Lt. Commander
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 195
# 1 Hospital Pass (story)
09-02-2013, 01:34 AM
This tale is a sidebar to events in Sander233 and Patrick Ngo's excellent tales Pear Shaped and Road to Ruin. But it should also be readable on its own. Feedback welcome! Per tradition it starts with a song quote, commentary on another colony, by Split Enz.

Aotearoa, rugged individual
Glisten like a pearl, at the bottom of the world
The tyranny of distance, didn't stop the cavalier
So why should it stop me? I'll conquer and stay free

_Hospital Pass___

The images of two hospital ships glowed white among the angry red icons of the Klingon tactical console. Both ships were responding to the aftermath of a vast alien invasion on the little girl's planet, Moab III, an event that wiped out most of her city, Nha Thanh, over the last few days. But she and her little brother were safe in an infirmary tent now, thanks to a heroic Federation Starfleet officer called Jesu. Now it was her turn. She would have to figure out this console thing if she was to hold a hope of finding Jesu again. But she'd never used anything like this at the orphanage. The hospital ships' spherical heads, thin fuselages and outrigger warp nacelles reminded her of legging tadpoles.

"Focus!" barked the Klingon centurion. "You will need to communicate with the Federation soon. Starfleet officers are like your Moab deer, they are easily spooked. It is better they see you and not me. If they ask, you must tell them the Fek'Ihri invasion is over."

"Push to talk, right?" Nicci reached over from the oversized chair and twiddled the large red button without pressing it. Pushing it would be easy enough. Nicci wondered what the hard part might be. But she could also tell the Klingon had better things to do than deal with her. Most people did, ever since her mother died of the seizures. It made Nicci very good at figuring things out for herself. She chose this tent for her injured brother because of the radar dish outside. She volunteered to help talk to the Starfleet hospital ships as they might get her in touch with Jesu. Jesu, brother of Rusty, who had provided cover fire and an escape route that led her and her younger brother Petey to the safety of the infirmary in the football stadium. That was one Starfleet officer who was definitely not a 'Moab deer'.

Nicci looked across at Petey sharing one of the crowded stretchers close by. The Fek'Ihri bites on his legs were now properly dressed. He was thankfully unconscious. Petey had done so well to keep from screaming as she crept with him through dark alleyways, past flesh-eating alien horrors, to the stadium. That nightmare seemed fresher and more painful each time she thought of it. Nicci focused on Petey's shallow, rapid breathing. She prayed his injuries could be fixed.

The Klingon had barely stepped away when the console lit up with yellow warning lights. "Hello, I'm here. Can I help?" An image resolved itself of a hospital ship that looked to have been made from polished pieces of a shanty town. Not as weather-beaten as the slums around Nha Tranh, but clearly jury-rigged. It resembled a tadpole with mange. A grey-faced alien with frizzy blonde hair appeared on the screen, wearing an ill-fitting Starfleet uniform. "Hello? Is anybody there?"

Nicci was still trying to choose her words when the Klingon rushed back and pushed her roughly from her seat. "Nuch! They were two hours away! How dare they sneak..." He tapped on blank yellow boxes on the screen. Frustration oozed from every pore as he turned on Nicci. "Your planet's satellites are useless. Look at that image! You cannot even detect the ship's impulse drive. And what is that?" He rapped the screen with his knuckles. "One life sign?"

Nicci clenched her fists. Years of living in a human colony within Klingon space had taught her to hold her ground. "Do you want their help or not?"

"I do not want anything from the Federation." He lowered his fists. "I am sick of playing nursemaid to a field full of flimsy humans. Communicate with this ship and get them to work."

Nicci reached past the livid Klingon and pushed to talk. "We're happy to see you. Is your ship... okay?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Can you send down medical teams?"

"Sorry, it's just me. The others saw your war and returned to Ankari space."

One life sign indeed. Nicci glared a quick 'told you so' at the Klingon. But still, no medical team. "Okay. So why did you come here if you have no crew?"

""I am a hospital ship, and you sent a distress signal! And um, the Ankari set the ship on autopilot."

Nicci barely pulled her hand away as the Klingon punched to talk. "Who are the Ankari? Are they still in Klingon space? And for the... why is your ship so ugly!?"

There was a pause.

"This is Erred... I mean, Captain Erred, of the Starship, oh dear. The Ankari made it for me, I can't pronounce its name. The Ankari are my friends. Oh, I know - ask Captain Janeway, she met them!"

The Klingon turned purple with rage, yet still managed to thump out some commands on tne console. He took a small data pad and waved it by the screen before giving it to Nicci. "Take this. If you can get through that fool's thick head, have him beam up the crates at that location", pointing to the pad, "and open them. It's a little trick I learned from a Romulan named Nero. Fixes problems with hospital ships." He checked the screen one last time. "Let me know when the real hospital ships get here."

Nicci jumped eagerly into the drivers' seat as the Klingon stormed off. The big chair was hers again! "Captain Erred, does your teleporter work?"

"We used it just a little while ago. But now I have no transporter officer."

"Okay." She had two hours to fix things for the lonely pilot before the other ships arrived. "That will be our first step then."

* * *

It had taken some fast talking, but Nicci managed to find a transporter officer named Lawrence, with an arm in a sling and good contacts, who negotiated with an invasion-damaged ship called U.S.S. Tiburon to be transported to Erred's ship. The officer then beamed up a nurse, who convinced a number of people of the quality of the medical facilities on board. With wards and a makeshift crew rapidly forming, Captain Erred beamed down to meet Nicci in the communications tent.

Erred was humanoid, but not an alien Nicci knew, with his shiny grey skin and frizzy blonde hair. He blurted, "You have a lot of injured people in this tent!"

Nicci usually spent more time than this guy thinking about she would say. "Yes we do. That there's Petey, my brother. His legs got bitten. There are dozens of other tents like this too outside."

"I see so many humans, including you. Federation, right? Why did you invade Moab III?"

"No, Moab III has a lot of humans, but we're in a Klingon protectorate." Technically. Truthfully, they were in charge of their own destiny. Miss Governor Tran sort of said that on the news.

""But the Ankari said you were invaders! That's why they left! They thought you hadn't changed."

None of that made sense. These Ankari were not very well informed. And how could they possibly leave? Escape pods? To where? The Klingon reached that conclusion earlier, but Nicci had the patience to figure it out. "The Federation did not invade. They came here to Moab III to rescue us."" Jesu rescued Nicci. She still had to get back in touch with Starfleet, and Erred's mission seemed more and more like a detour.

"So if you weren't invading-"

"Demon creatures invaded us. Horrible, ugly, bitey, poison-y things. The Klingon calls them Fek'Ihri. One bit my brother on the legs."

"Something like that?" Erred pointed.

Nicci felt cold shivers through her body as she tried to follow Erred's finger into the shadows at the top of the poles at the other end of the tent. Then the hordeling's glistening eyes opened, staring straight at her. Its hide had been made. Nicci was too frightened to draw breath for her scream as the creature dropped from the ceiling into the aisle between rows of stretchers. Conscious patients on the stretchers screamed hysterically and scrambled to put space between themselves and the little horror. In an instant it recoiled on its haunches, then launched itself straight at Erred and Nicci.

Erred bent on one knee and held out a hand. "Slow down there little guy."

It slowed down. It even looked... puzzled.

The pause gave time for Nicci to find her scream, and she ran behind the console chair. The hordeling stalked slowly towards Erred. She never had such a clear look at one earlier, and its bristley, puckered, razor-sharp details were even more terrifying.

"Now now," continued Erred. "Why should you want to scare these people?"

That triggered a sudden look of comprehension from the hordeling. Its eyes lit up, its face spread out in an impossibly wide grimace full of teeth. It recoiled once more, this time with a whirr. Then it disrupted across the tent floor and wall in a slime green cone of viscera. The Klingon centurion signaled his return with a swagger, blowing imaginary smoke from the tip of his disruptor rifle.

"That is not," he laughed, shaking his head at Erred, "a pet. Now then, who, or what, are you? If that goes well, you may live. Otherwise," guesturing casually at the obliterated hordeling, "paste."

Before Erred could speak the communications console flashed with a red alert. The two shiny white hospital ships had dropped out of warp, but they were still at some distance. However a squadron of Fek'Ihri ships had come out of hiding, and rose from the planet's surface on an intercept course. Nicci punched to talk. "Beam up Captain Erred!"

Erred vanished. Nicci stepped deftly aside as the growling Klingon pounced on the console. He scrabbled with the keyboard, trying to understand what was going on. Meanwhile Nicci quietly picked up her sleeping brother in one arm. As the Klingon raised his arms with a growl of exasperation Nicci stepped between the Klingon and his console.

"Know your place human! I will make paint out of you too!" But the Klingon had slung his rifle over his shoulder, where it was not easily draw it while seated.

Nicci reached behind and pressed to talk. Time to get off this Klingon rock. "Now, Lawrence."

The Klingon was still foundering for his rifle when Nicci and Peter beamed away.

* * *

The bridge of Erred's ship was awash with patient-crew and medical staff seeking directions from Lawrence and Erred, and rushing off to carry out orders. The growing huddle around Erred mobilized much less efficiently. A nurse surprised Nicci from behind, offering to take Peter to sickbay. When Nicci asked how far away sickbay was the nurse offered to put Peter in one of the cots set up in the ready room next door. Nicci reluctantly accepted, watching Peter all the way through the door. She hoped the nurse would be gentle replacing Peter's dressings. Her thoughts were interrupted by Lawrence the transporter officer.

"Erred, we won't get into first gear without a tactical officer."

"Ah yes, perhaps the autopilot will need some help. Nicci - can we grab your Klingon infirmary friend? He's pretty accurate."

Nicci did not imagine that conversation going very well. "No, we can't. He's afraid of, uh, space."

"Oh." Erred seemed to struggle with that idea for a moment. "Okay, Commander Moore," addressing Lawrence, "who on board would you suggest could be our tactical officer?"

"Someone with the skills to take down a whole fleet of Fek'Ihri on their own? Dammit, Erred, these are doctors and patients! Not doomsday devices!"

Erred pouted. "Is there not one single person on board who is maybe just a little bit unstable?"

"Sure there is. I transported that one straight to the brig."

"Perfect!" cried Erred. ""I'll go get him."

"It's a Lethean prisoner of war! Are you mad?"

"Prisoner of war, you say?" Erred turned and looked accusingly at Nicci. "So the Federation is at war then."

"It's complicated," defended Lawrence.

Erred squinted at Lawrence, before shaking his head. "But he's not a criminal?"

"Well. He might be."

Erred double face-palmed. "This is not the Federation I read about! Seriously, you should read about yourselves. You could be so much better. Nicci, come with me. We're going to the brig. The rest of you, uh, find some people to stand next to these other consoles."

Erred was clearly not from around these parts. Nicci popped the question as soon as the lift doors closed. "Where are you from? You have a really weird understanding of Starfleet."

"I'm from Telsius Prime. Your maps show its location in the Delta Quadrant."

Nicci knew only that was a long way away. "Are you Ankian? Like your crew?"

"Ankari. No, I'm Telsian."

As they stepped out of the lift Nicci remembered the Klingon data pad, and looked up Telsians. "You don't look like the Telsians on here." She showed Erred a picture.

"Um, no. Well, you see, the Ankari thought the humans might not feel the way I do. So I had some surgeries done to look more like Tuvok. From Captain Janeway's crew. To make me more approachable."

"That name actually sounds Vulcan or something. Do the Ankari look more human?"

"No. Less than me. Actually, less than I used to look."

Nicci couldn't imagine wanting to look like a Telsian, or a Klingon, or anything other than herself, just so people would like her. But then she didn't need people. A quick look at the data pad revealed that Telsians were also very persuasive. Perhaps they were people-people. Not quite hordeling-people - that encounter had almost turned out far worse. Nicci wondered how Erred had lived this long trying to get along with everyone and everything. But she knew better than to say it. They reached the brig.

"That's the Lethean." Nicci pointed to the prisoner sitting on a brig bed. He was more alien than Erred, with teeth all over his face, but still a fairly familiar sight in this part of space.

Erred immediately deactivated the forcefield door. "Hello Lethean!"

The Lethean did not rise. "Bularet, if you please." Nicci had never heard a Lethean speak before. He sounded like his mouth was full of sand. "What do you want?"

Nicci interjected to speed things along. "Can you fly a ship? We need a tactical officer."

"Where are we flying to?"

Erred spoke up. "Um, we just need to stop some..."

"Fek'Ihri," interjected Bularet. "With a mock hospital ship full of patients and a pick-up crew."

"It's not mock!" decried Erred.

"It's mock. You somehow convinced some people, some Ankari, to build it for you using the limited data embedded in an Olympic Class auxiliary battery. Despite the fact nobody involved in your project had ever seen a real Olympic starship! And you did all this because of some Starfleet propaganda fantasy of being a Starfleet captain in a hospital ship. It's all mock."

Erred thought for a moment about Bularet's analysis of the situation. "Okay, it's mock," he conceded. Nicci realized Letheans really could read minds, or else they made really good guesses.

"Right then. I will need weapons." Bularet was looking at Nicci.

Nicci handed the Klingon data pad to Bularet. "If you beam those crates on board, don't open them. They might be explosives."

The Lethean shook his head slowly. "Seriously, I don't know how either of you lived this long. You could not hope to deceive anyone but yourselves." He stared at each of them in turn, before getting up from the cot. "That should not let that get in the way of a good fight. Let's go."

* * *

Back on the bridge the Lethean took his place at the tactical station. The bridge was now clear of all but the bridge crew. Erred saw one station still unoccupied, and waved Nicci towards it. She had no clue what it could do, but she knew she could figure it out eventually.

Not everyone felt that way. "She's thirteen years old, for heaven's sake," warned Lawrence.

"That's older than me," countered Erred cheerfully. "If you exclude hibernation years."

The entire crew was struck silent with open mouths. Everyone except Bularet, who maintained an animated and angry dialogue in an unknown language with the ship's computer as he simultaneously maneuvered it in the direction of the Fek'Ihri horde. The gob-smacked crew turned to Bularet one by one, the trepidation deepening on their faces. Even Erred noticed. "Bularet, is there a problem?"

"Maybe. Working on it."

"Care to share?"

"The explosives beamed up but got embedded in a bulkhead. I can't get them out without setting them off. But this ship's got some other tricks up her sleeve. Working on it."

"Great!" cried Erred, flashing a none-too-reassuring smile at the bridge crew.

Bularet put the Fek'Ihri on the view screen. They were some distance away, headed across the bow of Erred's ship on a bearing for the Starfleet hospitals. Suddenly they swerved to intercept Erred.

Nicci noticed Erred was now the one staring slack-jawed. "Uh, Bularet?" she ventured. "Why did they change direction?"

"They probably detected the Thalaron in our bulkhead and determined we're the bigger threat."

A strange nervous sound came out of Erred. He whispered to Nicci, "That's good, right? Better us than the other ships?"

"Only if they don't die second and third." Nicci did not think to whisper and immediately regretted it. Nonetheless, Erred smiled more abundantly than Nicci felt was rational, so she got back to poking at her console. Nothing seemed to do anything yet.

Once the Fek'Ihri horde closed within ten kilometres Bularet launched a volley of glittering torpedoes; the horde responded with a constant barrage of red beams. She bridge shook slightly, and Nicci hung on to the arm rests. Without warning a vast ultraviolet rift opened up in the middle of the horde. The Fek'Ihri tried to speer away from it, but it sucked particles from their hulls, dragging them back in. The anomaly grew to fill the viewscreen dead ahead. Despite their predicament, the Fek'Ihri did not stop shooting.

"That looks bad," opined Erred. Erred's ship accelerated directly towards the cluster Fek. "That... feels bad too now."

"Shields at thirty-five percent and falling fast," added Lawrence, with air of resignation.

Bularet explained. "The gravity singularity is intentional. We created it. Now, if we go really fast there is a good chance we can pass the enemy before our front shields fail. Nothing to worry about." Range decended under three kilometres.

"But we'll be crushed by that... purple thing!" cried Erred.

"We've got a spherical hull," the Lethean pointed out. "It was obviously built to handle pressure."

"Obviously?" Erred looked around furtively as the ship began to creak and groan. One and a half kilometres.

Nicci leaned over to whisper to Erred. "Are pressure and gravity the same thing?"

"I hope so," breathed Erred, biting his lower lip. Five hundred metres.

Communications beeped. "The gravity is condensing our warp plasma. If we don't eject it-"

"Do it!" screamed Nicci. Erred spun around, surprised at Nicci's outburst. He gave her an encouraging smile, then directed his eyes back to the screen just as the first Fek'Ihri ship filled the viewscreen and crumpled. Bularet swerved hard, barely missing the Fek'Ihri scrum. Competing gravities and dampeners turned the bridge into a hamster ball, the bridge officers clinging to the arm rests of their station seats for dear life. Then for a moment the ship hung at the point of falling back into the singularity, before a cascade of warp core explosions ripped through the rear shields and launched Erred's ship to safety. Consoles sputtered and fizzed at the internal damage. Jets of fire retardant quickly created little clouds where they were needed most. Last of all, a rational sense of 'up'and 'down' was restored.

As the bridge crew picked themselves up, Bularet switched the view screen to the rear. Somewhere in a fog of coalescing green warp plasma the last of the Fek'Ihri warp cores detonated. "Obviously built to handle the pressure," he noted, as the blood returned to his knuckles.

* * *

There is definitely room for an epilogue. Does Nicci find her Jesu? Will Erred get a Starfleet commission? Should Lawrence find a safer workplace? Will it ever be possible for a Fed ship to have a Lethean on the bridge? Frankly we might never know, but conjecture is welcome Thanks for reading!

Last edited by milandare; 09-02-2013 at 02:07 AM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,081
# 2
09-02-2013, 03:48 AM
It's a good start. There's more you can bring to this.
"when you're out of Birds of Prey, you're out of ships."

Look into Vanilla PvP if you're tired of the endless pursuit of grind, utterly unbalanced selections of geardo-inspired traits, and generally unbalanced and careless 'development' made mostly to turn this game into a second job.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,677
# 3
09-02-2013, 06:40 AM
It had some really nice pieces, and I loved how the ship was a facsimile
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 195
# 4
09-03-2013, 08:36 PM
Thanks Patrick and Marcus! I love to write but have struggled to find time in the last 3 years. And a thanks to Sander for permission to include Nicci in the story. He also provided some ideas for possible developments which are just hinted at here so far.

I definitely want to bring more to this, any suggestions are welcome. My first paragraph is not "must read" stuff. The ending is just a break, perhaps a catchy last line but that fails to bring closure to anything, such as the trepidation on the bridge or even just bookending with the ongoing 'Search for Jesu'. Maybe I'll edit (maybe I shouldn't) but for sure I'll write another episode.

I'd like to explore the limits of kindness and naivete in a cynical, violent quadrant. The goal is not a meta comparison of TOS philosophy and DS9 grit (although I think about that). I don't want it to be cartoonish. Nicci should come across as a 13-year-old street urchin girl, which I am not. So I do welcome criticism

I hope to write more this weekend, maybe post next week.

Last edited by milandare; 09-03-2013 at 08:38 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,081
# 5
09-04-2013, 12:46 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by milandare View Post
Thanks Patrick and Marcus! I love to write but have struggled to find time in the last 3 years. And a thanks to Sander for permission to include Nicci in the story. He also provided some ideas for possible developments which are just hinted at here so far.

I definitely want to bring more to this, any suggestions are welcome. My first paragraph is not "must read" stuff. The ending is just a break, perhaps a catchy last line but that fails to bring closure to anything, such as the trepidation on the bridge or even just bookending with the ongoing 'Search for Jesu'. Maybe I'll edit (maybe I shouldn't) but for sure I'll write another episode.

I'd like to explore the limits of kindness and naivete in a cynical, violent quadrant. The goal is not a meta comparison of TOS philosophy and DS9 grit (although I think about that). I don't want it to be cartoonish. Nicci should come across as a 13-year-old street urchin girl, which I am not. So I do welcome criticism

I hope to write more this weekend, maybe post next week.
One method to help with developing Nicci as a character, is to remember that Moab III has a majority language. it's not the best translator in the universe, but it's a decent shortcut.
"when you're out of Birds of Prey, you're out of ships."

Look into Vanilla PvP if you're tired of the endless pursuit of grind, utterly unbalanced selections of geardo-inspired traits, and generally unbalanced and careless 'development' made mostly to turn this game into a second job.
Career Officer
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 3,512
# 6
09-04-2013, 01:55 AM
I really loved this story, and I think Nicci would make a great addition to Captain Airhead's - I mean, Erred's - crew as a comm officer.

As for Nicci's search for Jesu, I'm kinda hoping to leave that an open wound for him, not ever finding out if Nicci and Peter ever made it to safety. You might have made that easier for me, by evacuating them off-planet before they could've been counted among all the refugees.

But I think leaving her, though safe, constantly searching the stars for the officer who saved her and her brother, but never finding him, would add a great extra tragic hook for her as well.

"Look at all the pretty lights!"

The Masterverse Timeline / Ten Forward Fanfics
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,081
# 7
09-04-2013, 02:03 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by sander233 View Post
I really loved this story, and I think Nicci would make a great addition to Captain Airhead's - I mean, Erred's - crew as a comm officer.

As for Nicci's search for Jesu, I'm kinda hoping to leave that an open wound for him, not ever finding out if Nicci and Peter ever made it to safety. You might have made that easier for me, by evacuating them off-planet before they could've been counted among all the refugees.

But I think leaving her, though safe, constantly searching the stars for the officer who saved her and her brother, but never finding him, would add a great extra tragic hook for her as well.
agreed. Hell, it leaves something else open-the possibility of it taking 20 or 30 years for her to find him...
"when you're out of Birds of Prey, you're out of ships."

Look into Vanilla PvP if you're tired of the endless pursuit of grind, utterly unbalanced selections of geardo-inspired traits, and generally unbalanced and careless 'development' made mostly to turn this game into a second job.
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