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Part of USS Sarek: Lies I Loved and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Lies I Loved – 8

USS Sarek stardrive section, Brig
November 2400
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The number of holographic LCARS screens scattered around Leander Nune’s security cell had more than doubled since Sootrah Yuulik last visited him.  She watched as Nune scrolled through a spiral of menu options on one of them while she signed in at the brig’s guard station.  

As she made her approach to Nune’s cell, Yuulik caught sight of her own reflection in a transparent aluminum bulkhead panel.  The Arcadian science officer took notice that her appearance was nearly as dishevelled as Nune’s own. She was still wearing the same cosmetics from the day before and her two fins of dark hair looked greasy, hanging limp.  But there wasn’t time or space to worry about that.  Yuulik’s boots echoed keenly as she crossed the darkened, cavernous compartment.

Nune blinked at Yuulik repeatedly, as if he were struggling to see her through the soft glow of the forcefield between them.  He pushed aside the holographic screens that were crowding in on him.  He took one confident step forward and then he stumbled halfway across the cell, closing the distance between himself and Yuulik.

“Did– Did Dolan tell you?” Nune asked Yuulik, breathlessly.  The words came out of him slowly and slightly slurred.  He sounded as if his own teeth were unfamiliar to him and his tongue was landing in the wrong spot of his mouth.  “Did he– did he explain about the resonance burst?”

“Yes, you might be on to something, Leander,” Yuulik said tentatively.  

Yuulik nodded vaguely, but her voice was tight in her throat.  She recognised all the ways Nune’s insight was filled with possibility, but Yuulik was far more distressed by how fatigued he looked.  She watched him swaying on his feet as they spoke.  It was like there was a preternatural source of energy keeping him moving when his body was crying out for rest.

“As an intermediary medium,” Yuulik supposed, “a resonance burst could prove a valuable mediation between blood dilithium, telepathic communication and our communications systems.”  –She pointed at one of the LCARS holos in his cell– “What resonance frequency is showing the most promise in your research?”

Nune blinked at Yuulik heavily once and twice and then his right eyelid didn’t open.

He snarled, “The death cries of those who sent me here.”

A rush of vertigo swept over Yuulik.  She took a couple steps to the left and she sat on the edge of a powered-down LCARS terminal.  It disgusted her to see Nune in such a pallid state, to hear those hateful words in his own voice.

Yuulik said, “I don’t think you should be working.  You need to rest.”  

Even to her own ears, Yuulik’s words sounded lifeless.  She didn’t even believe herself, because there was simply no part of her that trusted he would comply. Leaning further over the LCARS console, she activated the next panel over and tapped in the command to deactivate the holographic projectors in Nune’s cell.  An LCARS error sound beeped back at her.

“All I do is rest,” Nune said furtively.

This was a mistake,” Yuulik said and she waved her arms widely to encompass any and everything that had led her to this situation.  “I’m sorry, Leander.  You never should have been allowed to join this mission.”

“You might be right,” Nune said, through a haunted chuckle.  He stumbled backwards until he collided with an unyielding bulkhead.  “I don’t want this.  Not any of this.  I don’t want them in my head anymore.”  –He clawed at his scalp with both of his hands– “It’s too crowded in here!”

“Maybe– maybe we can put you on a runabout?” Yuulik proposed desperately.  “Get you away from all this?”

A chilling calm settled over Nune.  He lowered his hands and then he dropped to his knees on the deck.  Seemingly ignoring all else, Nune looked at Yuulik, looking right at her.

“But you need me, don’t you?” Nune asked in a taunting timbre.  “What has your scientific brilliance taught you about blood dilithium so far?”

Yuulik looked down at her lap.  She had no answers to offer him.

Nune went on: “Do you know how it was created?  Do you know what it wants?”

Even amid all of Yuulik’s sympathy for Nune, her contrary nature rose up.  She could feel her desire to prove him wrong rising in her chest like bile.

“It doesn’t want anything,” Yuulik replied.  “It’s not sentient!”

The vibrancy behind Nune’s eyes went glassy and his facial expression went slack.  He whispered something, but all Yuulik could hear was ‘something something m-s-kah something.’  Listening had never been Yuulik’s strongest trait, so she stood up and took a step closer to the cell.

“Pardon me?” Yuulik asked.

Nune whispered what sounded like the same statement, but even quieter than the time before.

“You’re not making sense,” Yuulik said.

Nune made no effort to move closer to Yuulik or raise his voice.  He remained kneeling on the deck, staring into the middle distance.  He whispered the same thing again.

“Speak up!” Yuulik said.  She edged as close to the forcefield as she dared.  She leaned her pointed ear in Nune’s direction as if that would make any difference at all..

Nune whispered one more time.

Yuulik glanced at the guard in her peripheral vision and decided he was sufficiently distracted by something on his LCARS display.  She reached out and tapped the control on the bulkhead that deactivated the forcefield.  The shimmering energy screen dropped in an instant.  Surreptitiously, Yuulik crept into Nune’s cell.

To avoid drawing any more attention to herself, Yuulik whispered, “What did you say?”

Nune jumped to his feet, driving his shoulder into Yuulik’s midsection.  As Yuulik toppled to the deck, all she could do was scream.

Comments

  • Seeing Yuulik actually expressing explicit concern and compassion for Nune is very compelling, and part of what drives home the horror of his condition so effectively. But because this is Yuulik, that compassion wavers in the face of curiosity. Once again, own arrogance and drive is her own worst enemy, right down to making sure the GUARD isn't looking (let alone if Nune's distracted enough) before stepping in. Life choices, Yuulik. You're bad at them. Great chapter, full of tension!

    November 9, 2022
  • Ahh Nune is loosing his mind to the Blood Dilithium. Though it was only a matter of time. Getting to a muttering state of mind and saying a lot only to lure Yuulik in and most likely going onto a rampage after this. This pretty much checks everything off from the symptoms one could have. Great post, you explained how it affects someone and what could happen, it gave me some ideas for Damascus.

    November 14, 2022
  • Wow didn't see that coming, bet Yuulik is regretting having lowered that forcefield to step in. Makes you wonder if she really thought of what possibility of what could happen with Nune being in the state of mind that he is in. I can't wait to see what happens next, does the guard hear her scream and come help or will he escape? Great work in this chapter and can't wait to read more.

    November 19, 2022
  • Oh Yuulik, you normally don't care, but when you do it's with the same intensity, the same lack of caution as when you're curious. I love her for being such an extremes sort of person. Security be damned in the face of scientific progress or concern for your friend and especially where those intersect. A fantastic piece, full of possessed friend horror.

    November 22, 2022