The Raptor is on it's way back from another escort mission, for once it went by without incident. I'm looking forward to returning to Starbase 186 for some peace and quiet.
Harry lay in an open hilltop field in Ketha Province, on his homeworld Termia, watching the clouds pass overhead, and enjoying the sound of the breeze passing through the tall grass.
Harry folded his arms behind his head and sighed contentedly, they had some shore leave coming soon and he was debating about going home. Beside him lay a folded piece of paper, a letter from his aunt. He smiled thinking about his Aunt Krysta, she was so stubborn about just sending a simple electronic message and always insisted on sending it on paper, usually on paper she had made herself out of recycled clothing and vegetable matter. It was the usual stuff, talking about her business making various herbal remedies, gossip, but she insisted he come home soon, there was something important.
It would be nice to see her at least, he wasn't looking forward to seeing his brother James that much though.
A cloud drifted overhead and he quieted his mind, he would think about it later, for now, he was just going to enjoy one of these few scant quiet moments.
The serene scene was broken when a com chime sounded.
Harry sighed. "Martinez, what is it?" Harry said tapping his combadge.
"Captain, " Terri-Lu's voice said over the speaker. "I'm sorry to interrupt your lunch, but I have a priority message from Starbase 53 from an Admiral Hojj."
Harry sat up. "Tell him I'll be there shortly."
So much for the peace and quiet. He stood up. "Computer, End Program."
An acknowledgment chime sounded, and the serene vista dissolved into the orange grid of a holo-suite. He headed for the door which opened and lead to the Raptor.
The Naked Eternity
Tribute Story: Based of Star Trek TOS: "The Naked Time." & TNG "The Nake Now"
Harry entered the bridge and stood by his chair placing one hand behind his back and the other up on his chair. "Put the Admiral on screen," Harry said over his shoulder.
"Aye, Captain." Terri said doing so.
The screen flickered to reveal a middle aged Dorellean, a member of a race of humanoid boars. "Ah, Commander Martinez, I need to ask you to look into something of importance for me."
"I would be happy to do so Admiral, what is it?"
"The Albion, was sent to the Xeris system a week ago to pick up a Confederation Survey team. They were supposed to meet up with them at one of the civilian trader stations but we've lost contact with them. I know you are free at the moment, and the closest vessel, would you mind checking out that situation and report back to me as soon as possible."
"Of course it would be our pleasure," Harry replied.
"I've already sent the coordinates of the station." Admiral Hojj said, Harry glanced over to Rivas who nodded in acknowledgment. "Good Luck, Hojj out."
The screen winked out switching back to a star field.
"Mr. Land please set a course for the Xeris system maximum warp," Harry said stepping up to and sitting in the command chair. "Ms. Lu please inform Starbase 186 of the change in our orders."
"It's already done sir." Terri replied from her console.
Harry smirked he wasn't surprised. He quickly thumbed the com button. "Engineering, how are those engines today?"
Fara looked up at the speaker and thumbed the com console. "We've got a minor fluctuation in the plasma flow to the starboard nacelle, we haven't isolated it yet, but I don't think it will be a problem as long as we don't start pushing the engines too hard." She said calling up a diagnostic screen and not finding anything again. Since the incident earlier in the year any fluctuations were highly scrutinized.
"How hard is too hard?"
"Keep it below Warp six please," Fara replied.
"Understood Chief." Harry said closing the channel.
"KNACKT!" Fara bellowed as loud as she could causing several of her fellow engineers to nearly jump out of their skin..
"WHAT!" Shouted a voice from down one of the maintenance conduits near the warp core. She walked over to the conduit and stuck her head inside it. "The diagnostic is still not showing what the problem is but the Plasma flow regulator still shows a fluctuation. You're going to have to crawl down there and check it out."
"ARGH Fine, sure I just love being in hot dark places surrounded by high energy conduits," Knackt yelled back sarcastically. "I'll get on it."
Fara suddenly heard the warp core's pulse change and the normal thrum increase she braced herself gently against the bulkhead as the ship jumped into warp.
Jenna Rydel approached her from the side corridor. "Fara, I have just got done running a diagnostic on the whole computer and internal sensors, there is nothing wrong with the equipment." She said handing her a pad.
Fara took it and read the data. "This is strange, We've practically rebuilt the entire system and we're still getting these weird readings." Fara groused. "Maybe one of the coils is causing some sort of feedback loop?"
"Well it's not my systems," Jenna said. "Terri and I just went over the entire grid a few weeks ago, if something was broke or slightly off we replaced it."
Fara glared at the pad and thrust it back into Jenna's hand. "Well thanks for your help, I guess we'll have to try to track it down next time we're at spacedock."
"It's probably nothing Fara." Jenna said taking the padd back. "Now if you'll excuse me I have a terminal on deck 4 that is not working properly."
Fara nodded and she left, she hoped it was nothing, she didn't like little unexplained glitches. "I swear if you break on me again you bucket of stem bolts I'll personally take you apart with my bare hands." She said to the ship under her breath walking over the primary display console and tossing her padd onto it and scanning the readings of the Raptor's diagnostics.
The Raptor exited warp space outside the Xeris system.
"Hail the Survey Team Mrs. Lu." Harry said.
Terri nodded and opened a channel but after a few tries there was no response.
"Sir, I can't raise them."
"That's weird is their transmitter functioning?" Harry asked.
"Yes the transponder is functioning but they aren't responding."
Harry thought to himself. "They are located on the fifth planet, Mr. Land set a course perhaps it's just a simple malfunction.
"Aye, Skipper." Jack said setting a course.
Within a few moments, the Icey World of Xeris five rolled into view on the viewer.
"Scan the surface." Harry said.
"I have located the research s-s-station." O'mara reported.
The screen changed showing the rounded dome building complex typical of similar research outposts.
"It looks fine any lifesigns?"
"No." Michelle responded.
"Terri, you said the transponder is working is there any way you could patch us into one of their communication stations so we can see what's going on don there.
"I'll try captain," Terri said going to work on her station.
"I don't like this Commander." Rivas said. "I've ran some scan's myself the Outposts power systems are still on but the internal temperature is the same as the planet's surface."
Harry scowled that wasn't good at all. An Icy world like that, if there had been some sort of environmental control failure the research team would have been frozen in a matter of moments.
"Sir, I think I got something," Terri said. "Patching it through now."
The screen flickered revealing a room covered with ice with a lone figure slumped over a desktop.
Harry grimaced. "Lt. O'mara, Jakar with me." He tapped his combadge. "Dr. Okan report to the transporter room for an away mission.. We're going down there I want answers. Mr. Rivas you have the bridge."
Martinez, Jakar, O'mara, Dr. Okan, and two security officers materialized in the outpost each in protective environmental suits.
They each took out their tricorders and began scanning for life signs.
"The environmental controls are offline," Harry said. "We need to find out what happened here."
"It looks like the main fusion generator is offline as well." Jakar said. "I can see if I can get it started again."
Harry nodded. "So how do you want to do this? O'mara and I can work on getting the computer back online if you think you can get the power back up."
"We'll do a sweep of the station as well," Jakar said over the comlink. "You two with me." He said to the security officers.
Dr. Okan walked over to the frozen form slumped over the workstation. He started to scan it.
"Anything?" Harry asked.
"Nothing I can find without a full examination, cause of death is pretty obvious, extreme hypothermia." Dr. Okan said. "If whatever caused this is biological I wouldn't be able to find the contaminant without thawing the specimen out first."
He saw a light blinking on the communications station and tapped it.
"Martinez to Raptor, we haven't found anything yet, keep this channel open."
"Understood Sir." He heard Terri Lu reply over the speaker.
"Let's see if we can get this terminal working and pull up the logs." Harry said to O'mara.
O'mara nodded nervously trying to keep her distance from the corpse.
Jakar and the others made their way down to the reactor room. It was exactly as Jakar thought. The reactor had simply been shut off. Devices like this weren't as complicated as a Warp Core to start back up and he was able to get it operational in a few moments. Soon power thrummed back to life in the station. He looked around the room and noticed not one body was in the room. "Fan out." He said to his men. "We need to find out what happened to the crew of this place."
Harry and Michelle noticed the main power come back on
"Captain, I'm going to see if I can't find anyone here I can help." Okan said. "I feel a bit useless just standing around here."
Harry nodded and brought up the internal sensor scans. "Just keep an open com channel and keep your phaser handy. We don't know what caused this yet. Jakar Have you found any trace of the research team?"
"Negative, I'm thinking about sending crewmen Dorn to the Habitat area. We haven't found anyone down here in the maintenance area."
"I'll send Doctor Okan that way to meet him," Harry said. "Doctor the instant you find anything let us know."
"I will Commander." Dr. Okan said heading out the door.
Don Rivas sat on the bridge drumming his fingers. The away team had been quiet but if figured if Harry hadn't called screaming for help then he must of had the situation under control. The mood was a bit eerie though, they hadn't even reported finding a single survivor of the team down below.
He understood that things could happen but it was one thing to find a smoking crater where a peaceful research base was and having to deal with a hostile alien race and another when everything is relatively intact and the entire crew was missing.
He got up and walked over to Terri's station. She smiled at him as he approached.
"Lieutenant, have you picked up any signal from the Albion or any subspace chatter?"
"No, I haven't sir, Sorry." Terri said. "I've also inquired about its whereabouts on the fednet and no one has seen it either."
Rivas growled. "I don't like this a dead research station and a missing ship. Something doesn't feel right."
Terri nodded in agreement as the bridge doors parted and Fara stepped onto the bridge and looked at the screen. "So, anything exciting going on up here?"
"I wouldn't say exciting more grim, Chief." Rivas said.
"Oh, wonderful," Fara said sitting down at the engineering station and activating it. "So I take it our fearless leader is down there in the middle of it."
"Yes Commander." Terri suddenly spoke up. "Of course we'll send one down immediately."
"What was that about?" Rivas asked.
"He's requesting a Data extractor to pull the stations logs and records."
"I'll go get it." Fara said. "Anything to keep him busy enough to keep from calling me down into that mess."
Dr. Okan, Jakar and his men walked through the habitat area of the station. The place was practically frozen despite the environmental systems being restored. Jakar spotted an arm sticking out through a partially open door and approached it.
"Doctor if you could assist." He said.
Doctor Okan nodded set his kit down and helped force the door apart. Jakar, using the butt of his phaser rifle, was able to pry the door open and upon looking inside the scene unnerved him.
The room was a recreation room and there were several members of the research team frozen in place in various states of undress. A few appeared to have been in the middle of having sex, others appeared to be fighting when they met their end succumbing to the harsh temperatures. Dr. Okan pushed past them and started scanning the dead.
"Again these people all died of Hypothermia and exposure when the environmental systems were shut off." He raised his brow at one dead female feline Cornerian fully clothed and in the corner laying on her back on the ground. He scanned the body and the tricorder indicated that her windpipe had been crushed and multiple contusions were on her neck. "She was strangled… My god what happened here?" Doctor Okan said shaking his head.
"Chief can we get out of here?" Jakar heard one of his men exclaim quietly.
"At ease Gaita." Jakar hushed the Catarian crewmen. "Use your tricorder log the casualties and move to the next room." He activated his com. "Commander we've located the team, no survivors."
"Can you tell what happened?" Harry asked.
"I don't know, their behaviors at time of death appear to be… random. Some are fighting others were engaged in intercourse and some seem to be just catatonic. I've never seen anything like this before." Jakar said.
"Doctor what is your opinion?"
"I don't know possibly some sort of contamination, poisoning, alien parasite." Doctor okan mused. "I've never seen such a display of behaviors all in the same room. Some are clearly trying to kill each other, others.. well the opposite I suppose and no one seems to care that they were dying while it was all going on."
"I'll admit, it's beyond what I've encountered and I've seen a lot myself." Jakar grunted. He turned to his men. "Gaita, Dorn sweep the whole base I want to make sure this place is clear."
The two crewmen nodded and went on their way.
"Commander, I've got the main computer operating," Michelle announced.
"Good work Lieutenant," Harry said grabbing the data extractor off the table and coming over to her. "What's there?"
"It… l l looks like all the logs and research are all here. The most recent one was about a week ago." Michelle said.
"Let's get all of it." Harry said. "More than likely we're going to have to quarantine the outpost may as well get what we can. Help me hook this up to the terminal so we don't have to be here too much longer than we have to be."
"Sounds good to me sir," Michelle said helping him open up the equipment trunk so they could connect the data extractor.
Ensign Gaita moved through another part of the base, Jakar had ordered they do a full sweep and his nose had been itching for at least a half hour at this point. He hated being in the environmental suit and the itch was getting nigh unbearable.. Dorn was down the hall sweeping the rest of the rooms not finding anything of note. He looked around and quickly undid the seal on this glove and sat the outer glove on a couch. He then popped his helmet off and quickly itched his nose.
Unknown to him several small crystals from the ice above him fell down into the gloves.
Feeling some relief, at last, he quickly put his helmet back on and put the glove back on. The crystals inside quickly melted and started to seep through the inner covering till it made contact with his skin.
"Ensign Gaita, we've done all we can here head to the command center for beam out." Jakar's voice said over the helmets speaker.
"Gaita here I'm on my way."
The away team returned to the Raptor and Doctor Okan insisted on a full decontamination process. After a full gamut of scans and checks that took over an hour to complete, Okan cleared everyone.
Rivas was outside the decontamination chamber as they came out.
"Any update on the Albion?" Harry asked clad in the temporary clothing similar to hospital scrubs that were donned after decontamination.
"We've picked up their trail but no radio communication."
"We need to find them," Harry said. "And let's hope they didn't succumb to the same fate as the research outpost. I want quarantine buoys placed in orbit, we're not equipped to deal with the mess down there." Harry said grimly. "I'll contact Fleet Command and let them know what's going on here." Harry turned to the others. "Dr. Okan try to figure out whatever you can from your readings. Lieutenant O'mara start going over those logs and find anything you can."
Michelle nodded. "I'll t. Commander."
"First things first I'm getting back into a uniform, Jakar, Rivas I'll be on the bridge in 10 minutes.," Martinez said.
Jakar dismissed Ensign Dorn and Gaita and they headed back to their quarters.
"That was a hell of a first mission wasn't it" Crewmen Dorn said to Gaita as they walked.
"Yeah, it was." Gaita said itching his hand wondering why it felt slightly hot.
"Well, I'm going to get a drink after all that are you game?"
"Maybe later I'm going to go to my quarters first."
"Ok have it your way."
Michelle sat in one of the Raptor's labs with the data extractor perusing through the logs. A lot of it was pretty mundane, they were researching some of the microbial life living under the ice. Reports, letters, personal logs, research findings. Nothing so far of interest. Michelle rubbed her eyes feeling tired, It'd be nice if she could just skip to the end but she was expected to find out what happened from the station's logs.
The door to the lab opened and Terri Lu stepped inside with a tray of snacks and some tea. "I heard you got stuck with burning the midnight oil, could you lose a pick me up?"
"Yes, definitely," Michelle said gratefully pausing the video. "What did you bring me." she said gratefully.
"Kurat and Crackers." Terri replied placing the tray on the lab table with a smile.
"Did you make it or replicate it?" Michelle asked.
"Well I don't have the beatles for it but i do keep the spice around for meals while we're out on patrol." Terri said.
"That's fine thank you Terri." Michelle said gratefully.
Terri looked over at the paused monitor. "Find anything yet."
"No, I'm about a week out from the last log and nothing has jumped out at me yet." Michelle said putting a knife on the tray into the humas like paste and making a little sandwich with two crackers. "I've had the computer pull up a few key phrases, the Commander thinks they perhaps found something that caused all this but I ha.. ha… haven't found it… y.. y.. yet."
Terri cocked her head to the side in concern. Their friendship had started after Commander Martinez took command, and started talking to her after seeing her off by herself looking particularly sullen, in that short time they had developed a friendship. She worried about Michelle because she looked like she needed looking after, she couldn't imagine what it would be like to go through what she had and trying to adjust to it so quickly.
"Still having a stutter problem?"
"Yeah, I can't seem to.. sh sh shake it."
"What does Counselor Modorro say?"
"She says I need to stop worrying so much she pre.. pre prescribed me something for the anxiety." Michelle said sighing.
"Were you like this before, you know what happened?"
"N..no nothing really bothered me before." Michelle spotted something on the viewer. "Hold up."
"What'd you see?"
"Looks like they found something. Computer rewind last log recording."
On screen it showed the scientist extracting an ice core from the planets surface, they all seemed quite excited. Nothing seemed to amis as they watched the equipment remove the core,
"So what were they looking for?" Terri asked.
"Just proof that life had once existed on the planet." O'mara said offhandedly as the core was extracted from the drilling equipment. "They look pretty happy I wonder if they found what they are looking for?"
"Looks like it." Terri said munching on the snacks she brought and grabbing a chair so she could watch the proceedings.
Suddenly the image went static.
"What happened?" Terri asked.
"Data corruption," Michelle responded. "I was afraid of that with all the environmental damage to the inside of the base."
"Oh no, not on my watch," Terri said cracking her fingers. "Move over let me work my magic."
Gaita sat on the bunk in his quarters stewing over what he'd been through almost to the point of obsession. His roommate was out so he had the small one room unit to himself. All he could see over and over again in his mind were those poor people down there. It seemed so pointless to just die like they did and it was really bugging him. He could still see their faces frozen at the moment they died and it was the only thing he could see.
Suddenly the small space felt even smaller and he had to get out of the room, he needed some air, something to clear his mind. He left his quarters and headed for the mess hall.
"Any luck Hailing the Albion?" Harry asked as he paced around the bridge stopping by Rivas' op console.
"Nothing yet." Rivas said. "You know they are doing a survey of a nearby star there is a good chance that they just can't pick up our hails at all with all that interference."
"I am well aware of that," Harry said. "Please keep trying."
"You're the boss." Rivas shrugged.
"Skip." Land said getting up from his station as a crewman took his place. "I'm going off to lunch and since we aren't at alert status yet is that fine."
"Yeah, go ahead," Harry said.
"You want anything?" Jack asked.
"I don't know maybe some sort of sandwich you pick, I'm a little preoccupied," Harry said.
"Just leave it in your ready room?"
"Sure." Harry said. He didn't mind people having a cup of coffee or a bottle of water on the bridge but he was pretty strict about eating meals on his bridge. He didn't want the consoles getting all smudgy and grimy looking and crumbs everywhere. There was also the fact that due to the nature of most of their duties he didn't want his bridge crew spending their sparse leisure time when they had it on the bridge as well.
Land nodded and headed outside seeing Kai Remmick a Catarian leaning against the bulkhead waiting on him.
"Hey Kai." Jack smiled. "Did you bring the stuff?"
Kai grinned and procured two video disks in cases from behind his back that he had stuffed in the back of his uniform. "Oh you know I do."
Jack scooped them out of his friend's hand and eyed the titles realizing the handwriting was in Catanize. "Kai I can't read these."
"It's Snow Demons and Revenge of the Ice Lords," Kai said. "Don't worry I got the disks already processed through the computer to be translated for you."
Jack was practically ecstatic with excitement, he loved watching old movies no matter where they were from, especially the low budget ones. Not every planet had evolved a method of storytelling through film or if they had it was merely a fad before technology brought holo-novels.
"Sweet thank you. I hope these are as awesome as you say they are." Land said practically giddy wishing the cases had some sort of poster art, he could always look them up later and add covers to the cases and discs. "Think we got enough time to watch at least one of them?"
"Yeah maybe," Kai said. "It's been a while since I watched an old Sword and Sorcery flick. "I just hope they don't bust that old player of yours."
"You know I've got a backup." Land chuckled. "Thanks, man, I've been dying to see these."
"No problem Jack." Kai said. "Let's go get lunch and we'll start with the Snow demons and pick up the rest after our shift is over."
"Sounds like a plan," Jack said. "Let's go."
Gaita arrived at the mess and he was just feeling worse and worse.
'Hey Gaita, grab something and get over here." Ensign Land said waving at him.
Gaita reluctantly waived and went to a replicator, after much indecision, he settled on a simple sandwich and joined Land and Remmick at the table.
"Hey Man what's up are you ok you look absolutely haunted," Jack said concerned.
"It was pretty messed up down there." Gaita said staring down at his food his mind swimming with everything he had witnessed.
"I'll be ok I'm trained for it, right?" He said breaking out in a cold sweat. "All part of working in security."
"Gaita.." Kai Remmick said. "You don't look well at all."
"I'll be fine." He said staring at his tray.
"Well, Kai and I were going to watch a few movies and have a few beers when we get off our shift your welcome to join us if you want," Jack said concerned with his shipmate. "If you feel up to it."
"People died down there." Gaita snapped. "Men and women whose lives were just ended and all you want to do is watch some stupid film?"
"Hey easy, I get it that's not what I…."
Gaita threw his tray across the room and grabbed the knife off the table his outburst had broke the relative quiet of the mess and everyone was looking right at him.
"Get away from me," Gaita said sweating profusely. "Is this what we've come to, people have died down on that rock and no one cares, is that what will happen if we die out here huh? Just another statistic, just another body count?"
Kai and Jack were both on their feet exchanging glances at Gaita and the knife he was pointing at them as he backed up to the wall.
"Why are we even out here? Just to die, for what? The greater good?"
"Ren." Kai said patiently. "Put the knife down, we'll go see Doctor Okan, everything will be ok."
"No it won't be ok, my eyes are open now!" He stammered. "You are all so blind, we're just numbers, statistics to be thrown away by those in charge!"
"Ren buddy, you are not well, give me the knife please." Jack said trying to figure out when to make his move to disarm the Catarian.
"I'm not going to die because they want me to, no! I'm not playing their game." Ren Gaita said with a weird almost feverish grim. "I'll go out on my own terms."
Jack moved for the knife as fast as he could and Kai tried to tackle Ren against the wall. However, they were too late and they heard him cry out in pain as he drove the blade into his chest.
"Son of a bitch," Land said seeing the blade buried up to the handle in Gaita's chest. "Land to sickbay, Ensign Gaita has Stabbed himself we need an emergency medical team in the mess now."
It didn't take long for Dr. Okan to show up he brought out his tricorder and scanned ensign Gaita noticing he wasn't moving.
"What happened?" Dr. Okan asked.
Jack Land rubbed his hand, it was slick with Gaita's sweat from their grapple. "I don't know doc, he just started talking crazy and waving the knife around, we tried to get it away from him but he stabbed himself."
Okan looked at his tricorder readings, and shook his head. "He's dead, I have no idea why, the injury was serious but not fatal.
"Dead?" Jack said shocked. "But all we did was try to disarm him."
"I don't know what happened, I've never seen anything like that before." Dr. Okan mused. "Are either of you hurt."
"No doc we're fine other than trying to process all this." Kai said still a bit shocked and shaking his head.
"Yeah, neither one of us got hurt." Jack said.
Okan's staff loaded Gaita's body onto a gurney and took it out of the Mess hall.
"Nevertheless this makes very little sense, I want you too to report to sickbay, there is a lot of things that don't make sense about this, perhaps he was exposed to something. If you had physical contact you could be exposed."
"If you say so doc." Kai replied.
Land started feeling really strange as they waited in sickbay. He started to rub his hand as it felt like it itched.
"Something bothering you?" Kai said noticing the gesture.
"Just impatient is all." Jack said feeling suddenly very giddy. "Seems like a waste of time to me."
"Tell me about it, I'm going to have to deal with Fara when I get out of here." Kai complained.
"You know what, you are right," Jack said grinning suddenly not really caring about what the doctor wanted. He slapped Kai on the shoulder. "I'm out." Jack said standing up and heading for the door.
Kai laughed. "You've got to be kidding me, you know Dr. Okan can get you busted."
"I can't really go any lower rank wise at this point." Jack chuckled. "You can stay I'm leaving."
"You are nuts you know that."
Jack just bowed and quickly exited the sick bay at that time Nurse Twila came out and called their names. "Where's Mr. Land?" She asked.
"He left." Kai replied.
Twila scowled. "He wasn't supposed to."
"Well he did." Kai said.
Jack was humming to himself as he strolled down the corridor. He hit his combadge. "Terri babe where are you at?"
"Jack?" Terri said. "I"m on Deck 4, Lab 3, I thought we talked about being informal on com channels."
"Sorry I'm just missing you is all I'm heading down to see you."
"Um… ok. Don't we have to be on the bridge in 30 minutes?"
Jack walked up to one of the ladders that ran between decks. "Yeah so? It's not like we can't get there in time."
Terri hesitated a moment."Sure, Are you feeling ok?"
Jack positioned himself on the ladder so he could just do a controlled slide down it to the lower decks. "Never better, see you in bit."
Where the hell has that fox gone off too now?
Harry thought to himself noticing that Jack was late getting back to his post. However there were pressing matters at the moment, with a missing starship, a dead outpost, Jack's Insubordination was a little low on the totem pole of pressing matters to deal with.
"Jakar any idea on where the Albion's trail leads?" Harry asked.
"From my projections, I would say it's heading for a star located 4.8 light years for here," Jakar said. "It won't be that hard to track because they had no reason to hide their ionisation trail."
Harry nodded. "Ensign Munro what's our E.T.A to intercept."
The grim-looking young Altarian at the helm looked at his readouts. "If we increase our speed about 10 minutes, Commander."
"Then by all means." Harry sighed. "Don't push it over warp six." He said remembering Fara's warning earlier.
Munro nodded and increased the ships speed.
"Commander, do you wish me to keep trying to hail them?" Rivas said.
Harry nodded. "Affirmative, if they are ok I don't want to startle them rolling up on them at full speed."
Rivas nodded. "I'll keep trying."
"Doctor Okan to Martinez." Okan's voice said over the com."
"What is it Doctor?"
"We had an incident down in the mess hall and I requested our navigator report to sickbay for an evaluation however he insisted on leaving before I could see him."
Harry scowled that was quite unusual for Jack. "Martinez to Land respond please." He said tapping his combadge.
"Go find Ensign Land and take him to sickbay."
"I can send someone to get him sir." Jakar said.
"I want you to do it because you scare the hell out of him." Harry said. "I know
how to read a sensor readout I can run your station."
Jakar grinned. "Computer locate Ensign Land."
"Ensign land is between deck 2 and 3 access ladder j25."
"Ensign Land this is Jakar, you have been ordered to report to sickbay respond." He snapped as he exited the bridge.
Jack heard the page, removed his combadge glared at it and chucked it down the corridor as he hit the foot toggle for the next hatch down to deck four and continued on his way.
He slid down the ladder and started to make his way toward Lab 3 whistling to himself as he strolled along. He made it to the lab and stepped inside seeing Terri and Michelle huddled around a terminal.
"Hey Ladies what's up?" He said as he stepped inside.
"We're re.. reviewing the logs from the survey team." Michelle said annoyed at the intrusion. "Terri is trying to recover the footage."
"Yeah give me a second I almost got it." Terri said she was bent forward typing on the console. Jack walked up and playfully slapped her on the butt causing her to yelp in surprise.
"Hey!" Terri scolded him. "I'm trying to work here." She said blushing at this unusual amount of forwardness from him and a bit confused by it as well. "There that should do it, and what in the world has got into you?!" She asked turning to Jack as Michelle went back to her work trying to avoid being the third wheel.
"Just excited to see you is all." He said grasping Terri about her hips and pulling her close. "How can I not be with the best girlfriend I've ever had."
"Oh keep this up and the flattery and you'll get everywhere buster." Terri said flushing hotly under her fur.
Jack then brought his hands up to her face and kissed her deeply.
"Ugh can you two go find a supply closet or something I'm trying to work here," Michelle complained trying to get the computer to finish the restoration of the recording.
"There's an empty cargo bay across the hall." Jack suggested.
Terri grinned wickedly. "You know if we get caught we'll get in a lot of trouble."
"Yeah but come on I think you're ready aren't you?"
"Jack…" Terri said playfully shoving him. "I am and I like where this is going." she said trying to control herself and wondering why her face suddenly felt a bit itchy. She brought her hand up to where Jack had touched her and rubbed it subconsciously.
"For the love of the Great bird would you two get out of here." Michelle snapped at them both.
"You can come watch if you want." Jack chuckled.
"YUCK, LEAVE NOW!" Michelle yelled annoyed.
"Come on." Jack said motioning with his head.
"Ok," Terri said agreeing.
As they approached the door it opened revealing Jakar who was standing there looking none to happy. He quickly grabbed Jack by his tunic and hauled him forward. "Mr. Land you will come with me to sickbay now."
"Hey lighten up buddy you'll live longer." Jack protested.
"You won't if you continue to resist," Jakar said shoving him towards the direction of the nearest turbo lift. "Now move!" He snapped. "Ms. Lu unless you want to be written up, you are due to be on the bridge in five minutes."
"Yeah I know i was just helping Michelle is all…" she said trailing off suddenly seeming very distracted. Terri wandered back into the lab with Michelle feeling very strange and almost in a daze.
Michelle laughed. "That was the funniest thing I ever saw."
"Did you, um… did you… I don't remember what we were doing." Terri said stumbling around in a daze.
Michelle looked at her a bit confused. "We were recovering the records and I got the rest of the recording back, it looks like they found some sort sort of substance that they dubbed "poly water." I found a few reports they did on it as well i'm going to take them to the Commander."
She stopped and looked at Terri. "Are you feeling ok?"
"Oh yeah I feel… fine, just a bit dizzy." Terri said feeling suddenly very giddy almost like she was having a major buzz. "Here I can take it." She said grabbing the padd.
"No, it's fine I can handle it it's my project anyway." Michelle said tugging back on it.
"Come on, let me do it, you've worked enough on this." Terri said with a strange inflection brushing her hand along her own feathered one in a strange uncomfortable way.
Michelle jerked the padd back regarding her friend oddly. "Look, I've got it… I'm going to go now."
"Ok, if you want you don't have too." Terri said playing with her spines and giving her a very uncomfortable look.
Michelle quickly bolted out the door into the hallway. Everything about what just happened seemed wrong, she knew Echidnas could be a bit weird but that was a new one for her. She noticed her hand suddenly itched slightly where Terri had made contact with her and she rubbed it wondering what caused it. She had to get this to Harry asap so she headed for the bridge.
"OK ok stop shoving big guy!" Land protested as he was shoved into sickbay.
"Doctor I have your wayward patient." Jakar said blocking the door as Land dusted himself off.
Jack walked over and tried to shove Jakar. "Let's see how you like it tough guy..eouch!" he yelped as Jakar snatched him by the wrist, spun him around, applied just enough pressure to get the point across then shoved him back.
"You are not leaving." Jakar grunted ted as Jack gingerly rubbed his arm.
"Thank you Jakar I need him in one piece if you wouldn't mind." Dr. Okan said walking up to Jack and scanning him with a tricorder and raising a brow at the readings.
"Mr. Land have you been drinking, your blood alcohol content is unusually high."
"Nope, but that sounds like a great Idea!" Jack said with a laugh.
"I don't think so." Dr. Okan said. "Go sit on the biobed please I need to get a blood sample."
"Whatever you say doc." Jack shrugged walking over to the biobed and hopping onto it.
"Doctor do you have this under control I need to get back to the bridge." Jakar grunted.
"Yes we can handle it we won't let him out of our sight."
Jakar nodded and headed out as Dr. Okan went to go get the appropriate tools.
"Hello gorgeous how are you doing today?" Jack said to Twila as she stepped out of an adjoining room.
Nurse Twila regarded him oddly. "I am fine, but I don't think Ms. Lu would appreciate you hitting on me." She said walking over to him and crossing her arms. "And running out on us earlier isn't really putting you in my good graces." she scowled.
Jack reached out and touched her wrist. "Hey it's nothing to be cross about you need to relax and live a little, fine coyotes like you should relax a bit you know."
Twila pulled away and scowled at him. "I think you better stay put." She said. "Doctor are you about ready to get that sample?"
"Yes I am." He said arriving with set of sterile syringes. He put on some gloves, and then put a little rubber strap around Lands arm and found a vein. "Just got to get a little sample and see what's going on with you at the moment, I'll try to be gentle."
"Meh it's just a pin prick i won't die." Jack said.
Dr. Okan got the sample and stuck some gause on the site and put some quick gauze around it. "There now, can I get you to stay here Until I say otherwise." Dr. Okan scolded the fox.
"Yeah I'll stay here."
"I'll keep an eye on him Doctor." Nurse Twila said rubbing her wrist where Jack had touched her.
"I can call more staff if i have to if you don't think you can." Dr. Okan said.
"No i got it, just go." Twila smiled.
"Alright then, i'm heading down to the lab." Dr. Okan said taking the blood draw with him.
Terri staggered along deck four in a daze, she felt hot and had removed her tunic and was down to her skirt and her undershirt zipped down most of the way. Some part of her was screaming at her that she had something to do but that was boring work stuff she had other interests at the moment she wanted to take care of.
She was really mad at Jakar for taking Jack away, she's been waiting for months, behaving herself to play things Jacks way and take it slow much to her frustration and then he shows up, wants to get down to business and gets hauled off.
Terri had an itch that seriously need scratched and with the way her heart was beating and how everything tingled on her whole being she didn't care who did it.
She heard swearing from around a corner and a rapid succession of electrical pops. She followed the sounds and the smell of Ozone and saw Knackt on his knees in front of power junction relay.
"Really you bucket of junk! That's how you're gonna be is it?" He threw a spanner at the wall and it bounced off. "Why I otta rip out the whole mess and replace it with bailing wire and a damn hamster wheel it'd work better than this crap!" He sighed and suddenly noticed a shadow fall over him. He looked up at Terri was above him with her tunic mostly undone giving him quite the view of her breasts.
"Hi!" She said smiling down at him.
"Er…." Knackt said a bit stunned and rubbing his eyes. "Did I fall asleep or something?"
"Maybe." Terri said seductively. "I have a problem you could help me with."
"You don't say…" Knackt grinned, he was seriously hoping that when that conduit shorted he was actually laying on the deck unconscious, it wouldn't have been the first time the Raptor had given him a nasty shock that put his lights out. "This has got to be a dream."
"It's whatever you want it to be cutie." Terri said standing up and removing her top.
Knackt stared at her his eyes wide now convinced he was probably lying on the deck having a cardiac arrest from the electrical shock. "Whelp, i'm either going to die or wake up in sickbay any moment now let's get to it before someone brings me back to the real world." He tossed his tools aside as Terri finished disrobing.
Jakar arrived back on the bridge. "Mr. Land is in sickbay."
"Good what the hell was he doing?" Harry asked.
"He was on Deck 4, with Ms. Lu." Jakar reported. "He removed his combadge that's why he wasn't responding."
"Really?" Harry said that was very unusual for Jack. He'd be late,sure, tardiness was the one thing he was punctual at. Flagrantly avoiding his duties that was another thing entirely.
"Captain we are entering the system we tracked the Albion to." Ensign Munro reported.
"Take us out of warp, full impulse."
"Captain I have a sensor lock on the vessel they are orbiting the star."
Harry was getting annoyed why weren't they responding? "Open a channel." He said glancing at the chronometer and wondering where Terri-Lu was she should be back by now as well.
"Channel open." Rivas said.
"Albion this is Commander Martinez of the starship Raptor please respond we have a potential emergency we need to discuss with you."
The sound of merriment and general chaos came over the speakers.
"The only problem we have over here commander." A sultry female voice cooed. "Is you aren't over here enjoying the party." she then moaned in pleasure very loudly.
Harry looked a bit perplexed and exchanged looks with the others. "Captain we believe you may have been exposed to some sort of contagion we are here to help."
"We don't need help just more tongues." The voice responded with another load moan.
"Hey what's this button do?!" A voice said over the com over raucous laughter. Suddenly the shrill sound of an alarm sounded, a violent rush of air and then nothing.
"Munro…." Harry growled gritting his teeth and squeezed the top of the com chair.
"Taking us in we'll intercept shortly."
"Can you patch us through to their viewer." Harry snapped at Lt. Commander Rivas.
"Already on it." he typed furiously at his console. "Patching through now."
The Raptor's screen flickered revealing an empty bridge with shattered consoles and graffiti scrawled along the panelling in the back was a single emergency hatch that showed starfield.
Harry looked on in restrained horror.
"What the hell just happened?!" Rivas said.
"Sensors detecting several bodies drifting away from the Albion." Jakar reported grimly.
The Raptor aft bridge door opened and Michelle O'Mara enters the bridge panting and stumbled over to her chair. "Why is it so Damn hot in here?" She complained unzipping her tunic.
"I hope you have something for me lieutenant." Harry said.
"Of course I do because god forbid I ever come up short, you ass." She snapped at him.
Harry blinked. "Excuse me?"
"I got your damn report," She slurred. "Just a bunch of scientists pulling core samples and they found some weird water thing. You figure it out." She said tossing the padd at him. "I'm tired of you pushing me around, sir!" she slurred smoothing her feathers.
Harry caught the padd and just stared at her as if he was the victim of some sort of practical joke. "Lieutenant you are out of line." He said levelly. "I don't know what's come over you but you had better check yourself."
Michelle walked up to him and then slapped him as hard as she could.
"I'm done when we get home i'm leaving this ship and getting as far from you as possible." She said making a rude gesture at him and then storming off.
"Captain should I…" Jakar spoke up as she left.
"No…." Harry said rubbing his face and feeling a weird hot sensation passing through his skin. "I think we have worse things to worry about." Harry said as a sudden realization dawned on him. "Martinez to Okan."
Doctor Okan looked up from his samples of Jack's blood.
He did find something, there was some strane molecule that was multiplying rapidly in the foxes blood and producing an alcohol like waste that was causing the intoxicating effects.
"Yes Captain what is it?"
"I think we have a serious problem on our hands."
"Yes, I believe so." Doctor Okan said. "I've been reviewing Mr. Lands blood samples and he seems to be rife with a similar molecule to what I found in the bodies back on the surface and ensign Gaita."
"I think it's worse than that." Harry said. "I think the crew is already infected."
"That's not good at all."
"No it isn't we found the Albion its bridge crew just killed themselves, someone blew the emergency hatch. The rest of the vessel is a tomb."
"Whom else do you think is infected?"
"Lieutennent O'mara just went off at me and struck me, I think that's a good sign."
"Oh dear try to get her restrained we don't need her spreading it to the rest of the crew." Doctor Okan said collecting his readings and heading back up the spiral stairs to sickbay.
"Do you know how it's spread? Or what it is?"
"Not yet sir, still figuring that bit out. Just get Ms. O'mara contained before she spreads the disease any further."
"Nurse Twila, please see to it …. that…" he stopped seeing that Jack Land again wandered off was nowhere to be seen and his chief nurse was dancing naked on the med table running her hands along her whole body with rhythmic club music playing over the sick bay speakers.
"Hello Doctor." She cooed at him. "Do you like my dance?"
Okan stared at her his mouth agape and then quickly got ahold of himself. "Computer Initiate Medical Quarantine 6, Authorization Okan Theta Zero Three! Level 2 containment forcefield around Nurse Twila."
"Acknowledged." An alarm sounded throughout the ship. "Warning this Vessel is under Medical Quarantine all critical system control is now locked. Please contact the Chief Medical Officer for any questions." All consoles throughout the ships access point entered a restricted access mode.
"Oh, Richard you are no fun." Twila pouted at him as she touched the forcefield.
"You aren't well." Okan said running over to the cellular synthesiser. "Where is Ensign land?"
"Oh, we had a little fun and I let him go." She said innocently batting her eyes at him.
"Wonderful." Okan growled grabbing a device that provides a protective membrane for his hands past the forcefield. "I need a blood sample from you if you don't mind."
"You can take whatever you want Doctor." She giggled at him.
Okan stuck the device onto the force field and passed the syringe through it. "Just hold out your arm."
She did as told and he withdrew the blood from it. "I'm getting you a robe."
"I don't want a robe, it's so hot in here." She said stretching lifting her hands above her head, standing on her toes and arching her back. "I like being this way, it's liberating you should try it."
"Maybe later…" He said. He set the sample down and then went to go get a dressing screen for his colleague. Whatever this nasty little molecule was it was making her act this way and he wanted to try to preserve some of her dignity if he found a way out of this mess.
Michelle made her way down deck two she was being very touchy with any crew mate she came across which got her lots of weird and amused looks, it was also spreading the infection like wildfire without her being aware of it. She wasn't even aware of the alarm going off that had everyone scurrying about .
Jenna Rydel rushed past her and Michelle reached out and pulled her tail.
"Hey what's the big Idea?" Jenna protested.
"Just playing around!" Michelle smirked.
"Well don't do that again, if I do that to you there will be feathers!" She said a bit put off but Michelle was already gone.
She still felt really hot but more confident than she had been in a long time. She also felt like she had been binge drinking and had a serious buzz going more to the fact she was just giddy. She rounded a corner and slammed into Jack Land and they both staggered back a bit.
"Hey watch where you are going!" She snapped at him.
"I was." Jack said smoothly. "You bumped into me!"
"So what if I did, you should have moved." She said shoving him.
"What's with the attitude?" Jack chuckled. "I like it."
"Just tired of no one taking me seriously." Michelle slurred. "You all think I'm a joke! Michelle scan this, analyze that just because I don't have that big of a job around here doesn't mean you all have to patronise me!" she said smoothing her feathers.
"I never thought that about you." Land said. "Hell I wish I could understand half of what you know."
"You mean that?" Michelle said feeling her anger start to fade and shift to something else.
"Of course I do." Land chuckled. "It's gotta be way harder than flying a ship."
"That's really nice of you to say." She said batting her eyes at him and flexing her tail feathers. She stepped up close to him and put her arms around his neck. "So you got anything else nice you'd like to say."
"I can think of a few more things, why?"
Michelle made a warbling sound and nipped at his muzzle. "My place or yours?"
Jack grinned. "Lady's choice."
"Knackt, where the hell are you!?" Fara said walking around deck four. She finally found the junction he was working and saw a bunch of tools scattered about and a female officers uniform, or at least most of it on the floor.
She stopped and regarded it strangely for a moment prodding it with her boot curiously. She was a bit worried with the medical quarantine in effect she was trying to get all her people rounded up.
"Knackt?" She called out again looking at the shorted out conduit. She scowled, it wasn't like him to just leave things in a state of mess. Her ears caught some sort of weird sound, it sounded muted but she thought it was his voice. She followed the sound and it sounded like two people engaged in rather vigorous mating coming from a nearby cargo bay. Fara gritted her teeth she had told the rat to keep that crap to himself in his quarters during his own time. She approached the doors and charged inside.
"Now listen here you scummy little rat…."
Fara immediately ran back out of the door with a look of shock on her face. She rubbed her eyes and then peaked back in and regretted it.
"Yuck Terri why him of all people." She muttered, maybe this was what the quarantine was about they were both going to be in serious trouble if they….
"Hi… chief." Jenna Rydel slurred at her as she rounded a corner.
"Um.. Hi why are you down here? Shouldn't you be at your post?" Fara said suddenly feeling very uncomfortable.
"I could be but I don't feel like it."
"Ooo kay." Fara said trying to move around her but Jenna blocked her path.
"Fara can I be honest with you.." Jenna said tugging at her spines.
"Sure…" Fara said.
"I think you are very pretty.." She said sheepishly. "And I'm attracted to you."
"What?" Fara said trying to process exactly what was happening.
"I want to be with you Fara." She said stepping close.
"Um…" Fara said trying to figure out just exactly what the hell was going on. "Look I appreciate that and I like you a lot too, just not that way, I mean your a great friend but.. don't you have a boyfriend?!"
"Oh he won't mind, he'd probably get a kick out of it." Jenna said touching the side of Fara's face. Fara quickly ducked under her and got out away. "Look I don't know what's going on but I don't think you are well Jenna."
"I've never felt better, come on what are you afraid of?"
"Don't take this the wrong way but i'm just not into, well any of that, erm I don't have time." she said rubbing at her face feeling a strange burning sensation.
"I'll make it worth your while if you just make the time." Jenna pleaded.
"Maybe later, I got to go!" Fara said hurrying down the hallway.
Jenna looked on a bit upset but then walked over to the cargo bay and poked her head in to see what Fara had seen, a wicked smile crossed her muzzle and she stepped inside.
Fara slapped her combadge. "Phoenix to Martinez what the hell is going on?"
"Apologies chief we may have a deadly situation on our hands. What's up?"
"Well I just caught my right hand man fucking your communications officer and my systems specialist just made a pass at me maybe it'd be nice if you'd clue me in!"
"We're trying to figure that out right now." Harry said feeling a bit strange. "Whatever killed the survey team and now the crew of the Albion has apparently made it on board."
"And we were going to talk about this when?!" Fara asked as she found an access ladder and started to make her way back up to engineering.
"Whatever it is it's spreading faster than we can react to it Doctor Okan is aware of the situation and he's trying to figure out how it's being spread and stop it."
"Why the hell did he have everything locked out?" Fara asked.
"If you saw what happened to the Albion, you would understand." Harry replied.
"Just Keep in touch chief, the situation is getting out of hand we're trying to get on top of it."
On the bridge, Harry and Jakar were at the science station going through the log that Michelle had brought up. Jakar had sealed the bridge when Okan issued the Medical quarantine.
"So did she find anything or not." Jakar asked.
"Yeah." Harry said sweating profusely. "It looks like they found something they dubbed "polywater." in one of the cores. They got a few decent scans on it before, well we all know what happened."
Jakar looked down in concern at Harry. "Captain are you ok, you look unwell."
"I think i'm infected." He said direly. "It's getting hard to concentrate." He hit his combadge. "Doctor I think we found the source of the infection."
"Let me see it." Doctor Okan replied.
"It appears to be a some sort of complex chain of water molecules." Harry said sending the info to sickbay.
In sickbay, Doctor Okan looked the data Harry sent down to him. He looked at the scans of the strange substance and it looked just like what he saw in ensign Gaita,
"Yeah, that is definitely the culprit behind this, our infected are infested with it." Doctor Okan said. "These scans are incomplete but they'll save me some time."
"Do you have any idea on how to stop it Doctor?" Harry asked.
"Not yet." Doctor Okan said. "Trying to fight something made out of water that is in a carbon based life form is not an easy task. I'm not even sure where to start. What baffles me is this polywater, as you call it acts like a hyper accelerated virus, I've never seen anything like it before."
"I am sure you will give it your best effort doctor." Harry replied.
"Captain of I may ask, I know we can't send any away teams to the Albion but is there anyway you can download their medical database for me. Anything their Medical Officer could have discovered would be extremely helpful."
"We'll see what we can do doctor." Harry replied.
Fara arrived in engineering feeling strange as the infection was already starting to wreak havoc on her she heard a commotion in the core room. Not knowing what to expect she quickly went to a weapons locker and quickly got a phaser from it. She turned it to the stun setting then moved to see what was going on, stuffing the phaser into her overcoats pocket.
"Come on, are you all cowards let's throw some fists it'll be fun!' She heard Kai Remmick bellow. She moved into the next compartment to see the Catarian shirtless with strips of cloth wrapped around his fists. He already looked like he had been in a few fights already.
"Kai what are you doing!?" She snapped at him.
"Just having some fun come on, one of you spar with me!" He yelled at his fellow engineers who were trying to stay away from him.
"Kai knock that shit off and get back to your post." Fara said tirsely grasping at the phaser in her pocket and trying to appear as casual as possible.
"Or what? You've got to beat me in a fight if you want me to do that although that wouldn't be much of a fight you being a girl."
"Yeah, your right." She said drawing the phaser and stunning him.
Kai dropped to the floor unconscious. She went over and checked his pulse he was still alive. "Someone get me some zip ties, we'll put him somewhere he can't hurt anyone or himself when he wakes up."
The rest of her team scurried about to do as she asked.
Fara suddenly felt very hot and dizzy and she gritted her teeth.
"Are you ok chief?" One of her techs asked.
"I'm fine, just give me some space." She said zipping down her tunic abit to get some relief from the heat. "Maybe turn down the temp in here, could you do that, it's hot."
"Sure, I'll get right on it."
Doctor Okan was working furiously trying to figure out the nature of the infection. The way it behaved and replicated he determined it was some time of virus although it definitely a new one for the medical journals.
He had requested that a quarantine warning be placed on the Albion as well. Commander Martinez had seen that it was done and now the vessel broadcasted a multiband warning for all to stay away from it.
The Albion's Logs didn't prove to be much help either. An away team was down on the surface when the "polywater" had been discovered he calculated that it must have infected the research team on the planet spread to the away team and them to the Albion's crew. The transporters bio filters were not able to screen it out due to the nature of its make up so there was no way to prevent it. Hell, he'd even missed it with his own scans when he checked everyone out when they got back to the ship.
The Albion's medical officer had tried to find a cure but they didn't get very far because since their efforts stopped a few hours after the Albion had got underway, Okan surmised they had succumbed to the infection as well.
What he had concluded was this polywater xenovirus was highly invasive and had evolved a way to get past the body's major defense being the skin. It was immediately absorbed through the skin and would start to replicate in the body rapidly producing the ethanol that would cause the intoxicating and judgement impairing effects. It appeared it could function outside the body for extended periods of time in extreme cold. It also would spread by exuding from the hosts body's sweat and body oils.
Doctor Okan concluded that the transmission of the virus had to be from physical contact, since it seemed dependent on the host for propagation.
He sat down the padd with his findings so far and rubbed his eyes and then ran his hands through his headfur and spines.
He understood how it worked, now how to kill it.
He walked over to a vile that was filled with a culture of the virus suspended in blood plasma and watched as the culture moved towards his body heat without him moving the vile. There was probably enough in there to infect and entire planet in a matter of hours. It was contained in the vile and thankfully it couldn't permaiate the material it was made out of.
"Okan to Martinez." He said tapping his combadge.
"Yeah buddy, what's up?" Harry said chuckling over the combadge.
"Okay.. I am getting close to an answer the virus spreads through physical contact."
"I figured something like that." Harry chuckled. "So can we get a cure doc or what?"
"Maybe, I need more time." He said hearing Harry act that way was was very disconcerting.
"You got us locked into an orbit around a star till you lift the quarantine" Harry chuckled. "You got all the time you need."
"Is Jakar still there?" Okan asked.
"Yes Doctor I'm here, Commander Rivas and Ensign Monroe are as well they don't seem to be infected."
"Oh good." Okan sighed relieved. Suddenly something dawned on him. "Jakar, didn't you have physical contact with Mr. Land earlier today?"
"And you feel fine?"
"Bring yourself and the Captain down to sickbay immediately please."
The virus had spread to most of the crew rather rapidly. The Quarantine Okan had placed on the ship had prevented anyone from opening emergency hatches, airlocks, shuttle crafts or anything else that could provide escape. The ship was still functional although the halls were a mess from crewmembers vandalizing it and other activities.
Harry and Jakar were heading to Sickbay to try to get some answers. Harry was definitely showing signs of the infection and he seemed very distracted and absent minded.
They were trying to make their way towards sickbay through deck two that was just a mess. Crewmembers were frolicking about in various states of undress and just trashing the place with various acts of vandalism and some acts of juvenile destruction. Someone had even set fire to a couch in the middle of the corridor but the ships fire suppression systems had squelched it. Several light panels were damaged and to Jakar it just looked like they were wandering through the heart of madness.
Harry on the other hand thought the whole spectacle was Hilarious, Jakar didn't share that sentiment.
They entered the sickbay and Doctor Okan sealed the doors behind them. "Mr. Jakar if you would I need to take a blood sample from you."
"So what have you got for us doctor?" Harry asked looking around like he'd never seen sick bay before.
Doctor Okan put on a pair of protective gloves and readied a syringe. "Captain if you don't mind stand over they and keep your hands to yourself please."
"Sure whatever you want I am just along for the ride." Harry slurred backing up.
Doctor Okan lowered the shield, drew some of Jakar's blood. "Wait here." He said reactivating the forcefield and quickly heading to his lab. He put the sample in his micro scanner that had already been calibrated to find the xenovirus. He Slapped the table and whooped in victory, there were traces of the virus in Jakar's system but it was dead and dormant. He was immune to it! He looked deeper and saw that some type an enzyme in Jakar's blood was attacking the virus directly breaking it down and destroying it leaving his white cells to carry off the rest.
He headed back to the foyer where Harry and Jakar still waited.
"Captain I think I've found it." Okan said excitedly from the other side of the containment forcefield. "Would you believe our Security Chief's blood carries a rather remarkable enzyme that breaks down the the virus is generating in our systems remarkably fast? That's why he's not affected by it."
"Great, what do you need." Harry asked.
"At least 200 milliliters oF Mr. Jakar's blood." Doctor Okan said. "It's quite the unusual mutation I'm surprised no one has studied you in further depth Jakar."
"Doctor, please." Jakar grunted.
"Hah better you than me." Harry laughed. "You better do what he says."
Jakar glared but didn't say anything. "Fine i'll do it.
"Head to the shower, strip get cleaned off throw a robe on and I'll bring you in here to get the sample." Okan said. "Please don't dally."
Jakar sighed and nodded. "What about him?" He said to motioning to Harry.
"I guess he can stay here if he can behave himself." Doctor Okan said warily.
"Believe me Doctor." Harry said boastfully. "I've got self control for days before this virus gets me."
"Yeah you are handling it masterfully Captain." Doctor Okan replied flatly.
Suddenly the main power flickered and an alarm sounded. "Warning System Control Failure. Impulse and Warp Drive offline."
"Captain, you might want to get up here." Rivas said over his combadge. "We got a problem."
"Gotta go Doctor duty calls." Harry said exiting the Sickbay
Harry arrived back on the Bridge and looked up at the viewer to see Knackt on the viewer. "Attention crew of the Raptor this is your New Captain, Captain Knackt Algrim! Do not attempt to adjust your viewers because, well you can't do anything about it anyway!" He adjusted the camera and pulled back revealing that he was in the Computer core room of the Raptor and it looked like it had been rapidly dismantled. "I and my lovely assistants now have total control of the ship!"
Harry looked on at the view as a he saw a very scantily clad Terri Lu and Jenna Rydel walk into frame and hang all over him.
"My first act as Captain is to declare open bar all day in the mess hall, synthale is now abolished! My second act is…."
'Can you shut him up please?" Harry asked Rivas.
"Gladly." Don Rivas said muting the viewer.
"Sir, they have disabled all Engine control." Munro reported. "Impulse and Warp Drive are offline. If we don't regain engine control our orbit around the red giant will deteriorate "
Harry laughed. "Oh good this just gets more fun doesn't it."
"Fun wouldn't be the word I would use, respectfully sir." Munro replied from the con. "We've got about two hours before we burn up from orbital decay.."
"Captain has Doctor Okan discovered anything yet?" Rivas asked.
"Oh yeah, he's working on it right now." Harry said walking over to the command chair and hitting a com button. "Fara baby I got a problem, your rat just broke my engines, talk to me." He said glancing up at the screen as Knackt continued to pontificate while muted while Terri and Jenna seemed to be frollicking around in the bakground removing isolinear data chips from the computer and tossing them about the room.
"Yeah I know, he's holed up in there pretty good." Fara said. "He put a level 10 forcefield around the room we can't get to it. How are you doing?"
"Oh, i've been worse, feeling pretty good though, can you do anything about our little problem? Hnmm?" Harry cooed at her. "My helmsman says we got two hours before we burn up, can you be a dear and fix this?"
"I'll try, I don't know how bad they messed things up." Fara said sounding like she was panting a bit. "I'll see what i can do ok?"
"Sure thing." Harry replied.
Fara got off the com channel, she was dying from the heat. She had the environmental controls bottomed out at 18 celsius and everyone was complaining but she couldn't get cold. She'd already gone into a side room and removed the undergarments and kept the uniform on although the top was zipped down quite the ways.
She walked over to the Warp core that sat dark and depowered.
"I need ideas people, engines are down, we've got two hours before we're toast!" She said to what little remained over her engineering crew.
"Come on Jenna, Let's get this panel open, maybe we can mess with the life support and get it cooler in here." Terri said as she tried to pull open one of the compartments.
Jenna scurried over and helped her force it open but as they did a forcefield popped into place. "Access Restricted this ship is under quarantine." The computer warned. "You are not permitted to tamper with environmental control functions at this time."
This wasn't the first time this had happened, the ship was protecting parts of itself from their tampering. They hadn't yet figured out a way around it.
"Knackt!" Terri shouted. "The computer is being difficult again."
Knackt stopped pontificating for a second and walked over and grabbed a sledge and handed it to her. "Well remind it to stop being rude!"
"Oh what fun!" Jenna said. "Let me have it!"
"Ok!" Terri giggled stepping back and having handing her the sledge.
Jenna took a few spins and struck one of the open compartments and sent sparks flying! All three of them laughed as Jenna went around striking other vital components of the ships systems. They started taking turns swinging the sledge and giggling as they did soe making even more a of a mess. Lights went out around the ship, turbolifts stopped functioning, replicators went offline, another wild swing took at the transporters targeting controls.
Terri and Jenna just giggled and laughed at the destruction they caused.
"NO WAIT NOT THAT ONE!" Knackt shouted as Terri took the hammer and suddenly smashed the device Knackt was using to announce his captaincy.
"I guess we can be grateful for small favors." Rivas grunted as the screen went back to starfield on the bridge.
"I'm going down there." Harry said.
"To what join the fun?" Rivas quipped.
"No to try to stop them." Harry said heading for the exit.
"Ok, if you insist." Rivas said lowering the forcefield and opening the doors. Harry passed through and hit his combadge.
"Fara can you meet me by the core room."
"Yeah i'll be there in a moment." Fara replied. "What's your plan?"
He stopped by his quarters and grabbed a phaser and slipped it into its holster. "I'm going to get them out of that room one way or another, any ideas."
"We could pop the main relay that would do it." Fara responded. "It's probably going to kill all power to deck two save the backups in sickbay and engineering."
"Fine whatever this situation can't get any worse babe." Harry chuckled.
They met in the hall outside of the computer room, Harry noticed she was only wearing her uniform with nothing underneath and the top unzipped revealing an uncharacteristic amount of cleavage. She had already got the floor plating up when he arrived.
"You are looking good." He said as he approached.
"Well it seems to be in style around here at the moment." She panted climbing down into the deckwork. "This shouldn't take long to disengage the shunt. I think after this we should go get a couple of drinks you know?"
"Yeah that'd be a good top off to this day." Harry said keeping a wary eye on the corridors as he heard a loud crash and raucous laughter down the hall.
Fara worked for a few seconds and suddenly the lights went out in the corridor save for the dim emergency lighting. He reached down and helped her out and the stumbled back against the wall as she pressed against him. "Thanks, Skipper." She cooed at him flicking her tail back and forth and nipping at his neck.
"Fara.. not now." He said trying to focus and pushing her back gently.
"We got three crewmates wrecking our ship, we need to do something about that and we're going to burn up if we don't stop them."
"Oh yeah." Fara said scowling. "I forgot." She drew her phaser she had acquired earlier. "Well take care of them first but you owe me."
Fara grabbed some torches from her tool kit, and a door release device and they headed to the computer room door. Harry took the device and stuck it to the door on the connection points and released the latch. The doors parted and they heard Terri Jenna and Knackt arguing in the room too distracted in their own lunacy to notice.
Harry stunned Terri and Jenna before they could react and Fara got Knackt before he could escape out the back of the room.
"That was easy." Fara said.
"Fixing this won't be." Harry said swinging his light around the room and frowning at all the damage to the core and the multitude of isolinear chips scattered around.
"We'll see." Fara said. "I'm going to get the lights back on, think you can handle getting them tied up so they don't cause any more problems?"
Fara got the power restored to deck two and harry had managed to find something to restrain Terri, Jenna and Knackt so they couldn't hurt themselves. Fara came back to the computer room.
"Try to get them to tell you what exactly they did and get those engines back ok?" Harry said.
"I'll try." Fara replied. "It's going to be a bit hard to do by myself. You could keep me company."
"I don't think that would be the best of ideas." Harry blurted. "I'll be on the bridge keep me apprised."
Fara sighed. "Ok, if you insist."
We are running out of time.
Things are not looking good.
In less than thirty minutes we will begin to plunge into the star and burn up.
Crew, is a mess, very few aren't infected.
I guess we'll see how it works out.
Harry sat in the captain's chair on the bridge rubbing his forehead. It was getting almost impossible to focus on how dire the situation was. The ship was in chaos, the damn infection had run rampant and everyone was infected save for Dr. Okan Jakar, Rivas, Munro and the few that were left on Fara's engineering team.
A knock came at the aft doors.
"Commander, Fara is here, she says she needs to speak to you." Rivas reported.
"Let her in."
"I'm not doing that sir." Rivas growled. "She's showing signs of infection and we're taking a huge risk just letting you stay in here. If you want to talk to her you go out and meet her."
"Ok ok , fine whatever." Harry said getting out of the command chair. "Let me pass through the forcefield.
Rivas opened the doors and allowed Harry through and then quickly shut them behind them
"Commander we need to talk, in private… please. Now." She said towards his ready room He followed her out into the hall into his ready room. As he passed through the door she grabbed him and shoved him against the wall kissing him. Harry was almost overcome by the effects of the virus to just let it happen and he pushed her back.
"Fara.. please… what's the problem." He said panting trying to keep the rush of hormones and urges spinning through his mind as he stared at her chest.
"Do.. you have an update?"
"Mm hmm." Fara said. "Knackt really scrambled the engine control circuits… I was able to get it back together…." She leaned forward and breathed in his scent. "However it's going to take two hours to get the engines warmed up.."
"Fara without engines, our orbit is going to decay and we are going to burn up." Harry said still staring down her tunic and desperately trying to concentrate.
"Sorry Skipper, I can't change the laws of physics." she cooed. "It won't take me as long to get warmed up."
"Fara…." Harry huffed. "We don't have time for this I need this ship running asap."
"Sorry I can't do it, let's make the best of the time we have."
"I need those engines back online as fast as possible."
"Or what?" Fara said with disinterest toying with him running her fingers over his chest. "You're going to punish me, put me in the brig again?"
"I might do that!"
"You know I love it when you are a hard ass Harry." She said throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him deeply. Harry lost control and soon he was on top her on the desk kissing her down her neck and unzipping her tunic as she worked at his own uniform.. A com signal lit up a switch on his desk and he slapped it to ignore it. Whatever it was it could wait. His combadge chirped and he took it off and tossed it aside as well. This isn't right… a very weak thought passed through he mind that was enough to jar him back to his senses and he stopped. "What's wrong?" Fara said in a daze her tunic barely covering anything at this point. "Don't you want me?"
"It's… not … that…" Harry struggled. "It's this damn virus…. You are beautiful, smart and I want to but it's not … right."
"Who cares if it's right or wrong?" Fara said crawling over to him wrapping her arms around him and nuzzling the side of his face.
"We… don't have time… The ship is in danger, i need you in engineering, please get the engines back up and running."
"Oh.. There is a way but it could cause us to explode." Fara said. "it's very dangerous if there's going to be any exploding I'd rather do it here first." She said trying to unzip his tunic.
"You mean a cold start intermix chamber reaction?"
"Oh yeah keep talking tech to me like that." Fara flirted.
"I used to be an engineer, I know a thing or two about starships." He said leaning in closer to her then he growled and tried to fight the damn virus as best he could he spun around and grasped her hands. "Fara…. find a way please. Come on get off the desk." He said grasping her hands and helping her off.
Fara obligied and he zipped her tunic back up. "Not all the way it's too hot lately." she said pouting.
"Fine…" Harry said leaving it how she had it. "Do what you can and get warp drive back as fast as possible." He said leading her to the door.
Fara stopped and leaned seductively against the door frame. "What if I don't will you spank me for being a bad girl?" she said smiling wickedly and pulling him close again. Harry was really struggling hard she was so close their noses were touching again and brief moment of passion they shared was becoming harder to resist returning too.
"I might…. later." He said returning the grin.
"Is that a promise?" Fara said breathlessly.
"Definitely." He said moving to kiss her again.
"CAPTAIN." Jakar snapped.
They both jumped startled.
"Yes chief?" Harry said annoyed turning to the older Echidna who'd just come down the corridor.
"We've been trying to page you the last few minutes," Jakar said. "You can finish whatever you two are doing later, Ms. Phoenix return to engineering."
"Ugh you are such a killjoy." Fara sighed patting Harry on the side of the face. "Later Harry."
She sauntered off down the highway swaying her hips and tail and Harry stared as she left.
"Captain, focus please." Jakar said annoyed..
"Yes… of course… what?" Harry said watching Fara disappear around the corner.
"Dr. Okan has been trying to reach you for the last few minutes."
"Well what is so damn important? That i needed to be interrupted." Harry said now clearly annoyed.
"Just come with me."
"Captain I think I've found it." Okan said excitedly from the other side of the containment forcefield. "I have already synthesised a test batch of the enzyme with a few minor tweaks to make it a fast acting antidote."
"Who's going to be the guinea pig." Harry asked.
"Nurse Twila, she's behind contained in a forcefield behind that privacy screen." Okan said without looking prepping the concoction.
"Why on earth did you do that?"
"Because she's insisted on disrobing and dancing for me the last few hours." Okan blushed. "I'm trying to preserve some of her dignity."
"Oh don't act like you haven't enjoyed it sugar." Twila said behind the screen. "Hi captain do you want to see me dance?" She giggled waving her hand at them from behind the screen.
Harry about answered but Jakar elbowed him. "Not at the moment."
Okan grabbed some forcefield isolation gloves and attached the rings to the forcefield and passed the hypospray through it.
"Sondra, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to give this too you."
"What is it?" The vixen asked.
"It'll help you dance longer." Okan said kindly lying.
"Ok sure." She said walking to the forcefield and allowing him to inject her.
Okan stepped back and waited.
Twila suddenly staggered. "I… don't feel so good." she said staggering slightly and back against the forcefield. "Doctor.. what's happen…. " she suddenly shrieked noticing she was naked.
Okan sighed relieved, that was more normal. He'd already had her uniform ready on the table "Computer drop the containment field around Ms. Twila. Easy, calm down no one did anything to you. Do you remember?" Okan asked handing her uniform to her. Twila looked mollified but silently shook her head in acknowledgement. "You were under the intoxicating influences of a xenovirus. Please get dressed I could really use your help."
Twila nodded blushing and quickly got dressed as okan turned his back. "Drink this, your body needs to purge the ethanol that's built up in your system." he said tossing her a bottle of water as she emerged from behind the privacy screen adjusting her uniform.
"Is she cured?" Jakar asked.
Okan scanned her and nodded. "She's not contagious anymore."
"How do you feel?" Harry asked.
Twila blushed. "Very embarrassed, i'm sorry captain i'm not…"
"It's fine don't worry about it." Harry said cutting her off.
Twila nodded and started to drink the water.
"Now what do we do?"
"I need to get more samples from Mr. Jakar but beyond that i just need some time to synthesise enough of the cure to treat the whole crew."
"You took enough blood last time I need some for myself." Jakar growled.
"Oh you got plenty left to go before you are in any real danger." Okan said. "Stop being a fusspot now get to decontamination pronto."
"Do you have more of that stuff?" Harry asked. "Not yet, we'd be better off trying to treat as many of the crew as possible with an aerosol pumped through the ventilation system. I just need more time."
The ship suddenly shuddered violently. "Rivas to Martinez, were starting to lose our orbit you might want to have a talk with engineering."
"Commander I won't have the mixture done in any short amount of time even with Twila's help." Doctor Okan said sternly.
"I'll try, you all act like I'm some sort of damn superhero who can fix every little problem you have." Harry slurred.
"You are the captain of a starship." Okan said sternly back to him. "That's what we all expect of you, sir."
That little jibe was very sobering. "Damn it all..." he growled leaving the sickbay. "Fine if you need time, I need part of that quarantine lifted so we can break orbit."
"I'll release restrictions to Commander Rivas." Okan said. "You do what you need to do."
The ship shuddered again and an alarm sounded. "Warning Hull integrity at 45% and failing. Hull plating temperature rising." the computer announced.
"I know I know you are dying I got it!" Harry yelled back at the computer. As he bounced along the corridor to engineering. He hit his combadge. "Fara let me in now"
The doors parted and he slipped inside. "Where are my damn engines!?" He shouted over the klaxons and the rattling of the ships superstructure
"I told you we can't just fire them up cold!" Fara came running up to him catching herself on the master systems display as the deck pitched violently and something blew out overhead raining sparks down on them.
"It can be done" Harry said bringing up the warp core controls and typing in his command overrides. "I figured out a way to do it a long time ago when I was on the Phoenix."
"I never heard anyone pulling this off how did you do it?" Fara yelled over the commotion.
"Well in a holodeck of course."
"A simulation are you fucking serious?!" Fara shouted. "You are out of your mind you could blow us clear to hell!"
"Set the reaction for 3 to one ratio antimatter rich and narrow the confinement beam as much as possible."
Harry looked up with an almost madman smile slapping his combadge. "Martinez to Ensign Munro adjust our pitch using thrusters to get us prepared for a cold intermix restart."
"Captain are you sure?!" Rivas said worried over the com.
"Never been more sure in my life and already had this discussion with Fara, I don't like repeating myself Mr. Rivas! Pick a course and ready on my mark."
"If you are wrong…" Fara said quickly calculating the matter antimatter ratio into the the computer.
"Than it won't matter will it?!" Harry laughed loudly. "Bridge, are you ready?" he said tapping his combadge.
"Course plotted and laid in ready for your Mark." Ensign Munro replied.
Harry entered the final code sequence and hovered his finger over the execute button. "Mark!"
The engines screamed and the every warning alarm and klaxxon went off as the ship was hurtled violently into warp space. Fara and Harry hung on for dear life as the ship pitched and rolled violently. Consoles shorted and and exploded all over the ship and many were thrown about and injured due to the urgentness of the jump to warp.
Fara lost her grip on the console and Harry dove to catch her as something shorted out above the master control console raining chunks of debris down on then he used himself to shield her from the wreckage falling down around them. After a few moments the engines went silent again and the core went dark and they dropped out of warp.
"I hate it when your right!" Fara laughed throwing. Her arms around. Him and kissing him deeply. "I suppose you are just going to be more insufferable now." She muttered playing with the zipper on his tunic.
"Oh yeah way more than ever." Harry smirked.
There was a very intense silence between the two of them.
"I can't fight it anymore…" she murred nipping at his neck
Harry didn't say anything as he returned her kisses and tore at her uniform he couldn't either.
Chief Medical officers log:
With the efforts of commander Martinez the Raptor escaped its fiery death falling into the red giant, and I had enough time to fully develop the antidote. With Nurse Twila's help and Jakar we were able to spread the antidote throughout the the ship in aerosol form ensuring everyone was inoculated.
I've been busy the last few days seeing to numerous injuries the crew sustained from the sudden warp jump. Lots of bumps, bruises, sprains, fractures, burns, broken bones. The only fatality was Ensign Gaita. I have informed the Captain that he had for some unknown reason removed his glove down on the research station and he was the source of the xenovirus making it to the Raptor. My report will note this to starfleet medical and the captain. Has agreed to keep the subject confidential out of respect for the dead.
The one thing I can't treat is the memories of what occurred. Everyone who was infected remembers what happened and what they did while under the effects of the xenovirus. However with the ship in such a bad way as I've come to find out we've got too much work to do to deal with that at the moment.
The command staff sat at there places in the conference room as Fara read off the damages to the ship.
"...the dilithium crystals are almost used up and the core is Damn near shot, we can get home but we are not getting there fast. Warp two tops cruising speed." She sighed tossing her data padd on the table.
"Do we know where we are at?" Harry asked.
"We are in the far side of Bem space." Michele O'Mara reported. "It's an uninhabited region but we should be safe. When we engaged the engines we hit speeds beyond what we should have obtained we were almost at warp 10 on a warp 8 engine, it's a wonder we didn't fly apart."
"I suppose it could be worse." Harry said with a reassuring smile. "How close are we to a service yard?"
"Two weeks skip." Land said drolly. "At Fara's suggested speed of course."
"I suppose we should notify fleet headquarters of our situation?" Rivas said to Harry.
"We should but our subspace transmitter system is still down." Harry said glancing over to Terri-Lu, who looked like she was trying to shrink and hide in her chair. "Any update on the repairs?"
"Three hours tops, Jenna is working on it right now." She nervously blurted. "Sir."
Everyone looked at her weirdly Rivas, Harry and Fara immediately put on their best poker faces.
Jakar merely grunted to himself and took a drink from the huge bottle of electrolyte drink Doctor Okan had made for him to quickly rehydrate from all the blood draws to make the antidote.
"Doctor, are we free of the virus?" Harry asked.
"Yes, I have had the entire crew checked out no one is showing any further signs of infection."
"Thank you doctor." Harry said taking a deep breath as he stood up and started to pace around the table. "Look, I am well aware that all of you were infected as I was, and perhaps did somethings that we may regret." He said continued his slow march around the around the table. "I am not going to put any of it on report, and I don't care what happened we survived and overcame it that's what's important. If it wasn't for Mr. Jakar having an immunity to the virus and Doctor Okan's quick thinking we might not be having this discussion right now." Everyone was silent as he made his way around and stopped again at his own chair. "I suggest, all of you do your best to not hold anything against each other about what happened. Is that understood?" He said this looking Fara dead in the eyes and she looked right back.. "I know that's easier said than done, but it's the best thing to do. I will make an address to the crew shortly to address this matter. Is there anything else?"
Nobody had anything else to add.
"Then you are all dismissed." Harry said.
Everyone left except Fara who waited for everyone else to leave.
"Is there something you need chief?"
"Nah, I just want you to know we are ok." Fara said.
"Yeah." She smiled. "If it was going to happen I'd rather it had been you, could have done a lot worse."
"Thank you." Harry said blushing a little he had been feeling a bit guilty about what had happened, her telling him that helped.
Fara nodded and gently slugged him in the shoulder. "I'll go get those engines ready to get under way. We got a long trip home."
"For some more, than others."
Fara chuckled and left the conference room leaving Harry to his thoughts.