Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek, though MACO Lt. Kaitlyn Donovan does belong to me.
Thank you to Hummingbird2, Just a Crazy-Man, bina W, LoyaulteMeLie, SerendipityInSerendipity, and jeangreyten for the reviews, and to all of you that are reading and following this story.
All's Fair in Love and War
"Cole? Corporal Cole - can you hear this?" a voice called to her and pulled her out of her sleep. Amanda Cole sat up and looked around the cave. "Corporal Cole this is MACO Command, can you hear this?" Major Hayes inquired again over the communication device a few feet from her.
She stood up and activated the device, "This is Corporal Cole - I read you loud and clear." she replied.
"Good to hear. We are sending an EVAC team to your location, how is Ambassador Soval?"
"Ambassador Soval is injured, but I have repaired as many of his injuries as I could." she stated as she glanced to the Ambassador.
"And your status?" Hayes questioned.
"I will be fine. ETA of the EVAC team?" she asked.
"EVAC team will be there in two minutes." Major Hayes replied.
"Roger that, two minutes. Cole out." she deactivated the device as her attention focused on the Ambassador.
Soval stood up and raised an eyebrow, "The MACOs have located us?"
She nodded, "Yes, Sir." She took a deep breath, "It was a privilege to be your guard, Ambassador. I regret not doing a better job, I'm sure your next guard will do better."
Both his eyebrows disappeared into his hairline, "Why would I get another guard?" he inquired.
It was her turn to look at him as if he'd lost his mind, "I'm sure I will be reassigned, since you were kidnapped on my watch, Ambassador." Amanda stated.
"You could not have prevented me from being transported away. You did show your unwavering duty when you transported with me. I will not allow you to be punished for something you could not control." Soval stated.
Amanda shrugged slightly, "I don't know that they will see things from your point of view, Ambassador."
Ambassador Soval clasped his hands gently behind his back and lifted his chin, "Then I must make them see this situation from my point of view." he replied.
Corporal Amanda Cole walked to the entrance of the cave as she saw the shuttle land and six MACOs quickly emerged from the hatch. She glanced back at the Ambassador, "Are you well enough to climb back down this cliff?"
"Yes." Soval stated and indicated for her to start the climb down first. He had meditated last night and realized that Corporal Cole's protective actions must have caused the emotional response within him. That was the only logical conclusion.
0830 - Section 31 Facilities
Harris slammed his hand on the desk as he stood up quickly, "Why the hell did it take you so long to find this out?" he demanded.
The young Lieutenant frowned, "I'm sorry, Sir - but we had over seven thousand communications to go through." he pointed out.
Harris picked up his PADD and went through the information, "They are arriving at Rangel IV today, hurry up and get all of this information coded and send it through the channels so it gets to them at their hotel." He looked at the young officer, "Don't let this happen again, if you need more people to help analyze data - request them."
The Lieutenant nodded and left quickly.
Harris frowned as he crossed his arms. There were two people on the ship in contact with known Terra Prime members, and one of them was in direct contact with Paxton. Unfortunately, they didn't know who, since the messages went through the ship's communication hub. But they did have the routing numbers, and maybe Reed and Donovan could figure out who those routing numbers belong to when they got back to the ship. The Steels would have to be overly cautious around everyone until they found out who had been sending those messages.
Rangel IV - Turtle Cove Resort
The Steels walked into the hotel's opulent entrance and headed for the Registration counter.
The well-groomed middle aged man looked up quickly and smiled brightly to them, "Mr. and Mrs. Steel?" he questioned.
Malcolm nodded and kept his hand on Kaitlyn's back protectively. "Yes, I believe you have a villa for us?" he checked.
"Yes, Mr. Steel. All of your requests have been fulfilled. We are here to make your stay a most pleasurable one. I am Stekth, the Manager of Turtle Cove Resort - allow me to show you to your villa." Stekth indicated for another worker to take his place at the counter as he came around and led them out the massive doors to the winding path past pools and hot tubs to the secluded villas along the beach. Stekth opened the door and indicated for them to enter first, then handed Malcolm the two entry cards after he closed the door. "This is your living and dining area." He indicated the room to the left, "Your Master Suite." Then he walked them to the sliding glass doors and opened them. "This is your private terrace, a few steps away are your lounge chairs and the ocean." Stekth bowed to both of them, "We have a listing of the many activities and places to visit on the monitors. We will be happy to make all of your arrangements."
Malcolm thanked the manager and walked him back to the door.
Kaitlyn stood at the railing and watched as the ocean waves rolled in about thirty feet from their villa. She was tired - not physically tired, but definitely mentally exhausted from the stress of being on the job for seven days. She glanced back into the villa and saw Malcolm going around the room with a scanner. She turned her attention back to the ocean and sighed softly. Did they really both want to venture into a relationship that would more than likely cease in a month because of the nature of their jobs? She wasn't really certain that she could even commit to any kind of relationship, even for only a brief amount of time. Hell, she showered in the dark - what kind of relationship could she really offer? She closed her eyes tightly as her mind unleashed the unwanted memory of large green hands choking her. She could feel her breathing becoming more constricted in her chest. She clenched her fists tightly and willed the intruding memories to go away. I'm alive, I'm safe, I'm fine she kept repeating to herself until she could open her eyes once again. She took a deep breath and headed to the beach. She kicked off her sandals and walked over to the waves as they rolled in. She stood in the white sand and allowed the water to lap over her feet. It was calming, and she tried to gain strength from its affect.
Malcolm had swept the villa for any visual or auditory devices and found none. He had watched as Kaitlyn had stood at the railing on the terrace. She looked distressed, but she quickly regained her composure and headed out to the beach. He swallowed hard. He knew something horrible had happened to her. Horrible enough that she had a scar from it that she wouldn't reveal. Something so life altering that she believed that she wasn't worthy of any affection bestowed upon her. He thought he was finally getting her to open up to him last night, but this morning she'd reverted to old habits and kept her thoughts from reaching him. He walked down to the beach and stopped beside her and watched the waves as they came crashing onto the sand. He could feel an uneasiness start to build in him, being this close to such a large water mass.
Kaitlyn turned and raised an eyebrow in concern, she could feel his uneasiness growing. "Malcolm, you don't have to come out here with me. Let's go back in." she suggested and started to walk.
Malcolm reached for her hand, "You like it out here - I can deal with my discomfort." he explained.
She shook her head and watched him carefully, "Let's at least move back to the chaise lounges." she advised. She kept hold of his hand and walked him back to the chaises and indicated for him to sit down on one, then she laid back on the other. She closed her eyes and tried to relax, but found that she could not settle her mind from the images it had brought back to the surface just a little while ago. She turned her head and found that Malcolm was still sitting up and he was watching her intently. Kaitlyn turned on her side to face him, "Are you sure that you're interested in me?" she asked.
"Why do you doubt me?" he questioned. He needed to know what had happened to her. "I know whatever happened to you has impacted you greatly - but please don't doubt how I feel about you."
She nodded slowly and laid back. She closed her eyes and sighed softly. "Last year, I was on a mission for Harris - it was almost a month after Alpha Centauri. I was sent to Mobius Prime to check on rumors of weapons being bought by an arms dealer with ties to the Orion Syndicate." She frowned, "I found Attucks and got close to him and his group. That's when Harris had me start building explosives, so that I could infiltrate Attucks' network and find out why he was amassing weapons. Unfortunately, the Orions he worked with were intrigued with my abilities to build explosives and kidnapped me." She opened her eyes quickly when Malcolm sat down on her chaise next to her hips, his eyes were filled with concern. She shrugged slightly, "They claimed me as their slave. They branded me and beat me until I acquiesced and agreed to build them a bomb."
Malcolm's mouth went dry as her words sunk in. They branded her - the scar. He'd seen almost all of her body and hadn't seen it. "Where did they brand you?" he asked softly, afraid that if he spoke too loudly, she'd shut him out.
Kaitlyn's frown deepened. "On my left breast - where I would be reminded that I was their property and any man that dared to get close to me would know that I was damaged goods." she bit her lip and shook her head. She was furious at what they had done to her, but she was more ashamed of what she'd done to escape.
Malcolm's brows furrowed. How could they brand her? It was barbaric! People were not property - but obviously the Orions thought differently. He reached for her hand and held it gently. He could feel her trepidation, her fear that he wouldn't be able to look at her again the same way he had before. "I can't fathom going through what you did. But you escaped?" he inquired gently.
Kaitlyn nodded, "I built the bomb they wanted, then I manipulated one of them, got to a shuttle and had him blow up their ship." she looked up at Malcolm slowly. Other than her inhumane treatment, that was what the scar really reminded her of - the fact that she could manipulate someone to such an extreme.
Malcolm watched as the scene played out in her mind. She'd touched the Orion male's face and spoke to his mind to push the detonation button in two minutes. She'd placed the bomb in his hand, then got on the shuttle. He saw the explosion of the ship and felt her conflicted emotions wash over her. She was glad they were dead, but she regretted having to kill them. Not all of them had been abusive to her, especially not the one she'd handed the bomb to. Malcolm blinked and returned his focus on her, realizing that she was waiting for his reaction. "You did what you had to do to escape, Kaitlyn. How long were you kidnapped?"
"Three weeks, four days, eight hours, and twenty-six minutes." she whispered. She'd always had an affinity for keeping track of time. The curse was that she could always recall every minute of what happened to her. She quickly tried to suppress her memories before Malcolm could see them.
Malcolm rubbed his thumb gently over her hand, "Kaitlyn, I can't undo what they did to you - but I want to show you that you are not damaged goods. Please, let me." he requested.
Kaitlyn sat up and watched him carefully as she searched through his feelings. He wasn't repulsed and he wasn't afraid. He was concerned, but most of all - he was falling in love with her. She raised an eyebrow as he smirked.
"So? What if I am?" he asked.
"Malcolm, our jobs will take us away from each other - probably in another month when we get back to Earth." she pointed out to him.
He shrugged, "Maybe, maybe not." He wasn't going to let her give up on their relationship before it even got started. "Are you afraid?" he questioned.
"Yes." she admitted. "Not of you." she added quickly. "I just haven't allowed myself to get close to anyone - ever, I told you I get bombarded by people's thoughts and I find it disturbing."
"But, you told me that I don't disturb you like that - right?" he touched her upper arm gently, wanting to make sure that what she'd told him still held true.
"Your thoughts do not disturb me - though some of them do distract me to no end." she smiled wistfully.
Malcolm smiled and touched her cheek gently, "Well you distract me, so it's only fair." He glanced at her lips as she bit her lower lip. He leaned closer and kissed her slowly, just like he had in their dream. He pulled back a few inches, as he could feel her feelings for him erupt in her mind. She was having a hard time re-focusing her thoughts on where they were at the moment.
"Not fair." she shook her head slowly. He could easily distract her.
He glanced at his watch, "Let's go get lunch - we'll continue this later." he kissed her once more. He stood up and offered her a hand.
Kaitlyn stood up and watched him carefully, "Promise?"
Malcolm nodded, "I promise." He led her back to the villa and called the front desk and requested a lunch reservation at the hotel restaurant. He clicked off the monitor and he grinned as he sat down on the couch, "We've got thirty minutes."
Kaitlyn sat down on his lap and smiled slowly as she ran her hand through his hair, "What will we do?" She kissed him slowly, deliberately enticing him.
"I think this will suffice." he pulled her body closer and kissed her harder.
1130 - Starfleet Medical
Ambassador Soval looked up as Admiral Forrest and General Casey came into his room.
They both looked relieved that he was sitting up and besides the bruises to his face, he looked relatively unharmed.
Soval nodded to them, "General, I appreciate the MACO's ability to locate and extract us." he stated as he smoothed out his tunic top.
General Casey nodded, "We were most fortunate that Corporal Cole was with you and that we were able to back trace the communication device she used to locate the both of you." he admitted.
Ambassador Soval nodded. He looked over the two humans before him as he got down from the examining table, "Corporal Cole seemed to believe that she was going to be punished, because I was kidnapped. Is that true?" he questioned.
Admiral Forrest cleared his throat, "Most of the time, a reprimand would be appropriate."
Soval narrowed his eyes at General Casey, "As you pointed out, you were able to find us because of her. When she recognized the sound of the transporter, she made the quick and selfless decision to be transported with me." he pointed out.
General Casey nodded, "We realize that - that is why she will not be reprimanded." he stated.
Ambassador Soval nodded his approval as he put on his robe and tied it firmly in place. "I will expect Corporal Cole at 0700 at the Vulcan Compound tomorrow."
"She is being reassigned."
Soval raised an eyebrow at General Casey, "Explain."
Forrest sighed softly, "She believes that she has failed you as your guard, so she requested a reassignment. She is being too hard on herself." he added.
Ambassador Soval nodded, "Yes, she is. I will speak to her - where is she?"
"Two rooms down the hall on the left." Casey said.
Soval left the two men and headed down the hall. The two Vulcan guards from the Compound followed him. He quickly opened the door and walked in. He should have knocked and asked for permission to enter. He averted his gaze as the nurse finished putting the Corporal's shirt on her. She'd had her back to the door, but he had quickly taken note of every bruise she had on her back because of him. He hadn't realized how battered she'd been. She had been too busy attending to his wounds for him to notice hers. He regretted that he had not inquired about her injuries when they were in the cave.
The nurse stalked over to him and looked him over from head to toe, "Knock next time." she ordered, then brushed past him and left.
Corporal Cole was gently putting her camouflage top on and glanced at him as her muscles protested, "What can I do for you, Ambassador?"
"You do not wish to be my guard anymore?" he questioned as he walked over to her.
She frowned, "I should have done more to protect you." she sighed.
"I do not wish for another guard." he stated and watched her carefully. His expression softened, "You did not tell me about all of your injuries. I should have inquired."
Amanda glanced at the Ambassador curiously, "My injuries were not your concern, your safety was mine." she noticed that he flinched slightly. "But, I thank you for your concern. Wouldn't you feel safer with another guard?" she questioned him.
"No." he said firmly and continued to watch her.
She nodded slowly, "Then I will withdraw my request to be reassigned."
Soval gave her a curt nod, "I will see you at 0700." with that said, he turned and left.
Amanda Cole watched as the door closed behind him and frowned. She didn't understand everything that had just happened. She'd actually seen regret in his eyes when he'd taken note of her injuries and realized that he hadn't asked about them previously. Why had he seemed so perturbed about getting another guard? She finished buttoning her top and went to find General Casey.
1800 - Balenta Market
Malcolm and Kaitlyn had eaten lunch at the hotel, then made their way to the village just outside the resort to look around the area. They had made their way around all of the stores and found themselves in the open-air market, admiring the local artisans' craftsmanship.
Malcolm pointed to one of the necklaces, "This would look nice on you." he smiled.
Kaitlyn nodded, "It is lovely, but I don't think I have any other jewelry to go with it." she admitted.
The artisan stood up from his table where he worked and looked at the necklace that Malcolm was pointing out. "What other jewelry do you usually wear with a necklace?" he inquired.
She moved her hair slightly and indicated her earrings, then showed him her wrist and indicated her bracelet, "I usually wear all three, if I can." she explained.
The man smiled and looked at her ears again, "That is very interesting, our women do not wear jewelry on their ears. I believe I can make you some - what do you call them?" he questioned.
"Earrings." Kaitlyn replied.
The man nodded, "I can make you earrings and a bracelet to match this necklace." he offered them.
Kaitlyn glanced at Malcolm and smiled, "I really would like them."
Malcolm nodded to the man, "What is your name?" he inquired.
"I am Darlell." he bowed to the couple.
Malcolm shook Darlell's hand, "I am Malcolm Steel, and this is my wife, Kaitlyn. How soon can you have them made?"
"I will have them delivered to your hotel tomorrow morning." he promised.
"Very well." Malcolm pulled out his exchange card the ship had provided him for purchases, and quickly paid for the jewelry and added a generous tip. "Please have them delivered to the Turtle Cove Resort."
Darlell bowed again, "Thank you for your generosity, Mr. Steel."
Malcolm smiled as he looked at Kaitlyn, "I'm sure she will look even more beautiful when she wears them." They nodded to Darlell and then continued down the aisles for a few more minutes.
"Kaitlyn Green?" a man's voice called from a few stalls over.
Kaitlyn stiffened - who would know her here on this planet? She glanced at Malcolm and noted his hand was firmly on the center of her back. He raised his eyebrow slowly, and she shrugged almost imperceptibly. She turned to the voice from behind them and immediately recognized the dark haired man approaching them. She opened her mouth to say something, but he interrupted her.
His smile widened, "It is you." He looked at the man beside her that had his hand protectively on her back. "I'm Mardock Tal." He saw confusion cross the man's face. "Kaitlyn knew me previously as Attucks."
Kaitlyn quickly contemplated the revelation that Mardock Tal was in fact the man whose organization she had tried to infiltrate last year. How had Harris not realized this connection? "I guess we all change our names when we need to in our business." she smiled at Mardock. "Mardock, this is my husband, Malcolm Steel." she introduced the two men.
Malcolm shook Mardock's hand, "We didn't expect to meet you until we arrived at Ceti Alpha." he explained.
Mardock shrugged, "I had business here, so I'm taking the Odyssey back to Ceti Alpha. I take it the accommodations are superb?" he questioned them.
Kaitlyn nodded, "They are." She glanced at Malcolm, then back to Mardock. "Had I known who you were, we probably could have saved some time coming all the way out here." she said.
Mardock shook his head, "There are things on Ceti Alpha that you need to see for yourself, Kaitlyn. But, you're right - it would have saved us some time." He looked over her, "I heard you escaped the Orions by blowing up their ship - is that true?"
Malcolm could feel Kaitlyn's anger start to rise and he rubbed her back gently to get her to calm down. He looked at Mardock, "She doesn't like to discuss it." he said firmly.
Mardock frowned, "I didn't mean to upset you, Kaitlyn. I'm just glad you're okay." He smiled at Malcolm, "Why don't we have dinner together? I know a fabulous place around the block." he suggested.
Malcolm could feel her hesitation, but he knew that they had to make nice with the man if they were going to gain his business and be able to stop Terra Prime from acquiring more weapons and explosives from someone else.
Kaitlyn nodded to him as she heard his thoughts. She'd have to put aside her apprehension until she could talk to Malcolm later. They made their way down the block and were quickly seated on the patio overlooking the ocean.
Malcolm and Mardock were discussing the local area as Kaitlyn looked out over the ocean. She frowned slightly as a migraine started to form around her temples. When she had been kidnapped by the Orions on Mobius Prime, she'd suspected that Attucks had set her up. She glanced at the handsome man as he smiled easily and laughed with Malcolm. Mardock was not giving her any indication that he suspected she knew anything about his part in her kidnapping. But then again, he was a very manipulative man - he would sell his own grandmother down the river if it helped him attain what he wanted. She gazed back out to the ocean and tried desperately to calm her nerves - it was too late to run, and there was too much at stake to quit. She had thought this assignment was extremely risky before - now she had the distinct feeling in the pit of her stomach that she and Malcolm would not survive.
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