"Between Sunset and Darkness"
Author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
beings randomly moving … this is the way the world ends.
Beta: None, but a
tip o’ the ol’ space helmet to “Zeke” at TrekBBS and Five Minute Voyager.
Disclaimer: Star Trek and Enterprise are copyrighted
by Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended or should be inferred. No
money was made from the writing or posting of any content on this site.
Note from Li: Even though this fantastically written story contains only
one scene with Trip and Malcolm, I liked it so much I decided to post it. Please
read it; you won't be disappointed.
When we heard that the Human's world had been destroyed they began to
spinning the prayer wheels all over the planet. Spontaneous parties erupted.
Fion, my crèche mate, came to the house and yelled up to my mate from the
ground. I had been dancing for joy with little Alvina in my arms up in the third
level below the tallest branches. She clung to my fur as I hurried down and
nuzzled Fion in greeting.
"Isn't it wonderful?" he said, his eyes shining. He took my face in his hands
and smoothed the fur out over my cheeks. Then he reached for Alvina, who mewled
with delight. "Let me see this beautiful child," Fion crowed. "Alvina, Alvina,
the most beautiful Arboreal child. You are safe, safe, safe!" And we all laughed
for the sheer joy of it.
Later the communication casts had footage of the destruction. I should not
have watched it. The grinning and posturing of the Primates and the Reptilians
made it worse. At first I was angry that the Weapon development engineering we
Arboreals had performed was not mentioned, but then watching the long-range
views of the green and blue world boiling and flying apart, I felt ashamed. The
Human's planet had a very large dead Moon, almost a binary system. At night they
must have seen it, like a companion, a crèche mate, circling with them around
their sun. I had not known anything about the Human world. I had been glad to
know their home and almost all of them were destroyed, and I had known nothing
We had all felt, we Arboreals, that there had been a rush to accept the
information the Primates and Reptilians had brought us. The physics of the time
traveling messages was not something I had understood. I was only a student of
engineering, and very practical engineering at that, enclosures, and fasteners,
and batteries and field generators. The Primates specialized in theoretical
sciences. They all seemed devious to me. Too smart in a way; too able to bend
reasoning and rationalize. And now we had accepted and gone along with them.
They said billions of beings had lived on that planet.
I left Fion and Bobt at the viewer and climbed outside and clutched the
branches, looking at the stars shining through the leaves. I could hear the
happy sounds of our neighbors. Gathering in their homes, the quiet laughter, and
the relief of the saved.
Fion climbed out with me. "Bobt has had a bit too much to drink; I think he
is feeling amorous for you. I should leave soon." He cocked his head and tried
to get a better view of me in the darkness. "Now wait," Fion said, "You are
upset. What's wrong, my heart?"
"Oh, Fion," I said quietly. "It is wrong to be this happy to see them
destroyed. Even the Primates love their children. Surely these aliens are the
same. How many watched as their little children, like Alvina, died?"
"Shhh," he quieted me and wrapped his long arms around me. "We had to do
this. But we are safe now. It's over now."
It was not over. As the years went by the Primates, the Reptilians, and the
Insectoids were determined to hunt down the Human Colony planets and destroy
them as well. We argued against it, the Aquatics with us. Eventually, their
superior numbers, and aggression, and haste, made us once again unwilling
Fion and I had completed our training. We had a nice little business. Stasis
containers, storage units, for shipboard and planetary uses. Made to meet
specialty uses. We were the leaders in our field. I had made Bobt happy in our
home, and there was another baby. Alvina was in the crèche, quite the young
heart taker, a sharp mind, but also lovely, plump with golden fur.
When we were contacted and required to outfit a small scout ship with stasis
containers and go with the fleet into the Human Sectors, I had refused at first.
"This is insane," I told Fion. "Track the aliens down in tiny groups?"
"They still have their flagship," Fion said, "The Primates say -"
"The Primates say, the Primates say! The aliens are Primates themselves. Why
are we following the Primates? Dirty little monkeys, led around by their
genitals. We ought to have nothing to do with this." I was so angry. "Travel to
the galaxy's end! They can't make us do this," I said hotly.
Fion said bitterly, "They can't if we are willing to have our business
confiscated. Our mates or parents censured. Your child removed from the crèche."
And of course that did it.
The Human colony world was in an orbit closer toward the star. The battle was
ranging in the outer reaches. When we defeated their ships our fleet would
attack the planet with another, newer version of the Weapon. There would be no
remains, so we were forced to do our dirty work as the battle ranged around
The-Left-Defender-Of-The-Long-Tunnel is enraged. She pilots the little ship
between the attacking Reptilian battleships and the vessels of the Humans. "Not
the dead ones! I am better than this! Oh, disgrace, disgrace to pick up dead
We had never understood exactly why the Warrior should be out like this,
alone, so far from the Hive, without other Insectoids. I had always thought they
traveled in groups. But Left Defender is a strange one. Fion had speculated that
she might have been exiled for some crime. She might be mentally unhinged. And
that seems possible. The translator never seems quite right when she is
speaking. The only thing that is clear about her is that she is angry.
I am angry too. I have been angry for months. Fion and I had come close to
again refusing the command. We were willing to lose everything when we had
learned what our stasis containers would be used for and what we were expected
to do as we followed the Fleet. But Fion's parents and my mate Bobt had begged
us and we had relented.
Now light years from home, dodging the brunt of the battle, I wished we had
"Lefty,” I say, "Here! Here's another cluster!"
She maneuvers the ship toward the sensor splotch. Fion confirms, "Yes, more
remains. I'm opening the retrieval bay."
"Bones,” the computer translates Lefty's high pitch chatter. "Dead bones.
Fion and I glance at each other before opening the retrieval bay. It is the
second time. The first capture had been stomach turning. They told us they
wanted intact remains, both male and female specimens. But it didn't seem
possible. On the first retrieval we had found nothing but tissue; burnt, then
frostbitten, with a few shreds of clothing.
This one is worse. "Oh, no," says my dearest heart, "I can't, I can't, I'm
sorry." And Fion scrabbles across the deck away from the bay.
My voice quavers as I say, "I'll do it."
I am wearing protective clothing, an apron and gloves. I made sure the stasis
container was large enough first, and now I lift the Human arm up out of the bay
and into the container. They appear to look like the primates, hairless, and
colored like earth or rocks. But all the intact skin has been burnt by frostbite
to a dead grayish finish.
The rest of it is just bits, like we'd seen before. I take a sampler and
biopsy the arm. The scanner buzzes its data analysis and I down load it into the
memory of the container. Then I close, seal and activate the container and ram
it back into the storage unit, locking it in place.
I peel the gloves off and leave them on the deck. I push myself along the
floor to the bulkhead and lean against Fion's shoulder.
"It was a female,” I say.
I begin to scratch at my facial hair in agitation. "I can't believe they've
blackmailed us into doing this. This is insane! They've got Reptilians boarding
some of these ships; or they will be. Why have they made us do this?"
"Maybe because they can,” Fion says heavily. "Because collecting samples for
a Primate biologist is beneath a Reptilian Warrior. I don't know!"
He howls to me, "I wish we'd never come! I'd rather be on our planet,
homeless and censured than be here."
We cling together for a moment. The ship wildly bucks as once again, Lefty
tries to keep us from annihilation by the weapons of the Humans and the Xindi
"We are eating their flagship. Destroying. We will find something there?"
Left Defender shouts to us.
Fion crawls toward the cockpit. "Let's get this over with. Yes, Lefty, take
us in close. If the frigates manage to hull the Human ship we may be able to
pick up something nearly whole. Then we can leave. Leave."
I come forward too, and latch myself into a safety harness. The smaller,
mobile Reptilian frigates are tracing the big Human star ship with fire. The
Humans are not fighting back; their weapons must have failed. It shouldn't be
As we watch, a small bulge on the giant disk of the ship flies apart. You can
see a flash of light from inside their hull before the little area that had been
breached goes dark, and then a whole segment of the running lights on the ship
disappears from view.
"There," says Lefty, taking us into a turn that mashes me into a corner, my
harness squeezing the breath out of me. "There are more dead bones. We will eat
them." And she moves us into retrieval range of a large blip on the sensor
We get the mass onboard and Lefty takes us out again, away from the Human
flagship. The Reptilians will take it soon. Then the other remaining Human ships
won't have any chance at all. This would be the end perhaps. After we destroy
this colony there will be no Humans left, except, some few, serving on alien
Fion and I get one of the largest storage units ready. We glance at one
another and then open the retrieval bay.
"Thank the Tree and its Roots," says Fion. "There are two of them. Please,
please let them be a male and a female"
The bodies are very nearly intact. One of them has lost its foot, and the
skin of both is discolored by the nearly instant freezing and drying of
There is something very unnerving. "Look," I say, in a hushed voice. "That's
why we got both of them."
The bodies lie on their sides in the bay, one behind the other. One is held
tightly in the arms of the other. The arms of the one behind are under those of
the other, the hands tightly gripped across its chest, the whole body in an
attitude of encirclement, of protection. We elevate the floor of the retrieval
bay flush with the decking. The cold that radiates off of the Humans condenses
the moisture out of the cabin air and beads on their damaged skin.
Fion reaches out and pushes against the shoulders, rolling them more or less
face up. I begin making a visual record. I speak quietly, not in the way I had
when we had taken the earlier remains, "It's unnerving how much they look like
Primate Xindi. The pictures in the briefing, they were so - sketchy - like
looking in a medical text at schematics."
Fion nods. "To think they were both alive only a minute or two ago." He too
speaks very quietly. "Why are they like this?" and then he gestures. "Oh, I see.
He points to the one in the arms of the other. Now we could see the damage to
the clothing, shards of metal and plastic, jutting out, high on the creature's
"It was working at something - controls. They must have exploded or ruptured.
And this one,” Fion gestures now to the figure holding the other, "it was trying
to move the dead one. Maybe to take over for it. Look. Their uniforms are almost
"Not dead. It wasn't dead yet," I counter, and reach out, almost touching
where the wounded one has reached up and clutched, with one hand - I see more
damage, two of the fingers are gone - the uniform of his peer. The fingers grip
the cloth hard.
"So this must have happened, maybe only a few seconds before the compartment
decompressed,” Fion says. "They were still trying to fight on. This one was
trying to replace the other at whatever job it had been doing."
"Or maybe not,” I say. I reach for the biopsy sampler. "Maybe it was trying
to comfort the other one, or save it."
Fion and I glance at one another. The two figures are similar; their clothing
is nearly identical. Perhaps like us. Perhaps they have been working together
all this time, on the Human flagship, for at least twelve years. Perhaps they
were friends, or mates, or like the Primates, a mixture of the two. But it seems
certain that they were unlikely to have had anyone else left except the ones
they served with. They might have seen images very similar to the ones we had
seen, of that planet being torn apart. But it had been their home, and their
I take the one free hand of the four in my own gloved hand. I pause for a
moment before I press the sampler to the wrist and pull the grip to cut out the
biopsy of flesh and bone.
We both wait a moment, and the analyzer buzzes. "It's a male,” I say. "And
look. You can see it has facial hair, like the Primate males do."
Fion's voice rises, "Then maybe the other's a female. Its head has no hair
except the fur on the top and look, its coloration is different - light instead
of dark. Quick, make the sample, my heart. If it’s female we can pull back until
the battle is all over."
I take the sample from the wrist with its back to us, griped hard, holding
this creature's fellow against its own body. It had tried to move him or save
him, and he had, as he was dying, tried to hold on. And then they had both died,
together. I thought of Fion and myself. If I were dying, I would want Fion to
hold me, to help me. A selfish thought. But who wishes to outlive all one's
children, crèche mate, friends? These two Humans had certainly come to that.
What a burden for the one still alive to see this one dying, maybe all around it
dying, as it had seen its planet die before it.
The scanner buzzed. I curse as I read it and hold the screen to Fion.
"Damn! Damn!" He shouts, "Another male! Lefty, Lefty, take us back in
"No. Don't,” I cry, "We'll tell them that we didn't know. I’ll, I'll break
"We haven't gone through all this horror to lose everything we own because we
didn't get them what they wanted."
Left Defender shrills, "What and what? Back? Away? You silly hairy things, it
does not matter to me. Damn Humans; eat their bones!"
Fion shouts, "Back, as quick as you can." And I do not argue.
We ready the stasis chamber, as the ship lurches its way back. Fion and I are
trying to decide how to put the two Human corpses into the chamber when Lefty
screeches, "We are close. Almost." Then the little ship shudders violently,
knocking us both to the deck.
An alarm comes on. A shriek that cuts to the marrow. Fion and I stare at each
other for an instant, then he leaps up and stumbles to Lefty's side.
"Radiation,” Lefty’s chittering translates. "Too much. This vessel's
containment. Cracked, Damaged. Too much radiation.
I get up on my feet. "Fion, what can we do? Can we eject the reactor?"
He comes toward me, and for an instant I think he has stumbled. But instead
he knocks me over into the open stasis chamber. When I try to stand, he pushes
me back, and slams the door shut.
"What are you doing?" I scream, hammering my fists on the walls and lid. "Let
me out, Fion! Fion let me out!" He has not turned on any of the controls. He has
just locked me in.
I press my face against the port in the wall. At first all I see are the dead
Humans still lying on the deck. Then I see Fion's face. He puts his hand on the
port. I can see his mouth moving. I am sure he is saying, "Alvina." And then he
"No," I scream, and call his name again and again. I realize what
he has done. The chambers are insulated. The radiation level inside will be
substantially lower in here, no matter how quickly Fion and Lefty might be able
to eject our reactor. He is trying to make sure I will live.
I pound on the walls, and then I lay still, peering out the port. Where was
he? How close were we to the flagship now under attack? We might all be killed
entirely by accident. I look at the Humans, locked together in their death. I
don't want to die alone in this box.
Why were we all here?
I think, "Someone should have stopped this. Someone should have prevented all
of this from happening."
And then the universe is exploding, and something twists and tears.
Alvina has come to the workshop. She has brought her crèche mate, Zanat,
along with her. Zanet is a good little female. Very bright. I wonder for a
countless time what they both may do when they are grown. Not everyone has a
crèche mate as compatible as are Fion and I.
How different it was when she was born. We had all been so frightened of the
Humans. I shuddered to think what might have happened had we not discovered the
truth with their help. Fion and I calibrate the unit.
"My dearest heart; all done,” I say.
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A handful of people have made comments
um, wow, i guess the trip/malcolm scene was the two dead men. Saddening
really, at least it made the xindi have feelings and proove that theyre not
all bad, Don't juge a book by its cover or a person by its
Cool. Sounds a lil' crass, I know, but I love this sort of gruesome-y type
stuff. And with the other person, methinks the two dead humans were our boys
(which would make perfect sense).
Oooh, wow, that was ... different. But in a really good way! Thanks for
Wow, that was so amazing. Thanks for sharing
Thank you for your kind comments.
Yesterday my beta told me to run out and check the cover story of 14 June
2004 issue of World Weekly (the tabloid newspaper.) She accused me of already
knowing about the dramatic Roswell discovery only revealed this week. She
suggested that it was the inspiration for this story (and not the Enterprise
I feel compelled to deny this. My association with
the Black Ops section of the Pentagon ended long ago, and I have absolutely no
access to Project "Puce." My trips last year in the South Western United
States and my 2003 purchases of excavation and surveying equipment at the
Durango Quality Farm and Fleet have had absolutely nothing to do with these
findings reported in Roswell.
Thank you for your time to set this