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Part of USS Odyssey: Into The Jaws of Death, Into The Mouth of Hell and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Burning The Midnight Oil

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000) Gradin Belt, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 77836.074
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“How bad is she?” Captain McCallister asked as he stepped into the docking control room.

Hunsen was leaning over a console and gazed over his shoulder after hearing the captain’s question. Standing up straight, the chief engineer threw the holographic display towards the captain’s direction and answered. “To put mildly, sir, a mess.” He pointed at the multiple red areas highlighted on the schematic of the Telemachus, indicating its damaged systems. Hunsen returned to his work and started to rub his forehead.

“Damn,” McCallister muttered as he saw the extent of injuries their attached ship had received. Walking across the room, McCallister looked down out of the transparent aluminium window to see the tractor beams guiding the Telemachus in for its final few meters. From up here, he could see many scorch marks along its hull and power fluctuations from the various exterior lighting flickering or just not working. McCallister looked at his chief engineer, who was still wearing his dress uniform like him. “You okay, Tremt?”

Hunsen just nodded, “Yeah, just a slight headache. I’m probably tired from the double shift and our diplomatic function.”

Nodding, McCallister couldn’t agree more with him. 

“Docking complete, sir,” Hunsen announced after the noise of the hatches and maglocks engagement was complete. “I’ve got an entire damage control division ready to get underway in making the Telemachus fit for service in no time.”

“Good, let’s go see Corella,” McCallister said as he headed towards the platform that swooped down in a curve towards the airlock between the Odyssey and Telemachus. After approaching the large door, the captain accepted confirmation for it to open. As the hanger doors hissed open from each other, he was met by Commander Banfield walking out with Doctor Forbes. “Welcome, home.” He said. “Are you guys okay?”

Banfield nodded as they stepped out of the airlock and gave a sigh. “Fine, thank you, sir. Most of the crew were beamed to sickbay.”

Forbes turned to his captain, “If you don’t mind, sir, I’d like to get up to sickbay to lend Doctor Slyvexs a hand.”

“Of course, Remi, go ahead,” McCallister said before turning back to Banfield. “What the hell happened, Corella?”

Banfield thanked Forbes for all his help before replying to her captain. “We’re not entirely sure, but a massive shockwave through subspace isn’t something I prefer to deal with again in a small vessel.” The chief science officer gained her composure. “A small planetoid on the edge of this sector exploded, but sensors detected an extortionate concentration of dilithium crystals on it.”

Confused by that statement, Hunsen appeared puzzled by her answer. “But we didn’t detect any-”

“Dilithium on our entry to this area, no, I know, but it’s there now, and it’s not the only source of dilithium, now,” Banfield responded. “I’d like to get to astrometrics, begin scanning this sector, and work out what is happening.”

“Slow down, commander,” McCallister paused her with both of his hands going up. “You mentioned there’s a Brenari scout nearby, also damaged. Chief Mayor Adale asked us to search for them; where are they?”

“Not that far, sir, but we also detected Devore warships that are also damaged from the shockwave,” Banfield mentioned. 

“Great, we go from one mess to another,” Hunsen grumbled as he rubbed his forehead. 

Ignoring the comment from his chief engineer, McCallister tapped his combadge. “McCallister to bridge,”

“Go ahead, sir,” Duncan replied. 

“Number One, use the information from the Brenari and the Telemachus’s sensor logs to find that missing scout, then set an intercept course for them at best possible speeds,” McCallister ordered. 

“We’re on it, captain,” Duncan stated. 

McCallister took a breath before issuing more commands, “And have Cline start scanning the area for Devore warships.”

“Understood.”

McCallister tapped his combadge after placing his hands on hips, “Is there anything else, Corella?”

“Just this,” She said, taking an isolinear chip out of her pocket and handing it to him. “After we sent our update to Starfleet, we received a hyper subspace message marked for your eyes only.”

 Taking it from her, McCallister thanked her and ordered her to report to sickbay at once to get checked out. Banfield attempted to argue with him, but he ignored her protest and gave her a firm look. “Tremt, maybe you should call it a night and get some sleep. Tierra can take over from you.”

“I appreciate it, sir, but everyone else has been up all night. I can do a few more hours.” Hunsen said, still rubbing his head. “But, I’ll escort Corella to sickbay and get myself some headache relief.”

After watching both commanders making their way in the same direction that Forbes took, McCallister sighed and headed to get the turbolift to the bridge. He wondered what Starfleet had sent him, so with a tight grip around the chip, he would read whatever they sent him before the alpha shift started. 


“They’re literally dead in the water,” Lenjir stated from looking at the long-range scan he had just performed. “Those Devore are not going to be causing us any trouble right now.”

“That’s not to say they’ve not got help coming,” Tomaz said as he looked at the same scan readings. The holographic projection of the sector that floated in the centre of the aft mission ops area was zoomed in to show the Devore warships that Banfield had found sitting on top of the exploded planetoid. “Looks like they took most of the brunt of that shockwave that took out the Telemachus.”

“Why are the Devore so far from their territory, though?” Craigen questioned from where he sat at his station, facing the hologram. “Do you think they know about the Brenari colony?”

“Who knows?” Lenjir answered with a shrug before yawning. “We’ll need to track the Devore in case they use their refractive shielding.”

Tomaz nodded in agreement, “I’ve already got the computer adjusting our sensors based on what we know about it, but that intel is almost thirty years old.”

“It’s a starting point, Tomaz,” Lenjir assured him. “Maybe we could approach the Brenari and see if they know anything about Devore stealth tech?”

Flemen nodded, “If we can, I’d be happy to ask, but don’t forget the captain has placed a radio silence with them for now.”

Stifling a yawn, Tomaz placed his hand in front of his mouth after Lenjir nodded with Flemen. At that point, Commander Duncan had gotten out of the captain’s chair to join them. “How’s it going, fellas?” 

Lenjir nodded with certainty, “I think we’re ready for whatever the Devore throws in our direction.”

“Good,” Duncan said with a grateful nod. “Gentlemen, why don’t you call it a night. We won’t be near the Brenari ship’s last whereabouts for another four hours. It’s been a long night; go home, get some sleep, and shower before we arrive. Delta shift can handle things while we’re recovering.”

The three men thanked their superior for the offer and started to make their way towards the turbolift when its doors opened, allowing Captain McCallister to step out. “Gentlemen, calling it an evening?” He asked. 

“Yes, sir,” Tomaz answered for them. 

Quickly, Duncan spoke up for them. “I said they could go get some rest before we reach the last known location of the Brenari scout, captain.”

“Absolutely,” McCallister agreed and wished them a good night before walking across the bridge towards Duncan. “Number One, why don’t you call it a night as well?”

“Not until you do the same, sir.” Duncan insisted. 

McCallister shook his head, “Don’t worry, Max, I’ve got this data package from Starfleet to read through. It won’t take me too long.” He gestured towards the isolinear chip in his hand.

“You sure?”

“I am. Good night, Max,” McCallister stated with a friendly smirk before indicating for the delta shift officer of the watch to take over while he proceeded to head towards his ready room. 

Duncan called out to the others to hold the turbolift for him as he did a mini-sprint across from the centre of the bridge towards the turbolift doors. Lenjir held the doors back with his hand to stop it from closing in on the first officer and gave enough room for him to enter the cart. 

“Thanks, guys,” Duncan said after a sigh of relief. “I’d be glad to hit the sack tonight.”

Tomaz stifled a yawn, “I just remembered I left your son and the captain’s son in charge of S’Tem’s bedtime routine; I hope he hasn’t caused them too much trouble.”

Rubbing his forehead, Flemen spoke up. “Did you not tell them about the holographic babysitter you have?”

Wincing, Tomaz shook his head. “No, I forgot.” He looked at Flemen and noticed how drained he looked. “You, okay, Craigen?”

“Just a bit of a headache,” Flemen mentioned. “I’m just tired.” He added as he undid his top collar, “It’d be nice to get out of this dress uniform.”

Duncan chuckled, “They were never designed to wear on duty, that’s for sure.”

“Agreed,” Lenjir said. 

“Or worn one size too small,” Tomaz said with a sarcastic tone towards Flemen, reminding him of their conversation from earlier on about his uniform being too small for him.

Throwing his hands up in defeat, Flemen gave in. “Okay, okay, Tomaz, I’ll replicate a new one before our next diplomatic function.”

Chuckling somewhat, Tomaz shook his head in disbelief. “You might want to do it soon, just in case we have to open peace negotiations with the Devore Imperium.”


“Remi, go home!” Slyvexs called out across sickbay. “Everyone else is!”

Forbes looked up from the console he was working at his boss and smirked. “I will; I’ve almost completed my report.” He yawned a bit before stretching his arms and back out a bit. “I don’t want to leave it, and I forget everything. How is everyone?” He asked as he picked up the coffee mug that sat on top of the main console monitor and proceeded to sip from it. 

Slyvexs gave a simple shrug, “They’re all fine. For those you treated on the Telemachus for cuts and bruises, we’ve double-checked to ensure they’re good and sent them home to rest. T’Rani is the only one I’m keeping in for further observations.”

“The chemical imbalance?” Forbes guessed after putting his mug down.

Slyvexs nodded, “Yes, but I don’t think it is what I initially thought it might have been.”

“Pon Farr?” Forbes whispered, even though only the two of them were in the small secluded medical office.

“Yeah,” Slyvexs agreed. “She’s not showing any other symptoms, and T’Rani said she’s got a few more years yet until her next cycle. I know T’Rani has had it rough with being unable to conceive, but in her last two Pon Farrs, she underwent the usual symptoms for it. Nurse Linkovich will keep an eye on her.”

“Have the headaches subsided?” Forbes wondered. 

“Almost, but I’ll run a deep neurological scan if they’ve not by the morning. It could be a side effect of her concussion; who knows with the Vulcan brain.” Slyvexs said with a sigh. “Right, come on, we need to call it a night before we rendezvous with that Brenari vessel. I’m expecting more casualties.”

“Let’s just hope that we don’t run into the Devore and the captain takes us into battle,” Forbes said as he finished the last sentence on his report, saved it and stood up to join his superior. 

“I’ve got a feeling the captain is enjoying the lack of combat recently; he’s upped his game lately with all the diplomatic efforts he has had to take on. I’m confident he’d prefer not to ruin that streak yet.” Slyvexs confidently said as she walked out of sickbay with her deputy beside her. 

“Let’s hope the Devore are in a diplomatic mood then,” Forbes cited just as the doors closed behind them. 


Carefully tip-toeing into his quarters, Lieutenant Commander Tomaz unzipped his entire dress uniform jacket and looked around his home to see if he could see anyone who was up. Everything appeared relatively peaceful because the lights were off, besides the low-level ones around some of the room’s edges. Slowly he moved across the living room and up the stairs towards the two bedrooms; he made his way towards S’Tem’s doorway and could see the hue of the low-level blue light. Peeking his head around the opening, he was presented with the one scene he wasn’t expecting to find. Lying in the middle of his bed with Toby, the Targ tucked under his arm was S’Tem, with Alfie and Jordan asleep on either side. Alfie with Flotter under his left arm and Jordan with Treevis. Suppressing a chuckle, Tomaz shook his head and pressed the button near the doorway to switch the lights off entirely before allowing the door to close. Grateful that both cadets had offered to look after S’Tem while he was needed on the bridge, Tomaz didn’t want to disturb their sleep but would ensure, at some point, he would repay them for their efforts. 

Heading across the hallway, he made his way towards his own room and sent a message to the cadets’ fathers, so they knew where they were and why. After that, he proceeded to get himself changed for bed. First, he took a quick sonic shower before putting on his pyjamas. He was about to crawl into bed and take off his breathing apparatus when he heard a knock on the downstairs door. Confused by that noise, he quickly made his way down the stairs and towards the main entrance to his quarters. Pressing the side console by the door, he opened the door to find Flemen standing in front of him. Wearing just his pyjama bottoms, Tomaz was surprised to see his friend there.

“Craigen, what’s up?” He asked with a whisper, as he didn’t want to wake S’Tem and the others. 

Flemen didn’t answer but just stared at him with a sombre expression.

“Craigen, you okay?” Tomaz asked again, this time reaching out to touch Flemen’s arm. 

Flemen said nothing. He appeared extremely pale, but Tomaz felt his skin was extremely clammy; it was clear that Flemen had sweated a lot.

Tomaz put both hands on Flemen’s arms. “Craigen, you’re worrying me. What’s wrong?” He asked in a normal voice. 

The diplomatic officer still just stood there and said nothing. 

Feeling like he had to do something, Tomaz pulled Flemen into his quarters and got him to move. Walking in an almost trance state, Flemen moved in under the careful guidance of Tomaz. “Craigen, can you hear me?” Tomaz asked again. He was just considering calling sickbay when Flemen snapped out of whatever was causing this behaviour and appeared to take a long deep breath. 

“Tomaz, I can hear them,” Flemen said, sobbing. “Make them stop.”

Pulling his friend in to comfort him, Tomaz rubbed his back. “Who can you hear, Craigen? What are they doing?”

Flemen, in a very uncharacteristic way, continued to cry and just shook his head as he hugged his friend back, “I don’t know, they need to stop.” His mood then changed to anger the despair as he looked up and placed both hands around his forehead as if he was trying to focus on something but couldn’t.

“Dad, is Uncle Craigen okay?” S’Tem asked from the top of the stairs.

“Commander, do you need any help?” Alfie asked next.

Tomaz looked over his shoulder and saw that S’Tem, Alfie and Jordan all stood awake, concerned about what was happening. “Everything’s okay; Uncle Craigen isn’t feeling well. Alfie, and Jordan, I hate to ask more of you, but can you take S’Tem back to his room while I take the commander to sickbay.”

“Sure,” Jordan answered as he and Alfie ushered S’Tem away.

Turning back to Flemen, who was almost rocking in a foetal position on the floor, Tomaz got down and tried to help his friend. “Craigen, whatever is happening, I want to help. Can you stand?” 

“They want us,” Flemen replied, sounding more and more delirious as his eyes popped open, and he took hold of Tomaz tightly. “I’ve got to protect you.”

Becoming increasingly concerned about his friend, Tomaz looked at Flemen. “Craigen, I’m okay, I promise.”

“No, you won’t be; they’re coming for us. He’s planning on something. We won’t survive. We never do.” Flemen was persipring a lot now. The sweat was pouring over his head and down his chest. 

Picking him up, Tomaz put one of Flemen’s arms around his shoulders and placed a supporting arm around Flemen’s back. “Come on, mate, we’re going to sickbay to help you.” Dragging Flemen out of his quarters, Tomaz knew he wouldn’t be getting any rest tonight but was concerned about whatever was affecting his friend. Had the Brenari done something to him while they were talking to him telepathically? He hoped that someone could help him as this was certainly not the same Flemen he was teasing hours ago.


Shocked at what he was watching, Captain McCallister had to put his mug of tea down as the video feed continued to share the logs from the USS Merevek. His update from Starfleet Command included a briefing package about what happened in the Delta Quadrant in the past couple of weeks while the Odyssey had been surveying the Gahery Sanctum. An unexpected and unexplained phenomenon had rippled through fourteen sectors of the Gradin Belt. With it came the surprise pop-up of dilithium crystals in locations that had never had dilithium deposits. Starfleet was eager for the Odyssey to map the area they were in and investigate the sector they were in. Apart of that package included what the Merevek crew had encountered with this new form of red dilithium. When they came into contact with the dilithium crystal, it caused their telepathic crewmembers to lose self-control and behaviour in erratic and irrational ways. Immediately he sent a message to everyone on the senior staff to meet first thing in the morning before they found the Brenari scout. This blood dilithium, the phrase coined by the Merevek crew, was dangerous, and he was certain he didn’t want to see it affecting his crew anytime soon. 

So he hoped…

Comments

  • Even amid the dangers thus far, this mission has felt like a pulpy adventure without jaws or hell. You've done a subtle job of introducing creeping dread, growing from chapter to chapter like a fungus. First, it was the threat of the Devore and especially that disabled ship. I hadn't considered that it may have back-up or a deeper knowledge of the Brenari colony. The senior staff's analysis of their dangers makes the Devore more worrisome with each chapter. And then the introduction of the "slight headaches" in Tremt and Flemen enhanced the again. By the last two scenes, it's gone from "that's suspicious" to oh god oh god they're all going to die!

    November 6, 2022
  • Poor Telemachus. She NEVER has a good time. It's very fun to see the Odyssey on the front line of the dilithium manifesting, and the way THAT has alerted the Devore to the presence of the shelter is an entertaining complication. You've done a good job of pitching the way blood dilithium is affecting the different characters differently - T'Rani's been through something weird so there's no reason for Sylvexs to connect that to what Flemen's experiencing or the Betazoids might be experiencing. I noticed last chapter the casual reminder that Flemen is somewhat empathic, and now here it comes with his collapse and McCallister finally getting the mission briefing. Very DAH DAH DUMMMM ending, love it.

    November 7, 2022
  • Wow, poor Telemachus having it rough good thing everyone is relatively alright. Though I am curious as to how Flemen is being affected even though he wasn't onboard the attached ship. Unless now that the ship is docked it's starting to affect others that are telepathic. I am curious to find out how it is going to go down, will they figure it out before things get worse? Love the ending and can't wait to read more!

    November 8, 2022
  • And roll intro! Everything is going Starfleet Fine until Command send an email, that’s when it all goes Starfleet Bad. Loved that McCallister didn’t get to read the message till the first obvious victim presents in the story. Nicely structured and paced good sir, loving what I’m reading.

    November 29, 2022