As might be obvious from the reference in my sigline that I've had for about one billion years, I've been working for some time on Star Trek: Revenge
. It's nearing completion, I think, so I thought I'd test the waters with the first couple of chapters.
The very first part may appear familiar to the kind folks who read my entry into the challenge for one of last year's months (exact dates elude me), and whoever's idea for that challenge it was, I want to thank, because when I wrote this for it, it gave me the idea for a framing device for flashbacks that has been of great utility to me, and, without spoiling anything, might give hints as to the ultimate events of the story.
STAR TREK: REVENGE
Back in the Black Room
(and less fun-sized here)
PART 1: THE UNDERSIDE OF THE SKY
That sick brass boy daydreaming
Cry-baby convict demon
Hands so clean
A sympathetic coldblooded killing machine
How did you get so mean?
Subject S./915265-001; memory complex 04838596715
Lakarian City, Cardassia Prime—2373
He awoke naked, on his back, in perfect darkness. No way to know how long he had been unconscious. No way to know what date it was. It would be months before he would accept this, but he had just begun his own new calendar. By the only reckoning there was, this was Day One.
He reached out with his hands and feet and his mind to feel the limits of his confinement. Two and a tenth meters in every direction they were stopped. He searched every surface for an imperfection, or even another object than himself. He found only one—the arrowhead of his communicator badge. He tapped it. He was not surprised when it replied in an unhappy chirp that it could make contact with no one.
The walls were stone, carved down below the threshold his sense of touch could detect any discontinuities, down to their molecules—smoother than glass, so slick they almost felt wet, the work of a transporter. The rock had been hewn out, not quite large enough for a man, and he had been deposited in its place. Beneath the surface, locked and lost, left to himself he would survive for only minutes as his oxygen supply dwindled and disappeared into useless carbon dioxide. Logically, he knew they had not gone to so much trouble only to let him die. But a small emotion whispered cruelly and relentlessly: this was a coffin, this was a tomb.
The wound in his chest had been crudely patched; it itched. He resisted the impulse to scratch at the incision. He knew what was beneath it, a small device, somewhat complicated. It was the source of the chemical that clawed at the margins of his self-control, and it could do worse. It was also, he realized at length, what kept him alive, and when he exhaled, it was oxygen again.
Though his body screamed that it had been invaded, with a thought he silenced it.
And for a long, long time there was nothing but silence, punctuated only by the slow, continuing pumps of his heart and lungs.
Then, the Voice, the only other Voice in the world. The Voice seemed happy. The Voice seemed to smile.
“Good morning,” it suggested unconvincingly. “What is your name?”
“Sylok,” he answered. “My first name is unpronounceable.”
“Yes, of course it is. Your position?”
“Commander, USS Shangri-La
, United Starfleet .”
“Very complete, good.”
“I believe you knew that already.”
“Yes, I did. But I wanted you to tell me. What is your place of birth?”
“What is the relevance of this question?”
The Voice seemed amused. “When we’ve conquered the Federation, we’d like to know where to return you.”
“We are not at war.”
“We have always been at war.”
“Where is my crew?”
“Where I can touch them, at my convenience. What is your place of birth, Sylok? Dosage up ten percent; please answer.”
“I was born in T’Pella Hospital, in T’Pella, on Kaven Island, Mirikal colony, Khalet system.”
“Yes, yes… very good. And what was your mission in the Chin’toka system?”
“We are not at war. I wish to see a neutral representative.”
“Dosage up ten percent.” He felt dizzy; he felt sick; he felt gravity more keenly than he ever had, and when he looked up into the black above him, it was an effort. “What was your mission
in the Chin’toka system?”
“To explore new worlds,” he said. “To seek out new life, and new civilizations. To go where no one before has gone.”
The Voice was silent for a moment; then it laughed, laughed for a long time. Its laughter was not vicious, but hearty, warm and amiable, as if they had shared a joke together. Finally, it replied, “Yes, of course. Of course. I suspected the drug might not work on you. You have defeated our chemicals, ignored our probes, resisted our gentle persuasion. The Dominion has other methods, Vulcan—I have other methods. And we have time.”
He felt the device grow warm.
“Time to get you accustomed to your new life. So much time to get you acquainted with our civilization. Yes, my friend!” The Voice laughed again.
Agony exclaimed from inside his chest, from the monster stitched beneath his collarbone. His flesh was replaced with fire that burned but could not consume. The solace of death was distant and theoretical. Only the implausible mercies of life remained, and, for the first time in his existence, he knew despair.
“We shall explore together.”