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The Anti-Prime Directive

Posted on Tue Jul 5th, 2022 @ 11:02pm by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Cadet Freshman Grade Gianna Djokovic

Mission: Academy Days
Location: Rolor Nebula, USS Valkyrie
Timeline: 10 March, 2399

[ON]

Lt. Commander Sanek didn't notice when the turbolift stopped. He was deeply engrossed in a PADD, the contents of which he'd written himself but was reviewing after the staff meeting he'd had with Captain Sherman and Commander Acres, the XO. Both of them trusted him, of course. They had worked together for almost three years and while he would never truly understand some of the eccentricities of humans, he respected their professional skills. Still, neither of them agreed with him that the Rolor Nebula was unusual. He was already planning how he could improve his argument that the Valkyrie should move further into the Nebula and was certain he would eventually show them the logic. And then the turbolift stopped abruptly. He looked up from the PADD, noted the Bolian crewmember and the fact that he was an engineer, his department, and was about to ask a question, and then the power went out.

The Bolian, Damage Control Specialist Petty Officer Bet'u Zake, made a squeak of surprise when the lights flickered out. He, of course, knew exactly who Sanek was and he had been quite aware of the Vulcan's presence in the lift. He'd been trying hard not to act too nervous around his department head, giving the Chief Engineer plenty of quiet time to read whatever he was reading on the PADD, even though he was dying inside to say hello. "Oh! Well, that's quite unusual," he pronounced aloud at the outage. Not giving Sanek any time at all to reply, he asked, "Are you going to call engineering or should I?"

"Crewman Zake," Sanek said in a calm voice. His face was illuminated by the PADD he'd been reading but otherwise, there was no external lighting. "You should note that the emergency lighting is non-operational. That can only occur if there has been a complete loss of all power. In such an occurrence, all communications on the ship are inoperable. However, you may attempt point to point contact with your combadge. I am not optimistic." He tilted his head and waited for the Bolian.

Indeed, there was also a distinct lack of warp core thrumming that was usually ever-present in the background and it did likely mean there was no power to primary systems, but, "One can't be sure until one tries!" the Bolian offered optimistically. "A lot of these systems have very specific redundancies just for these reasons." The sound of a combadge chirpped unseen. "Zake to engineering. Engineering, are you there?"

Sanek waited as the silence settled heavily in the turbolift. He waited an additional thirty seconds and then spoke. "It would appear that we are on our own, crewman. Our first order of business is to regain our freedom of movement. We are somewhere between the bridge and deck thirteen. Do you have any additional information or tools that we can utilize? I have only this PADD, which is of limited capabilities," Sanek said. He made a mental note that the temperature in the turbolift was dropping.

"Operating outside the turbolift is very dangerous. When a turbolift looses power, it is magnetically locked down but when the power is restored and it starts moving again. Very quickly." He ran a fist through the air and collided with his opposing palm. "Splat."

Zake shifted a small toolbag that was slung over his shoulder and opened the flab. "I was working on a control panel on Deck 3," he explained. "So it's just a basic electrical set. And a roll of gray tape!" He handed the duct tape roll to the Vulcan to hold while he fished around in the bottom of the dark toolbag. "Oh, jackpot. A hyperspanner. That and a ladder and we might be able to open a top panel."

"I believe the two of us are up to the task," Sanek said as he watched Crewman Zake open the access panel and begin to root around. He saw that the Bolian had genuine knowledge of the turbolift, despite it not being one of his areas of responsibility. All Starfleet systems were designed so that, in the case of a catastrophic emergency, they would retain power temporarily in the subsystems. That allowed for access to that energy for precisely what Crewman Zeke was attempting. The panel lit up, albeit at a lower illumination level and Zake quickly opened the hatch above them.

"Well done, crewman. I will lift you to the access and then we will both see where we are exactly," Sanek said.

The cold air that fell down through the open panel above them was an ominous sign.

"You're going to lift me?" The Bolian asked as he tucked away the spanner into the tool bag and secured the flap. Like most of his kind, Zake was a bit on the shorter and stouter side. 'Made of sturdier stuff than most,' was what his mother once described him as. Though he did know that Vulcans were incredibly strong for their size. Something about muscle density and gravity ratios. He gave a shrug and went with it.

Zake placed the tool kit across his body rather than hanging from one shoulder, and then lined up with Sanek for the assist. Boot planted on Sanek's interlaced hands atop his knee, he was soon raised the required height to grab onto the bar just outside the access hatch and pulled himself up with upper body strength alone.

Not stopping too long to think about the precarious position they were in, he splayed out on the top of the lift and reached down a hand to hoist up his Commander.

Sanek jumped and grabbed the outstretched hand. He was impressed with the Bolian's strength as, together, they managed to get both of themselves through the hatch and onto the top of the turbolift. Sanek saw the lift shaft was illuminated by a soft orange light that was yet another indicator that the ship was without main power or the emergency backup.

"It is curious. What kind of event would knock out our primary and secondary power sources. These lights are the tertiary power supply, which runs off of an old chemical system. It is highly inefficient but it is very durable. Speculation, crewman?" Sanek said. He turned in a circle, looking for an exit. He thought he saw one approximately thirty feet up.

The Vulcan's eyesight must have been better in the dark conditions because the spot where Sanek was looking was shrouded in darkness to Zake, but there was definitely a ladder built into the side so maybe there was a hatch up there somewhere. "Ion emissions from the nebula interfering with certain matter reactions? Old fashioned EMP?" he offered, not really sure either really fit the symptoms they were looking at. "I certainly haven't seen anything like it."

"Indeed," Sanek said. He tucked his PADD into his uniform and began the climb. The air was charged with something, perhaps ions as the Zake suggested. He could smell something in the air and began to wonder if the Valkyrie had been attacked somehow. The metal rings under his fingers was cold but not unbearable. He let his mind search for solutions to the unknown question, which distracted him long enough to make the climb less tedious than it otherwise would have been. The ladder did indeed pass by an entryway and there was a small ledge that allowed one person to stand next to it.

"Apologies, crewman, I should have this door open momentarily," Sanek said. His hands probed the doorway, finally settling on the emergency release. He admired the design for its elegance and simplicity, two things he valued in engineering. He pushed in on the release and twisted it, allowing the catch to release and the door to spring open. He eased inside the darkened hallway.

Zake pulled himself out of the hatch a few moments behind Sanek, dragging the tool bag with him through the opening. He popped to his feet, but everything was very disorienting in the dark. "Where is everyone?" he whispered.

The two of them stood together in the darkened hallway. Sanek was intrigued at how silent the ship was and at how used he'd gotten to the hum of power and the thrum of the engines, not to mention the incessant talking by the crew. He was surprised to find that, on the whole, the silence was not as calming as it once had been. In fact, he found it to be disturbing. He filed that thought away for further contemplation.

"Good question. I believe that we are on deck 12. The Stellar Cartography lab is not far from here. We can access it and attempt to use the sensors to discover the condition of the ship and the surrounding space. Do you have alternative ideas?"

Zake shook his head, completely unnoticed in the dark of course. "The lab will have tricorders, too, with independent power supplies. Should be able to tell us where people are." The thought that they could find dead bodies was one that occurred to him in that moment, but he had no real reason to suspect it. Ambient life support would be viable for awhile longer yet before an evacuation order and life boats would have been deployed. They weren't stuck in the lift that long.

The walk to the Stellar Cartography lab wasn't far but it felt like it took much longer than usual. Sanek felt no fear, of course, but he couldn't help but be at peak alertness and it was exhausting. The lack of people or even bodies, was troubling. He kept thinking about possible scenarios where the ship could have lost all power and somehow caused everyone, but them apparently, to disappear. He could not recall any similar incident.

The door to the lab was open, which was fortunate for the two of them. Sanek was startled when, as they crept inside, he realized that the lab had power. At first glance, it looked as if there was no light but he soon understood that the surround screen was actually projecting blackness.

"Computer, increase ambient lighting to thirty percent," he said and the details of the room became more visible. They were standing near the control panel at the end of the extended walkway. Sanek pointed to the lone seat that stood sentinel before a wide, curving computer station. "Crewman Zake, please take the controls and tell me what you find out. I'm going to open the access panel and try to find out why there is power here and not outside in the corridor."

Zake sat down at the console, pressed a few commands into the interface, but was greeted with an endless scroll of errors and other glitchy behavior. "I'm going to try to reinitialize the system," he grumbled, tapping at commands multiple times to get anything to register.

Sanek waited patiently while Zake worked. After a few moments the large star map blossomed into light, showing the Valkyrie's position. The ship had nudged a bit inside the nebula, something that Sanek had argued against, and was now apparently floating free. But that didn't mean it was alone. He could see a swarm of smaller vessels circulating around the starship, like gnats. "It would appear we have found the origin of our current circumstances."

"Could it be the lifeboats?" Zake, the eternal optimist, asked as he stood from the console and walked out to the map. Lifeboats weren't normally programmed to stay near the ship, but rather rendezvous some distance away for safety reasons, but they could have their reasons. When he approached the projection, he squinted at the unfamiliar design of the smaller swarm and his heart dropped. "Definitely not lifeboats. What is it?"

Sanek looked at Zake. "They are our adversaries, Crewman Zake."

[OFF]


Lieutenant Commander Sanek
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Valkyrie

Petty Officer Bet'u Zake
Damage Control Specialist
USS Valkyrie

 

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