Star Trek: Defiant

"The Season of Shadowlight" - Part Five

Written by Catrin Kadiya

Bridges, Lebin, and Kadiya sat on Minister Teca's balcony, wrapped in the murky light that was night here. The other officers had been sent back to the Defiant, assigned to scan for Shuriik and Laine's comm signals from the ship. Truth be told, Bridges wanted them back on the ship so their names weren't added to the list of missing.

Minister Teca joined the group, carrying a wide silver tray. She poured the Lenci equivalent of tea and Bridges sipped at the brew. It was strong and he set the cup down, adding a liberal dash of the sweetener Teca had provided.

"One more thing," Teca said, slipping back into the house.

Kadiya looked at the captain and first officer. They sat across the table from her, looking as uneasy as she felt. She had been invited to stay planetside, because they had hopes that she would be able to sense Shuriik as he was able to sense her. She had tried to tell them that she doubted that would be possible, but they held on to the hope.

Three fat candles sat in the table between them, their small flames beating back the murky air around them. Looking out over the balcony, nothing could be seen--there weren't even stars to light the night. It gave one the sensation of being closed under water, aware of only the most immediate things in the area.

When Teca returned, it was with a thick book. She sat down beside Kadiya, placing the book on the table. She withdrew her reading glasses and slipped them on. The book creaked as she opened it. Teca flipped through the pages carefully, the paper crinkling.

Kadiya tried to read the words, but they were Lencine and she could make neither heads nor tails of them. The writing was beautiful, meticulous on the thin pages of the book. Whatever the subject, it looked like an original copy.

"Is this book supposed to explain the disappearances?" Kadiya asked.

Teca looked at her and smiled. "I hope it will."

"You said you had an explanation," Bridges said, failing to keep the irritation out of his voice. At the moment, he didn't feel much like a captain. He felt all too human. Rael was out there somewhere and he didn't like not knowing where that somewhere was.

"I said I *may* have one, Captain," Teca said. "These people who vanished--they are more to you than mere crew."

Bridges nodded. "Yes, and I'm sorry for my behaviour."

"It is understandable," Teca said, nodding. "When I was a young girl, my best friend went missing for..." She considered for a moment. "I believe it was well over twenty days. I know how you feel."

Twenty days. Bridges tried not to grimace. If Shuriik and Rael were missing for twenty days...

"Ah, here." Teca smiled, finding the entry she wanted. She turned a large section of the pages at once, flipping through a few more before she opened to a brightly coloured picture. She turned the book, tapping the page. "There."

The three looked at the page. The figure drawn there was covered with deep blue scales, looking almost amphibian in some respects. Two bright black eyes stared up at them, a stringed instrument held in one hand while the other balanced a ball of light. Kadiya looked from the picture to Teca, who seemed to be gauging their reactions.

"What is this?" Bridges asked, eyes trailing over the drawing. The creature was in some sort of a cave, the walls glistening with moisture. In the background, a distant oval of light could be seen, a small shadowy figure standing there.

"This is Goyum," Teca said. "He is a creature from our mythology--said to be the one who tests our strength."

Lebin leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest, clearly having little faith in the idea that Goyum was responsible for Shuriik and Laine's disappearances.

"You believe Goyum is accountable for what happened?" Bridges asked, studying the picture in a little more detail.

"It is one possibility," Teca said. "Your people vanished without a trace, without a sound. Goyum is capable of that."

Kadiya laughed softly. "And so are at least a dozen other things in the universe, Minister. Does this Goyum have a hidden transporter?"

Teca smiled. "I would think that after the things you have seen in your lifetime, you would not be so quick to jump to an answer."

Kadiya's eyes narrowed. What did this woman know of her lifetime? Or of the things she had seen?

"Must technology be involved?" Teca asked. "Why must the most simple answer be the right one?"

"It usually is," Lebin said.

"For your kind, perhaps," Teca said, looking to the commander. "Why would we infuse our mythology with technology when we shun it?"

"As a warning," Lebin guessed. "So your people will not be tempted to use technology." He shook his head. "Goyum is a myth. We define myths as something fictional, allegorical. If that is the case, how can he actually exist?"

"That is a good question, Commander," Teca said softly, nodding.

"Minister," Bridges said, "if Goyum does have Shuriik and Laine, how can we contact him to retrieve them?"

"You cannot." Teca saw that Kadiya was about to protest and she lifted a hand. "I mentioned earlier that my friend disappeared for twenty days. She was a scientist, very analytical in everything she did. She told me that to return, she had to find a deeper faith and trust in it, she had to trust in herself rather than in her numbers and symbols."

"Why would Goyum take two off-worlders?" Bridges asked.

"It is not my place to out-guess Goyum," Teca said. "If he does have them, he will not harm them. He has a reason for doing what he does, though it isn't always known to us."

Bridges leaned forward. "Sounds like God," he murmured.

Teca's eyes shown merrily in the candlelight. "An interesting parallel, Captain."

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