This is a story idea I have been kicking around since the Star Trek: Countdown comic came out. Mandana, Nero's wife, had, like, three panels with him, and yet she is the one who motivates him to destroy Vulcan. How can such a bland, undeveloped character be the fuel to Nero's fire? In the follow up comic, Nero, she got a bit more development (two lines)...but is still no more interesting than a piece of cardboard. So this idea was born: to give Nero's wife a character, who I will probably take many liberties with since she says three lines in the comic. :x
I only have one chapter done, but if it gets enough interest, I'll continue. :D Promise promise. (This means review, please. :D)
I DO NOT OWN: Star Trek, or Mandana by extension. They belong to Paramount, blabbity blabbity blah, on with the story.
It is chaos all around me. Screams fill the recycled air, and the atmosphere is thick with terror and pain. I hear the cries of the other refugees, and know mine must be among them. How can it not? Outside the dingy windows of the evac shuttle, we have just seen our beloved ch'Rihan blown to bits. Torn to pieces by an exploding star, killing everyone we know with it. Hence the heart-shredding grief.
The supernova continues on its path of destruction, wiping out the other planets and satellites in the Romii system, scattering our civilization to the stars. The shockwave from the star slams into our retreating shuttle, catching the small craft broadside and sending it spinning out of control through space. Warning klaxons scream and red lights flash incessantly, adding to the bedlam. Thus the terror.
I am crouched in a corner, my arms covering my head and my knees tucked beneath me, praying to every deity imaginable to save us. Save me. Save my unborn child. Somehow get us out of this mess we're in. But the Elements either do not hear me, or have abandoned the Rihannsu, because the end doesn't come. Not for a long while. And when I am at last whisked away from the hellish conditions of the small refugee transport, it is at the hands of the ship's collapsing infrastructure, more precisely a large metal rebar, traveling at an almost lethal velocity. I only have time to curl myself around my pregnant belly before being thrown into unconsciousness as it strikes the side of my head.
I don't know how long I float beneath the surface of awareness, but when at last I do come up for air, I am at first unaware that I have done so. Everything is so quite and dark and still, a far cry from the chaotic mess I recall.
The pain is what tells me I'm awake. My brain is the victim of such a brilliant concussion that any light at all would have sent me into a fit; I am grateful for the darkness. I can feel a warm wetness on the side of my head where the beam struck my temple. My shoulders ache, my legs and arms are cramped, but I am otherwise unharmed. I am, however, trapped. Sometime during my unconsciousness, a large bulkhead fell and became wedged between the walls, pinning me beneath it. It is all but impossible to move from my horribly uncomfortable position with the large sheet of metal inhibiting my movements. My first order of business is throwing off the troublesome bulkhead.
Bracing my shoulders on either side of the corner that I'm currently trapped in, I lift my palms to the smooth underside of the sheet and struggle to shift the load. It doesn't budge. I try once more, shifting so that my hands are braced against the ground and my shoulders are pushing up on the sheet, with the same results. It is abundantly clear that I will not be able to escape my prison alone.
"Help!" I call out, hoping one of the other refugees is in a position to help me. The cry is met only with the echo of my own voice. A feeling of uneasiness trickles into my mind, sending ice water down my spine. Surely there must be some other person who is conscious and capable of a verbal acknowledgement. I shout out again, straining my ears for the slightest sound that might indicate someone else is awake. Or alive.
There is no response.
Uneasiness quickly changes to mounting panic. I try to control my wild emotions, but my professional training abandons me. I attack the bulkhead with a hysterical energy, screaming the entire time. I can't be alone on this ship, someone else has to be alive. They'll hear me, they'll find me, and they'll rescue me. We'll be alright. They can't all be—
I don't allow myself to think the word. I don't want to consider that I may be the last Rihannsu alive. The supernova can't have killed us all! I can't be all alone! All alone...I freeze suddenly. A new kind of terror grips me when I remember the one being who's life I can readily assure myself of. And the fact that I haven't felt a sign of that life since before unconsciousness. Oh Elements, no!
My hand flutters to my belly, searching a sign of life from my son. He has to be alive, he can't have died, please Elements let him have survived...I wait an agonizingly long time. It could have only been a few moments, but it seems like hours. Tears bud in my eyes and my lower lip quivers. It seems he hasn't made it...
And a second later I feel a sound kick against my palm. Instantly I collapse against the wall, tears of relief streaming down my dirty face. Thank you, Elements. The first bit of good news since my husband left ch'Rihan a month ago, whispering sweet promises of saving our home in my all-to-willing-to-listen ear. But the relief of knowing my son is alive is quickly replaced by another fear.
I boarded this refugee shuttle as a very last resort, when my husband didn't come back. Every doctor on any given planet would tell you it would be foolish to make a drastic location change so close to the birth of your child, and me being in the medical profession myself, I was extremely hesitant to get on the ship, but fear won out in the end and I boarded. Two days before my expected due date.
And now here I am, dangerously close to giving birth, alone and trapped on a dead ship.
For the millionth time since leaving the doomed ch'Rihan, I close my eyes and send my frantic prayers to the Elements.
I have no way of telling time on the ship, but I estimate at least four days pass. Hunger and thirst compound the headache from the concussion I received. I do eventually manage to get my legs out from the cramped position underneath me, but I have no way to stretch them beneath the bulkhead and my discomfort grows.
I expend most of my energy in the first day, fighting a losing battle against the sheet of metal on top of me. It does not move, remaining as unyielding as the mountains ringing the proud ch'Rihan city of Mhiessan—no, that analogy is all too inaccurate now, with pieces of Eilariv Mountain scattered through space. Regardless of the tactless comparison, the bulkhead remains in place, and I am unable to move it. The second day is spent either in unrestful sleep or prayer, and by the third and fourth days I have no fight or energy left to do even that. My mind is a fog. I am vaguely aware that my son may come at any moment, but I waive professional thought and mark that awful scenario as impossible. Improbable. It won't happen. My child and I will die together, and when I reach Vorta Vor I will see his face. But not before. Any other time that thought would be appalling, seeing as four days ago I was frantic to reassure my self of his survival, but just now, in this moment, the thought is comforting. I have just about resigned our lives to that fate when the Elements decide to remind me that they won't let me go peacefully.
At first I think it is just my body begging for food, that small lurch in my abdomen. After all, I can't remember the last time I ate. I pay no mind to it. Nor do I the second time, when it happens an hour or so later, or the third, when it happens an hour after that. But the fourth strange lurch brings me back to reality. Of course I couldn't have expected my son to wait for rescue, or death, before coming. I should be surprised he's waited this long. Still, I try to think up any other explanation for the cramps. But with the fifth contraction, my denial melts away and all that's left is the now-familiar feeling of fear. Fueled only by adrenaline and empowering hysteria, I attack my prison with renewed vigor.
It is amazing what desperation will do. After only ten minutes of clawing and kicking at the immovable bulkhead, I manage to get my arms and shoulders through the small space between it and the wall. Unfortunately, that space is minuscule, and my middle is quite large, with no hope of following my upper half out. The situation is hopeless. If my body had any ounce of moisture left in it, I am sure I would've cried, but as is I only feel a stinging at the corners of my eyes. A wordless cry of fear, pain, and frustration scrapes the lining of my throat raw, a release of all the pent-up emotion of the past four days.
What did I ever do to deserve this? I think, falling limp against the bulkhead as another contraction passes. They are coming sooner, less than half an hour apart, and lasting longer. I am about to give up hope when I hear the impossible: a voice.
It's a far-away voice, and the words are indistinguishable. In fact, it's so faint that at first I am unsure if I've actually heard it. Maybe, in my terror, I am hallucinating and imagining what I desperately want to hear. But, even if the voice was just a figment of my imagination, for sanity's sake, I have to try and get its attention.
"Help!" I shout, "Help! Please!" My voice cracks, spent from the animalistic scream of moments before. Am I loud enough? Was I heard? I want to leap for joy when I hear the same voice again, still very far away, but undoubtedly a voice. Thank the Elements! I shout again and again to the mystery voice, and every so often pause to listen for it's responses. I hear it only twice more, but each time it's getting closer. I am so sure rescue is near, and not a moment too soon; I feel another contraction, this one only fifteen minutes from the last.
A few minutes later I hear footsteps, and this time I can make out individual words.
The language is familiar, but I can pick up very few words. Federation Standard, most probably a human. Normally I might play out an encounter with a human cautiously. But I don't think the situation I'm in falls under the category of "normal".
"Help!" I call out in Standard (at least, I hope it's Standard; it has been years since I ever thought about the language). My rescuer comes into view then, ducking through a collapsed passageway and appearing amidst the sea of wreckage. The entire ceiling is just about gone, no more than random pockets of exposed, sparking wires, and pieces of the ceiling's paneling cover the floor, from the wall where I am to the large dirty windows that offer a panoramic view of space—when one is standing, that is. From my uncomfortable vantage point on the floor, I can see only a few pitiful stars through the corner of the clearsteel.
My rescuer is silhouetted against the window, but I can tell right away he is human. And even in the dim light, the arrow-shaped badge on his chest glitters. Starfleet. But who else was I expecting? My own kind?
The man scans the field of debris, and his eyes finally land on me, pinned into the corner by the damned bulkhead. I can't see his expression, but I have to wonder what he thinks of the dirty, hysterical Rihannsu woman staring back at him. Stupidly, I feel embarrassed about my current appearance and suppress the urge to smooth down my wild mess of auburn curls. Instead, I reach a pleading hand towards him.
"Help," I mouth, unable to produce even a hoarse whisper. Thirst and hysteria have taken their toll on my voice. The human is already moving, grabbing one side of the bulkhead and pulling at it. I press my shoulder once more against the unyielding trap, but even with our combined efforts it doesn't budge. He steps back, and for a moment I believe he is leaving me. My hand flies out of its own accord, latching itself around his wrist. I don't want to be alone again. The man, his face in shadows, says something in a calming voice, something along the lines of "help". That seems to be the only Standard word I remember.
But I am physically and mentally incapable of releasing my vice grip on his arm. He must realize this, because he leans back against the wall beside my prison-bulkhead, where I can hold him without stretching too far, and flips open what can only be a communicator. I hear him say a few things into the box, but only recognize one other word: Spock.
In the fried recesses of my mind, I don't find the name at all misplaced in the current settings. It was common on ch'Rihan, especially in the final days of the planet. I remember my husband, on the night of his departure, telling me Spock had the answers to the supernova's threat, and was all ch'Rihan needed to survive...
I am tired. I am hungry and I am thirsty, and above all I am in pain. The memory of happier days is intoxicating, like a numbing balm on all of my discomfort. I struggle to bring back more of the memories, needing to see the faces of my father and my brothers and, most of all, my husband...
I must have been fading out, going into shock (a state that is way overdue), because the Starfleet human is suddenly crouching in front of me, the one hand held in my loosening grip gently holding my face.
"Hey, stay with me, we're going to get you out of here," he says in a calm, encouraging voice. "You're going to be alright. Just hang on a little bit longer." Later I will find it odd that the universal translator took so long to kick in, but at the moment I don't question it. I nod numbly, wincing as another contraction takes hold of my body. They are so close together now, so terrifyingly close...
At last Spock, the help the Starfleet human ordered in, arrives. I think my husband was right when he said Spock was all the Rihannsu needed. After much grunting, grip readjusting, and help from their phasers, the man and the Vulcan manage to haul the bulkhead off of me. I try to help, but in my deteriorating condition, I know I don't do much. Once the large piece of metal, which has largely been supporting me these past four days, is gone, I realize I don't have the strength to stand, or even hold myself up. I fall forward to the stained floor, curling around the lump in belly that I know won't be there much longer. One hand still manages to hang on to the human.
Almost before I hit the floor, I feel strong hands grip my arms, trying to gently pull me to my feet. But as they try to get me upright, a splitting pain, worse than anything I have ever felt, tears up my spine. I cry out and double over, my face contorting in agony. My hand clamps tigher around the human's. It's then the two Starfleet officers realize in just how critical condition I am, on the edge of unconsciousness and in the progressed stages of labor. I hear the human shouting into his communicator, his voice just a bit frantic, asking for a man he calls McCoy.
After that, I reach the threshold of my ability to concentrate or focus. Everything is a blur of color and pain, sweeping me along to some unknown destination, none of which i try to understand. I know a third man has joined us, I feel the strange buzz of a transporter, but I can't piece any of it together. And as I am whisked along in this nightmare state, through brilliant white halls filled with the faces of a hundred different beings, the only coherent thought I have, the only thing I am absolutely certain of, is: I'm safe.
Throughout it all, I don't let go of the human's hand.
Note: this is also heavily influenced by Diana Duane's Rihannsu saga. That's were some of the names come from; I'll be using ch'Rihan and Rihannsu instead of Romulus and Romulan. :)