Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 2: Wayward Sons and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

40 – What Darkness Lies Within

USS Mackenzie
11.26.2400 @ 0800
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“Our scientists have completed their preliminary study of the samples of Blood Dilithium.  Reports are on your PADDs.”  Sadie Fowler stood at the head of the briefing room table, the screen behind her displaying a summary of the findings.  “Engineering has finished the construction of the trumpet device.  Science has completed the conversion of Cargo Bay 2 into a secure and shielded testing area for the device.”  Fowler indicated it was Jordan’s turn.

The Chief Medical Officer didn’t stand as she reported, “We’ve outfitted all of our empaths and telepaths with devices designed and tested to prevent any effect from the stuff.  Those devices will also monitor in real-time their vitals so we’ll have an indication if something is off.  We’re using reports from the various ships in the Delta Quadrant that have already been through this – we learned a lot from the unpleasant experiences they went through.  We’re still learning, so science and medical will be working together to keep a close eye as we go.”

Fowler picked back up, “They’ve secured the samples and are ready for testing.  We’ve got multiple video and sensor readings being recorded.  We’ll also be transmitting to Starfleet operations on Markonian Outpost live as we work so they can see as well.”  She returned to her seat, and the eyes at the table turned to their commanding officer.

Captain Harris sat at the head of the table and returned the looks from his command team, “Thank you for your efforts.  Each of you has done an incredible job in trying circumstances, to say the least.  We’re going to do some final testing of the samples.  I’ve received our return orders to be back at the wormhole on the 30th, ready to head home.”

Prentice spoke up, “Do we have orders once we’re back home, sir?”  It was the question everyone had been quietly muttering under their breath in the last few days.  They were yearning to get back to the stability of their task force assignment.

“We’re due a brief shore leave and then….yes.  To be determined, but it’ll be back in our mission area.”  He glanced around for any further questions and stood, “Then we’re dismissed.  We’ll start the testing at 1000 hours.”  The crew drained from the room slowly.  Harris spoke with each of them with encouragement and hope – they had been through a lot in the last 27 days.  It had begun to feel as if it were longer for everyone.  Reid remained in her chair, eyeing him.  “Yes, Jordan?”  He sat roughly in his chair and returned her stare.

“You really think it’s a good idea to be back in the chair?”  It wasn’t an accusation, and the softness in her voice helped her words land gently.

He leaned over the table, hands clasped.  “I don’t think Okada would have made it much longer.  I passed Lieutenant Woodward’s tests, and I finished your requirements.”

Reid narrowed her eyes, “Barely, ‘Brose.  You squeaked by with me.”

The CO stared at her for a moment, “You’re serious.”  He thought for a moment, “You’re not concerned enough to have me removed from command.”

A shrug, “I’m worried for you, ‘Brose.  We both know how much of a monster grief can be.”  He gave a half nod, acknowledging the losses they had recently grappled with on the Edinburgh and now fresh loss on the Mackenzie.  “I need to ask for a favor.”  His eyebrows went up, but he motioned for her to continue, “I want to ask to be on the bridge for the remainder of this mission.”

He let out a light scoff, “You want to keep track of me.”

She returned the scoff with a bit heavier weight, “You know that’s not the case.  I need to make sure you’re OK…that you won’t try and do this alone.  That you won’t get lost in the forest and lose sight of the rest of us…of me.”

Ambrose stood from his chair and settled into the chair next to her, turning to face her and putting his hands in hers, “Jord…if there’s one thing I’ll never lose…it’s you.  You’ve kept me anchored in the middle of this storm.  You’ve been the constant.  The lighthouse.  I couldn’t imagine doing this without you.  You bring me back to life, Jord…and I’m incredibly thankful for you.”

She smiled, her eyes twinkling with the emotions he’d unearthed with his deep words.  “Thank you, ‘Brose.”  They embraced in the chairs and held each other for several minutes until they slowly separated.

“Permission to be stationed on the bridge is given. I promise not to call you ‘Bones’.”  She chuckled at the reference, and they left the briefing room together, smiles bridging over the growing river of pain.

 

“Cargo Bay 2 is secure.” Kondo stood at the reinforced and shielded glass as he continued to monitor from his mobile console.  “We’ve secured all decks.”

Harris stood within the cargo bay, his PADD in hand, as he observed the final checks being done by science, medical, and engineering.  Okada had made it clear she would be on site, and Jordan had agreed.  She was joined by Fowler and several senior members of her team.  He turned to Fowler, “Proceed when ready, Lieutenant.” 

Sadie activated the power to the trumpet as the additional layers of shielding and preventive measures snapped into place.  She tapped the console, “Activating trumpet…and directing to samples.”  The whine of the equipment screeched until it dropped to a low rumble, the beam appearing and impacting with the Blood Dilithium. The room was illuminated in the red scattered glow from the mineral, and everyone felt the sudden onset of a prickling at the back of their neck.  Fowler warned, “Symptoms are present on subjects in the test area but within limits.  Everyone, you will feel those things we discussed as we increase the power.  Keep breathing and reminding yourself what you’re feeling isn’t real.”  The beam increased, and the gathered crew shuffled nervously as they felt the increased anxiety building slowly as if a small wave sliding across a slick beach and retreating…and then repeating.

The beam reached full power, and suddenly an array of voices filled the room at various volumes until they coalesced into one mind speaking, “WE ARE THE BRENARI.  OUR VOICES SPEAK FOR THE DEAD.  THE DYING.  THE SUFFERING.”

Harris stepped forward slightly, “We know of what has happened to you.  We…are sorry.”

“SORRY WILL NOT RELEASE OUR PAIN.  IT WILL NOT RELEASE OUR ANGER.  OUR FURY.”

A moment passed as Harris considered what to say next, and he settled on, “How can we help you?”

“YOU MUST RELEASE US.  WE MUST AVENGE WHAT HAS BECOME OF OUR PEOPLE.  WE ARE CONTAINED.  WE MUST BREAK FREE.”

Fowler stood beside Harris, “Sir…this is…an interesting evolution.  I’m not sure we can release them…never mind the risks of such a thing.  I’m a little rusty on the rules of releasing a consciousness into the world.”

He shrugged, “Delta Quadrant doesn’t have rules, remember?  Trouble is…what happens if they get their revenge on the Devore…and they come for the rest of this quadrant?”

“WE ONLY SEEK VENGEANCE UPON THE DARKNESS THAT SHED OUR BLOOD.”

He glanced at Okada, who had a worried look on her face.  She nervously walked over to join him.  “I don’t know, sir.  This…is a big thing to consider.  Not to minimize your authority…but this might need to go up the chain.”

Harris sighed,” You’re not wrong, Chief Katsumi.  If we figured out how to release them…there’s a rule of unintended consequences that could have a galaxy-wide impact.  Fowler – power down the trumpet.  Work with your teams to see what possibility exists in…releasing them.  Keep me in the loop.”  He watched as the science team secured the samples under a protective covering and shook his head in wonder, “The Delta Quadrant never fails to surprise.”