Avenger: Chapter 7

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Uhura watched, entranced, as dancers whirled in intricate patterns around the open areas of the courtyard. The flickering torches cast golden light, combining with the sparkling blues, golds, and greens of their costumes to make them appear to be living fires. Uhura's pulse picked up time and again, her feet and legs itching to move and join in. Such exuberance and joy of life filled the movements of the entertainers. The song guiding and accompanying them came from pockets of musicians in the four corners of the courtyard, placed so all could hear the music. It was utter perfection, and Uhura couldn't resist humming along with the song, which never repeated, but continued to modulate to new keys and meters, never clashing, always beautiful. She felt a tug on the edge of the ornate robe given her as a guest gift, and looked down to see one of Marakil's nieces gazing up at her with awe in her eyes. The child beckoned, and Uhura leaned down to hear her.

"Sing pretty," she said, lisping her Federation words proudly.

"Thank you." Uhura's eyes sparkled at the child's solemnness. "It's a very beautiful song."

"My father wrote it." She pointed to a tall man playing a long, stringed instrument in the nearest corner.

"In my world, people who create such beautiful music are honored very highly." Uhura chuckled at the new shine in the little one's eyes. She understood the message, if not all the words.

"Is everybody like you?" the girl asked after a long moment, studying Uhura's face. The woman didn't know how to answer, until the child hesitantly stroked her hand, resting on her lap. "You're soft, and I thought you would be hard like polished wood."

"We're all different colors. Red, yellow, black, white."

"I think you are pretty, even if you are different." The child's eyes widened, clearly fearing she had said something wrong. She dashed away. Uhura couldn't repress her chuckles at that.


McCoy decided he had seen enough dancing. Watching from the top of the steps gave him a vantage point that made him feel dizzy. He stepped back into the house, searching for that quiet, grassy courtyard. He found his way there and settled down into the grass with a sigh of relief. For a long moment, he let the pounding in his blood settle down a bit more before he tried to think too hard. He had to admit, that coppery wine was potent stuff, even stronger than the Romulan blue the Defiance people had given him.

By now, the other starship should be in orbit around Fal'a'mort, ready to start the first series of scans. If conditions proved favorable, Capt. Meyer would send people down to the surface for soil and atmosphere samples, and to check what lifeforms could survive on the ruined planet. How had it ever gotten that way? McCoy understood enough geologic science to know such atrocities couldn't happen by accident. Yet until the people of Canris developed spaceflight, they hadn't known about their sister planet, always on the other side of the sun from them. Fal'a'mort meant Death Sister. More than appropriate.

McCoy opened his eyes to the starry sky. Funny, how different it looked from the forward viewscreen of the bridge; more mysterious, peaceful. He dug into the pocket of his festival clothes and took out his communicator. It was a tight fit, and he feared he would tear the pocket. It finally slid free and he flipped it open. Uhura's replacement answered and patched him through to Kirk.

"If you're calling to gloat, forget it." Kirk's voice sounded cheerful.

"Would I do that?"

"Yes. What's on your mind?"

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