The rumble through the deck plates was different than that of a conventional weapons impact, but that made it no less troubling. Alarm klaxons began to wail in protest as telltales at the Engineering panel and Master Systems Display began flashing red.
“Report,” Lar’ragos called in a purposely steady voice.
“Explosion in Sickbay,” came the reply from Lieutenant(j.g.) Lascomb staffing the Engineering console. “Containment fields are in place around the periphery on Deck 5, but power levels are dropping. Whatever’s causing this is still generating additional destructive power in the kiloton range.”
Juneau called up a damage control display on her interface. “We’ve…” her voice caught in her throat for an instant before she could vocalize, “we’ve lost all of Sickbay, including specialty wards and surgical units.” Juneau immediately toggled the intraship, announcing, “This is the XO. Damage control teams don protective gear and stage on Deck Five, sections Fifteen and Sixteen-Baker. Be advised, Sickbay has been destroyed, so all casualties will need to be brought to secondary medical staging areas for treatment.”
On the main viewer, Masada
was making a last ditch sprint towards Iasobel VI’s rings, still firing torpedoes sporadically in her wake.
Lar’ragos knew he was about to surrender their single greatest advantage, but the alternative was potentially losing much of the ship to this inexplicable internal firestorm. “Reroute auxiliary power from the sensor pod to shoring up the containment fields surrounding the fire on Deck 5.”
“Aye, sir,” came the immediate acknowledgement. “Containment fields are stabilizing, but the power drain is still enormous.”
Lightner pitched Europa
hard over to avoid the first of three photons that were now targeted directly on them thanks to Masada’s
abused sensors clearing. The final two torpedoes of the salvo corrected course, slamming against Europa’s
forward shields with a staggered double-jolt through the ship’s spaceframe.
“Forward shields down to seventy-four percent,” Tiedermeyer advised as he continued to pummel the escort with phaser blasts.
Another volley of torpedoes arced towards Europa
, this time quantums, identified by their brilliant light blue radiance. Lightner attempted another evasive roll, duping the first missile into detonating prematurely, but again the other two reacquired their target and plowed into the explorer’s shields.
Accompanying the crashing shield impact was a hollow thumping sound that veterans among the crew recognized immediately as a hull breach. An instant later, Lascomb corroborated it from the Engineering board. “Hull breach, port side. Deck 6, Gamma section. They hit us right where that Ferou beam pierced the hull, blew out the emergency patch.” She tapped through a number of diagnostic screens. “Explosive decompression only, no warhead detonation.”
At Science, Shanthi glanced up from his console to say, “That second torpedo passed right through our shields, Captain. It was generating some kind of chronometric field, like it was in a state of temporal flux."
A chill ran the length of Lar’ragos spine as his well-honed survival instinct shifted into overdrive. “Tiedermeyer, get a security team down there.” He looked over his shoulder. “Tell them to bring heavy weapons.”
Lar’ragos looked back to the viewer to see the Defiant
-class ship completing a sharp half-impulse one-eighty spin to bring her forward phaser cannons to bear.
“Load quantums,” Lar’ragos breathed. “We’re ending this now.”
Deck 6, Gamma Section, USS Europa
Parlan clambered free from where the torpedo casing had come to rest, paying no heed to the thin atmosphere that was still leaking through the now semi-permeable containment fields struggling to cover the re-breached wound in the ship’s hull.
Despite their being purely decorative, he removed his gold-rimmed eyeglasses from their protective case and put them on, before running his hands over his 18th century shirt, vest and pants to smooth out the wrinkles.
Once he was well away from the torpedo, cybernetic tubules snaked out from its casing to penetrate the surrounding bulkheads, searching out EPS conduits and ODN nodes. The tubules infiltrated both systems and began downloading hyper-advanced adaptive malware into Europa’s
data and power networks.
Self-replicating protein chains invaded the ship’s bio-neural circuitry, while cyberpathogens corrupted data files, rewrote secondary and tertiary power distribution command hierarchies, and began efficiently shutting down Europa’s
weapons, defenses, and propulsion systems.
The combined Starfleet Security and Marine squad approached the stricken area, trailed by a hastily assembled damage control team. Multiple tricorders trilled in concert as they scanned for any kind of anomalous signatures, such as the unexploded warhead of a quantum torpedo.
Power waveguides sparked and sizzled as the corridor lighting flickered, casting eerie shadows and darting wraith-like reflections across the bulkheads.
The sound of rending metal spurred the personnel ahead double time, where they carefully edged around the corner of a T-intersection. Their rifle mounted lights illuminated an unimpressive, bespectacled man in anachronistic clothing standing just outside a pressure door that had been peeled apart as though made of paper.
“Don’t move!” the ranking officer shouted. “Get down on the deck!”
The man removed his glasses and made a show of cleaning the lenses with the bottom corner of his shirt. “Well,” he asked in a soft voice, “which is it? I’ll have to move in order to get on the deck.”
“Get down, now!”
two of the security officers bellowed in unison.
“You first,” the man replied with a mischievous smile.
A stun bolt flared from the emitter of a Marine’s rifle, but the discharge was intercepted by some kind of forcefield scant millimeters from the man’s body.
By way of reply, vent-like slits on Parlan’s neck opened soundlessly. These weapons ports disgorged a whistling flurry of tiny explosive flechettes. The micro-missiles swarmed towards the security squad so quickly that they had barely any time to react. Two errant phaser pulses were all they managed before the projectiles struck, piercing only areas of exposed flesh.
The resulting explosions blasted bodies apart in a horrific spray of blood, bone, shreds of uniform and assorted organic tissue.
Parlan sniffed with mock irritation, donned his glasses once again, and strode onward through the gore-spattered corridor which had contained a dozen men and women only seconds before.