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Part of USS Altai: Spectres in the Dust

Neuromechanica

USS Altai, Bridge
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The yellow pulsing light further sallowed the bridge crew’s already grim expressions. 

“Keep scanning on all frequencies,” Streth barked at Alton, “There’s got to be a sensor trace.”

“Scanning on all frequencies, sir! But unable to get a sensor trace.” Alton responded.

Altai to away team,” Streth’s voice emanated from their combadges once more, “we’ve lost contact with the Oklah-fzzt-a. Shkrr-ellow alert. I don’t like it. Double time it to the energy dampener, or extract now. Your call.”

“Understood sir,” Astrid replied.  She turned to Beck.  “You’re the ranking officer sir.  I know the Captain said it was up to me, but you are in charge.  Hazard Team will follow your lead.”

Beck smirked. “Ranking or not, if the Captain placed you in charge, technically I’m outranked there.” He joked. “But let’s just hurry this up and get the hell out of here.”

“We were sent here to do a job.  No sense getting dressed up for the ball and not making it onto the dance floor,” Astrid replied. “Mr. Ingraham take Rholdar and Vorath and get that closest bionode, and then get back to the ship.  If you run into any trouble,  and I mean any trouble exfil.”

“Yes ma’am,” her second in command responded. 

“Get to it Senior Chief,” she said to Ingraham and watched the small team move off into the opposite direction and dissappear around a corner.

Astrid nodded to Beck, “Shall we get that weapon and get the hell out of here?  Comms with the ship are already compromised.”

“After you, lass. I suggest that the team recovering a bionode to return to the Altai immediately. Longer we’re separate, the riskier this business will become.” Beck told her.

Several minutes later they rounded a corner.   That ominous feeling Astrid felt from the minute she stepped onto this ship still hadn’t gone away.  The eyepiece tied to her tricorder told her that the energy dampening weapon was though the door directly in front of them.

“Jefferson,  Grant and Korrel standard breach protocols,” Astrid ordered as her team moved into position.   With her rifle in position she waited for Beck to give the order to enter.  “On your word sir,” she said to the engineer. Beck simply nodded.

The Hazard Team members approached the door, mag-locking the manual grips to the surface. The discs clunked into place, polarising the duranium and propelling the sliding door across its sliding axis. Grant stepped forward to heave it the rest of the way, creating a space large enough for them to step through one by one. 

The shudder of the door masked the approaching footsteps. They were heavy, falling flat against the deck with the entire weight of the figure’s stiffened body. The nozzle-like front of its Breen helmet pointed dead ahead, the green strip of light signifying the functioning of its environmental systems was extinguished. It lurched forward towards the rearmost hazard team member, its pace quickening. On the back of its helmet, an odd protrusion jutted from a punched-in hole. Eight metal spikes gripped at the cranial space, connecting to the same spider like body that had wrought havoc aboard the USS Altai only weeks before. From the underside of that body extended a metal tube, down through the helmet, plunging through the Breen’s skull to interface with the grey matter beneath.

The thuds grew heavier. Now in earshot of the hazard team, it was too late. The automaton Breen lunged towards them from the shadows.

Crewman Jefferson yelled in terror and surprise, his shot going wild and slamming harmlessly into the ceiling as the zombified Breen knocked him to the deck with a forearm to the chin.  A bug came out of nowhere and bore its way into Grant’s head.  The screams of terror shifted to agony before being silenced.

Astird dropped to a one knee and fired.   It did nothing but leave a black circle on the chest. Korrel fired too, not having any better effect.   The Breen continued to move forward with Jefferson now at his side.

We are in deep trouble, Astird thought as she frantically adjusted the settings on her rifle as a fist from Jefferson slammed into her face sending her crashing to the deck her compression rifle bouncing behind her and out of reach.  The mechanical whine of the bugs marked an impending attack. 

==USS Altai, Sickbay==

Joran Tel sat up on the best and blinked his eyes a few times as he focused on sitting on the biobed and slowly felt his sense returning to himself as an ensign in a command uniform walked in and began to speak to the doctor. He tried not to listen in to what they were saying but it wasn’t a massive room and voices carried.  

Upon hearing the concern he might be a Changeling, even though the doctor didn’t think so, he couldn’t help but let out a snort. “Definitely not a Changeling sir.” he said “Just regular old me, well with a splitting headache that is.” 

He tried to stand but the movement caused his head to spin and he sat back down on the biobed and smiled with a slightly pained grin.

Randall moved in to look after his patient.  “Easy there Chief.  Your brain is still going back to normal size. You don’t take a crack on the skull like that and walk it off.”

Joran sat there for a moment and smiled. “Feeling better already Doc, though something for the headache wouldn’t go a miss,” he said with a slight laugh and then blinked several times as focus wavered. Turning to face the ensign who had walked in Joran cocked his head to the side and squinted. “I take it that you are here to see, debrief me?” he said before pausing for a second and adding “Sir.”

Randall pressed a hypospray against Joran’s neck, and gave D’vaid a doctor’s look, “Go easy on him okay?”  Not waiting for a reply Randall moved away.  There was an away team and they were going to be his priority now.

D’vaid nodded slowly in his time as a yeoman he had done more duties of a normal officer than anything else, but he had to admit the pace and change was doing him good. He observed Joran for a moment before he spoke his words calm and collected “You are correct, I am here to ascertain what happened and how you were found on the Breen ship? Also making sure you remember where you are and who you are as well. These may seem a bit repetitive, but we want to make sure you’re ok.” He concluded as he stood there letting the man comprehend everything slowly given his injury.

Joran smiled as the drugs look effect and his head stopped spinning so much. “Well, I can tell you about who I am. Those memories are intact…” he said, before letting out a snort, “…I could have done with losing a few I think.” Looking over to the Doctor he continued. “As I told the Doc I have no idea or memory of how I got onboard the Breen ship but I assume it was the one I came across in my Valkyrie on my way here. Dropped out of warp outside the asteroid  field and flew in.” He said with a shrug.

“After a bit I flew around a large chuck of rock and there was a Breen Dreadnaught just sitting there unpowered, adrift….I approached it…” He frowned thinking. “saw no signs of life, searches the exterior…then…Wanothing. sorry.” Joran shock his head annoyed. Before looking up and pausing. “Wait I’m forgetting something…” after a moment we’re he was obviously racking his head he continued. “There were odd voices and sounds over the coms. I recorded them, should be on the Valkyrie’s computer system if you want to check. That was before the Breen though but may have been from them. Maybe the fight record saw what happened to me as well.”

D’vaid took note of the information and nodded “I am going o do just that. You get some rest so your ready for anything to come. I appreciate your help in clearing things up. If you remember anything else please let the Doctor know so I can be notified.” He smiled warmly and made sure of a friendly departure before turning on his heels and heading for his office on the ship. He didn’t want to be standing like a statue looking at logs. 

He arrived to his office and shut the door making sure as to not be disturbed as he settled in he pulled up the logs from the Valkyrie. He set the timestamp for the approx. time the vessel had encountered the ship and started looking through the logs. He could hear the sounds, but he needed more entering his code he accessed the video recording on the shuttles exterior. He watched as the structure of the dreadnought was the only background around. As the recording continued he watched closely, as he was about to give up he caught a movement on the screen. He immediately rewinded and enhanced the image the best he could. Upon further observation what he saw sent chills up his spine. His eyes got wide the crew needed off the ship now. 

He opened comms to the Captain “ Maec to Streth, we need to evacuate the hazard team NOW and destroy that ship. Mechanical spiders were all over the hull when the Valkyrie was pulled in and they look identical to the ones we encountered on the listening post.”

The hairs on the back of Streth’s neck as he absorbed the meaning of Maec’s words. His heart raced in his chest. Without acknowledging Maec, or even pausing to close the channel, he fired an order across the bridge, “Jackson, lock onto the away team and beam them directly to transporter room one, now.”

“Sir! Transporter signal is too weak, I can’t beam the away team back…..plus, according to the last scans, two or more life signs have disappeared.” Alton reported.

Streth’s heart plunged through the bottom of his stomach, “Streth to sickbay, emergency medical team to transporter room one,” he strained for mental clarity through the muddied torrent of his thoughts, “they’ve got to be heading back to the beam-in site.” 

He turned to Jones who looked on from the first officer’s seat, “if there are more of those things over there…” he trailed off, feeling certain Jones understood what was now their only option. 

 

== Breen Ship, Away Team==

The mechanical bug jumped from the deck for Astrid.   The zombies may be slow but the bugs weren’t.  She closed her eyes waiting for the piercing pain.  She wouldn’t scream out, no matter how much it hurt.   She felt the impact of the metallic body slam into her, but nothing else.

Opening her eyes the bug was motionless with a smoking black hole in its carapace and Korel standing three meters away with his rifle to his shoulder. “Thanks,” she said still surprised to be alive.

“You’re welcome ma’am.”

She lept to her feet slapping her combadge,  “Vogler to Altai get us put of here!”

Nothing.

Korrel slapped his own combadge and netted the same result.   Somehow they had lost contact with the ship.  “Okay people…” she drew her phaser pistol, adjusted the setting to maximum,  aimed, and fired at a Breen zombie vaporizing it. “Get to the exfil point on the double.  As soon as we are there activate the transport enhancers.”

As the team ran back to the beam out point, Beck was the first to enter the area where he saw one of the spiders was messing with one of the transport enhancers. He pulled out his phaser pistol, cranked the settings to maximum and fired right at the spider. The energy blast connected with the side that resulted sparks shooting out from the spider, which knocked it off the enhancer and landed on the floor, legs curled up like a real spider when it dies.

Beck holstered his pistol and knelt down by the pattern enhancer that the spider was messing with and saw that it was damaged. “Everyone get into the center.” He told them as he began to make repairs to the device.

Astrid turned to see dozens of the zombified Breen lurching towards them. “Uh… Lieutenant… now would be a good time. I think we found the rest of the crew.”

“I’m working on it,” Beck told her as he decided that reversing the damage was going to take too long, so he needed to reroute some circuits to make the enhancer come online and do its job.

With both hands she pulled a pair of photon grenades from her belt.  Pressing the timer mechanism she threw them into the largest cluster.  The ensuing explosion shook the whole deck and took down a good handful of their foe and slowed their progress.

Suddenly a bug came from out of nowhere landing on the shoulder of Ingraham.   Before anyone could react it had dug its way into the head of her second in command.  Astrid raised her phaser and hesitated. 

“Got it!” He said as the enhancer came online. He then stepped into the center with everyone. “Let’s go before it shorts out!” 

Grabbing Ingraham by the uniform she shoved him out of the circle of the enhancers as the transporter beam started its familiar cycle as nearly a hundred zombie crowded from the corridor and into the room that they had designated as a beam-in site.

Back on the bridge of the Altai, Alton kept rotating frequencies, trying to get a sensor lock on the away team, but something was interfering with the lock. “Sir, still unable to get a lock on the away team, and the comms are down with them as well.”

A light on his console lit up. “Getting some readings….the away team has activated their transporter enhancers!”

Lieutenant Jones took a step forward in anticipation. “Then beam them back, now!” Of course, his voice did not rise out of annoyance or frustration that he had to give the order for the obvious; no, his voice rose because of the excitement and anxiety that the team was in danger and it has come down to seconds to save them.

“Activating transport!” The transporter locked on to the away team and…….they appeared on the pad.

Jones then stepped over to the tactical station, where he armed the torpedo launchers, and loaded up almost a dozen photon torpedoes at maximum yield right after. He designated multiple points that he believed would surely obliterate the vessel and hopefully vaporize the mechanical spiders altogether. “Loaded and ready, Captain!”

“Fire, Mr. Jones.”

With one press of the button, the system began the sequence that Jones had programmed into it. The launchers spat out ten photon torpedoes, all equally heading to each section of the ship, except for the center, the larger one that received one extra torpedo, and the explosions from each torpedo dissipated across the hull. 

Streth looked on as the ripples of antimatter fire erupted out from their impact sites. Flaming tendrils grasped at the void. Far from the the devastated cloud of duranium rubble he had hoped for, the leviathian ship appeared merely scorched and pocked from the torpedo barrage. It lumbered on through that desolate cosmic wilderness like a terrestrial gargantuan, inert and unconcerned.

Streth leaned over to Jones, who could see the disappointment in his eyes, “We’re gonna need a new plan.”