by Nicholas Lassiter
Concurrent with Round One
-=Aboard the Alien Facility=-
Concurrent with Round One
-=Aboard the Alien Facility=-
“All right. There’s got to be something we can do with this.” Nick looked all over the screen with a picture of the Zenith and at least one other Federation ship, looking for any kind of clue as to how to possibly communicate with them. He wiped a drop of nervous perspiration off his brow and he worked.
Behind him Natalie Grey was fiddling with the transporter armband, trying to find out how to activate it to get back to the others. She growled in frustration as she tapped the face of the device over and over and it simply remained dark.
“Commander, do you have any idea how you got this to transport us here?”
“Forget that, Grey! Help me see if there’s a way we can send a message to the ship,” Nick said. As he spoke, he was standing on his tiptoes trying to look behind the monitor to see if there was any sort of access port for the computer. Everything was molded into the wall and there was no obvious way for him to get to anything.
“But everyone else is back there. We need to figure out how to bring them here.”
Lassiter lowered himself back down and reluctantly stepped away from the panel. Natalie was right, they couldn’t just leave everyone behind, especially since the rest of their shipmates were going to be in for a hell of a rude greeting when the aliens returned to find their missing guard.
He took the device from her and rolled it over in his hands, much in the same manner he would to examine a bottle of fine wine before pulling the cork. Truth be told he would have much rather been working on finding a way back to the Zenith. Once his own safety was assured he’d then return to find his crew mates.
Unfortunately, they probably simply did not have the precious minutes required to do things in the order. By the time he found a way to safety, it would likely be too late for anyone else to join him.
“It’s not working,” Lassiter concluded, as the device remained dark.
“I know that, Nick,” Natalie slipped. Calling him by his first name outside of his quarters was a strict no-no, but Lassiter wasn’t going to balk about that now. “Do you see anything that looks like a power cell? Maybe it needs to be recharged.”
Lassiter shook his head and slapped the device gently with the back of his hand to see if that would help.
“I don’t see any kind power cell. The only thing I can think of is that the smelly bastard was wearing it when I activated it, just before I ripped it off its arm. Maybe it won’t function unless one of those things is wearing it.”
“Like a DNA scanner?” Natalie guessed.
“Yeah. Do you want to ask one of them to try it on, or shall I?” Lassiter ended the discussion be sliding the device into the waistband on the rear of his uniform trousers. “If we can get this back to the Zenith, maybe we can figure out how to use it. Help me out.”
Lassiter returned to the sensor display, feeling his way along the wall. He found nothing but a few small holes, about three centimeters in diameter, along the smooth black surface. He looked inside, and then felt around one of the holes looking for a switch.
“What is that?” Natalie asked, as she saw another mass approaching the Zenith now. Nick stopped his search and returned to the screen.
“I don’t know, but I think we’re running out of time.” He may not have know for sure, but he could have guessed. Some sort of alien ship was moving in on the Zenith. “What do you make of these?”
Natalie stepped back and looked at the holes. Five of them, spaced seemingly at random, none closer than half a meter apart. They tried everything they could think of, including fingers, blowing in them, speaking into them, and covering them to block the light, until the absurdity of it all actually elicited a laugh from the both of them. As all this was going on, the scene on the sensor readout was changing as well. The alien blip had engaged the two Federation ships, and Nick could plainly tell there was a battle going on.
“Maybe we should look somewhere else,” Natalie said in frustration.
“Good call.” Nick crept slowly through the door, and looked out into the short corridor. There were three doors on either side, none of which were locked, but four of which were completely empty. Natalie and Nick felt along the walls in each room but could find nothing of use, not even the unexplained holes like those in the sensor room.
The last room however, held something of value. It wasn’t a room really, so much as a wall behind the doors, with several hand weapons lined up on a rack. They were protected by a forcefield and there was a dark panel, which Nick could only assume would need to be activated if they were going to get to the weapons.
“This place is just one freaking riddle after another. I’d trade Jonas’ hairline for a tricorder right now,” Lassiter lamented. Nick was fond of making wisecracks about his father’s hairline, and how Nick had been lucky enough to dodge the seemingly inescapable genetic curse, at least so far.
“I’d just like to know where my father is,” Natalie replied, as she poked at the panel. “Damn! It’s just like the armband, it won’t activate.”
“Maybe something on this thing will do something for that thing.” Lassiter drew the armband out, and held it up against the panel. The panel lit up, displayed a series of strange glyphs, and then the forcefield dropped.
“We got one!” Nick actually cracked a smile. He lowered the armband to put it away and the forcefield snapped back into place. “Okay. Natalie, hold this here, while I get the phasers.”
They lowered the forcefield again, and Nick gathered up the four weapons. Nick pointed with the muzzle of his sidearm back towards the sensor room where they had been before. As they entered, he glanced at the viewscreen once again. The two Federation ships were still going at it with the aliens, and a third ship was just entering sensor range heading towards the battle. Natalie was tapping the butt end of her weapon against her hip as she tried to force herself to come up with some sort of explanation for the holes in the wall.
“What!” Lassiter jumped a foot back, startled by her shout. He didn’t think it was possible but his heart actually raced even faster then it had been already. “Geez Natalie, don’t do that!”
“Sorry, its just, I had an idea. The aliens, they have, tentacles,” Natalie almost gagged on the word as she pictured them. “Several of them. We only have two arms and hence we can turn on a computer usually with just one touch of a screen. Maybe the aliens activate their computers the same way, by inserting an appendage into each one of these holes. Seems silly to us but if you have a dozen arms using five of them isn’t a big deal to you.
“I don’t have anything better,” Nick admitted. He set his weapons down, and slid a finger on each hand into a hole, and Natalie did the same. There were a series of clicks indicating something had happened. Each one of them stared at the fifth hole, then at each other.
“I’m fresh out of hands.”
“And I’m not?” Natalie answered. Nick cast his eyes down towards her feet and nodded his head at her boot. “You can’t be serious. You’re closer!”
“Yeah and you are much more... dainty,” Nick shot back. Natalie knew he was right, and kicked off her boot and sock.
“Not a word to anyone, ever, Nick.”
Natalie balanced herself precariously on her left foot as she raised her right and slipped her big toe into the last hole. There was a buzzing sound, and the walls began shifting. Nick and Natalie both stepped back quickly, and watched as the once blank walls now displayed an elaborate computer access system. Across the room, a wall slide back revealing another chamber, with what looked like a transporter pad.
“Look at all this!” Lassiter looked over the controls, trying to figure out what the hell he was looking at. On the screen, the third Federation ship had joined the battle. There was a schematic on another screen that appear of the star Nick had seen, with the shaft of energy emanating from its center.
“This is some kind of transporter, Nick. I recognize all the components. Targeting scanners, buffers, Heisenberg compensators. It looks a lot like our own system. Argh! I wish I could read this!”
Nick walked over to the single pad in the room. He looked up as the series of antennae above the pad. “These looks like subspace antennae.”
“I thought subspace transporters were banned? Too dangerous,” Natalie said as she joined him.
“Too dangerous to us, but maybe not to these people. Somehow they brought us to wherever here is from the Zenith. I can’t even imagine how much power you would need to transport that many people…” Nick’s voice trailed off as the pieces began to come together.
“This, Natalie. This is all part of their transporter system.” Nick waved his finger at the schematic of the star and the shaft of energy. “They must use the power of the star to create the vortex I saw, and pull people from anywhere they want with the long range transporter. That’s how they got all of us in one shot.”
Natalie’s face began to turn white. “But if that’s true, we could be anywhere in the Universe. God Nick, where are we?”
“I don’t know, but if we can figure out how to work this thing, maybe we can get back to the Zenith.”
Natalie tapped the picture of the Zenith on the screen, and a red circle appeared around it. “I think it’s telling me their shields are up.”
“Try the other ships.”
She tapped the screen on the other two Federation ships, and got the same red circle enveloping the ships.
Before Nick could make his next suggestion, there was the same alarm sound they had heard earlier, followed by two flashes of transporters outside the rooms.
“We’re out of time!” He said, as he grabbed one of the weapons. There was an ear piercing screech as the aliens burst through the door, but Nick and Natalie silenced them with a shot to the midsection before the aliens could fire.
The first two flashes were followed by many more, and soon the corridor was flooded with aliens. Nick kept firing at the door to hold them at bay, while glancing over his shoulder at the screen and the still red circle around the Zenith.
One of the aliens slipped a shot through the door and grazed Nick on the shoulder. He winced and dropped his weapon for a moment. His hand flew up to the wound and he felt blood.
“Are you all right?”
“No, I’m not.” Nick was terrified, but his survival instinct compelled him to pick the weapon back up with his left hand and continue firing. They clogged the entrance with their fire, but the aliens just kept coming, to the point were there were enough fallen comrades for them to use as pseudo shields to hide behind as they pushed their way into the room.
“Nick look!” Natalie was pointing to the screen, where the red circle around the Zenith had been replaced with green.
“Their shields are down!” Nick fired a few random volleys blindly at the door, as he lifted his wounded right arm and tapped on the Zenith. The glowing green circle began to flash, and along with a series of glyphs. Across the room, the transport pad lit up.
“It’s a countdown!” Nick said. He fired cover shots as he tried to cross the room to the pad. “Damn it, only room for one.” He realized, before turning towards Natalie. “I’ll come back…” He began, before realizing this was a one way trip. The Zenith didn’t have the technology needed to bring anyone back through the portal. He saw the fear in Natalie’s eyes and the tear forming in the corner, and for this first time in his life Nicholas Lassiter realized he had to do something for someone other than himself. “Get on the pad, Natalie.”
Nick punctuated his order by motioning with his weapon. Two of the aliens broke through the barricade, as Natalie still stood frozen. “I won’t just leave you here!”
“JUST GO!” One of the aliens grabbed a hold of Nick and threw him down on the ground. Lassiter squirmed to get his arms free, and smashed the alien upside its head with the butt end of his phaser. The creature howled and collapsed. Nick threw it off and stood up, only to find the second one had dragged Grey down to the ground.
At the entrance, another half dozen aliens had pushed past the of pile bodies at the door, and were streaming into the room. Nick raised his weapon, and shot the one holding Natalie, square in the back.
He could feel the aliens behind him closing in, and he unfurled tentacles from around Natalie’s neck. She gasped for every breath, as Nick pulled her up to feet.
“Do two things for me Natalie.”
She nodded, since she could not yet speak. He rushed her towards the pad, but felt a dozen tentacles surround his waist, and attempt to haul him down to the ground, but Nick forced himself to keep going.
“Marry a nice man and have a dozen babies, and tell Gem that I love her.”
Natalie tried to pull him along with her, as Nick’s forward motion stopped. The aliens were all over him now. With his last ounce of strength, he pulled his arms free of Natalie’s and pushed her with all his might towards the transporter.
She stumbled backwards onto the pad, and the last thing Nicholas Lassiter saw before his head struck the ground, was Natalie mouthing the words, “I love you,” before she vanished in the glow of the transporter beam.