Literary Challenge #11 : Hidden Agendas
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Join Date: Dec 2007
The List - Part 3
01-31-2012, 05:18 PM
We made it back up the steep ravine in record time. I approached the standard-issue pop tent turned field hospital. Two medics busied themselves around the weakened crewmen, trying desperately to keep him as comfortable as possible.
“Report,” I barked annoyed that my chance to make a little history had been cut so dramatically short.
The medics jumped at the sound of my voice. Startled, they began talking in unison. Raising a hand, they stopped and waited for my next command. For a moment, I wondered why I couldn’t train my canine companion Gershwin to follow my orders this well. I pointed at the medic closest to me.
She looked over her shoulder to the crewman. When she turned back towards me, I could see it written on her face. “His body temperature is approaching critical, and …” Her words trailed off.
“What is it?”
The other medic jumped in with the response. “It’s his skin … It’s … it’s luminescent.”
This I had to see for myself. I pushed past the medics and went to the crewman’s bedside. It wasn’t much of a bed – a few empty cargo containers, a couple of sleeping bags for a mattress, and a thermal blanket that was radiating heat away from his body. Lieutenant Joseph Onkaar was sleeping or unconscious; I wasn’t sure which. His face was the only exposed part of his body. It was covered in sweat and flushed, but it didn’t look luminescent. I looked at the medic that stood across from me. Without a single word, he pulled back the blanket to the crewman’s waist.
I have to admit that what I saw startled me. The arm where he was bit was glowing brightly. But the luminescence didn’t end there. It spread up his arm and into his chest along the network of veins and arteries that crisscrossed his body. I gasped and stepped away from him. The medic covered him up and said, “There’s nothing we can do for him here.”
Looking around, I see the shuttle parked in a nearby meadow. “Why is he still here?”
The other medic had finally regained some composure and explained, “It’s the darnedest thing I have ever seen. The shuttle is fully operational, until he gets within 3 meters of it. Next thing we know, all of its systems are shut down and there’s nothing we can do to restart them. We bring him back here to the tent, and we have a fully operational shuttle.”
“What about the transporter?”
“We’ve been working with Mortimer, but he can’t locate Onkaar. However, we’ve successfully beamed people and equipment back and forth. It’s almost like he’s emitting some type of electro-magnetic dampening field that is interfering with all Starfleet technology. Try it out for yourself, Captain.”
I stepped towards the crewman on the make-shift bed and tapped my combadge. Nothing happened. I stepped away from him and tried again. “Yes, Captain,” the voice replied over the open com channel.
“Where’s the doctor?” I replied quickly.
“Put him through.”
A moment later, the doctor replied. “Yes, Captain?”
“Why are you up there, while a crewman is down here dying?”
“I’ve been back and forth half a dozen times already. Right now, I’m screening his blood for toxins. So far, we haven’t identified anything unusual.”
“Keep me informed. We’re going to need answers soon, doc.”
Lieutenant Joseph Onkaar sat up suddenly, breathing heavily. He didn’t move or say a word. He just stared ahead. The skin on his face was glowing brightly. He was enveloped in a light brighter than a thousand stars. It was difficult to look at him. He screeched inhumanely. I covered my ears and the camp’s security officers pulled their phasers. Then, as suddenly as it had begun; it was over. I motioned for the guards to lower their weapons.
I stepped towards him. My combadge and the tricorder on my hip began to whine loudly. A cacophony of static, crackles, and pops that began as nothing more than noise slowly took on a cadence that almost resembled speech. Then, out of the pattern a single, labored word appeared, followed by another and a third. As if it became easier, the words began to repeat, over and over again, getting easier and faster with each repetition. “We must feed. We must feed. We must feed …”
Onkaar flopped back onto the bed and began convulsing violently. The medics rushed past me to his bed side and tried to hold him down. But the involuntary muscle contractions must have been severe because he tossed both medics aside as if they were the thermal blanket that had once covered him. The guards reached for their phasers again as the medics got to their feet and returned to the crewman.
I don’t quite know how to describe what happened next, except to say that Onkaar exploded into a shower of sparkles. It’s crazy, but I don’t know how else to say it.
Then, the newly-hatched swarm of glimmers attacked the medics to either side of what had once been lieutenant Onkaar. The guards rushed past me and fired at the buzzing, biting, attacking plague of sparkles. It was difficult to tell, but either they couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, or the particle beams just passed harmlessly through the shimmers as if they weren’t there. Shifting focus from the medics to the guards, a pack of sparkles enveloped the security officers.
Their screams … good men aren’t supposed to scream like that.
Running at full speed in reverse, I ordered everyone into the shuttles. I knew it offered little protection against hundreds, if not thousands of creatures that can pass effortlessly through solid objects, but it was our only way of escape. Transporters were out of the question at this point. We would have to stand still in order for them to beam us off this god-forsaken rock and with the angry sparkles everywhere, I couldn’t risk beaming any aboard the ship. We were on our own.
“To the shuttles!” I cried out again, making sure that the remaining members of teams Alpha and Beta heard me. I tripped and stumbled as I wheeled around. Recovering, I broke into a full run across the open meadow towards the pair of shuttles that had been sent down hours before.
Several frightened ensigns and a couple of lieutenants were already clamoring to get aboard the shuttle when I had finally reached it. The other shuttle was already lifting off when I closed the shuttle doors. “Get us out of here!” I yelled to the crewman that was working the helm console. We began our assent. I took the seat next to the crewman and opened a comm channel.
“Anyone from teams gamma, delta, eta, or theta; please respond.” I waited for a response, but one never came. I tried again with the same results. If they had been attacked by the sparkles, they may not be able to respond. I turned my attention to the other two teams. “Teams Zeta and Epsilon come in please.” I silently pleaded for a response.
“We’re hear, Captain. We’ve been monitoring the situation and have evacuated the planet.”
Relief washed over me. “Good to hear from you, Commander.” Just as the words dropped from my mouth, I watched in horror as the other shuttle craft began to lose power and fell from the sky like a flying brick. A swarm of sparkles passed through the shuttle’s hull and started heading right for us. I must have gasped or made some other indication of what I had seen.
“Captain? What happened?”
Speaking to both the crewman at the helm and the commander on the com channel, I ordered them both to get back to ship as quickly as possible.
Ten minutes later, we were safe and sound onboard my vessel. I stayed in the shuttle bay until every shuttle had returned. However, some never did. 48 men and women went down to Camus II, and only 17 returned. We scanned the planet for life signs for several hours, hoping to find a trace of our people down there. But, there wasn’t anything left to find. As the final moments counted down in our window to investigate Camus II, it was with the feeling of great dread that I ordered my ship to leave orbit, marooning anyone that may yet still be alive down there.
I still have to write my official report for Starfleet on what exactly happened. They’re expecting answers, but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to provide very many. I could speculate and tell them what I think had happened to those scientists and the civilization that once lived on the planet. However, I cannot be certain about any of it. The one thing that I am certain about is that Camus II should remain on that damned list.