This is one of the best pieces I think I have ever read. It shows so much diversity and skill in writing! Well written @Esa_Darkkdust
((OOC: Hi all. This one is a bit weird, but it was inspired by a packed train journey I was taking to London at dusk through the foggy South downs, while listening to Sense and Innocence, by Lynn Vartan. I've included timestamps for the track, if you want to listen and have my words paint meaning to the music! It's mostly supposed to be a dreamlike reaction to Esa's short trip into subspace, but also encompasses a lot of other feelings she has experienced recently. Also teasers near the end for some future plans I’ve thought of! Sort of like a false premonition!))
((Shore Leave Day 1, immediately before JP with Maddi))
((00:00)) The eerie blackness looked familiar, yet not. It was cold, and damp... Her feet felt like they were submerged, and yet when she took a step, the sound of her boots on solid concrete reverberated around the room. In every direction was this thick fog, seemingly impenetrable.
((00:43)) In the distance, Esa could see a small pin[...] of light. She moved toward it, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't reach it. It had just appeared, out of nowhere.
((01:28)) Kiax: Hello?!
She called out, to no response. Behind her she could hear strange voices, their tones sounded familiar, but their words were indistinguishable. In every direction she looked, there was this bleak nothingness, except for the light.
((01:58)) She instinctively reached out to grab it, and as she did so, it increased in intensity, and suddenly every fibre of Esa's being felt like it was being pulled by a rocket sled. A deep rumble pulsed through her body, before the feeling of inertia slowly came to a halt. The light's intensity continued to increase and before she knew it, she was standing in a dingy swamp back on Earth looking at a run-down shack of some kind.
((02:24)) The voices spoke once more, catching Esa off guard, forcing her to look around in a panic as she desperately tried to find the source. There, on a log, sat a toad, croaking at her menacingly. The moment she tried to pick it up, it hopped off and made for the shack. Esa gave chase, sensing it was the key to getting some answers about this place. The toad hopped deftly through the swamp, but Esa was only a few places behind. Though her feet felt like lead, and splashed heavily through the putrid sludge-like water, she kept up, until the toad disappeared through a hole in the shack's wall. Esa came to a halt on the veranda, and tried to peer through the window. No luck.
((03:03)) Deciding enough was enough, she pushed open the door and stepped in. A loud crack burst out from underfoot, as the floorboard snapped beneath her, causing her to stumble, before she recovered.
Disembodied voice: You killed us…
Panicked, Esa looked around frantically and moved through the seemingly endless rooms of the house for the source of the voice. She flung open doors, flipped tables, scattered furniture left right and centre in her frenzied search for the voice.
((03:30)) The final room she opened revealed something truly horrific. There, in the centre of the room, lay a pile of rotting corpses dressed in Starfleet Uniforms. Several looked familiar, but Esa couldn't remember their names. A Romulan woman, several Human males, an Orion, a Worene… She screamed. As if on command, the scream caused the bodies to move, as they rose to their feet and advanced toward Esa.
Bodies: You killed us…
Kiax: No, no, I didn't. It wasn't me!
Sobbing, Esa tried to run, but found that the room she had entered was now a cavernous space, with no obvious exit. She tried to get away, but the bodies overpowered her and forced her to the ground. They proceeded to tear at her skin, reducing her to a pile of flesh, like them. She forced her arms up to protect her face, and then…
((03:58)) Nothing… Once more, Esa felt alone and weightless, as if there was nothing else in the universe with her. No stars, no planets, just her… and a ship. It was there, in the distance. Big enough to make out its shape, but too far to reach.
Her breath seemed loud in her ears, and she could feel her heart beating against her chest. The silence was amplifying everything, until the voice returned. Unable to move, Esa simply responded.
Voice: You don't belong here…
Kiax: Where is here?
Voice: You need to leave.
Kiax: I don't remember…
Multiple Voices: You were never one of us…
Kiax: Who are you?
A familiar face appeared in front of Esa's, again bearing a striking resemblance to someone she knew, but with solid black eyes. She felt a hand on her sternum, pushing her back, as the nothingness swallowed her up and she fell further and further away from the ship.
((05:24)) Hot. How could nothingness be hot?
Bright… Space was dark…
Confused, Esa opened her eyes into a glaring blue sky. She blinked a few times as her pupils constricted to the sudden assault of photons. She was lying on her back in the middle of a desert, baking in the midday sun. She sat up and took stock of her surroundings. In all directions, except one which sported a distant stone structure, golden sand stretched out as far as the eye could see.
oO I've never been to a desert? Oo
On the stone structure, stood a figure in white robes. Perhaps they could help? She looked at the structure more carefully, noting that it consisted of five totem-like pillars, with a dais in the centre. The dais was sporting some kind of protrusion...
oO Won't hurt to ask… Maybe the dais holds the key... Oo
She got up and trudged through the soft sand. With every step, her feet sank into the dunes. She could feel the heat through the soles of her boots Some even managed to lap up over the rim into her boot, burning her foot as it slid down to the base of the shoe. Eventually, after a peculiarly long walk for the distance, she made it to the figure, who stood with her back to Esa.
((06:39)) Stranger: Hello, Esa.
The strange figure spoke with disdain and spite dripping from her words, Esa simply listened.
Stranger: You’re so smart, Esa. Do you know why the Chon called their project “Avalon”?
Kiax: It’s the island where Excalibur was forged, and Arthur taken to recover from his wounds after battle. Not the first connection to Arthurian myth I’ve come across in their notes.
Stranger: ::flatly:: “Myth”, she calls it. A limited word, for a limited perspective. You were always such the scientist - you’re probably right at home with all these subspace contraptions, aren’t you?
Kiax: As much as anyone, I suppose.
Stranger: The Chon activated a power in the artefact that literal minds can’t handle, and it destroyed them, so don’t push the wrong buttons.
oO Artefact? Oo
Kiax: You’d better not either.
Stranger: But I know which ones are the right ones.
Esa grabbed the stranger’s shoulder to force them to face her, but was surprised to see the face of the one person she could remember. Her sister, Erin.
Kiax: You’ve learned to read Chon since the last time I saw you…
Erin glared at her, venomously, before seeming to vanish into thin air.
((07:20)) With her sister now gone, Esa leant against one of the pillars. As she did so, it seemed to explode outward with green energy, revealing a spinning core of the same energy. Deciding to exercise her curiosity, she moved to the protrusion, which she could now see was a sword of some description. She lightly touched the end, causing the sword to slip further into the dais and rotate like a key. As it did so, the green energy from before began to channel toward the centre, revealing a circular portal to rise up from the ground. Shimmering and glowing, but remaining translucent, voices seemed to emanate from it.
Voice 1: No! Get back! ::beat:: What… What is it?
Voice 2: There’s something in the light!
Voice 1: Stay here!
A figure appeared in the portal. The second person Esa recognised. Maddi.
Figure of Maddi: What? Who are you?
Kiax: Maddi? It Esa, your wife!
The figure seemed to gesture toward the other voice, signalling it’s owner to stay back.
Figure: What? What about my wife?
As if realising some terrible truth, Esa’s eyes grew wide. Though she couldn’t remember why, the next words to leave her mouth were a set of very strict instructions.
Kiax: ::Screaming:: DON’T. TOUCH. THE SWORD.
Figure: ::Pleadingly:: She meant no harm!
Behind her, the ghostly figure of Erin had returned, and a sour look crossed her face.
Erin: Take. Out. The sword.
Esa: What!? No!
The figure of Maddi looked perplexed, as if trying to decide which of the two instructions she should adhere to.
Esa: Maddi. Maddi listen to me…
Erin: It’ll explode unless you pull out the sword!
Figure: Oh God, no!
The figure of Maddi obviously made up her mind, and appeared to make a motion of pulling out a sword from something. Perhaps a copy of the same dais that Esa was standing in front of.
Esa turned and ran for cover as the portal exploded, just as Erin had predicted. Then, darkness.
((08:55)) The grey, overcast sky loomed forebodingly over the graveyard as it emptied its contents to the ground. Rainfall wasn’t uncommon in Scotland, and yet, it seemed to be poetic that it should be raining today. Esa stood alone, wearing the black dress she reserved only for the most sombre of occasions. She cried, remembering everything that they had been through. She was the only person who had ever loved, trusted, and cared for her so much, throughout everything that had happened since graduating the academy. Kneeling down, she laid the flowers next to the headstone, which bore the name “Maddi Hyden”. It had been a year since the accident with the dais, where her life had tragically come to an end. Little did they know that the events of that day would end up rippling out across the region, spelling doom to all those that had served on the good ship “Atlantis”. It felt unfair that she was the only person to make it out alive, that the guardians of the artefact had chosen her to make the crossing. Through her tears, she mumbled to the grave;
Kiax: Hey there. So… I miss you. So much. You were always there for me in a world that made me feel so alone. Now you and the others are gone, I don’t know what to do. Starfleet forced me out, citing that the trauma was too great, and that I was too emotionally compromised to carry on serving. It should have been you that survived. You would have stayed strong. Fought on and saved the others. The galaxy seems silent. So silent now the war has stopped. I have survived all, though deep down knew I shouldn’t have. Now you’re not here and I shall go home alone. They tell me I have to try to live life as before and hide my grief for you. My dearest friend, who should be with me now. Not lying cold in the ground, taken too soon, in your grave... Alone...
Lieutenant Esa Kiax
USS Atlantis – NCC 74682
Community History Team Member