DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Trish and is copyright (c) 2002 by Trish. Rated PG.



The Greatest Sacrifice

Trish



The tall, striking woman stared far out into the distance past the silver expanses of the grassland and even further than the purple sky beyond. At her back the muted gray canvas of the makeshift tents that had become home rustled unheaded in the breeze. Her eyes were fixed upon something in her own mind, something far away, what used to be. Her thoughts were of someone else, the woman she used to be. That was before, when she had a different purpose. Now, her entire being was focused only upon one thing. Her brain replayed the events of the day that had brought herself and the others here, to this place. She did not even know where they were exactly.

It all seemed so long ago, but at times it felt like only yesterday. They had begun their voyage from far away, several parsecs. It had been deemed too dangerous for the entire ship to orbit the planet at a close distance. Too many anomalies had been registered. They had barely left the safety of the Enterprise's reach when they were pulled, almost as if caught in a tractor beam, toward the immense lump of rock. They had traveled faster than their engines could have allowed. It seemed like the result of some force that not even their instruments could measure. She remembered the plummet toward the planet at near warp that had ripped their engines apart. Her mind still felt the shock at finding that, by her calculations the speed had actually sent them hurtling backward through time, nearly eighteen years. When finally, they had been able to stop, the shuttle was as good as destroyed, and they had no hope of returning to their original position. The ship was gone.

There was no time here, at least in the sense that she and rest of the humanoid members of the landing party she had commanded knew of it. They had managed somehow to keep themselves alive. Somehow her tricorder had not ceased to function and they were able to keep some normal account of the passing of days. Each person had lent their skills and knowledge to creating something of a life here. That is, save for one, who was too small and helpless yet. The gentle stirring in her arms brought her back to reality. With the smile she reserved for only one living being, the woman who used to know herself as Number One adoringly cradled her baby against her.

She had not even known she was pregnant when the captain had assigned her to lead the landing party which would explore this strange new planet. If he had, she was certain he would never have let her go. It was, after all, his child as well. Neither had meant for it to happen, that night alone in his quarters. They had met to go over some ship records and discuss the crew's annual evaluations. When she arrived, the woman he called only Number One found that Captain Christopher Pike had prepared a meal for them. She thought little of it, a working dinner was not unusual aboard a starship.

The tone of the evening changed when the captain openned a vintage bottle of wine after the meal. It had always been obvious, but unspoken, that they had entertained feelings for one another. Almost from the very beginning of their time together on the Enterprise they had known. It was of little consequence, as their ranks and working relationship dictated that their interactions remain strictly professional. That night it was different. Both fatigued from a long day's duty, having imbibed a bit too much, and each willing to surrender to long denied passions, they shared the evening together in his bed. Only a few short days afterward, she came to this place. It almost felt as if she had been robbed, almost.

The beautiful officer shifted her infant daughter against her neck and reveled in the nearness of the child she had named after the baby's father.

"It's alright, Christine. Sleep my precious," she whispered and soothed the baby. As if sensing her mother's care and ability to protect her, the newborn complied happily.

"We're ready to test the shuttlecraft again," a man's voice said softly from behind her.

She turned pensively to meet his gaze. "I bet you and your wife wish you had stayed at your posts at the University, instead of volunteering to conduct field research on the Enterprise, Dr. Chapel."

"Well..." The older man smiled thoughtfully. "On one hand, it's a wonderful opportunity, but yes. I admit the thought has crossed our minds." The scientist crossed to stand by her side. He fingered the baby's hands thoughtfully. "It's just that Melanie and I were hoping to start a family once we returned to Earth. She really doesn't want to chance having a child on this planet."

The first officer countered with her own experience. "She should go ahead. It's really not so bad." She stroked her little girl's blonde hair, just beginning to cover the tiny head.

"Tell her that--" Dr. Chapel began.

Before he could finish his thought, a huge explosion jolted them from their conversation. The entire planet shook with such force it felt as if the ground would tear apart. A mere second had not passed before streaks of fire began shooting across the sky turning it a terrible orange. Number One pressed tiny Christine against her as one of her junior crewmen rushed up beside them.

"Come on!" the young man shouted. "It's was some kind of comet, and there's more!"

"Is the shuttle operational yet?" Number One demanded, terror for her child in her eyes.

"We better hope so. Your wife's already there, Dr. Chapel," the ensign answered as the group hastily began its journey toward their only chance for survival.

Dr. Chapel guided Number One along the rocky path which led to the disabled craft that had brought them there. Her gait was slowed somewhat and her balance hard to find as she clung to her daughter. The frightened baby screamed against her mother's chest with every step. They had tried for over a year now to repair the space craft. They had one hope left and they needed it now. The world was falling apart around them. Huge boulders fell from the cliffs above them, raining fiery horror down upon them.

Nearly to open ground, they broke into a sprint. Number One, caring for her baby, was in the rear. Suddenly part of the cliff wall broke away and came crashing toward her. She was not fast enough to escape its path. Knocked to ground, she covered little Christine with her arms and kept the child safe. Her legs, however, were pinned beneath tons of immovable stone.

Immediately, Dr. Chapel came racing back to help her. He threw his weight against the rock, grunting and in a near panic to help the fallen mother, he strained with all his might. It was to no avail. The rock would not budge.

"It's no use!" Number One winced in pain. "Please, take my baby!" she screamed.

"We'll get you out!" Dr. Chapel encouraged her.

"There's no time! Take her! Please! Save her!" she pleaded.

The young ensign looked at his commander. "That's an order!" Number One yelled. She kissed her child one last time and desperately hid the tears that tore at her heart as the doctor took the baby from her. Helplessly she watched her daughter and the others enter the shuttle, praying that the engines would work. Her will was for her child's survival, overcoming the pain she felt. The shuttle sputtered and died.

"No!" she screamed.

Once again the engines were started. This time the craft lifted from where it had sat useless just days before. It was the only time, save for the day her daughter was born, that Number One allowed herself to cry. As she watched her baby being carried to a life she would not share, she prayed that the little girl would find safety, warmth, and joy, all the things she had wanted so desperately to give her.

"Oh, my sweet baby. You're safe. My Christine," Number One uttered to herself below the din of the disintegrating planet. Then there was darkness.



The End

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