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[Star Trek 2009] Precious Things: Ripples

Title: Precious Things: Ripples
Setting: Star Trek 2009
Note: Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] elanya for the beta-ing and [livejournal.com profile] aliciam & [livejournal.com profile] rexlapinii for proofing the concept.
Summary: Through a single event, countless lives have been lost. But some, also, have been saved.
A.N.: I wasn't sure if this should be part of Precious Things. But ultimately, the events depicted in this story are triggered due to Vulcan's destruction. So with that in mind, I'm going with making it a part of this series.

~*~

Pergium: a radioactive element used for power in 23rd century nuclear reactors. Pergium is used by thousands of worlds as a source of energy. Many types of environmental control systems cannot function without the use of pergium. One such system was traditionally used to power the control systems of every Vulcan structure before the planet's destruction.

~*~

"If we put in double shifts, we can reach a production level that should meet every essential requirement they have, sir." The man leans forward, eyes alight with determination and hope. "Everyone is in on this, we're all in agreement. Doc says we just gotta report in for physicals more often and that bastard geologist," there is laughter in the room and someone reaches out to swat playfully at the shoulder of the man in question, "says we're tripling all the security measures. But... that's it. All we need now is for you to approve the new schedules and every single ounce of pergium we mine above our required quota will be reserved for the rebuilding of the-" he pauses, having forgotten the name in the midst of all the excitement. "Um, the sacred hall thingies."

A snicker breaks the silence that follows, and the culprit pounced on by his neighbors who press their hands to his mouth, attempting to muffle the sound of his helpless laughter.

Chief Vanderberg looks at the men and women gathered about him, each and every one of them waiting expectantly. He shakes his head ruefully; they'll probably all faint from holding their breaths if he doesn't answer soon, so he smiles at them crookedly and picks up the datapad they've set on his desk.

"Honestly, look at the lot of you." He pointedly doesn't allow himself to glance at the window of his office, where the entirety of the Accounting staff is gathered, holding a contest to see which one of them can direct the best pair of puppy dog eyes at him. "It's cheating, that's what it is. How's a guy supposed to say no?"

Vanderberg looks over the data carefully and sees no flaws. The Vulcan settlements would receive all the pergium they need, should they get the new production schedule underway. Somehow, the months and years of hard work ahead seem unimportant, compared to that.

Cheers of joy drown out anything else he may have said as he thumbs the datapad decisively, signing off on the new work schedule for the mining colony of Janus VI.


~*~

"How did we get this pergium?" The question is sharp and unusually focused for Solak's interlocutor, and though he is mildly taken aback by the reaction, the settlement's administrator offers an explanation in even tones. There are many whispers surrounding the old Vulcan standing before him, though all treat him with great respect. Sarek treats him as one would a kinsman and that is all anyone needs to know.

"The mining colony on Janus VI changed its production schedule months ago in order to provide us with the pergium we need, most notably for the environmental control systems which we will have to install when the new Halls of Ancient Thoughts are rebuilt. It was a most generous act, on their part." It is but one of many, a fact which Solak leaves unspoken. He is one of the least surprised by the outpouring of support from so many members of the Federation. But this, even he did not expect. Pergium mining is a dangerous occupation and the refining of the ore to a safe energy source even moreso. He hopes no lives will be lost during the heightened production schedule, despite the assurances of the mining colony administrator that everything is proceeding under optimal conditions.

His guest's next words, however, do nothing to ease his concern.

"No! It is imperative that they cease all mining operations immediately. Contact them at once!"

"We cannot. Communications with them broke down after we received this latest quota assessment. This does occur at times due to the radiation levels inherent to a mining operation of that nature..."

Solak trails off as the older Vulcan leaves the room with unseemly haste, practically already at a run before he is through the doorway. The administrator's concern blossom into outright worry though none of this shows through his controlled façade. After a moment's reflection, he thumbs the comm unit on his desk swiftly and requests for the other's ship to be readied for departure post-haste.

~*~

The Vulcan who has just arrived on Janus VI is old, and Sam wonders if the man's presence when he was younger was anything like it is now. He feels practically bowled over the instant all that imperious and focused attention settles on him, though he does his best to not show it.

His puzzlement is clear to see however – of that he has no doubt.

"I'm sorry sir, were you here to check in on the pergium mining quotas? We're well above our original estimates, we should have more than enough for you to start rebuilding the Halls along with the powering systems they require... soon..." He trails off under the Vulcan's piercing gaze.

"The Halls of Ancient Thought." The miner nods gravely at the elder Vulcan's correction and waits, holding his breath a bit, in case there is another question. "Has nothing out of the ordinary occurred since you doubled the mining colony's output?"

"Tripled, actually, sir." Sam smiles at Spock's sharpened focus, a little proud even if he's still entirely intimidated by the old Vulcan looking at him so intently. "And um." The question 'How did you know?' is probably glowing above his head like a neon sign, but instead of asking he just offers Spock a wide grin and nods. "Weeell, mebbe. Kinda. I guess you could call it out of the ordinary." Trying not to look too cheerful and probably failing miserably, Sam steps to the side slightly. "I think you need to head to level 22 and see for yourself, sir. Why don't I show you to the Geolabs?"

After a moment of hesitation – and Sam could swear the Vulcan actually looks... worried somehow – the man nods and follows him into the depth of the mining colony.

~*~

The doors swoosh open smoothly and the first thing Sam notices in the room is the smell. Acrid and sharp, the scent of melting and corroded metal fills the entire area despite the aeration systems working to clear it. It's the same smell that's inhabited the lab for the last two days, though, so he's starting to get used to it.

"Hey, Sam. Chief Vanderberg just commed me to let me know we had a visitor." The man within the room looks over his shoulder and smiles in a friendly manner at Sam's rather sloppy salute. It's traditional by now, that salute - an insult turned friendly jest as the two men became friends over time. The man's gaze shifts to the Vulcan standing next to Sam and he nods politely. "Sorry if I can't get up yet sir, but the samples you'll need are over there. I'm assuming you're here for the pergium we've been purifying for the new Vulcan settlement?"

"Doctor M'Benga?" Sam turns to stare at the Vulcan and is utterly shocked to see an expression of utter surprise on his face. He turns to give his friend a wondering look, and both men immediately decide, without needing anything more than that shared glance, that it's best not to ask.

"Doctor? No sir." Jabilo M'Benga tries to smile, though the expression is more cautious than usual – it reminds Sam of when the man first arrived at the mining colony, standing apart from the others as he went about his duties. He had been a veritable iceberg, back then. "I'm not a doctor, I'm a geologist. Biogeochemistry is my specialty."

Sam watches the scene and waits impatiently, until Jabilo gives him a mildly exasperated look and shifts, finally revealing what is keeping him seated. As essential as the pergium is to the rebuilding of the most sacred and ancient of Vulcan monuments, it is the sight of what the man holds cradled in his arms that holds the Vulcan's attention locked in place. Sam remains quiet, though he can tell from Jabilo's chiding expression that it's far too obvious how amused he is at the Vulcan's reaction.

"Fascinating." Pergium samples entirely forgotten, the old man glides towards Jabilo and the thing he is holding in his arms. "How did you find... it?"

The nearly undetectable note of glee in the Vulcan's bearing is enough to break the ice. Jabilo laughs lowly, a warm and rich sound.

"We broke a new level trying to get to a new vein a couple of days ago, and the miners found these odd round shells all over some old, pre-existing shaft system." Jabilo pats the stone-like thing he is holding carefully and is rewarded with a quiet, grinding sound. "I had some extra security measures set in place when I first arrived here a few years ago. They sure paid off..." He gives Sam a sardonic look. "Remember how you and the others complained about that for months?"

Sam has the good grace to look contrite, however so briefly. He'd led the charge against the new security measures, back then – he is among the first to admit how grateful he is for them, now. The Vulcan studies the both of them with a pensive air before focusing on the creature once more.

"The spheres were eggs."

"Yessir. And because of the security measures, they only broke the one. And brought it right back to me in a containment field after sealing up the level." There is something fragile in Jabilo's voice as he goes on, and he holds the small creature a touch closer to himself, tickling its cilia lightly with gloved fingers, chuckling at its indignant reaction. Sam remembers the frantic, terrifying hours that followed after they brought the sphere to the geologist only to be told it was an egg – their concern had turned to near despair when he'd performed his preliminary scans and told them the creature was sentient. Jabilo gives Sam a sympathetic look and speaks up once more, concealing Sam's reaction from the Vulcan, something for which the miner is thoroughly grateful.

"It was a close call. This little guy would have died if they hadn't used the containment field. Even so I nearly lost him a few times until he stabilized. Thankfully, the field kept some of the essential nutrients in the shell from degrading long enough that he could survive on the elements it contained and enough traces of it were still left for analysis when they got him to my lab for me to deduce an acceptable blend of alloys and minerals to feed him with. Whipped up the most disgusting blend you've ever seen after patching it up with some thermo-concrete and voila!" Jabilo shrugs a touch sheepishly and hides a scorched sleeve under the suddenly wriggling creature. "One squirmy, slightly undersized silicon-based infant life form with a tripartite exoskeleton made of... rock!"

"That is a gross over-simplification of the creature's outer shell." The Vulcan's voice is admonishing, of that Sam has no doubt, yet for some odd reason, he'd swear the man is also... glad.

"Well, yeah. But it's easier on the miners." Jabilo shrugs good-naturedly, giving Sam a mocking look and goes with the flow, as always. "The little guy is a hungry one, I can tell you that much. It's a good thing those digestive acids of his are so weak, or he'd have eaten me out of the lab by now!"

"He?" There is a giggle at the Vulcan's pointed comment, from somewhere in the hallway. Sam straightens up slightly and makes shushing motions behind his back, all the while hoping that whoever is part of the crowd steadily gathering outside the lab manages to stay quiet from now on.

"Eh. Guessing at this point." Jabilo pauses, and pointedly does not look at the still open door of the Geolabs. "I've got the miners running some readings and getting ready to re-open the seal they set on the level where they found the eggs. I figure there's probably an adult in there that's pretty anxious to get this little one back. He'll be good to go soon as he's done with his next snack. His species seem to need a lot of nourishment early on..." There is a wistful quality to his voice and the hand cradling the youngster tightens slightly. "Chief Vanderberg actually mentioned that you had some experience in First Contact situations when he contacted me about your arrival." Sam blinks at that, both surprised and relieved at the same time. That's one more chance to ensure everything goes well once they find more of the creatures to return the infant to. "Think this will go well?"

As though this is something he does every day, the Vulcan nods and takes a small step back, then another. He glances at the doorway and then gives Sam a dry look. Sam just grins and spreads out his hands in a helpless gesture. This is a small company - any news is bound to travel fast. And it helps if one keeps his communicator open, though Sam won't admit to that, even as the old man looks right at the device and raises an eyebrow at him wryly.

Hopefully, he hasn't figured out that means there's most likely some sort of betting pool going on, though Sam prefers not to linger overmuch on what it might be about.

"I shall endeavor to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. I will go offer my assistance to Chief Vanderberg while you see to the child's needs." His voice is kind and Sam feels a rush of gratitude. Even Jabilo offers him a weak smile, and it's obvious for everyone in the room that the geologist is aware that his unwillingness to be parted from the young creature he has saved is only too obvious.

Sam is thankful that Jabilo will get the chance to spend a bit more time with the alien baby. And he thinks that Vulcans really aren't' cold-hearted at all. Not one bit.

The Vulcan gives the small sentient silicon being one last contemplative look and departs, leaving Sam, Jabilo and his charge in the lab.

"And you're still here why?" Sam turns around to give his friend a disarming grin and tiptoes closer, eyeing the small alien as it creaks and squirms in Jabilo's arms.

"So, you give him a name yet?"

"Wha- no! That's not my job, you blithering idiot! I'm not his father!"

"Hey! Watch your language mister, there's a baby in the room!"

"...and I put up with you why again, you maniac?"

Sam laughs and has to admit yet again that he really likes the little guy they found. He's turning out to be the best partner ever when it comes to teasing Jabilo without getting scanners thrown at his head all the time.

~*~

Vanderberg nods at the Vulcan and looks satisfied with himself. Probably too much, but it's been an absolutely incredible few days and he feels perfectly justified in being pleased at how everything is turning out.

"Horta? How did you come up with the name?"

The Vulcan tilts his head to the side just a touch, eyeing Vanderberg with ill-concealed interest.

"Well, it's simple really. Hort means nursery in German. And that's pretty much what this whole level is, right? And I added an a at the end in honor of Mister M'Benga," he adds, looking off to the side. The geologist does not notice the scrutiny, too focused on the egg he is currently holding. He sets it down carefully among the others in the room, nodding in satisfaction before directing the miners to bring him the next batch that need checking. A small lump of rock follows him closely, dogging his every step. Sam is trailing not far behind, eyeing the baby Horta with a fond grin.

"Much approval." The voice is electronic and somewhat fuzzy, but clear nonetheless as the mother Horta rumbles into view. She is impressively large – it gave them all quite a shock the first time they saw her shuffling out of the shadows, following the Vulcan back to the shaft leading to the higher levels. "Saved the first child, he did. In our name, he should be."

"Ma'am, you have no idea how glad I am we had those universal translators. It's nice that you can play etch-a-sketch with those acids of yours thanks to that Vulcan mind meld thingamabobber, but it is hell on the floor!"

The Horta shivers in silent laughter, the translator crackling with static and Vanderberg gives in to his amusement and relief as well, only too aware of how different things might have been had they broken through the level without care or consideration.

Today is a day to celebrate life. He holds on to that thought dearly.

~*~

"Mister M'Benga, before I leave." Jabilo pauses in his progress through the cave and waits until the Vulcan has caught up. He's grateful for the other's presence, for a formal First Contact that has been so smooth and simple it might go down in history as the example to follow from now on. Particularly considering how disastrous things might have gone. "Why did you become a biogeochemist?"

Jabilo stares at the old Vulcan for a moment, brown eyes unblinking. He feels a familiar pang of sorrow and pain, but he smiles nonetheless. For within the pain, there is also a deep, abiding contentment.

"My mother was also in the field, though her specialty was different. I always told her I'd become a doctor when I was a boy, but... I decided to go into geology instead after she died. And Starfleet as well – it made sense to just do so, after all. She died when her ship was destroyed, but she was very proud of being a part of Starfleet. So... it was a way to remember her and do her memory honor, I suppose." Jabilo gazes fondly at the small Horta leaning against his boot as it makes a small, scratchy sound.

"Hungry!" The small vocaliser is even fuzzier for the child Horta than it was for the adult, but the underlying expectation comes through loud and clear. "Mama! Hungry!"

"I do love what I do, though I admit I never dreamt I would end up discovering a new life-form here." He chuckles and picks up the Horta, then reaches for a container hooked to his belt, expertly spooning metallic powder from it. "Much less end up a nursemaid to one!"

He knows the Vulcan is observing them but focuses on the small Horta instead, listening to the sound of the mixture as it slowly fizzles and pops while it is ingested. He takes his new duties as caretaker very seriously.

Jabilo never dreamt the mother Horta would insist he help in taking care of the child he'd saved.

"If you may forgive me for inquiring... what was the name of the ship your mother was aboard?"

Jabilo looks up at the other man – the Vulcan, and he always has to remind himself of this with this one, oddly enough – and though his smile fades slightly, his pride and contentment do not. It's a question people don't ask him often enough, he thinks. He is proud of what his mother did and she had a good, fulfilling life. She'd have been thrilled to know what he was a part of now. And she'd be so very proud of him for what he's done.

The Horta creaks, and metal sizzles once more. She might even have envied him this, he thinks, and Jabilo M'Benga smiles gently as he answers.

"She served under Captain Robau, sir. On the USS Kelvin."

Current Mood: calm calm
Current Location: frou frou :: must be dreaming
Comments

Oh, this is beautiful, like the rest of the series has been. ♥

Thank you! :D

Oh my goodness, you keep putting me on the verge of tears with this series. You ... you're restoring the optimistic thread to the Reboot universe, which JJA didn't really incorporate. And it's not sappy or unscience-fiction-like or overly human-centric either. It's beautiful.

Yes, please do add this to [community profile] vulcanreforged.

Oh my. Thank you, so very much. =) I like "people do good" stories, I have to admit - it's a weakness of mine. And I'm glad to know I didn't fall into overly sappy, even with a baby Horta demanding to be fed before he takes a stab at tasting a sleeve or boot tip again. (I just had to have him call M'Benga "mama" if only for the tip of the hat at what I recall being Ensign Naraht's amusing propensity for finding human gender confusing. Which I now need to double check, of course. XD)

~*~

PS: As a note, I added the !newtags tag to my post on the community as technically, Sam isn't an OC - he's actually the miner who is relieved of guard duty at the start of the episode Devil in the Dark. It was a randomly chosen name for miner X at first - since it turned out to be exactly the same as the one used in the episode, I figured I might as well make it really him. =) And M'Benga is M'BENGA! :D Who rocks, even if he isn't a doctor in this continuity for the series. XD

One of the things I was telling anyone who would listen, after I saw the movie, was that Spock Prime DAMN WELL BETTER TELL PEOPLE NOT TO KILL THE BABY HORTAS!

I am so very glad to see this.

Actually, as I recall, we did discuss the Horta briefly after I squee'd over your icon when you commented to another of the chapters of this series.

Thus, it behooves me to let you know that this particular installment is entirely, without a doubt, your fault. =)

(The notion of how the Horta might fare in ST2009 would just NOT let me go. Hence, the story!)

I will gladly take any blame you care to assign! I love the inclusion of M'Benga, as well; there was a character who could've used more time in the original series.

Oh, he so could have had more screen time. He had such an interesting background to work with too!

I love this series! It balances just the right amount of warm fuzzies from people banding together and doing good for one another while respecting the grief and tragedy of what brought them together.

*beams*

Thank you. =)

Awww, a happy ending for the horta! <3!

They deserved it! Horta = win! :D

::sigh:: I love this series so much....

<3!!!

:D

Dr. M'Benga saved the Horta babies. OMG.

!!!!

*cries*

:D

<3 M'Benga! :D

\o/

I'm really enjoying this series, especially this one -- it's a great use of M'Benga.

Thank you! ^_^

Crying again. It's good.

:: hugs! ::

Thank you! =)

Oh, this is *wonderful*

*Is so very, very happy for the Hortas & a good First Contact there.*

Thank you! :D

askjdskaldjfkdlsj Hortas!

This whole series hits every nerd button I have, seriously. I love all the craft you're putting into it, the way you incorporate the detail, the way you don't give everything away at the start. Love. Massive, massive amounts of adoration.

Thank you, very much! =) People have been so receptive to this series, I'm still surprised at all the comments! XD

*squeaks* Horta babies!!! I knew as soon as Spock took off like a bat out of hell that it was because of the horta babies! Wonderfully done!

It was a hell of a fast exit, that's for sure! Hee! =)

Eee, Dr. M'Benga! And Hortas!

My eye was caught mid-screen after I clicked through from the cut, and "How did we get this pergium?" snuck into my brain as "How did we get this penguin?" Uh.

...XD Now I will forever read "penguin" whenever I see pergium. Oh dear. XD

Oh, he saved the baby Horta! Oh! *cheers and claps* This was wonderful!

I figured a geologist could get away with it, considering Horta would be a geologist's, huh, wet dream. XD

Still loving this so much. I love all the little things that are different in this 'verse than in TOS. The fact that the Horta massacre never happens is such a great thing. Not that it will ever make up for what happened to Vulcan, but still...

I love M'Benga and his adopted sentient rock!

:: beams! ::

I'm glad you like it! :D It's really fun to play with, this new continuity.

And the Mother Horta would argue that it was the baby who adopted M'Benga. XD

Another for my memories!

Woo! :D

Utterly charming!!

I haven't read the rest of your series yet, but this stands alone quite well.

And eeeeeee, wee baby horta! :-D

Glorious fic.

Re: Utterly charming!!

Hrm. Precious Things & Points of Intersection should be read in that order, for a better view of the second one, but yeah, Legacy and Ripples do fine as stand-alones. ^_^

Geologist = best Horta baby-sitter ever! ;)

Thank you! :D

Oh, this is exactly the kind of story I've been looking for! I love this exploration of what else might have changed as a result of the timeline shift.

And Spock Prime, who knows so much, should be able to warn about things that could happen as they did originally, independent of changed political landscapes. I like very much how this encounter, that he could have noted later, as it originally occurred later, changes as an indirect result of the Nerada's destruction of Vulcan.

Seeing M'Benga choose a different path in life as a result of the attack on the Kelvin, another change that works well here.

I'm very glad you enjoyed it. =)

I think Spock would be very torn. Who knows how much things HAVE already already changed, to begin with. I can see him running himself ragged trying to keep a handle on what he can, without "spoiling" anyone else of this timeline. Silly Spock. XD

And thanks - I was so happy I got a chance to figure out a way to do something with M'Benga! :D

Eeeeeeeeeeee.

*clutches baby!Horta*

Aten't they great? XD <3 baby walking pizzas! I mean, horta! XD

Gods, the way these people were only too happy to work themselves so hard, just so they could do their part to contribute... I have no words for that one. And the easy camaredie between the miners...

He is one of the least surprised by the outpouring of support from so many members of the Federation. But this, even he did not expect.

Certainly, if any race deserves this type of cheerful dedication, it's the Vulcans.

"I had some extra security measures set in place when I first arrived here a few years ago. They sure paid off..." He gives Sam a sardonic look. "Remember how you and the others complained about that for months?"

Love this easy and by-the-way kind of admission of just what changed just by the presence of this one man. This part was what hit me like a punch in this part of the series. No slow intensity this time. It's always something else to see--be it in (fan)fiction or movies--the effects of the well-known "Butterfly Effect". That's what all life is about, after all.

The Horta creaks, and metal sizzles once more. She might even have envied him this, he thinks, and Jabilo M'Benga smiles gently as he answers.

"She served under Captain Robau, sir. On the USS Kelvin."


And one last punch. Yes, this needs reiteration. The Kirk family wasn't the only one whose course of life was changed by the Kelvin incident. People forget that all too easily. Yes, 800 people were saved. But George Kirk was not the only one to die.


In short: I really love this rewriting of the episode. :)