Dox's Leap 11: Left Behind - Part 2 of 2
Posted on Wed Aug 12th, 2020 @ 12:54pm by Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox
The Bulikaya Particle
Location: The Multiverse, Romulus
Opening her eyes, Dox felt a pinch in her neck as she awoke from her seated position on the cot, having no idea how long she had dozed off for. From the heaviness she still felt in her eyes, she didn’t think it could have been all that long.
Stretching, she lifted off of the cot and walked back into the main chamber of the subterranean bunker her counterpart lived in, but it appeared she was alone. The makeshift comm station was turned off and there was no sign of the other her in the small room. Walking over to the heavy, metal door, she gave a tug on the latch, but it was clearly locked as it refused to even budge. She was alone.
The comm equipment was all familiar to her and if she had to, she could probably call for help. But anyone who could hear her wouldn’t exactly be showing up to rescue her. The disruptor was also gone and Dox wondered if there were any weapons in any of the crates before she heard the massive door thud. After a few seconds, she heard the latch open and the door pulled open gently. In the darkness of the tunnel, she saw that familiar green glow of her double’s disruptor.
“Good, you’re awake. And you didn’t do anything stupid.” Came her own voice from the darkness as Min stepped back in. Tossing the weapon back on the table, she pulled what looked to be a fairly heavy duffle bag from her back and dropped it on the concrete ground.
Leaving it there a moment, she turned around and re-secured the large metal door. “You were out hard, so I had to lock you in. Sorry if that was… an unpleasant way to wake up, but I couldn’t take any chances.”
“How long was I asleep?” Dox asked, stretching out the kink in her neck.
“Hour and a half, tops. I wasn’t gone long.” Min said as she pulled a small electrical component out of her jacket pocket and wedged it into the side of the comm unit. Clearly, she had made sure that it wasn’t going to work while she was away either. “Couldn’t have you mucking about and giving away my position.”
“Makes sense.” Dox said, looking down at the bag. “What’s that?”
“Chemical fuel pods. A dozen of them. The kind used to power the older kinds of flitters in the city. The bigger cities haven’t used them in… easily three to four decades… but they’re still common in the poorer districts and provinces.”
“They help us keep the lights on down here. They also work as powerful, but compact explosives with a little reworking.” Min said with a mirthless grin as she took off her jacket and sat back on the couch.
“Is that what you are, now? The kind of person who blows things up?” Dox asked, a little more smug sounding than she had intended. It was a tone that her counterpart clearly did not appreciate.
“Does that offend your delicate sensibilities? Is that not the Starfleet way?” The dark-haired counterpart asked, leaning forward. “The Starfleet way is a privledge here, Lieutenant Commander. And getting anything done here requires more than strong words and noble intentions. So yes, I got my hands very dirty, if you must know.”
“I would certainly like to know? How did you go from working on someone’s farming business to…” Dox said, as Min cut her off, rising to her feet.
“A terrorist? Is that the word you’re trying to avoid?” She said, hissing out the words. “It took a bit of doing and a little more time. And a little more to lose.”
Turning, Min went back to the chair by the comm station and sat back down, almost flumping in the chair as she picked up the story from earlier. “Tr’Krahhlae’s business had been growing steadily… beyond just farming. He was having me oversee repairs for other local farmers. He was beginning to build a respectable business on the skills of the girl whose mother taught her how to maintain a Romulan Singularity Drive when she was ten. I knew how to keep real engines running. I mean, I was no chief engineer, but for where I was... I was overskilled.”
“And with that extra freedom I had earned, he began… renting me out to larger businesses in the Provence. Public transportation systems that needed tuning… the local manufacturing plants… I had become… valuable.” Min shook her head and chuckled. It was that same, humorless laugh as before, her eyes fixed on her other self sitting in the clean, crimson Starfleet uniform.
“One such plant, three towns over, produced warp capable shuttles for the military.” Min leaned forward, tenting her fingers before her. “It took a little convincing… but I had tr’Krahhlae’s ear and even without a name of my own, I could use his by this point if it served him. I had helped him build a skilled staff of maintenance workers to keep his farms running well without my direct oversight. Rita’s command training paying off. And the Shuttle plant was willing to pay him VERY well for the services of his chief maintenance servant. So, after a while, another couple of months, I had a new job. One that might eventually have given me the means to get off of this planet.”
“And I was good at it… too good.” Mnhei’sahe’s eyebrow went up at that cryptic comment as Min kept talking. “Tr’Krahhlae wasn’t an idiot. He started questioning this girl he bought, now. A girl with the thinnest of pasts, no family name, no work records, and too many skills. I could fly, repair basic farm equipment OR elaborate, modern engines and computers? And… as you well know… our people are nothing if not suspicious by nature.”
“So, I returned home after a particularly long day and was called into his study. And there… standing behind his desk with a disruptor in hand, he gestured down to the two items on it. He had searched my chamber… found what I had thought I had hidden better. And old, damaged Romulan military comm badge that didn’t work anymore. The black hair dye I used to maintain my appearance… and my hairbrush. And in that brush… a single…”
The haggard-looking woman trailed off as Mnhei’sahe finished her sentence for her, “Red hair.”
“A red hair.” She replied with a nod. “There was still a healthy reward out there for the Starfleet spy, Mnhei’sahe Dox. And his curiosity was enough to call up my old pictures and that was IT. I was found out. He threatened to contact the security forces. I…”
For a moment, Min dipped her head as she thought and then shook it off and continued. “I begged him not to do it. To show me… mercy. I pleaded with him that I wasn’t a spy… told him about Grandmother and that I had been abandoned here. That I was just trying to survive. And… for a moment… I actually thought he might have been listening. I was… desperate. And in that moment… if he had offered to keep my secret… I really believe I would have stayed. Accepted my fate, kept my head down, and been a good servant.” She looked up with a reserved expression and said ironically. “If I’m to be honest with myself. THAT was how far I had fallen.”
“Then… he put his hand on his comm system.” Min sat back, a cold expression on her face. “He had pulled out a disruptor and trained it on me and began to call the security forces. He said… I remember it word for word, burned into my memory. ‘I like you and you’ve shown me loyalty, Min. I extended to you the benefits of my house and my name and you served both honorably… but the reward for you is worth what you earn me three times in a year, and if you’re caught, it would be my head and the heads of everyone else under this house and that is too high a risk to take. I am sorry’.”
“He made the call, and as he did, I simply… moved. I grabbed the disruptor and twisted it until his wrist popped and I could feel his bones grind against each other. Pulling him forward, across the desk, I dug my free hand into his throat and twisted again. He… he started turning this color… I had never seen a man’s face turn. Like a deep turquoise gray. His eyes went wide and the whites... filled green. He tried to claw at my arm with his free hand and pull away. He scratched me and drew blood, but no matter how much it hurt, I didn’t budge. I just twisted that much tighter. He couldn’t speak and honestly… I doubt I could have heard him if he did. All I could hear was my own heartbeat pounding so loud in my ears as he died right there in my hands.”
Suddenly, her eyes betrayed her heart as Min had genuine regret behind her facade. “Yes, he had purchased me. Worked me like the slave I was. But in many respects, he had been a good man. I was given certain luxuries for my loyalty over those months and he had never tried to force himself on me or any of the other servants. He was what he was… but as he died in my hands… I mourned him. And I mourned what was left of YOU in ME. I could have just disarmed him and ran. The call had already been made… the security forces would come regardless. Had I ran, he would still be alive. But I killed him.”
Standing back up, Min walked over to where her shocked doppelganger sat. “That was it, I ran. I grabbed a bag with the few bits of clothing I had and threw… threw some of his more expensive serving utensils. So of the latinum I knew he kept hidden in a secret drawer in his desk I knew the combination for. Whatever I could carry with value. Then, I disabled the reception circuits in his flitter so it couldn’t be remotely deactivated or tracked, and I left. But I knew where I was going.”
“All my work was… gone. I lost everything I had been building. My false identity was useless and flagged. The Tal’Shiar knew that their lost prize was still alive. At first, all I had left was my desire to not be caught. To not end up back in the Ju’rot until they finally broke my mind. I wanted to finally find a way off of this… Elements-forsake planet.” She rolled her head back and chuckled again. “Yes… a lifetime of wanting to be here and only then did I really understand what Mother had been trying to warn us about. Only then did I realize that this entire planet is a prison. I wanted off. But there, running that flitter through the woods on low power with no lights, hoping I didn’t fly into a tree while the security forces were overhead, it came to me.”
“Mnhei’sahe Dox was a spy. Min ir-Elehu was a murderess. And I wasn’t leaving.” Min said, her eyes dipping low and her voice cracking a bit. “No. This world took everything from me. I had no family here and nobody to run TOO even if I escaped. So I decided to fight, instead.”
“I took that flitter to the plant. At night, it had low security, but nothing in there would fly even if I could crack the access codes. But they could still explode, and I was… fed up. Tired of running and hiding. Tired of playing nice and just existing. Verelan waned me to stay on Romulus to make a difference, and I decided then and there, that I was going to.” She continued while Dox listened. “I had been keeping track of it’s security and the lax defenses and it was easy enough to slip in. I took the disruptor and set it to overload and got back out. I ran through that courtyard to the gap in the fence that I came in at.”
“To my surprise, it worked!” She said, with an angry grin as she shook her head. “Then, the few guards on security came running, and the holo cameras all trained on me and that burning building. I used what I knew to disarm those guards as quickly… and as violently… as I could. I was being recorded, after all. Rendal and her lackeys would see. See what they had made. So, I stood there in the center of that destruction as I could hear the security forces coming in the distance and I SCREAMED into that camera. I screamed the one word that said EVERYTHING I needed it to.”
“Mnhei’sahe.” She said, raising an eyebrow.
“I started something, there.” Min continued, leaning over and tenting her fingers. “Yes, the security forces came, but I was long gone by the time they did, with all of those guards weapons, and a purpose. And what I did and said had been seen, as well. He Tal’Shair saw it. The SENATE saw it. RENDAL saw it. But somehow… so did the people.”
That comment elicited a raised eyebrow from Dox, surprised by that, to which Min nodded. “I hadn’t expected it either. But… somewhere along the chain. Somewhere, some Romulan citizen working in the government copied that recording and put it out there. Broadcast it on pirate signals. Plastered pictures on walls. Suddenly, I was a revolutionary, not just a fugitive. And when I saw how that had spread, I realized I was not alone, here.
“But the crack-down had been… very effective. Very little was getting off of Romulus and almost nothing was getting in.” Min continued while Mnhei’sahe just kept listening and learning. Learning who she truly was when she had nothing else to lose.
“I still had nowhere to go, and a painfully famous face. So I ended up on the streets again. There was… a family. They had been chased down… the alley I had taken to sleeping in. My hair was a bit longer then, and mostly red again but for the old black ends still holding on from the last time I had been able to dye it. Anyway, the family… a man, a woman and three children… the oldest couldn’t have been more than 13… they were reunificationists. As you may know, not a welcome group on Romulus. They were on the run and were being chased down by two local security officers for spreading illicit literature. Literature about the former Starfleet officer who had returned to the Hearthworld to bring it’s people freedom. Dangerous literature. They got caught in my alley. Not ten feet from where their hero was praying to Al’thindor that nobody would look.”
“Praying… until they hit the youngest girl for screaming for them to let the mother go. She… looked to be about… four. Maybe five.”
After a long moment of silence, the dark-haired doppleganger continued. “Before I even knew it, the first officer… I threw him against the far wall. Hard enough to crack even a Romulan skull on impact. The second raised his disruptor and… Well. That’s when I added ‘murderer of security forces’ to my growing record. But… it had been seen. Not just by the family, but by a security pod that had followed them down the alley. And I stood there… staring at the camera with the dead man’s disruptor in my hand and I screamed my name again. Then I fired. Destroyed it and went to run… but the girl. The girl called out for me to stop and I froze like a child myself.”
“They… they knew a place to hide. It was where they were running when they were caught. Where there were others. More reunificationists in hiding, beneath the city. And they told me to come with them.” Min said flatly. “And being very out of options, I said ‘yes’ and followed. There were dozens of Rihhansu down in the sewers. Whole families huddled together for warmth, desperate for freedom. Desperate to escape Romulus. And there I stood, with nothing left.”
“No hope of rescue. No hope of escape. No hope of finding any kind of safety on my homeworld. I was a murderess. A criminal. Labeled a spy and a traitor, and now a terrorist. I had no property. No family. No name. I… had nothing left. Nothing except what I could do. So… I gave it to them.” Min said with a reserved sigh as she stood back up again.
“And here I am, I am a terrorist member of an underground movement to free Romulus for the Romulan people. I had a lifetime of training as a smuggler. Training in starfleet. Training as a Baroness. So… I used it for the only thing I had left, and I traded up to my final name. The name that nobody would take from me. MOTHER’S name, that the government stripped from her for the crime of not murdering reunificationists. So now... now I’m Mnhei’sahe of house Aan. I took it, hoping maybe they would hear it and know back in the Federation that I didn’t die here. That I’ve been here the whole time waiting for a family that let me go. And that I found a new one that needed me more.” The hardened woman looked down at the image of herself from another life.
“So, now you know, Lieutenant Commander. This… accident has let you see what you could have become… and let me see what I might have been if the Hera had bothered. And I wonder who has it worse now?” Min said as Mnhei’sahe stood back up to look into her own eyes.
“Yes, in my reality, they came for me. Enalia and Rita. Mona was unharmed during the kidnapping and the children.... they’re beautiful, Min…” Mnhei’sahe said, slowly raising her hand to hold it out to herself… to offer to connect again. At the sight, Min’s eyes went wide and she shoved Mnhei’sahe back away from her, screaming.
NO!!! No! That’s not my life anymore! Those aren’t… how dare you!!! How DARE you come here and bring me this! As she shouted, she horked back and drew out a spit that slapped at Mnhei’sahe’s boots. “Enalia could have come to me. REI could have come to me. She came to let me see my FATHER DIE, but not to HELP ME!!! NONE OF THEM CAME FOR ME!!! So I don’t need them now!”
“You know that everyone did everything that they could. Everything they were capable of doing. And they likely still are. You may want to pretend that it isn’t true, but you know it is, even if it hurts that they haven’t found you yet.” Looking down for a moment, Mnhei’sahe looked at her feet, and then at the Starfleet badge on her chest. As she did, she felt the now familiar shimmer surging withing her again.
“I know your Mona is gone. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. And I know there’s nothing I can do… but I Know that Enalia hasn’t given up on you. There’s NO way that… she...” Dox said, knowing her time in this reality was almost up. But in that moment, the pieces finally fell into place and she knew where she was. This was the reality that Kodria came from. Meaning that Enalia left her on Romulus because it wasn’t really Enalia.
Feeling that her time was almost up, Dox’s mind raced as she remembered the events of the Artan Tribunal, where Enalia and her Evil Mother crossed swords and, had Enalia WON, that sword that her Mother had planted for her to use would have caused both women to swap minds. Enalia would have died IN her Mother’s body, at her own blade. But Rita stopped it by killing Arenara Artan with her phaser. Meaning that the TRUE divergence in this timeline was THAT. Rita must have failed to save Enalia. The Enalia that made a half-hearted effort at a diplomatic solution was really the Captain’s mother, living in that body. Which meant there was something Dox could do.
“Wait… Kodria. You remember Kodria?” Mnhei’sahe asked, the need and rush in her voice now, as she began to shimmer again, about to leave.
“What? Y… yes. What about her?” Minja asked, a look of genuine confusion on her face.
“This… your life here. This is HER timeline. She changed things in mine. RITA changed things in mine. But Enalia… did your Enalia kill her mother in a swordfight?!” Dox shouted, feeling that wave overtaking her.
“Yes? Why?! What’s going on?” Min shouted back, picking up her disruptor out of habit at the unusual outbursts.
“Then she’s NOT Enalia! That’s why she didn’t come! It’s HER MOTHER!!! Arenara STOLE Enalia’s body, Min!!! But you can do something!!”
As reality began to come undone, Mnhei’sahe did the only thing she could think to do and snatched the Comm Badge off of her chest and tossed it at Min’s feet. “Remember Rita! She called and Sonak found her through her old communicator. Across TIME and SPACE, he found her! They ARE looking. RITA is looking, I know it! And now… you can tell her where…”
Then, the tunnel and her other self vanished again into the swirling mists as she felt herself moved through time and space again. In the now silent, dimly lit chamber buried deep on Romulus, the woman who had given up the name of Mnhei’sahe Dox leaned over and picked up the gold and silver Starfleet Delta on the floor. The commbadge with technology she could use to call for help, with just a bit of work. The compass that pointed away from what she had become given to her by a mirror of the woman she used to be, who left behind the one thing that the woman who called herself Min had thought she had lost…
But she had something else now, as Mnhei’sahe t’Aan smirked ever so slightly and tucked the commbadge into her jacket pocket. Here, at the end of her hope, she found a different purpose. Different people who needed her. Maybe one day, she would use that badge and reach out through subspace to those old friends. Maybe one day, she would be ready to escape. But for today, there was work to be done if her new home would have any of the hope that she felt in her heart again.
To Be Continued…