Obsidian Command

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Milk Run: Recompense for Sin

Posted on 26 Feb 2022 @ 1:43pm by Major Declan Finn & Commander Calliope Zahn
Edited on on 26 Feb 2022 @ 2:48pm

Mission: M2 - Sanctuary
Location: Planet Obsidian, Taragi-Shar Mountains, The Devil's Golden Bowl
Timeline: MD12 ~0800
2188 words - 4.4 OF Standard Post Measure


Not far from where Calliope huddled with Grandmother Juhtama, a knot of emotional outcry broke out. Some of the prisoners were struggling with their whole bodies, their limbs suppressing one of their own number— a man they had been holding back and hiding with their own bodies escaped his own family and friends. Calliope watched the figure press on through the cramped mass of prisoners, the morning sun lighting his familiar pale skin and Romulan features. Leivad was making a dash toward the priest and his copper-green bloodbath before the great door.

“Leivad! No! Don’t!” Calliope called out with the rest of his family. In spite of the murders before them, no one wished to give up the man they knew the High-Priest of the Noroc Tchuru wanted so badly.

He raced up the path the guards had formed between the gathered wretched souls towards the child left wailing on the ground. But before he could grasp his son, he was intercepted by swordsmen who forced his face into the sand, binding his arms.

At the excitement, the Noroc Tchuru priest paused in his progress overseeing the murders of the Romulan refugees in his line up. Calliope discerned the look in his face. Even from this distance, she could see it was not one of pleasure as she might have characterized an evil delight. Instead he appeared very grave, and even troubled. Raising his staff such that his ceremonial robes fanned impressively in the sun, he spoke in an Obsidian tongue, seeming to make a pronouncement. His authoritative voice carried very clearly, as a practiced priest speaking to his congregants. She might have ascribed his tone to be a serious fatherly scolding, but besides the nature of his tone, Calliope could decipher none of it.

What she did understand was the way the guards holding the clearly condemned Leivad led him the rest of the way to his child, where the priest and his executioner joined them. Leivad was bowed over his son, hands restrained behind him.

She couldn’t imagine what a condemned man, with no future hope for his only child could possibly be feeling in his last moments, but after kissing his son’s forehead Leivad arched back as if to present his own throat for sacrifice.

“That others may live, I commit our souls unto the Divine!” Calliope heard him express in his native tongue, and then presumably, volunteer the same in the common Obsidian language. Clearly he believed if he gave himself and his child up for their offense of existing, the Noroc Tchuru would be satisfied with their blood and everyone else would go free.

The priest spat, kicked the sand into a small cloud and did some sort of traditional motion that seemed to be intended to ward off something objectionable. He paused the executioner's stroke with a gesture and then made an additional declaration in Obsidian motioning over the entirety of the assembled Turani and Refugees. Every Noroc Tchuru guard took a prepared stance with his weapon. The desperate crowd took up shrieking and pressing towards the exits. But the great gates were blocked by men with swords. Everyone was blocked into the killing arena of the golden bowl.

Calliope’s eyes widened as she came to stand and tried to buffer herself against the deafening crowd as it pressed in all directions. So this was it, they were all to be slain. She looked over the heads, above the lip of the golden bowl, into the morning sun over the mountains. But the sky was still. Their cries would never carry far enough to be heard. She had come intending to help them but had only managed to seal her own fate with theirs.

Amid the raging chaos, she drew her commbadge out from it’s concealment and held it in her palm. The battery had gone out. It was just a lopsided arrowhead brooch. Nothing more than a token of her oath to protect the people of the Federation with her life. Clutching the symbol, Calliope lifted her head back up, neck arched like Leivad’s. She closed her eyes against the burning light of Loki and asked herself if she was ready for the blade that would soon find her like the rest.

But it was the scream of another that woke her from the strange self-abandon. Reflexively, she fixed the icon to her shoulder where it belonged as she turned towards the horrible sound to watch the nearest three-man guard cutting through the people like so much wheat under the scythe while they carried out the priest’s order. As the crowd pushed back, she pressed forward into the gap, one painful step after another. Several other Turani joined her, deciding to go down fighting. Together, without a word between them, they took on one of the swordsmen by getting inside of his reach as his swing was focused in another direction. Calliope had him by the elbow and then lost track of the entire melee, dizzy as she was thrown.

She found herself face down in the sand, her ribs and arm throbbing sharply, and scrambled to turn back around in time to see a dark outline of the curved sword raised in front of the sun; instinctively she lifted her forearm, her only remaining defense.

The sword froze at its apex, its downward slant interrupted by a puff of green. It was almost as if the man was suddenly frozen in time, unable to move or react and uncertain himself as to what had just happened. A moment later, a sharp crack echoed through the Golden Bowl, piercing the terror of the crowd. The raised sword fell harmless in the sand beside Calliope as its bearer crumpled to his knees and then over - dead. His fellow guards were shouting, looking around frantically for the source of the sound.

One guard snarled in frustration, wiping it from his mind and returned to his work, picking up one of the Turani that had been cast aside by the dead guard. Holding the Turani by the neck, he raised his sword up to strike and did so, only he struck with a bloody stump of a shoulder. His arm and the sword it held fell to the ground with a dull thud. The following crack of sound and the searing hot pain of the wound took a moment to process. Any further thought on the matter was drowned out by the sudden drowsiness that overcame him and he fell forward to the ground.

Chaos followed. Almost all at once, weapons fire erupted from the caverns, filling the bowl with light and sound. It wasn't the prolonged lances of phaser fire but the staccato burp of fire from assault phasers. Burst shots of blue-tinged energy ripped out of the darkness of the caverns and found their marks. The source resolved into the form of a dozen of OC’s Marines in their desert armor emerging in three’s from the caverns.

Their foes weren’t unarmed, but the rapid fire of the Marine’s weapons rendered their bladed weapons useless in a flash. The only concern the Marines had were the archers on the rim of the huge bowl, now raining arrows on them from their high vantage points and forcing them to take some measure of cover. Phaser rifles or not, an arrow shot from that high would have enough velocity to be lethal. At once, two of the archers fell from their mounts and tumbled down the interior of the bowl, one on either side of the crater. The same echoing crack resounded a moment later. Terrified, the others fled the rim for the interior of the bowl.

The Noroc Tchuru High Priest had mounted his own beetle to escape the reach of the Romulan men who had overcome a number of his guards, turning the table on their oppressors when they were distracted by the phaser fire. The lead guard regrouped defensively, the blood stained rider still standing, but guiding his beetle mount and himself to form a physical shield for the retreat of his High Priest into the cover of the mountain itself, where they knew the caverns well enough to conceal from pursuit.

The lead guard turned his attention to the nearest Marine, continuing to block his priest and swung at the blonde-haired man as if to cut him from hip to ear, but he turned his body and his rifle in time to catch the swing on his weapon. He slammed the rifle stock against the blade, pushing it back and then raised the weapon quickly and put a single shot through the warriors chest. He moved on to the Priest retreating quickly and sent a barrage of shots his way, trying to keep him from escaping. The obsidian-glass lined tunnels echoed with the shots, as the six legs of the Priest’s Eralsu became a thousand in the refracted light from the darkly mirrored facets of the cavern walls, and then vanished.

Five of the Marines formed a defensive circle around Calliope as the sixth approached the woman on the ground, his face obscured behind a rebreather to keep the sand and dust at bay. Major Finn pulled it off his face to smirk at Commander Zahn.

“You injured, Commander?” he asked quickly. “I got evac inbound. I need to know if you can move.”

Numbly, she looked down at herself and opened and closed the fist on the good arm, struggling to sit up. “Hey. I’m glad you got my invite,” she said lamely while wincing against what she was sure was a broken rib.

“Almost didn’t,” Finn replied, “You can thank Commander Zayne when we get back. Now, come on,” he said, reaching for her and helping her up by the bicep.

There was a final echoing crack through the cavern as the last of the mounted warriors fell during their flight from the space but silence didn’t fall over the mountain bowl. An eerie high-pitched sound took its place. The kind that made the hairs on the back of one’s neck stand on in - like a banshee screaming in a far off castle. A few moments later the oblong, slightly ungainly form of a marine Albatross landing craft emerged overhead and lowered itself to the ground in the middle of the bowl. It was almost too big for the space, but the pilot set her down with skill, while a further quartet of Marines jumped off, weapons up to hold the access ramp into the vessel.

Calliope put her full weight into Finn. She knew she was barely hopping along. She felt tears running down her face from the pain of moving, and then felt shame for feeling fleshly pain in the face of the deaths she’d just witnessed. Ahead of them she watched as the Turani began carrying their own injured towards the shuttle, even before it had completely set down. Turani tribesmen had long been friendly with Starfleet and their emaciated faces were beaming with the joy of long held hope in their friends proving founded. They seemed to favor one among them first, however, pushing forward an unconscious Romulan man with a gash through his chest. An elder Turani, his sun-raisined skin covered in tribal tattoos, pressed eagerly alongside while carrying a crying baby in his frail arms.

Petty Officer Mamello was waiting on the ramp as the refugee’s came in, already scanning for injuries and shaking his head. They weren’t going to be able to handle this at Cerastes. They were going to have to send multiple patients up to the station, but he was going to have to stabilize them first. They weren’t going to have time to go back to Cerastes to grab any other Corpsman. He had to get these people to Doctor Mazur.

“You must take this father and child. The mother is dead many days now.” The elder implored, pressing the screaming child forward. The baby was unswaddled and completely naked aside from a wrap of various trinkets strung around his shoulders; he was about six months old, his light brown skin covered in soot and his Romulan ears pink to the tips with the red blood of his Turani mother as he belted out his dissatisfaction. “This is the star-child.”

Chimwalla took the child gingerly against his chest, but his eyes were on the man with the gash through his chest. “I’m going to get everyone medical attention, right now,” he declared, “Please, hurry aboard so we can get out of here,” he added, cocking his head inside and now leading the way in with the child.

Once Major Finn had gotten her inside and secured for the journey back, Calliope tried to blink back her tears. She was surrounded by the worst of the injured and dying. As the medics called out directions and communicated with one another, she folded her face downward into one hand and cried involuntary, stabbing, sobs.

 

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