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Part of Starbase Bravo: Q2 2400

A Death Back to the Future, VII

Infirmary 4
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Infirmary 4  – 2345

Henry Longfellow drained the coffee cup and went to the replicator for a refill.  The hours since T’shalaith had dropped the bombshell of her desire to load her Katra into him and then have her daughter transfer the Katra into a Katraic Ark had passed fitfully for the physician.  Major Tulak had not returned to discuss further objections or requests.  Longfellow had done his own passive research into whoever or whatever was seeking T’shalaith but had come up with only a few half-baked clues that would need time to cook further.  Her daughter, Palisa Jacobson, was scheduled to arrive first thing in the morning with a group dedicated to the task of transferring her mother’s Katra to an Ark for safekeeping.  He took his refilled coffee and returned to his stool beside the bed of his patient.  He pulled out a PADD and rechecked the process.

She glanced at him weakly, “You have my utmost respect for this decision, Doctor.”  Her condition had worsened in the hours since they had last talked.  They’d done what they could with pain relief but she had instructed them to stop the dosing two hours ago.  She needed a clear head and body to do what she was about to do.

Longfellow bit his bottom lip, “I’m as nervous and scared as can be if I’m honest.  This isn’t something there’s a lot of study on.”  He leaned forward, “You’ve been very clear with your promise.  I just need you to know where I’m at in this moment.”

She gave him a slight nod, “It is not an easy task, Doctor.”  Her coughing interrupted the conversation for a few minutes.  She sighed as it came to an end, “Pain is a necessity…but after so many years of it…I wish to be free of it.”  She looked him the eyes this time, “Thank you, Doctor Longfellow.  I am grateful for your kind heart.”

Henry shrugged, “Your daughter sent you to me for a reason.  I think she knew I’d do anything to save you…including this.”  He gestured to the nurse who stepped next to him, “She’s going to observe me and you.  The officers in charge of cremation are just outside.  She’ll escort them the short distance to make sure nothing untoward happens.”  The nurse gave a solemn nod.  “I’m ready.”  The nurse adjusted T’shalaith’s bed so she was sitting up.  The Vulcan squirmed in pain but shook her head at the nurse’s reaction.  Soon she was upright.  Longfellow shifted his stool close enough to her so she could reach him.  She extended her arms and with the nurse’s help, placed her fingers in position on the face of Doctor Longfellow.

T’shalaith’s breathing became heavy and labored as she closed her eyes, her mouth moving without speaking.  The air became closer as she muttered, her fingers pressing into the face of the physician.  Longfellow felt a trace of pain shudder through his body as his head began to ache, his mind filling with scattered thoughts that were not his own.  The sound within his brain began as a whisper and then quickly became the roar of a warp core rumbling inside him.  He winced and fought to stay still as the process continued.  T’shalaith felt her spirit lighten, and her body growing cold.  A moment longer as her hands began to ache, her fingers burning.  She pressed harder, feeling the last pieces of her mind falling away.  Her last words whispered from her lips, “Remember….” and she roughly fell back into the bed, the alarms alerting to her declining heartbeat.  The nurse watched and waited as each life sign faded to a slow, and then a stop.  She placed her hand on the pulse of T’shalaith and found none.  She ran one last check with the computer and it was confirmed.  She tapped the console, “Record time of death of T’shalaith at 2403 on 3.20.2400.”  She turned to Longfellow and guided his stunned state to the next bed and ensured his vitals were acceptable.  She motioned to the crew and they loaded the empty shell of T’shalaith onto a transport bed with a cover to ensure privacy.  They left the infirmary.

Longfellow felt himself being gently moved into a bed and then the world faded to black.  He stood in the darkness, listening for a sound.  It was quiet.

“You completed your part, Doctor.”  He spun to face the shimmering visage of T’shalaith, standing and looking healthier than she had when she’d arrived in his infirmary.  “The transfer was complete.  You and I are one…for the moment.”

Henry scratched his head, “Hurt like hell.  Still does.”  He looked at her as he realized something, “You gave me a sense of purpose when I needed it the most, T’shalaith.”

She gave a quiet bow, “Doctor, you always had a purpose.  You coming here may have felt hopeless or pointless….but you had to see that you could still do good and great things in service to medicine and to the galaxy.”

Longfellow felt a small smile, “You’re one very wise Vulcan.”  He let out a sigh, “So now what?”

She shrugged, a very odd thing to see a Vulcan do.  Even a Katra shrugging was odd to Longfellow.  “My daughter arrives tomorrow.  You will go through a transference rite and I will be free from the threat of interrogation.”

He had a terrible thought, “And if they find a way to capture me and get in my head before then?”

T’shalaith’s grin went from sly to menacing, “There are very few Vulcans capable of meeting me in battle within the plane of the mind.  They would regret stepping into that field with me.”  She nodded to him, “My promise to protect you was not without merit or means, Doctor.”

Henry felt a sadness within, “It’s weird saying this…but I will miss you.”

She stepped closer to him and ran her fingers over his face, “I will miss you, Doctor.  There are few humans that I’ve encountered that would do as you have done.”  She looked around the blackness, “I will find a place to hold my peace in your mind.  You may hear my echoes or my words if I find the need…but I will endeavor to remain hidden from you and others.”  A sly smile, “I will stick to the shadows.”  She gave him a Live Long and Prosper gesture with her hands and faded away.

Henry snapped awake, a nurse observing him.  “You okay, sir?”  He gave a nod, his head aching terribly.

“The cremation?”

She nodded and handed him a container, “Completed ten minutes ago.  I’ve notified Major Tulak to meet with you first thing this morning.”  Longfellow sighed and moved to get out of the bed.  His body and mind protested.  He would need to prepare for the major and for T’shalaith’s daughter.  It would be a busy day ahead.  But first, he needed some rest and doubted he’d made the distance to his quarters safely.  He glanced at the nurse, “I’m going to stay in this bed until the morning.”  He grunted, “Make sure someone monitors my vitals.”  The nurse nodded and moved off to make the assignments.  Longfellow lay back and was soon asleep.