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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 – Chp 12: The Heart of the Storm

USS Sojourner - Unnamed Binary Pulsar System
November 20th, 2400: 10:45
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USS Sojourner; Bridge – Deck 1

Ril sat on the bridge marvelling at the speed at which the repair teams could do their job. Beyond a couple of bits of debris from one of the consoles, everything looked almost new…almost. The consoles had been repaired or replaced and the majority of the systems were now fully operational. She checked the screen on the tactical station and pulled up the feed from one of the drones finishing off the final touches on the exterior component of the hull breach and was not disappointed with what she saw. The feed showed the drone applying the final layer of paint to the hull before pulling back showing a smooth section of the hull that only 5 hours before had been a gaping hole.

She opened a channel to Thanen, who was currently inspecting the repairs internally.  A moment later he responded, his face appearing on the small screen, “What can I do for you Ril?”

“I wanted to let you know that it looks like the drones have completed the external repairs. They are all heading back in now.”

“Perfect, they are just finishing things up here. The internal damage was not as bad as it could have been. I will be back on the bridge shortly.”

“Good, the sooner we have everything repaired the better. I do not like sitting here with the ship damaged.” Ril said with a fierce smile. “How did it go with the hauler? I have not heard from the team. Though I see they got it moving though.”

“Yeah, it went as well as expected. Anahis was able to plug the leak and there wasn’t anything wrong with the engine so she and the team are currently moving it to the edge of the system. No idea what to do with it once there though.”

“The theta radiation has been removed and it won’t interact with the pulsar’s radiation and blood dilithium again to make more of these things,” Ril said with a shudder as she thought back to what had happened to Andrews and the crystals starting to grow on his body.

“Exactly, let’s hope we have seen the last of those things. The remaining theta radiation should be enough to cause any more issues.” Thanen said, “But who knows.”

Before Ril could respond her station chimed and she glanced over at it. The sensors showed an inbound ship currently on the other side of the system. Due to the radiation in the system, the sensors were having a hard time identifying it. Ril looked up and over to Belania, “Bel, any chance you can get this cleared up?”

Belania responded without looking up from her console, “And what do you think I am working on already Ril?” The smile on her face was clearly evident in her voice. A moment later she looked up the smile fading, “The readings are unclear but it appears to be Devore but there are some very strange readings coming from it. It is possibly the survey ship they had here but I cannot be certain.”

Ril glanced over at the screen where the XO’s face was still present. “You catch that?”

Thanen nodded, “I am on my way. Put us on yellow alert and message the Captain.” With that, he cut the comms.

Ril quickly entered a couple of commands and the lighting shifted throughout the ship as yellow strobes went off and the Sojourer’s automated voice rang through the air, “Yellow alert! Captain to the bridge. Yellow alert!”

USS Sojourner; Captain’s Quarter – Deck 3

As the yellow alert sounds Kirin sat bolt upright in her bed. She felt exhausted but better than she had before now that the adrenaline has left her system and the extra suppressants were doing their job. Leaning over to her bedside table she tapped her combadge. “Bridge, report.” Before they had a chance to respond she was up and pulling on her uniform.

A moment later Ril’s voice came over the comms, “Captain. We have detected a ship entering the system. The radiation is interfering with our sensors but it appears to be a Devore ship and possibly the survey vessel that was here.”

“I am on my way.”

USS Sojourner; Bridge – Deck 1

Kirin stepped onto the bridge and looked around. “Any updates?”

Thanen, standing by the operations station, reviewing data with Belania looked over at her. “The ship is moving fast but we are not getting any active warp signatures from it but we are now 90% sure that it is the same Devore survey ship that was here. There is a residual signature indicating the drive is deactivated and it is a very close match. We should have a visual of the ship shortly.”

“What is our status? Shield and weapons operational and upgraded?” Kirin responded.

“Yes, the phaser and shield modifications are online in case that ship has been overrun by the crystals,” Ril said.

Before anyone else could speak Belania spoke, “They are entering visual range.” 

“On screen”

The viewscreen snapped into focus showing the asteroid field and zoomed in on a small, slightly sparkling red shape. The shape resolved itself into that of a moderate size Devore ship that matched the descriptions and readings provided by the Malon refugees. Well, it had once matched the descriptions of a Devore ship.

The Devore ship no longer resembled what it once was. Massive blood dilithium growths covered over 80% of the vessel, expanding out from it in multiple fractal-like patterns. Some of which were over two hundred meters long. All off which glowed a sinister red.

Everyone on the bridge stared at the vessel in shock before Ril spoke up. “Guess we now know that it was contaminated before it left. We cannot let it spread.”

“What can you tell us about it Belania?” Kirin asked.

“There are no energy readings from its engine but it is clearly moving.” Belania began, as the ship approached them. It rotated ever so slowly as it glided forwards, allowing the crew to get a view of it from all sides. “I am detecting some incredibly faint life signs on the ship, fainter than the mining colony. I do not think they are alive anymore given what we have seen.”

“No,” Ril said, “They may be alive but not as what they once were. Not anymore.”

Kirin glanced back at Ril, “Agreed, I will not risk people on a rescue mission. Keep our distance from it. It doesn’t appear to be hostile like the last one.” She looked over at the con and frowned, ‘Really wish Dese was back on her feet for this. Could use her piloting skills if this kicks off.’

Kirin then turned to Thanen. “Doesn’t it look familiar? The growths, that pattern to them….where have I seen that before?”

“Captain,” Belania said, taking the question as the perfect opening, “I have been running it through the federation database as I felt the same. I just got a hit. The closest comparison is the Crystalline entity, first encountered by the federation in 2338 when it destroyed the Omicron Theta colony. It was subsequently destroyed by the USS Enterprise-D in 2368 using a graviton pulse. Well, a continuous graviton emission.”

“The federation is aware of those but I doubt this is one, right? More likely a similar pattern of crystal growth and that it is crystal.” Ril asked.

“Hard to say.” Kirin responded looking back at the screen and the vessel, “We know that the rifts creating the blood dilithium seem to be made or contain the subspace imprint of collective telepathic rage from the substantial loss of Brenari lives at the hands of the Devore.”

“The vessel has stopped, it is sitting one thousand kilometres ahead of us,” Belania interjected. 

A moment later Kerry ran onto the bridge, clearly excited. “Sorry I am late, I had to finish something. I think we can modify the deflector dish so it acts like the subspace trumpet that was shared with the fleet. Maybe we can communicate with it. I only need 30 minutes to modify the dish so the subspace trumpet I made can connect.”

Kirin looked back at her and then at Thanen, “What do you think Thanen?”

Thanen frowned, “Everything we have seen shows us that this isn’t normal blood dilithium that we are dealing with here. Will it even work?”

Kerry nodded enthusiastically. “I didn’t have a telepath on hand but the samples we brought back from the mining station reacted, as far as I could tell, the way they should when exposed to the trumpet.”

“Right, it is an option. Kerry get started on those modifications, Belania you help her. Now we just need a telepath.” Kirin said, “Thanen check to see who is still on their feet and ask for a volunteer. I will not order anyone to do this.”

For the next half an hour the situation remained unchanged. The vessel, though the senior crew had begun to refer to it as the entity remained where it was, unmoving, beyond its slow rotation.

Almost to the minute the turbolift door opened and Kerry bounced onto the bridge followed by Belania. “Modifications are all set Ma’am. I can do it from up here. I think since we are close enough that telepath, whoever volunteered that is, should be able to be affected.”

“Ok, well let’s hope we can communicate. I believe Petty Officer Sorrolk you volunteered correct?” Kirin asked.

The Vulcan turned from one of the multipurpose stations and nodded, “You are correct Captain. I can confirm that our proximity to the blood dilithium vessel is within range of the effects. Since it has arrived I have been experiencing an increasing sense of unease.”

“Will you be ok to proceed?” Kirin asked, clearly concerned. “You should have mentioned something about that Sorrolk.”

“There was no need, it has not impacted my ability to complete my duties.”

“Very well. Kerry let’s proceed.” Kirin said.

Within minutes a shimmering beam shot forth from the large secondary deflector dish on the Sojourner and connected with the entity. As it did Sorrolk’s entire body went rigid where he sat.

Thanen who was standing beside him knelt down, “Sorrolk, can you hear me? What do you see or hear?”

There was no response as sweat began to bead on Sorrolk’s forehead. “Its….ITS….OK….le…leave….con….connected.”

“Captain, I am detecting three warp signatures incoming. Devore ships, I think they are warships.” Belania said.

“Damit, of course, they would show up now.” Kirin cursed.

“Captain!” Ril almost shouted. “Look.”

Before them, the red glow from the entity began to pulse and its rotation increased dramatically. A moment later it began to move towards the ship. As it did Sorrolk let out a scream and a trickle of green blood began to run down from his nose.

“Cut the connection now!” Kirin shouted and a second later the subspace trumpet shut down. 

“It is increasing speed and closing on us. I don’t think it liked the trumpet.” Ril said, “Or it detected the Devore also?”. Just as she finished speaking the ship shook violently as several white beams shot forth towards the Sojourner. “Direct hit. Shields at 80% but holding!”

“Get us out of here,” Kirin ordered as she turned to Thanen. Who was helping Sorrolk regain his feet.

Sorrolk looked worse for wear, “Captain,” he gasped. 

“What happened?” Kirin asked.

“I don’t know. It wasn’t as described in the reports from other ships. It was fragmented images and emotion.” His eyes darkened and a shudder racked his body as he recalled them, “I can still feel them, it. That thing out there is the embodiment of rage and hatred. You cannot communicate with it. All it feels is rage; it only wants revenge and death.”

Kirin looked back at the viewscreen as the entity fired again but the Sojourner was able to dodge out of the way.

“Get yourself to medical Sorrolk,” she said. “We need to get our people and get out of here. Message Anahis and the Wavecrest. Tell them to lay low and if anything happens to use they are to get to the nearest Starfleet vessel right away. Send then a data package with all our senor logs and findings here.”

As Kirin spoke the Sojourner shook violently gain and she was thrown from her feet, along with most of the bridge crew, as lights flickered across the bridge.

Ril staggered back to the tactical console. “Multiple direct hits, shields are down to 20%. We took a hit to the port nacelle. Warp is offline and impulse power is fluctuating.”

“Damnit, Bring us about and return fire. A full spread of torpedoes, and phasers.” Kirin ordered as she regained her seat.

The ship spun and a volley of 4 quantum torpedoes shot forth, streaking towards the entity accompanied by blasts from the phase pulse cannons and several directed beams from the phaser arrays. The weapons struck the entity and one of the upper growths began to glow as the energy weapons were absorbed before torpedos struck and the growth exploded into an expanding cloud of blood-red shards. As it happened the entity unleashed another series of beams striking the Sojourner.

The hit caused power to cut out temporarily and EPS conduits blew out across the ship. “Weapons offline and shields are failing Captain. We are getting power fluctuations on all desks.” Ril said, her hair dishevelled and a long run cut running down the side of her face after she was thrown to her side and hit the console.

Before Kirin could respond Belania spoke up. “The Devore warships have just dropped out of warp. The entity has stopped attacking us and is moving towards them. They are hailing us.”

“Oh, ok, put them on I guess.” Kirin said, “Audio only from our end.”

“Federation vessel. You are in violation of our space. You will be held accountable for your crimes and whatever it is you did to our vessel. Your ship is damaged, surrender now or else….” Came the voice of the senior most Devore officer on the ships before it cut off.

“The entity has opened fire on the Devore ships,” Ril said. “They are turning to face it…” she started to say but trailed off. “Something is happening to the entity, it is regenerating the fractured arm and others are forming…It’s the pulsar discharge, it has just swept over the entity but missed us.”

Belania chimed in, “The blood dilithium appears to have absorbed the energy and is using it to expand itself.”

“The Devore ships are struggling captain. One is attempting to withdraw while the other two are taking heavy damage.” Ril commented as they watched the battle play out on the view screen.

“I will not surrender this ship to them or lose it to that vessel.” Kirin spat. “How far are we from the out J-Class planet?”

Belania looked at her console and then back at Kirin, “About one hundred thousand kilometres. Why?”

“Get us to that J-Class planet. With the magnetic fields of those moons, we should be able to hide until the warp drive is fixed. We cannot take this thing alone and the Devore will not be of help.”

The conn officer confirmed and Sojourner turned away from the battle and the two hostile forces.

Within a few minutes, the Sojourner slipped behind a small moon with a strong magnetic field. “Ril, our are shields going to be able to withstand the going into gas clouds of the J-class?”

“Yes, they will hold. They are back to 15% and climbing.”

“Take us in Ril. Belania what is the status of the Devore?” Kirin asked.

“The final ship has just stopped firing. One has been destroyed outright. Another is adrift with plasma fires. I cannot get a good read on the last one but it appears to have lost all power and I am not reading any life signs. The entity appears to be heading towards the out of the system in the direction the Devore came from. It has just jumped to warp.”

“If it wasn’t for them I am not sure we would have made it. The blood dilithium and this whole situation is their own doing but it should be noted that their intervention allowed us to escape.” Turning to Thanen, who was working at the engineering console she continued. “Thanen, get this ship repaired. We can need to notify star fleet of this entity and find a way to destroy it.”

 

Comments

  • Daaaaaaamn. This isn't the heart of the storm. This is the outer edges where the winds keep getting stronger and stronger. You've done a good job of escalating and escalating the situation for the Sojourner. The imagery of a blood dilithium zombie starship (who's maybe a cousin to the crystalline entity) was unsettling enough to begin with, and then you layer in attacking Devore vessels, and disturbing telepathic contact with the blood dilithium. Whoa. Exciting stuff. How can the Sojourner defeat the zombie ship if it keeps regenerating, and the Sojourner has taken so much damage??

    December 9, 2022
  • Nice escalation! Now we have a zombie starship on the loose attacking the Devore! I liked the combat scenes with the infected ship, I really felt pulled into the scene there without being overwhelmed with technical detail. The escape to hide for repairs was nicely done and very (imo) classic trek. Looking forward to reading more!

    December 22, 2022