Well, I've realised that the only way I'm going to get this story finished is to try and get a more regular posting schedule going. To that effect, I have decided to post the chapters split up, basically scene by scene (depending on the length of the scene of course) as they are finished. That way I'm hoping I'll post more often and get myself a bit more motivated to write the continuation!
Here goes, then, with the beginning part of Chapter 20.
Jasto Dax’s Quarters
The deck bucked beneath his feet, forcing Doctor Malok to put a hand out against the wall. Struggling not to drop his tricorder, he cursed the battle going on around him.
Once the ship stopped shaking, he stood up straight and quickly scanned the two prone figures lying on the bed in front of him. Jasto Dax and Ensign Q’sar looked peaceful, no sign they had any idea what was going on around them. Lost in the mindmeld.
They had entered the meld mere minutes before battle had broken out. Malok had tried to separate them, but they had descended much further into the mindscape than time should have allowed. It was as though the moment the meld had been initiated, something had reached out and seized control. Their mental patterns had begun to merge together. Any attempt to separate them at this point could and would cause irreparable damage to both psyches.
He couldn’t leave them without a watchful eye. Which left him stuck in these quarters when other members of the crew might need him.
The deck shifted beneath him once again, almost sending him to his knees. He growled, then reached up to tap his comm badge.
“Malok to sickbay.”
“Keene here, doctor. Where are you? We’re in the middle of an emergency and we—“
“Belay that, doctor,” Malok snapped, his usual patience evaporating in the heat of the moment. “I’m in Lieutenant-Commander Dax’s quarters and I have a problem.”
Silence greeted his words, broken moments later by Keene’s voice. “What kind of problem?”
“I can’t explain over the comm line. I need you to send a medical technician down here to replace me.”
“I’ll get right on it,” Keene responded, and the comm line went dead.
Malok lowered his bulk to the floor, deciding that it would probably be safer for him to stay on his knees than to stay standing. He flipped the tricorder open, running it over the two bodies. No change. What by Sto’vo’kor is going on in there? he wondered.
Keene stood in the doorway of his office, Malok’s words still echoing in his ears. Lieutenant Dax. A problem.
He thought back over his last confrontation with Astrid Williams, and felt a smile spread across his face. This could be just the opportunity he had been hoping for. If he was right, the problem Malok had mentioned had something to do with the experiments in mind melds. Those experiments were being kept secret, but he had learned about them in Malok’s personal logs.
If something had gone wrong with the meld, Dax would be in a very precarious position. One that Keene could take advantage of. All he needed to do was get rid of the good doctor.
A young Bolian nurse approached him. Behind her, sickbay was already filling up with the injured and wounded, most from Deck 7 where a plasma conduit had exploded under the Laurentii assault.
“Is Doctor Malok on his way?” the nurse asked anxiously.
“He will be here soon, but he needs me to relay him for a special case.”
“Yes doctor.” She seemed relieved.
Once she was gone, Keene walked back into his office, allowing the door to close behind him. Over at his desk, he crouched down to reach the lowest drawer, secured by a numerical pad. He keyed in the password, a six-digit numerical code, and waited for the lights to turn green. As soon as they did, he pulled the drawer open.
Inside was a metal box. Keene had smuggled it aboard weeks before, passing it off as medical supplies. Pulling it out, he reached into the inner pocket of his white coat and took out a key. He hesitated for a moment – once he had used this, there would be no going back. He had one vial, and one vial only. If he needed it later… Pushing past his doubts, he inserted the key and twisted, popping the lid open.
The liquid inside the vial gleamed silver in the artificial light. Pure hadronym. A very potent poison. One that could not be traced. Causing a cascading series of heart failures, the poison would mask its effects behind natural traces. No autopsy would ever be able to identify the exact cause of death.
The perfect assassin’s weapon.
Keene pulled the vial out along with the hypospray that lay beside it in the box. He went to charge the vial, then remembered the warning the Ferengi who sold it had given him. Shaking his head, he slipped the vial in one pocket and kept the hypospray in his hand.
He closed up the box, slid it back inside the drawer and closed it behind him. The code would rescramble itself – the new code would be unknown to him, but he would never need to open the drawer again anyway.
Grabbing a medkit, he headed out of sickbay towards Dax’s quarters.