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The pounding on Tal’Vyk’s office door jerked her out of a meditation -- or maybe a meditative repair of a conduit. She’d been steadily working on it all day without much progress, mostly because it was a cheap model that had been made in the mid-2200’s. She wasn’t sure it was even compatible with the ship’s system, but the XO had gotten a “good deal” on them so they were all she had to work with now. 


Setting aside the problem for now, she rose, edged around the workbench/desk in the cramped office, and toggled open the door. If she didn’t lock it, the creep from Lab Fifteen would try and sneak his droid in to spy on her. 


Capt. Edgers had already puffed himself up to full height of five-eight, so Tal’Vyk still loomed over him. She didn’t hold it against him; the captain’s bluster was harmless. “Good work on Lab Twelve, Chief,” he grunted without greeting. It wasn’t as much an acknowledgement of her work as checking it off his mental list, but she still accepted the complement. “But the warp core is actin’ up and if we drop outta warp without warning, Their Highnesses will have my head.”


“Understood,” Tal’Vyk replied with a nod, used to the captain’s dismissive name for the tenets in their labs. She closed the door in the captain’s face. They had an understanding; when the last chief engineer had blamed her for all his shoddy work, Tal’Vyk has expected the human to side with a human. Instead, Capt. Edgers had put the former chief off at closest M-class planet with severance pay and made her the Chief. At her surprise, he’d said, “Guy drank too much to be a good engineer. You do well enough.”


In truth, everyone knew the Archimedes worked better than before ‘Chief Tal’, as most of the crew called her. Most of the money Edgers made went back into labs, updating their instruments and tools so the clients who rented out the labs remained happy. The tenants would have been much less happy if they’d known exactly how thin of a shoestring the ship itself flew on. Tal’Vyk didn’t mind the challenge of keeping both an ancient, shoddily modded cargo ship flying and the state-of-the-art labs working. Even being short another hand to help with engineering didn’t stop her from outshining the last guy.


Tal’Vyk gathered up her tools and walked down the hall to the warp core. It was a golden rod that stretched from the floor of Engineering to the ceiling far above her head. The two-level core was small but reliable -- or at least it had been. Even before she pulled up the diagnostics, she could seen a strange flicker in the core’s lights. 


The diagnostics were not reassuring. Something was interfering with the warp field, reshaping it and threatening to rip the ship apart. Even as she realized the gravity of the problem, a shudder ran through the ship.


“Chief Tal!” the intercom squawked, but she ignored the XO’s irritated call. Instead, she said, “Tal’Vyk to Captain Edgers. We have to--”


The warp field collapsed suddenly and the ship fell out of warp just as systems collapsed. The internal dampers faltered but didn’t fail completely. Tal’Vyk still ended up pushed against the warp console under about three G’s of force for appropriately two seconds. Her panel lit up with red lights as multiple systems sent warnings. The worst one was the structural integrity warning -- the warp field had collapsed as a safety measure. The ship had started to twist, tearing bulkheads and violating seals. One of the labs had vented catastrophically to space and the two on either side were losing air.. Hope Cap’s insurance is good, Tal’Vyk thought grimly as she started to determine how to save The Arc.


If she could be save The Arc at all.


The ship is badly injured. Tal’Vyk was going to tell the captain that they had to make an emergency drop out of warp. Feel free to post about her running around the ship, trying to save it. At some point, she will realize she can’t save the ship. Show off a little, have fun making up personalities of the tenets on the ship, and don’t be afraid to kill people.


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Archimedes, Engineering, Section 1


Tal'Vykk punched the intercom button with the agitated practice that runs in the veins of foul-mouthed engineers. "Captain," her voice relayed with the tension of a violin string while maintaining the honeyed tones of a twentieth century navigational computer, "Captain, the Warp Field has been compromised. Structural integrity's dropping fast." for a moment she hestitated. "I will do what I can to hold her together for you, captain."


Her fingers danced across the displays, shutting down all non-essential power. The lights dimmed as the humming in the ship receded. In this near-silence, the ominous creaking sounds revealing more and more of the inner vessel to the lethal depths of space. Adrift, out of the window of the engineering bay, she could already see bodies floating, pinpricks of life stilling, the movements of their arms coming to a halt as the inevitable overtook them.


She hit the dials on her dashboard. "Computer, isolate rescue pod 9 and slave it to my interface. Authorization code Delta-231, passcode 931662. Reroute Exo-Suit 2 to deck 2"


The people aboard the Archimedes were brilliant scientists, the bright stars of their age - and equally hungry and ruthless. If they felt they were threatened they'd be running towards the escape pods and docked vessels to save their skins. Best to make sure they wouldn't each make way with a single pod and flee in luxury while leaving the crew behind to fix up the mess...if it could be fixed.


With a small lump in her throat she stepped over the body of Vallax, her engineering companion. One did not need to have a medical license to know that nothing could be done for the poor man, his upper body buried under a bulkhead that had come twisting loose from its mooring structure. He'd sing the nicest songs, and tell the tallest of tales after a few glasses of synthale. She knew that he'd have a burial in space, far from his beloved home on earth, far from his extended and troublesome family.
Shaking her head to focus on her more immediate danger, she grabbed the engineering toolkit next to the door and rushed for deck 2, where the greatest structural damage was. She'd have to seal the bulkheads, sacrifice a quarter of the ship, but it might just hold.


Archimedes, Deck 2, Section 3


The Archimedes' design was ancient, and everything on it had failed except the most basic. As she climbed up the ladder to deck 2's bulkhead corridor and reached cargolift 9, she could see that it had halted a meter below the deck, her exo-suit caught within it. She snarled at it, and popped its hood, crawling in with the practiced difficulties when one is accustomed to small spaces, but altogether sized for a large one. She powered up the suit's controls, feeling the connection go live with her interface. Like liquid silver, it brought clarity, and a sense of peace.


She could hear the buckling and tearing of the ship continue as she used the Exo-suit's powerful arms to bend open the turbolift doors and drag herself out. Beyond the corridor, where the greatest damage was, the readings showed the cold void of space seeping in through cracks in the bulkhead and failing containment shields. Sweat dripping from her brow, her arc welder made frantic line after line across bulkheads and between beams, trying to shore up whatever integrity she could manage.


Then she heard someone cry out behind her...


The Exo-suit turned, and she saw through the torn-down doorway the laboratory space of doctor Gullain Sweels. The old Vulcan, his hair a silvery gray, observed her with the well-trained arrogance that came with his species and upbringing. Standing up straight in his laboratory containment field, like a freighter captain unwilling to leave his post, he swung his right arm to the side, pointing at the console just outside the field's reach. "Ah, Chief Engineer Tal'Vykk. So good of you to join us. As you can see, I find myself under involuntary confinement. The containment field activated as a precaution, but unfortunately those designing this vessel decided to place the controls of it only on the outside of it." One pointed eyebrow raised up. "A fact which, I believe, I did bring to your attention at an earlier point in time".


She rolled her eyes. "Sweels, your work involves the occasional vivisection of live sapient beings. Did you really think that controls of that manner on the inside of their containment field is the desired route to take, hmmm?" she raised an eyebrow of her own at him. "Besides, if it were to be discontinued now, you'd find yourself at the mercy of a full-fledged particle bombardment while simultaneously in a vacuum. You have no suit. Your only chance is me getting these damn bulkheads shut. So let me get on with my work."


The Vulcan's face almost changed from its serene stance, almost. In his eyes however, the Cardassian saw something flicker. Defiance? Fear? Survival instincts, maybe? Then his pose relaxed. "I suppose it is no more than logical for me to remain in the safety of my lab. Carry on."


Heavily the Exo-Suit resumed its work at the bulkhead. Only a few explosive bolts remained. Stepping back she detonated the bolts, and while it was a silent force on the outside of those walls, here it was a thunderous roar. Safety protocols activated, and heavy sliding doors barged in to seal the breach. There was a thud, a sudden loss of orientation, and then the mass of the ship righted itself. "Computer, disengage safeguard protocol 12 in lab Aliph-82."


The shimmering field dropped, and the Vulcan immediately rushed to a cabinet and began to collect pads, crystals and data chips. Tal'Vykk grimaced. He'd be making his way to the closest emergency pod as soon as he had salvaged his precious research. But her loyalties, and duties, lay elsewhere. As she resumed her ponderous gate towards the cargo lift she hailed the captain. "Captain, aft section labs, mess hall and quarters are gone. But we bought some extra minutes."

The captain's voice was shocked. "Star's arse end, Tal, that's some bad news. That means we've lost all off-duty crew and nearly all customers. We have life support and containment, for now, but we lost thrusters and I just saw the communication dish tear itself loose. We're dead in the water. Distress call's out, but there's no telling if ----"


The crackle of the intercom went dead as a heaving sigh went through the ship's hull. She thrust her Exo-Suit around in time to see Gullain Sweels run at her; then the corridor seemed to twist, and swallow him up like a giant maw. Metal twisted and the corridor became a river of sharp edges, stopping only when the emergency bulkheads in section 2 slammed shut an arm's reach before her. Tal'Vykk let out a primal cry that was somewhere between a hoarse gasp and a throaty sigh. Her heart raced. Section three was gone, meaning half the ship had gone beyond her reach. Command was on top of that section, so the vessel was now rudderless as well as leaderless.


Archimedes, Deck 2, Section 2


Eyes wide, nostrils flaring as she ached for breath, she tried to make sense of the scans of the ship. It no longer even closely resembled its design, and the lights died down for good as emergency power finally gave way. Darkness crept in as she pondered her situation. The captain was likely dead or dying, power and life support down, the only two sections of the ship still intact were engineering and cargo. She would not be able to restore power and life support before her suit's oxygen ran out. Even if she did, she'd have to jury-rig an emergency signal and hope blindly, without sensors to sweep for approaching ships. She grimaced again and activated the intercom.


"To all Archimedes personnel and tenants. We have lost life support and command, those who still live, make your way to the nearest emergency pod and abandon ship. I repeat, abandon ship. The Archimedes is scuttled." Her hand fell heavily from the intercom button, her brow deeply furrowed. Once again she had lost a family, and was cast adrift in space. But she had done them proud, and there was no shame in withdrawing in the face of overwhelming odds.


The suit lumbered in the direction of the Engineering emergency airlock, as she prepared mentally for the grueling journey across the Archimedes' hull towards Rescue Pod 9.

Edited by Laughing Crow
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Lab 18


"To all Archimedes personnel and tenants. We have lost life support and command, those who still live, make your way to the nearest emergency pod and abandon ship. I repeat, abandon ship. The Archimedes is scuttled."


Phian Troi (though legally his surname had been stripped from him by his family) glanced up at the intercom with a scowl. He hated interruptions to his experiments, but as he listened, his irritation morphed into rage. How dare the incompetent buffoons running this ship destroy his life’s work!


As he stood roiling with rage, he missed the slight movement behind him. The figure lying prone on the bed rose and sidled silently behind him. It stealthy approached him; a whisper of noise was his only warning. It still came too late as he turned into the slice of the scalpel across his neck. He gurgled and fell to the floor, holding his throat. 


Phain was barely aware of his killer watching their hands and rummaging through his closet. He died choking on blood, knowing that his experiment had been successful.


Lab 22


The dire announcement blasted over his intercom in rough Klingon. The tone and words were gentler than any a true warrior would utter, and L'kron Mimish snorted. The six targs in the bay reacted to the sound, answering him with harsh bellows.


Thinking quickly, the scientist pulled out a powered cooler and loaded several samples into it. He paused and looked over the pens, anger filling him as he knew that he’d never be able to take them all -- or even one of them. 


“Perhaps one,” he muttered, turning his tall lanky body to the last pen. The litter lay hidden under the dirt of the pen, and the dam shrieked a warning at him. Unclasping his phaser, he shot her before she could move to stand over the torglets. 


He knew which one he wanted, and he reached into the biggest mound of dirt. The baby squealed as he pulled her out of her hiding place, and the living adults answered her with irate cries. L’kron grabbed a tranquilizer, applied it to the baby, and put her in a satchel. The ship shuddered around him again, and he paused at the doorway. Feeling his chest tighten with pain, he set the lab to sterilize. Better a quick death by incineration than decompression. 


If he ever learned that a person was responsible for the death of his ship, he vowed he would have his revenge.


Lab 7


Simon River lifted himself off the floor, moaning in pain. It took a long moment to recognize his lab since it was bathed in red emergency lights. He was-- where? The Origin? Memory returned and he muttered, “The Archimedes.


Clearly, there’d been an accident, and this time, he’d been injured. His head pounded, and he staggered his desk to fumble out a tricorder. It was over a hundred years old, held together by hope as much as actual parts, but it worked enough to confirm the concussion. 


Cursing, he staggered to his project, leaning against the solid weight of the machine. “Sorry, old girl,” he mumbled, patting her once. Opening her main panel, he pulled the neural core, cradling it gently. Still walking sideways as much as forward, the brown-haired man got himself into an atmosphere suit, the core into the backpack, and his first aid kit under his arm. Now to get to the lifepod before someone else did and launched it before it was half-full.

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Archimedes, Section 2 Science Division


Cursing under her breath, Tal'vykk pried open the panel next to the door to the Science Division of Section 2. Scant minutes ago she had been foiled in her attempt to leave the ship and make her way to rescue pod 9 from the relative safety of the outer hull, forcing her to instead slog through the Science Division with all the inherent dangers that entailed. Rerouting the security scans here should allow her to enter even with a full alert ongoing.


As the door slid open with a groan, it revealed behind it the crouched form of a Klingon in the armored suit that was typical for their science officers, all brusque and warrior-chic, but any large and obvious weapons had been replaced with measuring devices and collection tools. Obvious, of course, because no Klingon would take a step out of their quarters without some form of implement to kill whomever would pay them an insult.


The Klingon rose to his full height, and as the light streaming through the door touched his face, Tal’Vykk recognized the man, unfondly. L’kron Mimish got out of bed with a hot cup of G’nrak and a requisitions form for technical support, and there was not a day that he would not complain of one thing falling apart or the other. In turn, seeing the Cardassian in the eye, L’kron snorted derisively. “Well, well. Our Chief of Engineering pays a house call. I’d expected you to be out on the first rescue pod already. You finally have your wish of the ship falling apart, have you?”


The jab stung Tal’Vykk, who took personal pride in managing to keep together a vessel of this age and complexity. In fact, when she first set foot on the Archimedes, it was the first time that her lifetime of taking apart ancient war-torn vessels had come in handy, since it was hard to come by experienced engineers well-versed in technology fifty years out of date.

“If you were trying to make your way to a rescue pod this way, I must disappoint you. Behind me the ship is falling apart, and we’re losing integrity and oxygen fast.” Her nostrils flared, noting the scent of burning meat. Ahead beyond the Klingon a charred body lay face-down next to the Targ cages he had monitored so religiously, occupied by equally charred bodies.

L’kron smirked mirthlessly. “Containment protocols were activated as part of the standard evacuation procedure. You will guide me to the nearest functional rescue pod, I know you must have one available. And while we wait for rescue, you will tell me all that has failed on this ship, and I will decide whether or not to hold you…responsible.” The threat was palpable, and with a phaser in his right hand, L’kron waved his left towards the inside, inviting Tal’Vykk inside.


As behind her the duranium doors slid back into place and locked with an audible hiss, she moved the Exo-suit ponderously inside L’kron’s bio-lab. Phaser fire might be less dangerous while inside an Exo-suit, but a determined Klingon would know how to crack the shell and get to the morsel inside, of that she had no doubt. Klingons, even the brainy ones, lived unruly and conflict-ridden lives, and it was good to stay on their best side. “But of course, L’kron. I am an engineer who’s been paid very well to keep this place in one piece as best I can, and your continued patronage with it. But some things not even an arc welder can fix.”


As she passed, she could have sworn that the Klingon gently petted the satchel slung over his left shoulder, almost as much in a comforting gesture as if he was checking it was still there.


Archimedes, Lab-22


Crawling back inside the Exo-suit, she preceded the Klingon into Lab-22, where intercom speakers were garbling messages in Klingon out that she could barely understand. Her grasp of the language was tenuous, barely good enough to make out that these were warnings about parameters going out of bounds. Judging by the burnt corpses, it was more than parameters to be worried about.


The door at the end of the lab led to the shared corridor between labs 22, 18, 16 and 14.

With the decontamination procedure over, the door opened effortlessly under the gentle pressure of the powered arms of her suit. Tal’Vykk sighed in relief, glad that each of the interior safety doors in the laboratories had their own battery pack to power them. She would not want to be spending time cutting through the duranium shells of the door when lives were at stake.


Behind her, L’Kron tapped his armored boot on the floor in agitated frustration. Behind the armored glass of her Exo-suit, Tal furrowed her scaled brow as she set her suit into motion into the corridor, lit by red emergency lighting. Beyond this door awaited three more labs with dangerous and unstable experiments, as well as the hazardous materials storage, before they’d be able to access the airlock leading out. She hoped that there would be sufficient environment suits remaining after this for however many survivors she might be able to pick up on her way to Rescue Pod 9…

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The corridor between the labs wasn’t empty; three people huddled around the door. One of them, Michel Archam from Lab 16, had pried off the panel on the door and had his fingers buried in its guts. He and his assistant, both Antarans, were in their lab coats and wore oxygen masks, though neither had a suit on. The third was an unknown assistant, a human with large gray eyes who at least had a sealed suit on -- though Tal’Vyk knew that model and it was rated for about five minutes of open vacuum. 


“Engineer!” Archam barked when he saw her, pushing aside Leana, his assistant. “Thank the gods! The door refuses to open! Can you?” He stepped aside and waved to her, then saw L’kron behind her. He scowled at the other scientist but said nothing to him, perhaps in deference of the emergency. If so, he was showing a modicum more restraint than other scientists on this boat.


The human shifted a little and said in a soft voice, “I can help, hold tools or a light.”


Archam’s assistant shot her a hard look and then rolled her eyes. “Pipe down there, Penny Powerpack,” she said in a nasty voice, “the Engineer will tell us what we need to do.” She looked up at Tal’Vyk with a ‘teacher’s pet’ smile. Clearly, Leana had decided that Tal’Vyk was the person to save her from this mess, and therefore the person to suck up to.


Hallway outside Labs 7, 9, 11, and 13


Simon staggered into the hallway, clumsy in his unfamiliar spacesuit. His head was still pounding, and he wished that he’d thought to administer a hypospray before he suited up. He turned toward Escape Pod 9, but a thought pulled him away. 


“David,” he murmured, pushing off his wall. David had been on the Origin, too. They had a bond, and Simon knew he’d hate himself for life if he didn’t at least check on the old man. The problem was that David Booker’s lab was on the other side of The Arc, normally a nice walk up to the junction and then over to the mirroring hallway. Now, the path was full of dangers. 


David would go back for you, Simon thought and with a frown started toward the junction. “Wait,” he muttered, looking at the door to Lab 11 and thinking through the ship’s layout again. Yes, he could cut through 11, assuming that whoever was in there didn’t kill him for the violation. The scientists on these kind of ships fell into two groups: self-serving secretive assholes, and self-serving secretive assholes who waited for a chance to drop hints about their research.


Except Simon, of course, he wasn’t self-serving, and he tried not to be an asshole.


“Shit,” he mumbled, pulling out a hypo and ripping off his helmet. Wincing at the sting, he injected himself with painkillers and a cocktail of drugs that would reduce bruising, at least for the short term. He’d need real medical care soon, but not before he went for David.


Swallowing hard, he opened the door to Lab 11 and stopped, blinking at the darkness. “Shit, shit,” he mumbled, reseating his helmet and fumbling out a flashlight. He almost stepped in when he realized that the room wasn’t dark; it was coated in a black goo -- an ooze that was rolling toward the open doorway and the light in a fast ripple.


Slamming the door shut, he leaned against it and mumbled, “So, we’re going the long way. Shit.” With a sigh, he checked to be sure Input was still in his backpack. Then he jogged up the corridor, thinking, I hope you know what you’re doing.

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Tal'vykk said nothing at first, taking in the situation. The scientists were blocked by a Duranium door in their efforts to reach the wraparound deck that led down to the escape pods. That deck was a horrible affair, one of those see-through contraptions that had armor plating on it during transit, but was ostentatiously opened up when in orbit to give the paying passengers that modicum of "cruise vessel" feeling that they demanded. Sensors couldn't indicate whether or not there was a breach on the other side, so if they were going to open this up, it'd have to be careful.


After a second or two she addressed the Human assistant. "You can assist me by opening up that panel marked 21C, there at the corner. Inside it you will find a cylindrical grip attached to a canister." she turned to the group as a whole, "I will help in opening this door, but the area beyond this is the observation deck. If there is a breach, we won't know until that door opens." Once again she turned back to the Human. "if it does, and there is a loss of gravity, my suit will block the door and prevent you all from disappearing in space. But you will then need to turn that grip to your right, and push down on it, which will activate the override locks."


As she extended the power arm of her suit towards the opened guts of the system, the fingers of it encircled the locking override which would release the clamps and allow her to open the door manually. "Which also means," she added wryly, "that it would be in all your best interests to stand back at that panel, and all make sure that that switch gets tripped if it needs to be."


She gave the scientists a second or two to scramble before twisting the locking override, and hooking the fingers of her power suit's arms into the small gaps in the door that were designed for manual manipulation.

Edited by Laughing Crow
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Michel and Leana scrambled to stand next to the unnamed human, who opened the panel as instructed and took a firm grip on the canister. Michel supervised the human, but muttered to Leana, “This is a stroke of luck for us!”


“Yeah, we’re way more likely to survive this nightmare,” she rejoined, throwing her boss an eyeroll. Behind them, the Klingon waited impatiently.


“No, you nit. Well, yes. Yes, but also, she can help us with the lawsuit!” Michel rubbed his hands together, staring at the engineer’s back. “I wonder how much of a cut she’ll want--”


The door opened suddenly as the locks disengaged, but there was no pull of the vacuum. Tal’Vyk didn’t like the push that did indicate that the ship was unevenly pressured -- not enough to caught issues, but it was a definite sign of loss of atmosphere. If she could trust the readouts, Lab 10 had been the one to fail catastrophically, so if there was pressure pushing toward them, then the seals were holding for now and the leak was coming from behind them. Part of her itched to fix it, but the more cunning part of her knew that The Arc was in her death throes, and if they didn’t leave, they’d join her..


The observation area looked fairly normal, if a little too dim and threatening in the emergency lighting. After glancing around, Tal’Vyk confirmed it was safe -- at least for now -- and waved the others forward. In the sinister light, noises were strange. This deck was a major nexus on the ship, and Tal’Vyk knew most of the weird reverberations and echoes that filled this area. Today, none of the noises she could hear sounded familiar.


Across the room, the door to the other wing opened, and a figure in a spacesuit staggered out. It didn’t appear to see them in dark space. Tal’Vyk wondered which scientist it was, but didn’t have time to worry about it. The figure turned to the other passageway -- the one that was almost certain to be vented to space -- and started to try to open the door.


Yes, that figure is Simon, looking for David.

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Tal'vykk shook her head in annoyance inside of her Exo-suit, glad that the scientists wouldn't be able to see it. She had found scientists to be a rabble-rousing chain gang of demanding children, trying to advance theories at the cost of everything and everyone - if they were not showing off or trying to get funding for their next galaxy-altering exploratory study. She, she herself preferred basic principles, cause-and-effect and the comforting touch of physical devices causing physical effects.


She found herself quieted for a moment, touching the glass of the observation deck, feeling saddened by the impending loss of what was, to her at least, a joyous span of time. But now, it would be minutes before...she turned her head to the figure trying to commit decompressing suicide at the lab doors.


Turning her suit around at lightning speed, she crossed the space between the observation deck and the door as fast as she could while exclaiming, "Wait! That lab is breached! Don't open that"


She prayed she was in time, but like most things in life, it ended with the disheveled-looking man observing her with the vacuous lack of understanding common to surprised people when the door opens into a low-pressure gravity breach. Behind her, the scientists were jostled through the corridor as the oxygen began to disappear. Her dashboard lit up orange and red as levels started to take on apocalyptic appearances. Had her one arm not already been on its way to intercept the scientist, she would've been too late to save him. As it was, he spent a few seconds staring into the abyss before the enforced hydraulics of the suit dragged him back.


Behind her, the scientists managed to shuffle up to the corridor's control panel and complete the procedure that she had spelled out to them before...the doors were forced together by the emergency seals and she succeeded at bringing another survivor from the brink of death. Counting to six, the pod would be snug but fortunately not yet at capacity.


"Well then," she concluded to the man caught in the Exo-suit's heavy grasp, "who are you, and what made you so eager to die in deep space?"

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“Die?” the man asked fuzzily, and Tal’Vyk noted the blood matted in his hair. Clearly he wasn’t completely coherent, and he glanced back at the door. “Wait, those labs are gone?”


“Well,” Tal’Vyk said, wondering how upset he was about to be and making sure she had a good grip on him, “the labs remain, but the occupants are gone. These were the first to vent to space.”


She could watch the comprehension flow ove rhis face. “Oh. Oh. Oh, David,” he said, and blinked rapidly. “I don’t suppose anyone’s alive over there?”


“Only if they don’t need to breathe,” Michel said harshly. Leana tittered at her boss’s remark, and he continued, “You should wait until we’re rescued before you start crying.”


The newcomer gave Michel a dirty look, but before things could escalate, L'kron growled, “Can we rescue ourselves now? If we’re lucky, there will be a Federation ship nearby.”


“Are you so eager to have the Feds nosing around in our business?” Michel snapped. 


“More eager than I am to have them find my corpse.” The Klingon smirked. “Some of us were conducting legal research.”


“Enough!” the human said, glancing at Tal’Vyk. “I assume you’re the engineer I’ve heard about. Can we get to the lifepod?”


“I do,” Tal’Vyk said, seeing the man down since he seemed to be rational and mobile. As he pulled his clothing straight, she turned and walked down to the next level. Her five ducklings followed her closely, with the new human stumbling only a little. 


After a moment, L’kron asked casually, “What are you called, human?”


“Simon,” he said, which was enough to prompt names all around, even from the hereto silent woman, who was named Joy. They arrived on the level with the lifepods and turned the corner to approach it when Tal’Vyk stopped. “What--” Simon peered over her arm. “Oh, that’s quite a problem, isn’t it?”


Two humans, a man and a woman, lay half-encased on some kind of blue foam. It was partially transparent, and they could see that the lifepod beyond was unharmed, but the foam was filling the doorway, including the pod’s inner door which would have to be closed to be launched. The foam was rigid, and the human woman was half-exposed. Unfortunately for her, her face was in the substance, and she was very dead, as was the man who was completely encased. A canister lay at their feet; it looked like one of them had ignited it, then the man had been caught in it first and refused to let the woman go, dragging her into the mess. 


Regardless of how it had happened, they needed to clear it, and quickly, if they wanted to get off The Archimedes alive. 

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Tal'Vykk gritter her teeth at yet another delay that would get them closer and closer to the Archimedes going event-horizon on them and ending their existence in a grinding noise and a weak splutter. She had password-locked the Number 9 pod, so obviously some scientists had released their previously-untested product on it in an effort to get out of the station. The combined lack of social cohesion among them, combined with their tendency to break the rules when one might need only bend them a little was like a volatile cocktail mix at the back of her mind.


"Very well," she stated with a voice that was as as cold and grating as ice, "I see we have another challenge. That canister, or so my readings say, was Trelin and Matinka's own brand of solid-form fuel. I am not sure what they named it, but in the current atmospheric conditions it definitely failed to ignite."


"Problem the first, if it does ignite, that amount of material will preclude the need for any of us to be buried. The second, it blocks the doorway mechanisms preventing us from entering, and closing the door even if we could." her Exo-Suit turned to face the scientists. "We'd need to cut it away, and we have preciously little time for that. So instead, I am going to ask you for your advice. This material is based on Bechterium-42, is both volatile and solid, responds poorly to cold and is hard but relatively brittle. It also may respond agitatedly towards being in a state of low-pressure, apparently."


"Our current tools include my suit's plasma cutter, cutting blade, and a tank full of liquid oxygen. We have water sprinklers, polycarbon gas distributors and the vacuum of space to work with."


She frowned. "Act as if this is a university test. Tell me how to get you out of here alive."



I have ideas on how to solve this, but she is also a team/family player, I want to illustrate her being open to feedback. I will find something fun to make of it regardless of what the commentary is.


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