Author: JMK758 PM
Inspired by TOS episode 'A Taste of Armageddon'. Trip must prevent the destruction of 2 planets, but can he do it without betraying the one person he cares about most? Please Read & Review!Rated: Fiction K - English - Drama/Suspense - C. Tucker & J. Archer - Chapters: 6 - Words: 16,028 - Reviews: 3 - Updated: 02-04-05 - Published: 01-01-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2200682
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Archer to Trip." The intercom on the control panel spoke up just before the technician had started energizing the transporter.
"Just a moment." Trip directed, returning to the console and activating the intercom. "Tucker to the Bridge. How's things up there. Think you'll have much trouble avoiding those ships?"
"No." Archer's voice came back to him, sounding quite perturbed. "We'll have no problem avoiding all this debris."
"I said 'debris'. From the looks of it, we're looking at an orbiting debris field where at least six ships have been obliterated."
Tucker was astounded; and the others were no less distressed by the news. "You don't say." He managed to say flatly.
"It all looks like it's happened in the past hour. If this was our welcoming committee, it looks like they've made themselves very unwelcome. Get down there and do what you have to do fast; I don't like the looks of any of this."
"No argument from me there." He returned to the platform, and the four arranged themselves for being obscured behind a one meter high wall. A few seconds later the transporter deposited them into darkness.
When they reoriented themselves, they found they were in a gully about a meter wide, at the base of a rocky hill. There was a slight but definite slope to the land. It was clear that the purpose of it was indeed to direct rainwater toward a tributary lost in the blackness beyond their vision. It was also dark and eerily quiet; far removed from how Trip remembered it.
The guards and Tia took up defensive positions, each of the men covering the length of the trench before and behind them while Tia scanned the hillside for the sniper she knew had to be there.
Trip broke out and reassembled the small shovel he carried, and then activated his tricorder, easily locking onto the readings of the device he sought. It was buried about a quarter meter into the ground not twenty centimeters before him. But just as he was about to pick up the shovel, one of the guards took a cautious look over the rim of the wall. He went motionless for several seconds. "Sweet Mother of God!" He whispered feelingly.
"What is it?" Trip demanded.
"Sir, I don't think these people are going to be much of a worry." Unable to stand it any longer, Trip cautiously picked his head up over the edge of the rocks, and the sight that greeted him in the dim light reflected from the shattered moon filled him with horror.
There were hundreds of people out there, perhaps thousands, stretching as far as their eyes could discern, but the guard was quite correct. They would not pose a threat to the landing party, then or ever.
Hundreds and hundreds of still bodies littered the field, stretching back beyond the limits of their sight. As far as the eye could see there was absolutely no movement whatsoever.
As he stared, unable to believe, to accept, what he was seeing, he heard a soft whispering and looked back, seeing Tia looking with them out at the battlefield, her golden eyes haunted. He did not understand the words she was whispering, but each of the men in his own way joined her.
As soon as they materialized in the Transporter alcove about twenty minutes later Trip and the first Security Guard turned in their phase pistols to the second guard, and he turned, seeing that Tia was gone. "Where's Tia?" He asked.
"She stalked off as soon as we materialized, looking mad enough to chew neutronium." The first guard reported.
"Huh, what's that about?"
He had no time to do that, however. His first desire was to get to the Bridge, to report all they had seen and done. Already the Enterprise was warping out of orbit, leaving the Eminiar system well behind. Trip decided he would leave it behind forever, and after he made his formal report to the Captain he would do all within his power to make himself forget that planet had ever existed!
He hoped he would not see former-Crewman Daniels again, either now or ever. He did not envy his friend's encounters with him, but for now he was going to try to wash the black event off his soul.
It took about an hour to cover everything. Apparently something had again been done to the time line, for they had clearly arrived after the events they had 'witnessed' 'before'. None of them tried to understand how this could be; for there had been no delay since the receiving of the distress signal. The only explanation that made sense was that it had not been that signal that had precipitated the events the first time. Perhaps Daniels had convinced them earlier.
Regardless of what the new sequence of events was, there was no way any of them were going to successfully second guess themselves; for that way led to self-torture and madness. They had accomplished their mission, and had saved – or so they supposed – Eminiars VII and VIII; that is if Daniels interpretation of the time line was to be believed. But too much thought of that was also the way to madness.
By the time Trip was done he decided that he was in no shape for going to Engineering; nor could he return to his quarters, knowing he could not possibly rest. He decided to go to the galley and not eat. Others would be eating; it was actually close to 0730, and he could find some friends to take his mind off the blackness. He entered the galley, seeing Alpha shift just finishing up their breakfasts.
His eyes went to a familiar table, but like yesterday morning only Ensigns Sato and Cutler are at their table. Hoshi caught his eye and glanced across the room to another observation port where he saw Tia standing. Uncommonly, she was still wearing her uniform, which she normally did not wear aboard ship. She was also, even more curiously, still armed, the phase pistol she never turned in looking incongruous on her right hip. She was standing looking out the port, and even across the room she was clearly tense and giving off such vibes of anger that no one was near her. 'Probably having a lot of flashbacks herself.' He thought, thinking about what she had told him of some of the horrors she had witnessed on her home planet. He hoped that a battlefield full of corpses was not one of them. He crossed the room, coming up behind her. "Tia?"
She focused on his reflection in the port. "Shar-les." Her tone is utterly flat.
"Are you okay?" He thought it was a cosmically stupid question, but it was a way to open the conversation. She did not turn, looking at him in the transparent aluminum port.
"Happy am I that safe you are – but kisnan … but speak to you I wish nyas!" Her voice grew tight with barely restrained anger. "Want I to alone be!" He reached up to touch her arm, but she slapped his hand away violently. "Pilquis oi nyais!" Her voice cut sharply enough for heads to turn all about the room as she demanded that he not touch her.
"Wha?" She whirled on him, fists clenched at her sides, and he was astonished to see the rage in her expression, the bright gold suffusing her face.
"Through Ierilsnu did you on Caldis III put me for I did lie to you!" She cried furiously, silencing the entire room. "For days face no one I could because thought they knew I did. Shamed I was before everyone! Managed to bear it I did and then last night lie to me you did!"
He was astonished. He knew she was upset, his face had stung for quite some time from her hard slap, but he had thought she was reacting now to the sight of so many dead, from having worked in a 'graveyard', from having expected a pitched battle to seeing its aftermath instead. "I'm sorry. I was trying to protect you." He did not want to air their private affairs here in the open, but she was too furious to be convinced to come with him to a quiet place.
"Protect me!" She cried, enraged. "I 'protection' need not! Handle myself I can and endure my pain I can! I your respect need do! Concerned you were that truth from me receive did you that through Ierilsnu you would put me; cared that tell I you truth or leave me you would – and then lie to me you did!"
He looked about. People were trying to pretend they were ignoring this, studiously fixing on their food, but no one could possibly miss a word. He turned to her, whispering imploringly. "Tia, would you please … would you qualsia lower your voice?"
"Nyas! If truth above all things you want, then truth above all things you give! Think you so little of me that –!"
"No! You're right and I'm wrong!" He whispered urgently, forcefully. "I shouldn't have done it, but I was trying to protect you!"
"So, for me to lie to myself protect wrong was, but for you to lie to protect me right was!"
"Tia, I had to."
"You Daakis!" She screamed. Now Tucker stood a good nine inches taller than she did, and tipped the scales at about thirty-five pounds more, but her fist struck his jaw so hard he was catapulted through the air to land on a nearby table. It, four astonished crewmen and a collection of plates and cutlery crashed to the floor with him. Equally stunned and astounded, Trip looked up in time to see several crewmen converging on the enraged young Auran as she prepared to engage them.
"Everyone stand down – that's an order!" His voice cut through the noise in the room, halting everything. He knew that with her strength; surprising as it would be to anyone who did not know the differences in the slight girl; and her hand-to-hand fighting skills, someone could get seriously hurt. All eyes in the room turned to him as he became aware of warm moisture on his face. He raised his hand to his forehead and it came away red with blood from a gash he hadn't felt until he saw the blood.
Tia's expression transmuted from rage to horror as she saw him, and she cried out, rushing to him and falling to her knees beside him, grasping a cloth off the floor and pressing it to his forehead. "Anston! Oh, anston, Shar-les! Li mur kisrn hullsniu tei! Li gisnart edal! Li quilwaz lurin nyas! Na muri kwalstan tuov maakiire! Namente toudegras calandi qualsia! Anston! Anston, Li qualsia klistni! Kuval tiluranoews kilvienti zuro desgras!" She continued for a long time; he had no idea what she said as she tried to minister to him, right up until Phlox arrived in response to a call about injuries.
Phlox had just completed his work on Trip. The cut to his forehead had not been severe at all; it had bled copiously and had looked worse than it was, but it was a minor point indeed. Lt. Malcolm Reed approached the biobed just as Phlox stepped away. For a moment the two friends regarded each other silently, and then Reed shook his head. "If it had been anyone else who'd assaulted this ship's third-in-command, he or she would be in the brig. But I had the feeling you were not going to press charges."
"Where is she?"
"Out in the corridor, sounding pretty contrite. Care to tell me what that was all about?" Trip thought about it for a moment.
"A difference in ethics, I guess. I suppose you could say that what's good for the gander isn't good for the goose."
"Whatever that means. From the reports I took, it sounds like considerably more." There was an undertone in Reed's words that Trip did not really like.
"What aren't you saying?"
"Just this: I've been noticing, and others have, that something's going on. Now, your business between the two of you should stay there, and I would be the first to leave it there, but I think that this is just one aspect of a larger problem. I've been noticing that for the past few weeks our carefree, spritely biologist has been getting rather … moody."
Trip's first thought was to defend her, or put it off, but he finally had to admit "You're right. Ever since she heard about that other Auran ship out there, I think it's been eating at her a lot more than she'll admit."
"I'm not sure that's all of it, but I think that you need to sit her down and find out what's really eating at her. I can't have her going around beating up the ship's officers. It makes us look bad." There was an unspoken depth beyond Reed's ironic tone.
"I'll talk to her."
"You do that." He held out his hand to help his friend off that table, but instead of taking it in the normal manner he linked fingers at the second knuckles, curling the fingers of both his hand and Trip's into a strong grip. "Come on, secret handshake." He boosted Trip up to his feet by this grip. "Welcome to the club."
"Club? What club?"
"The club for those who've found out the hard way not to piss off your girlfriend!"
Tia had been waiting in the corridor outside the Infirmary for many long minutes while Dr. Phlox finished his work and Shar-les had met with Lt. Reed. But as she waited, nerves straining, she became more and more aware of the beating of her heart. All unnoticed, it had grown faster; something she had attributed to increased stress, but suddenly, with a growing ache in her elbows and knees, she realized she had been wrong. Atrociously wrong. In fact, the increased stress itself, and her outrageous behavior, had been the result of something else, something she had pushed so far back in her mind that its return came with chilling grip upon her pounding heart.
Turning away, she knew she could not wait. If what she believed to be so was true, she had little time. Hurrying down the corridor, ignoring the mounting pain in her joints, she put her hand to her head, feeling a very unwelcome heat. Normally her temperature was stable at 97 degrees, but she did not need a tricorder to know it was considerably higher.
She couldn't deny it any longer. The luuru was upon her, whether she felt ready or not was no longer for her to decide. It was going to come.
But there was still a chance to stave it off, if she hurried. Rushing down the corridors, making for the turbolift, she fought her body, fought the trembling and her increasing heart rate and heat. How she managed to get into the turbo, up a level and to her quarters without seeing anyone who would stop her she did not know, but it was with a sigh of great relief that she pushed the button, opening her door and sealing herself inside.
Her elbows and knees protested in pain at her movements, but she knew this was just the beginning. Soon the pain would spread to all her joints, then her muscles, and then grow steadily worse when her heart beat wildly out of control. She crossed the small room, pulling open a cabinet and taking out a medical travel pack she had surreptitiously obtained from the Infirmary, and the compound she had made in the laboratory when she was supposed to be doing a (failed) chemical analysis on some plant specimens.
She could now feel the heat of her body climbing, and pulled off the stopper of the ampoule, setting it into the hypospray unit. She pulled down the zipper of her uniform and pressed the hypo against her body just over her pounding heart.
At that instant her right leg cramped, all her muscles from ankle to knee clenching tightly and toppling her to the floor. She landed heavily, and in the distracting pain she was late in pulling the hypospray away. When she looked at the meter, squinting over the spasming muscles, she was horrified to discover that instead of the reading of 5 she had intended, the reading was up to 53! "Nyas!" She gasped. "(Too much! Too much!)"
She pushed herself up off the floor, but could not move her legs properly, so it took a long time for her to stand, her body trembling as she actually felt the drug flowing through her body. Her heart was slowing as she'd intended, but too much! Her metabolism was slowing, her heart less than half its regular rhythm as she wobbled erratically, her body not obeying the commands of her mind! She knew she had to get help, but her first step pitched her forward until she came up hard against the bulkhead, her knees giving out. She slapped at the comm panel as her legs gave out completely and she fell to her knees. She looked up at the panel, relieved that the indicator was lit, but as she tried to get closer she toppled over onto her back, her head hitting the deck with a stunning thump.
She didn't have the strength to get up; her body refused to obey her as she felt her heart slowing more and more, the beats becoming languid as she felt a chill pass through her rapidly cooling body. "Qualsia!" She tried to speak, but her lungs did not permit enough force to raise her voice beyond a whisper. "Help!" She called hopelessly, barely able to hear her own voice. "Some one, help me! Please!"
She could barely hear herself, and watched with grieving heart as the communication line, not receiving any input in twenty seconds, cycled 'off', the light going out.
"Please! Some one!" She breathed weakly. "Anyone. Help me, please!" She sighed, feeling nothing in her body as a black wave overcame her. The blackness consumed her and she felt nothing any longer, not the cold, not the pain, not even the steady slowing of her heart.