Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Dantana Skywalker, Sep 14, 2013.
Great insightful update and love to see them together and speaking about all what happened
Yeah, pretty much.
This was an excellent update.
I loved that they were finally able to have an evening to themselves, and the conversation about Tom Harewood was a long time coming and perfectly spot on the money. For Khan it is that simple - protecting what is his, and I liked the line about Lindy working its way in there too. Tom made a choice for his daughter - the same as Anthea would have made, and it does get hard to draw your lines in that kind of mess they were all in.
"That's just it. I do understand why you did it, and that just makes it harder. I'm not really angry at you, Khan, I'm more . . . I guess I'm just . . . I feel culpable. And I'm angry at myself. It . . . was easier, I think, when I knew that you were gone. It didn't make me feel so guilty. I ran into Rima Harewood, and for a time, we'd both lost our husbands. Thing is, I got you back, and I feel like my family came at the cost of hers."
Wonderful character exploration there - in the whole update, really.
This was just a lovely update, all around!
Sorry for the delay in my reply. I have, yet again, been ill.
Thanks! I thought it was finally time they discuss some things. Anthea's been letting it simmer for a couple of years, and it finally came out. (Keeping the timeline straight on this is so confusing, especially since the seasons are reversed on Sitara...) I don't think Khan would put up with getting yelled at like that by anyone but his wife.
They returned to the suite, and found Kati and Yves at the table in the living area, eating room service. Nolan was sound asleep on the sofa, with his little pillow and blanket, his thumb in his mouth.
Anthea gave her sister-in-law a small wave, checked briefly on her son, and pulled Khan into the bedroom. Inside, she locked the door and activated the soundproof shielding.
Khan tugged her against him from behind, hands sliding over the silky material of her dress. He dipped his head and grazed his teeth against her neck and she shuddered.
"Khan," she breathed.
"Do you remember the first time we made love?" he asked. His voice was low and raspy, his breath a hot wash over her skin.
"I do," she breathed. "How could I forget? I'd never had an experience like that in my life."
"Mmm. It's always good with you."
He bit down a little harder on the curve of her shoulder. "Not what I asked."
She chortled. "Are you really asking what it was like with Kirk?"
Khan licked the side of her neck. "I explained Harewood. You owe me."
"Right now, though? In the middle of this?"
Anthea turned in his arms. "It was . . . adequate, I suppose. I was lonely, I hadn't had sex in nearly a year. But he wasn't you. No one else could ever be you."
He caught the fabric of her dress in his hands and lifted it up her thighs. "If you let anyone else touch you, Anthea, I will skin the man alive."
"I don't want anyone but you, Khan. If I'd known you were alive, he wouldn't have gotten anywhere near me."
"Why did you? Of everyone in the world, why him?"
She slid her hands up his arms. "I don't know. Because he was there when I broke? Because he was . . . sympathetic? I was lonely and I missed you, I thought you were dead, and no one had touched me in so long. I also had post-partum depression."
Khan sat on the foot of the bed and pulled her to sit on his lap, straddling his legs with her skirt around her hips. "I'm not angry at you for it," he told her. "I know I've said it before, but I am not angry. Possessive, yes. Jealous, certainly. I don't want to share any part of you with someone else."
"It wasn't anything like we have," she whispered. "It was just need in the moment. It wasn't this."
Anthea slid her fingers into his too-long hair and kissed him. Khan's hands caressed her back as he returned the kiss with equal fervour. When his tongue slipped between her lips, Anthea moaned and fisted her hands in his shirt.
Khan twisted, rolling to deposit Anthea on her back on the bed. He knelt over her, propped up just enough that his weight wasn't on her belly.
"I want you close," she sighed. "The baby's in the way."
"It's only for a few more months," he told her. He rubbed his hand over her belly.
He pressed his lips to her ear. "I love you, my Thea," he breathed. "You are my only love, in any lifetime."
She turned her head. Khan rose on one arm, just enough that he could lean over to kiss her.
"You know you're the only one for me," she breathed against his lips. "I've never loved anyone but you."
Khan wrapped a lock of her hair around his finger. "Let me show you how much I adore you."
A noise at the bedroom door woke Khan sometime later. He lay there for several moments, trying to identify what had woken him. When the sound came again, he recognized it as small hands slapping the door, and a plaintive cry of "Mama?"
Khan slipped out of bed, leaving Anthea softly snoring, and pulled on his pants. At the door, he unlocked and opened it to find a tearful Nolan there.
"Mama!" the toddler blubbered, hiccuping mid-cry.
Khan picked up his son and stepped into the living area, closing the door with one hand behind him. "Shhh. Mummy's sleeping."
Nolan rested his head on his father's chest and heaved a sigh that shook his small body. He jammed his thumb in his mouth. "Dada," he mumbled.
Khan brushed his lips against his son's dark hair. "Back to bed, my boy."
Moving to the sofa, Khan retrieved Nolan's blanket and stretched out, his head against the arm, with Nolan reclined on his chest. He draped the blanket over the toddler.
"Did you have a bad dream?" he asked in a whisper.
"Uh-huh." Nolan shuddered and hiccuped again. "Dwagons."
"Hush, beta. There are no dragons here, and if they should come, I will protect you."
Khan placed his hand on Nolan's small back, aware that it covered nearly the whole. His daughter would be so small when she arrived!
He'd always known in a theoretical way that he wanted to have children, at least an heir to his kingdom. But Khan had never truly put thought into it, even when he and Anthea had briefly discussed it at the start of their marriage. Waking six months ago to find that he had a child had been a revelation.
Being a parent hadn't come naturally to him, at first. But now, as he soothed his son, he wondered how he'd ever felt awkward in the role. He wouldn't trade a moment spent with his son for anything. Still, the thought of holding his newborn daughter was daunting. Khan was not used to the feeling.
Nolan was limp now, returned to sleep in the easy way children have. Khan ruffled the child's dark hair, the strands silky and soft.
"You will have everything I did not," he promised in a whisper. "As much safety as I can manage, and two parents who love you very much. You will not grow up wondering if you were wanted, or if you were only an experiment. No one will use you, or force you to do terrible things. You'll grow up free, with family all around you. I promise."
And if anyone threatened his family again, Khan would make them regret it immensely before he killed them.
Her footsteps echoed in the large, empty room, her boots clicking on the bare cement floor. It was dark, the blackness broken only by a blue light at the other end of the chamber. She approached it, heart pounding in her chest as she recognized the cryopod that slowly came into focus.
What was she doing here? She'd removed all the cryopods, taken Khan and his people to Sitara. Hadn't she?
Her blood was a loud rush in her ears as she reached the pod. It had the same serial number on it as Khan's. She should know; she'd run her fingers over it enough times in the month she'd had him hidden away on the Reliance.
She looked down, into the face inside, and she screamed. An empty, shrivelled husk stared back at her, mouth open and grimacing, eyes dark holes in the rotted skull. Black hair clung in wispy strings to the dessicated scalp.
She was too late. The ancient technology had failed, and-
Anthea woke with a start, half upright in bed, hand pressed to her thumping heart. It took her a moment to realised she was awake, and it had just been a nightmare.
She shuddered and dragged her fingers through her hair. Unfortunately, it wasn't the first time she'd had the dream. She'd had variants of it since even before she'd located Khan and his people in the bunker on Starfleet's base. They'd gone away recently, replaced by the occasional nightmare about being kidnapped by Klingons.
"Stupid dream," she breathed.
Still, she was surprised, nightmare aside, to find herself feeling really rested for the first time in weeks. She wasn't surprised to find Khan absent from the bed, since he usually rose much earlier than she did. But a glance at the clock on the nightstand told her it was earlier than she usually did.
She got out of bed and pulled her robe around her, intending to seek out her husband. In the living area, she found Khan sound asleep on the sofa, Nolan snuggled close. Anthea couldn't help but smile at the sight of the former warlord with a toddler cuddled in his arms. It was almost as cute as the time she'd caught her husband playing peek-a-boo with Nolan.
She watched them sleep for several moments, then sat on the edge of the sofa. Khan woke when the cushion dipped under her, and he blinked a few times before his eyes focused.
"What are you doing out here?" she asked in a low voice.
"Nolan had a nightmare."
Anthea ran her fingers through Khan's hair. "Come back to bed. Bring him."
Khan sat up and followed Anthea back to the bedroom. Nolan didn't stir, even when Khan placed him on the bed between them.
"I love watching you with him," his wife whispered, as they got settled. "There was a time I thought he'd never know you, and it hurt."
He gently smoothed the feathery locks of hair on their child's head. "He is so precious to me. When I think of not being there, for the two of you, I ache."
Anthea caught his hand. "You're here now, and you're going to be here."
Khan turned her hand, brought it to his mouth and kissed her palm. "Always."
Once everyone was finally up--at an hour more decent than the ones Khan usually rose at--they ate breakfast and set back out to browse the market and pick up supplies.
Anthea lagged a little behind the group, dawdling to show Nolan bright and colourful things. Kati and Marla were buddies again, Barton following his girlfriend silently. Khan had split off some time before, to take care of something or other, and with Yves at Kati's side, Anthea was essentially by herself, her son notwithstanding.
A store window caught her eye. Excusing herself, Anthea ducked into the small jewelry shop, Nolan at her hip. The place wasn’t much to look at, really, as far as decor went, but the wares were stunning. Necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, and a few things she couldn’t identify were crammed into and onto every available space.
“Can I help you find anything?”
The proprietor was a wizened, old Eloran, skin pink and wrinkled, hair a white ring above his downturned, pointed ears. Shiny, dark eyes regarded her from under bushy white brows.
“Maybe,” she said. “I’m . . . looking for something for my husband. Our anniversary is coming up, and I want to get him something nice.”
“What kind of things does he wear?”
“To be honest, he doesn’t wear jewelry of any kind. But I’d like to . . . get him a wedding ring. I never got him one when we married, it was all a bit sudden.”
The old man nodded with a smile. “Come, I have many. I am Wyrizan. What is your name, lovely lady? And your child?”
“Thea,” she said. “And this is Nolan.”
“Hi!” Nolan piped. “My mama!”
Wyrizan’s smile broadened. “Yes, she is your mama, isn’t she?”
He pulled a small toy off a shelf and offered it, to give Nolan something to do while Anthea shopped.
“Do you have children yourself?” she found herself asking.
“Six sons and four daughters,” he confirmed. “And forty grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.”
She was impressed. “That’s quite a lot!”
“When you reach nearly two hundred . . .” Wyrizan began, and trailed off, as he began picking through trays of rings stacked in a transparent display counter. “Let’s see here. Tell me about your husband.”
“Oh, where to begin? He’s . . .”
The shop bell rang as the door opened again, admitting Yves. “Here’s where you disappeared to!” he said. “We wondered.”
“Is this your husband?” Wyrizan inquired.
Anthea laughed. “No, this is Yves, he’s my sister-in-law’s significant other. I’m trying to find something for Khan, but I haven’t the faintest idea where to begin.”
Yves’s hazel eyes flicked to the trays of rings. “Ahh. You seek a wedding ring, oui? Taking to heart Kati’s idea of renewing your vows?”
“She told you about that?”
He nodded, eyes searching the displays. “Actually, this is good, that I find you here. Perhaps, ehm . . . You can help me choose something.”
She grinned. “For Kati? Planning on asking her something?”
“. . . Oui, yes. I know it is soon, but . . .”
“I understand completely,” Anthea said. “How about you help me find something for Khan, and I’ll help you with something for Kati?”
“Deal,” the Frenchman said, looking relieved.
Sometime later, they left the shop, Anthea with a ring for Khan, Yves with one for Kati. He’d chosen a large, teardrop-cut blue stone, similar to a sapphire, surrounded by tiny, sparkling white stones Anthea had already forgotten the name of. As far as she was concerned, they were diamonds.
The ring she’d chosen for Khan was silver-toned palladium and rose gold, a sunburst riveted between the hammered palladium bands, set with a small, square ruby. It was unusual but she thought it fit her husband’s sense of style well. She wasn't sure it was his size, but Wyrizan had said they could easily resize it for him.
She just had to locate Khan and give it to him.
The group had gathered outside at a nearby food vendor. Khan had rejoined them, and she smiled on seeing him. Anthea's gaze landed on Kati, and she had a brilliant idea.
She looped her arm through her sister-in-law’s. “I’m stealing you for a bit. Khan, would you keep Yves occupied for a bit? We need to do girl stuff.”
Her husband arched a brow. “Yes, fine. But be careful.”
Kati frowned as Anthea dragged her off. “Where are we going?”
“We’re conspiring. Or, rather, I’m making you get something. Come with me.”
She guided Kati to Wyrizan’s shop. The Eloran smiled broadly. “Ah, you are back!”
“Wyrizan, this is Kati. Wyrizan helped me choose a ring for Khan. Yves helped, too.”
“That is . . . good, I suppose. Why am I here?” Kati inquired.
Anthea hauled her towards the counter. “Do you have those items still set aside?”
“Oh, of course! You have only been gone a few minutes!”
Wyrizan pulled out a selection of rings, all the men’s rings Anthea had noticed Yves lingering over when he thought she wasn’t looking, ones he’d tried on himself.
“Choose something for Yves,” she said to Kati. “Because who knows when we’ll be near a jeweler again?”
Her sister-in-law looked at her with big, brown eyes. “You think . . .?”
“Just trust me on this.”
Kati turned her attention to the jewelry, agonising over it in silence for a long while. Finally, she selected a silver one with a scatter of white and blue gems.
"Are you trying to tell me something?" Kati asked in a whisper, as they left.
"I'm just saying, it's best to be prepared. And act surprised if Yves asks you anything."
Kati snorted. "As if that would really be a surprise."
Khan waited by the door. Anthea saw that Yves was, indeed occupied: Khan had given Pandu something shiny, and Yves was trying to get it away from the baby. "And what are you two doing?" he asked.
"Stuff," his wife said. She grinned. "I was . . . assisting a certain couple in accessorizing."
She took his hand. "Actually, I got you something, too. I considered waiting to give it to you, but if it doesn't fit . . ."
Anthea pulled out the ring she'd bought him. "Here. You gave me something, and I never . . . got anything for you."
Khan realised immediately what it was, and what it represented. He let her slide the ring onto his finger. She'd judged well; it fit perfectly. And the style was admittedly something he would have chosen for himself.
"Thank you," he said, and was a little surprised to find his voice thick with emotion.
She smiled, and stood on her toes to kiss him.
As they drew apart, the ground beneath them rumbled. A second later, the sound of a distant explosion reached them. And not far away, someone screamed.
Nolan latched onto Anthea's leg, eyes huge with fright.
"What's going on?" she asked.
Khan frowned. "I don't know, but I have a feeling we're about to find out."
What a way to come back with a bang! Lets see if I can get out everything I enjoyed about this update . . .
First off, the Kirk jealousy was spot on and wonderfully written. Possessive-Khan is always a treat to read, I'm not going to lie. But the Nolan waking him up with the nightmare was just the highlight of the chapter for me. This -
He'd always known in a theoretical way that he wanted to have children, at least an heir to his kingdom. But Khan had never truly put thought into it, even when he and Anthea had briefly discussed it at the start of their marriage. Waking six months ago to find that he had a child had been a revelation.
Being a parent hadn't come naturally to him, at first. But now, as he soothed his son, he wondered how he'd ever felt awkward in the role. He wouldn't trade a moment spent with his son for anything. Still, the thought of holding his newborn daughter was daunting. Khan was not used to the feeling. ....
"You will have everything I did not," he promised in a whisper. "As much safety as I can manage, and two parents who love you very much. You will not grow up wondering if you were wanted, or if you were only an experiment. No one will use you, or force you to do terrible things. You'll grow up free, with family all around you. I promise."
- that whole part. I couldn't even cut it down for quoting it - I looked at the screen just smiling for a moment after reading that. Once again, for Khan, family and his people are everything to him, and they are the core of his motivations. You capture that perfectly in this story, and it really, really gives a fully developed dimension to Khan that I love.
The gift of a ring was just perfect - the ring dealer himself was a treat, at that - and I am so glad that Yves and Kati are going to be moving forward in their relationship as well. That gave me quite a few smiles to read, as well.
But the end there! Yikes! Although, we have gone a bit without an explosion or two, so I had a feeling that something was going to happen soon. It just wouldn't be Khan's story otherwise.
Khan is a great leader; both of his people and his family and it's great to see this side of his personality.
The bit with the nightmare wasn't anything I planned. It just happened as I was writing. Khan's gradually becoming more of a hands-on father. I think, at first, that he was always concerned with "I don't know how to do this!" but then he realised that he doesn't have to. He just has to be there for Nolan.
Yves and Kati are an interesting dynamic for me. I'm never really sure what's going through their heads, not like I know Khan and Anthea.
And yes, explosions! Long overdue explosions!
We really didn't get to see much of Khan besides all that cold rage in STID. Interestingly, at an Q&A thing Benedict Cumberbatch was at this month (Elementary Con in Birmingham, England), he pretty much voiced what I've always said: Khan is capable of both great rage and great joy. All we saw was a slice of his pain and anger. We didn't get to see him when he's happy, and Benedict agrees with me that when Khan is free and safe, he's a happy person, because he feels things more than normal people do. (This was accompanied by a huge, childlike grin as his "impression" of "Happy Khan".)
It didn't take long. Elorans and tourists alike ran from the commotion, in all directions. Khan caught the arm of an Eloran man.
"Some soldiers beamed in, and began shooting!" he said, and wrenched free to keep running.
Khan reached under his hip-length jacket and withdrew his phaser. Barton did the same.
"Make for the ship," their leader said tersely.
No one argued. Anthea scooped up Nolan and hurried after her husband.
Soon, though, they realised that whatever was going on was between them and the Reliance. Khan swore when it occurred to him.
"Now what?" his wife asked.
"I guess we see who's causing it," he sighed. "And, if possible, shoot them in the head and make them stop."
Barton, his very taciturn soldier, snorted. "Good plan, boss."
Anthea drew her own phaser, suddenly aware that Yves, Kati, and Marla weren't armed. Nolan, though, was her biggest concern. He clung to her, hands fisted in her shirt.
"Dwagons!" he wailed.
"No, sweetheart, not dragons," she said, trying to soothe him. "No dragons here."
By Asimov, it'd better not be Klingons again!
Khan directed them to skirt the commotion. He led the way, Barton followed in the rear. They had to dodge fleeing townfolk as they made their way closer.
Now they could hear phaser fire. Anthea steeled herself, though her palm was sweaty on her weapon.
"What do you think?" she asked Khan. "Klingons?"
He shook his head. "Nor Romulans. We're too far from their border, and the frequencies aren't the same. The signature is off." Khan tapped his ear.
"It's a little scary that you can tell that," she remarked.
"I've had too much experience with Klingons," he muttered.
"You never have told me how much," she murmured.
Khan spared her a glance. "Who do you think blew up Praxis?"
He gestured with his head. "Come on."
They continued, fighting their way forward through the rush of people. Then, all at once, they found their way blocked.
Five figures stood before them, all in black and pale of skin, with strange devices on their faces. Two of them held large guns. After a moment, Anthea realised their arms were the guns.
"Halt," the lead one said. "We are Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated."
Khan stared at them for a long moment. "Anthea," he said, "when I say, turn around and run."
"I'm not leaving-"
"Darling, don't argue with me right now."
She gulped. There was iron in his voice, harder than she'd ever heard before. "Okay."
Barton stepped up beside Khan, phaser at the ready.
The lead "Borg", whatever that was, stepped forward.
"Run!" Khan barked, and opened fire.
Anthea spun on one heel and bolted. Nolan screamed in fright, but she couldn't spare a moment to comfort him. If Khan thought she needed to run, she would.
They fled into the crowds of Elorans still trying to escape. With the way the city streets twisted and turned, it only took a few moments before they were out of sight. Anthea scanned frantically for cover, not knowing who the enemy was or what they were capable of.
At last, she spotted a half-closed shop, the door left ajar. Taking an abrupt right, she dashed across the street and barrelled into it, hitting the door with her shoulder and knocking it open so hard it bounced off the wall.
Kati, Yves, and Marla tumbled in behind her. She handed Nolan to Yves.
"Shhh," she said to her little boy. "It's alright. We need to be quiet now, like we were with the dragons. Remember?"
Nolan clamped his mouth shut and nodded, his tear-reddened eyes wide.
"Go to the back," she told the others. "If I'm right, this place has shielding for the merchandise. I just need a moment to find it."
"But-" Kati began.
Kati nodded and ran into the back room.
Anthea closed the front door, which, she realised, had a broken latch. Lovely. She began frantically studying the controls on the panel by the point-of-sale system. Half of it was in Eloran, which she couldn't read.
Outside, a man screamed. It sounded like it came from the direction she'd so reluctantly left Khan, and she hoped it wasn't her husband. Her hands shook as she tried to figure out the controls.
She got the window shades to close and lock, mostly by randomly poking buttons. Gritting her teeth, she muttered, "What I wouldn't give for a translator right now!"
The door swung open, and Anthea swung the phaser up-
-and nearly shot her husband in the head. She let go of the trigger so fast that she dropped the phaser.
"Thank you," he said wryly.
Khan grabbed the nearest shelf and dragged it as best he could to block the broken door. Then he joined her at the counter.
"Where's Barton?" she asked.
He shook his head, and she remembered the scream.
It only took Khan seconds to figure out the controls. He typed something in and blast doors slammed down over the front door and the window.
"Excellent," she sighed.
Khan hauled her into the back with the others. Before they'd completely crossed the threshold into the storage area, an explosion rocked the building and the shielding over the front window buckled. They ducked into the darkness half a second before it gave under a second blast.
Khan put himself between his family and the door, pressing Anthea and Nolan into the corner. Across the room, Yves did similar for Kati and Pandu. Marla crouched low, behind a stack of boxes where she'd taken refuge.
"What are they?" Anthea breathed.
"I do not know," her husband admitted. "But they have Barton. I killed one, but I couldn't reach him. Now hush."
They were well-hidden in the shadows, but that didn't stop Anthea's heart from skipping a beat when the mechanised figure paused outside the now-open window, scanning with its optical sensor.
Please go away, she prayed, holding Nolan tighter. Please, please don't find us.
Long seconds ticked by. One, then another. Five. Ten.
Then the thing turned and, with gears loudly whining, marched off.
No one moved for nearly an hour. Anthea's legs had gone to sleep by the time Khan finally stepped back, rising from his crouch with no effort. She didn't know how he managed.
"I think they're gone," he murmured. "I haven't heard anything for a while."
She rose stiffly, leaning against the wall, and hissed as the circulation was restored to her lower limbs. "What are we going to do about Barton?"
"They took him alive, as far as I'm aware, so my plan is to get to the ship, get the sniper rifles out of the locker, and go hunting."
Khan got the door open, and stepped out to check if things were clear. Nothing moved. He waved them forward.
They ran full-tilt for the ship, but nothing stopped them. They encountered plenty of dead Elorans, but not the Borg creatures.
Since the medbay was the most-shielded part of the ship, Khan herded everyone in there. Then he made Anthea sit on one of the beds.
"Hive mind," she said breathlessly, suddenly. "They're some kind of hive mind."
Khan frowned, automatically checking her pulse with two fingers to her neck. "What do you mean?"
"Those Borg things. They said 'We are Borg', and when the first noticed us, without signalling to the others, they all turned, too." She shook her head. "I don't have any idea what Borg are, I've never heard of them, but the way they appeared, they've got transportation abilities. Which means they have warp. No explorations of the Beta Quadrant, to my knowledge, have run into this before. I researched everything I could before choosing Sitara, I would remember Borg."
Khan nodded to Yves, who took over, scanning Anthea with his tricorder. "Take deep breaths," the doctor told her. "Your heartrate is too high."
"Of course it is, I just ran for my life!" Anthea batted at him. "Just give me a minute, I'll be fine."
Marla had pulled out her sketchbook and was rapidly drawing something. She was ghost-white and shaking, but it seemed to calm her. "Pale skin," she murmured to herself. Louder, she said, "They said something about assimilation. What do you think that means?"
"My guess," Khan said, "is that, if Anthea is correct about the hive mind, they turn captives into drones, thus assimilating them. Judging from the electronics attached to them, they're a form of cyborg."
"Ergo, Borg," Anthea continued. "You took one of them out. Do you think . . . they'll replace it with Barton?"
Her husband looked grim. "That would be my assumption, yes."
Marla snapped her pencil and threw her sketchbook on the ground. Without a word, she sat on the floor and began sobbing.
Anthea watched her for a moment, then turned to Khan. "What now?"
He sighed. "I'm suddenly too-aware of our conversation at dinner. I'm afraid, love, I'm going to need Agent Mackintosh to come out of retirement."
"Harrison," she corrected.
"If we're going to do this, might as well do it properly. Commander." Then she frowned. "We have to complete my transition."
Her husband stared at her. "Now? We don't even know that it will work."
"Well, I'm not going out there like this," she argued.
"You are not going out there at all!" Kati objected.
Khan studied his wife for several long moments, then nodded. "Yves, get some adrenaline."
The doctor dashed across the medbay and began rummaging.
"Why you?" Kati asked her sister-in-law.
"You're not trained for combat," Anthea pointed out. "Yves is our doctor. Marla is useless. And someone needs to look out for the children. And I'm not sending Khan out alone."
She rolled up her sleeved in preparation for the hypo. "Besides," she added, "only one of us in this room was trained as an assassin, and it's none of you."
Kati's brown eyes bugged. "What?!"
Anthea sighed. "In Starfleet. I went through the bloody awful training with Starfleet Intelligence. I'm good at killing people, though I hate doing it. I never talked about it, but I wasn't just the archive administrator. Or one of them, anyway. I was also the guard dog in case anyone made it past Security who shouldn't be there. Not even my best friend, who also worked there, knew. I was the assistant to nearly everyone in the facility, I had the third-highest clearance in the entire building, and my job was to not only run errands for the engineers, but to quietly escort intruders into the pit and dispose of them. Only had to do that twice in four years, but still."
The memory was still a little ball of ice in her stomach. She forced it away. Khan, at her side, brushed his lips against her hair.
Yves came over with the prepped hypo. "You are certain about this?" he asked.
She swallowed. "We have to try. I mean, I've been recovering faster, and . . ."
Yves nodded. Anthea reclined on the bed. As a precaution, Khan secured the safety straps across her chest and legs.
Kati took Nolan over to the other side of the room, to distract him. Marla had stopped crying, but was still curled up on the floor. It was probably best not to bother her.
Khan took Anthea's hand. As an added backup, Yves had brought over a vial of Khan's concentrated blood cells. If something went wrong, the doctor would inject her with it.
"I'm beginning to feel like a pin cushion," Khan joked.
"Tell me about it," Anthea murmured.
"Ready?" the doctor asked.
"As I'll ever be."
Yves pressed the hypo to her upper arm.
Whew! What a rollicking update of a chapter!
I loved the appearance of the Borg here - two of the biggest and baddest of the Trek villains are about to go face to face here, and I am enjoying every word of it. You definitely had the adrenaline and the seriousness of the situation down with your action sequence, and then, my heart just about broke for Barton. I really, truly hope that Khan can get him back before any lasting harm is done - they have come too far to loose another one of their ranks after everything else that has happened.
Now, I am really interested to see Anthea's skills mix with her new set of abilities. This is going to be very interesting indeed.
Another wonderful update, and I cannot wait for more.
Great inclusion of the Borg into Khan's world. It's definitely going to be an epic battle between them.
Stay safe from the Borg and get out before they assimilate you
At first, I was like, "But I don't wanna do the Borg. No. Not gonna. Can't make me!" But I couldn't see a way around it.
I've had most of this written since September, I just haven't typed it up. I can't say too much about what's coming. Don't wanna give any spoilers.
I hope it is! I suck at writing battles and fights, though.
It took a few seconds for the adrenaline to kick in. When it did, Anthea bowed off the bed, held down only by the straps, as every muscle in her body seized. Her eyes rolled back and she sucked in a huge breath.
Her hand convulsed around Khan's. He felt her heartrate spike and race, but she hadn't let out that breath.
"Anthea?" he asked anxiously.
She collapsed, gasping for air, then almost immediately jerked again, breathing stopping a second time as her diaphragm convulsed.
Yves eyed her vitals. "That is odd. Her blood pressure is . . . normal. Heart rate is high, but . . . I expected that. Adrenaline does that. And her oxygen level is still above ninety-three."
He reached over and tapped her on the chest, trying to get her to release the breath she'd taken. Abruptly, Anthea began breathing again, panting a little, and her eyes opened. Her face was flushed, and she looked a little dazed.
Anthea stared at the ceiling for a moment, then two. She let out a shuddery breath. Blinking rapidly, she looked at Khan. "That . . . hurt,"she rasped.
"How do you feel?" he asked gently.
Anthea didn't answer immediately. She twisted her arms and tugged at the straps. Khan released them, and she sat up unaided.
Yves ran the tricorder over her. "Her vitals are all perfect," the doctor said, sounding startled. "I think it worked."
She stretched, still silent. Then she paused, and looked up at the ceiling again. "The light over bed two is burning out. We need to replace it."
"What?" Khan looked up at the light in question. It took a second for him to notice the faint buzz of a dying a bulb.
He looked back at his wife, who smirked.
"Did it work?" he asked her.
Anthea slid off the bed and stood, not wavering in the slightest. It had been so long since Khan had seen her steady on her feet that it was unnerving.
"I feel . . . great," she said after a few seconds. "Really great. Different. Not like I did when I woke up after the coma. I don't have the jitters. I feel as though everything is in focus, though. How on earth do you concentrate if you can see everything?"
"You learn to filter," her husband said mildly. "So you don't feel sick?"
She shook her head. "Not in the slightest. Not even a tinge of morning sickness. No light-headedness, no dizziness. I don't feel weak anywhere. Not like I did, you know?"
Anthea looked down at Marla, still on the floor. She bent and with one hand, lifted the other woman to her feet by her arm. "I think you should sedate her. I'm going to change into something more appropriate for Borg hunting."
Khan followed Anthea into their cabin. "You're absolutely certain you're fine?"
His wife pause in stripping off her shirt. "I know what you're thinking. I was great for a few hours after I woke up from the coma. But this feels so different. I can't put it into words."
She flexed her hands. "The tremors are gone. My head doesn't feel fuzzy. I feel . . . so full of energy," she told him. "It doesn't feel like the bursts of strength did. Those completely wiped me."
He still seemed uncertain. "I don't want to take you out there and find it's only temporary. This feels too easy."
She shrugged. "Even if it is temporary, we don't have any other option. We have to get Barton back. And I don't feel comfortable letting those things roam around here unchecked."
Khan snorted. "We're not here to police anyone."
"No," she said slowly, thinking of Wyrizan. "But I can't grab him and walk away."
Anthea pulled on stretchy leggings, a long-sleeved black tunic, and a dark grey jacket. She slipped her feet into her old Starfleet uniform boots. Khan observed, remembering when he'd lie in bed, watching her dress for work. He hadn't seen her dress like this since she'd revived him.
Her movements were smoother than he'd seen in weeks, faster and steadier. Before, even after she'd woken from the coma and had been so strong for those few hours, she'd hadn't moved like this. It gave him hope that it had finally worked.
Sighing to himself, he changed into a similar outfit. "It's a shame I lost my arms dealer clothes on the Enterprise," he said. "I loved that coat."
His wife laughed. "We'll find you a replacement."
Anthea pulled her hair back in a tight ponytail. She stopped, stripped off the jacket, and fished a double shoulder holster from her luggage. Khan arched a raven brow.
"Belt doesn't fit at present," she explained. "I had this made for me when I was pregnant with Nolan."
She put the jacket back on over the empty holster. "I'm going to raid the weapons locker. You want a phaser rifle, or-"
"Hand phaser and rifle," her husband said. "I'll let the others know we're going."
Anthea nodded. She trotted down the corridor, marvelling at the change and how great she felt. It was surreal. And, as Khan had said, it felt too easy.
Please don't be temporary, she thought as she unlocked the door to their weapons cache. Let this stick. I can't go back to how it's been.
Inside the locker were a store of hand phasers and rifles, power packs, and things raided from the Klingons, like disruptors. They kept the weapons locked up so that Nolan couldn't play with them when they weren't being used.
Anthea pulled out one of the rifles Khan had personally modified, ones she'd helped design when they'd worked together for Section 31. She chose one for herself and strapped it across her body, letting it sit at her right hip. A hand phaser for Khan, one for herself--this went under her right arm--and a spare power pack each, which she slipped into her jacket pockets.
"Having difficulty choosing?"
"Nope. Just about done."
She stood on her toes and grabbed a box off one of the shelves, shoved to the very back. It was keyed to open only to her or her husband's thumbprints. It hadn't originally held what it did now; at first, it had been a courier box for plans "John Harrison" needed to work on outside the London facility.
Anthea swung the lid up. Inside were nestled two weapons that resembled a phaser, only more square, and several oblong objects. Khan, leaning over her shoulder, sucked in a breath.
"Those look like . . ."
"They're the only working handguns manufactured since 2097," Anthea told him. "I had them made by a fellow at Smith-Tennant who owed me a favour. They're incredibly illegal, and the only bullets in existence for them are right here."
Khan lifted one out of the box. "Polymer material," he commented. "Lightweight. How's the recoil?"
"Almost non-existent. There's some, but there's a shock-absorbing chamber inside that stores the excess energy as a secondary phaser bolt." She picked up the other gun and showed him the switch. "You can store it, or fire immediately. So it's twelve bullets, twelve phaser shots per cartridge."
Her husband eyed her. "And how did you come up with this?"
She shrugged. "I asked for the guns. Milford came up with the phaser part."
Anthea pulled out two magazines and put them in her other pocket. "It's a bit ironic, you know."
"Last night, I was moaning about how I don't use my skills. And here I'm about to."
"Be careful what you wish for," her husband replied darkly. "Come on."
Yves finished strapping down the sedated Marla. He glanced up as Kati came in with a pile of blankets and Nolan's tribble.
"If we are to shelter here because of the shielding," she said, "my nephew will need his comforts."
At the moment, Nolan sat on the floor with one of his action figures, seemingly unconcerned that his parents had disappeared. Yves watched as Kati built a little nest for the boy.
As soon as Nolan saw Spot, he crawled into the makeshift bed and hugged the ball of fur.
Kati grinned. "Do I know him, or what?"
The doctor smiled. "You do. You make an excellent mother."
"Mm." She fetched Pandu from the portable crib she was borrowing from Anthea and put him in the sling around her torso. Her adopted son burrowed his little face against her, fisted his hand in her shirt, and went back to sleep.
Yves slid his arm around her waist and rested his chin in her shoulder, looking down at the sleeping baby. "Do you think we are moving too fast, mon amour?"
Kati turned just enough to look at him. "For what, Yves? If anything, we have moved too slow."
He sighed and rolled his shoulders. "I see Khan and Anthea, and while it is obvious they care deeply for each other, at times I think they still do not know each other. They married quickly, while he pretended to be another man."
"Which they are working on," she pointed out. "Yves, priyatama, we know each other. We have done for years. And is that not part of it, learning about each other continually?"
"I suppose." He kissed her cheek.
Kati smoothed the wispy white hair on Pandu's head. "How long have you known about Anthea?"
Yves straightened, sensing danger. "Known what about Anthea?"
"Her past as an assassin."
"Four people is hardly a career as an assassin," he told her. "But I have known . . . for some time. I am her physician. She has . . . scars from her 'training', as she calls it. We discussed how she got them. But it is her story to tell, Kati, not mine."
"I do not like that she is doing this."
"Nor should you. But it is the only choice we have, non?"
Kati glanced over at Nolan, now asleep with the tribble in his pudgy grasp. "Why did she not tell me?"
"She has not truly discussed it with Khan, either," Yves said. "Unless they did yesterday. She finds it difficult to speak of. As you would, I believe. Surely, you cannot fault her for not wishing to confide that she was forced to kill people."
She shook her head. "No, I suppose not."
He tightened his arms around her. "It will be fine. Khan is the best fighter we have. Barton . . . was not."
"You think he is dead?"
He was quiet for a long moment. "I think that it might be better for him if he were."
Khan and Anthea ran into a patrol of Eloran law enforcement not long after they left the ship.
"Stop!" one of them shouted. "Put your hands in the air and drop your weapons!"
Anthea arched a brow at Khan. "Let me handle this," she said.
He smirked. "Go ahead."
Hands raised to shoulder level, Anthea turned to the officers. "Good morning, officers. I'm afraid I can't drop the rifle, it's strapped on. My name is Thea Singh, this is my husband, John. I believe we met some of you yesterday when we were attacked by some muggers?"
The Elorans exchanged glances, then one nodded.
"Why are you armed?" one asked.
". . . Because I was attacked by muggers yesterday, and today there are alien soldiers attacking your people," she said. "Seriously? What idiot would be out and about without a phaser or two?"
Anthea thought for a moment, unable to think of another way to get them to trust them. "Look. My husband and I are trained for this kind of stuff. And they've taken one of our companions. We've already eliminated one of the invaders. We'd like to get our man back and get rid of the rest so you can get back to living peacefully. It's what we do, so to speak."
She knew without looking that Khan was remembering his days as a "peace keeping soldier", one of an army bred to quell any insurgence.
The Elorans conferred amongst themselves, then the defacto leader nodded. "We would appreciate any assistance. They have already killed many of our people."
"I know, and I am very sorry. I promise that we'll do everything we can to eliminate this threat."
They parted ways with the police force and continued on their way. Khan said, "First the Brinthi, now the Elorans. I don't wish to be the peace keeper for this part of the galaxy."
"For one, it attracts too much attention," his wife sighed. "Come on, let's head back to where we last saw them, see if we can track them from there."
They walked in silence for a moment, then Khan swore.
"Cyborgs, yes? Hence the name 'Borg'. They assimilate others into this . . . hive mind we think they have. If I were in charge, it's what I'd do: hunt down the best and . . . recruit them. They can communicate through this hive mind, whether electronically through their cyborg enhancements, or . . . telepathically."
"That's an assumption, but seems to be accurate. What are you thinking?"
Khan's blue eyes were worried. "If they're privy to any information in a drone's head . . . Barton knows the coordinates for Sitara. When they realise what we are . . ."
Anthea's blood went cold and every hair stood on end. "Oh, bloody hell. They'll hunt us down and try to assimilate us all."
Yes, a pretty dire situation with the Borg knowing that "Supermen" are located on Sitara. Why do I have a bad feeling about this?
I have a very bad feeling about the Borg.
The realization at the end there was just chilling. This literally just became a 'do or die' situation.
Once again, this update had so many great things going on. I hope that these changes for Anthea are permanent - at least through the battle's duration, that is. It's nice to see her steady on her feet again. I loved her and Khan being all geeky about the weapons - and Smith-Tennant! I liked that touch.
Yves and Kati had a great conversation there, with excellent insights all around. I love seeing their relationship grow - and look forward to that continuing.
Now, for some Borg butt kicking! I can't wait.
They moved with a new sense of urgency. Khan split his attention between their surroundings and keeping an eye on his wife. She didn't show any signs of regressing, which simultaneously pleased and worried him. Surely the other shoe would drop. But when?
For her part, Anthea was very aware of Khan's scrutiny, but did her best to ignore it. He'd been doing it so long, it was likely second nature to him by now. All it did was increase her own worry about her situation.
Truthfully, though, she really did feel fantastic. She felt strong, and steady. She was also very aware of the baby, currently performing somersaults in her isolated, little world.
She pressed a hand to her stomach, smiling faintly as she walked.
"Are you alright?"
"Fine. Sarina's just very active right now. She's as awake as a . . . sixteen-week fetus can be."
"Perhaps Kati was right, and you should have stayed-"
"Nope. We already discussed this. If I can handle Klingons while suffering morning sickness and bleeding inside my head, I think I've got this."
He laughed under his breath. "I almost forgot what you're like when you're . . ."
"Not sick? Not dying by degrees?" Anthea checked her rifle, made sure it was set to "kill" and not "stun". "I'd almost forgotten what I was like, too. It's been horrible, feeling weak and useless."
A lock of dark hair fell in his eyes. Khan brushed it away impatiently.
"I like this look on you," she told him. "It's sexy."
Khan snorted. "I used to wear it long enough to queue."
"Mm. Not sure I'd like it that long. But the fringe is good."
He reached over and tugged lightly at her ponytail. "I noticed that you'd cut your hair. When did you do that?"
"Oh, when Nolan was a few weeks old. He very quickly developed the ability to latch on and yank. I trimmed it to be out of his reach. It was also much, much easier to care for when dealing with a newborn by myself."
His aqua eyes scanned the street, taking in the bloody footprints of something in large boots. "That way. So your mother wasn't there?"
"She was for the first bit, when I was continually exhausted and could barely sit upright to hold the baby to feed him. She stayed for the first week, then popped back and forth between Edinburgh and London. She visited a lot, absolutely doted on Nolan, but . . . Couldn't be there all the time. And when I moved to San Francisco, I kept him at the Daystrom child care facility while at work."
Anthea fell into step beside her husband as they tracked the Borg. She'd never felt more comfortable with anyone person than she did with Khan, whether as himself or as John Harrison. She could be herself with him. Besides her double life with Starfleet, keeping their marriage secret, concealing Nolan's paternity, and all her effort to find and smuggle away the Augments had been so draining. She had nothing to hide from Khan, and the chance to, finally, be one person through and through.
"Earlier," she began, then hesitated.
"You mentioned that you blew up Praxis."
He nodded, never taking his eyes off the area around them. "Marcus's orders. It was before we were married."
Khan stooped to check one of the Eloran corpses, finding it not as cold as the others. "This way," he said, and indicated to his right. "Praxis was the Klingons' primarily engineering facility. Energy, weapons. Research. Marcus wanted it disabled. I snuck on, planted some truly devastating charges I'd devised, and beamed off before they could discover me. Not one of my finest moments, but I was . . . obligated to comply."
She reached out unconsciously to touch his arm. "And what were you doing on Romulus, when you were injured? You said it was to see about tensions between Romulus and the Federation . . ."
"It was. Mostly. That was why Marcus wanted me to go. I went for another reason entirely."
He grinned. "To get my hands on their phase-shift cloaking technology. Which I did. Never told Marcus."
Anthea blinked at him. "But . . . Where is it? What did you get?"
"You know that tubular device I had in the study, that you packed up in my office?" He held his hands about two feet apart. "The one I had under my work station?"
"That is a cloaking device?!"
"Core of one. I stripped it out of one of their smaller fighters. That's how I was injured. They didn't take kindly to it."
She snorted. "You told me you were jumped by a Romulan."
"I was. I just didn't tell you it was while I was stealing their technology."
Anthea laughed softly. "So what are we going to do with it?"
"I've already incorporated it into the Reliance," he informed her. "Took me a bit to figure out where and how. Just in time, too, as I suspect we'll need it to get away from the Borg, with or without Barton."
"We're going to have to kill him, aren't we?"
"I'm afraid so." Khan sighed. "First Rodriguez, now Barton. We're so few in number, every loss hurts."
"Except Rodriguez," his wife growled. "You didn't make him suffer enough."
"Sadly, my love, there was no way to make him suffer enough. Not enough time or techniques in the universe to make him suffer enough."
“I’m sure I could have come up with a few.” Anthea paused, cocked her head. “I hear something to the right.”
Khan gestured her back, easing by her to lean around the corner and check. He quickly stepped back. “They seem to have split up. There are two of them about a block down, examining someone on the ground.”
“You think we can take two?” she asked quietly.
“We can try. Why don’t you see about picking one off from a distance?”
She nodded and lifted the rifle to her shoulder. Anthea peered around the corner, then crouched down. The idea was to make herself as small a target as possible. She scooted forward, around the corner, sighted down the length of the barrel, and fired.
The shot hit the left Borg right in the head, blowing it clean from his shoulders. The one on the right turned and started towards her.
Anthea rose, aimed, fired again.
The second bolt hit the Borg dead in the chest, but he seemed to shimmer green for a moment, and then he kept coming.
“Damn,” she said. “They can adapt to energy weapons.”
She threw the rifle at her husband with one hand, pulling a handgun with the other. Anthea braced for recoil, sighted.
She pulled the trigger.
The bullet hit the Borg in the shoulder. Anthea readjusted her aim, shifted her weight a little, fired again. The second round hit the thing in the throat.
The Borg went down in a spray of blood.
“Okay,” she sighed. “Bullets work.”
Khan followed as his wife went to make sure the thing was dead. She fired two bullets point-blank into its face.
“Aim’s a little off,” she commented.
“You shot it with a handgun at a distance of eighty yards,” Khan pointed out.
Anthea shrugged. “Still.”
He pulled her into his arms, ducking her into a nearby, looted shop. Khan shoved her against the wall and kissed her hard.
“What’s that for?” she gasped.
“Knowing you could pull it off is one thing,” he told her. His hands tugged at the hem of her tunic. “Seeing you make a shot like that was . . . very appealing.”
“Really?” she asked him breathlessly. “Here?”
He made a frustrated sound. "You're right. It's completely impractical."
Anthea pulled his head down and kissed him hungrily. "Later," she said breathlessly. "When we're out of danger."
"More or less," he agreed.
She reluctantly pulled away and checked her weapons. The rifle was next to useless now--maybe if she threw it . . .--so she slung it around and let it hang at her back. Anthea counted the rounds still available in her magazine.
"We might be able to replicate more bullets later," she mused, "but I'd like to conserve as many of these as possible."
"We should get closer next time."
"Wonderful thought. Just what I want to do."
"We'll have to," he said grimly, "if we want to get Barton back. Whole or otherwise."
Anthea sighed. "So now what? We're down two, which leaves . . . three? If they've converted Barton."
"Let's hope it's only Barton."
They hunted for hours. Anthea was pleased that she didn't feel at all fatigued by the effort, though the longer the stamina last, the more tense she got.
"You're frowning," Khan told his wife.
"Waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can't help thinking, even with how different I feel, what if it doesn't last?"
"We'll deal with that if it happens."
They'd made sure to dismantle the Borg technology before continuing their search for Barton. Once the Borg were dead and no longer connect to whatever guided them, the phasers worked just fine to melt it all down.
"I hope they can't adapt to bullets," she said now, in a worried tone.
Khan snorted. "That would be something to see. They have power packs, but those don't hold nearly enough to generate a shield strong enough to stop projectile weaponry. Phasers are one thing. Those are blocked with energy of another frequency- You're doing that thing again."
"The 'I don't care what you're saying, just keep talking' thing."
She gave him a rueful smile. "Sorry. I guess I'm no more capable now of listening to the scientific talk than I was when we were working on the Vengeance."
"Speaking of the Vengeance . . . The Enterprise has technology salvaged from my ship."
It was Anthea's turn to snort. "Your ship."
"I designed it, so, yes."
She rolled her eyes. "I know they cannibalized the Vengeance. They had to, in order to get the carcass out of the city. It took months. They used some of it to rebuild the city, some to rebuild the Enterprise."
"Primarily, the Enterprise has the warp core."
"Yes, theirs was damaged."
They walked in a silence for a moment, neither bringing up the subject of James Tiberius Kirk. He was, however, like a ghost hovering invisibly.
"How did you become so skilled at starship engineering?" Anthea asked after a long while. "You were born so long ago."
"I have the equivalence of six engineering and physics degrees," her husband told her. "I never formally went to school, it was all training through the government I served, but I'm a very fast learner. I'm the one that designed the SS Botany Bay."
"That was a huge risk, you know."
"Believe me, I know. But it was . . . a last-ditch effort to save my people. I knew I wouldn't see Earth again, and that our chance of survival was incredibly slim, but . . . it was better than if we'd stayed. We were being hunted like animals. After fleeing India, we hid in the Australian outback for months. One of my most trusted followers sacrificed himself to go into Europe, pretending to be me, knowing he would be captured and killed. He did it just to provide a distraction so we could get to the ship. And when we got there, I knew that so many things could go wrong. We could die in suspended animation, as many of my crew did. We could vanish into a star, or a black hole, or be hit by meteors. The odds were astronomically against us, pun intended."
"And yet, somehow . . ."
"Mm. Yes. Somehow, despite everything, we've ended up with a safe home. Now, if only we could get back there."
The whine of a phaser was their only warning. Khan ducked just in time to avoid taking a bolt to the head.
He dropped and rolled, taking cover behind an abandoned vendor stall. Anthea crouched in the dubious cover of the next one over.
"Well," her husband said dryly, "I think we found them."
Great action sequences as they engage the Borg.
I couldn't decide if I liked the bantering more than the action sequences here. Either way, both were excellently done, and I am eagerly awaiting the next post. I too can't help but feel on edge for 'waiting for the other shoe to drop', and hope that it at least waits until they are out of this mess. Maybe.
Wonderful update, all around! I was so excited to see more of this up.
Found the update after my trip. Great fight and now get away before the Borg get nasty
Don't feel up to individual replies, as I'm still recovering from sinus surgery. But I read them, and appreciate them.
This 'fic ended a little sooner than expected. I'm not sure when I'm going to start the next one. I've got a couple vignettes planned before the next big one takes place, so I'll post those as I finish them.
Anthea wasn't skilled at hand-to-hand, though she'd had training both through Starfleet and with her husband. Still, it wasn't her strong suit, and she wasn't sure how she'd fare against the cyborgs. She didn't want to find out.
"Barton is with them," Khan said, and his voice was curiously flat. "They've started their . . . assimilation."
"I'm sorry, darling," she told him.
He shook his head. "I'll take the two on the right, you go for the one on the left."
"Barton's on the right, I'm guessing."
"Hopefully they haven't finished and he still knows some of who he is."
They moved as one, firing their phasers mostly as cover. It didn't affect the Borg more than knocking them back a little with each blast, but it was enough to distract them from doing any shooting of their own.
Khan dove low, tackling the thing that had been his friend, knocking it into the second Borg. They both fell like dominoes, which had been his intention.
The third Borg didn't take its eyes off Anthea. She palmed the butt of her gun, aimed.
The Borg shot at her and her own went wide. Then she was too close, and it swung its gun arm at her head. She had to duck to avoid taking the blow in the face. As it was, it hit her in the shoulder and sent her sprawling.
She rolled, raised her gun from her prone position, and shot upwards, hitting it twice in the chest. She was assuming it was human, but just in case it wasn't, she spaced the second shot to the farthest side of the left ribs, where Vulcans, Romulans, and Rigelians had their hearts.
When Anthea got to her feet, she saw Khan had Barton pinned. The other Borg was still active, and struggled to regain its feet.
As it lurched upright, Anthea knee-capped it with a shot to each limb. It dropped back. Feeling strangely calm, she stomped on its chest, bent, and shoved the muzzle under its chin.
"Let's see you assimilate this," she said.
The Borg's head disintegrated in a shower of gore. Anthea straightened, saw Khan was struggling with Barton.
"We are-" Barton trembled, seemed to seize. "Borg! No! Khan, I can't-"
Wordlessly, Anthea handed her husband the gun.
"Khan," the man on the ground gasped out. "I'm fighting. I've been- fighting-"
His head jerked to the side, and whatever was within him said, "Drone conversion error. Assimilation incomplete."
Barton convulsed, flailed his arms. When he got control of himself, he said, "Do it! Before they get into my head and find us all!"
"Barton," Khan began.
"No, no. You have to-" He spasmed, then looked at Anthea. "Tell Marla I'm sorry. Tell her I-
"Resistance is futile," the Borg part of him intoned.
Khan took a deep breath, steeling himself for what he had to do.
Anthea, who had just executed four of the Borg with no qualms, had to look away.
The shot echoed off the deserted buildings, and the whirring and grinding of the machinery the Borg had savagely attached to Barton's body fell silent.
The only sound then was a single, ragged sob from Khan as he said goodbye to yet another friend.
"I can't believe we took care of it that quickly," Anthea said later, after they'd brought Barton's body back to the Reliance and destroyed the other Borg's remains. "I feel like that was too easy."
Khan was supervising the loading of the last of their purchases into the cargo hold, as they prepared to leave. The locals had offered to celebrate them for taking care of the invaders, but Khan wanted no such thing. He did, however, accept the money they were offered. Anthea knew Khan felt a bit like they'd paid him to kill his friend, but her husband was just ruthless enough to know that the two didn't equate and that they needed the money.
She trailed her fingers lightly down his arm, then said, "I'm going to check on Marla, see if she's awake."
She didn't look forward to relaying Barton's last words to the other woman, but if it had been Khan . . . No. She couldn't think those thoughts.
In the infirmary, she found Marla awake and sitting up.
"Did you-" Marla broke off when she saw Anthea's face. "He's dead, isn't he?"
"Unfortunately, we couldn't save him. He was too far gone. He did get a few words out. He said to tell you he was sorry, and that he loved you."
The second part was a partial truth. Anthea had no doubt it had been what Barton was going to say, before the Borg took over, but he hadn't actually said it. Still, it was a kindness she was willing to offer Marla, knowing she'd want to hear it if it was Khan. She knew what it was to care for someone, and to suddenly lose them through horrific events. Marla would not be getting Barton back; a small lie seemed a kindness in the situation.
"Thank you," Marla whispered. She stretched out on the bed, rolled to her side, and turned her back on Anthea.
Knowing she'd been dismissed, Anthea left the medbay and tracked down her son in Kati's quarters. When she opened the door, Nolan sprang up, singing, "Mummy!"
"Aww. I'm not Mama anymore?" It was a silly thing, but Anthea felt her eyes start to burn.
Nolan stretched his arms up, and she lifted him effortlessly, hugging him tight.
"Always Mama!" he told her.
She took a long moment to just nuzzle his neck, breathing in the still-baby scent of him. He giggled and hugged her neck tight.
"Eloran patrol says there's no unknown vessels in their space," Khan said, as he came up the corridor, where Anthea still stood in the open doorway. "We don't know how the Borg came here, but I'm guessing they have transwarp technology. They'd have to, to beam in from wherever their ship is presently. I suggest we vacate before they send anyone else."
"And abandon the Elorans?" Anthea asked softly.
"We're not responsible for these people. The only people I'm responsible for are either on this ship or back home." His voice went tight as he spoke.
Anthea put Nolan down, told him softly to go play with his toys. Then she closed the door and wrapped her arms tight around her husband. "It's not your fault," she whispered. "You did what you could to save him. They did all that to him in a matter of a few hours. There was nothing you could do to stop them, darling. I know he was your friend, but he asked you to do it, Khan. You gave him a mercy."
Khan pressed a kiss to her hair and embraced her, pressing his face against her shoulder. "I know," he mumbled. "But every time I lose someone, I feel I've failed. It takes me back to when we were on the run on Earth, to . . . when the torpedoes on the Vengeance exploded and I thought they were all gone. All of them."
"You haven't failed. You haven't. This was a completely unexpected and horrific situation, and you did everything you could to get him back. And when . . . it was obvious that we couldn't help, Khan, that was the only thing you could do. Don't blame yourself for that."
He let out a shuddery breath and straightened. "What would I do without you?" he asked her softly. "Come, let's go home."
She followed him into the small bridge and took her seat at the navigation chair. Khan deftly piloted the ship up and out of the atmosphere. Anthea had scanners going, but nothing of note popped out on the sensors.
As Khan prepped for warp, Anthea scanned the space ahead of them with her eyes. Out in the distance, in the black between the stars, just for an instant, she thought she saw a shimmer of green light. She blinked, and it was gone.
She shook her head, decided she was imagining things.
The Reliance jumped to warp, and home.
When they landed at the makeshift airfield on Sitara, Khan noted there was a smaller craft under the wing of Otto's Bird of Prey. It was barely larger than a shuttlecraft, just large enough to have a warp drive.
"Where did that come from?" he mused aloud.
"I have no idea," his wife replied. "Let's go find out."
As they exited the ship, they were greeted by Otto and Chin, both of whom looked serious.
"Kaiser," Otto said, "we have visitors. They came asking for Kaiserin. We put them in the brig to wait for you."
Anthea frowned. This was so not something she wanted to deal with after the last few days they'd had. She still hadn't had a decent night's sleep and longed for her own bed. "They were asking for me?"
"Ja," Otto confirmed with a nod.
She followed Otto aboard the Bird of Prey, trying not to think of the last time she'd been aboard it. He led her, ironically, to the very cell she and Nolan had been held in while prisoners of the Klingons.
He opened the door, and-
"Anthea! Oh, Anthea, tell them to let me go!"
"YOU PUT MY MOTHER IN THE BRIG?"
Anthea took two steps and engulfed her mother in her arms. Over Martha's shoulder, she shot Otto a look that should have fried him on the spot.
Without a word, Khan dragged Otto out into the hallway and made him release "the other prisoner", Anthea's father. He wasted no time hustling his wife and in-laws off the Klingon ship, telling Anthea, "Take them up to the house. I'll have a word with Otto."
Anthea nodded, still completely boggled and wondering if she were still asleep and merely dreaming. But her mother's hand was warm in hers.
"How did you even get here?" Anthea asked breathlessly, as she led her parents into the house. "How did you find us?"
"We received a message," Graham said. "It was encoded, sent straight to me. When I got it unencrypted, it had the coordinates here, and said 'Come find me'. It was signed with just an A, so I hadta assume it was you. We took a huge risk, sold off everything, including the townhouse in London, an' bought the best warp-capable ship we could afford."
Martha took her daughter's hands. "Because you're our daughter, and if you needed us, nothing in this universe would stop us from coming, darling. You should know that."
"Even after the way I left?" Anthea asked, as Khan came into the living room.
Her mother hesitated. "When we got your message, after you disappeared . . . We were devastated. I'd thought John was dead, as you did, and I was so confused that you'd said you were going with him. I didn't know what that meant. And you took Nolan with you. We hunted all over for you for weeks. Starfleet is looking for you, as well."
"We know," Khan said dryly. Looking at Anthea, he said, "I'm assuming that our . . . dear friend Jim had a hand in this."
"Probably, but I can't fault him, for once," his wife said. Looking back to her mother, she asked, "But still, to risk everything and come all the way here on a chance?"
"We had to," Graham said. "If you were calling for us, we had to."
"I didn't, but I can't express how grateful I am to see you. I . . . This is the last thing I expected, honestly. I thought I'd never see you again."
"If you didn't send the message, who did?"
Anthea and Khan exchanged a look. "We have an . . . associate in Starfleet who's sworn to protect the secret of where we are. His name is James Kirk, captain of the USS Enterprise. He can be a little . . . impulsive."
Martha kept glancing at Khan, and Anthea pulled her hands from her mother's grasp to take Khan's hand. "Mum, Dad . . . You know I was involved with John Harrison, the man Starfleet came to the house looking for."
"Aye," her father said. "That much was obvious. Thought he died, though. Who's this, then?"
"It's a long story, one we don't have huge amounts of time for at the moment. Short version is, John Harrison never existed. Yes, I married him while we were both working for Section 31, which is a top secret organization within Starfleet, but John wasn't real. He was a false identity created for this man, who was taken as a prisoner by Admiral Marcus and forced to develop weapons for Starfleet. But he's the same man, the one I left Earth for. Mum, Daddy, this is my husband, Khan Noonien Singh."
Her father stood, sizing up the tall, powerfully built man before him. "Khan Noonien Singh," he repeated. "Name doesn't fit the look."
"My mother was of Indian nationality. My father is unknown," Khan murmured. "I was, however, raised in New Delhi and the surrounding area."
"And you married my daughter without asking me," Graham continued.
"Daddy!" Anthea objected.
Khan's smile was slow and mellow, not the least bit sardonic. "You're correct, sir. I did not. I know Anthea well enough to know she would not have liked to be treated as a possession. And her well-being, that of her and our children, is my utmost priority."
The two men eyed each other. Finally, Graham sighed. "So you're the, what, leader here?"
"Yes," Khan said. "This is our planet, Sitara, which is Hindi for 'star home'. It's a small community, and I am the . . . leader."
"King, really," Anthea put in. "Raj, Kaiser, whatever. Most of our people are from . . . Khan's time."
"Time?" Martha asked. "What?"
"Khan and his people were cryogenically frozen," her daughter explained. "There was a war on Earth, in the early 1990s, and they were exiled. They were frozen for nearly three hundred years."
Martha, who had been a teacher back on Earth, frowned. "I seem to- The Eugenics Wars?" she asked Khan with wide grey eyes. "You're from that time?"
He nodded. "I once ruled a quarter of the world. Now I am reduced to less than eighty subjects and a distant home on an unfamiliar world, just to ensure the safety of what's left of my people."
Anthea smirked and rubbed a hand over her belly. "Not to mention rudimentary running water and other living conditions close to the nineteenth century."
"We're improving things," her husband reminded her. "Slower than I would like, but we only just returned from a supply run."
His wife gave a small shudder. "Anyway . . . I suppose the two of you can stay for a time in the room that was going to be my study. Winter is coming and I believe all of the cabins we've built are occupied. We can't get you a place of your own 'til spring, I think."
"We could stay on the ship-" her mother began.
"No," Khan and Anthea said in unison.
"No, no," Anthea continued. "We had to do that ourselves while Khan was building our home, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. It's fine for a single person to sleep in a ship's cabin, but I remember too well cramming the three of us in our cabin aboard the Reliance. No, you'll stay with us. We have the room."
She looked to her husband. "How soon can we have one of the beds set up?"
"Minutes. I'll take care of it," he told her. "Get reacquainted with your parents. Oh, and I'm going to need the pistol. I think I'm going to see if we can replicate it. I have a feeling . . ."
"I know," she whispered. "Go ahead."
He left, and she turned back to her parents. "Come, you need to see Nolan, and meet Kati. Kati is Khan's sister."
Graham and Martha exchanged looks, but didn't comment on the tension. "Yes," her mother said, "I want to see Nolan."
"He's on the Reliance," Anthea said, "or Kati's bringing him. We left them on the ship in case there was trouble."
It hadn't been trouble. It had been something wonderful. But as Anthea showed her parents around their new home, she kept thinking about that green light she'd seen, and the body they had in medbay on the ship.
She hoped the Borg wouldn't be back, wouldn't find them.
She was afraid they would.
Once, her worst nightmare had been something happening to Nolan. Now it was the Borg. How many were they? Where did they come from? How much had they got from Barton before he'd been killed? She just didn't know, and the uncertainty frightened her.
But she saw Khan across the main clearing, talking to Otto, Chin, and Inigo, and knew that whatever came next, they'd do their best to protect their people. They had to.
Across a wide gulf of space, deep within the Delta Quadrant, in the heart of a dark, cube-shaped vessel that blinked with green light, she waited. Dark eyes narrowed, and a cruel mouth smiled.
"Not now," she said, to the thousands upon thousands gathered around her. "We wait. We need to know more before we consider assimilating them, and we do not have enough information. In time, we will use them. But not yet. We have time. We are endless, after all. We are Borg."
Creepy ending to a great story. Let them be safe.
Thanks! I don't have any real DRAMA!!!! planned for a while. Mostly relationship ficlets. There's one with Nolan and Khan coming up that I adore. Also one with Yves and Kati that I'm poking at.
Great ending! Hopefully, the Borg will wait a little while before assimilating them or The Federation.
TBH, I hated writing the Borg and didn't want to tackle them in the first place, so I have no immediate plans to bring them back. They might come back sometime, I dunno. I have plans for the next one, though. Plans with a capital P Plans!
Whew! That was a wonderful ending. Once again, you did wonderfully with your action scenes, and my heart just broke for the tragedy of Barton's end - and Khan, for having to let another one of his people go. While I am glad to see the Borg gone, it is worrisome to see that that is not a permanent thing.
BUT, Anthea has her parents with her now!! I was absurdly excited that Kirk did this for her, and I am thrilled that she now has her family with her - all of her family. Now, I can't wait for the 'relationship' ficlets you mentioned. Those are always the best. And your plans with a capital P! I can't wait for that story to start.
Once again, thank-you so much for sharing this 'verse with us. I have enjoyed every word.