Original Story By
Guy W. McLimore, Jr. and Greg Poehlein
The Telemachus investigates the mysterious disappearance of the crew of Federation Deepspace Research Station 39.
21 June, 2210
Telemachus is en route to Starbase 12 for routine resupply and refit. Commander Ford, still suffering the after-effects of the asari mind abilities turned upon him, is off duty, having recently underwent surgery to close up some damaged blood vessels in his brain caused by the asari assault. This leaves Lieutenant Commander Prescott in charge.
As Telemachus passes through a fairly empty section of space, a random sensor contact alert occurs, indicating that they are passing at the extreme edge of scanning range for Federation Deepspace Research Facility 39. Per standard procedure, hailing frequencies are opened and audio contact is made, but in mid-sentence, the crewman on FDR-39 that LCDR Prescott is speaking to simply goes quiet. After repeated attempts to re-establish contact fails, Prescott decides that they need to investigate and orders a course set, maximum warp.
En route, the crew gathers what info they can about FDR-39 and Lieutenant Dane grudgingly admits that he previously served on this very station. With that in mind, LCDR Prescott decides that the lieutenant will take point on this op, and if a landing party is necessary, with him will go Ensigns Aceves, Berzinev, Dalis, Mao and Roland.
Upon arrival in-system, they discover a semi-permanent magnetic storm makes sensors difficult. Even if CDR Ford didn’t have a standing order to not use the transporter due to an unfortunate incident years earlier (that evidently included an exploding crewman if LT Laredo can be believed!), the storm and the sensor baffles on the station make shuttlepod entry necessary. While the landing party is away, LCDR Prescott declares his intention to do a full sweep of the system to verify that the sensor ghosts being detected within the storm aren’t actually hostile vessels.
With ENS Mao at the helm of the shuttlepod, the landing party docks at the “bottom” of FDR-39 and gain entrance, discovering to their great surprise that power still appears to be online. There is no sign of the crew, however, although LT Dane reveals the storm makes scanning difficult. Thus, all crewmembers wore specialized comm units that constantly transmitted their locations to the central computer. Some minor information is obtained from the station sensor logs accessed from engineering – a brief power fluctuation transpired approximately five minutes after Patrol Skiff Alpha docked, and since then, there have been no additional system resource requests.
Ascending up the central zero-gee access shaft, the crew climb to the upper deck, pausing only briefly to examine the other decks where they find unsecured comm units. On the main deck, they gain access to the command center where Darzen begins the process of breaking into the computer. The other members of the crew begin spreading out, hoping to discover other clues, but the hiss of a nearby door opening results in Carlos observing a horrific facsimile of a humanoid shape approach. Despite walking upright on two legs, it almost seems to be half-melted, as if it were a humanoid carved of butter and exposed to heat. Four of them lumber forward, moaning and yowling, as they shamble aggressively forward.
ENS Roland quickly realizes that the stun setting appears to have no effect and, when finally dropped, his target melts into a pile of goo. LT Dane faints at the sight and Keung visibly freezes, startled at something he can barely comprehend, but the other officers continue their efforts. A second of the … things is killed – it too melts – and Darzen utilizes some expert martial arts moves to shove a third back into the zero-gee shaft where it flails about helplessly. Carlos and John combine efforts to tip the fourth creature into the shaft where it joins its comrade in a futile struggle. Following the skirmish, Arkady and Darzen compare the tricorder scans they have made – these things have human DNA, but also appear to have other species DNA in their make-up as well!
Satisfied they are all safe, Keung and John move to investigate the Patrol Skiff Alpha, and with Darzen’s aid since he has reclaimed his place in the command center, they enter the hangar bay, immediately noticing some oddities, such as the forward viewport still polarized and the presence of active carbon scoring around the hangar bay. John is quickly able to gain entrance to the skiff, but the two officers leap for cover when someone inside begins opening fire. One Carlos’ suggestion, John tosses one of the comm units they had retrieved inside and calls out his identification. The shooter is revealed to be Chief Petty Officer Delgado, evidently the sole survivor of FDR-39, and the CPO is on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown.
Doctor Berzinev applies, with CPO Delgado’s permission, a mild sedative to calm him down, and the petty officer tells them his tale: he had just entered Skiff Alpha to conduct hull polarization maintenance when he saw his entire deckcrew and the pilot simply … vanish. They melted, the CPO says with horror, and then … reformed into some hideous monstrosity!
While Berzinev, Mao, and Roland interrogate the chief, Darzen uncovers some curious research data indicating that the station was attempting to develop a new transporter, one that was instantaneous (so no sparkle effect) and silent. Combining this new information with their discovery that there was a brief flare-up of the magnetic storm, the Trill science officer begins to suspect these creatures are the former crew. To his surprise, though, he isn’t actually able to verbalize this theory – each time he opens his mouth to mention it, different words come out, not to mention, his unexpected copying of all station data to his PADD. He doesn’t know why he’s doing that…
The Thing in Engineering
As he struggles, Carlos announces aloud that the two … things that have been floating in the zero gee shaft have vanished. He took his eyes off them when the shooting began in the hangar bay, and when he looked back, they were gone! LT Dane, now recovered from his faint (and mortified that it happened at all) summons Carlos into the command center and has him lock out engineering so no one there could override anything. John, who has now taken up Carlos’ place at the zero-gee shaft, realizes he sees movement down there and calls it out. Doctor Berzinev, who has joined him now that CPO Delgado has passed out in the skiff thanks to the sedative, conducts a scan and determines that there are multiple of the unusual biosignatures in Engineering. At this, Darzen calls up camera footage of engineering and is aghast at the sight of many of the half-melted humanoids merging together to form a large … thing. Moving faster than something its size should be capable of, it slides toward the ladder. Behind Darzen, LT Dane once more passes out in sheer horror.
John opens fire with his phase rifle, even though he can’t really see what he’s aiming at, and Darzen sees the phase blasts cut the creature in half … although it promptly reforms and continues up. Acting quickly, he and Carlos kick up the gravity in the shaft to 11 gees and the thing plummets to the ground, flattening atop the hatch leading to the shuttlepod. Ever so slowly, the creature spreads itself thinner, stretching out of the shaft where it can reform. And then, as they discuss their options, the reformed creature begins to smash delicate-looking engineering consoles, roaring in rage.
“Time to leave,” John decides, and he rushes toward the Patrol Skiff, pausing only long enough to stun the stirring CPO Delgado so they do not have to deal with the man panicking in mid-flight. The rest of the officers are right behind him, with Carlos and Keung half-carrying the semi-conscious LT Dane. Darzen pauses only long enough to input a quick auto-command that will open the shuttle bay in exactly one minute before following. It is crowded inside the skiff, but none of them care as they power it up and leave the station behind.
Contact with Telemachus is made quickly and a nearly panicked but now fully conscious LT Dane informs CDR Prescott that the station is contaminated. “This is an Alpha-Class Biohazard Alert!” the lieutenant exclaims, and moments later, Telemachus opens fire upon Federation Deepspace Research Facility 39.
It explodes rather spectacularly.