Posted: January 8, 2013 in Short Stories - for free!

(This is an award winning fan fiction short story, based in the Star Trek Universe. But you need no Star Trek background in order to enjoy it)

Beth loved it when she managed to make Dr. Barney Bridgewater laugh. “No you wouldn’t.” he chuckled, while casting hungry glances at the waiter with his icy blues. The lounge was packed and they had waited some time for their food now. “Sure.” she said a bit louder, so that he could hear her tiny voice above the crowd. “Ferengi are allergic to that alloy. Only one touch and the allergic reaction would render them unconscious.”

Barney shook his head while the waiter finally brought their food. “I’d still go for the ultra-high tone. It hurts their ears and they wouldn’t be able to do anything anymore. Your solution could actually kill them, depending on how strong the allergic reaction would be.” he said, and started to dig into his food with a vengance.

Oh yes, Ensign Barney was known for that, and his slightly rounded belly was a testament to his big appetite. Beth still liked him. A lot. He was the only officer on board who didn’t make her feel insignificant. No, that wasn’t fair. In her conversations with the Counselor, they had worked out
that this was only her perception. She wasn’t an insignificant Science Ensign who only took up space on the USS Genesis. Was she?

“Beth. Beth, focus!” Barney said kindly in between bites. “Your food awaits you, and it’s your turn now.”

She gladly let go of the gloomy thoughts and started to cut a bite from her steak, thinking. After her second bite she said “Ok, got it. How would you defend against Romulans.” she asked him and brushed a strand of her flimsy blond hair out of her face, so she wouldn’t accidentially eat it
on top of her steak. He smiled whilst chewing.

“Oooohhh, that’s too easy. I’d inject one with the Romulan virintix virus. Spreads through touch and within 3 hours they would have one coughing fit after the other, so fierce that they wouldn’t be able to aim a phaser.” he said proudly, shoving another fork heaped with food into his mouth. He tried to grin, but he really couldn’t, stuffed as he was.

Beth rolled her mouse grey eyes. “That’s a very flawed plan Barney. For one thing, Romulans don’t touch each other overly much. Second, show me how you would get a needle even close to a Romulan, and third,  within those three hours they can kill all the crew, have something to eat
and take a nap.” she shook her head while taking another bite.

“No, again the Science solution is much more suitable. Flood the deck they are on with suorin gas. A 15% mix into our air is sufficient, and it affects only Romulans and Vulcans. And we don’t have a full blood Vulcan on board.” she finished, excited about the fact that she beat him. Didn’t happen all that often in their sci vs med verbal sparring games. He was much smarter than her.

Barney stopped eating and stared at her. That made her rather uncomfortable, his eyes were…  well, they were really handsome.
“Beth, I had no idea you were so fierce. Again, that will kill all Romulans within seconds, first it will clog up their breathing and paralize their muscles, then they will slowly suffocate under great pain and die.”

Beth squirmed under his stare. “Well, yes, but I couldn’t think of another science solution. And it’s not like I would ever do such a horrible thing in reality, it’s just a game.” she said lamely.
He wanted to say something else, when suddenly the lunch crowd in the lounge hushed. Beth turned around and saw Captain Patricia Lewis and the first officer Lt. Cmdr. King stride towards their table.

Beth practically shrunk in on herself, trying very hard not to get noticed and wanting to disappear entirely. But they only walked by, towards a free table, immersed in a conversation. And when they passed, Barney and her could hear a bit of it.

“It will be hard to get each one on that Training Patricia, we have a lot of junior officers on board.” Lt. Cmdr. King said in his deep deep voice.
“Well I’m sure you find a way to shift around the departmental plans so that it’ll work. I want every junior officer in that training, it’s important, also for the Ensigns. I’m sure if you talk to….” and then Captain Lewis was out of earshot again.
Beth relaxed and turned around to see Barney grinning wildly at her. “See? They do give a damn about us.” Beth shrugged. She didn’t want to get into that argument again with him. Ensigns were only Ensigns, some of them for a loooong time, like her.

A long while later they had finished their meal and the lounge had emptied out. She sighed happily. “That was nice. When does your next shift start? 0100 in the night again?” He opened his mouth to answer her, when his com badge went off.

=^= Dr. Brigewater, this is nurse Lily. The brige has called for emergency medical aid, and you are the only Doctor available currently. =^= her voice was shaky.

Barney’s eyes went wide as saucers. =^= On my way Lily. =^= he said and stormed off, throwing over his chair.

“Barney…” Beth called, but he was already out of the door. Her eyes fell on his personal med kit that stood below the table and her shoulders dropped.

“Oh no…” she said to herself. “…he’s forcing me to go to the bridge!”
She knew it had not been intentional. Barney was a bit scatterbrained at times, like many super smart people. She took the med kit and started running reluctantly, while mentally flinging all the swear words at Barney that she could think of. Chances were high, that by the time she got there, he was already finished.

She knew he carried a dermal regenerator with him at all times, just like she did her environmental remote control. After all she was the ‘weather girl’ as other Ensigns called her behind her back, just because her main task was to tend the ship’s environmental controls. She would stand there on the bridge with his med kit and look like an idiot. Well, at least she had gotten used to that over the years.

Shortly before the turbolift doors opened to reveal the bridge, she forced a smile onto her face. A moderate one, not too much, not too few, and she straigthened up her tiny frame, trying to look like Captain Lewis had done earlier in the lounge. That made her smile for real. Whom was she
kidding! The mere thought was plainly absurd.

The turbolift doors opened and she marched onto the bridge  purposefully, then she stopped short and her jaw dropped in stark horror.

Her brain did the registering of the scene in front of her on its own volition while she was still in shock, her heart pumping like it intended to jump out of her mouth any second now.
The Chief of Security was lying closest to her, behind the tactical station, bleeding out of his half open mouth. He didn’t move, his eyes were closed, but his chest was moving. Next to him stood a Romulan, pointing a disruptor at him.

In front of the Captain’s chair lay the Chief Engineer, also unconscious, despite him being an Android. A fibre cable stuck out of a panel of his neck and ended in a blinking, box-like device that another Romulan was holding.

The Captain crouched in her chair, bent over, clutching her belly and Barney was kneeling in front of her, apparently treating her with his dermal regenerator. Beth couldn’t see the Captain’s face, but in Barney’s face she saw cold fear. Two other Romulans were pointing their disruptors at the Captain and Barney.

And finally, Lt. Cmdr. King was there, in front of the view screen, kneeling on the floor. He had one blood soaked hand on his left shoulder, where a phaser blast had burnt away his uniform and most of his skin. His other hand was behind his head, because two more Romulans were
standing behind him, their phasers trimmed on his head. It was eerily silent, except for the Captain’s laboured breathing.
And the view screen… showed a Romulan ship. But something was wrong about those Romulans. They didn’t wear Romulan uniforms…

All Romulans looked up at her, as did Barney and the First Officer. But the Romulans lost interests just as quickly when they saw her, only the one closest to her kept an eye on her. Which was just as well, because she had been about to faint. Everything inside her told her to turn around and run, run, run, when Barney’s voice cut through her terror.

“Beth, thank god. I need that med kit now.” he said in a thight voice she had never heard before.
She froze, looking at the Romulan next to her… and at his disruptor. Such a horrible, horrible weapon. She tried to move, but couldn’t. Not one muscle in her body reacted to her mental command to start walking.

The Romulan looked her up and down shortly, but his disruptor stayed trimmed on the Chief. Then he gave her an almost bored nod and looked at the unconscious Chief again. And amazingly, that stung her. So the unconscious Security Chief was more threatening than her? Go figure. Funnily, the realisation that they saw her as the insignigicant no threat Ensign she was, gave her command again over her muscles and she slowly, slowly walked down to Barney and the Captain.

Since she would pass the First Officer on her long, long way down, she looked at him, because he was who he was, he was so strong, such a great fighter and protector… at least that’s how she had always seen him. But he would have no chance to fight.
The two Romuans pointing their phasers at the back of his head didn’t even blink while watching his every move. And still… still he looked at her with his green eyes that didn’t even hint at the fact that the burnt tissue of his shoulder had to hurt him the hell of a lot. No, he didn’t flinch.
He… he gave her a short, encouraging smile, as if he knew that secretly, she had been hoping for just that.

And in that second he wasn’t Lt. Cmdr. Julien King, First Officer of the USS Genesis anymore. He was just another Starfleet Officer… like her, Beth realised. Trapped in a life-threatening situation.

She turned towards the Captain and Barney. Now that she stood in front of them, she could see Captain Lewis’ wound. It was huge, and deep, and Captain Lewis covered it with her bloodied hands, not because it hurt so much, although it surely did, but because she wanted everything
that belonged inside her stomac to stay where it was supposed to be.

Beth dropped to her knees next to Barney and in front of the Captain, partly to give him his med kit, and partly because her knees just gave out at the sight.

Behind her a short dialogue ensued between two Romulans, but she didn’t hear the words. She couldn’t look away from the horrible wound and the profusely sweating Barney, who tried frantically to mend it. But he wouldn’t succeed, she realised. And that knowledge stood in his
eyes as clear as his desperation. Wounds like this had to be treated under a special biobed within minutes after the injury.

The Captain would die, and maybe also the Chief of Security. And
maybe…. maybe all of them. She clenched her jaws shut to swallow down the scream that had built up in her throat. This couldn’t be happening. But it had to be reality, because even her wildest phantasy couldn’t produce a nightmare like this.

Slowly, very slowly she ripped her eyes from the wound and looked around. Lt. Cmdr. King was looking at one of his guards with loathing in his eyes and nobody, absolutely nobody payed any attention to her.
The two Romulans guarding the Captain monitored Barney’s every move silently, but they stood to the far side of the Captain. She gulped and looked again at the First Officer.
Just another Starfleet Officer…like her!

She knew that one wrong move would mean that her parents never even got any remains of her to bury. Her hands were shaking badly as she slowly, slowly pulled the environmental remote control out of her pocket while slumping a bit forward in her kneeling position in front of the
Captain, whose body shielded the view of the two Romulan guards. However Captain Lewis was too much in pain to notice what Beth did.

In her head she heard her own voice as she slowly pressed the buttons, the device partly covered between her thighs ‘….and it’s not like I would ever do such a horrible thing in reality….’
Now, what seemed like a lifetime later, those words seemed hollow. Meaningless. Insignificant against the greater truth that she realised in its entirety just only now. A truth that gave her the strength she needed.

As she pressed the final button, she knew that this simple act would change her forever. And she knew she was not insignifcant. She was, after all, a Starfleet Officer, and it didn’t matter a bit how many pips* adorned her collar.

The suorin gas didn’t have a particular smell. But she knew the moment when it streamed in, because all the Romulans went stiff, their eyes bulging out of the sockets. They dropped their weapons and grabbed their throats, already in the process of suffocating. Their mouths stood
open, but no sound came out and now the terror she had felt was in their eyes.

She stood up slowly, while Lt. Cmdr. King darted from one to the next, picking up their weapons and calling Security. One Romulan after the other started to crumble, dead. And to her own surprise she didn’t feel remorse.

Shortly before Dr. Bridgewater had him, Captain Lewis and the
Chief of Security beamed directly to sickbay, he gave her a short look that was full of amazement and admiration. He knew.

Well, she thought, while slowly walking to the science station in order to inform her department about the reason for her actions, that was a victory in their little verbal sparring game that they wouldn’t forget easily.

~ The end ~

(Winner of the 2012 Short Story Contest of – the best Star Trek online roleplaying game on the net!)

PS: Yes, I’m a nerd. There.

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