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Underground, Part 1

Posted on 05 Apr 2014 @ 8:50pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Lieutenant JG Harold Sherman

Mission: Echoes
Location: Altair IV
Timeline: January 2, 2388 || 1430 hours

In the short while that had passed since Petty Officer Surak's disappearance, Commander Geisler had recalled Lieutenant Kerr to the Black Hawk to handle some current developments. This left Lieutenant JG Ellis in charge. Along with Lieutenant Dane and Ensign Sherman, enough information was pieced together to locate the site the research team last discovered. While the engineering and operations teams continued to dismantle the research camp, the Senior Staff of the Away Team, along with a small security force, took the Mississippi to their next destination. A small medical team had also been dispatched to assist.

As the Mississippi set down and the away team prepared to disembark, Harper checked her gear and stood up. She had listened, during the trip over on the shuttle, but there had been nothing. Resolutely, she pushed her own feelings to the back of her mind though echoes of the terror that Anderson had felt in their moments of contact still lingered along Harper's nerve endings. Something was being done to her. Something terrible. And in equal parts, she wanted to help and run away. Still, she followed the away team out of the shuttle and waited for orders.

Ensign Sherman checked his gear before leaving the Mississippi, there were missing crewmember and Science Expedition to find. It fell upon to find out what happen to them before they could move. His gear was in order as he exited the Mississippi. Taking a look around to get his bearing where they were.

Commander Beh'ruken normally stood tall with pride and honor, but now he was just standing tall and occasionally having to crane his neck, and duck. He still had pride and honor about him as his uniform and rank showed. However, there was a chilling nervousness flowing within him.

He was no novice to a Tricorder, he had been a career science officer. He was however more concerned with his phaser. Hand-to-hand combat was what he was better at. Though he preferred not to engage in armed or unarmed combat. He was a pacifist by belief and a scientist by heart.

Beh'ruken was relying on the crew of the Blackheart on this mission. "We have already lost crew members on this planet, and I do not want to add to those numbers. Remember to keep your wits about you and do not venture off too far alone" grumbled the Antican.

Hal looked at his Tricorder looking at his reading,"With the composition of the rocks around us, our Tricorders should work as well as could expect. As for communication, well we shouldn't lose contact with the away party or the Blackhawk." He would feel more comfortable knowing that Blackhawk would be able to extract them with Transporter, but with the magnetic interference that was ruled out.

The Antican gave a simple nod at first. He approached Sherman slowly, joining the man to have a gander at the Tricorder readings. "Keep an eye on those rock and mineral composites. I don't want to cause any more disruption with the Tricorders unless need be."

Dr. Geddon hadn't been expecting his first posting back in the Quadrant to be so exciting. Well, if your idea of excitement was a few missing crew members and a traumatized woman in his sickbay. He swept out of the shuttle with the rest, sharp eyes taking in his surroundings. One thing you learn, growing up in one of the Hill Providences of Bajor: It pays to keep an eye out.

The bajoran peeked over Sherman's shoulder at the composites, not saying a word. That mumbo-jumbo was for the science officers; He was a doctor, not a scientist. He was here in a medical capacity. What that was going to entail, Geddon wasn't sure, but he would be lying if he said he wasn't happy to be doing good outside of Command. He looked around, trying take in all the information he could with his eyes. "Well, what now?" He grumbled.

Sherman was intent as he looked at his tricorder as he started out, while saying and pointing, "All the data we have indicate this is the path to where everyone is being held." As he started down the path cautiously.

[Topside]

As the shuttle landed Jason grabbed all of his gear and headed out with is tricorder in hand. He tapped his commbadge and called out,

=^= "DeVries, to Beh'ruken, please give me your coordinates so I can rendezvous with you as quickly as possible. I just got out of a meeting with Commander Geisler and he has asked that I stick around and take command of the away team." =^=

TAG Beh'ruken

=^= "Black Hawk to DeVries. =^= came Harvey's voice over the comm. =^= "Looks like we're dealing with ancient weapon up here. It's armed. We're recalling the other team. Do what you can to find our missing people." =^=

DeVries had only gotten his response from Beh'ruken moments before he heard the voice of the captain over the comm. He tapped his own badge, =^= "DeVries here, message received, on my way in now to rendezvous with the rest of the team. I will find them if I can." =^= he replied while heading into the underground realm his team had entered not long before him.

[Elsewhere]

Bright light enveloped Anderson's vision, blurring all of the details. Normally, vision like this would cause pain, but she felt nothing. Quickly, her focus returned, revealing a bright and ornate ceiling, like something in an ancient human cathedral. She slowly sat up, taking a closer look at her surroundings. The room was magnificent, decorated to the utmost detail. Fine marble, platinum and gold were carefully inlaid everywhere.

As she rose to her feet, she noticed that her body was not bare as she last saw it, but now clothed in her favorite dress. "How..." she muttered, noticing her hands had been manicured, and her favorite pair of heels (also the most uncomfortable pair) were on her feet. She took a step, waiting for pain to shoot up through her arches, but felt nothing. Anderson pinched his arm, only to find a very dull reaction. She could feel the smooth skin under her finger tips. At least she could feel something.

"There is no negativity here."

Anderson, startled by the voice, quickly turned to see a human woman standing behind her. "Who...? Who are you?"

"Elanor Atkinson," she replied with a gentle, yet uneasy smile.

"From the research team?" Anderson asked, taking a moment to observe that Elanor, too, was as beautiful as the room. "I'm, uh," Anderson took a deep breath, still working to calm her nerves. "Crewman Beth Anderson, USS Black Hawk."

Elanor's eyes widened, realizing the situation. "We must act quickly. Come with me, dear." Elanor approached Beth to guide her into a nearby room.

It was then that Anderson realized that she was just in some kind of hallway. The room they entered was significantly larger and even more ornate. Twelve columns circled the room, some of them gold, and others marble. Each one had to be at least five stories high.

"Wait a second," Anderson murmured, recalling the room she had been held in before. "The... those... where I was before..." She closed her eyes and winced. Apparently memories brought pain. "Just before I was here, something... painful..." It was as if something was in her mind, attempting to block the memory.

"Where's my uniform?" she asked, opening her eyes and looking at Elanor. "How did you get my dress and fix my shoes?"

"I did nothing, dear." Elanor gently replied. "All of us appear to be how best we see ourselves."

Anderson looked around to see two Vulcans, another human, and a species unknown to her. Each of them were nicely groomed and dressed. "I was being held... somewhere..."

"And still are." Elanor's husband Richard stepped forward. "We think our consciousness has been uploaded to some sort of construct."

"So... I'm really not here."

"None of us are," replied the Vulcan Turok.

"Then... why...?"

Turok gestured towards the round table in the center of the room. Twelve chairs surrounded it. In the middle was a holographic display, projecting what appeared to be Altair IV. "It's best to let it explain."

Cautiously, Beth sat down and looked at the display. Suddenly, she was bathed in light, but only for a moment. Dazed, she struggled to steady herself using the table. She blinked, regaining her composure and noticed her information was in her mind. In a moment, she had learned a millennia of history, the saga of the Nosgul and the Iconians. Very little was known about the Iconian Empire, but this history painted them as an evil race, conspiring to take over and enslave the galaxy. The entire system had been constructed as a massive weapon to target and annihilate Iconian bases. No one knew where they were, and no computer program could isolate those locations. This facility was built to incorporate an intuition that the best AI could not provide.

"We need to destroy it," Anderson immediately announced, getting up from her chair and looking at the others.

"It takes twelve people to use the machine," Richard countered.

"Much less destroy it," Elanor added. She looked up and saw that two more columns had turned to gold. "Four more people and we can."

[Away Team]

This is where we are right now: photo Forbidden_Planet_-_The_Great_Machine-Krell_zps19c24300.jpg

The Away Team had stopped just inside the underground complex to await the arrival of Commander DeVries. While Sherman and Beh'ruken scanned the area, Lieutenant JG Ellis stepped forward and kept his eye out and phaser rifle at the ready. He spotted DeVries entering the area. "Commander," he said, approaching the officer. "Good to see--"

Before DeVries' eyes, he disappeared, just like Surak and Anderson had done hours before.

Sherman let out small gasp, seems people had tendency to disappear and he had heard of the discovery above. He thought to himself, how many years have species traverse this system, and no one realize where the magnetic interference was coming from. Now there were 3 of the crew from the Black Hawk, and missing Science expedition. It was getting more and more complicated.

DeVries was still stunned by the sight of the other man simply vanishing before his eyes. He knew that the phenomena had been happening randomly to people in various places but it was the first time he'd seen it. Seeing people disappear and reappear in an age of technology like a transporter is nothing new, but that was a process that took, at best, several seconds. This was simply instantaneous. One moment they were standing there, the other they were gone.

"Everyone stay calm, let's keep moving, we have to find these missing people." he said, giving his voice a commanding edge. "Mr. Beh'ruken, I am sorry to have to take command back of the away team so shortly after it was given to you, but those are my orders. I hope you can understand that it is in no way personal." he added. Turning back to the others he said, "Let's go find them." and with that he started heading further into the caverns they were exploring.

Sherman continued to keep one eye out for anything out of sort and his another on his tricorder. He notice that it seemed this mission with the people continue coming up mission with two of the three, happening in front of others was having affect on the away team. They need to find those who were missing and figure who or what was behind it soon.

After exploring through the caves about 75 yards as they picked their way slowly, Sherman notice changes in the structure of the surrounding rocks. He spoke out, "Sir, if I am reading the tricorder correctly, and the interference not playing games, it seems that we should be finding chambers nearby. Not picking up any signs of entryways, or tell if the if this is the only level of this cave system." Sherman was examining the walls more closely nearby, for it they had just crossed over where there should be chambers on either side.

Ensign L'wreen, a Caitian wearing security gold, kept her phaser rifle at the ready. Next to her a Petty Officer had his tricorder out as well, scanning for anything that could be hazardous. "This way," said the Petty Officer, noticing something nearby on his tricorder. He led the Away Team another five yards to uncover an ancient entrance, unsealed and bidding them entrance. Just inside the entrance, they found the room dimly lit by a fading light on the ground. The Petty Officer stooped down to look at the light, only to find it was a standard-issue Starfleet palm light. "Looks like the research team was here," he announced to the group.

The Caitian ensign shone her rifle's light around the room and located a single door, still sealed. With permission, she opened it to reveal a dark room.

Suddenly, lights sprang to life, illuminating the soft blue-gray tones of the walls and floor. It seemed the room, in its sealed state for many centuries, had been kept clean and pristine. Against the far wall was a window that stretched completely across its length with a bank of computer terminals below it, twelve to be precise. Nine of the terminals were active.

Three were not.

Looking out the window and down appeared to be several pod-like structures. L'wreen could make out silhouettes inside each one, but no distinguishing features.

Suddenly, she gasped as she saw one of the pods seal in Lieutenant Ellis, completely wired into some sort of apparatus.

Sherman went instinctively toward the the terminals to see what type of interface they were using and how complicated it was. It was always tricky when dealing with alien technology because one wrong command could mean...

He wonder what else could be control from this control room.

[Elsewhere]

"Anderson?"

Beth spun around to see an officer of the USS Black Hawk walking in with Elanor in tow. "Lieutenant?" Daniel, unlike the rest of the group, had retained his uniform as part of his mental image.

"Mr. Ellis here," Elanor spoke, cutting off any attempt for the security officer to reply, "informs me that a landing party from your ship has found the underground facility."

"And your presence here makes nine of us," spoke the Vulcan Turok.

By now, the entire group, pirates included, had gathered around Beth's seat at the table to discuss the situation. Everyone, except the newest arrival, had been briefed by the computer on what needed to happen. As Daniel, instructed by Richard, took a seat to receive his download, Elanor resumed her address. "I think we all can agree that this planet is too valuable to any one party."

The male pilot, the one observed by the Black Hawk to have disappeared from his ship's bridge, spoke up. "The Golden Stars would find great value in this planet. It would bring any power to their knees."

"True," Richard countered. "But the weapon can only be fired by a unanimous vote of the twelve. As long as we are in disagreement, nothing happens."

"Until the Golden Stars come to reclaim the planet." The pirate folded his arms. "The Black Hawk Captain knows this."

"All the more reason," Lieutenant Ellis interjected as he rose out of his chair, "that this installation be destroyed." He looked over at Richard, now knowing the 'rules' of this environment and knowing that each person was a mental image of themselves incapable of feeling pain or even causing harm to another. "It is only a matter of time before the crew of the Black Hawk find where our bodies are being held, much less anything relating to a control center."

Another column turned gold. Ten were now captive. It took a few minutes for the new arrival, Petty Officer L'wreen, to arrive in the room. She informed the group of the Away Team's current whereabouts. The pirates, meanwhile, withdrew to discuss their own plan.

Daniel ignored the concerned actions of the pirates as he looked over to Anderson. "You're a computer expert, crewman?"

"Yes, sir!" Beth replied, knowing exactly what the officer was implying.

"See if you can enter that mental link again and interface with the terminals the Away Team found."

[Control Center]

Lieutenant Commander DeVries was now more concerned than he had ever been. Already, in the last twenty minutes, he had seen two members of his Away Team disappear. A quick communication with the Black Hawk informed him that Captain Geisler was recalling the other Away Team. It seemed he was expecting the worst from the continuously unfolding situation.

As he considered his options, ranging from abandoning the underground structure to blasting the window, repelling down and attempting to rescue the captured crewmembers, he noticed that one of the terminals began to act strangely. The screen color changed, and the characters displayed on it began to shift into different languages. The lighting in the room even began to fluctuate in unison with the terminal.

Finally, the terminal went dark, but only for a moment. When it flashed back to life, it showed no details of what was there before, but only had the image of a vaguely familiar face.

"Crewman Anderson to Black Hawk Away Team."

DeVries instantly slapped his combadge. "DeVries to Black Hawk! You're not going to believe this."

=^= "What is it?" =^= came Commander Geisler's instant reply.

"Captain? Is that you?" There was a pause as if Anderson was seeking confirmation. But before Geisler had the chance, she added, "This is Crewman Anderson."

=^= "Anderson? Thank God!" =^=

"Captain," Jason explained, moving over to the terminal to take a close look. "Crewman Anderson seems to be in the alien computer. I have no explanation."

"I do, Captain." Anderson interjected. "There is so much to explain. The short version is that we have been selected to attack the Iconian Empire."

Sherman went over to the computer terminal and started to exam it. He looked at and search quickly with his tricorder. "It appears that the pods around use are connected to one terminal each. They have connected in way are working in such a way, as used to be dreamed about in Science Fiction novels. It is still hard for me to explain, but it appears to be what all other artificial intelligence programs lack in the past. They had to be complexly programmed and then they still didn't understand feelings and emotions. Yet, by all appearance all these terminals have those and the collective learned experience. Not much I can tell with out consulting someone with medical knowledge."

For minute Sherman was little stun, but he wonder what effect this would have on the bodies in the pods and if they would be ever able to be recover alive.

=^= "Attack the Iconian Empire?" =^= Harvey asked over the comm.

"Affirmative. This installation is in the process of selecting twelve arbiters who will determine where to fire the weapon."

=^= "Can you disarm it?" =^=

"Without twelve people, we can't even cause an overload. I do, however, have access to all of their records and I'm making them available to you now. Maybe you can find something of value there."

Sherman having heard the conversation with everything else that was going on. So we have twelve terminal that need to be operating, at the current time there were some still inactive, whatever system that controlling this hasn't chosen the others. At this time there wasn't much they could do with these computers terminals without possibility of injury to those who were now connected to each terminal. Now know there were weapons that were out there. It explained a lot about the interference with the magnetic field in this solar system.

Sherman turned to the team, "We have some tough decisions confronting us. Doctor what are the vitals of the 'Hosts', and if we can disrupt these system what is the potential damage to them could be? If these control weapons out in space above....." Sherman turned to terminal that was 'Anderson', "Anderson can you and the other help figure out schematics of this system and the weapons, plus brief history of this conflict that they were set up for." Sherman just hoped they had time to figure something out without going to extreme, and he didn't want to have any more crew members taken as 'Hosts' and putting more lives in danger. That at this time was unknown. Then again this is what Sherman signed up for.

"Because there are not yet twelve of us," Anderson said, "I can't access anything related, even remotely to the weapon." Her voice paused as her mind searched through the computer systems. "I can touch practically everything. It looks like the magnetic interference is actually part of their defense system. Let me try something..."

[USS Black Hawk]

"Captain!" called out the operations officer on duty. As Harvey spun around, he caught a look of surprise on the man's face. "I'm picking up lifesigns on the planet. Metalurgical readings, atmospheric details..." He looked up to the captain. "Transporter locks."

"On screen, then." Harvey smiled, looking back to the viewscreen. Finally, some good news. "Commander DeVries, it seems the magnetic inference is no longer there. In fact, I'm looking at your location on my viewscreen."

[Alien Installation]

It was Jason's turn to smile. "Good to hear, Captain." With the Black Hawk now able to retrieve the Away Team using the transporters, more options just came on the table. "Anderson, you said you need twelve people to make a decision on the weapon."

"Yes, Commander. And it must be unanimous. With the present company, I don't think that's possible."

"And seeing how this isn't Federation space," offered Jason, "there's not much we can do about it. Captain, I don't think we have much choice except to destroy this thing."

=^= "Anderson, can you stop the abductions?" =^=

"That is all connected to the weapon, Captain. I'm sorry, but no. I don't even know if this computer will let our minds go."

"Doctor," Jason said, looking over to the Bajoran. "Anything?" Then he looked to Ensign Sherman. "See if you can find any kind of weak point here, or in that asteroid field. Anything we find will give us a better chance of knocking this out."

Sherman looked back at his tricorder. Then it became crystal clear almost, "Sir, I don't believe who ever made this Control Center and the Weapons above had intended the 'Hosts' to become one with the computer terminals for life." As he looked around the Control Room, "Otherwise I would think we would of found some evidence of them before we found this room. As it is, they could of lost memory of it existence before whatever happen to them."

It wasn't unknown back during Earth Cold War period when the East and West were just mere minute from Nuclear War, that several places in Europe had supplies hidden. This was before computers were used to keep track of inventory, when it was pen and paper. Many of these sites were had equipment that was later called misplaced and unaccounted for, because records of various sites were lost or destroyed. Well hundred years after the period ended, these stockpile sites could be found as they were left.

Then looking at the computer terminals and then looking at the pods where the people who controlled the terminals were at. Then 'Anderson' to explain what she had on the conflict that crew of the Black Hawk had stumbled into the middle of. He wonder if there was a way, where they could fool the system into thinking it had fired and destroy the Iconian Empire without actually firing the weapons he had feeling that would trigger whatever to release the captives.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

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