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((Somewhere))

 

MacKenna: You're going to be okay.

 

Shayne grimaced in appreciation and camaraderie, and totally did not scream the things he wanted to. 

 

oO Leave me be! Five years you’ve known me, but you don’t know when to just let me be! Oo

 

It was all he could do to keep up the facade, the facade that he felt the same way as her in that moment. It was a rare thing that they diverged, but when it occurred, the world was more challenging. There was just such a divergence now, and he worked so damn hard to keep that fact from his fiance, because it would do her no good to worry, and it gave him something to think about besides the eyes of the young Maquis he’d just incinerated. 

 

He seemed to pass the smell check, though he knew that with each passing moment, the difficulty in keeping up the appearance would grow, and the opportunity for a slip up would fail. They couldn’t afford such distractions- well, maybe Ash could, but she’d always been a creature drawn to shadows. If there was one thing he’d learned it was that shadows were patient. 

 

And though the captain had killed on rare occasion previously, it was without any doubt in his mind that he realized this particular shadow would loom for a very long time. 

 

The breeze felt good on his face, and he took a position behind Ash, her lithe form tackling the terrain with grace that he could never emulate. He did his best though, trudging forward with a swiftness that might not be expected of a man of his considerable size. His lungs burned, his legs shrieked, his mouth contorted into a shape of madness, but he didn’t slow down, not until Ash turned back to face him. Under the stars, there was no question that she’d see the tear, but perhaps she’d attribute it to their combined exertions. 

 

MacKenna: How are you holding up?

 

Shayne: Never better. 

 

His voice was hoarse. Damn her and her care. Damn her and her compassion. Her needs were valid, of course, but sometimes it was difficult to convey that, in times like this, what she offered was the last thing he could stand, let alone want. Connection, empathy, warmth, grace, hope- 

 

-a blast of ozone shearing through the dusty air and cleaving a man from his home, and his family, and his endeavors, without even a body to bury- 

 

She wasn’t buying his equilibrium, but perhaps she was swayed on the “dealing with it” part. 

 

MacKenna: I get it. 

 

Her touch was beautiful, and gentle, and all the things he’d come to know, and in the moment, it took every ounce of strength to not throw it off. It wasn’t her hand. It was a mocking corpse’s pale white limb, caressing him from the grave- 

 

Shayne: Ah! 

 

He jolted away, and then covered his unusual movement with a rub of his elbow, feigning an aggravation of a wound he’d sustained in the tunnel system. 

 

MacKenna: Well, can you see that?

 

He focused toward her gaze, her gesture narrowing down the options. Sure enough, a light burned bright, well into the distance. Normally he’d see that as salvation, good news. And it was. For their survival, for their plans, for their families. 

 

Suddenly the prospect of escape had lost its luster slightly. 

 

Shayne: And what shall we do when we get there? 

 

MacKenna: If we can find a console or something, we can rig it to send a distress signal.

 

Shayne was already speaking as she finished her sentence. 

 

Shayne: Let’s go. 

 

They ran, Shayne clumsily tripping over his own feet and underbrush. He didn’t stop, not even when he fell on his face. By the time his chin scratched the craggy ground he was scrabbling for traction, ignoring the small line of red that now descended towards his neck. If he were a thinking man in that moment, he’d say that he was running from the truth- then again, he was leaving that fact in the dust behind him. 

 

The light turned into a small structure, and then a small complex, no larger than a moderate house. Shayne pulled out the weapon he’d shoved into his uniform, training ingrained in him taking over even for the desire to do no harm. He kept the pistol in low ready, stepping slowly and carefully and quietly-

 

A figure loomed. 

 

Shayne brought the weapon to bear instantly, and fired, and… and… 

 

No. 

 

He hadn’t pulled the trigger. No matter what thought he put into it, his finger simply… wouldn’t obey. 

 

The figure wavered and undulated like it was in a state of flow, and then… 

 

The spotlight that spun atop the main structure spun their way, revealing a young tree waving in the desert wind. 

 

Shayne sighed and tried not to let the fact that he’d almost lost a shooting war to a plant get under his skin. 

 

Shayne: Cover me. 

 

MacKenna: Response

 

A panel in the wall called to his attention, and he accessed it with some well placed concussive maintenance. The complex featured a relay system of incomparable simplicity and age; a few specifically timed interruptions in the active feed modulator were all that was necessary to convey a series of numerals that any Starfleet ship in range would recognize as a distress signal. He closed the panel, and slid his back down the wall, unable to catch his breath properly, but refusing to pant like an animal. 

 

Shayne: Now we wait. 

 

That prospect was more terrifying than any battle he’d taken part in. 

 

MacKenna: Response 

 

Tag/TBC…

Captain Randal Shayne Commanding Officer

USS Arrow NCC 69829 G239202RS0 

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