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Part of USS Corax: Supplies and Suspicions and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Chapter 7 – Cracks in the Veneer

Delta Quadrant
Nov. 2400
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T’Keterk couldn’t risk manhandling the Captain into Sickbay with the chance they could chance across Emma. Not knowing what hallucination she was working through presented more of a danger if they were stumbled on.

“Computer, initiate emergency site to transport to Sickbay.” T’Keterk spoke softly.

Within moments, T’Keterk and the Captain disappeared off the floor of Impulse Control and rematerialised in the ships infirmary.  He needed the Captain upright, mobile and with his faculties intact.

Keeping the Captain’s cortical inhibitor at the standard settings, he prepared a hypospray with sufficient stimulant to reawaken the Captain and laid Suin on the only biobed. Checking the restraints in case they were needed, he pressed the hypospray to the Aris’ upper arm and let the stimulant do its job.

Aris’ eyes snapped open, taking in his surroundings and checking for hostiles. The first thing he noticed was he was in the infirmary. The second was the ship was still moving. “What the hell is going on here?” Aris muttered under his breath. Not a moment ago he had been ambushed by the very people they were trying to help.

“Captain, we have a situation.” T’Keterk spoke from the captains left. “You may also be experiencing some headache symptoms.”

“You’ve got that right Lieutenant.” Aris groaned as the pain in his head made itself known. “Report.”

“Captain, I have reason to believe we have fallen under the influence of a neurogenic field employed by a space borne entity referred to as a Telepathic Pitcher Plant. “T’Keterk relayed to the captain. “I further believe the distress call we picked up didn’t exist and was likely used as bait to draw us in.”

Seeing the captain was about to interject, T’Keterk asked his last question. “What is the last thing you remember Captain?”

“We had landed on a small planetoid and began repairing a series of microfractures along the Corax’s hull.” Aris thought back. “I informed yourself and Ensign Swain I was going to scout out the survey teams location, then I was shot.”

“Captain, you never left the ship.” T’Keterk replied. “I found you in Impulse Control.”

Piecing the time frames together, Aris let out a soft gasp. “Lieutenant, did you fire on your Commanding Officer?”

“Affirmative, Captain.” T’Keterk replied. “You were unresponsive to all external stimuli and we couldn’t risk anything happening to our impulse engines.”

“Thank you Lieutenant.” Aris responded. “I want a full report on our situation to the best of the knowledge we have. Do we know the status of Ensign Swain?”

“Negative, Captain.” Came the response from T’Keterk. “Let me help you up and we can discuss a game plan to get ourselves out of this mess.”

T’Keterk gave Aris another stimulant boost before leading him to the small office off the main infirmary area.

Over the next hour T’Keterk filled in the Captain on what he had discovered and the abrupt interruption to his meditations. Flight controls were currently locked to the navigation console on the Bridge, no doubt under the watchful eye of the potentially compromised Ensign Swain.

“Time is of the essence here, Captain.” T’Keterk finished his briefing. “I have fitted us both with cortical inhibitors to try and combat the fields influence, but we will still have to work hard to differentiate between the creatures influence and what is really happening.”

Aris rested his head in his hands as the full realization of their predicament came to light. “How far off course have we navigated?”

“Unknown, Captain.” T’Keterk replied. “Until we can gain control of the navigation systems there is no way to know with certainty.”

As T’Keterk finished, Aris felt his vision splinter. For a moment he was back at the survey camp before the infirmary came back into full view. “Real?” he asked T’Keterk motioning to the ship around them.

“Real, Captain.” T’Keterk reassured his commanding Officer.

“Thank you, Lieutenant.” Aris nodded getting to his feet. “Lets get to the bridge and get our original mission back on track.”


Meanwhile on the Bridge, Emma was focusing on determining the best route to get off the planet. She had heard the captains order to transport him back in an hour if he didn’t return from his scouting expedition. 

Keeping an eye on the timer currently counting down she busied herself with plotting some new way points to try and avoid most of the dangers present in the Delta Quadrant. Especially a quick route back to the Barzan Wormhole in time for the small window when the wormhole was opened.


T’Keterk and Aris had been making their way back to the top levels of the ship, avoiding main corridors and minimising turbolift usage, they stuck to maintenance hatches and she ships network of jefferies tubes to remain as under the radar as possible. Based on their plotted route, they should emerge as near to the bridge as possible. 

“I will go first Captain.” T’Keterk informed Aris as soon as they were both in the corridors outside the bridge. “We do not know Ensign Swain’s current status, and the backup would be appreciated, Sir.”

“Affirmative, Lieutenant.” Aris replied. “Phasers on max stun until we can get an inhibitor fitted.”

“A sound decision, Captain.” T’Keterk replied with a slight nod. Taking positions on either side of the door to the main bridge, T’Keterk took a calming breath before entering the bridge.

“Lieutenant T’Keterk.” Emma nodded as T’Keterk made his way toward his station. “Have you heard from the Captain since his departure?”

“The Captain has left the ship?” T’Keterk queried. His own hallucination had the Captain filing reports and status updates. All to keep everyone occupied enough to not attempt to escape. or at least notice they were being influenced.

This was apparently the wrong thing to say as Emma got to her feet and slowly made her way to the engineering console. 

“He did, almost an hour ago with instructions to transport him back if he hadn’t returned within the hour.” Emma spoke softly yet firmly. She had a spilt second decision to make. Although they hadn’t detected any blood dilithium on the planet or within the vicinity of the ship, it was clear, something was affecting Lieutenant T’Keterk.

Pulling her phaser, she set the charge for maximum stun and aimed it toward T’Keterk. “Lieutenant T’Keterk, I have reason to believe you are currently under the effects of an external influence and thus now pose a threat to the successful completion of our mission.”

Not expecting this sudden turn of events, T’Keterk looked up from his console and stepped away with his hands raised. “Per our agreement at the commencement of the mission, I am eliminating the threat.”

Comments

  • Interesting turn of events, glad the Captain is alright. Now I am worried about Emma as she is probably under the influence of the pitcher plant. I was wondering if the Captain would walk out to prove to Emma that she was wrong and that he wasn't on the planet and that there is something going on. Now, I am wondering if Emma will actually shoot T'Keterk or if he will get her first. Great job can't wait to see what happens next.

    December 9, 2022
  • I'm really enjoying this mission: it's turning into a funhouse mirror. As much as we're following the story through T’Keterk's perspective, Emma's understanding of the current state and her theories about T’Keterk being under the influence of blood dilithium sound awfully convincing too. In the wise words of Doctor Crusher, "If there's nothing wrong with me, there must be something wrong with the universe!" I still don't know who to trust. T’Keterk is logical, but he only has his own senses to rely on and there's no guarantee the pitcher plant or blood dilithium aren't affecting him more than he knows. I'm surprised he didn't stun Emma. Especially since, I really really had to laugh at this exchange: Aris let out a soft gasp. “Lieutenant, did you fire on your Commanding Officer?”

    December 9, 2022