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Ride-Along: The Rabbit Warren

Posted on 02 Sep 2023 @ 4:08pm by Chief Petty Officer Ozanna Isuri
Edited on on 06 Feb 2024 @ 8:18pm

Mission: M4 - Falling Out
Location: USS Wasp- Loki System, Ort Cloud
Timeline: M3 Backpost , Following "Ride-Along: A Bird in Hand"
1786 words - 3.6 OF Standard Post Measure

Sikan wasn’t a pilot. He knew enough about flying to pilot a shuttlecraft if it came to it. He knew how to target ships in space, how to program firing solutions and anticipate evasive maneuvers and do the cold calculus that was required of the tactical station. He was good at it, and it wasn’t ego or pride that led him to conclude he was better at it than most. But he never did get a handle on flying. The fighter inside of the bay of the false asteroid which he investigated seemed impressive even to his inexpert eye. The security system was robust, but not a match for Starfleet equipment.

Sikan managed to break into the flight logs in relatively short order, and downloaded them all to his EVA suit's onboard computer for analysis later. When that was done, he deactivated the systems and put them under encryption. He didn’t want somebody sneaking out past them later. Whoever was responsible for this was well-funded, organized and certainly hostile to the Federation. He wasn’t about to leave anything to chance.

As Sikan climbed back out of the fighter, he said, “Mr. Tann, if you wouldn’t mind watching the fighter, we shall check further into this asteroid.”

If anything, Tann seemed predisposed to continue to evaluate the fighters, and was prepared to keep anyone from making off with them behind the commander's back.

Sikan moved up the stairs to the access hatch where Rich Stillwell and Roth were waiting. “Mr. Stillwell,” Sikan said softly, his voice carried through the small mic resting against his throat to the earpiece in Stillwell’s ear. “What’s your assessment of the situation?”

“I’ve got an assessment for it,” Roth muttered. “Hinky, is what it is.”

“It’s not locked. To me that looks like an open invitation from somebody who thinks they’re on the high ground,” Stillwell summarized.

“A sound assessment,” Sikan agreed.

“And we’re just gonna go ahead and walk through the unlocked door that they’re inviting us through, then,” Roth replied.

“Also a sound assessment,” Sikan agreed. He pressed the button for the door and the hatch slid open. It was a heavy door, designed to secure the sole ingress and egress out of the base. And, yet, as Stillwell noted, it was unlocked and open.

The three men slipped inside carefully, finding themselves in a passage that had been hewn out of the rock of the asteroid, by phaser or cutting lasers, it was difficult to tell. There was a steep slope up, with temporary lighting strung along the walls. Sikan made a gesture and Stillwell nodded, taking point while Sikan covered the rear. He opened a small tricorder, scanning the environment. The rock interfered with the device, though he was able to get some cursory readings of the energy running along the walls. It gave him some idea where some control center might be located, though he couldn’t get a read of any life signs.

Stillwell led them forward, following the rocky passage up, where they came to a T-shaped intersection. Stillwell hesitated at the corner while Sikan took another reading. Energy spikes to the left. Silently, the Vulcan gestured left and Stillwell nodded, taking the corner carefully. Roth and Sikan followed shortly. It was silent down this passage, only the hum of a generator any indication of life.

“Too quiet,” Roth whispered.

Stillwell approached the curve in the passageway, and as if in answer to Roth’s observation, a searing blast of phaser fire lanced out, sizzling past Stillwell’s head. The big man ducked back to the side, pressing against the wall. Roth leaned back next to him. Another burst of phaser fire struck the far wall. “They’re shooting at nothing,” Roth said.

“It’s an automated phaser,” Stillwell said. “I just got a quick look at it before it shot at me.”

“Automated defenses. That indicates we’re not dealing with a very large force,” Sikan said, slinging his phaser rifle. He reached behind his back and grabbed a small cylindrical device. “Where was the phaser located, Mr. Stillwell?”

“Ceiling, I think?”

“If it’s shielded, an EMP won’t have any effect,” Roth said.

“I would be quite surprised if this facility—“ Another orange burst of phaser fire struck the wall, humming with power as it hit near Stillwell’s shoulder. “Mr. Stillwell, you may want to move down just a bit. This facility will not have enough power for internal shielding.”

“We hope,” Roth muttered, as Sikan activated the EMP and tossed it down the passageway, angling it high as he bounced it off the wall and down the passage towards the phaser.

There was a low whump, and the hiss of the ceiling mounted phaser ceased. But, just beyond there was another sound as that was silenced. It was soft, but distinguishable as foot falls. “They’re taking up positions, at least two of them.” Stillwell said, pointing to indicate where the sounds seemed to be. “On the left.”

Roth put a hand on Stillwell’s shoulder. “Maybe they’re leading us on. Maybe they want us to follow to the left. Let's take the right hand and surprise whatever they have waiting to hit us from behind.”

Stillwell thought about it. “Alright, I’ll follow these guys left, you take the right and cover me.” And then he was moving already, not interested in losing the marks he’d picked up.

Roth rolled his eyes upward as he split at the T-junction, headed right and muttering about “What have I got myself into,” as he raised his weapon and flashed a light down the dimly lit passage. For a moment he and Stillwell were back to back, but when nothing immediately confronted them, they proceeded to clear the way ahead of each of them.

Stillwell’s passage broadened into a bigger carved out area, fashioned with storage shelving and loaded up with supplies. The cast shadows were very long and dark, and Stillwell swept his phaser’s torchlight constantly, certain he was going to be jumped. One of the shelving units behind him fell with a loud clatter, and as he turned to see it cutting him off from easy accesses back to the passage, someone took a phaser shot at him.

It landed, center of mass on his chest, and Stillwell went down, hard. He was weighty and tall and took a spectacular spill, bouncing his helmeted head against rock.

Stunned, and uncertain which way he was facing, his vision was blurred, and Stillwell reasoned through a foggy head that the defensive mesh in his space suit had diffused the shot. He lay still, waiting for the pins and needles to pass while a raven haired woman in a flight suit came closer, checking on her mark. Stillwell saw her face, or two of her faces in his doubled vision, move directly over him, peering through the glass of his helmet. But when she raised her phaser to put another bolt into him, he came to his feet, and locked her gun arm until the bone snapped and she screamed.

“You shot me!” he said, tossing her phaser aside as he wrestled the cuffs onto her.

“You broke my arm!”

He tried to stay upright, tottering. “How many of you? An.. you say, who’s in charge here?”

“Why don’t you find out for yourself, Starfleet,” she hissed between clenched teeth.

Stillwell mag latched her to another shelf to try to figure out how to dig his way back to the team. “Boys,” He said vaguely, not wanting to identify his own team numbers and locations outloud. His speech was even slower than it normally was. His tongue felt thick. “Got one here, secured. She shot me, I'm ..." He looked back at the collapsed shelf. "Her buddy, he blocked me in.”

Roth’s voice came back to him, “Heading your way.”

“Hold,” Sikan replied.


There was a pause and silence for a moment. Stillwell kept his eyes on the entrance, blocked by the rack. Would the one on the outside lob in a grenade, or not take the risk with his companion inside. Stillwell kept himself tucked away, out of sight, just in case he might become another target. His chest ached and the adrenaline was still coursing through him, keeping it at the edges, but any moment now the pain would start to come back. Security officers were shot with phasers on various stun settings during training, as a way to become familiar with the sensation, to understand it and develop methods of recovery. Stillwell breathed, keeping his focus on the task at hand even as his body tried to recover from the neurological disruption.

For his part, Roth was holding. The junction had taken him down another path that seemed to broaden out to a rudimentary residential area. There were bunks carved into the walls, personal storage lockers, helmets and flight gear. This was apparently where some of the pilots slept. It was an eerie feeling, being here alone. And Sikan had seemed to disappear into thin air, despite his muttered order for Roth to hold. He had taken up shelter in the doorway of the barracks, watching the hallway for a sign of anybody. Every bit of him wanted to go to Stillwell’s position and help.

While he contended with that feeling, he suddenly heard another phaser burst, this one behind him. Roth spun, raising his phaser rifle. The barracks were empty. A cold feeling danced along his spine. His mouth was dry, and then…one of the locker doors swung open. Roth aimed his rifle as Sikan stepped out of the locker, dragging a body behind him. “Where the hell did you come from?” Roth asked, and then caught himself. “Sir, I mean?”

“There is a small network of tunnels hidden under this one with multiple points of ingress and egress,” Sikan replied, dropping the man carefully to the deck. “He was waiting to ambush us after trapping Stillwell. We will also find the control systems downstairs, hidden.”

“They really put a lot of work into this,” Roth said.

“Guys,” Stillwell said, his voice heavy and pained. “If it’s all the same, could we wrap this up and get back to the Wasp?”

“Go,” Sikan said. “I will retrieve what data I can from the computers here and join you shortly.”

“Aye, sir,” Roth said, glancing once more at the unconscious man lying on the deck before heading down the hallway to collect Stillwell. At least they were getting off of the creepy, silent pirate rock soon.


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