Posted on February 28th, 2019 by Kuari
It all happened so fast.
Kuari registered the aggressive movement, drawing her attention, but it wasn’t clear what was happening until the familiar sound of concussive impact against organic tissue and breaking bone alerted her senses. The draconic Ykavosh had struck Captain Harper across the face, immediately injuring and disabling her.
How had Kuari not seen it coming?
Once a proud and effective member of the Marines aboard a Federation flagship, Kuari’s first inclination to an attack on her commanding officer should have been to strike back. Not only that, this towering alien had assaulted her best friend.
The blood welled and flowed out between Kate’s fingers as she clutched her face.
It was Kuari’s duty to defend her, to sacrifice herself to protect her Captain. Was she losing her edge?
Bright flashes from energy weapons discharging and the accompanying zing of plasma had Kuari whipping her head back towards the enemy. The guards were shooting them. She quickly looked back to see Major Wolfe crumpling to the ground. A second later they were shooting again, and Second Lieutenant Grey fell. The Marines had been reaching for their weapons, but the Xovul were faster.
Kuari remembered standing there on all fours, stunned. If she had responded as her Marines had, as they were trained, Kuari would have been disabled, too.
“You do not follow the Xov. Either you will, or you will die.”
The Ykavosh was saying something. Kuari needed to listen, but her brain just wanted to turn off and let her body act.
Commander Wright was with Captain Harper. Yes, of course she was. Grey had rushed in to assist, too, and it was the rise of her phaser that had got her disabled, but Wright was still there. Kuari wanted to shield Harper, but moving would only get her shot. There was nothing she could do that Wright couldn’t at this point. All of her people were doing what they needed to.
Except her. Kuari’s role was no longer to defend, but to lead.
She had already failed in this. The Ykavosh had told them not to move, hadn’t he? Kuari should have seen the weapons trained on them and told everyone to cooperate, but she hadn’t. She had just stood there.
Seconds after the Xovul had dematerialized, Kuari was being carried by her own transporter beam, and Sickbay formed around her. The entire away team was there with her. Doctors and nurses rushed to attend to Harper, Wolfe and Grey. They were all safe! What were they to do now? Kuari looked to Captain Harper for orders, but Kate couldn’t lead, let alone speak.
Oh. Right. That duty fell to her, didn’t it? Slowly but mercilessly, the great weight of Atlantis settled heavily onto her back. The Red Alert klaxons blared all around them, muted as they were in Sickbay. No, they were not safe.
The past could not be changed, but one thing that carried through from her Marine training was that she had to deal with now, and she could never give up.
Kuari recalled coming out of her stupor and yelling orders to the bridge. She had transported there immediately, where the ship’s acting commanding officer belonged. Her gut told her to chase the enemy, to show the Xovul what Atlantis and her crew were capable of, and to show no mercy for their transgression. Once again she had to force herself to think instead, and she remembered what the Ykavosh had threatened.
“…I advise you leave this place. We will return to claim it, and if you are here and not willing to follow the Xov when we return, you will die.”
Obviously, they were not going to “follow the Xov”, so a confrontation was to be expected. Atlantis didn’t need to chase down the Xovul ship if they intended to come back, and when they did, Atlantis needed to defend the colony on the planet below. Yes, that was the proper course of action, the one Kuari knew Captain Harper would take.
Orders had been given, and the bridge was a flurry of activity. Kuari had been pacing the center of the bridge, side to side in front of the command chairs, thinking better as her body moved. She racked her brain as she thought of what else could be done, but there wasn’t more to do at the moment. While the ship as a whole waited for the Xovul’s indefinite return, Kuari herself forced herself to stop moving as she awaited Captain Harper’s return. She knew her friend Kate was strong and stubborn and would return to the bridge as soon as she was able to command. In that eventuality, she would want a report of their status and could resume making the decisions of what to do next herself. Yes, Kuari could expect this soon, no doubt, and she would not have the weighty responsibility much longer.
Kuari recognized the symptoms of shock within her. So much had happened in a short period of time, and she had yet to process it all. That would come in time, she knew, but not now. Even though she could now take a moment to breathe, she had to reserve this time to consider command decisions, not her own feelings of failure. That determination made, she still couldn’t keep the visage of the Ykavosh from floating before her mind, his calculating and what she now knew to be cruel eyes regarding her.
“I have never heard of Rucara, but I can see passing similarities between us.”
Kuari’s gut coiled in revulsion at trust betrayed, and her spine stiffened in pride of her moral upbringing. She found herself muttering out loud, a habit that was not hers.
“We’re nothing alike.”