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[2007: NOV-DEC] Promises of War


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Promises of War

By Toni Turner

As he shuffled down the street, it occurred to Ted that the city was colder than he remembered, but then in these times, it could have been the old war injuries rather than the chill causing the aches that plagued his weathered body.

He glanced at the woman who shambled along side of him. Her teeth were chattering, and the coldness made her breath visible. Putting his arm around her, he felt her frail body tremble. He drew her near, and kissed her forehead, whispering, "We'll soon be there. Hang on a little longer." She did not reply, but kept her eyes focused straight ahead, making him feel that she still trusted him.

In the distance, the clanking of insistent footfalls made him quicken his pace. He had to get her to safety before she was missed. He had spent years trying to find her, and now that he had, never again would he allow her to be treated with disrespect.

In her youth she had fought valiantly beside him. Never had he respected a woman more than he had her. She was quick, smart and decisive in battle . . . a true warrior, meeting the Dominion head on until each battle was won. And after each battle, they had shared the sweetness of victory in the warmth of their bed. No man could have loved a woman more than he loved her, and no man could have searched harder to find her.

During their last battle, he had taken phaser fire. She had helped him to safety, seen to his wounds, and gone to get help for him. "I'll always be with you," she promised with a smile and a gently blown kiss. Over the years he had carried that vision of her with him, and it had saddened him immensely to find her in such poor condition.

She stumbled, and he helped her to her feet. Seeing she could go no further on her own volition, he swept her into his arms and carried her the rest of the way. Entering the darkened passageway, he stopped to catch his breath . . . listening, watching, waiting, to make sure everything was clear, before hurrying across the courtyard to the door that would take them to freedom.

Ted knocked, and gained admittance quickly. With no time for socializing, he barely looked up at the old man who had opened the door. If he had, he would have seen the desolation in his eyes . . . the same desolation in the woman’s blank stare.

He ran down through the crudely cut tunnel as rapidly as his aching legs would allow. He labored to breathe out his assurance. "A few more miles and we'll be out of the city."

She nodded her head against his neck, and he thought he would burst with joy for getting a response from her. He'd never give up now. His search was over and he would never let her go . . . never be without her again. That thought kept him going until they reached the end of the tunnel.

He cautiously peered outside. It was clear they had made a successful escape. Easing her down to standing, his body quivered from the fatigue of their journey, but as they gazed out over the freedom that lay ahead, he felt renewed.

"Come, you must rest," he whispered. Taking her hand in his, he led her to the prearranged refuge - a cave, overlooking the city.

Inside, he laid her on the softness of blankets, and wrapped her in them as a child, rubbing her arms and legs to warm her. She continued to shiver, so he gathered a few stones, he used his phaser to warm them. Holding her close he packed the stones near to her, holding her until she stopped shivering, then fell asleep, happy to be near her again.

At dawn Ted awakened. Easing her head down onto the blankets, he stood, stretching his painful muscles to regain flexibility. He smiled as he gazed at her sleeping form. She was at peace again, something he imagined she had not known for some time. Sleep, a restful slumber, that’s what she needed, and he would not disturb her.

Quietly he leaned against the mouth of the cave, taking in the ruins of the city below. His eyes fell on the acreage where Starfleet Headquarters had once stood. He had met her there. He envisioned her sparkling blue eyes, her beautifully shaped body, her laugh, her warm and gentle smile . . . so lovely. He loved her then, and he loved her now, and vowed at that moment to bring that lovely smile back to her face.

They had served on the same ship, and when it was destroyed at DS9, they had joined with a band of Bajoran Freedom fighters, who had rescued them. The same resistance who had helped him find her, and would be taking them to a planet of safety.

The Founders had promised the Breen control of Earth for their help in the war, and when the Federation was defeated, the promise was honored, and the Breen had sadistically brought all their human captives back to their homeland so they could watch it being destroyed. Now, using their advanced technology, the Breen were altering the climate of Earth to accommodate their need for cold. Ted cursed the Breen for their atrocities.

Inside the cave, she stirred, and Ted went to her, hoping to make her smile, but as she had before, she stared blankly passed him. “Food . . . you need food. Something warm and tasty to eat.” Looking through the rations left for them, he found a container of stew. Heating it with his phaser, he took it to her. Much better than the algae paste her captors had fed her, she consumed it voraciously, then looked to him for more.

“A little at a time, or you’ll get sick,” Ted warned. Her facial expression turned joyless, and the emptiness of her stare returned.

Ted thought of the horrors she must have endured. He could not ignore it any longer. Dropping to his knees, enfolding her in his arms, he pleaded, “Oh God, what have they done to you?” Unable to hold back his tears, he hesitated, fearing what he would find hidden under her tresses . . . Finally, he resolved, he had to know. Lifting the dull, lifeless curls at the nape of her neck, his worse fear was realized. She was marked with the scars of cortical implants, known to cause irreparable brain damage during interrogations.

For hours he rocked her in his arms, wondering what he should do. At long last, he cradled her in his arms, looking down on her tired and taunt face, and whispered a promise with a smile and a gently blown kiss. "I'll always be with you."

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