Origins, Chapter 26

 

 

 

Author: Apollo Racer
Title: Origins
Email: fltadmracer@hotmail.com
Characters: New Crew/Star Trek: TOS/Star Trek TOS: Animated Series.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: In a bizarre twist of fate, a young man from the 21st century is trapped
in a frozen coffin as he drifts along the tides of time to be awakened 200 years
later.

Chapter Twenty-Six

Four years later…

The Valiant left orbit around Seneschal IX, heading to Starbase 13 for crew replacement. The attempted peace conference with the Daedonites had been a complete fiasco. Apollo had barely managed to get the Federation president out of there in one piece, but their escape had cost him 29 of his best people. When the natives called their meeting to a close by storming the conference room armed to the teeth, Apollo\’s top priority was to the safety of the president. The planet\’s atmosphere prevented transport, so they used shuttles to go planetside; that escape was cut off by the Daedonites, so he was forced to teleport himself and the president to the ship.

Teleporting himself wasn\’t too much of a risk. However, he could only handle just so much of the discomfort it caused him. It especially took a lot out of him when he took someone with him. As a result, he couldn\’t return to the surface to help the crewmembers he had down there. They all died, but at least they took some of the monsters with them.

It didn\’t take Apollo long to recover. He returned to the surface in a manner that caused the Daedonites to think they were being attacked by a demon. Apollo had descended by flying down surrounded only by a nimbus of blue energy, and a rage in his eyes that the few who saw it would gladly wish never to see it again. With ruthless and cold precision, he cleared the area of attackers, but he could already tell that it was too late.

The site clenched at Apollo\’s gut. The last ones to have survived were led by Thelem. They had made it to one of the shuttles and were heading up to the ship when it was shot down. Wreckage and bodies stretched out over the rocky terrain. It wasn\’t hard for Apollo to tell that no one had lived. He hovered above the ground, the rage remaining in him shaking him violently. Finally, after a minute of silence, a blood-curdling scream tore from his mouth. Every muscle in him was tense as a blast of power erupted from his eyes and streaked upward.

The ship shook as the blast passed dangerously close. Sam clenched at the command chair as she ordered the ship into an evasive maneuver to avoid getting hit. Then, just as suddenly, it was over. There was a flash of light, and Apollo was standing before her, looking for all purposes as though his eyes and hands were alight with blue fire. He had hoped to arrive in time to play the cavalry… except she could tell from his look and from the feedback from her bond to him that this time, the cavalry arrived too late.

He withdrew his energy back into him, his shoulders slumped in exhaustion and defeat. Walking over to his chair, the captain motioned for Sam to remain seated, and clicked on the comm. \”All hands, this is the captain. I need a medical team and a salvage team to report to the shuttle bay. Take shuttles to the planet\’s surface to recover the bodies of our crewmembers as well as our remaining equipment. We leave orbit as soon as you\’re finished.\”

\”Captain?\” Sorel replied. \”What of the threat of a repeated attack by the Daedonites?\”

Sam looked up at her husband and saw a vacant look on his face as he muttered flatly, \”You\’ll have no further problems with them. Carry out your assignments. Racer out.\” Apollo looked absolutely spent. \”Commander Racer,\” he said to Sam, \”please keep the conn. I will be… indisposed. Inform me when we\’re ready to break orbit.\” He slowly turned and entered the turbolift, not looking back as the doors closed. She would have followed him, but the rage she felt in him turned into deep despair, and right now, she thought he would probably prefer to be alone right now.

When they left, she had contacted him as ordered, but all she received was a noncommittal acknowledgement. So left as soon as the recovery teams returned. She decided that someone should check on the president, and since Apollo was unavailable and Thelem was dead, it might as well be her.

She made her way to Sickbay, where Sorel was just finishing his examination of their VIP. \”Mr. President, how are you feeling, sir?\”

The president looked up. \”As well as I could imagine. That was some wild trip. For a moment there, it almost felt like I was imploding, but the next thing I knew, I was on one of these beds and the Captain had collapsed. Your doctor put him on a bed next to me, but a few minutes later, he struggled to his feet and vanished right before my eyes. Do you have some new experimental transporter that I\’m unaware of?\”

Her eyebrow went up, and a slight grin played across her face. \”You… might say that, sir. Actually, it\’s the Captain\’s… unique way of getting around during crisis situations. Trust me, it hurt him more than it did you.\”

\”I understand. It must be hard to make that kind of decision. The doctor told me that the entire party down there perished. With his kind of power, he could have saved them.\”

\”He had to make sure you were safe first.\”

\”I\’m aware of that, Commander. Believe me, I feel just as bad as he does. Where might I find him?\”

Sorel maneuvered between the president and the door. \”With all due respect, sir, it would be logical if you rested for a half hour more.\”

\”Nonsense, I\’m perfectly fine.\” He got to his feet and almost collapsed if not for the two officers who caught him and put him back on the bed. \”At least I will be in about half an hour.\”

Sorel\’s eyebrow rose up his forehead. \”A wise decision.\”

Sam in the meantime had left Sickbay. She entered the arboretum, but he wasn\’t there. Standing there, gazing out toward the stars, she wondered where he could be. She tried finding him through their link, but he had closed himself off. Doesn\’t he realize by now that he just makes me more determined to find him when he does that? Grasping at an idea, she spun on her heel and rushed out of the room.

She reached Engineering, where McCormick was busy doing whatever he did to maintain the Valiant\’s efficiency. \”Ah, lass. Ah\’m sorry about Thelem. What happened back there was terrible. How is the Captain takin\’ it?\”

\”I don\’t know, Mac. He\’s keeping to himself, as usual. But tell me something… if you led a mission where you lost more people than you ever have before, how would you feel?\”

\”Beggin\’ yer pardon, lass, but this isna the first time he\’s lost people. But I do understand what you mean.\”

\”Yeah… I suppose it\’s true what they say… you never do get used to that.\” She walked over to the main console and started pressing controls. Different exterior views of the ship flashed across the two screens in front of her.

\”What in blazes are ye doin\’, lass? Has Apollo affected ye an\’ made ye daft?\” His question was quickly forgotten as she stopped on one view and enlarged it.

Apollo was seated crosslegged on the hull between the two pylon struts. As he was encased within the ship\’s subspace field, he wasn\’t left behind, but remained anchored in that one spot. His elbows were propped on his knees, and his face in turn was hidden in his hands. The familiar blue aura of energy that always surrounded him and kept him safe from the vigor of space surged around him now, and it was very likely, Sam speculated, what kept him seated on the hull instead of drifting around. \”Wonderful,\” she said under her breath.

\”What in bloody blazes is he doin\’ out there?\” Mac exclaimed.

\”Don\’t you see? He\’s out there because it\’s the only place he can be where it\’s totally quiet. When it\’s that quiet, he can more easily distance himself from everyone.\” Hurt by this ultimate form of solitude, she didn\’t add that sometimes it was the only way he could work through his grief.

Mac turned away and muttered to himself. \”Hell, he can get shamelessly drunk and accomplish the same thing.\”

~ * ~

The shuttle bay doors opened, and Apollo reentered the ship. Sam was there waiting for him. \”Damn you!\” she said with venom in her voice. She clearly saw the puzzlement on his face, but she gave him no chance to respond. \”Why do you do this to me? Every time you have a problem, you shut me out completely! I thought we were together in this!\” Tears started streaming down her face. \”Thelem was my friend, too! Why won\’t you let me in? Maybe you don\’t need someone to lean on, but I do, and when you turn away from me, who the hell am I supposed to go to?\”

Apollo suddenly realized that he screwed up again… it was nowhere near the first time, and it certainly wouldn\’t be the last. \”Sam, I… I\’m sorry. As the captain, I always feel that it\’s my sole responsibility to shoulder the burden of what happens to this ship and its crew. When I get that way, it\’s hard for me to see that other people need me, that you need me.\”

\”Yes,\” Sam agreed, not losing any of the fire in her emotion. \”You can be so damned selfish about your grief. Oh, whenever you feel good, you think everyone else should share in the feeling. But whenever something bad happens, you…\”

She faltered, struggling for the words, then picking up when it hit her. \”This will sound strange, but when something bad happens, you act so… so selfishly unselfish. You try to soak up all the bad feeling, and hope that no one else feels it. Well, I hate to be the one to tell you, but that way of thinking is wrong. You\’re not protecting anybody… in fact, when you do that, you actually intensify that feeling and direct it toward the ones who are closest to you. And yes, I know you don\’t mean to do it, and I don\’t even think you\’re aware sometimes that you do it, but you do.\”

During her speech, Apollo was slowly advancing toward her. When her speech faltered again, he pulled her toward him. She resisted at first, hitting his chest repeatedly, but he held tight. Finally she gave in and embraced him. Her body shook with sobs as she let it out. There in the loneliness of space, two souls held each other tight and shared their grief for their lost companions.

~ * ~

The greatest tragedy in Apollo\’s life struck when they left Starbase 13.

\”Captain,\” M\’Ress said, \”we\’re receiving an odd communication. I can\’t quite place the source.\”

\”Arex, drop out of warp,\” Apollo told his helmsman. \”M\’Ress, any sign that it\’s from a Federation ship?\”

She studied her readings. \”No, sir, it\’s not from a Federation ship. In fact, the translator is still having trouble deciphering it.\”

This piqued his interest. \”A first contact?\”

\”Very likely.\”

Sam suddenly stopped scanning the area. \”Captain, a ship is decloaking off our starboard bow!\”

\”What!?\” He exclaimed as an enormous dark shape appeared on the screen. They couldn\’t make it out very well because it was black, but they could make out a rough silhouette from the absence of stars in view.

Sam spoke again. \”We\’re being scanned. Should we raise shields?\”

\”Have they made any hostile gestures?\”

\”Well, no, but we don\’t know who they are or what they\’ll do.\”

\”Then we can only hope that the feeling is mutual. The shields stay down.\”

M\’Ress got Apollo\’s attention. \”Captain, the translator has something. The message is audio only.\”

He nodded. \”Let\’s hear it.\”

She adjusted some controls. \”…assistance. To the transport which we have ceased moving near. We require assistance.\”

Apollo, Sam, and M\’Ress shared looks. \”Alien vessel. This is Captain Apollo Racer, commanding the Federation starship USS Valiant. As we understand it, you\’re sending out a call for help. What is it you need?\”

\”We…\” The voice sounded humble, almost embarrassed. \”We have lost our position in space. We require guidance. We believe our directional indicators are not functioning. We detect many lives on your transport. You may loan us one?\”

Sam shrugged. \”Sounds like their navigation system is malfunctioning.\”

Apollo agreed. \”Actually, it sounds as though they\’re looking for a gas station to ask for directions.\” He got a couple of confused looks from his people until he realized they didn\’t know what a gas station was. He waved the comment off. \”Never mind. Alien vessel… we could send over one of our engineers to help you.\”

Silence for a moment. \”Not required,\” came the reply. \”Could your \’Racer\’ person assist?\”

\”That wouldn\’t be necessary. We have people more qualified…\”

\”Not required. \’Racer\’ person is leader, therefore must be most qualified. You may loan us?\”

Sam had a concerned look on her face. He gestured for M\’Ress to mute the transmission, then beckoned his first officer to speak. \”I don\’t like it. It stinks of a trap.\”

Apollo looked at her disappointingly. \”Sam, why do you always suspect people we don\’t know of foul play? I swear, you\’d make a great Chief of Security.\” He thought about it. \”Needless to say, I would probably be the safest person to transport. I can defend myself in a way no one else can.\” He paused so M\’Ress could reopen the channel. \”Alien vessel, I agree to your terms. I will be aboard shortly.\”

\”We are gratified,\” was their only response. Then the connection was closed.

\”Well, it looks as though I have a first contact to make. Commander, the Bridge is yours.\” He strode off towards the turbolift.

~ * ~

The first thing Apollo noticed when he beamed aboard the other vessel was that it was dark. It doesn\’t smell too fresh here, either. Maybe they\’re having trouble with their environmental system, too.

A thought from Sam entered his head. :Please be careful, darling.:

He couldn\’t help but smile. :I\’ll be fine. Keep a transporter lock on me anyway, just in case.: He could feel relief at his consideration for safety and she withdrew from his mind.

Just then a dark form moved toward him, accompanied by clicking sounds. At first he thought these beings were shapeless, but then he noticed that they merely wore clothing that absorbed light. Interesting fabric, he mused. The being brought him to their Bridge, where he saw an image of his ship, suspended in a cloud of what seemed to be not quite gas, but not quite energy, either. Their viewscreen, perhaps?

Another being approached them. \”This is the Racer person?\”

Good… at least my translator works here. \”Yes, I am Captain Racer.\”

\”We need your energy.\” It motioned Apollo to follow him.

\”I get it. You mean you require my assistance.\”

\”No. We require your energy. We scanned your transport and detected your unique energy. We need it to sustain ourselves until we get to our space. You will assist us.\”

Apollo thought the request a little rude, but played along. \”Just how far is your home?\”

\”We have come very far to get here. It will take several of your years to return.\”

They\’ve got to be kidding. \”I\’m sorry, but I have other assignments. I\’m afraid I can\’t go with you. I\’m sure with a little research, though, we can find….\”

They conferred with each other for a moment. \”You will come with us.\”

Apollo was getting frustrated. \”No, that won\’t be possible.\” He activated his communicator. \”Valiant, this is Captain Racer. Prepare to beam me back.\”

The beings then moved their hands over their controls. Suddenly, a thin beam of light reached out to the Valiant. At first, Apollo judged it to be a simple laser, but the beam then punched through the engineering hull, at the precise location of the ship\’s warp core. The next thing Apollo saw was a fireball as his ship exploded.

Apollo knew an exact second before his ship was vaporized that Sam was going to die. His thoughts raced toward her even as the Valiant was blown into its constituent atoms. A mental shock wave tore through the link with his wife as their bond was violently broken. All control vanished from his features. \”NOOOOO!!\” he yelled at the now empty space in front him.

\”Now you will come with us,\” the being stated.

\”NOW YOU WILL GO TO HELL!\” Apollo roared, his voice echoing ominously through the ship. His aura flared up, looking as though he were wreathed in blue flame… his eyes burned with a murderous rage that changed them from blue to red. He shot the nearest alien, but instead of it bursting into flame or being disrupted, it absorbed his energy with what could almost be described as a moan of pleasure. It glowed as an obvious effect of absorbing the energy. Apollo\’s eyes widened at this. \”So that\’s what you meant, is it? Well, we\’ll see about that!\” He grabbed the alien he just charged before it could move out of his range. He drew back his hand and let go with a blow that nearly took the being\’s head off. As it died, the glow disappeared.

The others tried to gang up on Apollo, but they never expected such a rage to engulf him. As the Valiant exploded, he suffered the same effect with Sam\’s loss as Vulcans did when the bonds to their lifemates were violently severed. His mind shut down, and now he was little more than a living weapon, a berserker… acting entirely on instinct.

In a short time, he had killed nearly the entire crew, leaving who he suspected to be the leader for last. This surviving alien was backing up until it squeezed into a corner. The look on its face was universal for every sentient being… pure, unbridled terror at the prospect of staring its imminent death in the face.

Apollo managed to bring some semblance of intelligence back into his thoughts. \”Why,\” he hissed. \”Why did you blow up my ship?\”

\”You were going to leave. We needed you for us to survive. So we ensured that you wouldn\’t leave.\”

Apollo stood there for a moment, glaring at the alien. He then did something even more terrifying than what the alien had already seen… his face split into a very evil grin, and he laughed in a way that sent chills through the air. \”How very appropriate.\” The tone in Apollo\’s voice was low, yet intense, as if his very speech could finish what he started.

In a lightning-fast move, his arm snaked out and caught the alien by the throat. Lifting it off its feet to bring it up to his eye level, he brought his face up close until it was a mere inch away from the alien. He let the blue fire of his eyes rake coldly across the face of his prey. \”The very source of your survival… is now going to kill you.\”

With the finality of that statement, Apollo squeezed. He felt the being\’s windpipe closing off, heard bones pop and crack in its neck… its eyes bulged out of its sockets, and still he continued to close his grip. The alien\’s eyes bugged from its head and as it died, a look of horror permanently affixed itself to the thing\’s face. Apollo continued glaring into the sightless eyes as the being\’s body, separated from its head, dropped to the deck, leaving a wide swath of ichor on the wall.

Apollo staggered backward, dropping the head. The fire suddenly left his eyes and the sapphire glow returned. He stared down at his trembling, gore-laden hands, then at the viewscreen that showed nothing but debris floating outside. \”What have I done?\” he said quietly to the room full of corpses.

Still in a daze, he examined the rest of the ship. It had only held two dozen of the aliens, and he had killed them all in his blind rage. He teleported outside to make sure that the scene on the viewscreen was real and not an image created by the aliens to deceive him. Confirming his worst fears, he let out a howl that made his scream on Seneschal IX pale in comparison. The scream, naturally, could not be heard in space, but his aura brightened to a point where it would have eclipsed even the Valiant\’s explosion. In that moment, scientists in that region mistakenly registered the sudden point of brightness as a new star.

But it had only lasted a moment, and the last survivor of the USS Valiant, spent from his rage and expulsion of energy, returned to the alien\’s ship. He used what energy he had left to vaporize their remains. Then he half-fell into one of the chairs as darkness overtook him.

~ * ~

When he reawakened, Apollo took a day or two to further study the ship until he had a basic grasp of its functions. Then he opened communications. \”Captain Racer… to Starfleet Command…\” His voice was flat and low, completely lacking in emotion and more than a little hoarse due to another bellow of rage and despair as he searched his new vessel. \”Effective immediately, until further notice, I am placing myself on inactive service, and I am taking a leave of absence for an indefinite period of time.

\”My reasons for this are in the logs from the Valiant, which were ejected automatically prior to her destruction, as per Starfleet regulations; the logs from the vessel of which I have currently commandeered and claim as per right of salvage; and finally, personal reasons which I am unable to give at this time.

\”My final request… is that these logs be sealed in Federation archives, with only the president of the Federation and myself retaining access and authorization to read these reports, and they will remain sealed until… unless… I find it appropriate to return.\”

He paused for a good minute, constructing what he had to say next. \”I regret that in my current frame of mind, I am unable to continue my duties. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve in such a grand organization, and it is my hope that, in the event of my return, I can receive leniency for my actions, so that I may continue to serve as a Starfleet officer.

\”I wish condolences to be sent to friends and next of kin of each and every crew member aboard the Valiant who died without a purpose. It is among my final orders, and my sincerest request, that these condolences be carried out in the truest form of my command. To my remaining friends, goodbye… you will not likely see me again in your lifetime.\” He signed off, and with almost mechanical movements, he operated the controls.

The ship turned gracefully in a seemingly random direction and cloaked as it shot into warp speed.

 

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