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When The Holodeck's Stacked Against You, part one

Posted on Sat Oct 9th, 2021 @ 3:15am by Lieutenant Osher Shouwei
Edited on on Wed Jan 12th, 2022 @ 5:14pm

Mission: Interlude
Location: Holodeck One

As the XO rounded the corner he found a half dozen security personnel seemingly loitering in the hall outside the holodeck, all of them looked more than a little pensive. One turned and spotted Archie and said aloud, "Hello, Commander!" which caused the others to turn and stand straighter. Before anyone could say anything the holodeck doors cycled open and a young ensign marched out, stiff backed, and stalked off down the hall without saying a word.

"Next!" a voice called out from within the holodeck. When no one moved Osher poked his head out the door. He took note of the XO and almost smiled.

"Commander!" he said, "How are you doing? How can I help you?"

Archie was a little confused by what he saw. He kept glancing around expecting someone to come forward and explain but no one did. Then a head appeared from the holodeck. "Lieutenant Shouwei, what's going on?" He asked, remembering that that name had been mentioned by the Captain as one to watch.

"Oh, this?" Osher nodded to the security personnel, "I am conducting a test to gauge their abilities," he glanced about at the others and frowned, "So far I have not been impressed with their performance."

Then he brightened, "Come in, please! I am rather proud of what I put together."

After the holodeck doors closed behind them Osher said, "Computer, prep Escort Mission One!"

The holodeck became a dark and gloomy broad corridor, arrayed before the pair were a series of humanoids in older era Starfleet uniforms. Their faces were almost featureless, with tiny black doll-like eyes that blinked a lot, no nostrils and slits for mouths. The one at the end wore command red, which sported a handlebar mustache.

"Identify yourselves!" Osher commanded.

"I am an engineer!" the one in yellow piped up, holding up an ancient wrench, "I make things go!"

"I am a science officer!" the next one squeaked as it held up a tricorder and waved it about, "Science is-oooooh!" it waved the tricorder over the head of the third.

"I am a doctor!" the third said as it held up a handful of old style bandages, "I kiss boo-boos!"

"Harumph!" the last one with the mustache said, scowling, "I am in command! Harumph!"

"It is an escort mission," Osher explained, "The security personnel have to get these four to the exit. So far the fatalities stand at a hundred percent. Even I normally can only get two to safety..."

"Harumph!"

"And that is usually if I let the commander die first..."

Archie eyes widened at what he saw. "So basically, you're running your own version of the Kobayashi Maru?"

"An apt comparison," Osher acknowledged, "In theory it is possible to get all four to safety, but you have to get every aspect of the exercise correct, but subtle changes occur every time. I am attempting two things; to determine my people's level of patience and their ability to respond quickly to the unexpected. So far I am detecting a high level of stress. The original program used to be more difficult; I had a flight control officer who liked to run around in circles with his arms out, yelling 'swoosh!' and 'vroom!'."

"No wonder your team is stressed. Have they had any sort of training for this scenario?" Archie asked. He didn't might a Department chief pushing their team to do and be better but he felt you needed to give something to them first before they reply in the correct way.

"Not really, Commander," Osher replied, "Oh, they are given the basics; phaser training, watch corners and doors," a smile almost crossed his face, "Always look up as well as down. But escorting uncooperative personnel? No, it never crossed anyone's mind at the Academy that any of their graduates might prove to be difficult in the field. Don't worry, once I am done I will let everyone see how many times I failed. In fact, everyone will get to see-"

A large creature came scrambling around the corner. Glistening black, looking vaguely arachnid in shape, with a bulbous rear body and a moving with amazing speed across the deck on six legs. The two remaining legs mounted on the torso possessed vicious spikes, was topped by a spider's head with huge mandibles.

"Harump-" the commander said, moments before it was doubly impaled. It was dragged off the floor and the spider-thing decapitated him with a single bite.

"That's odd," Osher murmured with a frown, "The program is not supposed to start before the student and subjects cross the red line..."

Gates replied, "I generally find if you give your people the correct tools they'll get the job done. In this case, the need to be trained in this sort of exercise. Setting them up to fail will do their self-esteem nothing at all."

Osher grimaced, "I believe I know what my people require, Commander; if they cannot handle a little defeat then they can go back to the academy and choose a different career track. Computer, end program!"

The program did not end. The spider creature hissed and the other escortees cowered in fear. Osher sighed and was about to say something-

"Hello, old friend."

Osher turned. A new figured appeared, an ancient, weathered female Andorian clad in dark gray robes, clutching an ebon cane, her bone white hair in a braid trailing down her spine to the floor.

"If you are hearing this then my agent has successfully modified your program. I wish I could be there to witness your final demise, but unfortunately I am in no fit state for travel..."

"Shorahl Th'zhilros," Osher murmured, "I was not expecting a move from her for at least a week..."

"Computer, end program." Gates said, getting annoyed with the situation. Nothing happened though. "Computer, end program authorization Gates Tango Alpha Gamma Seven One Six." Nothing happened. "What the hell is going on"

"This," Osher nodded at the image, "Is the matriarch of one of Andoria's most ancient clans-"

"Which will end since you killed my grand-nephew!" The woman hissed.

Osher turned to Gates, "Technically it was not me; it was a version of myself from the future."

He hesitated, then said, "But you know, I suppose some people might not appreciate the subtle distinction, He shrugged, "Anyway, Shorahl here has been trying to kill me for decades now. There have been..."

"Seventeen attempts," the hologram supplied.

"...Seventeen? Wow. Makes you wonder where the time goes. There have been seventeen tries on my life, Commander. I suppose this is the eighteenth. Usually it is assassins. This is one of her more elaborate attempts."

"What the hell is going on here, Lieutenant?" The Commander was starting to get confused with who was what and what was who.

The holographic person turned to the XO and said, "It is simple..." it hesitated then said, "Lieutenant Commander Archibald Gates," it was a definite indication of sloppy, rushed work, "My agent has arranged for this holo program to be the death of lieutenant Showei. But honor demands I give him a chance."

"That's why she always sent one assassin at me at a time," Osher murmured.

"My feud is not with you...lieutenant Commander Archibald Gates...but unfortunately you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. If Osher can complete the exercise with all of you intact then he goes free and my final attempt upon his life will have met with failure. But if one of you perishes the entire holodeck will implode, insuring Osher's demise!"

She turned back to Osher, "I will be dead by this point, lieutenant. My one regret is dying, not knowing if I was successful. You have thirty seconds; if you do not start then the program will...induce you to get a move on."

As the hologram disappeared, Osher glanced back at the holo creations, then at Gates. Sighing, he took the phaser off his hip.

"Well," he sighed as he held out the weapon to Gates, "As death traps go this one ranks...about somewhere in the middle..."

"We've got to play this out to get out, I'm guessing?" Archie asked as he took the phaser and checked to make sure it was fully charged. He found it was at ninety percent, presumably because the other tactical officers had been employing it during their simulation runs.

"So it would seem," Osher replied as he reached behind beneath his jacket and pulled out a small type I phaser, "The odds aren't that bad; perhaps fifty-fifty."

The tactical officer frowned, "Unless...the saboteur somehow manipulated the program..."

TO BE CONTINUED...

 

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