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The Core of the Matter

The Core of the Matter
USS Missouri 


Despite USS Missouri's advanced technology, her secondary fighter bay's atmospheric scrubbing system struggled to keep up with airborne particles.  As teams slowly re-assembled the remains of the Alien Alliance stealth ship, the crew began to sneeze, cough, and lose their balance… which isn’t exactly the best thing to do when you’re standing on a fragmented ship’s hull with a razor sharp piece of the hull in your hand.

As per protocol, the medical team examined all personnel who had been in the bay.  After filling them with antibiotics, they were placed in quarantine.   Medical personnel hunted down the culprit and adjusted the scrubbers to deal with the allergen.  They scrubbed down unaffected personnel and slipped them into environmental suits, complete with sealed helmets and re-breathers.  And wasn’t that fun to work in.



As he searched through the wreckage, Lt Bill McGrene adjusted his helmet and began to lift a sizable piece of the ship's exterior hull.  “Damn,” he muttered, checking out the section. “Looks like a piece of cockpit. Maybe a piece of the bridge?”  He sighed, checked it over thoroughly, then finally hollered, “Kazaski, get over here! I need a hand!”

The ensign pressed his helmet com to reply, “Comin’ atcha, sir.”  Then he began to weave among the pieces toward the lieutenant.

“Grab the other side, Kaz.  Watch your suit and your six so your suit doesn’t tear.  Heft that side over,” McGrene continued, giving Kazaski room for a healthy heave.  “Be careful ‘cause there’s something under…” 

A loud crash echoed through the bay, catching everyone’s attention as the exterior hull flipped off, bounced a few times, and came to a clanging halt. Pausing to catch a breath, McGrene turned toward what should be the ship’s interior.

“Figures,” he muttered, pointing to the next layer.  “Catch a breath, Kaz.  I have no idea how many layers are under here.  Ask me and I’d say the Alien Alliance is playing games, and somewhere in the great beyond they’re sittin’ at a bar downing a cold one and having a great laugh.”  Another deep sigh, and he turned to the ensign.  “Ready for the next one, Kaz?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be, sir.”

“Good enough.  Check your breather, take an extra breath, and let’s go.”

Beneath the exterior was another layer, and under that another one before an interior cabin appeared, loaded with….

They froze, staring at the interior’s contents.

A whispered, “Damn.  Tell me I’m not seein’ what I’m seein’, Kaz.”

Swallowing hard, Kazaski replied, “Wish I could, sir.  Call medical?”

“Yeah.  Get ‘em here fast,” he whispered to Kaz, then shouted, “The rest of you, get back to work.  You did not see this!  Got it?”

A chorus of “aye, aye, sir,” came through the communication system.  Bill stared at the opening, wishing he’d never seen it, and praying he’d never see it again.

*   *   *   *   *  *   *

Captain d’Ka stood behind the medical complex window toward the corporeal remains that had been pulled from the wreckage.  CMO Mason Mckindley and Chief Engineer Adira Hynson stood beside him, watching several personnel in protective clothing carefully remove several small bodies from a cage.

“Doctor, how long had they been in the ship?” asked d’Ka soberly, his eyes flashing red with anger. 

“Difficult to tell, Captain,” he replied.  “Given their present condition, I can say that they’ve been dead for some time.  Probably frozen until they were needed.”

D’ka forcefully sighed into a nod.  “Species?”

“Slightly similar to the gremlins on Aegis, but only slightly.  At first chance, we’ll process their DNA to pin down the species.”

After due consideration, D’ka turned toward Chief Engineer Hynson and pointed toward a small metal box on the opposite table.  “The box, Commander?  Any idea why that would accompany the cage?”

“No Captain,” she replied.  “As soon as Dr Mckindley has scanned the box thoroughly to make sure it’s not contaminated, he’ll pass it on to us for examination.”

“And your best guess?”

“A control mechanism, Captain.  One explicitly aimed at Aegis.”

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