A Little Bitty Bit Of Treachery

by Cheryl Pettersonand Mylochka

(Standard Year 2250)

What if certain crewmembers decided to save Valjiir from the Klingons?’

(This is an alternate to the Shadow Captain series.
It begins at the story "Danse Macabre").

Go to Part Seven

Return to Part Five

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum



When the captain called his First Officer and Chief Medical Officer into his office, Sulu was sure the jig was up.

"Now you don't say a word until he does," McCoy warned quietly. "If he's got something to hang us with, we'll just let him do it, but there's no call to give him the rope ourselves."

Sulu nodded numbly, took a deep breath, and signaled at the captain's door.

"Reporting as ordered," he said after the door slid open.

Spock gestured them inside, not rising from his desk.

"Mr. Sulu, Dr. McCoy," the captain said, "I have a special assignment for you. I have received orders from Starfleet Command to delay the departure of the Klingon vessel that is currently using the shore leave facilities of Eastport on Betara. Since this is a neutral world and orders are to delay, not prevent the ship from returning to its sector, I am required to use devious means."

"Can't say you haven't had practice," McCoy muttered under his breath.

Spock ignored his words.

"You will be required to rid yourselves of all evidence of Starfleet," the Vulcan went on, "and to assume the attitude of casual observers once planetside. I expect that you will attract enough notice to keep the Klingons curious, but not enough to interest their security, for a minimum of four standard days; at which time you will return to the port transporter for beam up. Is this clear?"

"Uh, sir, do we have a cover story as to why we'd be...." Sulu began.

Spock's eyes fixed upon him like lasers. "Do I need to answer that, Mr. Sulu?" he asked pointedly.

Sulu flushed, but set his jaw. "I'm certain the doctor and I can come up with something," he returned.

"Given your ability to strategize, I have no doubt," Spock agreed. "We arrive at Betara at 0900 hours tomorrow morning. You are dismissed."

Both officers snapped off smart salutes to which Spock did not respond. Once out of the office, McCoy frowned.

"What do you suppose he's up to?" he asked grimly.

"I don't know," Sulu said. "All I know is that for once he's not putting Ruth or Jilla on the line."

"No," the doctor agreed. "This time it's our asses."

O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O= O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O

Daffy Gollub sprang angrily out of her chair and glared fiercely down at the three people she'd been sharing lunch and gossip with.

"Don't any of you tell me that Sulu’s defected! Especially not to the Klingons. Never to the Klingons -- Never!!"

"Dafshka," Pavel Chekov soothed, "I do not believe it myself. All I was saying is that the evidence seems to point to — defection."

"A few people believe that about Captain Kirk, too," Jan Bergmann interjected.

"Impossible!" Chekov exploded.

"All I’m saying is that I've heard rumors," Bergmann defended himself.

Gollub frowned warningly. “So stop saying it already.”

“Okay, okay,” the young Science Officer yielded, then grumbled, “As far as Sulu goes though, I was there on the Bridge when…”

“Yes, yes,” Chekov quickly hushed him.

There was an awkward pause during which Ordona and Bergmann did not make eye contact with the navigator. During Tara Ryan’s aborted investigation she had confronted Chekov with the information that the logs recorded no order for him to report to the Bridge. Thanks to the fact that the Russian had confided this suspicious fact to his girlfriend and Daffy had then complained too long and too loudly to everyone within earshot that he was somehow being framed, there was a lot of free-floating speculation that the navigator had been part of what some were calling the “Turbolift Conspiracy.”

“Whatever,” Gollub dismissed the entire rumored mutiny with an angry flick of her wrist. “Nothing you can say can convince me that Sulu would work for the Klingons – not after what they did to him, not after what they did to Jilla!”

“There are some rumors about her too,” Ramon Ordona said quietly into his coffee cup.

Since Gollub herself had circulated some of those and added speculations of her own, she was momentarily silenced.

“Not to the Klingons,” she growled stubbornly.

"Everyone has a breaking point," Chekov concluded sadly.

Daffy sat down abruptly, the tragedy of her friends’ fate finally outpacing her outrage. "Yeah, I guess so," she whispered hoarsely.

O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O= O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O

Movement. Lift. Chris. Stretcher. Engines. Han. Raise. Beep. Concern. Blue. Orderly. Blood pressure. Chapel. Elevate. McCoy. Air. Desertion. Cold. Kor. Beep. Nurse. Fear. Ruth. Up. Betara. Move…

Hundreds of bits of what once had been Noel DelMonde’s consciousness registered thousands of fragments of information about the fact that he was being moved from his bed in sickbay.

Stretcher. Lift. Mutiny. Status. Lost. Concern. Nurse. Move. Gravimetrics. Jade. Air. Guilt. Sterilite. Christine. Beep. Ruth. Grief. Hypo. Blue. Len. Bourbon. No. Anger. Movement…

A mist of thoughts shimmered through disconnected memories that compared and contrasted his current state to how he’d been as a child – before he’d realized that he was a person separate from the roaring din of conflicting thoughts and emotions that registered inside his head.

Air. Cold. Blanket. Doctor. Equalization. Beep. Heart. Warp engine. Mutiny. Blue. Corridor. Light. Jade. Ruth. Move. Captain. Toes. Stabilizers. Leonard. Air. Light. Klingons. Corridor. Movement…

A shower of thoughts clustered around Dr. McCoy. None of the usual registers of the surgeon’s physical presence were turning up. However, the doctor was as much in the thoughts of the people around the engineer as he was.

Turn. Air. Move. Mind sifter. Heartbeat. Sublight. Red beam. Ruth. Corridor. McCoy. Concern. Shield power. Yellow door. Sympathy. Float. Status check. Stretcher. Elba. Beep. Spock. Move. Bastard. Air. Insane. Cerulean. Movement…

A thought cloud tried to form around evaluation of the drugs in his system. He was as full of tranquilizers as he ever had been in his life – which was saying something. They had his body comfy-numb (Except for his feet – Toes so cold! For God’s sake, didn’t a crazy person rate a blanket?). However his poor brain… Nothing could numb that collection of thought-needles as it floated all up all around what used to be him… And the throb of cerulean blue laced through him like an alien anaconda slithering through his veins…

Cold. Han. Beep. Sub-warp. Grief. Turn. Silver pipework. Turbo lift. Blue. Jude. Down. Chris. Mutineer. Heartbeat. Kirk. Float. Space normal. Down. Keheil. Beep. Stretcher. Nurse. Resentment. Open. Air. Worry. Door. Movement….

Engineering was still working on repairing the ship. The sound and feel of the engines was weak… His fault… Mais… Klingons… Rescue… had to be done…

Float. Christine. Corridor. Pity. Beep. Stabilizers. Air. Transfer. Surgeon. Mutiny. Yellow door. Stare. Elba. Psychologist. Captain. System Check. Cold. Beep. Ruth. Crewman. Blue. Movement…

And Ruth… As always, queen of his thoughts… A star-studded diamond-sharp halo of emotions crowning her beauty…Darling girl! Honey-sweet baby-love angel! Was she healed? Could she heal him? Would the attempt kill them both? Had she left that green-blooded demon for good? Would she at last come to him in joy?

Mutiny. Cold. Transporter. Red shirt. Han. Sympathy. Betara. Sublight. Blue. Nurse. Jude. Systems normal. Beep. Air. Captain. Transport pad. Movement…

They were beaming him off the ship… To some god-forsaken overgrown-asteroid crap-pile called Betara...To be transferred to Jude or (Jesus H. Christ on a Crutch!) the prison/insane asylum on Elba II… Taking him away from…

Transporter. Christine. Red shirt. Anger. Blue. Jade. Spock. Stabilizers. Cold. Chamber. Concern. Stretcher. Movement. Energize…

No! No! NO! RUTH!!!!

O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O= O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O

Sulu glanced uneasily around the crowded terrace, anxious and anticipatory, trying to look like a person who was trying to appear casual but was really anxious and anticipatory. It made his head hurt just to think about it. He and Dr. McCoy had discussed how they were supposed to attract Klingon attention without also attracting Klingon security. Anything too brazen, or making too much reference to their mutiny seemed a sure ticket to a Klingon interrogation.

"How would the Klingons know about that anyway?" McCoy wondered as he sipped a tall iced drink that had a sprig of mint at the top.

"How the hell should I know?" Sulu grumbled. "I'm only his fucking First Officer. Why should he tell me anything?"

"Well, son, we did..." McCoy began with a wry grin.

"And he never told me anything before that," Sulu cut him off, but he felt a smile coming over his own lips.

"So maybe we just sit here a spell and bad mouth our beloved captain and the damned Federation that lets him get away with..."

"Whatever the fuck he wants," Sulu concluded. He filled the small cup before him from the flask of sake, then lifted it in a salute. "Kanpei," he said, and threw the warm liquid to the back of his mouth. The sensation of heat flowing down his throat reminded him of his days at the Clave, of letting beckoning, golden tabs of amber melt against his tongue before swallowing their honey-sweet release. He wanted it now, wanted the chemically induced recklessness that had made him LeRoi, that had fueled his ability to do whatever he wanted, with no thought of the consequences.

And just what would you do now? his constant companion asked with taunting amusement.

I'd stop Jilla, came the immediate response.


From what I'm not supposed to know and don't want to think about.

She's doing it for you, you know.

Sulu grimaced. Yes.

So use it.


Get her to confess to you, then blackmail the son of a bitch. It worked on Rundella, didn't it?

Sulu thought about that. There had been no reason for Spock to avoid court-martialing him then, except that Sulu had threatened the Vulcan with the exposure of his threats to Jilla. And the situation was just as bad...

No, not quite. I resigned before I attacked the son of a bitch. That was the technical loop-hole he used. There isn't one here.

So simply the threat of exposing his threats isn't strong enough. Jilla's providing his loop-hole this time. Disclosing that to Fleet should be enough to court-martial him.

"Penny for your thoughts," McCoy's voice broke into his reverie.

Sulu shook his head. "Sorry," he said. "I'm lousy company."

"Usually I don't mind companionable silence while drinkin'," McCoy drawled. "But we're supposed to be gettin' the Klingons' attention."

Sulu grinned ruefully. "Yeah," he agreed, and drank another shot of his sake. "But just what are we supposed to do when we get it?"

O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O= O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O

Jilla knelt in the corner of Spock's quarters, trying to quiet the anxiety that gripped her. Sulu had only told her he was going to be planetside for a few days on the Captain's orders. She had felt his concern and his uneasiness, but did not question him, knowing that if he had been able to tell her more, he would have. It had only been a day since then, and already there were rumors on board regarding what was being referred to as the Turbolift Conspiracy. Many people felt as though Sulu and Dr. McCoy had left the ship with the intention of never returning. After all, their fellow mutineers were already incapacitated. DelMonde suffered from incurable brain damage, and Scott - her beloved pseudo-zilos - was an incurable drunkard. And while there was understanding of the reasons for such a course of action, there was little approval.

Jilla, however, knew differently. Sulu would never desert Starfleet without taking her with him. He would never leave Ruth with a broken heart and nowhere to go, no one to cling to. If Noel DelMonde was healed....

She felt tears welling in her eyes at the thought, and hurriedly stopped their flow. She could weep, now, for the loss of Ruth's own beloved, but she dare not. All her strength had to go to protecting Sulu, to giving her Tra'feean what he desired.

And perhaps, if he is well-pleased, he will bring Sulu back from this dangerous mission.

She heard the opening of the cabin door and swiftly moved to kneel before the Vulcan.

”Tra'feean, command me," she murmured.

He glanced at her, as he always did, with a look of disdain. She refused to identify what emotions came from him. He had not invited her to do so, and while she was aware that many Vulcans might find having service from one with such intimate knowledge - without having to admit it to themselves - more than acceptable, she knew that this Vulcan would not appreciate anyone intruding on his privacy in that manner. It was too soon after he had dismissed one who had known his inner being better than he knew himself.

It would be easier if he welcomed her. She didn't understand why he would not when her service was what he had wanted for so long, but it wasn't her place to understand. It wasn't her place to comfort, as she had offered all those months ago. It was her place to ease his physical needs, leaving his logic free of bothersome distractions.

When he didn't simply move around her to his desk, as he usually did, she chanced an upward glance.

Kal'aroun," he said to her, "I am aware of certain information being discussed among the crew. What do you feel from them?"

Jilla blinked, quickly casting her gaze back to the deck. There was no point in pretending to misunderstand which 'information' he meant. "There is confusion, Tra'feean, and disapproval. The - alleged actions - of certain crewmembers is deemed comprehendible but implausible."

"No one believes your paramour would mutiny," Spock said, and there was an odd satisfaction in his tone.

As glad as she would have been to correct him, she only said, "There is disbelief that he would defect."

"Without you."

The Vulcan's voice was flat, and a tendril of regret shifted across Jilla's awareness. She inhaled slightly, wanting to open herself to his emotions, but he continued and the thread faded.

"I wonder why that would be, since you belong to me."

He turned, heading for his desk, and Jilla rose, swiftly moving after him. She spoke the phrase that nearly always guaranteed a response from him.

"Will you not take what is yours"

He stopped, his entire body tensing. There is much to ease here, her tia told her. Something about whatever mission he has sent Sulu on is troubling him. Please him, make him forget his concerns and perhaps.... perhaps then you can convince him to bring Sulu home.

She slipped her arms around his waist, resting her head against his back, rubbing her cheek on the fabric of his tunic. He liked that, she knew. He liked to think of her as an animal. She made a purring sound deep in her throat.

Come, Tra'feean," she whispered. "Come play with your kitten. Your burdens are great, but here, you may lay them aside for a time. Here, you may allow yourself the enjoyment that is your due. Your kal'aroun awaits your desires."

She felt the shudder that went through him, and he turned, pulling the dark green shift up and off her body. Her arms entwined around his neck, and she closed her eyes as his lips met hers in a harsh, brusing kiss.

O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O= O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O

It was entirely too easy for any competent Science Officer to go AWOL, Ruth decided as she made her way down a busy Betaran street. First she’d rented a storage unit at a civilian facility in the name of a fake research institute that sounded almost exactly like the name of a real research institute that Starfleet often partnered with in this sector. Then she’d created a tiny little computer glitch that had sent Del’s belongings there instead of to the medieval-torture-chamber-excuse-for-a-hospital into which Spock had dumped the Cajun pending transfer to somewhere worse.

Ruth clamped her lips down on a growl that might have read as out of character to a passerby. Using her clearance as head of Science, she had assigned herself to make a routine delivery of some fragile test material to a local Starfleet-affiliated researcher. The delivery was routine – except for the fact that the non-existant researcher worked for the imaginary company she’d made up and the sample case she was carrying contained a change of civilian clothes for herself and Del. She’d swapped her Science section uniform for a Medical section one – which, because of her standing as a keheil, she was actually entitled to wear. She’d put on an Acturian vision aid to disguise her distinctive eyes and wrapped her hair tightly into a severe twist.

“Dr. Maxwell,” she announced, handing her slightly rewritten ID card to the receptionist just inside the lobby of the hospital, trying to sound bored.

If Ruth wasn’t bored, this poor drudge surely was. “Your patient is in room 618, doctor,” the reception answered without quite making eyecontact.

“Thank you.”

All too easy, she decided as she made her way to the lift at the other end of the lobby. When she was a captain… The thought derailed so suddenly, it almost made her stumble. Well, maybe there was still hope. Her thoughts traveled back to that wretched shuttle and the days spent healing Spock of his cordrazine addition… She sighed. Things were at a low point if the best thing she could hope for was that it would turn out that he was possessed by an ancient evil…

Ruth gritted her teeth and once more firmly banished all thoughts of her now-ex-husband from her mind. He’d made his choices. Now she was making hers. If Starfleet did not back her decisions up – that was their loss.

As soon as she stepped out onto the floor where they were keeping Del, she could feel him…. Bits and pieces of the distorted, fractured thing his poor exploded psyche was now…

Her still-tender mind flinched back behind strong shielding.

Would she able to heal this? Steeling herself against the fear of failure knocking against her ribs, she moved toward the guarded security ward at the end of the corridor. Ruth remembered what Jade had said about Del’s being a case that even an ancient, experienced keheil would hesitate to take on. Then again, she knew keheils that wouldn’t have healed a hangnail for Del if they knew it would mean putting them in contact with the raging chaos that reigned inside his head…

“Dr. Maxwell.” She handed her ID chip to the radically less bored-looking hospital security agent on duty outside Del’s room. The waves of psychic distress the Cajun’s mind was putting out was enough even to give even the mind-blind a bad case of the jitters.

After glaring first at her ID then at her face several times without being able to satisfactorily pinpoint what was bothering him about the forged documentation, the security guard gave up and jerked a thumb towards the war room. “Go ahead.”

Far too easy Ruth decided, pushing open the door.

O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O= O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O

Unruly curls clustered around Del’s forehead.

Ruth smiled. Normally he kept his hair as straight as someone with as much natural curl could. However, after lying unconscious in sickbay for several days now, rebellious ringlets had begun to assert themselves like vines curling around a statue in an abandoned garden.

I’m stalling, she thought.

He looked good with curly hair. She didn’t know why he was so insecure about it… Well, to be completely honest – he looked good. Period. Curls. No curls. Probably even bald, he’d be gorgeous…. And his peculiar self-consciousness was not that much of a mystery. Probably just an odd byproduct of his lack of shielding. Telepaths with poor shielding were constantly bombarded with other people’s opinions of their attractiveness or lack thereof. A lot of them developed little quirks about their appearance as result of some unedited opinion they’d overheard from someone’s thoughts.

Dressed in a blue sickbay jumpsuit with curls tumbling around his face, Del looked like a sad, stern, Botticelli angel…. Who was very sick…

Still stalling, she scolded herself, taking a step closer.

Despite the desperateness of the engineer’s situation and despite the fact that her absence would soon be noted on the Enterprise, there was still ample motivation for hesitation. The task in front of Ruth was daunting. Its potential consequences were far-reaching…

She loved him. Of course, she loved him. But he annoyed the hell out of her. What would it be like to be psychically joined to him forever? Because that’s what this healing was almost certain to lead to – a bond as tight and lasting as salish….

A fresh ache stabbed her heart when she momentarily let herself think of the person with whom she had occasionally let herself dream that salish might be a possibility someday…

Ruth shook her head. No point in torturing herself. This was going to be hard enough as is. Her brain was still too tender, her heart still too freshly broken.

Taking in a deep breath, she turned her gaze resolutely back to the Cajun. She did love him…

Sounds like I’m trying to convince myself, she thought sourly.

There was no point in denying that they had never had the happiest, most fun, or stress-free of relationships. The depth of the restructuring that she was going to have to do to his psyche was probably going to change at least some of that. The areas of incompatibility in their telepathic and empathic gifts would be smoothed over in the blending that would be necessary to reintegrate Del’s shattered consciousness. Restructuring would change him. It would change both of them… if it didn’t kill them both, that is. They would become more alike. Of course, there were some of their friends who had blamed their many arguments on the fact that they were too alike…

Ruth rolled her eyes at this notion. They didn’t get along because Del was impossible. Arrogant. Competitive. Insolent. Self-involved. Argumentative. Foul-tempered…

And yet, she did love him. Usually. It had definitely been a deep and profound lust at first sight.

Del himself had accused her of having a purely zoological interest in him. He was such a rare specimen - a Human tel-empath. A creature that was not supposed to exist, a rare precious thing. Like finding a unicorn grazing in the pasture next to your house.

Del had said she was like the lady in the medival tapestry who found a unicorn and made it fall in love with her. La Dame à la licorn. He’d written a beautiful poem about it - "À Mon Seul Désir."

And then the very next day, they’d had a huge fight after she’d caught him using telepathy to trick a bartender into giving him a free drink – thoughtlessly, without a moment of consideration or regret.

When she’d made comparison between the soulful sentiment of his poem and the cold calculation of his actions, he’d frowned and said, “Babe, th' t'ing you gotta remember is this – A unicorn still a motherfuckin' horse. It jus' woke up born wit' a curly horn on its head.”

She’d snorted and replied, “Was that supposed to be profound?”

“No, it were jus' a metaphor,” he’d said, and then a wicked smile had begun to pull at the corner of his mouth. “I be happy to extend upon it, if you’d care t' retire wit' me to the boudoir…”

Ruth made a face at the memory of yet another of their passionate marathon making up sessions. She did love him. Sometimes she didn’t know why, though.

“Okay, mon amor,” she said aloud to the beautiful, infuriating man sleeping on the bed in front of her. “Let’s do this t’ing, babe…”

The flood of incoherency was enough to make her want to race from the small room, but she centered herself and cast her thoughts outward. Before she could even form words, Del's cry of Raw-eth, no no NO! flooded her senses.

I'm here, Del, she soothed, though everything inside her was already weeping hopeless tears. Let me help you.

His mind blared around her, fragments of sound and sight and emotion swirling from his brain to hers like some out-of-tune, out-of-time orchestra of really bad musicians. Outwardly, she stood at the foot of his bed, staring at the statboard that contained his vitals and medical history. He was restrained, and to all appearances unconscious. She could feel the sedatives they had pumped into him and had to fight the almost hysterical laughter. Did they really think their chemicals were going to do anything in a body that was so used to self-medicating? And had dangerously unstable - however dormant - pools of xenoneurophene available to boot?

Xenoneurophene. An idea slithered into her thoughts. If I can get him to concentrate enough to find and access it....


Ruth took a deep breath and focused her mind of the chaotic pieces of Del's thoughts. The rumbling anger was the percussion, fear the twittering woodwinds. The excess of thoughts from outside himself were blaring trumpets and trombones, while his love and hope and the gentle center that was his true self were the soaring, sweet and vibrant, sorrowful and yearning violins, violas and cellos.

All right, she began, and tapped her mental baton, sending out an equivalent in cerulean blue to get Del's attention. Immediately his chaos started to overwhelm her, along with despair and hopeless resignation. There were no words, but she countered them anyway.

And I don't know what I can't do until I can't do it, so shut up and let me!

Once she had his attention (sort of) she was momentarily perplexed. Where to begin? At the beginning, I guess…

The one thing that was keeping Del sane (if one could look into the face of the bubbling swarm of chaos in front of her and call it sanity) was that he had been through this sort of fracturing of his personality before. It was similar to the way he’d begun life. Maybe trusting the wisdom of the one who’d led him out of incoherence before could provide a path this time…

Baby mine, don't you cry, she sang to the cacophony.
Baby mine, dry your eyes.
Rest your head close to my heart,
never to part,
baby of mine.

If she did not have his attention before, this certainly did the trick. The entire fragmented hornet’s nest of an orchestra seemed to pause, take a breath, then switch seats for a better view.

Little one when you play,
don't you mind what they say.
Let those eyes sparkle and shine,
never a tear,
baby of mine.

Ruth had to acknowledge Del’s mother’s untutored genius. Without the benefit of any formal training in healing, she’d hit upon an elegant method for unraveling the knotted skeins of her young son’s mind. The song provided a clear picture of their respective identities. Instead of stepping into his chaos, her song invited him out. His healing came from within rather than being imposed from without.

If they knew sweet little you

Ruth had to suppress the beginnings of a hysterical giggle.

they'd end up loving you too.
All of those people who scold you
what they'd give just for the right to hold you.

The song certainly reflected his mother’s feelings more than hers, but the pathway out of madness was the same. She let her mind extend a careful tendril, inviting him to use it as a base for his reconstruction.

Although the fractured shards of his self were not yet adhering to the proffered branch of her psyche, she could feel the wasp swarm orchestra beginning to harmonize with her song.

Come on, Christmas, she encouraged these cooperative sparks. Grab the feather and fly!

From your head down to your toes,
you're not much, goodness knows.

In the middle of another giggle, Ruth noticed a strong presence was forming. Out of the bits of Del’s memories and wishes, an image of his mother was coalescing.

But you're so precious to me,a blue-tinged mirage of Louisa DelMonde sang in haunting descant.
sweet as can be,
baby of mine.

What is he doing? Ruth wondered. Instead of moving towards her, Del was using her steadying presence to create an illusion of his mother.

Baby mine, don't you cry,

The cerulean ghost-Louisa sang to her son as the shattered bits of him flowed towards her, harmonizing with her sweet song.

Baby mine, dry your eyes.
Rest your head close to my heart,
never to part,
baby of mine.

He’s trying to die, Ruth realized as the scattered thought cloud began to float away from her. That damned Cajun has decided he’s going to try to die rather than let me heal him.

Oh, no you don’t! Indignantly, she reached out with her mind. Instead of one careful tendril, she grabbed his hornet’s nest brain with her whole will.

Music, light and emotion exploded within her like a blue neutronium bomb. She was shattering, detonating, splintering, expanding, twirling into an infinitely bright void. Amidst this sudden plunge into anarchy, a last flash of coherent thought told Ruth that this was the reason Zehara had so wanted her to attempt this impossible healing. In order to save himself, Del – with no training or guidance -- now had to activate his latent potential as a healer. In order to save himself, he now had to figure out a way to save her.

O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O= O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O

The pieces of himself were falling all around the music, like snowflakes - so rare, so beautiful. He'd been told that no two snowflakes were alike, and it made him grin. Yet those so-different flakes piled up into drifts and, like him, took on the shape of whatever they fell upon.

Look, mere, it so pretty, non?

Jus' like you, my baby boy.

It gonna shape into a snow-me, ain't it?

It surely is. Then we gonna freeze it back into th' real you.

Whyfor, mere? You not wanna be wit' me?

O' course I do, my honey lamb. But it not your time.

That what you said th' las' time.

An' it still your love callin' you, non?

It hurts, mere. They done broke me....

Noel Christopher, don' you lie to me now! You done broke your own self, an' you can put yourself back together.

I not know how, mere.

You do, my baby. Jus' make the snow blue.

The music was getting stronger, melodic and full of passion. It stirred his senses, filling him with its desire and power. But there was something wrong. It was growing too powerful. It was no longer under the direction of the conductor. He could see her. It looked like she was miles away, and fear radiated out from her bright figure as she was engulfed in the blizzard of his shattered self.

Raw-eth, NO!

You can do it, baby boy. Blue. Get th' blue.

It took all his mental effort to fight through the storm, seeking the pool of cerulean that lay deep within him. But it was covered in snow, frozen, like some ice-skating pond. If he'd had knees to fall to, he would have. If he'd had fists, he would have pounded them against the surface of the xenoneurophene ice.

It jus' take a warm touch, my angel. Warm like how you love that gal o' yours.

His non-existent tears froze against his unreal face, and he took an imaginary breath, forcing his mind to memories of Ruth.

Tell me, Christmas, can you make real music with that thing?

I haven't been courgat hunting in years.

You're a telepath!

Terrans pronounce it 'rooth'

How can a telepath, an empath do this, you’re not a child, there are other ways to deal with it than goddamned Haven chemicals, …!

They should’ve sent you to S’rel Kahara, or at least contacted a keheil!

The trouble with being a keheil is it doesn’t come with an instruction manual. You’re pretty much on your own, learning what you can or can’t do until something kills you.

I can’t have what I want, Del, but you’re what I need! Maybe only for now, but... believe me, please!

I love you!

It hurts worse to use you, Del. I love you. And you know damn well what you're getting.

My body and mind and heart are mine to give as I choose. But my soul... Spock's forever. Del knows.

My love. My loves. Both of them? Yes. And there was a time when I didn't even believe I could feel this emotion. I wish I never had.

And keheils can't commit suicide. We're supposed to accept all the pain we're capable of causing ourselves, and others, and learn from it.

One look, one smile, any indication of triumph from DelMonde and I'll kill him. Yeah, sure. Fierce this morning, aren't you, Valley? It'd serve you right if he didn't care either. And you can only think that because you know there isn’t a chance in hell of it being true.

Had she left that green-blooded demon for good? Would she at last come to him in joy?

The last thought burned in him. He didn't know where it had come from. It wasn't a memory, that was certain. And it wasn't Ruth's voice. But it was exactly what his frozen heart needed. His non-existent hands began to warm, and he held them out to the pool of blue ice. The unreal snow and frost began to melt and he dipped his fingers into the anything-but-imaginary pool of xenoneurophene. Tendrils climbed up his arms, slithering cerulean snakes melding his snow-self, just as his mama had promised. He was filling up with blue, the music swelling around him, pushing at him, kneeding and shaping him into himself. The blue was a fire all around him, and he cast the flames of his mind out into the blizzard.


For a moment, nothing happened, except for an overwhelming sense of pure golden satisfaction. Then the music came to a final, beautiful chord, the snow melted away under a golden sun, and he was suddenly in a hospital bed, Ruth in his very real arms, weeping tears of exhausted joy.

O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O= O=O=O=O=O=O=O=O

Go to Part Seven

Return to Part Five

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum