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"Listening Post B17-H8221"
By Linda

Rating: PG
Disclaimer: No filthy lucre changed hands
Genre: War story, Drama
Summary This very short story about a Federation listening post during the Dominion War is my first Deep Space 9 story and is quite somber in tone - depressing, maybe, echoing my mood since the recent loss of my job after 27 years with the same employer. I usually write Star Trek: Enterprise stories but consider DS9 my second favorite ST series after Enterprise.

If the wind would stop its incessant moaning my mind would stop fighting against it, and our small outpost on this forgotten, barren world would be tolerable. We have heard nothing. Nothing but empty noise for months over the comm channels, even on subspace. Only the wind have we heard, wearing away at the corners of this temporary station shelter, which seems to have become permanent through neglect by our forces. We were supposed to be picked up and moved two supply runs ago. How long before the wind breaks down our lair and scatters equipment and bodies across this desolate, infertile, small twilight world circling too far out from its tiny red star?

We had supplies for six months but have made them stretch for nine. Is our side so beaten back that all records of our existence have been lost? Has the enemy overrun all our defenses? Destroyed the last of our fleets? Curse this war with those soulless Jem’Hadar and their shape shifting masters! There is nothing more alien and incomprehensible to me. And I don’t think our admirals understand them any better than us grunts, seeing how things are going. Yet by now, even a faint signal from enemy ships would be a welcome sign that something outside of our selves still existed in the universe. I have no idea why I bother to log these desolate thoughts.

T’Zin thought she had picked up something yesterday, or was it the day before…with those sharp ears of hers. We poured over the recording but it was a dead hum of empty, empty, space. Listening to what is virtually silence is like staring into endless fog which never dissipates. Useless. No, less than useless; it is slowly driving us mad. It might be a blessing to go insane before we starve to death.

When our Andorian chief petty officer died of what we think is his species’ version of appendicitis, we put his body in the food locker. But seeing it there all the time was demoralizing, so we buried it in a shallow grave in the fine-grained sand outside. First the marker blew away in the wind. Then the wind dug out the body and pushed it god knows where. We had neither the strength of body nor presence of mind to trek across the sands and rocky outcroppings to look for it. It is gone, like we soon will be.

I have read all the novels on my padd at least six times. They no longer engage my mind. I barely know anymore, if I am in a state of waking hallucination or the nightmares of sleep cycle. The very concept of routine has given in to a sense of grinding despair. I would no longer call us a functioning unit. We hunger for ship signals but I have forgotten what we are supposed to do with them. In my more lucid moments, I fear we shall lie here unresponsive and let them pass out of range and loose the very last chance of rescue.

I thought I heard the voice of Na’vats a moment ago. But Na’vats is tumbling in the wind. He no longer leads us. The noise was T’Zin snoring again, perhaps. At least SHE can retreat into that Vulcan catalepsy called deep meditation. And I have heard about, but never discussed with her, the Vulcan ability to take such command of their autonomic functions that they are able to stop their own hearts. Vulcan suicide seems a logical concept to me now, but unattainable to an unbound Trill like myself. I wonder if she could reach out that hot green hand of hers and stop my own heart? And would she do it if I asked her to?

I was fumbling through the medical kit today for medicine which might possibly dampen hunger pains. Where is Sanders, our Human healer? No, it’s Vulcans who have healers; Humans have medical technicians. So where is our medical technician when we need her? She was supposed to take care of minor medical needs between visits of that supply ship. Does that include our mental health? I suppose that it would, if she had returned from her “short” exploration of our environment looking for I forgot what. Oh yes, looking for anything which might be of use to us since the supply ship is so late. A desperate hope, but it was something to keep her busy, she said. I would guess her body is also tumbling in the wind by now. Maybe it has been bumping into Na’vats in a friendly dead man’s liaison. Useless, both of them now, to T’Zin and I. I am so tired, so hungry.

Why am I still spending mental energy on thinking? A waste of what little energy I have left. I wish they had given us those hibernation boxes. The ones the Telerites invented are the best. Little hope for us now with the last of the food a distant memory. I suppose the Vulcan will hold out the longest, if she doesn’t stop her own heart like they say Vulcans are capable of. Did I mention that ability before? She has not spoken to me in…hours?...days? Has she done herself in already or does she just think it useless to communicate anymore? I am too physically weak to get up and go over to check her cot, and mentally…only mildly curious. My voice a faint whisper while recording this, maybe she is listening. Sleep. Back to sleep, now. That is the best thing.

I… just had…a thought? I have not eaten in god knows how long. Am I still hungry? I was hungry a while ago…oh so very hungry. Am I thirsty? Not. I suppose…not.

I hear…something. No. Nothing. Only that endless wind.

. Oh, that wind. Ohhhh…

Aboard the Federation hospital/machine shop/supply ship - former science vessel Desert Wind:

“Sir, I have extracted a chart of listening posts from the remains of a computer in the charred hulk of that supply ship we found drifting two days ago. The supply run dates I was able to decipher are only a couple of months old, from just before the end of the war. Should we investigate these post locations?”

“Crewman Taylor, I think not. We have enough to do with finding survivors in the remains of these devastated colonies and salvaging any materials that Federation worlds can use in the rebuilding of home world infrastructures. No, we do not have the time or resources to spend on listening posts which were most likely abandoned before the war even ended. It is a case of the needs of the many. Which in this case means the needs of the few over the needs of the fewer. Occupy your off-shift time with something more useful or more recreational.”

“Aye, Lieutenant Sapak. Sorry to have mentioned it.”

“No problem, Crewman. Just toss that printout into the recycler and go get something to eat. I noticed you have been at this useless task for hours.”

“Thank you, Sir. There, one chart discarded. I am off to the mess deck. Now that I think of it, I doubt anyone has ever been hungrier than I am at this moment.”

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