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Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 595
# 11
01-10-2013, 09:15 AM
Personal log: Tylha Shohl, officer commanding USS King Estmere NCC-92986

"We don't even have a deck thirteen," I say crossly. The internal layout of the Tholian Recluse carrier is a complex tangle, artificial gravity pointing in whatever direction the builders felt convenient... we've marked it out into zones and sections, but conventional numbered decks are out of the question. Nyrik, sitting across the desk from me, looks as embarrassed as a Romulan can.

"It's - a term I have heard used, for that particular sector," he says uneasily. "I thought - I thought it official. The humans use it all the time, I know that much."

Nyrik is a civilian contractor, sent as a goodwill gesture from New Romulus; he is a thin, nervy-looking type, and just now he looks more nervous than usual. I suppose I can understand that. Here he is, aboard an alien ship, in the heart of the Federation - his people's traditional enemy - and I have to expect him to be stressed. But I also need the new modifications to my ship completed, and there are only so many allowances I can make. King Estmere has been in drydock in Earth orbit for nearly a month, now, and I need to be back on the front lines. Which means I need the reason why Nyrik's installation of the new fire control runs is taking so damned long.

"It's certainly not official," I say. "But never mind that. What's the problem with that area?"

"It is...." Nyrik looks even more uneasy. "It is... hard to explain. It is a matter of, of feeling. I am not the only person who... feels something.... And it is worse when I am alone in the fire control substation, and often I am alone, because that part of the ship is - is - is avoided." His voice is growing louder, and there's a high edge to it that I don't like.

"A feeling," I say, for the sake of saying something. "What sort of a feeling? - oh, never mind," I add, as he starts to look even more uncomfortable. "Computer. Cultural cross reference, human culture and the term 'deck thirteen'."

"Working," says the computer primly. "No specific reference to 'deck thirteen'. The number thirteen, in some human cultures, is held to be unlucky or ill-omened; buildings or floors of buildings may sometimes be re-designated to avoid using it. Cross references available with regard to Earth religion, Earth superstition, Earth pseudo-science, Earth timekeeping -"

"Stop," I order it. It will give me cross references all day, otherwise. I look hard at Nyrik. "Earth superstition? You're a Romulan, you shouldn't put any stock in -"

"I am a Romulan," Nyrik snaps at me, his face flushing dark olive with anger. Well, it's better than nerves. "I was a Subcommander Engineer before the loss of the homeworld, I have seen military service, I have seen action, and my fears are not groundless, Vice Admiral. If I say I have felt things in that place, then there is something there."

"But you can't say what," I say. I consider for a moment. "All right," I say. "When's your next scheduled shift in that substation?"

"0300 hours," Nyrik says. "The place will be... deserted. And yet there will be sounds that I cannot account for, and the computers will behave... oddly." His voice rises. "I suppose you intend to tell me that there will be nothing there to be scared of?"

"On the contrary," I say. "I'll be there."

---

"This is a lot of nonsense," Commander Lolha almost snarls. She gets up from her chair and stamps irritably around the main console. The rest of us watch her, all but Nyrik, who is absorbed in his work.

The fire control substation is a flattened, elongated cuboctahedron in shape; as with the bridge, the artificial gravity has been set to make its ceiling another floor. Most of it is empty space; in combat situations, it will be filled with photonic constructs, guidance and control systems for King Estmere's forward torpedoes. The Tholian thermionic torps have been removed, useful though they were, and now a whole new set of control runs is taking shape, to handle the more powerful Romulan hyper-plasma weapons. The fruits of our technology exchange with New Romulus... and I am itching to try them out, to give some Tal Shiar battleship a sharp taste of its own medicine.

Right now, though, my ship is in confusion, new systems being installed, old ones ripped out.... The unreplicateable components of the Aegis systems are on their way, now, across fifteen kilometres of space to the adjacent dry dock. Where they will be built into my other current command, formerly a Chel Grett cruiser and a mainstay of the Breen Confederacy, now the USS Bleak Midwinter. And it would be good to have one of those vessels in working order.

"I confess," Sirip says with cool Vulcan equanimity, "I do not see the necessity for our presence here."

"I want to find out what's going on," I say. "And the assault groups are all kicking their heels while the ship is in drydock, so you're best placed to make yourselves useful. Besides, this way I have a good range of different - viewpoints."

"Viewpoints, sir?" says Sirip.

"You and Nyrik are both Vulcanoids, with above average psi potential - if there's anything of that kind going on, you have a good chance to detect it. As an Andorian, and therefore the only one here who's not one-third blind, I can keep a sharp watch on any... conventional... sounds or movements. Lolha, as a Tellarite, is probably least likely to be influenced by anything, well, fanciful -"

"You got that right, at least," growls Lolha. "And two humans? Why two?"

"Dr. Beresford, because I want medical help and medical opinions on hand right away," I say, "and Commander Kleefisch because it seems to be human gossip that got these damn rumours started."

Soledad Kleefisch looks at me with a rueful expression. Like Lolha, she's a relatively new addition to King Estmere's senior staff, and I've not had time to get to know her well. She is slim and wiry, with dark hair and the light-brown skin which denotes a mixture of human ethnic groups. "I'll try to make up for it, sir," she says, drily. Her voice is low and almost musical in tone.

"A lot of nonsense," Lolha repeats.

Nyrik looks up from his work. "No," he says, quietly but firmly. "I wish it were so, but there is quite definitely a presence here."

"I am not aware of anything," Sirip says.

I look around, take a deep breath, feel the currents of the air with my antennae. It is strange, here... but only the now-familiar weirdness of the Tholian ship. There is the vague distant thrumming of the electro-plasma system, the faint sigh of the air conditioning... somewhere, not too far off, the sound of footsteps on the metal deck.... The lighting is low, subdued, warm-hued; the Tholian panels and data stalagmites glow with golden light. Nyrik touches a control crystal, studies the results on a panel, frowns. "This is..." he makes a vague gesture at the panel. "This is one of the things I mentioned, Vice Admiral. Every so often, the panel flickers, with something else on it - data overlays that I have not requested; there for a moment, then gone. I have run all the standard diagnostics."

I frown, too. What that suggests to me is a long-dormant virus program; some piece of Tholian info-warfare directed against anyone who might take one of their ships. Bleak Midwinter's computers are being swept molecule by molecule for similar tricks - because we know the Breen will try something like that. Has King Estmere been checked just as thoroughly?

"So that's it," Lolha says with a derisive snort. "A few simple computer glitches, and it gets talked up into - into stupid human spook stories."

"Do Tellarites have no ghost stories?" Soledad asks. She turns to look at me. "Or Andorians?"

"We have them," I say, almost reluctant to talk about them, here and now. "I remember, from my childhood, hearing about things like roof-knockers and storm dancers...."

"Oh," says Samantha Beresford. "Now, I've heard those terms, on Andoria, but no one ever explained them to me - can you?"

I shrug, and it helps to dispel my vague feeling of unease. "Folk tales," I say. "Roof-knockers... when someone dies, out on the surface, sometimes they come back to their home tunnel and knock on the door, or the roof, asking to be let back in. Sometimes it's just because they don't realise they're dead - sometimes it's for revenge, or desire, or some strong motive. Storm dancers, now, they are spirits that live in the blizzards, they lure people away to dance with them, and those people never come back...."

"Interesting," says Samantha. "Of course, hypothermia in humans can lead to all sorts of aberrant behaviour - paradoxical undressing, for instance, where sufferers actually take off the clothes that are keeping them warm. I suppose cultures from cold climates on Earth have similar legends - I can think of some."

"There's always a rational explanation," Lolha sniffs.

"Of course," says Soledad in that musical voice. "But is the rational explanation always the right one?"

"It would seem logical," says Sirip drily. Soledad turns her dark eyes onto him.

"Yet your culture," she says, "knows about survival after the body's death. Your katra -"

"The personality matrix of the katra," Sirip says, "is a well-known and documented reality. The katra is, therefore, almost by definition, not a ghost."

"Well-known and documented," says Soledad, "but I notice you do not say it is fully understood."

"Oh, spare me your human mysticism." Lolha rolls her eyes theatrically.

"So are there Tellarite ghost stories?" I ask.

"We... have some," Lolha admits, gracelessly. "But they're just stories, everyone knows that. Stories about, say, a grudge between two families, and one side keeps it up even after they're all dead.... Fanciful nonsense, nothing more." She turns a glare on Sirip. "We're sensible people - so sensible, in fact, some Vulcans didn't even believe we had souls at all."

"My culture is not immune to errors," Sirip replies with infuriating placidity.

I turn to ask Nyrik about Romulan ghosts, but he is absorbed in his work. Well, at least the argument seems to be keeping his mind off his troubles. "Not immune to errors, yes," says Lolha, "in the same way that a black hole is not immune to gravity!"

"Is it cold in here?" Samantha asks, perhaps just trying to change the subject.

"I think so," says Soledad.

"The ambient temperature remains constant at 292 Kelvin," Sirip says, consulting his tricorder. "Colder than I would wish it, but there has been no recent deviation."

"This is also something that happens," Nyrik speaks up. "A sudden feeling of chill. It passes... usually."

I frown. Data glitches are one thing, but environmental changes - or imagined ones - are something else. The air doesn't feel cold to me... but, of course, it wouldn't. "Take another scan," I order Sirip; and then, over the warble of his tricorder, I hear something else. A faint sound, something like a rustle, something like a slither. My antennae stiffen on my head, quivering, searching the air.

The sound came from above. I look up, at the floor/ceiling over our heads. My eyes narrow: there is something there, among the consoles and the EPS relays, that wasn't there before... or, maybe, I just hadn't noticed it before. Something black and shapeless, beside one console. "Wait a moment," I say. "There's something.... I'm going to take a look."

I run forward, up one slanting wall, do the now-familiar forward roll and feel my stomach lurch as gravity flips the wrong way around... and then I'm jogging across the ceiling, my crew's faces looking foolish as they gaze down at me from the floor. I dodge around a tangle of wiring, and I see the black thing, lying next to the console.

"Now how did that get there?" I wonder aloud.

It's nothing, really. It's just a shapeless heap of black cloth, coarsely woven, slightly shiny, frayed along its edges. Perhaps it is some sort of cover for the console, perhaps the noise I heard was just it slipping out of place, caught by some stray air current. I reach out to touch it... and I stop.

I don't want to touch it. Something irrational, intuitive, in the back of my mind is saying not to - and, suddenly, I am afraid, and I don't know why. Perhaps if I touch it, I will feel something unwholesome, something loathsome. Perhaps, if I touch it, it will somehow move again, slithering suddenly away from me - or, worse, towards me....

This is ridiculous, I tell myself. Get a grip, Tylha. I reach out.

Then I hear Samantha Beresford shriek, "Tylha!"

---

The cloth thing can wait; I sprint across the ceiling, back down the wall, and am at the doctor's side in seconds. The others are standing, confused and alarmed, looking in all directions. Sirip and Lolha both have phasers drawn. Samantha's face is quite pale.

"I saw something -" She stops talking, shakes her head. "I'm sorry. I don't know - what it was -"

"I saw nothing," says Sirip. "I was watching Vice Admiral Shohl, of course."

"So was I," says Samantha, "but then I saw something out of the corner of my eye, and I turned to look." She points. "Over there. It was just behind Nyrik - just for an instant. And then it was gone. I'm sorry. I was more startled than anything else, I think."

"Unfortunate," Sirip observes, "that no one is in a position to corroborate your observation, Doctor."

Samantha positively glares at him. "I'm not an idiot," she snaps, and pulls her data monocle off her face. "I have this set to visual record," she continues, holding it out to him. "Play it back and you can damn well see what I saw!"

I touch her shoulder. "Put the replay on a PADD," I tell her, "and we can all take a look at it."

Samantha looks at me and seems to pull herself together. "Yes, of course," she says. "Good idea... just a moment."

Her fingers tremble a little as she sets up the interface. While she's doing that, I look up at the ceiling. It's my turn to feel uneasy; the black cloth isn't there any more. "Did you see that?" I ask Soledad in a low voice.

"See what?"

"Never mind," I say. I should have worn a recording device myself, I think.

Samantha has the PADD ready; she taps the screen and the playback starts. I see myself walk along the ceiling - and the black cloth is there, then, there is no doubt about it - and then there is a flicker of light at the edge of the screen; Samantha's point of view whips round, dizzyingly fast in the replay, and we see it.

For a fraction of a second, just behind Nyrik, something emerges out of thin air; something that glows, that reaches out in all directions with tentacles of flame and smoke; something with a crouching, hungry, expectant air. It's only there for an instant - 0.31 of a second, Sirip tells us all helpfully - but it's quite definitely there.

"Run it back and freeze-frame it," I order.

It takes a little trial and error - Samantha's fingers are still shaking - but we have our picture, eventually. The glowing thing crouches, frozen, in its brief moment of existence. I look at the red-gold glow, the sparkles and flashes and jagged lines of it....

"Well," I say, "I think I've got our next angle of approach."

"Sir?" says Sirip. He actually sounds surprised. Good.

"Is it something you recognize?" Soledad Kleefisch asks.

"Not really," I say, "but it - sort of suggests something. Something, actually, we should have thought of." I grin. "We were talking about ghosts in our own cultures - Andorian ghosts, Tellarite ghosts - when we should have been thinking about the sort of ghosts we're most likely to find here."

Lolha starts to expostulate, but Samantha cuts her off with a "What do you mean, sir?"

"Tholian ghosts."

---

<There is no trace of Tholian computer viruses or other infowarfare attacks>, Lieutenant Dlyrene assures me in its emotionless artificial voice.

It's mid-afternoon, and we are in King Estmere's main computer room, the Tholian warfare specialist lying with its limbs extended over the central console, foreclaws caressing the control crystals, coloured fire shimmering on its crystal carapace. Not for the first time, I wish the Tholians were easier to read. Those flows of light and colour must mean something, must give some clue to the creature's interior emotional state... but it's not something I, or any humanoid, can decipher.

"We saw something very strange in the fire control substation," I explain. "It's - Lieutenant, are there ghost stories among your people?"

Dlyrene is suddenly completely still; colours churn and surge inside it, but its body is motionless. After a moment, it says <If I understand you correctly, Vice Admiral, I believe the answer is yes - in a way.>

"Can you explain?"

<I will try>, Dlyrene says. <Because Tholian consciousness subsists in high-energy electroplasma, there is a more direct interface between ourselves and our technology. We are not - I think the word for it is 'cyborgs' - nor do we form a collective mentality like that of the Borg, but we are - connected - in ways which your species is not. Aspects of memory, and even of personality, can be stored, shared, distributed. You may have heard some of us speak of the Lattice?>

"Yes," I say, doubtfully. "I've never clearly understood if it's a technological thing, or a religious one."

<It is both, and neither. It is the sum of the connected Tholian race, the architecture in which our memories live and are preserved. It is believed that the greatest of our species - the finest minds, the deepest and noblest thinkers - whether their physical bodies are functional or not, still live within the Lattice, guiding and shaping the minds of the rest of the Tholian race.> Dlyrene's foreclaws clash sharply together. <Sometimes there is dissension within the Lattice - but that is not of significance here.>

It might be my best glimpse yet, though, into the arcane internal politics of the Tholian Assembly. I lean forward, questions on my lips, but Dlyrene continues.

<It is possible, under traumatic circumstances, for memory or personality fragments to escape both the Lattice and the physical body. Any structure with compatible electroplasma formatting and sufficient storage capacity might - capture, I think, is the best word - a memory impression or personality engram from a dying Tholian and preserve it, in a sort of half-life.>

The fire control substation is packed with photonic generators, almost up to the standard of a full-scale holodeck... and all Tholian circuitry, Tholian interfaces. "So... our ghost might be a sort of piece of a Tholian mind?"

<Conceivably.>

"Why has it only appeared recently, though?" These damned "deck thirteen" rumours can't be that old....

<The personality fragment might have remained in a static condition until some changes to its local environment caused it to react>, says Dlyrene. <The recent installations of new equipment might have provided such a stimulus.> Dlyrene's foreclaws clack and clatter again; it seems agitated. <Vice Admiral, if this is the case, something must be done. The mind fragment must be in a state of such agony ->

Dlyrene stops, abruptly. I think for a moment about a mind, a fraction of a mind, trapped in the fabric of the ship, maybe knowing it's dead, maybe not understanding... I think about that and shiver. "Is there anything we can do?" I ask.

<Yes.> The whole bulk of Dlyrene's crystal body shifts in apparent unease. <Any Tholian should be able to interface with the mentality fragment and - and purge it. All that is needed is the correct interface. And the will.> Dlyrene shifts again. <I will need my EV suit. The force-field and photonic emitters which enable me to operate without it - also block my avenues of connection.>

The networked emitters function like an old 23rd-century life support belt, letting the Tholians run around unencumbered in our environment... or so we'd thought, at least. "All right," I say. "You're offering to do this... this thing... yourself, then?"

<I must>, Dlyrene says, <now that I know. It is an obligation, Vice Admiral. A duty.>

It says nothing more, but I think I understand. Not all duties are welcome ones....

---

"An exorcism," Samantha Beresford whispers to me. "Bell, book and Tholian EV suit." I don't understand the reference; I make a mental note to look it up later.

We're in the fire control substation. Dlyrene is standing by the console, looking more than ever like some abstract sculpture inside his white EV suit. Nyrik is with us, to work the computer interfaces, and because his sensitivity may help us know if this - whatever it is - has worked. Samantha is here to provide whatever medical help she can, if something goes wrong. And I am here... because I have a terrible feeling one of my crew is about to put itself in danger, and I can't bring myself to look the other way while it does that.

<Engaging comms interface>, says Dlyrene. The computer-generated voice is utterly unreadable. I look at Samantha: she shrugs. Nyrik is doing something with the Tholian control panels.

I realize I am holding my breath; I exhale, slowly and carefully.

Nothing moves in the substation. There are faint whirring, whining sounds from Dlyrene's EV suit. Samantha flips open her medical tricorder, and the trilling of that shatters the silence. "Everything seems normal," she says, but there's a doubtful tone to her voice.

"There's a lot of data traffic on the interface," Nyrik reports.

"I guess that's what we expect," I say.

I don't know what I expect. Vengeful ghosts? Crazed Tholian holo-projections? Dlyrene's EV suit to come apart in a shower of ectoplasm? The Tholian stands immobile; opaque, impassive, uncommunicative.

I look up at the ceiling. There's nothing there.

"Neurological activity is elevated," Samantha reports.

"Computer traffic is -" Nyrik frowns. "A sector just... reformatted itself. Several thousand kiloquads of data erased."

"What was it?" I ask.

"Unknown," says Nyrik. "Deleted files, erased some time ago... securely erased, in fact. There should have been nothing there but randomized bits...."

"Neurological activity... falling back," says Samantha. "Declining... continuing to fall... Now stable. Within normal range."

I have an obscurely frustrated feeling. A battle is going on... waged on a battlefield I have no way of seeing, with weapons beyond my understanding.

Dlyrene moves.

The EV suit shudders, skitters around on its long legs to face me. <The task is completed>, says the emotionless voice.

"You did... whatever you had to do?"

<There was a corrupted Tholian mentality fragment in the crystal substructure of the fire control computer. I have scanned and - > The voice seems to hunt for the right word < - reprocessed it. It is gone. Its suffering is ended. My duty is discharged.>

"Thank you, Lieutenant," I say.

"Yes, thank you," Nyrik adds with some feeling.

<You may expect no further manifestations>, the Tholian says. <I must return to my quarters now. It is necessary for me to meditate for a time.>

"Of course, Lieutenant."

Dlyrene scuttles away, its thoughts still a mystery to me.

---

Several things still bother me.

What did the Tholian do, to dispose of the - fragment? Dlyrene said "reprocessed" - what does that mean? Did it read the thing like a computer file, re-order and expunge it like any other piece of data? Or... Dlyrene spoke of personality engrams being shared, minds merging to exchange memories and concepts... Did Dlyrene subsume that mind fragment into itself, assimilating it? Did the Tholian eat the ghost?

And if it did... how much did that hurt it? To take in all the frustration and the pain of that lost fragment of a life?

I can't stop thinking, though, of worse questions yet. When Dlyrene's mind met the fragment's, on that non-space battlefield of data transference... which of them was the stronger? Did Dlyrene eat the ghost, or did it eat Dlyrene?

Would I ever know? The fragment would gain all Dlyrene's memories, all Dlyrene's personality traits... how could I know? I don't have the power even to see into a humanoid soul....

But this abstract speculation isn't the thing that troubles me most. I found one of the other Tholians to talk to, later, and asked it about Tholian cloth.

<Tholian spider silk is well known to the Federation>, it told me. <Textiles are not in common use in the Assembly, however; they serve little purpose to us.>

"Tholian spider silk is... very fine, though," I said. "Is it ever made... coarse? And dyed black?"

<I do not understand the question>, the Tholian said. <Silk can be coloured in a variety of ways. But there would be no purpose in making a coarse weave. At least, none that I can determine.>

And that was where I left it.

Of course, the substation has all that photonic equipment. And who knows how a broken Tholian mind-fragment might think? The temporary materialization of a length of coarse black cloth might just be a random product of a random thought. I can't find anything in the holoprojectors' logs to show that was how they were used - but any amount of data was changed or erased when Dlyrene interfaced with the computer, of course.

A random manifestation of a defective mind, created using the photonic projectors. Sirip would certainly tell me that's the rational explanation.

But is it the right one?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 146
# 12 Mayhem on Deck 13
01-10-2013, 06:59 PM
Ensign Maria Hernandez was preparing for a nice evening with her unofficial boyfriend. She was in the middle of changing her earrings when the red alert klaxon sounded. "Intruder alert. Repeat, intruder alert. Security teams prepare for immediate deployment."

Immediately Lieutenant Commander Hillel's voice filled her bedroom. "Security team Delta, thirty seconds to transport to deck 13. The Odyssey detects four unknown beings. Teams Alpha and Gamma, report to the forward and aft turbolifts on deck 13. Gamma team, standby for orders. Hillel out."

Maria felt something unusual on her left hand and realized that she'd stabbed herself with the earring. Now she had twenty-something seconds left to wire away the blood, change the skirt for pants, find some boots, and await transport to deck 13.

---

Lieutenant Gordoninejad was transported to deck 13 five seconds before his team per standard protocol. He checked his phaser and watched as Hernandez, Smith, and ra'Chang materialized in front of him.

The plan is to sweep forward to aft. "Hernandez, you are with me on the starboard side. Smith and ra'Chang, take the port side. Try and take the intruders alive if possible." With that, he turned towards the starboard hallway and examined his tricorder. "Nice shirt Ensign," he muttered under his breath.

Maria looked down at the blood streak going across her white blouse. At least the pants and boots are regulation.

---

"You can't be serious. We have five Doctor Herrington's onboard?" Captain Carter swept his hand over his bald head again, which was his usual nervous habit. This was shaping up to be the most confusing senior staff meeting in recent history.

Security chief Hillel smiled and calmly responded. "Preliminary scans confirm that all five of them are genetically identical. Unfortunately they are not all mentally stable or morally balanced. Gamma team tore the entire deck apart and found the body of a sixth Herrington, along with Commander Perry. Perry was a mathematician, in case you didn't know."

Carter ignored the comment. Of course I know my crew, he thought. "So we're still back to the first question - where did these replicates come from?"

Chief Engineer Jarvis spoke up. "As you all know, Herrington was our resident technology expert and a pretty well-known theoretical physicist. While you all were speculating I was reading his list of projects, and I think I've figured it out.

"His project called Optimizing Transporter Buffers seems pretty benign. Everyone has dreamed of the day when a matter transporter that fits in your hand can transport a runabout. Or at least that's what I'm hoping for. But I'd bet you that Herrington has been working on another breakthrough - the ability to clone living beings."

Counselor sh'Raul spoke up. "Are you serious? Can you imagine the ethical issues that arise if you or me can be transported and re-materialized twice? We'd have clones everywhere. And who knows if they'd be identical - after all, I'm pretty sure that some of my best research proposals have been wiped from my memory by the transporter process."

Jarvis stood up and straightened his uniform. "Transporters have been around for a long time, but we still can't duplicate life forms very well. There are all sorts of laws against even trying to do that, but more importantly, the problem is rooted in memory storage. Life-forms have ridiculously complex patterns. Our computers store the pattern and then re-materialize the pattern as soon as possible. That works fine because the pattern is never copied or transferred.

"We copy files all the time on the main computer, but staff logs and classified intelligence reports are child's play compared to the pattern of a life form. Closely-guarded research has shown that even a small copy error can lead to some serious problems. Simple plants that are energized and then re-materialized into ten copies usually end up with two or three copies that don't resemble anything besides Ferengi pond scum. But Herrington seems to have made a technological breakthrough."

Carter chimed in. "Ok, we have a working hypothesis that seems to match the evidence. I want to gather what additional evidence we can and put in a request for a court martial."

First officer T'Panna smiled and asked, "which Doctor Herrington are we going to charge with murder?"

"All of them," Jarvis replied. It makes sense that the original Herrington cloned himself, and the clone turned out to be mentally unstable. After murdering the original Herrington and Commander Perry, he continued to clone himself until Odyssey's sensors figured out something was wrong and sounded the intruder alert. One of them is a murderer, and the rest are probably just as insane."

"I share your sentiment, but our laws don't work that way," Carter sighed.

---

Four days later

Captain Carter was in his quarters, enjoying some quality time after dinner with his first officer and secret lover, Commander T'Panna. They were just about ready to retreat to his bedroom when the door chime sounded...and sounded again...and again.

Carter threw on a shirt and went to the door. Jarvis? "It's eleven at night. What is the matter?"

Jarvis handed Carter a padd. "I thought you'd want to know that Herrington spent some time in Transporter Room Two four months ago when we stopped at Deep Space K-7. What's troubling is that Room One was out for maintenance, so all personnel beamed to and from K-7 from Room Two. It's highly likely that Herrington stored the patterns for everyone on board, including you, sir."

"I'd ask you to come in, but I was just about ready to hit the bed. K-7 was before Section 31 hijacked the ship. Do you think that they could have got their hands on Herrington's research?"

It's highly likely sir. I still haven't been able to remove all of their backdoors into our systems, even after four months. If they can thoroughly reprogram Odyssey's computers, it's safe to assume that they have Herrington's research - and the ability to clone anyone on board this ship."

Last edited by superhombre777; 01-10-2013 at 07:22 PM.
Lieutenant
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 37
# 13
01-11-2013, 08:17 PM
"A ghost? You expect me to believe ... that?"
Bracing herself for a blow that didn't come, the Orion engineer nodded.
"Yes, Commander. There are no life signs in that area of the ship, no strange readings, but something on deck 13 has killed four crewmen."

"Probably just the incompetence of this crew," the commander growled. With a long, reluctant hissing sigh, she rose, her tail lashing behind her as she stalked towards the turbolift. "But, fine. I shall go and see what is going on. Return to your post, engineer Villa, and tell your crews to fear nothing on this ship except for me."

As she arrived on the desered deck, Rudiar growled quietly to herself. The alliance between her people and the Klingon Empire had certainly benefitted them, but some of these Klingon officers were just too incompetent to live. Literally, in several cases. There were no life signs down here, and none of the usual signs of an energy being annoying them. Most likely the crewmen had gotten drunk and killed themselves with their stupidity.

Ten minutes later, Rudiar found herself reconsidering that assumption. She had seen nothing, but her ears and nose has been twitching constantly as muffled noises and indistinct scents tickled her senses. Either she had given in to the incompetence that plagued the KDF, or there was something down here. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on the smells, picking out the one oddity amongst the stench of Klingons and the musk of Orions, following the odd trail until it led her to a blank stretch of bulkhead.
Releasing another growl, she turned to stalk back to the bridge and to leave this foolishness behind her.
Ears twitching as the sounds around her changed, Rudiar had only a slight moment to prepare before a sudden blow to her head sent her staggering. Lashing out blindly, the Ferasan felt her claws striking something, a few drops of green staining the fur on her fingers.
Ducking back instinctively, she felt the passage of something just in front of her face, a decaptitation strike that she had somehow managed to avoid.

Hissing, she pounced forwards, feeling something falling beneath her as she clawed frantically at apparently empty air, ignoring answering blows to her face.
Her claws catching on something, she pulled, part of a strange device appearing in her hand before a black and gray form appeared beneath her.
With whatever it was that had been hiding it destroyed, the intruder registered on the ship's sensors.
Grinning ferally, Rudiar shifted her weight, holding the interloper down, knowing that security teams would be here soon.

The intruder was, of all things, a Reman. Female, and without the weathered look that the rest of her kind seemed to possess.

Then Rudiar found herself flying backwards, struggling to come back to her feet as something flung her off the intruder.

Telekinesis, she reminded herself, remembering the few times she had fought Remans before.
Launching herself at the Reman again, Rudiar found an elbow in her face, followed by fists and feet in several sensitive spots.
As the sounds of the inevitable security team reached Rudiar's ears, the Reman had picked herself back up. Puasing only to kick the Ferasan in the face one last time, the Reman pressed something on a small device, vanishing in a transporter beam.
Lieutenant
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 38
# 14 Haunted: Part 1
01-13-2013, 03:49 PM
The day had been like any other, a few reports, a small diplomatic problem or two, one of them being settled with no small degree of berating and shouting at the cause of the problem, and maybe one or two personal letters. Krovennan had been relaxing in the Mess Hall with his lunch when Drehera appeared, the fiery-haired Betazoid walked towards Krovennan, her visor glinting in the light. Krovennan had been reading over a report when he noticed the Chief Medical Officer in the corner of his eye.

"Hello Drehera, is there anything to report?"

"Actually sir, there is, there have been rumours circulating around the crew about problems on Deck 13."

The Blacksabre-E, a modified Advanced Escort type vessel, had been filled with Vilscaran technology and design principles, including deck construction. Deck 13 was the bottom deck and contained little more than storage and a few quarters for lower-ranking crewmen. While not the best deck on the ship, there were never any real complaints about its condidtion until now.

"Drehera, you know rumours are not the most reliable of sources, and you've heard a lot of them before and not had to bring them to me. What makes these rumours so different?"

"May I sit with you sir? The details are...unusual and I feel it best kept away from the crew's ears for the time being."

Krovennan suddenly became concerned, Drehera was very difficult to faze, to request this level of secrecy told krovennan she had heard or seen something very troubling. Krovennan nodded to Drehera's request and the Doctor sat down opposite Krovennan. Drehera cleared her throat and took a deep breath before she spoke.

"The rumours are of strange happenings when on Deck 13, Environmental Controls momentarily near-freezing sections of the corridor, shadows at every junction darting one way or another, the feeling of a cold breath on the nape of someone's neck when no-one is there and some of the crew are complaining of nightmares of their own torture and even hallucinations of something watching from outside the windows in their quarters or in the shadows behind them in a mirror."

"Nightmares and hallucinations can happen for no apparent reason Drehera, you know this as the ship's Counselor, how are we sure these problems are connected and not just an effect of too much Synthahol or a bad day?"

"Well sir, the problems are all happening on Deck 13, so I decided to search it myself, and well sir..."

"What is it Drehera?"

"I can't explain what it is right now Vice Admiral, but something is most definitely wrong down there."

Krovennan suddenly became visibly conerned, Drehera seemed uneasy, incredibly uneasy in fact, he leaned forward to show they were no longer talking as Starfleet Officers of different rank, but as long-time friends.

"Drehera, what did you see?"

"Deck 13 is deathly silent Krovennan, even the hum of the warp core seems muted. Nothing moves down there, at least nothing any of my sensors can even detect. The lights flicker out for a few seconds, but the power grid says there was no interruption, same as the Environmental Controls, But worse still is the mist, a cold fog that rolls wherever the controls decrease the corridor temperature."

Krovennan was listening intently, this was sounding like a scene from a horror novel, but the fact his long time friend was stating this as reality made it all themore disconcerting. He listened silently as she continued.

"I got covered by that mist, and immediately felt I was being watched. I turned around to the source of my discomfort, and just at the end of the corridor. I saw a void in the fog, a solid shape, a tall man, I have no shame in admitting I was terrified. I stood there until I noticed it was getting larger, or to put it more accurately, it was walking towards me. I felt a feeling of intense loathing coming from in front of me, from that shape. I ran out fast as I could, I could see the void running towards the turbolift as I closed the door, I could hear it screaming on the other side of the door beofre I went up."

Drehera was almost visibly shaking, obviously the experience had distressed her greatly, Krovennan put a hand on her shoulder in an effort to comfort her.

"Calm down Drehera. We need to analyze this in a rational manner, could it not have simply been one of the crew members playing a prank with the holoemitters on the deck?"

"Thats just the thing Krovennan, look at these tricorder readings."

Krovennan watched as Drehera slid a tricorder along the table towards him, Krovennan picked up the deivice and cycled through the reading log. Even with his oubts of whtat the obvious connotations of this evidence was, even he felt a tinge of trepidation at the results.

There were no life signs on the entire deck, and no indicators of anything that could be used to mask them, as if there was nothing alive on that deck.

Krovennnan placed the tricorder down as he looked to Drehera.

"You know exactly what this looks like Krovennan. My scientific mind screams at me for another explanation, but I cannot think of any. It looks remarkably like what I saw down there was not a living creature. And before you ask, I checked the holoemitters, they haven't been used in weeks. It appears that Deck 13 is, for lack of a better word, haunted."

The realisation that this was the best explanation hit Krovennan like a freight train, he scrambled for another explanation, but nothing came to mind. He stood up, mulling over what this thing could be, but kept his expression neutral as his mind furiously worked away.

"You were right to keep this secret, we don't need a panic, evacuate and seal off Deck 13. Until we know what we're dealing with, no-one goes down there."

"Aye Vice Admiral, I hope you can think of something fast, such a move will undoubtedly raise suspicion and more rumours will spread."

"Keep them calm for as long as you can Drehera, even if you have to force them into a counselling session with you. The last thing we need is a panic."

Drehera nodded and walked out, Krovennan left his half-eaten food and went back to his office, continuing as if nothing had happened, when secretly, he was incredibly uneasy with this revelation.

How could he kill something that was already dead?
Krovennan Darksabre: Commanding officer of the U.S.S. Blacksabre-E NX-973484-E

I earned my Vet rewards with commitment, not cash.

Last edited by mrdarksabre; 01-13-2013 at 03:52 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,139
# 15
01-13-2013, 09:59 PM
[Just a crazy idea that popped into my head late at night.]

---------------

"Kenosis"



Personal Log, Encrypted. Captain Alexei Ivanovich Strannik, commanding officer of the USS Chin'toka.


Three weeks after returning to our own time the tense expression on my first officer's face told me all I needed to know. The padd in his hand seemed to pulse radioactively as he offered it to me. "Captain...we have a serious problem." The gentle Aenar locked eyes with me--or more accurately, posed himself to simulate the effect. It wasn't hard for me to imagine the long hours of practice th'Valek had put in to achieve what he did among races so dissimilar to himself. I favored him with a long gaze myself, knowing that while he wouldn't perceive my features in the same way as the rest of my crewmates, he would sense my energies and intentions just as he had since we'd roomed together at the Academy.

I reached forward, taking the padd, keying its contents open. My insides spasmed disconcertingly. Additional reports of a haunting on Deck Thirteen. Incomprehensible, inhuman voices--if they could be called voices--glowing figures...no doubt, the crew was on edge after confronting the Devidians in the Drozana system. And how could I of all people blame them? I knew their rattled nerves better than they could ever imagine.

I forced myself to control my voice--to even find a voice. "What about the sensors? Has anything registered?"

th'Valek shook his head. "No, sir. They wouldn't."

Of course not.

"Bozhe moi," I mumbled under my breath. "What about the witnesses? Has Dr. Sei looked them over yet?" I'm sure I could have found those details on the padd--but I didn't want to look. Didn't want to make the dread possibility real.

"Borderline--and frankly, if this is what I think it is, they've been smart about it. All of them previous victims from the ground strike team. On all but one of the 'ghost' witnesses, there are definitely signs of low-grade neural draining. You'd almost think it was an aftereffect--"

"But it's not."

"The only one who wasn't drained was in the arboretum." Th'Valek aimed another one of those long, silent 'looks' at me. "The rest were in quarters throughout the deck."

I slammed the padd onto the desk and let loose an obscenity. "I should've known they wouldn't let us off this easily. Let me off. I should've checked more carefully before we left Drozana!"

Commander th'Valek grabbed my arms. "Alyosha--this is not your fault! That spook Drake engaged the temporal device without asking your permission or giving us even thirty seconds' chance to check ourselves over for boarding parties while the triolic radiation had them exposed. And if Drake knows even half as much as he likes to claim he knows, then he would've known the risk to you, me, and our crew. He would've known that putting you at risk automatically would endanger the whole crew. He would've known the Devidians would go looking for revenge. I would like to say he wouldn't have put you in this position in the first place, but considering the dark little knot where his heart is, I won't go that far."

"And that's what tears me up!" I snapped. "Does he think I don't care about this crew? That I would condone the position he has put them in? That I'm like them? If he had any idea what it's like when I lose someone--how hard I try to bring them back--" It wasn't exactly choking up. I don't know how to describe the feeling, but it was there and it weighed heavily upon me.

"Commander--" My voice stayed just as sharp as before. "I'm going down there to deal with them. Form a team--but I am taking point. I want them to stay well out of range unless I call for them." I grabbed the synchronic rifle still sitting in my weapons locker.

And next to it...I crossed myself. God forgive me. "I swore I would never, ever use one of these." But I picked it up anyway: the ophidian cane. It weighed strangely in my hand as if heavier than any other object in the world--more real, more substantial, terrifyingly compelling. Right. Sickeningly right.

In my inattention I nearly pushed th'Valek aside--and almost jumped when his voice rang just two feet to my side. "Alyosha, you cannot be going alone!"

"I won't put you in the position of ordering you to stay away. But keep...the rest of the crew...away from them. Please. I don't want them going after anyone else beyond whoever they already have."

"Should I start setting up triolic enhancers?"

I nodded. My voice fled me. Go ahead.

th'Valek still understood. "Alyosha...are you sure you want to do this? You know it could--"

My voice was still gone. I know.



"No!" I gasped. They had gathered in the enlisted mess--and there was the evidence: half a dozen poor souls shuddering weakly, feverishly, staring at me as if...

My poor crew--they couldn't see their attackers. Not yet. But I could see them. I could feel them. Oh, yes--the Devidians were here, feasting--but as soon as I entered, they turned towards me--

Commander th'Valek's antennae poked straight out towards them, the hair on the back of his neck standing up--was he drawing telepathically from my reaction, or did his telepathic senses extend that far? "At your command, Captain."

I nodded. "Engage the triolic enhancers."

"Let them go!" I boomed.

One of the glowing forms broke off and shot towards me. "We hunger!" it hissed, though its mouth did not--could not move. It wasn't designed for that. "Would you deny us? You?"

I leveled my rifle straight at his conical maw. "I gave your commander the alternative before. And it's right here on this ship! You know it's here! Why do you insist on going after my crew when I can help?"

"And why do you insist on protecting them? What are they to you? We are not designed to feed from your device...you should know that! For centuries--millennia--you think we should have starved to death as a race, that every bit of our existence until the 24th century and the possibility of your device is evil?"

"I have sworn two oaths and that is enough," I growled. I didn't have time for the moral debate. I didn't need a tricorder to see how weak the victims were getting. Their eyes were still open, though, staring at me, wondering how I'd provoked this response out of the Devidians when they never spoke to anyone else. "And I will honor them."

I leaped up to meet him--I fired--he reeled back, spun, slapped the rifle out of my hand--

And made contact. "God help--"

--me! My voice died as I felt the surge--

"Alyosha!"

th'Valek's faint shout behind me, muffled as if underwater, confirmed my worst fear: I had flashed out of form.

The pain from the eidolon's claws was intense--such a tiny nick and yet so much more powerful and real than anything. Almost anything except the ophidian, alive and squirming now in my other hand, waiting for my command to strike, eyeing my crew, and I felt--

No! I screamed to myself, using the force of my fury to subdue the ophidian and push free of the ground--there was no sense staying down now that everyone awake enough in the room knew the truth. I raked at his face with my own claws, clumsy, for I barely knew how to use them. Mocking laughter emanated from the eidolon, an inhuman screech--

--that I well knew from my efforts to suppress my own natural reactions.

His hand encircled mine, grappling for pressure points, trying to force me to drop the ophidian, prying into my mind in a duel whose rules I knew nothing about.

"We found it underground in San Francisco in some kind of creche," the scientists were saying, "No idea how it got there. Looks recently hatched. We brought it to the Interphasic Research Lab here in St. Petersburg, but we think it might be sentient--"

I jerked my arm against his thumb, aiming for the weak point just as I'd been taught at the Academy, gave thanks that the trick still worked in my natural state. I pushed off against the wall, the ceiling--it had always been so difficult back at the Academy to hide my aptitude for microgravity navigation--and body-slammed the eidolon as hard as I could into one of his ravenous subordinates.

I shoved back too with my mind.

She crouched over my prone form, her eyes lit with concern as I spasmed, too weak to move--slipping away from the world, and she touched the top of my head--and so fast, too fast to stop, she screamed, her cry petered out into a whimper, and I suddenly shot awake from the potent mixture of energy and terror--I understood little of these people, so different from me, other than that they were people, however insubstantial their touch felt.

And how had I repaid her compassion? I didn't know how to fix it...the deed was irrevocably done. I withered again, this time not from starvation, but shame.


I needed no understanding of the eidolon's language to feel the contempt he aimed back at me.

I'd formed a visage for myself, mastered spoken language, become bilingual at that--and that brought with it the revelation of my name's real meaning. Alexei, son of 'Ivan Nomad.' John Doe, of sorts--my isolation out there for the world to see even though I now walked and spoke outside the lab with nary a second look from anyone else.

"Alyosha! Behind you!" Commander th'Valek's voice reverberated in my mind just as much as it sang out the reminder of another reality. I whipped around out of habit--I didn't have to; I didn't really have eyes, but the human mannerisms were so long ingrained that even now they didn't leave me even when the response slowed my reflexes compared to the...others.

The other Devidians.

The ophidian, however, wasn't so slow. As my hand lashed out, it wrapped itself around the umbral's neck--and squeezed. It didn't take long before the aggressor dropped. The others had been frozen by the spectacle, it seemed--and with that, th'Valek squeezed off a volley of shots...felled the intruders. Their poor victims started to fall--until I seized hold just long enough to lower them gently to the floor.

It was so, so terribly easy for me to sense the state they were in. I gripped the ophidian tight, forcing the energy out of myself in a process that doubled me over just as surely as what it must feel like to retch. I felt myself growing weaker and weaker until something shoved hard into my body, the impact strengthened by the triolic enhancers...

"The med team is on its way--you can stop now...stay with me..."

His voice faded away as I crumpled to the deck.



The first sensation as I returned to awareness was of the respiration-feeding mask over my mouth, breathing air and life--artificial life--back into my body. The attack victims--did they make it?, I sent to th'Valek. He repeated my words where Dr. Sei could hear, for I was too weak to resume my familiar form or even form sonic waves to mimic speech.

"Most of them," Dr. Sei confirmed. The Trill was the only other, besides th'Valek, who had known the classified truth all along. "All but one. I'm sorry, Captain."

They were still calling me 'captain'--so at least I hadn't woken up to a mutiny, or at least it didn't involve the whole crew.

I never meant for any of this to happen.

"I know. And the survivors do, too. They're actually saying they could feel your care for their lives. They send their thanks."

I didn't respond at first.

"They've all talked. They agree to keep your secret."

What about Chief Ruuim? I thought back--the Caitian NCO that had seen me lose control in the arboretum when all the stress of the Drozana mission had come crashing down on me.

"We'll talk to him." Commander th'Valek answered, this time.

I don't know. Maybe it would be better if I resign, as soon as I regain my form.

It had been one thing before the Starfleet scientists--or I, for that matter--had known anything about my race. I was just a curiosity then, and there hadn't been any objections to my entrance into Starfleet Academy, given my repentance for what had happened to my first childhood caretaker, and the creation of an alternate feeding device that had safely sustained my life ever since. But since the Enterprise crew had discovered the truth--it had been a constant battle with the bureaucracy to prove I wasn't a threat, to get things classified at the right levels so I could continue to serve quietly, behind my human form, without facing the contempt of my crewmates. And now, thus exposed...

It didn't really surprise me when th'Valek clapped me once on the shoulder. With the Aenar's unique mode of perception, appearance wasn't exactly an object. I almost jumped though--as much as I could with so little energy--when Dr. Sei took my clawed hand.

"After what my patients reported from their...experience," Dr. Sei said, as deeply impassioned as if she'd heard me for herself and not through th'Valek, "I'd say Starfleet would be losing a fine captain if you let this drive you away. Think about it, Alyosha."

Indeed...I will be spending a long time doing that. Normalcy might return quickly for most of the crew of the Chin'toka--but for me it will be a long time coming.
Christian Gaming Community Fleets--Faith, Fun, and Fellowship! See the website and PM me for more. :-)


Sig by gulberat. Avatar credit to balsavor.deviantart.com

Last edited by gulberat; 01-22-2013 at 12:06 AM. Reason: Research into Russian surnames showed Alyosha's surname needed to be changed.
Ensign
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 4
# 16
01-17-2013, 03:43 PM
Captin's log, stardate 50678.97

I have been geting some strange reports of happenings on deck 13. I'm sure it's nothing. No one ever gose to deck 13 anyway.... Unless it's important. But the crew insits that I take a look, so Me, first officer Jhral, and Lt.cammander Thyriss will go chek it out.

Captin's log sublemental

I found nothing out of the ordinary on deck 13..... except one thing..... I didn't think we had a replicator up on deck 13. Apperantly we do. Strange..... I think it was mouthfunctioning because I didn't ask for Choclate.....Or anything.....

Captin's log, subblemental

I decided to have another look on deck 13.... alone. This time, I found somthing very interesting: Devedeans. I don't know how they got on my ship, all I know is I'm going to do somthing about it.

Captin's log subblemental

We have succesfuly driven the devidians away from My ship. I don't think we'll see them for a long time!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 178
# 17 One
01-21-2013, 11:47 PM
LC36: ONE

Quote:
Captain's Log, Stardate 86787.54. The Lord English is currently exploring nebulae in the Hromi Cluster. The only incident of note is an impact with unidentified debris passing through a cerulean nebula. As our shields were off-line at the time due to nebulaic interference, we are en route to Starbase 157 for examinations and potential repairs.
===

Admiral Remus Lee stared at the container of metreon gas hanging on his ready room wall as Security Ensign Lutz waited at the door.

"It's open!" he cried, leveling his tetryon pistol at the container as Lutz walked in.
"Admiral!" Lutz shouted, struggling to maintain his composure as the tetryon bolts hit the wall around the container. "Commander Serket has completed the security report and would like you to review it as soon as you can."

Lee holstered his weapon as he took the PADD from Lutz. It was unusual for Aranea to send a subordinate to deliver the security report, as she relished personally handing the security report to him with a dash of Orion pheromones just to test his faculties. Lee began perusing the report.
"Armory informs that photon grenade supplies are replenished, assault squad shuttles report condition green... what's this?" Lee pondered as he glanced at a section titled Mysterious events on Deck 13. Lutz began squirming uncomfortably as Lee read the section allowed.

Quote:
At 0000J today, a Crewman Mar of Deck 13 reported a failure of the sonic shower. Since then, other malfunctions have been plaguing the occupants of Deck 13. These systems failures have ranged from simple waste extraction failures and replicator mix-ups to electroplasma shock and loss of gravity. Personnel on Deck 13 have also sighted various unidentified persons wandering the corridors. At 0800J, Deck 13 lost atmospheric controls; on my authority as security chief, I have sealed the deck and am assembling a security team to investigate the nature of these mishaps.

Commander Aranea Serket, Security Chief, USS Lord English.
Lee frowned as he checked his watch. 0800J was four hours ago; Aranea's absence most likely meant that her mission failed.

"Ensign Lutz, do you know where the security chief is, and why it took four hours for this to come to my attention?" Lee queried.

Lutz blanched visibly.

"Commander Serket went with several security officers into Deck 13, but the team became MIA. Their lifesigns are still active, but we're unable to transport them out. Commanders Taylor and Nethri are at Turbolift A-1 on Deck 12 to salvage the situation," Lutz replied.

Upon hearing this, Lee took out his Environmental Suit from the locker and strode out his ready room. Lutz began panicking as he tapped his combadge.

"Commander Taylor! The admiral's heading your way!" he shouted, before hurrying out himself.

---

Commander Kay Taylor braced herself as Admiral Lee exited the turbolift onto Deck 12 in full environmental gear.

"Admiral," she lectured, blocking Lee as he tried to wriggle his way past her. "Starfleet regulations prohibit the commanding officer of a starship to enter a potentially hazardous situation."
"Starfleet regulations also require the commanding officer of a starship to be responsible for the well-being of his or her crew, now let me through, Kay," Lee retorted, vainly attempting to evade his first officer while wearing a bulky EV suit.

Taylor began to glower as Lee kept trying to squirm past her.

"This is why Drevis and I didn't inform you immediately about this situation. We knew that you would pull a Kirk and attempt to rescue the security personnel alone. This is an unacceptable risk for an admiral to be taking."

Commander Drevis Nethri stepped in between the two quarrelers to defuse the situation.

"Now, admiral, Kay and I were only concerned about what would happen to you if you went into an unknown situation. We still don't know what's going on down in Deck 13. We've been able to rescue part of the security team, but life support and gravity controls are down. Aranea and Ensign Socci are still unaccounted for, and Lieutenant Velmer fell out of contact with us trying to reach them."

Taylor nodded contemplatively.

"The only clue we have as to what's occurring down there," she said as she held up a PADD, "is that every display, PADD, and console has the word ONE on it, and we can't clear the consoles to check their information."

Lee nodded contemplatively in turn as he inched towards the Jeffries Tube.

"Could this be an assault by the Borg or the Tholians?" Lee inquired.
"There hasn't been any sign of unusual Borg tech on Deck 13 or elsewhere on the ship. The security team noticed various unidentified personnel walking throughout the deck, but- Hey!" Taylor cried, as Lee slipped down the Jefferies Tube into the murk of Deck 13.

---

Lee slowly propelled himself down Deck 13 as Drevis guided him via combadge. Just as Commander Taylor said, every console on Deck 13 read ONE. Smoke billowing out from various devices made visibility close to zero.

"Drevis, can you give me a general location for Aranea, Velmer, and Socci?" Lee asked.
"They're all in closed rooms throughout Deck 13, admiral," Drevis replied. "Something down there is keeping them incapacitated. Lieutenant Velmer is a few meters in front of you, in crew quarters M-113."
"Roger that, Drevis. Lee out."

Lee made his way to M-113, forcing the doors open with a piece of paneling. Inside, he found Lieutenant Velmer being interrogated by an Andorian Imperial Guardsman.

"Where do you come from? Do you spy for the Vulcans? We'll see what secrets we'll pry from you before we turn you against the pointed-ears!"

As the guardsman repeated his inquiry, he noticed Lee, shouting the same to him before rushing at him, unhindered by the lack of gravity. Piece of paneling in hand, Lee shoved it into the Andorian's chest before using his thrusters to launch himself into the Andorian. Upon contact with the wall, the Andorian vanished. Lee recovered quickly from the impact, but was still dazed at the Andorian's disappearance.

"Drevis, Kay, did sensors pick up an Andorian intruder?"
"Negative, admiral, we haven't picked up any signs of Andorians, although to be honest, we can't pick anything up except for you and the other EV suits. There's too much background radiation to do anything except keep tabs on them."

"Curiouser and curiouser," Lee pondered, as he reconnected Velmer's air supply and injected her with tri-ox compound. She quickly came around, surprised at Lee's presence.
"Admiral! You shouldn't be down here! This is a dangerous place!" she exclaimed.
"Yes, I know, Commander Taylor told me all about the dangers of Deck 13. Can you walk?"
"That Andorian cut my leg with an ushaan before dragging me in here. My suit sealed automatically, but I don't think I can walk."

Lee tied a length of coil around Velmer's waist before drawing his compression pistol.

"Kay, inform the transporter room that I'm going to send Lt. Velmer out the window. Keep scanning for her lifesigns outside Deck 13, room M-113."

As soon as he finished, Lee fired four bolts into the window, shattering it and exposing the crew quarters to empty space. Lee slowly unwound Velmer out the window before she was transported to Sickbay. Lee made his way out M-113, shutting the door behind him. As he turned around, a Vulcan science minister greeted him.

"You seem to have had quite the journey. I hope that your experience with the Andorians have not soured your quest for knowledge. Live long and prosper, and may you find your way home," the minister said, before walking down the corridor.
"Hey! Tell me what's going on!" Lee yelled, but the Vulcan minister went on his way, vanishing into the smoke.

"This is some karked stuff down here, Kay. Are you sure you're not picking anything else up?" asked Lee.
"Negative, admiral, just your lifesigns, a lot of EM radiation, and a slow power drain."

---

What could this mean? Lee thought to himself as he boosted down the corridor. These mystery people have got to be involved in these events. In any case once Aranea and Ens. Socci are rescued I'll evacuate the chevron and tow it to Starbase 157 with the stardrive section.
Lee's inner thoughts were rudely interrupted by a Ferengi marauder dragging the limp body of Ensign Socci down the corridor. Unfurling his energy whip, the marauder flung several bolts of electricity in Lee's direction as he ran in the other direction, shouting "I can't make a profit with space trash! There's nothing of value here! Just useless junk!" Surging forward through the flurry of bolts, Lee reached Socci but lost sight of the Ferengi.

"Kay, Drevis, I've found Ensign Socci. He seems to be alive, but just barely. I don't think I can drag him to a Jeffries tube in time to save him."
"Admiral, if you can take Socci to turbolift E-1, we can be in place to catch him on deck 14."
"Copy that."

As Lee brought Socci to the turbolift shaft, Socci began drifting back into consciousness.

"Mao, Tojo, watch out for that Klingon... they're taking Commander Serket to Observation Room 13... What is that, some sort of space squid..."

As Socci began fading into unconsciousness, Lee unceremoniously tipped him into the turboshaft before continuing down the hallway. Lee contacted Commander Taylor again.

"Kay, can you give me any information about Observation Room 13?"
"Other than that Aranea's there, no. However, it is the closest room to where that unidentified space debris hit our ship, if there's any connection."
"Thanks, Kay. Lee out."

---

As Lee reached Observation Room 13, he was confronted by a flying squid-like entity, which screeched at him. Fed up with the shenanigans of mysterious beings, Lee lobbed a photon grenade in its direction. The squid creature escaped into Observation Room 13, with the photon grenade exploding impotently against the sealed bulkhead door. Swearing softly to himself, Lee attempted to open the door manually. As he prepared to place the emergency hand actuators, a Pakled captain stepped though the closed doors and greeted him.

"Do you need help?" said the Pakled.
"I am trying to find a friend, I think she is behind this door," Lee replied, his sense of incredulity having run dry.
"You are tiny," said the Pakled. "Can you still go?"

As the Pakled captain spoke, he pulled the door open unassisted. Lee became baffled as the Pakled reentered the room. Inside the observation room were aliens of all kinds, surrounding a sizable piece of debris embedded in a desk computer. Throughout the room, the word ONE flashed on all displays. Lee regained his composure as he saw his missing security chief restrained on the desk.

"Attention! This is Admiral Remus Lee of the USS Lord English! You are holding one of my crew hostage! Release my crew and vacate the premises or swift action will be taken!" Lee blustered.

In response, a Klingon warrior jumped down from the mezzanine. Pointing menacingly at Lee, the Klingon began elaborately waving a D'k tahg.

"Shooting space garbage is no test of a warrior's mettle! I need a target that fires back!" he shouted as he rushed Lee.

Having exhausted his patience long ago, Lee obliged the Klingon by blasting him in the face with his tetryon pistol. As the Klingon fell to the floor, parts of him began shimmering before fading out of existence. The other aliens began surrounding Lee and Commander Serket. As Lee contemplated his situation, a glint of light caught his eye. Lee's gaze fell on the debris embedded in the computer, a golden plate fused with a rudimentary processor.

In a fit of pique, Lee yanked the plate out of the computer. As the electrical charges faded from the plate, the aliens in the observation room slowly faded into oblivion. At the same time, power and life support returned to Deck 13. Commander Taylor hailed Lee over ship communications.

"Admiral, what happened? Power to Deck 13 just came back on. All the PADDs that had ONE on them are back to normal! Did you find Aranea?"

Lee responded in the affirmative.

"I ran into a little trouble in the observation room, but I think I discovered the source of the problem. Get Aranea to sickbay ASAP, and then send a few security teams down here to help clean up."

As Commander Serket was beamed off of the observation room desk, Lee sat down on one of the few remaining chairs in the room. Staring at the golden plate in his hand, he flipped it over to the processor side. Written at the top was the word ONE. Smirking a little, Lee wiped off the centuries of melted circuitry and space dust on the plate, revealing the words PIONEER 10.

===

Quote:
Captain's Log, supplemental. The mystery of Deck 13 has been solved, and with it the mystery of the fate of one of Earth's first interstellar vessels. In the years since its disappearance, Pioneer 10 had led an interesting life, making first contact with many alien species long before humanity discovered it was not alone. The sum of Pioneer 10's experiences manifested itself into the ship's photonic database, causing much (probably) unintended havoc with the ship systems on Deck 13. Commander Serket and the rest of the security team are expected to make a full recovery. A full report will be made to Admiral Quinn as soon as possible.
http://sto-forum.perfectworld.com/showthread.php?p=5629511#post5629511

Literary Challenges Entries- Star Trek Online: Lord English
Dramatis Personae of Star Trek Online: Lord English

Last edited by zidanetribal; 03-01-2014 at 10:12 AM. Reason: Formatting errors fixed
Former PWE Community Team Lead
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 9,046
# 18
01-22-2013, 04:40 PM
SpOoOoOky! Glad you all figured out what was going on on Deck 13 Really though, nice work! I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries.

I am going to unstick this thread as I prepare to post #37, but as always, if you still would like to participate, please do so.

Cheers,

Brandon =/\=
Brandon "BranFlakes" Felczer | Former Community Team Lead for Perfect World Entertainment
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