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Winner: Heritage of the Lost


Wilmer

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<b>((Forsythe Manor, Oxford, Earth))

Halloween - 2391</b>

Time had passed since the USS Excalibur had been decommissioned and Charlotte Farnsworth had lost her position as proprietor of the Round Table lounge. It had, in truth, been the shortest job she had ever had. Suffice it to say, it had been ultimately unfulfilling, and understandably so.

After all, there had been very little time to acclimate to her new civilian position aboard that vessel. Her entire time spent there; a ruse, meant to further her personal gain and expand her profit margin. For a human raised on Earth in the latter half of the 24th century, Charlotte was remarkably capitalistic and selfish, much like a Ferengi.

However, with that deception over before it began. Now destitute with nowhere else left to go, she found herself on the first transport back to Earth; to the home she had grown up in. Once arriving in Oxford, she had decided to walk, and took a rather circuitous route to get home.

The air was still as she walked there; the night dark and perfect, full of no disturbances, or nasty meteorological surprises. Earth’s weather modification network saw to that.

Charlotte had remembered one time, when she was a very young girl that the network had gone down, and she had the fortune, the delight and the fear of observing her first uncontrolled thunderstorm. Her deep chestnut colored eyes had widened at the sight of violent tempestuous winds, and peculiarly purple green skies.

Lightning had struck the old oak tree just outside her bedroom window, splitting it in two, sending wooden shards through the air, across the lawn.

She stood still, all those years ago, paralyzed by fear, neither moving, nor breathing, until her father had come, spiriting her away in his arms, to safety—deeper into the manor.

Now she stood before the entrance to her home, paralyzed by a different kind of fear. Many years had passed since that night, she was an adult now, and yet she felt herself frozen and unmoving, staring up at the great and dark manor house, wishing that someone would spirit her away again; take her to a place of safety.

She wanted someone to hold her. She wanted Nate to hold her, not that he ever would again, she reasoned.

Taking a deep breath, she gathered herself and placed one hand on the old wooden front door. The latch was an antiquated one. Her mother and father believed in preserving the old ways.

A manor house should resemble a true English manor house, her father had once said.

No automatic separating doors, no replicators, no electricity would ever enter their 600 year old ancestral family home; though her father eventually relented on the electricity. It was nearly impossible being an architect without designing your drafts on some sort of holographical interface computer.

Still, once her parents had died, Forsythe manor had been removed from Oxford’s power grid, and remained dark, and cold.

Charlotte clutched the brass handle latch and opened it. With no crime, it was not necessary to lock the front door, and it opened freely without incident.

This astonished Charlotte greatly. Though she was only twenty four years old, she was remarkably jaded, having spent so much time onboard space stations, surrounded by aliens with a cornucopia of different philosophical veins. Not everyone believed in benevolent vision of the Federation.

Some people pilfered the things they wanted….

Charlotte’s mouth crooked to one side, giving a snarky smile.

“Small towns…” She said quietly to herself.

The door creaked slowly open, allowing the all too familiar cracks and groans of expanding wood to fill her ears. Walking inside, Charlotte looked around the baronial old manor. An old fashioned longcase clock stood silently in the foyer, neither giving accurate time, nor ticking in the way she had remembered as a child.

Carved into its old weathered case door, were the words: Imperious Rex.

It was the Latin motto of their family crest of arms. She’d never really thought about its implied meaning until now, but there was something blatantly arrogant about it; like her. Long ago, families with supposedly royal blood claimed much for themselves, including the right to rule others.

Charlotte did not wish to rule. She simply wanted to prevent others from having such complete control over her life. She would never allow such control to be given to another again. Not as long as she lived.

Fumbling about in the darkness, she got to the matter of why she had come home in the first place. Reaching into the leather satchel she carried on her shoulder, she pulled out a plasma torch, and walked up the grand staircase, to the upstairs bedroom, at the end of the grand hall.

This place was her room, this place, to some degree, still registered as home…

Charlotte pulled the old door open and stepped inside. The room was completely empty, devoid of furniture. Upon the sudden and accidental death of her parents, the first thing the magistrate had done was to ask her permission to donate the pieces inside some of the rooms, to one of the local museums. Charlotte had reluctantly agreed and discovered that her bedroom was one such room that had been cannibalized.

This made sense to her, since it was at one point, full of old Louis the 14th furniture, works of art, and unusual objet d'art.

Charlotte panicked for a moment, fearing that it too, the reason she was here, might have also been discovered, and claimed by the Federation magistrate.

However, that could not be. Had a Federation official discovered what was hidden in this house, it would have immediately come to her attention. Starfleet security might have been involved, and almost certainly she would have been detained onboard the Excalibur, until such time as an inquiry could be held.

No, she told herself, it was here. It just had to be…

Sweeping her long, brown hair from her eyes, and over her shoulder, she knelt to the floor, where her bed had once been.

Taking the plasma torch, she cut a hole in the floorboards and separated them. The wood cut easily, like the old Earth metaphor of a hot knife through butter.

She deactivated the plasma tool and took a moment, peering into the blackness of the empty void between the floor boards. A jewelry box sized hole stared back at her, daring her to explore its emptiness with her hands.

With no reluctance, or fearful hesitation, she plunged her right hand into the floor space, without thinking. Would that her hands might brush a furry, living creature, or perhaps be bitten by the large and angry teeth of a rat, the empty, silent Oxford air would be filled with her sudden and unplanned bloodcurdling scream.

Though rabies had been eradicated on Earth centuries ago, she had no desire to be bitten by vermin.

Still, her hands found nothing, short of the object she had been looking for. She smiled, and her hands quickly returned from the hole, with the hidden treasure.

It was an ancient dueling pistols case, covered in dust, but retaining every bit of its old charm, and regal elegance. It’s surface felt smooth to her touch, and it showed no signs of significant wear.

Charlotte bit her lower lip and played with the metallic clasp, which held its ornate lid closed. Her grandfather, a midshipman in Starfleet, had claimed to have stolen this object from a high security Federation storage locker. He had told her stories of how it had been found on a rogue planetoid, near the star desert close to the Beta colonies.

How such an antique of earth origins had found its way so far out into space, had been a mystery to her grandfather, and so he had held onto the curiosity, and passed it from one generation to the next.

Once, when she was six years old, her grandfather had taken her aside. He told her the story of how “the find” as he called it, how it had spoken to him, and shown him visions of the future. He claimed the “find” was magic, and held special properties. Grandfather had told her that it was her destiny to keep the find hidden safe, to never show it to her father, who would, as she remembered it, “never understand the importance of it.”

And so, she had done just that, whisking the case away, and hiding it in the floor beneath her bed.

Years afterward, her grandfather had gone mad. The doctors at Starfleet medical had diagnosed it as a rare form of transporter psychosis. However, there was ultimately nothing that could be done for him, and he died alone, incredibly medicated and sedated, restrained by a forcefield, and rambling about the darkness that would one-day consume the Alpha Quadrant.

Charlotte felt a tear come to her eye as she held the box. That would never happen to her, she told herself. She would escape the madness, even if she had to run all the way to the edge of the galaxy.

Closing her eyes, she opened the box instinctively, and removed the find. It fit perfectly into her hand, as if it was always meant to be there. Its weight was real, and yet somehow, insubstantial at the same time; its textures both tangible and intangible.

She felt lightheaded a moment, but then calm, and powerful.

And then the thing happened, the thing her mind told her she had imagined, but yet was too real to ignore…

A man’s voice spoke to her.

The voice was light and yet aristocratic, commanding, and yet filled with the playful arrogance of a bullying child.

<i>Ah yes, my fair maiden child. A powerful set of dueling pistols. My most favorite pair, I will admit…</i>

Her eyes shot open, as the voice was loud and thundering and was heard not only by her mind, but by her ears as well.

Charlotte’s eyes darted about the room, looking for the source of the voice, and realized that it was coming from the dueling pistol in her hand. As impossible at it seemed, the weapon vibrated with the rolling vibrato of a man’s voice.

She startled and dropped the weapon back into the green velvet lined box. The voice in her mind was not pleased with her sudden start and chastised her.

<i>Now, now, Maiden-fair, is that any way to treat such noble and honorable trappings of the aristocracy true? You and I are not so different, you must know. Your family from such a long and noble history and I being who I am…</i>

Charlotte had no choice but to address the madness in the dark, and so hoped to steady herself by the sound of her own voice.

The weak and trembling timidity that came from her throat embarrassed her, as she had never heard that kind of warble in her own tone before. She attempted to maintain a stiff upper lip and spoke with firm British resolve in her voice.

…But the tremolo was still there.

“Who… who are you?” She swallowed hard, “Where… are you?”

The empty English bedroom filled with maniacal and echoing laughter, which came from everywhere and nowhere all at once, bouncing off the darkened, Victorian wainscoting.

<i>I, my young child, am everywhere…</i>

The laughter continued.

<i>And would that you not yet recognize the nobility in my name, should look only to your hands, to learn my heritage true. </i>

Charlotte’s eyes immediately shot down to her hands. The pistol, now fully [...]ed and loaded, rested firmly in her grip. An inscribed plaque, covered with centuries of old, smudged powder, was detected by the dim light cast to her eyes.

Though in the dead of midnight, her eyes could still see a touch of moonlight gleam about its filthy inscription. The voice continued to speak…

<i>Yes, I have become quite bored over the centuries, my little dear, so you will act as my ears and eyes to this new time. Though I am forbidden from playing outside, I was never told that I could not have my playthings outside.</i>

Charlotte broke into a cold sweat at the disembodied voices use of the word plaything. What had turned into a selfish attempt on her part to sell a valuable antique to book passage back into deep space, had turned into a manifestation of the phantasma diabolique.

Charlotte spoke in fear again…

“What do you want from me?”

The laughter continued.

<i>You and I will do great things together, fair maiden. But such planning will come in time. For now, the General’s pistols require cleaning. Oh the humanity of storing such weapons of power beneath ones floorboards. For shame! For shame!</i>

Charlotte’s cold, and sweating hands worked furiously at the inscription, cleaning it, wearing away at it, removing layers of ancient grime. She had to read the plaque, had to learn what this was about. She had to discover the truth, even it killed her.

She was a woman possessed. Her hands moved with such intention, and seem propelled by invisible forces beyond her understanding.

The reward for her obedience and sudden insanity, became clear. The golden plaque, now clean enough to be read, danced in the dim light of her bedroom.

It was a single word, a single name.

The voice continued to laugh as she read the word aloud. The laughter vibrated her hands, trembling her arms in fear, as her face grimaced in terror, and her heart froze inside her chest.

Charlotte struggled on the word, as it formed in her brain, and then left her mouth, with portents that could not be described.

“Trelane.” Charlotte choked on the name. “Your name… is… Trelane….”

<b>

Charlotte Farnsworth

PNPC of Ensign Nathaniel Wilmer

USS Apollo-A

</b>

Edited by Wilmer
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