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One message in, two messages out

Posted on Sun Sep 4th, 2011 @ 6:16am by Chief Warrant Officer Akina Jrez

Mission: Into The Scorpion's Nest. Season 2, Episode 5
Location: Jrez's quarters

Jrez sat quietly in his quarters. He had taken no part in the fire fight but his adrenaline had been racing nonetheless.... So much at few resources to rely on....

He studied the schematics before him. Somehow they refused to come together. He knew the answer to sending a message back to Trill lay in front of him but it refused to reveal itself.
Pull yourself together, he told himself but it didn't do any good. He leaned back into the comfort of the soft couch. Despite his best endeavours, he was drifting off when he heard a bleep from his personal comms unit. "Who...? I'm sorry, but...? Who is this?"

=^=Message from Andoria=^=

His first reaction was to criticise the name of the planet. When will they learn it's Andor? he thought. Then he hauled back. That was stupid and a reaction to...what? "Accept," he said.

"Akina?" The caller waited. "Akina!"

"I'm sorry, I'm only half awake," he mumbled.

He blinked as realisation came to him. He was instantly alert. "Thalal, it's been a long time. How are you?"

"Well, thank you. You?"

"We've just had a run in with those...." That's it! he thought. He thrust the idea aside for the moment as Thalal was speaking again.

"I am.... Akina, I need to tell you...."

Jrez waited but the sentence didn't continue. "How is the Imperial Guard?" he asked.

"Same as always: pompous, restrictive and all too full of itself. Akina, I need to talk to you. I've been...offered...a position. I've been seconded back to Starfleet Command... I don't know much about it. I'm talking now because..... Akina, I really enjoyed the time we had together but....."

"But you took part in shelthreth, he said quickly. "Thalal, I also enjoyed the time we..." He swallowed hard. "...we had together. You needed to move on. I have a long history within me but your history...your history was lacking. You tried to avoid it but...." He stopped, momentarily lacking for words. "Thank you for letting me know. Thalal, I wish you all the joy in your world. You have found the best of both worlds - Starfleet and the Imperial Guard."

"Thank you, Akina. I..."

"Don't say it, Thalal. Let's just leave it at simple thanks. Let's not complicate things with words we might regret later."

"I'll keep in touch, Akina."

Somehow, Jrez doubted that would be the case. It wasn't as if she'd corresponded much while on Andor.

"Where's the posting to?" he asked.

"The USS RujwI. Apparently it's some new joint Starfleet and KDF joint initiative. It's called a Rapid Response Force or some such. I'm to be the Imperial Guard's 'observer' on the flagship."

Jrez just shrugged. It was all news to him. "What does an observer do?"

Thalal chuckled. "Besides the obvious, Akina? I'm told I do get to play soldier. You're right, it will be the best of both worlds."

"I really do hope it all goes well for you. You've changed, and for the better, I think. Once, you would have abided by the Sixth Rule of Acquisition."

"Which version?" Thalal quipped.

"You know better than that. Whoever said A man is only worth the sum of his possessions. is the Sixth Rule has clearly not read them."

Thalal smiled. "You're right though, I do now let family get in the way of opportunity. But that having been said, my family is happy because I'm maintaining our glorious tradition of service in the Imperial Guard and I'm happy because I get to do more than just strut around on parade dressed up like a peacock."

An image of Thalal zh'Simal in full dress uniform sprang to Jrez's mind. It was an alluring one but he set that aside too. Time enough for that later.

There was a pause as Thalal looked to her side. Her face had clouded by the time she looked back. "I'm sorry, Akina, I have to go. I have a transport to catch to Vulcan then on to Earth. If I miss this one then it's the long trip for me via three other planets and one Starbase. Unfortunately, it's not DS7. I just wanted to let you know before you heard about the posting anyway and this was the only opportunity I got."

Jrez's heart flooded with warmth. "Thank you, Thalal," he said genuinely.

He stared at the screen for a long time after it had cleared. Finally, he roused himself - in no small part at the prompting of former hosts reminding him of the important task which lay ahead.

He composed a message to Thalal. It was short and simple. It thanked her for getting in contact and expressed the genuine hope that they would do so again. Crucially, it contained a code word which would alert Thalal to the presence of a second message buried inside it. In and of itself, this second message was garbage. Even if someone managed to find it - and Jrez was sure enough of his skill that he highly doubted anyone would - it would be meaningless. It would just look like static or the work of a shoddy coder.

He then sent a message to his mother, Marim Ferill, back on Trill. This too was seemingly innocuous yet this too contained an all-important code word. It asked after her health and that of her long time partner, Siri Vexal. It mentioned Thalal in passing before moving on to topics like how Marim's library was faring or whether any Ferengi had managed to con Siri lately. Inside this message too there was a second message. This second message was also meaningless by itself.

Jrez knew that both women would know what to do. Thalal would send her portion on to Marim. Marim likewise would send her portion to Thalal. Once combined, a tiny piece of coding would activate which would piece the whole together like an electronic jigsaw puzzle. Then Marim could have Jrez's warning about the parasites to the Symbiont Commission and Thalal could.... What could Thalal do? He knew he had placed her in an invidious position. Who could Thalal trust? She could hardly go around staring at the back of people's necks.

Something else to set aside; he just had to trust to Thalal's intelligence and intuition. Fortunately, he knew he could rely on both.

After that, he thought, when it was all done to his satisfaction, I need a drink. Apparently there's some new bar opened up. Time I paid it a visit.


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