Star Trek: Defiant

"The Season of Shadowlight" - Part Two

Written by Catrin Kadiya

The following morning, the teams were assigned, meeting in the main transporter room to beam down to the surface. Doctor Laine Rael looked around with a smile. So many people, eager to get off the ship and explore a new land. She was pleased with the current mission; her own people had needed aid from the Federation at one time. Though it had taken more years than anyone had foreseen, the aid had eventually helped.

Personally, she was anxious to have her feet on firm ground again. She would have preferred to set those feet upon Bajoran soil, but for the time being, Lencian soil would do. The nanites had swept the planet and had then abandoned it for richer targets. Lencia had been confirmed as nanite-free and that was a beginning.

Her eyes moved to the medical supplies which were stacked on the transporter pad, higher than she was tall. She took a final tally on her padd and nodded to Ry Emeras.

"Everything is in order. Energize."

Ry nodded, activating the transporter. The supplies, and the first away team, vanished in a shimmer. The second team replaced the first. When it was time for Laine's team to beam down, she took her place on the pad, medical case in hand. The Lenci people weren't suffering from anything extraordinary-- basic mal-nourishment according to the minister's reports--but Laine always went down prepared for anything. Many had died thanks to the nanites, and those who remained were scrapping for supplies after the devastation and panic that had swept through.

The room around her faded away and was replaced with the sights and sounds of a community trying to put itself to rights after an alien attack. The sun slanted down over the small settlement, falling to the colourful blankets that now served as roofs to homes that had been ripped apart and plundered in the confusion during the invasion.

Laine inhaled deeply and immediately sneezed.


Laine looked over at Commander Jen and smiled. "Just dust," she assured the security chief, waving a hand before her nose to disperse the dust. "Nothing hostile," she added with a widening grin. "Let's get to work."

* * *

Dust swirled into the marketplace air as a horse-drawn carriage swept past. Lieutenant Commander Takila Shuriik's eyes narrowed. *All right,* he thought. *Not a horse. Especially not with that spire protruding from its--*


Shuriik turned his attention to Lieutenant Tyrell, his grin lifting his mouth upward. "That's one word for it," he said.

The marketplace around them was primitive, yet the people there were not surprised by the sudden appearance of the away team. They knew of the technology involved, they simply chose not to employ it. They also didn't bother with the dilithium which riddled their world. They had no need. But now, the Federation and other worlds had need a plenty. Shuriik wondered if Lencia would become a major player in the years to come-- certainly they had a great deal to offer the Federation.

The buildings here were of pale stucco, some domed, most flat- roofed. Each had colourful awnings to provide shade, and a wide array of people bargaining for the best deals on what merchandise there was to be had.

"Fresh air," CWO Kadiya murmured, turning in a circle to see the entire market.

Shuriik smiled. On the ship, they'd learned to take some things for granted. Now, they had orders to observe and learn from the community around them. Not the most difficult assignment they'd ever had; Shuriik liked the simplicity.

They spent the afternoon wandering through the marketplace, marveling at the alien items for sale. Having been told it was a barter-oriented society, they'd come prepared with things to trade. Tyrell bartered with a small man, eventually trading a string of blue beads for a beautifully woven tunic. She wanted to tug it on over her uniform, but knew that wouldn't be in keeping with regulations.

Shuriik, Tyrell, and Kadiya ate a small meal as the sun began to slide down the sky, a selection of fresh fish presented on a bed of wild rices. Shuriik's eyes were restless during the meal, roaming over the people who entered and exited the small taverna. Always looking for trouble, he wondered if that was why he had found it so often in the past.

* * *

Lieutenant Alexa Joel crossed the bricked balcony to stand along its edge, her hands resting on the wide, sun-warmed marble ledge that ringed it. In the distance, across a wide, empty plain, the sun was setting. Brilliant shades of gold and orange streaked through the clouds which shimmered with blue and purple. Joel exhaled, letting the serenity of the place wrap around her. It wasn't often that a security officer found such peace on an away mission.

Their day had been full of diplomatic overtures. Serrin had spent his time with Minister Teca, negotiating deals behind sealed doors. During a brief afternoon break, they'd all had the opportunity to speak with Teca, learning about the world and culture--or what remained after the nanites had had their way.

When she heard a footfall behind her, Joel turned, looking at Commander Lebin. As he tapped his communicator and hailed the Defiant, Joel turned back to the sunset, watching as the orb slipped further behind the clouds. She tilted her head back, noting the first stars that were beginning to bleed through the indigo veil that was being draped over the sky.

"Go ahead, Commander," Bridges said through Lebin's comm badge.

"Sir, night is falling here. Did you wish to recall the away teams?" Lebin asked.

Joel closed her eyes, hoping they wouldn't be recalled so quickly. She wanted to enjoy the evening here.

"Affirmative," Bridges said. "We can return come morning; I'll expect a full report on your return."

"I took notes and got recipes," Lebin joked as he closed the connection.

Joel tried to stuff her disappointment down so no one else would notice, but when she turned to look at Commander Wolfrom, Joel could see she wasn't the only one not relishing the idea of leaving this peaceful place. Even if it were for only a few hours, Joel didn't want to go. But she would. It was in the job description.

Lebin began to contact each away team, instructing them to return to their transport coordinates and then the ship. Joel turned her attention back to the sunset; the gold was gone now, blue streaking into deep purple as the light continued to fade.

"I never tire of looking at it."

Joel looked to her left, finding Minister Teca standing there. The woman was short, but what she lacked in height, she made up for in a strong voice and eyes more determined than Joel could ever remember seeing. The woman's hair was as white as an Andorian's, but worn in long looping braids.

"It is beautiful," Joel said, looking back at the clouds.

"It must be difficult--to be on a ship so much. Closed off from all of this." Teca raised her hands, gesturing to the world around them.

"Sometimes it is," Joel said. "I've missed a lot of this-- the fresh air, the sunsets, the non-replicated food." She grinned.

Teca smiled widely. "Then maybe we know what we're doing without all that technology after all," she said.

"You may be onto something," Joel said softly.

Teca lifted her eyes to the vault of the sky, shaking her head. "I would not like to be up there," she whispered. "Too high."

Despite the warmth of the air, Joel shivered.

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