Origins, Chapter 6

 

 

 

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 Six

Sam entered Apollo’s room later that week. She had tried to go in before, but just seeing him was enough to cause her to run back out. Now she felt she had enough courage to go to him. She saw him lying in bed; the bandages were off his eyes, but they were still a little swollen. An oxygen tube was taped under his nose. His bed covers, which should have formed little tents where his arms and legs should be, lay flat on the bed.

A tear started to roll down her cheek. He looks so… incomplete. I almost can’t bear to see him this way. She managed, though, to walk to his bedside. “Hi,” she said weakly. There was no answer from the still form. “Thought I’d stop by to see how you were doing.” She paused, clearly uncomfortable. “I… I guess the tables are turned now, huh. Me coming to see you instead of the other way around.”

She slowly paced the room. She clearly had something to say, but it took some effort for her to speak. “Why didn’t you see it? Dammit, you saw when I was going to get hurt! Why couldn’t you see your own accident?” Her voice rose with her temper. “After all this time, I thought we were finally going to get somewhere with our relationship! Why do you have to do this to yourself!?” Tears streamed down her face, but she didn’t care. “I fall in love with you and you respond by nearly getting yourself killed!” Sam dropped into a chair by the bed and placed her face in her hands.

After a while she got up and wordlessly left the room. She didn’t notice the single tear make its way down the side of Apollo’s face to soak into his pillow.

~ * ~

Within the next two months, tests were conducted on the newly constructed limbs and the compatibility between them and Apollo. When it was determined that Apollo would have no problem with rejection, Bennings assembled his team and performed the operation.

Two days later, Apollo opened his eyes and immediately realized that something was different. He managed to raise his head and look down himself. The sheet indicated he once again had limbs. He tried to move his legs, but all he could get out of them was a twitch in one of his feet. He couldn’t even get that from a finger when he put the same effort into moving his arms. The cadet felt completely paralyzed.

“Ah. I see you’re awake.” Apollo looked toward the voice and saw Bennings, who just walked into the room. He also realized that the doctor said the exact same thing the last time he visited; in fact, he seemed to say that every time he came in. “You’ve also no doubt noticed that you’re somewhat whole again.”

Apollo grimaced. “It’s great for looks. But something seems wrong. I can’t move them.”

Bennings had a surprised look on his face. “Oho, so my patient thinks that he can just get up and walk away, does he?” He sat on Apollo’s bed, leaned in, and gave him a hard look. “Now listen up. I’m by no means finished with you. Before we can even think about giving you a clean bill of health, we need to put you into therapy. Once you can move those things, I can make the final adjustments on them.”

“Final adjustments? I thought they were finished.”

“Oh, sure, it’s simple enough to put them on you. The tricky part will be to calibrate them so that you can use them with a minimum of trouble.” Bennings saw the question on Apollo’s face before his patient could ask it, so he continued. “When you use your new limbs, there will be a slight time lag between the command your brain gives them to move and the actual movement. By studying your therapy, we’ll be able to adjust your limbs so that there will be as little of a pause as possible. I’ve theorized that if we do it right, it will be no more than a second or two.”

Apollo thought about that. “So basically what you’re saying is that whatever my normal response time would have been, I now have to add a second to that?”

“Yes, that’s about right. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?”

“No. I suppose it doesn’t, from a certain point of view.”

“A certain point of view? Now what is that supposed to mean.”

Apollo looked him square in the eye. “It means that my days in Nova Squadron, and possibly Starfleet, are over. When it comes to making quick decisions, a lot can happen in one second.” He turned away to look out the window. “On the other hand, I guess it beats not having any arms or legs at all.”

Bennings wanted to comment on that, but he honestly didn’t know what to say to it. “Your first therapy session is tomorrow. I want to get you on your feet as soon as I possibly can. In the meantime, I want you to get some rest. You’re going to need it.” Bennings left the room, leaving Apollo with his own thoughts.

~ * ~

The next time Sam got the nerve to visit Apollo, Skip went with her; he figured if he didn’t go with her, she’d change her mind. Apollo had been working on his therapy for three weeks now. They found him in the gym, walking between two balance beams; his movements were stiff and jerky, but he made no move to grasp the bars on either side. “Slow down, buddy,” Skip called out to him. “The Academy will still be here when you finish your therapy.”

Apollo gave his friend a mock glare. “And I suppose you persuaded the faculty to postpone all classes until I’m better.” Skip smiled, and he returned it. He then looked at Sam. “Hi.”

“Hi,” she returned. “Feeling better?”

“Almost. I get tired by the end of the day. The doctor says I should be released soon. Maybe we can do something by then.”

“Sure, maybe,” Sam said. Apollo could tell that her attention wasn’t entirely in the here and now. “Skip, would you mind…”

“Man, I’m real thirsty. I could use a drink. Sam, Apollo, you want something?” Skip said, immediately picking up on Sam’s request.

“I’ll have some juice, thanks,” he replied. Sam just shook her head. As Skip went off, Apollo got her full attention. “What’s wrong?”

Sam shivered. “It’s that I keep thinking about the day I was in your room and you…”

“I know, I probably didn’t look my best at the time. But just wait. Before long…” He looked into her eyes. “You’re afraid of me, aren’t you?”

“Apollo, I didn’t say…”

“You’re afraid that I’m more machine than man, is that it?”

Sam’s eyes widened. “Are you reading my mind? I thought you weren’t supposed to do that?”

Apollo shook his head. “I don’t need to read your mind. The look in your eyes told me as much.” He struggled to find what to say next. “Let me assure you, I’m no less the man than I was before. Do you want to know why?” As he was talking to Sam, Apollo noticed that her gaze fell to the floor. To my legs, Apollo thought. Slowly, he raised his hand under her chin and gently tilted her head up, so she was looking him in the eyes. He then pointed to his chest. “It’s what’s here. I still have my heart, and while my heart is human, I’ll be human.”

Sam looked a little reassured. Skip showed up carrying two glasses. He handed one to Apollo, who carefully gripped it. “There you go, buddy. Everything okay?” Sam nodded. Apollo simply took a drink. “Good, then what I have to say will be a little easier.” Skip suddenly had Apollo’s full attention. “Apollo, I heard some scuttlebutt around the campus.” Skip grew skittish, but he continued. “They’re saying that you’re… uh… going to be dropped from the Academy.”

Apollo’s face went slack. “They’re what?!”

“They feel that your injuries were cause enough for…” Skip was interrupted by a loud crack as Apollo’s grip tightened around his glass to a point where it shattered in his grasp, sending glass and juice flying everywhere.

It was enough for Sam to jump. She looked forlornly at Apollo. “We’re… I’m so sorry.” She turned and ran out of the gym.

“Sam, wait!” Apollo called after her. He tried to run, but his legs didn’t move fast enough. His change in momentum caused him to pitch forward and fall to the floor. Skip took a step toward the door Sam had exited, paused, then turned back to help Apollo back up. “Are you okay, Apollo?”

Apollo was fuming so much with rage that he was sputtering. “Why did she run? Why!” He brought his arm down on one of the balancing bars, breaking it in two. He then yanked himself out of Skip’s grip and started hobbling toward another exit. “I’m going to get to the bottom of this. If I have to go to the Commandant’s office, damn it, I’ll get to the bottom of this.”

For a moment, Skip wondered what to do. Then he made a decision. “Wait! Apollo, wait for me!” He quickly caught up with Apollo. Sheesh, he thought, as stiff as he walks, he sure can move fast.

~ * ~

Skip carried Apollo’s padd as they walked to Apollo’s next class. Skip was having trouble keeping Apollo’s pace; it wasn’t that Apollo was going too fast, rather the contrary. After six more weeks of therapy, Apollo could still only move in jerks as the commands from his mind strove to make it to his legs. Unfortunately, Dr. Bennings said that he couldn’t calibrate the limbs any better than they were.

Skip heard Apollo curse under his breath. “Stupid bloody things.”

Skip simply shook his head. “C’mon, now. At least you’re up and around. It could be worse. I mean, you might not even have to worry about your next class.” That day of the incident in the gym, they headed toward the office of one of the head instructors. He had told them yes, releasing Apollo from the Academy was an option. After an hour of persuasion and debate, the instructor notified the other head instructors of their conversation. By the next day, Apollo had received word that he could remain in the Academy at least until the end of the year.

Apollo laughed; to Skip it sounded more like a cough. “I could also be in a wheelchair. I’d have been in the classroom by now. I walk like a damn robot from an old movie. Hell, all this jerking around gives me a damn headache. I can’t even hold my padd because I haven’t yet learned to hold anything without crushing it. How could it possibly be worse?”

Skip smiled. “You could be dead. Then who would I have to complain to me?”

Skip’s smile was infectious, and soon the corners of Apollo’s mouth turned upward. “You’re right, of course. I’d smack you, but I’d probably knock myself over in the process.”

“Now, that might not be a bad sight, though you’d probably take my head off in the process. But tell me, why are you taking Engineering? I figured with your condition, you wouldn’t be of much use as an engineer.”

Apollo smiled and looked to the sky. “My dear Skippy. In Ancient Mythology, it is said that the Greek god Hephaestus, whose Roman name, appropriately, is Vulcan, was lame, yet he was the most skilled craftsman in Mount Olympus. He crafted Athena an owl out of silver, gold, and jewels, and it flew like a living thing. Surely a couple of glorified stilts can’t keep me back.”

Skip looked askance at his friend. “You know, you seem to be taking this awfully well.”

Apollo’s face slipped into that stoic Vulcan expression that he’s often used. “Why shouldn’t I? I was forced into this situation through my own clumsiness; I may as well make the best of it. Sure, I’ll complain at times when I feel that these things are being frustratingly inconvenient, but as you said, I am alive. I should be grateful.” He took on a shifty look, darting glances from side to side, and he lowered his voice. “Besides, I have a plan.”

This last statement caught Skip off guard. “Plan? What plan?”

“I haven’t completely figured out every detail yet, but when I’m ready, you’ll find out about it,” he emphasized his reply with a wink. Apollo looked up and saw his destination in front of him. “Ah, after several years, I arrive.” They entered the building, and when they reached Apollo’s classroom, Skip put the padd down on the table. “Thank you. I’d shake your hand…”

“…but I’m gonna need it for later,” Skip finished. “No problem. I’ll come back after my class and help you back to the dorm.”

“Thanks,” Apollo said, and waved at Skip as he walked out and the instructor came in.

~ * ~

Skip returned to the engineering building, but Apollo wasn’t in the classroom. A short search showed that he was one of the labs. He appeared to have finished a project, because he was managing to put away some tools. He turned to see who entered. “Ahh. Perfect timing. I was just finishing up for today. Shall we go?” He handed his padd to Skip. There were small dents on the edge of the padd, and Skip pointed them out to Apollo. “Damn. That’s where I picked it up earlier. I’m trying to gauge the right pressure to use, but I still get it wrong.”

Skip whistled. “I see. Well, where to now? Our dorm? Sam’s place?”

Apollo shook his head. “No, it’s the infirmary tonight. Dr. Bennings and I have been working on a way to eliminate the time lag in my limbs’ actions. If our theory works, I’ll have full motor abilities returned to me.”

Skip’s demeanor brightened. “Apollo, that’s great! How do you plan on doing it?” His friend showed some reluctance. “Come on, you can tell me.”

Apollo studied Skip’s face for a long momnet before deciding he could be trusted. “Bennings is going to hardwire my limbs to my spinal cord, or something like that.”

Skip stopped dead in his tracks. Apollo’s padd dropped to the floor. “Whoa, buddy. That sounds a bit dangerous, messing with your spinal cord. You sure you want to do this?”

Apollo looked pensive. “I agree, there is some… risk.” With effort, Apollo managed to turn to face Skip. “But if it works, you’d never know that my limbs are artificial. I’d actually have normal movement again.”

Skip still looked skeptical. “Uh huh. And if it doesn’t work…” he prompted. Apollo was silent. “Well?!”

“I… could be paralyzed, limbs or no.”

Apollo!

“No, I’ve made up my mind. I’ve always been one to go for broke, and I’m not going to let this situation change that. I’m going through with it.”

Skip studied Apollo for a moment. “Does Sam know about this?”

Apollo met Skip’s eyes and held his gaze, searching, and came to a decision. “No. And she’s not going to know. At least, not unless it’s successful. Is that clear?”

His friend took a deep breath, then let it out and nodded. “You know, you’re taking an awfully big chance.”

Apollo nodded. “I know. But I’ve thought about it, and I’m going to go for it. I have a good feeling about this.”

Skip threw his hands in the air. “Oh. Well. That decides it. I guess since you have a good feeling about this, then it must be okay.” The sarcasm hung between the two of them. “Hell, with or without me, you’d do this anyway. I suppose this was your plan.”

“Yeah, pretty much. Although the doctor was working on just such an idea when I brought it up to him.”

“Well, all right. Let’s go see Bennings.”

~ * ~

Two weeks went by, and Apollo seemed to have dropped from the face of the earth. Sam badgered Skip for anything he knew as to Apollo’s whereabouts. He admitted as much that Apollo was in the infirmary, but wasn’t allowing visitors. It hurt him to tell her that, because she looked as though she felt Apollo was ashamed of himself and didn’t want her to be with someone he felt was an abomination.

Then one day, Skip was in his room going over some material for an upcoming exam. His door was open, so his friends could see he was home and give him an excuse to take a break. It was then that a shadow fell across his notes. “Do you mind?” he said, not looking up. “You’re in my light.” When the person didn’t move, Skip looked up from his studying. “Well, well, well… hello, stranger. Don’t think I’ve seen you around these parts. Say, you haven’t seen a friend of mine, have you? About your height, has your looks, walks like he was a puppet and someone was jerking his strings?”

Apollo stood there and acted like he was thinking real hard. Then he shook his head and walked over to his bed, where he sat down. “Nope, haven’t seen him.”

Skip’s eyes grew wide. “Hey! It worked! Your little experiment worked!”

Apollo slipped into a Vulcan attitude, one he knew that severely ticked off his friend. “I fail to see how you could have thought differently. After all, the choices I had laid out when I accepted this plan were either success or paralysis. Since I moved into the room with no trouble, I would surmise that the former would be correct.” Apollo received a pillow in his face for his troubles.

“Wow, I just can’t believe it. You mean he actually connected those things right into your spinal cord? Doesn’t it feel different?”

Apollo shook his head after he got it out of the pillow. “It doesn’t feel too differently. I mean, I can’t feel pleasure or pain through my limbs, but I do receive sensory inputs from them. It’s kind of like how your foot falls asleep, and you can’t feel anything with it, but you know how much weight to put on it without falling flat on your face.”

Skip shook his head in awe. “Bennings could write a paper on this one. Maybe even get a prize.”

Apollo immediately had a somber expression, and violently shook his head. “No! No, no one must know of this. The procedure I went through was purely experimental, still in its formative stage. The medical community pretty much frowns on what Bennings just did for me. At least, they do now. When the procedure is allowed to naturally come forth, Bennings will be seen as a genius. But for now, it must remain secret. Understand?”

Skip looked at Apollo and decided that this was no time to be joking. He simply nodded. “I understand. I won’t say a word. But Apollo…” he urged, “Sam has to know. She’s been worried sick, and I frankly didn’t know what to tell her. I did say you were in the infirmary, but you wouldn’t see anyone.”

“And for all intents and purposes, you told her the truth. I was in the infirmary, and I wouldn’t see anyone. Not if I wanted the good doctor to remain out of trouble.” He regarded his friend and smiled. “I thank you, and I owe you. I’ll figure something out… but for now, I need some rest.” He reduced the lights so that Skip only had light over the desk where he was studying. “Good night, my friend, and… thanks again. For being there.” Apollo laid back, and within moments was softly snoring in the darkness.

Skip shook his head and muttered under his breath. “No problem. Sheesh. All that time in the infirmary, you’d think they’d have been able to stop him from making all that damn noise when he sleeps.” He shrugged and returned to his book.

~ * ~

Sam was in the library working on an essay for her astrophysics class. Without warning, her screen cleared. “Hey, what the…” she hissed, lightly rapping the terminal. Suddenly, a confirmation message flashed on her screen. The message stated that she had reserved a hover vehicle for a trip to the coast set for tomorrow. She was immediately perplexed. Funny. I don’t remember scheduling a trip to the coast. She sighed. Maybe I’ve been pushing myself too hard. Either that, or someone’s playing a very cruel joke on me. She thought about it a little more. Still, it does sound like something I could use. Curious, she acknowledged the message. The time and departure route showed up; she acknowledged that, too. Her screen then cleared again and returned to her essay. Huh… that was weird. She shrugged and continued her work.

The next day, she trotted over to the hover rental place outside the Academy. When she arrived gave the clerk her name, he perked up and gave her the control card for a vehicle. “It’s all prepped and waiting for you at the end of the lot, Ms. Taylor.”

“But… I didn’t… how many credits will it…?”

“Oh, that’s all been taken care of, ma’am.” She absently nodded and slowly turned for the lot. “Have a nice trip,” he said to her on the way out.

She found the route relaxing enough; it took her through all the scenic areas. When she reached a specific spot near the beach, the hover vehicle landed. Sam got out and found that she was near a changing station. The sign on the door read, “Come in.” So she cautiously got out of the vehicle and walked towards the small cabana. “What is going on here?”

Inside was a two-piece bathing suit hanging on the wall… it had apparently been placed there for her. Sam shrugged and decided to go with the mystery. She changed into the suit and looked at a mirror also placed in the pavillion, admiring the cut and color of the suit. Leaving the tent, she started on a nice, slow stroll along the shoreline, allowing the waves to lap against her feet and a soft breeze coming of the water to tickle her skin. She could just feel the tension wash from her as the ocean washed against her.

She walked for nearly a kilometer or two before she heard a voice call out, “The water’s not too cold for you, is it?”

She turned toward the voice to see Apollo stretched out on a flat rock, wearing swimming trunks. If she hadn’t known what had happened to him over the last few months, she would have never been able to tell that he had been through anything. She walked over to him, slightly unsure of the sight before her. “Apollo? Is that really you?”

She was shocked by the response when he sat up and flipped off the rock to land nimbly on his feet. “Now, what do you think?” He flashed her a smile that she just couldn’t refuse. All her fears about him seemed to melt away as she ran up to him and jumped into his arms. Their lips met as he gently held her. “Shall we?” he said, offering his arm. She took it and they walked down the beach together.

“Apollo, I’m so happy that you’re better. But how? The doctor said…”

“I know,” he said, interrupting her. “That’s one of the reasons why I asked you out here.”

Pieces fit into place. “I kind of figured you arranged this trip for me, sent the confirmation message, rented the vehicle, even planned the route I took,” she said.

Apollo nodded. “That’s right. I needed to talk with you alone, without any prying ears. And… I figured you should enjoy yourself along the way.”

“What was so important that you had to talk to me here?” She looked at him slyly. “You’re not going to propose to me in an attempt to smooth things over, are you?”

Apollo acted shocked. “Why, whatever would make you think that? But seriously, no, that’s not the reason. I just felt that you should know how I received my good fortune.” Apollo then proceeded to tell her the whole story, from the plan’s conception right up to his little talk with Skip. Sam was startled at some points, but understanding showed more and more prominent in her expression as Apollo explained. When he finished his story, they moved on to other topics, chatting until the sun was seen just over the horizon, reflecting off the ocean waves. The couple made it back to their original location, where he stopped and looked deeply into her eyes. “So… now that you know the whole story, and you should also know, by the way, that this secret must be kept at all costs, what do you think? Will it affect our relationship in any way?”

Sam thought for a moment. “Well… What I think is that you were pretty brave for going through with the procedure, and more than a little foolish, considering the risks you put yourself through.” She edged closer to him. “As for our relationship…” She reached up and pulled him lower so she could tenderly kiss him. “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.” They lowered themselves to the ground… as the sun set and the tide went out, their passion rose with the full moon.

 

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.