Van Der Luan rematerialized and immediately began pulling off his EVO suit. “Report?” He asked Ensign Cramer in the center chair.
“Ok Ive got the conn” He sat down, heavily, still with half the suit on. “Take the helm Mister Cramer. Cowboy, get a weapon and go join the team” He ordered McQueen
“Aye sir!” McQueen was out of his chair in a flash and heading for the turbolift
“Anyone found the critter yet?” Vane Der Luan asked the Bridge crew
[Deck Five, Section Three Gamma]
It skittered and squeezed. Writhing between impossibly small bulkheads, it forced its way past EPS conduits and isolinear circuitry. It paused only to bore a hole through to the next deck or crawlspace. Antennae stood poised above its bulbous sensory unit, listening intently, sensing the quantum fluctuations guided the machine closer to its target.
It was cut off. Without the signal amplifying equipment within its outer shell, it was forced to operate autonomously. Its surroundings were unfamiliar, but it didn’t matter. It would follow its programming. Its surroundings were irrelevant, its beam would get it to where it needed to go. It took the most direct path; through. Damage to its host was not a consideration. Gathering information was its only goal, and the bot made straight for the place that contained the most.
The deck five, section three corridor extended along the starboard side of what could only be roughly described as the USS Altai’s “saucer section”. The large doors that marked the holodeck two entrance parted, and a trio of crewmen filed out. Alert lighting flashed along the corridor at waist height, illuminating their right fields of vision with a crimson hue. Exhausted from mountaineering in the Melrethen Peaks of Peliar Zel Beta, at first they did not notice the small glowing red circle slowly spiralling its way into existence on the deck plating in front of them. The metal disc popped out with a clatter onto the deck, followed by six probing, metallic limbs. They clicked and tapped as they felt about on the deck. The remaining two legs propelled it clean out of its hiding spot and onto the wall. It clung, red alert flashing beneath it casting a shadow that extended across the corridor. Its claws gripped the wall and it jumped forward, the scuttling, distorted shadow appeared at intervals as the red light intensified.
The crewman at the head of the group launched forward in pursuit.
“Drendol, WAIT!” came a yell of alarm from behind, “It’ll do to you what it did to the deck!”
Crewman Drendol heeded the warning, stopping in his tracks, “It’s headed for the computer core,” he called back along the corridor’s curve.
The crewman behind slapped her combadge, =^=Security team to deck five, section three gamma. Intruder is heading through to the computer core. Repeat, intruder is heading towards the main computer core housing!=^= Recognising the alert, the computer duly routed the message through to the bridge and HAZARD team.
=/\=Vogler to Hazard Team; converge on section three Gamma. Expedite!=/\=
“It’s heading for the core?” Van Der Luan punched the arm of the chair. “Engage security forcefields. Lock the core compartment down!” He ordered.
The duty Security complied, tapping instructions into their panel. “Security systems engaged sir” They reported.
Beck had followed the First Officer to the Bridge to make sure what data they had on Beck’s and Cooper’s tricorders had made it for the Bridge crew to try and track it with internal sensors. Then he heard the crewman over the intercom system, he cursed loudly. “Oh bloody hell. Cooper, does the Don S Davis have any computer cores in storage for this mission?” Beck asked as he walked up to the First Officer.
“Yeah, a few or so, just in case. You never know, so we’re always come prepared for any contingency.” Cooper answered him.
“Perfect. How long do you think the Don S. Davis could get one hooked up and powered?” Beck asked.
“Well we got the equipment and the tools, we could jerry rig a power system, tie it into the EPS power grid, and network it into the ship to bring it online and ready for use. Why?”
“You’ll see.” He then looked to the First Officer. “I have an idea and it needs to be done quick. For one we know it is obviously a threat and for two we cannot allow this threat to get away with vital information so I am willing to take the biggest risk to preserve that vital information from whatever the hell that thing belongs to.” He spoke in his heavy Scottish accent.
“As soon as Don S. Davis gets the spare computer core online, we can transfer everything from our core to that spare core. And I’m not talking about just copy and paste, I literally mean cut and paste. So that little bugging bastard may get some information but it won’t get it all and once the transfer is complete, I can reroute power directly to the computer core’s casing so that bugger gets massively electrocuted. Problem is, doing that may also end up frying the computer core that we currently have…” Beck then looked at Cooper, “Any of those cores on Don S. Davis will be a suitable replacement for the Altai right?”
Cooper nodded her head. “Of course, we don’t carry just one type. Not every ship is universal, be insane if Starfleet Corps of Engineers ever thought of that concept.” She smirked.
Beck smiled back and then looked back at the First Officer. “What do you think, sir?”
“Do it!” Van Der Luan Agreed “But you better work fast, the speed that thing moves, no telling how long we can keep it out of the core compartment!”
Beck nodded his head and looked at Cooper. “Think you can get Don S. Davis up to speed?”
Cooper smiled, “Already on it.” She told him after sending the recording of the entire conversation from her EVO suit to the Don S. Davis. Soon, there was an incoming transmission from them which was brought on screen.
On the view screen, Walker raised the data padd that contained the text version of the message. =^=This correct? =^=
=^=It sure is, sir.=^= Cooper told him.
Walker handed the PaDD off to someone off screen. =^= All right. We’ll get one hooked up and let you know when its ready. I’ve got a large team over here, so it should just take about five, maybe ten minutes. We’ll have to unbox it, secure it, hook it up but we got the personnel.=^= Walker spoke directly at Van Der Luan.
Beck sighed, “Five or ten minutes might be too much, depending on how quick that little bugger can download data.”
=^= Thank you Captain =^= Van Der Luan responded to Walker =^= We’ve engaged security fields around the core and our Hazard team is chasing the thing down. We’ll make the time needed, one way or another! =^=
[DECK 5, Section 3 Gamma]
Astrid held her phaser rifle in the ready. Next to her Korel was breathing heavily. “Relax Crewman. So far it hasn’t attacked anyone.”
The Xindi nodded slowly, bit didn’t relax, “Yes Ma’am.”
“I’ve been in worse situations. When I was sixteen I broke my ankle and fell into a freezing river while skiing alone. Don’t do that by the way. This is just a little bug. We find it, and we all go to lunch okay?”
He nodded. She caught movement from an intersecting corridor and turned to face the unknown and came face to face with a pair of phaser rifles.
One of the pairs of her Hazard Team had made their way to the location looking on edge. She made a mental note to put them into the holodeck with the worst kind of combat she could think of.
“At ease crewman.”
A couple of moments later McQueen came jogging up. He’d grabbed a Phaser Carbine and his body armor. “What did I miss?”
“Nothing yet,” Astrid replied. “Good to see you Cowboy.” As the rest of the team converged she nodded and started breaking them up. “You two go to deck four and you two head to deck five. Let’s make sure it isn’t cutting through the deck again. Cowboy, you know this ship better than me. Take point.”
McQueen nodded, brought his carbine up to his shoulder, sighted down the barrel and moved cautiously up to a corner in the corridor. He swung around it, muzzel clearing the space ahead. The short length of corridor had two doors on the left side, then ended with a third door, entrance to the middle section of the computer core. A red strobe above the door was flashing and a forcefield quietly hissed and crackled, blocking off the access.
“They’ve engaged the security fields and locked down the core Boss” He reported back. The core was housed in a tall but thin cylindrical compartment that covered three decks; six, five and four. There were access doors on all three decks. “Might be best if we get in there, then we can cover all the entrances, instead of bouncing around from deck to deck” He suggested.
Astrid stepped forward, “Computer, deactivate force field, authorization Vogler 951 Theta.”
“Access denied,” the computer responded.
Astrid sighed, and shrugged at Cowboy. “I half expected that. New kid on the block and the low girl on the totem pole.” She tapped her combadge, =/\=Vogler to bridge. I don’t suppose we can access the computer core?=/\=
=^= Standby, we’ll drop the forcefield on the middle level =^= Came the reply.
=/\=We’re in. Securing the computer core now.=/\= Astrid replied.
Astrid looked around, nothing amiss. “McQueen you Denair, and Jefferson take deck four. Grant, Vorath, and Beck take deck six. Shoot on sight, and we’ll ask questions later. I’ll take whatever fallout that comes from that, so don’t worry about any consequences.”
Ensign Kappler looked up from the Secondary Engineering Console, an idea coming to his mind. “Chief Beck, what if we used the Holodeck to simulate the computer core? The whole ship is on file for tactical simulations. It might confuse the robot and buy us a minute or two, or if we’re lucky it might go for the fake core.”
Van Der Luan looked over to Beck. “Would that buy you enough time to do the back up?”
Beck smiled and nodded his head to Kappler. “Go set it up, Ensign.”
“Aye sir,” Kappler said as he left the bridge.
Then Beck looked to Cooper. “Let Walker know that we just got our ten minutes. I’m going down to the computer core right now. I need to access it directly so that I can shunt main power throughout the entire core casing. Not to mention transfer all data to the secondary core on the Don S. Davis.” He said as he went into the turbolift.
Cooper nodded her head. “I’ll let him know and I’ll be right behind you.” She told him as she followed him right inside the lift.
“Just wish we can get out of these damn suits, but we don’t have the time.” Beck said as the door slid shut. “Main Computer Core.” He ordered the lift.
Cooper smirked, “Well once we’re done here, we’ll probably head right back to the station.”
Beck nodded his head, “Aye.” Course they were both helmetless. Just cramped-ish. “Though I am a wee bit worried about being completely defenseless and a sitting duck once the main computer core is, well…fried.”
Cooper frowned, “Not all command functions run through it though, right?”
Beck sighed. “Ya really think Starfleet is that redundant? Course, I don’t believe any ship had to deal with a bugger like this, nor go with a plan like mine.”
“Probably not.” She grinned.
[Deck Five, Holodeck]
Kappler entered the Holodeck, relieved to see it was not currently in use. “Arch,” he called out and the user interface appeared just inside the Holodeck’s door. Using the control screen, he quickly found the file labeled ‘USS Altai/Deck 5’ and engaged the program, centering on the computer core. There was a hum and the door to the computer core room materialized in front of the young ensign.