“Ring of Fire, part II”

Stardate 74463.8; June 18, 2397


Episode 61


Written by Chris Adamek




Chapter Six








As he descended into the cool, clammy turbolift shaft, Alan Christopher could still feel the Starlight trembling.  For a brief moment, he feared the Garidians or the Velora had opened fire, but the thought quickly fizzled.  The Garidians had already boarded the ship; if they were to attack now, they risked slaughtering all of their people—and Christopher had a distinct feeling that the Garidians were not stupid.


With an attack presently out of the question, Christopher was left with few other causes for the mysterious trembling—none of them good.  The most obvious was the hull breach on decks one, two, and three.  If it was about to expand, the ship would definitely be shaking—and given the current dearth in power, there were no containment fields to stop the breach from growing.  Christopher just hoped it waited until he vacated the shaft before expanding, for he had little desire to plummet to a painful death at the bottom.


He briefly glanced downward to see how much further he needed to descend before coming upon the horizontal junction with deck two.  Though it couldn’t have been much more than two meters below, Christopher cringed at the sight. Each and every time he moved his left hand, his swollen wrist seemed to scream with pain—and considering the ship could toss him to his death at any moment, Christopher didn’t dare scale that ladder with just one hand.


Moving steadily—but slowly—Christopher continued his descent, making certain his grip on the rungs was tight.  He could already hear Jayla Trinn and Flora Sanders conferring in the horizontal tube.  They spoke of Neelar Drayge’s condition—which was undoubtedly worsening with each passing moment.  When he helped the others get Neelar to safety, Christopher had briefly gleaned the wound on the young Bolian’s back, and it looked nasty.  Obviously, they needed to get to sickbay—and as Christopher moved his left arm, he soon realized the sooner they got there, the better.


After struggling with the ladder for a few additional moments, Christopher finally reached the horizontal junction.  He quickly grabbed Jayla Trinn’s extended hand, pulled himself inside, and expelled a considerable sigh of relief.  “You know, I could have been an archaeologist.”


Trinn flashed him a faint smile.  A few years ago, there had been some… unpleasantness between the two of them, but as Jayla removed the sleek black tricorder from her belt, Christopher was glad to see that time really did heal all wounds.  “The bridge is a complete vacuum,” she determined after a moment of study.  “And your arm is…”


“Thoroughly broken,” Christopher confirmed.  Over the course of his career, he had crashed into the floor dozens of times without incident.  But this time was different.  “It appears to be a compound fracture; both the ulna and radius are snapped.”


Jayla cringed.  “Ouch.”


Given the concerned look upon her face, Jayla was about to suggest they do something, but Christopher dismissed the notion before she had a chance to say anything.  “I’ll be okay,” he assured her.  “How are Drayge and Marizex?”


“Steven should be okay,” said Flora Sanders as she studied her tricorder readings of Marizex.  “He has a few broken ribs and a cracked humorous, but nothing serious.”


“I don’t know what is wrong with Drayge,” Trinn said a moment later.  “His problems are beyond my tricorder’s ability to diagnose.  That probably means that whatever is wrong is pretty bad.”


Christopher shook his head.  No good Garidians…  “We need to get to sickbay,” he said, reaffirming his earlier sentiment—only now it was a bit more urgent. 


An instant later, he was on his feet heading into the bowels of the ship, followed closely by the injured Steven Marizex.  Trinn and Sanders gently scooped Neelar Drayge from the deck, and joined the rest of the group a few moments later. 


…And just as they vacated their position, a slimy twig-like tendril began to creep across the deck…




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