Starbase Zenon

Tripped

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The morning was early; within the eerily quiet confines of the quarts Tobin and Marshal Planters resided in, both adults slept soundly under thin silver sheets. Just as they did at the exact same time everyday, overhead lights flickered to life giving the cold space a warm glow. When the lights reached normal brightness, a series of loud beeps echoes off of titanium bulkheads until Marshal sat up with a grunt and a stretch. After scanning the gray carpeted room with his jade green eyes and running his hand through short cropped black hair, Marshal swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood up only to trudge to the other bed no more than five feet across from his own. Like normal, when he reached the second bed, the series of audible tones ceased leaving him in complete silence again.

For a few moments, Marshal looked over his younger brother to find he slept slightly curled up with a small stuffed koala tucked under his crossed arms. His slow and gentle breathing was a sure sign that he slept peacefully. Knowing he had to, but not wanting to, Marshal leaned down just far enough to reach Tobin then gently shook his shoulder.

“Come on Tobin, time to wake up.” Marshal grunted nudging his identical twin brother awake. Almost immediately, Tobin's eyes flashed open, he then blinked a couple of times and sat up with a yawn. With no other words spoken, Tobin placed the stuffed animal on the pillows then stood up with a stretch. Both shuffled to an in-wall closet and slid the doors open to pull a change of clothes for the day; in short time, they were dressed in black slacks with polished black work boots, Tobin wore a deep green long sleeved shirt while Marshal wore a light green shirt.

“I still can't believe Admiral Locke gave approval for our vacation time.” Marshal grinned as he and Tobin exited their quarters through a pair of metallic doors hissing into the walls. Once in long corridors lined with silver metal bulkheads, they turned right and began their usual trek to the mess hall several decks down and clear across the space station.

“Why can't you believe it?” Tobin asked as he and Marshal walked side by side, their steps in perfect unison. “Its about time for us to have a little personal time. Combine that with the fact that Sarah and Elliot are joining us, we've got a nicely talented team. There is another reason...” Tobin trailed off while staring at Marshal.

“Which is?” Marshal glanced at his brother yet kept walking.

“You.” Tobin chuckled then turned serious again. “Since Commander Bishop switched you from stellar cartography to cargo handler down in bay one, your job performance has really improved. Heck, everyone I talk to says that your attitude has really gotten better.”

Marshal snapped back to reality from a reaffirming memory. “I just want to be where the action is, is all.” Marshal smirked. “Though I still want to get into security.”

“I know you do. But if you can't do that right away, take pride in the fact that you're motivating people down in the bay. Since you started there, more and more dock hands are striving to meet their quotas. When someones in a jam, you also jump in and help out so that speaks a lot about your character.”

"I know its procedure to do things this way." Marshal sighed as he stood before the cargo master-chief. "But its an ineffective way of doing it."

"Fine. Show me a better way." The master-chief scoffed. Before his eyes, Marshal picked up a remote for an anti gravity plate with several large pieces of cargo on it and pressed a few buttons on the control pad. The glossy metal plate raised in the air with bright purple barriers appearing on the sides keeping the cargo in place, then with a smirk, Marshal walked the entire unit up the rear hatch walkway of a vacant shuttle. It was only then that Marshal stared the master-chief eye to eye.

"You've got thousands of these anti gravity plates just laying around in storage; why not use them and make things faster. Heck, in one week, everyone will be meeting quotas."
Marshal relived his first day in the cargo bay and all of its challenges. In his mind, another memory danced to life. A pained cry rang out over the commotion of the cargo bay; everyone suddenly ceased their activities and looked over to find an older white haired man with his legs pinned under a pile of large metal beams. Without thought of doing it, Marshal abandoned his cargo and darted for the man; eventually he was joined by almost the entire work force. "PAX! Medical emergency cargo bay one!" Marshal shouted while surveying the situation. After looking around to the confused stares of those around, he pointed to a large hoist sitting in the far corner. "Get that thing!"

Within seconds, several dock hands returned with the mobile hoist, some realizing what Marshal was planning, some still stood with curious stares. As fast as he could, Marshal zipped a thick cable around the bottom few beams keeping the mans legs pinned to the floor. Everyone watched in stunned silence as Marshal pressed a few buttons on the control tethered to the main body; instantly the unit hummed to life with the cable tightening up, and slowly, bit by bit, the metal beams raised off the man just far enough for the others to pull him free.

"I don't care what others say kid." The old man gasped and shuddered suddenly feeling cold. "You...you just made...another friend..."


After five minutes of walking long stretching corridors and taking deck lifts, the twins entered into a spacious dining hall dotted with dozens of tables able to hold four people per table. With trays in hand, Tobin and Marshal shuffled through spaces between the tables until they sat down in a vacant one in a quiet corner. As usual, Marshal sat with his back to the wall while Tobin sat across from him. Just as they both placed a napkin in their laps, another presence came up and took a seat next to Tobin; even without looking, Marshal knew it was none other than Sarah Kersh dressed in her usual deep blue shirt and black slacks.

“Hey sweetie.” Sarah smiled at Tobin while swiping a tuft of copper red hair behind her ear.

“Hey.” Tobin smiled back then dug his fork into the pasta on his tray.

“I don't know about you three, but I'm due for a vacation down on Anexus Prime.” Another voice echoed out from behind Marshal. Mere seconds later, Elliot Besh flopped down next to Marshal then looked around; his deep purple shirt wrinkling with every movement.

“Yeah.” Sarah nodded. “Every year it just keeps getting better and better.”

“Just the four of us.” Elliot chuckled. “The pilot, doctor, engineer and the bellhop.” He laughed while giving a corner of the eye glare to Marshal.

Marshal rolled his eyes with a scoff. “Lug your own junk.” Slowly his eyes shifted between his brother and friends. “You know, this will be five years that we've been doing this.”

“Five years already?” Tobin asked tilting his head. “Seems like just yesterday.”

“Where does the time go!?!” Marshal looked around with a shrug. “Y'all remember our first time there? We were so hung up on procedures that we didn't have any real fun.”

“Yeah. We were complete twits back then.” Sarah giggled. “Now...now its something we look forwards to every year.”

“All we have to do is get through the next few days and its total freedom for a few days.” Tobin grinned as he finished the last of his meal. “Speaking of which, its almost time to report in for shift change.” He spoke as he stood and looked around.
 
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KierooTheCub

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very nice, it somehow reminds me of Enders game:p
 

Tripped

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Truth be told, I had to google Ender's Game because I had no earthly idea what it was about. All I can say, is the only thing this'll have in common, is humans fighting an alien species...much like aliens, war of the worlds, attack of the martians and pretty much any space movie imaginable. The only hard part is having to stop and realize I'm writing a remake of one of my older stories, not some Star Trek Voyager fanfic. :biggrin:
 

DLDan

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I thought it seemed familiar from a read of yours from a while back. Glad to see it's coming back because I really enjoyed the previous writing.

As always, it's great to see a new Tripped story!
 

TheWolfEmperor

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Don't know if it's my computer or the website, but I'm having a hard as hell time of quoting posts, so I'll just do this piecemeal.


Since Commander Bishop changed switched
Changed or switched. You only need one.

“I know you do. But if you can't do that right away, take pride in the fact that you're motivating people down in the bay. Since you started there, more and more dock hands are striving to meet their quotas. When someones in a jam, you also jump in and help out so that speaks a lot about your character.”
This is kind of a telling and not showing situation. I know in a fast paced action story there doesn't seem to be a lot of room for character development. but even with this bit of information you could "show" Marshall in the docking bay whipping people into shape, but doing it in a way that makes the reader think, "Yeah, I'd work for him."

Over all, this is a great start and you introduce the main characters smoothly and effectively. Science fiction is always a tricky thing to sell to readers, but I know from your past works that you have a skill with story telling that makes people want to sit tight for the rest of the ride.
 

Tripped

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Dropped "changed" and kept "swtiched". Can't believe that one got past me...thanks a bunch for pointing that one out. :)

Revised the show/tell a little bit, so hopefully it comes across a little more showing.
 

kerry

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Seems like a wonderful beginning, Tripped. Curiosity: I assume that the "younger brother" reference (made in reference to a twin) will have some meaning as things go on? And I love the cameo (?) by the stuffed koala. :)
 

Tripped

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Seems like a wonderful beginning, Tripped. Curiosity: I assume that the "younger brother" reference (made in reference to a twin) will have some meaning as things go on? And I love the cameo (?) by the stuffed koala. :)
Yes your curiosity is right, the younger brother reference will come into play throughout the story. Hehe yup my trademark koala made its return again. ;)
 

wilddog

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Ohohooo! It's back!
I remember coming across this story more then a year ago, with the last update more then a year old at that time...
I always hoped you would continue it, but with time, I gave up on it and forgot it.

And now you're bringing it back!
Don't worry, I won't spoil anything :)

What's next? Bringing back a walk on the wild side? (I do remember correctly that you wrote that right?)
 

Tripped

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Tobin sat upright in the single seat at the front of the cargo shuttle craft he piloted as the faint outlines of Star Base Zenon came into view. For a few brief moments, he admired the intricate workmanship that went into the construction of the station and how lively it looked compared to the space around it. After pressing a few buttons on a console to his right, Tobin slid a snug fitting headset over his left ear then gripped a joystick with his left hand.

“Star Base Zenon. This is shuttle C-one-seven requesting permission to dock.” Tobin spoke into the headsets microphone and tapped a few more buttons on the console panel at his right.

“Rodger that, C-one-seven. Slow to three hundred KPH and proceed in.” A gruff voice rattled through the tiny speaker and into Tobin's ear. “How are those antimatter injectors holding up?”

“I'll be lucky if they hold together long enough to dock. Have the tractor beam locked onto my coordinates just in case, though.”

“You got it.”

“Have any other ships hit that ion storm yet?” Tobin asked as he manipulated the joystick until the shuttle was lined up with a cavernous open bay behind a florescent purple shield.

“Negative. After your report we've sent out warnings on every communications band telling everyone to keep away from it.”


Marshal paced back and forth; without conscious thought of doing so, he rubbed the stress from the back of his neck while keeping an eye on several display panels in the bulkheads around him. Occasionally his glare shifted from the screens to the purple energy barrier keeping the vacuum of space outside and the atmosphere inside. It wasn't until the sleek yet boxy shuttle phased through the shield that Marshal allowed himself to breathe just a little bit easier, even then, he still kept a watchful eye on the craft. His pulse quickened as the craft slowed its speed down the center lane of the massive cargo bay then flanked right where more craft without cargo were spaced equally apart. Once the shuttle settled down on three landing skids and the drives powered down, a rear hatch opened with a deep hum until Tobin exited the craft – his face twisted in a sigh of relief.

“Secure that matter-antimatter containment unit before it blows out this entire station!”

“Yes sir!” Several men in deep purple uniforms nodded as they swarmed around Tobin and the craft.

“Download the shuttle logs too; I wanna go over every fragment of information about what happened when that ion storm hit!” Tobin continued, as he did, he stepped down the hatch ramp while glancing over his shoulder to the men performing work on the craft.

“Don't you ever...” Marshal narrowed his glare upon Tobin while putting his hands on his younger brothers shoulders. “...ever...make me worry like that again!”

“What's to be worried about, it was just an ion storm. Electra-static energy, nothing more.” Tobin shook his head and broke free of Marshals clamp like grip.

“Nothing to worry about hunh?” Marshal scoffed, one eyebrow cocking upwards with the faintest of head tilts. “What would happen if you lost matter containment? Hunh!?! What would happen if the shuttle ripped in half and you had absolutely no systems to create an emergency force field? What would happen if you lost all power and went sectors off course!?!”

“We're not kids anymore Marsh. You don't need to make sure nothing bad happens to me.” Tobin grunted. “Everything we do involves risks; there is no time where everyone is perfectly safe because life is dangerous! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a flight report to fill out.”

“Have yourself checked in sickbay when you're done. Ion storms are known for doing strange things to people.” Marshal sighed and stepped back.

“All right. I will.” Tobin muttered with a nod while strolling over to a control panel and picking up a small electronic pad.

--- --- ---

Sarah shifted her focus around the unusually quiet sickbay; along the far wall, beds sat empty, along the bulkheads to her left, diagnostics stations remained unused. On her right, an empty office with a single desk, computer work station and swivel chair. Hearing the doors hissing open, she spun her head around to find Tobin entering into the medical room.

“Hey Toby, what brings you in today?” She asked ushering Tobin over to an exam bed. Once he was seated on the mattress, she moved about gathering an assortment of hand held scanning devices.

“My overly protective brother wanted me to come here because my shuttle was caught up in an ion storm.” Tobin grumbled and shook his head. As he spoke, Sarah moved the main scanning instrument in slow and gentle movements around his body. “I mean, yeah, he's my older brother but he doesn't need to worry about me so much. After all, we're not the kids we used to be...”

“This time his concern was warranted.” She spoke while placing the device in row with various others, and hearing the tone in her voice, he looked at her with a questioning glance. “Your thermostatic biology is out of line.”

“Does that explain why I feel like I'm freezing?”

“Yes it does. Luckily its treatable with a hypospray.” As she spoke, she moved around to gather a small hand held cylindrical object which she filled with various compounds then placed on the side of his neck. He grunted as the tool hissed releasing the compounds into his artery. “Now, I want you to take the rest of today and tomorrow off so you can recover.”

“Sorry Sarah, but we're already way too busy trying to get cargo to the planets, can't take time off...”

Instantly she interrupted his train of thought. “Don't make me pull rank and confine you to sickbay!” She crossed her arms and stared at him with a determined glare in her eyes.

“You like me so much you'd actually order me to stay her?” Tobin chuckled causing her to intensify her stare even further. Slowly his grin faded. “Day and a half suddenly doesn't sound too bad. It'll give me time to catch up on my reading.”

“I thought you might see it that way.” She lowered her arms with the faintest of grins on her face. “Is everything okay between you and Marshal?” She cautiously asked with a caring tone. Tobin glanced at her then ran his hand down his face.

“Yeah.” Tobin muttered while hopping off the bed and turning towards the door. He then paused and looked over his shoulder. “You want me to come back for a checkup tomorrow?”

“Yes.”

With that, Tobin left the sickbay leaving Sarah in the now silent space once again.
 

wilddog

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Is it just me, or am I really getting a strong Star Trek vibe from the story? :smile1:

Nice chapter, I really can't wait for the next *stares intensely* Do Not Disappoint Me!
 

Tripped

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Tobin moved along silent corridors illuminated only by a small light pack strapped snugly around his wrist; in his free hand he held a small plasma weapon set to its lowest power setting. The darkness enclosed around him as he carefully kept his forwards pace, then, coming to a T junction, he peered around the corner making sure the path was clear. Hearing sudden movement to his right, Tobin instantly paused in mid step and swung his arm around illuminating the space around him only to find strands of silver white webbing encompassing the hall in front of him. In that instant movement caught his attention; daring himself to move, he stepped closer and closer towards the floss threads strung along the walls and ceiling panels then came to a sudden stop as the movement just beyond his light beam swarmed towards him. Before he knew it, he found himself flat on his back with a large presence looming over him – two pairs of glowing toxic green eyes made contact with his own causing him to scream out in terror.

Tobin suddenly sprang up in bed while shouting in utter fear, his hands gripped the sheets in a white knuckle hold as cold sweat soaked his pajamas. For a few seconds he glanced around to see that he was back in his assigned quarters with Marshal still sound asleep. As his yelps quieted to whimpers, Tobin stood and made his way over to Marshals bed and a mass laying under the sheets. Wondering why Marshal hadn't jumped out of the bed to see what he commotion was, Tobin reached out to nudge his brother awake, yet, the very second he was within reach, the sheet tore back revealing another nightmare. Slow and powerful the entity stood on six legs with its two front ones arcing over Tobin, seeing it, his knees gave out from under him until he was once again on the floor with the being looming over him – its two pairs of eyes changing tints of green. For the first time, Tobin could clearly see the entities full appearance – glossy black body with streaks of bright orange flowing down the sides of its elongated body. Before he could even open his mouth to scream, the being lunged downwards at him.


Marshal snapped awake with a startle and leapt from his bed; the quietness of the early morning hours was disrupted by Tobin's blood curdling screams of terror. As Marshal darted over to his brothers bed, the overhead lights came up in brightness. “Tobin what's a matter?” Marshal tried asking as his brothers screams silenced to huffing sobs, tears flowed from his eyes down his cheeks as Marshal watched with a concerned face.

“I-it was...was...” Tobin huffed using his hands to wipe the tears away. “T-then y...you and th-th-the...”

“Easy bro.” Marshal spoke in a soothing tone as he sat on the edge of Tobin's bed then drew is arm around his brother pulling him close. Even in Marshals hold, Tobin still shook violently. “It was just a nightmare. Nothing more.”

“It...it was so...scary...so...real!” Tobin muttered in whispering tones.

“Nightmares are scary because they seem real.” Marshal continued speaking in gentle tones as his brother calmed slowly. “But they aren't real, and no matter what, you can't ever get hurt in a nightmare because you would wake up before anything bad could really happen.”

“Mom and dad used to say the same thing. Back when we were kids. Back before...” Tobin trailed off causing Marshal to nod knowing exactly what he was saying.

--- --- ---

Tobin sighed while sitting up in a dark blue chair, after glancing around, he closed a small book he read and set it on a small table next to the chair. Slowly he paced towards a display panel on the bulkhead closest to him and looked to an open space adorned with ceramic brick plates. “PAX. Small bowl of macaroni and cheese.” Tobin spoke aloud then paused. “Wait.” Three beeps echoed from the display panel. “Add some hotdog bites and a small warm brownie on the side.” In the following silence three more beeps rang out seconds before a white bowl and plate appeared in the space below the panel. Before his eyes, the bowl filled with crescent shaped noodles covered in a creamy yellow cheese sauce dotted with small discs of meat, as that happened, a dark brown treat appeared on the plate.

Taking the bowl and plate from the replicator, Tobin sat down again just in time for two chiming tones came from the door to the quarters. “Come.” He called out while glancing to the door. Within seconds, Sarah entered into the room and stepped straight for Tobin.

“I'm glad you are taking time off instead of sneaking away to go flying around.” Sarah smiled as she set a plastic case on the table next to Tobin's meal then opened it to retrieve a hand held scanner. Like she always did, Sarah swept the scanner around Tobins body then paused to read its results. “Well I've got some good news.”

“How so?” Tobin asked between spoonfuls of the cheesy noddles, a questioning glare on his face marked with the faintest of raised eyebrows.

“Medically speaking, you're healthy.”

“So I can return to duty?”

“Not until after we get back from our vacation. Your medical leave doesn't end until tomorrow morning. Just in time for our vacation.”

“You planned it that way didn't you?” Tobin sat upright, a smirk creeping across his lips.

“I might have...” Sarah paused and grinned. “I just might have extended your medical leave by a few hours. However, I did so just to make sure you returned to duty completely rested and refreshed.”

“You cheat.” Tobin chuckled and relaxed in the chair.

“I only acted on medical grounds. Just to make sure you wouldn't have any unforeseen complications.”

“You do that with all of your patients?”

Hearing this, Sarah leaned in and whispered into Tobins ear. “Only for you.” Then she stood up again and smiled. “It just doesn't make any sense to take a day of, work a day then take a vacation, does it?”

“I guess not.” Tobin nodded. For a few moments, both remained in quiet stillness, that was until Tobin slid his food aside. “Yesterday, when you asked me if something was wrong, I wasn't being completely honest. Marshal...” He sighed and wiped his hand over his face. “...I know he's just wants to make sure nothing happens to me, but, he just doesn't know how overbearing he can be at times.”

“Have you tried talking to him about it?”

“Gave up on it because every time I try, it always ends up in a shouting match and we don't speak to each other for about a week afterwords.”

“You're going to talk to him about it.” Sarah grinned. “When we're down on Anexus Prime. Since its going to be just the four of us, you two can get it all out. Even if I have to tie both of you to a tree for as long as it takes to get you two talking.”

“Doesn't that go against your ethics of 'do no harm'?”

“Then don't let it get to that...” She lowered her glare and crossed her arms.
 

Bullwinkle

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Since Commander Bishop switched you from stellar cartography to cargo handler down in bay one, your job performance has really improved.
Things like this here really make it difficult to suspend my disbelief. This change in position is akin to going from neurosurgeon to meat packer, they have nothing to do with one another and require completely different skill sets. If I had been working a science station in the AIC and got reassigned to a loading dock I'd consider it likely punishment and a supreme waste of my talents.

I don't mean to offend anyone here who works a physical job, I started out doing manual labor to help pay my way through school and I know it can be physically demanding work but at the same time it's not the complex math science typically requires.
 

Tripped

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Things like this here really make it difficult to suspend my disbelief. This change in position is akin to going from neurosurgeon to meat packer, they have nothing to do with one another and require completely different skill sets. If I had been working a science station in the AIC and got reassigned to a loading dock I'd consider it likely punishment and a supreme waste of my talents.

I don't mean to offend anyone here who works a physical job, I started out doing manual labor to help pay my way through school and I know it can be physically demanding work but at the same time it's not the complex math science typically requires.
This is all very true. Hopefully I can explain the situation before part four is posted, where a lot of it is clarified.

In the universe that the story is planned in, someone isn't locked into doing one thing their whole life - they have an opportunity to "bounce around" and try different things. As I have it planned out in the next part, Marshal - the over protective twin - is good at stellar cartography, but his heart isn't in it. And the longer he was stuck staring at maps of stars, the worse his work attitude slipped until he had to have a long frank discussion with the commander about what could be done different to improve things. Another factor is that Marshal is like me in a way, he can't sit at a screen for twelve hours on end without getting restless - he needs to move around and stay active.

I hope all of that helps to clear some things up a bit, as I'm not used to writing sci-fi material so I'm trying to feel the map of action vs character. Make sense?
 

Tripped

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Tobin and Marshal stepped in perfect unison as they entered into bay one on the very bottom of the space stations decks. As they usually did, the brothers turned towards the left of the space, and as they did, Tobin held up a data pad reviewing several items at once. “Flight plan has been approved, the crafts been stocked with supplies and we're set for an o'nine hundred hour departure in shuttle P-one-seven.” Tobin muttered aloud as he paused just long enough to survey the line of sleek yet boxy craft perched on landing skids before them.

“Any indications of weather phenomena on the planets surface?” Marshal asked giving the data pad a quick glance.

“Nothing so far.” Tobin shook his head and started up the ramp to the rear of the craft while several crewmen worked on the final few preparations for the crafts departure. “But you know how fast weather changes out there.”

“You think those two forgot to set their alarms this morning?” Marshal chuckled following his brother into the shuttle where he was met with a spacious passenger area with individual seats and two control chairs at the front of the craft.

“I wouldn't bet on it.” The twins turned to find Sarah scampering up the steps behind them, in each of her hands were rectangular shaped containers dark gray in color. “How many times have we ever missed a flight like this?”

“Whooo vacation time baby!” Sarah, Tobin and Marshal turned to see Elliot strutting from the bays entrance doors towards the shuttle. “Gonna get me some sun, some water, and all the laziness I've ever wanted.”

“Just don't get too lazy, Elliot. You're my co-pilot for the trip.” Tobin chuckled then turned and slowly made his way to the front of the craft.

Suddenly Elliot bust out laughing. “But between the station and Anexus, you can put 'er on auto-nav' and we can party.” With no other words spoken, the Tobin and Elliot sat in the two front seats as they usually did while Sarah and Marshal flopped down into a set of seats directly behind them. Like always, Tobin slid a head piece into his ear and around the back of his head then adjusted a small mounted microphone inches away from his mouth. As he did, Elliot glanced over several control panels beginning to light up with his flicking of rows of switches. The shuttle hummed and vibrated; Tobin adjusted his grip on the controls and Elliot noted everything on the readouts. “Matter-antimatter reaction is nominal, cooling plasma flow is within tolerance.”

“She is purring like a kitten.” Tobin grinned then pressed a button on the console in front of him. “Control. This is shuttle P-one-seven; we're reading green across the board and are awaiting clearance for departure.”

'Rodger that.' A familiar deep voice echoed through Tobin's earpiece. 'Allow shuttle C-three-five to pass, wait thirty seconds and proceed out at two hundred KPH.'

“Understood.” Tobin nodded even though he knew nobody in the control room could see it.

“What's the hold up?” Sarah asked from behind Elliot after glancing around to see the craft still perched on its skids.

Tobin gave a quick glance over his shoulder then back to a wrap around glass screen in front of him. “Priority traffic, we're stuck in the cue until the path is clear.”

--- --- ---

Tobin, Marshal, Sarah and Elliot emerged from the rear hatch of the shuttle craft as it sat perched on its landing skids. Around them, thick forests gave way to a massive clearing, in the far distance, caws of a bird like species echoed reminding the group of their isolation. To the left side of the shuttle, edges of a small lake gently lapped at a grass boundary separating ground from water. For a few moments, the group of four stood silent while looking around; it wasn't until Elliot thrust a pointing finger towards the lake that the silent stillness was broken.

“Last one in the water is a Gumarian leech!” Elliot shouted with a chuckle mere seconds before taking off in a full sprint towards the lake.

“Get back here!” Tobin shouted charging after him, instantly Sarah and Marshal followed them as fast as they could. Seeing Elliot taking one final sprinting step off the grass and going into a diving lunge, Tobin slowed to a stop intending to gently walk downwards into the water, yet before he knew it, Marshal darted up then grabbed him by the back of his shirt and swung around until both of them splashed into the lake. As the twin brothers surfaced for air Sarah dived in, and as she did, Elliot stood up and lunged straight for Marshal until both were under water once again. With a cackling laugh, Tobin swiped his hair from his face while backing up a couple of steps. “I hereby call this years vacation officially underway!” He smirked then thew his hands down at an angle causing a large splatter of water to spray directly in Sarahs direction. Instantly she shrieked and drew hers arms up while laughing.

Time passed slowly as the group continued splashing around and having fun in the lake. Eventually, though, one by one they emerged from the water to find a sunny spot by the shuttle to dry up and relax. After a long period of quiet thought from the group, Sarah looked around but kept her focus mainly on the twin brothers.

“I think there's something you two need to talk about.” She spoke giving gentle glances between the twins causing Elliot to take notice and give her a questioning glare. “Tobin, you said to me the other day that you think Marshal is an overbearing overly protective person.”

“What!?!” Tobin suddenly shouted while sitting up straight. Within seconds his eyes shifted to Marshal. “I swear I don't know what she's talking about!”

“Marshal. You mentioned to me that you think Tobin is taking unnecessary risks and always putting his life in danger.”

“You swore you weren't going to repeat that!” Marshal stammered shifting his focus between Sarah and his brother.

“You just proved what I thought.” Tobin gasped and shook his head in disbelief. “You just admitted that you're blowing my safety way out of proportion!”

“I'm the overbearing brother!?!” Marshal shouted then stepped to within breathing distance of his twin. “I wouldn't have to be like that if you weren't always so reckless! God do you know how much time I spend every day wondering if you're going do something foolhardy!?!”

“Foolhardy!?!” Tobin snapped just as loud seconds before his hands flew up and gripped Marshals shirt in a tight hold. “Do you know why I dare to take risks? Do you know what its like to have to live on the edge just to feel alive? It's because I only have one life, Marsh, I can live only once! I want to see and do things before my times up and I can't do that with you trying to keep me in a metaphoric box! I'll bet you wanted a change of duties just so you can keep even closer tabs on what I'm doing at any given time...”

“I just don't want you ending up like mom and dad!” Marshal belted out as loud as possible then closed his eyes and lowered his head. Tobin, Sarah and Elliot watched as Marshal raised his hand and wiped it over his eyes then sniffled. With Tobin letting go of his shirt, Marshal slowly raised his head until he stared Tobin eye to tear latent eye then continued albeit in a gentler, quieter tone. “I-I'm just scared that I'm going to lose you, Tobin, you're the only family I've got left. If I lost you, I don't know what I'd do.”

“Bro.” Tobin whispered softly. “I know you're just looking out for me. I just wish you'd understand that I'm not going out of my way to get myself killed.”

“I know Tobin. I know. I-its just that, I'm scared. I know we're both adults, but part of me is still going to see you as the four year old little boy that always cried – cried more than enough for both of us especially since I couldn't express the pain like you could.” Following this, a thick silence fell among the group. That was until Marshal put one hand on Tobin's shoulder while sliding his other hand to the back of Tobin's head. “You're always going to be my little brother; like it or not, I'm always going to watch over you, because I love you as any brother would.”

Without warning Tobin leaned in and wrapped his arms around Marshal in a familial hug. “The reason why I became a shuttle pilot was so I could make mom and dad proud. That's how I keep their memory alive, by following in their footsteps. I didn't start piloting because I've got some death wish, I did it so I could live.”

“You're wrong about one thing bro.” Marshal smirked. “I didn't specifically ask to be put down in the cargo bay. Truth is, I was good at stellar cartography, but my heart just wasn't in it, after about two years I didn't want to do it anymore and my work showed it. I was getting bored and restless so I started copping an attitude with everyone and everything. I wanted out; simple as that. Commander Bishop must have noticed it on crew performance reports because he had one of his little meetings with me during break time; he was just about ready to nail me to the bulkheads until I explained everything. He caught up with me the next day and said that they were short handed on cargo handlers and that replacements weren't expected for at least another week so he suggested I give it a try. I did; I tried it...and I liked it. It was an physically active assignment which had a lot in common with cartography. Up on deck fifteen I was organizing data, in the cargo bay I'm organizing assignments; up there I was making maps, down there I'm making pallets. But there's one big difference...” Marshal paused and grinned. “...I'm moving around the cargo bay and not sitting staring at displays for twelve hours on end – I like being a cargo handler. Its just a coincidence that we're working that close together.”

--- --- ---

The darkness of night was broken by an orange glow of a warm crackling fire in a pit surrounded by a ring of rocks. Just as they usually did, Marshal sat between Tobin and Elliot with Sarah perched across from him – all sitting on bits of fallen tree trunk. Crackling pops of the fire was the only sound as the group watched orange flames dancing towards the black sky riddled with countless stars.

“It is pretty nice to be out here and leave everything back on the space station.” Elliot was the first one to break the silence even though he spoke in gentle tones.

“I don't know what the future holds.” Marshal nodded. “But I'm glad I can be spending this time with you guys. There are times when we've almost been in fist fights with each other, but its times like this that I'm glad we're all able to do this and have fun while doing it.”

“Its funny.” Tobin chuckled. “Even though Marsh and I are the only ones related by blood, it feels like the four of us are our own family. I mean, heck, we've grown up together on the space station. We've all gone to the exact same school classes and we even eat our meals together. Our duties are the only things that we haven't done together, yet, we always somehow see each other.”

“I just can't help but wonder if Admiral Locke is finally going to take some down time himself. I know that if he didn't, Medical Master Chief Kretts was gonna pull rank.”

Elliot suddenly sat up while shifting his glare to Sarah. “The M.M.C. can pull rank even on an admiral?”

“Of course.” Sarah nodded. “In health issues, even though I'm a junior doctor, I can pull rank on Locke if the situation calls for it. Then again, that's if the M.M.c. is nowhere to be found. And we have to have a good reason to do it.”

“So what happens if two doctors had to relieve a captain or an admiral of duty? Like, which doctor would get to do it?” Marshal asked raising an eyebrow.

“In that scenario, protocol acknowledges the doctor that has seniority.” Sarah smiled. “Meaning, amount of time spent as a doctor. Say for example, if it was between me and the M.M.C., he would get it. But, if it was between me and another junior doctor, whomever has more time under their belt would get.”

“That makes sense in a way.” Tobin smiled then glanced upwards. “Man. Imagine this is what our ancestors saw and went through every day. Living off the land, relying on skills and the most primitive of tools to survive, and the black sky dotted with limitless stars.”

Sarah slowly leaned over until her head rested on Tobin's shoulder. “Kind of puts things in perspective doesn't it. We're living in the lap of luxury compared to what our ancestors had. They didn't have fancy replicators or space ships or a civil society where crime is practically non existent. To them, every meal was a feast, every shelter a mansion and every fire a place for them to gather.”

“And they also lived to be thirty...maybe forty if they were lucky.” Marshal chuckled and shook his head.

“Say what you will; they were resourceful.” Elliot scoffed with a smirk.
 

Tripped

Est. Contributor
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629
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Adult Baby, Babyfur, Other
Shuttle P-one seven glided silently through space. Inside the craft, however, it was anything but silent as Tobin, Marshal, Sarah and Elliot joked around and chatted about various topics. To the group, their three days on Anexus Prime was a much needed vacation from the daily grind aboard the space station; and even though they knew their time away was coming to an end, their spirits were well raised. For the twins Tobin and Marshal, the time away from the station was more than just a chance to relax. For them, it was a time to walk through thick forests and say what they wanted and needed to say. Even as Tobin piloted the craft with subtle movements of his left hand, his mind returned to the talks he had with Marshal as they strolled side by side through the thick brush well away from Sarah and Elliot.

No sooner had the group fallen into a common silence than three tones beeped from the console between Tobin and Elliot, and just as he always did, Tobin glanced over the panel to a flashing display reading 'proximity'. Seeing this, Tobin sat upright in his seat and readjusted his headset.

“Well, that was fun. While it lasted.” Elliot sighed and pressed a few buttons to illuminate the shuttles exterior lights.

“There's always next year.” Tobin chuckled with a quick glance to Elliot then back to the wrap around window. “Star Base Zenon. This is shuttle P-one-seven requesting clearance for docking.” After a moment of silence from his headset, Tobin raised an eyebrow with a head tilt. “Star Base Zenon. This is shuttle P-one-seven requesting docking clearance.”

“Maintaining holding pattern.” Elliot muttered and pressed a couple of buttons on the console before him.

“Star Base Zenon! Wake up and smell the burning coffee; you've got traffic in holding. Squawk this transmission!”

“Maybe they're on break?” Elliot glanced over to Tobin.

Tobin shook his head while giving Elliot and equally quick glance. “Nah. Someones always on watch – even during break time. Maybe if I tried...” He trailed off and reached over to press a lone blue button at his left side. “...a shortwave subspace ping. Pax should pick up the signal and auto-clear us for docking.”

Time passed by silently as Tobin awaited for computerized authorization to land, in the stillness, Elliot rested his head on his hand propped up by his arm resting on the console. Behind them, Marshal rapped his fingers against his seats arm rest while Sarah slouched down in her own seat. After the passage of five minutes, Tobin again shook his head but this time with both eyebrows raised. “That dogs not barking either. Somethings not right; I'm going to take us around for a little look at the station.”

Everyone leaned in close to stare through the crafts wrap around window as Tobin skillfully maneuvered the shuttle around the space station. Surveying the structure, Elliot shook his head in disbelief. “Well Tobs, when you're right you're right. I've never seen the station in a full blackout. What the heck happened here!?!”

“Escape pods are gone too!” Marshal called out while pointing to vacant slots all over the station.

“Maybe they had a core breach while we were gone?” Sarah asked almost too quietly to be heard.

“Impossible.” Elliot shook his head 'no'. “If there was a core breach they would have ejected the whole thing. There are five levels of fail-safes so it would be a serious snafu if the power core experienced structural failure inside the station. And even if they did dump the core, I'd see residual ion radiation from impulse drives attached to the assembly...but these readings are saying everything's just fine. Not a stray molecule.”

“Maybe they're running an escape drill?” Marshal asked.

“The wouldn't eject the pods.” Tobin countered. “And it doesn't look like any shuttles are left in the docking bay either.”

“I say we find a nice quiet entrance and go exploring.” Marshal grinned roughing up Tobins shoulder.

“Too risky!” Tobin shifted his glare to his twin brother long enough to get the point across. “We don't know what's going on and without further information we'd be putting our lives in jeopardy.” After saying this, Tobin pressed several control buttons putting the craft into autopilot mode while keeping the holding pattern around the station.

“That's the thing though, Tobin.” Sarah sighed. “If something happened and we missed it, there might be crewmen that need medical assistance; if that's the case, we're obligated to help out.”

“Which puts us at risk if something else happens while we're there. Too dangerous. Not doing it.” Tobin huffed and crossed his arms.

Suddenly Elliot scoffed. “Then we make a compromise. We dock with the station at an emergency hatch then we'll run some scans and try to interface the shuttles computer with Pax to see what happened. If its safe to go, we'll go help out. If its not safe, we'll wait in orbit.”

“I'm cool with that.” Marshal spoke up.

“Me too.” Sarah chimed in agreement.

“All right.” Tobin frowned. “Since I've been outvoted on this one, I'll dock. BUT I want active scans and a full computer-to-computer interface before that hatch moves even a centimeter.” Following his statement, Tobin disengaged the autopilot and manually controlled the craft on the approach to an emergency hatch located towards the stations lower decks. “Elliot; give me some readings because I'm going to have to do this using reverse thrusters, and I've never done it in a ship this size before.”

“Right. Twenty meters and closing.” Elliot muttered as he kept a watchful glare on the console in front of him. “Ten meters, nice and easy. Five meters. Slow it down a bit; four meters, three, two.”

“Should be right about...” Before Tobin could continue, the shuttle craft jarred to an abrupt halt, its frame shaking for a few seconds before settling down once again. “...there. Okay Mr. Engineer, its up to you whether or not its safe to continue.” He turned to Elliot then pressed a few buttons to reduce engine power to idle settings.

With nothing more than a smirk, Elliot stood from the copilots seat. “You did that on purpose.” He then moved towards the rear of the craft where he paused at a row of display panels. Slowly, he raised his hands and started pressing various spots on the illuminated screens receiving various tones in return. As Sarah, Marshal and Tobin watched him working, Elliot turned towards them. “News is, that life support is at minimal standards, so are internal sensors; from what I've seen, it looks like its safe to proceed. Bad news is, we still don't know what happened because life support and partial sensors are the only things working right now, so the ships computer can't interface with Pax...because Pax just isn't there.”

“This now falls under security jurisdiction.” Marshal grunted then stood and moved to a row of closed cabinets. After opening a few doors, he retrieved several hand held phaser type weapons and tossed them to the rest of the group. With everyone armed, he then grabbed a small bag filled with bright red egg shaped devices and handed it to Tobin. “I want everyone armed and on guard! Keep your eyes and ears open.” Following this, he then went into another cabinet and tossed wrist mounted light packs around to everyone. “We stick together. We check out the armories, the command deck, engineering and the mess hall. Hopefully we'll get some answers along the way.”

“Armories are located throughout the entire station.” Sarah spoke out just loud enough to be heard. “Right now we're docked on deck twenty three, engineering is on deck eighteen, mess hall is on deck thirteen and command is decks three through one. That's a lot of space to cover.”

“Yeah, but those locations are all bunkers - places people go if something happens so if there's still people here, that's where they'll be.” Marshal cornered mirroring Sarahs tone. “And checking the weapons holds will allow us to inventory the stashes to see if there's anything missing; and a way to arm ourselves even better.” Before anything else could be said, he reached over and tapped a few buttons on a panel next to the rear hatch causing it to hiss open into a darkened corridor that was eerily silent.

Everything beyond the glow of the shuttles lighting was darker than anything either of them had seen before; to Tobin, it was darker than pitch black. “I just don't know about this...” Tobin whispered with Marshal and Sarah stepping down the shuttles ramp first with Tobin following and Elliot bringing up the rear. “...this is how my nightmares usually start...”
 

Tripped

Est. Contributor
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629
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Adult Baby, Babyfur, Other
Step by step, turn by turn, the group made their way through deadly still passages until they came to a pair of partially opened doors marked with 'Engineering' in bold letters on a white background. Marshal slid his hands into the opening, and with all of his might, forced the doors into the walls far enough for everyone to slip in one at a time. “What the...?” He muttered while holding his arm out and panning the wrist-mounted light pack from side to side.

“Is this someone's idea of a prank?” Elliot glanced to his friends and reached out picking up a handful of white, fluffy, sticky strands of an unknown material that covered everything around them from the walls to the computer consoles in the center of the space.

“Mold?” Sarah asked as she leaned in to study the fluff. “Can't be. The structure isn't right. Maybe some kind of fungus?”

“I say we get back to the shuttle.” Tobin's breathing hastened. “We've already been through five decks, and we haven't found anyone or anything yet. And now, we find this...whatever it is covering all of engineering.”

“Calm down, bro.” Marshal turned back to his twin. “Now we have more questions than answers so we have to keep going; I get it, you're scared, deep down, we're all a little scared so just take a few deep breaths and think about-”

“What the...!?!” Tobin shouted while pointing his light pack towards an opening in the bulkheads on the other end of the space.

“What? What is it!” Marshal drew his phaser weapon and took aim where his brother pointed causing Sarah and Elliot to do the same. For a few seconds, Tobin gasped with his hands tingling and a sudden lightheaded feeling.

“In the core; something moved! It was big, like a huge monster!”

Sarah glanced between Tobin and the opening leading to the star base power core then to everything around them. “Are you sure? It's pitch black in there so maybe your eyes were playing tricks on you?”

“Positive.” Tobin grunted and shook his head 'yes'. “I know what I saw, and it was something big moving around in there.”

“Let's check it out then.” Marshal spun in place while preparing his weapon for whatever he might encounter; without another word spoken, he started walking with Elliot and Sarah following leaving Tobin silently whimpering – unsure if he should move them or make a mad run back to the shuttle. When they reached halfway, Tobin whined and scuttled along until he caught up to them. The group of four moved silently, carefully from one space to another; when they entered the core, they were met with a large hexagonal tube that went through several decks above them. Just like in the previous room, thick webbing covered all of the surfaces. “I don't know what you saw bro, there's nothing here but computer stations and the energy core.” Marshal spoke glaring over his shoulder to Tobin whom cautiously entered making sure to sweep the beams of light from the pack on his wrist.

Elliot wiped the surfaces of several panels at the base of the core causing a few of them to flicker to life adding faint tints of reds, blues, and yellows to the sea of blackness and muted colors around them. After pressing a few buttons on the touch screens, he glanced to the core and noticed the faintest of purple hues glowing from within the vertical structure. “Let's see if we can get some power going again.” He spoke to himself before pressing a few more buttons receiving only buzzing tones in response. He then tried another series of inputs only to receive the same tones.

“What's up?” Sarah asked as she stepped to Elliot's side watching what he was doing.

“Something very odd.” He trailed off as Marshal approached making sure to keep an eye on the space around them. “The core has been set to standby power.”

“Did the system do it automatically?” Marshal questioned while watching Elliot work.

Elliot smirked. “Normally yes it would be automatic. But, and this is a big but, someone took PAX offline and set the core to standby power, and not only that, but they also locked out the controls using a code thirteen protocol.”

“Code thirteen?” Marshal tilted his head.

“Code thirteen is the rank of captain or above. Why they would pull such a command on a space station I don't know, but it never happens. The only way to get things working again is by finding whomever it was that locked it all down, and getting them to come back and unlock it. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm starting to wonder if getting back to the shuttle is such a bad idea.”

“Lets get up to deck eighteen.” Marshal once again glanced around. “If we can check out the mess hall, we might get a better idea of what we're dealing with.”

“Sick bay is right around the corner from the mess hall. That'll be a location to get to, we should find some answers there.” Sarah nodded. With this, both Marshal and Elliot nodded in silent agreement.

--- --- ---

“Are you ready?” Elliot asked giving a quick glance to those around him. Before the group of four, another pair of metallic doors sat partially opened, the words 'Mess Hall' were embossed in black lettering on a white background. Carefully, he reached his hands into the doors opening and grunted and mumbled while forcing the doors apart until they fully retracted into the walls with a near silent hiss. Slowly, the group of four made their way into the pitch black mess hall. Within the first few steps into the space, Tobin paused and focused his light pack upon a table and four chairs toppled over, on the table were three metallic serving trays with two sets of utensils; on each tray were various amounts of food. One tray was nearly full, the second was nearly empty, the third tray still was about half full with a fork sticking out of the food.

“It happened fast, whatever it was.” Elliot pointed to the table Tobin studied.

“I'd say.” Sarah called out from behind a serving line separating the prep area from the massive eating area. “There's still food on the hot plates.”

“So...” Marshal went past rows of tables and toppled chairs. “...people were eating, some were just finishing, some just beginning; something caused them to get up and run. But why? Was it a sudden attack? Was it a hull breach? Was it the order to abandon the station?”

“Not an attack.” Tobin shook his head 'no'. “There would have been scorch marks and holes in the station.”

“We can rule out a hull breach. There's a web of security force fields for just such an event.” Elliot mumbled as he tried a few more touch screen panels.

“That leaves the order to abandon the station.” Sarah slowly approached the group with Tobin stepping backwards towards the doors they entered through. “We still need to figure out what that stuff is down in engineering. So let's get to sickbay-” Before she could say anything else a blood curdling scream rang out from behind them towards the doors. Marshal, Elliot and Sarah suddenly drew their weapons while spinning around just in time to see Tobin disappearing through the doors.

“Bro!” Marshal shouted out and took off running towards where his brother just was causing Sarah and Elliot to do the same. Once in the corridor, all three focused their lights towards the far end of the hall still catching glimpses of Tobin moving quickly while screaming in pain. “We're coming bro!” He again shouted and took off running.
 

Tripped

Est. Contributor
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629
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Adult Baby, Babyfur, Other
Silence. Marshal spun in place several times trying to figure in which of the three junctions his twin brother was taken. Frantically, he wiped his hand down his face while muttering a few choice words. “Marsh. Look!” Sarah pointed down to the carpet lining the corridors floors and several dark, wet spots trailing down the path to their left. Before they could take off running again, a few loud yet distant phaser bursts pierced the silence and muted their heavy breathing.

“Let's go!” Marshal shouted, taking off running again. His hands wrapped around the handle of his weapon, his breathing and pulse raced, his mind raged with thousands of thoughts a second, yet the only thing he could truly focus on was getting his brother back while making sure Elliot, Sarah, and himself stayed out of harms way. Just as they reached the end of the long corridor that turned at a sharp angle a loud explosion thundered, rattling the walls around them and the floor under them causing the trio to turn in place and drop to the floor. For a few seconds, darkness gave way to brilliant shades of oranges, golds, yellows, and reds. Just as fast as it happened, the blackness returned with its accompanying silence.

“You guys okay?” Elliot asked as he pulled his arms from over his head.

“I'm good, I think.” Sarah rolled onto her back and sat up to survey whatever damage might be around them. Both she and Elliot watched as Marshal slowly made it to his hands and knees then carefully began crawling towards the corner, pausing at the edge of the wall before peering around to find the hall covered in thick goop, char marks and Tobin sitting with his back against the wall.

“Tobin!” Marshal called out while making it to his feet and running for his brother, in response, Tobin retained a blank stare at the wall across from him.

“I...” Tobin whispered before he dropped the bag of red egg shape devices. “...I-had to-” His tone turned from whispering to whimpering as his right arm raised and pointed to the remains of a large creature that had been blown apart from the inside.

“That's all right, Toby, you did what you had to do.” Marshal smiled softly, looking over his brother while gently running his hand through Tobin's hair even though his twin still stared at the wall. “You stopped that monster thing from eating you for lunch; not only that, we now have something to study and try to defend ourselves against.”

“Tobin!” Sarah shouted as she ran up to him then stopped and dropped to her knees at his side.

“Phaser, no, work.” Tobin mumbled aloud while Sarah looked over his entire body taking note of every injury she could see. “Button, boom, work.”

Sarah glanced over to Marshal. “We NEED to get him to sickbay now!”

“How bad is it?” Marshal leaned in closer.

“There's the concussion blast of the pulse grenade that's rattled his body, more importantly, there's that gash that went right through his leg making him bleed out...and fast...”

“Okay, Sarah, you take his right side, I'll take his left.” Marshal stood and took Tobin's slime covered hand within his own and draped his brother's arm over his own shoulders with Sarah doing the same on the opposite side. “Elliot; grab whatever you can of that...thing...and bring it with us.”

“Thing, eat, boom, goo, everywhere.” Tobin continued speaking in short, forced words.

--- --- ---

Marshal paced back and forth in the main space of the sickbay, Tobin lay silent and perfectly still on a single person bed along the far wall – most of the right leg of his pants ripped away, Sarah worked feverishly with Elliot standing by her while holding two light packs at various angles so she could see what she was doing. “Hey, Marsh.” She called out causing him to pause in mid-step and shift his focus towards her. “That big machine over there, right-hand side, third shelf down, there should be some emergency kits. Can you bring both of them over here, please?” Hearing this, Marshal nodded with a lone grunting 'yeah' before darting over to where Sarah motioned with her head. Almost immediately he returned with both cases she asked for then set them on the bed between Tobin's legs and opened them revealing high tech gizmos in thick foam padding.

“H-how's it coming?” He asked, noticing a reddish tint on Sarah's hands.

“I think I'm going to need another week off duty after this.” She sighed while reaching over and picking up a circular device then brought it over a gaping slice at the top of Tobin's thigh. Marshal watched as the perimeter of the device glowed pale green and hummed almost too quietly to be heard. “I'm doing unbelievably delicate surgery without the aid of pretty much all of the tools I'd normally use, and not having someone that knows medical sciences to co-pilot...so to speak...means I'm doing everything. Good news is I've stopped all the bleeding. I can't even begin to tell you just how lucky he really is, another few centimeters to the right and whatever sliced through his leg would have blown right through the femoral artery. He would have been dead before we could have even gotten him here.”

“Yeah, lucky...” Marshal mumbled then turned around. Sarah only gave him a quick glance before continuing her work. “...he's lucky you're doing the work and nobody else. Because anyone else would've just patched 'em up and been done with it. You're taking your time and making sure everything's right. I guess I'm going to go study that thing over there.” At this, even Elliot glanced at Marshal then shrugged.

Time passed silently. It wasn't until Sarah heaved a heavy sigh, packed all the medical tools she used back in their cases, and closed the kits that she finally allowed herself to relax. “Thanks for giving me some light there.” She spoke to Elliot who nodded in response.

“Yeah, no problem.” He gave a gentle smile. “You did some pretty genius work there.” Without another word spoken, both of them looked down to Tobin still lying unconscious on the bed then to Marshal crouching down next to the remains of the carcass Elliot brought in. Maintaining their silence, they strolled over to Marshal; even though they stood next to him, it seemed he didn't even notice they were there.

“Hey.” Sarah reached out, gently placing her hand on Marshal's shoulder. “He'll be out of it for a while. When he does come to, we've got to make sure he doesn't move around too much. When he can get up and move around, we're packing up and getting back to the shuttle and getting the hell out of here.”

“Which is what we should have done in the first place,” Marshal grunted, not turning around to look at either Sarah or Elliot. “It's my...our fault that he's in this situation to begin with. If we had just bailed after we checked out engineering, none of this would have happened, but we kept going even though there were plenty of obvious signs that we shouldn't.”

Elliot crouched down on one knee until he was face to face with Marshal. “But we couldn't have known any of this was going to happen.”

“Damn it!” Marshal suddenly shouted, punching the floor. “I'm always so worried about his safety. I'm always watching out for him, always trying to protect him from the dangerous things in life; and look what happens, I do something so stupid that he almost gets killed! He's never going to forgive me for the rest of his life!”

“Us...” Sarah spoke softly, kneeling down, noticing the trickles of tears streaking down Marshal's cheeks. “...it wasn't just you that screwed up, we all did. We outvoted him, we decided to keep going even though he was the only one with enough brains to say we've gone far enough. We're all in this mess equally, and it's up to us to get out of it-” A sudden series of thumps echoing from the closed doors drew everyone's attention, not sure what to expect, everyone drew their weapons and turned towards the doors. Silence fell upon them followed by another few thumps, these though, were closer, harder, more defined.

“Sarah, get over to Tobin and stay out of sight,” Marshal whispered and motioned with a nod towards his twin. “Elliot, take the left side of the door and stay low. I'm going high on the right side!” No sooner had they quietly darted to their places than the doors slowly opened with a ghostly hiss; before he could even see what was on the other side of the doors cracked open, Marshal reached out with his plasma weapon turning a bright blue reaching full power.

“What the hell is going on here...!?!” The deep, gruff, aged voice pierced the silence. “You get that thing out of my face before I break your arm off and beat you over the head with it!”

“Admiral Locke?” Elliot called out while withdrawing his weapon and poking his head around the corner just far enough to find an older man with thinning white hair contrasting the all-black uniform he wore. Three silver stripes seemed to glow silently indicating his rank.

“Boy do you two have some explaining to do. Now let me in, I've got a few of those creatures coming my way, and fast!” Admiral Locke grunted through the opening of the door.
 
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