Broken Flesh

The corridor was completely black. The creatures had managed to cut power to all systems. Thankfully, the backup systems kept life support and artificial gravity online, although they were only just barely functioning. A bright beam of light cut through the darkness like a knife, the source being the wrist-light of Lieutenant Curtis. Curtis moved nervously through the pitch-black corridor, turning 360 degrees as he moved. It was completely silent; the only sounds he could hear were that of his own heart beating and his short, nervous breathing. Suddenly, a loud crashing noise behind made him whirl round and franticly wave his wrist-light in hopes of finding the cause of the noise. He swallowed nervously.

“He-hello?” he called into the darkness. “Is someone there?” Silence. A few tense seconds past, then he heard a noise that made his blood run cold. The creatures howl. He turned in the opposite direction of the howl and ran into the darkness. In his hurry, he didn’t see a large piece of conduit lying in the corridor. Tripping over it, he flew into a bulkhead, his arms outstretched to stop himself. As a result, his wrist-light impacted the bulkhead hard, causing it’s already fading light to go out. Breathing hard, he picked himself up from the floor. He turned to run again in the now complete darkness. Then he saw them. Two orange glowing eyes and he knew it was too late…  

———————————-

 

Captain Shearer slowly strolled down the corridor towards his quarters. Several crewmembers rushed past him, slowing down only to move aside for their captain. Finally he reached his destination. He yawned loudly as stepped into his living area. He had been awake for nearly 36 hours straight, as had most of the senior staff. The past few days had been dangerous. The Dominion had stepped up their attacks along several fronts, stretching the fleet very thin. The Monet had been under almost constant attack whilst she helped strengthen the front lines of the sixth fleet. After nearly two days on the front, the Monet had been called back to Starbase 210 for repairs and re-assignment. This gave Shearer and his senior staff some time to catch up on their sleep. He rubbed his eyes as he made his way towards his bedroom. For the most part, his bedroom was bare but adorning the wall across from his bed was a large alien landscape painting he had picked up from a very talented young artist when he was a cadet. For the life of him though, he could not remember from which planet the landscape originated. He made a mental note to find out from the artist, but that could wait another day, now he needed sleep. He tossed his jacket on the floor, near the bathroom. He placed his comm badge on his bedside table and lay down on his bed. He’d forgotten how comfortable it was. He ordered the computer to lower the lights and he closed his eyes and began to drift into sleep.

 

 

The bridge was dark. In fact the bridge hadn’t been at full illumination for days as the ship had been on constant red alert. Commander Natasha Kingston struggled to keep her eyes open as she sat in the comfortable captain’s chair. She glanced around the nearly silent bridge. Manning each station were junior officers who made up the night shift. Kingston yawned and stretched in the captain’s chair. She could have drifted off to sleep if an alarm hadn’t sounded on one of the consoles. She lifted herself back up to a straight sitting position.

“Report?” she asked, rubbing her eyes once again. A young crewman at the ops station responded.

“We’re picking up an automated distress signal sir, distance one point five light years,”

“Does it contain a message?” she asked. The officer checked his instruments.

“No, sir. It’s just a standard Starfleet distress signal,” he replied. Kingston thought for a split second.

“Helm, alter course to intercept,” she ordered. The young Bolian ensign at the helm ran her fingers over the smooth surface of her console.

“Aye sir, ETA in four minutes,” she reported. Kingston nodded. She turned towards a young ensign who was manning one of the support stations on the bridge.

“Ensign, go wake the captain and inform him of the situation,” she ordered. The ensign nodded and headed for the turbolift. Kingston settled back into the chair. She tapped a control on the armrest.

“All senior officers report to the bridge,” she announced over the comm. She closed the frequency and waited.

 

 

Captain Shearer strode out onto the bridge of the USS Monet. He hated being woke up. The poor ensign who had been ordered to wake him was greeted with a sharp outburst, for which he had immediately apologised. As he neared the captain’s chair, commander Kingston quickly vacated it.

“Report commander,” he ordered as he sat down.

“We picked up an automated distress signal and I altered course to intercept. No further information is available, sir,” she reported as she settled into her own chair. Shearer nodded.

“Captain, we’re approaching the source of the distress signal,” the young ensign at the helm reported.

“Slow to impulse, red alert,” he ordered. A red glow began to pulsate around the bridge.  “Put the source on screen,” The view on the forward viewer shifted to show an Intrepid class starship.

“Captain, I’m not reading any life signs…” Commander J’mall reported from the ops station. The captain sighed and lowered his head.

“Any signs of a fight?” Commander Kingston asked from beside him. Lieutenant Brady checked his sensor read outs.

“There’s no sign of any hull damage, wait, I think I found something,” he reported. The captain turned to face him.

“What is it Ralph?” he asked. Brady kept his eyes on his console as he studied the readouts on his console.

“Looks like a hull breach, sir. I’ll put it up on the main viewer,” Brady replied. All eyes on the bridge turned towards the large viewscreen at the front of the bridge.  The viewscreen zoomed in on a portion of hull, along the underbelly of the starship – the engineering section. The hull plates across two decks had been completely blown away.

“That looks like the explosion was on the inside!” Kingston exclaimed. J’mall busy checking her instruments, responded.

“You’re right there commander, looks like the main power relays ruptured, they were lucky it didn’t set off a core breach,” she explained.

“That doesn’t explain why there are no lifesigns on board, they couldn’t have abandoned ship, the life boats are still in place,” Shearer noted. He thought for a second. He straightened his jacket and turned to his first officer.

“Take a team over there commander, find out what happened. Be cautious, we don’t know what we’re going to find,” he ordered. Kingston nodded.

“Rachel, Ralph, you’re with me,” said, making her way towards the turbolift. J’mall and Brady followed close behind and as all three entered the lift Kingston spun to face the doors.  “Transporter room three!” she ordered as the doors swiftly closed. Shearer turned his attention back to the image of the drifting starship on the main viewer. What the hell happened over there?

 

A loud humming noise broke the silence on board the USS Xavier and a blue glow lit up the cargo bay as the away team from the Monet beamed aboard the drifting vessel. As soon as they materialised, the room was once again pitch black. Three beams of light suddenly cut through the darkness as the team, consisting of commander Kingston, Commander J’mall and lieutenant Brady, switched on their wrist lights. They quickly scanned the room. There was nothing out of the ordinary. The cargo containers were arranged as normal, none were knocked over or anything. The only thing out of the ordinary was that there was no lighting. They had beamed into the cargo bay as on further investigation, it had been found that a forcefield had been put into place around the bridge, preventing them from beaming there directly. They would have to make their way up there themselves.

“Rachel, you got anything?” Kingston asked, breaking the silence. The young betazoid female stepped forward and closed her eyes and concentrated.

“I can sense something, but it’s not the crew of the Xavier,” she replied. Kingston nodded and moved towards the large doors to the cargo bay.

“Ok people, we don’t know what to expect, so be prepared,” she reminded them. The large doors were half open, which saved them from having to open them manually. The corridor was as dark as the cargo bay. Brady stepped forward and scanned the corridor ahead with his wrist light. Nothing. They slowly made their way through the darkness and silence. All they could hear was their own light footsteps. As they rounded the corner, J’mall grabbed her nose to shield it from the smell that met her nostrils.

“What is that?” she questioned. The others cringed at the smell.

“Smells like rotting meat,” Brady offered.

“Whatever it is, it’s disgusting!” J’mall said, scrunching up her nose in a vain attempt to protect it from the smell. The ship was giving her the creeps; the deathly silence was making her nervous. The team rounded a corner and J’mall felt her foot kick something; she whirled and pointed her wrist light to the floor.

“Oh my god…” she said softly, “ Commander! I found something…” All three wrist lights levelled on J’mall’s discovery. Their eyes widened in shock.

“What the hell…” Brady murmured. Lying on the floor against the bulkhead was the body of a dead crewman. His stomach had been literally ripped open and there was a large bloodstain on the carpet. Across his arms and face were several scratch marks, like he’d been attacked by something with claws, sharp claws. His eyes were wide open, as was his mouth. His expression was that of unthinkable pain. J’mall turned her head away, covering her mouth. Brady stepped towards the body.

“It looks like something started eating him, while the poor guy was still alive,” he stated.

“I think we have a pretty good idea what happened to the crew…” J’mall pointed out. Brady crouched down and ran his fingers over the corpse’s eyes, closing them.

 

Shearer sat in the captain’s chair of the Monet staring at the view of the drifting Intrepid class starship on the main viewer. He noted that main power must have failed, as no lights shone out of the many windows along the hull. The ship was drifting at one-quarter impulse power, with the Monet gliding alongside her.  The silence of the bridge was broken by the crackle of a communication channel being opened.

“Kingston to Monet,” the commander’s voice boomed over the bridge speakers. Shearer tapped a button on his chair arm.

“Go ahead commander,” he acknowledged.

“Sir, we think we know what happened to the crew of the Xavier,” she paused and took a breath. “We found a body of a dead crewman, it looks like he was attacked and…” she trailed off.

“And what, commander? Don’t keep us guessing,” Shearer asked.

“It looks like he’s been eaten alive, sir,” she finished. Shearer’s eyes widened.

“Eaten? Are you sure?” he asked.

“Pretty sure, I won’t go in to details, I’m trying to get the image out of my head as it is,” she said.

“I understand. Do you have any idea what did this?”

“We haven’t detected anything, although J’mall says she can sense something. Whatever they are, we can’t detect them,” she reported. Shearer could see the looks of shock among the crew on the bridge and he was pretty sure he was giving a similar look. He had never in his life heard of anything like this happening on a starship.  It was horrible to think about it. He was glad not to be on the Xavier and having to see the body of the dead crewman.

“You still need to get to the bridge, that forcefield that’s in place could mean there are survivors up there,” he reminded the away team.

“Understood sir, we’ve only got to go up one deck, it won’t take us long,” Kingston’s voice came back over the comm channel. Shearer leaned forward.

“Be careful Commander, whatever did that to the crew is still on board,” he warned.

Don’t worry sir, we’ll be fine.” With that the comm channel closed. Shearer turned his attention back to the main viewer. He turned towards the tactical station, which was manned by a Vulcan lieutenant.

“Lieutenant, keep a transporter lock on them, I want to be able to beam them out at the first sign of trouble,” he ordered. The lieutenant simply nodded.

 

Commander Natasha Kingston shivered. The ship was not only dark, it was cold as well. Obviously the environmental controls were off-line.  She rubbed the top half of her arms and shoulders in an attempt to keep warm. If she could see directly in front of her, she was sure that her breath was misting up as it exited her mouth. She followed close behind lieutenant Brady as the away team was making their way towards a jefferies tube hatch near the front of the deck. That jefferies tube would take them to the bridge. Thankfully, they hadn’t seen any more bodies of half eaten crewmembers lying around, but had seen plenty of bloodstains in the carpet. As they reached the hatch, Kingston felt something bump into her. She whirled round to see commander J’mall.

“Sorry, I didn’t see you stop,” she apologised. Kingston’s heart rate began to return to normal.

“That’s ok,” she replied, shaking her head. Brady opened up a panel on the bulkhead next to the hatch. Kingston pointed her wrist light onto the panel. Brady grabbed the large lever and twisted it once to the left. There was a faint clicking sound and the hatch doors parted slightly. Brady moved and placed his hands inside the small opening of the hatch doors and pushed them open. He shone his wrist light down the hatch, surveying their route.  All clear. He clambered into the hatch, with Kingston and J’mall close behind. The three officers were silent as they crawled through the cramped spaces of the jefferies tube. Suddenly, there was a loud crashing sound from the hatch above.  All three of their hearts suddenly went into over drive as they stopped dead in their tracks.

“Wha-what was that?” J’mall asked nervously. Brady pulled out his tricorder.

“There’s something in the tube above us, I can’t tell you what it is though, the readings are all over the place,” he whispered. They all looked up as something scurried about above them. J’mall opened her mouth to speak but was cut off by a piercing howl. J’mall covered her ears in a vain attempt to block out the sound.  The scurrying stopped as suddenly as it had started. All three Starfleet officers were crouched, completely quiet and frozen to the spot with fear. Only their heavy breathing broke the silence. A loud thud suddenly came from above, followed swiftly by loud scraping noises. The sound was getting closer. All three of them knew what was happening. Whatever this creature was, it knew they were underneath it and had begun to try to dig its way to them. It must have strong claws as the conduit above them began to buckle and give in.

“Oh my god! It’s breaking through the floor!” J’mall screamed. She felt a hand grab her and drag her away.

“Come on! We’ve got to get out of here!” she heard Brady shout. They hurried through the jefferies tube as quickly as they could. A loud crashing noise behind them made them stop dead and whirl round.

“Don’t stop! We have to keep moving! The hatch is only a few metres ahead!” Brady shouted.  The creature let out another howl.  J’mall moved completely on adrenaline, her blood ran cold through her veins. She had never been so scared in her entire life. The scurrying behind them was getting louder by the second. It was getting closer. After what seemed to be an eternity, they finally reached the hatch. Brady fumbled around the hatch looking for the manual override.

“Hurry Ralph!” J’mall screamed. Brady the switch and activated it.  The doors parted slightly and all three officers placed their fingers through the gap and pulled the doors apart. Commander Kingston stumbled through first, followed by J’mall and Brady.

“Lieutenant, seal the hatch!” Brady slammed the doors closed and locked it down. A few seconds later, they heard a loud thud from the other side.

“We don’t have much time, that door won’t hold it for long!” Brady shouted, putting away his tricorder. Kingston checked her tricorder.

“We’re directly underneath the bridge, there’s a hatch three metres away that isn’t protected by a forcefield, get moving!” Brady reached up to the hatch in the ceiling and pulled it open. The covering impacted the deck loudly. He shone his wrist light into the opening. Satisfied he turned to his crewmates and nodded to them. J’mall moved towards him and he cupped his hands together. The two made eye contact for less than two seconds, but those two seconds made J’mall feel a whole lot safer knowing he was there with her. She placed her foot in his cupped hands and he hoisted her up into the darkness. Kingston quickly followed. Once she was safely through the hatch, both her and J’mall reached down to grab hold of Brady’s outstretched arms and hoisted him up. As soon as he was through, J’mall and Kingston quickly moved to close the hatch. Suddenly they heard a crashing noise as the hatch holding the creature away finally gave in. Both women looked up at each other, their eyes wide with anxiety. Just before the hatch doors closed J’mall caught a glimpse of two fiery orange eyes staring up at her. She became frozen with fear, her blood running cold. She jumped as she felt a hand grab her shoulder.

“Are you ok?” came the soft voice of Lieutenant Brady. She turned to face him, looking him directly in the eyes.

“I’ll be ok,” she replied. He nodded and squeezed her shoulder gently before taking his arm away.  He reached down to his belt and pulled out his tricorder. The lights from the tiny device lit up his face in an eerie red/greenish glow.

“I’m reading a life form on the bridge, it appears to be human,” he reported. Kingston moved forward.

“We’ll have to be careful, we don’t want to startle who ever it is on the other side of that hatch,” she cautioned. Brady nodded. He moved towards the hatch and slowly pushed the doors aside. Once they were apart, he slid carefully out of the jefferies tube and onto the bridge of the USS Xavier. Kingston and J’mall followed. Brady scanned the room and he felt his stomach wrench as his flashlight fell upon the bodies of some more unlucky crewmembers. The three officers didn’t say a word; they just bowed their heads in respect to their fallen comrades.

“Over there!” Kingston said, pointing her flashlight in the direction of the viewscreen. There sat a quivering young woman, her head buried in her knees. She didn’t seem to even notice the presence of the away team. Brady moved over to her and placed his hand on the woman’s shoulder.

“It’s ok, we’re here to help you,” he said softly. The woman didn’t move. Brady looked up at J’mall.

“She’s afraid…” she paused, clutching her forehead and screwing her eyes as if she were in pain. “…Very afraid. I’ve never felt any fear this intense before. We have to get her back to the ship,” she said, with a slight quiver in her voice. Kingston nodded to Brady, who moved over to one of the bridge consoles and attempted to drop the forcefield in place around the bridge. J’mall knelt down in front of the woman. She placed her hand under her chin and gently lifted her head. The woman’s face was a deathly white, her eyes filled with fear, staring into space. She didn’t even look at J’mall.

“She’s in a really bad way Commander,” she said. J’mall gently removed her hand from under the woman’s chin, letting her head slip between her knees once again. Kingston suddenly noticed a phaser sitting beside the woman. She turned round in the direction it was facing, focusing her flashlight on the shadow in the centre of the bridge.

“I’ll be damned…”

 

Captain Shearer waited patiently in the turbolift, his destination being sickbay on deck six. A few moments ago, the away team from the Xavier had beamed back onboard with two guests. He felt the turbolift slow to a halt, and then with a beep from the computer, the doors parted to reveal a corridor on deck six. He confidently strode out of the turbolift and proceeded towards sickbay, just around the corner. As he approached the large double doors, they swept aside to reveal the spacious sickbay. Several nurses who were tending to crewmembers smiled at him as he made his way past them towards the main bio-bed at the far end of the room. At the base of the bed stood Doctor Hughes, who was inputting something into the diagnostic terminal. Standing to the left of the bed was lieutenant commander J’mall, her hand clutching that of the young woman lying on the bed. She wasn’t very old, probably in her early twenties. She had long blonde hair, which flowed over her shoulders. She had blood all over her uniform, he was uncertain whether it was all her own. Her face was completely white, fear draining all the colour from her cheeks. Her eyes were wide, staring into space, not taking in what was around her. He felt truly sorry for this woman, what she had seen must have been horrific to scare her so much.

“How is our guest doctor?” he asked as he approached them. Hughes jumped slightly before turning around.

“I really wish you wouldn’t do that, you’re going to give me a heart attack one of these days!” she snapped, taking a deep breath. Shearer grinned.

“I’m sorry Doctor, I didn’t mean to startle you,” he apologised. “So, how’s our patient?” he asked again, as he moved around to the right hand side of the bed. Hughes moved aside from the diagnostic terminal.

“Physically, she’s fine no serious injuries, just a few bumps and bruises,” she moved past the captain to the head of the bed and placed her hand on the forehead of the woman. “However, her mental state is much worse. Commander J’mall has volunteered to help, her empathic abilities will be a great help,” she reported. Shearer glanced up at J’mall and smiled.

“It won’t happen overnight, but with commander J’mall’s help I’m confident she’ll make a decent, if not full recovery,” Hughes finished.

“Good work doctor,” Shearer said. He turned around to face the rest of sickbay, scouring the bio-beds. “What about our other guest?” he asked. J’mall looked up.

“Commander Kingston is with it in the brig, sir,” she replied.

“Ah right, well, I think I’ll take a little stroll down there,” Shearer said. He started towards the door and as they parted before him; he stopped and looked over his shoulder towards the main bio-bed. “I have faith in you both, our guest is lucky to have you helping her,” he said, smiling. J’mall smiled, Hughes just rolled her eyes and shook her head lightly. Shearer grinned. He made his way out of the door and headed back to the turbolift.

 

Commander Kingston stared at the creature lying behind the protective forcefield of brig cell two. It was huge, at least two and a half metres in length. Its entire body was covered with a gingerish, brown spotted fur. Its legs were huge, muscles rippled through its skin. The claws on its paw were deadly; each one was at least two inches long and extremely sharp. A crewmember had sliced open his hand on one when he and three others carried the creature into the cell. Its face reminded her of a wolf’s features. It had a long snout, with long pointed ears. Along its snout several large, sharp teeth protruded from its mouth. Its eyes were closed, but she could remember the cold, orange, glowing eyes that had stared up at her while on the Xavier. She felt a shiver run down her spine. She shook it off and continued to take tricorder readings. She heard the doors whisk aside. She turned her head to see the captain approaching her.

“My god, its huge!” he exclaimed as he came to a stop beside her. Kingston closed her tricorder and placed it back on her belt.

“It’s also very strong, almost half of its body mass is muscle. I can understand now how one of them managed to break through the floor of a jefferies tube,” she informed him. Shearer nodded, amazed.

“Any idea where they came from? How did they get on board the Xavier?” he asked, still studying the creature.

“We have no idea sir, we couldn’t access the ships log while we were on board, their main computer was offline,” she reported. Shearer nodded.

“Now we know what readings these things give out, can we feed that info into the sensors and locate the rest of this ones ‘pack’?” he asked. Kingston nodded. She put her hand the tricorder on her belt.

“Yes, I was just about to take this to the bridge and upload the information,” she replied. Shearer took one last look at the creature, the stepped to one side and held his hand out towards the door.

“Then, by all means commander, lead the way,” he ordered.

 

 

The bridge was unusually empty as captain Shearer and commander Kingston stepped off the turbolift. Shearer had ordered that all non-essential officers take some rest while they dealt with the Xavier incident. The crew had welcomed this; many of them had had very little rest in the past 46 hours as they had been in action protecting supply convoys to the front lines. Shearer made his way around the railings and down the ramp towards his chair at the centre of the bridge. As he sunk into it, Kingston relieved the officer manning commander J’mall’s station and took his place. She took the tricorder from her belt, opened it up and placed it on the surface of the console. She tapped a few commands into the computer then the tricorder beeped loudly, signalling that the computer was downloading the information contained within it. A short second later, the words ‘download complete’ appeared on the monitor.

“I’m ready to start the scan captain,” she reported.

“Go right ahead commander,” Shearer said from his chair. Kingston nodded and worked her console.

“Scanning…” Shearer glanced up at the image of the Xavier on the main viewer then quickly looked away. He had seen far too many dead, drifting starships on that viewscreen lately. The war was losing momentum; they all knew the end was soon near. No one could predict the outcome of the war though, but the odds seemed to be the favour of the Dominion.

“Scan complete,” commander Kingston’s voice interrupted the captain’s trail of thought. He turned his slightly, letting the commander know she had his full attention.

“I’m detecting just over twenty of the creatures scattered about the ship. The main concentration though seems to around main engineering,” she reported.

“Is there anyway you can get a transporter lock on them?” Shearer asked. Kingston worked her console for a second, then shook her head.

“Sorry sir, I can’t get individual locks on them,” she paused for a second. “But, if we can get the Xavier’s internal sensors working, we can use them to lock onto the creatures,” she proposed. Shearer thought for a second then tapped a button on his chair arm.

“Shearer to Gravis,” he said over the comm channel. A few seconds passed then the computer beeped to confirm a connection.

“Gravis here, go ahead captain,” came lieutenant Gravis’s voice over the bridge speakers.

“Lieutenant, can we give the Xavier a power transfer without having to go aboard?” Shearer asked. There was a brief silence.

“It’s possible sir, I could set up an umbilical transfer. It’ll take at least a couple of hours and we’ll need to get within 100 metres of the Xavier’s hull so we can attach the cord,” Gravis replied.

“Excellent, get to work Mr Gravis,” Shearer ordered.

“Aye, sir!” The comm channel closed with a beep. Shearer looked towards the helm.

“Lieutenant, take us within range if the Xavier and hold position,” he ordered. Maverick worked his console for a second.

“Aye sir, holding at 100 metres,” he announced. Shearer nodded and settled back into his chair, looking at the Xavier float past the viewscreen. He heard commander Kingston drop into her seat beside him. He turned to face her.

“What exactly do you plan on doing once we get a transporter lock?” she asked him, quietly.

“When we get the Xavier’s main power back online we can transport them to their cargo bay and isolate them with forcefields. That should hold them till we reach dock,” he replied.

“Lets just hope we don’t run into any Dominion ships on the way back,” she said, settling back into her chair. Shearer nodded in agreement and settled his gaze back onto the viewscreen.

 

“Chief! We’re ready to give it a try!” someone shouted from the lower level of engineering. Lieutenant Gravis put down the padds he was using, leaving them sitting on top of his master control console. He made his way towards the ladder to the left of him and climbed down from the upper engineering level.

“Good work guys,” he said to the three engineers waiting for him below. The three smiled, glad of the appreciation. Gravis moved over to them. “Get ready to begin the power transfer,” he ordered. The three engineers nodded and moved away to man their stations. Gravis tapped his comm badge.

“Engineering to bridge,” he said. A few seconds passed.

“Bridge here, are we ready to go?” came commander Kingston’s voice over the comm.

“That we are commander, permission to go?” he asked.

Go for it,” came the commander’s reply. Gravis smiled. He nodded to the engineer closest to him.

“You heard the commander, begin the power transfer,” he ordered as he moved towards a console to observe the power flow. The engineer quickly complied, tapping in several commands.

“Power transfer underway,” he stated. Gravis monitored the power levels on his screen. The transfer was holding steady and the Xavier began to show output.

“Looking good, in a minute or two we’ll be able to get the main power online,” he said. He tapped his badge. “Bridge, power transfer was successful, you should be able to bring the Xavier’s main power online in a couple of minutes,” he reported.

Good work chief,” came the commanders voice a couple of seconds later. Gravis smiled and tapped his badge again to close the connection. He looked towards his assistants.

“Keep an eye on the power flow, once the Xavier’s got enough stored up, cut the transfer and let me know,” he ordered. His assistants nodded and set to work. Gravis moved back towards the ladder and climbed back to the top level.

 

 

The console beeped approvingly. Commander Kingston smiled and looked up from the operations console.

“Captain, the Xavier’s internal sensors are online and I’ve got a transporter lock on the creatures,” she reported. Captain Shearer turned his head towards the tactical station.

“Ralph, you ready with the forcefields?” he asked. The Monet’s tactical officer tapped a couple of commands into his console then replied.

“Forcefields standing by.” Shearer turned his attention to his first officer. She met his gaze a nodded. She entered some commands into the operations console.

“Targets locked, energizing,” she stated, sliding three fingers up her console. The bridge was silent for a few tense seconds.

“Transport complete, all the creatures are in cargo bay two,” Kingston reported.

“Forcefields are in place and holding,” Brady chimed in from the tactical station. Shearer rose from his seat and walked towards the railing just behind the helm.

“Lieutenant, prepare to take us out of here and get the tractor beam ready,” he ordered. Maverick acknowledged the order and set to work. Shearer tapped his comm badge.

“Bridge to engineering,” he paused. “Chief, retract the umbilical, we’re getting ready to depart,” he ordered. A few seconds passed, lieutenant Gravis was no doubt carrying out the order.

“Aye sir, umbilical retracted. We’re ready to go,” came the chief engineer’s voice.

“Thank you lieutenant,” he said, closing the comm channel. “Maverick, activate the tractor beam and set course for the nearest starbase,” he ordered. Maverick worked his console as the captain returned turned and headed for his chair.

“Tractor beam locked sir,” the young lieutenant reported just as Shearer was settling into his seat.

“Very good, take us out of here,” he ordered, shifting about a bit in his chair to get comfortable.

“Aye, sir!” Maverick replied. With that the USS Monet glided off with the USS Xavier in tow.

 

 

Sickbay was all but deserted when captain Shearer entered. Obviously the last shift had just finished as the lights were set to nighttime operations. He noticed that the bio beds were empty, save for one. He had not seen sickbay this empty since the start of the war. As he approached Doctor Hughes’s office, the good doctor herself came striding out.

“Oh, hello captain. I wasn’t expecting you,” she said, stopping just in front of him. Shearer smiled a greeting.

“Good evening doctor. I just came to see how our guest was doing?” he inquired, looking over towards the one occupied bio bed.

“Not much has changed. I’ve done everything I can, as has commander J’mall,” she paused, sighing. “Once we get her to the starbase, we can get her the help she needs,” she replied, a hint of sadness in her voice. The captain placed his hand on her shoulder.

“You’ve done your best doctor, she’s been through a traumatic experience. I’m confident she’ll recover,” he reassured her. Hughes smiled.

“As am I, captain,” she replied. Shearer removed his hand from his doctor’s shoulder.

“Now,” he said, clasping his hands together. “Are you hungry? I was just about to have dinner,” he asked.

“Famished,” Hughes replied, smiling. “Lead the way!” Shearer bowed his head and turned towards the sickbay doors. Hughes followed and afforded one last glance at her patient before the doors closed behind her.