"A Fall From Grace" part 1/2

OFF: This here is my challenge post. You asked for a new genre, you got a whole new genre… Good luck to us all. I purposely left it open ended for the sake of ease of continuity for JPs. It's two parts because the character counter is off by a bit and Charles approved it.

ON:

Time: A continuance of “Of Wild Geese and Unicorns”

-----

“Listen…” Vaanaras tried to remove her finger from the Klingon’s grasp, but the action proved fruitless. He was clinging to it like an ape with a banana and wasn’t showing signs of releasing the digit any time soon. That was what worried her most, “It’s just a hangnail. I’m not going to die and we don’t have to get marri-”

Her words died somewhere in her throat, but her eyes widened to the point where they nearly bugged from her skull as the deck plates and walls seemed to shimmy. “Did you feel that?” No answer could come soon enough. Endeavor as a whole shook again, this time in a fashion that reminded her of how Terran sharks bumped the bottom of boats in an attempt to shake its passengers into the water. It was gentle, but sinister all the same and it caused the baby fine hairs on the back of her next to raise in sheer fear.

Avakhon finally let go of her finger, but his face told her she hadn’t been the only one to feel the ship lurch beneath and all around them. He was gentle in the way he let her slide back to the deckplates, regaining her footing and tugging her tunic down all in one quasi-elegant motion. “It goes without saying, but I felt it.”

“I figured.” The Vorta replied, looking around the room for any immediate signs of damage, “No red alert… No…” Again the ship rocked, but the motion was far more violent. All around them Endeavor’s space frame creaked and groaned, and then - like a roller coaster’s train coming to the top of a hill - everything stopped for the briefest of seconds. Time held suspended and Vaanaras desperately looked for proof that it was going to end in their favor…

Then came the drop.

Klaxons finally blared as the Endeavor not only took to bucking like a rodeo bronc, but began to spin and drop nose ‘down’ faster than artificial gravity could keep up with. Like a weed being torn from a garden, Vaanaras felt her feet come out from under her and instinct told her to grab for Avakhon. Her quick decisions spared his head from coming into contact with the ceiling - even if it meant her little arm took the brunt of the force from that brutal collision - only to find them both being slammed to the deck and back to the ceiling over and over again as if they’d been caught in a spin cycle.

Getting up wasn't going to come easy. The ship was in what could only be described as a free fall, her shields taking hit after hit from the Gods only knew what - and that only added to the situation by shoving the ship this way and that, thrashing it as if the proverbial shark had returned and had decided to eat them all alive. All Vaanaras could do, aside from struggle to try and right herself, was pray that someone still had a hand on the helm and was somehow able to perform a miracle as Endeavor was hurled around through space, skittering along like a leaf caught in a hurricane.

And then? Nothingness.

The next thing Vaanaras would remember would be coming to beneath a pile of rubble. Through her barely opened, and blood filled, eyes, she almost swore she saw snow.

And she was right.

A sharp frigid wind howled in short bursts through an otherwise dark forest. It was as if a shiver had settled over an otherwise quiet landscape and with each gust, snow swirled freely, sculpting that landscape. Try as it would, however, the wind's most concentrated efforts were futile to move the wintry white covering over her body and that of the Endeavor which lay as nothing more than smoldering wreckage all across the mountainside. She couldn't have known that, she'd have no recollection of it, and from beyond where she lay mortally wounded and pinned beneath steel and wires, Vaanaras saw nothing beyond the snow and the tall, looming trees casting their shadows upon her motionless figure. She could smell the burning steel and plasma, but she couldn't acknowledge the familiarity or the meaning behind it. Nor could she move towards or away. Time passed, and it wasn't long until the grayed sun began to set and that's when she began to try and move. It was fruitless, brought blood bubbling up her trachea from her pierced lungs, but that movement and noise was enough for them to find her.

Tulde screamed her name and reached for her with his stubby little hoof-finger capped arms while Avakhon hulked pieces of metal debris to and fro in his attempt to free her from her would-be grave. Sparks flew. Fires raged…. And she was cold with shock, well beyond the point of shivering and teeth chattering.

Several days later, after Avakhon quite literally performed a miracle and saved her life through the use of pure, raw, and unadulterated energy he generated from within himself - thanks to the ship’s failing electrical systems that chose to try and electrocute him while he was removing debris from her body - she would come to learn that the ship had flown into a freak plasma storm, become compromised, and later crash landed on an unknown, uncharted planet.

Many had died. She, by all rights, should have been listed among them.

That had been nearly a year ago and their predicament, they’d come to learn using what little equipment they had, was far worse. They’d slipped through a rip in space and time, an anomaly not unlike a wormhole, but more or less a window into a whole new universe… Things that Hawkins had long ago theorized and they’d only just begun to grasp with the revelation of a ‘mirror’ universe… But now it seemed that the hypothesis of there being hundreds upon thousands of them was more of a reality than ever before and the only way to get home to theirs was to play a proverbial game of thrones.

----
One Year Later…
---

It was utterly preposterous, really. Lost in her own woods and knowing that morning was rapidly giving way to noon and the lunch hour would certainly have the imps tattle on her absence within the palace walls. It would only be a matter of time before Nablesse’s worry would see to Avakhon, Tulde, and Aji heading out with a search party while Bolak continued to preoccupy the King on his throne with tricks and libations. And for what? Because of a damned doe in the damned forest of endless trees and hills and moss. Even on the best of days it happily played tricks on the mind of the weak, leading them further into its often treacherous grasp, but never the young Vorta. Not until that misty late autumn morning… And in dragon territory, no less.

Sighing heavily, in a thick mix of exasperation and budding anger, Vaanaras shook her head, her ears drooping in sheer frustration. The horse beneath nickered softly as his master tucked her frigid digits deep beneath the warmth of his mane and rested them against his neck. “Sorry, Phoebus.” She soothed, stroking her fingers along the expanse of the animal’s silken hide, “The needs of the many, and all that.” She explained with a chuckle, though her brain whirled in an attempt to find a solution to the ridiculous conundrum she’d put them in without having them ravaged or savaged as some giant winged lizard’s dinner.

It was as if the forest had chosen to take mercy on the Vorta and her horse, forgiving her for not taking a single piece of technology with her – no combadge, no tricorder, nothing any more modern than the clothes on her back and the tack that adorned Phoebus’s body – when it chose to allow for a break in the mist long enough, and large enough, for the sun to illuminate the northern backs of the trees and boulders. The bright green of moss and brilliant reds of fungi running along the northern expanse of the trunks dawned within Vaanara’s eyes, finally clicking and jarring memory. It was elementary as anything, basic science that allowed for her to remember geography! The opposite of north was south and to the south was the sea, a sea that rolled steadily forth until it broke and faltered at the shores of Storm’s End – home.

But home, of course, meant him… The Broken King who would make her Queen. The King that had accepted the dying crew simply because he was convinced by his soothsayers that she was the second coming of some sort of warrior Goddess, sent from the stars - her exotic eyes, ears, and coloring being levied as evidence - and that by wedding her he’d save them all from the dragons and those that had employed them in the wake of the murder of their ‘mother’. The charade had initially only been intended to keep for just long enough until they could find a way off the planet - but that was proving to be far more difficult than initially anticipated. Days turned to weeks, turned to months, turned to one year that very morning. The crash site had become overgrown with lush foliage to the point where Vaanaras could barely recognize it any longer, and it didn’t help that the ship had burned for nearly a week and had left little to nothing for them to salvage.

“I’m a moron, Phoebus. A serious moron. An entire group of experts can’t get us off this planet, but hey… A Vorta and a horse should be able to figure it out, right?” She sighed, taking up her reins. The horse gave no response beyond a quick toss of his head and prick of his ears, ever eager to escape the cold and replace it with the warmth of his stable. A quick squeeze of her legs and kiss of her lips was all it took for Vaanaras to set the animal into motion, turning to cross the creek and take up a steady, ground covering lope in the direction of the south and the roar of the ocean’s majesty.

It would be well into the noon hour before they reached the water, but the elation she felt when finally able to orient herself within her surroundings made the delay completely worthwhile.

Even for the people of Westeros, the sea had always been a mystery. Beneath the silver foam of her waves lay fathoms far more foreign than even the furthest reaches of space. Unlike the heavens, where stars claimed the night’s blue-black expanse, there was nothing to signal any way point or any hope of life – well concealing the wonders that thrived beneath the desert-like expanse of its barren surface. Since time itself began, brave men had tried to conquer her only to falter and pay with their lives – a bitter price to pay for the cocky way they’d dared to take such a chance and engage in such folly – and to be laughed at by the bitter sea birds sailing serenely by. It was hard to imagine the struggles and the losses witnessed by the winged creatures as they played the role of cackling sentinels, watching with glittering eyes as mortal men took their last desperate breath before sinking beneath the undulating waves - allegedly in the arms of savage sirens.

But, on that particular enchanted day, exactly a year from the Endeavor’s own violent demise, the water was calm and shone like a bed of diamonds beneath the bright beauty of the sun.

The view from the top of her living perch, high astride the white walled bluffs northwest of the royal city, afforded Vaanaras a chance to see the finer details of a world seldom truly studied by people more interested in what transpired within the stars above, than the fathoms below. She watched with a smile as a pod of dolphins frolicked along the surf line below. Even if they had learned to appreciate and take advantage of the momentary quiet of the sea – it wouldn’t be long before winter’s icy grip once again sent the ever fickle Namaka, the revered Goddess of the ocean, into another violent fit. The flick of Phoebus’ ears, however, told her that, not unlike the way the coming winter would spoil the sea’s momentary slumber, the newfound serenity of her stolen morning was about to come to an end.

Swallowing the knot gathering in her throat, the Vorta once more gathered her reins and stroked along Phoebus’ speckled neck at the point where it met his shoulders. “Am I that easy to track?” Vaanaras asked, her eyes still following the dolphins as they continued to cavort and play, blissfully unaware of her presence above. She wondered then if the eyes resting upon her own back had been the true source of the day’s conflict, if the doe had only become a scapegoat wrongly accused of someone else’s transgressions.

“Is that a rhetorical question or are you actually expecting an answer?” Tolled the oink-like chuckling of a good natured response, one that only received a heavy snort from the Vorta in retort. Just a year ago, Tulde had been her right hand man and partner in solving crime. Now, his time belonged more to Avakhon. Not that the Tellarite was complaining - Avakhon had once been one of the greatest minds Starfleet had ever had the privilege of knowing, let alone employing. Bred of the best the universe had to offer, the man had proven himself time and time again as being a God among men. Now his days were spent readying an army, destroying the scaled beasts that marauded the skies, and kept a young would-be Queen safe and in check.

None of this would work if Vaanaras chose to rebel and pull the plug on their only chance at finding a way home, but it was made more complicated by the fact that the Vorta possessed a wild heart and a stubborn streak that had proven itself impossible to correct, break, or extinguish even when the combination threatened to end her very life on more than one occasion. “You should be paying better attention to your surroundings, Vaanaras.” He scolded half-heartedly, reaching to pat his own horse’s neck.

It really had been a wonder that the Vorta hadn’t noticed the approaching footfalls of an animal as wide as the portly pony mare. After all, she was about as stealthy and subtle as a sledge hammer being swung against a brick wall in the middle of Sunday morning church - a perfect match for her rider, if ever there was one.

“You could have killed me. I know.” The Vorta’s eyes rolled and her head shook, “Phoebus is getting lazy.” She explained with a chuckle and another loving stroke to the loyal horse’s neck. The creature’s tail wrung in mild annoyance as he sighed a heavy rolling sigh in response, as if shirking the excuse and sending responsibility sailing straight back onto his rider’s shoulders – an act that made the woman frown.

Tulde mimicked the animal’s admonishment, dropping his mare’s reins to settle in for the verbal jousting he knew was about to transpire. It never failed; the Vorta was cocksure as anything, witty, and entirely way too devil-may-care, but he loved her. “He’s right you know.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. You’re an idiot for thinking the horse is going to do your job for you. Says he doesn’t get paid enough to haul your pompous ass around and watch out for shit looking to kill you.” He beamed wickedly.

“You sure you aren’t just projecting your own thoughts onto poor old Phoebus?” Vaanaras tutted and baby talked, reaching to ruffle the tuft of silvered mane just behind the stallion’s side-swept ears.

The retort garnered a small grunt and chortle from the man perched several strides behind and to the left of him. “Pretty sure. Just look at him,” Tulde gestured to the Appaloosa with a bored roll of his wrist, “Poor bastard is completely miserable having to deal with you on a daily basis. I think he’s ready to go on strike and if he has to come face to face with a dragon because of you, my money is on the horse making it home and you becoming food.”

The Princess chuckled and tossed her head back to glance over her shoulder at the piggy little man, “You’re a dick, Tulde.”

“Love you too, kid.” The Tellarite smiled warmly. In spite of the shortcomings that toiled within the years of youth, the Vorta had more than earned her spot within the man’s heart. In truth, Vaanaras was the closest thing to family he’d ever had. “C’mon. Let’s get you home before the Captain loses the plot. She grows more worried by the day that you’re going to defect from the plan.”

“Yeah yeah.” Vaanaras sighed heavily and muttered something to Phoebus that Tulde couldn’t quite catch and decided to let slide for the sake of brevity and getting the former Security officer back to her place beside the King. It pained him to do so, but orders were orders and they were days away from a breakthrough that would - with luck- save them all and bring them back to the stars.

It was a war that, for once, that even Avakhon wasn’t certain could be won.

----
continued in part 2.

< Prev : Westeros Next > : "A Fall From Grace" part 2/2