by *William Lindsay and Zanh Liis
Immediately following Hellfire
Soundtrack: A Rush of Blood to the Head
and Amsterdam by Coldplay
-=Main Engineering, Romulan Vessel=-
Immediately following Hellfire
Soundtrack: A Rush of Blood to the Head
and Amsterdam by Coldplay
-=Main Engineering, Romulan Vessel=-
"Keirrraannn," Liis groaned, drawing his name out in two distinctly separate, dragging syllables. She was growing woozy from the pain and fighting to stay conscious. "Don't yell at them. They're doing...the best they can."
The last thing she wanted was for Blane and Lindsay to take any foolish chances with their lives hurrying back on her account. She wanted them to do whatever they had to do, at whatever pace they had to do it, to get out of this in one piece.
"But you're hurt," Keiran fretted, brushing her hair back out of her eyes with hands that were astonishingly gentle, especially given their size. "They need to stop throwin' shapes and get on with it."
"Hurt? Nahhh. 'Tis but a scratch..." Liis quoted the old joke between them to try to erase the expression of pain from his face; a look that was harder for her to bear than the physical sting of her injuries.
The joke had been established, she remembered, when he'd first started teaching her how to fence. It was after a particularly dismal and frustrating lesson early on that he'd told her the amusing tale of King Arthur and his duel with the denial-prone Black Knight.
She also recalled vividly how his eyes had lit up as he feigned an accent different from his own while reciting every line, and how handsome he had looked when he reacted to the sound of her laughter at the end of the story.
It was, he explained later, the very first time he had ever heard her laugh truly and deeply. Over anything.
She reached upward now and her fingers grazed the shard of twisted metal that was protruding from her punctured flesh, lodged in between her collarbone and her shoulder.
"No, 's not..."
"No, it is not."
Keiran and Salvek replied in unison.
As concerned as Salvek was for Liis right now, he was not a doctor and could not treat her. Neither was he exactly the type suited to offering comfort and besides, Keiran seemed to be doing that for both of them.
Nothing in the universe could drag O'Sullivan's mind from his wife now, and one glance in his eyes could tell you his heart was breaking.
Salvek was, however, an engineer; and so had set to work trying to boost the transponder’s signal through the Romulan vessel's own communications network. Obviously the interference, whatever was causing it, was blocking the Sera from locating them; as were he able Dabin Reece would have beamed them out the moment they lost communication.
Even as Salvek spoke he never turned his eyes from the panel which held him transfixed. As a Vulcan he could claim it was because there was no logical reason to turn around to speak, but were he any other species there’d be no doubt it was because he had to struggle to look at her like this.
Keiran tried to pick up Liis' joke where she'd left it, but found he hadn't the strength for humor now even if, somehow, she still did.
"It's just a flesh wound!" Liis continued, refusing to give up until at least the hint of a smile appeared on his face."See?" Before Keiran could stop her, she grabbed and pulled the piece of shrapnel free, tossing it aside.
Immediately, she knew she'd made a monumental mistake.
"All right," her words slowed, her vision dimming as unconsciousness beckoned. "We'll call it a draw."
The room spun. As her eyelids began to feel heavier and heavier, she thought to herself that if one out of five lives were lost before this ended and that life was hers, she would have no problem accepting that outcome. She just didn't want the threat of her injury to cause harm to any of the four men who were here with her, each of whom meant so much to her.
"God in Heaven," Keiran gasped, as she began to bleed profusely from the wound. He tore a sleeve from his uniform and stuffed it into the gaping void left by the shrapnel, applying forceful pressure to try to stem the torrent.
Liis groaned in pain and tried to push his hand away with a weak, flailing motion of her right arm.
"Am sorry, a chuisle," he raised desperate eyes toward Salvek. "We can't wait for them. Got to get her outta here now."
Salvek sighed softly, slowly shaking his slightly downcast head. There was something he’d been afraid could have happened and as he’d just confirmed the transponder’s connection, he now saw that it had. With no more to do here, he turned back around, just standing and observing the star-crossed couple in their tragic moment.
Liis' head rolled to the side, and Keiran took hold of her chin and tilted her face back toward him as he knelt beside her on the deck. He raised his deep voice to a shout in an urgent attempt to try to reclaim her attention.
"Zanh Liis! Eyes front, mind? You've gotta stay awake."
"O'Sullivan," she slurred softly, sleepily, as if halfway between dreaming and waking. "I'm fine. You've got to help...Thomas....and Will. Don't worry about me."
Keiran and Salvek exchanged a glance. Blood was now pooling on her chest, having soaked through her shirt completely despite Keiran's attempts to stop it. Both men knew that there was a great deal of reason to worry.
“I am sorry,” Salvek said gently, “It appears the fire has severed the data lines prior to their reaching a termination node. My aim was for the transponder’s signal to be relayed between nodes, using the ship’s power as an amplifier. That will no longer be possible.”
[Look, we’re trapped here,] said TC Blane over the still open channel, his mouth arid, his lips cracked and bleeding from the heat. There were flames biting up from behind him and scorching the ground to which they were pinned, the air so hot that it hurt to even inhale. [Move out now. Get to a shuttle.]
“No,” Keiran replied, though he had certainly considered it.
They might even have been able to access a shuttle craft with transporters and beamed Blane and Lindsay with them. He would have dragged Liis along with him if he thought it possible, but their scans showed that the fire had them completely cut off from the shuttle bay.
Effectively they were trapped, too.
Had they moved earlier they may have had a chance, but not now.
[Christ, Keiran. This is not the bloody time to get sentimental. Move!] Lindsay demanded as best he could with the smoke almost taking his voice and the dehydration taking his energy.
“I am afraid that option is no longer open to us,” Salvek announced, facing the prospect of death with all of the dignity befitting both a Vulcan and a Starfleet officer. The ship was dying with no such dignity and seemed to be screaming in agony as the heat stretched it further.
The fire, as fierce a war as it was waging, wouldn’t even get the chance to finish off the ship. They were now merely seconds away from the plasma back up. The electromagnetic field, which was the source of the interference, reaching critical.
Then a thought struck Salvek, his face practically lighting up in a way few people would ever get to see. “Mr. Blane, are there any tan and green wires approximately twenty-three millimeters in diameter near your location?”
[Can’t see much of anything,] TC replied. He’d been stuck crawling behind Lindsay when they were trapped here, and so was not met with the most desirable view.
[Yes, there are!] Lindsay cried out in disbelief. They were right in front of him.
“Those are the ship’s data lines. It may be possible to use two communicators tuned to the same band frequency as replacement nodes.”
[Whata’ we havta to do?] Lindsay asked. His eyes burned with sweat and chemical fumes, his skin felt like it was about to be charred from his bones.
“These particular lines are only fitted to deal with connections to higher epsilon band. Our communicators do not presently operate on this band and will need to be re-tuned. I anticipate this will take approximately three minutes.”
There were now only eighty-four seconds left before the ship exploded.
[Mine already is!] Lindsay forced out, it was a standard frequency used within Temporal Investigations.
“Then I need only re-tune my own,” Salvek replied, prying open the case on his communicator. This process should still take three minutes.
There were now seventy-three seconds before the ship exploded.
[Wait, I gave…] the air overcame Lindsay now, he couldn’t breathe and definitely couldn’t speak.
“Gave me,” Liis managed to mumble, in her barely conscious state.
Keiran could guess what she meant. “Will, did ya give Liis a badge from yer ship?”
There were now sixty-three seconds before the ship exploded.
Lindsay couldn’t speak but he could nod very viciously.
[Yes!] Blane answered for him.
Keiran grabbed the combadge from her chest and threw it to Salvek. He caught it, immediately cracked open the casing and began fixing it to the panel.
“You need to attach the alt five port directly to the lines,” Salvek told them, he’d already done it on his side.
Lindsay pulled his communicator open, he could barely see and he could hardly think with the heat so he was really hoping that he chose the correct port. He stripped the casing from the lines with his bare hands and held the communicator in place in order to maintain the connection.
The two communicators were working and the signals about to be broadcast when a very loud bang sounded over Salvek’s head. Sparks came flying downward at him, and the power began systematically cutting out across the ship.
He jumped out of the way to avoid the sparks but couldn’t avoid the conclusion that without power, his plan would not work.
Blane could hear silence overtaking every other sound around them; the death knell of Romulan technology suffering catastrophic failure.
[What the hell just happened?] Blane rasped, struggling to speak, himself.
There were thirty seconds left before the ship exploded.
“A minor power conduit has overloaded,” Salvek advised. Minor, but it one of the few ones left working. “We have nothing suitable to replace it with.”
Liis knew something exactly the right size and which was designed to cope with enough power for what they needed to do. The only problem was her arm wouldn’t move as she tried to get it.
Keiran saw her struggling “It’ll...It…” he tried to tell her that things were going to be okay, but couldn’t bring himself to lie to her.
There were eighteen seconds left before the ship exploded.
She shifted, just enough for her compass to fall out of her pocket. Keiran was shocked to see it, having no idea how or when she'd come to be in possession of it again. He was not, however, at all surprised when he also saw that it was dark. The instant he'd recognized the device, he’d accepted that it would be.
TC Blane knew now they would die, and there was something he had to say. [I…]
Then Keiran cut him off. He realised what Liis was thinking and hurled her compass at Salvek “Use that,” he demanded.
As a former Temporal Investigations agent himself, he knew she was right; that the compass could take it. Looking down at Liis again, though, he wondered if it wasn’t too late already.
"Keiran," she murmured to him softly, unable to keep her eyes open any longer. "Thank you." With her remaining strength, she tugged at the ring on his left hand.
He understood her loud and clear. She wanted him to know that she was thankful for all he'd done, all he had suffered so that they could have the chance to be together again, even if only for a little while.
Keiran could not help but consider with bittersweet gratitude that his many prayers that he would never lose her and never again have to spend a moment without her by his side looked as though they were all about to be answered. This creaking, dying ship was doing its damnedest to take them both with it, but at least it was taking them together. With their deaths they may finally find the peace in their love that so eluded them in life.
There were seven seconds left before the ship exploded.
Salvek had to jump to fix the compass in the gap left by the overloaded conduit. Just releasing it before it locked into position, and the power fried him. Throughout the ship systems began to come back online and the transponder started broadcasting.
Its signal bounced back and forth between the communicators, getting stronger and reaching out to the Sera.
-=Main Bridge; USS Serendipity=-
“Sir, the Captain’s transponder is broadcasting again,” Tenney advised.
Standard protocol was to open communications and to confirm the Captain wanted to beam back, but that was impossible with the interference.
There were four seconds left before the ship exploded.
Luckily, that was standard protocol and this was Dabin Reece.
“Beam them back now!” he ordered.
The transporter room locked onto the transponder signal but it was being bounced around too much to get a fix. They located the end points.
The plasma pressure reached critical and ignited.
The transporter operator started the beam out.
The chain reaction hit.
The transporter operator only counted four life signs.
The Romulan ship was destroyed, taking Liis’ temporal compass, Taris, and everyone left on board with it.
The Away Team materialised on the transporter pad.
Liis’ life sign had been too weak to register on their equipment but she’d been carried along, in Keiran’s arms.
She had closed her eyes thinking how grateful she was that at the very least, she would fall asleep for the last time wrapped in his embrace; her head resting against his strong and steady shoulder.
The men she'd both sworn to protect and also entrusted with her life, however, refused to acknowledge that as an acceptable outcome.
They had not deserted her.
They had not faltered.
They had not failed; and because of them, she would wake from the nightmare to find instead she'd made it home alive.
Captain *William Lindsay
(as told by Rada Dengar)
-=/\=- Zanh Liis
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
NRPG: Mister Dengar's plan integrated the tiniest details of the plot arc so intricately it's nothing short of shocking. He took the smallest things- my decision to have Will swap out Liis' badge at the beginning, Mister Blane's hidden transponder, the return of Zanh's compass, all of it, and made it work seamlessly- and he made it look easy, which I assure you, it was not.
Rarely in more than a dozen years of collaborative writing and having worked with literally dozens upon dozens of writers, have I ever been as proud to share writing credit on a series of posts with anyone.
I'm humbled to be able to do so with these Lindsay/Zanh posts.
Thank you, Rada. I may have created William Lindsay myself- but you have made him breathe and live. ~ZL