“Captain’s Log, Stardate 54432.1. I’m happy to report that our recent mission to provide medical assistance to the colony on Delta Cephei III has been completed successfully and that the crew has performed well given the challenging task. As the commanding officer it was of course my duty to ensure the team worked efficiently and I dare say, judging by the results, that I have succeeded in getting the best out of each one of them. I have often wrestled with the notion of making command decisions which could very well have grave consequences. Upon reflection some of my decisions on Delta Cephei very much fell into that category and I was forced to make some hard choices. Of course a good leader does not shirk away from such responsibility and maintains a fearless and confident—“
“You’ve got to be kidding me?”
“Goddamn it, Aliris, you do not interrupt the captain when he’s recording his log.”
The beautiful, dark-skinned Risian woman stepped into the cockpit of the runabout and dropped herself into the chair next to the clearly flustered Graham Torain. “First of all, you’re not a captain. You’re a lieutenant. Junior grade. And have been for what? Three months?”
The blonde-haired lieutenant’s face morphed into a frown. “Five months next Wednesday. But that’s beside the point. I’m in charge of this mission and the highest-ranking officer on this ship. That makes me captain pretty much by default. It’s an old Earth tradition. Look it up.”
“And here’s the second thing. A four-day trip to a colony to treat a mild outbreak of the Levodian flu is neither a mission nor a challenge. And the hardest choice you had to make over the last 48 hours, was if to taste the local cuisine or to stick to the replicator.”
“And of course you stuck to the boring old replicator,” said Jonas Gradkowski who leisurely strolled into the cockpit from the rear compartment. The young petty officer was a man molded for his security position, his muscle-packed physique nearly exploding out of his uniform. “No sense of adventure in your bones, skipper, eh?”
“Oh don’t encourage him, Jo,” said the Risian with a smirk as she looked over the helm controls.
“You people are all way out of line,” said Torain and turned to his own instruments, trying hard to mask his sulking expression but failing quite miserably.
“Don’t go and upset Graham again. He’s done a great job on Delta Cephei.”
“Thank you, Yifey. I’m glad at least somebody here appreciates my leadership,” said Torain who practically lit up over seeing the Chinese nurse join them. The lithe young woman gave him a warm smile in return.
Aliris and Jonas exchanged a knowing look, one that didn’t go unnoticed by Graham. “What?”
“God, you’re so obvious, it’s painful to watch,” said the Risian ensign with a bemused smirk.
Graham’s face reddened slightly and then shot a quick look at the nurse who had taken a station behind him. He seemed relieved to find that she appeared too distracted with her work to pay much attention to what Aliris had said.
“You mean like when you get all googly eyed for Chayton when he steps into the room. Now that’s pathetic,” he said defensively.
Gradkowski inserted himself in between the two officers. “Hey, Aliris goes googly eyes for any man with a pulse. That’s just how she’s wired.”
“Mmm, that’s right, you big strong hunk of a man, you,” she purred seductively and squeezed one of the security guard’s huge biceps.
The petty officer laughed as he allowed her small hand to roam his massive arm before he looked back towards Graham. “Every man but you, it seems.”
“Nothing personal. I just don’t go for superiors. It makes things complicated,” she said with a chuckle.
“Whatever,” Torain shot back and then gave the security guard a death stare. “Wanna give us some room here, Petty Officer.”
“Sir, yes, sir,” he barked. “Wouldn’t want to cramp your style, sir,” he added as he stepped away from the two pilots to take a seat at the aft station.
“And I don’t get what you see in that guy Chayton anyway,” said Graham Torain while pretending that this entire conversation didn’t really interest him in slightest. “The man hardly says more than two words at a time and seems to have no ambitions whatsoever. I hear he’s been a med tech for the last five years, ever since he joined, not been promoted once. That’s lousy, even for an enlisted man. He seems to have no friends and nobody knows the first thing about him.”
Aliris peered at him. “Been studying up on the competition, eh?”
“What? No,” he said a little too quickly. “I just like to know about the people who serve under me.”
“Sure. Well, if you must know, women love the strong silent and mysterious type. And it helps if you look like a guy who can take care of yourself. Plus, I have a thing for men with an indigenous background. Something wild and primal about that.”
“You have a thing for brutes is what you’re saying.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe,” she said and then glanced at the nurse sitting in the back. “But I’ve got my own competition to worry about,” she whispered.
“Perhaps I can help take care of that,” said Torain with a boyish gleam in his eye.
The Risian burst out laughing despite herself, causing pretty much everyone in the cockpit to look her way. Nobody with a more heated expression on his face than Torain. “Sorry,” she apologized meekly. “But sure, if you can, by all means.”
A computer chime caused a much-needed distraction and Aliris jumped at it. “Uh, this looks like some sort of distress signal coming through.”
Torain looked perplexed. “What?”
But Yifey seemed very interested by this news and turned towards Aliris. “A distress signal? Who’s sending it?”
“I’m not sure. This looks … I think it’s … “
“Klingon,” said Gradkowski who had positioned himself behind the Risian and was looking at the display over her shoulder. “That’s a Klingon signature. I’d bet my phaser rifle on it.”
“Well, then you gotta be right. You love that thing more than life itself,” joked Aliris and turned to look at Torain. “What do we do?”
“We’ll forward it to the nearest starship,” he said and brought up his long-range sensor display. “Eagle is two days away at high warp.”
“We have to at least listen to it first,” insisted the nurse. “See if we can help.”
Aliris raised her eyebrows in silent agreement and didn’t miss Torain’s momentary indecision.
Then he nodded. “Alright, pipe it through.”
“It’s audio only,” said Aliris and within seconds the small runabout cockpit was filled with a static-laden voice.
“I say again … this is the Klingon Defense Force vessel Lukara. We require immediate assistance. To any ship in range … this is a distress signal from the Klingon vessel Lukara. We require assistance.”
“Klingons. I knew it,” said Gradkowski.
“Is this all there is?” asked Jiang.
The Risian nodded. “It’s a continuous loop after that.”
“Alright,” said Torain. “We’ve listened to it now we’ll have to forward it to somebody better equipped to handle an emergency.”
“You can’t be serious,” Jiang said. “They clearly need help as soon as possible. If we’re the nearest ship we have to respond. That’s Starfleet regulations, right?” she asked and looked at Gradkowski who merely shrugged.
“She may have a point there, Captain,” said Aliris with a smirk. “Time to make a command decision.”
But Graham Torain looked visibly uncertain and clearly reluctant to answer to a distress signal. And from a Klingon ship no less.
“I don’t see how we have a choice in the matter,” the nurse added and then gave Torain an instant look. “Graham?”
Those eyes focusing on him were apparently enough to finally sway him. “Alright. Aliris, set a course and send word to Eagle that we’ll be delayed.”
“Aye, aye, sir,” she said playfully and went to work.
“I’ll go prepare Chayton and Telvin to treat Klingon casualties,” said Jiang and headed for the back.
“I’ll get my rifle,” added Gradkowski and followed her.
“Way to show strong leadership,” mumbled Aliris once they were alone in the cockpit, promptly eliciting yet another angry frown from Torain.
"I have taken command. The captain has fallen sick. We don't know why."
"Can you give us any details on his symptoms? What's his current condition?" asked Jiang of Lieutenant K’thor, the Klingon officer they had made contact with after finding the Lukara adrift. The man looked almost bored, as if dealing with the Starfleeters was all a great inconvenience to him, no matter that it had been he who had sent the distress signal in the first place.
"Bah. I'm a warrior not a healer."
"Of course," she said and looked at her fellow crew for help, clearly a little intimidated by the warrior’s attitude.
"Uh, we've noticed that you seem to be adrift. Are you experiencing technical difficulties as well?" asked Torain who apparently wasn't that much more comfortable with speaking to a Klingon than the nurse had been.
K’thor shot the man a death stare, as if wordlessly challenging the audacity of his question. A few droplets of blood trickled down his nose which he quickly wiped away with the back of his hand. "The engineer is not feeling well either."
"How about you?" Jiang tried out carefully. "I've noticed you have a bit of a bleeding—"
"I am fine. Now, are you going to prattle all day or will you be coming over to use your famed Starfleet medical skills to help the captain before he expires? Serves me right to accept help from a bunch of children. Will there be a proper starship arriving soon?"
"I assure you, sir, you have made no mistake asking for our help. This is right up our alley," Torain said quickly. "We will beam over shortly. Nebuchadrezzar, out," he added and closed the channel.
"Klingons give me the creeps," Jiang mumbled.
"Yeah, but they are so fierce and striking," added Aliris.
Torain ignored the comment. "OK, I suppose we should get over there," he said and looked at the nurse. "Is your team ready to go?"
Besides from Yifey Jiang, the medical team consisted out of Crewman Telvin whose most distinctive features besides his youth and inexperience, were his bald head and delicately formed Tiburon ear lobes and medical technician Chayton; tall, brown eyed, dark haired and overall handsome, of Native American descent, his most distinguished characteristic was the fact that he said little when prompted and barely nothing at all when not.
Jiang nodded shyly.
"We're not going over there alone though, right?" said Telvin, shooting the others nervous glances.
"I'm the captain," said Torain but corrected himself when he noticed the Risian’s disapproving frown. "Commanding officer. So obviously I should stay with the ship.
"As I said earlier," said Gradkowski, "no sense of adventure."
"Fine, I'll come along. I wouldn't mind meeting some of those hunky Klingons, anyway," said Aliris and rose from her chair.
"Actually, I was hoping Gradkowski could ... uh ... join us," said the Tiburon.
"Oh yes, he's right, I totally should."
"I don't know," said Torain, clearly slightly unsure himself. "I don't want to intimidate the Klingons."
Aliris laughed at that. "Us intimidating them? I think it takes more than one security guard to intimidate a ship full of Klingons. No offense, Jonas, I know you’re a big, strong feller yourself."
He waved it off. "None taken. And no worries Telvin, I'll protect you from the scary Klingons," he said and presented his phaser rifle.
The Tiburon looked appeased but Graham Torain appeared only more concerned now. "Please don't wave that thing into anyone's face over there. I don't want us to be single handily responsible for the repeal of the Khitomer Accords. That goes for you as well, Aliris. Remember, you’re representing the Federation. So be on your best behavior."
"Who me?" she said in a tone of mock surprise. "Whenever am I not? Besides you forget. Not only am I representing the Federation, I'm also a walking advertisement for Risa," she said and unzipped the top of her jacket and the blood-red uniform shirt underneath just before stepping into the transporter alcove. "I hear those Klingon ships are awfully hot."
Graham Torain rolled his eyes as he watched the five crewmembers dematerialize.
Everybody in the away team had a certain idea as what to expect on the Lukara and it mostly involved a welcoming committee of angry and cantankerous Klingon warriors armed to the teeth with disruptor pistols and razor sharp bat’leth swords. They had however not expected what they came to find.
Utter and complete.
"Are we ... are we dead?" Telvin asked, his voice sounding hollow and unsteady.
There was no immediate response.
"Uh, guys, are you there?"
"Relax, Telvin, we're not dead. The lights are just out," Aliris finally said.
“Did anyone think of brining beacons?” asked Jiang. “Because that would have been a good idea.”
“Thanks for that, Doctor Obvious,” retorted the Risian with just a hint of annoyance.
“Wait a sec.”
And then there was light. Gradkowski had turned on the tracking light of his phaser rifle, for the first time allowing the away team to get a glimpse of their surroundings. It wasn’t much but enough to make out what looked like a Klingon transporter room. As expected the members of the away team stood on the transporter platform itself. Otherwise the room appeared empty.
A sudden metallic rattle made the team turn towards the doors.
Telvin looked as if he was going to suffer from an imminent heart attack. “There’s …. there’s somebody out there.”
The noise continued and Gradkowski shined his light on the apparent source.
“Well, of course there is,” Aliris said and headed for the doors. “They’re probably trying to get in here to welcome us,” she said and then began to try and pry the doors open. “Chayton, give me a hand.”
The Sioux didn’t hesitate and within moments he had positioned himself opposite the Risian to help her open the two heavy door panels.
Their efforts bore fruit and the doors gave way.
“You want to point that somewhere else?” a fierce voice asked. It was a Klingon woman and Gradkowski’s phaser and light were aimed directly at her.
“Jonas,” Aliris said.
The security guard lowered his rifle. “Sorry.”
There was enough light coming from the corridor now to afford the away team a decent look at the Klingon. She was tall, with long black hair and a distinctive, bony forehead. Her bare arms showed off her muscles, giving little doubt that she was well trained in the ways of combat.
“Apologies for … all this,” she said gruffly and gestured to their surroundings. “We’ve had some … difficulties. I’m B’Nera and I’ve been assigned to the medical bay.”
The Risian nodded with understanding. “I’m Ensign Aliris from the starship Eagle. These are—“
“An ensign?” she nearly spat, interrupting her and looking over the rest of the young away team. “K’thor was right, you are but children.”
Jiang stepped forward. “We may not be senior officers,” she said. “But I assure you I’m a fully trained medical professional and very capable to look after your sick and injured.”
B’Nera seemed to weigh that statement for a moment. “I suppose we don’t have much of a choice. Follow me. You must see to the captain straight away,” she said and set out down the corridor without affording the Starfleet officers another look.
Aliris and Jiang exchanged a quick look and then followed along with the rest of the away team.
It became quickly apparent that things weren’t much better outside of the transporter room. The corridors were illuminated by weak, crimson red light which tended to flicker on and off constantly, making it difficult for the away team to navigate the ship and follow B’Nera who had adopted a brisk pace.
“This ship feels a bit empty. Is that normal?” asked Telvin when he hadn’t spotted a single crewmember besides B’Nera while walking the corridors.
“Crew is busy with repairs,” she said curtly, never slowing down.
Then the Klingon medic finally stopped in front of a set of doors. “This is the sickbay.”
“What’s … what’s that sound?” asked Telvin and looked further down the corridor but was unable to see anything in the dense crimson murk surrounding them. “It sounds like … like banging.”
Gradkowski followed his glance. “I don’t hear anything.”
B’Nera shrugged it off. “Probably the stabilizers have gone out of alignment,” she said. “We mustn’t tarry. The captain requires your help.”
“Agreed,” said Jiang.
This time Chayton and Gradkowski pried open the door. The first thing that hit the away team was the repugnant odor emanating from the room. It smelled of blood, sickness and death, nothing like the sterile environment of a Starfleet sickbay.
“By Galartha’s Peak,” exclaimed Aliris and quickly covered her mouth and nose.
Jiang and the two med techs handled the unexpected odor slightly better and led by the determined nurse, quickly rushed into the medical bay. Thankfully what they found didn’t quite match the appalling smell.
A handful of bodies were occupying most of the beds, either sleeping or in a coma, but other than that nothing seemed to be much out of place for a starship’s infirmary. It wasn’t as clean as a Starfleet facility, and the flickering lights left much to be desired but that didn’t stop Jiang to get out her medkit and head for the first patient she saw.
“Him first,” said B’Nera, and pointed at the one bed which stood apart form the rest.
“I think I’ll do my own triage first.”
“Him first,” she practically barked. “The others are all in a coma. The captain is still conscious.”
Jiang realized that she was right and quickly began her diagnosis.
The broad-shouldered and portly Klingon looked past middle age with a full, graying beard and a large mane of curled, black hair. At first glance he did not appear to be injured in any way. He did however have a high fever, his skin looked damp from perspiration and sickly pale in places. His eyes were strangely out of focus as if he was looking right past the bulkheads. He did not appear aware of his surroundings.
“Captain K’ven,” B’Nera said but without trying to approach the sick man. “I have brought Starfleet healers. They will help you … and the others.”
But Jiang seemed to be frustrated by what her tricorder told her about her new patient. “Temperature is eighteen degrees higher than normal and he appears to suffer from chills and acute myalgia.”
“Influenza symptoms?” said Chatyon who stood by her side.
“Perhaps but not a strain we’ve ever encountered before. Let’s start this off with 2 cc’s of bicaridine to try and lower his body temperature before he burns up.”
Instead of helping to treat the Klingon captain, Telvin once again looked off into the distance. “There it is again. Louder this time.”
“Jeez, Telvin. Stop jumping at every noise, will you?” said Gradkowski with a chuckle.
“B’Nera, you don’t look so good. Are you alright?” asked Aliris who had noticed that she was bleeding from her nose.
“It’s nothing,” she said quickly and wiped the blood away. “I’ll be right back,” she added and headed through a door presumably leading into another section of the medical bay.
In the meantime Jiang and Chayton were not making much progress. “I don’t understand, he’s not responding to the bicaridine at all,” the nurse said with apparent frustration lining her words and then turned to the others. “We’ll need some help here. I’m completely in the dark.”
“What do you need?” Aliris said.
“Get B’Nera back or somebody else who can tell me anything about what’s been going on here. I need some medical history, I need to know what the early symptoms were, what treatments they’ve tried, blood work and medical scans. How the hell am I supposed to even start treating this man without any of that?”
Aliris shot the usually shy Chinese woman a curious glance. “Alright, don’t get hysterical. Jonas and I will go and find somebody who can help. Telvin, why don’t you go get B’Nera back here.”
“Uh … maybe I should stay here.”
“Now, Telvin,” Jiang insisted.
“Alright, alright,” he said and followed the Klingon woman’s earlier path while Aliris and Gradkowski left the sickbay to scour the rest of the ship.
“I can’t believe they left their sick captain here while the rest of the crew goes off playing hide-and-seek,” said a clearly exasperated Jiang as she tried another compound on the Klingon in hopes to stabilize him. When that didn’t show any effect either, she uttered a heavy sigh and then glanced towards Chayton who appeared unfocused himself.
“I know you have this whole mysterious thing going on and that you don’t like to share your feelings or … you know, talk, but I would really appreciate some encouragements right about now. Maybe it would help make this whole experience a little less creepy.”
He turned and his brown eyes looked straight into hers. “Something is very wrong here.”
“Really? That’s all you’ve got to say?” she said and attended to her patient again. “Honestly, maybe you shouldn’t talk after all. Maybe—“
Captain K’ven practically jumped into a sitting position, reached out for Jiang’s lower arm and held on tight, his glazed over eyes staring at the terrified nurse with haunting intensity.
Jiang couldn’t help but scream in surprise and terror.
“The dishonored dead … Kahless save us, the dishonored dead have returned … the dishonored dead are here …”
“Let go, let go of me,” screamed Jiang.
Chayton reached out for the Klingon’s firm grip and after a few seconds managed to dislodge him from his hold on the nurse. Not a moment after K’ven collapsed back onto the bed, mumbling incoherently in an obscure Klingon dialect the universal translator was unable to decipher.
“I cannot believe that I finally get a chance to visit a Klingon ship and the only Klingons we’ve come across are either unconscious or otherwise uninterested.”
“Not exactly what you had hoped, huh?” said Gradkowski as he waved his rifle into yet another dark recess only to find it as empty as all the other spaces they had searched while roaming the ship.
“I’m practically a cultural ambassador,” she said walking down the corridor. “It’s what my people do. Difficult if there’s nobody around to pay attention to me.”
Their boots clattered loudly as they walked on the metallic floor of the corridor but besides of the echoes of their footsteps and the flickering of the lighting overhead, there was barely a sound to be heard.
“You have to admit that all this is a bit spooky.”
“Don’t tell me the big tough security guard is scared of an empty Klingon ship.”
“Didn’t say I’m scared. I can handle whatever is going on around here. Just discomforting that it’s so quite, t’s all.”
They both heard the moan at the same time and froze.
It had come from further down the corridor.
They looked at each other for a moment and then she nodded quietly as Gradkowski started out first, keeping his rifle trained forward, Aliris just a step behind him.
Coming up to a corridor junction, the security guard paused and then swung around, ready for whatever.
Aliris followed suit.
They whirled around and the light on Gradkowski’s phaser revealed a glimpse of a person rushing around the next corner.
“Who was that?” the security guard whispered.
Aliris wasn’t as shy. “Hello? We’re with Starfleet, we’re here to help.”
She walked towards the corner to follow whoever they had spotted.
Gradkowski hesitated only a moment before joining her and they both carefully rounded the corner. A Klingon man was standing at the far end of the corridor section and Aliris recognized him immediately when the beacon caught his face.
“Lieutenant K’thor?” she said and slowly stepped closer. “We need some help to treat your captain.”
“Aliris, watch out,” Gradkowski yelled and then forcefully pushed her into the bulkhead.
Just in time to avoid being decapitated by a well-placed disruptor blast fired by the weapon K’thor had pulled out of his holster.
The security guard returned fire but the Klingon had already rushed off.
He offered his hand to the Risian who was picking herself up from where she had landed. “Are you alright?”
“Bruised but otherwise alive,” she said as he pulled her back onto her feet. She massaged her sore back she had fallen on.
“What’s going on here?” Gradkowski said with obvious confusion. “Why did he just take a shot at us? Did we do something wrong?”
She shook her head. “No, it’s something else. And I intend to find out what it is. Let’s go,” she said and followed K’thor down the corridor.
It wasn’t difficult to pick up his trail as he made plenty of noise rushing down the empty corridors. Being aware that he was being followed, he turned and fired a couple of pot shots towards his pursues which Aliris and Gradkowski avoided easily enough by pushing themselves against the bulkheads. And it seemed clear that K’thor was too much in a hurry to try and take proper aim.
Gradkowski never got a clean shot to try and stun the Klingon and stop the mad dash across the ship either.
It did however come to an end when he stormed into a room Aliris thought she recognized. “It’s the transporter room.”
The two Starfleet officers entered just in time to see him dissolve in a bright crimson light until he was completely gone.
“He must have managed to redirect power somehow,” said Aliris, seeing that the room was now lit, at least as well as the rest of ship, and some of the consoles appeared operational again. “Check the coordinates, where did he go?”
Gradkowski quickly did as he was told but after just a moment he began to shake his head. “I think he may have beamed to another part of the ship but I can’t really make heads or tails out of this,” he said and looked up. “Should we go after him?”
Aliris needed a moment to catch her breath and think. Then she turned back to Gradkowski. “To be perfectly honest with you, Jo. Nothing here makes a whole lot of sense and I haven’t got the slightest idea what to do about it.”
Telvin had quickly come to regret leaving sickbay, as what he had found beyond was nothing but a maze of empty rooms and corridors. Worse yet, the lights, already dim and shining in an ominously red glow, tended to cut on and off with every step he took, causing him to see phantom movement around every corner.
And then there was that banging noise again.
It sounded almost as if somebody was pounding pipes together or perhaps knocking them against bulkheads. And it seemed to originate from all around him and from nowhere at all at the same time.
“Hello?” he nearly whispered into the crimson gloom. “Is anybody there?”
The response was a low, pained groan.
“Hello?” he said a bit louder, now that he thought that somebody was there for certain.
Footsteps. He thought he heard footsteps. Just behind him.
He turned around to see nothing at all.
Telvin took a deep breath and turned back.
A Klingon had appeared just a couple of feet away, stumbling right towards him and then collapsed, crashing into him.
They fell together onto the hard metallic floor and like a panicked animal he tried to free himself from the weight of the Klingon pressing down on him.
It took him a few seconds to realize who had dropped on him.
“B’Nera? Are you … are you alright?”
She clearly was not. She was alive but seemed to be sweating profusely and a steady trickle of blood escaped her nose.
He quickly picked her up from the floor to get her into a sitting position by leaning her back against the bulkhead. “B’Nera, can you hear me?”
She looked up at him as if seeing him for the first time. Then she did something Telvin had not expected. She smiled. It was a big one, revealing her sharp teeth.
“You … you don’t look so good. You should come back to sickbay with me.”
“I feel fine,” she said and wiped away the blood. “I don’t need sickbay. I need something else,” she added her hands beginning to pull at the neckline of her tunic which already displayed an impressive amount of cleavage.
Telvin tried hard not to notice. “Uh, you look hot. Like you’re burning up.”
“Yes,” she almost purred now, her facial features turning lecherous. “I’m very hot,” she said. “I need you … I need you right now.”
“I … I help anyway I can but—“
She practically leaped at him, causing the Tiburon to fall onto his back with the Klingon woman on top of him. He immediately tried to push her away. “Wait a minute, wait a minute, this isn’t right. You’re not thinking straight.”
“I’m thinking as clear as crystal,” she purred. “I’m about to die but before I do I want to experience pleasure. Come on, fight me, Starfleet. Make this interesting,” she said as she tried to shove her face into his.
Trying to hold her back and crawling away from the seemingly possessed woman at the same time, he didn’t appear much of a match for her. “You don’t want me … this is really more Aliris’ thing … maybe she could—“
“You are a man, aren’t you?” she said and pushed harder until she was close enough to lick his cheek just before biting into it.
Telvin screamed but the adrenaline caused by the sudden pain was enough to free himself from B’Nera. He managed to get back onto his feet and shoved her away hard when she tried to move in on him again.
She fell into the bulkhead and slid down to the floor, apparently losing consciousness for a moment.
Telvin found it near impossible to focus on anything as he was gripped by sudden dizziness and his vision went blurry. He reached for his cheek and found his hand covered with blood.
He turned and stumbled towards the direction he thought he had come from, trying to return to sickbay. But after just a few steps he could no longer tell where he was or which way he needed to go.
The banging was back and seemed to be coming from right in front of him now. Just beyond a set of heavy doors. He somehow found the large manual release lever and pulled down.
The doors opened to reveal complete darkness.
The banging stopped.
Telvin took a step towards the threshold.
“Is … is anyone there?”
“I’m losing him, damn it, I’m losing him.”
Captain K’ven’s condition had worsened significantly over the last few minutes and whatever Jiang and Chayton had tried to stabilize him seemed to have had the exact opposite effect, almost as if the Klingon was determined to die.
“Give him 5 cc’s of cordrazine,” said Jiang while she continued to monitor his vitals through her tricorder.
Chayton gave her a surprised look. “That could kill him.”
“He’s already dying and we tried everything else. Give him the damned shot.”
The med tech didn’t hesitate again and quickly applied the hypo-spray.
The stimulant showed immediate results. K’ven rose a few inches from his bed, stiffened for a moment and then collapsed again.
The nurse shook her head. “His nervous system reacted but his vital were almost completely unaffected. I just don’t understand this.”
“His blood pressure and heart rate are crashing. ”
“I know,” she uttered in frustration. “Try to find something like a cardiostimulator before he goes into shock.”
Chayton nodded and went to search for an appropriate instrument to keep the Klingon from dying.
All help seemed to come to late when the medical tricorder confirmed sudden cardiac arrest.
“No, no, no,” said Jiang, dropped her tricorder and in lieu of having any useful equipment nearby, climbed onto the bed and on top of K’ven, located his heart and began to apply cardiopulmonary resuscitation with both her hands. “Come on, come on, you big oversized, eight-chambered heart. Don’t give up on me now.”
K’ven gasped, giving the Chinese nurse some hope as she looked up at him.
“When there is no more room … no more room in Gre’thor … the dishonored dead will rise…. “ A last gurgle escaped his lips and then his body went completely limp with his empty, lifeless eyes seemingly transfixed on the Starfleet nurse kneeling on top of him.
“No, no, come back, come back,” she urged as she restarted her efforts.
Chayton picked up the tricorder which now sounded a noticeable, single-toned beep to indicate the patient’s condition. “He’s dead.”
But Jiang continued to try and restart his heart, not paying the med tech any attention.
This continued for almost a full minute without showing any effect until Chayton placed his hand around her arm. “He’s dead.”
Yifey Jiang gave him a blank look, then turned back to see K’ven’s unmoving face before she finally slowed down and eventually stopped. “I’ve never … I’ve never lost somebody before,” she nearly whispered.
Chayton helped her off the lifeless body but said nothing, not even when tears shot into her eyes and she began to wipe them away. He continued to watch her as she took a few steps away from the bed. When she turned around she found him still giving her that empty look.
“What are you? Vulcan? You could at least try to show some emotions. A man we tried to save just died,” she said angrily and stepped right up to him, having to crane her neck slightly to look into the large man’s eyes. “I’m really sick of your entire attitude, you know that. You could say something. Like how we did everything we possibly could, like how there was nothing we could have done differently. Something. Say something, you big useless oaf,” she yelled at him and pounded his chest in frustration.
Chayton said nothing at all.
“I don’t like this, Aliris, I don’t like this at all. First almost the entire crew seems to be missing, and then the man in charge starts shooting at you without provocation? It was without provocation, I mean, right?”
The dark-skinned beauty from Risa rolled her eyes which Torain of course couldn’t see. “Yes, without provocation. I didn’t as much as look at him before he tried to take my head of. Usually men get to know me a little better before they try that.”
“But not by much,” mumbled Gradkowski with a wide grin.
Aliris shot him a ‘shut-up’-look
“Okay well, clearly things over there are out of control and our help is apparently not appreciated. I think you should come back,” said the lieutenant over the comlink.
“It may not be fully appreciated but it’s clearly required. Their captain is gravely ill and there were at least a handful of other sick crewmembers in their infirmary. I think we should let Jiang and her people at least try to help them as much as they can before we call it quits.”
Graham seemed to think about that for a moment. “No,” he finally said. “Get our people and bring them back to the runabout. If the rest of the crew feels about you being there anything like K’thor did you’ll be way outnumbered and quickly fall prisoners or worse. I’ll advise Eagle of our situation. I think we should leave this to the big boys.”
“But don’t we have an obligation to help those who—”
“Those who ask for it, not those who try to kill us while we do,” said Torain, cutting her off. “This is a direct order, Ensign. Return to the runabout as soon as—“
The link disconnected in mid-sentence.
Aliris glanced at Gradkowski in surprise. “Graham, you still there?”
“Aliris to Torain, can you hear me? Nebuchadrezzar, please respond.”
It was of no use.
The security guard in the meantime had stepped up to the transporter console. “I think there may be some interference coming from the engineering room that is causing problems with communications,” he said.
“Great. B’Nera did mention that they were having some technical difficulties. Can we at least still beam out of here?”
“I think so.”
She gave him a pointed look to which he merely shrugged. “Hey, I’m a security guard not an engineer.”
“Right,” she said. “I suppose we’ve got our orders and I’m getting an increasingly bad feeling about this place. Let’s grab the rest of our people and get off this bucket,” she said and headed out of the transporter room.
“I’ve … I’ve found the crew.”
Jiang turned away from staring at the Klingon corpse like she had done for the last couple of minutes or so since he had died, only to see the Tiburon stumble back into sickbay.
“Oh my God, Telvin, what happened?” she said and immediately rushed towards the medical technician.
His face was bloodied and his uniform ripped and torn in multiple places. He practically fell into her arms when the nurse approached and she was forced onto her knees by his weight.
“Chayton, help me get him onto one of the beds,” she said even while she looked him over. He had a large bite mark on his left cheek but there were other wounds all over, almost as if he had been in a vicious melee combat with multiple unyielding opponents. He was bleeding from more places than she could count.
“What did this to you?” she said and when she pulled down the collar of his blood soaked uniform shirt she gasped in shock when she realized that a massive chunk of his neck had been ripped clean out, severing his jugular vein along with a couple of others. “How … did this happen? How can you still be—“
She felt Chayton by her side, harshly yanking her away at the same moment that Telvin snapped forward as if he was trying to take a bite right out of her.
The Sioux instantly threw a mean left hook which smacked loudly against his chin, causing Telvin to fall backwards and collapse.
“What …” Jiang was too confused to know what was happening but seeing the Tiburon falling on his back and bleeding onto the floor, she immediately freed herself from Chayton’s grasp and knelt at his side.
She tried to take a pulse but there wasn’t enough neck left to do it with so she went for his wrist. She found nothing. She pulled out her tricorder for a second opinion but the result stayed the same. “He’s dead. You’ve killed him.”
“He was dead before.”
She shot him a perplexed look and then stood slowly. “What are you saying? He was walking. He spoke. He wasn’t dead until you attacked him.”
“He attacked first.”
“How could he have attacked first if he was already dead? You are not making a lick of sense, Crewman,” she shouted, almost hysterically.
Then she heard the long, guttural moan.
She turned around very slowly, not quite able to believe what her ears were telling her.
And yet the sound was clearly emanating from Telvin.
She didn’t quite dare to get close but she consulted her tricorder yet again. No heart beat, no brain activity, all life signs at zero. He was completely and entirely dead.
And then he began to stir.
“This … this is not possible,” she said as she watched in horror as the previously assumed dead Telvin rose from the ground.
He moaned loudly and seemed momentarily confused. He had an empty, almost soulless look in his eyes as he seemed to take in his surroundings.
“Telvin … Telvin, can you hear me?” she said.
But he didn’t appear to respond to his name. Not at first. Then he groaned again and began to slowly walk towards the nurse and Chayton with small, unbalanced steps as if he had only learned to walk minutes ago.
Jiang and Chayton stepped backwards as he continued on. His skin had turned a sickly pale and his mouth opened wide as if getting ready to consume. An almost constant groan escaped from somewhere down his ripped throat.
“This cannot be happening,” said Jiang. “Stay back. Please just stay back and we’ll figure this out.”
But he didn’t and eventually they both ended up with their backs against the wall.
Chayton found a Klingon sword, a mek’leth, discarded carelessly on one of the workstations. He reached for it and used it to keep Telvin at bay without success. He kept coming even when the sharp blade began to tear through his uniform and flesh underneath as if it was made out of nothing but air. Telvin kept coming.
The Sioux changed tactics. He pushed Telvin away harshly, coming within inches of being bitten by him and when that didn’t discourage him, he took a vicious swing with the blade.
It did nothing but tear clothes and flesh.
“My god, what has happened to him?” Jiang nearly shrieked.
Chayton went for the head and the sword split his cranium with such force, Chayton and Jiang were both hit by the blood spatter. The blade remained lodged inside Telvin’s skull but the groaning stopped almost instantly and the former medical technician sagged to his knees before collapsing to the floor where he remained motionless.
For a moment nobody spoke as they simply stared at his seemingly lifeless body lying in a pool of his dark red blood. Jiang had tears streaming down her cheeks.
Then they heard the groans again. Dozens of them, coming from the same direction Telvin had arrived from.
Chayton looked at Jiang. “The crew,” he told her. “He said he had found the crew.”
She didn’t seem to understand straight away. Then she saw the Klingons stream into sickbay, all of them with the same pale skin, all of them with horrible and clearly fatal wounds covering much of their bodies, all of them with that same empty look in their eyes and all of them single-mindedly stumbling or walking towards the two Starfleet officers.
These ones were much faster than Telvin had been and within moments the sickbay was filled with them.
Chayton grabbed the mek’leth still buried inside the dead Tiburon’s skull and by placing one boot onto his head. He dislodged it, making a sickening squishing sound in the process.
“Stay behind me,” he said as he waved the blade back and forth in an effort to keep the horde of Klingons at bay.
For Jiang there was no place to go, within no time the seemingly crazed crew had completely surrounded them, blocking off all potential avenues of escape.
The only place to go was deeper into the medical bay and towards the bio-beds.
Staring with wide-open eyes and complete disbelieve at the approaching Klingons, Jiang failed to notice the movement right by her side. Until something cold grabbed hold of her wrist and she screamed.
It was K’ven. She had stepped up right next to the bed on which the dead captain had been left except for that he wasn’t dead anymore. At least not in the traditional sense. He had risen slightly from the bed, reached out for the nurse and looked straight at her with an unintelligible and disturbing groan which added to the sick symphony now filling the sickbay.
And he didn’t let go.
Chayton noticed and with once swift move with his blade, cut right through the Klingon’s lower arm, separating him from Jiang.
He pushed the captain off the bed, causing him to land on the floor. Then he swung around just in time to impale one of the other Klingons who had tried to use the distraction to attack him.
Unfortunately, in the process the mek’leth got stuck in the man’s chest and Chayton found himself unarmed and faced with two dozen more Klingons, all seemingly determined to eat the two Starfleeters alive.
Jiang hadn’t quite realized this predicament yet as she desperately tried to pull K’ven’s severed hand and arm stump off her wrist. By the time she had finally managed to get those dead fingers untangled, she quickly threw the limp away in disgust only then to discover that Chayton was now without a weapon and the Klingons almost upon them both.
“My God, my god, what do we do, what do we do?” she shrieked.
Apparently Chayton’s only response was to place himself in front of the petrified nurse to try and shield her from the inevitable.
The nearest Klingon of course was undeterred and continued to stumble forward, ready to take a bite out of the tall Sioux. Chayton was not going to stand still while serving as dinner to the crazy-starved former crew and went on the offensive, grabbing hold of the possessed Klingon, struggling with him for a moment and quickly realizing that his unnatural condition had lessened none of his inherent strength.
Understanding that he would not be able to simply overpower him, he went for his head and in a swift motion, jerked it ninety-five degrees until he heard a loud crunch. The Klingon stumbled backwards and fell and even though his neck was clearly broken, he didn’t appear to be completely dead yet.
Chayton had no time to try and finish the job.
Jiang’s warning still came too late. Another Klingon had walked up next to Chayton, placed his hands by his neck and went in to tear out a mouthful of flesh.
But just before his rotten teeth could make contact, the Klingon completely disintegrated.
Nurse Jiang wasn’t entirely sure what had happened until she heard the sound of a phaser blast and then saw an amber colored beam de-molecularize another Klingon nearby.
It was enough to give the two Starfleeters some breathing room as their attackers turned to find the new threat.
“Are you guys, alright?”
Jiang peered past the Klingons and recognized Gradkowski and Aliris who had entered the sickbay, the security guard blasting at the Klingons with his rifle while the Risian was wielding a Klingon-made disruptor pistol.
After disintegrating two more former Klingon crewmembers, they had managed to clear a path between them and their fellow officers.
Chayton, recognizing this, grabbed hold of Jiang’s arm and pushed her forward. “Go.”
They both ran through a field of Klingons trying to eat them, exploiting their momentary confusion caused by the armed newcomers.
On his dash, Chayton found the man who still had his mek’leth stuck in his chest, pulled it free and then cut him down in the same motion.
Jiang breathed hard when she finally managed to get to the relative safety of Aliris and Gradkowski who hadn’t stopped firing into the horde for cover. “Am I glad to see you,” she said through labored breaths.
“What the hell is going on here, Yifey?” said Aliris as she blasted yet another Klingon in the chest. “One moment the ship is all but abandoned and the next we’re fighting our way through a legion of flesh-eating monsters.”
“They’re dead,” Jiang said hysterically. “They’re all dead.”
Aliris gave the nurse an unconvinced look.
“When there is no more room in Gre’thor, the dishonored dead will rise.”
They looked at Chayton and not just because it was perhaps the longest sentence he had ever uttered since either of them had known him.
“That’s what the Klingon captain said just before he died,” explained Jiang, recalling the words K’ven had spoken earlier and which at the time had seemed like nothing more than the fever-induced ramblings of a dying man.
“Alright, for argument’s sake, let’s ignore for a moment the absurdity of what you’re saying,” said the ensign and dematerialized another Klingon who was getting too close. “Why the hell are they trying to eat us?”
Neither Chayton nor Jiang had an answer to that.
“And where is Telvin?” she added.
The sad look in the nurse’s eyes was enough answer.
“We can’t keep this up,” said Gradkowski just before disintegrating another undead Klingon. “At this rate I’ll run out of juice long before we run out of … whatever they are.”
Aliris nodded with understanding. “We need to get back to the transporter room and off this gods-forsaken ship,” she said. “For now, lower the setting of your rifle to seven,” she added and then performed a similar adjustment on her disruptor.
Gradkowski’s next shot went clean through an approaching Klingon, leaving behind a gaping hole in his torso. The zombie was unimpressed and continued on.
He fired again with the same results. “It’s not having any effect on them.”
Aliris found the same to be true. The Klingons kept coming.
“Shoot their heads,” Chayton said. “Aim for the heads,” he repeated and took a wild swing with his sword. He was dead-on target as the blade sliced through a Klingon’s neck, causing his head to pop straight off. The body itself took another step before collapsing in a heap at the Sioux’s feet.
Aliris had a Klingon at arm’s length and without hesitation she pressed the muzzle of her pistol against his bony forehead and pulled the trigger. The head exploded instantly, showering her in nasty, cold Klingon blood.
Gradkowski dispatched an attacker in similar fashion, blasting away the entire left side of a Klingon’s face.
“Jo, behind you,” Jiang cried out.
The security guard wasn’t able to get his rifle around quickly enough and the zombie grabbed Gradkowski’s arm and bit him right through his uniform while the human screamed in pain.
Aliris blew away his head too late.
“Goddamnit, the bastard bit me,” said Gradkowski, his face twisted into a mask of agony as he reached for his injured arm. His rifle clattered to the floor.
Chayton didn’t waste any time and picked up the weapon to keep the advancing Klingons back.
Jiang quickly tended to the security guard, removing his jacket and rolling up the golden undershirt, she revealed a nasty wound underneath, bleeding profusely. “Just a flesh wound, soldier. Nothing to worry about,” she said with forced humor.
He gritted his teeth. “Stings like a son-of-a-bitch,” he said.
“You’re losing a lot of blood.” In lieu of any readily available bandages, she tore away the sleeve of his discarded jacket and wrapped it around the wound. “This should hold for a while but we need to get you back to the runabout.”
“That’s our cue,” said Aliris. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
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