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Maxwell Traenor

LtCmdr Jorey, "Hide and Seek"

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((USS Dunbar: En Route to the Bridge))


::A team of tireless engineers rushed past Brayden and disappeared around a corner. He hoped that the ship could be made strong enough for the Darwin to tow it out of harm's way. The whole mission had felt like a losing battle since their first steps on the Dunbar. Brayden made his way slowly through the hallways toward the turbolift trying to get a sense of Cadfael Peters. He was the team's engineer who, like many of the Dunbar's crew, had vanished.::


::He wasn't sure what it was when he'd first arrived, but at some point, Brayden felt as though a part of his mind was being pulled into some other reality. It was distracting, strange, but mostly just unsettling. He had encountered the Dunbar's missing science officer. A pretty little thing, terrified, and in tears. It was confusing. Brayden could sense the woman's fear and sadness, but underneath or within it were strokes of compassion and love.::


Jorey: Computer, what is the location of Lt. Peters?


Computer: Lt. Peters is currently in engineer… ::glitching:: is not on the Dunbar.


::Brayden kissed his teeth in frustration and turned the corner. He could see the lift door at the end of the long corridor. His steps slowed as he felt a presence coming up from behind him. A small, quiet voice called out from around the corner behind him.::


Child: Mother said to hide.


::He turned and a took few rushed steps to peer around the corner - he saw an empty hallway. A strange feeling of uncertainty took hold of him. He looked around to see if anyone else heard the voice, but there was no one else around to hear it. He turned and rounded the corner again. The hallway seemed somehow longer and the lift door further away. He moved a little quicker hoping he'd be fine once he got to the bridge.::


Child: We have to hide from the bad man.


::Brayden nearly tripped as a small child with long dark hair ran in front of him giggling. She continued running for a few steps before turning to look at him. He stopped. The Zalkonian girl turned. She was holding a small toy in her right hand so tightly her knuckles were discoloured. She tilted her head with a confused expression and then smiled at him.::


Child: Mother said to hide.


::She turned quickly, continued running, and turned a corner up ahead. Brayden was momentarily paralyzed as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. He wondered if the Dunbar would have Zalkonian passengers and why. He moved forward and looked around the corner into the hallway. He saw the Dunbar's missing science officer bending down to speak with the girl. She brushed her bangs behind her ear and spoke softly to the girl.::


Byranna: There is a bad man coming this way. We'll have to go another way to hide.


::She stood up and took the girl's hand and started running toward Brayden. He stood firm forcing the officer to stop. He had questions and hoped that Ensign Byranna would have answers. He was surprised when the officer, with child in hand, ran past him.::


Byranna: Run!


::He saw two Zalkonian soldiers step into the hallway and break into a run toward him. He turned and followed Byranna and the girl around the corner and back toward the turbolift. The little girl stopped running when she dropped her toy, but was dragged on by the science officer. Brayden picked up the small furry toy animal and continued to rush toward the turbo lift.::


::The doors opened as Byranna and the girl approached. They entered. Brayden dive-rolled into the lift and pushed them apart moving them to the sides where they would be protected from arms fire. He turned and drew his phaser pointing it down the hallway. The Zalkonian soldiers rounded the corner and took a few shots into the lift. Fortunately, the shots passed by Brayden without incident and the lift doors closed.::


Jorey: Computer, emergency lockdown.


::The computer made a sound acknowledging the command. Brayden holstered his phaser and then offered his hand to Byranna to help her up. He found himself arm stretched toward no one. He snapped around to see if the girl was still there. He was alone in the lift. He clasped his hands behind his head and let out a primal, angry scream. He was losing his mind. Seeing people who were not there. Things that never happened. He calmly lowered his hands to his sides and took a long, exaggerated breath.::


Jorey: Computer, end lock down. Bridge.


::The turbolift began to move. He shuffled his feet nervously and felt something on the floor. He knelt down and picked up the small, plush version of an unfamiliar animal. He held it in his hands. If what he saw wasn't real, he wondered how the toy could feel so real. He wondered who the little girl was and why her own people seemed to be hunting her down like a criminal.::


Jorey: oO How could such a small child be a criminal? Oo


::Deep down, Brayden knew the answer. He didn't want to admit it. Even acknowledging the answer made him feel vile. He read Captain Turner's reports about the lunar concentration camp in Zalkonian space. He'd seen first hand what their government was doing to their own people. Brayden clutched the toy tighter trying to fight back the sorrow and anger pushing their way up.::


::The lift began to slow and then finally came to a complete stop. The doors opened to the bridge, but Brayden found himself looking into the barrel of a phaser rifle held by a Zalkonian soldier. The light from the energy discharge blinded him before knocking him back. His body slammed against the back wall and he fell to the floor with a heavy thud. Brayden laid there unsure why he was still conscious. A blast at that range should have killed him.::


::Brayden's vision slowly returned to him. He saw a deck officer standing in the doorway looking down at him. He looked around the lift for the child's toy, but it was gone. He pushed off the floor, stood up, and tried to shake off the feeling of being shot dead. It wasn't an easy thing to do.::


::He nodded to the deck officer to let him know he would be alright and the officer moved out of the doorway and back on to the bridge. Brayden stepped forward into the doorway and looked into the bridge. Everything seemed to be normal all things considered. Artem had already relieved a few officers. Clearly Brayden was the only one to have experienced anything out of the ordinary.::


::Confident everything was as it should be he stepped out of the lift and on to the bridge. The lift doors closed, but their familiar hiss was drowned out by the sound of a terrified little girl's scream from behind the closed doors. Then a single phaser shot. Then silence.::


Brayden: oO No… Oo


TBC


Lt. Commander Brayden Jorey - First Officer, USS Darwin-A NCC-99312-A

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