~~~ ~~~~ ~~~
“Okay, buddy, hands were we can see them,” the man ordered Sergeant McKendrey. “This is a restricted area.”
“Whoa. Take it easy, Petty Officer,” he couldn’t read the name tag, “I’m part of the security detail. I have full access to the entire ship.” He could see the man’s phaser was set to heavy-stun. Good. He was afraid they had shoot-to-kill orders.
The man laughed menacingly, “Not any more, you don’t.” He looked at the woman, “Tell the boss we got the last one.” With his free hand, he began to pat the Marine down for weapons. His partner made a rookie mistake and lowered her weapon to pull out her data PADD. McKendrey made his move, and almost immediately made a huge mistake of his own.
He grabbed the man’s right wrist, forcing the phaser down and away, and turned to elbow him in the solar plexus. His next move would have been to twist the weapon hand up, around, and behind his opponent to disarm him. The problem was, he realized a moment too late, the man was an ethnic Orion. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of Orions live and work an honest life, and many serve honorably in Star Fleet and even the Police Force. They must pass a rigorous back-ground check, of course, but so does anyone from any other planet. The immediate problem at hand is Orion anatomy. Unlike humans, a blow to the gut will not stun an Orion.
The Orion was also much stronger than he looked, as the Marine discovered by being wrapped up in a bear hug. In an attempt to move to Plan B, he tried to drop to his knees and body-throw his opponent. He found himself being lifted high in the air and expected to be slammed to the deck. McKendrey threw his head back and heard a satisfying snap of teeth breaking, and kicked down and back with both feet hard into the man’s left kneecap. His left arm slipped loose from the vice-grip hold. It was an awkward move, but was able to punch the petty officer once, twice, three times in the side just below the ribcage. That is how you stun an Orion: in the side, not the gut.
McKendrey broke free and landed on his feet. He turned and swung a haymaker of a punch, only to have his hand caught inches away from the target. This guy was a brawler. He smiled a bloodied smile and began to crush the Marine’s fist in his. Out of the corner of his eye, McKendrey saw the woman had recovered from her surprise and was pointing her phaser at them, waiting for a clear shot. As the Marine was free from her partner, she fired. And missed. McKendrey dropped to the floor as she pulled the trigger. The energy beam brushed the seat of his pants; it felt like fire and electricity at the same time. By dropping out of the way, he allowed her shot to hit her partner in the lower torso, making him wonder if she aimed low on purpose.
The Orion’s phaser fell conveniently close to the Marine’s non-dominate hand. He grabbed in and rolled behind the command chair as she fired again. He reached around the chair and took a blind shot at where he thought she was. The thud told him it worked. Quickly, he checked to make sure they were still breathing. He rolled the man on his side so as to prevent him from drowning in his own blood. As he scooped up the second phaser and the woman’s data PADD, he heard or rather felt the approaching turbolift cars.
That was another thing about the Gendarme
; the turbolifts were noisy. His quarters on the Magnum
shared a bulkhead with the main turbolift horizontal corridor, and he never felt it. He could feel the Gendarme
’s lifts practically anywhere on the ship. This felt like two cars, both moving towards the aft of the ship. He had to move fast.
~~~ ~~~~ ~~~
The bridge of the Magnum
was in total chaos. As Ensign Tillman was pulling the sensor tech to the floor, the three Marines sprang into action, more due to trained reflex than conscious thought. Lieutenant Zychowski grabbed the ship’s captain, pulled him from his command chair, and moved him to the far side of the bridge. Likewise, Gunnery Sergeant Hawthorn pushed Lieutenants Kingsley, Maida, and Dupree through the door and into the corridor. Private Dewitt was actually the first to move, placing himself between the two women and the helm station. He had his cuffs out before McAllister hit the floor.
Tillman grabbed the back of the unconscious woman’s collar slowing her fall to the floor. Instinctively, she reached to wipe the spittle off her face but stopped herself. She moved to the now-vacant command chair and stopped it from spinning. She jabbed at the control panel on the arm. “Medic to the bridge! Medic to the bridge! Bring a combat kit!”
Lieutenant Bin-Yi Xiong, the intelligence office and thus McAllister’s immediate superior, exclaimed, “What the hell, Ensign? Have you gone mad?” He started to move towards the women, unsure whether to attack the crazed officer or to render aid to her victim.
Private DeWitt blocked his path. “Don’t touch them, sir,” he ordered.
“Did she spit on anyone else?” Tillman asked as she began pulling her uniform shirt off. Subconsciously she was thankful that she had a tee-shirt on underneath, but at the moment it wouldn’t have mattered if she hadn’t. Using the shirt as a blotter, she dabbed the spit off her face and neck. It burned. She had to be careful not to wipe and thus spread it. “Did anyone else get spit on?” she demanded. Her hands began to shake. Everyone else indicated they had not.
The door nearest her opened, and Corpsman Earnest Jefferson entered briskly. He had the medical scanner in his hand; Tillman snatched it away and ran it over her face and arms. Her vision was starting to get blurry, but she could still see the indicator lights. Just as she suspected. She tossed the device away with a flip of the wrist; Private DeWitt caught is easily. The ensign grabbed the corpsman’s go-bag and clawed at the flap. She pulled a smaller bag out and ripped that open revealing several cylindrical objects. Using her teeth to pull the protective cap off one, she jammed the end into the back of her thigh. She clinched her jaw as the needle sank deep into muscle tissue. She rolled McAllister face-down and administered two auto-injectors, one into each check of her buttocks.
Sinking to the floor, she pointed at the drool and vomit McAllister had deposited on the deck. “Don’t touch that,” she panted. “Get a Haz-Mat clean-up kit.” As she leaned over and added her own vomit to the mess, she heard Isenberg order the bridge cleared and transfer to Auxiliary Control. She tried to sit back up, only to fall over to the other side. Darkness took her.
~~~ ~~~~ ~~~
Sergeant McKendrey knew he couldn’t go back out towards the stairs, not without confronting whoever it was on the turbolift. His only option was to turn left as he exited the Emergency Bridge and move further aft. There was only one more compartment that direction, the impulse engine bay. It wasn’t a dead-end for someone who had studied the ship’s layout. He entered, looked around to see nobody inside, and looked up to see no one above on the perforated floor on the second level.
Quickly, he climbed a ladder and lifted a trap door, pulling himself up to Deck Four. He entered a man-lock that separated the impulse engine bay from the main engineering control center. There in one of the lockers he found an engineer’s thermal jacket, which protected the wearer from heat as well as cold, and put it on. He opened the door and crossed the control room as if he belonged there. McKendrey noted that there were only two technicians on-duty, neither of which looked up as he walked by. He exited and turned to climb another flight of the spiral staircase. This brought him out near the brig. Above him, he heard someone entering the stairs. “Move it!” a voice demanded of its prisoner. From around the corner, the Marine heard another unfriendly voice. Again, he was caught in a pickle. And once again, his knowledge of the ship allowed him to escape.
He moved quickly the two meters that left him exposed to view and entered the air conditioner systems compartment. He maneuvered under the ductwork and crawled into the vertical shaft that ran alongside the staircases. By regulations, he should have had a safety harness on. Oh well. He climbed up to the Deck Two and found an inspection panel. He opened it just a crack, and could see into the gymnasium. There were about forty crewmembers sitting or lying on the floor, their hands bound behind their back.
Briefly, he considered shooting the guards, but there was no way to guarantee he could get all four of them before one shot him back. It was a long way down to the bottom of the shaft. Even if he could get them all, there was no easy way out of the shaft to the gym; he’d have to go up yet another level to get out. Time for Plan B. He started climbing back down the shaft. Or maybe it was Plan F. He was running thru the alphabet and didn’t want to think about what happens when Plan Z failed.
~~~ ~~~~ ~~~