The Dark Lead

Taarkhul Prime, Mokk City. The Program

Canessa buried her face in her hands and began to sob, Trek watched her, struggling with his own emotions for several moments,
before placing a consoling hand on her shoulder.

"Don't!" she flinched, and Trek stepped back. "Just...don't."

The K'tan simply sat there and watched the screen with numbed eyes and tearing cheeks. The lawyer placed his hands in his now empty
pockets and listened to the woman silently cry. Finally, she seemed to calm herself and looked back at the Archaen.

"I was in the process of backing up my data when Waf'fic contacted
me and arranged this meeting with you."

She glanced back at the monitor.

"I was only about one quarter of the way done. I've lost
everything, Mr. Trek. Every letter...every holo-correspondent
clip my husband ever sent to me... gone... poof!"

and she mimed the last word with her hands, then whispered.

"Taken by the assassin. I've nothing left now. My husband is truly gone."

She looked directly at the lawyer, or through him, Trek couldn't tell, then reached into her robe and withdrew another Data-crystal.

"Here." Cameron gave her a questioning look.

"I'm not stupid, Mr. Trek. This is the back up for the data I just showed you."

She placed it in his hand. "You made a copy before meeting me?" said the Lawyer. A smile came over her face, the first one he'd seen from her.

"Wouldn't you?"

"Mrs. Kern, I could kiss you!"

But her smile tighten and she looked down.

"You... you better go now, Mr. Trek. You can take the sub back to
the surface. I have to stay and destroy this place."

Cameron started to protest, but Canessa cut him off with a wave of her hand.

"Don't worry, I have another way out."

But the Lawyer's look lingered on her with genuine worry and concern.

"You sure you'll be okay?"

"I'm a big girl, I can take care of myself," she said with her best game face. Nonetheless, Trek's gaze lingered. Finally, he reached into his jacket,
pulled out his bill fold, removed one of his Page-cards and handed it to her.

"Mrs. Kern, sometimes when a person looses everything, that's a
good place for a beginning."

Canessa stood up and looked at the card.

"I can see to it that you are placed into the Archaen Witness
Protection Program. No more running, no more hiding. The
Kelshran will never find you."

"I wish I could believe that," she said. "Then call me," replied the lawyer.

Canessa nodded and took the card. "Why are you doing this?" she asked with open suspicion. Trek nearly laughed.

"Mrs. Kern, if the information in this Crystal proves true, you
may have just saved this entire section of the Galaxy. I think
protecting you is the least we can do."

Canessa shook her head.

"That's not why I did this." She stepped closer.

"Waf'fic said he'd send me someone who could do the job."

"...Do the job?" said Trek in a worried voice.

"I want you to kill the Kelshran, Mr. Trek."

"Me?!" He was astonished.

Canessa nodded.

"He'll be coming after you eventually. At this point it's either
you... or him."

Trek tried not to voice all the choice words he had for Waf'fic. He calmed himself and looked at her.

"No choice then?"

"You could always run, but you don't strike me as that kind of man."

Trek crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm not."

"Then you'll do it!"

*Or die trying,* he thought. He gave a curt nod, and Canessa smiled again, this one better than before.

"Thank you Mr. Trek!" She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek.

"I'll think about your offer, and call you in a couple of days."

Trek could still feel the warmth of her kiss on his cool cheek.

"Take care of yourself, Mrs. Kern," he said

Canessa turned and walked down a narrow corridor. Glow-lamps winked off behind her until she was lost in the darkness.

______________________________________________________________________

The sub bobbed to the surface three miles from the docking gate where Trek first boarded the cargo-ferry. The lawyer idled the craft to a
rocky shore and ran it aground. Leaving the canopy open, he set the controls for dive and shoved the craft off with a strong leg push.

The Archaen tighten his jacket. The sun was just coming up, and storm birds where already diving through the rose colored sky. Taking a
moment to get his bearing, he began to walk. It was a full hours hike to the meeting point, and Victoria was there waiting for him, standing next
to a hovering gravity-car along with half a dozen Imperial Marines. Her expression was far from pleasant. Trek tried to smile.

"I take it you got my note," he began with a sheepish grin. She held up the item in question.

"Yes, your note!" she shouted, and marched towards him until she was fully in his face.

"What possessed you to run off in the middle of the night on some
suicide mission without telling me?!"

Trek tried to swallow the knot of tension in his throat.

"I didn't want to wake you. You needed the sleep."

"I need you more, you moron!!" and she wrapped her arms around his waist and tightly hugged him.

"Are you all right?" she whispered as she felt his arms encircle her shoulders.

"I feel like shit," said the lawyer in an exhausted voice.

"You smell worse," said Vicki. Trek nodded. He was sure every pore on his body was filled with brackish slime.

"Right, shower for me when we get home. Let's go."

Vicki hand signaled the Marines with her Sensor Glove and the Archaen Sergeant snapped a crisp salute before ordering the troops back into their
Hover carrier tweet meters away. The couple walked back to the car.

"What happened out there?" asked Victoria as Trek climbed into the passenger side, but the lawyer shook his head.

"No, not here. I'll explain everything when we get back to DreamWorld."

Vicki got in the driver's side and took the controls. The Craft hovered higher off the ground and headed in the direction of the municipal star-port
followed closely by the troop carrier. They rode in silence for a while.

"Cam... it was strange waking up and not finding you this morning.
I didn't like it."

She pulled into the main flyway and accelerate.

"I guess what I'm trying to say is...you don't really know what to
expect from one day to the next with this war coming on...
like... how much time we have together."

She took a serious breath, and said,

"Cam, I'd like us to think about..."

But a loud snore cut through the air, and Victoria looked over and saw the lawyer was fast asleep with his mouth half way opened. The AiD Commander
smiled to herself, and continued to drive. She sighed, wondering what it was like to sleep without a care in the world.