Vers was kicked back with her feet on her desk. She was bored. Unbelievably, to the bone bored. At first, she had loved her life on Pal-Mar. The wide expanse of desert, the open skies. It was beautiful, rugged and peaceful. Now she resented that peace. It made for boring long days. Days where she felt more like a prisoner than a lawman. It had been a little over a year and she hadn't known any other life than this.
She awoke in the medical centre of Pal-Mar, her body charred and reeking of fuel and ozone. The medics had stood around her bedside, stony-faced looking at monitors and writing notes in their datapads. They had parted as Vers blinked her aching eyes and she had caught sight of him. He was leaning against the glass wall, his sleeves rolled up to the elbow eyes on his shoes. As if he had sensed her looking at him he looked up and smirked. She remembered her body trying to pull in air and choking on the tubes in her throat. He had straightened slightly but had not moved from his place as the medics swarmed her again. That was her first memory. His eyes staring into her.
From there it was nothing but pedagogy and desk duty. They had told her she had been found during a rescue mission on a border planet. The Skrulls had shot her down. They had promised her the memories would come back. Except they didn't. Nothing came back. It all just became more muddled as she tried to sort out what was reality from nightmare. She stretched her neck feeling the tug of her hair as it caught in the ridges of her implant. She wasn't used to it. There must have been a time when she felt at one with her body, at peace with her purpose. That had been lost when the Skrulls had shot her down.
Vers balanced her chair on its back legs, she reached her hand behind her head and flung her stylus like a dart towards the soft stone panel of the ceiling. The heft of her throw knocked her chair off balance and she began to fall. Her body instinctively tried to catch itself as the chair slipped beneath her. Her body clattered against the inertia as she was caught mid-fall in a gravity beam. It knocked the breath out of her lungs. She coughed once as the dust of the precinct was kicked up by the field holding her chair in place.
"I see you are working hard," her Commander's voice chided her from the doorway. Movement was hard inside the field but she could shift her eyes so Yon-Rogg was an aching shadow on her periphery. He walked closer to her, maintaining her hovered position with the magnitron gauntlet that fit slimly to his wrist. They weren't standard issue among the force, it spoke to his influence he was even allowed to have them.
He released the field as he drew closer, grabbing the back of her chair as it started to fall again. He pushed her upright so her hands had to catch the desk. He came around her chair to lean against her desk.
"I could work harder if you would let me out of here," she looked at him through gold blonde eyelashes. She could tell he was fighting to hold back a laugh, his tongue caressed his eye tooth as his eyes turned skyward. The laughed died as he saw the four styli impaling the stone.
"And what is that?" He asked turning his head so he could see them better.
"Target practice," she shrugged. Yon-Rogg took a deep breath. She could feel the lesson coming on.
"I know this feels like a punishment, Vers-"
"That's because you are punishing me," she interrupted, her hands fiddling with the fifth stylus on her desk. Yon-Rogg sighed. He reached for the slim black cylinder and removed it from her grasp. Her eyes followed it instead of looking at him.
"Taking the time to heal, to re-learn who you are is not a punishment," he drummed the stylus against his hand in a slow deliberate rhythm. This wasn't the first time they had had this conversation.
"Why give me these if you don't want me to use them?" She lifted her fists looking at him with such hope and conviction he had to swallow the desire to relieve her from desk duty.
"Once you've learned to control your powers again, once you no longer fight against your circumstance and allow yourself to heal then you can join us." She lowered her fists as he squeezed her shoulder. He pushed away from the desk and began to walk to his office.
"Why are you back, anyway?" She called to his retreating form.
"We realized we left you without a keeper," he turned to smile at her, his eyes glancing towards the ceiling. "Who knows what damage you could cause with no one to mind you."
He tucked his hands in his pockets and walked back to his office, a small swagger in his step. Vers stuck out her tongue just as a stylus came loose and plummeted towards her. She snatched it deftly from the air and turned back to her desk, an unending scroll of unfinished reports cascading down her tablet.
The Kree's network of colonized planets was vast. They worked together with the native populations to improve industry and technology on the planet's surface while providing protection from the ever looming Skrull threat. It was a harmonious symbiotic relationship. The Kree empire was the vast and undulating force for good in the universe and each planet beneath their care attached themselves to the body of knowledge and civilization the Kree brought with them to every planet.
There were times though when disputes would arise and that was when the Supreme Intelligence would send one of their Internal Regulation Starforce to intercede, negotiate and if necessary extract certain Kree dignitaries and consularies from the red zone. Each unit of Starforce was given a small planet within the stretch of the Pama System so they would be poised to jump to any location on their side of the galaxy. It was customary for them to provide certain services to their host planets by way of peacemaking and serving judiciary roles as necessary. On a small planet like Pal-Mar, it was very rarely necessary.
Hence Vers' continued and unending boredom. Though they weren't encouraged to socialize with the locals, Vers often found herself wandering the streets late at night. Dropping into places of ill repute. Making unlikely friends. On the rare occasion, there was something planetside for them to intercede in these connections had been beyond useful. She was the only Starforce member the locals would talk to. On the edges of the Pama star system, they had more people of mixed breeding or foreigners than other Kree planets. People made bitter by their cultures rejection of them since birth. Vers could sympathize with their anger and resentment. Though she never spoke it aloud to Yon-Rogg or the others she knew it simmered below the surface and kept them at a distance from 'the Meddler'.
Dawn was just breaking as Vers settled up at the bar. She had been playing Krylorian Scaruband all night. Her back ached from being hunched over her tiles. The last round had started over an hour ago. Her opponents had slowly dropped away, leaving only her, the bar owner Ish-Al and the stranger across from her. He was bundled up in the faded heat of the desert. Even his hands were covered with thin knitted gloves. The small flashes of skin had looked fleshy enough. Usually, only reptilians hid their bodies so thoroughly from the elements and from the stares of other patrons. All she knew was by his voice he was a man and he had run out of money in the final round and had laid a holographic package of jaru root tobacco on the table. Vers' eyes had gone wide when she saw it. A forbidden delicacy anywhere in the Pama system, but especially hard to come by here.
She had won the packet, shaken the stranger's hand and stepped into the cool dawn air ready to face the day.
She leaned against the faded stone of Ish-Al's bar and placed the small tightly rolled cigar between her lips. She ignited one finger so it burnt white-blue in the dawn and touched it to the dry end of the tobacco. She pulled in the rich sweet smoke. It tasted forbidden and delicious on her tongue. She would have to shower thoroughly before going to the precinct. Yon-Rogg was a watchdog for her filthier habits. Watching the beautiful pink of sunrise and feeling the calming power of the herb already weaving between her muscles, Vers found it hard to care.
"I thought you were quitting." His voice close to her ear made her jump. She inhaled the hot smoke too fast making her choke. She didn't know how she hadn't heard him approach, he was dressed in training gear and was flushed. He must have been running. Unless he stopped when he saw her leaning against the building, enjoying her little slice of oblivion.
"It's my last one," she protested bringing the sparking red ember to her lips one more time. She was near the end almost to the filter. He raised his eyebrows at her. "If you don't believe me, check me."
She held her arms out, her stance widening slightly, challenging him to frisk her. He stepped into her, plucking the dwindling ash from her lips and putting it between his own. He didn't draw breath to reignite the flame, instead he let it suffocate as it hung tantalizingly within her reach. She wet her lips as she looked into his gilded eyes. She hated how her heart raced a little when he paid attention to her. She grit her teeth trying to picture the way he smirked when he lectured her. He moved his hands beneath her oversized jacket. The back of his hand was warm through her shirt as he expertly ran it down her sides. His fingers quickly fished through her pockets. She arched her eyebrows at him. He brushed two fingers of each hand down her arms. Pausing at her cuffs to circle them around her wrists, his fingers brushing the sensitive skin there. He ducked down in front of her his hands patting down her legs. He stood back and his eyes searched her face.
"Satisfied?" She asked him flashing her eyes at him.
"Never," he said pulling the butt from between his lips. He stepped forward snaking his hand around her waist. His palm traveled her spine for a moment before finding the crinkling plastic pouch tucked into the waistband of her pants. He produced it from inside her jacket. Tucking the dead end into the packet before crumpling the whole thing in his hand.
"These are illegal. Your position doesn't give you special permissions."
"They only hurt me, why should they be illegal?" She asked rolling her eyes.
"They hurt your body, they produce litter and they foul up the air. What is there to recommend them?" He asked
"They make me feel good, Yon" she breathed at him, her body waking to how close he was to her. To the way she could smell his sweat. She wet her lips again, Yon-Rogg's eyes followed her tongue as he readied his retort.
Above them in the silence of dawn was the bang of a ship entering the atmosphere; it was coming in too hot to land. It appeared in the sky for only a moment before there was the hiss and pop of a jump and it was gone. There was something though, streaking through the sky cutting a fast path through the air. It hit the ground so hard they felt a small tremble in the soles of their feet. They ripped their gaze from where it had been locked on the skyline and both took off running towards the smoke of impact.