auswitcheroo151: AU Sato and Mayweather (Default)
[personal profile] auswitcheroo151
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.

The mystery deepens as the Away Team find suspicious clues.

Rating: T

IV. Kov

Assistant Chief Medical Officer's Log, April 29, 2151, Supplemental: We have made a thorough sweep of the ship. Nineteen crewmembers, all dead and most by each other's hand. I cannot find a physical cause for their behavior. Lieutenant Commander Tucker has suggested the crew may have been in a state of mutiny, which led to an unfortunate outcome.

Lieutenant Commander Archer is attempting to access the ship's communication's logs, while Captain Sato locates the captain's personal recordings. The complete loss of the ship's main power required us to beam over portable power generators to provide enough energy to access the computer mainframe.

It appears that we have arrived too late to make a difference for these people, but if we can discover from where they came, we may be able to bring them home.


Kov sighed as he scrolled down the screen. The ship's medic had barely enough time to note the daily report before he was struck down by his own patients. Kov glanced at the small, refrigerated medicine cooler, which now served as a makeshift morgue. Part of him wanted to flee as quickly as possible and not look back, but his sense of responsibility kept him in his seat. He might not have been able to save their lives, but at least he could give their existence some closure.

He frowned at the hasty scribbles on the medic's tablet. Terrible penmanship seemed to be a universal requirement of all doctors, with the notable exception of Doctor Reed. Even with the hastily programmed translation matrix, Kov couldn't understand the words. He was no linguist, and none of the characters resembled anything of which he was familiar.

Zhu-tor du ha? Gla-tor du ha?

Do you hear us? Do you see us?

“What?” Kov asked aloud. “Who's there?” A quick glance around the medbay revealed nothing. He was the only living person in the room. He shivered and went back to puzzling out the characters on the screen.

Pash-tor etek. Gol'nev. We are trapped. Help.

Kov shivered and glanced at the medicine cooler. I am hearing things. The circumstances aboard this ship would unnerve even the High Priestess of Mount Seleya.There were countless legends of lost katras; as a V'tosh Ka'tur, he'd read the pre-Awakening literature that most traditional Vulcans scorned as superstition. Trip Tucker had joked that "there was a kernel of truth in every myth", and Kov agreed with him.

Which is why this disturbs me more than it should. I am no longer a child.

Kov took a deep breath and entered a light meditative trance. He carefully raised his empathic shields around his mind, protecting it from any invasion. To his relief, the uneasy chill dissipated and the warmth returned. He hoped Captain Sato and Lieutenant Commander Archer could find the crew's homeworld and contact them. A lost katra needed to find its way home; once the bodies were claimed, they could go home.

Assuming their katras were not lost. Kov sighed and rubbed his temples. There was so little medical information in the ship's data banks; how did these people travel the stars so unprepared? It made no sense. Surely these people would have met others in their journey, recorded information, and shared traditions. 

There had to be more here, but well hidden. Kov swiveled around in his chair to begin the indexing the medbay's information. Thankfully, the time passed in silence, and soon he was engrossed in his work.

*****

V. Phlox

“It's a miracle they managed to get out this far. I'd say they'd be able to do...what...warp 1.5? Warp 2, tops?”

Phlox nodded as he jury-rigged some circuits. It was far from neat, but it would suffice for the moment. The ship's technology was relatively simple compared to Denobulan or Vulcan technology. He suspected it had been standardized for a multi-species crew. At least the shipbuilders were practical in that way.

He sealed a connection and tested it. “Indeed. If what Lieutenant Commander Archer discovered is correct, this ship must have been in deep space for several years.”

Trip shook his head as he burrowed his way through a mass of tangled wires. “Accordin' to Kov, they turned on each other. It sounds like some sort of mutiny. Maybe someone was unhappy with the captain. Or maybe some of 'em wanted to go home and when the cap'n said no, they decided to take matters into their own hands.”

“It appears so, Charles. A tragedy all around, I'm afraid. Any progress on the stabilizers?”

“Well...it's a right mess in here. Half of the components were melted by laser fire. Lots of power, not much finesse.” He blew out a frustrated breath. “Y'know, it's weird---”

“What is 'weird'?” Phlox found Trip's vernacular quite endearing, but rather vague. He always needed to ask him for clarification. It wasn't always immediately obvious.

Trip stuck his head out of the panel he was working on. “If you wanted to take over the ship, or even turn around and go home, you wouldn't shoot up your own engine. That's defeatin' the purpose.”

“Indeed. Being stranded is the last thing you want to do to yourself.” Phlox frowned slightly and made his way to the panel. “Are you saying that the damage isn't accidental?”

Trip pointed at several points in the circuitry and replied, “These are. I can tell by the dispersal pattern. But over here---” He traced the path of blackened and burned wires. “---these were on purpose.”

“The secondary power lines to their engine,” Phlox murmured grimly, “and the corresponding ports on the engine manifold are destroyed beyond repair. I've already checked them. It makes no sense.”

“The cap'n ought to know.”

Phlox nodded and moved his hand to his comm. Before he could activate it, the clatter of steel on steel made him jump. At first, he thought he had imagined it, but a second crash came from the far side of the engine room. Trip already had his phase pistol in his hand. He gestured for Phlox to take cover, and Phlox crouched behind one of the nearby consoles. Trip went to investigate and was soon lost from his view.

Long minutes passed as Phlox waited for the all-clear signal. He felt the slightest of tremors through the console, as if it was powering up. Frowning, he glanced at the panel, but all the indicators remained dark. It must have been his imagination. Two portable generators couldn't provide the energy needed for this ship's engines.

The silence stretched out with an almost unbearable intensity. Phlox saw a shadow out of the corner of his eye and turned his head in that direction. Nothing. My mind is playing tricks on me. There is no one else here. The ones who were here last are dead.

Par kweesah essah. The tone was both smug and wondrous at the same time. I'm impressed.

He stiffened at the whisper of breath in his ear, but no one was there. The words were spoken in Denobulan, in Phlox's native dialect. He sternly controlled his panic. “Who are you?”

Da ta a lekem paravuul. I'm sure you'll be able to help them.

“Help whom? And it would help if I could see you.” Phlox scanned the room, taking in the silent engine surrounded by cracked and blackened power conduits. The banks of control consoles were arrayed in neat rows along one side of the room. The other half of the room lay shrouded in darkness.

A hand dropped on his shoulder and he jumped. Trip took a step back and raised his hands. “Whoa. You okay, Phlox?”

Deetree saa dee pulekee,” he answered. Then he realized he'd spoken in Denobulan and quickly switched to English. “I'm not exactly sure.”

“What's wrong?”

“I thought I heard someone---” Phlox shook his head. “I must have been mistaken.”

Trip nodded with sympathy and said, “This ship will give anyone the creeps. I though I heard someone poking around the back of the engine, but there isn't anyone there. I did find something interesting.”

“Oh?”

“Phlox, check this out. I don't recognize any of this.”

He straightened up and followed Trip around to the far side of the engine. The Armory officer knelt on the floor in front of a long, thin metal pole. Alien characters were chiseled down its length, all filled with enamel paint. At Phlox's approach, he waved a hand to another pole lying nearby. Phlox examined the second one in careful detail.

“Interesting. I don't recognize this as any type of engine component. The surface has been polished smooth and inscribed with colorful lettering...perhaps it is part of the walkway that has come apart---” A hissing sound interrupted him; he looked up to see Trip holding his pole in his hands, with a blade protruding from one end of it. The jagged steel reminded Phlox of a Klingon mek'leth.

Trip scowled at the dried plum-colored liquid staining the weapon's end. “Careful...there's a small button underneath the last enamel character. I think there are blades concealed within both ends. I damn near speared myself with this.”

“So these are weapons. Cleanly efficient and deadly. Where did they come from?”

“Sounded like they fell from somewhere up high and clattered on the deck. But we're the only two in this engine room and there isn't an upper deck.” Trip's scowl deepened. “The only place they could have been is directly on the engine itself.”

“So someone left them on top of the engine? Like a...'stash' of weaponry?”

Trip smiled without humor. “Somethin' like that. If the Cap'n's right and there was some sort of planned mutiny, you'd want to make sure you've got staffs like these within easy reach. If I were in charge of this engine room and suspected somethin' was up, I'd make sure I was armed.”

“Odd place to store weapons, but in such a small space, I suppose you'd have to be inventive.” Phlox frowned. “Still---”

Hoshi's voice startled them over the comm. “Sato to Phlox.”

Phlox glanced at Trip, who nodded. He tapped the comm button on his EVA suit. “Go ahead, Captain.”

“How long will the portable generators last to provide power to the ship?”

“Eighteen more hours at the most, Captain. We'll have to either restore main power or bring aboard another generator. Unfortunately, the main power couplings have been completely destroyed. We'd have to beam aboard another set of generators if we're here longer than that.”

Trip tapped his comm. “Cap'n, did you or Jon find anythin' about the ship or its crew? Phlox and I found some really nasty-looking weapons down here in their engine room. And as he mentioned, the main power connections are shot...looks like on purpose.”

Hoshi sighed. “According to their logs, this ship left 'Prime Planet' nearly eight Standard years ago. Their Captain said that their ships are independent vessels on their own, once they leave Prime's atmosphere, and aside from reports back to their homeworld, it could be years before they return.”

“Kinda like Enterprise, then.”

“Yes, in a way. Here's the strange part, Trip: this crew wasn't due to check in for another seven or eight months and the minimal communications are locked away under a complicated cipher.”

Phlox frowned. “That's a long time to be incommunicado, Captain. So they wouldn't have known about what happened here for nearly another year?”

“Pretty much. Years in space, with the occasional check-in every eight months or so...maybe someone decided they'd had enough of the current captain's way of running things and staged a rebellion."

"I don't like it, Cap'n. No records of meetin' anyone else in eight years? What were they doin', runnin' silent?"

Hoshi coughed a little, then replied, "You mean, they could've been spies for their people?"

"It's a possibility. I mean, not talkin' to anyone in eight years and keepin' a low profile? That sounds like a classified mission to me."

Phlox shook his head. "It all sounds rather fantastic, Charles. But considering the odd facts of this whole situation...anything is possible."

Hoshi coughed again, as if her throat was dry. They both heard Jon ask, “Are you all right?”

“I'm fine, Jon. Just a little hoarse.” She cleared her throat and ordered, “Phlox, get an Engineering team from Enterprise together. It seems like you're going to have your hands full getting this ship functional.”

“Thank you, Captain.” Phlox paused, then added, “Perhaps we all should return to Enterprise to refresh ourselves.”

Kov broke into the conversation with, “I would like to get out of this environmental suit, Captain. Spending long periods of time within it is quite uncomfortable.”

She chuckled. “Welcome to the hazards of deep space exploration, Kov. All right, once Lieutenant Hess and the team arrive, we'll return to Enterprise. Once everything's settled, report to the Bridge. That goes for you too, Phlox. Trip, too.”

“Acknowledged, Captain. Phlox, out.” He closed the channel, then raised his eyebrows at Trip. “It appears we have our work cut out for us.”

“Yeah.” Trip glanced around the remains of the engine room, then at the spear-like weapon in his hands. “You notice the Cap'n didn't even sound alarmed when I mentioned these weapons?”

Phlox nodded. “I did notice that, but if the crew did mutiny, the presence of personal weapons would not have surprised her. As she said, being on a ship for so long without any contact, and if the crew wasn't happy with their captain...”

“True. Still---” Trip shook his head and pushed the tiny button embedded in the end of the spear. The serrated blade retracted into its sheath. “All right...we got a lot to do before Hess gets here.”

*****
VI Jon

Jon watched the replay of the unknown captain's report on his PADD. The Captain appeared humanoid, save for his bright golden eyes and the glittering tattoos on his skin. He didn't resemble any other member of his crew at all; in fact, he kept looking his shoulder as if expecting trouble.

Looks like he already suspected his crew might already be against him. The rough translation of the Captain's words scrolled along the bottom of the screen. Of course, it didn't match the movements of the Captain's mouth, and many of those words were either missing or implied. Yet the translation was remarkably accurate.

Jon narrowed his eyes at the man's body language. The Captain spoke of  normal ship's business, but he held himself rigidly in his chair, the golden eyes blazed with tightly-controlled emotion. Grief? Anger? It was difficult to tell. Jon knew better than to jump to conclusions; they didn't know much about these people, so the Captain's behavior might be considered normal.

Still...there was something off about the conversation and Jon was determined to find out what it was.

The image of the Captain looked straight at Jon, as if he was just at the other end of a comm line. His smooth brow wrinkled in thought, then his mouth moved again.

Jonathan.

He glanced over his shoulder, but Hoshi was turned away from him, busy with the communications relay, her expression intent. She tapped buttons and listened to the comm in her EVA suit, connected to the Universal Translator on Enterprise. 

Jon returned his gaze to the alien on the screen, who was still listing the ship's business in a monotone. He noticed a strange flickering of lights behind the captain. The man paused, as if sensing someone else in the room with him. Suddenly, his head jerked upward and to the left, as if brought up short by an invisible force. 

The breath came out of Jon's lungs in a rush, like someone had punched him in a gut. His throat closed and he clawed at his EVA suit's helmet, trying to get enough air. A dark voice in his mind whispered, You wish to know how others live, feel, exist. Now you shall know how this one felt in his last moments, Jonathan.  Your empathy will be your downfall.

Jon wasn't capable of rational thought; his mind screamed in abject terror as the captain on the screen also struggled to breathe. Empathy, pain, terror, going to die, going to drown, revenge, revenge, freedom, light!

He heard soft murmurs from somewhere off to his left. A woman's voice, just out of his hearing range. Jon detected sibilants that didn't exist in Standard English; he strained to understand the unfamiliar words. They echoed all around him, reverberating back and forth, overlapping each other.

Revenge, freedom, bright light, you cannot stop us. We will survive! We will overcome!

"Jon? Jon!" He heard Hoshi's strident tone over his speaker. "What's wrong? Are you all right?" Her gentle hands checked his EVA suit. "Breathe, Jon, you're getting enough oxygen, you're going to be all right. Jon, stay with me, breathe for me--"

He managed to jerk his hand toward his PADD. The alien captain on the screen lay slumped on his desk, his eyes wide open and glassy, his face a deep orange-red. Hoshi reached over and snapped off the PADD's screen. The crushing weight on Jon's chest abruptly vanished. He slumped over, fighting against the blackness that threatened to overwhelm him.

The pain was gone, but the voices continued their chant: Revenge, freedom, light, not bright enough! Not bright enough... Hoshi stiffened, her hand going to the phase pistol on her belt. "You hear that, Jon? The voices--"

"I hear them. They're everywhere. I can't even think--Hoshi!" He grabbed her as she stumbled as if a huge wave had struck her. "Hoshi, are you all right?"

“Phlox to Sato! The temporary generators are spiking! Power to the Bridge is fluctuating--"

The lights went out and plunged the entire Bridge into darkness. Jon blinked in the pitch black; there was no visible light anywhere. He felt Hoshi straighten up and move away from him.  “Hoshi? Captain Sato? Are you all right--?"

The babble of voices rose and fell all around him. Hoshi answered, but he couldn't hear her through the din. Jon heard Kov's order loud and clear, though: "Jonathan, I am on the emergency ladder between levels one and two. Whatever you do, don't listen to them!”

Jon clapped his hands over his ears, but it was no use. He dredged up the most monotonous chapter of the Vulcan Logic and Rhetoric and began to chant it aloud: “Panah-tor Du hokni'es, kal'er've-so-resh... Consider Consciousness, (a) confusing madness...” The intensity of the aural attack slackened, fell in volume and tempo, before dying away completely.

He heard the emergency doors open, then Kov's voice with Trip's and Phlox's not far behind. Jon raised his voice over the chaos. “We need some lights!” There was a crash, then several curses in Denobulan. “Phlox?!”

Phlox slapped the console and the lights returned. The four men glanced around to find themselves the only ones on the Bridge. Hoshi had disappeared.

“Where's the Cap'n?” Trip demanded.

“I don't hear anything,” Kov gasped. “They've stopped---”

That was when the screaming began.
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October 2012

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