The Truth, Part I
Who: Gil Meriatha Korat (NPC) and Ensign Nikki Barclay (NPC)
Where: TBD, probably the Portland or the Symposium grounds
When: During the Symposium, Mission 7
Holographic algorithms and probability matrices flashed past on the screen in front of a certain Cardassian exchange officer. She was intently, and expertly, scanning through work that normally would be associated with the chief of operations.
The doors to the holo-lab on the Portland whooshed open, revealing Ensign Nikki Barclay, in her usual frantic state, clutching a PADD under her arm. "Hey Marcus," she exclaimed, walking in, "I've looked into things to do on Trill; there are some nice nature trails, and I've found a restaurant that claims to have the best protein-cube salad on--"
Freezing in place, Nikki started at the Cardassian in front of her. "You're not Marcus," she said, stating the obvious.
The Cardassian woman said, without turning around, "And you aren't Lieutenant Kallan, either." She placed emphasis on Marcus' rank for a reason. "Since you're on a first-name basis with him, perhaps you can tell me where he is? I've a few security locks on his research that I need undone if I'm going to..."
"Security locks!" exclaimed Nikki, her mind instantly wandering to the worst possible conclusion. "What are you, some sort of spy? Omigod, you're trying to steal Nerys' program! Well, I won't let you kidnap her! I'll... I'll... I can scream pretty loud!"
"Ensign Nikki Barclay," the Cardassian woman said, finally turning to regard Nikki with a critical eye. "I've read your file. You've impressive skills that would go very far in the Cardassian Union. Unfortunately your emotional deficiencies would require more conditioning than you'd be worth." She stood up from her seat and crossed the room halfway to Nikki, a hand outstretched. "Gil Meriatha Korat. I had Lieutenant Kallan first." As if the personal attack and arrogance didn't happen, she seemed as if she actually expected Nikki to take her hand in greeting.
Nikki reached for Meriatha's hand, but at the last instant, she pulled away. "You haven't eaten any Yamok sauce recently, have you? I'm deathly allergic. At least, I think I am. I've avoided it for years. This one time, I had a chicken wing that had some yamok sauce on it and I--" Freezing in place, Nikki stared at Meriatha. "Wait," she said, with caution in her voice, "what do you mean you had him first?"
"Had him," Merry repeated, her hand dropping slowly to her side, and then she began ticking off the different permutations on her fingers. "Met him, worked with him, pursued him, bedded him, declared I would bear his children," she said. "We were to be married on Cardassia. It was going to be a glorious wedding..." She almost pouted. Almost.
Picking her jaw up off the floor, Nikki shook her head in disbelief. "I'm sorry, you must be confused," she said, clearly in denial. "Perhaps you're thinking of a different Marcus. This Marcus hasn't been engaged before. He would have told me if he were, and since he didn't, that means that clearly, you must be mistaken."
Nodding, with a growing smirk, Merry said, "Yes, that must the case. Human males seem to forget to brag when it's most advantageous." Folding her arms across her chest and shifting her weight to one hip, she looked Nikki up and down. Seemingly random, she stated, "You don't look very fertile."
Nikki placed her hands on her hips and angrily glared at the Cardassian. "I'll have you know I'm very fertile! Dr. Silverton told me so on my triweekly visit to sickbay!"
Laughing with an almost musical cadence, she said, "Then you're wasting your time on Marcus, I'm afraid. His legacy isn't nearly as important to him as his work, which, I suppose, is a faulty human trait. Something about 'responsibility to Starfleet' and 'space is dangerous and not for raising children'. Something about his trauma about the Borg, I think." She clucked her tongue dismissively. "Still, it's not like we didn't have plenty of practice at Starbase 173..."
An odd sound emanated from Nikki. It began as a groan, and crescendoed through a squeal and into a scream, punctuated by a stamping of her feet and a clattering of her PADDs on the floor. "No!" she exclaimed. "It's not like that! We have something special between the two of us! He even told me so himself!"
"Oh, you precious, naive child," Meriatha said, feigning being moved by Nikki's outburst. She even bent down to pick up a PADD for Nikki. Offering it to her, she said, "Then perhaps you should confront him and learn the truth. I wouldn't want you to have wasted your best years on someone as deceitful as Marcus." Inwardly, Merry was rather pleased at the turnabout which lead Nikki right into her trap.
"Deceitful?" asked Nikki, slowly taking the PADD in her hand. "I think you have the wrong Marcus. He's the most honest person I know. He..." Nikki's voice began to tremble and her body began to quiver. "He... told me that himself."
Nodding, and still maintaining her soft, sympathetic voice, Meriatha said, "I'm sorry. You would have found out eventually. Better it be from a friend than from him." For all her manipulations, she certainly had no trouble completely sabotaging her supposed superior officer's love life.
"I... I..." Nikki looked around, utterly devastated by the information she was receiving. "How could I have been so stupid?" she cried, throwing her PADD onto a desk. "I thought he loved me. Even more than how much he loved his work and his stupid protein cubes..."
Time to put the icing on the cake. "And... yamok sauce," Meriatha added. She didn't even need to make it sound plausible, given Nikki's emotional state. "Couldn't get enough of it," she quipped. She switched to a matter-of-factly way of speaking. "So, if you see him, please let him know I need his assistance with something pressing." And she turned to resume her work, as if Nikki wasn't even there.
Staring at her terminal, Meriatha didn't even bother looking at Nikki. But she heard the whoosh of the door opening, the sound of fast steps heading out of the room and down the corridor, and before the door closed, a faint sobbing.
Chief Operations Officer