The Essence of Anger Part 10

The Essence of Anger Part 10

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

Same as Pt 1

Summary

Same as Pt 1

Chapter1 (v.1) - The Essence of Anger Part 10

Author Chapter Note

Same as Pt 1

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: July 03, 2013

Reads: 330

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: July 03, 2013

A A A

A A A

As soon as Selar materialised on the Enterprise, the computer informed Beverly. Her ceaseless pacing stopped and she slapped her comm. badge hard enough to bruise the skin under her shirt.

“Crusher to Selar!”

“Selar here, Doctor.”

“I want to see you in my quarters immediately!”

“I cannot come immediately, Doctor, I have something of importance I must see to, however, once I am free I will come to you.”

Anger spiked in Beverly and she made no attempt to hide it.

“Not good enough, Selar! I’m giving you a direct order. Get to my quarters now!”

Selar’s calm, emotionless reply only served to make Beverly angrier.

“I am sorry, Doctor Crusher, but as your current status is one of being relieved of duty, as such you cannot give me an order, direct or not. However, I will come to you as soon as I have concluded my present duties. Selar out.”

Mouth gaping, her hands fisted at the ends of her stiff arms Beverly’s head turned from side-to-side until her eyes fell on what she sought. In two quick strides she snatched up a beautiful crystal vase and raised it above her head. David shot out of his seat and grabbed her shirt, reaching for her upraised arm and shouting, “No, Maman! Papa gave that to you, don’t smash it, Maman, please, don’t...”

She didn’t hear him, she’d didn’t even notice him. With furious force she threw the vase across the room where it exploded against the wall in a mass of chunks and shards. When she growled and turned to make her way to the doors, David tried to stop her.

“Maman, no! You’ve been ordered to stay here, in our quarters. Aunt Deanna issued the order and if you...”

She hit him so hard across his face he was knocked off his feet and tumbled sideways to the floor. With his hand covering his bruised cheek, he stared wide-eyed and uncomprehending as his beloved mother glared down at him with an expression so fierce he wet himself in terror.

Beverly said nothing; she simply stepped around her son and walked briskly out the doors.

David had been born on the Enterprise and had spent his entire life aboard, so he was well versed in shipboard procedures. Climbing unsteadily to his feet, he lifted his head and said tremulously,

“David Picard to Counsellor Troi.”

Hearing his distress, Deanna concentrated and felt him.

“David, it’s Aunt Deanna. What’s happened?”

“Maman just broke a vase Papa had given her and then, when I tried to stop her leaving our quarters she...she...” He took a deep breath, doing his best to not cry, but failing. “She hit me, Aunt Deanna and then she left. I think she’s trying to find Doctor Selar.”

“Are you all right, David? Are you hurt?”

Tasting blood in his mouth, David wiped at his tears.

“I don’t know...I think so...maybe a little.”

“All right, stay where you are, someone will be with you very soon to bring you to Sick Bay. I’ll see you there.”

“Okay, Aunt Dee, but...”

“Yes?”

“Help her, Aunt Dee, she needs help.”

“I will, David, Troi out.”

Deanna then tapped her comm. badge.

“Security, this is Counsellor Troi. I want a detail here at my quarters immediately. Sick Bay, send a Doctor to Captain Picard’s quarters. I believe his son, David Picard has been injured. Troi out.”

Selar looked at Deanna, her gaze intense. “You believe she is dangerous?”

Her face set in a worried frown, Deanna sighed. “You heard David. His mother has struck him. Have you ever known either Captain Picard or Doctor Crusher to ever physically abuse their children?”

“No, I have not and it is certainly atypical behaviour. She will be here soon. I suggest you let me deal with her.”

Deanna was about to protest when the discussion became moot. Deanna’s black eyes glittered and she took an involuntary step back. Beverly’s fury reached her before the woman herself did.

“She’s here.”

The doors parted and Beverly stalked in, her blue eyes blazing with feral anger. Selar moved to stand in front of Deanna, thus shielding her. The security team arrived just as Beverly began to shout.

“Your insubordination will not be tolerated, Selar! I am the CMO and you will obey my orders!” She took a step closer. “And if you refuse, Captain Picard himself will make sure you’re reassigned to another ship where your fucking arrogant behaviour won’t affect the fine standards Captain Picard has set!”

Seeing that it would be pointless to try and reason with her, Selar bowed her head and adopted a quiet, submissive tone.

“I offer my apologies, Doctor. You are correct, of course.”

Narrowing her gaze with suspicion, Beverly lifted her chin and said coldly, “I was supposed to see Captain Picard today, but the computer says he’s not on the ship. Where the hell is he?”

Taking a calculated risk, Deanna stepped out from behind Selar and smiled, earning a hot glare from Beverly, who hissed,

“You! Why did you order me off duty and confined to quarters? What gives you the right to do that? I want to know what the hell is going on! Where is Jean-Luc?”

While Beverly had been haranguing Deanna, Selar had been moving surreptitiously closer to the incensed woman. Beverly’s eyes remained fixed on Deanna. She chanced a glance at the security detail and Beverly flinched, spinning around. Selar moved with grace and speed. As Beverly yelled, “What the fuck...?” Selar delivered a nerve pinch, catching Beverly and lowering her gently to the floor as consciousness fled.

The Lieutenant leading the security detail stepped into the room, holstering her phaser.

“Everything okay now, sir?”

Deanna nodded, letting out a long breath. “Yes, thank you, Lieutenant, we can handle it from here.” She then lifted her head to say firmly, “Transporter Room, this is Counsellor Troi. Three to beam to Sick Bay from my current location.”

“Aye, Counsellor. Energising.”

It took mere minutes for Beverly to be placed on a biobed and a restraining field put in place. Seeing David sitting nearby, Deanna went to him and, feeling his confusion, bewilderment and fear, she drew up a chair and took him into her embrace. He resisted as best he could, but the emotions that were tumbling through him won and he lost control, sobbing with heartbreaking intensity.

Slowly he calmed and, just like his father would do, attempted to quash his feelings. Manfully he wiped his face and took the offered tissue silently. Having restored some of his dignity, he managed to ask,

“What’s happened to Maman?”

Sighing, Deanna glanced over her shoulder at Beverly’s prone form. Turning back to David she said gently,

“Do you know what a relapse is?”

The boy nodded, but he was frowning. “I think so. Isn’t that when you’re better, but then you get sick again?”

Smiling, Deanna nodded. “Yes, that’s right.”

David looked over at his mother then back at Deanna. “Is that what’s happened to Maman? She’s had a relapse?”

“Yes, I think so.” Deanna noticed David was feeling embarrassed and couldn’t quite reconcile his feelings with what he now knew. Very gently, Deanna took David’s hands and looked into his troubled eyes. “What is it, David?”

He bowed his head and sighed. He’d known Deanna all his life and knew his parents not only enjoyed a deep friendship with her, but trusted her implicitly. Added to that David’s own love for his Aunt, he decided to make the most humiliation admission of his short life. Barely whispering, he said, “I wet my pants.”

Treating the admission with the gravity it deserved, Deanna tightened her grip on his hands. “David that can happen to anyone, even adults given the right circumstances.”

He looked up, stricken. “But I’m seven now and it was Maman! I know she didn’t mean it.”

Somehow Deanna had to make David see that his reaction to shock and fear had been absolutely normal without referring to the fact that although he thought of himself as ‘grown up’ he was still but a child. “David, if I tell you something really private about your Papa, will you promise me never to repeat it? Not to anyone?”

He nodded solemnly, whispering, “I promise.”

“You know that your Papa was assimilated by the Borg.” David nodded, but Deanna knew he didn’t really understand. When he had started school, his parents had decided to tell him, only so if it ever came up either as teasing by other students or even in the school curriculum, he would already know. Jean-Luc and Beverly had always intended to give him more detailed information as he grew older. For now, he had nothing but a vague impression that whatever it was, it was very bad.

“Well,” Said Deanna. “It took a very long time for your Papa to get better after that and even now he still has the occasional nightmare about it. But what I think is important for you to know is that when he was getting better, in the early stages, he would get so frightened he sometimes wet the bed.”

David gaped, his eyes wide. “Papa? Papa wet the bed? But he’s a grown up.”

“Yes and that’s my point, David. It can happen to anyone, grown up or a child, even someone as brave as your Papa.”

After a few moments. David’s gaze left Deanna and drifted to his mother. “Can you make Maman better?”

“Yes,” Smiled Deanna. “I think I can.”

David nodded, but his expression was unreadable, just like his father. “And she won’t...relapse?”

That made Deanna sigh and lower her head. “I can’t guarantee that, David. It might happen, it might not.”

His hand came up involuntarily to his cheek making Deanna ask, “Are you better now, David? Were you badly hurt?”

Still gazing at his mother, David shook his head, his voice small. “No, I wasn’t badly hurt, just a cut inside my mouth, some teeth loosened and a bruise on my cheek. I’m better now.”

Yes, thought Deanna. You’ve had your physical injuries healed, but what about your psychological ones?

To that end, Deanna squeezed David’s hands to gain his attention. “She didn’t mean it, David. I know your Maman just as well as you do and you and I both know there’s no way she would ever use physical violence against you.”

His dark eyes glittered with welling tears. “Then why?”

“Remember when she retreated? To that safe place in her mind?”

He nodded silently.

“Well, your Maman is feeling very frightened right now and she can’t find that safe place, so she’s feeling scared and very confused. Although she loves you with all her heart, right now all she wants to do is be with your Papa. Now that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to be with you, David, it’s just that although she might not admit it, she knows what your Papa is facing and wants...no...needs to be with him. Doctor Selar had told your Maman that you could both go down to the planet to see him today, but somehow, probably overnight while she slept, things got muddled up in her mind so that when she woke up, she’d forgotten what had happened.”

David frowned, lifting his hands to give form to his words. “But Aunt Deanna what about Monique and the baby? Has she forgotten them too?”

Lifting her head to stare at the ceiling, Deanna considered the question.

“Try to think of it this way. When your Maman couldn’t find her safe place, she went half way. She is in what we call an altered state. Until I can talk to her, I can’t be sure exactly where she is, but it seems certain that it’s at a time before she had you or Monique or was pregnant. That’s why it’s so important for her to get to your Papa. He occupies all of her mind right now.”

With a sigh so deep it raised and lowered his shoulders, David showed great maturity by observing, “She doesn’t know I exist.”

“Not right now, no. But she will, David, don’t worry.”

Mumbling, Deanna had to ask him to repeat himself.

“I said, that’s why she hit me. She didn’t even know who I was.”

There was little Deanna could say to that, so she encouraged him to his feet and led him, albeit reluctantly, over to his mother. Speaking softly, Deanna said, “She’ll be waking up soon, and there’s a chance she might be back. Just as she became muddled last night, this sleep might help her to regain herself. Be here, David, when she wakes up. You just might be exactly what she needs to see.”

He nodded and sat in the chair Deanna got for him. Giving his shoulder a squeeze, the Counsellor said, “I have to go and talk with Doctor Selar now. I’ll come back later.”

He nodded, but Deanna felt his unease. It was with some regret that she left him and joined Selar in Beverly’s office.

 

 

 

The Ensign at Tactical hadn’t much experience on the Bridge, or indeed manning the tactical station, but he’d been well trained and when, for the fifth time he noticed the small anomaly he knew he had to say something. Mustering a steady voice he said,

“Commander Riker? Could you come here, please sir?”

Rising from the Command chair, a less than genial Exec joined the nervous young man. The Ensign’s nervousness increased when Will said sourly, “What is it?”

Pointing at his screen and trying to keep his finger from twitching, the Ensign said, “I think that is a subspace interphase pocket, sir.”

Squinting, Will’s law muscles clenched. “How is that possible, Ensign?”

Swallowing, the young man replied, “I don’t know, sir, but I’ve seen the spike five times in the last hour and I know that can’t be right.”

Will studied the readouts and grunted.  “Well done, Ensign.” He muttered absently before raising his head and calling, “Riker to LaForge.”

“LaForge, here.”

“Come up to the Bridge will you Geordi, there’s something here I think you should see.”

“On my way, Sir. LaForge out.”

Regaining his seat, Will glared at the planet below. “Now what?”

 

 

 

 

With his Captain held on the planet, facing a very uncertain future, almost all of the Enterprise’s crew were depressed, none more so than the senior staff. For many years, before Jean-Luc and Beverly had finally become a couple, the only members of his crew that Jean-Luc would allow to get close to him were his senior staff and, over the years they had become his closest friends, but even then he kept a certain distance between them and himself. It was only after he and Beverly had become lovers that he slowly began to allow his friends to get closer, to take a greater part in his private life and so given the current situation, it was little wonder feelings of frustration and anger permeated the ship.

Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge was one of the couple’s close friends and felt the frustration of not being able to use any of his extensive skills as the ship’s Chief Engineer to help his Captain. It was with some relief that he entered the Bridge, glad to have something to take his mind off his depressing thoughts.

Looking over his shoulder, Will gestured to the Tactical station with his bearded chin.

“The Ensign has something to show you, Geordi. See what you can make of it.”

Offering a small smile at the obviously nervous young man, Geordi moved to his side and peered down at the console, his blue ocular implants adjusting for clarity of vision.

“So, what have we got?”

“Um...I think...Sir...a subspace interphase pocket.”

Geordi’s eyebrows rose in genuine interest. “Really?” He tapped a few commands and silently absorbed the displayed information, muttering quietly, “Well, I’ll be damned.”

Will, having heard Geordi’s soft exclamation, rose from his chair and made his way to the station. “What?”

Shrugging and scratching the side of his head, Geordi raised his eyebrows. “The Ensign is right. That...” He pointed to the readout. “Indicates a subspace interphase pocket...and it’s nearby.”

Trying to curb his impatience, Will took a deep breath and let it our slowly. “Okay, what exactly is a subspace interphase pocket?”

Geordi gestured to the Ensign, giving him tacit approval to answer the Exec’s question. The nervous young man ordered his thoughts and took a steadying breath. “It’s a relatively newly discovered phenomenon, Commander, we’ve only known about it for about eight months. It’s when a pocket of subspace intrudes...or bulges, if you like, into normal space.”

Raising his eyebrows, Will pulled down the corners of his mouth. “Dangerous?”

The young man shrugged, then panicked when he thought such a gesture was probably inappropriate, but neither of the senior officers seemed to notice. “We don’t actually know, sir.”

That made Will scowl. “So I take it we don’t know what causes it?”

“No, Sir, but...”

It was Geordi who said with gentle encouragement,

“It’s okay, Ensign, you’re doing fine. If you know something, spit it out.”

“Well, sirs, the most up-to-date theory is that it could be caused by using the latest generation of cloaks.”

Folding his arms over his barrelled chest, Will narrowed his eyes and asked quietly, “And you know this how?”

Blushing, the young man shifted his feet. “I was part of the team who installed the upgrades to the  Enterprise’s senor arrays and, as part of that team we were instructed in the capabilities of the arrays as they now are.”

“Okay,” Said Will, “So what are you doing on the ship? Why aren’t you still at McKinley Station?”

Glancing at Geordi and gaining courage from his smile, the Ensign began to calm down. “I want to be an Engineer, sir, but really the only way I could advance is to either get on board a ship like the Enterprise, or get myself posted to the Utopia Planitia ship yards, but the wait for rotation to the Yards is huge, so...”

Will’s voice showed just a trace of humour when he observed wryly, “It’s just as hard to get on the Enterprise, Ensign. We only take the best.”

His blush deepening, the Ensign nodded. “I know, Commander, but while the ship was at McKinley, I found out a position was available for an Engineering tech. I applied and somehow, I got accepted, but honestly, sir, I don’t know how.”

Geordi’s voice was laced with sadness as he said, “It was Captain Picard, Ensign. He saw your application and brought it to my attention. I saw how good you were at what you do and that, coupled with your very good recommendations from your team leaders, well, let’s just say the Captain was happy to have you.”

Bringing the discussion back on track, Will pointed at the console. “So, what’s causing it? Could there be a cloaked ship hovering close by?”

Geordi sighed, muttering, “I wish Data was still with us. He’d have this figured out in minutes...if not sooner.”

Placing a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder, Will commiserated. “I know, Geordi, we all miss him, but he’s not here any more and we’re just going to have to figure this out on our own.”

The big First Officer looked at the Ensign with warmth. “Ensign?”

The young man smiled. “Wilkerson, sir, Keith Wilkerson.”

“Right, Keith. You are now relieved from tactical. Please assist Commander LaForge in finding out just what that is.”

With one final glare at the console, Will went back to the Command chair, musing darkly to himself, “As if we don’t have enough on our plate! Fuck! Now we have to consider the likelihood of a cloaked fucking ship. Great!”

He glared at the planet and tried to let the low murmurings of Geordi and Keith calm him down.

 

 

 

“So,” Deanna said, slumped in her chair. “You can see how this whole thing is nothing but some kind of giant...conspiracy.”

Selar was also seated. However, unlike Deanna’s defeated slump, her posture was perfect.


“Is there any way anything of what you have told me can be verified?” The Vulcan said with a tilt of her head.

Deanna shrugged. “I don’t see how. On the face of it this mission was ostensibly to assess Ereban as a potential member of the Federation. How everything else fits in...” She shrugged again. “I’ve no idea.”

Selar’s voice was unemotional, as usual, but Deanna knew her well enough to pick up the nuances of her speech and she clearly heard anxiousness.  “We must do something, Counsellor. Unless we can uncover the conspiracy, Captain Picard will die a needless death.”

Sighing and trying to keep the exasperation out of her voice, Deanna grimaced. “I know, but how? Look, Selar, this involves the very heart of the Federation. The Council itself is implicated and as for Section 31...” She shook her head with anger. “We’re not even supposed to know it exists! How the hell can we prove the involvement of something that to all intents and purposes no one knows about? Certainly no one on the Council, the Federation President or even Starfleet Command is going to admit it! That would implicate all of them!”

Frowning, Selar lowered her eyes to stare at her hands. “I do not understand what the ulterior motive is. What could possibly be gained from admitting a clearly unsuitable world into the Federation? And the changes, the genetic shifts; how does that fit with what the Captain knows?”

“He doesn’t know.” Deanna plexed, feeling the beginnings of a headache. “Like I told you, he never made contact with the covert operative within the Ereban government.”

“But was it an operative? From what you said, I gained the impression it was more like a group of Ereban citizens who were working towards uncovering something...hidden.”

Deanna sighed and pushed her fingers into her eyes. “Does it matter? The point is he didn’t make contact and in the interim disaster struck.”

Sitting forward in an uncharacteristic display of eagerness, Selar’s gaze was piercing. “Yes, Counsellor, but we know now that the...disaster...of which you speak was most probably orchestrated by someone, or more than one, with a very different agenda to the one the Captain thought he was dealing with. Advocate Jeran said as much herself. Those involved had enough technological assistance to access the sub archive remotely, apparently over and above the level of technology the Ereban current employ.”

Looking up at her companion, Deanna’s eyes narrowed. “So you’re suggesting there’s more than Section 31 interfering?”

“Perhaps. Have you considered the Ereban themselves might be in conflict, albeit covertly?”

“Conflict?” Said a confused Counsellor. “Do you mean lurin against ‘normal’ Ereban?”

“No, not necessarily. It may not be as simple as that. The Captain mentioned the warring neighbouring planets and their intent to conquer Ereban by inducing genetic change through the lurin, but what if there was more to it than that?”

Seeing Deanna’s intense gaze, Selar tilted her head in deep thought. “The Typhon Pact is ready for war, the Captain himself knows this, but to what end? All out war with the Federation, or something more subtle? And the Federation. They too are aware of the inevitable conflict that is brewing with the Typhon Pact. So what is at stake here? The quadrant...or one planet?”

Unable to sit any longer, Deanna got up and began to pace. “What are you saying, Selar?”

“What do you know of Eugenics?”

Deanna shrugged. “It was an attempt to create super...” She gasped, her hand going to her mouth. “You don’t think...”

With a one shoulder shrug, Selar sighed. “Why not? We know that human DNA is present in all three species in this system.”

“But the Captain theorised that was because Khan Noonien Singh’s sleeper ship must have somehow ended up here and he and his followers interbred with the local species.”

Bowing her head, Selar agreed. “Yes, Counsellor, but I must wonder if that was a random act or a deliberate one?” Before Deanna could protest, Selar held up her hand. “Think about it, Counsellor. What if, at the end of the Eugenics war, Khan and his followers were somehow programmed, perhaps by an embryonic Section 31 or a forerunner, and were meant to breed with a predetermined type of alien species? One perhaps strong and intelligent? Or, on the other hand, perhaps Khan’s involvement in this system was completely random, but on discovering what had occurred much later, centuries in fact, the Council chose to take advantage of it? You must admit, once the lurin are the dominant example of the species, the population of Ereban is going to explode. Lurin breed indiscriminately, they are not bound by the normal strictures of Ereban customs or physical impediments of slow reproduction.”

Deanna couldn’t process what was being suggested.  “Are you saying the Federation is deliberately breeding a soldier species?”

Again, Selar shrugged. “If the Federation is facing war with the Typhon Pact, then it would be advantageous to have a ready supply of individuals to fight with, would it not? The ancient Earth term was, I believe, ‘cannon fodder’.”

Still pacing, Deanna’s hands became restless. “All right, let’s for the moment say you’re right. Why then would there be factions within Ereban society at war with each other?”

“Because I believe there are those who have realised what is happening and wish to take responsibility for their own destiny. Be their own masters, as it were. They may not be able to stop what is happening to them, and certainly in human terms, they won’t see change in their life time, but I feel they wish the Ereban, whatever that eventually means, to be autonomous and not slaves to anyone, especially not those responsible for their forced false evolutionary changes.”

Danna’s face paled. “But if that’s the case, then we can’t do anything about it!”

Selar merely bowed her head. Deanna gasped. “And what of Captain Picard?”

“It is regrettable; Counsellor, but I cannot see how we or anyone else can help him. Things have progressed too far. He is but a casualty of an undeclared war. In all likelihood, he was doomed before he even set foot on the planet. You know the kind of man he is and so does the Council. They needed to seem, at least on the surface, to be doing the normal, benevolent thing they always did and sent the best man for the job, knowing full well he could not in good conscience give an positive assessment of Ereban. With him out of the way, and seemingly without any interference from the Council, they are now free to send someone who is more aligned with their plans.”

“My God!”

“Indeed.”

 

 

 

The crewman on the hidden ship had been dozing. His Commander hadn’t returned from his meal and with nothing much to do, the man became bored and decided to take some time to catch up on some much-needed sleep. It was a quiet beeping that roused him, blinking and grumbling sourly under his breath.

“What the fuck?”

One look at his console had him scrambling upright in his seat and urgently summoning his Commander. The older man came quickly, irritated at being disturbed. “This better be good!” He barked.

Pointing at his console, the younger man gritted his teeth. “They’re on to us!”

Being more experienced, the Commander wasn’t so easily panicked. “Have they made any move? Given any indication that they know exactly what it is they’ve found?”

Glancing through the viewscreen at the image of the Enterprise, the seated man shook his head. “No, but they’ve detected the subspace interphase pocket.”

The Commander shrugged. “So? As far as they know, it could be anything!” He glowered down at his subordinate. “Jesus, they’ve only known about SIPs for a year at most, and only a few ships have the means to detect them! Okay, they might have detected ours, but there’s no fucking way they know what it is they’ve actually discovered.”

Taking a steadying breath, the younger man swallowed.

“Okay, sir, so what do we do?”

“What do we do? Nothing! Until they show us they know we’re here, ignore them! They’re bumbling around in the fucking dark!”

He turned to leave the cockpit, but hesitated and snarled, “And don’t be such a lily-livered shit stirrer. Make sure you know what the fuck you’re doing before you bother me!”

As the Commander left, the crewman turned to glare out into space, his hatred and anger directed towards the Enterprise.

 

 

 

It had been some days since Jeran and Absum had met and much had transpired. Absum was now sure Jeran was lurin, but where once that information would’ve disgusted and alarmed the Doctor, she now accepted the Advocate’s difference with equanimity.

They had met at Jeran’s request and by the seclusion of the venue, Absum was confidently sure that the Advocate had important news. She smiled to herself as she also had something stunning to tell her legal colleague.

In a park on the eastern fringe of the capital, the two females walked, heads bowed in deep conversation. It was Jeran who was speaking and although her voice was soft, her tone was urgent.

“I haven’t got to the bottom of this yet, Doctor, but my...enquiries... have led to some very disturbing information.” She halted, bringing her companion to a stop as well. Casting a thorough look around to make sure, yet again, that they were alone, Jeran looked Absum in the eyes and said, “You know what I am.”

Absum nodded, making sure nothing but calm acceptance showed in her eyes. Grateful, Jeran offered a small bow and a deep sigh of relief. “Thank you, Doctor; I wasn’t sure how you would...”

Shaking her head, Absum smiled sadly. “I have been blind far too long, Jeran and what I’ve witnessed recently has not only opened my eyes fully, but changed my perceptions of who and what I am...and who and what we, as Ereban are going to become. But what I don’t know is why?”

Gently taking Absum’s elbow, Jeran started them walking again. “I’ve learned several incredible things. Absum. I now know that these...changes...the development of lurin has been at the hands of outside influences. Someone, and as yet I don’t know who, has deliberately...seeded...our atmosphere with microscopic genetic messages. This was done some time ago, at least one generation before the first lurin was ever discovered, perhaps even earlier than that, I don’t know, but there can be no doubt. It was a deliberate act!”

Absum nodded, her face grim. “I know. Two nights ago I dissected the most extraordinary being I’ve ever seen. Outwardly it looked like a normal Ereban, but it wasn’t! It was definitely male, but its interior structures, its organs were subtly different as if it had once been very different, but was in the process of becoming like us.”

Tilting her head, Jeran narrowed her eyes. “Surgical alteration?”

Absum shook her head. “No, definitely not.” She said firmly. “No, this being was close, Jeran, almost, but not quite Ereban.”

Jeran didn’t want to ask the next question, but she simply had to. “Lurin?”

Absum shrugged. “To be honest, I don’t know. It certainly wasn’t like any lurin I’ve ever seen, but perhaps...”

Arching one pale eyebrow, Jeran said softly, “Perhaps?”

Again shrugging, Absum sighed deeply. “Jeran, we’re talking about what’s to come. I can’t discard the possibility that I may have been seeing a version of our future selves and that of course means lurin.”

“But how?” Asked an obviously confused Jeran. “How is it possible you saw such an evolved specimen...if that is indeed what it was?”

Absum rubbed her brow, she’d been thinking about this so hard it was beginning to make her head sore. “Jeran, what I’m about to say may sound...irrational, but it is the only plausible thing I can come up with.”

“Go on.”

“What if the being I dissected wasn’t what we’re to become, but one of those who were responsible for what’s happening?”

Jeran lifted her head and again scanned the area with her sharp gaze while giving the question considerable thought. “You are aware of what you’re suggesting? If you’re right, then we have, walking among us...aliens who look, at least on the outside, just like us.” Raising her hand, the Advocate pinched her lower lip. “So, if it’s true, what is their purpose?” Tilting her head, Jeran asked quietly, “Was it genetically compatible? Could it breed with us?”

Absum’s face showed her answer before she vocalised it. “Yes, most definitely.”

As Absum stood still, Jeran walked in a slow circle around her. “So what do we have? On the one hand we have Ereban like me...lurin...created for some as yet unknown purpose and now it seems there is further interference through what? Alien interbreeding? Why?”

Absum chose her next words very carefully. “While I don’t know the answers to those questions, don’t you think it interesting...convenient even, that we discover the presence of an alien at the same time our government makes a petition to join the Federation? We have Starship in orbit and its Captain awaiting trial for a capital offence. I don’t know about you, Jeran, but I was vehemently against the governments’ overtures to the Federation and now that they’re here, look what’s happened. An explosion in the number of lurin, Ereban exhibiting what could only be described as deviant behaviour and now we know about clandestine groups and aliens among us. There has to be a connection!”

Snapping her fingers, Jeran hissed, “Acceleration!”

Narrowing her eyes, Absum said warily, “What?”

Again taking her elbow, both females resumed walking. “Whatever is going on, for some reason it’s being accelerated...brought forward. Obviously things were moving too slowly.” She scratched her hair and grimaced. “What we have to find out is what it is they need us for. Why have they changed us and why do they now need those changes to accelerate?”

Sighing, Absum shrugged. “I’m not sure I’m in a position to find those answers.”

That made Jeran snort with wry amusement. “Absum, my friend, only a few weeks ago, I was a spectacularly unsuccessful Advocate, and you were content to be a visiting Doctor at the State mental institution, doing a small, but interesting amount of research in your spare time. Now look at us! Meeting in secret to discuss the ramifications of a plot most probably instigated by those who were duty bound to protect us! Neither of us are equipped to answer any of our questions, but answer them we must! It will put us...our families...our bond mates in grave danger. In fact...” Absum sighed deeply, making Jeran move closer. “Absum? What is it?”

Smiling sadly, the Doctor’s eyes glittered with tears. “They already have my bond mate.”

Jeran gasped. “By the All Seeing One! Why did you agree to this meeting?”

Shrugging with fatalism, Absum shook her head. “It doesn’t matter, does it? If they so wish, they will kill him no matter what I do. I might as well try to find out why he died...what he died for. At least, even if it means my own death, I will die knowing why.”

Her years as an Advocate had inured Jeran somewhat to sentimentality, but she couldn’t help but feel desperately sorry for Absum. Gathering her thoughts and courage, Jeran took Absum’s elbow and squeezed it. The spark of defiance growing.

“What sort of contacts do you have?”

Shrugging again, Absum pulled down the corners of her mouth. “Not many, but those I have are well placed.”

Jeran smiled coldly. “Mine too. Look, I’m not suggesting we can solve this on our own, but I think together we might be able to make the right people aware of what we know. Maybe it’ll be enough to start something.”

“Something? That’s a little vague, isn’t it?”

The Advocate chuckled and shook her head. “Yes it is, and it’s mainly because I have absolutely no idea how to start a revolution, my dear Doctor, but if that’s what it takes to protect Ereban, then that’s what has to happen.”

Absum gaped, then swallowed, suddenly feeling nauseous. “A revolution? And you think we can do that?”

“Well, it has to start somewhere.”

“But we don’t even know for sure...”

Leaning close until their faces were almost touching, Jeran said with deadly intent, “Then we must find out!”

Looking about again, the Advocate put some distance between them and said mildly, “We should go our separate ways now, Doctor. I’ll be in touch.”

Absum, still stunned, watched silently as Jeran walked briskly away. It wasn’t until Absum had reached her ground vehicle on the opposite side of the park that she saw a male sitting in it. With her mouth suddenly dry she got in and stared straight ahead as the male said quietly, “I think we should have a chat about who you should be talking too, Doctor.”

As a physician, Absum knew Ereban could not die of heart failure, but her heart began to beat so fast she wondered if she just might be the first.


© Copyright 2017 Heather Smyth. All rights reserved.

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