Stardate 75978.2; December 24, 2398
Episodes 95 and 96
Edited by Peter Bossley
Written by Chris Adamek
Ambassador Taylus Drayge
Admiral Kathryn Janeway
President Ghodan Makar
Lieutenant Jayla Trinn
Lieutenant Jamie Waltman
Special Agent Tiias Yanir
The sands of time have run out, Son of Durotan. Remnants of the past have scarred the heavens, but the cries of war still echo in the wind… A great darkness has spread across the galaxy, and the fate of our people is in doubt.
Many will rise to challenge their destinies, and lead our brethren into battle. But as mortal armies march toward their doom, demons of air and darkness shall come to consume us all.
You must accept your destiny, and lead our people into the new age, lest our passing into shadow will grow into the longest of nights…
* * *
Talyere Rosat was running.
Running from what, the Overseer knew not, but as his booted feet treaded the crumbling bricked staircase coiled around a seemingly endless abyss, he instinctively knew that he had to run faster. He absolutely could not allow himself to succumb to the evils left in his dusty wake…
“We’re almost there,” called Megan Reinbold, her voice strained by their rapid and continuous ascent. “Just two more levels!”
Obviously, the Commander had a bit more knowledge than Talyere. Not only did she seem to know where they were going, given her tone, she also knew why. Talyere was tempted to inquire about their apparently dire situation, but he suspected this was not an appropriate time for conversation. He would simply have to investigate later…
Assuming there was a later.
Leading the group up and around the winding staircase was Lucas Tompkins. And while Commander Reinbold seemed to know what was going on, the determined look on Commander Tompkins’ face was all the assurance that Talyere needed to continue. Beneath the layer of soot on his face was the façade of a man obviously in control of his destiny. Whatever their cause, Talyere had faith that it was just…
As the trio approached a small landing atop the endless chasm, Tompkins immediately withdrew his tricorder and scanned a small patch of dilapidated brick on the wall. For a brief moment, he seemed perplexed by the data flitting across his screen, but after planting a few decisive commands into the scanner, his tension eased. The bricks fizzled away, replaced by a complex computer terminal that seemed out-of-place in this ancient setting.
On the sight of the new workstation, Megan Reinbold hastily delved into her tricorder’s archives. She worked in silence for a fraction of moment, her actions almost immediately eliciting a series of small pictograms that matched those on the workstation. She showed the data to Tompkins, who subsequently input this new data into the computer.
It accepted the new information with a flat chirp, and hastily started to process its new commands. After a few moments, Talyere could see a glint of ashen light swirling in the bottom of the abyss. Curious, he started to maneuver himself a bit closer to the edge, but Reinbold’s arm held him back.
“We’ve come too far to see you drop into the abyss,” she said wryly.
Apparently, Talyere was supposed to see the humor in her witticism, but with his memory in its current state, he saw nothing more than an enigma. Was he suffering from some sort of neurological disease? Had portions of his memory been wiped? He knew not—and until he was a bit more certain about the situation, Talyere decided to simply heed Reinbold’s warning. He stepped aside.
A blur of light suddenly streaked up from the abyss with a gust of stagnant air—and when it came to rest, some sort of glass turbolift hovered ominously before them, simply waiting for the group to step inside.
Satisfied that this was indeed the intended effect of his actions, Tompkins climbed the few remaining stairs and stepped inside the glass turbolift. Reinbold excitedly followed, taking the ancient steps two at a time until she stood beside the engineer. Talyere, for his part, found himself feeling a bit frail…
He had apparently been through some sort of exhausting ordeal, but… of course, those events were a complete mystery to him. Still, time was apparently of the essence, and moving as quickly as his body would allow, he stepped into the turbolift.
The doors immediately clanked shut behind him—and even before he could get his footing, the glittering tube shot skyward, blasting through the ceiling and into the deep blue skies of a rugged, mountainous world.
Moving at unfathomable speeds, the lift soared into the billowing white clouds high above the towering citadel below. Though the ashen mist obscured his view of the structure, Talyere could make out its general design—a tall ivory tower ringed by a cadre of immense dragon-like gargoyles. In the shadows of his frantic mind, Talyere could sense a hint of familiarity, but the structure had long ago given way to the clouds…
A minute later, the lift came to a decisive halt. By Talyere’s estimate, they were hovering several kilometers over the citadel—but his companions, who insisted he hurry to their side, promptly interrupted his calculations.
“Come on,” said Reinbold, waving Talyere out of the lift. “We don’t have a lot of time left!”
Trying valiantly to play along, Talyere abandoned the lift and came to a halt at Reinbold’s side—but apparently, his face betrayed him, and the confusion harbored within his soul made itself known.
“Is something wrong?” asked Reinbold. When he didn’t answer immediately, she took a moment to consider the question herself. “You’ve been acting a little strange recently—much quieter than usual. Are you sure you’re up to this? We don’t know what’s up ahead… and if you’re don’t think you’re ready for it, maybe it would be best if you—”
Talyere shook his head. “No,” he stated firmly. “I am fine. Let us proceed.”
And for once, he knew exactly where they were headed—for there was only one place to go. The manic lift had deposited them just outside the doors of a small fortress floating high above the ivory citadel. It was of an ancient, rustic design similar to the grounds below, but in far better shape. Apparently, there were few who dared to venture here…
Eager to reassert himself as … whatever it was he was supposed to be… Talyere ascended the few steps leading to the pair of massive doors up head. They were made of grayish stone and lavishly decorated with carvings of dragons and tears; the eons had weathered away many of the descriptive pictographs, but… the beauty remained.
Talyere stood in admiration of the etchings for only a moment, however. Curiosity demanded he open the doors—and he willed himself to do just that… But in spite of the commands, Talyere found himself just standing there, listening to the thunderous pulse pounding in his head…
The doors opened.
Talyere glanced down and noticed the dagger in his hand. He smiled thinly.
Reinbold glanced up, anxious. “What are you waiting for, Talyere? Kill him!”
He nodded, and prepared to strike…
Tiny droplets of crimson blood fell to the ground as the blade pierced flesh. There was a scream! A gasp!
Reinbold’s eyes went wide as she pulled the bloodstained blade from her abdomen. Unspoken words danced on the tip of her tongue, but…
And Talyere’s ashen lips curved upward in pleasure.
And suddenly, the Overseer bolted up in his bed. It was just a dream…