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Almost There

Posted on Mon Aug 28th, 2017 @ 12:31am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant JG Jackson Smith & Ensign Soto Gantt & Ensign Luka Stern & HALP

Mission: Echoes of the Dominion
Location: Airlock 12
Timeline: 30 March, 2394 - 1400 Hours

[ON]

Airlock 12 was white, sterile, and empty. Jackson got his feet under him and sprang forward, only to discover the inner airlock door was still locked. He checked on Luka and Gantt--they were battered, but nothing looked too serious. "Hey that wasn't too bad, right?" He tried a smile. His words echoed in the small space.

On her knees, Luka pursed her lips and emphatically shook her head. No no no. "Let's never do that again." She ripped a pocket from her jacket with her good hand and bound up the finger with the torn nail, rising slowly and shakily to her feet. The harsh airlock lighting picked up the blood on her chin and lapels--she'd either bitten her tongue or the finger had made a mess.

Gantt steadied her by the elbow, and they felt the ship go into warp. A screeching, rending sound from the external hatch was followed by a clunk. Through the thick glass, they watched the Latinium Lady disappear into the warp vortex.

Jackson cringed. "Zulg is not going to like that."

Luka grimaced, the promise Jackson made Zulg heavy on her mind. Zulg was not likely to allow that opportunity by without taking maximum advantage. She hoped Jackson didn't end up working on a mining planet after all was said and done.

Jackson checked the placement of something concealed under his coat, his face serious. "While I think you were right on the ship, Luka, Fantome doesn't want to harm anyone, it is hard to know how he will act when backed into a corner. And we are going to back him into a corner." He checked the device on his wrist. "Make sure to never take these off; he is extremely good with the transporter. Given the chance, you will end up in the brig for sure."

"These things interfere with the transporter lock, right?" Luka examined the blinking green light on her wrist. What else might Fantome do? What had he already done?

Gantt shook his hand so the device settled with the light blinking outward. "They have technology that appears to be transporter-blocking. Then again, Zulg rented us a hunk of metal with shuttle-like technology." Gantt was seized with the image of Luka transported into space, quickly left behind by the Firebird. He made sure the blocker on his own wrist was tight. "Since we aren't locked up I think they're working."

Luka chuckled at Gantt's joke, then winced. "Zulg's not going to be happy about losing that shuttle... even if destroying it was almost a service." She touched her bracelet to Gantt's, a hopeful sort of toast to luck. God willing, no one would end up floating in the black. They had to stop Fantome. They had to.

Jackson pressed the release on the airlock to let them into the Firebird proper and got back a rude-sounding burp. He tried again. "Great."

“The manual release,” said Gantt. Opening the panel door, he seized the lever behind it and pushed down. The airlock remained sealed. “Nothing. I should be able to override the manual lockout.” He punched a code into the keypad and then tried the lever again. Another code failed to let them through the airlock.
“Now to the finer points of engineering.” Using both hands he ripped the keypad out of the wall, the wires dangling like severed veins.

Gantt felt each tick of time pass like the prick of a needle. People depended on getting through the airlock. “The tricorder shows low level magnetic pulses that are messing with the electronics. It’s almost like we’re not wanted on board.” He pulled circuits out of the wall, then popped open the tricorder. Few deft twists of the wires connected the device straight to the airlock system. “According to this the security system is resetting almost every second. If I can slow it down the manual override should open the airlock.” He scanned the area with the micro-resonator and yanked on the handle. “It’s resetting too quickly like it’s watching me. Fantome isn’t an engineer. This can’t be his doing alone. Or maybe it’s the wiring...” he trailed off, digging into the panel again.

Luka paced across the small airlock, wringing her hands, worrying about all her friends inside. If the airlock wasn't working, what else was haywire aboard the Firebird? If Fantome wasn't working alone, who had joined him? Who had the knowhow to get around Gantt?

Jackson raised an eyebrow as she passed him for the eighth time. "Hey. It'll be okay."

Luka wanted to snap back at him, but she didn't. He didn't deserve it, he was just trying to help. "Okay." She tried for a smile, and failed, so instead she focused on the painful throb in her finger and breathed while Gantt rerouted the manual release again. "Is there anything I can do to help?" she asked, once more finding herself looking over Gantt's shoulder.

Blinking sweat from his eye, Gantt sucked on the latest cut. He had lost count of the number of configurations that had failed to open the door. Jackson and Luka must have been waiting an hour, at least. Gantt felt something brush the back of his neck. A glance to the side revealed Luka’s profile. Normally he liked space to work in but the nearness brought some comfort. Frustrated suddenly at his inability to work around the system, Gantt jabbed the micro-resonator into the circuits. Something snapped, energy flashed and sparks hissed back at him. They burned where they hit skin; however, the scan running on the tricorder hit green. Gantt hauled on the manual lever and the airlock hissed open.

"Yikes! Are you okay?" Luka asked as Jackson moved past her into the corridor.

Besides the patches of lava on my skin? he thought. Gantt nodded and turned sideways a little to hide his hand. "It's minor. Really. I was mostly startled. I didn't really know what would happen." He had a guess what would happen. Rhesha would probably make him spend a double-shift to degauss the transporter pad with a micro-resonator. Luka didn't look convinced so Gantt cranked a smile into place. "We'd better hurry."

Lit only by a strip of emergency lights, the dark halls of the Firebird were cavernous trails into the unknown. The air was stale with a faint, sweet smell of burning applewood, as if life support was only operating at minimums.

Luka went to the nearest terminal and rummaged in the storage drawer. If they were lucky... yes. She found a PADD and logged in, immediately checking the location and status of the Firebird's crew, comm systems, navigation, and anything else she could get the PADD to tell her. Ouch! Her torn nailbed stung like the dickens, but if they were lucky, that would be the worst injury of the day. They probably weren't that lucky. Every system she checked was as dark as the corridor they stood in.

Three heads snapped up as a light at one end of the corridor stuttered on. Luka's PADD vibrated in her hand, and she glanced back down. "What the..."

🦄

"HALP!" Luka squealed. It was the same unicorn message she had used to reassure the AI that morning. She opened a terminal and logged into a locked down part of the Spy Cave remote. After a long delay, the window popped open, and she started typing frantically into the PADD.

Gantt jerked around when Luka yelled for help. The corridor gleaming in empty stillness devoid of threat. Luka smiled down at the PADD like a birthday present. Confused, Gantt returned to scanning the corridor, keeping his left hand behind his back. Fantome might not be able to transport them out but the eminent danger of someone, or something, materializing into existence permeated the stale air.


(^_^) HALP! It's me, Luka!!!! What's going on??? We are here to stop Fantome!


"What is going on, Luka?" Jackson looked at her, puzzled, as she began typing furiously.


[o_X] Luk2324lrhareful! Raid AI Marg98323r5llwatching. Follo23l3kjr109j;oi4903[j


"Poor HALP! It's an AI of Yumi's--we've been working together on--" Luka stopped suddenly. Was it okay to talk about now? She wasn't sure. "Anyway, it seems like it's in the fight of its life with another AI. Fantome must have an AI helping him. Oh poor HALP!"

Luka initiated the base 12 Borg code she and HALP had used to discover the Monterey's transponder code. The code was so complex, if the enemy AI could figure it out, then it deserved to.


(^_^) 🦄 HALP can you read this? Where is Fantome? Is anyone hurt?
[c_c] He is on the bridge, but she is everywhere. I cannot stay here long, Ensign Stern.
[._.] Do not get hurt... Chief Han will never forgive me if you get hurt.
(e_e) Please be careful, HALP. We need you. How can I help? What can we do? I have Ensigns Smith and Soto with me. We are outside airlock twelve.
[o_o] The
[>_> ] Oh, no!
                     [ <_<]
   <=_=>                       [ <_<]


"Oh no," Luka murmured, glued to the small screen. She opened another terminal and tried to double-check the Spy Cave's security to make sure it was still Margaret-free.

"Can we do anything to help?" asked Gantt. Computer AI sounded like software. Unless he was rebuilding them, or trying for the right dish of pozole, computers were out of his area of strength. "What were you working on with--" He thought of his secret project with Yumi and changed tactics. "Can you and that computer AI work on helping us out of here?"

"I sure hope so," Luka said, typing. Jackson prowled the corridor like a tiger.

The coms hissed and then a familiar voice spoke.

=^="Attention, crew of the Firebird this is Lieutenant Jacques Fantome of the USS Monterey. I regret that up to this point I have been untruthful to all of you. You... you are a good crew. I am sorry to have done the things I had to do. I require that you all return to the locations in which you were previously held. If you do not, I will be forced to resort to extreme measures.=^=

"What kind of extreme measures?" Luka asked Gantt and Jackson. "Does he mean transporting us into warp-space?" She thought about the articles by Montgomery Scott she'd read about experimental trans-warp transporting. The consequences of failure were too terrible to contemplate.

Jackson shook his head. "I don't know. But if he wanted to transport us into space, he could have already." Jackson said. He slapped the side of the airlock, wishing he had a reason to use his knives. "We need to get to Fantome before he does something. I know what it's like to be backed into a corner. It makes... makes you do dangerous things."

Jackson nodded at Luka and Gantt. "We need to get to the bridge and we need to do it fast. Come on," he said and started down the corridor.

"How sorry could he be? At least some of the crew is alive, and they've escaped." He feared coming across Emily's little body, or another dead or injured friend. The pain in his hand fueled the anger in his gut. He tapped the commbadge.

=^="Stand down, Fantome, and let us help you. The fight is lost or you wouldn't warn us.=^=

=^=You think this is a lost fight? I haven't even used my biggest card yet, Mr. Soto. If you don't cooperate, I will destroy this ship. You have five minutes.=^=

"Destroy the... Can he do that?" Luka's mind raced--it required the codes of at least two command staff to initiate self destruct. But there were other ways--he could drop the ship out of warp too close to star or black hole. Plenty of ways to take them out.

"I don't know. Maybe?" Jackson said. "But we can't take the chance he's bluffing. We need to get moving right now" Jackson said.

"I doubt he will destruct the ship while he's on it." But Jackson had just said that people backed into a corner can do dangerous things. "Do you have any idea what Fantome wants, Jackson?"

Jackson was already moving down the corridor, heading towards a turbolift.

[OFF]

Ensign Jackson Smith
Chief Flight Control Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Ensign Gantt Soto
Structural/Environmental Specialist
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Ensign Luka Stern
Alien Archaeologist/Anthropologist
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Warrant Officer Jacques Fantome
Transporter Specialist
NPC (by Captain Llwyedd)

HALP
Intelligence Analyst
NPC (by Yumi Han)

 

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Comments (1)

By Lieutenant Yumi Han on Sat Sep 2nd, 2017 @ 4:18am

Luka and Gantt really shined here, both in their actions and in how those actions were described. Loved the details. This ensign trio makes a fun team.

Also, thanks for giving me a chance to draw an ASCII art chase scene. (^-^)