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Part of USS Helios: Threadbare Flags

The Loop (Interlude)

Exodus, The Borg Sphere, Talvath Cluster
Late 2401
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There is light. A light so bright it might as well be darkness, so bright its painful to look at but everywhere I turn it exists, pressing against me like a casket. Between the fine silk of the lining I can hear her voice, melodic and omnipresent. 

“Not Yet…”

I can hear the frustration in Hermira’s voice as she lets out an exasperated screech, her small fists smashing against the terminal as the circular glyph blossomed and melted away. A stream of choice expletives spewed from her clenched jaw, the most filthy and cruel insults from across the quadrant tumbling from her delicate crimson lips as she continued to wail on the now empty display, her tiny, curled hands, covered in dark henna patterns, barely making a dent in the settled dust. Only a few days ago she had been cackling with laughter alongside a Lieutenant in the lounge as they painted each other’s palms, practicing before the young human’s upcoming nuptials. She had been fighting for access to the control panel and its associated forcefield for several minutes but was defeated at every turn, her calm collected demeanour now filled with fury. He can hear the desperation that tinges her angry cries, the tears that begin to roll down her cheeks. She is out of options, he has won, he has adapted. 

Across the compartment Zaya tries an alternative tactic, I can hear the sustained serpentine hiss of their phaser beams. Alongside Khos, our freshly minted XO, they attempt to destroy the forcefield generators entirely, unloading cell after cell into the slender emitters recessed into the bulkhead. As the time stretches on I see them now for what they are, two sides of the coin. Khos is clearly panicking, beneath the burly confidence of a young officer I can see the tell-tale bulging of veins and grinding of molars as the field doesn’t waver. The young man’s hands clutched tightly, white knuckled against the stock of the rifle, he cannot see another option. Zaya looks as if she stands on the holodeck, testing a phaser rifle after stripping and servicing it, the calm confidence of a lifetime soldier. I wonder where she is; back on Cardassia Prime perhaps? Back amongst the tall tan arches of Central Command where her allegiance was questioned more than once but she was always found to be a true child of the Union. Or amongst the tall ears of corn on Ciman II where she had aptly fended off enemies with both phaser and rhetoric? Or perhaps she has taken herself away to the dark corners of Daedalus’ late night lounge, Labyrinth, her arms wrapped around an Andorian thaan’s shoulders, their fingers laced together as they shared delicate whispers. Regardless she is not here, she has seen the outcomes with the wisdom of the aged general; they both realise it. There is no escape now.

The flickering green light mocks us as it begins to flash brighter, the repetitive cycle of illumination growing in speed. He is pushing the ship too fast, in his race to make it to Coppelius he’s asking too much of a vessel that is designed to be administered and monitored by hundreds of drones. I can hear the crack of the hull the instance before it happens, before the barely contained power that allows us to mock the universe’s laws give up and we are wrenched back into reality with the silent thunder of a core breach that cannot echo through space. On the distant side of the room, her prone form upon a table, her body masked by the furiously concentrating figure of Brynn, our villain, I catch a glimpse of Rana’s pale face. I hear her voice in my head, the calm melody of her telepathy muffling the screeching of rending bulkheads and failing deck plates. 

‘Not Yet’.

Then there is a light, so bright it hurts to look at it. 

I can hear the frustration in Hermira’s voice as she lets out an exasperated screech, her small fists…