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Ducks In A Row

Posted on Dec 06, 2018 @ 1:49am by Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Dec 06, 2018 @ 1:50am

Mission: The Uncertainty Principle

"Ducks in a row"

(cont. "solving the puzzle")

* * *=(/\)=* * *

Stardate: 2.18.1202.2014
Scene: Engineering

“I’m goin’ with Ensign Elgin,” Kassandra said in a no nonsense voice, daring Eve and those standing around them to try to argue with her. “Anyone who don’t like that can go suck eggs. No one? Good. Tell her t’ meet me here when she’s ready.”

“Go suck eggs?” Eve asked her dryly. “That’s a new one.”

“It’s an old one,” Kass corrected her. “So… I was expectin’ you ta tell me that you didn’t think I should be the one to escort Asta. Was expectin’ ya to tell me that I’d be too emotionally involved, an’ that I should let someone else accompany her.”

“Uh huh, I know they only Marine you’d trust to take care of her is Horatio, and I also know that man is not going to fit comfortably in a Jeffries tube,” Eve said lightly, before her face became more serious. “But you need to follow your instincts, and those visions, no matter what, even if you think it might endanger Asta. She knows the dangers, and it’s her choice to put her life on the line, not yours.”

“I know that,” Kassandra said, knowing it sounded a little petulant. “I ain’t ever coddled her, she’d be the first one to tell ya that.”

“And I’ll be the first to tell you that all the tough love in the world won’t take away instinct when your child is in danger. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that your first duty has to be to the ship, because with what’s happening now, there’s unlikely to be a scenario where you can save her that doesn’t end with everyone dying. Remember that Lysander’s life also hangs in the balance too.”

“Eve, every time ya lull me inta thinkin’ you’re the hugs an’ moonbeams you come out with somethin’ that makes me realize you’re capable of bein’ cold as ice,” Kassandra found herself chuckling despite herself. Her sensor nets caught Eve’s facial muscles twitching, and an increase of blood flow to the cheeks. “That’s a compliment, honest! An’ I appreciate someone tryin’ ta keep me down to earth. I promise ya, I’ll keep a level head. Now, I better get on the horn an’ get the rest of the Marines rollin’ out.”
* * *=/\=* * *

Scene: Marine Barracks

“Gunny, I’ve got the Boss on the horn,” Sergeant Enrique Salazar’s smooth, honey-sweet baritone cut across the chatter of the barracks. The Marines had been gearing up, ready to put boots to deck plates since just after comms went down, and the ship had given a sickening lurch. With his typical restraint, Horatio had refrained from jumping into action prematurely, assuming that Kassandra would find a way to get to them no matter what, and that deploying the Marines would possibly interfere with repairs, but even he, normally the paragon of patience, had been getting antsy.

The huge man hauled himself to his feet, nodding at Stacy Flannigan, indicating that she should join them. If Kassandra was going through Enrique, it meant that something big was going down, and she expected there to be several moving parts. Enrique’s job was to act as a switchboard, making sure that all relevant information was dispensed to those who needed it, and only those who needed it, so that everyone wouldn’t be subjected to a never-ending stream of comms chatter.

“Major, I’ve got the Gunny and Lance Corporal Flannigan here,” Enrique said into his comms array.

[[Perfect. Harry, ship’s real bad here we’ve got fire on a few of the decks, with people needin’ medical attention, I’ve told Yu we’re gonna coordinate with her forces, seein’ as we’ve got fancier equipment than they do. I assume you got people suited up?]]

“For the last 45. Will I put Sergeant McQueen’s group and Corpsman O’Keefe in touch with Lieutenant Yu to do rescue and fire control?”

[[It’s like you read my mind… Listen, there’s somethin’ else too- Apparently we’ve got some intruders…]]

“So discreetly get Raskin to send her folks in teams to watchdog critical systems?” He’d worked with her long enough to know exactly where her mind was going. When they first got on the ship, he and she had sat down and figured out which systems and areas were critical from a security and safety standpoint, and made sure every Marine knew how to get there in the least amount of time.

[[Exactly. And send Stacy to the bridge. If there’s bogies roaming the ship then we’ll need to make sure someone has eyes on the Captain.]]

“He’s not going to be happy, you know. You’re the only Marine he tolerates…” The Captain had always treated Horatio with courtesy, but Horatio could always tell that the man though he was little more than a blunt instrument- all brawn and no brains, and like he was expecting Horatio to challenge him at any moment in some pointless masculine dominance display.

[[Harry…]] Kassandra’s voice was very dry, and he could envision the smirk on her face. [[EVERYONE tolerates Stacy.]]

She had him there. His bubbly assistant/supply officer had a natural charm that turned most people into putty in her capable hands. Especially those with a persuasion towards the female.

“Right. Stacy to the bridge then. What about the rest of us?”

[[Stay on alert- oh uh, and if y’all have any visions of the future, let me know, okay?]]


Scene: Somewhere, sometime

“Hold your fire!” Kane ordered, his hand held out above, but not quite touching, the business end of Kass’s rifle.

Kass wasn’t sure where she was. She thought she’d been standing in Main Engineering, talking with someone… Eve? No, Bellecotte. That sounded right. But what had they been talking about?

The idea was distant, so distant that it nearly slipped away altogether as she began to process more information about her current surroundings. Only some deep-seated instinct sent her subconscious lunging after the thought as it drifted away, recognizing that somehow it was of great importance.

Meanwhile, her conscious mind began to take in the situation before here.

She was standing in a corridor. She wasn’t sure where, but it looked like Deck 1. Alarm klaxons burred loudly around her, and through her sensor nets she could perceive the rhythmic flashing of red alert lights along the lighting fixtures that line the corridor. She thought she could smell smoke, and a hint of something else, a sickly-sweet smell that her experience in combat told her was almost certainly the stink of cooking flesh. It was seemed faint, but fresh, and she could imagine whatever unfortunate soul that was the source that stink was behind her somewhere, still burning.

Her rifle was raised, socked tightly against one shoulder, and her finger hovered dangerously close to the trigger. Ahead of her, just under two meters away, was… something. A shape, vaguely humanoid, but looking as if someone had come along and smeared away all its edges. There were no features she could make out; her sensor nets could make out no musculature, no blood vessels, no signs of circulation or respiration (**Eve...** she thought distantly, and again her subconscious mind lunged at this thought, **Hugs and moonbeams…**). Yet in spite of this, she had the definite sense that whatever it was she was seeing was alive. Alive, and watching her.

Next came a sensation that seemed both peculiar and strangely familiar. Kass felt her mouth open, though she was certain she had not opened it herself, and an instant later she heard a voice - *her* voice - coming out of it.

“Captain, these things have attacked the ship,” Kass’s voice said. “They killed Crichton. For all we know--”

“For all we know,” Kane interrupted, not moving his hand nor taking his eyes of the apparition standing before them, “Jake’s death was an accident. They’re in the same situation we’re in.”

“But we’re not the ones standing on *their* ship,” Kass’s voice said, and inside Kass found herself agreeing with the sentiment. Underneath all that, her subconscious mind continued to work frantically. What was this? Why did it seem so familiar? Why did she keep thinking about Main Engineering, about Harry Bellecotte, about hugs and moonbeams?

**You’re not supposed to be here,** came a voice from deep inside her mind. The thought made no sense, so Kass pushed it aside. *Of course* she was supposed to be here. She was with the Captain, standing between him and an unknown entity, possibly one that meant to do them harm. Where else would she be?

**Not yet,** came that interior voice again, and this time Kass found she could not push it aside so easily.

Next to her, Kane stepped forward. “Can you understand me? Are you… aware of our presence?”

The figure before them seemed to gesture. To Kass, it looked like it was holding something out… a weapon, perhaps?

“Sir,” Kass’s voice warned, but Kane paid it no heed. He took a step forward, mirroring the the figure’s gesture. “That could be a weapon.”

“I said hold your fire,” Kane said, not looking back at her but still managing to thread a streak of urgency into his voice. Kass felt herself frown, but she relaxed her trigger-finger.

The figure did not seem to notice. An instant later, it vanished, leaving no trace behind that it had ever been there at all. Kane and Kass both stood there, not sure of what to make of what they had seen. Then, the ship seemed to lurch violently underneath them. Kass and Kane both lost their footing, falling to the deck.

The wall paneling on their left side burst off the wall suddenly, narrowly missing them as they fell. It was accompanied by the high-pitched sound of tearing durasteel, as something Kass couldn’t quite see seemed to burst forth from the very walls of the ship. It was big, big enough that it seemed almost the shear the entire corridor in two, as if someone had passed some kind of superheated knife neatly through the PHOENIX’s bulkhead. Her sensor nets were going haywire, but she had the impression that whatever it was wasn’t strictly visible to the human eye, that its edges would be blurred like the figure they had seen, that perhaps the only real indication that it was there at all was the horrific damage it left behind as it ripped its way through the ship.

She should have been panicking. She *was* panicking, she guessed, but only on top. Underneath, from that low place in her mind where those strange thoughts had bubbled up from only a few moments before, she felt calm and collected.

**Not yet,** came the thought again.

“They were activating a control!” Kane was shouting next to her. She didn’t seem to have enough information to put his word into context, but the way he had grabbed her shoulders, the way he yelled it again and again, almost directly into her face, made her realize that the Captain thought this observation to be very important. “It wasn’t a weapon, they were activating--”

His words began to fade, as did the world around her. Just before everything dissolved into white, Kass remembered.

**Not yet,** she thought again, and then was gone.


Scene: Engineering

“Awh, numbnuts.”

[[What?]] Bellecotte’s voice was a raised eyebrow.

“Dammit all to hell. Change in plans. Send Stacy here to escort Ensign Elgin. I’ve gotta talk to the Captain. Thytos out.” Kassandra tapped her communicator, paused a second, then tapped it again. “Major Thytos to Captain Kane.”

[[Yes, Major?]] The Captain’s voice had the tight clipped notes of someone with just about as much on his plate as he could manage.

“Had a vision,” Kassandra said shortly. Beating around the bush was a surefire way to annoy him.


“Well, first things first, I think it may be better if you move everyone to the secondary bridge and clear Deck 1. Not sure what’s gonna happen, nor when, but it smelled like a barbeque, an’ not in a good way, if you get my drift. Second, we’re gonna get smashed by an alien vessel, sometime after.” Kassandra ticked her thoughts off on her fingers.

[[And?]] This time Kane sounded impatient.

“And just before that, you and I are walkin’ down a corridor on Deck 1, and we see some of the aliens, and they’re trying to trigger some sort of device, maybe to try and stop the ships from collidin’,” Kassandra explained. “Now, would I be right in assumin’ that if we coordinate our efforts with theirs, we’re more likely to be successful?”

[[Possibly.]] The Irishman no longer sounded impatient.

“Well, way I see it is that the future I saw only happens one of two ways. Either somethin’ happens to make you an’ I go up t’ Deck 1, *or* we’re there on purpose. Way I see it, if you an’ I just avoid goin’ t’ Deck 1 until we’re ready t’ try whatever it is you n’ the brain squad have planned, then we can go ahead up to Deck 1, I’ll tell ya when it looks familiar, an then when we see the aliens, we tell the brain trust to do their thing. Or, at least, I think that’s what’ll happen. I mean, I’m honestly real confused by these time paradoxes- I mean, me even tellin’ you, that’s pretty much guaranteed that it won’t happen the way I saw it, right? So now, theoretically even if we ‘do nothing’ us knowin’ about it is enough to mean it won’t happen, and if I tell ya to get people out of the way, then maybe it doesn’t even happen at all and-”


“Sorry, I know, I’m ramblin’, I jus’ really hate temporal mechanics. Makes my brain feel like an overripe plum. Anyway, I think the aliens will still try whatever it was they were doin’ as, uh, I think they knew I was there, sir.”

[[Is that so odd? I’d imagine since they know about our ship, and since we’re able to see them-]]

“No, I mean, they were able to see me, watchin’ me an’ you. Like, they knew that past- or is it present me- was in the future watching future me… Aaargh, see? Headaches!” Kassandra smacked her temple in frustration. People like Crowe and Doctor Eden loved this crap, these wheels within wheels of philosophy, but her? Just point her to whatever needed a beatdown and let her at it. “Anyway, they could talk to me. I dunno if they could hear me.”

[[Now *that* is very useful information. If we can communicate out intent to the aliens- Alright Major. I’m in sickbay right now, make your way up, I imagine you likely need some patching up anyway.]]

“An’ you need a guard anyway, what with uninvited aliens possibly roamin’ around. See you up there.”


NRPG: Sorry this took so long! I broke my finger two weeks ago before I had a chance to work on this. Feeling better now, but takes forever to type! (Also, if there are any typos, it's totally because of that. ::shifty eyes::)

Alix Fowler
Kassandra Thytos


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