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Kendra Eberhart

Blunt Forces

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Blunt Forces

She felt herself falling backward more then what she stumbled on. As she fell her mind seemed to be processing information at warp speeds which made time seem to stand still but in reality it only took seconds for her to hit the ground. Adrenal coursed through her body, training raged in her mind attempting to dictate her actions and fear fought to quash both of those survival mechanisms and more.

As she touched the ground she immediately rolled to her left amazed she hadn’t broken either of her arms in her descent but in truth all she cared about was avoiding the black blade that landed where her head had just been a second earlier. Her eyes went wide in a terror that surpassed every feeling she had had since arriving in that ancient supposedly abandoned monastery. She felt like screaming but couldn’t get a peep out as she watched a second blade plunging toward her with unquestionably lethal intent. Though the monster, or automated weapon system drone, before her knew no other way.

She didn’t want to think of that though just as the bladed weapon that was about to kill her seemed to be as black as the void of space and being swung with a force that would make even the most brutal of Klingon warriors fearful. No, if that was to be her last moment she wanted something else, anything else. She knew after everything that she had seen on that training mission that a pleasant thought wasn’t something that was so easily conjured to the point that she would have had an easier time reciting the temporal prime directive word for word.

Despite her desire to defy the mental images plaguing her it seemed rather pointless as the blade was still being thrust toward her and it was too late to move again even if she could think of a direction or better yet a plan of attack. Time seemed to slow again dragging out the inevitable. But at the last second a brilliant flash of red light struck the beastly attacker pushing it back. Then another blast hit it and she found herself thinking more and succumbing to the terror less as if suddenly things weren’t so bleak. So without another second of hesitation she rolled to her belly and crawled away before getting to her feet turning to the newcomer feeling slightly relieved once the monster that had attacked her was render to a pile of incinerated flesh.

That relief barely lasted a second though as her savior, who took the form of her commanding officer, spoke and not to kindly at that but she knew this wasn’t the time stand on formalities or niceties.

"If you’re done sitting around waiting to be killed, grab your phaser cadet. We are still far from the objective and I don’t have the time to continually save your rear end." her CO said sternly.

Looking around she saw the charred remains of several of those monstrosities and about a meter from where she was standing she saw her borrowed hand phaser. As she quickly knelt down to pick it up she found herself remembering the events of several hours before that when she had been given the weapon. As she grasped the weapon to stop her hands from shaking or at least hide the fact she found herself allowing the memories from when she had first been given that particular phaser to overcome her for the moment.

***

Cadet Ellen Cain sat in the field laboratory tent feeling, well; she was trying not to feel at that point. In the wake of the first attack and the realisation that she, Commander Melitta Herodion and several civilian scientists had become trapped and besieged by creatures that Ellen could barely identify was becoming too much for her. In fact it was the first time since leaving the Academy on her “cadet cruise” that she wondered if her decision to accept the real world posting, instead of a standard placement on one of SB118’s holo-ships, was the right choice. For the first time she found herself without any answers and struggling to know what path to take as she stared at the analysis on the computer terminal in front of her.

Despite that though Ellen jumped to her feet as she heard Commander Herodion approach who almost instantly said “at ease” then in her customary way requested a status update.

“This equipment is designed more for imaging and text translation so I haven’t been able to do a full medical analysis.” Ellen said regretfully. Even though the work terminals offered more processing power over that of her tricorder which she patched into the terminal to gain access to its programming and functionality, what she could achieve was still extremely limited. She continued on anyway. “That said I haven’t found a match for the species in my medical tricorder. I would assume they have been genetically engineered based on observations during the attack. Also I have detected extremely high levels of nanites and the remains of other cybernetics.”

“And the purpose of that would be?” Commander Herodion probed.

“Control over the individual creature, self repair when injured and if I had to guess the limited shape shifting that we witnessed. Hands that turn into swords and the like. It would also explain why phasers had such little effect Sir.” Ellen replied.

“I ask this because you are the most competent individual I have at hand, would you be able to form a counter measure to this nanotechnology?” Commander Herodion said simply obviously without a thought as to how Ellen would respond to such a comment. Ellen knew exactly where the Commander was coming from and accepted that but somehow it still felt like an insult.

“This really is my brother’s area of expertise, not mine unfortunately. That said though we don’t have the resources on hand or the time to develop a solution even if I did possess the knowledge Commander.” Ellen replied somberly.

“I have already reconfigured all available phasers so they should be more effective based on your preliminary data. While the scientists seek shelter in a nearby cave that is still accessible, we are going to find the source of the force field trapping us and destroy it.” Commander Herodion told Ellen. “Once the shield is down we will be able to call for help but it stands to reason that whoever is behind this scheme is also at that location.”

Something must have been showing on Ellen's face because Herodion leaned against another nearby workstation and started to talk again but this time without that ice cold edge of detachment that she prided herself on carrying around. Ellen had never seen the woman like that and rarely heard of it either so she didn't know what to expect next.

"You know when I was still a marine I went on a training mission which turned out very much similar to this one." Herodion started to say.

"My CO hated the idea of using holodecks for training so I lead my squadron on what should have been standard practice manoeuvres inside an asteroid belt. On our way back to our ship, the USS Hornet, however we discovered that our ship had been boarded by pirates." Herodion told Ellen. "Star Fleet command decided that the Hornet could not remain in enemy hands and ordered all nearby forces to intercept which included my squadron. I lost more than half my fighter squadron before we regained control of the ship and it was hours later that additional reinforcements arrived to assist. Most would say that the Galaxy and Sovereign classes are the titans of the fleet but I don't having seen the far outdated Akira class shred a squadron of Star Fleets best star fighters.”

The older woman paused to allow her words to sink in. Ellen saw at least on the surface where the Commander had been going with the speech. It was a stereotypical and dearly needed "nothing is impossible" speech. Though Ellen still wasn’t encouraged because in the simplest terms she wasn’t a super soldier like her commanding officer, or at least that was the perception she got from her CO. Ellen was simply a star fleet cadet who happened to be gifted with a photographic memory.

"I am not telling you this story to encourage you." Herodion said which caught Ellen off guard. "I am telling you this because we both have a job to do. You may be a cadet but this is what it means to be an officer in star fleet. If you can’t hack it then stay here with the civies but I am not going to pretend that I don’t need your help today."

"So you’re saying that the needs of the many...." Ellen started to say only to be cut off by Herodion.

"Never ever quote Vulcan logic to me unless you are a Vulcan. We might put our lives on the line, sometimes futilely, for others but that is never a reason to pretend that you can approach these situations without emotion, the gods know I can’t." Herodion said sharply, her hand dropping to her waist holster where she withdrew her type II-D phaser pistol and offered it to Ellen.

Ellen stared at the pistol for but a second before taking it. As a cadet she may have been in her rights to turn her CO down but despite everything Commander Herodion struck a chord in Ellen making her realize that she needed and wanted even more to help even if that meant traveling to the belly of the beast where she would probably die.

***

A creaking sound was what brought Ellen back to the present as if a new wave of fear overrode her flashback. The sound while faint and coming from a far distance away was probably caused by a rodent or insect or maybe even the wind but in that near pitch black corridor sneaking behind Commander Herodion every sound seemed to set alarm bells off in Ellen’s head. As the pair moved as silently as possible through the narrow corridor Ellen couldn’t help but feel that another one of those monsters would leap out of the next alcove of which there were many. Her senses were going into overdrive again and it wasn’t helping.

Knowing this, Ellen tried her best to focus on one thing so she chose to focus on her movement lest she bump into Commander Herodion or stub her foot and give away their position. In any other situation she might have allowed herself to joke that she was focusing so very hard on putting one foot in front of the other. It wasn’t the time or place for that though even if she could bring herself to make that joke. Thankfully that technique helped just as Ellen and Commander Herodion reached a T-juncture. Peering down one side of the new corridor Ellen saw natural light in what appeared to be a courtyard but in the other direction she saw several shadowy figures. Looking to her CO Ellen knew that Commander Herodion also saw them too.

Herodion flipped closed her tricorder and returned it to her belt then readied her rifle before turning to Ellen. In the quietest of whispers Herodion spoke to Ellen. Despite the volume of her words Commander Herodion’s tone was dead serious.

“Power readings suggest the generator for the force field is in that courtyard. On my signal run to it and disable it by any means Cadet.” Commander Herodion said firmly ensuring that there would be no confusion over her orders.

Ellen’s mind was screaming to fight that order. Perhaps it was the safer role to take, or on the other hand what if there were more of those things out in the courtyard or maybe the better plan was to stick with Commander Herodion. Ellen liked that last one the most as she figured her CO would be able to watch out for Ellen. And there is truth to the adage that there is strength in numbers. Instead though Ellen nodded to Herodion signalling her agreement and readiness to Herodion’s plan. They each had a job to do and Ellen was going to play her part. She figured she came that far so she might as well see the job through. It wasn’t as if she was in the best location to argue with her CO anyway.

Herodion was the first to move to a standing position in the middle of the juncture already firing her weapon. Ellen ducked past her, getting to her feet she started to run and didn’t stop until she had left the confines of the corridor and entered the courtyard. Rising the phaser pistol she scanned the courtyard waiting, expecting someone or worse to jump out at her. When it didn’t immediately happen and she eyed the power generator, she ran to it. Maybe it was rather convenient that the generator was there unguarded but Ellen didn’t care and didn’t think of the possibilities of an ambush.

Kneeling by the inbuilt control console Ellen dropped her weapon as she furiously tapped commands into the generator but no matter what she tried she was unable to power the [...]ed machine down. Panicking she struggled to remember what Herodion had told her, she said to do the job by any means necessary. So taking a page from her CO’s book Ellen’s hand dropped down to the ground where the phaser pistol laid and picked it up as she moved back toward the corridor entrance. Ellen was a fraction over two meters from the corridor archway but she saw the red flash streak straight toward her. Her eyes went wide in terror but the instant later when she was still alive and a second shot again narrowly missed her, going an inch over her right shoulder, she turned to see another one of those things with a gaping hole in its abdomen. Even with that hole the drone didn’t look like it was going to fall over and die, they never did.

Ducking behind what must have been the remains of a pillar; Ellen took aim and fired her phaser at the power generator which the humanoid monster was standing next to. Even though she shielded herself, as much as she could, as the power generator exploded she was still knocked backward into a wall ringing the outside of the courtyard. With her ears ringing and vision slightly blurred she noticed a human figure stalking toward her with great speed. Ellen shakily raised the phaser again trying to steady her aim fully intending to pull the trigger.

“Careful with that Cadet,” Herodion said outstretching her hand to help Ellen to her feet. “Getting shot with my favorite phaser is not on my agenda tonight.”

Taking Commander Herodion’s hand Ellen pulled herself rather shakily to her feet feeling her vision and hearing returning to normal levels or normal for her current condition.

“You’re not usually one to act so bluntly Cadet.” Commander Herodion said, a faint smile could be seen on her face.

“Finding the off switch was taking too long!” Ellen replied also smiling despite feeling as if the battle was far from over.

The pair had done what they had set out to do, they might not have found the master mind yet but the shield was disabled and no more of those things appeared to be near. And yet Ellen eyes darted out into the darkness, expecting the worst.

Ensign Atherton Grix

USS Gemini

Edited by Atherton Grix

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