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Part of USS Mercy: Mission 1 – “Life as a House”

A Lost Time Capsule

USS Colorado
August 11th 2400 - 15:30
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O’Shea looked over at Dougal and Neva giving them a quick one over for the last time before the brand over to the Colorado, “Lights and mag boots on, be ready, who knows what we will find over there.”

“Aye,” Dougal replied flatly and without enthusiasm.  He entered the appropriate commands into the the key pad on the suite and with a hum and buzz the mag boots activated and the beacons switched on.  “I’m ready lad,” he said more to himself than O’Shea.

 Neva nodded.  “Yessir.” She made a final check of her suit’s systems and made the necessary adjustments. Neva closed her eyes and silently prayed for a safe mission. With a sigh, her eyes popped open as the transporter took them away from her Iron Mistress. 

Moments after they stepped into the transporter pad the world before the team shimmered and found themselves in a pitch-black corridor. O’Shea turned his head slowly, the light from his helmet illuminated the corridor before the. Debris floated randomly before him with several large support beams that had collapsed and crisscrossed the hallway before them. He opened his com channel to the other two, “Up ahead should be engineering, let’s move but be careful. Three hull breaches are close to here so structural integrity may be bad.”

Dougal glanced around, “I would be surprised it wasn’t. The lass is in bad shape.”

Neva sucked in a sharp gulp of air as they materialized on board the Colorado. Something was wrong. Something….dark

O’Shea started to move forward without looking back, he sweep his head back and forth and illuminating the corridor before them. “You could say that again Dougal.” he said as he pushed a piece of floating wall panel from his path. “Remember what your doorways and corners. Never know what could be here.”

Neva’s brow furrowed in confusion. She’d been on countless EVA’s without problems. And this wasn’t supposed to be any different. “I think I need to lay off my sandwiches,” she mumbled as she set the mag boots and lights up as instructed. ‘What the–?’ she wondered. Looking at the two men she made herself smile and nodded. “OK, let’s see what this Old dog has in store for us!”

As O’Shea moved forward, the other following he continually monitored the Tactical Eye Display, TED, that Dougal had passed on to him. The layout of the ship lay before him as the ship had once been. “Looks like we are 50 meters from engineering. Let’s move quickly, and see what you can access in there Neva.” 

Switching to the master coms channel he sent a message to Captain Halsey and the other away team, “We are approaching engineering, it’s a mess down here. Will send an update when we have anything.”

As a matter of protocol,  Dougal scanned the immediate area for threats, “No life signs, radiation levels are normal,  and only minimal power signatures.  A testament to the engineers of the time,” he conceded. Still speaking to O’Shea he looked at Neva, “Maybe the lass can get some power restored.”

“Never know, let’s see what our star fleet certified miracle worker can do,” O’Shea said, gesturing to Neva, as they made their way down the corridor and ducked under a large support beam that hand collapsed decades before. Coming to an intersection he peered around the corner before stepping out and pointed further into the ship, “Twenty meters to our right is engineering. Not to be confused with the gapping hole to space to our left…”

Dougal scowled and fought not to lose his last meal as his stomach tried to turn itself inside out. “Ye should have been a comedian instead of a security officer,” Dougal quipped dryly.

Neva shook her head and groaned. “The Emergency Exits are here, here, and here.” She pointed ahead, then right and left as she spoke. She smirked. “Sorry guys, I couldn’t resist.” 

“One must do what they can,” O’Shea said with a smile and checked the corridor in each direction, “Path is clear, lets move forward.”

Neva stood just inside the door of the Colorado’s Main Engineering, trying not to whimper at the state of this Girl’s Heart. “Ok, I think I can squeeze some power out of this Girl. That is, if I can believe the sensor readings show a few intact Dilithium Crystals!” 

That said, Neva snaked around and over debris and consoles. Without thinking, she blew at the Dilithium Chamber door to dispel the dirt and dust. Instead, she found she fogged her visor. She silently cursed and wiped the door. She held up her scanner for a quick moment, then smiled brightly. 

“She’s got some juice, Sir!” Neva burst out. “I’m surprised!” That said, she swiped the dead Crystals and dust out the door.  She began muttering under her breath, hands becoming One with the torn up Ship’s Heart. 

As Neva stepped towards the dilithium chamber O’Shea scanned the room with the TED, flicking though several spectrums seeing nothing. He turned and waved to Dougal, “Take two of these flood lights and set them up along the right of the core, there and back there.” He said and pointed to a spot a few meters to Dougal’s right near an old console that have exploded and then back to a spot by the core. “I’ll get the ones on this side, that should light up the room nicely. Get rid of these shadows. Make it easier to see what we have here.”

Dougal slung his rifle over his shoulder happy to have the distraction.  Snapping open the case he drew out two of the floodlights and extended their tripod stands.  It was quick work as he placed the lights in their designated locations.  As engineering started to illuminate the full scope of the damage began to take shape.  

It was a complete mess.  Exploded consoles were everywhere and debris littered the deck.  At a computer interface console, it was ripped open to expose the duotronic circuitry. There was a pair of leads dangling terminating in what appeared to be some form of neural interface.  “Bloody Christ,” Dougal swore seeing that.  “Lieutenant take a wee look at this. What do ya think this is?”

O’Shea finished placing his flood lights effectively removing all shadows from the room he surveyed the damage before walking over to Dougal. “Well you don’t see something like that every day,” he said and pulled out his tricorder and began to scan the interface. “Wonder what the hell they were up to? Why would they have needed a neural interface?” he wondered aloud.

As the tricorder continued to scan the device he glanced over at Neva, “How’s it going over there Lieutenant Cordon?” As he said that the tricorder chimed at him and he looked down. “I’m not getting much from this, how about yourself?” he asked and turned to look at Dougal.

Dougal frowned,  “I dinnae ken.  I’m no engineer, but this wee bugger doesn’t look like it’s Federation ya-ken.”

O’Shea knelt down and looked at it closer, “I think you may be right about that. Let’s disconnect it and bag it. May be able to figure out who was here and when from this.”

Dougal nodded, “Aye sir.” The big Scotsman clumsily started to trace the leads to where they interfaced with the circuitry inside the terminal, “Bugger it all to hell!” He swore as his glove covered hands bumped around inside the console not doing what he wanted them to do. In frustration he drew his phaser pistol, tuned the beam and cut the circuit board free of the console and pulled the whole thing out of the console housing.

“That is one way to do it,” O’Shea said with a smile as he continued to scan the room. “Pack it away, let’s see what the team on Mercy can figure out about it.”

Neva was just about to get the power connected when she suddenly got flung against a wall. As her head hit the bulkhead, instead of seeing stars or blacking out, she saw a Blackness wind itself around her. Her eyes widened, a scream burst telepathically from her. ~~ NOOOOOOO! ~~ 

Neva grabbed her head, shaking it hard to clear it. ~~STOP IT!!!~~ She felt the Blackness only squeeze tighter. “Help…meee…” Her words were a loud whisper. She thrashed, as if she were fighting to get something off of her. ~~ GO AWAY!! GO NOW!~~ 

O’Shea had turned his head to check on the engineer just as she was blasted back from the console she was working at and smashed into the bulkhead across the room. “What the HELL!? Lieutenant Cordon Status?” the gasped as he brought up the phase compression rifle and scanned the room and switched his TED to show Neva life signs. “MacDonald you see anything?! That was no feedback, powers still out.”

Dougal swore, and kneeled taking a defensive posture. Hi weapon was pressed to his shoulder and he slowly scanned engineering with his eyes. “I dinnae see a bloody thing!” The Scotsman grumbled. 

Seeing nothing in the room O’Shea lowered his weapon and moved as quickly as his mag boots would allow him to reach Neva. As he approached moments after she flew across the room he could see her trashing against the bulkhead, the display was showing her blood pressure and heart rate were through the roof. Reaching down he put his hand on her shoulder, “Neva, what happened?”

Hearing a familiar voice, Neva groaned and tossed her head slowly back and forth. “Nooo…” she whined. She heard a voice laugh within her mind growing softer, the Blackness uncoiling from her by degrees. 

Once it had retreated enough, Neva slowly opened her dark eyes. The light haloed around a dark form for a moment, then coalesced into the Security Officer. She saw his mouth move, but his voice was muffled. She looked at him quizically, tilting her head as if to hear better.

“Sir? What did you say?” Neva shook her head violently, the ordeal too harsh and too real to discuss. She pushed herself to a sitting position and looked around the room, then back at O’Shea. “I’ll be fine, Sir. Just needed to test the suit, I guess.” She gave a sheepish smile. 

Satisfied that there wasn’t an immediate external threat Dougal moved to O’Shea’s side, but still on alert. His first thought was to call Aimee, but he wasn’t in charge here. It wasn’t his call to make. “Sir, do we need my wife… Doctor MacDonald down here? The lass doesn’t look so bonnie.”

O’Shea glanced over at Dougal and nodded, “Possibly, either way, let’s notify Halsey,” he said before looking at Neva, “That was no suit issue or feedback, tell me exactly what happened.” He continued to watch Neva’s vitals as both her heart rate and blood pressure began to level out. 

“Aye the captain should know to be sure,” Dougal agreed. 

Neva looked at her lap, then up at the Security Officer. “I don’t know exactly how to explain, Sir. I don’t know what I tripped, just that I was about to connect the power. It wasn’t a short, Sir. I wouldn’t be thrown like that. I got PULLED away.” She swallowed a lump and continued with a pained expression. “I felt something coil around me like a snake. A…a Blackness…that’s all I could feel about it.” She squeeze her eyes shut, not wanting to relive the experience. “I…it wouldn’t stop…it choked.” She gulped down a breath as she opened her eyes again. “You brought me back, Sir. Thank you.” A small smile turned up the corners of her mouth. “Can I get back to work, Sir? I was almost done.”

O’Shea looked at the engineer with a bit of a shocked expression which he tried to hide. ‘She cannot be serious; talks about a strange blackness that tried to kill her and now just shrugs it off…engineers…’ he thought exasperated. “No, not yet Lieutenant Cordon, your readings are a bit all over the place. Give it a minute.” he said as he stood and turned to Dougal, “Keep an eye on her, whatever it was that happened here was not normal. I’m calling this in.”

“What did ye mean by O’Shea bringing you back lass?” Dougal asked looking at Neva with a mixture of sympathy and suspicion.

Neva looked over at Dougal with a sad grin. “I was stuck inside myself with that…that Thing. When I heard Lt. O’Shea, It…It…It let me go…” she trailed off…turning her head to watch the Lieutenant. “I’m sorry I wasn’t more careful…”

Dougal crossed himself in the ancient Catholic tradition and spoke a lorica in Scot’s Gaelic, “Biodh gàirdeanan Dhè mu’m ghualainn.”  He gave her sympathy, “The touch of the fairies… ghillie dhu or fachans. An ill wind blows to be sure aye.”

O’Shea glanced at Dougal, “You could say that again..”

Neva gave the security officer an interested look. “Sir, you’ll have to tell me about those creatures sometime.” She slid a quick glance at the derelic’s engineering room and shivered. “I may be an engineer, but I ain’t setting foot in that place if I have a say in it!” She looked back at her crewmates with a slight blush. “Not unless I’m ordered to, that is,” she amended.

“Oh just wee beasties that go bump in the night lass,” Dougal replied far more nonchalantly than he felt.  

Talking a step away from the two other officers O’Shea opened a com channel to the bridge, “O’Shea to Mercy,” but all he got was a low-level static on the channel. He repeated it twice more then he tried the other away team but didn’t get anything from them either. He turned to look back at the others. “There is some kind of interference, Lieutenant MacDonald, give it a try, could be my suit,” he said and looked over to Neva. “Your stats seem to be levelling out. Have you ever felt something like that before?”

Dougal nodded,  and activated his comm unit, “MacDonald to Mercy.” Nothing. “MacDonald to Commander Sorek. MacDonald to Doctor MacDonald.” Still nothing. Dougal gave O’Shea a simple shake of his head. Externally he was calm, but inside he was fighting down terror threatening to boil over and consume him.  In battle he had something to focus this fear on… here there was nothing but the inky blackness that seemed to close in on them.

Neva shook her head. “No Sir. It’s not something I want to repeat, either.” She slowly got up, pushing against the bulkhead for balance. 

“Damnit,” O’Shea muttered to himself after clicking the comms off. Flicking them back on he started to scan the room in more detail with his tricorder looking for the usual culprits. “Ok, that this damn odd. They had been working not long ago. What has changed…beyond some invisible black snake thing.” As the spoke he monitored the radiation levels and whatever signals were within the room. As he swept over the core where Neva had been working there was a low-level unknown energy reading. “Lieutenant Cordon, what do you make of these readings?” he said as he sent his tricorder readings over to Neva’s.

Turning to look at Dougal, “How are you doing? Part of me says we should bug out but even if we need to go for a spacewalk through that breach back there. The last thing I want is to come up against some unknown and unseen entity; that is what the scientists are for…”

“I’ll do lad,” Dougal replied. His palms were sweaty,  and there was no way to wipe them inside the suit.  Another discomfort. Sighing he looked to the entrance to engineering. In the corridor beyond lay the breech. “You an the lass should go to the exfil point. I’ll do the spacewalk.  Maybe outside the hull I can establish comms with the ship.”

O’Shea looked at Dougal and nodded, “That may be for the best, let’s see what our engineer thinks then we will decide. We need information at the moment.”

The Engineer perused the readings, brow furrowing at the readout. “This isn’t right, Sir. The systems were…” That gaze turned incredulous. “Sort of…repaired. It’s wrong, Sir.” She looked up and then around the room, brows down again. “Whoever tried, they didn’t know what they were doing.” Her head snapped to O’Shea, recognition dawning. “THAT’S why the repairs to the Crystals were not as bad as I thought they’d be!” 

Neva’s expression turned fearful. “Sir, I don’t like this. In MANY ways.”

“Can you elaborate on that? Are we and the ship in danger?” O’Shea said as he tightened his grip on his rifle and scanned the room with cold and calculating eyes. “I am thinking we should pull back and see what the other team found.” 

Neva shook her head. “Sorry, Sir. That’s all I can figure out.” She scanned the place and shivered. “Leaving sounds REALLY good!” She hopped over to him and nodded decisively. “Who’s ready for a spacewalk?” She smirked and walked away.

Dougal frowned, “I dinnae ken what’s worse.  Spacewalking or hanging out here with the wee fairies and ghosts.” He let out a long sigh, “Aye let’s get this over with.”

“MacDonald, you take point, I will bring up the rear.” O’Shea said as he pointed to the door, Once we are out the Mercy will see us one way or another.” He watched the others begin to make their way out of Engineering, before he turned to leave he did a slow sweep of the room making sure everything was captured on the helmet camera and double check that the tricorder readings were logged. As his eyes came to rest on the core and the spot Neva had been working he muttered, “Níl sé seo thart. Whatever you are this isn’t over.” With that, he turned and left engineering following Neva and Dougal through the ghost ship towards the gapping breach in its side.

Moments later the three of them found themselves standing looking out at the empty black. “Signals still jammed,” O’Shea said. Lets Get out of here and update Halsey. With that He pushed off into the void.