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Part of USS Douglas: Mission 2 – LOST and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

LOST 013 – Inside the Beast

USS Douglas
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“They’re beasts.”  Lieutenant Sadie Fowler muttered as she walked carefully through the alien ship. Three of the Hazard Team members surrounded her and Ensign Jake Shaw as they worked to explore and understand the newfound…enemy?  She wasn’t sure how to identify them. They’d clearly tore into Pandora Crawford’s crew without a second thought.  Four years from the Gamma Quadrant they knew and tolerated, this was a jarring situation at a minimum.  The reports on the weapons and the damage they had inflicted on the various humans and aliens on the Patra’s Downfall had been bothering since she’d been ordered to determine what they were dealing with.  The environmental systems, if there were any, were minimalistic.  They’d discovered gravity to be nearly non-existent, forcing them to activate their boots.  “The readings on the air contents are closer to a Borg ship than anything.”  They walked, examining what they thought were consoles.  She kept her distance, “This is so far from our understanding of computer operations – Jake?”

Shaw crouched near a wall-mounted unit, his face lost in the mystery.  “The Borg comparison isn’t that far off base.  From what I see, they connect to the systems via a…piece of their body.  This piece here,” he pointed as she sidled up beside him, “is nearly identical to what we’ve seen on the other stations.  The reason why this ship appears to be offline is because…it is. Without whatever they are instructing, whatever this is –  nothing happens.  I’ve attempted a few rudimentary access and hack techniques…no good.  You have to have the right biological connections to do anything.”

She groaned, “So we can’t get anything from it because we’re not it.”  She looked around, searching for anything to help them further understand the species.  Getting Pandora Crawford safely back to the Alpha Quadrant was the priority.  Fowler did have a healthy respect for justice and the power of the courts.  Pandora had done her best to test that theory with her enemies.

“We can do a stem-to-stern inspection, check out every inch – you never know what you’ll find in the unknown.”  He walked forward and continued scanning and examining.

 

“We called them “Species 953147.”  Baron Nine stood with Lieutenant Presley Atega on the other alien ship as they walked the triangular hallways.  “There was an initial contact from a scout ship a long time ago…they transmitted an initial report that was..garbled and confusing – an additional scout was launched and reported the first ship had been destroyed by weapons similar to what you found.”  Nine blinked as his mind processed the memories.  He had retained much of the knowledge he’d gained through The Collective.  “The second scout determined insufficient information to validate assimilation protocols.  It was marked for further investigation at a later time.”  He searched the history, “As of my last connection, that had not been scheduled.”

Atega was taking notes on her PADD, “How long ago was this?”

Nine replied, “Ten years.  Given the nature of the weapons and the unknown variables of the species, it is not unusual for The Collective to designate other targets more desirable for assimilation.”  He thought through his statement and amended it with, “This situation remains unusual.”

Atega agreed with him.  She was attempting to decipher the written language and what little of it was available.  “Unusual is a word for it.  This could be language or art – without something to compare it to – I’m not sure there’s a common connection between us on the surface level.  I’d have to study the language.”

Baron inclined his head as they continued, “There is some similarity among the signs and stations – that symbol is consistent.”  He pointed to a circular symbol with three triangles equidistant from each other.  “It is not found on the stations in the previous hallway.”  He walked further down the corridor and glanced down over a thin railing, “I believe I have found engineering.”  Atega walked up beside him, glancing down. 

She gasped, her stomach roiling as she belatedly understood what her eyes were seeing.  Running for a dark corner, she couldn’t stop the revulsion from expressing itself from her stomach to mouth to the floor, body shuddering at the image now burned into her retinas.  “Fuc…goddamn…merciful…” Another round of nausea swept over her, and she dry heaved the remains of her stomach.  “What in…I can’t.”

Baron clinically observed the bloody soup that swirled beneath – a steaming mass of bodies, marrow, and bones mixing with a volatile chemical that created what he theorized was the energy that powered the ship.  Scanning it with a tricorder revealed an unsettling reality – it could not differentiate between the various species within the large container.  He investigated further and found three more vats of a similar size in a similar state.  He returned to Atega, who was now standing, her face still blanched at the memory.

“I need to get to the shuttle.  I…don’t tell me.”  One of the Hazard team motioned for her to follow while the other followed Baron as he walked onwards.

 

“This is an insane idea.”  Captain Leopold Halsey stood in the bridge conference room, the plan displayed on the holo screen in the middle of the room.  He raised his hands, “I readily admit this is the best we’ve got – but it’s still crazy.”

Commander Hargraves agreed, “The way Pandora built that ship – it was intended to be incapable of being taken – what we can see and scan is a ship built like a high-security prison – they didn’t make it easy for Species 953147.”  He read through the plan again, “We’ll have phasers set to disintegrate in case any of them get creative.  Putting a small enough hole in the ceiling should give us enough connection to break through the interference and transport her aboard.”

Leopold scrolled back and forth through the report and mission proposal.  It would have been so easy to simply let Pandora Crawford die at the hands of her own hubris.  She’d amassed a blisteringly bloody balance sheet.  The decision might have been different if it had been up to him on his own.  But he was duty-bound as a Starfleet doctor and captain to do the right thing – the good thing and the righteous thing.  He had sworn an oath to the first and accepted the rules and regulations of the latter.  Halsey stood from the table as his interim XO followed suit, and they walked onto the bridge seconds later, where he tapped the console on the center chair, “Operations Pandora is activated.  All hands to your operation stations.  Secure all decks and engage lockdown procedures.”  The klaxons rang through the Douglas as officers locked down decks and stations from engineering to operations to the bridge. The enemy was an unknown beast with weapons that far outstripped their own.  If they were to escape with their lives and save Pandora Crawford, it would take all they had and more.  Halsey slid into the center chair.

Now or never, he told himself.

“Now.”

 

Comments

  • A bloody soup, well that is the understatement of the year for sure, damn that even took me to the guts. The Away Team had to deal with something gross and in my fair opinion they handled it quite well, it reminds me of new cops seeing their first death in a crime, puking at the side of the street in those movies. Thought this is a whole new level. Wonderful job and I hope that Halsey is really ready for this.

    July 10, 2024