[USS Charon, somewhere on deck nine]
They were back. Ah, Elements, was there no escaping them?
He had no more tears to shed, no more strength to spare for fear. She was gone, taken away, and with her all hope that she would save him again. But she didn't have to. This time, Nveid would fight the demons himself. He would make them give her back, and he would make them pay for hurting these poor people. What ever had they done to deserve this? He was past believing it was his fault, that he had brought the demons upon this ship. They did not care about a frail child, all they cared about was hurting and destroying whatever was good and kind in this universe.
Oh, he knew their name. He knew who they were. But to him they would always be the demons who killed his family, callously, brutally, their faces hidden by gleaming helmets but not quite hiding their cruel laughter.
She had not feared them. She had killed the ones who had come for him, and when Nveid had at last believed it was all over, the thaessu had taken his hand and pulled him into her world. A confusing world, but warm and lovely. There was laughter, and tenderness, and all the things he'd thought were forever lost when the demons destroyed his home.
Now they were back, tearing apart the frail peace that had begun to bloom in his heart, shattering the hope for a life without the stench of death and fear and cruelty. She had once said hate was like poison, poison that will eat at your soul until it leaves but a husk, empty and hollow, devoid of all light and warmth. He knew she was right. But he hated the demons all the same, with all the ferocity burning in his blood. She would understand. She always did.
Nveid prayed to Fire and Air that they would watch over his thaessu as he crawled through the narrow corridor, and every time the sword he had strapped to his back clanged against the metal he froze in fear of being heard. But he could not have left it. No, they would not have it, nor the little data chip safely tucked into his already rumpled shirt. An oasis of peace amidst the screams her quarters had been, but Nveid knew it could not last. They would come for her things, the information slumbering in her computer. But they would not have it, not while he was drawing breath.
People underestimated the little ones. They thought they could not comprehend. Nveid did not hold it against them, the aliens meant well by sheltering and coddling them, but they were foolish to think he had no eyes to see, no ears to listen. And the thaessu had never hidden truth, though even she sometimes tried to shield him from what she thought might hurt. But what could hurt more than losing her now, losing her while the cruel laughter of the demons echoed in his ears?
No, he would not hide, seek shelter and huddle with the other children like frightened thuril nestlings. Not any more. Not this time.
Another junction. The young Rihannsu boy stopped and listened, murmuring quietly to the large creature shuffling about behind him. How in the Element's name Nohtho even fit in here was a marvel, but for some reason the Fvai had attached himself to the boy who always fed him tasty tidbits and resisted any attempts to shoo him away. Well and so, maybe he would bite a demon or two if they got caught, and Nveid would be glad to see it.
He nodded to himself, having identified the direction from which the voices came. Hateful voices, smug and gloating. He would make them regret it. All of it.
Small fingers pried the access hatch loose, careful, ever so careful to make no noise that would carry far Nveid froze when the sound of heavy boots came near, and exhaled softly when it passed. Yes, he had found them. Shackled and helpless, guarded by ... ah, too many, too many.
Half hidden behind some crates, the boy still knew he could not remain undetected for long. But what could he do? What fighting tears of frustration, he almost didn't notice the massive shape stretched out a mere meter before him, one of the aliens tossed aside and discarded like trash, his red blood staining the immaculate deck. But there was no scent of death coming from the bearded human, only Nveid sucked in a breath when he recognized the soldier. And then he had to clamp his hand over Nohtho's muzzle because the Fvai had stuck his head out of the hatch and recognized him, too. Another giver of food, scratcher of ears. Paws scrambled over metal and it was only because a woman was screaming outside that no one heard or paid attention. Ah, how the demons loved to revel in suffering.
He was a friend. Nveid was afraid of him, true. But the thaessu trusted him, spoke his name in the voice that the boy knew to have meaning. Well and so, if he could save him perhaps the soldier could help him save her, too.
"Nohtho." He whispered urgently in Rihannsu and slid out of the hatch, trying to lift the heavy human. It was hopeless. Not until the Fvai understood and dug his teeth into the marine's pant leg, pulling backwards, did they succeed in moving him. And all the while Nveid waited for the fabric to tear, a Gai'Shian to step around the crates for once, the Elements heeded his silent pleas.
[Some time later, a Jefferie's tube on deck nine]
He was stirring, growling deep in his throat. They had hurt him but Nveid saw muscles bulge, legs stretch. Nothing broken, or so it seemed. Though there was some swelling and a colorful bruise at the back of the soldier's neck. "Iurret, iurret." Nveid whispered and clamped a hand over the human's mouth just as he seemed ready to speak, or maybe shout in anger. Desperately waving his other hand, he prayed the soldier would understand and not give them away "Daehlen. Nveid. Friend."
Of course Nohtho chose that moment to shove his nose under the man's hand and whimper quietly. Nveid sighed.
Nikolai's dreams were dark after having been knocked unconscious by his most hated enemies. Almost as an afterthought he had been tossed aside left bleeding and abused by their captors and in his dazed dreams he felt his body being drug away for gods knew what tortures. After what seemed an eternity the massive Russian started to come to and his body twitched as it tried to wake itself from its stupor. He growled slightly in pain as his neck was damaged and moving it caused the echoes of his past torture to come back to his mind.
After a moment a small voice came to his ears and at first he didn't recognize it. He opened his dark eyes and his hazy vision tried to focus on whoever it was that was above him, it was then that the hand was placed over his mouth. Immediately he knew it wasn't his captors that had him as they would not have covered his mouth knowing full well they would want his cries of pain to be heard by the rest of the crew. As he was pondering this the strange feeling of an animal was felt under his hand and then the voice came clearly to his mind.
The Russian bear nodded slowly as Sakkara's ward came clearly into view and even though he was a Romulan he didn't feel the same disgust as he had for the rest of his species. Nikolai gently raised the boy's hand from his mouth and whispered so only he could hear. "What happened, where are we?' he asked the boy in clear Romulan knowing the child had problems with Terran.
Once the first surprise subsided, the wave of relief that washed over Nveid nearly made him break out in tears after all. Who cared why the soldier spoke Rihannsu, or how it came it was nearly intelligible, so different from the rough bark the demons used. He understood. Oh, Air and Fire, he understood.
The boy swallowed the lump in his throat and pointed back the way they had come, where half of the crew was still held captive. "The demons. They are back."
Like the human, Nveid did his best to pronounce the words clearly, as the soft, liquid dialect of his home gave even the ship's computer troubles more often than not.
Puling a medkit from the heap of things he had been able to scavenge during his desperate climb through the doomed ship and hidden in this narrow, unimportant looking corridor, he turned the shiny tools in his hand, unsure what to do with them. In the end, he settled for pressing gauze against the deep gash on the human's palm that looked like he had tried to stop a sword with his bare hands and pressed the little box against his chest, hoping he would know what to do with it.
"They have her. The demons. Nnihkolh'ai, they took her away." It was hard, so hard not to cry. But he clenched his small hand into a fist and bit his lip, even managed a soothing murmur for Nohtho when the Fvai sniffed at his ear in concern.
"They kill." The child's eyes were dark, dark as the human's and they seemed too old for the face they shone in. Brown, almost a shade of night, but with a trace of startling green. A green that burned brighter when he was angry and Nveid was very, very angry. "They said they won't kill if t`Rehu surrenders. But they do. They will kill her, too. They like it. It makes them laugh."
Nikolai took the offered medical device and carefully removed its scanner and its hypospray. Making sure to use only the lowest setting so that its faint energy readings would be mistaken for EPS over flow he began to patch his wounds and to scan the boy for any as well. His hands stopped dead when he heard what he said and he looked up into the boys face his own eyes matching the pure fury in Nveid. "They have Sakarra..." it wasn't so much of a question as it was a declaration of war.
[to be continued ...]
[to be continued ...]
MCapt Nikolai Chernienko
MCapt Nikolai Chernienko