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The Fallen Queen Part 2

Posted on Sat Oct 28th, 2023 @ 8:28pm by Dr. Izriel "Jaxx" Lonn & Nollel Livaam (*)
Edited on on Mon Nov 13th, 2023 @ 11:06am

Mission: Fractures
Location: SS Mary Rose (derelict)
Timeline: 2424
2223 words - 4.4 OF Standard Post Measure

Nollel's heart raced as she finally emerged from the cramped Jeffries tube, her body trembling with fatigue as she collapsed onto the floor. The torch she had clenched between her teeth tumbled to the ground, casting flickering shadows in the pitch-black corridor. She spared a quick glance to ensure that the ship's doctor was closely behind her, shifting her position to allow him an easier exit.

Having spent a ridiculous amount of time navigating the labyrinthine network of Jeffries tubes, Nollel felt a wave of relief wash over her. The torches had proven to be a lifeline but she had feared they might give out and leave them trapped in the darkness. Deep within the ship, they had been on a mission to find a route to both Deck One and the bridge, but the ship's disarray mirrored their journey. Twice they had been forced to retrace their steps, searching for alternative paths in the tangled metallic maze.

Concern etched on her face, Nollel turned to the surgeon who had followed her, her voice laden with worry. "You okay?" she inquired, her eyes reflecting the exhaustion and determination that had defined their arduous journey through the innards of the ship. How long had it been since they had slept properly?

One of the benefits of being the kind of person who could fixate on a singular task for an extended period of time was that it became a skill easily transferrable to most warps of life. There was plenty about the journey that hadn't been pleasant, and certainly enough about the situation to provide ample opportunity for fretful concern, particularly over the fate of all those unaccounted for, but Izriel had managed to remain focused on the need to move swiftly, and safely, whilst cataloguing as much information as his busted-up tricorder could manage. With navigation squarely on Nollel's shoulders, he had busied himself with accumulating clues, though Jaxx had to admit they didn't amount to much when it was all said and done. Taking the time to stretch and roll out his shoulders, he squinted a little at the light swung in his direction and nodded. "We arrived in one piece. That was masterfully done." Admiration where admiration was due; she had done an astounding job of orienting herself in an environment that didn't offer a lot of landmarks.

Nollel was still lying on the floor as the man arrived and put the only sources of light down on the floor so she could try and work some feeling back into her body. “I am not just a pretty face.” She commented softly as she sat up finally. “But this is something we won’t be telling Michael about in any way. From us climbing or the sight of his baby.” She indicated the chaos around them on the ship.

"I don't think any of them would derive comfort from this. Rueben hardly needs more reason to overthink his movements." Turning slowly, holding the device in his hand aloft, Jaxx confirmed what the pair of them had already come to suspect. "No life signs. I'm not even reading much of a residual energy signature, I think it's been a while since the computer core retained enough power for emergency systems. We're lucky they managed to bring the ship down on a planet with breathable atmosphere." Slowly, he lowered the tricorder to stare at the shattered remains of the viewport, buried nose-deep into the dense shrub. "Some of them must have got out, surely. We would have found more remains by now."

Nollel shrugged. She had never known Gregnol to be the type to overthink his movements. She had thought him quite calm and concise but she was not a telepath nor an old friend so it was not something she could argue about. “The ship has a lot of automation it can run with a very small amount of crew.” Nollel commented. “It’s breathable for you but does the atmosphere not feel heavy to you?” She wondered glancing back to him.

"I'm trying not to think too much on it," Jaxx confessed, using the torchlight to examine the remains of the Bridge with his own eyes. Most of the helm was buried under the invasion of foliage already partially established, the huge gaps in the viewscreen having been more than adequate for allowing the outside world to commence its slow stranglehold of the area. Only Gregnol's seat remained somewhat upright, though weathering and what looked like fire damage had rendered it complete unfit for purpose. As the pale beam of light moved through the space, Jaxx followed it upward from the trail of debris across the decking to patches of discolouration on the walls and hesitated before slowly picking his way towards the closest one.

"Come take a look at this." He waited for Nollel before tracing a long streak of blackened, partially-melted fuselage with his torchlight. "It's too localised to be fire damage. I think this was caused by weapon's fire."

Whilst he might not have been thinking on it Nollel was able to think on anything else as it was hard to catch her breath after the climb. She definitely had done her leg and arms day all rolled into one. Nollel ran her hand along the operations console and saw that there was just a spark of something that might bring the console on enough to figure out what had happened. Nollel looked up as she heard his words and crossed to see what he was tracing. "What could have caused that onboard?"

"That depends greatly on who they were firing at." Unwelcome visitors, passengers gone rogue, or something far more mutinous. Izriel had only been on board a short while but found it difficult to believe that Gregnol would employ anyone of ill-repute, and even less likely that Jeassaho wouldn't have spoken up before things had reached the point of exchanged gunfire. If he had to guess, this was a matter of an unexpected boarding but that didn't do a lot to shed light on an already gloomy situation. "It's all over though." He turned to wave his light at the other patches of evidence. "They fought hard."

"Yeah..." The woman replied seeing a mark on the floor that would have been a pool of blood many years ago. "A long time ago." She added quietly as she stepped up the operations console and ran her hands across it to try and see if she could turn it on but the console flashed on but quickly turned off again. "Not enough power." She said sadly.

"We may need to give serious consideration to what our next moves are." As much as the mystery here, and the tragedy that clearly sat behind it, was a curiosity waiting to be resolved, it wasn't going to help them find fresh water or nutrition or a decent and safe place to sleep. Beyond that, it certainly wasn't going to help them get back to where they needed to be, or at least somewhere far more comfortable if that was going to prove to be impossible. "Staying put until we see some evidence of daylight will make navigation easier but if there's nothing left in the computer core to help provide answers, we may be best conserving energy for now." He glanced around. "We should try to get some rest."

Nollel nodded. She had plans for getting batteries to jump start the computer core but he was right it had to be getting close to their night schedule. “Let’s get into the Captain's study. There should be something in there we can rest on.” She surmised using her knowledge of the ship.

"You're the boss." The gentle jest was offered as a bolster, accompanied by a warm smile that likewise sought to minimise the anxiety looming. After their protracted journey, Jaxx was worried most about water supply, and without an immediate option for rectifying that, the next best option was to attempt sleep and reduce the physical strain until there was enough natural light to search in earnest. He swung a beam of light towards the exit. "Lead on."

The woman nodded. "That I am." She said trying to sound brighter than she felt. She had a lot of thoughts that were bubbling under the surface but she could not afford to be distracted by all those emotions. She needed to focus on the here and now and that was finding somewhere they could rest. She led the way back down the corridor to the Captain's study and was relieved that once they got the door open it was fairly intact apart from being dark again. "Gregnol has a sofa. You can rest for a bit and then I can." She offered.

Already conducting an initial sweep of the space to make sure it was secure, Jaxx squinted at the reverse gallantry and opted for no response at first. There would be time enough in a few minutes for a discussion over the pros and cons of standing sentry versus maintaining a decent body heat. They'd already been subjected to the intense cold for long enough, too much longer and they'd have to add hypothermia to the list of pressing concerns. He shuffled carefully, more out of habit than necessity since the room seemed to have been somewhat spared the destruction seen throughout the ship, and stopped a minute as his light traced a familiar scorch mark up the far wall. "More weapons fire."

Nollel whirled around from her initial sweep as he mentioned fire power and frowned as she moving to join her life to his. “What in the world happened?” She whispered mostly to herself wishing they had more light to see better. She had to admit she had never been scared of the dark but this was a completely different kind of dark that twisted and turned everything around them.

It wasn't a question they were finding any obvious answers to and Jaxx refrained from pointing it out yet again that nothing was likely to come to light whilst they were still trapped in such pervasive darkness. Lost in thought, retreating to the quiet solitude of introspection, he took a step forward to run his fingers against the scorch marks and stopped as his foot connected with something that rolled several times across the floor plating.

The whirl of electronic circuitry stopped him in his tracks.

Nollel turned around from running her light along the walls trying to work out the damage pattern as she heard the whirl and tried to track down its source. It was a familiar sound but she could not place it at all as she tried to find it.

It took a moment to register, difficult as it was to distinguish in the direct torchlight. It was only once he'd angled the beam slightly to the side that Izriel noticed the thin pierce of a laser's red precision bouncing off several surfaces as if searching for something. Rotational motors accompanied the movement, spinning with each tracked moment and, as the Betazoid realised with growing horror, the narrowing and expanding of a singular aperture. He had already unconsciously edged himself between the mysterious object and his companion, a piece of positioning Jaxx was immediately grateful for as he reached back his free hand in caution. "Don't come closer."

The eye socket, devoid of ocular implant, jerked in the direction of his voice.

Nollel was not one to be put off when someone was trying to stand in her way. She tried to look around the man to add her torch to the light to be able to make sense of what the noise was when her hand connected with his. "What is going on? Don't tell me..." She attempted to shift around him

"Nollel, don't...!"

The broken jaw, partially detached, jerked haphazardly as the stored energy reserves attempted to perform basic programming. The sightless socket spun once more, bereft of any symmetrical partner as the severed head was missing the top portion of its right side. The tangle of wires exposed at the throat, dangling uselessly now that the torso it was meant to be attached to was no where in easy sight, sparked as the central processing unit attempted to activate limbs that were no longer present. Resting against the floor, the damaged remains of a vocal processor crackled under the strain of a dying drone's final warning. We are... We are... We are...

Nollel let out a silent scream as she realised what it was as her light finally joined the man's to shine a light on the situation. Borg? The mechanical implants that had once merged with flesh were now exposed, wires and circuitry intertwined with pale, lifeless skin. Nollel's breath caught in his throat as he realized the magnitude of what had just occurred. "Borg..." She finally said it aloud as neither had said it yet.

"Back. We're leaving."

No food, no water, no weapons, no plan. No way was Izriel staying where there was even the slightest possibility that reactivation had triggered a retrieval force. Reaching forward, he grabbed Nollel by the hand, content to apologise later for his brusque insistence, and turned back towards the Bridge.

We are...

The world turned white.


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