In the vastless black a slow ripple was formed and then a strange trimaran like vessel emerged from a ripple that burst outward from it.
The pilot was a female of her species, with smooth grey skin and small dark but intelligent eyes, they appeared. Her hands had three fingers and large ears. She manipulated the controls in her pod and sighed with relief that the mission had been a success.
"This is Kistor's Hope, calling base. Warp flight successful." She said into her mic. She knew it would take a few moments for them to receive the message, let alone reply.
"Good to hear Kistor's hope." Control responded. "I bet it was one wild ride."
"It was, so far I don't seem to be suffering any adverse effects, beginning deployment of the communication array now." She said flipping a few switches and deploying the array from the ships cargo section.
So far, everything was going well. They had anticipated everything in the complexities of faster than light flight travel in order to get her beyond the bounds of her solar system with hope of returning home. The most important part was to come. She waited as she felt the ships mechanical mechanisms extract the array from it's hold. Finally the device passed the cockpit and unfurled.
"Ok." She thought, taking a deep breath. "Here goes nothing."
"Visitors to our world, we know you are out here, we have spotted your vessels for years observing us. We assume you mean no harm, if you did you would have brought it long ago. Our world of Kistor is in dire need of help, something has gone wrong with our moon, massive tidal shifts, millions have died. We need your help. If you can come to our aide, and you are peaceful, please help us." she stopped the recording and then broadcasted it.
She leaned back in the seat and set the signal to broadcast for the next 10 hours. If no one responded she was to return home.
It was a shot in the dark, but if they were out here, they should hear their call.
The Raptor slowly crawled towards home. A few days had passed since they had found themselves stuck practically on the other side of the quadrant.
At first, it seemed hopeful but the engine deterioration was continuing to get worse, they had to drop from warp five to warp three, thus delaying their return even further, pushing their return time from two weeks to three and a half weeks.
Everyone was also still dealing with the fallout from the outbreak of the Polywater virus that had caused some rather erratic behavior from the crew. Since they were so far out from federation space and not on alert status Harry had allowed a little laxness on the vessel just to let the crew get back into the swing of things.
This did help matters when the replicator system completely failed due to someone coating its central relay with a multitude of jellies and no one caught it until it shorted out cutting power on deck 2 save for engineering. With not much else to do the signs of the internal damage to the ship were slowly fading away as panels were replaced and just general cleaning was carried on.
Harry Martinez walked the decks just seeing the general progress that was being carried out. He promised that no questions would be asked and no charges were pressed if his ship was put back how it was before the incident and it was nice to see the crew was taking care of the problem.
"Captain." He heard Fara call out to him and he turned to acknowledge her as she jogged up to him.
"Morning, Chief. I suppose you have something to tell me?"
"Well of course if it wasn't for this bucket constantly falling apart I wouldn't have anything to talk to you about." Fara chuckled. "First of all how's your morning so far?"
"As well as to be expected," Harry replied. "Hopefully you have something good to tell me."
"Maybe, I think might be able to eek out a few more points of warp factor to help us get home a little quicker. I figured you might want to know."
"Well chief that is surprisingly good news for once." Harry replied with a smile. "Getting home a few hours sooner is better than nothing."
"I do try." Fara said smiling. She glanced around the corridor. "Other than that how are you?"
"What you mean about.." He said pointing to himself and her
Harry blushed a little. "I can't say it is easy to forget."
"No kidding," Fara said blushing as well.
Suddenly a crewman came around the corner.
"Very well Chief if you think you can get those few more points of warp factor out of those engines then do so." He said trying to sound official as possible and giving her an apologetic look.
"Sure thing, Commander I'll get right on it." Fara said nodding and heading back to engineering.
Harry looked on after her as she disappeared down the corridor and then turned and headed for the bridge.
Tite: Kill the Moon
FOTR SPECIAL 10
After a quick stop by the replicator for a cup of coffee, Harry arrived on the bridge and headed for the Captain's chair that Lt. Commander Rivas vacated. "Anything of note I need to know about Mr. Rivas."
"Not really, it's been pretty smooth sailing sir not even a blip on the long-range sensors."
"Well, I suppose that's to be expected," Harry said taking a sip. "Shouldn't be too trying of a day."
"From past experience, that means we aren't completely out of the woods," Rivas grunted.
Harry raised his cup in agreement at his first officer. "Can't really debate that." He chuckled.
Harry suddenly felt disoriented and he cleared his head and noticed he was sitting in the pilot's seat of a space shuttle. How did he get here? He didn't even remember getting in the shuttle. He quickly called up the coordinates on the flight controls and stopped when he noticed the nameplate on the console. Angel Island.
"Angel Island?" Harry muttered to himself. "Angel Island…." why did that seem so familiar?
Suddenly a proximity alarm went off he quickly brought the ship about and in the forward viewer in front of him was the Raptor slowly being pulled down into a swirling vortex of a spatial anomaly.
It suddenly came back to him, he was looking at something from the past. Was he dreaming? Was this some sort of hallucination, everything seemed real enough he tried to hail the Raptor but the console refused to respond. He tried to override and signal the ship as panic welled up in him. He swore they had overcome this, hadn't they?
Suddenly two clawed paws rested upon his shoulders and he found that he couldn't move.
There was a mirthful laugh bordering on the edge of menace as someone spoke into his ear. "Right now you are feeling helpless aren't you Commander?"
Harry tried to speak but he couldn't.
"You normally don't feel fear do you? Anxiety yes, worry yes, but not fear of the unknown fear of the inevitable."
Harry's heart sunk as he watched the Raptor disappear into the maw of the vortex out of site.
"It must be quite unsettling." The voice said. "In fact I can hear the little animal brain in that skull of yours screaming in absolute horror. I wonder if I let you go if I wouldn't hear it come bubbling out of you in one great gushing audible howl."
Harry wondered who this entity was and how they were probing his mind why he couldn't move.
"Oh in good time Commander, I will make myself known to you soon enough." the entity said patting his shoulders in an affectionate matter. "See you in a flash."
Harry felt control of himself returning and he quickly leaped out of his chair and…
...Promptly knocked the duty roster out of Terri-Lu's hand, sending it bouncing off the science console startling Lt. O'mara.
"Captain what are you doing?!" Terri said a bit shocked.
Harry blinked and quickly looked around getting his bearings feeling the eyes of his shipmates all on him. He quickly walked over and picked up the padd containing the duty roster. "Sorry Lt. Lu, you startled me."
"I'll say," Terri said, still a bit in shock. "I just asked if you could sign off on the roster so I could file it."
"Yes, yes of course," Harry said quickly, looking it over and signing off on it with the stylus and handing it back. "Mr. Rivas, can you take the con I'm going to head down to sickbay."
"I think you'd better," Don said, getting up from his station. "You seem like you are pretty shaken."
Harry nodded and noticed he was sweating a bit. "I know this sounds off. I've been here the whole time haven't I."
"Sure have, you finished your coffee, did the normal reports and then assaulted our Communications officer," Don said flatly.
"I'm sorry I thought…. It doesn't matter, I'm going to get checked out." Harry said warily. "If all goes fine I'll be back."
Later, Down in Sickbay.
Dr. Okan scanned Harry with his tricorder as he relayed his experience to him. Harry had his top tunic off as Dr. Okan checked all his vitals.
"Do you always have to keep it so warm in here?" Harry asked. "It's like a sauna."
"When I'm not expecting guests, yes." Doctor Okan replied. "I'm from the coastal regions of Nerra province, we like it warm."
"Have you found anything about what caused me to have that little episode?" Harry asked.
"Well based on your brain chemical analysis you obviously experienced something but it could have just been a waking dream. Have you been sleeping well at night?"
"Of course I have, I've never had issues with sleeping," Harry said "I don't daydream when I am working, I'm the captain of this vessel I have to keep an eye on everything."
"You aren't imbibing in any substances I need to know about while on duty are you?" Okan asked.
"Of course not, I think that Tricorder would have told you that!" Harry protested.
"There are some things that cant be within a twenty-four hour period that can still cause hallucinations, but I've seen your medical history aside from mild aspirins you don't really use anything else. I still have to ask."
"Well you are wasting your time Doctor, the only recreational thing I have is a nice beer or wine on occasion," Harry said getting up sounding very annoyed. "The only thing I drink too much of is soda."
Dr. Okan scratched his head in thought. "Are you working yourself too hard?"
"How?!" Harry groused "Who is right now? You were organizing what looked like blood cultures when I came in here."
"It's actually mold cultures for antibiotics." Okan said flatly. "I am studying Rakaelian Molds to see if I can manufacture an antibiotic that can perform as well as a manufactured one."
Harry slipped on his tunic and looked over at the various little trays full of red spores. "I am not one to talk but you need to get out more Doctor."
"I tried.. It didn't work out too well." Okan sighed suddenly recording his findings. "If you experience any more episodes you know where to find me."
Harry sighed heavily, maybe he was losing it. Wouldn't that look great on his record. Barely had a command for a few months and already going space crazy.
Harry arrived back on the bridge more frustrated than anything.
"So do you check out?" Rivas asked.
"Apparently so, I wouldn't be back here if I hadn't. Doc doesn't think there is anything wrong with me." Harry grumbled. "Let's just focus on getting home, I'll try not to abscond anyone else."
Suddenly Jakar's station made an alert sound. "Captain…. I have some sort of object approaching at high warp on a direct intercept course."
"On screen," Harry ordered.
The screen switched to show a strange massive multi-colored energy orb rushing toward them.
"Any readings on that object?" Harry asked Michelle O'mara.
"I'm detecting a massive amount of energy sir it doesn't appear to be any type of ship," Michelle responded.
"Ms. Lu try hailing it." Harry ordered.
"Hailing frequencies open transmitting universal greetings on all bands," Terri reported after a few beats. "No response to our hails yet."
"The object is increasing its speed and it will intercept in a few seconds."
"Yellow alert, Mr. Land adjust our course to avoid a collision."
"Not a problem." Jack made a few adjustments to their navigation. "New course laid in.'
"No good Captain, it has matched to intercept," Jakar reported.
"Bring us to all stop," Harry ordered. "If whatever it is is trying to make first contact it's sure got a strange way of doing it."
The Raptor dropped out of warp at the same time and spread out in front of the ship in the form of a massive energy net blocking their way.
"Any attempts at communication?" Harry asked.
"None as of yet Captain." Terri reported.
"Analysis, Ms. O'mara." Harry ordered.
The beleaguered avian worked her controls with a look of frustration on her face. "Whatever that is it appears solid, I c c can't determine the composition."
"Ok, Mr. Land, let's try to go around and see what it does." Harry said, pondering.
"No argument their sir, engaging warp drive now."
The Raptor banked to the side and moved parallel to the net before blasting back off into warp space. However the energy net quickly collapsed back into it's orb shape and chased after it.
"Captain it's still in pursuit." Jakar reported.
"Ok, Mr. Land increase out speed to warp 8."
"Skip you know Engineering will be…"
"I'm aware, I'm the one who caused the stress to the core. Do it. If it can't keep up then we won't have to stay in it long."
Land shook his head. "You got it." He increased the Raptor's speed.
The ship shuddered slightly as they accelerated. "We are at Warp 8."
"The object is closing on us again sir." Jakar said again sounding a bit frustrated. "It will intercept in a three seconds."
"Suggestions?" Harry said out of ideas but no one had anything to suggest.
The orb caught back up to the Raptor and unfurled into it's net form this time enveloping the Raptor knocking it out of warp space.
"We're trapped." Jakar reported.
Harry was now feeling a bit frustrated, no contact but now it had his shipped ensnared. "Not for long, engage attack mode and make a hole."
"Gladly sir." Jakar replied by activating the ship's attack mode.
The Raptor's ablative armor plates materialized and covered it's hull and it's weapons turrets became visible. It soon unleashed a barrage of cutting beams, phaser and torpedoes at the barrier but even under the horrendous barrage the barrier still remained.
"All direct hits, no damage detected," Rivas reported.
Harry was taken aback, usually, a barrage like that had torn through just about anything.
Suddenly a bright blinding flash filled the bridge once everyone cleared vision they saw a rather large Coyote standing on his back legs dressed in a rather bright and garish frilly shirt waistcoat and broad brimmed had with an obnoxiously large feather.
"Abandon all hope ye mortals! There be dragons here!" He shouted, puffing out his chest.
Everyone just stared at this figure in disbelief.
"Ah you can barely comprehend what you see before you then, if you know what's best for you should probably scurry home before you encounter wonders your little minds couldn't possibly begin to comprehend."
"Who and what are you, identify yourself," Harry asked.
The Coyote walked up to him and looked him in his eyes. "Mmm you don't recognize me? A shame I follow your people out into the stars and provide a little nudge here and there and you don't even know who I am? That's gratitude for you I suppose."
Suddenly the doors to the bridge opened as the security team started to enter but the Coyote simply glanced at the doors and a smaller version of the net sprung up before them keeping them back.
"That wasn't very nice Jakar, If I want to play with your friends, I would have invited them up here." the Coyote said snapping his fingers forcing the doors to shut. "What I am is not really of your concern, as to whom. I am Coyote, or it's at least one of my many names but some of you would know me as that name."
Jack Land had already extracted his phaser from the hidden compartment in his console and set it to stun. He quickly got up and aimed it.
"Captain you really need to tell your people to chill out." Coyote said glancing at Land before he could fire. Suddenly Jack was encased in ice and frost and he fell to the deck with a sickening thud. Terri screamed and ran over to him.
"Tsk tsk? Stunning me seriously?" Coyote laughed. "That little toy wouldn't have done anything to me."
"That's enough!" Harry snapped. "What do you want from us?"
"Like i said, chill out and we'll talk." Coyote said. "Call off your little dogs, calm down and be good little children and listen and we'll talk."
"Can I at least get him to sickbay!" Harry asked, gesturing to Land.
"Don't try any tricks and you may. I know what you are doing before you do." Coyote replied with a grin.
"Call off the security teams Jakar, have them stand down." he tapped his combadge. "Doctor Okan to you Bridge, we have a man down, get up here immediately."
"See, I can be perfectly amicable when everyone wants to act like an adult." Coyote sneered, shrugging then nodding at Land on the ground. "He will be fine as long as you Doctor gets here quickly."
Doctor Okan arrived with nurse Twila in tow and quickly scanned Land's still form. Terri stood up and got out of the way and allowed them to do their work. "He's alive, just barely I need to get him to sickbay. Computer three for emergency transport to sickbay."
"ACKNOWLEDGED." The computer responded and the three of them disappeared in a swirl of transporter energy.
"Now that's done, let's have a little chat." Coyote said snapping his fingers and everyone suddenly disappeared in a flash.
When the blinding glare cleared Harry looked about and saw that they were in a box in a large dark and columned room. Jakar, Terri, Rivas and O'mara were also there as well trying to figure out where they were.
Above them, on a raised platform several cloaked figures started to file in and fill seats that were above them. Several armed guards in body armor stepped out with rather nasty looking firearms.
"Captain, where are we?" Michelle asked.
"It looks something I saw in a museum, it was a court although they hardly dispensed what you'd call justice back on Termia." Harry asked.
"How long ago was this?" Rivas asked.
"Several hundred years ago, before there was a confederation. There was a Cataclysm that pretty much threw the majority of the planet into chaos and lawlessness."
"Well it can't be much worse than Corneria has been." Rivas said.
"You would be surprised," Harry said dourly. "Nobody make any sudden moves if this is what I think it is. We are in grave danger."
"The accused will stand and be silent!" One of the guards ordered.
Harry nodded at the others and they did so.
"The Honorable Judge Coyote will now preside over you case."
The figure walked in dressed all in black but they all recognised him as coyote although draped in a bright read rope and an archaic judges cowl.
"You are all accused of being barbarous races who for the name of exploration have pushed yourselves out into the universe to spread your chaos throughout the galaxy. How do you plead."
"What is the meaning of this charade Coyote!" Harry demanded rather annoyedly.
The guards suddenly fired a burst of rounds over their heads causing them all to dive for cover. "THE ACCUSED WILL BE SILENT!"
Coyote just laughed in amusement. "Mind your manners Captain you will address me in the matter proper to one such as my status."
Harry got back up looking over at the others making sure they weren't hurt. O'mara had molted really badly and was whispering and shaking in terror.
Harry slowly stood back up and said nothing but his disdain was quite evident.
"Now then if we are done with the bravado. Please allow me to continue." Coyote grinned. "Even though you mongrels all have this pretence of being peaceful, you are all from species that predicate on war. You Rivas, your whole planet has a long and bountiful history of war that lasted from the dawn of time to the last decade. Corneria's whole history is a glorious tapestry painted in the blood of people. Inherently violent till your people moved past it fighting amongst the forests of your world for mates, territory and whatever reason. You… Echidna's, oh my do not even get me started on your atrocities, of the three species present your list of infractions go back even further. You care to fill your little friends in on your barbarism. I am sure even they would be surprised. Oh do respond I'd love to hear this."
"I am well aware of the history of my people, but that is what it is, history. We have long since moved past such things." Harry
Coyote grinned, a rather manic, deranged and unsettling grin.
"Is that so?" he then started to laugh gleefully. "Oh my Captain, do go on you spin such wonderful lies."
Harry scowled but didn't say anything. "What is it you want from us?"
"Ah, now you are asking the right questions." Coyote smirked, interlacing his fingers resting his chin on his hands. "I want you to prove to me that my observations are not correct, I want you to show me you live up to these ideals your confederation holds so dear. You see, I have watched over your species since you climbed out of the slurry of what was left of your progenitor race eons ago." he then whistled. "Little did i expect you little masters would even surpass their limitations of cruelty. So what I want is, I want you to prove me wrong. I want you to show me that you are capable of better." He chuckled. "Because so far, I haven't seen much other than a few glimmers here and there."
"How do you intend to do this?" Harry said. "Because apparently whatever we are doing hasn't satisfied your curiosity yet."
"In the words of your mentor." Coyote said standing up and leaning forward grinning maniacally. "I want to play a game. The rules are simple, prove to me that you creatures are capable of acting beyond your base natures and can uphold your precious ideals you all aspire to. Do this, and I will let you go on as you have, fail me, and with a snap of my fingers, it all ends, for all of you. Right back to the most primitive times of your civilisations where hopefully you'll do better next time."
"How do we know this isn't just some threat." Harry said. "All this could be trickery, an illusion, your powers you demonstrate could be nothing more than parlor tricks."
Coyote grinned. "You want a demonstration? Very well." He said slowly, raising his paw and snapping his fingers.
Harry soon found himself on a desolate burned out world, he clutched at his throat he couldn't breath also it felt like his very skin was burning off from some sort of Radiation.
"Oh i'm so sorry I forget your mortals are so fragile." Coyote said. "Apologies."
With a waive of his hand Harry's pain immediately subsided, his wounds healed and he could breathe again. "Where are we, where is my crew?"
"They are unharmed." Coyote said strolling around nonchalantly. "As to where, this is the beginning."
"Beginning of what."
Harry looked up at the sky, the stars were all wrong, a single small silver moon with dark blemishes hovered above illuminating everything around them. The landscape was scorched and barren and a dark sea stretched out before him in the distance. He looked down and noticed that he was standing in some sort of slurry at least ankle deep and steam was emanating from some sort of underground source or even whatever the radiation was that had burned him, obviously Coyote was protecting him.
"Come here." Coyote said stopping near a raised miniature caldera of some underground spring and morning for Harry to approach.
Harry reluctantly walked over to the natural pedestal and looked with in. It was dark and murky and smelled terribly, it bubbled and rolled and seemed like a slurry of organic materials.
"I have stood by the gates of this world since its inception watching it, guiding it, influencing it." Coyote said his voice taking on a nearly paternal tone. "Hoping someday it would produce something wonderful. It did once, but your progenitors failed due to my haste to advance their place in the universe. When given a chance to encounter a life form outside of their own, they butchered it." He sighed. "They paid dearly for the hubris when it's friends showed up and retaliated with total extermination of their race and everything else on this planet." He said sadly. "So what was I to do, but to try again? This little puddle right here, is where it all started, for you at least."
"Are you claiming you created the Echidna race?" Harry scoffed.
Coyote shrugged. "If you want to call me God, I wouldn't deny it." He then looked up and glared at Harry. "I see you still think this is mere trickery."
"I don't believe in gods, or supernatural entities, They are myths, stories, legends nothing more."
Coyote sighed. "You are being watched, my good captain, and if you insist on trying to be so obtuse between myself and my peers than perhaps I need to make myself clear." He reached up and brought his hands together and with a magician's flourish he pulled out what look like an enlarged double helix of dna out of his hands like a handkerchief. "I don't think you quite understand just how small you are. This strand of DNA is the very essence of you." He said gripping the ends between his fingers. "And now I will..." With a quick motion there was a pop and suddenly Harry felt a weird nauseating shift in his body and rapid pain as he suddenly grew a few inches, after the pain subsided he noticed his fur color was now red and his whole body felt wrong, his face felt different. "Unravel you." Coyote continues snapping another strand in the helix. Harry again felt his body shift again rapidly, his fur now a darker brown, his hair was now long and white, his spines were long, things felt like they were in the wrong place and now he had a pair of breasts. He gasped and heard even his voice change and then he heard another pop and then another and he felt more and more rapid changes m was excruciating and the worst part was he was conscious all the way through it he was quickly turned into a creature on all fours looking nothing like himself and even as he felt his own consciousness slipping from him he screamed for Coyote to stop, and with that it did.
Harry looked around and noticed the pain was now a fleeting memory and he was himself again. "I get it, stop please." He gasped. "Thus is just cruelty for the sake of it, you've made your point."
"Good." Coyote said. "Now that we understand each other, I suggest you run along on your merry little way, your challenge awaits." Coyote said, snapping his fingers.
Harry found himself back on the bridge once again and his crew ran up to him concerned.
"Remember Captain, I am watching." he heard in his mind.
"Sir are you ok?" Jakar asked
"I'm fine." Harry said. "What about you."
"All present and accounted for." Rivas said with a bit of relief. "What the hell happened?"
"We had a one on one and it wasn't the most pleasant of matters." Harry said as he looked up at the Raptor's viewscreen. The net suddenly balled up and then blasted away in its energy sphere form. "Mrs. O'mara, can you look into the historical cultural database and look up this Coyote?" Harry said. "Maybe there is something buried in there somewhere about him make it your number one priority."
"Of course sir." O'mara responded. "It may take some time."
"Take all the time you need." Harry said.
"What do we do in the meantime sir?" Jakar asked.
"Resume course." Harry sighed. "We are going to have to take this in stride, whatever Coyote has in store for us, I feel we're going to run directly into it. Mr. Munro, ahead warp factor four."
"Aye." Munro said said from the con.
"Is Jack alright?" Harry asked.
"Ensign Land is recovering in sickbay." Rivas said.
"I'm going to check on him, you have the bridge Commander." Harry said.
Rivas nodded and Harry headed for sickbay.
"Hey Harry how are you doing?" Land said meekly as Harry entered sickbay.
"Good. Now that you are still with us." Harry said gripping Jacks paw, it felt cold and dry.
"What's his condition doctor?" Harry asked.
"He's recovering from severe hypothermia, however other then a little tissue damage he'll recover." Dr. Okan said. "However it's nothing beyond my talents to heal." He said with a smile.
"See I'll be back in action in no time." Jack smiled weakly. "So who was that asshole?"
"Still working in that, Amigo." Harry said. "He's some sort of advanced lifeform of immense power that's never been encountered one before."
"What did he want with us?" Jack asked.
"He wants to test us." Harry sighed. "We have to prove we practice what we preach."
"Well if its so all powerful doesn't it see what we do anyway."
"I think it's looking for something specific, he wouldn't say what, but it could be the end of everything if we mess this up."
"Sounds like we should put our best foot forward." Okan surmised.
"Lu. to Commander Martinez." Terri's voice said over his badge.
"Martinez here whats up."
"Captain, we've picked up some sort of distress call on long range subpace antenna."
"I'll be right up." Harry said. "You get better, I have to get back to the bridge."
"Count on it buddy." Land smiled giving him a thumbs up.
Harry got back to the bridge and went to Terri's station.
"So what do you have?""
"It's just a single message, very brief and repeating." Terri said. "It sounds like they are asking for help by the tone. The universal translator is still studying the language."
Terri tapped a few buttons on her console commands. "System Beta 6, also known as Kistor." Terri read the entry on the system. "It looks like it's prewarp."
"Helm, how close are we too the Beta Six system?" Harry asked.
"A few light years." Ensign Munro responded.
Harry drummed his fingers on the back of Terri's seat. "Get that language figured out we'll check it out."
"Aye sir." Terri nodded getting to work. "Helm alter course for the Beta Six."
"Course altered." Munro reported.
"Captain I will remind you that we do have to be cautious. We cant just jump in unless they meet the requirements for first contact." Rivas spoke up to his right.
"I am aware of the Confederations policy in regards to first contact. If Ms O'mara spots a warp signature when we arrive than we'll go from there if not we will continue on our way." Harry paused and quickly made a note on his ships log via one of his command consoles. "If we have the opportunity to do so we should make the attempt though. It's not like we are getting home any sooner."
The lone voyager leaned back in her chair. She took out a photo of her children and smiled. Once this was done she'd be back home with them soon again. She had already brought the ship around for the return trip home, she had about five hours left and then she'd call it quits. Just trying to pass the time she put the photo away and flipped through the photo's of the ships their satellites had captured. They didn't look like warships, they had varying pastel colors of hulls and often seemed to follow a similar design family of nacells, saucers and some sort of secondary hull in varying configurations.
She hoped whoever they were they would respond.
"Captain…" Michelle said. "I think I found something on our guest."
Harry, intrigued got out of his chair and went over to the science station as Michelle turned to the library computer access terminal in the wall.
"I… I located several instances of a being by the name of Coyote, in mythology of several worlds in the confederation and a few of beings similar in nature to those references in others.
"Really now, show me what you have." Harry said, looking over her shoulder.
"Well the first instance actually came up in Termian Ancient mythology predating the settlement of Termina. A few ancient pictographs and ancient paintings scrolled into view. "He is apparently a trickster god that often leads heroes to great peril or great reward. I read a few of the accounts or at least some summaries and his actual intent is never quite clear , if anything it seems more an analogy for an individual's hubris than anything."
"Hmm, never heard of him." Harry said, however history wasn't really his strong suit.
"Also the ancient spacers that lead the echidna expedition to this part of the galaxy were also named informally''Coyotes ``. I also no.. no noticed this." She quickly keyed in another command bringing up another ancient painting but this one was from Avia. "There was a similar being with the same name on my world, except he would lure unwary avians to the ground with promises of riches and devour them, but another he stopped a group of land predators from climbing up into the trees to devour us during the long night." Michelle shrugged. "So he's either a hero or villain, I've also found similar characters in Cornerian, Altairian and other mythologies."
"Fascinating.." Harry said. I will have to do some reading. Can you put your findings on a data pad so I can read into this."
"Y.. yes sir." O'mara replied.
Harry read the stories, as time passed. Michelle was right, whomever this being was was either this so called mythical being or something pretending to be it. After what he experienced it was definitely something far beyond what they understood as life in their own scope of experience. He could do without Coyotes attitude and pomposity, if anything that really got under his skin.
That and whether this Coyote was leading them to doom or some great discovery that was the other thing nagging him at the forefront of his mind.
Harry didn't belive in gods, this thing may have thought it was, and possessed the ability to teleport anywhere anytime at will in a way that seemed magical. Harry had to remind himself that to his great great ancestors who were terrestrially bound so long ago with not even base understanding of the things Harry could do with the Raptor he would seem as a god like eing to them.
He Looked up from his reading as he heard a computer terminal signal.
"I detect one warp signature." Michelle reported looking up from her sensor scope. "It's fairly recent." She zoomed in on it and saw a single chrome trimaran type craft. "I think I found it."
"On screen." Harry ordered.
Michelle hit a few commands and soon the vessel and it's accompanying communication array.
"Any update on that broadcast?" Harry asked.
Terri worked diligently at her station trying to decipher the language of the message the Universal Translator was struggling a little with it. "Still working on it sir but the gist of it does seem to be a distress call. Something about their Moon is causing tidal shifts, they are specifically asking the visitors to their world for help."
"Get that translator up and running and well move in and introduce ourselves." Harry said. "Apparently our observation ships were spotted by them."
"That's unusual." Rivas said. "Most of the time when that happens they are written off as hoaxes. This lot seems to be a bit more acceptant of the thought life on other worlds."
"Well they qualify for first contact, we just need to be able to talk to them." Harry said leaning back in the command chair. "If there is anything we can do to help we can do so."
"I'm trying sir, we are almost 80% there." Terri responded. "I need to make sure we get this right. Their language is a bit complex and it would be very easy to mistranslate."
"Take your time." Harry said patiently. He suddenly looked up and saw Jack at the rear door. Terri looked up at him and smiled relieved Jack returned the smile.
"Are you back in action Mr. Land?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, Doc said I could return to duty." Jack said.
"By all means." Harry said motioning to the con.
Jack relieved Ensign Munro and took his post.
"I think I have it Captain." Harry said triumphantly.
"Good Mr. Land since you are catching up Mr. Munro should have left a set of coordinates of a vessel we are planning on intercepting."
"I got it skip just let me know what we're doing." Jack responded.
"Take us in Mr. Land, nice and easy." Harry ordered. "This is first contact, we don't need to be frightening them."
"I might want to mention that this thing has four phaser turrets phasing forwards that's going to be kind of hard to do." Jack said.
"What do you suggest then."
"I dunno, let them know we're here and slowly approach from behind, let them see our underbelly." Jack shrugged. "Might be a bit less intimidating."
"Ok we'll try it that way." Harry said. "Adjust course appropriately, Ms. Lu open hailing frequencies.
"Kistorian Vessel Greetings from the Confederation Starship Raptor, we have heard your message and would like to welcome you aboard."
The lone voyager looked up through the canopy at the gunmetal grey hull of the Raptor as it loomed over her own ship and dwarfed it.
"If you wish we can bring your vessel on board our own to meet face to face, respond if your can understand this message." Terri's voice came over her speaker.
The lone voyager scrambled about to activate her own communication equipment.
"Yes, this is Kistor's hope, thank you for responding." She responded. "Please we need your help the sooner we can talk the better."
"Very well Kistor's hope, disengage all maneuvering thrusters and engines we will bring you onboard." Terri responded. "Stand by please."
Suddenly a beam of light enveloped her ship and what looked like some sort of large cargo door began to roll up exposing the interior of the ship. She felt her ship shift as the beam began to slowly and gently maneuver her vessel into the Raptor's shuttle bay. After a bit she felt it contact with the deck and she started to unbuckle her restraints feeling the pull of gravity on her. She reasoned that they must have some artificial means of generating gravity. She was nervous, she never expected to get a response let alone them be able to communicate with her so clearly. She checked the atmospheric readings, the oxygen levels were a little low for her species but no worse than being in a high altitude. She grabbed a digital recorder and attached it to her suit, this had to be reordered. The first contact with extraterrestrials was definitely a event worthy of recording.
Harry, Dr. Okan and Lt. O'mara and Terri Lu waited for the pilot to exit the craft.
"Are they Ok?" Harry asked.
Dr. Okan looked at his tricoder. "They are moving around in there, probably just getting ready to go out. As to their actual health, I won't know that till I get a full bioscan."'
"Very funny Doctor." Harry grunted.
They heard what sounded like a mechanical seal being popped. "Here they come now get ready." Harry said. A hatch in the vessel's side opened and the voyager cautiously stepped out of their vessel testing the gravity before she approached.
Terri readied the baton like Universal Translater device at the ready and spoke into it letting the speakers in the bay play the transmitted signal.
"Welcome on board the Raptor, if you give us a few minutes we will be able to speak to you one on one." She said then angling it gently towards the humanoid approaching them.
The pilot if the silver craft looked over at the speakers at the projected voice.
"If you could tell us your name and speak towards the device in my hand it would be a great help. It is merely a communications aide and will not hurt you."
The figure spoke it was quick and sounded almost like a melodic chirp. "My name is Karna P'rnfr." They all heard the response.
Terri looked over at Michelle who was helping her calibrate the settings via a recorder. Michelle nodded. "We need a bit more phonetic structure."
Terri nodded. "Are there any other members of your crew on board they are welcome as well."
Karna listened and then responded. "No, I am the only one. Can you help us? Our world is in danger."
"We would be glad to help you anyway that we can." Terri responded. "We just need to get our instruments set so we can understand each other."
Karna seemed to understand. "Why are some of you different?"
"We are from several different worlds Terri responded right when the translater completion indicator lit up. "Can you understand me now?" Terri asked politely.
"Yes…" Karna replied. "Why do your mouths move out of sync with your words?"
"It's a side effect of our translating device. Just ignore it and you will get used to it."
"Fascinating. How does it work?"
"It's complicated, if you wouldn't mind speaking to my Captain we'd be glad to help."
"Greetings Karna, I am Commander Martinez." Harry said. "So tell me, what is going on with your moon?"
Fortunately Karna had brought and extensive collection of data that her people had collected and loaded onto her vessel's storage banks.
Fara, Terri and Michelle worked on extracting the data.
Karna submitted to a medical bioscan from Doctor Okan and she was given a clean bill of health. After that Harry gave her a tour around the ship.
"This ship is way different than the ones we've seen. Why is that?" Karna asked
"Being honest with you." Harry said, trying to not worry his guest. "this ship is more for defence of our interests than exploration."
"It's a warship?"
"Primarily yes. We are a bit off the beaten path at the moment."
"We had an emergency and we had to do a warp jump while in free fall about a star. We got catapulted quite a way from home." Harry replied, deciding not to scare her with tales of the polywater virus that nearly killed the crew. "We were on our way home when we picked up your signal."
"How fast can this ship travel?"
"At least 8 times faster than your own." Harry replied. "We have ships that can travel faster. That's putting it simply."
"Amazing, I still have one question. Why the need for a warship if your Confederation is peaceful?"
"There are threats we face from other civilisations that despite our best efforts, continue to remain actively hostile towards us." Harry replied.
"Are they far from here?" Karna asked.
"Yes. Your world sits in our own territory so you are protected on all sides. We were observing your world in hopes that once you reached a certain point in your development we could welcome you into the fold." Harry explained.
"So will you be able to help us?"
"We're analyzing the data on your ship. As soon as my crew gives me their appraisal of it we will try to help you to the best of our abilities." Harry said reassuringly. "It's going to be a big enough shock to your world that we contacted you. We'd better have some sort of plan if we're going to help."
"I am sorry I am just worried I have young ones back home and they are as safe as they can be."
"I understand." Harry said reassuringly. "We got good people on this ship I am sure we'll have something in the next hour."
The command staff of the Raptor sat about the briefing room table as Michelle explained the data they obtained from Karna's ship. Karna was seated near the end of the table by Harry
"From the data we were able to retrieve from the ship. It seems like the moon's internal mass is unstable and shifting around as you can see.. See. Here." She hit a button in the display and the radar images showed the strange shift in the moons mass. "It's very strange I have never seen anything like it before."
"Any theories?" Harry asked.
Michelle shrugged. "It could be some sort of tectonic activity but its too rapid
Possibly some sort of subspace distortion that the Kistorans instruments can't detect."
"I am just going to throw a wild idea out here…" Fara said. "I know it sounds crazy but it looks like something is moving in there."
"I mean… maybe." Michelle said. "That would be a little outside what I know."
"That would be surely something if it was." Okan said excitedly. "A life form of that magnitude has never be seen before."
"It'd make a hell of an Omlette if it..Ow!" Jack said, suddenly glaring at Jakar who'd suddenly slapped him upside the head. Jakar merely sat like nothing had happened although there was a slight smirk peeking through his normal grimace.
"Well we won't know what is going on until we get close enough to examine it." Harry surmised.
"I suggest we start there. We had an outpost that we sent another team to investigate that went silent a few months ago." Karna spoke up. "Another team was sent to look into that. We could check up on them."
"Easy enough, I suppose we should dispense with the formalities and dive right in. I hope you'll be our familiar face to help bridge relations."
"I'll do my best Captain, but I'm a scientist not a diplomat." Karna said warily.
"That'll do just fine. Anyone else have any better suggestions?" Harry asked.
No one replied.
"Alright, Mr. Land set a course for Kistor's moon. Meeting adjourned."
It didn't take long for the Raptor to Reach the Kistor's moon.
"Jakar did you locate the other vessel?" Harry asked.
"Aye, it's about 100 meteres away from the base." Jakar reported.
"Very good, relay the coordinates to Mr Land. We're going to set down." Harry said. "Ms O'mara, can you find us a good solid piece of rock to set down on."
Michelle looked at her instruments. "The Moon's composition is mostly granite and Iron, even with the instability we should be fine."
"Very well, Blue Alert, Mr. Land take us down."
"Should be a piece of cake." Jack said confidently.
The Raptor's landing struts extended and it slowly began to descended to the moon.
It startled the Kistorian crew on their ship as it passed over head and set down not very far off from it.
Forward gangway airlock.
"Are you sure you don't want to take your phasers?" Rivas asked as Harry and O'mara suited up as Karna got back into her own pressure suit. "We don't really know what we are walking into down there."
"Your concern is noted but I really don't think going to that ship armed would make the best of impression." Harry said. "That crew could be on edge enough as it is."
"If you say so." Rivas said. "It's standard procedure to go armed on any away mission regardless of context."
"I am aware of the regulations Commander and i'll note it in my log, but it's my decision."
"Have it your way." Rivas shrugged. "Just keep a com channel open just in case we have to beam you out."
"Of that you won't have to worry." Harry said putting on his helmet and checking the coms on it. "I will keep an open channel the whole time."
"Good luck." Rivas nodded.
Once settled the Raptor's forward gangway lowered and Harry, O'mara and Karna exited the gangway in evac suits and made their way towards the shuttle.
Harry noticed Michelle was a bit unsteady on her feat as they bounced along. "Having trouble Lieutenant?"
"Not used to low gravity sir." Michelle said over his com.
"Just imagine you're in a pool of water. It's sort of like that."
"Not a big swimmer sir."
Harry just chuckled to himself as they bounced along it didn't take too long for them to reach the outer hatch of the shuttle. It was similar to Karna's just larger and still just as chrome with smooth surfaces. It seemed to have a rough landing and the ground was a bit scared up from the event.
Karna hit a few buttons on the arm of her suit. "Shuttle Tyrnas, this is Karna of the Kistor's Hope, don't be afraid I came on the vessel that just landed here please respond."
There was a brief pause and suddenly the airlock opened and they stepped inside. After it pressurised they entered and saw more kistorians with weapons pointed at them.
"Step in, keep your hands where we can see them." a voice came over Harry's com.
Both him and Michelle did so.
"Captain Doirya its Karna you know me."
"Yeah I do." the leader said keeping her weapons trained on them. "I also know for damn sure I wasn't expecting visitors on our moon!"
"lI understand that but I am with friends, look at them, i am unharmed and they came to help us."
"I assure you we mean you no harm." Harry said as legally as he could hopping the Universal Translator was doing its job. "My ship answered your call for help and we have technology that far exceeds your own." Harry said, slowly stepping forward. "I assure you if you use those weapons on me I will die and any chance you had of us helping your people will die with me." Harry said sternly like a teacher with misbehaving students. "Now I suggest you have a little faith. So I suggest you lower your weapons and let us help you. Please."
The three other Kistorans looked to Captain Doirya who stood in thought and then nodded for them to lower their weapons.
Harry let out a relieved sigh. "May my friend and I use our devices to take some readings."
Doirya seemed hesitant. "Let me see one, hand it to her." She said motioning to Karna.
Harry slowly reached down to the belt and removed his tricorder handing it to Karna who handed it over.
Doirya opened it warily and looked at it opening it up cautiously seeing it activate. "What does it do?"
"It scans objects with subspace pulses so we get readings down to the subatomic level. It's directly tied into our ships onboard computers and sensors." Harry explained trying to stay patient and understanding.
Doirya looked it over suspiciously and eventually handed it back.
"Thank you." Harry said through his suit speakers taking the tricorder back. He then checked the suits bio scanners and saw the air was clean and breathable out of habit before he removed his helmet. O'mara followed suit now that's over. "I am Commander Harry Martinez, Captain of the Confederation Starship Raptor. This is my science officer Michelle O'mara."
"Commander I am picking up an awful lot of radiation in this craft." Michelle said worried.
"Radiation from what?"
"It's probably our Cargo." Doirya replied.
"Cargo?" Harry said raising a brow.
"We brought highly refined nuclear warheads to deal with any threats we couldn't stop. Hence the weapons." Doirya explained.
"Ah… I see, well lets not be blowing off any bombs until we have a better scope of the situation?" Harry suggested. "So there is a research base that went silent that Karna tells me about, lets go check that out." Harry said sticking his helmet back on and sealing. "I suggest since you all brought the guns, you lead the way."
Doirya glared at him and started shouting orders at her small crew and they stated to seal up their own suits.
"Commander are you sure b.. her like that is wise." Michelle asked over the suit to suit transmission channel.
"I know the type, if I don't stand up to her she'll be waving that gun in our faces the whole time we're here, would you rather have that?" Harry replied.
"Then don't worry about it."
A good walk later the group of seven drew near to the research station.
The lights were dark, the lunar vehicles seemed abandoned.
"What type of power source does that place use." Harry asked.
"Atomic Reactor, and Solar." Doirya replied. "I wonder what happened."
Harry tapped the control arm on his suit and used its onboard camera to zoom in on the station. He spotted some sort of white substance all over the base. In his mind's eye it appeared to be webbing but that made no sense at all. "There's some sort of substance all over the base, it looks like web but I'm not sure we'll have to scan it when we get closer."
They cautiously approached the seemingly abandoned research station and the closer they got the more apparent the webs became.
"What is that stuff Lieutenant?" Harry asked.
"It's a type of silk… exactly what it appears to be." Michelle reported. "With as much of it as there is I would hate to see what made it."
"Karna, was their any life discovered on your moon before?
"No our probes always showed it to be barren and lifeless." Karna responded.
"I would say that assessment may have been remiss." Harry mused.
"Maybe they are from another world, you showed up." Doirya added. "The main hatch should be on the other side of that building let's go." She motioned in the direction with her weapon.
Harry opened a com channel to the Raptor. "Martinez to Raptor."
"Rivas here, how can we help Captain?" Came the wolfs voice over the helmets com.
"We've seen some evidence that we may not be alone on this planet, can you keep an eye out for anything that might be crawling around." Harry said.
"Crawling, what the hell does that mean?" Rivas replied.
"I think you'll know when it makes itself present." Harry replied. "Keep those scanners open won't you?"
"Sure thing Captain, we'll keep the transporter charged."
Harry felt like something wasn't right about all this, he could feel the hairs of his neck standing up. This situation was not ideal but he was trying to play this as cool as he could.
They approached the entrance to the compound and found that the airlock was opened.
"No atmosphere Captain." O'mara reported.
"We'll have to try to restart the environmental systems once we get inside." Doirya said exasperated. "That little device tell you if our people are alive?"
"I'm not detecting anything living or otherwise." O'mara said solemnly. "Sorry."
"Anything unusual?" Harry asked.
O'mara checked her readings. "There is an unusually high amount of silicate inside the base but that could be contamination from the airlock being opened."
Suddenly the ground suited under them and shook violently and everyone was tossed about. It lasted for several minutes before finally subsiding. The ground shifted and cracked around them damaging the lunar base. Harry checked on everyone and then called his ship.
"Massive earthquake. We're fine ships system protected us from most of it although one of the landing struts is damaged." Rivas replied.
"Understood, if the ground becomes to unstable don't wait on me to get the Raptor space borne again." Harry replied.
"I don't think you'll have to worry about that captain." Rivas responded.
Harry helped the others get back to their feet, everyone seemed unharmed.
"I suggest we get in the base before it's completely destroyed." Doirya groused. "And we lose any information they may have discovered." She called to her men and they headed inside the crumbling structure.
Karna looked at Harry a bit worried. "Do you think it's safe?" Looking warily after the others.
"Not particularly." Harry said. "We don't really have much of a choice."
The base's interior was utterly choked with the webbing and it hindered their movement as they moved inside. It seemed to be heavily damaged as well. It was eerie and Harry felt as if they weren't alone in the ruin. He glanced over at Michelle seeing a few feathers filling the base of her helmet indicating she was at least feeling the same. They pressed on deeper into the base as Doirya led them presumably towards the power center. The deck was safely ruptured in some places and Harry Highly doubted as this place could hold a breathable atmosphere in its current condition as he looked about letting the torch on his helmet illuminate the area around them. Harry took note of a few things that seemed to be hastily assembled barricades and pointed them out to Michelle.
"I wonder what happened to the crew?" Karna said quietly.
"I am sure we'll find out soon enough." Harry replied flatly checking down a collapsed corridor with his light.
"Sir, i'm detecting some slight movement other than us." Michelle said quietly.
"I am having trouble locking onto it."
"Captain Doirya, our scanners are picking up movement around us. Might want to keep a heads up." Harry said toggling his com channel.
"Appreciated Captain." Doirya replied. "We don't have much further till we're in the engineering bay."
"This place looks pretty badly damaged, do you think any of it could be made operational?"
"The Habitat is made of reinforced poly duranium." Doirya responded. "It's supported by a suspension system that should protect it from the earthquakes. It should be fi….." She suddenly let out a loud exclamation.
"What?" Harry asked, moving up to her and his eyes falling on what Doirya had spotted. On the ground lay a severed arm of a pressure suit with a piece of bone protruding from the back of the arm.
Harry quickly panned his light around and spotted what appeared to be seven humanoid shapes wrapped up in the web against the walls in the atrium they had entered.
"How many people were up here Captain." Harry said counting the forms.
"I think we found the crew." Harry said grimly scanning the forms not detecting any life from them. "I'm sorry."
A look of grim determination crossed her face. "Let's get to engineering." She said moving forward.
"I'm really starting to think not bringing the phasers might not have been a good idea sir." O'mara said a bit wairily on their private suit to suit com.
"I hate to say it but I may have to agree with you on that." Harry replied moving forward as she fell in behind him. He glanced over to Karna who seemed a bit worried and was glancing around wairily.
Suddenly time seemed to slow down and everything stopped.
He suddenly found himself alone in the atrium, now free of cobwebs or anything else.
"You are wasting time Captain." he heard Coyote's voice somehow around them.
"Well feel free to jump in at any time since you seem to know everything." Harry snapped back severely annoyed turning to leave only to do d Coyote in front of him dressed in his garish outfit again.
"I could but that would cause you to fail." He smiled.
"Then leave me alone and let me work." Harry said pushing past him.
"Such rudeness do I need to remind…"
Harry spun around and marched right up to Coyote's sneering face putting his visor a millimeter from his snout.
"Remind me of what? That you're a bully? Torture me again for laughs? Sure if that's what gets you off. I don't care what you do, now get out of my way and let me work." Harry hissed.
Coyote said nothing but he grinned in amusement suddenly vanishing in a flash.
Harry found himself back in the atrium and the group was getting further ahead of him although they hadn't seemed to have noticed him falling behind.
"Captain are you ok?" He heard O'mara ask over his com.
"I am fine, our friend just paid us a visit." He said moving up to join the rest of them.
"He told me we are stalling."
"Does he want us to blunder through th.. This thing?!" Michelle stuttered.
Harry sighed and shook his head. "Possibly. Don't worry about it, you are doing a great job, just keep scanning away."
"Th.. Than..thanks." Michelle smiled although she looked borderline terrified.
They made their way deeper into the base finally entering the vast engineering bay. They cautiously approached it and Doirya and her crew started work on the reactor to get it operational again. Thankfully the webs were absent from this section of the compound.
After about twenty minutes power was once again surging through the station. Doirya had Karna start to seal off the damaged sections of the facility. Once everything seemed secure and breathable atmosphere was detected they all removed their helmets save for Doirya's crew men. "I want you three to go retrieve the explosives as planned, make it quick."
"Do you think that's necessary?" Harry asked.
"I have my orders, I am sure you would understand that." Doirya replied flatly.
Harry merely grunted and nodded as the other three Kistorans' headed for the airlock at the back of the bay.
Suddenly Harry's com signal went off. "Martinez here."
On the bridge Don Rivas sat in the Command chair. "I thought I'd let you know that nightfall is rapidly approaching." He glanced over at the status monitor to his right. "Maybe in the next hour. What's your situation?"
"We found the crew, something killed them. We've got life support restored, O'mara keeps detecting weird anomalies but she can't pinpoint anything."
"I can see the crew of the Kistorian vessel is heading back to it. Is there something we can assist with."
"Negative, they have their orders and are retrieving the nuclear devices I am sure you are aware of." Harry replied.
"Yeah they are about the hottest thing out there, you might need to get a good decom scrub when we are done with this." Don smirked. "If not you might start glowing in the dark."
"I'm very aware of the risks." Harry replied
"You realise if they bring those things into the base we won't be able to beam you out." Don said singing off on a duty roster that Terri Lu handed him and handing it back to her. "Radiation plays hell on the confinement beams we wouldn't be able to get a steady lock."
Harry was quiet a moment and didn't respond. "In for a penny, in for a pound I suppose."
"You got that right Captain." Rivas said. "Our repairs are coming along, Fara says she might be able to keep the struts from being damaged the next time a quake hits, she adjusted them to bear the load a bit better."
Good job Fara. Harry thought to himself. As of late she was a lot better about getting on repairs than she had been.
"I do have one request can you beam over some hand phases. I have a feeling we may need them."
"Understood Jakar will get them sent right over. Rivas out."
Karna was motioning him to come over. "I have to go I will keep in touch, Martinez out."
He walked over to the console where Karna was working. "Do you have something."
"Yes, i think I found the security footage." Karna replied. "I'm trying to retrieve it so we an see what happened, up here."
"Good work." Harry said. "Mrs O'mara do you think you could help Karna out over here."
"Sure, I'm ok with computers. I'll do what I ca ca can." Michelle replied.
Suddenly the hum of transporter energy could be heard and a small charger with two hand phasers materialised on a workbench by Harry.
"Captain would you mind accompanying me to the habitat area?" Doirya asked putting her helmet on and noticing the weapons.
"What are those?" She asked.
"Energy weapons, myself and my companion may need them." Harry said putting into his holster. "We should be armed to help protect you as well as ourselves."
Doirya nodded in agreement. "I would appreciate it."
"I am glad that you do." Harry said. "Mrs. O'mara we have phases would you come get yours?"
"In a moment sir." O'mara said busily working at the computer.
Harry put his helmet back on and sealed it. "I will be accompanying Captain Doirya to the habitat area, keep an open channel."
"Uh huh." MIchelle responded focused on her work.
Harry double checked his phaser and then nodded to Doirya and followed her to the airlock leading deeper into the installation.
The Habitat area was severely damaged, the lights flickered on and off and there was a lot of internal damage and the webbing was everywhere. It was a bit unsettling.
"So what are we looking for?" Harry acts.
"The log module, the main computer is in this area." Doirya said, checking down side corridors, keeping her weapon up. "So tell me Captain Martinez you have a first name?" she said trying to break the uneasy tension.
"It's Harold, Harry for short." Harry replied. "You?"
"Yuria." Doirya replied. "Your name is unusual, it's very solid."
Harry chuckled. "It's a very old name."
"It sounds old." Doirya mused. "When this is over I would like to learn more about your people."
Harry checked down another corridor that was filled with more webs ane debris. "You will have to do a lot of learning, there are many races in the confederation. How far till the main computer?"
"Not far." Doirya replied as they approached a door that parted as they approached. They both shine their torched down the we filled corridor and proceeded slowly their weapons drawn. By what means do you talk to us, when you speak your mouth doesn't match what you are saying."
Harry chuckled. "It's technology given to us by the Keldryians. It uses a form of telepathy to allow us to communicate. I have used it for years but barely understand it myself. It's a marvelous tool, it makes communication so much easier person to person. Over communications channels it just broadcasts the correct language."
"Fascinating. The best we could come up with was a computer controlled translation matrix. It's effective though once it gets a hold of the language, but nothing as sophisticated as your system." Doirya replied. "That door right there that's the core." she said, shining her torch on it.
"Anything yet?" Karna asked.
"Not yet, the data appears to be corrupted, I" trying to do my best to recover it." O'mara replied as she worked. "I think there was a power surge before the reactor powered down. I'll do my best to g g get it recover."
The core room was just as choked with the web like substance as the main foyer. A few lights flickered on and off giving the place an eerie and foreboding feel about it.
"I don't like this." Doirya muttered.
"I suggest we move quickly, but keep our heads up I'll cover you."
"Sure." Doirya replied as they moved forward through the webs. "I think i see it up ahead come on."
They carefully made their way forward through the webbing.
Michelle worked the controls of the console following the prompts on her tricorder and she was finally able to bring up the security footage. It was grainy and distorted but she could make out the main foyer that they had passed through. She saw the other Kistorians moving about frantically it looked like they were trying to set up a barricade.
Their was no audio but she could tell they looked panicked.
"Is that the image you can pull up?" Karna asked.
"Yeah." Michelle said watching the picture when suddenly she saw something jump in and knock one of the Kistorians out of frame, and suddenly there were more shapes and then the picture degraded. Whatever it was it was fast. She ran the footage back.
"Karna can you help me with these controls, we need to see whatever that blur was."
"I'll try." Karna said moving to help
"The logs will be accessible over here, we just need to remove the data core." Doirya said motioning to one side of the core.
"Ok, I'll cover you."
Doirya moved up to the core keeping her eyes darting about the room.
Harry was uneasy too, his grip tightened on the hand phaser and he made sure it was set at a decent level to deal with anything. He made sure he kept Doirya in sight he had a feeling that whatever this challenge was that Coyote was beating him over the head with.
The image began to clear up and Karna and Michelle leaned in to look at the image.
It was large, very arachnid like almost resembling a tick but it didn't seem to be made of anything organic and it had massive pinchers on the front of it and eight legs with sythe like ends.
"Oh my g g god.. Harry.. Harry!" Michelle said quickly scrambling around for her combadge and helmet at the same time.
Harry noticed something move the webbing above Doirya, his eyes focused on a dark shape and he slowly turned himself to aim his phaser waiting till he was sure. He then saw it start to lunge and he fired.
The crimson beam hit the creature and it burst into flames however more of the creatures dropped down from the ceiling fleeing the webs as they burst into flames. One tried to jump onto Doirya but she managed to get a few shots off with her weapon and it slammed into her knocking her to the ground. Harry blasted the creature before it could bite down on Doirya's helmet and it fled also in flames. Harry did a quick count and their were easily a dosen of the creatures surrounding them. They all resembled some sort of large tick with what looked like razor sharp points for legs and ferocious chomping jaws.
Suddenly Harry saw another phaser beam and pulse rifle fire start laying into the creatures. He saw O'mara and Karna firing at the creatures from the corridor they entered from.
Harry quickly helped Doirya up and hauled her to the door as the door that O'mara closed band sealed the door behind them.
"I have no idea how long that will hold them." O'mara said wearily.
"It should for a bit." Doirya spoke up.
"Are you unhurt?" Harry asked.
"I'm fine, just knocked the wind out of me, thank you." She said smiling at Harry. "Let's get back to the power core."
Meanwhile the rest of Kistorian crew was working to move the nuclear devices towards the base, while in the distance they could see the terminator of the light reflected off their world slowly approaching. They would be on the dark side soon enough and they all checked to make sure their torches were working before proceeding forward.
Several moments later they arrived in the engineering bay panting and tired. They had hurriedly scrambled back with the creatures rapidly pursuing them closing every hatch they could between them and the creatures.
Harry popped off his helmet trying to catch his breath. "I think we found your anomalies lieutenant."
O'mara took her helmet off as well and nodded.
"What are those things?" Doyria asked.
"I don't know, never seen anything like them before." Harry said. "Whatever they are they don't take to phaser fire too well. Any ideas Lieutennant O'mara?"
"None without cl.. Closer analysis, I didn't have time to scan one of them." O'mara panted. "Maybe some sort of silicon based life form, although the way they ignited from phaser fire, you got me."
"Is there something I wasn't informed of?" Karna asked Doriya. "I thought there was no life on our moon."
"There isn't supposed to be all our probes and prior expeditions never discovered anything before." Doirya replied.
"Could they be invaders?" Karna asked.
"Possibly." Harry said. "Or they just haven't been seen before."
"What do you mean?" Karna asked.
"What if they've been here all along, hibernating, until something woke them up." Harry said pacing back an forth. "Possibly triggered by some event, Karna you said these seismic events on the moon didn't occur until fairly recently correct."
"It's possible that the appearance of these creatures and that activity could possibly be connected, however, that part I'm not to sure of yet." Harry said wringing his hands in the thought.
"It's possible." O'mara said. "Although this situation is a bit…. Unusual." O'mara said. "A similar event occurs on Oranari four, whenever there is massive tectonic upheaval the worlds subterranean creatures usually come to the surface and wreak havoc on the surface life. However that's a class M world, not a dead rock with no atmosphere."
"Not really an exclusionary factor Lieutenant." Harry added.
O'mara only shrugged and smoothed her feathers scowling at the few that molted off from stress.
Doirya's communicator went off and she stepped aside to answer it.
Harry tapped his own communicator. "Martinez to Raptor."
"Rivas here, How can we help you Captain?"
"Can you beam over some transporter pattern enhancers we may need them."
"Of course we can. I was wondering when you were going to ask, how are things going?" Rivas asked.
"We found out what the anomalies are, some sort of insectoid like possibly silicon based life form, we're not exactly sure, they are highly aggressive though."
"Do we need to send a security team?" Rivas asked. "Jakar is starting to wear a hole in the deck with worry."
Harry heard Jakar mutter something in the background over the com. "We have it handled for the moment just get the enhancers sent over as soon as possible."
"Understood, we'll send them over in a few moments.
Outside the darkness drew ever closer the Kistoran astronauts unawares that within the darkness the moons surface was swarming with the creatures just hanging back just shy of the terminator.
Lt. Plex, a green skinned four armed bem looked at her sensor readings from her system. "Commander Rivas I am detecting a lot of movement on the surface."
"Is it another tremor?" Don asked.
"Negative." She said turning in her seat and activating the scope that extended out of the station. "I will put it on screen infrared only."
The screen shifted to show a mass of cold moving in the darkness.
Rivas stood up out of the command chair. "There has to be millions of them." He motioned to Terri lu to open the channel back to Commander Martinez. "Captain their is a whole swarm of something about to descend onto the Kistorians outside, we just now detected them."
"Can you use the phasers to warn off the creatures." Harry asked.
Rivas looked at Jakar who mouthed "To close" and shook his head.
"Negatory on that sir."
"Transporters." Harry said quickly.
"We can't the nuclear devices."
Harry grabbed his helmet and Phaser and shouted for the others to join him.
"What's wrong?" Doyria asked.
"Your crew is about to get devoured! We got to get out there fast!" Harry said heading for the airlock.
They all quickly sealed their helmets and suits, grabbed their weapons and headed for the airlock.
"Kreller, Donon, you need to abandon the nuclears and get inside immediately." Doirya shouted over her coml as they exited the airlock.
"Why Commander, we aren't that far?" Kreller responded
"The dark ,it's filled with the same things that invaded the base you have to make a run for the base!" She shouted. "We can retrieve the nuclears later if we have too. Don't argue run!"
The three male kistoran crewmembers looked behind them and could see the movement in the rapidly approaching dark.
One of them screamed and panic, dropping the device and bolting for the base. The other two quickly followed his lead. However the darkness was soon upon them and so were the creatures despite their desperate attempt to flee.
However their efforts were in vein as the darkness and creatures rapidly descended upon them.
They were about to exit the airlock when the screams came in over their speakers.
Harry stopped Doriya before she could open the door and pointed outside through the viewport. Outside the could see the terminator disappearing into the horison and the creatures swarming about.
"I'm sorry." He said. "It's too late."
"There might be a chance, we can't just leave them!" Doirya said, distraught.
"I've seen what those creatures can do." Karna said. "I doubt they survived."
Doirya cursed and headed back to the engineering section.
Harry watched her go.
"How horrible." Michelle said, looking a bit shaken.
"I know if you could have done something you would have." Karna said. "I take it even with your advanced technology, bad things still happen."
"They do, no matter how much we try to prevent them." Harry nodded trying to keep his composure. He then turned to Michelle. "Those transporter enhancers should be over here by now. We should… we should go and set them up. Come on." He said as he headed after Doirya.
"Yes sir." Michelle said following after him
Some time later.
Don paced around the bridge just trying to ease his mind. The loss of the Kestorans frustrated him. It could have been avoided, but he supposed they had their own mission they carried out subject to their own risks. Their terrified screams they heard over the coms still bounced around in his head. His own ship nearly averted disaster not that long ago thanks to that strange infection that had swept through the crew. He could still recall the sound of the emergency hatch being blown on the Albions bridge killing their command crew. He wasn't too concerned about the creatures outside that were now crawling over the Raptor. It's hide was thicker and made of pretty dense material. However just to be safe he had ordered that all the viewport shutters be closed. He walked past Terri and Jack who were chatting at the back of the bridge and stopped at the science console where Lt. Plex was diligently monitoring the situation.
"Anything new?" He asked.
Plex glanced up at him. "Not as of yet, the creatures are crawling all along our outer hull trying to find a way in."
"Learn anything new about the creatures." Rivas asked.
"Scans show that they are mostly some sort of silicon based lifeform. Beyond that, without a thorough examination of a living specimen I can't determine anything else." Lt. Plex reported.
"Do you think they might find a way in?" Don asked.
"If they possess enough cunning anything is possible. " Lt. Plex responded. "Predatory species that attack as aggressively as these creatures can be very cunning. It would be wise not to underestimate them."
"I see." Rivas said drumming his fingers on the edge of the science console. "Jakar, sound general quarters. I want people on their toes. Plex may have a point."
Jakar nodded and the alert lights began to flash on the bridge. Jack quickly returned to his post.
Rivas took the com. "Mr. Land have the ship ready to lift off at a moment's notice, just in case we need to."
"How far, just off the ground, orbit?" Jack asked, shrugging.
"I'll figure that out when the need arises, ensign." Rivas replied.
Coyote sat on the top of the Raptor's port nacelle with his legs dangling over the edge watching the creatures swarm around and chew and pull at the grating around the bussard collectors. He chuckled to himself watching them work, they were very diligent in their task wich was admirable considering how overly primitive they were.
The creatures were oblivious to him, he had made sure of that shifting his form so that it was just slightly out of phase with reality. He could warn the crew inside the ship, but that wasn't the point, how they reacted to it was.
He chuckled as he saw the creatures finally wrench a hole in the duranium mesh and suddenly started pouring into the nacelles interior while others tried to widen the hole making room for more to spill inside.
The creatures swarmed all over the inside of the nacell crawling along the interior of the coils, the intense radiation barely slowing them down and the heat of the plasma emitters drawing them towards it. They soon started to swarm towards it attacking the plasma emitter only to result in them being disintegrated and they soon began to swarm over the perceived attacks quickly clogging the space between the warp coils.
Fara's ears twitched as they picked up the sound of an error tone from the master systems display. She walked over and activated it and looked at it. The warp nacelles were reading a problem with the plasma injectors. "Damn it what now.." She said running a diagnostic. The computer reported that their was an obstruction blocking the flow of drive plasma. Suddenly another alarm sounded and a feed back loop of plasma was starting to back up into the core. Fara reacting quickly purged the drive plasma and shut down the warp core before there was a catastrophic explosion. The lights flickered as the impulse generators kicked on providing power for the ship.
"Engineering to bridge we have a problem." Fara said trying to get Knackt's attention.
"We can see that," Rivas replied. "Why did you kill the main power."
"We have something clogging the plasma injectors in the warp engines, if I hadn't shut down the core we probably would have gone up in a rather brilliant explosion. I am getting ready to go check it out now."
"Any idea what it is?" Rivas asked.
"It could be anything commander." Fara said miming what tools they needed. "Do you really want to take a chance with the whole system considering what we've put it through lately."
"Not really chief." Rivas said. "Just keep in touch and let me know if it can be fixed, I would like to get off this rock if it starts to fall apart."
"Well aware of that, I'll let you know what I find. Phoenix out." She looked over to Kanckt who had already rounded up the tool kit. "Alright, lets go check it out."
"I swear if I have to crawl in that damn conduit again and pull out another varmit that fell into the stream I am quitting." Knackt complained.
"Well if it is I'm sure the Kistorians would appreciate your expertise, we're still a long ways from home buddy." Fara chuckled. "Besides if you didn't want to deal with the mess why did you come on board?"
"You brought me here, remember." The rat groused. "I was enjoying the sun and sea and fixing air conditioners and then some people in fancy pyjamas drag me to this."
"You came didn't you?" Fara said heading for the exit.
"That's because they said there'd be free food and booze on the trip." Knackt said following after her.
Harry and Michelle set up the transporter enhancers and Harry kept and eye on Doirya they worked and Karna looked warily at the airlock doors.
"What do those things do, they look like coat racks." Doirya said flatly.
"Preparation for the future." Harry said activating one of the enhancers.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Doirya growled annoyed.
"It means, I know what you are thinking about doing, I know what I would do in your situation." Harry said flatly. "I also know that I don't want to go up in a nuclear fireball either. If you think it's necessary to recover and use those things, I want to be able to get back to my ship and I would be willing to offer you a ride as well."
"What should I do?" Doirya said her voice cracking a little. "Those things out there killed my crew and for all I know they are what's causing the disasters back home. Of course as soon as i can I am going to get those devices and detonate every last one of them and send those things back to whatever created them!"
"Are you telling me that those warheads can do that?" Harry said stoping his work.
"They are specially designed to destroy the entire astral body if need be yes." Doirya replied. "Through a highly sophisticated chain reaction they can atomise this entire planatoid in a matter of moments."
"Great bird of the Galaxy…." Michelle gasped, she understood enough about n uclear reactions from her own field of study that just a quick run of the numbers in her head told her of the immense power.
"You seemed shocked, I take it you didn't bother to really look over Karna's warp ship reactors did you?" Doirya said with grim amusement. "Kestor, cracked the atom a few centuries ago, and mastered it. We had no need for space travel until recently. Perhaps in a few years we could even match that ship of yours or better it."
Harry and Michells stood mouths agape for a moment.
"Well I have to say I'm impressed but do you really think killing the moon, will be the end of your problems?" Harry said.
"We've already made preparations in relocating our poulaces to higher elevations in order to avoid the tidal shifts."
"Oh really and just how many Kistorians are on your home world?" Harry asked.
"Twelve billion." Karna said quietly.
"So you are going to get all 12 billion people on your world moved to safety and no one will be drowned when the world's oceans suddenly go haywire because there is no moon, not to mention the shower of potential debris that could destroy your worlds ecosystem.?"
Doirya chewed her lip.
"That's what i thought." Harry said disgustedly. "Things are different out here among the stars, things aren't always what they seem, just because something seems a threat, you need to when you have the time, like now. Take a step back and look at the situation." Harry said. "I know you have your orders and I understand that but there is something here, something important, we are just not seeing it."
"We don't have time for this everytime one of those quakes happen they are just as bad." Doirya replied. "We don't have time to sit here and argue about what should or shouldn't be done!"
Just then another quaked hit and they braced themselves.
Knackt and Fara braced themselves as the landing struts and took the brunt of the shock and the deck pitched and heaved.
"Geeze that was a big one." Knackt said seeing the raptors power flicker a bit mainly because it was on the back up generators being landed. "How long are they planning on staying perched on this rock."
"As long as they need to be Knackt we have our own problems." Fara said, regaining her footing and heading for the injector room. "We've got our own problems."
"Yeah it's always something wit' these engines." Knackt said. "One almost could think' they're cursed."
"They aren't cursed, just… eccentric." Fara said opening the door and stepping inside. First thing she noticed was she couldn't even see the warp coils through the viewport. "That's.. Weird." she said noticing something seemed to be obscuring the viewports.
"What in the world is that, it looks like… dirt or i dunno." Knackt said peering up at it.
Fara checked the read out and it showed that something was blocking the injectors almost completely. "What in the hell is this stuff." She said, noticing that it seemed to be moving and writhing a bit. "It almost looks solid."
"It looks like dirt, what'd we do suck in a bunch of crap when we landed?"" Knackt ask.
"What moon dust?" Fara chuckled. "I doubt it, the bussard collectors would have filtered that out." Fara mused. She leaned close to the window and took a small mallet out of her pocket, if this problem was some sort of dust contamination a small tap should prove it. She took the small mallet and gave the glass a quick rap.
The vibration did cause a change but not what she expected, suddenly she was staring down a maw filled with what looked like razor sharp teeth and some strange beak. The creature then began to smash against the glass which started to crack.
"Knackt… um… we need to…"
"Go yeah I'm leaving now!" Knackt said bolting for the exit.
They barely got through the door when they heard the glass shatter and heavy bodies thudding onto the deck. The computer shrieked a warning about atmospheric pressure as they booked it down the corridor as they heard the doors breach and felt a rush of air. Thankfully the computer threw up and emergency forcefield after they passed the emitter array.
"Computer seal off deck 3 section 5 through 7 immediately. Authorisation Phoenix Alpha four." Fara panted.
"Acknowledged." The computer responded. "Intruder alert deck five section 8, security respond immediately."
"Damn we didn't stop all of them." Knackt huffed.
"Come on let's get to engineering and seal it off before they get around to us."
"Right." Knackt replied as she bolted past him back for engineering. As they ran they could hear the things chattering and moving behind them and as soon as they got back they sealed all the doors to engineering. The crew was on duty right now and she knew that aside for the back half of the ship deck 3 was mostly a ghost town save for the night shift but the general security protocols should keep them safe locking their doors in place.
"Engineering, what is going on down there?" Rivas' voice came over the com.
"We're being invaded, these big moon creatures are running amuck all over deck three."
Rivas paused for a moment. "We'll do what we can, we may have to lift off, it looks like they are trying to just pile in there."
"I have sealed engineering, whatever you are going to do you had better do it."
"Mr. Land prepare to lift off, Ms. Lu patch me through to the Captain." Rivas ordered. "Jakar you might want to see if you can get down there and work on clearing those things off the ship."
"Gladly sir." Jakar replied, leaving the bridge and calling for a security team.
"Channel open, sir." Terri responded.
"Captain Martinez it appears we have a bug problem, somehow the creatures that are crawling over the surface have found a way to get into the vessel we have them contained for now but I am taking the ship into orbit so we can clear them out."
"Understood." Harry replied. "I think we are safe down here for now, I have the transporter enhancers set up already if we need to beam out. Keep me apprised on your situation."
"We will sir, good luck." Rivas said motioning to Terri to cut the channel. "Take us up Mr. Land."
"You got it up we go." Jack said typing in the commands and activating the thrusters and impulse engines.
The Raptor slowly began to lift off the surface of the moon although it was still crawling with the creatures all over it's hull swarming about it.
Jakar, Sonya Jax and two others approached the forcefield that held back the creatures as they slammed against it and it held.
"Ugly buggers aren't they?" Sonya said checking her phaser rifle making sure it was fully charged.
"Yeah they are and the Commander ordered them cleared." Jakar grunted. "Set rifles to phase variance 1012.64." The others responded, understanding that Jakar wanted them to modulate their shots so they passed through the forcefield. "Computer, as we advance and push the creatures back, re establish force fields."
"Stun only." Jakar said hefting his rifle. "Fire."
The phasers fired but as the beams lanced out the creatures burst into flames and started burning and thrashing about as the beams hit them.
This caused Jakar to pause a moment, it wasn't the effect he was going for but the other creatures seemed to start to back away. "Let 'em have it!" He said firing off more shots igniting even more of the creatures. The ones that caught fire quickly exploded into embers leaving crunchy carbonized chunks as they pressed forward pushing the creatures back.
"Fara what's the status on the engines?" Rivas said over the com.
"Not good, both of the plasma injectors appear to be clogged with those things." Fara replied.
"Well is there anyway to unclog them?" Rivas asked. "We may need the warp engines and the power they provide if we need to break orbit quickly."
"I am well aware of that but the only way we could clean those things out of there is to start a plasma fire in the engine housings and burn them out." Fara said. "Much like how you'd clear out a Zork infestation on a space liner back home. However, with as rough shape as our engines are in I wouldn't recommend it."
"Fara you and I both know what the Captain would order if he was in my position."
Fara sighed. "Flooding the nacelles with drive plasma now." she sighed watching her instruments and placing her hand over the nacelle cowling extender controls. It was a risky procedure under any circumstance. "Let me know when we are in orbit and i'll start the process."
"How soon till we get into orbit Mr. Land." Rivas asked.
"About 2 minutes. I would like to remind you that doing this without warp power is going to severely drain our impulse fuel tanks." Jack said matter of factly.
"I'm aware." Rivas said. "Just get us to orbit."
Land nodded and kept his mind at the task of keeping the Raptor above the moon's surface.
Harry paced around the maintenance bay occasionally glancing out the view port at the creatures scurrying around outside and hearing them strike the hull.
"Are you sure they can't get in here?" He asked Doirya.
"It's reinforced duranium at least a meter thick." Doirya sighed. "We should be fine."
"So what do we do?" Karna asked.
"We can't do anything till daylight, my ship has taken off." Harry said. "So here we sit for now, we may as well get cozy."
"Cozy?" O'mara said.
"Well we need rest, if we're safe, we need to wait until the sunlight comes back and drives those… creature off." Harry said sitting on the crate. "Anyone got anything to eat?"
"Eat, are you serious?" Doirya said scoffing.
"Rules of survival, we have shelter and plenty of air, the nasties are out there, food and water are left."
Doirya grumbled something under her breath.
"There might be a synthesiser in the break area I can go check." Karna said speaking up.
"Lieutenant would you mind accompanying her?" Harry asked.
"No, not at all." Michelle said grabbing her phaser and heading off with Karna.
"How do you do it." Doirya said after the left.
"You act so relaxed and death is literally a few meters away from us."
"Oh, I'm far from relaxed, I'm just experienced." Harry said rubbing his hands together. "Out there in the deeper darkness this becomes about a monthly experience. Part of the so called fun of strange new worlds, and seeking new life and new civilisations."
"You can't be serious." Doirya said dismissively.
"Honestly, we were on our way home after getting catapulted halfway across the quadrant due to my own overloading of our engine core to keep us from crashing into a star." Harry chuckled darkly. "All this while my crew and myself was under the thrall of some bizarre disease that made us all act like a bunch of lunatics that nearly wiped us out. Don't worry we were able to get rid of it. We wouldn't be having this conversation if there was even a chance that could happen."
"Much appreciated." Doirya said looking a bit horrified. "So… our situation is.."
"Oh it's definitely raising the bar." Harry replied. "There is more going on than either one of us is aware of unfortunately." Harry said his thoughts returning to Coyote whom was surprisingly not harassing him.
"It sounds like you deal with a lot." Doirya said.
"It's not always that way, just seems to be a trend lately. Most of the time it's pretty boring." Harry shrugged. Harry saw she seemed a bit distracted. "So tell me, what led you to become an astronaut?"
Doirya smiled and ran her hand over her headfur. "It's not that great of a story. I spent a career doing it, was on the verge of retirement when the disasters struck. I lost my mate and my home when the tidal surges begun. When they called for volunteers to do this I jumped on the opportunity."
"I'm sorry." Harry consoled her.
"Things happen." Doirya said sadly looking at the ground. "I have grand children, I am doing this for them, I want them to have a future if I can't."
Harry thought it over. "I take it the bombs aren't your idea?"
"No they aren't but I have my duty and my orders, you can understand that. I fully intend to carry out both unless this situation improves."
Harry scoffed. "Do you really think it will work?"
"Let me show you something." Doirya said getting up. "Come follow me."
"One moment." He tapped his combadge. "Martinez to O'mara."
"Yes?" O'mara's voice replied.
"Captain Doirya is going to show me something, we will be back shortly."
"How far are you g.. Going?" Michelle asked over the speaker.
"Not Far." Doirya replied. "It's another section connected to this one as well protected as well. We should be safe from the creatures."
"J.. just be careful." O'mara replied.
"We are now in orbit." Land reported.
"Good." Rivas said. "Engineering this is the bridge begin the purge."
"Roger, this might get a bit rough." Fara said hitting the switch to open the warp nacells and igniting the drive plasma.
Flames leapt from the exposed warp field grills on the Raptor's engines instantly vaporizing the swarm of creatures in both engines.
Everyone on board hung on as the expulsion of plasma shook the ship. Land struggled with the controls to try to keep the Raptor from losing its orbit.
Fara shut down the process and ran a quick diagnostic. "Looks like we are bug free bridge, I am going to send a repair crew down to clear the injectors if deck 3 is clear."
"Understood, Rivas to Jakar, what's your status?" Rivas said from the bridge.
Jakar and his team stood over the smoldering remains of the last of the creatures. "The intruders have been routed for the most part we are still clearing the deck?"
"None as of yet it was just a hell of a fight." Jakar replied.
"More like shootin' fish in a barrel." Sonya muttered. The other two security officers with them nodded in agreement.
"Good. Get back up here as soon as we can." Riva ordered.
"Understood Commander." Jakar replied. "Tend to cleaning up this mess." He ordered.
"With what? A broom and a dustpan?" Sonya said exasperated.
"Follow standard containment procedures." Jakar grunted. "I need to return to the bridge."
"Aye, I suppose so, Come on lads lets get to cleaning these damn things up." Sonya groused. "Remma go get some suits."
"Right." Of the security officers said heading down the corridor.
Doirya led him over to a lift which they boarded and then rode it down to a lower level. Lights came on as they did illuminating a reinforced subterranean chamber with what looked like sophisticated drilling equipment
"One of the first expeditions to our moon took extensive geological samples to study it. That's how this cavern was made." Doirya explained. "We bored down as far as we could until we hit not a core but something else." She walked over to a rack of samples. She turned on a light and pointed to a jar of strange brackish orange fluid. "The moon appears to be filled with this strange quasi organic sludge, it's almost like a type of oil of some sort. Tests show it to be highly combustible and reactive." Doirya said mana of factly. "Further tests and scans show practically the entire moon is filled with it. Those bombs up there." She said gesturing in the approximate direction of where the warheads lie. "Are enough to at least minimise some of the damage to Kistor upon detonation."
"It's still a hell of a risk." Harry said scanning the Jar and musing over the strange readings it was presenting. "Thank you for showing me this, I would like my ship to take a look at it."
"Sure." Doirya replied.
Something about the strange orange liquid reminded Harry of something, but he couldn't put a word to it. The ground beneath their feet shook again, only slightly this time causing the power to flicker.
"We should probably go." Harry said heading for the lift.
"No argument here." Doirya replied.
Once they returned to the generator deck, Harry took the canister and walked over to the transporter enhancers.
'Sir? Where are you going." Michelle asked.
"I have a hunch and i'm getting to the bottom of this mess." Harry replied.
"What do I do."
"You stay here with the others, make sure they don't do anything… rash." He said activating the enhancers.
"You me.. Me.. mean the nuclears?"
Harry nodded. "I leave the situation in your more than capable hands, Lieutenant." He activated the com channel on his suit. "Martinez to Raptor, are you available for transport."
"We are sir.."
"Good one to beam up."
"Wh.. wh.. When will you be back?!" O'mara asked.
"When I have an answer." Harry said as the transporter beam snatched him away.
"So that's it, he's just gone?" Doriya smirked.
"Y… y.. Yes. For now." O'mara replied a bit frustrated.
"Will he be back?" Karna asked.
"Probably." O'mara said, she never knew him to run off so far and not come back. He was just going to the ship he'd be back soon enough.
"Well once the sun comes up in the next few hours I will need help getting those bombs in here. I expect some help." Doirya said to Karna. "You can if you want I won't make you."
"I can k. K.. kep watch."
"Good enough, I suggest we try to get some rest, we move out at first light."
Harry exited the transporter Room just as Fara arrived.
"I'm glad your back Captain, we've got all kinds of problems with the engines."
Harry nodded and motioned for her to follow him as he headed for a turbolift to get down to sickbay. "Let's hear it."
"That little infestation has got the nacelles are all messed up I have my crews working on cleaning out the mess but it's going to take some time to get the job properly done." Fara sighed as they stopped at a turbolift.
"Will we have warp drive?" He asked.
"Probabaly once we get all the charred creature bits out of there." Fara said as the turbolift arrived and it's doors parted and they stepped inside. Harry allowed her to enter first and then he followed.
"Get those engines back on line as fast as you can chief is that understood ." Harry scowled. "We may need Warp power sooner than later if my guess is correct."
"Sure, I'll do what I can, you know that." Fara sighed.
The lift slid to a stop and Fara got out first but she turned back to Harry. "You know, you shouldn't scowl so much, it looks like your eyebrows are going to fall off." She headed down the corridor towards engineering.
Harry's expression softened a little.
"She is quite the fetching wench, I can see why you like her." He heard Coyotes voice behind him.
"Not.. Now." Harry hissed heading for sickbay but he heard Coyote fall into step beside him.
"And what do you hope to accomplish with that little jar of good their Captain? Don't you know that your time is running out?" Coyote said tauntingly.
"I have a hunch, that is all I am pursuing." Harry said not even glancing over at him, quickiening his pace towards sickbay.
"And while you are up here dilly dallying around more and more Kistorians suffer and die on the world below, I'm sure they appreciate your…" He suddenly stoped as Harry's fist collided with his snout causing him to stumble back into the wall, and slid down onto his haunches with a look of shock.
"Go away you insufferable son of a bitch and let me work!" Harry snapped.
"You….." Coyote said seeing blood come out of his nose which was simply damage to his assumed corporeal form that didn't really harm him. "You hit me!?"
Harry flexed his fingers with a smug look of satisfaction, he'd never punched a god like entity before, he was sure that the shock and stunned look from Coyote was more out of the share impudence of his action than actual pain. "You want me to pass your test? Let me do it my way and stop bothering me, so would you kindly, SOD OFF."
Coyote looked hurt but got back to his feet and straightened his out fit, smoothed his headfur and whipped the blood from his snout. "Very well, Captain." He sniffed. "I shall watch from afar." he made a gesture with his hand and disappeared in a flash.
Harry turned and entered into sickbay where he found Doctor oOkan.
"Greetings Captain, how can I help you?" Doctor Okan said.
"I need an analysis of this… stuff." Harry said.
"What is it?"
"It's a type of fluid that was found under the crust of the Kistorian moon." Harry replied.
"Looks like some type of Oil… hmm how unusual." Okan said taking the canister and turning it. "Let's take it to the lab and see what we can find out. Follow me please."
They wen't down to the labs below sickbay and Doctor Okan sat the canister in probably the most sophisticated of analysis machines that the raptor contained. It had been installed prior to the mission they did for Doctor Cordell and were allowed to keep it on the ship afterwards. Harry was grateful for that, the Raptor was severely lacking when it came to decent scientific research equipment.
He waited while Okan set to work. "Did Ms. O'mara make any findings on this."
"I didn't really give her the chance." Harry said. "My guts are telling me we needed and answer hours ago. I left her down there to make sure the Kistoran's don't blow up their moon.
"So left her with the easy job I see." Okan said firing up the equipment.
"Doctor, I am not in the mood.". Harry groused.
"You rarely are when you bring me a problem.". Okan said starting to run some scans on the materials. "This will take some time you, might want to get comfortable." Okan said off handedly.
"Not really feeling too relaxed, our overseer paid me a visit and I decked him out of frustration." Harry relented.
"You are still here breathing." Okan replied.
"I think only for the sheer fact that I did it and he wasn't expecting it, might be the only reason why. That and I sincerely doubt I did hurt him, but damn did it feel good."
After about an hour on which they spent the time idly chatting the analysis started to produce data and they began to pour over it. Harry was glad that Coyote hadn't bothered to return or start harassing him again but he was sure it wasn't the end of it.
"What is very strange is this material is almost quasi organic, it's almost like a type of petroleum but that makes no sense due to the moons overall geological make up." Doctor Okan said looking over it.
Harry looked at the readout too. "Have our science teams bothered to scan the moon at all since we've been down there."
"Yes they have strangely enough readings indicating that there is quite a significant amount of some sort of fluid inside the moon it only goes down a few miles to whatever the core is, that as of yet we have been able to determine, it just keeps shifting."
"The cause of your earthquakes." Doctor Okan replied.
"And we can't get a fix on it." Harry said deep in thought. "Doctor I have a really crazy idea I want to bounce off of you. It's something that's been nagging at me since we got here, something I remember from a long time ago."
"What's that sir?"
"When I was younger my mother kept, Kukroos for their eggs, she'd also sell them, I used to like to try to watch the eggs hatch when the time came so I'd check on them daily." Harry mused. "I know this sounds crazy, what if that moon. Is an egg and that thing is alive, and those strange creatures are some sort of.. Defense system."
"That's a fascinating theory, sir." Doctor Okan said. "Might I add something."
"What is that."
"If it is a gargantuan egg, and something is starting to hatch, I would look for cracks, and more of this. Because if it is an amniotic fluid of sorts it would be present."
"The sun will be up in a few hours and it will be safe to go down." Harry said. "Then we go looking for those cracks."
Michelle, Karna and Doirya went out as planned and retrieved the atomics. Michelle wasn't too thrilled but assisted anyway. The three of them were able to move them into the base unhindered thanks to the light that drove the creatures away. Once inside Doirya had the devices moved down to the drill level and connected to the base computer.
As they worked several more tremors hit causing the whole facility to shake under their feet.
Harry and Jakar walked along the moons surface in environmental suits.
"Sir what exactly are we looking for?" Jakar asked.
"A crack." Harry said offhandedly looking at his tricorder. "There was some evidence of severe tectonic upheaval in this area I want to take a look at it."
"As you wish sir, it just seems like a waste of time."
"It's not a waste of time I am looking for answers." Harry said looking up spotting a fissure up ahead. He quickly stowed his tricorder and swapped it for a torch. "Over there." He said bounding towards it. Jakar followed behind him.
One they arrived he could see the glinting off the creatures crystalline features as they lurked in the darkness of the fissure all about it was the strange webbing but none of them dared to move out into the sunlight.
"Don't get too close." Harry said looking at the ground. "They don't like the sunlight it burns them like the phaser does. They should leave us alone."
Jakar glared and kept his weapon aimed at the fissure with a wide spread.
Harry found what he was looking for, the strange substance was scattered all over this place leading from the fissure. "I think whatever is going on here it's all connected, those beasties over there and this." He said scooping up some of the substance with his glove. "This moon isn't just a moon." Harry grinned. "It's alive, and more then that, it's a new life just waiting to be born."
"What about Kistor?" Jakar asked.
"I am not sure." Harry said. "I have a hunch it may work out in the end, but we won't know until it happens. I need to get back to the moon base."
"Are you insane?" Doirya said.
"No i'm not but all the evidence points towards that this moon is alive." Harry said.
Doirya laughed but was not really amused. "Captain this thing, if that's what it is, has killed untold numbers of our people and wreaked deviation upon our world. Baby or not I am going to complete my mission, I can't let this go on.
The ground quaked again and they all braced themselves. "It's a new lifeform, something neither your people or mine have ever seen before." Harry replied. "Part of our mission is to seek out new life, I am not going to condemn it, it could be the last of its kind for all we know."
"You can examine what's left after it's destroyed." Doirya hissed.
"You don't even know if it will work, you could cause more devastation with that device than you could possibly imagine!" Harry implored.
"I have my orders!" Doirya snapped.
"It's an infant, a baby, and you just want to murder it before it even has a chance?" Harry said, trying to restrain his anger at the Kistorian.
Doirya said nothing and completed the final connections to set up the detonation of the atomic device. "Are you finished?" She hissed.
"Fine." Harry relented. "Do what you will but I'll have no part in it. You have made your up mind regardless of what I say. We'll provide passage off the moon regardless but I implore you to change your. mind. Lieutenant,Ms. Karna let's return to the Raptor." He said to O'mara
"I want to stay." Karna said.
"Me too sir." O'mara replied.
Harry looked at her questioningly. "Are you sure Lieutenant?"
"N..n...no.. but i think I should." Harry smiled and nodded. "Very well, keep an open com channel." He headed for the transporter enhancers. "I suppose it isn't my place anyway, I've said my piece and it will be noted in the log, Martinez to Raptor, one to beam up."
With that he disappeared as the transporter beam pulled him away.
"You should have gone with him." Doirya said, activating the countdown. "I am staying here till this goes off, that was the plan, I am going to see it through."
"Was that your orders?" Karna asked.
"No." Doirya said sadly. "I lost my husband and children to this thing. I have no desire to return to whatever may happen after this goes off."
"I'm sorry for you loss." O'mara said. "But are you totally sure this is what needs to happen?"
"Are you Married? Children?" Doirya asked.
"N.. n.. No." O'mara replied.
"Then you have no idea what I went through. You are still just a child. And you Karna, I know you just started a family, don't you want a future for your offspring?"
"I do but.." Karna said. "Even I am beginning to doubt that this is the right course of action.
"It… just doesn't feel right." Karna said wringing her hands.
"You believe that nonsense he was spouting?" Doirya scoffed.
"It's not nonsense." O'mara interjected. "I've known Commander Martinez for some time, he doesn't just headlong buy into risky notions."
"It's not impossible." Michelle replied. "The Confederation has encountered many space borne organisms. This one is just outside of our knowledge. One like this is something new and undiscovered. We should study it, understand it."
"Not after the cost I and my world have paid." Doirya snapped furiously.'
"Look all we have tried to do is is is help you and all you have done has fought us ever st.. step of the way and now the one man who can help you has left!" Michelle interjected. "Would you please,,"
"Well that's his prerogative mow isn't it." Doirya said, cutting her off. "Why don't you run along after him and let me do my job."
"WILL YOU LET ME FINISH." O'mara snapped, clenching her feathered talons for the first time since her outburst with Harry while infected with the polyvirus.
That seemed to rebuff Doirya a bit. Michelle glanced at the counter and then a the abort button on the device as it slowly counted down. "I know I am just an outsider and I can't possibly understand what you have gone through but you are letting your pain blind you to the bigger picture." She continued, amazed that this sudden surge of belligerence had all but eliminated her stutter. "I do know this, if you murder this innocent creature, what does that make you? It's ignorant, it doesn't know what it's doing, it's probably just going off instinct. Whatever put it here probably didn't mean to cause so much harm. It's just a lifeform, trying to survive doing what it does. The galaxy is a big, wondrous place and believe me there are a lot worse things out there. For all you know it's very existence could be what triggered the evolution of your own people, and you just want to kill it before it has a chance?"
Doirya's resolve seemed to crack a bit and she said nothing backing up and leaning against the control panel.
"I think we should take the chance, see what happens." Karna spoke up. "The bomb is very risky, you know it, I know it. The fallout alone could cause untold ecological damage to our world that we may not recover from. I don't want my son growing up in a devastated wasteland of what was." she walked carefully over to Doirya and placed her hand on her shoulder. "What do we have to lose."
Doirya said nothing and took a few deep breaths, deep in thought, eyes fixed on the floor. "It's madness, the repercussions for not carrying out the mission we could be tried, imprisoned or worse executed for our failure."
"If there's no one left, who is going to carry it out?" Karna said smiling.
The ground quaked again more severely and power began to fail. However this time it was steady and it went on for way longer before it ebbed away. Through the viewports in the bay the could see parts of the crust starting to break away in the distance.
"It's starting.." O'mara said nervously. "We probably should get going. Now or never."
Doirya cursed under her breath and walked over to the device and shut it off. The device powered itself down and became inert.
Michelle let out a sigh of relief seeing there was only roughly less than a few minutes left.
"If you are wrong…." She hissed at the other two as there was a buzz of transporter energy behind them from the pattern enhancers. Harry stood there. "All of you, get over here now!"
They all quickly scrambled between the emitters as another massive quake struck the structure however this time it was more than it could bear and it quickly collapsed in a matter of moments.
Harry and led the three of them to the mess hall where the shutter were open, the Raptor had moved far enough away that the moon Kistor's moon could be seen in full view.
Fissures appeared along the moons surface and it started to break apart.
"We analyzed the substance you found below the moon's surface." He explained to Doirya and Karna. "With the right catalyst it will cause the surface chunks to for lack of a better word, disintegrate."
They watched as something began to emerge from the disintegrating form of the moon as it collapsed into a haze of galactic dust. "If you had used that atomic device, it would have done way more harm than good." He said handing her a data pad that was already translated into Kitor so they could read it.
Doirya looked at the data in amazement, he was right if anything the nuclear reaction would have been devastating. "Why'd it take you so long to get this information.?
"If you want to do something right you have to give it some time." Harry replied seeing a winged for of a giant illueneent being resembling some sort of butterfly unfurling itself its size was unfathomable and it stretched it's wings and then began to drift slowly off into the cosmos.
"Why did it take so long for you to figure this out?" Doirya asked, watching the creature drift slowly out of sight.
"Because we wanted to be certain we were right." Harry replied. "Now take a long good look, because you are probably not going to see anything like that again." He said smiling and admiring the creature.
"Everyone Look!" Karna said pointing to something directing their gaze to it.
As the interstellar dust began to drift away something caught a glint of light from Kistor's sun. In its place just like there had been before floated another moon, however it was smooth and shiny unlike its predecessor and it's surface gleamed brightly reflecting the sunlight off it's surface.
Harry suddenly heard clapping behind him and he turned and saw Coyote sitting on the bar. "Very Good Captain, you passed your little test with flying colors."
Harry held up his hand to silence the others who seemed shocked and confused and approached the intruder.
"I am glad to hear that, sorry about the nose."
Coyote took his gloves off and stowed them in his pocket, smirked and hopped off the bar.
"Think nothing of it, Captain." He then looked over to Michelle. "Well done to you as well fair maiden if not for you, well, there'd be a lot to answer for."
Michelle blushed under her feathers but didn't say anything.
"You really do like messing with people don't you?" Coyote said grinning at Harry. "Using your words to get people to do things they wouldn't imagine themselves doing. Very good Captain we may have more in common than you know. So with that being said, you may all continue your little journey through the stars without my interference… for the most part."
"What do you mean by that?" Harry asked.
Coyote smirked. "Oh we will meet again Captain, but for now our time is up." He said, taking a dramatic bow. "Keep your nose clean, and remember, I will always be watching." He smiled sinisterly before disappearing in a flash of light.
Captains Log: Stardate 34804.20
It's been nearly a week but a convoy of ships has arrived from confederation space full of supplies, aid and diplomats to negotiate Kistor's possible joining of becoming a member. In the meantime the Raptor and her crew have done what they can to help until then. My people are tired but willing to aid the Kistorians, yet very relieved to have backup. The final stages of the creatures hatching had caused no further damage to the world and despite a lot of devastation along the coastal cities that had mostly been evacuated they would recover in time with our help.
The entity known as Coyote has done as promised and has not bothered us any further. Personally, I hope it stays that way but I know that probably isn't the last we'll see of him. I suppose I'll deal with it when the time comes, for now. We are preparing to get underway at warp six it's gong to be a few days to get home and I think we are all looking forward to getting back to normal after all we've been through recently.
He signed the log padd and handed it to Terri-Lu who went to transmit it to starfleet headquarters. "I don't know about the rest of you but I am looking forward to getting back to the normal grind."
"I agree, Captain." Rivas said. "I think we've had enough adventure to last us a good while."
"Personally," Land spoke up. "Convoy duty is looking really good right about now."
"I'm sure you will also return to complaining about it soon enough when we do." Jakar groused.
"Feh." Fara said glaring at her readouts and wondering why the warp field and plasma injector system was showing some strange anomalous readings again. "At least you don't he to clean up the mess afterwards. Captain, I recommend we put in for some serious work when we get back."
"Is it anything major?"
"It could be." She said watching the readings suddenly level out and scowling. "Something is not quite right with my engines and I don't like it. We have been through an awful lot of wear and tear lately."
"I trust you'll get it figured out." Harry said confidently
Fara shrugged. "I'll be in engineering if anyone needs me." She said logging out of her terminal and leaving the bridge.
"Mr. Land set a course for home." Harry ordered. "Warp Six."
"Aye sir, Course set and laid in."
Deep inside the bowels of the ship on the primary starboard plasma conduit the dark and cramped area was suddenly lit up as superheated plasma started to leak out of a pin hole. However a swarm of repair nanites quickly patched it again the leak was repaired and the light extinguished.
A few minutes passed and it happened again although the whole was slightly bigger this time if only by a few microns, again the repair systems responded and repaired the damage.
This time the repair held for longer, but then the process again, repeated itself, growing slightly larger again….
if only a tiny nearly immeasurable amount….
Each and every time..