I wait a few seconds just to see whether the alarm would sound but, somehow, the intruder’s presence is not noticed by the main computer of the Enterprise. The strange man looks around, clearly satisfied with his apparition and his lips twist into a malicious grin.
A chill runs through my spine making my body shivers and a groan of fear escaped my lips.
The man’s posture changes so he must have heard him. He’s alert, all his senses turned on and I cover my month and stop breathing. He’s perusing his surroundings with watchful eyes. I can barely move terrified as I am but I manage to take a slow step back. I’m ready to turn and start running, my heart beat about to burst out of my chest when I hear heavy footsteps. I take another cautious step back and then I hit something big and rigid and I feel my body petrified, frozen in place. I try look back.
Something like a piece of cloth covers my mouth before I can look straight back and I’m choking, wrestling at the same time to free myself from the strange man’s arms. But I’m beginning to lose my consciousness; the corridor around me begins to look fuzzy and blurry, my heart beating loudly at my ears whilst my blood runs fast and cold with horror. I feel my eyes roll to the back of my head and I lost track of where I am, of who I am and all awareness.
A terrible headache is what wakes me up. It’s as if my skull is being cut in two and groaning with pain, I open my eyelids. My vision first focuses on my legs and then I look up to the place I’m tied up. I recognise this as one of the chambers of the Enterprise – the structure of the room only changes slightly from the rest of the ship. It’s used as warehouse to store various artefacts.
I blink several times to clear my blurry vision and to get used to the dark environment. I’m tied to a wooden chair, ropes burning my wrists when I try to move. While I’m desperately trying to get free, my attention is caught by a dark, tall and broad figure standing hidden in the shadows. I can only see his eyes, his bright and sad eyes, staring at me.
“Who are you? What do you want from me?” I ask struggling in vain to free myself and feeling my wrists burn.
The intruder takes a step forward and I’m finally able to distinguish his features and his expression. His clothes are filthy and ragged and I notice they are not part of this time or world. He has a sword hanging on his waist and an axe resting on his backs. As a whole, he looks as someone takes from the medieval times.
He grins maliciously in my direction and I feel the hair on the back of my head rise. He takes careful steps towards me, his gaze never leaving mine and for a second I’m absolutely sure this is the end of my young life.
“Is this the U.S.S. Enterprise?” he asks me in a low threatening whisper, hard to ignore.
“Who wants to know?” I manage to ask after swallowing hard. My entire body jerks with dread.
“Just answer my question, girl!” he screams and his voice echoes in the dark room, reaching me like waves of peril.
“Yes! Yes, this is the Enterprise.” I answer because I know deep inside that it would be unwise not to do so and to lie in these circumstances.
“You are Ner, the human who dwells in this ship alongside its Captain and crew.”
“How… how do you know that?” I inquire, my voice failing as panic soon begins to take over me. This man, this intruder sure knows a lot about me than I actually do.
“Tell me, Miss, where is the Ring?” he asks leaning to close to me, I can even feel his breath on my cheeks.
“The Ring? What Ring?” I ask panicking and with my head swirling with unanswered questions. The intruder is too close for me to focus my breathing and my mind.
“The One Ring your precious Captain stole from me” he whispers spitefully in my ear and I feel a spasm of pure horror electrify my body.
“I don’t know any Ring… I don’t know anything…”
“Where is it?” he demands shaking my chair with his hands, yelling at my face I recoil. I think I can feel the entire compartment shake with the reverberation of his scream. I shut my eyes close.
“I already told you, I don’t know anything about any Ring. Please, let me go…” I beg in a panic murmur. “Just let me go!”
“You won’t go anywhere until I have my Ring back” he tells me with an intimidating tone striking me like cold water.
“I already told… I know nothing about any Ring…”
“Do you know the importance of that Ring?” he cuts my pleading and with my eyes still shut, I shake my head.
“The One Ring is a sacred device that allows us to go back in time. It is said it contains a power beyond belief and it can open many doors to the past and even allow us to meet our future. A tool like that would permit me to revive my past and bring back my child.”
“Your child?” I ask opening my eyes to face his. Despite the complete panic I’m in, I’m also curious about his story. “What happened to your child?”
His laugh rings of everything from disdain to sorrowfulness to painfulness. He steps back slightly from me, looks at the ceiling and I can see a tear fall down his cheek.
So this intruder does have a heart, though it’s a black one for keeping me when I know nothing about his Ring.
“My father was a mad man and a king and he sent me North to marry and have children. He was hoping that my children would, eventually, take his place on the throne. He didn’t want me or my brother to be kings after him, telling us how incompetent we were and how grandiose he was.
“My brother only wanted his love, his recognition and his blessing but our father would only ignore us both. So my brother when to the Wall and became a Night Watch, a guard that keeps an eye on the monsters that love in the forests beyond our realm. There, he lost his sanity and was attacked by burglars who burnt him to death. At least he’s gone and doesn’t have to live in this infernal world anymore…”
“I’m sorry” I choke and his eyes fall scornfully on me.
“Do not pity me” He says spiting. “My children, five of them, were cruel and hateful, always plotting against me in my back. Only my sixth son was an exception; being a bastard he could easily ignore the crown and the throne and focus on who I was. But is siblings discovered his love for me and condemned him to be beheaded.”
The intruder’s voice fails and he sobs. I don’t know why but I feel my own eyes fill with tears but swallow them.
“I couldn’t save him, couldn’t stop his execution. There I was, locked on the highest tower as my youngest and adoring son was being killed by his own blood… by his own bothers.”
He looks back at me with cloudy eyes and he approaches me once more, placing his hands on my shoulders shaking me desperately.
“That’s why I need the Ring. I need to go back in time and save him, to stop all that madness from happening. I can make a change…”
I’m beyond speechless. I want to say something but I can’t think of any words, my voice stuck on my throat as his fingers burn my skin. For a moment I wish I knew anything about his Ring, I wish I could help him because his eyes are telling the truth. But I don’t know anything and that makes me dread for my life.
“Where is it?” he asks again shaking me with even more violence than before. I feel dizzy and terrified; my entire body shuddering with spasms as I whimper in pain.“Where is the One Ring?”
“I don’t know…”
I feel something hard hit my cheek it makes it sting. His hand grabs my chin forcefully and I’m face to face with him. I could only distinguish a bearded man and bright, dangerous eyes staring deep at me. I felt a thin line of blood run from my lip and my entire face hurt.
I open my mouth to speak but I’m cut short by a huge blast behind the man. He takes his sword from his sheath and places himself between me and the wall in a waiting and ready stance. Another blast hits the wall and then another that finally knocks the wall down. The light from the corridor illuminated the entire chamber and I’m momentarily blind. While I’m blinking, a silhouette appears at the hole and my heart lurches.
I don’t know whether I feel relief, happy or even more scared.