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Delano and Ross - Crossing the Line

Rahman and Rivi Vataix

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JP by Evan Delano and Harrison Ross (simmed by Quinn Reynolds)

(( Station Brig, Astrofori One ))

::When Delano entered the station's brig, Ross had completed his rendition of 'Trial by Jury' and moved on to 'H.M.S. Pinafore'. His sonorous voice was now belting out 'I am the Captain of the Pinafore' at an impressive volume, and the song even reached as far as the control room where Reynolds, watching the monitors.

::His arrival prompted Reynolds to turn, her vaguely hopeful expression crumbling into mild disappointment on seeing him, before swiftly returning a squinting neutrality.::

Reynolds: Commander. What are you doing here?

Delano: Commander Rahman asked me to take charge of the interrogation.

::She looked at him for a long moment, lips thinning, and then she nodded.::

Reynolds: I'll stay out here, if you don't mind. I'm a distraction, if nothing else.

::The best way to lie was with the element of truth, after all.::

:: Evan pressed his lips together to keep his expression still. He could feel the weight of Ross' attention, and he didn’t want to give the man any emotional ammunition he might be able to use against Evan. ::

Delano: That may be for the best. ::break:: What have you learned?

Reynolds: We think we might have figured out how they intended to get off the station -- a ship called the Parkhaven. Commander Brunsig from Strategic Ops is chasing down that lead with Glin Zorkal now.

Delano: Brunsig… I don’t believe we’ve met, but if you’ve got someone on it…

::There was a twitch, the corner of her eyes narrowing for a split second, and then it was gone.::

Reynolds: He's a good man, and good at his job.

Delano: All right. I’ll take it from here.

::She nodded, and although it was tightly reined in, there was a small expression of unhappiness on her face.::

Reynolds: Good luck, Commander. Don't let him rattle you.

:: Evan took a moment to collect his thoughts, then left the control room and approached the cells. Upon seeing him, Ross finally stopped singing and broke out into a warm, broad smile.::

Ross: Ah, Lieutenant *Commander* Delano. Congratulations on the promotion. So nice to see old friends going up in the world.

Delano: Mr. Ross.

:: Evan said in a neutral tone as he gave the nod to the Cardassian guard to lower the forcefield. Evan stepped inside a moment later, hands clasped behind his back. ::

Delano: Considering what you do to your friends, I’d appreciate you not feigning some kind of prior relationship. We barely knew each other.

::Ross placed a hand over his heart, the smile still playing at the corners of his mouth.::

Ross: You wound me. But if we're not friends, you may call me Commander, or Sir. After all, due process. I may be under arrest, but I still hold my rank until a court martial strips it of me.

Delano: Well, that’s why I’m here, isn’t it. There’s no history between us for you to exploit.

Ross: No? But let me guess. You've come to succeed where our Cardassian friend has failed?

Delano: Something like that.

Ross: Alright then, fire away. And remember, it's *Commander* Ross.

:: A small smile tugged at the corner of Evan’s mouth, breaking his otherwise stoic mask. ::

Delano: Should I have a uniform brought down here?

Ross: Not a bad idea. Quinn would certainly appreciate it. ::He paused to direct a cheery wave at the monitoring device in the corridor.:: I do look very dashing in one. Perhaps not dress whites, though. Don't you find they chafe?

Delano: Oh, no, the last thing we’d want is for you to be uncomfortable. Though… come to think of it, it’s a little cold in here.

:: Evan walked towards the environmental controls and entered his security access codes to override the normal restrictions. He had no intention of torturing Ross, but he needed to take away the former first officer’s sense of control, one way or another. Making the man sweat might not get him any answers, but it would at least give Evan a small bit of satisfaction. ::

Delano: *Commander* Ross, have you ever been to Vulcan? It gets rather hot in the deserts.

::Ross grinned at him, apparently delighted.::

Ross: Why, Delano. I do believe you have a vicious streak.

Delano: Vicious? I’d call it pragmatic. I’ll let Egan Manno decide which, if it comes to that.

:: Astrofori’s environmental systems were more than efficient. The hot, dry air blowing into the room was quickly raising the room’s temperature. Evan unzipped his jacket and slowly removed it, though he was careful to never take his eyes off Ross. ::

Delano: That’s better. It’s summer back home, you know. Garuda’s kept at a constant 20 degrees; it gets a little… boring.

:: Evan stepped closer to Ross, hands once again folded in the small of his back. ::

Delano: I don’t suppose you’d just tell me what I want to know?

::Ross grinned at Delano as he asked the question, and breathed a brief chuckle before he answered.::

Ross: That depends. Do you want to know the secret to making the perfect martini? That, I would feel honour-bound to share.

Delano: Tempting. But I was thinking we could talk more about why you came here. Your plans for the president’s speech, for example.

Ross: Ah. I'm afraid not, then.

:: Evan shrugged, then crossed his arms over his chest. ::

Delano: Even if I throw in one of those martinis? You always struck me as an extra dry kind of guy.

:: The hum of the ventilation system dulled back to it’s previous level as the temperature stabilized at just over 45 degrees. Small beads of sweat began to manifest on Evan’s forehead. Full-blooded Vulcans had no sweat glands, but Evan had been spared that particular oddity of his father’s DNA.

::Ross was not immune to the heat either, and he pulled off the heavy jacket he was wearing, dropping it on the bunk. His pale skin was flushing pink, sweat visibly [...]ling across his skin.::

Ross: That depends on how *you* make them.

Delano: Gin. Vermouth. An olive and a splash of juice. Clear liquors need a little help in the flavor department.

Ross: Alas. Each to his own. I'll pass.

:: Evan sighed. ::

Delano: I need to know if you or whoever you work for is planning something at the president’s address.

Ross: ::Mildly,:: I'm sure you do.

Delano: Who *are* you working for?

Ross: You know, I *have* been to Vulcan. Charming place. Lovely statues.

Delano: Have you? Was that before or after Pleethion?

Ross: Oh, a long time ago. Part of my SERE training. His SERE training? ::He waved a hand to brush off the comment.:: Whichever. You know what I mean.

:: Arms still crossed, Evan gave a curt nod, then paced back to the bulkhead. ::

Delano: I do. I suppose it’s fitting for you to keep them separate. Everything I know about the real Harrison Ross says he would be disgusted by you.

Ross: Oh, he is. I can assure you of that.

Delano: Are you admitting he’s the original, then?

Ross: ::He grinned.:: I don't recall ever denying it.

:: Evan raised an eyebrow - a largely Vulcan habit he’d picked up in recent months. Too much time with Saveron, perhaps - or Evan’s father. ::

Delano: Intriguing. The original personality is still intact?

::A look of faint irritation crossed Ross' face, and he wiped away the sweat on his brow with the back of his hand.::

Ross: No point in denying that after this afternoon, is there?

Delano: You mean what happened with Captain Reynolds?

:: Evan had very few details about the incident that had led to Ross’s capture, but Ross didn’t need to know that. Unless he already did, given that he simply grunted in response. ::

:: He took a deep breath, then refocused on the task at hand. Determining the nature of Ross’s defection was a worthy goal, but not what was most important just now. The problem was that Ross had been trained to resist this kind of questioning, and Evan wasn’t willing to resort to the kind of tactics that would be required to test the limits of that training. Worse, Ross knew it. He was already captured. No real chance of escape. What reason would he have to cooperated? Especially if this altered version of him understood that it would - sooner or later - resort in the return of Ross’s original personality. This altered version might even view such an end as something worse than death. Evan needed some kind of leverage. ::

Pren: =/\= Garuda to Delano =/\=

:: Evan’s concentration broke as the voice of one of Mei’konda’s operations officers came over the comm. He walked back to where he’d left his jacket, careful not to take his eyes off Ross as he bent to answer the call. He squeezed his badge between thumb and forefinger, and the familiar chirp signaled a connection. ::

Delano: =/\= Go ahead. =/\=

Pren: =/\= Sir, I don’t know how to say this but… =/\=

:: Evan’s stern expression decayed into a frown, while Ross watched him intently. ::

Delano: =/\= What’s wrong, Ensign?

Pren: =/\= ::After a delay,:: I’m sorry, Sir.. It’s Commander Mei’konda. You-you’re listed as his next of kin, and we didn’t know if we should wait. =/\=

:: Evan’s heart dropped into his stomach as he realized what the younger officer was implying. A wave of conflicting emotions washed over him as unbidden image of a dead or dying Mei’konda entered his mind. His emotional control - always tenuous - buckled, as his voice shook in its reply. ::

Delano: =/\= What happened? =/\=

Pren: =/\= No details, yet, Sir. He’s been admitted into Astrofori One’s emergency department. We were told to contact you. =/\=

:: Evan nodded, mild relief ebbing at the flurry of emotions threatening to wash him away. He was alive then. After a moment, he realized he needed to say something. ::

Delano: =/\= Understood…=/\=

Pren: =/\= Sir, I… they said you should get down there right away. =/\=

:: Evan swallowed hard, sparing a brief glance for Ross as tears welled up in his eyes. ::

Delano: =/\= Fine. Delano out. =/\=

:: He let the jacket fall back to the floor as he stood back to his full height. One tear, then a second left damp trails down pale cheeks. The expression he wore was not one of grief, however. ::

Ross: Oh dear. That does sound unfortunate.

:: Evan took a slow step towards Ross, as if he were uncertain of which direction he wanted to walk. ::

Delano: You… you had something to with this.

:: It wasn’t asked as a question, but Ross answered it anyway, with a shrug and an amused smile. ::

Ross: I have been known to do terrible things. Ask Quinn.

:: Evan took another step towards his former first officer, visible rage now rippling through the muscles of his clenched jaw. The fingers of his right hand were clenched into a tight fist. Ross' amusement did not waver, even as dark stains of sweat caused by the oppressive heat began to seep through his clothing.::

Delano: ::Coldly,:: What did you do?

Ross: Oh, Evan. What possible advantage is there to telling you that?

:: Evan considered that for a long moment before he gave the obvious answer. ::

Delano: None.

:: The Cardassian guard on the other side of the forcefield could tell something was wrong, but he hadn’t taken any action to interfere. Evan gave him a warning look, then turned back to Ross. There was a way to get everything he needed. A way to find out exactly what he’d done to Mei’konda and why. A way to punish him for it. And everything else the man had done. ::

:: As he crossed the remaining distance between himself and Ross, a part of Evan's mind screamed for him to stop and think. In that moment, he couldn’t have said for sure whether that scream was real or imagined. Nevertheless, the decision was made, and the rage and grief and frustration that had overwhelmed him intended to see it through. ::

:: Evan had only been in a mind meld three times in his life, but he had studied the process extensively as a child, and again, more recently, as he considered learning to use his Vulcan abilities. Performing a meld without injuring both participants required incredible discipline and control. However, that didn’t mean a meld under other circumstances was impossible. And at that moment, Evan didn’t care whether he or Ross would survive. ::

:: In one swift motion, he took Ross to the ground. The man was undeniably skilled -- and surprisingly strong -- but after a short and vicious struggle that left them both bloodied and bruised, Evan had him pinned. ::

Ross: ::Snarling,:: Don't you dare--

:: Evan gripped Ross’s face in both hands, fingers sliding into place against the key nerves that would allow Evan access to the other’s mind. In a traditional meld, Evan would have been careful and deliberate, a thin tendril brushing against the surface of the man’s mind. Here, Evan threw everything he was at the man: raw anger and frustration compounded by a sense of desperate need. One way or another, this would end here. ::


Lieutenant Commander Evan Delano

Chief of Security/Tactical

USS Garuda


Harrison Ross

Captive Ne'er Do Well

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