Part of USS Altai (Archive): M3: The Edge of Yesterday

I hate surprises…

Deck Five to Bridge
January 2401
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For a brief, the corridor was illuminated by the glow of the transporter beam as it deposited the five silhouettes in EV suits. Soon, flashlights from rifles flicked on and illuminated parts of the corridor of wherever the rifles were aimed at. One took out their tricorder and began to scan the area. That one was Captain Hayes.

“Been a while since I tinkered with one of these things.” He said with a chuckle.

“It’s like riding a bike sir,” Michelle quipped her eyes darting around. “I’m sure it will come back to you.”

Joran stifled a chuckle as he looked around the eerily empty corridors; “When in doubt you can always hit it with a hammer sir.”

Jackson kept his finger near the trigger of his phaser rifle as he kept sweeping the weapon around the area, looking for targets.

Astrid was close with the group using the amount of training she had with clearing ships to watch for any surprise that would be coming for them. She had to make a joke in what the Captain had said “I mean you can always throw it down and scream, though in the current atmosphere I would not recommend that second part.”

With the jokes aside, Hayes closed the tricorder and turned in one direction. “Scans show that the mechs have not noticed our arrival. This is our opportune moment to set up an ambush point. Chief Tel, I hope you brought the package.” Hayes asked as he began to lead the team through the corridor.

“That would leave us in a pickle won’t it sir,” Tel said with a laugh as he patted the bag containing the power unit and data storage box on his back. “Anyone got any idea on where to set this up?

“Maybe we should get to the bridge, sir, determine the situation, and if the mechs are active on the bridge, deploy the weapon then, sir,” said Jackson.

Hayes made a face as he was thinking it over. “That could work but there’s five of us and ten of them on the Bridge. If we lure them into a corridor like this, we’d be narrowing their path right into a line of fire. They’re active, they just don’t perceive us as a threat…yet.”

Astrid shook her head though the thoughts of the group was great she knew that the best option would not be a direct approach. She had not experienced these mechs, but from reports she knew they were not something to be trifled with. “I recommend going to the observation lounge on Deck 2 that should give us the starlight shot we need to the deck above. And it will help as a great staging point for the mission ahead.”

Hayes stopped before a jefferies hatch and then turned in his suit to look at the team. “Glad to have you here, Commander. I think that’ll be our staging point. We flip over the table and use it as a cover. Can even brace against it to stable our aim, and improve accuracy. With the trap just in front of the table, they would come down the turbolift shaft and would have to enter the corridor that leads to the observation room. Be a turkey shoot.”

“Now we could use the jeffery tubes or we could see if the turbolift shaft is clear, which ever be easier to reach deck two.” Hayes proposed, curious as to what his team will choose.

“With these EVA suits I would think the turbolift shaft would be best,” Michelle suggested. “Jefferie’s tubes are cramped as is.”

“She’s right,’ pointing to Ortiz. ”We would run the risk of tearing our suits in the shaft. Trying the turbolift is better.” Jackson replied.

Joran shrugged, “The turbolift shaft makes more sense, with artificial gravity down we can walk right up it. Also offers us more space to manoeuvre if we find something unexpected.”

Hayes smiled as he led the way to the nearest turbolift junction. “Glad everyone is on the same page. Helps build teamwork.” It was not far from the jefferies they had stopped at, so Hayes pulled out the device that demagnetizes the doors. He stuck it onto one of them, pressed a few buttons and the doors split apart as they were released. “Mr. Tel, if you’d be so kind as to grab the other half.” Hayes pointed as he pulled the device off to stash it in his tool kit before he grabbed his half to pull the door open.

Joran nodded as he stepped up to the door and grabbed hold of one side, “On three?” A moment later they both pulled and the door slid open allowing them entry.

Hayes checked his tricorder real quick before he gave the thumbs up. “Still no movement from the mechs. Strange how they seem so docile than the last ones you folks encountered. Nevertheless, best for us to hurry and stage our choke point. Shouldn’t be too far to get to deck two.” Hayes smiled and then gestured to the open door. “After you ladies.”

“Sir. I think I should take the lead. Can’t have anything happening to you, sir.” mentioned Jackson.

“As you wish, Lieutenant.” Said Hayes.

Following Jackson, Joran adjusted the pack with the equipment he was carrying and made his way through the doorway, phaser at the ready. Knowing that the spiders were on the derelict ship kept a constant feeling of unease going through him.

Jackson kept his rifle pointed upward, as he floated up in the turbolift. He made sure to keep an easy ascent for the others to match. His tricorder was set on automatic, scanning for any activity from the spiders.

Astrid fell into the group just as had been discussed with her rifle drawn. She slowly made her way up the turbolift hearing the groaning of the metal in the what seemed to be abandoned ship. She looked up above her keeping the Captain in her sights. Her job felt like she needed to be a bodyguard and she had no issues with it. She liked being able to protect others. 

Michelle was the last to move into the shaft as she followed closely behind the others not wanting to be separated  

Hayes followed along with everyone up until they made it to the door to deck two, where he placed the device on the door, unsealed it, and with help, pulled the two halves of the door apart. Once through, they made their way to the observation lounge.

“All right troops. Let’s get these tables flipped over to use them as cover and extra stability so that we don’t miss our shots. Not that I’m saying you all are terrible at aiming, just want to make sure this doesn’t go south. I want no mistakes.” Hayes ordered. A lot to ask but as Captain, he expected a lot and he was going to put that to the test with his new crew.

“You can say that about me sir,” Michelle quipped.  “I barely passed phaser qualifications.”

“Mr. Tel, go ahead and plant your trap just in front of the doorway…in the corridor…and be ready to activate it on my mark.” Hayes told Joran. “And Miss Fleming. You’ve chosen the place for us to make our stand, how shall we deploy? Everyone aiming down through the tube,” Hayes gestured towards the corridor as the ‘tube’. “Or staggered so if any of them make it through the doorway, we have someone ready to pop it?”

Michelle stood out of the way letting the more experienced officers do their thing ready to execute any order given to her.  She never envisioned being in this situation when she joined Starfleet.  She thought she would be on some lab or on some distant planet excavating a ruins. Yet, here she was. Standing on a derelict ship playing commando. Life truly is strange. 

Tel looked at Hayes and nodded, “Can do Sir.” He turned and made his way to the door, checking the corridor, phase compression rifle at the ready, before he moved forward. Kneeling down he unslung the satchel from his shoulder and placed the device within on the floor. He glanced back into the observation lounge, “All set to activate on your orders.”

Astrid looked around and nodded “I am set and ready for whatever plans to attack us, Sir.” She drew her rifle in a professional manner and smirked. If there was one thing she liked it was taking care of the enemy, though sometimes that caused issues with command

“I recommend a staggered approach, sir. There will be enough of us at the front to probably take many of the spiders out if they attack, sir.” Jackson replied.

Michelle’s palms were wet with sweat holding the unfamiliar phaser in her hand. “Which means what exactly, ” she asked Jackson. “Or just dumb it down for me and tell me where to stand and when to shoot.”

Jackson moved her to a spot near his location. “2 basic settings, stun and kill. Stay behind the table, just raise your head and arm. Aim down the length of the weapon. If you think you have a shot, touch the fire button. I will do what I can to try to cover you. Questions?”

Michelle simply shook her head.  She knew enough to be dangerous, and she intended to direct that towards the bugs. “Understood sir.”

Hayes nodded his head. “All weapons to kill. The programmed settings to punch a hole through the central section of the mech spider, won’t necessarily work with stun.” He informed them as he got into position behind a flipped table, resting the rifle grip on top of the edge, aimed toward the door way. Once Hayes was certain everyone was in position and ready, he looked to Tel and gave a head nod. “Do it, Mr. Tel.”

Joran nodded as he knelt down and flipped open the access panel entering the activation command, “Timer set for 15 seconds.” He stood up and quickly made his way back into the observation lounge and behind one of the overturned tables. Shoulding his phase rifle he exhaled and waited. 

For a while, nothing. Then the sounds of the mech spider’s legs tapping and clanking against the turbolift shaft echoed and the sound grew louder by the second. The bait was working. It grabbed the attention of the mech spiders from the bridge and brought them right into their trap.

“Here they come!” Hayes notified his team. The second Hayes saw a spider crawl through the doorway and into the corridor, he opened fire. One single phaser bolt contacted the abdomen of the spider and pierced through. The entirety of the mech itself crashed onto the deck, lifeless.

A second after Hayes opened fire the doorway erupted in motion as the mechanical spiders crawled into the observation lounge from all sides of the doorframe. Phaser fire followed as the spiders advanced into the room. Jorna sighted down the phaser and calmly fired taking aim for their centre of mass. Not every shot connected and they moved closer to the officers.

Michelle aimed,  fired and missed one of the spiders.  Trying again, she missed again.  On her fourth try she connected with a spider that wasn’t even the one she was aiming at.  But the shot was still effective and the spider fell to the deck with a clunk.

Jackson fired his rifle at any available targets. He kept an eye on Ortiz to make sure she was safe. Jackson targeted several spiders that were crawling along the ceiling. He dropped them quickly, then had to replace his power pack. 

Astrid didn’t know what to expect until she saw the mechs heading their way. She drew her rifle close and begin to lay down fire with pinpoint accuracy taking out every spider she took a shot at. The group was like a well oiled machine though the spiders kept coming with what seemed to be no end. She replaced the power pack and began to fire again making sure to target any of the mechs that were close to the group. 

For what seemed like it was going to go on forever, the last mech was blasted by Jackson, right after Fleming took out the second to last mech. But just to be certain, Hayes looked over to the two officers. “Fleming. Jackson. Count the bodies and check the corridor. There should be at least ten of them.”

“Aye sir.” Jackson responded. Holding his rifle at the ready, he left cover and started counting the destroyed spiders that attacked them.

Astrid had kept a mental count in her head while she murdered the spiders with no remorse. It was a normal thing for her to try and keep track “I took out 10 and with everyone else I think we had about 25 to 30, Sir.”

With that news, Hayes sighed with relief. He ejected the nearly depleted power pack from his rifle before inserting a fresh one, and then he shouldered his weapon just to take out his tricorder. “Scans show all clear. Good work everyone.” Hayes looked at Ortiz. “Especially you, Ensign. Not bad at all.” Hayes then looked at Tel. “Go ahead and pack up the data device. Won’t be needing it anymore.”

Michelle looked a little flushed from the excitement,  “Thank you sir… but could we not do that again?”

Joran nodded and shouldered his weapon before stepping into the corridor. A few moments later he stepped back into the observation lounge with the data device packed back in its satchel, “All pack and ready to go sir.”

Jackson also wanted to congratulate the ensign on a job well done, so he gave her a ‘thumbs up’ sign.

Michelle gave him a nod.  She didn’t feel like she had done a good job, but she had helped she guessed. 

Hayes led the group back to the turbolift shaft where they made their way to the bridge by traversing just one deck up. Once on the bridge, Hayes looked around while aiming the torchlight from his rifle at various points of the bridge. He had kept a mental note about the number of mechs they took out, Altai‘s sensors had only picked up ten, even the tricorder. So either coincidentally they both need to be recalibrated or some mechs were in a dormant state, like standby mode at the most minimum power level they can go to avoid detection. He only hoped that Bravo Team did not get overwhelmed by their planned ambush.

“Room is clear. Mr. Tel, hook up the power pack to the navigational console. I want to know where this ship has been for the last twenty years.” Hayes ordered. Hayes then activated his comm link. “Bravo team, hope you are all doing well. Alpha team has cleared out the bridge and we are beginning our investigation. How goes restoring power?”

“We’re in engineering sir.  The damage seems pretty bad down here. We’re working on getting the lights on, but,” Vogler’s voice over the comm paused.

Then a new voice joined in, “Lieutenant Erdian here, sir. Preliminary attempts with the battery cells have failed. We’ve discovered a magnetic anomaly on or near the warp core.  I have a few working theories on its existence. We’re attempting to circumvent it and use the remaining protons in the core to cause enough matter/anti-matter reactions to restart the computer core.”

“I’m no Engineer, sir,” Vogler stated, “I’ll have to take the Chief’s lead on this one.  He’s speaking Greek to me.”

“Lieutenant Erdian Jaso? You have impeccable timing. From the sound of it, you wouldn’t be able to get near it in our current state.” said Hayes surprised that his new Chief Engineer made it but glad. More eyes on the problem, the better.

Cooper’s voice chimed in. “With our magnetic boots, I wouldn’t recommend it. But if we get the auxiliary power generators online, we can restore life support and artificial gravity.”

Hayes thought about it for a brief moment. “Do it. We’re just here for the data on what happened to this ship, we don’t need to completely revive it. Keep me posted, team. Hayes out.” Then he terminated the link.

Without further adieu, Joran knelt down by the navigation console and worked his way under in. He opened one of the small access ports so he could gain access to the internal circuitry, “Should have the console up in a few moments.” Pulling out the power pack he connected it and a moment later the internal workings of the console lit up before him, “Got it, now to connect the data storage…” 

Once the data storage device was connected he slid out from under the console Joran pulled himself into the chair and pulled up the nav logs initiating the download. As the last two decades of logs became to download Joran began to scan through them, a frown spreading across his face as he did. “Sir,” he said turning to look back at Hayes, “These logs make little sense. There is twenty years’ worth of data but I do not recognize any stars or astronomical features here, with the exception of the most recent data. I will need to run the data through our computer to make heads or tails for it.”

Hayes frowned in his helmet and shook his head. “Mr. Jackson, see if you can help Mr. Tel sift through those logs.” Suddenly the lights began to come on, first dim and then slowly growing brighter to the default setting over time, followed by the consoles coming to life.

Hayes smiled. “Looks like Bravo Team managed it. Give a minute for life support to restore proper atmosphere before taking your helmets off.” Hayes informed them as he went to explore the bridge a bit, starting with the console at the rear behind the Captain’s chair. He remembered some Excelsior‘s had this bridge configuration, shortly after Enterprise-B had it first.

Hayes approached the console and then frowned when he saw the configuration of the controls. They seemed familiar but he couldn’t put his finger on them. He stood there directly at the console and examined each and every control and readout. And then it came to him. “What the hell were you doing, Jim?” Hayes said to himself before activating his commlink.

“Hayes to Bravo Team. Check the main access panel if you can, if you see anything in there hooked up, do not touch it!” Hayes warned with more seriousness to his voice than he’s ever put into.

Jackson continued to help Tel with the logs. There were a lot of them to go through. Then he heard the captain shout and looked back. “Captain?”

“On it captain!” Vogler responded. “What’s this about?”

“I wasn’t planning on unplugging things just yet, captain. Is there something we should be looking for?” Came from Jaso.

“Just tell me when you find it,” said Hayes, being a little vague. He stared at the console before him, disbelief in his eyes as he began to reminisce about his junior year at the academy.

“Found it, Captain,” voice came from Cooper.

Hayes was not certain whether he should be relieved or concerned but he knew he needed to hurry. “Don’t touch it! I’ll be right there.” But before he could even make two steps towards the turbolift, the console he had been standing at came to life. He returned to it to see that a set of coordinates were being entered and power was being transferred to the device. “No no no!” But before he could contact Bravo Team, the console notified him that the device was engaged. At first, there was a tingling sensation in the hands and feet that slowly made its way throughout the body. Then there was a sudden but gentle jolt beneath their feet before the tingling sensation disappeared altogether.

Hayes heard the navigation console and other consoles bleeping warning notifications all over the bridge, but he knew what happened. “Don’t bother checking. We’re not where we are supposed to be.” Jackson and Tel would be able to confirm that while Hayes watched as the console before him indicated that the device had powered down. “Damnit, Jim!”