Tales of the USS Bluefin: "Survivor"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by TheLoneRedshirt, May 25, 2020.

  1. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Tales of the USS Bluefin: “Survivor”

    Author's note: This story takes place shortly after the events of “Through a Glass, Darkly.”

    Stardate 53853.6 (8 November 2376)
    USS Bluefin NCC-4458


    Ship's Gym

    Commander Inga Strauss watched in rapt fascination as Lt. Commander T'Ser and Senior Chief Solly Brin warily circled each other on the workout mat. Both wore white ghis suitable for freedom of movement and relative comfort in martial arts training.

    T'Ser and Brin were the two physically strongest members of the crew. Brin had the advantage in overall size and experience, while T'Ser held an edge in speed.

    Strauss originally planned to work out on one of the grav-cycles, but had become curious when she saw who was sparring. She stood by Petty Officer First Class Steiner, the Bluefin's weapons and ordinance expert, himself a former Marine and master of several forms of martial arts. Steiner was also an instructor, along with Senior Chief Brin and Captain Akinola. He was serving as referee for the sparring matches while also providing running commentary for Commander Strauss.

    Neither T'Ser nor Brin seemed particularly tired despite having spent nearly half an hour in various forms of martial combat. Strauss was exhausted merely watching them.

    Steiner explained the various forms to Strauss – Andorian Vershaan, Klingon RaLk'jo bat'telh (which involved several rituals she did not begin to understand), Human Jujitsu, Vulcan Ke-Tarya, and Orion Tatharoc. There were punches, kicks, slaps, throws, hip rolls, and leg sweeps. The moves were graceful, yet brutal.

    The Petty Officer stepped forward, extending an arm to pause the combatants. “Are you two warmed up?” He asked.

    Aside from a faint sheen of perspiration on both combatants, they seemed fresh and ready. “I will defer to the Senior Chief, taking into account his advanced age,” replied T'Ser, managing to keep her expression neutral.

    “Let's mix it up some,” suggested the burly Red Orion. “Any form, any style. First one off the mat loses.”

    T'Ser inclined her head. “Your proposal is acceptable.”

    “Should we have a corpsman on standby?” whispered Strauss to Steiner.

    He shook his head. “No ma'am. We can always beam them directly to sickbay if necessary.”

    That gave Strauss little comfort.

    Steiner stepped onto the mat. “Gentlebeings, there will be a six minute time limit. Stepping off the mat, losing consciousness, excess blood loss, or slapping the mat will end the match. Understood?”

    T'Ser and Brin nodded curtly at the Petty Officer, then bowed to one another before moving to opposite sides of the mat.

    Strauss leaned against the wall, arms folded, feeling out of her depth and apprehensive.

    Brin rolled his head, corded neck muscles bulging and vertebrae popping. T'Ser shook her hands, jogging in place for a moment, then took a ready position.

    Steiner gave a short blast on his whistle, and the match began.

    Strauss had expected the same, wary approach as in the previous sparring session, but T'Ser flew at Brin, launching a flurry of fist strikes. Brin parried most with forearm blocks, but a few punches caught him on the side of the head and in his mid-section.

    Strauss had no doubt those punches would have disabled or possibly killed her, if she had been on the receiving end.

    For his part, Solly barely grunted. He feinted with a kick and a jab, then connected with a backhand that sent T'Ser staggering backward. Strauss could see a trickle of bright, green blood from the Vulcan's nose. T'Ser smiled, nodded, and made a “come on,” motion with her hands.

    “What style are they using, Steiner?” Strauss asked the Petty Officer, keeping her voice low.

    “Beats the hell out of me, ma'am,” he replied. “It's mixed martial arts blended with back-alley street fighting.”

    “Oh.”

    For the next five minutes, the two combatants traded blows, kicks, punches, throws, and sweeps. Brin managed a head butt against T'Ser and the cracking sound made both Strauss and Steiner wince. The Vulcan shook her head, momentarily dazed, but countered with a haymaker that sent two of Brin's teeth caroming across the deck.

    Seeing the big Orion somewhat dazed, she charged him, sliding underneath at the last second, turned and applied a choke-hold on the big man. He reached back to apply a double-clap to her ears, but she slid a hand to the junction of his neck and shoulder, squeezing a specific nerve bundle with incredible pressure.

    Brin's eyes rolled back, and he collapsed to his knees. With a grin of triumph, T'Ser let go to allow the Orion to fall forward.

    Except, instead of falling, he twisted and caught both of her wrists, rolled, and launched her across the gym. There was a sickening thud as T'Ser impacted the unpadded wall, whereupon she slid down in a heap.

    Strauss raced over to the Vulcan. Even Steiner appeared alarmed.

    “T'Ser, are you okay?” Inga asked, anxiously.

    The Vulcan's eyes fluttered. She rolled to her side, coughed, and spat a wad of green-tinged sputum on the deck. “Yeah,” she breathed shakily. “I'm great.”

    Solly strode over, his face swollen and blood oozing from a gash over his left eye. He held out a hand which T'Ser grasped and pulled her easily to her feet.

    “Not bad, Commander,” he said, his grin revealing the gap from his two missing teeth.

    She wobbled unsteadily for a moment, so Strauss caught her arm.

    “I thought the nerve pinch worked on Orions,” she muttered, rubbing her head and wincing.

    “It does . . . on most Orions,” he responded.

    “But you're not most Orions, right?”

    “See you in Sickbay, Commander,” he replied, his expression regaining the stoic impassivity that Strauss found chilling.

    * * *

    “Why don't you two just duel it out with phasers at twenty paces? It would be less messy and my time wouldn't be wasted patching you back together.”

    Dr. Octavius Castille moved a dermal regenerator over one of the many lacerations T'Ser received in the slug-fest with Solly Brin.

    “Welcome to the Border Service, Doctor,” replied T'Ser. “We're not exactly explorers and scientists. When we 'boldly go,' it's often on board a slaver vessel with people trying to kill us. Fighting skills are more valuable than diplomacy when you're dealing with a two-meter tall Nausicaan with a nasty attitude.”

    “Maybe if you actually practiced diplomacy, you wouldn't have to resort to violence.”

    “Spoken like a true Fleeter,” retorted T'Ser.

    Dr. Castille was the Bluefin's new Chief Medical Officer, having transferred (Castille would say, "exiled,") from the Galaxy-class USS Magellan. Castille, although a highly skilled physician and surgeon, had managed to rub the CMO of Magellan the wrong way and found himself transferred from Starfleet to the Border Service. Their previous CMO, Calvin Baxter, was found dead in his home on Earth while on extended medical leave. The underlying cause of his death, initially thought to be a suicide, remained a mystery.

    Castille stepped back and admired his work. “Just be glad I'm the one who patched you up. I imagine most of the so-called surgeons in this back-water service still use cat-gut and leeches.”

    Something in T'Ser's eyes caused Castille to pause and take a step backward.

    “Doctor,” she said, coldly. “Never speak ill of Dr. Baxter or any or your colleagues on the frontier in my hearing again. Are we clear on that?”

    “I . . . did not mean any offense.”

    “Yes. You did.” She slipped off the examination table. “Please see to Senior Chief Brin. I would advise you to keep your opinions about the Border Service to yourself. He's not nearly as forgiving as I am.”

    * * *

    “Come!” bellowed Captain Joseph Akinola.

    The door to the Ready Room slid open, and Commander Inga Strauss entered.

    Akinola leaned back in his chair, an expression of interest on his face.

    “What did you think of the sparring match, XO?”

    “Truthfully sir? I was afraid they were going to kill each other.”

    He chuckled as he gestured for her to take a seat. “They do go after it hard, don't they? Good thing they build Vulcans and Orions tough.”

    “Yes sir, but . . .”

    “Go on, XO.”

    “Is that level of fighting really necessary? Honestly, that wasn't sparring; it was . . . how do I put it?”

    “Hand-to-hand combat,” he finished. “No holds-barred, dirty, screw-the-rules, close-quarter combat. You've had a glimpse of it already since you came on-board. Two boarding missions so far, right?”

    She nodded. “Yes sir, but nothing like what I witnessed today.”

    “Not yet,” he amended. “Trust me, Commander. One of these days, you'll see much worse. Better to prepare here, where we can patch up the combatants quickly and, yes, keep things from going too far.”

    Akinola paused, studying his young Executive Officer. “Why do you think I allow Senior Chief Brin and Lt. Commander T'Ser to fight like that?”

    “Well, sir, I suppose it's what you just said . . . the need to be ready for the real thing.”

    He nodded. “There's also the fact that Brin is the most capable fighter on this ship. If we know we're going to deal with close-quarter fighting, he will be part of the boarding party. He needs to go all-out if he's to stay sharp. Sarnek has the Vulcan strength but lacks skill. Steiner is very good, but he's primarily a weapons man and Human. T'Ser always gives him a challenge.”

    “But sir, I've seen you and the Senior Chief spar.”

    Akinola smiled thinly. “At half-speed, XO. I may know a few tricks, but if Brin were to really come after me at full speed, I'd have to take him out with a phaser on the heaviest stun setting. T'Ser has the Vulcan physiology that can handle his strength, plus she's well-trained herself. And, I think she enjoys the challenge of going up against the big guy.”

    “Has she ever beaten him?”

    “In a fair fight? Once or twice.”

    She didn't ask about when Solly Brin didn't fight fair.

    * * *

    The Bluefin glided through Sector 342 at a leisurely warp 2. They traversed one of the major space-lanes with two-fold purpose: deter piracy and stand ready to assist any vessels in distress.

    There were other jobs, of course, but some of the more mundane tasks such as servicing nav-buoys and subspace relays were now relegated to old ships refitted for such jobs. Bluefin herself was three-quarters through her design-life, having been launched 75 years earlier.

    Captain Akinola sipped a cup of coffee, ensconced in the familiar command chair of the cutter. His stewardship as commanding officer of the Bluefin was approaching ten years, although his actual service aboard the cutter went back decades to when he was still an enlisted man. He had grown up on ships, first aboard his family's L-Type freighter, the Eku, then many years aboard Border Service vessels, the Albacore, then the Bluefin.

    He was born on a ship. He supposed that one day he would die on one. Not that he was in any rush for the latter.

    Akinola noticed that Lt. Bane and Commander Strauss were focused on something at the Ops station. Bane was staring into the vintage sensor hood while the XO was adjusting controls and frowning at a display.

    He stood and made his way over to them. “Anything of interest, XO?”

    She glanced up. “We're not sure, sir. There's an intermittent signal coming from within the badlands. It doesn't match any Federation signals, but it seems too regular to be a natural source.”

    “Got it again,” remarked Bane. “Definitely an object comprised of processed materials, not an asteroid.”

    Akinola frowned. “A ship?”

    “No sir,” replied the Aussie Ops officer. “Much too small. Might be a marker or a drone of some sort. Not one of ours.”

    The Captain pondered this information. “Helm, adjust course along the bearing that Lt. Bane will provide. Maintain current speed and intensify shields.”

    “Aye, sir,” replied Ensign Bralus, the Bolian helm officer.

    “Any ideas, Skipper?” asked Struass.

    “Not really. There shouldn't be any kind of markers or relays in the badlands. We need to make sure it's not a hazard.”

    Strauss frowned. “Such as?”

    “I have a vivid imagination, XO.”

    The bridge crew returned to its normal, quiet routine, save for Nigel Bane, who kept his eyes glued to the sensor hood. Solly Brin stepped off the turbo-lift, nodding at Strauss and Akinola, before taking his position at tactical.

    Strauss stepped over to Brin. “Did Dr. Castille patch you up?”

    The big Orion bared his teeth, showing the replacements for the two T'Ser knocked out during their bout. Strauss noticed with some discomfiture that his canines were exceptionally long.

    “Good as new, Commander,” he rumbled, before turning to his station.

    “Crikey!” exclaimed Lt. Bane, causing the bridge crew to turn in his direction. He jerked up from the sensor hood and faced Akinola.

    “What, Mr. Bane?”

    “Skipper, I'm picking up a life-form reading on that object.”

    * * *

    To Be Continued.
     
  2. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Love a good no-holds-barred brawl. Now a mysterious life-form in the middle of the badlands, consider my appetite for more whetted :bolian:
     
    TheLoneRedshirt likes this.
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Love it! I'm not sure what unnerved me more, the brutal mutual-smackdown between Brin and T'Ser, or T'Ser's equally vicious (and completely deserved) dressing down of Dr. Castille.

    Man, I love this crew. :adore:
     
    Bry_Sinclair and TheLoneRedshirt like this.
  4. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Holy-moly! That fight was intense! This crew is amazing!
     
    Gibraltar and TheLoneRedshirt like this.
  5. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2013
    Location:
    USA
    TheLoneRedshirt likes this.
  6. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.

    I remember reading that scene - I thought it was very well done.

    Considering there was a three-year gap since my last writing binge, I better crank them out while I can. :D
     
  7. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Chapter 2

    The Molari Badlands are a smuggler's dream and a Border Dog's nightmare. The vast region is comprised of massive asteroid fields, dense dust clouds, and rogue planetoids. Add to that, fluctuating gravity fields that can raise havoc with sensors and shields, and it's an ideal hideout for those who wish to avoid the notice of authorities.

    Scientists have yet to explain the frequency and strength of ion storms that ravage the sector. Some posit that small singularities, i.e., microscopic black holes, are the cause of the gravimetric waves and the unusual ionic activity. Those with a less scientific bent claim the area is cursed.

    An old boomer adage goes something like this: “Both the noble and the fool may attempt to cross the badlands with equal chance of destruction, for the badlands care not.”

    Captain Akinola had lost count of the many times he'd entered the badlands from his childhood until now. But he never lost his sense of awe and trepidation. He was not a superstitious man by nature, but he nonetheless understood the sentiment that the region was cursed and seeking those fools which it might destroy.

    The cutter gently rocked as gravimetric shear sought to toss the Bluefin about. Though sturdily built and equipped with military-grade deflector shields, none of the crew was under the illusion that a foray into the badlands was safe.

    “Any further information you'd like to share, Mr. Bane?” asked the Captain, as another gravity wave challenged the structural integrity fields, the sub-harmonic rumble in the hull felt rather than heard.

    Bane shook his head. “Sorry sir, aside from one life-form reading and the object's location, I can't tell you much more. If I could hazard a guess, I'd say it's a life pod.”

    “On what do you hazard that guess, Lieutenant?” challenged Akinola.

    “No ion trails or any significant energy readings, plus the fact the object isn't much larger than its passenger. Seems tiny even for a smallcraft like a fighter.”

    “Could it be a workbee that got lost?” asked Strauss.

    “That's possible” admitted Bane. “But if so, it isn't one of ours. The signal is all wrong.”

    “Mr. Bralus, time until intercept?” queried the Captain.

    “At our current speed, one hour fifteen minutes.”

    Akinola weighed increasing speed, but decided against it. They would be no good to whoever was out there if they became disabled. “Steady as she goes, helm.”

    * * *

    Dr. Castille looked over the food assortment in the Mess Hall with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he had to admit that the food provided by an actual cook was superior to replicator fare. On the other, there was quite a bit that he deemed unhealthy.

    Mentally shrugging, he selected lasagna and a green salad, but skipped desert. Tray in hand, he had another decision to make.

    There was plenty of room in the Mess Hall where he could dine alone without fear of interruption. After his encounter with Lt. Commander T'Ser and the generally cool reception he'd received from the senior officers, he was reluctant to eat in the ward room.

    Yet, he knew he had to work with these people. Castille didn't care so much about making friends, but he needed to avoid the adversarial relationships that got him transferred off the Magellan. If he screwed up here, what was left? Serving as a medic on a garbage scow?

    “Your food's gonna get cold.”

    He blinked, startled out of his reverie and turned toward the sound of the voice.

    A woman with red hair, large hazel eyes, and wearing engineering coveralls was watching him with a bemused expression. He noted the two pips of a full lieutenant on her collar.

    “I beg your pardon?” It was all he could think of to say.

    The bemused expression expanded into a quite lovely smile. “You must be the new Doc. I'm Delta Simms, Assistant Engineer. Follow me, we can eat in the ward room and you can tell me about yourself.”

    The last thing that Castille wanted to do was to go into his history, but something about her soft accent and the friendly smile won him over.

    “Sure, that, uh, that will be fine.”

    He followed her across the mess hall, into the passageway, and into the wardroom. It was considerably smaller than the conference room on the Galaxy-class Magellan, but it exuded a sort of informal charm. The walls were paneled in faux wood the color of honey and adorned with images of ships, all predecessors to the current Bluefin. A long table with seating for twelve took up the center of the room while a sideboard held coffee mugs and a beverage servitor. A viewscreen dominated one end of the room, currently displaying the Border Service insignia.

    They took seats across from each other.Castille was relieved that they had the wardroom to themselves. Lt. Simms had a plate of chicken salad and a bowl of fruit, with a glass of ice tea.

    She gestured with her fork. “Doc, I don't believe I caught your name.”

    “Castille . . . Octavius Castille.” He hesitated, then added, “My friends call me O.C.”

    He wasn't sure why he added that. It was true enough for the few friends he had, but they were all many light years away.

    “O.C.” she said it, as if savoring a new flavor of ice cream. “I like that. Please call me Delta. I spend all my shift hearing Lieutenant this, and Lieutenant that. It's nice to be able to just talk to someone without ranks and such, don't you think?”

    Castille was a bit off-balance by the woman's directness, but she exuded charm and grace in such a manner that he quickly forgot his initial unease. Soon, he was telling her about being born on Earth . . . Matanzas, Cuba, to be exact, then growing up on Rigel IV. He left out some of the more sordid details of his childhood . . . his father's death, and the disappearance of his mother. His older sister had effectively raised him until he reached the age of 18, when he had returned to Earth. Now she, too, was missing.

    For her part, Delta was a good listener. She allowed him to speak without interruption, only occasionally asking questions or smiling or expressing concern. Her empathy seemed genuine.

    He especially liked the sound of her voice. It was commonly considered a “southern accent,” although he never understood why that would be the case for someone from the northern hemisphere of Earth. Technically, he was born farther south than she – Castille from Cuba and Delta from Sylacauga, Alabama.

    All too soon, she glanced up at the chronometer. “My goodness, I'm going to be late for my shift and Gralt will have Tribbles!” She stood, intending to pick up her tray but he placed a hand on it. “I'll take it. You head on to Engineering.

    “That's very sweet of you. It was nice to meet you, O.C. Let's do this again, soon.” With that, and a small wave, she was gone.

    Octavius Castille was left with two empty food trays and a goofy grin on his face, wondering what had just happened.

    * * *

    "Contact dead ahead,” announced Ensign Bralus, as the ship lurched once more.

    “Hold position, helm. Mr. Bane, full power on the sensors. I want to know what we're dealing with.

    Nigel Bane adjusted the sensor controls, focusing on the mysterious object.

    “Reading very low power levels, no sign of any sort of drive system. Hull composition is of an unknown alloy . . . a carbon – ceramic hybrid of some sort but with additional materials that I can't identify. Whatever it is, it's bloody hard to get a decent internal scan. However, I am confident that there's one life form on board.”

    "Try hailing them.”

    Bane made several attempts with no success. “Sorry Skipper. I tried all frequencies with no response. If they can hear us, they aren't of a mind for conversation.”

    Akinola exhaled and folded his arms. “Move us in closer, helm, ahead slow. Let's put eyes on it before we take the next step.”

    As the Bluefin glided in closer, Lt. Bane annouced, “I have a visual lock.”

    The Captain lifted an eyebrow. “On screen, Lieutenant.”

    At first, they couldn't see anything. “Full magnification, please,” said the Captain.

    “Already at max, Skipper,” replied Bane.

    Frowning, Akinola leaned forward. “Still can't see a damn thing. Helm, what's our distance?”

    “200 meters and closing.”

    “We're almost on top of it,” murmured Strauss.

    “All stop,” ordered the Captain. He turned and fixed his eyes on Bane. “Well, Lieutenant?”

    “Sir, I'm telling you, it's right there!”

    “Activate spot lights,” ordered Akinola.

    Powerful lights on the bow pierced the darkness, revealing a matte gray object comprised of numerous facets, like a black diamond.

    Akinola frowned. “Recognize it, XO?”

    “No sir. It is reminiscent of Tholian ship design but none of their vessels are this small or comprised of unknown materials.”

    “Maybe the Tholians are experimenting with new construction,” suggested Senior Chief Brin.

    Akinola shook his head. “We're a long way from Tholian space, Senior.” He rubbed his chin in thought.

    “Opinions?”

    “It's adrift and sending out a distress signal. Odds are, it's a life pod. Suggest we beam over the passenger,” recommended Bane.

    “We don't know for sure that the signal indicates distress or that it's a life pod,” pointed out Strauss. “The ship, if that's what it is, seems to be intact. We may be attempting a rescue where none is desired.”

    “No obvious weapons,” added Brin. “But we're not getting a good internal scan either. I would say the threat level is low but not non-existent.”

    Akinola grunted in frustration. “I don't like mysteries. We've got an unknown vessel, albeit a very small one, in Federation space. Let's find out what's going on with that passenger. If apologies are required, I'll make them.”

    “Uh, Skipper, that's a no-go on the transporter. The hull material is defeating our targeting scanners.”

    “Of course it is,” groused the Captain. “Will that thing fit in the hangar deck?”

    “Yes sir, easily.”

    Akinola rose from his chair. “Very well. Stand by on the tractor beam and notify the hangar deck that I want a containment field established around the object until we have a better idea of what we're dealing with. Notify Commander Gralt and Dr. Castille to meet me on the hangar deck. Senior Chief, you're with me. XO, you have the conn.”

    * * *
    To be Continued.
     
    CeJay, tax1234 and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  8. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Tholians? Interesting. This is a great beginning to an interesting mystery.
     
    TheLoneRedshirt likes this.
  9. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Well, the Southern Delta charm kicks in and saves Castille from having a very bad day.

    A mysterious potential life pod carrying what I'll presume is an even more mysterious passenger. Again, loving the old-crew interactions here and the professionalism of this crew.
     
    TheLoneRedshirt and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  10. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Bluefin flies again, and right into the middle of a new mystery it seems. Can't wait to find out what the cat's dragged in this time.
     
    TheLoneRedshirt likes this.
  11. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Chapter 3

    The Albacore-class of border cutters is essentially the big brother of the Oberth-class line of science vessels. The saucers are roughly the same size and the engineering hulls share the same tapered profile. The differences are in much larger and more durable warp nacelles, powerful impulse engines, expanded weaponry, and the fact that the engineering hull is easily half-again longer to house a cavernous hanger deck.

    Captain Akinola stood on Bluefin's hanger deck, watching the approach of the mysterious object through the shimmering containment field. Petty Officer Dupree was doing a masterful job with the tractor beam, drawing the tiny vessel through the open hangar bay doors and setting it gently on the deck.

    “Adequate, I suppose,” conceded Lt. Commander Gralt, the Bluefin's Chief Engineer. “Good thing he didn't scratch the paint; I would have flayed his miserable hide.”

    Akinola ignored the Tellarite's grumbling. “T'Ser, are you getting any readings?”

    The Vulcan Operations Manager studied her tri-corder. “No radiation, no heat signature, only mass and a very low-level energy reading. The biometric signature is also there, but whatever materials comprise the hull is preventing me from being more specific.”

    “It's going to be difficult for me to treat a patient that I can't see or get to,” pointed out Dr. Castille.

    “Noted, Doctor,” replied Akinola with a hint of asperity.

    “Anyone have a can opener?” asked Gralt.

    It was a reasonable question as there were no obvious hatches or seams on the small vessel.

    “Captain, the broadcast signal has ceased as has the energy reading,” reported T'Ser.

    Akinola frowned. “Any other changes in your readings?”

    “Negative.”

    “Suggestions?” asked the Captain.

    “Yeah, put it back where you found it. No one appears to be home,” opined Gralt.

    Helpful suggestions?” amended Akinola.

    “Perhaps we could approach with a tactical drone and use the on board imaging sensors for a closer examination,” suggested T'Ser.

    “Good idea. Senior Chief? Prep a tactical drone.”

    “Aye sir,” replied SCPO Brin.

    For the next hour, they examined the small object with the drone but learned nothing new. Close-up imaging revealed a smooth, featureless surface with no visible openings and no scars from dust or meteor impacts, despite there being no apparent deflector system.

    They exposed the vessel to a broad light spectrum, applied electrical charges, and even a broad range of audio and radio frequencies, with no visible results.

    “Well, this is getting damn monotonous,” opined the Captain.

    “Sir, I suggest we allow someone to touch the vessel,” said T'Ser. "All of our stand-off and technological approaches have failed."

    Akinola frowned. “Without an environmental suit?” He shook his head. “Too risky, Commander.”

    “With all due respect, Skipper, aren't you fond of saying, 'risk is our business'?”

    A small smile played on Akinola's face. He chuckled.

    “Damn you and your eidetic memory, anyway.” The Captain turned and stared at the vessel that lay just a few meters away behind the containment field.

    “Okay, Commander, but I'll be the one who goes in.”

    “No sir! That's not . . .”

    “My ship, my rules, T'Ser. I sure as hell am not going to ask someone to do what I'm not willing to do.”

    The Vulcan's face fell. “Please reconsider, sir. I was planning on doing it.”

    “I have no doubt of that. As you've pointed out, we've tried everything else.”

    Dr. Castille frowned. “For what it's worth, I think you're both out of your minds. But since you've decided on this folly, take this with you.”

    He handed Akinola a medical tricorder. “I've set it on auto-scan for your biometric signature, Captain. Should your readings move outside of the normal range, we could beam you out of there.”

    Brin nodded. “You can count on that, Doc.”

    Akinola sighed with resignation, but nodded. “Very well. Solly, have Chief Deryx stand by on the transporter. And, if something happens that threatens our ship, you are to decompress the hangar deck and move the ship away at best possible speed. That is an order, understood?”

    None of the others looked happy at the order, but they acquiesced.

    “Clear the hangar deck,” he ordered. “You can watch from the observation area.”

    Akinola waited until all personnel had cleared out, leaving him alone with the small vessel. He tapped his commbadge. “Deactivate the containment field. I'll leave the channel open so you can hear my observations.”

    The wall of shimmering blue energy vanished. He took a few tentative steps forward, but nothing happened.

    “So far, so good,” he announced. He walked forward again until he was within arm's reach of the vessel. It was odd looking and, in his considered opinion, definitely alien in design, at least in the sense that it wasn't designed by any Federation members.

    He was intrigued by the absolute lack of markings of any kind. There were no scratches or pitting from rocks or dust, even though it was subjected to such impacts within the badlands. The flat gray color seemed to absorb light as it offered no reflection from the hangar bay lights.

    “I don't see any obvious way to open it,” he said. “I'm going to touch it now . . . here goes.”

    He placed the palm of his right hand on the vessel, holding his breath as he did so.

    “The surface is neither cool nor warm; it must be roughly the same as my body temperature,” he announced. “There's no discernible vibration or any tactile feedback other than a smooth, firm surface.”

    Akinola stepped back, both relieved and disappointed.

    “Well, it was a good idea, T'Ser but . . .”

    He stopped speaking, transfixed as the vessel began to change shape.

    Captain, we're beaming you out of there!”

    “Negative, I'm okay, Just wait . . .”

    The sharp angles of the vessel softened, rounding into an ovoid form. There was no sound, no vibration, no other movement.

    Akinola watched with fascination as the metamorphosis continued. The vessel changed from a diamond into a shape reminiscent of a torpedo casing, albeit somewhat larger.

    Sir, are you alright?”

    “Fine, Commander. It looks like it's finished changing shape, although why it did so is unclear.”

    Apparently it reacted to your touch.”

    “So it would seem,” he agreed. “Let's see what happens if I touch it again.”

    Be careful, sir.”

    “That option has already sailed,” he remarked, dryly. A bit more tentatively, he once more placed his hand on the object.

    As the previous time, there was a delay before the vessel reacted. This time a hole appeared on the surface, slowly spreading and elongating.

    Akinola watched in amazement as the occupant of the vessel was revealed.

    She was Human.

    * * *

    Sick Bay

    Dr. Castille stepped out of the cubicle, a puzzled expression on his face. He glanced up at the waiting figures of Captain Akinola, Chief Engineer Gralt, and Lt. Commander T'Ser. Pulling off his lab coat and tossing it carelessly across a chair, he approached them.

    “Well, Doctor?” began the Captain.

    “She's Human alright, of Terran stock, probably between 30 to 35 years of age. She is comatose and unresponsive to external stimuli, though I cannot tell you why. She's also a bit anemic, dehydrated. and underweight for her height. Her vital signs are mostly in the normal range but her body temperature is up and her blood pressure is low. I'll know more when I can do a more thorough work-up.”

    “How did she survive? There's no sign of a life-support system on that vessel, much less food or water.”

    “My wild-ass guess? Some form of stasis, but none that I've encountered.” He sat on a stool, looking haggard.

    “Look, I'm as baffled as you are. Give me some more time and maybe I can give you some better answers, but for now she's my patient and her health takes priority over who and how she got here.”

    Akinola nodded. “Of course. Thank you, Doctor.”

    Gralt said, “I'm going back to the hangar deck and get my people to go over the vessel. Damnedest thing I've come across in many a year.”

    “No argument there. T'Ser, see if you can find out who our guest is, use the DNA sample and images we have.”

    She nodded. “Yes sir, I've already uploaded the relevant data to our computer. We'll check Fed-Net and law enforcement databases. I'm confident we can discover her identity.”

    “I've no doubt of that. Carry on, Commander.”

    * * *

    Lt. Commander Gralt and Lt. Simms regarded the strange vessel with a mix of (her) wonder and (his) frustration.

    “There's no frelling way this thing could keep someone alive, much less protected in the badlands. No shields, no life support, no food or water, no power source or control systems of any kind. Flaming mudpits of the Seven Hells, I can't even begin to figure what it's made of,” he fumed.

    Gralt's team of engineers spent three hours pouring over the strange craft. Despite being frequently touched, it did not change shape again.

    The vessel appeared to be comprised of one seamless, but unidentifiable material. The interior was the same as the exterior, although when the passenger was removed, the couch that fit the woman so well simply melted back into the shell.

    “I've checked the database of all known space-faring races. Not even the Borg have this kind of tech . . . whatever tech this is. The closest analogy would be the Changelings from the Dominion War, but they're sentient whereas this seems to be, well, just a ship.”

    Gralt grunted. “Yeah, well somebody sentient designed and built this thing. What about nano-tech?”

    Delta shook her head. “We could detect nanites and there are none. Besides, even nanites need some sort of power source. There's absolutely none on this little chariot. What energy readings that Lt. Bane picked up earlier have ceased.”

    “Keep at it, Lieutenant. I'd sure as hell like to give the Captain some explanation other than 'we don't know.'”

    “But how did that woman get on board this thing? What's her connection?”

    “Simms, you focus on this thrice-damned, fralok-spawned vessel and let the Captain and T'Ser worry about the passenger.”

    “I am capable of doing both, for your information,” she responded, her eyes flashing. “Don't you care about that poor lady?”

    Sensing an argument he couldn't win, Gralt began to storm off. “Deities, woman! You're an Engineer, figure it all out if you want. I'm going to get some sleep.”

    * * *

    Captain Akinola sat in the quiet of his ready room, working on a wood-carving of an 18th century sailing ship. It was a project he'd worked on over the past few months and it helped him to think.

    But his thinking kept coming up against a solid wall. For the life of him, he couldn't figure how or why a Human woman would be ensconced in some alien vessel and set adrift in the Molari Badlands.

    The door annunciator chimed, interrupting his brooding. He set aside the model. “Come.”

    Commander Strauss and Lt. Commander T'Ser entered, the latter carrying a data PADD. By their expressions it was obvious they were bursting with news.

    “What have you found out?” asked the Captain, motioning for them to sit.

    “Her name is Madison Gillis, Lieutenant Madison Gillis. She's Starfleet, Captain.”

    Akinola's eyebrows shot up in surprise. “I certainly wasn't expecting that. Is she part of a ship's crew?”

    T'Ser glanced at Strauss, who answered. “That's where this gets really strange. She's the Science Officer on the USS Adirondack.”

    He frowned. “I'm not familiar with that ship. Have you notified her Captain that we found her?”

    “Captain,” began T'Ser. “The Adirondack is an Ambassador-class ship that disappeared in the Beta Quadrant 23 years ago.”

    * * *

    To be Continued.
     
    Gibraltar, CeJay and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  12. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Fascinating. My interest is piqued.
     
    TheLoneRedshirt likes this.
  13. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    "Captain, Madison Gills has been dead for 20 years," was what I was halfway expecting but this is much better and far less cheesy.

    What happend to the Adriondack, who built this strange vessel, how did it get into the badlands and why Gills? Just a few of my many questions here. Man, I so enjoy a good mystery.
     
    TheLoneRedshirt likes this.
  14. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Chapter 4

    Stardate 30325.1 (29 April 2353)
    USS Adirondack NCC-10825


    Sector B77412, Beta Quadrant

    Captain's Log, Stardate , Ivana Torekov, Recording

    After seven months exploring the Beta Quadrant, we may have located a new civilization. Science Officer Gillis has picked up a signal which repeats in star system K4419. She is quite confident that the signal is not natural in origin. Long range scans indicate two planets in the system capable of supporting organic life, the third planet which is M-class and the fourth planet which is L-class. Of the two, the third planet is the most likely source.

    Our plan is to launch a series of class-1 probes into the system for a detailed scan. We don't want to risk violating the Prime Directive, should the signals emanate from a pre-warp society. After all this time mapping stars and collecting comet dust, a first contact would elevate crew morale significantly.

    Chief Engineer Sardok has reported a fluctuation in the warp intermix chamber. At present, it is well within safety parameters but Commander Sardok felt it worth reporting and has recommended that we keep our speed under warp 8 until the cause is identified and remedied. I concur with his recommendation, and have issued orders to that effect.

    * * *

    Stardate 53854.3 (9 November 2376)

    USS Bluefin NCC-4458
    Molari Badlands


    Sick Bay

    Dr. Castille rubbed his face, feeling the beard stubble from too many hours and not enough rest. He kept re-reading the test results, certain they must be wrong, yet each test came back the same.

    “Sandy,” he called out to Corpsman Sanders. “When was the last time these bio-beds were recalibrated?”

    “About a month ago. Dr. Baxter had it done before, well . . .”

    “Never mind. Any change on the patient's vitals?”

    “No sir. Odd that the readings are exactly the same each time we read them.”

    “Odd? More like impossible.” Castille yawned. “Thanks, Sandy. When does Rice come on shift?”

    “She's already here.”

    “Good. Go get some rest.”

    “Thanks. Why don't you do the same, sir? No offense, but you look all-in.”

    Castille forced a smile. “No offense taken. I've got a senior staff meeting with the Captain in a few minutes. Not sure how I explain all of this, so wish me luck.”

    * * *

    Castille arrived in the wardroom five minutes later. He was disappointed that Lt. Simms wasn't in attendance, but Gralt was the department head for Engineering, so he had not really expected her to be present.

    The aforementioned Chief Engineer was already seated, glowering at no one in particular. Lt. Commander T'Ser was engrossed in a mug of coffee and Commander Strauss offered a weary nod and smile.

    Captain Akinola strode in and began the meeting without preamble. “Let's have reports on what we've learned so far. Dr. Castille?”

    The CMO touched an icon on his medical PADD, activating the viewscreen at the end of the conference table. Two images appeared on the screen, both scans of forearm bones.

    “Our patient, Lt. Gillis is still comatose and her condition is unchanged. And I mean that quite literally; her vital signs have not varied by a fraction of a degree since she came into sickbay. Blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, temperature, each one has remained absolutely static.”

    Startled glances were exchanged by the other officers. “That's rather unusual, isn't it?” asked Akinola.

    “Unusual? More like unprecedented. And that's not the only strange thing. Take a look at the bone scans on the screen. The one on the left is from Lt. Gillis' medical files, a routine scan taken 24 years ago on Starbase 547. Notice anything?”

    They all peered at the image. “Evidently, she had a badly broken arm at some point,” answered T'Ser.

    “Exactly. At age 12, she fell out of a tree, shattering the radius and ulna of her right arm. The repair work was exceptional; my compliments to the orthopedist who did the repairs. However, the seams where the bones were fused together are quite obvious.”

    He took a sip of water. Why was the air on starships so dry?

    “Now, take a look at the image on the right. Notice anything unusual?”

    “It's obviously from a different person. There's no indication of a healed fracture,” remarked Commander Strauss.

    “You are right and wrong,” said Castille. “It's correct to say that those bones never suffered a fracture. However, that scan was one I took early this morning of Lt. Gillis' right arm.”

    Akinola frowned. “How is that possible? Surely the evidence of a severe bone fracture would remain.”

    “Yes, it would. And yet, the bones I scanned showed none. They were never fractured.”

    “But surely there's some sort of mix-up,” protested Strauss. “Maybe the medical records are wrong.”

    Castille shook his head. “I considered that, as unlikely as that could be. But in her medical transcripts, she was asked by a Starfleet doctor about the fracture and she gave the account of falling out of a tree at her grandparents' house. The records have a DNA tag, so we know they belong to her.”

    “What conclusions can you draw, Doctor?” asked the Captain.

    Castille shook his head. “I'm at a loss. The simple but insane answer is that someone removed her original forearm bones and replaced them with other bones, leaving no evidence that any surgery was performed.”

    “Perhaps someone with medical technology beyond ours simply eliminated the evidence of the early fracture,” said T'Ser.

    “I would consider that, except for one major problem.”

    “What problem is that, Doctor?”

    “The genetic marker in the bones do not match her baseline DNA sample. They belong to another member of the Adirondack's crew.”

    * * *
    Dr. Castille's bombshell news regarding Lt. Gillis made the report on the mysterious vessel anticlimactic.
    Gralt simply reported that the vessel had not changed shape again, despite “touching it, kicking it, and cursing it.” Nor could they identify the materials of which the vessel was constructed.

    “I'm not even sure 'constructed' is the right word,” continued a visibly frustrated Gralt. “The thrice-damned thing is basically an immobile blob of gray stone. It shouldn't be able to change shape, yet it does . . . or did. It shouldn't be able to keep a person alive, but it did. There's no apparent way it should have appeared in the middle of the badlands by itself . . . and maybe it didn't.”

    “You think it was dropped off here?” queried Akinola.

    Gralt shrugged, a Human gesture he picked up long ago. “Dropped off, beamed-in, fired from a space-cannon . . . how the frak should I know?”

    “You're the Chief Engineer,” retorted the Captain. “It's your job to know or to find out. Keep at it.”

    “Aye sir,” replied Gralt, resignedly.

    “Anyone else have something to contribute?” asked Akinola. “No? Very well, dismissed.”

    As the senior officers filed out, the Captain gestured for Dr. Castille to remain.

    “That was very good work, Doctor. Thank you.”

    Castille shook his head. “I think I've raised more questions than answered. This is equally bizarre and disturbing. Setting aside the 'how' of it, why would anyone subject that poor woman to such a cruel experiment? And why set her adrift?”

    “Good questions, Doc. I think this may be above all our pay-grades. Recommendations?”

    Castille sighed. “As much as I hate to admit it, I'm at a loss as to what to do next. I recommend we get her to the Star Station where there's more advanced diagnostic equipment and a larger medical staff.”

    Akinola nodded. “Agreed.”

    * * *
    Engineering

    Petty Officer 2nd Class Cam Hue Fong studied the Master Systems Display and frowned. He glanced at his engineering PADD, tapped it a couple of times and tapped commandes into the MSD console.

    “Hey, Lieutenant!”

    Delta Simms came over to Fong. “What's up, Cam?”

    He pointed at the MSD. “There's a slight fluctuation in the intermix chamber. It wasn't there at the beginning of the shift.”

    Simms checked the readings. “Hmm, You're right . . . a zero point five degree variation.” She straightened. “Nothing troubling yet, but keep an eye on it. Let me know if the fluctuation intensify.”

    “Yes ma'am, will do.”

    “The warp core could simply be responding the gravity shifts in the badlands. That happens sometimes, but you were right to let me know. Good work, Petty Officer.”

    Fong grinned. “Yes ma'am. Thank you.” He was glad he could report it to Lt. Simms instead of Commander Gralt. Gralt would have just muttered something obscene, which could mean he was immensely pleased or about to throw you out an airlock.”

    * * *
    Sickbay

    Corpsman 1C Linda Rice made a tsking sound as she ran the dermal regenerator over Petty Officer 3C Leann Coates' hand. The young brunette winced as the beam closed the gash on her palm.

    “How did you manage to do this, Leann?” asked Rice.

    “We were servicing the auto-loader on the number two torpedo tube. I managed to catch my hand on a sharp edge, I guess.”

    “Don't you have safety gloves for that?” asked the Corpsman as she moved the healing blue light across the wound.

    A sheepish expression crossed Coates' face. “Yes, but I didn't have them on.”

    Rice glanced up. “Chief Deryx is going to chew you down to a nub, you know that, right?”

    “Yeah," she said with a despondent note. "That's going to hurt more than my hand. So much for liberty call when we get back to the station. I'll probably spend our time polishing hyper-spanners.”

    “Maybe not. Deryx is fair; just own up to it, take the tongue lashing, and wear gloves next time.” Rice sat back. “All done. It will feel stiff and might itch for a day or two.”

    Coates flexed her hand and grinned. “Much better. Thanks!”

    “Wait 'til you get my bill.”

    Petty Officer Coates departed and Rice placed the dermal regenrator under a sterilization field. She picked up her medical PADD and made her way to the cubicle holding their mysterious patient, Lt. Gillis. She hummed to herself as she checked all the readings.

    And, as each time before, the readings were exactly the same. Shaking her head, she made notes on the PADD and synced it with the bio-scanner over the bed.

    Rice glanced down and nearly dropped the PADD.

    Lt. Gillis' eyes were open and she was looking directly at Rice. But what made the Corpsman gasp were the eyes themselves. One was green and the other, a vivid blue.

    * * *
    To be Continued.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
    CeJay, Gibraltar and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  15. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    That medical report is weird. It's like Gillis is a Patchwork Woman on a genetic level.
     
    Gibraltar and TheLoneRedshirt like this.
  16. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Love it.

    An enigma wrapped up in a mystery encased in a WTF!
     
    TheLoneRedshirt likes this.
  17. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    The constant drip of new clues and revelations makes this story particularly engrossing. The incredibly advanced technology displayed for unknown purposes, and the harrowing apparent mutilation of the lone Starfleet survivor are enticing mysteries, and present a new kind of challenge for Bluefin's crew. Who or what has done this and why? What does it all mean?

    So... yeah... I'm hooked! :bolian:
     
    TheLoneRedshirt and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  18. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Chapter 5

    Stardate 30325.2 (29 April 2353)
    USS Adirondack NCC-10825

    Sector B77412, Beta Quadrant


    Captain's Log, Supplemental . . . Ivana Torekov, Recording

    The results from our probes are inconclusive. We lost telemetry from two of the probes; the remaining five indicate no sentient life on either the third or fourth planet. The signal continues, but it apparently does not emanate from any of the six worlds in the system. I admit to being puzzled.

    Could a ship of some sort be in the system? If so, the probes missed it. Lt. Gillis insists the signal is too regular to be a natural phenomenon. Perhaps there's a beacon of some sort too distant or too small for us to pick up on sensors.

    Engineering has reported more technical glitches . . . nothing serious, but it is troubling as we are a long way from any starbase. These 'glitches' are from various systems . . . propulsion, food replicators, and intra-ship communications. It's odd that these malfunctions should occur in short order as our voyage thus far has been virtually trouble-free. Most have been rectified, but Chief Engineer Sardok is concerned . . . well, as much as a Vulcan will admit being concerned.

    Nevertheless, we are on an exploratory mission, therefore I have ordered us into system K4419 so we may map the system and conduct orbital surveys of each planet. Barring any further malfunctions, we will send down a landing party to explore the third planet. Perhaps we will also discover the source of the mysterious signal while in-system.

    Computer, end and save.

    * * *
    Stardate 53854.5 (9 November 2376)

    USS Bluefin NCC-4458
    Molari Badlands


    Sick Bay

    Dr. Castille, Corpsman Rice, and Captain Akinola stood around the bio-bed where Lt. Gillis lay, her eyes closed once more. Aside from the 7.2 seconds she had gazed at Rice, she had not reopened them.

    “Corpsman, did she try to speak, to communicate with you in any way?” queried the Captain.

    She shook her head. “No sir, like I said, she opened her eyes and seemed to focus on me for those few seconds, but her expression did not otherwise change, nor did she attempt to speak.”

    Castille inclined his head toward the Sickbay office. “Let's review the sensor logs. We can get a bird's-eye view.”

    They left the cubicle and went into the small office used by Castille and the corpsmen. The transparent aluminum walls allowed a clear view of the half-dozen bio-beds and three critical care spaces. Space was at a premium with two computer workstations, storage for various medical devices, a stack of medical PADDs, two stools, and a large display which compiled all the readouts of the bio-beds.

    The CMO settled onto one of the stools, and commanded the computer to pull up the video logs for cubical A at the time index provided by Rice. They could see the comatose lieutenant in the bed as Rice approached. At the bottom of the screen, Gillis' vital signs were displayed along with the running time index.

    As they watched Rice carry out her tasks, Akinola asked, “Were you humming?”

    Rice smiled sheepishly. “Yes sir. I do it sometimes without thinking.”

    “Shh,” hissed Castille. “We're coming up on the time index.”

    As they watched, sure enough, the patient opened her eyes and seemed to gaze on Rice, although she did not move her head. Rice reacted and leaned over the patient, calling her name, but Gillis' eyes closed at the 7.2 second mark. Castille pointed out the difference in the color of her two eyes to Akinola.

    “I would bet my medical license that one or both of those eyes isn't original equipment.”

    Akinola grimaced, but did not comment. It was just another layer to the increasingly dark and puzzling mystery.

    The CMO replayed the feed a second time.

    “Ah ha,” Castille murmured in a note of satisfaction. “Her EEG showed a slight change for those same seconds. She must have responded to something.”

    The CMO and Akinola turned to stare at Rice. The Corpsman blinked.

    “Sirs?” she asked with some trepidation.

    “Rice, can you hum that same tune again?” asked the Doctor.

    * * *
    Bridge

    Lt. Commander T'Ser had the conn while Ensign Vashtee was at Ops. Lt. Sarnek manned the helm, his back ramrod straight and his focus on his controls.

    The two Vulcans were at odds when Sarnek first joined the crew. His brother had once been bonded to T'Ser, but she had refused to follow the ancient Vulcan tradition of arranged marriages. This created a rift between the two families and Sarnek initially treated T'Ser with barely veiled contempt, just this side of insubordination.

    However, following Sarnek's mind-meld with the late Calvin Baxter, there had been a thawing in Sarnek's attitude toward T'Ser. He began to incline his head in greeting and spoken when he came on the bridge. Hardly an earth-shaking development for Humans, but for a traditionalist like Sarnek, it was practically a hearty greeting.

    T'Ser wasn't sure what to make of this new development, nor whether it was connected to the mind-meld with Dr. Baxter or something else. She knew she should welcome the truce, if that's what it was, but she almost preferred the cold-shoulder. At least she could explain that.

    “Commander, we are showing a drop in speed, but I did not initiate such a change.” Sarnek announced. There was a note of puzzlement in his voice.

    “How much of a drop?” asked T'Ser.

    “We were at Warp 2.17, and are currently at Warp 2.15.”

    T'Ser turned toward the Ops station. “Ensign Vashtee, are we encountering any gravimetric waves or particle build-up?”

    The Sri Lankan checked her screen. “No ma'am, nothing within one million kilometers.”

    She toggled the intra-ship comm. “Bridge to Engineering.”

    Static crackled over the channel. “Engin. . . Lieu . . . Simms . . .”

    Frowning, T'Ser said, “Lt. Simms, I can barely read you. We've noticed a point zero two drop in our speed. Can you confirm?”

    More static. “ . . . core fluctu . . . not critical but . . . recommend . . . . . drop out . . . warp.”

    “Acknowledged. And can you get someone to work on the comms?”

    Will . . . Engin . . . out.”

    “Mr. Sarnek, drop us out of warp, and take us ahead at one-half impulse. Ops, are you showing any other system problems?”

    “Actually, yes. I just received a report that the number two turbo-lift access doors on deck three won't open, and the corridor lights are out on deck six. I sent a text to Engineering and they have repair crews en route.”

    “Thank you, Ensign, log it and notify me of any other malfunctions.” What the hell is going on?

    * * *

    Sickbay

    “Go on, just give it a try, Corpsman,” urged Dr. Castille.

    Rice smiled weakly. “I feel kind of silly, sir.”

    “It's for medical science, Rice. Just try to repeat the same actions in the same order as the last time you checked on Lt. Gillis, and be sure to hum the tunein the same manner.”

    “Yes sir, I'll try my best.” Here goes . . .

    She left the CMO and Captain Akinola in the office as she retrieved her PADD and made her way into the cubicle.

    Rice had to think a moment to recall the tune. It was a popular song from her teen years that sort of came into her head now and again. Fortunately, she remembered it quickly and began to hum, feeling a bit self-conscience knowing that both the Chief Medical Office and ship's Commanding Officer were watching and listening.

    It's for medical science, Rice, she reminded herself, echoing Castille's words.

    She again checked Lt. Gillis' vitals (unchanged) made notes on the PADD and synced it to the bed's bio-scanner, humming all the while.

    Then, she looked down.

    The Lieutenant's eyes were still closed.

    Feeling a mixture of relief and disappointment, she turned to leave.

    That's when Gillis began to scream.

    * * *

    “Diphenylmethane, 15cc's,” ordered Castille as Lt. Gillis screams brought the CMO and Captain Akinola running into the cubical.

    Though her eyes remained closed, tears streamed from beneath her tightly shut lids and her fingers contracted into claws. Her agonized screams were shrill, filled with abject terror. Her body shook with each shriek. Veins stood out on her neck and temples as the inarticulate wails continued. Spittle flew from between clenched teeth and she began to thrash about.

    "Hold her still!" shouted Castille. Akinola managed to restrain Gillis, gently but firmly holding her down as she convulsed and wailed.

    Rice, shaken but moving quickly, slapped the hypo-spray into Castille's outstretched hand. He pressed the device against his patient's neck and the hypo hissed obediently, forcing the sedative into Gillis' bloodstream.

    Almost immediately, the screams ceased, with only a few brief sobbing cries before Lt. Gillis collapsed within herself. The vital signs which had briefly spiked into lethal territory, settled back into the exact same readings and rhythms as before.

    “Doctor, what the hell just happened?” demanded Akinola.

    Castille stared accusingly at the monitor over the bio-bed, as if it had betrayed him. “I don't know. But she came damn close to a seizure, a heart-attack, and a stroke. Blood pressure was through the roof, pulse rate jumped to 190 . . .” He shook his head, distressed and frustrated.

    “Dr. Castille . . . I am so sorry,” said Corpsman Rice, shakily. “I had no idea . . .”

    He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “None of us did. If anyone should apologize, it's me. Sorry I put you through that, Corpsman; it most definitely wasn't your fault.”

    Akinola gazed down at the once more still and silent woman. She appeared young, yet she was, in fact, close to his own age. Her face was thin and pale, the tears on her face not yet dry.

    “Where have you been, Madison Gillis? Who did this to you?” The Captain asked softly, gently placing a dangling hand back on the bed.

    But the Lieutenant from a long-lost starship had again retreated to a place they could not follow.

    * * *
    To Be Continued.
     
  19. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Well, that was eerie as hell! Can't imagine the trauma this woman has survived, but at whose hands?

    The malfunctions are vaguely reminiscent of what happened to the USS Yamato in TNG, random systems hiccuping without explanation.

    Say, they're not anywhere near Starbase 66, are they? ;)
     
    TheLoneRedshirt likes this.
  20. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Who, indeed?

    Funny, I saw that episode for the first time in years the other day. Maybe it subconsciously influenced the story . . . but no Galaxy-class ships will be harmed in the continuance of this tale. (No promises about other ship classes. :devil:)

    Ha! No, but I have plans to revisit SB 66 in another story with Captain Strauss before long.
     
    Bry_Sinclair and Gibraltar like this.