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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 9: Blood Dilithium Part 1 (The Great Escape) and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

CH5: The One

Unknown
Stardate 240011.20, 1645 Hours
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The acrid smell of smoke was almost overwhelming, and the bright light aimed directly at her and through closed eyelids was more than enough to make the Betazoid feel uncomfortable. She felt powerless and heavy; she couldn’t move her hand, her head or her body. More importantly though, she still couldn’t feel anything, or anyone – and that panicked her.

Then she heard it; the sound of breathing that wasn’t her own. It heaved, like a man’s, rapid like he’d sprinted into the room. She listened, silent and almost still, the slightest tremble beneath her bonds as she grew more anxious, frightened. Whoever it was in the room with her, they moved slowly, their heavy feet causing a metallic ring to echo just slightly, and just enough to give her a clue as to her surroundings; she was perhaps on a ship or starbase, as opposed to a cave or some other natural dwelling. She certainly wasn’t in her cell on Haess IV anymore.

She slowly started blinking, desperately trying to open her eyes to see what was around her. ‘Where am I? Where is everyone?’ she panicked. Doctor Zinn? Matheus? Tempestava? Oh, poor Tempa! She suddenly recalled the vile, disgusting words she had hurled in the young Aenar’s direction, the mortification she now felt was more than justified. She had to apologise, probably beg for forgiveness, but she couldn’t do that if they weren’t there.

Then, the blinding light slowly subsided and she could take a look around her surroundings. A dark room, lit by consoles. Her lack of ability to move explained by the straps holding her in place on some sort of bed, a lamp just inches from her flushed face, which explained why it had been so bright before. Maybe she had been strapped to the bed for her own good to undergo medical treatment? It didn’t resemble anything the Away Team had seen on the surface of Haess. Then she remembered them; the Devore. Was she on one of their ships? Maybe the command center on the planet’s surface?

She was about to call out for help when she spotted something moving out of the corner of her eye. Something gangly, something enormous. Turning her head to the right to take a good look, she swiftly turned back and stared at the ceiling, a look of horror on her face as she contemplated what she had made out.

Languid, tall and gangly, the alien being had four long, upper limbs with long, pointed digits. Its skin, at least the skin that was visible to her, was a pale gray color, the kind of color Romulans looked when they’d had too much Romulan ale. Daring herself to look again, her eyes lingered a little longer. She estimated that the creature was between seven and eight feet tall, and she could definitely make out a strong rib cage through its clothing and boney arms. In truth, it almost looked fragile, to the point that it wouldn’t take much for the creature to have its arms or legs broken. An important mental note for later, perhaps.

“This one senses that you are awakening from the effects.”

The figure did not move from where it stood, its shadowed, veiled head did not twitch to look at her. And yet there was a sense that it was glowering at her, a palpable distaste in the tone of its words that brought about a feeling of disgust in the pit of the stomach. The light shifted away from the medical table, illuminating more of the room and her host.

‘Effects? Effects of what?’ Vittoria wondered, trying desperately to make sense of things despite the throbbing pain in both her temples. Then it came to her. Before she had been taken, the Away Team had been talking with Maevis about blood dilithium. Was that what this creature was referring to?

Now it moved, a steady, almost graceful economy of movement that spoke of martial discipline. Its skull seemed shrunk wrapped in its gray, exsanguinated skin. The eyes…were gone. Not only gone but wholly missing from its biology, the vestigial remains of their evolution being a pair of dimples in the skin where sockets had once resided at some point in the course of this species’ evolutionary period. And it moved closer now, its towering form leaning slightly forward.

“This one senses a heightened state of adrenal response,” it said without its lips moving, the words summoned to her ear by means unknown. “It shall be noted.”

“Where… where am I?” The Counsellor finally mustered the strength to engage with the creature, despite the terror burning away inside her, not to mention the concern about the whereabouts of the rest of the Away Team. “What am I doing here?” she asked quickly, with less hesitation this time.

The figure loomed menacingly for a moment longer, and then one of its spindly, fragile looking arms rose up. From the ceiling an armature descended, bringing with it a pane of glass on which lines and strobing colors flickered. It placed one digit upon the pane, cocking its head to one side as a bird might.

“Interesting. This one finds correlation in your curiosity, in your strength, in line with data points from the earliest parts of exposure, durings its investigatory phase,” it said. “This one finds you to to be most resilient. Would you also say that this behavior is commonplace within your socio-political bloc?”

With a deep breath, the Lieutenant summoned all of the courage she could muster and diverted her gaze towards the ceiling above. “I will not answer your questions. You will release me and return me to my people,” she demanded. It wasn’t quite the traditional name and service number prisoners were supposed to give, but she had to make it clear to the being that she would not tolerate being held captive, nor would she co-operate with it under duress.

“This one will note that,” it said after a moment. The screen retracted back into the ceiling, and the alien leaned back, returning to where it had stood. As it did so, a shaft of light tore through the room, but as a shadow passed through, it revealed itself to be a doorway. A smaller alien,instantly recognisable to her, stood several feet away. The door closed behind him, and a gust of frigid air followed. A Devore officer.

Slinking over to the Devore who had entered, the gangly creature and her more familiar captor conversed for what felt like a lifetime, before the taller one walked across to loom over the tied down Starfleet officer again, joined by the Devore officer.

“This one you may refer to as Inspector,” the first alien remarked, its ‘voice’ trailing a dry femininity with it as the words grated in her mind. “This one fulfills the same tactical purpose as your blue skin within this vessel’s hierarchy. This one is here to deliver final dispensation.”

‘Blue skin? The Captain!’ Vittoria’s thoughts started to gather pace as she inwardly made connections. It knew of the Captain at least, which meant she was likely alive, and the Ulysses probably close by.

“So, you’re the Captain, and what is this? Some sort of scientist?” Chiera queried, directing her ire at the silent Devore warrior. The words ‘final dispensation’ were a bit of a worry though. “Where am I? Where are my people?” the Betazoid asked again, her surroundings and the events unfolding becoming more cogent with each word. A lingering sense of disorientation remained thanks to the lack of her empathic abilities.

“This one is at liberty to say that your crews are well, and their bodies maintained adequately. You are in an investigatory zone,” it said/thought haughtily. “Like you, this one is from the quadrant of one, but this one now services them.”

‘Quadrant of one?’ Vittoria pondered, trying hard not to give anything away on the surface. Could it mean the Alpha Quadrant? Was it a native who had been captured here? It was then that the lack of lip movement from the ‘one’ made sense, in such a way that she chastised herself for not picking it up sooner. This ‘one’ as it referred to itself, was a telepath. And given how clear its words were, coupled with the continued suppression of her own abilities, it was probably an incredibly powerful telepath at that.

“Enough of that,” the first Devore soldier barked. “Your exposure to the blood dilithium leads a lot to be desired. Quite mild in comparison to some in this facility,” the older man sighed disapprovingly.

For the first time since waking up, Vittoria Chiera made a move to sit up and struggle against her restraints. “Where are my people?!” the normally placid woman seethed.

“They’re fine. But you, you will stay here until I get what I want,” he told her.

“Why, the cooperation of your Captain of course,” the man smiled, before sauntering away. “You may continue with your tests, Nihari!”

Struggling against the restraints, which only seemed to tighten further, the Betazoid grew more anxious than ever as the ‘one’ moved into position to recommence its tests.

“One’s message is simple,” it said, turning and waving a hand at a nearby box, a box that inexplicably levitated in its direction. When the ‘one’ had the box in its possession, Vittoria could feel again. And she didn’t like what she began to feel.

“Do not resist,” the creature warned her as a bright red glow began to emit from the box. The next phase of ‘its’ tests was about to begin.


Strict lockdown procedures had been implemented across the facility for a number of hours now, the outcome of Lieutenant Chiera’s emotional outbursts that had drawn significant attention to the Starfleet cell. Guards were on edge, patrolling more regularly, frequently scanning the prisoners and removing anyone of concern. It had been a number of days since the last Blood Dilithium reaction in the general populace, and any outbreak could pose a significant threat to the security of their operation. But for the watching Starfleet officers, it presented an opportunity.

Chiera’s violent reaction showed the Devore incarceration system to be far from infallible. It also raised the question of what the reactions of far more powerful telepaths, like Maevis, would be like if the system went down. Worrying, to say the least, but an opportunity nonetheless. When the time came, they would know how to act to make the most of their opportunity, but that would depend on the Counsellor, and whether she had revealed anything under torture.

Laid on their bunks and unable to sleep because of their missing colleague, the three remaining Starfleet officers were playing the specifics of the plan over and over again in their minds when they were disturbed by clattering at the door to their cell. Shifting nervously, the three watched as the door flung open. For a moment, there was nothing, no sign of anyone at the exit until suddenly, and violently, the Counsellor was unceremoniously dumped on the floor of the cell, the door locked behind her.

Doctor Zinn and his science counterpart flew off their bunks and hunkered down next to the prone female, interlocking their arms with hers and lifting her to her feet. She looked terrible, clearly subjected to all manner of sins by the Devore guards, but at least she was still Vittoria, and hadn’t suffered the same fate as poor Arivek.

“Can you hear me, Lieutenant?” Zinn asked the woman, using her rank in the usual way people would after trauma in order to try and ground the person in reality.

“I wish I couldn’t…” Vittoria’s chapped lips whispered, looking up at the Deltan through wincing eyes. “I have a banging headache,” she added, a silly smirk filling her face as best it could, a sign that the woman was still in there, behind the pain and suffering.

Zinn and Matheus let out a sigh of relief, and both chuckled as they helped the woman to her bunk, where Tempa was waiting to help them lay her down.

Upon seeing the Aenar, the Counsellor’s eyes welled, and she reached out to her younger friend. “Tempa…” she whispered through the pain barrier, “I’m so… sorry for what… I said,” she confessed, a wave of embarrassment and disgust filling her, a sense of dread washing over her at what the youngster might say. And she’d deserve every word of it, of that she was sure.

Placing a warm hand on the side of Chiera’s face, the Aenar’s touch was enough to console the Counsellor and reduce her to tears. Clutching the woman and holding her close, rocking her like a mother would a distressed child, the Aenar ‘looked’ in the direction of their male counterparts.

“I think it’s time for Plan B. We need to get everyone out. We cannot wait…”

Comments

  • Ah a showcase of brutal experimentation or is ot torture? Poor Vittoria is put aside for her reaction to the blood diltihium that the Devore want to exploit even further. Not only for their own gain, but to use against the Captain. I felt for Vittoria to show her remorse to Tempa for what she had done to her, but blood dilithium is brutal by its own accord. Great post! Keep it up!

    November 12, 2022
  • An interesting development in the story. The Devore working with a telepath? The hypocrisy of it! Of course, powers like the Devore are no strangers to hypocrisy, at least in the shadows. I do wonder what might happen if such information was revealed. And such a unique alien creature as well. Well very described, even using the darkness as a way of adding to the creepy factor as well as hiding some details. Real horror movie vibes from the first part of the chapter.

    November 13, 2022
  • You've truly made the Devore in your story the mean, horrible, fiendish bad guys that they are. Their cruelty here has no end, whatever they did to Chiera is a pure example of this - but what did they do? Or are you teasing us and they didn't do anything? Which then leads me to my next question: what is Plan B? Is it just the Ulysses crew conducting a prison break? Or is that only part of it? I feel there is something 'more' here.

    November 13, 2022
  • This was among the best of your writing. You've always been so good at evoking a feeling in your prose by leaning into sensory perception and using the reader's sense-memory. This chapter used that technique in great effect. Your description and characterization of the alien creature, in particular, was absolutely haunting and properly alien. It's matter-of-fact tone made it even creepier! Yeesh!

    November 15, 2022