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A Place to Stand

Posted on Thu Aug 11th, 2022 @ 11:17pm by Captain Shran dh'Klar & Lieutenant Ayana Hillis & Commander Samantha Howard & Lieutenant Commander Shoniara T’ghann-Travis Dr & Ensign T'Plana-hath & Ensign James Phoenix

Mission: A Trip to Middle Earth
Location: Holodeck 1 - Moria

They traveled for what seemed like hours, only dim light from torches to push against the blackness. They had passed many different passage ways, even traversed a great hall, and Shran was grateful that they had thus far managed to avoid any further contact. They had hidden from a few roaming bands or orcs, ragtag scouting parties that they could have dispatched, but not without causing enough noise to alert others. Finally they came to a small overlook and before seeing it, Shran heard it, music to his ears. He moved closer to where Shon and T'Plana were and looked out, and he saw it, a dozen waterfalls that went on for what seems like miles and they collected below in what looked like a beautiful lake. Shran looked around and spotted exactly what they needed. "Look there, a small grotto. It has the water near the entrance and provide excellent cover from much of the surrounding area. We can hold up there and rest if nothing else for a while."

Shon looked at the breathtakingly beautiful scene and made her way with T’Plana to the grotto that Shran had noticed. The area was clean of bones which meant that nothing lived in the grotto that might fancy a dirty group of Star Fleet officers for dinner. She smiled despite the pain in her shoulder and thigh, and concern for her fellow officers and friends made her, as Sam’s 21C begin to move amongst them ascertaining how they were. Sam looked drawn and exhausted so she moved over to her. “Sam, rest here, let me take your pack?” Shon said indicating a smooth piece of rock jutting up like a chair from the floor.

Sam nodded silently, too tired to argue with the perfectly sound logic. She hated being the liability but the ghosts of away missions gone wrong in the past continued to plague her, leaving exhausted and anxious, questioning her own ability.

T’Plana looked at the view of the falls, the air was heavy with moisture, which hurt her lungs, but she made no outward sign of her breathing issues, especially to the two sharp eyed doctors in their party. T’Plana wondered what lifeform may live in the water of the lake. She had read the Tolkien books and recalled that in the books that there were monstrous creatures
distant, It was concerned and trying to reach out to assess how the captain and the party was doing. It was to far away and T’Plana was not familiar enough with the individual’s mind to pull it closer. She sent out a thought Captain and crew have sustained injuries and need help. Grave danger. She was not sure if her message made it through or not as the distance was great and Shon’s mind was acting like a white noise generator in her mind.

Shon took out the remaining food in her pack. “I have Elven bread and some cheese left. We really should eat to keep our strengths up. Captain do you think we could light a fire? I am concerned about Sam and would like to get her warm so she could sleep better.” She asked Shran.

Shran looked at Shon, "I was thinking the same thing." He walked towards the back and looked around, seeing what he was hoping for. "Look here, a small firepit. It appears to have coal for burning. We can make a fire here with little fear."

Shon took out a flint and a small stained rag from her pack and took something that looked like dried moss from a crevice in the cave. She stuck the lint and a spark burned into the lint and caught fire. The moss increased the flame and the ‘coal’ caught. She took her blanket and made a pillow. “Sam” she whispered, “please come and lie by the fire. Eat some of this Elven bread then try and sleep for a while. We are safe here.”

Sam followed silently, her eyes drawn and haunted. She felt anything but safe but had to keep going if they were going to get out of this mess. The elven bread was filling and abated the gnawing in her stomach, quieting her mind enough to allow some rest. The flicker of the fire was hypnotic, the voices of the conversation around her becoming muted and distant. She hoped they would make it out alive.

Ayana walked up next to Shran, "I'll take the first watch. Give you and the others time to rest, eat, regain your strength."

Shran nodded. "That sounds agreeable."

Shon sat by the fire for a little while wondering what was happening on the ship, surely by now they had realized something was wrong and were trying to extract them. After a while she decided to take a chance on the water as it looked so inviting. She moved away from their little camp to what looked like a small pool out of sight of the others. She quickly undressed and slipped into the cold water. It took her breath away for a minute but it felt wonderful. Dirt flowed from her body and hair in a steady stream, making its own brown river in the clean water as she dove underneath checking for, what, she did not dare to think about. However there seemed to be nothing. No sign of fish or water mammals that might possibly have made the group a good hot meal. After a few minutes she exited the water shivering. She washed her clothing as well as she could and, not for the first time wished for a clothing replicator. She dressed leaving her leather armor off, walked back to the fire and gently steamed as she began to clean and sharpen her weapons.

After some time she stood and checked on Sam. She seemed to be sleeping and Shon covered her with her own blanket. She headed over to where Shran sat. “Sir, I am very worried about Sam, I do not think she will be able to fight if it comes to it again, she ate some Elven bread and is sleeping now but medically and mentally she is deteriorating. What are our options going forward?”

Shran wasn't far from Sam, sitting against the wall near the fire with his gaze on Sam as he also kept an eye on the entrance of the grotto where Ayana was standing guard. He turned his attention to Shon, "Our options are few. We could continue to move or we can hold here. I think that our best option is to hold here. Only one way we can be attacked if we remain here, and it offers a chance to somewhat bottleneck a horde if such a thing were to happen. Ayana, Phoenix, and I are in the best shape should a conflict come, T'Plana would be midrange, and you and Sam would be more or less helpless in a fight. I have to believe we only need to hold out for a short time before Jon and the other's get us out of here."

Shon bristled. “I am far from helpless in a fight Captain, despite my injuries I am fully aware of my capability’s.” She stood and walked off.

T’Plana came out of her meditation perplexed. She was unsure of the mind she felt but knew it was a real mind and not some phantasm created by the holo deck. She got up and walked over to the captain as she needed to report this development, perhaps he or another member of the party could shed some light on the subject. As she approached she overheard the captain and Shon’s conversation. She knelt next to them “Two things captain I must discuss. The first is while I was meditating I felt an unfamiliar mind seeking to understand how we where doing, I did not recognize the mind but did try to communicate our situation to the individual. It was difficult and I am unsure if the individual received the message.” She deliberately left out the fact that Shon’s undisciplined mind and psychic energy was and had made it difficult. “Are there other strong psychically inclined individuals aboard the ship? Also, with Shon’s help I believe we may be able to assist Sam, it would require a mind meld with both of us as I believe she is suffering from a break within her mind, most likely due to her conflicting beliefs and oaths as a medical doctor and the violence she has had to participate in.” With that she waited to see what the other two had to say perfectly balanced in her kneeling state.

Shon turned around. “The Captain does not care for Vulcan mind melds T’Plana.”

Shran looked to T'Plana, "Based on what you describe, I would say you made contact with Callie. She is our chief counselor and is half-Betazoid. She is more an empath." He smiled as he closed his eyes and his antennae raised. He opened his eyes a moment later, "Lt Celes, who is a full Betazoid has made telepathic contact with me. They are aware of our situation and appear near a solution. We simply have to hold out a little while longer."

T’Plana smiled at Shon, “Most Andorians don’t. Comes from a past history of our two species and conflicts.” She then turned to the captain “I assure you captain I intend no funny business and Shon will be present in the meld. If Commander Samantha is willing to allow us to try a mind meld, may we? She needs help in reconciling her actions against her long held beliefs. I can also assure you I find no pleasure in performing a mind meld, as it reveals things about me that I consider personal and private, to an untrained mind.” With that statement she turned and looked at Shon, knowing she had seen an image of Chu’lak, and her being a Sa-ka-ashausu.

"I'll leave the decision in Sam's hands. It is her mind you wish to meld with. Shon is right though, I'm not a fan of mind melds. If Sam agrees to it, proceed. I think it would better to wait until we are out of here, but I'm not the one being melded with in this case" Shran replied in a blunt matter of fact way.

Ayana looked back, "Did anyone else feel that?" She looked around. The ground shook again. "Am I alone in feeling that rumbling?"

Shran made his way to the front of the grotto and looked around himself. In the distance, a passageway lit up in a fiery glow. "Damn. Everyone to defensive positions. Somebody has awakened the balrog."

“We cannot fight that thing” Shon repeated what everyone else was thinking. Our only chance is to find somewhere to hide maybe we should go deeper into these water caves?”

Shran looked back at everyone. "We can't run. You and T'Plana stay in the back with Sam. Ayana, you and Phoenix get behind me as well. If this thing is going to attack us, I'm the only one capable of fighting it."

Ayana protested, "I am not about to let you fight that thing. Even in the books only wizards dared to try, and while Gandalf bested it, he died in the process."

"True enough. But I'm not Gandalf" Shran replied in his serious manner.

In the distance, the passage grew lighter, and suddenly the entranceway was filled by a terrible fiery evil which screamed in a most dreadful manner. The Balrog was massive, a fiery creature that looked like it was made of coal and brimstone that was burning red hot, and its vile gaze was now set upon the grotto.

T’Plan looked at the Balrog, she smiled grimly. A creature that appeared to be made of fire. She quickly turned to the Sam “Take every arrow in the party and soak them in the water, move quickly and be sure they are all thoroughly soaked. When they are bring them back to me. Then you and Shon move to the far side of the water in this grotto, and as close to the edge so you can jump to the lake below.” She looked at Shon “The captain is correct the two of you are not warriors but healers, there is no shame in that. Yes you can fight when you need to, but now we need you two to be safe and ready to repair and heal us after this battle. If I am correct this creature will be susceptible to water and will not willingly enter water. I’ll cover the others with the soaked arrows, and hopefully inflict damage to it.”

Shon bridled at T’Plana’s words and orders. She knew the Balrog would not be affected by water, it was too huge and the temperature would just turn the ineffectual arrows to steam. She knew however this was not the time to say anything, she would protect Sam and either live or die, just like in life we are never in charge of our fate. She thought of Seth and Shasta and wished them a full and happy life with each other if she did not survive. She drew her sword and stood with Sam.

It was a creature unlike she had ever seen, huge in stature with a roar that could only be associated with its pissed off attitude and size. Sam awoke with a start, seeing the others hastily preparing themselves for another battle. Her heart froze within her chest and her breath caught in her throat. "No" was a whisper of disbelief and of terror. She was ushered to the waterline at the back of the group and waited for what she was sure was going to be her ultimate demise.

Shon took Sam’s hand. “Sam, take deep breaths and try to calm yourself, remember the relaxation techniques I taught you. We are together and if we are to die remember all the good you have done and the lives you have saved. You are with your colleagues and your friends and we will make a fight of it until the very end.
She remembered the prayer of Valinor and began to softly sing.

O Elbereth Starkindler
White glittering, slanting down sparkling like a jewel,
The glory of the starry host!
Having gazed far away
From the tree-woven lands of Middle-earth,
To thee, everwhite, I will sing,
On this side of the Sea,
Here on this side of the Ocean.

O Elbereth Starkindler,
From heaven gazing afar,
To thee I cry now beneath the shadow of death!
O look towards me, Everwhite!

The Balrog lurched forward as it made itself ever closer to the group. Howls of fear echoed about as the orcs and goblins that inhabited Moria hurried to hide in fear. The Balrog was truly a creature of darkness, an evil nightmare given form. And yet, while this lumbering hulk approached, Shran stood defiantly out in the open. He hadn't drawn his sword, instead he seemed to have something hidden in his hand, a part of it barely visible which gleamed in the light.

Phoenix assumed his defensive position behind Shran and next to Ayana. He detached his bow from his back, readied it, and took a couple of arrows out of his quiver. He made mental and physical checks that the rest of his gear was there by feeling for them. They were. even if Shran was going to be the primary one fighting, he wanted to be ready for anything.

The Balrog roared loudly and lit up like a brilliant flaming star. The very sight of the great beast would bring terror upon virtually anyone, and yet Shran stood before it unphased. From his hand, the glowing object grew into a staff with a jeweled header. Shran began to speak solemnly, "I am the servant of the secret fire, wielder of the Flame of Arnor. The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udun." With this the crystal began to glow and what looked to be some sort of forcefield seemed to form around him. The Balrog drew a flaming sword and struck, but the attack crashed upon Shran's raised staff and field, the impact generating a white light and extinguishing the sword. The Balrog howled loudly at this event. Shran stood defiantly, "Go back to shadow."

T’Plana could sense Shon’s anger at her comments but ignored them. She knew that the arrows would not make it to the creature, unless they were soaked in water. The action was very similar to what humans did to their bamboo skewers before making shish kebabs. The moisture kept the wooden bamboo from going up in flame over the heat. She took four arrows, the first arrow would be for the creatures right eye, followed by a second to its left eye. To ensure success she would then repeat the attack pattern. With skill she may be able to at least blind the creature, if she was really skilled her arrows would find the creatures brain, putting an end to it as a threat. T’Plana however, did not hold much faith in this, at most she would distract it from the captain and others, allowing them to act against it. For T’Plana the goal was as many troublesome head shots as possible. With that she drew back and fired four arrows in rapid succession, just as the captain let lose with his own trick. As she fired she began to slowly hum. Stirring her Vulcan blood towards battle, she hoped it would not affect the others, especially the captain and Shon.

Shon knelt by the water her sword before her like a crusader cross protecting Sam. The light glinted off it as she directed it back into the Balrog’s eyes. She did not know if it would do any good but it was all she could do. She refused to close her eyes rather wanted to stare death in the face if that was to be her fate.

Phoenix turned his head and did a quick double take to make sure that everyone else was behind him, Ayana, and the Captain. After all, it was still one of his duties to help keep everyone safe.

Ayana looked back to see where everyone else was and then looked at Phoenix, a slight smile on her face. "This is almost identical to what happened in the book. I totally get the name the captain used for this now. Shran the Blue isn't just a clever ploy to him being Andorian, he has also assumed the role of a wizard. If we weren't fighting for our lives right now this would be completely awesome."

Shran remained defiant in his stance with the Balrog as it roared once more before lurching forward. The ground shook with each step it took, and Shran noticed that some of the ground was looking weak, a deep chasm possible lay beneath them. He took his staff and raised it vertically, "You shall not pass!" he exclaimed and slammed the staff into the ground.


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