tagCelebrities & Fan FictionSurefoot 16: Day of the Dead

Surefoot 16: Day of the Dead

bySurefoot©

"USS Surefoot-A, Captain's Log, Stardate 44373.77, Esek Hrelle Commanding: we have completed our inspection and refit of the wreck of the USS Limaari, in preparation for its autopiloted journey back to Starbase 154, ahead of schedule. Commendations for Cadet Jonas Ostrow, who has one again provided guidance on shortening the inspection and refitting time by almost ten percent; his continued assistance, above and beyond the call of duty, has spurred my First Officer and myself to consider something radical for him in the near future...

Along the way to our next assignment at the Cardassian Border near the Arkady Cluster, we encountered a disabled Federation vessel, the SS Demeter, owned and operated by a civilian, Riga Martis. We have found Ms Martis dead onboard, an apparent suicide victim, and have brought the Demeter in tow as we proceeded to the Cluster, while we update Starfleet Command.

On a lighter note, to celebrate the hard work with the Limaari, and to help foster esprit de corps among the cadets and crew, my Second Officer Lieutenant Neheru has organised a Halloween party. For those not in the know, it's an ancient Terran holiday that marked the seasonal lowering of the barriers between the worlds of the living and the dead. How this evolved into a celebration of costumes, food, drink and debauchery, I have no idea, but I'm looking forward to some quality indulgence.

Additional note: my First Officer Commander T'Varik has reminded me that I have been mixing up the recording buttons for the Official and the Personal Logs again, hence the inclusion of instances of my wife's pregnant status, as well as my, er, seminal accomplishments toward getting her in that state. Allow me to express my apologies to Starfleet Command for the error, and assure them that it won't be repeated.

But they did do a fine job of knocking up my wife. Aspire, people.

*

Alpha Squad Quarters:

Kitirik extended his arms, his lime green reptilian face flushing lavender with excitement as he displayed the cape with the multicoloured feathers. "So, Good Friends, how do I look?"

Neraxis glanced up from adjusting her ragged costume. "Let me guess: Dracula's Parrot?"

The Qarari laughed. "No, Good Friend Neraxis, though there are cultural similarities with that feared Terran haemovore! I am dressed as an Atatachiriok."

"That was my second choice. And what does an Atacheerio do?"

He preened the feathers. "On my world, an Atatachiriok is a legendary monster said to swoop down at night and pluck the eggs from the nests of the unfortunate, devouring their offspring while still in the shell. They are most fearsome. And yours?"

The Bolian rose to her feet, her bald blue head now dotted with fake wounds and fake purple blood. "One of the Undead Warriors of Lixx. If you disturb their resting place on the fields of Railo..." She raised her arms and howled.

"Excellent, Good Friend Neraxis! With our efforts, and Good Friend Rrori's and Jonas' estimable contributions, we shall surely win the prize for Most Frightening Costumed Squad." He wrapped the feathered cloak around himself. "Despite the lack of enthusiasm of some of our members."

Nearby, Sasha never looked away from her mirror as she applied more makeup. "Keep it up, Kit, and you'll find your own member lacking." She smacked her lips, approving of the shade of lipstick Kami had recommended. "Some of us have more important goals."

Neraxis guffawed. "What, you mean if you don't go as a Sexy Pirate, then Giles might not go Bumpers with you?"

Sasha ignored her, adjusting the billowy sleeves of her low cut, white silk blouse, before straightening her wide black leather belt and sheathed cutlass. Yes, she did the right thing choosing this one - and choosing Giles' costume for him, too. What was he thinking, wanting to show up as as Frankenstein's Monster? Least sexy concept, ever.

"I confess I do not understand why piracy should be considered arousing," Kit admitted. "Our own experiences with them have been overwhelmingly negative."

"That's modern piracy, Kit," Sasha corrected him. "But centuries ago, when pirates sailed in wooden ships on the high seas on Earth, there was a more romantic image to them."

"Yeah," Neraxis teased. "Disease, rape, lice, rats, amputation, slavery, starvation diets, corporal punishment-" At Sasha's scowl, the Bolian raised her hands and howled again.

From the adjacent bedroom, Rrori entered, the white-furred Caitian clad in plain black trousers and a ripped shirt that displayed his impressive felinoid furred chest. "Sorry, my cerulean friend, but if anyone is howling tonight, it will be me. Well, myself and a certain Betazoid girl."

"That's cheating," Sasha groused. "You already look like a werewolf."

"It is an inspired costume, Good Friend Rrori," Kit told him. "It would have been even more inspiring if you were dating our new Chief of Security, and could have been a werewolf and his mate."

"Yeah," Neraxis agreed. "I'm surprised your piece wasn't drawn to the Lieutenant the moment she boarded and you caught her scent."

The Caitian reached out and took her beer bottle for a swig. "Yes, I caught it... and knew immediately she's only interested in females." He looked in Sasha's direction. "As our esteemed Squad Leader knows all too well."

Sasha tried to ignore the teasing, as she had since word got to the rest of the Squad about the short but intense affair she'd had with Lt C'Rash during a trip to Cait, before the Lieutenant had boarded the Surefoot as its new Chief of Security. "I noticed none of you are getting at Eydiir about her lack of participation."

"She's on duty," Neraxis reminded her. "But she did say that if she was attending, she would think of the group regarding her choice of costume, rather than..." She paused to imitate the clipped Capellan accent of their friend. "'The fulfillment of one's own already-overindulged genitalia'."

Sasha looked across. "She said that? She's one to talk, considering she only took the shift to work with Falok. She's sweet on him." She smiled slyly at Neraxis. "Not as much as you and Jonas, of course but-"

"Stroke off!" the Bolian snapped, turning purple with embarrassment. "It's not like that! We're just going together as best friends! He doesn't see me like that!"

"His scent suggests differently," Rrori pointed out. "As does yours."

"Someone should deworm you."

"And he has shown to be more inclined to resort to physical violence to defend your honour," Kit observed. "A typical symptom of intense romantic feelings in most humanoids."

"What? You're full of crap." But her resistance was wearing down.

"And Jonas kissed you pretty passionately the night you received your medal," Sasha reminded her.

Neraxis took it all in, and finally, reluctantly nodded. "Yeah. And he said he loved me."

Now everyone looked up at her, Sasha voicing their thoughts with, "He did? When?"

Just as Jonas walked in, dressed in an old Starfleet uniform as the legendary Captain Seth Brundle, said to have merged in a transporter accident with an insect. He looked at them through the bulbous prosthetic over his right eye. "Are we ready to win that prize or- what's everyone looking at?" He smiled. "Excellent costume, right?"

*

Deck 4, Sickbay Suite, Morgue Unit:

Eydiir regarded the body on the table with typical dispassion. She was not unfamiliar with death of course; growing up on Capella, as a member of one of the Ten Tribes, she had seen death many times, even brought it onto others in her role during one of the tribe's blood feuds. The other Medical cadets baulked at her volunteering to prepare the body for the formal autopsy in the morning rather than attend the party, but she saw the opportunity for furthering her knowledge.

She started the recording, her gaunt, walnut-coloured face creasing with thought. "The Federation Database has confirmed the identity of the body as Riga Martis, Terran Female, age 46, Birthplace Mojave City, Earth, Occupation listed as 'Acquisitions Agent'. Preliminary cause of death appears to be a point blank phaser blast to the right temple; an antique Type 1 phaser pistol was found in the deceased's right hand. I will begin a preliminary examination to determine if there were any biochemical triggers towards this act of... of..."

Beside her, Gamma Squad Leader Falok had been accessing the personal logs of Martis, but now stopped and looked at her. "Is there a problem?"

She stared at the body, feeling the exigent need to talk. Normally she would limit her confidences to her closest friends, or within her survivor group. But of late, she had felt herself growing... close... to the Vulcan. Still, as he might not feel the same way, she settled for, "I would not wish to bother you with personal issues."

"I understand." But then he added, "However, I would not be averse to learning more about you. Should you be willing to confide in me."

She looked at him again, feeling more assured. "I of course remain pragmatic about death. However, I cannot stay totally objective about this death."

"Oh? Are you familiar with the individual? If so, you should have excluded yourself from this task-"

"No, I do not know her. But I am familiar with suicide. When I was twelve years old, my older brother Straad contracted a fever. My people possess no medical knowledge or training; they believe that the weak should die. I thought differently, and tried to save his life, with what little resources I could find. I failed. I blamed myself." She pretended to find something to distract her gaze. "More than once, I tried to end my own life because of that blame." She faced him again. "I have since recovered past that desire for self destruction, however."

"I have no doubt. And I thank you for your willingness to share with me. I will of course maintain confidentiality." After a moment he returned to the data screens. "Ms Martis has had what appears to be a... colourful history, skirting the proverbial edges of Federation law fulfilling private contracts, obtaining rare and valuable items for wealthy individuals. Her latest contract was apparently to find and deliver something called the Laveau Legacy to a Mr Kivas Fajo."

"She does not sound like someone who would arbitrarily end her life, though of course one cannot always immediately tell. Perhaps this was a murder/theft made to look like suicide?"

"I suppose that will be a matter for Starfleet Intelligence; we are only ordered to record the initial findings as per procedure."

"Of course."

The Vulcan paused, and them asked, "You are not regretting missing the party?"

"Celebrating a period in Terran history when superstition held sway over reason appears illogical to me."

"I hold identical thoughts. However, I anticipate a 96.4% probability that the party will be ongoing when our shift ends. Should you still wish to attend, it might be efficient for us to attend together."

She looked at him.

"To ensure that our respective squads are maintaining decorum," he reasoned. "The consumption of various alcoholic products and the temptation to indulge in irresponsible sexual activity might create disciplinary issues they can avoid. With our help."

Eydiir nodded. "Agreed. However, I refuse to garb myself in the representation of some primitive symbol of terror."

"I concur." But then Falok noted, "However, if I understand the custom correctly from the Terran members of my squad, costumes need not be frightening. They may also illustrate intelligence or attractiveness." After a pause he added, "You are more than capable of displaying either of those qualities. In abundance."

She looked at him again - but then her attention was drawn to an alert from the scanner. "There is an object on the body, hidden beneath the clothes. Will you assist me in undressing it?"

"Of course."

They worked together in silence, Eydiir appreciative of Falok's composure when handling the body as their hands passed in and out of the stasis field. "I am curious about Vulcan attitudes towards the dead."

"I am willing to enlighten you if possible."

"Capellans share with Klingons a lack of decorum towards deceased bodies, that nothing of the person we knew resides within the now-empty shells; they are often left aside for the local carrion to consume. One would expect Vulcans to share a similar pragmatism, but I have heard that Vulcan funeral customs are elaborate, and respectful of the remains."

He took each item of clothing and set it aside for subsequent cataloguing. "It is true. It is based on the established existence of the katra, the Vulcan soul, and its connection to the Vulcan body while the body lives. Katras that are not transferred to the Hall of Memory are traditionally left to leave the body at its own pace, so there is a tradition to not disturb the recently-deceased."

He indicated the body on the table. "This should not apply to Ms Martis, however." He stopped and regarded the object around the woman's neck: an ornate gold necklace displaying an elaborately-crafted humanoid skull with red dots for eyes and what looked like a stick lodged between its teeth. "How appropriately ghoulish for the season, if I understand the aesthetics."

Eydiir peered at it, running her tricorder over the surface. "Terran gold, ruby... the carbon dating on the resin holding the rubies in the eye sockets indicates it is approximately 500 years old. But there is something else... it is suffused with anaphasic energy."

"I am unfamiliar with that," he admitted.

"It is very rare, and its effects on biological lifeforms are not fully understood. I am wondering if physical proximity to the necklace might have had an effect on Ms Martis' psychological state." She looked up at him. "I will want to remain past the end of duty shift to make a more detailed study. Should you wish to join your squad at the party, I will understand."

He straightened up. "I make a counterproposal: I attend the party long enough now to collect suitable refreshments to bring back here, and continue to share your company. If, of course, you find that agreeable."

She offered a slight smile. "Very much so."

She reached out and risked touching his hand. Just for a heartbeat.

He did not react negatively, but instead offered, "I will see if they have Corn Discs. I believe those are a favourite of yours?"

She raised a playful eyebrow in imitation of a Vulcan gesture. "And how would you know that?"

"We can discuss that at a later time."

Now he reached out and touched her back. Just for a heartbeat.

Then he departed. Eydiir indulged in a rare broad smile, before setting aside the tricorder, reaching into the stasis field and finding a clasp at the back of the necklace, undoing it and removing it from the body. She held it up to the light for a moment, looking at the sparkling red eyes, before setting it down on the flat round surface of a scanner. "Computer, begin analysis. Start with Image Search, then standard Multispectral, and when that's done, I will want-"

"You'll want a good hard rut from that pointy-eared pixie," suggested a new voice, deep and mocking.

She spun, mentally cursing herself for not being more alert, but then was taken aback by the sight of the tall costumed figure before her: long, gaunt, clad in a sombre black clothes, a long coat collared with fine white fur, and a top hat adorned with elaborate and colorful symbols. Its head was made to resemble a skull, and lidless eyes fixed unwaveringly on her as it cradled a glass filled with dark liquid in one hand, and a foul-smelling cigar in the other.

Eydiir recovered quickly. "I am impressed."

The visitor took a drag from his smoke. "I hear that a lot from women, cherie."

"Yes, the sophistication of the prosthetics employed is redoubtable. I am assuming the smoke from that rolled weed is a chemical residue that does not trigger the ship's fire control systems?"

"Those lips have better things to do than spout merde, Eydiir, Daughter of Kaas... Sister of Straad." He tilted his head and chuckled.

She stiffened at the mention of her brother's name. "Who are you? Are you authorised to be in here?"

The figure drank from his glass and set it aside. "Me, pétasse? I am the Loa of the Dead. And if anyone is authorised to be in a morgue... it is I."

Her pulse quickened. "This is not amusing. I am familiar with the conventions of this inane Terran holiday. I have no desire for either tricks or treats."

The figure chuckled again. "I do."

*

Falok entered the empty Sickbay Suite with a small tray of proffered snacks, not seeing Eydiir around. At first believing she might have just stepped out to use the hygiene chamber, he set aside the tray, taking the time to analyse his emotional status once again, acknowledging the sense of incompleteness he felt at her temporary absence.

Emotional control was of course a primary discipline for Vulcans almost from infancy, with subconscious lessons taught to babies by their parents through simple mind melds, until they were old enough to accept visual and oral training. But one of the earliest lessons they learned was that, unless they underwent the Kohlinar discipline, the emotions would always be there. Which was acceptable, so long as control was maintained.

Which was relatively easy enough, when one was young and on Vulcan, surrounded by Vulcans. But when one reached adolescence and left the homeworld to live among highly emotional beings, as Falok had, control was... less easy.

Especially in the company of someone such as Eydiir, who was intelligent, disciplined, capable... and not aesthetically displeasing visually, despite a lack of pointed ears. As he entered the Morgue Unit, he considered his options in enhancing their relationship-

Then such thoughts were filed away as he found Eydiir on the floor, near the table where the body of Martis still lay. He dropped to one knee and checked her pulse - it was erratic, but still present - and he tapped his combadge. "Squad Leader Falok to Dr Ling, Medical Emergency, report to Sickbay at once."

Seconds later, the woman's voice filled the room. "I'm on my way. What's going on? Where's Eydiir?"

"The patient is Eydiir, I found her alive but unconscious in the Morgue Unit while examining the body. There are no other external symptoms or injuries, but I cannot revive her."

"I'm initiating a Quarantine as a precaution. Can you move her to a biobed?"

"Affirmative, Doctor." Falok was distracted by the intensity of his emotional response and the difficulty in controlling it, as he slipped his arms under the Capellan girl's legs and back, lifting her up as he returned to his feet and carrying her out into the main Sickbay, placing her gently onto the biobed, the panel above immediately accessing Eydiir's medical records while it scanned her to compare them to her present state.

He reached out and touched the side of her face, as more emotions rose unchecked to the forefront of his consciousness: concern for her well-being, confusion over what had happened, guilt over leaving her alone on duty, even for only 3.46 minutes-

-Then he felt himself slipping, his mind's eye plummeting as if down a well, through a kaleidoscope of thoughts, memories and emotions that definitely weren't his but still felt like his: walking along the craggy rocks of Capella, a small but fierce white sun bearing down as he hunted razortails with his big brother Straad; tears pouring unabashed down his face as he held the dying young man in his arms; rage at his tribe for not helping; the pain of the blade as he pierced his wrist, feeling the blood trickle; the pride of slipping into a Starfleet Cadet's uniform for the first time; the fierce resolve of driving a knife blade across the open throat of a Ferasan who threatened Captain Hrelle's life; in the shower, touching himself as he thought of being with Falok-

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