Adrift outside USS Colorado
O’Shea adjusted the direction of his momentum with a small burst from the suit’s thrusters, so he faced the USS Colorado. The three of them drifted slowly away from the presumably derelict vessel into the great emptiness of the space beyond. He had not realized it when he was on the USS Colorado, but he felt himself relax with each passing meter they added to the growing gap. Looking over at the forms of his team, he could see Dougal and Neva, “How are you two holding up?”
Neva tried to keep herself together despite nausea threatening in her stomach. She hadn’t done an EVA since the Academy, and the experience was daunting. Bravery was key now; she was a Starfleet officer. Officers did NOT retch!
Trying to get her mind off her body, she bravely tried to answer the Security Chief. “OK, at the moment, Sir. Thank you.” Neva sucked in a deep breath again and gladly floated away from that terrible Thing.
I’ll do,” Dougal replied flatly. He was feeling sick and, at this point, was wishing he was back on the other ship with the wee beastie.
“Let’s see if we are clear of the interference,” O’Shea said and switched his coms to the channel both the away teams and the Mercy were on. “O’Shea to Mercy or Sorek, Anyone reading us?” As he did, he turned slowly to look over towards the imposing form of the Olympic-class vessel clearly visible in the distance. ‘Hope we are out of the interference and that our impromptu spacewalk wasn’t us going overboard…’
Izi and Commander Sorek had used an emergency escape conduit to leave the Colorado bridge. They were now moving carefully through the ship. It was dark and quiet, and with limited sensing from her antennae, as Humans said, Izi felt like she had moths in her stomach.
“Are you all right, Lieutenant?” said Sorek.
How did he know? Izi thought. “I’m fine, sir.” She didn’t want her XO to know how nervous she was.
A message came through the helmet comm. It was garbled, but Sorek could tell it was O’Shea.
“Sorek here. Your transmission was not clear. Are you able to hear me?”
Izi stopped, waiting to hear from the other team, hoping they were all right.
O’Shea turned his head, bringing the USS Colorado into view as the garbled voice of what he guessed was the XO, Sorek, came through, “Sir, we EVACED from the ship via a hull breach, we encountered an unknown entity, it assaulted Lieutenant Cordon and coms were jammed, recommend you get out yourself sir.”
Twisting to look at Neva and Dougal he switched the coms to them. “Either of you get much of that?”
“Nay, lad,” Dougal replied with his eyes closed. “It was garbled, to be sure.”
Neva shook her head solemnly. “Same as McDonald, Sir. Very garbled.” She swallowed hard again, pushing the nausea further down. ‘What I wouldn’t give for a transporter right now!’ She mused. 1
Izi looked at Commander Sorek, who seemed to be trying to work out what was said. “Did he say evaced?”
“I believe so. He also mentioned an entity,” said Sorek.
“Why would they do that?” Izi’s antennae shuddered.
“Their comm signals are blocked by some sort of interference,” said Sorek. “The logical conclusion is, they were unable to contact the Mercy. While on the bridge, we could contact them and successfully use the transporters. We should return there.”
“If we can’t reach them, does that mean we’re going on a little space walk of our own?” said Izi.
“It would seem so,” said Sorek.
“Cool!” Izi smiled.
USS Mercy – 1600
Halsey paced the bridge. He wasn’t given to nerves, but they’d been out of communication with the teams for a little bit too long for his liking. His wife turned in her chair, “Captain?”
Leopold slowed to a halt and glanced up at her, “A bit unsettled, that’s all. Anything on sensors?” She tapped at the console and shook her head. He moved to the front of the bridge and stared at the USS Colorado. Something caught his eye for a moment, and then it was gone. It was back again. Movement of some kind.
“Ensign Fleming – you seeing this?” The helm officer glanced up from his controls and stared with a nod. Halsey moved closer to the viewscreen, “Zoom in on that.” A second later, the view of O’Shea, Neva, and Dougal struggling through space filled the screen. The CO caught his breath in his throat, “Can we lock onto them?”
Maxwell tapped at the console as he coordinated with the transported room. The bridge crew remained glued to the screen and the drama unfolding before them. “We have a lock on all three, but we’re seeing interference of some kind coming their way – we’ll lose lock in 5 seconds.”
Halsey didn’t even wait to ask for more, “Get them home, Mr. Fleming…now.” He also didn’t wait for them to respond as he spun on his heels, “Lieutenant Choi, you have the CONN.”
Egrel was leaned over, elbow resting on the armrest and his chin in his hand, watching the viewscreen with a furrowed brow. He still could not shake that uneasy feeling and was running through the events of what he saw in his mind. He looked up sharply as Halsey spoke. The colour drained from his face as he processed his words and managed to barely get out a, “Yes, sir.” Bewildered, he watched the captain depart the bridge.
Halsey skidded through the transporter room door, concern filling his face as he laid eyes on his three officers. Two nurses were behind the CO and moved to the crew. Leopold let out a sigh, “I’m glad to have you back home. What happened out there?” As he spoke, the nurses began to help them out of their EV suits.
Happy to no longer be confined to the EV suit and standing on “solid ground,” Dougal grinned, “Nothing to worry about, sir. Just a wee beastie tossed Lt. Cordon around like a rag doll.” He glanced at O’Shea, his expression apologetic for having spoken out of turn. “Sorry, lad.”
O’Shea rolled his shoulders as he took off his helm and quirked a smile as Dougal responded to the Captain and nodded slightly to Dougal in acknowledgment. Turning to Halsey, “Sir, while Lieutenant Cordon was in the process of restarting the core, she was assaulted by an unknown entity and thrown across the room. I have it all recorded on the suit’s display. Neither Lieutenant MacDonald nor I could see what it was that hit her. It took her a few moments to regain herself, and given what she described, I suspect it was some sort of psychic attack. We tried to contact both the ship and the other team, but signals were being blocked. Given the disadvantage we were in I felt it was best to remove the team from the situation, hence are impromptu space walk.” O’Shea said as he looked over towards Neva as she was helped out of her suit, “Lieutenant MacDonald also found a neural interface of unknown design connected to the ship. We brought it back with us.”
Neva gave a sigh of relief at her silent wish being granted. “Yessir, they’re right. Whatever…I call it a Thing. I was PULLED, honestly.” When her helmet came off, she sucked in a breath of a WORKING Ship’s air. Recycled or not, she was thankful it was there. “I felt…Something…It…” Neva looked visibly shaken. “As Lt. MacDougal said, I got thrown backward. And that…Thing got into my mind and curled around me like a snake. It kept up until I heard Mr. O’Shea’s voice.”
Neva stepped out of her suit and shivered again harder this time. “It laughed and uncoiled after that.” She looked down as she straightened her uniform. “I’m sorry if this seems farfetched, Sir.” She looked back up, locking eyes with the Captain. “Every bit of my Betazoid self felt…uh, violated.” She wiped a hand down her face and closed her eyes. “Please, sir, allow me to go to my office and cool down. I feel overwhelmed and need to process this.”
O’Shea watched Neva as she spoke, “I would feel better if you got checked out by the Doc, first Lieutenant Cordon. I think we all should, it could have affected us as well without us realizing it.” Turning to look at the captain, he continued, “Your call though, sir.”
Halsey gave a nod, “While you were away, our Chief Counselor had a similar experience on the bridge…Lieutenant Walker did a gentle mind meld. She discovered there is more to whatever this is.” He made eye contact with his assistant chief, “Lieutenant Cordon – you’re both Betazoids. I want to make very sure your safety is ensured.” He moved to speak until he was interrupted.
“Excuse me, Captain,” said the transporter chief. “What about Commander Sorek and Lieutenant Iziraa?”
The eyes of the CO grew wide at the realization that he had nearly forgotten about them in the near catastrophe. “What about them indeed. Start scanning for them, Chief. You three are so ordered to report to Doctor MacDonald without delay.”
Dougal looked at O’Shea and then to Neva and shrugged, “I’m braw as the day I was born.”
O’Shea smirked at that, “Come on. Off to medical for a once over.” With that set his gear in one of the lockers for later collection and checking and turned to go to medical, the rest of the away team in tow.
Halsey spun to the chief, “Tell me you’ve found them.”
Sorek and Izi had retreated back through the corridor and up the escape conduit, returning to the Colorado bridge. Before contacting the Mercy, Izi felt a sensation in her antennae she had never experienced. There was a vibrating like someone grabbed and wiggled them inside her helmet. Gasping, she spun around as quickly as she could, looking behind her, which caused her mag boots to lose contact with the metal deck.
“Lieutenant, are you all right?” Sorek grabbed the floating Andorian and pulled her back to the floor. Iziraa looked at him like she didn’t know who he was. “Lieutenant? Iziraa?”
“I’m… I’m sorry, sir,” said Izi. “For a moment, it felt like someone else was here.”
“Are you sure you’re all right?” said Sorek, looking around the bridge. “No one else is here.”
“Yes, sir. I’m fine.”
Sorek studied Iziraa for a moment before tapping his comm badge. “Sorek to Mercy. Lieutenant Iziraa and I are ready to return.”
USS Mercy – Transporter Room
“Sir, Commander Sorek is hailing us – they are ready to return.”
Halsey sighed in relief, “First few days as CO and I nearly forget an away team. Get them home, Chief.” The officer smiled quietly and activated the link as the whine of the transporter accelerated, and the white light flashed for a moment before the two last members of the away team appeared. Halsey stepped forward, “Welcome back to the Mercy.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Sorek.
Back on the Mercy, Izi quickly removed her helmet, freeing her antennae. Closing her eyes while they moved in quick circles. she let out a soft moan. Opening her eyes, she saw everyone looking at her. Feeling her cheeks warming, she cleared her throat.
“Captain, while we were on the Colorado bridge, it felt like someone or something was there with us. In my EV suit, my sensing abilities were restricted, so I can’t say for sure, but….” Izi shrugged. “I don’t know how else to describe it.”
The CO’s frown hadn’t really gone away since the first away team had arrived, and this news wasn’t helping matters. Something was out there. “You’re the third person from the crew to report something occurring.” He explained the chief counselor’s situation and then related their assistant chief engineer’s experience. He pulled a medical tricorder from his belt and ran it over the security officer’s antennas and head carefully. As Halsey scanned her, he glanced at his XO, “Thoughts, Commander?”
“I did not sense or see anyone or anything,” said Sorek. “We must trust that our people did experience something.”
Halsey ran the scans one more time as he listened. There were elevated readings but nothing abnormal for her species. He caught her worried look, “You’re a little elevated on a few things… but it’s explained given what you felt over there.” The CO asked, “What do you feel, Lieutenant?”
An Andorian’s antennae were deeply personal and intimate, and Izi didn’t want to talk about hers, but this was important, and she needed to do her Starfleet duty. “Sir, it felt like someone reached inside my helmet and was holding… holding my antennae.” She paused. “It was… creepy. It was probably just my imagination.” She shrugged her shoulders.
Halsey listened carefully, “Thank you, Lieutenant. I appreciate your being willing to share.” He turned his attention back to the both of them, “I don’t think it was your imagination. I think something was reaching out on the Colorado…but I don’t think it’s something on the Colorado.” He glanced back at Izi, “I think the mistreatment of you would have been far more pronounced…and the effect on our two Betazoids wouldn’t have just been a rude push. Medically this makes some sense and no sense.” He nodded to Sorek, “I’ll certify you both for to return to duty.” He looked to the security officer, “Take what time you need to get your balance back, Lieutenant.”
“I’m ready now, sir,” said Izi. “Once I’m out of this suit, I’d like to take one of the tactical stations on the bridge.”
Halsey considered her for a moment. She was doing better even as she stood there, and Sorek offered no reason for her to be held from duty. He gestured to the door, “I’ll leave you to your duties.” They both headed out the door, leaving Halsey to consider what was really out there.
What had they stumbled onto?