No More, No Less

By Eireann

Rating: PG-13

Genres: drama

Keywords: possession

This story has been read by 1347 people.
This story has been read 3179 times.


Chapter One

Disclaimer: Star Trek (plus all its intellectual property) is owned by Paramount.  No infringement intended. 

Rating: PG-13

Summary: The ruins of a long-vanished civilization appear to be empty.  Appearances can be deceptive...

A/N: Beta’d by Distracted, to whom many thanks as always.

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“Fascinatin’ stuff, isn’t it?”

Trip made the remark as he pushed aside a swag of low-hanging greenery.  Not receiving any reply, he glanced over his shoulder and grinned.

For once Malcolm should have been free to enjoy being a member of a landing party on a world where they were almost 100% sure that nothing was going to attack them.  The ship’s scanners had indicated that these ruins were free of any life signs larger than a domestic Earth cat, and the jungle all around it was quiet, simmering in the heat and humidity.

Having discovered evidence of a long-lost civilization whose inhabitants had presumably died out (intensive scans revealed no sign of any species likely to have developed sufficiently to build such structures), Enterprise had settled into orbit to give its various science teams free run of the place for a few days.  The bridge officers hadn't had a chance to stretch their legs for a while, so Trip and Malcolm had volunteered to bring Hoshi down to check the place out for inscriptions.  They’d gotten lucky almost immediately, discovering a small obelisk smothered with panels, many containing close-set hieroglyphs as well as stylised pictures; the carvings were badly weathered, of course, but still fairly decipherable if you knew the language.  Hoshi had uttered something that sounded suspiciously like a squeal of joy and settled down to study it, carefully photographing it from various angles to get the best light across the lettering.  Malcolm, in his best Security Officer mode, had prowled around the area right up till Hoshi had noticed him and suggested he quit hovering and go see what else there was of interest to be found.

The lieutenant plainly did not like being accused of ‘hovering’.  Forbearing for once (somewhat surprisingly) to inform his junior officer that what he was actually doing was his job, he had cast a last glower around the courtyard as though personally warning it not to misbehave in his absence, and walked off with Trip to explore the ruins on either side of the long thoroughfare that ran in a roughly southerly direction from the building where they’d found the obelisk.

The houses that ran at either side had once been grand, to judge by their remains.  They looked as though they’d been attacked, not just deserted.  Weathered scars suggested that the demolition had been accomplished by more than just wind and weather.  Several of these had borne decorated panels too, but chunks had been hacked out of them long ago; in an outburst of insane fury, to judge by how deeply the chisels had been driven.

The large arch that Trip was now standing underneath beckoned.  It was partially blocked by swathes of a vigorous creeper slathered in purple flowers, but its size and grandeur suggested that something worth seeing might be beyond it.  The stone slabs underfoot had been hollowed by many passing feet.

Just in front of it, however, were the remains of what looked as though it had once been a fountain, carved out of blocks of red stone.  It was worn and crumbled, but there was some rusted iron piping half-exposed in the middle of it, gaping uselessly over a broken stone bowl.  Trip had passed it by with hardly a glance, but Malcolm stopped and was staring at it.

“What’s up, Malcolm?”

A less perceptive man might have missed the very slight flinch.

“Nothing.”  Reed turned away from the fountain and followed him under the arch, pushing past the greenery in the same way.  He eyed the stonework too, with something different in his usual coolly analytical stare, though he didn’t speak.  Now unsmiling, Tucker watched thoughtfully as his friend walked through what had been a short, covered passage and into the middle of a huge round space that now opened up around them.

It was evidently a place where crowds had gathered.  On every side crumbling tiers of stone seating rose up towards the amber sky atop a wall some three meters in height.  A separated part looked as though it had once provided a more exclusive seating area; part of the walls that had probably supported a ceiling still remained, though the ceiling itself had rotted away and fallen long ago.

Trip gave a short, sharp whistle, testing the acoustics.  They were still good.  He thought that when it was new, virtually every sound made down here would have carried clearly to the topmost benches. 

A sudden movement drew his gaze back to Malcolm, who had spun around at the unexpected noise and was now staring at him.

“What did you do that for?”  His extreme agitation was underlined by the fact that he didn’t even say ‘sir’ or ‘Commander’.  On duty, the lieutenant was a stickler for the rules.

“Just testin’ the acoustics.  Whoever built this knew what they were doin’.  I wonder what they did in here.  Plays, or...”

“I know what they did in here.”  Reed’s statement fell like an axe, cutting his speculations short.  “Seen many plays where they make sure the actors can’t escape, have you?”

Tucker’s gaze widened in sudden horror.  Now the significance of that high wall became obvious.  “Oh, my God.  It’s an arena.”

Malcolm’s mouth twisted strangely.  “Exactly.”  He walked over to face the ‘executive box’, and stopped facing it.  His back and shoulders were rigid.  For a long moment he was perfectly still, and then he yelled, “Exearru thirx!” and spun on his heel, dropping into a fighting crouch. 

“Malcolm!”  Trip rushed towards him, but pulled up when the lieutenant glared at him, gray eyes wide and fixed, with no recognition in them at all.  “Malcolm, it’s me!”

“Put up a fight, will you?” hissed the other man.  “Don’t think I won’t kill you if you don’t, it’s all the same to me.  Your gods won’t welcome a coward, that’s all!”

“I don’t want to fight you!  Malcolm, this is me!  Trip!”

Reed advanced with short, almost dancing steps, poised on the balls of his feet.  His right hand was held in front of him as though he thought he was holding a knife, close to his body but ready to stab forward with it in an instant.  To all appearances the hand was completely empty, but his face was full of deadly, mocking purpose.

“You’re in the wrong place if you don’t want a fight, mate.  Should have thought of that before you let them take you alive.  Now, you’ve got two options: give them the show they want and I’ll finish you quickly, or you can stand there and pretend you and I have met before, and I’ll slit your gizzard and use your guts for a skipping rope.  Last time I did that, I got as far as twenty before the owner stopped screaming.  And they loved it.”   A jerk of his head towards the deserted benches.  “The bad news for you is, you look a lot stronger than he did.  So I suggest you don’t find out how many I can get to with yours.”

Trip backed up, staring at him.  He wasn’t afraid of being stabbed with a non-existent knife, but he had a very healthy respect for the lieutenant’s ability to kill him with no weapon at all.  He was so horrified and bewildered by this stunning turn of events that for the moment he couldn’t think how to respond, but as Malcolm lost patience and lunged at him, the intention plain and ugly on his face, his hand dropped automatically to the phase pistol clipped at his hip.  In the bitterest of ironies, he’d argued against the necessity of wearing one; it had been Malcolm, in his habitual I’m-Head-of-Security-so-I-give-the-orders-on-that-score mode, who’d insisted.

He only just had time to draw it.  It fired into Reed’s chest at point-blank range, hurling him backwards.


Comments:

Mary


OK, you have me on the edge of my seat. DID NOT see that one coming. What a "hook", now you have the finish it!!

 

Kotik

Ouch, Malcolm seems to be a wee bit upset. I wonder if these plants have anything to do with it. You mentioned them in just a bit too much detail for them to be unimportant ...

Oh and just in case nobody mentioned it - this background is terrible...

Cogito

And, yeah, the background in this section of TriaxianSilk is horrendous. I just can't figure why it's been left like this for so long. :(

Cogito

Wait, what??? Thank goodness Reed is so deeply enmeshed in the hallucination that he hasn't thought to draw his own weapon, that's all I can say. What the hell's going on here? Is this related to the reason the place is deserted, and seems to have been torn apart? And now I'm supposing that was done by its inhabitants, which implies that this madness overcame them all, which doesn't bode well for Malcolm . :(

Reanok


Nice beginning to your new story I can't wait to read your new story.I'm certainly Inrigued about finding more about this ancient Civilzation they're exploring right now.

Alelou

Wowza!  That's a hook, all right.

Nothing to do with you, but I had to cut and paste this into a Word doc so I could actually read it.  I just can't do this background anymore.

 

Weeble

Strap yourselves in laddles and jellyspoons, the Irish essayist is back at it. Good thing too. 

Jamieson


Oooh! Well, you've certainly got my interest! While I currently work in Ontario, my degrees are in Mesoamerican archaeology and I can't resist a good set of large-scale stone ruins in a jungle setting, makes me feel at home! (although I'm not sure I'd want to call this place home, if Malcolm is any indication!).  Not only does it cater to my inner archaic nerd, but the teaser packs quite a punch at the end there and I'm very intrigued. Looking forward to more!

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