USS Traveller
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Alone

Posted on Wed Feb 24th, 2021 @ 10:02pm by The Narrator & Lieutenant Commander Brynhild Keil

Mission: S2:1: Good Will Gunboat Tour
Location: Unknown, Cockpit Module
Timeline: Some time after Skies Of Destiny.

Flashes of light.
Smears of sound.
A taste of copper on the tongue.
And then consciousness in full.

The cockpit module of the Gryphon fighter had ejected, the choice being made by the pilot’s hands or the ships onboard computer. In either case, that explained why the engine and reactor diagnostics panel was dark: those didn’t exist anymore. Life support was...there, running on the battery bank so that was all good. No weapons. And the SAR beacon was off.

No.
Wait.

The Search & Rescue beacon was on the bench in the Traveller’s shuttle bay along with the other 40% of the fighter that had been stripped off to make it as light as possible. And at that realisation, the alarm abruptly turned off, and the central display light up.

Hello Commander Keil. This vehicle has suffered catastrophic damage, resulting in the use of the automatic ejection system. During the ejection process, the cockpit module was not able to clear the blast radius of the drive section. This has resulted in several technical issues, multiple physical contusions, one concussion, and one serious mission-critical error. Would you like me to list them?

Well at least the fighters dumb AI, nicked named Bitchin’ Barry, survived where good luck had perished.

"By Odin's beard, please don't," Brynna groaned as she regained consciousness. Upon seeing the state she was in, well, damn. She suddenly wished that she wasn't. Might as well been on a pedestal surrounded by fire. (Like her namesake, for any not reading along on our old tales that gave birth to epic multi-night operatic sagas, of course.) "Am I actually alive? I don't bloody feel like it. Where are we?"

"Your suit biomonitor lists you as stable, but in need of medical treatment. You have four bruised ribs, a contusion to your right kidney, bruising on the pelvic bone due to high gee loading, and a mild concussion. Your suits biomonitor has administered field medication to alleviate the detrimental effects of these injuries. You might experience the following: nausea, dizziness, a loss of taste, a loss of smell, mild hair loss, and fatigue."

As Barry spoke in an upbeat and chipper tone of voice, a simplified human form diagram appeared on the display. As Barry listed her injuries, little yellow or red splotches appeared until at the end the little diagram looked like it had lost a fight with the Condiment King.

"Our current location is unknown. Subspace and inertial trackers were removed by maintenance officers 24 hours previously. Current exterior atmosphere comprises of a nitrogen-oxygen mix, with trace amounts of carbon dioxide and ammonia. Sensor data suggests that the pod transitioned from a vacuum to a full atmosphere roughly 680 seconds previously." There was a pause. "Pilot Keil, as stated previously there is a serious mission-critical error. That error is in the cockpit modules life support system. There are currently six minutes of breathable atmosphere remaining."

Okay, so maybe she should have asked to hear that part. She wasn't sure how much it would matter, depending on what happened in the next five minutes and thirty seconds. Her head was indeed swimming, and she struggled to think her way through the fog. Or soup, maybe. Swamp. Her brain had become a swamp. She hated that. "Alright, fine, what else can you tell me? Try to keep it relevant to keeping my alive, if you would."

"Processing request."

The light bleeding out from the cockpit module threw the space she was trapped in into shadowy relief. There was a suggestion of rib-like supports lining the walls, but the floor seemed to be a grated mesh-like material. There was a source of yellow-tinged light coming from a distance, through some sort of aperture or door.

"Emergancy survival kit is located under your acceleration couch. It contains one Type 12 phase pistol. As well as emergency rations and medical supplies."

Something flickered out of the door way, a brief shadow passing before or through the light, and was swallowed by the shadows of the cargo/hanger bay/stomach of whatever she was in.

Brynna tried to think back to a time when she could recall hallucinating...and once she had, she tried to compare it to know. Was she hallucinating, or was she really seeing this...whatever it was that was around her? "Uh, so... I know our eyes and ears in here are pretty limited but, er, are you sure you can't take a look outside and get a clue where I am? I think I'm starting to imagine things."

"Exteior sensors are limited due to mechanical removal of major subsystems. Atmosphere and temperature are rated safe for 98.9% of Federation races. Gravity is 0.98Gee, with a mean pressure gradient comparable to Earth sea level. Temperature is 18 degrees cel-cel-cel-cel-cel-cel-"

Bitchin' Barry went into a loop as a graphical fit flittered across the display panes of the cockpit. When they returned to normal a moment later, mechanical ticking and hissing could be heard.

"-cel-cel-celsius. Opening hatch now," Barry commented. The seals gave way, and the armoured hyper diamond canopy slid down and back into its armoured casing. "Warning, egress ladder removed by maintenance officers. Mind the gap.""

All things being equal and all pilots strapped to torpedoes with baling twine and chewing gum being honest... Well, this pilot did not really want to get out of the craft. She figured she probably wasn't going to be given a choice, but she really didn't want to move from this seat. Hadn't the trip already been bad enough? Yes, yes, she'd signed up for it, but still... This sucked.

"See if I can get another concussion on the way down," she murmured, unhitching her harness and pulling herself toward to peer over the edge of her...well, we're charitably call it her 'cockpit' and see what else she could see out there.

The cockpit module rocked and rolled slightly as she clambered out, clattering loudly it seemed in the dank gloom of the space. Now free of the cockpit, she could see at the end away from the small illuminated opening, an iris-like portal of burnished metal was cinched tight over the far end. A shuttle or cargo bay perhaps?

"Get another concussion."

The voice was her own. The inflexion and tone pitch-perfect.

"Aw hell," Brynna muttered, recognizing...well, herself and thus that it wasn't her damned self.

Metal groaned as the cockpit module rocked behind her. Atop it, clawed feet gripping the hatch sill and frame, was a Reka. The lanky, gangly avian's plumage was a stark powder-white like a Cockatoos, but compared to the polished gold chest armour and bracers it looked downright gaudy. It's four eyes, cold as ice water and just as blue, narrowed as its free arm twirled the phase staff.

"GET ANOTHER CONCUSSION!!!" it screamed in her voice, it's beak never opening as the telepathic mimicry of the Reka repeated her words. It leapt up, off the sill of the cockpit, the staff raised high in a killing blow.

Brynna wasn't exactly at her best, but she'd always had a pretty strong survival instinct. "Hey!" she shouted for only the gods knew what reason as she pushed herself back just enough to avoid the staff. "Knock that shit off!" That also just came out. It had to be the concussion.

The Reka and staff collided with the floor and vanished in a blizzard of lights, reappearing a few meters away rising from the floor in another aztenic flash. This had been in the briefing pack, the Reka phase staff's short-range transporter ability. It had allowed the aliens to sweep through a starship from stem to stern in minutes, bypassing forcefields and bulkheads with ease.

Landing on its feet from the leap, it swung the staff in a showy display as it uttered a braying caw that couldn't help but be seen as mocking.

And then the lights came up.

She was in a wide bay, but the upper portions now illuminated were partitioned into galleries and stands. Packed into them was a confusion of alien faces and physiologies. All of them seemed to be cheering as the Reka played up their talent with the staff for them.

"Well done, well done," came Bitchin' Barry's dull voice, which sputtered and coughed in human-like meter before returning with a self-satisfied and more natural sounding purr. A figure in one of the central galleries stepped forward, flanked on either side by a pair of gaudily armoured Reka. The figure was male, human-like save for the pair of delicately curled horns that sprouted from his brow and were festooned with golden finery. Pale white flawless skin, hair pulled into a tight pony tail like spun silver, and eyes like coals.

A Myriad.

"Most who awaken in such a state do so at a great deal of disadvantage in the fight, but you...fire, spite, control!" the Myriad said enthusiastically, baiting the crowd of alien onlookers. "A worthy addition to the docket I think we can all agree. And whilst the ranger from the Baron of Ice's Den is the odd's on favourite, I encourage all of you to wager as your conscience dictates."

She understood all the words individually, but...

He sounded like the ringmaster to an old-fashioned, three-ring circus. She remembered she had gone to one as a child, on Earth. It was all holograms of course, a modern-day mockup of what had once been a renowned form of entertainment, but she had enjoyed it anyway. After that connection came to her, of course, a lightning bolt followed a moment later of why the hell something like that would be here. It felt completely beyond her capacity right now and yet it seemed really, really freaking important that she understand it now.

And thus, Brynhild assumed a time-told and well-tried method of getting information in a hurry.

She asked.

"What the HELL is going on here?!"

Okay, so a diplomat, she was not.

"Ah, but of course, where are my manners. Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Myriad known as Flenix, of the House of Foxes. And you have the pleasure of being aboard my ship, the Transgression Of Material Things. Along with one or two of my closest and dearest associates," Flenix said, gesturing to the crowded faces within the gallery who all chuckled. "As you are new to Messier 4, being a human of the Milky Way galaxy-"

This got a clamour of noise from the crowd.

"-you may not know that the House of Foxes are, among our many faults and virtues, traders at our hearts. We peddle, we barter, and we bring the lifeblood of commerce to these dreary stars we call home. Though I do not trouble myself with such trivialities as cargo and goods. I'd never sully my hands with such crass material things," Flenix purred. "I instead provide the intangible, the unattainable. I provide adrenaline-soaked final moments, the climax of a thrilling hunt, and the eager anticipation of the kill. I am, perhaps, the single greatest provider of entertainment in the entire universe. And modest too."

The stream of curses that poured through Brynhild Keil's pounding, bleeding head at the moment would have put literally any other being in the universe to shame. That litany of foulness outweighed a Klingon's aggression, a Ferengi's greed, and a Vulcan's logic...combined. She knew that there had been risks with this mission, but she had not envisioned...whatever in the universe this was.

She knew what this was. She didn't want to admit what she knew. She hoped she was wrong.

She knew she wasn't.

Her instincts had kept her alive for many years now. All of them, in fact. Right now, however, they just felt like they were keeping her...

Informed.

"And, uh," she managed with a weak smirk, "if I'm not interested in any final moments...?"

"Final moments!" her voice crowed from the gold plated Reka as it held up it's phase staff to the baying crowd.

"I couldn't have put it better myself," Flenix said with a coy smile. "Alas...I find myself in a quandry. Your presence here is a question and do so hate having questions left answered. Your people have been a thorn in the side of the Myriad Abboarx and Haztor, not to mention the debacle your lot provided at the Sleepers Bazaar."

Flenix leaned against the railing, tapping a finger tip against perfectly sculpted teeth.

"If I offer you an alternative to being lunch, dinner, and breakfast to the young Reka there...would you tell me why you are here? Where you came from? And where others might be found? That little fighter of yours is hardly worthy of the term space ship, let alone a starship. And you do not have the whiff of thinking iron about you, so you're not one of Cinder Moths brood..." Flenix's eyes narrowed and he grinned. "Though, I must admit, you are providing me an idea of sorts. So, what say you to my trade: information for your life. Become one of my associates and know luxury as you have never known it before. An offer few sentiences, let alone civilisations, turn down."

"No."

Brynhild was not, after all, just any sentience or civilization. She was a Starfleet officer, and a good one at that. She would not tell them anyway, for they were no ally of any sort. She was not built to give up other in exchange for her own life, and she wouldn't start now. She sighed heavily as she said the word, a sort of sorrow descending on her with the weight of the word, but she would not take it back.

"I won't tell you anything," she said simply.

"I only said I'd offer it you, I never said your acceptance was necessary," Flenix said. Without a word a door in the far side of the arena opened, and a gaggle of Reka in less ornate armour stepped through wielding their phase staffs. Their beaks clacked and chittered. And then from behind them, a much taller Reka appeared. This one was markedly different to the Reka Keil was used to. It had a second pair of arms sprouting from its shoulders, so that either pair of arms could hold a weapon. This one armoured in sheets of thick glass, mudded and dark to look like ice.

And it could speak.

"The Myriad wants this one," it said in a deep basso voice. It's four eyes glowering at Keil as it raised one staff and pointed it at her. . A male Reka, a first. "The female who brings me that ones still breathing body gets to eat tonight. The rest of you can watch or be eaten."

This was command enough, as the flock of Reka raced towards Keil, and the golden armoured specimen turned on her.

 

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