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Aristren/Barlowe - Whispers of Solace

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((OOC: Remember Barlowe? If not, here you go: https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-ops/c/71AO6MJkT-4/m/guejBiH3BAAJ Big thank you to Solaris McLaren for being willing to write Barlowe! ))


((Almost forgotten detainment cells, Miranda VII))


It was dangerous, and if she were to ask Alasafor, he would likely call her endeavour unnecessarily risky. But even if the opportunity had been there, Nestira wouldn’t have asked him - as a matter of fact, she had kept her decision hidden once she had made it, and she was fully aware that she would have to deal with the consequences herself. 


But how could she not investigate? 


The Rodulan had learned that Terra Prime had been able to catch someone they believed to be Starfleet. That not only made them a colleague, but likely an integral part of the network that relayed the gathered intel on Terra Prime to Starbase 118. If this network was compromised, Nestira would have to know. There was no use in providing reports that never made it to their destination, and it would explain why Taybrim hadn’t taken action when an escalation of the situation was so… imminent. 


As she approached the cell, Nestira wondered why no guards stood ready. Not even the door was locked. Quietly, she stepped into the small room…


Pain. That was the word that currently described Richard Barlowe's world. Mostly in his head, but the rest of his body wasn't without it either. He wasn't sure where it had all gone wrong. After he had met with their undercover, he himself had gone ahead to Miranda VII to set up a system for getting their reports back to 118, and it had worked for a bit, but on his way to retrieve a report, Terra Prime had descended upon him and whisked him off to a dank cell in some undisclosed part of the station. It was there that the longest couple of weeks of his life had begun. Of course he told them nothing, which had resulted in beatings, and eventually some more serious mutilations. Even though his head was bandaged and he couldn't see through them he was short at least one eye, and possibly both of them. That in addition to the bruised ribs and what he was sure was a broken arm.


However just because he couldn't see, that didnt mean he couldn't hear. So when the door to his cell opened his head turned to face it. Someone had come to see him.



Barlowe: Come back for some more have you? I've already told you I don't know anything.


Before Nestira responded, she allowed herself a moment to look at what was left of the man in front of her. To briefly and rationally assess the injuries he had sustained. To make a first decision on what the best course of action was.  


Aristren: So you have said. 


That voice. He recognized it, and he knew it shouldn't have been anywhere near him.


Barlowe: Oh someone else come to try and get information that doesn't exist? oO What are you doing here? Oo


It took her a moment to connect the voice to a face and to a name - Richard Barlowe, one of the two Intel officers who had recruited her for this mission. Or rather, the man who had been sent to communicate orders that had come from someone else, perhaps the recently returned McLaren. 


Nestira hadn’t known that he was her contact while on Miranda VII - she had been kept in the dark as much as possible for the protection of the established network, but evidently it hadn’t served Barlowe well. 


Aristren: This is… going to be unpleasant. 


Which carried a double meaning. Alasafor was Rodulan, and communication between both of them was easy. It wasn’t without strain, but that slight exhaustion was nothing compared to what it was like to connect to someone who was entirely human and entirely non-telepathic. 


Over the decades she had, perhaps, learned to make her intrusions less painful, but she lacked the older Rodulan’s experience and skill to make it truly painless. 


Barlowe groaned as he shifted, cradling his arm tenderly.


Barlowe: Or maybe you've just come to laugh, is that it? oO You shouldn't be here... Oo


Aristren: I heard that they had caught a Starfleet Officer. I was interested to see if they were right. ~ I apologise for the discomfort. It has been a taxing set of weeks. ~ 


She approached, maintaining watch of her surroundings. It wouldn’t serve either of them for her to get caught because she was careless. 


Barlowe: Do I look like a Starfleet Officer? oO Probably not more taxing than mine… Oo


Aristren: You do not look like a Starfleet spy to me. ::she paused, allowing his mind to switch between spoken and telepathic communication, then voiced the concern that had brought her here. ~ Since when are you here? ~ 


Had any of the information she had provided made it to Starbase 118? Was Taybrim informed of the impending execution of the plan that would cost the lives of thousands? 


Barlowe: That's what I've been telling them… oO I arrived shortly before you did. Oo


Aristren: And you maintain that you do not know anything? ::pause:: ~ What information have you disclosed? I will not judge, but I need to know. ~ 


Barlowe: Nothing. oO You think I would look like this if I had disclosed anything? Oo


She shook her head slowly, approaching further. Eventually she knelt down next to him. Proximity would make things easier. Hopefully. 


Barlowe shifted slightly again. The discomfort he was experiencing because of Nestira’s telepathy was nothing to what he had already been through, but that didn't make it less uncomfortable.


Barlowe: This is what Terra Prime does to those they suspect. oO Your reports haven't been getting out to 118 for a while now. Oo


Aristren: ~ I have feared this. ~ As they should. ::pause:: As we should. If you are truly with us, you would want the same treatment for those who would harm us. 


Barlowe: I don't know what I did to deserve this. oO I don't know who set up this operation… but it's been wrong since the beginning. Oo


It was a thought that had crossed Nestira’s mind before. She had already switched to Counselling when she was assigned to Miranda VII, and even while being part of Intel she had never been sent into an undercover operation. 


Because she wasn’t a good choice for it. While a Bajoran with some cosmetic adjustments could easily pass as a Human, the Rodulan brain structure was distinctly different. A scan with a somewhat up-to-date medical tricorder would easily unmask her. 


Aristren: Neither do I. ~ What do we do? How do we solve this? ~ 


He fell silent, the telepathy taxing him more.


Barlowe: oO Keep gathering information. Find a way to get it out if you can… but be careful who you trust. Stay low and you might survive… even if I don’t. Oo


She gave a slow nod, and for a moment, she too fell silent. 


Aristren: ~ How much longer can you hold on? ~


Nestira did not know how to get Barlowe out of this cell, let alone the medical care he needed. And if Taybrim wasn’t informed of what was happening here, rescue could come in minutes, hours, days, weeks or months. 


Or not at all. 


He grimaced, slumping against the wall of the cell.


Barlowe: oO Not much longer. Not long enough to wait for rescue… Oo


She offered a sad smile, understanding what he meant. 


Aristren: ~ I understand. But death is final. Your story ends, and all that potential you have is lost. There will never again be someone that is you. You are not replaceable. But you have a right to… dignity. ~ 


Going out on his own terms, as much as it was possible. To regain some control. To not leave this realm scared, alone and in pain.


But she did not want to make this decision for him.


Richard turned his head to face her. He couldn't look at her, and yet he was looking right at her.


Barlowe: oO I want this to end… I’m tired. Oo


It was a request as much as it was a statement.


Aristren: ~ I can help. ~


Barlowe: oO Then please… do so. Oo


Nestira nodded, reaching for the hypospray Katalina had given her. It was an old model, reused beyond recommendation, and definitely not Starfleet issue. It lacked the safeties that were the norm by now.

The medication was released into the air with a hiss, and opening the applicator filled it with air instead.


Aristren: I have to inject this. Don’t worry, it … won’t hurt much. 


Barlowe inclined his head, and his hand reached for Nestira. They barely knew each other, but in their final moment, no one wanted to be alone. She sat down next to him, offering the physical contact that would give him comfort. 


Aristren: ::whispering:: Safe travels, Richard.


She placed the hypospray against his neck, injecting the stream of air into the carotid artery. A few moments later, what was left of Richard Barlowe was an empty husk. 




Lt. J.G. Nestira Aristren

Intelligence Officer

Starbase 118 Ops






Richard Barlowe

Simmed by

Lt. Commander Solaris McLaren

Mission Specialist (Intel)

Starbase 118 Ops



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