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Welcome to the Party, Pal

Posted on Mon Feb 17th, 2020 @ 12:14am by Calderon Jarsdel & Captain Mrazak

Mission: S1E4: The Hills Have Eyes
Location: Prison Transport / Overwatch Station
Timeline: MD 2

It was strange to think he had blue eyes, thought the man sat in the secure confinement cell aboard the starship. No wonder they trusted him now. Weeeell, they had done. Right up until he’d got way too confident and fallen back on old habits. Bad, dangerously lethal habits. The informant hadn’t in fact died, but the look on that kid’s face and the intoxicating fear radiating outwards from him had been more than enough to warn the team that something wasn’t quite right.

Soft, weak, flawed bastards. They wouldn’t have lived long enough to tell anyone else if Jumik wasn’t a shadow of his former self. Well, perhaps the opposite of a shadow? An internal echo of what he had once been, riding around in a handsome human vehicle with a backstage pass to all the best places. Denied the lightning arcing from the tips of his fingers, but no less the master of disguise and mindfuck. Wings clipped, confined to playing nice in the corridors of their world, yet still playing his own song.

People had told Cal he had his father’s eyes, but that wasn’t true. It was more an expression used to convey that spark of warmth he shared with both his father and his grandfather. A charisma that had caught the attention of a wealthy and semi-important person in the days before Cal had been conceived. Barely before as it happened.

These folk, the guardians of his outward transport, hadn’t seen that version of Calderon Jarsdel however. No. They had only seen the man with the buzz cut and firm physique, the individual who no one seemed to be quite sure how to handle, the one who presented more questions than answers. Trouble? No one was entirely certain, but the shadow of inherent suspicion and potential lethality had brought signatures to transfer forms quicker than Cal could keep track.

Poked, prodded, incarcerated and queried, yet not entirely understood by those who studied him. Hell, even if Cal could vocalise his predicament, those words would never make it out of his own head. Both occupants of that skull waited impatiently and wondered what this new destination had in store as someone hit the button to unlock their cell.

“Room service?” Cal’s voice asked, a wry smirk lifting one side of his mouth in a snide twist.

"Shut up," said one Security officer. A grizzled veteran with frosted gray along his temples.

"We're not supposed to talk to him," whispered another Security officer. Younger. Female.

Silence fell.

In that absence of sound, Jumik subtly studied them both. Gruff Gray and By The Book. He sent out invisible tendrils of unspoken questions, seeking information that they wouldn't consciously share.

"Well, that's just rude," their prisoner said. "I'm a person, I have feelings, y'know?"

Admonished by his underling, the senior Security officer made no reply. Instead he spoke to his colleague. "This one is going away for good. No more transfers. He's going to a place with no name where you don't come back."

The female officer didn't reply, so he kept going.

"I even checked the flight plan. Our guy here disappears somewhere near the Badlands. Talked to the pilot and he said there's an unscheduled rendezvous that will be guided by remote automation. Not even he will know where we drop this scumbucket." Apparently that thought tickled the older Security officer. He elicited a throaty chuckle. "Our boy here will just... disappear."

Panic briefly gripped those entwined souls as those four words clunked into Cal's ears. You don't come back. While Jumik rallied internally and maintained a stalwart feigned indifference, Cal seriously missed the ability to suck air in and out of his own lungs. He screamed in muted frustration with a mockery of unspoken words that no one could hear bar the thief who had stolen his very person right from under him. He hated the intruder for the dry laugh that left his lips.

"Oooh, yeah, very scary," Jumik said with his borrowed mouth. "You guys have rules. Nice try though."

But the resonance in Gruff Gray's chest, the intonation of his words and the visual signs in his expression, they told a different story. Gruff Gray wasn't lying. Not knowingly.

Disappear? Thought Jumik. Surely not. These were the Good Guys.

Still, he didn't believe in people hard enough to be utterly sure about that. Life had taught him better than to judge so swiftly. He allowed Cal a fleeting emotion, just to ensure the right inflection coloured their plea.

"You can't just throw me away. I didn't do anything wrong..."

"Hear that?" said the male officer. "He's innocent! It's all just been a big mistake. Maybe we should let him go."

The woman sighed in frustration. "Our orders were not to talk to--"

"Does it look like I'm talking to him?" the man interjected. "No, I'm talking to you, aren't I? Jeez. You need to light up, Ensign."

"And you need to stand down, Chief," the woman said. By the shifting of her tone, she'd finally stiffened her backbone.

The male scoffed. "Fine. Yes, ma'am. I'm going to check on the pilot again." His heavy footfalls quickly dissipated into silence.

Jumik smiled a grim little smile. Dissention. Disagreement. Disorder. Even in such miniscule amounts, they still entertained.

"No respect," he said, as if he took her side for a moment. "No respect at all. He mocks you. Disrespects your authority." The ghost in the human machine canted his head to the side and studied the Ensign as she stood there alone. He tried to grab her attention, pull it away from him for a second in the hope of distraction. A telepathic equivalent of the old throw the pebble in the opposite direction trick. Look over there. Something shiny. And Jumik considered, but did not yet initiate, a physical attack. Nothing to lose if they were about to throw him away.

The Security ensign snapped to attention, having felt herself lose focus. She glared at Cal, or at least his face. "No talking!" she ordered.

But her thoughts... She would have to write a report about that senior NCO.

Hours passed, mostly in silence, but with the occasional grousing and complaining as heightened tensions began to show through between the two Security officers. The pilot was catching a few sleepless winks at the cockpit care of the remotely controlled flight plan. His unapproved break was interrupted by a sudden hail.

"Unidentified Starfleet vessel, you have entered restricted space. Provide access authorization or you will be disabled."

The pilot scrambled for a moment as he blinked his eyes back into focus. "Uh... yes... Control." He had no idea whom he was addressing. They must be demanding the security packet he had been given. Retrieving an isolinear chip from secure holding beneath the conn, the pilot slid it into the comms console. "Sending authorization now." Hopefully. Otherwise...

"Authorization accepted. Power down main systems and prepared to be tractored," said the brusque voice of Control. "Do not activate sensors. Do not debark the shuttle. The prisoner will be removed, and then your shuttle will be remotely piloted on a reverse trajectory. Acknowledge, Shuttle."

"Uh, copy."

The channel dropped with a definitive chirp.

"Nice people," the pilot muttered. He leaned over to access the onboard communicator. "Helm to cargo. We're on approach. Prepare the prisoner for transfer."

The two Security officers stared at one another.

"Go on, then," the ensign said.

"Yes, ma'am," the senior NCO said. He turned to face the force field that had detained Cal/Jumik and hovered his hand over the deactivation button. "You covering me?" he asked, looking over his shoulder.

"Ready." The ensign was just slow enough drawing her phaser to irritate her colleague.

Reluctantly, regrettably, infamously, the NCO Security officer deactivated the force field. "Hands behind your head and face the wall."

This was it then, his last moment of opportunity before he was cast into the deep well of obscurity, never to be seen again. That thought had resonated through Jumik’s being, accompanied by all the relevant emotional responses, and yet he resisted punching the wall or yelling pointlessly at the ceiling. There was little point in expressing his frustations outwardly, no, that demonstration of anger would only draw unnecessary attention. He chose calm serenity as a mask to the fury within.

Buried deeper, trapped within that second layer of imprisonment, Cal began to lose hope entirely. Fear spiked in memory only, adrenaline denied him. There were two ways that this transfer would go, and he had a strong sense that it would be his least favourable option. That worse case scenario motif persisted as Jumik exhaled harshly, but obeyed the order in spirit.

Hands behind his head, the prisoner obediently made the slow turn to face the far wall. He’d been here more than long enough to know exactly how many steps it took to walk from the forcefield to this point, and Jumik counted those made by the NCO. He listened closely, marking the man's progress aurally, and adjusted his own placement with tiny movements in an attempt to keep the intruder between him and the Ensign’s line of fire.

At the last but one position, when ‘Starfleet’ was within reach, yet not quite in place to apprehend him, the trap sprung. Jumik dropped into a crouch and deftly swept his left leg outward behind him hoping to ensnare his own target and fell the grey haired Security Officer.

"Chief!" the Ensign shouted. She watched him drop, but could do nothing since he had temporarily obscured the target from her line of fire. In the back of her mind, she recounted the multiple micro-errors over the past 12 hours of transport which had led to this situation, but in the moment she was unable to ponder them. All she could do was bark a command. "Drop your weapon!" Thinking better of it, she tapped her combadge to alert the pilot. "Lynch to Holden. Ziegler is down! I repeat, the prisoner--"

In her voice, the delicious echo of helplessness, the sweet promise of lingering, secondhand pain. Jumik remained in his crouched position and reached for the man he now knew to be called Ziegler. Well the man who had been. Cal's hands were gently placed on the Ziegler's skull, a coolly relaxed gesture that might have been kindess if it hadn't have been for the malice in those clear blue eyes. Jumik allowed Cal a brief look down at their victim before he raised his head and locked gazes with the young woman. It was then, in perfect synchrony with her last spoken word - the prisoner - that Jumik made a brief, swift twist of a motion and released his hold. That crunchy, bony click echoed for the tiniest of moments within the cell, an unmistakable end to a life.

"What's going on back here?" said the pilot called Holden. He poked his head into the cargo hold just in time to lose it.

With the shuttle depowered inside Overwatch Station's main bay, there was no way for the squad of Marines to know what had happened. They exercise due caution, of course: two Marines entered the shuttle while the other two maintained cover positions on the outside. When the two boarding Marines saw the empty cockpit, they raised their weapons with the lance corporal leveling an order in a harsh and firm voice: "Shuttle crew, present yourselves and be identified!"

Hearing the order, the two covering Marines on the flight deck raised their weapons, as well, and kept them pointed toward the shuttle's open hatch.

Jumik had a lockdown on Cal now, fully engaged in his glorious role of Deathbringer. Ziegler’s had come quickly. Lynch’s at the initial mercy of her dead partner’s phaser - stunned - which turned out to be far too boring. Her final whimper had been the reason for the pilot’s question, and her blood provided messy lines of warpaint that adorned Cal’s cheekbones when Jumik grabbed Holden by the throat.

It took surprisingly little effort to kill a human, the Lethean considered idly as he sat with those three corpses and waited for more people to play with. And his impatient vigil was relatively swiftly rewarded by the arrival of the best kind of entertainment. Trained enemies. A Military Option. Fuck, yeah.

With the thick red blood from Holden’s jugular coating his hands and soaked into his clothing, Jumik smiled. The shuttle crew had been far too easy. Mere underlings assigned a simple duty, one that they had so catastrophically failed to fulfil. Marines would be more fun. A moderate challenge at least.

Four souls inbound? Two on board the shuttle, armed and ready for anything. Or so they thought. Reality could, after all, be warped with hostile telepathic intent.

Jumik let them close in on his position some more, then picked up Holden’s still warm head and rolled it out into the corridor. That wasn’t what the two Marines saw however. Each saw his buddy’s head, helmet cracked open, bloody and ragged edges to the neck. As both turned to verify that the person to their flank was still their squadmate, each trooper’s brain lied and presented them with a fierce faced prisoner in darkly stained clothing.

It wasn’t what they heard either. Their ears told tales they didn’t want to hear. A prisoner armed with a bullpup rifle, which was raised in anger, a trigger pulled back… Shots fired.

And that was what the covering Marines reported into their comms. "Shots fired! Shots fired!" The two Marines approached the hatch to the shuttle from opposing 45 degree vectors. On the left, one Marine took a knee and aimed while the rightward Marine advanced slowly, assuming the role of the forward point man.

"Poe? Ortiz?" he called out, approaching the open hatch with extreme caution. "Make some noise, will ya?"

The silence was deafening. In the old days, he would clear the door and count on his training, but there were other tools available. Rather than step into unknown danger, he slung his phaser rifle over his shoulder and retrieved a tricorder. It would give him a confirmed headcount in there if nothing else. He was not going to take another step until he'd scanned for life-signs.

The tricorder couldn’t lie. The human brain, however, was a little more hackable. In Briggs’ mind’s eye upon reading the scans, there were two recorded life signs in his forward arc. They became almost immediately visible, moving slowly into view. Behind him, Torres’ shoulders tensed briefly, but he maintained his position and kept his sights squarely aimed to cover an average chest height.

It turned out to be a blood spattered Ortiz dragging Poe by the loop on the back of his harness, a trail of red marking their outward path. Poe groaned, Ortiz spoke, his rifle slung on its sling at his chest, his expression grim.

“We’re gonna need a medic,” he said. Then with a tilt of his head. “This was a dead or alive thing, right?”

Briggs swore, but his pulse slowed a little for seeing his brothers alive. It sky-rocketed a second later however as the tricorder announced a single bio-signature behind him. Footsteps thudded and a glimpse of a figure in prisoner overalls skirted from shadow into the light.

“The fuck is that even possible…” muttered Ortiz, but he raised his phaser rifle up even as Briggs turned to track the perceived motion. Torres kept his line of sight wider, shifting position so that he could still see the shuttle’s opening. Two guns, he figured, were already covering their rear and it paid to be cautious and cover their ass.

He died first. Jumik dropped Poe’s corpse to the ground, lifted his rifle and fired in one fluid motion that lasted a whole second or two. Torres fell sideways, and before his head hit the shuttle bay floor, Jumik dropped Briggs from behind. Back of the skull, quick and boring as deaths went, but efficient. He ditched the psionic mask and projected Ortiz make-believe then, scooped up Poe’s rifle as a spare and moved swiftly to grab the tricorder and any other readily available tech from Briggs.

In Ortiz’s armour and uniform, with two rifles and a sidearm, the tricorder slung at his waist and a trail of bodies in his wake, Jumik located the nearest Jeffries tube. A moment later, he disappeared into its temporary protection. He had no idea where he was - yet - but this was a base. A base with Marines and a definite secrecy theme.

Someone was bound to come looking real soon. It would be so much more fun if he could find some more of them first...

Due to the lockdown administered by Admiral Tau, Ferrofax was unable to intervene as he otherwise may have. However, there was nothing to prevent the red alert from sounding.


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