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The End of the Tunnel

Posted on Fri Sep 28th, 2012 @ 1:41pm by Lieutenant Commander Maryam Syed

Mission: Waters of Coralee

Maryam, Henrik, Shamoun, and the old man who had slept in their cell stood in front of several hundreds of Ririkan in a giant, yet coldly plain, hall that echoed. The speakers were ready, the rooms had been efficiently scrubbed down, and the prisoners made comfortable. The noise was intense as people shuffled over to their places and stood at what appeared to be a form of attention. Grimy red tunics and dirty bare feet had been replaced with dusty old sandals and worn, plain (yet clean) Damion-styled clothes with the red tunics torn and wrapped around as shawls - it was cold in here and the heating system had not yet been fixed. The hair had been brushed - Maryam realized that though the hair was thin and short, they had a lot more of it than it had originally seemed - and the people were clean.

The former prisoners did not stand in a weran, or platoon, rows upon rows of figures standing with military precision in an assigned spot - they had brought up chairs from their quarters and were sitting on them towards the side of the hastily-erected stage. While the Ririkan were all a sea of uniform red shawls and plain khaki-colored clothes, the prisoners had been given the 'best' of the clothes - the fancy materials - velvet-like shirts and silky dresses, and leather boots - though holey, could still be made to look decent, and the Damions (as the Ririkan now called them) had done well. Many had done their best to look normal while taking advantage of the first colorful clothes they had seen in years. Unlike the Ririkan, who had grown so accustomed to bare feet and felt uncomfortable in even their socks and sandals , the Damions had eagerly snatched away the boots and other shoes and repaired the. for their own use. They used the cloth as belts, scarves, or layers over their plainer clothes. The colors in the clothes and the bagginess of many of them helped to hide the fact that their faces were too gaunt and their bodies too bony.

" What a change," the old man murmured. In the light, his eyes were revealed to be a bright green, and they stood out amongst the gray eyes of the others, both prisoners and Ririkan alike, though Ririkan usually had varying shades or tints. His thin white hair had been neatly combed and he was wearing a white suit that had been dusted off. " I could be dreaming."

" You're definitely not dreaming," Maryam smiled tiredly back. She had not been able to sleep for the time she had been allowed, and was sincerely regretting it as the hall blurred and came back into focus over and over. " It's really happening." Something inside her was glowing, and she let it wash around her, soothing her. She had gladly taken off her Starfleet uniform and sent it to be washed - she highly doubted it was going to happen, but Henrik had told her that this place was more efficient than she gave it credit for, and she'd gone along with it. Now she wore a simple red dress that had been ignored by the rest of the population - the Ririkan because they had their uniforms, and the Damion because of the short sleeves that would clearly show the bony arms that were depleted of energy. In the dress, she felt strange, as if she was...changing. She felt free.

As the final stragglers raced to their places (or walked), Henrik tapped the microphone to gather attention. An expectant silence fell, and Henrik stepped forward.

" People of Nigelis," his low voice rumbled across the hall, " This present day has brought us new hope, and a promise: today is the day that we will all change forever. Our planet is not lost, and we are not at the end of the world. We will not fight each other, or harm each other, any longer. Tonight is the night that this ends."

The room remained silent. For a second Maryam wondered if this was bad news; but Shamoun shook his head at her slightly, and she looked again. The people were being silent because they wanted to hear more. After a moment, Henrik motioned to Erok, the old man, to step forward, and he did so, taking his place on the stage.

" To those who know me, I have not betrayed you. To those who were once our enemies, know that you are no longer. My name is Erok, and I was once a prisoner of the Ririkan people." From the side, Maryam and Shamoun noted the recognition of the Damion.

" I was chosen to be your representative temporarily; I hope there is no problem?" The prisoners nodded their assent.

" Then let me tell you of the people in the lands above us. They came to save our people from the destruction our ancestors wrought on us. In their sky-ship, they came, to aid us in our time of greatest need. They came, and they have promised to help us return our land to the beauty of its youth - to help us protect it and nurture it; to bring peace to our peoples, and never shed the blood of our own kind again." At this, some of the Ririkan rumbled at this, and Henrik came forward again.

" The Avarik has decreed it be so," he said clearly, " For we only ate the meat of the sentient to save our lives, and it will no longer be neccessary to survive. Do not forget our roots: none of us came here to eat the flesh of thinking beings, but to survive, and we no longer need to."

Maryam came forward and spoke calmly through the mic. " My name is Maryam, and my brother and I come from the sky-ship. It is called the Sunfire, and as we speak, a representative of each of our kind is discussing the rebirth of this world. Some things have already been decided.

" One is that no longer will a sentient being eat another. The other is that all the people will cooperate with each other. That means that you must all work together: Ririkans, Damion, and Corileans alike."

At this, there was a general stirring amongst the Ririkan; the Damion prisoners were too tired to move, though they could also be seen whispering to themselves.

" They are alive, and much different from the people who abandoned your own. They are already working hard to bring peace and prosperity to this world; and we will, too. There cannot be hatred in a world that is dying. The time for fighting is over; help has come, and you must accept their terms as well as make your own. This planet will be terra-formed - transformed so that it may again sustain life. Together, your people will make this happen, will work with ours to save your lives and protect the promise of a greater future for your children.

" The people of our worlds will help your people to protect your planet and to live and flourish...and one day, when it is all accomplished, we will travel the stars together. " Maryam finished. " The days of terror are over."


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