Place of Desolation
The Encounter 3X03
Location: Station Operations
Timeline: MD 1100 Hours
The away team arrived at station operations to a scene of carnage. In the vacuum the last struggles of the station's military administrators was perfectly preserved. Officers and enlisted personnel lay sprawled across the floor or dangling from consoles and railings locked in battle. Weapons lay discarded on the floor. Men and women were locked in a struggle for survival with some resorting to broken shards of transparent aluminum or optical cabling fashioned into garrotes. In the middle of the circular room over the command and control table set in the lower section of Operations, the station's Gul and a senior officer fought to the last breath.
Mercy surveyed the scene of devastation, sweeping the area with her phaser rifle and searching for the slightest glimmer of movement. There was nothing.
"I'll...I'll see if I can get some of the terminals active," Xynys hissed quietly. The scene sent a shiver down her spine. The Gorn lumbered off to the nearest power junction.
"I'll watch your six." Mercy told her.
Alidar surveyed the grisly sight. Being a Romulan meant that he had stumbled across similar scenes, especially now after Hobus. Houses and sects had torn themselves apart until some semblance of control had been regained.
"Cardassian versus Cardassian," Alidar thought aloud as he stood near a console awaiting power, though not close enough to fry if it blew from a power surge. "Looks like the scene aboard the Maine."
The vacuum of the station deadened the sound of pneumatics and grinding metal that would have ordinarily accompanied Xynys inelegant removal of the bulkhead paneling. Gloved hands dove into the mess of Cardassian data cables and power conduits. Several inarticulate hisses and grunts followed, the universal translator unable (or perhaps unwilling) to translate the Gorn's frustrated grumbles. Moments later station OPS sprang to life. Consoles shone bright in the darkness and the deck's life support system began to come back online.
"We should have station access and life support within three minutes, Commander," Xynys reported, hands still buried in the nest of cables.
"Very good, Lieutenant," Alidar nodded toward the engineer. The Romulan then took a few steps toward the console in front of him as the working screens and command inputs showed that it was now safe from overload. Glancing around to the rest of the team, he asked, "Got anything?"
"Causes of death are self evident." Remak replied. Any loss of life on this scale would trouble any medical professional and the Cardassian was no exception. Whatever problems he may have with elements of his government, these people were likely good men and women who didn't deserve this fate. "I'd need to perform further scans to confirm or deny the presence of parasites. I still can't say for certain what happens to them once the host dies."
Xynys withdrew her hand from the maintenance panel and turned her attention to the active computer terminal next to the power junction. "Most of the station's systems are offline, and it looks like someone tried to scrub the logs," She reported. Her eyes darted from the data pouring across the display to the unfamiliar Cardassian interface at her fingertips. "These controls don't make any sense," She muttered.
"Sorry, Lieutenant, Cardassian's Greek to me too." Mercy said.
"A little trick I learned in the war," Alidar stated as he placed his tricorder on the side of the console. After hitting a few commands, the device began translating the console.
"Thank you, Commander," Xynys hissed. With the tricorder as her guide, the Gorn set to work bringing the Operations center online. More and more consoles began to flicker to life.
"Let's see what we have," Alidar said aloud as he took the nearest console. "Life Support, lights, door controls, it appears that we have everything we need to see what happened here."
Endeavour to away team. Commander tr'Seroht, status report.
"tr'Seroht here," Alidar started, leaning closer to the console. "We have just powered on Station Operations and have almost total control of systems. No sign of a self-destruction trap."
He looked at the readouts of the ship systems before continuing, "It almost looks like one side vented the station to prevent whatever was happening here."
Understood, Commander. Proceed with caution as you continue your investigation. We've detected what appears to be a Cardassian Galor in orbit of the gas giant. We may fall out of communications as we move to intercept.
"Cardassians, keep an eye on them. We still do not know who's side they are on in all of this," Alidar responded. He looked to the rest of the team, "Work fast, space is about to get crowded."
"I've managed to download station logs that haven't been encrypted or corrupted," Xynys reported. "It looks like someone was attempting to delete the logs and another individual stopped the process. I don't know how useful the data is going to be, Commander."
Alidar tapped his own console, "I've got a strange reading behind this blast door. I can't determine if it is biological in nature or a sensor echo from the carnage."
The Romulan nodded to the corresponding door that would have been the Commanding Officer's office. "Xynys, care to open the jar?" He then eyed Mercy as he said, "Make sure we don't get surprised by what's inside."
Xynys approached the large double doors and looked to either side of the archway for a control panel. She spotted one to the right of the door. "Let's see if it opens when asked." The Gorn examined the keypad and attempted to override the lockout in place. After several tries without success, Xynys stepped back from the panel and positioned herself at the edge of the stairs leading down to the command pit.
"I haven't had to do this in a while," She grumbled. With her right foot and shoulder leading the way, Xynys took a running start at the door. An untranslated snarl of Gorn hissed over the comm right before she made contact with the door. The bronze doors strained under the effort and gave way, crashing to the floor.
Seltriss followed suit. She tumbled forward and landed on the broken doors. "Ow," Xynys hissed flatly. She lay flat on her back staring up at the ceiling. "I'm too old for this..."
"My efforts may have weakened it," Alidar responded, hiding his awe of the display of strength of such a barbaric race. As his focus shifted to what was behind the now broken door, Alidar immediately raced his phaser, unconcerned with its current setting. "Hands where I can see them, no sudden movements," he called to the two occupants visible, cowering to the back of the room.
Mercy covered the XO as he entered the Station Commander's Office.
One of the figures in a Cardassian environmental suit answered over the communication's channel. Neither of the office's occupants moved from their position huddled behind the desk. "Here to finish the job, Starfleet? I doubt you need a phaser rifle to do it." He waved his hand at Mercy.
Without putting his phaser down, Alidar responded without losing his authoritative tone, "We aren't finishing any job. We are... investigating our own problems that led us here. Which brings me to what exactly happened here?"
The first Cardassian pointed at Doctor Davik. "And what are a Romulan and a Cardassian doing in Federation EVA suits?"
"Things happen, worlds fall," Alidar responded coldly giving nothing to the unknown Cardassians. His body didn't move. "I believe I asked you a question."
The second Cardassian spoke up. "Shut up, Pekta," He barked. He took hold of his wrist and lowered it. "Forgive my Security Chief. He can be...trying at nearly every turn."
"Legate! They are likely responsible for this!" Pekta exclaimed. He began to stand, but the other Cardassian took hold of his shoulder and held him in place.
"Then why aren't we dead? Why don't we have those things crawling inside our helmets by now? Think it through Pekta." He rapped his glove gently against the side of his comrade's helmet. A grumbling acceptance followed.
"I don't know what happened here, Starfleet. One hour the station is a peaceful hub of commerce, the next the crew is killing one another." The Legate answered with a shrug of his shoulders. "Then the life support systems went offline. We've been waiting for rescue ever since."
"We have seen similar events," Alidar began. He lowered his phaser slightly, you could never fully trust Cardassians with their back against the wall. "One of our ships had a mutiny leading to its destruction, I believe those things were responsible."
The Legate looked to the Cardassian standing in the Federation EVA suit. "Is he telling the truth?"
Remak looked at the Legate curiously. He wondered why his own word would be deemed sufficiently trustworthy, especially in this situation. He certainly didn't trust these Cardassians. However, he could apparently be of some use diffusing this situation. "He's telling the truth." He replied simply.
"Do you intend to repair the station or destroy it?" The Legate asked.
Remak looked at the other Cardassian with confusion. "I'm a doctor not an engineer. You'd have to ask my commanding officer what he plans to do."
"We only just arrived," Alidar admitted, "most of the entities that we have crossed have been overrun by those things and self destructed."
"Then we're fortunate your luck has changed," The Legate replied. He looked to his subordinate and then back at Alidar. "If you have no additional questions, I believe we'll remain here and wait for our colleagues to retrieve us."
"I have a question before we go," Alidar countered. "What happened here? How did the attack stop?"
The Legate shook his head, but the motion was lost in the bulk of his EVA suit. "The station's life support systems deactivated. I don't know who ordered it, or how it happened. It just stopped. My colleague and I were lucky. When the alert sounded we were near an emergency locker with environmental suits." He paused and looked out on the station's command center and let out a heavy sigh. "The others just kept fighting..."
"So you didn't initiate the venting of the station?" Alidar asked, a little surprised. It seemed a sound tactic.
"No. We did not have the means," He admitted. "It was an...effective solution to the problem it seems."
"That it was," Alidar responded. "You are sure that you want to stay on station?" the Romulan asked, it seemed a bit uncomforatble to be on a station remotely controlled by an unknown entity, but it also reminded him of home.
"Yes," The Cardassian answered. "We overheard your communique with your vessel. We are content to wait for our colleagues to provide 'rescue,' as it were."
Alidar nodded. Had he been in their shoes, and he had for the first thirty years of his life, he may have done the same thing. He looked back to his team and said, "I think we have what is required."
Lt. Cmdr. Aidar tr'Seroht
Chief Science Officer
USS Maine (Defunct)
Lt. JG Xynys Seltriss
Warrant Officer Mercy Ryan
Intelligence Field Officer