"Wounded Warriors"
[Previous Post: "Personal Therapy"]

“Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.”
-David Richo

Setting: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Section C, Level 3, Dalziel's Temporary Quarters
Stardate: 63075.1250

Morningstar had wasted no time in making his way to the Counsellor's quarters. His hand was just about to activate the door chime when the door slid open and Ensign Dalziel appeared.

"Captain," she acknowledged, straightening her ponytail. She was already dressed for duty in the familiar teal trimmed jumpsuit.

Erik stood there a moment. If he didn't know better, he was beginning to think all Counsellors were part Betazed. "Your sense of timing is perfect."

Eve shook her head. "I wish. Allyson informed me Koniki wanted to see us. Do you know what it's about?"

"No idea," the PARADOX's Commanding Officer said honestly. Frankly he was concerned, having already seen Admiral Koniki earlier in the day.

Eve absorbed what little Morningstar had said as she took long, purposeful strides towards their destination. The American Indian man was forthcoming, and she saw no reason whatsoever to distrust him. If anything, she was the unknown quantity in this situation, she mused. She hoped that she could continue to prove her worth until the ship was fixed, and then after.

Despite Eve's concerns, Erik did not seem to doubt the tall, exotic humanoid woman next to him. Her eagerness was refreshing, when she had every right to be worn down. She seemed to carry herself with an inner strength.

"Something's wrong, isn't it?" Dalziel said with apprehension. Erik realized too late that she had been studying his body language just as he had been studying her demeanor.

"I don't know for certain... but I don't like this," Morningstar replied.

Setting: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Section A, Level 6, Administrative Center
Stardate: 63075.1255

Admiral Koniki stared at the two officers. He noticed the slightly puzzled look on the CO's face, but realized the sooner he started talking the sooner Morningstar would understand. Besides, there was no time to waste.

"About twenty minutes ago we received communications that a cargo ship, the XANTUL, exploded while it was attempting to dock at the VALLA ROYAL orbital station. Normally this wouldn't elicit much attention, but the ship was carrying a box vital to Starfleet affairs."

"Classified contents?" Erik asked, already knowing the answer. His relief was replaced by a need to take action.

Koniki nodded in the affirmative. "It is in our best interest to try and find and retrieve this box, if it wasn't destroyed in the explosion, or at the very least to confirm its destruction. The ramifications if it fell into the wrong hands are disastrous."

"So are we headed to VALLA ROYAL?" Dalziel asked. If so, it would not be her first time aboard the space casino. The stomping grounds had a reputation for harboring nearly every crime syndicate in the quadrant. If the box had made it off the cargo vessel unscathed, it might well go to the highest bidder. Or, if the contents were made known, a full scale riot might break out.

"Not yet," Koniki said cautiously, thinking of the warnings he received during the private meeting regarding the ANUBIS' crew. "The eventual destination is the station, but I don't want anyone going in there half-cocked. O'Dell needs an opportunity to evaluate the data we've received, and gathering information and even some Intel will be easier if we try to do it before gathering an away team."

"Understood, Admiral," the Counsellor said.

"I need you to consider whether your persona was compromised from the last mission, Ensign Dalziel," Koniki reminded the Cardassian born officer. "Can Portree's cover still work on the VALLA ROYAL?" He was speaking of the freespacer pilot Natalie Portree, for all intents and purposes the Counsellor's alter ego; one of several, to be honest.

The pale woman thought, shades of discomfort falling across her visage. It was the first time Erik had seen the young woman troubled by anything so far today. It was as if she was troubled that her abilities as an operative were being questioned. "Considering the space-time issues we experienced, I don't think anyone from our reality would have been knowledgeable or affected by the use of Portree. Of course I will develop a backup identity in case things get too... complicated."

Charles Koniki seemed to accept that answer, and handed each of them a data PADD. "These contain the crew manifest of the XANTUL, along with the communications picked up by the NEW ALEXANDRIA. Anything else you need, just ask."

"Perhaps Aki can assist," Eve thought out loud. The raw data regarding the explosion and the mission would be easier to sort through with multiple sets of eyes.

"Ensign Mitshiba is welcome to be involved to any extent she feels comfortable to do so." Amiral Koniki did not hesistate in his opinion, and Morningstar seemed to silently agree. His posture had relaxed considerably since their arrival.

Eve nodded. All she could do was ask; it was up to the assistant CSciO whether or not she was interested. Perhaps it would give the Counsellor the perfect reason to open up a conversation that wasn't all about their shared experience.

Susan M Ledbetter
Ensign Eve Dalziel