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All my sins be remembered.....

Posted on Tue Oct 13th, 2015 @ 12:38pm by Lieutenant Mark Whistler & Lieutenant Commander Se'Lah & Kalin 'Shae' Brennan

Mission: Turalek Misadventure

The walk through the hills had been quiet, thankfully, but now Mark could finally see the camp that belonged to him, and his clan. As he saw it, he smiled, seeing smoke coming from a part of it, but his smile began to fade as they drew nearer to the camp. He could see a flag on the outside of the camp, and it wasn't his. It was the mark of the cannibals. Mark's eyes widened, and he drew his kulaks, racing towards the camp quickly, leaving the group behind.

As he reached the camp, he could only see three people, and all of them had blood around their mouths, with the arms of people in their hands. He recognised four of the six bodies on the floor, and as the cannibals looked at him, one of them recognised him, his eyes widening. That was his last action as Mark threw one of his kulak's into the man's face. Mark then ran to the remaining two men, before they could react, and slit the throat of one of them. He then embedded his kulak into the last one, and as he pulled it out, the man's blood shot out, a streak of it striking Mark's face. He looked around, and saw no one else. Frantically, he checked the tents, and found no one in them.

Racing to the centre of the camp, he looked around, feeling dizzy, the world spinning as he spun around, trying to find any sign of a survivor, before yelling out a loud roar of anger and falling to his knees, tears streaming from his eyes and striking the mud. The four bodies that he recognised were four of his friends, Oskat, Mila, Jenna and Toreth. He saw their eyes forever open to the universe, and let out another roar, of sorrow and anger, his body quivering with rage.

As the rest of the group made their way into the camp, Se'Lah moved to where Mark was sitting on the ground. She knelt down in front of him, pulling him into her arms to hold him in a comforting embrace. While normally she'd be reserved about such affections, Mark meant a lot to her, she knew he needed the comfort that her embrace could provide. She didn't say a word as she just held him in her arms.

Gonnadie just stood there, looking a bit stunned at the mess that surrounded them. In his eyes, this place just seemed to get worse, and worse, and he still found himself unsure of how useful he would really be.

At this point, the three security officers fanned out, looking for any survivors, or enemies. Even though they were not in uniform, their jobs had been to protect the rest of the team at all costs, and they would not be slack in those duties.

In Se'Lah's arms, Mark finally did something that he had not done before, something no one had ever seen. He allowed himself to finally break, and wept freely, allowing all of his emotions out. He had failed his family. They had waited for him, and he had failed them. He swore he would return for them, but they were dead. The rest...he didn't even want to imagine where they were, although deep inside he dreaded they had become food. His kulak's had dropped to the ground, still covered in blood, as was he. The anger inside of him raged...but the pain was greater.

Shae melted in from the shadows and watched Mark weep in Se'Lah's arms. She wanted to break down and cry as well, but her training held it all back, making her appear cold and icy. But she wouldn't dare stop this moment for him if he so desperately needed it. "I've picked up a trail, there may be survivors," Shae said to Se'Lah quietly. "I will investigate, but I won't be far."

Se'Lah gave Shae a nod as she continued to hold Mark in her arms. In an odd way, she could sympathize with his pain, mainly because she had been informed that a young girl she'd apparently been trying to rescue on Starbase 122 had perished in the blast that robbed her of her memories. Though she couldn't remember anything about the girl, or the circumstances, she'd still felt guilty for her failure to save such a young, innocent life. "Let me be your strength..." She whispered lightly into his ear, not daring to pull away, until he was ready to move.

Mark heard the words Se'Lah spoke, but he couldn't move, not right away. He remained there for what felt like the longest while. For him, he felt like the world had ended, because he had failed his family.

Finally, Mark found the strength to move again, and as he stood up, he knew he had work to do. Gently he picked up the bodies and moved them, before starting to gather wood from the remains of the camp to build a funeral pyre. He worked in silence because he didn't feel he could talk without his voice breaking apart. But it was clear what he was doing, without needing to explain.

Shae returned a short while later, simply watching Mark from the shadows. At first she was trying to gauge if he was still capable of continuing on this mission, but she knew he would pull through, if only because he didn't like leaving things unfinished. "Mark," she said in an even tone as she approached him, relaying neither compassion nor indifference. She placed a hand on his arm, urging him to drop the wood. "Now is not the time. Someone left a trail, we need to follow it."

Mark looked at her. "I'm not leaving them here for food if more come along." Mark said. "I recognize the flag. It belongs to the city cannibals. But night will soon be on us, and you know how dangerous it will be for the others to travel at night. I'll go to the city myself." Mark said.

"Move the bodies if you need to, but the longer we linger here setting up a pyre the more the chances of finding survivors diminishes," Shae replied. She actually had nothing against cannibalism. She had never been reduced to the point of eating flesh from sentients, but back on Psi Gamma there had been days where she had been so hungry that she had been tempted, and in that experience she gained a certain perspective on the subject. As long as proper respect was paid to the deceased, Shae would not blame anyone for committing such an act, but therein lay the problem; respect was such a rare thing on this world. Only the strength of those who survived was respected here, so none was ever afforded to those who lost. Well, except in Mark's group where decency and mutual respect was not only valued but expected, and it was those people that had Shae worried right now. Were they at the mercy of cannibals now, waiting to be defiled, killed, and then eaten? Although he made a point about traveling at night, it wasn't safe for the group. "And you shouldn't go alone, not in the state you're in. You need someone with you who can be objective."

Mark closed his eyes for a moment, and sighed. "You make a good point." Mark said. "But I won't leave their bodies. We'll put them in the food shack, and set it alight." He told her. "I may need help, but I won't leave the others without protection." He said. He turned and faced Se'Lah, and the group. "Night will soon fall, and it's very dangerous to travel. However, I need to go towards the main city. The rest of you can stay here, or come with us, but if we do go, we need to leave in the next few minutes." Mark said, as he placed the wood he had gathered inside what his clan had used as a food shack. "When we reach the mountains, we'll set up a camp for the night. It'll be the safest location to do so."

Shae helped carry a body into the shack, then scavenged a rucksack and some food from the shack to feed them and the survivors, if there were any. Then something occurred to her. "They didn't take the food..." Shae mused aloud as the others finished loading the wood and bodies into the shack. "Even cannibals need grain and vegetables, but they didn't touch any of it..." She wasn't sure what it meant, but it was something. Although just to be on the safe side, she began sniffing the food she had scavenged to make sure it wasn't tainted or poisoned.

After Mark had pulled away from Se'Lah, the Vulcan woman had been content to stand guard to help ensure the safety of those in the camp. While the others couldn't hear the soft conversation he, and Shae had, her Vulcan ears picked it up. She'd ignored what had been said in that low conversation, until the option for the others to stay or go had been presented. Now she walked up to both Shae and Mark, speaking in low tones. "You both bring up good point in your arguments, but now is not the time for indecision." She said simply. "Despite the dangers of traveling at night, leaving us here without someone who knows this world is a death sentence, so I have a better idea."

Se'Lah looked between the two of them, her Vulcan training allowing her to remain passive, her gaze finally settling on Shae. "Let me go with Mark to the city. That way you can remain here to keep an eye on the others, and he can still have a trained operative with him." the look in Se'Lah's eyes as she made the suggestion practically pleaded with Shae to allow her to do this. "I can also serve as an objective companion to help minimize the risks."

Mark looked at Se'Lah, and then at Shae. He was content to go alone, to find who had done this, and kill them, painfully. But he trusted Shae, and he trusted Se'Lah. He wouldn't dishonour them by making a decision for them, he would trust their judgement.

"I will stay with the 'boyscouts' when we make camp in the mountains," Shae said with a nod. "You will go with him into the city," she affirmed to Se'Lah.

Mark, listening to what Shae was saying, didn't disagree with anything. At the moment, he wasn't sure he had the strength to argue with anyone. He wanted...he wanted revenge. He wanted to track down the rest of the cannibals, and wipe them all out. He wanted to get the ship and unload as many photon torpedoes as he could. But he had a mission to complete. He forced himself to focus on that as he drew a Kulak, and knelt down by the centre of the camp. He gripped the blade with his hand. "I swear to you, brothers and sisters, I will avenge you. I swear this, on my blood." He said, as he allowed his hand to be cut lightly, enough to allow drops of his blood to hit the ground, sealing his pact.

Shae stood by, watching as he shed his blood to seal his oath. Shae never understood the need for such a gesture; either your word meant everything or it meant nothing, so why were bodily fluids necessary to make it more.... real? Once he was done, she looked to Se'Lah and the Security personnel. "Come, we'll have to move quickly if we want to reach the foothills by nightfall." Then she headed out of the settlement, expecting to be followed.

Se'Lah gestured to the others to follow, before she stepped in line next to Mark. She was silent, because she knew that no words could help him in this moment, but she did reach out to gently take his hand. Even if words weren't enough, she knew he needed at least some support.

Gonnadie shook his head as he followed after them. What was supposed to be a simple mission was now turning into a ploy for revenge. He inwardly wondered what was going to happen next.

Mark stood up, allowing his hand to be taken by Se'Lah's. "We need to move quickly, before night fall. We'll need to go as quickly as we can." Mark said. "Shae, scout ahead as we run, warn us if there are any more tribes coming." Mark said, as he looked at them. He looked at the shed where the bodies now were, and went to the small fire that had been used by the cannibals. Taking a lit piece of wood, he lit the shed, and watched as the flames began to take hold of the building. "Let's go."

Se'Lah gestured to Gonnadie, and the security officers to follow, as the group left the camp. As they walked, she asked him low. "Are you ok?" She knew what the answer would be, but asking just seemed right.

Mark shook his head. "No. I failed them, Se'Lah. They're dead because I failed them." He replied, just as quietly.

As they walked, Se'Lah reached over, taking his hand to give him at least some comfort. "I'm here for you." She replied, looking over at him. "I won't let you go through this alone."

Mark lifted her hand and kissed it. "I know. Thank you, Se'Lah." He said. "I don't think I'd be able to manage this without you by my side."


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