chanter_greenie: a starscape, including a spiral galaxy (on a quest for a jewel)
[personal profile] chanter_greenie
This fic took me a chunk of yesterday afternoon/evening, and much of last night to write and edit. Worth every minute, although I may not be saying that in a few hours, once the sleep deprivation catches up with me...! It was inspired by another fic on AO3, SearchingforSerendipity's 'Put Aside Fear For Courage', and for that reason, I link to that particular fic from mine. I was given the blessing of the author to run with this idea, and yesterday/today the idea finally crystallized, just about in one.

Here be wizardly!Lieutenant Ilia, Kevin Riley, Christine Chapel and Janice Rand. Also many others on Errantry, but that's detailed in SearchingforSerendipity's work. Be warned: There are significant and vivid, as in graphic via narrator's viewpoints, spoilers for deaths and injury in the first movie here, as well as spoilers for 'The Naked Time'. There's also some vivid imagery regarding an away mission gone badly wrong, so anyone shy of medical detail might want to skip.

Ilia is a warm rather than hot sentient being, Chekov is exactly the eager choirboy he seems to be, Riley has a good heart, and both Chris and Janice get their wings.

Oh, and I owe [personal profile] camwyn credit for any and all references to cold iron.


1

It is a truth almost universally acknowledged (almost, because the subject of that truth categorically denies it unless and until he gets three or four strong drinks in him and thus knocks his pride down enough to handle the admission) that Kevin Riley cannot sing a note.

Not every wizard of Irish extraction, he's gotten fond of reminding his friends, has to be musically inclined. Engineering schematics don't always--can, but it's not a requirement, and ask a tone-deaf Scotty or hell, the Manual if you won't believe him--lace themselves with spellwork by song. Clever fingers and a rowan wand he picked up on his last trip to Terra do plenty well for that kind of Errantry all on their own. As for the best and the worst, the faireast and the finest - well. The ordeal, and Ordeal, he went through in the engine room didn't really need music either, though considering the rest of that day, the instinct to sing was hardly the worst thing the Lone One's lovely little molecular alteration dropped on him.

On bad days, Kevin isn't sure he'll ever absolve himself to his crewmates, or Enterprise herself, for his actions in that room. So what, you say, he wasn't entirely pulling the strings. So what? It's still very bloody goddamn cold in space, he's dizzy dizzy dizzy, and Kodos has a leer like a would-be conquering Roman lord of old; something down at the bottom of his soul is laughing like a plastered king at Westminster drunk on Celtic blood, he can't stop his own mouth from catterwalling like a half-horny cat, and the engines are stone cold under him, and he'll never repay what he owes these sentients, these fellows, his brethren in arms, never.

On good days, Riley remembers the Knowledge abruptly laying out five people's intersecting silvery diagrams in his head as the engines were still spinning themselves down to terrible silence, remembers conduits of mind and blood and spirit lighting up with bright power as his own spellcircle arced through the bulkhead and out of sight, remembers the inaudible click of a metaphysical relay meeting its intended port (Scott's? Spock's? he doesn't recall) in realtime, remembers being drunk on something better than molecular edits, remembers words and intent, blissful speed and a timeslide's dizzying backflip into yesterday and remembers, most of all, the Lone One's subaudible howl as its latest potential tool exploded from his seat in an electric halo, sparked like an old-fashioned circuit running all the power it rated, and outright screamed with shock and wrenching purpose and joy, and how suddenly there was no room for darkness in that place anymore.

"Ahahaha haha--take that, ya bastard! Now go sing in somebody else's ear."

Once you've been a power source for a spell like that, and this Riley says openly, why would you ever want to go back to the way things were, again?

2

"In life's name," Ilia's murmuring, interweaving the phrase seamlessly with her wider, subtler spell - why she didn't officially go into medicine, with the specialty both her wizardry and her species' biology lent her, he'll never dare ask - and if that's not a brief detour through the Deltan language she's made, then it's the Speech all the way and oh, whatever it is is liquid like Russian summer daylight in his ears. The power she's wielding is soft and distinct in the air behind his teeth, and the throbbing in his seared hand is easing down to nothing, slow, slow. He's shivering. "For life's sake," Chekov answers, in which of two languages he isn't sure, and it's hazy, half-whispered, heartfelt. "Thank you."

"Healing yourself," she says later, matter-of-fact and soundly ignoring the radiant blush he utterly failed to predict would bloom all over his face at the sight of her, "is a little like trying to see the back of your head in a mirror. We're both still on Assignment. You needed help. I'll never be sorry I gave it."

Chekov will never be sorry he accepted the same, but some things even he refuses to say aloud, high-strung loyal schoolboy navigator squire though he is. He's fairly certain, by the lack of any following awkwardness between them, that Ilia understands.

3

"In life's name," Chris is hissing, and she's got diagnostic and cell-saving routines literally trailing from her fingertips in addition to the instruments clenched in both hands, "and for life's sake--come on, come on come on." Rigid professionalism and desert dry snark be damned, she will not let this patient - this victim of circumstance - this poor young man go, she won't she won't she won't. "Dr. McCoy! I need you over here, please. He's getting worse every second and there's only so much--Dr. McCoy!"

She can still feel the alien bearthing's claws punching through a rib cage that was never her own, invading a lung she's never used, missing by millimeters a heart she's never relied on, as vividly as she can feel the necessary scalpel slice she made in her own forearm fifteen minutes ago. Len-McCoy-Len's the expert, but she's the designated utility infielder here; her gloves are unrecognizable at the ends of her arms, her sleeve is streaked with her own seeping blood and her eyes are wet - in life's name, do not die, do not die, do not - I will aid growth and guard life - she will not let this patient go without a fight, dammit, she will not - what a tale their turbulency tells - come on!

"I will aid growth and guard life," McCoy's murmuring through barely-moving lips, seconds later, as he takes position across the biobed, and that little bit of synchronicity's a lifeline, oh yes it is. So is his utter, unwavering steadiness in the next breath. "Status." There are no accidents. Chris knows this.

The ensign has scars, in the end, and so does she. "Leave the details of this story vague if you tell it to your grandchildren," Chapel advises him, straight-faced, two days later. He chuckles, then winces.

"We did it, you know," McCoy says, quietly delighted and certain and almost, almost offhand, after he's given that ensign strict instructions to go finish recovering in his quarters and no, absolutely not, no sparring whatsoever until I clear you for it; do you want to land yourself back in here? "We both promised it, all over again, and then we went and did it just like that."

And then Christine Chapel can't help it.

She smiles.

4

Things Janice Rand will never forget, but wishes she could:

Shimmer, shimmer--crackle, crackle, sparks like electricity twisted out of shape at the atomic level, distorted talents, corrupted light--bzzzzzz rrrrt, rrrrrrt! Those are the voices of dying sentients you can hear, Janice love, little girl, yeoman, Janice, listen.

"Enterprise. What we got back... didn't live long. Fortunately."

And there's green blood under her fingernails even though it isn't physically there, she can feel it congealing, and her hair's coming down from its usual, and they had a new science officer until five minutes ago, and she wants to cling to Kirk, she wants to cling to Hikaru, and--tears on her face--it wasn't her fault, he said it wasn't her fault, so it wasn't her fault, it wasn't--it wasn't--please, please. It hurts so much, and it wasn't--she just had to watch them, she just had to see them, she just had to initiate-- she just had to press the control and in-it-i-ate--she. just. had. to. I'm so sorry, Commander Sonak, and the woman, there was a woman, there was a--I heard a woman wailing, I heard a woman dying but Sonak didn't say a word--my God, that poor man, your tormented control, you poor, poor dear man and I never knew you but I am so. so. sorry. I did this. Yes, the Lone One really did this but I hit the control--I gave the order to the computer, I--I am so sorry, for your souls, I am--I, Janice Rand, I swear, I--please, I have to fix this. I have to fix this.

Things Janice Rand will never forget, and is glad she won't:

That little bit of wizardry, that spark, that light, that blazing--liquid, like silver, like blue fire, like words, words, expressions in halfstep calculus, number meter rhyme logic sense--this I swear and this I swear and this. I. This. I. I, Janice Rand, do swear by blood and cold iron and profession and vocation and light--it's so easy, it's so obvious, it's what no one else would notice but--I. swear.

Janice, listen.

Between myself and the powers of darkness--I. Swear.

A single line in the Speech, a circle drawn in midair, a simple reconfiguration and a cursing Lone Being out there in the darkness that isn't friendly, not actively, not at all, but the space she knows is a neutral if not a friendly thing and safe passage is what she does, it's been in her blood since she was barely old enough to make decisions for herself, since she was getting coffee and wearing short skirts, since that day on a stiflingly hot, doomed Galileo when all of a sudden she was offered a choice by thin air, and she leapt--this I swear. This she swears, an engineer's prayer, by blood and cold iron. Go out there and drive it, It, up a wall with stubborn tenacity and a wish to live. For everything.

Woman, ranking officer, respected, light in darkness and bridged divide, beloved, hero of a real story--Janice, listen.

Fixing it.

Nobody's molecules getting scrambled, by blood and cold iron and a whole, healthy, grumpy Dr. Leonard McCoy of the status no one mentions, by need, by bright strength, by conduits untroubled - saying "Wait just a goddamn minute!" as he arrives, alive, alight, ablaze, himself, and she wants to cling to him, she wants to cling to McCoy, she wants to cling to Sulu and wants Sulu to cling to her, she wants to--Janice, listen. What a welcome sight, by blood and trembling iron that does not give way, does not give way and this she swears, this she swears, the fledging falcon as she rises--Janice Rand, she swears that McCoy is a blessedly pretty sight, he is.

Excelsior. Three gold pips on her collar. Cleverness-dry humor-respect, earned. Respect. Janice, with wings. Janice, listen.

She does, by blood and safe arrivals, by respect and her own name, by warm iron and Hikaru's heart, as he hath hers. She listens.

And the universe sings back, for life's sake.

The universe sings.
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