Location: Deck 5 - Holodeck
Timeline: Before "Swords and Shields"
In the corridors of the ship's lower decks, two foes were in a battle to the death. Nyx had been hunting groups of masked intruders who had infiltrated the ship. He was doing so without a weapon or back up. It was pure hand to hand solo combat as the Captain attempted to defend his Pandora. The passage way was only illuminated by the flashing red light alert, making visibility low and his task more difficult. Nyx had slowly and methodically dispatched of the first wave of intruders, using his bare hands to do so, and his confidence was up. But he had been making his way towards the next section when an intruder had surprisingly appeared from out of a jeffries tube. The assailant had wasted no time landing brutal punches onto Nyx and he did the same in return; the two careening down the corridor in a flurry of traded blows.
The Captain pushed the intruder against the bulk head, using brut force and too much energy to do so - but it gave Temple enough room to recover and get into a better position. However, just as Nyx was about to attack, the intruder produced a thin, steel dagger from a sheath - the blade looking noticeably sharp. He made wild swings at Nyx, slashing closer and closer to his body until finally connecting with a deep wound across Temple's chest. Nyx landed hard on the floor, his blood splashing onto the concrete. He groaned in pain but had no time to feel sorry for himself - he knew another attack was imminent.
As he opened his eyes, he saw the black clothed assailant rushing towards him, dagger raised high, aiming for his head. Nyx used what was left of his strength to roll out of the way as the blade came down mere inches from his body. The sound of steel hitting concrete made a sharp, piercing 'clang' into his ears.
Close. Too Close.
Nyx scolded himself for not dodging the last attack soon enough, knowing he should have ducked left instead of backing up. But in taking the time to admonish himself, he had allowed his opponent to recover also. No sooner had Nyx rolled onto his front again, did he see the intruder turn on his heel and drag the dagger up into the air, swinging his arms over and bringing it down upon Nyx's neck.
The killing blow was made and the program froze. A dull buzzer sounded in the Holodeck, indicating the player had lost.
"Damn." Nyx hissed as he laid on the ground, the computerised blade clipping through his neck. He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. "Computer? Reset enemy."
The assailant shimmered away, back to a random hiding position in the corridor as Nyx lay silently in his place. He thought about taking a break, knowing his body was tired of being pushed like this. He had spent hours on this program; running test after test of his own strength and endurance, always allowing the enemy to reset without giving himself a break. Sometimes he got to the higher levels, sometimes he did not. His body was exhausted and called out for rest. Mentally, however, that felt entirely like giving up - and he wasn't prepared to do that just yet.
As he was trying to will himself to stand, he could hear the holodeck doors open.
"Nyx?" Came Emilie's voice, as she happened upon the scene.
Nyx raised his head and gave a half smile. "Hello, my love."
Emilie was quickly by his side, looking over his wounds. Some of the blood was fresh, some dried from the hours he had spent repeatedly fighting pixelated enemies. She gingerly touched at his chest. "How bad is it?"
Nyx frowned, confused at her concern. Then he laughed loudly. "Oh. Computer, End program."
At this command, the whole program faded; the corridor, the hidden enemies, and Nyx's bloodied wounds immediately disappeared. It was just the familiar yellow squares on black walls. Nyx was back in his training gear, unstained by any blood - though his top was drenched in sweat, Nyx himself was entirely unharmed. He smiled to Emilie, "I keep those safety protocols on. I never saw the point in getting actually injured."
Emilie nodded a little, glad to see he was not actually wounded. "Thank goodness." She smiled.
Nyx laughed again and tried to sit up. Even though the cuts were not real, the exhaustion and hard fall onto the ground had been. He groaned loudly as he struggled to raise himself.
"Not all the safeties, I see." Emilie remarked, as she helped her husband upright into a sitting position.
"Well, if I fall, I fall. I can't help that." Nyx replied with a sigh. "He got me good that last time."
"You've been running this program a lot lately." She commented, wiping the sweat from her husband's brow. She tenderly looked over his tired face, noticing the bags under his eyes, noticing how his wet hair was brushed back messily. This hadn't been like a long day at the gym; this had been a physical test. His heart still pounded as he sat on the cold floor and she tentatively rubbed his arm.
Nyx looked down at this hands; clammy and swollen. "I have. Since my meeting with Thac."
Emilie allowed her self to sit down properly, holding a gentle hand to his shoulder. "You shouldn't listen to him, darling. He's a bad guy saying bad guy things. He'd say anything to get out of his current situation."
"He knows about my past, Ems." Nyx sighed, avoiding direct eye contact. "Or he knows enough to mention it. He's dangerous."
"He's locked in a cell." Emilie reminded him. "What can he do but piss into the wind?"
Nyx wanted to laugh from her crass term but his mind was swimming with too much doubt. He frowned, shaking his head. "Our mission is to return him to Starfleet and have him reveal everything about Pithos and Section 31 to the Federation. What if he doesn't stop there? What if he decides to spill all of our secrets? Not just me, but Shae and Griffin, too? Mindo? We're all going to be put on trial."
Emilie listened and took this in; mulling it over. She quietly asked what she felt was the most pertinent question. "Okay. So what would they find out?"
Nyx hung his head, the answers immediately springing to mind but he felt unwilling to say it. Putting the words into reality would make it all true; the facts that he had danced around before would be laid bare. But then he looked to his wife; her kind, caring eyes searching into his for answers, knowing she would try to make things right. Who could he trust in this universe but her? Who else could he tell the truth to? If he was going to say it out loud, right here with her was the best damn place to say it first.
Nyx took a breath and said it, "That I was stationed on the USS Wellington and the Lucis V colony while completing undercover operations for Starfleet Intelligence. That because of my work with SI, Section 31 would recruit me into their plans to stop the Cardassian military from rebuilding by assassinating their leaders. That I performed those executions willingly and eagerly. That Cardassians would retaliate against our interference and attack Lucis V in revenge." He looked up to her again, eyes misty. He was tired and emotional, but right now he just felt overwhelming guilt. "That I am the reason Lucis was destroyed."
Nyx slumped down and Emilie quickly held out her hands to catch him, holding him close to her chest. "No, darling. No."
"I am." Nyx whispered hoarsely, pulling his eyes shut. He held onto Emilie for dear life, trying to resist the surges of remorse and anguish flowing through him.
"The Cardassians were already targeting Lucis V because it fell into their old borders. They wanted their territory back." Emilie said patiently. "They attacked it once and failed, remember? You helped to stop that. Had it not been for Section 31 calling you away to Gaspar, you would have been home in time to stop the second attack."
"It's okay." Nyx replied softly. "You can blame me. I blame me."
Emilie gently lifted Nyx's head, seeing the sorrow and shame in his eyes. She closed hers and kissed him on the lips. "I don't, my love. I never have." She said softly.
"I do." Nyx admitted, hanging his head once more. "And Starfleet will, too. If we are to clean up the Federation from Section 31's crimes, then my crimes must be included. I must be held accountable."
"That's nonsense, Nyx." Emilie disagreed, "You are not responsible for Lucis. Just as you are not part of Section 31 any more."
Nyx nodded, "No, but Thac is right. They still own a little piece of me." He sighed, "And the Pandora. I thought it was going to be a clean ship, but it's not."
"Because Thac said so?" Emilie quickly rejoined, her tone a little less sympathetic. She was changing tact, hoping to argue against his doubts and get Nyx to see sense. "Again, you can't listen to him."
"Because of the things I have done." Nyx sighed, "I chose this service because I knew there was a possibility we'd find the Cardassians who destroyed Lucis hiding in the Expanse. We're responsible for breaking the prime directive with the Mendazians because the Ravagers followed us to Salvaxe. I killed Balek the Butcher. Assassinated him. Mauricio knew so I let him leave the ship. Dorian Rochester killed me in the bubble universe, so I did very little to stop Sasha Vieers killing him in reality. I interfered on Paradise and helped launch a resistance against the Alrakis Pact which is quickly descending into a civil war in the Expanse. I interfered on Hesiod Green when I could have just evacuated Pithos and left. I knowingly let Shae and Cailus launch a rogue mission to hunt down Section 31; they even took my shuttle to do it! And now I'm using the Resistance to protect the Pandora so I can get home and tell Starfleet how badly they have fucked up."
Nyx let out a deep breath. "It's... a lot. But it's true."
"Nycolas William Temple." Emilie lifted him up to face her, her tone stern. "That is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard you say!"
Nyx was stunned, "What?"
"Stop it!" Emilie huffed. "The Pandora saved the Mendazians from the Ravagers. You stopped a violent, horrible Ravager captain from terrorising the Expanse. Mauricio chose to leave the ship and seems to be doing very well for himself. You are not responsible for the actions of Dorian Rochester or Sasha Vieers. The Pandora rescued Paradise from the Breen's secret control. The Pandora saved the Hesians from total annihilation by moving them to a safe planet and you arrested the man responsible for causing the planet's destruction. You couldn't have stopped Shae and Cailus if you tried, because they were going to rescue their child from torture and imprisonment. Heck, I would have helped them, too. And the resistance is helping the Pandora get home safely because the Pandora has given them the independence to defend themselves. That is the truth, mister, and if I need to shout this at the President of the Federation so they see it too, then I will!"
By this stage, a smile had formed on Nyx's lips. He leaned in and kissed Emilie. "It may come to that." He said softly.
"Then they better listen." Emilie said playfully stern. "Because I won't stop saying it until you, them, and everyone in the Federation knows it."
Nyx chuckled, closing his eyes with a thankful smile. "You're the best, you know that?"
"Lucky for you, yes." Emilie carefully caressed his cheek, "You get so down, my love. I know how to lift you up, but I wish... I wish you wouldn't be so hard on yourself."
Nyx nodded, "I will work on it, okay?" He promised, "And I won't let damn Thac get to me again."
"Don't let you get to you." Emilie countered. "All that messed up childhood still, huh?"
"I guess." Nyx replied honestly. "It's not an excuse, of course. But Magnus and I did learn to blame ourselves before we learned to talk. I just tend to spiral sometimes."
"I think you need to rest and stop beating yourself up." Emilie said as she stood up. She held out a hand for Nyx to hold onto. "Mentally and physically."
Nyx held her hand in his and smiled, looking up at her. "I will." He said, with a quiet smile.