Captain Cleo Mavendorf sat in the lounge idly sipping a cold drink and looking out across the main floor but not really paying any attention to it. She was home again. After several years working with the Borg Task Force, part of that time serving as a liason with the Borg Cooperative, she was back with the 7th Fleet. And she was back in Command of the Leyte Gulf. She had spent several hours walking through the ship as it sat silent in the dockyard. She was finishing up a refit to bring her up to as modern a sptandard as possible, so at the moment there was only a skeleton crew aboard. That would all be changing very soon.
She gave a small half smile as she recalled her meeting with Admiral Von Worner two days ago, he had been pleased to see her return, but had then launched into her about her refusal to accept a promotion to flag rank again. She had explained again that she was best suited to commanding a single starship, not a Division or a Task Force. He hadn't agreed but he also couldn't very well force her to accept a promotion either. She understood that he was frustrated with her, most of her commanding officers got that with her, some quite often.
She had just raised her glass to take another drink when a pleasant female voice asked "Mavendorf? Is that you?" She lowered her glass and turned her head slightly to find an Orion woman standing beside her table. A very blonde Orion...which was an oddity in and of itself. The woman wore a KDF uniform with the rank tabs of a General. Cleo Stood up and gave a very precise salute "General Ra Nosh right?" She asked
"Yes, it's been a while hasn't it?" General Ra Nosh replied as she waved away the formal salute "Mind if I join you? It's been a few years...and you...well...the Borg obviously got you at some point." she said as she took in the implants and the white hair that had once been raven black "We certainly need to catch up."
"And you are a General now...impressive." Cleo shrugged off the reference to her assimilation...many of the old school Klingons considered assimilation to be a dishonor of the worst sort...Ra Nosh was very much not of the old school. She sat back down as the General sat at the table with her " Damned few Orions make it to ship's captain...you may well be the only one I've ever heard of making it to General."
Ra Nosh flagged down a steward and ordered her own drink and then gave Cleo a shrug "True enough...but I didn't work my way up through the usual fleet channels...as you should well remember."
Cleo simply nodded "You stayed with KDF Intelligence then...so this meeting isn't happenstance, and you already knew about my assimilation." she stated rather than questioned.
Ra Nosh smiled showing a lot of teeth "You always were a clever girl...why you waste your talents with Starfleet is a constant source of wonder to me..."
Cleo gave a soft snort "We both know I would not do well in the KDF...my short stint with your crew should have proved that." she idly fingered the Warrior Sash that was draped across her chest "In 6 months I responded to 8 challenges...1 was a fatal response." She took a sip from her drink "So let's cut the bull shit Eva...why are you here and what do you want?"
Eva held up her hands in mock surrender "OKay I MAY have forgotten about the challenges." She lowered her hands and took a sip from her own drink "I'm here because I need to speak with you about something that happened when you were a Starfleet Cadet...and we need to speak in private"
Cleo frowned...her cadet days were a long nearly forgotten time ago "Okay you surprised me with this one."
Eva simply smiled "You know I am just FULL of surprised Cleo..." her eyes dropped to the table for a moment "But this one...this one is going to probably be a big one...and it may hurt. So...a private conversation is not possible on a Starbase...and I'm sure you don't want to come aboard my ship and possibly have to respond to a challenge or two...so where does that leave us?"
Cleo frowned as she considered Eva's words...something was seriously going on here...but she couldn't figure out what...finally she set her glass down "All right, we'll go to my ready room on the Gulf." she paused "We'll have to take a shuttle though...the Gulf is still in dock finishing a refit...as I'm sure you already know."
Eva simply nods "I do indeed...it IS part of my job to keep tabs on you promising Starfleet Captains after all."
The two women stood and left the lounge...anyone observing them would incorrectly assume they were old and good friends from the way they walked together and bantered back and forth
Cleo led the way across the bridge to her ready room. The two women entered and the door slid shut behind them. Cleo took a seat behind her desk and indicated the seat in front of it to Eva...she spoke to the ship's computer "Computer, engage privacy mode and cease all recordings, authorization Mavendorf Alpha six Yankee."
"Acknowledged" the disembodied voice replied. Cleo gave Eva a slightly curious look "All right, Spill...what's so important we need to talk privately like this?"
Eva leaned back a bit and got a bit more comfortable "Sometime around stardate 1999.1020 in the Reyton System, a group of Starfleet cadets were on an expedition exploring ruins on the 4th planet...they were attacked and captured by a group of Orion slavers...after one cadet in particular killed seven of the slavers by herself...and was forced to surrender by the threat of her fellow cadets being executed one by one until she did...does that seem familiar at all?"
Cleo's face went carefully blank as Eva spoke...since her assimilation she had perfected hiding whatever she might be feeling behind a cold stoic mask "I was the cadet" she said simply "But that was a long time ago and we were rescued several weeks later by the USS Zulu when they happened across the Orion ship."
Eva simply nodded a bit "Yes, yes, but it's what happened while you were a captive that concerns us now." she locked eyes with her sometimes friend and sometimes adversary "What do you recall of that time?"
Cleo didn't reply for a few moments as she sifted through her memories of that time "I was kept under heavy guard, the Orion Captain feared me after I proved my superior strength and tactical acumen...it was only his constant threat to execute the others that kept me from attempting to break free and fight my way to the bridge."
Eva frowned slightly "What else happened? Do you remember anything...else?"
Cleo sighed softly "He apparently had ideas concerning me...and he attempted to assault me in the cell...I fought back and severely injured him...he had his guards stun me...when I came to I was in sickbay as I had struck my head when I went down...causing a slight head injury." Her tone went a bit cool "He also had 2 cadets executed in front of me for daring to resist him...I was told that when he recovered and returned to my cell that if I resisted him again he would execute 4 more..it didn't happen because the Zulu found us a few days later and we were returned to the Academy."
Eva nodded thoughtfully "So you WERE unconscious in sickbay for a time...do you have any idea how long it was?"
Cleo frowned again "A day? Perhaps two?" Why?"
Eva reached to her belt and pulled up her PADD "Because it looks like they did more than treat a head injury while you were there...let me tell you a bit of a story..."
Cleo sat back in her chair...a stunned and confused look on her face "You are sure about this? She asked
Eva simply nodded "The data matches, I just need you to come with me." she paused "She won't believe me unless I have you there with me so we can prove all of this."
Cleo closed her eyes for a moment, trying hard to fight down the sensation that the room was spinning...she knew it really wasn't...it was just her mind trying to cope with the shock of what Eva had just showed her. After a moment her eyes reopened and she asked "Where exactly are we going then?"
"Qu'Nos." Eva replied simply
Cleo frowned "You know House Du'Rok has a kill on sight order on me right?"
Eva made a dismissive gesture "They won't do anything about it, you're going as a guest of House Martok"
Cleo raised the eyebrow not covered by a Borg implant "You're Allied to House Martok now?"
Eva shook her head "No...I'm a member of House Martok now" A small self satisfied smirk graced the woman's lips
"It's a total wonder to me that J'mpok hasn't had you killed then" Cleo said as she stood up "I know if I were the head of House Martok I'd have had you executed as soon as you showed up."
"Lucky for me you aren't then." Eva replied as she stood as well "And I'm not THAT bad...assasinate ONE Tal Shiar spy and suddenly I'm a bloodthirsty demoness..."
Cleo didn't look at Eva as she walked to the door "It was 4 Tal Shiar...and those are just the ones I know about personally."
Eva shrugged "Like you wouldn't have in my place."
"I would have." Cleo agreed "That's why I'd have you executed...I know how your mind works."
Eva simply smiled "I really HAVE missed you these last few years you know."
Cleo led the way to the turbolift at the back of the bridge "Even though we would have likely killed each other?" She asked...then without waiting for a reply she added "God help me I've missed you as well"
Cleo sat in a large shair...it was definately built for a Klingon not a human...she decided, and watched as Eva indulged in a large plate of food. Cleo was no stranger to Klingon and Orion fare, she had served several months on Eva's ship the Blackheart as a Federation exchange officer many years ago, but she wasn't a huge fan. "So how exactly are we doing this?" she asked
Eva stopped eating and pushed her plate aside before replying "Like removing a dressing from an old wound...rip it off and see if it still bleeds." Eva said with a slight glint of humor in her eyes
Cleo simply gave the Orion woman an emotionless stare
"You really do come off like a n andriodwhen you do that." Eva grumbled "The biggest problem with the Borg is their complete lack of a sense of humor or fun."
Cleo didn't reply or change her expression
"Alright! You are REALLY starting to creep me out now!" she narrowed her eyes at her frenemy "Which is what you intended to do all along...damn...you haven't lost your touch...I have got to stop underestimating you..." Eva was almost talking to herself at this point.
"My question still stands." Cleo said simply "Shifting the topic like that is not an effective tactic."
Eva made a noise of amusement "Alrigh you win...I plan to bring her in and show her the evidence as I tell her...much as I did with you."
Cleo arched the eyebrow not covered by an implant "Which begs the question of "Why am I here again?""
Eva shook her head a bit "You know why you are here...to corroborate the story...and I thought perhaps..." she paused "You may want to speak with her?" The last came out as a question
"Cleo's expression didn't alter at all...she remained sitting silently as she again tried to sort out what she was feeling about all this...finally she spoke "Yes...I suspect I should...I expect she will wish to speak with me."
Eva nodded "Fine...the delegation should be here within the hour."
Cleo nodded but didn't reply
Eva stood up and moved over to stand beside her "Look...I know this is a LOT to take in..."
Cleo raised a hand to stop Eva "Yes it is...but I would be remiss not to thank you for uncovering this and bringing me here to resolve it." she paused as she ordered her thoughts into words "You and I were always either at each other's throats or in each other's beds...but somehow we remained friends in spite of that...I do not understand it myself...and I suspect I do not want to understand it...but doing this...doing this for me has cleared up any doubt I may have had that you anything but my friend."
Eva looked down into Cleo's face...she herself often found herself wondering along similar lines...they had known each other for a long time...had alternated between being lovers and trying their level best to kill each other in battle...and yet they remained friends...Eva hadn't even needed to think about whether or not she should do this when the information came to her...she acted without thinking about it "When I got word that the Borg had assimilated you...it took my legs from under me." she said softly "I've seen what coming back from that does to people sometimes...and I was terrified that you wouldn't be you." She paused to bring her hand up to cup Cleo's face "I can't say I like some of the changes I see in you now...but you are still you...and that is enough for me."
Cleo reached up and lightly held Eva's wrist "It was..." she blinked and paused as she formed the thoughts into words...and fought to hold the fear gripped her when she spoke of her time as a Borg "It was my worst nightmare come true...but in the end...I came back...I had a lot of help...and it took some time..."
Eva nodded "I always expected you wouldn't let them take you...may I ask? How did they get you?" She was curious...but also very much afraid...unlike Cleo, Eva feared the Borg and avoided fighting them whenever possible
Cleo simply sighed "A mishap...that dropped me into the miirror universe...I was subdued by people with the faces of my crew...they handed me over to the Borg..." she paused again...her eyes going a bit cold "In that place the Borg and the Terran Empire are allies."
Eva started to speak...but the door chimed just then. She looked back in annoyance "Enter." She called gruffly as she pulled her hand away "We will talk more later." she promised quietly as the door opened and a warrior stepped in "The delegation from House Qu'Tan is here Captain." he informed her "Very well." Eva replied "I will be down momentarily." She looked back at Cleo as the Warrior stepped out "It's time then."
Cleo stood and nodded, there was really nothing to say
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