Disclaimer: Star Trek is not mine. The planet is. Except the aukrawns. That idea actually came from rereading a chapter of The Silmarillion. I don't have to explain that any more. Either you know which chapter I mean or you won't get it no matter how much I explain the book. :) (Finrod rules.)
"Morlin!" Spock called, realizing what had happened. His only response was the ragged breathing of the two combatants. Spock quickly decided that if he tried to help, he would be more of a liability than an asset. All he could do was wait. He could do nothing to help his friend.
Suddenly, there was a howl of pain from the animal, and the sound of it scampering away. "Morlin?" Spock asked.
"Spock," she replied. Her voice was weak. "We . . . we have to get out of here. It'll come back. Mindtouch only . . . frightened it. I . . . won't be able to . . . protect you next time."
Spock found his way to Morlin's side. The teenager's clothes were wet with blood. "I'm not the one who needs protection," he told her.
"I'll be fine," Morlin insisted, but her voice betrayed her. She was weakening.
"Is he all right?" Kirk asked Doctor McCoy.
"Could be better. I can't find a thing wrong, though."
Turita groaned softly and opened his eyes. They immediately showed a seriousness McCoy had gotten used to seeing only from Spock and the captain. "We have to hurry," he insisted, forgetting his own pain.
"Do you know where they are?" McCoy asked.
"Yes. They're in the Caves."
"Yes. Scan for a mountain range just east of where you found me. They'll be there."
"They'll be the only ones?"
"Yes; they'll be unguarded. There's no way to escape."
"Then they're prisoners there?" Kirk asked.
"It's the only explanation for what I felt. Just do it."
Kirk nodded to Scotty. "Anything?"
"I've got three life forms."
"All together?" Turita asked, confused.
"No; one's a ways off."
"Humanoid?" Kirk asked.
"The sensors aren't quite working right, but I don't think so."
"Can it see in there?" Kirk asked Turita.
"No; it's far too dark. And even if it can see, there are far too many tunnels and passageways for it to be able to see them from there."
"Beam the other two up, Scotty," Kirk ordered, hoping he hadn't just made a big mistake.
Two figures materialized in the transporter, lying down next to each ohter. Doctor McCoy rused over immediately. "Medical team to transporter room," Kirk ordered before joining him. "Your sister?" he asked Turita. The boy nodded.
Morlin was unconscious, and Spock was close. 'What could have happened?' Kirk wondered. But his questions could wait. The medical team arrived to take them to sick bay.
"Bones?" Kirk asked.
"I don't know, Jim. About either of them."
Turita looked like he was about to collapse. Kirk put an arm around the boy. "They'll do everything they can," he said gently.
"I know," Turita nodded. "But what if it's not enough?"
Kirk thought for a moment. "Come with me," he said at last.
"Where are we going?"
"Sick bay. Whatever happens, you should be there."
The door opened just as Doctor McCoy was going to call them down. Kirk recognized the look on his face instantly. "What is it, Bones?"
"It's . . . the girl. Morlin. There's nothing I can do for her, Turita. According to Spock, she was attacked by something she called an aukrawn."
Turita nodded. "Where is she?"
"With Spock. He wouldn't leave her."
"Can I see her?"
"Come with me."
Spock was sitting on a chair next to Morlin. The teenager was still unconscious, her face paler than Turita had ever seen it. "She'll die like this?" he asked.
"Bones, can you bring her around?" Kirk interpreted.
"I can. I didn't know if I should. No need to frighten her."
"She'd want it," Turita assured him. "She's a warrior. She'd want to meet death awake."
Spock nodded his agreement. "It's hardly logical. But it is what she'd want."
McCoy nodded and did as they requested. "She shouldn't be in any pain," he assured them.
Indeed, as Morlin's eyes blinked open, she smiled weakly. "We're safe," she whispered.
"Yes," Spock confirmed.
"An illogical statement, but yes, obviously."
"I just wanted to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Turita?"
"Yes, Morlin; I'm here."
"You helped them?"
"The villagers . . . won't know you were involved. You can go back."
"Don't tell our father. Let him think I'm still alive somewhere. He hides it, but, inside, he really does care."
"I'll do everything I can, sister."
"Thank you. Spock?" She reached into her pocket and removed a few small objects. One was a small scroll, torn and bent, barely readable. "A history of my people," she explained, placing it in the Vulcan's hands. "You'll be able to translate it, I'm sure, when you get your sight back. The blindness is only temporary; I knew that from the start. But I didn't want you to get impatient."
"That would suggest emotion."
"I guess it would. Turita," she said quietly, holding out half a rock, cut neatly down what was the center. Turita took another half out of his pocket. They matched perfectly. "Always remember, brother, and what strength and courage I have will be yours."
"I only want you," Turita admitted through tears.
"We shall meet again, beyond time and space, when you are called to follow me. Until that day, remember."
She took the last object, a stone, and handed it to Spock. "I've had this since I was very young," she explained. "I found it in a river and kept it ever since. I haven't had a bad dream in all that time. I know you're probably too sensible to believe it will bring you luck, but keep it. Put it near where you sleep at night, and I will be with you."
"Thank you. I will."
Morlin smiled. She could feel her strength fading. Her vision was blurring, her mid growing cloudy. "Farewell, my friends," she whispered, and her eyes closed.
"Energize," Kirk ordered. Turita was beaming down to his planet with Morlin's body. At his request, Spock was accompanying him. Spock's vision was almost back to normal, and his wounds would heal.
"Thank you for coming, Spock," Turita said after they rematerialized.
"It's the least I can do. She saved my life, and you helped us escape. And the danger is minimal. We are quite far from the village."
"True, but, still, thank you."
"Turita, why did she stay with me? She could have said she knew nothing. They would have believed her."
"But we'd met less than an hour before."
"The only answer I can think of is an ancerseral legend. It says thay chiefs are gifted with the foresight to know when they will die. Some chiefs ignore the old wisdom. Morlin did not. She embraced the past, and the future. To her, you represented both." Turita smiled. "But, more than anything, I don't think she would ever let anyone go through that alone. Not after she had to."
"What do you mean?"
"I'll explain later. We have work to do."
Half an hour later, they had wood stacked nearly four feet high. Together, they placed Morlin's body on to. Turita poured some form of oil over it and lit two branches. He handed one to Spock. At the same time, they set the wood to flame.
"Morlin was once captured by warriors from another village," Turita explained. "She was young. She didn't know any of the elders' secret plans. But they didn't listen. They were only convinced after she spent a week in their prison. She was never the same. Her innocence, her natural trusting nature, was gone. Until she found you." He knelt, and motioned to Spock, who did the same. Together, they watched the flames rise, towards the tops of the trees, towards the stars, and beyond.
As they knelt there, silent, the rain started to fall. It fell lightly at first, but then grew. Eventually, the flames were put out by the storm. "A sign of the Chiefs of old," Turita said in awe. "Their pyres were always extinguished by the heavens."
There was hardly any wood left, and the young teenager's body was gone. Spock was about to mention that there was nothing unusual about rain, but thought better of it. The idea made Turita feel more at peace. And there was no harm. "Enterprise," he signalled. "One to beam up." He rose and raised his hand. "Live long and prosper, Turita."
The boy raised his hand in return. "May we meet again, Spock, if not in this time then when time itself is past. Farewell."
"How's he doing, Spock?" Doctor McCoy asked.
"Remarkably well. He's recovered rather quickly from the shock. Quite unlike humans, their race."
"But not quite as logical as Vulcans," Kirk smiled. "More symbolic. What do you make of that scroll?"
"Fascinating. Turita and I spent some time translating it before we beamed down."
"Why? You could have just run it through the computers?"
"He insisted it was more personal."
"And what do you intend to do with the rock?"
"It obviously had some symbolic meaning to her. I'll keep it. I did promise her I would."
"And I suppose that's the only reason," McCoy said.
That night, Spock placed the rock beside his bed. It was almost as if a presence filled the room. The rock gave off no light, no heat, yet there was something different. Spock closed his eyes and began to meditate. He took the rock in his hands and let the presence fill him. Then it was gone, and Spock knew Morlin had said her last farewell. It wasn't logical, but every part of him knew her spirit was at peace.
Man. Can't believe I actually finished this. I don't know. I've always had this thing with rocks. And always thought funeral pyres were symbolic since I saw The Return of the Jedi. (sighs) There. I've finished my first multi-chapter fanfic. :) One down, hopefully more to go.
Bug, Vulcan of Central Park – Well, as you've found out, aukrawns are not pleasant at all. And what was up with Turita was twins from their planet share feelings when they are close enough. Hope you liked it. Live long and prosper.
–Smeagol Fasir Kenobi