Star Trek: Defiant
"The Season of Shadowlight" - Part Three
Written by Catrin Kadiya
Shuriik looked at Tyrell and Kadiya, nodding. They'd all heard the commander's orders. They were to return to the beam down site and leave the planet.
Kadiya was pleased to be leaving; while nothing had gone amiss during the day, she felt as though something weren't quite right. Nothing had changed that she could see, but for some reason, the planet felt different to her now that night was falling.
Tyrell left three stands of beads for the restaurant owners as they left. Kadiya didn't know where she'd gotten so many beads, but she was thankful Tyrell had them. After being on a starship for so long, it was easy to become used to the replicators which didn't require credits or beads or any other kind of currency. The owners thanked Tyrell and handed her three small flowers. Tyrell handed one to Kadiya and the other to Shuriik, keeping the third for herself.
As they mounted the small ridge that led to the main market, they stood for a moment looking down into the slight valley. The marketplace was alight with candles and fires, pushing the encroaching shadows back. Full darkness never quite fell, Kadiya noted. It was an odd half-light that descended, the shadows almost looking alive. They seemed to almost be recoiling from the fires--but that was ridiculous, wasn't it? The shadows had a fluidity she admired, yet she was wary of it. They seemed to move in forms half-familiar to her--like a kata, a deadly, silent dance.
As the group continued down the small hill, Kadiya's hand came to rest on her phaser. She wished she had her sword; the phaser was certainly an adequate weapon, but she preferred the solid feel of her blade. Her thumb stroked the hand grip of the phaser, wishing it was the hilt of her sword. With a sword, one met the threat head-on, rather than many paces away as with a phaser. She preferred handling her dangers head-on.
As it was this time, she never saw or heard the danger.
"He's gone!" Tyrell cried.
Kadiya turned at Tyrell's alarmed cry, phaser drawn. Her eyes scanned over the Betazoid and then-- Nothing. Takila Shuriik was gone, the pale yellow flower he'd been carrying resting in his bootprint.
"What do you mean, gone?" Lebin's disembodied voice chirped from Tyrell's communicator.
"Commander, Lieutenant Commander Shuriik is no longer with our party," Lieutenant Tyrell said again, wondering how many different ways she could say it. "One moment, he was walking with us to the transport site and the next thing I knew, he was gone." She looked around the area, shaking her head.
Kadiya looked down at the flower she'd picked up, twirling the stem between her fingers. It released a pleasant smell, sweet with a hint of spice. It was just like her own, and Tyrell's. There was nothing special about it. She frowned, wondering where Shuriik had vanished to. It didn't make sense. The ground was whole, undisturbed.
"I was-- I was listening to our boots," Tyrell continued to Lebin. "The sound over the ground was pleasing after having walked on carpet for so long. The sound changed and when I looked, Shuriik was just gone."
"Did you sense anything? *Are* you sensing anything?" Lebin asked.
"Nothing," Tyrell said, her voice heavy with dismay.
"Kadiya?" Lebin asked.
"I didn't see anything, sir," Kadiya said. "I was walking ahead of the ensign and commander. Ensign Tyrell suddenly called out that the commander was gone and when I turned, there was no sign of him." She looked at Tyrell, watching the Betazoid walk in a slow circle. Was she trying to sense Shuriik? Kadiya shifted from one foot to the other; before her time at Area 51, telepathic and empathic abilities hadn't bothered her. Now, the mere idea unnerved her. But if it was a way to look for Shuriik... Tyrell looked at Kadiya and shook her head. Kadiya sighed. So, she had been trying. And she'd come up empty.
"People don't just disappear," Lebin said. "Remain where you are; we'll join you shortly. Lebin out."
Tyrell closed the channel, looking around. "Scan the area for life signs," Tyrell said, as if just realizing that she was in command of this party of two. "Novachron signs other than your own."
Kadiya nodded, opening her tricorder to scan. She could see Shuriik's footprints in the dirt, the last steps he'd taken. The dirt was not disturbed beyond that, showing no scuffle. Nothing looked out of place. According to Lebin, people didn't just disappear, but in this case, Shuriik had. Kadiya frowned and continued to scan, wishing she had her sword.
Doctor Laine pulled the worn sheet over the body of the man before her, straightening with a sigh. Another one gone. She had been able to ease his pain and give his wife a few more minutes with him, but little else. She closed her tricorder and slipped it away, her eyes roaming over the other people that filled the room. There was so much hurt and she could do so little to ease it. It was frustrating to say the least.
Her communicator chirped. "Lebin to Laine."
Laine's fingers brushed over the metal as she moved away from the cot. "Laine here."
"Doctor, we're in the middle of recalling the away teams for the night. I'd like you to send your med techs back to the ship, but I need your assistance in another matter before you return."
Laine frowned, hearing the concern in Lebin's voice. Her eyes drifted to the single window of the building, surprised that the day has passed. It had gone so quickly. As her body registered the time shift, her stomach growled. She hadn't paused in her work to eat. "What is it?" she asked.
"Commander Shuriik has vanished; I'd like to have you on hand should he require a doctor."
Laine nodded, gesturing for her medical team to come to her. She frowned at the thought that Shuriik had "vanished." Laine didn't like the word. "Understood, Commander. I'll be right there." She doubted that the Novachron would need a doctor--doubted and hoped, both.
Laine closed the connection on her end, relaying the information to the other medical officers.
"No transporter signatures, no nothing," Kadiya muttered, snapping her tricorder shut. How could someone disappear in the blink of an eye?
"There is nothing here," Tyrell said. "He's simply gone."
Kadiya looked around them--other than the marketplace, the plain was wide open. Shuriik was nowhere to be seen and she doubted that he was playing hide and seek in the market. They hadn't picked up any Novachron life signs other than her own--it was as though he'd been plucked from the planet's surface and carried away. Kadiya looked up at the sky, somehow doubting that that had happened.
The whine of a transporter soon filled the air and Kadiya looked with relief to Lebin, Joel, Wolfrom, Laine, and Jen. Perhaps they would be able to explain it.
"Still no sign of Shuriik?" Lebin asked, crossing to the Novachron. His eyes were dark and he looked angry, as if upset that this had happened on an away team under his command.
Kadiya shook her head. "Nothing."
Lebin looked to the team around him. "Let's fan out and scan the area. Report anything out of the ordinary."
"Sir," Tyrell said, "we've scanned this area in every known way and we haven't turned anything up. What makes you think you will?"
"I don't know that we will," Lebin said, "but we have to try." He looked at the others who hadn't moved, as though they had asked the same question of him. "You have your orders," he said firmly.
The team spread out, each with a tricorder in hand, each scanning. Kadiya opened her tricorder again, working through the same scans she'd run a few moments ago. There was still no sign of Shuriik. For kicks, she scanned the other away team members, just to make certain her tricorder was working. The six scans came back clean.
"Six," Kadiya muttered, reading from the screen. "Jen, Tyrell, Lebin, Joel, Wolfrom, me. Where the hell is Rael?" She looked up from the tricorder, finding no sign of the doctor. "Commander," she said to Lebin. "We've got a problem."
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