Star Trek: Defiant

"Queued" - Part Seven

Written by Laine Rael

Scott obviously couldn't follow the group, so he said he would content himself by surveying the landscape of the planet -- after he figured out flying. Since there were absolutely no natural predators that anyone could imagine capable of harming him, the captain agreed.

The group walked a few meters into the mouth of the cave. The light dwindled further and further as they descended deep into the ground. After a few minutes of constant walking, they realized that they all could still see perfectly, as if the entire dark cavern was illuminated by bright moonlight -- another piece of proof that this was indeed the way that Q wanted them to go.

They continued on for perhaps half an hour, Mak and the Captain in the lead, Maerret, Rael and Emeras in the center, with Dan and Catrin at the rear. The walls appeared natural, and the cavern was large -- there was enough room for four across in most areas, and the ceilings arched up from 3 to 10 meters. Stalagtites and stalagmites increased in size and frequency, and a steady drip- drip- drip- could be heard softly in the background over the sound of their steady breathing. Suddenly, Maerret stopped. "Someone is approaching," he said quietly.

Rael had heard it too -- a light shuffle of a booted foot against the solid rock floor -- although none of the rest had heard anything at all . Quietly, Maerret led them to a small cavern that was an offshoot of the main corridor. They huddled there as a group of about 20 humanoids with black skin and flowing white hair passed about a half minute later. They moved so silently, it sounded as if it had been only one quiet human.

They were all impressed, and determined not to be caught off guard. After the drow had passed, they continued down the corridor, continuing down toward the west -- and the evil city of Menzoberranzan.

* * *

Two hours later, the group found themselves at the edge of the city. There were small dwellings scattered for perhaps a kilometer in every direction. About 5 kilometers further, the ten major houses of Menzoberranzan could be seen. The beautiful architecture was apparent even from the distance -- ornate twisted black iron spires and carved spiders reached to heights of over 20 meters. The group took care to keep their heads covered so it would not be immediately apparent they were not of this place as they moved toward the first house -- House Baenre.

It was quite bright in this area, as each house was outlined in magical flames of faerie fire. The blues, purples and reds seemed to reach out to the rest of the city, making the Houses even more imposing. Maerret now led, as he seemed to have the clearest idea of where to progress.

As they moved closer to the house, a new image caught their eye -- a large temple with a high, domed ceiling. As the group passed, they looked inside the outer windows. Above what could only be described as an alter revolved an astonishing creation of magic. The beautiful face of a drow priestess hung for a moment, then transformed into the likeness of a huge black widow spider. The crew gasped in wonder at the beauty -- and pure evil -- they could feel.

As they progressed, they were noticed by a drow guard who stood near the temple and had been alerted by their curiosity. His hair was cropped short to his head and his body was thick with muscles. "Of what house are you?" he said to Maerret.

"I am of no house," Maerret replied uneasily.

"Then you must die," the drow said menacingly, and reached for a weapon. Maerret drew his scimitars in a blink and slaughtered the guard where he stood.

Rael groaned. Two other nearby guards noticed the commotion and leveled miniature crossbows, meant for one-handed use, at the group. Mak scoffed. The tiny quarrels flew toward Mak and Catrin. Mak dodged, and the quarrel skipped across the sides of the corridor. Emeras tried to raise her ring against the guards, but was forced to dive for cover. Dan tried to help her, but was hit by one of the quarrels on his way. He hit the cave floor hard.

Catrin, who had her bow leveled at one of the guards, let fly without trying to stop the quarrel. It landed in her thigh as her arrow almost tore the guard in half. She grimaced, then straightened. "Is that all your little toys can do?" she said pertly, then slumped as the sleeping poison started to take effect. Grabbing a small flask from his belt, Jeffrey rushed to her side. "Drink this all, quick!" he said. Catrin downed it, coughing and gagging at the bitter taste -- but miraculously she stayed awake. She stood uneasily, looking like a drunken sailor. "I forgot to mention the poison," Jeffrey said apologetically.

More drow came to aid in the fight, and soon they were overwhelmed. The group was beseiged on all sides as the quarrels struck them at various places. Catrin was hit again, and the potion did its work quickly. Maerret killed three more guards before being taken down. Rael was hit by two mini quarrels, one in her side, the other in her calf. In moments, the overwhelming desire to sleep took her, and she heard Jeffrey moan. She heard the click of other crossbows as she drifted off.

* * *

Matron Baenre had been in the temple, praising Lloth and begging for her favor. She heard the activity outside and went out to investigate, floating on a small, glowing disk only used by high priestesses of Lloth. Her guards flanked her. She looked down at the newcomers. "Bring them inside," she said in a familiar voice. The guards that were left looked into the face of Q. "Yes, Matron," they said, bowing low as they took their prisoners.

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