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Posted on 08 Sep 2022 @ 4:02pm by Ensign Kat Walker & Lieutenant Callisi Veera

1,057 words; about a 5 minute read

Mission: A New Frontier
Location: Fighterbay

Everything was seemingly normal. The quiet thrumm of the ship's warm core reverberated, rumbled in the distance through bulkheads, punctuated by the quiet buzzing of equipment, beeps of machinery, a small reactor here and there powering fighters. Some that were being worked on, checked over, undergoing maintenance. One that was active but idly, monitoring the forcefield separating the artefact from the rest of the bay.

Through it all, the cyclopean glance of the resident rabbitess stood vigil. She knew the system was relatively reliable, well, as reliable as the least trustworthy component. Harva was a fool. What if this relic was from the AI's designer? What if the relic was the actual form that AI core was meant to inhabit? Doubt crept into her soul as she looked over the relic, looking for any sign of activity. Heat blooms, illumination, motion... anything.

After too long of nothing happening one would almost wish for some excitement. Almost. But excitement did come. Suddenly the runabout's computer Callisi had running, monitoring the forcefield and artefact under Kat's supervision, beeped an alarm. Warnings flashed across the screen. Warnings that the runabout's slaved monitoring software had been remotely set to autonomous function.

At almost the same time, a hologram flickered into existence withing the forward projection envelope of Kat's fighter, a temperature reading of the AI core's auxilliary support systems, flashing a warning, showing a reading considerably outside allowance and rising. Rapidly. An alarm bleeped from the fighter, though it stuttered, chirped and cracked, stopping as soon as it started.

Then smoke arose from the fighter, behind the cockpit, right where the power regulation hardware for the AI core was. An arid smell started filling the chamber. The smell of burning electronics.

The stuttered chirp didn't go unnoticed, but it went unrecognized. Just another noise. The scent, the stink, however drew her attention. Then the smoke.

"Fire!" Callisi called out, getting the attention of anyone working on or near the system. "Suppressor!" another call, as the rabbitess made her way to the craft.

Kat's craft. What did that rampant set of one's and zero's get into now!? Callisi sought out the panel for emergency access into the cockpit from the outside. Damn these Federation designs, so friendly and accommodating except when needed. The surface of the fighter craft was starting to warm up. Callisi found the panel and started to work on manual release of the hatch.

The heat inside the cockpit region was already extreme, reaching into the components to manually open the hatch was not something to be taken lightly, and a sharp inhale through clenched teeth was the only indication for the crew rushing to help that things were, indeed, hot to the touch. Still though, the Ts'usugi worked to pop the proverbial hatch.

The holographic projection flickered and fizzled out, as did the humm of the fighter's reactor, all the warning lights. The cockpit hatch opened with a click, hinging up on its HPA lifting rams, revealing the AI core itself - nearly a ton of mass, nearly a meter cubed in size, hooked up to various support systems. Smoke poured out of the opened cockpit, as a few feet behind the fighter's skin cracked, flames starting to lick out.

At Callisi's call of 'fire' someone triggered an alarm, and as the flames emerged a fire suppression system activated - not halon as the computer detected life in the bay, but water from sprinklers. It did much to drench anyone near the fighter but not to kill the fire emerging from the craft.

"Portable suppression!" Callisi called out as she spied the source of the emergency, the downpour already soaking her and matting her fur in place. With little recourse the rabbitess sprang to action, running across the cargo bay to meet one of the deck hands at least halfway with a portable suppressor. Heavy paws in heavy boots splished as she ran, steam rising from the water touching the heated surface of the fighter craft. She reached out for the craft, dry from the fire within and still hot to the touch, and pulled herself up to the cockpit proper. A blast of hot, dry air blazed out from the open cockpit, drying and puffing a bit of Callisi's fur.

Her living eye watered from the heat, her prosthetic was unconcerned. She brought the portable extinguisher up towards the flames and started to spray. She'd have to work fast to avoid losing too much more.

"Keep them coming, one won't be enough!" she called to the deck. One wouldn't be enough.

The portable suppressor had an effect, being much more focused than the deluge from the sprinklers. The flames licking up faltered, flickered, were pushed back. Someone handed Callisi a fresh one the second her current one sputtered its last. The water still pouring down, the skin of the airframe still cracked and searing hot where the flames had been, but the fire seemed outwardly under control.


Deep inside the airframe though, the short reached the polymer life-support backup battery, repurposed to keep the AI core going for a dozen hours if the onboard reactor was shut down. A flash, the battery erupting, a pressurewave seeking the quickest and easiest way out, rupturing the plating of the fighter, behind the cockpit.

Callisi saw the flash just a moment before the wave hit. She soent that moment pushing the nearest crew hand to the deck, before she herself was hit by the wave and thrown from the cockpit assembly.

On the plus side, she was dry. Until she hit the deck with a thud, whereupon she was soaked through her fur again. Distant noises, muffled shouting, an alarm. The deck hands were rattled by the explosion, and left dazzled and deafened. Callisi lay still, in a heap where she landed.

.... medical....

..prava to...... emer....

..... sickbay....

A figure arrived above her, looking down, soaked to the bone as well.

...keep .....ake, talk...

..... her aw... to h...

The figure made noises. The ringing in her ears and the everpresent sensation of the distant promise of pain were all that reminded her that she was alive. She was no stranger to shock. It would wear off and her hell would begin.

Cold water. Hard to feel. Blood in the ears. Hard to tell. That figure kept making noise. So tired.


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