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Lt Alleran Tan: Immortal Memories


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"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again."

-- Maya Angelou

(( Collapsed Daycare, USS Avandar ))

:: Dust swirled around him as Alleran wiggled further into the void which was the daycare room, the laser cutter between his teeth. He had taken the blonde girl back to the others... now his search continued. ::

:: The dust was a product of the metal used to make the bulkheads, compressed it would powderize. This area had suffered more than most and it was almost completely rubble... Tan had to stop every now and then to move a hunk of metal before he could continue. Despite the overdose of painkillers his leg was too injured to move -- he had to drag it behind him, which lead to lines of scratches forming on the limb but he paid them no heed. ::

Marlee: ~~ This region is unstable. ~~

:: Alleran had a snippy comment prepared, but there was nothing he could say to discount that little urge coming from within his symbiont. As if to underscore this particular point there was a low, ominous groan of stressed metal and Tan froze. ::

:: But no collapse came. After a second, Tan continued to crawl forward. It was a moment before he reached his goal... the soundproofed daycare room. It seemed mostly intact, and so Tan could crouch in the area without having to crawl. Prying open the cover he reached for the emergency opening lever and, with a pained groan began pumping the handle rocking up and down. ::

:: The moment a tiny crack appeared, the screaming of terrified infants filled his ears. Further away, he could hear T'tala's panicked cries, shouting something he couldn't make out over the din. ::

:: Verification that there was someone else alive -- and several, possibly -- gave him another surge of adrenaline and he worked the lever until there was enough room to open the door, forcing the twin panels apart the rest of the way with his hands and squirming his way through the small opening. ::

:: Bodies everywhere. Tan was immediately greeted by a grizley scene... a corpse, without a head, wearing a bright yellow sundress stained bright purple with her blood. He didn't recognize her species. In her crumpled arms was the equally crumpled body of a small child, aged seven or eight maybe, of the same species... who Alleran could see instantly was dead. ::

Marlee: ~~ That's Umas's wife... and presumably his child, too. ~~

:: Alleran, the host, was too concussed to make anything of it but his symbiont seemed to have dim memories of the personnel roster with their smiling faces on it. ::

:: Recovery of the body would have to wait, but he did scoop down and pluck a small doll modelled in the form of an alien insect out of the girl's limp arms, stuffing it into a pocket... and to help identification of the bodies, he removed a charm bracelet from the small child and clipped it onto his wrist. Then they could be sure. He would tell the story. ::

:: The horrid task complete, Tan made his way over to where the crying was. ::

:: Two infants he recognized; half-Terran, half-Vulcan children. Asiatic in features, aside from their upswept eyebrows and pointed ears. They were screaming blue murder, but he could see none of their green blood outside of their bodies, but a cursory examination revealed that they had severe bruising. Their little cribs, it seemed, had absorbed most of the impact with their part Vulcan physiology taking care the rest. ::

:: He scooped the infants up in his arms and checked the rest. There were a half-dozen bodies in all, all dead as near as he could tell. ::

:: With a low sigh Tan knew he could do nothing more. Squirming back through the open door, Tan got back into the crawlspace and began the agonizingly slow process of returning to the entrance to the void. ::

T'tala: FIONA! NAKARRAN!

:: As Alleran became close he once again heard T'tala calling out to her children. Another low, ominous groan was heard above him and he stopped again. This shudder took a lot longer to settle than the last. ::

Tan: I've got both of them! They're alive! Doctor Davis, they have some bruises but we're... ::coughing:: ... coming!

Davis: ?

Gilaars: ?

Burt: ?

:: From beyond the tiny hole he heard T'tala break into entirely uncharacteristic crying-laughter, her face blocking most of the light. ::

:: He had crawled as far as he could and needed a break. Stopping for just a moment, Tan rested the two screaming infants down on a stray piece of bulkhead, reaching up to adjust his bandage. ::

:: With a crack-shudder the ceiling above partially gave way, showering debris down on top of him. Shielding the two children with his body he closed his eyes, instinctively, then forced them open when the

Gilaars: ?

Tan: I'm... ::coughing:: ... fine! I'm fine!

:: Forgetting his fatigue, his injuries, the overdose of powerful medication flowing through his body, everything... Tan began a frantic crawl for the exit. ::

Burt: ?

T'tala: Hurry! HURRY!

Davis: ?

:: The exit was close. Close. Only four metres now, just over that fallen support beam... he saw a pair of arms -- whose, he was not sure -- outstretched to grab. The moment he got close he passed the male child into the waiting arms, panting and gasping for air. The arms disappeared, taking with them one of the children. Another, empty, pair appeared... he reached for the second infant, handing her over now. Then, with a shift, he began to crawl - ::

:: - and then with a roar to rival the greatest of dragons, forty tonnes of metal poured down from the ceiling, cascading in as the void collapsed. The noise drowned out any noise the others might make; small hunks of debris hit his back, his head and then an intense, terrible wave of pain like a flame roaring at his heels leapt up his leg, and Tan shrieked in agony despite the large overdose of painkilling medication he'd taken. Crack-crack-crack went the bones of his shin as one of the heavy support struts landed on his dragged leg, like a man rolling his hand over a sheet of bubblewrap. ::

:: Then the rumble ceased and Tan shouted and gasped. He felt people trying to pull him out, but his leg was pinned under the beam which was far too heavy for him to move. ::

Tan: AHHRRRGGH! STOP! STOP! STOP!

:: The Trill flopped down on the metal deck, gasping as his vision spun, dark dots appearing in-front of his vision. For a moment the pain was just too much and there was a momentary shift, as though the symbiont too was overwrought with pain and painkillers alike. ::

(( Drug-And-Pain-Induced-Hallucination ))

:: This place had a strange, dream-like quality to it. Alleran could not explain it... except that it felt very vivid, if surreal. For a moment he felt as though he was back on the USS Independence-A, but as his attention wandered he could see the wider corridors and more spacious layout of the Luna class. Tan was standing outside Holodeck I on the USS Avandar, with none of the destruction all around him. Before the great downfall. ::

:: What happened to him on the Independence was not easily forgotten... the memory burning in the back of his mind like carpet burn; it stung the more he thought about it, constantly irritating him and staying in his mind with that low, persistent sting. ::

:: He had to go back. He had to face his demons. ::

:: Breathing a low sigh, Tan copied the program from his personal collection to the computers of the Avandar. He wondered, idly, if Captain Vetri had ever visited the field of Passion's Rest... his understanding was that she was from a different area of Trill, so it was no more presumptuous to assume that someone raised in Kupang in Indonesia had visited that little shop in Bangalore that was your childhood favourite. Possible, but unlikely. ::

:: But this wasn't about Della, or about Trill, or even about her. This was a test for him. A live-fire exercise... he was returning to the site of one of his most fondest memories. The first real, proper date he'd taken her to. Where they'd first kissed. Where the rain had slicked their clothes together, and the two had shared a moment of passion that would stay with him forever... and through all his hosts, forever more. An immortal memory. ::

:: Programming the simulation to begin about an hour beyond its regular start point, Tan made the final adjustments and then executed the holo-scene. Tapping the last button, all was ready. The Trill hobbled towards the entrance. ::

:: With a dull hiss the doors opened and Alleran drank in the familiar sight. The stormclouds on the horizon, the natural purple sky, the dark blue earth. The fields of red, phosphorescent wheat-like plants bending and swaying in the growing breeze like worshippers before a great deity. ::

:: And oh, the smell of the air... crisp and clean and pure, that brilliant damp smell right before it rains. It was Alleran's favourite smell as a child... rivalled, in adulthood, only the hint of orange juice. ::

:: Hobbling inside the holodeck, the doors closed quietly behind him, and Tan wiggled his toes into the holographic dirt. It was loose and tinged with cobalt, as the soil in this part of Trill typically was... a natural, beautiful dark blue that pulled at Alleran's heartstrings. ::

:: Home. ::

:: Such was his excitement, his glee at returning to this place -- so full to the brim of joyous memories -- that his cane slipped away from his hands, unnoticed, and fell into the ground. Walking without its use, Tan stepped forward and moved along the clearing between two fields. ::

:: The wind picked up and began to blow with more urgency now, and Alleran turned to face the looming thundercloud. Stretching his arms out wide, the Trill emitted a playful laugh -- a real, honest, joyous belly laugh like he hadn't since he didn't even remember when -- and the spots of rain began to pour down, tapping on his face, Tan just closed his eyes and let the whole scene wash over him like a great blackened and bruised blanket, mouth opened in a wide grin, letting the raindrops fall in and be swallowed. ::

:: Home... ::

:: It was like a dream. ::

:: The thing about euphoria is that it can mask pain. Childbirth is a prime example; incredibly painful and dangerous activity, not to be undertaken trivially. But there is a sweet moment... when the child's first cry comes... when the pain, the blood loss, the sacrifice of the event seems to go away... and all that is left is the joy. ::

:: But euphoria fades. ::

:: Like a sudden burst of fire running up his left leg, Alleran felt the agonized cries of his damaged limb override the blissful peace of the moment, the soothing medicine of fond memories joyful times. The leg buckled, causing him to crash bodily to the ground with a howl of agony, curling into an instinctive ball, clutching his wounded limb. His fingers gripped the wounded, dead muscle in his calf so tightly his fingernails s[...]ed across the flesh, drawing thin lines of blood. ::

:: It seemed as though the pain, the agonized burning, would go on forever. He reached for his combadge with a hand, but his fingers were shaking; it was knocked off his chest, clattering and rolling across the ground, well out of reach. ::

:: Two metres was out of reach for him, for now. ::

:: The rain masked the pained tears as the Trill slowly, slowly, massaged the fire in his calf down to a manageable, dull ache. His fingers -- steady enough to move, now -- reached into his pocket and seized the dexatrine hypospray he kept there. Trembling, he dialed it up to maximum strength -- three times his usual dose -- and pressed the device against his neck, depressing the trigger mechanism with a shaking finger. ::

:: The first indication came with a relief of pain, which was an immediate benefit to him. Laying on the holographic blue earth, Alleran felt the rain splatter against his face, against his chest, and against his wounded leg... letting the cool water soothe away the remaining burn. ::

:: Then came lightheadedness, and a dizzy, giddy feeling, as though he were about four beers down at a really classy pub and surrounded by friends and attractive, enthralled bikini-clad supermodels. Rolling completely onto his back now, the Trill blinked away the spots in front of his eyes, staring up at the crackling rainstorm above him and watching the rain fall towards his face in slow motion. A fork of lightning like the lumbering, clumsy hand of a drunk slowly sauntered down towards the ground nearby, cracking a dull, muted crack as it lazily smashed itself into the ground. ::

:: Time seemed to flow slower than usual, and Tan was genuinely unsure of how long he laid there, his mind drifting in and out of awareness as the massive overdose of the moderate-strength painkiller flowed through his body. He felt detached from reality, and viewed his surroundings through a distinctly third-person perspective... looking down at himself, laying in the sodden earth, his clothes soaked to the bone. ::

Marlee: ~~ You know you're going to die if you don't do something. ~~

:: He could hear her, but couldn't see her. Alleran's head flopped weakly to one side. There, like a shining gold beacon in the mud, was a glint of shining metal -- his combadge, polished by the rain, not too far away. ::

:: Tan just closed his eyes, returning his head to level, his face aligned to the sky. ::

Alleran: ~~ It's not so bad... there's no pain at all. I'm sure if I lay here long enough, it'll be a'right... ~~

Marlee: ~~ I've died once, you know... I know what I'm talking about. ~~

:: For once, her voice was quiet and non-judgemental. In fact, she sounded... sad. Which was enough to get some of Alleran's attention back. ::

Alleran: ~~ Mmm...? ~~

Marlee: ~~ It starts with light delirium and it gets... "better". You get tired... sleepy. It's peaceful, really, and you just want to go to sleep, and then... well. A rush of someone else's memories, and you wake up in another body. ~~

:: Speaking out loud, now, Alleran kept his eyes closed. His voice sounded slurred to his own ears, and he clicked his tongue at the end of the sentence. ::

Tan: Maybe that wouldn't be so bad.

:: Rolling his head to the side again, Alleran looked at his own hand. A hand that now clutched his combadge. He had not consciously moved himself closer to the device, and he hadn't picked it up. Blinking in surprise, the Trill stared at it for a moment. ::

:: Materializing at the edge of his blurred vision, Marlee gave an apologetic shrug. ::

Marlee: ~~ Sorry, I have to drive for a bit. ~~

:: Against his will his thumb tapped the central symbol of the badge and it chirped. Words came from his mouth, and he heard himself say them, even knowing they came not from his host's head but from that strange creature dwelling in his pouch. "Lieutenant Tan to Doctor Malcolm," he heard his own voice say, "I'm sorry... we found her. She's in a bad way..." ::

:: And then, like a marionette with its strings cut, Tan felt control returning to his own body. Through his blurred mind he could hear someone speaking... the doctor. Of course. He tried to keep his slurring down, but it felt like his tongue was numb. ::

:: Slowly, the vision faded... ::

(( Daycare, USS Avandar ))

:: Screaming. Screaming from the infants. Screaming from people trying to offer him advice and suggestions. And then, as his mind became conscious of the pain it was experiencing once again, screaming from him. ::

Malcolm: =/\= ? =/\= ((OOC: I imagine Tan's activated his combadge in his demented state. ))

:: He was pinned face down in the rubble. Twisting his body in a panic he could see his leg -- crushed just below the knee and firmly pinned to the deck -- his blood pouring out onto the metal. The limb was securely lodged, the force of the impact having shattered his bones. ::

:: Another ominous rumbling above him, and this time Tan knew the collapse would be complete. The Trill was presented with a simple choice; become free, or be crushed under the collapse of the upper decks of the starship as they fell down and splattered him like a bug. Hands were trying to reach out to him, but they were about a foot too short -- not that it mattered. The rope was security around his waist and there was no way he was going anywhere. ::

:: The low rumble started up again and Tan knew what he had to do. Reaching for the laser cutter on his belt he switched it to a high intensity beam, gritted his teeth and, with a high-pitched whine, sliced off the shattered limb just below the knee. ::

:: White pain exploded directly into his mind and he almost blacked out again, but sheer panic and terror kept him going. He crawled using only his arms, the stump of his leg dragging on the metal of the deck as he crawled the last few metres to the waiting arms, his hands falling into theirs. He felt himself being dragged and lifted, heard the roar as the last of the starship's upper decks fell into daycare, completely filling the void just as he was pulled out of it. ::

:: Would the noise be heard from outside? Tan wondered, for a moment, if the survivors outside had heard or seen it... or not. And then there were voices. Voices from his combadge, voices of the people dragging him out and laying him out in the ruins of the starship... ::

(( Flashback: Six Years Ago, Shuttle 3134 crash site ))

:: Alleran Mapak didn't know what to do. The woman was dying. Her arm was severed, laying in a pool of blood. Her skin was a ghostly white. The medics worked on her, frantically, until finally the CMO gave up. ::

CMO: That's it, she's too far gone. We're pulling the symbiont.

:: The woman's head flopped weakly. She was still alive! ::

Mapak: W-Wait- that woman's not d-dead yet!

:: The CMO rolled his eyes. ::

CMO: Doesn't matter, kid. She'll die from these wound- we can't get her to a medical facility in time. A pre-mortum extraction greatly decreases stress on the symbiont. That's what counts.

:: He called over one of the three rescue party members, a human woman with dark black skin. ::

CMO: Okay, I'm going to need twelve CC's of tetraphoramine- we'll trigger a chemical rejection and extract. Prep the status chamber.

:: Alleran could barely watch- he'd only had a few words with this "Marlee" character, but already he liked her. She was kind and wise beyond even her considerable years. ::

Nurse: Done. Okay, I'm going to extract it... careful, careful- give me a hand here.

:: The two reached into the dying woman's pouch, extracting a short, stubby worm with a bleeding gash down its flank. ::

CMO: [...]- there's a tear along the epidermis. It'll get infected... we can't move it like this.

:: The Trill medical officer looked frustrated. ::

CMO: How long until a transplant crew and new host can make it here? We need to transplant within four hours or the infection will be too severe.

Nurse: At this distance... a couple of days, maybe more, assuming they left immediately.

:: The Trill CMO growled angrily. He knew it wouldn't survive that long. He, himself, was joined- the one nurse was a human, the other had a medical condition which prevented joining. They'd discussed it at length several months previous. That only left... ::

CMO: Hey, kid. You wanna live forever?

:: Mapak's eyes went wide. They were offering him the symbiont? He glanced between the beautiful, slimy worm and its previous owner, who seemed to grow weaker and weaker. She held a look of... curiousity, as though trying to judge him. ::

Mapak: I- I can't. Why don't y-you take it?

CMO: I'm joined already, you idiot. And... yes, you can. You can. It's that or the symbiont dies.

:: Mapak felt his panic well up in him. Take on the role of a host?! That wasn't possible! He was just a normal person- an everyday shuttle pilot, one of thousands all over this whole system. He wasn't any good academically, he wasn't smart or brave or wise or any of those things.

Mapak: I'm not g-good enough- I'm not even a-an initiate! I can't!

:: The CMO stepped up to him, thrusting the wounded symbiont at him once more. ::

CMO: We can seal the wound, but it has to be implanted or neutral degradation will begin. If you REALLY can't stomach the idea, we'll look at a rapid extraction when we return. You'll probably survive. But you need to do this.

:: The lives of the symbionts were paramount. Mapak knew that... everyone knew that. With a groan, he nodded his head. ::

Mapak: O-Oh gods...

:: He lay on his back, on the debris. The medical team went to work- the human nurse cut away his shirt while the Trill CMO worked some device over the symbiont. The bleeding stopped, thick scar tissue developing on the injury. He felt the humans hands- unnaturally warm, to the cool-handed Trill- lift the flap of skin over his pouch. He blushed furiously. A girl was touching him- a real girl! He couldn't believe it. ::

:: The symbiont squirmed in the CMO's hands, apparently disliking the cool air. He placed it into the pouch, letting it squirm inside. For a moment, nothing happened. And then... ::

(( Flashback ends... ))

:: And then, as Tan stared at the blood-splattered charm bracelet still attached to his wrist, the world slowly went white. ::

TBC...

-----

Lt. Alleran Tan

Operations

USS Avandar

Edited by FltAdml. Wolf
Adding Round 2 prefix.
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