Star Trek: Lineage Ch. 06byMagicMouse©
But A Walking Shadow
2301, Deck 7, Main Transporter, 1000 hours
"No. No, I can't do this!" Casana squealed and turned to run, but was blocked by Sahar and Suvak.
"Yes, you can," Sahar reassured her, turning her around.
"I can't. Danny will find out about Shen," she whispered nervously, despite being alone with the two of them in the corridor.
"Lieutenant Commander Ben-David is already aware of the symbiont," Suvak explained.
"What?!" Casana cried, looking with horror at Suvak.
"It was necessary to inform him in order to maintain your secret."
"He'll alter the transporter records after beaming to hide the symbiont," Sahar said calmingly. Casana took a deep breath and nodded her consent. Slowly, they coaxed her into the transporter room, but as soon as the door opened and she saw the pad, Casana again tried to run.
"Transporter room, Bridge, what's taking so long?" asked Lieutenant Commander Osuna over the intercom.
"Some minor technical glitches. We'll have it ironed out in a moment, sir." Danny smiled at Casana.
"Pick up the pace. The survey team on the service needs to be relieved. Bridge out." More than a year had passed since exercises with the Gorn, and the Athena was now on the other side of Federation space, surveying planets core-ward of the Federation/Cardassian border. They were currently in orbit around a typical M-Class planet with the ruins of a now-extinct pre-industrial civilization. Sahar, now a full Lieutenant, was leading a survey team to the surface.
"Wait, what if there's an accident?" Casana whined, trying to slip by Sahar and Suvak to no avail.
"We don't have time for this," Sahar sighed to Suvak. They each grabbed an arm and carried the squirming Trill to the transporter pad. Lieutenant Morgan was already on the pad waiting for them, and laughed at the three of them. They lifted Casana up and set her on one of the transport pads.
"Stay," Sahar pointed at her as she took her position.
"Bridge, we are ready for transport," Sahar said.
"Very well. Energize."
Surface of Beta Cutal IV, Survey Team Basecamp, 0650 hours local
In a matter of seconds, Sahar, Suvak, Casana, and Kara materialized on the surface of the planet. They had beamed down a few meters inside the campsite perimeter, a large ring of sensors and force field generators designed to ensure the camp was secure while the team was away. "Oh, god," Casana gasped as she patted herself down franticly. "Oh, god, did it work? I felt something. Something went wrong! Do I still have spots?" she cried.
"You're fine," Sahar said impatiently without looking at Casana. "Let's go. We're late."
The team they were relieving, led by Lieutenant Commander Tokada, was waiting for them in the middle of the camp.
"Gamma team reporting, sir," Sahar said as they approached.
"About time. What took you so long?" he scowled.
"Transporter problems. Everything's working now, though."
"Alright, fine," Tokada grumbled. "Beta team stands relieved. Athena, four to beam up." As Tokada and the three other survey team members were beamed up, Sahar surveyed the camp. A large, prefabricated building had been assembled in the center of the camp, designed to serve as the sleeping quarters, mess, and command center for the survey teams. A small building had been erected next to the main building, housing the scientific equipment and facilities.
Around the buildings were several other pieces of equipment, including an atmospheric monitoring station, an emergency comm relay, and several storage containers. Lastly, there was a six-man shuttle parked on the surface for emergency evacuation.
The survey of the planet had been planned in three phases. Alpha team selected the campsite and constructed the buildings and perimeter, which had taken several days. Beta had been a geological/environmental survey team. They had just finished their two-week survey. Gamma was Sahar's team. Normally, security officers did not lead survey teams, but this system was between Cardassian and Federation space, and tensions had been mounting in recent years as the two powers grew nearer to each other.
The campsite was in foothills west of a massive mountain range. The white peaks stretched north to south as far as the eye could see, rising steeply into the sky. The rumble from a number of large waterfalls could be heard in the distance, feeding several small streams that ran around and through the camp. To the west, the streams merged into a wide, deep river. The river wound through the lightly wooded lowlands which stretched several dozen kilometers west to the coast of one of Beta Cutal IV's oceans.
In these lowlands, a few kilometers from the campsite, lay Gamma's area of interest. Built into the rolling hills, where several streams met to form the river, was a sprawling, deserted city. Scans had found no power sources of any kind, no trace of industrialization, and no living animals larger than a dog. Gamma had three weeks to examine the city.
"Get set up. We start tomorrow," Sahar ordered.
Basecamp, 2340 hours local
Suvak sat motionless on her small bed in the main building, a single candle burning in front of her, deep in meditation. She sat, back stiff, legs crossed, hands on her knees, eyes closed, concentrating inward. She focused her mind on relaxing her body. Her heart rate slowed, blood pressure fell, breathing slowed. One by one, she slowed each of her body's core functions, reaching a state of total calm.
Or at least that was her intention.
This time, it was different. Regardless of how much she focused, she could not calm her body. It was unsettling for her, something she had not experienced for many years. Suvak was nothing if not persistent, but it was to no avail. She focused harder, pushing the limits of her mental discipline.
Her pulse raced, her breathing quickened, and she grew hot. She felt something else, too, something she did not recognize. It was energizing, yet painful. Suvak could not understand the strange experience. She focused harder, but it was useless. She could not stem the tide of sensation.
Her eyes snapped open. She finally recognized what she felt.
Rage. Humiliation, betrayal, and rage. Her hands gripped her knees tightly, the nails digging into her bare flesh. She blinked several times, and the feelings began to fade. Slowly, her body relaxed, and she lay back to sleep.
Casana was also unsettled. She was afraid that she would be discovered, that her secret would be revealed. Yet, at the same time, she knew the potential good that could be done. I cannot win, she thought.
The Joining was a glorious thing, and she knew the Federation would benefit greatly from the vast knowledge and experience of the Joined Trill. She was certain that the Federation would use this resource wisely. The expertise of the Joined Trill could alter the course of history, if used correctly.
But at the same time, she was afraid of what would happen if the Symbiosis Commission found out that she had failed to keep her secret. They had handed out punishments to those that had violated the oaths taken before the Joining, and those punishments were harsh. Besides, if their secret became common knowledge, it could put her race in terrible danger.
Casana felt trapped. Trapped between what she knew should happen and what she could actually do.
Sahar, meanwhile, was afraid. It was not a fear that enveloped her, drowning out all other feelings. Rather, it was a fear that sat in the back of her mind, slowly gnawing away at her. With each passing second, it grew nearer, causing her to curl up in her bed. She knew she should know what she was afraid of, but she couldn't figure it out.
It was the kind of fear that haunts. She knew something was wrong, but had no idea what, and was powerless to stop it. It was as though a great storm was brewing over the horizon. It was out of sight, but the perceptive could still sense its approach. And she knew that when it came, she would be in the eye of the storm.
With this realization, panic swept through her. She had to escape what was coming, but no escape was possible. Slowly, the panic receded, and she began to breathe easier. But in its place was something else.
Across the small room, Kara watched Sahar toss and turn. She knew that Sahar was under great pressure, and was afraid, but there was nothing she could do. Unlike Sahar, Kara was in the unique position of knowing exactly what was wrong.
Or, at least she thought she did.
Kara had seen the burden of command consume people, but she felt there was something else, something she was missing.
Basecamp, 0600 hours local
Sahar snapped the clip into the base of her phaser and holstered it. "Ready?"
"Ready, Harry," Casana answered.
"Don't make me shoot you," Sahar sighed. "Move out." The four of them set out from basecamp towards the city. Though sunrise had technically occurred a few minutes before, Beta Cutal had not yet climbed above the mountains. As they hiked down towards the city, the shadow of the mountains could be seen clearly in the coastal waters of the ocean.
They followed one of the streams down the foothills. The trees grew dense near the water, providing a nearly solid green canopy. The foliage was dense enough that the forest floor was hard to see in the early morning light. After nearly half an hour picking their way through the thick brush, the team emerged from the forest onto a grass covered slope.
"Holy crap," Casana gasped, stopping in her tracks. Before them, only a few hundred meters away, stood a towering gatehouse built into the city's wall. It was made from glittering white stone, eroded heavily but still shining in the morning light. The wall towered more than 20 meters over them, with a gatehouse built in rising another 10. "That is awesome."
"Finally," Sahar smiled. "Eight years. Eight years, and I finally get to see a new civilization." A hand clasped her shoulder, and she glanced back into Kara's shining eyes.
"Let's take a look," she said softly.
"Agreed. Let's have a look."
City Gate, 0630 hours local
The forest had reclaimed much of the area surrounding the city, but the gate and city interior were in pristine condition. Sahar examined the surface of the gatehouse while Suvak scanned it with her tricorder.
"It looks as though there are crystals imbedded in the rock," she observed.
"You are correct," Suvak stated. "The surface stones are similar to white marble, with several varieties of crystal. Behind it, the structure is composed of granite." Suvak's eyebrow raised. "Interesting."
"What?" Casana asked as she examined a small purple flower.
"The wall is solid granite."
"Solid?" Sahar repeated. "As in, one large block?"
"That is correct, Lieutenant," she explained. "This section of wall consists of a slab of granite 25 meters tall, 15 meters thick, and 50 meters wide. It has been driven 7 meters into the ground, and covered with a marble facade."
"What?!" Kara cried, looking up from the carvings on the gatehouse she was examining. "That's almost, what, 20,000 cubic meters of granite?"
"18,750, to be precise," Suvak corrected her.
"How the hell did they do that? These people had just invented indoor plumbing!" Kara replied.
"How should I know?" Suvak snapped at her. The others stared at her in stunned silence. "I apologize, Lieutenant," she said softly. "I have not been feeling well recently. Gravity on this planet is only 86% of Earth gravity, making transport of the rock slabs somewhat easier."
"The rock isn't local?" Sahar asked cautiously, still weary of Suvak.
The Vulcan studied her tricorder for a moment. "It's chemical composition matches that of the mountain range to the east."
"How far?" Kara asked.
"Roughly 11.4 kilometers."
"'Roughly'?" Casana said, arching her eyebrows mockingly as she stood, twirling the flower in her fingers.
"The nearest deposit is 11 kilometers and 386 meters away."
"They moved these slabs 11 and a half kilometers over rough terrain without electricity," Sahar said to herself, reaching out to touch a carving in the white stone.
"That is correct."
"Hey, take a look at this!" Kara called from the gateway, pointing into the city. The others joined her, following her hand with their eyes. A wide street ran from the gatehouse through the city to a large palace nearly a kilometer away. Behind the palace, a massive statue rose into the air.
The metal statue gleamed silver in the morning light. It was a depiction of a young woman. Her hair was covered by a helmet resembling that of a Roman soldier's, with two ridges running front to back on the top of the head. She was clad head to toe in plate armor, with ridges at the shoulder joints. Even from this distance, elaborate carved patterns were visible on the breastplate. The style was not revealing, but was not modest either. The breastplate featured false abdominal muscles, and showed off her small breasts. She was standing with her feet apart, holding a long, barbed spear in one hand, blunt end on the ground, with a massive round shield on her other arm.
"How big is it?" Casana gaped.
"I estimate its height to be between 190 and 195 meters," Suvak said.
"Let's take a look inside the walls," Sahar said as she stepped forward.
City Ruins, 0900 hours local
"This is impossible," Kara stated emphatically.
"Obviously, it is not," Suvak corrected her.
"I'm going to have to side with Kara on this one," Casana said. The four of them stood in a small square near the city center. Two streets intersected here, both lined with one or two story buildings. The roads themselves were light blue stone, cut into blocks a few meters long and a meter wide, buried into the ground. They were intricately carved to resemble rivers, complete with rapids, fish, and the occasional boat.
The buildings themselves were made from stone as well, though the stone was a pale yellow instead of white or blue. They were built with square foundations, with the corners slightly curved. The buildings had all had stone porches in front, shaded by brightly colored fabric coverings. Many of the two story buildings had similar areas on the second story.
Most of the buildings had clear glass windows, though some of the larger ones had stained glass. Flowers of every conceivable color grew in pots and stone boxes around the city. They were in windows, on the side of the streets, and in the many plazas and squares in the city.
The entire city was in pristine condition.
"It is what it is. What we are seeing is possible, because we are seeing it," Suvak said with a hint of annoyance. Kara and Casana glanced at each other, but Sahar looked away.
"Where to now?" Kara asked her.
"I'm not really the one to ask," she said, looking at Suvak.
"The palace. It is logical to assume that the most advanced technology will be there."
"I agree," Casana said.
"Lead the way."
This way," Suvak told them as she started down one of the roads. After a few dozen meters they turned onto the main street. It was a long divided road running from the gatehouse to the palace. Running down the middle and along either side of the street were a series of gardens from which grew a line of trees, white flowers in bloom. Buildings of all sizes lined both sides, and banners waved in the wind on poles in the middle of the street.
From somewhere in the distance, a horn sounded. All but Suvak stopped in their tracks. "What?" she asked, annoyance again creeping into her voice.
"Didn't you hear that?" Casana replied.
"I... yes. I did," she realized. "I heard the horn, but... it seemed normal to me. As though I had heard it many times. As though I expected it." The four exchanged glances.
"I don't like this," Casana finally broke the silence.
"Perhaps we should get to the palace," Sahar said softly.
"Yes. Let's go to the palace. We may rest inside," Suvak agreed.
As they walked, Sahar thought she heard a voice, strong, yet feminine.
City Palace, 1030 hours local
Sahar and Kara pushed with all their strength and the gem-studded gold doors swung slowly open. Torches lit the room and an enormous bronze statue, identical to the giant one outside, stood in the center of the room. Two stair cases ran up either side of the circular room, with steps of white marble and ivory rails. The room was capped by a massive, gold-trimmed dome.
None of them noticed. Instead, they slowly climbed the stairs, Suvak and Sahar on one side, and Casana and Kara on the other. At the top, they walked silently down a long hallway. It was lined with windows, their white curtains blown around by the wind. When they reached the end of the hallway, Kara and Sahar turned and passed through small doorways on either side of the hall.
Inside, they each found a large, decorated four post bed in a lavishly furnished room. Large doorways led out to balconies overlooking expansive gardens. They each removed their clothes, folding them neatly and setting them on small tables near the doors. Sahar and Kara slid under the covers of their beds and closed their eyes.
Suvak and Casana continued up the staircase to a landing. They stopped and turned to look at each other. Casana bowed deeply, and Suvak nodded her head before continuing up another set of stairs. Casana walked silently through a double door on one side of the landing and into another, larger bedroom. After releasing her hair, she too removed her clothes and slipped under the covers of the bed. She stared up into a mirror above the bed, and closed her eyes.
At the top of the stairs, Suvak passed through a curtain of small gemstones into a cavernous room. Fountains spouted water from the walls, feeding crystal clear water into a small pool in the center of the room. Suvak crossed the pool on a small footbridge and climbed another set of stairs. At the top, a giant bed with snowy white sheets highlighted with gold threads and green trim. She also removed her clothes, letting them drop to the floor, and crawled into the bed.
Her eyes closed as well.
City Palace, 0720 hours local
Sahar's eyes opened slowly. Groggily, she sat up in the bed and looked sullenly out the window at the gardens below. She quietly slid out of the bed and crossed the room to the table at the door, wincing as she stood. Her groin and ass were still sore from the previous night. Slipping the thin white robes on, she opened the door and crossed the hall to the other door. "Irla, wake up," she whispered through the door as she knocked.
Inside, Kara opened her eyes and sat up, smiling broadly. As slipped from beneath the sheets, she gazed out the window, admiring the garden. "I'm up, Shala, thank you." Kara threw on her robes and left her room.
"Lords, you're glowing," Sahar said to Kara as they climbed the stairs.
"Lady Tilan was in a particularly gracious mood last night," said Kara, smiling. "You?"
"Master was not," she sighed, hanging her head.
"Perhaps you should seek comfort elsewhere," Kara whispered into her ear.
"That is forbidden!" Sahar gasped. "My body belongs to my Master, and is for his pleasure alone, on pain of death!"
"You don't know what you're missing," Kara smiled as she turned towards the doors to Casana's room. Sahar sighed as she quickly climbed the stairs and passed through the curtain. She hurried over the bridge and climbed up the last flight of stairs. Peeking over the top of the stairs, she sighed in relief when she saw Suvak still asleep. She walked quietly up to the bed and knelt, bowing her head.
"Milady," the guard greeted Kara as she reached for the door. He was tall and muscular, and appeared human except for the angular ridges on his forehead and cheeks.