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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 10: Blood Dilithium Part II (A Price Paid in Blood) and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

CH16: A Price Paid in Blood

Various
Stardate 240011.22, 2100 Hours (Concurrent with CH15)
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Leaving the bridge in the middle of a battle was never a Captain’s wish, but the news of the struggle in sickbay to save the life of Doctor Zinn was something she could not ignore. Even now, as she stood in the center of the turbo lift, eyes closed, feet tapping nervously and listening to the sounds of the battle raging around the ship, the Captain felt no remorse about going to her friend’s aid. She’d lost her good friend, Javorian, several months ago during the Century Storm and had been unable to help him; she was not going to make that mistake now.

In her distracted state, the Captain failed to realise that her journey to sickbay had taken somewhat longer than expected. When the turbo lift doors opened and she did finally open her eyes, the Captain realised that something was definitely amiss. Instead of being on deck twelve, she had somehow ended up a whole fourteen decks away on deck twenty-six. Instead of sickbay, she was staring at the corridor that led to the brig. Confused, she pressed her left index finger upon the control display near the door.

“Computer, deck twelve,” she requested. Silence greeted her. A second attempt wielded the same results. Concerned, she tapped her commbadge, but a familiar crackle sound indicated that, for some reason, the comm array was not functioning once again. She was about to prise the panel off the wall and try manually rerouting the turbolift when a deafening screech from several meters down the corridor startled her, and drew her attention. Lights in the corridor flickered and were extinguished into nothingness, apart from a light emitting from an open doorway several meters down the corridor.

It was the Brig itself. A sudden realisation dawned upon the commanding officer; had her plan, which never actually came to fruition, somehow worked without her and the senior staff? Had they managed to apprehend the attacker, Maevis?

Removing the phaser from the holster on her hip, the Captain sprinted the short distance to the prison cells and slid to a halt in the open doorway. The sight that greeted her was enough to induce vomiting in even the most hardcore of horror movie enthusiasts. Dismembered bodies littered the prison room, Starfleet and Devore alike. Trails of congealed blood told the story of people trying to escape, and suffering at the hands of what could only be described as a beast. Beasts of legend such as the Minotaur, or even the modern day Species 8472 failed to inspire the horror that she observed as she edged into the room, her phaser drawn in her quaking hand.

A sound in the depths of the room caused the blue-skinned woman to stop in her tracks, and strain her eyesight to make out the source of the noise from the shadows. But she didn’t need to. Two figures soon emerged, one pushing the other into the light.

Collapsing to his knees in the grasp of the mammoth creature behind him, Inspector Kravik looked nothing short of traumatised at what had befallen him, his people, and the additional Starfleet security officers who had been sent to keep them safe. But she didn’t have time to dwell on the man, instead her gaze was on the being behind him.

Tall and gangly, looking like a fragile tree that would blow over in a strong wind, the being was unlike anything she had seen before. Not a trace of hair on its body, the creature had divots where eyes would be expected, and the absence of a nose. Long, wrinkly fingers were attached to hands that clung to tendril like arms.

It was unmistakable; it was the creature they had been hunting all along. Not this Maevis character the away team had reported, but the collaborator everyone had presumed was left behind.

It was the ‘One’. And she could feel it bearing into her soul, despite the absence of eyes with which to see. Perhaps it was the extra-sensory perception her antennae provided, or perhaps it was something else, but she did not like the feeling as it snarled in her direction.


Sickbay in the midst of any battle was usually mayhem when the casualties rolled in and medical professionals were called out across the ship, but in this particular situation, the injured on the crew were not the issue. Instead, the telepathic crewmen who had been sedated until recently were busy making a nuisance of themselves. All four were laid on their biobeds, convulsing in a manner consistent with some form of toxic shock, but with no obvious cause present. As Doctor Torres and his inherited team went about their business the best they could, the convulsing seemed to get worse. Backs arched, shaking like crazy beneath the straps that contained their otherwise lifeless bodies. The biggest concern was the fact that all four crewmates began convulsing simultaneously; Chiera had shown a little more life than the others in recent hours, prompting hope she was turning a corner, but even she had regressed to such a state.

“Just do what you can to keep them secure and stable,” Torres barked at his team of nurses. He had no idea what else to say, entirely out of his comfort zone and out of his depth. Oh, how he wished Zinn was awake and back to his usual sarcastic self. He’d gladly trade places with the Deltan if it meant that he coul…

“NOOOOOOO!”

Four simultaneous cries, a mixture of aggression and a feeling of trauma,  erupted around the medical bay, scaring the crap out of the doctors and nurses tending to the telepaths, and causing Torres to take a step back from the biobed housing the young Aenar that he had been observing at the time of the convulsions commencing.

Suddenly, the violent shaking stopped, and all four bodies slumped back to the biobeds; heavy breathing indicated the toll the outbursts had played on the unconscious bodies of the away team. But there were signs of life at last, as eyes began to open. Not in a flicker, but wide-eyed and with a great sense of concern.

“Captain… Find the Captain…” Tempestava whispered, turning her head to look at the concerned face of the Doctor, her pale green antennae drooping drastically as tears rolled down her cheeks.

Torres placed a hand on the youngsters should and tried his best to reassure her of the Captain’s safety. “Its ok. The Captain’s on the bridge, dealing with the Hirogen. You’re all safe in sickbay…”

His words were cut off by the Chief Medical Officer from the biobed next to the young Aenar. “No, Doctor. No, she isn’t… Find her…”

Torres found the warning both concerning and sinister. The hispanic earthling lifted his hand and tapped his commbadge nervously. “Sickbay to bridge,” he called out. A few seconds later, the response he got was one that surprised him.

What is it now doctor?” the stern bark of the Tellarite executive officer retorted through the battle-induced static on the commline.

‘Now?’ Torres thought for a split second before shaking it off and responding to the Tellarite’s question before he got anymore antsy. “I’m looking for the Captain, sir. Is she with you?” he asked.

Another mammoth explosion rocked the ship, causing the Doctor to almost lose his balance as he waited for the XO’s reply.

Of course she isn’t!” Vasoch argued back. “You called her away five minutes ago in the middle of battle,” the Tellarite argued. In any other time, he might have enjoyed such an argument, but not in the middle of a battle for their lives.

What?’ None of this made sense to the Doctor, looking across at the concerned faces of the two telepaths who were awake and glancing over at him. Their eyes were urging him, pleading with him. “Commander, I never made any such request,” the Doctor elaborated for the bridge.

Finally waking up herself, Vittoria blinked through a tear-filled haze in order to glare across at the Doctor. Tears streamed down her flushed cheeks. “Too late…” she whispered, then slowly turned her head and stared at the ceiling of the medical bay.

“Too late…”


Find her, Commander!” the medical officer barked, in a way that Vasoch may have been proud of under any normal circumstance, but not today, not now. The second part of the Doctor’s message was what concerned him the most. “She’s in great danger. Find her and get back to me. Consider it a medical order!

As the line went dead, the bridge fell silent. With Sojourner and Sarek on hand to chase off the Hirogen attackers, the barrage of weapons fire had stopped, and the deck plating was no longer quaking beneath their feet.

Standing from his chair, the Commander looked across at Linn. “Get me a security team,” the XO instructed before literally spinning on his heels and glaring at the Risian at science. He pointed an almost accusatory finger at the woman. “Find her!”

Akaria was on it before the XO had even finished his words. Panic threatened to overwhelm her at the thought of the Captain in danger somewhere on their ship, but she had to try and bury it whilst she used the internal sensors to track their superiors bio signs. After a few seconds, she clapped her hands together. “Bingo!” she smiled. “Deck twenty-six,” she smiled, before the realisation hit her of where that meant.

Simultaneously, Risian, Bolian and Tellarite alike exclaimed the same two words; the Brig!

Tapping his commbadge, “Bridge to Captain sh’Elas,” the Tellarite called hopefully, his hands on his hips as he tried to focus himself. The silence in return was almost deafening.

“Reroute the security team to deck twenty-six,” Vasoch ordered at Linn, making for the aft turbo lift. “Akaria, if you can reach the Captain, let her know we’re on our way.”

Vanishing into the turbo lift, he waited for the doors to close and conceal him within the transportation device before ordering it to his desired destination. Running his fingers through his matted brown locks, the Tellarite let out a vicious snarl; not at anything or anyone but himself. Had he unwittingly let his Captain walk into a trap that she had warned him of?

Arriving at deck twenty-six in the blink of an eye, the man emerged from the turbo lift to be greeted by the security team that had been dispatched to the Captain’s location by the Bolian operations chief. Both officers looked as if they had been hit by a cargo transporter travelling at warp speed, the Tellarite fearing the worst.

“You don’t want to go down there sir,” the older of the two yellow-uniformed officers tried to stop the XO from going past them, but the Tellarite slipped his arm from the Terran’s grasp and gave him a scowl that a Klingon would have been proud of before making his way towards the brig.

Several deep breaths of composure were not enough for the sight that befell him when moving through the darkness and turning through the doorway into the room of flickering lights.

The hand moved to his mouth subconsciously, as did the bile that rose from the pit of his stomach as he collapsed to his hands and knees. Vomit involuntarily ended up all over the floor beside him and in his beard with every wretch until he could wretch no more. Wiping his bearded chin on the sleeve of his jacket, the Vasoch forced himself to take a few more deep breaths and steady himself; but as he turned his head slowly, the tears that streamed down his dark-skinned cheek flowed uncontrollably.

What he saw would undoubtedly scar him for life. It was a fate he would wish on no one, not even the worst of enemies. Collapsing to his backside, the man dragged his legs before him and used his hands to steady himself.

Captain Tharia sh’Elas, who had led her ship and crew with the greatest of distinction since taking over, who had earned his respect and admiration over the nine months they had worked together, deserved a far better fate than this. She deserved to ride off into the sunset at a time of her choosing, after many years of service and upon taking retirement when she saw fit. She did not deserve to be found on the floor of the brig, her throat slit almost ear to ear and her entrails draped along the floor around her lifeless body.

Vasoch was still on the floor when Doctor Torres and the medical team arrived, and helped him to his shaky feet. He couldn’t take his eyes off of the Captain’s lifeless body whilst Josue tried to usher him out of the room. Somewhere in the ether, a voice had tried to assure him that they would take care of things and that he didn’t need to be there, but he couldn’t help himself. “She’s my Captain…” he whispered, trying to turn around but being prevented from doing so by the Doctor and the security team.

The next few minutes were like an out of body experience as the man held some sort of conversation with the security team and then somehow found himself stood in the middle of the turbo lift, unsure of where he was heading. Holding his right arm across his chest and clutching hold of the left, he spotted the vomit stain on the sleeve of his uniform jacket. In a rage, he whipped the jacket off, hurled it into the corner of the turbolift just in time for the lift to slow to a crawl and eventual halt. He had only just brought some sort of composure to himself when the lift doors parted and revealed the bridge, alive with activity.

Stepping onto the solid, immovable decking of the bridge, the Tellarite looked more than a little uncomfortable. At first, no one seemed to notice him, but once the first did, followed by the next and so on, a hush swept the command center, bodies and faces turned in his direction. Looking for answers, looking for reassurance. Looking for hope.

He could give them none, of course. But he had to tell them the truth, right? They were his people now, and he had to tell them the truth; he couldn’t lie to them, or pretend like everything was okay when it clearly wasn’t. Taking a few tentative steps away from the turbo lift doors, he soon found himself at the tactical Arch and beside the Bolian operations chief. He pressed a single button on the console, and excused the Bolian from his duties whilst he spoke into the now open communications channel.

“All Starfleet personnel, this is the Commander,” he spoke solemnly, “It is my sad duty to inform you that Captain Tharia sh’Elas has been lost in the line of duty.”

Gasps and cries on the bridge no doubt echoed what could probably be heard in locations across the ship as the Tellarite took a moment before continuing. “She was a dedicated Starfleet officer, the finest of examples and a loyal friend. She was our Captain, and we were lucky to know her. Her loss is tragic and will be felt by all aboard,” he said, never a truer word spoken from his lips. “Under the protection of the starships Sarek and Sojourner, we will continue into friendly territory and will assess a way forward then. For now, do your duty, and do your Captain proud. There will be chance to say your farewells in the days to come. Gor out.” Pressing the button a second time, the comm channel closed.

Never in his life had he experienced the silence that filled the bridge now. No one knew what to say, what to do, or seemingly how to even go on. He felt just as they did, but he couldn’t show it; he had to show the leadership they needed.

“Lieutenant Mora,” the man called out to the Bolian who had now returned to his trademark operations station, “You are acting XO until Commander Noli is back on her feet. Please thank the Captain’s of Sarek and Sojourner for their assistance and inform them of our loss. Request their assistance in safely returning to friendly space and let them know I’ll be in touch shortly,” he instructed of the acting XO before turning to Akaria. “Liaise with the science officers aboard both vessels and see what we have missed in the days we’ve been away,” he continued, knowing the analysis of blood dilithium would have continued apace without them.

Wandering around the starboard end of the tactical Arch, Vasoch stood in front of the Captain’s seat for a moment and stared at it, before opting to sit in his own chair to the right. “Lieutenant Mitchell, best possible speed to the Markonian Outpost,” he instructed, folding one leg over the other and grasping hold of the chair arms for both comfort and security.

By the time he was comfortable enough to check the display on the arm of his chair, the XO was intrigued to see a message from Doctor Torres. Having read it quite swiftly, the XO decided that for now, he would opt to remain silent on the cause of the captain’s death, or the fact that her killer had apparently killed itself in an effort to avoid capture. He summoned the Doctor to the bridge for an update at his earliest convenience, but for now, things stayed the same.

As the senior officers silently went about their work, life on the bridge went back to some level of normality…

…but with a very large hole to be filled.

Comments

  • Took a while but finally got there and well, damn. Not sure what to say about the death of Tharia sh’Elas, she was a great character and will be missed. I will have to make mention of this on teh Sojourner for sure. As always, an excellent story and cannot wait to see where the next chapters go and how the next mission plays out.

    January 11, 2023
  • Shoot, I'm not sure he'd appreciate it but this made me want to give Gor a big hug. Poor Tharia. What a heart-wrenching ending.

    February 11, 2023