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The Chains of Command 1 [PLOT]

Posted on Mon Jun 4th, 2018 @ 1:11pm by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Commander Yumi Han & Lieutenant JG Soto Gantt & Ensign T'Sai & Petty Officer 3rd Class Keith Potter

Mission: Mission 3: The Galilei Conundrum
Location: Galilei - Bridge
Timeline: 26 June, 2394 - 0730 Hours


The journey was decadent and uneventful. A velvet fleur de lis illustration repeated on the wallpaper lining the wide hallway to the bridge. Their helmet lamps swung across the passage like swords, slicing pockets of gilded beauty into the black void. There were no bodies or moans from the shadows. Only the claustrophobic rasp of their own breath inside tight-fitting hazmat suits.

Yumi traced her gloved hand over the filigree name placard "SS Galilei" on the double doors at the end of the hall. Paranoia prickled the back of her neck. She always preferred a known danger in the present over an unknown danger in the future. When she stood facing a dragon, she could react and strategize and run away with precision. Whatever crisis had assaulted the Galilei was still circling them in the darkness. Out of reach and out of sight--but not out of mind.

She drew her spy tricorder from her equipment belt and scanned the bridge for life signs. The display lit up with a broad smudge as if a single organism was heaped at the junction of the T-shaped bridge. She smacked the side of the spy-corder, but the blur stubbornly remained. "Must be getting interference from the highfalutin materials coating everything here." She bent her elbow tight to point her phaser safely at the ceiling and looked back at Gantt, T'Sai, and Potter. "Do you see a pull handle or a spot we can plug into to open these doors? A gaping hole in the wall would work, too."

T'Sai, tricorder and phaser in hands, followed Yumi carefully down the hall. She scanned the walls directly around them.

"It would appear that there is a Jeffries tube parallel to us, but I have not seen an access panel. Perhaps if we can find one, that would allow entrance?" Her emotional control felt ever so slightly on edge in this place, and although it was holding, she could feel the frayed ends at the back of her mind.

Keith sighed. He knew where this was headed. A lieutenant commander, lieutenant, and ensign along with a crewman? He was going to get the dirty job for sure. Why not get it over with? "I'll crawl into the jeffries tube and look. Sometimes they tuck those manual access handles into the side of the tubes. I saw the access panel back the way we came.," he said and turned and moved down the hallway. I'm probably going to die he thought, shaking his head.

"Jeffries tubes are my second home. Well, more like third. I'll go with Potter," said Gantt. He shivered in spite of his self-assurances that other missions had been worse. The quiet enigma of the vessel was dreadful in a unique way. "No one should be alone."

With Potter taking point, Yumi drifted to the back of the group to keep T'Sai and Gantt between them. Potter didn't impress Yumi for one second as a person. He was vain and arrogant. He gambled and womanised his shore leaves away. But he always came through as a security officer. She trusted him completely to secure the front of their column as well as it could be secured. "I'll bring up the rear. Whenever you're ready, Crewman."

Potter considered how much better it would be to be following the commander but just nodded. He moved down the passage to the access panel and then pulled it off. The Jeffries tube beyond was pitch dark and smelled of something moldy. Potter sighed.

"Alright, I'm going in," he said, hefting his phaser. "My tricorder says there is another maintenance panel about ten meters down the tube." Potter tapped the control console on his wrist and the small lights on either side of his head bloomed to life. He crouched down and crawled into the tube.

T'Sai followed Potter and Gantt into the crawlspace. She tried to keep her tricorder scanning as they moved, but found it difficult in the small space, she opted for putting it on her belt and hoping that they didn't run into any surprises.

With little more than a well lit view of T'Sai's back and the generous crawlspace on either side of the pilot, Yumi walked in a crouch with her phaser aimed at the ceiling inches above her head. Potter led them in a straight line where the maintenance tunnel followed the grand hallway like a frontage road shadowing a highway. Straight back to the bridge. A sharp 90 turned them aside like a knee in a river, and the team flowed alongside the outer walls of the Galilei bridge.

Yumi pulled up the ship floorplan on her HUD, and it automatically aligned to her view of the crawlspace, mapping unseen spaces ahead in a bright wireframe. "You should reach an access a few meters ahead, Crewman Potter."

As the commander's voice faded from the short-range helmet radio, low murmurs joined the crinkling sound of walking in hazmat suits. Yumi froze and held her breath until she could hear her own heartbeat. Murmurs rose to mumbles and growls. An unintelligible, higher pitched voice carried with vigor above the others. "Hold position inside the tube until we've had a look at who or what is muttering in there."

Gantt stopped moving. His own slow breaths sounded like loud heaves in the otherwise still, close tube. Now that Yumi pointed it out, he could hear the cadence of speech in what he had thought was background noise. "Commander Han, there is a hatch to the bridge just ahead. Potter and I could try to manually force it open a bit. Get a peek onto the bridge."

Yumi nodded, and her headlamp waggled on T'Sai's back. "Just be sure you see what's there before what's there sees you."

Potter ran the commander's words through his head twice before he understood what she was saying. "Right," he said and moved up to the hatch, grabbing it on one side. It was a stout looking, bare piece of metal that stood in stark contrast to the luxury in the main corridor. Potter felt more at home. "Ok, sir. I'm ready when you are. Let's just not drop this and alert whatever is out there."

Gantt nodded. He and Potter began to pull. The Galilei was built well. Built to obscure even the hint of repairs and the hatch pulled free with only a light rasp, like the chafe of lizard skin on stone. Making sure Potter had the hatch, Gantt flicked off the light on his helmet. He stretched out and pushed his head through the hole.

Alerts blossomed on his HUD. Ominous symbols of the death and disease possessing the bridge. Gantt’s throat closed in spasmodic response. He forced it to relax. To breath as he peered around the bridge. Emergency lights flickered. Consoles glowed. Gantt counted five people amid the layers of light and shadow. Some crouched at stations, others shuffled across the floor. The faces he saw wore dark blotches. Two were mostly bald. A zombie like crew set to whatever task the last vestiges of their minds commanded.

Gantt forced himself to take one last mental picture of the scene, then pulled back. At the last moment he thought that the one in the captain’s chair might have looked up. A Vulcan woman. Gantt held his breath a moment, then peered over the edge. She was looking at whatever spot held her attention. Quickly he pulled back again and motioned for Potter to help close the hatch. Gantt whispered into his com everything he had seen.

“They move like programmed automatons. We’ll have to work around some and move others. At least one console looks like it has been damaged. Maybe the crew damaged as the disease took them over. Even if they don’t attack it’s going to be a lot harder to run this thing with them moving around us.”

Yumi leaned against the side of the crawlspace to get line of sight on the hatch as they pulled it closed. "They don't sound hostile, but who knows how they'll react to our arrival. Phasers ready on stun. Potter and I will go in first. Soto and T'Sai, cover us and then follow." Yumi crept past T'Sai to crouch beside Crewman Potter just inside the hatch. The mumbling was loudest there, punctuated by barks and growls like sharp thunder amid a steady rainfall. "How many and how are they positioned?"

"There's a person, I think Vulcan, in the command chair. But this isn't like the Firebird. The bridge is huge. We could fit most of our crew on it. There's a funny looking help at the front with another station next to it. I saw two other places behind the command chair. Oh and commander, there's a lot of windows and the Badlands is pretty close. We probably should hurry or I think this cruise is going to get even worse," Potter said, following the commander's lead and checking his phaser. "Are we shooting right away?"

"No." Her response was immediate, like a hand jumping back from the lick of a flame. Yumi heard herself reply and waited a few heartbeats for the reasons why to percolate into her consciousness. "Unless they charge us or reach for weapons, I'd like to talk to them. All we know right now is that their captain called for help with an infectious outbreak. He was interrupted while doing so, and sometime before we responded the ship lost power. Stunfire can weaken a sick person so much that their illness kills them like the Honshu Variant that swept Socron 5 back in--" She took in Potter's angular features, still softened by youthful cheeks. "Back before you were born."

Still crouching, Yumi bobbed and shifted her feet into a ready stance. She expected him to stay in close formation, but assumptions were like snakes in the grass. One innocent step and one of them would jump up and bite. "Stay with me, Crewman. I've got our left side, and you've got our right. Keep that 'funny looking heap' at the front of the bridge in your view." Yumi waited for his affirmative nod. "Open her up."

Keith eased the hatch open, and Yumi quickly stepped through. They stood at the back of a glass-walled bridge. Light from the Badlands shone in. Twenty meters to the left and right, old-fashioned flying bridges protruded like chameleon eyes to allow a full 180-view of the port and starboard flanks of the ship. A long walkway ended at the nose of the bridge where a mound of disturbingly shaped lumps resembled a pile of bodies.

The command team sat at a cluster of control stations directly between the two flying bridges and at the head of the walkway. Yumi tiptoed in a wide circle around one side of them, easing into their field of view. Their humming pilot turned the helm side to side carelessly, like a child pretending to fly. His green-splotched head jerked suddenly, and he grunted in surprise when he saw Yumi. He growled and stood up, his face twisting in rage as he bared his teeth, but the captain jumped forward and laid her hands on his bald head. She whispered in his ear, and the fire in his eyes dulled. He sat back down, twitching his fingers, but no longer tensed to attack.

"Back to your duty station, P'Tooey. We have to reach Vulcan before the Dominion assault." She released him and turned to study Yumi and Potter. Though her bare hands were free, she wore loose coveralls and a fishbowl-shaped helmet that gaped open where its round mouth perched on her shoulders. Green fringed the whites her eyes. Her ears were mildly pointed, but not as sharply as those of a full-blooded Vulcan. "Welcome, to the USS Enterprise, new recruits. I am your captain, Jane T'Kirk."

Keith looked at the insane, diseased Vulcan, glanced around the bridge and the crew and then looked at Commander Han. More than anything he wanted to just shoot everyone on the bridge. It seemed like the best way to go but he knew how mean the commander could be. He'd seen her chewing out Lieutenant Jackson. So instead of pulling his phaser, he simply rested his hand on it and waited. There is zero chance this whole thing works out. Green zombie people don't negotiate, not even in the holonovels he thought.

"Hello, uh, Miss Jane." Yumi folded her lips inward as the Southernism escaped her. Better to charge forward than acknowledge she had been thrown aback so far that a childhood habit hopped out of the bushes of her mind. She slid her eyes across T'Kirk, noting a pronounced jaw and an emerald rash splashed across her hands like spilled paint. Yumi stood nonplussed for a second before opting for honesty. "We are here at, um, former Captain Kagawa's request to treat an infectious outbreak on this ship. Are you feeling well?"

"As well as can be. I can't let a little stomach ache get me down." Jane smiled--pale lips curled upward beneath wincing eyes. A hand rose unconsciously to cradle her gut.

T'Sai waited for a moment after Yumi and Potter entered the bridge to move forward. She stepped into the, surprisingly, well lit room. At least, she had expected it to be much darker with the power out. She scanned for the console layout, and found the console. There was a member of the old crew seated there. He was tapping out what would have been a course for Vulcan, if they had power, and if they were closer to the position the ship had been in when she lost power.

Phaser in one hand, tricorder in the other, Gantt side-stepped to his right towards a woman in a civilian uniform near a computer screen. From here the bridge looked worse than observing through the hatch. The strange eyes, sickly skin and jumpy, almost directionless motions of a woman nearby were more terrifying. He stopped. Though she gave no indication of even noticing his presence Gantt's neck prickled like feeling the edge of a knife drawn across it. Biology had never seemed more threatening, and he kept the phaser pointed at her.

One of T'Kirk's crew growled as the number of newcomers grew. A second and third growl quickly joined him in hostile chorus. "Our ship..." "Save Vulcan..." "Rhurrrr..."

"You are upsetting my crew," Jane said, her last words shivering with anxiety. "Please, leave, or I will have security escort you to wait your turn with the others at the prow."


Concluded in "The Chains of Command 2"

Lieutenant Commander Yumi Han
Executive Officer/Chief Intelligence Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant Junior Grade Soto Gantt
Structural/Environmental Specialist
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Ensign T'Sai
Assistant Chief Flight Control Officer
NPC (by Kedra Nema)

Crewman Keith Potter
Security Officer
NPC (by Captain Llwyedd)


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Comments (2)

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Max Tragar on Fri Jul 6th, 2018 @ 9:19am

Guys. The descriptions in this post are so stunning. You have all blown me away this month with fantastic writing. Great job and wonderful establishment of the setting and coming dangers.

By Captain Malcom Llwyedd on Fri Jul 6th, 2018 @ 9:40am

Potter... he is such a dorky jerk to write. lol. This was a fun post.