Topic: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine  (Read 12301 times)

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Offline Scottish Andy

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2012, 10:33:58 am »
This is a little heads' up: I am returning! I've caught up to where I am here on my own website and so will be posting both there and here for the continuation of Quarantine. Look for Chapter Seven on the 3rd of June.
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Offline Grim Reaper

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2012, 11:03:39 am »
Will do!
Snickers@DND: If there is one straight answer in that bent little head of yours, you'd better start spillin' it pretty damn quick, or I'm gonna take a large, blunt object, roughly the size of Kallae AND his hat and shove it lengthwise up a crevice of your being so seldomly cleaned that even the denizens of the nine hells would not touch it with a 10-feet rusty pole

Offline Scottish Andy

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Quarantine - Chapter Seven
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2012, 10:03:22 am »
Here we go. The (hopefully) long-awaited continuation. As always, comments, critiques, and reviews are desperately begged for.



Chapter Seven



Barely noticeable to them standing outside, once inside, the heavy, almost subsonic thrum of the power generator came as a welcome reminder of civilisation after too many hours in the dark, their only aural stimuli being their own voices and equipment, and the constant ploink of dripping ground water in the dank tunnels and caves.

“It’s a standard Tokomak-based fusion reactor on minimal power generation, Commander,” Grace stated as they examined its sleek casing. “Functionally identical to our impulse reactors, though the current magnetic field strength at this power setting indicates it’s only an eighth as powerful.”

“If all it has to power are lights and heat it doesn’t need to be even a twentieth as powerful as our engines,” Lathena stated. “There’s going to be some high-draw equipment located here.”

“It could just be some pirate’s place to lie low while the heat is on. Maybe they relax here and watch sports on a holovid,” Na Tchuto offered, his measured tone giving no hint of humour.

“Let’s go find out instead of staring at a fusion reactor and guessing,” Grace suggested impatiently to him, then turned to look at her senior officer.

“Agreed, Lieutenant, but let’s be careful. We’re a long time from help arriving and we’ve no backup. ‘Caution’ is the operative word.”

“Understood, Sir,” Grace sighed.

Lathena nodded seriously then led the way out of the room, down the covered hallway, and into the complex proper.

*****

“Holy Kolkar, would you look at that!” K’Nomi breathed, frozen into place by shock, awe, and not a little fear. She slowly flipped out her communicator’s antenna grid and hailed the leader of their security detachment.

“Lobsang here,” came the cheerful response.

“Nyima, this is K’Nomi back at base-camp,” she identified herself to him. “Please return to my location, but approach slowly and with caution.”

“What is the nature of the threat?” the Tibetan asked seriously, all business now.

Picking her words with deliberate care, she replied, “There is a three-metre long insect with a three-metre wingspan crawling towards our perimeter. It emerged from the forest minutes ago and it seems to be coming right at me!”

“Already on my way, Lieutenant,” came the reassuring response. “Please contact Lieutenant Cha’Doth for me and let her know the situation. I have to watch my footing here.”

K’Nomi smiled. Even though Lobsang spoke seriously she could still hear the amused undertone he directed at himself. “Will do, Nyima. Thank you.”

“S’what we’re here for, K’Nomi. Two minutes.”

K’Nomi switched channels to raise her senior officer, who answered after a few moments of increasing dread as the massive, multi-winged monstrosity approached her with relentless deliberation.

“Cha’Doth here,” the reply finally came back. “Report.”

Repeating her words to Lobsang prompted Cha’Doth to ask, “Are you in any danger, Lieutenant?”

“Not immediately, Sir,” the Caitian replied, her tail lashing nervously despite herself. “But in observing it for over a minute now it’s definitely coming right for me, Sir. It’ll cross the sensor perimeter as Lieutenant Lobsang gets here and I… I don’t know what to do if it doesn’t stop, Sir.”

“Yes you do, Lieutenant,” the Ur’uth’uul’s steady voice came back reassuringly. “You need to test what is attracting it, if anything. It may be completely unaware or uninterested in your presence and is merely passing through. It could be attracted by your scent, body heat, aural vibrations, or electrical field. It could be attracted to your comm equipment or your power sources. Draw your phaser, set it for heavy stun, and move around carefully to test these hypotheses, then report back in.”

K’Nomi felt abashed. I‘m a lieutenant in the Star Fleet. I’m not a green ensign weeks out of the Academy! she rebuked herself. Gathering her wits, she replied in a stronger voice. “Aye-aye, Lieutenant. Thank you, Sir. K’Nomi out.”

She pulled out her Type-I hand phaser and slowly, gingerly stepped away from her equipment until there was ten metres between them. During all that time, the giant insect didn’t alter course to intercept her.

Okay, phew! It’s either unaware of me and intent on my equipment or its just going for a slow crawl across the forest floor and we’re in its way. Thus reassured, she updated Cha’Doth just as Lobsang carefully entered view some thirty metres to the creature’s left. She watched his eyes widen briefly at the spectacle before him before casting an appraising look at her.

Since the insect hadn’t responded to his appearance, she risked calling over to him. “I’m okay, Nyima. It seems like it may be interested in my equipment instead of me.”

The Security man nodded but even as he did the bug’s metre-long, whip-like antennae quivered and it paused. This was enough to freeze her into immobility again, but it also “sat up”, and its half-metre long mandibles came into view, wickedly curved and solid-looking. Heart racing in her chest, she saw Lobsang staring thoughtfully at it as he drew his Type-II phaser pistol.

Still watching it like a hawk, Nyima called loudly, “Don’t worry, Lieutenant, I‘ve got you covered. What does your tricorder say about it?”

Again, the insect reacted, turning deliberately to assess the new sounds it sensed. The spell slightly broken, K’Nomi grabbed for her forgotten scanner at her hip and started probing the creature with sensor beams.

The insect reacted again, and again it slowly turned to her. Maybe it is sensitive to subspace emissions? That would be quite the evolutionary puzzle! she thought, her innate curiosity and Starfleet training reasserting themselves in the face of a mystery.

It was apparently not to be, however, as the creature’s five paired dragonfly-like wing segments flipped to the vertical then began beating rapidly until they were just a blur. The giant insect rose laboriously into the hot, humid air before more nimbly speeding off through the forest, just under the lower canopy of the trees some seventy metres above the ground.

“Looks like we scared it off, K’Nomi,” Nyima called as he re-attached his phaser to his equipment belt and approached her. “What data did you get on it?”

Whiskers drooping somewhat, the comms officer replied, “Not much, I regret to say. It caught me… off guard.”

Nyima nodded sympathetically. “Understandable. Unnerving, wasn’t it? Excessive size can seem frightening all on its own.”

Glad he actually did understand, K’Nomi smiled in relief. “That’s exactly it, Nyima. Combine that size with animal instinct and a form so… fearsome, and…”

“Yeah. Though, if that’s as fast as it can go I don’t think we have too much to worry about.” Even as he said it, a frown crossed his face.

K’Nomi noticed it and had to agree. “It did seem to move rather sluggishly. Maybe it’s a sick insect? After all, flying insects don’t normally crawl across the ground when they can fly, right?”

“No, I’ve seen it happen a lot. Depends how far it came,” Nyima told her. “I guess we’ll not know until someone finds a second example of that species.” He frowned again, something obviously tugging at his instincts. “Lieutenant, I’m going to back-track its path. If it came in a straight line towards your comm unit I’ll try to pick up its trail and find where it came from. Those are big bugs and if there’s a nest of them nearby they could pose a significant threat to our people.”

K’Nomi’s tail lashed nervously again, but before she could speak her communicator chirped. Flipping it open, Cha’Doth’s stern voice issued fourth, demanding a report.

“We’re okay, Sir, and the creature seems to have been scared off. However, we need to check out where it came from. Lieutenant Lobsang’s going to seek out where it started crawling from.”

“Very well, keep me informed. Have the lieutenant keep an open channel to Lieutenant Thia,” she instructed.

“Aye Sir,” K’nomi acknowledged as Nyima nodded.

“Did you find out what was attracting it?”

“It was the equipment, Sir,” K’Nomi replied. “It only seemed to notice us when we called to each other across the clearing. It definitely has aural senses, and it evidenced typical insect compound eyes. It is possible that it is sensitive to subspace frequencies as well, Commander,” the comms specialist voiced her tentative conclusions.

“Indeed. Start scanning for subspace energy signatures and signals in the region as part of your ‘euphoric’ investigation, Lieutenant. I don’t see how they might be linked at present, but best not to leave any leaf unturned.”

“Aye-aye, Sir. K’Nomi out.” Replacing her communicator on her belt, she looked at Nyima. “Be careful, Lobsang.”

He flashed her a mouthful of brilliant white teeth. “Always, Rozen.” Nodding amicably to her, he set off back the way the insect had come, talking into his communicator.

K’Nomi returned to the subspace relay and altered some settings on its scanner module. Let’s see what this reveals…

*****

“Over here, Commander,” Na Tchuto called from another room. “I think I’ve finally found something that isn’t a maintenance room.”

“Ooooh, really? Promise?” Grace Kim muttered under her breath.

Lathena heard it clearly, if quietly, and smiled to herself. The five rooms they’d explored in the “habitat block” had contained large, complex-looking equipment that had taken tens of minutes to decipher the purpose of. They’d turned out to be waste management and recycling systems for food, clothes, and equipment – a room to each – and an environmental control room for the whole complex. It only made sense to Lathena; keep the habitation sections as far from the generator as possible, and keep the technical and maintenance aspects together.

As they reassembled beside Na Tchuto, there was nothing immediately different about this room. Yet more computer banks lining the walls, and large, industrial-appearing but nondescript equipment dominating the centre of the room.

“Specialist,” Lathena greeted the security man. “Tell me what is different about this room.”

“Well Sir, I’m not sure, but I think this is their computer control room, where all the complex’s server machines are.”

Now you’re talking, Joao!” Grace exclaimed happily.

Lathena had to agree, and immediately set about re-examining the room. While Kim was a geologist, Lathena used to be chief communications officer on a frigate and a destroyer before her current billet as X.O. As such, she knew as much about computer systems as the Falkland’s computer officer. “What makes you say that, Specialist?” she asked while she made her own deductions.

“Lots of computer banks but only two interfaces. More racked and active electronic equipment in the centre of the room arranged to give personnel access to both sides of every rack,” Na Tchuto explained.

“Good eye, Specialist. I concur,” Lathena returned, her eyes fixed on one of the user interfaces. They were on opposite walls, she noted. As if deliberately placed so that no one person can operate both simultaneously. Security measure, definitely, but for what? A pirate boss would want to be able to do everything themselves if necessary and not have to rely on another, especially to erase incriminating evidence. Self destruct? she wondered as she sat down at the console. No, same thing applies. Just another mystery to solve, she decided as she flipped up her tricorder in an attempt to decipher the controls. There was a 103-button keyboard labelled in an alien script; a blank pad some five centimetres square of a different material inset in front of the keyboard; a thirty centimetre by twenty centimetre glass screen inset to the right of the keyboard; and a fifty centimetre wide by thirty centimetre high flat screen in the vertical panel above the keyboard. Deducing that the smaller inset was a touch pad, she gently drew her finger across it. The screen flared to life with a multicoloured display seemingly simulating buttons on the screen, again labelled in the alien script.

“Grace, Joao, does this lettering seem familiar to either of you?” she asked her companions.

They both moved in to look at the screen and keyboard. Grace stared for a few moments before shrugging. “No Commander, I’m sorry. It seems vaguely familiar but I cannot place the hazy recollection.”

Joao frowned at it and commented, “I agree with Lieutenant Kim, Sir. It does seem somewhat – though distantly – familiar, but I cannot place it.” He thought hard for several moments, then ventured, “Perhaps… a Klingon derivative?”

“You may have something there, Specialist,” Lathena said thoughtfully. “My Klingonaase reading skills are somewhat aged, but it’s blocky enough…”

“I assume none of us has a Klingon language or alphabet database loaded into our tricorders?” Grace commented archly.

Lathena sighed. “You assume correctly, Lieutenant.”

“Based on the dimensions of the doorways, corridors, seats, and the use of floor space, it looks to me like this place is used by standard humanoids,” Na Tchuto noted aloud. “This place could belong to Klingons, or an offshoot or lost colony, to allow for phonetic drift.”

Grace Kim blinked. “You’re right, Joao. I keep forgetting that ‘strange, new worlds’ don’t automatically host Human-sized bipeds.”

“Oh, Lieutenant,” Lathena chided playfully as she continued flicking her eyes from the console to her tricorder screen. “Seems Academy standards are slipping from when I was there.”

Kim bobbed her head sheepishly. “More likely it comes from talking to and about rocks instead of aliens, Commander.”

“Okay, proceeding from the similarity to Klingonaase, I think I’ve started deciphering these controls,” Lathena commented with a hint of frustration. “Grace, please examine the, ah, server racks, and note which ones are active or more active than others.”

“Aye, Sir.”

After about ten minutes of mapping out the system, Lathena announced, “Okay, I think I’ve isolated the power-up command sequence.”

Na Tchuto spoke up quickly. “Commander, don’t you think it would be a good idea to examine the rest of this facility before we start to play around with buttons and switches? It seems to me that this computer system is remarkably helpful and open to outsiders. Definitely not the usual pirate mentality, especially regarding computer systems.” At her look, “We don’t even know what purpose this place serves yet!”

“That’s what I’m going to find out, Specialist, from their own memory banks,” she replied.

“Sir, I think it’s an unwarranted risk at this time,” the security man persisted. “We don’t know enough about this complex to start activating its systems. What if—”

“Specialist—” Lathena interrupted him firmly, then changed her mind. “Very well. Your concerns are not unfounded, and it shouldn’t take too much longer to search the rest of this complex. Let’s go.”

Joao let out a relieved sigh. “Thank you, Commander. If you’ll follow me?”


As it turned out, the place just became a bigger mystery. The resumption of their search revealed a standard, comfortable home, with sleeping quarters for twenty: four single rooms and a dormitory with bunks for the rest; a recreation area with holoscreens, game consoles, and other electronics; an exercise area with basic fitness equipment; a small medical room with archaic tools of the trade like pre-packaged bandages, metal scalpels, and presumably sanitised carpentry instruments; sanitary facilities for showers and bodily needs; and lastly, a decently equipped and stocked kitchen. No food synthesisers were evident.

The mystery resulted from the large block with the doors-that-weren’t. From the outside, that rectangular block looked as though it held three floors with dimensions of twenty metres to a side. Even from inside the complex there was no passage, tunnel, door, walkway, or any other apparent means by which someone could access that block.

“It’s right through that wall,” Grace said in frustrated tones, “but that wall and the ground beneath it show as solid, no gaps or entryways at all. And I still can’t scan what’s inside the damn thing!”

“Kelbonite lining the walls on the inside?” Lathena asked, sharing in her subordinate’s frustration.

“That’s what the interference pattern suggests, Sir,” Kim replied.

“They’ve got to beam in there,” Lathena declared. “There’s no other way in, unless there’s more subtle sensor jamming materials or equipment in use to hide an ordinary doorway from us.” She thought further before coming to a decision. “We’re not cutting our way in there. For all we know this could be a bioweapons lab with a whole room full of nasty viruses and agents in there we could set loose. We’ve got no alternative other than to get into their computers now.”

Na Tchuto looked unhappy but raised no further objections.

Checking her wrist chrono, she said, “We have five minutes before we’re declared missing. Mr. Na Tchuto, update Mr. Greene and tell him to go get through to the ship. We’re not leaving here without some answers.”


Back in the computer room, the three resumed their previous tasks and Lathena brought up the same screens on the user interface.

“I’m running the activation sequence now,” she announced. “Keep alert. Grace, I want constant tricorder sweeps of the complex. Na Tchuto, guard the door and be ready to act on Mr. Kim’s sensor data.”

“Understood, Commander.”

“Aye, Sir. Tricorder scans commencing now.”

Satisfied that she’d taken as many precautions as she could, Lathena ran the sequence and watched the user interface intently.

“Computer activity rising.” Kim reported in tune with the slowly but steadily increasing number of indicator lights flickering on computer banks around the room’s walls. “Reading an increase in power being generated by the reactor,” she also noted moments later. An audio alarm went off on her tricorder next and she called out with slight alarm, “Sir, we’re being scanned!”

Lathena came to an instant decision. “Evacuate the complex! Move!

Joao was already through the doorway, visually confirming the corridor was empty as his two companions raced towards him. “Clear!” he yelled, and started for the hallway to the generator building.

Then their world exploded with light and sound.

*****

   SYSTEM ACTIVATION…
   CHARGING CAPACITOR ARRAYS…
   INITIALISING SENSOR GRID…
   RUNNING SYSTEM DIAGNOSTICS…
        o   GENERATOR BUILDING STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY NET FAILED
   SENSOR GRID INITIALISED
        o   GENERATOR BUILDING STRUCTURE COLLAPSED SOUTH WEST QUADRANT
   ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! – LIFE FORMS DETECTED
        o   SCANNING…
        o   CREATOR:                         NEGATIVE
        o   AUTHORISED PERSONNEL:  NEGATIVE
        o   CREATOR SPECIES:            NEGATIVE
   DIRECTIVE: REPAIR GENERATOR BUILDING
   DIRECTIVE: CAPTURE AND CONTAIN FOR GENETIC COMPATIBILITY ANALYSIS
   DIRECTIVE: DEACTIVATE SOMNOLENT PROGRAM
   …
   …
   …
   …
   …
   CAPACITOR ARRAYS CHARGED – REMOTE UNITS READY FOR DEPLOYMENT
   INITIATING CAPTURE PROTOCOLS…
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Mickey: "Wot's that?"
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- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

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Offline Grim Reaper

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2012, 03:03:09 am »
Nice, now the sh*t has hit the fan. Also nice to see even with training people can still be scared by giant bugs. Though it did strike me as odd there is only 1 person sent to check out if he can find their lair. Wouldn't 2 be more secure, even though they are short staffed?
Snickers@DND: If there is one straight answer in that bent little head of yours, you'd better start spillin' it pretty damn quick, or I'm gonna take a large, blunt object, roughly the size of Kallae AND his hat and shove it lengthwise up a crevice of your being so seldomly cleaned that even the denizens of the nine hells would not touch it with a 10-feet rusty pole

Offline Scottish Andy

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #24 on: June 21, 2012, 10:07:06 am »
Grim, that would probably have been a good idea, yeah.  :)
I just like to think that, while tech advances and people's perception and definition of "normal" changes, there is never an explanation for everything and some things are still wondrous and inexplicable. Others are still scary on many levels, like visceral (gross-out horror), instinctive (base-level repulsiveness), etc.
I am sure that in the depths of unexplored space you will encounter something that terrifies you at  such a base level your training will only mitigate the fear and its still up to you to manage it within the framework of your training.
One of the things that got to be annoying was the various crews' over-professional-to-blasé attitude towards super cool/bizarre/scary stuff, and how sanitised and "ho-hum-everyday" it got to be. Far too close with the analogies to current day. I mean, half a dozen PADDs stacked up on your desk? Who has have a dozen Blackberries or iPhones? What was wrong with shunting what you were looking at on a PADD to their Desktop? Where did the genuine holographic displays from early TNG go? Maybe that is why TOS is still my favourite Trek. Maybe that's why interest in Trek died off. All the form there, none of the substance. This is why I write the kind of Trek I write.

Anyway, moving on.

[tired prod for more feedback while resigned to getting nothing]

No other comments? I'd like some before I post the next chapter, for as Grim states, the faecal matter impacts the air circulation unit then.

C'mon people. I read all your stuff and comment on it.

[/tired prod for more feedback while resigned to getting nothing]
« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 10:22:54 am by Scottish Andy »
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The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

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Offline Captain Sharp

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #25 on: June 28, 2012, 08:27:12 pm »
Feel like I've been prodded. What? Oh, there's a long nacent story here. Ok, Let's read it...
***

Ok, had to go back and skim to remember which one this was. My memory does not retain such detail as to remember everything it needs, when you have several stories on the line at once. How you write like that to begin with, sir, is beyond me. If I did such a thing...you'd have Captain Sharp armed with a sword fighting orcs... And various fantasy characters fighting with phasers in hand. I can't do it.

But, am caught up again.

So far as the giant bug goes, if the character is a greenhorn, the reaction is likley. If the character is not, and given what you see on Star Trek every episode... Some controled revulsion might be in order...but not panic. Thankfully, you didn't go that far. Now, if said character already had a fear of bugs, might be a different story.

I do like that no one flew off the handle and shot the thing or ran screaming off into the woods, though either might have been funny. More so, I like the bit at the last, where as Grim says, sh*t hit the fan. Am interested to know how the 'lifeforms' will be 'captured and contained'. Nice touch. Good thing it speaks English too. Though I'm sure an easy UT explanation will make it all better.

I'm looking forward to more.

As to the comments on Padds stacked up on the desk, you know the reason for such as well as anyone. Its a TV show. Having the character bitch about all his data work and there being nothing or even a single padd on his desk doesn't drive home the same visual impression. You can do that in written form more easily.

Do we keep multiple Blackberries on our desk? Not usually. However, I have a boss who walks around with 3 cell phones. Certain people have a certain number and call pretaining to certain business. When such business is not being conducted, corresponding celly is off. Not quite what you meant, I know, but figured I'd throw it in there anyway. It fit as well as your own rant  ;D

Back to the story, though: I feel like this one is really just getting started. And I'm hoping exactly that. One, it needs some meat to it, but then you know this, otherwise the last part wouldn't even be there. Two, you've established some cool, burgeoning characters here and they beg for a longer, more involved story that this 'intro' yet gives.

I particularly like Nyima (I'm horrible at remembering names, fictional and RL, but I think that's right) and his reaction to the bug situation. Also like that he did not balk at the idea of going off alone to see if there was a bug nest. He was brave enough and confident enough to do so, concerned enough to know they could be a problem and, well, I like characters that are loose with regs.

Anyway, keep er up, man. Looking forward to more.

--the guv
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline Commander La'ra

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #26 on: July 01, 2012, 02:36:42 pm »
If I did such a thing...you'd have Captain Sharp armed with a sword fighting orcs... And various fantasy characters fighting with phasers in hand. I can't do it.

That actually sounds kind of fun.;)
"Dialogue from a play, Hamlet to Horatio: 'There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' Dialogue from a play written long before men took to the sky. There are more things in heaven and earth, and in the sky, than perhaps can be dreamt of. And somewhere in between heaven, the sky, the earth, lies the Twilight Zone."
                                                                 ---------Rod Serling, The Last Flight

Offline Scottish Andy

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2012, 11:44:29 am »
I can only write with several stories on the go at once. I have to be in the right mood to write a particular story, and sometimes I get the dreaded Writers' Block. I discovered that when I was trying to finish one story and just could not. I wouldn't let myself work on anything else because I thought I was so close to finishing, but it just wouldn't come. So I finally let myself write something else and it poured out. But long before that, I knew I get inspired about a particular thing and write it, then fall out of the mood or lose the inspiration so I drop it, and come back to it later. I have about 20 stories in various stages of starting or completion right now. :)

As for your cross-genre adventures... I agree with Larry. They sound interesting. :D

The fear of bugs is the aspect I was going for. As she said herself, she's not a greenhorn, she's a Starfleet junior lieutenant. Perhaps I did go overboard a little on the fear reaction though. These are not normal people from the street dropped into a deep space role -- much as mid-to-late TNG implied with its seecondary characters.

As to shooting first and asking questions later or running off screaming, neither are my style. At least, not until I finally write 'Star Trek: IKEA' and the adventures of Chief Engineer Alan Key of the U.S.S. Flatpack. ;)

Well, this being the keystone of the whole story, you will indeed see how the "capture and contain" will happen. As to the computer speaking English, I believe I mentioned that it uses a Klingon-derivative language when they were examining the control room; however, if I'd placed that up there in Klingon script you'd probably not have understood it, now wouldya? Unless I'd put in a C-3PO contrivance to exposit its beeps and whistles... :D

Your point with the multiple cell-phones is well taken, Rog. I will take that onboard for future reference.

As to the rest of the story, the meat is indeed coming; these people do indeed get fleshed out and definitely get more involved in the story -- and pleased I am at those double entendres, as you will read next.

I am glad I've given you a character that you genuinely like; as with Fearless' French Security Chief for Larry, it definitely adds to your enjoyment of a story. Just so as you know, Nyima's based on someone I know.

Anyway, since Larry seems patently unable to comment on stories even when begged, pleaded with, and threatened, screw 'im and here is where it kicks into high gear.  ;)
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 12:32:11 pm by Scottish Andy »
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The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

2288

Offline Scottish Andy

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Falklands: Quarantine - Chapter Eight
« Reply #28 on: July 11, 2012, 11:45:22 am »
CONTENT WARNING!This is where it gets ugly.
You have been warned!

Additional: However, I have also been chastised and have learned from it, so what follows is now a more sanitised version. Now with reduced "squick" factor.




Chapter Eight



Specialist 3rd-Class Michael Greene instinctively ducked and rolled sideways towards the minimal protection of the tunnel wall, dousing his hand lamp as he did, as the pulse of light and high-pitched ringing impinged on his awareness. It hadn’t been very bright or loud but in the stygian blackness and almost complete silence it came through clearly, unmistakable for what it was.

Peering back the way he’d come he could see and hear nothing more than the utter darkness and the ploink… ploink of stalagmite-forming groundwater drips. Flipping open his communicator, he called softly, “Greene to Commander Lathena.” The seconds crawled by with no response, but he managed twenty whole seconds before repeating his hail, edging along the tunnel wall as he did. A quick but intense check of his tricorder gave him a really bad feeling.

It was no longer detecting the three other life-signs that should have been there.

He started back the way he had come, switching on his handlamp and trotting back to the mouth of the huge cavern. Once there he again tried his tricorder and communicator, to no effect. He called every member of the landing party but no response came back. Now, it was likely that they might have just changed their plans and abandoned the computer room and effected an entry into the scan-shielded building and that’s why their life-signs were no longer registering. The flash and bang could have been a charge to breach the room.

But the landing party carried no such charges; didn’t need to as their phasers could be set to ‘cut’.

Worried, Greene adjusted his tricorder to scan a different spectrum and discovered that the fusion reactor had doubled its originally encountered output.

Something had obviously happened. His last update from them had stated they were going to try activating the facility’s computer centre. The lights they’d turned on earlier were still on but the place looked just as lifeless as before, though a bit more welcoming. But his team was not answering. If they could, they would, so something was preventing them. And that light and sound had immediately shouted “stun grenade!” to him.

Greene was now torn. His last orders had directed him to make contact with the ship, but his comrades could be imprisoned, hurt, dying – or all three. But Greene was their sole means of rescue, and if he was captured too it might be hours before anyone else made it through, and even then they’d be completely uninformed about what was down here. Could he risk going to save his shipmates? Could he risk not? A momentary indecision paralysed the young security officer, who was barely six months out of the training school. He did not know what he was up against nor what had actually happened to the landing party. It could be that they had set off a single stun grenade and nothing else – all three might just need to be revived. But what if there was a defence system? Sensors, guards, weapons emplacements, etc.?
 
Greene was glad to find the thought of putting himself in danger made him only mildly apprehensive, despite the unknown nature of the danger. What was freezing him with indecision was the fear of being similarly incapacitated and thus left with no hope of rescue for many hours, with no one back on the ship any the wiser to the urgency of the situation despite the captain’s three hour warning.

Greene checked his chronometer. The three hours out of contact had only just passed. Captain Sotok would no doubt give his crew a short period of leeway since there were no Vulcans among them, then assemble a standard landing party detail that would proceed carefully but with no real sense of urgency through the tunnels they’d already mapped. It might easily be another three hours before anyone else got this far and even then they’d probably not be prepared. Whereas, with his urgent call for help and his equipment to lock onto…

Snarling curses at himself, he gave the lighted mystery facility a last look and sent his hopes and reassurances towards his comrades before taking off at triple-time back up the dank tunnel.

*****

Cha’Doth had made her way around to the sloth-analogue’s drinking spots and was scanning the sky-blue “reeds” she’d seen move to determine how it moved and what sensing and neural capabilities it possessed. Tuning her tricorder to its maximum sensitivity, she’d detected some very slight, very low-level neural activity below the surface of the water.

Makes sense, she reasoned. The roots really are the heart of the plant and being in the water reduces the neural node’s vulnerability to the elements and animals. As for the sensing and movement, just as a bird knows how to use air currents to hover, these plants can sense sound vibrations and air pressure changes indicating an animal’s presence, and ‘knows’ to try and trap it. Fascinating!



Continuing her sweep of the landing party’s widely separated locations, it took Security Lieutenant JG Thiazental sh’Fatehrin a few moments to figure out something that had started to tug at her subconscious.

That sonic-vibration effect is gone! she suddenly realised. It had been a constant presence for almost five hours so she’d finally managed to tune it out as background noise despite it practically caressing her antennae the whole time. Now that it was gone she almost felt sad, but it was likely that no one else had noticed yet. Flipping open her communicator she hailed Lieutenant K’Nomi at base camp to pass on this information for her investigations.



K’Nomi’s sensor readings noted the sub-harmonic effect ease and she began running diagnostics on her equipment to ensure it was the effect and not equipment failure. Satisfied that this was so, she lifted her communicator to hail the second officer but was startled to have it cheep at her instead. “K’Nomi here,” she answered.

“K’Nomi, this is Thia. The sonic vibrations have stopped, it may have been—”

“I know, Thia,” the Caitian interrupted. “It disappeared from my scanners a minute ago. I was about to hail our Science Officer.”

“I’ll take care of that,” the Andorian offered. “Unless you have specific information to pass on?”

“No, you go ahead. I’ll keep trying to figure out what it means. K’Nomi out.”



Christine MacAllen stared with unalloyed fascination at the huge caterpillar-analogue before her, taking in its multifaceted segments and lazily waving sensing tentacles surrounding its mouth.

Skora wasn’t kidding! she thought wonderingly. It certainly is a magnificent specimen. But if its just sitting there like a sack o’ spuds it’s not surprising she wanted to swap. Three hours of staring at a large green lump! Enough to drive anyone to go for a walk, the Scot thought with a grin. I wonder how she’s liking my lily?

Flipping open her communicator, she hailed the Daenaii biologist and asked her that exact thing.

“It’s certainly impressive,” the red-skinned ensign replied. “If my mate brought this home as a ‘forgiveness bribe’, I might well be inclined to forgive them!” she joked.

“Aye, he’s a beaut, in’t he?” Christine agreed, but was then distracted by movement before her. Fine blonde eyebrows shooting up in surprise, she told her friend, “Skora, you’re not going to believe this, but ole sack o’ spuds here is moving.”



Thia switched channels to inform the second officer.

“Understood, Lieutenant,” Cha’Doth acknowledged her report. “I don’t know what significance this event may have, but be alert for something happening. We may find out that it’s some unseen insect like a snarfblat or cricket making that noise and it’ll restart shortly, but in case it is not—” 

A sudden shriek ripped through the dense foliage from Thia’s forward-right quadrant, instantly silencing the forest. Immediately on the alert, the Andorian shen drew her phaser pistol and started visually scanning the forest around her for threats.



“You cannot be serious!” Skora fairly exploded over the comm channel. “The first time I move away from it in three whole hours, and it’s putting on a show for you?” she demanded incredulously.

Chris grinned into her comm unit. “What can I say? Maybe he likes me better.”

“Damnit MacAllen, you’d better have your tricorder out and be getting good scans for me!” Skora chided back. “I’m on my way, but I’ll take five minutes to run over there. Please, Christine, I—AAAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!”

MacAllen fairly jumped out of her skin at hearing her friend’s blood-curdling shriek issue from her communicator and through the trees in bizarre stereo. She spun around in the direction of the lily. “SKORA!!” she yelled desperately into the unit, starting to run towards the Daenaii.

The multitude of tentacles that enfolded her from behind and yanked her off her feet were thus completely unexpected, and Christine let loose her own shriek of surprise and fright.



Closing her communicator, K’Nomi punched in commands to her equipment and became absorbed in her investigation until a tail-curling shriek emitted from somewhere behind her in the forest.

The young comm officer stood rooted to the spot, her tail lashing furiously with its fur all puffed up. At the second scream from a different location on the heels of the first, she dropped to a crouch beside her equipment, eyes slitted and ears flat back against her skull.



Before the second cry had faded completely, Cha’Doth urgently demanded, “Thia! Check on Ensign MacAllen! That scream came from—”

Something bumped into her right shoulder.



Cha’Doth fell silent again and Thia felt the hair on the back of her neck rise. The silence lasted all of two seconds before the forest exploded into noise again, and more shrieks and hoarse cries accompanied them.



K’Nomi pulled her Type-I hand phaser from her belt, but even though she was marginally reassured by its warmth it also felt tiny and puny in her hand. She fervently wished for a Type-II or even a -III as more shrieks, screams and cries erupted from all directions around her.

Pulling her communicator out again she tried hailing the security officers but there was no answer even as the bedlam continued. Just then a huge buzzing began to fill the air, getting louder very quickly. Within three seconds of her noticing it, its source burst through the foliage and sped at her.



Lieutenant Cha’Doth instantly flung herself to her left as Starfleet basic training came to the fore. Retaining her hold on her communicator, Cha’Doth spun to face whatever was there while reaching for the Type-I hand phaser on her belt. Her tricorder bumped against her hip as she let it fall on its shoulder strap. Her solid silver eyes widened in alarm as she saw the maroon reeds rearing back from her previous position and she yelled breathlessly into her communicator.

“Thia! It’s the pl—”

A surprisingly flexible tube of sky-blue struck out at her wrist, knocking her communicator flying and instantly curling repeatedly around her left wrist. She brought her phaser around and almost succeeded in aiming it, but another tube snaked around her right wrist with an intense grip, forcing her to drop her weapon. Thus ensnared, the victorious blue reed plant hoisted her into the air over the shallow edge of the pool where other tubes whipped around to similarly grip her lower legs and hold her horizontally spread-eagled and face-down over the surface of the water, whereupon another tube coiled itself several times around her neck. Her long, wavy, candyfloss-pink hair fell straight down around her face, blocking any view of what was happening around her.



Frozen in shock, Thia stared at her communicator for milliseconds that crawled past like winter on Andor before shaking out of it. She pounded through the forest to the source of the nearest shriek, hurriedly switching channels to raise Nyima.

“Lobsang! Can you see what’s happening?” she asked urgently.

“No! Nothing but damn trees!” came the somewhat breathless response. “They’re still crying out though, so I—”

The transmission cut off so abruptly that Thia almost lost her footing with a fear reaction. She could tell the comm channel was dead and not just open and silent.

What the tezha is going on?! she demanded with increasing fear and alarm.



K’Nomi’s eyes widened in fearful recognition as the giant insect that had visited her an hour ago made a bee-line right at her. Retaining her wits this time she dove away from her relay immediately. It was not a second too soon as the creature’s metre-long mandibles pierced the booster relay’s casing and ripped the unit apart.

Her communicator forgotten for the moment, she raised her phaser and unleashed a bolt at the insect’s body. Her elated feeling at scoring a direct hit immediately faded upon seeing that it had no effect on the creature except to draw its attention to her. Hurriedly checking the phaser’s setting, she cursed and shifted it from light stun to heat/kill and raised it again.

She was too slow.

Showing none of the sluggish behaviour of their previous encounter, the three metre-long flying thing was on her in a fraction of a second. The downdraft from its rapidly beating wings blew her hair and the foliage around her, and as she lined up on it again one wickedly curved mandible smacked the small Type-I from her hand and bowled her over.

Stifling a cry of pain, K’Nomi rolled with the impact and came up two metres to her right nursing a badly hurt wrist, and immediately spun around in the maelstrom of slashing leaves to locate the bug. She raised her communicator again and yelled “K’Nomi to Fal—” only to have it yanked away from her lips as the bug seized her from behind in its eight legs and pulling her a metre off the ground.



Running headlong through the densely packed undergrowth Thia tried re-opening a channel to anyone’s communicator.

No one answered.

She was nearing base camp so she slowed her headlong rush through the thick forest vegetation and checked her Type-II phaser pistol’s heavy stun setting was selected. The foliage ahead was thinning out so she adopted a more cautious approach despite the choking sobs and mewls and a very loud, angry buzzing she could hear up ahead. It occurred to her that she’s better signal the ship and let them know there was trouble in case no one else had managed it.

She was just raising it to her lips when a creeper vine tripped her. She stumbled to her knees and almost dropped her communicator, but ignored it and started to hail the ship.

The vines that wrapped around her wrists and tugged her all the way to the ground therefore came as a complete surprise.



Skora shrieked as something long, flexible, and strong wrapped itself around her waist and yanked her off her feet. The sensation was akin to running full speed into an unexpected metal bar at waist height; her legs, arms and head all snapped forward at the unexpected backward acceleration, and then she was being spun around in midair. The flexible green limb coiled itself around her waist three times as it retracted towards its source somewhere out of sight behind her. She came to rest on the ground, braced against her neck and directly in front of Christine’s massive lily with her arms pinned behind her back and her thick silver-blue hair covering most of her face and obscuring her vision by getting in her solid black eyes.

Biting her lip ‘til it bled, Skora finally yelled out in frustration. “Kolker-damnit, HELP ME!!” she hollered as loudly as she could. “This is Ensign Skora Okeild and I’m being attacked by a giant Kolker-damned flower! It’s got me completely restrained and I’m gonna need to be cut out of the damn thing!”

Listening for an answer she was unsettled to hear other cries of fear and calls for help, muffled and distorted by the thick foliage and the forest’s own noises.

A wave of fear passed through her at the thought she might be on her own because the whole landing party was being similarly attacked. Following on the heels of that thought came the more reassuring one that Captain Sotok’s required fifteen-minute check-in protocol would ensure help arriving within thirty minutes at the most. She just had to hold out until then; the captain wouldn’t let them down.

“HEEEEELLLLLLP!” she hollered again, seeing no need to stay quiet. “Someone call the ship! Let the Captain know! Can anyone hear me?!”

The lily chose that moment to grip her body more tightly, constricting her breathing and bringing her mind back to focus on herself. She knew that the ship’s medical facilities would be able to deal with any physical after-effects of this forced… pollination… and she knew that she could endure what she must until rescued. She believed this right up to the point where another wet, fleshy tentacle bumped against her.
 


Christine heard her scream trail off but she felt no need or urge to stop. The mass of writhing pink tentacles that now held her in their crushing grip included one that was wrapped around her neck, constricting but not cutting off her breathing. Others were repeatedly wrapped around her arms which were similarly pinned to her torso, though her legs were left dangling as the caterpillar-analogue held her effortlessly a good metre off the ground.

Christine regained a measure of her composure and tried freeing herself, but her squirming merely prompted the thing to grip her torso more tightly, threatening her breathing once again. She used her still-free legs and kicked out at the beast’s underbelly but even the hammering of her booted toes seemed to have no effect. It had risen two thirds of its body into the air, revealing some sort of thorax cavity where the mass of tentacles had emerged. She felt herself held by at least three of the prehensile, thick-as-her-arms pseudopods which were exerting great pressure on her body, while at least another three were being used to trace the contours of her body in an almost tentative fashion. The tentacle wrapped around her neck felt like a solid band of muscle but also slick with a thin coating of slime or mucus which felt thoroughly repulsive against her skin. She felt the same gooey sensation from the two pseudo pods tracing the extent of her legs, and regretted her decision to not wear trousers on this landing party duty.

This regret was instantly magnified to extreme proportions as another tentacle was brought into play and Chris immediately started yelling at the top of her lungs for help and to advertise her location. The first surge of terror she’d felt as three metres of giganticised caterpillar-analogue had towered over her returned full force at the thought of what could happen next, and in doing so actually listened for a reply.

All she could hear were more shrieks and cries. Is this happening to all of us? she thought, unable to believe she could be even more horrified than she was a moment ago, but finding it so nonetheless.

Her thoughts were once again drawn front and centre as the tentacle began questing. The rapidly fleeing rational part of her mind noted, This is bizarre behaviour for an oversized caterpillar! Even if it can do what it’s trying to, how would it even know that it could? Why would it even try? I have no eggs it can fertilise…

Fresh horror and revulsion burst forth as she realised It’s going to use me as an incubator! even as the creature pulled her close to it in a crushing embrace. A tentacle grabbed each of her ankles and pulled her legs wide.

Christine cried out in pain and horror, unable to believe that this was actually happening to her. Just a few moments ago, not even a minute, she had been a scientist examining a fascinating new life-form. Now she was a helpless victim in the clutches of some monstrous alien beast. Tears threatened but she forced them back. All she had to do was hold on for a brief span of minutes and help would arrive, either from her colleagues on the landing party or from her shipmates on the Falklands.

She attempted to distance herself from what was happening to her body. It couldn’t have been more than a couple of minutes since she was “taken”, but Chris already felt woozy; it slowly came to her that the caterpillar-analogue was still throttling her and her breathing was ragged and shallow. The crushing pressure on her ribs and squeezing of her neck was inhibiting her breathing as well as cutting down on the flow of blood to her brain through her carotid arteries; she was slowly suffocating, no doubt an intended part of the creature’s attack to render its victims more… pliant. And it was unfortunately working.

In her very woozy, lightheaded state, she started noting things about the caterpillar-analogue: the smooth, hot scales of its sides were like those of a snake; its underbelly was similarly scaled but felt damp, likely from being pressed into the earth all this time; that the creature itself held many similarities to a traditional medieval European dragon…

She suddenly woke up again. A fresh wave of horror and revulsion swept through her and again she started struggling, but that merely regained the beast’s attention and resulted in the tentacle around her neck constricting again, to the point of her seeing stars from the lack of oxygen to her brain.

Damnit, why is this happening to me? she pleaded silently as her vision tunnelled and faded to grey. Why isn’t someone coming to rescue me…?



Odai burn them! Cha’Doth cursed the plants silently. I need to contact the ship! she despaired, spying her communicator lying two metres from where she’d been forced to drop her phaser. She could hear other cries of fear and for help, but as she struggled to free herself, the tube around her neck constricted in an obvious threat. She had to try though. Her crew needed her.

She willed herself to motionlessness and was rewarded by her “collar” loosening. Slowly tensing herself for a breakout attempt, she saw another, differently proportioned tube-reed rise from under the water directly in front of her. Knowing that couldn’t be good, the Ur’uth’uul female erupted into frenzied but directed motion, bending herself in two and using her hands to try and free one of her legs.

She almost managed to touch her boot before the tube-reeds arrested her movement and straightened her body out, all while the collar tube constricted again. Cha’Doth saw sparkles in her vision as her breathing was almost completely cut off and the flow of blood to her brain was interdicted. The squeeze was so intense she almost lost consciousness, but she clawed her way back from the encroaching darkness, tenaciously refusing to succumb.

Tears of fear and despair welled up in her eyes, making the silver orbs glisten even more brightly. NO! I will NOT! she snarled defiantly, summoning rage to her defence and blinking away her tears. The Captain will soon know and be here to rescue us, and once I am free I’ll burn these things to ashes. Then I’ll atomise the ashes!

The tube-reed coiled around her throat rapidly tightened and began to strangle her.

The Captain will come. The Captain will come. The Captain will come…

She held onto the thought, repeating it like a mantra as her vision tunnelled.

The Captain will come.

—Dimmer now—

The Captain will…

—Fading to grey—

The Captain…

—Blackness—

…Captain…

—Nothing.



K’Nomi shrieked with fear and revulsion as she was enfolded into the giant insect’s embrace and pressed tightly against its soft underbelly. The diminutive Caitian was almost completely engulfed and K’Nomi entertained horrified thoughts of being carried off to be devoured later or fed to the thing’s spawn.

Fighting against the repulsive sensation she realised with a start that she still held her communicator. Her arms were tightly pinned to her sides, but perhaps she could—

Squirming her hand and fingers into a less constricted orientation, K’Nomi tried to palm the device and twist her wrist around to where she could flip open the communicator antenna and hail the ship automatically.

She was just getting her claws under the antenna grid when a bolt of pain shot through her whole body. The pain was so intense her muscles spasmed and lost her grip on the communicator, shrieking in pain until her voice was hoarse and she was left sobbing and gasping.

Why is this happening to me? she wept to herself. Why is no one coming to save me?



Lobsang Nyima again tried to force his hand out through the constricting tangle of fleshy but surprisingly tough and flexible thick vines to reach his communicator.

Again, he failed. This led to a spate of cursing in Federation Standard and the Orion Traders Tongue, because the damn thing was a straight-out arm’s length away.

The plant now holding him captive had him bent in half at the waist in a position that would have been laughable if the situation were not so serious. It looked as if he’d been pulled through the seat of a chair, forcing him into a U-shape.

The plant had exploded into lightning-fast movement as he’d ran past it, completely contradicting the lethargic motion the entire landing party had observed in their five hours on the planet’s surface. Its thick, flexible tendrils had ensnared his ankles and then the rest of him as he’d crashed to the ground, his communicator and phaser bouncing close by as he lost his grip on them. But ‘close’ is as good as light-years away at this point, he thought sourly as he pulled his hand back inside the vegetable cage.

This time, though, he noted a burning sensation on his skin, and a faint scent of burning or melting came to him as well. Held almost completely immobile like this, another spike of alarm flashed through him. It’s corrosive! It’s acting like acid on my uniform and skin! The damn plant’s going to try digesting me!

Nyima struggled further, with his whole body this time, and came to yet another unpleasant conclusion: It’s constricting as well. It’s going to crush and eat me, he deduced with surprising calm. At this rate I have some time, but not much. The Captain’d better send someone down to rescue us pretty damn quick!



Lieutenant JG Thia sh’Fatehrin was dragged across the forest floor for a good two metres before coming face-to-shell with her assailant, upon which the limbs that had grabbed her coiled up around her forearms to very effectively hold her in place. She found herself on her hands and knees, staring at an egg-shaped plant which had split down its four seams to reveal a writhing mass of wet, green tentacles, two of which already held her prisoner in an iron grip that felt out of place on a half-metre tall plant.

The Andorian security officer immediately struggled to free herself, trying to wrench her arms from the thing's imprisoning limbs, but she couldn't escape their iron grip. No purchase could be gained to lever herself away from the alien plant and her captor held her in place easily.

She then concentrated on whipping her head from side to side, trying to free herself. This almost worked, but just led the alien plant to wrap another wet, fleshy limb around her neck. The more coils it forced around her neck the less mobility she had and so the thing was able to continue unhindered.

It took a few moments more, but the plant relaxed its chokehold on her slightly. Unable to suck in the great draughts of air she needed, Thia’s lungs burned as she pulled in just enough for life. After a few minutes her breathing steadied enough that she was no longer in intense pain from oxygen-starvation.

She’d managed to hold onto her own life – for now, she thought seriously – but it still left her with the problem of freeing herself. Thia was frankly terrified. This thing could still kill her, though how that would tie into it obviously trying to spread its seed she didn’t know.

The alien plant released her left arm and instead grabbed her upper thigh. Again Thia struggled with as much strength as she had, managing to keep her other arm free and grab at the tentacles besetting her, but the plant’s limbs snaked up around her trouser-clad calves regardless.

Thia spied her dropped phaser pistol not half-a-metre away on the ground and lunged for it, bludgeoning at the plant with her chunky boot heels, as she was no mere primate with only four usable limbs and a prehensile tail to combat the multiple tentacles wrestling with her. She almost got her fingers around the weapon’s emitter array but was yanked back out of reach of it by a victorious enemy.

Both her legs now encased in tentacles from hip to mid-thigh, she was unceremoniously hauled upright on top of the egg-shaped plant with her legs slightly spread, straddling the centre of the thing. She felt the main tentacle poking and prodding at her, but her tough Starfleet-issue trousers defied the plant’s attempts.

Thia remembered being told about the new uniforms and all their benefits, not the least of which was the statement that it would take a wickedly-sharp blade to pierce or slash the adaptive fabrics it was made from. I’ll have to send a “thank you” note to the developers once I get out of this! Thia thought with stress- and relief-fuelled humour as yet another attempt by the strong alien plant failed to rip open her uniform trousers. I just have to hold out now until the captain sends another Security detail down to check on us.

This feeling of relief lasted until the plant, reaching up to hook itself in her waistband, managed to unwittingly find the magnetic fastener for her trousers.

“You’ve got to be tezha’n KIDDING ME!!” Thia screamed out in frustration and rage. Powered by the bioelectric field of her own body, the small electromagnet that enforced the closures was activated by a latch just like the one on the flap of her uniform jacket. Without that magnetic field, the closures were just ordinary seam seals – and clothes are designed to be taken off.

The alien plant seized her waistband and forced her trousers down over her slim hips. Thia wept with rage, unable to even look at her phaser lying in plain sight less than three metres away.

You will release me. And as soon as you do, she vowed, I’m picking up that phaser and I’m going to burn you to ash. And then I’m going to find all your insensate, raping kind and I’ll burn them to ash as well. And once I get back up to the ship, I’ll use her phasers to burn this entire forest to charcoal, and then her photon torpedoes to irradiate this place so no living thing grows here ever again!

Unheeding of her towering, insatiable fury, the plant carried out its biological programming with the warm animal body it had captured to fulfil its reproductive directives.

“When you’re done here, you’re DONE! You hear me, you f*cked-up mutant cabbage?! You’re ASHES! You’re whole kind are ASHES! YOUR WHOLE TEZHA’N PLANET IS ASHES!” she screamed, on the knife edge of hysteria.

The tentacles holding her loosened and dropped her limply to the forest floor with her trousers around her knees.

Deeply traumatised, the young Andorian shen mindlessly tugged up her trousers and curled up in a ball beside the egg-shaped plant.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2012, 02:25:13 pm by Scottish Andy »
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The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

2288

Offline Lieutenant_Q

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #29 on: July 11, 2012, 07:56:34 pm »
Wow... graphic indeed.  Tentacle Rape?  The men are being eaten? I suppose?  But unless there's something specific the plants need about the female reproductive system, the men could serve as incubators just as easily. (I also didn't realize until just now that almost the entire landing party was female) With all this going on, all we have left is specialist Greene, who somehow managed to slip through the cracks.  He wasn't in the compound when it locked itself down, and he wasn't near any plants when they went crazy.

I had been wondering on the time-frame for this story, but the undressing of Thia answered that it is about TWOK or just prior to.

I'm picturing a very emotional scene when the crew gets back to the Falklands, the women wanting payback for what these plants did to them, and the Captain telling them all that they are being far too emotional, the plants did what they logically had to do, and the physical effects can be taken care of in sickbay.  Paying almost no attention to the Emotional and Psychological Scars that will be plaguing all of them for the rest of their lives.

I am... hesitant... to say whether I really WANT to know where this is going or not.  But it's like a car accident... you don't really want to see it... but... yeah you do.

"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

Offline Captain Sharp

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #30 on: July 19, 2012, 12:02:15 am »
OMFGWTF!!!

Been watching too much late night anime-tentacle-porn? Where are the octopi?

Not that I mind. I find the absurdness of both tentacle porn and this story entertaining, and you have it down right down to the overly self-controlled inner thoughts and dialogue. But I NEVER expected THIS from YOU! Holy sh*t!

I hope they burn this planet to a cinder.

--rog
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline Commander La'ra

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #31 on: July 19, 2012, 12:22:51 am »
Yep.  That squicked me out a little.  Needing some brain bleach over here.  Diddddn't enjoy that at all.

However, since you'll ask anyway, I will say that the entire last scene was suitably horrific, if that's what you were going for, though it has some of the same weaknesses as most horror movies.  Given the size of the away team and the fact that military personnel are involved, I'd have expected at least one of them to have reached (or already had) a weapon that they could use effectively, based on nothing more than law of averages.  Yes, the one got off the shot with the phaser, but I still think SOMEBODY would've offered more effective resistance.

I also feel that you may've went too 'whole hog' with the scene.  Simply put, it would've been just as horrific showing it happen to one of them instead of giving us the gory details on all of them, at least in my opinion.  I think the minutae of the detail combined with the number of victims makes the whole scene seem way too exploitative (really, a facial?).  A little too much, as Cap'n Sharp said, like a leering, drooling, hentai anime.

Looking at the story as a whole, I do think your team definitely has 'Starfleetitis' and that definitely contributed to them being so easily overwhelmed, though it would seem that the euphoric effect mentioned earlier may have been part of whatever's going on's overall plan, lulling our future PTSD cases into letting their guard way, way down.  Nothing they did, however, would seem out of place on a Trek episode, however, but you know my opinion of Starfleet's poor 'don't get killed' methodology.

Example:  When face with a giant bug, no sane person would leave a weapon set to an intensity that can be iffy on a Klingon.  I can see them being that stupid on the show, but...well I'll divert myself from that rant.

Characterization note:  After the anger experienced by Thia during her particular ordeal, as shocked as she is, I'm highly surprised she didn't crawl over to her phaser and carry out her threat following her release.  She still seemed pissed when it let her go, and I don't see that just vanishing.

Anyhow, much like the legendary, deleted 'Eaten by bugs' scene supposedly did in the original King Kong, I fear the last scene will have mostly killed the story for me.  I still harbor some lingering curiosity towards what's going on, but the overall squickiness of the scene combined with the sentiments I expressed earlier make me less inclined to read further.
"Dialogue from a play, Hamlet to Horatio: 'There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' Dialogue from a play written long before men took to the sky. There are more things in heaven and earth, and in the sky, than perhaps can be dreamt of. And somewhere in between heaven, the sky, the earth, lies the Twilight Zone."
                                                                 ---------Rod Serling, The Last Flight

Offline Scottish Andy

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Falklands: Quarantine - Chapter Nine
« Reply #32 on: July 20, 2012, 04:20:50 pm »
Q, Guv, Larry. Thanks for the replies and the reviews. Honest feedback is the best feedback. I have reasons for including what I have in the previous chapter which I will give once the story is ended -- but that isn't for a while yet.

I do have to cynically chuckle at the reactions a little though. I am reminded of Kyle's mum in 'South Park - Bigger, Longer, & Uncut' (and paraphrasing here):
"Deplorable violence is okay, as long as you don't have a potty mouth!"  :D

I thought the Guv's Endeavour story where Ben pulverises Commodore Shilloah was pretty horrible. Which he then topped with the Endeavour story about the entity which makes the crew start mutilating themselves and killing each other. That's not a dig, Roge, just an observation. :)

Why is it is okay to show the most spectacularly gruesome and gory injuries and deaths possible, yet get so shy around and scared of sexual assault? If onwe is okay, why not the other?
That's a massive can of worms for another time though. ;)

That said, on with the show.





Chapter Nine



“Captain, the landing party is overdue for their last check-in,” Edmund Hawke announced to the man in the centre seat.

“One minute overdue, Ensign,” Sotok agreed in his inflectionless deep baritone. “Hail the second officer, Mr. Hawke.”

The young Englishman did as ordered, but the familiar chirp of an open comm channel was not forthcoming. Hawke tried again, but again the electronic ‘triple thud’ of a failed computer task resulted.

“Hail all landing party members, Ensign,” Sotok ordered next, no trace of worry or apprehension colouring his Vulcan calm.

Edmund programmed his board and sent out a priority hail to all comm units on the planet below, including his direct superior’s subspace booster relay at the base camp, but after thirty seconds of further silence he reported worriedly, “No response from any of the landing party, Captain. Diagnostics show my board is fully functional and my equipment shows all their communicators are still functional.

“My hails are getting through, Sir, but no one is answering them.”

“Understood, Ensign,” Sotok acknowledged the comm officer in that same emotionless tone, then turned to the science station. “Mr. de Vreij, close range scan for life-form readings, one kilometre radius around the base camp.”

“Aye, Sir,” the Dutch scientist responded, already operating his controls. “I still have all the surface members of the landing party on my scanners, Captain,” Joop responded with obvious relief. “One Ur’uth’uul, one Andorian, one Efrosian, one Vulcan, one Daenaii, one Caitian, and two Humans.”

“Topographical display with life-sign overlay on main viewer, Mr. de Vreij,” Sotak ordered. “Mr. Hawke, merge your communicator positions with it.”

The “Aye-ayes” echoed back and the main viewer showed that the communicator signals were located within a metre of the life-signs, except for Cha’Doth’s, which was almost four metres away.

“Mr. de Vreij, orbital telescopes. Display a visual scan of the location of Lieutenant Cha’Doth’s life-signs. Magnify to display a five-metre-square area,” Sotok instructed as if ordering a coffee.

His apparent lack of concern despite the possible danger his crew could be in was starting to get to the young Human officers manning the stations on the bridge. Despite “knowing” about Vulcan logic, suppression of emotions, and even their legendary stoicism, the young and inexperienced officers found it hard to reconcile this knowledge with their gut-level, instinctive resentment of someone who apparently didn’t care about their colleagues and friends.

Hawke spun around angrily to stare at the viewscreen to stop from boring holes in the back of his captain’s head.

De Vreijj hit the transfer button for the orbital telescopes to the main viewer with more force than was necessary, the toggle emitting an audible snap that accurately reflected its operator’s fit of pique.

The image that appeared before them all on the main viewer took no time at all to be interpreted. Believed, processed, and accepted, however, was another story entirely. An Arkenite, a Tellarite, and two Humans looked on in shocked silence as they saw their third in command being horizontally restrained, spread-eagled, and being violated by a blue tubular reed-type plant, suspended above a rock pool. Her maroon uniform with its white highlights, jet black skin and long pink hair brought into sharp relief her situation against the soft blue of her assailant and the water it grew from, and the light grey rock containing the pool.

Captain Sotok responded immediately, pressing down on a direct com-link button on his command chair. “Captain to Security,” he stated quickly and clearly.

“Security, Strøm-Erichsen here, Sir,” the Norwegian security chief answered within two seconds.

“Emergency deployment, all available personnel. Arrive planetside in two minutes,” Sotok ordered quickly and concisely. “Details will be forwarded to your terminal immediately.”

“Understood, Captain. Strøm-Erichsen out,” the security chief signed off, wasting no time.

“Ensign Hawke, transfer coordinates of all our landing party personnel to Lieutenant Commander Strøm-Erichsen.”

Hawke was still enthralled by the image on the main viewer and was slow to respond to his captain.

“Ensign!” For all that Sotok’s voice was inflectionless, it still cracked like a whip and Hawke found himself locking gazes with the Vulcan’s black eyes. “Carry out your orders,” he continued in a flat tone that practically reached out and slapped the junior officer.

“Uh, aye Sir! Sorry Sir!” Hawke flung over his shoulder, already turning to work his board and feeling thoroughly chastised.

“Mr. de Vreij, locate all the landing party members on the surface and ascertain their status,” Sotok ordered next. “And take that image off the main viewer.”

“A-aye, Captain,” a shaken Joop answered as Sotok moved to join him at the science station. Several quick focus changes later and they had found too much forest canopy obscuring their crewmates but also seen Lieutenant K’Nomi in the literal clutches of a huge insect, Lieutenant Thia held down by a plant’s writhing tentacles, and Petty Officer Surek trapped inside a living cage.

“I am accompanying the Security teams,” Sotok announced to a shocked bridge crew. “Ensign Hawke, you will instantly relay any new information developed by Petty Officer de Vreij to me. Acknowledge and comply.”

“Aye-aye, Captain,” they both responded with alacrity.

“Lieutenant tor-Barnaii, you have the conn.”

“Aye-aye, Sir,” the Arkenite Helm officer replied instantly and opened a channel to summon his relief to the bridge.

With that, the captain of the Falklands left his bridge.

De Vreijj and Hawke shared a stunned look, each seeing the new awareness and the personal shame and embarrassment in the other’s eyes.

It was less than two minutes since the image of Cha’Doth had appeared on the screen. Anyone who had doubted their captain’s concern for his crew doubted him no longer. Those last two minutes had taught two Humans, young and inexperienced both, that “emotionless” did not equal “uncaring”.



Sotok rematerialised on the planet’s surface in company with his security chief and ten of her remaining personnel. One “unlucky” soul remained behind to be beamed down in another thirty seconds when the Falklands’ transporters had cycled. They’d beamed down into a clearing inside the base-camp’s perimeter, phaser pistols out and facing all points of the compass.

“There, Sir!” Crewman 1st-class Thoron called out, pointing. “It’s got Lieutenant K’Nomi!”

Even as Thoron said his second word Sotok had confirmed his sector was clear and was turning to view the security male’s assigned sector. The stout Andorian had already aimed his sleek new-model phaser pistol and unleashed a wide, flat bolt of brilliant scarlet energy at the monstrous flying insect. The beast seemed unfazed but turned to escape. Suddenly, twelve beams bathed it in energy and the thing dropped like a stone before getting more than a metre.

It crashed to the ground from the two metre height it had been hovering at, releasing K’Nomi who thudded limply to the ground herself after having been caught in the blast nimbus of twelve phasers set to heavy stun. Crewman 2nd-class Morales rushed up to check on her while the other security personnel covered him.

“She’s just unconscious, Captain!” he called out, and nine of his crewmates breathed easier. The two Vulcans gave no such emotional reaction.

“Have the lieutenant beamed up immediately with special emphasis paid to decontamination protocols,” Sotok ordered, speaking with quick but precise diction. “Stay with her until Medical claims her, then rejoin us with Petty Officer Morin. Inform the medical staff that a full internal scan of the lieutenant would be prudent.”

“Aye, Captain!” Evo acknowledged with alacrity, and flipped out his communicator even as the rest of the rescue party turned to the next nearest crewmember in distress.

“Lieutenant sh’Fatehrin’s communicator signal is thirty-two metres on a heading of one-three-two,” Sotok stated calmly, already jogging in that direction and flanked by his own security detail. “Be wary; our crewmates have been taken by local plants. Remain observant and keep your distance from plants that seem relatively isolated amongst this dense foliage.”

“Understood, Captain,” Strøm-Erichsen replied for all of them, and thus forewarned they plunged forward into the thickening forest.

*****

“Morales to Falklands, two to beam up, these co-ordinates!” Evo barked into his communicator.

“Stand by, Morales; the units are still cycling,” came the unpleasant news from Transporter Chief Jelani Kayibanda. “Just a few seconds more.”

Evo called urgently, “Have a med team waiting for us! I’m bringing up Lieutenant K’Nomi!” He found he was surprised it was still less than thirty seconds since they’d beamed down to begin the rescue. So much had happened already...

Over the open comm channel, Jelani stated, “Energising now.”

The next thing Evo knew he and the supine form of the still unconscious communications officer were on the discs of Transporter Room One, and isolated from Chief Kayibanda by a force curtain bounding the open side of the circular transporter stage itself.

Before he could say anything, Evo demanded, “Is the Med team on their way?!”

Jelani nodded even as he hit the control to begin the decontamination sequence. “They’ll be here shortly, Evo. How is she?”

Morales closed his eyes and shielded them further with his hand as the sterilisation energy field cleansed his skin, hair, and uniform of alien microbes and foreign matter. “She was literally in the clutches of a giant flying insect!” he blurted, hands gesturing for emphasis. “We blasted it, twelve phasers on heavy stun,” he continued as the Med team barrelled in with an anti-grav gurney, “and it was holding her close to it. We think it’s just the blast nimbus, but it may be contact stun as well.”

“What else can you tell us, Crewman?” C.M.O. Louisa Garland-Els asked loudly, over the snap and buzz and hum of the sterilisation field, her distinctive South African accent clipping her words.

Evo hesitated, not sure how much he should divulge – and how graphically he could put it – in a public setting. Settling quickly for a middle ground until he could get into a more private setting, he answered over the noise of decon, “She was bitten by the huge bug which had her trapped! The captain recommends a full internal scan!”

The decontamination process ended abruptly and he was suddenly shouting into a quiet room. Lowering his voice, he urged, “We need to get her to Sickbay!”

“Turner, help Morales!” the doctor ordered.

The two men lifted the unconscious Caitian onto a gurney – Morales careful to keep her legs together to hide the tear in her trousers as Medical Technician David Turner lifted her by the shoulders – and then they jumped into the waiting turbolift car at the intersection of Turboshafts Two and Three, right outside the transporter rooms.

Safely within the car for a few seconds, Garland-Els ordered, “Spill it, Morales!” even as she ran her scanner over K’Nomi.

“Sir, she was being... raped... by that monster bug!” Evo blurted, knowing this was all the time he’d have and not wanting to waste it on dissembling.

Louisa’s eyes widened in shocked disbelief, but as the turbolift doors opened right beside Sickbay she did not question him further.

Running quickly in, she barked, “Prep the Isolation Room, full quarantine protocols! Kemal, activate the sterile field and prep the diagnostic scanner!”

“Doc, I gotta get back down there!” Evo told her urgently.

She nodded. “Go. And Morales? You did good. Thank you, from me, and her.”

Evo nodded seriously and was gone.

Louisa focused her full attention on her patient. “Kemal, Turner, transfer her to the scanner bed.”

The two men quickly and efficiently did so, this time with David taking K’Nomi’s ankles. As her head nurse activated it, Louisa turned back to the med tech. “David, take the stretcher back to the transporter rooms and await... developments.” Her bright blue eyes were deeply troubled.  “I fear you’re going to be needed there.”

“Yes, Doctor,” the sturdy Englishman replied sombrely, then grabbed the stretcher and guided it quickly back to Turboshaft One.

“Kemal?”

“First pass almost complete, Doctor,” the pale Turkish man replied, his dark eyes locked onto the imaging scanner’s full-length display. The results were displayed seconds later, and he gasped, “What the hell—”

Louisa’s voice hardened. “Eggs, Kemal. Insect larvae that will no doubt hatch inside her and eat their way out, given enough time.

“Let’s not give them that time,” she stated, voice hard and flat.

“I’ll get another stretcher, Doctor!” he called out over his shoulder, already on his way back into the I.C.U.

“Hopefully the second pass will be done by the time you get back,” she muttered to herself, directing the sensor head to specific points of concern. “Bruised bones in left wrist. Surface bruising on her arms, ribs, front torso. Reproductive canal trauma. Alien insect eggs implanted in the womb. Foreign biomatter in both. No indications of any other physical trauma,” she muttered to her medical log, mentally adding, as if this is not more than enough to begin with!

Kemal returned moments later and they transferred K’Nomi, still unconscious from the heavy stuns, first to the gurney and then to the surgical table.

“Five cc’s of masiform-F,” Louisa instructed, holding out her hand.

Kemal slapped a hypospray with the requested dosage into it and asked, “Doctor, what about ten cc’s of corophizine?”

“There are no initial signs of infection to prevent, Kemal,” the C.M.O. responded while monitoring the effect of the medication now in her patient’s bloodstream on the table’s scanners. “I don’t treat what isn’t there. Medication without a symptom to treat usually causes more harm than good,” she lectured her less experienced colleague. “We do need to prevent her system from absorbing these alien enzymes.”

Satisfied that there was no unexpected rejection of or allergic reaction to the masiform-F, Garland-Els ordered, “Help me take her uniform off.” She knew it was quicker to take the individual items off rather than cutting off the tough adaptive fabric. Kemal nodded and worked on her maroon top then rolled up her grey sciences under-jumper, while Louisa quickly tugged her boots off then slid her punctured trousers completely off her legs.

“Activate the surgical sterile field,” she ordered next. As she used the surgical table’s scanner to bring up an image of the eggs implanted in K’Nomi’s womb. “Number Five laser scalpel,” she stated next. As Kemal handed it to her, she thought, Let’s get these things out of you, Rozen!

*****

They’d covered barely ten metres before the massive flower they’d seen from base-camp exploded into motion. A very long, flexible green limb reached out, quick as lightning, and wrapped around the security chief herself to start dragging her back by the waist towards the plant’s main body. A spilt second of stunned inaction passed before half-a-dozen phaser beams intersected on the plant.

The heavy stun beams made no impression on the two-metre high flower. Sotok instructed loudly, “Cease fire! First and Third Sections, set phasers to level three and resume firing!”

Half the landing party hurriedly reset their phasers to kinetic impact/heat and fired again, taking careful aim past the struggling, upside-down form of their security chief as more limbs separated from the huge flower’s central stalk and attempted to hold her more securely in preparation for whatever its instincts demanded it do next. Huge sections of delicate-looking petals and thick stalk quickly crisped, blackened, and dropped off, bursting into flame. A particularly well-aimed shot from Petty Officer 2nd-class Mark DeYoung severed the limb holding Strøm-Erichsen and she dropped onto her neck in front of the plant. She flattened herself quickly to the ground and the landing party let rip, burning the entire flower to ashes.

“Chief, are you okay?!” DeYoung called out after he raced to her side under the phasers of the rest of the security detail.

“I’m fine, DeYoung,” she replied, rubbing her neck, though was obviously shaken. She allowed the beefy Ohio man to plant a shoulder in her armpit and all but haul her back to their comrades.

“Lieutenant Commander, are you functional?” Sotok asked quickly as two musical columns of sparkling blue energy resolved themselves into the returning Crewman Morales and newly arriving Petty Officer Hervé Morin.

“Aye Captain, just a bit winded,” she replied gaspingly. “That thing squeezed the air out my lungs, is all...”

“Crewmen DeYoung and Bouteflika, help the Commander. We must press on with all due speed.”

Anne-Grete’s protest died in her throat. Sotok was right; stupid pride should not be allowed to slow their progress to their other still-trapped shipmates. With a wry grimace, she accepted Mark and Abdelaziz’ strong shoulders as they propelled her faster through the forest.

The broad arrow of their formation reached Thia quickly, finding her curled up in a ball beside an egg-shaped plant which did not respond to their approach. Worryingly, neither did she. C.P.O. Susan Kiehl and Crewman 1st-Class Maria Ramirez rushed forward to help Thia up to her feet. DeYoung retrieved the young Andorian shen’s phaser and communicator and returned them to her. She stared at them numbly for a couple of seconds before reaching out to take them. Her hands mechanically accepted them, slowly attaching the communicator to her belt first while staring at the sleek phaser pistol resting on her open palm.

“Lieutenant sh’Fatehrin, you are safe now,” Sotok stated in his reassuring baritone, looking closely at her, “but we need to return you to the ship and continue rescuing our crew on the surface.”

Thia’s eyes snapped up from her phaser to meet his gaze, then around at her colleagues, then down again to the plant she had been found beside. With a sudden, startling shriek of incoherent rage, she slapped the phaser’s power setting up a notch and unleashed its dazzling ruby beam at the seemingly inoffensive egg-shaped plant.

No one made a move towards her; it would have been far too dangerous to try and make her stop firing. They all watched as the plant crisped and blackened, the extreme heat carbon-scoring its sealed shell until the beam blasted through, revealing the mass of tentacles it contained. They too crisped, blackened, and were set ablaze under her assault.

For six shocking seconds they watched and listened as she and her phaser screamed, until the entire egg-shaped plant was no more than ash.

Breathing like she had run the Academy marathon in record time, Thia slowly lowered her phaser.

“Lieutenant,” Sotok stated, his voice actually gentle.

She turned to face him, her phaser now held loosely in her left hand. Trying to regain control of her breathing, she replied shakily, “...aye, Sir.”

“Ramirez, stay with the Lieutenant and beam up with her,” Sotok instructed, still gazing reassuringly at the young officer.

“Aye-aye, Skipper!” the stout Mexican woman acknowledged anxiously.

“P-permission to join the r-rescue detail, Captain,” Thia requested, her voice and body shaky.

“Denied, Lieutenant. You need medical attention immediately,” Sotok told her in a tone that was shading from completely inflectionless to gentle again. “Now go.”

“Aye, Captain,” she sighed.

“Security Detail, form up!” he ordered next. “Ensigns MacAllen and Okeild’s communicators are along this line of advance. Continue in Alpha Six and move out, heading zero eight seven, two hundred metres.”

One less in number but one more in crew, the landing party double-timed it towards another trapped shipmate.

*****

Kayibanda slid the transporter’s three matter stream controllers all the way home and, through the blue-white glare of the forcefield emitters ringing the open side of the transporter stage, saw the delectable Maria Ramirez materialise, supporting Lieutenant Thia.

“Thirty seconds for decontamination,” he called, more for something he could say than to tell them something they both already knew.

Maria nodded, not saying anything back, but looked to Thia and murmured something he could not hear. The Rwandan shot another look at the grim-faced, tight-lipped David Turner on his left, standing silently but with smouldering eyes, gripping the stretcher with hands that clenched and unclenched subconsciously.

What in God’s Name is going on here? No one is speaking but they’re all enraged in a way I’ve not seen since... since the Organian Conflict!

The decontamination cycle completed and, after a final, thorough scan of the air and people on the transporter stage gave no warning flags, he deactivated the isolation forcefield. David was there in a flash to offer his shoulder but Maria waved him off. Thia made it to the anti-grav herself but gratefully lay down on it.

Then the small party all but ran the few steps it took to get to the turbolift station right outside the transporter rooms, leaving a tense and very puzzled Kayibanda in their wake.



Once in the privacy of the turbolift car, Turner – his voice carefully neutral – asked, “Lieutenant, what can you tell me about what happened to you?”

Maria’s eyes flicked up and locked with his, but even as it formed, her resentful, protective expression faded completely at the sight of the hot coals his black eyes so closely resembled.

In a wavering, quiet voice, Thia replied, “...plant captured me... held me in its tentacles... wouldn’t let me go...”

“Did it... bite or wound you?” David asked delicately. “Did any alien fluids or enzymes get into your system?”

Maria admired the medical technician’s tact, and realised he must have known what really happened to Lieutenant K’Nomi.

Thia managed a soft “...yes...” before the doors opened right outside Sickbay. Turner took them inside, straight to the diagnostic scanner room without pause, and instructed, “Ramirez, help me get her onto the table.”

She realised that lifting Thia across was going to be quicker than waiting for the still out-of-it Andorian to make the trip under her own power, and helped the medic do just that. She was pleased to see her injured superior being so expertly and compassionately cared for that she hadn’t had the opportunity to relay the captain’s order before it was already being carried out.

“Turner... thanks,” she told him, and meant it for Thia too. The Englishman gave her a look that could have been a wintry smile. “I’ve got to get back down there. Will she be okay?”

“She will, now,” he replied shortly. “Go, and bring the others back...”

He faltered, clearly wanting to say more but just as clearly not wanting to give voice to his fears. He shook it off. “Just... bring them all back.”

Maria nodded, touched despite herself at the depth of his feelings, and bolted back into the turbolift.



David was about to call for Doctor Garland-Els when she walked into the diagnostic scanner room and immediately asked, “What’s the situation, Turner?”

“Scanner’s making its first sweep now, Doctor, but Thia told me she’d been captured by a plant, held in its tentacles, and its fluids or enzymes got into her system. You can see the stuff on her face too.”

“She went through decontamination procedures?” Garland-Els asked sharply.

“Yes, Doctor. I watched the whole process myself,” he replied. “Whatever this stuff is, it’s been sterilised.”

“Good, and bad; if some of it has got into her system it’ll be harder to isolate it. Take a sample for analysis.”

Turner grabbed a specimen sample lifter and secured a fair-sized segment by basically peeling it off the Andorian shen’s face; it came off in a big slab which cracked at her ear.

The still-dazed Thia flinched at the sound and weakly raised a hand to fend off the med tech.

“Don’t worry Lieutenant, we’ll clean all this off of you shortly,” Louisa soothed, then asked, “Can you tell us what happened?”

Thia’s mouth moved but no sound came out. She looked up at them helplessly.

“It’s okay, don’t speak. You rest and we’ll take care of you, okay?” Louisa told her in her best bedside manner.

The young security officer nodded and relaxed against the scanner bed, closing her eyes to the outside world.

Garland-Els and Turner exchanged a glance before assessing the diagnostic readout. It showed a horror story of its own with foreign enzymes in her mouth and reproductive canal, foreign living biomatter in her womb and inert biomatter on her face and between her legs. The heavy bruising around her wrists, upper arms, thighs, and neck all indicated being held under heavy restraint, her almost-strangulation further attested to by trauma to the dermal neck tissue, and forced intercourse – a given – from trauma to her reproductive canal.

Louisa felt herself growing enraged. What the hell kind of place is this planet? At least two wildly disparate species reproduce by rape! she thought in disbelief and outrage.

Davis was having similar thoughts. How does a plant even reproduce like this? It’s insane!

Louisa hit her wrist-comm. “Kemal! How is K’Nomi’s system responding to the hydroxaline?

“No adverse or allergic reactions observed as yet, Doctor,” the head nurse replied over the intercom. “It’s breaking down the foreign enzymes slowly but steadily. They’ll be completely inert inside another fifteen minutes at this rate.”

“Good. Any negative reactions to the surgery?”

“None,” was his brief, succinct reply.

As expected. It was a very simple procedure. Cut her open, remove the eggs, seal her back up again, save the eggs for later study, she recapped. “Thank you, Kemal. Now please prep a large batch of hydroxaline; make it five litres. I think we’re going to need a lot more of it. Also, start another batch of masiform-F, and I think half a litre should suffice here. Before you do though, bring in forty cc’s of hydroxaline and ten of masiform-F.”

“Yes, Doctor. I’ll be right there.”

She turned to face David. “You’d better get back to the transporter rooms. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of these cases today.”

Turner’s face and tone mirrored her own. “Yes Doctor. I just hope this is as bad as it’ll get, because this is more than bad enough.”

Louisa nodded. “Agreed, and you and me both, David. Now go.”

He nodded and, grabbing the anti-grav stretcher, was gone.

Kemal came in seconds later with two hyposprays and a large container. “You did say forty cc’s of hydroxaline, didn’t you, Doctor?” the Turkish man asked by way of greeting.

“I did indeed. I think we may need that much to break down and flush out that much foreign matter,” she replied, gesturing to the composite diagnostic scanner image as she administered the first shot.

“My God...!” Kemal exclaimed in shock. “There’s got to be at least a litre in there!”

“Easily,” she agreed, noting no reaction from their technically conscious patient to their discussion or the medication administered. “The enzymes Thia has been exposed to are completely different from those K’Nomi has in her system. These are plant-based, not insectoid. I want to see if the hydroxaline will do as well here.”

“That’s why you went for the lesser-affected area first?” Kemal queried.

Louisa nodded. “Pumping her full of meds is a risk all on its own...” She trailed off, reconsidering. “Scratch that. There is so much biomatter in there that it now seems to me the best way to deal with it is direct removal. Transfer her to the O.R. and prep her for surgery.”

“Yes, Doctor.”

Louisa tapped her wrist-comm. as Kemal went for another anti-grav gurney. “C.M.O. Garland-Els to all medical staff: I am declaring a Medical Alert. All medical staff report to Sickbay immediately. I say again: Medical Alert, all medical staff report to Sickbay immediately for active duty. Garland-Els, out.”

Kemal returned and they both lifted the unresponsive Andorian shen onto the gurney and transferred her through to the surgery unit. There, they transferred the still recovering K’Nomi onto their third and final gurney and Thia onto the surgical bed. Louisa occupied herself with setting up the surgical bridge while Kemal took the Caitian comms officer through to I.C.U.

Her mind and hands automatically activated the sterile field, made the small incision through Thia’s skin, parted the delicate internal flesh and moved aside organs, and finally breached her uterus. Feeding in a sterilised tube, guided by the scanner’s real-time imagery, she gently slid it into the liquid mass of alien biomatter and applied suction.

Doctor th’Merrin, Nurse Farber and Medical Technician Baweja entered Sickbay at that point and she could hear Kemal brief them in. Thank God for Mr. Yaviz, she blessed her capable and dependable head nurse. Now that we know what’s coming, we’ll be prepared.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 12:52:11 pm by Scottish Andy »
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Offline Grim Reaper

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #33 on: July 25, 2012, 03:38:08 am »
I can get the sexual assault validity, but 2 different lifeforms and all the women? Seems a bit overkill to me. Plus if it's only one or two, or even one and half (rescued at the last second) you get much more emotional angles to work out imho. still I'm not leaving this one alone not yet...
Snickers@DND: If there is one straight answer in that bent little head of yours, you'd better start spillin' it pretty damn quick, or I'm gonna take a large, blunt object, roughly the size of Kallae AND his hat and shove it lengthwise up a crevice of your being so seldomly cleaned that even the denizens of the nine hells would not touch it with a 10-feet rusty pole

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Re: Falklands: Quarantine - Chapter Nine
« Reply #34 on: July 26, 2012, 10:45:17 pm »
Q, Guv, Larry. Thanks for the replies and the reviews. Honest feedback is the best feedback. I have reasons for including what I have in the previous chapter which I will give once the story is ended -- but that isn't for a while yet.

I do have to cynically chuckle at the reactions a little though. I am reminded of Kyle's mum in 'South Park - Bigger, Longer, & Uncut' (and paraphrasing here):
"Deplorable violence is okay, as long as you don't have a potty mouth!"  :D

I thought the Guv's Endeavour story where Ben pulverises Commodore Shilloah was pretty horrible. Which he then topped with the Endeavour story about the entity which makes the crew start mutilating themselves and killing each other. That's not a dig, Roge, just an observation. :)

Why is it is okay to show the most spectacularly gruesome and gory injuries and deaths possible, yet get so shy around and scared of sexual assault? If onwe is okay, why not the other?
That's a massive can of worms for another time though. ;)

Mind you, my reaction was not critisism. Unlike Larry, who for some reason wants horror movies to be well thought out and explainable, I quite enjoyed the scenes. I was so shocked they came from YOU, that it made it 1000 times more enjoyably abhorrent. Well done, my friend. You shocked me. This is not easy.

I am not able to write about sexual assault, myself. There is actually a part of me that cringes at the thought of sitting there, writing one. It ain't the scene or what's going on. It's the simple fact that I'm writing it. I can write about attempted rape, or have an investigating character deal with the aftermath...but some part of me will not allow me to write it.

Anyway, I do not feel that the story is damaged. In fact, it's more readable to me now that something off the wall HAS occured. I have yet to read your most recent post, and am crunched for time tonight. Will read tomorrow if time.

--guv!
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline Scottish Andy

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #35 on: August 02, 2012, 08:37:02 am »
No other comments on the beginning of the rescue?
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Mickey: "Wot's that?"
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Offline Captain Sharp

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #36 on: August 07, 2012, 10:52:03 pm »
First, two 'critiques':

1) No f'ing way their phasers should have been set for stun.

2) Medical Alert should have been called from the get-go.

What I liked:

The Captain's reactions. Very atypical of the 'normal' Vulcan-writer. Too many authors dehumanize them too much. Also liked that the bridge crew got their stereotypical expectations of the captain turned over on them.

Liked the Andorian's reaction upon seeing the plant once her hand had a phaser in it.

Very much liked the crew's at-once reactions, and the detail that one officer was stunned (or perhaps likes tentacle-porn too much) and hesitated.

Question:

So, your transporters cycle like the photons? There are plenty of instances to the contrary in all versions of Trek.

--guv
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline Scottish Andy

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #37 on: August 09, 2012, 03:46:42 pm »
Thanks Guv :)

Agreed on both critiques, especially the medical alert one.

I really enjoy writing Commander Sotok. He's a "Human" Vulcan. It's not that he's part Human, it is just that even as a Vulcan who eschews emotions, he understands that all other species don't suppress them and barely control them. He is not going to insist everyone matches his standards of emotionalism, and honestly I believe that as the captain  of a crew of many disparate species, this would have to be a necessary trait for a Starfleet commanding officer.

I liked writing Thia's rescue. It was very gratifying, felt real and true.

This is effectively the whole point of the story. True reactions to deep emotional trauma, by different people undergoing or discovering different things. People on screen just shrug off physical injuries and some things you'd think would have psychological impact. DS9 was a good series for showing people having trouble coping. Nog with his leg, the Vulcan going on a sniper shooting spree, etc.

Yes, all my ships' systems cycle in an SFC fashion. Transporters, weapons, etc. I'm not sure about on-screen evidence of that -- though just saying that STIII's Kirk&Co.-beam-off-Klingons-beam-on comes into mind, but... oh well. I thought it added dramatic tension and limits to overcome as well as adhering to a rule, as opposed to making it up as you go along and having super-capable systems that rescue you when you don't want to spend ages writing a tighter story because of a script deadline.

More tomorrow. And Larry, this is the bit you may want to consider reading. :)
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 04:07:50 pm by Scottish Andy »
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The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

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Offline Lieutenant_Q

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Re: Falklands: Episode One - Quarantine
« Reply #38 on: August 10, 2012, 11:15:00 pm »
I am confused more than anything at the moment.  Wondering just what purpose this mystery fluid seems to serve.  The Captain's reaction was, of course, logical.

As for the Transporters, it's just fine.  STIII was Kirk and Co. beaming off through their transporter, and the Klingons coming on from their transporter.  Two separate transporters were in use.  Far too often I've noticed that writers tend to cut corners for the sake of the story.  Yes the story is important, but so is the technology.  Consistency should be maintained, so that everyone (including future writers) know what it can and can't do.
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

Offline Scottish Andy

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Falklands: Quarantine - Chapter Ten
« Reply #39 on: August 20, 2012, 01:27:55 pm »
In the immortal words of Pete Tong, "We continue."




Chapter Ten



They’d barely moved another ten metres towards Skora’s location when another egg-shaped plant split down four equidistant seams and a writhing mass of tentacles ensnared Susan Kiehl.

Verdammt!” she snarled, gripping a slimy limb and holding it off by main strength alone. She couldn’t prevent the other two tentacles dragging her away from her team.

Crewman Mickiewicz’ quick reflexes and sure aim severed all three tentacles before she’d been pulled more than two metres, and the New Yorker followed it up with a brief burst to the main body of the plant that reduced it to a blackened shell.

Danke, Jerry!” Kiehl pushed out as the crewman hauled her to her feet.

“Welcome, Chief,” he replied briefly but with a grin.

On the other side of their party Hervé Morin was likewise being pulled to his feet by Thoron. “Merci, mon ami,” the lanky Frenchman told his rescuer, looking back at the blackened shell of another egg-shaped plant.

The no-nonsense Andorian merely nodded curtly and continually swept the foliage around them with his senses. Morin fell in beside him and did likewise.

It seemed like the massive flower which had almost captured their security chief demarcated a boundary between the relative safety of the base-camp from the wild depths of the forest proper, as attacks from hyper-metabolised plants now came as thick and fast as their warm body–seeking tentacles.

At their head, Anne-Grete stated, “Sir, we’re getting nowhere fast. We need to start burning these things down as soon as we see them, instead of waiting to be attacked.”

Sotok considered that for all of half-a-second. “Agreed, Commander. Issue the order.”

She nodded and turned to her people. “Security detail! Don’t wait to be attacked. If you see any type of plants which has already made a grab for us, burn it down immediately. Formation Alpha-Six, watch your sectors and your crewmates. We need to get to our captive shipmates so we’re going through, fast and hard. Let’s do it!”

Her crew obviously approved of this course of action as the response was an enthusiastic and loud “MA’AM, YES MA’AM!!”

The rest of the hundred and ninety metres to Skora’s location was a nightmare of lunging and streaking green flesh, the scream of phasers, close calls, and arrested grabs that would live in the memories of all on that landing party for a very long time.

“It’s like the entire forest is coming alive and coming after us!” Evo Morales shouted over the massed phaser fire, burning out another egg-shaped snare plant to a crisped and blackened husk.

“I know!” Mark DeYoung shouted back, not taking his eyes off the foliage around them. “I must have burned out a half-dozen of these things alone!”

Almost as soon as the words were spoken the Starfleet party broke into a wide meadow of knee-high grass bordered and thickly dotted with massive trees throughout. Their triple-tiered canopies still spread close enough to each other to present only a few glimmers of blue sky over a hundred metres above them. The going was much easier this time and their path seemed completely clear of the “egg-snare” plants, but the sustained assault on them since beaming down had left the Starfleet party suspicious and untrusting of its apparent lack of danger.

“I wonder why none of those damn plants are here?” Morin thought aloud, eyes scanning the forest around them and phaser pistol at the ready just as Maria beamed back down a few metres behind them. “They were practically everywhere only seconds ago!”

“In all natural ecologies, there are usually self-designated territories or hunting zones for different types of wildlife and predators.” Sotok replied, his sharp Vulcan hearing easily picking out his crewman’s question despite the clamour of the forest around them.

“So that likely means a different sort of—”

Strøm-Erichsen’s comment was cut short as a loud screeching and chattering was heard from high above them in the tree canopy.

“Stand ready!” she shouted. “Watch your sectors!”

Barely glimpsed, swinging from tree to tree, were humanoid-sized primates moving with incredible speed through the lower branches some sixty metres above them. The primates took no notice of them and were gone in a matter of seconds, but before any of the team could comment on them a loud and angry-sounding buzzing was heard from the direction the primates had come from.

“Formation Phi-Three, now!” the security commander barked. The detail formed a compact square with everyone facing the threat axis, the two command officers in the centre, and the front rank crouching low. They just had time to secure the formation when a swarm of ten of the massive insects that had grabbed Lieutenant K’Nomi hove into view. They immediately changed direction and zeroed in on the Starfleet contingent.

“Take ‘em down!” Anne-Grete bellowed over the racket, and twelve scarlet beams reached out like a primitive laser anti-missile battery towards the incoming swarm.

The impact of both heavy stun and kinetic impact/heat beams blasted the first rank of three out the air. Two of the second rank smacked dead on into the back of their hive mates as the kinetic impact arrested their flight unexpectedly, but beyond being knocked out of formation and bouncing off a tree or two, they seemed unharmed and rejoined the end of the formation.

All that took barely five seconds during which time the swarm covered fifty metres, but the Starfleet Security detail had not remained idle. Even as the first rank dropped – stunned and badly hurt – to plough short furrows in the rich soil, the second rank were getting the same warm welcome. Three more of the massive insects fell to gouge short furrows in the earth, but then the last two ranks of two made their final run.

There was no time for further orders, but the mutually supporting formation did its thing. Three phaser beams intersected each remaining target, stunning their autonomous systems and punching holes in their carapaces to instantly cook the soft flesh beneath.

The last four insects were blasted from the sky, their bodies tumbling to the ground, their momentum carrying them right up to and almost into the Starfleet formation.

Anne-Grete scanned the vicinity to check for more attackers but none presented themselves. “Clear!” she called out, still not taking her eyes off the forest around her.

This call was echoed from all her team – she’d counted – but she still ordered, “Sound off!”

“Solok.”

“N’Koor.”

“Kiehl.”

“Ranox.”

“Mickiewicz.”

“Morin.”

“Bouteflika.”

“Thoron.”

“Ramirez.”

“DeYoung.”

“Morales.”

“Sotok.”

Anne-Grete blinked at her captain including himself in the roster but decided it was only logical for him to do so. “Looks like we all made it through this one unharmed then. Captain?” she enquired.

“Lead on, Commander. You know the direction we must take,” Sotok replied, unfazed.

“Okay people, you heard the captain. Let’s keep moving!”

As they forged onwards to their captive crewmates, Anne-Grete felt highly gratified by both her team’s performance and her captain’s confidence in her. Sotok apparently understood and appreciated that a security chief’s job description included being the captain’s personal bodyguard and was smart enough to realise that leading blindly from the front on this planet was a good way to become quickly dead, not to mention putting the lives of his security detail at risk with such reckless behaviour. It was a measure of Sotok’s faith in her abilities that he allowed her to do her job, and a measure of his character in not allowing foolish bravado to endanger himself and everyone around him. That he was down here at all, never mind actually leading the rescue effort, spoke to his bravery and concern for his crew.

They burst into another small clearing without further incident; it seemed that the giant insects were top dog for this area. The reason for the clearing became apparent as another massive lily dominated the area.

“Ensign Okeild’s communicator should be within a metre of that flower,” Petty Officer Ranox stated gruffly, waving his tricorder about. “Ten metres bearing three-five-seven.”

That she wasn’t in sight needed no pointing out. Chief Petty Officer N’Koor activated his tricorder and scanned for life-signs as the rest of the team visually scanned the area with suspicious, hostile eyes.

“There’s too much interference,” the big Caitian announced disgustedly. “There’s just so much alive around here, and with the kelbonite permeating the biosphere…” He trailed off, but not in the tone of disgust and frustration Sotok had expected. This was confirmed moments later when the chief added, “Faint indications of a humanoid life-form, rough bearing of two-eight-one to two-nine-seven. Range indeterminate.”

“This plant most probably captured Ensign Okeild. I want it isolated for study and have so annotated our tricorder maps,” Sotok stated. He then ordered, “Specialist Mickiewicz, retrieve the ensign’s communicator. We shall cover you.”

A hyper-alert security detail watched the flower, ready for the slightest blur of green flesh heading to their crewmember as Jerry fetched Skora’s comm unit. The wait proved anti-climactic as the giant lily remained unmoving, and Jerry returned to them bearing Skora’s communicator. Relieved grins were exchanged then they all pressed on in search of its owner.

“Tricorders on maximum sensitivity, narrow band scan,” Sotok ordered. “Note that this direction takes us toward Ensign MacAllen’s communicator signal. It is possible that Ensign Okeild managed to free herself and attempted to rescue Ensign MacAllen. Form a skirmish line, double ranks, and advance!”

The detail hurriedly reorganised itself as ordered and advanced quickly through the omnipresent knee-high grass. Suddenly the screee! of a phaser broke over the background forest noise, joined by a second. Eyes whipped around to see the shell of an egg-snare disintegrating into ash.

It’s a damn good thing this forest is so humid and damp, Anne-Grete thought with a small burst of apprehension. Otherwise we’d not be able to burn down all these attacking plants without igniting the whole forest along with them.

“More on the right!” Morin called out, and three more phasers screamed.

“Looks like we’re past giant flying bug territory,” Mickiewicz commented with grim humour, letting fly a beam from his own weapon.

“CEASE FIRE!” N’Koor bellowed. The Security detail fell into a tense silence, assuming a back-to-back stance to monitor all avenues of approach toward their party.

“Report, Chief N’Koor,” Sotok ordered dispassionately.

Concentrating on his tricorder readings, N’Koor replied distractedly. “Detecting definite humanoid life-signs, Captain. Bearing…” There was an expectant pause as the Caitian N.C.O. tried to refine his readings. “Bearing one-three-four true. Range seems to be… around fifteen metres.”

“Ensign Okeild!” Ranox bellowed. “Can you hear me?!”

Had she been conscious and within fifty metres she’d have heard that. Sotok and Strøm-Erichsen exchanged a glance. “Security Detail, be extremely cautious. Our crew member seems to be incapacitated and probably lying hidden in the long grass.” Sotok advised.

“Detail, check your fire!” Strøm-Erichsen ordered briskly. “Pick your targets very carefully. Tricorder readings are unreliable at present, so verify your target is clear of friendly personnel. Advance slowly, everyone reset phasers to kinetic/heat and pair off. Watch your partners’ backs. Move out!”

The detail advanced carefully. Occasionally a phaser pair would fire, but the fifteen metres passed quickly enough, and became twenty, then twenty-five—”

“Captain, Commander! I’ve found her!” Hervé Morin’s distinctive French accent came through the forest clamour.

“Keep talking, Petty Officer!” Strøm-Erichsen ordered. “Let us zero in on you!”

“She’s asleep or unconscious, and she’s beside another one of these egg-snare plants, but it’s not reacting to my presence – just like the one that was near Lieutenant Thia,” Hervé began, hearing his crewmates crashing through the thick undergrowth towards him. “I want to pull her away from it anyway, but if I do and it makes a lunge for either of us I’ll not be able to—”

“That’s enough, P.O., we see you,” Strøm-Erichsen interrupted, coming through the foliage behind him. “We can cover you now— Ramirez, help him pull Okeild away from the egg-snare!” she ordered on seeing the Mexican woman break through herself on the opposite side of the plant from them.

“Aye, Ma’am!” the stocky security officer acknowledged and darted in to rescue another crewmate.

“Commander, this plant is behaving atypically,” Sotok noted. “Isolate it for later study and ensure no one destroys it. I have already logged its location in our tricorder maps and annotated with ‘approach with caution’.”

“Understood, Sir,” she replied. Checking the clearing they found themselves in, she mentally tallied the presence of all her guards before announcing, “Captain’s orders: do not damage the egg-snare we found Ensign Okeild beside; it will be examined by the science team.”

Sotok nodded, then addressed Hervé and Maria. “Specialist Bouteflika, beam up with the ensign and ensure Sickbay has her in their care before returning to us. Answer any questions they have about the nature of the assault, and recall that decontamination protocols are in effect for yourself before you leave the transporter pad.”

“Understood, Captain!” he replied and flipped out his communicator. He and his charge dematerialised seconds later.

“Detail, formation Alpha-Six!” Strøm-Erichsen ordered. “Heading one-four-seven to Ensign MacAllen’s last known position, range one hundred and seventy-four metres. Move out!”

The broad arrowhead-and-shaft or their formation again plunged into the thick forest, dodging the lightning attacks and burning down dozens more of the apparently ubiquitous egg-snares.

*****

Again Jelani activated the transporter and again a female officer materialised, supported by a security specialist. This time it was the very young- and cutesy-looking Skora Okeild curled up on the floor with Abdelaziz crouching beside her. Even behind the blue-white forcefield curtain Jelani could see the inexperienced Algerian security specialist’s expressive face working between concern and outraged fury.

“Decontamination sweep will finish in thirty seconds,” he called out again, taking a sidelong glance at David Turner. The stolid, proper Englishman’s stiff-backed anger and all the protectiveness shown to the so far female-only casualties clinched it for Kayibanda. Sexual assault, maybe even actual rape, the Rwandan pieced it together, feeling his own sense of horror and anger begin to rise. But what can it be down there that’s doing it? My scanners aren’t detecting intelligent life… he puzzled it out as the decontamination sequence continued.

“Damnit Chief, can’t you make this go any faster?” Turner blurted out with angry frustration.

Casting a stern glance at the crewman, Kayibanda shot back, “You know damn well this is a procedure that must not be rushed or abbreviated. Ten more seconds,” he added more understandingly, seeing Turner’s white knuckles flexing around the anti-grav gurney’s handles.

The Med tech didn’t answer or even look at his superior N.C.O., keeping his attention fixed on the still unconscious Daenaii on the transporter pad.

Finally the sequence completed. Jelani was satisfied with the results of his final sweep and lowered the forcefield. David all but leapt into action, storming the transporter platform and lowering the stretcher to the deck. He and Abdelaziz lifted Okeild onto it, floated it back up to its usual one-metre height off the deck, and they bolted from the room, all within ten seconds.

They are definitely not messing about, are they? Jelani noted approvingly. But why are they being rescued one at a time? Wouldn’t it have been better to beam down directly to their communicator signals, in teams of three? Wouldn’t that have rescued more people more quickly? What is the captain thinking?

Only three crew members had been beamed aboard so far, all inside six minutes. Jelani now expected more and ran a quick diagnostic of his system even as he reset the controls. He completed it quickly and it returned no issues. He considered performing a more thorough diagnostic, but dismissed the idea. There’s nothing wrong with the system and starting even a Level Four will affect performance. It’s not worth risking it; I could be called on at any—

“Kiehl to Falklands, two for immediate beam up, my co-ordinates!”

Punching the com, Jelani answered immediately. “Locking onto you now, Chief Kiehl.”

And here we go again.

*****

“Barry, how’s Thia responding to the masiform and the hydroxaline?” Louisa asked over her open wrist-comm channel as he placed her hands in the sterile field.

“The masiform-F is doing the trick for her, Doctor, and the hydroxaline is breaking down the foreign biomatter, though at a slower rate,” the Beta shift nurse responded, his nasal New York accent sounding distinctly even over the ‘com system.

Louisa nodded absently even though he couldn’t see her and approached the surgical table where Skora awaited her. “Keep an eye on her, Barry. That could indicate the onset of an allergic reaction.”

“Yes Doctor,” he replied, sounding slightly annoyed.

Louisa felt embarrassed. Your people know their jobs; don’t micromanage! “Let me know if any symptoms develop,” she instructed anyway. “I’m about to start surgery on Ensign Okeild.”

“Understood, Doctor,” the nurse responded more normally.

Louisa looked at the equipment bridge’s scanner readouts. The masiform-E that Turner had administered to the Daenaii seemed to be “doing the trick” for her copper-based blood, which left her feeling relieved. Performing another incision with her trusty laser scalpel, Garland-Els again parted skin and flesh before carefully manoeuvring her way around the Daenaii scientist’s abdominal cavity. Gently pushing and holding apart the young female’s intestines with nanometrically precise miniature tractor beams and forcefields emitting from the surgical bridge, she finally reached the wall of her womb. Another exceedingly careful incision was performed and then Louisa guided a sterilised suction tube down the channel the she’d created, through the cut in her womb wall, and into the liquid mass of foreign biomatter. Anchoring that in place with more tractor/pressor fields, Garland-Els applied gentle suction. The hollow, transparent tube filled with a thick, vibrant yellow-green fluid as it was drained from Skora’s body.

Okay, that’s the big one. The best way to get the rest out of her body would be a simple suction tube into the affected areas, followed by a douche, and finally a smaller dose of hydroxaline to take care of whatever’s left.

*****

The rescue party reached the locale of Ensign MacAllen’s communicator in short order, going through a forest alive with lunging green flesh like a diamond-tipped buzz-saw cutting through sheet metal – fast, noisy, and messy.

This time they had no trouble finding their missing crewmate. Before they had time to recognise the unmoving maroon-and-black form of the young officer their attention was immediately demanded by the massive creature that was in the process of hauling its bulk onto the huge, rough-textured bole of a nearby tree.

Their hesitation was momentary and Strøm-Erichsen barked, “Formation Omega-Three, centred on the Ensign!”

As the security detail deployed around the insensate Scot, Sotok and Anne-Grete stared warily at the slow-moving behemoth, which had by now succeeded in getting two-thirds of its length vertical and anchored to the five-metre diameter tree trunk.

“It doesn’t look like a threat,” Strøm-Erichsen stated dubiously, her phaser pistol never wandering far from pointing directly at it.

Sotok took a quick but thorough assessment of the vicinity as their field medic ran a tricorder over MacAllen. “Perhaps it is not at this moment, Commander,” he commented, “but something rendered Ensign MacAllen unconscious. There are no plants of sufficient biomass within the clearing, and that depression of crushed grass and packed earth next to her suggests that this creature was a threat to the ensign while she was conscious.”

Anne-Grete narrowed her eyes at the giant caterpillar as it continued its upward progress, then risked a glance to MacAllen’s position. Confirming her C.O.’s observations she then asked, “Should we neutralise it, Captain?”

“Captain! Commander!” C.P.O. Kiehl called out to them both. “Ensign MacAllen is waking up.”

They moved within the expanded protective cordon of security guards to kneel beside her as she groggily sat up.

“C-Captain!” she choked out. It was all she could manage before rolling off her left elbow onto all fours and retching weakly. Before anyone could say anything, Susan had reloaded her hypospray and shot her with something.

“Just breathe, Sir. That should help with the nausea,” the older woman told her young charge. “Sir, we need to get her back up to the ship,” Kiehl stated next in her best no-nonsense Bavarian sergeant-major’s voice.

“Accompany the Ensign, Chief,” Sotok ordered immediately. “Brief in the Sickbay personnel and return to the planet as quickly as possible.”

Jawhol!” she snapped off and flipped open her communicator.

As the chief spoke to the ship, Anne-Grete indicated the massive caterpillar-analogue. “And this thing, Sir?”

Sotok’s cold, calculating gaze assessed the now wholly upright beast. “Leave it. We have others who require our assistance.” Addressing Chief N’Koor, he ordered, “Direct us to Petty Officer Surek.”

The big Caitian poked at his tricorder. “Heading… one-zero-four, distance… six hundred and ninety-two metres.”

*****

The imaging scanner showed the main mass was three-quarters drained from Skora’s stomach when a new page came over the intercom.

“Sickbay, this is Transporter Room One. Ensign MacAllen has been beamed aboard and is in decontamination. En route to you in thirty-five seconds.”

“Doctor th’Merrin, acknowledge them and take care of MacAllen when she arrives,” Louisa called into her open ‘com channel.

“Yes Doctor,” her fellow surgeon and junior officer replied.

Louisa returned her attention to her own patient, feeling impatient at having to wait to perform the next steps of her treatment.


David Turner again tried to bury his rage at seeing another respected and well-liked crewmate beamed up in a violated condition. Sticky, partially dried foreign biomatter encrusted the pretty young blonde’s face, neck, and hands.

Christine was conscious but weak and perhaps still dazed. She avoided looking at anyone in their eyes, though, and gratefully accepted the opportunity to lie down and close her eyes on the stretcher.

Attempting to hold onto his bedside manner, David quickly scanned her with his medical tricorder and listened to Susan Kiehl tell him what emergency medication she’d already administered. Her simple anti-nausea shot would not interfere with Garland-Els’ hastily proscribed initial treatment, so he gave her a shot of masiform-D for her iron-based blood as the turbolift sped to Sickbay. Kiehl filled him on the remaining pertinent details and remained in the turbolift which whisked her back to the transporter rooms while he briefed in Doctor th’Merrin.

The now-familiar pattern repeated itself and an unresponsive, inward-focussed female officer was transferred to the diagnostic scanner bed. Doctor th’Merrin gave up trying to question her but continued his examination as if briefing her in on her condition.

“Do not worry, Christine, you are in good hands now and we’ll have you back on your feet soon enough. Hmm, looks like some unpleasant dermal bruising around the throat, wrists, ankles, and torso, but no cracked or fractured bones so that’s fortunate. Foreign biomatter – now inert – on your face, thighs—”

Shut up!!!” Christine suddenly screamed at him, startling both men. “Shut up shut up shut up!! Jist shut up ye blitherin’ ejit! Are ye mad? D’ye think Ah want tae hear this… this… catalogue o’ mah violations? Is it no’ bad enough that Ah went through it already in person that ye’ve got tae read it oot fur aw th’ wurld tae hear?!” she continued in anguished tones tinged with growing anger.

“Christine…” David tried but was instantly interrupted.

“Dinnae you ‘Christine’ me! I—”

“Ensign MacAllen!” th’Merrin boomed, startling the Humans into silence; neither had known the Andorian to ever raise his voice.

Locking eyes with the distressed Scot, Kurojar continued more normally. “You must face what happened to you. If you hide from it, try to ignore it, it will always be there, waiting for you. Face it now and be stronger for it,” he advised her with brutal honesty.

Christine’s eyes went wide and her already pale complexion lost more colour. “But whit happened tae me—whit wiz done tae me—” she began.

Th’Merrin interrupted again. “There is no shame in what happened to you. You were attacked in the performance of your duties, held prisoner, then were rescued by your shipmates. Would you prefer that you were partially digested or killed?” the doctor asked with the same brutal directness.

Christine’s eyes went wide again but this time in disbelieving shock as she stared at th’Merrin. David wanted to drag the idiot doctor aside and smack him silly for his insensitivity. Unable to do that without being thrown in the brig, he instead burst out, “Doctor, are you nuts?! Stop this! Hasn’t the poor girl been through enough—”

“WHAT?!” Christine yelled, this time making only David flinch. Kurojar had been observing her and watched her face darken. “Whit did ye jist say, Med Tech Turner?” she continued in a suddenly low and dangerous voice.

David was caught completely flat-footed. Head wobbling between a suddenly impassive Doctor th’Merrin and a now seemingly incensed Christine MacAllen, his impassioned defence of the latter to the former floundered. “Chris—ah, Ensign, I was defending—”

“’Defendin’, mah arse!” she returned hotly, leaning up on one elbow. “’Th’ poor girl’ is whit ye called me, Mr. Turner. Is that how ye see me? Some poor wee defenceless lassie hurt by the big scary monster? How dare ye—”

“Ensign!” Kurojar interrupted again, though it had nothing to do with David’s now ashen-faced look of baffled guilt. “How can Mr. Turner be faulted for that when you play the part so well?”

“Ah wiz bluidy-well no’ playin’ ah part, ye—!”

“Ensign, I suggest you stop there,” Kurojar quickly interrupted yet again. “I am not suggesting you are falsifying anything. I am saying that the way you are reacting to your very real encounter is evoking these protective feelings and reactions from those around you. My question to you is: is this the way you want to be seen and treated by your friends and shipmates?” he asked with inquisitively narrowed eyes.

That pinned her ears back, David saw, and in it – and his own reactions – he perhaps saw a deliberate strategy on th’Merrin’s part to provoke exactly this result. Turner regarded the middle-aged Andorian thaan with new respect. If I’m right, that was some very astute application of Human psychological knowledge. And if I’m not, it’s one hell of a lucky shot in the dark!

Christine stared at them both while her mind churned away, trying to catch up to where the doctor had led them.

He’s so easily dismissing what happened to me! No way he’d be doing that if it happened to him! one side of her railed.

Perspective! another side of her countered. Would I rather have been badly injured, maimed, or killed – as happens to so many other landing party members I hear about?

Physical wounds are easier to recover from! yet another side chimed in. Other people won’t let me forget this episode, once they find out about it, it’ll be shameful and embarrassing and held over me for the rest of my life!

How will it do that then? the first “voice” asked pointedly. It only has the power over me that I give it. And if I decide not to be ashamed by this, it has no power over me!

Easier said than done! How can I just suddenly not be ashamed of this? voice three nay-said.

Worth a try! chimed in voice two. Or, do you really want people thinking you’d be happier and less damaged if that big caterpillar had bitten your legs off instead? How pathetic does that look?

Both males noticed the change instantly when it happened. The eyes Christine MacAllen’s refocused on Doctor th’Merrin and were bright and clear and her gaze steady. She even seemed to lie straighter, propped up on her left elbow. “Okay Doc. Lay it out for me: what ails me and what you’ll do to cure it.”

Kurojar smiled slightly, his gaze and smile impressed and approving. “What ‘ails’ you, beyond that already described, is mainly dermal bruising and tearing of the assaulted areas and a large amount of foreign biomatter in your stomach and uterus. This biomatter does not match up to what’s already been recorded from your previously rescued crewmates so it is something new again,” th’Merrin told her, occasionally flicking his ice-blue eyes up to the diagnostic scanner readout as he spoke. “Can you tell us what happened to you?”

David felt distinct shock as Christine readily answered. While not going into graphic detail she was still remarkably candid and specific, and Turner couldn’t quite wrap his head around her amazing about-face.

No doubt about it, he thought with no little awe and respect, this is one strong gir—woman. I hope she manages to hold onto her new courage and make it stick. And I wonder if her compatriots will be able to deal so well with their experiences?
« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 01:41:08 pm by Scottish Andy »
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The Senior Service rocks! Rule, Britannia!

The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

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