T'Shaini 06-28-2009 08:26:11 PM
Dead Space: Desecration

::USS Chimera::

"I heard you say my name." The engineer said as he gently tapped his head. "I heard you when I was in the forest with Aja.." His fingers found the material of a bandage. Tracing the extent of the bandage and how it was wrapped around his head, the officer looked up at the counselor. "How long have I been here? What happened to..?" A cry from across the room caused Javier to seek the source of the exclamation of someone in pain. His eyes found Crewman Mills; the engineer was writhing on a biobed as a member of the medical staff administered a hypo to Del. Shifting his glance across the room Javier saw Dr. Ayre zip a plastic bag over Cadet Byeva's still form. "No." the Chief Engineer sat up in the bed, wincing at the sudden flare of pain in his head. "Where's Li? What happened after the evacuation?"

Following his gaze, T'Shaini had put out her hand to still the abrupt movement, then ran her hand down his arm to squeeze his hand before answering. "The radiation interfered with the ability to transport her out, by the time the medical team got to her…it was too late. I am so sorry."

The sound of a child crying punctuated the news that Li Yeoh had become a victim of the attack on the Chimera. Javier shook his head slowly. "I didn't get to her in time. I.." The sound of the child reminded him of Lia. Javier found the source of the crying, Edded Feeya. Her mother, Baya sat close by, holding a baby. Tears stained the faces of both mother and child. It didn't even dawn on Javier that Baya had had her baby. "Petty Officer Edded? Towak? He's not among the dead is he?" he asked T'Shaini unable to tear his eyes away from Baya and her children.

"No, no…" She had only heard the bits and pieces that had drifted over as she had stood by Javier, but she did know that. "he is responding to treatment." T'Shaini could feel the pull at Javier as he looked across the room and there was little she could do to relieve it. If he were not the sort of man that felt every loss in his department keenly, it would not be the department it was. Though she would not wish to change him, she would give anything to be able to ease his pain. "Del too, his treatment was administered in time, it will be a long recovery, but they will make it…" She hesitated, there was more she had overheard and seen. "But Jeremy Eight, he…like Li, remained too long, certain he could assist…"

"He couldn't, neither could Li," Javier interjected in a bitter voice that was steeled against the pain he felt at the loss of two good engineers and one trainee who had shown great promise. "They should have listened to me when I told them to evacuate. Insubordination is what got them killed." His hands clenched into a fists. "What did Cadet Byeva do? Stay to make sure the computer was certain it was a radiation leak? He probably got himself killed too."

"Javier," T'Shaini's voice was low and soothing. She understood the need to justify, to rationalize…anything to cope with the pain of loss, but this road would be one that would cause more pain in the long run. "they did what they thought was right at the time, it is possible that if they had left when you gave the order to evacuate that they would still be alive." She laid her hand on his tightly clenched fist. "It is also possible that the damage was already done and we still would have lost them, it is also possible that something they did in those last seconds saved countless other lives aboard the Chimera."

"It is not left to their discretion to decide what is right," Javier argued quietly, "it is my decision. All they have to do is follow my orders." He swallowed as he looked from Mills, to the bag in which Lasander Byeva lay to the tearful Edded Baya. "This is my fault, I've been too lax with them. I've allowed them to become complacent and in doing so they've begun to question my orders." He sat up and slipped his legs off of the biobed. "I should go.."

T'Shaini moved in closer, she ached for him and Baya and all the rest. "No, you have created an environment where free thought is encouraged, that allows personalities like Kal El's to do great things and one's like Del to blossom."

"At what cost? Three lives, three engineers who would not have died if they'd have obeyed orders." Javier stood to his feet. For a moment he felt as if the room was spinning then the engineer regained his balance. "To great a price for Kal-El's ego or for Del's.." His voice bled away as he looked over to where the young man lay. "From now on I'll make sure they understand." I have to. I don't want to lose anyone else. He stepped over to where the Edded family waited. Kneeling beside Feeya, and in front of Baya, the engineer offered the family what words of encouragement he could muster. Javier kissed the forehead of the newest addition to the Bajoran family before taking his leave of them. "I believe someone should tell Katie Ibrahim that they are here. Perhaps she could watch the children while Baya remains," the Chief Engineer suggested to the Chief Counselor.

T'Shaini nodded. "I will take care of that."

"Then I must see to the ship," Javier explained as he took T'Shaini's hand and squeezed it in affection.

The Vulcan nodded again and as he walked away leaned back on the biobed as a wave of her ever-present fatigue washed over her. When will this be done? She searched sickbay to see if there was anywhere she should be before pushing herself off the bed and moving on, on to contact Katie…and the Golnarrans, they deserved to hear of the latest developments. As she turned out into the corridor her step hitched as she remembered the strange connection as he awoke.

Perhaps I should not bandy it about that the Chief Engineer and Counselor are hearing voices…

Benjamin Hyde Pierce 06-30-2009 01:54:22 PM
(From the toxin induced dream state of BHP's mind.)

-Sigma Iotia II-
-Garru Territory-

There was a slight drizzle coming down, just enough to make the streets and alleyways slick, and reflect the soft, low lighting of the streetlights in the sheen of water as it pooled on the sidewalks and ran in sluggish avenues along the low curb. The rain hit the summer pavement and hissed like grease hitting a hot skillet. Standing in the doorway, hidden in the shadows from the lights and cooking in the sultry night air, Ben waited. His blue eyes watched the front of the furniture store, searching the shadows created by the wide awning that spanned the front of the store. Sweat rivulets ran from his hair down his face and into his collar, but the Iotian trigger man didn't make a move for his handkerchief or try to wipe away the sweat. He had found two of the guards and was waiting on the third to make his presence known.

The third man was the most important; the other two were saps but Orno had said the third man was no push-over. He was a real hatchetman, a pro that had been brought in to protect the fifty grand that was being moved from the furniture store racket. He was a professional and word on the street was that the Garru family had laid down a thick wad of dough to retain the hired bruno. So far he had not shown himself, but Ben could wait a little longer. He'd waited over an hour, standing in the doorway of the tailor shop across the street, until the first guard had reveal his position in the window above the awning. The light in the second-story room was switched off but someone had opened the door and in the brief flash of the hallway lights Ben had seen the man holding the sawed off. The second guard was in plain sight, sitting in a car in the alley. The car's engine wasn't running but Ben knew the wheelman's hand would be on the ignition when the pick-up car arrived.

Ben flexed his fingers. His left hand was shoved into his coat. The butt of the .38 that was tucked into his waistband was so close to his hand that his fingertips brushed against the wooden grips. The gun was old. All of the guys in Orno's crew had fallen out when they had seen the heater. But when they had seen how he could shoot with it, placing six shots in a quarter-sized grouping, they'd stopped laughing. But they hadn't stopped ribbing him about his clothes. His threadbare suit and faded ties were always pressed and brushed clean but it was easy to see that Ben didn't have a dime to his name.

After tonight that will change though. Pierce told himself.

A match flared in the darkness. The flame was cupped in the button man's hands and brought close to his cigarette which was lit carefully. The match was then tossed down at his feet where it was quickly extinguished by the wet cement. Ben marked the spot under the awning where he had seen the match flare. "You just dropped a dime on yourself Pal," he whispered as his hand tightened around the pistol's handle.

The pick-up car swung around the corner and pulled up in front of the furniture store. The warehouse for the business was situated behind the store and it was in that part of the building the Garrus ran the numbers. Their weekly take had been modest for the most part so the Morellos had ignored the small timers. But then the Garrus had begun expanding, taking territory, gambling rings and brothels from Rula Pako's crew and bringing in almost as much dough as the Morellos. The Garrus had expanded into Don Morello's territory without paying the crime boss due respect and so Ben found himself involved in a large scale takeover of the Garrus family holdings.

Two more guards stepped out of the furniture store and walked towards the car. One man held a chopper, the barrel pointing low but ready, the other was the bag-man, holding a leather suitcase that was full of the weekly take. Ben waited a moment then drew his pistol, aimed and fired from the darkened doorway. The sound of the shot was magnified and the slug thumped into the chopper man's chest and knocked him backward. The pro was already pulling his heater as the bag-man jumped into the backseat of the car. Ben was moving though, sprinting out of the shadow then pulling up quickly on the sidewalk to take aim. His shot was high but hit his intended target, slamming into the guard in the second story window. The man cried out as the shot struck him in the stomach, he folded forward, his finger pulling the sawn off's trigger. Buckshot sprayed the awning as it tore through the fabric and hit the button man in the side, jerking his body as the professional pulled the trigger of his .45.

Pierce felt the lead burn close to his cheek as he closed the distance between himself and the wounded man. The pick-up car's wheels spun on the wet pavement as the driver hit the gas. The car shuddered then shot forward before it was blindsided by the guard's car. The pick-up car was slammed aside and the driver's head smashed into the side window. Ben's third shot put the hatchetman down. The guard exited his car and sprayed the pick-up car's windows with lead from his chopper. The man had sold out the Garrus for a piece of the action and a grand from the take.

His shoes tapped against the pavement as Ben walked over to the button man and kicked the .45 out of his grasp. The professional killer looked up at Ben, taking in how he was dressed and the heater he carried. "A bum, I got shot by a bum," the man coughed as blood stained his silk suit.

"I ain't no bum, not with the fifty grand take I just scored from you and your goons," Ben said before he shot the Garrus' button man. The Iotian reached down and picked up the .45 and pocketed it before heading over towards the pick-up car. He opened the passenger door and looked into the interior. Blood, glass and gore were splattered all over the vehicle's upholstery and the driver looked as if his head had been run through a meat grinder. The bag man was cowering on the floorboards.

"Give me the case," Ben demanded. His .38 was covering the man.

"Take it," the man cried as he pushed the case towards Pierce, "just don't shoot me."

"I ain't gonna shoot ya, I just want the dough," Ben said as he took the case then turned to walk away. The guard turned traitor was beside him. The man stuck his tommy-gun's barrel through the open door and let the helpless Garrus man have a face full of lead.

"Whaddaya do that for?" Ben asked the man angrily as they ran towards the car. "He wasn't gonna pull a rod.."

"Orno said to send them a message," the traitor answered as he slid behind the wheel of the car and reversed, then peeled away from the scene. The car barreled down the street then slid around a corner before the former Garrus associate shoved the gas pedal to the floorboard and they sped towards Morello territory.

Simba Wekesa 06-30-2009 08:43:47 PM

U.S.S. Chimera
Outside Tactical Office - Deck 3 Beta

"Any close-range scans you can get of their weapons systems would be immensely helpful. We might technically outgun them, but they decimated our shields with their ion weapon before we could do any serious damage," Simba was informing Commander Finn as a small group of officers made their way down the corridor and into the main security and tactical complex.

As Finn had no doubt anticipated, Captain Torrik had approved his plan to conduct a reconnaissance mission while the crippled Federation starship underwent repairs, and it was now left to Finn, Wekesa, and Peress, acting security chief, to develop some kind of strategy for defending against the Yith warship before they faced it again. While the shuttle was being prepared for launch, there was plenty of time to get the first officer up to speed on what they had seen so far.

"I don't think the rest of the weapons can even be our primary concern at this point," Peress pointed out. "We have to assume they'll have repaired the ion cannon by our next engagement, given how heavily they relied on it during the last battle."

"I have some thoughts on that," Wekesa replied as they passed under a flickering light and entered the Chief of Tactical's office. Simba sat down behind his desk and gestured toward the other two chairs. "Er, feel free to move our blue friend there wherever you can find room… it came with the office, I'm afraid," he added as he eyed the spikey plant which currently occupied one of the seats. If he didn't know better, he'd have sworn it had gotten even bigger since this morning.

Another time, Harry might have appreciated the irony of being dogged by the plant he himself had put in Wekesa's office but the casualties Chimera had taken, the missing crew and the x-factor of the reptilian assault force had closed off everything but the job. Remaining on his feet, he took some wall and crossed his arms over his chest, "We also can't assume this is their only ship. Whatever we catch up to might be the one crippled vessel or a fleet of Frankenships… or a planet or space station. This race is a question mark…" he chewed over that a moment, then, "but first, yes, let's address the knowns, starting with the cannon," he looked at Wekesa.

Simba tapped the control pad on his desk and brought up tactical readouts of the weapon on the office's large wall display. "I've run a preliminary analysis of the cannon based on our limited sensor scans of the ship itself, as well as the damage done to the Chimera. As I'm sure you already know, the concept of an ion weapon isn't particularly rare, though I have never seen one built on this scale before. Essentially, the weapon works by creating either a strong negative or positive charge in the energy beam. The charged plasma disrupts any electrical circuitry it comes across, not unlike a localized electromagnetic pulse. So it isn't so much that it drains our energy as it disables our power systems from distributing that energy and thereby shuts down any devices that use it- in this case, our shields. The Chimera is pretty well EMI-shielded in general, so we are lucky that most of our systems aren't damaged. This thing has the potential to simply destroy most of the circuitry it encounters."

He glanced around the room to make sure Finn and Peress were still with him. It seemed that they were, so he continued. "If we could alter the electrical charge of our shields to the inverse of the ion beam, we should theoretically be able to neutralize the weapon when it contacts the shields. Positive charge plus negative charge of equal strength and we get neutral. I think we could probably use the deflector dish to control the charge of our shields. The biggest problem is that the alien ion cannon doesn't maintain a constant charge. It's constantly fluctuating between positive and negative, which is part of the reason it is so effective. We'd need to find a way to modulate our shields to match it almost instantaneously, or the whole thing is useless."

“Make use of Atropos, in that process,” Harry said. “She can calculate and incorporate necessary modulations in the time it would take a biologic to process that a change was necessary. Given recent events, I imagine she’ll feel highly motivated to protect herself from further outages.” He made an internal note to inform Nils that the crew needed to gain a better understanding of the Fates and their applications, ASAP. “You may need to pull her off of her other systems, in the moment but, in this case, it’s a tactical advantage I refuse to ignore.” He straightened, took two steps, hit plant, turned, took two back. “Another possibility, if we find more than one vessel, is going MVM. Attie would be confined to the tertiary but that would also give her less mass to cover. Gamma could spearhead the assault, take out anything that even looks like an ion cannon and clear the road for Alpha and Beta sections to come in and clean up."

Simba nodded. "Multi-vector assault would certainly give us an edge against that ship. So far, we've only seen evidence of a single ion turret… three separate targets would definitely give us more time, even if we aren't able to successfully neutralize all of their shots." He punched some numbers into his terminal. "Atropos would definitely be an asset there… she should be able to calculate quickly enough to neutralize 75% of the shots, maybe more if we can establish a pattern." The tactical officer had to admit that the so-called Fates made him more uncomfortable than anything. But as long as he remembered that they were basically still an extension of the ship's computer, they could be useful in situations like this.

"We should also consider transferring civilians and any non-essential personnel to the alpha section and having it hang back unless needed," Zane added. "We know the aliens take prisoners, and we don't know what becomes of those prisoners. I'd prefer to minimize the risk of them taking more."

"Agreed," Simba replied. Turning to the first officer, he changed the subject. "Commander, do you have any thoughts in terms of planning a rescue for the hostages that have already been taken?"

"My first thought is no one else get's venom'd, which means I want options for some 'anti-poison claw' armor," Finn responded. "My second is that, we saw them stripped of their combadges and our sensors worked for shit in dealing with the enemy vessel. To that end, if we want to get anyone back, it'll have to be by inserting a tactical strike team. We've already seen that energy-based weapons, like the sensors and tricorders, are hit or miss against the enemy, which means arming with projectiles and variable phase weapons and some lower tech explosives.

"But don't mistake me," he added, his voice hard, "if I don't see a reasonable chance of retrieval, I'm not going to spend more lives on a hopeless extraction."

Wekesa shifted his weight uncomfortably. In his short time as the Chimera's Chief of Tactical, he'd been fortunate enough not to lose anyone directly under his command, and he didn't relish the idea of starting now. He cleared his throat and paused for a moment. "Sir… with all due respect, one of my officers is missing. Not to mention Lt. Tenanji… and Govan and Kowalski." And all of those others who he had never even had a chance to meet. "All I am saying is that I don't think we should write them off just yet. Yes, I think we should take whatever precautions we need to protect anyone who participates in a rescue attempt, but it's an attempt we need to make."

"When I want your thoughts, I'll ask for them," Harry snapped though, truth to tell, he was more pissed at the circumstances than at the kid in front of him. Peress, he realized, was holding his breath. "You have one officer lost… I have seven and I want them back… the whole point of this recon is to get them back… but what happens if the shuttle pops out in the middle of a fleet? What if one of their ships can detect or, worse, disable a cloak? What if they've landed on a f**king planet? How do you suggest I find seven people, flying blind?

"The needs of the many, Wekesa," he reminded the younger officer. "It's not just a pretty phrase, it's the truth of life out here and it informs every decision an officer has to make. If you can't live with that, move out of the way for someone who can."

By now Zane had locked his eyes onto his PADD. He hadn't seen this side of Finn for months. Not since Hawthorne… well, not since all the murders. Clearly, the XO was under some stress.

Simba narrowed his eyes and looked back at Finn. Maybe it wasn't the wisest course of action, but today, of all days, he wasn't in the mood for a lesson. "Commander, it's my job to give you my thoughts where tactical matters are concerned. If you have a problem with my performance of my duties, then I suggest we discuss that," he replied cooly. "If not, then what I'm suggesting is that pulling off a rescue is in the needs of the many. This crew needs a victory, and it isn't going to take more losses well considering all that we've been through lately. Nobody is proposing we rush into anything. All I am saying is that I think we can find a way to do this while minimizing our risk." Somehow, he managed to stay calm and keep his voice even, but he was still sure Finn wouldn't react well.

"Then find it," Finn replied, shortly. "You have an hour to come up with everything I requested. If you also happen to glean a way to identify seven variously specied lifeforms with snafu'd sensors, deliver that, too." He looked at Peress, "I want a list of officers capable of handling projectiles, demolitions, hand-to-hand and at least one other who can fly a Cardassian shuttle. Get it together in fifteen minutes, copied to Lt. Wekesa. " He swung back to the tactical officer, "Armor, functioning tricorders, and a back up com system if you can manage it, and I'll want Fehr prepped and on that shuttle." With that, and one more vitriolic glare for good measure, he turned and strode from the room.

Once in the corridor, however, Harry came to a stop as the weight of actual and potential loss collided with the not insignificant stresses of his last few days, just trying to get back to the Chimera. Shake it off… he has to get used to your temper, sometime… He let out a long, slow breath and continued on to check the Royal Flush's personal armory.

Watching the first officer depart, and not a moment too soon, Simba refocused his attention on his terminal and the still-silent security officer seated across from him.

"Congratulations," Peress finally said with a forced grin, "You've just survived your first Finnplosion."

Simba huffed a little. "If that's the worst thing I have to deal with for the rest of the day, I'll consider myself lucky. Now, let's see what we can do about getting that shuttle outfitted and ready to go…"

A joint post with our always-so-cheerful first officer, Harry Finn.

Benjamin Hyde Pierce 06-30-2009 10:43:42 PM
-Sola's Nightclub-
-Morello Territory-

The candle at the center of the table barely cast any light, which was fine with Ben. If there had been more light in the club, it would have revealed that his eyes never strayed from the stage, or from the singer who performed that night. His fedora had a wide brim and helped hide his eyes but there were times that BHP swore that she knew he was looking at her. The red-headed singer would look directly at him while she crooned the lyrics of the new jazz 'classics'. Ben found himself wondering how she would feel when he held her tightly or what sensations would arise when he kissed the woman's cherry lips.

"I'm a fool to want you, I'm a fool to want you. To want a love that can't be true.." she sang softly into the microphone, her gloved hands cradling the amplifier.

Ben watched as the singer's gaze dropped to the floor. In that moment he felt an overwhelming desire to be close enough to lift her eyes to his so he could look into their depths. There was a story that said she was Rilu's moll, but Pierce didn't think there was any truth to the statement. Rilu was notorious for beating his gums, being a talker and not an associate given to action. He stood to his feet and slipped through the dancers that stood between Ben and the stage. As the band continued to play, the singer swayed gently to the music, her eyes downcast until Ben stepped close to her. "I'd like to dance with you," he said, " you dinner." The courage must have come with the new suit, the dark blue and white pinstriped double-breasted suit had been bought with Ben's cut from the heist.

The eyes, when they rose to meet his, were grey… and wary. A gloved hand moved the microphone away and she leaned down towards the man, "I ain't no roundheels, mister," came the whispered response. "Just because a gal takes to the stage, that don't mean she's up for auction."

"Just because a guy offers to buy you dinner don't mean he wants to go six rounds with you in between the shee.." Ben's voice dropped away into nothing when he realized how edgy his tone sounded. Taking a breath and releasing it, he tried again. "Sometimes dinner is just dinner. C'mon doll, I scored big and I need someone to help me spread the dough around. Get a lobster dinner if you want."

Through his explanation, wariness had jumped to active suspicion and then, finally, softened… a bit. Biting her lip she turned and waved to the bandleader, who was just bringing the number to an end. Seeing her jerk her head towards her swank admirer, he gave a grin and picked up his trumpet, blowing out the first notes of an instrumental number that was making the rounds. Turning back, she offered an apologetic smile, "Sorry for the hard answer," she said, stepping down from the low stage and looking up, under the brim of Ben's fedora, "I didn't mean nothing by it. It's just, the last fella who asked me out, he had all the bees and well… all he did want was six rounds between the… you know…" Then, quite surprisingly, she began to blush and her eyes turned downwards. "It's just, a girl needs to be careful in this town, is all."

"Yeah, it ain't a place for a dish like yourself to be very trusting," Ben acknowledged, "there's plenty of punks around who would take advantage of a dame." His fingers lifted her chin, bringing her gaze up to meet his as Ben's blue eyes explored the depths of grey. A familiar feeling came over him as his unguarded inspection of the canary's striking features led Ben to slip a protective arm around her waist. "I ain't like that sap Rilu." From her reaction, the widening of her eyes, Ben knew he had hit the nail on the head. He took her hand and began to move slowly in time to the music. It was a slow dance number. "Vela punched him in the kisser when he tried that con on her," he said smiling down at the singer. Everyone knew Vela, she was a regular at the club and a pro skirt at Sola's other business. But Ben hoped that Jenny would see that Rilu was a known creep and not everyone in the Morello crew was a thug.

"I wish I'd thought of that, when Rilu's hands started wandering," Jenny admitted. "But then," her smile returned and now it was a bit wicked, "he did get to meet my good friend, Mr. Derringer, up close and personal." Saying that, the chanteuse dropped a hand to her dress and drew the hem up just enough for the silver barrel of the .22 to be seen. "A present from my Pop, before he got iced." A shadow flew across her features and Jenny let the soft fabric of the dress fall back before her hand returned to rest lightly Ben's shoulder. "Rilu knows I'm not a can house canary, now, no matter how much sugar he's willing to throw around."

Ben swallowed. His mouth had gone dry when the singer had lifted her dress to show him the heater stowed in her garter, the sight of her well-shaped gams making his heart beat a little faster. The trouble with Rilu is that he don't take no for an answer when it comes to the dames. Ben thought. He saw Jenny look over his shoulder, her eyes fixed on something behind him. His eyes shifted to the high gloss back on the stage piano, in the highly polished reflection he could see two of Rilu's men approaching him. "It's okay, I see them," Ben told Jenny. He waited, dancing with the beautiful young woman until he felt a hand pluck his elbow.

"Mister Rilu doesn't like it when some mug messes with his dame, you better ankle it Pal," one of the thugs warned. They were small timers, hired muscle that Rilu relied upon to do his work. And Ben had to smile because he knew that the new threads had kept his identity secret.

"Excuse me," he whispered to Jenny. Turning, he looked up at the two men from beneath the fedora's brim so they could clearly see his face. Ben enjoyed watching recognition flare on the two thugs' features. He wasn't made yet, but he had a good start and the associates and their muscle knew who he was. The recent heist had earned him the respect from the family and there was talk of making him a soldier to one of the Morello capos. "You know who am I?" he asked the two.

"Yeah, no disrespect but the boss.." one of the henchmen started. He jerked his head towards the back where Ben knew the associates were having their own party.

"Tell Rilu he needs to find another dame," Ben stated with a hard edge to his words. His eyes were glacial as he stared down the two thugs. "Because if there's a problem.." His hand moved towards the inside of his coat where the nickel plated .45 was holstered.

"Rilu won't like this," one of the goons said as they backed away.

"I ain't losing any sleep over what Rilu doesn't like," Ben answered. He watched the men leave then turned back to his dance partner. "Sorry," he apologized, his hand slipping out of his suit coat, "Rilu never was one to learn a lesson the first time."

“I'm not so sure he'll catch on after the second.” Her eyes fixed on his, a cocktail of worry and admiration, “You’re really not like them others… Rilu or his brunos.” She slid closer and her voice lowered, “I like that you’re different.”

"I ain't all that different." His eyes held hers as Ben's head lowered, bringing his face closer to Jenny's. "I see a beautiful dame, I want certain things too. But I got respect for dames, I got respect for you, I want you to like being with me because of who I am, not how much dough I can spend. The Iotian gangster smiled. "Although having dough don't hurt a guy's chances none." His arm slid around her waist again, holding the singer a little closer this time. "Where would you like to go for dinner?" he asked.

"I'd like," she began, breathlessly, "I'd like," her brows crinkled, as if she were having trouble focusing and, as she did, the music shifted once again and the sudden rising notes had her eyes widening, "I'd like to go to the Blue Diner… after I finish this set!" Then, just as the band leader looked about to come down pull his songbird back to the microphone, Jenny spun away and hopped up to the stage, just in time to slide into the first words of the song, "I put a spell on you… because you're mine…"

Ben stood where she had left him, watching as Jenny sang, while couples danced around him. The bright lights above the stage made her creamy skin look even more enticing. A sudden prick against the nape of his neck made Ben flinch. He turned to find the piker that was clowning on him. The lights grew brighter in the club but the Iotian couldn't see anyone close, just vague shapes that were undefined. A blinding flash of pain came over him as Ben felt a chiv stab him in the neck.

"I'm zotzed!" the security officer exclaimed as he looked up at the lizard. Lizard! It was the lizard from the ship..the one he and Jamal had shot. The lizard slithered away from him and began to hiss at another one who was standing over a woman in medical blue. "Hey, get your paws off her!" BHP yelled. His vision began to swim then everything got so blurry he couldn't distinguish any lizards or the woman. "You slipped me a mickey"

JP with Jenny Anderson, the canary.

Luku 07-2-2009 10:37:34 AM
::USS Chimera::

"Deck One."

The Turbolift beeped in acknowledgment before quickly ascending towards its destination.

As the doors opened Luku took a step forward to leave…then paused. "Do I really want to do this?" she thought to herself, "Do I really want to drag the XO into my problems?"

With another beep the turbolift doors swung shut and the lift began to descend, already on its way to transport someone else through the ship. Luku turned and watched the small display as it showed her the lift's new path. When the doors opened again a pair of engineers strolled on and stood neatly at the rear of the lift.

"Deck Six, Beta Section."

As the lift beeped once again in reply the engineers went back to a conversation that seemed to have been interrupted by the lifts arrival.

"So I told her, just because the man has three wives at home, doesn't make him an expert in subtext…if she wants him, she'll have to walk right up to the man and flash him a hint or two."

The second engineer snorted, "And what did she say to that?"

"She slapped me! You ever been slapped by a gal with webbed hands? It’s like someone throwing a wet towel in your face!"

The lift came to a stop and the two men departed, Luku watched them leave, took a deep breath and tried again.

"Deck One."

Once more the doors opened, and this time the diminutive S'ti'ach disembarked. A few steps further down the corridor had her facing the door to Commander Finn’s office. The already imposing doors taking on an even more menacing posture in Luku's mind…

Taking a deep breath the S'ti'ach straightened her uniform.

"Computer, please ring Commander Finn's door."

“Yeah, come in,” Harry, pacing, looked up from the PADD upon which he was composing a letter. Seeing the small officer, he dropped the correspondence onto his desk, face down. “Cadet… Luku, right? Did Peress send you up?” he asked. He hadn’t made any decisions on his team, as yet, though the S'ti’ach was one of the crew members on the list the lieutenant had forwarded. He wondered if the lizards were colour-blind… he should check on that autopsy…

Luku's ears dipped a fraction at the XO's query, "N-No sir, I have come here myself to…well…" The S'ti'ach's ears twitched, a physical sign post further showing the cadets nerves. "I have heard that you are planning a shuttle mission to rescue the away team and…" Luku paused briefly, straightening herself up, "I need to be on that team sir!"

“Sure” Harry said in a bright, almost cheery voice most of the crew had come to know… and dread. “Is there anything else you need? A brandy, some raw targ, a sentient metallic claw, maybe?” His expression didn’t alter but his voice did lose the sarcasm, which only made it worse. “What you need is irrelevant to me. What those missing crew need, what the Chimera and her remaining, close to two hundred souls need, that is at issue, here.”

The S'ti'ach's ears now laid completely flat against the sides of her head, the small 'bubble' of fear she had brought into the office was now fully inflated, causing Luku's words to catch in her throat. "Y-Yes sir, I did not mean to imply anything to the opposite I just meant….I feel that my behaviour aboard the Kullaa may have helped towards the away teams capture… I wish to make amends for that mistake sir. I wish to serve and protect this ship and this crew like I was supposed to be doing on the Kullaa…"

When Luku mentioned a mistake, Harry’s eyes darted briefly towards the PADD he’d laid on the desk before coming back to rest on the nerve-wracked cadet. “That’s, possibly, commendable,” he replied, wondering what in the seven hells had gone down on the Kullaa prior to the invasion… he’d have to check up on that, “but so far you’re not doing a lot to sell me on why you’d be an asset to this team.” Remembering something Wendy had said about ‘body language’ and ‘intimidation’, he leaned back against his desk and shoved his hands in his pockets, regulations be damned. “So,” he said, while internally counting the minutes until the planned launch, “what’s your pitch?”

"W-Well sir, going on what I have overheard, you are planning a stealth mission? Prior to my assignment here I was part of a team under Captain Daguerre's command that infiltrated and destroyed a Romu…" Luku caught herself, barely, "an enemy weapons platform. I am experienced with most kinds of Starfleet weaponry, have a basic knowledge of explosives, as well as having a To'ka'ta rating in the usage of the S'ti'ach Les'trum's…

Luku paused for a moment, her mind looking for an equivalent in Federation Standard. "I believe Starfleet calls them…Rail guns?"

Most of this was in the file Peress had forwarded, Harry was interested to see the ears perking back up but it wasn't enough… yet. He gave it one more go. “Which would be great, if Chimera had any rail guns. Or Kowalski were on board to build one.” The engineer had experience in creative tech requirements. “Right now, we are at T-minus 53 minutes to launch and I need a team ready to insert, threat assess, search and rescue in T-minus 30. I don’t need anyone who thinks they have to prove something or looks like they’ll curl into a ball the first sign of aggression. I know what a S'ti’ach is capable of,” he said, just barely keeping a hand from running over his throat, “I need to know if you will be able to confront and defeat the enemy, when push comes to shove. If you can’t, I don’t care how small you are, or what you're proficient in, there’s no room on that shuttle.”

Luku straightened up again, determined to look the XO directly in the eyes as she spoke, "I promise you sir, if I go I will not run in the face of danger, I will stand with you and your team and execute my duties to the very best of my ability." The S'ti'ach's ears shot bolt upright as a thought crossed her mind. "Also, I know of a way to have Rail guns ready in time for the mission’s departure…"

He didn’t answer right off but remained still, studying the eager cadet. There was no way of knowing what ran through the first officer’s mind but, after a moment, he gave a short nod, “Fine. The briefing will be in the Royal Flush, main shuttle bay at 1322 hours. You get a safely functioning rail gun ready in time, you get to use it.” Luku stared, Harry sighed. “You won, cadet, you get to go on a possibly hopeless mission with a high chance of mortality. Now you’re dismissed.”

"Yes sir." Luku saluted sharply before heading out of the office. "Well En'taali, you are on the mission," she thought to herself as she entered the turbolift, "now the big question is…can you get those plans in time?"

"I can," Luku answered herself out loud, "I know I can. Deck Four."

The lift beeped and sent the S'ti'ach on her way…
This has been a JP with your friendly neighbourhood XO.

T'Shaini 07-4-2009 05:23:17 PM
::USS Chimera::
::Counselor's Office::

"I am off to sickbay, thanks for letting me know…and don't push yourself either…" Katie warned as the connection faded out. T'Shaini nodded absentmindedly at the dark screen before tucking her hair back behind her ears and sitting up straight, she needed to contact Ahatsunu regarding the latest developments and she needed her thoughts in order, and for whatever reason it always felt that if she arranged her outside, the inside would see reason and follow suit.

When the screen brightened once again, she was seated with her hands folded in her lap, the now familiar face of the Golnarran envoy filling her vision. A series of pleasantries were exchanged, T'Shaini cautiously wading through the ritualistic greeting, not that she felt as though she would be faulted for not adhering to a ritual she did not understand, but the Counselor…Ambassador trusted that her effort would signal her good will. And truly, the more she attempted, the more she would discover about the culture. After dismissing the brief wish that it could be done with more leisure and under better circumstances, the pair wrapped up the prelude.

"I am sorry to be the bearer of ill news, but we have boarded the Kullaa and sad to say we were clearly not the first to do so." T'Shaini began slowly, watching the face of Ahatsunu for any changes. The most she could detect was the long pupils that spanned her eyes seemed to contract. "We found the crew laid out in the cargo bay…I am so sorry Ahatsunu, there were no survivors." The Golnarran's head tipped back as if trying to prevent tears from falling, but then a high soft keening sound was heard that raised the hair on the back of Vulcan's neck. "I am so sorry, but I need to ask you a few questions." T'Shaini ventured once Ahatsunu had returned her gaze, the elongated features showing little of the pain evidenced by the mourning keen. The barest inclination of her head (his head?) allowed the Vulcan to continue. "Our away team has met with who, presumably, is responsible for the deaths of the crew of the Kullaa and we need to know whatever you can tell us of them. If I may send you a still of what we have seen." There was no need to subject the envoy to an entire review, identification of the species and some knowledge that would aid in the search was all she was seeking. T'Shaini was by no means expecting the response the picture filled the viewscreen elicited. The Golnarran leaned back and hissed in surprise…dismay…disbelief? T'Shaini could not yet read the features well enough to tell.

"Yith." The hiss mutated and took form, a word?


"There are tales of our people, stories to frighten young ones who misbehave, of the Yith, creatures that haunted our system, preying on the Golnarran, siphoning their essence for their own purposes." Ahatsunu's long fingers pressed together. "We grow and dismiss such stories as fantasies to frighten children…are you telling me that they exist?"

"I cannot vouch for the validity of your tales, I can only show you what our sensors recorded. And if what I have shown you seems to embody the stories of your culture we can assume that they, as many stories are, based in fact. Or in enough that whatever you can tell me of them to assist in tracking them down and retrieving our crew would be much appreciated."

Ahatsunu looked around, as if seeking approval for the conversation, then with a slight nod turned back to the viewscreen. "There is little I can tell you, they are spoken of as nomads….'children of space', as if they sprung to existence to harry the Golnarran, their touch is poisonous and if they capture you, you are sentenced to a lifelong slavery of unimaginable despair." There was a widening of her eyes that signaled amusement to the Vulcan. "Dramatic I know, but I can only tell you what is told to children who will not eat their supper or do their chores…"

"I thank you for whatever information you can impart." T'Shaini wrapped up the transmission with a troubled countenance, the ending pleasantries like sawdust in her mouth. She had been hoping for more that this, something…anything to aid the search for their abducted crew.

What am I to tell Nils, that we are seeking a bogeyman created to frighten children?

Javier Costala 07-4-2009 05:35:16 PM
"The repairs are two-thirds complete on Deck 13, it only had light damage and very little radiation made its way onto that deck. Crewman Mills immediately activated the containment field after clearing the lower warp core area, and in doing so kept that deck clear for the most part," Lieutenant Tehamia reported to the Chief Engineer in a verbal sit-rep. "All three shifts are working and once the radiation was contained and vented, we immediately began repairing the damage." The engineer checked her environment suit's oxygen levels then proceeded to fasten the suit over her duty uniform. "Deck 11 is in the same boat. Jeremy and Towak sealed off the area as quickly as they could, but since they were in Upper Engineering.."

"..there was a heavier concentration of radiation." Javier finished Tehamia sentence. He could imagine the scenario as she explained it.

"Yes Commander, the reports say Jeremy dragged Towak out and then sealed the containment field," Tehamia explained with some difficulty. She had been fond of the impulsive, young engineer and found it hard to admit that Jeremy Eight was gone.

"And Deck 13?" Javier asked as an inner turmoil began to build within him. His engineers had performed their duties as they had been trained to do. In sickbay he had been quick to blame them for not following orders, but the more he listened the more he realized that the engineers had been acting upon his orders, and doing what they had been trained to do to keep the ship and their crewmates safe. "What about Main Engineering?" he asked as he secured the fasteners on the environment suit. The computer had stated that Main Engineering was free of ion radiation but the engineer wasn't taking any chances. The team that would be accompanying him into the warp core containment area would be fully prepared. He had no idea what would happen when the core was brought back online. Ion particles had been dangerously high when he had shut down the core. Because the negatively charged ions could create a surge that would loop back and overload the injectors, the engineer had opted to take a small team into Main Engineering so he could restart the core and maintain it's stability with one other engineer.

The Chief Engineer hermetically sealed the suit then used the wrist-mounted tricorder to began an active ion particle scan. Javier was curious to know exactly how charged the air inside Main Engineering would be even after the radiation had been vented. Lieutenant Tehamia would need to have a good idea so that when she began to bombard the containment area and core with protons they could effectively manage the process. Normally they could have used the sensors within Engineering to monitor the process but since the damage from the radiation leak had been extensive, they had field-promoted Ensign Fenton Boyce and Ensign Jax monitoring the situation from Beta sections engineering. They would also utilize Beta sections sensor array to direct protons at the core once Javier brought it back online.

"Ready Lieutenant?" Javier inquired via the suit's commlink.

"Ready Chief," Tehamia replied as she adjusted her tricoder then followed Lt. Commander out the doors of the makeshift engineer's supply room. There were small caches of equipment in makeshift supply rooms all across Decks 11, 12 and 13 for engineers to get what they needed while repairing the ship. Besides equipment, there was also an aid station and replicators set up so the engineers could eat on the go.

"Boyce? Jax? Do you acknowledge?" the Chief asked as he moved down the corridor toward the sealed doors of Main Engineering.

"Acknowledged Chief," both officers replied in unison. Javier almost smiled.

"Paven, can you see us?" Javier asked the engineer on the bridge.

"Yes Commander, if there is even a hint at there being a problem I will transport you out.."

"At the first sign of trouble transport Lt. Tehamia out," Javier said firmly, "do not transport me out until you receive my direct order to do so." There was silence over the communications channel. "Petty Officer Bayel those are your orders, if you are unable to carry them out you will be removed from duty."

"Understand Commander," Paven answered with a sigh of resignation.

"Good, please override the containment code for Main Engineering." The Chief Engineer waited a moment before the doors slid open. After a precursory check of the systems, he and Tehamia proceeded to the warp containment area. Inside the forcefield lay the still form of Lieutenant Li Yeoh. Tehamia scanned the room then gave Paven permission to drop the field. Javier approached Li's body, leaning down he picked the woman up in his arms then carried her out to a waiting medical team. Javier laid Li down on the black bag and silently watched as a nurse checked the body then zipped the bag closed over Li.

"All engineers have been accounted for," he reported, over the open comm, then without another word Javier returned to the repairs. He didn't feel sad. He didn't feel remorse. He didn't feel anything but the need to make the ship work to its full potential. And repay the bastards that caused this. Then he began to feel again.

Harry Finn 07-5-2009 01:34:07 PM
USS Chimera
First Officer’s Quarters

Harry reviewed the information on his desktop screen one last time. He’d minutes left to get to the shuttle… rushing as always. No time to say hello, or goodbye, to anyone.

He double-checked the list of personnel slated to receive his transmission: Vice Admiral Khouri-Kaz Elva, Commanding Officer Jericho Station - Megiddo III; Fleet Admiral Alynna Nechayev, Special Operations, SFC Earth; Rear Admiral Pev, USS Ark Royal; Captain Toryn Kaz, Executive Officer, Jericho Station - Megiddo III; Commander Evryn Truss, Judge Advocate General, Special Investigations Unit, Earth; Lt. Commander Callan Vail, Starfleet Intelligence, USS Chimera; Captain Torrik Nils, CO, USS Chimera. cc’d to SCPO Maddy Rayne, USS Chimera; Lt. Usher Tenanji, USS Chimera; Lt. Jg Zane Peress, USS Chimera.

There were four others who should know, but that was personal and now, heading into what he was heading into, there was no room for the personal. There was only, as Nils said, the duty.

Feeling strangely neutral, Harry programmed a thirty-minute delay and put the message into the queue. By the time his letter was transmitted, he would be engaged in a what he hoped to be a successful extraction.

The XO rose and walked out of the room, quite possibly, he knew, for the last time. He’d told Wekesa he wouldn’t spend lives needlessly to get their people back. He hadn’t said a thing about spending a life that was already forfeit, as his now was, thanks to the confession he’d just sent into the aether.

Nils would be pissed… but he’d also understand. Hell, he was the one who had pointed it out to Harry… Justice had to be for everyone, or it wasn’t for anyone.

So, it would be for everyone.

Leaving his quarters, Harry went to meet his team, at peace with the knowledge that, one way or another, the First Officer wouldn’t be returning to the Chimera.

Luku 07-5-2009 06:10:17 PM
::USS Chimera::
::Main Armoury::

“How’s it coming Cadet?” The armoury officer asked as he poked his head around the open doorway.

Luku did not look up from the rotating holo-display, she merely shrugged her upper shoulders, “I have got the basic parts out of the Federation Database….and I have rebuilt them along with the power source from what I know myself but,” she pointed at a side panel on the display, “I do not know what materials we used to make the damn things.”

“The Database doesn’t list it?”

“It does not, the Federation only documents its construction, not its composition. I suppose they do not want people to be able to build weapons like this for themselves.”

The armoury officer chuckled humourlessly, “Ironic.”

“Yes, more so that the only person on this ship that would know what compositions to use…Is not on the ship, and is in fact one of the people we need these weapons to save.”

“No-one else on the ship can help you with this?”

Luku’s ears shot upright, then slowly sunk back down until they rested flat against her head. “No…No-one aboard this ship…” The S’ti’ach turned from the display sharply, “I am going to need a sub-space link in here, can you fix that for me?”

The officer nodded and vanished from the doorway, his voice echoing from the next room a short moment later. “You have it!”

The S’ti’ach took a deep breath and turned back to the display, “Computer, connect to the wormhole relay station.”

“Done.” The feminine voice politely informed her.

“Establish a commlink with the Le’Tal of the S’ti’ach Cruiser Ke’al’Les, route the signal through the Federation outpost on S’ti’ach’aas and adjust the carrier wave from there to 225.761.0991.”

“Working,” the computer informed her, “process shall take one minute to complete.”

Luku looked at the time displayed atop the panel in front of her. “That is only going to leave me seven minutes…Oh Twi’kta’nu…”

Luku watched the seconds tick away before the computer spoke once more. “Commlink established.”

The rotating image of the Rail gun shifted to the side, replaced by the face of another S’ti’ach, though this one looked like it had been dragged through a warp core backwards, his fur was the colour of a dark night, though it was easy to see that it was starting to grey at its roots. The S’ti’ach stared down at Luku with his one remaining eye, where the other should rest there was nothing but an old, deep, ugly looking scar.

Luku took a step forwards towards the display and nodded her head respectfully, “Le’Tal.”

The S’ti’ach upon the display bared his teeth and growled heavily, “You dare call me! Me! What do you want Gui’tek?!” he spat.

“I am in need of your aid, Le’Tal.” Luku spoke, head still held low.

“My aid!” The old S’ti’ach laughed deeply, “You cannot be serious! Why would I aid you?”

“Because people will die if you do not.” Luku stated simply, clenching her lower fists tightly.

“Starfleeters? I don’t care for your weak giant friends….Why should I? Hmm? Pitiful things, they come to our world, change our way of life…and can they keep out of trouble for two rotations? No!”

“Enough!” Luku roared, snapping upright to stare the old S’ti’ach straight in the eye, “I called you for help, not to repeat every argument we had over the last twenty one cycles!”

The old S’ti’ach snorted, “I still do not see why I should give you this ‘help’.”

With a crash Luku slammed all four fists into the panel before her, the display rippling for a moment in a pained response. “Because I am your daughter!” The pink S’ti’ach roared, “And even to an idiotic Ka’gal’tok like you, that should still mean something!”

The elderly S’ti’ach leant forwards, teeth fully bared as he spoke. “You dare?!”

“I dare, for what I need is of the utmost importance! Without it, many of the people that I am here to protect will lose their lives…Le’Tal….Father, please, grant me what I ask.”

The black furred S’ti’ach withdrew slowly, his posture softening slightly, but barely… “I shall listen. Ask for what you require.”

Luku tapped a few buttons on her console and brought up the Rail gun schematic so that both sides could see it. As he looked upon it, the old S’ti’ach nodded and smiled in recognition…

“A Les’trum, a fine weapon, what of it?”

Luku withdrew the schematic once more as she spoke, “I need the plans you have on them, the complete ones, down to every detail.”

“Why would you need such a thing? You have always claimed the Starfleeters to hold superior firepower to the Les’trum and its kin.”

The pink S’ti’ach nodded in remembrance of the old arguments, “I did, and I know that to be true, however we now face a foe that is tougher than any I have seen before, and have technology to resist Starfleet’s primary weapons…”

Her father laughed a small, knowing laugh, “I see, so you require a more….primitive way of removing them as an obstacle?”

Luku flinched, “I would not want to put it like that…but yes.”

The old S’ti’ach smile turned to one of a barely held back cruelty….”No, you may not have them.”

“What!?” Luku roared, “Why not?”

“Because you have nothing to offer me in return,” the old S’ti’ach smirked, “and I do not give away things for nothing…not even to my own daughter.”

“Fine,” Luku stood up on her seat, pulling herself to her full height. “I will give you something of use to you.”

“Do not try to bluff me child,” the elderly S’ti’ach growled, “you have nothing I want and you are too far away for your precious Starfleeters to offer me what I need.”

“I give you my Rat’tel.” Luku stated simply.

Her father fell back onto his seat, as if the very breath had been knocked from him. “Your…..your Rat’tel? These people mean that much to you?”

Luku simply nodded, “They do, they mean so much to me that I will give what can only be given once,” the cadet pulled up another panel and quickly typed in a small message, before sending it through the link, “you have it now, my solemn word, my promise, my oath that I shall never return to S’ti’ach’aas, as of now, by law, I am no longer a citizen of my…your home world.”

The elderly S’ti’ach leaned forwards again, his one remaining eye cradled by a single tear. “My Daughter…your oath, your sacrifice is noted, I shall give you what you want.” He nodded to someone off screen, shortly afterwards new information began to bleed across the holo-display.

“Thank you Le’tal.” Luku bowed in thanks.

“En’taali….my love…Be safe.”

And with those words the old S’ti’ach vanished from the display, the now complete specifications for the Rail gun taking his place.

“Ensign!” Luku called out through the doorway, “I have the plans, let’s get those replicators up and running! We have,” she glanced at the console again, “we have four minutes to get as many of these made and down to the shuttlebay as we can!”

Jenny Anderson 07-6-2009 05:22:03 PM
USS Chimera
Main Shuttlebay - Deck 8

A small group stood before the recently christened Royal Flush, waiting for the XO. All were clad in a hastily-created uniform of black body armor; close-fitting and flexible enough to allow a full range of movement. Crewman Anderson, waiting between the combined bulks of SCPO Jameson and PO2 B’Naath tugged at the high collar of her own suit, which was reminiscent of turtlenecks and she’d always despised the choking sensation that type of garment gave her. Still, it was better than getting stung.

Thanks to Lt. Wekesa's tactical unit, each team member also had a wrist unit providing a more technologically based protection… a variable phase shield inspired by the Borg. They hadn’t the power to maintain the shields for more than thirty second bursts but it was better than nothing. On their other wrist, they carried boosted tricorders, hopefully capable of penetrating the sensor barriers which the enemy had employed during their confrontation with the Chimera. In addition to their phasers, all five had accoutered themselves with an array of weapons out of an old action vid. Jenny was outfitted with a bandolier of thalmerite grenades, an M23 pistol, a brace of throwing knives and, optimistically, two clips of .45 caliber ammunition, which was what Ben’s personal sidearm used. She’d have brought more but she had to stow them in the bandolier and Jameson insisted on the maximum number of grenades.

If she decided at any time she felt under-armed, there was also the Royal Flush’s cache to consider.

“Did I sign off on this?” a familiar voice cut into Jenny’s mental inventory and she realized that Harry had arrived, similarly accoutered in ‘Fleet Ninja, and had noticed her presence on the team. Predictably, he was not pleased.

“Sir,” Lt. Fehr stepped forward, from where he and Cadet Luku had been discussing who could best use each of the three rail guns, “Of the crew, only yourself, Crewman Anderson and I have rated on this particular vehicle’s tactical and navigation systems. Should one of us be incapacitated or killed, she can take either station.”

Harry hadn’t looked away from Jenny and she met his gaze, steadily. After the past few weeks… hell, after completing the mission in 1944… she felt more than able to take part in an S&R, even after viewing the recorded battle on the Kullaa. And, whatever issues may have arisen during the affair on Megiddo, at the least he had to admit to her battle readiness.

But it seemed that Harry wasn’t worried about her physical capabilities. “You realize we’re going after seven people, not just one…”

But Jameson had already given her this lecture. “Commander, I serve the entire crew of the Chimera, and at your pleasure. If you order me to stand down, I will do so.” Please don’t order me to stand down…

He stared.

She stared back.

Finally, “You’re in.” Harry looked over the small team a moment before continuing, “Seldon’s autopsy revealed that these beings, we believe to be called the ‘Yith’ by the Golnarrans, secrete a mytotoxin which, if left untreated, will kill the victim who has been injected.”

Jenny felt the world hitch to a stop but Harry then held up a small case with the Chimera’s medical insignia on it, “this is the treatment,” he said. “The mythology of the Golnarrans also indicates that these Yith steal other sentients and damn them to a life of slavery and despair. Now,” he lowered the case, “we can suppose that our crew are as dead as the crew of the Kullaa or, we theorize that the reason they were taken away is that they are even now serving in Yith’s Inferno. I choose the second option and as such, if we send out search parties, they need to be equipped with the anti-toxin provided by Dr. Seldon and Hodge. It also seems that the original toxin has some potentially hallucinogenic properties so, if you come across a member of our crew, be prepared to not be recognized. You’ll just have to get in close enough to administer the cure.

“For the rest, we are going into unknown territory to face an unknown force with, you got it, unknown defenses. That means we’re making it up as we go along. Anyone who wants out, now is the time to speak up.”

No one spoke.

“Very good,” Finn strode past the assembled and into his ship, “then we’re out of here.”

Jenny, settling into the idea that Ben may not even recognize her when they found him (there was no if… they would find him… all of them, dammit) allowed the others to board before she, too, stepped onto the shuttle, taking her place next to B’Naath and watching Harry go through the pre-flight.

In moments, a small vessel shot out of the Chimera’s hull, locked onto the ion breadcrumb trail left by the raider, hoping to save seven people from the Golnarran equivalent of the boogie man. If it happened that Jenny's thoughts rested on one of the lost in particular, specifically a steadfast knight in a pinstriped suit, it was hard to imagine that anyone, even Harry, could blame her.

Benjamin Hyde Pierce 07-6-2009 11:14:52 PM
(From the toxin clouded thoughts of BHP)

The Blue Diner was a narrow affair, the counter running down the right was filled with folks getting ready to work the early shifts, and booths on the left filled with folks finishing the late ones and two harried waitresses ran the gauntlet, slinging hash and good-natured abuse in equal measure.

From the kitchen there came a sudden crash of china, followed by a colorful string of curses. Jenny jumped a bit, then settled back into the booth she and Ben occupied. She had a lightweight coat on, over the dress she’d worn on stage, and a green cloche hat shaded one side of her face, now divested of the stage paint. “It’s always busy, here,” she said with an apologetic smile, “but it’s as close to home cooking as I could find… better than most of the clip-joints that hire singers like me. The night cook makes a cherry pie that's just this side of heaven. Hey,” her hand crossed the scarred table to rest on Ben’s, “You're looking kind of balled up. Maybe we should dust out…"

The touch of her hand brought Ben back to the present. He found himself looking beyond Jenny, down the center aisle of the diner where a man had exited after they had arrived. When he had slid into the seat across the table from Jenny, Ben had looked past her and noticed the man's watchful stare. Once they were seated, the man had taken his leave, leaving money on the table before the waitress had even brought the tab. Maybe he knows Jenny? He could've recognized her as the canary from Sola's and forgotten his change. BHP convinced himself.

"It's nuthin', the heat maybe," Ben complained as he broke contact with Jenny so he could remove the fedora and sweep his hair into place with the other hand. He dropped the hat on the seat beside him. His hands returned to the table; one hand's fingers idly touching Jenny's. "Cherry pie huh?" Ben cased the joint with a steady eye. "I ain't never been in this joint before." The diner sat on the dividing line between the Morello's territory and Paku's, and even though the Pakus were allies, Ben wasn't one for betting. "So I offer to buy you a lobster dinner and let you fleece me for some dough, and you chose a Mom and Pop place?"

"I like it, fine, here," she said, a little defensively. "And I like cherry pie," she added, leaning her chin on one hand and watching the interplay of his fingers with hers. "Maybe I'm just a Dumb Dora but, then, the only lobster I ever saw gave me the heebie-jeebies. It was like a big red bug just…staring at me…" she shuddered once and looked up, again. "Do you wish you'd held out for a Deb, or a real Sheba; someone who likes puttin' on the Ritz, like Vela?" she asked simply.

"Vela ain't the dame for me. And any sap who calls you a Dumb Dora will get what's coming to him," Ben stated, his tone serious for the moment, "and how." He leaned forward his hand closing over Jenny's fingers. "Davu knows have to tinkle those ivories," he commented as he smiled at the singer, "but I ain't been coming around Sola's for the past two weeks for the music." Then, just to make sure Jenny understood him, Ben said: "There's a canary there with a great set of pipes and a chassis that could make a boozehound swear off the sauce. I wanted to take her out on the town the first time I saw her. I didn't have the nerve or the dough until tonight."

“You didn't need the dough,” she said, putting her other hand over the two of theirs, "just the nerve. I saw you, sometimes," Jenny confessed, "when the lights went low. I wanted you to come up and speak your mind. But, when you first came up, tonight, I thought you were just another lug in a pinstripe suit who thinks cabbage trumps decency. But you ain’t. I mean, yeah you got the suit now but, underneath the suit,” her eyes widened and her cheeks flushed, “I mean, well, I think you're the Real McCoy, is all.” Another cacophony of spilled china erupted from the kitchen and Jenny winced, "Sounds like Domin is having a rough night."

The sound of the crockery shattering brought Ben out of the elated heady sensation he had been slipping into with the feel of Jenny's hand on his and the flush that came over her cheeks. His attention was drawn to the sound, then flickered over to the window beside their booth as a sudden flash of light reflecting off of metal caught his eye. Outside the diner, a car pulled up to the curb and three brunos spilled out of its interior. One of the men was the palooka who had left the diner only a little while before, the others looked like a couple of hard-boiled coppers.

"Cops, we gotta take the gate and get outta here," BHP told Jenny as he nodded towards the men in the overcoats. He reached for his hat and and pulled it down low as he stood to his feet. "They got a back door in this joint?" Ben asked as helped Jenny to her feet.

Her eyes darted from Ben to the johns and back before Jenny seemed to come to a decision. She pulled him towards the back of the diner. "I know the owner," she said ducking into the kitchen. The pair almost ran directly into a bus boy who spun, just preventing his tray from slipping to join the rest of the mess on the floor. "Domin," she called out to the giant in a splattered apron, "need to use the alley door…"

"Jen," he shook his head, looking at the suited young man holding her hand, "What would your pops say?"

"He ain't around to say it, is he?" she said, darting past. "Anyway, just.. pretend we didn't come through and everything'll be jake."

Before Domin could respond, the two were at the kitchen door. Jenny grabbed the handle, then turned to face Ben, "I gotta level with you," she said, pushing it open, "my Dad was a copper. He got killed transporting a mob boss to the big house…"

The revelation stopped Ben cold but even as he halted in the open door he was caught in the glare of the cop's flashlights. She played me for a sucker. Cops were covering the doorway, covering him with drawn heaters. The bulls out front had been a set-up. They'd shown up to drive him out into the alley, where more cops were waiting. "Grab some sky, you Mug!" One of the cops yelled at him. Pierce raised his hands as he stared at Jenny, stone-faced and silent but his eyes burning holes through her facade.

"Both my parents were killed by dirty cops," Ben spat, "but I don't go around dropping a dime on.."

"Clam up punk," one of the cops said as jerked the gangster out of the doorway and slammed him against the wall. "You'd better leave now Miss," the detective stated dismissively.

"Wait a minute," she said, pushing through the wall of cheap suits, "you promised if I helped you elbow this guy, you'd give me the dirt on my Pop's murder."

"When we have something, we'll be sure to put in a call to Sola's place," one of the buttons said.

"Make that Rilu's," one of the uniformed cops called back.

"Shut your trap," Jenny turned on the cops.

"You ain't working there after tonight," Ben growled. "After this you better skip town, Orno don't like rats hanging around his joint." He didn't know why he was warning her. He could have just let her go on thinking she still had a job then find out the hard way.

"You clam up," one of the coppers said as he shoved Ben's face against the brick wall. The cop held him pinned while another put his revolver to Pierce's temple. "We're gonna search you now pal, don't move a muscle."

He was tempted to fight back but the steel pressing against the side of his head kept him humble. The cops took the heater he had gotten from the button man then found his hold-out piece.

"I ain't a rat," she said, though quietly, now. "I'm just trying to get the one who killed my pop."

The bulls put the bracelets on the gangster. They put them on tight and pulled him off the wall then shoved Ben towards a big six. There was a moment when he was standing in front of Jenny. "Ya can't trust these saps," Ben said as he leveled a kick at the nearest cop, scoring a hit on the bull's kneecap. "Get out of town, while ya can," he told her before he was shoved into the back of the cop car. The cops piled in on either side of him and one of them slugged Ben in the stomach. As he slumped forward he felt something sharp pierce the skin on the back of his neck.

He was looking at a reptilian face unlike any he had seen before. No, I saw this palooka before. Ben thought as he tried to remember when and where he had seen the creature. "Lizard, where.." A sharp hiss of the lizard's breath was all Ben heard before his surroundings changed to something a little more familiar. Grey walls. Black and white striped uniforms. And a gravel mine that was baking in the Iotian sun.

"Prisoner #2306 get back to work!" a loud voice yelled at Ben.

"Okay Mac, keep your shirt on," Ben replied to the bull's yell. He lifted the heavy sledgehammer and began to slam it against the rock. He kept hitting the rock using a steady rhythm to pound the stone into smaller fragments. Once the fragment pile grew high enough, a cart would come around and collect the smaller pieces of rock. While the other prisoners loaded the cart, Ben would use the opportunity to rest. The rest periods were not very long and by the end of the morning the Iotian was feeling the weight of the single jack.

"Work harder!" the foreman would yell at intervals and sometimes one of the guards would shove him towards another rock face to start on a new section of the mine. Ben would grit his teeth and set to work while thinking, All this work because of some dame..

JP with the rat known as Jenny Anderson

Lisbet Ulrika 07-7-2009 11:46:44 AM
Bet pounded the nails in, frantic to secure their hiding place before the screaming creatures found a way in. Her compatriot, and tall dark man of muscular build was also pounding nails into the wall, reinforcing the barrier against entry.

He pulled her to another room, bolted the door and then motioned her to sit with a finger over his lips to silence the question she was about to ask. They listened intently as the outer door was probed for weakness. An interminable time later, only twenty minutes, the scrabbling at the walls stopped. “They seem to forget after a while,” as way of explanation.

Bet sat quietly, struggling within the tortured environs of her mind to figure out what was happening to her. Training sessions came to her, lessons about segmenting her mind as a way of protecting herself from too much empathic bombardment.

Bet watched the events unfold from that protected corner of her mind. She felt her body crumble after being stung by the reptilian creature, the numbness quickly traveling up her leg and through her body. She was carried over the shoulder of one of the attackers out of the cargo bay, through the ship and aboard another ship. She was dumped on the floor of a holding pen, along with the other away team members, at which time she lost consciousness.

The next thing she was aware of was of a smaller reptilian kneeling next to her shaking her awake. She remained in her protected corner, as she was forced to walk in a line of other prisoners in a chain gang of sorts, heading deep into a tunnel of some sort.

In this safe secure place she was only distantly aware of action playing in the rest of her mind. She had translated her actual terror into another equally terrifying scenario, unable to break away from it…although the pull of that other world was weakening some.

“Do you want some food? Water? I have plenty, at least for now.” He was sitting against the opposite wall, smiling cheerfully.

“I am not hungry right now,” Bet replied. “What is your name?” A distant howl broke the peaceful moment. “How long has all this been going on?”

He looked at her, a puzzled look on his face. “Three months now. The outbreak started in Seattle. Some sort of research lab, fail-safes faltered and all hell broke loose.”

“I don’t have any memory of that. I was…” Try as she might, she could not recall how it was she came to be in this place. Nor could she remember where she came from.

“I’m Jacob, by the way.”


“What was that?”
He simply sat smiling at her, as if he couldn’t hear anything.

Bang. Bang.

A deep pounding consumed her entire understanding, even into that secured corner of her mind.

Harry Finn 07-8-2009 04:08:30 PM
The Inferno

The sins of the father…

Zal, shoveling through more dross, remembered discussing the concept with B’Naath, who’d been appalled, as only the Caitian could be, at the idea of offspring suffering for their progenitor’s choices.

For Zal, it wasn’t so difficult an idea to grasp. He’d carried enough guilt for his father’s acts to renounce his surname but, should the Bajoran’s who’d suffered at Zyr Malkat’s hands seek their revenge, it wouldn’t have surprised Zal, now Govan, in the least if they wished to visit it upon their tormentor’s son.

Never, though, in all his imaginings, did he think to find himself being punished for his mother’s affiliations.

“You can still recant,” Zyr’s voice slithered through the groans of Zal’s fellow laborers. “Renounce your mother, who should have been here, seeking redemption for her acts against the state…”

“The Dominion put paid to her, and a few million others, when they vaporized Lakarian City.”

“Which is why you are here, son,” Malkat placed a hand on the back of Zal’s neck. “She escaped her reckoning, leaving you to pay for the sins of your mother…”

The rest was silence as, once again, a burning spike drove into Zal’s neck, leaving him breathless with the shock.

“Back to work, son,” Zyr said complacently, his very tone driving Zal back to his feet, back to the shoveling. “Remember,” his father told him, “only through pain, may you achieve true peace…”

“Dig faster!”

Usher, hands clawing through the scrabble of shale and fallen timber, dug. “How many were lost?” he asked as Shan’kyr, captain of the Hephaestus, urged the small rescue team on.

“At least twenty,” the Benzite captain replied, running a long range scanner over the cave-in. “They haven’t much time… there is a methane pocket leaking into the mine…”

A rumbling from above indicated that the rescue team might not have much time, either. Cursing the uselessness of their technology in this atmosphere, Usher and his compatriots made use of whatever tools were left about the region of the collapse. I feel I’ve been digging forever… but the thought was cut off as the rumble recurred, growing into the dull roar of an earthquake and, diving for cover, Usher felt a sharp rap to the back of his neck.

“I think we have an opening,” Shan’kyr called, pointing to a sloping ruin of shale. “Tenanji, Wolcott, take this section…”

Grimly determined, the young Ensign moved to the new area though, as he renewed his labors, he began to wonder if their efforts would be of any use, at all.

This post featuring the PCP'd NPCs:

Harry Finn 07-10-2009 09:47:06 AM
USS Chimera
Main Security Office - Deck 4

An incoming message chime pulled Lt. Peress from the plans he was about to forward to the captain regarding Security’s role in the upcoming push against the enemy who, according to Commander T’Shaini, were likely called the Yith.

He was about to save the message to be read later but he saw that it had been sent by the XO and the time stamp was just prior to his departure on the Cardassian shuttle. “Computer, split screen and open transmission.” Half a sentence into reading, he was sitting back in the chair, mouth hanging open in shock. “Oh shit,” he said then, lacking anything better, “oh… shit…” Then he leaned forward again and read the entire, damning, missive.

Let it be known that, commencing January 29, 2384, I, Lt. Commander Harry Finn, FS229E001, currently serving as First Officer of the USS Chimera, Task Force Sierra out of Megiddo III, did take unauthorized action against individuals I considered clear and present dangers to the Federation, citizens of the Federation dwelling on Kendrassa Prime, and certain members of Starfleet, in particular the crew of the USS Hawking.

Within the two week period of my residence on-planet I committed the following acts:
Created and maintained three false identities
Purchased illegal arms with intent to utilize said arms
Purchased and employed illegal computer spyware
Purchased and employed illegal listening devices in the private quarters of Gavin Booth, Attache to the Orion Diplomatic Corps
Stole the diplomatic insignia of Sims Al-Kar, also Attache to the Orion Diplomatic Corps, and planted said insignia in Gavin Booth’s flat.
Accepted employment by persons of interest to the DoJ and Starfleet Security as a bodyguard and enforcer under the alias of Victor de Carrabas
Willfully took the life of Gavin Booth, Attache to the Orion Diplomatic party
Willfully took the life of Charles Champe Stearns, Chancellor of Offworld and Political Affairs, also known as Shaun Ryan Acker, formerly Lt. Commander, Starfleet Bureau of Information

It should also be known that, prior to his death, Gavin Booth discovered the planted listening devices, along with the diplomatic insignia of Mr. Sims Al-Kar. This, in addition to certain intelligence I imparted to Mr. Al-Kar, led to an altercation between the two, during which confrontation both Sims Al-Kar and Neishi Fabria, attached to the Cygnian Embassy, were killed.

I take complete and sole responsibility for these actions, and the outcomes of said actions. At no time was anyone else informed of my intentions, nor is anyone else complicit in any of the aforementioned acts.

The USS Chimera is currently engaged in a search and rescue of several members of her crew. Should I survive to return from this mission, I willingly submit myself to the Office of the Judge Advocate General as well as the UFP Department of Justice.

Should I not return, understand that I stand by my actions on Kendrassa Prime. There was, I still believe, no other way to protect the populace of Jericho-Samaria or the surviving crew of the Hawking but even having done what I know to have been necessary, I can no longer pretend to myself or the honorable institution of Starfleet that my actions were, in any way, right.

Lt. Commander Harry Finn
USS Chimera 30940

“Shit,” Zane said, again, trying to absorb the black and white report of actions he, and every single member of the crew who’d come from Hawking, knew to be a deeply shaded series of greys. Not that anyone, with the possible exception of Lt. Commander Vail, had known for certain what had happened on Kendrassa Prime. Not even Tenanji, and he’d been around for the extraction. They’d just known that the bastard who’d used Hawthorne as his personal gun was dead and that Finn had come back looking like he’d been through all seven levels of Dante’s hell.

The acting security chief looked up at the list of recipients for the XO’s confession.

It looked like Finn was committed to exploring an eighth level of that very same hell… if he made it back.


Post featuring the loquacious Lt. jg Zane Peress, Acting Chief of Security

Luku 07-13-2009 10:17:59 AM
::USS Royal Flush::

“There’s no guarantee we’ll be making an insertion,” Jameson was saying as the XO and Fehr, at the controls, followed the trail of the enemy. “But, if we do, we will do so in three teams of two.” He glanced up at the three attending officers. “Anderson, you’re with the Commander.”

Jenny offered a short nod, her eyes darting forward. Harry was becoming more remote by the hour. Since before they'd left Megiddo, he’d been drawing further into himself and she wondered if he was still feeling the effects of the Cygnian's poison.

But, no, she thought; he'd never jeopardize a rescue mission like that. If Harry weren’t a hundred percent, someone else would be at the helm.

She pulled herself back as the Chief continued.

“B’Naath, you’ll partner Lt. Fehr, and you,” his glacial gaze fell on Cadet Luku, “will be with me."

“In addition,” the SCPO said, “should we attempt to infiltrate, each team will carry one of the three rail guns the cadet has assembled.” He hefted one of the weapons and offered it to the St’i’ach, “Give us the whats and wherefores, and spare the narrative,” he said, tossing the weapon towards the diminutive officer.

Luku caught the weapon neatly and proceeded to pull the weapon apart into three distinct segments laying them down onto the shuttles deck for all to see. "S'ti'ach Les'trum, throws its projectiles at close to Mach Five, two clips of thirty six rounds here and here," she pointed to the small boxes protruding from the guns middle segment, one box was situated at the bottom, the other jutting out on the rifles right hand side. "this switch here controls which clip you are using, allowing for almost continual firing."

Pointing at the two other segments the S'ti'ach continued, "Target sights mounted on the rifles tip and rear, now unlike a phaser this weapon has no firing gap what-so-ever after you pull the trigger, so I'd recommend putting little to no lead on your targets, if it's within the cross hairs when you pull the trigger, you'll hit it," Deftly she picked up the three segments and snapped them back together, though slow enough for the gathered crew to see how it was done."Inertial damper built into the rear segment, which means next to no recoil either…"

“Do they have any quirks?” B’Naath asked, his whiskers twitching. “Jamming, blow back,” he grinned, showing his teeth, “if so, I will allow the lieutenant take the gun, thus saving my fur.”

“I heard that,” Fehr called out, mildly, from the fore of the cabin.

B’Naath’s grin widened.

Jenny merely observed and contemplated the nature of the weaponry they were forced to bring. Low to no tech… which also meant low to no quarter given. But, having studied the capture of the away team, she didn’t expect any from the enemy, either. It was less hard than she’d once thought it would be, to move into the quiet zone from which one could, if necessary, kill another.

Luku allowed herself a small smile at the crews banter before answering, "No, no quirks, S'ti'ach military have a tendency to…reject anything that could even possibly harm anyone but the ones they point the gun at."

"Show me a gun that has a chance to harm the user, and I will show you where to dispose of it!"

The voice of her father echoed through Luku's mind as she spoke, with a slight twitch of her ears she turned her attention back to the rifle, removing the ammunition before gripping the gun firmly and looking down the sights.

"The Les'trum is, in my opinion, the most reliable piece of military technology I have come across so far in my life." She smiled, "Though it is a tad louder then your regulation phaser rifle."

“We’ll hold it in reserve, then,” Jameson decreed, “unless and until we really need it. First preference, we keep ourselves under the radar.”

No one had to ask what that meant. Silent running, quiet kills. “There’s the distraction possibility,” Jenny said, thinking of the grenades… she could rig a mine…

“It’s an option. Again, we are heading into unknown territory and every step will be made up on the fly. Flexibility and focus are the words of the day, are we clear?”

"Yes Chief." Luku nodded, before turning her attention to her own gear, attached across a good portion of her stealth uniforms belt were clips for her Les'trum, a second belt, directly on top of the first held yet more clips for the weapon.

"If you run out of ammo, your choices diminish quickly, more quickly then you would like…"

Her fathers voice echoed again in her mind as she ran her hands over the third belt across her torso, this one lined with as many grenades as was feasible to carry without clattering like a wind chime.

"And when the diplomacy of a Les'trum is not enough, be prepared for the worst…"

Luku's ears twitched again before she turned to face the Caitian Petty Officer, "Does that weapons locker have any blades in my size?"

B’Naath looked at the St’i’ach and raised his hand to display his formidable claws, “I confess, I did not look,” he said.

“Yes,” Jenny, who’d inventoried the cache, inserted as she rose and moved to the starboard locker. “There are… well… take a look,” she slid open the door and crouched to where the bladed weapons were stored. Among the matte-black options there were long, slim stiletto-like blades, thick, serrated knives which made Jen’s spine contract and some very nasty looking punch daggers, short, thick wedges sprouting from what were, in essence, brass knuckles, sans brass. “What do you think of these?”

"Nice collection." Luku stated simply as she made her way over to the locker, quickly picking out a Kalis-esque blade and it's accompanying scabbard, she turned, holding the blade at arms length for a moment to test its balance before sliding it smoothly away. "Not bad, given permission I might just keep this one…"

“You break it, you bought it,” came from Harry.

“He’s kidding,” Jenny told the cadet.

“No he’s not and we’re coming out warp.”

“Cloak functioning, weapons hot,” Fehr reported.

Everyone took their seats as, with a slight increase in the inertial dampeners, the Royal Flush arrived at the enemy destination.

And Harry started swearing.

Fehr’s hands were dancing across the angular controls, “Shall I…”

“Yes… now. Put everything you’ve got in a compressed data burst,” Harry maneuvered their small vessel through the fleet of no less than a dozen variously rebuilt ships. “It’s like they took about twenty different types of starship and put them through a blender,” Finn said then, “They’re all in loose orbit around that asteroid.” He brought up an image and shot it to the mid-ship data port for the rest of the team to see.

Jenny and Luku joined the others and saw, yes, an asteroid. Irregularly shaped and quite the hub of activity, if one could judge by the small freight-style transports moving between the asteroid and the small fleet.

“Telemetry away. I have a lock on the vessel which attacked Chimera,” Fehr was saying. “And, sir, the sensors… they’re functioning to capacity… beyond, in fact.” He turned to the XO, “There are no biosigns aboard that vessel to match any of our crew. However,” he added, as Jenny’s heart skittered, “there are biosigns not matching those of the… Yith… aboard two of the shuttles moving towards that asteroid.”

“Then that,” Harry said, “is where we’re going. Everyone, weapons and com checks. No promises but, if the cloak and sensors keep working like they are, I think we may have an S&R to attend to.”

Luku quickly strapped the scabbard to her back, the long knife looking more like a sword attached to the diminutive S'ti'ach, taking another look at the asteroid the team was headed towards Luku shivered as a single, dark thought passed through her mind.

"Something doesn't feel right about this place…"

This JP was brought to you by the heavily armed Jenny and Luku!

Javier Costala 07-14-2009 07:26:01 PM
-Deck One-

I'm not going to the bridge. Javier told himself resolutely. 'I'm only going to the Conference Lounge. Nothing bad can happen as long as I don't set foot on the bridge,' the engineer convinced himself as he exited the lift and turned his back on the corridor that led towards the bridge. He hazarded a glance over his shoulder then sighed and looked down the corridor towards the doors that led to the lounge. Like any individual that worked with computer systems and machinery, Javier had come to realize that there were certain occurrences that could not be explained using logic or a mathematical process. In the past, these occurrences had been attributed to 'gremlins' or bad luck, and although Javier was not one to place value in superstitions, the recent plethora of foul luck that the engineering department had experienced had him looking for reasons.

After careful consideration the engineer had reached the conclusion that the fault lay with him. While working to repair deck 12, Javier concluded that he'd broken a cardinal rule by abandoning Main Engineering for the bridge and in doing so had somehow brought bad luck on he and his staff. The Chief Engineer's place is in Engineering, not on the bridge of a starship. That's why Engineering has a MSD and a main console.

The doors of the lounge slid open and the engineer entered the room to find that T'Shaini and Nils were waiting for him. The console screen on the main wall had been activated and the picture was chock full of ships. A fleet of.. it suddenly dawned on Javier that he was looking at a fleet composed of discarded hulls of other ships. A Yith fleet!

"We received this information a few minutes ago in a short burst transmission from the Royal Flush," Nils indicated as Javier moved in close to study the ships. "It looks as if this rescue mission is growing more complicated by the minute." The captain sighed and pressed his fingertips against his forehead. He turned to the engineer, seeing the bandage swathed around Javier's head as if for the first time. "How is that?"

He'd been staring at the Yith battle group, studying the individual ships as he tried to discern the strength of the enemy fleet, when he heard the question. "Oh, it's fine, scratch." Javier expelled a breath. "Do we know anything else about these Yith?"

"Very little," T'Shaini stepped in. "I spoke, once again to the Golnarran embassy and they had mere stories of this species. Folktales or fables to frighten recalcitrant children." A slight frown creased her brow. "I can only hypothesize that the Yith have been a parasite on the Golnarran society for many hundreds of years, but have avoided any direct contact…which means they leave no survivors."

"That would explain why there's no information about them in the database," Javier mused. His attention returned to the console screen. "Dammit Kowalski, where are you?" the officer said as he looked at the menacing cadre of ships that floated beside what appeared to be a small asteroid. "I'm guessing this is some sort of base, or do the Yith like to park near asteroids?"

T'Shaini crossed in closer and stared at the screen. "Sensor readouts picked up energy readings on the asteroid." She mused aloud. "That means there is equipment there, that could mean some sort of base." The Vulcan glanced back at Nils, his brow lowered in thought. "Was there anything else in the readouts that would illuminate the Yith presence on the asteriod?" Looking down at the PADD he had wordlessly handed her, T'Shaini shook her head. "The only thing I see is large concentrations of disilicon…"

Javier wracked his brain to try and remember what purpose disilicon served. He recalled that it was mentioned in league with tritanium. "Ship construction. Disilicon and trititanium are combined to create a stronger hull plating for starships," Javier quoted. The engineer's attention returned to the fleet of scavenged ship hulls. "But disilicon is unstable by itself, it has to be bonded with the stronger, safer tritanium to be of any use. Even when it is mined certain precautions have to be taken.."

"So it is a mine?" T'Shaini interjected as all the pieces began to fit together. "With an unending supply of slave labor courtesy of the Golnarrans…and our crew."

"A mine would be logical," Nils agreed after a cursory glance at the PADD, "geologically speaking, many asteroid belts are rich in minerals and the Yith might have built a base around the mining operation. We have another problem though, these other readings that the Royal Flush's sensors found, they indicate that pockets of highly toxic gas are clustered through out the asteroid."

"And this worries me too," Javier stated as he pointed at one of the larger ships in the Yith battle group. "Computer magnify frame 3F twenty times resolution and filter out ambient light." The computer zoomed in on the image of the ship and a long group of panels along the ship's underbelly jumped into focus. "If I'm not mistaken those panels are a polaron modulator array. Lt. Wekesa could confirm my suspicions but that could put a kink in our plan."

"Pardon my technical ignorance, but what is a polaron modulator array and how could it put a kink in our plans?" T'Shaini found the best way to counter act ignorance was simply to ask.

"A burst of polarons could overload a ship's warp core if her shields were sufficiently weakened," the captain of the Chimera explained. With a concerned visage Nils added: "Or they can be used to track cloaked vessels."

"I guess the only thing left to do is hit them before they can find the Royal Flush," Javier said, looking from Nils to T'Shaini. "I'll take Gamma section and try and take out that Yith cruiser before it can fire its polaron weapon. Wekesa can command Beta and.."

"Javi, I want you to command Alpha," Nils interjected, "I'll command Gamma and focus on the Yith cruiser. Lieutenant Wekesa can clear a path for the Royal Flush to safely extract our people." The CO thought for a moment then said, "Counselor, I would like for you to arrange the relocation of all civilians to Alpha section."

"Certainly Captain." T'Shaini acknowledged with a glance toward Javier, she was uncertain of what would transpire after the separation and was somehow…uneasy. "Once the civilians are safe, what do you plan to do to extract our crew…and do we have any hope of releasing any captive Golnarrans?"

"If Beta and Gamma sections could keep the Yith fleet occupied long enough, Alpha can move in and try to transport the remaining Golnarrans to safety," Javier stated decisively. "Also we can use the Chimera's polaron modulator if things get dicey."

"Only as a last resort," the Chimera's captain cautioned the Chief Engineer. Javier understood Nils' concern, the polaron weapon could be used with devastating effect but the cost would be tremendous. If they had been the Dominion or the Cardassians, such a weapon would have been used at the onset of the battle and they could possibly destroy the Yith Fleet, but they weren't the Dominion and the destruction of a sentient species, no matter how sinister their intentions seemed to be, was not the path the Chimera would choose.

"Aye Captain," the engineer agreed.

"Counselor, proceed with your preparations," the captain instructed as he pulled at the bottom of his uniform tunic, "we'll initiate multi-vector assault mode once the civilians have been transferred to Alpha section. I'll inform Lieutenant Wekesa of his role in the plans. We should be underway within the hour." The CO exhaled then said, "Prophets be with us."

JP with T'Shaini and the spirit of Torrik Nils

Simba Wekesa 07-15-2009 12:22:02 PM
Somewhere, deep inside an asteroid in the Gamma Quadrant…

"Dammit!" Jamal whispered under his breath as a loose rock clattered down the slope beneath him and rolled noisily across the rough floor, coming to rest near the center of the dimly-lit tunnel. In the distance, somewhere out of sight, he could hear heavy footsteps approaching. Looking around frantically for an opening of some sort, he scrambled up the rockslide and slipped into a dark crevice near the top of the tunnel. There was a strong odor, like some kind of noxious gas, emanating from somewhere deep in the crevace. With his luck, it was probably toxic, but he didn't have much of a choice at the moment. Please don't be anything hiding in here, he thought to himself as he held his breath and slowly backed deeper into the opening to hide from whatever was coming.

This had to be a nightmare. It certainly felt like one. Sneaking around through dark, narrow tunnels, twisting through the interior of some giant rock. Hiding to avoid the hordes of giant reptiles who patrolled the caverns, watching over a veritable army of aliens who seemed strangely detached from the torture they were enduring. But no, it was reality, or at least some horrific version of it.

As the footsteps approached, one of the large lizards came around the corner, carrying a Starfleet-issue phaser rifle. Jamal held his breath. The creature walked along the tunnel, grunting as it kicked the rock to the side of the tunnel, and continued on its way until it turned down another tunnel and disappeared into the darkness. It hadn't seen him, but that was too close for comfort. He waited for a few moments to make sure the creature was actually gone, then emerged from his hiding place and dropped back down to the tunnel floor.

Quickly, Hastings flipped open his tricorder and looked at the display. The tricorder had a very limited range on this asteroid, apparently jammed by the same technology that had blocked it on the alien ship. Nonetheless, through his hours of wandering through the maze of tunnels, the tricorder had managed to collect enough data to create a rudimentary map of the areas he had been through. The place was huge, apparently occupying the better portion of the asteroid's interior. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall for a moment. It all seemed so futile… he hadn't seen or heard from anyone on the away team since he'd been separated from Ben, and he had no way of knowing if the Chimera was looking for them, or if she'd even survived the battle. What if he was stuck here, alone, for the rest of his life, sneaking through tunnels and hiding from lizards? No, he wasn't going to let that happen… he'd rather die trying to find a way to escape if it came down to it. Jamal opened his eyes, took another look at the map, and headed back in the direction the alien had just come from.

Fortunately, this section of the asteroid seemed to be mostly deserted. Hastings crept through the darkness of the maze of tunnels, always keeping an eye out for a place to hide should one of the Yith appear suddenly. The sounds of rocks breaking and machinery rumbling grew louder as he approached one of the larger caverns that was being mined by prisoners.

"Shit!" Jamal exclaimed aloud as he came around a corner and found himself face-to-face with none other than Usher Tenanji, digging hectically at a wall of loose rock. Hastings slipped back against the wall and took a quick look around the area. Several other alien prisoners were working a few meters away, but there weren't any guards in the vicinity. Even still, all of the prisoners seemed to be working intently, which seemed more than a little odd to the young Starfleet officer. "Sir," he whispered to the security chief as he peeked around the corner.

If Tenanji heard him, he gave no indication. He just kept digging at the rocks as if he were on a mission to find something concealed in the wall. He was sweating hard and his uniform was torn and dirty. The skin on his hands was raw from clawing at the loose rock, but he didn't seem to notice it. He was exactly the opposite of the neat, proper, and collected officer he had always seemed on the Chimera.

"Lieutenant!" Jamal repeated, louder this time.

"We're almost through, Captain… just a few more meters," Tenanji replied quietly as he lifted a large, smooth black stone from the debris and placed it carefully into a nearby tray.

Twisting his face in confusion, Hastings grabbed Tenanji by the shoulders and forced him to turn in his direction. Usher's eyes were glazed over as he stared straight through the chief, unphased by his presence. "Just a few more meters," he mumbled again before he turned slowly back to the wall and resumed digging.

"Lt. Tenanji!" Jamal repeated again, a little more forcefully. But it was no use; the security chief had again focused on his digging and gave no indication that he had heard him. As he turned towards the wall, Hastings couldn't help but notice the large bruise on the back of Usher's neck and the still-fresh puncture would in its center. He looked around at the other alien workers and realized that they all had similar marks. He scowled in frustration at the lack of answers and, taking one last look at the still-oblivious Tenanji, slunk back around the corner and into the shadows.

As soon as he was sure that there were no Yith approaching, Jamal quickly opened his tricorder and made a note of Tenanji's position. With all the sensor jamming, he wouldn't be able to track his movements very far, but at least it was something. Of course, there were still five others who could be anywhere inside this infernal asteroid. Jamal had a sinking feeling that they were probably all going to be just like Tenanji, and he didn't understand why he had seemed oblivious to the situation that he was in. He sighed, looking at the tricorder's partial map and trying to decide how best to proceed on his search for the rest of the away team. The approaching sounds of hissing and clicking told him that it was probably time to move on, and quickly.

As he disappeared into the darkness of the rocky tunnels, Jamal couldn't help but wonder what sort of hellish nightmare they'd gotten themselves into…

Featuring the snoopings-around of CPO Jamal Hastings

Harry Finn 07-15-2009 04:10:23 PM

Royal Flush
Approaching Yith Asteroid

The Royal Flush weaved its way through the crowded space surrounding the asteroid, carefully avoiding the array of cobbled-together Yith warships that patrolled the area. As the crew prepared for insertion into the asteroid base, the cloaked ship was taking the time to gather as much detailed information about the fleet as possible.

"It looks like whatever is going on at the asteroid is inside of it," Fehr reported as he skimmed the latest sensor data streaming into the shuttle's computer. "I'm not reading much on the surface, but sensors are detecting a vast network of tunnels and caverns beneath the surface… like they're hollowing it out. The transports seem to be entering through a docking port of some kind on the far side of the asteroid." He glanced over at Finn, who had already adjusted their course to follow one of the inbound transport ships. "Stay clear of that one," the tactician commented as he nodded towards one of the ships whose underside was covered with an array of panels. "If we get too close to that polaron array…"

"Copy that," Harry said, sideslipping the array by using one of the freight transports as a shield. He kept them as close to that shuttle as possible, up to the asteroid's point of entry, which was too narrow to accommodate multiple vessels. "Find us a parking space," he told Fehr, "preferably one in a quiet neighborhood." Then his attention was taken up with not being hit by any of the other shuttlepods maneuvering through the cavernous entrance, who, of course, didn't register the Royal Flush's presence.

Fehr nodded as he made a quick visual scan of the interior of the docking bay. The cavern reminded him more of a bustling spaceport than the interior of an asteroid, with a dozen or more small ships docked along both edges of the bay and large stacks of cargo containers being loaded and unloaded. A group of aliens were being marched off one of the transports by several Yith guards, no doubt on their way to become slave labor.

"I think this is one time where we might want to park on the outside of the lot and walk," the lieutenant mused as he brought the shuttle up to the top of the bay and moved in towards a rocky ledge jutting out near an apparently-disused tunnel. Sensors had been severely crippled now that they were actually inside the asteroid, but the tunnel seemed to extend towards the network that they'd detected earlier. Carefully, Fehr maneuvered the shuttle over the narrow ledge and slowly set her down with a slight jolt. "Careful getting out… we're kind of close to the edge, everybody," he added as the engines powered down.

Harry turned to the back, retrieved one of the St'i'ach weapons, "Okay, you know your partners and you know what we're looking for," he held up his right wrist, which bore the tricorder carrying the biosigns of their missing crew, "the rest of the slaves are on the radar but our first priority is to get our people back here. Once we rendeszous with Chimera, we can formulate an effective rescue operation but we'll probably need more than one ship to tackle this joint." He glanced over the small party, "Stealth over speed and watch out for the disilicon… if you find yourself in a situation where you have to shoot something, shoot the Yith, not the rocks. Any signs of lightheadedness, nausea or headache and you backtrack it, pronto. Does everyone have their share of the antidote?" A series of solemn nods and 'ayes' came back. "Good, then let's do this. Anderson, you're with me," he looked at Fehr and Jameson, "give us ten minutes to make sure the tunnel is clear, then the second team follows, another ten, then the third. I want everyone back here in two hours… two and a half hours pass, whoever didn't make it, gets left behind until the main force can mount a rescue."

Fehr nodded in response as he picked up a rail gun from the rack, checked over the weapon to make sure everything was in order, and handed it to B'Naath. He took the final weapon and passed it to the St'i'ach cadet and grabbed a compression phaser rifle for himself. "Right… Luku and Jameson, you'll go next. B'Naath and I will bring up the rear." He paused for a moment as he watched the doors to the aft compartment slide shut as Finn and Anderson exited the flight deck on their way to the egress hatch. "Now remember, we believe the Yith venom has hallucinatory properties, so be prepared that our people may not recognize us. We have no way of knowing how they'll react to our presence, so get in close, deliver the antidote quickly, and get them back to the shuttle as quietly as you can." He turned back to the controls. "In the mean time, I'm going to try to boost our sensors and get a more thorough scan of the tunnel system so we don't waste our time walking in circles."

Fifty meters down the tunnel, Harry paused as Jenny made a hash mark on the tunnel wall. All quiet so far… chances were this part of the mine had been tapped out long ago. Once she gave him the thumb's up, he re-activated his tricorder, catching a short burst of data, "we're going to take the rightmost tributary," he told her, "add an arrow and my initials." Once that was done, the two exchanged a short glance, then took their first careful steps into the abyss.

These boots brought to the ground with the assistance of Simba as Lt Fehr.

T'Shaini 07-16-2009 03:05:20 PM
::Deck 5::
::Beta Section::

Yet another evacuation, more upheaval and more unrest. T'Shaini thought to herself, hiking Lia higher onto her hip as she directed the flow of civilians and non essential personnel. The counselor had stopped by the school room to warn Katie as she contacted Security regarding the evacuation (the children had been through so much already, T'Shaini felt the need to assure them all was well), and had acquired a passenger, the diminishing of her authority that the picture she presented was well compensated by feeling Lia relax in her arms. Her long legs moved her quickly through the corridors of Beta after the secondary sickbay had been fully evacuated. One more pass through the recreational areas to be certain it is clear.

T'Shaini hugged Lia tighter as the walked through the now deserted corridors. Perhaps we are doing far more damage to our children in attempting to keep them with us in the name of security, than we would by allowing them to live in peace in a less tumultuous environment. "Call out again." She prompted the child.


They waited in silence, then moved to the next series of rooms.

"Clear?" The small voice piped, then the pair moved on to the holodeck.

"Clear…clear…clear.." It echoed in the empty chamber making Lia giggle.

"One more, we just need to double check the cargo bay." T'Shaini was grateful, that after the small bout of hysterics that began the journey, Lia had settled down and enjoyed being a part of the evacuation. The door slid open before them and Lia called out once again.

"Clear?" She wrinkled her nose at T'Shaini. "No one answers."

"Well, that is because they followed orders and have evacuated to Alpha, where we will be soon enough." Then the Vulcan nodded. "Try again."

"Clear?" Lia queried.

"Clear!" T'Shaini shouted back eliciting more giggles. The young girl's laughter a tonic for her unsettled thoughts, she felt a profound disquiet at the recent events…even more, perhaps, than were denoted by the events themselves. Perhaps it was simply the compounding of incident after incident that had followed the Hawking crew to the Chimera that made her suspect every encounter to more dire than it first appeared.

Now assured that the cargo bay was clear, T'Shaini indicated (with her nose) for Lia to tap her commbadge.

=^=T'Shaini to Peress, deck 5-8 clear on Beta, what is your status.=^=

=^=3 and 4 clear…except for Dr. Schaeffer who insists on re packing all of the rocks on the table.=^=

T'Shaini winced lightly as the shriek of rage that the archaeologist let out at the term 'rocks' was loud enough to be heard faintly over the commbadge.

=^=I am on my way=^= T'Shaini started off toward the lift when she heard Lia's giggle once again.

"Kerrin's funny."

"Ahh yes, Kerrin is…funny."

Simba Wekesa 07-16-2009 07:40:19 PM

Yith Asteroid Mine

Jamal leaned back against the cold rock wall of the tunnel and fought off the urge to sit down and rest. He huffed a bit, feeling winded and out of breath. The passage of time had long since eluded him, and he wasn't entirely sure just how long he'd been sneaking around the tunnels and evading the reptilian guards. All he knew was that he was hungry, thirsty, and tired. He'd narrowly escaped the Yith patrols on more occasions than he could count, but fortunately had found a section of tunnels that seemed to be abandoned. At the very least, it was a good place to slip into and rest for a few minutes.

Tenanji, Govan, Ulrika, and Kowalski… he'd managed to find four of his missing shipmates, toiling away in the mines under the watchful eye of the Yith brutes who ran this place. Jamal had only tried to talk to Tenanji and Kowalski; he couldn't get close enough to the others. Neither of them had acted as if they were even really aware of his presence, and he had no idea where Pierce and Star were. There were hundreds… maybe thousands of alien slaves working in the mines, and singling out individuals had proved to be a daunting task. The whole situation was depressing him, weighing him down with the sheer desperation and hopelessness of it all. This is exactly why he'd enlisted and chosen to specialize in something like torpedoes… so he could stay on the starship and out of situations like this one.

Jamal froze as he heard a faint scuffing noise coming from somewhere further down the tunnel. Somebody, or something, was coming. He could feel his heart thumping as if it were trying to escape from his chest. Quickly, he looked around for someplace to hide, but this particular tunnel was mostly smooth and barren. Dammit! There was nothing back the way he had come… whatever was coming towards him, he was going to have to fight it and hope that the element of surprise was on his side. Silently pulling his phaser out of its holster, he crouched down in the shadows and prepared to pounce on whatever was approaching.

Harry glanced once at the burst of information on the tricorder then shut it down. There was a Human waiting just around that curve. The question was, was it one of their Humans? And if it was, would he know his XO when he saw him. Finn put out his right hand in a 'hold' gesture, then flattened it, parallel to the ground and pressed down, crouching as he did so. Jenny, on his six, lowered herself and shut down the small task light they'd been using while Harry opened a pocket, drawing out an MRE bearing Chimera's logo. He crept forward another meter then tossed the package around the bend and raised his Les'trum, awaiting developments.

It was close, whatever it was. Did it know he was there? Jamal held his breath and stared intently into the dim light, holding the phaser steady to shoot whatever he presumed was coming to get him. He saw motion and instinctively snapped his aim onto the small object which flew around the corner and landed near his feet. Hastings jumped back, assuming it was a grenade or something similar, until his eyes focused on the lettering which spelled out the name of the Chimera. He hesitated for a moment, then quickly pointed the phaser back at the corner of the tunnel, his thumb resting lightly on the trigger button. "Whatever you are, identify yourself or you better believe I'mma shoot yo ass!"

"Chief Hastings?" whispered Jenny, pushing forward until she ran into Harry's arm, barring the way.

"Hastings," Finn said softly, pushing himself and Jen back against the tunnel wall, "it's Finn from the Chimera…" now how to find out if the guy was hallucinating? "Can you give me a sitrep?"

Finn… he wasn't with the away team, what's he doing here? Jamal lowered his phaser slightly for a moment, then tensed his arm and regained his steady aim. If it was the XO, he clearly wasn't trusting him, so he saw no reason to do the same. "Pierce and I snuck aboard the lizard ship after they captured the away team. We got separated right after we got on board and I haven't seen him since. This rock is some kind of mine. I've been scouting around it for… shit, I don't even know how long now, trying to keep out of sight from them big lizard motherf**kers. My tricorder's got a partial map of the tunnels." He still half expected a Yith-sounding-like-Finn to jump around the corner and jab him with that damn claw. It didn't happen, so he continued.

"There are hundreds of different aliens working in the mines, the reptiles just patrol the place and inject them with something in the back of their necks every so often. The slaves don't even seem to know where they are… they're in their own world and are unresponsive when I've tried to talk to them. I've got locations for four of our people… I ain't seen Pierce or Star since we got here. But the rest of them… they trippin' or something." He paused, his hands quivering ever so slightly on the phaser, as he waited for some kind of response.

Seeing as how Hastings was up on current events, Harry decided to bite the bullet. Gesturing Jenny to remain put, he lowered his sidearm and began to edge forwards, "From our end, Chimera dispatched a small recon team to try and retrieve the captured crew. We're carrying what the docs swear is an antidote to whatever the Yi… lizards… injected in our people. I'm coming around the corner, now… don't shoot."

"Aight," Jamal replied slowly, still holding his phaser at the ready until he actually laid eyes on the Commander. After a moment, Finn appeared around the corner, carrying his weapon at his side. Hastings blinked a couple of times in the dim light, but the Chimera's first officer was unmistakeable. He exhaled slowly in relief, then quickly lowered his phaser and stepped closer to Finn. "Sir, you have no idea how good it is to see you here. For a while there, I wasn't sure I was gonna see anyone friendly again… hell, I wasn't even sure y'all were still out there to look for us."

"Don't break out the ticker tape, just yet," Harry gestured behind him and Jenny came forward.

"Chief," she said, relieved, "good to see you."

"One down, six to go," Finn cut in. "You said something about locations…?"

Jamal smiled slightly and nodded to Crewman Anderson, remembering a brief conversation in the torpedo bay during a battle drill. "Yes, Commander… Lt. Tenanji is the closest to here. At least, I think he is… these tunnels all start to look the same after a while." He flipped open his tricorder to confirm. "There weren't a lot of guards in his area before, but those lizards are always on the move." The Starfleet officers began to move off down the tunnel as he spoke. "The others are deeper inside the mine… I couldn't get close to Ulrika or Govan."

Harry knew Jenny was ready to jump out of her skin for worry about Pierce but she was keeping it in check. “We’ll attempt the nearest, first,” he said, tracking the tunnel ahead with the gun, “and news flash, the substance being mined is disilicon, raw and highly unstable and has a deleterious effect on our scanners. And just in case that wasn’t enough bad news, there are pockets of some incredibly toxic gas in this asteroid which an explosion of any kind could release so, all in all, the less shooting we have to do, the better.” Saying that, Harry yanked a carbon coated bowie knife from his belt and passed it to Hastings.

Jamal twirled the knife a couple of times and slipped it seamlessly into his belt as though he were an expert. Truth to be told, though, he was scared of the whole situation. As much as he tried to look and act tough, at the end of the day he wasn't much for violence. "Yes, the gas seems to be contained behind the walls for the most part… the lizards dug around it, but I've smelled it a couple of places." He paused momentarily. "The tunnels up ahead are still in use, so we gotta be quiet if we don't want to attract attention. The guards are noisy, they hiss a lot and all, so we should be able to hear them coming." He glanced back at Jenny to make sure she was still with them. "If he hasn't moved, Tenanji is just up ahead, to the left of this tunnel in a bigger cavern," he added, dropping his voice to a whisper as he crept forward into the tunnel.

Following, Harry glanced back to see Jenny, walking backwards, covering their six, pausing every few meters to mark the tunnel wall. Turning forwards, he brought up the rifle just as they broke into a wider, better lit cavern and… “Shit.”

There were over a dozen of them, all in various states of wear… some were emaciated to the point of being little more than living skeletons and all were muttering, hissing, crying or, in one case, singing, as they labored, endlessly, mostly with their hands, sifting out the desired mineral from the scree which had been pulled down from the cavern’s walls. “Usher?” He strode up to the laboring lieutenant, who looked right through him.

“Sir,” Jenny pulled closer to the two men, “I think they’re coming.”

“On it,” Harry withdrew the hypo he’d pocketed and double-checked the dosage, “Usher, it’s time to…”

“NO,” Tenanji grabbed hold of his forearm, bleeding hands rigid, “I cannot leave, now… we almost have them out…”

Jenny threw a panicked look at Hastings, who could also hear the approaching enemy. "Commander, we gotta bounce," he chimed in in a hushed tone. "Those lizards find us… antidote or no, we're not going to know how to use it and we're going to be no better off than the others." Finn was staring back at Tenanji, who he had known for many years, as the Lieutenant held firmly onto his arm, keeping the hypospray at bay. "You got another of those?" he whispered to Anderson, who nodded and produced another hypospray.

Jamal looked at the two senior officers locked together for a moment. The distinct hissing noise that he'd unfortunately come to know was getting closer. "Dammit," he cursed as he quickly swooped in from the other side and jabbed the hypospray into Tenanji's neck before he had a chance to react. The security chief twitched momentarily as the contents of the hypo coursed into his veins, then suddenly relinquished his grip on Finn's arm before collapsing onto the rocky ground.

Harry shook his numb hand and tossed his own hypo back to Jenny, who pocketed it then raised her sidearm, drawing a slim blade from her belt with the other hand, "I've got your back, get him moving."

He wanted to argue but Tenanji, dead weight, would be more than the smaller officer could handle. "Give me a hand," he ordered Hastings and the two levered the slumped, twitching body of the lieutenant up while Harry ducked under his arm.

Which was when the first of the Yith appeared in the tunnel. Harry spun towards the CPO, "Back door?"

Hastings scowled at the hideous reptile blocking their path. He hadn't gone through this particular cavern all the way before now. "There's another tunnel on the other side, but sir… I have no idea where it goes." Not that it mattered, seeing as the Yith's arrival had pretty much ruled out that exit route. He started rapidly towards the far tunnel, pulling Finn along with him by the limp security chief strung between them. The lead Yith snarled and fired some sort of disruptor, narrowly missing them as they quickly dodged through the mine. The other slaves continued to work, oblivious to the action going on around them. "Through here!" Jamal called back as they rounded a rocky outcropping and moved towards the tunnel's entrance. He looked back. The Yith were gaining on them, firing as they came. Everything was a blur as the Starfleet officers rushed for the relative safety of the tunnel, where at least they would have a chance of escape…

A joint post with Harry Finn and Jenny Anderson

Dead Space

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