The Untold Era: Broken

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bry_Sinclair, May 16, 2020.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    The following occurs in the mid-late 2340s.

    * * * * *

    No matter how hard she scrubbed or how high the sonics were, she could never get the blood off. She’d lost count of how many times she’d scrubbed her hands raw trying to wash away the memories. The only tears she shed was for the pain she inflicted upon herself, sometimes it was the only way to feel something, anything. All she ever seemed to feel was hollow and empty, even when she woke up screaming the momentary terror or panic was snuffed out by the feeling of nothingness. Sometimes she got lucky and there would be a day, once in a blue moon as the old saying went, when something made her smile but that too didn’t last, she would immediately feel guilty and remorseful, then angry with herself—it was the rare time she wished for the numbness. What gave her the right to smile when there was so much blood on her?

    She braced her hands against the wall of the sonic shower and let her head lull forward. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, her voice lost in the vibrations of the sonic shower, “I’m so sorry.”

    Switching off the unit she stood there for a moment longer, trying to muster up what strength she had in order to get herself ready. Dragging her feet, she stepped back into the main room of her quarters. Fairly standard, though a little more spacious that most other freighters—something she had a lot of experience with—with a bunk surrounded by lockers and compartments, a few shelves, a desk and chair, and another rack of lockers. It wasn’t pretty, with no knickknacks or trinkets on display (they’d only slow her down when she moved on to the next ship), but it was private.

    Like every cargo ship after her first one the Cyllene was privately owned, not part of any big haulage firm or corporation (she’d made that mistake once, they’d almost found her out so she’d only done one run with them before moving on), as such there wasn’t any sort of uniform though typically all the crew wore coveralls with the ships patch on the right shoulder and their name on the left breast. Hers said ‘SMITH’, though that wasn’t the family name she’d been born into, just as ‘Jessica’ wasn’t the name she’d been given by her parents. It was her fifth alias, but she was no more attached to it than any of the others when the time came to leave it behind she would. Her attire was also different from all others onboard, as the left shoulder had a white circle with a red cross in the centre—the only part of her old life she still clung onto.

    Most freighter masters were thrilled to get a medic on their crew, so long as she could prove she knew how to operate a tricorder, apply a hypospray, or activate a dermal regenerator not many asked any further questions—hauling cargo could be hazardous work and injuries were a common occurrence, getting crew back to work with the correct number of appendages as quickly as possible cut down on sick pay and lost labour. The Cyllene’s captain, Rowan Novak, wasn’t much different, though he had asked a couple of follow up questions she’d managed to bluff her way through, enough to satisfy him at any rate—though a medic in a crew of twenty was a little unusual. Of course, she made herself handy where she could, carrying out other duties such as loading cargo, arranging stores, preparing meals, even low-level maintenance, after all she had been trained to handle all sorts a lifetime ago.

    It was still early, not even oh-five-hundred, so there wouldn’t be any breakfast made and she knew better than to try and digest whatever slop the replicators called food, not that she had much of an appetite, but she did stop by the mess hall to fill a flask with coffee (she’d yet to work out how there always seemed to be a fresh pot, no matter the time of day). From there it wasn’t far to the medbay. Despite being around two hundred and fifty meters, the Cyllene didn’t have a lot of living space with cargo holds taking up most of the ship’s interior.

    What passed as the sickbay was cramped and looked more at home in a museum. There were two biobeds to one side (which had curtains that could be drawn around them for privacy), with a workstation and plenty of storage lockers and shelves opposite, in between which was the diagnostics bed which was on a track that took it into the main scanner inside the bulkhead. Though crude it was surprisingly effective.

    Since they were due to make port at Xeylos III in a couple of days, she had decided to take the opportunity to stock up on supplies. Though she kept track of everything she used, she always liked to carry out a proper inventory, just to make sure no one was helping themselves to anything—she’d been caught out four ships ago, with someone helping themselves to pain meds. Cargo ships didn’t attract the best and brightest, some were just one step away from becoming smugglers or black marketeers. Her task was monotonous and mundane, but it kept her busy, noting down everything she was starting to run low on or items that were nearing the shelf life, as well as any pieces of equipment in need of servicing or repair. The coffee, a rich blend of beans from Earth and Rigel VI, helped keep her focused.

    She was almost finished when the ship shook, making her stop. Like all ships, the Cyllene had its share of rumbles, groans, and rattles, which any half decent spacer got used too within a week (if you didn’t you’d never get any sleep), but that one felt different. It felt wrong. Looking up at the ceiling, she waited to see if it would be repeated, setting her data-slate down on the inactive terminal, her breathing heavy.

    The screech of the intercom made her wince. “Fire, fire, fire! Fire in the engine room!”

    Without thinking, her heart pounding and adrenaline flooding her system, she snatched her medkit and ran out of sickbay, heading aft towards engineering.

    If this were a modern Federation ship the fire response system would have automatically kicked in, either containing it in a forcefield and depriving it of air or dowsing it in fire retardant, unfortunately the old freighter had been built outside UFP space so hadn’t needed to meet the same rigid safety regulations. That meant the crew would need to use handheld extinguishers to put it out, which would put them at more risk, not to mention whoever was in the engine room when the fire started would likely have been injured—like the bridge, Novak insisted on having at least one person stationed in engineering at all times.

    She slid down the ladder onto the smoke-filled engineering deck, coughing even before her boots hit the deck as the acrid smoke hit the back of her throat. Since it was still early, most of the crew would still be in their bunks, so she could well be one of the first to arrive. With her medkit safely slung across her chest, she grabbed an extinguisher she passed in the corridor and hefted it with her. Eyes watering, she turned the last corner and saw a figure approaching the heavy door from the opposite direction. Blinking the tears away, she wasn’t surprised to see that it was Novak, carrying his own extinguisher, standing at the panel about to plough into whatever was on the other side of the double doors. What was startling was to see him just in his skivvies and work boots.

    Unlike every other cargo ship master she’d served under, Novak wasn’t much older than herself, tall and with a lithe, firm build, he was definitely not what most people thought of when they heard ‘freighter owner’.

    “Doc,” he started, using the unoriginal nickname she wound up being called no matter where she found herself, “stand clear. Opening the hatch in three. Two. One.”

    Safely on either side of the doorway, Novak hit the control panel. As soon as the doors rumbled open a plume of angry green fire burst into the corridor, before receding back inside. She could feel the heat of the blaze, already making her sweat. Without another word, Novak ducked inside. She followed, immediately wishing she hadn’t.

    The plasma fire raged from an exposed panel, scorching the metal and melting plastic, making consoles spark and lights flicker. She coughed harder than before; she didn’t need a tricorder to know the air was becoming toxic. Beside the entrance, she yanked open an equipment locker and pulled over a breather mask. Barely able to see thanks to the smoke and her watering eyes, she could make out the brilliance of the fire and moved closer. She could make over Novak, who was already tackling the blaze, noting he’d forgone the mask (like his clothing). Aiming the nozzle of her extinguisher at the source of heat and light, she started to spray.

    She could barely hear herself breath through the roar of the fire and the hiss of the foam from the tank she carried, all her focus was on dealing with the emergency, her senses overwhelmed, she couldn’t register anything else but what was ahead of her. It was only when two other jets of extinguishant hit the flames that she glanced around to see several of her shipmates finally lending a hand.

    As her senses once again started to come back to her, she could hear the coughing from the others, muffled shouts through their breather masks, as well as pained whimpering. Using the sleeve of her coveralls, she wiped the tears from her eyes and looked around the deck. It took her a few seconds, but she finally spotted the source, slumped against the console opposite the exposed panel was T’Sil, her blackened hands shaking as she held them before her face.

    Dropping her extinguisher, she darted to the injured engineer and crouched beside her. “It’s alright, T’Sil, I’ve got you.”

    The terror on the young Vulcan’s face was clear, as were the second-degree burns, but her hands are forearms were worse having taken the brunt of it. She pulled out her hypo and administered a painkiller to the traumatised younger woman, before taking out her tricorder and detaching the scanning wand. She’d been right about the burns, T’Sil’s face and neck would be fairly straight forward, but her hands were bad—too severe for the low-grade dermal regenerator she had—as well as smoke inhalation and a dislocated shoulder.

    From the other side of the deck, the fierce crackling of the fire fell silent, followed quickly after by the gushing of the extinguishers. She looked over to see the blaze was out, the assembled crew either breathing a sigh of relief or frantically trying to see what had caused the explosion.

    “Give me a hand,” she called out to no one in particular. “I need to get her to medical.”

    Yadix, a Bolian deckhand who was build like a Nausicaan, crouched beside them. He worriedly looked at the engineer then at her with big violet eyes, he was a man of few words but wore his heart on his sleeve.

    “Help me get her up.”

    He scooped the Vulcan up in both arms and lifted her clean off the deck, as though she weighed little more than a datapad. The others immediately stood aside as they left the scene of the accident and headed for the nearest turbolift. From there, it wasn’t far back to sickbay.

    “Get her on the bed,” she instructed, gesturing to the examination table in the middle of the room, as she grabbed an equipment trolley and started loading it up with what she’d need.

    Turning back to her patient, the mountainous deckhand was still by T’Sil’s side, looking down at her. Yadix wasn’t exactly brightest member of the crew, he was a workhorse, with strength and stamina for days, but if a situation called for anything but brawn then he was out of his depth.

    “Thank you, Yadix. You’d best get back to engineering to help out.”

    Reluctantly he nodded and left her alone to work. Putting the injured woman into the scanner, she ran a series of deep tissue sweeps, she needed to see how bad it was. As the results came through, she breathed a sigh of relief when there was no sign of nerve damage in her hands, the burns to the epidermis and dermis she could handle anything more severe and they’d have to cross their fingers and hoped that the Xeylos III trading station had a competent surgeon.

    She lined up a series of drugs for the engineer, one to sedate her, another to help treat the smoke inhalation, and the third was a broad-spectrum antibiotic—when it came to burns, infection was always a major concern. With T’Sil under she got to work.

    No one interrupted her, so after two hours she was finally able to down tools and run one last scan. She’d done the best she could with what was at hand, though she’d need to get the Vulcan to the trading station hospital to ensure that her hands would be alright. The engineer’s long, delicate fingers and slim hands were covered in plasti-skin applications, which would keep the wounds clean and sustain the deep tissue regeneration she’d carried out—they weren’t pretty, but they did the job.

    Leaving her patient to sleep off the sedative, she collapsed into the workstation chair and reached for the flask of coffee. Hands shaking, she brought it to her lips and took a sip. Lukewarm, though still with the hit of caffeine she needed. Letting out an unsteady breath, she tried to calm her frazzled nerves. She’d dealt with only a handful of burn victims before, though only once before on a freighter, the other times were from before…

    She shut her eyes tight, but try as she might the memories came back, though in truth they were rarely far from her thoughts, and every one was like a tidal wave of blood. Whenever she remembered the time before she’d signed up for her first freighter, all she could see was the blood that was on her hands, on her face, through her hair, soaking her uniform. Her memories threatened to drown her.


    She jumped, dropping her metal flash which clattered on the deck, as she looked towards the source of the voice. Novak was standing just inside the door, now dressed in a set of coveralls, his shoulder length, dark wavy hair tied back, a concerned scowl on his youthful face.

    “Are you alright?” he asked softly.

    “Of course,” she lied. “The events of the morning are just catching up with me.”

    The freighter captain didn’t look entirely convinced, but he didn’t push it. He looked at the unconscious Vulcan. “How is she doing?”

    “Resting, as comfortable as I can make her. There shouldn’t be any lasting damage, the plasti-skin grafts will need to stay on for a week or so, but she shouldn’t be left with any scars or impairment.”

    “Good,” he replied before his wiry frame was wracked by a bad coughing fit.

    She got up and pointed to the chair. “Take a seat, I’ll give you something to help with that.”

    He tried to wave her off. “It’s not so bad.”

    “Captain, given the fact you were dealing with a fire without a breather, sucking in who knows what sort of fumes, I’m going to have to insist.”

    Novak held his hands up in surrender. “Okay, okay. I yield.”

    She retrieved her tricorder and hypospray. Running the scanning wand over him she registered the effects of smoke inhalation, though found no sign of anything more severe. Setting the appropriate dose, she pressed the hypo to his neck. With a hiss, the medication was administered and in a few hours he’d be back to normal once more.

    “You did good this morning, Doc.”

    “Just doing what needed to be done, Captain.”

    He was about to respond when the intercom whistled. “Engine room to Novak. Skipper, I’ve got the damage report you wanted.”

    “I’m on my way. Novak out.” He turned to leave but paused and looked back at her. “It’s good to know I can count on you, Doc.”

    Before she could reply he was out the door and heading back down to engineering, leaving her to brace herself against a worktop as she remembered all the others that had counted on her in the past. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, “I’m so sorry.”

    * * * * *

    Last edited: May 16, 2020
  2. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 17, 2009
    Vancouver, WA
    Service aboard a civilian vessel appears to be as stressful as service aboard a Starfleet or Border Patrol vessel. This story gives us a fascinating view of that.
    David.Blue and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Terrific story! Lots of mystery here as to her true identity. Ex-Starfleet? Ex-criminal? So many possibilities! :bolian:
    David.Blue and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  4. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    A lot packed into this short story - a woman with a past which haunts her, obvious medical skills, and a fire in the engine room. "Smith" certainly came through, showing courage and skill in a potentially disastrous situation.
    The name of the freighter rings a bell; have you done a story with this ship and crew before? Regardless, well done!
    David.Blue likes this.
  5. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Oct 1, 2011
    Space, the final frontier.
    Very interesting story, Bry! You've certainly gotten us all guess ing as to who this Smith person is, and what devastating event led her to this phase of her life. Quite the little mystery there, so I hope you might revisit these folks.

    Also, did the captain really fight the fire naked?!
    David.Blue likes this.
  6. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    In the back of my mind I've had the idea of a civilian freighter crew, all of whom have issues or reason to run and hide from their past, since the ship won't be getting into any big space battles or involved in anything that will change the quadrant forever, the main focus of stories would be from the people onboard. Could always open it up for others as well, who have thought about writing a piece for some rogue or runaway, who just all happen to stumble upon the Cyllene :)

    I don't think I've used it before. In the processes of rewatching The Expanse and Cyllene is the moon the Rocinate hides behind during their excursion to Ganymede, so it was kinda stuck in my head.

    His modesty was covered :lol:
    David.Blue and Gibraltar like this.
  7. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 11, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    I always applaud a glimpse of the Federation outside of Starfleet, so you have me there from the start.
    The setup also just has me rivetted--who is the person and what is her history? That I actually felt a level of exhaustion reading this says something very positive about your writing.
    TheLoneRedshirt and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  8. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    This lockdown has definitely been harder than I expected, so put a little something of myself into this piece.