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JP - LtCmdr. Talos Dakora and Leera Dakora - Time Doesn't Stop

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Wanted to highlight a very touching JP that just hit my inbox from @Talos Dakora and @Robin Hopper.


((XO’s Quarters - USS Artemis-A))


Talos rolled over in his bed for the umpteenth time that night– or was it morning already?


He’d been exhausted when he’d laid down, but every time he closed his eyes images from a different time and a different place filled his mind. Everything they’d had to do, everything he’d lost, and all the little things he wished he could go back and do differently kept him awake as he tossed and turned all night.


Gradually the lights came up on their own, confirming his suspicions. Morning. Time to get up.


Time to hit the gym and act like things were normal.


But he didn’t feel all that normal. 


Rising from his bed, he crossed the room to the small desk in the corner. There, was the picture he’d pulled from his personal archive in the little digital frame, right where he left it. Gazing down at the tiny snapshot of himself and his brother as children with his mother between them, he stared into her smiling face.



((Leera’s House - Medara, Betazed - A Timeline That Never Was ~2376))


Talos stood across from his mother in what had been the basement of his childhood home, though he could hardly tell by looking at it. Gone were the handful of dusty old crates and the few racks of wine bottles of varying vintage, replaced by cobbled-together military equipment and containers of begged, borrowed, and/or stolen war materiel. 


Like so many things in this twisted alternate reality, his mind wrestled with seeing the familiar setting in a way it never should’ve been. The result was a near-constant sense of discomfort and wrongness that had plagued him since he’d arrived.


With the others moving off to handle their own business he turned to his mother, the apparent Resistance Leader, and made a suggestion.


Dakora: I’m sure you have questions. ::He placed a hand to his chest.:: I know I do. Is there somewhere we can talk?


Sighing, She crossed her arms and nodded. It was an expression he remembered, but one that felt different from his new perspective. There was a weight on her shoulders that she’d tried so hard not to let him see as a child.


Leera: Yeah. Come with me. I have one more job to do… ::Leading him up the stairs::  …Relieving two of our most valuable people, who are both probably starting to worry.


Nodding as he fell in step behind her, he replied.


Dakora: Ok, lead the way– ::Beat.:: Leera.


Her name felt strange on his lips, like calling a respected professor by their first name. 


They passed through the improvised secret entrance– a touchstone that had existed in both timelines— and into the hallway above. Memories flooded back to him unbidden; Late night knocks at the door, hushed voices in the hall, the subtle creak of the false back wall of that closet swinging open and shut again.


To his knowledge that had been the extent of his mother’s participation in the resistance; Food and shelter for those who needed it before they moved on to wherever they were headed. That was all. 


It had still been enough to cost her her life, in the end.


His jaw tightened as they approached a door to his father’s old study. Selfishly, he entertained the idea that this was worth it. That if CloQ never reappeared and revealed their game and he just lived out the rest of his life alongside her… maybe that’d just be alright.


He closed his eyes for a protracted moment, willing the thought away as fast as it had come. 


Watching as she unlocked the door and slid it open, Talos’ mind brushed against the presences on the other side; one familiar and nostalgic, the other disorienting and uncomfortable, like staring at your own reflection disappearing into infinity between two mirrors.


Leera: ::Opening the door::  How are are my two favourite secret agents?


Two boys surged forward, wrapping Leera in a fierce hug. Talos smiled from his position a few steps away, pleased but unsurprised that she still managed to shield the boys from the worst of the war, even in this reality.


Hanek: Mom! We heard voices in the hall. Talos was scared.


His grin grew, as his younger brother’s voice broke the silence. The love the three had for each other radiated from the room and washed over him like a pleasant wave.


Dakora(10yo): ::To Hanek::  Was not!  ::To Leera::  I just missed you.  ::Noticing the man with her::  A Starfleet Commander?! Holy Strokes!


Leera: ~~ ::Furrowing her brow::  Talos, you know how I feel about that rude language. ~~


Dakora(10yo): ~~ Sorry. ~~


Talos’ head swam a little as the younger version of himself’s attention fixed on him. He fell back on years of training to lock down his mind so that it wouldn’t reflect back on the wide-eyed kid.


He managed a smirk and shrugged.


Dakora: Even Starfleet Commanders have to listen to their moms.


Taking control of the situation, Leera ushered the boys out of their hiding place.


Leera: Little Bear, take your brother and grab some of the leftovers in the fridge. We’ve got a few extra mouths to feed, so we’ll need to stretch the rations – but I want you boys to eat first, alright?


Talos felt his younger self’s eyes glued to him as he made his way out of the room. Taking in the uniform, the dark eyes, the tattoos peeking out from under a partially rolled up sleeve– everything. Feeling oneself aspiring to be oneself was a unique and disorienting experience to say the least.


Leera: We’ll be out in a minute.


He nodded reassuringly as they bounded out of the room to do as she said.


As soon as they were clear she shut the door, locking it with a click.


They were alone.


After all these years of wishing he had the chance to do just this; To talk to his mom one last time, to tell her all the things that he never got the chance to say.


He didn't know where the start.


Leera: There… ::Moving across the room and leaning against her bookshelf::  …I hope you have a better idea of what’s going on than I do, because – the Four forgive me – I’m just trying to accept that this isn’t a strange dream. Why are you here? Why now?


Carefully, Talos explained the situation. With CloQ’s meddling and the clearly alternate timeline, he didn't think he'd be in violation of any Temporal Directives, but still he tried to keep things basic.


Dakora: I don't know much more than you do. ::He frowned.:: We were sent here– my team and I– involuntarily. I'm still trying to figure out the why, but I think I'm here to help.


Leera: Do you…  ::Trying to think of a question worth asking:: Do you remember any of this? From when you were a boy?


His gaze shifted from her face to a spot on the wall beyond. Talos chose his words carefully.


Dakora: No. Not really. You always kept us from the worst of it. But some things are… ::He swallowed:: Different than I remember them in some ways.


Talos tried to think of anything other than the fact that she should’ve been dead by this time, but he registered a subtle change in her expression that looked uncomfortably like understanding as she listened to his words.


After a moment, she replied.


Leera: Alright, then I guess I better fill you in.


She crossed over to the desk, sliding aside some of the stuff he'd seen her use for work to reveal an ancient paper map of Medara. The carefully drawn lines of each street and delicate script were immediately recognizable as her handiwork.


Leera: Once the Federation’s first attempt to liberate Betazed failed, the Dominion realized our world had an abundance of untapped natural resources to mine, and labour to exploit. Those accused of dissidence, or found guilty of any small crimes, were enlisted in a ‘freedom through work’ program building the ketracel white plants, here.


Standing beside her at her desk, he stared down at the fine linework of his mother’s architectural drawings with an appreciation he had never had as a boy. He followed along as she spoke, committing the landmarks and locations to memory.


Dakora: See, those, for instance. ::He touched the drawing.:: The big, smoke-spewing Ketrecel plants– they never existed in my timeline. They wouldn't have had time to build them before…


He trailed off, letting his eyes find hers. He felt the familiar sensation of her mind– warm and comforting like a childhood blanket– reaching out to his for more context. 


Leera: Before the war… ended. ::She stared right back at him, her eyes burning with a new fire.:: The Federation won. 


He took a step back, locking down his mind as he did. He didn’t have the heart to tell her that she never lived to see it.


Dakora: We did. But.. something is different here, M'adi. I’m not sure what, yet. But I think we’re supposed to set it right.


She took a deep breath, closing her eyes for just a moment as she shook her head. He could feel her weighing a choice in her mind as her brown, wavy hair shook against her shoulders.


Leera: Oh, Talos. ::She smiled sadly with a half-chuckle.:: My not-so-Little Bear.


She motioned for him to follow her out of the study.


Leera: I believe I know what your team is meant to help us with.


((End Flashback))

(XO’s Quarters - USS Artemis-A))


Talos opened his eyes, willing the memory out of his head, and set the small picture frame down on his desk. 


He yawned involuntarily, knowing he’d pay for his poor night’s sleep in the gym in just a few short minutes, and pulled open the doors to his wardrobe.


A few minutes later, he’d donned his athletic clothes and had parked himself at the small, lonely table that sat in one corner of his living room. 


He stared down at the steam rising off a cup of freshly replicated Jestral tea.


oO It wasn’t real. It never happened. Oo


Except it had happened. It had just all been reset at the whim of a time-obsessed Q that seemed to take great joy from watching them suffer.


The memories were indistinguishable from his real past. In many ways, these memories had superseded the faded, fuzzy childhood memories from nearly 30 years ago– all from a timeline that doesn’t exist.


The only evidence of the new, last conversation he’d had with his mother lived on in his mind.



((Maintenance Crawlway, Facility KTF-031 - Medara, Betazed  - A Timeline That Never Was ~2376))


They’d been set up.


Their plans to infiltrate and destroy the Ketrecel Production Facility had been blown wide open when they’d been ambushed at one of the major milestones. They’d only barely managed to escape after taking heavy losses.


They weren’t sure who was at fault yet, but Talos had narrowed it down to someone from the other team with a reasonable degree of certainty.


Then they’d heard the explosion echo through the heavy industrial maze.


Leera: That wasn’t one of the demolition charges… Maybe your man, Jaseb…?


Talos brow furrowed, even as sweat beaded up on it.


Savel: We need to get to him quickly.


He nodded. His desire to assist the Resistance was secondary to his obligation to his crew.


Or at least, it should’ve been.


Then why was he hesitating?


Dakora: Right. Prep your gear Savel and get ready to move.


He heard a quiet exchange between Rleryn and his mother as they figured out what to do.


Leera looked to Talos, pain in her eyes. The next thing she said ripped her heart in two.


Leera: You should go, find Chevalier, try to get out of here if you still can…  ::Glance at Rleryn::  …We can still set the charges off. Bring down the factory… If we stay behind.


Talos’ mouth fell open and he immediately shook his head. 


The finality of what she was proposing was evident. There would be little to no chance of escape if they carried out the attack.


It would be a one-way mission.


Savel: Commander, I believe that would fulfill our purpose for being here.


He fired an unintentionally icy sidelong glance in the Vulcan’s direction as a war waged within him.


Dakora: We don’t know that. Just hold on a second.


Savel’s gaze shifted to Leera, then Talos before he spoke again.


Savel: I will go ahead and attempt to locate Jaseb. We should be close to his objective. If that explosion originated from there, his condition could be critical. ::to Leera:: To borrow a phrase from Humans; Good luck Leera.


Talos nodded, knowing that he needed to go with him, but understanding what it would mean.


Dakora:  Right. You go. I’ll catch up with you in just a moment.


The young Security Officer didn’t waste another moment, as he darted off in the direction of the explosion.


Leera: There is no other way. ::She placed her hands on either side of his broad shoulders.:: You know that…


Talos had never felt more torn in his entire life. Every second he stayed behind was another second his crewmates were in danger– but at the same time, it was another second with his mother. Seconds that he’d never get back.


Dakora: M’adi, you can’t. ::He closed his eyes.:: I can’t lose you again.


The last word had tumbled out of his mouth unbidden..


But the sad look in her eyes told him that she already knew.


Leera: I’m sorry. ::She squeezed his shoulders.:: But you know it has to be this way. It’s supposed to be this way.


He shook his head, feeling the warmth welling up in his eyes as he did.


Dakora: It doesn’t matter what happened in my time. ::He pleaded.:: It can be different!


She pulled him into a tight embrace, holding the man that the little boy who was safely hiding with his grandmother right now would grow up to be tight as tears welled in the corners of her eyes.


Leera: It was. I’ve seen who you become. ::Her voice shook only once as she spoke, before she steeled herself.:: I know who you will be. And I am so, so, proud to call you my son.


She released him, taking a step back as she did. A single tear cut a line down the side of her face as she laid her eyes on him one last time.


Leera: ~The fire of my heart burns inside you, always.~


Then she was gone. Disappearing deeper into the darkness of the facility, ready to sacrifice everything for what she believed in. 


For a moment, Talos stood frozen in place as a hundred different protests formed and died on his lips as he watched her go.


Only once she was gone did he speak.


Dakora::Quietly:: Please…


Tears traced the contours of his face, dispersing somewhere in his stubble.


He might’ve stayed there forever– Let the whole damned place come down on his head– if he hadn’t heard the weapons fire from the direction Savel had gone. 


With a final, ragged sob he drew his stolen disruptor and sprinted after the Vulcan.


((End Flashback))

(XO’s Quarters - USS Artemis-A))


As Talos set his mug down with a clink of ceramic on metal, he shook himself free of the memory.


It too was real only to him. 


But maybe that was ok. 


Even now, as he tried, the real memory of the last time he’d seen his mother had faded some. The fearful look in her eye as the Jem’Hadar pounded on their front door superseded by the look of utter determination to go down fighting that he’d seen in that dark crawlway.


The feeling of pride that radiated from her as she looked at him one last time.


As he rose and headed for the door, he thought that maybe– just maybe– he could live with that.





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