Literary Challenge #38 : We'll Always Have New York
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Join Date: Feb 2013
02-18-2013, 05:10 PM
(Continued from previous post)
Later that night, at roughly ten o'clock PM, standard Terran time, Arkos and the rest of away team attempted to break into the Statue of Liberty.
Under cover of darkness, they managed to get close enough undetected to the wharf railing to set up one of Adim's sound dampeners, so that they would have less chance of alerting any of the night watchmen patrolling the dockyards. From there, it was a simple matter of slipping into one of the manner small boats tethered to the dock and start rowing towards the artificial island. Throughout the entire affair, Arkos tried not to dwell on the fact that this, the most interesting moment in his entire career Starfleet, involved the stealing and piloting of a tiny little rowboat while dressed in an overcoat, satin pants and a "bowler hat," or whatever it was that Sann had called his headgear.
As they neared the island mounting of the Statue, they half expected to see guardsmen lining the edges of the concrete structure keeping watch, or spotlights or something similar scanning the waterline. Instead, however the entire island was eerily silent. They had anticipated some difficulty in dealing with the guards-- especially since any confrontation with the local authorities could accidentally expose the lot of them as extraterrestrials-- but instead the whole affair seemed unnervingly easy. It was no trouble at all for them to moor the rowboat to the edge of the island and make their way up the walkways.
They were still expecting guards near the base of the island as they walked up, and true enough, the guards were there, all dressed in the archaic uniforms of what Arkos guessed was the New York constabulary. Only, in this case, they were also all sprawled across the ground motionlessly, some of them snoring quite loudly.
"Well," Arkos muttered, breaking the silence. "this was unexpected. Sann, any idea why they're all asleep?"
The Trill pulled her tricorder free from her purse and scanned the unconscious guards. "No sign of any toxins in their bloodstream," she said, "though I am...reading...several irregularities..." She yawned suddenly. "...in their...neural...emissions..."
Arkos frowned, and was about to ask his science officer if there was anything wrong, when he noticed just how heavy his eyelids felt. He blinked a few times and made a deep exhalation through his nose as he noticed, for the first time, how sleepy he was. He was obviously overworking himself, he figured, and as Captain he had every right to getting a bit of shut eye and relaxing himself...
A small part of his brain panicked, then, as he heard K'Nera and Adim yawn as well, and he realized just how unnatural it was for them all to be feeling sleepy at once, at a spot where a bunch of human guards were already dozing at their posts. No, you idiot, you're in danger! he mentally screamed to himself. Stay awake! You've fallen into some sort of trap! By that point, though, he was already closing his eyes, his body succumbing to an exhaustion it hadn't even realized it felt until now. Just a few moments to rest his eyes, that would be all...
He was ripped back, violently, into reality as something pressed against his arm, and caught fire inside of him. His eyes shot back open, and he let out a ragged, surprised gasp as he snapped back upright, nearly losing his balance as the world flooded back into life around him. "Where...whassat...whaaat?" he gasped, his mouth fumbling lethargically with words.
He whirled around in Sann's direction, and saw her press a hypopspray into Adim's arm. The Andorian jolted for a second before blinking rheumily. Nearby, K'Nera was rubbing her own arm and glancing around at the world with bewilderment, clearly having already received a hypospray injection.
"Relax, this is just a bit of adrenaline," Sann said, putting the hypospray back in her purse. She then blushed in embarrassment. "Actually...forget what I said, please don't relax. That would be completely counter-productive."
Arkos gaped at his subordinate. "You've injected me with ADRENALINE?" Then his brain adjusted to the invigorating surge, and put two and two together. His rage cooled in the face of understanding. "We almost fell asleep..."
Sann nodded, before looking down at her tricorder. "There appears to be some sort of resonance wave coming from inside the Statue," she said. "It seems specifically formulated to affect neural waves and trigger sleep functions."
K'Nera blinked in confusion, obviously still a bit dizzy from the confusion, obviously still a bit dizzy from the combination of near-sleep and the sudden adrenaline rush. "Wait...resonance wave? Are you saying something inside the statue put all these guards to sleep?"
Sann nodded. "And it almost did the same to us," she replied. "Though this adrenaline sample will probably keep us awake for another ten minutes, at best."
"So we should hurry, then," Adim muttered darkly. "Whatever is inside the Statue is already a danger to the timeline if it can do something like this."
Arkos nodded. "K'Nera, take point," he said, pulling out his own tricorder. The small device hummed, and quickly confirmed everything that Sann had told him: there was definitely a strong wave of soliton-based particles being channelled outwards from inside the statue, and it was definitely synonymous with the energy readings they had detected earlier. More worrisome, however, was the fact that the wave seemed to be steadily increasing in frequency and distance...
"I'm detecting life signs inside, Captain," Sann said as she continued her own scans. "About twenty in the lower levels of the statue, all unconscious. I'm also detecting four near the head of the statue..." She frowned suddenly.
"Is something the matter, Ensign?" Arkos asked.
"Yes, there is...those four life signs are exhibiting active mental cognition...but none of them are human."
The interior of the Statue of Liberty was cold, stygian, and poorly lit by a few candles and gas burners here and there, casting uncomfortable shadows onto the verdigris walls. An endless maze of walkways, support struts and platforms punctuated the interior, all of which had evidently been used by workers as they put the finishing touches on the Statue?s interior. Those workers were still there, asleep at their stations, tools still clutched in their hands as they lay sprawled all platforms, floors, or even entangled amidst ladders. Whatever it was that had happened here, these workers had been unaware of it until it had been too late.
Moving as quietly as they could, the away team made their way up the long, winding staircase that spiralled around the statue?s inner walls like some malformed vertebrae. The nearby pulley elevator looked like it would make too much noise, and quite frankly, they were in too much of a hurry. As they carefully stepped over sleeping workers, they gradually heard voices at the top?voices engaged in a murmured conversation. Arkos noticed something else, however: a deep bass hum that caused his skin to tingle, and got more loud and more vibrant as they approached.
The sight greeted them at the top of the stairs confirmed Arkos' suspicions: a pylon of some sort, constructed from some sort of iridiescent emerald material, stood at the centre of the room, pallid vermilion light playing along its surface like luminous veins. The deep hum was being emitted by this device, so potent now that Arkos could feel its vibrations in his bones. The room itself was spacious, wide openings in the walls exposing the fluttering canvas outside. Surrounding this green pillar were four figures, all of whom, at first glance, appeared to be human. They were wearing the dust-stained coveralls they had seen being used by the other workers, but it was what they were doing that was odd. One of them was standing in front of the pillar and waving his hands as though manipulating it somehow, and the other three were kneeling around it, as though...
to it? They were all mouthing a long, droning incantation in some tongue the artificial translator couldn?t articulate, their chants seeming to mirror the deep hum of the pylon.
Arkos took a quick look at his tricorder, and noted, with distaste that whatever this thing was, it was generating too much electromagnetic interference to gain a proper reading. He glanced to K'Nera and gave her a nod. "It looks like we'll have to do this the hard way," he whispered.
K'Nera nodded, and pulled out her hand phaser. The rest of them did the same. Knowing that they were waiting on his signal, Arkos set his weapon to stun and sprang over the last few steps of the walkway into full view of the strangers, pointing the phaser at them. "Drop what you're doing, now!" he barked, in what he hoped was a suitably authoritative tone. His team sprang behind him with their own phasers drawn, though Arkos was faintly aware that they all looked a little out of place, wearing 19th-Century Earth clothing and wielding futuristic weapons.
The strangers jumped in alarm at Arkos' sudden appearance, the three chanters springing to their feet as one of them shouted something that sounded like ?Intruders!? The one standing by the pillar seemed oblivious, even as one of his friends reached into his pocket and pulled out some sort of firearm...
Arkos fired, the amber beam of the phaser nailing the man in the abdomen before he could point his weapon, dropping him like a stone. Another chanter got a bead on him and fired: an emerald beam hissed his way, only to wash harmlessly around him as his personal shield kicked in. K'Nera brought him down in turn with a perfectly aimed chest-blast. The third chanter yelled something incomprehensible and fired wildly at the group. Adim ducked, the blast punching a hole through his top hat and propelling it halfway across the room, exposing his antennae to the world. He and Sann both retaliated at the same time, stunning the chanter with direct hits to the forehead and shoulder.
The man at the pillar was the only one left, waving his arms ever more frantically. It was then that Arkos noticed the holographic interface hovering in front of him in a ghostly green light. "Defilers!" the man screamed, almost hysterically. "Bend knee to the goddess!"
Arkos was about to tell the man to stop what he was doing and back away slowly, when the device hummed even more loudly. Another, more intense, wave of lethargy washed over Arkos. His vision blurred, and his knees buckled as he was overcome by the powerful need for sleep. "Oh kylken..." he slurred, voicing a choice swear word from his homeworld as he fell to his knees.
His world was drowned out by the deep, bass hum of the device. Through his blurred vision, he could see its green, hazy outline becoming the sole point of light in the world as everything else became darkness?
And then there was a loud bang, and for the second time that night, Arkos snapped awake.
He figured out what had happened only after the dust and debris had cleared. His gut instinct quickly told him that K'Nera, despite the overwhelming power of the device, had kept her wits about her and had thrown a photon grenade, destroying the alien device in a single potent blast. The second thing his gut instinct told him was that K'Nera had actually brought a photon grenade on this mission without informing him. He decided to wait until after they were back on the
before he reprimanded her, however, seeing as she had just saved his life.
The alien pylon was in pieces, chunks of glass-like material scattered across the room. The green lights on each piece throbbed weakly, slowly dimming as the individual components shut down and died. The man who had been operating the device lay sprawled on his back, his outfit singed and several solid chunks of the machine embedded in his chest and torso like shrapnel. Arkos winced. He didn't need advanced medical training to know that this man had been fatally wounded.
More noticeable, however, was the fact that the man had
Whatever technology had been disguising him had obviously been damaged, as his once-human face was replaced by a bald head with vibrant red skin. His facial features seemed Human, but the crown of perfectly pointed horns around his head indicated otherwise.
"A Sikkoran," K'Nera muttered, recognizing the alien's physiology.
The name quickly rung a bell. From what Arkos knew, the Sikkorans were a reclusive race in the galactic south-east of the Regulus Sector Block. Their race was known for being extremely religious as a whole, and, for a time, they had aggressively tried to convert neighbouring races to their belief system, even going so far as to attack and subjugate worlds to spread their faith. Starfleet had intervened more than a century ago and put a stop to this aggression, and since then, the Sikkorans had been confined to their homeworld in a state of self-imposed isolation.
And now, here they were here on historic Earth, disguised as Humans, with a secret device in the Statue of Liberty that they clearly attached some religious significance to. The truth dawned on Arkos quickly, even as he stepped over the wounded Sikkoran. The man's breathing was heavy, and it was clear he wouldn't last long.
"My name is Captain Arkos Nair, of the Federation starship
" he said, remembering standard protocols when dealing with wounded enemies. "Hang on. We're going to take you back to our ship and heal you."
The Sikkoran's amber eyes flashed and locked Arkos in a fierce gaze. "Nnno..." he rasped, black liquid bubbling up the corner of his mouth. "I will not be touched...by unbelievers." He spat up at Arkos, the wad missing him by a considerable distance. "I pity you...you who will never...know the Goddess' love..."
The Sikkoran went still then, his gaze moving past Arkos and settling there. Sann edged up and scanned the Sikkoran with her medical tricorder, and nodded silently to Arkos. He sighed.
"Adim, arrange for the Sikkorans and all of the debris to be beamed back to the
" he said. "K'Nera, make sure the other three are put in the brig. I want to make sure that absolutely no trace of what happened here is left behind."
K'Nera nodded. "Understood, Captain." She paused, then. "What do you think they were doing here, sir?"
Arkos glanced at the unconscious, still living Sikkorans. "Isn't it obvious?" he replied. "After Starfleet stopped the Sikkorans...'crusade'...more than a century ago, they must have been looking for a chance at revenge. And what better way to get revenge than to try to convert Earth to their belief system, long before the Federation has even existed?"
The Andorian looked at the destroyed pieces of the machine, understanding finally dawning on her. "So this machine is some sort of mental control device..."
"...and through it, they could have imposed worship of their religion," Arkos finished with a nod. "And from there, they not only would have been able to manipulate the Humans, but would have been able to influence the Federation at its creation hundreds of years later. If not for us, Ensign, they would have drastically altered history."
As he scanned the wreckage of the device and marked its pieces for transport, Adim glanced at Arkos. "But...Captain, they specifically mentioned a 'goddess,'" he said. "What did they mean by that?"
Arkos' face became grim. "What do you think?"
On October 8, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was unveiled to the world.
The unveiling was met with great fanfare. Marching bands played all across New York City, the "Star Spangled Banner" playing proudly at every avenue. Confetti and ticker tape rained from every window, and flags and banners were waved excitedly. The United States Navy formed a great nautical parade and made a gun salute, and President Grover Cleveland made a rousing speech about this monument to America's founding values. As the great sheets were pulled free, Lady Liberty was revealed in all her glory, standing with her gleaming, lit torch like a new sun, her verdigris body shining brightly in the sunlight, her serene, knowing face framed by a magnificent spiked crown.
Only four people, far back in a more secluded area of the harbourfront, weren't cheering. They were the only people in the audience who knew that that was no crown, but a ring of horns.
"To think," Arkos mused as he munched on an Earth snack-- the vendors had called it a 'hot dog.' "All those people out there, cheering and enjoying their day, are cheering an alien goddess, and they don't even know it."
"It could have been worse, Captain," K'Nera replied as she leaned against the railing. "They could have actually been bowing down in worship instead of just cheering."
The thought horrified Arkos more than he knew it should Maybe he was prejudiced, but there was much about the Sikkorans' fanaticism that reminded him too much of the Penitents and their own crazed dogma. "Well, let's count this as a victory for rationality, reason, and all those other nice things, then," he said, scarfing down the last of the hot dog. "Adim, status report on your progress?"
"Ensign Sann and I have managed to isolate the temporal particles and have re-aligned the nacelles appropriately," Adim replied. "We're ready to return to our timeline when you say so, Captain."
He nodded. "We'd better be off then," he muttered. "I just know that the Department of Temporal Affairs is going to add hours to the interrogation if we stay here too long." He glanced back at the Statue of Liberty, noting how majestically the Sikkoran goddess rose over the New York Harbour. "You know...it really is a nice statue."
He tapped his comm badge. "Away team to
Four to beam up. Energize."
Last edited by ambassadormolari; 02-18-2013 at