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When The Holodeck's Stacked Against You, Part Two

Posted on Thu Jan 27th, 2022 @ 10:46am by Captain Lucy Sharpe & Lieutenant Osher Shouwei

Mission: Interlude

The simulation began normally, with a dark corridor and the predictable surprise attacks. Both officers were able to compensate. Osher brought up the rear to ride herd on the three simulated crewpersons and watch their backs. They reached the first door-

And beyond was an ice tunnel. And then came the Andorian ice warriors, dressed in white cloaks, armed with wicked short swords. The fighting had been fierce and while phaser fire took out most of them it got to hand-to-hand in the rear. They almost lost the engineer, even now the doctor was using one of its many bandages to patch her crewmate up, kissing his forehead as she worked.

Osher held one of the short swords, he used the tip to push aside the folds of the cloak hiding the ice warrior's face. He saw a younger version of his own.

"Now that," he noted as he gingerly stretched his back, "is just adding insult to injury. Damn, if I had known I was going to get my exercise I would have finished my morning stretches. How are you Commander Gates? Still alive over there?"

Gates wiped his sweaty brow on the sleeve of his uniform. "If I'd had known, I would have dressed for the occasion." He replied giving a small smile. "I'm guessing we aren't finished yet?" He said as his breathing slowed to a more steady pace again.

"I very much doubt it," Osher replied as he nodded towards a tunnel, "I am thinking that if our agent is displaying this level of creative flair then he will have another surprise waiting for us," to the faux crew he said, "All right, up and-" he batted away the doctor, who had attempted to kiss him, "Stop that! I'm fine!"

The doctor relented and Osher motioned for Gates to go ahead and lead the way. As they moved the Chief Tactical Officer said, "So, Commander, I am curious; why command track? Where did you begin and how did you wind up in red?"

"If I'm honest I'm not sure. I wasn't exactly a clean cut officer at the start. I have many black marks on my record. However, a former Captain saw something in me that I didn't see myself. He took me under his wing and, well, here I am." Archie said with a shrug. "I started off as a lowly pilot." He added.

Osher gave a noncommital grunt as the party reached the mouth of a tunnel, at the end seemed to be a metallic door. The Chief Tactical Officer smiled sardonically and replied, "So you grew tired of bucking authority and became that which you most despised. Do you sometimes look at yourself in the mirror and not recognize the man you have become, or are you at peace with your decision to become, as they said in ancient times, 'the man'?"

Archie regarded the question for a moment. He hadn't thought of it that way before. "I knew if my behaviour continued it would get me in trouble. Discharged or even imprisonment, I really didn't want my father to go through that. My brother's grew up when they joined Starfleet, I needed to do the same. However, there was a time where I thought I may have to resign. I kept being rejected for assignments due to my past behaviour. Thankfully, Captain Colburn saw something in me and took a chance. I never considered myself 'the man's I just enjoyed drinking to much and brawling for no good reason."

Osher smiled slightly as he examined the door; it had a handle in the center. He briefly imagined it being rigged to a bomb and would explode the moment he gave the lever a twist. Unconsciously he placed his body between the door and the XO, then gave the handle a turn. The door swooshed silently aside, revealing a dim corridor that might be seen on a starship or station. His eyes strayed to the ceiling, then down both ends.

"When this is over," he replied as he took a step into the tunnel, "I suggest you look up the term 'the man' and it's meaning in reference to authority figures."

He nodded down towards the right, "This way, I think."

"How long do you think his is going to take?" Gates asked as he followed the Lieutenant.

"You sound like someone's kids when they keep asking 'are we there yet?'," Osher replied as he gathered up the dummies, "I am assuming the assassin programmed the simulation to last only a little longer than the original program; if it lasted much longer someone would notice and attempt to beam us out or disable the program. My immediate concern is what is facing us n-"

A Klingon warrior stepped around the corner, ba'thleth in hand.

"Kapla!" he said as he pointed his weapon at them.

"Well, that's just disappointing. I was expecting-"

"You will be assimilated!"

Osher turned. A pair of borg drones were marching down the corridor toward them.

"Now that's more like it..."

Archie took aim with his weapon and fired on the first drone. It fell to the floor with a thud. He fired at the second one, its personal shield activated and deflected the phaser fire. "Well, of course. They thought of everything didn't they." Gates said, frustration evident in his voice.

Osher could not reply right away, he was too busy ducking under the Klingon's swing, and then driving the Andorian short sword up through his lower jaw and up into his brain. The Chief Tactical Officer could tell the sword was stuck in that ridiculously thick bony ridge Klingons had so instead he grabbed the ba'thleth and spun around.

"Down!" he shouted, then moments later was flinging the weapon through the air. It spun, narrowly avoiding Gates' head as it smashed into the surviving Borg's face.

"...All right..." Osher said as the Borg fell, the blade almost completely bisecting his skull, "...that went much better than I was expecting..."

"Thanks, I think." Archie said as he looked at the bloodied Borg corpse on the floor. "Someone has taken a lot of time to think this program through."

"That itself might be a clue," Osher murmured, "Someone with extensive technical knowledge in holography."

He turned to Gates, "Commander, I can't believe I was supposed to survive this simulation even if I did make it to the end. The assassin has to know if I somehow made it out I would eventually deduce their identity. I have to assume that once we reach the end...it will be the end. Which means we have to do more than just beat the game."

Osher smiled wryly, "As much as it pains me to admit it, we have to get someone outside to somehow rescue us..."

"With no Comms to the outside how are we meant to do that?" Gates asked, he wasn't an engineer nor a holographic expert.

"I have two ideas," Osher replied, "The first is we set your phaser on overload. As much as the assassin might be able to shield what is going on in here from the ship, he could not possibly prevent internal sensors from picking up an energy source that could threaten Proteus. That will send a red flag to the bridge and let them know something is horribly wrong here."

After a pause he added, "I hope. It might be the assassin was stupid enough to go all out on shielding this room from sensors. It would then come down to how long we allow the phaser to overload before we give up that plan, but by then the phaser will probably be useless and we still have a last leg to go.

"Plan 'B' is, you kill me. If I die then presumably the program will end. If you can beam me directly to sickbay then hopefully the doctor can revive me before my demise is permanent. My only real problem with that plan is you might enjoy it too much."

Osher said the entire last paragraph with a completely straight face, as if he were discussing which restaurant to eat dinner in.

Archie started mentally doing the math of if he killed the Lieutenant. Would there be enough time for the program to register the death, end the problem and for Gates to get him to sickbay. He then shook his head dismissing the insane thought. "I'd prefer to get us both out of this unharmed if possible "

Osher hesitated, then he smiled.

"Commander," he said, "I wish every superior officer shared your mindset," the smile faded, "Unfortunately this is where my logic takes me. The assassin can't afford to let me live. I've already figured out they have to be someone who was assigned to the ship after my orders went through and that is a very short list. They are also probably a crewman, someone innocuous, and someone with a job that affords them a lot of time alone and access to the ship's computer that would not seem unusual. I am telling you all this in the event that, well..."

He shrugged, "Anyway, the other alternatives either risk us both or the ship as a whole. High stun at close range directed at my heart should do the trick."

Archie grimaced and raised his phaser, muttering, "This is by far the most stupid thing I have ever d-"

"Bridge to holodeck one," the Captain's voice interrupted through the comm.

Archie heaved a relived sigh and lowered the weapon feeling a tad queasy how close he'd been to firing upon Osher: "Gates here Captain."

"Commander, internal sensors are detecting unauthorized actives at your location," Sharpe explained. "What's going on?"

"Oh, Lieutenant Commander Gates was about to shoot me, Captain," Osher said with a slight smile.

Gates stared at Osher, "But you-"

"Explain," the Captain's voiced cut in sounding annoyed and horrified at what she was hearing.

"We are trapped in the holodeck and I believe any attempt to exit will result in an explosion that will kill us both. My...solution was to have the Executive officer kill me."

He grinned at Gates, "My report will make for some interesting reading, I am sure. Now if you could get someone to ensure the door can be safely released that would be much appreciated."

"I hate you," Gates muttered as he power down the weapon

"If it is any consolation, Commander, that seems to be a natural response."

"An engineering team is on route," Sharpe replied having issued the order while the two continued to bicker, she too was heading down in person to better understand what the situation. Closing the channel the Captain pouted while riding the turbo car, simulation or not threats to kill we're not to be taken lightly: "They'd better have some damn good answers to explain this," she muttered.

Sharpe arrived just as a pair of security personnel were tackling a member of the engineering team. The engineer had some sort of tool in his hand that was wrested free. The man was dragged up to his feet and Sharpe recognized him as Chief Robins, a holography expert. The holodeck doors opened and a dishevelled Showei and Gates exited. Osher turned to his people and their prisoner and with a satisfied nod said, "Robins was on my short list."

He turned to Sharpe, "Ah, Captain. Short version; Robins here was hired by an old enemy to kill me, Commander Gates was merely collateral damage. I suggest we get Robins down to sickbay as soon as possible before-"

Robin's eyes rolled up into his head, a bloody froth erupting from his mouth.

"-ah, damn it..."

Trying to comprehend what was happening Sharpe recoiled slightly as Robin's began to slump to the ground: "Get him to sickbay," she instructed the security team.

Folding her arms across her chest Sharpe turned to Osher reining in her temper: "What the hell is going on?" she demanded.

Osher, sensing the Captain's frustration, shrugged, "Old enemy, assassination attempt, suicide. The chief there is probably an Andorian-"

"You are telling me he deliberately cut off his antennae to disguise himself as a human?" Gates exclaimed.

"Yes, most likely. Part of some suicide assassination cult. The drugs he was taking to counteract the loss of his antennae probably were not doing his overall health any good," Osher turned back to the Captain, "Now you know one of the reasons I was hiding in a cave for ten years. I doubt there will be any trail back to his employer; she is far too clever."

He grinned as the security people hefted the corpse between them, "But on the bright side did you see how quickly my people tracked down and pounced on him? Their growing hatred of me did not deter their duty in the slightest! Now that's professionalism!"

"A quality you've been unable to demonstrate at times," Sharpe grumbled lowly wondering who she annoyed in order to have Osher assigned to the Proteus. She exhaled heavily: "Why was Robins or his employer targeting you?"

"Shorahl Th'zhilros is her name," Osher replied absently as he removed his stained jacket, "A version of myself from the future killed her grand nephew to prevent a catastrophic timeline from occurring," he turned to Sharpe and smiled slightly, "Since that future version of me winked out of existence after the assassination Shorahl has been taking her frustrations out on me. Captain, does this ship have a bar? I feel a pressing need to get a drink. Would you care to join me? I find it quite fun to tell stories and see if others can guess which are true."

"Another time perhaps," she replied flatly irked by how casual Osher was finding this whole scene to be. "I need to begin an urgent review of our security measures immediately - we cannot afford another incident reoccurring like this. The next time you may not be so fortunate."

Osher seemed ready to say something, but perhaps something in the Captain's expression gave him paused. Instead after a pause he nodded and said, "Yes, Captain. I will write up my report right away. Now if you will excuse me I think I might check in with Sickbay and see if I can get that autopsy expedited."

A slight smile crossed his lips, "As soon as I change into a new uniform, of course..."

 

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