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Part of USS Sojourner: Mission 1 – Do not go gentle into that good night (Blood Dilithium Campaign) and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

M1 – Chp10: Grave men, near death (Part 2)

Malon Mining Colony - Unnamed Binary Pulsar System
November 20th, 2400: 03:45
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Malon Mining Colony

Thirty minutes later Ril held up her hand and gestured to the team to stop moving as they approached the door to the large processing plant that made up the lower levels of the colony. “I am getting some faint life signs up head, are you picking them up?”

Kerry nodded, “Yeah, only just picked them up now. I cannot tell how many there are though but they are through there.” Pointing towards the sealed door to the processing plant. 

Andrews stepped up to the door and peered at it, “Someone used an energy weapon to seal this closed from the outside. Lots of blast marks around here as well.” Looking around he bent down and examined one of the small crystal shards and its associated growth they had seen in several places, “Lots of these around here as well. What do you make of it Lieutenant?”

Ril shrugged, “Damned if I know, but if there are survivors in there we need to get them to safety. Andrews start cutting that door please, Allen, give him a hand.”

For the next two minutes, the two security officers used their phasers to cut through the heavy doors. As the final cut was finished Andrews stepped forward and gave it a firm push and it slid inwards slowly before gently falling to the floor in the low gravity of the asteroid. 

He looked back at Ril who nodded and Andrews slipped through the opening, its glowing edges fading rapidly in the cold vacuum around them. Ril quickly followed by the others entered the processing plant. 

They stood on a raised platform on the side of a cavernous room filled with machinery and equipment used in the processing of the ores and now blood dilithium. The room was bathed in a pulsing red light from a towering formation of blood dilithium that had grown up through the floor and pierced the ceiling above opening the room to space.

“Hope they have suits on…” muttered Allen as he looked around and snorted under his breath, clearly on edge.

Ril tried to suppress similar feelings as she stepped to the end of the platform. Glancing at her tricorder she frowned, “Readings show life signs are 15 meters ahead.”

“That can’t be right, I am not seeing any signs of EVA suits,” Joy said as she peered over the railing.

“Andrews, Allen, you’re with me. Kerry and Joy. You stay back here. Keep an eye on the door behind us.” Ril said before the three of them began to make their way down the stairs. 

Andrews stepped off the stairs onto the main floor of the processing plant and froze as he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. “You see that? Right over there, movement,” he said as he turned and raised his compression phase rifle in that direction. Its light illuminated several smaller crystals of blood dilithium.

“Let's check it out. They could be wounded,” Ril said as she began to move in that direction. 

As they approached several forms ambled out from behind the crystal formations. She raised her hand to wave at them but before Ril could get a good look at them Joy’s voice came over her com, “Survivors, I am on my way down.” Ril took a second to look at the forms and felt her blood run cold.

“Bloody hell,” came the sound of Andrews voice when his light fell on the survivors.

Coming towards them, without suits, exposed to the cold vacuum of space where the Malon miners and Devore soldiers. They looked withered, their faces gaunt but the most shocking thing was the blood dilithium growths sprouting from their bodies. The odd pulsing seen within the crystals continued under their skin.

The nearest one, a Devore, raised what remained of his hand, now almost entirely encased in crystal and lunged at Andrews who stumbled backwards and in panic fired his phaser striking the Devore. It let out a soundless scream in the vacuum and they rushed towards the away team.

“Everyone back, up the stairs,” Ril shouted as she grabbed Andrews arm and hauled him up before they both turned and ran up the stairs. As Ril was about halfway up a small red object flashed past her and embedded itself in the wall. Glancing at it she realized with a sinking feeling that it was one of the blood dilithium shards they had found around the colony.   As she reached the top of the stairs she turned to see Andrews miss a step and stumble forward. As she did one of the shards struck him in the side of his suit, easily piercing it. He started to stand before collapsing to the ground, “Allen, cover me,” Ril said as she moved to Andrews side. Allen began to fire at the oncoming Devore and Malon to little effect, “It isn’t working, stun has no effect, going to a higher setting.” As he did the Devore and Malon began to slow and stumble under the setting that should by all rights kill them.

Ril knelt down over the still form of Andrews and flipped him over and gasped. His eyes were wide as he tried to scream. She could see the shard in his side pulsing with the red light and as it did she watched similar light pulse just under Andrews skin travelling down towards the crystal. Within a second his face took on a similar withered and gaunt look before he went still.

A hand landed on her shoulder and Ril spun bringing her phaser up realizing at the last second it was Joy, “He is gone. There is nothing we can do for him.”

Ril looked back at the body of Andrews and activated her coms she raised the Sojourner, “We need an emergency beam out now! We are under attack, Andrews is dead.”

She raised her rifle and looked towards the stairs as several of the Devore and Malon heads became visible. She managed two quick shots before the world around her shimmered blue and she found herself standing in the Sojourner’s main transporter room. The transporter chief, crewman Trisim Floxan looked at them, “Off the pad now, I will get him to medical.”

Before she finished speaking Andrews body convulsed and he sat up. Trisim let out a string of curses in Denobulan. “I thought he was dead?” As she said that Ril looked down and saw the withered face of Andrews turn to look at her just as a dilithium shard began to spread across his forehead. 

“Ghuy'cha’,” Ril said as she stumbled back. “Not sick back. Back to the colony now, get it off the ship!”

Trisim looked on in shock but followed the orders and within a couple of seconds, Andrews body dematerialized and vanished.

Everyone in the room looked at Ril with shock on their face but Joy was the first to speak as she fumbled her helmet off. “What did you do? Why did you send him back? Maybe there was a chance still!” As she spoke her voice rose until she was shouting.

“He was gone..” Ril began as she sat down on the steps up to the transporter pad. Taking her helmet off she set it beside her. “Maybe there was a chance but I couldn’t risk it…”

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!” Joy said, anger seeping into her voice.

Ril sighed, “You saw the….them, the ‘survivors’,” a clear note of distaste in her voice, “Andrews was the same. I saw the crystal shard hit him, he withered before my eyes and crystal began to grow out of him, like them….it had to be done.”

Before anyone could respond Kirin’s voice came over the comm. “What happened down there? Is everyone all right?”

Ril looked between Kerry, Joy, Allen and Trisim and gave them a sad smile. Standing up she tapped the controls on the wall beside her opening the comms to the bridge.

“Captian, there were no survivors that could be helped. The blood dilithium did something to them, feed on them it seemed. We lost Andrews. I had to beam him back as the dilithium was spreading and we could risk contamination.”

There was silence for a moment before Kirin responded, her voice tightly controlled. “Ok. I want you and Kerry to report to the bridge right away I need to know what is going on.”

Ril glanced and Kerry and nodded, “Be there shortly.” She heard the comms cut off from the bridge and looked over at Joy and Allen. Pulling out her tricorder Ril tossed it Joy, “Take the readings to the doctor he may be able to make something of it. I was able to scan Andrews as he died.” Turning to Allen her face grew serious. “I want to know why the phasers only slowed them down. Study the readings we took and figure out a way of stunning them at the very least.”

Trisim looked back and forth between everyone before speaking, “Nurse Joy I have heard the Doctor could use some assistance as well. The telepaths on board are showing signs of dilithium exposure. He had to sedate a few of them.” Joy looked at Trisim with a questioning look but Trisim continued “We had to transport a few of them to sickbay.”

USS Sojourner; Bridge - Deck 1

Twenty minutes later Ril and Kerry walked onto the bridge and everyone turned to look at them. Belania smiled sadly at them and mouthed, ‘Speak soon.’

Kirin stood from the command chair, “Ready Room, now.” Her voice and demeanour showed that she was clearly angry. Before she made it halfway there Belania spoke up, alarm ringing in her voice.

“Power signatures on the mining ship. It's not their core though.” 

The view screen changed to show the Malon mining ship as it began to move away from the mining colony though its engine were still dark. The crystal growth had increased and the vessel was now mostly covered by the blood dilithium. 

“Hail them,” Kirin ordered but Belania shook her head, “No response. It looks like their systems are still down. I have no idea how they are moving.” The vessel glided smoothly towards the Sojourner, spinning slowly, it's odd crystalline protrusions expanding, taking on a fractal pattern.

“Go to yellow alert and raise shields,” Kirin said and nodded to Ril.

“I don’t think anything is alive down there, the dilithium did something to them. It isn’t normal blood dilithium.” Ril said as she took her post at the tactical station.

Looking back at Ril, Kirin shook her head, “And what are you suggesting we destroy it out of hand?”

“It might…” Ril began but was cut off as her console started flashing warming lights. “Energy spike, possibly a weapon.”

As soon as she finished speaking a white beam shot forth from one of the large blood-dilithium cyrtals protruding from the hull of the once mining ship. The beam slice through the void between them and struck the Sojourner shaking the ship violently. 

“It didn't penetrate the shields but they are down to 60%. It seems to be draining them! Fifty percent!” Ril exclaimed.

Kirin growled under her breath, “Red Alert! No one attacks my ship. Ril return fire!”

The Sojourner rotated lining up on the mining vessels as it avoided another blast of the unknown energy beam. Its type-XII phaser arrays began to fire. Multiple beams struck the crystal formations on the attacking vessel causing them to glow even brighter for a moment before returning to normal. “Minimal damage, it absorbed the blasts.” 

Another of the beams shot forth and struck the Sojourner causing several consoles on the bridge to explode in a shower of sparks, including the conn. Ensign Dese Tycon was flung backwards, landing in a sprawl. 

"We've lost shield, damage in decks one through five. Hull breach on deck four and five. Emergency force fields are in place." Belania called out as she wipe blood from her forehead before it could run down I to her eye.

"Torpedos now! Full spread!" Kirin called as she knelt down beside Dese and checked her pulse. A sense of relief flooded through her when she felt a strong and steady pulse. 

"Torpedos away," came Ril's voice.

From the forward torpedo tubes five quantum torpedoes shot forth. Flashing across the kilometres between the Sojourner and the attacker in mere seconds they struck the exposed hull and the crystalline growths, detonating. The combined antimatter explosion ripped through the hull of the Malon mining ship and shattered the blood dilithium growths. The expanding matter antimatter reaction leaving nothing but a few pieces of wreckage where once a ship stood. 

"YES, Vessel destroyed!" exclaimed Ril with excitement and Joy. 

"Good, me a full damage report and get started on repairs," Kirin said before anger began to seep into her tone, “and figure out how the hell that weapon cut through our shields and why our phasers did nothing.”

Kerry glanced over at Belania and gave her a concerned look. “Right away ma'am.”

“No! You look at the blood dilithium and figure out why this happened. Belania and Ril you handle the shields and weapons.”

Ril nodded, “On it.”

Belania glanced at Ril and Kerry and frowned, it was unlike the Captain to react with aggression or anger. She knew Kirin had a temper but she always kept that under tight control. “Captain, I detected a possible signal sent from the Malon vessel just before the torpedoes hit. It doesn't match any Malon signal that we have on record.”

Kirin sighed, shaking her head as she helped Dese sit up. "Ok, keep an eye on that," she growled before turning to Dese. “Get yourself to medical and have the doctor or Nurse Joy check you out.”

She waved one of the damage control crewmen over who had just arrived on the bridge, “Make sure she gets there ok.”

With that she stood and turned to the turbolift, "I need to go see the damage, contact me the second you find anything." As she stepped onto the lift she rubbed her forehead, 'Where did this headache come from,' she thought.

Comments

  • This reminds of a little diddy from "The Little Mermaid". The poor unfortunate souls. Such a creepy post. This is sci-fi and more horror. Great job.

    November 26, 2022
  • Ah classic shambling zombies! Was a nice descriptive chase scene and upping of the stakes by losing a crewmember. Sets the cost for tangling with these BD zombies for sure. Really enjoyed this and you've got a good grasp of this type of horror. Looking forward to seeing some more of this mystery and how it plays out as you've got a neat and interesting little piece going on here.

    December 3, 2022
  • I have to echo my amusement at blood dilithium zombies. It's a creepy idea on its own, but the way you've written the emotional reactions of your characters has sold it all the more. The body horror you conveyed through the "assimilation" of Andrews was chilling indeed, as was the moral debate about how to handle him after. I wonder how that decision will affect Ril and her relationship with the crew?? And I'm certainly curious to see what's going on with Kirin and her outburst.

    December 5, 2022
  • BD zombies! Great little scene with wandering zombies. I like how you built the tension, then upped the stakes with Andrew’s death. The horror and reaction of the other crew was nicely written, and there’s definitely more going on here with Kirin’s outburst. Can’t wait to read more!

    December 8, 2022