Darkness. Featureless, empty, darkness. Sillika tried to wave a hand infront of her face, make sure her eyes were still open, but she couldn't move. Panic jolted through her and she tried to struggle against the invisible grip. Dimly, she was aware that she was asleep, but the thought hadn't grasped her full attention yet. Slowly, she managed to inch an arm into moving, and suddenly the paralysis seemed to vanish. Her relief was short-lived as she stared round, trying to blink away the darkness. It was almost like a black mist, and the disconcerting feeling began to spread over her that it wasn't empty. Faint hints of shape vanished as she looked closer at them, only to re-appear at the edges of her vision.
"Who's there?" She demanded, trying to make her voice sound confident, but it just came out as a squeak.
She whirled round at the voice, but the space behind her was empty.
"Sillika..." The sound twanged at her nerves at some deep level, sending shivers rippling through her. The sound came again, and again, a quiet, but urgent whisper that sent a chill down her spine each time. Panic, and more than a little fear darted through her as the hairs on her neck stood up and she swivelled faster and faster, trying to catch a glimpse of whateve... Whoever was talking.
"Sillika... Why did you leave? Sillika..." The voice was almost lilting now, a chilling singsong tone. Sillika spun round again, eyes searching the mist.
"Who's there? Come on, who is it?" The question was meant to sound assertive, in control, but her underlying fear was clear in her voice.
She jumped as something brushed gently over her neck, pulling lightly at her hair. Her hand flew up and back, encountering nothing but air.
"You left me... Don't leave again..."
That was it. Sillika ran. Her legs felt heavy, like lead, but she forced speed out of her muscles. A quiet laugh echoed in her ears as she struggled to move, get away from the sound. Suddenly it was as if she were running through treacle. Her legs slowed, every movement a mammoth effort.
"Sillika..." It was right next to her now, the soft, almost purring sound close to her ear. She swung round, and the mist parted, a pale light flooding in from somewhere. Her gaze centred on the familiar figure, facing away from her. Relief hit her again.
"Callum, am I glad it's you! Are you trying to scare me senseless or what?"
There was no response. For some reason, the silence was more unnerving than anything she'd heard yet.
"Callum? Callum this isn't funny!"
Still no response. Sillika managed to take a step towards him and reached out. As her fingers brushed his shoulder, Callum turned to face her and Sillika screamed. Gleaming, blood red eyes stared back at her, green scaled skin reflecting the light in sinister ways. Lraac smiled horribly as suddenly metal seemed to flow out of her skin, winding into the visible implants as her skin rippled. Her hand shot out, clamping around Sillika's neck, lifting her off the ground.
"Did You Miss Me?" She hissed as Sillika clawed at the iron grip. Pure terror flooded through her as she fought to breathe. Lraac raised her other hand, the twin wires shooting out and waving in the air, almost searching. Lraac's face twisted in a grin, and suddenly the features shifted. Sillika found herself staring into Callum's eyes, his face distorted in a cruel smile. She tried to yell, to say something, but the grip around her neck doubled. Callum laughed, the sound alternating between his normal laugh and Lraac's evil sound. His eyes gleamed as he raised the wires high above him, twisting his wrist until they were pointing towards her. His grin widened, exposing rows of fangs.
"Resistance Is Futile," he hissed, the wires darting down towards Sillika. She screamed as the sharp points bit deep into her flesh, a burning pain flooding through her body, all the time Lraac's laugh rising above everything as Callum's face vanished in the rising red mists of agony...
"No!" Sillika sat bolt upright, her eyes snapping open, breathing coming in terrified gasps. It took her a few moments for her brain to register where she was. She clamped a hand to her chest, feeling her heart hammer away as she tried to settle her breathing.
"Just a dream," she muttered, "Just a dream..."
When her heartbeat had returned to something approaching normal, or at least wasn't going to be audible to everyone within a four-mile radius, Sillika flopped back onto the bed. The images of the dream slowly faded, but she was pretty sure they wouldn't disappear.
"Lights," she muttered. On cue, the room was lit with a soft glow. Sillika smiled slightly, voice-operated lighting was pretty useful. Her gaze scanned the small, rather basic room she'd been given. It was pretty bare, but Sillika had come across a few boxes in the wardrobe, filled with... Well, personal things. Keryl hadn't said whom the room's previous occupant had been, but she had made it clear that they wouldn't be back. Sillika had left the boxes where they were, it was strange enough sleeping in someone else's room, without the hints about who they wer... Had been. She tried not to think about it.
With a sigh, she rolled over and relaxed, letting her eyelids slide closed again. Maybe she'd leave the lights on for a while longer...
Jay handed Keryl the final plug and yawned loudly. She grinned as she fixed it in place.
"Coffee wearing off?"
"Yeah. Urgh, when you come down off that stuff, you really land with a bump."
"Tell me about it," Keryl pressed a few keys and the screen they'd just been fixing lit up. She smiled.
"Bingo. Thanks for your help moving this stuff up here Jay; I thought it'd be easier if all the stuff we're likely to need is in the bridge. I'd never have shifted it all by myself."
"You're welcome," Jay yawned again and blinked owlishly, "Sillika's already gone to bed hasn't she? Think I'll join her."
"That's not what I meant."
"I know what you meant. Use room A19, just out of here and to the left. Sleep well."
Jay rubbed his forehead, trying to keep his eyelids open enough to look at her.
"Aren't you tired?"
"Yeah, but I'll finish up here first."
"Okay. See you later," Jay gave a mock salute and head towards the bridge doors. He found room A19, palmed the door, stumbled in, fell headfirst onto the bed and was asleep the instant his head hit the pillow.
Keryl sighed as the door hissed shut. She'd made a promise to herself, when she'd first detected Jay and Sillika on the scanners, that she wouldn't get close to them, would try her hardest to stay at a distance. She'd failed, but... She allowed herself a small grin; it felt so much better to have someone to talk to. She'd not realised how lonely she was before.
She glanced round the bridge, scanning the display screens. She always checked everything was at optimum levels before turning in... Her gaze locked on one screen and she swore quietly. The readouts for the communications array were wrong. She sighed again and swung herself into a chair, fingers dancing across the keypad. The screen came up, and she ran a quick diagnostic on the comm system. Damn, damn and damn again! There was a fault, not a big one, but it was definitely there. Keryl leaned back and stared up at the roof, suppressing a yawn. She'd seen these faults before; they generally either cleared themselves or took the whole system down. And she really didn't need that. She yawned again, feeling her eyelids start to ache. Well, there wasn't really anything she'd be able to do now, not without passing out anyway. She'd just have to leave it for a while, grab a few hours sleep, and see what happens. Yawning for a third time, she tapped the screen off and headed for her own room.
Sillika woke slowly, and gradually became aware of a soft knocking sound. She yawned and blinked away sleep.
"Sillika? Are you awake?" Jay's muffled voice floated through to her. Sillika smiled and pulled herself upright, brushing her hair behind her ears.
"Yeah. Come in Jay." She swung her legs over the side of the bed. The door hissed open and Jay stuck his head in. He grinned.
"Hey. Did I wake you up?"
"Probably," Sillika returned the grin, "What time is it?"
"Dunno. Sleep well?"
"Er... Yeah," Sillika shivered slightly as the images of the dream rose up in her mind. Jay frowned and entered the room.
"Nothing... Just a dream, that's all."
Jay made his way over to her and sat down next to her. His brown gaze locked with hers.
"You sure you're alright?"
Sillika held his gaze. She didn't want to look away.
"Y... No. I... I just keep thinking about..." Sillika trailed off, squeezing her eyes shut. She felt the tears well up and fought to control them. She couldn't... She couldn't...
"Hey," Jay whispered, and Sillika nearly jumped as he wrapped his arms round her. She went to turn away then, to her own slight surprise, turned back and buried her head in his shoulder. Jay held her, rocking slightly.
"I just want him back," Sillika whispered, tears flowing down her face. Jay stroked her hair softly.
"It'll be okay. All of it. We'll get through this; we'll get him back. I promise."
Sillika felt a smile creep onto her wobbling lips. It was a stupid thing to say; he couldn't possibly predict what would happen to them. But she didn't care. It was what she wanted to hear, what she'd wanted from the start. In a few hours, tomorrow, next week, she'd probably think of it as just platitudes. But right now, this moment, she *believed*. Jay just held her. Held her until the tears stopped. Held her, and everything was okay again. The Borg, the ship, Lraac...Vanished. For this moment nothing else existed. Just them, wrapped in eachother's arms.