Thread: Heresy (story)
View Single Post
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 919
# 2
12-07-2013, 06:45 PM
Personal log: T'Laihhae i-Kanai tr'Aellih, Vice Admiral, currently assigned as commanding officer, RRW Messalina

I am a face in the crowd.

I walk along the narrow, busy streets of the Aecoran shanty town, and no one spares a second glance at a small, dark, unassuming Romulan woman in worn civilian clothing... because there are so many like me, so very many. Aecor is a fringe world, a marginal class M planet in Centauri sector space, once merely another agricultural colony world in the border zone between Federation and Star Empire... now, it is a refuge for castaways and survivors, civilians fleeing war zones as the disintegrating Empire split into warring factions, political exiles and common criminals seeking escape and anonymity.... As, I suppose, I did myself, in another time, on another world.

The planet's population has grown tenfold since Hobus. The refugees bring what resources they can with them, and it is never enough. The Federation does what it can - the Federation always means well - but it, too, is never enough. Aecor lives, just, staggering along on replicator rations and overloaded power grid, its few hospitals choked with the sick and crippled from a hundred fronts in a hundred petty wars, its native ecosystem - such as it is - increasingly under threat.

I am, among other things, an engineer. I see practical problems, I can envisage solutions. The supply of fully functional matter/antimatter reactors would solve the immediate power shortages in the cities, and work could then begin on setting up an integrated planet-wide EPS network. This would enable atmospheric regulators and weather control systems to be set up, which in turn would permit the reliable development of the intensive farming this planet needs to keep itself properly fed. There would be room, still, for the well-intentioned but economically marginal agricultural efforts of the original colonists... no one would have to be forcibly dispossessed.

I can see the solutions. They will not happen. The political situation is too volatile, the will to commit resources is lacking, in a galaxy riven by war, with a hundred worlds like Aecor in every sector, all screaming and pleading for help. If there is any help for these people, on this world, it must come as a result of the actions of higher forces.

I have not come here to help. But I have come to learn something, if I can, of those higher forces.

I turn down a narrow side street, into a still narrower alley, and still no one notices me. That is good; I choose, on the whole, not to be noticed. I had heard, from somewhere, that I was once considered for the command of the Lleiset. Not seriously, I hope. The commander of the Republic's flagship is a very visible, very public figure - and Tiaru Jarok, militarily efficient and strikingly photogenic, fills the role well. But I doubt if she could pass unnoticed in an Aecor slum.

The part I am in now is called Tanktown - the buildings, such as they are, are converted from industrial uses; cast-off freight containers and fuel tanks. It is a dreary place. The municipal power grid does not extend here; there are smells in the air from private generators, of various kinds, in various states of repair. A plume of foul smoke over one metal shell bespeaks a waste-burning unit; I hope that foul smoke is the worst I have to tolerate. I have heard of people using makeshift fission units, with depressingly predictable results.

The building I am looking for is a dull blue hemisphere, adapted from a Garganian cargo vessel's expended deuterium tank. It is near the intersection of two thoroughfares, dirt tracks only, with filthy water pooling in ruts. There is no door, only a curtain over an arched entrance, too low even for me to enter without ducking my head. I move the curtain aside, duck, and enter. No one notices.

Under the domed roof, it is dark. There is woven plastic matting on the floor, and a mattress to one side; as my eyes adapt to the darkness, I can see the figure lying on it. There are a few items scattered around; a battered portable computer, a chair, a lamp... I switch on the lamp, and there is a low moan from the figure on the mattress.

"Thyvesh," I say.

"Aaah," Thyvesh moans. In the scaly green face, his eyes open, blink a few times, focus on me. "T'Laihhae. Were you followed?"

"No."

"No...." He blinks again, several times, seeming to look past me at something only he can see. "No, that's right, you weren't followed. Good. Good."

He falls silent. I wait.

"Did you bring -?"

I have a small carrying case at my side; I toss it to him. "The data chips you requested, yes. And a few other things. Ration bars, mostly."

"Ration bars?" He opens the case quickly, his fingers moving in odd ways, as if his joints are more flexible than they should be. "Starfleet issue. Yes, you are working with Starfleet, now, I remember... You are, which one? T'Laihhae?"

"T'Laihhae i-Kanai tr'Aellih."

"Yes, but which one? Which ship?"

"The RRW Messalina."

"Ah. That one." He closes his eyes for a moment, opens them again, looks at me accusingly. "You went back."

"To Priyanapari? Yes. It was... necessary."

"It was, yes. Also ill-advised. No damage, though, this time. I think." He clutches his triple-ridged brow theatrically. "Sometimes it is hard to think. All times, actually. Food will help. Starfleet rations. I'll eat like a king. Have to hide them -" He peers vaguely around.

"I think anything worth stealing here has gone, long ago. Thyvesh, why do you live like this? You don't have to."

"Yes. Yes, I do. Turn off the lamp, T'Laihhae. It makes it hard to see."

I turn off the lamp, and the darkness becomes oppressive, but Thyvesh is not speaking of seeing with his eyes.

I met him at Priyanapari, between my escape from the remnants of the Imperial state, and my arrival at Virinat. What happened at Priyanapari - is another story. And not one I can tell, for those events, in many cases, never happened. I do not mean that in the euphemistic sense employed by intelligence agencies when they discuss their darkest covert operations. I mean that those events never happened, not in this time line at least, and I - the I that is T'Laihhae now - I have no memory of them.

But Thyvesh knows, dimly and fitfully at least. The last survivor of the Temporal Cold War, the oldest and most ambitious of the Suliban genetic augments - he sees, with senses other than sight. His brain is sensitized to chroniton radiation, so much so that his entire existence is partly desynchronized from normal time. He can see - things no one else can. And I have helped him, or some version of me has; so, from time to time, he helps me.

"There is a force at work," he says. I never know how much these visions hurt him. "Ancient, deadly. There are worlds in danger. I see ? Vulcan - "

"Vulcan in peril?" I say. "Like that image you showed me, once, of the planet destroyed?"

"No. Not the past. Not that time line. Now. Danger in the present. Other worlds too, Federation worlds ? I see something white, falling, something that should be snow, but is not. I see - blue skin, antennae - I see an Andorian. Dying."

Even Thyvesh normally makes more sense than this. I wait. Perhaps his vision will settle and clarify. Or perhaps it will not; I must be content with whatever I can garner. But he asked for this meeting, so he must consider it important.

Vulcan in danger... and Andoria? A threat to the heartlands of the Federation itself? It is something we must be ready for. If we can.

"Starships will fly, starships will burn," Thyvesh says. "A matter of - routine. All the time lines, all the strands in the weave of the world - always, death and burning. Listen. The power is strong, it is distorting things - I dare not look too closely. Which T'Laihhae are you, again?"

"From the Messalina."

"Yes. That's a good one. Yes. Listen, T'Laihhae i-Kanai tr'Aellih of the RRW Messalina. I have two names for you. One is from the present, it is Valikra i-Taronat tr'Damasau. One is from the past, and it should stay there, and it is Bresar. Turn on the light!"

I switch on the lamp, and Thyvesh's face seems to leap at me out of the shadows. His eyes are wild.

"I included a medical scanner," I say. "With the data chips, and the ration bars. Use it, Thyvesh, please. I - I worry. About your health...."

He flops back down on the mattress. "Yes," he mumbles. "I'll use it. Won't do any good, but I'll use it. Thank you, T'Laihhae. I like you best of all of them. You've got a good heart."

I say nothing. I never know how to answer, when he talks like that.

Then he says something else, something that takes my breath away. "Darus would agree."

I have never told him about Darus. I have never told anyone Darus's name. A few trusted people know some of the story, but only I, and Vorkov, know about Darus. And Thyvesh, it seems.

"Sometimes," I say through lips suddenly tight, "I think you see too much, Thyvesh."

"I know." A cracked laugh. "It's a failing. Go now, T'Laihhae. You need to be unseen. You can be, if you go now."

So, I go.

Last edited by shevet; 12-08-2013 at 03:16 AM. Reason: em-dashes, darn it, em-dashes. This is what I get for not writing it in Notepad.