Literary Challenge #45 : Freestyle
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Join Date: Jul 2012
07-01-2013, 06:58 PM
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
Blaise Pascal, human, Earth, 1623-1662
August 2411, Bajor
The shockwave blew out the windows to Colonel Ranchet's station. He was knocked to the floor. He immediately drew his sidearm and peered out the window. Even though he was a seasoned officer, it took a few moments for the truth of the situation to sink in. News of the secret peace talks with the Breen must have leaked out, and an angry party decided to make a statement. A blast powerful enough to knock out his windows eight kilometers away must have been strong enough to cause mass devastation in downtown Korto.
His fears were confirmed several minutes later. When the skies cleared, none of the towers in Korto were standing. Downtown was obliterated.
Ranchet knew that he had performed his tasks flawlessly. His department had screened every visitor for the past two months, so he was certain that this was home-grown Bajoran terrorism. That feeling did nothing to eliminate the waves of pain that rippled through his life for several months.
Ch'Raul sat down at the desk in his office and put his head in his palm. He took a minute to compose himself and then began recording.
"Counselor's log, supplemental. I just finished a mandatory counseling session with Lieutenant Commander Hillel. He is obviously frustrated about being reassigned from head of security to acting captain of beta shift. Captain Carter was a fool to couch the demotion in terms of 'broadening your experience base.' Even a first-year counselor knows better than to make that up.
"Hillel has always suppressed his emotions. That works very well when you are dealing with difficult command situations, but it doesn't work all that well when dealing with your own problems. His wife Isabella is trying to help him, but I feel like this is something that he is going to have to deal with own his own. No amount of cajoling will make him change thirty-six standard years' worth of habits. End recording." Then, after a brief pause, he continued. "And if he ever threatens me, I'm going to break his arm."
A female voice interrupted. "Append recording with current statements?"
Six standard weeks of leave did not come very often. Most officers took that time to visit family, spending weeks to reach homes flung throughout the Alpha and Beta quadrants. Others would visit tourist traps like Risa. Some would inevitably volunteer to work in order to earn a favor from their captain down the road.
The Hillel family did something stranger. They were from Earth, but they ended up on Bajor. Isabella Hillel knew why this had happened. Her husband Yair had been troubled ever since his "encounter" with the life-forms inside the Bajoran wormhole last year. Yair felt horrible when terrorists destroyed most of a Bajoran city a few days after he left the sector, and that sense never left him. Now Yair had dragged Isabella and Emily to Bajor in hopes of finding peace.
They checked into a hotel in Ashalla, but a few days later Yair rented an apartment on the outskirts of Korto. At that point it was clear to Isabella that Yair had no intention to return to duty on the Reaper, or to seek a new post on the Executor along with Captain T'Panna.
She hoped that this move would finally bring Yair some peace. She didn't understand his burdens but knew that they needed to lift soon.
I still haven't found my purpose yet.
I have been on Bajor for eleven days. Most of every day has been spent searching the comnet for jobs or walking through Korto, trying to find a way to make myself useful. Nothing has satisfied me.
Isabella wants to talk about our plans every night. I tell her that she knows as much as I do, but I will let her know when I figure it out. It is obvious that she is unhappy, but I don't know what to do about that.
Today I spoke with several organizations that are involved in rebuilding Korto. Most of them were uncomfortable with a non-Bajoran being a part of their security team, so I thanked them for their time and moved on. One woman asked why I was interested, and I made the mistake of telling her about my experience in what she calls "The Celestial Temple." She yelled in my face and called me a heretic.
The experience in the wormhole has ruined me. I can't sleep at night. Being intimate with Isabella isn't satisfying. Watching Emily grow fills me with dread because I feel like I can't provide a stable home environment for her to mature. I feel like every aspect of my life has been tarnished by that encounter. Why do they want me to suffer?
Three weeks later
I resigned my commission with Starfleet a week ago. A few days later a commander on Deep Space Nine offered me a position on the station. I told her that I'd get back with her, but I'm pretty sure that is not where I belong.
Of course, I don't know where I do belong.
The latest network alert grabbed Colonel Ranchat's attention. He quickly changed into civilian clothes and headed towards the underground transit. His handset provided real-time status on his target. Fifteen minutes later, he was on the trail of the latest suspect.
Ranchat checked to make sure that his earring was in place. In his private life he was one of the few Bajorans who clung to the
teachings. He had voluntarily left the mainstream faith in order to practice what he believed was the truth about the Bajoran gods. But when blending in public, he needed to look like an average citizen, so a nondescript earring was in his right ear.
Just take it out before I go home and see my wife
, he thought.
Seven minutes ago the target entered a medium sized park in a suburban neighborhood. Ranchat's handset told him that there were four exits, and that plainclothes officers had arrived to block off the other three exits. Ranchat smiled and pushed the handset into a pocket. Then he approached the target.
"It is a pleasant day, is it not, Mister Hillel?" Ranchat sat next to the human man.
The human looked confused. "I'm afraid that we haven't met. Your name is?"
"My name is not your concern," Ranchat replied. "I wanted to let you know that I have been watching you since you and your family arrived on Bajor. You have researched the rebuilding of Korto, the infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and military installations. It is clear that you are planning to disrupt my society further. I will not allow that.
"I am giving you a choice. You have one day - that is twenty-six hours - to leave the Bajor system. Leave, and do not ever come back. If you stay, I will hunt you down. I will not let you harm my people. Do I make myself clear?" Ranchat moved his jacket back to give the human a view of his disruptor pistol.
The human looked like he was about to cry. Ranchat recalled the details in Hillel's Starfleet profile. Could it be possible that this man had a legitimate encounter with the life forms in the wormhole? Ranchat was suspicious.
"I have broken no laws, but clearly you have been tracking me and have marked me as a threat. Do you really believe that a man who would abandon his career to move here and help your people is willing to cause harm?"
Ranchat stopped himself from a harsh reply. "My job is to protect Bajorans. It is clear to me that you are not helping us. If you are not helping, then what are you doing?"
"I have no idea," the human replied. Then he stood up and walked away.
A few moments later, Ranchat gave the order to let the human go. The plainclothes intelligence officer at the park's southwest corner let Hillel pass without incident.
Ranchat sat on the bench for several minutes, replaying the dialogue in his head. Seventeen years of experience told him that Yair Hillel was dangerous, but the look on the man's face was not that of a criminal.
Yair came home early, which surprised Isabella. She quickly ended her conversation on the comnet, picked up a padd containing a novel, and went to greet him. A short glance confirmed that he had no success today.
At dinner she decided to take a new approach. "You know how we have been talking about taking Emily home to Israel for Yom Kippur, right? I'm thinking that this would be a good year to do that. It's far enough out that your new employer should be able to give you the time off."
"That's fine," Yair replied without any enthusiasm. "Why don't we plan on the two of you going?"
"Does that mean you found something?"
I shouldn't have said that
, Isabella immediately thought.
"No. I just think we should be realistic, that's all."
That was the end of the dinner conversation. Afterwards Yair opened up the kanaar. He drank for a few hours and then fell asleep on the couch. He did not mention the timetable for leaving.
Bajoran security couldn't be more annoying if they wanted to
, Yair thought. Hourly reminders sent to his handset were driving him mad.
He told Isabella that he was going to Ashalla, but instead he headed for the nearly empty ski resorts in the mountains a few hours away. Fall was rapidly approaching, so the area was only lightly trafficked. He found a small trail that led to a four hundred meter vertical drop. It was the end of the trail, and the end of his trail.
He activated his handset's recording feature. "Isabella, I am sorry for the trouble that I have caused you. By now I see that there is no room for me here on Bajor. I really believed that I belonged here, that there was a place for me to help the Bajorans. But now I know that they don't want an outsider to help them, even an outsider that has been touched by one of their gods. Their prejudice confuses me, but I can't do anything to change them.
"Please head back to Earth and start life over again. I hope that you can forget about this place and move on. I love you both. End recording."
The phaser was cold in Hillel's hands. He set the beam strength to maximum and paused for a moment. Was this really the only way for him to find peace?
His handset chimed. It was an actual call, not the hourly text message reminding him to leave the planet. Hillel looked and saw that the caller was not his wife. He answered while leaving the phaser pressed against his lower jaw. "This is Hillel," he said.
An old man's voice replied. "Are you interested in baseball?"
"I'm sorry, I am afraid you have reached the wrong person."
"No, I have reached the right person, Commander Yair Hillel. I'd like to invite you to my house for lunch tomorrow, and then we'll head out to the diamond to catch a double-header."
Yair had no clue what this person was talking about. "Who are you?"
"Seriously? You must be the only person on the planet who doesn't recognize my voice. My name is Ben Sisko."