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[2006: MAR-APR] The Fruit Born of a Poisoned Tree


David Cody
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The clang of rampant noise and the red lights frightened Orola, jumping up from the cramped confinements of the space. She had a cot for a bed, a porcelain bowl for sanitary functions and a tiny faucet to drink metallic-recycled water. Ignoring the mess of her hair and the few s[...]s of clothes she wore (the same clothes she had on Rigel VIII), she didn’t know why the light in the room glowed like two suns bent on racing each other, or the awful banshee noise that rattled her skin. All she knew… all she felt… was the worst had happened.

The noise cut itself off, for which Orola was glad. It hurt her ears, which she was told was similar to Terran ears. Varek, the Ferengi who had come to the spaceport, who sat with his jowls of fat and roared a manic cackle under the dim lights and smoke-filled neon blue of the dance cages… whose ear fetish she never quite understood, told her up front this might happen.

She wasn’t going back! She couldn’t! Her talon-like claws at the tip of her fingers reached into her hair and scratched vigorously. She winced, feeling the trickle of blood seep into her hair, but she didn’t care. Whirling around, she bumped into the sink and cried out before shoving a fist into her mouth… knowing what she had just done.

She broke the rule.

Voices broke out above her head. Orola swung her head to the ceiling; like a coiled snake she sometimes used in her dance maneuvers, pipes carried the low grumble of the engine during the long sojourns of snores and that fiendish cackling she grew to hate over the last few days.

She flung herself into the cot and pulled a ratted blanket over her, burying herself into it. Varek would come… someone would have heard her cry. Sound carried in a way she did not understand here… not the velvet acoustic she associated with the speakers of the dance cage… or the soft amber moans of men who lay both above and beneath her… this was different. This was angry! This was pain…

A hiss and a glare flashed through the thin blanket that hid her. Orola couldn’t help but shiver. The movement would draw attention. Varek the Ferengi would shout and say it was all her fault! She bit off another cry as she heard footsteps, each one a bell of her impending doom… a tug on the blanket—

“Come on out of there.”

She gasped. The voice… not harsh, but melodious. The timber and pitch, almost music… she yanked the blanket hard back over her shuddering, imaging the lashes of the cold, cruel leather strap- ‘No! They do not do that here!’

The blanket was ripped away. Orola bolted upright and swayed with the motion of the cot, shielding her human-shaped body over assets Verek drooled moisture from that awful voice of his. Her other hand shielded her eyes, somewhat blinded by the light behind the harmonious voice of the figure that stood before her, blocking the door. She could just see fat Varek standing just outside the door, neck on fire with smoldering eyes focused on the man’s back.

The man suddenly knelt. He wasn’t a tall man, but rugged, broad, almost like her masters—

“What’s your name?” the unnamed male said, bringing his sharp, detail-focused eyes on her. She watched those eyes take in every inch of her, and felt exposed… but not in the way she was used to. Attempting to scamper from those scrutinizing eyes, she only succeeded feeling her gorge rise to her throat and coughed off a reply.

A hand shot out, steadying her. “It’s alright… please, tell me your name,” the man (a Terran!) repeated. Orola could see him a bit better now. Brown hair, sharp blue eyes, the crisp and formal uniform of… ‘Starfleet!’.

Orola tripped throwing herself over the side of the cot and plastered herself on the floor. Remaining against the ground, she raised her head— into the curious and somewhat mysterious gaze of the Starfleet stranger before her. She moistened her mouth and poised her claws. “No…” she whispered. “Please…”

The Starfleet stranger offered his hand. “You don’t have anything to worry about, miss. It’s this scu-,” the stranger cut himself off to twist his torso backwards, looking out the opened door. “Transporting slaves, Verek?”

And that rough, high-pitched wheeze of a sound came roaring back. “You know I would never do such a thing, Cody! YOU… of all Terrans! We took you in! We nursed you, like a baby! Taught you our ways! This is how you thank us?! Accusing me of trafficking slaves?!”

The man named Cody stood up and turned around. Orola didn’t dare look up. Instead she buried her head under her arms, wrapping them around her. She heard the Terran male’s voice… this Cody’s voice… roar through her shaking arms.

“Where is she on your passenger manifest, Varek? Show me the logs! You were attempting to sneak her through Federation space! And in that!”

The sting of tears swept over Orola’s eyes as she blinked. That voice! Oh my… even angry it was beautiful! How much she wanted to hear a Terran voice, listen to their sounds and dance to their beat! She was Terran in appearance!

“Simply a misunderstanding! She was in the passenger logs, Cody! I swear she was! Someone must have made a filing error-“

“Don’t even try that with me.”

She felt his hands on her arms. Warm! His fingers, ever so gentle sliding to the underside of her biceps and she swooned. He was picking her up! Orola took her arms away to stare into that sharp focused pair of blues on the Cody man and shivered, hating herself for it. He was guiding her for the door!

“NO!” Orola tore herself away and flung herself back into her tiny world… the only world she had until Varek got her back to his homeworld. “PLEASE!”

The Cody man stared at her for a moment, then swung his head around on Varek, who attempted a half-hearted smile and a shrug. “Well,” Varek started… and trailed off.

The Cody man motioned with one of his clipped fingers. Two more Starfleet people, a swooning black haired woman and a tall, burly man came forward and hiked Varek three feet off the ground. He abruptly turned back to her, extending his hand. “We’re not going to hurt you,” he started.

Orola backed further into her world, shaking her head. “No… please. You can’t!”

His hand held firm, held out in the open to her. It wasn’t aggressive, it was not passive. It just hovered there. “You don’t know what he was planning to do,” the Cody man replied calmly. And oooh! Those eyes, soft and yielding, despite the hard ridges. As if he could see the sum of the life she had lived…

“Please… take my hand.”

She caught herself extending her own talon-nailed hand out to his, feeling the pulsing veins under that pink skin of his… felt his fingers wrap around hers and guide… not force… guide her to him. She shivered, lost in the touch and slightly offered a prayer of thanks to the gods for bringing such a beautiful, divine and songful voice into her arms.

----------

Cody guided the green-skinned Orion woman wearing clothes that belonged in an incinerator out of the storage closet, a close eye on those talons that could easily rip through his skin. He truly wanted to do some serious damage to Varek, amazed he was able to keep his fury off his usual stone-faced expression.

She finally came. He could see the tense, powerful muscle lurking beneath that exotic, alluring skin that captured the thoughts and dreams of all races alike. Beneath the dirt and grime, she was extraordinarily beautiful. “Will you tell me your name, now?” he asked, a soft smile playing on his lips. ‘Play to her sensuality.’ It was a cold and calculated thought, but a necessary one.

The Orion blossomed a smile, coming out of the closet. “Orola,” she replied. Her body language was coy… they were playing on her turf now.

“Beautiful name,” Cody coated, inwardly hating himself for playing this game with Orola. He coxed her down the hall, where ahead the two Starfleet officers carried a protesting Varek. “You must be quite something.”

Orola snaked her arm into his, falling into step as she swung extremely round and wide eyes on his features. He watched her eyes travel over his expression, landing on his mouth, which struck Cody somewhat odd. “Your voice is harmony,” she confessed, peering closer at his mouth. “I could dance to it.”

Cody missed a step on that one… he searched Orola briefly with a penetrating gaze, attempting to gage her interpretation. He could feel the tips of her talons barely s[...]ing at his arm… a feeling not entirely unpleasant, but extremely dangerous if she lashed out. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard that one before,” he commented wryly, offering her a rare smile.

“But it is!” Orola suddenly exploded, and leaped in front of his path. Cody stopped, momentarily finding himself at the scrutiny of what was surely an Orion dancer, the grace of fluid motion he couldn’t even follow. She peered up at him and reached a hand for his cheek. It took every once of will to keep himself calm, expressionless, and motionless as her claws tickled the corners of his mouth, traced his mouth line. She stepped closer to him… her warm, moist breath sending tremors. “I love it… I always wanted to hear a Terran…”

He didn’t breathe easier until Orola lowered her hand, even closer than he remembered. She was a shorter than him, tilting her head up to look into his eyes. “Everything about you is beautiful,” she confessed, diminutive suddenly.

‘Oh boy,’ came Cody’s thought. This was the exactly last thing he needed in his life right now. Dead-pan, he matched her eyes as the common phrase he told every woman escaped his lips. “So you’re volunteering,” he commented, unable to keep the mirth out from his voice.

Before he could blink, Orola jumped straight into his arms and he felt her talons poised right into his back as she hugged him, beaming at him. He felt a swift response in a place he definitely did not want. “Yes!” she gushed. “I want to!”

Orola’s mouth was uncomfortably close, wrapping one of her arms around Cody’s neck. She brought her mouth closer, nearly tickling his own. “I can please you… I can.” she breathed, swinging her wide, opened eyes up on him. He felt her entire body tense up suddenly. “I… I want children…”

Cody swung a hand around and gently pulled Orola’s arm off his neck, keeping close until he could manage a bit of distance. His cheeks burned as he sought the void to fuel the rampant hormones that were intoxicating him. He understood why Vulcans had such a command over their own emotions, enough to live with the cold, hard logic of fact he was delivering.

Orola looked after Cody as he stepped away from her, steeling himself. Looking past her at the turbolift door at the end of the hall in Varek’s ship, he saw both Starfleet officers, along with an extremely anxious Varek, watching the exchange. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I think it might be better if another officer took you to our ship.”

----------

The world was crashing around her. ‘No!’ It was a silent, crushing, heartbreaking no that screamed through her as the Cody man stepped away. And he didn’t even understand! She wanted this! It screamed with every fiber of her being, and here he was suggesting that it must be someone else! She stepped after, sticking out her hand. “No…” she whispered… she could taste him! Every part of him… his unfeeling eyes she knew had passion behind them, that scruff exterior skin that didn’t flinch at her talons… he was the one!

“I really think it would be for the best,” the Cody man replied softly, musically… it swooned her to the very core of her being! He didn’t know… he didn’t have to know! He wanted her… she knew he did, no matter how hard he tried to bury it. She could bring it out… the love, pain and the suffering she heard in those wonderful tones.

“Please!” Orola begged, another step closer. She wanted to feel his touch again, everywhere, over her, through her… she didn’t want it to stop. “I can… I just have to go with Varek briefly.. but I’ll be there! I promise! Every day! Please… don’t leave…”

The Cody man lowered his head. She could see his eyes were snapped shut and muttering something she couldn’t discern. He finally raised his head to her, all traces of whatever lurked within him gone. Stone… his face was made of stone. “Another officer is going to take you back to our ship. We’ll get in touch with the Orion Ambassador—“

Orola went rigid at the mention of the name and slowly backed away, feeling her jaw betray her. Shaking her head, “No… no….” Whirling, she stared down the hall at Varek. “NO! YOU PROMISED! YOU CAN”T TAKE ME BACK! VAREK!”

Cody’s hands were back, holding hers behind her back. She could feel her own talons against her skin as Orola lashed out, kicking and screaming, shaking her head. “CODY, NO! I LOVE YOU! I PROMISE! I HAVE TO GO WITH VAREK FIRST! CODY!”

He didn’t answer her. All she felt was his strong, unyielding hands guiding her down the hall for those dreaded doors… those doors that would send her straight back into the hell that awaited her. “CODY, PLEASE! I CAN’T GO BACK! I CAN’T! THEY’LL KILL ME!”

His musical voice finally wavered. “I’m sorry, Orola. I have no choice.”

Pain… the tears seared her skin as she continued kicking out, dragging them, holding them off. She couldn’t go through that door! She thrashed, yanking her arms to and from, hoping she could break those endearing and wonderful hands off her as they came closer and closer to the other two Starfleet officers, holding Varek in the lift. She met eyes with Varek, and truly, finally, saw those calculating and un-sounding Ferengi eyes sing a sad tune.

“Don’t do it, Cody,” Varek said softly. “They’ll kill her.”

“You know I can’t do that, Varek,” Cody’s voice sang behind her. They were at the doors now. Orola pushed herself back against the love and planted her feet firm on either side of the door, thrusting back into him. ‘Oh, please, Cody!’ she silently screamed.

“No,” Varek urged. His eyes met hers, and she felt silent alarms ring. “You don’t understand… what she is.”

Orola stopped, letting her feet hit the floor as she watched everything collapse in the space of a heartbeat. She pleaded Varek, those tiny Ferengi eyes weighing her as if he were weighing a bar of latinum. “NO! Varek, don’t tell him! Please! I want him… I want his children!”

Varek swung his head down, refusing to look at her. He finally looked up past Orola and she just knew; her savior… her betrayer. She folded, bursting out in fresh tears feeling the warmth, touch and harmony of the man she wanted life with, this Cody man behind her. “She’s a clone, Cody.”

The pressure against Orola stopped. She wretched her arms away from Cody with a resounding cry and crashed on her knees, bawling out while hiding her eyes from the world the Cody man took her into. “No…” she managed between cries. “Don’t tell him…”

“She paid me to take her out of Orion,” Varek’s trembling voice replied. “I know some people… who could solve Orola’s problem…”

All of her hopes, her desires, her life goal and dreams with the Cody man went with it… in that same warm, soft, musical tone she wanted so desperately to remain the rest of her life with. It didn’t matter! It shouldn’t matter! She knew him! She knew this Cody man. He wouldn’t let that one thing stand between them! He wasn’t like the rest…

The Cody man’s voice came, “…you … you know the LAW, VAERK! YOU KNOW!”

“I KNOW CLONES AREN’T ALLOWED TO HAVE CHILDREN!” roared Varek’s bitter, hollow voice. “BUT SHE’S INNOCENT, CODY! SHE DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS LIFE! I KNOW YOU! I KNOW YOU FEEL THE SAME AS I…”

“Noho…” Orola broke, hearing it in the Cody man’s voice. “I WANT CHILDREN… it’s not fair… IT’S NOT FAIR! I’M REAL! I’M REAL, CODY! I’M JUST AS REAL AS YOU!” She sniffed, feeling build-up, and coughed, still crying. Her stomach hurt… a horrible wrenching that shook the rest of her and wouldn’t let go. “Please… I love you. I want to have your children…”

Silence.

Quivering, Orola shook, rocking herself. “Cody, please…” Why didn’t he answer?!

And more silence.

“Please,” she whispered, feeling a cold, emptiness where her heart should have been. Why didn’t her love answer her? “Please…”

----------

And Cody still said nothing as the Security Officers lifted Orola off the floor and into the turbolift. He leaned against the bulkhead as the doors closed and crossed his arms, staring at the floor, alone. Completely stone, a mask of cold steel. He rubbed an arm over his nose and bowed his head.

Snapping his eyes shut, Cody lingered in her scent. Orola… a fruit born from a poisoned tree… His eyes broke open with a flood of tears… the only form of redemption he could offer her. He shielded his face.

The tears, the broken-down silent cry of a man sworn to obey the laws that governed her, his guilt… were just as poisonous. “I’m sorry…” he whispered, haunted by echoes of Orola’s cry.

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I'm now thoroughly irritated with the language filter... there were no swear words in that story. There are two instances where the filter took individual letters out of completely different and appropriate words... not cool. <_<

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