Check out our latest Fleet Action!


Part of USS Venture: Episode 1: On the Frontier’s Edge and USS Venture: Season 1: Into the Frontier

In the darkness, we find you.

Aboard the Gorn vessel.
Stardate 24008.5, 2145 Hours
1 likes 577 views

Rematerializing in a cluster at the back of a dark room, Commander Dahl’s away team took a moment to let their eyes adjust to the change in aura from the safety of their transport room to… this.

“Fan out, see what you can find…” the Trill ordered of his team, pointing in various directions. “We’re looking for any sign of life, any sign of what happened here,” he called out. By that point, the team were already spreading out across the Gorn command centre, but it was fairly easy to see that there were no obvious signs of any kind of assault on the bridge. No weapon blast points, no consoles that had exploded. No damage of any kind.

“There’s no one here sir,” Ensign Fellowes called out from his position near the front of the bridge.

“No bodies, no sign of life at all…” a second voice retorted, his attention focused on nothing in particular as he visually scanned the room.

“Doctor, see if you can access any of the ship’s records,” Aamin called out to Bakshi, “might be able to tell us what happened.”

She turned to her flank and looked at the console next to her. She pressed a few buttons to see if it would work. Luckily, it did. “It’s on, at least,” she said to Aamin. “I’ll see what I can find out.” An EMH had been loaded. That was a good place to start. 

“Our sensors read no life signs but keep an eye out all the same,” Mara said, leading the team down a corridor lit only by emergency lighting. Cautiously, Mara, her phaser drawn, stepped inside the first doorway. “It looks like crew quarters,” she said.

Duncan stood watch outside the room while the others investigated. “Look at the beds,” began Thirre. “They’re round and concave.”

“Sounds like something a lizard would have for bedding,” added Shepard.

“Is it warm in here to you?” asked Jenkins.

“The temp is up a few degrees from what we’re used to on the Venture,” replied the Orion.

“Anything, guys?”

“No, Lieutenant,” said Thirre. “I see no bodies, no evidence anyone was here at all.”

“Wait,” called Jenkins. The ensign moved toward one of the beds. “Something’s behind one of the beds.” He knelt to retrieve the shiny object. “It’s a pack of protein paste,” he said, examining the packet. “It’s only half full.”

“It looks like someone stowed away contraband,” Shepard said half-heartedly. “They were trying to hide it, but not very well, or maybe they didn’t have time. So make a note of it and move on.” The team then moved from room to room, finding each empty and only sporadic signs of a hasty exit. Another freshly opened protein pack sat on the floor in one area, while another room held evidence of some board game in mid-play. Mara tapped her commbadge.

“Shepard to Commander Dahl. We haven’t found a soul in the lower decks, but there is evidence that the Gorn may have left abruptly. We’ll keep you advised. Moving to the cargo bay next.”

Understood. Dahl out,” came the reply from some decks above.

As the elevator was out, the foursome used the Jefferies tube to reach the cargo bay. But, again, they found no bodies. Instead, crates were stacked neatly, though one had yet added to the stack. Jenkins scanned the contents. “Mostly protein packs with some other foodstuffs.”

Suddenly, Duncan called out. “Lieutenant! Over here! Quickly!”

Mara and the others ran to the security officer. “Holy shite …”

In an adjacent room from the cargo hold were rows of dead bodies neatly lined in pods. None of them were Gorn. All bore the tell-tale signs of hatchling incubation; their chests burst open. “XO Dahl. We’ve found an incubation chamber, lower decks, port side of the cargo bay. There are dozens of ‘em – human, Vulcan, Tellarite, Andorian. All lined up according to species.”

Find out what you can Lieutenant, but stay where you are,” Dahl instructed from the Gorn command center, “I’m coming to meet you. Dahl out.”

Bodies. Dead bodies. Various species, in various states of stasis. WHAT THE HELL?? She’d never seen anything like it in her 20ish years of medicine. She was too late, this time, but her senses finally came back to her, and she spoke. “I….uh. I can see what I can find out,” she stepped forward with her tricorder. 

Somewhere in the stern of the Gorn craft, the search team led by Venture‘s Russian tactician patrolled the lower decks in search of anything that might give them a clue as to just what the hell had happened on the alien ship.

“Well, ya’ll, we got bupkis…”

“I will never understand your penchant for whimsical words,” Usmanov responded in her thick Russian drawl and shook her head at the colleague from her department. There was a bit of back and forth between various members of the team until all stopped dead in their tracks outside a large room. Doors remained open a fraction, and light from inside flickered through into the dark corridor.

Utilising the art of non-verbal communication, a few hand signals from the Russian beauty dispatched two members of her team to force open the doors, whilst the rest remained ready for anything, phasers drawn. It wasn’t easy to force the doors, requiring the brute strength of both the Bolian and the Rigellian, but eventually, the doors parted enough for the team to force entry. Leading the way, light beacons on her left wrist surveyed the darkness whilst her phaser remained in the clutches of her right hand.

It was a large, expansive room, devoid of anything apart from a single wall-mounted console and a large set of doors at the other end of the room. The flickering of the console was the sole source of illumination in the room (other than the Federation light beacons).

“Gotta be a shuttlebay,” the engineer in the team told, using his own lights to look at the floor marking, “there are designated zones similar to our own bays.”

“At least there’s no one here…” the Bolian security officer frowned, looking around the room.

“More importantly,” the Russian spoke quietly, folding her arms across her chest, “there are no shuttles here either.”

“So where are they?” the engineer countered.

“Precisely my worry,” Usmanov frowned.

Edwards fought the urge to close his eyes when the transporter had taken them and he fought the urge to close them as the world faded into view.  He glanced around, his nerves jangling at the top of his neck all the way down to his toes.  His breathing became his focus as he slipped out his tricorder, scanning as the team clicked on their lights and the security officers worked to clear the room in near silence.  There was something to be said for the ambient sound of a warp core or engine.  Here, there was nothing.  The shuffling of the feet, the uneven breathing from the gathered team, and the unsettling emptiness of the space.

“Lieutenant, there’s nobody here.”  The security officer nodded at the core, “You’ll know more about getting that thing back online.”

The Chief Engineer returned the man’s nod and motioned his engineering team to gather around the power device. They unpacked their various scanners and equipment as each went to work on the core and the computer systems. The security officers took point at the doors, their eyes searching the shadowy darkness while the wordless work of engineers filled the canyon of silence at last.  Edwards rechecked his scans, “Check me.  That plasma leak?”

Ensign Grayson had walked the entirety of engineering. The damage had been terrible, but he could find no trace of the plasma leak in the engineering area.  “Lieutenant, we detected it from the Venture….and my tricorder and the team’s sensor equipment do pick it up…but not in engineering.  It’s leaking from the hull somewhere just near Engineering.  I’m not sure what’s going on here, sir.”

Edwards felt the jangled nerves tighten further, “Eyes and ears.  Let’s shift toward the area of the plasma leak.  See what we can find.”

“Aye that, Dahl. We’ll have a look-see and stay put. Shepard out.” Mara approached Ensign Thirre, scanning the bodies with her medical tricorder. The Lieutenant knelt beside the medic, taking a gander at the unfortunates for herself. “Find anything, Ensign?”

“The bodies are in a similar state of decomposition, each varying only a few hours from the other as incubation varies between species. Therefore, a likely scenario is that each host was infected simultaneously.”

 “That’s fecked up,” commented Mara. “Have you found any of the wee ones?”

Thirre tilted her head at the Lieutenant. “The wee – oh, hatchlings. No ma’am. I have not.” The Orion pointed to the face of one of the human bodies. “Note how the skin is beginning to mummify, which means it’s been here at least two weeks. Possibly more.”

Mara patted the woman on the shoulder. “Good work, Ensign. If you find anything else, let me know.”

“Lieutenant Shepard,” called Jenkins. “I’ve discovered a database, possibly on the hatchlings. It’s all in Gorn, however.” The engineer stood by the console, ready to transfer the data to the computer for translation.

Mara took a look at the database. She could read some Klingon, but the Gorn language was beyond her. “Try to scrub it first. The Gorn are territorial and may have left a surprise fer anyone who might take a peek.”

“I’ll do what I can, ma’am.”

Mara nodded and checked in with Duncan, the security officer scanning the walls. “Yer not bored, are ye?”

“No, ma’am,” he chuckled. “Take a look at these walls. They’re reinforced – at least two meters deep.”

The Lieutenant backed up, looking at the walls and the room’s layout. “Note the large area in the centre of the floor, circular. It looks like an arena or something of the like.”

“Gorn hatchlings battle one another for dominance. It’s a fight to the death,” added Ensign Thirre.

“Thank ye, Ensign,” said Shepard. She suspected the medic knew more about the Gorn than she let on.

Soon enough, Commander Dahl, Doctor Bakshi and the Lieutenant appeared from a corridor. “Report, Lieutenant?” the XO queried.

Alerted to the XO’s entrance, Mara reported what her team had found. She called on each Ensign to explain their findings. 

Jenkins responded first. “The Lieutenant suggested I scrub the hatchling database, and it’s a good thing I did. The thing had a nasty trojan embedded. The ship’s computer probably could have handled it, but better safe than sorry.”

Duncan stepped forward next at Shepard’s request and gave his report on the fighting arena. Finally, Ensign Thirre explained the state of the bodies.

“All I can say is they have been dead for two weeks or more. The surviving hatchling was likely taken when the Gorn vacated the ship.”

Mara gave each ensign a simple nod in appreciation. “Thank ye.” The Lieutenant addressed Dahl. “We know the ship was used to capture hosts fer Gorn incubation, but nothing here tells us what happened.”

“But where did they go?” Commander Dahl questioned his team, looking around those that were assembled, however, it was an emerging voice from the turbo lift that answered him.

“I can tell you how they left,” the thick accent of the Russian tactician called out as she approached the XO, her team nearby. “We found their shuttlebays and every craft is gone. Wherever they went, they apparently couldn’t do it by transporter,” she added.

Aamin took a deep breath. “That also means they could have gone further than transporter range, meaning our frame of reference for a search has just massively increased,” he shook his head in frustration. “Mara, get Edwards to work on downloading the contents of the ship’s logs and computer core. Anything at all that can help us with this search, find it.”

“Aye, sir.” Mara tapped her combadge. “Lt. Edwards, Lt. Shepard here. Can ye help me with downloading the ship’s logs and computer core? I’m in what appears to be a hatchling nursery on the port side of the cargo bay. Don’t worry. None of the wee buggers are about, but we need to translate those logs. Shepard out.” 

Edwards and his team had found the plasma leak.  It hadn’t been due to damage.  It had been intentionally cut.  They’d rerouted through the wall to stop the leak and moved on.  They’d gotten the call from the Lieutenant and made their way carefully, scanning with eyes and ears turning at every little sound.  It had taken them some time, but they made it to the port side, where Edwards shifted his crew to continue scanning the areas and mapping the engineering of the sections immediately around them.  The Chief Engineer walked over to the Science Chief, “What do you have?”“We’ve got a database over here, apparently full of info on the hatchlings, but it’s all in Gorn.” Mara nodded to Ensign Jenkins as she walked the Engineer Chief to the computer. “It’s been scrubbed for any nasties, but it’s all in Gorn, obviously, and we need it translated.” The Lieutenant also gestured toward the dozens of capsules filled with bodies. “Dahl suggested we do the same with the computer core. We’re likely ta find something about what happened here between the two.”  As she approached the database, a thought came to Mara. She knew where she would go if she didn’t want to be discovered. “Ye know, there’s a neutron star not far from here. Sensors wouldn’t work as well if ye got near it. Just a thought.”  

Mason blinked a few times as he began to regain consciousness, feeling incredibly dazed and groggy. Where was he? What was he doing here? The last thing he could remember was his ship taking heavy fire from several Gorn vessels that his vessel was sent to investigate when it was reported they had crossed into Federation territory. He was on the bridge giving orders when they were hit hard, Mason was thrown into a railing near the operations console, hitting his head hard as he flung to the ground and–black. 

Now, as his vision slowly began to return to normal, he scanned his surroundings and quickly realized he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. He appeared to be encased in some kind of pod and, from what he could tell, there were other similar-looking pods in the room with him. 

But what did that mean? Was he taken, prisoner? And if so, that would mean the Enforcer had been boarded… he shook his head slightly, disregarding those speculations for the moment. Now, his main priority was establishing his situation and surroundings. 

Mason tried to move and dislodge himself from the pod, but was overcome with intense pain from his midsection. The pain was so great, he let out a loud wince as he fought against the pod, but he couldn’t do it. He was no medical officer, but if he had to venture a guess he’d say several of his ribs had been broken and, judging by how hard it seemed to be to draw a breath, they may have punctured his lungs. 

Not seeing any other option currently available, Mason decided to call out and see if his Gorn captures were around and perhaps get some answers to the hundreds of questions going around in his head. “Hello…” He said aloud, weakly at first, and at a volume that he knew was impossible to hear outside of the pod. Mason did his best to draw more breath in and muster all the volume he could in his current condition, then tried again, “Hello!”

Lahki was behind the Commander and security officer, feeling more and more trepidation as she took each step. The normally cool-headed Betazoid was quietly losing her shit. She had seen some things in her time, but this? This was something else entirely. Dead beings of all the races she knew of -plus a few she didn’t- and…no one else around? If she believed in an afterlife, she might think they were being haunted. Or TAUNTED. She spoke, this time to no one in particular. “Do you all hear something?!” She cocked her head to the left-her “better” side as if it would apparate in her brain or something.

Commander Dahl and the nearby security officer looked at the Medical Officer, initial thoughts of her going crazy swirling in their minds until they, too, heard something. It was coming from behind the aft bulkhead. Usmanov was on it in seconds, her tricorder pointed at the wall and conducting a deep-level scan. “There is a hidden compartment,” she confirmed.

Leaning over her shoulder to take a look at the readings, the XO nodded, and then requested permission to take over the device for a moment. When handed it, the former engineer tapped away at the small controls. “If I can locate the correct algorithms, I might be able to…” and within seconds, the bulkhead disappeared into a recess above them, revealing a small room with several large tubes of sorts.

She was glad when the others finally stopped looking at her like she had three heads. “I sensed something…” she shrugged. She nodded when the Commander spoke. “Yes. There’s someone or thing IN there. Somewhere. Can we get an engineer to go in with me? I can get to them, see if they’re injured and that’s why they were left behind. It isn’t dead, whatever it is.” 

Still struggling to breathe, Mason heard the bulkhead door open to the room where he was. He couldn’t see who it was, but he could somewhat hear them. Voices. And from what he could tell, they sounded almost… human. Not having many options, he decided to risk it and mustered all of his remaining strength, striking the inside of his pod several times with his hands to make as much noise as possible. He knew he wouldn’t be able to speak or yell anymore due to his injury, but if it was his crew looking for him, he wanted to give them and himself the best chance to be found.

“Talia…” Dahl trailed off, nodding to the Chief Tactical Officer to take the lead on scouting out the new room ahead of them. Giving it a once-over visually, and then with the returned tricorder, the Russian gave the XO and the rest of the team permission to enter.

“I’m detecting two life signs,” Bakshi remarked as she approached two of the tubes, “both humanoid.” The striking on the pod drew all of their attention to one of the remaining, active devices. “Get them out of there!” Aamin barked.

“Da!” Natalia responded loudly, moving to the pod and surveying it quickly. Several hinges, no visible locking devices from the outside, and no large glass panel as a window. The hinges were the best bet for getting into the pod and so, she drew her phaser once again and pointed it at the lower of the hinges. Two short bursts of phaser fire, and subsequent explosive sparks later, the door to the pod almost burst from its constraints.

Across the room, a second pod was opened similarly, a second humanoid almost falling from the pod and into the arms of Doctor Bakshi.

Natalia and Dahl reached into the first pod and helped the occupant out and to the floor of the room. “It’s ok,” the Trill assured the man, “you’re safe. We’ll get you to our ship and get you the help you need,” he smiled at the human.

Mason looked up at Dahl, nodding slightly that he understood what he said but he was unable to respond. He felt so incredibly light-headed and could barely breathe, but at least Starfleet had found him. All of the strength he summoned to call them, to make noise so he would be found, was gone. The Trill was the last thing he saw before he collapsed and fell unconscious.