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"Adequate"

Haven III

During the Gorn War

It happened so fast. My blood poured onto the sand of Haven III, green and vivid and coppery, flowing from the burned stump where, seconds earlier, my hand had been. Another Gorn disrupter blast flew over my head, then another, little green beams in the twilight.

My team hit the ground with the trained precision of Starfleet Marines. I fell with them, trying to spot where the deadly beams of light were coming from.

"It's an ambush. Contact right, six hundred metres, four foot mobiles concealed behind dunes." As an afterthought, I added, "Medic."

"SERVAN! Servan's hit, he's hit!"

Her voice. Katelynn Evans. Pure Louisianan accent, now thick with panic. Illogical panic. I assessed my tactical situation; we were in a depression between two sand dunes, which made egress to either side extremely difficult. If we moved backward, we would have no cover and our attackers would enfilade us. It was easy to hit a target moving toward or away from you.

A green blast struck the meagre cover shielding me from death, the sizzle of evaporated sand filling my sensitive nostrils.

"Remain in a prone position!" I called over the sound of further disrupter fire, trying to staunch the bleeding with my remaining hand. My phaser was too far away to reach and impossible to operate with one hand. Preserving my lifeblood was the optimal course of action.

I heard the chirp of a combadge followed by Evans's southern drawl. "Marine Captain Evans to USS Carl Sagan, request emergency transport; lock on to First Lieutenant Servan's combadge and transport him directly to sickbay!"

Twin whines of fire from behind me and two crimson lances flew through the night, impacting some target I couldn't see behind cover. I heard swearing, which indicated Evans had missed.

"You hang tight, you dang pointy eared [...], we're going to get you out of here. We're going to get- contact left!"

Two more shots. Suddenly we were exposed from our flank, too. This was an extremely disadvantageous tactical position.

"Negative on the emergency transport," came a response through Evans's combadge, difficult to hear over the sound of exchanged energy weapon fire. "Can't lower our shields."

"Fine! I'll get him myself! X'xxar, gimme that coagulant charge!"

My eyebrows flew up and I dared to poke my head above the tiny ridge that was keeping me alive. "Captain Evans! I request you remain in a prone position!"

A shadow, familiar and Human, clad in a Starfleet uniform, ran towards me through the gloom, highlighted on both sides by lurid green flashes, like the fingers of some giant trying to catch her and squeeze the life out of her. Marine Captain Evans crashed onto the ground beside me, panting wildly, her hands grasping my uniform.

"Where are you hit? Show me where you're hit!"

She hadn't been hit, somehow. I felt the beginnings of the insidious tempting tendril of emotion creeping into my mind. Relief for this fact. Worry that she had exposed herself to a statistically disadvantageous course of action. Concern for her well-being.

My wound was extremely painful so my ability to shield myself from the pry-bar of emotional instability was reduced.

"Hand." I held up the stump. I saw her face, illuminated by the weapons exchange, a mask of horror and shock.

"Okay. You can't stay here." She propped her phaser rifle against the dune, firing at distant shadows. "I'm going to carry you out so we can get that little boo-boo treated. Ready?"

Taking stock of our precarious position I shook my head. "Negative. That is a tactically unsound decision. We should wait for orbital support."

"There ain't no orbital support." Evans fired again. I swallowed, glancing down at the growing pool of green blood seeping into the hungry sand.

"Then I must remain here. I... require you to not endanger yourself unnecessarily."

She turned, staring at me, confusion painted on her face. "What? What does that even mean?"

I grit my teeth, feeling another wave of pain couple with a light-headed feeling. There was a high probability my blood-loss was affecting my ability to control my emotions but I couldn't stop myself from saying what came next.

"I need you to remain physically unharmed. I need... you."

Feelings. Emotions, worming their way into my head.

Evans stared at me in confusion. "What? I..."

I reached out with my remaining hand, placing it on her shoulder. "You are..." I struggled to find the right word. "... adequate."

A low, confused laugh. "My, you really know how to charm a girl." She lined up another shot, firing into the darkness. "Your timing sucks, too, by the way."

"My linguistics capabilities are not relevant at this juncture, and while I may not be articulating myself at the optimum chronological and temporal placement I understand that-"

Her lips pressed to mine and, suddenly, the raging combat around me disappeared. I felt like I was being transported away and, for a moment, I thought that the Carl Sagan had come through for me.

But the kiss ended and the battle reappeared like a paused holoprogram.

"Time to go." She threw her rifle down and, with a groan, hoisted me up. I was too weak from blood loss and shock from the surge of emotions to offer much resistance, although I wanted to. I felt my body being upended and thrown over her shoulder. Then all I could see was sand as she ran through the night, back towards our lines.

My vision swam and, slowly, I felt my consciousness slip away.

*****

Later...

I recognised the light from sickbay before I even opened my eyes, the faint red glow around my vision being too bright to be anything else.

"Wake-y wake-y," came Katelynn's voice. "You made it, big guy."

I opened my eyes and, just as I predicted, found myself staring at the ceiling of the Carl Sagan's sickbay. "How long have I been unconscious?"

"A few hours," she answered, "we fought off the Gorn and made our way to a cave network south of the dune sea. Finally we got a beamout. Doc' T'arr gave you one of them fancy prosthetics, and you'll be good as new in a few days."

I shifted uncomfortably, raising my right arm. There, on the end of my arm, was a perfectly functional hand. I gave the fingers a controlled squeeze to test the functionality -- it was like nothing had ever happened.

"This is adequate work."

"There's that word again." Katelynn crouched down by my biobed, resting her chin against the side. "You remember?"

I remembered. I remembered the invading feeling of emotions creeping into my normally disciplined mind. I remembered feeling weak, saying things I wouldn't -- couldn't -- normally say.

I remembered liking it.

I didn't say anything and Katelynn smiled weakly. "Does this mean you're going to 'request I remain in a prone position' later?"

I blinked. "I do not understand."

She laughed, patting my side. "Of course you don't." Her smile became strangely impish and she leaned in, her face close to mine, whispering into my ear.

"I'll show you later."

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