‘Countdown to Oblivion'
Main Engineering, Deck 4
Although main engineering was located on deck 4, with the turbolifts disabled Stanley and his motley trio had to run the length of the ship from the VIP lounge. The self-destruct had begun before they had even made to Engineering.
When the blue skinned and aloof Stanley charged into engineering, the faces of the NCOs and ensigns lit up at seeing some sort of expectant salvation.
Matt Duffy quickly brought the Helm officer up to speed explaining in answer to Stanley's initial response, "No it's no trickery on the captain's part. The power couplings are dangerously overheating. I don't even know how he tripped the safeties and protocols to do this. This is not one of the standard methods for initiating a self-destruct."
Stanley bent over to view the readings on the console closer with his black orb eyes. "Hmm ... I rather imagine Ensign Duffy that that is precisely the intention of our dear Captain. He obviously circumvented protocol with the expressed intention of creating a non-protocol procedure."
"How do we stop it then?"
Coolly, Stanley answered as if taking a walk in the park studying the figures, "I imagine actually the Captain has designed it so that it cannot be stopped."
"Well I've tried all the standard approaches to stop it but so far no joy. Should we abandon ship?"
"That ... ensign was your first mistake. The self-destruct procedure is not standard therefore the methods to stop it or not likely to be standard either. Can we eject the warp core?"
Duffy shook his head. "No our control functions are limited. Besides ejecting the core won't stop the overload in the power couplings at this stage."
"No. But it will stop us blowing up the Starbase. At least some good might come of this."
"Some good might come of this!? I don't see how ..."
"In my experience with humans they often express sentiments of hope or sacrifice for a greater good in times of stress or dire need. Is this not an appropriate situation in which to express such a sentiment?" Stanley stopped hacking the computer to look up at Duffy and enquire of the proper social protocol.
"I think there are more pressing matters." Stanley shrugged as if accepting the answer reluctantly. Duffy then implored, "Will I get the remainder of the engineering crew to evacuate?"
Stanley looked up and then around at the milling but troubled faces of the engineering crew as if only noticing their presence now. "Oh, I should dare say not. Captain McGregor would be appalled if any of the crew were to abandon their posts in the midst of a crisis. No, no, that would never do." He then returned to the console.
"But it's not a crisis it's a-"
"Self destruct in ... Forty seconds."
"Yes, I do understand but I have every faith we can stop the self-destruct. Certainly, I think we should at least endeavour to try. It's the very least Captain McGregor would expect of us." Duffy found himself shaking his head incredulously at the level-headed almost languid emotions of the helm officer.
"We could try to eject the nacelles remotely if we can. Thereby containing the explosion to the nacelles if we could shield the ship enough."
Duffy called out joyously, "I can try to use the deflector to amplify the shields!"
"Very good Ensign Duffy. I shall endeavour to eject the nacelles."
"Self destruct in ... Twenty seconds."
Duffy's brow beaded with sweat and then with another eureka style call he proclaimed, "I've managed to tap into the deflector!"
"Very good Ensign Duffy. However, I appear to have failed in my efforts to remote eject the nacelles." His voice did not seem to express any great sorrow but his composed features did frown as he looked up into the faces of the engineering crew who had indeed remained at their posts and now realised they had sealed their fate. The klaxons and sirens then kicked up into a final cacophony of noise and volume. "Self destruct in ... Ten"
Stanley stepped back from the controls blinking seemingly unphased only deigning to voice, "Dear oh dear."
" ... Nine ... "
Duffy cried aloud in frustration unable to stop the countdown.
"Eight ... Seven ... Six ... Five ... Four ... Three ... Two ... One ... Self-destruct."
All hell was unleashed.
* * *
Environmental controls, Deck 4
"I think not." At that, Vardros threw his toolbox at Becca. She ducked to avoid but he sprang forward at the same time pulling out a hidden disruptor.
Berkley immediately ran forward even as Becca hollered at him to shoot.
Vardros crashed into Becca causing her phaser to skitter across the deck. He smashed his fist into her jaw then raised his disruptor at Berkley who received the shot to his chest with wide-eyed shock before crumpling backwards. Vardros then returned his attention to the petite NCO.
"Time to sort you out, bitch! And I think I'm going to enjoy this." He looked down on her with hungry lust. Becca though was going to have none of it if she could help it.
The self-destruct alarm then wailed shocking Vardros. He looked up at the ceiling as the computer's voice announced the countdown. It was enough of a distraction. Becca was able to free a leg and kneed him in the groin. Vardros rolled off the NCO in pain but snarling snatched his gun and fired as she rolled over in the opposite direction. The shots were wild and went wide but Becca tripped over as she ducked to avoid.
Vardros picked himself up and aimed true when a security officer suddenly manhandled him to the ground. Becca saw quickly Sebastian Templar had come to her aid. A fact she resented but was thankful for at the same time.
Her relief was short lived though as Vardros in his struggle fired his pistol just short of Templar's face. The shot thankfully did not hit the security ensign but it did blind Templar and caused him to fall back snatching at his face. Vardros held little pity kicking Templar in the stomach and to the deck.
Becca had no idea as to where her own phaser had skittered to so had no other recourse but to ram herself bodily into Vardros before he fired on Sebastian. She managed to wind herself in doing so but successfully dislodged the disruptor from the grip of Vardros.
"You'll pay for that!"
"Not before you." Vardros never even got to look back at Sebastian before the ensign kicked the legs of the boarder out from under him. But he kicked back vehemently landing his boot on Sebastian's chin.
Becca put her phaser to the back of his head. She demanded, "What were you doing?"
Vardros hissed defiantly, "You'll soon see."
She smacked him with a swing from her phaser to the back of his skull. "Answer me."
Bowing over he merely laughed. Putting a hand to his bleeding scalp, he looked at the blood and lips twisted in distain for the NCO told her, "Your interrogation skills are lame petty officer. If I had the time I'd soon show you how to do it properly."
"I'd like to see you try."
She fired the phaser at the deck and then pressed its superhot muzzle to the skin of his throat. "I'll give it my best shot."
"I don't think so." He threw his head back throwing Becca onto her back as he snapped up the phaser and pointed it at her in turn. "Rather I think it is my turn, a pity I don't have the time to make a good sport out of it ..." A transporter beam enveloped him depriving Becca of her answers and Vardros of his sport.
"Self destruct in ... Forty seconds"
Sebastian hauled Becca up to her feet and propelled her along the corridor. "Quick we have to get to an escape pod!"
"No. We can't go without Berkley."
Sebastian looked back and cursed. He kicked himself for doing so but he went back with Becca to lift the prostrate lieutenant. Struggling to bear his weight with their injuries, they sluggishly shuffled down the corridor. They were metres from the hatch to an escape pod when the klaxons and sirens pitched up into a final cacophony of noise and volume.
"Self destruct in ... Ten ... Nine ... Eight ... Seven ... Six ... Five ..."
Sebastian looked over to Becca as if seeking forgiveness in this last moment. Becca tried to ignore his gaze but her eyes met his in the last few seconds of the countdown. " Four ... Three ... Two ... One ... Self-destruct."
Then came the flames surging through the corridor and from up under the deck plates to engulf them.
* * *
Security control, Docking gate 2, Deck 6
"Stay down!" Eddie Gardner's firm hands were tough, rough and traced with tiny scars after long years working on the inner workings of a Starfleet vessel. Jex found her chin pushed down to the deck by his protective impulse.
Struggling under his grip whilst he fired off a number of shots she shouted aloud, "Chief!" Without a word, he released his hold on the ensign, who got to her knees and aimed her newly acquired phaser down the corridor towards the security station.
The attackers had retreated to the stronghold as soon as the alert was raised. It had afforded Jex and Gardner the opportunity to get out of the line of fire. Eddie's carbine fired off numerous deadly shots that caused the attackers to duck for cover and allowed he and Jex to get in behind a bulkhead.
Over the alert, he shouted as he stood protected by the deck partition frame, "That's better!" That was when the self-destruct sequence began and Gardner cursed forcibly his face reddening. He wasted several rounds from his carbine to vent his anger and frustration. Around the security station, fire erupted and scorching shrapnel littered the floor in front.
"Surely McGregor means it as a feint! I remember once ...." Her memory cut short as the attackers retaliated in fear and anger at the turn of events.
"McGregor doesn't like to bluff. He always does everything for a reason. His reasoning tends to be his own though. Damn! I've got to get to engineering. I might be able to stop it." He blindly fired around the bulkhead as phaser hits smashed into the walls around them. "Ensign, I've no doubt security is on its way."
"Yeah of course Chief." She dropped to her knees again and chanced a few shots down the corridor.
"What I mean is ... damn missed him ...I'm gonna have to leave you to your own devises."
"Like I said, got to stop whatever McGregor has cooked up. Before he cocks it up."
She squeezed her eyes shut as the deck beside her threw up flames and debris. "What?"
"The damned Captain keeps tinkering with my systems to make the ship do what he wants. He probably thinks he knows what he is doing but he's as like to burn us up as save us."
"And what if he actually intends for the ship to blow up? Perhaps we should evacuate."
"Then we can kiss our chances goodbye. Just keep shooting! Sorry ..." with that Gardner ducked and ran off down the corridor back the way they came to Engineering. Jex dived into the bulkhead as heavy phaser fire enveloped the corridor at his retreat. She squealed as she fired off random shots in retaliation. Jex looked back to see what progress Gardner had made but there was no sign and no sign of any back up.
A blast of directed fire above her head caused her to stumble out into the corridor. Heart racing Leoni fumbled through her memories of her Jex symbiont to garner some survival skills and to master her fears and reactions. The Jex part of her told her to breathe deep, deep up and run like hell for cover.
It seemed like good advice in the circumstances and so Jex rolled onto her hands and feet and pushing herself into a sprint headed for a door opening. But one of the attackers anticipated her move and fired ahead of her. She threw herself out of the way and dodging the shots meant she careened into the bulkhead and tripped over her feet to smash into the deck plates.
Her breath was smacked from her lungs in the fall and her phaser tumbled from her grip. "No!" she scrambled across the deck to her phaser. But one of the attackers, a surly Nausicaan, she now saw that his holo-projector was terminated, cocky and lecherous stalked towards Jex.
Undeterred she rushed forwards for the weapon but his heavy armoured boot stomped on her hand. He then grinded her trapped hand twisting his boot. He gave a guttural laugh as he levied his weapon to her forehead as Jex looked up at her enemy.
Jex saw the muzzle of the disruptor and out of focus the tusks and bloody gums of the Nausicaan's feral grin. Then a flash of something fast moving reflecting light and dark red orange fur. More than that, she heard a terrible growl that sent shivers up her spine and swallowed her up in horrible memories. The memory and sudden movement caused her to flinch and close her eyes.
When she opened them again, the muzzle of the gun and the Nausicaan were gone. Instead, the spray of arterial blood coated the ceiling and wall. Turning her head she saw the Nausicaan lying in a pool of blood and the flash of fur clothed in a Starfleet uniform propel itself over the front of the security station through the miasma of smoke and fire. From the shroud of burning detritus, she heard the growl again and fearsome tearing shredding sounds and the awful screams of the attacker being savagely mauled.
Then the furred figure stood to its impressive height, almost three metres tall. Its claws dripped blood. Its eyes glowered with a fierce hunger. Its features contorted in a mix of anger and disgust. Its features unmistakably Kzinti!
And Jex succumbed to her memories. Memories not of Leoni. Memories of another Jex. Memories of another life. Memories of a family savagely eviscerated. Memories of Kzinti mauling, clawing, tearing flesh, pouring blood, feasting on their prey.
"Are you injured ensign?" Leoni Jex kept her eyes shut and remained on her back unresponsive to the voice of the Kzinti. "Are you injured?" The voice sounded harsher at having to repeat itself. It compelled Jex to open her eyes and look up at the figure behind the security desk. Its eyes bore into hers as if seeking a reason for her refusal to answer. It did not look as if it were use to people not doing as it said or answering its questions.
Jex gulped and swallowed her memories and trying to hold back her fear answered in a quivering voice, "I am fine. Just ... just startled." Shakily she got to her feet. As she did she heard the approach of others and instinctively grabbed for her weapon. Secretly glad for having a reason to hold the weapon in the vicinity of the Kzinti.
At this point, Yeoman Whent and team turned into the smouldering corridor expecting a gunfight. They stopped short to see a bloodied Nausican lying prostrate and the blood soaked Kzinti standing proudly over an unidentified pool of blood seeping out from behind the security station.
Seeming to collect itself with heavy laboured breaths the towering Kzinti in its deep and wicked tone commanded, "Secure the prisoner. This one is dead." The Kzinti looked down at whatever remained at his feet. "And check the ensign's vitals."
"I'm fine, just shaky!" She waved the help away and ignored the Kzinti's stare. The remainder of the party divided to the different tasks and securing the general area.
"Mr. Fang ... I mean ..." Colouring at his slip, Whent approached the Kzinti but then taking in the sight to behold at his feet paled and crumpled to the floor.
Unperturbed at this turn of events the Kzinti took Jex by the elbow and growled. "We have little time."
Jex flinched and then turned to the ceiling as the computer's voice counted down.
"There's less than thirty seconds!"
"Come." The Kzinti hauled her along as they ran off down the corridor.
Jex demanded to know of this ... this monster ... this Kzinti. "Where are you taking me?"
"I am taking you nowhere, we have work to do yet."
"But the self-destruct! Who are you?"
"McGregor will not destroy the Kestrel." He sounded supremely confident of that even as the klaxons and sirens kicked up into a final cacophony of noise and volume. "Self destruct in ... Ten ... Nine ... Eight ... Seven ... Six ... Five ..."
He pulled on her tightly as he pushed them faster down the corridor, "We must hurry."
Jex could scarce believe the words as the last few seconds ticked away.
" Four ... Three ... Two ... One ... Self-destruct."
Jex screamed in horror as around her opened up in destructive energy.
* * *