Reaching Eden

by Mylochka and Cheryl Petterson

(Standard Year 2249)

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum

Go To Part Two

“Hey,” Daffy Gollub’s face suddenly lit up. “Look. It’s Roger!”

The protesters nearest to her and Ruth Valley suddenly quieted when the chemist used her phaser to indicate someone in the crowd.

“Don’t point,” Ruth admonished, as she pushed her friend’s arm back down to her side. “Roger who?”

“Oh, please,” Gollub seemed unfazed by the fact that she’d just managed to intensify the portion of the riot the two of them were supposed to have under control. “He’s lucky I remembered his first name. You remember? Roger, the Sevrinite, Roger?”

Ruth searched the garishly clad crowd of bare-footed, flower-festooned protesters for a familiar face. “Saying he’s a Sevrinite doesn’t cut it down much right now.”

“Oh, you remember,” Daffy insisted, trying to relocate her old acquaintance in the shifting mass. “We used to party with him. Roger. Stupid Roger. Stupid, annoying Roger, the Sevrinite. How many people can that describe? See, there he is.”

“Oh, yeah.” Ruth pushed Daffy’s phaser arm back down again. “That Roger.”

The two of them were positioned on the steps of the capitol building of whatever crummy provincial city this was. Other officers from the U.S.S. Enterprise and Hood were stationed around the building. Although Gollub and Valley were around fifty feet away from the crowd, their elevation gave them a good view of the demonstrators. Ruth spotted a skinny, wild-eyed man moving through the throng nearest to the barricades exhorting his fellow protesters. Despite the beginning-to-thin hair and kitschy, shabby clothes, Ruth could recognize the ranting, fever-eyed boy from her Clave days.

“Ugh,” she concluded. “Why did we ever hang out with such a schlemiel?”

“Cal used to invite flower-loonies to his parties all the time.” Daffy shrugged. “He liked to screw with them… literally and metaphorically, I think.”

“Yeah, I know. " Ruth shuddered at the mention of the man who she, her cousin David, and Jeremy Paget had revealed as the Hunter. "But you were friends with that one,” she accused.

“We weren’t friends. I just thought he was funny.”

“I can see how you might mistake this,” Ruth said pointedly, “but crazy and annoying aren’t funny.”

“After he got a couple beers in him, he was okay,” Gollub replied. “Did you ever see him do that goofy party trick he does where he belches the Vulcan alphabet?”

Ruth rolled her eyes. She couldn’t believe they were chatting inanely about Stupid Roger, knowing what was about to happen. Her heart was beating wildly in her chest. She felt like she wanted to scream. Instead she calmly replied, “You can’t belch the Vulcan alphabet. Not even a Vulcan can belch the Vulcan alphabet – not that they would, of course. It’s impossible.”

“I know.” Daffy grinned. “That’s what made it so funny.”

A dark brown hand landed heavily on Gollub’s shoulder. “Lieutenant,” the Security Chief of the U.S.S. Hood said, leaning close to her ear. “If I see you point that phaser one more time, I’m going to take it away from you and use it to shoot out your teeny, tiny brain. Do you understand me?”

“Sorry, Jer,” Daffy apologized lightly, as she pointed – without her phaser. “But we saw Roger. You remember Roger, right?”

Paget peered into the crowd. “Well, I’ll be… Stupid Roger in the flesh.”

They watched as their old acquaintance began to argue with the security officers nearest to the barricade.

“Still a jackass.” Jeremy shook his head. “I’m surprised no one’s shot him yet.”

Valley shrugged. “The day is young.”

“He was always a putz,” Gollub conceded.

“And a jerk,” Paget agreed.

“And a total twitch,” Valley chimed in.

“If he couldn’t burp the Vulcan alphabet,” Paget concluded, “he’d be useless.”

Daffy grinned broadly. “You remember!”

“How could I forget? Have you ever heard him do it backwards?”

Gollub began to laugh. “It’s even funnier backwards.”

Ruth put annoyed hands on her hips. “I do not need this aggravation,” she mumbled to herself. “All hell is about to break loose. And you cannot burp the Vul…”

Suddenly, the ambient chanting of the crowd spiked into a roar of protest.

“Stay frosty, ladies.” Jeremy gave Daffy’s arm a quick, affectionate squeeze before heading back towards the barricades. He’d only gotten a few steps away from them when he turned back to warn, “This is it.”

“I don’t care what anybody says,” Daffy said as they watched Paget confer with Sulu. From their gestures, it was clear that the conversation between the two officers had quickly become heated. “If I see Pavel’s ex-girlfriend, I shoot the bitch.”

“You don’t know that she’s a bitch,” Ruth replied.

“The ex-girlfriend is always a bitch,” Gollub asserted.

Sulu and Paget were now arguing with someone via communicator.

“That’s not true,” Ruth heard herself saying. "A few weeks back Jilla was the ex-girlfriend. And under the right circumstances you or I could be the ex-girlfriend.”

After snapping shut his communicator, Sulu once more conferred with his old friend. The two officers obviously came to some sort of conclusion. Their expressions were grim as they gestured Yeoman Tamura over to them.

“You and I can be bitches,” Daffy was pointing out. “Huge bitches.”

"Yeah, but Jilla can't."


Tamura hesitated a moment before nodding in sharp agreement. Sulu re-opened his communicator. Simultaneously both Gollub and Valley’s communicators beeped the signal to assemble.

“Form up! Form up!” Paget shouted redundantly. “Beta Formation!”

“Oh, shit,” Daffy cursed as they hurried to meet the rest of the squad.

Twenty officers from the Enterprise and the Hood converged into a neat double line.

Paget stood with his back to the crowd. “Firing positions,” he ordered while Sulu crossed behind the squad.

The crowd gasped as the front line of Starfleet personnel sank to one knee.

“Attention!” Sulu’s voice boomed. His communicator was tied into a public address system. “This is an illegal assembly. You are ordered to disperse immediately.”

“Check weapons,” Paget commanded quietly. “Your phasers should be on stun. Minimum setting. Maximum dispersal.”

“I repeat,” Sulu’s voice echoed around them. “This is an illegal assembly. You must disperse.”

Jeers sounded from the crowd.

“You have one minute to disperse. At the end of that minute…” Sulu paused and swallowed hard. “…we will commence fire. I repeat. We will open fire.”

“Weapons at ready!” Paget ordered, stepping to the side.

For a minute, Ruth thought the threat had worked. She watched over the sight of her phaser as the crowd churned and seemed to thin. It quickly became apparent, though, that they were only reorganizing.

“Oh my God,” Daffy said between her clenched teeth. “They’re putting kids in front!”

The torturous simulations her instructors had put her through had taught Ruth to control her empathic reactions in a crisis situation. They couldn’t prepare her for the horror of pointing a phaser at unarmed children and elderly non-combatants. These civilians had no way of knowing what setting the Federation weapons aimed at them were on. Their unspoken terror shook her.

Beside her, she saw Noel DelMonde’s weapon waver for a moment. “This is some bullshit here,” he muttered darkly to no one in particular.

“We are not armed!” the crowd began to chant. “We are not armed! We are not armed!”

“That’s for the media,” the Hood officer next to Ruth said quietly. Still chanting, the crowd began to advance once more, holding up their empty hands. Distractedly, Ruth wondered what the Starfleet PR flaks were going to be able to do to put a positive spin on the image of teen-agers and grandparents holding toddlers on their shoulders while marching into the barrels of Federation phasers.

“You must disperse!” Sulu’s reverberating voice was painful in her ears. “We will fire! I repeat. We will fire. You have fifteen seconds to disperse!”

Somewhere in the crowd a countdown began.

“You cannot harm us,” another part of the crowd chanted. “We are your brothers!”

“Eleven! Ten! Nine!”

“Ready!” Paget called.

“You cannot harm us…”

“Seven! Six!”


“We are you’re brothers!”

“Four! Three!”

“You cannot harm us..”

“Two! One!”


The assembled weapons screamed out into the crowd like the hum of a million angry bees. A giant half-moon shaped swath of protesters fell in union.

For a full second there was a silent, simultaneous intake of breath before the surviving members of crowd began to howl their protest.

Again, Ruth thought the crisis might be over as the fallen were quickly whisked away. In only a few moments, though, the mob began to reform -- larger and angrier than before.

Behind her Sulu was arguing with his communicator. “…visually verify that they are completely unarmed…. Yes, sir, but….”

“We are unarmed! We are unarmed!” This time the crowd’s chant was accusing.

“Ohgodohgodohgodohgod…” Gollub was whispering as they watched parents collect lifeless-looking children.

Ruth was lightheaded from the swirl of emotions crushing in on her. She heard Del draw in a breath that sounded ragged. “Shut the fuck up, Gollub,” he growled.

“…Sir, I cannot…” Sulu was trying to say. “Sir, there are elderly…. Yes, sir… And children…. Yes, sir, I know, but….”

“We are unarmed! We are unarmed!”

“No, sir,” Sulu’s voice sounded defeated. “No, sir…. Yes, sir. I understand, sir.”


“Paget!” Sulu called out. “Plan B.”

“Right.” Jer stepped back into Ruth’s field of view. “Company, about face! Form a single rank.”

Sulu’s face was tight and drawn. “We’re going to need to verify phaser settings in case there’s questions about this afterwards,” he announced as Paget moved down the line collecting weapons.

“Why are they taking our communicators?” The Hood officer next to Ruth asked under his breath as Yeoman Tamura followed behind the Security Officer confiscating that item from each member of the squad.

There was a crash behind them.

“Chekov, DelMonde, Gollub,” Sulu quickly ordered. “Man the barricade!”

Daffy’s “Ohgodohgodohgods’s” got louder as she broke rank and dashed to maintain their perimeter.

Del and Daffy’s departure left Ruth at the end of the line.

“Okay,” Jeremy announced when he had her phaser and Sakura had her communicator.

Sulu cleared his throat. “I have received orders to fire on the crowd again – this time with phasers set to kill.”

Although there was no outburst, Ruth could feel the protests of her fellow officers.

“I have informed our superiors that the protesters are unarmed, however…” Sulu took in a deep breath. “…the order stands.”

“You cannot hurt us,” the crowd chanted. “We are your brothers.”

“I believe that this is an unethical order.” The helmsman’s eyes shone brightly. “I will not follow it. And I will not stand by while you carry it out.”

“But Sulu…” a man who Ruth recognized as one of the Enterprise’s Security contingent protested. “that’s mutiny.”

“Right.” The helmsman’s mouth was a tight firm line. “That’s why we’re giving you the chance to get out of this. Anyone who’s not with me, move to the left.”

The squad members looked about in confusion, but did not move.

“Come on,” Paget said, leveling a confiscated phaser at them. “Make a decision.”

“Jer,” another voice Ruth didn’t recognize pleaded. “You can’t…”

Sulu’s phaser was out now. “No debate. You’re in or you’re out. Right now.”

“Go on! Go on!” Paget urged, giving one of his shipmates an impatient push.

“You’re with us, right, Ruth?” Tamura asked her, handing her some of the stack of communicators.

“Yeah,” she heard herself say as the bulk of her shipmates moved over to the far left.

The crowd’s chanting died down as they assessed this new development.

Hood,” Sulu said into his communicator. “Emergency beam up. Everyone in a four meter radius of this communicator.”

“Sulu,” the Enterprise redshirt protested as he caught the communicator the helmsman tossed him. “What do I tell Jil…?”

His words were cut off in the sparkle of the transporter beam.

“Behind the barrier!” Sulu ordered. “They’ll be back with reinforcements!”

“Get rid of those communicators!” Paget shouted, tossing phasers to Ruth and Sakura.

Obediently each dropped the stack she was carrying and disintegrated them. Ruth turned in time to see Daffy smash hers underfoot before diving over the waist-high barricade into the welcoming arms to of the protesters.

DelMonde grabbed both his and Chekov’s communicators and flung them into the empty space where the Hood and Enterprise officers had been standing. “Don’t fuck around!” he warned his roommate as he boosted the navigator over the barrier. “We got no time t' t'ink now!”

Ruth stumbled on her way down the steps to the place where Paget was pressing the extra phasers into the hands of the protesters.

“Here they come!” Sulu shouted from behind her. “Get down now!”

She hit the hard pavement and rolled into firing position.

A sparkling cloud of individuals in Starfleet uniforms was forming.

“Fire!” Sulu ordered when they solidified.

Their shipmates dropped before they had a chance to draw their weapons.

“Come on!” Paget pulled her to her feet. He paused in front of the barricade and took aim at a target high above them. Ruth turned to see a company of reporters drop.

“Now that’s gonna be a story!” Jer grinned, reaching out to help her over the barricade.


Dropping into the crowd was like entering a raging storm. Bodies swirled around her, shouting incomprehensibly. She couldn’t see Paget or any of her other companions. She pushed her way towards a building, hoping to get clear of the press. It was hard to tell if the protestors were fleeing, celebrating, or pushing forward. Maybe a little of each. Buffeted between strangers, she completely lost her way and was unwillingly being driven back towards the municipal building when someone reached out and grabbed her.

“Spike!” a vaguely familiar voice called. “This way!”

The face of the woman who was pulling her arm didn’t immediately connect with a name.

“Come on!” the not-quite stranger urged. “Come on!”

They had gotten into the doorway of a building and were making their way down a dark stairway before Valley made the connection between the young woman before her and the girl she remembered. “Lace?”

“Yeah,” the ex-groupie paused to hug her. “You were wonderful! But then again, you always were, weren’t you?”

Ruth didn’t feel at all wonderful. Her head pounded and her arms and knees burned from the scrapes she’d gotten falling on the stairs. “Where are we?”

“No time to explain.” Lace tugged on her arm again and led her down a dark corridor. “Come on!”

Ruth whirled at the sound of footsteps behind them, but it was only Daffy, Sakura, and two more Sevrinites.

“Where are the guys?” Gollub asked, panting.

“Don’t worry,” Lace assured her. “Others will be bringing them here. Come on.”

“Lace?” Daffy asked, as their guide took off.

“Yeah,” she turned to smile as she led them down another flight of stairs.

“I almost didn’t recognize you,” Gollub said. “You aren’t still dating Stupid Roger, are you?”

“Yeah,” their guide affirmed, still smiling.


“Oh, he’s not that bad,” the ex-groupie said, opening the door onto what turned out to be an underground shuttlecar system.

“He must have changed a lot then,” Ruth muttered to Daffy.

Stupid Roger and a group of Eden-heads were waiting for them by a shuttlecar. “Hurry!”

Ruth was relieved to find Sulu, DelMonde, Paget, and Chekov inside the car. They looked disheveled but uninjured.

“Dafshka.” The navigator quickly pulled the chemist into a crushing embrace. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” she replied, laughing shakily. “Are you?”

“I don’t know,” he said, pressing his face against her hair. “I don’t know.”

The shuttlecar shook into forward motion.

“Ruth,” Sulu said, leading her towards a sharp-faced woman with long dark hair. “This is Madvig. She’s going to take care of us.”

“Peace, sister,” the Sevrinite smiled.

“Yeah, thanks,” Ruth replied numbly.

“Just relax,” Madvig patted her on the shoulder. “All of you -- just relax. We’ll talk when we get to the ship. Come, brethren. Let’s give them some space.”

“Shit,” Del swore, wearily dropping into a padded seat as the Edenites filed into the next car forward. “Shee—it.”

“Amen to that,” Paget agreed, sitting down opposite him.

“Pavel,” Daffy said, still standing with the navigator’s arms locked around her. “I can’t breathe.”

The Russian shook his head unhearing. “How did it come to this?” he was saying to himself. “How did it come to this?”

Although none of his companions answered him aloud, all of them were reviewing the sequence of events that had turned them into fugitives.


Jeremy Paget had known he was headed for trouble on the day that he was called to Captain Aronsen’s office on the U.S.S. Hood. He’d been off-duty, relaxing in a very un-military set of civilian robes, re-reading the latest correspondence from Sulu when the call came. He’d had to pull his mind forcibly from the tape: Sulu had been making a confession, a bitter, self-castigating diatribe regarding what the helmsman referred to as a “Fidelity Fuck-up,” and Jeremy had yet to process the fury he felt toward his best and oldest friend. I told him to watch out for that siren, didn’t I? he muttered to himself. But did he listen? It hadn’t helped his disposition any to find out that Ensign LiLing was no longer among the living. Accidents happened; Security had to accept that better than other Fleet officers. And from what Sulu said, the Ensign would have made little Jilla’s life hell anyway, so I s’pose it’s for the best, Jeremy’s thoughts went on. Still…

He pulled himself away from reverie as Captain Aronsen’s voice called, “Come,” then stepped into the office.

“Reporting, sir,” he said.

The Captain was giving him an odd, sidelong glance. “Tell me, Mr. Paget, is there any reason an Admiral would be sending you a priority communiqué?”

“Me, sir?” Jeremy replied, blinking in surprise, while a part of his brain frowned in sudden apprehension.

Aronsen thumbed the switch on the comm, but his gaze didn’t leave Paget’s. “Put it on, Lieutenant,” he said.

The small screen resolved into the smiling face of a handsome, older woman.

“Lieutenant Commander Paget,” she began, then stopped. “Ah, Captain Aronsen. I wasn’t expecting you.”

“You send a priority call to the Hood and you weren’t expecting me, Rhonda?” Aronsen returned with only a hint of annoyance.

“Not when I send one addressed to Mr. Paget, Jack,” Admiral Brezhnova countered.

“I am his commanding officer.”

“Of course. And you’ll receive your own briefing after I’ve spoken to Lieutenant Commander Paget.” The women smiled. “Privately. This is a Need to Know communication, Captain.”

Aronsen frowned, but stood up from his desk. “I’ll leave you to it, then,” he said. “Admiral. Mr. Paget.”

Jeremy let out a low whistle as Aronsen left the office. “Admiral, why do you want to make my life miserable?” he asked.

“Because you’ve seen fit to keep your commanding officer in the dark about your other profession, Dr. Paget,” she returned easily.

The apprehension in Paget’s mind grew. “You’ve got a psychological assignment for me,” he said.

“Not exactly, though your psychological training is one of the reasons you’ve been chosen for it,” Brezhnova rejoined. “What do you know about the late Doctor Sevrin?”


Noel DelMonde immediately knew that nothing good could come of his being invited to a top secret briefing on Starbase 9. He wasn’t comforted to find only familiar faces around the briefing room table and his old pal Jeremy Paget in charge.

“Hi, gang.” There had been little real happiness in Lieutenant Commander Paget’s smile. “To put it briefly, you’re here because we’ve been asked to save the universe.”

Oy vey,” Daffy Gollub had said. “Then the universe is in some trouble.”

“Saving the universe is standard operating procedure for the Enterprise,” Pavel Chekov had asserted with his usual unthinking confidence.

“But if this is a job for the Enterprise,” Ruth Valley had observed, “then we’re about 425 people short at this briefing. Right, Jer?”

“Yeah, this is going to be an undercover mission.” Paget paused a moment while the tension level in the room increased. “You are all in one way or another familiar with Dr. Sevrin and the Back to Eden movement.”

“Flower loonies.” Daffy made a face. “Ick.”

“It was assumed that after the death of Dr. Sevrin, the movement would fall apart,” Paget continued. “It didn’t. It’s growing at an alarming rate. More than that, the character of the organization has changed. Before his death, it was an adamantly non-violent group. Its membership was primarily made up of students, drop outs, academics, idealists, and…” Jeremy figured he might as well say it before Daffy or Spike did, “… other assorted clueless assholes and annoying buzzkills.”

“And the non-violent part has changed?” Sulu asked.

“That’s what has Fleet really worried. They’ve gone from recruiting in bars and on campuses to causing civil unrest on the planetary scale and guiding the outcome of elections. There are rumors that they’re stockpiling arms. Our mission is to infiltrate the organization, find out if they are buying weapons and from whom, and discover who’s really in charge and what their true objectives are.”

“Piece o’ cake,” DelMonde commented sarcastically. “What we gonna do wit’ the rest o' the day?”

“Starfleet has come up with a very convincing and pretty spectacular scenario to explain our defecting. A tactical specialist will be going through the details of that and some other aspects of the mission. But before we get there, I wanted give you a chance to ask a couple of very specific questions we might not be comfortable raising in front of strangers.”

“Why are six of the seven people sitting around this table ex-Clavists?” Sulu asked on cue.

“After things blew up with the Hunter…” Paget paused in recognition of how hard it was for some of them to hear that nickname. “…a respectable number of Clavists became Sevrinites. Some of them are thought to be pretty high up in the organization. Fleet’s assuming that our knowledge of these individuals – and their knowledge of our previous and less respectable activities -- will give us an in and boost our credibility as defectors.”

“This means that someone fairly high up in Starfleet Command knows a lot about the Clave,” Ruth said, making the next logical assumption.

Paget sighed. “Spike, the more I learn about Starfleet Command, the more I become convinced that there are people in the upper echelons who know something about damn near everything there is to know anything about.”

“A good thing this isn’t, Jer,” Daffy Gollub pointed out.

“You know who knows, right?” Sulu demanded.

Paget shrugged. “All I can say is that we were not the first teenagers with a taste for speed who decided to make a career with the organization which owns the fastest ships in our part of the galaxy.”

“Okay,” Sakura Tamura said. “If that’s why we’re here, then why is he here?”

Her shipmates followed Gypsy’s pointing finger to the lone non-Clavist sitting in the briefing room.

“Personal connection,” Paget said, sorry to be the one to have to deliver this particular piece of bad news. “Lieutenant Chekov has a strong tie to someone who Fleet is pretty sure is one of the leaders of the new, more militant Sevrinist organization.”


DelMonde sighed at the memory. Although the Cajun was in principle still in favor of anything the Fates decided to do to knock Pavel Chekov off his high horse and shake the Russian’s unshakable conviction that the universe was basically a pleasant place where good fortune was evenly distributed to the deserving, even Del had to admit that this latest trick of the Three Sisters seemed mean-spirited and had worked a little too well. DelMonde sighed again and was glad that Chekov was not capable of projecting the pain he felt as the navigator held Daffy Gollub tightly in his arms and thought, Irina, my Irina! How could you? How can you still break my heart?


Ruth didn’t like having to remind Del to shore up his leaking shielding. She didn’t like it almost as much as she hadn’t liked having to work with him in the few days before the mission started. It wasn’t at all certain that there were trained telepaths in with the Sevrinites, but Fleet didn’t want to take any chances, so Ruth had had to spend several hours each day strengthening both Del’s control and his empathic barriers. Which the press of the riot and the mutiny was dangerously close to shredding.

Whatever energy you expend, my wife, I can aid you in replenishing.

For a moment, Ruth couldn’t determine if Spock’s surety was contact or memory, but when it didn’t continue, she closed her eyes and let remembrance take her.

My helping him hurts him. It hurts you.

A temporary situation which is necessary if this mission is to succeed.

I don’t see why they can’t used trained espionage agents for this.

It has been tried before, and failed. You and Mr. Paget, Mr. Sulu, Miss Tamura, Miss Gollub, Mr. DelMonde and Mr. Chekov are Fleet’s last hope.

Somehow, Boss, that doesn’t boost my confidence.

I have enough for both of us.

Who else knows about this?

The Captain, Captain Aronsen and his First Officer, Admiral Brezhnova, the upper echelons of Starfleet Policy and Security…

All those people know we were Clavists?

No. Mr. Paget was given complete latitude in deciding on his team.

But you know.

We are telepaths, my wife. Which is the primary reason for your inclusion, not your former association with toys for insane teenagers.

Toys for…!

Which is what you thought on Alcon, Ruth.

Oh. Yeah. Right. Well, it isn’t fair. I just got back from Memory Alpha.

We can touch – here – as we did then.

That’s not really gonna do my body much good. We are still newlyweds, y’know.

I will miss your warmth as well.

Ever and always…

Touching and touched.

Ruth opened her eyes and shook off the memory, then glanced at DelMonde who mouthed a weary ‘thank you.’


“How did it come to this?”

Daffy couldn’t stop the grimace as Pavel’s voice filtered through her hair. After the very exclusive briefing Cobra had given, she had had one of her own with her lover.

“You’re okay with this, right, bubee?”

“No, I am not,” Pavel had responded grimly. “But I have been given my orders and I will follow them.”

“You understand we need all the help we can get to find out what mishegas the Eden-heads are up to.”


“And we’re supposed to be able to put the past in the past…”

“Yes, Daphne.”

“…while using it to Fleet’s advantage…”

“I do not see what that has to do with…” Chekov continued stubbornly.

“…regardless of our personal feelings…”

“And since when are you so concerned with the proper attitude of Starfleet personnel?"

Daffy had stopped talking, and forced herself to meet the navigator’s eyes. “Because it hurts you, Pasha,” she said simply. Quietly. She reached up and touched his face. His brown eyes stared down soulfully at her.

“That is… “ he paused. “Most understanding of you, Dafshka.”

“Of course, if I see the bitch, I’m going to kill her.”

And that’s how it came to this, she thought and concentrated on trying to inhale.


Sulu’s thoughts were far away from the mission and the shuttlecar that sped them towards an unknown fate. In his mind’s eye, he could still see his cabin and a solemn silver-toned face before him…

“… so because I was a Clavist, Fleet thinks I’d be suited for infiltrating the new Sevrinites,” he had explained.

Jilla sat on their bed, trying not to let her worry consume her. “Is there any indication of how long this assignment will last?” she asked softly.

Sulu sighed, coming over to sit beside her. “Not really. It depends on how long it takes us to gain their confidence, and how long after that we can find out what’s behind this apparent change in the Sevrinites’ goals.” He took her hands. “You’ll be all right without me, won’t you?”

“No,” the engineer replied truthfully, “but I will live.”

“You just won’t enjoy it,” Sulu returned with a wry grimace.

“I beg your…”

“Never mind, hon.”

She sighed, then leaned her head against his chest.

“You know Jeremy and Ruth won’t let me get into any trouble,” Sulu murmured, his arms coming around her shoulders.

“I trust you, beloved,” she said.

He chuckled sadly. “God knows why.” Her hand found his, touching the silver band he wore. He took a deep breath. “That’s another thing. I can’t…” He stopped, then tried again. “We’ve got to play up the Clavist angle, hon. I’m supposed to fall back into old, hedonistic patterns. Not that I really will,” he added quickly as her head came up.

“You cannot wear…?” she began.

“Jeremy thinks it best that I don’t,” Sulu agreed ruefully.

The Indiian was silent for a moment, then swallowed. “I trust you,” she repeated.

Sulu hugged her, kissing the top of her head. “God, I’ll miss you,” he whispered.

“And I, you.”

“The timing sucks.”


“You make sure Jade takes care of you.”

“I will.”

“Ruth’s gonna stay in telepathic contact with Spock, so we can at least send messages.”

“I will look forward to it.”

There was a long silence, then Sulu sighed. “I’ve got to get ready for the landing party.”

“I know.”

He gently put her away from him, then reached down, sliding his wedding ring off his finger. “Hold on to this, hon,” he said, pressing the silver band into her palm. “Feel me through it.”

Her fingers closed tightly around it, and she glanced up at him, unshed tears in her eyes. “And what can I give you?” she asked.

“Kiss me. Let me take the taste with me.”

Sulu closed his eyes, remembering the hint of cucumber he could still almost taste on his lips.


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