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Personal Log SD 91705.02 - “The Long Crawl”
Ten Minutes Ago...
Kristjana’s heart felt like it was forcing itself out of her chest. More unsettling than the steady throb of the Hermes’ alert lights was the striking silence. There was a precedent set for boarders on a Starfleet ship, but none had appeared after they breached it's hull.
The crew was now in the thick of it, taken completely by surprise. The way had been clear from the bridge to the armory, but there were three sections between Kristjana and the brig. Those three sections also happened to be lights out. There were people in trouble behind those bulkheads, but Kristjana couldn’t take them alone. Her Mark VII rifle was a formidable weapon. It was known by members of her team as the Big Fella, and developed a reputation as the preferred weapon for ground combat with multiple enemies. It was also too large and clumsy for Kristjana, who had to wrap a whole arm around the rifle’s body.
With as many hands already busy as possible, there was only one person in her mind who could handle the power of the Fella, and he was now in the brig.
She located the nearest Jeffries Tube access point, and charted a path to the brig from memory. Her last encounter with Crewman Cortez replayed bitterly in the back of her mind. She could still feel the ache in her jaw, days after he felt it necessary to belt her in the mouth.
Maybe it was cabin fever, maybe it was the recent tension with the crew. Kristjana ignored her training as a counselor to help answer her questions. That wasn’t her job any more. Her job was to keep the peace and make sure the troublemakers were dealt with. And Cortez was a trouble maker. He’d been complaining about not seeing enough action and, just like that, here it was like an unpleasant rash.
She’d trained her people to use the Jeffries Tube system more tactically in situations like these, yet found none putting her advice into practice. She got halfway through a stretch of crawlspace when the lights went out. The path behind her was still lit, but everything in front of her was complete darkness. Kristjana shifted uncomfortably, putting the clumsy rifle in front of her. There was a light attached to the scope that she flicked on. Now, Kristjana had a path and a clean shot at any undesirables that crossed her path. She let her arm rest a moment as the numb tingling of strain overtook it.
Pushing forward, Kristjana made her way to the junction near the brig. She stared at the hatch as she found somewhere to stash the rifle. If there were intruders standing outside the junction, she would need easy access to the Fella, or else she was dead. Inversely, if she clung on to the rifle, she could shoot herself trying to get out to the same result. Also, the junction didn’t allow her to move to open the hatch with a fifty-whatever pound rifle sitting in her lap. She made sure the safety was on, and leaned against it as a brace.
Kristjana kicked at the static door once, and waited a few moments. When no-one opened the hatch to investigate, she kicked it again. She felt one of the securing latches unbuckle. She waited a few moments more to make doubly sure she was alone, and kicked a third time. The hatch unbuckled and landed on the floor with a metallic thud. She crawled out of the tube and stood in the midst of complete black. No running lights, no emergency batteries, no consoles. She tapped her commbadge, which gave her an obstinate buzz in reply. Completely cut off.
She took the Fella with her and carried on down the corridor. There was only a dozen or so feet between her and where she needed to be when she stopped cold. Hunched over the body of a dead crewmember was one of the boarders. It was a biped with digitigrade legs that bent backward at the knee. Three forward and one hind toe. It obviously saw the light, as it turned sharply to look at her. It was wearing a helmet, narrow with a part that stuck out at the back. There was faceplate shaped like a T, through which she could clearly see narrow blue eyes beaming at her with fierce intention. Instinctively, Kristjana gripped the handle of the Big Fella, and squeezed the trigger. It was a blind shot, but it did the trick.
A bolt of compressed energy exploded from the rifle’s barrel, spinning toward the intruder. The alien raised its tentacle-shaped weapon, but to no avail. The being exploded, its innards plastering the wall, floor, ceiling, and the body of the dead crewman. Her nostrils picked up the scent of burning rot. Kristjana took a few steps forward. There were no other boarders waiting around the corner.
The lights went on. Her commbadge chirped to life.
“... Two more on the way.” Came the canned voice of Lieutenant Mason. She tapped the badge.
“Mason, this is Grimsdottir. I’ve made it to the brig. Two casualties that I’ve seen, one of them ours. Where are you?”
“Deck eight, section ten. We’ve gotten a perimeter set up, but we have more groups of intruders incoming.”
“How many are there?” Kristjana’s question was only partially rhetorical.
“I’m not sure, but they’re armed to the teeth.”
She was reminded of the weight of the Fella held under her arm. Kristjana moved to the doors of the brig. Cortez was out of his cell. He spun around in bewilderment.
“Lieutenant!” Cortez held his hands up in surrender.
“Is that Cortez?”
“Stand by, Mason,” Kristjana tapped her badge, disconnecting herself from Mason. She kept the Fella pointed in Cortez’ direction.
“Crewman,” Kristjana made her displeasure known. “We’re being boarded, so I hope I’m only hallucinating you effecting an escape, yes?”
Cortez stared nervously at the rifle before looking Kristjana in the eye with sudden confidence.
“Yes ma’am,” he said. Kristjana couldn’t tell if he was taking a tone. “That’s exactly what happened.”
Kristjana had reached her point of no return. She flicked the light off the top of the Fella, and dropped the rifle at his feet.
“Good,” she said. “Now load up. We’ve got work to do.”