Deep Space 17. You currently have us in a tractor beam. You will release us from that beam.=/\= ::She paused.::

Marari: =/\= You, who are without mercy, now plead for it? I thought you were made of sterner stuff. =/\=

:: He emitted a hoarse, throaty laugh. ::

Marari: =/\= Oh how the tables have turned, Captain! Suddenly, it is *you* who is left to beg for the lives of others with *nothing* to give in return. Tsk tsk tsk... and to think, my birthday isn't until *next* month. Please, amuse me-why-ever should I release you? =/\=

Riley: =/\=Because if you don't you have a problem. Our current trajectory takes us into an essential part of the station. When we hit you will lose at a minimum 66 percent of the station, and that's without our armed photon torpedoes which will explode on impact.=/\=

Marari: =/\= Hah... you're bluffing. You're a spineless, despicable, selfish coward who gloats with the upper hand and, apparently, resorts to pathetic bluffs with a losing one. I suggest you try begging next, Captain.=/\=

Riley: =/\=I suggest you release us now. You have sixty seconds before we help your tractor beam out.=/\=

Marari: =/\= You are bluffing, mammal! Pathetic waste of flesh and air! I will enjoy watching you die, Captain- I don't care if it kills me! I don't care if it destroys this whole STATION! I will END you, Sidney Riley! When I am done, you will BEG for a death you never receive! BEG! BEG LIKE A SIMPERING-

::Sidney motioned for Townson to cut the line.::

....

Riley: I'll take Ops...::Sidney motioned for the Ensign who was seated to stand. She moved as quickly as she could and took the seat. She cried out in pain as her hip protested. She bit down on her lip again, a small drop of blood issuing from the wound, and looked over at Townson.:: You can do this Lieutenant. I have complete faith in you flying this ship.

Kobylarz: Well we could over load the capacitors on the remaining phasor bank it might add a little to the effect.

::The Captain looked down at the console and began shutting down all the non-essential systems that hadn't been cut yet, there weren't many. She cut everything she knew she safely could and then pulling life support down to minimal, she looked over at Townson. Her bright green eyes were wide, confident, but somewhat hesitant. Was she asking too much of the crew? She felt her stomach twist.::

Riley: oO Not now...no second guesses...Oo Ten, nine, eight.....

::Sidney closed her eyes, only opening them when she felt the ship move in a strange way. She looked over at Townson, her eyes wide.::

Riley: We're lose! Move us back from the station, out of tractor range!....Someone either took the beam down or the Vaadwaur shut it off...

.....

::Sidney smiled a small, sad, tired smile.::

Riley: I told you everything would be okay.

((Flashback 238709.18....Moments Later.....))

:: Smiling widely, he stepped over and saluted. Sidney was in no condition to salute back. She looked up at the Lieutenant and pushed herself up as best she could on the console...::

Riley: oO I have to be strong...Oo

::Her bright green eyes held a far away look as the leader of the CAG gave his report. ::

Tan: CAG reporting, sir. We lost Red Three but the crew egressed successfully. Five victories by my count, but there might be more. Th- ... :: he stopped. :: Captain, you're bleeding. Are you okay?

::Sidney let out the breath she'd been holding as she tried to deal with the pain. She blinked and her gaze fell on the rest of the bridge crew before she looked back at him. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion.::

Riley: I am fine Lieutenant. ::Sidney stayed seated at the Ops console, but pushed herself up further in the chair to a more upright position. Her side screamed, and she bit down on her lip again to keep from crying out.::

:: Tan gave a firm nod.::

Tan: A'right, well... permission to accompany you to sickbay, sir?

Riley: There are still things that need to be done here.

::The Terran/Deltan gripped the console. Remaining seated she didn't want to admit she couldn't stand. She looked over at Lieutenant Townson.::

Riley: Lieutenant, I believe I should get to sickbay. ::She took in a sharp breath.:: You have the bridge.

((End Flashback))

::The looming news of war and going back to Bilire IV dregged up all manner of unpleasant and unforgiving memories. Several soft tears strolled down the Terran/Deltan's cheeks.::

((Surgical Suite 2, Main Sickbay, USS Independence-A, 238709.20))

::Light::

::It threatened to break through her consciousness, disrupting the hidden darkness. Enveloped by soft comforting, clean, antiseptic smells the light was inviting, welcoming. The Terran/Deltan opened her eyes and instantly closed them against the offending onslaught of light. She moaned a little as she tried to move, but the lower half of her body didn't want to respond to the commands issued from her brain. Slowly she opened her eyes and took a deep breath of the clean, calming smells.::

::She knew instantly where she was, sickbay had been her home for years, but she wasn't sure exactly how she'd gotten there. The entire ordeal was a fuzzy mess. She shook her head lightly from side to side trying to gain some perspective.::

Faryul: Doc, she's coming around.

Zhou: Thank you, Nishal. If you could give us some privacy?

Faryul: Do you want me to talk to the command staff... ::raises an eyebrow:: or whomever else?

::The Bajoran was obviously hinting at a specific someone else, but the Trill/human let it go.::

Zhou: No, that's all right. I'll inform them myself of her condition when I'm done here.

::Faryul exited the suite, leaving Zhou and Riley. The doctor walked closer to the bed and sat down next to his patient::

Riley: oO Sedated...anesthetized. Oo ::She took in a deep breath and saw a welcoming, smiling face.::

Zhou: Captain.

Riley: Doctor. ::Her voice was weak, much weaker than she'd expected, but she returned his smile.::

Zhou: Do you know where you are?

::The Captain smiled brightly. It was a standard question and she laughed lightly.::

Riley: Sickbay.

Zhou: That's right. You were brought into sickbay several hours ago. Do you remember anything else?

::She could remember flashes, pieces, like a puzzle. One piece was Counselor Avandar, asking if she was okay. Another Alleran Tan, standing with his flight suit in the turbolift his arms around her holding her up. Lieutenant Townson at the helm; she looked nervous. The voice of the one called Marari. The biggest piece however, was the memory of the pain, the pain running up and down her

side. It had been almost as intense as the pain she'd felt at the hands of Parrin's torture, and that was saying a lot.::

::She ran her hand down her side. She couldn't feel anything now.::

Riley: I don't remember everything. The Vaadwaur surrendered...I was on the bridge, the Counselor and... oO The man in the flight suit....Oo After that everything is fuzzy.

::Zhou nodded as the captain recounted the events. While such questions seemed almost akin to small talk, they were actually used to check a patient's mental status, and fortunately, it appeared the captain hadn't suffered any severe neurological damage.::

Zhou: That's all right. You were brought to sickbay by the counselor and one of the pilots. ::Zhou let out another smile.:: Despite your best efforts to sacrifice your health for that of your crew, you were taken to this surgical suite and sedated for an immediate operation. You were hurt pretty badly.

Riley: How bad? ::Sidney's expression took on a serious tone.::

Zhou: You suffered severe trauma, including ruptured blood vessels and several pelvic fractures. Your life-threatening injuries from the vascular damage have been stabilized, and we performed a synthetic bone graft to repair the fractures.

Riley: ::She paused.:: I can't move my lower left side.

((End Flashback))

::Sidney opened her eyes and looked up at the offending light. For several moments she wished she could turn it off and stand in the darkness....::

((Flashback, 238710.03))

::Clack lowered his head as if considering her comments deeply. All the time, his eyes flashed from yellow to red as he stared directly at Sidney.::

Clack: I was thinking earlier, ::rising to his feet:: I am glad that the Independence is old and big. A home cannot be made habitable in a day, and after all, how days go to make up a lifetime. The walls of my home are broken and the shadows are many. The wind breathes cold through its broken and decayed encirclement.

::He reached down and lit a cigar shielding the flame with his left hand. As he did, the light from the flame cast disturbing shadows across his face as if another one lay hidden just underneath the surface. One that was too disturbing to consider.::

Clack: So I ask you why am I here?

::Sidney watched as the smoke from Clack's cigar rose into the air. It danced with a life of its own around the outline of his face. Blinking, she thought about his question. Her first thought was if he was there, he was obviously there to see her. But then why would he have asked her such a question? She felt herself bristle slightly under the man's gaze.::

Riley: I don't know Darius, why are you here?

Clack: ::smiling:: Answer a question with a question..

::She tried to sit up and failed miserably. She collapsed against the pillows again, a deep frown crossing her face, suddenly she felt very tired.::

Riley: I can't think right now...what are you talking about?

Clack: I could hear you from deep within the lower levels of engineering.::break:: The blood nearly froze in my veins for the words that I heard. I don't believe you are really all that well.

Riley: I can't! ::Her voice was raising.:: I can't! Don't you know? It's over Darius. Over! Zhou told me I'd never walk again! ::She looked at the Klingon her green eyes flashing. She was breathing heavily and quickly.::

Clack: Over? What do you mean over? ::looking confused::

Riley: You have no idea what I've been through!

::The light from the room seemed to dim briefly around his body for a few seconds.::

Clack: What you have been through?

::He rose to feet and stood directly over her.::

Clack: What you have been through? ::he repeated:: Are we to feel sorry about the poor circumstances that we now find ourselves?

::The Terran/Deltan frowned.::

Riley: I am not feeling sorry for myself. I am...::Pause.::...facing facts.

Clack: I image that no one could have possessed a happier childhood than yourself. Come now, ::his voice dropped an octave:: didn't you have to fight for your position here? Or did it come natural to you?

::The Terran/Deltan took in a sharp breath, her eyes flashed.::

Riley: Happier childhood? ::She glared at the man.:: You shouldn't talk about things you know nothing about! ::She felt the anger beginning to grow in the pit of her stomach. Shannon had essentially told her the same thing. How dare he assume things about her! She lost everything in her childhood, including her father and her sister. Everything had been taken from her.:: I've fought for

everything I have ever had...I have always taken what I wanted. ::She gripped the sides of the bed. Happier childhood...:: oO Yeah that's why I ran away twice...Oo

Clack: Are you going to lie there like a coward or are you going to meet your challenge head on.

Riley: I am not a coward! ::She felt herself trembling as she tried to slow the tears running down her cheeks. His comment cut straight to her heart.:: This is different...

Clack: Perhaps I should finish the job for you.

::With one hand, Darius raised Sidney up from her lying position. He held her suspended against the wall high off the floor.::

::The motion was so swift she found herself looking down at Darius Clack from where he held her against the wall before she knew what happened. Bright green eyes met his directly. Her eyes held no fear, there was a hint of anger andsomething else, something that was always hidden just beneath the surface when she looked at the Klingon man. Taking a deep breath, she glared at him.::

Clack: What will the others say such as Admiral Mar? ::break:: Captain Sidney Riley was found after coming in second place against the only adversary that she couldn't find the courage to meet head on?

Riley: You put me down Darius Clack! ::She cleared her throat as the tears stopped falling from her eyes. Her gaze was intense.:: And Mar is not an Admiral....

::The comment seemed to confuse Darius. He absorbed it like a boxer would a right hook.::

Clack: I can smell the fear in you. Your eyes and your words conflict.

Riley: I am not afraid! How dare you insult my honor!

Clack: Honor? What is honor? ::break:: Honor without action is meaningless.

::She tried to wiggle out of Darius' grip, but he was much stronger physically than she was. After a moment, she let her body go limp.::

Riley: I've never settled for second place! Not by choice! ::Her eyes went wide and she paused, her voice was angry and passionate.:: You *$&%^*#&^$#, you put me down Commander!

Clack: You always have a choice.

Riley: Who are you to dictate to me?! If you wanted to finish the job you would have done so already! You don't play games. Darius Clack, am I to believe you have changed?

::She looked down into Darius' eyes.::

Clack: Changed? Changed from what?

Riley: And just who are you to question my personal life? Haven't you ever looked into the vast expanse of nothingness and wanted someone, something to share it with? ::She looked towards the far wall with her eyes.:: Perhaps...::She paused and then looked directly at him, her expression one of seriousness.:: I am living a lie.

Clack: When you look into the vast expanse of nothingness, don't you realize that it stares back at you? ::break:: You can't see the forest for the trees.

::Slowly a small knowing smile crossed her face.::

Riley: There is only one I've ever stood in second place for. ::Pause.:: At least I'll be in good company living that lie.

Clack: Lies are like a vortex of perpetual wishes bundled up awaiting to destroy everything around it if you allow it.

Riley: Now, you put me down Darius Clack, that's not a request!

Clack: As you wish.

::Darius gently lowered Sidney down into her previous position.::

Clack: It seems that you search too hard for things.

::She blinked as he set her down and looked up at him with a somewhat confused expression.::

Riley: What do you mean?

Clack: You search too hard to satisfy your personal intimacy. ::he turned to leave:: You can try too hard, you know.

Riley: I do try ::Her green eyes sparkled as she looked at him but held a melancholy sense of apprehension.:: but still there are some lines which are difficult to cross.

Clack: Remember when the Reapers invaded the Tiger?

::Sidney paused for a moment. That seemed like so long ago...so many things had happened since then.::

Riley: Yes.

Clack: I don't know what happened to that Captain Sidney Riley, I hope she returns to us one day.

::Slowly he turned around to face her. Gently, he leaned down and kissed Sidney.::

::A sense of almost surprise and confusion came over her all at once. Darius had never kissed her like that before. She closed her eyes. She felt like she could melt, like she was floating all at the same time. When she opened her eyes, they were full of fire and sparkled in the darkness with a sense of life.::

Clack: Everything is up to you now. ::break:: You are an intelligent woman. You will make the right decision.

((End Flashback))

::Sidney took a deep breath. Darius was right, she couldn't do this...she had a choice. Things had been bad last time, but this time...this time she was stronger. Her hands balled into fists at her side. The doors to the lift swished open without ceremony. Sidney stepped out onto the deck. Her mind drifting further as she walked.::

((Flashback, Twilight's Edge, 238803.28, Ehlanii/Brice Wedding))

:: Sidney turned towards the Vaadwaur woman seated at the table. ::

Riley: Hello, you must be Yin.

:: Yin inclined her head slightly towards the woman. The woman's demeanor reminded her somewhat of herself when she was in duty mode. The inclining of the head sort of like a nod. ::

Yin: I am called Yin, yes. I have been told you are the Captain of the Independence?

Riley: Yes, I am Sidney Riley.

:: Yin nodded again, her arms by her sides. The woman looked so stiff. It reminded Sidney of duty and decorum. She took a small breath and offered an encouraging smile, so far things were going okay...just okay...not bad, not good...just...yeah.::

Yin: You were known to me even before....After the events of what you would call "Operation Bright Star" the Vaadwaur have taken to calling you "Al'alashi", or in your own language, "The Stormbringer". Your losses then were light, as was my understanding, a testament to the courage and skill of your crew. They bought themselves and their Captain great honour.

::For a moment Sidney's face held a surprised expression. Al'alashi, the Stormbringer... Storms, they had been a consistent element of her dreams since Operation Bright Star...thunder, lightening, wind, tornadoes...elements of wonder and strength but if not respected destruction. The Terran/Deltan looked down at the table for a moment, when she looked back up her face held a serious expression, equal to Yin's in it's steel and determination. The way the woman spoke to her surprised the Fleet Captain, there had been losses on both sides, and still this woman seemed to regard her with a certain amount of respect even though, their ideals and convictions had not been the same. Sidney nodded lightly.::

Riley: I am honored by your words Yin, as is my crew.

((End Flashback))

::"The Stormbringer".....Sidney knew she had a reputation in battle. A formidable one... Hopefully this would not descend into a full scale war, especially not against the Klingons. They were an honorable race, a full proud culture. They were strong allies....::

::Her brisk pace stopped as she rounded the corner towards her quarters. She turned abruptly and headed towards engineering at a leisurly pace. There was someone she wanted to visit.::

TBC....

Fleet Captain Sidney Riley

Commanding Officer

USS Tiger-A

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