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Ambassador Lukin Zorkal - "Final Farewell"(NT)

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@Alora DeVeau You cruel fantastic mistress have a way with emotion. This was a beautiful read. ❤️ 

((Starbase 118 Ops - Hospital - Private Room))

There was no outward sign in his change of status, though the word had come two days prior.  For a Cardassian, the uniform never changed. Officially, however, his status had.  No longer was he simply a Dalin. It was Ambassador Lukin Zorkal now.  With that change had come orders,and Lukin wasted no time in fulfilling them.  There had been three Cardassians pulled from the wreckage of the USS Nimitz.  All three had been brought to the hospital.  The third name had been a shock.  It wasthe last one he visited.

Stepping into the room, the lights had been dimmed, much like the rooms where he had visited the other two of his ‘rescued’ people. There was enough to see so the nurses and doctors could do what they felt they needed to do, but it was not quite so harsh on the eyes, particularly Cardassian eyes.  Upon the bed, a figure lay prone, wires connected in various places, the soft hush of noise from the machinery inset in the wall behind the bed.  For a moment, Lukin hovered just inside the door, hands clenching and unclenching, his jaw joining in the tense choreography.  Finally, he stepped forward, slowly. One foot.  Then another.  And another.  The trek from door to bed seemed like an eon to traverse, but he came to the side and gazed down upon the figure. 

She had changed.  Though he had expected that, to be face to face with such stark alterations set his gut aflame, and once more his jaw clenched, teeth grinding against one another.  Her hair, once long and luxurious, a vanity that she had cared for with painstaking attention was gone.  Her skin, once a normal, warm grey had dulled into a sickly hue.  An eye had been removed along with her left arm and her right leg.  She was half gone, gutted inside and out.

Zorkal: Teje.

From his lips, her name passed half whispered, a bare tremor hardly noticeable, an undercurrent to his tone.  The one eye that remained snapped open.  Distant and dim, it stared upward at the ceiling, then shifted slowly to focus upon the man that hovered over her. There was a blink.  One.  Two. Three.  Her mouth parted, the voice that pushed through a shadow of its former self.  The pleasant, melodic resonance had been replaced with a crackling pulse that stuttered haltingly from her lips.

Teje: Lu - kin.

He clasped her hand within his much larger one, and felt her fingers curl around his own, weak, yet with a sense of desperation in her touch.  As her sight cleared, it shimmered even in the low luminescence.  Her chest rose and fell, and she gasped in an attempt to say more, but he shushed her gently, freeing her from any responsibility to converse. .  His free hand reached up, drawing along the ridge of her remaining eye, then traced a trail over the smooth head that had once been enshrouded with ebony tresses, now devoid of its veil.

Zorkal: It is good to see you.

There was no lie in his words, no attempt to be coy or diplomatic. The simple statement was blunt, sincere.  What he regretted was not that he could see her, but that she was in such a state.  On Cardassia, she would have never been allowed to linger in that way, a husk of a person, tortured by her continued existence.

Her mouth worked open and closed, and finally flitted into a semblance of a smile.  Nodding slightly, she managed to crackle out more words,every one punctuated with a painful breath.

Teje: I’ve...missed...you.

Zorkal: And I, you.

More than the woman could fathom.  He had long ago let her go, long ago given up on ever seeing her again.  With the appearance of the Nimitz, he had one last opportunity.  He had a chance to say farewell.

Zorkal: You have a choice.

But Lukin knew what she would choose.  Very few, if any, Cardassians would ever make a different one.  Relief flooded over the scarred and maimed face and her grip on him tightened with a sudden strength, welling up from a semblance of hope that she now had in her grasp.

Zorkal: I will leave it with you.  To make your decision.

Teje: You...know...my….choice.

Despite the energy that had coursed through her briefly at his revelation, every syllable wracked with effort, puffed with feverish agony.  What suffering she endured was not simply physical in nature, and here he offered relief from it.  Eternal respite.

Zorkal: Then I leave you to that choice.

He’d lost her so long ago, and yet he found his grip unwavering. Suddenly, he didn’t want to release her, didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to lose her once again now that she had been found. Except Teje was no longer Teje.  She was a ghost, a wraith, and a shell of what she once was. Her soul was trapped in a mortal coil that had faded into an abomination, one that she could not and would not withstand.  She would release her essence from the cage in which it was trapped, whether it was now or later only determined by what opportunities were presented for her.  To force her to linger when she simply wanted to be free of her prison was cruel.  Lukin would not allow her or any of his people to suffer any longer.  He had to let her go.

His hand slipped from hers, and her fingers furled around the tiny object that he had passed on. For one last moment he lingered, leaning forward to place a gentle kiss upon the gnarled forehead, his breath one last caress before he finally and completely pulled away.  With one last, long look, one last whisper of a smile, one last fond gaze, Lukin
turned.  As he strode to the door, the panels parted, leaving the woman behind with one last token, one last thing he could do for her.

Five minutes after his departure, the alarm in Teje’s room sounded, alerting the medical personnel of her dire condition.  Yet, despite their efforts, no matter how hard they attempted to hold on to her, those attempts were fruitless.  They had failed.

But Teje was free.

Dalin Lukin Zorkal
Cardassian Ambassador
Starbase 118 Ops

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