Thursday, November 19, 2015

Debrief 3

Month 6 Day 11
Capt Jane Burke
0234 Hrs

Jane didn't realize she had started to float in a sea of numbness until she heard an unexpected familiar voice somewhere behind her. "I thought I had set that to human normal visual before I sent the files to you."
"The display was not set for the normal human range when you found it?" Takor asked.
"No, none of them have been. They've all been like that. I could barely see anything until I reset the screens. Do you mean you haven't studied the new files at all?" Jane opened her eyes and turned to stare at the chief engineer.
"Actually, I have. This setting is not as easy to see as the human range, but it is within Sciss parameters."
"Oh. I never stopped to think- Well, anyway, do you have any thoughts on-"
"Smitty, are you done with your nap already?"
The engineer turned to face her, looking chagrinned. "About that..."
"That would make you the fastest sleeper I've ever known, to manage 4 hours of sleep in..." she glanced at the chronometer, "...less than 2 hours!"
"He discovered Mac using his computer again," Takor explained.
Smitty sent a quick glance across the bridge, relaxed. Tall Bear now sat at the weapons console. When did Winthrop leave? And where did he go? "Really? Did you have any better luck with her than security has?"
"No," he admitted. "I was so... empty-headed when I got there, I didn't realize she was there until she left."
How could he not... No, as tired as I am right now, I'm not sure I'd notice if someone was in my bed, let alone my living room. And he can't be in any better shape. "Studying? Couldn't she do that anywhere?"
"My magazines on theoretical engineering are only available on my computer."
"She seemed particularly interested in articles pertaining to matter transmitting," Takor added. "I have similar articles in my quarters, but I doubt she's learned enough Scissan to read them."
She can't pass her communications probational, but she can understand theoretical engineering? Has he refused to pass her? How bad a case has he got for this girl? What's missing? This doesn't make sense. Or is my brain too tired to work?
Smitty opened his mouth, hesitated, then pushed his words out. "The planet below is obviously inhabited, Captain, given the colony on their largest moon. I know we haven't seen any spaceships, or even airships, but what if their scientists took a different path? What if they have matter transmittance? Maybe one of them has taken over Colleen's body! She hasn't been herself since..." His face turned red. Jane blinked, wondering at this uncharacteristic imagination from her chief engineer.
"Since she was working on the communications console, which had an electrical charge," Bugalu stated.
"And still does," Abdulla added. "Everything is charred, but they all still have a charge. Mr Smythe, how does the most popular theory propose that matter be transmitted?"
Startled by the question, Smitty considered his answer briefly. "The machine puts the matter into stasis, doesn't even let electrons move about their orbits. It plots the location of every iota of mass, strips it down to particles, sends them to the new location and puts it back together."
"I don't see-" Jane began.
"That might work for a lump of coal," Abdulla stated. "But living tissue isn't just mass; it also contains electricity. If the electricity wasn't there when it was reassembled, whatever was sent wouldn't be alive."
"They're trying to get it figured out for inert items first," Smitty responded.
"Scissan scientists believe the energy must accompany the living tissue being transmitted," Takor added. "They believe the energy binds the mass together during transmission and returns the matter to life once reassembled."
"We can discuss theory another time," Jane suggested testily. "Why did that theory lead you to believe some alien intelligence has taken over her body?"
"Well, it didn't, exactly. I looked at the schematics in those articles, and her notes. She'd used a combination of engineering and communications pieces mixed together. Realizing that, and knowing she couldn't come to the bridge to try that rearranging, I got Ensign Jones to go with me to the auxiliary bridge-"
"Jones! What was he doing in your quarters?"
Confusion clouded Smitty's eyes for a moment. "He wasn't. I went to engineering and got him."
Jane, you're so tired, your brain isn't working right. Maybe it's time to leave someone else in charge and take a nap. She nodded for the engineer to continue.
"And that's where she was, with both the engineering and communications consoles open, constructing a... well, constructing something in the space between them."
"She was sabotaging the ship?" If she's started-
"In the short term, those consoles would not have been usable for their actual purpose, but I don't think she was doing any permanent damage. I didn't take the time to analyze it; I needed to get Jones to sick bay."
"He just came out of sick bay!" Jane protested.
"Well, he's there again." Smitty cleared his throat. "When she didn't respond to his instructions, he shot the circuit board she was attaching and it blew up. She reacted by throwing her tool, and it hit his forehead, knocked him out. Big lump, bit of blood. Probably a concussion, Dr Koontz said."
That's two men she's knocked out. In our current situation, I couldn't afford to lose one. "Where did you put Ms MacDowell? Sick bay or the brig?" She watched Smitty's face go red and sighed in frustration. "She got away?"
Smitty stiffened, stared straight ahead. "Yes."
"How? You had a phazer. Didn't you?"
"I tried to talk to her. And she tried to respond! At first, I didn't hear anything, but with great effort, she managed to say a few words that I did hear. I'd accused her of sabotaging the ship, and she said she wasn't. Then she said," he paused to think, "that I should 'Help call a- She needs-' And then her voice faded out again."
"She's a communications officer! If she needs to call someone-"
"Captain, she didn't say, 'I need-'. She used the word 'she'. Somebody else needed help. That bolstered the idea she's got somebody else inside her body with her! And if I needed any more proof, I certainly got it when she smiled at me."
He is not making any sense. Or else my brain really isn't working. "She smiled at you and you let her go."
"Has she ever smiled at you?" Bugalu asked softly. Jane turned, and he went on. "Most men think she's the most beautiful woman they've ever seen. She has a powerful effect on them, which she's unaware of. Which only doubles the effect."
"Ridiculous!" Smitty protested, and Jane's attention swerved back to him. "She knew exactly what she was promising! Er, seemed to be promising. I'm sure you've seen that look in the streams, captain. Don't think I've ever seen it in real life, though."
Then he's not paid attention. Real women aren't as good at it as actresses, but some do a decent job. "We'll discuss it later. If you're awake, go back to the auxiliary bridge and try to understand what she was doing. Takor, go with him. This has gone on long enough; I'd like some answers, gentlemen."
"Yes, captain," Smitty said, and turned for the lift.
Jane gave Bugalu a lop-sided smile. "Never thought you'd say something like that about Ms MacDowell."
His lips tightened. "We adopted each other, but that doesn't make me blind and stupid."

No. Not Bugalu.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Month 6, Day 11
0144 Hours
When the lift doors opened, Smitty checked his phazer, made sure it was set on the lowest setting. He hadn't wanted to come alone, but Ensign Jones wasn't his first-choice companion. There was only Jones and Adams to choose from. Better to leave Adams in charge and bring Jones, rather than the other.
"What makes you think she's in the auxiliary bridge?" Jones asked, startling him.
"Just a... hunch," Smitty muttered, then remembered she was apparently deaf. "We'll go in together. You step to the right, I'll go left. Don't know her location in there, or what she's doing, but don't let her get out this door."
"Yes, sir."
"Computer, change the lighting in Deck 10 Transverse Hallway East to match the auxiliary bridge."
Jones gasped as the hallway went dark. "Mr Smythe, if the lights aren't on inside, she probably isn't in there."
By now, Smitty's eyes had begun to adjust to the ruddy glow that barely illuminated his underling's form. "She's using a different spectrum these days," he stated. "Have your eyes adjusted yet?"
"This is as dark as space," Jones complained.
"If it were any brighter, she'd know as soon as we opened the door. Are you ready?"
"I don't understand how anybody can see in this dimness, but yes, I'm ready."
"Computer, open the door to the auxiliary bridge."
"Access denied," said the neutral mechanical voice.
What the-? "For what reason?" he asked testily.
"I am to deny access to the auxiliary bridge until Lt MacDowell has completed her assignment."
"Still think she's not inside?" Smitty mumbled.
"Guess so," Jones stated. "What assignment?"
"Computer, Lt MacDowell doesn't have the authority to shut off the door to the auxiliary bridge."
"Her assignment came from a higher rank. She is not to be disturbed."
I really don't like the sounds of this. "Computer, who gave her this assignment?"
"Lt Cmdr Smythe," the voice stated.
"Computer, I am Lt Cmdr Smythe, serial number 10-31-20-15-92-5. I did not give Lt MacDowell any assignment, and I want this door opened now!"
The door slid open almost silently. Smitty and Jones walked inside, separated as they stepped to either side. Smitty saw her right away, despite the lack of lighting. She stood between the communications and engineering consoles, working on something. Her tool sparked, and he glimpsed a circuit board she was connecting in a web of wires strung between the consoles.
He didn't have time to wonder what she was doing, for Jones boldly walked halfway to her, his phazer steadily pointed. "Stop what you're doing, Mac!" he instructed loudly. "Get your hands up!"
She ignored him, of course. I told him she was deaf! I should have-
Jones' phazer emitted a hot pink line of power that was not lowest setting, and the circuit board shattered, making her jump back. Temporarily blinded, Smitty heard Jones moan, his body hit the floor, and something hard skittered for several feet.
What in space-? I can't see- "Computer, normal lighting."
Smitty blinked in the brightness. Colleen groaned and hid her eyes. After several steps, Smitty saw Jones sprawled on the floor, his forehead gashed, an electrical joining tool on the floor beside him. His phazer had skittered away, now rested against the bulkhead.
He turned to Colleen, his gaze flickered for half a second at the web of wiring - half of it broken and sagging, now. What was she doing? He studied her suspiciously, the oddly-colored hair and eyes, the face even whiter than normal. And somehow, he knew this was not - exactly - Colleen anymore.
"You've been studying. Human biochemistry, history, even transporter theory." But not communications. He pushed the stray thought aside. "You're not Colleen anymore. Someone, something has gotten hold of you." He pointed to the web of wiring. "Trying to take over the ship. I can't let that happen."
She cocked her head to one side, then inched forward. I can't let her shock me! Smitty raised his weapon a centimeter, and she stopped. Watching her, he moved toward an intercom.
She turned gray and leaned against the engineering console as a blue glow engulfed her. Eyes closed, her lips moved. At first, Smitty didn't hear anything, then he caught a whisper of... She opened her eyes. "S'thym."
She frowned as the glow faded and her dark eyes turned a more familiar shade of green. "Smythe!" she insisted, and staggered, apparently off balance.
She recognized me. "Maybe there is a piece of Colleen left inside. Maybe you don't have total control. Colleen, don't do this. Don't betray your own people!"
"I'm not!" she declared, but it was hardly more than a whisper. "Help call a-! She's only..." The voice faded into nothingness as the green faded from her eyes. Realizing she could no longer communicate, tears rolled from her eyes, and she lowered her head.
She answered me. She must have heard me. "You're not yourself, Colleen, I can see that. Just go to sickbay and let the medics take care of you!"
She didn't answer, but she did raise her head, wipe moisture from her cheeks and regard him thoughtfully. What's she up to now? After a nerve-racking moment, she gave a sad look at the destroyed web of wiring. He saw her sigh in frustration, then her gaze veered toward the door. When she stepped in that direction, Smitty hurriedly placed himself in front her, his phazer ready. "The only place you're going is sick bay."
She looked at him in confusion, gave her head a toss that made her pony tail sway. Relaxing her stance, she smiled, lowered her chin an inch and gave him an extremely enticing look. Didn't know real women ever gave that look. Thought it was only in the streams. And I'm not sure the actresses in the streams ever did it justice. I feel just as loopy as the actors pretend to be. The promises that look makes...
Smitty wiped sweat from his brow and realized Colleen was 2 feet closer. She's trying to shock me unconscious so she can get away. He quickly stepped back, trying to keep a safe distance between them, remembered he still had his phazer. He wriggled the weapon. "Don't make me do this, Colleen."
Her lips parted and the tip of her tongue peeked out, as erotic as any of the dreams he'd ever had about her. This is no dream. But it can't be real!
His back found a bulkhead. Smitty's mind frantically snatched at any thought that might break her hold on him, although his body was eagerly reacting to the promises her eyes made. Finally, his mind found the answer. She's Bugalu's girl, just waiting for him to wake up and realize it. She has no interest in me. She's only teasing, using my weakness to make a fool of me. If I let her.
"It won't work," he told her as firmly as he could. "I have my orders."
She suddenly lunged sideways and raced down the darkened corridor. His efforts to keep distance between them had him back out the door to the opposite side of the corridor! "Blast!" He raised the phazer, but she turned into the cross corridor before he could aim. He ran after her, but by the time he got around the corner, she was gone.

Well, she did it. Winthrop will definitely have something to say about my having let her escape again! And probably the captain, too.