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Dark is the Night

By Kehlan

Horror / Scifi

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek and am making no money from this story. I do however lay claim to my characters.

*****

"This is the age of the Dutchman... He has passed this way before, and will pass this way again. Cursed, he travels alone. No soul alive knows from whence he came, or where he goes.
Portent of doom…”


*****

Somewhere, sometime, in the depths of an as yet unknown rift, a ship floated, apparently serenely through space, cold and empty, its abandoned corridors devoid of life. Yet it had a destination, a purpose. Unseen hands tended its helm, taking it to its destiny, even as unseen minds called out desperately in warning.

"They do not listen." The words were unspoken and yet they were heard.

"They MUST listen." Another unseen, unheard voice replied, its concern evident in its silent tones.

"We bring doom and we cannot stop it," the first voice worried, "He is too dangerous. We cannot defy Him. We must obey."

"He approaches," a third voice warned and the speakers fell silent as the bridge doors creaked open, admitting something as unseen as they were, yet with a sense of great power, of great evil. The temperature in the already freezing room dropped further and the spirits shivered, both with cold and fear. A crackling of electricity filled the air as their captor came into the centre of the bridge.

"We are there," the being known as the Dutchman warned the unseen crew, "Prepare to re-enter the timeline."

*****

The Admiral in command of Starbase 24 glared at his assembled colleagues. “Where is Kehlan?”

N’Sal hid a grin at the demand. “She declined to attend,” the Romulan mercenary informed him, “Her exact words were I believe, GET LOST!”

Mackenzie sighed. “Too busy with ship repairs, I imagine. Very well, we will continue without her. We can’t afford to wait. Krang, what do you have for me?”

"You already know there is unrest on the Starbase," his Head of Security and Intel responded. "The news-casts indicate that Qo’noS, Romulus and Earth are no better. It’s been a thousand years since the Empires aligned in this way. For our Day of the Dead to coincide with your Halloween and the Romulan Night of Blood is unprecedented.”

“It’s ridiculous,” Khetara snapped. The Klingon General had no tolerance for superstitious nonsense, “Nothing more than myth and legend.”

Mackenzie took a deep breath. "It's not a legend. At least…” he amended, “not just a legend."

"You are saying…" N’Sal chose her words carefully "that this alignment really is causing... or will cause... an opening between the worlds?" She shivered at the thought.

Mackenzie nodded. "That’s exactly what I'm saying. Between which worlds, is open to debate. Whether it’s the otherworld, an alternate universe, or even a rift into another layer of this universe, I don’t know.”

Krang's mind was already turning to practical matters. "Then if a doorway is about to open, we should be ready for it, and on high alert. We do not know what is on the other side or what will come through once the door is opened."

"According to folklore,” Mackenzie said, “The Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship that can never make port, doomed to sail the oceans forever. It’s usually seen glowing with ghostly light. If hailed, its crew will try to send messages to land or to people long dead. The sight of this phantom ship is a portent of doom."

"So it’s a Terran legend," Khetara said thoughtfully, “But I doubt those old horror stories are what is worrying you."

You’re right, Khetara. I don’t know how to explain it, I just need you to trust me. The Dutchman is coming… and soon.” Anticipating the next question, Mackenzie added, “Yes, the term ‘Dutchman’ refers to both ship and pilot. We must be prepared for him. All our ships are in their positions and ready. I can’t tell them what to be ready for. I don’t know how he will come, or in what form. The only certainty is that he will come."

“Then we fight!” Krang grunted.

“No, my friends, this is my fight.” Holding up a hand to forestall the inevitable protests, Mackenzie turned away from them and touched his combadge. He had always known his enemy would return. Finally it was time to face the inevitable. “Docking Control, I need a shuttlecraft fuelled and ready to depart immediately,"

"Hell, no you don't!” Not completely to his surprise, N’Sal was the first to object.

Mackenzie sighed. "No arguments, N’Sal. I have to go. And before you say you're coming with me, I have to go alone."

"Dammit, James! It’s suicide! A shuttle will offer no protection! At least take Rapier?"

Khetara snorted. "What good is a decommissioned runabout if the situation is so dangerous?"

N'Sal grinned. "She's had a few upgrades since she left Starfleet's service." Drawing a command chip from her jacket, she pressed it into Mackenzie's hand. "Take Rapier, James. And come back safe or Kehlan will be unbearable!"

"My personal yacht is far better, “Khetara protested. “It is modified according to my wishes and its crew would serve you well."

“I can’t accept, Khetara," he said quietly, "I won’t put other lives at risk."

Khetara nodded reluctantly. "Go then and be..." She just stopped herself from telling him to be careful. “Come back victorious. N'Sal is right, if you don't, Kehlan will be unbearable."

Mackenzie gave a slight smile. "Qapla' my friend." With nothing more to be said, he turned and made his way towards the private shuttle-bay where Rapier was berthed.

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