The Amahrryn Incident
by spikeNdru, July 15, 2005
Disclaimer: I own none of these characters. I'm just playing with them. No infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Star Trek
was the first TV series of which I actually became a 'fan'. It was so different from anything I'd ever seen—it created a whole, new world
and I wanted to live in that world. Many years later, I fell in love again—with the worlds that came from the mind of Joss Whedon. So, this is my homage to two of the most creative, fantastic minds of my life time. I've tweaked some of my favorite Joss characters and dropped them into Gene's world. Let the games begin!
The lift doors opened with a soft hydraulic hiss as Captain James T. Kirk, youngest Starship Captain in the history of Starfleet, stepped onto the bridge. He was followed followed by Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy. The bridge crew immediately snapped to attention.
“At ease, gentlemen.” Kirk lowered himself into the Captain's chair and flipped open the arm, exposing a series of buttons. “On screen, Lt. Uhura.”
The Communications Officer turned to her console; the large viewing screen filled with the image of a Romulan Bird of Prey. First Officer Spock raised a single eyebrow. The Enterprise
was far from Romulan territory. A Bird of Prey this far into Federation space was a clear violation of the treaty. The image blurred and then solidified to show the bridge of the Romulan vessel. A dark-eyed, attractive Romulan woman sat in the Captain's chair, flanked by her second-in-command, standing to her right, and Ambassador Giles of the Federation Council standing to her left.
The Ambassador spoke first. “U.S.S. Enterprise
, this is Ambassador Giles on the Romulan Bird of Prey Slayer
. We are on Federation business; repeat, on Federation business.” He held up an amulet bearing the seal of the United Federation of Planets. “We request your assistance on a matter of some delicacy.”
The dark-haired Captain shot him a glare. She was obviously of the opinion that Starfleet assistance in their mission was both unnecessary and unwanted.
“What is the nature of the assistance you require?” Kirk replied to the Ambassador, but he continued to closely observe the Romulan Captain.
“If you and your senior officers would be good enough to join us, I will explain the situation.”
Kirk cut the transmission as he turned to face his crew.
“It could be a trap, Jim.” McCoy distrusted Romulans, especially those violating Federation space. “The Ambassador could be under their control.”
“You may be right, Bones, but we won't know until we meet with them. Spock, McCoy with me. Mr. Sulu, you have the conn.”
Kirk restored the transmission and stated, “Three to beam over. We will join you shortly.” He ended the transmission. “Uhura, monitor communicators and tricorder readings. Gentlemen?”
Spock came to stand behind his captain, but McCoy shook his head dolefully. “I don't like this, Jim.”
Kirk keyed in the level of the transporter room and the lift doors swished closed behind the three.
“If they wanted to hide, they could have come in cloaked and we'd never have known they were here. They might be up to something, but I'd like to know what it is and what they're doing in this quadrant.”
The three Enterprise
officers shimmered into existence on the Romulan ship. For once, McCoy was silent regarding his dislike of having his molecules scattered all over space, but Kirk had no doubt he'd hear about it later.
Ambassador Giles stepped forward to greet them.
“Thank you all for coming. If you will follow me to the debriefing room, I will endeavor to clarify our mission and our request for your assistance.”
request? I got the impression that the Commander isn't particularly interested in our assistance.”
“Yes, well, perhaps I should have said 'my' request, as I am technically in charge of this mission. The situation is . . . complicated, and the Commander does not . . . work well with others.”
Spock raised an eyebrow, but remained silent.
The Bird of Prey was smaller than a Constitution Class Starship, and the debriefing room was just down the corridor from the transporter. Kirk wondered if this was intentional to keep visitors contained in as small a portion of the ship as possible.
Ambassador Giles placed the palm of his hand flat against the sensor and the door of the debriefing room slid open. The captain was already seated at the round table, her Second again standing behind her, his hand lightly resting on his weapons belt, alert for any threat to his Commander. Her intense eyes assessed each of the newcomers, and then dismissed them as uninteresting to her.
Ambassador Giles indicated three seats, and the Enterprise
officers joined the Romulans at the table. Kirk knew that Spock would be recording all available data of the ship and the meeting, so he focused his attention on the Commander. Ambassador Giles made the introductions.
“Captain James T. Kirk, of the Starship Enterprise
, First Officer Spock and Dr. McCoy, this is Commander T'Faith, of the Rihannsu Bird of Prey Slayer
, and First Officer Tr'Wood. As you all know, I am Rupert Giles, of the Council of the United Federation of Planets.”
officers nodded in recognition of the introductions, but remained silent. The Romulan Commander narrowed her eyes and gave a barely perceptible inclination of her head. Tr'Wood did not acknowledge them at all.
Ambassador Giles sighed. This was going swimmingly. He supposed that he should at least be grateful that the adversaries hadn't killed each other yet. The mission would have been much easier if the Rihannsu were permitted to deal with the Scourge as they saw fit, but no one was in the least interested in making his life easier! Even the terminology was a sticking point; the Federation continued to refer to them as 'Romulan', but their
preferred term was 'Rihannsu'. Quentin Travers, head of the Council, had decided that he didn't just want the Scourge eradicated—no, he
wanted the Scourge captured and brought to Council Headquarters! And for that, they needed the Enterprise
. The Rihannsu were much too volatile to trust with a capture, rather than a simple kill. His orders meant that he would not only have to work with both factions, but somehow
get them working with each other.
“Oh, sit down, Tr'Wood. You're making our guests uncomfortable just standing there lurking!”
The Romulan's rich, mahogany-colored skin took on a greenish cast as he flushed with anger and he didn't move. Commander T'Faith spoke to him in the Rihannsu language, and he grudgingly sat down, but continued to glare at the Enterprise
Ambassador Giles sat and glanced at Mr. Spock. Vulcans were notoriously secretive about their customs and history, as were the Rihannsu. Well, no help for it. He took a deep breath and addressed the whole table.
“I don't know how aware you are of Vulcan history, but it is postulated that the Vulcans and Romulans were once one people. Surak, the great Vulcan leader, foretold the ultimate destruction of the race if they continued as they had been.”
McCoy looked curiously at Spock, who remained impassive. The Ambassador realized he was trespassing on history the Vulcans would prefer to forget, but their dedication to truth and logic would not allow them to deny. He'd be as brief as possible, giving them only what was absolutely necessary for understanding the current situation.
“Those we currently know as 'Vulcans' chose to follow Surak and pursued a lifestyle that elevated logic and truth over . . . emotional response. A group of rebels, led by S'task left Vulcan rather than follow Surak's teachings, and were never heard from again—as Vulcans. It is postulated that these rebels eventually became the Romulan race.”
Tr'Wood's hand went to his dagger, but T'Faith spat out a word of command and he contented himself with a glower.
“I'm sorry for bringing up events that both races would prefer to forget, but I trust you will all come to see the relevance. The Romulans and Vulcans made different choices, and have had no contact with each other in recent history. Until approximately 150 years ago . . .”
“One hundred and fifty-two point nine-three-seven-zero-eight years, to be precise,” Spock corrected.
“Yes. Thank you, Mr. Spock,” replied Ambassador Giles. “If you have no objections, we'll just round it off to 152 years?”
Spock nodded regally. Tr'Wood narrowed his eyes and glared at Spock. Giles longed for a good, single-malt Scotch, or a least a nice, hot cup of tea—but neither was to be had on the Romulan vessel.
“One hundred and fifty-two years ago, a renegade Vulcan named Sange married a Romulan woman, of whose identity we are not certain, because she took the name 'Darla', giving no clue to her actual name or clan. Sange and Darla spent the next hundred years—approximately, Mr. Spock—engaging in various criminal pursuits and killings throughout the Federation, and then 'disappeared'. It was thought that they had themselves been killed, but the Council discovered that, not only were they not
dead, they had evolved and honed their craft. They had settled underneath the surface on one of the moons in our own Solar System—right under the Federation's nose! They apparently had been laying low for a time, because our sources have discovered that they were raising twin children—Spike and D'ru. The majority of the bloody atrocities over the past twenty-five years in our system have since been traced to the family now known as the Scourge of Europa.”
Darla piloted the Romulan Scout Ship, Bloodprice
, through the asteroid field, laid in a course, and then placed the ship on auto-pilot. A small blonde, she looked deceptively delicate—a fact which she had often used to her advantage. She tapped her nails on the console and considered. They had been planning this relocation for some time—both she and Sange had known it was only a matter of time before their underground complex on the ice moon of Europa was discovered, but they had had a good run! Twenty-five years operating right in the heart of the Federation! The irony and the danger had appealed to them both. She and Sange were perfectly matched.
Darla threw back her head and laughed. She would have loved to see the consternation on the humans' faces when they realized they were too late! D'ru had tilted her head and gotten a faraway look in her luminous gray eyes. “It's time, Mummy. Time to go,” she'd said, and the Federation would now find no traces of the Scourge on Europa! She laughed again. In all their years together, she'd never been able to teach Sange to laugh. He still retained the Vulcan broodiness and had not yet learned to enjoy the Rihannsu freedom of emotions. Oh, well, there was plenty of time to teach him . . . many things.
Darla rapidly re-checked the instrument panel; satisfied that all was well, she headed for their cabin. Laughter was not the emotion she wished to elicit from Sange at the present time.
Vulcan children do not reach full maturity until age fifty—Romulan children, perhaps a little earlier. At twenty-five years, Spike and D'ru were on the cusp of adolescence, although they wore the physical forms they would maintain until extreme old age.
To a human observer, they would appear to be adults, but they were not human. They were Vulcan/Romulan hybrids, a distinction that was more cultural than biological. Neither had yet mastered control of their emotions. Compared to Sange's stoic, Vulcan countenance, Spike's expressive face showed each passing emotion.
D'ru whimpered as she clutched her doll tighter. Spike drew her into his arms and stroked her long dark hair. With the exception of her clear gray eyes, D'ru looked like a typical Romulan. Spike, however, had inherited Darla's startlingly unusual pale hair and blue eyes. Within a race in which dark hair and eyes were the norm, Spike and Darla were exotically different.
“Tell me a story, Spike?” D'ru begged as she clung to him in an attempt to shut out the triumphal battle screams coming from the sleeping compartment across the hall. The Bloodprice
was an older ship, but even state-of-the-art soundproofing technology may not have been a match for enhanced Romulan/Vulcan hearing.
Spike sighed. Maybe they really would
kill each other this time. Having not yet been bonded to a life-mate, neither child was aware of the exact nature of the battle fought between their parents.
“Would you like to hear the story of the rise of T'Rehu, pet, and how she became the Ruling Queen of the Rihannsu?”
“Oh, yes, please, my Spike. I like that story.”
Clutching Miss Edith tightly, D'ru snuggled closer to Spike as he began to speak, his soothing voice shutting out the frightening sounds.
“Harder, Sange! Are you a Vulcan or a human? Yes, yes, like that—now!”
hovered in orbit around Europa, the large shadow of Jupiter seeming to tower over them. A scan of the moon's surface had shown no sentient life forms. They were now searching every inch of Europa, quadrant by quadrant, looking for underground anomalies in an attempt to pinpoint the base that must
Mr. Spock was bent over his viewer, the topological image relayed to the main screen. Kirk restlessly tapped his fingers on the arm of his captain's chair as he viewed the sonar-like images. James T. Kirk was a man of action. He preferred to be doing
. He found the waiting part of each mission—whatever it might be—excruciatingly boring. Mr. Spock knew his job, and did it exceedingly well. If there was an installation anywhere on Europa, they would find it. He just needed to be patient. A wry smile crossed his lips. Patience was definitely not his strong suit.
T'Faith was having similar thoughts as she paced the bridge of the Slayer
. She had no doubts that they would eventually be successful in their pursuit of the Scourge of Europa. Failure was not an option for a Rihannsu warrior. But if the humans thought she would meekly turn over the Scourge to the Federation for 'trial', they knew nothing
about the Rihannsu!
She allowed herself a brief moment as she pictured her triumphant return to ch'Rihan with Sange and Darla in chains. She would bring much honor to her Hfirh—her House. She would be given a fleet of ships to command. The Terrans would not
snatch this prize from her grasp! She would not allow it. But for now, she needed to be patient. But, by the Elements, she hated
Sange made a slight adjustment to their course. If he had correctly interpreted the fragments of ancient text he had been collecting for many years, they were nearing their destination. He supposed he should be grateful for the limited vision and intelligence of those who hunted them.
The Federation saw only a series of mindless atrocities, and never discerned the pattern behind them. Not to say he hadn't enjoyed the torture and the killings over the years. He had indeed. He'd had to constantly exercise his creativity in developing unique, and ever more efficient, methods in breaking his subjects to surpass Darla.
The last twenty-five years had been rather dull, in that respect. Humans were so fragile. Just keeping them alive long enough to obtain any
enjoyment was a challenge. But, he had persevered, and collected his bits and pieces of long-forgotten information. Although not able to pinpoint the coordinates exactly, he now had a very good idea of the probable location of Amahrra.
According to his calculations, it should be somewhere on the far side of the black hole just now becoming visible to his instruments. He reduced power, bringing the ship to a near halt. If any living beings had even heard of Amahrra, they thought it was either a myth or long gone. Sange thought differently.
When the system's sun had imploded, sucking most of the planets into its density, Amahrra had been flung outward instead. The last piece of information he had obtained at the convent on Ryaia—by their god, he loved nuns—had been proof that Amahrra had survived the cataclysm that destroyed the rest of the system. He wondered if there would still be Amahrryns existing on the planet? Sange smiled at the thought. What must that be like for a race—to have immortality, but no power of flight? To be trapped for millenia on a planet mainly composed of crystals that conferred immortality, with no possible way to escape?
With the destruction of the rest of the system, the planet was completely alone . . . isolated. He wondered if the inhabitants had managed to find some way to end their existence, or if they'd still be there—possibly driven insane by the years of pain, loneliness and knowledge that there was no way out. He couldn't wait to find out!
But first, he had to navigate the pitfalls of finding a way past the black hole and discovering the trajectory of Amahrra . . . he could savor the thoughts of the everlasting pain of the Amahrryns later.
Planetfall at last! Sange threw back his head and laughed—for the first time. Domination and invincibility were nearly in his grasp. Soon, there would be no one who could stop him. There was just one tiny obstacle he must first surmount . . . Darla.
As ruthless and driven as he, Darla would make a formidable enemy. She could not be allowed access to the Amahrryn crystals. But she knew him—she'd made him what he was today—and she'd be alert for any kind of treachery. He held only one card, and he'd better make it count . . .
Sange gathered his family in the common room and uncorked a bottle of Romulan ale. He poured glasses for everyone, and raised his in a toast.
“To success!” he thundered.
The others echoed his toast.
Darla smiled. “To Sange.” She raised her glass a second time, and everyone drank. “I must admit, I never actually thought you'd pull this one off.” She crossed to behind Sange's chair and draped her arms over his shoulders, caressing his chest. “I was wrong.”
Sange smiled briefly. “It's nice to know you had such confidence in me, wife.”
Darla pouted. “I did not lack confidence in you
, my husband. Only in the existence of Amahrra. The gems of Amahrra have long figured in ancient myths, like the Terran 'Holy Grail'. No one believed they actually existed!”
“And now they are ours for the taking!”
“Not quite . . .” Sange broke her hold on him and stood. He crossed the common room and placed his hand on a sensor point coded to his specific biology alone. A drawer slid out and he carefully lifted a fragment of silicon-based 'parchment' from the drawer.
“It took me a number of years to translate the Amahrryn system of hieroglyphs, but I have now accomplished it. This, unfortunately, is only a fragment, but it mentions some—but not all—of the failsafes guarding the cave that is the only access point to the crystals. Once we have located the cave, D'ru and I will obtain the crystals while you and Spike provide back-up on the surface.”
“No!” Darla glared at him.
“Yes. It is the only viable plan. Once in the cave, we do not know what traps we shall encounter. We need strong warriors guarding our backs against intruders.”
“I will come with you. Spike and D'ru can provide back-up.”
Sange pointed to a series of hieroglyphs on the ancient fragment. “This suggests that there are certain obstacles that can only be broached by a female—pure and untouched. That leaves you
out, my love. It is only logical that D'ru and I be the ones to go. I have the necessary knowledge—after all, it is my quest—and D'ru has those attributes that you no longer possess, if you ever did. 'Pure' and 'innocent' are not terms any would use to describe you, Darla.”
“And you've often enjoyed that very fact!”
“Of course. But in this
case, you and Spike will remain on Bloodprice
, hidden by the cloaking device, until we return. If we fail, you may do as you wish—either try for the crystals yourself, or begin a new life without us. If I die, it must be with the knowledge that at least some of my family survives.”
The tip of Darla's tongue crept out as she licked her lips. “Always thinking of others, Sange. How noble of you.”
“Not noble; only practical.”
“And Vulcans are eminently practical . . .”
Spike broke in before the argument could escalate into violence, as they usually did.
“But what about D'ru? Won't this be dangerous for her?”
Sange's lips drew back in a snarl as he whirled to face his impertinent child.
“There is no glory without danger! Your mother and I have tried
to teach you that, but then, you were ever a disappointment, Spike. D'ru understands the risks, and the prize.” His hand tangled in her long dark hair as he jerked her toward him. “Don't you, D'ru?”
She dipped her head in submission. “Yes, Daddy.” D'ru raised her eyes. “I can see
the gems. They're so pretty. I want one.”
Sange released her hair and patted her on the head. “As do we all.”
“Captain, I have located your anomaly.”
Without waiting for Mr. Spock to transfer the coordinates to the viewing screen, Kirk spun on his heel and crossed to the Science Officer's console. Mr. Spock stepped aside and clasped his hands behind his back as Kirk leaned into the eyepiece of the scanner to see for himself.
“Very good, Mr. Spock. Let's check it out. Mr. Sulu, you have the conn.”
Kirk touched a button on Spock's console. “Mr. Scott, Spock and I are on our way. Kirk out.”
Commander Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer of the Starship Enterprise
, and a brilliant scientist in his own right, was ready for them. He'd requisitioned the appropriate protective clothing for visiting an ice planet and was triangulating the coordinates Mr. Spock had sent him from the Bridge.
“Cap'n, I willna set you doon inside that bubble in the rock. I dinna know what's in there, and I don't like nasty surprises, so ye'll arrive directly outside where the entrance must be.”
Kirk nodded as he pulled on his protective gear.
“Beggin' yer pardon, Cap'n, but I think ye should take some red shirts with ye.”
“Security? But Mr. Spock has found no signs of life forms on Europa.”
“That may be so, but 'tis not only inhabitants of Europa I'm worried aboot. Ye'll be goin' doon there with the Romulan contingent, I expect? And if you and Mr. Spock will be searchin' for information, I'd like to know some one was watching yer backs.”
Kirk nodded, and Scotty flicked a switch on his console.
“Lieutenant Gunn, Ensign Kennedy, report to the transporter room.”
When the security team had arrived and suited up, Commander Scott handed all four of them soft, puffy silver things that looked like oddly shaped mittens—except that each member of the away team received only one.
“What's this, Scotty?”
“A little somethin' I've been workin' on. Ye've had problems with phasers malfunctioning in the cold before, so I made 'em some protective gear o' their own. There's contact points for the controls, so ye can set and fire the phasers right through the jackets.”
Kirk grinned. “Thanks, Scotty. Good work, as usual.”
Kirk stepped onto the transporter pad, followed by Mr. Spock and the security team.
“Ready when you are, Mr. Scott.”
With a shimmer of light, they de-materialized, re-forming seconds later on the craggy ice of Europa. Mr. Spock turned slowly, searching the ice. The metal door was nearly the same color as the gray ice, but Spock's sharp eyes had no trouble discerning it. His gloved hands moved over the surface, looking for a way in. Blasting their way in with phasers was an option he would prefer to avoid.
With a series of clicks, the door slid open and the away team hurried inside as it smoothly shut behind them. They were in a sort of decompression chamber, and when the small room had filled with breathable air, a second door slid open, leading into the complex. Ambassador Giles hurried toward them. Kirk pushed back his hooded cowl.
“Ambassador. How nice to see you—already here.”
Giles did not look particularly happy.
“I recommended that we transport outside
the complex, as you did, until we could get the 'lay of the land', so to speak, but Commander T'Faith is rather . . . impetuous. Thankfully, Mr. Spock had identified the correct location, as I didn't fancy materializing within solid rock.”
Spock looked around the complex that had been home to the Scourge of Europa.
There was one main room, and a series of tunnels leading off it to smaller rooms. The largest tunnel led to what had obviously been the hanger for their ship. T'Faith and Tr'Wood were carefully studying this area. Kirk joined them. Ensign Kennedy glared at the Romulans and widened her stance, hand casually touching the phaser in her belt. Spock quietly slipped away, unnoticed, heading for the sleeping quarters. Unnoticed by the majority of the party, that is.
“Are you following me?”
“Yes, sir. It's my job to protect you.”
“Commander Scott thought that the Romulans might have a few tricks up their sleeves, but Kennedy won't let them get away with anything. I figured that the Scourge might have left some traps behind for anyone who came lookin' for them, so I thought you could use some back-up, sir.”
“Thank you, Mr. Gunn.” Spock made a mental note to mention the bright young man's initiative to Mr. Scott.
Spock and Gunn found nothing in the first two chambers they searched. It seemed the Scourge had even taken their garbage with them. In the third chamber, they finally hit pay dirt.
With one leg caught between the sleeping bunk and the wall to which it was bolted, a rag doll dangled beneath the bunk—unseen and forgotten during the exodus from Europa. Spock carefully freed the doll and examined it. Underneath the dress, there was a rip in the seam of the hand-sewn body. Spock reached in and felt the crackle of paper. He skimmed the cramped, tiny writing, as one eyebrow rose higher and higher.
“Fascinating. It appears that the female child is a precognitive . . . this may partially explain why the Scourge has been so successful in their raids over the years . . . Mr. Gunn, please return to Captain Kirk and inform him privately that it was necessary for me to return to the Enterprise
. You and Ensign Kennedy will provide him with whatever back-up is necessary.”
Spock flipped open his communicator. “Mr. Scott. One to beam up immediately, these coordinates.”
“The Captain is with the security team, Ambassador Giles, the Romulan Commander and her Second. I do not believe that the Captain is in any danger.”
“Aye, Mr. Spock. One to beam up.”
As Spock materialized in the Enterprise
transporter, he nodded to Mr. Scott, then rapidly left the transporter room, clutching a doll.
Mr. Scott grinned, then began to calibrate the transporter so he would be ready to beam up the remainder of the away team on the Captain's order.
Kirk, Scotty and McCoy were already seated in the briefing room when Spock entered, carrying an armload of antique books, several computer disks and a crumpled piece of what looked like rice paper.
Kirk grinned. “You've found something, Mr. Spock?”
Spock gave a barely perceptible nod. “The probability is 92.38427% that the Scourge is searching for the Gems of Amahrra.”
McCoy snorted. “The Gems of Amahrra? They're a myth! They don't exist. No one's actually seen one of the gems—all the stories are of the 'my cousin knew a man who's neighbor heard it from a guy in a bar' variety!”
“I concur that the great majority of the stories about the gems are of that type, Doctor, but not necessarily all of them.” Spock set his books down on the table and opened the first one.
“The Terran Christian Bible. This volume contains illustrations of the beings called 'angels'. Winged humanoids who allegedly visited Earth in the distant past. Notice the gem on this one's breast, and again, in this one's diadem, and in the buckle of this sword belt.”
Spock handed the other ancient texts around the table. “These volumes come from various worlds and civilizations across the galaxy who have also claimed to have experienced angelic visitors. Notice the similarities—winged humanoids, all wearing a form of the same type of gem.”
Spock spread out the crumpled piece of paper. They all leaned closer to look. It was a drawing of a gem that appeared identical to those in the books. Spock turned the paper over. On the reverse side was a drawing of a cave, in which thousands of the gems grew.
“I discovered this drawing hidden in the body of a doll belonging to a 25-year-old child, with no access to these texts from ancient civilizations, some from planets that are no longer in existence. There is a strong probability that the girl known as D'ru is a precognitive who 'saw' the actual gems at their source. Whether she 'saw' them as they currently exist, or as an echo from the distant past, is unknown. But she did 'see' them, and it is logical to extrapolate from that sighting that Sange has an idea where they may be found and has gone in search of them. If Amahrra still exists, the danger of the gems falling into the wrong hands is great. I thought it best to appraise you of my findings without the knowledge of our Romulan 'allies'.”
“Good God, Spock!” McCoy was shocked to the core. “You're saying the Gems of Amahrra could actually still exist . . . in this day and age? Gems that confer immortality . . . invincibility . . . are just lying around in a cave somewhere for the taking?”
“That is precisely what I am saying, Doctor.”
Kirk broke in. “If there's even the remote possibility that these gems exist, we've got to stop Sange and Darla before they get their hands on them! The Scourge—immortal, unkillable, unstoppable—it doesn't bear thinking about. And we must ascertain that Amahrra remains unknown, hidden . . . or every treasure hunter and petty dictator imaginable will be after them, and I don't need to tell you the horrors and bloodshed that
would bring about. Do we know if the crystals are invulnerable?”
“My research supports the postulate that they can be destroyed, thus returning the wearer to their natural state.”
“All right, gentlemen. We'll work with the Romulans and Ambassador Giles to bring in the Scourge, but not one word about Amahrra or our second mission to any of them. This is classified information, between the four of us only
. Hopefully, we can keep things quiet until we've dealt with the Amahrryn situation, and then
we'll inform the Federation. Understood?”
There were murmurs of assent from the other three senior officers.
Jim Kirk knew
he could trust these three, but he wasn't sure about anyone else, so for now, they'd keep this information to themselves. Power and the possibility of immortality had been known to seduce even good men; in the hands of evil ones . . .
They could not afford to take that chance. There could be no failure—there was too much at stake.
“Captain . . .” Uhura's voice came through the speaker and Kirk touched the button to allow it to both send and receive.
“Captain, Ambassador Giles is signaling from the Slayer
. He requests permission to come on board.”
“Affirmative. Kirk out.”
Scotty rose. “If we're finished for now, Cap'n, I'll do the honors.”
Kirk nodded. He, Spock and McCoy remained seated during the few minutes it took for Mr. Scott to complete the teleportation and bring Ambassador Giles to the briefing room. The Ambassador took a seat and began to speak.
“Tr'Wood has positively identified Sange's vessel as a Romulan Scoutship. It's a small, warp-capable ship, often used to explore planet surfaces. It's rather like the Romulan equivalent of a Federation Runabout, but the Scoutship is more powerful. It can attain a maximum speed of warp 7.5 for 48 consecutive hours.”
Giles glanced at the electronic notepad in his hand. “It's armed with either two disruptor arrays or a photon torpedo launcher. We have no idea which option Sange has chosen. The Scout-class ships are generally used as Science or Reconnaissance vessels, or small transports. And, they generally carry cloaking devices. It's the ideal vessel for Sange and his family. Slayer
is attempting to track ion emissions in the hopes that we can discover in which direction they've fled, but we have no way of knowing how long ago they left Europa or—”
“Captain!” Uhura's urgent voice broke in. “Slayer
just . . . disappeared. One second she was there, and the next she was . . . gone.”
Chairs scraped as the Enterprise
officers and the Ambassador rushed for the clear viewing port. They stared at the area of space where only moments before, Slayer
had rested in orbit.
“She's cloaked, dammit!” Kirk was already rushing toward the bridge. “They've found something
that told them which direction Sange went and they're planning to follow up without us!”
Ambassador Giles hovered near the lift, trying to stay out of everyone's way as the Enterprise
crew sprang into action. Lieutenant Uhura was flipping switches and pressing buttons on her unit, attempting to establish communication with the Romulan ship. Mr. Spock was bent over his console, eyes glued to the screen, as he snapped out coordinates to Mr. Sulu, who was keying them into the navigation board as fast as Mr. Spock read them off to him.
Kirk's eyes were everywhere on the bridge, his agile mind processing his crew's actions.
“She's powered up, Cap'n,” Scotty's voice came over the intercom. “Ready on your signal.”
Ambassador Giles couldn't help feeling that he'd been played. T'Faith had lost no time in cloaking and running the minute he was off her ship. It seemed she had an agenda of her own that no longer included cooperation with the Federation. He just wished he knew what it was.
Sange carefully secured the rope and stared down into the deep hole. This had
to be the place—all of his research pointed to it.
“Wrap your arms around my neck and your legs around my waist—and hold on, D'ru! If you should fall, all my plans will have been for naught.”
D'ru made a clucking sound with her tongue. “Bad daddy! Cares more about the gems than his own family!”
“You know that isn't true. Now, be a good girl, and soon we'll have everything we ever wanted.”
Sange wrapped the rope around his waist and slowly let it out, inch by inch, as they carefully made their way to the bottom. The rock opened up into a series of tunnels. Sange assessed the situation, and they started through a tunnel large enough for them to walk upright, heading toward a glow in the distance.
Darla tugged on the rope and felt it give. She turned to Spike.
“Stay here. I'm going down.'
“But Sange said—” Spike protested.
“Sange says a lot of things. I won't be left behind, dependent on Sange's good graces. If he obtains a crystal, what need will he have for us? Have you thought of that? No, I must take care of myself. I will not be subservient to Sange's power—only if I am as strong as he will he treat me as an equal.”
Darla looped the rope around her waist and braced her feet against the side of the rock wall, descending more rapidly than Sange, who had the responsibility of carrying D'ru. Darla landed and stealthily crept after Sange and D'ru toward the distant light.
Spike was worried. Sange had never cared for D'ru as he
did. He was her twin, her comforter and her protector. Sange made her, but she was only a means to an end for him. If D'ru were injured and he had to choose between saving his daughter or the gem, Spike had no doubt as to which Sange would choose.
The rope slackened and Spike grabbed it, hurrying down after Darla. If D'ru needed him, he'd be there for her. What good would he be able to do lurking about on the surface?
Sange followed D'ru down the tunnel with his large hands gripping her shoulders, ostensibly as a measure of comfort and support, but with the actual benefit of assuring that she could not run away. Her fear was palpable. She was such a child! Sange looked at her with contempt. She was here solely out of love for him, and the hope that by bending to his will, she would earn his approval and his love.
She was weak! And weakness was the cardinal sin for a Rihannsu. Had she no drive—no lust for power—of her own? By all the Elements, how had two such strong and immoral warriors as he and Darla managed to produce such unsatisfactory children?
They were approaching the light source now. A net of swirling, twinkling lights was spread across the mouth of the cave, sparkling like the colors thrown off by the facets of a diamond in the sun.
D'ru stopped suddenly and froze. Sange gave her a shove forward, but she dug in her heels.
“It's a test, Daddy. A test to see if the being seeking the crystals is worthy.” She turned and attempted to bury her face in his chest. “I'm frightened.”
“Go on, girl!” Sange shoved her away from him. “You knew this was to come. Your purity and innocence will protect you.”
“Please, Daddy, please don't make me do this!”
Sange spun her to face him, gripping her shoulders so tightly that she winced with pain.
“You are a warrior, girl! You come from good Vulcan and Rihannsu stock, yet you act like a sniveling human! You will do this, or you are no daughter of mine!”
D'ru shuddered, but she straightened her back and shoulders and began to make her way into the cave. The net closed around her and she was hidden from view within the sparkling lights. D'ru felt the light permeate her—seeping into every cell of her body, mind, and soul. The light was judging her — her worth, her intentions. She understood that she would only be given the crystals if her heart was pure; if her intention was to use the gifts of the gems to help others.
She saw the history of the Amahrryn people flash before her eyes. Winged beings, pure of heart, they were happy on their own planet, with no desire to leave. But when the residents of other planets in their system developed the capability of space flight, the Amahrryns voluntarily left their home world as passengers on the ships. Although separation from the source of their joy was torture for them, they did so to help others.
They traveled to distant planets, during times in those planets' evolution when the Amahrryn's message was most needed. Their message of hope and peace and love showed developing races that their warlike ways would only bring destruction to them. The Amahrryns traveled for millennia, spreading their message of love and peace and friendship.
And then their own sun imploded, and the other planets in their system were no more. But Amahrra remained; the crystals gifts to those who would take up the cause of spreading peace and enlightenment.
“D'ru! D'ru!” Sange's voice penetrated the haze of light and impressions filling D'ru's mind.
“Get the crystal and go! D'ru! You will obey me!”
D'ru bent and plucked a gem of Amahrra from one of the formations growing throughout the cave.
“Good girl. Throw me the crystal, D'ru. Throw the gem to Daddy.”
D'ru pulled back her hand and threw the gem. Sange caught it, an expression of triumph on his face.
The net of lights seemed to tighten around D'ru—she couldn't breathe, couldn't think. A piercing scream burst from her.
Darla flattened herself into a crevice in the tunnel as Sange hurried past, clutching the gem.
He didn't return to the well leading to the surface immediately. Why should he? He was invincible—Sange decided he may as well explore the rest of this underground cave system. There may be other
treasures here for the taking!
When she was sure Sange had gone, Darla slipped out of her hiding place and continued toward the light that was wrapped around D'ru. Her high-pitched screams and keening moans grated on Darla's nerves. She'd best be quick, while the light was occupied with D'ru. Darla bent and snapped off a crystal, and with no more thought for D'ru, ran down the tunnel toward the well.
is what you do with the gift of the gods?” The voice thundered through D'ru's mind. “The gift we freely gave you, meant to spread peace and love?”
Pictures embedded themselves in D'ru's mind. She saw Sange raping and torturing nuns—women who had dedicated their lives to the glory of their gods. She saw him dismembering babies while their mothers watched, helpless to stop him. She saw Sange and Darla peeling the skin inch by inch from the body of a man, until he finally gave them the ancient text Sange was determined to have. Atrocities and more atrocities, until D'ru's mind could take no more and it shattered, broken into myriad pieces. The light flung her from the cave and stretched itself across the entrance, once more an impenetrable barrier.
Spike flung himself to his knees and gathered her into his arms. D'ru babbled incoherently, trying to push him away. He held her tighter, stroking her hair, tears running down his face. He laid his cheek on the top of her head.
“ 's alright, love. I'm here, pet. I'll take care of you. I won't let anything hurt you ever again, love.”
“Yeah, love. It's me.”
“I'm naming all the stars, Spike. But you see, I've given them all the same name and there's a terrible confusion amongst them.” D'ru giggled. “Bad stars! Won't come when I call . . .”
Spike held his twin tightly, rocked her, soothed her, and swore blood vengeance on Sange.
Darla tucked the gem into a soft chamois pouch and hung it around her neck, tucking it inside her tunic for safekeeping. She smiled triumphantly as she climbed the rope to the surface of Amahrra. She could go wherever she wished—do whatever she wanted to do, and no one could stop her! Why should she even bother to wait for Sange? What was he doing poking around down there anyway, when worlds were theirs for the taking? They had what they wanted. She'd power up the ship, and if Sange hadn't appeared by the time she was ready for take-off, well, she just might go without him!
Darla grasped the lip of the well and swung her legs over the top. She scrambled to her feet and turned in the direction in which they had left the cloaked Bloodprice
. A figure was blocking her way. Heavy boots, leather pants, the battle shirt of a Rihannsu warrior, overlaid with the sash of a starship commander; the woman exuded confidence and power.
“Greetings, Darla. I am T'Faith, Commander of Slayer
. You will return to ch'Rihan in my custody to answer for your crimes against the Rihannsu people.”
Darla smiled. “You think so?”
“I know so.”
Both women struck simultaneously, trading blows. The Commander could fight; Darla had to give her that. It would be a pleasure defeating a worthy enemy. For the past twenty-five years, the only adversary of any consequence she had faced had been Sange. A chilling smile crossed her face. She would tear the limbs from this Rihannsu Commander's body and enjoy every moment. T'Faith kicked, causing Darla's head to snap back, and she reluctantly closed off her thoughts to concentrate on the battle.
The women were a blur of kicks and hand strikes, each attempting to inflict as much damage as possible on the other. T'Faith swept out her leg, knocking Darla's feet out from under her. Darla rolled, using the moment of disengagement to pull a knife from her boot. She leapt from her crouch at T'Faith, knife flashing toward the Commander's face. T'Faith managed to turn, taking the knife cut on her left bicep. Her lips drew back in a snarl and she kicked Darla, who had overbalanced when the knife failed to penetrate, leaving only a surface cut. T'Faith used the moment's respite to draw her own knife.
Darla grinned evilly and brought her knife to her mouth, tongue snaking out to lick T'Faith's blood from the blade.
“I've tasted your blood—now you're mine!”
Darla struck, but T'Faith was faster, plunging her blade into Darla's chest and deflecting Darla's knife with her forearm.
T'Faith stared in shock as the supposedly fatal wound in Darla's chest closed instantly, leaving only a jagged rip in her tunic, smeared with green Rihannsu blood.
“I'm not so easy to kill as that, bitch!”
Darla subconsciously closed her hand protectively over the pouch containing her gem for only a second, but T'Faith's sharp eyes noted it. This, then, was her goal — to take the amulet from Darla.
The savage fight continued, until T'Faith finally saw her opportunity. Feinting a stab at Darla's chest, she turned the knife at the last second, slicing through the thong holding the pouch. With a scooping motion, she brought the edge of the thong toward her. She blocked Darla's blade with her left hand, the knife slicing through her palm. Praying to all the Elements that the damage to her hand was not too great to prevent it from functioning, she grasped the pouch as best she could with suddenly clumsy fingers, and pulled.
The gem of Amahrra rested in the palm of her left hand, repairing nerves and tendons and knitting together bones instantly. T'Faith screamed her triumph and plunged her knife into Darla's heart.
With a look of shock and disbelief on her face, this
time Darla crumbled lifelessly to the ground.
James T. Kirk had never shied away from difficult decisions. He listened to the arguments swirling around him, but in the end, the decision would be his alone.
Scotty was proposing that they attempt to calibrate the Enterprise's
sensors to pick up the same ion emissions Slayer
had used to track Sange's ship. Mr. Spock disagreed. He stated that the time needed to calibrate for unknown ion signals in addition to the time already passed would likely be greater than the lifespan of the fading emissions—by the time they were ready to follow the trail, it would already have dissipated.
Mr. Spock postulated that, using the information culled from his recent research on the ancient texts, he would be able to approximate Sange's direction, with a margin for error, of course.
McCoy thought Spock was full of bull pucky, and without an actual
trail to follow, they could end up god-knows-where, but certainly not Amahrra.
Kirk stood and the room immediately quieted.
“Gentlemen, enough. Mr. Spock, what is your suggestion as to where we might find Amahrra?”
Spock turned the monitor toward Kirk and rapidly keyed-in information. An unfamiliar quadrant of space appeared in the monitor.
“That's a pretty big area, Mr. Spock.”
Spock nodded slowly. “Indeed.”
“Can you narrow it down for us in any way?”
“I do not possess additional data not yet factored into the equation.”
“Give it your best guess, Mr. Spock.”
“My best . . . 'guess'?”
“Yes, Mr. Spock. If you had to guess where you thought Amahrra might be in that quadrant, what would you say?”
Spock looked extremely uncomfortable. “There is no logical basis for a 'guess'. Captain.”
“Understood, Mr. Spock. Still and all, I am asking you to 'guess'. Would you prefer that I make it a direct order?”
“You would order me to make an illogical 'guess', based on no factual information?”
Reluctantly, Spock reached out and touched his forefinger to a spot on the star chart.
“That is my 'best guess' — Sir.”
“Mr. Sulu, lay in a course to . . . wherever Spock pointed. Mr. Scott, warp 7 on Mr. Sulu's mark.”
T'Faith had learned from Darla's mistake. She
would not make the same error in judgment. Tilting her head far back, she forced the crystal deep in her throat and swallowed it down. She grinned. All those long 'training sessions' with Tr'Wood had been good practice for the development of many specialized skills—one of which had just come in very handy.
T'Faith sat down cross-legged on the ground and waited. Sange would be returning to the surface eventually, but she might as well be comfortable until he arrived. During the battle with Darla, the bloodlust, always raging within the Rihannsu, had triumphed over her careful planning and she had given in to it. She would try not to make the same mistake with Sange. Their deaths at her hands would be a coup, but the glory would be greater if she could bring him in alive. She could almost hear the crowds lining the streets of ch'Rihan cheering, as she dragged Sange behind her in chains . . .
She heard the sounds of boots scraping on rock and got to her feet. She clasped her hands behind her back and stretched, rolling her shoulders to ease the tension in them. She was physically relaxed and ready for him when Sange climbed out of the well, but her body hummed with nervous tension. Sange fastidiously brushed the dirt from his pants and straightened his tunic. His head came up with a jerk as he sensed her presence.
T'Faith grinned. She nudged Darla's body with the toe of her boot, in her nervousness slipping into the Romulan street vernacular of the youth she had put far behind her.
“Killed your woman.”
Sange grinned wolfishly, easily replying in the same dialect.
“Guess I'll need a replacement. You offering?”
“You think you're man enough to take me?”
“I'm not a 'man' at all.”
“Yeah. The pointy ears kinda gave it away.”
“Just like yours.”
“Well, that's somethin' we have in common. Heard you were more Rihannsu than Vulcan, anyway.”
“That a problem for you?”
T'Faith grinned again. “Not a problem.”
She dropped to a crouch and sprang at him. Sange gathered himself and leapt; they met in mid-air, and the battle was joined.
Tr'Wood paced the bridge of Slayer
. T'Faith had been gone much longer than he had anticipated. He chafed at her orders to remain on board and take command of the ship in her absence. They weren't doing
anything! They were just hovering around, cloaked. Any first-level ensign could command the ship in these circumstances. His
place was with his commander—with the woman he had come to love over the years of working together. He would ever tell her; she would laugh at his feelings. Perhaps because of her upbringing, T'Faith enjoyed sex, but had no time for love.
Tr'Wood had been the favored son of a mid-level clan. His clan was not high enough in the Rihannsu hierarchy to be perceived as a threat by those in power; consequently his
childhood had not been marred by the frequent assassination attempts that the higher-level clans experienced as a matter of course. His clan was not currently at war with any others, so he was educated, cosseted, and given all the privileges of a comfortably well-off Rhiannsu childhood.
T'Faith's childhood had been very different. Raised in a rough and dangerous enclave filled with violence and criminals banished from their own clan houses, she had not only survived, she had made something of herself. At the age of 20, she had come to the attention of a childless Fleet Commander, and been adopted by him and his wife into their clan and family. Through his offices, she had been accepted into the Warrior's Academy and rose rapidly through the ranks. Her quick mind absorbed and remembered everything. Her knowledge of the unwritten rules of ceremonial culture, her speech and her manners were now impeccable. No one would guess that she had not been brought up in an upper-level clan, several steps above his.
But T'Faith never forgot who she was and where she came from. That gave her a ruthlessness—a fire—that Tr'Wood lacked. There was good reason why she was Commander of her own ship, and he only her Second.
Still, she had been gone a very long time. It was not his place to question his commander, but he was . . . concerned.
Concerned enough to defy a direct order? With Slayer
cloaked, there was no possible way for him to monitor anything happening on the planet's surface. There was only one form of communication that could override the cocoon of the cloaking device—the sub-dermal implant T'Faith carried somewhere on her body. If she dug it out and activated it, the Commander and any life forms in her immediate vicinity would be immediately transported to Slayer
Tr'Wood paced some more. He could program the transporter to beam him down, give him a few seconds to take a quick look around, ascertain that T'Faith was unharmed and not in need of assistance, and then beam him right back. The entire operation could be accomplished in ten seconds. T'Faith would not even have to know, unless she personally checked the transporter logs, and she would have no reason to do that, especially as she was currently occupied with the Scourge.
Sange was male—larger and stronger—but T'Faith had been a street-fighter in her youth, and a Romulan warrior for all of her adult life. She fought to win, and she fought dirty, taking advantage of every opportunity. Both T'Faith and Sange possessed Amahrryn crystals—but T'Faith's was now a part of her. She'd take Sange's from him if she could, like she'd taken Darla's. But she hoped she wouldn't have to kill Sange. She had plans for him—bound and chained. And not all of her plans involved publicly dragging him through the streets of ch”Rihan.
Sange leapt for her, knocking her off balance and she went down, Sange sprawled on top of her. T'Faith used his momentum to roll so that she was on top. She straddled him and bent down to kiss him, thrusting her tongue into his mouth.
The air shimmered and Tr'Wood appeared, unnoticed by either of the combatants.
T'Faith bit Sange's lower lip, drawing blood, and licked it from his lip before gathering her feet under her and springing up.
Tr'Wood shimmered out of existence, as the transporter automatically pulled him back as he had programmed it to do.
entered the quadrant.
“Captain!” Uhura's voice was urgent. She rapidly transferred the image to the main screen. Slayer
hung in orbit around a small Class M planet that seemed to be producing its own atmosphere. Six seconds later, and Slayer
had again disappeared, but Sulu was already keying coordinates into the navigation board.
The cut on Sange's lip had already healed, but T'Faith's mouth still bore traces of Sange's green, copper-based blood. T'Faith threw Darla's words back at Sange.
“I've tasted your blood—now you're mine
Sange spread his arms out from his sides and grinned.
“You want me? Come and get me!”
Tr'Wood's face was flushed with anger and jealousy, as he gripped the arms of the command chair hard enough to leave impressions in the metal. T'Faith was his!
His Commander, his lover, his future. That . . . Vulcan
would never have her! She was Rihannsu!
Tr'Wood noticed the Enterprise
bearing down on Slayer's
position and made a decision. He would give Sange to the Federation, after all. He could not chance having the Vulcan male on Slayer
for the duration of the return journey to ch'Rihan. It was too dangerous—he
was too dangerous—to be in close proximity to T'Faith for the length of their journey. Tr'Wood de-cloaked and hailed Enterprise
Kirk, Spock, Lieutenant Gunn and Ensign Kennedy materialized on Amahrra. Kennedy grabbed her phaser from her belt holster and ran toward Sange without waiting for orders from Kirk. She thumbed the phaser from 'stun' to 'kill' and leveled it at his chest.
Kennedy's eyes flew open in surprise as she looked at the Rihannsu knife protruding from her chest. Sange's lightening fast reflexes had thrown the knife before she could fire, and she hadn't even seen it coming. Her fingers closed around the knife, and with a look of surprise and betrayal, she died.
Gunn and Kirk hit Sange with simultaneous stun blasts and his body jerked, but he did not go down. They fired a second volley as Spock applied the Vulcan nerve pinch to the juncture of Sange's neck and shoulder. He folded into a heap. Knowing she had only seconds, T'Faith riped his clothes open, searching for the gem.
With a triumphant cry, she held it aloft and then flung it to the ground, picked up a rock and smashed the crystal to shards.
Kirk flipped open his communicator and spoke into it.
“Scotty, have Security report to the transporter room immediately. We're bringing in Sange. Four to beam up.”
The Security team relieved Mr. Spock of Sange's unconscious body and hurried to the brig. Kirk turned to Mr. Scott with sorrow in his eyes.
“Please retrieve Ensign . . .” he glanced at Gunn.
“Ensign Kennedy's body and arrange the funeral.” He glanced at Gunn again. Kennedy had been impetuous, but she had been very young. “Full military honors.”
Gunn nodded his thanks and turned to go. The ensigns under his command would be receiving a refresher course on the imperatives of following the Captain's orders on away missions as soon as he could arrange it.
Ambassador Giles hurried to the bridge.
“I understand Sange is now in custody and Darla is dead. I have communicated that information to President Travers, who has requested immediate return to Council Headquarters.”
Lieutenant Uhura turned to Kirk. “President Travers and Admiral Ukuma to speak with you, Sir.”
Kirk nodded. “On screen.”
T'Faith glared as she removed her communicator from her belt.
“One to beam up, and I trust you will have a suitable explanation as to why we are un-cloaked and how the Enterprise
has managed to steal our prize, Tr'Wood.” A predator's grin crossed her face. The chains she had planned for Sange wouldn't go to waste, after all. “I am looking forward to hearing it.”Enterprise
showed on Slayer's
viewscreen as a momentary streak of light as she headed for Terra at warp speed. An unfortunate power surge caused by a faulty dilithium crystal caused the log entry providing the coordinates to Amahrra to be wiped from the ship's memory banks.
Within moments, Slayer
appeared as a smaller light streak, experienced the same unfortunate power surge, and then she was gone.
Spike placed D'ru's arms around his neck and held her tightly as he strained to climb the rope one-handed out of the well.
He paused to rest for a moment on the surface of Amahrra before gathering her up in his arms and carrying her to to Bloodprice
“Well, pet, looks like we're on our own now. Where d'you fancy going?” >>>>>>>>>>The End >>>>>>>>>>