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Darkness Stabbing - Part 2

Posted on Fri Jan 7th, 2022 @ 4:19pm by Chief Petty Officer Reggie Hawthorn & Ferrofax & Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant Commander Finley Chu & Lieutenant Sophie Xiong & Lieutenant Commander Leonora Wolf MD

Mission: S1E5: Symphony of Horror
Location: INS Demeter
Timeline: MD 2

Once aboard the shuttle, Mrazak took the helm personally while the others settled into their stations.

"Don't let anything happen to my ship, Mr. Dedeker," Mrazak intoned into the comm. "Initiating comm silence now. We'll see you on the other side. Try not to breathe hard while life support is offline."

A deft flick of his hand cut the channel before Ryland could respond. Evidently the unmannered pilot would be left playing home-guard for the Phantom while the shuttle was away.

As if Mrazak would turn off life support. Sophie rolled her eyes. Yes, Mrazak was heartless, but he wasn't a complete sociopath. She promptly ignored him.

"Moving to join the flotilla around the Demeter," Mrazak said aloud to no one in particular. He was, after all, the one in command. "Scans show Starfleet has already begun boarding. Let's join them."

After programming the shuttle to remain in position, Mrazak got up and headed toward the single-occupant transporter pad that could only beam over one person at a time. "Um," he paused for a moment as he weighed his options. Typically he never took point, but at the same time it would behoove him to be the first one to address any Starfleet personnel they might encounter. According to sensors, the security search appeared to be a peaceable one. "I'll go first. Yes, that would be appropriate."

Stepping onto the transporter pad, Mrazak allowed the auto-transport protocol beam him over.

"I wonder if he realises I don't answer to him?" Fin asked herself out loud as she saw the Vulcan disappear in blue sparkles.

"He doesn't see anyone but himself, old friend," Leah chuckled as she stepped onto the transporter pad next. "Remind you of anyone?" That said Leah disappeared in blue sparkles herself.

"All I know," said Sophie, stepping onto the padd, "is if he's still alive over there, I'm gonna kill him." And she too razzle-dazzled away.

Where there was empty air on the bridge soon filled with a pillar of blue energy that materialized into Mrazak. He looked around, taking in the bridge with a smug expression. What his eyes beheld, though, evoked a wide-eyed, slack-jawed shriek of terror.

The commanding officer of the INS Demeter was partially seated in the captain's chair while other parts of him were strewn about the deck. One grisly piece of unidentifiable appendage was in the bloody hands of Quaestor Blackwood who was gnawing it to the bone. That is, until he saw Mrazak appear.

"I am... Captain Mrazak... of Starfleet..." The introduction was far less confident than from the bridge of the Phantom. It came out as nearly a squeak. "Stand down..."

Blackwood let out a snarl. The gnarled pound of flesh dropped from his hand to the deck with a squishy thud. Where was Security?

"SECURITY!" Mrazak shrieked just as Blackwood lunged for him.

A phaser beam passed Mrazak's shoulder just in time to hit the wild Blackwood. "Captain, get out of the way!" Leah urged, firing another shot as she rematerialized behind Mrazak.

Sophie materialized into chaos. With a yelp, she ducked behind the nearest console and peeked out, but dared not fire her phaser. She was such a terrible shot, she was just as likely to hit one of her crewmates as she was the Corvan. "We should've brought some NOS-4-A-2!" she said. "Although I'm not sure that would actually have worked." She attempted to distract the Corvan by taking a shot at the Captain's chair. She hit what remained of the Captain instead of the chair, however, spraying a bit of blood onto the deck plating.

The lunge from a feral Blackwood onto Mrazak led to a tangle of Corvan and Vulcan limbs as the two rolled across the deck. Mrazak managed to end up on top, but received a bite in his arm for the effort. His head flew back as he cried out in pain. The shift in weight allowed Blackwood to throw him to the side and back into another tumble back the way they'd come. After a few rolls, Blackwood pinned Mrazak to the deck and bared his greenish-pink fangs as he prepared to go for the throat.

In a hoarse scream, Mrazak unfortunately had his mouth open when Leah's phaser blast sheered the Corvan's head clear off. Mrazak pushed the headless body off him and got to his knees as he helplessly pawed at his tongue to remove the foreign biomatter from his mouth.

"What the blazes happened over here?!" he yelled through his fingers.

"I'm no forensics expert," snarked Sophie, crawling out of her hiding place, "but it would appear that the Corvan malfunctioned and killed the Captain. And... and ate part of him." She willed herself not to be sick. She would not throw up. She flat-out refused.

"I can see that!" Mrazak said. "But what about the Security teams? This ship was disabled and under search for--" He brushed his hand over the bite mark on his arm and let out a yelp.

There was that familiar anis seed smell again. Leah shook her head, "Sophie, we need to find a med kit of some sort, unless they are masochists, this Bridge should have one somewhere." The norwegian said as she tore at her sleeve and reached over to Mrazak to help him with his injury.

Meanwhile, Sophie began searching for a medkit. Nothing was hiding under any of the chairs or in any corners and she soon began looking in increasingly unlikely places.

Having secured the shuttle in a stationkeeping position, Fin beamed over last. In quiet astonishment she looked around the bridge. "So... we missed the party?"

"Party?" Mrazak gestured to the gory remains of the Demeter's bridge crew. "Is this the kind of parties you attend, Commander? We need to figure out what happened here, preferably without getting bit again."

"Bit again?" Fin asked, ignoring the rebuke to glance at Mrazak's bandaged arm. She then looked around again and pulled out her tricorder to run a general sweep of the bridge.

"What happens when someone is bit by a Corvan?" Sophie asked irritably as she pried open a panel in a desperate search for a medkit. "I think they're masochists," she commented to Leah. "Why didn't we bring a med kit with us?"

"Same thing happens as when anything else bites someone," Mrazak said. "They bleed! The mission briefing was very clear that Dhampirism afflicts only the Corvans due to their adaptive response to prolonged exposure to the unique environmental hazards of the Corvan homeworld." His face hide a concern that he had not yet expressed. "Now let's figure out the exact timeframe of when all these Corvans went feral. It would appear to be rather accelerated, unless they were hiding the outbreak during our lunar survey and subsequent space battle." His use of the word "outbreak" for something specifically defined as noncontagious was a curious choice of words.

"I think they stumbled upon it sooner, but maybe not realized it." Leah added as she bandaged Mrazak's wound as best as she could. "I did an autopsy just before the event hit, the brain smelled like aniseed, just the smell that's in the air now. Corvan's don't usually smell like aniseed unless they are in the latest stages of the transition and in dire need of Nosferatu."

Wolf pulled out her tricorder, recalibrated it for a moment and scanned Mrazak's wound.

The staccato of beeps from the tricorder made Mrazak's brow furrow in alarm. "Give me that!" Mrazak snatched the tricorder away and looked over the scans himself. After careful review, Mrazak calmly handed the tricorder back. "Commander. Commander. Lieutenant. Anybody. I need someone to kindly phaser the bite wound on my arm. Immediately, if you please."

Sophie, however, ignored him. She had glanced at a nearby console and what she saw had made her do a double take. And then she had studied it more closely. It was internal sensors and what it was currently showing was troubling. “Guys?” she said, sounding nervous for the first time since any of them had known her. “I can’t be sure, but… it looks like there are a lot of Corvans on board. And some Starfleet personnel….” She trailed off, not really wanting to say what she suspected from the scans.

Leonora had grabbed her phaser and was adjusting the setting, "this will hurt, a lot." She said and without waiting she pressed the firing button.

Flipping over the body of a fellow Starfleet officer revealed the pale skin found on Corvans. There were even small fangs peaking out from between their lips. Fin looked puzzled and worried. "There aren't any Corvans serving in Starfleet, right?"

"I know of one," replied Sophie, sounding even more nervous now. "But she's the only one. Or was three years ago. She was very proud of that."

"Yes, Lieutenant Glori Hawthorn. She was included in the briefing." Mrazak had went from grunting to wheezing in pain at the phaser wound. "Based on her biometric data, Starfleet was able to verify the proprietary data from Pathos BioMed. Corvan Hemophagia is not contagious...yet... tricorder scans of the bite wound on my arm reflected autolytic process caused by introduction of Corvan microbial agents. Hopefully the cauterization will prevent infection, but I must insist on immediate medical attention one way or another. I could return to the Phantom, perhaps, while the rest of you allocate system data from this ship..."

Leah looked up at Mrazak with a look of, 'you coward', but she said nothing. Instead she took the tricorder from his other hand and scanned the wound again. "Stopgap measure for sure. I don't think returning to the Phantom is a good idea for you. If you turn, there is an unacceptable risk towards the Phantom crew and the ship itself. It's quarantine 101. We'll keep an eye on you and we promise to kill you should you go vampy on us. Alright?"

"Vampy?" Mrazak's eyes shot wide in horror. He wasn't sure what that meant, but it couldn't be good. "To Sickbay then!"

"Leah, any guesses as to the chance we can return the Demeter crew to a state of sapience? I'd rather not have to shoot anybody that turned 'Vampy' if it could be reversed," Fin asked as she eyed Mrazak.

"Less talking, more walking!" Mrazak ordered as he darted for the turbolift. "We haven't a moment to lose! Stop only to shoot anything that isn't us!"

A dull hum arose from the turbolift, followed by a pleasant committee-approved 'bing'. 'You have arrived at your destination.' A pleasant voice decreed as the doors parted...and Reggie stepped out carrying a large cylinder the size of a fire extinguisher.

"...Why you all looking at me all funny like?" he asked, frowning. "confinement beam glitched and beamed me into the deck above. Empty as sin up there, but sorry for pulling up the rear. Had to help someone get into his carry case."

He turned the cylinder slightly, revealing a universal data port and a crudely daubed smiley face, except the smiley face had angry upward eyebrows and a lot of teeth.

"If you drop me," came the acidic voice of Ferrofax from the cylinder. "There will be no hole in which you can hide from me."

Leah guided Mrazak out, "it's hard to tell without a look at the hard data whether or not anything can be reversed. It'd depend on how long someone's been exposed, their species' biosystems et cetera. Fin, can you take point? Sophie cover our back, Reggie don't piss off Ferrofax. Let's move guys, we're on a timer."

All at once, Leah felt as she was back in command of Delphi and her heart ached a bit at the though but she quickly shook it off, focusing on the current crisis they had found themselves in as the small cadre rushed towards Sickbay.

"Excuse you, but I'm in command here!" Mrazak protested. The outburst made him wince, though, as the spike in blood pressure which usually made his forehead vein bulge also brought a crippling throb to his bite wound. "But, yes, do as she said."

"That's still surprising to me." Fin answered before nodding to Leah. Phaser in one hand, tricorder in the other she lead the way.

There were only a handful of feral Corvans between the turbolift and the Demeter's sickbay, which were put down easily enough. Mrazak marched on undeterred. Tricorder readings were inconclusive, and with unknown biologics that was a huge problem. Until they got to Sickbay, he could be dying and not even know it.

"We're here," Mrazak said. "I want everyone to go in first and secure the room. Look for any friendly personnel and unsecured terminals. Link Ferrofax's unit to anything that has an open port or signal. We need answers." His voice dropped low with manic intensity. "Immediate answers."

There was a very potent stench of anise seed and death in the room. It made Leah look around briefly before she focused back on securing the room.

A klingon body lay on a bio bed in the back of the bay, torso split open, skull as well. The skin seemed to have a hard, crackled sheen to it. A sign of freezing in the depth of space, then being defrosted. The pool of diluted blood below the corpse spoke to the truth of the fact.

Leah helped Fin and Sophie secure the room before she stepped over to the body. On visual inspection, another quite glaring thing to note was the blood around the klingon's mouth. Wolf reached out to move the lip but stopped herself millimeters from doing so.

There were bits of flesh poking just underneath the lip. The Norwegian looked around for something to protect her hands with and sighed with relief as she found gloves. Quickly putting them on, and a set of goggles that lay on a nearby tray table, which miraculously weren't coated with blood and viscera, Leah returned to examining the corpse.

Pushing down with her fingers, Leah moved the thick lips to expose the teeth, which were coated with a thick, viscous liquid.

"Coagulated blood..." Wolf deduced.

It wasn't Klingon from what she could tell, the color was wrong. Too light pink. The source seemed to be the bits of flesh still clinging to the sharp teeth. A dark-gray hue, very familiar. High anise seed smell.

Leah took off one glove and brought up her tricorder again to scan for the blood type.

"I need to analyze the Klingon's blood, but I can tell that he bit a Corvan," said Leah as she set the tricorder aside and picked up what she assumed to be a sample extractor and pressed it to the Klingon's neck after re-gloving.

She looked around the room briefly, trying to locate a sample analysis unit. It had been a while since she'd practiced any form of medicine on a starship.

"Gotcha," she muttered before stepping over to the unit and putting the sample in and setting a diagnosis to run.

Meanwhile in the background, a running sardonic voice grumbled from a canister. " know what maybe if you tried putting the cable into the port a seventh time it'll fit. Also you are jostling me! Are you sure you're an engineer? I've looked at your file you know, there's a moon in the Delta Quadrant that got smashed in two because of that runabout you launched into it at warp speed-STOP! Don't move that hand you've got it in."

A few of the computer terminals flickered on, their interfaces bickering between the pastel and smooth INS user interface and the blocky made-by-committee LCAR's of Starfleet.

"...Nothing in this one," Ferrofax grumbled as Reggie unhooked the connector and went to the next dataport. "Let's try and get this connection on the first try. After all it's a universal adapter so failing several ti-"

"I built a mute button," Reggie said as he flicked a switch on the side of the canister. "Daystrom can keep their prize."

Sophie afforded Reggie a genuine smile. “You’re a genius,” she said. “But we’d better work out how to get him into the system or we’ll never hear the end of it. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it up to here-“ she placed her hand, palm facing downward, just under her nose, “- with him.”

Fin looked at the floating head of a Corvan that was kept in a containment cannister. It had its lips pulled back to reveal the teeth. "That's a bit Frankenstein..." she muttered to herself as she walked in further towards the office of the person who ran this lab/clinic. She keyed the desk-bound terminal, but it popped up with a security lock on it. Keying a few buttons on her tricorder ran a suite of tools designed to override security features. It took a long moment before it broke the encryption and granted Fin access.

A large collection of logs and notes were present on the terminal. A lot of it was about their studies into why the medicine seemed to become less effective. Fin keyed one of the most recent entries and quickly scanned it. She didn't understand most of it until the word Klingon appeared in the text. She picked up the desk terminal and stepped towards Leah with her prize.

"We're getting warmer," Ferrofax chided from a console, Reggie frowning as he reached to pull the data link out of it. "Don't you dare touch that! There is actual live encryption on this terminal that's actively resisting my efforts to crack it. It is also the only terminal you've connected me to with a modicum of connectivity to other ships systems such as internal sensors."

A scrapping sound echoed dully through the dead air, followed by a rising, animal howl.

"Good news, in approximately five minutes all contacts on those internal sensors will be here," Ferrofax stated.

"Someone go find out what made that noise," Mrazak said. "I'll stay right here while Commander Cassandra confirms that my wound is not terminal."

"How about we return to the shuttle instead? The Demeter is not going any where any time soon. If we need we can have a bunch of heavily armed marines board and clear the place for us." Fin countered.

Mrazak grabbed the nearest medical tray and slammed it to the ground. "We are not leaving until I get a clean bill of health!" The look on his face was near feral enough. "Now go make sure we are not about to get overrun by those things!"

"Lieutenant Xiong, Chief Hawthorne, please lock down the doors." Fin's eyes met both commissioned and non-commissioned officer's eyes before shifting back to Vulcan. "Captain Mrazak needs his clean bill of health right now or he'll throw another tantrum."

"Well this is fuun..." Leah said as a new set of readouts appeared on the panel, "Fin, this definitely correlates to the data you found. This big fella has been, for the lack of a better term, infected with a modified strain of the virus. One that has the right vectors to jump species and he's already done so."

Then Mrazak and Fin's words filtered through, "okay, we need to find their Nosferatu storage." She said more to Fin than anyone else. Then to Mrazak, "I need to look at your blood, Captain."

Hand held up in demanding fury, Mrazak said, "Wait a minute. You've confirmed the existence of a virulent Corvan pathogen that is resistant to medication and that it has mutated to achieve virulence in non-endemic lifeforms?" His eyes blazed with furious terror. "Take it! Take the blood!" He rolled up his sleeve to the bicep and extended his arm. "And get me that accursed NOS-4-A2!" Though he muttered to himself, "if it still even works..."

Around that time, tumultuous sounds of pounding fists and hissing teeth came from the other side of the Sickbay doors. The automated Sickbay defenses came online, signaling danger in the corridor. Maglocks hummed and clicked into place.

Fin tapped her combadge. "Chu to shuttlecraft. Lock transports on the away team and transport us to the shuttle on my mark." A pleasant chirp answered, followed by the familiar Starfleet Computer voice. "Transporter locks confirmed." A loud bang drew Fin's attention to the door. "Right, so we have a way out. Let's find the NOS and beam back. The Phantom sickbay is as suited to checking the captain as this place is." Fin stepped over to some cupboards near the Klingon that were still closed and popped the first one open.

"Not until we confirm the Captain is not infected," Leah added as she grabbed what she believed to be an extractor and pressed it against Mrazak's vein, blood beginning to seep inside instantly. "We cannot risk a quarantine breach." The Norwegian said resolutely as she took the extracted blood to what she hoped was the analysis unit.

There was too much guesswork involved, but beggars couldn't be choosers at this moment. So Leah used her tricorder to confirm that what she was doing was correct and initiated an analysis after putting the blood vial inside the unit.

"It shouldn't take long, since we know the vectors we are looking for," she said, her eyes glued to the readouts.

"Leah, you're my friend so don't take this the wrong way. But I'm not dying on this ship of horror when I have a perfectly fine shuttle that we can maintain quarantine on." Fin's phaser was in her hand and trained at the nearest door. "Do the tests, but if these doors crack open I'm beaming us out."

“Can’t we just beam him-“ Sophie nodded at Mrazak “-directly to a quarantine field and check him over there? Seems like it would be safer for everyone.”

"Stop using arguments that won't work with me and let me work!" Leah countered, her eyes still glued to the screen.

Almost there, almost there...

"Got it!" Wolf then exclaimed, "Captain, you're clear..." she quickly downloaded the data. "Do we have the Nosferatu?"

Mrazak felt a thrill of hope reserved for a mission accomplished. "Ferrofax? You've been installed to the ship, right? Tell me you found the data!"

"I have everything and the back up copies to prove it, now let's hustle: I do not like being in a centralised storage device, makes me feel too much like you carbon-based meat puppets," Ferrofax grumbled.

“NOS4A2!” declared Sophie- who had spent the last several seconds pawing through cupboards- as she held up the bottle triumphantly. “Now can we get out of here already?

"That's it, let's go!" Leah said, stepping over to Mrazak and Fin.

"Chu to Shuttlecraft, execute transport." The order was given, the team dematerialised into energy, and whisked away to the relative safety of the tight confines of the shuttle.


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