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Part of USS Helios: Echoes in the Weeds and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

By the Light of the Tramlines (pt. 2)

USS Helios, Location Unknown
09.2401
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“Sound off!” a voice announced across the expansive shuttle bay, echoing deep into the edgeless gloom, interrupted only by dashed stripes of the emergency illumination recessed into the deck. Glowing studs of fine amber light stretched out through the dark, creating a labyrinth of alleys and avenues that hummed with low warm energy. 

“All hands, sound off!” the voice reached out again, ricocheting off bulkheads and hull plates and consoles, disappearing into the dim light like a dozen chattering voices. A tinge of panic hung to the last consonant, compounded by the numerous echoes that chased it across the tiny tributaries of light. 

“I’m here… Astris … by… the main… console.” Oshira choked out, her voice breathy and broken, each long sound creeping with a sinister hiss of her broken respirators. The elder Barzan woman had been helping prep the next flight of shuttles for the sensor experiment, and was now huddled against the long workbench, her tools scattered across the dark deck surface. “Come… to… me.” she hissed; her throat full of serpents.

The sound of scraping boots and stumbling limbs spread across the room, several bodies, several people. 

“Keep going, sound off.” Astris instructed once more, the revelation of Oshira’s consciousness steeling her earlier twitch of panic. 

“I’m coming boss-lady, stop hurrying me.” Circe replied, her normal bravado thin, quiet grunts accentuating her footfalls as she struggled to shake off the pain that seemed to reach into her bones. “Honestly, you’re so demanding.”

“Someone has to keep you in line.” Astris shouted, the barest hint of smile twitching her lips, no doubt Circe’s intention. Tracking the candle like avenues of light she turned left and then left again, rounding the rear end of the runabout they had been working on when the world seem to shake from its axis. It stood, statue-like, moored to the deck, thankfully the magnetic constrictors had held when the gravity had shifted. Padding her way along the small craft she looked for the telltale sign on the workbench’s emergency lighting cluster. But there was nothing, the amber tram lines creating stitches across the grey deck plates. 

“I’m getting flash backs to Titan?” a fourth voice, Merope appeared from the shadows rounding the front end of the runabout, a large green streak of dried blood running down the front of her face. “Remember those navigational tests on the night side?” She rolled her eyes dramatically.

“I remember having to pick you up of the ice.” Astris chided, Heliades flight wing had spent several months on Titan and its sibling moons undertaking training and team building prior to deployment with Helios. One semi-official test had involved navigating the ice canyons that spidered across the surface Titan using only the blinking lights of the nav markers. Merope had spent several weeks in sickbay before flight had decided to remove it from the battery of tests. 

“I’m sorry we’re not all at one with the universe.” the young woman spit, her untamed Vulcan side creeping along her tongue. 

“It’s not about being at one…” Astris words caught in her throat as Circe emerged from the amber glow, the Bolian woman’s head sporting a nasty looking laceration as she hobbled towards the pair. 

“Don’t stop on my account.” She joked, clutching her side as she coughed, her other hand reaching out to steady herself on the runabout. “Titan?” she smiled, looking towards Astris, her big eyes pleading the other woman to continue with the habitual good-natured bickering that marked their sisterlike relationship. 

“Ashra should be over there.” Astris motioned towards a gentle glow of white light that spilled from under the stair way to shuttle bay operations, casting a glow at odds with the amber tramlines. 

Slinging her blue skinned sister’s arm over her shoulders Merope took her weight as the three of them continued onward into the deepening gloom, leaving the safety of their rest stop behind. “I’m just saying, those nav lights hadn’t been serviced in a decade, easy…”


“It should be a cluster of isolinear chips, probably five green ones and finishing with a sixth yellow one.”

“That’s quite generic, Lieutenant.” Bahir said as he pushed his torso further into the open panel, brushing aside clusters of cable in search of the bank of computing chips. 

“Maybe, but this one has a secondary bank of odn relays beneath it. The chips in that should be reversed.” Oyvo pushed her thumbs into her temples, calling on the blueprints she had committed to memory during their days in dock at DS47. “It may or may not be upside down.”

“Why would it be upside down?”

Oyvo smiled as she rubbed the pulsing pain in her head that only grew as she tried to recall the information. Bahir was a capable officer, as proven by his current role as temporary XO, but his engineering knowledge extended to his tactical systems, the idiosyncrasies of day to day engineering were often a mystery to him. Something he hoped to remedy with his after-hours sessions with the young Xindi woman “Because it sort-of fits better that way round.”

“It fits better?” Bahir’s voice echoed through the wall panels he snaked behind, the Saurian’s muscular coral body squeezed like a pancake. 

“Yeah, the mounting blocks don’t match up with…”  the throbbing in her head became sharp, racing across her brow like acidic lightning. 

“Are you okay Lieutenant?” Bahir was already beginning to reverse course to extract himself out of the nest of cabling. 

“I’m fine. I’m fine.” She waved to the pair of legs stretching out of the open panel. “Can you see it?”

“Yes. The final chip appears to be cracked.”

“That’ll be the problem. Here.” Picking up a large yellow chip she passed it through the hole, feeling the Saurian’s cool scales touching against her fingers as they handed of the thin object.

“I am replacing it… now” Light suddenly flooded the compartment, the overhead panels chasing each other out from the small junction room and beyond the doorway onto the adjacent bridge, where several crew members let out groans as they reached up to guard their eyes from the sudden illumination. 

“It appears to have worked, Sir.” She sighed with relief, establishing what was going on would be a lot better now they could see properly. 

“I’m glad I picked the right one.” Bahir muttered as he slid himself from the small opening, uncoiling himself serpent like from the tiny space.  

“Sir?”

“Well my night vision is a bit hazy with colours.” Bahir raised the cranial ridges where eyebrows might have been as he offered a confession. “It’s a bit embarrassing really.”

Oyvo’s mouth fell open. “If you’d swapped the wrong one you might have been electrocuted.”

“That would have been quite a shock.” He stared blankly back at her with his large yellow eyes, before turning and making his way towards the doors to the bridge, grabbing a nearby cloth to remove the accumulated dirt from his hands. “Come Lieutenant, we have work to do.”

Oyvo pushed herself to her feet as the wide shoulders of the normally stoic security chief disappeared through the open doors. “Was that a joke sir?” she shouted, the pain in her head fading slightly as her hopes rose. 

Comments

  • This was a well one story about the way a crew can work together but still hold tension between them. Each character grows of the other and it is masterfully written. I think the use of such unique characters really drives your story that much more. A great piece with such a simple premise. I really enjoyed reading this! Keep up the awesome work!

    June 18, 2024
  • I adore the switch from serious in the last post to downright comedy here - we get a slight Marvel quip feeling here but it's not too much - it's just right. You really get the sense of the care and relationship these characters share with their back and forth - it's a genuine crew! That last section with the chip replacement had me howling - the deadpan delivery and then the "Was that a joke?" is just pitch perfect. I love the evolution of the story and am very invested in what happens next.

    June 18, 2024
  • This is a perfect example in my books for a good a solid character development. You can see how deeply bounded the characters are with each other and how they trust each other in the given situation. The Helios made quite the ride and yet they are able to comfort each other calmly and be able to fix what needs to be fixed. A wonderful story to read, looking forward to more!

    June 18, 2024
  • "Quite a shock" - that's a bad electrocution joke and you know it. Just...bad. Please, more like that. Some solid character development here and I particularly liked the comment about Bahir's eyes not being so good in low light. Which is based on some decent science. Character interactions are lovely too. I liked Astris and Circe as well at the start, talking away and keeping each other going. And there's a story in there too. We don't need to know all the details, just know they know the details. It's important to them and in this instance was a source of strength to reminisce about. Lovely piece.

    July 6, 2024