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2013 TOP SIM WINNER -- Greir Reinard & PNPC Chen, "Come Hell A

Sedrin Belasi

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(Biodome 5, Connecting Tunnels))

::Volhv Oskendu, Eerie, Chen and Greir were among the last to leave. They had reached the junction where Eerie, Bram and the Chairman needed to split from the group to go to the larger sub. The Absolution of Vangr was already rising up through the sea as it could no longer afford to remain and risk permanent damage. They had managed to evacuate a lot of the population and they were still transporting out those they could reach. ::

:: Eerie was considered the best person to guard the Chairman and ensure he made it to his sub safely, which was going to leave Greir, Chen and their awkward silence to get on with it. ::

::The foursome split into two pairs and headed for their respective holding bays. Chen jogged alongside Greir as they hurried towards their destination and their escape from the biodome. Other than the patter of their footsteps on the floor plating and the sound of the evacuation alarms, there was little noise. Conversation hadn’t exactly been flowing between them so far anyway, but they now moved with silent purpose, words no longer necessary.::

::They rounded a corner and opened an access hatch, beyond which lay one more corridor and the holding bay. With their goal basically in sight, the two officers kicked it up a gear, headed for the open access point that would lead them to their waiting craft. Chen was focused but calm. This wasn’t the first exfiltration under pressure that he’d had to take part in and so, ironically, he didn’t feel like he was out of his depth.::

::On the other hand Greir felt under a good deal of pressure both as a Commanding Officer and because his career so far hadn't put him in many situations like this. He was out of his comfort zone and felt a little anxious because of it but believed the reason he was doing so well was because the end was in sight. He could almost see the sub-aqua craft that would carry them out of this disaster. He was doing just fine.::

::Until an emergency bulkhead slammed down into the entrance with a set of reinforcing struts shooting across it, sealing off the accessway. Having seen something similar in the farm bubble, Chen knew exactly what that signified. He could feel the adrenaline start to flow as he turned to Greir, delivering his report even as he reached for his tricorder.::

Chen: The holding bay’s been compromised and it’s shipping water.

Reinard: ::Slamming his fist on the side of the tunnel:: oO We were so close! If only i'd been faster! Oo

::His chest was tightening by the second and he stared, wide eyed at the now closed entrance for several moments before realising he was holding his breath. He took a deep breath but it did little to calm him. He tried not to show his nerves and was only partially successful, his voice sounded a little on edge even to himself.::

Reinard: We need to find another route...

::Having already downloaded a map from the public information network, it was easy for Chen to access it quickly. The net itself was quite likely to be down by now, with large sections of the biodome now flooded. As he zeroed in on their location, based on the path that they had taken from the inner sanctum, he quickly found that there was a maintenance conduit that they could use to travel upwards. The nearest holding bay was ten decks straight up. His mind was already racing through risk assessments and how best to ensure that they would get there safely.::

Chen: Follow me. We can access a maintenance conduit and climb to another bay... ::he was about ready to start walking but stopped himself:: … Sir.

::He flushed a deeper blue as a result of his near breach of protocol. Evidently he had fallen out of the habit of referring to Greir that way when they were alone together. He was going to have to fall back into that habit quickly.::

::Right now Chen was Greir’s anchor - the Andorian was so in control and on top of things that he felt it was the only thing stopping him from cracking up completely. He was too busy fretting to realise that Chen's antennae kept pointing towards him as they had always done.::

::What did unsettle him was how odd it sounded to hear Chen address him as 'sir'. He'd considered Chen as a friend and equal... more even. Certainly not as a subordinate - it felt too formal and stuffy even despite recent their recent falling out. Of course it was just protocol so with only a slight pause he shrugged it off to focus on their escape.::

Reinard: Okay... Lieutenant. ::It didn't feel right addressing him so formally, but the situation called for it.:: Lead the way.

::Chen wasted no time in finding the manual release for the conduit’s hatch once they arrived and quickly got it open. According to the map he’d studied, they weren’t headed towards any sections of the dome that he knew to be flooded. With the holding bay just a few metres from them starting to take in water, it seemed that bringing up the rear would be the best way to keep Greir safest. That was foremost in Chen’s mind right now; anything and everything he could do to minimise the risk to him would be of the highest priority. There was no way he could stand by and allow Greir come to harm; the idea of it was incomprehensible.::

Chen: You’d better go first, Sir.

::Greir didn't really want to go first and would have felt more comfortable following the one person who seemed to know what they were doing. Unfortunately there wasn't much time and since he was sure Chen wanted out of here as desperately as he did he trusted that there was a good reason behind it.::

Reinard: ::Reluctantly:: Yeah if you think that's best but where are we going?

::Quite used to reading maps and internalising details in a hurry, Chen passed on the directions he’d picked up from his tricorder as he ducked into the maintenance conduit, following Greir’s lead.::

Chen: We need to climb past nine access ports. The last one opens into a corridor that’s connected to the holding bay we’re aiming for.

::Greir nodded slowly to show his understanding as he looked up. The tube seemed to go up forever. He was glad he liked to stay in shape but even at that he knew this was going to seriously test him. He admired the way Chen remained to stoic, calm and professional and felt it gave him strength. The Andorian had probably dealt with much worse in his time and he seemed to know exactly what to do.::

Reinard: Nine... ::Groaning inwardly:: Okay but there is a sub in the bay right?

::He wanted reassurance that this was not the path to nowhere.::

::Although Greir wouldn’t be able to see now that they had started climbing, Chen shook his head, wishing he could give him some better news. He had his own misgivings about having to head for a bay without having being able to check if it was occupied but he hadn’t seen a terminal nearby. He had a crawling feeling that if they had retraced their steps, there would have been a good chance that they could have been trapped further towards the centre of the dome. That would have been disastrous.::

Chen: I have no idea, Sir. There’s no guarantee there’ll be a sub in the bay. If there isn’t, we’ll have to find another one.

::What the map hadn’t told him was that ten Asavii ‘decks’ equated to something nearer to twenty on a starship. The ceilings in this section of the dome were evidently quite high. They were in for a long climb.::

Reinard: Well we’ve no other choice so we best get on with it.

::He started to climb with an even pace that would be sustainable because this seemed more like a marathon than a sprint.::

::Rather than climbing one continuous ladder, Chen noticed as they made their ascent that they were climbing several and that there were breaks every eight feet or so. It did make sense that they would have to be installed like that. It would have been exceptionally difficult to transport a ten deck high construction without being able to access the dome from the outside, or beam it into place. He thought nothing more of it as he continued climbing.::

::The path that lay ahead of them was long. There wasn’t a huge amount of room to manoeuver; it was like being stuck in a Jefferies tube aboard the Vigilant, but with almost no end in sight. Both officers climbed in silence, boots and hands causing the hollow metal of the ladders to ring out in haphazard rhythm. The stale air inside the conduit soon seemed to resonate with their grim determination to complete their journey and find their way to freedom.::

::The climb was beginning to take its toll on Chen and he knew Greir was likely to be feeling the burn as well. They were a little over half way towards where they needed to be and it looked as though they were going to make it. Chen let that spur him on as he stayed as close to Greir’s heels as he could. His antennae twitched; for a moment he thought he could hear the sound of trickling water echoing through the conduit but he dismissed it as paranoia. He was sure the blast door on the holding bay they had tried to access would hold. Rather than report it and cause undue worry, he kept his ears open and continued climbing.::

::Greir on the other hand was beginning to struggle. His legs and knees ached, his lungs were starting to burn a bit but he forced himself upwards. He couldn't hear much over the sound of his own heavy breathing and he was too focussed on the climb to notice anything else.::

::And then there was a quiet but definite clunk. Chen’s face almost became a pale grey as the colour drained out of him and his system began to flood with adrenaline. He was hit with the realisation that the reinforcing rods on the hatch they had used to access the tunnel they were climbing through had just slammed shut. He needed to get Greir to a sub, now.::

::Greir's breathing suddenly stopped and his eyes opened wide as he clung onto the ladder for dear life. Every sense was on alert suddenly as soon as he heard the noise.::

Reinard: oO What was that!? Oo

Chen: ::Urgently:: We need to move. Can you climb any faster?

Reinard: I'll go as fast as I can! ::Stressed::

::Chen had heard it too and given his reaction it was not a good sound. With a fresh burst of adrenaline Greir began to climb even faster than before. He was starting to shake a little now and stumbled as his foot missed a rung. Luckily there was no impact so he guessed he'd missed kicking Chen in the face and was glad of it. He carried on with all the determination he had.::

::Chen saw the stumble; it had happened just a few inches from his face and had been difficult to miss. Worried that Greir might be getting tired, he checked to see whether or not there might be enough space for him to fall past him and down the conduit. It looked like there was and so the Andorian tried to push his body a little further back from the ladder, ready to react in case anything did happen.::

Chen: The lock just triggered on the hatch at the bottom of the shaft. I think the corridor beneath us just flooded.

::The increased pace soon had Chen panting for breath. As physically fit as both officers were, this wasn’t the sort of exercise you could train for. They didn’t have the luxury of getting tired; if they slowed down then there was no telling what might...::

::Chen cursed himself for even having that thought as he heard something rupture below them. He didn’t need enhanced hearing to be able to hear water pouring into the hatch, followed something slamming shut, then something else.::

Chen: oO The gaps were for emergency bulkheads... Oo

::And those bulkheads were slamming shut, one every second behind them as they attempted to create a series of airtight seals, the ultimate barrier against continued flooding. No amount of training could keep Chen cool under fire here. Andorians naturally became more alert in the face of danger and tended to be slower to panic than some other species. However, there was no way they could make it to the top now...::

::With blood hammering in his ears and his heart pounding hard in his chest, Greir climbed like a man possessed. There was a dreadful noise from below that made his blood run cold and he stopped in his tracks and clung to the ladder, peering down to try see what was going on. He could hear a rushing sound and when he realised it was water his stomach sank. Spurred into action, he began to climb again and was on the verge of panic.::

Chen: GREIR, STOP!!!

::He yelled a terrified warning as he realised that Greir’s head and shoulders had just passed one of the breaks in the ladder. The slamming continued and grew terrifyingly loud. Greir did stop - paralysed dead in his tracks and blissfully unaware of the danger he was in as the thunderous slamming sound roared louder and closer.::

::Unable to think of another way to prevent Greir from getting decapitated by the emergency hatch, Chen reached up and grabbed onto his calf, pulling downwards as hard as he could to dislodge the Laudean from the ladder, leaning back in the process to stop Greir from falling past him and into the path of the emergency bulkheads that were slamming shut below them.::

::There was a dull thud as Laudean hit Andorian, a squeak as one of Chen’s hands was forced free of its grip on the ladder and he slipped downwards, followed by an ear-shattering clang and a scream. Chen’s eyes shot open wide as a paralyzing wave of pain shot through him; it was like nothing he had ever felt before.::

((Maintenance Conduit, Biodome 5))

::There was a dull thud as Laudean hit Andorian, a squeak as one of Chen’s hands was forced free of its grip on the ladder and he slipped downwards, followed by an ear-shattering clang and a scream. Chen’s eyes shot open wide as a paralyzing wave of pain shot through him; it was like nothing he had ever felt before.::

::Greir didn't realise what was happening at first as he slammed into Chen from above and the screaming began. It was the most awful thing Greir had ever heard because it pained him to hear Chen's screams of agony. He didn't even had a medical kit on him to administer any pain relief, in fact he still had to identify the source of the pain. He looked down and saw with horror what had happened.::

::The Andorian’s right foot had been caught in the bulkhead as it had slammed shut beneath him. Another deafening thud tore through his ears and antennae, the only sound loud enough to cut through his pained screams as he and Greir were sealed inside an oversized tin can.::

::Greir yelled as he tried to make himself heard over Chen's screams.::

Reinard: ::Concerned:: Chen... I'm going to try and free your foot!

::Chen’s mind struggled to interpret the overload of sensation that was being shot through it; he could feelthat parts of his foot were not where they were supposed to be; the crushing pressure of the doors on either side of the crushed exoskeletal plates in his ankle was unbearable. Struggling to regain enough control to answer Greir, he tensed every available muscle in his upper body, breathing rapidly through clenched teeth, eyes screwed shut and antennae bolt upright.::

Chen: OK... please... hhhelp...

::The emergency hatch hadn't fully closed. Chen's foot was firmly wedged in it. He quickly shifted down and positioned himself to look for an emergency release mechanism, or a removable panel which might conceal such a thing. He hadn't noticed anything like that on the way up but he hadn't really been looking either and may have missed something.::

::Greir's fingers ran desperately along every surface looking for anything that he could dig his nails into and pull away. Eventually he realised he wasn't going to be able to find anything. Chen was suffering badly and Greir wanted to help him urgently.::

Reinard: Ok, that's no good. New plan! I'm going to peel the hatch open so you can pull your foot out. Just... when we get it out don't look at it yeah? Medical will get you fixed right up, it's going to be fine. ::Trying to reassure him.::

::Chen wasn’t about to start looking at anything; his eyes were still screwed shut as he tried desperately to keep from screaming again. His stomach muscles tensed with the effort and he sucked in rapid, shallow breaths.::

Chen: Please... you gotta help...

::The pain was almost more than he could bear. Seeking comfort, his hand released its hold on the ladder in front of him and dropped down; feeling it contact with Grier’s back, he grabbed onto his uniform, gripping it tightly and not wanting to let him go.::

::Greir could feel his uniform being pulled tight around him and untucking as Chen grabbed hold of it. He felt the Andorian’s knuckles digging into him and although it was quite uncomfortable he said nothing. He was far more concerned with his frantic effort to try and free Chen as quickly and safely as possible.::

Reinard: I know Chen, i'm trying. I'm really trying as hard as I can. I'll get you out of this.

::He put his fingers into the gap and started to pull, not too hard at first testing to see if it would move or not and applying more and more effort. His fingers slipped and he pulled out a hand, rubbing the tips of his fingers together. They were wet.::

Reinard: ::Urgently.:: Chen I hate to tell you this but the water's coming up!

Chen: I know... gnyaaaaaah!... I can... feel it...

::It was a sharp contrast to the warm, wet sensation of his own blood. The salt water was freezing cold and he could still feel it where it was contacting the mangled remains of his foot. The salt stung every part of where his skin had been broken, intensifying the pain. His hands gripped ladder and tunic top, squeezing until his knuckles went white. ::

Reinard: I'm going to try get the ship...::Tapping his comm badge:: =/\= Captain Reinard to the bridge. =/\=

::After a few moments there was still no reply and it felt like an eternity. He tried again, increasingly aware of the knuckles digging into him painfully. His tunic was completely pulled out and he could feel cool air on his back. He wondered if Chen was going to rip his clothes right off his back.::

Reinard: =/\= Captain Reinard to the USS Vigilant, medical emergency! =/\=

Bridge: =/\=Aye beaming you both out now Sir. Hold on.=/\=

Reinard: =/\= Understood. Reinard out. =/\=

::Greir was glad that the freezing cold water wasn't flooding in super fast, but even though they'd got through to the ship it turned out they weren’t in a position where they could be extracted right now. They were going to have to wait for the nearest shuttle to get into position and by that time they both may have drowned. It was an unsatisfactory answer but then anything short of immediate rescue was as far as he was concerned. He wedged his heels into the gap and used his lower body strength to try and force open the emergency hatch. Despite using all his strength it would not budge. ::

::Chen’s desperation was mounting and he could feel himself starting to panic. Fighting to get a grip, he pressed his forehead against the ladder. The seawater felt like it was burning his foot as it rose through the gap in the hatch. He trusted Greir and knew he would do everything he could to save him but what if he straight up couldn’t be saved? What then? There were still so many things that he wanted to say to Greir.::

::Greir had another plan to free Chen's foot and pulled out his concealed phaser, setting it to the highest setting. He was completely determined in his mission to free Chen. He wanted to save the Andorian for both professional and personal reasons. Either they were both getting out of here on no one was because he was absolutely not prepared to stop trying.::

Reinard: OK I'm going to burn through this metal to free your foot Chen.

::The Andorian’s reply was choked; he nodded to make sure it got through. Anything that Greir was prepared to try, Chen was prepared to go along with.::

Chen: Uh-huh... OK...

::He just wanted it to be over. He’d never felt pain like this and he needed it to be over. He was beginning to shake from overexertion as he continued to clench his muscles, afraid what might happen if he relaxed them.::

::Greir set about trying to cut away the metal. The hatch was made of a thick highly resistant metal and it was taking a long time to cut through it. He quickly realised that with the rate the water was coming in the hatch would soon be submerged. They were not going to be able to cut enough metal away in time.::

Reinard: Chen, I'm sorry but this isn't going to work.

::He felt anguished that this was dragging out and he really hated to see Chen in so much pain. It was a lot to take and he was determined to free him. There was no way he was willing to leave the Andorian behind.::

Reinard: oO There has to be another way. Oo

::Chen’s beleaguered mind had already led him to an inescapable conclusion that he was terrified to speak aloud. He felt like this was his last roll of the dice and that it was time to resort to extreme measures. His breathing became erratic, sometimes catching in his throat as he wrestled through a mounting wave of emotions that came close to engulfing the pain he was feeling.::

Chen: You’ve... you need to...

Reinard: What? I’m not leaving you Chen...

::He couldn’t look at Greir. He couldn’t open his eyes because if he did, if he let reality in, then he knew he wouldn’t be able to suggest what he was about to suggest.::

Chen: The phaser... you have to... ::he stopped talking as he steeled himself, gasping in enough air to finish his thought:: ...cut my foot...

::It was all he could say before terror paralysed him again for a moment. What would it feel like to have his foot phasered off with no anaesthetic? What would happen afterwards?::

::The suggestion was unthinkable! He was horrified by it and yet he could think of nothing else to try. The water was still pouring in... there were no more options and yet he just didn't want to believe this was what he had to do.::

Reinard: There must be another way Chen. We just have to... we just have to think.

::Letting go of the ladder, Chen grabbed onto Greir’s arm, holding on for dear life.::

Chen: Help... help me... sit down...

Reinard: ::Wincing slightly at the tightness of the grip.:: Right, okay, hold on then.

::Greir did as he was asked, putting the safety on the weapon and wrapping his arms around Chen to ease him as carefully as possible onto the floor. A sweet, floral scent caught his nose as he strained to lower him into a seating position without causing too much additional discomfort.::

Reinard: oO What’s that smell? Oo

::Once he had endured the pain caused by shifting into a seated position, Chen finally opened his tortured green eyes; they met Greir’s and begged that he would have the strength to do what needed to be done as well as forgiveness for Chen’s own weakness.::

::Greir looked away. He could not bear to look into the Andorian's eyes and felt guilty and miserable about what he had to do. He couldn't begin to imagine the pain Chen was in, or the pain he was about to inflict upon him. It was either that or lose him for good though and so he knew there was no way he could delay. The waters lapped at his feet, reminding him that his time was running out.::

Chen: Gonna... pass out... not gonna be... able to... bear it...

::He reached out and took hold of Greir’s leg, quaking with fear and pain and feeling like he wouldn’t be able to do this without some kind of physical reassurance. The cold of the water that was beginning to spread across the surface of the hatch started to soak through his uniform. The icy sensation of it was far less chilling than the terror of what he was about to face.::

Reinard: I'm sorry Chen. ::Heartfelt::

::With no further delay he set the phaser to the appropriate setting and knelt down, getting himself into position. He held the phaser out, with finger placed on the trigger barely daring to breathe as he looked at the ankle he was about to cut through. His hand was shaking badly and if he didn't sort himself out he was going to make a complete mess of this.::

::He used both of his hands to achieve a steadier grip and slowly squeezed the trigger. The red phaser beam sliced through the air right next to Chen's leg, mere centimeters from the skin.::

Reinard: ::Choked up with emotion:: Forgive me.

::He didn't want to do it, but he did. He moved the beam in as smooth an action as he could. The sight was truly sickening to him and he hated every second with a passion.::

::Chen screamed in agony as the beam contacted his leg. The pain was more intense than he ever could have imagined. It felt like there was fire shooting up through his leg and spreading through the whole of his body. He saw the world go blue and the scream turned hollow and died in his throat as he lost consciousness, releasing Greir’s leg and slumping back against the shaft wall with an abrupt thud.::

::The beam soon cut through the other side and Chen was now free. When Greir stopped staring, mouth agape at Chen's amputated foot he got himself together enough to check that Chen was still in fact alive. Afterwards, he lifted the wound out of the water, which was quickly covering it to check it over. The phaser had effectively cauterised it.::

::He slumped back against the wall of the tube, cold water soaking into his clothes and chilling him..::

Reinard: oO What now? Oo

::He felt lost and useless. He knew he didn't have the strength or the energy left in him to pick up Chen and climb the ladder. Even if he did, where did he think he was going to go? The emergency hatch above him was sealed too.::

::He wrapped his arms protectively around Chen and waited. The moments seemed to drag out endlessly and he felt alone. Chen was there but he was unconscious and there wasn't anything Greir could do to help him. He was useless, helpless and very, very afraid. As the water rose he became more and more certain that they were going to die in here. It was so cold it felt like the very life was being sapped out of him. When the lighting flickered and died Greir's grip on Chen tightened. He felt a panic attack come on as he started to hyperventilate.::

::He didn’t know how much time passed but the water was up at chest level when the familiar sensation and aura of blue finally took them from the wretched place.::

A JP by:

Lt Cmdr Reinard
Acting Commanding Officer
USS Vigilant


PNPC Lieutenant Chen
Intelligence Officer
USS Vigilant

SIMmed by: Captain Diego Herrera

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