Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Location: USS Kyushu
Timeline: MD 3 (March 5, 2393)
::Main Engineering, USS Kyushu::
As the ship convulsed again under another barrage of phasers and torpedoes, Lieutenant Commander Levitz was pretty sure that the next round would most definitely drop the anti-matter containment field. But again, that's what he had thought after the last barrage, and yet here he was, still kicking and cursing out at how short staffed his department was.
How was he supposed to keep the shields up and the engine running under heavy fire with only half of his engineering team on board? On top of that, his best warp specialist was lying in the sickbay under heavy medication for banana allergy. Seriously, how was banana allergy even a thing? It helped that Alkan was there to lend a hand, but the Bajoran seemed a bit . . . off. And why did she bring a banana with her?
"Lieutenant Alkan," he shouted over an exploding console nearby, "I said keep your eyes on those output readings. If the fluctuation variance gets above twelve percent, we will lose the theta-matrix compositor."
"I have been watching," Alkan corrected without insult. "We have been struck in several parts of the ship which indicate they are trying to disable us - not destroy us. Either that or their gunners have poor aim because they have yet to make a direct hit to engines. Minor damage to vital systems only."
Malaya went back to eating her banana as she analyzed the readings on the MSD to her right.
"I don't care if . . ." before Levitz could finish his sentence the console where he was working at exploded, sending him flying across the room until his body slammed into the master system display on the other side.
"I did say yet," Malaya reminded him as she ran over to check his vitals, banana still in her left hand.
"Is he . . ." asked Ensign Brok. The Bolian was visibly unnerved.
"He is dead," Malaya confirmed and shouted, "Medic! Clear this area."
"What do we do now?" Brok asked the other woman, who was now the highest ranking officer left in engineering.
"Now? You get a damage control team on that EPS conduit. Then you come back here and help me vent some of the excess exhaust from the ramscoops," Malaya spoke instantly as she walked over to the warp core's main control panel and began all efforts to save the ship. "We need to keep the core from overheating."
"Yes, Ma'am." Brok nodded. Her eyes lingered on Levitz's lifeless body a moment longer before turning her attention back to her console and requesting a damage control team. Just then Commander Adlerstein's voice blast through the comm.
=/\=This is the XO. All hands: abandon ship. Repeat: all hands abandon ship!=/\=
Brok looked up at Malaya again, but before she could say anything, an Andorian woman in her late twenties materialized in the middle of engineering. She wore the red collar of the command division, but no rank pips. It was not until her image flickered slightly did Brok realize that it was a hologram, but one she had never seen before on the ship.
"What the . . ."
Themie ignored the Bolian ensign, her eyes set on the highest ranking officer in engineering she could identify, a Bajoran working at one of the consoles with a half-eaten banana hanging from her mouth.
"Lieutenant, you must evacuate and head to the escape pods."
"The core is not overloading. We are in no danger of losing the ship at this time," Malaya spoke as she started to vent the ramscoops before she finished her banana. "...Unless we are supposed to detonate the warp core to prevent the ship from being taken over?"
Themie quirked an amused eyebrow at the Bajoran's reaction. Tilting her head to the side, the AI said, "Trust me Lieutenant, Captain Ishikawa has no intention of boarding the Kyushu. And the only reason your warp core is not overloading is because I have been targeting mostly non-critical systems, but I'm almost running out of non-critical systems to target, Lieutenant. So, please, you must leave."
"Uh . . ." Brok hesitated for a moment. "who are you again?" she asked the hologram.
"I'm the USS Themyscira, Ensign." Themie answered plainly. Just then ship shook again under fire. "That was me." she added without a hint of humor in her voice. "You must leave."
"An AI." Brok murmured to herself in amazement. She had no idea any of the Luna class ship was equipped with experiment AI. She had thought that only the Elysium class did. No wonder the Kyushu was taking a beating. "Can't you just . . . stop firing on us?"
Themie let out a small sigh. "I cannot disobey my commanding officer, Ensign."
Malaya took that moment to look at the hologram. Saw it flicker for only a moment, and pursed her lips. Leave it to A.I. to be superior. However, the order to abandon had been given. This was not the time to prove her superiority in skill to a computer program.
"Fine. We're leaving. But I'm saving a copy of your program and taking you with us," Malaya stated simply as she started to load an isoleniar rod. "I need you to lockdown all security systems and power down the ship. I'll put in a quantum fractal encryption on the computer core so this ship cannot be hacked into. Then you and I will go."
"That won't be necessary, Lieutenant. I'm already in your system." said Themie. "In any case Captain Ishikawa has no use for the Kyushu and its database. I'm under order to destroy the ship, and the Captain is already beginning to suspect my delay. There's no time to transfer my programing. You must leave now."
As soon as she had spoken those words, the ship convulsed again, and sparks flied as two more consoles exploded.
There was a tinge of desperation in Themie's voice.
Malaya ignored her a few more seconds - enough to finish the copy of her program and pull the iso chip from the external port.
"I am going." The Bajoran did not seem to want to leave. Reluctantly, she tucked the copy of Themie's program into her tool belt before she went running for an escape pod.
It seemed silly to wish the AI luck when she was holding the essence of its second life on her person.
As Broht and the other engineers followed Malaya out of the door, Themie's holographic avatar flickered and then disappeared. She need to make sure as many crew got to the escape pods as possible.
"Help! Someone help!" shouted Ismael. He was still drowsy from the medication, and he could feel the blood dripping down his left cheek, not to mention the pain coursing through his broken right arm, courtesy of an exploding overhead conduit, but he had a far bigger problem. The explosion had also collapsed one of the bulkheads keeping this section of the corridor intact. Emergency forcefield kicked in immediately, but Liv was knocked unconscious and was pinned under a broken support beam. She had rushed back to the sickbay to get him, and he would not leave her behind now.
"Help!" he shouted again when he saw a large figure moving through the thick smoke in a distance. He couldn't tell who it was, not that it mattered.
The intermittent red glow of the alert status lights cast a faint silhouette against the thick smoke and vapors of the damaged corridor. The outline became denser as the figure made its way forward, overturning debris and clearing as it did so.
Eventually, fine details became visible, cranial ridges, Baldric & long flowing hair - although now somewhat frizzy and disordered.
The Klingon forced his way through a hanging conduit which was now spewing gaseous coolant into the compartment. Visibility was not assisted by the fact that a fire somewhere In life support was now pumping toxic & suffocating black smoke through the ventilation system. He in-fact could not see his feet visibility was so poor.
He could hear the faint voice calling for help, but filtering the sound through the background noise of hull impacts, leaking conduit, and the alert klaxon was proving more difficult than K'vagh had anticipated. He closed his eyes and tried to identify the direction of the cry for help. "KEEP SHOUTING! I SHALL ATTEMPT TO FOLLOW YOUR VOICE!" he yelled.
Ismael ducked as a loose hanging panel nearly fell onto him when the ship was hit again, either by a phaser blast or a torpedo, it's hard to tell at this point, since the entire ship seemed to be falling apart.
"Here! We are here!" he shouted with as much force as he could muster.
The voice registered with K'vagh like warriors battle cry, guiding him towards the field of battle. On this occasion however his enemy was time itself, he must work quickly in order to have any hope of joining his comrades at the escape-pods.
The hardy Klingon continued his search until finally he could make out the outlines of his comrades ahead of him. Cautiously he approached, paying particular attention to falling debris and exposed sections of conduit.
"Here!" Ismael shouted again. He was finally starting to recognize the person coming their way. It was K'vagh, the ship's chief tactical officer. The bridge was often the last place on a ship to be evacuated, which meant that they didn't have much time left.
"YOUR INJURED? CAN YOU WALK!" the overwhelming noise from the ship disintegrating around them meant that K'vagh still had to shout in order to be heard, but he meant no disrespect.
"I'm fine, just a broken arm, but Lieutenant Bancroft is seriously hurt." answered a visibly distressed Ismael as K'vagh knelt down to check Liv's vitals."
K'vagh felt for a pulse, she was alive however K'vagh's battlefield trauma experience taught him that with any crushing injury one should proceed with caution if attempting to move the patient or risk causing internal bleeding.
"She is alive!" he said, now examining the beam that was pinning Lt Bancroft down.
"She needs medical attention now, Lieutenant." Ismael nearly begged. He couldn't let Liv die because of him. She was one of his best friends.
Before K'vagh could respond, another conduit detonated behind them causing the ceiling to collapse and blocking their path to the nearest escape pods. "There's no time!, we will have to move her now and find some other path!" he said, taking hold of the beam. K'vagh used all his might to lift the heavy lump of metal and as strong as he was, it would only lift a matter of inches. "You'll have to drag her out!"
Ismael nodded. Bending down, he grabbed Liv uniform at the shoulder with his still functioning left arm and pulled with whatever little strength he could still muster, but she barely moved an inch. If only he could still use his right arm. Just then another pair of hands grabbed Liv and together they finally dragged the unconscious Liv out from under the support beam. Turning, Ismael saw a familiar face.
"It's you . . . I mean, thank you, Lieutenant."
Even as everything exploded around them, he still found the time to stutter.
"I had to save a copy of your AI, before leaving." Malaya pointed to another part of the support beam so that the engineers with her could help her keep it enough to pull the trapped victims, out.
Malaya looked around at the fires going on. "...We need to find an escape pod soon. The running AI program says she has to destroy the ship."
"But we don't have an AI . . ." Ismael murmured to himself, not sure what the Bajoran was talking about. There were, howerver, far more important concerns at the moment.
K'vagh looked back at the pile of rubble behind him, there was no way they could get through to the escape pods on this deck, especially not with an injured crew member such as liv.
"TODAY IS NOT A GOOD DAY TO DIE!," he growled as he knelt down to check Lt Bancroft's suitability to be moved. He turned to Malaya, "Did you see another route to the escape pods on your way here?" he enquired.
"Not without bringing more debris down on us," Malaya answered and noticed a spot on her right forearm sleeve was damp. She likely cut herself running through the ship, but it was not the time to stop and assess. They needed safety first.
"We will have to make do, please assist Mister Ismael.... I will carry the lieutenant!" K'vagh scooped liv off the floor and over his shoulder, it wasn't exactly an approved method of transporting the injured but time was against them.
"We could probably bypass most debris by using the tubes on this level. If we take the left junctions, that should lead us to the port escape pods," Malaya suggested.
"There's a bottle of Blood-wine vintage 2364 in it for you Lieutenant...if your right!" K'vagh smiled - a rarity for those who know him well. "MOVE OUT!, Lieutenant Malaya - take point!" he commanded.
"Lieutenant Alkan," Malaya corrected before she opened a door to the tubes and began to crawl through them. "Does not look like the tubes have been compromised. We should be safe."
Ismael crawled into the tube after Malaya, followed closely by K'vagh with Live on his shoulder as well as Ensign Broht and two other engineers. Crawling with a broken arm was not exactly fun, but it sure beat being buried under a pile of rubble or sucked into the vacuum of space.
"Perfectly good banana wasted," Malaya sighed in longing as she moved the group safely forward.
Once they reached the first junction, the Bajoran engineer realized the door was sealed. Likely a safety percaution. She did not care, however. Instinctively, she opened the panel to the manual release and began to pump away at it.
"Rising hull temperatures means there are heavy fires closeby. A drop in temperature - below freezing, means we are losing environmental controls," Malaya told mostly to herself. It was unclear what lay behind that door.
"Uhr . . . should we really open that door?" asked Ismael, "I mean, for all we know it could be the vacuum of space on the other side."
Malaya looked back and Ismael, "You think the tricorders will not scan properly?"
"Oh, no, no, no," Ismael fumbled, "Uh . . ."
K'vagh was clearly becoming increasingly frustrated, it was clear their options were limited and the way behind them was not an option if they planned to escape. "We are running out of time!" he growled. "We know the way behind us is blocked, we must pass through here in order to reach the escape pods!" K'vagh paused and thought of something inspiring.
"Our choice is simple to either wait here for death like blHnuch until the ship inevitably disintegrates...Or we can act like warriors, face the danger head on and live to fight another day..or die a glorious death and take our place among the honoured dead in Stovokor!"
The crack of a smile appeared across the Klingon's face revealing pearly his white fangs, "I choose a warriors death!"
Malaya cleared her throat and spoke stoically, "I am an engineer, not a warrior... But I agree, we cannot stay here."
Ismael cringed slightly as K'vagh spoke. Man, was he loud He kept that to himself, of course. The Klingon always scared him a little. Not that he would admit that to anyone. Most definitely not in front of Malaya. Without a word he followed her through the opening hatch and emerged back into a corridor. Well, at least it's not the vacuum of space on the other side.
His face lit up when he saw the escape pod access points down the hallway to their right. "There they are!"
Just then the ship convulsed again and a large chunk of the bulkhead to their left blew apart in a deafening explosion. As air escaped into the void of space in a frenzy, bringing one of the engineers along with it, Ismael barely had a chance to grab Malaya's arm with his right hand and a piece of dangling conduit with his left. He groaned as he struggled to hold onto the Bajoran with his already fractured arm.
Malaya panted, "Hold... on." The Bajoran felt her arm pop with a sharp pain and reached out for the Klingon to try and help pull their shipmate back in.
Whilst balancing his casualty on his back, K'vagh grabbed the nearest bulkhead with his left arm and snatched Malaya's hand with his right. He was now bearing the weight of 3 persons not including himself and the force of air rushing out the breach.
The Klingon let out a roar of pain as he felt his tendons and muscles start to tear under the strain, then with a loud and blood curdling 'POP' the joint gave way and broke free of its socket.
Just then emergency force field kicked in, and as the section was repressurized, Themie materialized in front of the remaining officers.
"I'm coming around to target the warp core. You have twenty-one seconds to get inside the escape pod and eject. Go!"
K'vagh cradled his dislocated shoulder, ordinarily, he would just reset the bone himself but there was no time and he was still carrying Liv on his back. Instead, he left the arm dangling, lifeless at his side while he used the other to activate the escape pod launch controls.
The last two pods lowered their ramps and powered up for departure.
Ismael helped the Klingon carry the still unconscious Liv into one of the pods - they had two functioning arms between them - and then rushed Malaya into the pod as well. "Come on, you heard the AI. We got to go."
Malaya stared a moment at the entrance of the pod, confused to what just happened. There was much she did not understand about AI personalities and had she had enough time to contemplate programming versus real emotions, she might actually be inspired to write a thesis.
There was little time to do that, however, as the ship was doomed to go down. So with a sigh, she entered the escape pod clutching her arm in pain.
Before following the Bajoran into the pod, Ismael made sure Ensign Broht and Specialist Wang had made it to the other escape pod. He then jumped in and strapped himself into the only remaining seat. A few quick presses on the small control panel next to him, he shut the hatches and initiated the ejection sequence. Mere seconds later, the pod shook slightly before escaping out of the collapsing hull of the Akira class ship and into the void of space.
Ismael activated the pod's external sensors, just in time to watch one final phaser blast from the Themyscira pierced through the Kyushu's warp core, sending what remained of her into a fiery oblivion. Before he could thank the prophets for watching over them today, he watched in horror as Ensign Broht and Specialist Wang's escape pod was caught in the blast and immediately incinerated along with the rest of the ship.
"No . . ."
"All pods, this is the XO." Commander Adlerstein's voice came through the comm. "Commence accountability of personnel. I want headcounts within three hours. Commence Ration Plan Bravo, Sleep Cycle Delta."
Turning to K'vagh and Malaya, Ismael opened his mouth, but nothing came out.
"Do we have any bananas in the emergency ration pack?" Malaya asked innocently.
Lieutenant Ismael Campos
Warp Propulsion Specialist
USS Kyushu NCC-65491
(NPC - Roger/Oliver)
USS Themyscira NCC-85430
(NPC - Roger/Oliver)
Chief Tactical Officer
USS Kyushu NCC-65491
Lieutenant Alkan Malaya
USS Arcadia NCC-89015