If you are seeing this paragraph, the site is not displaying correctly. You can see the content, but your current browser does not support CSS which is necessary to view our site properly. For the best visual experience, you will need to upgrade your browser to Netscape 6.0 or higher, MSIE 5.5 or higher, or Opera 3.6 or higher. If, however, you don't wish to upgrade your browser, scroll down and read the content - everything is still visible, it just doesn't look as pretty.
The Eight, by Calcaneous
Disclaimer: Star Trek situations, characters, and name are all owned by Paramount.
What if you woke up one day in a strange place, amongst strangers in a strange time? What if you woke up one day and realize that your life as you knew it is over?
Got news for you. Einstein was right.
Tina Cole turned 27 in 2001.
She wasn’t necessarily a loner, but on the other hand she rarely went out of her way to seek company. Even though she really liked being around people, she preferred not to get too involved. “Why not” was a question she couldn’t answer and over time that question didn’t matter to her. She decided that the lack of intimacy wasn’t such a hard thing to deal with at all.
She was confident that whatever was going to happen is going to happen one way or another. She was happy and content with that. Though she never really explored what “another way” might that be.
This was a wild goose chase even in the most optimistic and the chances of success were pretty slim. The Klingons beat them to it three times before already. So far it was shear luck that the ‘object’ hadn’t ended up in their hands.
The object only had enough energy left for one more time warp. After that, it was lost for good...well, at least for another two millenia.
It was “the kara” they were all after. Of no use to anyone else but Vulcans.
The catch was, that nobody, including Vulcans, knew what “the kara” was, where it came from or what purpose it served. All that was known about it, were three things: circle, 8, green. But heck, it could warp time and since that moment of discovery, “the kara” was the most sought after object in the known universe.
The kara only appeared every 2000 years and only remained for 14.5 Earth days. It required a special technology to track the device and you had to be positioned very well at the very beginning to even stand a chance. Enterprise had the know-how and great position when the kara appeared for the first time in two millennia.
There were plenty who joined the chase but after the two weeks only two were still in.
Trip and Archer were staring at the screen with looks of utter surprise and excitement that borderlined with a 9 year old getting ready to sky dive. Soval was peering at the screen with an expression that was a possible Vulcan equivalent of the earthly “you cannot ‘possibly’ be serious/tell me it isn’t so” punctuated by the left eyebrow shooting up and his face growing longer.
But there it was, blinking bright red on the dark blue panel of Enterprise’s science console. Modified, of course, by Vulcan technology to pick up the signal from “the kara” when it finished it’s warp.
Everyone on the bridge remembered the, for once, smooth and super fast way Vulcans shared their technology. Politely, nobody in the room inquired about just how did the same technology end up in Klingon ship.
When Trip saw the console, his face involuntarily grimaced with an unprofessional wave a satisfaction. He peeked over at Soval and almost started to laugh - just like being back in high school. Those times, when there was absolutely nothing funny but he was about to have an heart attack holding back the spastic laughter?
The stats were clear.
Tina was riding her mountain bike with a great vigor. In fact, she was hauling ass. The terrain was mildly elevated and every time she rolled over a hill, another breathtaking scenery unraveled. The ‘hill country’ area had a special feel and draw to it during summer. The air was hot and still but mostly dry. At that time of the year the Sun poured a yellowy orange glow on everything, you could hear cicadas screeching and seeing the green trees accentuated with big white boulders were a true eye candy. The dusty road was curving from side to side and in general, you never knew what the next turn would bring...
That kind of quasi-unpredictability was Tina’s idea of vacation. She enjoyed handling situations that most of other people tried to walk away from. It gave her a strange kind of perspective and even understanding of things. That perspective wasn’t gained by sitting around. She had her share of “in your face” experiences. And she was a great shot.
The Klingons, as always, were ready first.
Their bird-of-prey was the faster of the 2 ships that moved closer to the open anomaly. However, and that was the luck on part of Enterprise, their readings were usually inaccurate. That was the only reason Ko’Lac still didn’t have the artifact.
The biggest catch was that neither ship was able to enter the anomaly and both had to dispatch their shuttles.
Although the element of luck was something humans didn’t necessarily add to their university math courses, it was something they felt comfortable exploiting and to a degree, counting on it.
The error the Klingons made was obvious to Trip and Archer, who despite the nature of the situation, couldn’t deny a smirk. There was the luck again. Soval did not share their amusement.
Unlike the humans, Vulcan’s perception of luck was not on the positive side of a scale. Which was one of the fundamental differences between the species. In the last two weeks, Soval was pondering the possible outcomes and the possible ways to write up his report when this...collaboration...was over.
Though the concept of luck escaped him, he spent enough time on Earth to admit deep within his sharp intellect and without denial to himself , that the determination of luck as events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual without the individual’s having any power over them, is most certainly present. How did humans survive this complete lack of intellectual competence was still an enigma to him.
“Captain, unlike you, I perceive the situation to be serious. I trust you realize this is our last opportunity to obtain the kara?” Soval said with a slight pressure on the ‘serious’.
Archer answered: “Of course I do, Ambassador.
The Klingons were already down and working their way through the thick brush. They were in their element moving surprisingly fast and surprisingly quiet. Ko’Hout wasn’t very excited that the anomaly made their phase weapons leak purple fluid instead emitting a particle beam. On the other hand, he couldn’t wait to use his battle ax. Their only disadvantage lay in the fact that they were about a mile away from the kara. Trip and Soval were right on it. With Klingons closing fast.
Trip leaned over and picked up the boomerang shaped canister. The casing was olive with golden stripes and it wasn’t much bigger than than a hand gun. There was green and yellow plating that actually looked like a very complicated locking device. He passed the casing to Soval, who bowed his head to look at it.
“Ther’ya’go, Ambassador. Is this what we have been after these past couple of weeks? Not much to look at...I mean, what does this thin’ do that everybody wants to put their paws on it?”
Soval looked at the object in his hand for a while, considering: “We intend to run a full analysis, Commander.”
It was difficult for Soval to control his breathing and heart beat. He could feel a strange wave of rufarin (the Vulcan hormone similar to adrenaline) being injected in his body and his heart rate went up from his usual 15 beats per minute to a deafening 25. He took a deep breath and suppressed the feeling.
The kara was in his hands. Something so important to Vulcans that had eluded them for the past 10000 years. And now it is in his hands and Soval knew that it was his duty to safely return it to Vulcan. No sacrifice too big.
Tina made the turn and saw two men leaning over and looking at something in the dust and immediately picking it up. This wouldn’t have been so strange apart from the general impression she got.
The first man dressed in a blue coveralls was in his early thirties and he spotted her first. He passed an object to the second man who’s age was difficult to determine. He wore...gosh, she couldn’t even figure it out, but it looked like the ornamental robes cardinals or kings used to wear and what must have been a wig, because she has never met someone who would willingly cut his hair that way.
Straight out of the RenFest...but she quickly rejected that thought. The fair didn’t start till October. Without even realizing it, she slowed down and thought to herself that it’s odd seeing people out here...like that. Almost as if they just dropped out of the sky. She cracked up with that thought and the ends of her lips turned up in a amused snort.
She didn’t remember seeing any helicopters and her instincts told her to tread lightly.
The 3 Klingons were moving through the brush. They could see Archer with Soval looking at a female who abruptly stopped in her tracks and with her left hand reached to her waist and pulled out a weapon, which she trained on them.
The Klingons looked at each other with anger - this was going to be easier than they anticipated. They wanted a battle instead of the pathetic humans and the Vulcan just handing the kara over. It was a good day to die. With Klingons, it was ‘always’ a good day to die.
“Toss the gun toward me and put your hands on top of your heads!” said Tina with a confident resolve. She was aiming the barrel of the gun between the two men. She has done this before and you could tell. You never stop being a civil servant.
Trip glanced over to the Ambassador, who glared at him with silent disapproval.
“Well, that’s great...if you have any suggestions, NOW is the time!” Trip looked at Soval.
“To quote your exact words, this is ‘your’ planet. I claim no expertise in negotiations with human law enforcement officers. May I remind you that this very concern was brought up to your attention prior to beaming down to the surface?” Soval said with a pinch of sarcasm.
“Patronizin’ son of a b......” Trip mumbled under his breath.
“I heard that.” Was a snappy reply from the Vulcan.
“Stop talking and put your weapon DOWN, NOW!!” Tina tensed up - they were in the middle of nowhere - and she pondered why is it, that events like this always happen in the middle of nowhere.
“We mean you no harm and carry no weapons!” Trip said louder while looking at the...girl...holding the weapon.
“This is a significant historical artifact of a priceless value. It is not a weapon. It may be damaged by the force of a fall.” Soval calmly explained to the female dressed in a white shirt, blue pants and sand colored shoes.
“Yea...ok, that’s really cute, now put it down on the count of 3. One.....two............” Tina started the countdown and put her index finger gently on the trigger.
Trip looked at Soval and nodded his head. Soval kept his eyes focused on Tina’s and slowly put the kara back down in the sandy dirt of the road. Suddenly, his head rapidly shot up and he looked directly behind the female.
With unexcited and even voice, he informed her: “I suggest...
Tina looked at him and said: “What?”, but then she heard it herself.
As it always does in situations like this, it happened super fast in slow motion. She saw herself turn 180 and couldn’t believe her eyes. There was an APE swinging a blade aimed at her head. She reflexively dodged and the blade missed her head. She put one shot in his chest, but he kept on coming. The second round in the shoulder brought him down.
She looked over and was surprised to see the older man grab another...ape and pinched him on the neck.
But against all odds the giant - and he must have stood at least 6’8 dressed in black and gray leather tunic - started to slide to the ground. He still managed to swing his enormous fist across the left side of the older man’s cheek. She thought to herself: Oh...that...that’s gonna hurt later on.
Tina bent down to check on the man she had to shoot. He lay on his stomach and she had to flip him over to check his pulse. When she did, hear knees started to shake, her stomach turned chilly and she felt weak and lightheaded. The blood dripping out of the mans chest and shoulder was bright pink. She had seen blood before on many occasions and knew the difference.
“This” blood was not red, bright red or dark red. Not reddish pink, it was flat out magenta pink. She touched his forehead to look in his eyes and realized this isn’t a mask, this was a real bone structure and she also saw the sharp teeth in his mouth. And the smell. What the........
The warning bells started to ring, Tina looked over and saw the younger man viciously kicking the attacker who finally went down. She started to slowly back away when she kicked something. It was the same object the two man were holding before. It must have been knocked out of his hands. The casing was broken.
Trip yelled: “Look behind you!”
Soval and Trip looked at each other and for once agreed. Trip started to run towards Tina. Soval followed.
She looked at them and asked: “What the H**L is going on here?! Who are you?”
Soval considered for a while and then replied: “We need the container.”
“Sure and I need a facial - what is going ON?”
They moved closer. Very slowly. Tina aimed the gun again and put the object in her back pocket. She heard a humming sound and just like that the bodies of the three attackers disappeared in a strange flash of orange light.
“Guys, I don’t want any trouble, but I’ll shoot you if you move any closer.”
The three of them just stood there and considered the situation. She decided it was time to call for a back up. Tina looked down to get her cell phone and noticed it was broken when Soval moved. She shot came out in the same moment.
“WHOA.............whoa...whoa!” yelled Trip. “Just calm down, everybody...”.
She backed all the way to her mountain bike wide eyed, jumped on it and left as fast as she could.
Soval just stood there. As the bullet was passing by his head, it made a strange hissing sound and the pressure moved his hair. His jaws clenched tighter as he watched the female ride away. He never blinked.
Trip looked at him with complete exasperation: “Now that was close, what the hell were you trying to do?! If you wanted to get killed, by all means, but leave ME out of it!”
Soval’s eyes met with Trip’s but he didn’t say anything. His eyes narrowed, frown became deeper and his cheek brighter as he started to walk over to the place where Tina stood just a couple of minutes ago. Trip put his hands on his hips, took a deep breath,pursed his lips and looked down.
“Allright...we can’t beam this thing up without the case in my bag. We have no clue who this person is. And we’ve gotta hurry before the Klingons and everybody finds out. Suggestions?” Trip concluded.
After a pause, Soval answered: “Commander, I do not believe this person will contact authorities. She has just made....a first contact with four members or two different species. She shot two of them and is in possession of an unknown object. She is obviously not interested in being involved officially. She appeared, like all humans, unreasonably curious. I am certain that if we find out who she is and where she resides, we will find the artifact as well.”
Trip was nodding his head and looking around for something...anything, when he noticed a dark spot on the sandy road.
“Ambassador, I think I got something. Let’s send this to the shuttle for a DNA match.”
Soval glanced at the spot Trip pointed to and nodded. It was a droplet of blood that came from Tina forehead.
“Ambassador, we got her. Her name is Tina Cole. She lives about 20 miles south of here.”
“How do you suggest we get to Mrs. Cole’s dwelling?” asked Soval, glancing over his robe.
Trip was openly grinning behind the wheel of the car they “borrowed” a little while ago. It was a Mini Cooper from late sixties - he always wanted to drive one but never got an opportunity. In the 22nd century there remained only 7 of them in the original condition and he only saw one of them in the museum. They hid behind a boulder and watched the man leave his car and leave on the 20 km route. Trip was sure that he wouldn’t return for several hours. And all they needed was just a couple of hours.
Trip wasn’t just excited to drive, he was unabashedly entertained by the Ambassador sitting next to him in the front seat. Out of all the places that were the least likely for him to be at, this was definitely it. He could see him from the corner of his eye, and gave him credit for maintaining the Vulcan facade.
On that note...this was going to be a long thirty minutes.
Soval was well aware of the glances.
He was the oldest of 7 siblings his parents Sokal and T’Rov raised. His youngest brother was almost 40 years younger than himself. He recognized the meaning of Trip’s glance simply because he has seen that look before.
Just because the Vulcans suppressed their emotions didn’t mean they didn’t have any. As children, they played and teased and tormented each other - just not in the same offensively open way the humans do.
And though one could never tell by looking at Soval’s face or by studying his body language, he felt it agreeable to be sitting in this strange vehicle with this young man who was desperately trying to suppress his amusement. A twang of regret stabbed deep within his heart as he remembered the last time he had seen his youngest sibling. He was surprised by the force of it...his brother has passed over 60 years ago.
He straightened up, his brows turned up and the corners of his lips turned down.
“Commander, I realize the need for avoiding the law enforcement, we only have 4 minutes and 54 seconds remaining to aquire the object and leave the planet before the space anomaly expires. Although I find this part of Earth......agreeable, I have not any desire to remain trapped here for extended period of time.” Soval stuffily offered.
Tina shot into the garage in such a speed, she actually made two holes in the sheet rock wall with the front bumper of her Jeep Wrangler.
She wasn’t worried about that though. She wanted to sit down in her living room and just think the whole thing over. Pink blood, disappearing bodies - a man with pointy ears. What’s next?
She looked down on the sleeve of her white shirt and noticed the dried blood. She decided she was going to wait with the “analysis” (she laughed at the choice of the word) till she was changed and cleaned up.
She took off her clothes in the bathroom and out of habit sorted her washing. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. The cut was very minor and barely bled at all. She had a bruise on her arm, that she couldn’t figure out what from. And dirt and sand were everywhere. Her hair was dark and layered around her face, she had strange eyes that seemingly changed colors with different clothing she put on and there were always the white eyelashes above her right eye that appeared one day when she was around 17. She was never one to worry about her overall appearance...at all.
She was drinking ice tea, listening to her messages and taking her hand gun apart and cleaning it, when it happened.
The object changed color, then started to radiate light so bright she couldn’t see anything around her at all. This was the time to panic, but Tina wasn’t the type to curl up in the corner and cry herself to sleep.
The ball of green light raised from the kara and started to spin faster and faster creating an amazing wind whirl around Tina’s living room. The spinning force created a smell that she wasn’t familiar with - she would have probably called it an ozone, but that’s not the way it smelled. The green arcs were beginning to shoot out of the device and the noise was deafening.
Maybe it was time to take off. Maybe exploring this darn thing wasn’t such a good idea after all. What is it is some radioactive agent ? Oh shoot, what did I get myself into?? But it was way too late.
Suddenly, everything stopped at once. Everything grew eerily quiet and Tina’s eyes grew wide as she was staring at the green ball hovering around the room and radiating some strange images and what looked like hieroglyphs or numbers. It hit her in the stomach with such a force that it knocked her back into the wall. She felt something pass through her body. With that the room exploded in another blinding show of green lights and than everything went quiet.
“Yeah...I saw it Ambassador. I guess we won’t have a hard time figurin’ out where she lives after all.” Said Trip, looking at the remnants of a green ball of light.
It was gone already, but it left a residual imprint on his inner eye. Soval was intently looking at the house the explosion of light came from. He knew that before long other inhabitants would start gathering and according to his calculations they only had 2 minutes left before the anomaly would close. He calculated the chances of the Klingons missing this energy burst. Very unlikely. They must be fast.
Trip went into the house through the front door while Soval went around the back. When Trip made it to the house, it was almost completely destroyed. Everything in the house were either destroyed, thrown from place to place or melted like the big glass of tea that sat on the coffee table right next to the hole burnt through the coffee table by the object just seconds before. The room was trashed and in the corner was half sitting and half laying body of a stunned person.
When she saw Trip, she drowsily got up, opened and closed her eyes forcefully and shook her head. She looked at him and looked quickly around until she found what she was looking for. Her lips flicked in a flash of a smile and she moved for the assembled gun. Trip tried to beat her to it, but the gun was only a few feet away from her and though she had a little trouble standing up and was swaying a little, she was in full control.
“Are you allright? We saw the light...what the hell happened? Just don’t shoot, a’wright?”
That’s was probably why Tina chose to answer the question instead of telling Trip to shove it to a certain body cavity.
She said: “I really and honestly don’t know. The last thing I remember is this thing changing colors and coming toward me - that’s that. I haven’t done anything to it...the next thing I know my house is trashed and you...gawd....YOU are here again. “
Ambassador Soval stood directly behind her when she was talking to Trip and he saw all the signs were present. The exposed part of her skin was showing signs of merging. She actually had green sunburn - if that was possible, she wasn’t even Vulcan. On her back, visible even through the shirt, was the circle separated into 8 parts. A disturbing realization came over him.
Soval had a very limited patience and was, by humans standards short tempered for a Vulcan. He didn’t perceive himself as such - he saw himself as someone who has achieved a level of knowledge over an extended period of time and was, to a degree, convinced that this extensive knowledge and experience allowed for making certain decisions.
May it involve negotiations, sometimes best interests of his home planet and sometimes........an individual. Soval was a Vulcan and his primary conviction was that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few - or one. He decided that leaving this woman behind is unreasonable.
And in his righteousness, he decided, that for the needs of the many, he was going to impose upon the needs of the one. To his merit, he would do the same thing himself.
He looked at Trip, who nodded in an agreement and spoke: “Excuse me, Mrs. Cole?”
As she turned around to see who that was he reached out and using ages old Vulcan nerve technique, put her down.
The last words Tina Cole heard on the planet Earth in early 21st century before she blacked out, were softly spoken by a Vulcan: “Three to beam up. Energize!”
One person has made comments
Very nice beginning. Can't wait for more :)