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An Inside Job

Posted on Oct 30, 2017 @ 9:11pm by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Oct 30, 2017 @ 9:12pm

Mission: Fear Itself

“An Inside Job”
(Continued from “Invisible Killer on the Loose”)


SD: [2.17]1029.1330
Scene: Near Main Engineering

Lieutenant Dalziel made her way down the corridor with purpose, her long stride unhesitant even as her mind wandered. The brief formation of the distortion field and subsequent Red Alert had jarred her many hours ago, as she was about to sleep off the effects of the party in the Vulgar Tribble. Now, the murders of Sofia Andersson and Arak Schad had shaken her to the core. That, the necessary quarantine, and the mere fraction of the crew complement aboard, gave the flagship an isolated, eerie feel.

She’d looked at Security reports and Medical reports and vids of the crime scenes and was convinced that it wasn’t a physical person who was responsible for the deaths of four people. *Four that we know of,* she thought pessimistically. If it was a person, it was one for whom the known laws of physics did not apply. Eve preferred the term ‘entity’, but it didn’t matter. All that mattered was how to stop the killings and destroy or neutralize the threat.

“Eve? What are you doing here?” It was the Chief of Security, snapping the Cns out of her introspection.

“I need to talk to Von. He’s had some kind of contact with the box and isn’t dead, and I’d like to try and figure out why.” She had already spoken to Chaucer, but what he was able to convey to her was limited.

Jasmine confirmed what the ship’s computer had told Eve about the Betazoid’s whereabouts. “He’s working with Malin-Argo on trying to trace our ‘visitor’.”

“The entity did have some kind of energy signature- that’s a great idea,” Dalziel remarked.

“The entity?”

Eve’s gray eyes looked troubled. “That’s what I’ve been calling it. I know it’s killed people, but calling it a killer feels profoundly lacking.”

“If it *is* life, it is not life as we know it.” It was another sobering thought in a day that had already been filled with many.


Scene: Main Engineering

The Grazerite huffed at the intrusion- the second one in a span of less than ten minutes. “Am I to understand that Lieutenant Von is the only person aboard the ship who is capable of assisting you, *Counsellor*?”

Eve tapped her foot. “Yes, Commander. It should only take a few minutes. I understand the urgency of your work and would not be here unless I felt it was of utmost importance that I speak with Mister Von.” Apparently diplomacy *was* useful outside of Romulan space.

Malin-Argo’s animalistic face still looked displeased, but he relented and grunted, his attention never wavering from the calculations they had started working on. “Very well.”

Cantor Von and Eve stepped just outside, in order to provide the prickly Chief with privacy. “Thanks,” she said.

“Sure, what did you need.” Von stood there, a little lean for his height, but still muscular. His facial expression was neutral.

“It’s about the music box. Can you describe what happened? Not the physical side, but the emotional side?”

Flickers of the void raced through his mind. “It was... intense.”

“Did you feel like you were in danger?” It was an inadequate question, but the most direct one she could think of.

His psyche let him remember that was hunkered down on the cold onyx floor, wind taking his breath away before he could scream. He shuddered internally. “It was very unpleasant. I felt like I was somewhere else, no, I *was* somewhere else. Someplace unknown, but a real place. A place of unease.”

“Do you think you could have died?”

He has been twisting in pain on the vitreous, hard surface. Death would have been a relief, a release from the agony. Faint red lights shone on the edges of his rationality as they slipped away from him. “Von?”

He cleared his throat, his inky eyes seeming to bore into her as he focused on the present. “Yes. I could have.” Von sensed where Eve was headed with this and continued. “And no, I’m not sure why I survived. Physiology, strength of will? Perhaps the fact that Chaucer was there.”

Eve nodded as they continued to talk. Maybe it had been a combination of all three.


Scene: Sickbay

After Von had shared as much information as he knew, Lieutenant Dalziel had wished him and the Grazerite Engineer luck with their search for the perpetrator, and went on to her next destination. While they were busy trying to find what was killing their people, she wanted to see if there was anything that could be done to make the rest of them appear less like potential victims.

“Aerdan?” Eve called out once she crossed the threshold.

“In my office,” he called back. As she went to meet him, she noticed the two sheet draped bodies in the far corner of the room, each under the glow of a protective barrier. There was no escaping the loss.

Dalziel found the CMO surrounded by PADDs and an active console, a glass of Fridd to one side, thawed just enough to take a sip. He looked tired and stern, two traits that usually didn’t describe the highly skilled surgeon. “How are you?” she softly asked, sitting across from him.

“Angry,” he finally said. The murders had reminded him of their mission on LAVENZA II. Sam Perry had been sacrificed by Doctor Saul Conniston, her genetic material funnelled into the creation of another Thomas Varn, a man who had been dead for months. Aerdan had lost his taste for away teams after that, and perhaps if he was honest, it might have been a sign that the Executive Officer position wasn’t the best fit. Still, he would change nothing. The journey and its variables were infinite. Uzaveh’s will be done.

“You’re not alone,” she offered in consolation.

“But Sofia and Arak were when they died,” Jos replied, clearly frustrated. “In their last moments, they were not provided comfort.”

“That wasn’t anyone’s fault. It certainly wasn’t your fault.”

Aerdan drank his tea. “Medics tend to take responsibility… something to do with the Hippocratic Oath.”

“We all take pledges. But the rules of the game aren’t fair.”

He let the glass rest in his hands, the condensation from the cup chilling them. “Exactly. An unknown quantity we can’t see or touch is taking lives. Give me a body all day any day, and I can remove the disease or repair the wounds. But there’s nothing concrete in this case. I prefer to work with the facts.”

“As do I,” Eve said succinctly. “And whatever this thing is, it feeds on the strongest of our weakest emotions. It thrives on our shortcomings. It transmutes our deepest fears into the catalyst for death. And it’s not going to stop just because we want it to.”

“I know that,” the Doctor said with intent, his antennae curved inward. “Who knows how long that blasted box has been its keeper? Or how to close the connection it has with our world?”

“The CEO is working on that, along with Lieutenant Von. But I had an idea. What if we inoculate ourselves?”

“This isn’t a virus or a bacterium, Eve. It’s an unspeakable evil.”

“But there is a physical symptom. One present in all our victims. The chemicals that signal distress. They were all off the charts by something like four times the amount, right?”

Aerdan pulled up a visual on his console. “Yes, the neurotransmitters were triggered in some way to cause a massive release which resulted in myocardial infarction.”

“Is there any way we can, I don’t know, *medicate* the crew proactively, to prevent the response when faced with the attack?”

Aerdan shook his head no, pointing at some of the data. “Suppressing these chemicals in their normal state would cause coma or death in most species.”

Eve stood up and leaned in to take a look, her almost black hair falling over one shoulder. “What about bringing the levels down in their *heightened* state? Can you develop a personal hypospray to be used by the patient only when they begin to have the experience?”

His antennae moved forward in guarded interest. “That’s a really big ‘what if’ scenario, Eve. If the victims could control their actions, they would have been able to escape their mental torture in the first place.”

“It’s better than sitting here waiting to die, isn’t it?” she said, trying to make a point. But she also understood her idea was, at this point, not backed by scientific method. “I have a theory about Budo Pumbular,” Eve admitted, slinking back into her seat.

“The intergalactic trader, the first victim.”

“Yeah. He vented the ship, presumably killing everyone else.”

“He was likely utterly mad.”

“I don’t know that he was. What if, in his last moments of clarity, he spared them a death like his own, by forcing them into the vacuum of space?”

“A mercy killing,” Aerdan said, even more disquieted.

“It’s an honorable gesture, but we need to do better. Because even though Pumbular was sure, I’m don’t believe the coldness of the galaxy is enough to stop this thing.”

Marko: Thanks and Tag!!

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for

Lieutenant Eve Dalziel


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