trekwriter151: (Default)
[personal profile] trekwriter151
Six

Malcolm scowled down at the tactical map on the table in front of him. Scouts from the front had been reporting in all day, relaying information in bits and pieces. It was his task to put those pieces into a unified whole. He looked at the physical features of the land, the known positions of the Shadows and the location of their defenses. There were many differences from that planetary scan from the Enterprise, so long ago. Or was that "so far away in the future"? He ran a tired hand over his face; it was harder to keep himself separate from this world.

At least some things are beginning to make sense, he thought. The river, in this time, was closer to them. In fact, the area where the archaeological team had found Hu'fase's tomb was currently covered with meters of river water, silt and mud. That was how the tomb had flooded so easily, when he and Trip had been swept to the past.

Speaking of Trip...he glanced over his shoulder at Kan'nar, the Master Builder. That man bore a remarkable resemblance to Trip, if Trip had ever become a true redhead, and grown a couple of more inches. That put him at a height even with Captain Archer---General S'kott Hu'fase, Malcolm reminded himself---and right now, both men were poring over a series of sketches.

"I've never seen this design before," Kan'nar was saying. "I can't even tell you what the Shadows might use this for. It doesn't seem to be a device for transport or a kind of catapult..."

Hu'fase turned to the exhausted scout who stood in front of them. "You said that they have already built several of these...platforms?"

"Yes, My Lord," the scout murmured, his voice laden with exhaustion. "At least five...perhaps more. None of the scouts saw them used...they found us before we got a chance, but I think they were trying to get them in position as quickly as they could."

"Thank you, Scout. Get yourself some food and rest. We'll need your services again soon." Hu'fase dismissed the scout, then beckoned Malcolm closer. "Dom'ni, take a look at this. Can you tell what this might be?"

Malcolm nodded and moved next to Kan'nar. The Master Builder grinned at him and clapped him on the shoulder. "Glad to see you up and about, Weaponsmaster."

"You too." Malcolm managed a smile, then glanced down at the hastily compiled sketches. The platforms were on rollers, with a slim, cylindrical attachment at the top, propped up at a strange angle. There was a set of concentric rings at the top of the cylinder, and another set at its base, and a rectangular box at the back of the platform.

He recognized the shape. A missile launcher? The Shadows managed to invent a missile launcher? How? There's nothing I've seen that would have any indication they have any such technology...the implications made his head swim. That meant someone was interfering with the native Aronians, someone was trying to destroy their civilization.

The question was, Who?

Then he realized both Hu'fase and Kan'nar were waiting for his answer. Malcolm phrased it carefully. "My Lord, I believe...it's a kind of weapon. A free-standing catapult, so to speak. This projectile has the ability to destroy everything within a large area. Not even stone defenses can withstand it."

Hu'fase frowned and said, "It's just a simple cylinder, how can it destroy a large area of---"

Kan'nar glanced up with a disturbed expression. "Remember those charges Dom'ni used on the Bridge, General?"

"Yes...as I remember, that was a precise mixture of explosive elements, ones that only we possess."

"What if you pack that cylinder with those 'explosive elements', and throw it from a catapult-like device at your enemy? Wherever it landed---" Kan'nar mimed a huge "boom".

Hu'fase turned pale. He turned to Dom'ni and said in a quiet voice, "You assured me that no one else had it, that it was all up here---" he tapped the side of his forehead.

Malcolm nodded as he drew upon memories not his own. "That I did. All I can say is that the Shadows are evidently quick learners."

"Or they had help." Hu'fase's gaze at him was unnerving.

"I would never betray you, My Lord. I would never betray my wife...or my unborn child."

Hu'fase's stare wavered for a moment, then he nodded briskly. "I believe you. Now...both of you, do you think we can duplicate these...free standing catapults and their deadly projectiles?"

Kan'nar narrowed his eyes at the sketches and Malcolm could see the wheels turning in his head. Yes, he was so much like Trip. Give him a new toy to play with and we lose him. The Master Builder nodded slowly. "I think so, General. We have to start immediately; we don't know how soon the Shadows will use these."

"Then get your men together, Master Builder and begin. Dom'ni---"

"My Lord, I wish to consult with you in private, please."

Again, Hu'fase gave him a penetrating look. "Very well. Go ahead, Kan'nar. We will follow shortly."

Kan'nar nodded and went out without a backward glance. Hu'fase turned to face Malcolm. "What's on your mind, Weaponsmaster?"

Malcolm turned back to the sketches and tapped the base of the "projectile launcher" with his finger. "If Kan'nar is right, and these are filled with explosives, they're vulnerable. What if a single person attaches a charge here, then lights it? The whole thing would go up in flames, as well as anything around it."

The general thought about it, then a smile crept across his face. "Any way to make an explosion, eh, Dom'ni?"

"Well...they wouldn't have any platforms to launch their weapons from, once they go 'boom'."

They both chuckled at the joke, then Hu'fase sobered. "It would deprive them of their advantage, but if you're anywhere in the area when it explodes, you're a dead man. Leen'da would flay me alive if you die---"

"It would be an honorable death, then," Malcolm said in a quiet tone. "My wife knows the risks of my position. She would understand...and at least I've left her a child to remember me by." He winced inwardly at the brave words, but he pressed on. "And it could be the turning point of the war, one that will save our civilization."

Hu'fase sighed and turned away from him. Malcolm could see the tenseness in his shoulders, the silent shudder in the large frame. Strangely enough, Malcolm felt nothing but a calm peace. This was the turning point, he could feel it. No matter what happened to him, they would all be safe.

That is, if he succeeded in what he needed to do.

Finally, the general turned to look back at him. There was no sign of the moral struggle on his face, just a cool expression. "Very well, Weaponsmaster. Take whatever supplies and whoever you need. Go quickly...the sooner you destroy their weapons, the sooner this war can be ended."

"Yes, My Lord. Thank you." Malcolm bowed to him and went past Hu'fase to leave the tent. Before he made it outside, Hu'fase put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him.

"No, it is I who should thank you, Dom'ni." He hesitated, then asked, "What should I tell Leen'da?"

"Tell her...tell her I love her and I'll see her...soon."

Hu'fase nodded, his eyes full of sorrow. "I'll do that."

Malcolm smiled and left the tent, his mind racing ahead to his mission, what he would need to do, what equipment he would need. At that moment, he was no longer Malcolm Reed, but Dom'ni the Weaponsmaster.

*****

Kan'nar the Master Builder kept himself busy with the construction of the weapons platforms. Hu'fase had come by to tell him about the Weaponsmaster's mission. The general didn't have to say it aloud: it was a suicide mission and Dom'ni was probably not coming back. Kan'nar ranted about how Dom'ni was trying to kill himself again and that he needed someone to go along to make sure "he doesn't get himself into trouble."

Hu'fase gave him a sad smile. "I need you here, Kan'nar. If he doesn't succeed, we need these inventions of yours as a last defense. You have your duty, Master Builder. The Weaponsmaster has his. There is no room for negotiation."

Those last six words echoed the seriousness of their plight. Kan'nar swallowed and replied, "I understand, My Lord, even though I don't like it much."

Hu'fase sighed; only Kan'nar could say that and get away with it. The Master Builder had known the general for years; he knew he could tell Hu'fase the truth and not be punished. "Neither do I, but it's all in the hands of the Gods now. I trust you and your men won't let us down."

"No, My Lord. I'll do my part." And Kan'nar had pushed his men to their limits. At the edge of the hills, Dom'ni's men were mixing the explosives according to Dom'ni's specifications. For his part, Kan'nar hadn't seen the Weaponsmaster; he assumed Dom'ni was already on his way to wherever the Shadows were.

He's always acting as if he has a death wish. Doesn't he want to see his child come to adulthood? Doesn't he want to live to an old age with Leen'da? Even as he thought it, he knew it wasn't possible. This war took so many lives; it was only luck they were all alive now, and if Dom'ni didn't succeed...Kan'nar sighed. At least Joh'leen would protect Leen'da to her last breath.

The ground shuddered faintly under his feet. Kan'nar's head snapped up, but his men didn't seem to notice. He chalked it up to his overworked imagination and walked over to oversee their progress.

Seven

Leen'da sat in front of a line of fragrant candles, her hands clasped in her lap. The flickering flames mesmerized her; light and shadow chasing each other, so much like her life and her world.

"Are you ready, my Lady? It may be uncomfortable for you, if you are not completely grounded."

She nodded and felt the Priestess's hand on her left cheek. Joh'leen's cool fingers spread over her right cheek. Immediately, she felt a sense of disorientation and a rising panic. Mental discipline took over; she forced herself to control her breathing and heartbeat. Slowly, she floated free, as if she was in her mother's womb...

The child of the past and of the future. The words rose in her mind unbidden. The one who was and will be. The one who came and will come. Different timelines, different destinies. This timeline is in danger; we must correct it immediately.

More voices, familiar and unfamiliar. The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that time travel is an impossibility...

The Aronians destroyed themselves; all that's left are ruins. The Aronians died, the Vulcans lived. The Aronians survived, the Vulcans died. Instead of the Vulcans, the Klingons arrived on Earth in 2063, and thus, the Terran-Klingon war had begun. The Aronians allied themselves with their warrior brothers, forged an agreement with the Xindi, and destroyed Earth.

Then time blinked. The Vulcans lived, the Aronians lived. Two warrior cultures, one matrilineal, one patriarchal, meeting for the first time. Surak and Hu'fase, two warriors for peace, one laughing at their foibles; the other wearing a slight smile, which was all he allowed himself...

Leen'da rose above it all and watched in mixed fascination and horror. She saw Joh'leen as a ruthless Clan Matriarch, leading her troops into battle. She saw herself as Yoshiko, a samurai woman from her own Terran history, defending her family from a rival clan. Then, suddenly, she saw a man, a tall blond one with the last name of Tucker, fighting on the field named Gettysburg in another bloody war between brothers, and she saw him fall in a hail of rifle fire...

A dark-skinned man, serving in North Africa during World War Three, against Khan Noonien Singh and his minions; he was a medic named Mayweather, comforting a patient with a bright grin and a laugh; and the patient looked familiar, with brown hair and green eyes, and the last name of Archer...and she watched helplessly as a shredder bomb ripped through the medical encampment, and the young medic died in his patient's arms...

Water swirled all around him, but he'd managed to seal the bulkheads, isolating the flooded engine room from the rest of the ship. He clung to the remains of the submarine engine as the level rose, his mouth moving silently in a prayer. "Our Father, thou art in Heaven..." His panic choked him as the water crept up to his neck, then his chin, but he knew that he'd bought time for his crewmates to escape, and he was going down with his ship, Her Majesty's Ship Clement, dying heroically, an honor to his namesake, a naval family named Reed...

Leen'da picked her way carefully; it was easy to reach out and shield the man in Gettysburg, or protect the medic or pluck the drowning man from a watery grave, but instinct told her not to. Her heart cried out, but a cold voice told her, These deaths are necessary.

"Why?" she screamed. "Why am I seeing all this? This world is not my own---"

"But it is," interrupted a man's voice. "You just don't remember."

She whirled around. He wore the clothes of an Aronian soldier under General Hu'fase's command, but the features were too smooth, too unnatural to be Human. Leen'da didn't recognize him at first, but then she heard Joh'leen's cool voice over her shoulder.

"Daniels." Joh'leen appeared in her vision, but instead of her robes, she wore a snug, body-hugging fabric. Her long blonde hair had been cut into a severe style and colored brown, and her delicate ears tapered to a point. Leen'da gaped at her, a friend and a stranger at the same time.

The man called Daniels inclined his head in acknowledgment. "We meet again, Commander T'Pol, though I wish the circumstances were better."

"You brought us here," said Joh'leen/T'Pol. "Why?"

"Actually, I didn't. The timeline did. It called you back to a certain point of this people's history, so you can change it. The Aronians weren't supposed to die, but someone manipulated it so they were destroyed."

"The so-called 'Shadows'?"

Daniels's smile was enigmatic. "That's a good name for them, so with your permission, I'll steal it. They're behind what we call the Temporal Cold War, and their leader is quite...persuasive, like with the Suliban."

"Who is he?"

"I don't know his name...although 'Future Guy' will work as any."

T'Pol didn't quite roll her eyes and Leen'da giggled at the pained expression. "Your penchant for high drama is as prevalent as Commander Tucker's."

"Guilty as accused, Commander." His grin vanished as if it never been. "Your captain and the others have already made significant changes, much to the Shadows' annoyance. Needless to say, they've been a burr in the Shadows's non-existent side. Archer, most definitely, and Tucker as well, but Reed's really been a problem for them."

"Malcolm?" Leen'da whispered. The name made sense to her now. The man she knew as Dom'ni was Malcolm Reed, and she saw some of the changes that Daniels mentioned. Dom'ni and Kan'nar were supposed to die in the bridge explosion, but they both survived. Malcolm and Trip survived and were able to change the course of the war. How?

Daniels nodded. "Our intrepid Armory officer realized that the Shadows armed the enemy with some kind of ballistic missile, and now he's off to stop them. Alone."

The words flew out of Leen'da's mouth before she could stop them. "Is he crazy? He's going to get himself killed again! That lovable, suicidal fool has such a damnable death wish, and if he dies, I'm really gonna kill him!"

She clamped both hands over her mouth in horror. T'Pol raised her eyebrows and Daniels only gazed at her. The time-traveler gently placed his hands on either side of her face and whispered the words she'd heard in her waking dreams.

"Who are you? What is your name? Where is your true heart?"

She held herself still and gazed deep into those unnatural eyes. A wall broke deep within her, and memories flooded her mind. Not just any memories. Hers. She Remembered.

She Remembered it all. The music of more than fifty alien languages, the fear of the unknown, her insecurity being on the first Warp 5 starship, her growing maturity under the friendships of Jonathan Archer, T'Pol of Vulcan, Charles Tucker the Third, Travis Mayweather, Doctor Phlox of Denobula. Her growing love for Malcolm Reed, that difficult and taciturn Brit, who was a part of her now...

Parted from me and never parted... She recognized the Vulcan words, spoken in T'Pol's voice, and for the first time, appreciated and understood the bond between T'Pol and Trip.

The answers came in a rush."I am the daughter of my samurai ancestors. My name is Hoshi Sato. My true heart beats in defense of peace...and love. My heart belongs to my friends and the man I love."

Daniels nodded and said quietly, "And your friends and your lover are in danger, Hoshi Sato. Will you help us save them?"

She nodded, her mind crystal clear. Then she caught T'Pol's look of complete agreement. Hoshi looked up at Daniels and replied, "What do you want me to do?"

Eight

Dom'ni the Weaponsmaster crawled low along the stone wall that surrounded the Shadows' encampment. He glanced over his shoulder at two of his warriors and directed them with hand signals. They both nodded, faces both eager and resigned at the same time. They knew their orders and would follow them to the death, if needed.

Voices came closer to them and they pressed themselves into the wall, tucking themselves as small as possible. Dom'ni listened as the rough laughter and bellowing rose to a crescendo as the Shadows passed them. He got a good look at them: dressed head to toe in black silk, their faces shrouded in masks, with only their eyes visible. A nasty array of weaponry hung prominently on their belts; Dom'ni made a mental catalogue of them. Grappling hooks, knives, throwing projectiles, short swords. An occasional Shadow wore a square-shaped pouch, similar to the one he had given Leen'da. It most likely carried poisons, needles and monofilaments for a stealth attack. That meant that unlike the Aronians, the Shadows had both male and female warriors in their active ranks.

Makes sense. Why ignore half of your potential warriors? If Hu'fase allowed it, it could double our forces. Tradition be damned! He shook his head. If that was the case, then Leen'da and Joh'leen would have been first in the ranks, and that was unacceptable to Dom'ni, not with his wife pregnant with his child.

He raised himself up and looked over the wall. The Shadows guarded their territory well; it had taken most of his tricks and training to get this far, but their guards patrolled the edge of their camp with a vigilance that made even him cringe. How was he going to get inside?

A lone Shadow stopped close to the wall. His hand reached for something on his belt, but didn't find it there. He groaned and shouted to his fellows to continue without him. The others jeered and catcalled him; he only shrugged and turned to go back through the wall's entrance. Just as he went around the corner, a hand snaked around and grabbed the Shadow by the neck. One soft crack and the man's body went limp.

"Wait for me here," Dom'ni ordered his men in a low voice. "If I'm not back before full moonrise, head back towards the General's camp."

"Yes, Weaponsmaster," they murmured. "Luck be with you."

"And with all of us," he answered as he finished putting on the Shadow's silk uniform. It was comfortable and easy to move around in. Then he slipped the explosives into the sash at his waist. He put the hood over his head and strolled through the entrance as if he belonged there. He nodded to several groups of patrols as he passed them. They stopped and bowed to him from the waist before going on their way. The Shadow uniform had no insignia, but apparently, the one he had disabled held some kind of command rank, for the others quickly got out of his way. It was relatively easy to find the weapons launcher; it toward over the Shadows' other buildings. As he came closer, the Shadows who were guarding it bowed to him, and one of them approached him.

"You've come to inspect the Gods' Hammer," she said. He only nodded and carefully hid his surprise that the head of the detail was a woman. "Good. We should be all ready for the attack. They won't even know what hit them."

He only chuckled low in his throat and approached the platform. Like the Aronian scout's drawing, it was basically a cylinder with a sharp tip, nestled in a sling, with its long fuse extending out of its base. The platform was mounted on stone wheels, with harness for beasts of burden to transport it. A rectangular box sat at the back of the platform, with an aiming device built into it.

"The Hammer is fully prepared," said the woman. "All it needs is the release, and it will fly true."

Dom'ni only grunted as he ducked under the cylinder itself. He could only feel a grudging respect for the Shadows' engineers; they had firmly tied it to the launcher with straps that could be removed quickly and easily at a moment's notice. The cylinder was made of a cold, smooth material he'd never seen before. He tugged at one of those straps with one hand, as if testing its strength. His other hand reached into his sash and withdrew his explosive. He slipped it between the cylinder and its platform, unseen by anyone.

He straightened up and nodded his approval. The woman's eyes crinkled in both relief and amusement. "I'm glad nothing is wrong. We had to construct this very quickly and there were some...accidents along the way. Perhaps you would want to inspect the others before we use them?" Dom'ni only inclined his head and gave her his coldest smirk. She couldn't see his mouth through the mask, but he knew she saw his approval in his eyes. The Shadow's eyes sparkled coldly in reply as she said, "This way."

He smirked again, this time for a different reason. This is almost too easy. I must be doubly on my guard.

Dom'ni memorized the layouts of the four launchers. They were arranged in an arc between the Shadows' battle lines and the Aronians', all pointed towards General Hu'fase's stronghold. As he "inspected" and sabotaged each launcher, he listened to the conversation around him. As he worked on the fourth and last launcher, the Shadow woman's words caught his attention.

"What an irony, to have their own explosives turned against them. I understand their Weaponsmaster was quite proud of his escapade at the bridge. I'd love to see his face when the stronghold's collapsing all around him, Ja'an."

That brought some quiet laughter. Then a soothing voice reminded her, "Remember, we must take as many of the general's family alive. Our benefactor told us they're special; he wants them. For his generosity, I think it's a simple request."

Another voice chimed in. "One of our spies told us how the general visits his women every night. He has his favorite one and now she's carrying his whelp. What kind of leader would break those bonds of trust for his own satisfaction, Ja'an?"

Dom'ni froze, his hand wedged under the platform. The other Shadows murmured agreement, their voices louder this time. "Even more reason to wipe those dishonorable scum from our land," said the woman again. "They speak of honor, then turn and do otherwise. Disgusting. My mother would've slit my father's throat if she'd caught him doing something like that. Then she'd do worse to the one he was with. And you know...I would probably help her do it."

There was a roar of approval, then the second man said, "Good, Kel'li. You have such fire for one so young. I knew you'd be happier with us than sewing up skin tears and wrapping bruises. A Healer's life was not for you."

"I wanted to do what I could," the Shadow named Kel'li said, her voice quiet again. "I wanted to bring honor to my family. No offense to you and your Healers, Ja'an, but---"

"You do that," said Ja'an, and Dom'ni could hear the affection in his voice. Obviously, Ja'an and Kel'li were close companions. "You do, and the Gods willing, they will be so proud of you if you fall in combat."

She laughed. "I plan not to fall, but at least I know I've done the best I could."

Dom'ni withdrew his hand and clenched his fingers in his fist. The words were like a brand through his heart: He has his favorite one and now she's carrying his whelp. What kind of leader would break those bonds of trust for his own satisfaction? Hu'fase and Leen'da? He couldn't believe that. To be sure, he ran through the past year in his mind; no, every time the general was in the field, so was he, and the rest of the time, Leen'da was under Joh'leen's watchful eye. If anything had happened, Joh'leen would have been obligated to tell him.

And the pride and love in Leen'da's voice when she had told him her surprise. No, this was just another one of the Shadows' lies. One to rattle his nerves---

How would they know to say that particular lie at this particular moment? The unsettling thought brought him up short. He rested his hand lightly at the knife hidden at his side. The woman named Kel'li crawled up next to him, her bright blue eyes bearing into his.

"Everything all right for launch?" she asked. At his brusque nod, she breathed a sigh of relief. "We needed to get this in place before tonight's attack. Come, I'm sure your men are ready for your return."

He only nodded again and followed her from under the platform. As he straightened, he caught a strange expression on one of the Shadows' face, a portly one with an friendly look in his eyes. That look was one of regret and sadness. That look stopped him for a minute.

And his body reacted without conscious thought. His arm shot out and blocked a knife aimed at his midsection. Kel'li stumbled, off balance, and he pushed Kel'li into the stocky Shadow's arms, causing both to tumble out of the way. Dom'ni took the opening and ran for it. Other Shadows broke in confusion; some saw his uniform and moved out of the way, others joined in the pursuit. Dom'ni leaped over barriers and flew around corners, leaped over a wall and escaped into the woods beyond.

He stumbled and fell into a tangle of bushes. The thorns caught and ripped the silk Shadow uniform; he managed to wriggle out of the torn silks. That was when he realized his right hand was covered with blood. A piercing pain radiated from his right hip, and he traced the trickle of blood to its source. There, in his side, was a thin sliver of a needle, no bigger than his little finger. It looked so innocuous, but words from a long-ago time echoed within his mind: Poison. You don't even know you've been hit until it's too late. A woman's weapon.

A smile twisted his lips. It appeared that Kel'li the Shadow woman had proved her worth in battle.

Another voice in his mind echoed: Either he really wanted his bases covered...or there's another tomb here.

Another tomb. Someone buried with Hu'fase. Leen'da? Was the rumor actually true? Were they---? He closed his eyes against another hot wave of pain. He didn't even have the strength to move from where he'd fallen. I didn't even feel myself fall down. I can't even see anymore, I'm burning inside, I can't breathe...

Oh, God, I'm drowning.


He heard hurried footsteps come on either side of him. "Weaponsmaster!" blurted out one of his soldiers. "We saw you running out of the Shadows' camp...did you---"

"Yes," he whispered hoarsely. "They strike tonight...attack the stronghold...four platforms, four of them---"

"We'll tell them, Weaponsmaster." He could hear the tears in the soldier's voice. "Just relax. We'll get help."

"No..time..." Now he was cold, so cold that his teeth chattered. "My wife...the general---"

"We'll tell them you died with honor." Both soldiers were openly weeping now. "We will beat them, Dom'ni. We will do it for you."

"I---" His breath stuck in his throat. He couldn't get the words out; a wave pulled him away before he could. He found himself hurtling through a dark tunnel, filled with stars, completely disoriented, then...

He opened his eyes to bright sun, streaming through a window...

Bright sun? Where the bloody hell am I? He jerked upwards and nearly fell off the couch he was lying on, and the heavy knitted comforter slithered to the floor. The low table shone with deep cherry highlights and reflected the high shelves all around, shelves filled with real books...

Couch? Table? Comforter? Books? I'm in a library? A noise made him whirl around to see a familiar man in the uniform of a steward...in the Royal Navy. The man held a tray with a silver teapot, two cups, and a small server of sugar.

"Daniels?" he growled.

"I figured we could talk over a cuppa, Lieutenant Commander Reed," Daniels said. His eyes were darkly sober. "I need your help. This isn't over yet."

Nine

She felt him die.

It hit her all at once, a blow to her midsection, then a hot wave radiating from it to her limbs. A terrible burst of agony and anguish...then nothing. She stumbled and gripped the stones of the battlements, her nails scraping hard against the surface. Her breath came in gasps of pain; she much rather preferred the pain than the utter loneliness that flooded her body...

He's dead, Malcolm's dead...She managed to gulp in great breaths of air as her mind corrected itself: Dom'ni is the one who is dead. Daniels said he would save him, keep him safe from the Shadows. Malcolm's part in this is ended, and now we have to do ours...

She clawed herself back to awareness. The women crowded all around her, chattering like a flock of geese. "My Lady, what's the matter? What's happened? Is something wrong with the child? Get the Healer!"

Joh'leen---T'Pol, remember her real name, Hoshi---pushed her way through the crowd. "The Lady is ill, make way! Steward, can you carry her to her chambers? Tet'lunae, send for the Healer. Ra'si, send a runner to the general's camp; if the Weaponsmaster can be spared, he must come to his wife at once. The rest of you---back to your tasks. We must protect Lady Leen'da from the Shadows, and to do that, we must make sure the fortress is secure! Go now!"

The women scattered as if broken by an evil spell. Hoshi found herself being lifted by Ta'lat, the Master Steward and carried deeper into Hu'fase's stronghold. By the time they reached the chamber she'd shared with Dom'ni, the Healer and her assistant was there. T'Pol dismissed the Steward, and knelt at Hoshi's side as the Healer examined her. An eternity later, the Healer sighed and gestured for T'Pol to follow her, leaving the assistant with Hoshi.

"I fear for her life," the Healer said, not mincing words. "I have asked Assistant M'drea to give her potions to stabilize her condition, but this sudden shock has put her in danger. She is in no condition to be moved, if the Shadows attack."

"The child?"

"It is up to the Gods now," the Healer replied with a sad shake of her head. "I will do my best to help her recovery, but---"

"I understand." T'Pol swallowed, allowing her worry to show on her face. The cause of her worry was not what the Healer expected. Hoshi has to survive to repair the timeline. Daniels needs time on his side, but we no longer have the time. I must take things in my own hands.

The Healer shook her head again. "Please, stay by her side, Lady Joh'leen. Her husband is in the field, and she needs family around her now."

"Be assured that I will not leave her, Healer. She must live." T'Pol nodded as the Healer hurried off, presumably to fetch more medicines for Leen'da. She turned on her heel and returned to Hoshi's side. Her eyes were wide and glazed, but Hoshi seemed lucid.

"Are you comfortable?" she asked.

"Yes," Hoshi whispered.

"Then let us begin." T'Pol gently touched Hoshi's face, seeking the psi points there. She felt a tenuous connection between them; it began to strengthen, then strength began to flow from her to Hoshi. "H'rak dunoime," she whispered in Vulcan, and she knew Hoshi understood. "My mind to yours, my strength to yours..."

*****

Dusk fell over Hu'fase's encampment. Master Builder Kan'nar wiped grimy sweat from his forehead, but he surveyed his men's work with pride. The strange launchers weren't pretty, but he saw the deadly elegance in the simple design. Dom'ni's men grunted as they set the last cylinder in place and fastened it to the platform with straps. His smile turned nasty as he considered the havoc they'd make, once they turned the Shadows' weapons against them.

He leaned against the tactical table; Hu'fase had ordered it moved outside, so he could keep an eye on the situation and the build site at the same time. Kan'nar worried about Dom'ni; how was the Weaponmaster's mission going? Was he going to return? He'd damned well better return or I'll kill him myself.

Another slight tremor went through him; Kan'nar scowled again and looked around for its source. It had been happening all day, but when he'd asked everyone else if they'd felt it, they said that they hadn't. Kan'nar was more than willing to chalk it up to the build team, or his own overworked imagination, but his instincts warned him of something more sinister.

Then again, he'd always had the ability to feel things that others couldn't. The slightest vibrations through the earth, the rumble of a storm...

...the uneven rhythm of a warp core that wasn't perfectly balanced. He couldn't sleep unless it was exactly perfect...

A chorus of shouts interrupted the unfamiliar thought. Kan'nar whirled around to see two of Dom'ni's best men stagger into the camp, both bruised and bloodied. The commotion drew the build team's attention, and General Hu'fase strode out of the tent. Hu'fase gazed at the two men, then his face became a hard mask. Kan'nar felt a hard lump in his throat; he wanted to cry out, but found that he was paralyzed to the spot.

Dom'ni's men stumbled to their knees in front of Hu'fase. "Report," the general said in an icy tone. "Where's the Weaponsmaster? Was your mission successful?"

The older of the two looked up at the general, his eyes bloodshot. Kan'nar closed his eyes and knew the awful truth before it was said. Grief welled up in his chest, grief and rage.

"He succeeded, General, at a great cost. The explosives were placed where they should be; once the Shadows use their weapons, they will explode within their own compound. The Weaponsmaster escaped from them...but he was gravely wounded." The man took a deep breath, his voice suddenly failed him. It took him several attempts before he whispered, "He wanted you to know the Shadows have four platforms and they plan to launch them tonight."

Hu'fase closed his eyes briefly, then opened them again. "Then there is no time to waste. Master Builder!"

"General!" Kan'nar replied, his voice harsh but steady. His hand gripped the edge of the tactical table so hard his knuckles were white.

"Consult with the scouts and turn the platforms to face the Shadows. We will hit them first and destroy them utterly. With the Gods' blessing, we should hit some of their platforms and ignite them. The explosions should be visible even here." Hu'fase turned to his advisors. "Assemble the troops. We march tonight and strike the final blow."

"Yes, General!" the men shouted.

Hu'fase drew his sword and held it aloft. "For Dom'ni!"

"For Dom'ni!"

Kan'nar hurriedly consulted with the scouts and directed his men to move the platforms into position. He saw Hu'fase coming towards him with long strides; the green eyes were as cold as Dom'ni's had been, and there would be no mercy. There was something else in the general's expression that frightened Kan'nar even more.

"Leen'da," Kan'nar said quietly. "She's probably heard the news by now."

"Yes," Hu'fase whispered. "The news will break her heart."

"Her child...and Dom'ni's?"

The general's mouth tightened. "It's up to the Gods now."

Kan'nar swallowed hard and knew Hu'fase was right. The guilt and grief in his eyes were mirrored within Hu'fase's own. "Joh'leen will keep her safe."

"Yes." Hu'fase said. He clapped the Master Builder on the shoulder. "Launch the projectiles at moonrise, Kan'nar. We end this tonight."

"And you?"

His expression showed no emotion. "I'll be at the front of our troops. I owe Dom'ni a great debt...and a great penance." Before Kan'nar could question that last statement, he turned and strode away without looking back.

What the hell is that supposed to mean? Kan'nar shook his head and returned to his men. The sense of unease gnawed at him; a horrible dread lingered at the back of his mind. Keep her safe, Joh'leen, he silently pleaded. Keep her safe.

*****

The Healer returned to the Lady Leen'da's chamber with another dose of her potions. Her assistant kept watch at the door. No one was to disturb Lady Leen'da or Lady Joh'leen under any circumstances, save for the Healer. She raised her eyebrows at the silence.

"No one has disturbed them," said her assistant. "It has been utterly quiet."

"Too quiet," the Healer replied. "Open the door."

They both entered the chamber together. The Healer withdrew the curtain around Lady Leen'da's bed. The sight made her drop the precious beaker of medicine; it shattered on the tile floor. For the Lady Joh'leen lay in peaceful repose at Lady Leen'da's side, eyes closed, her hand clasping Leen'da's, and her face drained of all color.

Profile

trekwriter151: (Default)
trekwriter151

May 2012

S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728 293031  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 20th, 2017 02:15 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios