What the Saints Forgot
A Fanfiction by Heist
Much credit goes to Imogen Heap and the track "You Know Where to Find Me," which serves as the unofficial theme to this tale, which may be accessed commercial- and ad-free through Soundcloud: soundcloud dotcom /imogenheap/ you-know-where-to-find-me
Author notes at the end.
Clark's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Of course he knew.
He knew time, its wend and weft and causal threads as well as any one might be acquainted with the body of a long-cherished lover; of any being that he had encountered, he had not yet (but would, he knew that too) come to meet another so perfectly, terribly attuned.
So too he knew that no part of the temporal accord was enough to guard against the atrocities of accident. No amount of course correction, whether by outside agency or the weak attempts of the universe itself could resolve the simple fact that ten-thousand minds alone were not enough to safeguard her future. She had lived, been born in the best possible of all realities, and he knew at the instant of a whole world's extinction precisely what had changed.
Call his action selfish, and perhaps one might be justified in doing so, but was it not more selfish to make use of the work left behind by his world's first inhabitants for the purpose of a game? (Call him selfish, call him capricious, call him anything but unaware.)
The Underground was his kingdom, and its uninvoked keys demanded use.
It was a simple thing, so simple, to wake the slumbering Guardian and act.
He knew from the beginning, he had always known, but it could not be said that he knew what it would take from him.
From the Journal of T'Peren
...and at latest count, we have recovered an additional seventeen-thousand inhabitants from the city of Volekh, of province Raal, among these numbering my husband and sons. I am pleased by this information, inordinately so, though I am not insensible that such emotionalism is common among the survivors. We have lost much: our world, our High Council, the katric ark of our civilization, and so many of our people as to overwhelm our remaining healers with patients of neurophysiological shock.
And yet. We are, as the humans might say, nearly impossibly lucky. Our surviving populace numbers over four billion, that we have discovered thus far, and our host on this remarkably suitable world assures that this number may yet increase. It has been difficult, to ascertain precisely how many are still extant without our equipment and technology, but the task is not insurmountable.
To that end, we have been permitted to begin rebuilding our civilization to suit our needs, with no requirement or obligation on our part to our host, and initial scouting for sites upon which we may begin construction has yielded much potential. This world has been inhabited on a large scale before, by at least three civilizations, so far as our scouts and archaeological teams have ascertained; the most recent of these survives in the race which calls themselves gob'lin.
Further exploration shall be reported on as progress occurs.
The presses have dubbed it 'The Battle of Earth,' and the crew of the Enterprise its finest heroes.
Ensign Sarah Williams dubs it the headache to end all headaches, because what doesn't make the press beyond quiet somber casualty lists are how many of those so-called heroes are going to be names etched on medals sent home in little black boxes to grieving family members. Engineering is all but wiped out and Medical about gives up and calls it in before the relief crew transfer from the Dauntless, which does not include anyone to do the four jobs Sarah inherited due to her undergrad in Sociology and the command gold of her jersey uniform.
She had been the assistant to the Admin Ops officer, and what was only ever supposed to be a temporary position to pad out her resume before she transferred over to the Diplomatic Corps has turned into three full-time jobs. That's enough, all right, but Derricks died in that first furious battle over Vulcan and Baughman in Logistics got pulled for his Engineering courses and then Deena and Alexander got grabbed by Medical, and Sarah should absolutely be dead, too, nobody should have to stare down hard vaccum, but there's no time to process what's going to be one hell of a post-traumatic break when she can't even find the time to sleep.
There are more casualty lists to compile, executive orders to draft, repair orders to log, catatonic Vulcans to pass blindly in the hallway on the way to the mess to slug down more tarry replicator-programmed coffee. So much to do, so much, so of course that is when Jareth chooses to reappear in her quarters, looking just as exhausted as she feels and half-again so wrecked.
There was a time, in her childhood, when she believed in magic. It's hard to believe that time was only twelve years ago, that she can be only twenty-seven and feel ancient. Watching a world die can do that, she supposes, and puts an unresisting Jareth to bed in her bunk.
The next thing on her agenda will be speaking with the survivors of Vulcan, because once the lists of the dead are complete, an accounting of the living must follow. There's an article on her PADD by Dr. S. Pevensie, something about trauma narratives and cooperative xenopsychology from the early twenty-second century, so she sets up shop under a low-lit lamp with her cold sludgy coffee and reads while Jareth's drawn face slackens in sleep.
She doesn't know what about her world exhausts him so, or why he so stubbornly keeps coming back to it. They're not enemies, that adversarial clash a decade resolved, but neither can she say they're properly friends. If her theories hold, if magic isn't a thing that actually exists, she's not sure his people even have a concept of friendship. (He understands loneliness, she thinks, surely that, at least.)
Regardless, Sarah shouldn't be alive, and she believes in returning favors. She drinks her coffee. Jareth rests, and when he frowns and shifts away from the light...
Sarah puts her PADD down and presses the heels of her hands to her eyes. The headache's getting worse. She should never have told him about her comparative literature class. At the time, he'd found it delightful, but she wouldn't have to pretend to herself she doesn't understand the words he speaks from his sleep.
I wish I could, she thinks, and picks up the article again. The world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
From the Journal of T'Peren
Our astronomers have confirmed that we are still in the Alpha Quadrant, close to the Omicron Delta region. Our host lacks interest in this information and has illogically few feelings on the topic of interstellar travel. He has provided no information as to how he aided in the rescue of nearly the whole Vulcan civilization, and seems disinclined to do so at any point in the future.
My fellow scientists have postulated a few theories on the matter, particularly since the archaeological team returned from the southern caves. Attempts at dating place the glyphs and artifacts found therein to the second phase of civilization on this world, which is roughly contemporaneous to the Sundering.
We are at work deciphering the language, which appears akin to Ancient Vulcan but for several significant morphological differences, particularly pertaining to pulmonic consonants. The writers appear to have entirely lacked word-initial fricatives and velar stops, if we are translating the glyphs correctly, and seem to have substituted a quantity of plosives and affricates in their places. This seems to be the result of accommodation for an influx of new speakers who called themselves the El'orrien; this action apparently permanently altered the landscape of the language. It will be intriguing to pursue this topic and race further, once we have technology sufficient to regain contact with the Federation and the Vulcan survivors who were offworld at the time of the attack.
...In era-appropriate Vulcan translation, the name of this world is Shahr'n. The historians believe this may be a reference to ShiKahr and the Forge, the ship which left Vulcan during the Sundering.
Privately, this confirms a theory I have personally carried, that our host carries some aspect of Vulcanoid heritage. If he is a particularly long-lived specimen of this world's second phase of civilization, much might be accounted for in his interest to see the survival of the Vulcan species, for our survival must in some capacity allow for his.
It is difficult to believe Jar'eth has acted to preserve us entirely from a motivated sense of altruism.
This is a true story.
Everything that can happen does happen in equal and parallel universes.
In the latter twenty-first century, four children are sent to the countryside, safely away from a city which, soon after, will be decimated by bombs of horrendous destructive potential. But by that time, they won't be in the countryside anymore, they will have stepped through a doorway into another reality entirely, and there they will encounter a being known as Jadis.
Before this, an age upon an age upon an age before, Jadis will live on a world named Charn, but called something else, the last of her kind after she rediscovers a terrible weapon left there by those who came an age upon an age upon an age before, a weapon which she uses to destroy all life save for herself. She will find this a relief, for the noise before is the cacophony of millions of lives, all feeling too strongly and too loudly; and a curse too, for the stillness and silence is also a kind of hell.
After this, after she escapes from that husk of a world, she will take another and declare herself queen of a world named one thing, but called something else (oh, lands under lands, if the Progenitors could see it now), and a thousand years will watch her rise.
Everything that can happen does happen in equal and parallel universes.
In the latter twenty-first century, four children are sent to the countryside. Of them, only one rides back, and in her eyes she carries the war this reality does not see, because:
In this reality, naming conventions differ between sons and daughters, a stop becomes an approximate, a fricative becomes an affricate; this reality sees a son born in a daughter's place, and instead of leaving the world after accidentally rediscovering the terrible weapon left there by those who came an age upon an age upon an age before, he changes the rules.
(Undercity, Underland, Underground, oh, if the Progenitors could see it now.)
The noise now is the cacophony of thousands of voices, rescued from a dying world, thousands of simple voices, simple feelings, lifting only simple voices without the strength to lift simple minds, and so he does not go mad on a world that now shifts and changes with a thought, answers to the imagination of any being without the discipline to keep its own mind contained.
The most ancient power in the universe is keyed to a crystal, which unlocks a puzzle made to surround and contain the most terrifying weapon imaginable, to keep it at rest, to keep it asleep, and now he has gone and woken it up.
(This was supposed to be the best of all possible realities. He has seen the others, he knows:)
Everything that can happen does happen in equal and parallel universes.
The weeks scroll by, and the Enterprise rebuilds. Slowly, new crew members arrive to peel back the layers of overwork and fill out empty posts, positions are redistributed, and Sarah sees her position and pay grade increase, with a commendation and a medal to follow at any time. Now she's the one with the assistant, and the Diplomatic Corps would actually be a step down from the pretty position in which she finds herself.
There's time for sleep, and regular meals. The quality of the coffee shoots up dramatically too, once the Enterprise is getting regular supplies and doesn't need to keep the replicators on a power-saving mode. In spite of that, the cluster headaches continue, and finally get to the point that necessitates a visit to the infirmary.
Sarah is so pleased to learn (and Dr. McCoy is so pleased to diagnose) that there is no rational physical basis for her continuing migraines, aside from stress, so he sends her on her way with an extended-release hypo for pain, and orders to drink more water and to try to get more than five hours of sleep a night.
She's back inside of a week, this time vomiting, paired with panic attacks, and McCoy hooks her up to a variety of machines and scanners, which spit back the interesting result of a hyperactive hypothalamus and frontal lobe, paired with accelerated adrenal function. That turns into series of swears about green-blooded... ahems, and a referral to the Betazoid specialist who came on board to help with the influx of devastated telepaths whose unprocessed emotions were causing organ failure in themselves and all the innocent bystanders around them.
"It's empathic overflow," the Betazoid explains. "Your imzadi—"
"My, I'm sorry, what?"
He takes pause. "Your... Your one, your first among others?" Sarah stares on in incomprehension as the Betazoid fumbles. "The one who is closest to your soul?" Suspicion twigs for a moment, but no, Sarah can't say as she really has anyone fitting that description, until in frustration he asks, "Does he call you t'hy'la, then?"
That word, Sarah knows, and even as she thinks he wouldn't dare, she knows very well that he would, and it would never occur to him to inform her or ask permission. She thinks of the nightmares of feeling suffocated, of calm impassive faces, of shutting away clawing anguish that is not hers (or his), of exhaustion and green-tinged bruises.
"What's wrong with him?"
From the Journal of T'Peren
... who have been permitted close enough to evaluate his health have determined the cause of Jar'eth's unusual illness to be acute iron poisoning, compounded with hemolysis. He will not permit any mindhealers to examine him, but on the basis of his symptoms and increasingly erratic behavior, it is suggested he is also in at least the early stages of multifocal psychometric neuropathy. Successful treatment for either condition is predicated upon having the equipment and resources, of which we possess neither.
Puzzling, however, is the question of how Jar'eth came to find so lethal a quantity of iron, because our surveyors and improvised instrumentation have not yet detected any on this world. Even making the potentially flawed assumption that his physiology is sufficiently different from ours as to be actively damaged by the mere presence of iron, we simply cannot account for how that came to be.
However. We have discovered, below the gob'lin city, the still-functioning technological remnants of the first civilization to occupy this world, and we have made significant inroads toward activating what we believe to be the central communications array. The merciful gods willing, we are days away from restoring contact with the Federation. If Jar'eth's condition remains stable, poor though it is, we may yet be able to save him.
A debt is owed. We cannot fail to repay it.
The Vulcans believed they were trying to save him.
Jareth thought he might well die from the irony.
He knew their theories. How could he not? His ancestors had called themselves listeners for good reason; combined with Vulcan's myriad mental gifts, there was very little he did not hear. He'd forgotten, in the intervening centuries, how perfect a hell such a gift could be.
It was impossible to hear, think, breathe, for the press of billions of terrified minds screaming out from uncertainty, all yet still so smug in the surety that so long as those feelings were not betrayed by word nor look nor deed that none could be the wiser. They could rebuild, balance their race on the illusion of self-control, console themselves that their children at least would not be disturbed by their losses.
Jareth waited in the highest tower of the castle at the city's center and studied the dance of the stars while a civilization shivered around him in the dark. He rolled a crystal in his palm and did not think about how the physicians and healers were not wholly wrong in their guesses. Their understanding was incomplete, of course, result preceding cause preceding inevitable result, but.
It was a measure of pathetic desperation that he'd fled the thronging howl and his own exhaustion and sought rest in a place where every breath was recycled poison. Steel was iron wrought finer, and he had made his bed in a cage of it just to be near enough to hear her again.
Everything I've done I've done for you, he thought. Never truer words spoken, and never would they fail to cost him everything, again and again unto perpetuity.
The Vulcans required steel for the tools they needed to reshape his world into the newborn image of theirs, and the very planet itself sought to provide, as was the nature of its technology. He wondered when that, too, would be too much to overwhelm him.
Jareth pressed his palm into the tender spreading bruise at his side and hissed, long and low. Iron toxicity affected his kind as it might affect humans, spreading from the kidneys to the liver to brain and lungs before inevitable coma and death. He wondered when the Labyrinth he'd constructed to contain the weapon at its heart would fail without his guidance to hold it fast.
It hardly mattered. The Vulcans lacked the whimsy and creative soul necessary for such a thing to continue to be. He was one life against legion. The planet wouldn't hear him first indefinitely.
It would be interesting to see how his world ended in the name of preserving hers.
He took up the crystal again and rolled it between his gloved hands, and nearly dropped it when it hummed an all-too-familiar tune. (Call him sentimental, call him curious, call him anything at all, but when she called, Jareth did not fail to listen.)
Oh? "Then say your right words," he replied.
"Come away, O Vulcan child."
Close, he thought, but from her, close enough would do.
End Notes: This was written for the Winter 2012-2013 Labyrinth Exchange over on Livejournal, for the ever-incandescant Lady Rhiyana, who still has a presence here on FF. Obviously, huge props to anyone who gets even half of what was going on in this fic, because... well. First foray back into fic in a number of years apparently = THE MOST HIGH-CONTEXT REFERENTIAL THING EVER. So, for everyone who didn't do embarrassing amounts of homework for this thing, I present: THE ANNOTATIONS.
Huge credit goes to Memory Alpha, Memory Beta, as well as to Wikipedia; any and all errors are obviously due to community editors providing me with bad information. Or blatant completely-making-things-up.
the temporal accord: ST reference, covers all series and movies, and involves the fact that there's actually enough time travel going crazy all over the place that some centuries on there's a temporal cold war going on, with all sides jumping through the timestream like skipping rocks on a pond, trying to keep each other from changing anything. Kirk started it, and Starfleet created multiple departments as a result just to minimize the damage, which raises interesting questions about nuTrek, actually.
to wake the slumbering Guardian: ST:TOS and other canon reference, the Guardian of Forever. Because canon establishes there are more than one, and also because in a universe wherein magic is not a thing, how pray tell idoes/i one time travel?
There's an article on her PADD by Dr. S. Pevensie: Why yes, THAT Pevensie, the one who didn't go back to Narnia for the Last Battle.
The world's more full of weeping than you can understand:Direct quote from W.B Yeats' appropriately named The Stolen Child. Why yes, this not-conversation is extremely meta. Not to mention, this is also an attempt to be referential to a fic Lady_Rhiyana submitted to the exchange a few years back, the first to combine Labyrinth and Trek, and aside from being EXTREMELY EXCELLENT one really must honor what has come before. Thank you for breaking ground here, dahling.
still in the Alpha Quadrant, close to the Omicron Delta region: ST:TOS reference, the Shore Leave Planet. Whether you want this planet to be the same, or just created by the same people, that's up to you. The jury was honestly out for me.
the Sundering: ST reference, licensed-works name for that gnarly time when the Vulcans and the Romulans split and the Romulans said 'peace out, bizzatches,' only not.
particularly pertaining to pulmonic consonants: I was totally showing off my linguistics classes, this is International Phonetic Alphabet. Basically, these peeps couldn't pronounce the letter 's' and a few other things originally, so, they had a really interesting lisp.
El'orrien: ST:TNG and various movies, El-Auriens, because I decided Ancient Vulcan had a phonetic alphabet. The race of Guinan and Dr. Tollan Soren from Generations, they called themselves a race of listeners, and going by Guinan's example they are extraordinarily aware of temporal-spatial shifts and other interesting phenomenon.
ShiKahr and the Forge: ST reference, licensed-works info about Vulcan. Syllabic laxing might account for a lot, and I'm pretty damn sure the pre-Romulans didn't use the English word 'forge' for a ship name.
four children are sent to the countryside: NARNIA
a world named Charn, but called something else: Narnia reference, but wait for it...
she rediscovers a terrible weapon: Narnia reference, see THE DEPLORABLE WORD. (It's my world, I do what I want, so, deplorable keyword to the weapon of mass destruction?)
Everything that can happen does happen in equal and parallel universes: nuTrek, circa 2009, in case you were wondering where you'd heard it before.
if the Progenitors could see it now: ST reference for... well. The whole canon, really. Basically the Progenitors are the Preservers are the grand originator of allllllllll the humanoid lifeforms spanning the universe, and occasionally one pops up out of the woodwork to make a nature preserve of a species it thinks is particularly endangered. (My theorem that I never worked in was that a Progenitor got hold of a pre-Romulan ship on the verge of destruction and filed them away on a nice, safe-ish world. Same with the El-Aurians.)
a stop becomes an approximate: Okay, seriously now, Jareth and Jadis are, linguistically speaking, precisely one and a half consonants away from being a minimal pair, I couldn't just let that one slide.
Undercity, Underland, Underground: Ba-dun-chun! In this order, ST reference, Narnia reference, Labyrinth proper. Can you blame me, honestly?
imzadi: ST:TNG reference, basically the Betazed equivalent of telepathic brain-buddy big-time emotional mover-and-shaker, not quite the level of soulmate, but pretty well up there.
t'hy'la: ST reference, licensed works, is some rad combo of brother/friend/lover, originally used by Spock in reference to Kirk. Ahem.
"Come away, O Vulcan child": W.B. Yeats redux, the conclusion of the poetic conversation.