Star Trek: Defiant

"Event on Smoke Horizon" - Part One

Written by Ry Emeras

Oh, cease! must hate and death return?
Cease! must men kill and die?
Cease! drain not to its dregs the urn
Of bitter prophecy.
The world is weary of the past,
Oh, might it die or rest at last!

'Hellas' - Percy Bysshe Shelley

* * *

It breathed still, the heart of it as great as a new star's and yearning as proto-life molecules on the verge of being, quiescent as a backwater pond waiting for rain; a silver shadow on the system's edge of a red sun cooling toward its inevitable compression and death . . . no, to a different state of matter and energy, of time and space, but that is then and this is now, and in the now moment, the shadowy thing feels the input of energy feeding it like droplets of precipitation on that silent pool. And it -becomes- . . .

* * *

On the U.S.S. Defiant the crew ran diagnostics and did all those maintenance jobs that had been on their lists to do when they had the time. Captain Bridges assured them that they -had- the time on their way to the 73rd Cooperative Galactic Eco-Engineering Conference. But there was also time for some relaxation in 8-Forward when off-shift, for a flurry of tournaments on the holodeck and some impromptu concerts by the musicians of the crew, including the Captain himself who, while singing, allowed himself the liberty of gazing whole-heartedly at the CMO, Dr. Laine, his love, his betrothed and she back at him as if the rest of the universe for those moments existed outside of a bubble inhabited by only two . . .

At a table watching this demonstration, Lt. Ry Emeras, the Defiant's Transporter Chief, said with a twinkle in her eyes, "I think it's ...."

Lt. T'Mal turned her head, her Vulcan non-expression not obviously changing as she looked at her friend.

Ry laughed softly, lifting a hand as if ceding a point. "Never mind."

"You surprise me," T'Mal said, turning back to continue her critical appraisal of the performance.

Resting her chin on an upturned hand, the twinkle more pronounced, Ry said, "Again? What now?"

After the slightest of pauses, T'Mal said, "Your forbearance on this particular subject."

"Ah," Ry said, smiling, "I'm only giving up torturing you about the warm and fuzzy stuff because I know Rael and I are going to discuss how best to introduce her human husband-to-be to certain Bajoran wedding customs." Musing a moment, she said: "Lt. Miller-Kliemann is part Bajoran -and- married herself, maybe she'd like to help since they work together."

T'Mal gazed thoughtfully at the couple at the piano for several minutes before saying; "Perhaps I should warn the Captain."

From the table next to them, Midshipman Daniel Clark leaned over, shaking his head as he said, "I have no idea what you're talking about, but I say, don't tell him." He then jumped ever so slightly as Lt. Mak appeared seemingly out of nowhere almost at Clark's elbow with a somewhat forbidding expression.

"When the time comes," Mak said in that particular tone of one who always knows more than anyone would imagine, "I'll be the one to tell the Captain." Then as T'Mal lifted an eyebrow while Clark grinned in surprise and Ry laughed so hard that a number of people turned to look at them, Mak pulled the bemused Ensign Kamiana Tyrrel around from behind him to his side as he added with an answering gleam in his eyes: "And -this- is obviously not the time."

* * *

On board the U.S.S. James Tiptree, Jr., Lt. Esh Satum, Reconnaissance Specialist, hovered in the corridor on Deck 9 as he cautiously looked around the bend, a phaser in his hand. The corridor appeared empty, but Satum wasn't taking any chances. He continued to look warily about as he started around the corner, whirling as he heard a sound behind him.

"What are you doing?" Knight, in all appearances a Borg, but a Federation Specialist nevertheless, and now Chief of Security on the Tiptree, asked the question coldly, his one human eye fixed on Satum.

Dropping the hand holding the phaser to his side, Satum said, "Mr. Roberts is loose."

Knight assessed this information dispassionately, glancing at Satum's weapon. "Are you planning on stunning him?"

"Only if I have to," Satum said.

From the other end of the corridor, Lt. Kit Fenric, the Ops officer, emerged in a rush as he called out: "Esh, we have him cornered in the shuttle bay!" Satum ran up the corridor, following Fenric. Knight, after a deliberate pause for consideration for how pressing an issue this was for Security, followed more slowly even when he heard the surprised cry of pain issuing from the opened doors of the Upper Main Shuttle Bay.

Arrival in the shuttle bay itself presented the fact that Mr. Roberts was -not- cornered, was not, in fact, anywhere in sight even from the upper level. His disappearance after the attack on Midshipman Tanninius caused a considerable commotion among the crew apparently involved in capturing him. Tanninius, one antenna oddly askew and one hand wrapped around his bloodied, blue wrist, had taken hasty refuge on top of the "Frank Herbert" shuttle pod and was yelling at the rest of the crew whenever he thought he'd caught a glimpse of the errant Mr. Roberts.

A shriek from the far side of the bay identified Mr. Roberts' location as another crewmember was wounded in performance of her duty, but as the wary searchers swung in that direction, they found only Ensign Krungle limping and muttering, but no sign of the fugitive. Knight, who decided that it might be prudent to -not- be a part of this group, was about to leave them all to their fate, when the doors opened behind him. He knew who it was without looking, the Chief Engineer, Lt. Commander Ja'Lut Ghojmoh, Second in Command of the Tiptree.

"What in the name of all that breathes is GOING ON?"

An odd hush descended upon the shuttle bay as the crew all reacted to Ghojmoh's disciplined tone, and in the hush could be heard a scrabbling sound nowhere near any of the assembled personnel. Lt. Satum, moving his phaser somewhat behind his back, cleared his throat and Lt. Fenric said, "It's Mr. Roberts . . ."

"We are on our way to the 73rd Cooperative Galactic Eco-Engineering Conference," Ghojmoh said in a quiet and clear voice, "at which there will be inspections that you all should be preparing for so please tell me you're not wasting your time playing with the Captain's cat!"

"No, sir," Fenric said sincerely, "we weren't playing . . ."

"You were not," Ghojmoh interrupted, "planning on -stunning- Mr. Roberts?" A silence answered him. He gazed at them all one-by-one, his glance resting rather longer on Satum and Fenric, before bending down and tapping his fingers on the deck. To the surprise of everyone except perhaps Knight, Captain Rioghnach's huge, orange Earth domestic cat padded out from his hiding place. Ghojmoh deftly scooped the large feline up in his arms, a deep, growling purr emanating from the furry creature almost immediately. "And now," Ghojmoh said, "I suggest you all get to work before I decide to report this to the Captain." As the crew rapidly dispersed, Ghojmoh hesitated only long enough to remark rather dryly to Knight, "Were you helping or just passing by on your way to Security?" Knight didn't bother to answer, but heard the Chief Engineer say softly as he bent his head toward the cat: "You could have bitten -him-," to which Mr. Roberts twitched both ears back, then forward again as if he'd couldn't quite believe what had been suggested to him.

* * *

On the Bridge of the Defiant, Commander Hardin, glanced away from the main viewscreen to the Ops officer, Lt. Commander Lebin. "What was it?"

Lebin shook his head. "I don't know, sir, a blip. It's gone now."

Hardin nodded. "What do you think it was?"

"Unknown," Lebin said, his fingers moving over the console in his efforts to pin down the mysterious power surge that had been there one moment and gone the next. "I'll see if I can find an energy signature."

"Did -you- get anything, Commander?" Hardin asked the ship's Chief of Security, as he swung his chair to face her.

Nodding her head, Lt. Commander Matute said, "Yes, sir, but it might be anything. We're getting closer to the Conference area, there are probably a lot of ships in this sector right now."

"It wasn't a ship," Lebin said.

Matute shrugged slightly, but was searching just as hard as Lebin for answers.

* * *

Midshipman Omank paused in the corridor outside of the Tiptree's SickBay, knowing that Lt. Commander del Raae had -not- been speaking to him when the doors opened and she looked about as if waiting for someone to arrive. But she -had- said something strange had shown up. He was Security, new to it, true, but it was his job nevertheless and strange things should be investigated just in case they were a danger to the Tiptree. He took a step toward SickBay and the doors opened. Dr. del Raae stood there, looking surprised and disappointed when she saw it was only -him- again.

"What do you want?" she asked in a curiously compelling voice.

Omank concentrated on the fact that del Raae was half-Vulcan rather than half-Deltan, it seemed safer, and said, "Did you say something strange . . ."

"It's something scientific," del Raae said with definite emphasis. "Nothing for you to worry about."

"It's my job to worry about strange things," Omank said.

"Who told you that? Mr. Knight? You don't think he worries, do you?"

Omank didn't have a chance to answer because two things happened simultaneously. The first was that Lt. Soval arrived, clapping Omank on the shoulder in a friendly manner before going past him into SickBay, leaving Omank to wonder about so many un-Vulcan-like Vulcans on board the Tiptree. And the second was that he saw the strange thing that del Raae had been talking about just before it disappeared.


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