Two weeks alone. No subspace contacts, no signs of other pods, no indication that anyone knew she was alive deep in the vastness of space. The Trinity was gone, her friends were gone, and the love of her life was vaporized in a 10,000 degree anti-matter explosion.
Katie stirred on the escape pod's upholstered bench. She was out of water, her emergency rations were gone, and her life support system had started to fail. The air was fast becoming toxic with high levels of carbon dioxide. Her own breathing was beginning to kill her.
She drifted in and out of consciousness. Probably for the best considering the internal temperature of the pod was now over 30 degrees centigrade and climbing rapidly. Condensation covered all the viewports and she now felt more than ever that this 3 cubic meter box would become her tomb.
Through some miracle, she had avoided the Jem'Hadar ships that had destroyed the Tenth Fleet and conquered Betazed for the Dominion. She had no idea if it was dumb luck or they just didn't want to waste their time with one Starfleet officer drifting off alone into the void.
She was too exhausted to care anymore. Death was only a few hours away. She would simply fall asleep and that would be it. In a few decades, a deep survey ship or star freighter would detect a tritanium signature and tractor the pod in for salvage rights. The idea made her laugh. There was absolutely nothing of value inside the pod, except maybe her engagement ring. In any case, even that was only made of a few karats of gold and diamond. Substances that could easily be acquired of one a thousand asteroids scattered through the quadrant.
The aliens would find her decomposed remains. A quick DNA scan would reveal she was once human, and they would begin to ponder what had brought her to this terrible fate.
"Another casualty from that war so long ago…." They would mutter in whatever language they spoke to one another. She briefly prayed that it wouldn't be Vorta.
Suddenly, anger filled her broken body. Katie didn't want to be some unknown victim. No, she was determined to let those strangers know who she was and what she died for.
She rubbed her dry tongue across her chapped lips to work up enough spit to speak.
"Computer…" she labored to speak with a heavy chest. "Begin Recording: To anyone who finds this message, my name is Lieutenant Junior Grade Katherine Stone. I was born in Long Beach, California on the planet Earth. I am an officer of the Starfleet of the United Federation of Planets and survivor of the starship, USS Trinity, lost at the Battle of Betazed during the Dominion War.
Please inform whatever entity currently represents the interests of Starfleet on Earth that my remains have been found and how I died. Please return the golden ring found on my left hand to any surviving family of my parents, Maxwell and Julia Stone, and commit my physical remains to space as befits an officer of Starfleet.
Also, please inform the family of Pamela Montgomery of Fairfax, Virginia, Earth, that I last saw her son, Lieutenant Junior Grade Paul Montgomery, acting with heroism and valor as he rescued as many survivors of our ship as possible without regard for his own life or safety…."
She paused as her dehydrated eyes somehow produced tears.
"And tell her, that I loved her son with all my heart. I'm coming, Paulie…" she muttered as her head began to sink back into blackness, "I'll see you soon…"
The entire escape pod lurched as an unseen force grabbed it. The humming vibration of a tractor beam caused the entire hull to shudder. She thought she had to be imagining things. Either that, or the Jem'Hadar had finally found her.
Maybe they would kill her and get it over with. Maybe, she had survived all this time only to slowly die of starvation and disease in a Dominion Prison Camp. Either way, she would look her captors in the eyes. There was still plenty of fight left in Katie Stone, and she would not give those grey-skinned, rhino-nosed bastards the pleasure of capturing an unconscious, unresponsive woman.
She used her last bit of strength to push herself off the bench and towards the fogged over porthole on the starboard side of her pod. With a trembling arm, she reached up and wiped away the condensation with one stroke of her palm.
A huge saucer stared her back in the face. The light of a nearby sun brilliantly illuminated the white and grey tritanium of her hull plating. The starship's two massive nacelles glinted against the brilliant light, it's yellow and black deflector dish pulsed against the black background. She couldn't believe it. Someone had found her. She was a tiny speck adrift in a dark, endless ocean, but someone had found her.
She focused her eyes, trying desperately to make out which crew had pulled off this miracle. Finally, the name of the vessel appeared in bold black lettering against its hull:
Katie bolted awake with a stifled scream. Phil briefly stirred in his deep slumber, but quickly rolled back over into quiet sleep. Katie fought to bring her panicked breathing back into calm rhythm.
Slowly, she pushed her way out from under the covers, grabbed a towel from the nightstand, and wiped the sweat from her face and neck. She stumbled over to the window on the far side of room and stared out at space rushing by.
She gritted her teeth and cursed only loud enough for her to hear. Every time she thought she was breaking free, every time she thought she was beginning to conquer the terrible demons of her past, they found a way to push back into her mind.
Katie Stone had been a brawler her whole life. She trained to fight enemies with everything from a starship's phasers to her own fists. However, she still couldn't figure out how to fight her own warped brain.