<USS Banshee> "Sands from a Farther Shore" Pt. 4
- From: "Brad Ruder" <groundzero@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: ussbanshee@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004 00:31:15 -0700
“Sands from a Farther Shore” - Part Four
by Lt. Commander Joshua Asper
The silence had gotten to him. His eyes blistered wide open as he stared into the ceiling. It was uniform and he knew that because he’d looked it over enough to prove it in the six months he’d been in solitary confinement to know every square inch. The bench pad - which doubled as his bed - was the same too. Not many people get put into solitary confined, he has mused multiple times, especially on a long-distance exploratory mission.
The sizzle of matter being pulsed together to form something sparked his interest. It was a periodic occurrence. It was feeding time. It ways always something that looked like it had been collected from something that was infected or beaten until it was no longer recognizable as what it was. Three times a day he got food; breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Such was the punishment for murder.
Or, apparent murder. Josh held onto his convictions that he was innocence, but the prolonged isolation had had detrimental effects on his psyche, his determination, and his sanity. In the late hours, when he was still awake from lack of exercise and physical exertion, his mind wandered to the circumstances surrounding his apprehension. No, he couldn’t have killed the man, he was dead already.
How many times had he run the same scenario in his head? How many times had he tried to decipher any of the Captain’s alleged charges? Countless times. It had made him so made and angry every time. How could they not see what was right in front of them? They were all hollow questions with answers that didn’t matter.“What a sorrowful existence.”
His friend had come to visit him. “Yes, it is. Someday, whenever we get back to where we need to be I’ll come out and I’ll tell them exactly what happened and things will be different. I didn’t do it, surely they’ll realize that.” “They didn’t before they locked you away, what makes you think they’ll realize now?”
He turned to his reflection and frowned. It was right, after all, and somewhere inside of himself Josh had touched on that discovery a long time ago. Still, the shred of hope was still alluring and he continued to hold onto it. It was too soon to let go of everything. “You’re right, I guess, but things have a habit of turning out differently sometimes. I’m hoping that I’m the exception to the rule.”“I think we’re going to be great friends.”
It was sometime in the morning, he thought. The lights had since been deactivated and a cold loneliness, if it had ever lifted, had descended on him long ago. The darkness soon parted and an array of light, almost a heavenly light, pierced through the dismal abyss. Josh’s eyes strained to see, but the light was too much for him to determine anything.
“Wake up, Joshua.”
The voice was English, London perhaps. A silhouette stepped into his cell - the first person in months to actually have contact with him - and pressed a hypospray into his neck. Josh’s senses began to climb out of their atrophied slumber. The numbness in his legs, from lack of exercise, began to fade away with his feelings of perpetual confinement. “Who are you?”
“A doctor. I should welcome you back to Earth. According to the records of the crew, the happenings, and the Captain’s personal logs, it would seem you’ve been locked away for nearly eight months.” The Englishmen, whose face was still shrouded in mystery, turned and walked back out into the light.
“Locked away for a crime - ”
“...you didn’t commit, I know, I know.”
“I’m serious, I didn’t.” Josh’s eyes were slowly readjusting to the level of light. Two men flanked the doctor who had a beard the color of the Antarctica. Hopefully, as the old adage reaffirmed, with age there comes great wisdom. “Lieutenant Avek died. I didn’t kill him. I tried to get him help.”
The Englishmen nodded again; out of spite or consensus, Josh couldn’t have been sure. “I know that you didn’t kill him. It was a conspiracy to have you locked up and the Chief Security Officer position taken from you.”
Josh broke again, his solitude having been shattered by the harshness of the real world that was stolen from him. The transition from convicted hermit to a human being would take more time. “I didn’t kill him! I didn’t kill him! It was a conspiracy!” He began to thrash wildly and move forward, his legs slowly accepting movement commands from his brain. “I didn’t do it!”
Yellow shirts surrounded him and dragged him to the ground. His memory flashed to Jorge Valdes dragging him across the bridge of the USS Iliad in shame and dishonor. He again felt that ultimate low. Taking a deep breath, and regaining what little composure he had to begin with, Josh was hoisted to his feet. Truth be told, Josh had no idea what had happened between his imprisonment and the USS Iliad’s return home.
Placing his hands on Josh’s face, the Englishmen met his gaze, “I’m being brutally honest with you, Joshua. It was a conspiracy. I’m not taunting you, mocking you, or anything of the sort. You’re not yourself right now and no one can blame you for being skeptical of my attitude.”
He was soothed. He felt the release of the grip slightly. Moving more freely he walked into a corridor. The ship - or structure - was definitely not the Iliad. Josh assumed he’d been transported in the night, but this wasn’t the place he called home. “Where am I?”
“Starfleet Medical, Earth.”
“How long have I been here?”
“Not long, a day or two at most.”
His mind swam at the possibilities; the forty-eight hours could have been used for something more than allowing him to rest. Josh had rested for eight months while on a seemingly endless journey. “And during the time in which I was here, what was happening?”
The gray-haired man took a gander over his shoulder, “an official inquiry into the actions of Captain Tandia Lavette were taking place. The entire crew of the Iliad was debriefed. It seems that there was more taking place on board than met the eye. Are you familiar with Matthew Kennemer?”
“Chief Tactical Officer.”
“He became Chief Security when you were placed into detention. The inquiry got the runaround on both of them. It seems that the two were having an affair,” the man said not knowing the full story on Lavette’s mattress dancers with junior officers, “and Tandia Lavette murdered her Chief Security Officer - with the help of Kennemer - to get her lover a promotion to Lieutenant Commander a promotion on the ship.”
Somehow he figured as much. It all made sense, it all fell into place, and suddenly the evil smirk on the tactical officer’s place slipped into its proper place in Joshua’s mystery. “So, if I may ask, what am I doing at Starfleet Medical?”
“You’re under observation,” the man said without missing a beat, “when the Iliad returned to Starbase it was determined that you had a rare case of cabin fever. A serious problem that is related an extreme duration without socializing with others. A psychological aspect that occurs rarely nowadays.”
“How do you know that I have anything like that?”
The man stopped and turned, staring Josh dead in the face. “When we first were notified of Iliad’s return it was also added that an assistant security officer had been placed in solitary confinement and was talking to himself. Extensively.”
Josh thought back. It had been one long blur from the moment he lost his freedom to the time the heavenly light showered him a few moments ago. He looked at the security officers, who stared back at him, and found a third set of eyes. Staring over a guard’s shoulder was his own brown eyes. Blinking as if he saw a ghost, he turned back to the Englishmen. “Wh-who was I talking to?”
“Yourself.”“You know that that isn’t true, Joshua, you were talking to your only friend.”
Again they were walking. Josh could hear nothing but the breathing of his mirror self. It was the most disconcerting feeling to have - walking beside yourself. It gave a new literal meaning about being beside ones self. “I-I-I am sorry, I don’t understand.”
The man would’ve sighed, heavily, if it hadn’t been for his respectful attitude. “You were found talking to yourself, Lieutenant, as if there was someone else in the cell with you when there clearly was not. You were carrying on a full conversation.”
“Oh,” was all Josh could muster as a reply.
“We’re going to give you some drugs, perfectly harmless, to get rid of the vision that you’re seeing. Nothing that will have any long-term effects.” Smiling, the man stepped aside from a door and ushered Josh into a large medical bay. The lab was full of biobeds with quivering patients and twitching bodies that looked more like corpses.
Josh’s breath caught in his throat as if he’d taken a breath from an open grave, “What did you say your name was?”
“I didn’t,” the man smiled an ominous smile, completely unlike a doctor. Motioning to a biobed in the full upright position, the man moved to a surgical table. “Please place yourself on the tilted bed for diagnosis and treatment.”
“I thought I was already diagnosed.”
“It’s a figure of speech.”
Nodding suspiciously, Josh took a few steps towards the bed and was shadowed by the security guards. The treatment, he mused, would be administered to him whether he wanted it or not. And, taking a quick look at his persona staring back at him, he wanted nothing more than to be rid of the one thing that had kept him company for so long.
Securing himself in the stirrups he exhaled heavily. His heart began to pound and his face flushed, something wasn’t right. “What drug are you giving to me?”
“It’s a highly experimental drug that hasn’t been approved by Starfleet Command for release to Starfleet Medical databases. We barely have enough for medical simulations on a holodeck. You’re, how shall I put it, ‘unique’ situation has given us a chance to explore.” The man was emotionless in his delivery of information of Josh’s decline from Starfleet officer to guinea pig.
“Experimental? What’s the traditional treatment?” Josh secretly tugged at the restraint; no such luck.
“Don’t worry, after the initial injection you won’t remember a thing.” Why wasn’t that reassuring? Josh didn’t know. “And you’ll be back on active duty and back on a ship. I hear that a promotion to full Lieutenant is on the way and a Chief Tactical position on a new experimental ship.”
He rolled his eyes, “I have a knack for the experimental, apparently.”
“Who’s worried?”“You are, and you know it. You’ll lose your trusted companion and your sanity.”
Josh blinked the image away, only to see it come back again. The man’s face, his face, stared at him with an evil smirk and taunting _expression_. He had a point, the reflection did, and Josh suddenly felt connected to the personality incarnation of himself. He found himself tearing at the bindings and screaming for help knowing full well none would come. “Let me go!”
“Hold him and tilt his head to the right.”
The guards grabbed him and held him down. When they tilted his head he felt exposed. The hypospray was pressed against his neck and a searing pain shot through his head. Like a fire blazing across a plain of dry weeds and broken logs it wreaked havoc with his mind. Blinking he tried to hold onto consciousness.
The words of the doctor twisted and distorted wildly like the visual scene. Before he succumbed to unconsciousness he heard one thing clearly: “it’ll all be over when you wake up.”
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