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Part of USS Cygnus: A Failure to Communicate

The Joining

Trill Homeworld
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Trill Homeworld

17 November 2401 (Earth Calendar)

1556 Hours 


The sun was reflecting off the ice as Wilem Bast found a new foothold, and hauled himself up another meter up the face of Jökull B’tang, one of the Northern province’s most daunting glaciers. It was a climb that only the most adventurous climbers would attempt. Fewer than fifty people on all of Trill would ever attempt such a climb, and Wilem Bast was three-quarters of the way up the glacier.

Or so he liked to think. In reality, Jökull B’Tang was a daunting climb, but hardly the insurmountable challenge he was picturing in his mind. Close to a hundred people would climb it in a year, but most of them were less than half his age. Few people in their early sixties would attempt the climb.

It was a beautiful afternoon. The sun was shining, the temperature was only slightly below freezing, and the wind was light – ideal conditions for ice climbing. His arms and legs were taut with the effort required to haul himself up the ice cliff, but the burning sensation in his muscles felt good, and he could feel the rush of endorphins. Now at his age, he found it only slightly more difficult to climb this particular glacier than in his younger days, but he welcomed the challenge. It allowed him to clear his mind, and oftentimes afterward he was able to approach a particular problem from a totally different perspective, which often led to finding a solution.

He placed an ice screw, and slid his rope through the loop. He dug his left foot’s crampons in the ice, and prepared to shift his weight to the new anchor. The ice creaked under his gloves. The noise echoed off the ice cliffs, and startled a great white harfang. The majestic bird let out a scream, and flew out of its nest, hidden inside a concealed crevice in the ice less than two meters from Wilem’s right handhold. Caught by surprise, Wilem’s arms flailed, and he lost his grasp on the rope, and his foothold slipped as his weight shifted, and the ice, softened by the sunlight and the warmer than usual temperatures, chipped around his crampons. 

He fell seven meters before the rope caught on the previous screw. The pendulum motion swung him hard against the ice, and his head hit the ice cliff at an odd angle, shattering his cervical vertebrae. His helmet split open, and fragments of it fell along with chunks of ice the rest of the hundred and fifty meters to the bottom of the glacier, where another group of climbers was preparing to ascend.

Down at the bottom of the mountain, a young man looked up as the ice crashed at his feet. He held his helmet in place as he looked up, wary of being hit by more ice. Squinting through the sun’s glare, he spotted a humanoid shape, swinging uncontrollably at the end of a lifeline like a rag doll. He tapped his companion on the shoulder, and pointed at the injured Wilem. The young man’s companion reached for a communicator, and contacted emergency response teams.


Trill Symbiosis Commission Headquarters 

1808 Hours 


Doctor Renhol walked into her office, carrying a steaming cup of black tea with a slice of lemon. It was something she had barely been able to stomach before being joined, but the symbiont inside her couldn’t get enough of it. The host had acquired the taste, and she had to admit that it did help with digestion. She sat down to continue her work on the long list of files on her desktop, but soon turned around to adjust the tint at her window. At this time of day, the sun was beginning its descent, and was directly hitting her desk, its glare reflecting off the metallic surface of her desk, and interfering with the holodisplay. It was at that moment that her alarm went off, triggered by the nurses at the Symbiosis Commission’s hospital ward. 

She set the cup of tea down, not noticing that half its content spilled over on her desktop, and ran out of her office, jumping in the nearest turbolift to the ward. The alarm could only mean one thing – a symbiont was in trouble.

“Who is it?” she asked, coming out of the lift and hurrying up to the nurses’ station. The nurses were already scrambling, preparing to receive an injured patient.

“It’s the Bast symbiont,” reported the head nurse. The man looked at the computer monitor, and read the notice that had been sent by the emergency medical team. “Some sort of ice climbing accident. Massive cranial trauma. He’s being flown in by shuttle now, too unstable for the transporter. The family’s been notified.”

Renhol nodded. Part of her was relieved by the announcement – she knew the Bast symbiont was on the Trill Homeworld. Arranging emergency transport for an offworld symbiont was typically a logistical nightmare. Nevertheless, this was a sad day. “Good. I’ll get the Initiate ready.”

She accessed the Symbiosis Commission’s database. Based on the Initiate Program’s interviews of potential candidates, the most appropriate hosts for the Bast symbiont had been identified and ranked, based on their personalities, interests, and an order of succession had been generated. Initiates typically matched more than one symbiont, and the Symbiosis Commission’s systems calculated the nearest, best match for the Bast symbiont and displayed an identification. The best and nearest candidate for the Bast symbiont was a Starfleet engineer named Temerant Lochees. 

The name was familiar to Renhol. She’d seen him mentioned on several reports. He had reported in a few weeks prior, as his number was approaching, and was waiting in the Initiates’ compound. But he had a tendency to slip out, every once in a while. And at this time of day, on a Friday, odds were that he’d managed to slip out of the compound again.

“Now where is he?” she asked aloud, to no one in particular. She hurried over to the computer and tapped in her access codes. She logged into the locator program. 

Initiates were required to wear a locator device at all times, so they could be located quickly in the event of an emergency. Renhol sent a priority one message to the Commission’s collection officers, who were then summoned to collect Temerant from wherever he was, whatever he was doing, and bring him to the hospital as quickly as possible.


Starhill Night Club 

Mak’ala City 

Trill Homeworld 


The girl was astoundingly beautiful. Her deep blue eyes had a tinge of purple to them, reminiscent of the open sea. Her lips were voluptuous, sensual, and had a slight upwards twist that made her seem as though she was constantly smiling. And Temerant Lochees had charmed her just about enough that he could hope that those lips might soon be touching his own. It hadn’t been easy – he was a shy guy, but she was so beautiful that he had gathered up his courage and bought her a drink. And a second.

Her strawberry blonde hair cascaded down her shoulders, barely covering the spots that descended from her forehead, down the sides of her neck, and tantalizingly disappeared into her cleavage. 

He placed another drink in front of her. A Samarian sunset, which he’d learned was her favorite. He tapped the rim of the glass, and together they watched the swirl of bioluminescent colors, triggered by the glass’s vibrations, running through the liquid, finally coalescing into a golden color. She smiled, and took a sip.

The music was thankfully loud enough that she had to lean forward to talk directly into his ear, which gave him an opportunity to look down her cleavage. At first he’d been very discreet about it, but she, on the contrary, had been very brazen about it, going so far as to put her hand on the back of his neck to make sure he knew where to look, so by this time he’d given up on being discreet. She placed her hand on the back of his neck again and leaned forward, pulling him closer to whisper in his ear. 

A pair of strong hands grabbed Temerant by the shoulders, and pulled him away from the girl, who was almost shoved aside by another pair of equally strong hands. The drinks were knocked off the table, and the music stopped almost instantly, as all eyes in the nightclub turned toward their table.

“Symbiosis Commission,” said one of the burly men by way of apology, holding up a hand to keep the girl at arm’s length. Temerant looked at the two men, startled, and a bit too light-headed from the alcohol he’d imbibed that night to fully understand what was going on. He looked at his companion, and raised his eyebrows.

“Sorry,” he said sheepishly, as he and the two men were beamed away, leaving him with the memory of the startled girl, looking down at her dress which was now soaking wet from the spilled drink. The look on her face let him know he shouldn’t expect her to call him any time soon.

The filled nightclub around him vanished in a curtain of light, replaced by the stark interior of the Symbiosis Commission’s hospital ward. He remembered being in this building a few years prior, back when he first signed up to the Initiate program, to be subjected to one of the most invasive and thorough physical exams he’d ever lived through. Not much had changed since then.

An older woman approached. “Mister Lochees, I’m Doctor Renhol,” she introduced herself. “I’m sorry we had to drag you away from your current activities, but there is a medical emergency. The Bast symbiont will be in need of a new host, and you are next in the order of succession.” 

The sudden surge of adrenaline finished clearing Temerant’s head. “Oh,” was all he found to say.

Farther down the corridor, he saw a woman in tears. In her late fifties, she was proudly dressed. Two other people, roughly Temerant’s own age, were close to her. Also in tears, they were holding her by the shoulders comfortingly. A nurse from the Symbiosis Commission was standing next to them. The nurse was holding a data padd, and speaking in a hushed voice, her hand on the older woman’s arm. Temerant saw the woman’s knees flinch, and the younger man rushed to grab her by the elbows, and guide her to a chair.

“If you’ll come this way,” said Doctor Renhol. Another nurse took Temerant’s arm and guided him past the doors.


Temerant was now lying naked on a gurney in one of the operating rooms of the Symbiosis Commission building, nothing but a blue drape covering his nether regions. Next to him, they had wheeled in a man with salt and pepper hair. The older man was naked as he was. Strongly built, the man’s face was bloodied, and he was unconscious. Stimulators were connected to the man’s chest, and the mechanical and regular sounds let Temerant know that a machine was breathing for him. Medical equipment was strapped to his gurney, and monitors beeped along with his heartbeat. The sound was irregular, and it was clear that death was close.

Someone attached similar sensors to Temerant’s chest and forehead – sensors for his heart rate, cerebral activity, and other life signs that Temerant couldn’t even begin to guess. He was feeling overwhelmed by the experience and tried to focus on a thousand things at once. 

Someone pressed a hypospray to his neck. “This will speed up your liver’s metabolism, and clear up the alcohol in your system,” they explained. There was a hint of reproach in that voice. Alcohol consumption was usually forbidden for Initiates. He could only guess that the next person in the order of succession for the Bast symbiont was too far away under the circumstances.

Another nurse positioned herself next to his head, and talked to him in a soothing voice. She explained what the surgical team was doing, as they opened up the previous hosts’ ventral pouch, located the symbiont, and gently severed the link. The symbiont was lifted out of Wilem Bast’s body, and placed in a cleaning bath filled with the nourishing milky liquid that filled the Caves of Mak’ala, to be cleaned off. The symbiont was also rinsed with an antibiotic solution, to remove any potential bacteria from its surface before implantation into a new Host, and to remove any contaminants from the previous Host’s body – the last thing they wanted was for Temerant to reject Bast because of Wilem’s possible HLA incompatibilities. The surgical team, meanwhile, cauterized the blood vessels in Wilem’s abdomen. The nurse explained that the previous host would be placed on life support. His head injuries were too severe for him to ever regain consciousness, but at least this way, his family could say goodbye before life support was disengaged. In any case, the previous Host would die within a day of the symbiont’s removal.

The second team finished bathing the symbiont. One of the doctors pulled open Temerant’s ventral pouch. The symbiont was placed at the lip of the pouch, from where it crawled its way inside. Temerant gasped at the unusual sensations as it found its place, lodged between his pancreas and his stomach. 

A whirlwind of sensations and emotions played out in his head, as the symbiont attached its tendrils to his spinal column, and tethered itself to his central nervous system. He knew that within the next ninety hours or so, the link would be permanent – the symbiont would be dependent on Temerant’s blood flow to survive, and if the symbiont was removed, the blood loss would cause the host body to die within a day.

The nurse described how the host and the symbiont’s brain waves were now merging, but Temerant wasn’t listening. The sensations were overwhelming. Memories flooded his mind, sometimes coming into conflict with one another. The memories of the host and the symbiont were sometimes at odds with one another, and strange memories crept to the surface. 

He remembered being in two places at once – he’d woken up in his bed at the Initiates compound that morning, but also next to his wife in a different province altogether. He remembered eating scrambled eggs for breakfast, but one part of his mind – he was no longer sure which part – shouted that he hated scrambled eggs. 

But the eggs had been lovingly prepared by the woman he’d seen crying in the hospital earlier – not a stranger at all. She had been his wife, and he had loved her dearly. He knew her favorite flower, her favorite perfume, how she liked her morning coffee, the touch of her skin.

And the two younger people he’d seen comforting her. Kylar, and Daydra. Good lads – those were his children. Or rather, Wilem’s children. 

Wilem. That was his name. Wilem Bast. Or rather, his previous self’s name. He looked over at Wilem Bast, lying on the table next to him, and a strange sensation washed over him, as he looked at himself from outside his own body.

Now he was Temerant Bast.

He turned his head, and looked at the nurse seated next to him. She had a knowing smile on her face, as if she knew exactly what he was going through.  From somewhere deep inside, he suddenly realized that he knew her. She had aged since the last time he’d seen her, but she’d been there when the Bast symbiont had been joined to Wilem. Now the hair was streaked with grey, and fine lines had appeared around her eyes and mouth, but the eyes themselves were the same.

He smiled, and opened his mouth. “Hell–” he started to say, before an odd feeling sprang to mind.

He ran his tongue around the inside of his mouth. It wasn’t as he last remembered it.

“New teeth, that’s weird,” he muttered.


  • What a spectacular introduction to a new character. I really enjoyed how you captured all the nuances and intricacies of a Trill Joining! Superb work!

    August 14, 2022