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MAY/JUN Fire, Giver of Live

Anthony Meeks

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((Some God Forsaken Rock in the Gamma Quadrant))

Lightning flashed, illuminating the parapet which stood above the gaping canyon. The rain fell in sheets, drenching the world around him in cold water. He shielded his eyes from the sudden flash in the darkness to lessen the sharp pain he felt from the bright light… Then it was dark again. Lieutenant Commander Michael Davis stared into the blackness, as he had for so many nights before.

He couldn’t remember how long he had been there. He had lost track of the days, and he stopped counting a long time ago. The marks on the inside walls of the runabout had merged together after a while, and Michael had given up on trying to find space for more. Shaking his head, he turned away from the edge of the pit and ducked back inside the makeshift shelter.

“Another day of rain.” He said as he pushed the door shut. The wrecked runabout that was his home was without power, and he had gutted the mechanisms to make it easier to operate the door by hand. The flicker of the candlelight from the single candle illuminated the interior of the cabin and provided a little warmth. Michael huddled around the flame, taking in as much heat as he could from the tiny flame.

He stripped off the drenched uniform he was wearing and hung it over one of the chairs that used to be for the pilots. He returned to the rear compartment and slipped himself into a dry outfit. Collecting one of the ration packs, Michael sat down near the candle and peeled open a pouch of amber paste that would be his meal.

Talking to no-one, “Mmmmm, meal number…” he held the pouch up to the light so he could read the lettering on the side, “…31. Bon Apetit.”

He placed the open end of the pouch into his mouth and squeezed. He swallowed the goo without chewing it, but chewing wasn’t necessary because the paste slipped down his throat with ease. The taste of the stuff was enough to gag a man anyway, so the less time it stayed in his mouth, the better. When the pouch was flat and empty, Michael carefully folded the pouch and placed it into the drawer with the many others.

He pushed open the door a few inches, and piled a stack of papers on the steel plate. He keyed the setting into his phaser and took careful aim at the base of the small pile. Pressing the trigger, the glow of the beam lit the papers ablaze. Michael quickly piled more flammable material on the fire, absorbing the warmth for as long as the stuff would burn. The life giving fire warmed him, giving him one more night of comfort. Leaning back, he pulled a blanket over himself and closed his eyes. Before long, he was asleep.

The night went by, just like every other night since the crash. The dreams came to him like a video recall of the fateful day that brought him to the planet. He, and a crew of four, had left Deep Space 9 on a diplomacy mission to Chumanus, in the Gamma Quadrant. The voyage was to take three days at warp in the runabout, and everything went well for the first two days. On day three, the worst they could

imagine happened.

On the morning of the third day, the runabout encountered a spacial anomaly that disrupted their warp field. The runabout shot through the disturbance, which distorted their course to an unknown heading. To regain control of the ship, they dumped their antimatter and jettisoned their warp core, leaving the ship without the means to return to Federation space. What little fuel they had left brought them to the first planet they could find that would support life. Unfortunately, their fuel supply was so low, the entry into the atmosphere was a near freefall.

The crash was horrendous, and two of the crew died in the impact. The other two were injured, and died days later. Michael had survived with only a broken leg and some bumps and bruises. It took him two weeks before he was able to put enough weight on his leg to allow him to drag the bodies of the crew out of the runabout so he could dispose of the bodies.

He had tried to bury the first of the bodies, but the constant rain and the hard pan made digging a grave impossible, so his last recourse was to push the corpses over the edge of the canyon into the abyss below. He had stripped the bodies of anything he might be able to use, before committing them to their grave, knowing he might be there for quite a while.

The power systems of the runabout had been damaged beyond repair during the crash. The fuselage had survived intact, but the nacelles were destroyed and the batteries had drained within days. Michael saved the phasers, mostly for protection, but there didn’t seem to be anything on the God forsaken rock to protect himself from. Never the less, they were there for a purpose and he wouldn’t compromise that until he absolutely had to…

Michael woke the next morning to the sounds of the rain thrumming on the hull of the runabout. He yawned and stretched, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He looked around and saw the candle had burned out, leaving the runabout in a dull halflight, only illuminated by the gray light from outside coming through the main window. He could see the sky outside was the same as it had always been, without definition. Pushing himself to his feet, he walked to the pilot’s console and stared out at the world.

“What I would give for a cup of coffee.” He said to himself, as he had every morning. He shook his head and turned away from the view. He dipped his hand into the crate of emergency rations and withdrew another silver pouch. This time he didn’t bother looking at the writing on the side. Instead, he just opened the pouch and squeezed the contents into his mouth, swallowing without tasting it. When it was empty, he folded the pouch and slid it into the drawer with the others.

Taking a seat in the command chair, Michael picked up the transponder that was laying dark on the floor. He looked over the circuitry and wished he had paid better attention during the engineering classes at the academy. He poked absently at the device, hoping something would happen. He told himself it wouldn’t matter in the long run, because he was parsecs away from anywhere, and nobody knew where to even start looking. Frustration overcame curiosity and Michael tossed the device against the wall. The unit bounced against the duranium and slid under the bench. A small flash of light from the device went un-noticed.

The routine continued, day after day, week after week. Every day the supply of food pouches became fewer and fewer, and the rain accumulating in the puddles grew. Michael entertained himself by humming tunes from his childhood, counting the supplies, and taking walks to the edge of the canyon. The nights were spent huddling around the candles, which were growing fewer and fewer as the nights passed. Material to burn was becoming more and more scarce, and he knew the warming fires would have to be fewer as time went on. This night, he hadn’t gone outside to get wet, so he decided to forgo the warmth of the fire for one more night.

He lay his head on the pillow and tried to count the rain drops that hit the hull of the runabout. Pulling the blanket up around his head, he continued to count the drops until he fell asleep. The dreams came again, as they had every other night, except in this dream came the chime of a Federation transporter. It took some time for his mind to register the new element of the dream. His eyes fluttered open, and he caught movement in the darkness. He pushed himself up onto his elbows, and he heard the delightful sound of a voice… “Just lay still, Commander, you’re safe…”

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