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JL | Danielle Atarah, Kalina Zett | Earth Syndicate | Reconstruction, Pt IV: "Can’t Turn Back Now"

Posted on 241708.30 @ 7:16pm by Danielle Atarah

Mission: Non-Plot Log
Location: Earth

Dani huffed, glancing at her wrist to check the time, wiping sweat off her forehead. For hours. Not bad. She would still have time to finish her run and get the last bits ready. Not that there are any real last bits left. She was as ready as she'll ever be, which was mostly true because if she wasn't, she would never have a chance be again.

She breathed and continued, feeling the cool air on her face. Going for a jog may not be everyone’s first choice during an existential crisis, but it was certainly Dani’s best move. She had to clear her mind, summarize her thoughts, and prepare for what was to come. She had to relax, so she could be focused when it mattered.

She slowed her pace, running past a fake holographic tree with a bird's nest in its branches. She found herself smiling at it. The reproduction of Union Square in midtown Manhattan was flawless, down to the last ruffling leaves and random uncollected dog poop from the edge of the stairs going down to the Subway. It was incredibly realistic.

Except for the complete and utter lack of all people, that is. Dani usually enjoyed this simulation with characters around to banter with (or, in the case of New York City, to yell and gesture angrily at) but this time, removing the people was the first thing she did before setting foot in the vast holodeck, preparing to run with her thoughts to keep her company. She needed to quiet her mind and use the time to concentrate on the plans.

Today would either end in fantastically incredible victory that would last for years to come… or with a devastating defeat that will probably mean their deaths. Or worse.

Because there were things that were worse than death.

The birds tweeted above her as she turned towards Broadway, passing an abandoned simulated food cart. The smell made her hungry. She ignored it. There was time for a shower, a snack, and a change of clothes before today's events, and she needed this time to think.

“I never could see the charm in this place,” Zett called out, appearing down the street, walking out of the open door of one of the stores that peppered the sidewalk. The computer did a pretty good job hiding the holodeck’s entrance; Zett looked like she was just strolling out of the expanded Macy’s after a day of shopping. That is, she would have looked like that, if it weren’t for the deeply unsettling worried coldness that shone chillingly from her eyes.

“It's much nicer... with… people around,” Dani huffed, slowing to a stop near the Trill, raising her arms up above her head and pacing briskly to cool down.

“I doubt that,” Zett smiled without humor, her eyes dark with concern. They were all stressed and exhausted, and tired, and scared, even if none of them would admit it out loud. Dani and Zett didn’t need to admit it out loud; they both saw it in each others’ eyes.

Dani took a couple of deep breaths, pacing and stretching her legs, letting the sweat trickle down her neck and into her shirt. She extended an arm and took the water bottle Zett offered, lifting it to her mouth to drink a generous amount, pouring the rest over her head, feeling the chilled liquid cool her skin. “You ready?”

“Not even remotely,” Zett gave her a weary smile. She had no need for her brave ruthless persona here; her true feelings shone through, even if unspoken.

Dani nodded and gave her a reassuring smile. “It’ll work.”

“Yeah, well,” the woman muttered, “can't turn back now.”

“We can,” Dani smiled, lopsided, knowing the answer before the offer was even formed. “We can just drop everything and run.”

Zett smiled back, her weary expression tasting sweetness, “somewhere warm.”

Dani nodded, “With a beach.”

“And endless mimosas.”

Dani chuckled, still sorting her breath, “with tiny plastic umbrellas in them.”

Zett's chuckled, and then paused, watching Dani pace around and calm her pulse, her smile losing its merriment again. She sighed, as if remembering reality was not mimosas and tiny plastic umbrellas. “Anyways. Everything should be in place. Smith is finishing up the last steps and getting everything ready for--”

“I don't want to talk about Smith right now,” Dani walked over, her hair dripping, her breath slower and more stable. She looked up for a moment, examining the tall Trill with the concerned blue eyes, and smiled gently, reaching to touch the woman's cheek. Zett smiled, softly, slowly, as if holding the smile back by force, worried its existence would shatter her completely, afraid to try.
Dani leaned in and pulled the taller woman's face downwards, touching lips with a soft kiss, lingering a moment longer with their heads touching. Zett closed her eyes and sighed.

“How did we get here, D?”

Dani smiled, “You're the best thing that ever happened to me, and I couldn't let Cardello have you.”

Zett smiled too, a small soft smile, as if testing the water and seeing if a moment of respite would drown her. “If we get this done, we'll still be a group of criminals, having to do things you don't like.”

“If we get this done,” Dani smiled, caressing the woman's neck, “we will be the most powerful criminals in the system, and we could do whatever the fuck we want.”

Zett chuckled softly. They both knew it wasn't that simple. They both didn't seem to care right now.

“It'll work, Kal.” Dani closed her eyes again and squeezed herself closer, putting her head at the Trill’s neck, embracing her tightly, whispering in her ear. “You are going to be magnificent.”

“You're the one with the plan,” Zett pointed out, but the objection was empty of resistance, accepting.

“We're both the ones with the plan,” Dani smiled into the crook of Zett's neck, her wet hair brushing the woman's face. She stayed there, absorbed, her arms encompassing the woman tightly, feeling the stress and worry dissipate, slowly, replaced by something else. Companionship? Love? Dani didn't know, and didn't care. It was there, and that was enough.

Zett pulled back a moment, her eyes tired but a spark gleaming behind them, growing in strength. She smiled suddenly, and her entire demeanor changed, and she lit up with bright passionate light that emanated from somewhere deep inside, metamorphosing back into the playful young woman Dani used to know, the one who hid behind the cold blue eyes of the big bad boss.

The Trill leaned forward, suddenly and without thought, as if making a decision that she couldn’t stop or think about, possessed by an external force that was stronger than both of them. Their embrace, the passionate kiss, was explosive, driving the weariness and fear and distress away like an atomic bomb, spreading it far, out, to the outskirts of simulated New York, leaving behind a bubble of confidence, and commitment, and companionship, and love. There was no need for words. Dani knew what it was now. There were no more pressing questions; no more concerns or doubt or fear.

In the background, above them, simulated birds chirped, watching with voyeuristic curiosity, bathing themselves in the bubble of heat that developed below.

They were ready.

- - -

Kalina Zett
The Boss
(Yet-nameless) Earth Syndicate

Danielle Atarah
(Yet-nameless) Earth Syndicate


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