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Part of RRW Jarok: M1-Part I: Adrift

There’s a stench in the air…

Abandoned Warbird
October 2400
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As the runabout is held in place with the drifting warbird, anyone monitoring the runabout will witness the seven life signs disappear from within and reappear in several locations inside the warbird. Inside, what was a dimly lit vacant corridor that, illuminated on occasion, would be briefly lit by a flickering light was also briefly lit by the bright light from two green columns. The light would then dissipate after the transporter beam deposited two individuals in EV suits. However, that two seconds when the helmet’s automated system detected the lack of illumination and activated the torch lights on their right shoulder.

Saren lifted his left arm and pressed buttons on the armband device to activate the tricorder. “This is as close as we could get to the bridge. Some sort kind of interference all over the ship. Strange.”

“At least it didn’t beam us into the middle of a wall,” Herrana sighed, looking around to ascertain where exactly they were on the Warbird.

Saren sighed. “Scanners are unable to determine the cause of the interference.” He then pressed a button to activate the communicator. “Saren to teams Beta and Delta.” When they got no answer, he tried again. “Saren to teams Beta and Delta, respond.” After another solid minute of silence, Saren turned in place to look at Orex. “The interference is also causing communication problems. Strange. We are able to transport to specific areas of the ship but communication is disrupted.”

“Well that’s just all kinds of convenient,” Herrana said as she walked to a nearby door, opening it with the press of a console.

“This is the stellar cartography lab,” she said to Saren as she shown her rifle-mounted torch into the room. “That means the bridge is just down the hall. Let’s get there and figure out what’s keeping this bird on ice.”

“Agreed.” Said Saren as he allowed her to take the lead. Not because he wanted her on point or because he didn’t recognize the layout of the ship. Just mainly that she was ahead of him and it made logical sense. As they made their way towards the bridge, Saren kept looking about in search of bodies in the corridors, and yet, nothing. “Crew complement of this vessel is a third of the D’deridex-class warbirds. And yet, not a single body in the corridor.”

“Yes, this is extremely odd,” Herrana replied, gun raised as they ventured down the corridor. “Did your scans say anything about escape pods being launched? If there’s a… leakage of some kind I could see the crew bailing out ASAP.”

Saren thought for a moment, having gone back on the memory of the data that he reviewed multiple times on their trip here. He then shook his head and remembered that she was in front of him and could not see the motion. “Negative. Just to be sure.” He scanned the immediate area. “They are all still here. If there was a combat situation, it would be unwise to abandon their posts. So perhaps, we will find the bridge crew.”

“Perhaps,” Herrana replied, eyes alert and scanning her surroundings. Everything about this was just wrong, in a way that set off far too many mental alarm bells for comfort.

Eventually, the pair came upon the door to the bridge, and Herrana turned to face Saren. 

“Well, here we are,” she said. “Do you want to try and open the door normally, or via breaching charges? For all we know, the door controls might be booby trapped.”

Saren frowned when they came up to the bridge, blocked by the closed door. “I don’t remember there being a protocol to close the door during combat.” He said out loud. “Unless they weren’t in combat. Would explain the lack of scorch marks on the hull.” Also out loud. He took in a deep breath and sighed heavily in frustration. Nothing was adding up.

“I would rather not blow up a door that might be closed for a reason. If we need to close it back up, we would need it intact.” He told her, “Not only that, with no way to warn the other teams, setting off an explosion would certainly alarm them.” He said as he scanned the area around the door. “The hydraulic mechanism is seized. So we will have to force it open.” He made one more final pass on the door with the tricorder. “Strange. There is no magnetic seal. If these doors closed on their own, they would have sealed the bridge.” Saren sighed once more, deactivated the scanner on the armband, and grabbed what lip he could in the middle of the door. Herrana quickly moved to help.

When they got an inch or two open, he stuck his foot on the other half and used force to push the door panel open even wider, at least wide enough for two individuals in EV suits. “Ladies first.” He gestured to Orex and he would follow directly behind her. 

Thanks,” Herrana replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm as she shown her light into the room and strode inside. The first thing she saw were the bodies of the crew all over the floor, in multiple piles with someone or something in the middle.

“By the elements…” she whispered, eyes wide.

Saren shined the light from his rifle around the other side of the bridge and stopped at the navigation console. There was a Romulan female officer, slumped back on top of the console, their upper chest just over it so their arms dangled down to the floor. But that was not what made him hold the light on her, it was the look on her face and the damage done to it. Her eyelids were open but her eyes had rolled up into her skull with tears that had ran from her eyes down the side of her face. They weren’t normal tears though, they were of blood, her own blood. She also had deep claw marks on her cheeks and forehead, as well as an impression on her throat that was a clear indication that someone had choked her.

Saren walked up to the body and ran a scan. His frown deepened even more. “She was definitely strangled, her airway completely collapsed but…” he paused as he tried to make sense of the data.

“But what?” Herrana said as she approached to look at the woman’s ghastly remains. Her heart was beginning to pound in her chest – she’d never seen anything like this during her time in the Star Navy.

Saren turned in his suit to look directly at her. “She did not die from suffocation. Scans show a lot of blood cells in the brain, likely from a hemorrhage. That is the cause of death.”

“Then why does she have a collapsed airway?” Herrana then looked at a pile of bodies near them, and drew her tricorder. “We need to see if everyone else here died from similar hemorrhages.”

“Your question is good as mine. If she was already dead, who would continue to choke her?” He asked rhetorically. He then began to scan several bodies for a solid minute before his frown deepened so far that you think the look would be glued to his face. “I don’t understand any of this.” He began to head for one of the rear stations, grabbed the body in the chair and just shoved it to the floor, his frustrations clearly getting to him.

This Commander’s a bit hot headed… Herrana thought as she scanned the nearby corpses. That may be a problem… or an opportunity.

“These died from hemorrhages, too,” she spoke to him, standing with a bit of a grunt. “This is getting surreal.”

Saren yanked a panel open and began to tinker to get the console tapped into an alternate power source. As soon as the console came to life, he turned in place to look directly into Orex’s eyes. “Others died from their hearts exploding in their chest.” He then got back to his feet, only to sit down at the station to begin accessing logs.

“Commander, if you don’t mind me saying, we need to get out of here, call in a HAZOP team, and camp out in the shuttle until they arrive. We don’t have any business poking around what looks like a pretty high-intensity biohazard situation, and for all we know we might already be infected with… something. We need to find the rest of the crew and leave.”

Saren frowned and turned in the seat to look at her. “Are you all right, subcommander? I may have allowed my frustrations on this mystery to get away from me, but you sound like fear has claimed your judgement.” He then turned in the seat again to face the console. “We need to find out what happened and why. Did they pick something up from a planet? Was this a deliberate attack?” He turned again and looked at her. “We must find out for the safety of the Republic. Even if it means we have to scuttle the ship, we must know what caused this and find a defense.” He turned once more and went through the logs.

Fear,” Herrana scoffed, walking up very close to Saren. “Commander, have you ever seen crewmen succumb to Acute Radiation Syndrome? Back on the Harakon, we rescued two engineers from a D’deridex that had been near the singularity core during a containment failure. They got bombarded by over 200 rem. Even after the best treatment we could give them, they rotted from the inside out and were dead within a week. So yes, I take biohazards very seriously. We need to get out of here and leave this to the people who specialize in it. That’s not fear. That’s reason.

Saren knew what she was talking about, he had seen it from his own experience. He turned in the seat to look right at her, “We will head for the medical bay and rendezvous with Beta team. If Delta team has not restored functionality to the ship by then, we will get them and leave the ship.” He turned once more towards the console. “First we need to understand why and how this has happened.” He found the log that he wanted and played the audio.

“Very well,” Herrana sighed. “But if I feel my flesh start rotting off, I’m shooting myself in the head. Fair warning.” She leaned in close to hear the log as well.

“Commander’s Log; it has been two hours since the confrontation with the Free State warbird. We are on our way to the nearest starbase when the engines shut down. Internal communications are offline and reports coming from all departments state that the crew have become irrational and aggressive. There are those who are less affected by the gas than others, a weapon the Free State had installed into our life support systems. A team was successful in disconnecting the canister, but it is already empty, and the entire ship is filled with it. I am already showing the first symptoms of the gas, these…ridiculous pink polka dots on my skin are a strange side effect of a gas that is meant to kill us.” There was a pause then followed a heavy sigh, the voice starting to become high pitch and squeaky. “The doctor informed me that those who are more quickly affected by the gas, were extremely aggressive and hostile to others and to themselves. Some had even clawed their own eyes out. Others, died to either their hearts exploding or to a hemorrhage in the brain. Doctor has also informed me that they are unsure if they will be able to find the cure in time.” Another pause and then the Commander attempted to activate the self-destruct. “Unable to comply, voice authorization unrecognized.” said the ship’s computer. “Damnit. I can’t contact engineering to manually overload the core. Damn you Free State!” There were then sounds of banging, likely to a door and then the log terminated.

Saren stood up from the console and turned to Orex. “Check your suit, make sure that you were able to get a proper seal on it. I don’t want to take any chances.” Saren then checked his suit through the armband, to which it did not indicate any issues in the seals, but he inspected his suit as best as he could visually. “Once you’re good to go, we’ll head for the medical bay immediately. Maybe our doctor will succeed where this ship’s doctor has not. Or perhaps we can vent the gas out into space. Either way, we need this ship.”

“I’m all good,” Herrana said after running a quick diagnostic on her suit. “That wasn’t a suit-fitting joke, was it?” She shot Saren a wink. “Kidding. Let’s get out of here.”

Saren smirked and began to head for the door, this time he took the lead as they made their way toward the medical bay. Unfortunately for Saren and Herrana, their ev suit’s biofilters were failing. They had the most unfortunate chance of picking out the two ev suits that had faulty biofilters.