USS Adelphi


Previous Next

Post 25 - They Came in the Night

Posted on Sun Jan 10th, 2021 @ 12:46am by Lieutenant Timmoz & Lieutenant JG Tovan Astril & Ensign Sheldon Parsons

Mission: Episode 2 - The Next Phage
Location: Encampment; the Runabout's remains

The world swam in a disconnected light, a numb feeling that was nonetheless floating. At first it felt like a dream- a tepid warmth and a breeze. Timmoz was scanning over an endless sea. His mind told him it was Botchok, yet it looked like no place he'd seen on it. But he didn't put together that it was the frothy, rippling gray sea off the coast of San Francisco. He was distracted but when he looked up, the sea swelled horizon to horizon. He just had the moment of terror: Timmoz watched as a massive, bulging tsunami rushed at him, hit him and flung him through the air.

He landed, bracing to plunge into the water. He sat straight up with a gasp. His arms felt languid and heavy and for a moment, the Orion wasn't sure his legs were there. Then there was the pain- it felt like a light burn, the first-degree variety across the center of his chest.

Timmoz squinted, vision blurred but fixing on Tov and Parsons.

A brightness encompassed Tov, every sense and nerve ending was on fire. A hundred thousand thoughts burned through his mind, and yet it felt utterly empty, devoid of anything aside from the fire. The pain subsided enough for Tov to find that he could hear a massive ringing in his ears. After a time his sight began to return, and the fire subsided to only extremely painful rather than mind-numbing. His instincts screamed at him to get up, but try as he might he only flopped bonelessly on the ground, digging furrows with his boots as he tried to stand. Sometime later he understood what he was doing, and took a breath to steady himself as he pushed himself to his knees. His arms felt like he'd done hundreds of pushups, and his abdomen hadn't quite stopped clenching just yet. He looked around and saw Timmoz coming around, then Parsons on the other side.

'Parsons...Timmoz...where are Sora'a and Isan...' If Timmoz and Parsons were able to think at all clearly, it would seem as if Tov spoke directly into their minds. His own mouth was agape as he looked over the scene. 'Charred casing there...grenade?' He continued to think out loud, telepathically, likely not even realizing he was doing it just yet. He crawled over to the casing, not trusting himself to stand just yet, and looked it over. 'Pulse emitter, some form of spent battery...stun grenade?' Based on how he was feeling, it felt like the right answer, but Tov had no memory. They must have gotten them by surprise, Tov must have actually fallen asleep. Shame surged through him, and he fell from his knees to land on his hip, jarring it painfully on a rock. 'Whoever took them is going to wish they'd killed me...' Tov vowed over his open mental talking but trailed off as his instincts brought his mental walls up. There was a darkness in his eyes that had nothing to do with the natural pigment of Betazoid eyes.

"Is anyone going to ask the obvious question?" came Parsons' voice, quiet in the night. He sounded groggy and discombobulated as he rose into a sitting position, rubbing gingerly at the place where he'd been hit by...whatever it was that had incapacitated them. "Why are we still here? They could have taken all of us. Or harvested us, if they didn't want to bring us along. So please tell me why we're in one piece, waking up in the aftermath? Oh, and let's talk out loud please," his voice developed an edge. "Having you inside my head is disconcerting as hell," he grumbled from the moonlit-dappled darkness.

"Taken," Timmoz had begun to say when Parsons interjected. The Engineer posed the right questions: why hadn't they been taken? The predator within Timmoz uncurled like a smoky serpent. "We're being hunted," Timmoz growled in a low tone, his Cluros smile a smirk. "They're taking us by their need. They know we're trapped and we can't go anywhere. They shot down our means of escape." Timmoz reached for and picked up his weapon. The lights were on. That meant they were out of dampening range.

Timmoz stared into the darkness of the jungle. His thoughts- blatant to the telepath- mirrored Tov's. Flashes of scarred and tattooed faces sneering from shadowy cover; a sensory pulse of ice-cold hands holding a weapon. Blowing on fingers to keep them warm. Fumbling a kill setting on a weapon whilst feeling terror he could not express. Timmoz had been hunted before. He glanced at Tov. "Is anyone else tired of being the gazelle?" Timmoz looked at his phaser- and turned up the setting. The light switched from green to yellow, to one mark of red.

"Pack your things, we're moving out," the Orion said simply. He turned and fired his phaser at a tree. He sustained it with a narrowed eye until the tree burst into flames. The flames began to climb, searing hot, up the trunk. He turned and did the same to another tree. "Even predators are afraid of fire." Timmoz moved for his pack and secured an undershirt to tie across his mouth.

Tov's head tilted in a nearly mechanical way when parsons asked him to stay out of his head. He looked at the young engineer and nodded, his normally expressive face devoid of emotion. When Timmoz said they were being hunted, Tov thought that over for a moment and nodded. The motion was only the amount required to move the head just enough to get the idea across that he agreed. It took a minute more before Tov tried to speak, his thoughts now silent to those around him.

"Y..." Tov's throat hurt like he'd not used it in a long time. He then noticed that nearly every muscle in his body was tensed, and he took a moment to coax them into relaxation. "Ahem, yes. We can't let ourselves be herded and taken apart piecemeal. I should have figured this out earlier..." He shook his head, not focusing on his recent failure to keep their team together. There was enough time for that in the follow-up reports if they made it back. "Good thinking." Tov looked up at the smoke, saw the way the wind was pushing it. He turned slightly, his movements less mechanical, and raised his rifle to his shoulder. He fired a beam long enough to start a couple more trees ablaze, then stopped.

"Parsons, what happens next is going to be the cause of some psychological trauma for you. If you are lucky you'll be able to work through it with a counselor and be alright. Otherwise, you'll end up like us. Either way, you will get out of this alive." Tov looked at the gear they had with them as he hoisted his pack onto his back and hid his face like Timmoz had, to keep out the smoke.

"We need to move quickly, the wind isn't strong, but the way the trees are packed the fire is going to burn strong. If we keep just inside its burn our tracks will be covered for us. Can either of you get a pinpoint on the shuttle from here, we'll want to plan our ambush along the route between it and here. It would be our logical next place to go."

Parsons couldn't believe what he was seeing. In the fiery flow of the spreading flames, a look of abject horror spread across his face. "This...this is not Starfleet!" he complained, staring aghast first at the damage wrought by Timmoz's phaser and then at Astril's. "What about all the animal life here? What if there's a cure to some rare disease in these trees? I can't believe...are we really..." But then Astril was talking about the need for future counseling and the thought of more sessions with Karim shut the young engineer up. That was almost more sobering than seeing the forest fire the Away Team had been responsible for starting.

Since he'd not been ordered to, Parsons refrained from joining in on the act of burning down the forest. However, with their equipment once again working, he did pull out his tricorder and began to scan the surrounding area. It didn't take long to get a fix on the runabout's position and a vague directional of the jungle complex. "Here," he said, activating the device's holographic projector. "This should help," Parsons pointed to a spot in front of him. The route hung in mid-air there, glowing in a grid-line form that sputtered a few times as if on the verge of failing. He took a deep breath and kept his gaze focused on the map, moving with the group and trying to ignore the fires now blossoming all around them.

"Let's get moving," Timmoz signaled. He finished lighting up a third and fourth tree spaced enough that the fire would spread. Timmoz glanced at Parsons' and his protests but said nothing more about them. Instead, he looked to Tov, "Let's start scouting a good location for an ambush as well. Parsons, watch for Vidiian life signs."

"The forest will grow back, fires do not permanently destroy an ecosystem like this. Right now my responsibility is keeping you two alive, it's why we have Hazard Teams." Tov spoke softly to Parsons, a small semblance of his normal self returning, though the face that usually held a smile was still blank as a stone wall. He looked at Timmoz and nodded, slipping into the lead slightly as he scanned about with both eyes and mind. The landscape opened up to him, he felt animals in panic and pushed those mind spaces to the periphery of his awareness.

They walked a few minutes before they came to an outcropping of rock that loomed up to treetop level, with a deep space beneath it. Tov stepped into the shadow of the outcropping and looked toward the shuttle. Tov could feel organized minds at the edge of his awareness from that direction. Not wanting to alert the Vidiians that a telepath was there, he chose not to dig into their minds.

"Parsons, I get that this seems pretty extreme to you. Your life and training haven't covered situations like this." There was absolutely no judgment in his voice, though maybe a hint of wistful jealousy. "Under this outcropping, you will be safe from the flames, the edge of it above seems to have kept the vegetation less dense near it. There aren't any animals I can sense down underneath it. You and the gear get down there, as far as you can stand. Stay hidden until Timmoz or I tell you it's safe."

Tov turned to Timmoz, then. "You play sniper, I get in close?" It was a question because Tov didn't know Timmoz's skills well enough. The Betazoid glanced at the top of the outcropping, then made a hand motion pointing toward the shuttle. "They're going to come this way, and likely pass within a hundred yards of this outcropping. We should wait until they close in, one gets among them before opening fire, keep our element of surprise if we can." He didn't say anything about settings, he was going to incapacitate if he could, but also couldn't dredge up any rebuke if the Orion had other ideas. More than Tov's professional pride had been hurt, he had been careless, his charges taken, and himself left to be hunted later.

Timmoz handed Parsons a phaser, his look one of patient wryness, "Use this on yourself if we die. You don't want to be cut up for parts by these Vand-qamiloi. Timmoz's nod at Tov's plan about their positioning was silent- though he pulled a long and tapering, Stiletto-like dagger with a kukri-like wave from under his pants along his thigh. He checked the settings of his phaser. "Let's go," he said with a nod to Tov. "We need at least one alive, maybe two," Timmoz stated to Tov.

The Orion's green skin quickly meshed with the foliage, dense and primordial, save that his uniform was still a dirty red and black. He'd removed his pips and badge to avoid the glint of metal on any dappling of sunlight. The instincts of the Orion species- as old as they were- quickly fell into place.

Humans were endurance predators. Orions descended from ambushers. There was a reason their females moved with such eerie grace, such hypnotism- and apparently, so did their males. Timmoz tracked forward, one double set of his canines born in a sneer of concentration.

Timmoz nodded at Tov when they spotted their first quarry- two Vidiians with what looked like fire suppression gear. That would be the vanguard... Timmoz thought. He looked at Tov and presented his arm. In code he tapped out on his arm using his fingers, I left 2 flank. U hold, I fire, u go.

Tov nodded then turned to where the Vidiians were coming from and focused. He pulled down the walls he kept up, but rather than pulling the thoughts in the air to him, he pushed them away. He focused on being the least interesting thing in the area, on being overlooked as something humdrum, something so ordinary as to not even be worth making a note of. He focused on not being seen.

'See me not.' Tov pushed out into the world. It wasn't invisibility like a Dominion shroud, but it was an art that had been used in the wars of millennia past on Betazed. He also utilized common sense in that he went prone on the ground behind cover. The best way to seem unnotable was to be unnotable. Timmoz had signed that he would fire first, so Tov had no need to watch.

As the operation suddenly began to unfold, Parsons was still staring down at the phaser Timmoz had thrust into his hand. Use it on himself? The idea of taking his own life to avoid becoming the Vidiians' next organ bank was not at all appealing, though the alternative was even less so. But even with that being the case, the young engineer was not keen for either situation to become reality. Adjusting his grip on said phaser, Parsons crouched and prepared himself to fire when the proper opportunity arose.

Tov pushed off of the ground and altered the focus of his mind. His hands sought the blades sheathed on his body, and as he pulled them out in reversed grips, blades lain along his forearms, he shaped his mind into a blade as well. Despite their similarities, humanoids were far from uniform. Their minds reacted differently to different stimuli, some could be read, while others were closed to telepaths. Many similarities, however, existed. Optical nerves, sending visual signals to the brain, worked largely the same from species to species, so long as they had eyes.

The first Vidiian he saw that was standing, he struck out with his mind. A mental blade struck at the optical signals. He couldn't permanently blind someone, but his mind could send enough noise that it would overload for a short time. That Vidiian cried out, and as Tov neared him, he struck out with the pommel of his left hand knife, striking at the base of the neck. The Vidiian went limp and collapsed, still alive most likely, but out of the fight for now.

In the background, the first bolt of phased red-orange struck. And struck again: Timmoz was a believer in the double-tap. The Vidiian lurched at the first and twisted, the second bolt passing with diffused light in the chest. He crumpled, drooling sputtering out of flabby lips not meant for his face. Green fingers moved and snatched the Vidiian scanner-weapon at their waist.

Tov moved methodically, using his mind as a weapon, sensing the thoughts of those around him just enough to get an insight into actions and reactions, so he could move accordingly. He struck out with his mind only when he was in a disadvantaged place, otherwise using his elbows, knees, feet, and hands to strike. His goal was to keep his blades clean as long as possible, but he would use them if pressed with no other options.

Parsons, meanwhile, fell back on his training. Despite the forest fire that was beginning to rage around them now, the engineer snuck forward in a short burst of crouch-jogging. Where Timmoz and Tov were whirling dervishes of up-close-and-personal battle tactics, Parsons himself stayed back, assuming an advantageous position for ranged attacks. He raised his phaser now and then, aiming to take Vidiians out of the fight outright but settling for flushing them out of their positions as well. He saw the whole thing rather like a game of chess: if he could not take a piece directly, Parsons would manipulate the board with his phaser to set up successful avenues of attack for the other pieces moving on his side.

Timmoz fought like an Orion. He fought like his Dalat taught him. The Orion didn't have the bulk of a The Bull Tatharoqi but had all the pragmatism. While Tov consumed the center, Timmoz was indeed the chaos on the rim. A lance of phaser and then a brief appearance, fleeting and mobile, for the second. When Timmoz came to be locked down, forced into grappling, Kaollic's brutal lessons came to mind: Honor was for Klingons.

With a nasty sneer that bore canines, Timmoz fingered for the Vidiian to come at him, "I'm right here, Skinchanger... if you want these guts, you'll have to take them." They exchanged blows and when the Vidiian thought he had the upper hand in a hammerlock, Timmoz twisted his lanky arm behind and shot the Vidiian straight through the side. With a cry in his ear and a tension stiff then slack on his arm, Timmoz pivoted, put the phaser nozzle under the scaly chin of the Vidiian, and smirked. He pulled the trigger. Eyes rolled into the back of the Vidiian's head.

As the battle continued to play out, Parsons saw Astril as rather like a Rook. The Betazed seemed to swiftly move forward and back, then side-to-side in an effort to hem and pin opposing pieces with his sharp blades. Timmoz, on the other hand, was more like a Queen. The verdant Lieutenant seemed much more chaotic with his moves, shifting in all directions -- unrestrained by the conventions of rules. Parsons himself was much like a Bishop, running forward on the diagonals opened up by the Queen and the Rook to take up a new sniping position. As all three pieces continued pressing their attack -- moving forward to encounter and disable other discovered members of the group -- the Vidiians lost piece after piece of their own until, finally, the checkmate had been firmly cemented.

Tov stood there, his face utterly impassive, though he drew breaths with the whole of his chest, and sweat streamed freely over cuts and bruises along his face and neck. He looked around and grabbed a blade he'd dropped. It hadn't remained clean like he'd hoped, but he'd done his best. He wiped it off and sheathed it. The other had been sheathed when the fighting was over, Tov was taking a moment to find a balance that wasn't violence. He turned to Timmoz and Parsons as they approached and nodded.

"We should get to the shuttle, we should have some time before they miss this group..." he said, following up to himself mentally 'I hope.'

"Stunned that one," Parsons gestured to one of the hapless bodies to the left. "Should we take him with us? Question him when he wakes the hell up?" Earlier, Parsons had seemed afraid and anxious. But now there was a questionably severe edge to the young man: a focus that hadn't been there before. "The dampening field will rear its ugly head again the closer we get to their complex. Maybe he knows where to shut it down?" he asked, nudging the Vidiian with his right boot.

"If not, I have this one," Timmoz said with a rumble. His final tangle had the dazed look of a glancing phaser strike, and the Orion had probably torn ligaments in the Vidiian's elbow and shoulder, the limb hiked impossibly into the man's chest. "Take them both," he instructed. He flung the man onto the ground and stepped on his neck. Only then did Timmoz wince and nurse against his hand a graze wound that had blackened his tunic at his side. "Vu skoqaan booska Skinchangers..."

Tov nodded and grabbed for a pouch of his tactical vest, noting it was empty. He frowned, eyes squinting in thought for a moment before he unsheathed a knife and cut off either sleeve of his uniform tunic. He cut the sleeves into strips and braided them. He went first to Timmozs prisoner, pulled arms behind them, and tied them tightly in place so their elbows were at full extension, utilizing the prisoners's own belt as an anchor point. He then moved onto Parsons prisoner and performed the same action.

"Alright, they should be secure for the time being. Let's see that wound." Tov nodded to Timmoz, indicating the Orion's side.

As Astril tended to Timmoz's injuries, Parsons did as he was told. He dragged both unconscious Vidiians into position so that once the Betazoid's ministrations were done, the group could hoist their prisoners up and take them along. Once that had been done, he started checking the various bodies for something he suspected must be there. It was the only thing that would explain why the Vidiians' weapons and equipment worked just fine while the dampening field had been periodically shutting all Starfleet equipment down.

After a few minutes of rummaging through clothing, Parsons nodded with satisfaction and returned to Timmoz and Astril. "Sirs," he began, holding out two armbands that had been secured under Vidiian sleeves, "I believe these might come in handy. Field dampener...dampeners?" He chuckled softly at that, at a loss for words -- exhaustion clouding his brain. "Far as I can tell, wearing them creates a null zone in the dampening field. Meaning as long as we wear them, our technology should work?"

It was, at that moment, that a communication came over one of the armbands. It seemed the devices functioned both as field subverters as well as communicators. A gravelly voice was transformed into understandable speech by the now-functioning universal translators.

"This is a priority seven alert. Federation interlopers from the Cr'stayan continent have been subdued. They are inbound on transport three," the voice reported. Concurrently, the running lights of a shuttlecraft flashed overhead, soon followed by the dull whine of the vessel's engines. It flew several hundred feet above, angling toward the Vidiian complex. "Prepare for biological analysis," the voice then clicked off.

A Post By:

Lieutenant JG Tovan Astril

Ensign Sheldon Parsons

Lieutenant Timmoz


Previous Next