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Stardate: 1610.30 [30 October, 2016]
Into the Lion's Den
(“The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.”)
- Charles Baudelaire [Paris Spleen]
It had been a surprise the moment he felt the pull of the transporter, and he was in the middle of asking what was happening when he had re-materialized. In Engineering. Of all places. He had to take a moment to look around. It was his first time in that part of the ship, and the first thing he noticed was that everything was just a little different. The air pulsated and hummed. Gravity was a smidge stronger. And, most importantly, the people were crazier as frak. The sound of everyone’s souls overwhelmed his senses and he winced as he was bombarded with the noise.
“What the hell just happened?”
His eyes were naturally drawn to the green skinned woman in the room. The murmurs of souls were nothing like the eeriness that surrounded her. It was enough to distract him from the impending headache. Erik’s brow rose when he caught the image of her soul, a slow loris sitting on a large boulder in the center of a seemingly slow-moving river. The primate with gigantic innocent looking eyes and small furry body was the definition of cute. But, Erik knew a thing or two about the once endangered cutest mammal on Earth. The frakker was one of the most poisonous. If you pissed it off enough, then the slow loris’ pleading look, complete with it’s Disney-esque round eyes, would be the last thing you’d ever see. And that slow moving river? It reminded him of the River Wharfe in Yorkshire. All sorts of pretty for picnics and a quaint little walk through the woods, but it was a stretch of water that was believed to be the most dangerous on Earth. It hid a combination of fast currents and underwater rocks that claimed the lives of thousands over the centuries.
The woman was a frakking psychopath disguised in unicorns and rainbows. He’d have to watch her.
Erik was about to dive deep into her subconscious when a soul caught his attention. He searched the crowd for it. Engineers and Bridge officers mingled in a sea of gold and red. There was a divot in the crowd, and he soon spotted the short woman near the warp core. She had been hugging the Chief seconds after the Bridge crew had been transported into Engineering. Now, she was talking to the Commodore and the Commander while writing equations on the console surface with a white marker. What a frakking weirdo. But the Counselor was starting to realize that she was as weird as they came.
No. The soul wasn’t her’s. She still had that damn symphony. There was a soft melodic undertone of wind instruments under the heavy percussion of a march. It was clear that the woman was in her element, and she was animated as he’d ever seen any human. Logos was busy with facts and equations, and he could see the filing cabinets opening in that quarantined section of her soul. He denied himself the peace of slipping into Logos just to drown out the souls around him. There were just too damn many, and he was about to start barking out insults at the next person that threatened to enter his personal bubble.
He still had to find the heaviness in the room, though, and the Draconian stayed rooted in place. The soul had been darker than he’d ever seen. An empty dry well where you looking up from the very bottom instead of from the top down. The stone walls were scratched to hell, with nails and dried blood caking the surface. Dark purple eyes searched the crowd until they settled on the third level of Engineering.
An almost sickly thin man leaned over the railing and stared down onto the second level of the department. He ran his fingers through his dark hair and his brown eyes zeroed in on the short Engineer.
Erik didn’t like the look in the man’s eyes. He especially didn’t like how the man’s tongue darted out to lick his lips as images of Marielle flashed through his head. Demented and perverted didn’t even come close to describing the vile things he was thinking, and Erik had a fierce desire to beat the living daylights out of him. The Draconian focused his eyes on the man and dug deeper into his subconscious. Erik saw it from his eyes. Of the predatory style stalking and watching since the first day she stepped foot into Engineering. Of him trapping the Engineer in the deflector array room when she had opened the door. Of him grabbing her wrist and of how she had gotten away.
The Counselor growled menacingly as he stared at the man. He was a right old crotchety guy. Hell, he was proud of the asshole reputation that followed him. And, he had done some evil things in his life. Some people had been snuffed from existence by his hand, and he had no qualms about manipulating people. He was all too familiar with darkness and its allure. But, Erik had rules even when he was at his worse, and he took special care to “take care” of people who violated those rules. Violations of any kind against another being, especially against women and children? Yeah... He enjoyed teaching those frakkers the meaning of real terror.
Erik was about ready to storm up there and dangle the deranged piss stain over the railing when something… no, someone… collided with him.
“Oh!” came the soft squeak. “I’m sorry! I wasn’t look-”
“Watch it, you tosspot!” he barked out. Erik looked down. The scathing insult he prepared for the idiot died instantly. He stared down into vibrant green eyes and inhaled the sweet floral fragrance of her. Seriously, what the hell was wrong with him? He shook his head and shoved his hands deep into his lab coat pockets. He growled at her, but there was no real depth to the sound. “Tch. Whatever. Just move.”
She had been on her way to the deflector array room to calibrate the array. She had a theory about their current predicament, but she needed to run the numbers before presenting it to the Commodore. Her mind was a flurry of statistics and algorithms that she had failed to notice she was running - quite literally - straight into someone. She told herself that it didn’t help that Engineering was filled to the brim with people, but Marielle knew better. She was about to offer the victim of her run-in a sheepish grin, but his response had her frowning instead. “Uh, okay?” she offered with apparent confusion at his hostile reaction. It had been an honest mistake. Marielle stepped around him. “Well, um. Sorry. It was my fault. Sorry.”
Erik rolled his eyes in disapproval. Where was the firecracker of a woman he had met in the holodeck? She was nothing like the spunky character he had first met. “You always such a pushover, Pipsqueak?” The Draconian turned as she tried to move around him. His breath caught in his throat when her eyes lifted to meet his. Damn.
Marielle’s temper flared at his rudeness, but she pushed back against her desire to snap at him. They were in the middle of Engineering, and all she wanted to do was avoid having the crew notice her again. She just wanted to blend into the background. A long and quiet exhalation pushed through her nostrils as she tried to calm herself down. “No,” she replied slowly, elongating the vowel. “It’s just customary to apologize when bumping into someone. Don’t you know it’s only polite to accept it?”
“Are you always the first to cave for the sake of polite society, Gelfling?”
“Are you such a brute that you’d purposely go against decorum?!”
“Why do you care if someone doesn’t adhere to it, Polly Pocket?”
It was hard to contain her temper as he used the nicknames to describe her height - albeit she was a bit impressed that he had knowledge of such ancient things. She stared at him, her mouth dropping slightly as she was about to reply with a question of her own when the whole exchange struck a chord of familiarity. There was something in how he had replied with questions that tugged at her memory. Her head tilted to the side as she looked at him - really looked at him. The sound of his voice - the baritone, almost gravelly quality to his tone - and the subtle hint of campfire that surrounded him. It all seemed so vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t place it. She searched her memory as she examined his face, bright green eyes settling on the scar over his eye. The combination of his stunning purple irises and the thin line that ran over the eye had her eyes widening. She stepped back and pointed at him. “You!”
Erik froze. “Frak,” he cursed under his breath. He turned around quickly. He needed to get out of there real quick.
“YOU!” The word was seething with a mixture of emotions - excitement, confusion, and anger all rolled into one exclamation. Marielle didn’t even care that it had pulled at the attention of those that surrounded them.
The Counselor slapped his hand over his face, and the limb moved over it until it dropped to his side.
“You! I- You’re not supposed to be real!” she told him incredulously, stepping around him to block his path.
“Let’s get this over with Smurfette,” he rolled his eyes and looked unaffected by her ravings.
She fumed, her face turning bright red as she stared up at him. It was hard to feel intimidating when she was just called an ancient tiny blue cartoon character and when he so easily towered over her. She was about to start screaming when she realized that people were staring. Her jaw clenched and she hissed out as softly as possible, “You’re not a program. You’re real, which means you walked into my holodeck program without my permission!”
“Yeah. What of it?”
Her teeth ground together. “Who the hell are you?”
Marielle paused. She had asked a hypothetical question, and he had answered with an actual answer. It threw her off for a second. “What?” She blinked and stared at him. “Who?”
“I’m the new Ship’s Counselor, Peanut.”
Marielle snapped at him, “Stop with the nicknames!” Her pointer finger moved up and pressed deep into his sternum as she stepped forward and closed the distance between them. “My name,” she spoke slowly, “is Mariëlle Antoinette Deniaud. Not. Pipsqueak. Not Polly Pocket. Not Oompa Loompa. Mah-ree-elle.”
He watched her mouth move to sound out her name. His eyes moved down to look at the finger that pressed into his chest. He hated it when people touched him, but he didn’t say anything to her. “Oh that’s a good one. Thanks for the idea, Lilliputian.” When the symphony of her soul crescendoed into a powerful monophonic swell, he grinned. The sharp points of his canines glinted in the light. Erik decided that he preferred that melody over the muted undertones of sadness that normally played in her soul.
“I should report you to Starfleet’s Medical Board,” she spat at him. “What you did was a complete breach of ethics!”
Erik shrugged. “You could, but it’s not like they can do anything. I ain’t Starfleet.”
It was in that moment she realized he wasn’t wearing a Starfleet uniform. She seethed but said nothing. Her hand dropped and her hands balled into fists. “I don’t have time for this,” she grumbled. “I’ve got a ship to save, and I can’t waste my time on jerks. Stay away out of the way, and stay away from me.”
“Can’t do that, Short Stack.”
“Don’t call me that, and why the hell not?”
“Because you’re clearly in need of professional help. Consider your voluntary evaluation mandatory.”
Marielle’s mouth opened and closed as she gaped at him. “You know what? Go make yourself useful or go sit in a corner. I’ve got work to do,” she walked past him and made her way towards the deflector array room.
“Wait,” Erik turned and watched as she turned around to look at him. “Who’s the guy up there?” His head jerked towards the man on the third level of Engineering. The one who had been leaning over the railing just staring at her and was now staring down at a padd as he was talking to someone else. He listened as the orchestral piece of her soul flattened and descended into a hetrophonic shamble of chords and notes. Instruments sounded like they had been dropped.
The colour drained from her face as Marielle stared at Fisher. The memory of her dream encounter replayed vividly in her mind and her eyes moved back to Erik as she tried look as nonchalant as possible. It had not been real. It had not been real. The mantra played itself over and over in her mind. “Fisher.” At that, she spun on the balls of her feet and made an even hastier retreat.
“Fisher,” he muttered to himself. Erik’s eyes zeroed in on the man.
Copyright 2016. All works involving Mariëlle A. Deniaud and Erik Vaeros, including character biographies and published stories, are the property of the United Space Federation and its author. It cannot be reproduced, imitated, and copied without written permission from the authors. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction using aspects of the Star Trek universe as created and copyrighted/trademarked by Gene Roddenberry, Paramount, and their affiliates.