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Darkened Halls

By Sandy

Part 1

Dark figures all around her, pressing closer, hurting her. Afraid. alone, nothing but the figures that press pain into her body.

Cold sharp steel runs over her body, slowly, making her blood run in rivers down her creamy skin, tinting it crimson.

Searing pain as steel and flesh enter her. Screaming, her voice hoarse from the pain.

A coppery taste enters her mouth as violent tremors rack her body. Rough hands holding her, pushing, feeling, hurting.

Blackness, unconsciousness slipping into her mind, sharp pain in her face jerking her awake. Laughter as she goes limp with hopelessness.

Pain intensifies as electric currents make her limbs thrash and her body tremble.

A hand around her neck, squeezing, choking her leaving no air to pass through the vise-like hold.

Red and yellow dots burst in her vision. Blackness once again taken away as the hand moves from her neck to a gaping hole, where blood runs freely.

Cold hard fingers pushing into it making the blood, her blood, pulse and gush steadily.

Hard hands push her forward into an equally hard form. Shrill laughter echoes in her ears as she's pushed once again. Concrete meets her scull and when blackness and oblivion descends she is not pulled from it.  

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Doctor Stephen Franklin was sitting in his office reviewing charts when a fairly new nurse burst into his office. He opened his mouth to ask why he was interrupted in such a manner when the nurse spoke rather urgently about a patient that had just been brought in.

"Slow down, your not making any sense," Franklin said raising a hand to stress the matter.

"Sir, there's a patient that’s... that's in very bad condition, he.. she was just brought in by a lurker and the blood and-" The woman said haltingly, stopping when Franklin stood up. She turned and practically ran out of the room.

Franklin followed the nurse out to where some of his staff was most likely surrounding the patient. Franklin didn't waste any time and quickly got into the bustle of working on the patient. After getting over the initial shock of seeing a body that was so bloodied and bruised that it was unrecognizable, he called for the stats of the patient.

"Scanners indicate rape, sexual battery and multiple stab wounds. Condition: severe" came the monotone voice of an aide that was holding a scanner.

Franklin nodded, more to himself than to the aide and turned to receive the medical instrument that was being handed to him. He quickly cut away the clothing after acknowledging the fact that it was an Earth Force uniform. As he was pulling away the jacket he saw a glint from the lapel and examined it carefully. He visibly paled when he saw what it was.

"Oh god," he whispered.

He threw away the jacket and turned back to the patient with renewed vigor. Knowing that the patient was one of his friends made him sick, but he showed no signs of it as he worked hard on Commander Susan Ivanova.

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"Why did you call me down here Stephen?" Captain John Sheridan asked curiously, slightly worried, a slightly urgent Doctor Franklin had called him down to Medlab. Stephen didn't look to good, either.

"Something happened, why don't we talk it over in my office," Stephen said, glad for the medical training that helped him stop from shaking. He had just worked on a friend of his, one that might not live, and had been very reluctant to stop working on her and give her to the surgical unit.

Sheridan followed Stephen into his office and sat down, now more than a little worried. He could tell, even through the placid mask the doctor had on, that he was upset about something.

"I... a little while ago I sent Susan to surgery." Franklin said simply, looking straight into Sheridan's eyes.

"What?" John asked shocked at the mild statement.

"Susan was brought in with stab wounds, and she had been raped. She was in very bad condition when I worked on her. She's in surgery right now for internal injuries the knife caused. She might not live," Stephen replied, keeping the doctor's mask up even though his eyes were filled with pain.

The information that Sheridan had just received didn't compute. He didn't want to believe what Stephen was saying, didn't want to believe that Susan was hurt, let alone fighting for her life. He stood up abruptly.

"No," He whispered, "no she can't be hurt."

The look in Stephen's eyes made him realize the words that had been spoken to him were true. Susan, his XO and close friend, was in surgery fighting for her life. He fell back into his chair and stared at his hands. A thousand thoughts jumped into his head as he searched the lines in his palms for answers. He blinked and looked up at Stephen, who had a look of helplessness on his face, his cold exterior finally removed.

"I tried, I did, but I don't know if it did any good," He said brokenly, looking away from the hurt look on his Captains face.

"Stephen, will she be ok?" John asked quietly.

"I don't know, she... her- her injuries were very severe. And I just don't know," Stephen answered still not looking at the Captain. The chime of his com startled both men out of their painful thoughts. Stephen answered it and a small blond came onto the screen.

"Doctor, the Commander just came out of surgery. There wasn't much we could do, her internal wounds were just to bad, and it'll be amazing if she survives the night. She's in the ICU room 2." The woman said her face the mirror of what Stephen's had been like when he had asked the Captain into his office.

After hearing this Stephen nodded and the screen went blank. He turned back to where Sheridan was sitting and saw him with his head in his hands. He knew that the Captain was restraining himself, he was doing the same. He wanted to hit something or yell but years of training and experience stopped him.

"Come on," Franklin said, walking out of the room. Sheridan got up from his seat and followed the doctor to wherever he was leading him. They stopped outside of a door, both hesitant about entering. Sheridan called for the door to open and he and Stephen walked into the room.

There lying on the bed was Susan. On a casual glance she looked normal save a few bruises, but on closer examination one could see how frail and fragile she was. Tubes and instruments were attached to her and machines beeped.

"Oh god, Susan," John said when he saw how bad she was. He walked over to where she was lying and looked down on her. Her skin was pale and pasty, except for slight purple that indicated where she had been hit. She looked like she wasn't even alive.

"She'll be ok, and if i know her, she'll want the people who did this to go down, I'm going to speak to Garibaldi," he said, his voice not wavering as before. He left the room leaving a desolate looking Doctor staring at a body that seemed to be nothing else.

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Talia Winters felt edgy, and very nervous. She had felt an unfamiliar presence around her mind, reaching for her. It was as if the presence was seeking solace in her mind, but it couldn't because of her blocks. It pushed at her walls and pleaded to be let in, but Talia wouldn't let it. She didn't know what was going on, but the presence brought what seemed like memories of pain and fear.

It was as if it was someone's mind seeking another place to take up resident in. Talia was also scared because it took a very strong telepath to be able to do that. To take a place in somebody else's mind was something that only a very few telepaths could do and it took training, a lot of training.

Talia was tiring from the constant knocking on her mental blocks and briefly wondered if she should let it in just to get some peace. She dismissed that thought and tuned in to the negotiations that she was supposed to be participating in.

Her clients came to a reasonable agreement and they all got up from the table. Talia shook hands with both men and then left the small resturant. She walked back to her quarters and sat down on her couch, leaning her head against the back and closing her eyes. She pulled off her black gloves and rubbed her temples.

A dream, first fuzzy and distorted, floated up and assaulted her mind's eye before she could stop it.

Walking with her eyes closed. Something was falling into her and she was aware of who she was. She was two people at once, herself, and another.

Things became unfocused as a kaleidoscope of images shifted into her mind. Memories she didn't remember flashed into view, walking down a dimly lit corridor, hearing a noise, turning and seeing a band of men behind her. They walked forward and she turned behind her to see more men stepping out of the shadows.

The memories became too painful and Talia's eyes snapped open. She wasn't caught between a dozen men in a damp corridor, but lying on her couch in her quarters. The presence or person had gotten into her mind when she was asleep and now she knew who it was and why they were seeking solace in her mind.

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When she reached the doors to Medlab, she stopped. She closed her eyes and immediately the memories that she had witnessed came flooding back. Her eyes snapped open, she couldn't go through those, they were too painful. It hurt her so deeply to know that Susan, somebody she cared for greatly although she would never admit it, had gone through something like that.

Talia shook her head and entered Medlab, putting on a strong face, even though she was dying inside. She walked to where she saw Doctor Franklin standing in front of a door, just looking at it. When she came within his proximity, she knew that the door belonged to the room Susan was in.

He turned and she looked him over and was startled. The man looked haggard, not in appearance, but in the way he held himself. His shoulders were slumped and his eyes held none of his usual light or personality. He looked at her, but didn't seem at all surprised that she was there. Talia guessed that he really didn't care with the way his mind screamed out his despair, hurt, and failing. He turned away from her and looked back at the door.

"Ahhh, uh, Doctor Franklin, could I...see the Commander?" She asked hesitantly, hoping that he wouldn't tell her no. He just waved his hand toward the door, indicating that she could go in. He was so preoccupied with his thoughts, that he didn't actually hear her, his body doing it for him.

She entered the room slowly, looking at the person in the bed. She could feel the woman's mind once again pushing against her blocks. She wanted to let her in, but she had to see her first, to know.

Talia stepped closer to the bed and looked down on the pale bruised face. She couldn't help a small tearless sob at the look of nothing on the beautiful Russian's face. She knew now that Susan really did do it, left her own body from the trauma of what had happened to her.

Susan was looking for comfort in someone else’s mind, probably wanting her mother. Talia's feelings of pain and sorrow for the woman she was pretty sure she loved deepened at the thought of what Susan must've gone through in her life. With being a telepath and having her mother being taken away, mentally, and then physically. She probably blamed herself for her mother’s suicide, just adding to her pain and aggression.

Susan buried her memories and telepathy so far deep down that she had denied herself its use. She had blocked who she was, a telepath, because she didn't want to face it. She knew what she was, but thought of it as more of a curse than a gift, something that was so vile it couldn't possibly be a part of her. But it was, and what she was doing now just proved to Talia that she was one and a strong one at that.

Talia knew that Susan would pull through physically, that's not what she was worried about. If Susan stayed away from her own body, seeking peace in somebody else’s mind, for to long she might lose herself. Her body would be alive, but Susan would be gone. It was the equivalent of being brain dead, but worse, no understanding whatsoever, nothing. Dead. Emotionally, mentally, nothing there whatsoever, not even in the farthest reaches of the person's brain was there a speck of thought.

Talia took Susan's hand in her own and closed her eyes. First she had to let the mind calm down, let Susan become rational. Then she had to coax her back into her own body. That was the hard part, she would have to quiet the irrational fear that Susan had. She had to let Susan know that she wouldn't be hurt again if she re-entered her own body.

Talia lowered her blocks, letting in the mind that wanted to enter. She gathered Susan's mind with her own, surrounding her with love and light, making a comfortable, peaceful place where Susan would be safe from reality. She felt Susan's fear as if it were her own, she felt Susan's hate and pain as if it were her own. Everything that was Susan was now Talia. And in turn everything that was Talia became Susan's.

Talia could've have blocked some of her self from Susan's being, but she wanted Susan to know, to feel her there. She knew Susan now, and she knew why Susan was so cold and distant from her. She knew the pain and guilt Susan felt toward her mother’s death. She knew that Susan would hide behind aggression and anger to get her through the pain and desolation she felt sometimes.

Talia opened her eyes and she saw that she was clutching Susan's hand. She loosened her hold on Susan and sat down on the edge of the bed. She caressed the hand she held in hers, feeling the softness of Susan's skin. She felt so much towards Susan, but could never admit it to herself or to others.

At first it had been attraction, and a small connection, when blue eyes met blue eyes. But then something grew in Talia as she glimpsed the beauty that Susan tucked so far away inside of herself. Talia loved the way Susan's eyes would light up, or the way she would smile lightly at simple things. Talia had fallen into Susan so quickly that she had to stop and catch her breath. It was as if Susan had drawn Talia in and refused to let her go, and Talia had voluntarily been drawn and captured.

Talia looked up when she felt sharp anger and despair coming from the other side of the door. She hurriedly let go of Susan's hand and got up from the bed. She opted to sit instead of stand when Sheridan and Garibaldi walked into the room.

It was quite possible that the two men would have been utterly surprised to see Talia there next to Susan, except for the fact that they were probably shell shocked over what had happen to Susan and were just a little preoccupied. Garibaldi, his mouth in a straight and angry line, he made no inclination that he even saw the blond telepath but his eyes flickered over her briefly.

Talia stood up, and with a glance at the still form on the bed, left for her quarters. When she arrived home, she kicked out of her shoes and laid down on her couch, closing her eyes briefly. She snapped them open when the tirade of emotions and pain surrounded her. She felt disoriented and tired, but was afraid to fall asleep, not wanting to live through the pain and turmoil.

Although she didn't want to, she did fall asleep, her mental and emotional exhaustion beating out her will power.

She was walking in a corridor again, but this one was lit with flickering torches and had a cozy, warm feeling to it. To her right she saw a polished wooden door, that was covered in patterns and designs that created a mural of organized chaos. Talia pushed the door open and walked in, finding a room with a blazing fire and a canopy bed.

Talia looked around the small room, seeing paintings on the walls that moved. She examined the closest one and found it to be of a girl and a boy playing games in the backyard of a house. The girl looked familiar, but the image faded to fast for Talia to understand who she was.

A different picture filled the painting, this one of the same girl and a woman who looked like she was her mother. The woman was rocking the girl and singing her to sleep. Talia now knew that it was Susan who was the girl, those distinct features becoming fully visible in the painting.

Talia continued watching the painting as it went through different images, wonder filling her at the love she saw Susan express to her mother and brother. She never saw an image with Susan’s father, but guessed that this was something to comfort Susan and that her father wasn't comforting.

Talia dragged her eyes away from the painting and once again let her eyes sweep the room, this time coming to stop on the bed. She couldn't see the inside of the bed, the canopy's curtains hiding whatever was there from view. She walked over to it and pulled open the curtain, her eyes softening at the sight.

 

Part 1 Part 2

"Delta leader to delta wings, show's over. Let's collect the stragglers and return to base." ( Signs and Portents )