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How to Save a Life

Posted on 24 Jul 2016 @ 8:05am by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij
Edited on on 28 Jul 2016 @ 7:27am

Mission: History
Location: Many. Oh, so many.

Aldur Kij, Project Lahema, Trill

It was to be the highest bridge ever built on the Trill homeworld, tall enough to allow the tallest ships to sail under her. The plans had been drawn up and they were nearly ready to break ground.

The project was not Aldur's, but he looked over the plans anyway. Nearly every architect on Trill wanted to have a look at them. After all, it was a marvel of engineering and had taken a lot of work to achieve. What man or woman alive wouldn't want to look at the greatest feat ever to have been conceived in their own respective fields? Surely musicians wanted to have a look at the works of the great masters, painters to see the masterworks of old. This was no different.

And so, he got his hands on the plans and spread them out on the work table. And, as he scanned the image of the bridge and the numbers and lines which contained all the information an engineer would need to build said bridge, a vague smile appeared on his face. This truly WAS a work of genius! Why, everything had been thought of! The way the bricks were formed on the that edge was structural as well as aesthetically pleasing. The arches underneath added support and beauty. Everything about it was both lovely and absolutely necessary for the bridge to function properly. Who could have asked for-

Wait! What was this?

Aldur leaned in to take a closer look at the plans, brow wrinkling. There! That function! It was wrong! But, how could that be? He knew the architect who had designed this bridge. She wouldn't have made a mistake like that! Aldur took out his glasses and took a closer look. Ah, yes! He could see it now! The ghost of a small line that had been removed. But, to change this function would....

No!

Yes!

Oh, dear!

Sabotage!

Aldur gasped at the very thought. But, the small change would cause the bridge to fall. Oh, not right away, of course. It would stand for a few years, but the weakness would start here and then a crack would form there and in five years, perhaps six-

He gasped again. Someone was trying to sabotage this bridge! That just wouldn't do! He took up a nearby pen and very carefully added the small line back in. There! Now all was well again!

“Aldur is that you in there?”

Aldur put down the pen and gathered up the plans. “Yes, I was just admiring the Lahema project!” he declared as he rolled them up. “It's going to be a marvelous achievement. Yesmi should be proud of her work.”

“Oh, I'm certain she is,” said Galen, finally stepping around the large shelves and into Aldur's view. “The engineer is here to take the plans. This is them?”

“The very ones,” said Aldur, handing them over. He spoke no word of his correction. In his mind there was no need. It would only start a witch hunt to find out who had been messing with things and nobody would be safe. Best to just keep it to himself and watch out for signs.

Decades later, the bridge was still in use and still as strong as the day it was built. Aldur had found the young architect who had made the change and had a talk with him. He had promised Aldur to never do anything so foolish again and had so far kept his promise.

And Aldur Kij smiled as he gazed at the bridge, knowing that many lives had been saved, all because of one small line.

Belar Kij, Ambrian Square, Trill

Belar stood staring grumpily at an absolutely hideous fountain that had been erected in honor of those who'd given their lives in some foolish war or something. He didn't know. He didn't care, either. The war had been stupid and the fountain was just as stupid. But, everyone else seemed to like it, so the damned thing was here to stay.

He sniffed and turned away from the ridiculous monument. Monument! What a joke! It was art- badart, at that- built only to put a feather in the cap of some trumped up artist who didn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. Belar would be damned if he'd kowtow to everyone about this infernal thing. It was a blight, that's what it was!

He caught a flash ahead from under a man's jacket. That had looked like some sort of weapon. He watched the stupid man for a bit. He looked nervous and agitated. Well, that just wouldn't do.

Belar made his way casually towards the man, pretending to scowl at the shrubberies nearby. He didn't have to pretend long, though. They were horrible. Who picked shrubs like that for a park? Combined with the blasted fountain, the whole thing was truly awful.

Finally, he found himself standing two feet from the man with the weapon under his jacket.

“You don't want to do it,” he said gruffly, yet gently.

The man jumped and whirled to face Belar's grizzled face. “What do you know about it, old man?” he snapped.

“I know that your whole life is ahead of you,” said Belar, still in that calm and gentle, yet gruff voice. “I know that whatever you think this is going to solve, it's not going to work. I know that if you're looking for revenge, you'll never find it.” He looked the younger man in the eye. “Don't ruin your life, young man,” he said, pulling on a pair of gloves. “Hand me the weapon. Walk away. Things will get better eventually.”

The young man looked at Belar for a long time. For one wild moment, Belar was afraid the man was going to kill him first and then do whatever it was he had planned. But, in one fluid motion, the man grabbed his weapon and shoved it into Belar's hands, then walked away briskly.

Belar sniffed, frowning at the man's retreating back. He then planted the weapon in the shrubs and contacted the authorities, pretending to have found it where it now lay.

Three years later, a lone figure, dressed very nicely, stood at the back of Belar's funeral. He had recognized the old man's picture in the obituary and had decided to pay his respects. Belar hadn't known it, but the man had decided to commit suicide by law enforcement- that is, he was planning on killing a lot of people, leaving the authorities no choice but to shoot him dead. However, after he walked away from the park that day, he had decided that if things weren't going his way, he was going to make them go his way. It was a turning point that saved not only his life, but many others as well.

And Belar had never told anyone.

Lorelei Kij, Woodlands of Perelan, Trill

Lorelei was of the opinion that there had been and never would be a host as great for Kij as herself. She was clever, successful, and a genius. What more could any symbiont want in any host? The fact that she was not pretty did not matter. Physical beauty could not compare the the beauty that was the mind of Lorelei Kij.

She enjoyed hiking in the woods. It was relaxing and gave her plenty of time to think about her favorite subject: herself. It was on one such walk that she found herself today, checking her supply of water. She had enough to go on for another couple of hours before she would have to turn back. That was wonderful! More time to consider all of the spectacular qualities she had.

She continued along the path, admiring the industry of a small animal who had discovered a natural hollow in a rock where he could store his food for winter and thinking how she was just as clever as that, if not more so. As she turned back to the path, her nose caught a small whiff of smoke.

Smoke?

Lorelei blinked. Smoke was not good. But, how not good was it? She spent a couple of minutes sniffing around before finally identifying the direction from which the smoke was coming. She followed it into the woods for several feet before her eye caught a glimmer of flame among the brush.

Why, it was tiny! It looked as if it had only just started. She rushed to it and attempted to stomp it out, but it was a bit too big for that. With an agitated sigh, she upended her water supply over it, which effectively snuffed the fire. She waited a few moments to be sure it was out, then turned back to the path.

Well, it looked like her hike was over for the day. She had no more water and hiking without water was dangerous. One could become dehydrated and dehydration could lead to illness. She angrily stomped back to the path and started heading for home.

It was only years later, when experience had humbled her greatly, that she realized exactly what she had done. That fire would have spread quickly in the dry brush all around. From there, it would be nothing for the fire to spread to the trees and the nearby villages and towns that surrounded the area. Not only could many acres of woodlands have been lost, but many lives as well.

And still, contrary to Lorelei's personality, she never told anyone about the fire.

Jayla Kij, San Francisco, Earth

Ensign Jayla Kij was, of course, everything Lorelei was and everything she had wanted to be. Had they known one another in life instead of just through the symbiont, Lorelei would have hated Jayla. Jayla, however, had never hated anyone in her entire life. Not really, anyway. She had disliked people, but had never really hated anyone. But, she wouldn't have liked Lorelei, that was certain.

She had been through a lot in her 23 years. Joined too early, attempted suicide, got drunk and broke into the Captain's Ready Room, finally accepted Kij and all his previous hosts and now, she was far more wise than any cadet that had ever passed through the doors of the academy. Granted, the vast majority of that wisdom did not belong to her. It belonged to Kij and his previous hosts. But, she was privy to that wisdom.

She had often wondered why none of Kij's hosts had told of the previous hosts' hands in saving lives. But, when the opportunity came for her to tell someone about it, she had kept it to herself. She couldn't have told anyone why, but it just didn't seem right.

And so, the knowledge stayed secret, known only to Kij's current host.

As a Medical student, Jayla was, of course, assigned to the medical bay to learn the day-to-day operations of Sick Bay. Today, though, was quite boring, so she was scanning the phials of medicines for something to do. Nothing exciting game up until she reached a whole batch that were labeled as pain killers, but when the scans told her they were cardiac stimulators.

She frowned. How could they have been mislabeled? It could have been done on purpose, but Jayla couldn't think of any reason anybody would want to do that. At least nobody who had access to them would do that. It had to be carelessness.

She set the phials aside and added a note to them: “These MAY have been mislabeled.” She scanned the rest of the medicines, but nothing strange came up, so she left the suspicious phials on Doctor Mayer's desk and went out to finish her shift.

The next day, Dr. Mayer attempted to find out who had left the note, but Jayla- nor anybody else- would own up to it. As it turned out, they HAD been mislabeled. And it was a good thing Jayla had been killing time scanning them, too, because an accident in the science labs brought a lot of people in and in the haste to heal everyone, a lot of people would have been given cardiac stimulants instead of pain killers. This could have killed them.

After this, Mayer could be heard to remark on several occasions that whoever had discovered the error should be commended, but still Jayla kept her silence. She got the feeling that he knew it had been her, but he never directly confronted her about it and she never offered the information.

All in all, thousands of lives have been saved because of Kij and his hosts. Thousands of people have no clue that their lives were owed to Kij. Their children and children's children and children's children's children all would have thanked Kij and his hosts had they known. But, none of them did, none of them do, and none of them will.

And that's exactly how Kij likes it!

***July Off-Duty Writing Challenge Entry***

 

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