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Archive for December, 2010

I could see the protest in Johnnie’s eyes before the shimmer of the transporter beam consumed them.  Within a moment, we were on the bridge, the sounds of the birds and the breeze and the creaking of the wood buildings replaced by the everpresent-rumble of starship engines and the pings and beeps of equipment.

For their part, Vala’s own eyes widened when she saw me.

Johnnie turned to her.  “He needs to get to sickbay.”

“I’ll be down in a moment, doctor.”  I half stumbled to the captain’s chair and eased myself down.  “Damage report,” I said to no one in particular.

A voice behind me—I couldn’t place it, possibly because of the drugs streaming through my bloodstream—said, “Long range sensors are back online but warp drive it still out, sir.  All other major systems are operational.”

Vala glanced back—she had taken her usual position at the conn.  “We’ve been updating Starfleet on events, sir.  They say help is on the way, if we can hold out.”

“Raise shields and tell Starfleet we’re engaging the Undine.”

For the next quarter hour, we danced around the Undine ship, trading shots.  Vala teased every last bit of performance out of the Ardent.  Still, we were no match.  We lost out photon launcher a few minutes in.  Shortly after, our primary targeting system went offline, and Vala had to switch to manual control.  Our shields hovered on the verge of collapse.

I barely heard Vala shout “They’re here” over the claxons and alarms.  Suddenly, the limb of a saucer eclipsed the Undine ship on the viewscreen, shield’s flickering wildly at its edges as it took a shot meant for us.

The small fleet that had warped to our rescue managed to get the better of the Undine quickly, or at least it seemed so to me as I sagged in the Ardent’s captain’s chair.  Shortly after we moved away from the battle, there was an enormous flash.

“We’re being hailed by the USS Kirk, captain.”

I told Vala to put it onscreen.  It took a moment before I placed the face I saw.  “Thank you for the help, Captain Thelin.”

The Andorian smiled.  “Thank you, Captain O’Kennedy.  I’ve owed you one since you helped save the Khitomer.  I’m glad I could repay the favor.”  Thelin had been an engineering officer aboard the USS Khitomer at Vega when the Borg attacked.  I’d met him there.

I saw Thelin glance down and his expression become more serious.  “You look as bad as your ship.”

“So they tell me.”  And then everything went dark.

The next thing I recall is the ceiling of sickbay.  It was, I was willing to wager and still am, a sight I’d likely see more than a few times in the years ahead.  I tried to sit up and a bolt shot through my chest.  I collapsed back onto the bed with a grunt.

Johhnie appeared above me.  “And stay down,” she said.  Some of the lightness was back in her voice.

I looked down at myself and saw a series of small, blinking devices attached to a thin pad laid at an angle on my chest. 

Johnnie anticipated my next question.  “Apparently, you don’t pull cures for an Undine-inflicted wound off the shelf.  This is the best that Starfleet medical and Saisei could come up with.”

“Saisei?”   It hurt slightly to talk and I began to notice what felt like a low-grade fever.

She nodded.  “The only way to take care of the Undine cells that were spreading inside you was with modified nanoprobes.  Way outside my area, but they look like they’re working.”

“Inside?”

“Yes, captain.  You’ve got a small army of nanoprobes inside you.  But not for too much longer.  They’ve been programmed to self-terminate when the job’s done and, from what I can tell, that’s already started to happen.”  Her lopsided grin grew.  “You’ll urinate bright orange for a few days.  Aside from that, you’ll be fine.”  I couldn’t tell if she was joking about that.  I found out later she wasn’t.

She placed a hand on my arm.  “I’ve got some work to do, but if you need anything, just let me know.  I’ll be right over here.”

I nodded.

She started to move away, then stopped.  “You know, you almost died.  You do anything that stupid again, and I’ll finish the job.”  This time I knew she wasn’t joking.

“Yes, sir,” I croaked, doing my best to imitate a smile.

I saw a lot of that ceiling and of Johnnie and the rest of the medical staff for the next few days.  Out of sheer boredom, I began to play with a bit of verse.  For posterity’s sake, I’m recording my latest creation here:

P’Jem was not what we thought
All our hopes for tranquility shot
By Klingons galore
And an Undine, we swore
So beware of a Vulcan who’s not

All I can say—and this is from first-hand experience, now—better advice was never given.

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Sokketh was standing at the bottom of the steps.  Gone was any shred of Vulcan dispassion.  Instead, he sneered openly.  I readjusted the phaser rifle in my arms.  “Well, well, ambassador.  Funny meeting you here.”

“I do not see how you can exist in this fragile form.”  He looked down at himself in disgust, then looked up at me with the same expression on his face.  I thought I recognized it.

“Now, what is it you hoped to accomplish here?  Or were you just out to do some sightseeing?”  My finger slid toward the trigger.

“I doubt you could understand.  Rest assured that nothing you have done affects out plans in any way.”  I blinked several times as he spoke—his outline seemed to be wavering, as if he were underwater.  As he spoke, I swore he grew an inch or two, his head elongating and flaring out, his limbs snaking obscenely out of his clothes, turning grey and bony.  I forced myself to watch as his face as it shrank, his twisted sneer disappearing at the point of a bulbous triangular head.  He—or it reared up on the third leg that had reached the ground behind it, reaching up with skeletal fingers to rip away the robes that hung off its bladelike shoulders. 

As it changed, I’d nodded to Shu.  One of his men leapt off the temple’s porch one side, rolling and coming up with their weapons trained on what obviously was an Undine.  The other made the same manoeuvre in the opposite direction.

Paying no attention to either, what had been Ambassador Sokketh rushed directly at me and Shu.  I won’t try to describe that sight, that creature lunging toward me with its unnatural three-legged gait.  I’m ashamed to say that I froze for an instant, and that was enough for it to lope nearly all the way up the steps.  It was also enough time for Shu to step in front of me, his rifle up and firing.  I saw the flashes as two additional phasers struck it from either side.

The thing seemed not to notice.  It swept Shu away with the back of its hand.  He landed hard on the ground, but was up within an instant, firing again.

I raised my own rifle, but the thing ripped it out of my hands and flung it away.  And then something I never expected—evidence that I’d learned something at the Academy.  My hand-to-hand combat training took over and I aimed a low kick at one of its front knees.  It reacted to that, off kilter for a moment, more I think because I caught it off guard than because I did any real damage.

In reply, the thing slashed down with its fingers.  I felt an explosion of hot pain in my chest, cutting through me.  My sight blurred and I dropped down to my knees. 

The next few minutes were a blur.  The pain of my wound became a dull throb, though I still struggled hard to breath.  Forms moved into and out of my field of vision.  I heard the screech of phaser rifles and Corporal Shu shouting something.  Above everything else was the wind in the trees and the sunlight playing off the leaves.

Everything snapped back into focus and I saw Johhnie kneeling beside me, withdrawing a hypospray from my neck.  “What…?”

Johnnie loaded the hypospray with another shot and pressed it to my neck again.  “You’ve been hurt.”  Her voice was flat.

“Well, I think I’ve figured that out…”

Shu’s face, smudged with dirt, appeared in my visual field.  “It’s gone, sir.  It beamed away to somewhere.”

I nodded, trying not to grimace.  With the increased clarity, the pain in my chest had begun to intensify.  “Thank you, Corporal.”

Johnnie frowned as she waved a medical scanner downward from my left shoulder.  “You need to get back to the ship.  Now.”

Ardent to Captain O’Kennedy.”  Vala’s voice sounded very far away.

I did my best to smile at Johhnie.  “When it rains it pours.  Go ahead.”

“We detected a transporter beam, sir.”

“It was our guest, Vala.  He beamed somewhere.  Are there any other ships nearby?”   Johhnie gave me yet another shot, and the building pain subsided almost immediately.

“No…wait.  Yes, sir.  It’s…it looks to be an Undine ship.  It must have beamed the ambassador away.  It’s closing on our position.  We need to get you all up here before we raise our shields.”

I put a hand on the stone beneath me and tried to push myself up.  Shu was there in an instant, ducking under my arm and helping me to stand.  “Beam us directly to the bridge.”

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