Going Away: Part 2
Location: Rrareth Quarters
With her thoughts swimming, forming and reforming as to how to handle the situation of two Mindos, Caradan needed some respite. Returning to her quarters would prove no good as she would only continue thinking. And, in all this turmoil, Caradan realized she had committed a grave sin. She had received and read the report of the situation involving Ziara. Her ship came under attack and then all contact was lost. Ziara’s wife was on board the Tornado. Riaan was also one of Caradan’s lovers and what graver sin could be committed than for a loved one to not console the spouse of someone who could in fact be dead.
That was at least enough to cease the rush of thoughts of the two Mindos.
Now Caradan was nearly in panic as to what Rian must think of her. She rushed through the ship to the Rrareth quarters, chiming away her called at Riaan’s door.
Riaan opened the door, her eys puffy from crying. She hugged Caradan tightly and pulled her into the room. "I'm glad your here." She whispered intensely into Caradan's ear.
Caradan could almost feel the distress emanating from Riaan. Holding her tightly in return, Caradan held her weight and guided her into her quarters allowing the door the slide shut. She understood that Riaan was typically one for soft touches. This time however, Caradan decided Riaan needed a tight embrace; something to remind her, eventhough her eyes provided proof enough, that a loved one was there for her. “I heard the news,” she whispered back into Riaan’s ear. “I should have come sooner. For that, I’m sorry.”
Riaan nodded and led Caradan into her room. "I should have called you earlier, but I was still processing everything. She was in my arms Caradan, in my arms." Riaan said, still sounding distressed.
Caradan had read the report, but was now feeling it more impactfully. She held Riaan and held her tight…and lovingly. What if something came along and, despite her grip and her strength, rip Riaan right out of her arms. Not only would Caradan be helpless to stop the act, but would also be powerless to do anything about it as Riaan was being taken away. As the imaginary Riaan vanished without further word, Caradan’s envisioning ended and she realized Riaan was still there; still in her arms.
“It must be terrible,” Caradan finally said. “I do know that her ship is in the middle of a high priority mission. If there is trouble…then it could mean she is rigged for silent running. I know you feel that no news is worse than hearing her ship destroyed, but know this…” Caradan ended the embrace but held onto the Riaan still. She peered into those hybrid eyes; those worried eyes. “If Ziara’s ship had been destroyed, then enemy would be boasting, displaying their spoils. At this point…I believe no news means they are still out there preparing a counterstrike on their attackers. The next news you hear from Ziara, will be of their victory.”
Riaan nodded, "I hope so. Because I'm not sure what I would do if I lost her. Probably go insane, I'm not sure I could cope with the real world anymore. On the plus side, I know a lot of ways to turn seemingly benign things into weapons."
“You are not…thinking of going out in search for her. Are you?” Caradan needed to ask. She understood Riaan to be calm and complacent most of the time. She was withdrawn and kept to herself. Confrontation and danger was not necessarily her strong points but her comment on weapons made Caradan wonder if the right buttons had been pushed. How far would Riaan go or what was she capable of if Ziara was in true and life-threatening danger? “I ask because I worry about you as much as I worry about Ziara.”
Riaan looked out towards the window. "No, we're too deep into Klingon space and too far away to make a difference. But if she has been killed, I keep thinking about what I could do. How I might react. The best case scenario is that it's a specific pirate or something that we can just run down and catch. I think I could manage if we did that. However, the Venture is a Galaxy, your every day pirate can't take a Galaxy. Which means that whoever it is is backed by someone powerful, probably the Romulans. That means that there is a good chance that we might not be able to go after them directly."
Riaan paused, thinking for a moment. "If I couldn't find justice through the normal ways and means, then I would have to find it some other way. I'm not a fighter, I'm not a leader, I'm a biologist. So the solution would probably be biological. It's not that hard to target a virus. I'd probably use a modified version of a common ailment. Then when the telemeres get too short, it mutates into a super bug that will kill whoever is infected."
Caradan could clearly see Riaan’s thoughts going to dark places. She had been there herself a few times and even felt she had taken part in some travesties. Having the linked memories of all Changelings in the Great Link, the memories of others were as clear to her as her own memories. It felt almost as if Caradan even had a part in aiding the Cardassians in eradicating the Maquis, in the oppression of the Bajorans, in the Dominion War itself.
She pushed those thoughts aside and listened on.
Riaan looked at Caradan with a oddly fearful look. "I can easily imagine a sequence of events that ends with me killing all of the Romulans, and perhaps the Vulans too as collateral damage. It wouldn't be pretty, but if it's the only way to be sure I could see myself taking that route."
Riaan held Caradan a bit tighter. "That's just one way that I could do it, the most basic one. One I could carry out with a food replicator and a shuttle. Give me access to a couple hundred liters of Bio-mimetic gel and a diseased Gormagander then the possibilities become truly frightening. That's what scares me, the real possibility that when you knock the supports out from under me, I could destroy civilizations. I don't want to, but I also know that I could rationalize it. That it might not be tomorrow, but five, ten years? I could play sane, look the part. Act like just another brilliant biologist. They would probably think I've snapped. But it wouldn't be me snapping, it would be me already broken and finally lashing out at the cause of my pain."
And the times Caradan lashed out? She thought on her regeneration bowl that she carved a Klingon profanity into and then later broke. So far, that has been the extent of her angry lashings but her thoughts have sometimes been far worse.
Riaan looked into Caradan's eyes. "I don't want to think that I'd do it. That I could really place my pain above the lives of so many others. But when I look into my own soul, I'm no so sure. I don't want to be anything like my father. However, he justified his experiments. He never at any point thought he was in the wrong. I got his mind when it comes to xenobiology, what if I also got his mind when it comes to finding a justification for these horrible acts?"
Caradan held Riaan away from her. She held on to Riaan’s shoulders and tight as though that would help in driving her words home. “Riaan,” and she hoped that utterance of her name would be received as something of a waking slap in the face; to let her know that she was not her father; that she was Riaan, and no one else. “You have a great advantage over your father. You have a conscience. What you can do terrifies you. It did not terrify your father. Did he ever weep as what he had done? Yet you weep just at knowing what you could do; just for thinking on it.”
She walked Riaan to the sofa and sat beside her. The tight grip on Riaan’s shoulders was replaced by a light touch on her leg.
“Regardless of Ziara’s fate, you are not meant to walk that path. Evil begets evil. The only way to destroy it, is with good.” But Caradan could see behind those tear-filled hybrid eyes the inner conflict in the wake of Ziara being ripped out of Riaan’s arms. The news of Ziara’s death could possibly remove all mental restraint just as Riaan’s anchor could have been suddenly cut away.
There was little else that Caradan could say to calm Riaan’s inner struggle. What she had said already was apparently not enough and a repeat would do no good. Caradan did have a thought though that she hoped would calm the chaotic waters of the raging ocean of emotions roaring in Riaan’s mind.
She patted Riaan’s leg. “Tell you what. Once this mission is over, and we may have a good chance at rescuing Captain Takato here. Once this over, how about you and I leave this ship and head out in search of answers. If there is no word on the Venture, and if you want to leave to find answers, I will go with you.”
Caradan felt her love for Riaan swell. That was part of the definition of love; to be there for others and aide them in their time of need. She had no way to quantify this love so as to see if it was more or less than her love for Mindo, but she, long ago, decided that her love for Riaan was different than her love for Mindo. Right now though, she could see a desperate need emanating from Riaan; the need of answers and the need of a loved one. “I love you Riaan. If I can help you in any way, if my joining you will help find Ziara or whoever is responsible for whatever fate she has endured…then I am yours.”
Riaan nodded, "If there is no word. I think I will have to go in search of her. I have to know what happened." Riaan looked at Caradan, gauging her for a long moment and coming to a decision. "I love you." She said earnestly. It was words she had said before. However, this time, there was something else in the words, a meaning that had reached deeper then it ever had before. That there had been a shift not in Riaan's mind, but her heart. A shift that had lightened her load.
Riaan didn't have words for it. Previously, Caradan had occupied a place that only Ziara had been before. However, it was in some intangible way, lesser. Now, while how she felt about Ziara and Caradan was different, they sat together. Her pillars as it were. The two beings in the galaxy who would love her regardless. That she could put the heavy weight of her pain on to lessen her load. The two who she would do anything for. It was a moment of clarity where she finally understood what Ziara had meant all along.
Riaan took a breath, "I think I'm going to be able to deal with this. When this is over, we're going to find a nice place to relax intimately."
“When this is over,” Caradan said to herself in full understanding of what she had not yet told Riaan. Caradan was glad they were both seated. She withdrew her hand to took a deep breath, again enjoying the sensation most solids took for granted. “I’m going away,” and she quickly realized more words were needed. “On an away mission I mean. I am to board this Klingon station, disappear and mimic a Klingon loyal to the SoK. My mission is to do what damage I can to the Sovereignty and to possibly locate Captain Takato.”
Riaan took a breath, the prospect of losing Caradan too was sharp. However, she wasn't the type to tell Caradan she couldn't go. They were both officers, and duty came first. There was a certain amount of logic in sending Caradan in. It didn't make her like it any better. She frowned, then tried not to frown. "Well, don't make me kill all the Klingons too." She said trying to make a joke and failing.
Caradan found the attempt at humor in that and gave a single nasal laugh. “Believe me, once the damage has been done, I think the Klingons, of the SoK that is, will be killing each other. I do have to ensure that you do not tell anyone else. Only the commander knows. I told Mindo as well. I wanted you to know because…well, you know I love you and I hope you know how much you mean to me.”
Caradan did not want to suddenly be gone, similar to how Ziara was torn from Riaan’s arms. She wanted to let Riaan know where she was and the dangers she faced. Not that it would help her worry any less, but at least she knew all that was knowable at the moment.
Riaan felt warm and safe in Caradan's arms. She nodded, "I can keep a secret. We've put you through your paces over the last few months. I only hope that I've helped you learn enough tricks to survive. You need someone to watch your back." There was a short silence, "I should go with you." She suggested.
Caradan could not imagine Riaan in such a situation. “These are Klingons bent on ending the Empire. They are xenophobic and would probably kill you for the fun of it. Worse yet, to test my loyalty, they may even want me to kill you.” Caradan was shaking her head. “I have to go this alone.” For what she had in mind, it was better to have as few along as possible. Alone was best. “Trust me, this will work. My chance of success is greater the fewer that go along. Once the damage is done, I will be on my way back or I will drop a signal for the Tornado to pick me up. There is risk…yes…but there is too much at stake not to take this risk.” She rubbed both of Riaan’s arms. “I’m coming back. I promise.”
Riaan sighed, Caradan was probably right. "Fine, but I should do something. Make a tracker or transmitter we can use to find you. They don't generally scan for geodesic radiation. We could make a burst transmitter, so they would only detect it if they were watching for it at the moment you transmitted it." Riaan said, but not really making a move to leave Caradan's embrace.
Caradan nodded. “That would be great.” She felt the possibility existed that she could find herself in some sort of trouble. Every avenue of escape or to be found should be explored. “Make it quick. We’ve no idea how long these SoK ships will be docked and I need to get aboard one as soon as possible.”
For another moment though, both Riaan and Caradan remained where they were, not moving a bit, holding each other and feeling each other’s warmth and love.