A/N: Back with a sequel to Children of Two Worlds (probably not necessary reading but PM me if you're confused lol). This is set in late year two of the original five year mission of the Enterprise (1701) and therefore features the crew. Do not own Star Trek (however I do have a tribble plushie :) ). Rating may change as haven't written the rest yet but it's a 'T' just in case. Have no idea when the next chapters will be coming (Y'know, uni) but have a plan! On with the story and don't forget to review :)
"I believe that is checkmate, Danielle."
"You win again? Can we have another go?" nine year old Dani Andersen asked her companion. T'Rallah had taken it upon herself to teach her chess and, while she was not anywhere near as good at it as her mother, Dani was every bit as tenacious.
"Certainly, Dani. Allow me to fetch some more tea. Would you like a beverage?"
"Sure. Could I have coffee?"
"I do not believe that to be a wise choice, especially since you will be going to bed in half an hour. Also, coffee is unhealthy for one of your age." The young Vulcan responded.
"Fiiine" sighed Dani. Once the board was set up, she turned dark eyes to T'Rallah "thanks for hanging with me tonight."
"Your parents requested that I assist them by sitting with you. Besides, I find your company most agreeable". N'elk Mon'ra T'Rallah had been attending the Vulcan Science Academy for six Terran months when she had taken up a four month internship in a team stationed at this fairly remote Starfleet research post on a small, alpine moon orbiting the gas giant Oo'vala Delta. That had been two years ago. She had found herself so absorbed by the projects led by Dani's parents, Alexandra and Lars Andersen and so enamoured with the beautiful mountains that she had decided to stay on as their assistant. Quite where assistant had become family friend-come-babysitter was unclear even to the normally precise Vulcan.
The moon that had been christened Weisshorn after one of the European Alps had breath-taking scenery and wildlife and both T'Rallah and Dani greatly enjoyed hiking. The Starfleet research post had been established here almost twelve years ago chiefly because there was no native population and so no chance of breaking the Prime Directive and because of a useful proximity to Vulcan. Dani had lived here all her life and her family's rooms were as full of various samples of the local flora (including a shrub that had sprouted huge purple leaves) and minerals as Terran artefacts. There were also plenty of Vulcan influences there too including, T'Rallah had been surprised to see, an ornamental lirpa weapon. Doctor Alex Andersen had spent a good proportion of her childhood staying with her Vulcan cousin Spock, now First Officer on Starfleet's flagship, and had adopted the arid, strangely beautiful planet as a second homeworld. Her daughter had inherited her curiosity and a good many of her interests including Vulcan culture so when T'Rallah had first arrived, she had bombarded her with questions. The seven year old had even decided to take up the Vulcan lyre to add to her already impressive list of musical accomplishments and could play as well as T'Rallah who admittedly had never cared for playing instruments herself. She was certainly better than her mother (who could barely play five notes in key). It was quite clear she had got her artistic leanings from Lars.
The only thing that had been less than idyllic about Dani's childhood was lack of companionship so, in addition to T'Rallah's talents in her field, her arrival had been a godsend for the Andersens who were always concerned that on a research station with only 35 other people and no other families, their daughter may be lonely. T'Rallah remembered when they had discussed her own family.
"I have one younger sister and a brother. We are fraternal twins, a most unusual occurrence in Vulcans."
"Way cool! I wish I had a sibling! Not twins though. I wouldn't wanna share my birthday. S'pose you're used to it."
"Birth anniversaries are not marked in the same way among my people. Our culture leaves little room for frivolity." She had to confess she had been slightly prejudiced against human culture at the beginning, believing it shallow. Since her friendship with this family and their colleagues, however, she had moved past such illogical presumption. She had found the girl's constant attentions something of a distraction at first but now found her company enjoyable.
"I wish Mum and Dad could come with us tomorrow" Dani suddenly announced.
"Your parent's research is of great importance to the scientific community"
"Yeah, I know. Just wish I was of great importance for them" Dani moved a chess piece.
"Danielle, I believe you are fully cognisant of their affection for you. They have frequently expressed such sentiments and repeatedly told me of their wish that they had been able to spend more time with you recently." T'Rallah admonished.
"Yeah, I know. I can't help being illogical" she responded. While Vulcan children did not feel a constant need for their parent's attention, T'Rallah sympathised with the child.
Abruptly, the room seemed to pitch violently northwards, sending several of the Andersen's ornaments and keepsakes flying. T'Rallah was troubled. Seismic activity was almost unheard of on Weisshorn and was not usually accompanied by the sound of detonating explosives. Dani stared at the ceiling, her dark eyes darting to and fro. "What was that all about?" the young girl demanded of no one in particular.
Another impact rocked the room and this time the cables supplying the ambient lighting were severed. Dani cried out reflexively "seriously, T'Rallah, what's going on?" her voice rose a few octaves.
"I am unsure. I will attempt to contact your parents to ascertain-"
The young Vulcan was cut off by the sound of the comm. on the wall chiming. The familiar sound was given a heightened urgency by the situation. She crossed the room to answer it "T'Rallah here" she intoned calmly.
"T'Rallah!" shouted the voice of Alex "thank God the comm's still up. Is Dani there?"
"Of course, Alex as you requested me to-"
Alex clearly had no time for the characteristic pedantic nature of Vulcans "Is she ok?"
"I'm fine" Dani interjected "Mum what's happening? Is it an earthquake?"
"Sweetie look, I need you to be a very brave girl for me, Okay? The facility has been attacked. We didn't get a warning. Typical bloody Klingons! They are demanding that we all turn ourselves and the research over to them. After they get in here it's only a matter of time before they find you. You mustn't let them take you do you hear me?"
"But Mum, what about the shields?"
"Honey, they're failing" a burst of static interference punctuated Alex's point "we're barely holding them off. I want you to do everything T'Rallah tells you, okay? Both of you get out and look after each other. Take a shuttlecraft and inform Starfleet, T'Rallah. Make sure she's safe, yeah?"
"I will take her to safety now, Alex. We will ensure a rescue mission is despatched as soon as possible. T'Rallah out."
"Wait, Mum! What about you and Dad? I don't wanna leave you! They'll hurt you!"
"Honey, it's gonna be okay. Don't worry about us, we'll be alright. Go with T'Rallah. I love you. See you-" the connection that had been threatening to break the entire conversation finally snapped.
T'Rallah was as usual efficient and level-headed, taking Dani by the arm "Come, Dani. We must reach the hanger without being intercepted."
"I'm not going! We should stay and help the others. I'm not leaving my Mum and Dad! We can fight!"
"Dani, be reasonable. We have no weapons-"
"Mum's got a lirpa!"
"And the Klingons, if indeed that is what they are will be armed with disruptors and phasers. The best chance for both ourselves and the others is to leave and inform Starfleet of these events, not engage in a foolish rescue attempt of our own which will result in our capture."
"I'm not scared of any Klingon! I'm not a coward!" Dani retorted.
"Lack of fear is a good attainment. Lack of comprehension of a danger faced is not, Danielle. Being aware of one's limits is not cowardice. You are a child. I appreciate your worry on behalf of your parents but they will be better served-"
"By letting the Klingon's get them?"
"By following their directions. For my own part, I have been instructed by your mother to keep you safe from harm and to ensure you escape the facility, a task I will complete with or without your approval or consent if I must. I would prefer not to have to carry you but I will if it becomes necessary!". Something in T'Rallah's green eyes (unusual for her race) made Dani give in. She had never before seen such urgency and fervour in her friend's voice and felt sure that she meant every word. Vulcans do not after all, lie.
So, with precious few seconds to grasp the situation, she found herself being hauled from her family's quarters and along the corridor. They had nearly reached the hanger when the sound of footfalls alerted T'Rallah's keen ears to the approaching enemy. With elegant force, she tugged the grate from an air vent and commanded Dani to climb into it. This time, Dani didn't need telling twice. The air felt damp and stale up here and the sound of their shuffling limbs was unnaturally loud above the pounding of blood in her ears. "T'Rallah?" she whispered, craving reassurance.
"I am here, Dani. Keep moving. We will reach the hanger bay soon". Then, with an unpleasant thrill, T'Rallah caught sight of one of the attackers glaring malevolently up at them through another grill and admonished herself for her lack of attentiveness. "Over here!" he bellowed in his guttural native tongue.
"How dare you come here?" T'Rallah supressed the urge to sigh. Dani was brave but very hot headed. One did not challenge a Klingon lightly. His already ridged brow furrowed in displeasure at her impudence and he raised his disruptor. Surely not? Surely he would not harm a defenceless child? T'Rallah was proved wrong when he took aim. She threw her weight into Dani, knocking her out of the path of the beam. These were not phasers. Ugly, barbaric weapons, disruptors were designed to tear flesh and cause pain without necessarily killing. Pain that shot up T'Rallah's left side and leg like synaptic wildfire. She drew in a sharp breath as the Klingon beneath her called for reinforcements to apprehend his injured prisoners.
"T'Rallah! Are you okay?" Dani cried, crawling back to her friend, guilt at her rash actions and fear bleeding through her chest.
T'Rallah gasped. The pain in her leg was incredible. Impulsively she touched the ruined skin through the wet ribbons of her trouser leg. Her hand came away, pools of emerald blood in the grooves. "I…I am afraid not Dani" she murmured with a small wince "You are aware of how to set a heading on autopilot?"
"No! I'm not leaving you too!"
"Danielle you must! I am unable to move and someone must escape the facility if news of what has happened here is to reach Starfleet. It is the only logical-" she winced again, feeling faintly lightheaded and nauseous at the feeling of blood slick against her injured leg "you must calm yourself and keep yourself safe. I do not know what the intentions of the intruders are or why they have such an interest in our research but given their actions so far it is a reasonable assumption they have ill intent."
Dani couldn't help but agree but her heart felt painfully torn. She crawled back to T'Rallah for a moment. The Vulcan was about to protest before the child pulled her into an awkward but tender embrace, burying her face in the older girl's shoulders with a strange whimper "I'm sorry, it's my fault!". Instinctively, T'Rallah returned the gesture, her bloodied hand reaching around Dani's shoulder blades and tightening in an action of comfort for a moment before whispering "No. Go now, Dani"
"I'll come back for you." The girl told her fervently "hang in there!"
"I shall try" replied T'Rallah softly, parting her fingers in the ta'al. Dani returned it, giving her dear friend one last look before turning down the rest of the ventilation shaft with a swish of blonde hair.
Dani emerged at the end of the shaft behind several supply crates. Walking round them, she immediately pulled herself back as she saw two of the intruders. A male and female, they both had to be at least a head taller than her father and twice his girth. She felt quite sure they could snap her in half if they so chose. Of course there wasn't much danger of that. They would need to keep their prisoners alive and in reasonably good health to avoid the anger of the entire Federation. Dani had played enough twenty-first century video games and seen enough old school war movies to know rudimentary strategy. Of course the Klingons are here. It's the main exit! Dani wished for about the third time that minute that T'Rallah was here. Or her parents. Or better still, that she was still playing chess in her living room.
With agonisingly slow movements, she edged along the wall, making sure to keep the guards in her sight and herself out of theirs. She looked at the shuttle Rocky as her best bet. The scientists always put a notice on shuttles to show their fuel status and of the three the smallest and oldest was the one that was good to go. Unfortunately, it was also the one furthest from the wall which would mean breaking cover.
Dani was so busy concentrating on her choice of shuttle that she ignored the open crate of tools lying on the hanger floor. Her foot connected with it with a terrifyingly loud metallic clang, punctuated by the sound of rustling metal tools spilling out onto the tiles. Her eyes met those of the two Klingons in a curious few seconds of stillness before she tore across the hanger, the Andes and Ural providing her cover from the phaser stun beams. Slamming her hand into the door release switch, she ran up into the shuttle and threw herself on the helm, fingers flying over the controls to start the launching sequence. "Come on come on come ON" she murmured urgently as a booming knock rang though the small vessel.
Finally, the shuttle was under her control. She climbed through the night air, the calm balmy weather a striking contrast to the events of the evening. Don't worry, T'Rallah, I'm on my way she mentally told her friend. At the edge of the atmosphere, she was jostled by the phaser fire of the Bird of Prey and screamed as sparks flew off the console with a sharp tack! sound. The autopilot kicked in and threw her into maximum impulse speed. She prayed that they wouldn't see one escaped shuttle as a threat and wouldn't pursue.
"Now, let's find Starfleet" she said to her little battered craft as they shot together across space.