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Old January 2 2013, 03:58 AM   #106
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

************************************************** *************
Aodh Homeworld
One thousand years ago…

The young, short haired woman eased her way down into the deep crater, each step, and the occasional slide drawing a collective gasp from those assembled. She paused each time, more so to regain her balance than for dramatic effect.

It had been thirty passages since the great Fire in the Sky, which had brought something from the skies down to them, and cleaving a hole in good, arable land in the process. It was all as sign the clerics had said, that the sacrifice of the fertile land was small compared to the gifts the gods had placed inside their chariot.

Even though she wore the purple ritual robes and markings of the priesthood, she was no true believer. But a person of her breeding had obligations and she would fulfill them. What she lacked in faith though, she made up for in other gifts, including the silent tongue. She could speak to others without thinking and also project her thoughts to them, but only when she touched them. Just her family knew, and her father had forbidden her from sharing the truth with others.

While she considered the silent tongue a gift, others among her kind thought it was a curse. So she had hidden her true talent, like she had buried her faithlessness. Reaching the bottom of the hole, she paused, taking in the lump, which appeared to be a misshapen lump of crystal and iron.

She remembered the stories she had first heard, of the hardy souls that tried to go touch the great Sunstone. Some had been burned to a crisp, others horrifically scarred for their remaining years. Still more had died of poisons spewing from within the darkened environs.

“This will be a test of faith,” her rector-superior had told her, “Your test.” Perhaps he had wanted to be rid of her and merely devised a clever means to do so. Perhaps he had seen her lack of faith and was giving her a way to bow out of the priesthood. But this she could not do, because of family obligation.

So she had made the trek here to this crater, to gaze upon the already fabled Sunstone and then to attempt to divine its mysteries. She walked slowly towards it, again less for drama, and more out of fear. Insane thoughts ran through her mind of abandoning her quest, throwing away her robes, and moving far from her family and their damnable demands of tradition and duty.

She stilled those disquieting thoughts, lest they become too tempting. She inched glacially toward the Sunstone, the gathering above her watching her every step, their breaths hitching at every pause.

Now at the entrance, or rather hole within the stone, she paused once more, to gaze up at all of the anxious and hopeful faces, as if taking in her last glimpse of life. She fingered the sun medallion hanging from her neck. Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders and stepping inside.

She walked slowly, letting her breaths out in small bursts, testing each inhalation as if she knew what poison smelled like. As she walked deeper into the Sunstone, she realized it was much more than a rock. She didn’t quite know how to describe it. The best she could come up with was like a ship, like the barge that had ferried her here.

Now that her curiosity had taken hold, she continued going deeper inside. She was careful though to take slow, measured steps. Sharp objects jutted from the walls and were spread across the floor.

She lost track of time as she walked throughout the barge. It didn’t take her long to find the bodies. She had jumped at first, the crystalline creatures reminding her of the crawlers that pestered her and sometimes despoiled her food. The first sight of the larger crawlers had almost made her flee, but she had stanched that impulse and approached one. Poking it with the heel of her boot, she had realized that the creature was dead.

If it was a creature at all, because even through her boot toe hill she could tell it was not made of skin. The exterior felt hard and as crystal like as its appearance.

She wondered what manner of beings they were. Nothing in her texts had said such creatures existed. Looking forward to stupefying the sanctimonious rectors back at the rectory, she ventured even further, searching for other things she could use to upend their cloistered views.

Turning a corner, she eyed a soft, mesmerizing orange glow. In one room, off to the side she saw a large crystalline screen, with diagonal patterns. It gleaming, pulsing if not with life, some kind of power. And if she didn’t know better, it almost felt as if was calling her.

Stepping over one dead creature to reach it, she paused only a second before placing her hand against its smooth crystalline exterior. She shrieked, her body twitching in spasms as a torrent of images and emotions poured into her. She was touching a lattice, a way that these being communicated with each other, shared and stored their thoughts, and there were so many thoughts, a chorus of them, and so many images that came from a well of memories, for hundreds of years.

Her mind nearly shut down as it struggled to contain them all, much less make it all understandable to her.

Even after she wrenched her hand free, the woman, still in the clutches of the device, fell to the ground. Her mind reeled as she absorbed what she could, learning of beings and times that didn’t yet exist, from worlds far beyond her own. She didn’t know how long she stayed on the ground, only that when she was released, her stomach felt like it was eating itself and the smell of her own body clung around her.

She was dirty, she was stiff, tired and famished, but none of that mattered. Because she had communed with beings of fire, and now she believed. Not only that, they had told her of a great object of enormous power, even greater than the lattice, that would make her people great, so magnificent that they too would one day stride among the stars like the Fire Beings. That great power, like a sacred fire, was nestled within this barge.

She stood up, shaking off the tiredness and stiffness, allowing the knowledge of the Fire Beings to fill her and to guide her to the sacred fire and to her destiny.

The End
************************************************** ***************
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Old January 2 2013, 01:16 PM   #107
CeJay
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

You gave us a big chunk of story in order to wrap this up. Lot's of great stuff here, most notably of course the absolutely awesome time-travel ending. I love stories that end on an a-ha moment and I love time travel stories (just finished watching Looper. What a trip). The realization that this polaric ion device came to these people via the future and as a direct consequence of a battle between the Tholians and Erickson was just a terrific, mind-bending and fully satisfactory ending to this great tale.

Of course as you do in Dark Territory, you refrained from giving us neat solutions to all your plot lines, such as Andraste's escape and Donar's pledge to find her again and presumably bring her to justice. One wonders if he'd be more successful at this next time around though. Clearly the man still has certain feelings for his ex-wife and I liked how you brought Rojas back into the mix, just to complicate matters a little further.

Norrborn and Donar seem to have made peace with each other, which is good to see and I'm also happy that Redfeather survived and gave Donar her blessing, reaffirming perhaps that his journey from super-solider to Starfleet officer may at last be complete.

People mentioning Glover and his change since his imprisonment by Romulans gives me hope that we'll return to learn more about the goings-on of DT's most hated/beloved character in the not to distant future.

Awesome story, Darkush. So what's next? I remember at least two outstanding stories of yours which I'd really love to continue reading.
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Old January 3 2013, 12:14 AM   #108
DarKush
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

CeJay,

Thanks for reading and always commenting. I really appreciate the feedback. It was a tough haul, I had wanted to get it finished by December 31, but I guess the first day of 2013 is a good consolation.

Though I could tweak it further, I'm not. I am pretty satisfied with the results. Tai Donar has been a character that I hadn't really given much focus to and was glad that Gibraltar's Refugee Crisis idea gave me that opportunity, in addition to also revisiting the Erickson and fleshing out its crew. I've grown fond of them while writing this story. I would like to continue their adventures, but not sure yet when or how that's going to come about. Sometimes I worried that the story was getting away from him and his arc, so I tried to reestablish that. I also wanted to build a little on his relationship with Juanita, contrasting it to some extent with his failed marriage to Andraste.

As for Andraste, she is a loose end and I generally don't like loose ends. So if the right story idea comes along, you will see her again.

I'm very pleased that you liked the predestination paradox with the Tholians. I thought it would be a neat twist to have Narskene's crew wind up being the ones who started it all.

It was great fun writing the Tholians, even though I started developing them late in the series. I had been wanting to do a Tholian story for a long time but hadn't really come across a good way to use them.

With the recently minted Admiral Glover, I've been trying to figure out a good story angle for him. I haven't quite arrived at it yet, but expect to see him if in some form or fashion in other stories.

What's next? I do have to rewrite "Shadow Puppets" and to finish "Hero of the Federation". I intend to do those, and maybe add some additional vignettes to "Signs & Portents" to lead into "Hero". I also have some old stories I want to update that I might post sometime hopefully soon.
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Old January 12 2013, 08:27 PM   #109
Gibraltar
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

A remarkable and memorable ending to a fantastic story! I've always been a Tai Donar fan, but he really came into his own during the course of this tale.

The addition of his ex-wife into the story was a gut-punch for Tai, and I foresee one hell of a reunion for these two characters sometime in the future.

The crew of Erickson sacrificed some of heir dearest blood on this fateful assignment, one which proves the danger posed by the influx of refugee peoples into the Alpha Quadrant.

How ironic that the Tholians ended up locating a device they'd created, delivered back into their clutches (however briefly) after hundreds of years and thousands of parsecs.

I hope this isn't the last we'll see of Captain Redfeather and the crew of Erickson. This crew deserves another outing!
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Old January 12 2013, 10:42 PM   #110
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Gibraltar,

Thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. It was a fun one to write. I had some reservations about it and it was a struggle at points, but I'm very pleased with the final result.

I do wish there had been a chance to let Tai go full out on the pirates, but I when I thought more about it, I liked the tension between him doing that versus putting his crew first. And I'm glad he chose the crew. It helped tie it back, in my mind, to the initial set up and gave him something of an arc with this story.

I'm glad you liked the twist with the Tholians. As I wrote before, the Tholians were fun to write after I got a feel for them, and I liked the idea Narskene's ship actually being the reason the Aodh got the polaric ion energy device, in part due to the meddling from the Tholian Chronological Corps when they altered the timeline to hide any Tholian involvement.

The Erickson crew did grow on me and I hope to do something with them in the future. A spin off series wouldn't sound too bad, would it?
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