This is the final chapter to this story. I just want to thank everyone who has read and kept up on it. It only makes me want to continue. So soon I will have another installment. Thank you again for reading!
Another day was coming to another end, and the captain was sitting in his armchair located in his quarters reading over various reports from his crew. This included the reports pertaining to the recent events and random attacks that seemed to be happening all over the ship. It was curious as well as concerning. A Vulcan crew would not act in such a way, and he found himself trying to piece together the puzzle.
There sat a small but separate pile of PADDs next to him from different members of his crew. However, his new science officer seemed to be keeping up a very thorough investigation herself and had made sure to keep him informed. T'Pel's persistence and diligence was impressive. However it was consistent to her service record. Though he couldn't seem to find anything of use and he set the PADD down and took another sip of tea, looking over to his sehlat who was laying under a table staring at him rather intently.
Solok cocked a brow and moved his cup from his lips, "Yes, Fonn'es?" He asked. The animal raised his head slightly before setting it down again. He seemed a little anxious for this time of evening. Solok set his cup down and tilted his head, "If it is attention you desire then you will have to come to me. I will not join you under the table." and he extended a hand in offering.
Fonn'es eyed him a moment longer before crawling out from under the table and moving close to receive Solok's offer of a pet, but stopped suddenly and stared at his master. His ears moved back and the fur on his back began to rise. Something wasn't right.
"Fonn'es?" Solok asked as the beast started moving around the room, sniffing and growling. He stood and slowly watched his pet hunt the intrusion that it sensed. He wondered if the Circassian cat T'Pel had brought aboard had found a way into his quarters, but saw no sign of it.
The sehlak made a round through Solok's whole quarters before coming back to him, still not convinced the intrusion was gone. Solok was standing very still with his eyes closed and Fonn'es could sense it again. Only this time it had his master.
T'Pel had laid down for a small nap, but was awaken by furr laying on her face. With a muffled protest she moved the creature onto the floor, at which it promptly crawled back up the couch and into her face again, cooing rather anxiously. Then there was a fairly loud thump against the far wall.
She jumped to as her Circassian cat flew under the bed in the other room. The noise had come from Solok's quarters next to her and she walked over. She could sense anger and sadness, something that had been frequent as of late. T'Pel drew a breath and walked to her door and headed out into the corridor, there was no one about but the Captain's door had been left open and she headed inside to see if he needed assistance.
Solok was not there, and she found his sehlak laying on the floor by the wall that separated their two living area's. She hurried over to the animal who weakly looked up at her. The poor thing was a little too confused and scared to even move. T'Pel picked him up and headed out for sick bay.
Later she walked through Larkin's door, and set Fonn'es on a bed before heading back toward the door, "No time to explain, just be ready for more casualties." And headed out, leaving Larkin slightly bewildered as he looked to the large cat laying on the medical bed.
Once she rounded a corner as she headed toward the turbolift she tapped her badge, "Computer, locate Captain Solok."
"Captain Solok is in main engineering." The computer responded coolly. T'Pel broke off into a run and hopped onto the turbolift.
The doors opened and she ran down the corridor toward engineering, finding a few bodies of what she hoped were only stunned crew mates. Engineering was in sight. She jumped over one last person and into the room to find the Captain standing among more unconscious bodies, holding a phaser in the direction of the warp core.
"Captain! Stop!" She yelled walking toward him cautiously.
A moment passed, but his hand did not move. It almost seemed as if he was fighting to keep his thumb off the trigger button.
The strain was evident on Solok's face. His hand trembled with the tension of the moment. "Shoot me," he whispered in a strangled whisper.
T'Pel blinked and took a few steps closer, unsure she heard correctly, "I...beg your pardon?" she asked.
"Shoot me." he said a bit more forcefully than before, "I can not hold the entity back much longer, and if you do not shoot me, it will destroy the warp core and the rest of the crew in the process."
Speechless a moment she just shook her head, "No." was all she could choke out.
"I am giving you a direct order. Shoot me, Lieutenant. This is a chance to prove your dream incorrect. That you are indeed capable of saving your crew." The strain on his mind was increasing and there was limited time before his finger did slip.
Looking around the room at the unconscious Engineers, she shook her head again, "No. I believe it was proven earlier that the stun setting does not work when under it's influence." Her voice shook. It was not her wish to kill her captain in her first month aboard.
"I am aware. I am ordering you to shoot to kill. With all due haste, T'Pel!" He yelled as his hand had started shaking more.
Her heart was pounding, "I am sorry...but I still refuse. It is illogical." She swallowed, "The creature has proven it is able to possess anyone of us at will. Seeing as how it is practically untraceable, I will lose it as soon as you are dead. It will simply make another attempt."
"I can Court-martial you for this. Please...I can...can not hold it back much longer." Solok nearly whimpered.
"I...I can not." She replied, moving closer to attempt to grapple him to the floor. Solok was a bit larger than her and when on solid ground she was sure he could overpower her. It was a risk she was willing to take however.
He let out a sigh, and right as she was about to lunge at him, the phaser lowered and his head turned slightly, "You refuse to kill one of your own at the risk of your others?" He asked.
It took her a moment but then she realized it was not Solok who was speaking. It was the creature communicating with her.
"Yes." she answered softly, "You are responsible for the stabbings and violence?"
"Yes." it replied, coldly.
"Why?" T'Pel asked.
"You attacked us. You attacked our home. You have plans to continue and must be stopped." it replied and raised the phaser again.
Then it hit her. The tetryon scan, the feedback...,"It was not our intention to harm you or the rest of your kind. It was a simple science mission. We were not aware of your existence. If you let us, we may be able to repair the damage. We are not so cruel as to attack for no reason."
He stared at her a moment before closing his eyes and took in a deep breath, Solok had gained another moment to speak, "T'Pel...it does not believe you. Do something to get the phaser." He begged.
Seeing no other option as Solok was losing control once more, she lunged at him, knocking him to the floor and the phaser out of his hand and quickly clamored for it. She had to dive for it but managed to grab it just in time to turn onto her back as Solok's long fingers wrapped themselves around her neck.
T'Pel had the phaser held to his abdomen and her eyes locked on her attacker's. It was very clear it was not Solok, and it was the same onslaught of emotions she had felt before when attacked. Solok had ordered her to shoot him, yet she could not find it in herself to 'pull the trigger'.
"I am...responsible for the attack. It was...my idea." she choked out, feeling the blood flow to her head being cut off, and finding it difficult to breathe.
The creature said nothing, but at the same time there was an echo from her captain in her mind, "Shoot me." he persisted.
Tears formed and started falling down the sides of her face, "I will let you do with me as you wish, just... leave my crew alone. They had nothing to do with it. I take full responsibility for what has been done. Just please...leave them be. No...no more death." she choked out, her vision darkening. She lowered the phaser and tossed it aside and proceeded to lay there, staring blankly up at the possessed Solok.
Suddenly, his grip seemed to lessen. The blood rushed to her head once more and once her vision cleared, the crazed look had faded slightly from Soloks ice blue eyes, "You are willing to die for your people...for your...mistake?" he said.
T'Pel simply nodded. Her own emotions at the moment had swelled inside her and the guilt she was feeling overwhelmed her. Words were difficult.
He removed his hands and sat up, his eyes staring at her blankly as he thought, "You will try to fix the damage?" he continued in question.
"Yes." she replied calmly, watching him.
"How?" he asked.
"I am not sure. However, I will need to try to examine the damage first. Then perhaps the science team and myself will be able to come up with a solution." T'Pel continued.
The creature thought a moment longer then looked at the woman under him, "And if you fail...You will still offer your life as payment for the damage?"
She gave a hard swallow and nodded, "I give you my word."
It seemed sufficient for him, as he had gotten to his feet and stared at her, "Then begin. You have limited time."
A time later, T'Pel had awakened a few of the science members including T'Lara and Marik. Marik was sitting at the science station on the bridge running a few scans to see if they could find some sign of damage. The creature and Solok watching every moment as T'Pel began running through scenarios with T'Lara.
"I believe I have found something. It was not on the original scans, however it may be because of the tetryon scan. There is a subspace tear that has formed and is increasing in size." Mariks voice rang through the comm into science lab 1.
"The location fits where the tetryon scan hit. This could possibly be the damage we are looking for. Regardless it will need to be fixed." T'Lara responded, looking to T'Pel who had been poking away at her console.
"It is still rather small. Perhaps if we form a...bandage of sorts." T'Pel spoke softly, the determination to solve this written on her face.
"Any suggestions as to what to use as a bandage?" T'Lara asked, allowing her to continue. She could tell this had made an impact on her subordinate.
After a moment of deep thought and scanning through the computer, "Perhaps...would a static warp vesicle work?" T'Pel moved over to let T'Lara look over the calculations.
T'Lara cocked a brow, "It just may work. However, the possible damage to the ship..." She started and looked to the creature and captain, he was gazing at her with an almost hopeful gleam in his eyes.
"...we will deal with as it occurs. Lives are at stake." She continued, giving T'Pel a pointed glance before heading toward the door, "We will inform Marik of this and monitor from the bridge." she said and headed out.
Once on the bridge, Samok had assumed command in the captain's absence. T'Pel and Merik were at the science console calibrating the shields and warp nacelles for the static vesicle to mend the subspace tear.
"Are you prepared?" Samok asked, turning to Marik and T'Pel, his face was stern.
"Affirmative, Commander." Marik answered, eyeing T'Pel a moment. She seemed to be more focused on her work than anything else. Good thing, he thought.
Turning to the view screen, Samok watched the captain walk up to it as the creature looked out on it's home, "This will work? It will not harm us further?" the creature asked.
"Aside from the errors already made, our science officers are skilled. I believe this will be an adequate solution to the current problem." Samok stated. Solok turned and eyed him a moment before walking back to stand behind T'Pel, prepared to gain retribution should she fail.
"All hands, secure all stations." Samok ordered over the comm and gripped the sides of the command chair.
Everyone else simply grabbed hold of something as the helm began to slowly move the ship, the shields at full as the vesicle was put in place. There was a loud rumble as the ship began to shake. With every inch that was gained it seemed to worsen.
"What is happening?" the creature asked T'Pel, who was currently holding tight onto the back of Mariks chair.
"The turbulence is expected. It should calm the closer to the tear we get." She looked back at him, "I would suggest you hold onto something. I do not wish my captain damaged." She glared. The creature tilted his head and grabbed hold of the bulkhead.
"Shields at 95%." The helmsman called.
"Steady on. The ship will hold." Samok called, the sound increasing as the ship began to moved with the current of the subspace waves.
Those standing began to find it difficult not to cling tightly to something and Marik reached back to grip T'Pel's arm as she nearly lost her grip on his chair. She was watching the view screen intently and wasn't paying much attention.
The tear was getting closer and the T'Kumbra and her crew were being pushed back and forth violently. Samok was thrown from his chair and he grabbed hold of a nearby computer. T'Pel had flown back into Solok, knocking them both to the floor as he grabbed hold of her, and she grabbed hold of the post holding Marik's chair to the floor.
Moments passed, and the turbulence seemed to lessen the closer they got to the tear, as expected. T'Pel clamored to her feet and back to her computer console and watched as the helm slowly pressed onward. They finally came to a stop as the vesicle made contact with the tear. The sound it emanated reminded her of ice being crushed. Her black eyes were locked on her computer.
"It is working. The tear is mending." She exclaimed, perhaps a little too gleefully as Samok shot her a look as he crawled back into the command chair.
"Once the tear is fixed, what then?" The creature asked.
"We will add this into Starfleet's records as well as place a warning boyee to ward off any other possible intrusions." Samok responded coolly.
The creature didn't turn his gaze from T'Pel, "Is this true?"
T'Pel eyed him, "We will do what we can to prevent anyone from tampering with your home. However we can not guarantee something won't happen again. There are those who do not view life as highly as we do." the sadness seemed to be written on her face as she spoke, for his eyes seemed to soften.
"I understand. I also believe you have done the best that you can. It was of greater risk to you then I had thought. Thank you, T'Pel Kestra." He gave her an awkward bow, "I will leave you now."
Once he stood, Solok's eyes closed and he fell forward. T'Pel caught him and struggled slightly under his dead weight to find a pulse. His heart still beat, and she set him on the floor. She felt that she should be relieved, however there was no such response as she looked over his still form.
Marik was on lab duty the next day, and the T'Kumbra was headed off back to normal space. T'Lara was sitting behind him, going over some soil samples from a project that she had been working on.
"Do you think she is being too hard on herself?" Marik asked, turning slightly in his chair from the scans he was looking over.
"What do you mean?" T'Lara replied nonchalantly.
"T'Pel. She has been quiet ever since the captain's collapse on the bridge." he recalled.
T'Lara stopped and looked up, "She is normally quiet. However, the situation did seem to affect her." she agreed, "It will simply serve as a lesson. One I am sure we can all learn from."
Marik gave a nod, "I suppose." He then turned back to his computer. He knew she felt guilty. They had lost crew members to this ordeal and it weighed heavily on her. Though he felt it was not entirely her fault. Whatever had happened before he was called for assistance had to of gotten to her and he couldn't help but wonder what.
His eyes opened and adjusted to the harsh lights of sick bay, "Where am I?" Solok asked groggily, sitting up on the medical bed.
Larkin had been sitting at his desk working at his computer when he looked up, "Sick Bay, Captain. You lost consciousness once the creature felt it necessary to leave you." he responded coolly.
Solok stood a moment before walking over, "The cause for losing consciousness?" He asked.
"Fatigue. No one of the crew was exposed to the possession as long as you were. It did have negative affects on your neurology. Which I have been meaning to ask if you remember anything from the encounter, so I may finish my report." Larkin asked making sure his computer was set to the proper page.
Solok thought a moment, taking a seat.
"Also, T'Pel claims that you were able to communicate with her during the possession. I found this news as odd as she did. How was this possible?" Larkin went on.
Solok eyed the Doctor a moment as he collected the thoughts in order, "Fonn'es alerted...Fonn'es..." He stopped, remembering just what he had done, what the creature had done to his animal companion.
"Fonn'es is in good health. T'Pel was sure to bring him by before heading off to engineering. He only had minor injuries. I had him returned to your quarters." Larkin assured the captain coldly.
Solok took a measured breath, "Good. He sensed an intrusion in my quarters. I was unable to see anything, and had been reading the Lieutenants report just before. I felt it necessary to guard my mind. It seemed to allow me slight leverage over it's grasp."
Larkin nodded, as if he expected the response, "Go on."
"I remember walking to engineering, but I was unable to stop. The creature had obtained a phaser and took down anyone he saw in the corridors." Solok continued calmly.
"I delt with the casualties...thankfully it was set on low stun and it did not think to turn up the setting." Larkin chimed in.
Solok gave a nod, "Once in front of the warp core, I found a way to gain control of my hand, stopping it from firing. Shortly after, T'Pel came in. I saw an opportunity, and a way to communicate with her. However the creature began to fight me even harder."
Larkin gave a nod as he took notes, "Then?"
Solok looked at him sharply, "Did T'Pel not include this in her report?" He asked somewhat indignantly.
"She did. However I still need it from your view, for a thorough report, Captain." Larkin replied.
"I ordered her to shoot me. I know her strength does not match mine, and the creature would over take her just as it had earlier that day." He blinked and looked at the desk, "She refused. So I ordered her again and still she refused."
Larkin looked up at the captain, noticing the slight frustration in his eyes. However he allowed him to continue without comment until Solok had told him all he remembered. Which was a great deal of the event.
"If that is all you require, I would like to return to the bridge." Solok huffed, standing and adjusting his uniform.
Larkin gave him a nod, "Yes, Captain. Thank you." He responded and Solok headed out.
On his way to the bridge, he stopped by his quarters for a fresh uniform and to ascertain Fonn'es condition.
As he entered the door, he moved over to his dresser, spotting the brown and black fur under the far table. He could almost hear the sehlat whimper. He bowed his head and shut the dresser drawer, "I did not mean to harm you. It was not truly me." He spoke softly, turning and lowering himself to his knees.
Fonn'es just looked at him with his head to the floor. Solok narrowed his eyes and sighed. He could feel his companion was upset and in turn he himself felt a sharp pain of grief, "I am sorry. Can you forgive me, Fonn'es?"
The sehlat was still a moment, but slowly his tail began to wag and he crawled out from under the small table and walked over to Solok who raised a cautious hand to run his fingers through the beast's fur.
"I unfortunately can not stay long. I have work to do." He said, giving Fonn'es a scratch behind the ear, who beat his tail on the floor happily.
Solok stood and changed into a new uniform, giving Fonn'es one last scratch on his way out.
T'Pel was sitting at the science computer on the bridge, painstakingly going over all the scans that had been gathered over the last few days, or what scans there were. Finally she gave up and switched to normal subspace scans. She needed to get her mind off of the mission. It did nothing but twist her stomach into knots and knowing, on occasion that Samok would stare a hole into the back of her head.
Hearing the turbolift doors open, she turned to see Solok step onto the bridge.
"Captain on Deck." Samok chimed and stood, followed by herself and everyone.
Solok gave a small wave, "Not required. Resume your work." he said and continued to his ready room, stopping just before the door, "Lieutenant T'Pel Kestra, I would like to speak with you. Now." he said and entered.
The knot tightened and she stood, glancing over to Samok, who she was sure sat there as pleased as a peacock. Taking in a breath, she gained back her resolved and headed into Solok's ready room and stood at attention.
He took a moment to shuffle some PADDs on his desk before sitting, crossing his legs and moving his now clasped hands to his chin. A long moment passed as he said nothing and simply stared at the Lieutenant. Her eyes were focused on the wall behind him and remained, in his opinion, surprisingly emotionless.
"At ease." He spoke finally. Watching her place her hands behind her back as her stance relaxed slightly, but she gave away her apprehension in how rigidly she moved. Yet she said nothing, and made no effort to make eye contact with him, "You may have a seat."
Finally, she looked at him and took a seat. He seemed content to survey her a moment long before speaking. If his intention was to make her feel uncomfortable, he was succeeding.
"You disobeyed a direct order from your commanding officer. That is an offence that is punishable by court-martial." He began.
"Yes, Sir." T'Pel responded.
"Not to mention, your carelessness with the tetryon scan nearly was this ship and its crew's destruction as well as 3 deaths." He continued sternly.
"Yes, Sir." She replied softly.
"Your own life as well as my own were nearly added to that list." He persisted.
"Permission to speak freely, Sir." T'Pel asked, locking her eyes firmly on his. She had had enough of this torment.
Solok cocked a brow and gave her a nod to continue.
"Your life would have surely ended up on that list had I not disobeyed your order to fire on you. Had I done so, the creature would have made another attempt. Who knows how many times that would have went on until it either ran out of crew members to possess or succeeded in its attempts. You were under great mental duress and could not be expected to think all too clearly or you would have come to the same conclusion." She adjusted herself slightly. His eyebrows were slowly working their way up in mild surprise.
"Also...if I recall a former incident on the holodeck, you had chastised me on being too quick to kill. If anything I was simply following prior orders from my commanding officer." She snipped, pausing a moment to pull back her frustration.
Finally she gave a sigh, "The fact of the matter is, it was my mistake, and I will need to bare the burden of it. The deaths that were caused will weigh heavily on my mind for quite some time. I need not have you remind me." She finished.
Solok sat there silent, both brows perked upward, "I see." Slowly his eyes softened and he lowered his hands, "I was going to add that, I in fact, owe you my life. Also, even though I was not in control, to apologize for nearly asphyxiating you to the point of death." He cocked a brow slightly, watching her face darken with a light hue of jade.
Her eyes fell to the floor, "I see. An apology is not required, Captain." She felt foolish now.
He gave a sigh and looked to the unfinished game of Kal'to on his desk, "Watching the life slowly drain from your eyes was not enjoyable. I was sure all would be over at that moment and that I would be forced to watch my ship and crew destroyed."
Her eyes were locked on him, and she sat silent. She could see a slight glint of pain in his icy stare, and she found it both odd and endearing. It was quickly pulled back however when he met her gaze yet again.
"It was also brought to my attention that it is you I should thank for seeing that my sehlat, Fonn'es, received medical attention. I am...grateful to you as I am sure he is as well." He continued.
"I have a...furry companion myself. I would do the same for any animal." T'Pel shifted slightly.
Solok gave her a nod and blinked, "I am sure." He looked her over a moment before leaning back, "I believe that concludes what I wished to speak with you about. If you have no further questions or...statements, you may get back to work."
T'Pel stood and nodded, feeling the knot in her stomach untangled itself and she headed toward the door.
"One last thing..." Solok continued behind her, "As much as you believe the problem was your fault, you can not hold all the blame. This ship functions as a team. We are in a way...a family. The burden is shared by all, as it is everyone's duty to point out when there is an error." He looked up at her as she turned to face him, "Just as you did with me. We went along with your suggestions, we found no error to point out to you. The blame is ours...not yours alone. That is all."
T'Pel eyed him a moment before giving him an understanding nod and walking out. Solok turned to his computer, just as he was receiving a subspace message from Starfleet headquarters.
"Admiral Maximillion Burnley. This is unexpected." Solok said as a smiling face appeared on the screen.
"I figured you would say that, Captain. Still the same surly Vulcan I assume?" He said and gave a chuckle.
Solok cocked a brow, "Is there something you require, Admiral?" Solok responded.
The Admiral cleared his throat, "I have something for you and your crew. Figured I would brief you myself."
Solok cocked a brow and leaned back to listen. He was secretly hoping it would be to survey a transport ship or some such thing.. Something that was not all too strenuous.