Literary Challenge #36 : The Haunting of Deck 13
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Survivor of Remus
Join Date: Dec 2012
Into the Depth of Oblivion
01-09-2013, 02:12 PM
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
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."
Last edited by squatsauce; 01-16-2013 at