When Wesley rescues a girl from a frightening creature, the consequences take everyone by surprise.
One Lifetime's Not Enough
Chara III, surface
"Alright. The longer we're down here, the greater the risk of running into a native. Data, Wesley, look sharp. If you do see a native, try to steer clear. Let's spread out and find this probe as soon as possible. Any questions?" Riker looked over his away team. Data could certainly handle himself, but he still had some reservations about Wesley. Of course, the boy was going to the academy in a matter of days, so he should be able to handle this.
'Go west, Wesley.' Ha! Like I haven't heard about a thousand variations on that before. Wesley walked out into the empty city, looking around carefully for any sign of the missing probe. He knew that he'd been assigned the least likely direction, but that was no reason not to be thorough. Besides, he might find something else of interest.
Deserted buildings loomed around him. None of the streets followed any discernable pattern; the city's layout was ideal for defense. There was scattered evidence that animals had made dens of some of the empty houses. Most of the damages in the city could be explained by time, but every now and then Wesley saw doors that had clearly been hacked through. Maybe there had been some sort of battle, and the survivors had fled.
Hordes of mornanostale swarmed the streets, shouting their fearsome war cries. Hapless townsfolk fled before the onslaught, mothers catching up their children as they ran. Some families barricaded themselves in their homes, cowering as the enemies' axes bit into their doors. Some tried to hide, in basements and attics --
"Riker to Crusher." The commander's voice broke through Wesley's daydream, startling him slightly.
"Have you found anything yet?"
"Not yet, sir." He paused, then continued, "Some of the building look like they were... well, the doors are chopped to pieces. Permission to explore further?"
Commander Riker was silent for a moment. Wesley was about to give up hope, when... "Permission granted, Mr. Crusher. Be careful, some of the buildings look hazardous. Could collapse, or the stairs could fall in. Don't take any risks."
"Yes, sir. Crusher out." Wesley looked around with new interest. Which building to explore first? He walked slowly up the street, hardly noticing his feet moving. In this city, it was easy to understand the captain's interest in archeology. Every house and every shop could hold a piece of the puzzle.
Suddenly, he realized that he's wandered into a completely new area. Looking around, he didn't recognize anything. The street he had just come from was completely unfamiliar. He was about to call up Commander Riker and Data when he noticed the temple directly ahead.
The temple was easily three stories high, with a domes roof. The front half of the dome was supported by graceful marble pillars. The back was a massive wall, covered with mosaic images. Probably scenes from their mythology. One figure seemed to feature in all the scenes, but time and scavengers had taken a toll. Wesley couldn't make out any details. The floor was covered in rubble, and light streamed through a hole in the center of the dome. Huh. The wreckage looks... weird. Too jagged. I don't think it's more than a month old...
Maybe this was where the probe had fallen! Wesley touched his Starfleet insignia, telling Commander Riker and Data what he had found as he picked his way into the temple. He walked into the beam of light, and stopped. Where he was standing, directly under the hole, the floor was clear. It looked odd, too -- newer that anything else in the city. Wesley knelt where he was, taking out his tricorder and scanning the ground. It groaned beneath his feet.
That's when the floor caved in.
Chara III, Oracle's cavern
Wesley sat up, slightly groggy, and shook his head. He was in a cavern. About eight feet above his head was a fresh hole in the ceiling. The cavern was lit by the glowing crystal that made the walls. A shrunken figure was huddled against the wall to his left, and a young girl stood protectively before it. She didn't appear to be looking at him though -- good thing, she looks angry...
She was looking past his. Wesley looked to his right, and saw a dark figure. It shimmered in the glow from the walls, and its eyes flashed with a sickly yellow-green. It held a blade that caught the light on its wickedly sharp edge. The creature advanced, coming straight toward him. Then it passed him, ignoring his existence completely. It was attacking the girl! Coward! She isn't even armed!
For some reason, the girl was amused by the attack. She laughed, saying something to the figure behind her, and stepped adroitly aside. Unfortunately, the monster anticipated her move. It swung around, sweeping its tail at her and knocking her off her feet. She lay and the ground, stunned momentarily. The monster lept toward her, raising its sword high, prepared to cleave her in two.
Wesley never paused to think about it. He lifted his phaser, and shot the creature. It dropped.
The girl stood up, slowly, dusting off her robe. She looked at the creature, then kicked dirt on it. After helping the shrunken being up, she walked up to Wesley, and smiled. Then said something in a language he'd never heard before.
I don't remember this part in the fairy tales. Hero rescues damsel, and they can't even communicate. Well, I'm not much of a hero... "Sorry, I didn't catch that." He smiled disarmingly. "Don't suppose you speak English?" Of course, he was learning Klingon, but wasn't confident in his skills yet. She didn't look Klingon, anyways. Must be one of the local humans. Won't know Eng--
"Right. Stupid of me. Just wanted to say thanks for zapping that guy, however you did it...?" She trailed off, looking at him expectantly.
Wha..? She wants an explanation? Uh... "Uh... I just used my... um... I can't really tell you..." Oh, wonderful. His only excuse was that there was no way this girl should speak English. It was throwing him for a loop.
"Oh. You could tell me, but then you'd have to kill me? That's fine." She looked like she was going to continue, but her companion chose that moment to open its mouth.
It pointed at him, and croaked something. The words it used had a rhythm like poetry. Whatever it said, it made the girl look like she'd just been stunned. I put the phaser away, right? Right.
"Um. This might sound like a kinda weird question, but just go with me, okay?" The English she used was slightly archaic. Not like Shakespeare or anything, but... different from the way other people spoke.
"Have I ever seen you?"
"Do you-- no. We've never met."
"Okay. And did you just save my life?"
"I... I guess I did." Hm. I am kind of heroic. Commander Riker would have done the same. Wesley smiled, thinking of his idol.
"So, you didn't realize that that lizard wasn't really a danger to me?"
"No, I-- it wasn't? But it was about to--"
She cut him off, waving her hand imperiously. "Irrelevant. Thank you, though. It was very brave of you to get involved, especially since you thought I was in danger." She paused, chewing on her thumbnail. "I've never seen you before. You saved my life, but my life didn't need saving." She sighed. Then she looked up, and smiled at him again. "Okay. Here's the deal. I've been trapped in this cavern for a while now, and you just set me free. There's a condition, though. Call it a geas."
"Geas?" This was getting confusing.
"Yeah. It's like... Okay, so I have power, right? But I'm new to it. So I can't be allowed to just go mucking about everywhere, all willy-nilly and what have you. So I have to stick with you. My geas says that I have to stay by your side for your lifetime."
"What?!" Wesley and the girl looked up, to see Commander Riker and Data staring down through at them. Data's face was his habitual mask of polite interest, and Commander Riker was clearly surprised. The girl looked down, shuffling her feet. "Never mind. Wesley, you said it looked like the probe crashed around here. Have you located it?"
"No, sir. But I just fell into this cavern a few minutes ago."
"Understood. Data, scan the area for the probe." Data nodded his assent, and dropped into the cavern. Riker continued. "Miss, I don't suppose you've seen anything unusual?"
She made a face. "You mean, more unusual than three men clearly from another world, one of whom is a robot? Not today."
"No, this wouldn't have happened today. It would have been a few weeks ago."
"Oh. Well, nothing much. Every day is the same. There was that funky machine, though. It fell--"
"Sir!" Data walked up, interrupting. "I have scanned the area completely. While I did not locate the probe, I did discover the base elements that it was made of, in the exact quantities needed." He tilted his head slightly. "I do not know of anything on Chara III that could have reduced it in that manner."
The girl was blushing. Commander Riker turned slowly to look at her. "I don't suppose you can shed any light on this situation, miss?"
"Well, I didn't really mean to do it... I was just kind of experimenting..."
Riker looked down, his shoulders shaking. "I don't suppose you can put it back?"
"I don't... really know how to."
Commander Riker shook his head, then suddenly laughed. "At least we don't have to worry about introducing new technology to the culture. We might as well head back." He tapped his insignia. "Riker to Enterprise. Three to beam up."
Wesley looked at the girl, who was watching them with a rather befuddled look. Nice that she's not the one who knows everything that's going finally. Wonder what she meant, about that geas. Oh, well. The familiar sensation of the transporter beam spread through him. It felt a little different this time, though...
The girl was starting to look slightly panicked. She reached out to them, crying "Wait!" as if her life depended on it. Maybe she doesn't have a way to get home. She can't be native--
Wesley's thought cut off as the away team materialized in Transporter Room 3, and he crumpled on the floor in agony.