Echoes and Effigies
Location: Observation Lounge
Timeline: Mission Day 3 at 2000
[MD 3: 2000 hours]
"Thanks for meeting with us, Doctor," the Captain rasped warmly, smiling at the woman in question as he entered the observation lounge. He'd been the last to arrive and slipped into his seat quickly. He gestured to t'Nai as he said, "We wanted to get a sense for how things were going down in Sickbay. Are you and Doctor Ryan Walsh working well together?" Kodak asked, leaning slightly forward in his chair to pour himself a glass of water. One was also poured for each of the two women, which he then passed to them in turn. There was also a plate of pastries with little side plates and napkins stacked nearby: no doubt fresh from Debbie's Diner. The Captain gestured that the other two should dig in if they wanted.
Chiara looked at the display of goods but was not tempted by the offering, though it all looked delicious. "I think we're working well together. I haven't run into any problems with him, at any rate."
Emni nodded, snagging one of the pastries and popping a bite into her mouth. If they were from Debbie's she was sure they were good. "And you're finding your way around and getting settled in alright?" she asked warmly.
"It's a lot different from my last assignment," Chiara answered. "Moving through a ship without security checks every few steps was almost alarming at first. After I reminded myself that this is the normal way Starfleet facilities work, it has been much easier." She gave the first officer a warm smile. "I do wonder, however, if there is anything more that I could be doing to help here."
"That sounds...extreme," Kodak said, shaking his head slowly. "I can't imagine not having free run of the ship. Security is incredibly important but we're lucky here, I suppose," he nodded. While it was true that the Sojourner required its own levels of security to operate successfully, it certainly wasn't anything like Chiara described. "As for what more you could be doing, well..." the Captain turned to his XO, "that's a question for Commander t'Nai. What do we need outside of her duties as Assistant CMO?" he asked. "Cleaning plasma vents maybe?" he winked, very obviously joking.
Emni chuckled at that. "I don't know about that," she said, amusement in her expression. As she considered the question, though, her expression shifted slightly. "I would love to tell you that the Delta Quadrant is a friendly place, but experience has taught that it is not. Certainly I would consult with Dr. Ryan Walsh on this, but it would be a good idea to brush up on some of the more warlike species out here." She glanced over at Kodak, her expression holding something of the history they shared serving together. "And on any relevant medical practices related to them." Her gaze settled on Chiara a mixture of openness and frankness on her face. "Captain Kodak and I served aboard the USS Adelphi on her final mission. It wasn't meant to be her final one, but we had a run in with the Vidiians. As the CMO at the time I had to keep one of our crew members alive in stasis without several of her organs so we could return to someplace where she could receive care. I can't say that's the kind of medical care that appeared in my Academy training."
Chiara was silent for a moment to process the information. "So, maybe I need to learn about the methods in which the people fight in order to prepare for extreme surgeries? Rather than learning the xenobiology of the area itself?"
"I mean, both would probably serve you well," Kodak replied with a tight smile. "We never know what we're going to encounter out here. Doctor Ryan Walsh, you, and the nurses are the only people standing between life and death around here," he smirked, leaning back slightly in his chair. "I'd recommend..." Whatever the Captain was going to say was suddenly caught off by a look of surprise splayed across his face.
Staring at the observation lounge's picture window, Kodak spied something that only registered just then. Where there should have been azure and violet plumes of nebula gases were, instead, the tell tale rainbow streaks of stars viewed at warp. The starlines zipped by swiftly, denoting the Sojourner was quickly headed somewhere other than the nebula they'd been stationed at for the last couple of weeks.
"Number One," Kodak began, "when did we alter course? And where, exactly, are we headed?" He stood then, moving to the window as if he could see their destination ahead of them somehow. Great concern echoed in the Chameloid's voice as he turned to t'Nai and said, "I don't recall giving orders to leave the nebula..."
Emni's look of alarm must have been obvious. Kodak, himself, had given the orders. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she did a quick reach out with her empathic sense. But there was nothing beyond concern and genuine confusion to be felt. She tried to remember what the Captain's emotional signature had been barely half an hour earlier and found, frustratingly, that she couldn't remember.
"We altered course at 1930, sir," she said carefully. "You gave the orders and coordinates to Mr. Timmoz yourself. Said that we received the orders when Mr. Oliveria arrived on the shuttle. We're..." Her face turned pale as she thought through the consequences. She and Timmoz had both been confused by the orders, but she'd hung her trust on the fact that surely the Captain would have a reason. "Sir... do you not remember giving that order?"
"I what?!" Kodak asked incredulously, disbelief shining in his eyes and his emotional mindscape. "Half an hour ago, I was in my quarters," the Captain explained, shaking his head. "I definitely didn't give that order. And as far as I know, no new orders came with Mr. Oliveria. I'd say this was impossible but duplicates of people have been popping up all over the ship. My guess is that the second me Andrew and Debbie saw yesterday must have been on the Bridge giving orders. I don't know where in the hell my ship is going but this stops now."
The Chameloid walked over towards the door of the lounge, expecting it to obediently swish open upon his approach. When it did not, Kodak halted in his tracks before bumping into the barrier. Steeling himself against frustration, he reached up to thumb the door's physical controls, expecting the panels to again slide open upon command. However, they remained irritatingly in place. "What the hell," the Captain swore, looking back at t'Nai and Chiara. He'd been about to say more when he heard his own voice over the comm.
"This is Captain Kodak to all hands. We've encountered a medical threat that necessitates locking down the crew and sheltering in place until it's safe to come out. Wherever you are, stay put. If you're currently on your way somewhere, find the closest place to shelter for the time being. Once conditions are once again safe, we will communicate a lift to the lockdown. This is not a drill. Kodak out."
"Computer," Kodak intoned brusquely, his face full of confusion, "countermand that lockdown order and release seals on the Observation Lounge door, authorization Kodak Lambda Yellow Nu Nu twelve."
"Unable to comply," the computer unhelpfully responded.
"Why?" Kodak asked, some level of exasperation creeping into his voice.
"The lockdown order can only be removed from the Bridge."
"Which we can't currently get to," Kodak's lips thinned into a frown. "Captain to Bridge," he said, reaching up to tap his combadge. The reactive chirp was dull and flat, signaling that its connection to the comm network was not functional.
Emni was quick to follow suit, tapping her own combadge quickly and getting the same result. She stepped over to a console inset in the conference room table, fingers flying across it to see if she could raise comms that way. It took only a moment to confirm that she could not. She looked up at Kodak, blanching slightly as she did. "Comms are down shipwide," she said. "Whoever that is... they have control of the Bridge."
The doctor silently watched the interaction of the senior officers with a dose of curiosity and growing concern. "Maybe a medical override will work? Even if it's a quarantine lockout, doctors should be able to move throughout the ship." She moved to the door's control panel to try her access commands.
Like before the doors seemed unresponsive, unmoved by by the doctor's medical override. Emni's eyebrows furrowed at that, looking from Kodak to Chiara and back again. "So much for a real medical emergency it seems. The doctor is right. Were this a true medical emergency the medical override would open the doors."
"I think we need to try to get to engineering then," Chiara said.
"Oh?" Kodak asked, peering at the doctor. He wondered what ideas might be brewing behind her eyes.
"First, it will be easier to get to engineering than a fully secured bridge. Then, secondly, the commander indicated that the (apparent) intruder set the coordinates to move the ship somewhere... The helm can put in the directions, but it can't actually take us there. If we can cut the power to the engines manually, then the intruder will have to come to us to discuss moving the ship again," the doctor explained. Her last assignment had been at a Federation penal colony, which included occasional transport runs as part of her duties. Hostile take-over were rare; but that didn't exempt her from training for such a situation. "If we can control the engines, we can control the negotiations," she suggested.
"I'm definitely not a fan of the ship being beyond our control," the Captain said needlessly. "Engineering does seem to make sense for stopping the ship," Kodak nodded in agreement, "but the computer just said the lock down can only be ended from the Bridge. Even if we stop the ship, we need to get in there to undo whatever the other me put into place. Regardless of where we go," the Chameloid looked at the door, sizing it up, "that's our first obstacle." He moved, then, to remove the control panel beside the double doors as the doctor backed away. Within the compartment was a variety of wires and components as well as a large, silver manual release for the door. With a pull that should have been harder than it was, Kodak's eyes filled with disappointment as the manual lever failed to open the hatchway.
"Damnit," he swore, letting the handle return to its original position. "Whatever lockdown measures are in place must have disabled the manual releases, too. Going to have to brute force it, I think," Kodak said, stepping back to size up the doors. "How much we take these damn things for granted," he commented with a shake of his head. "Alright, here goes," the Chameloid said, putting his hands against the doors, fingers primed along the seam between them. With a sudden inhalation, the Captain began to change.
Human skin gave way to the textured, pebble-like surface of saurian skin. Peach and pink were sidelined for viridian, which flowed across the man's exposed epidermis even as his body seemed to quadruple in breadth and stature. Assuming a height around seven feet, the Chameloid's arms lengthened, terminating into scaly, magnificently strong claws that dug into the door seams. Thick, similarly clawed feet dug into the room's carpet, bracing the Captain as he attempted to pull the doors open. A dark, guttural growl ripped from his fanged maw as, with a crescendo of effort, the doors parted and were pushed into their housing within the wall.
Kodak-as-Gorn attempted to then step through the door, only to be repelled by a sparkling force field in the portal's threshold. The inversion of his momentum carried the Captain backward, almost crashing into the table if not for the bracing of his large tail against the floor, keeping him upright. Another growl escaped him as the Gorn considered the force field in front of them.
"I am open to ideas," he said, folding his arms over his considerable chest.
"Can you make yourself smaller?" Chiara asked. There was a sense of amusement in her voice, but curiosity too as she regarded the activities she had witnessed.
Emni couldn't help the little wiggle of amusement that squirmed through her as she watched Chiara take in the Captain's Gorn form for the first time. "Think Gar'rath would be able to tell the difference?" she asked the other woman, a small smile settled on her lips. Her amusement was fleeting though as she considered the problem. "If there is a forcefield on the door then there's bound to be force fields in the corridor as well. Head swiveling she twisted to examine the space. "No jeffries tube hatches here," she said, stating the obvious out loud as she ticked that option off of her list. "We can't beam out without working communicators either."
"To a point," Kodak said to Chiara. "But not small enough to crawl through the control panel or anything," he said, looking at the open console next to the door. As t'Nai ran down the list of things they didn't have or couldn't do, the Chameloid nodded. "We do seem to have very few options, I agree, XO," the Captain considered. "If we were stuck in one of the more public areas, we'd have access to an emergency weapons cache and maybe some tricorders. I don't think we have them here, though," he lamented, making a mental note that, should they retake the ship, he would ensure they were on-hand for future shipboard emergencies.
They spent the next 10 minutes trying to come up with ideas but each one led down a similar path: failure. The most promising of the ideas had been using the wires inside the door console to overload the force field. Kodak, having some expertise as an engineer aboard the USS Defender some ten years prior, was able to rig the power system to double back on itself and cause a cascading feedback loop. Applying a sparking wire to the force field came this close to bringing it down but, ultimately, there just wasn't enough power flowing through that panel to do the job. They'd succeeded only in shorting out the panel and seemed to be at a very literal impasse.
That was when the transporter beam suddenly and unexpectedly ensnared Kodak and t'Nai. They disappeared in a whirling dance of motes that swirled in the air. Once they'd departed, it was Chiara's turn, similarly disappearing into the ether. When Kodak re-materialized, he found himself in Engineering, staring out at Timmoz, who was pointing a phaser in his face.
"Uh hello," he greeted in disorientation, eyes sweeping across the room to see Oliveria, Margarar, Mothim, Ranorak, and a few yeomen looking his way. "Not that I'm not happy to see you," Kodak said to those assembled, "but how on Earth did you beam us out of there?"
TO BE CONTINUED...
=/\= A joint post by... =/\=
Captain Björn Kodak
Lieutenant Commander Emni t'Nai
Lieutenant JG Chiara MD
Assistant Chief Medical Officer