Search and rescue
Timeline: Day 22 at 0000
Isabelle awoke from a short induced slumber to find herself somewhere completely different to where she had been. Given what the doctor had said about the air quality she was concerned that her suit helmet was nowhere to be seen, although the air she was breathing seemed fresh enough. What had happened? Just how had she gotten here?
Beyond the tiny circle of light which illuminated her immediate surroundings, there was a darkness which seemed infinite. And beyond the woman's movements, only silence. Time lost all meaning with no frame of reference until, finally, a small light began to take form less than a meter away. It moved no further, hovering in midair as it grew more substantial, the white light intermingled with pinks and yellows and pale blues as it hovered.
Isabelle looked at the hovering light she wasn’t sure if it was a recording device or what it was. “What’s going on? Who brought me here!?” She rested her hand on her stomach, she needed to keep calm for both her and her baby’s sake.
There was no response as instead the orb seemed to take flight, drifting around the room yet always remaining in close proximity until finally it returned back to the same place where it had first appeared. The air beside it seemed to shift, distorting as a holographic display appeared. Line by line, words took shape, one which became recognisable as the lieutenant's service record until the screen cleared and instead just one word remained.
Isabelle looked at it curiously. “Hello,” she smiled feeling more relaxed. “You obviously know who I am, what do I call you?”
The colours shifted on the orb. Again the words on the screen were again erased, replaced by one word. CALL?
Isabelle paused to think. “A name?, designation?” She looked at the screen. “Who brought me here?”
On the screen an icon, similar to interconnected circles morphing around one another appeared as in the background lines of text scrolled by far to quickly to be deciphered by the human eye. And the it stopped, replaced by three words.
I AM CONTROL.
And then, in answer to her question, something moved in the darkness, motors whirring noisily as what bore a passing resemblance to the repair drones used on starships appeared. Yet it was larger, almost as tall as a person with a sleek design. In the dim light it hovered, one metallic panel sliding open to show it bore a range of equipment which the drone could use in repairs and tasks.
ALPHA-TWO BROUGHT YOU HERE....
YOUR HEART RATE INDICATES ANXIETY.
DO NOT BE ALARMED.
YOU ARE SAFE HERE.
Isabelle breathed a sigh of relief. “My breather, the helmet I was wearing, I lost it when I was brought here. The air down here isn’t good for me, and my friends. I need the helmet back.”
After a nanosecond pause, the drone unit moved away.
ENVIRONMENTAL READINGS WITHIN TOLERANCE LEVELS FOR LIEUTENANT ISABELLE VERAN.
YOU ARE SAFE HERE.
Isabelle breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s good to know, thank you.” She looked around. “My companions will be worried about me, they will be searching trying to find me.”
The orb shifted to a pale blue and snippets of comms chatter filled the air, a myriad of voices in a jumbled combination which made little sense without context. Yet clearly, the lieutenant's host was well aware of what was happening throughout much - if not all - of the base.
“We came here because our ship was destroyed, we had nowhere else to go.” Isabelle listened to the comms chatter. “We have wounded, and we need this place to help us survive. Can you help us?”
A myriad of colours swirled in response to the question, all the while the comm chatter continued before the orb disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving the lieutenant alone.
Elsewhere, a very angry Orion was leading the search for the missing Counsellor, having informed command of the situation, and their team had been joined by Lieutenant Torres from security. They had searched everywhere near to where they had last seen the Counsellor and, so far, their search had turned up nothing.
“Doctor Carter,” the Orion called out, more than a hint of exasperation in his voice, “your tricorder must have picked something up by now.”
Further ahead, Andrea Carter raised an eyebrow in a fashion most Vulcan's would be proud off. This was not the first impatient officer she had ever had to deal with, nor did it seem likely he would be the last. "You are correct. In the past fifteen minutes I have devised a new scanning protocol which allows me to overcome all of the interference we experienced and scan the entire facility from top to bottom," she replied with just a hint of sarcasm as she stepped towards the nearby wall.
A frown creased her forehead as she scanned the same spot several times, considering. By now she was in almost the exact spot the lieutenant would have been in when she vanished. She moved a little to her left, keeping a close eye on the data.
"I think," she said over comms as she turned towards the Orion, "that this is a concealed door or access hatch. It looks the same, but the molecular composition is off. Not by much. But it is definitely different. Maybe there are maintenance spaces behind it?"
She turned back to the wall, beginning to trace her fingers around the approximate edge of where one section seemed to end and the other began. Perhaps there was some concealed pressure sensor or another kind of trigger that would open the hatch. Of course it could be nothing but with a missing woman on their hands, they couldn't ignore anything.
When her finger brushed over one section there was a barely audible hiss and the entire section retracted, sliding back and to the side, leaving an opening that just seemed to lead into another dark space.
"It's a tunnel, extending in both directions, parallel to the corridor, I can get better readings in here too. There is an energy reading a few meters ahead and to the left. And a lifesign," Carter confirmed with some audible relief as she stood on the threshold. "Torres, since I don't think Udal would even fit in here, let's you and I check this out. Udal, Doc, wait here. Oh, I need her helmet -"
"Here," Doctor Siana said as he thrust it into her arms. He had been holding it since the lieutenant vanished. "Maybe I should come?"
"Nobody gets left alone," Carter reminded him, nodding to Udal. "Keep each other out of trouble. We'll be back before you know it. Lieutenant Torres, shall we?"
Udal did not like the idea of hanging around and waiting for the two officers to return, but did feel better knowing that Lieutenant Torres was part of the team.
"Let's go," the Lieutenant nodded.
Isabelle had sensed a change, the closeness of vicinity to others. She wanted to get up and go look but she didn’t know if the air was safe outside her current location. All she could do was sit and wait for them to come to her.
Doctor Carter was studying the readings as she moved, the lieutenant's helmet tucked under her arm as she followed Torres. "Turn right at the next junction," she told him via comms. She considered shouting on the woman but with her helmet on, the sound would be muffled, wouldn't travel far and would deafen poor Torres.
Besides, she was confident they were close.
They reached a hatch which slid open when she touched the same area as the one in the main corridor. Leaning forward she aimed her flashlight inside, relief flooding through her. With a quick scan to ensure they were alone, she followed Torres into the room, her readings picking up a normal atmosphere in this one localised spot.
Still she hurried over and knelt by Veran as she handed the woman her helmet. "You dropped this," she commented with a small smile, scanning the woman for any signs of injury or trauma. "What happened?"
Isabelle breathed a very welcome sigh of relief as she looked at Carter. “I stopped to take a quick breather, and next thing I know someone grabbed me and brought me here. It seems this station has an A.I. one that’s very curious about us, it’s been... taking care of me!” She smiled as she looked towards the screen nearby. “Control, are you listening?”
Dr Carter arched an eyebrow, following the woman's gaze and only now seeing a shimmer in the air, a ripple effect like a small waterfall. And as she watched, three letters appeared.
Josue remained on alert, listening, and concerned as to what he was hearing. If the A.I. had developed from the state it was in on the command center to where it was now, that was a massive step.
Isabelle smiled. “Am I free to go? and Can you help us? We have nowhere else to go.”
In response on the far side of the room a doorway slid open, revealing a dimly lit corridor beyond it.
SYSTEMS RESTORATION INCOMPLETE.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROLS BELOW OPTIMAL RANGE.
INITIAL THREAT ASSESSMENT FROM BIOLOGICAL LIFEFORMS: MINIMAL.
With that the holographic screen vanished.
"I guess that was an invitation to stay?" Dr Carter said after a long moment. She pointed to Veran's helmet, "suit up, let's get out of here and back to the others so Dr Siana can check you over."
Taking her helmet Isabelle nodded. “Yes, please” She looked at the computer. “Thank you Control.” With that she put her helmet on and stood ready to head out and join the others.
Josue offered a helpful arm to the Counsellor and smiled. "There is a beefcake of an Orion back there who is getting very antsy at your disappearance, Counsellor," he revealed with a playful smile.
“Really?” Isabelle smiled. “I’ll be sure to tell him that this wasn’t his fault. No harm done as the saying goes.”
"Lets go put your beefcake out of his misery," Dr Carter announced, "this way...."