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Cmdr. Evan Merlin | 'Out of the Darkness...'

Posted on Tue Jan 26th, 2021 @ 12:15pm by Commander Evan Merlin

Mission: A Distant Thunder
Location: Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 242101.26

Everything that needed to be done had been done. The CO of Cold Station Theta looked at his barren desk and let his mind wander. He had met Commodore Ivanova a handful of times, but she had never failed to impress him with her presence. Each of those encounters had left a lasting memory.

He stepped out of his office, nodded at the yeoman and entered the turbolift, choosing a destination at random – he and the turbolifts of the station still had an understanding, or so it seemed. He began to walk and let his mind wander and dwell upon those memories. Some made him smile, some made him frown. The Commodore during the masked ball on the station as the Snow Queen, the mysterious presence who had everyone wonder who it was. The frown was for the time that he had encountered someone he was sure was Ivanova's double. He had brought the matter to the Commodore herself, only to be met with a solid wall of denial.

The memory made him frown even deeper. Whoever that other person had been – and it *hadn't* been his imagination – she had to be still out there. For one moment he indulged in the fleeting fantasy that it was this unknown person who had crashed and that Ivanova was still alive, but he banished that with an angry wave with his hand. Of course it hadn't been her, she would've checked in the moment the news of her death broke. So – if the real Commodore was dead, and the fake one was still out there, then what? What would the implications of that be?

He shelved that thought. Too many unknown variables. Something to discuss with Commander Stacker at a later time, perhaps. His mind switched to a new track, while he kept walking through corridor after corridor like a ghost.

The most startling thing of all, the most shocking, was the abruptness with which all this had happened. There had been no chance of any farewell, no lingering goodbyes. Just one crude smash. Maybe systems had started to fail on reentry, leading to seconds or minutes of panic before the inevitable crash. Too swift in either case. One crash and into the great unknown.
His hand strayed up, touched a thin scar on his chest. It was the only physical memory of the knife which had almost sent him 'into the great unknown'. The doctor had told him that in time, the scar would disappear entirely, leaving only the memory behind. Death could be like this: as sudden as a knife in the dark, a lightning strike, a shuttle hurling out of control and smashing into the unforgiving landscape below.

As endings went, it wouldn't be a bad way to go, he supposed. But for the loved ones who remained behind it was harsh. What if it had been someone he loved? What if he ever got such chilling news about Xue?

He sighed and his walk slowed. He hadn't heard from her in ages, not since she visited the station to deliver her son. Their son. Those precious few moments with her, with the three of them together, were all he had. Once or twice he had heard a whisper from the only unofficial contact between Starfleet and the Stenellian Empire, a short message along the lines of 'The Empress sends you her regards and lets you know all is well'.

It was in the nature of many people, across many races, to want to draw together when faced with grief and loss, to want to reach out to your loved ones. To feel the connection between yourself and the other, to reassure yourself that all of you are alive, still here, that you can hold them, touch them, whisper in their ears "I love you, I love you, I'm so glad you're here, you're here with me."

But those he loved were out of reach, so far out of reach. But, hopefully, safe. There was that, at least.

Another turn, and he abruptly found himself amidst a crowd, people chatting, laughing. He blinked, startled out of his thoughts. He found himself on the lowest level of the Promenade, with the enormous Christmas tree rising in the centre until it reached the top level. On a raised dais at the foot of the tree the choir just started to arrange itself.

He knew the news had spread here, too. Amidst the chatter he heard fragments of conversations, and more than once he heard 'Commodore Ivanova' in various tones of shock or sadness. But tonight people didn't want to dwell on grief or loss, only on the celebration of life and the return of the light.

Slowly silence fell. The lights dimmed, leaving only the choir dressed in red and silver in the light. Their voices rose, lifted by a haunting melody. Out of the darkness, into the light… The public listened, silently, and united by the music they drew together, became, for this moment at least, as one.


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