auswitcheroo151: AU Sato and Mayweather (Default)
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VII T'Pol

She sat at Commander Mayweather's station, her slim fingers tapping at the keys as she searched the Interspecies Technology Database. Another thorough search of the Vulcan Ship Ministry's files turned up nothing, so she focused her attention on the ITD instead. The design of the mystery ship resembled those of several other races, but not exactly. Commander Phlox had transmitted the layout of the ship and she stared at it again. Most intelligent races had a reason for their blueprints. Ship's Bridge, Sickbay, Engineering, Crew Quarters, Mess Hall...there were common elements in all space faring craft.

This particular one, though, was different. It was as if rooms and compartments had been thrown together without any thought to function or crew comfort. She guessed that the ship must have been constructed with haste, then launched into space.

And they were supposed to travel among the stars for eight years, avoiding all extraneous contact? Trip Tucker had suggested the crew had been on a spying mission of some sort for their home planet. T'Pol considered it a strong possibility, but there were still unanswered questions.

A spy was expected to report to his or her handler on a fairly regular basis; otherwise, the gathered information might become outdated fairly quickly, and therefore useless. T'Pol winced at the thought and the reason why she knew that fact. Even Trip didn't know about that.

So what was their purpose, then, if not to make First Contacts or conduct a military mission?

She nearly missed the small paragraph in the ITD. Her brain registered the words just as she'd switched screens; T'Pol went back to it. The Ikatui used some smaller ships to transport dangerous cargo from place to place. Some were volatile materials, others involved untried and untested technologies, and some were criminals, sentenced to long terms on the Ikatui prison colonies. Like the Klingons' Rura Penthe, Ikatui facilities were rumored to be almost impregnable.

T'Pol consulted a starmap. The Ikatui were on the fringes of known space, far beyond even the Boomers' lesser known trade routes. Little was actually known about their culture, but Andorian researchers suggested it was composed of a loose confederation of different races of people. That was all the information. She narrowed her eyes at it and consulted the Vulcan database again. It listed only one ship: a two-man, short-range cargo craft. The description didn't match Phlox's of the mystery ship, but she noticed irregularities in the cargo craft's systems.

“Any progress?” Travis Mayweather asked.

T'Pol looked over her shoulder at him. “I may have found a promising candidate. This is a cargo craft from a race called the Ikatui.”

Travis frowned at the diagram on her screen. “Doesn't ring a bell.”

“It probably would not...their homeworld is far from here, and according to the ITD and the Vulcan databases, it appears they keep to themselves, save for their own member worlds. One pertinent fact is that they use such cargo craft like this one to transport dangerous materials and people.”

He glanced sharply at her. “Dangerous materials, like radioactive metals and the like?”

“Yes, and dangerous people, like criminals headed for their prison colonies.”

Travis looked over at the mystery ship on the viewscreen and asked slowly, “You think that might actually be a prison ship?”

“The designs are wholly dissimilar from each other, plus the larger ship possesses crew quarters, a galley and even an arboretum. I would find it unlikely a prison ship would need those facilities.”

“True. Damn.” Travis shook his head. “Best guess?”

“Difficult to speculate. The information provided by Commander Phlox and Lieutenant Commander Archer are highly confusing and contradictory.”

“Which means you have absolutely no clue what that is out there, or where it's from.” Travis sighed. “It was worth a look, though. Ensign Rheinstein, hail the captain.”

The comm officer on duty nodded and manipulated his board. “Channel open, sir.”

“Mayweather to Sato. Captain, please respond.” There was a pause, then Travis repeated his call. “Mayweather to Sato, respond please.” He scowled before turning back to Rheinstein. “Is the channel clear?”

Rheinstein nodded as he checked his board. “Yes, sir, we're transmitting in the clear. She should be receiving--”

A screen on Travis's station blanked out into darkness. T'Pol reported, “Commander, power levels just dropped on that ship. I'm not detecting any energy emissions at all.”

Ensign Dieter confirmed it from the Tactical station. “She's right, sir. It's completely shut down.”

“Unless Commander Phlox or Lieutenant Commander Tucker accidentally pulled the plug, I think they're in trouble over there. T'Pol, take us a little closer.”

“Yes, Commander.” She quickly stepped down to the helm, relieving the junior officer there. As she touched the controls, she overheard Travis's call to the Transporter Room.

“I've lost their signals,” replied Transporter Chief Raymer. “Commander Mayweather, I can't get a lock on any of them. There's something blocking their readings.”

“That can't be possible, unless there are invisible shields we don't know about over there--”

A wave of panic slammed into her and took her completely unaware. She felt her hip slam against the edge of the helm console. Only Commander Mayweather's grip on her kept her upright.

“T'Pol? T'Pol? Medical to the Bridge!”

Zhu-tor! Ashv'cezh! Bolau etek du! Hear us! Revenge! We need you!

“Rai!” she screamed and balled her fists at her temples. With a hard mental shove, she forced the voices from her consciousness and slammed her mind shields around her. The silence resumed with an almost physical thud. T'Pol opened her eyes and found herself the center of attention on the Bridge. Travis guided her back into his chair at the science station.

“What happened?” he demanded.

She tried to concentrate on his question. “There is someone...there...on the ship. Something chaotic, something terrible--”

“We need to get them out of there. Prepare a shuttle--”

“No,” she rasped, as she managed to put a hand on his arm. “Whatever is on that ship will claim anyone else who ventures close to them. We will risk losing more of the crew.”

Travis gazed down at her. “What is over there, T'Pol?”

She pressed a hand over her eyes with her free hand, still shaken by the brief mind-touch. “I am not exactly sure, but it is hostile.”

“Do you need to go to Sickbay?”

She shook her head. It might have been the most prudent course of action, but the sense of urgent terror for Charles, Kov, Jonathan and the others overrode her own comfort. She replied, “I would prefer to remain here and monitor the situation.”

Travis gave her a reluctant nod, his dark eyes reflecting his doubt. “All right, but the minute you feel...whatever it is...again, let me know.”

“I shall.” She paused, then added dryly, “I believe if that occurs again, the contact will be quite obvious.”

A new voice interrupted from the comm. “Reed to the Bridge! What the bloody hell's going on up there? Is T'Pol all right?” The Englishman's voice was hoarse and ragged; he hadn't fully recovered from the Argellian cold virus.

“We're okay up here, Malcolm, but the Away Team's stuck on that ship. Once we get the transporter working again, we'll get them back here. I need you to prep Sickbay for incoming casualties, just in case.”

“Understood. Reed, out.”

T'Pol closed her eyes and carefully checked her mental shielding, then returned to the Vulcan database. The answer was there...she must find it in time to save her friends.

*****

VIII Trip

“Internal scanners are useless; the whole ship's shut down. I can't even see our biosigns on our own equipment,” Phlox said.

“Some sort of dampening field?” Trip asked. He didn't understand it, for even if the ship's systems had failed, why would their equipment fail? They weren't connected to the ship's power supply.

“Either that, or we really pissed someone off,” Jon said shortly, “and that someone took Hoshi.”

The Vulcan closed his eyes and breathed deeply. “I can sense echoes of several presences, and the captain's is very faint, but I believe I can track her.”

“All right. Phlox, see if you can restore enough power to get word to Enterprise that we need to get off this ship. Kov, you and I are gonna find the captain.”

Jon nodded and moved to the comm station. “Phlox, if we can get enough of a signal to punch through the dampening field--”

Phlox hardly looked up from what he was doing. “--the transporters might be able to pick up enough to beam us back. I'll do what I can, Lieutenant Commander.”

Trip followed Kov to the access ladder. Both he and Kov were stockier in build than Hoshi, so it was slow going. Trip worried about actually being stuck. He fought against the sense of disorientation in the tight spaces. “Christ, their access ladders are worse than their lifts,” he said through gritted teeth. “Kov, you hear her?”

After a moment, he indicated the nearest hatch with his chin. “That deck. She's very close by.”

Trip carefully stepped off the ladder and grabbed a hold of the hatch. “Dammit, it's stuck.”

“Allow me.” With a sharp jerk and a twist, the hatch came off on its hinges. Kov laid it aside and stepped onto the deck, with Trip close behind. Better not get in Kov's way when someone's in trouble, he reflected. He won't hesitate to run you over.

The deck housed the ship's personal living quarters. A few doors gaped wide open to reveal rooms torn apart, their meager belongings scattered everywhere. A foul stench came from the cooking area; Trip wished the air filtration units in the EVA suits could block the smell. Kov's face turned a unique shade of green, but he doggedly pushed forward.

“Cap'n?” Trip called. “Hoshi? It's Trip. C'mon, where are you? Kov and I are lookin' for you.”

“Be careful, Trip. I doubt she is alone. I can feel them pressing against my mind as well.”

“Who's 'them'?”

“Zhal-tor. The Whispers. I heard them in the Medbay, and from what Commander Phlox told me, he had also heard them in the engine room.”

Trip raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “You mean ghosts?”

“In a manner of speaking, Lieutenant Commander. We Vulcans believe we all have a soul, a katra, that lives on even after death. If a katra is not put to rest, it may return to haunt the living.”

“Y'know, I'd be inclined to call that sort of stuff superstition, but after what I've seen on this ship, it really wouldn't surprise me.” Trip flinched at another high-pitched wail. “Hoshi!”

“Over here, Lieutenant Commander!” Kov reached the door at the end of a hall. “This door is locked!”

Trip raised his phase pistol and shook his head. “Not for long. Stand back, Kov.” He aimed and pulled the trigger, destroying the locking mechanism. The door slid open and Trip plowed inside with Kov right behind him. A sour-sweet smell hit them directly in the face and Trip staggered a few steps.

“Dead vegetation,” Kov choked out. “This must be their Hydroponics Bay.”

“God, it looks like a forest fire raged through here.” Trip waded through charred vines and dead blossoms. Blackened stumps dotted the deck, here and there, and ash rained down on them from the ceiling. He tripped over a low-lying clump of bushes and slid several meters across the floor with an ungodly yell.

“Trip!”

“I'm okay, Kov! Find the Cap'n!”

He pushed himself back to his feet and resumed his search. He turned the corner around a clump of dead bushes and came face-to-face with a gelatinous mass that hung suspended from the ceiling. Trip jumped back before he got caught up in one of the strands.

"What the hell is that?"

Kov raised his eyebrows, then aimed his medical scanner in its direction. The oval-shaped bulge shifted slightly, but made no other movement. Sickly-looking green veins pulsed all around it; Trip thought he saw a stubby antennae poking through the top of the bulge.

"Definitely alive," Kov said, "but it's barely registering on the scanner." He narrowed his eyes at the slimy sack, then jerked up as if he'd been hit. "The voices--"

"That's where they're comin' from?" He raised his phase pistol, but Kov's hand shot out and gripped his arm. "If that's the source of the problem--"

"You cannot kill it, Trip." The Vulcan shook his head. "It is everywhere now, and if you destroy it now, the captain might go with it. We can't take that risk without being sure that won't happen."

"Dammit. " He glared at the motionless sac. "We've got to find the captain and get her off this ship, away from that...thing."  He heard the faint sobbing somewhere off to his left. Trip  saw her, curled up into a tight ball against the wall, facing away from him. He knelt at her side. “Cap'n? Hoshi? What happened? Why'd you run?”

Ich kann's nicht verstehen. Warum sind Sie hier?I don't understand. Why are you here?

“Huh?” Trip burst out. His knowledge of German was sketchy, but he thought he understood her question. “Hey, remember me? C'mon, we're gonna get you somewhere safe.”

La mia vita, lo hanno ucciso. Non vuole morire!My life, they've killed it. I don't want to die!

Kov passed his medical scanner over her. “Her physical readings are highly elevated for a Human. We must get her back to Enterprise.”

Trip nodded in agreement. “She's delirious, talking in many languages. C'mon, Hoshi, up you go.” He gently lifted her up in his arms. “Kov, go on ahead. Let Jon and Phlox know we've found her and that she's in a bad shape.”

“Try to keep her calm--”

Her body jerked in Trip's arms and he nearly dropped her. “Easier said than done! She's fightin' me like a bull terrier!”

“¡Usted pagará lo que usted ha hecho!” You will pay for what you've done! Trip knew some Spanish, and he definitely understood what she said that time, especially the long string of curses she added at the end of it. He couldn't help but smile grimly at the choice of words.

“What is she saying? I know she is a linguist--”

“Trust me, Kov, you really don't wanna know. We're gonna have to carry her up the ladder and it's gonna be awkward as hell. I'm afraid I'm gonna drop her with the way she's strugglin'.”

Kov reached over and touched the juncture of Hoshi's neck and shoulder. She stiffened, then went limp and mercifully silent. Trip raised his eyebrows, even as Kov winced.

To'tsu'k'hy,” Kov explained.

“Nerve pinch, huh? You oughta teach me that some time.”

“Her mind is chaotic, random...” He shuddered. “It is no wonder the captain is not herself. I am rather surprised she managed to hold on as long as she did. They tried to reach out to me again--”

“They? You mean those Whisper things?”

Kov only nodded grimly. “Yes.”

“Okay, I stand corrected. This ship is haunted.” He shook his head. “I thought these sort of things only happened in the movies.”

“Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.”

They reached the hatch, then climbed up the ladder. Trip grimaced as he balanced Hoshi over one shoulder and ascended the narrow tunnel one-handed. When he reached the Bridge, Jon reached down and helped him guide Hoshi to the floor as he and Kov pulled themselves up.

“Kov nerve-pinched her, but she's still tryin' to wake up,” Trip answered Jon's unspoken question. Jon raised his eyebrows at Kov, but the Healer was too distracted to notice it. Quickly, Trip told the others about the alien sac that was in the ship's Hydroponics Bay. 

"We have to get her back to Enterprise," Jon said, his voice grim. "Maybe if we put distance between her and that...thing--"

“Is there anything you can do for her?” Phlox asked from the engineering console. The Denobulan's hands hardly paused from the strings of wires and the burnt-out circuits.

Kov kept a firm grip on Hoshi's shoulders. She began to toss her head back and forth, her body convulsing as if she was having a seizure.“I can sedate her, but that might be dangerous to her health. She needs to be in Enterprise's Sickbay.” “Whatever has taken hold of her is killing her.”

“Why her?” Trip demanded, as he barely avoided getting kicked. “Out of all of us on the Away Team, why her?”

“I do not know, Trip. Here, help me turn her onto her side and keep her from striking out at us. I don't think she's aware of what she's doing.”

He nodded and did so. Hoshi's hair was coming out of its tightly coiled bun; he brushed it away from her face so she could breathe.

There was a spark and the lights returned to full strength. “Ah,” Phlox said. “I've restored the connections between the temporary generators and the bridge. It will not last for long; the links are tenuous at best.”

Jon nodded as he hit a button on the comm panel. “Try it now, Trip.”

Trip tapped his communicator. “Tucker to Enterprise.”

“Mayweather. You guys all right?”

“We need an emergency beam-out. Have a medical team stand by in the transporter room.”

“Transporter's inoperative, Lieutenant Com—what?” Travis heard an update from someone and corrected what he was going to say. “Never mind, our power just came back on-line. Chief Raymer, get them out of there!”

Raymer replied, “Getting a lock on the Away Team now...energizing.”

A minute later, Trip's surroundings dissolved and reformed into the Enterprise's transporter room. Chief Raymer stepped around the console to help with the captain. He nodded at Trip, “Doctor Reed's on his way--”

Suddenly, Hoshi's elbow jerked upwards, catching Raymer in the face. Kov's hold on her slackened and she twisted up and clipped him across the jaw. Kov managed to turn to deflect the blow, but that second was enough.

“Hey!” Trip yelled. He launched herself at her as she made a break for the door, but she grabbed his arm and used his own momentum to slam him against the wall. Trip reeled, fighting for consciousness, as Jon and Phlox set off after her.

“Trip, are you all right?” Kov asked.

He raised a hand to the livid fingernail scratches on his cheek and jaw. Raymer groaned and held his right cheek. “Chief?”

“I'll—live,” Raymer moaned. “I think I'm going to have a bruise.”

Trip slapped the comm. “Tucker to the Bridge. The captain just ran out of Transporter Room One. She's not herself, Travis...she's a danger to anyone who comes close to her. Security Protocol Beta-Tucker-Two.”

“Acknowledged,” Travis replied. “Security to D, E and F Deck. T'Pol, where is she?”

T'Pol's voice sounded shaky and Trip's concern ratcheted up another notch. “She's heading towards Deck E, starboard section three-A.”

Trip glanced at Kov. “That's Hydroponics--”

The doors opened and Liz Cutler came in with a medical team. Raymer waved at Kov and said, “Don't worry about me, sir. Just make sure the Captain's okay.”

Kov squeezed the transporter chief's shoulder. “We must apprehend her, quickly.”

Trip nodded and immediately headed for Hydroponics.

*****

IX Kov

He skidded to a stop in front of Hydroponics, nearly running into Jon Archer. “O'toz'ot?”

“She's barricaded herself in there,” Jon said. “Wasn't that where you and Trip found her on the ship? Their hydroponics?”

“That must be significant in some way,” Kov said. He glanced at Phlox, who had opened a panel and was rerouting circuits. “Commander?”

“One more minute, Healer Kov.” The Denobulan finished his work and nodded at Trip. “Now, Charles.”

The door slid open and Trip led the way into the room. Kov followed at his heels, his Vulcan hearing immediately picking up a stream of unfamiliar language coming from his right. It wasn't Vulcan or anything from Earth. Cautiously, he lowered his shields a fraction and pinpointed the source of the sound.

“Jing-la, maurii. Sien'ka rhahaema ti.” The captain giggled as she caressed a rose petal. “Kih'erra tan la.”

“Hoshi?” Jon called out.

She looked up with eyes not her own: gray-green, not a warm brown. Trip raised his phase pistol, but Jon raised a hand in warning. “Hoshi, can you hear me? It's Jon.”

A smirk crossed her face. “So much green, within a ship. We longed so for this, Jonathan. Years exiled in space, sent away from home, with no chance of return. We did not deserve that injustice. Now we will go home and take our revenge.”

Kov flinched at the word 'exiled' and Hoshi zeroed on the movement like a snake. “Kov. My dear friend Kov, you and this captain were the first to hear us. We whispered to you, but you didn't listen, you didn't understand. So we shouted to you, to the Denobulan, but you didn't listen. But she heard us and she listened.”

“Who are you?” Kov asked carefully.

She smirked wider. “Nam-tor wehk etek, Kov. Nam-tor yuk-eshu'a. Zhal-tor etek. We are many, Kov. We are nightmare. We whisper. We answer to those who listen. And others will listen.”

He felt sick to his stomach at the malice in her tone. “You were never explorers. You're the condemned.”

She laughed. “We are free thinkers, much like you are, friend Kov. We wished to transform our society...and lost. We were cast off...and some of us wanted to continue our exile, and others wanted to head back. There was...disagreement among our brethren. But now, there will not be any protest.” The beings laughed and added, “This one rules among you. You will listen to her orders.”

Trip's finger tightened on the trigger. “Got news for you...Hoshi may be the cap'n, but she doesn't rule like a queen. We know she isn't herself. Let her go.”

Kov spotted T'Pol and Malcolm circling among the greenery, being careful not to make a sound. He had to pretend he hadn't seen them. He took a step forward and raised his hand. “You want to go home. We can help you, but not like this. If you know her mind, you know she will not allow any harm to come to her crew.”

“Yes...and that is the only thing preventing us from taking over your weaker minds. She is weakening, and soon there will be only us, whispering to you in the dark, until you listen.” Hoshi raised her hand to meet Kov's. “And you are brave, friend Kov, to volunteer to be the first--”

Suddenly, she whipped around and grabbed T'Pol's wrist. Madness glittered in Hoshi's eyes as her mouth curled up in a cruel smirk. “ To'tsu'k'hy! Dungi tehs-tor nash-veh ri va'ashiv!” she snarled. “I will not be deceived a second time!”

Malcolm immediately jammed a hypospray into her shoulder. She screamed and launched herself at him, her clawed hands reaching for his neck. Kov ran forward and grabbed her and together, he and T'Pol dragged her off Malcolm. Trip fired his phase pistol, scoring a perfect shot, but instead of stunning her, it only enraged her more. She struck out and sent the phase pistol flying beyond Trip's reach.

“How much of that did you overhear?” Trip asked.

“Just the end of it,” Malcolm gasped. He coughed and put a hand on his throat. “Let's get her to Sickbay.”

It took two Vulcans and three Humans to wrestle one petite woman down E Deck to the Sickbay doors. Kov hoped they could find a way to rid Captain Sato of these 'Whispers' before it was too late.
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October 2012

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