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Major Dade Adarnis - Living, Breathing [...]


Toni
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(( I'Vortau Bar, Lokesh City ))

::Propping the bar up, the hybrid knocked back a dram of Skagaran whiskey and sucked it from his teeth. It was hard stuff. He remembered last having it on Chertan Prime, a relatively unknown planet where drinking was as traditional as having breakfast. A mining colony lived on liquor and it had been a good money maker for the Ferengi conducting the smugglers run. The bartender slinked over, pouring another into the Marine’s glass and leaving the bottle beside it.::

::Half of the hybrid couldn’t believe the Kerelian was now back on the planet, let alone still breathing at all. There was a whole host of other problems that this was going to drag up, not least of which the very real memory Dade had of blasting said Major’s body out into the ether of space. It would take a lot of red taped bureaucracy to convince him that Toni’s ex-husband was a living, breathing, blood-flowing member of the meat bag club again.::

::Knocking back the next dram, he remembered the last time they’d met one another alive.::

(( Flashback – Chertan Prime, Beta Quadrant ))

::He balled his fist, pointing at the Kerelian mess in front of him. He fumed. No, that wasn’t the right word. He was on fire. After everything, all the second chances, saved by the skin of his teeth countless times, dragged back from the edge of the abyss here he was, messing it up again.::

Adarnis: You don’t get to be the White Knight, riding in on your fracking horse to save the day again. You gave up that right the last time you left.

West: Don’t be so quick to be sanctimonious, Dade. ::he spoke slowly:: Calm down before you do something you regret.

::The point was made. He was seething. His muscles flared with adrenaline. The green jacket attached to the Kerelian was wrapped around his hand in a second. His fist clenched and he couldn’t stop it from slamming into Heath’s face. Blood spurted as his lip split. Dade didn’t care. Heath wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He didn’t retaliate.::

Adarnis: How many more excuses are you gonna give before you give it up, huh?

::His fist landed in his friend’s face again, causing his knuckles to crack as it found bone.::

Adarnis: She was your goddamn wife, you stupid… ::he drew out the word:: …stupid son of a bitch!

::He grabbed Heath by the front of the Marine uniform and drove his forehead home into the Kerelian’s nose. Claret and crimson gushed. Heath staggered back, dazed, while Dade steadied himself. Anger was boiling in his stomach, acid rising. Inside his chest his heart was pounding, his hands were trembling, everything was collapsing.::

Adarnis: You abandoned her, when she needed you the most! When all she wanted was you, you thoughtless bastard… She trusted you! She gave you EVERYTHING… She… She can’t…

::He stopped, stammering out the last few words. In the depths of his heart, he knew it was all aimed at him; the King of his own catastrophe. Every last bitter word of it was another nail in the thumping coffin inside his ribcage. He stumbled on his feet, comprehension striking home, his jaw tightening until stabs of hot tears started at the corners of his eyes, but he refused to let them spill over. This wasn’t right.::

::Heath stood, panting, blood and bruised, watching the pain on his friend’s face with the understanding and the sympathy only a close companion could have. The suffering he’d kept bottled up for so long bubbled to the surface. Walls of that ivory tower were being torn down as the hybrid’s core melted into disarray and he finally accepted what had been feasting on him from the inside out.::

West: You let these… ::he searched for the word:: …Admiral cowards control your life. Do you think they care who they send out there? ::he spat a wad of red on the ground:: They push and threaten and chip away at you until there’s nothing left, then they’ll pick the next one out of the Academy, promise him the world and take it all away.

::The Kerelian touched the short hair of the hybrid’s head, then his shoulder. Words would not come easy between them in that moment and there was no reason to force them. Frayed and sore, Heath slid himself onto the ground beside his friend, an unspoken bond of everlasting brotherhood between them, relaying the words neither of them could say.::

::Heath looked to the ground, wincing as he touched his throbbing nose, smelling only copper. It hurt, though there was no trace of hatred or malice on his face; only understanding. After a few moments of silence had passed between them, he spoke.::

West: Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever walk away. ::he sniffed hard:: You know, settle down, get a proper life away from all this.

::Toni and his children flashed through his mind. They were always there; the reason behind every action he made. He could see his princess, looking up at him with sad eyes, knowing that his promises were hollow. He wondered how smart she was getting. He’d messed it up, burned it all to the ground and one day Garth would despise him as much as he did his own father.::

::And Toni… His heart constricted. How can one life contain so many mistakes? So many regrets? Would Toni ever know how much he loved her? He dreamt in her voice, anchored himself to the memory of her heart beating. No one had ever looked at him the way she had; as though she stripped back every layer he’d ever erected.::

::Dade squinted up at the sun, resting his wrists on his raised knees.::

Adarnis: This is the only life I know.

::He’d been so angry at Heath for taking up his Marine regs again and furious when he let them take him back out to the front lines of the Delta Quadrant. The fights they’d had when Heath tried to go home… He shook his head, remembering punching him in the mouth a few times for Toni and the kids. He felt like his guts had been ripped out when Toni had got to him first on Tiberius IV. She wasn’t supposed to. He was supposed to lift him out before she found him.::

::None of this was supposed to happen. Heath should be dead. Dade looked at his friend’s painful smile. It still looked broken. Heath chuckled, sniffing up copper and wet again, trying to clear his nostrils to breathe. It wasn’t the only thing he knew, but it was the only life he had.::

Adarnis: Disagree? ::he shrugged:: Feel free. You’ll find a bloody army in there who feel the same.

::Silence lay between them again. In all the bedlam they’d suffered through together, finding moments to realign themselves in the uncertain world they lived in was rare. Dade spoke first.::

Adarnis: I keep telling myself that it’s one more drop. One more. Then the next one, it’s one more. I don’t know how many I’ve got left in me. ::he exhaled deeply:: There’s a plasma grenade somewhere with my name on it.

West: Always makes me nervous when you say that.

::It was true, though. Maybe that was why it hit home.::

::The hybrid shrugged.:: Adarnis: Knowing my luck, it would probably miss anyway.

::A Kerelian eyebrow raised amused.:: West: What makes you so sure?

Adarnis: ‘Cause I’m a cocky pri-

::Heath cut him short.:: West: That’s a nice façade you’ve got there. Cultivate it all by yourself?

::The sun was already setting on the horizon. Heath looked out over the bay, trying to remember when they had spent time together like this, without laying into each other. It was good to feel normal, even if it wouldn’t last. In another life, they were two friends, relaxing in the warm sun, after a barbecue on the beach with their family and friends, talking about the Kino-Net game.::

Adarnis: It’s not what it was before. I’ve fought hard to give this galaxy a bit of peace… And ground my boots in while Rome burned.

::He’d walked through the scene in his mind a million times. He would’ve stayed, told her everything, and took on the world, defying it to tear them apart. In those moments, he had trouble believing that he was the mess she had chosen to be so defenceless with, when a hurricane met an earthquake, had opened her heart to and watched him burn it all to ashes.::

::Forgetting wasn’t possible. Every time her hands had touched him, lips had kissed him, pushed him, scratched him, baited him, loved him, screamed at him, created that addictive connective spark that had buried itself in his memory, reminding him why he fought so hard to keep her safe. If he could have turned back the years, the anguish and the heartache, the pain and the fear, he would’ve never let her go. The galaxy could’ve exploded all around them, but he wouldn’t give a toss.::

::Looking at his friend, Heath wondered why they’d clung to one another in the storm. He looked lost, in his own world, behind locked doors that he didn’t let anyone see. The ivory tower had been rebuilt. There had been a change in him. Ever the self-assured jarhead, he was hurt, fragmented. The Kerelian spoke, rousing Dade from his reverie.::

West: I don’t think I’ve ever seen you give up before.

::Now, she was too far away, in every sense. He looked up to the sun, closed his eyes and smiled slightly.::

Adarnis: Would be nice though, wouldn’t it? Find somewhere away from all this dren.

(( Present - I'Vortau Bar, Lokesh City ))

::He took hold of the bottle and poured another shot into the glass, knocking it back with delicate ease until it burned his gullet on the way down. He wanted to erase those memories; those fake memories, the visions of how his life was going to be, buried underneath piles of ash and bone, another forgotten Marine with a name plaque on the Memorial Wall back at Starfleet HQ.::

::That couldn’t happen. It wouldn’t happen. He’d fought too hard and too long for his corner of the galaxy to be free and peaceful. No, in the morning he would run and fight and jump and crawl, and train the next line of defence against an ever modulating enemy that would not stop until it had enslaved every section of humanoid it could get its nanite hands on.::

::A shoulder crashed into his from behind, a laugh and his whiskey spilled onto the bar, the bottle sent shattering onto the floor. The hybrid rounded, violet eyes flashing angrily.::

Adarnis: Can you not frelling see –

::He couldn’t finish the question as a fist connected with the side of his face with delicate precision that could only have come from a well-trained Starfleet Officer. It sent him backward into the bar, but without hesitation he pushed himself back off and landed a punch of his own in a very large nose. The bar erupted. The hybrid was almost laughing in the ensuing chaos.::

TBC

Major Dade Adarnis

Marine Officer

USS Thunder-A

Embassy, Duronis II

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