Star Trek Hunter
Episode 7: The Great Mushroom
Scene 1: Nightmares

7.1
Nightmares

Starlight was crying inconsolably. Anyone would cry if someone were cutting off the tips of her earlobes. "But we can't have you looking like a vulcan, baby. No one can know that you're vulcan," Dolphin heard himself saying. But it wasn't the pain that was making T'Lon cry. It was the wrenching terror of having her soul burned out by acid. Not the pain - the terror that death wasn't real and that her soul would have to reside somewhere else, forever mute and powerless. Constrained to helplessly watch her soulless body go on without her. Just a machine, doing what others told it to do.

"Not one ghost," said T'Lok, her cold, dead eyes glowing through her closed eyelids, seaweed in her hair. "Not one ghost. Two ghosts. Why would you do that to me?" Somewhere in the distance, from deep underwater came the sound of piano music - a piano played by a madman - a genius - creating hair-raising sounds. Some ancient piece of music by Rimsky-Korsakov. Lt. Tauk coughed hard, again and again, blood dripping from his mouth and nose. The music shifted gradually to a slower, incredibly sad melody, played with a sensitivity that only a master could evoke from the instrument. Softly, quietly, it drowned out Starlight's incessant, girlish coughing and howling. Kenny Dolphin held onto the sound of the piano desperately and let it slowly draw him out of the nightmare.

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He was in his sleeping/escape pod. Many of his nightmares included waking up in this pod only to find it full of seawater, buried in some ancient tomb, or drifting into the corona of a star. Dolphin shook his head to try to clear the nightmare, but the piano kept playing. It seemed like several minutes before he gradually realized he was actually listening to the sound of a piano being played in the director's lounge, just outside his pod. Played brilliantly. Dolphin had never really appreciated music, but this pianist's brilliance would be evident to anyone. Such incredible control - not for its own sake - but to enable the instrument to speak directly to his soul. He had never heard anything like it - or if he had, he had never before noticed.

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Dolphin found himself holding his breath as the last hum of the song faded into hushed silence. He donned his uniform before opening the pod. Lt. Tauk, Dr. Carrera and Investigator Buttans were talking. The holographic emitters were still projecting a white, baby grand piano that filled the open space in the lounge. Carrera had just joined Buttans on one of the couches. He stood up and called for Hunter to discontiue the piano as soon as Dolphin came out of his pod.

.

"Lt. Dolphin - I'm so sorry," Carrera said, "I didn't know you were sleeping…"

"Please don't be," Dolphin replied. "You woke me from a nightmare. I've never heard anything so beautiful." He wandered over to the replicator and obtained a glass of water. He spared a moment to look at Tauk. The nightmares had started the first night after T'Lon's Pon Farr had ended, but this was the first time they had included Tauk.

Tauk had a concerned look on his face. "Same dream?"

Dolphin was glad of Tauk's promotion to 1st lieutenant. Tauk tended to work shift A and Dolphin typically worked shift B, but since Tauk had moved into the director's lounge, the place felt far less empty. Dolphin wasn't certain he could have taken the nightmares without the young ferengi's presence.

"You need to go to medical," Tauk continued. "If not Dr. Tali Shae, then one of the other doctors."

"Nightmares?" asked Carrera.

Dolphin wasn't certain he wanted to talk about it, but he was glad that Carrera was there. Recently, Carrera and Buttans had spent more time in the director's lounge as well.

"They started right after that thing with T'Lon ended," said Tauk.

"T'Lon hasn't been herself since then either," Buttans observed.

Carrera leaned back into Buttans' arms and relaxed. Then sat up suddenly. "Nightmares about T'Lon?"

"Always," Dolphin replied. "Only sometimes she's my daughter and sometimes it's T'Lok, but it's always T'Lon, She's always crying. And screaming. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it's been non-stop."

"You don't need to see a doctor," Carrera said. "You need to see Tomos. You and T'Lon together. He isn't a strong telepath, but he's the best we've got."

.

"What do you suspect?" Buttans asked.

Carrera pointed at Dolphin's head. "I think he's got a vulcan in there with him. If I'm right, they're going to need to go to Mount Seleya on Vulcan. And soon."

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At that moment the communication system brought Justice Irons' voice into the room. "Senior staff meeting in 30 minutes. Executive conference room."

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"Let's get Tomos and T'Lon in here, now," said Buttans.

"Not here," Tauk countered. "No time. Get them to the executive conference room." He turned to Carrera. "You get Tomos - I'll get T'Lon."

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7.1