Episode 60: “Dark Art, Part I”
Written by Swordtail
Published April 2, 2008
Beware those who pursue knowledge at the expense of all else. Knowledge is power, but power attracts the easily corruptible.
(The irony of writing that statement while sitting in a university dorm room hasn’t escaped me.)
Scene 1 - The Blue Danube plays as the Celestial floats closely past the camera painfully slow. One hour later, it finishes. There, episode done. Just kidding. The camera actually gets only about as far as the mess hall before going to the bridge, which is empty except for Captain Righteous, Ensign Casey, Lieutenant-Commander Baque, Lieutenant-Commander Genocide, and some very confused no-names. Casey and Righteous are dancing around the middle of the bridge to the music. Genocide and Baque are trying to ignore them.
Baque - In the years I’ve been on this ship, this is probably the weirdest thing he’s done.
Sa’lol and Garell storm onto the bridge and move to their stations without a word. Sa’lol punches her console and the song changes to “Le Disko.” Casey and Righteous stumble as the music changes and Casey falls flat on her face.
Righteous - Hey! We were listening to that!
Sa’lol (shutting the music off altogether) - That’s all well and good, but next time please don’t make it ship-wide! At oh five hundred!
Righteous - I was wondering why you two were here to early.
Garell puts her head down on the console and closes her eyes.
Garell - Wake me up when something breaks.
SCRAPE! CRASH! CRACK! GLASS BREAKING! HUBCAP ROLLING!
Garell bolts awake and stares at her console.
Garell - Da hell was that?!?!
She turns around and sees that a bunch of useless decoration stuff has fallen from the ceiling of the bridge onto the floor.
Righteous (throwing his hands up) - I didn’t do it.
Sa’lol - Is it my imagination or did the bridge roof just bulge inwards?
Garell takes a tricorder and scans the ceiling.
Garell - Metal fatigue. It certainly did... Did we hit something?
Baque - There’s nothing on sensors but interstellar hydrogen.
Casey - Um, like, there’s a, like, light, thing, that, like, I’ve never seen before.
Genocide (checking) - That’s the indicator that says one of the running lights is blown out... the one on the top of the bridge to be exact.
Garell - Alright, something definitely hit us.
Sa’lol - Maybe the sensors are broken. We did just reinitialize our entire computer system three days ago, as I recall.
Righteous - Well, better safe than sorry. Helmboy, all stop.
Baque (Pointing at the viewscreen) - Relative to what? We’re in the middle of nowhere. Say, why exactly are we here anyway?
Righteous - I felt like it, that’s all. Blue woman, take a mini-shuttle thing and go find out what happened!
Garell - Argh.... I just woke up!!!
Scene 2 - On the small, slightly familiar bridge of some unknown ship, a bunch of civilians of various Federation species meander around pressing buttons. One, obviously in charge, walks onto the bridge from a corridor in the back.
Leader - What the hell was that jolt!?
Helm Person - Sorry, we accidentally hit them.
The leader guy looks towards the viewscreen, where the Celestial can be seen, dangerously close.
Leader - You hit them!?!
Helm Person - Only slightly. I doubt they even noticed.
Leader - But we don’t know that, do we? I ordered you to stay at least ten metres from their hull in case they raised their shields—
Helm Person - I’m sorry, sir, it was an accident! It will never happen again!
Leader - You’re right. Seveern, you’re relieved of duty. Report to sickbay. Maybe you’ll do better as a test subject than you did as a helmsman.
Seveern gulps and looks around the bridge. None of the other people present seem ready or eager to jump to his defence. He hesitantly gets up and walks off the bridge. A no-name takes his station.
Leader - You, I think we’re done here. Set a course for Jupiter Station, warp 6.
The viewscreen shows the Celestial panning past, just in time to see a massive scrape mark on the top of the bridge.
Leader (sigh) - Good help is so hard to come by these days.
Opening credits. Better than opening cash imo.
Scene 3 - Garell and two no-name engineers pilot a small maintenance pod around the top of the Celestial. Garell points at things while one no-name steers the tiny ship and another jots down notes on a PADD.
Garell - Some of that might be from space rocks in that proto-solar system the ship was in, but that long gash is new. Oh, and we’ll need to replace that lightbulb as soon as possible.
No-Name #1 - Ma’am, there’s some residue on the hull where the gash is. Sensors can’t make heads or tails of it.
Garell - That’s because you’re scanning it upside down. Turn the ship over. There, see? It clearly says “A cloaked ship made this mess.”
No-Name #2 - Oh, so it does.
Garell - Let’s get back inside before we find something else that’s broken.
Scene 4 - In the Celestial’s briefing room, the entire senior staff are present.
Senseless - A cloaked ship?
Garell - Yes. Lots of antiproton residue on the hull.
Sa’lol - Could it have been that runabout Casey and I saw the other day?
Garell - No, the impact radius is too large. I’m guessing this ship was fairly big, but not moving very fast, relative to us that is.
Baque - So now we’re being stalked by cloaked ships with bad drivers. This is a new one.
Genocide - Should I raise shields?
Tener - What, and alert them that we know they’re here? The Federation hasn’t exactly had good experiences with cloaked ships recently.
Blavik - Perhaps we should attempt to find a way to achieve a target lock before we do anything drastic.
Righteous - Good idea, naive Vulcan underling. Naive Vulcan underling’s sister, you and blue woman here work with guy I promoted for no reason and crazy weapons person to find our invisible friend. In the meantime, I’ll tell Admiral Nelix about it. I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear that we’re alright.
Puker - Captain, have you been taking that medication I prescribed you?
Righteous - No, it tasted bad. I’ll just rely on the Prophets as I always do.
Puker - Of course, because that works so well.
Righteous - Exactly! Dismissed, everyone!
As the rest of the senior staff gets up and leaves the room, Righteous wheels himself over to the wall monitor and calls Jupiter Station. A secretary appears on the screen.
Secretary - Jupiter Station reception desk, how may I help you?
As soon as she sees that it’s Righteous her smile goes neutral.
Righteous - Hi! I’d like to speak with Vice Admiral Nelix, please.
Secretary - Yeah, yeah, just a minute.
The secretary hits a button on her console.
Secretary - Cafeteria, get a nice bowl of butterscotch ice cream ready...
She hits a different button.
Secretary - Sir, Captain Righteous is on the line for you.
The channel switches to showing Admiral Nelix, hitting his paw against his head.
Nelix - Make it quick and make it comprehensible, moron.
Righteous - Well, our main computer is back online and all traces of the crazy ship lady are gone. But now a cloaked ship has bumped into us and made a bunch of stuff fall off the ceiling of the bridge.
Nelix - Was anyone killed?
Righteous - No, we’re all fine.
Nelix - Oh, that’s a shame. But what the hell do you expect me to do about it? You guys hit things all the time, and frankly it’s becoming old.
Righteous - Oh, I wasn’t aware cloaked ships were allowed into Federation space.
Nelix - You just have to have an answer for everything, don’t you? Fine, I’ll look into it. In the meantime, get your butts back to Jupiter Station so my team of highly trained monkeys can ensure that the AI is really out of your systems. I frankly don’t trust you jerks in the least.
Righteous (saluting) - You can count on us, sir!
Nelix - No, I can’t, but that’s okay. After all, you are an idiot.
Scene 5 - Morgue. You know, that really big room? Anyway, Doctor Puker walks in humming and goes up to a stasis chambre.
Puker - What a lovely day to do an autopsy that I’ve been putting off for ages!
He presses a button and the stasis chambre opens, to reveal that it is empty.
Puker - Hmm...
He opens the chambre beside it, which reveals a dead no-name. He opens a few more, all filled with no-names.
Puker (tapping his combadge) - Puker to Lieutenant Blavik...
Blavik (comm) - Blavik here, yes sir?
Puker - Do you recall where I put that 200-kilogram metallic pancake we picked up a few months ago?
Blavik (comm) - Stasis chambre 4B.
Puker - Well, it’s not here.
Blavik (comm) - Impossible. That chambre has been locked. No one except you or the Captain could open it.
Puker - Uh... hang on. Puker to Captain Righteous.
Righteous (comm) - Yes, Vaughn?
Puker - Did you by any chance move the corpse of that metal lizard man we killed a few months ago?
Righteous (comm) - We did what a few months ago?
Puker - Yeah, that’s what I thought. Puker out. Blavik, still there?
Blavik (comm) - Yes.
Puker - He doesn’t even remember. Which means we have a problem, if my Mentat projection is right.
Blavik (comm) - You’ve come to the logical conclusion that the people in the cloaked ship beamed the corpse out of us, probably because they are the people who created it in the first place and want to continue the experiments, which are highly illegal and dangerous, thus explaining the cloaking device?
Puker - Actually I was leaning towards the zombie virus somehow infecting the corpse and reanimating it and it’s stalking the ship now as we speak but your idea is far more plausible.
Scene 6 - The USS Celestial drops out of warp near Jupiter.
Righteous (voiceover) - Captain’s log, stardate 60165.8. Does anyone else but me wonder why we spend so much time around Earth? What’s so great about this place, anyway? So what if they are two thirds covered in ocean? There’s like 15 billion people crammed into only one third of the planet’s surface, then. Yeah, I’ve got nothing else to say in this log entry.
The camera goes to the Celestial as it strafes over to dock at an airlock alongside the weird-shaped space station. In Admiral Nelix’s office, Righteous and Senseless are being debriefed.
Nelix - Well... do either of you have an explanation for why the dead body of something most scientists are saying is impossible has vanished from your morgue?
Righteous - Maybe the Prophets agree with the scientists and took it away?
Nelix - I see you’re still as dumb as always.
Righteous - I’m a tool of the Prophets!
Nelix - You’re a tool alright. Now, Mr. Guy With Some Brains, have you found a way to detect that cloaked ship?
Senseless - We’re still working on it. It would really help if we knew who these guys really were.
Nelix - Starfleet Intelligence is still investigating after that incident on that colony a while back. So far it looks like we’re dealing with a rogue biotech group who may be an offshoot of Section 31.
Senseless - Well, that’s just great.
Genocide (comm) - Commander! We’ve found them! They’re docked here at Jupiter Station! We just picked up some personnel and equipment moving through an open airlock and then just vanishing from our sensors!
Nelix - Commander! Blow the airlock! Target that ship and hit it with everything you’ve got!
Genocide (comm) - Understood.
Nelix - Wait! They’re still attached to the station! Um... phasers only! Try not to destroy them.
The camera goes to the Celestial’s bridge, where Genocide is rolling his eyes.
Genocide - Yeah, yeah, worry about the station... firing phasers.
The camera goes to the bridge of the cloaked ship.
New Helm Person - Fredren! The Celestial is charging its phasers!
Fredren (The Leader, apparently) - Drop cloak! Shields up!
Boom, ship rocks violently, sparks and debris litters the bridge. No-names die. The camera watches as the ship decloaks as the Celestial hits it so hard it rips away from the airlock and leaves a large chunk of itself attached to Jupiter Station. The ship is almost identical to the USS Raven (The Hansens’ ship) Back on the flaming bridge, the crew are screaming reports towards their leader.
No-Name #3 - Shields are gone! We’ve got hull breaches on deck 4!
Fredren - Bring us about, attack pattern delta!
Helm Person - We’re no match for that kind of fire power!
Genocide (comm) - Unidentified ship, please continue to not shut down your engines and not prepare to be boarded so that I may have an excuse to vapourize you.
Fredren - Charge the launcher, target that array of truss just to the left of their primary lateral sensor relay.
No-Name #3 - Ready.
Fredren looks at the viewscreen as the Celestial moves fully into it.
Fredren - Fire!
The camera watches as a dimly glowing ball fires from the Raven-type ship and explodes against the Celestial’s shields. On the Celestial’s bridge, the crew as confused as to why there was no damage.
Baque - What the hell was that?
Garell - Whatever it was, it disrupted our shielding for about 0.02 seconds but that’s it. If that’s the best they can do, I almost feel sorry for them.
Baque - Well, don’t just yet, they’re powering up their warp drive.
Genocide - Targeting their engines.
Baque - Bringing us around.
As soon as he hits the required buttons, alarms start blaring throughout the bridge.
Casey - Like, hull breach on deck 8!
Garell - The entire starboard side power grid just failed!
Baque - What the hell?
The viewscreen goes from showing stars gracefully panning past to showing them zooming past dizzily.
Baque - Annnnd we’ve lost helm control.
Garell - The starboard forward impulse engines is locked open! The controls aren’t responding!
Genocide (sigh) - Shut down the engines.
The impulse engines shut down and the ship slowly stops spinning.
Casey - Like, they’ve cloaked again. And they’re probably at warp, or whatever.
Genocide - Perfect. And they would have made such a nice fireworks display too...
Scene 7 - Celestial’s briefing room. The entire senior staff plus Admiral Nelix are present. Lieutenant Sa’lol is standing near the monitor holding a slab of metal.
Sa’lol - What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a 25x25 centimetre, five centimetre thick piece of tritanium hull plating, taken from storage in cargo bay three. Please note along the cross section that there is band of dark gray colouring that extends from the outer face of the plate about a half centimetre down into the metal itself.
Righteous - Why isn’t the rest of the metal the same colour?
Sa’lol - Because the rest of the metal is the same light gray as any kind of tritanium hull plating used in Starfleet. However, since we kept scratching our paint, Starfleet decided to diffuse a coloured element directly into the surface of the metal itself, which means that even if we get a half centimetre gash in the hull, we won’t need to be repainted.
Nelix - Saves so much work, too.
Sa’lol - And, although it weakens the hull slightly, it’s still incredibly strong.
She drops the slab onto the table, nearly breaking the latter. She then takes out her phaser, sets it to full power, and fires a sustained beam at the plate. After the power cell dies, the hull plate is still there, although it’s glowing red slightly.
Sa’lol - Under a certain ionization threshold, these plates are nearly impervious to phased energy weapons. They’re also super strong. I doubt anything short of Genocide’s flak cannon could bust through this.
She uses the butt of her phaser to push the smoking metal to the side, revealing that the table under it has been charred black.
Righteous - Hey! We just fixed the table!
Sa’lol - Not my problem.
Senseless - Alright, Lieutenant, thanks for the science lesson, but what does this have to do with our current predicament?
Sa’lol just nods and reaches under the table. She picks up an irregularly shaped piece of metal, about the same thickness, but its surface is covered in impact marks and scratches.
Sa’lol - This is a piece of hull plating taken from the area on deck 8 where the hull breach occurred just an hour ago.
She raises the plate up and drops it onto the table. Instead of breaking the table, the slab shatters into sand. Everyone else at the table blinks.
Genocide - What the hell?
Tener - That was taken from deck 8?
Garell - That’s not all. We’ve found nothing but sand everywhere from the hull breach to about five metres into the ship. Everything that was made of tritanium in that area was turned into sand, or is about to, like that.
Sa’lol - What you’ve just seen was the hull of a warship reduced to less than the strength of tissue paper. It was no impact that caused the hull breach: It was air pressure itself that did it.
Garell - Doctor, show them what you showed us.
Puker gets up and turns on the monitor. A picture of a bunch of microscopic organisms appears on the screen.
Puker - Behold a breed of termites like the universe has never seen. This strain of bacteria literally eats away at the bonds holding the tritanium crystals together. They used the bonding energy for their own purposes, and leave behind a structure that has the consistency of sand.
Tener - So if they thrive on tritanium, which is the primary element in our hulls, what stopped them? Shouldn’t they have kept going until all the tritanium on the ship was consumed?
Puker - The scary thing is you’re right. At the speed these things replicate, they could have eaten the entire outer hull in less than a minute. My leading theory, based on the five minutes of work I did before coming here, says that the elements diffused into our hull were toxic to them.
Righteous - I’m so confused right now.
Senseless - What he’s saying is that our last-ditch attempt at keeping the ship looking pretty probably saved us.
Nelix - Never thought I’d see the day...
Blavik - However, no other ship in the fleet is protected as we are. The bacteria seems to also thrive off of duranium, although they eat through it slightly slower.
Nelix - So once again you idiots are the only ones who can save us... perfect.
Senseless - I’m guessing the bacteria was delivered on that torpedo you said was fired at us.
Garell - Yeah... it got through the shields in the 0.02 seconds they were ripped open by the impact.
Senseless - Is there any way to prevent that opening from happening?
Garell - Not that I know of. We could try polarizing the hull to prevent the bacteria from reaching it, but it’s a long shot.
Nelix - Now, how come Jupiter Station’s internal sensors didn’t detect that one of our airlocks had been opened into nothingness?
Tener - My guess is someone sabotaged the internal sensors. Whether the saboteur is still on the station is anyone’s guess.
Nelix - I’ll look into it. I’ll also have to inform Admiral Spot so she can inform our allies about this bunch... hopefully this weapon is the worst they have to offer.
Everyone else tries to avoid eye contact with him.
Nelix - Damn it... the metal lizards, right?
Puker - I wouldn’t worry too much about those. They couldn’t control the first one, I doubt they’ve gotten that much better at it.
Nelix - Regardless, head back to that colony and do some investigating at that research lab.
Genocide - Can’t. I blew it up.
Nelix - God damn you, Commander...
Genocide - It’s what I do. I blow stuff up.
Nelix - Fine, go there anyway and look around.
Tener - What, and deal with more of those creatures possibly? Uh-uh, no way. Not gonna happen. Those things give me the creeps.
Baque - And they cheat at chess.
Garell - How do you know?
Baque - Uh... lucky guess?
Nelix - Look, chances are you’ll never make it there before something forces you to change course, so don’t worry about it. Now go. Nelix to Jupiter Station, one to transport.
Admiral Nelix is beamed away.
Righteous - You heard the Admiral, let’s go risk our lives in the service of the Prophets!
Scene 8 - A Sovereign-class starship is closely orbiting a planet.
No-Name #4 (voiceover) - Captain’s log, stardate 60168.5. The USS Mont-Blanc has finished our resupply mission here at Sigmus V. We’ve also been able to enjoy some shore leave at the new starbase that just got finished last month. We’re now en route for Sigmus VI to pick up a diplomatic team for transport to Romulus.
The camera goes to the Mont-Blanc’s bridge. The Benzite captain and his crew are at their stations.
No-Name #5 (helm) - Sir, we’re ready to leave orbit.
No-Name #4 (captain) - Good. Take us out, full impulse.
No-Name #6 (tactical) - Captain, there’s a ship decloaking off the port bow.
No-Name #4 (captain) - What? Open a channel!
No-Name #4 - Unidentified ship, you are in violation of the Treaty of Algeron. Lower your shields and prepare to be boarded.
No-Name #6 - They’re firing!
No-Name #4 - Shields up!
Wham! A dimly glowing torpedo impacts the hull before the shields can raise.
No-Name #6 - Impact on the port side. No damage.
No-Name #4 - Good, bring us around and target their weapons.
No-Name #6 - Target locked, sir.
No-Name #4 - Fire!
No-Name #6 reaches for the control on his console but suddenly it goes dead.
No-Name #6 - My station just died!
No-Name #7 (working at the Master Systems Display console) - Mine too!
No-Name #8 (typing everything down on a type writer) - Mine as well!
No-Name #4 - Emergency power, now!
The consoles start to come back to life as lights begin to flicker. The ship begins shaking.
No-Name #7 - We’ve got hull breaches on decks 7 through 15!
No-Name #4 - How’s that possible?
No-Name #7 - Decks 8 and 16 just opened up too.
No-Name #9 - Something’s eating away at our hull!
No-Name #6 (tactical) - Shields and weapons have gone offline!
No-Name #7 - Decks 6 through 20 are now open to space! Emergency forcefields aren’t responding!
Sparks explode from several consoles.
No-Name #4 - All hands, this is the captain: Prepare to abandon ship-
No-Name #7 - Captain, most of the escape pods have hull breaches in them as well.
No-Name #9 - Life support is failing on all decks! The hull breaches are spreading faster and faster.
Bang! With the noise indicated, air starts gushing out of the bridge.
No-Name #4 - Take us into the atmosphere! Find a body of water large enough to set us down in!
No-Name #5 - Aye sir. There’s an artificial lake in Dalian City, almost directly below our current position.
No-Name #4 - Do it. Send out a distress call, and tell Dalian City to clear that lake.
The sound of escaping air is quickly replaced by the sound of pounding wind as the Mont-Blanc hits the atmosphere.
No-Name #7 - Captain, our hull is almost completely gone! We’re starting to lose bulkheads and conduits to the atmospheric friction!
As he says it, a tile rips off the ceiling of the bridge and incandescent flame can be seen just outside the bridge. Inside the bridge, it starts to get hot. Fast. On the flickering viewscreen, the surface of Sigmus V can be seen through the flame engulfing the entire ship. The camera goes to various corridors close to the outside of the ship, where the heat is igniting everything flammable, including the crew. In other parts of the ship, the metal-eating bacteria have so weakened the superstructure that parts are starting to break off. An entire nacelle, pylon and all, shears away from the ship and starts breaking up in the atmosphere. Back on the bridge, fires are igniting from a combination of the intense heat and exploding conduits.
No-Name #4 - Our approach angle is too steep, level us out!
No-Name #5 - Captain, the helm is no longer responding! We’re in free fall!
They look at the viewscreen in terror as they all suddenly realize that they’re tumbling uncontrolled towards a densely populated urban centre.
No-Name #4 - Computer, initiate the self destruct sequence, authorization—
SMASH! The air pressure and various stresses finally overcome the strength of what’s left of the hull and the entire bridge rips open like a soda can shot with a tank shell. The massive starship continues careening into the urban centre. Out of nowhere, a number of shuttlecraft fly in and lock tractor beams onto the ship in an attempt to change its course, but it’s too little too late. The shuttles only manage to break large chunks of the ship off but the rest is still flying towards the city. Skyscrapers and dense lines of air traffic lie in the ship’s wake. The Mont-Blanc plows through a busy intersection, plastering hover cars into nothingness. The ship continues on its course straight for a 400-story building. The camera goes to the engineering room of the Mont-Blanc, where explosions and debris are quickly killing what’s left of the engineering crew.
No-Name #10 (barking orders) - Shunt power to the anti-grav thrusters! And get me a external visual feed!
A surviving no-name hits some buttons and a large wall monitor suddenly changes to showing an external view of the ship zooming towards a building.
No-Name #10 - Oh... fuck.
CRASH! The ship impacts the massive skyscraper somewhere near the 200th floor. The remaining nacelle rips off and flies into another nearby building. The camera watches main engineering as everyone is thrown against the walls and killed instantly. The warp core sparks and the decorative pulsing lights all blow out. The reaction chambre crinkles slightly. The Mont-Blanc, slowed but not yet stopped, continues out the other side of the building and keeps going. Both the 400-story tower and the smaller one hit by the nacelle topple over, taking out more buildings as they fall. The ship slams into the lake, splashing almost all the water out of it onto the surrounding streets. Hundreds are killed as the mini-tsunami engulfs them. The ship finally hits a concrete lock and comes to a stop. Surviving pedestrians all run to the edges of the lake and look at the wreck of the USS Mont-Blanc.
It’s almost unidentifiable. All that remains is a bunch of I-beams composed of something other than tritanium or duranium, which means there isn’t much. The guts of the ship can be seen through the twisted and burned metal. As the dust, smoke, and mist settles, two jets of warp plasma can be seen shooting from where the nacelle pylons used to be. One pedestrian, probably an engineer, realizes what that means.
No-Name #11 - Prince Albert in a can, the warp core is still online! Everyone run!
The warning comes too late. Emergency response teams have already begun beaming or flying into the crash zone. Thousands of air cars are circling the lake, and tens of thousands of pedestrians are lining the streets or watching from adjacent buildings.
The camera watches as the plasma return conduits feeding warp plasma back into the warp core suddenly go dry. A moment later the twin jets of plasma emitting from the back of the ship cut off with a “woomf” sound.
No-Name #11 - Oh God, why me!?!
God - Because there’s something about you that really pisses me off!
The warp core melts through its casing and explodes.
Scene 9 - On the bridge of the Celestial, the crew are watching live news footage from the disaster site. Despite the fact it’s only noon, the sky above Dalian City is dark with a combination of smoke, dust, and dozens of hovering starships. Beneath the dark cloud, under the probing glare of hundreds of searchlights, lies a massive crater.
Reporter (voiceover) - It has been confirmed that the explosion was caused by a reactor breach on the USS Mont-Blanc, a Sovereign-class starship that had just crashed into the heart of Dalian City. We haven’t been able to reach Orbital Control but there’s no report that the ship was attacked as of yet. The death toll has already reached 4.7 million, and is expected to rise much, much higher as everyone within almost fifty kilometres was exposed to antimatter radiation. Starfleet is dispatching every available ship to render medical aid.
The scene goes back to a news room somewhere.
Anchorman - Thanks, Brenda. That was Brenda Selder of the Federation News Service. And now, to our top story: Angelina Jolie XXVII has had another baby. We go live to the hospital where—
Casey turns the feed off and the viewscreen goes back to showing dust particles streaming past the ship.
Senseless - Alright people, Starfleet Command sent us a more detailed analysis of what happened: According to scans taken by the starbase, the Mont-Blanc’s hull literally dissolved. They tried to make an emergency landing but half way down they lost helm control.
Puker - Those jerks with the cloaked ship have gone too far this time. 4.7 million people? Just going along, minding their own business, and suddenly a flaming ship loaded with antimatter just blows up in the middle of their backyard. These people have to be stopped, Commander, no matter the cost.
Senseless - I agree. Garell, I want you to rig the warp core to go into an infinite feedback loop on command.
Puker - Woah, woah, woah, us blowing ourselves up is one of those priceless things that is the exception to the rule!
Senseless - I have no intention of being on the ship when it explodes, but we might need to use the Celestial as a fire ship. Better safe than sorry.
Genocide - Commander, I like the way you think.
Righteous - Ooh, I have a plan too!
Senseless - Sir, maybe you should sit this one out. It’s a bit too important to muck up.
Righteous (waving him off) - Nonsense. Funny girl, open a channel to Admiral Nelix please.
Casey does as instructed and Admiral Nelix appears on the screen.
Nelix - No, you can’t all go on shore leave right now.
Righteous - Actually, I was going to ask you to put us in command of the Ninth Fleet for the time being. I have a plan to catch a crook.
Nelix - Catch... a crook?
Righteous takes out a wooden pipe, sticks it between his teeth, raises one eyebrow, and glares at the camera with an evil eye.
Righteous - It’s time to do a little fishing, my good Admiral.
He blows into the pipe and bubbles come out.
Nelix - Commander, what the hell is he talking about?
Senseless - Your guess is as good as ours, sir.
Righteous - What are those things that all cloaking devices emit?
Sa’lol - Tachyons. They’re required in order to bend light and other stuff around the ship in an unnoticeable manner.
Righteous - Well, why don’t we arrange the Ninth Fleet in a kind of net like thing and look for tachyons. Then, when we find one, we just have to jump in and save the day.
Tener - Without getting killed in the process. Also, who is going to be stupid enough to go up against that termite launcher of theirs?
Righteous - We are! Helmboy, set a course for Sigmus V, maximum warp!
Baque - That’s where we’re going at maximum warp!
Righteous - Stop arguing with my orders!
Baque rolls his eyes and hits some buttons.
Baque - Confirming course, sir...
Nelix - Well, fine, I don’t really care. Half the Ninth Fleet is on their way there anyways. Just don’t lose too many ships. Nelix out.
A few minutes later, the ship arrives at Sigmus V and weaves into an orbit between thousands of civilian ships.
Genocide - Watch where we’re flying, last thing we need is the insurance company calling.
He says as the Celestial runs over and destroys a half dozen freighters.
Senseless - Doctor, take your medical team and get down there. Lend whatever help you can, and at all costs make sure that bacteria didn’t make it to the planet. If it does, we’ll have to quarantine the entire system.
Puker - Understood, Commander.
Puker and Blavik leave the bridge.
Righteous - Now, someone please hail all the other ships that Admiral Nelix so generously loaned us.
With a bunch of beeps, Captain’s Faretched of the USS Saratoga, Castanea of the USS Citadel, and Ketrell of the USS Solaris appear spliced on the viewscreen.
Righteous - Greetings, children of the Prophets! I have a brilliant plan!
The other captains roll their eyes.
Scene 10 - The camera is on the bridge of the cloaked ship. It pans by a registration plaque, which says “SS Sparrow” on it and a bunch of stupid numbers and slogans. Standing at the helm console is the Helm Person. Fredren walks in from another part of the ship.
Fredren - Report.
Helm Person - Sir, four starships have arranged themselves in a square almost a billion kilometres across. They’ve got probes in between them and we’re detecting active tachyon sweeps all throughout the square. If we try to pass through, I’m almost certain they’ll detect us.
Fredren - So, they’ve cast a net... Time to show them they’ll catch nothing but razorfish. Set a course for the weakest ship.
On the Solaris’ bridge, the crew of said ship are bored.
Commander Ren - Anything?
Lieutenant Teverin (ops) - Nope.
Lieutenant-Commander Adair (tactical) - This is boring. I say we go out there with our sensors to full power and shoot anything that looks the least bit out of the ordinary.
No-Name #12 (new science officer) - The tachyon detection grid is stable. If they’re out there, we’ll find them.
Lieutenant Frell (helm girl) - I miss Sa’lol. She would have had a snarky comeback for that, at least.
No-Name #12 - I’m doing my best, ma’am.
Beep beep beep! Beep beep beep! Adair’s console starts beeping.
Adair - Found them! They’re right on top of us and decloaking!
Ketrell - Bring the point defence systems online! Target their warp core and fire at will!
On the SS Sparrow’s bridge, the leader gives the order.
Fredren - Fire the launcher!
No-Name #3 - Firing!
The viewscreen watches as the dimly glowing torpedo fires towards Solaris. The Federation ship takes evasive manoeuvrers and a phaser beam fires out and vapourizes the torpedo.
Fredren - What the hell was that?
No-Name #3 - Low-intensity wide-beam phaser blast. It destroyed the torpedo before impact.
Helm Person - They’re coming about!
No-Name #3 - They’re firing!
Fredren - All power to forward shields!
The camera watches as a photon torpedo launches from Solaris and slams into the Raven-type ship, knocking it backwards slightly. On the bridge, stuff begins exploding. A console blows up and kills No-Name #3. Fredren takes tactical.
Fredren - Forward shields are down!
Helm Person - The three other Federation starships are coming in at warp one and our cloak is offline!
Fredren - Then maybe it’s time to buy a bigger car... I’m targeting the ship’s port nacelle with the spreader.
Helm Person - That thing is untested! We have no idea what it will do! It might do nothing and the power requirements will force us to lower what’s left of our shields!
Fredren - No choice. Firing.
The Sparrow fires a wide beam of white energy. It sweeps across Solaris’ port warp nacelle. Where it touches, the hull literally disintegrates, exposing the fragile warp coils to the vacuum of space. Plasma streams out in between the coils. On the bridge...
Frell - We’re losing attitude control! Plasma is venting from the port nacelle!
Teverin - Power conduits are being dissolved all along that deck. No response from the plasma control room in that nacelle.
Lieutenant-Commander Dalarsh (comm) - Bridge, we’ve got a problem!
The camera goes to Main Engineering, where Dalarsh and her team are frantically running around amid a storm of exploding consoles.
Dalarsh - That beam was loaded with the bacteria. It’s eating its way along the plasma conduits. If it—
She tops in mid sentence when she happens to see the metal seam where the port primary plasma transfer conduit meets the wall start to dissolve. Jets of plasma shoot out from the expanding holes.
Dalarsh - It’s entered engineering! I have no choice!
She quickly hits some buttons.
Dalarsh - Computer, eject the warp core, authorization Dalarsh alpha do-as-I-fucking-say zero one!
Sparks fly as the warp core disconnects and drops out the bottom of the ship. The camera watches as the bacteria, which had made it into the reaction chambre, breach the core. The explosion hits Solaris’ underbelly and throws the ship around like a toy. Everyone on the ship is thrown to the floor. Consoles explode, No-Name #12 is killed, etc, etc. Back in Engineering, the emergency lighting turns on and Dalarsh looks up as a piece of the port plasma conduit breaks off from the wall and falls onto a barely-conscious no-name, crushing him.
Dalarsh - That worked well...
Meanwhile, in space, the camera pans by the USS Saratoga and Citadel, which each have massive holes through their saucer sections and appear to have lost power. They two were hit by the warp core explosion and are spinning uncontrollably. The camera then watches as the Celestial, which has a few holes but is otherwise fine, chases the SS Sparrow, firing blindly at it. On the Celestial’s bridge...
Genocide - Still not able to get a target lock! Damn their biological weapons! Who the hell are these people anyway? That’s a Federation science vessel and the lifesigns are all of Federation species! Not freaking cool!
Baque - They’re taking us towards Sigmus VII.
Sa’lol - It’s a gas giant five times bigger than Jupiter, several habitable moons.
Senseless - Shall we assume they’re leading us into an ambush?
Righteous - It’s not nice to assume such things.
Tener - But it’s always a good idea. How’s our hull holding up?
Casey - Like, it’s kinda, like, weak and stuff, but like still there!
Sa’lol - Captain, Solaris is still in one piece... despite having been hit by the weapon. So are the Saratoga and Citadel. I can’t explain it, but the bacteria doesn’t seem to be spreading anymore.
Genocide - Yeah well they were all pretty close to Solaris’ warp core when it exploded, maybe that did something.
Baque - Figure it out later, our elusive and mysterious friends are heading straight for a class L moon.
Senseless - Follow them in. Keep firing till you hit something.
Genocide - Can do.
The camera goes to the Sparrow’s bridge.
Helm Person - We’re close enough for transport.
Fredren - Good, I hope our friends down there don’t mind delivery. Open a channel to the Celestial.
Beep! Righteous and Senseless appear on the screen.
Righteous - Howdy, bad guys! We’re here to bring you to justice for the killing of lots and lots of people! Come peacefully, now.
Fredren - Celestial, code elision phi delta three five niner.
Back on the Celestial’s bridge, consoles start to go dark.
Casey - Like, ah oh.
Genocide - I’m locked out of the computer!
Sa’lol - Me too! It must have been some kind of virus, but I don’t see how they could have... oh, no...
Righteous - Please enlighten us, naive Vulcan underling’s sister.
Before Sa’lol can talk, everyone on the bridge is beamed away. They rematerialize on the planet’s surface inside a large warehouse of some sort. Dozens at a time, the rest of the Celestial’s crew are materializing nearby. As soon as Garell and her engineering team are beamed in, she spins around and runs over to the bridge crew.
Garell - What the hell is going on? The ship just totally locked us all out of it and then started beaming us down here.
Sa’lol - Remember that AI computer code? I think our friends up there planted a virus in it that somehow didn’t get removed.
Suddenly, a large monitor on one wall activates and Fredren appears on the screen, surrounded by the Celestial’s bridge.
Fredren (smiling evilly) - I hope you don’t mind, but we took the liberty of seizing your ship. It’s nice and big and will serve our purposes nicely. You’ll be fine here. The ionization in Sigmus VII’s rings should prevent anyone from finding you. Oh, and to show you I’m not a heartless bastard, we’ve left a large cache of weapons down there for you to use. You know, for hunting, fishing, that sort of thing... enjoy your stay.
The screen goes black. The rest of the crew are silent and looking at the senior staff for guidance.
Tener (starting to freak out) - Oh this is not good, this is not good at all... we’re doomed!
Senseless - Lieutenant, stay calm. Things could be a lot worse.
Righteous (fuming) - No, correction, they can’t. We’re thousands of light-years from the Celestial Temple, stranded on a barren rock covered in nothing but algae and ice and this small mass of structures which hopefully have heating. Our ship has been commandeered by terrorists who will use it to do Prophets know what to the Federation. We have no way of contacting anyone and they don’t even know we’re missing yet, so excuse me if I can’t see how things could possibly get any worse!!!
Suddenly, there are distant roars of several big and hungry somethings, followed the approaching sound of metal scraping against metal. The entire crew looks at Righteous.
Baque - You... idiot!
To Be Continued...