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Ayiana Sevo

Quinn "Shades" Reynolds & Erin "Vines" Reynolds - The The Sounds of Science (3 parts)

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(( Part 1))

((Outpost, Omicron Noctae IIIa))

With a dull thud from the internal mechanism, the doors parted. The thick layers of dust that swamped the room they were stood in stopped at that threshold, though powdered footprints faded across the next room as the unknown visitors tracked it through. Quinn swung her rifle back up, heart rate climbing in concert. Whoever it was, they had moved further into the building; minutes ago, an hour ago, it was impossible to tell. But the door beyond was unremarkable, not of the heavy security design that they had just dealt with. She looked toward Neathler, raising her eyebrows. 

Reynolds: On your lead.

ch'Ranni: Darling, I'll follow you anywhere.

The Andorian gave a small smile toward Neathler, and stood, falling in behind the human with a hint of swagger in his stride. The charming rogue, smuggling for self-interest. She wondered what he'd do when they got out; whether he'd return to that life or start something anew. It made Neathler shake her hand, and she pulled a dented hand phaser from the inside pocket of her clothing, passing it toward him.

Neathler: Just don't point that thing on me, Smuggler.

ch'Ranni: Nice.

Through the doors they passed, and Quinn glanced over her shoulder as they closed behind her. Now sealed, the air was thicker in here, the atmosphere not being lost through breaches in the outpost's shell. Jona removed his rebreather and smiled, though neither Quinn nor Neathler had the same confidence in the quality of the air. Perhaps the brunette could also hear echoes of Marshall's warning that the Cardassians were as liable to use toxins and poisons as traps, as they were fire.

ch'Ranni: Seems like there's power here. Life support's operational too. I guess somebody's home. ::He faced the next doors and turned to Neathler with questioning eyes..:: Maybe we should knock?

Neathler: I lost my manners years ago. And maybe you should keep on that rebreather in case the spoons installed some airborne poison or stuff like that. 

The comment earned them a shrug, but nonetheless, he slipped the rebreather back on. Neathler slipped into position next to the new set of doors, and with the barrel of her rifle raised toward the ceiling, she nodded toward Jona. With a tap of his fingers and without protest or problem, they were granted ingress, and after a heartbeat's pause, the human woman levelled her rifle and stepped through. She swept the revealed corridor and finding nothing except a choice of which direction to proceed.

Neathler: Any preference?

ch'Ranni: Left. Always choose left.

Quinn shrugged, with no obvious indication of which option was more interesting, safest or useful, it was little more than a coin toss. Contrary as ever, Neathler started to move right — until a tiny sound echoed down from the left. Existing on the edges of Quinn's hearing, it was a quiet, rhythmic tick that seemed to be coming from behind the door at the end of that corridor. With something of interest to examine, the decision was remade and the dark-haired woman made in that direction instead, taking up a position beside the door.

Neathler: Ready?

The Andorian answered with a nod, his antenna twitching, and Quinn swore she saw a tiny glimmer of amusement dance into Neathler's dark eyes. It was an odd comfort to see, and the hybrid nodded her readiness as well, adjusting her grip on her rifle. A light touch to the control panel, a whisper from the door and it opened. The regular beeping was much more distinct now, though peeking through Quinn couldn't see the source — and indeed she could see something distracting in its peculiarity. 

ch'Ranni: Huh. I guess I wasn't expecting that.

Neathler shifted to see what was being stared at. They were looking into a small and cramped space, more of a storage closet than a room. But sat on the floor right in front of them, still and silent, were two Cardassians, unreactive to the door opening or the armed people pointing large weapons in their direction. They weren't even blinking, and Quinn found herself wondering if she was looking at projections, rather than people. Frowning, her hazel eyes flicked across to the side wall, where a console glowed in cool green and warm brown. Neathler, evidently, had seen it too.

Neathler: Shoot them if they move. Shades can you get a ground plan or something, or data from that project? We've got a working console here.

Reynolds: Yeah.

ch'Ranni: Response

Quinn eyed the Cardassians, wary of moving into the same room that had likely incapacitated them. She edged around the two men while Neathler prodded one of them with her rifle. The man swayed at the nudge, but otherwise didn't react. With a faint frown, she started working at the console, paging through screens of Cardassian text as she searched for answers, and it dawned on her that the sound they'd heard in the corridor had not been the idling workstation.

Neathler: What do you think, drugged, frozen, paralysed?

Reynolds: I'm guessing they set off one of their own traps. ::She paused, a dark thought crossing her mind.:: Though that means they were either trying not to kill whoever got in here, or something else has failed to go off.

ch'Ranni: Response

Working on the console, didn't see Neathler slip inside the room, her dark gaze panning across floor and wall and finally arriving on the barrels stowed in one corner. She knelt down, testing the weight of the lids, inspect their underneath, shining the light of her torch inside. Then— 

Neathler: Explosives! Get out!

Quinn didn't need any more incentive than that. She bolted back for the door, only to find that now it wouldn't open — a trap now fully sprung, no doubt. Glancing around the small room, she tried to merge the path they'd travelled with what she'd seen from the outside and what her tricorder her showed as she scanned the interior. Pieces interlocked and she turned, pointing to a nondescript section of the wall. Taking a step toward it, she talked as she adjusted the settings on her phaser.

Reynolds: The corners of that panel: one each, setting seven, two-second burst. Should blow it clean out. On three— 

TBC...

--

Quinn "Shades" Reynolds
Starfleet Defector
The Skarbek
T238401QR0

 

------

 

(( Part 2 ))

 

((Outpost, Omicron Noctae IIIa))

There was a blast of heat and the roar of flames, and Quinn felt the concussion slam into her back, throwing her forward, clean off her feet. She arced through the air and hit the powdered, grey dirt — and then there was nothing. No pain, no raining debris, no cries from her comrades. Even the wheeze of her breath through her rebreather was gone, yet she was having no trouble breathing. Cautious and slow, she unclasped her hands from the back of her head, peering around as she eased herself back up on to her feet.

Neathler and Jona were frozen mid-movement, the bloom of fire as still as though it was a painting. Dust had been thrown out ahead of the blast, sparkling and motionless in the air. Up in the sky, Quinn could see a shuttle silhouetted against the stars. It was a moment frozen in time — except she wasn't. As she looked around, a frown of confusion carving ever deeper into her forehead, Quinn spied a red trim around her cuffs, the belt and tunic of a Starfleet Admiral instead of her jacket. 

She was a Starfleet Admiral. That was why she couldn't hear her rebreather. She wasn't wearing one. And this was— 

???: Hello.

She whirled around. The voice came from a fetching woman, with pale skin, feminine curves and tumbling red hair.  She wore the same uniform as Quinn, complete with the pips of a rear admiral, and as their eyes met, she gave an amused grin. Stood with her weight over one hip, arms crossed, she chuckled.

???: You must be wondering what's going on.

Reynolds: The thought had crossed my mind.

???: Well, you see I'm in a bit of pickle. My little experiment isn't going so well and— 

Quinn's heart was thumping in her chest, despite her stony exterior. The last thing she remembered was giving the order to spool up the QSD in order to head back to Tyrellia. Xerix had been at the helm, the new operations chief ch'Ranni sat next to him at his station. Beside her, she and Jo had been discussing the quite frankly ridiculous topic of how to get first dibs on Nkai's bakes now that he was in his new post.

Then as surely as a scene change in a holonovel, she'd been stood on Peshkova as the sun set, not a Starfleet Admiral but a Starfleet defector, watching Walter eulogise people who most certainly weren't dead. Not dead at all, just moved on to new assignments, alive and hopefully happy in their postings.

Reynolds: Your what? Who are you?

???: My experiment. I'm a... what do you call it? Scientist. I'm doing science. Trying to figure out how you tick. Or perhaps it's why you tick. ::She offered a brilliant smile.:: Anyway, you can call me Q.

Reynolds: ...Q.

Q: Yes. I assume I need no further introduction.

Quinn didn't answer, cold radiating across her shoulders and down her back. She'd never encountered a Q before, but there was someone on her crew who had. Was that why this one was here? Whatever the reason, they were in trouble — Starfleet had encountered Q who didn't acknowledge the value of mortal life. Virtually omnipotent and immortal, they simply didn't understand it. Or perhaps didn't care about it. Who paused to think before swatting a fly?

Q: Well, come along.

Reynolds: Wha— 

The Q snapped her fingers, and the moon vanished. In its place was stark, cold metal; a corridor lined with cells in the brutal architecture that the Cardassians favoured. The forcefield on the one she was facing was active, though in that frozen moment of time she couldn't hear the tell-tale hum of energy Her gaze, however, was entirely beyond it. All she could see was the tall, broad German sat on a bench, cradling his head in his hands. Her heart banged behind her ribs, even as her eyes told her he was unharmed. Untouched. 

So far.

Q: You see, I let you all make your own choices in my maze, but some of them were... disappointing. What good are you on the moon when he's here? And that other you should be on the moon, don't you think? With the other blonde? ::She paused.:: Why do you have so many blondes? Do you collect them?

Quinn turned to deliver the retort forming on her lips.  It was lost as the air rushed out of her lungs, as surely as though she'd been punched in the stomach. The cell opposite was also occupied; Valesha, bearing subtle signs of Cardassian interrogation, pale to the point of translucence, raw-eyed as she stared vacantly across the corridor, her head on Johns' chest. 

Oh, Johns. He wore the not-so-subtle signs of Cardassian interrogation, bruises and cuts covering what skin she could see. But he was ashen, the tell-tale pallor of the dead, and ice flooded Quinn's veins. Cheeky, smiling Johns who laughed and loved and managed to make himself worth much more than the trouble he caused. How could he be dead? Why was he dead? The universe could be unfair, but this... this had intention.

Reynolds: ::Quietly,:: What have you done?

Q: Me? Nothing. ::She walked through the forcefield as though it wasn't there, crouching down beside the pair.:: The Cardassians, on the other hand... Well, I'm sure I'd find it simply awful if I cared about it. But I'm a dispassionate observer, ::she waved an elegant, disinterested hand,:: or whatever. Objectivity and all that. 

Ice became fire, grief turned to anger. She bit down on it, refusing to lose control, but there was a flare in her eyes and a flame in her voice as she answered.

Reynolds: You put us here, you're responsible. The Cardassians didn't kill him, you did.

Pouting, the Q sprung up to her feet, red hair bouncing around her shoulder. She answered with a petulant tone of voice, as though she was being told off by a parent. Except the Q didn't have parents. Perhaps that explained a lot. Perhaps it explained nothing. 

Q: I'm not killing anyone! It's not my fault if you're all a bunch of savages.

Reynolds: You— 

The redhead stepped forward and placed a finger on her lips, and suddenly the Starfleet Admiral found she couldn't speak. It was as though her vocal cords had simply vanished — and given she was dealing with a Q, perhaps they had.

Q: Shh. ::She smiled and patted Quinn on the head.:: There there. It's all for a worthy cause. Science, remember? I know you love science.

Unable to speak, Quinn glared instead. She may as well have not bothered, for all the impact it made. The Q simply stepped back, snapped her fingers and they were aboard the Skarbek in that mad tangle of technology, sweat and elbow grease that MacFarlane called main engineering. Erin was there, a darkening bruise on her forehead and blood matting her blonde hair, up to her elbows in the EPS flow control to the cloak.

Q: Here. This is where you should be. Makes more sense, don't you think? Then you can have all your interesting feelings knowing he's up there, ::she swept her hands up,:: and Other You can have all her interesting feelings knowing she's down there, ::she pointed down,:: and it just makes for better results.

Reynolds: You can't just change the variables of an experiment half-way through. 

The words spilled out before she realised she had her voice back. A thought of a tactic, voiced without pause. If the Q considered herself a scientist, maybe she could be convinced to behave like a vaguely decent one. Arguments of morals and ethics were liable to fall on deaf ears, but perhaps if she thought she was being a bad scientist...

Q: Can't I? Oh, that's a bother. What can I do?

She didn't hold out much hope that the tactic would work, but Quinn had to try. There was no way to brute force a Q into doing what you wanted, words and trickery were the only option and even then it was a limited chance of success. And she was hardly a diplomat.

Reynolds: If it's clear you're not going to get usable results, you should abort it. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and resources.

Q: Oh, you are clever. :: She chuckled and booped — booped — Quinn on the nose.:: Full marks for the attempt. But we'd best get back to it. Do try to be interesting.

She smiled, clicked her fingers, and— 

TBC...

 
--

Quinn "Shades" Reynolds
Starfleet Defector
The Skarbek
T238401QR0

 

-----

 

(( Part 3 ))

 

(( OOC: For clarification — as far as everyone's concerned IC, Erin's always been with the planet away team, and Quinn never left the Skarbek. ))

((Outpost, Omicron Noctae IIIa))

Neathler: Ready?

The Andorian answered with a nod, his antenna twitching, and Erin swore she saw a tiny glimmer of amusement dance into Neathler's dark eyes. It was an odd comfort to see, and the hybrid nodded her readiness as well, adjusting her grip on her rifle. A light touch to the control panel, a whisper from the door and it opened. The regular beeping was much more distinct now, though peeking through Erin couldn't see the source — and indeed she could see something distracting in its peculiarity. 

ch'Ranni: Huh. I guess I wasn't expecting that.

Neathler shifted to see what was being stared at. They were looking into a small and cramped space, more of a storage closet than a room. But sat on the floor right in front of them, still and silent, were two Cardassians, nonreactive to the door opening or the armed people pointing large weapons in their direction. They weren't even blinking, and Erin found herself wondering if she was looking at projections, rather than people. Frowning, her hazel eyes flicked across to the side wall, where a console glowed in cool green and warm brown. Neathler, evidently, had seen it too.

Neathler: Shoot them if they move. Vines can you get a ground plan or something, or data from that project? We've got a working console here.

E. Reynolds: Yeah.

ch'Ranni: Response

Erin eyed the Cardassians, wary of moving into the same room that had likely incapacitated them. She edged around the two men while Neathler prodded one of them with her rifle. The man swayed at the nudge, but otherwise didn't react. With a faint frown, she started working at the console, paging through screens of Cardassian text as she searched for answers, and it dawned on her that the sound they'd heard in the corridor had not been the idling workstation.

Neathler: What do you think, drugged, frozen, paralysed?

E. Reynolds: I'm guessing they set off one of their own traps. ::She paused, a dark thought crossing her mind.:: Though that means they were either trying not to kill whoever got in here, or something else has failed to go off.

ch'Ranni: Response

Working on the console, didn't see Neathler slip inside the room, her dark gaze panning across floor and wall and finally arriving on the barrels stowed in one corner. She knelt down, testing the weight of the lids, inspect their underneath, shining the light of her torch inside. Then— 

Neathler: Explosives! Get out!

Erin didn't need any more incentive than that. She bolted back for the door, only to find that now it wouldn't open — a trap now fully sprung, no doubt. Glancing around the small room, she tried to merge the path they'd travelled with what she'd seen from the outside and what her tricorder her showed as she scanned the interior. Pieces interlocked and she turned, pointing to a nondescript section of the wall. Taking a step toward it, she talked as she adjusted the settings on her phaser.

E. Reynolds: The corners of that panel: one each, setting seven, two-second burst. Should blow it clean out. On three, two, one, fire—  

Their phasers drilled into three of the corners of the building, the differential in pressure between interior and exterior doing the rest of the work for them. The panel screeched and buckled, and while it wasn't quite enough to rip it completely asunder, there was room for them to escape through. 

Neathler/ch'Ranni: Response

Then she was running, sprinting out of the building and into the vast, barren expanse of the moon, her breath rasping loud in her ears as it was processed by the rebreather. There was a blast of heat and the roar of flames, and Erin felt the concussion slam into her back, throwing her forward and clean from her feet. Arcing through the air, she hit the powdered, grey dirt with enough force to drive all the air from her lungs, and she felt a lightning strike of pain as ribs snapped where she landed on her rifle.

It pulled a strangled cry of pain from her lungs and she rolled onto her back, tears burning in her eyes. Through the mist they created, she could see a shuttle silhouetted against the sky, recognising the familiar shape of the Inayat-Khan. Thank heavens for small mercies, though her sigh of relief was cut off by another guttural moan of pain.

E. Reynolds: Is... Is everyone alive?

Neathler/ch'Ranni: Response

E. Reynolds: Yeah, I— Ribs. Broken. Ouch. ::She grimaced and breathed out a groan.:: Much ouch.

Neathler/ch'Ranni: Response

 
--
Erin "Vines" Reynolds
Botanist & Sometime Engineer
The Skarbek
T238401QR0
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