Literary Challenge #36 : The Haunting of Deck 13
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!
"...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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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."
"Jinx to Vranlek, please respond."
"Jinx to Mat. Does anyone read me?"
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.
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 hacked 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.
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.
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.
But that would make me superstitious.
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.
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?”
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?”
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.
Into the Depth of Oblivion
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."
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 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, Lulu, 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."
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 frowned, 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."
"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..."
"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 a jazz club in San Francisco after 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.
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.
As he closed his fingers round the pebble, Kane's eyes closed, and he sighed.
Opening his eyes, he turned to Polizzi.
"Tony, what's causing that noise?"
"I have no idea, Captain," Polizzi replied. "There's no 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."
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..."
"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."
Kane looked up to face his officers.
"What if she wasn't hallucinating..."
Realization suddenly dawned on Kane's youthful features, and he looked up as if addressing the ship's intercom.
"Alix? Is that you?"
"Did Mom like it on Vulcan?"
"That's true. When we were ten, she died the week before we were due to relocate," he said, turning to Hunt. "What do you think, Roger, one for yes, two for no?"
"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..."
"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.
"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?"
"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?"
yes darling brother
"Were you really present when Cameron was killed?"
yes she was so pretty mom would have loved her
"Is Cameron with you now? Can I talk to her too?"
no darling only me
"If that is you, Ali, tell me something only I would know," Kane insisted.
you were the first and the last 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.
"No, why did you shoot yourself?"
to live forever like you
"But you died."
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?"
"But that's not possible," Hunt interrupted. "There is no subspace in this region. That's why ships can't travel at warp."
a different deeper dimension a different realm everything is 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 phase-shifted her neural patterns to a layer of subspace we don't yet know about?"
"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 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 always 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 my darling 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 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 in all the worlds, 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, at the tactical station, Lieutenant S'rR's Kane wept uncontrollably, clutching to Lieutenant Meliden Bowen as if she were a lifeline. 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.
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