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Literary Challenge #36 : The Haunting of Deck 13

pwebranflakespwebranflakes Member Posts: 7,741
edited January 2013 in Ten Forward
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:

Today we start the two-week run of the thirty-sixth Literary Challenge: The Haunting of Deck 13
As of late, your crew has been reporting strange occurrences on Deck 13. While you have yet to experience anything out of the ordinary yourself, some have stated that they've found items out of place, heard strange sounds, and even seen shadows of unidentified individuals roaming the corridors. Surely the internal sensors would be picking up intruders or anything out of the norm, right?... Right? Write a Captain's Log entry detailing the findings, if there is anything that explains what is happening, and how things returned back to normal on Deck 13.

This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
  • Each Challenge will run for two weeks. For 2 weeks we will sticky the challenge and let you make your entry.
  • There are no right or wrong entry.
  • The background story, questions I ask, and format requested are only to serve as a platform that you can start your writing from. Feel free to change up the back-story or the way you deliver, as long as the entry stays on topic of the original challenge.
  • Write as little or as much as you would like.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.
  • In the Discussion Thread, feel free to write what inspired you and what your thoughts on the topic are.
  • A few other important reminders:
    • Please heed the rest of the forum's rules when submitting your entry! All of them apply to these posts.
    • Each poster can have one entry. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next two weeks.
    • After two weeks time, the thread will be locked and unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
    • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**
Post edited by pwebranflakes on

Comments

  • designationxr377designationxr377 Member Posts: 542 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    "...and, Captain, that brings us to the next matter," the Vulcan went on as they stepped into the turbolift. With a quick order the two were on their way up to the bridge. "What are you going to do about this 'Deck 13' matter. Superstitions, as illogical as they are, could still play a negative role on the moral and work performance of the-"

    The Captain interrupted him with a loud sigh. "Computer," a beep rang out, "Deck Thirteen." A secondary beep responded to the order and soon they were stopped with the doors sliding open.

    They were met by a dark hallway, the lights barely flickering, if at all on, and a malfunctioning atmospheric control pumping out a fog like mist low to the ground. Unlike the Vulcan who was honestly perplexed that there seemed to be the remoteness of credibility to the crewmen's claims in this myth the Captain was unfazed. He leaned out of the turbolift and addressed the darkness on a first name basis.

    "Ghost of Hamlet's Father. Cut it out. You've got work to do."

    With that he leaned back into their mode of conveyance, signaling the machine to return their course to the bridge all the while ignoring the Vulcan's raised eyebrow.

    Shortly after the doors had closed, and the hallway was again empty, a ghostly holographic head phased through the bulkhead and looked down towards where the Captain had been. On it was a sad and pleading face akin to a scolded child's.

    "Aawwwwww..."
  • ironphoenix113ironphoenix113 Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    "Deck 13." Bryan muttered to himself angrily as the turbolift gently slid through its shaft to the only deck on the ship people tried to avoid. "Always deck 13. Probably just some lowly crewmen who thinks he's funny by scaring everyone."

    The doors quietly slid open, revealing the empty, though brightly lit, corridors of deck 13.

    "Athena, scan the corridor," Bryan called.

    "Nothing unusual to report, sir." the AI reponded.

    Bryan let out an exasperated sigh. "All right. Tell Ibalei-" A shadow suddenly flashed out of the corner of his eye.

    "Sir?" Athena said questioningly.

    Bryan paused. "Tell her I'll be back up in a few minutes."

    With that, Bryan followed where he had seen the shadow. As he strode through the halls, he began to hear faint whispers.

    "Athena, scan local decibel levels. Exclude ambient ship noise. and our voices" Bryan called.

    "I've got nothing sir." She responded.

    "Very well."

    Bryan continued walking. It was then that he came upon a room that almost no one had ever entered. It was nothing special, just another multipurpose room, capable of being converted into civilian housing, diplomat's quarters, or any other number of possible uses, but this one had only been used once, during a funeral for Ensign Miziogh, a Bolian science officer who had served as the communications and sensors until her death during an engagement with the Borg, a role that was filled by Ensign Aara when she defected. The door to the room slid quietly shut behind Bryan when he stepped in, but Bryan didn't notice, as he was paying more attention to what he saw in the constantly changing shadowy figures: the faces of everyone who had been killed under his command. Bryan just stood there, watching their face flash by. Normally very calm and collected, Bryan finally broke, realizing he had been forcing himself to ignore the stress all of the losses had been causing him by forcing himself into as much duty as possible. But now, standing before all of their faces, he couldn't help but realize what he had been doing.

    Later, his first officer, Ibalei Zera, finally found him leaning in a corner, tears streaking down his face.

    "Are you all right Bryan?" She asked.

    "No. I'm really not." he responded, his voice cracking a little.

    "So, your past finally caught up with you? She said consolingly.

    Bryan wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his jacket. "Yea. I guess forcing your problems down isn't going to make it go away, huh?"

    "Nope. It only makes them worse." Ibalei responded.

    The two stood there for a brief moment. Bryan looked into Ibalei's grey eyes, and she stared into his. After what seemed like an eternity, the two finally, for the first time in the six years they had known each other, kissed. Out of the corner of his eye, Bryan saw the faces of his former crewmen smile just before they disappeared.
    Vice Admiral Bryan Mitchel Valot
    Commanding officer: Odyssey class U.S.S. Athena
    Admiral of the 1st Assault Fleet
    Join date: Some time in Closed Beta
  • wraithshadow13wraithshadow13 Member Posts: 1,536 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    Captain's Log: Stardate 88021.5


    It started simply, I suppose as this sort of thing normally does... with a whisper. The occasional chirp here and there of a comm badge that no one called, the sensation of being watched, getting a shiver down the spine, crewmen hearing some one call their names when no one else was there, but then it slowly escalated. Suddenly people were finding things missing or in places they weren't left, some reported being touched by an unseen hand, and before long people were reporting seeing a figure roaming the halls, a figure described as a bluish shadow that never fully manifested. By the time the rumor reached me over dinner at the captain's table deck thirteen had been officially declared haunted by the crew. I'm not the spiritual type, but I've learned there are a lot of strange things that happen out in space.

    Officially we were returning to the Tau Dewa Sector. The Romulans were having repeated issues with the Hirogen harassing their colonies on their new home world and The U.S.S. Geist had been asked to intervene. It seemed like the closer we came to the Neutral Zone the more reports of hauntings until Crewman Wraith went casually passing through, and by passing through I mean the wall from the hall way into the Mess Hall scaring the hell out of one of the lieutenants on duty. The boy's a tough one but this time he would be in sickbay for a few days which put a halt to our trip to New Romulus until we figured this out. The last thing we needed was to bring a new trouble to their doorstep, the Romulans had enough on their plates as it was.

    First step was to do a full systems check and security sweep of the holo emitters. The Prometheus class ship is one of the few ships in the fleet that has holo emitters running along the entire ship. Normally they're intended to allow the EMH free range of the ship in terms of medical emergencies, but I've been using them to run drills and tactical simulations as a means of training. My first thought was that somebody was maybe using the system to carry out a vendetta one of my crew, but systems checked out, no intrusions or unauthorized access. I had science officers scanning for various factors both inside and out of the ship, subspace anomalies, temporal distortions, life signs, or even evidence of a cloaked ship. Nothing. There was no discernible cause for what was happening and no evidence that it was happening except for a member of my crew in sick bay and a crew member shaped hole in the Mess Hall.

    Hours went by with little activity, but much like any ghost story it didn't stay that way. Periodically we would start getting power fluctuations as well as problems with environmental controls. I'd restricted access to the entire deck while teams ran every test they could think as well as repairing the damage. Chief Fine was going over a few of the plasma conduits near the hole when one of her team bringing her tools spotted our 'guest' looming over her as she worked. The ensign described that it looked like the entity was reaching out for her, causing the ensign to drop her tools. As the Fine and the entity turned a near by panel exploded during a power fluctuation and suddenly the thing rushed the ensign vanishing right as it hit her knocking her on her butt. Luckily neither were harmed but it seemed that our specter was becoming more aggressive and possibly stronger, but as one of the science team discovered, the stronger our ghost became the more ambient energy it needed.

    With that the senior staff began calculations on how frequent the sightings were as well as what was going on during each one. The entity stayed mostly near the Mess Hall and the shuttle bay one deck directly above. As occurrences became more frequent it was Edison, my science lead who pointed out that they were also narrowing to a single point on the ship. There were a lot of variables which seemed to effect the pattern, the most notable of which was Chief Fine herself. When ever she'd gone to deck thirteen for the various repairs the entity appeared, often close to her position. For a while I decided to pull her off the repairs and things seemed to die down a little. Any one who needed to go through there needed clearance as well as a security escort. Things had been quiet enough for a few hours and I was almost able to get a full night sleep until replicators in the Mess as well as the surrounding crew quarters. The resulting overload blew out power to the aft relays which brought the rear turrets offline.

    It was bad enough that the ship was 'haunted' but I'd be damned if we were going to be defenseless in the middle of the Romulan neutral zone. Devon, while a little unnerved by her stalker, was more than willing to return to repair duty as returning power to deck thirteen but I wouldn't let her go without two guards in tow at all times. When not on deck the entity began gravitating towards the crew quarters, each time either appearing as a shadow in peripheral vision or up to old tricks of moving things. But it wasn't until it hit the quarters of Lieutenant Molyse, the only Bolian on board that it became violent again. The lieutenant never stood a chance. Sensors picked up another energy flux in his room, but not from any of the ships systems. By the time security responded Molyse was as Dr. E'Saul put it... Anatomically inverted. He died shortly after in sickbay. He was still alive when they found him. What ever this thing was it had just maliciously killed a member of my crew and in doing so deemed itself too dangerous to let live.

    Dealing with this thing became a lot more important than it had been hours before forcing me to put the ship on yellow alert. Rather than just having the science teams plowing through data, I devoted all senior staff to dealing with the entity. Confinement, defense, and if need be a way to put it down, all options were now out on the table. While going over tactics Edison began picking up various anomalies readings, he was picking up massive drains of ambient energy dropping temperatures all over the deck as well as pulling power straight from the ships power systems, the energy buildup alone was wreaking havoc with internal sensors but there seemed to be a mass of particles massing in the mess hall under the main power relay for the shuttle bay. For all intents and purposes what ever this entity was it was forcing its way into our universe.

    I ordered red alert and all security to converge on the Mess Hall, force fields set in place to quarantine this to deck thirteen. Sensors were of no use so any thing from then on was all from reports from the teams sent in. As it began to emerge there was a sudden wave which emanated the entire ship over along with a serious burst of Chroniton particles. The strange thing was some of the more psychic species on board were hit the hardest. Dr. E'Saul and Fizi were both incapacitated in sickbay Commander T'pal and Mr. Sabin on the bridge dropped as soon as the wave hit. Lt. Commander Nassan, a Betazoid on the security team died instantly. Crewman Wraith as a Vulcan was left unaffected since most layers responsible for mental abilities including the mesiofrontal cortex were altered as a means to adapt his heavy biogenetic augmentation since psychic abilities weren't much use on a foot soldier. What it did do how ever was hurt the first two people he considered friends once he came on board.

    Once the entity came through it was all to clear what it was, at least what it used to be. A Bolian in a Starfleet uniform, at least that's what it used to be. Once everybody began to regain composure did the newly formed hulking mass begin its attack. Security began firing phaser bursts, pulse waves in the front line, sniper rifles from a distance. The creature, a mutated mass of muscle and hate dressed in shreds of uniform, began smashing its way to the two teams. Stun settings were useless so I gave permission to switch to kill, not an order I give often and when I do, its with reluctance. Slowly the blasts were taking chunks from the beast but only enough to slow it down. Most of the forward team were pressed against the walls or flung a few meters from the monster flailing his arms. As it was about to reach the second team Crewman Wraith came flying passed the team. I almost wish on some level that I'd been there to see it. It's not often that he goes all out, and from what the crew described it was a sight indeed.

    I'd only seen it a few times myself, shortly after we'd found him in a raid on station that was performing illegal scientific experiments. Section 31, a few members of Starfleet Council and any one else with high enough clearance were curious as to "the full potential" of what we'd found, all holodeck simulations of course, but it was something. But not enough. As the teams pulled out the wounded they described a brutal battle. Wraith was a blur landing heavy blows, dodging and weaving most attacks but the ones that landed were enough to kill a normal crew member. The team reported hearing Wraith talking to the creature but couldn't make out what he was saying other than trying to talk it down. The large blue creature was yelling back at him incoherently but almost enough that one officer thought it said "Traitor". Once both teams were at a safe distance the thing smashed Wraith through the freshly patched hole in the wall into the Mess hall. From what Wraith said he was barely able to prop himself against the hull as the thing came in at him lunging fist first. The boy just managed to leap out of the way into the kitchen as the thing punched right through the transparent aluminum and right out into space due to the explosive decompression. The emergency force field activated and medial staff rushed in to assist the survivors while on the bridge I had Keating lock on with the antiproton cannon and destroy the thing.

    Almost a year ago a large section of the ship vanished into thin air in what we assumed was a temporal subspace anomaly. The psychic blast was actually a temporal shock wave, a rift caused by Lieutenant Mallio Literally forcing his way back into existence. He'd been erased from the time stream but some how continued exist, fueled by his hatred of Wraith, mutated by god knows what energies out side of time, and forgotten by the crew he once saved. The Monster he'd become was incinerated by the cannon, what it was was only a shadow of what he used to be, but I couldn't leave it to be found or studied, not even by the Federation. Mallio didn't deserve that, not even after what he'd become.



    Captain James Charles Donovan


    Computer, end log.
  • sollvaxsollvax Member Posts: 4 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    Captains Log additional
    Classify for Coded transfer to Imperial Science Directorate and Security.
    Gunnery officer Malk at 07.18 hours reported to Security Officer Kang that two crew members had communicated that they were trapped in a corridor on deck 13 between two swirling areas of "laughing mist".
    The mist was reported as reacting to external interactions , spreading out to evade weapons fire , Damage to ships structure has not been detected but weapons fire in the area of Engineering (Aft Port) was reported by security in the same time frame.
    A report of an entity of "Apparent intelligence and Malice" which seems resistant to disruptor fire is a potential cause for concern.

    These Crew members Gor'ak Son of Toth and Similok of Gorn were subsequently detained and questioned at length in security.
    Checked for Drug or chemical intoxication in the Infirmary and scanned for Alien pathogens.
    No evidence of any of these was found.

    Security report that both crew members story are near identical and suspect collusion.

    Acting on his own authority Gunnery officer Malk took the turbo lift to deck 12 and ran extensive sensor scans on the sub-structure looking for Subspace warping or dimensional shifting.
    He reported that no such readings were detected.

    I summoned my Engineering officer and ordered an investigation of the Turbo lift logs.
    This revealed no record of Any crew member accessing deck 13 at any time.
    Further scans confirmed what we already knew, The "Sword of honour" has 12 decks the same as it has since we were launched .
    I am at this time at a loss to explain these reports.

    Science Directorate standing orders require a full report of any encounter with non corporeal life forms or evidence of such.
    I therefore make this report and suggest the two crew members should be transfered to IKSD Hq for detailed study and debriefing and Formally request that no more Gorn be assigned to this vessel.
    Live long and Prosper
  • bortjinxbortjinx Member Posts: 397
    edited January 2013
    "Captain, there are... tales... going around the crew that deck 13 is haunted. Have you heard them? I've already had several crewmen book sessions with me to put their fears to rest." Vranlek was sitting in Jinx's office, just off the bridge of the Nightingale. Jinx was on the other side of the desk, looking slightly confused.
    "Vranlek, this class of ship is based on the Defiant design. Neither the Defiant, nor the Nightingale even has a deck 13. Hell, we don't even have a deck 7."
    "I know, Captain, but telling that to the crewmen who come to me has no apparent effect. For the most part, they just tell me that the ghosts must have gotten into my head. Then they refuse to talk to me, so I stopped telling them."
    "Could this have anything to do with that anomaly Two is investigating?
    "We have detected no unusual activity from it that could explain such an occurance, but I will talk to Two and see if there is anything out of the ordinary."
    "Very well, Commander. Keep me informed on this deck 13 thing. It sounds like it could be trouble."
    "Yes, Sir."

    Vranlek left, and Jinx leaned back in her chair, a slightly puzzled expression on her face. Reaching out, she tapped a few keys on her desk and an image appeared - the technical schematic for the USS Nightingale. There they were, right where they should be. Decks one to six. No deck 13 anywhere to be seen. Giving her head a quick shake, Jinx cleared her screen and stood up. She crossed through the bridge to the turbolift calling out "Mat, you have the bridge" in passing and hearing Mat's warble in response.

    Inside the turbolift, Jinx said "Deck three," and the lift started moving. When the lift stopped and the door slid open, Jinx was about to leave when a small boy threw himself into the lift and, upon seeing Jinx, hid behind her, glancing fearfully out of the doorway.

    "Ghosts." He said to Jinx's puzzled expresssion. "Don't go out there. The ghosts will eat you."
    "It's ok Toram. I'm not going to let the ghosts harm you, or anyone."

    The boy smiled and relaxed, visibly reassured by Jinx's words. Of course he is reassured, she thought, He thinks I'm a great hero out of myth and legend.

    Jinx reached down and keyed a few buttons on the personal buffer each member of her crew wore, and a tricorder materialized in her hand. Standing at the door to the turbolift, Jinx scanned the corridor outside. Since this was the first time she got a look outside the turbolift, she quickly came to the conclusion that there was definitely something odd going on. This deck was not on her ship. Her tricorder flickered. There was some motion ahead. Then, nothing. A few minutes later, there it was again, the same flickering, a little closer this time. Jinx could still see nothing moving. Turning back to look back into the turbolift, Jinx noticed the sign by the turbolift doors. 'Deck 13'.

    "I think you're right Toram... Ghosts." A pained expression crossed Jinx's face. "I just hope it's not Devidians." Jinx tapped her comm badge. "Jinx to bridge."

    No answer.

    "Jinx to Vranlek, please respond."

    Nothing.

    "Jinx to Mat. Does anyone read me?"

    Apparently not.

    Jinx backed up, back into the turbolift, and said "Bridge." The door shut and the lift started to move. A few seconds later, the door slid open to reveal the Nightingale's bridge. She stepped out and walked over to Vranlek, closely trailled by Toram.

    "Vranlek, I think I need to book one of those counselling sessions myself. I took the turbolift down to deck three, and it sent me to deck 13. Toram was already down there." Jinx nodded towards where the small boy was peeking up at Vranlek from behind a chair. Aliens that did not remotely look human were still unnerving to him, and as a Reman, Vranlek definitely wasn't human.
    "I believe we may have found out what is causing deck 13 to appear, Captain," Vranlek said, while attempting to smile at the boy. He cowered further behind the chair though. "The anomaly Two is investigating is giving off an unidentified subsonic pulse. I've asked the Doctor to examine a few people who have reported to me, and the pulse is causing a chemical imbalance in their brain, leading to disturbing hallucinations. There is no immediate danger, and the crew will return to normal once we leave the anomaly. Two says he will have completed his analysis in a few hours. We should be safe until then."
    "I see. Thanks. Open shipwide communications."
    "All hands, this is your Captain speaking. We are currently investigating a spatial anomaly which is having an unusual effect on everyone on board. Please remain on your current deck until I announce it is safe to move between decks again. Jinx out." Turning back towards Vranlek, she said "Well, I was going to the mess hall, but I suppose the replicator in my office will do just as well. Coming, Toram?"

    The next few hours pass fairly uneventfully, although several people report that simply entering a room is sometimes enough to wind up on deck 13, although it is always just a simple case of turning around and stepping out again.

    Finally, Two has completed his analysis, and the order is given to depart the anomaly. Within an hour, all instances of deck 13 being encountered have stopped, and the ship seems to return to normal.

    Late that night, Jinx is carrying Toram down to their quarters, since he fell asleep on the sofa in her office, when she enters the turbolift. "Deck three," she says, and the lift starts moving. It opens, on deck three as Jinx quickly confirms, and Jinx steps out. As she iss tepping through the door, she notices the manual control panel on the wall of the lift.

    There, clearly marked at the bottom of the control, is a button for deck 13.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • amurorx0amurorx0 Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    Responding to an urgent distress call from the Alteisen Riese, the Aquarion is hurling itself through the Alpha quadrant to reach the Alteisen Riese's last known position. The message reads "I found a lead..."

    "The Riese is coming up on long range sensors now, cap'n" Ensign McPhail chirped over his shoulder, "She's DIS. Reading full crew complement -1. No sign of Cagalli sir."

    "So I see..." I replied to him, looking at the readings on my own monitor, "What is that object off the Riese's port bow?"

    "Looks like a ship sir... Wait, it's giving off a transponder signal! Federation, Constitution class..." The ensign quietly uttered a profanity under his breath "It can't be..."

    "It can't be what?!" I scowled at him, in the hopes he would get to the crux of his point.

    "According to this signal, that ship out there... is the U.S.S. Horizon. Lost 5 years ago during a drive experiment, all hands evacuated." The ensign slumped in his chair.

    "Why is that so special?" I asked, unaware of the significance of this particular dead ship.

    "Amuro, the Horizon was Cagalli's first command. She tried to recreate the drive system that brought here here in the first place, but they lost control of the ship, and had to abandon. She hasn't been seen since."

    "Also, the quantum signature of the hull is inaccurate. According to these readings, that ship is 3 years younger than it should be."

    "Bring us out of warp in transporter range of both ships! Begin a deep scan of the Horizon, and sweep for Cagalli's lifesigns for a 200,000km radius. I want repair teams on the Riese in 5 minutes. I'll be beaming to the Horizon in 6. Move people!" I ordered to the small crew on the bridge.

    I left the bridge, making my way down the narrow, low corridors towards the armoury, where the completed QEB was waiting. I spun left through the armoury doors, picking up the belt before I even came to a stop. A note slid off the belt, which I had written earlier to save me the trouble of reading the 900 page manual Cagalli had written. The note simply read "555".

    As I left the armoury, Zazhid blocked my path. "Why are you so intent on going alone?" Zazhid asked, frowning.

    "Because we only have one of these," I shrugged the shoulder I had slung the belt across, " and I've been itching to try it out, Zazh." I said, with a big smile on my face. I sidestepped around her, making my way towards the transporter room while fastening the belt around my waist, empty buckle facing forward.

    As I entered the transporter room, the intercom buzzed into life; "Cap'n, there must be some kind of interference coming from within the Horizon, as I can't get any readings from within Engineering, but there are 1000s of lifesigns lining every other inch of the ship, be careful out there." Geo said, concern lacing his monotonous tone.

    Zazhid looked at the armour cage, cursing Cagalli for creating the QEB. Before her lay the prototype armour Amuro was relying on: It's form is heavily angular, yet blocky, almost belying some sort of hidden potential. She remembered Cagalli saying the armour is a sealed unit, yet its outward appearance seemed to be in many hundreds of separate panels. Boxy gauntlets housed hidden sabre hilts, with two more on the back, suppressed under armour plate protecting two large vernier thrusters, which put the RCS thrusters on a peregrinne fighter to shame. Emblazoned on the shoulderpiece was the Starfleet emblem.
    The design of the helmet had Zazhid thinking 'This is soooo going to feed his ego... at least I can ridicule him for wearing a skirt from this.' as it took on a centurion quality; A solid, angular faceplate underneath a narrow, green-tinted visor. Large side panels partially covered the faceplate, while the top piece held a mohawk design with what could only be described as a large unicorn horn protruding from the crest area, a large panel line running along its length.

    Upon arrival aboard the Horizon, I noticed that I had not arrived where I should have, as I was in the middle of a corridor, instead of transporter room 3. Realising this, I pipped my hand to the commbadge and tried to hail the Aquarion... with no success.
    'Guess I'm on my own.' I thought to myself, while pressing the only button on the QEB, I spoke clearly "Driver on."

    "Connecto, please." The belt announced as it responded to its activation command, materialising the driver a few inches above my now outstretched hand.

    "Time to see how the new suit fits" I chuckled while entering the code. 5.5.5.Enter.

    "Standing by." The driver droned in that annoyingly snide tone.

    "Henshin!" I muttered into the device.

    I slotted the device into its cradle on the belt, swinging it down into its locked position, which was confirmed by the driver's droning "Complete."

    I gave a quick turn, widening my stance and ensuring I had the space Cagalli told me to keep between myself and... myself.

    The suit beamed in around me, through the quantum tunnel maintained between the belt and the armoury, enveloping my being. The sensation of having that open space then being sealed in such a confined space without moving was, unnerving, to say the least.

    "Awright there, bossman!" A cheery voice boomed into my ear.

    "Ow! who the frak are you?" I said, beginning my search for Cagalli.

    "I am the Master Assisstance Tactical Health Information System, you can call me M.A.T.H.I.S!" replied the eerily cheery voice.

    "Can you quiet down a bit? What are you for anyway?" I asked the voice in my ear, Mathis.

    "I'm here cos Cagalli knew yeh wouldnae read the manual aw the way thru. So ask me if yeh get stuck, k?"

    "Okay, I need to find her quick, got any advice for that?" I asked Mathis.

    "Sure do, engaging HUD sensor scanning in lifesign mode. Engaging lights!" A pair of light apertures open on the sideplates of the helmet, illuminating the bulkhead before me. It appears I beamed onto deck 13. "Unlucky for some." I chuckled.

    Aboard the Aquarion, Ensign McPhail entered the transporter room, almost in a trance. "I'm going aboard the Horizon."

    "No chance. Captains orders." The transporter officer tried to restrain the ensign, but Geo displayed inhuman strength, snapping the transporter officer's neck with one hand, engaging the transporter with the other.

    "A-ro!" The comms fizzled into life, albeit heavily distorted. "Rick-ead--hail---zon----rous"

    Just as quickly as they had fizzled into life, the line went dead again, as the lights aboard the Horizon switched on.

    "Who's out there?!" I cried out, spooked. "Mathis, what non-lethal options do I have?

    "Let's see... Two phasers, either side of your temples... and your fists. Wouldn't recommend headbutts." Mathis replied, in that same obnoxiously cheery tone.

    "Why not?" I asked.

    "You have a whacking great horn, numnuts!" Mathis retorted.

    "Any sign of Cagalli?"

    "50 yards ahead. It seems that someone has beamed in behind us."

    "Any idea who?"

    "An ensign McPhail, according to my databanks."

    "Thanks. OI ENSIGN! BEAM BACK! WE ARE GOING HOME!" I bellowed out.

    "I am home." Geo said, stepping backwards into the darkness.

    "That ain't good... Time to grab Cagalli and go!" I yammered to myself... and Mathis. "Got any tricks for beaming us back in a hurry?"

    "A few, but some interference is preventing them all from working... its affecting the quantum tunnel also, preventing me from accessing more equipment. We're on our own, I'm afraid."

    "Great. Just... great" I sighed, fogging up the visor for a few seconds. "Let's get to the bridge, see if we can get something out of the computer."

    I stooped over Cagalli, accidentally poking her temple with my new horn.

    "Owwwww..." Cagalli moaned, slowly stirring back into the land of the living.

    "Wake up, sleepy head." I said, while Mathis shut off the lights in the suit.

    "You shouldn't have come." Cagalli said, her voice completely flat.

    "Whaddaya mean? I got your SOS" I said to her, the cogs in my head starting to turn.

    "I never sent any SOS... I beamed over here alone to scuttle this ship..."

    We spent an hour discussing the events of the preceding few hours, then came to the conclusion that someone on my ship wanted aboard the Horizon.

    "..ck! You mean this ship... is alive?!" I asked, flabbergasted.

    "Yup, and it looks like the last person I wanted anywhere near this ship is now aboard." Cagalli let out a sigh. "Mathis, be a sweetie and hack the intercom"

    "You got it, lady!... Aaaaand open!" Mathis cheered.

    "Geo, we are leaving right now! where are you?!" I barked over the TRIBBLE line.

    "I'm on the bridge, but you can't leave... She won't let you." Geo said, before the line fizzled out.

    A loud roar filled the corridors, as the engines blasted into life.

    "Is that what I think it is?!" I roared to Mathis.

    "This ship will leave this plane of space in 35 seconds, only option is engaging protocol AMF. This will likely cause Cagalli to expire." Mathis was still in that damned cheery mood.

    I turned to Cagalli, and she may have shouted to me, but I could'nt hear her. All I saw was her mouthing "Do it."

    "Aww to hell with it. ALPHA. MIKE. FOXTROT!"

    "Exceed charge." boomed the driver.

    The rest was a blur...

    A loud ringing in my ears, followed by a sharp jolt, roused me from my stupor.

    "Anyone get the registry of that dreadnought?" I asked, feeling groggy.

    "Nope, but I activated the distress beacon after breaching the hull, luckily it was picked up before Cagalli succumbed to the vacuum." Mathis cheered.

    "Get me out of this armour." I growled to Mathis.

    "Okay, disengaging locks, opening hatch, just remove the driver from the belt and the suit will be beamed back to the armoury. I detect no anomalies in the quantum tunnel effect." Mathis said, for once in a more normal tone.

    I pulled the driver from the belt, holding still while the suit beamed away. I then turned to Kyosuke, who was tending to the unconscious Cagalli, sprawled across the floor of the shuttle.

    "She has minor freezerburn injuries to her face and hands. She'll be fine in a few days. Now, let's get a look at you now that armour is off."

    "I'm fine doc, I just don't know how we escaped, or how long we were in vacuum." I said, rubbing the back of my head.

    "Well, we received a video recording from you at the same time the beacon began transmitting. I have it ready on the monitor over there."

    "Thanks, Kyosuke. Time to fill in the blanks." I staggered over to the monitor, slumping into the chair before beginning playback.

    I couldn't believe what I saw.

    "FOXTROT!"

    The armour began emitting radiation, while every panel seemed to split open, revealing a layer which was glowing in a blazing hue of red, almost as if alight. The radiation converged on the horn, which seemed to be the focal point of a shaped magnetic field.

    Next thing I see is myself charging at the bulkhead, propulsion having been taken over by the verniers, I burst through bulkhead after bulkhead, Cagalli held tight in my arms.

    I see the blazing form burst through the exterior hull of the Horizon, Cagalli following moments before the ship simply vanished.


    "The recording ends there. You were out there for five minutes before we could get the shuttle launched. I pulled you both in myself. That was an hour ago."

    "Ah well. Bear this in mind. If that ship appears again, destroy it on sight." I said to Kyosuke. "Now, I think it's time for some rest, and a write up of the first field trial of the QEB."

    "That sounds like a good idea. Let's do it over a drink eh." A highly groggy Cagalli mumbled, before rolling over and returning to her state of natural stasis.

    "Sweet dreams, lady." I said before drifting off to sleep myself.
    Ikuzo, Trombe!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    Captains's Log - Stardate 90606.63

    I've received reports since the Solaris launched of various events occurring on Deck 13, from missing items found days later in odd or bizarre places, to - quite simply - ghost sightings. As all the reports have been benign in nature, I dismissed them as exactly what they were - benign.

    I'm not a superstitious person or Captain, but some of the details in the reports would raise eyebrows. Some of the non-resolved reports look like they will never find closure. On a hunch, I decided to do some research:

    The Solaris is a new ship and I have been graced with being his first commander. As a side note, that may explain the altercation I experienced with Captain Tammuz in Club 47 when I had to surrender the blasted hulk of my beloved Galatea. Regardless, the ship's design is over a century old now, yet the Excelsior-class was conceived and constructed well enough to see their continued re-use and continuance. Sifting through the construction documentation, I chanced upon several accident reports.

    These are not unusual by themselves: starships are built in space and the number of reports was well within expected parameters for a ship this size. But if there is any anomaly it is that the majority of them occurred on Deck 13. And it gets more interesting if one were to go the distance: 13 accident reports were filed within 13 days, 1 per day, all happening on Deck 13. No other deck experienced this coincidence. If I were superstitious then I would wipe the sweat from my brow learning there were no fatalities building Solaris.

    Luck?

    Maybe.

    But that would make me superstitious.

    (sighs)

    I have yet to experience any shenanigans on Deck 13 but that doesn't mean anything. I gave this ship a shake-down as soon as I could so now it's time I had a walk-about.

    ---

    Deck 13 was slowly being evacuated. Kathryn ordered personnel to leave the deck when she met them in person and catalogued their name on her PADD she strapped around her torso. Each was told not to tell anyone else where they were going and if asked, then to fabricate some excuse that would sound like they were staying on Deck 13.

    The subterfuge was necessary because Kathryn was on the hunt for something on Deck 13. Her walk-about was fruitful in other ways: getting to “see” her ship in more detail and meeting more crew face-to-face for other than disciplinary or congenial reasons. This event gave her the idea to walk around the ship more often. But she’ll plan that later … she actually saw the “ghost” for a split second and was determined to catch it … so to speak.

    By now, Kathryn had bumped into twenty-three crew and six civilians. Deck 13's hallways had perceptibly less traffic since she started the hunt. She stopped at an intersection and slowly looked around the corner. I don’t believe in ghosts, she whispered for the hundredth time she realized. Was she trying to convince herself?

    But there it was: a humanoid figure, almost completely transparent except for a very faint distortion at the edges of itself. The apparition stood still … was it looking at her? One arm raised and seemed to be … scratching its head? Kathryn's eyebrow raised in that ever so Vulcan way she had seen so often. Its head seemed to turn to one side and Kathryn quickly ducked from view, hoping not to have been caught, if possible.

    Seconds ticked away and Kathryn realized she was holding her breath. The “ghost” turned the corner and bumped into Kathryn and she staggered in confusion. Looking around she barely noticed the apparition move past and down the hallway her back was facing.

    “Stop!” It was all Kathryn could think to say, but the form kept moving and she strained to see her ghost.

    She took off her PADD and threw it like a frisbee toward the ground at the ghost's feet, the strap flailing. The ghost was tangled and quickly fell to the ground. Kathryn's mind was whirling at what she was looking at: her PADD was dancing near the ground with a blurry blob moving around and within the straps. As Kathryn got closer the transparent blob stopped moving until a face appeared from within its form, startling Kathryn.

    “Lieutenant Harrington?!”

    The face blushed and sighed. “Captain. I can explain- “

    Kathryn crossed her arms and shifted her weight to one leg, angry and waiting.

    “Oh, right now, yes … you see, on my downtime I've been working on a side project, this stealth suit. I actually finished it several weeks ago while we were aboard the Galatea.” Christa Harrington pulled back the invisible cowl and her head looked as if disembodied and floating by magic. She was disentangling her feet as she spoke. Kathryn just watched.

    “Um … so I was just … uh-”

    “Having some fun,” Kathryn interrupted.

    Christa stood and handed the damaged PADD back to the Captain. “Yes, sir.”

    Accepting the PADD and looking it over, Kathryn said, “Does anyone else know about this suit?”

    “No, sir.”

    Kathryn stood looking at Harrington’s worried face for several seconds as she mulled her options, then settled on one. “Lieutenant, meet me in my ready room in one hour and bring all data on this project with you. But first, hide your … head … and sneak back to your room. Solaris’ ghost ends here, do you understand?”

    “Yes, Captain.”

    With that, Harrington's head slowly disappeared. Kathryn turned on her heels toward the turbolift with a smirk on her face.

    I knew I didn’t believe in ghosts.
  • squatsaucesquatsauce Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    Khas Ker'at peered through the dark, emerald leaves of some dense alien shrub. His faceted eyes gazed unblinkingly at the dark figures milling around in the clearing ahead. He had been pursuing them for almost an hour now and their twanging, hooting calls were growing maddening.

    With a jerky, almost mechanical motion, he raised his war banjo over his head and dashed into the clearing. His passage was a whisper. Before the quartet of dark-clad creatures could react, he was among them, slashing madly. His war banjo smashed aside a defensively-held guitar. With a delicate twist of his multi-jointed forelimb, he brought it back around, collapsing a trumpet that was aimed threateningly at his aural organs. It was a vicious, visceral few moments, but the hunt had reached its climax. This band of Mariachi had proven themselves to be crafty foes, but tonight he would stand victor...

    Khas grumbled at the chime that interrupted his reverie. "Computer, close hologram." He tapped his comm badge.

    "Yes?" The words were a simple acknowledgement, but the gravelly, rasping tone made it sound like a curse.

    "Commander, sorry to interrupt your weekly Mariachi hunt, but we've got a rather strange issue that requires your attention. I'll be waiting outside of turbolift 2 to brief you." The voice was that of his first officer, Lieutenant-Commander Shanda. She sounded worried and strained.

    "I will be there momentarily," Khas rumbled in reply. He carefully shed his sequined, florescent hunting jumpsuit, tucked it and his banjo neatly away, and slithered his two-point-two meter form back into his Uniform. With a disconsolate grumble he strode jerkily out the door and towards the turbolift.

    He greeted Lieutenant-Commander Shanda with an affable scowl and tilted his head thoughtfully at the two senior officers flanking her. Piper, his misanthropic chief engineer nodded in reply, metal pipe held easily in his calloused hand. Tarayl, a tiny, compact, muscular Trill woman with a shaved, head flashed him a bright, worrying smile. Khas acknowledged them in turn.

    "What is the situation?"

    Shanda frowned, her blue skin paler and more sickening to look upon than usual. "Sir, we've got some strange activity going on on deck thirteen. We've not informed the crew. I've had Piper fake a turbolift outage for the moment."

    Khas stared at her for a moment, blinking one eye, then the other. "We don't normally have a deck thirteen. If I recall correct, the Bride of Quiet only has ten." Khas' scowl deepened. "Unless you had one added as a joke."

    Piper cough and scratched at his beard. He was a blue humanoid, much like Shanda, and was was almost as irritable as Khas himself. "Not joking at all, Commander. I'm deadly serious and that deck is there. The lifts now have a button for deck thirteen. Power transfer's becoming more problematic, too, as this mystery deck seems to be feeding off of our power distribution system. I'm baffled and boggled."

    Almost on cue, the lights near the turbolift flickered. Khas took a moment to gaze around the corridor suspiciously. It was eerily quiet here. He turned to his Chief Science Officer Tarayl.

    "What's your take, Lieutenant?"

    "I've got a dozen explanations, but no idea what the truth of the matter is. I was the first to notice the problem so I took a bit of an exploratory jaunt. Tricorder readings were all over the place and the air cracked and sparked. It felt crowded, sir, like a few dozen eyes were watching me from all around. I got out in a hurry and let Piper know what's going on."

    Khas stroked the spikes of chitin that hung off his lower mandible and narrowed his gaze. "My intestinal reaction is that we are being toyed with by one of those horrible Q creatures. I wish to see this for myself. If it is their doing, they'll probably turn up to mock the captain specifically, as they are want to. Recommendations?"

    Shanda nodded quickly. "Yes. Don't go alone. There are...things...down there. Whispering. Lingering on the edge of sight. None of us were harmed yet but...well. Maybe you'll be able to figure out what's going on."

    "Very well." Khas took a few breaths, mulling over his next step. "In the best traditions of Starfleet, I have decided that the entire command structure of this vessel will accompany me into whatever dangerous, pan-dimensional time warp has manifested as deck thirteen."

    "Are you certain, sir?" asked Piper, his shaggy face-eye-fur arching in curiosity. "If we all, you know, die, then that will leave Crewman Lovegood the holodeck janitor in command of the ship. He's barely able to look the rest of the crew in the eye, let alone pilot a starship."

    Khas gave an awkwardly rehearsed shrug. "The difficulty of command will be nothing compared to the shameful effluvia he's encountered during the course of his grim duty. He will be able to get the Bride back to Bangor station should the worst occur. If there are no other objections, let us get on with this."

    His officers acknowledged his plan and shared a grim smile. They made their way into the turbolift as a group, moving with a professional ease. Khas scowled at the turbolift's control panel. Indeed, there was a button to deck 13, though it looked ill-placed and slightly askew. He gingerly tapped at the touch-panel button and the turbolift started to descend with a hum.

    As the lift descended into the lowest reaches of the tiny escort vessel, the officers all seemed to tense. Tarayl's smile grew more strained and predatory. Piper's fingers flexed around the meter-long length of engineering pipe he always carried. Shanda turned her back to the rest of the group, shaking lightly. Static started to play on the lift's intercom and Khas thought her heard his name being spoken quietly.

    Suddenly, there was a lurch as the turbolift shuddered. The lights cut out and the static piping through the intercom grew louder and louder. The last thing Khas had seen on the lift's display was deck 9. Tarayl started humming a dissonant, off-key song to herself and Piper was muttering furiously in the pitch blackness. Khas jerked back half a step as the lift's doors opened abruptly.

    The feeling was...oppressive. Khas could smell the pungent meat-stink of dozens of humanoid bodies and the corridor seemed to pack and crowded with unseen forms. There was a quiet susurration and, again, Khas was certain he could hear his name being spoken somewhere in the darkness.

    The moment seemed to last for an eternity.

    Without warning, the corridor lights lit up, blinding Khas. He blinked hard, trying to clear the bluish blurs that clouded his vision. Instinctively, he drew himself up to his full height his handless, secondary limbs extended from beneath his uniform jacket. He was ready to strike at any threat that appeared. Finally, his vision cleared and what he beheld was a scene of horror that sickened him to his very core.

    It was a large number of the ship's crew. They were gathered around a table that had been erected in the corridor. On the table was some sort of bread-slab covered in sugar-paste. They all smiled at him, their blunt simian teeth flashing white. "Surprise! Happy hatching day!" they cried in unison and started cheering and slapping their clumsy meat-paws together in applause. Some hopeful soul was even wearing a tiny pointy party hat.

    Khas turned slowly, to see Shanda still shaking, her laughter finally escaping her lips. He glanced to Piper, and then to Tarayl, his expression hard and stoney.

    "You will all pay for your treachery one day. But, for today, you will help me eat cake."
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    The deck shuddered, and Lieutenant Christina Bellesini glanced down at her console.

    "Captain, the warp field's destabilizing," she reported."We're entering the Lantaru sector."

    "Drop to impulse, and continue on our heading," replied Captain Amanda Palmer. "Yellow Alert."

    "Aye, Captain," acknowledged Bellesini, her fingers dancing across the helm. "Dropping out of warp, and maintaining heading at full impulse. Revised ETA at the outpost is now six hours."

    "As predicted," Palmer replied, making a notation on the console next to her command chair.

    "Yellow alert?" inquired Commander Rynar Lambert. "Captain, we're delivering medical supplies to a research colony, not entering the Neutral Zone to deploy troops."

    Palmer smiled, and turned toward her first officer, unconsciously brushing a strand of her black, shoulderlength hair behind her ear.

    "This is an unusual region of space, Ryan," she said. "The last time I was here, I was just an acting ensign aboard the Endeavour. We were returning from a diplomatic mission to Pentaxia, and had to cut across the outskirts of the Lantaru sector. There were some... unusual occurrences."

    "What kind of occurrences?" inquired Lambert with a raised eyebrow.

    Palmer folded one long leg over the other at the knee, and sat back in her command chair.

    "I suppose I have time to tell you," she replied.
    *****

    The turbolift drew to a stop, but the doors remained closed. Had she not caught herself in time, Palmer would have walked into them. Instead, she stepped back, scowling at the doors.

    "Computer, am I on deck thirteen?" she inquired, addressing the roof of the turbolift.

    "Confirmed," replied the computer's synthesized voice. "Acting ensign Amanda Palmer is currently located on deck thirteen, turboshaft beta."

    "Then why aren't the door-" the doors suddenly slid open, and fearing this may be her only chance, Palmer jumped quickly into the corridor, earning an amusingly distainful look from Ensign Lucy Bellingham.

    "Having fun there, Manda?" she inquired, her heavy lips drawn into an amused grin.

    "The doors wouldn't open," Palmer replied, falling into step with her roommate and lover, as they headed down the corridor.

    "I've just spent my duty shift in the Operations office," Bellingham said. "There've been system outages all over the deck since we entered the Lantaru sector. Replicators confusing orders, turbolifts being re-routed, fluctuations in the gravity net, all seriously wei-." she was cut off, as some unseen force pushed past, pushing the young women back against the corridor bulkheads. "Hey, an excuse me wouldn't..." she trailed off realizing the corridor was empty "...kill you..." she finished, somewhat redundantly.

    Regaining her footing, Palmer reached up and slapped her comm badge.

    "Palmer to bridge,"

    "Go ahead, Ensign," came the confident, assured voice of first officer Jedda Tobin.

    "Commander, Ensign Bellingham and myself just experienced an unusual phenomenon on deck thirteen," she reported. "Something seemed to push past us."

    "I'm getting reports of unusual activity all over the deck," Tobin replied. "If you experience anything else, report it, and I'll inform the captain."

    "Aye, Commander, Palmer out."

    "Wouldn't kill her to come down here herself," Bellingham muttered, fastidiously smoothing the front of her uniform jacket, as they continued towards their quarters.

    "You heard what she said, Lucy, other people are reporting in as well, we're hardly a priority."
    Bellingham snorted derisively.

    "Well if I was in her position, I'd want to check it- Oh for frak's sake!" she snapped as the door to their quarters refused to open.

    With a sigh, Palmer jammed her thumb against the control panal, and the doors sighed open. Bellingham entered first, then stopped and screamed.

    "What is-" Palmer stopped as she surveyed their quarters in mute horror. Every piece of furniture, every personal effect and ornament had been forced into a random pile in one corner. Bellingham turned, and tried to push Palmer backwards.

    "Let me out, letmeout, letmeout!" she screamed hysterically, forcing her way into the corridor, and pressing her back firmly against the bulkhead.

    Palmer slapped at her comm badge.

    "Palmer to bridge!"

    "Go ahead, Ensign," said Tobin's voice, a note of irritation clear in her tone.

    "I... I'm sorry to bother you, Commander, but could you send someone to my quarters please?"
    ***

    "Have you ever seen anything like it before, Captain?" Palmer asked five minutes later.

    Fleet Captain Marcus Kane shook his head.

    "Never," he replied, absently rubbing his beard and leaning casually against a bulkhead, as in the corridor, Counselor Nicola Devereaux attempted to restore Bellingham to some semblance of calm.

    Lieutenant Commander Roger Hunt and Lieutenant Anthony Polizzi were scrutinizing the suite of rooms, analyzing every millimeter.

    "What can you tell me, gentlemen?" Kane enquired.

    Hunt turned to face the captain, the lights of the room glancing off the dark skin of his shaven head.

    "Internal sensors don't show any unauthorized presences on the deck. There are no residual thermal imprints nor DNA traces," the chief of security reported. "All I can tell you, Marc, is that no one broke into the girls' room and did this."

    "Tony, can you add anything to that?" asked Kane as all the lights in the room went out.
    Light from the corridor and the stars prevented total darkness, and Polizzi shrugged as he holstered his tricorder.

    "Hard to say, Captain," he replied. "We're in an unusual area of space, there're subspace ruptures for lightyears, who knows what emissions may be coming from them which we're simply incapable of detecting."

    BANG

    The echo from the bulkhead made Polizzi pause, but he then continued. "What I can tell you, is that the room is partially saturated with huon particles, there are micro fluctuations in the gravity net and there's a massive drain in the EPS waveguides. The lights in the room are actually on, they're just not receiving any power."

    Kane raised an eyebrow, and folded his arms across his chest.

    "Where're the huon particles coming from?"

    "According to my scan, they're coming from directly below us. To be precise, the main cargo bay, and the Doctor's... vehicle," replied the strategic operations officer.

    "Huon particles shouldn't interfere with the ship's systems like this," Kane muttered. "They can be toxic given long enough exposure, but I doubt the Doctor will be on board for the six months required for exposure to become a danger."

    BANG BANG

    "Is there anyway that these systems outages could affect the crew biologically?"

    "I'm not sure, Captain," Polizzi admitted. "I really wouldn't like to say. Have you noticed any effects?"

    "I did have a rather unusual dream prior to coming on duty," Kane admitted. "But I don't see how that could be linked to..." He paused, and indicated the pile of furniture with a gesture. "Well, to this..."

    "I don't mean to eavesdrop, Captain," said Devereaux, entering the suite. "But I couldn't help but overhear. Could you share the details of your dream?"

    "It was more a memory than a dream," Kane said, turning to face the counselor. "I recalled the events leading up to my sister's death, over twenty years ago."

    "She committed suicide, didn't she?" enquired Deveraux.

    "Accidentally," Kane snapped, before holding his hands up. "I'm sorry, Counselor, this is a difficult subject for me, my sister and I... We were very close..."

    BANG

    "I understand, Captain, but maybe if you could go into detail?" Devereaux probed, her dark brows drawing together beneath her mass of curly blonde hair. Sensing the change in tone of the conversation, Polizzi discretely walked over to Hunt, where they began to confer on their findings.

    "We'd gone to the Pyramid Club in San Francisco for dinner," Kane began. "After a while, we went back to my apartment and retired for the night."

    Devereaux's eyebrows raised and her cerulean eyes became wide.

    "We were identical twins, we had shared a bed since childhood," Kane interjected quickly. "It was a habit we never grew out of, even as adults."

    "I'm not judging you, Captain," Devereaux replied softly. "Go on."

    "Well, we'd retired for the night, and that was when I told Alix what had happened to me. How I had been killed during the test flight, but resurrected as an immortal. She immediately grasped that the Lazarus gene was a part of my, a part of our genetic makeup, and before I could stop her, she picked up a phaser and shot herself in the head. She was dead before the phaser hit the floor."

    Devereaux opened her mouth to say something, but no words came out.

    BANG

    A small object fell from the pile, hitting the deck by Palmer's feet. Kneeling, she picked it up, and silently passed it to Kane.

    Taking it, he saw it was a smooth pebble, which had been engraved with a word. He tilted it toward the light so he could read it.

    Love

    BANG

    As he closed his fingers round the pebble, Kane's eyes closed, and he sighed.

    "Ali..."

    BANG

    Opening his eyes, he turned to Polizzi.

    "Tony, what's causing that noise?"

    "I have no idea, Captain," Polizzi replied. "There's no unusual internal pressure on the bulkheads, nor any external impacts."

    "You're probably going to think I'm crazy for even mentioning this, Marc," Hunt said. "But before she died on Pentaxia, Cameron thought she saw Alix. She spoke as if she saw her."

    BANG

    Kane nodded and looked down, deep in thought.

    "Yes, but I just put that down to some kind of hallucination, a neurological misfiring as her body shut down..."

    BANG BANG

    "Captain," said Polizzi. "While we were searching for you and the Empress, Cameron said that you had crashed in an area where people frequently reported seeing the spirits of their loved ones while on spiritual retreats."

    BANG

    Kane looked up to face his officers.

    "What if she wasn't hallucinating..."

    BANG

    BANG BANG

    Realization suddenly dawned on Kane's youthful features, and he looked up as if addressing the ship's intercom.

    "Alix? Is that you?"

    BANG

    "Did Mama like it on Vulcan?"

    BANG BANG

    "That's true. When we were ten, she died the weekend before we were due to relocate," he said, turning to Hunt.

    "What do you think, Roger, one for yes, two for no?"

    BANG

    "I guess that settles that," Hunt muttered. "How many people are in this room?"

    BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG

    From the corridor, Bellingham screamed, and fled. Kane turned to Devereaux.

    "Go after her, calm her down. Take her to sickbay for a sedative if you have to," he said.

    "Captain, I really think I should be here for this communication..."

    "That's an order, Counselor," Kane insisted. "I had conversations with my sister for twenty eight years, I don't think I'll need any supervision now..."

    BANG BANG

    "Aye, Captain," Devereaux conceded, before leaving the suite.

    "How many people do you see now?" Kane asked, once more folding his arms across his chest, and unconsciously stroking his beard.

    BANG BANG BANG BANG

    "How many do you know personally?" Polizzi enquired.

    BANG BANG

    Kane nodded.

    "Alix met Roger when we were on leave from the Academy," he explained, turning to Polizzi. "How is this possible, Tony? What do your scans show?"

    Polizzi drew his tricorder, and began running more scans, pushing the device to the limits of its capabilities.

    "It's the huon particles, from the cargo bay, Captain. They're not only interacting with the subspace ruptures, but causing a kind of sympathetic harmonic resonance with the bioelectrical field of your body," he reported.

    "Which is considerably more... energetic than Human norms," Kane realized. "Am I acting like some kind of, I don't know, genetic magnet?"

    BANG

    "Actually more like a tuning fork resonating at a specific frequency," Polizzi clarified.

    "Marc, I've had an idea," Hunt said. "I've just done some research, and apparently during the late twentieth, and early twenty first centuries, paranormal investigators used a tool called a franks box to try and communicate with spirits. I can modify my tricorder to behave in the same manner, emitting phonetic elements which could form words."

    "Do it," Kane said. Moments later, a stream of incomprehensible word fragments began to emanate from the tricorder, which Hunt put on the deck, well away from any of the officers.

    "Ali, is that really you?" he asked.

    yes baby

    "Were you really present when Cameron was killed?"

    I'm always with you. she was so pretty, mama would have loved her

    "Are Mama and Cameron with you now? Can I talk to her too?"

    no darling, there's only me here

    "If that is you, Ali, tell me something only I would know," Kane insisted.

    you were the first, the last and the only person I kissed

    "Why did you do it?"

    because I was always in love with you Polo

    Kane closed his eyes. To hear the nickname only his sister called him put a lump in his throat, and his chest felt tight. He shook his head.

    "I know that, I always loved you too. Why did you shoot yourself? Did you think you would become immortal too?"

    that didn't quite go to plan, did it

    Despite himself, Kane was unable to not be amused by Alix's sarcastic humor.

    "What happened?"

    my mind was transposed, shifted here

    "Where are you?"

    a place of pure thought a place of energy a place of the mind

    "Do you mean subspace?"

    I don't know, maybe

    "That's not possible," Hunt interrupted. "There is no subspace in this region. That's why ships can't travel at warp."

    all I know is everything and everyone looks blue

    Without remembering having sat down, Kane found himself sitting on the deck, and turned to Polizzi.

    "Is it possible that the phaser beam somehow altered the phase of her neural patterns, shifting them to a layer of subspace we don't yet know about, or even a different temporal phase?"

    Polizzi shrugged.

    "I'm a strategic tactical officer, not a theologian or a physicist, Captain. I'm really not qualified to answer that question, but maybe some quirk of your sisters biology... A coincidental resonance frequency maybe... I really can't say, but it would certainly appear so."

    Closing his eyes again, Kane visualized Alix as he had last seen her: Long, slightly wavy dark hair cascading onto her shoulders. Her slate grey eyes, and straight, elegant nose, just like his own, and her full lips quirking as if contemplating a joke which only she understood.

    "I'm so sorry, Ali," he murmured, tears rolling down his cheeks. "I should never have told you."

    we never had secrets did we, you were right to tell me, it was my choice to make

    "But you're dead," he replied. "And now I have to spend eternity without you..."

    I would rather be a ghost drifting at your side as a condemned soul than enter heaven without you

    Even the years of training at the side of a Vulcan Master were unable to contain a hurt this profound, and he broke down completely, great hacking sobs shredding his soul. He felt a firm hand upon his shoulder, then slender arms wrapping beneath his own, and a small, firm bust and cheek pressing against his back and neck. He smelled Hunt's cologne and Palmer's perfume. His best friend since his first day at the Academy, and his beautiful young protege: His closest friends comforting him as he grieved anew.

    because of your love I will never be a lonely spirit
    *****

    Bellesini wiped the tears from her eyes with the backs of her hands.

    Lieutenant Brandon Mayer leaned forwards against the Ops console, an astonished frown on his handsome face.

    "That's quite a story, Captain," he said, pulling his hand through his dark blonde hair.

    Palmer turned in her chair to face Mayer, her lips pursed in amusement.

    "Is that so, Lieutenant?" she asked wryly.

    Mayer opened his mouth to speak, mindful to choose his words carefully.

    BANG
    909d7cda93335d83bb43d3459b4dfcd5_zpsayiqcsfi.jpg
  • shevetshevet Member Posts: 1,641 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    Personal log: Tylha Shohl, officer commanding USS King Estmere NCC-92986

    "We don't even have a deck thirteen," I say crossly. The internal layout of the Tholian Recluse carrier is a complex tangle, artificial gravity pointing in whatever direction the builders felt convenient... we've marked it out into zones and sections, but conventional numbered decks are out of the question. Nyrik, sitting across the desk from me, looks as embarrassed as a Romulan can.

    "It's - a term I have heard used, for that particular sector," he says uneasily. "I thought - I thought it official. The humans use it all the time, I know that much."

    Nyrik is a civilian contractor, sent as a goodwill gesture from New Romulus; he is a thin, nervy-looking type, and just now he looks more nervous than usual. I suppose I can understand that. Here he is, aboard an alien ship, in the heart of the Federation - his people's traditional enemy - and I have to expect him to be stressed. But I also need the new modifications to my ship completed, and there are only so many allowances I can make. King Estmere has been in drydock in Earth orbit for nearly a month, now, and I need to be back on the front lines. Which means I need the reason why Nyrik's installation of the new fire control runs is taking so damned long.

    "It's certainly not official," I say. "But never mind that. What's the problem with that area?"

    "It is...." Nyrik looks even more uneasy. "It is... hard to explain. It is a matter of, of feeling. I am not the only person who... feels something.... And it is worse when I am alone in the fire control substation, and often I am alone, because that part of the ship is - is - is avoided." His voice is growing louder, and there's a high edge to it that I don't like.

    "A feeling," I say, for the sake of saying something. "What sort of a feeling? - oh, never mind," I add, as he starts to look even more uncomfortable. "Computer. Cultural cross reference, human culture and the term 'deck thirteen'."

    "Working," says the computer primly. "No specific reference to 'deck thirteen'. The number thirteen, in some human cultures, is held to be unlucky or ill-omened; buildings or floors of buildings may sometimes be re-designated to avoid using it. Cross references available with regard to Earth religion, Earth superstition, Earth pseudo-science, Earth timekeeping -"

    "Stop," I order it. It will give me cross references all day, otherwise. I look hard at Nyrik. "Earth superstition? You're a Romulan, you shouldn't put any stock in -"

    "I am a Romulan," Nyrik snaps at me, his face flushing dark olive with anger. Well, it's better than nerves. "I was a Subcommander Engineer before the loss of the homeworld, I have seen military service, I have seen action, and my fears are not groundless, Vice Admiral. If I say I have felt things in that place, then there is something there."

    "But you can't say what," I say. I consider for a moment. "All right," I say. "When's your next scheduled shift in that substation?"

    "0300 hours," Nyrik says. "The place will be... deserted. And yet there will be sounds that I cannot account for, and the computers will behave... oddly." His voice rises. "I suppose you intend to tell me that there will be nothing there to be scared of?"

    "On the contrary," I say. "I'll be there."

    ---

    "This is a lot of nonsense," Commander Lolha almost snarls. She gets up from her chair and stamps irritably around the main console. The rest of us watch her, all but Nyrik, who is absorbed in his work.

    The fire control substation is a flattened, elongated cuboctahedron in shape; as with the bridge, the artificial gravity has been set to make its ceiling another floor. Most of it is empty space; in combat situations, it will be filled with photonic constructs, guidance and control systems for King Estmere's forward torpedoes. The Tholian thermionic torps have been removed, useful though they were, and now a whole new set of control runs is taking shape, to handle the more powerful Romulan hyper-plasma weapons. The fruits of our technology exchange with New Romulus... and I am itching to try them out, to give some Tal Shiar battleship a sharp taste of its own medicine.

    Right now, though, my ship is in confusion, new systems being installed, old ones ripped out.... The unreplicateable components of the Aegis systems are on their way, now, across fifteen kilometres of space to the adjacent dry dock. Where they will be built into my other current command, formerly a Chel Grett cruiser and a mainstay of the Breen Confederacy, now the USS Bleak Midwinter. And it would be good to have one of those vessels in working order.

    "I confess," Sirip says with cool Vulcan equanimity, "I do not see the necessity for our presence here."

    "I want to find out what's going on," I say. "And the assault groups are all kicking their heels while the ship is in drydock, so you're best placed to make yourselves useful. Besides, this way I have a good range of different - viewpoints."

    "Viewpoints, sir?" says Sirip.

    "You and Nyrik are both Vulcanoids, with above average psi potential - if there's anything of that kind going on, you have a good chance to detect it. As an Andorian, and therefore the only one here who's not one-third blind, I can keep a sharp watch on any... conventional... sounds or movements. Lolha, as a Tellarite, is probably least likely to be influenced by anything, well, fanciful -"

    "You got that right, at least," growls Lolha. "And two humans? Why two?"

    "Dr. Beresford, because I want medical help and medical opinions on hand right away," I say, "and Commander Kleefisch because it seems to be human gossip that got these damn rumours started."

    Soledad Kleefisch looks at me with a rueful expression. Like Lolha, she's a relatively new addition to King Estmere's senior staff, and I've not had time to get to know her well. She is slim and wiry, with dark hair and the light-brown skin which denotes a mixture of human ethnic groups. "I'll try to make up for it, sir," she says, drily. Her voice is low and almost musical in tone.

    "A lot of nonsense," Lolha repeats.

    Nyrik looks up from his work. "No," he says, quietly but firmly. "I wish it were so, but there is quite definitely a presence here."

    "I am not aware of anything," Sirip says.

    I look around, take a deep breath, feel the currents of the air with my antennae. It is strange, here... but only the now-familiar weirdness of the Tholian ship. There is the vague distant thrumming of the electro-plasma system, the faint sigh of the air conditioning... somewhere, not too far off, the sound of footsteps on the metal deck.... The lighting is low, subdued, warm-hued; the Tholian panels and data stalagmites glow with golden light. Nyrik touches a control crystal, studies the results on a panel, frowns. "This is..." he makes a vague gesture at the panel. "This is one of the things I mentioned, Vice Admiral. Every so often, the panel flickers, with something else on it - data overlays that I have not requested; there for a moment, then gone. I have run all the standard diagnostics."

    I frown, too. What that suggests to me is a long-dormant virus program; some piece of Tholian info-warfare directed against anyone who might take one of their ships. Bleak Midwinter's computers are being swept molecule by molecule for similar tricks - because we know the Breen will try something like that. Has King Estmere been checked just as thoroughly?

    "So that's it," Lolha says with a derisive snort. "A few simple computer glitches, and it gets talked up into - into stupid human spook stories."

    "Do Tellarites have no ghost stories?" Soledad asks. She turns to look at me. "Or Andorians?"

    "We have them," I say, almost reluctant to talk about them, here and now. "I remember, from my childhood, hearing about things like roof-knockers and storm dancers...."

    "Oh," says Samantha Beresford. "Now, I've heard those terms, on Andoria, but no one ever explained them to me - can you?"

    I shrug, and it helps to dispel my vague feeling of unease. "Folk tales," I say. "Roof-knockers... when someone dies, out on the surface, sometimes they come back to their home tunnel and knock on the door, or the roof, asking to be let back in. Sometimes it's just because they don't realise they're dead - sometimes it's for revenge, or desire, or some strong motive. Storm dancers, now, they are spirits that live in the blizzards, they lure people away to dance with them, and those people never come back...."

    "Interesting," says Samantha. "Of course, hypothermia in humans can lead to all sorts of aberrant behaviour - paradoxical undressing, for instance, where sufferers actually take off the clothes that are keeping them warm. I suppose cultures from cold climates on Earth have similar legends - I can think of some."

    "There's always a rational explanation," Lolha sniffs.

    "Of course," says Soledad in that musical voice. "But is the rational explanation always the right one?"

    "It would seem logical," says Sirip drily. Soledad turns her dark eyes onto him.

    "Yet your culture," she says, "knows about survival after the body's death. Your katra -"

    "The personality matrix of the katra," Sirip says, "is a well-known and documented reality. The katra is, therefore, almost by definition, not a ghost."

    "Well-known and documented," says Soledad, "but I notice you do not say it is fully understood."

    "Oh, spare me your human mysticism." Lolha rolls her eyes theatrically.

    "So are there Tellarite ghost stories?" I ask.

    "We... have some," Lolha admits, gracelessly. "But they're just stories, everyone knows that. Stories about, say, a grudge between two families, and one side keeps it up even after they're all dead.... Fanciful nonsense, nothing more." She turns a glare on Sirip. "We're sensible people - so sensible, in fact, some Vulcans didn't even believe we had souls at all."

    "My culture is not immune to errors," Sirip replies with infuriating placidity.

    I turn to ask Nyrik about Romulan ghosts, but he is absorbed in his work. Well, at least the argument seems to be keeping his mind off his troubles. "Not immune to errors, yes," says Lolha, "in the same way that a black hole is not immune to gravity!"

    "Is it cold in here?" Samantha asks, perhaps just trying to change the subject.

    "I think so," says Soledad.

    "The ambient temperature remains constant at 292 Kelvin," Sirip says, consulting his tricorder. "Colder than I would wish it, but there has been no recent deviation."

    "This is also something that happens," Nyrik speaks up. "A sudden feeling of chill. It passes... usually."

    I frown. Data glitches are one thing, but environmental changes - or imagined ones - are something else. The air doesn't feel cold to me... but, of course, it wouldn't. "Take another scan," I order Sirip; and then, over the warble of his tricorder, I hear something else. A faint sound, something like a rustle, something like a slither. My antennae stiffen on my head, quivering, searching the air.

    The sound came from above. I look up, at the floor/ceiling over our heads. My eyes narrow: there is something there, among the consoles and the EPS relays, that wasn't there before... or, maybe, I just hadn't noticed it before. Something black and shapeless, beside one console. "Wait a moment," I say. "There's something.... I'm going to take a look."

    I run forward, up one slanting wall, do the now-familiar forward roll and feel my stomach lurch as gravity flips the wrong way around... and then I'm jogging across the ceiling, my crew's faces looking foolish as they gaze down at me from the floor. I dodge around a tangle of wiring, and I see the black thing, lying next to the console.

    "Now how did that get there?" I wonder aloud.

    It's nothing, really. It's just a shapeless heap of black cloth, coarsely woven, slightly shiny, frayed along its edges. Perhaps it is some sort of cover for the console, perhaps the noise I heard was just it slipping out of place, caught by some stray air current. I reach out to touch it... and I stop.

    I don't want to touch it. Something irrational, intuitive, in the back of my mind is saying not to - and, suddenly, I am afraid, and I don't know why. Perhaps if I touch it, I will feel something unwholesome, something loathsome. Perhaps, if I touch it, it will somehow move again, slithering suddenly away from me - or, worse, towards me....

    This is ridiculous, I tell myself. Get a grip, Tylha. I reach out.

    Then I hear Samantha Beresford shriek, "Tylha!"

    ---

    The cloth thing can wait; I sprint across the ceiling, back down the wall, and am at the doctor's side in seconds. The others are standing, confused and alarmed, looking in all directions. Sirip and Lolha both have phasers drawn. Samantha's face is quite pale.

    "I saw something -" She stops talking, shakes her head. "I'm sorry. I don't know - what it was -"

    "I saw nothing," says Sirip. "I was watching Vice Admiral Shohl, of course."

    "So was I," says Samantha, "but then I saw something out of the corner of my eye, and I turned to look." She points. "Over there. It was just behind Nyrik - just for an instant. And then it was gone. I'm sorry. I was more startled than anything else, I think."

    "Unfortunate," Sirip observes, "that no one is in a position to corroborate your observation, Doctor."

    Samantha positively glares at him. "I'm not an idiot," she snaps, and pulls her data monocle off her face. "I have this set to visual record," she continues, holding it out to him. "Play it back and you can damn well see what I saw!"

    I touch her shoulder. "Put the replay on a PADD," I tell her, "and we can all take a look at it."

    Samantha looks at me and seems to pull herself together. "Yes, of course," she says. "Good idea... just a moment."

    Her fingers tremble a little as she sets up the interface. While she's doing that, I look up at the ceiling. It's my turn to feel uneasy; the black cloth isn't there any more. "Did you see that?" I ask Soledad in a low voice.

    "See what?"

    "Never mind," I say. I should have worn a recording device myself, I think.

    Samantha has the PADD ready; she taps the screen and the playback starts. I see myself walk along the ceiling - and the black cloth is there, then, there is no doubt about it - and then there is a flicker of light at the edge of the screen; Samantha's point of view whips round, dizzyingly fast in the replay, and we see it.

    For a fraction of a second, just behind Nyrik, something emerges out of thin air; something that glows, that reaches out in all directions with tentacles of flame and smoke; something with a crouching, hungry, expectant air. It's only there for an instant - 0.31 of a second, Sirip tells us all helpfully - but it's quite definitely there.

    "Run it back and freeze-frame it," I order.

    It takes a little trial and error - Samantha's fingers are still shaking - but we have our picture, eventually. The glowing thing crouches, frozen, in its brief moment of existence. I look at the red-gold glow, the sparkles and flashes and jagged lines of it....

    "Well," I say, "I think I've got our next angle of approach."

    "Sir?" says Sirip. He actually sounds surprised. Good.

    "Is it something you recognize?" Soledad Kleefisch asks.

    "Not really," I say, "but it - sort of suggests something. Something, actually, we should have thought of." I grin. "We were talking about ghosts in our own cultures - Andorian ghosts, Tellarite ghosts - when we should have been thinking about the sort of ghosts we're most likely to find here."

    Lolha starts to expostulate, but Samantha cuts her off with a "What do you mean, sir?"

    "Tholian ghosts."

    ---

    <There is no trace of Tholian computer viruses or other infowarfare attacks>, Lieutenant Dlyrene assures me in its emotionless artificial voice.

    It's mid-afternoon, and we are in King Estmere's main computer room, the Tholian warfare specialist lying with its limbs extended over the central console, foreclaws caressing the control crystals, coloured fire shimmering on its crystal carapace. Not for the first time, I wish the Tholians were easier to read. Those flows of light and colour must mean something, must give some clue to the creature's interior emotional state... but it's not something I, or any humanoid, can decipher.

    "We saw something very strange in the fire control substation," I explain. "It's - Lieutenant, are there ghost stories among your people?"

    Dlyrene is suddenly completely still; colours churn and surge inside it, but its body is motionless. After a moment, it says <If I understand you correctly, Vice Admiral, I believe the answer is yes - in a way.>

    "Can you explain?"

    <I will try>, Dlyrene says. <Because Tholian consciousness subsists in high-energy electroplasma, there is a more direct interface between ourselves and our technology. We are not - I think the word for it is 'cyborgs' - nor do we form a collective mentality like that of the Borg, but we are - connected - in ways which your species is not. Aspects of memory, and even of personality, can be stored, shared, distributed. You may have heard some of us speak of the Lattice?>

    "Yes," I say, doubtfully. "I've never clearly understood if it's a technological thing, or a religious one."

    <It is both, and neither. It is the sum of the connected Tholian race, the architecture in which our memories live and are preserved. It is believed that the greatest of our species - the finest minds, the deepest and noblest thinkers - whether their physical bodies are functional or not, still live within the Lattice, guiding and shaping the minds of the rest of the Tholian race.> Dlyrene's foreclaws clash sharply together. <Sometimes there is dissension within the Lattice - but that is not of significance here.>

    It might be my best glimpse yet, though, into the arcane internal politics of the Tholian Assembly. I lean forward, questions on my lips, but Dlyrene continues.

    <It is possible, under traumatic circumstances, for memory or personality fragments to escape both the Lattice and the physical body. Any structure with compatible electroplasma formatting and sufficient storage capacity might - capture, I think, is the best word - a memory impression or personality engram from a dying Tholian and preserve it, in a sort of half-life.>

    The fire control substation is packed with photonic generators, almost up to the standard of a full-scale holodeck... and all Tholian circuitry, Tholian interfaces. "So... our ghost might be a sort of piece of a Tholian mind?"

    <Conceivably.>

    "Why has it only appeared recently, though?" These damned "deck thirteen" rumours can't be that old....

    <The personality fragment might have remained in a static condition until some changes to its local environment caused it to react>, says Dlyrene. <The recent installations of new equipment might have provided such a stimulus.> Dlyrene's foreclaws clack and clatter again; it seems agitated. <Vice Admiral, if this is the case, something must be done. The mind fragment must be in a state of such agony ->

    Dlyrene stops, abruptly. I think for a moment about a mind, a fraction of a mind, trapped in the fabric of the ship, maybe knowing it's dead, maybe not understanding... I think about that and shiver. "Is there anything we can do?" I ask.

    <Yes.> The whole bulk of Dlyrene's crystal body shifts in apparent unease. <Any Tholian should be able to interface with the mentality fragment and - and purge it. All that is needed is the correct interface. And the will.> Dlyrene shifts again. <I will need my EV suit. The force-field and photonic emitters which enable me to operate without it - also block my avenues of connection.>

    The networked emitters function like an old 23rd-century life support belt, letting the Tholians run around unencumbered in our environment... or so we'd thought, at least. "All right," I say. "You're offering to do this... this thing... yourself, then?"

    <I must>, Dlyrene says, <now that I know. It is an obligation, Vice Admiral. A duty.>

    It says nothing more, but I think I understand. Not all duties are welcome ones....

    ---

    "An exorcism," Samantha Beresford whispers to me. "Bell, book and Tholian EV suit." I don't understand the reference; I make a mental note to look it up later.

    We're in the fire control substation. Dlyrene is standing by the console, looking more than ever like some abstract sculpture inside his white EV suit. Nyrik is with us, to work the computer interfaces, and because his sensitivity may help us know if this - whatever it is - has worked. Samantha is here to provide whatever medical help she can, if something goes wrong. And I am here... because I have a terrible feeling one of my crew is about to put itself in danger, and I can't bring myself to look the other way while it does that.

    <Engaging comms interface>, says Dlyrene. The computer-generated voice is utterly unreadable. I look at Samantha: she shrugs. Nyrik is doing something with the Tholian control panels.

    I realize I am holding my breath; I exhale, slowly and carefully.

    Nothing moves in the substation. There are faint whirring, whining sounds from Dlyrene's EV suit. Samantha flips open her medical tricorder, and the trilling of that shatters the silence. "Everything seems normal," she says, but there's a doubtful tone to her voice.

    "There's a lot of data traffic on the interface," Nyrik reports.

    "I guess that's what we expect," I say.

    I don't know what I expect. Vengeful ghosts? Crazed Tholian holo-projections? Dlyrene's EV suit to come apart in a shower of ectoplasm? The Tholian stands immobile; opaque, impassive, uncommunicative.

    I look up at the ceiling. There's nothing there.

    "Neurological activity is elevated," Samantha reports.

    "Computer traffic is -" Nyrik frowns. "A sector just... reformatted itself. Several thousand kiloquads of data erased."

    "What was it?" I ask.

    "Unknown," says Nyrik. "Deleted files, erased some time ago... securely erased, in fact. There should have been nothing there but randomized bits...."

    "Neurological activity... falling back," says Samantha. "Declining... continuing to fall... Now stable. Within normal range."

    I have an obscurely frustrated feeling. A battle is going on... waged on a battlefield I have no way of seeing, with weapons beyond my understanding.

    Dlyrene moves.

    The EV suit shudders, skitters around on its long legs to face me. <The task is completed>, says the emotionless voice.

    "You did... whatever you had to do?"

    <There was a corrupted Tholian mentality fragment in the crystal substructure of the fire control computer. I have scanned and - > The voice seems to hunt for the right word < - reprocessed it. It is gone. Its suffering is ended. My duty is discharged.>

    "Thank you, Lieutenant," I say.

    "Yes, thank you," Nyrik adds with some feeling.

    <You may expect no further manifestations>, the Tholian says. <I must return to my quarters now. It is necessary for me to meditate for a time.>

    "Of course, Lieutenant."

    Dlyrene scuttles away, its thoughts still a mystery to me.

    ---

    Several things still bother me.

    What did the Tholian do, to dispose of the - fragment? Dlyrene said "reprocessed" - what does that mean? Did it read the thing like a computer file, re-order and expunge it like any other piece of data? Or... Dlyrene spoke of personality engrams being shared, minds merging to exchange memories and concepts... Did Dlyrene subsume that mind fragment into itself, assimilating it? Did the Tholian eat the ghost?

    And if it did... how much did that hurt it? To take in all the frustration and the pain of that lost fragment of a life?

    I can't stop thinking, though, of worse questions yet. When Dlyrene's mind met the fragment's, on that non-space battlefield of data transference... which of them was the stronger? Did Dlyrene eat the ghost, or did it eat Dlyrene?

    Would I ever know? The fragment would gain all Dlyrene's memories, all Dlyrene's personality traits... how could I know? I don't have the power even to see into a humanoid soul....

    But this abstract speculation isn't the thing that troubles me most. I found one of the other Tholians to talk to, later, and asked it about Tholian cloth.

    <Tholian spider silk is well known to the Federation>, it told me. <Textiles are not in common use in the Assembly, however; they serve little purpose to us.>

    "Tholian spider silk is... very fine, though," I said. "Is it ever made... coarse? And dyed black?"

    <I do not understand the question>, the Tholian said. <Silk can be coloured in a variety of ways. But there would be no purpose in making a coarse weave. At least, none that I can determine.>

    And that was where I left it.

    Of course, the substation has all that photonic equipment. And who knows how a broken Tholian mind-fragment might think? The temporary materialization of a length of coarse black cloth might just be a random product of a random thought. I can't find anything in the holoprojectors' logs to show that was how they were used - but any amount of data was changed or erased when Dlyrene interfaced with the computer, of course.

    A random manifestation of a defective mind, created using the photonic projectors. Sirip would certainly tell me that's the rational explanation.

    But is it the right one?
    8b6YIel.png?1
  • superhombre777superhombre777 Member Posts: 147 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    Ensign Maria Hernandez was preparing for a nice evening with her unofficial boyfriend. She was in the middle of changing her earrings when the red alert klaxon sounded. "Intruder alert. Repeat, intruder alert. Security teams prepare for immediate deployment."

    Immediately Lieutenant Commander Hillel's voice filled her bedroom. "Security team Delta, thirty seconds to transport to deck 13. The Odyssey detects four unknown beings. Teams Alpha and Gamma, report to the forward and aft turbolifts on deck 13. Gamma team, standby for orders. Hillel out."

    Maria felt something unusual on her left hand and realized that she'd stabbed herself with the earring. Now she had twenty-something seconds left to wire away the blood, change the skirt for pants, find some boots, and await transport to deck 13.
    ---

    Lieutenant Gordoninejad was transported to deck 13 five seconds before his team per standard protocol. He checked his phaser and watched as Hernandez, Smith, and ra'Chang materialized in front of him.

    The plan is to sweep forward to aft. "Hernandez, you are with me on the starboard side. Smith and ra'Chang, take the port side. Try and take the intruders alive if possible." With that, he turned towards the starboard hallway and examined his tricorder. "Nice shirt Ensign," he muttered under his breath.

    Maria looked down at the blood streak going across her white blouse. At least the pants and boots are regulation.
    ---

    "You can't be serious. We have five Doctor Herrington's onboard?" Captain Carter swept his hand over his bald head again, which was his usual nervous habit. This was shaping up to be the most confusing senior staff meeting in recent history.

    Security chief Hillel smiled and calmly responded. "Preliminary scans confirm that all five of them are genetically identical. Unfortunately they are not all mentally stable or morally balanced. Gamma team tore the entire deck apart and found the body of a sixth Herrington, along with Commander Perry. Perry was a mathematician, in case you didn't know."

    Carter ignored the comment. Of course I know my crew, he thought. "So we're still back to the first question - where did these replicates come from?"

    Chief Engineer Jarvis spoke up. "As you all know, Herrington was our resident technology expert and a pretty well-known theoretical physicist. While you all were speculating I was reading his list of projects, and I think I've figured it out.

    "His project called Optimizing Transporter Buffers seems pretty benign. Everyone has dreamed of the day when a matter transporter that fits in your hand can transport a runabout. Or at least that's what I'm hoping for. But I'd bet you that Herrington has been working on another breakthrough - the ability to clone living beings."

    Counselor sh'Raul spoke up. "Are you serious? Can you imagine the ethical issues that arise if you or me can be transported and re-materialized twice? We'd have clones everywhere. And who knows if they'd be identical - after all, I'm pretty sure that some of my best research proposals have been wiped from my memory by the transporter process."

    Jarvis stood up and straightened his uniform. "Transporters have been around for a long time, but we still can't duplicate life forms very well. There are all sorts of laws against even trying to do that, but more importantly, the problem is rooted in memory storage. Life-forms have ridiculously complex patterns. Our computers store the pattern and then re-materialize the pattern as soon as possible. That works fine because the pattern is never copied or transferred.

    "We copy files all the time on the main computer, but staff logs and classified intelligence reports are child's play compared to the pattern of a life form. Closely-guarded research has shown that even a small copy error can lead to some serious problems. Simple plants that are energized and then re-materialized into ten copies usually end up with two or three copies that don't resemble anything besides Ferengi pond scum. But Herrington seems to have made a technological breakthrough."

    Carter chimed in. "Ok, we have a working hypothesis that seems to match the evidence. I want to gather what additional evidence we can and put in a request for a court martial."

    First officer T'Panna smiled and asked, "which Doctor Herrington are we going to charge with murder?"

    "All of them," Jarvis replied. It makes sense that the original Herrington cloned himself, and the clone turned out to be mentally unstable. After murdering the original Herrington and Commander Perry, he continued to clone himself until Odyssey's sensors figured out something was wrong and sounded the intruder alert. One of them is a murderer, and the rest are probably just as insane."

    "I share your sentiment, but our laws don't work that way," Carter sighed.
    ---

    Four days later

    Captain Carter was in his quarters, enjoying some quality time after dinner with his first officer and secret lover, Commander T'Panna. They were just about ready to retreat to his bedroom when the door chime sounded...and sounded again...and again.

    Carter threw on a shirt and went to the door. Jarvis? "It's eleven at night. What is the matter?"

    Jarvis handed Carter a padd. "I thought you'd want to know that Herrington spent some time in Transporter Room Two four months ago when we stopped at Deep Space K-7. What's troubling is that Room One was out for maintenance, so all personnel beamed to and from K-7 from Room Two. It's highly likely that Herrington stored the patterns for everyone on board, including you, sir."

    "I'd ask you to come in, but I was just about ready to hit the bed. K-7 was before Section 31 hijacked the ship. Do you think that they could have got their hands on Herrington's research?"

    It's highly likely sir. I still haven't been able to remove all of their backdoors into our systems, even after four months. If they can thoroughly reprogram Odyssey's computers, it's safe to assume that they have Herrington's research - and the ability to clone anyone on board this ship."
  • keepcalmkeepcalm Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    "A ghost? You expect me to believe ... that?"
    Bracing herself for a blow that didn't come, the Orion engineer nodded.
    "Yes, Commander. There are no life signs in that area of the ship, no strange readings, but something on deck 13 has killed four crewmen."

    "Probably just the incompetence of this crew," the commander growled. With a long, reluctant hissing sigh, she rose, her tail lashing behind her as she stalked towards the turbolift. "But, fine. I shall go and see what is going on. Return to your post, engineer Villa, and tell your crews to fear nothing on this ship except for me."

    As she arrived on the desered deck, Rudiar growled quietly to herself. The alliance between her people and the Klingon Empire had certainly benefitted them, but some of these Klingon officers were just too incompetent to live. Literally, in several cases. There were no life signs down here, and none of the usual signs of an energy being annoying them. Most likely the crewmen had gotten drunk and killed themselves with their stupidity.

    Ten minutes later, Rudiar found herself reconsidering that assumption. She had seen nothing, but her ears and nose has been twitching constantly as muffled noises and indistinct scents tickled her senses. Either she had given in to the incompetence that plagued the KDF, or there was something down here. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on the smells, picking out the one oddity amongst the stench of Klingons and the musk of Orions, following the odd trail until it led her to a blank stretch of bulkhead.
    Releasing another growl, she turned to stalk back to the bridge and to leave this foolishness behind her.
    Ears twitching as the sounds around her changed, Rudiar had only a slight moment to prepare before a sudden blow to her head sent her staggering. Lashing out blindly, the Ferasan felt her claws striking something, a few drops of green staining the fur on her fingers.
    Ducking back instinctively, she felt the passage of something just in front of her face, a decaptitation strike that she had somehow managed to avoid.

    Hissing, she pounced forwards, feeling something falling beneath her as she clawed frantically at apparently empty air, ignoring answering blows to her face.
    Her claws catching on something, she pulled, part of a strange device appearing in her hand before a black and gray form appeared beneath her.
    With whatever it was that had been hiding it destroyed, the intruder registered on the ship's sensors.
    Grinning ferally, Rudiar shifted her weight, holding the interloper down, knowing that security teams would be here soon.

    The intruder was, of all things, a Reman. Female, and without the weathered look that the rest of her kind seemed to possess.

    Then Rudiar found herself flying backwards, struggling to come back to her feet as something flung her off the intruder.

    Telekinesis, she reminded herself, remembering the few times she had fought Remans before.
    Launching herself at the Reman again, Rudiar found an elbow in her face, followed by fists and feet in several sensitive spots.
    As the sounds of the inevitable security team reached Rudiar's ears, the Reman had picked herself back up. Puasing only to kick the Ferasan in the face one last time, the Reman pressed something on a small device, vanishing in a transporter beam.
    "The halfling way of battle is simple: You jump on their face and keep stabbing until the screaming stops."
  • mrdarksabremrdarksabre Member Posts: 39 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    The day had been like any other, a few reports, a small diplomatic problem or two, one of them being settled with no small degree of berating and shouting at the cause of the problem, and maybe one or two personal letters. Krovennan had been relaxing in the Mess Hall with his lunch when Drehera appeared, the fiery-haired Betazoid walked towards Krovennan, her visor glinting in the light. Krovennan had been reading over a report when he noticed the Chief Medical Officer in the corner of his eye.

    "Hello Drehera, is there anything to report?"

    "Actually sir, there is, there have been rumours circulating around the crew about problems on Deck 13."

    The Blacksabre-E, a modified Advanced Escort type vessel, had been filled with Vilscaran technology and design principles, including deck construction. Deck 13 was the bottom deck and contained little more than storage and a few quarters for lower-ranking crewmen. While not the best deck on the ship, there were never any real complaints about its condidtion until now.

    "Drehera, you know rumours are not the most reliable of sources, and you've heard a lot of them before and not had to bring them to me. What makes these rumours so different?"

    "May I sit with you sir? The details are...unusual and I feel it best kept away from the crew's ears for the time being."

    Krovennan suddenly became concerned, Drehera was very difficult to faze, to request this level of secrecy told krovennan she had heard or seen something very troubling. Krovennan nodded to Drehera's request and the Doctor sat down opposite Krovennan. Drehera cleared her throat and took a deep breath before she spoke.

    "The rumours are of strange happenings when on Deck 13, Environmental Controls momentarily near-freezing sections of the corridor, shadows at every junction darting one way or another, the feeling of a cold breath on the nape of someone's neck when no-one is there and some of the crew are complaining of nightmares of their own torture and even hallucinations of something watching from outside the windows in their quarters or in the shadows behind them in a mirror."

    "Nightmares and hallucinations can happen for no apparent reason Drehera, you know this as the ship's Counselor, how are we sure these problems are connected and not just an effect of too much Synthahol or a bad day?"

    "Well sir, the problems are all happening on Deck 13, so I decided to search it myself, and well sir..."

    "What is it Drehera?"

    "I can't explain what it is right now Vice Admiral, but something is most definitely wrong down there."

    Krovennan suddenly became visibly conerned, Drehera seemed uneasy, incredibly uneasy in fact, he leaned forward to show they were no longer talking as Starfleet Officers of different rank, but as long-time friends.

    "Drehera, what did you see?"

    "Deck 13 is deathly silent Krovennan, even the hum of the warp core seems muted. Nothing moves down there, at least nothing any of my sensors can even detect. The lights flicker out for a few seconds, but the power grid says there was no interruption, same as the Environmental Controls, But worse still is the mist, a cold fog that rolls wherever the controls decrease the corridor temperature."

    Krovennan was listening intently, this was sounding like a scene from a horror novel, but the fact his long time friend was stating this as reality made it all themore disconcerting. He listened silently as she continued.

    "I got covered by that mist, and immediately felt I was being watched. I turned around to the source of my discomfort, and just at the end of the corridor. I saw a void in the fog, a solid shape, a tall man, I have no shame in admitting I was terrified. I stood there until I noticed it was getting larger, or to put it more accurately, it was walking towards me. I felt a feeling of intense loathing coming from in front of me, from that shape. I ran out fast as I could, I could see the void running towards the turbolift as I closed the door, I could hear it screaming on the other side of the door beofre I went up."

    Drehera was almost visibly shaking, obviously the experience had distressed her greatly, Krovennan put a hand on her shoulder in an effort to comfort her.

    "Calm down Drehera. We need to analyze this in a rational manner, could it not have simply been one of the crew members playing a prank with the holoemitters on the deck?"

    "Thats just the thing Krovennan, look at these tricorder readings."

    Krovennan watched as Drehera slid a tricorder along the table towards him, Krovennan picked up the deivice and cycled through the reading log. Even with his oubts of whtat the obvious connotations of this evidence was, even he felt a tinge of trepidation at the results.

    There were no life signs on the entire deck, and no indicators of anything that could be used to mask them, as if there was nothing alive on that deck.

    Krovennnan placed the tricorder down as he looked to Drehera.

    "You know exactly what this looks like Krovennan. My scientific mind screams at me for another explanation, but I cannot think of any. It looks remarkably like what I saw down there was not a living creature. And before you ask, I checked the holoemitters, they haven't been used in weeks. It appears that Deck 13 is, for lack of a better word, haunted."

    The realisation that this was the best explanation hit Krovennan like a freight train, he scrambled for another explanation, but nothing came to mind. He stood up, mulling over what this thing could be, but kept his expression neutral as his mind furiously worked away.

    "You were right to keep this secret, we don't need a panic, evacuate and seal off Deck 13. Until we know what we're dealing with, no-one goes down there."

    "Aye Vice Admiral, I hope you can think of something fast, such a move will undoubtedly raise suspicion and more rumours will spread."

    "Keep them calm for as long as you can Drehera, even if you have to force them into a counselling session with you. The last thing we need is a panic."

    Drehera nodded and walked out, Krovennan left his half-eaten food and went back to his office, continuing as if nothing had happened, when secretly, he was incredibly uneasy with this revelation.

    How could he kill something that was already dead?
    Krovennan Darksabre: Commanding officer of the U.S.S. Blacksabre-E NX-973484-E

    I earned my Vet rewards with commitment, not cash.
  • gulberatgulberat Member Posts: 5,505 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    [Just a crazy idea that popped into my head late at night.]


    "Kenosis"



    Personal Log, Encrypted. Captain Alexei Ivanovich Strannik, commanding officer of the USS Chin'toka.


    Three weeks after returning to our own time the tense expression on my first officer's face told me all I needed to know. The padd in his hand seemed to pulse radioactively as he offered it to me. "Captain...we have a serious problem." The gentle Aenar locked eyes with me--or more accurately, posed himself to simulate the effect. It wasn't hard for me to imagine the long hours of practice th'Valek had put in to achieve what he did among races so dissimilar to himself. I favored him with a long gaze myself, knowing that while he wouldn't perceive my features in the same way as the rest of my crewmates, he would sense my energies and intentions just as he had since we'd roomed together at the Academy.

    I reached forward, taking the padd, keying its contents open. My insides spasmed disconcertingly. Additional reports of a haunting on Deck Thirteen. Incomprehensible, inhuman voices--if they could be called voices--glowing figures...no doubt, the crew was on edge after confronting the Devidians in the Drozana system. And how could I of all people blame them? I knew their rattled nerves better than they could ever imagine.

    I forced myself to control my voice--to even find a voice. "What about the sensors? Has anything registered?"

    th'Valek shook his head. "No, sir. They wouldn't."

    Of course not.

    "Bozhe moi," I mumbled under my breath. "What about the witnesses? Has Dr. Sei looked them over yet?" I'm sure I could have found those details on the padd--but I didn't want to look. Didn't want to make the dread possibility real.

    "Borderline--and frankly, if this is what I think it is, they've been smart about it. All of them previous victims from the ground strike team. On all but one of the 'ghost' witnesses, there are definitely signs of low-grade neural draining. You'd almost think it was an aftereffect--"

    "But it's not."

    "The only one who wasn't drained was in the arboretum." Th'Valek aimed another one of those long, silent 'looks' at me. "The rest were in quarters throughout the deck."

    I slammed the padd onto the desk and let loose an obscenity. "I should've known they wouldn't let us off this easily. Let me off. I should've checked more carefully before we left Drozana!"

    Commander th'Valek grabbed my arms. "Alyosha--this is not your fault! That spook Drake engaged the temporal device without asking your permission or giving us even thirty seconds' chance to check ourselves over for boarding parties while the triolic radiation had them exposed. And if Drake knows even half as much as he likes to claim he knows, then he would've known the risk to you, me, and our crew. He would've known that putting you at risk automatically would endanger the whole crew. He would've known the Devidians would go looking for revenge. I would like to say he wouldn't have put you in this position in the first place, but considering the dark little knot where his heart is, I won't go that far."

    "And that's what tears me up!" I snapped. "Does he think I don't care about this crew? That I would condone the position he has put them in? That I'm like them? If he had any idea what it's like when I lose someone--how hard I try to bring them back--" It wasn't exactly choking up. I don't know how to describe the feeling, but it was there and it weighed heavily upon me.

    "Commander--" My voice stayed just as sharp as before. "I'm going down there to deal with them. Form a team--but I am taking point. I want them to stay well out of range unless I call for them." I grabbed the synchronic rifle still sitting in my weapons locker.

    And next to it...I crossed myself. God forgive me. "I swore I would never, ever use one of these." But I picked it up anyway: the ophidian cane. It weighed strangely in my hand as if heavier than any other object in the world--more real, more substantial, terrifyingly compelling. Right. Sickeningly right.

    In my inattention I nearly pushed th'Valek aside--and almost jumped when his voice rang just two feet to my side. "Alyosha, you cannot be going alone!"

    "I won't put you in the position of ordering you to stay away. But keep...the rest of the crew...away from them. Please. I don't want them going after anyone else beyond whoever they already have."

    "Should I start setting up triolic enhancers?"

    I nodded. My voice fled me. Go ahead.

    th'Valek still understood. "Alyosha...are you sure you want to do this? You know it could--"

    My voice was still gone. I know.



    "No!" I gasped. They had gathered in the enlisted mess--and there was the evidence: half a dozen poor souls shuddering weakly, feverishly, staring at me as if...

    My poor crew--they couldn't see their attackers. Not yet. But I could see them. I could feel them. Oh, yes--the Devidians were here, feasting--but as soon as I entered, they turned towards me--

    Commander th'Valek's antennae poked straight out towards them, the hair on the back of his neck standing up--was he drawing telepathically from my reaction, or did his telepathic senses extend that far? "At your command, Captain."

    I nodded. "Engage the triolic enhancers."

    "Let them go!" I boomed.

    One of the glowing forms broke off and shot towards me. "We hunger!" it hissed, though its mouth did not--could not move. It wasn't designed for that. "Would you deny us? You?"

    I leveled my rifle straight at his conical maw. "I gave your commander the alternative before. And it's right here on this ship! You know it's here! Why do you insist on going after my crew when I can help?"

    "And why do you insist on protecting them? What are they to you? We are not designed to feed from your device...you should know that! For centuries--millennia--you think we should have starved to death as a race, that every bit of our existence until the 24th century and the possibility of your device is evil?"

    "I have sworn two oaths and that is enough," I growled. I didn't have time for the moral debate. I didn't need a tricorder to see how weak the victims were getting. Their eyes were still open, though, staring at me, wondering how I'd provoked this response out of the Devidians when they never spoke to anyone else. "And I will honor them."

    I leaped up to meet him--I fired--he reeled back, spun, slapped the rifle out of my hand--

    And made contact. "God help--"

    --me! My voice died as I felt the surge--

    "Alyosha!"

    th'Valek's faint shout behind me, muffled as if underwater, confirmed my worst fear: I had flashed out of form.

    The pain from the eidolon's claws was intense--such a tiny nick and yet so much more powerful and real than anything. Almost anything except the ophidian, alive and squirming now in my other hand, waiting for my command to strike, eyeing my crew, and I felt--

    No! I screamed to myself, using the force of my fury to subdue the ophidian and push free of the ground--there was no sense staying down now that everyone awake enough in the room knew the truth. I raked at his face with my own claws, clumsy, for I barely knew how to use them. Mocking laughter emanated from the eidolon, an inhuman screech--

    --that I well knew from my efforts to suppress my own natural reactions.

    His hand encircled mine, grappling for pressure points, trying to force me to drop the ophidian, prying into my mind in a duel whose rules I knew nothing about.

    "We found it underground in San Francisco in some kind of creche," the scientists were saying, "No idea how it got there. Looks recently hatched. We brought it to the Interphasic Research Lab here in St. Petersburg, but we think it might be sentient--"

    I jerked my arm against his thumb, aiming for the weak point just as I'd been taught at the Academy, gave thanks that the trick still worked in my natural state. I pushed off against the wall, the ceiling--it had always been so difficult back at the Academy to hide my aptitude for microgravity navigation--and body-slammed the eidolon as hard as I could into one of his ravenous subordinates.

    I shoved back too with my mind.

    She crouched over my prone form, her eyes lit with concern as I spasmed, too weak to move--slipping away from the world, and she touched the top of my head--and so fast, too fast to stop, she screamed, her cry petered out into a whimper, and I suddenly shot awake from the potent mixture of energy and terror--I understood little of these people, so different from me, other than that they were people, however insubstantial their touch felt.

    And how had I repaid her compassion? I didn't know how to fix it...the deed was irrevocably done. I withered again, this time not from starvation, but shame.


    I needed no understanding of the eidolon's language to feel the contempt he aimed back at me.

    I'd formed a visage for myself, mastered spoken language, become bilingual at that--and that brought with it the revelation of my name's real meaning. Alexei, son of 'Ivan Nomad.' John Doe, of sorts--my isolation out there for the world to see even though I now walked and spoke outside the lab with nary a second look from anyone else.

    "Alyosha! Behind you!" Commander th'Valek's voice reverberated in my mind just as much as it sang out the reminder of another reality. I whipped around out of habit--I didn't have to; I didn't really have eyes, but the human mannerisms were so long ingrained that even now they didn't leave me even when the response slowed my reflexes compared to the...others.

    The other Devidians.

    The ophidian, however, wasn't so slow. As my hand lashed out, it wrapped itself around the umbral's neck--and squeezed. It didn't take long before the aggressor dropped. The others had been frozen by the spectacle, it seemed--and with that, th'Valek squeezed off a volley of shots...felled the intruders. Their poor victims started to fall--until I seized hold just long enough to lower them gently to the floor.

    It was so, so terribly easy for me to sense the state they were in. I gripped the ophidian tight, forcing the energy out of myself in a process that doubled me over just as surely as what it must feel like to retch. I felt myself growing weaker and weaker until something shoved hard into my body, the impact strengthened by the triolic enhancers...

    "The med team is on its way--you can stop now...stay with me..."

    His voice faded away as I crumpled to the deck.



    The first sensation as I returned to awareness was of the respiration-feeding mask over my mouth, breathing air and life--artificial life--back into my body. The attack victims--did they make it?, I sent to th'Valek. He repeated my words where Dr. Sei could hear, for I was too weak to resume my familiar form or even form sonic waves to mimic speech.

    "Most of them," Dr. Sei confirmed. The Trill was the only other, besides th'Valek, who had known the classified truth all along. "All but one. I'm sorry, Captain."

    They were still calling me 'captain'--so at least I hadn't woken up to a mutiny, or at least it didn't involve the whole crew.

    I never meant for any of this to happen.

    "I know. And the survivors do, too. They're actually saying they could feel your care for their lives. They send their thanks."

    I didn't respond at first.

    "They've all talked. They agree to keep your secret."

    What about Chief Ruuim? I thought back--the Caitian NCO that had seen me lose control in the arboretum when all the stress of the Drozana mission had come crashing down on me.

    "We'll talk to him." Commander th'Valek answered, this time.

    I don't know. Maybe it would be better if I resign, as soon as I regain my form.

    It had been one thing before the Starfleet scientists--or I, for that matter--had known anything about my race. I was just a curiosity then, and there hadn't been any objections to my entrance into Starfleet Academy, given my repentance for what had happened to my first childhood caretaker, and the creation of an alternate feeding device that had safely sustained my life ever since. But since the Enterprise crew had discovered the truth--it had been a constant battle with the bureaucracy to prove I wasn't a threat, to get things classified at the right levels so I could continue to serve quietly, behind my human form, without facing the contempt of my crewmates. And now, thus exposed...

    It didn't really surprise me when th'Valek clapped me once on the shoulder. With the Aenar's unique mode of perception, appearance wasn't exactly an object. I almost jumped though--as much as I could with so little energy--when Dr. Sei took my clawed hand.

    "After what my patients reported from their...experience," Dr. Sei said, as deeply impassioned as if she'd heard me for herself and not through th'Valek, "I'd say Starfleet would be losing a fine captain if you let this drive you away. Think about it, Alyosha."

    Indeed...I will be spending a long time doing that. Normalcy might return quickly for most of the crew of the Chin'toka--but for me it will be a long time coming.

    Christian Gaming Community Fleets--Faith, Fun, and Fellowship! See the website and PM for more. :-)
    Proudly F2P.  Signature image by gulberat. Avatar image by balsavor.deviantart.com.
  • conras1conras1 Member Posts: 4 Arc User
    edited January 2013
    Captin's log, stardate 50678.97

    I have been geting some strange reports of happenings on deck 13. I'm sure it's nothing. No one ever gose to deck 13 anyway.... Unless it's important. But the crew insits that I take a look, so Me, first officer Jhral, and Lt.cammander Thyriss will go chek it out.

    Captin's log sublemental

    I found nothing out of the ordinary on deck 13..... except one thing..... I didn't think we had a replicator up on deck 13. Apperantly we do. Strange..... I think it was mouthfunctioning because I didn't ask for Choclate.....Or anything.....

    Captin's log, subblemental

    I decided to have another look on deck 13.... alone. This time, I found somthing very interesting: Devedeans. I don't know how they got on my ship, all I know is I'm going to do somthing about it.

    Captin's log subblemental

    We have succesfuly driven the devidians away from My ship. I don't think we'll see them for a long time!
  • zidanetribalzidanetribal Member Posts: 218 Arc User
    edited September 2015
    Literary Challenge #36: The Haunting of Deck 13

    LC36: ONE
    Captain's Log, Stardate 86787.54. The Lord English is currently exploring nebulae in the Hromi Cluster. The only incident of note is an impact with unidentified debris passing through a cerulean nebula. As our shields were off-line at the time due to nebulaic interference, we are en route to Starbase 157 for examinations and potential repairs.

    ===

    Admiral Remus Lee stared at the container of metreon gas hanging on his ready room wall as Security Ensign Lutz waited at the door.

    "It's open!" he cried, leveling his tetryon pistol at the container as Lutz walked in.
    "Admiral!" Lutz shouted, struggling to maintain his composure as the tetryon bolts hit the wall around the container. "Commander Serket has completed the security report and would like you to review it as soon as you can."

    Lee holstered his weapon as he took the PADD from Lutz. It was unusual for Aranea to send a subordinate to deliver the security report, as she relished personally handing the security report to him with a dash of Orion pheromones just to test his faculties. Lee began perusing the report.
    "Armory informs that photon grenade supplies are replenished, assault squad shuttles report condition green... what's this?" Lee pondered as he glanced at a section titled Mysterious events on Deck 13. Lutz began squirming uncomfortably as Lee read the section allowed.
    At 0000J today, a Crewman Mar of Deck 13 reported a failure of the sonic shower. Since then, other malfunctions have been plaguing the occupants of Deck 13. These systems failures have ranged from simple waste extraction failures and replicator mix-ups to electroplasma shock and loss of gravity. Personnel on Deck 13 have also sighted various unidentified persons wandering the corridors. At 0800J, Deck 13 lost atmospheric controls; on my authority as security chief, I have sealed the deck and am assembling a security team to investigate the nature of these mishaps.
    Commander Aranea Serket, Security Chief, USS Lord English.

    Lee frowned as he checked his watch. 0800J was four hours ago; Aranea's absence most likely meant that her mission failed.

    "Ensign Lutz, do you know where the security chief is, and why it took four hours for this to come to my attention?" Lee queried.

    Lutz blanched visibly.

    "Commander Serket went with several security officers into Deck 13, but the team became MIA. Their lifesigns are still active, but we're unable to transport them out. Commanders Taylor and Nethri are at Turbolift A-1 on Deck 12 to salvage the situation," Lutz replied.

    Upon hearing this, Lee took out his Environmental Suit from the locker and strode out his ready room. Lutz began panicking as he tapped his combadge.

    "Commander Taylor! The admiral's heading your way!" he shouted, before hurrying out himself.

    ---

    Commander Kay Taylor braced herself as Admiral Lee exited the turbolift onto Deck 12 in full environmental gear.

    "Admiral," she lectured, blocking Lee as he tried to wriggle his way past her. "Starfleet regulations prohibit the commanding officer of a starship to enter a potentially hazardous situation."
    "Starfleet regulations also require the commanding officer of a starship to be responsible for the well-being of his or her crew, now let me through, Kay," Lee retorted, vainly attempting to evade his first officer while wearing a bulky EV suit.

    Taylor began to glower as Lee kept trying to squirm past her.

    "This is why Drevis and I didn't inform you immediately about this situation. We knew that you would pull a Kirk and attempt to rescue the security personnel alone. This is an unacceptable risk for an admiral to be taking."

    Commander Drevis Nethri stepped in between the two quarrelers to defuse the situation.

    "Now, admiral, Kay and I were only concerned about what would happen to you if you went into an unknown situation. We still don't know what's going on down in Deck 13. We've been able to rescue part of the security team, but life support and gravity controls are down. Aranea and Ensign Socci are still unaccounted for, and Lieutenant Velmer fell out of contact with us trying to reach them."

    Taylor nodded contemplatively.

    "The only clue we have as to what's occurring down there," she said as she held up a PADD, "is that every display, PADD, and console has the word ONE on it, and we can't clear the consoles to check their information."

    Lee nodded contemplatively in turn as he inched towards the Jeffries Tube.

    "Could this be an assault by the Borg or the Tholians?" Lee inquired.
    "There hasn't been any sign of unusual Borg tech on Deck 13 or elsewhere on the ship. The security team noticed various unidentified personnel walking throughout the deck, but- Hey!" Taylor cried, as Lee slipped down the Jefferies Tube into the murk of Deck 13.

    ---

    Lee slowly propelled himself down Deck 13 as Drevis guided him via combadge. Just as Commander Taylor said, every console on Deck 13 read ONE. Smoke billowing out from various devices made visibility close to zero.

    "Drevis, can you give me a general location for Aranea, Velmer, and Socci?" Lee asked.
    "They're all in closed rooms throughout Deck 13, admiral," Drevis replied. "Something down there is keeping them incapacitated. Lieutenant Velmer is a few meters in front of you, in crew quarters M-113."
    "Roger that, Drevis. Lee out."

    Lee made his way to M-113, forcing the doors open with a piece of paneling. Inside, he found Lieutenant Velmer being interrogated by an Andorian Imperial Guardsman.

    "Where do you come from? Do you spy for the Vulcans? We'll see what secrets we'll pry from you before we turn you against the pointed-ears!"

    As the guardsman repeated his inquiry, he noticed Lee, shouting the same to him before rushing at him, unhindered by the lack of gravity. Piece of paneling in hand, Lee shoved it into the Andorian's chest before using his thrusters to launch himself into the Andorian. Upon contact with the wall, the Andorian vanished. Lee recovered quickly from the impact, but was still dazed at the Andorian's disappearance.

    "Drevis, Kay, did sensors pick up an Andorian intruder?"
    "Negative, admiral, we haven't picked up any signs of Andorians, although to be honest, we can't pick anything up except for you and the other EV suits. There's too much background radiation to do anything except keep tabs on them."

    "Curiouser and curiouser," Lee pondered, as he reconnected Velmer's air supply and injected her with tri-ox compound. She quickly came around, surprised at Lee's presence.
    "Admiral! You shouldn't be down here! This is a dangerous place!" she exclaimed.
    "Yes, I know, Commander Taylor told me all about the dangers of Deck 13. Can you walk?"
    "That Andorian cut my leg with an ushaan before dragging me in here. My suit sealed automatically, but I don't think I can walk."

    Lee tied a length of coil around Velmer's waist before drawing his compression pistol.

    "Kay, inform the transporter room that I'm going to send Lt. Velmer out the window. Keep scanning for her lifesigns outside Deck 13, room M-113."

    As soon as he finished, Lee fired four bolts into the window, shattering it and exposing the crew quarters to empty space. Lee slowly unwound Velmer out the window before she was transported to Sickbay. Lee made his way out M-113, shutting the door behind him. As he turned around, a Vulcan science minister greeted him.

    "You seem to have had quite the journey. I hope that your experience with the Andorians have not soured your quest for knowledge. Live long and prosper, and may you find your way home," the minister said, before walking down the corridor.
    "Hey! Tell me what's going on!" Lee yelled, but the Vulcan minister went on his way, vanishing into the smoke.

    "This is some karked stuff down here, Kay. Are you sure you're not picking anything else up?" asked Lee.
    "Negative, admiral, just your lifesigns, a lot of EM radiation, and a slow power drain."

    ---

    What could this mean? Lee thought to himself as he boosted down the corridor. These mystery people have got to be involved in these events. In any case once Aranea and Ens. Socci are rescued I'll evacuate the chevron and tow it to Starbase 157 with the stardrive section.
    Lee's inner thoughts were rudely interrupted by a Ferengi marauder dragging the limp body of Ensign Socci down the corridor. Unfurling his energy whip, the marauder flung several bolts of electricity in Lee's direction as he ran in the other direction, shouting "I can't make a profit with space trash! There's nothing of value here! Just useless junk!" Surging forward through the flurry of bolts, Lee reached Socci but lost sight of the Ferengi.

    "Kay, Drevis, I've found Ensign Socci. He seems to be alive, but just barely. I don't think I can drag him to a Jeffries tube in time to save him."
    "Admiral, if you can take Socci to turbolift E-1, we can be in place to catch him on deck 14."
    "Copy that."

    As Lee brought Socci to the turbolift shaft, Socci began drifting back into consciousness.

    "Mao, Tojo, watch out for that Klingon... they're taking Commander Serket to Observation Room 13... What is that, some sort of space squid..."

    As Socci began fading into unconsciousness, Lee unceremoniously tipped him into the turboshaft before continuing down the hallway. Lee contacted Commander Taylor again.

    "Kay, can you give me any information about Observation Room 13?"
    "Other than that Aranea's there, no. However, it is the closest room to where that unidentified space debris hit our ship, if there's any connection."
    "Thanks, Kay. Lee out."

    ---

    As Lee reached Observation Room 13, he was confronted by a flying squid-like entity, which screeched at him. Fed up with the shenanigans of mysterious beings, Lee lobbed a photon grenade in its direction. The squid creature escaped into Observation Room 13, with the photon grenade exploding impotently against the sealed bulkhead door. Swearing softly to himself, Lee attempted to open the door manually. As he prepared to place the emergency hand actuators, a Pakled captain stepped though the closed doors and greeted him.

    "Do you need help?" said the Pakled.
    "I am trying to find a friend, I think she is behind this door," Lee replied, his sense of incredulity having run dry.
    "You are tiny," said the Pakled. "Can you still go?"

    As the Pakled captain spoke, he pulled the door open unassisted. Lee became baffled as the Pakled reentered the room. Inside the observation room were aliens of all kinds, surrounding a sizable piece of debris embedded in a desk computer. Throughout the room, the word ONE flashed on all displays. Lee regained his composure as he saw his missing security chief restrained on the desk.

    "Attention! This is Admiral Remus Lee of the USS Lord English! You are holding one of my crew hostage! Release my crew and vacate the premises or swift action will be taken!" Lee blustered.

    In response, a Klingon warrior jumped down from the mezzanine. Pointing menacingly at Lee, the Klingon began elaborately waving a D'k tahg.

    "Shooting space garbage is no test of a warrior's mettle! I need a target that fires back!" he shouted as he rushed Lee.

    Having exhausted his patience long ago, Lee obliged the Klingon by blasting him in the face with his tetryon pistol. As the Klingon fell to the floor, parts of him began shimmering before fading out of existence. The other aliens began surrounding Lee and Commander Serket. As Lee contemplated his situation, a glint of light caught his eye. Lee's gaze fell on the debris embedded in the computer, a golden plate fused with a rudimentary processor.

    In a fit of pique, Lee yanked the plate out of the computer. As the electrical charges faded from the plate, the aliens in the observation room slowly faded into oblivion. At the same time, power and life support returned to Deck 13. Commander Taylor hailed Lee over ship communications.

    "Admiral, what happened? Power to Deck 13 just came back on. All the PADDs that had ONE on them are back to normal! Did you find Aranea?"

    Lee responded in the affirmative.

    "I ran into a little trouble in the observation room, but I think I discovered the source of the problem. Get Aranea to sickbay ASAP, and then send a few security teams down here to help clean up."

    As Commander Serket was beamed off of the observation room desk, Lee sat down on one of the few remaining chairs in the room. Staring at the golden plate in his hand, he flipped it over to the processor side. Written at the top was the word ONE. Smirking a little, Lee wiped off the centuries of melted circuitry and space dust on the plate, revealing the words PIONEER 10.

    ===
    Captain's Log, supplemental. The mystery of Deck 13 has been solved, and with it the mystery of the fate of one of Earth's first interstellar vessels. In the years since its disappearance, Pioneer 10 had led an interesting life, making first contact with many alien species long before humanity discovered it was not alone. The sum of Pioneer 10's experiences manifested itself into the ship's photonic database, causing much (probably) unintended havoc with the ship systems on Deck 13. Commander Serket and the rest of the security team are expected to make a full recovery. A full report will be made to Admiral Quinn as soon as possible.
    Post edited by zidanetribal on
  • pwebranflakespwebranflakes Member Posts: 7,741
    edited January 2013
    SpOoOoOky! Glad you all figured out what was going on on Deck 13 :cool: Really though, nice work! I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries.

    I am going to unstick this thread as I prepare to post #37, but as always, if you still would like to participate, please do so.

    Cheers,

    Brandon =/\=
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