DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2004 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG13.



THE DEVIL IN THE DARK: A VOICE IN RAMA

Cheree Cargill



Stardate: 3197.3, Personal Log, First Officer Spock recording.

"Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." -- Matthew 2:17-18

I read that in my mother's Bible. Odd how human religious texts should parallel so well situations I have found in other planetary cultures. It came to mind yesterday as I mind-melded with the Horta. The murdering monster. The slaughtering beast. In reality, simply a mother attempting to protect her offspring from the true murdering monsters, the miners of Janus 6.

Granted, they did not know what they were doing and ceased immediately once they understood, but that does not bring back the thousands. The mother still weeps and will not be comforted. Her babies are gone, crushed in the machinery of invading hordes, ground to dust by men who thought them merely curiously shaped rocks.

I was overwhelmed by her pain. How she survived it, I shall never know. Only her hatred and desire for retribution kept her going. There are many such tales, both true and apocryphal, from many cultures. For instance, there is the story of Queen Boadicea who lived in ancient Britain during the Roman occupation. When her husband, the king of the Iceni tribe died, the Romans reneged on a treaty they'd had with the king and invaded. When Boadicea objected, they tied her to a stake and beat her, then forced her to watch as they raped her two daughters. In retaliation, Boadicea raised an army and took back her lands, generating a rebellion that was successful for about two years. She is considered a national heroine in Britain, even to this day.

I am also reminded of a tale from ancient Vulcan history. I learned it from my tutor, Master Sarnak, when I was very young. This is how it was told…

There lived in the land of Gol, in the days before Surak, a woman of the L'Juna people called Emeru'ana, which means "healing female." She was called this because she was the tribe's medicine woman, as had been her mother and her mother's mother before her for ages past. She was highly prized among her people, for in addition to her knowledge, she was also beautiful and brave. Her father was chief of the L'Juna and, although many warriors competed for possession of her, he was cunning and a great king and no man had yet offered a sufficient bride-price for her.

Raids and warfare were frequent among the tribes of Gol, for water and grazing was in short supply and highly prized by any that could take them and hold them. One such tribe was the Lahsu who viewed the grain and water-rich lands of the L'Juna with great envy. They had come from a foreign land, invaders in search of wealth, and the L'Juna lands were a tempting target.

The Lahsu swept down and, in a great battle, took the lands and put to death the chief and all the men in the villages, taking the women and the children captive. The women were given as prizes to the Lahsu warriors, along with the older girls and comely boys, whom they castrated to keep from growing into men, but the small children and babies were slaughtered as being worthless. The screaming and pleading of their mothers did no good, for the children of the L'Juna were of no use to the conquerors.

Because of her beauty and prestige, Emeru'ana was taken by the Lahsu warrior leader, Taqk, and cruelly used by him. When the Time came upon him, he took her to wife and she bore him a son who was his heir. The boy was fair of face with the look of his Lahsu father's people and Taqk loved him fiercely. So, seemingly, did Emeru'ana, but she never forgot that she was the daughter of the L'Juna or that the Lahsu had slaughtered her people and taken herself and her kin into slavery. Her memory was long and her vengeance well planned.

For a long time, she was guarded and never allowed to leave the Lahsu village, but one day Taqk grew ill from a sour stomach and Emeru'ana cured him with the berries of sid'silak bush. Not long afterwards, he was wounded in a knife battle for possession of a captured hox, a riding beast, and again Emeru'ana healed him with her skills and a compress of dinana teas. Emeru'ana convinced him that she could magically restore to him health and vigor, no matter what the cause, if only she had access to the medicinal plants of the surrounding hills.

She proved as good as her words and all of her healing powers were put to the test. She cured illness and stitched wounds, delivered the half-Lahsu babies of the captured L'Juna women, soothed fevers and lanced swellings, and all the time grew more dear to Taqk as her value increased. But, though their son also grew toward manhood, Emeru'ana's womb was barren. She never brought forth more sons or daughters to grace Taqk's house. Another woman would have been slain for this failure, but Emeru'ana was the largest jewel in his treasury. Taqk took other women and girls for his pleasure and these enlarged his household with their issue. He did not know that her healing knowledge included a draft that prevented conception, for she had vowed never to bear his child again.

Fifteen years had passed since the Lahsu had invaded and Taqk planned a great celebration. Wine and food and music were ordered, all his women and children were commanded to attend, and his heir sat at his right hand in a place of honor. Emeru'ana asked that she be allowed to present all with a special brewed wine that would assure vigor and fertility in all who drank it. The Time was nearing again in Taqk and his son was also near to the Awakening. Taqk greatly desired virility and fertility for all of them.

The wine was delicious and all drank of it eagerly, mothers giving it to their children, and even Taqk's warriors tasting it as well. At the last moment, Taqk grew suspicious and refused the cup that Emeru'ana offered him. "You drink first," he ordered her and she did so without hesitation. Seeing this, he snatched the cup away and downed the rest of it.

And then, as soon as he had drained the wine, he became aware of a low moaning sound that was beginning among all the people at the feast. Faces were beginning to register surprise and pain, women were crying and vomiting, children were convulsing on the floor, warriors were clutching their mid-sections and toppling over. Taqk understood too late -- the wine was poisoned.

As their son and Taqk's heir writhed beside them, his face turning dark green with asphyxiation, Taqk stumbled to his feet and seized Emeru'ana, plunging his long knife into her heart. As she died, she managed her last words: "You took my people from me. Now I take yours from you. I am avenged."

It is not a pretty tale. I can only remember how horrified I was when I first heard this story in childhood. How anyone could murder so many in the name of vengeance was beyond me. Only later did I understand that this was not a tale of morals or a lesson. It was part of my history, part of understanding the path of destruction Vulcan was on before Surak taught us a better way.

I am thankful that such a history lesson will not come from Janus 6. I believe that Chief Vanderburg and his people will be able to work peacefully with the Horta and her descendants to their mutual advantage. There will be no war on that planet for the Federation to resolve.

Not so fortunate are the inhabitants of Organia. We have received a priority red order to reach that planet before a Klingon task force does and prevent them from claiming Organia as a base of operations. The population of Organia is both primitive and peaceful. They will be as the proverbial sheep before wolves if we do not reach them in time. We are in route now at Warp 7 and should arrive there in four point three two hours.

As far as we know, the Organians will not resist the Klingon invasion unless we ally with them to do so. And there will not be an Emeru'ana among them unless we take that role ourselves. I hope it will not come to that. Captain Kirk will not allow it in any case. He does not believe in the "no win" scenario. We shall see.

THE END