A fight began to break out in the mess hall. Several Klingons and a Nausicaan bodyguard began insulting each other, before escalating to insulting each other’s mothers. Restless, Ixlain had to stifle the urge to intervene due to her Ferengi employers quietly making suggestions to “see how this turns out.”
Sal Vaxx, ever the engineer, arrived at her intended destination and began to study the problem: Why are the turbolift doors not functioning correctly? Opening up his tool kit, Vaxx pulled out an engineering tricorder and began to study the problem at hand. It didn’t take long for him to ascertain the cause for the fault – sabotage! Vaxx, unable to call security via the communicators, which were non-functional for some strange reason, became to make for the nearby security station.
In the mess hall, a fight began to break out in earnest. Ixlain, urged on by Jahus the doctor, joined the fray attempting to put a stop to things before they became serious right up to the point that she had to defend herself against not just one, but two opponents. Jahus inquired as to if he call security, but significant protest from the Ferengi, who were insisting that things should be left to play out of their own accord, convinced him otherwise. Ever the doctor though, Jahus elected to leave to prepare for the expected medical injuries.
Captain Thaddeus supervised the boarding of the new crewmembers and passengers, handing off the Ferengi to members of their delegation who had come to meet them, and elected to escort the crew to see the various duty stations on board the Miranda. With Ensign Radda in tow, his first stop was Main Engineering, where he introduced Radda to the staff there as Radda was to begin his first shift rotations in that department. Lieutenant Victor noted to the Captain that there were several concerning and ongoing computer glitches taking place, and during discussion with the Captain had Radda proceed to see if he couldn’t diagnose the problem in the ship’s computer.
Meanwhile on the bridge, Larian noted a report from the science officer Amon Kol that there were some unusual cascading computer errors coming up, at the same time as he noted the Ferengi vessel warping in earlier was now located on the opposite side of the system sun and that he was picking up an increase in coronal sunspot activity. Seeing the reports coming in, Larian had a disturbing sense that she had seen this before somehow. “Hail them,” was the command given. The Ferengi ship gave no response.
In the mess hall, while the brawl was underway, Ragnaar observed passively as the hall’s doors opened and closed, but with no sign of anyone actually coming through. With his keen sense of hearing however, he distinctly heard the sounds of soft footsteps getting louder and moving into the far dark corner of the room. Getting up from his position, Ragnaar likewise moved into a dark corner and attempted to blend in. He had a strong sense of something unusual taking place. Straining into the dark, Ragnaar noted that he could faintly see a dark-skinned man in black holding a clipboard watching the room. Strangely enough, under the man’s clothes, there were what appeared to be armour plates or padding. The odd man turned to observe Ragnaar and widened his eyes when he realized Ragnaar was aware of his presence.
The man in black began to stride back towards the mess hall doors, and as he moved out of the dark corner, Ragnaar lost sight of the man’s visage, though the footsteps could still be heard. Following a hunch, Ragnaar departed his own darkened corner and made to follow the ghost man, only to find when he entered the corridor both man and footstep sounds were gone. In their place, Ragnaar looked down as he smelled burning insulation coming from behind a bulkhead and warily stepped back.
In the sickbay, Jahus conversed with the ship’s doctor regarding the expected incoming casualties about to come from the mess hall until the sickbay doors opened and several crewmembers walked into the room with open red blistering lesions on their arms and faces. Both doctors set to work, trying to figure out what was going on, as the crewmen reported being hit by some kind of invisible wave that staggered them before they broke out into lesions. They noted that they attempted to call the bridge, but the communicators were not working.
While the doctors were examining their consoles, the sickbay doors opened again to admit another Orion. Jahus narrowed his eyes – he was quite adept at telling who was involved with the Syndicate. A short verbal exchanged occurred, during which the Orion hinted that Jahus might want to make himself scarce before turning and exiting the room. As the Orion left, a smooth small metal cylinder dropped out of his pocket and rolled on the floor. Long used to Syndicate tactics, Jahus leaped at the ship’s doctor and dragged him over and behind the heavy office desk, fearful that the cylinder was a grenade, but no blast came.
Down in main engineering, Radda worked diligently at his console to ascertain the cause of the computer faults. He furrowed his brow mere minutes later as he correlated his data from the systems analysis and realized that several unauthorized access attempts were made against the system protocols before someone successfully managed to penetrate the system. Reaching up to tap his communicator, he like so many others, came to the conclusion that the communicators were offline. Alerting Lieutenant Victor, a runner was dispatched to the bridge.
In the mess hall, Ixlain, having taken several hard hits, gave up on attempting to stop the fight and backed out as the Nausicaans and Klingons tore into each other while the mess Chef observed passively and did not call security. Ixlain became quite suspicious as she observed the previously nervous Ferengi delegation get up to leave, and began to follow them. They knew something, and that something could be dangerous.
On the bridge, science officer Kol reported to Larian that a coronal mass ejection was occurring, and the ejection was expected to intersect the path of the Miranda. “Helm, get us out of the way.” Larian was not pleased to hear in that moment the report that came next, “Ma’am, we’ve lost engines! I’m getting a massive cascading systems failure!”
“Shields up. Do we have any means of propulsion?”
“Only the warp drive.”
Ixlain just stepped into the corridor to see the Ferengi running away. As she began to run after them, the last Ferengi in the delegation turned, saw her coming, panicked and drew a secretly hidden disruptor from his robe and started to line up his shot. Ixlain didn’t wait, she threw herself at the Ferengi and knocked the weapon out of his hand before staggering the squealing scumbag to the ground and leaping to seize the illicit weapon. All at once seeing that he was outmatched, the panicking Ferengi began yelling, “Don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me! I’m only following orders! I was paid to do it!” Ixlain grabbed the pleading Ferengi by the ear, and started dragging him to the nearest available room – the Klingon ambassador’s unoccupied quarters.
Sal Vaxx came to a sudden halt at the site of the carnage in front of him: The remains of what had once been a security officer and security station. What she could observe now was what appeared to be an officer’s body minus a head. Most disturbing to say the least and communications were still down!
Recovering from their leap behind the doctor’s desk, the two physicians looked up to hear a beep coming from the nearby console. Jahus paled as he noted the cause for the crewmembers’ lesions and the flashing indicators of an engineered biomechanical pathogen. Turning to face his counterpart, Jahus grimly stated, “We had better get suited up and start isolation.” Just as the ship’s doctor was about to reply, the yellow alert klaxons began to sound. The ship had raised shields.
Ragnaar sniffed as he stood in the corridor, noting the increasingly strong smell of burning insulation. He did not waste further time. Dropping down on all fours, he began sprinting for the nearest security station. Someone had to be alerted. Ragnaar came skidding to a halt at the security desk, only to see and smell the remains of what had once been two security officers, and the distinct odour of Ferengi having just arrived and left. Growling, he set out in pursuit of the Ferengi’s scent trail.
The ship rocked as the shields were hit by the coronal wave just as Captain Thaddeus walked through the door, “Report!” Larian hurriedly noted the preceding events right before the science officer called out again, “We have another wave incoming!” The First Officer chilled inside as she felt an uncomfortable sensation, “This is what we did last time. All non-essential staff to evacuation stations!” The Captain snarled, “Warp us out of here.”
Ixlain dragged the Ferengi through the ambassador’s doors, fully intending to interrogate the whining idiot, only to see another Ferengi rooting through the ambassador’s belongings. She raised her disruptor and levelled it at the new interloper, just as the call to evacuation stations rang out over the intercom. Gritting her teeth in frustration, she motioned for the would-be thief or spy to make for the room exit. If she couldn’t interrogate them now, at least she would see them off of the ship to pick up later. A moment of fear struck her not a half-minute later as she realized the escape pods along the side of the ship were non-functional. That meant only the escape pods in the shuttlebay were left.
Rolling around on the floor, desperately trying to get his completely self-contained isolation suit on, Jahus just finished activating the breathing apparatus when the evacuation alert sounded, “Oh isn’t this just great!”
The noise on the bridge grew louder as more and more frantic reports started coming in. “We have a cascading systems failure. I’ve lost life support. Shields are down!”
“I’ve lost helm control, and we are going into warp unguided!”
The Captain quickly ordered, “Drop us out of warp, dump the core and warp plasma if you have to.”
“No good, I can’t get access to those systems. We are vectoring into the star’s gravitational well. Slingshot trajectory in progress! The warp field is folding in on itself!”
“We are breaching the warp 9 asymptotic curve!”
“Captain, the ship it tearing itself apart! Hull breaches are occurring throughout the ship!”
Just as the Captain was about to respond, power breaches erupted through the EPS conduits, blowing out consoles across the ship and showering the bridge in sparks. The Captain gasped out, “Abandon ship! All hands, abandon ship!”
A terrible tearing feeling began to affect those on board as the viewscreen turned bright white. A sensation of being in all places, in all points of history, in all possible universes rendered everything still for a split moment. Memories of things that never happened, that did happen, or could possibly happen flashed before everyone’s eyes, yet just as quickly as they came, those images vanished, and for a moment all was still.
“Report!” There was a moment of silence, as a great roaring sound and fierce vibration began to penetrate the awareness of all present, “I said report!”
A hesitant voice rang out, “Sir, we are inside the star. Prophets help us, we are inside the star! We are inside the star, and we cannot move!”
Shepherding his isolation-suited charges to the shuttlebay for the evacuation order, Jahus sensed the prickly feeling in his skin and the burning sensation in his face and eerily recognized the fact that he was being dosed with high levels of radiation. He had to get out of here!
“Sensors indicate the hull is melting, 30,000 degrees and rising! Escape pods are unresponsive!”
“Get everyone to the shuttlebays. The pods there should still be intact.”
Throughout the ship, throngs of people streamed from rooms and into corridors and gravity-less turbolift shafts, all heading to the shuttlebay. Once in the shuttlebay, it became frightfully obvious that not everyone was going to be able to fit inside the few escape pods and shuttles available. Ragnaar was one of the first to arrive, having followed the trail of the Ferengi from the security station above and realized that the Ferengi responsible for the murder of the security officer had filled one of the only available escape pods. Enraged at the thought that these scum might make it off the ship alive, Ragnaar roared and went berserk, punching, slugging, and throwing the errant Ferengi off of the escape pod, even as panicked mobs of people tried to claim spaces aboard the escape craft. Several moments later, with the last Ferengi off of the escape pod, Ragnaar looked out to see people milling around panicked as for several of the other escape pods force fields had come up as they were full and no others were able to board. Ferengi were screaming offers of latinum for a free seat, not realizing that whoever they paid would die anyway and would never get to use their gain.
A moment later, Ragnaar had an odd realization, that despite the fact that no force fields were up for his escape pod and the door was wide open, no one was trying to board his pod. A split second later, this was rectified as first Radda, then a suited Jahus, a scowling Ixlain, a somewhat panicked Sal Vaxx, and a determined Lt. Cmdr Larian boarded the craft, followed shortly by several other crewmembers who took the rear positions of the escape vehicle. As Larian boarded, Ragnaar puzzled as he heard her say, “Ah, last remaining shuttle. Made it.” As Ragnaar looked out the window, he could see all of the other escape craft still in their berths with people clamouring around them, yet it was as if none of them could see the pod he was sitting in; as if the craft did not exist. Just as Larian took the controls and powered up the pod, sealing the door, Ragnaar suddenly spotted the man in black standing outside calmly holding his clipboard, and nodding to himself before turning and walking away, disappearing as he went. Confused, Ragnaar braced himself as Larian yelled out, “Brace yourself,” and slammed the ejection button.