Hello, good readers. Thank you for all the reviews so far, especially the constructive ones. I've been working at this one, and my Wifi's been out again for some unknown reason. That, and the fact that I have a large amount of homework, means that things are coming out just a little bit slow.
WARNING: I've got some surgery on April 9th, which means I'll be pretty doped-up on pain meds for a week. Chances are I won't be able to type anything comprehensible for that amount of time, so please bear with me.
I found that McCoy's lines were much too enjoyable to write than should be healthy. Sarcastic characters are just so much fun to write for.
The smoke filled the bridge fast, spreading around the room like wild fire. It also filled Chekov's lungs just as fast, making him sputter and cough. He dropped the phaser gun he had been pointing at the man in black and scrabbled at another pouch on his belt, trying desperately to get the latch undone. It fumbled beneath his fingers, the button underneath refusing to unclasp as his grip became more frantic. The smoke was like water, thick and unbreathable, and only making his attempts all the more difficult.
Finally, the clasp gave way and Chekov quickly took out a silver cylindrical object with a mouth piece attached to the end. Eyes streaming from the smoke, he bit into the mouth piece as quickly as he could, breathing in the steady oxygen that came out. He gasped in the air thankfully, his head almost spinning from the sudden reprieve of not being able to breathe.
With the oxygen now in his lungs, he spun around to face the man in black, his fists coming up to protect himself. The smoke was still thick, though, and hindered his vision. He doubted that he would even be able to see his own hand in the gray that overtook most of his vision. He squinted at it, trying to see through it and find the man. Moving carefully, Chekov tip-toed backwards a couple of steps, straining his ears against the sudden silence for the squeak of a boot or the fizzling sound of a phaser blast passing through the air. His own phaser was nowhere to be seen around the ground.
His own breathing seemed to be too loud to bear, and he was sure that the man would find him quickly enough because of it. He pressed his fingers against his nose, trying to silence the noise. There was nothing, though, no indication of a life-form in the mist, friendly or unfriendly. He continued moving around slowly and quietly, not noticing the set-up of panels located right behind him until he ran into them with a small thunk.
He stilled instinctively, his heart beating at a mile a minute. He resisted the urge to breathe in sharply, not wanting to give his position away any more. His boots shifted silently on the floor, ready for combat if someone should pop out of the smoke and attack him while he was unaware.
Something else, though, caught his attention. A golden light shone through the mist, steadily growing bigger and bigger until it was a spinning mass of light on the far side of the room. An iron fist clenched Chekov's chest in sudden fear as it whirred around in the bridge room. There were more of them coming, and he was the only one on the bridge. Without a weapon of any sort.
The golden beam-light stopped, and there was an even deeper silence than there had been before. Absolutely no breathing, no rustle of fabric, no anything. Chekov felt alone.
Then, from the wall adjacent to Chekov, a door slid open with the standard hissing sound that all Starfleet doors made. Chekov felt a sudden rush of adrenaline to his head, prompting him to move at it. The men in black were trying to escape into the other areas of the Enterprise, most likely to cause more destruction and death along their way. Without thinking, he ran at the sound, only seeing the faint light in the smoke. They wouldn't be getting away from him if he could help it.
A hand shot out suddenly from the shadows and caught him in the ribs, knocking the air out of him, while another twisted his arm down behind his back painfully. He was slammed to the ground hard, the man pinning him down. Stars appeared in his vision as he gasped for air again, now almost completely defenseless against his enemy.
"Spock, Spock! Jesus Spock, it's just Chekov!"
The weight from his back was lifted, and the stars receded somewhat. His face was still pressed uncomfortably against the floor, as he barely had enough breathe to lift it. A hand grasped the back of his shirt and shoulder and hefted him up clumsily to his feet, where he stumbled against someone.
"My apologies, Ensign. I was unaware that it was you charging at me." Chekov instantly noticed the voice of Spock. His vision was still fuzzy, though, and he could only see gray. There were several people breathing next to him, so close that it seemed their faces were right in front of him. He still couldn't hear the men.
"Zere's...zere's two men...in ze...room, Keptin!" he said between gasps. "Beamed aboard!" he finished in one sharp breath. Spock really knew how to knock the air out of someone. He felt the person holding him upright stiffen. It turned out to be the Captain himself, Chekov discovered, as he spoke.
"Did they get out through one of the doors?" he questioned seriously.
Chekov shut his eyes tightly in an attempt to help regain his balance.
"Vhat? No, zey're still in ze room!" he said, confused.
Sulu spoke up this time. "Pavel, open your eyes." he said, touching the navigator's shoulder.
Chekov cocked his head to the head slightly, then complied. He carefully peeled apart his upper and lower lids and squinted around at the bridge, his vision better now that he was standing up. The room was now only partially filled with smoke, as enough of it had dissipated. He could clearly see the wall opposite them, on the far side of the room, and all the stations in between. He could see everything clearly now, except for the two men.
"Vhere-?" he started, looking around wildly.
"You said one of them beamed aboard, did you not, Ensign Chekov?" Spock asked suddenly. Chekov looked taken aback for a moment.
"Yes, right over zere." he said, pointing over at the area by the railing, where the man in black had first materialized. Spock only glanced at it.
"And it is then that I assume the smoke canister was deployed?"
"Yes..." Chekov said slowly.
"And I can also assume that you saw the light of the next beam through the smoke, and nothing else?" he asked, looking carefully at Chekov.
"Yes, I could see nussing...oooh." Chekov said as it finally dawned on him. The second flash of light was not a second person boarding the ship, it was the first person beaming off the ship. Kirk apparently understood, too.
"Why would someone go to all the trouble of beaming aboard a Federation ship, and then just leave?" he asked nobody in particular, still holding Chekov up subconsciously.
Chekov shook his head, his eyebrows furrowed deep on his forehead. It didn't make any sense to him, either. The man in black had the vantage, with the cover of smoke and his weapons. Not much else stood in the way of him escaping to other parts of the ship besides a skinny teenage boy and a door. He could've neutralized Chekov at the first chance he had and inflict damage on the ship via the bridge controls. Why would he leave when he had such an opportunity?
"Perhaps he heard Keptin Kork over ze comm?" Chekov suggested. "You announced zat you vere coming up to ze bridge right before he materialized."
"Yeah, that might be it..." Kirk said while running his fingers through his hair, but he sounded uncertain. "Did you see him do anything else before he threw the smoke bomb?" he asked Chekov.
Chekov thought about it. The man hadn't touched anything that he knew of, but he had been right next to the station when the smoke bomb went off. He could have looked through something in there, but Chekov doubted it. The light that turned on while working on it would have shone through the smoke. Then again, Chekov wasn't entirely focused on the bad guy the entire time, as he remembered by his still-burning lungs. He had taken a short time to pull out his oxygen canister, and that may have been his own fatal move. He wasn't sure if that was enough time to pull anything up at the station, but it could've been.
"Actually," he said, detaching himself from the rest of them and walking over to his own station. "I vas getting out my oxygen, and he may hef gotten into ze station in zose few seconds. I can check to see if he managed to pull anysing u-" he stopped in his tracks, having just rounded the railing.
The stiff legs of Norma Watson were sticking out in awkward angles against her body, and her arms were outstretched in front of her, seemingly reaching for something he could not see. There was a halo of blood around her head from the moment her head had cracked against the floor, and her graying hair was sticking against it sickeningly. The thing that was most disturbing, however, was the small amount of bone protruding from the side of her neck. A few loose hairs littered the floor from where the man in black had pulled them out, breaking her neck at the same time. Chekov had forgotten she was there because of all the adrenaline and the events that had followed her broken neck. It was the most frightening thing he had ever witnessed, and he was glad that her open eyes were covered by her hair. Nonetheless, he stood frozen to the spot, unable to move as he stared at her.
"Chekov?" Kirk asked sharply, but Chekov could not hear him, as he only had eyes for Norma.
"Chekov. What are you looking-" Kirk said as he strode over to Chekov worryingly.
"Shit." he said, standing next to the teenager and looking upon the woman much like Chekov was doing. Kirk turned around quickly.
"Someone get McCoy!"
It had been a long, arduous task getting from medical bay to the bridge without the use of the lifts, but eventually McCoy had shown up with his emergency bag slung on his shoulder. It had been a rather tougher task to get Chekov away from the area of the body, as he wouldn't be moved easily. And that's what it was, Chekov thought to himself as he leaned against the far wall, a body. There was no doubt that she was dead, and Chekov would not try and convince himself otherwise that she may have gotten lucky and survived a broken neck and a severe concussion. McCoy had only confirmed it, with a long sigh and a "She's dead, Jim.".
That, of course, didn't stop him from being nearly petrified of the body, standing like a stone and watching as some of the crew zipped Norma up in a black body-bag and loaded her onto one of the hover-gurneys. His jaw was set tight as they wheeled her out of the room, as he was determined to not show weakness. He had hardly known the woman, after all. He shouldn't be so emotional this time. He had seen plenty of other people die, floating in space when the Enterprise had first put their shields up at the urging of Kirk. Bodies and debris had pummeled the screen, setting him near-on-edge, but he had kept his cool and managed to ignore it. So why was he feeling something else for this woman that he barely knew?
Chekov nearly jumped out of his skin as someone touched his arm. His eyes fell on Sulu, who was looking at him with concern.
"Are you okay?" he asked gently. Chekov was about to reply the with the normal, "I'm fine, nothing's wrong", when McCoy's loud voice sounded from across the room.
"Of course he's not okay!" He marched up to where they stood, a scanner in his hand and his medical bag slung on his shoulder. He gave Chekov a stern stare. "And if he says different, he's lying."
Chekov felt his face burn red against the man's look. Everybody else who worked on the bridge had managed to make their way back up from the broken areas of the ship, and they were either staring at him, or trying hard not to. Even as he glanced sideways, Chekov could see Higgs look away quickly, avoiding his gaze. It was all a bit embarrassing.
"I really am fine, Doctor." he said quietly, also avoiding his gaze.
"What'd I tell ya?" McCoy told Sulu. "Absolute bullshit." He then took the scanner in his hand and waved it around Chekov's head, seemingly without any idea of what to scan. Chekov knew better, though.
"I vas not injured, Doctor." he said, ducking under the scanner's spinning end as it zoomed dangerously close to his face. McCoy grabbed Chekov's collar and forced him to stay still as he examined his head.
"Adrenaline can do some weird stuff to you, kid. Hell, our dumb-ass Captain over there had his hands swollen the size of a Nilorxian Fung-Fruit, and he still ran around the ship trying to save all of our asses." He poked at Chekov's temple rather hard. "Dumb-ass." he said again, as if the first time wasn't enough to express his feelings.
"Hey, I managed to succeed in that, Bones!" Kirk said, approaching him from behind. He had previously been talking with one of the crew members, who's shirt had been smeared with oil and grease. Chekov hazarded a guess that he was from the engine rooms.
"Ah, Jim. Now that you've graced us with your presence, tell me what we're doing with Chekov over hear." he said, pointing a thumb back at him. Chekov's ears grew red again against his will.
Kirk looked thoughtful for a moment, then brought his gaze to Chekov. Like Sulu, he looked concerned, and maybe even slightly worried.
"You're the doctor here, Bones. What do you think we should do?" he asked. He made it sound as if he was still in complete control, even though he had just asked for someone's opinion. Very few captains could pull that off as seamlessly as Captain Kirk. That was probably one of the reasons he had been appointed Captain at such a young age. His ingenuity and care for the people around him also accounted for that, and saving an entire planet from raging Romulans from the future didn't hurt his chances.
McCoy raised his eyebrow at him. McCoy was one of the few people on the ship who could curse out the Captain and still be trusted for an opinion. It almost made Chekov jealous, but then he realized that he wouldn't be part of Kirk's nefarious schemes. He didn't know whether he should be relieved or disappointed.
McCoy lifted up the scanner from Chekov's scalp and checked the small screen on the side, frowning all the while.
"He seems perfectly healthy from my standpoint, but I'd like to bring him down to sick bay and check him over completely." he said.
Chekov squirmed involuntarily at the thought of going down to sick bay. The place always smelt of disinfectant and musty air-freshener. That, and he really didn't want to be around people for the time being. It wasn't that he didn't like them, it was just that he would much rather enjoy sleeping in his own bed for the night.
"I told you, Doctor. I am fine. I don't need to be taken anyvere right now." Chekov insisted. McCoy, though, would not be having any of that.
"I've got a load of hypos in my pocket that'll put you out like a light, kid. Now let me check you out, or I'll use 'em!" he said threateningly, patting his pocket for good measure. Chekov gulped. He didn't underestimate the Doctor at all, as he had often used those hypos on the Captain himself if he got too rowdy or annoying.
Thankfully, Kirk stepped in between the two with his hands up, preventing it from advancing any further.
"Bones, why don't we give the kid a break? Just let him sleep it off." he said.
McCoy gave a menacing glance.
"Jim, if he hit his head or somethin', he could go into a coma and die. You want that on your hands?" he said.
Chekov had the sudden urge to giggle. McCoy was always so overly-dramatic when it came to medicine. It was like he was the king of all pessimists, as he often went off on rants about why space was the most "deadly, life-sucking vacuum of shit around". It was actually Kirk who laughed at that, though.
"Bones, you could make a splinter seem like a stake. You've already gotten your readings off of that scan thing," he said, indicating the still-spinning scanner in McCoy's hand. "So let him rest for a bit."
"You know very well that I don't trust this stuff, Jim!" he argued, motioning towards his medical bag.
"Why do you use it, then?" Kirk asked, eyebrow raised. McCoy huffed at him.
"Because it's regulation, dammit! If I didn't use it, I'd be cited faster than a rattlesnake on a rabbit."
Chekov looked on uncomfortably. He really did just want sleep, he didn't want to be anywhere else but his own room for now. The two men arguing in front of him was only irritating his already-stretched nerves, and he felt fatigued just thinking about McCoy's hypo-spray sedatives. Even though he wasn't exhausted physically, emotions could really do some damage to the internal clock. He didn't want to admit it to anyone, but Chekov realized that he must if he wanted to get off the bridge and into his bed.
"-just let him sleep!"
The argument was still going on, whether or not Chekov himself was apart of it.
"Excuse me, Doctor!" Chekov interjected loudly. Both Kirk and McCoy turned to face him, McCoy looking annoyed, Kirk looking amused. Chekov cleared his throat. "I'm tired. I just want some sleep." he said.
"Aha! That's the sign of a concussion, Jim!" McCoy cut in, but Chekov ignored him and continued.
"I did not hit my head at any time, Doctor. I vould just like to rest in my own bed for a vile, if I'm not needed on ze bridge." he directed the last part of the sentence to the Captain. McCoy opened his mouth to argue, but Kirk answered.
"Of course not, Chekov! Just go get some sleep, take all the time that you need." he said kindly.
McCoy still looked ready to argue with him, but Kirk gave him a reproving look. "Some sleep." he emphasized to the Doctor sternly. McCoy only glared back intensely. Chekov could see the gears in his head grinding together in annoyance and frustration, and the teen could guess that there were some choice swears heading the Captain's or his way. He was surprised, however, when the Doctor merely huffed at them both, giving in.
"Fine, some sleep." he said grudgingly. He then turned on Kirk and pointed a finger at him. "I want to examine him right at lunchtime tomorrow, though." He then pointed his finger at Chekov and gave him a piercing look. "Lunchtime." he repeated.
Chekov nodded quickly. "Yes sor." McCoy only raised an eyebrow.
"You're dismissed, Chekov." Kirk said, then walked off to talk to another crew member.
Chekov nodded again, this time feeling more free than before. A horrible weight still sat in his chest, though, and it wouldn't go away. Gulping one last time, he headed off the bridge and down the long hallway to the lifts. Eventually, he reached his quarters.
He woke with a gasp, his forehead covered in cold sweat. His sheets clung to his arms like sticky paper, making him feel like he was entrapped in a web of cloth that wouldn't let go. It took a moment to recover, but his heart was still pounding furiously. He felt that it might burst against his chest. Slowly, he gained back control of his breathing, and waited for a few moments until his heart stopped punching his ribs.
It wasn't so much a dream that gave him such a fit, but a memory. The memory, however had been enhanced to such a degree that it was intensely frightening. The memory in question was indeed the last few moments of Norma's life. Her head snapped back with a louder resounding crack than he had previously remembered, and the expression she wore was much more scared and saddening than before. Chekov had been expecting such a thing to happen, as one could not see someone die without thinking back on it at some point, but he wished that he didn't have such a clear look at it. His leg suddenly itched, so he scratched at it before thinking again.
He wasn't about to blame himself in the terribly cliche way of things, but he did have the nagging feeling that if he had raised the phaser a little bit quicker, Norma Watson would still be alive. It had happened to fast for him to react, though, and he knew it. How was he supposed to know that someone was going to beam aboard the ship when all of their power was down? He had guessed such a thing and voiced his opinion immediately after the smoke cleared, but Spock merely said that the enemy ship probably drew residual power from some other part of the ship.
That also fed another thought he had. Why would the enemy waste their sure-only beam to kill an old woman and throw a smoke bomb? The only answer he could think of was that the man in black had not expected there to be company on the bridge. The enemy ship had fired specifically around the engines for that purpose, to be rid of the bridge crew. They had not expected the main engineer to deny him access to helping. Even so, he could have taken out Chekov just as easily as he had taken out Norma. He certainly was big enough. (Was he even human?)
Chekov sighed deeply and turned in his bed. His calf itched again, so he scratched it. He pushed the thoughts out of his mind and rolled over again, trying to find a good position. He was determined to get some more sleep before his next shift, but thought of sleep now after the nightmare seemed laughable. Wincing, he craned his neck to look at the electric clock on his small nightstand. It shone bright blue through the dark, and it hurt his eyes an awful lot. Sleep deprivation could really make some people sensitive. He closed his eyes. It was still a half-hour earlier than he usually got up, but he didn't think he could get any more sleep in. He scratched his leg again, unaware that he had been scratching at it the whole time.
Grudgingly, he swung his legs off the bed and grabbed a comb out of the nightstand drawer, and tried to get the knots out. That was usually futile, as the curls prevented the comb from going more than an inch without stopping abruptly. He got out of the bed and went to the bathroom, washing his hands and brushing his teeth in the dark. The light still wasn't his friend at that point. Finished with the necessities, he pulled on his clothes and left the room. It was startlingly bright outside, and it assaulted his eyes. After a few moments, his eyes adjusted, but they were watering ever so slightly.
Taking a deep breath, he headed for the lifts that went to the bridge.
Yeah, it's mainly some boring stuff now, but some serious stuff is going to go down soon. Trust me, I've been planning this story for a while. It's going to be cool. Excitement in the next chapter!
Reviews are appreciated. (No, seriously, I really do appreciate them greatly. Really.)