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Times One Thousand

Times One Thousand

 In engineering. Everything going wrong around me. Alarms going off. Nothing I did was making any difference.  It was like the glitches times one thousand.
~Scott Coleridge

Captain Chirakis arrived in CnC well before the change of watch, after her daily bout with Lt Klaxon in the security complex training room. Having been given orders to ignore her rank and fight to kill, the lieutenant had become quite an opponent and had  mastered skills that could have easily ended her life. But this morning?
His steps were uneven, his movements awkward, and his attacks slow.  He was disoriented and often unable to focus.  Kirel grabbed his shoulders, but he seemed to be in another world. 
No response.
She gave him a firm shake.  “Klaxon!  Respond!”  His eyes glazed over.  A trainer on the adjacent mat took firm hold just before Klaxon fainted.  He called for assistance and beamed him to medical.  Extreme fatigue had overtaken him, as it had many on Aegis.
An hour later, the Officer of the Watch turned to the sound of the command lift.  “Good morning, Captain,” he said on approach. “Situation normal.”
“No ‘AFU’ this morning?”  She asked, referring to SNAFU with a wry grin.  Her glance swept the area: a ritual honed from SI-5 days, but still pertinent for any entry as far as she was concerned.
“No ‘AFU’ this morning, ma’am.  Coffee?”
“Coffee?” she said sternly.
“Decaffeinated, ma’am. It’s supposed to have everything… uh… all the bad stuff removed, ma’am.”
Having just dealt with Klaxon, she didn’t trust anything remotely connected with coffee—at least until science and medical verified its use.  “Remove the coffee, Lieutenant,” she said quietly, but firmly.  “Remove everything even remotely connected to coffee, caffeine, or otherwise until Dr Pavilion pronounces it harmless. Understood?”
“Yes, Captain.”
After a curt nod she entered her office.  Admiral Mullins of Federation Security would soon appear onscreen.  In ordinary times they had reported weekly, but these were not ordinary times.  Their weekly reports were now daily, encryption was beyond the norm, and security protocol was engaged in her office.
Kirel’s desk viewscreen soon came alive with the image of Admiral Mullins.  He seemed weary, as though he’d been awake all night, and a man of his age certainly did not need to.  It triggered an alarm, like waiting for the next shoe to drop. 
“Good morning, Kirel.  You’re early.”
“As are you, Admiral.  Should I ask why, or should I leave well enough alone?”
The admiral’s slight grunt turned into a smirk. “Well enough alone is best.  Report?”
“Yes, Admiral.”  She leaned forward to rest her elbows on the desk and thumb through her tablet.  
“Regarding glitches on station, those have surprisingly disappeared.  However, we are now dealing with ...”  She checked her list.  “... approximately fifty three crew and some families who have extreme fatigue, strange dreams—they call them ‘nightmares’—and hallucinations.  Science and medical are working diligently to diagnose the problem.  
USS Missouri’s work on the Alien Alliance stealth ship is progressing.  They have broken the ship’s code.  Apparently a species similar to our gremlins—small, ignorant, and naive—was convinced to take the ship and breach Aegis’s space, for reasons unknown.  No personnel of the Alien Alliance were aboard.
Missouri also reports that their personnel have fallen ill with symptoms similar to, but not the same as ours. So far, their illness presents itself as an allergic reaction.  Captain d’Ka will give you more information.  That is all I have at the moment, Admiral.”  
As Kirel relaxed in her chair, Admiral Mullins nodded into a dire expression, staring at the viewscreen.  His exhaustion had turned suddenly to grief.  His hands folded, he leaned forward and took a moment to gather his thoughts.
“Thank you, Kirel.”  He paused again, wiping a hand down his face before continuing. “Kirel…. two of our best operatives were taken hostage... and brutally tortured for information.  Knowing these men, I doubt that they revealed anything.  What was left of their bodies was bagged and sent to Starfleet Command with a note from….”  Mullins stopped to stare at her.
“... Ragor Tal.”


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