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Cmdr. Evan Merlin | Down Below

Posted on Thu Aug 20th, 2020 @ 11:05pm by Commander Evan Merlin

Mission: When The Circus Comes To Town
Location: Cold Station Theta, lower levels
Timeline: Sd 242008.20

It was the night before the delegates from the Interstellar Cultural Exhibition and Exchange would arrive, and as usual the station's CO wandered through the station. He required very little sleep, and rather than remaining in bed and staring up at the ceiling, he usually spent his nights taking midnight strolls. Sometimes he went to the Promenade and sat in a restaurant or café, talking to people there. At other times he chatted with the night shift of various departments, people he would otherwise rarely see, if at all.

This night he had started in the arboretum, that vast space in the middle of the station with an ecosphere all of its own. Part of it was the location where the Exhibition would take place and even at this hour it was still a beehive of activity. People were running around, methodically yet frantically, trying to get everything finished and in tip top shape for tomorrow.
He had spent all of five minutes there, then turned around and left them to work in peace. The last thing the people there needed now was their CO breathing down their necks.

So now he was wandering deep in the bowels of the station, the places were people rarely came, and where he was free to let his mind wander. It wandered indeed, jumping from topic to topic, until his thoughts came to an abrupt halt. Somewhere, something stood out, but at first he didn't know what.

Then he realised. It wasn't a something, it was the absence of something. It was like a sudden bubble of silence in a sea of sound. Even down here, he could faintly sense the presence of the thousands of people who were on this station – living here, passing through, they were all part of a landscape which lived maybe wholly in his imagination, but which he always experienced as a constant presence, same as the sound of the great machines which kept this station alive. But here, this sense of presence was missing.

He could still hear the faint sounds of the station which told him she was still ticking along as she ought to be, could still feel the minute vibrations under his feet. No, the station was just fine. It was just this weird sense that he was all alone.
He frowned and took a few steps back. That odd sensation disappeared. Curiouser and curiouser.

What could cause such a thing? This sense of his… He had rarely thought about it, it was just something that was part of him, like his sea-coloured eyes and his wild hair and his tendency to talk too much. But it seemed to be a strange version of telepathy, or empathy, or maybe something which was distantly related to both.

He took a few steps forward and the bubble was there again. He stepped forward cautiously, alert to anything out of the ordinary – but not quite alert enough.

For the corridor widened into a room, a place which had been used for storage in a distant past. There were old crates here and containers, some empty, some filled with stuff which was used so rarely that it was just shoved down here and all but forgotten. Some lines in the dusty section of the station's register indicated that this was here and that people hadn't been down here in years.

So even though he was cautious, walked quietly and looked around, his traiterous mind kept insisting this place was empty and therefore safe, right up to the moment that someone jumped out from between two containers, stabbed him with a knife and hissed "Gotcha!"

As he sagged to the ground, he saw others. An Orion, a Ferengi, and a few not so easily identifyable persons. The person who stabbed him nodded to a young man, hardly more than a teenager, and slapped him on the back. "Good work, kid. Thanks for the warning."

The kid stared back at him with fearful eyes. "You'll let me go, then?"

"In time, kid, in time. We need to hustle first."

The Orion walked over, pressed his fingers against the fallen man's neck and grunted. "Good stab. Straight through the heart."
"I know my skills." The attacker said coldly. With a swift move, he grabbed the comm badge from the dying man's chest. "That'll delay them. Now move!"

And just like that, they were gone.

"Yeah, straight through the heart, no kidding." He had collapsed against one of the crates and now sat sagged against it, staring down sadly at the knife in his chest. "Good thing I have a spare." He sighed softly and looked around, searching for anything on the crate that could serve as a handhold. He continued to mutter as he twisted around, ever so slowly, and reached for one. "Ouch. Ow. That really hurts. Now I have to get up too. Oh, this is fun-" He groaned softly as he pulled himself up.

For a few moments he stood leaning against the crate, trying to regain his breath. Then he sighed again, a weak, reedy sound. "I don't think staying here… is a good idea," he muttered. That weird bubble was gone, which hopefully meant the people who had attacked him were gone was well. But without his comm badge, he couldn't call for help, which meant that he had to reach the nearest computer panel which would allow him to communicate.

The one in the wall of this chamber had been disabled, that was clear. Safe to assume that other comm panels would have met the same fate. But unless this crew wanted to climb a long way up to station levels where they could get lost in the crowd, they needed to use the turbo lift. And that meant they had to leave those panels whole. Which meant that all he had to do was to go to the nearest turbo lift and he'd be safe.

"The only problem is that it's not… exactly around the corner," he croaked. Then he pushed away from the crate and took a few staggering steps. There was the wall near the corridor he had come out of. He gratefully sagged against it. "Hello lovely," he muttered. "How 'bout this. You keep me up and I keep moving, deal?"

The lovely wall didn't reply, which he took as a good sign. He began to move again, one hand pressed against the wall, the other one against his chest. His remaining heart beat weakly, trying to do its best to keep his blood pumping, trying to keep him alive at all costs.

"How do they do it?" he murmured. "I mean, humans, Andorians, Vulcans… they all have one heart… Seems to work fine… for them I mean…" He moved slowly, much slower than he liked. "I don't think… it's working out… that well for me."

The wall ended. Well, it continued at the other side of the corridor he now had to cross, but that corridor seemed impossibly wide. He gave the wall a friendly pat. "It was great… while it lasted…" he muttered, "but alas… we must part ways." He pushed himself away from the wall and staggered to the one across him.

He didn't quite make it. Before he reached the other side, his knees gave way. Fortunately, he was close enough to grab it before he could fall full-length to the floor. The world around him greyed out for a bit.

"Okay," he muttered when the colours returned. "Okay. How 'bout getting up?" He tried to push against the wall and get on his feet, but his knees refused to cooperate. "C'mon, knees, work with me," he muttered and pushed. Again the world greyed out, and this time it took a lot longer before some colours returned, and they were fainter than before. "Ugh. Leave me… to do it alone… right? Right." If walking didn't work, then crawling would have to do.

He had no idea how long that bizarre trip lasted. Crawling on his knees and one hand, the other one still pressed against his chest. Sometimes the world greyed out again, sometimes everything just seemed to float away in a cloud of fireflies, but somehow he kept moving, talking to himself, dragging himself along by sheer force of will. Until at last he stopped.
Why had he stopped? He didn't know, but when he tried to urge himself on he couldn't. Something was blocking his way. He looked up. Two doors, currently locked, but they could open… If only he could touch that panel right beside it.
Panel. Yes. Something something panel.

Memory slowly kicked in. Yes. Use panel to call people. Get help.

Get help sounded like a great idea.

It took him three tries before he finally could touch the panel, and there were a few very long seconds before he finally heard a voice.

"Commander Merlin… here." He barely recognised his own voice, weak, hoarse, barely louder than a whisper. "Medical emergency…"

His hand fell away. He tried to stay awake but his eyes kept wanting to close. A voice came from lightyears away, it was talking to him but he had no idea what they were saying. "Come get me," he said, or he thought he said.

He was still awake, but barely, when the doors of the turbolift opened. And then there were people, and voices, and a whirlwind of chaos with him at the centre.

He closed his eyes.

=/\= Commander Evan 'Ouch Time' Merlin
Commanding Officer
Cold Station Theta


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