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[AU] Just A Little Bit Longer

Posted on Tue Aug 14th, 2018 @ 5:11am by Captain Nycolas Temple & Lieutenant Cailus Griffin & Lieutenant Kalin 'Shae' Brennan-Griffin PhD
Edited on on Tue Aug 14th, 2018 @ 5:28am

Mission: Divided We Fall
Location: Deck 2 - Conference Room
Timeline: After "Jumping to Conclusions"

The fabric canvas of the portable stretcher felt oddly soft against the face of Nycolas Temple as his head rested against it. His eyes were closed and he was only faintly aware of his surroundings; though he felt a tingling sensation through his stomach and a nagging feeling that he should be getting up. He figured he'd be woken by his alarm soon enough, then he would have to get dressed, feed Katrine, and start his day. Yes, that was it; he was just catching a few more minutes of sleep before his day began. He couldn't figure out why he was moving, slightly jostling left and right, though that was a thought for another time. For now, just a little more sleep would do...

As the group carried the stretcher into the makeshift sickbay of the Conference Room, the Captain was sedated but still in critical condition. Once he was settled onto the table, Louis went to work inspecting the wound. The Nurse's face was ashen but focused; he knew he was performing a triage on the Commanding Officer of this ship, and as much as he tried to remain professional, the emotional weight was evident across the young officer's facial expression.

"High intensity plasma burn." He murmured, more to himself. "Internal bleeding likely, radiation of organs. Body temp..." He checked his medical tricorder and frowned. "Spiking wildly. Blood pressure falling."

Louis bit his lip and paused over Nyx's torso for a moment, his eyes closed and he shook his head. "If I had a damn bio-bed I could incubate him at least, but I've got nothing that can fix this." He opened his eyes and stared at Griffin and Brennan with a sad little frown. "I think... I can make him comfortable... until... "

Shae had been scanning the humans to find a viable match for Nyx when she heard those words; she knew she had offered herself as a donor, but finding another human who could donate for a transfusion would be ideal. "No..." Shae said softly, refusing to believe what she'd heard. Her hands dropped to her sides and the tricorder nearly slipped from her fingers. "No, you can't be giving up on him! Do something!" Shae insisted more firmly.

“Shae,” Cailus said firmly, his hand on her shoulder as he looked dispassionately down at the captain, then at Lewis. Cailus’ eyes were cold, but also powerfully demanding. “What do you need to save him?” he asked with steely urgence. “To stop the internal bleeding, get his organs functioning? What do you need?”

“He would need microsurgery to stop the bleeding, which might be possible with the tools I have. However, he’d then need a full transplant of several digestive organs.” The nurse replied, looking at his tricorder again. “But without access to Sickbay, I can’t replicate new ones or even artificial devices that could keep his body functioning. Even if I could, this environment is not sterile enough to perform such extensive surgeries without high risk of infection. And, right now it’s only a matter of time before the toxins building in his blood reach his heart and he goes into shock.” He took a very long breath. “I’m sorry but the Captain’s condition is incompatible with sustaining life.”

"This can't be happening," Shae said, to no one in particular. She wasn't in denial so much as disbelief; why now? Since the garden had been revealed, the crew's quality of life had been improving, so why now did this Splinter group feel the need to act out in this way?! Or had it simply been the actions of one individual? "And you're sure, absolutely sure that there's nothing you can do?" she asked the nurse. Now there was the denial, but even she knew the truth; as a Scientist, she knew there was no way to successfully repair all the damage Louis had described, not here. "Is there at least something we can do to relieve his pain, maybe make his final moments more bearable?"

The diagnosis had been given, the professional tone taking over in the nurse’s voice. Louis leaned over and opened up his medical kit. In a separate pocket was a hypospray with a red band around the handle, and two small vials of liquid inserts. “This will deliver a combination of metoprolol and tubocurarine. It will slow the Captain’s heart and block all nerve pulses from the neck down. He might regain consciousness but he won’t be able to feel anything, and then he’ll simply... fall asleep.”

And there it was: death was the only solution. Shae closed her eyes with a sigh, and a single tear slid down her cheek. "You said he may regain consciousness?" she asked. This mean that they may be able to get a few final words from Nyx, maybe even something to take back to Emilie if they ever got out of here... Shae looked up at Cailus. "We shouldn't let him suffer."

Cailus was silent for a long moment, looking down at the captain with an unreadable look, his eyes undecipherable. Without his eyes leaving Nyx’s body, his hand dropped from Shae’s shoulder, taking her hand.

“Thank you, Mister Lewis,” he said quietly. “Please administer the hypospray. If you have other duties to tend to, Shae and I can remain to ensure that the captain’s passing is peaceful. I shall send for you if you are needed.”

Louis nodded glumly; his fingers shook a little as he loaded up the device and approached the Captain again. It was one thing to give the prognosis and the solution, it was another to actually administer it himself. There was a 99.99% chance that Temple was going to die in the next few hours at the very most; that 0.01% coming from the possibility that they were suddenly rescued in the next five minutes and transferred to a proper medical facility that could perform the necessary procedures. But once delivered, the concoction of drugs would signal to the Captain's body to give up fighting, to ease peacefully into sleep, to irreversibly erase that minuscule possibility of survival. After over a year trapped in the Bubble, there would be no last-minute rescue for Nyx. Death was the only solution.

"I'm so sorry." The Nurse whispered as he held the device against Temple's neck and delivered the dosage. The hypospray gave a slight hiss as the drugs entered into the bloodstream and started to have their effect. There was a visible 'sigh' of the Captain's body, as if all tension was being released, and he started to relax into what was happening.

Louis turned away and started packing away his belongings, dumping the blood-soaked padding into a disposal bag and preparing to leave the room so the Captain's friends could say their goodbyes. While his back was turned, Nyx must have regained consciousness as Louis clearly heard the man say, 'I need to speak with them' in a calm and clear voice.

"Of course, Captain Temple." Louis replied. However, as he turned back around, he noticed that Nyx's eyes and mouth were still closed and he remained in the same unconscious state that he had been in before. He blinked as he looked to Griffin and Brennan, wondering if perhaps the trauma of the day wasn't getting to him.

'I need to speak with them.' Came Nyx's voice again, clearer than ever now, though his mouth was completely still.

Shae's ears stood erect, confusion written across her face; she had heard Nyx as well, yet his lips had not moved! "Nyx..." Shae said softly as she drew closer, still holding Cailus' hand tightly. "Nyx, we're here," she said to him, placing her free hand on the dying man's shoulder to offer him comfort, and she didn't even know if he could feel the contact at this point.

Confused and more than a little concerned, Cailus let her pull him closer. What the hell was happening?

As soon as the connection was made, the room appeared to change in a moment. One minute they were in the dark, death-stained conference room, the next it was the storage facility where Shae had grown her garden. The plants were all sitting together against the far wall, each one bigger and more luscious than before, creating an over-grown green background. Nyx walked out from behind some of the plants, carrying a bowl of peas in his hands. The peas were far too overloaded in the bowl and they spilled out onto the floor as he approached.

"About time." He said nonchalantly to them both. He was wearing a neat and clean red Starfleet uniform, his face shaven and hair perfectly coifed. He held up the peas to show the couple. "Look how many I've done."

Shae blinked in confusion. "What... just happened?" she asked warily.

Looking around them with concern, Cailus squeezed Shae’s hand, as if to confirm that she was real. “Good question,” he said, looking askance at Nyx. “Captain?”

Nyx frowned and placed the bowl on a counter, the peas falling about thoughtlessly. "We don't have time for questions. Or I don't, more to the point. There's lot to see and that guy's getting weaker." He jerked his head to the floor where another Nyx was lying, as he was in the Conference room, with his bloodied uniform and his body limp. "So come on."

Temple turned and walked into the wall of plants, gently pushing away the abundant vines and many leaves as he did, as if opening a door. Soon he completely disappeared into the lush vegetation, though he could be heard whistling as he made his way through. It was apparent that this wasn't just a wall of plants, but a long passageway of greenery leading somewhere else.

Utterly flummoxed, Cailus shrugged helplessly at Shae. “I suppose we follow him,” he said with resignation.

Shae looked at Cailus, and she was just as confused as he. "I suppose so," she answered, and held tight to his hand as she followed Nyx.

The trio emerged now out in the daylight. They were no longer on the Pandora, but a wide open field surrounded by tall, old trees. In the distance there was a city of glass buildings, a traffic of shuttles flying overhead nearby, and a pink-tinged sky above them.

"The Botanical Gardens of Lucis." Nyx explained proudly. "I wanted to show you where I became the kind of person I wanted to be." He paused, wondering if that sentence made sense, but then happily dismissed that with a shrug. Nearby, a younger Nyx was sitting down on a picnic rug, laughing and talking intently with an equally younger Emilie, the sounds of the joyful couple echoing across the field. "This is where I asked her to marry me."

Shae watched in amazement as the scene unfolded, and she looked on with wonder at the Nyx who was their guide. "I think I know what this is," she said with awe and a new-found respect for her Captain. "I knew you were part Betazoid, but I never thought you were capable of something like this!"

Nyx was still watching his younger self, but he nodded in response. "I'm projecting my inner thoughts to you both, I hope that's okay. Normally this would be forbidden, of course, a violation of Betazoid culture. My grandmother would never approve."

In an instant an older woman strode past, long hair pulled into two platted braids, her usually gentle face turned into clear dislike. "Nycolas William Temple!" Grandma Temple cried, "This isn't what I taught you!"

She reached out to give Nyx a smack on the back of his head, so he shuttered away and closed his eyes. After bracing himself for a few moments, he realised the disturbance had disappeared, willed away back into his subconscious. However, when he opened his eyes again, the scene had changed once more. The city behind them was burning ferociously against the night sky, the buildings billowing with smoke and screams could be heard in the distance. Just on the edge of the Gardens, an old Cardassian fighter unloaded another burst of plasma bombs onto the ground, sending an eruption of fire into the air and making the earth shake violently.

"Everything changed this day." Nyx spoke quietly against the cruel tragedy unfolding around them. "Rogues decided Lucis' was theirs. And they would rather see it burn than allowing us to live here. This is when I became the person I had to be."

Unfortunately, a connection like this worked both ways, and when the memory of Nyx's grandmother struck him, it was such a potent memory than Shae felt the strike to the back of her head as well, and with that came a flood of memories of her own, both painful and humiliating, but it only lasted a fraction of a second before Shae's mental control was restored and together they were watching Lucis burn.

"I'm sorry," Shae said sympathetically, and to apologize for her momentary loss of control. "No one... no one should ever have to know what this is like..." Shae couldn't even begin to imagine what this must have been like for Nyx and Emily, but it required no stretch of the imagination to know that this day had been a defining day for many families. "But I don't understand, why are you showing this to us?"

Cailus gripped her hand tighter as he looked at Nyx solemnly. “Because when you die, you want people to remember how you lived,” he explained grimly. Looking around at the devastation as thousands were slaughtered, he grimaced before looking back at Nyx. “What happened next?”

“I should have prepared you both more, but there wasn’t much time.” Nyx replied with a sigh. As usual Griffin had spoken the concise truth, and gotten right to the point. He looked down and saw a small dark red circle seeping through his uniform. “And I don’t have much time left. Looks like we’ll have to skip a few steps. If you’re up for it?”

Shae nodded. "We can handle whatever you need to show us," she affirmed softly, holding Cailus' hand tighter.

Nyx took in a very deep breath and the chaos of Lucis fell away, his mind searching for the right memory to replay. There was Nyx and Emilie's wedding day, undercover missions on Gaspar, the birth of Katrine on Earth, running through the streets of some neon city during a rainy evening, being granted the Pandora, familiar faces, battles, the Indigo sky, the wave, and then...

The trio were now standing in Nyx's Ready Room, the sounds of Bach's "Air on G" on violin and cello playing in the background, the room dimly lit by many tiny candles. Another Nyx, not too much younger this time, was presiding over Shae and Griffin's wedding. It sounded like they were just up to the opening remarks.

"This." The real Nyx smiled. "This gave me so much hope for everybody."

Shae's eyes were filled with tears as she watched their wedding from Nyx's perspective. It had been beautiful then, but it was even more so now; after all the fighting to survive in this unforgiving Bubble, seeing such beautiful hope was like a balm to her aching soul.

"It was hope for us too," Shae said softly. "A promise that we wouldn't give up until we were reunited with our family, all our families... I'm so sorry that promise wasn't enough." But more than that, Shae was sorry that she wasn't enough; she was the Science Officer, the expert in Astrophysics, she should have been able to find a way out of here by now! Maybe if she hadn't been spending so much time in that damned garden, but... but that garden was hope too, and it would keep everyone alive! Wasn't that just as important? Maybe she could convince herself for a while, but eventually the guilt would get the better of her.

"You were the finest captain I've ever known," Cailus affirmed, locking his eyes on Nyx's. "And a dear friend. We wouldn't have had anyone else in the universe marry us."

Nyx looked to his friend, tears threatening to well in his eyes. "Our time was short, but it was damn good, right?" He gave that self-deprecating laugh he always did when emotions got too heavy for him, before taking a deep breath. "This was a beautiful evening. I only wish Emilie could have seen it."

Just the mention of her name was all the trigger Nyx's mind needed to start flashing through memories of Emilie. But instead of picnics in the gardens or intimate moments, the most pressing memory was the last conversation he'd had with his wife. Nyx shut his eyes trying to drown out the voices but it was too late. She and him were in the room now, Shae and Cailus' wedding faded away, and he was replaying the last time he spoke with Emilie.

"You're still doing the dirty work for 31?" Emilie had exclaimed, with all the incredulity and accusation she could muster.

"No!" Nyx protested. "Definitely not. It's an Intel directive. Look, I'm not even supposed to be discussing this with anyone."

"Oh!" Emilie cried out. "Not even your wife, huh? I'm not on the need-to-know list?"

Nyx leaned in and spoke in a hushed voice to Emilie. "This is top level classification, Ems. I can't discuss it until we know more."

"About what?" Emilie asked. "What did SI direct you to do on the Carnage?"


Standing still in the back of the room, Nyx shook his head, trying to make it stop. "No. I didn't want you to see this." He groaned to Shae and Cailus.

"It's okay," Shae said, reaching out to place a comforting hand on his shoulder. She, of course, understood well the nature of the beast that was Starfleet Intelligence, how information was compartmented and how that could affect relationships, and she equally understood his waning control, having had a brief lapse in her own control just moments earlier. Although, she couldn't deny that she was curious to know what this order was, but she knew better than to ask.

"It is what it is," Cailus said quietly, adding his words to Shae's. "The good and the bad. We don't judge."

The room started to fade away to black again, though little blurry images were still present around them. An exposed pipe, metal grating, the sounds of a poorly crafted ship creaking and groaning. Nyx was ignoring the change, burying his face in his hands.

"I thought the Pandora would be my reward." He explained. "After what happened on Lucis, after dragging myself through the mud working for Intel. All that blood on my hands. Finally, I'd have a ship of my own, explore the galaxy, with friends and family by my side. But I was still their man, their agent. Still in the mud. And instead of being my saving, the Pandora became my karma. She was everything I ever wanted and I got her, just so I could die helplessly at the helm." He finally looked up, eyes full of sorrow. "Hope? There was no hope for me."

Shae moved so that she was standing in front of him and used the back of her fingers to gently raise his chin so he could hold his head a little higher.

"This sorrow does not become you, nor any of us," Shae said softly. She suddenly seemed so much older than her youthful visage. "We've all made mistakes, done things we wish we could undo; you are not the only one to wrestle with the past or try to defy karma. I thought the Pandora was my second chance at happiness, and yet I'm right here with you, faced with the same loss, the same regrets, and Cailus too. But hope is not something you have, or do not have; it's something you chose to do, and you never gave up, you fought for yourself, for your family, for all of us, so brave and unwavering, and that has to mean something, it has to carry weight, and that kind of resolve will inspire others to keep your hope alive long after you're gone."

"Yes." Nyx managed a smile, looking resolutely at her. "Thank you. That's what I wanted to impart."

"Because you should do something good with your last moments." Came a familiar voice from the distance.

The room continued to form around them; they were now standing on a cold steel floor, there was a large unmade bed nearby, a terminal flashing behind them. Nyx knew what was coming, he'd been in this room before. Shae and Cailus had not, though the former probably recognised the distinctive interior of the Ravager's command ship. As soon as the Captain allowed himself to realise where he was, it almost instantly snapped into completion and the trio were now firmly standing in Balek's quarters from the Carnage. "No, no, no." He hissed to himself.

A Nyx from the past was standing in front of them now, wearing his Ravager disguise, as he peered over a restrained and defeated Balek.

"You can't threaten me with death, not with your idealism, even if these bandits came into Federation territory you're still bound by your laws." The Ravager King had said.

Nyx looked at the man dead in his eyes and replied, "We're not in Federation territory now. Remember?"


Watching the scene play out, Cailus was grim, already suspecting what was about to happen. "The report said he died in the battle," he said softly, clearly remembering that desperate fight at Salvaxe even though it was well over a year in the past.

“I killed him.” Came Nyx’s voice from across the room. More, his subconscious guilt talking now as the Nyx from the Carnage stood and turned towards the others.

“I’m not sorry about that.” The present Nyx replied defiantly. “He was a monster and he needed to be stopped. Intel gave me clearance to disrupt and remove any Ravager threat in the Expanse, so long as it was safe to do so.”

“So why lie?” Carnage Nyx asked with a nonchalant shrug. Behind him Balek was gasping for air, his breathing tubes ripped out of his mask as he slowly died. “We covered up his assasination and hid this.”

“Following orders.” Present Nyx replied. He looked to Shae and Cailus. “I guess my mind wanted to show you this, to relieve the guilt from hiding what I did. But I was under orders not to reveal the extent of our Cold War with the Ravagers. The top brass are trying not to let panic spread even though it’s blindly obvious the Ravagers are terrorists willingly baying for our blood. I... eliminated Balek to remove his presence and send a message to the Ravagers.”

“A Captain lies.” Carnage Nyx added vaguely. “Even the good ones, even the ones who are your close friends. Even the ones who will marry you on a moment’s notice, or try to reason with a crazed crew member holding a phaser rifle. As Cailus said, I wanted you to remember how I lived. It wasn’t always clean and clear. Remember me, but remember the whole me.”

"You can leave now, you have no place here," Shae said sternly to Nyx's guilt, then her gaze softened as she returned it to her dear friend. "You have no need to feel guilt now, just let it go," she said softly, embracing her friend in an attempt to offer him comfort. "I know what it's like to kill; not just self-defense, but cold premeditated murder... I know how it eats away at a person, chipping away at the soul until it feels like there's nothing left of you... I understand the burden you've had to carry, and I don't think any less of you for it; you had your orders, you did what you had to do, there's no shame in that. So just let it go so that you can go in peace..."

Stepping up next to Nyx, Cailus placed a firm hand on the man's shoulder, his expression stoic. "You lived well. You did good things, loved and was loved, and now pass amongst friends. The universe was richer for your presence, both the good and the bad of it. You can rest now, my friend."

There was a final change of scenery, though this one was welcoming and familiar. The Carnage had faded away and now they were standing in the living area of the Temple family quarters. Down the corridor towards the bedrooms there was the distinct gleeful laugh of little Katrine as Emilie was reading a story to her with great animation. Nyx turned to look towards the corridor and smiled.

“If you don’t mind, I’m going to spend my last moments with them. The memories of them, at least.” Nyx spoke. His uniform was gone, he was just wearing plain pyjamas now. The past, the career, the guilt; all of it had been stripped away and they had arrived at what lay at the heart of Nyx’s mind. His family. “Even if I can’t speak to them again... at least I have this.”

"And when we get back to the Pandora, the real Pandora, we'll make sure they know it," Shae promised him with tears in her eyes as she watched her friend and Captain descend that hallway. Shae returned to her husband and took his hand, squeezing it tight. "Goodbye," she said softly, closing her eyes so she wouldn't have to see Nyx go.

Cailus wrapped a comforting arm around Shae's shoulders, holding her tight as they watched Nyx walk away. As he moved away to the sounds of his laughing family, so too did their surroundings, becoming increasingly fuzzy and indistinct, until quite naturally, they were right back in the conference room, standing just as they had been in the telepathic vision. Nyx was still lying there on the bed, precisely as before. Looking down, Cailus didn't need to use a tricorder or take Nyx's pulse to confirm what he felt at looking upon the fallen captain.

The silence was deafening in its totality.

"He's gone," he murmured thickly.

Shae brought a hand to her lips, covering her mouth to try to stifle a sob as she broke.

"It's not fair..." she said softly. Nyx was a broken man, this was true, he had his share of guilt and shame, but he also had such a big heart, and it wasn't fair that his light had been snuffed out the way it was. "Do not ever leave me alone with Rochester," Shae cautioned her husband in a not so veiled threat; so long as there were people around to keep the man safe from her wrath, then they would have nothing to worry about, but all she would need was just a minute, just a minute alone with him...

While normally Cailus would've treated such a threat with amusement, now he treated it with deadly seriousness. "Understood," he answered quietly, his eyes still on Nyx's body. With a deep sigh, he squeezed Shae's shoulder. "Come on. Let's go. We have arrangements to make."

Shae let herself sob for a moment longer before getting her emotions back under control. She wiped the tears away and stood tall, then with a deep breath she turned and left the improvised sickbay; Cailus was right, they had work to do.

In the quiet of Katrine's bedroom, Nyx watched as Emilie read their daughter her story, the darkness around them slowing closing in. It was a serene, slow motion moment of peace. Nyx smiled as he tried his hardest to hold onto the memory for just a little bit longer, trying to sustain this for as long as he could. A tear fell down his cheek, knowing that back in the real universe he would never get to see his family again, and he felt the agony of how much he would miss them. He tried to push that thought away as he focused on the calm love in this room.

"Daddy." Katrine spoke, looking to him with her curious gaze. "You need to go."

Nyx frowned, "No honey, I'm staying here with you."

"No Daddy." She replied firmly. "It's time to wake up."

OFF

 

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