Star Trek: Defiant

"The Season of Shadowlight" - Part One

Written by Catrin Kadiya

Bare feet over sun-warmed stone. The figures moved in tandem, one the shadow, and then the other. Hands swung up and out, closing and opening with silent precision. Bodies shifted, legs bending and lifting, muscles and tendons extending, reaching beyond imposed limits. It was an ageless dance, deadly in its own way if need be.

Takila Shuriik pivoted clockwise on his left foot, drawing his right foot back against the left. He bent deeply at the knees, as he turned toward the east. Moving through the suki-uke, he lifted his right arm to block the kick from Catrin Kadiya. Her leg whispered past; no contact, only that implied. As she spun away, Shuriik rose and once again, they moved together, a tango without touch.

Shuriik was silently impressed with Kadiya. She had picked up the forms easily and he looked forward to their daily katas. He watched her bend her right leg, keeping the left extended. Her arms were like slow moving windmill flags above her, shadows falling lightly on the stone beneath their feet. He mimicked the motion, following her down and back up. They turned, and she was behind him, the lead transposed.

They worked through the motions soundlessly, bodies clad in loose- fitting gis. The sun came up slowly, their shadows short on the wind-smoothed stone beneath them. To the east, a calm morning ocean stretched, white-winged birds reeling in the cool air, working through their own forms.

As they came to the last of the motions, Shuriik and Kadiya returned to their starting positions. They bowed to one another and moved off of the stone, toward the reed hut which crouched a short distance away. Inside, they took their fill of water and sweet rice, warmed rocks in a grate taking the slight chill from the shaded space.

Meal finished they crossed the stubby grass that led down to the ocean's edge. The rush and suck of the ocean was the only sound, foam bubbling on the pale swath of sand. There was a small pagoda here, and Shuriik brushed his hand along the side of it. The holodeck door was revealed. With a typed command at the panel, he ended the program. It vanished around them, leaving them faced with an empty room. In the corridor, Shuriik and Kadiya bowed to one another again and parted ways. No word spoken, no word needed.

* * *

His legs were dead.

Captain Jeffrey Bridges stared down at them, trying to will some life into the unmoving limbs. Clad in the black trousers of his uniform, they looked as normal as ever. But appearances could be deceiving.

"Move, damn you. That's an order."

His legs disobeyed.

Bridges looked to his left, out the long window that ran along the back wall of his ready room. The stars hung there, silent, offering no answers for the questions that ran through his mind. He brushed a hand over his thigh. Nothing.

He turned his hover-chair toward the windows, but as he caught sight of himself, he turned away. No sense in looking at such a disagreeable reflection, he thought.

His communicator chirped. "Lebin to Bridges."

Bridges raised his hand, but didn't immediately tap the small device. A short while ago, it would have been Hardin paging him; a short while ago, he would have dashed from his ready room on legs wholly cooperable to see what needed his attention. Gods, did this ship devour first officers, or what? He thought with a groan, remembering Kliemann's own departure a few months prior.

His hand fell to the metal, ears barely registering the slight chirp. "Bridges here."

"Sir, you have an incoming message from Lencia's Minister Teca."

Bridges maneuvered his chair back over to his desk. "Pipe it through, Commander," he said at last.

"Aye, sir."

The screen flickered, text scrolling along the blackness telling him there was a message. When the minister's face appeared, Bridges drew in a breath. The woman looked tired, and he was quite sure she had every reason in the world to look that way. Her world had been devastated by the nanites; less than two percent of her population remained. It couldn't be easy, Bridges thought, to see such a thing happen. He pushed the thoughts away before his mind could drift to Earth.

"Minister," he said.

She nodded, the thick white rope of her hair sliding over her shoulder with the motion. She was wrapped in a colourful robe, and she managed a smile despite the sorrowful situation in which she found herself.

Bridges began laying out the relief plan they'd developed, and the minister listened with the patience of a stone. As Bridges ran through the plan, he realized what a remarkable opportunity this was going to be. The Lenci had had little contact with the Federation prior to this--roughly a century ago, they had refused to speak with the Federation at all, preferring to remain a neutral world in the scheme of things. Now, with this call of help, it was hoped that the people would be more welcoming to the Federation. Lencia was in a good location, Bridges knew, and it would be an asset to the Federation. If they could establish a base of operations there, it would be an asset to the entire sector. Lencia was also rich in pure dilithium; re-crystalized dilithium was easy to come by nowadays, but the pure stuff was a find indeed.

When the connection was closed, Bridges tapped his computer off and closed his eyes. The darkness was a comfort. As it often did, his mind wandered to Rael. Thinking of her put a smile on his face. She would be busy tomorrow, as would they all be, but he hoped she had tonight free. No emergencies, just some time alone together.

Opening his eyes, they settled on the model of the Defiant, which rested across the room on a sideboard table. She looked so small there. He wondered if he kept the model as a reminder--that there were things larger in this universe than the Defiant and her crew.

Shaking the disturbing thoughts away, Bridges headed toward the door. There were away teams to finalize, medical supplies to approve, things to take his mind from the fact that his legs had disobeyed a direct order yet again.

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