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#13354612 Jul 17, 2017 at 06:25 PM
Fleet Veterans
263 Posts
Astaroth's nature restricted her in some ways. There was enough of her original Undine instinct and neural pathways that her fleshy body would sometimes twitch, but in practice, her real body was several hundred cubic metres of metal.

Still, if she'd had the ability, she would have stiffened. Lazu's new assistant sniffer dog might be good at finding telepaths and Undine, but... the hybrid knew the feel of her mother. Talvius was near.

No, more than that - she was aboard! She nearly panicked, intruder defences whirring to life, drones and turrets emerging from hidden crevices, angrily seeking the intruder.

<You're jumpy,> a psionic voice purred in her mind. A delicate touch ran over her brain, literally, and Astaroth flat out panicked for a split second. Nobody had been in her most private, her most vulnerable place since she'd been forcibly deactivated.

<Relax...> the voice said soothingly. Against her will, Astaroth did so. She felt violated, but at the same time... she was reminded of the days of her childhood. Confused, scared, anxious, unable to move or perceive, only aware of cold metal piercing her flesh and... the comfort of her mother's touch.

<How did you get in here?> Astaroth asked guardedly. <What do you want?>

<Oh sweety, I'm disappointed. Do you really think I wouldn't have a way in? Anyway, it's been a while since we talked. Not since my fit of existential ennui. I'm allowed to check on my favourite daughter, aren't I?>

<I'm your only daughter,> Astaroth replied sulkily.

<That you know of,> Talvius countered. <Anyway. You tried to help me through my depression and now... now I'm returning the favour. You're unhappy.>

<Ten is unconscious, Lazu has vanished off on the warpath, and a lot of people are dead. And it's partially your fault.>

<That's Starfleet talking,> Talvius countered coolly. <Don't talk like one of them. You're not, even if you'd like to be. You're a marvellous and unique creation, beyond any mere double-helix toy. I know you too well, Astaroth. What's really bothering you? Or do you want me to tell you?>

<Why did you send us in there? What do you have to gain?>

<I told that naive little Trill. I don't want anyone making crude copies of my work.>

<They're hardly crude. I've been going over the specifications. These Mandukar and Klinae class are are improvement in every way over your old ships. Including me.>

<Brute force and no subtlety. You're still more than a match for any of them. Oh, you're jealous of a few shiny add-ons, sure, every girl wants the prettiest disruptor banks. But that's not the real problem here.>

Astaroth said nothing. Unnerved at how well her mother could read her even after all this time.

<You're feeling lonely. Abandoned. Isolated. I knew it would come to this, all the way back when you betrayed me. Starfleet doesn't appreciate you. Lazu keeps you at a distance, Ten was a fling at best, Collage is a short-sighted child no matter how big her brain is... and the rest of the fleet keeps you at a distance. And that was tolerable, until suddenly, they're all obsessing over this new Ishtar, wanting to take it intact, make it part of the fleet and a vital asset to the Federation. You obsess, you sulk, you fume, because you've been forgotten, made obselete, ignored.>

<Shut up!> Astaroth lashed out with a psionic blast, but Talvius deflected it easily.

<Truth hurts, darling.>


<No need to scream, my sweet. I just want to frame your situation for you.>

<I'm not joining you again! You're a monster!>

<We're both monsters. You just pretend not to be. All I want, Astaroth... is for you to be happy. And in that spirit... I have a gift for you.>

Astaroth's psychic scream of agony was loud enough to be heard by the entire crew of Starbase 130-T.
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