Literary Challenge #36 : The Haunting of Deck 13
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Join Date: Jun 2012
01-09-2013, 10:45 AM
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."
" 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.
" 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 "
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!"
" 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.
Last edited by amurorx0; 01-10-2013 at
. Reason: I thought of an ending :)