"From Wild Geese to Unicorns" Part 1/2

OFF: This is my challenge post… Lort give me the strength needed to endure and the forgiveness of others as I assimilate their toons into this motley story line. Pun intended.
NOTE: The log was too long for the system, it has a character limit of 20,000 and this was 21,382 without the OOC or signature, 21,890 with them.

ON:
Time: Shortly after the ending of the Romulan threat… For now. (might still need to be posted in order for there to be context, but we all know what I'm referring to)
Characters: Vaanaras, Eight of Eleven, Wendi Nablesse, Avakhon Khinsharri

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Joining Starfleet, immersing herself into the life of the Federation, had been the highest calling of all to have ever summoned Vaanaras. It was the call to live more or less in solitude - many choosing to shun her and leave her closed off from their worlds - her family, her friends had become memories. In doing so, she'd declined the comfort of her kind's monastic community if only for the chance to become a vessel for redemption.

The woman she'd been born - one of few in the wake of the Dominion's cruel genetic cloning of the Vorta to be carried within a mother's womb instead of sterile pods - had had great responsibility rested across her shoulders - a burden to bear within the budding movement to save her people... Without Founder influence, the Vorta’s chances of procreating enough to sustain their genetics in such a small genepool were becoming slim to none. Every fertile male and female were expected to do their part… And yet… Vaanaras, though given the gift at a chance to save their future, had chosen to secure the species immortality in a far different way; by walking down a far different path as an officer in serving Starfleet. And now, having chosen to leave them for a future within Starfleet - and denying her people the fruit of her genetics - she was dead to them as far as they were concerned.

Banished.

She’d become, more or less, a fallen angel in so far that she may as well have stated “I am lucifer” and been cast to rule in hell for all eternity.

Hell, however, had become her heaven in most unexpected ways, leaving her truly ‘enlightened’ as the word implied. Sitting there on the cold deck of the bridge, shaking with anxiety, the sound of Avakhon heralding her success and the applause that had ruptured from the hands of the crew had offered the devil a chance at salvation. She’d reached that point where the eaves of the congregation in which she had sheltered would harbor her in silence no more. The doors were cast wide - the arms of the savior opened to free her from the hollow, lifeless appurtenance she'd sequestered herself within - and for the first time in many years, the Vorta found herself immersed in back in an ecclesiastical and worldly community of beings, having chose to protect them without first requiring their love. The so called ‘church’ of the Endeavor, paying homage to Saint Dominic, the patron saint of the stars, had enshrouded her, welcomed her... Saved her.

And then there was the Captain - her eyes boring into the young Vorta - and a voice that simply said, "My ready room. Now."

That had been ten minutes past, and Vaanaras stood still as stone before Nablesse’s high shined desk. The only sounds that filled her sensitive ears were that of her own hammering heart and the steady ticking of a metronome perched on a shelf, ushering away seconds and minutes of her life as she waited for the woman to speak.

“That was quite a stunt you pulled, Lieutenant,” The Vorta nearly flinched at the sound of the Captain’s voice breaking through the din, “I have to say that I owe it to you and your… Tenacity. Without it, I’m sure we’d be singing a different show tune right now.” Wendi’s smile was thin, perhaps even grim as she spoke and steepled her fingers together in front of her, “Never-the-less… You nullified my authority in front of the crew.”

“Permission to speak candidly, ma’am?”

“Granted.”

“In all due respect, ma’am, I was charged with protecting the life and livelihood of this ship and her crew come what may and at all costs.” Vaanaras’ managed to speak without a single quiver in her voice, though a great knot had begun to form in her throat. Her eyes, previously fixated on a portion of bulkhead just over the top Skipper’s tawny coif, “That includes stepping into situations as dire as the one we were just in, whether or not it means stepping on toes.”

In response, the Captain’s eyes seemed to narrow in thought and perhaps a bit of scrutiny as she studied the porcelain face of the woman placed in charge of ship security. A Vorta was a strange being to observe up close - more so when they weren’t flanked by Jem’Hadar soldiers, and yet here they were. She’d captured a unicorn, breathing, shining with a certain sense of the unknown and grace, and living and dying solely at her behest. It was a most fascinating thing, to literally have one’s former enemy in the palm of their hand… However, Wendi couldn’t find as much as a single iota of ill will to bestow upon the little violet eyed imp.

“You’re right.” She nodded, “In so far that you’re responsible for the safety and security of the crew, but I’m responsible for you. The crew cannot think their Captain is weak or else they won’t trust me.”

The Vorta couldn’t help but scoff softly, her mouth curving into a smile most sardonic and her eyes leveled with the Captain’s own, “Please. I think we both know that they trust you implicitly. No one in their right mind is going to side with a Vorta over you, and it’s your responsibility to use all of the tools in your cabinet to ensure that we have a successful mission and return back to port in one piece. I’m just that… A tool, and you used me.”

“I did nothing of the sort, you chose to use yourself.” Wendi fired back, arching a brow and near stunned by the other woman’s devil-may-care demeanor.

“I chose to use myself to protect you, Captain, and the rest of this ship. I did what I did for the good of the many, not to give myself a pat on the back.” Vaanaras retorted swiftly, the smile fading for sake of her own irritation steadily beginning to mount, “This wasn’t about stealing your thunder or usurping your throne. You wear a crown of thorns that I have zero interest in resting above my brow.”

At that, the Captain couldn’t help but laugh and shook her head, “I wouldn’t wish this responsibility on anyone else, honestly.” She sighed in good humor, allowing her hands to fall flat against her thighs, “Look… I’m not upset. I’m not. What you did took serious moxie and gumption and I’m appreciative of it. We’d likely be dead or held in the belly of a D’Deridex at this point had it not been for your theatrics.” The woman paused, standing up to offer the Vorta her hand for a shake, “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Vaanaras.”

The act, and words, took Vaanaras by surprise. It quickly melted away both fear and irritation, leaving the stoney little creature stripped bare of her more basic go to emotions. Humbled, she slipped her hand into the human’s and shook it firmly, “Had it not been for the rest of your bridge crew, we’d be in the belly of a D’Deridex. I owe them a debt of gratitude for working with me and understanding what needed to be done to make this dog and pony show a success.”

“I know. They’ll be commended.” Wendy nodded, reaching to pat the back of Vaanaras’ hand before releasing it, “You’re free to go. Barring any emergencies, the rest of the day is to be spent at your leisure.”

“Yes, Captain. Thank you.” Vaanaras grinned, offering the woman a quick salute before pivoting on her heel and taking her leave with eyes locked on her diminutive form the moment she exited the ready room and made her way across the bridge. Her escape plan, however, would be thwarted by the looming shadow of Eight of Eleven striding robustly into the turbolift. The doors hissed closed, trapping her with what she widely considered the be the most unsettling of the ship’s crew members.

“Eight…” She greeted with a nod. There was something to be said for fearing the unknown, and to Vaanaras, the Borg were very much as untrustworthy to her as the Vorta were to the rest of the known universe. And yet… Eight had been widely accepted into the fold, placed as the head of the ship’s Intelligence office in much the same manner she herself had found the lives of the crew set into her upturned palms.

The Borg’s head nodded stiffly in return, a movement less fluid and more mechanical in nature than that of the elegant Vorta. So much of Eight had been lost when she’d been assimilated - so much more than what met the common eye. The implants and mechanisms that graced the exterior were nothing compared to the inner workings that went on beneath her skin. A cold eye studied the porcelain skinned creature that had recently made so much commotion on the bridge. So small, so fragile, and yet so powerful. It was hard to believe that anything so little could be so significant or tenacious, and yet there stood the Vorta blinking back at her. “You are a credit to your species, Vaanaras.” She stated in her usual, emotionless monotone, “It is a wonder they have not been added to the collective.”

“That’s likely because we were scattered to the four winds after the Founders decided they were done with their pet project.” Vaanaras flatly replied, peeking around the much taller female’s body to check the lift’s progress on getting her to her destination.

“You said you were loyal to the Founders, but you speak ill of them?” Eight’s head cocked sharply, “Explain.”

The Vorta soothed her lower lip with her tongue before drawing it between her teeth and sighing through her nose. It was questions like these that left her feeling cold, isolated, and barren. Without a filter, Eight was more like a petulant child that hadn’t been taught proper manners and left to run renegade at a funeral. Some questions left people with their skin crawling or their stomachs knotting - leave it to a Borg to demand answers regarding assimilation of a much different sort.

“So when you asked me and I said all that about the Founders, it was this thing called a defense mechanism. I say I’m still loyal to the Founders, you get turned off by non-Federation sentiments, and I get left alone.” She finally responded, shrugging in her explanation. The need for distance between them was nearly overwhelming, especially given the heightened level of Vaanaras’ overall anxiety. She crab stepped a half stride to the side, giving her the space she needed in order to breathe and providing a proverbial bubble by-which to consider ‘safe harbor’ between her and the Intelligence officer, “Surprise.”

This time, Eight of Eleven’s head cocked to the otherside, sending her long, tousled hair cascading off her shoulder. Her eyes narrowed in consideration as if processing the Vorta’s words, “So you lied to me.”

“Yep.” Vaanaras replied, her lips popping on the ‘p’. Couldn’t the lift go any faster? Had time slowed down in punishment for her greater sins? Had the Captain designed this as a way to warn her that she still was very much in command of the Endeavor? Providence simply wasn’t choosing to favor the forsaken daughter of Kurill Prime.

“Why?” The question was pointed, almost as much as the fan-like ears that graced the sides of Vaanaras’ head. Eight stole back the space the Vorta had taken for herself, pressing for answers while he fingers seemed to twitch against her sides. A motion that Valeese quickly picked up and watched for a moment before looking back up at the woman’s shark-like eyes.

Her lips pursed for a moment, her skin crawled, but there was no escape from this particular instance or situation without it coming to blows - something it would not - simply could not - do. Eight wasn’t the enemy. She wasn’t a threat. She was simply imposing and Vaanaras already at the end of her fraying rope after a day spent playing guard dog and barking at a treed Romulan. “Self preservation, Eight. I’m not the most social creature you’ll ever meet and the questions you are are unsettling and personal. It would be like me asking if you’ve ever had relations with a toaster.” She breathed through clenched teeth, “It’s offensive.” Offering the woman nothing less than the truth, she realized it could come across as harsh and callous. She deserved as much, and nothing less. “Anyway, I apologize for lying to you in the lounge.” She nodded, ready to add to her sentence now that her quest for freedom and sweet solitude seemed more like a wild goose chase than a viable opportunity.

No sooner did Vaanaras settle to accept her captivity did the lift rock to a stop and chime arrival to her deck. The doors slid open, beckoning her once more into the arms of salvation, “This is my stop. Enjoy the rest of your day, Eight.” She uttered as she squeezed past the robust Borg. It truly took everything she had in her, every last shred of dignity and willpower, not to power walk or break into a run down that last corridor.

Only to falter in her footsteps, her shoulders drooping at the side of a mountain of a man standing just outside her door.

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OFF: Continued in part two, see top for disclaimer as to why this post needed to be split in two.

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