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Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Enemy From the Dark. Ch. 12. A Discovery.


Carick descended through the center of the ship along the turbolift access shaft. He tried to think of something, other than the fact that his ship was captured by aliens and he didn’t have a clue what was happening. Half way down the ladder, he started to think about the ship’s artificial gravity. He was climbing down to Main Engineering but in space there was no up or down. His down was down, simply because that’s where the ship’s Mass Gravity Generator was located, and the MGG created and regulated the gravity of the starship. Turn off the MG and everyone and everything not bolted down starts floating.

He stopped several times to rest his arms and legs. He wasn’t in a hurry.  You can make mistakes when you're in a hurry and Carick couldn’t afford mistakes. There was too much at stake. Halfway to the Engineering Deck he passed a computer access terminal. With fingers crossed, he tapped the screen. The screen came to life one half second later, flashing a series of rebooting numbers. He tapped for silence mode. He knew the sound of the computer’s voice would attract unwanted attention.

Carick tapped for the main computer. An error message appeared. That was good. If he couldn’t access the main computer, then neither could their captors. He tried to load the sub routines. Inner ship scans were kind of working, at least in the undamaged sections of the ship. That was good and bad. If he could scan for life forms, then so could they - whoever ‘They’ were. He scanned for human life. Green dots appeared on the screen. Several of them in the shuttle bay. The scan was glitchy so he couldn’t be sure of numbers. Other life forms appeared as red dots. There were twenty two of them by his count, four of whom were in the Shuttle Bay. Carick assumed they were guarding his crew. Main Engineering had one green and four red dots. Carick tapped out of Life Sans and accessed Security Functions. His luck was holding. He found the ship's security codes.

Before they made their daring escape from Starbase, Tex had promised Carick to code Carick's voice into the main computer. He hoped Tex had taken the time to do it. He tapped the ‘Identify’ key and entered his personal ID code. The computer screen requested he speak his name. He tapped to continue and waited for the green bar, his cue to start talking.

“Cadet Captain Carick,” he said. The screen changed from green to white. 'Cadet Captain Carick Recognized' flashed on the screen. He was in. “Yes!” Carick shouted. He clamped his free hand over his mouth the instant the words came out.  What was he thinking?  That last thing he needed was to alert the intruders to his presence.

Using his new command access, he tried to enter the main frame, only to be turned back by error messages. Carick attempted to lock down the shuttle bay to prevent his crew from being taken. Locking down the shuttle bay didn’t work. He grew frustrated. He located the Security Systems and the Intruder Alert alarm. "What'll happen if I push this," he whispered to himself, but considering the circumstances, he felt he had no other choice. He tapped the screen. Red text appeared asking for his voice authorization.  "Cadet Captain Carick," he whispered and tapped ‘OK’.  "Authorization Denied" the screen responded. "What's wrong," Carick muttered.  He tried again and got the same results.  He thought for a moment before realizing it was his whisper. A person's whisper sounds different than normal speech.  He tapped for a retry. "Cadet Captain Carick," he spoke in a hushed but normal voice. A moment passed before the ship's alarms sounded. “Intruder Alert, Intruder Alert,” the computer's voice echoed up and down the empty turbolift shaft and hallways of the ship.  Carick didn’t know how an 'Intruder Alert' would affect the ship's systems, but thought it best to start moving again if he wanted to avoid capture.

He continued his descent down the shaft and closer to Main Engineering.  The turbolifts had stopped running. The alert must have taken them off Automatic. Anyone wanted to use a lift would be required to manually enter their security code and fingerprint. That alone was guaranteed to buy him time.

Carick froze when he heard the swoosh of a deck access door open right below his feet. Adrenaline surged through his body. That's when he realized the aliens would be forced to use the same access shaft he was occupying to move through the ship. Carick was about to have company. Strategically, Carick was in a better position than whoever was about to enter the shaft below him. He had the high ground. Anyone entering the shaft would likely first look down, not up, when stepping in. He pushed his body up against the ladder hoping to make the smallest possible profile.  Carick watched closely, wondering how the intruders would look.  First he saw a hand then arm reach in to find the ladder.  It looked human.  The rest of the alien's body followed.  It was a human male just about Carick's age with bronze skin and dark hair.  He wore some kind of blue, form fitting nylon clothing with padding over his chest, abdomen and back. He had a weapon slung over his shoulder. He looked down, then reached for the ladder. He swung one foot in, found a rung and pulled his whole body out of the entryway and into the shaft. The door swooshed closed behind him. He began climbing down.

Carick thought for a moment before moving. He remembered watching a training video as a first year cadet which covered the do’s and don’ts of living on a Starbase. One of the ‘don’ts‘ was sliding down a ladder with both hands and feet on the side bars. It was a fast way to descend, but you could easily lose control of the situation. Carick thought his current predicament called for the discouraged ladder slide. He braced himself for the maneuver, counted to three,  then loosened his grip. The distance between himself and the alien closed rapidly. He had to slow down. Using his hands and feet, he tightened his grip on the ladder.  The sound of his boots against the metal ladder drew the aliens started attention. The alien looked up, saw the Carick bearing down over him, and fumbled to reach for his weapon. Carick landed on top of him and began kicking his head trying to take him off balance. The young alien lost his hold and fell as Carick’s boot connected with his face. He shouted something as he fell, trying his best to reestablish a hand hold. Several decks down he succeeded. He lost his weapon but stopped his fall. Carick continued his downward slide. The alien’s face bled red from Carick’s kicks to the head. He was having a hard time focusing because of blood in his eyes. He seemed to be calling for help. Carick had to shut up him before his back up arrived.  Carick landed on him a second time, kicking with all his strength. The alien teen struggled to ward off the blows. He caught hold of Carick’s left leg and pulled straight down. Carick lost his hold and fell. His fall was broken by clinging to the alien’s body. He swung his arm around the young man’s neck and pulled him tight to cut off his air. The alien struggled to breath. With one arm he held the ladder and with the other he pulled on Carick’s restricting arm. Ten seconds later he stopped struggling. He tried to speak. Carick pulled his neck into his chest as hard as he could to cut off his air supply.

The young man was able to say a few words as he struggled to breath. Carick couldn't understand the language and squeezed tighter. The young humanoid whispered something that stopped Carick from tightening his strangle hold.  Carick eased up slightly so the alien could say it again. The alien formed the words and whispered them. Carick understood him that time.

"Perikoi......Perikoi," The young man struggled to say.
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