Part of USS Altai: Spectres in the Dust

Knock Knock

Breen Dreadnought, Beam-in Site
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The DOT materialized in a cloud of translucent blue. As the transporter beam faded, the jagged outlines of Breen architecture sank back into the pitch. Emitting a diminished bleep, the small maintenance robot tentatively hovered forwards. An observation light flashed on, not for the benefit of the DOT’s sensors which could have easily forged a path ahead, but for those looking on intently from the bridge of the USS Altai.

“Streth to Beck,” the Andorian’s disembodied voice rang in the Chief Engineer’s ear, “we’ve got a visual. Looks clear so far. Life support systems read minimal, but functioning. Let’s take the DOT for a spin.”

Beck smiled. “Copy that, Captain.” And began giving Dotty instructions.

The DOT moved forward. Hull paneling smeared together in the same dull shades of green and mottled brown that had greeted the Altai’s crew on Outpost 1-SZ. The room narrowed off into an exit corridor, lined with weaved conduits and tubing meshed together with customary Breen aesthetic disdain. Pushing forward, the small maintenance unit bore right, then through a smaller connecting corridor. It emerged into what appeared to be a storage room of sorts. There were still no light sources. All manner of stacked barrels and crates rose out of the murk, and the DOT paused to pan its optic sensor across whatever it could illuminate. As it circled round, Streth could see from the schematic that the robot had almost returned to the insertion point.

“Vogler,” Streth came over the transporter room coms once more, “beam-in site perimeter looks clear. You’re good to go. Beck will follow once you give the go ahead.”

“Aye sir,” Astrid replied as she lead her team onto the transporter pad.  With phaser rifle at the ready she looked over her team nodded in satisfaction.  “Energize Chief.”

The Breen ship was dark, and there was a smell she couldn’t quite identify,  but death  came to mind while trying to explain it.  “Night vision,” she ordered as she flipped the visor down from her helmet and the whole area became illuminated in black and greens. “Hazard Team to One-Sierra Zulu, beam in location is clear and secured.”

Not sure of what she was supposed to actually do, she went looking around for some guidance when a most pungent smell hit her nose. It was god awful and she almost vomited.” Oh my god! What is that horrific smell,” E’Lor barked out loud.

“I wish I knew… or maybe I don’t,” Astrid replied. “I hope that’s just what Breen smell like. Anyone ever walk up to one an take a deep sniff?” She joked trying to cut the tension and was rewarded with a few uneasy chuckles. “Brown Tree take Bravo team and hold position over there on the far wall until the chief engineer beams in.

“I hope they don’t smell like that all the time do they?” E’Lor said to Astrid.  “By the way, any idea what we are supposed to do or get? It was a fast baptism of fire for me. Get on board and get transported here,” E’Lor quipped.

Astrid shrugged, “I haven’t a clue. Never met a Breen before.  Our primary mission is to secure the energy dampening weapon for study.  That’s where you come in.  Our job is to keep you alive.  That’s where I… we come on.”

“Never leave home without it…”, E’Lor said as she pulled her da’tag from it’s hidden sheath.  Sliding it back, she heard the transporter and in one fluid motion pulled the blade and spun around facing whoever was beaming in.

The whine of a transporter marked the arrival of the crew’s chief engineer.   Astrid approached Beck and gave him a courteous nod. “Welcome to Hell sir. I wouldn’t breathe in too deeply… at least not through the nose.”

Sheathing the blade, “Sorry sir but the Breen are notorious for pulling surprise’s. Lt.Jg. E’Lor Tabor your ACEO”, she said as she waited for the stench to hit the chief in the face.

Beck raised a brow at her for a moment before the scent finally hit him. “Woooo, nelly!” He waved his hand in front of his face. “Somebody warn me if ya gonna let one loose. Too bad we can’t open a window.” He chuckled some. He raised his left arm up and activated the holodisplay to bring up the various sensors that the DOT was transmitting to him. “All right everyone. Not only are we good to go, but DOT just went ahead and has not seen or encountered a single crew member. Curious. A ship this size, you think we be setting off alarms or something.” Beck tried his best to take short breathes to reduce his intake of the horrible smell, breathing through the mouth was slightly better.

“Think cinnamon and it won’t smell too bad. Mom taught me that trick”,” E’Lor said, standing next to her boss.

Astrid assembled her team around Beck and E’Lor.  Astrid herself fell into step next to Beck her rifle ready and eyepiece over her left eye feeding her constant data from atmospheric and temperature levels to a thermo imaging scan of the area as she panned around.  Nothing.

“Neither my tricorder or thermo imaging is picking up anything either,” Astrid responded.   “I don’t like… I don’t know to describe it, but this ship feels haunted.  Like an ancient ghost ship of the old days of sailing the seas.”

Beck chuckled. “Oh lass. I think ya been in too many horror holonovels.” He gave a playful tease.

Astrid frowned,  “Horror isn’t exactly my genre to be completely honest with you.  I prefer historical fiction personally.”

“With the lack of encountering the crew, I’d say we find a primary computer terminal. Either on the Bridge or in Engineering. I can hook up the DOT to one of the terminals and from there, pinpoint where the energy dampening weapon is.” Beck explained.

“My vote is whatever is the closest and get off this ship as fast as possible.”

Beck checked his sensor displays that the DOT provided him as it returned to the group. “From the looks of this compartment here, I would say that is the Bridge and it is the closest. Shall we get to it then?”

“I couldn’t agree more with you. We need to leave post haste! E’Lor said quickly. Something had her skin crawling and also giving her the willies.

Beck laughed a bit. “Oh I’m really starting to enjoy this crew. Ya’ll bunch of silly worry warts.” Beck joked and followed the leader as they made their way to the Bridge.

“You didn’t have a bug turn your leg into a nest on the last mission,” Astrid quipped.   It was still sore, but healing so that was a win in her book. 

They came to a “T” junction in the corridor and Astrid held up a fist to stop the whole party as she peered around the corner. First left then right.  All was clear, and she stepped fully into this new corridor.   “The bridge is at the end of this.”  She was pointing into the dark down the left side.

Their torches shone into the shadowed haze. There appeared to be a fine particulate dust that hung in the air, reducing their visual range as they looked towards the bridge. There was an entrance arch there. In the distance its outline stood out like a blackened metallic mouth. Its teeth bore down, pointed and angular like everything else aboard that forsaken hulk of a ship. It was the unfortunate duty of the Hazard team, and the two gold-shirted officers who accompanied them, to traverse this tunnel of foreboding. The few metres between them and the dreadnought’s control centre stretched long ahead, displaced in a foreboding parallax of uncertainty.

“Streth to away team,” the Captain’s voice could be clearly heard by all in that dark conduit, “you’re close to the bridge. Lets see if the computer can shed any light on what’s happened over there.” 

Almost as soon as Streth had finished his sentence, the DOT emitted a low boop. Moving head of the main group, a bright cold searchlight shone out from its body in an arcing motion over lifeless screens, terminals and controls that had once formed the nerve centre of the Breen ship. In the middle of the room, where a commander might have stood and issued orders in days past, lay an empty, charred, refrigeration helmet. 

Astrid absently crossed herself despite not being Catholic… or any religion for that matter.  Approaching the helmet she kneeled next to it letting the eyepiece tied to her tricorder make the needed scans. “I’m getting bio matter embedded in the helmet that’s consistent with Breen DNA.  The black markings and carbon scoring is inconclusive.”

E’Lor’s hand instinctively for her blade. This was something she did not like. The lack of the aforementioned Breen crew made her wonder if this wasn’t a carefully laid trap of some sort. It was too quiet….and the fact that Beck mentioned an energy dampening device made her even more cautious. “Beck I am not meaning to be a worry wart but this feels more like a trap. Can we get what we need and bogie outta here?” E’Lor ssked as she scanned for any type of motion.

“Then I guess you best get to it,” Astrid suggested.  She stood and approached Beck, “I suggest having E’Lor take care of the sensor logs. I’ll leave Bravo Team to watch her back.  Ensign Magera is more than competent enough for that task.  You and I get that infernal energy dampening weapon.   She may be a bit skittish,  but she’s right about one thing: this feels off.”

Beck stood there on the opposite side of the commander’s chair and picked up the helmet off the seat. He was focused on the markings and scoring. “DOT. Run your own analysis if you would. Do any of these match anything we’ve encountered recently?”

The DOT took the helmet from him and visibly scanned it with it’s sensors. It only took it a second to report to Beck of what it had found, to which Beck checked the holo display from his left arm to see what the DOT said.

Beck sighed after what he saw and took the helmet, only to place it back on the seat. “DOT, get power back to these consoles immediately. E’Lor, I agree with Astrid here, soon as DOT brings power back to these stations, go over the sensor logs. I recommend the most recent ones, find out what boarded the ship and if their sensors got anything on them.” Beck ordered. “I also suggest focusing on your task than worrying on whether this is a trap or not. More you keep your mind off it, the better.” Second after Beck said that, the terminals were brought back to life, where the room would be illuminated by the Breen’s LCARs displays from the terminal screens, holo or not.

Beck smiled when DOT returned. “Good work, my friend.” He then noticed one of the displays mentioned something about science and he pointed. “That one, E’Lor. Check the logs on that one.” He quickly looked for a tactical or weapons terminal and once he found it, he headed right for it. He could of went to the engineering one as well, but either one would tell him where the energy dampening weapon was.

Astrid stood next to Beck but out of the way observing him work.  The eyepiece she wore helpfully and  automatically translated the alien language.  “It is interesting that despite our radically different cultures and anatomy their consoles still share the same basic logic to their configuration.   Even the graphical representation of systems are still intuitive and make sense.” 

“Understood, ” she said and went to begin the downloads. Her work was deliberate, but the  hairs on her neck started to stand. It was definitely not a good feeling  at all. ‘Hurry up and finish’ she muttered as she began the third file download. 

The ship’s negligible power reserves did nothing to speed the process along. Breen text circled the screen. It was dull grey, looking almost like a series of interlocking chain links as it marked off the download progress. A guttural beep sounded on completion. Simultaneously, a scratching sound came from behind the bulkhead where the screen was mounted. It was as if tiny metallic feet were skittering over an equally percussive surface. The sound continued up towards the ceiling of the dreadnought’s control centre. In a a few seconds it was coming from directly over E’Lor’s head. Another second, and there was silence.  

Comments

  • Very much enjoy these stories. Cannot wait for Joran to get involved

    May 25, 2022