Star Trek: Defiant

"The Season of Shadowlight" - Part Six

Written by Catrin Kadiya


Twenty-five minutes.

Shuriik growled and snapped the tricorder shut. He had been walking for nearly half and hour and had yet to make his way out of the tunnel he'd wandered into. He wiped the back of his hand over his mouth; water continued to drip down on him. Spying an exposed tree trunk, Shuriik crossed to it and sat down. The ground was dry near the base of the tree and the shelter from the water was a welcome respite. He opened the tricorder and did another system check on it. Again, it checked out fine. He closed it, setting it aside.

For a moment, he let his eyes close, his head resting on the tree trunk. All around him, he could hear the dripping water. Eventually, he realized there was a slight breeze in the tunnel. Did that mean there was an outlet nearby?

Shuriik opened her eyes and reached for the tricorder, but before his hand could touch it, he stopped himself. His hand closed into a fist. There had been a time when he hadn't relied on technology to solve his problems, a time when he had listened to himself and the things around him. Resolutely, he tucked the tricorder back into its pouch. It would stay there; he didn't need it. His hand brushed his phaser. He didn't need that, either.

Shuriik looked around again, beginning to see small spaces between the trees. Had they been there before? Had he just not noticed them? Beyond the trees, he could hear more water--but this sound echoed, as if in a cavern. Was he underground somehow? Shuriik turned, looking at the tree he'd been leaning against; there was no way through, the trees were packed too tightly.

Rising, Shuriik began to walk along the path, listening as he went. He could still hear the water's echo somewhere in the distance and the breeze was stronger, smelling fresh, making him shiver. He lengthened his stride.

* * *

Laine cursed at the branch that reached out and poked her. Her uniform was wet, her socks were soggy, and she was in a foul mood. She'd fallen down an hidden slope a while ago, losing her tricorder in the process. Not that it had been doing her much good. It had been about as helpful as a Betazoid on Ferenginar.

Laine stopped walking, spying a small patch of dry ground beneath a tree. She crossed to it and sat with a sigh, bringing her right foot up. She took her boot off and rolled her sock down, squeezing the water from it. She shook her head as she put it back on. Not perfect, but it was an improvement. She did the same with the left and once finished, looked around her.

Drawing in a deep breath, she could smell fresh air. It smelled like Bajor after a rain. She closed her eyes, savouring the scent. It was such a simple thing, yet it reminded her of the many things she loved about her home. She remembered the first time she had smelled Bajor's rain on Jeffrey and how they had walked together--

She broke the thought off, rising from the ground. Wherever that air was coming from, she was going to find it.

* * *

"You're telling us that we can't contact the person who may have our crew members?" Lebin asked. He was growing irritated with the alien minister.

Teca's eyes narrowed. "Commander, you must have faith that they will return on their own."

"And if they don't?" Bridges wondered.

"Then your faith and theirs is proven weak."

The words came so easily from Teca's mouth that anger boiled up inside Bridges. He shook his head, pushing his tea away.

"That," he said, "is unacceptable." Bridges guided his chair away from the table, to the edge of the balcony. There was nothing to see, yet he looked anyway. When Teca joined him, he jumped slightly; he hadn't heard her move.

"This is the time of shadowlight," she said softly, "when nothing is as it seems and anything is possible."

Bridges turned to look at the woman. "That's a little cryptic," he said dryly.

Teca wondered how she could better explain. "You see the quality of light," she said, gesturing to the sky. "It is not solid. Some of the shadow world leaks through."

"The shadow world?" Bridges asked.

"The world where Goyum and his kind are said to exist."

Bridges nodded, suddenly understanding a little more. "So, the barriers between these worlds...weaken? And thus, Goyum sneaks through and... steals people?" It sounded flimsy to Bridges, but if this woman and her culture believed it-- Shuriik and Rael *were* gone; did he have a better explanation at the moment?

"The door does not go one way alone," Teca said, "Those who enter Goyum's world have the ability to leave. They must simply find the exit."

"And to do that..."

"They need your faith," Teca said.

Bridges looked out over the plain again. Faith. A simple word--yet a hard concept. They had all lost a great deal of faith lately. The nanites. Hardin. The loss of the majority of the Federation. Laine had lost the certainty that her mate would always be whole and strong. Bridges touched his right leg; he'd lost the ability to walk. Kadiya had lost her homeworld and four hundred years of her life. Shuriik had lost a part of himself to the mirror image of himself he'd encountered while saving Tyrell a few months back and though he said he had it under control, who knew what would come of it? They had all lost something important but it could all be summed up in one simple word.

Faith.

Laine and Shuriik would need the faith of Bridges, Lebin, and Kadiya to get them back?

Bridges swallowed hard, shaking his head. Faith wasn't something he could just snatch from a shelf and use. How in the world would they get them back? How could they ever--

"Captain!"

Lebin was on his feet, phaser drawn. Teca turned, not alarmed when she found herself alone at the balcony rail. She looked at Lebin, advancing with his weapon. Kadiya rose from the table, drawing her weapon as well. Teca took a step back, but in the next instant, Lebin and Kadiya vanished as well, leaving the minister alone in the shadowlight.


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