U.S.S. Corsair - NX-011979
Nebula II Prototype
“Sic Parvis Magna”
(Greatness From Small Beginnings)
“Progeny of the Progenitors – Part 24”
Ramius felt himself pulled through the metal wall with a sensation not unlike that of a transporter. He could feel the metal sliding around him until suddenly his equilibrium screamed alerting him to the floor that was rapidly approaching. Surrounded in black, Ramius instinctively reached out and braced himself against something that felt solid an instant before his head and other body parts would have impacted the surface with painful results.
Laying motionless in the darkness it took him several seconds to regain orientation something that came easier with years of pilot experience to rely upon. He had no visual references. There was no sound, no light, and no movement. He was keenly aware of his own rapid breathing and the beating of his heart which was fully engaged within his chest.
Pulling at the BDU’s he had borrowed from the disturbed NeoDyne officer, Ramius produced his flashlight and flicked it on. He was in some sort of room. He could make out a few nearby walls which shimmered with a grey-white hue in the light. Their surface was etched with dark lines and had the look of computer circuits. Aiming his beam before him the flashlight’s light was swallowed by endless nothingness. A passageway of some kind lay before him, but his puny light source was incapable of vanquishing the darkness before it.
Pulling himself back up to his feet, Ramius tried to contact the squad. His attempts were futile. The only response was static. He was cut off and alone. Worse still is he was in unknown territory without means of backup or rescue for the moment. NeoDyne’s proximity only heightened his apprehension as he could not afford a confrontation with them here.
Suddenly that odd feeling returned to him however this time it was much more visceral and intense. The feeling was not painful but Ramius felt himself drawn to something. The sensation was so strong he had to steel himself against its powerful call for him to proceed deeper into the darkness. What was this feeling and why did this place seem to illicit such feelings within him? He took several steps forward almost unconsciously before stopping himself. He had to get out of here before whatever force that was active forced its will upon him. Ramius suddenly felt unsure he could stand against the urges within much longer. His body seemed to hunger to move deeper into the unknown despite his mind’s supreme objections. Reaching out, he touched the wall for support while he caught his breath.
His fingertips suddenly tingled upon contact with the cool surface of the wall. He snapped his arm back as if he had been burned unsure what the unusual sensation represented. Everything in this place seemed to react to his touch. But why?
His eyes were drawn to the place he had touched as several of the circuit like threads etched into its surface flickered with an orange glow. The light quickly spread outwards from that point running along the various channels and lines creeping along the walls and ceiling like a mutant vine scaling a wall at abnormal speeds. A gentle hum filled his senses. Machinery around him seemed to come alive as the tendrils of light continued to spread to the floor and beyond. He turned as they raced into the blackness of the corridor covering every surface with orange trails.
His vision suddenly went white as the room and beyond was flooded in light. Blinking in the newly lit space it took his eyes sometime to adjust to the painful intensity of the sudden illumination. He could make out the corridor beyond. It seemed to stretch on into infinity with dozens of branches and cross connecting hallways. Ramius took a few steps forward careful not to venture too far inside. The thin orange lines crisscrossing the walls, floor, and ceiling slowly began to pulse with a steady rhythm as if beckoning for him to follow. He felt compelled to allow them to lead him and indeed took several more steps until he noticed something odd. The pulses intensified wherever he moved along the floor toward some unknown destination. Something or someone was trying to direct him to a place further within. However a pang of panic ran down Ramius’s spine breaking the spell that had gripped him. If these pulses were guiding him toward some destination then they could easily guide another to his exact location just as easily. He wasn’t safe and these computerized lights were like a beacon lighting the way straight to his location. In fact they had done just that.
Ramius’s excellent hearing caught the subtle trace of sound in the distance just as his eagle eyes registered movement. He had to get out of here.
Grabbing his phaser he ran back to the wall he had somehow managed to pass through yet it now felt perfectly solid and impenetrable. He pushed his hands against it attempting to mirror his prior actions yet his touch only resulted in more orange pulses which were betraying his location. Banging on the wall with his fists served only to send out more and more pulses of light which flowed across the room like ripples on a body of water. Ramius took a breath and remembered how he had felt when he had first touched the wall. He was filled with a sense of curiosity and perhaps something more. Despite the danger he allowed himself to relax even as the voices and sounds of movement grew ever closer.
Suddenly he felt the same warm tingle that he had experienced earlier. It spread across his fingertips and once again he felt a gentle tug akin to that of a playful lover grip him and gently pull him into the wall. The metal parted around him and suddenly he emerged this time with somewhat more control on the other side no worse for wear.
“RAMIUS”, an excited voice suddenly assaulted his senses as he turned to see Akina and the three marines pop up from a concealed location. They quickly converged upon the captain. “What the hell happened?”
“I..I don’t really know”, Ramius admitted as his mind grappled with the complexities of his recent experiences trying to find some logical meaning to them before converting them to memories. Ramius was about to say more when he remembered why he had fled. His mind was abuzz with sights, sounds, smells, and feelings that were taking precedence over his normal cognitive functions. Right now he had to be the captain. There wasn’t time for anything else. A few quick breaths and Ramius willed his uncooperative body into a temporary truce. Hopefully the cease fire would last awhile.
“I think we’ve outstayed our welcome here”, Ramius said checking his phaser. “I suggest we make haste to the exit gentlemen.”
“What did you see in there”, Akina shouted as the men set off back into the icy tunnel. “RAMIUS? RAMIUS!!!”
The men reached the muddy pits of the lower caverns and again found themselves slogging through ankle deep puddles of rank, muddy water tinged with the noxious smells of all things chemical and mechanical. Viscous mud clung to their boots slowing their progress. Simply standing in places was a challenge as the mud and industrial lubricants combined to form a slippery sludge that was as foul as it was difficult to traverse.
“Captain”, one of the marines quietly whispered. “I don’t see the technical personnel when we came through here before. I don’t like this.”
“Then you and I feel the same. We don’t have any choice but to keep moving. Perhaps they are on break or a shift change.” Ramius didn’t believe the latter, but if it helped keep his men’s spirits up then he would say almost anything to prevent them from losing focus.
“Ramius, I don’t remember this damned mud being so damned difficult to move through. And is it just me or is there far less equipment running than before?”
Ramius turned and looked at Akina as the men exchanged what might be considered an almost telepathic connection. Two military veterans could smell a trap and it was now evident that they may have walked right into one.
“Stay alert”, Ramius ordered bringing his phaser up. Akina drew his disruptors as the marines tightened up to form a defensive semi-circle as they moved slowly forward through the muck that filled the cavern floor.
A shout caught their attention followed by several energy beams that tore through the room.
“AMBUSH”, Ramius shouted diving into the slippery, foul goo beneath him. Aiming his phaser he fired several times to keep the attackers pinned down until his team took cover and could setup hasty firing positions. The marines were quickly to react and in moments were providing substantial covering fire keeping the mercenaries ahead at bay with accurate fire.
Akina had slipped and sloshed his way behind a rocky wall which provided him some measure of cover. He spotted one of the mercenaries who’s white winter attire made him an easy target against the dark, brown rock of the cavern. With careful aim, Akina took a shot with one of his disruptors which slammed into the rock sending out a cloud of rocky shrapnel. The mercenary, clawing at his injured face and body, fell into the open where Akina lined up his second pistol and fired catching the merc square in the chest. There was a frightening scream and then nothing as the disruptor vaporized the man in a cloud of green particles.
“Ramius”, Akina shouted over their radios. “We can’t hold up here. We need to fall back and find a more defensible position. We’re too exposed!”
“Yes I know”, Ramius answered dodging several beams which tore into the mud around him sending up huge fountain like plumes of oily mud and water high into the air. If they somehow managed to survive this Ramius was going to need a week in a shower to remove the grime and stench from his body.
“Alright we’ll fall back to the ice tunnel. We should be able to funnel in any attacks from there and be able to defend the approach until we can figure out how to get ourselves out of this mess. I’ll give you covering fire. 3, 2, 1…GO!”
Ramius let loose a substantial barrage of fire to keep the attackers pinned down while Akina and the marines made a run back toward the tunnel and the metal wall. Keeping the attackers at bay, Ramius was forced to bury his head and face in the sludge as several energy beams sliced through the air just above head level. Pulling his face from the muck he quickly took aim and fired several phaser blasts at the ceiling of the cavern and its delicate icy roof. As the mud exploded around him, Ramius concentrated his fire on the ceiling and his efforts and ears were rewarded with deep and powerful crack. Weakened ice further agitated by searing beams of concentrated energy stabbing though it was enough to cause exactly what the earlier engineers were attempting to prevent. Several deafening cracks filled the room as ice and rock broke loose falling like bombs from the collapsing roof.
Ramius scrambled to his feet in the slippery mud narrowly missing a 60 or 70 kilo chunk of ice that crashed down into the mud just a hair’s length from his leg. Ice, rock, and water fell from the cavern as it shook and groaned. The weapons fire stopped as ice exploded in all directions like grenades sending up plumes of mud and icy spray into the air. Snow, rocks, and heavy ice pelted the cavern which shook with terrifying power as the room collapsed upon itself. Ramius dashed back toward the icy tunnel as the room came apart behind him as larger and larger boulders of rock and ice fell from above triggering a chain reaction that was unstoppable. Jumping from the mud into the icy shaft before him, Ramius slid along the smooth ice several feet into the shaft as the entire cavern behind him gave way. The ground around him shook violently for sometime as his back was assaulted by fragments of hard, falling ice.
Finally it was over. The noise subsided as did the planet’s wrath. Looking behind him the passage was now completely sealed. They wouldn’t be getting out that way. Wiping the viscous, stinking mud from his face, Ramius grabbed his nearly depleted phaser and headed back up the tunnel. He reentered the cavern that contained the monolithic wall to see Akina and the marines standing side by side.
Their stance was odd before it hit him. He flattened himself against the ice, but it was too late. He had been seen. As he looked further out a dozen armed guards, not the usual mercenaries, but professional NeoDyne security forces, held Akina and the marines in their sights.
A lone voice rang out through the cavernous room echoing off its high ceilings and icy walls.
“We have your confederates. As you have managed to collapse the entrance you must be aware there is no escape from this area. If you value your life and the lives of your fellow team members I suggest you surrender immediately. You have ten seconds to comply. If you refuse one of these men will die. The choice is yours.”
Ramius nearly cracked a tooth as his teeth gnashed together with painful force. He’d fallen into a trap and this time there was no escape. Even with his abilities there was no possible way he could cover the distance and take out twelve armed men alone.
He looked behind him. There wasn’t any way he was getting through the mess he had created. Even with a phaser he couldn’t hope to cut through that much solid rock and ice. No escape. He couldn’t just surrender to NeoDyne. He couldn’t!”
He looked quickly around the room. The damned wall was so high he couldn’t get a clean shot at the ice which was too far overhead for him to see let alone hit. He might be able to take out one perhaps two of the officers, but Akina and the marines would unlikely to escape alive.
“Two seconds. I will kill one man every ten seconds. Do not think I am bluffing.”
Ramius looked at the phaser in his hand. He knew this day might come. Placing the weapon at his temple he was resolved to end his own life if that indeed was the price that had to be paid to keep the galaxy safe. His finger waivered upon the trigger. As much as his instincts told him to press the button his humanity prevented him from taking his own life. Selfish perhaps…but this couldn’t end this way. There were always possibilities even in defeat. One just had to find them.
Dropping the phaser, Ramius reluctantly stood.
Emerging from the tunnel like a mole climbing from his hole, Ramius appeared, wet and covered in mud and ice. His hands were raised making his intentions clear. Surrendering to NeoDyne sickened him, but there was still the chance of escape. So long as he and his team were alive there was hope.
Guards instantly flanked him and he joined Akina and the marines.
“Sorry Ramius, they took us by surprise”, Akina said as Ramius stopped at his side.
“This isn’t over”, Ramius whispered back. “I swear we’re not finished yet.”
[ To Be Continued… ]
Captain Taverain Ramius
Commanding Officer, USS Corsair
Captain Zane Akina
Starfleet Intelligence Operative