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Story Notes:

Historian's note: The main events take place in March of 2376 (Earth Gregorian calendar), two and a half months after the end of the Dominion War as seen in "To the Bitter End" and the DS9 series finale "What You Leave Behind" The flashback scenes depict events occurring from 2357 to 2368.


He ran his hands across her shoulders and down her arms while arching his body upward with hers. He gently puckered his lips along the contours of her cheeks and let the kisses run down her neck. She tilted her head backwards while moaning pleasurably. They clasped each other’s hands as they leaned back down on the bed. Their noses touched nimbly as they smiled blissfully. She tightened her grip on his hands and arched herself back into an upward position.

Her breathing was slow and labored; her mouth gaping open; and she let out a sustained ecstatic moan. As the euphoric tingling across her skin subsided, she lowered her body downward and rested her head on his bare chest.

***

A male human smiled contentedly even as he lay unconscious on a medical examination bed.

An elderly Cardassian man stood over the human patient while staring pensively at a set of readings on a readout screen situated on the wall just at the head of the biobed. The Cardassian doctor then loaded a hypospray and adjusted the dosage to be administered. He applied the hypospray to his neck and injected the drug into his carotid artery. The Cardassian nodded lightly as the readout screen revealed a new set of numbers.

The doctor slowly backed away from biobed and turned around to study another patient. This one was a dark-haired human woman. He adjusted a pair of monitoring devices perched atop her forehead. Glancing at the biobed readouts, he grunted triumphantly. He had been having a harder time extracting the most basic information from her mind. After hours of adjusting the settings on the mental probes, he was finally able to extract what he already knew about her—that she was Mariana Katel, a civilian law consultant for both the Starfleet Judge Advocate General and the Starfleet Diplomatic Corps. He looked back at his male patient and wondered why he had easier time performing the same baseline tests on Ronnie Kozar, a twenty-five year Starfleet veteran.

“Doctor Moset?” a booming masculine voice called, slightly startling the doctor.

Doctor Crell Moset saw a middle-aged male Cardassian in a military uniform enter the lab, much to his annoyance. Gul Draylek had visited the lab on what seemed like an hourly basis. Moset dreaded having to once again tell the Gul he had no pertinent information on the human interlopers’ purpose on Kimorius. The impatience in Draylek’s voice this time indicated to Moset such an answer was not acceptable to him. Military officers could be notoriously impatient, demanding nothing but results and for those results to be delivered in an unrealistically expedient manner. And because of that, Moset had been forced to take many shortcuts throughout his career as a scientist.

“Again, I have learned nothing other than confirmation of their identities,” Moset offered, even knowing that statement would not sufficiently pacify Draylek.

“Then you were able to disable the woman’s neural depolarizer?” Draylek said while approaching Moset with slow and intimidating steps.

“Seeing as she is alive,” Moset replied, with a glance at Katel, “I’d say I was. I’m curious, though. How did you know how to manipulate such a device? Obsidian Order and True Way operatives haven’t made much progress beyond poison.” 

“That is not your concern,” Draylek hissed with a cold stare into Moset’s eyes. “You are concerned with extracting information from the prisoners, not to use them as research subjects for one of your pet projects.”

Moset became increasingly apprehensive that one ill-chosen word would lead his latest employer to physically harm him. “I understand,” he said with quick glances at his research subjects. “I have learned a few things that might speed matters along.”

Draylek squeezed Moset’s chin, applying pressure to his cheeks with the tips of his fingers. “What have you learned, Doctor? Consider yourself warned that if I don’t like what I hear, I will be very displeased.”

Moset lightly massaged the muscles in his cheeks once Draylek let go. “Like I said, learning any pertinent information will take time,” he grudgingly reiterated. “This is merely a baseline comparison. The humanoid brain still remains the most enigmatic organ.

“I did find chemical traces of what is colloquially known as the Venus drug within Miss Katel’s aphrodisiac,” he went on taking slow steps towards Katel’s biobed, “which could theoretically serve as an effective additive to the latest experimental drugs designed to distort a subject’s sense of reality. The artificial enhancement of her pheromones by itself has triggered memories of home and happier times in Mister Kozar. And by these readings, I’d guess he’s remembering making love to her. I will proceed with a series of experiments to determine what combination of drugs will be necessary to allow either of them to freely reveal their purpose here.”

“You have two solar days, Moset,” Draylek said with a less intimidating tone.

“That may not be enough time,” Moset nervously offered.

“It will have to be. For all we know, they are the first of many spies seeking to turn Cardassia into a Federation world. You are very resourceful. You will find a way to know what they know.”

Moset grudgingly nodded. “Of course. And there’s also the matter of when I receive my payment. Some details seem unclear.”

Draylek leaned towards Moset. “The finder’s fee has been transferred to the Klaestron Central Bank. If I get no satisfactory results in the time you have left, that payment will be voided. And I will have your head on a pike. Does that make those details clearer?”

Moset exhaled as he felt a morbid chill on his skin. “Absolutely,” he assured the Gul.

***

Ronnie stared blissfully into Mariana’s sparkling blue eyes. Beads of sweat trickled down her forehead as she smiled with an ecstasy that Ronnie found hypnotic. It was an image he wanted to keep engrained in his memory when he left to assume his first Starfleet Marine posting.

They had been lovers for nearly a year since that night they met at a diplomatic function near the Meles Two training facility. During her time off from law school and his from Marine training, they met at convenient locations.

Here, he wanted so badly not to have to leave her. Even when they were separated for significant periods time, she was the one constant in an ever-changing universe. This was different, though. He dreaded that this moment would be the last time he held her in his arms.

“Do you really think this can work out?” Mariana asked him, as her chin was perched on his chest.

“I really hope so,” Ronnie answered, stroking her bare shoulder. “We’ve made it this far. Each time distance separates us, we’ve grown that much more attached to each other.”

“When do you have to leave?” she asked, as if fearing the answer to that question.

While clasping her hand that rested on his heart, Ronnie took a quick look at the chronometer on the nightstand to his right. “The transport ships out in about two hours,” he said. He kissed her on the lips before gently nudging her aside and bolting towards the shower.

After five minutes in the tiny shower alcove, Ronnie stepped out and wrapped a towel around his waist. As he headed towards the bedroom, he grinned mischievously at the still naked Mariana. She had flung the bedcovers aside and sat at the edge of the bed. And with a contemplative stare at him, she leaned forward with her neck perched on her hands and her elbows perched on her thighs.

He knew that look all too well. It was one meant to guilt him into staying longer. For a brief second, he was tempted, but he would never give in. They had said their goodbyes, and hanging around for much longer would make him want to stay despite his new duty assignment.

“Too bad that shower doesn’t have room for two,” Mariana teased.

“Yeah,” Ronnie said with a sigh. “Too bad. It’s all yours now.”

Mariana stood up and put her arms around his shoulders. “Just don’t get killed on your Marine assignment,” she half-jokingly urged him.

Ronnie took a quick up and down look at her fully nude body. “You’re my reason to survive,” he said with a soulful stare into the pair of eyes that glistened like the stars of the Beta Hydri cluster.

Mariana kissed him on the lips. “I love you. Be safe.”

“I love you, too,” Ronnie replied.

After one more kiss, she sauntered towards the shower alcove. She waved goodbye and puckered her lips as she stepped into the shower.

He stared longingly in her direction for a few moments after she engaged the water flow. A quick peripheral glance at the pile of clothes on the chair to his left and he brought back to reality.

Now was the time to leave. No more putting this off.



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