Sunday, July 22, 2012

Your Enemy is Dead Part VIII


Your Enemy is Dead

 Chapter VIII

It was the next day, early in the evening.  Janice Rand was aglow as she stood in the turbolift, headed downward to engineering.  Across from her stood a young science officer who wore a black headscarf in contrast to her blue uniform tunic.  Instead of the short dress usually worn by the women in the crew, she wore the same black uniform pants as the men.  She was Lt. Zmed, a Syrian officer specializing in the workings of crystals in space travel.

“My goodness, look at you!" said Zmed, noticing Rand's high spirits. "Is it that young man of yours?"

“It’s that’s obvious, huh?”  Both women laughed good naturedly.

“We’re gonna go over a map of that space station to see where we can visit,” said Rand.

“Oh, yes.  I’m looking forward to that myself.  We can definitely use some shore leave,” said Zmed, with relief.

“We sure can!”

The lieutenant came over to Rand and playfully elbowed her on her side and said, “And I’ll bet shore leave for you will be extra nice.”

There was another round of laughter from the two women when the door to the turbolift opened.

“I guess this is us,” said Zmed, while she and Rand stepped out of the turbolift and onto the floor.  After the two women said their goodbyes and parted ways, Rand headed to engineering with an extra bounce to her step.  Her smiled grew even broader when she spotted Lt. Shapiro by the entrance.

“Hey, George!”  called Rand, waving to the crewman.

“Hey, beautiful!  How’s it going?”  asked Shapiro, displaying a big smile for the blonde.

“Great!  Have you seen Khobran?  He and I have plans for shore leave!”

“Khobran was headed your way, or so I thought.”

“He’s not here?”  asked Rand, her voice trailing off slightly.

“He left about 15 minutes ago.  He seemed to be in a hurry.”

Rand’s brows knitted as she wondered how Khobran could forget their date.

“That’s strange.  He didn’t contact me at all.  You think he went to his quarters?”

Shapiro shook his head and drew his lips together in a tight line.

“I honestly couldn’t tell you,” he said, looking at Rand.

After a short while, he shrugged his shoulders.  “Well, I’m sure it’s no big deal.  He probably did go to his quarters.  You could try there.”

Rand nodded her head warily.  “I think I will.  Thanks, George,” she said while she turned and headed back to the turbolift.
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Rand pressed the side buzzer of the door to Khobran’s quarters.  When she heard his deep voice saying come in from the other side of the door, Rand let out a sigh of relief and gratefully stepped inside his quarters.   Rand spotted Khobran sitting at his desk in front of his computer, looking pensive.  Rand felt her worry melt away when she rushed to him, threw her arms around his neck, and leaned against him.

“How’s my lover doing?”  Rand reveled in the strength and warmth of her Orion boyfriend.

Khobran sat at his desk, his body rigid and unresponsive under Rand’s touch, his eyes glued to the computer.  Rand flinched away from the cool distance coming from the young Orion and proceeded to loosen her arms from his neck.  Something was different here, something was wrong.

“Hey, honey.  Is everything all night?”  she asked, confused and hesitant.  Looking at Khobran’s handsome face, Rand saw something dark residing there.  There was no warmth, no openness like before.

“I don’t know, I guess.”  Khobran’s voice came out in a steely monotone, his arms never once leaving his side to embrace her.

Rand was suddenly uncomfortable in his presence, self-conscious that she was intruding in his space.  She hoped that this feeling was an overreaction as she reached out to stroke the smooth skin of her boyfriend’s cheek, which sat tight and hollow from the setting of his jaw.

“I went down to engineering to pick you up, but Shapiro told me you had left around 15 minutes ago.  Why didn’t you…”

The Orion mechanically reached over and removed Rand’s arms from around his neck and walked away from her, his back facing her.

“I really don’t need for you to waltz into engineering and yap about our relationship!  I don’t need anymore gossip down there!” he snapped.

Rand was numb.  She felt herself start to sway at her feet.  What the hell was happening here, and what the hell had happened between yesterday and this very moment?  Khobran’s back rose and fell before he finally turned to face her.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice strained.  “That was uncalled for.”  Khobran looked down on the floor, his body held tight.

Rand’s throat constricted while she fought to take in a breath.  It came out shallow and unsteady.  “I would certainly agree with you there, Khobran.  That was totally, completely uncalled for.” 

Khobran raised his head and looked at Rand, his violet eyes holding an urgency to them.

“Janice, I simply can’t be with you right now.  There’s too much going on at this time, and I have way too much on my mind.”

Rand’s body went ramrod straight, her hands balling up into fists. 

“Guess that means we don’t have a date tonight, huh?” she asked icily.

“Not today,” said Khobran softly.

“Will we ever have a date again, Khobran?  Did I do anything that you’re not being candid about here?” 

He closed his eyes and raised his hands  surrender, his body language speaking volumes to the fact that he wanted Rand to leave his quarters.

“Janice, this has nothing to do with you.  Really.”

Rand snorted.  “Really.  Nothing to do with me.”  Her eyes narrowed at Khobran.

“I’m sorry, you’ll just have to take my word for it, but I need for you to leave now.  Please.”

“Well, talk about finality,” she said in disdain.

Rand looked at Khobran for one last withering moment before she turned and stormed out of his quarters.  As the door closed behind her, Rand started down the hall.  She would be sure, that as she reached the wider part of the corridor, to pick up her pace.  Rand wanted to be in her own quarters as soon as possible, so that no one would be able to see her cry.
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It was early the next morning.  Rand stood in front of her dresser mirror, her long blond hair combed and brushed and hanging to her back.  She turned her head indifferently from side to side, wondering how she’d wear her hair on this day.  Her heart really wasn’t in it, but it was a way to distract her from Khobran’s confusing and hurtful behavior yesterday.  She did have to admit that she was partly to blame for what happened.  She should have pinned him down, forced an explanation from him--but she didn’t.  She wondered if it was too late to do so now, as she looked at herself squarely in the mirror and sighed.

“Should I contact him?”

She turned from her mirror to the computer on her desk, looking at the blank viewing screen.  Rand walked hesitantly to her desk and sat down in front of the console.  She sat there for a moment and closed her eyes.  Will he be there?  Will he answer my call if he is there?  She opened her eyes, throwing caution and disappointment to the wind, turning on her computer console.  As the screen lit up in front of her, she pressed another button that had the number to Khobran’s quarters memorized. 

The chime to his quarters went unanswered for some time before the computer’s artificial voice announced that no one was present. 

“He probably had to go to work early,” she thought, dejected.

She got up from her desk and dragged her feet back to the dresser mirror.  Rand had been wearing her hair in longer, softer styles since she and Khobran had been seeing each other, but she frankly didn’t feel very good about the relationship at this moment.  He hadn’t even tried to contact her and apologize for his behavior, or give an explanation for it.  Rand leaned into the dresser mirror and gave her hair another look.

“I think I know what ‘s appropriate for this time,” she said to herself while she pulled out the top drawer and proceeded to take out an arsenal of hair accessories.
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“Good Morning, Yeoman.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that hairdo,” said Kirk, smiling at Rand as she stood to the left-hand side of his chair.

Rand acknowledged the captain with a weak smile.  She reached behind her and patted her familiar basket-weave hairdo.

“I missed my old friend,” she said.

As she turned to the large screen in front of her, she could see the planet Adrius IV.  It closely resembled Earth’s moon.  A large expanse of blinking lights on the surface outlined the underground space station of Hades.  The sight was nothing short of awesome, the lights stretching out far and wide.

“You know, a lot of crewmembers have already been beaming down to that space station.  I guess they want to take advantage before they report to work,” Kirk said with enthusiasm. 

Rand, on hearing this, turned to Kirk.  “Really?” she asked sadly.

She turned back to the large viewing screen and bit her lip.  Rand had looked forward, very much so, to spending her free time with Khobran on the space station.  She wasn’t even sure if she wanted to bother going down there anymore.  As she gazed at the space station Hades with surrounding starships hovering over it, Rand felt a dull emptiness in her gut.  For the first time since her peak days of being in love with the captain, she was lonely.
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Rand and Uhura headed down the corridor on their way to the recreation room.  They were deep in conversation, so much so that they were walking at a snail’s pace, much to the annoyance of the passers-by who had to make detours around them.

“I don’t know, Nyota.  I can’t understand his sudden change in behavior,” Rand fretted.

“Janice, have you tried to pin him down on exactly what the problem might be?”

Rand hesitated, teetering her head from side to side.  “Well, no,” she admitted.

“That’s what I’m saying.  Have a talk with him before jumping to conclusions,” Uhura said with emphasis.

Rand threw up her hands and snorted.  “I think my conclusions about men have been pretty accurate in the past…”

“That’s ridiculous, Janice!  You’re letting your past with men cloud your judgment in this particular case!”

Rand sighed raggedly and crossed her arms in defense mode.  “Look, all I know is what’s in front of me!  Khobran has not returned my calls, nor have I been able to reach him!”

“Well, I saw him this morning headed for the transporter room to beam down to Hades.  I’m sure that’s why you haven’t been able to reach him.”

Rand suddenly stopped where she was and uncrossed her arms.  She was clearly stunned as she looked at Uhura, her mouth open and her eyes widened. 

“Uhura, Khobran and I were supposed to go down to Hades together to check it out,” she said in a cracked voice.

“I’m sure you and Khobran will have a great time on Hades together, after he takes care of his business, “ Uhura said simply.

“Business?”

“I think he’s going to Hades to meet someone important, at least that’s what he told Scotty in passing.”

Rand felt numb again, the same feeling that she had yesterday during her argument with Khobran.  She placed her hands on her stomach, feeling a weighted pit deep down.

“Meeting someone?  He tells Scotty and not me?!” 

“He just told Scotty in passing as he was rushing to the transporter room, Janice.  That’s all.”

Rand was seething now.  “I’ll bet it’s a woman!”

“Oh, please, Janice!  You don’t know that!  And even if it is, so what?  Maybe it’s an old instructor, or a relative.  You don’t know!”

Rand rolled her eyes up at the ceiling, feeling the tears brim her eyes.  “Yeah, right!”

She lowered her eyes and wiped at her tears.  When Rand looked up again, her face  was set into a grimace.

“What’s wrong, Janice?  What are you looking at?”  asked Uhura, as she notice the sudden angry shift in her best friend.

Leaning against the rim of the sickbay entrance was Christine Chapel.  She wasn’t looking at Rand or Uhura, but in the opposite direction down the corridor, oblivious to their presence. 

Rand continued to keep her eyes on Chapel, as if waiting for her to push an emotional button.  When Chapel finally turned her head to the two women, her eyes met Rand’s.

“The door seems to be your favorite hangout, especially when I happen to be walking down the hall, right?!”  Rand’s eyes were like daggers bearing into Chapel.

Chapel was visibly startled, pushing herself off the door’s rim and straightening her posture.  She gave Rand a look of genuine surprise and confusion, even resorting to looking both ways before returning to Rand, for verification that the hostility was indeed aimed at her.

Rand continued her tirade.  “What?!  No sexual puns today, lady?!”

“What the hell,” Chapel yelped, placing her hands on her chest.

Rand was suddenly surrounded by onlookers who were murmuring to one another, giving her odd glances.  She became keenly aware of how unhinged she must have appeared, yelling at a woman who, for once, was innocent of any childish, competitive digs.  Rand threw her arms up in the air, helpless, defeated, and embarrassed as she ran away from Uhura, Chapel, and everyone else to escape to her quarters.

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