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Years Prior - Cardassian DMZ - Norvella Colony - When Titans Meet, Thunder Comes

Posted April 4, 2021, noon by Civilian Sinayda Nyx (Governor's Aid) (D Grisham)

“Ms. Nyx, a moment… if I may?” and he gestured to one of the two chairs by the fireplace as he shut the trapdoor and replaced the rug.

Hyrushi, Negotiator

One, perfectly shaped eyebrow raised, wondering what he would accost her with now that the others weren’t around. Taking the seat more facing the door than naught, Nyx sat carefully on the chair. “Something else?” The sarcasm was barely discernable in her voice.

—Nyx

Kenzo sat slowly, his black eyes looking intently at her. “I know that you are not pleased with these… circumstances. And for that I want to apologize. I have heard many whispers about you, Ms. Nyx. From our people and the occupiers… both occupiers, actually. Your reputation is… formidable. I will admit to a certain level of skepticism, however, and I would simply like to ask… and, please, I mean absolutely no disrespect… if you feel your reputation is well-earned?” His eyes didnt leave hers and he quietly sipped his tea.

Hyrushi, Negotiator

Interesting question. “I believe most of what I’ve heard is accurate.” She leaned forward a bit and gestured with open arms. “Every story ever told has received some enhancement from at least one or two of the tellers, so you should know that I can’t actually disappear. I’m just good at melting into the background. Was there something in particular that concerns you?” She swiped at an errant drop of rain that slid down the smooth skin of her temple.

—Nyx

Kenzo looked at her intently for a long a moment and then gave a terse kind of smile. “No, no. I am just… ensuring… we have every possible chance at success. The Cardassisans are not fools, nor are they easily outwitted. I have heard the stories told about you. And while I am aware that certain liberties were taken in the retelling, it is reassuring to know that you believe in yourself as much as your associates do.”

Kenzo crossed one knee over the other and took a sip of tea. He then set the cup on the arm of the chair, balancing it perfectly on the first try. “Do you have any questions about our task before we call it a night, Ms. Nyx? Or about me, for that matter?”

Hyrushi, Negotiator

It was their first meeting and a surprise to her that the mission would only use the two of them. “If I may be so bold—if you and I are the only ones entering into the Cardassian encampment, why are the others even here?” She made an eye motion to the floor where the others were hiding below. “Also, what attributes do you bring with you on the mission? In truth, I haven’t heard much about you—just a general description of the kind of man people think you are.” Nyx sipped her tea, wondering what he might reveal about himself. “Am I just setting a bomb or am I tasked with protecting you also?”

—Nyx

Kenzo smiled and said “Pointed questions, yes… but also not uncalled for. First, the others are here because I needed to meet you and get your assistance in this task; and it was only through those intermediaries that I could. And as I am sure you are aware, once involved… many of our people don’t extricate themselves when they should. So… guests they are now. And will remain until you and I are done. As to what I bring…” and he took a deep breath.

“One is that the Cardassians know me. I have dealt with them since the Federation abandoned us. I have earned their patience, and perhaps a modicum of their respect… at least from most. I am also an empath, a gift from my mother’s people. I am actually quite adept at using it. That allows me to not only negotiate better, but also to sense any deception. I can also tell how many people are within a given area… for instance, a building. That can provide certain advantages, as I am sure you can appreciate. And to your last inquiry: If everything goes according to plan, yes, you will just be planting the explosive. And while I certainly have learned to take care of myself, I would hope you won’t leave me to the wolves if things become… complicated.” and he smiled and picked up his tea.

So…she was going to be responsible for him. Sin didn’t outwardly show any displeasure at the thought, but she couldn’t do anything about what he might sense from her given his empathic gifts.

“I am curious, though… what is it people say about me? And feel free to be honest… I have developed a thick skin negotiating with the Cardassians.” and he gave her a friendly wink.

Hyrushi, Negotiator

She sipped her tea before answering. “They say you are a fair man. That description alone was enough to interest me. In my line of work, fair isn’t something you run across very often. A few have mentioned your Japanese heritage, always including the words honor and respect in the same sentence. Two more traits I don’t have the pleasure of dealing with often enough.” She searched her memory for other things she might have heard, but most of the comments were included in what she’d already told him.

“A human I spoke with used the word intense when he described you, but I got no mentions of fighting skills or intimidation.” Here Sin shrugged. “It’s alright, though. I’m used to shouldering that load during missions.”

—Nyx

Kenzo nodded slightly and smiled. “I can assure you, Ms. Nyx. It is a load we will both share. I do not expect anyone to take risks I myself would not. And again, there is every possibility that things go as planned and we simply go in, plant the device, and leave.” and he softly laughed. “All though I do not expect everything to go exactly as is planned. They rarely do.” and he took a drink of tea, finishing the cup.

Setting the cup aside, he said “You are welcome to join the others and sleep if you wish, but there is room up here if you like as well.” and he gestured to the part of the floor that had the pallet of blankets that most homes in the region used for a bed. “I will remain up here and go over things a few more times before I try to sleep. Either way, I bid you a good evening Ms. Nyx. And… I am very happy to have met you. I wish it could have been under… less constrained… circumstances.” and he stood and bowed towards her before turning his attention to the plans of the city and the water treatment plant.

Hyrushi, Negotiator

So, she was dismissed. It was a very nice dismissal, but the message was the same. He was done with conversation for the evening and would turn his attentions to studying the mission details. She gave him a nod and moved over to the pallet on the floor. The only preparation she made for sleep was to divest herself of the heavy vest she wore, hanging it on the back of a chair to dry by the fire. Before lying down, she produced a bone handled dagger from the waistband at the back of her pants and tucked it, blade inward, beneath her right buttock and the pallet so only the handle stuck out.

Pushing the end of the blankets together, Nyx fashioned a pillow of sorts and laid down. She would sleep for an hour or two before studying the plans again and rousting up some kind of coffee. It was only necessary for one of them to be awake at a time. As she lay in the quiet room, she watched Hyrushi through thick lashes. He was an interesting man…

—Nyx

Hyrushi studied the plans for another hour, aware of the surveillance from the pallet, but not acknowledging it. When he was satisfied, he rolled up the plans and walked over to the pallet and shoved them under the side opposite Nyx and took off his belt and laid down next to her.

Norvella was a very communal planet, and it was not uncommon for strangers to share sleeping quarters or even sleep next to one another. While the practice had led to some… misunderstandings… from time to time (usually after heavy drinking of the local spirits); the vast majority of the time people simply slept. Custom was that when people were sleeping next to each other, both parties were responsible for the well-being of the other. The custom had evolved over time as a way for people of the colony to show trust for one another. In fact, refusing to sleep next to someone was considered an insult of the highest order. It said they were not trustworthy.

Hyrushi, Negotiator

As she was still awake and fully expected his company on the pallet, Nyx didn’t move as he made himself comfortable. Her breathing didn’t change, it was deep and even, giving the appearance of sleep to any but the most observant. Once he found his position and lay still, her cognac eyes opened. Hyrushi lay to her left, on his side, with his back towards her. The meaning of the position was not lost on the Maquis. He had put himself in a very vulnerable position with her next to him in the bed, even though he was more than likely fully aware of the blade beneath her backside. The man was offering her trust.

Nyx allowed herself a small smile. They were new to each other, but in both their lines of work, you had to be able to get a feel, very quickly, for who you were dealing with, or you would suffer the consequences. It pleased her to know that Hyrushi found her trustworthy. In fact, it pleased her a little more than it ought to.

Kenzo felt her ease and acceptance and a small sigh escaped him as he settled down. He did trust her, no reason not to. But her acceptance of that trust eased his mind about the next day.

Thickly lashed eyes closed once again and she settled to rest. The sounds of the storm outside and the occasional pop of the dying fire kept her company for the next few hours.

—Nyx

It was just before dawn and Kenzo was at the fireplace getting food ready. While not nearly the fighter that Nyx’s reputation led him to believe she was; he had no small amount of talent in moving quietly and unseen when the need arose.

Flat brown bread cooked on a slate cooking surface, and two eggs from one of the local domesticated birds sat in circles cut into the bread; the red yolk firming up around the edges and blue ‘white’ of the egg bubbling slightly. Kenzo grated a black cheese onto the top and let it slowly melt as he added salt and a bit of pepper. The tea pot steamed happily and the table had been set for two. Kenzo hummed softly and let the cheese melt fully before starting to plate it.

Hyrushi, Negotiator

Sin came awake with a rush, dagger in hand and a quiet gasp on her lips. When had she fallen asleep? Her eyes traced the room for any threats but found none so they returned to the man by the fire. As she watched Hyrushi prepare food, her left hand moved over the blankets beside her and found no warmth there. She concluded he had been up for a while then. Since all seemed to be right with their surroundings, the Maquis slid the blade back into its sheath behind her back and stood. She hadn’t removed any clothing or boots the night before, so, except for the vest, she was ready.

“That smells wonderful, but please tell me you have coffee?”

—Nyx

Without turning around, he said “I am afraid not, but I do have a strong black tea that is very similar. Best I could do. Apologies. Please have a seat, Ms. Nyx. Breakfast is almost ready.

A moment later he turned with two plates, one in hand and one balanced on his forearm. He walked to the table and set one plate in front of her and one opposite before moving back to the fire. He came back with two cups of a dark, almost black liquid that smelled almost like coffee, but a bit sweeter. “Mavbin tea. This area is known for it. Similar to coffee, but with about fifty percent more caffeine. So don’t go too crazy. Your blade hand will be all over the place.” and he smiled slightly and took a seat. “I take it you slept well?”

Hyrushi, Negotiator

Nyx sat and looked at the colorful breakfast he’d prepared. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an egg like this before,” was all she said as she eagerly awaited the cup of tea. Taking her first sip when he made the comment about sleep, Sin nearly choked as she thought he was implying she’d let her guard down. Well, she had, hadn’t she? Nothing to do about it now except acknowledge it and move on. “I must have been more tired than I thought, or decided to trust your skills in a fight, sight unseen.” She would let him sort it out if he wanted to.

After another sip of the strong tea, she began eating. “My blade hand is rarely affected by stimulants or depressants that I put into my own body. I know my limits.” She wasn’t offended by his remark, but thought it wise to dispel any worries he might have.

“By the way…a few of the weapons I carry have meaning for me. Will they be safe if I leave them here?”

—Nyx

Kenzo nodded slightly and said “Fatigue. It happens to the best of us from time to time. And the egg is a staple of Norvella. Has a nice natural heat to it. I take it you are not native to our colony?” he asked. “Oh, and your weapons will be fine here. There is a place for them I will show you before we leave.” and he took a bite of the bread by cutting into it and the egg and cheese.

Nyx shook her head when asked if she was a native to the planet. “My mother was human, but my father was Rocqi. I was raised on his world.” It was just enough information to establish her ‘home’, but she shared nothing else.

“I was born here on Norvella. It is my home. I know that the Maquis are not an isolated group, and we are quite thankful for their assistance.” and a dark cloud passed over his face. “I wonder how they will take to the news that I have given up the identity of one of their own. We are already fighting the Cardassians and the Federation. Both use us as pawns against the other. At least the Maquis are not as fickle. I do not want to alienate them… well… you particularly. Will there be an issue between us today with my divulging of such news, Ms. Nyx?”

Hyrushi, Negotiator

Finished with the egg dish, Sin picked up the cup of tea with both hands. She studied the negotiator silently for a moment. “I’ve had several hours to think it over and find that this morning I am more hesitant to give up Smoke’s identity. You know he is considered to be a ‘hero’ by the Maquis?”

—Nyx

Kenzo took a bite and chewed slowly; his black, pupiless eyes fixed on her. Swallowing, he took a drink and nodded. “And I do not fault you for that hesitation. In fact, I would be more concerned if you were not hesitant. All I can tell you is this: Negotiations for the water have begun in good faith. We have made our position quite clear. Without that water, hundreds will suffer. Farms will die along with the food so many have little of to begin with right now. Villages will become unsustainable. And if my people don’t die, they will be forced into servitude to the Cardassians. The Cardassians, in turn, have made their position clear as well. They want Smoke. And they will kill hundreds to get that information. Water is life… and they control it. Now -” and he set his cup aside and folded his hands on the table, “- I could give them the information, and they could simply refuse to turn on the water. I could demand the water first and then give them the information when it reached the people… and then they would simply shut it off again. Neither of these possibilities is outside the realm of reality for the Cardassians. So… it is up to you and I to ensure that the cost of the information is not finite or at their discretion. Thus an in-person meeting. Verification of the water flowing. Then the release of the identity of Smoke. The evidence I have is concrete, so they will not doubt it. Then the charge ensures that the water keeps flowing. Everyone at the table gets what they want, and no one can try to… renegotiate. The only one at risk is Smoke, and the people are provided for. I sincerely doubt that Smoke will mind the trade. After all… do they not fight for the people?”

Hyrushi

While chewing the inside corner of her bottom lip, Nyx nodded. “Yes, the Maquis do fight for the people—especially, Smoke.” Rising with a sigh, she headed over to the fire and the teapot to refill her cup. Carrying both to the table, she set her cup down and look at the negotiator. “More?”

Kenzo shook his head and said “No thank you.”

Once she’d returned the pot to the fire she scooted her chair back from the table a bit more and sat, crossing one leg over the other. “No doubt if he were here, he would encourage this mission, but the idea of giving his identity to the Cardassians, freely, doesn’t set well with me. I understand you are weighing one life against hundreds, but…” Nyx worked the muscles in her neck and shoulders by leaning her head from side to side and back to front. After a loud pop, she licked her full lips and washed down the bad taste in her mouth with a swallow of tea.

“You won’t have an issue with me today, Negotiator. The people need water to survive. Even if I don’t like it, I can still see this is our only option at the moment.”

—Nyx

Kenzo nodded. “And please know… this is not what I want, either. I have heard of the actions they have taken. Their impact and protectiveness of the people is not unnoticed. But… as you said… it is our only option at the moment.” A soft chime sounded from a chrono on the mantle above the fire. Kenzo said “It is time. Our transport will be here within the next half-hour. Please prepare yourself, Ms. Nyx.” and he stood and walked over to the far wall.

He removed the loose fitting robe he had on to reveal a short-sleeved shirt of a light brown color, standard for the people of Norvella. What wasn’t standard was the bandage around his left forearm, fresh blood slightly visible on the inside arm part of the white fabric. He reached up and pulled a soft green leather jacket off a hook on the wall and pulled it on. He then ensured his hair was pulled back and secure.

She hadn’t known he was already wounded and going into a a dangerous situation. “Where can I leave my weapons?”

—Nyx

“Ah yes, apologies.” and he moved to the fireplace. He reached to the side and pulled on a stone and a section swung away to reveal a half-closet lined in metal. “Here, they will be safe in here. And it’s protected from scanners.” and he stepped aside to let access the space.

Moving into the space he’d previously occupied, Sin began divesting herself of all weapons on her person. Blades, needles, their pointy ends capped with wax, something akin to a garrote and six very small vials with individual contents. The last item laid in the small room was the bone handled knife from her waistband. Whispering a phrase in Rocqi, she wished them well and promised to return.

“I will meet you outside. And don’t worry about our friends below. They are quite safe until our return.”

Hyrushi

Sin was dragging on the heavy vest as she left the house to join up with Hyroshi. “I feel practically naked now.” She commented.

—Nyx

Without missing so much as a beat, Kenzo shrugged and said flatly “Then perhaps you should keep the Cardassian Prefect distracted and I will plant the charge.” He then thrust his chin in the direction of the road as a ground vehicle with a low, flat bed on the back rolled up. A human male sat at the controls and he looked at Hyrushi and said “All is set.” and jerked his thumb towards the back of the vehicle.

“Very funny.” Nyx said .

Kenzo nodded and then walked to the truck and climbed up onto the bed and sat with his back against the back of the cab.

As the two of them settled in, he said “Four hours to get to the town. Keep your eyes open till then.” and the truck started to roll down the winding road.

Hyrushi

Seated less than a foot away from Hyrushi, she looked over. “Do you expect trouble? Don’t the Cardassian’s know we are coming?” Inspecting the man’s form next to her and not seeing the wooden box from the night before, she had another question. “By the way…where is the explosive I am to plant?”

—Nyx

“Trouble from the Cardassians, no. But the people here are low on food and have little hope for a decent crop yield. Some have resorted to robbing from traveling vehicles. And the charge is under the wheel well where I climbed on. The driver is not aware of our cargo, so there are less opportunities for things to slip. Also, when we arrive, the Cardassians will search us first, then the truck before we are allowed in. We climb down, get inspected, climb up and retrieve the device, they inspect the truck, we go on our way… at least I hope so. Otherwise this will be a short stop at the check point. Once inside the Cardassian perimeter, we will be treated with a bit less hostility.”

Hyrushi

Nyx always carried some kind of money—usually gold pressed latinum that had been melted down and fashioned into half inch coins. A few were loose in her pocket, but some had been sewn into the lining of her vest, well hidden from any physical search she might undergo. Hearing that the Cardassian’s would be very thorough, she began picking at one of the threads holding a seam closed.

“Well, that sounds good in theory. Let’s hope they put their eye somewhere else than on us when we retrieve the device.”

The next hour passed in relative silence between them.

—Nyx

Indeed, the next few passed quietly. Other than some other very sparse encounters with farming vehicles and some wildlife, the rip was uneventful. Almost exactly on time, the truck began to slow and the window between cab and bed slid open. “We’re almost there. Get ready. They’ll have us on scanners already, visual in about a minute.” the driver said and slid the window shut.

Kenzo stretched slightly, wincing and touching his arm where the bandage sat under the sleeve of his coat. He leaned around the right side of the cab and peered ahead for a long moment and then sat back. “Checkpoint ahead. Here we go.” he said, his voice calm but his eyes glinting in the light.

As the truck slowed, a voice came over a loud speaker. “Vehicle, halt. By order of the Cardassian Authority, you will submit your vehicle and all occupants to search. Contraband and weapons will be seized and holders arrested by order of Prefect K’matr.” The truck came to a stop and Kenzo looked at Nyx… and grinned. Moving over to the side of the truck where the device was hidden, Kenzo slid off the side and stood against the truck next to the wheel well. Three Cardassian troopers in armor walked to the vehicle, disruptor rifles held low, but at the ready.

“A most auspicious and good morning to you. I am the negotiator sent to meet with Prefect K’matr, Kenzo B’tren-Hyrushi. My assistant, Kaldrina Faue.” and he gestured to Nyx. “We are expected, I believe.”

One of the guards tapped the side of his helmet and muttered something and then waited. After a moment, he said loudly “You are expected, Negotiator. Before you pass, we will search you and your vehicle.” and the other two moved forward and motioned for the driver to get out. He complied and stood next to Kenzo. “Arms up and out.” said the guard and he started to pat down the driver after the driver extended his arms. The second guard moved to search Hyrushi. They patted down each arm, causing Kenzo’s jaw to clench but he didn’t make a sound, then moved all around his body. They were, indeed, thorough; and after the pat down they used a scanner on each of them.

Once done with the driver, the first guard moved to Nyx. “Arms up and out.” he reiterated almost by habit and began to repeat the process.

Hyrushi

The new name was a surprise, but she knew how to school her face not to show it. Cardassians were an unattractive species, but not as bad as Nausicans. Steeling herself for their touch, Nyx did as she was told and raised her arms away from her sides. She kept her gaze forward while they groped at her and made her glad she’d divested herself of every weapon back at the house. She was actually curious to see if they let her keep the coins that now jingled in her pocket.

—Nix/Faue

The second guard looked at Kenzo and the driver and said “You’re clear.” at the same time the fingers of the first guard felt the metal coins in Nyx’s pockets. “Empty your pockets.” and the second guard looked over as Kenzo climbed back onto the bed.

As the guards examined the coins and ran a scanner over them, Kenzo said “My deepest apologies, but could we hurry, please? I do not wish to keep your Prefect waiting.” The guards looked at one another and the second one shrugged and made a face before picking up larger, rolling scanner and prepared to run it along the sides of the truck and underneath. He stopped and looked at Kenzo and said in an exasperated tone “Get off the truck, will you? I have to inspect it.” Kenzo looked properly chagrined and said “My mistake. I forgot.” and he hopped down. The guard ran the scanner over the truck and underneath it.

As he did, the first handed the coins back to Nyx. “Get back in your vehicle, please. Your escort will be here in a moment.” A few moments later, the guard finished his scan of the vehicle. “Ok. Now you can get back in. Wait here for your escort.” Kenzo nodded and climbed back up and settled down, and the driver climbed back into the cab as the guards walked back to their post at the barrier across the road.

Hyrushi

As they settled once again in the back, Nyx spoke in a whisper. “Well, that went much better than I thought it would.” Even she hadn’t seen Hyrushi retrieve the device from its place beneath the truck.

While they waited for the escort, she retrieved the square of material from her pocket and wrapped her head and face, only leaving her eyes uncovered. “Even a little bit of anonymity is better than none. People know who you are, but my identity isn’t important so I’d rather not be remembered.”

—Nyx


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