The Rain's a Gonna Fall
Summary: Time doesn't heal all wounds. When an Academy class forces Jim to remember the horrors of Tarsus IV, he learns that sometimes telling your story is the best way to heal. Father figure Pike, friend Bones, and lots of OCs.
Author's Note: This is my first fanfic, so feel free to dish out constructive criticism, writing tips, character and plot suggestions . . . This story is mostly planned out, with the first few chapters setting the stage for the Tarsus story-so it's intentional that I'm only giving you hints of what happened at first. Ditto to the Pike relationship. My version of what happened on Tarsus differs from canon, but it seems more plausible to me, so I'm running with it.
Also, there are many similar stories on , and if you feel I've copied an idea and you want credit, or want me to change something, PM and I'm happy to do so. I think I've made this sufficiently different . . . but it's very possibly of subconsciously borrowed elements :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek: TOS or 2009, or their characters, and all that.
Chapter 1 - Monday
Jim should have guessed from the syllabus. After 'Ethical Leadership' and before 'Ethics and Law', his eye had skimmed right over it. 'Ethics of Disasters'. Now, to be fair, the term Disaster had conjured images of volcanoes erupting and Klingon invasions, and the rapid asphyxiation of a starship crew as gynormous hull breaches ravaged an imaginary ship. It was only now, as the instructor fiddled with his PADD, clearly prepping a movie to play on the microskin screen that was the 'whiteboard', that he felt the tingling of apprehension. He couldn't mean . . .
Jim glanced at Bones at his right, but quickly averted his eyes when the man sensed his gaze. Did anyone else share his tickle of unease?
"Ok, cadets!" Commander Gevertz spoke in his usual sharp voice, his expression serious, but not irritated. "The next two weeks I want to take a look at how a person, or group's moral code can be changed by devastating events."
He paused a moment to let the topic percolate.
"When and why does our moral code change? or is it the very ethics themselves that change? Can something be ethical in one situation, but not in another? These are the types of dilemmas we must exam." Great, we're back to philosophy. "Take cannibalism. Many isolated, native Earth cultures of from the 20th century and earlier regularly practiced cannibalism. You cannot deny that a human body can provide sustenance. But we would never take part in such a practice today. Is it wrong, just because our social mores shy from the very notion? And think about hostage situations. Are you ethically in the right if your captor tells you to commit crimes, when you know that if you don't, either you, or another hostage, will die?"
With a tap on the pad he dimmed the room's lights to 50%.
"The first real life example we're looking at is the Tarsus IV massacre. Your reading for tonight goes much further in depth, but I'll give you an overview now, so you can better appreciate the holovids. Tarsus IV was an agrarian colo . . ."
Jim tuned out the rest of the summary, his mind still reverberating with the word 'Tarsus'. You've got to be kidding me. The memories chafed against that locked corner of his brain like sandpaper on asphalt. And with them came an upwelling of fear, anxiety, guilt, hunger . . . endless other emotions-all faint, but 'present', and ready to swallow his mind at any provocation.
Gevertz started playing the vids as he talked. It began with lines of colonists coming to medical tables manned by Starfleet officers-obviously post 'rescue'. All skin and bones, and their faces . . . so tired. He'd been whisked up to the Yorktown before he could summon a protest, so he'd missed out on the relief lines. Small blessing. The vid transitioned into a walk down the main residential 'street', occasionally showing house interiors. Gevertz was still talking, the voice dim next to the cacophony in his head. It was only when he heard the words 'children', and 'woods' in close proximity that he refocused his hearing. Suddenly the vids stopped moving and became a slideshow. Jim REALLY hadn't known there'd been that much media . . . or that many pictures . . . of . . . everything, or anything really. The lean-to flickered onto the screen. A close up of his jury-rigged dispersion field. Kids, his old friends, all in a group, eyes large in their sunken faces. A kid on a stretcher inside the town hall. WAIT. He didn't remember that! Well, he remembered the stretcher, vaguely, but a camera? He didn't know whether to feel overwhelmingly violated, furious, or disgusted! He felt all three.
Bones had turned to look at him, a question in his eyes. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? He glared back. But he took a deep breath as he did so, and was suddenly aware that he was very short on air. Just what I need-to hyperventilate mid-class, in front of Bones. At least that damn picture looked nothing like him. Well, anymore. How can anybody in the God Damned Alpha Quadrant watch this shit? He slipped his hand into his bag and pulled out his PADD, as much to distract himself as to distract Bones. His fingers practically stabbed the surface as he opened up a Stel-net connection. He paused fractionally before typing in his database search parameters. A microsecond later . . . 27,049 multimedia responses to query 'Tarsus IV'. Well Fuck. Most of them public access, too. How had he never known about this treasure trove of emotional triggers before now?
Bones was looking at him again. He tried to keep the PADD tilted away from his prying eyes.
Changing the search criteria to 'Tarsus AND Kirk' brought up two articles, but both, much to Jim's relief, merely contained references to the Kelvin (in the all too common media practice of tying together completely unrelated disasters just for effect). A case sensitive search for Tarsus and 'JT' proved more lucrative. First person accounts were the most prominent results . . . a few articles . . . some . . . what the hell was JT an acronym for that it's found with . . . ? . . . wait, there's a book? 'The Children of Tarsus' by Sarah Corning. Hell, I'm amazed Starfleet could keep my name protected with this mess out there.
Jim hated journalists. It didn't matter if they were good or not; if they were polite; if they had kind motives. They'd come by the farm every year or so when he was a kid, asking questions, wanting to have a 'conversation'. His mom would let them in-'Midwestern hospitality' she'd say. But when they left, she'd go up to her room, and when she came back down her eyes would be red. Sam and he never talked about it; it was what it was. But Jim knew it was the journalists who'd done it, and he hated them for it. He didn't have to meet this Sarah Corning to know he'd hate her too.
". . . suspected sabotage, but it was more likely a negligent soldier. Regardless of the culprit, the result was that the final food stores were exposed to the rain and spoiled. Two days later Kodos transmitted his execution order to his citizen soldiers. It took them an hour to mobilize, and the citizens were not told . . . "
Jim clenched his eyes shut for a moment, then returned his concentration to his PADD.
'The Children of Tarsus' is the culmination of over a year of investigative journalism, encompassing rare interviews with both victims and several of the oft demonized citizen soldiers of Tarsus IV. The fate of the children of Tarsus is well known: uniformly slated for execution, most perished in the initial purge. But what is less well known is the plight of those children who escaped execution. Living in the forest, hiding in housing sub-basements, and in some cases selling their services to whomever they thought could protect them, these children struggled against insurmountable odds just to survive. By masterfully interweaving first-person accounts, personal log entries, and colony and Starfleet records, Corning gives readers a rare insight into the lives of these children that is a must read for historians and citizens alike.
What a bunch of crock, Jim said to himself, yet he couldn't quite silence the corner of his mind that yearned to read it. Almost in answer to his thoughts, a woman's voice began issuing from the classroom speakers.
"One of the most amazing facets of the Tarsus story-" Jim's eyes go up to the screen again, to the vid of a reporter with the Sol Communications Network logo on her uniform, "-is that some children actually survived, despite repeated efforts by Kodos and his men to capture and execute them all. A few were hidden by their families, and some ran from the phaser lines, but most of children who did survive did so by escaping into the woods before the soldiers began the round-up. Surviving colonists all say they received a txt-comm warning of the execution order 10 minutes before soldiers arrived, a txt-comm from an account registered under what we presume to be a pseudonym, the name 'JT'. As many as 60 children are thought to have fled before the massacre, though only 28 were found alive when Starfleet Relief arrived. We don't yet know . . ."
Repeated efforts of Kodos and his men to capture and execute them all. More like attempts to assault and EAT them all. But that would be too unpalatable for a vid. 28 kids left? He hadn't known the number. It could have been 29.
The same vid reporter was walking through the woods now, trying to give the audience a 'feel' for what the kid's had had to go through. Like she ever could. Jim propped his elbow on his pull-out desk and rested is forehead on his palm. This can't be happening. This can't be happening. He tried to tune out the obnoxious, faux professional voice clanging over the speakers, but his eyes, even masked by his hand, kept flicking to the screen, drawn by some intangible force to bear witness to the images already seared into his head.
Now it was flashes of the children-the main group of them as they were led back into the town from the forest . . . individual kids with their colonist parents . . . a few taken aboard the Yorktown and Potemkin . . . close-ups of faces and emaciated torsos . . . some dead . . . there were two of him . . .
. . . and pictures of them before. When they were vibrant, and strong, and still children in more than the physical sense. He saw Kevin and Tom, Dana, Ganady, Carla. Carla.
Her face wrinkled in pain as the beam struck her. Her arms a bright pink where the soldier's grip had causes bruises that didn't have time to form. Her black hair, matted with dirt, clinging to the side of her face and flying into her eyes as she struggled. Her eyes empty and sightless, and dead. Carla.
He looked away from the screen and down at his PADD. Nothing could change what happened on Tarsus. He ended his connection to Stel-net and tapped the PADD off.
There were 15 minutes left in class, and Jim spent them staring to the side of the screen, trying his best not to be consumed by his memories, even as he did his damndest not to pay attention to the images flickering on the screen.
It was raining. Pouring, actually, but Jim didn't feel cold. No, that wasn't exactly right-it was more that he felt that he should be cold, so the fact that he was indeed cold didn't even draw his attention. It had rained a lot on Tarsus. That had been the problem.
It was his toes that remembered it most. The water had run into his shoes and through them, permeating the synthetic fabric and leaving a puddle at his toes. His feet had squished with every step, each foot acting like a piston to push water in and out. It took less than a day for the skin on his toes to wrinkle up like raisons. By the third day in the woods they'd finally just seemed to disintegrate-pieces of water saturated skin wearing away bit by bit. He thought he'd get used to. Thought that the water would dull his nerves. But it didn't; he didn't. He got used to the pain-but it was always there.
SQUISH. SQUASH. He cringed at the sound. He was . . . where was he? He was walking on grass, and the squish was from his Starfleet issue boots turning on the wet turf. After class he'd gone . . well, he was pretty sure he'd been through Golden Gate Park. There had been trees . . . and . . . less people. And now . . . was that Lincoln Park ahead? That meant he was on . . . Cochrane Avenue. My feet know me better than I do.
He was in the midst of Starfleet officer housing. Commanders, Captains, and Admirals could find temporary and permanent housing on this street and in the neighboring districts when they were on planet. He hadn't been here in, what-four years? five? I wonder if Chris even lives in the same one. I know he's been off planet since.
No sooner did the thought come to him than he spotted the unit. It was a three story split condo-two two-story units on the bottom and a one-floor sprawling unit on top. They'd had the bottom right one. 2234B Cochrane Avenue, San Francisco, CA.
He wished they'd never fought. He wished he'd never run away. He wished he hadn't turned away every comm for the last 4 years. And he wished more than anything that he could go in that door and find Chris waiting for him, ready to make everything alright.
Jim turned around and headed back to Golden Gate Park
"Where the hell have you been?" It was Bones, waxing eloquent, as always.
Jim just grunted in response.
"Did Delahoy have you running in the rain? There's a reason we have gymnasiums."
Delahoy? Ah. Right. Combat training. He had missed Combat training. Jim grunted again, hoping Bones would take it as an affirmative.
He did. "Well serves you right for doing the advanced class. We got to stick to phaser practice and drills in my section. Idiotic for a doctor, if you ask me, but a hell of a lot better than rain running. You're making a puddle, ya know." Bones lifted an accusatory eyebrow and looked pointedly at Jim, who was standing rather listlessly by his bed. Jim just nodded and headed to the shower.
When he got out, he toweled off, put on some boxers, and fell on to his bed with an almost silent sigh. His brain just didn't want to function.
"You done the reading for Prime Directive tomorrow?" No Bones. No I haven't.
"Ya plan on doin' it?" No. But I can see you are.
Jim groaned theatrically and reached for his PADD, thinking to feign activity, only to come up empty.
"Looking for this?" Bones held up a PADD from his seat at his desk. "You left it in Ethics. You seemed kind of distracted when you left." Bones's voice was flat, but his eyebrow was quirked in a clear question.
"Yeah. Uh . . . I . . . uh . . . I was expecting a message from Marlene, and I wasn't in the mood to concentrate on murder and famine and all that." The lie was slow to form on a his lips, and felt as weak as he was sure it sounded. Bones grunted in acknowledgement, mirroring Jim's own behavior in what could almost have been a salute to avoidance.