Failure to Communicate
Location: Ten Thousand Worlds
Timeline: MD 5 1700
Tera hummed to herself a Bajoran tune as she went about her shop, closing up for the day. She turned the sign over on the door and pulled down the gate to protect the window. Then she packed up the valuable items from the display shelves before heading to the back where the safe was.
The back storage area was filled with various items that had either just been received or were in the process of being shipped to various destinations. It was spacious enough to hold the larger containers, thus freeing up space throughout the rest of the shop for the more lucrative and popular items. The room was designed to illuminate upon an individual’s entry into the room. However, Tera found that this time the lights failed to activate once she had crossed the threshold of the room.
Tera frowned. “Computer, lights,” she ordered. No beep responded. “Huh.” Tera dug into her work apron for her comm to put in a work order with Operations.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," came a familiar voice that appeared to be several feet away. It was obvious that the owner of the voice was not the same person that had currently knocked her to her knees and placed a cold blade to her throat. "We went through a lot of trouble and expense to arrange this private chat with you without the inconvenience of station sensors disturbing us," the voice said.
"Tera, Tera, Tera," the second voice said. "I vouched for you. I told the others that there was no way that you would misinterpret our message and that this little problem would be resolved in no time," he said. "Tell me that this is just a failure to communicate and not because you actually chose to disobey us," he said in a disturbingly calm voice.
Tera gasped as she fell to the floor, hearing the familiar voice from her recent nightmares. “I did what you wanted!” she exclaimed. “I talked with Liam!”
"Tera, do not lie to me," the second voice said as the person restraining her placed the blade even sharper to her throat. "Not only has your boyfriend not convinced Station Command to retreat from its unreasonable position regarding the planet, but they've gone and promoted that loose cannon who kidnapped a child to the position of Executive Officer!" The voice said incredulously. Although the room was still dark, one could imagine him throwing his hands into the air in frustration.
"It's almost as if you completely ignored what we told you before," he said. "I'm really hoping that's not the case, Tera," he said in a lower tone.
Tears streaked Tera’s cheeks. “I...I tried!” she said. “I did what you said. B-But he’s Betazed! H-He--I couldn’t lie to him! Hide this! I-It doesn’t matter anyway! H-He’s not a diplomat anymore!” she sobbed. “He’s in Counseling now! I c-c-can’t control who they promote! I’m just a shop girl! Please!”
"Hmm. Well, that makes a difference," the voice said. "I'm not certain if that is a good or a bad thing for you," he said. "If he's some kind of wet-nurse, what purpose do you serve anymore?" he asked rhetorically. "Can you give me one good useful reason I should keep you alive rather than just have my colleague slit your throat like a hekant and just be done with it!?" He spat.
Tera’s eyes widened in fear. She tried to think. What could she offer? She was just a shop girl!
“I get shipments in from Bajor all the time!” Tera said, seizing on the one thing she could think of. “It--It wouldn’t be hard to slip something into one of them from Cardassia.” Smuggling seemed better than death at this point. They were Cardassians, she assumed. Cardassians had pulled stuff like this before, threatening to ruin her life. But they weren’t speaking with the typical Cardassian accent.
"Well, that might change things a bit," he said in a more calm and relaxed tone.
Tera could only nod. “M-My father helped you during the Occupation,” she said. “I c-can help, too!” Be useful. Stay alive. That was what her father had always taught her, why he did what he’d done. She’d despised him for it, thinking him a coward, but now, with her heart thumping in her throat, her skin cold and clammy with fear, her brain racing, she could understand what he’d gone through.
"Oh, I'm sure you will be very useful, but first I'm going to need a little down payment," he said as he reached out and ran his finger gently along her face.
Before he could touch her any further, the voice behind the knife interrupted. "Damn! The generator is coming back online!" the voice said in a hurried tone as the lights within the confined space began to come up dimly. Although it was still too dark to clearly make out any distinguishing features, it was enough to notice the ridged outlines of their faces.
"Let's get out of here. Fighting Starfleet Security wasn't a part of our orders," the same voice said as he shoved Tera forward into the deck so that the two individuals could make their hasty escape. Within a few moments the room was quiet as the lights came back online completely. The complete silence confirmed that Tera was once again alone.
Tera collapsed to the floor, sobbing in fear and shame.
NPC Caleb Ryan