Boudicca Post of the Month November 2008

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Mission: The Loudest Silence, Day 1

Stardate: 2408.06.21

(SS Bristol - Main Corridor "Broadway" - CEO Lorimar - 1226)

Ever the engineer, the first thing(s) Bob noticed on beam in was it was very dark, and very cold. "Quite odd," he said very quietly and to no one in particular. "When we restarted auxiliary power that should have been enough. Ah know ah hit the 'normalize environment' command on the panel before we beamed oot..."

He flipped on his handlamp and almost immediately wished he hadn't. As soon as it came on and he moved it at all, it cast eerie shadows around the corridor. Despite his best efforts to the contrary, it brought him back to the computer core and the mysterious shadow he'd 'seen'. The mere memory made his skin crawl. He didn't even bother to repress a shudder, uncaring whether someone saw it or not.

He popped a cover off a nearby utility junction to ascertain whether power was getting to the environmental systems here or not. He was about to touch a switch when Yalix spoke and the mere sound of his voice made Lorimar recoil as though he had gotten a shock from the controls.

"I suggest we go in pairs, at least in light of the last away team's experiences." he suggested.

~A thoroughly sensible suggestion... now if ah could only make my voice work without sounding like a scared child...~

He took a breath and turned toward Yalix, his eyes much wider than the lowered light level warranted. "Aye Mister Yalix, a fine idea... most sensible."

~Not that it helped a great deal last time! Ah was a scared wie Trei as withoot him!~

"Ah should be able tae handle things in engineering alone... but common sense says ah should take a partner as well. Can ah borrow one brave marine volunteer?"

~All marines are brave by nature and training ye fool! Now ye've insulted them...~

A very fit looking and take-no-prisoners looking marine took a step toward him. "Lance corporal Delaine, Lieutenant... I'll join your private party."

"Right, ah'm pleased for the company. Mister Yalix, Mister Trei, the rest of ye... let's get tae it... keep the comms open aye?"

(Reply Any)

(SS Bristol - Engineering - CEO Lorimar - 1230)

Bob had led the young marine in silence back to engineering. ~She must think ah'm fourteen kinds of a fool...nothing scares marines, does it?~ When they arrived, it took him a moment to realize just what was wrong. The lights were off. All of them. ~What the bloody...~

He stopped moving so abruptly Delaine almost knocked him down; fortunately she was more graceful than he was. He turned and whispered to her. "Lassie... when ah left ah'm *positive* these lights were *on*. Now either there was some sort o' equipment failure... or someone or somethin' turned them off. Ye may think ah'm crazy... but ah'm dead certain the lights were on."

She looked at him speculatively, then the marine within took over. She gestured for him to move into a corner and indicated she was going to sweep the room. Catlike, she moved off into the darkness and was almost immediately gone from sight.

Bob waited, obediently, and felt like a complete coward. He could feel the brassy taste of fear rising in his throat.

~Got tae fight it lad! Ye're nae use tae anyone if ye've turned intae a quiverin' puddle!~

He waited another eternity -- perhaps fifteen more seconds, really -- and then got his breathing under control. He oriented himself and discovered he was near the auxiliary power distribution panel. Working purely by memory and touch, he located the system he was looking for. He stood by to trip it into operation as he waited for Delaine to return. As he waited, he tapped his commbadge, moving very slowly to do so. When he spoke it was just below a whisper. He was certain that the communication technology would make it audible for the folks on the other end. "Boudicca, this is Lorimar. There's something goin' on here indeed. All the environmental systems are off again... lights, heat, everythin'. Ah'd stake all ah know that ah left those systems *on* before we beamed oot. Now, either there was some sort of equipment failure... or someone, or somethin' turned the bloody lights off!"

(Reply Boudicca)

"Ah'm wie Lance Corporal Delaine, she's sweepin' engineerin now. As far as ah can tell, the reactor is still on. Ah need tae make my way up tae the mezzanine tae be sure. Can ye make anything from the computer logs?"

(Reply Boudicca)

Just then, Delaine came almost silently back into view. "Its clear here... Lieutenant... I don't know what you were expecting but there is no one here."

With at sigh of relief, he thumbed the lighting control on and it immediately brightened the compartment to a good working level. He was about to thank her for checking the compartment when he noted a third shadow on the bulkhead where there should only be two. "Dae ye nae see that??" he asked with an evident strain in his voice. She already had her phaser out and whirled in the indicated direction. Indeed she must have seen it, as she took aim with her weapon and appeared ready to fire when the shadow disappeared as quickly as it had come.

"Still think ah'm crazy?"

"I... I don't know what to make of that... never seen anything like it..."

"Would ye watch mah back please? Ah'm interested in gettin this ship ready and get back home as quick as we can..."

(SS Bristol - Engineering - CEO Lorimar - 1236)

Whatever had happened to turn the power off, Bob didn't have time or inclination to check. He wanted out, and now... so he focused on getting the bare minimum of needed systems up and running so they could all get off the freighter just as soon as possible. It was, however, a setback; he lost a few minutes undoing what had been done be it by ghost or by glitch. The warp engine restart was going well. He was pushing it as fast as he safely could, which had the welcome effect of keeping his mind occupied. Despite that, he just couldn't shake the feeling that he was not alone... and it was not the young marine guarding him that made him feel that way. Time for a report.

"Lorimar to Yalix and Trei."

(Reply either/or iyw)

"Status report gentlemen. We are running a few minutes behind mah original estimate... we had tae start back from scratch, or nearly so. Dae ye hae any improvement in environment there? Ah've set the computer tae restore normal levels throughout the ship now that we hae power aplenty. Warp engine restart is going as planned, but as ah said will be delayed by several minutes. Need anything else from here at the moment?"

(Reply Yalix, Trei, Any)

He had hit a lull in the restart. Despite the fact that he was working very shorthanded, a great deal of the restart sequence was automated by the now functioning ship's computer. Still and all, each step needed to be closely watched, especially when hurrying. As he waited for the preheaters to raise the reactant temperature, he had several minutes to himself. ~A pity ye cannae change the laws of physics... ah'd love tae be off this bleedin' freighter and home!~

As he watched the automated process, he realized that yes, he was indeed the senior member of the away team (at least among the Starfleet types) and he had better keep the bosses in the loop. "Lorimar to Boudicca. Other than what ah previously reported, no major problems. Engine restart is proceedin' without incident, but we lost several minutes backtrackin' the other problems."

(Reply Any)

(Posted by Russ)