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Trinity Universe: Dreams of Dragons

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"Have you spoken to him yet?"

Tess sounds a little hestitant as she replies,

"Sort of... Not like this. He seems... 'distant'. Does that make any sense?"

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Sean nods. "Yes, and in fact, "distant" is commonly used in English to describe a preoccupied person in addition to describing things far away. And, well, some people are jes' loik that.. But 'e'll lighten up eventually, believe me. Solitude 'as a way of doing that to people.."

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"Wonderful speech, sir. I'd like to take a moment to introduce myself, I'm Simon Bolivar Mendez, Newsday Cali, Columbia Bureau."

"How do you do, Mr Mendez. I am Ran Ao-Xiong."

"I'm curious to ask you some questions about yourself, the Ship, and Other information, that the freedom loving people of Sudamerica love to hear." Simon extends his left hand, which is gloved, although it's apparent that he is right handed.

Ignoring Mendez's outstretched hand in the most natural oriental way imaginable, Ran bows his greetings to the reporter.

"Like I said, mr Mendez, for tonight at least I am at your service. What is it you would like to know?"

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Simon doesn't skip a beat and holds his still outstretched left hand to Randall. "You'll have to excuse me, but my right hand is still rather tender. I prefer not to shake with it." Simon seems to have an odd tone as he says "rather tender" like he means it in a way other then the obvious.

Turning his attention back to Ran, he continues to speak. "Well, the practicals of Jumpships have already been explained to the good people of Sudamerica, and I've yet to meet any adult who doesn't have a moderate idea of the noetics behind Jumpships...." Simon rubs his right hand lightly against his chin, like he's trying to scratch at it, although it's only for a moment. "My people want to know, what is the goal of this flight? Where do you plan to take us on this wild ride? And even moreso, what do you, Ran Ao-Xiong, do on this ship?"

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"My people want to know, what is the goal of this flight? Where do you plan to take us on this wild ride? And even moreso, what do you, Ran Ao-Xiong, do on this ship?"

Switching to english to let the Chief of Security take part in the conversation if he so wishes, Ran gives the reporter an apologizing smile. "Forgive me, Mr Mendez", he says, "but I'm afraid I have to disappoint you. I am not at liberty to reveal our jump destination to you or anyone outside of the command crew of the Kai Xing. And I am doubly sorry if there has been a misunderstanding of some sort here, but I am also afraid that you won't be joining us for that trip. We can not accept responsibility for private persons such as yourself on an open-ended journey like this."

"As for my own responsibilities, I am the second officer aboard the ship, which means I basically have the same routine jobs as the captain and first officer, although naturally junior in rank to them both. In addition to that, I am the official representative of the Chinese Ministry for Psionic Affairs. I am sure you're aware that the ethnic makeup of the crew and officers of the ship reflects the various cultures and nations that have contributed to the jumpship projects. The Chinese people has contributed a great deal, and I'm proud to represent my country in this glorious undertaking."

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Suddenly Simon looks like he's been kicked in the gut ::crazy ::blink ...

A few moments later the other Psions feel it too - a sort of wave of nausea that passes over them as they feel the noetic medium being churned violently by some whirlpool of negative energy - they can't pin-point it, but all feel it less than a kilometer from the ship, & closing at incredible speed!

The neutrals in the dining room each stop to look at the Sudamerican reporter & the psionic crewmembers in confusion & concern as they each react to the disturbance only they are attuned to. Across the room the Qin bodyguard suddenly stands alert, looking around, & his diplomat charge looks towards the Psions. Each feels the alien's thought cut through the sickness in the noetic fields. He projects a single thought / feeling / image: "Aberrant!"

In the crawlspace, Sean is hit by the same feelings as the others. Tess's voice seems distant to him as she asks in a concerned voice,

"Sean - what is it? What's wrong? Should I summon a medic..."

The bio-computer's voice trails off. Seconds later a general anouncement sounds across the huge vessel's comm' system. The powerful voice of Michael Cutter, the Australian First Officer, declares in an urgent, but matter-of-fact manner,

"All hands to battle-stations, Captain to the bridge. This is not a drill. Repeat: this is not a drill."

A murmer of panic passes through the guests in the dining room. The Captain grabs Ran by the shoulder,

"Get these civilians secured in their quarters. Now!"

She then sprints for the nearest lift.

::squid

::devil

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Sean, carefully using a normal syringe to adjust biogel levels in a sac of some sort within a node, suddenly clutches his head and screams!

"AAAAAAUUGH! Bloody FOCK!" Clutching his head, he stops screaming immediately through sheer willpower, and closes his eyes, hyperventilating through clenched teeth and flared nostrils. Distantly, he hears Tess talking to him.

"Sean - what is it? What's wrong? Should I summon a medic..."

"What? No. I'll be fine.. watch out! Something's coming!" His teeth grind, and his eyes widen.

"Aberrant!"

Unsure of how to proceed, Sean grabs for his biocomp, but on second thought, decides that the security officer will have too much on his hands to explain things. He crawls like mad for the nearest exit, but won't necessarily go out. Besides, I'm pretty sure the goods'll have hit the fan long before he gets there..

OOC: What exactly is a battle-station? Does Sean have one that he should relocate himself in the direction of, to his knowledge?

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Simon cringes, and looks around, it was bad enough to struggle with his vococorder translating the English the Chinese man unfortunately started talking, but now a Noetic shock wave of one of the Abberants. Cover can't last forever.

Simon puts on a more serious face, and stretches out his arms. He starts to talk to the Captain and Ran as he jogs to catch up with them. "Please allow me to assist, I'm a member of the Norca, and the defense of all the people on this ship is of paramount importance to me."

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A few moments later the other Psions feel it too - a sort of wave of nausea that passes over them as they feel the noetic medium being churned violently by some whirlpool of negative energy - they can't pin-point it, but all feel it less than a kilometer from the ship, & closing at incredible speed!

Too disciplined to let the nausea affect him, Randall nonetheless grits his teeth. "I have a a bad feeling about this..."

He projects a single thought / feeling / image: "Aberrant!"

*Damn! I should've known! We're a sitting duck out here!*

Tapping his comm unit, he opens the security channel. "This is Chief Simon. I need the 10 closest security members to the dining room on the double to escort civilian personnel to their quarters. Second Officer Ran Ao-Xiong will be coordinating the escort."

Confident in his crew(and hopefully, the second officer ::tongue), Randall darts off off after the Captain. With incredible speed, he makes his way through the corridors to his own station. Tapping his comm again, he reports in. "Chief Simon at his station. Awaiting orders."

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He projects a single thought / feeling / image: "Aberrant!"

Opening his mind to the Qin's projection, Ran's thoughts race back the same way in a reply

*How many? What else do you sense?*

"Get these civilians secured in their quarters. Now!"

"Yes, Captain!"

Ran leaps on top of a chair to be better visible for all the civilians in the room. In his most commanding voice he shouts so all present can hear him "Ladies and gentlemen! An emergency has arised, and we must ask all civilians and guests to please move as quickly and orderly as possible to your assigned quarters. I repeat: This is an emergency. You will be escorted to your quarters at once!"

When Randall's guys start arriving, he orders them to split up in appropriate groups and take one hallway or guest-quarters area each.

Simon puts on a more serious face, and stretches out his arms. He starts to talk to the Captain and Ran as he jogs to catch up with them. "Please allow me to assist, I'm a member of the Norca, and the defense of all the people on this ship is of paramount importance to me."

Noting the more serious demeanor of the reporter, Ran replies (in between repeated orders to crew and guests) "Thank you for your offer, Mr Mendez. I'll keep it in mind, but right now the best you can do is help get yourself and the rest of the guests safe in your quarters."

In a short pause he turns his minicomp on and instantly connects to the ship SI.

"Tess. Run a check on registered passengers. Anyone outside the lounge area or otherwise unaccounted for?"

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OOC: What exactly is a battle-station? Does Sean have one that he should relocate himself in the direction of, to his knowledge?

[A 'battle-station' is just the term used for the location / post / station a crewmember is assigned to report to in a battle situation. Since a large ship like this one usually runs a three (or more) shift system, this triples the number of active crewmembers. It also makes sure that all the crew know what's expected of them in such an emergency, & assures that important posts are manned. For example, pilots would be expected to get to their fighters when 'battle-stations' was announced, medical personnel would report to the sick bay (from which they can be directed as needed), etc.. In Sean's case, he'd be expected to report to Engineering (where he'd most likely be needed to help direct the repair / damage control teams that may be required during a battle). Command personnel would be expected on the bridge, as would the Chief Security Officer (at the Security station). Just think 'red alert' in Star Trek - I know I do ::wink .]

Randall accompanies the Captain to the bridge, as Ran's speech to the civilians manages to prevent a full-scale panic. Sean, meanwhile, has a quite a distance to crawl in a hurry...

*How many? What else do you sense?*

The telepathic exchange takes very little time, as the diplomat is quickly escorted from the room by his bodyguard,

*I know no more than you - it has hostile intent*

The Bridge:

Soon enough the Captain & the Security Chief arrive on the bridge. As they pass through the entrance, a shudder passes through the whole ship. Randall notes the bridge's main screen shows a tactical display of the area around the jumpship. The icons symbolising the defending fighters are winking out of existence at an alarming rate. The icon - only one - indicating the attacker appears to be buzzing in almost random patterns very close to the jumpship herself - it's like watching a fly you can't quite manage to swat. As the Captain heads over, Cutter (a six-foot bodybuilder of a man with short-cropped blond hair & an old scar across the left side of his face) stands out of the command chair - although the Captain doesn't sit, but takes in the main screen as her First Officer makes his report. Meanwhile, Randall gets to his own station,

"Chief Simon at his station. Awaiting orders."

As he waits for the Captain's orders, the security officer he relieved (a young black English woman called Sophia Cambridge) fills him in on events so far,

"The LANSA just lit-up across the board, sir - must have been a Warp-in; we're waiting on conformation on that. It... it took out three of the externally docked Scarabs before they could launch... Some kind of plasma beam. It's fast, sir, & sticking close to the hull - our remaining fighters can't effectively engage without risking damaging us."

The Dining Room:

As the shudder passes through the ship, the civillians - who are being expertly guided from the room by Ran & his team - start to panic again. Through the observation window a glimpse is caught of a star-bright blaze of energy - it streaks over the surface of the hull, casting a beam of similarly bright energy from itself to intersect with the flight-path of a following Locust fighter. The beam is so bright it leaves after-images for a few moments, but it's clear that the fighter was destroyed with that single shot - a small, silent, ball of red-orange flame marks it's position for a second as it's internal air supply is burnt-up, then only a few charred fragments of debris can be seen spinning in all directions away from the blast. The 'blaze' suddenly stops when it's right up to the dinning-hall windows, hovering in place. Those not running in fear, through eyes half-closed to shield against the sudden influx of light, can make out a vaguely humanoid figure within the bright aura. At first it seems almost angelic - then the observers realise that the 'wings' rippling behind the figure are, in fact, multiple tendrils of energy... Even through the ship's hull, a distinct temperature increase can be felt. If it's an angel, then it's a fallen one... ::devil

... The thing carefully reaches out with one hand, pushing against the window - which begins to crack & melt straight away... Then an unexpected line of crimson light cuts across the void behind the creature, causing it to turn - another fighter spirals into view over the curvature of the hull. With a last look into the dining room (is that really a grin on it's 'face'?.. ::devil ), the Aberrant lauches off again, & is out of sight - with fighters on it's tail. On the damaged window, however, the cracks continue to spread...

"Tess. Run a check on registered passengers. Anyone outside the lounge area or otherwise unaccounted for?"

"All passengers accounted for, sir."

Alex, meanwhile, grabs hold of Simon's arm,

"Holy crap! What're we going to do!", he exclaims in Spanish, looking as white as a sheet (although he is still filming... ::rolleyes ).

The Bridge:

The Captain calls her orders to Randall without turning,

"Launch all fighters, target the hostile with all ship weapons & fire!"

The Crawlspace:

Sean is thrown violently against the side of the maintenace artery as the shudder passes through the ship. Moments later the internal comm' relay's Chief Singh's voice,

"Vinge - what's your status?"

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The Captain calls her orders to Randall without turning,

"Launch all fighters, target the hostile with all ship weapons & fire!"

"Aye Captain!"

Fingers dancing over his control panel, Randall taps in the commands neededto bring the weapons systems online. Simultaneously opening the channel for the pilots, he gives the order to launch fighters and engage. "All fighters, engage target at will! Do what you can to draw the target away from the Kai Xing!"

Orders complete, his concentration turns back to targeting the threat with the ship's weapons. Realizing the creature's speed, he tries lay down a pattern of fire that will surround the Aberrant, making it harder for it to maneuver and dodge the fighters. He maintains contact with the fighters, relaying his plan.

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"Vinge - what's your status?"

"I'm in the port maintenance artery, sir! Know any quick ways outta here? If not, it'll take me about n minutes to get to you lot!"

OOC: Barring holdups, how long does Sean estimate it'll take him to get to the engineering bay? Whatever it is, that's what he says instead of n, obviously.

He has started to move extremely swiftly, using a spiderlike hand-over-hand motion in addition to rapid horizontal running with his feet.

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Simon doesn't bother to think prefering to just act. "Okay, this place is gonna have air locks, so we better move into the interior of the ship unless you want to get caught in hard vaccum." Simon pulls Alex along as they follow the other passengers out of the dining room. "See Alex, it's times like this when I wish I was a teleporter. Life would be so much easier that way." Simon says this casually as they try to force their way out of the soon to be depressurized dining room.

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With a last look into the dining room (is that really a grin on it's 'face'?.. ::devil ), the Aberrant lauches off again, & is out of sight - with fighters on it's tail. On the damaged window, however, the cracks continue to spread...

"Everybody out! NOW!", Ran yells to the crew and passengers remaining in the room. Hurrying people in front of himself he goes on the comm to Tess again.

"Tess. Seal off this area. Leave Exit 5 for last and shut it when I'm out."

Stopping briefly in the doorway he doublechecks that everyone is out before he steps through and lets the door seal itself behind him. Not stopping for more than a second he keeps the security crew moving, directing the passengers safely to their quarters.

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The Bridge:

The fighter pilots respond to Randall's orders, but still can't effectively target the Aberrant - those with more damaging missiles can't use them without risking damage to the Kai Xing, & the target's only human-sized & damn-near impossible to get a weapons lock on for long enough to get a clear shot with beam weapons. It seems to be determined to stick close to the hull, & is having an easier time staying there than the fighters are. A few report hits, but none seem to be slowing the creature down.

The ship's weapons also have a limited effect - most don't have an arc of fire that would include the jumpship itself - so unless the Aberrant is driven off to a distance, there's not a great deal they can do (apart from making navigation more hazardous for the remaining fighters...).

A damage report comes in - the shudder felt thoughout the ship earlier was the result of one of the Kai Xing's own escorts crashing into the hull & exploding - whether it was pilot error or the result of the Aberrant's attack may never be known...

First Officer Cutter turns to Randall, rubbing his hand across his chin in thought,

"Would deploying the VARGs across the hull be any more effective?"

The Captain, meanwhile, sinks into her seat & hits the comm' button,

"Engineering? How long before we could get moving?"

Glancing towards her officers she explains,

"Maybe we can outrun it?"

Crawlspace:

"I'm in the port maintenance artery, sir! Know any quick ways outta here? If not, it'll take me about seven minutes to get to you lot!"

There's the sound of various orders & rushing about on the other end of the comm', then Singh replies,

"I need you here in five."

The Dining Room:

Simon & Alex join the press of people fleeing the room, Ran & his men again helping the evacuation go smoothly.

"Tess. Seal off this area. Leave Exit 5 for last and shut it when I'm out."

"Yes, sir."

The last of the civillians exit the room, just as the cracks across the window transform into a mosaic of shattered pieces. Stepping though last himself, Ran gets a moment to witness the first few shards spin off into space, & the atmosphere begin to rush the hole formed, then the room's door slides shut & seals with a hiss. Through the door the Second Officer hears a loud 'thump' as the tiny breech he saw proves too small for the air in the room, & the window is blown out completely.

The security officers again start to escort the civillians to their quarters - trying to move them along quickly, but calmly.

... Perhaps more sensitive to such things, or maybe just a little less distracted by duties, Simon suddenly realises that he can feel a second source tainting the Noetic medium - somewhere within the ship (masked by both the source outside, & the confusing eddies & whirls created by the vast bio-tech jumpship herself). The other Psions don't appear to have noticed it...

The Bridge:

Amongst the various security comm' traffic he's processing, Randall receives a rather panic-stricken emergency call,

"Sir? Wayne. Clark & I are in trouble - it's... On NO!...", there follows a long, drawn-out scream, then the comm' dies to static.

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First Officer Cutter turns to Randall, rubbing his hand across his chin in thought,

"Would deploying the VARGs across the hull be any more effective?"

Randall looks up from his console. "Possibly sir, but I'd rather see if we can outrun it before deploying them. The VARGs are good, but the Aberrant's too fast. They may buy us time, but that's about it."

Amongst the various security comm' traffic he's processing, Randall receives a rather panic-stricken emergency call,

"Sir? Wayne. Clark & I are in trouble - it's... On NO!...", there follows a long, drawn-out scream, then the comm' dies to static.

Clenching his jaw, Randall opens another channel, worry twisting in his gut. "Team Bravo, locate the area Wayne and Clark we're just in and seal it off. Once it's sealed, make sure nothing goes in or out!"

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... Perhaps more sensitive to such things, or maybe just a little less distracted by duties, Simon suddenly realises that he can feel a second source tainting the Noetic medium - somewhere within the ship (masked by both the source outside, & the confusing eddies & whirls created by the vast bio-tech jumpship herself). The other Psions don't appear to have noticed it...

"Mierda! Mierda! Mierda!" Simon curses out in Spanish, feeling the noetic mediums corruption. He grabs Alex's arm, and looks around cautiously. Rubbing his left hand over his right palm oddly. "Alex. Something is wrong, I'm not sensing a purity in the Psi of this ship. It feels like something is wrong, like something is blocking out the Psi. It could be residue from the Abberant attack, but I wouldn't trust that. If you notice, smell or see, anything suspicious just let me know." Alex nods to Simon, and looks slightly pale, just the thought of an abberant on board is enough to give people panic attacks, especially being in the void of space.

Simon looks around for an Officer and grabs his attention, as he screams wildly in Chinese at him. "Get a clear! Get a clear! We need a clear here right now. We need a clear here! I sensed something, something is wrong with the psi! Taint is on this ship strong taint. It's imperative we deal with this." Simon puts on a mask of heavy emotions making it sound like he's either crazy or just saw a ghost.

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Crawlspace:

Sean hurries towards Engineering as best he can. Suddenly there's a crackle of bio-electricity down the length of the artery - within the walls - & the data-nodes all increase dramatically in activity. He's new to jumpship technology, but it'd seem like the area he's in has been accessed for some kind of high-powered calculations.

Bridge:

"Team Bravo, locate the area Wayne and Clark we're just in and seal it off. Once it's sealed, make sure nothing goes in or out!"

"Problem?", asks Cutter.

A few moments later Team Bravo calls in,

"Sir? We... er... we found Wayne & Clark... I think... It's a real mess down here, sir. We're in Navigation, the ARES access corridor. Are you sure you want this section sealed off?"

Guest Quarters:

Ran & his men are finishing sealing the civillians into their cabins, when the Second Officer recieves a comm' message from Tess,

"Sir - one civilian - Barbera Boon - is now unaccounted for. I..."

The bio-computer's voice seems to trail-off unexpectedly.

Simon looks around for an Officer and grabs his attention...

Whoever the reporter grabs, tries to calm him, & directs him towards Ran.

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"Problem?", asks Cutter.

A few moments later Team Bravo calls in,

"Sir? We... er... we found Wayne & Clark... I think... It's a real mess down here, sir. We're in Navigation, the ARES access corridor. Are you sure you want this section sealed off?"

Responding to Cutter, he says, "Maybe sir. Just a feeling."

Hitting the comm, he answers. "Maintain your position. Do not seal off the corridor yet, but keep a sharp eye. Contact me if you see anything, but do not leave your position." Glancing around the bridge, he looks to see if the navigator Tobias is there. (Assuming he isn't...)

Accessing the security controls again, Randall tries to bring up any image feeds from Navigation. If none are available, he checks sensor data for any life forms in that section of the ship. He also addresses Tess. "Tess, provide current location of Chief Navigator Tobias and civilian reporter Barbera Boon."

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Tess doesn't reply...

On the bridge a junior crewmember swears, then looks up from one of the system monitoring stations, & calls out,

"Captain, you'd better take a look at this!"

Getui heads over, but before she gets there, Tess's voice is heard on a ship-wide broadcast,

"Jump sequence initiated. All hands secure for transit."

Looking as stunned as everyone else, the Captain turns to the junior officer who pointed out the problem,

"How long?"

"Er.. two minutes, tops, ma'am."

Cutter looks to Randall,

"Get down there & see what you can do, Chief - we're in no condition to perform a jump, & have no idea where we could end up."

By the guest quarters, moments after hearing Tess's announcement, Ran recieves a call from the Captain,

"Officer Ao-Xiang, get to the ARES & see what the Hell Tobias is playing at - this is no time for our main computer to take the majority of it's functions off-line!"

In his crawlspace, Sean gets message from Chief Singh,

"You heard that, right? We need to stop this - see what you can do from in there, I'll... Son-of-a...!!!"

Singh is cut-off by a noise that sounds like the maniacal growling of a huge rabid beast, followed by various yells & screams, & sounds of hardware being ripped-up. Then the comm' goes dead...

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Grimly assuming the worst upon his recieving no answer, Sean moves to the interface in the node and does whatever he can to override Tess, up to and including putting a screwdriver through vital parts. If he doesn't think he'll be able to affect anything by doing that, or if he tries and nothing happens, he'll just keep running for the exit.

"You heard that, right? We need to stop this - see what you can do from in there, I'll... Son-of-a...!!!"

Sean's eyes widen. Grabbing for his biocomp, he opens a line to the bridge.

"This is Engineer Vinge. I'm in a maintenance artery, Tess isn't responding, and seems to be settin' something off. I've lost contact with the Engineering bay and believe they are under attack. Awaiting orders. Out."

OOC: Post edited a few times due to further consideration of just what Sean would/could do.

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Cutter looks to Randall,

"Get down there & see what you can do, Chief - we're in no condition to perform a jump, & have no idea where we could end up."

Already moving before the first officer finishes his sentence, Randall barks out an "Aye sir!" as he nimbly leaps through the door. Tapping his communicator as he runs, he says calmly, "Team Bravo, state your condition, and maintain comms with me. I'm on my way." Listening for a response, he keeps sprinting full speed through the winding corridors towards the ARES section.

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By the guest quarters, moments after hearing Tess's announcement, Ran recieves a call from the Captain,

"Officer Ao-Xiang, get to the ARES & see what the Hell Tobias is playing at - this is no time for our main computer to take the majority of it's functions off-line!"

"Yes, Captain! Stop the jump sequence if possible, ma'am?", Ran replies while he sprints down the corridor.

On the way he grabs a few of the security personnel to join him and orders one of them to contact Tobias over the comm, while he himself tries to contact Tess. Assuming she doesn't answer, he mentally curses the translating medium of the computer and reaches out for the enormous and slightly alien sentience that overshadows every other mind on the ship, while still running in the direction of the ARES.

*Tess....? Can you hear me, Tess...?* His mental voice is calm, and he's doing his best to share that feeling with her.

*You cannot jump yet, Tess. You must wait. Do you understand me?*

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Simon pats Alex on the shoulder. "Stay close Alex, I have a sinking suspicion this could turn out well, especially since no one has time to worry about the legal ramifications of filming." Simon sprints down the hall heading for Ran, hopefully not breaking his concentration to much as he begans screaming. "Ran! Ran! The noetic medium on this ship is corrupted. Somewhere on this ship!" Simon seems to be trying to just get attention now, more then actually seeming worried, but regardless he does sound pretty darn serious.

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Crawlspace:

Looking at the sheer amount of bio-electricity passing through the data nodes all around him, Sean isn't too sure he'd want to stick anything in there - anything he couldn't afford to get fried that is. He's also a bit doubtful that anything he could do to just one of two nodes would have a huge effect on the jump sequence (he did hear Tess's shipwide anouncement, after all). He wracks his brains, but there are hundreds of safety systems in place to prevent just the sort of tampering he needs to do...

"This is Engineer Vinge. I'm in a maintenance artery, Tess isn't responding, and seems to be settin' something off. I've lost contact with the Engineering bay and believe they are under attack. Awaiting orders. Out."

A female voice answers,

"We've lost contact with the security teams around Engineering also. Hold your position, & await further orders."

By this time, Sean's getting quite close to Engineering, & thinks he can hear sounds of violence & screaming echoing down the artery...

Heading for the ARES:

"Team Bravo, state your condition, and maintain comms with me. I'm on my way."

"Sir, it looks like someone tore through here with a VARG - the place is a mess. The ARES chamber seems undamaged though. It looks like whatever did this was heading towards Engineering."

"Yes, Captain! Stop the jump sequence if possible, ma'am?"

Ran is met with a stream of swearing in Swahili, followed by the Captain saying, with a tone of forced calm,

"Yes, stop the jump sequence."

Ran's men inform him that Tobias is out of contact, & he himself is unsuprised when Tess fails to reply to his questions.

Randall, Ran, & Simon, along with Alex & several security officers, meet-up with security team Bravo outside the ARES chamber. The team leader quickly informs his two superiors that the chamber has been sealed from within, although either of their security clearances, in theory, could bypass the seal on the main door. The ARES unit itself, within the chamber, has an emergency release panel which should eject it's occupant automatically.

*Tess....? Can you hear me, Tess...?* His mental voice is calm, and he's doing his best to share that feeling with her.

*You cannot jump yet, Tess. You must wait. Do you understand me?*

Ran almost collapses as he's overwhelmed with raw, primal, thoughts:

* There's a sense of panic & helplessness, & a sudden feeling of existential anxiety as his senses expand beyond the insignificant shell of his body, the ship, even the solar system, & onwards... He sees Tobias floating amongst the stars - or, maybe he is the stars... The Navigator's image expands to fill his entire field of vision, blotting out the universe, then he's inside the old man - where serpentine tendrils of darkness are ripping at his very essence... One of the tendrils expands - the darkness sucks him in, until it's all around him...

... then, he notices a spark of light & heat - & rushes closer... Soon the spark is a star, & planets can be made out orbiting it...

... he hears a cry for help - Tess' voice - & the images shift again. The blue holo-image of the Tesser floats before him, trapped in the writhing tendrils of darkness - she reaches out towards Ran, & he again feels the cry for help, but the darkness is covering, consuming, her - the glowing blue light of her body is fading... *

Suddenly a series of explosions rip through the length of the ship - throwing all off their feet, buckling internal walls, & plunging the corridors into darkness as the lighting fails. It takes a few moments for the red-tinted emergency lighting to kick in...

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"We've lost contact with the security teams around Engineering also. Hold your position, & await further orders."

Sean ignores this and continues down the corridor, taking a moment to make sure he doesn't have anything making noise. He continues in total silence, and will continue until he either gets to the exit or sees someone (or -thing), whichever comes first.

Suddenly a series of explosions rip through the length of the ship - throwing all off their feet, buckling internal walls, & plunging the corridors into darkness as the lighting fails. It takes a few moments for the red-tinted emergency lighting to kick in...

Sean almost starts to shout, but cuts it off just before he makes a noise, as the explosions shake him in the crawlspace like a flea trapped inside the watch of a New York taxi driver. Unfazed, he continues as before.

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Randall, Ran, & Simon, along with Alex & several security officers, meet-up with security team Bravo outside the ARES chamber. The team leader quickly informs his two superiors that the chamber has been sealed from within, although either of their security clearances, in theory, could bypass the seal on the main door. The ARES unit itself, within the chamber, has an emergency release panel which should eject it's occupant automatically.

Doing his best to ignore the shattered remains of Wayne and Clark, Randall makes his way to the nearest control panel. "Security override, open ARES chamber door! Voiceprint authentication: Simon, Randall...Chief Security Officer."

Just as he finishes his command, he turns to see Ran groan, and clutch his head as if in pain...

Suddenly a series of explosions rip through the length of the ship - throwing all off their feet, buckling internal walls, & plunging the corridors into darkness as the lighting fails. It takes a few moments for the red-tinted emergency lighting to kick in...

"Damnit!" He snatches his comm as he tries to pick himself up. "Bridge, this is Chief Simon. What the hell just happened?"

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Somewhere far away Ran hears shouted orders, runnning feet and someone almost screaming about the noetic medium's integrity. As the weight of the tesser's consciousness hits him he stumbles and breaks his own stride. Standing still and supporting himself by the doorway he more or less loses all contact with the reality around him.

* There's a sense of panic & helplessness, & a sudden feeling of existential anxiety as his senses expand beyond the insignificant shell of his body, the ship, even the solar system, & onwards... He sees Tobias floating amongst the stars - or, maybe he is the stars... The Navigator's image expands to fill his entire field of vision, blotting out the universe, then he's inside the old man - where serpentine tendrils of darkness are ripping at his very essence... One of the tendrils expands - the darkness sucks him in, until it's all around him...

As his consciousness soars among the stars of Tobias' mind, a thought crosses his mind.

*There should be a third soul here... The reporter... Where is she...?*

... then, he notices a spark of light & heat - & rushes closer... Soon the spark is a star, & planets can be made out orbiting it...

... he hears a cry for help - Tess' voice - & the images shift again. The blue holo-image of the Tesser floats before him, trapped in the writhing tendrils of darkness - she reaches out towards Ran, & he again feels the cry for help, but the darkness is covering, consuming, her - the glowing blue light of her body is fading... *

By the doorway in the little corner of the universe that is the ARES chamber of the Kai Xing Ran falls to his knees and holds his head in his hands. His body is leaned against the wall, and his eyes are closed. In the infinite mental vastness he rushes nearer the tesser as fast as he can, willing himself to reach her before the darkness smothers her light completely.

*Don't give up, Tess. You can reach me. Follow my voice!*

Suddenly a series of explosions rip through the length of the ship - throwing all off their feet, buckling internal walls, & plunging the corridors into darkness as the lighting fails. It takes a few moments for the red-tinted emergency lighting to kick in...

Ran is thrown to the floor by the rocking explosions, the shock confusing him almost as much as being pulled back to the physical reality. Shaking his head as he pulls himself up, he turns to the Chief of Security.

"Someone has taken telepathic control of both Tobias and Tess. I tried to stop her from jumping, but the explosion made me lose her."

Taking a deep breath and wiping some sweat from his forehead, he grits his teeth and says

"There might be one other option, though..."

[OOC]If (for some reason) Randall's security override doesn't work[/OOC]

Ran reaches out once more, seeking the consciousness of the Navigator. When he finds it, he tries to locate the areas of his mind that still are in control of his body and make him interrupt the jump sequence. In theory it shouldn't be too hard. All it takes is control of one hand long enough to hit the inside emergency release button. Ran has never tried anything like that before, though...

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Engineering:

Sean reaches the Engineering end of his crawlspace. Through the closed end hatch he can make out none of the usual bustle of such a key ship area, only the occasional fizz & pop of electrical discharges &... a weird kind of scratching noise... The bio-engineer starts to feel that there's something very wrong up ahead - & not just because of what his five normal senses are telling him - he feels a 'hole' in the noetic medium, like a slowly spiraling whirlpool, relentlessly drawing in the ambient psi in the area in & consuming it...

... Suddenly the hatch is pierced by five blackened spikes, that grip &, with a single twist & yank, rip it free! Sean finds himself face-to-face with a monstrous reptilian face - it's yellow eyes with vertical slit pupils unblinking as it fixes him with it's gaze, black-red forked tongue flickering between razor-sharp, blood-soaked, teeth. The thing takes a step backwards &, in the flickering emergency lights, Sean can see that it's overall form is a full seven feet tall & a hybridization between a human, & some type of lizard - it's bipedal, with 'reverse knee' digitigrade legs, & a long tail to balance it. Each arm ends in wicked black talons - the 'spikes' that so easily ripped open the maintenance shaft's hatch. The thing's hide is a mottled dark-green & black, but is mostly covered in human blood & gore - around the creature lay scattered the shredded remains of the Engineering staff, along with the smashed, sparking, & smoking remains of the department's vital systems. The lizard-thing seems to grin wickedly at Sean, the spike-like black spines that run the length of it's back-ridge & tail bristling - then it darts forward with inhuman speed...

... Only to stop, it's claws mere inches from the bio-engineer's face, as electricity sparks & arcs over it's entire form! Sean feels a wave of psionic power from behind the creature, distorted by the thing's tainted aura. It spins in anger on it's attacker, & the bloody, beaten, form of the Chief Engineer is revealed beyond. Singh stands, a ragged stump where his left arm was, covered in blood from head to toe, breathes coming only with difficulty, accompanied by blood & bile. In his right hand is his curved sword, steam & a few electrical sparks still sputtering from the blade. The aberrant creature also has steam rising from its form, but seems for the most part more angered than wounded by the attack. Staring past the thing to meet Sean's eyes, the Indian man yells,

"For... God's sake man... run! I'll... hold it... as long... as... I... can..."

As he does so, he takes a deep breathe, & electrical arcs form over his body & blade, grounding against the floor plating & arcing off to nearby panels. The creature takes a second - eyes looking from Sean to Singh - then turns, & leaps, talons first, towards the Orgotek Sikh...

The ARES:

"Security override, open ARES chamber door! Voiceprint authentication: Simon, Randall...Chief Security Officer."

Theres a tension filled moment as nothing happens...

... then the indicator on the door-panel switches to green, & the faint hiss of the door-locks sliding aside can be heard.

"Bridge, this is Chief Simon. What the hell just happened?"

There's no answer from the bridge - either the comm' system's down or... ::nervous

Within the ARES chamber sits the ovoid Astronomical Range Enhancement Sensor itself - however, all does not seem well. The normally green skin of the bio-app' seems blackened & cracked, & suspension fluid leaks slowly onto the floor...

Ran reaches out once more, seeking the consciousness of the Navigator...

* Tobias' mind is dim, & fading fast - Ran feels everything shifting to white; there's a steady drum-beat slowing, slowing... *

The telepath clutches a hand to his chest, & keels-over, a far-away look in his eyes.

* Thoughts begin to fragment, to disolve into the ether of noetic space... It' so easy... Just let go to the pure peace of oblivion...

... There's a sudden, jarring, moment of pure clarity - a single point in space-time, known exactly in every possible way. Then... Tobias is gone. *

One of the security officers, having rushed to Ran's aid, looks up to Randall & urgently informs him,

"Sir! His heart's stopped - I can't find a pulse!"

Moments later, the leaf-like entrance panel on the ARES flops open, spilling the body of the dead Navigator on the floor - along with blackened, unhealthy looking, suspension fluid. Black veins can be seen running under the skin of Tobias' face, a face contorted in a death-mask of pain & fear.

Suddenly Tess's voice is again heard on the shipwide comm',

"Psionic co-ordinates received. Calculating wavefunction."

The equipment throughout the ARES chamber lights up, power surges through the entire ship - blowing out even more systems. The artifical gravity fails, sending debris, bodies, & people floating. Time seems to slow... a single moment stretching out towards infinity as the ship prepares to jump...

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Simon looks at the biotech, knowing that this can't be good. He pulls both of his gloves fully off, and a slight humm can be heard from his wrist as the bio-gauntlet embedded inside of it starts to warm itself up. Simon looks around, still a bit uneasy, not just about the artificial gravity, or the fact that they'll jump, but the taint onboard the ship. "Won't any of you morons listen to me? There is taint on this ship, and we are probubly jumping to some far off planet with this being on board, and a wounded bioship. Doesn't this strike you as a little bit bad?" The muzzle of the biolaser pushes itself further out of Simons wrist and palm and makes itself quite noticable. After he finishes speaking he let's out a deep sigh. "This is going to be a painful journey."

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"Psionic co-ordinates received. Calculating wavefunction."

The equipment throughout the ARES chamber lights up, power surges through the entire ship - blowing out even more systems. The artifical gravity fails, sending debris, bodies, & people floating. Time seems to slow... a single moment stretching out towards infinity as the ship prepares to jump...

Knowing with absolute certainty there's not a damn thing he can do to stop the jump, Randall Simon still has the presence of mind to be profoundly irritated by the Sudamerican "reporter's" words. That, and the fact that the bastard smuggled a biolaser aboard. Catching the Norca's eyes with a baleful glare, Randall reaches out with his TK, and pulls the now limp second officer to him. As the ship prepares to leap forward through space to destination unknown, the Legionnaire clutches Ran tightly to him, trying to protect the second officer from any potential impact after the jump is done.

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"For... God's sake man... run! I'll... hold it... as long... as... I... can..."

As he does so, he takes a deep breathe, & electrical arcs form over his body & blade, grounding against the floor plating & arcing off to nearby panels. The creature takes a second - eyes looking from Sean to Singh - then turns, & leaps, talons first, towards the Orgotek Sikh...

Sean smiles coolly. "Thanks. I bet I can outrun it."

A fraction of a second after the reptile turns its back, Sean's hand has morphed into a small needler, which he is leveling at the aberrant! Taking a second to aim, he fires twice, aiming for the seperation between its skull and its spine.

OOC: Two high-powered shots, both attempting precise aim. ::cool

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The muzzle of the biolaser pushes itself further out of Simons wrist and palm and makes itself quite noticable.

Although disorientated by the sudden loss of gravity & the strange space-time distortions that have started, several of the cooler-headed (or better trained) security officers pull out their Screamer pistols & aim-up at the suddenly armed 'civilian'. ::angry

It only takes a minor mental effort for Randall to 'snag' Ran in the micro-G' environment, & he easily draws the officer safely (all things considered... ::sly ) to him.

Taking a second to aim, he fires twice, aiming for the seperation between its skull and its spine.

Wedged in the small maintenace artery, Sean's relatively uneffected by the loss of gravity - Singh's electrokinetic field appears to have anchored him to the hull quite effectively as well. The Aberrant, however, is less well prepared, & starts to float off the floor. Two staccato sprays of bio-needles fly from Sean's 'hand', seem to cross the room in an almost lazy fashion in the distorted space-time, & strike with pin-point accuracy! The thing roars a scream & instinctively clutches at it's neck - even as Sean himself feels a weakness crawling up his arm (two much bio-matter loss at one go is never a good thing... ::sly ). Thrashing about, the monster manages to grip the floor tightly with it's clawed feet - then rushes from the room, smashing through the remains of the Engineering section's main door as it goes, & proceeding to speed away down the corridor & out of sight - not caring whether it's crawling across the walls, ceiling, or floor. The waves of air it displaces as it flees can be seen due to the slowing of time itself.

The space-time distortions grow more pronounced... then time freezes completely. Each individual sees the image around them in perfect clarity for a moment - or an eternity. In the ARES chamber, the free-floating bodies lock into position, security men ready to fire on the Norça - one sonic blast, already fired, can be seen as an immobile doughnut-shaped area of warped air halfway between the psitol & it's target. In Engineering, the blood pouring from Chief Singh's many wounds freezes into seemingly solid shapes of macabre beauty, the electrical arcs over his body, that are already fading, like bright scratches across space...

...

...

...

... then it's done - the screamer blast impacts Simon, knocking the wind from him, & sending him hurtling through the micro-gravity environment to impact the far wall of the chamber. The security officers twist & scramble to gain hand-holds, or push-off points, aiming to cover the reporter, & his startled cameraman! In Engineering, Singh collapses - the electrical fire fading from his form, as his body starts to drift into a fetal position, & his blood pools into floating droplets around him.

The Psions are all reel from the jump - like men who've had a few too many vodkas, their senses seem a few seconds behind - they turn their heads, & their vision blurs to follow a few moments later... Simon is hit the worst (the Screamer blast didn't help...), but even the neutrals seem to be effected.

It takes a few moments to register that the emergency lights have dimmed, & by the time that information has sunk in, they're back again.

Tess's voice echoes through the distortion-fog,

"Jump sequence complete."

[simon is Hurt with Bashing damage]

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Darkness. Threads of double-helixed proteins coil and uncoil in the plasmic gel, as it squeezes on them, moving them in a pulsing motion.. millions upon millions of cells.. pulsing, twisting away. Miles of tiny tunnels, capillaries, and veins, as the liquid pulses towards its destination.

As the jump ends, Sean's attention is drawn back to the situation at hand, and the suddenly fleeing aberrant. He simply stares for a moment, recalling the experience, then snaps back to attention. His biocomp is in his hand (back to normal now) and he opens a line to the bridge.

"This is Engineer Vinge. I'm just outside the engineering bay. There's an abbie on the ship. It looks loik a giant reptile, it's strong enough to rip apart solid steel, and fast as hell. It did a number on Mr. Singh; he's missin' an arm and is bleedin' like anythin'. He definitely needs a medic.. Oh, and the squid ran off. Yeh, Singh zapped it something powerful - it's pretty legless now, but really hauled tail outta here first. Might've even topped the bugger."

Sean quickly removes his shirt, revealing his tattoo-encrusted chest and arms, and tries to use it to bind Singh's wound to stop the bleeding. Then he'll go into the engineering bay to survey the damage.. He'll also keep an eye out for any firearms anyone happens to have (you know it's Trinity when every single civilian PC smuggles a weapon aboard, eh? *high-fives Umoja*).

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Years of discipline in the Legions come to the fore as Randall concentrates. Extending a hand towards his men, he focuses, and pushes them into a rough semicircle around the still-armed Norca. Thickly, he issues his command. "If he so much as blinks funny, blast him into paste." Confident in his men's ability, he then address the reporter. "Eject and drop your weapon. NOW!"

His comm unit still open to the bridge frequency, he hears Vinge's transmission.

Still eyeing Simon, he grabs his comm unit and responds. "Vinge, this is Chief Security Officer Randall Simon. Stay where you are. I'll be sending some of my men to retrieve you and Singh."

Looking over at his men, he asks for 3 volunteers from Team Bravo to go to Engineering and bring them back to the ARES chamber. He also instucts the volunteers to check in with him via comms every 5 minutes.

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Still eyeing Simon, he grabs his comm unit and responds. "Vinge, this is Chief Security Officer Randall Simon. Stay where you are. I'll be sending some of my men to retrieve you and Singh."

Sean exhales with relief. "Thanks, Mr. Simon."

He continues into the Engineering bay. Regardless of the carnage, he'll check for survivors, and also grab a tote bag or something and fill it with any obscure tools he thinks he might be needing in the near future, bearing in mind possible damage to the ship.

He'll also stay within earshot of Singh, and return immediately with whatever he's gathered when he hears Simon's men.

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Anger glittering in his eyes, Randall stares coldly at Simon. Waiting until the Norca's little speech has concluded, he casually retrieves the slugthrower from beneath the rear section of his armor vest. The weapon, made to look exactly like the archaic 1911, seems to have a much larger barrel from Simon's view, which is directly in front of it. Slowly drawing back the hammer, Randall speaks quietly into the silence following the overly-loud cliiiick-clack. "I am well-aware of what taint is. I have fought against Aberrants before. Many times."

The security officer's bright green eyes spark with emotion as he continues. "You, as far as I'm concerned, have no job at all aboard this vessel. I, however, am currently the only concious ranking officer on board, which means I have total responsibility for the safety of the crew and this ship. I need to tend to the second officer's injuries, and I will not do so until you are unarmed. You will slowly, and carefully, surrender your weapon to my men. If you take any hostile action, I will kill you. Do I make myself clear?"

(If Simon surrenders the laser, Randall will put away his pistol and start checking Ran's vitals. If Simon doesn't, well...)

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