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[2005: FEB-MAR] A Chance To Live

FltCapt. Sidney Riley

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The colors, which danced across the viewscreen, were beautiful; pinks, purples and a series of opalescent whites displayed themselves in a frenzied manner. If the circumstances had been different it would have been beautiful. Not to mention an exciting opportunity for scientific study. But, the circumstances were not.

The multicolor cloud-like entity still encased the small craft and was still draining its power. Lt. Ryan Aidan Riley stared at the multicolored viewscreen and the reading of how much power remained, barely enough to power minimal life support. The tired engineer tried to relax his tense muscles by sitting down, as he did his gaze shifted to the back of the ship. His eyes focused on the small child sleeping on the floor, his Shannon. Ryan silently thanked the powers that be that his six-year-old daughter had drifted to sleep about twenty minutes after they had first encountered the entity. At least she was being spared the knowledge of what was happening. She would not be afraid.

Ryan ran through the situation again in his mind trying to find a solution. Perhaps if he were smarter or had followed a different course this would not have happened. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He still had so much to accomplish. Ryan ran his hand through his sweat soaked hair, pushing the stray strands from his eyes. He bent over and rested his head in his hands; it wasn’t supposed to be like this.

It had been a routine visit. Well, routine ever since Cheyenne had wanted the divorce. He had never wanted it. He loved her and their twins. The twins, Shannon and Sidney, they had been inseparable, until the divorce. Cheyenne had left for Vulcan to continue her research and get remarried. She had taken Shannon and he had Sidney. Ryan sighed. The negotiated agreement had included a visit or swap for one week once every two months. It was a routine visit; in fact he and Shannon were on their way back to Vulcan. Shannon had been excited about returning home and he had been excited about picking up Sidney. Sidney, what would she do without him? They were father and daughter, but they were also the best of buddies.

Ryan was lifted out of his thoughts as the ship rocked slightly but suddenly to the left. Almost instinctively he looked to the screen to see the multicolor still dancing across it. Ryan took a deep breath and then slowly exhaled. He watched a small cloud form as he did. Ryan walked around, pulled out another blanket, laid it over Shannon and then returned to the console. He checked the automated distress call. It had been running for two hours. It was the only thing running except life support. Why had someone not responded? Where was Starfleet, or anyone else for that matter? They were still in the Alpha Quadrant. Ryan hit his fist on the console. Things like this just weren’t supposed to happen. He had nothing to work with.

((One Hour Later))

Ryan looked down at his blue tinted hands. He didn’t know how much longer they would be able to last; he was an engineer not a medical officer. He really wished he had a doctor there, but it would have been one more person trapped. He pulled his hands into his uniform sleeves and glanced towards Shannon. She was still sleeping and he was thankful.

((23 Minutes Later))

Ryan awoke with a start. He thought he heard something. His joints were stiff and he had a hard time getting up and moving to the console. Ryan stared at the console in disbelief. Someone was there, a way out.

Ryan decided to break the silence, “Who is there?”

A gruff voice answered his call, “Who we are is not important Starfleet. You require assistance?”

“Yes. The entity has drained most of the power from this vessel and we are losing life support and request assistance.”

There was a pause and then the voice continued, “If we get too close the entity will also attack us. However, we can beam one of you over to our vessel.”

Ryan paused and looked at his sleeping daughter. Who these people were he did not know, but he did know he did not want his daughter to die this way. “My daughter can you take her to the nearest Starbase?”

Another pause greeted his question, “We could.”

Ryan did not hesitate. He grabbed Shannon’s bag from the back and gently woke her.

“Shannon? Wake up.” He gently put his hand on her shoulder.

Shannon opened her eyes slowly. “Daddy?” Shannon stretched, “It’s cold.”

“I know Shannon. I need you to listen; our ship is broken and there are some people here who are going to give us a ride to a Starbase.” Ryan watched Shannon; she still appeared to be half asleep.

“It’s cold, Daddy.”

“Shannon, I need you to listen carefully. It won’t be cold soon.” He watched as Shannon shivered. Ryan did everything he could to control his demeanor and tone of voice. “When you get to the Starbase tell them who you are and give them this.” Ryan placed a tricorder and a small case in the pink bag.

Shannon pulled at her dress. “OK”

“And when you get back to Vulcan I want you to promise to give this to Sidney.” He placed another case into the small pink bag now bulging at the seams. “Can you remember that Shannon?”

“Yes, Daddy.” Shannon took the bag from her father.

“It’s very important that you remember this Shannon. It is your mission. Shannon,” he paused, “I love you.” Ryan threw his arms around his daughter and hugged her. He didn’t want to let her go.

Shannon squirmed, “You squeeze too hard.”

Ryan loosened his arms. “I’m sorry. They’re going to beam you over first and then I will be right behind you,” he lied. “Always remember I love you.”

Ryan signaled the other vessel. “She’s ready to beam over.” He watched as she shimmered out of sight.

Ryan picked up the blankets on the floor and wrapped them around himself as he slumped to the floor leaning against the wall. He stared across the ship at nothing. His voice was a mere whisper, “I love you Sidney.”

It had been a long day and he was tired. He closed his eyes and let the darkness surround him.

Edited by Sidney Riley
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