CAPTAIN’S LOG: STARDATE 73016.8: The Starlight has retreated to Starbase 241 in order to commence a more thorough search for our infiltrator. Until he is found, the ship has been placed under quarantine. No unauthorized personnel are allowed to leave the ship under any circumstances.
Meanwhile, the situation in the Alteran Expanse continues to worsen. Since Talyere’s capture, two more Elorg Warships have emerged from subspace; more are feared to be coming, but without Talyere, we have no good way to speculate their probable course of action.
And finally, it’s been nearly a week since Lieutenant Meyer’s accident, and her condition is still unchanged. I suspect some difficult choices are on the horizon…
Watching never seemed to help. For almost a week, Erin Keller had been watching, and for an equal amount of time, Rachael Meyer had lain dormant on her deathbed, her condition not wavering in the slightest. Doctor Hartman had managed to stabilize it, but even that was uncertain. There was always a chance Rachael’s condition could worsen…she could be gone in an instant. So Erin watched.
Sometimes she would simply sit and stare, attempting to convince herself that the body on the bio-bed was the same person she laughed with at breakfast every morning. Other times, she would talk to Rachael, hoping her voice would stimulate some sort of a response. It never did, but the sentiment was there.
But most of the time, it was silence, during which Erin did a lot of thinking. She thought about all of the friends she had seen fall in the line of duty, and recounted each of their faces, from her parents to Captain Greene. It was a long list, and each time Erin thought about it, it seemed to get longer.
If she had been the only one on this deathwatch, Erin knew she wouldn’t have had the stamina to endure. She would have come to a decision on Rachael’s fate long ago, and probably would have regretted it for the rest of her life. But she wasn’t alone, and for that, Erin was thankful.
She suddenly felt a pair of hands on her shoulders. They gently massaged her fears away, and almost brought a smile to her face. “I guess time’s up?”
The massage stopped, and Alan Christopher came up alongside of Erin, nodding. “You’re needed in astrometrics,” he said, turning his attention to Rachael. “Anything?”
“Nada,” said Erin.
“We’re going to have to make a decision… soon.”
Those weren’t the words Erin wanted to hear. She kept hoping that Rachael would magically awaken, and things would return to normal. She hoped that, just once, her life could play out like a fairy tale and everyone would live happily ever after. Once wasn’t a lot to ask for… “Thirteen people,” she muttered under her breath.
“What?” asked Alan softly.
Erin blinked, not realizing her stray thoughts had manifested themselves in her voice. “That’s the number of people close to me that have died. At first, I just picked up the broken pieces, put them back together the best I could, and moved on with my life. But as I look back…I keep getting older, and they don’t. I’m beginning to resent it, Alan.”
“We all die, Erin,” he replied softly.
It was a cold reality, but one Erin had yet to accept. She knew that, one day in the distant future, it would be her friends (the ones that remained) gathered around a bio-bed on deathwatch. “I could be vaporized tomorrow,” she realized.
“I most certainly hope not,” said Alan. “You’d be missed.”
Now he was just humoring her. “By who?” she challenged. “My parents are dead. Aside from Brian, I don’t have too much in the way of family…”
Suddenly, Alan placed a hand on her shoulder, and met her cold gaze. “I would miss you,” he said softly, and suddenly, her pessimism began to fade away.
The utter sincerity in his voice sent a chill down Erin’s spine that seemed to resonate in her chest. “That’s so sweet,” she said, smiling warmly as she relinquished her seat to him. “So I’m wanted in astrometrics?”
“Yeah. We’re trying to identify the two new Elorg vessels, but we’re having trouble penetrating the Alteran Expanse. Conveniently, it seems to be a bit more active than usual. I suspect our friends, the Elorg, are up to no good.”
Erin sighed. “As do I…”
“What is your name?”
It had been practically seven cycles, and Talyere was pleased to note that Xi’Yor had yet to get much further than the most basic of interrogation questions. Not that Xi’Yor was a poor interrogator. No, in fact, Talyere had sat in on countless interrogations. Xi’Yor had proven himself a brilliant interrogator. Only, then Xi’Yor had been questioning spies, military officers, or civilians that seemed to know too much. They weren’t trained to counter him.
Talyere was. “My name is Talyere Rosat,” he said. Since Xi’Yor already knew that, he figured he would humor the Overseer.
“Rank?” demanded Xi’Yor.
“Overseer,” said Talyere bitterly.
Xi’Yor nodded, and slowly started circling the cold, metallic chair that was confining the renegade Overseer. Talyere recognized this maneuver as one Xi’Yor performed when he believed he was about to make a breakthrough… Little did Xi’Yor know, he wasn’t.
“Where were you born?”
“On the City Ship,” said Talyere.
Xi’Yor’s circle came to a halt directly in front of Talyere. As he lowered his face to Talyere’s level, the harsh lighting seemed to banish any definition from Xi’Yor’s face. It was simply a white blob with two blazing orange spheres where his eyes were. The sight almost made Talyere laugh.
Xi’Yor came within a couple of centimeters as he asked, “What do you know about the Federation’s defenses?”
From the sound of Xi’Yor’s voice, he was confident that Talyere was about to break. The interrogation would soon be over, and Talyere’s corpse would be en route to the City Ship as a trophy. Or so Xi’Yor hoped. But the only answer he got was a considerable ball of saliva directed at his face.
Xi’Yor was brought aback by the startling projectile. He wiped the drool from his face and cast it aside. Talyere heard it hit the floor a few moments later. He had given Xi’Yor more than he had anticipated. No matter, the Overseer had deserved it.
Enraged, Xi’Yor retraced the steps he had taken in his retreat and without any hesitation, gave Talyere a glancing blow to the jaw with the back of his fist. As he stepped back, Talyere could see liquid on Xi’Yor’s hand yet again—a black liquid Talyere knew was blood. “I will allow you one last chance to provide the data I require,” he sneered before adding, “then things will turn unpleasant.”
Talyere shrugged. “So be it.”