Fanon stepped into the recovery room and paused. He looked at the silent,
unmoving form of Ensign Veal and from the softly bleeping monitor to the huge
windows that overlooked the woods and capitol city of Yokara. He breathed deeply
to gather his thoughts and took one more step forward, allowing the door to
close behind him. At the hissing sound the Ensign stirred and awoke from her
she murmured as her eyes opened and she recognized her commanding officer.
He nodded and moved forward, sitting down in a chair by her side. “How do you
Sir, very tired.” She turned on her side, to better look at the captain. For
the first time she noticed how his short curly hair was graying at the temples.
For months she had looked up to him, the first CO of a cadet fresh out off the
Academy. Perhaps his hair had always looked this way and she had just never
really seen it.
To her Eliot Fanon had been the paragon of a Starfleet captain; calm, composed,
in control. Maybe gray temples had just never fit her image of the forceful,
energetic Starfleet officer he had always presented to his crew. But now, now he
looked as tired as Tarin felt. “How long has it been?” she asked.
two weeks. We survived, at least most of us did, thanks to you.” Again Captain
Fanon surveyed the scene outside the windows and the last rays of light, as the
Yokaran sun was swallowed by the dark gray clouds of a gathering storm.
Veal followed her CO’s gaze and noticed the unfamiliar landscape. “Where are
Eliot Fanon returned his attention to the Centauran ensign. “It was the
nearest planet where we could get you the medical attention you needed. Not that
it was the medical attention I had in mind,” he added. “Sir?” ‘She
doesn’t know!’ Fanon thought. ‘How
could she, she’s never been awake for more than a few minutes the last two
left hand, Ensign.”
tried to raise her arm, to bring her hand in front of her eyes, but she was
still weak, so very weak. She turned
on her back again and used her right hand to lift her left arm before her face.
There was a thin, almost invisible, scar running around her left wrist, but
apart from that there was nothing wrong, as far as she could tell. “Sir?”
took Captain Fanon a moment to make up his mind, but the Ensign had to hear the
news and he was still her CO. He owed her a lot more than the truth about her
medical condition and there was no easy way to break the news to her.
a replacement. You lost your hand when your console exploded. There was nothing
we could do on board, so the doctor put you in an artificial coma and we headed
for the nearest world that offered adequate medical skills to help you, as soon
as we could.”
see.” Ensign Veal breathed deeply several times, before she found the courage
to ask: “What about Carl? Ensign Summers?”
Fanon shook his head, before he noticed that the Ensign wasn’t even looking at
him. Her gaze was fixed at the windows and the darkening sky, only occasionally
glancing at her left hand. “I am sorry. I know you two have been very close.”
the first flashes of lightning flickered through the distant clouds the young
woman finally found the courage to ask: “What is it about my hand? There is
more to it than what you have told me, isn’t it?”
Fanon closed his eyes. He could no longer see the thunderstorm nearing the
hospital, but he could still see the sparks and explosions, still feel the
rocking and heaving of the Arizona, as
she was nearly torn apart by the barrage of disruptor bolts slamming into the
ship that was supposed to be on a simple routine patrol.
He leaned forward and placed a hand on the young Centauran’s shoulder.
“It’s a replacement, but not what you would expect. We had to use a Yokaran
prosthesis. If we hadn’t done so, the nerves in your arm would have
degenerated too much to accept any kind of replacement at all.”
Veal looked at her left hand again and wiggled her fingers. “It’s a
cybernetic hand,” Eliot Fanon revealed to her. “Under that synthetic skin
it’s all wires and metal and plastics.”
Veal’s fingers stopped moving as she sharply inhaled. Centaurans, like most
Federation member species, had strong reservations against cybernetics. Each of
them had their own reasons, but for Centaurans the reasons were mostly religious.
Eliot Fanon knew that - while Centauran religions were at least as diverse as
Human faiths – almost every one of them believed in rebirth and shared the
belief that one’s soul was diminished by an artificial part in a person’s
body, lessening one’s chance to be reborn into a better life – or any life
Tarin Veal a religious woman? Captain Fanon didn’t know. He had never bothered
about it before - after all, she was just an ensign on her first cruise out off
the Academy, or at least she had been until that day two weeks ago. “Does that
disturb you?” he inquired.
shook her head, but before she replied she ran her fingers over her left hand,
touched it, blew at it, brought it close to her face and carefully studied it.
“It feels real, no different than. . . before.”
hope it does. I have been told the Yokarans are quite good at this and while I
don’t agree with their methods, at least it will keep you in service,
Lieutenant Veal.” Eliot Fanon rose and was almost to the door before Tarin
realized what he had said.
first large drops of rain hit the window and, for what seemed to Tarin like an
eternity, their impact against the transparent aluminum was the only sound that
broke the silence. “Yes, Lieutenant, at least if Starfleet follows my
recommendation.” Captain Fanon took another step forward and the door opened
for him instantly. “Without you we would all be dead; I think you have more
than earned a promotion. Now get some rest.” Eliot Fanon left the room and the
door closed behind him.
the doors closed behind Captain Fanon the rain momentarily subsided and the only
sounds in the room were the steady bleeps and beeps of the sickbay monitors.
Tarin Veal stared at the ceiling and drew a few deep breaths as her left hand
clenched and her nails dug into the palm of her hand. There was no pain – she
could feel what she was doing, but it didn’t hurt. Nothing did, only the
steady sound of the scanners that proclaimed that she was still alive. She was
alive and Carl was dead.
man she loved was no more.
She could clearly remember looking at his lifeless broken eyes on the
bridge of the Arizona. What did it
matter what had happened to her hand when all the rest of her was already dead?
the torrential rain hit the window like a staccato of drumbeats the tears
started to flow across her cheeks, but no amount of tears could wash away the
pain Tarin felt. Outside the lightning flashed, starkly lighting up the sky, but
inside there was only darkness, only rain.
Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4