Meditation And Water 1/3 (2024)

Meditation And Water 1/3 (1)

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Meditation And Water 1/3 (2)
Meditation And Water

by Stella Maru

PG-13 - Angst/Romance - R/S

AN: The title refers to a line from Moby-Dick: "Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever." Oh, and it's spoilery for the episode "Minefield".

Malcolm stood on the narrow walkway circling the platform gripping the railing tightly, staring out at the expanse of water surrounding him. The complex was like an iceberg, he thought, just the tip is exposed to the surface. There was the lookout tower and landing platform above water and several decks worth of labs and offices below the surface.
Why did I suggest this? he thought for the 49th time in as many minutes, imagining the long trip back to shore.
The Captain had looked at him a bit strangely when he had volunteered to tour the underwater laboratory. "I hear they use some interesting weaponry to deal with the, ah, larger deep-sea creatures," he had said, as brightly as he could muster, "and I don't think it's wise for us to separate too much. Someone should accompany Ensign Sato while she collects data on the I'stiiri language. We haven't met the I'stiiri yet and they may not be as welcoming as the Yi'sthan."
Something about the setup bothered him. A new planet, an overly friendly native species, an invitation to tour a remote lab extended only to Hoshi... he didn't like it. The Captain had agreed and now, two hours later, here he was grasping the rail like a silly frightened child.
Why did I suggest this? he thought for the 50th time.
"Water, water, every where, / Nor any drop to drink," said a voice behind him, "isn't that the line?"
"Ensign," he said straightening up and clearing his throat, "I wasn't exactly thinking of Coleridge at the moment."
"No? Horatio Hornblower then, or maybe Aubrey and Maturin? Grand adventure on the high seas for King and country?" She smiled and nudged his arm to let him know she was teasing. His expression was changeless. She softened her tone. "You seemed deep in thought. We're about to go below to see the diving area and maybe meet some I'stiiri... The armory is down there as well," she added for enticement.
Right. On the bottom level.
"Yes. We shouldn't keep Mr. Kitty-run waiting."
"It's pronounced Kt-EEr-AHn," she said, "calling him 'kitty-run' could cause a minor diplomatic incident. It means 'child of a--'"
He turned to her and she caught a glimpse of something in his eyes, something familiar but entirely unexpected from him. The very thought of it disturbed her. She coughed.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she asked, "The water is so peaceful. It makes me feel calm."
"I suppose," he said. She caught that glimpse again. This time she recognized it for she had seen it reflected back from her mirror many times.
As realization came to her she struggled to keep her expression from changing. Why in the world did he want to come along? she thought, looking at the open expanse of water with new eyes. "I'm glad you're here," she said, holding his arm. He glanced at her, surprised. Her face was beautiful. She smiled slightly. Looking at her made him feel calm.


"...and this is a Stha'nak rifle, designed to function under water. Its primary purpose at this facility is to protect our divers from the Stha'nak, the largest predator in these waters." Kteeran, their Yi'sthan guide and head researcher at the complex, paused and looked at the two humans expectantly. The male was still staring out the observation window while the female was intently listening to his speech.
"It's... most impressive," she said, "how does it work? Are there many Stha'nak around here?"
"Quite a few. They are attracted by the I'stiiri ashthalki," he said as he demonstrated the firing mechanism on the rifle.
"Excuse me, did you say their hair?"
"It is similar. You will see." Kteeran leaned the rifle against his large desk and walked to the door. "We should go to the diving area now. There may be some I'stiiri there for you to meet. Perhaps there will be something to interest you?" Kteeran directed the last comment to the human male who still hadn't taken his eyes from the large window looking out on the deep.
"What? Yes, I imagine there will be," he replied.
Hoshi poked him in the arm and smiled. "Malcolm, you barely looked when he brought out the big guns, are you ill?" she whispered.


The diving area was located in the center of the complex. Equipment lockers lined the walls. A few Yi'sthan scientists were examining an object closely at the far end of the room. The focal point of the room was the large ovoid pool.
"Three steps and then the water," Malcolm thought. It looked like a swimming pool but he knew it led directly to the wide ocean, under the laboratory.
Hoshi was talking to Kteeran about the absence of air tanks. "Most of our divers are I'stiiri," he said, "they can remain below surface for much longer than we Yi'sthan. They do use masks for vision occasionally--"
There was a small splash and a lithe humanoid creature stepped out of the deep. He--or she, it was impossible to tell--was physically similar to the Yi'sthan, rather short, with a sharp, angular face and long delicate fingers. The skin was slick and paler than the usual Yi'sthan olive tinge. The most striking difference, however, was in the long thick, tendril-like appendages (was it hair?) hanging wetly from the I'stiiri's head.
"Ah," said Kteeran, "we are honored, Ekiisanni. These are our guests from, ah, Earth. They wish to speak with you and study your language!"
"Not different so much from yours, Kteeran," said the I'stiiri nodding briefly at them.
"Ekii, we shan't start that old argument in front of our guests, hm?"
"The argument is yours, my friend Kteer. I am afraid the time for discussion I do not have. A Stha'nak is coming. I have need for your rifles?"
"Ah! Come, I will fetch some for you. Perhaps you two would like to watch the action? There is an observation room at the end of that hall," Kteeran said as he bustled towards the armory with Ekiisanni.


Malcolm followed Hoshi down the corridor to the observation room, sparing a glance back to that dark pool that led to the open ocean. He heard her gasp as she entered the room and quickened his step. When he got to the entry way he gasped softly as well.
The room was entirely--except for the flooring--glassed in.
They could see all around and above them. Fish swam in zigzag patterns and two I'stiiri were swimming a few meters away from the window. Their ashthalki surrounded their faces like petals. They glowed with a bright luminescence.
"Oh. They're beautiful!" said Hoshi. Malcolm looked at her upturned face, enchanted by the light emanating from the I'stiiri.
Say something you fool or she'll think you're a nitwit.
"Yes. They're quite striking," he replied looking at her dark eyes. She shifted her gaze to his face, taut with unspoken anxiety, and his eyes, warmly meeting hers. She thought she could look into his eyes for, well, if not eternity, at least a very long time. She suddenly found it difficult to catch her breath. She felt him gingerly take her hand, as if he was afraid she would snatch it back in anger.
"Very beautiful..." he whispered.
"Malcolm..." she began, "oh my god, look!" she pointed out the glass. Ekiisanni had joined the two I'stiiri and they now held Stha'nak rifles. Beyond the three the Stha'nak slowly approached. It was big. Very big. Enormous, even. It resembled on a cursory level an Earth shark with two long pincer-like appendages extending from the sides of its large mouth. As it swam closer Hoshi tightened her grip on Malcolm's hand. The Stha'nak made a beeline for the three IÕstiiri, opening its maw as it swam. Its mouth was full of sharp teeth and large enough to take all three in one gulp.
Ekiisanni fired his rifle grazing one of the creature's pincers. The Stha'nak whipped around lightening quick and lunged at Ekiisanni. He whipped to the side. The other two I'stiiri swam apart until they were positioned above and below the head. Acting in concert the three I'stiiri fired their rifles at the Stha'nak's head. The water filled with a billow of blood as the head and body fell to the ocean floor, deep in the dark below.
"That's one that won't be bothering anyone for a good while!" Kteeran said from the entryway. "Now, if you would be so good as to accompany me? I'm afraid I must ask you to stay a short while longer. Please don't make this more unpleasant than it has to be!" He said as he lowered a sleek silver gun at Malcolm who was reaching for his phase pistol. "I'll take that, thank you." Two more Yi'sthan entered the room pointing guns at the pair.
Outside the windows thousands of tiny fish swarmed the cloud of Stha'nak blood.

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Meditation And Water 1/3 (2024)


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