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Lt JG Vanessa Driscoll "This is the end" (complete)

LtCmdr Alexander Richards

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I know Jeremy already submitted part 3, but I wanted to submit all three parts as one sim because as sad and well written as part three is, the whole closing chapter of the character of Vanessa Driscoll is heart breaking and touching and well worth the read as a complete short story.

((Rathos Prime, an idyllic spot))

:: As the whirling, blueish particle stream of the beaming process was slowly replaced with normal sight again, Vanessa took a look around. On her right there was a small river, which was peacefully burbling its way towards a lake on which the light of the sun was sparkling like thousand little stars. On her left there was just wood. No one could be seen or heard from her position. The only thing reminding her of civilisation and her Starfleet colleagues was some Starfleet emergency equipment that they had beamed there.

This was really a nice spot. The first thing now that she was alone was to get rid of her EVA suit. The science officer would not need it any more. At least not now that the sun was shining so nice and warm from the Rathosian sky. Vanessa looked for a nice spot to sit down as she felt a little weak. Not far from the place she had been beamed to was a nice big tree, right beside the little river. This was the spot she chose, so she sat down and leaned against the tree. Its bark was warm and Vanessa closed her eyes for a moment just concentrating on the bubbling water from the river. She had always liked to listen to water. It reminded her of her home planet Toral IV, the colony where she had grown-up and where she had spent hours playing and sitting next to a little river not far from her family’s home.

Only the thought of it, the pure memory of those precious little moments of her past made her feel lighter and warmer inside, as she could feel the warm sun on her face and body. Those moments were precious, very precious to her as she would never be able to go back there again and as she would not be able to see her brother again.

Vanessa had to cough again. Doctor Frankenstein had scanned her earlier and had told her that the pathogen had attacked her lungs. 24 hours… that was the number which echoed in her mind. That would be about the time she had left. She could feel her body as it became weaker due to the infection. Breathing was becoming harder and harder and she had already had several cough attacks. But the worst thing about the infection was the terrible pain. She had taken some painkillers before beaming out, so right now she was feeling quite well, given the circumstances. Right next to her she kept a hypo that they had handed her with more painkillers. Vanessa wondered what would happen if she administered herself all the doses at once. Would she just fall asleep and… drift away without any pain? Would it even be enough to do that?

She looked at her left side. There was the phaser that T’Mar had given her earlier to defend herself. But perhaps she could also use it for a different purpose, if she wasn’t able to bear the pain anymore?

Right after that thought had crossed her mind, she shook her head. She didn’t feel like taking her own life. It still seemed wrong to her. But even now as she tried to convince herself that this was not a way she would choose, there was a little spark of doubt deep inside her. Who could tell how she would think about it when the painkillers wouldn’t work anymore.

The fear was there – fear of not knowing how her last hours would be like and how hard her fight with the illness and eventually death would be. She really didn’t want to be alone then. Vanessa looked around and hoped that Tosz, the Rathosian civilian who had promised to stay with her till the bitter end, would be able to find her here. He had been given the coordinates. Hopefully he would be able to get away from the lab safely.

Then as she closed her eyes again and listened to the water, she thought of her crewmates who had hopefully made it back to the ship somewhere up there in orbit – and the friends she would not be able to see again. Vanessa didn’t know how long they would remain in orbit or if they would leave as soon as possible. ::

Driscoll: Godspeed, Gemini.

:: She said looking towards the sky with tears in her eyes. ::

:: Suddenly, Vanessa awoke as she had heard a noise coming from the woods. She must have fallen asleep in the warm sun. No wonder as she was feeling very weak as well. The illness had clearly left its mark on Vanessa. She grabbed her phaser, just in case it was a wild animal or some Rathosian mob who had managed to find her. Then she was able to see a figure coming out of the woods that seemed familiar. ::

Tosz: Ah, thank the Gods. I found you.

:: Vanessa put her phaser down and smiled. ::

Driscoll: Tosz. You… made it.

:: Surprised how deeply relieved she felt now that she didn’t have to be alone anymore, she beckoned the Rathosian over. As Tosz came nearer he looked at her before he sat down next to her. The young woman was already ravaged by the disease, but Tosz didn’t want to show any sadness. He was here to give her strength for her last hours – and because he felt he had to do it out of personal reasons. ::

Tosz: This is really an idyllic spot. The right spot to… :: He paused to search for the right words ::

Driscoll: No false modesty… a nice spot to die.

:: Tosz looked at the Starfleet officer. Her eyes showed a severe and frank expression. ::

Tosz: A nice spot to … spend a few hours with you.

:: Vanessa looked at him then she smiled. ::

Driscoll: I am really glad that you made it here.

:: This was indeed more than strange. A few hours ago they hadn’t even known each other. Vanessa had come down to the planet to help the Rathosians and find a cure for the disease. Tosz had fought against police forces – and his inner anger and demons. Now they were both sitting at a picturesque spot somewhere in the nature preserve – far away from the problems, the government, the anger and fights. At least it seemed that way. ::

Tosz: I promised you to come and I keep my promises. No one should be alone in such a situation.

:: Vanessa nodded. That was indeed true. She knew that no one of her colleagues could be here and stay with her. And she was not able to go back to them or to the ship that had become home for her although she had not been on board that long. Her brother was light years away and wouldn’t even know what she had to face now. But this unknown alien would stay with her. ::

Driscoll: Did you get out without problems?

Tosz: :: nodding :: I waited a moment and used the chance to escape as your friends left. They all made it out safely, Vanessa. Then I sneaked out the back door you could say. It seemed the other Rathosians were in panic and no one really kept an eye on the others. With the coordinates your friends sent me, I was able to find you here… even though.

:: He paused waiting for the questioning look of Vanessa::

Tosz: Even though I had to make my way through all sort of vegetation and thorny bushes and I almost fell into a little stream not far from here. The stones were quite slippery.

:: They both laughed. It was great to see Vanessa laugh. It reminded Tosz of his daughter. Whenever his daughter had been depressed or didn’t feel good, he had been able to make her laugh… even though those moments became rare towards the end. The rarer they got, the more precious they were. ::

Driscoll: I knew I was better off lying here in the sun waiting for you.

:: It was good to see that she hadn’t lost her humour either. ::

Tosz: Do you want something to drink?

Driscoll: That would be great.

Tosz: Alright, let me see if your friends left us something here. Although I guess, I won’t be able to bring you a [...]tail to add some perfection to your sunbath there.

Driscoll: I knew there was a catch.

:: They both laughed again until Vanessa got another spasm of coughing. She was holding her chest as it seemed as if her lungs were going up in flames. With two big jumps, Tosz was over there again next to Vanessa, holding her as she leaned forward. Slowly, she recovered from her cough attack, but the hand she had held in front of her mouth was red… She had coughed blood. ::

Tosz: Did they leave you anything to fight the pain?

:: Vanessa just nodded and pointed to the hypospray. Tosz took it and looked at it. It was quite similar to the injections he knew. He handed her the hypo and Vanessa injected herself a painkiller. Then she closed her eyes, leaning back against the tree again. ::

:: She took a deep breath, but Tosz could hear a gurgling sound accompanying every breath that hadn’t been there earlier. It seemed that Vanessa wouldn’t have as much time left as he had hoped. When she opened her eyes again, she was able to see the sun just over the horizon. A long, red-orange reflection was showing on the calm water of the lake as the sun slowly set. ::

They both just sat there, as Vanessa watched what was very likely to be her last sunset. ::

:: They both kept looking in silence for a moment. ::

Driscoll: Do you… believe in a life… after death, Tosz?

:: He kept his eyes on the stars, but felt the questioning look of Vanessa. ::

Tosz: Our people believe in a life after death, yes.

Driscoll: What about you? Do … you believe in it?

:: That was indeed a good question. He had never been that religious, but this whole Armageddon that his people and his world was facing had somehow changed something inside him. It would have been enough for many people to lose their faith, but for Tosz it somehow caused the opposite to happen. ::

Tosz: Yes, I do… This is such a vast and… wondrous universe. And I tend to believe that there must be something awaiting us.

:: Tosz looked at Vanessa giving her a reassuring look. He didn’t just say it to comfort a person who was dying. Tosz really believed in what he was saying. ::

Driscoll: I… hope that… you

:: Another heave cough attack followed. When it was over there was again blood so Tosz wiped it off and gave her another dose of the painkiller. It still worked and he could see that Vanessa felt slightly better again. The pain she had to go through was unimaginable, but she was still brave. She was looking at Tosz and her eyes clearly reflected the thankfulness she felt for the man she hadn’t even known a few hours ago. Now he stayed with her as he had promised. He kept his promise and Vanessa didn’t have to be here alone, dying alone on a planet without her friends near. ::

Driscoll: Thank … you…

Tosz: Don’t mention it. :: pause :: You know, you somehow remind me of my wife. She… she died a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have the chance to be with her when… when it happened.

:: Tosz looked at the calm and serene lake lying before him. ::

Tosz: I was trying to get help, find a doctor who would come to us and help her, but no one would come. Some didn’t even care or open their doors for me. They were afraid of getting infected as well. Can you imagine this? Doctors!

: :One could still hear the anger and deep sadness that had almost broken this man. ::

Tosz: When I came home, she was already dead and because they had been afraid of getting infected as well, they had burned their body… I wasn’t even able to say goodbye to her. :: beat. :: Then my daughter became ill. And she was shot by the police force when I tried to reach that hospital. Again I was not able to say good bye.

:: Tosz looked at Vanessa who was still looking directly at him. ::

Tosz: When I saw you in the lab, I knew you were infected, and all that because you were here to help us. Our own doctors didn’t come, our own police shot us dead, but you – an outworlder – came here to our planet to try to help us. And then you had to pay the price.

:: Tosz took a deep breath as he felt his anger coming up again – an anger which he didn’t want to feel now that he was here to stay with a young woman who was about to die. ::

Tosz: It is the least I can do for you. The least I can do to honour you and what you tried to do to help us.

:: Vanessa smiled at him, but she was not saying anything. She tried to keep her eyes open, but eventually failed. Tosz saw that she tried to reach him with her hand, but she was too weak, so he took her hand and held it. He looked at her and watched her chest as it slowly went up and down again… One more breath… and one more… He still watched her as she did her last breath. It was almost like falling asleep. But he still kept sitting there, holding her hand looking up towards the stars and to the one sparkling light she had shown to him earlier.

:: As the sun slowly started to light up the scene, Tosz was standing there in silence. He was speaking an old traditional prayer to the Gods he had almost forgotten. Tosz had never been a religious man, but now it felt right to say at least one of those old prayers that his grandmother had taught him.

In front of him there was a pile of rocks he had gathered the whole night to cover the grave of Vanessa Driscoll. She wasn’t able to go home again – not even her remains. And Tosz was not able to leave her body lying here due to the wild animals. So he had buried her. This would be the place where she would rest and as long as he was here and alive, he would be coming here and visit her every now and then. As he had finished saying his prayers, he put a little flower on the pile of stones.

Then he grabbed the only thing that was still here – Vanessa’s communicator. He had used it to contact the authorities of Rathos Prime. They had been surprised to be hailed via a Starfleet signal and then being greeted by a Rathosian. Tosz had asked them to send a message to the Gemini and they had agreed. The message was simple and plain: --Your crewmate Vanessa Driscoll died this night – peacefully and quiet she just fell asleep. Tosz –

:: Then Tosz put the communicator on the top stone and turned round to leave. He had kept his promise. ::


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