[Planet Hadallion, Bifra Team]
It was a dream- or was it a dream? Nitka felt herself floating in a white abyss. She could hear voices- several, calling out to her but their words were distant whispers close enough to be heard but too far away to be understood. A gentle breeze brushed across her skin and the scent of perfume enveloped her nostrils. She felt two cold arms wrap around her waist and squeeze gently. "Who are you?" Nitka asked confused.
"Zar." Was the response in the Captain's voice. Nitka pulled away and twisted around to find herself staring at a bare form of the Captain. Her mouth opened but the Captain spoke instead "you are wondering if we have died?" She smiled and shook her head at Nitka "no- we are not dead. We are now one." Her hand reached over and touched Nitka's stomach "I am now here and those voices you here are the memories of a dozen lives calling out to you."
It finally dawned on Nitka that she wasn't speaking to the Captain specifically but rather the symbiont "does this mean that Captain Zar is gone?" She felt a ripple of grief tremble through the abyss and Zar closed her eyes lowering head away from Nitka. But she already knew the answer- if Zar was now part of her then the Captain was either dead or would soon be.
Suddenly Zar looked up at her and wrapped her arms around Nitka "do not feel sad. As long as we are joined Elaris will live on here" she touched Nitka's temple and then reached down and touched her stomach "and here. Now wake up and remember...you are Nitka Zar."
Slowly Nitka's eyes opened. Blurred vision gave way to the dim blue glow of the cave's rigid ceiling. She sat up feeling groggy but alert- although her mind ached. She felt like she had just consumed ten kilos of Orion Whiskey but she also wasn't sure when she ever consumed Orion whiskey. Shaking her head she looked around and noticed Barstowe rushing over to her from the slumped form of...herself? No...that was Elaris...
"How are you feeling Nitka?" Barstowe asked and slid an arm underneath her "you need to take it easy for a moment. The surgery went okay but we won't know if your body will accept the symbiont or not. It may take some time for your body to adjust."
Nitka rubbed her forehead still feeling a bit groggy "That was one hell of roofie you slipped me Doc." She glanced at the other cadets who were hovering around Elaris. Nitka pushed up against the Doctor's wishes and crawled over to her "damnit. I look like shit." They turned and looked at Nitka who stared at Elaris' body "I mean- I died...well Elaris died." She frowned and slapped the dead Captain "yep- very dead." Other than Sokan the rest of the cadets looked horrified and were tossing glances at Barstowe wondering what to do. "Don't look so shocked, death is a part of life. Do you think you'll look better when you die?" She shrugged and slid onto her rear "enough about me- well what was me. We need to do something about the rest of the cadets." She turned to Barstowe "we have to find them before the Nausicaans do."
Barstowe scowled "what? You're insane Zar. You know as well as I do that we don't have the resources to rescue the cadets. Hell for all we know they could already be in the hands of the Nausicaans. We should just wait here for the Ticonderoga to get back- and what the hell am I doing arguing with a cadet? We will wait. That's an order. Sadly pips don't transfer over with the worm."
Nitka dug her fingers into the loose rocky soil "no wonder you lived long enough to become a crotchety old man Barstowe." She gritted her teeth at the doctor "fine you can stay here and do whatever the hell you want." She turned to the other cadets "I'm going to do something about this mess. You can either stay here with the good doctor or you can come with me." She started to stand but found her legs a bit wobbly "ooo...maybe I should just sit still for a little longer..."
"And I suggest you stay there Zar unless you want to get your newest host killed playing hero." He started to stuff his medical equipment into his backpack "and the rest of you would be wise to stay put too. It won't do any of you any good if you run out there and get killed. This isn't a simulation, those are not holograms out there carrying weapons, this is the real deal. There are no safeties in life kids and I am not a magician. If they kill you I can't bring you back. Not here." He gestured at the Captain's corpse "she was a veteran Starfleet Captain and a joined trill. If her eleven lives worth of memories couldn't keep her alive. What will you be able to do?"
"I didn't know you had so little consideration of me Edward." Nitka said frowning at him "I know you're doing what you think is best but I have a responsibility to those cadets. They trusted me to protect them. That is what I'm going to do. Be damned what you think. Anyways, I seem to remember you spending most of your time during the dominion war incapacitated next to a crate of Andorian Ale. Damn shame what you've become since our time aboard the Vesta." She turned to Sokan "help me up." The Vulcan stood up and extended his hand which she grabbed. "Am I the only once with a sense of adventure these days?" she grinned "let's go show those damn Nausicaans who they messed with."
Barstowe pointed a finger at her "you...you..." his hand quivered "hey you! Listen here. You don't know what you're talking about. Your mind is all jumbled. Captain Elaris Zar's memories are the freshest in your mind and they're pulling through the strongest. You need to sit down and relax. I'm not sending you kids off to get shot into swiss cheese by those Nausicaans. If you don't relax and keep trying to stir trouble" he reached into his bag and pulled out a hypo waving it at Nitka "I'll put you down. Now sit back down and shut up Cadet before you open your incision and Zar slips out."
"I'm not slipping out." Nitka glowered at the doctor and then glanced at the cadets who appeared genuinely unsure about the entire situation. She casually rubbed her hand beneath her shirt and felt the incision mark. It all felt awkward to say the least. She definitely wasn't herself. Her eyes then searched the cavern. The dark dwelling they had set up temporary shelter in was both drab and cold. The walls glowed blue as they reflected the lamplight. She gave it all a second moment of thought and then looked at the doctor "if you can manage it doctor. Otherwise I'm going to find a solution to this mess." She looked at the others "you can stay here with the good doctor or you can help me help us."
"All right, I've just about heard enough of your nonsense." He gripped the hypo in right hand and made his way over to Nitka "now just take a nap. You just had surgery for pity sake!" As he moved to press the hypo against her Nitka moved swiftly and kicked. The doctor grunted and dropped the hypo immediately clutching his groin area. His face contorted wildly until he appeared like a fish sucking in air. Nitka shrugged, turned around, and started to make her way out the cavern using the rocky walls as support.
Bifra jumped up and ran over to look at the doctor who was apparently groaning and rolling around on the cave floor. He frowned and turned to Nitka "do you have an actual plan or are you just spouting off at the mouth? I don't know what to think of you now- are you Nitka or are you Zar?"
Nitka twisted around "I'm Nitka ZAR- and I do have a plan."
[To be continued...]
Ensign Nitka Zar
Assistant Engineering Officer