+ Hutch Posted October 31, 2022 Share Posted October 31, 2022 A phenomenal, and emotional, plot twist; ((Caves in the Forests, Rogue World)) Taking the device out of the tree, one of the Seconds held it aloft, shaking the sample it had extracted around in the vial. Incandescent fluid moved, shone brightly, and without a second thought, the soldier replaced the cartridge on their ketracel unit with the vial. Bear watched, blue eyes growing wider, as the same fluid from the tree coursed through the intricate intravenous system. Kelley: They thought the beacons were still operational when someone came years ago and tried to, ::her voice quietened again as a Jem'Hadar stalked forward, walking right between her and Lena,:: dig them up. Alieth: It was around the time your father disappeared—::her eyes drifted to the diamond dust that still adorned the young woman's hands::—for the first time? An answer didn't come from the young woman, who only looked down at her hands as if they held the answer to it all, dusted as they were in the blue diamond scrapings. Bear felt the frown pull at his features; the forceful tug of muscles sensing a change in the wind without a breeze to accompany it. Gut feelings churn in the middle. Alieth: I suggest that the tree took in Kelley's father not just because it needed him, but because it was wounded to such a depth that it needed him, not just to survive, but to defend itself. It was not just a node in the system, but a defence mechanism of the system. ::She tilted her head over her shoulder, her eyes drifting towards the Jem’Hadar.:: What I wonder is why it has attacked us now and why it is showing us this? Bear glanced across to Lena as a frown accompanied her bronze eyes, the vacant hollow in the centre of the tree occupying their gaze. Josett: I’d bet my last bottle of rum that the missing Vorta was in there when they were harvesting. Stopping it from fighting back. Fortune: It would be fascinating if it wasn’t so…disturbing. Alieth: Is that... a Changeling? The disbelief colouring her voice struck like a torpedo against a shield wall, the red alert flashing mere seconds after. Slanted eyebrows climbed on her features, and Bear followed her eyes to the formless species striding to the forefront of the Jem'Hadar, those features melding and moulding until they became recognisable. A trusted voice in the unfamiliar terriority. Someone who had asked them to trust her and not cared whether or not they did. Had asked them to follow her, into the unknown. All eyes swung toward their young guide and companion, standing behind Lena, Bear's stomach painfully twisting in fear that the move had now been anything other than out of fear. Lena shoved Kelley aside and the young woman shied away from the inevitable blow she expected. Though it didn't come. Josett: What the f— Fortune:…::she slowly looked over at Ark’Va with wide eyes, letting out a sharp breath.:: You were with them. It wasn't a question; they were far too far gone for that now. In the hallowed halls of the tree, they knew exactly what they were dealing with. Remnants of a generation before. Old enemies given a fresh new look. Solidifying the notion that they were never gone, only from sight. Alieth: You misled us Meanwhile, Lena's entire body jolted, her hand flying towards her phaser, her body taut and stance embedded in well-founded suspicion. Josett: I can appreciate a good con. What was the point? No immediate response came from the young woman, who merely stood back as she watched the events unfold as if both memory and vision had taken her back in time. In the flurry of a moment, the scene continued in front of them, this time of the young woman in the form they knew her, grabbing the sides of a Second's neck and twisting it with a crunch, contorting at the perfect deadly angle. The soldier crumpled to the floor and the rest of the carnage began. Each Jem'Hadar slain one after the other in merciless succession until there she stood, alone and breathing hard, surrounded by the bodies of the party she had entered with. Josett: You... stopped them? Fortune: She got stuck here, too. ::she looked at Kelley, biting her lip.:: You got stuck here, in the middle of a war, didn’t you? Alieth: But you wanted to protect this place, above even your own people, and to live amongst those who were your enemies. You love this world. The statement was a question, a matter of fact still not completely understood by the intelligent Vulcan. As the reality of her situation drew like a knife over her throat, Kelley stood tall, her shoulders back, her spine straightened, but only by as much as her current form would allow her to. She retained the visage of the young Kelley and retained some of the inherent characteristics that made her who she was. Kelley: It has come to mean a great deal to me, over the years we've been here. They didn't listen to me when I said the sap would not be a suitable replacement for their ketracel. ::She looked at the bodies on the floor, as the apparition did. Not with the cold eyes of a Changeling, but with eyes brimming in emotion.:: This was the kindest end for them. Josett: Response Behind them, the apparition of memory slowed and faded in time, as the Changeling knelt by the trunk of the tree in the same manner Alieth had. Her head raised as she looked up into the branches and boughs, before the scene disappeared altogether, leaving a scattering of diamond dust on the floor and the vacant trunk. Fortune: If…you knew this tree was here, you had to know what it wanted, right? What you were leading us towards? Alieth: For their father. Or the one who was the father of the real Ark'Va if she ever existed. :: Alieth's gaze wandered over the dust that had been the man and her heart shrank a little:: Was he really a Starfleet officer or was he just another one like you? Kelley: Verne was a kind man, a gentle man, and that was how he would want to be remembered. ::She looked to Bear and then to the dust scattered, before continuing with solemnity clouding her voice.:: Starfleet is a calling for some but when he arrived here, he devoted his life to trying to find a way to get them home. I… took another form to remain among the people in the village. In time, we had a daughter together. O. Marshall: Ark'va. The single word was enough to lift the woman's gaze from the diamond scattering of Verne from the floor and she took in a small breath through her nose as if the fraught pace from the beginning of their arrival had jolted her out of memory and into fight or flight. Heartbreak he recognised, and in that expression on her features, heartbreak was remembered. Kelley: Complications of her hybrid biology became too much for her body to handle, and Verne, ::she swallowed and moved toward the tree, touching the inner trunk where he had been,:: I told him of this place, and gave himself to the tree. He had this vain hope to get back to a Federation world, close enough to get her the help she needed. It was, ::she smiled sadly and dropped her hand,:: too late. He never stopped searching. Josett: Response A scene unfolded in front of them, the memories of the tree mingling with that of the Changeling, discovering the body of Verne twinned in the trunk and the Changeling there at his feet. Around them, the bones of the Jem'Hadar glowed in the dark, the long-term effects of ketracel mingling with the bioluminescent sap, lending an eerie illumination. Alieth: Our objective remains the same: this planet is on a collision course with our home. We will do whatever is necessary to save it. :: She looked at her teammates before focusing again in Kelley:: Even assist you if it is necessary. As the small Vulcan spoke, the tree groaned gently, a sorrowful cry of a wounded and dying living creature. Kelley, as they knew her, bowed her head as her palm touched the bark of the tree once more. The cries abated into a gentle thrum, the illuminated lights and energy of the sap running through the tree sparkling with her touch, as if her partner recognised her and was still in there, drawing her home. O. Marshall: So many lives are at stake here, not just here on the planet, but the whole Tyrellian system. It won't survive the cataclysm that will come, ::he looked around at the bodies underfoot, buried in the grasses and roots over time, and gestured to them,:: this planet has seen enough suffering. Josett/Fortune: Response Alieth: Just something. The colony, those who came here and those who were born here. They should have the opportunity to return to their former homes if they wish to do so. Kelley: I'm afraid that will be your responsibility, Lieutenant. Not mine. I wish them a good life and, as you would say, prosperity. Josett/Fortune: Response Stepping up toward the tree, Kelley let her form change once more from the young features of the hybrid girl to the middle-aged features of a Klingon woman. The tired Starfleet jacket remained, however, underneath a thick braid of dark hair. Features Ark'va had partially adapted as her own, between those of her mother and those of her father. She stepped into the trunk, into the vacant space Verne had left, and paused momentarily. Kelley: Verne fought against the tree, against the planet, to bring it to a Federation world, to get the help he needed. With your memories, ::she glanced briefly to Alieth, then back to the tree,:: I shall be able to move us onward again. Somewhere else. Somewhere safer. Josett/Fortune/Alieth: Response The trunk began to wind around her, each movement of the bark fusing into her skin and pulsing with the same momentum of energy as the sap had through the boughs. Groans of pain ceased as a gentle hum overtook it, welcoming home the Changeling with a gentle enfolding into the being of the tree, rather than the harsh rejection Alieth had experienced. Bear took a step back as a large root lifted from the ground, pulling itself free from the earth with a resounding noise and generous rumble through the rocks under their feet. It began to snake around the middle of the tree, sealing the Changeling inside inch by inch as it moved. Kelley: You need to go. I will do what I can to hold the planet back and reverse what has already been done. Josett/Fortune/Alieth: Response – Lt. Commander Orson Marshall Intelligence Officer USS Gorkon G239304JM0 3 Quote Link to comment
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