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Das Reboot

Posted on Thu Aug 10th, 2023 @ 5:26pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant JG Ryland Dedeker & Ensign Nandi Chakma & Commander Arianna Frost & Lieutenant Commander BaoJun Qiao & Lieutenant Commander Finley Chu & Lieutenant Calderon Jarsdel & Gunnery Sergeant Roderik Kos & Ferrofax & Lieutenant Commander Leonora Wolf MD & Lieutenant Teejay & Warrant Officer Laena ben-Avram

Mission: Season 1 Interlude II (E5.5)
Location: Shuttle / USS Phantom
Timeline: ID 6 - afternoon

It had taken some doing and no small bit of coordination, but transport from the surface of Risa to high orbit was secured. While Nandi and Cal had managed to get access to a shuttle, Fin had interrupted the getaway taken by Rodi and Bao. Back at the villa, Leah and Teejay had determined they were not dealing with an airborne contagion. That meant, so long as no one transmitted bodily fluids or maintained prolonged intimate contact, transmission was unlikely to spread.

And that was a good thing, too, since the shuttle was at maximum capacity. "Gonna' be a bumpy one!" Ryland called out as the tropical terrain faded into an obscure mesh of color.

Bao was not a happy science officer, though he was doing his best not to let it show. Given the unceremonious nature of Fin's pickup of himself and Rodi, he had not yet showered or made himself more presentable than throwing on the least dirty hiking gear he had been able to grab to preserve his modesty. The only saving grace was the smell seemed to garner him at least a little bit of extra space in the crowded shuttle. The biggest leash to controlling his annoyance was that, for once, from what little he had been able to get, Mrazak was not the one who had fucked up and caused the emergency. That was a small miracle. He resisted the urge to be extra catty but could not keep himself from calling to Ryland, "Is it ever not when you are driving, Dedeker?"

A near-hidden smirk appeared on Rodi's face, enjoying the attitude his partner threw at the pilot. It was a secret joy of Rodi to see Bao be snarky with the other officers. It was something Rodi wouldn't be able to get away with. So seeing someone else do it made it entertaining. He made himself a little more comfortable, shifting his weight a little. He had donned one of his three shirts, one of his two shorts, and the sturdy hiking boots. Nothing he was wearing was anywhere close to be considered clean, let alone proper attire, but he allowed himself to not be annoyed at it. He had been on shore leave after all.

"If you want to be the one to fly us Qiao, I'll give you my seat and order Mister Dedeker to let you take over." Fin called from the co-pilot's seat. She knew Ryland didn't need any defending, but she was thoroughly and deeply annoyed that her shore leave was once again cut short. She had signed up for a three day solo-sailing trip across the lagoons that had to be canceled.

"All I really want to do is survive long enough to work out whether I owe Sgt. Kos money or if he owes me," he said. Actually, that wasn't entirely true, since he'd actually rather still be half-naked in the woods but he imagined Rodi wouldn't be particularly happy with him if he said that.

Cal closed his eyes and let the myriad of other people's thoughts and emotions flow around and through him. Chaos into colours, noise into sound. His hand rested upon Nandi's when she offered him the option and he silently mourned for the lack of free time and recreation while letting the base-line ruffled erratically by everyone else even out.

"Akiva..." Laena said lowly. They were likely to be overheard, but it was a risk worth taking. She wanted him to know and wanted to know if he cared. His reaction to her joyous news was less than encouraging. "I tested negative for the infection."

That should have brought all kinds of joy for so many reasons. Yet Akiva remained stoic. "We'll have you checked out on the Phantom," Akiva said discreetly. "Just to be sure there are no... complications."

Laena stiffened at the mention of complications, but she gave a demure nod. "Yes... that's probably best."

Sitting quietly near Cal, it was a relief to Nandi that she did not have to actually pilot the shuttle. She resisted the urge to hold Cal's hand the entire time, as Captain ben-Avram had said shore leave was suspended. Now they were on duty. The parting squeeze would just have to do.

Duty or otherwise, Cal couldn't help but seek to comfort Nandi from time to time. A look, a touch, a brief connection to her mind rather than skipping through everyone else's... just tiny stolen moments that should have been so much more down on Risa. Typical really though, nothing good was ever expected to last for long. His gaze met Nandi's and he offered a subtle smile along with a lingering look and an impish wink. He could sense her relief easily enough, and their mutual frustration, but they were alive, they were healthy and uninfected and they had work to do. Personal conversations would keep til later and he had enough memories to keep that inner warm feeling burning when he chose to indulge his own self. In his self-inflicted silence, he rifled through the others' minds gently, seeking any unspoken mention of Khaiel, Jaya or Storr.

Despite her attempts to be professional, Nandi still gave him a whimsical smirk. She wasn't made of stone.

Leah and Teejay sat huddled together as far away from the others as they could. As much as it was apparent that the infection wasn't airborne, the two still stayed away. Primarily out of a modicum of paranoia, especially how the two of them had gotten infected to begin with, carelessness.

Shoulder to shoulder, head leaned against head, they tried to support each other as best as they could.

"Well, there's another symptom," Leah muttered with a grimace. "Motion sickness. You feeling it too?"

Teejay shook his head gently and very, very slowly. He didn't feel sick, just hopelessly uncomfortable. Every nerve ending seemed to have an itch attached to it, but with meditation and sheer stubborness, he resisted the ongoing need to scratch. Leah's voice broke that internal trance for a second or two and he let out a soft exhale of frustration and squeezed her hand tight. "I'm the rock in your ocean," he said, mustering up the ghost of a smile. "Hold on. We can do this." Determination. Stubbornness. Sheer force of will. "We. Can. Do. This." His whisper was no less potent in strength of character than a louder insistence might have been.

Awkwardly, Leah interlaced her hand with Teejay's and squeezed, hard. Or at least hard for a human, to Teejay it must have been normal. "We got this!" Leah said through an exhale, trying to calm her increasingly erratic stomach. Long, deep breaths. In, out, in, out. Wolf tried to focus on breathing and bolting down in the seat so she didn't move too much as the shuttle moved. She never used to be space sick before, so she assumed that it must have been a symptom of the infection.

"We got this," confirmed Teejay, voice quiet but infused with all the strength he wasn't currently using to crush that pale hand contained within his own. He focused inwards, splitting his attention between them both, himself and Leah. They were strong. They were down (ish), but definitely not out, and they were together. Whatever else happened around them, they were in this together. "It'll pass. We'll be us again," he added, a whisper low and warm close to Leah's ear.

Arianna was in the back with the others who were without seats. She was pouring through the data that Matija had sent to her personal wrist communicator. Jaya and Storr were still missing and Ari was getting worried for her friends, especially with the intel received from Matija. Khaiel too was still missing and Sophie. Although they at least had a way to find Sophie, through the shared dreams. Very meta and hardly believable but it was the best they had and she'd take it.

The implications behind Khaiel's disappearance bothered the most, however.

Inoculated and feeling as invincible as ever, Mrazak was at the helm, yelling into the communications console. "Phantom!"

"Smedley Butler," Ryland corrected. "Their masked registry is the USS Smedley Butler."

Mrazak glowered at Ryland but repeated the helmsman's advice. "Smedley Butler, this is Captain Mrazak. I order you to respond!"

"We're closing up on coordinates of where the Phantom should be," Ryland said.

"On screen." Mrazak furrowed his brow when he saw a Defiant class virtually adrift. "Scan for system failures, damage, something."

"This shuttle is not equipped with a full sensor suite," Ryland said. "All we can confirm is life signs and main power. Everything else is--"

Mrazak waved him off and began to leave the cockpit. "Yes, yes, thank you," he said dismissively while returning to the main group those who did not have seats were huddled almost shoulder to shoulder. "The ship still is not responsive, so either they have failed to reboot Ferrofax or doing so has not restored communications. We're going to perform a breaching action. I will upload my hardcode authorization before we make the attempt so the automated self-destruct isn't activated, but even so we will need to be swift. Do we have volunteers?" He scanned the team who looked rather displeased to be in their current predicament. "Don't make me choose."

"We should squawk 842 so they know it's us in case they can receive but not send." Arianna added, "we can get past SD, sure, but there's still crew there who can mow us down in seconds. If we can mitigate that, we should. That being said, I'll go with." She raised her hand to volunteer.

"So there is one," Mrazak said. As per usual, he did not volunteer himself, and so he stared down the rest like a pack of vermin, wondering who would be next. "You!" He pointed at Bao. "Assist Commander Frost in the breaching action. The rest of us will follow once you board and provide support for any potentially malfunctioning countermeasures."

Arianna fought the urge to roll her eyes at the less-than-leaderly act of Mrazak's. "Ryland, squawk 842 on a continuous loop!" She said as she headed over to the weapon's locker and tapped in the release code. She pulled out a rifle, battery pack and a hand phaser and performed a quick check of each with ease.

"Copy that, sweet cheeks," Ryland called back from the helm.

Bao looked Rodi. "Do you happen to have a phaser stashed in your underwear? I only packed knives and my dao. I would rather not be reduced to severing limbs should it come to it."

As an answer, a small type 1 phaser appeared in Rodi's hand from behind his back.

"I'll go," said Cal, simply and looked to Mrazak and Frost for confirmation.

Ari pulled out another two rifles at that, "Bao, Cal, you're up!" She said as she walked over and handed them each a rifle, then went back for their battery packs and hand phasers. "You two done a breach any time recently?"

"Want me to sit this one out then, Commander?" The Irish Marine asked as his boyfriend rose up besides him.

Ari looked down at Rodi with a raised eyebrow. "Considering you're a Marine, Sergeant, and the head of the Security Department, I would have expected you to be the first to volunteer. You didn't, so yeah, you can sit this one out." She replied as she handed Cal and Bao their battery packs and hand phasers.

Then she turned to the group, "alright everyone, game faces. We might be facing our own on the other side if they didn't catch our squawk, so grab a weapon and help the injured and sick out once we secure."

Without waiting, she turned to Cal and Bao, "alright, set to stun and let's go." She said and took her position near the door, phaser set on stun. To Mrazak, she said, "on your go, Captain."

Cal checked the rifle and hand phaser, inserted the battery packs and rechecked, then set to stun. He looked to the others, frowned at the wave of emotion emanating from Rodi, and then cast a confident look to Nandi before lining up with Frost.

With the breaching party assembled, Mrazak stepped into the airlock, input his command authorization, and then quickly ran back out. "Go, go, go!" he shouted as he passed the team.

On the other side of the shuttle's airlock docking collar, the sleek titanium dioxide hull paint of the Phantom almost glowed from the reflected light. The airlock hatch should have been a barely visible seam, lying flush to the hull bare molecules width from vacuum welding itself into a solid block. Instead, it was open, the hatch recessing and then sliding back into the hull to reveal the small confines of the personnel transfer airlock. What was not meant to be in the airlock was a medical tricorder, the rugged field design tested by Starfleet Marines using them as salt rocks when they got bitey. It was very obviously placed so its scanner was pointed at the interior of the shuttle. It did this by being placed on top of a small semi-transparent item.

A Mk.18 optical adaptive anti-personnel directional mine. The sort of things the Starfleet Marine Corp left in their wake like party favours, the broad face of the mine being home to a thousand compressed demi-osmium flechettes. Their inherent mass would keep the kill zone contain, but ensure each stamp sized blade would have a significant explosive impact on anything they hit. In the past this device would have been referred to as a Claymore.

SFMC called it the Cuisinart.

"This scan will be complete in 60 seconds," came a sardonic and somewhat distant voice, as though it was shouting from behind a corner. "In the meantime please consider amending your Form 550s if there has been a change in your religious status, or choice of final dispensation of your mortal remains. As this infection is not something I want coming onto my vessel."

Ferrofax was having too much fun with this.

Telepathy didn't work so well with AI, but Cal didn't need a direct window into Ferrofax's mind to feel unsettled by his words. "That sounds very much like a lethal response warning," Cal said, quietly, though he doubted volume made much of a difference. "Can we override from here?"

Ari closed the door back quickly. She then looked over at Cal, "do you sense any actual living people around in the direction of the voice?" Then she looked over at Mrazak and Bao. "Because I think we have Ferrofax back, albeit I don't know if this one has any hinges?"

"I do not," responded Cal simply, then followed Frost's directional gaze while maintaining an internal focus forwards in case he needed to update that initial evaluation.

"Ferrofax!" shouted Mrazak. Suddenly he was at the front of the line, ready to assume command of his ship. "Need I remind you I am the commanding officer of this ship? None of us are infected. And, if we are, I am carrying the antidote in my bloodstream. Kindly open the lekking door so we can get to the lab and synthesize more."

Akiva stepped forward. "Also, could you tell us what happened? We received word that NICK was somehow removed from the ship and have had no further contact with the skeleton crew."

Again, Ari looked over at Cal, grateful for the interference. Breaching a place with living people was one thing. She knew how to do that. Breaching a place against an potentially unhinged AI was all kinds of dangerous and unpredictable.

Cal nodded, but said nothing more for the moment. He was 'listening' too hard to the situation and the Phantom before them, reaching out into that space on the mental landscape for more information.

"We'll need to disarm that APM and do a safe disposal and sweep the ship for more. If he doesn't have his safety protocols up, he is one sick bastard, from what I read and we need to expect everything." Frost said with a sigh, "we're losing valuable time, our MIA's could be long dead or gone by the time we get around to it." She added under her breath, worry for Storr and Jaya mixed with frustration at this whole shoreleave.

One giant FUBAR it was.

"I suppose it's too much to ask if anyone happens to have any EOD training..." Mrazak groused, his old self returning.

"I could take a look at it." Rodi offered, standing right behind the gang of officers. He had casually walked behind the strike force, because a good SNCO knows that his officers are lost without him. Even senior officers are not to be left unsupervised while holding weapons.

Arianna nodded, "grab Fin to assist you if you need to." She re-adjusted her weapon. "Ferrofax! We have 3 MIA's, Colonel Garlake, Doctor Garlake and Ensign D'hikatsi as well as NICK. While I understand that you'd be happy to get rid of NICK, we need to find the others. If you're worried about infection we can treat Wolf and Teejay on the shuttle, but we need access to the ship to synthesize the cure out of Mrazak's bloodstream. Scan us and see..."

There are other ways into the Phantom Cal reminded Ari via less conventional conversational methods, his words sounding in her head. A couple of us could go around? Not foolproof, but division in the interest of conquering was a tried and tested tactic.

"I had it sorted." Mrazak threw Ari a seething side-eye glare. She had just undermined him to the AI. Just a bit longer, though, and he would be free of her and the others. "But, yes, we need aboard, Ferrofax, and in one piece. There is much to do and little time in which to do it."

"There's breach point through the landing strut framework that could work. But we've been made, so he's likely re-adjusted his tactic by now." Ari replied in her head to Cal, though she didn't know if he was still tuned in or not.

Arianna shrugged at Mrazak as he glared at her but said nothing. Ferrofax wouldn't care, nor did she. Mrazak was being petty in a stand-off moment - now was not the time to stoke that particular fire further. So instead, she waited quietly, observing, ready to act.

Rodi squated over the mine, glancing at the tricorder's datastream. He was in a fairly unique situation in this regard, he was intimately familiar with a medical tricorder and with the mines. With no physical connection to the mine, Rodi felt confident in his next course of action. He lifted the tricorder, pressed the disengage button on it, and folded it close. The small telltale light on the mine, the 'armed' signal, simply shut off.

At that moment Fin came running into the corridor as well. Rodi simply lifted his hand at the Fin. "Already resolved ma'am."

With the ordnance cleared, Mrazak stepped into the airlock, depressed the manual door access panel with his palm, and said, "Command authorization Mrazak-Tow'Lasha-Sigma-Upsilon-Kappa-2-Mu-Upsilon-2-Lambda-Eta-Kappa-4." Brow furrowed, eyes bulging, voice dropped deep in his chest, he then said, "Now open the lekking door."

Warbling reluctance heralded the shifting protocols that ended the emergency diagnostic mode and resumed standard operations. Mrazak took a few steps over the threshold and stopped. Hands on his hips, face unreadable, he took a deep breath and scanned the corridors. "So long," he whispered.

"I go on vacation and you let me have no fun," Ferrofax grumbled from a speaker somewhere in the corner of the airlock. The inner door whisked open. "Welcome back aboard, how was your own vacation? Sun? Sand? Mycelial STD's?"

Arianna let out a deep breath and turned the safeties back on her rifle and phaser. "Thank fuck..." she muttered and turned to Bao and Cal, signaling for them to do the same. "Alright, let's get things done, we have people to find and people to cure."

Past her walked Akiva and Laena, the latter slipping her hand inside of Akiva's as they made for the Infirmary.

"Everyone who needs medical attention to the Infirmary," Akiva announced, doing his best to avoid Ari's eyeline and not withdraw his hand from Laena's. He did so slowly, however, as he had cancelled shore leave and reactivated them all to duty. "All others can relieve the flight crew and take an assessment of shipboard operations. We'll convene in the meeting room at the top of the hour to reassess... the situation."

For once, Mrazak did not take umbrage at Akiva stepping on his command. Just what was going on with that Vulcan, Akiva pondered.


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