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part 2

by Lord Thanatos


01/02/12 24/04/12







1. I-beam

2. Holo hero

3. Real heroes can fly

4. Making a mess and cleaning it up

5. Warp care

6. Frying space bucket

7. The awakening of the guy that, quite logically, isn’t happy

8. Tudu-dudu-dudu-dudu hatchman!

9. The barber is shuttling in






SCENE 1: I-beam


The captain steps up to Stuckman and in a lowered voice addresses him.


LT: “The first thing we do is don’t panic. You’re a bridge officer and regardless of rank, people look up to you, Stuckman. Don’t scare the rest more than they already are.”


The look on Stuckman’s face tells us he understands. The captain now takes a few steps and addresses the rest.


LT: “The second thing we do is listen to Serrag’s good news…”


Serrag: “Well, the good news is that I managed to use the port thrusters to get us within beaming range of an M class planet…”


LT: “An M class planet? Out here?”


Serrag: “I picked it up on the limited sensors some minutes ago.”


LT: “Can we achieve orbit?”


Serrag: “Negative.”


LT: “What’s the beam window we have?”


Serrag: “16 minutes something.”


LT: “Is that enough to beam everyone down if we need to?”


Serrag: “No. About two thirds of the crew can beam down if we start preparing now.”


The captain turns that into a command.


LT: “Start preparing now.”


Serrag: “Aye, sir.”


The chief engineer nods to his engineering personnel who start working on it immediately.


LT: “Be as efficient as you can. Start with non essential personnel as soon as we’re in range.”


Serrag: “We’ll be in range in about 2 minutes.”


Reinard: “Sir, I must protest! Everyone is essential in the fight against these critters! We can’t let them have the ship!”


LT: “I can’t let everyone get killed in the process either. The ship is no use when we’re all dead. Those who are beamed down have a chance of surviving. And don’t worry; I don’t intend to let them take the ship.”


Reinard: “What about the third of the crew that get left behind? Aren’t you condemning them to death after the rest is safely beamed to the surface?”


LT: “By my calculations 1 third is less than 3 thirds… If we stay here, we will all die, Jens…”


Reinard doesn’t respond, resulting in a short absence of words. The Vulcan breaks the silence while still fiddling with his PADD.


Serrag: “Maybe there’s a way… I may be able to stretch the beam window.”


Reinard: “How?”


Serrag: “By using the thrusters once more to slow us down a bit.”


LT: “If it means we can save more people, do it.”


Serrag: “If it works out, all of us can be saved. But there are risks…”


LT: “What sort of risks, Serrag?”


Serrag: “If we slow down too much, the ship could burn up in the atmosphere… And that is if we don’t first get rammed by the pursuing Inj colossus.”


LT: “Give me the statistics, Serrag.”


Serrag: “There’s a chance of 94.9% chance the 2 thirds of the crew will make it if we do not slow down. If I fire the thrusters there’s a chance of 76.4% all of us will make it…”


Reinard: “A four-sided die with 1 skull on it…”


LT: “Poetic. However, 1 third of the crew to face certain deaths versus a 3 out of 4 chance for all of us to make it out alive… Do it, Serrag. Fire thrusters when it’s time.”


Serrag: “Which is in just a few short seconds…”


LT: “Just don’t BBQ us.”


Serrag: “I’ll try… Firing thrusters now.”


The port thrusters are switched off and the ones on the bow are fired to slow down the ship. Serrag addresses the first people on the transporter pads.


Serrag: “Get ready for transport, people. After transport, keep your weapons ready and stay together.”


The Vulcan looks at his PADD again for a few seconds… He then nods to his colleague Amato whom is at the controls.


Serrag: “Now, ensign.”


All of the crew on the pads are beamed away and are safely rematerialized on the surface of the planet below. It appears to be a desert like surrounding with yellowish white sands with patches of green here and there. Rocks, hills and a few small trees and bushes make up the landscape on top of the compacted sands. The crew looks around and wonders where they’ve ended up. Back on the ship, the next batch of human cargo is stepping up on the transporter pads, with backpacks full of supplies.


Some time and many transports later, Margon approaches the captain.


Margon: “Captain… May I make a suggestion?”


LT: “Always…”


Margon: “If we indeed all get beamed down to the planet… Then what? How will we get out of there? And why don’t we sabotage the ship before we leave? We can’t leave the ship and its warp technology to the Inj.”


LT: “I’m sure you have answers for all of those questions yourself, lieutenant.”


Margon: “I do… Let me find a way to the shuttle bay. We’ll need at least one ship to get away from this planet and get our ship back or find some form of help.”


LT: “I’ve considered the option, lieutenant, but it’s too risky. The ship is crawling with Inj in every nook and cranny... I will not risk any of my crew on a dangerous mission like that.”


Margon: “So, you’re going to strand the entire crew on a remote planet in the middle of a dense nebula no one will ever voluntarily venture into. You don’t have the slightest knowledge of our survival chances, potential food and water sources, risks concerning…”


LT cuts the Klingon’s speech off while raising his hands to support his words.


LT: “Enough, enough…”


Margon: “Captain, I volunteer for the job.”


The captain thinks it over for a second with a concerned look on his face. He makes a decision and calls Elpek over, the shuttle expert.


LT: “Elpek!”


The tripodal being hears the shout and starts making his way from across the room.


Margon: “Elpek?”


LT: “I can’t let you go alone…”


Annoyed as he is, he replies in a relatively friendly manner with some humor.


Margon: “I’m a big boy now, captain. I’ll manage and I’ll be quicker on my own.”


LT: “Elpek knows more about shuttles than the rest of us put together, so he’s the man for the job. And you just may need an extra hand…”


Elpek arrives. Margon looks at the orange guy with a bothered look.


Margon: “Maybe, just not that many…”


Elpek: “What can I do for you, sir?”


LT: “The 2 of you are going to fetch a shuttle and fly it to the surface.”


Margon: “What about the other suggestion?”


LT: “The sabotage bit? Rest assured, Margon, I won’t let them have the ship. I’ve got 2 plans in action for that…”


Margon: “Ah. Anyway, who’s in charge?”


The captain doesn’t immediately register the question…


LT: “Hm?”


…so the Klingon repeats it, slightly more stressed.


Margon: “Who’s in charge? We’re both lieutenants and…”


The captain breaks in to save time.


LT: “It was your idea, Margon. Get it done.”


Margon: “Alright. Elpek, follow.”


The captain laughs. Elpek shakes his head, but follows nonetheless. In the background, people are still being beamed towards the planet. The captain makes his way to the Vulcan engineer in charge of the project.


LT: “Is the beam window wide enough for the rest of the crew, Serrag?”


Serrag: “Should be enough, sir… Time remaining is 2 minutes and 51 seconds. That gives us just under a minute to fritter away after the last transport is completed.”


LT: “Let’s avoid frittering then, shall we?”


Serrag: “I’ll be as efficient as…”


Serrag stops mid-sentence when notices his colleagues Margon and Elpek near a hatch.


Serrag: “What are they doing?”


The captain looks in the direction where Serrag is staring at.


LT: “They’re going to crawl all the way to the shuttle bay and get a shuttle down to the planet.”


Margon is pushing a few buttons on the control panel next to the hatch. The Vulcan now rushes towards him while the captain is still speaking.


LT: “Beaming them to the shuttle bay would cost too much energy…”


Serrag: “Stop! Margon!”


The hatch opens and the force field behind it is dropped. Serrag is too late.


Margon: “What do you want, sir? We’re about to obtain a shuttle. Captain’s orders.”


Serrag: “Never mind. It’s too late anyway. Carry on, lieutenants.”


LT now joins them, while Margon crawls into the Jefferies tube.


LT: “Too late for what?”


Serrag: “We have a problem now, captain.”


LT: “We’ve had problems all day, Serrag. Spit it out.”


Serrag: “Dropping the force field behind this hatch and opening it cost us too much energy…”


Elpek enters the Jefferies tube and the force field is restored just before the hatch closes.


LT: “How can that be? Opening a hatch doesn’t require that much energy.”


Serrag: “Correct. But bending the force field around the hatch costs more energy than keeping the force field fully up. In fact, beaming them there would’ve cost less power.”


The captain sighs…


LT: “Alright, what’s the damage?...”


Serrag taps a few buttons on his PADD again…


Serrag: “We’ve lost 54 seconds of force field time.”


LT: “Hmm… Well… The damage is done; we’ll just have to manage.”


Serrag: “Do you have a bicycle and a generator?”


LT: “What?”


Serrag: “Never mind… Anyway, we have 30 seconds left.”


LT: “Enough to transport the remaining crew?”


Serrag: “No, the last transport will initiate on a timer 7 to 8 seconds after the force field comes down…”


The captain mutters to himself.


LT: “Enough for them to fry us to a crisp… What a day to spend your birthday.”


Serrag: “What’s that, sir?”


LT: “Nothing. Computer, set auto destruct, Rho Omega 5-12, enable.”


Computer: “Auto destruct programmed. Enter confirmation.”


The last of the crew, except the captain, Serrag and Amato the transport operator, are beaming down.


LT: “Serrag, if you please.”


Serrag: “Amato, set the timer for transport in 14 seconds and get on the pad.”


Amato: “Understood.”


The redheaded ensign does as he is ordered and starts programming the console.


Amato: “Running timer now!”


LT: “Serrag! Confirm the auto destruct! NOW!”


Serrag: “Sorry, sir.”


The Vulcan performs a Vulcan neck pinch on the captain and drags him towards the transporter pad as force field drops and the doors open. Amato is the first to fire at the Inj who are immediately bursting in with dozens a second.


Amato: “Quickly, sir!”


Serrag dumps the heavy body of the captain on the pad and assists Amato in the battle. Both officers are hit several times. One of the Inj fires and hits Just in the head. Amato joins the captain in a horizontal pose on the transporter pad. Serrag, being the only target left, receives all the remaining shots before the transport initiates. All 3 officers soon arrive on the surface of the planet, stacked in a pile. A medical crew is waiting for them. They’ve got their work cut out.



SCENE 2: Holo hero


Margon and Elpek are still crawling through the Jefferies tubes. The Klingon opens a hatch at the end and sticks his phaser out into the next section. Nothing.


Margon: “Clear.”


Elpek: “Three of us left on the ship with 1,000’s of enemies with integrated weapons…”


Margon: “Three of us’?”


He now starts to think…


Margon: “Oh… Bart.”


They crawl on into the next section.


Margon: “I better inform him he can start his work. Margon to Endersby.”


Endersby: “Bart here.”


Margon: “You can begin sabotaging the ship, Bart. Except for Elpek and myself you’re the last one aboard. And except for 1,000’s of Inj of course…”


Endersby: “Yes, I’ve noticed… I can barely walk down the corridors. I’ve bumped into a few of them already. They literally don’t know what hit them… You should have given me an Inj look. Anyway, what are you still doing aboard?”


Elpek: “We’re going to get a shuttle and fly it to the surface.”


Endersby: “I see… Then I better start with disabling the external sensors first. In case they’ve already obtained access to the ship’s computer, they won’t be able to detect the shuttle once it clears the shuttle bay.”


Margon: “Good.”


Endersby: “And be sure to fly away from here with the Greate Pier between the Behemoth and yourselves. You don’t want to get shot to bits.”


Elpek: “You should be a tactical officer, Mr. Endersby; not a bartender.”


Margon rubs his forehead in annoyance, a near facepalm.


Endersby: “I’ve had a crash course in tactics and engineering today. Let’s hope it’s enough. But thank you for realizing my potential. If only Margon could feel the same way… It’s not easy being a hologram with limited applications aboard this vessel while there are so many uses I could…”


Margon: “Computer! Cut communication.”


Computer: “Bleep.”


Elpek: “What are you doing?”


Margon: “Ah, forget him. Let’s keep going.”


Margon gets moving again, soon followed by Elpek of the nine fingers.


Elpek: “Forget him? He’s a fellow shipmate and he might be the big hero when all this is over… The last man to remain on the ship while it’s crawling with enemies…”


Margon: “And forget ‘men’. I’m a Klingon, you’re Edosian and Bart is… bartificial… No ‘man’ will be a hero today. And there’s no time to stroke Bart’s ego. You can start a fan club if we survive.”


They crawl on… The Klingon mutters to himself…


Margon: “I’ve had it with this hologram worship…”




SCENE 3: Real heroes can fly


Bart Endersby is walking down a corridor and is quietly following a small group of Inj soldiers. The doors to the engineering section open and the little black critters go in, quickly followed by the retrained bartender. He makes his way towards a specific console where one of the enemies is currently putting his filthy fingers on the controls. Endersby is not at all happy about the console being occupied.


Endersby: “Damn…”


The Inj in question looks over his shoulder in several directions, as he heard the exclamation of the barkeep. A few gazes later, he continues his work before leaving the station mere seconds later. Endersby now whispers to himself.


Endersby: “Good, now let’s see what I can do about those sensors…”


He starts tapping away on the console, every now and then looking around to see if no one is approaching. After a few seconds…


Computer: “Please confirm with authentication code.”


Bart almost panics; he didn’t expect the computer to speak out loud. The attention of some of the Inj soldiers is now directed towards the general area of the console. Bart is fully aware of this and wants to hurry. He starts to enter the code he was given during his crash course. But he rushes too much and makes an error…


Computer: “Incorrect code. Please confirm with authentication code.”


The alarmed Inj now head towards the console, still not knowing why the computer is speaking. While they get closer, the hologram attempts to enter the code again. The Inj now see the buttons highlight on the console as Bart touches them. Bart punches the last button to complete the code as one of the aliens raises his arm towards him and fires. The hologram ducks out of the way and manages to barely avoid the shot. But in the process he knocks over 1 of the other approaching Inj. A different Inj from before now takes a shot, but hits one of his fellow pirates. The bartender finds his way to the wall, crouches down to make himself small and remains absolutely motionless. The aliens are running around trying to find out where the invisible man is hiding. After a while one of them moves close to Bart… Endersby stands up and leans flat against the wall to avoid the Inj brushing against him as he walks by. But the Inj does notice something he hadn’t seen… The little critter turns around and fires at the wall… Bart, again, manages to escape digital death by fleeing into the opposite direction of where the Inj was walking to. Many shots are now taken in an attempt to stop the menace. Another 2 Inj are shot in the process, but Bart remains unharmed.


Then all of a sudden, the double doors open and in comes half a dozen more Inj. Bart doesn’t hesitate for a millisecond and runs towards the door as fast as he can, avoiding every single Inj on the way. When he gets close to the doors, he’s forced to take a dive over one of the newcomers and flies through the already closing doors. He lands in the corridor outside the engineering section. The fact no one is following him outside engineering means he was successful. The Inj are not aware he managed to leave engineering unseen.



SCENE 4: Making a mess and cleaning it up


The Inj haven’t fired their last shot of the day. Now their efforts and weapons are aimed at Margon and Elpek. The 2 narrowly avoid getting hit, probably because they don’t wear red shirts.


Margon: “I told you we should’ve gone the other way!”


They return fire while both are hiding around opposite corners in the Jefferies tubes. They keep exchanging fire until they finally hit the Inj that was pestering them.


Margon: “Let’s go.”


Elpek: “One more hatch to go.”


Margon: “And who knows how many Inj?…”


Endersby: “Endersby to Lieutenants Margon and Elpek.”


Margon, irritated at hearing his voice yet again:


Margon: “Yes, what do you want?”


Endersby: “My matrix was nearly decompiled on multiple occasions, but I’ve disabled the external sensors…”


Elpek: “Well done, Bart. We have almost reached the shuttle bay.”


Endersby: “Good luck. I too will continue my mission.”


Elpek: “Good luck to you too then.”


Endersby: “Thank you.”


Margon: “If you 2 are quite done, we can continue. We’re at the hatch.”


Margon opens the hatch to a small crack and peers in…


Margon: “There are just 4 of them here, for as far as I can make out.”


Elpek: “What do you suggest we do?”


The sarcastic side of the Klingon surfaces.


Margon: “We could try talking to them, but I think we might need to shoot them…”


They draw their phasers. The hatch is slowly opened all the way and the 2 lieutenants both appear at the opening.


Margon: “You take the 2 on the right.”


Elpek simply nods.


Elpek: “3, 2, 1…”


At 0 both officers shoot their first Inj and quickly re-aim to take a shot at the others. No shots are fired by the Inj. The 2 men exit the Jefferies tube and while cautiously looking around they make their way to the shuttle closest to the shuttle bay doors. Out of nowhere an Inj appears and shoots Margon in his left shoulder. The Klingon’s phaser drops to the floor. Elpek quickly replies and takes out the mini alien. Margon grabs his shoulder in pain.


Elpek: “Are you ok, Margon?”


With a loud, raspy voice his colleague replies.


Margon: “Yes, yes, just keep going.”


The 2 continue on their way while a few more Inj enter the shuttle bay. The attempts of the Inj to shoot the officers fail, but they are getting closer and closer and their accuracy is improving proportionally. They reach the shuttle after what seems like an eternity. Elpek pushes a button on the side of the shuttle to open the door. It opens painfully slow. In the meantime, he fires several shots in the direction of the aggressors to slow them down. The Klingon can do nothing but wait as he’s unarmed. When the door is fully opened, the 2 men get in and quickly close and lock the door. Elpek quickly fires up the engine of the shuttle, which is under fire.


Margon: “Quickly! Before they damage this tub too much…”


Elpek: “I’m on it, believe me… You open the shuttle bay doors, Margon.”


Margon: “I’m on it too, believe me as well. Just concentrate on getting this thing off the ground.”


Elpek: “Which is right about now.”


The shuttle lifts up from the deck plates.


Margon: “Damn! The door won’t open! I can’t get into the computer…”


Elpek: “Then power up the phasers…”


Margon: “Hold on…”


He operates another part of the console in front of him.


Margon: “Phasers are charged!”


Elpek: “Alright, shoot the crap out of them…”


The shuttle turns around on its spot. Margon aims and fires several times. The Inj, which have in the meantime been growing in numbers, are being butchered by phaser fire. More and more cannon fodder is running into the shuttle bay in an effort to stop the ‘theft’ of the shuttle.


Elpek: “Elpek to Bart!”


Endersby: “Bart here… Have you succeeded?”


Elpek: “Not just yet… We can’t get the shuttle bay doors open; we don’t have computer access. Did you sabotage the computer?”


Endersby: “No. The Inj have blocked computer access after a hero in the wrong body disabled the sensors.”


Elpek: “Ah, then we have a problem.”


Meanwhile, Margon is still fighting off the Inj with a high degree of success. The whole shuttle bay is being shot up, but the Inj as well. Not a lot of shots from the Inj manage to hit the shuttle, but the Klingon isn’t at all happy about still being there…


Margon: “I suggest you solve that problem quickly before we run out of energy. Or luck.”


Elpek: “Arm a low-yield photon torpedo.”


Margon: “Are you mad?!”


Elpek: “No, intent on getting out of here…”


Margon: “How?”


Elpek: “I’m trying to solve the problem quickly, as you suggested. Stop wasting time. A low-yield photon torpedo, please.”


Margon: “Alright, alright…”


The Klingon does as he is asked, while newly arrived Inj have started shooting at the shuttle again…


Margon: “Ready…”


Elpek turns the ship around.


Elpek: “Fire at the wall!”


Margon: “Firing!”


The torpedo is launched. The thing hits the wall and causes massive damage, but it isn’t enough. The wall isn’t breached, however some of the Inj that are too close and get blown away by the shockwave or are hit by flying debris.


Elpek: “A medium-yield torpedo then?”


Margon: “Already on it…”


Elpek: “Fire when ready.”


Not a second later, it’s ready for launch.


Margon: “Firing!”


The torpedo smashes into the wall and creates, aside from a huge explosion that rocks the ship, a large enough hole for the shuttle to fly through. A nice side effect is that the shuttle bay is explosively decompressing and everything that isn’t bolted down is being blown through the gap in the wall. And that includes the remaining Inj. Elpek has to work really hard to keep control over the ship. When all the air is vented from the shuttle bay and the foe that survived the blast are suffocating in open space, the shuttle starts moving towards the makeshift shuttle door. Once the 2 officers clear the ship, the Behemoth, still on the tail of the Greate Pier, starts firing at them.


Margon: “We’re under fire!”


Elpek: “Yes, I noticed. Let’s take Bart’s advice and get the Greate Pier between us and them…”


The three-legged orange guy steers the ship into a new direction. Behemoth fires at them continuously, and with success. After yet another hit, alarms go off and warning indicators blink on the consoles and screens.


Margon: “We can’t take much more of this! Get this thing behind the Greate Pier!”


Elpek: “That’s not as easy as it sounds, Klingon… Impulse engines are damaged.”


Margon: “Then go to warp!”


A few more shots from the Behemoth find their target.


Elpek: “Warp drive is out! Impulse is all we have now…”




SCENE 5: Warp care


Bart is talking to himself, apparently.


Endersby: “Now things have hopefully cooled down, it’s time to get back to engineering for my next task.”


He walks towards the doors of the engineering area again. He leans against the wall opposite those doors and waits for them to be opened by the aliens. Doors being opened by an invisible foe would arouse the suspicion of the Inj and start the firefight all over again. With 100’s, if not 1,000’s of Inj aboard the Greate Pier, it’s not too long before the door is used. Bart springs into action and enters engineering immediately…


Endersby: “Now to eject the warp core... They will never be able to get warp drive up and running again once it’s ejected.”


He walks up to a certain corner of the room, not far from the warp core. He looks around to see if any of the Inj are near.


Endersby: “With the computer not being available, I’ll have to do it manually.”


He carefully opens a small 20 by 20 centimeter hatch in the floor. There’s a handle and a keypad inside. Bart knows exactly what to do; he pulls the lever halfway so it points straight up. A beep can be heard and a red indicator lights up. The barkeep looks around to see if any of the aliens took notice, but they seem to just go about their business. He punches in a code on the keypad. The code is correct as indicated by the red light which now starts blinking. Bart pulls the handle all the way now. Some mechanical noises are heard below the floor. Some of the Inj, as well as Bart himself, are startled by this noise. Endersby quickly closes the hatch before anyone notices it. A few of the black critters wander into the warp core area to check out where the sound came from. After lurking about for a short while they return to their own tasks.


Endersby: “1 down, 3 to go…”


The hologram now moves to the next hatch. He looks around again before opening it. The same routine is executed. He pulls the handle halfway, enters the code and pulls the handle all the way. Again mechanical noises are heard from beneath the deck plates. Bart closes the hatch quickly just before the Inj come back and check out the racket again. They are talking with one another about it; it’s clear they have no idea what is going on. Two of the soldiers are ordered to stay there and keep an eye on things. The rest moves away again.


Bart has, in the meantime, arrived at the 3rd hatch. He now has to be extra careful with watchful eyes in the neighborhood. He waits for the best moment to open this second last hatch. He pulls the handle halfway. Again the beep is heard. This time it’s heard by 1 of the 2 Inj guards… He alerts his black friend and they both move towards the area of the hatch. Bart remains motionless. One of the aliens notices the hatch. He says something to his guard buddy and walks over to the hatch. He’s mere centimeters away from Bart, whom is crammed into a corner. The Inj are apparently not too suspicious of the hatch and move away to the other side of the warp core. Bart now breathes a sigh of relief and punches in the code. The handle is moved all the way forward again, which triggers the mechanical noise again. One of the alerted alien’s auditory senses causes him to look in Bart’s direction. He sees the hatch being closed, without anyone being there… He doesn’t hesitate and fires several quick successive shots in the direction of the magically moving lid. Bart is hit. One of the shots grazes his holographic body, which causes him to be sort of visible in a warpy kind of way for half a second. The shooter is joined by his guard colleague and another alerted Inj in firing shots in random directions near where the bartender was last seen. But Bart is no longer there; he has moved away from the warp core area to get out of harms way.



SCENE 6: Frying space bucket


Elpek: “Are we being pursued by the Behemoth?”


Alarms are still sounding and here and there steam comes from cracked pipes.


Margon: “Negative, it’s holding course.”


Elpek: “The Greate Pier is now between us and that big, old thing. We won’t be fired at again…”


Margon: “I think they don’t need to anymore… Just about every system on this space bucket is fried or frying…”


Elpek: “Can we land?”


Margon: “I think we can.”


Elpek: “Good. Because we can’t go back to the Greate Pier, that’s for sure.”


Margon: “Let’s plot a course and land as close as we can get to our people.”


Elpek: “We need to be quick… This shuttle isn’t going to last long like this… I even doubt it can hold together when we enter the atmosphere…”


Margon: “I’d rather die fighting the enemy!”


The Edosian now uses sarcasm too.


Elpek: “Yes, let’s turn around and use our popgun to give the Behemoth an itch…”


Margon looks at Elpek with a near lethal expression on his face.



SCENE 7: The awakening of the guy that, quite logically, isn’t happy


The captain wakes up on sandy bedding. It takes a few moments for him to realize where he is. He sits up and looks around a bit further.


Shelley: “Hello, captain…”


Still a bit dazed he keeps his reply short.


LT: “Doctor…”


Shelley: “Welcome to the land of the living. Glad to see you awake.”


The doc returns to sorting the tools of her trade. The immediate area has been turned into a field hospital. All of the high tech medical equipment seems out of place in the desert like surroundings. A few meters away another patient is sleeping; it’s Amato. Doctor Cole is tending to him when Commander Reinard is approaching the field hospital.


Reinard: “Captain, good to see you awake again… It seems you needed the rest after… well…”


The captain stands up and stretches.


LT: “No time to rest anymore, commander. I’d like you and your men to scout for a defensible position.”


Reinard: “Way ahead of you, sir. We’re already at the best defensible position in the direct vicinity of the beam down location. There are some rocky ridges around here. For now this is the best place to be.”


LT: “Alright, then we need to set up a sensor scattering field immediately. I don’t want the Inj to find us here. We wouldn’t stand a chance.”


Someone else walks up to the field hospital.


Eisinga: “Already done, sir.”


LT: “Ah, Eldert!”


Eisinga: “Good to see you up and about again…”


LT: “Yes, so people keep telling me… And the same can be said for you; you were off a lot worse!”


Eisinga: “I’m ok… I still have to take it easy because of my concussion, according to these field medics here.”


Cole and Shelley both smile.


Eisinga: “I’ve set the sensor scattering field up a while ago.


LT: “Well then… Since the scattering field has been set up as well, let’s get an inventory of all the equipment we managed to take along.”


Reinard: “That’s being taken care of as we speak.”


LT: “I must have been out longer than I thought…”


Eisinga: “Serrag is on it; he should be reporting to me shortly regarding that.”


An exclamation from the captain puzzles both commanders.


LT: “Serrag!...”


Eisinga: “Sir?”


LT: “Reinard, find Serrag for me and tell him to report to me on the double!”


Before the chief of security can respond, the chief medical officer breaks in.


Shelley: “You might want to go easy on him, captain. He was seriously hurt when the 3 of you beamed down. He dragged Amato to the field hospital even though he had a broken leg and other severe injuries himself. Amato is still in critical condition.”


The captain walks a few paces towards Cole and Amato.


LT: “What’s wrong with him?”


Shelley: “Massive internal damage, most of which has been repaired with the limited equipment we managed to drag along.”


Cole: “And possibly irreversible brain damage. He was hit in the head.”


LT: “Damn… What are his chances?”


Shelley: “I’m no statistician, but 50/50 seems accurate.”


LT: “All the more reason to have a stern talk with that Vulcan.”


LT looks at Reinard.


LT: “Reinard, are you still here?”


Reinard: “Going…”


The German leaves in haste.



SCENE 8: Tudu-dudu-dudu-dudu hatchman!


After a while, Bart returns to the warp core section. The Inj are still there, but aren’t looking for the illusive bartender anymore. What they are doing, however, is guarding the 4th hatch.


Endersby: “Damn… They must have figured out what I’m trying to do…”


He stops to think for a bit. After a few seconds he devises a distraction. He walks to the center of the core area and switches off his invisibility. He immediately runs out of the area. The Inj spotted him. One of them orders the other 2 to follow him with a short, loud command. They give chase to the hologram whom turns his invisibility back on as soon as he’s out of sight. The Inj run around the corner. They don’t see Bart, but what they do see is a door closing. They immediately run towards the door and leave engineering.


Bart wastes no time and hurries back into the warp core area. The sole guardian of the last manual warp core ejection hatch is oblivious to the impending doom about to befall him. He makes a holographic fist and plants in right in the face of the Inj. The stunned Inj falls backwards and is dazed. Bart understands he needs to end the fight quickly before the alien’s friends return. He grabs the head of the Inj from behind and in 2 quick twisting motions he breaks his neck. The leathery, black creature is dead. Bart continues to waste no time and opens the hatch, but regrettably, this act is observed by the said friends of the dead Inj. They see the hatch being opened, despite the fact they don’t see the person in question. Bart pulls the handle halfway immediately followed by the 2 Inj firing in his direction. One shot is a direct hit. The invisibility subroutine fails and Bart becomes visible. He punches in the code on the panel in the hatch. The Inj continue to fire and they both hit the hologram again. He’s knocked back to the wall; the matrix starts to fluctuate and threatens to fail on the barkeep. One of the Inj raises his arm again and aims at Endersby. With a determined look on his face, Bart kicks the handle. The mechanical noises are heard again. This time followed by gas venting from several places around the warp core. Alarms start to sound and repeated warnings are heard.


Computer: “Warp core ejection in progress. Leave engineering for your own safety.”


The Inj aren’t sure what’s going on, but they aren’t too pleased. Immediately after Bart’s kick, they shoot him again. This time the hologram’s matrix destabilizes completely and Bart disappears. A short while later, with the aliens still being unaware of what exactly is happening, the core ejects from the ship.



SCENE 9: The barber is shuttling in


LT: “Why did you do it, Serrag?”


An angry captain inquires about the reason for rendering him unconscious and beaming him off of the ship.


Serrag: “It seemed… logical… We shouldn’t have lost the ship, but we can’t lose the captain as well. There was no time to confirm the auto destruct. You still had to set a countdown time and give the final activation code after I confirmed it.”


LT: “So you use the Vulcan neck pinch to render me unconscious and abduct me to the planet?”


Serrag: “You are still needed to lead us here on the planet, sir.”


LT, very uncharacteristically, starts yelling now.


LT: “Eisinga could’ve done that just fine!”


LT sits down in the sand. Ten whole seconds pass in absolute silence.


Serrag: “Sir, if I may… If you planned to destroy the ship, you could have set the auto destruct earlier…”


The captain, calmed down again, replies in a composed voice.


LT: “Yes… I could have and probably should have… It seems I couldn’t just blow up the ship… Only in the very end I was prepared to sacrifice the ship, but that was much too late…”


Serrag: “I can understand, sir. A perfectly good ship…”


LT: “I think I see the ship as one of the crew. I can’t just leave a crew member behind… Or shoot this crew member in the back if it suits my needs. Perhaps I’m not made of the stuff good captains are made of…”


Again a few eerily silent seconds pass.


LT: “Oh well… It seems trivial now. I have no ship to captain anyway.”


Serrag: “You still have your crew to command, sir… This is no time to fill yourself with self-doubt or self-pity for that matter… If there’s ever a time you needed to be a strong and confident leader, this is it.”


The captain looks at his chief engineer.


Serrag: “You’re a good captain, everyone survived the ordeal.”


LT: “I’d call it a miracle if there was such a thing. And you may be right, Serrag, and you may even have made the right choice back there, but you still refused a direct order. And a major one at that. I’m none too happy about it.”


Serrag: “I’m sorry if I disappointed you, captain.”


Another few seconds in silence.


LT: “I haven’t decided yet… Anyway, let’s have a look through the telescope, shall we?”


Serrag: “Of course.”


Serrag switches on the electronic device on a tripod.


Serrag: “It should be easy to find the Behemoth with this thing. The Greate Pier should be close.”


He fiddles with the controls on the thing and soon finds what he is looking for.


Serrag: “Found it, sir…”


The captain checks out the screen as well. It shows the Greate Pier, still in 1 piece.


LT: “Well, it’s still in 1 piece…”


Serrag: “Not quite, sir…”


LT: “What do you mean?”


The Vulcan zooms in on an object floating near the ship.


LT: “The warp core!”


Serrag: “It seems Bart was successful in his mission.”


LT: “Good, good!”


Serrag looks up from his screen and turns his gaze directly to the sky.


Serrag: “What is that?”


LT: “What is what?”


Serrag: “That bright light up there…”


Serrag points to the sky, but the cap doesn’t see anything.


LT: “I don’t see anything…”


Serrag: “Hold on…”


The Vulcan tinkers with the machine again.


Serrag: “I’ll see if I can put it up on the screen here… Ah, there we go… It seems more people besides Bart were successful in their mission….”


LT looks at the screen and agrees with the chief engineer.


LT: “It seems so… Nice!”


The shuttle carrying Margon and Elpek can be seen on the screen. As it gets closer, it become apparent something is wrong. The captain and the Vulcan are now looking at the approaching shuttle directly without the aid of the telescope. Once the shuttle is mere kilometers away from the crew’s camp on the planet, a small explosion occurs in the aft section of the battered, little ship. A trail of black smoke traces the flight path of the ship as it quickly loses altitude.


LT: “Damn!”


Serrag: “Damn indeed. But unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do.”


The shuttle comes closer and closer, and flies lower and lower every second…


LT: “Yes, there is. Duck!”


Serrag: “Everybody down!”


Some people repeat Serrag’s command to make sure everyone of the 500 or so crew would receive the message. All of the crew get low to the ground. The shuttle reaches the camp at an extremely low altitude and with considerable speed. If the tallest of officers would have remained standing, they might have received instant new haircuts. Just beyond the camp, the shuttle skids across the surface. Speed is decreasing rapidly and it looks like it’s going to be a relatively smooth landing… until the nose of the ship hits 1 of the rocky ridges Reinard mentioned earlier. The ship flips end over end once and smacks down on the ground.


LT: “Doctor, get your team over there right now!”


Shelley: “We’re on our way!”


Everyone with any form of medical knowledge rushes towards the wreck in the distance, a few hundred meters away.


Serrag: “If there would indeed be things like miracles, we’d need 1 soon to get out of here…”



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