Across the stars, wherever one may find themselves, it is common knowledge that one’s fears can be triggered by real threats or by memories of threats once experienced. Terrans in particular find it challenging to unlearn fears. Thus, when one eventually realises that they are scared, they ask themselves how real the threat is, or if they have begun to generalise fear and seek evidence to cement it rather than challenge it. To remain well balanced and with good perspective, one must always remain willing to ask themselves these difficult questions, hone into one’s true emotions and see people as they really are. The prize for doing all this right is a well functioning society; the punishment for getting it wrong is run-away-paranoia. The former makes friendships, the latter makes enemies whom could have been friends.
Hurtling through space at a measly Warp 4 because of the strain they’d put on the warp core in order to keep the defence grid running, the repurposed Miranda-class starship made for the Bajor system at her best possible speed. Deep in the bowels of the ancient Starfleet ship, crew quarters had been adapted to house some of the most challenging, most dangerous, most deadly criminals from across the Federation. Some of them suffering from the same run-away paranoia that signalled their failure to understand their fear; others simply pure, unadulterated evil. Doors had been removed and replaced with high-powered energy fields. Internal sensors had been significantly upgraded and Starfleet Security roamed the halls, armed.
Deck seven in particular had been so heavily converted for the most extreme cases that only four cells were in place, and all other rooms stripped of, well, everything. In Cell-7B, one prisoner in particular had been alone for sometime and was going stir crazy in the confined space, not that he would admit that to anyone of course. He needed to keep up the facade that he was as cool, calm and collected as ever, despite the nagging urge to claw at the walls and rip his finger nails off in the process. So, when the forcefield was lowered at last, he sat up on the edge of his shelf-come-bed and looked for the confirmation he needed.
As a famous man once said, ‘the game was afoot’.
Appearing from around the corner, a Rigellian in the gold trim of security wandered into the cell. But instead of the cocksure attitude of his colleagues, who would often enter the cell with their weapons drawn, the man looked agitated, constantly looking over his shoulder, his reptilian like skin glistening under the pressure of the endeavour they were about to undertake.
Pushing himself to his feet, the prisoner ran a hand down the front of his grey jumpsuit and took a deep breath. It was time to put months of planning into action.
“We’ve got one minute until the sensors reactivate and they know you’re gone,” the Rigellian’s gravelly voice was shaken as he spoke, an indicator of his unease at being the accomplice to the prisoner’s plan.
“Then we should get moving,” the criminal suggested, heading for the door, only to be stopped in his tracks when the Rigellian thrust out an arm and blocked his escape.
“From here, you’re on your own,” the Starfleet officer told him quietly, “I’ve done what we agreed. I’m not doing anything else to put myself at risk,” he argued.
“You think you’re going to be able to hold up under scrutiny when they finally catch up with this ship? the prisoner posed the question, and immediately the officer’s expression changed. “They’ll figure out it was you, and you’ll go to prison for the rest of your life. At least with me, you’ll stand a chance of spending the latinum in your account,” the jumpsuit wearing man looked smug as he pushed past the uniformed arm and began making his way down the corridor as planned.
He was justified in his smugness, as the man who had freed him suddenly caught up with him and together, they made their escape. “I’ve set up a secure transport from the cargo bay to the shuttlebay,” the Rigellian told, their pace quickening.
Unfortunately, their little ‘conversation’ had slowed them longer than intended. Red strobe lighting replaced the standard illuminations, and across the ship the standard accompaniment of the red alert klaxon rang out, followed by the expected, and anticipated, warning.
“Security alert. Escape in progress. Prisoner zero-one-nine unaccounted for. Shipwide lockdown initiated. Repeat, security alert.”
“That was quick,” the escaped convict mused as their pace quickened, headed for the cargo bay at the end of the hall.
“Too quick,” the Rigellian warned, “someone must have been on an unscheduled patrol.” It didn’t matter of course, because they would soon be out of there and on their way to the rendezvous point on Bajor. If they could get past the unexpected occupant of the cargo bay, anyway.
Sprinting through the cargo bay door, Prisoner Zero-One-Nine was forced to slide to a halt, just a stones throw from the transporter pad, upon identifying the unexpected complication in their plan. Noting the phaser being pointed in his direction, the convict threw his arms up in the air, surrendering to the ‘Security Sam’ just in time for the Rigellian to come barreling through the door and draw his colleagues attention. The split-second distraction was all he needed to make his move.
Prisoner Zero-One-Nine lunged forth, grabbing the officer’s wrist as nothing short of a one-sided wrestling match began. Transitioning from a grip of the wrist to a headlock and several punches to the gut of the Starfleet man, Prisoner Zero-One-Nine then thrust his right knee upward and swiftly connected with the man’s nose. Security Sam collapsed to his hands and knees with blood streaming from his nose, but most crucially of all, he dropped the hand held weapon at the feet of his assailant. Prisoner Zero-One-Nine slowly bent over, wiping beads of sweat from his brow, and took hold of the weapon in one hand, and Security Sam’s left arm in the other.
Whilst the officer struggled to stem the bleeding of his nose, he caught a glimpse of his Rigellian counterpart, stood nearby and doing… nothing?
“I’m sorry about this…” Prisoner Zero-One-Nine whispered to the security officer, drawing the man’s attention back to him. Echos of a brief phaser blast rung out around the cargo bay, the security officer slipping motionless to the floor. A single phaser blast, on maximum stun at close range, enough for instantaneous loss of life. Death had claimed the hero, his life taken in the performance of his duties and in the best service of the Federation.
“What have you done?!” the Rigellian exclaimed, a look of utter incredulity on his face as he bent down and pressed two fingers upon the neck of his fallen comrade. “You swore no one would get hurt. You promised we’d be out of here and everyone else would go about their business,” he argued defiantly in the face of almost certain death.
“Are you really that naive? Naive enough to think we could pull this off without any risk?” Prisoner Zero-One-Nine responded bluntly as he lifted the liberated phaser. “Now, you either come with me as planned, or I can take you hostage. Either way, I need you and you’re coming with me,” the Bajoran argued before dropping his phaser, appealing to the Rigellian not to give up his life when they had come this far.
For all his sins, the security officer couldn’t risk staying behind and being identified as a traitor, the one to help the prisoner escape and, through lack of action, an accomplice in the death of his colleague. Reluctantly, he joined Prisoner Zero-One-Nine on the transporter pad, just in time for an army of Starfleet Security to enter the bay and helplessly observe as the two dematerialised into oblivion.