A crew member pops open an escape pod and guides some Damascus members into it before entering himself to lock the door. With a large bang, the escape pod gets launched, followed by another and another and another. The pods left from the back of the Damascus into a precise formation and together away from the Grissom-class ship that was their home for a short while. The ship was getting out of view from the small window of the escape pod as a concerned voice came up “Sir, are we going to be alright?”
Rami stood at the window seeing his ship drift away, and his friends left behind. He was frustrated and sad and yet could keep his cool. He looked over his shoulder and gave a comforting smile as he took a seat. “Listen to me, Ensign, and listen to me well. I will vow this promise to you, we shall return to Damascus, and we shall see her glory once more” He raised a finger. “Because I have served at the side of Captain Praugol for years now. She will ensure we have a home to return to.”
The crew member seemed more relaxed and looked at him with curiosity. “Could you tell us more about Captain Praugol? Did she really start her command at a Raven-class ship? Did you guys encounter anything too much for you?” So many questions were popping up as others joined in this campfire talk.
He lifted his hands to calm them down. “Alright, I will tell you the tales of the Jaxartes. The ship is indeed a Raven-class ship, and we have encountered problems that were too big for us to handle. But we managed to do it” He started to tell the story while his mind was not in the escape pod but with his friends on the Damascus bridge. They were going to face a dangerous creature with the Devore lurking. But deep inside,
USS Damascus – Bridge
The bridge was awkwardly quiet. The red flashing lights were still going as the sound was cut off. Kossaal placed a monitor device on Sazra’s template. “Can I say that this idea is still very reckless? You might be telepathic sensitive, so the effects are not as severe as a Vulcan would experience. But the sheer amount of blood dilithium that is present here and also now a Crystalline Entity that is tainted by the blood dilithium is going to do a lot to your body, Captain”
“Duly noted, Doctor. But as I already explained to you, the other two options are no options either. Or do you find a withdrawal from here that would lead to the potential capture of our crew by the Devore an option?” Sazra didn’t look at him as she sat in her chair, looking at the screen. The civilian ship was barely holding itself together and time was running out. “Are you done?” She asked sharply of her doctor.
With one final press, the monitor device gets activated as Kossaal shrugs while backing off from her. “All done here, I will be monitoring your body during this phase. With the lack of information. I have no idea what will happen to your body, but as said, it will be put under a lot of stress, and I will abort if I see it as unfit for your health Captain.” He pointed out his medical knowledge and grabbed the tricorder setting it up for this idiotic plan.
Giving the nod to him, Sazra looked at Silina, who stood at the tactical console and pressed a button “Sazra to Valerio, Adrián get the engines back operational as fast as you potentially can. I know I am asking a lot of you right now. But I know you…” She was interrupted.
“I know, Sazra, I know I can do it. The ship engines will be operational, and you better treat me to an R&R on some beach planet. I think we all deserve that after this mission” Adrián voice echoed on the communication.
Letting a smile go for a moment, “I will get you your beach planet day off, Commander. Good luck with the repairs, it will be a bumpy ride after this” Sazra had no idea what was going to happen, but it was not something she was particularly looking forward to.
“Thank you, and Sazra….good luck. Whatever happens, get back to us. Valerio out” The communication cuts off.
Sazra eyes were still locked at Silina as she took a deep breath “Let’s get this over with, shall we?” Looking back at the screen, “Commander Ruslanovna, lower the shields” The only measurement that was protected from the heavy influence of the blood dilithium. Sazra honestly didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, but this was the only path that she could take to confront whatever was out there.
“Why are you so sure this will be working, Captain?” A question suddenly popped that halted Silina from pressing the button as Sazra and Silina looked at Kossaal “We have no insurance that this will not upright drive you mentally mad. If that happens, I have no idea to how I will be bringing you back. But it seems you are very solid in your idea, why?”
It annoyed her a bit. They were on the verge of doing something very tricky and dangerous. But the man kept asking questions even if they were valid from a medical standpoint. Sazra shrugged and looked back at the screen “Because, in my intervention with whatever entered my mind, they told me to drop my walls and embrace it. Plus as I stated before. I know for sure that this being was not of my own making. It had nothing to do with my memories, and the behavior was different” Sazra leaned her head against the chair pillow “But to be honest, Doctor, you can see this as a live experiment. A volunteer experiment where you can witness what actually blood dilithium of this amount of exposure does to a telepathic person. Commander Ruslanovna, there is no time. Lower the shields”
Silina didn’t wanted to do this, she would see her Captain, her friend, her first true love being tortured. She looked at the screen and saw how the large entity was slowly destroying the ship and the asteroid that it was stuck on. Hearing the command she nodded “Lowering shields, good luck Captain” She press the button and saw the now 5% shields drop down and power redirected to a different system.
The red glow that was pushing against that of the blue shimmering shield of the Damascus finally broke through onto the hull. Sazra felt the intensity build up as the red light entered the bridge. She grabs with one hand her head as her right eye closes with the number of pain surges going through her head. The monitor on her template gave dangerous high readings. The blood dilithium was overloading her senses, and her ability to think straight and logically. All kinds of emotions raced through her.
“Captain the spikes are going overboard, I need to break this mission off right now!” But before Kossaal could do anything, he saw the left hand of Sazra raise as a sign to not interfere “This is bloody madness” He muttered to himself.
The waves of pain became heavier as figures started to appear on the bridge. Her mother, her father, Captain Vance, and other figures of her Starfleet Academy time. “Argggg” gritting her teeth as Sazra tried to process what was happening.
“She is not worthy of the Starfleet rank” Her father spoke disapprovingly.
“Come back home dear, you belong at our house. I will make you some nice food, and I met this young man for you that would be a perfect match as your husband” Her mother spoke in a concerned voice.
“She has no friends. Look at her” Some cadets pointed at her “She will never make it out there”
Sazra could feel the blood dripping out of her nose slowly “Please….go away” She pressed harder on her head, feeling the surges hitting her whole body.
“You are no Captain, you are just a lackey that is in service of Starfleet. You could have done so much more if you just accepted my offer to back the hell off. But no, you are responsible that K’Nala’s aunt is dead. You whisper the voices in her head to resist my authority and pay for it with her life. That blood is on your hands, Lieutenant,” Vance voice came over to her.
“PLEASE GO AWAY!” Sazra screamed with pain and frustration in her voice, placing now both hands on her head.
“I need to cut this off, Commander. Raise the shields!” Kossaal barks out the orders while kneeling at Sazra’s side.
But Silina walked to the other side of Sazra “No, she needs to do this. But she needs to know that she is not alone” She placed carefully her hand on the shoulder of her Captain “You can do this, Sazra, remember. Let the walls go, embrace it”
Sazra’s pure red eyes looked at Silina. Fear and sadness were seen in her facial expression, but she slowly nodded and looked back at the bridge. The moral support from Silina did get her mind back on track, ignoring the immense pain that felt like her head was being torn apart. She had placed her hands on the chair and let her mind slowly open up. Sazra suddenly stopped moving.
The head monitor was showing Sazra’s vitals getting lowered “She is stabilizing. What happened” Kossaal checked her body and then looked at her eyes “Her eyes have changed again. They are now vaguely red as if she is blind” Kossaal was both terrified and fascinated about what was happening right now to their Captain. “But somehow she is stable Commander, you better keep an eye out on that monster”
Silina already walked back to the console and gasped for a second then looked back at the doctor “The entity has stopped its attack on the transport. But it is now heading towards us” The large red, and white Crystalline Entity had indeed stopped its wrecking power on the transport ship and was making its way to Damascus.