Pyramid Scheme 4 - Sonak, Dr. Mah and Sado
Posted on Fri Jul 24th, 2020 @ 7:57am by Baroness 3rd Class Sarika & Commander Rita Paris & Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox & Lieutenant Commander Thex sh'Zoarhi & Lieutenant Commander Sonak & Lieutenant JG Tovanna Mah & Ensign Tanaak Sado
Edited on on Fri Jul 24th, 2020 @ 7:57am
Heart and Soul
Location: Beneath Andoria
Tags: Pyramid Scheme 4
As soon as the doors closed, Sonak heard them sliding and grabbed both medical officers to throw himself out with them. But he only managed to bruise his shoulder on the strange metal and accuse the involuntary body slams of the others.
Finding back his footing, he tapped his combadge.
''Commander Paris, do you copy.''
Utter silence answered.
''Lieutenant Commander Dox... Lieutenant Commander Thex... Baroness Sarika... please respond.''
The silence would have been unnerving, forboding even, had he had any emotion. He opened all channels.
''In case you can receive me but unable to answer, this is Sonak. I am safe and sound with our medical officers, trapped in a small closed triangular chamber with passages to unscanable areas. All telepathic contacts are broken, including my bonding link. We will keep all channels open in case you manage to reestablish communication. We will provide real time data as we proceed further.''
He turned toward the other two.
''Are you able to function Doctor? Ensign?''
Mah looked at Sonak and nodded, "I'm fine, I find myself however feeling the same sense of impending displacement we have gone through before. As we were warned we may find ourselves facing that which is not our reality soon." She sighed deeply, "Whatever this place is from the scans I was able to get before the walks came down I can say without a doubt based on the vast differences in decomposition in biological residue, thousands of not more have lost their lives here. I was not able to completely scan the area for final analysis of possible intended use. The amount of data is overwhelming." She knew both fellow scientists would understand the implications of that much blood in a confined area. They were essentially walking through a data-rich graveyard at best or possibly a genocidal crime scene. The outlook was not good with the team now divided in such a place. She shared a knowing look with them confident they understood the stakes as well. "Options this far based on data on hand?" She was in full swing science mode, time to since this problem, and get to her crew to ensure safety.
Double checking his gear, Ensign Sado sighed. "I'm not hurt," he said pointedly, but not harshly. He was able, and could continue, but he wouldn't be fine until they were reunited with the rest of the landing party. He didn't like what his and Mah's equipment was reading. Tanaak was as afraid of death as anyone, but he was even more afraid of leaving behind someone who might need him.
Sonak looked around, scanned again what little his instruments could gather then looked at them both with his steely grey eyes.
'' There are two options; we wait here for rescue; we move forward to regain contact with the others and gather more data to resolve our current situation. We will take the most logical option and move forward. As we have apparently only one way to go, our choices are made all the simpler. I will take point; All scanners active, communications open, phasers on stun. Stay in one line no more than two meters apart.''
The Vulcan led them through the darkness that alone offered an opening out of their pyramindal chamber. immediately he felt something hurling itself at his mental barriers.
"Be aware that there is a telepathic attempt to touch my mind. It's stronger the closer we get to its source. If you feel anything out of the ordinary, please report at once."
Even with his slowly reviving mental faculties of old, Sonak could not assume his short range telepathy would alert him if mental influence would affect his two companions. Thus he warned them, hoping their lack of psionic abilities would in fact preserve them. his mental defenses were exceptionally strong, but his past encounter with Talosians in another universe had shown him they were not impregnable.
They approached a fork in the passage. Looking at the ruins and images carved into the rock, Sonak paused to scan and record them, pondering at what they could mean. His extensive data library downloaded for this mission could only correlate some symbols with what had been briefly recorded in the nightmare realm they had breifly traveled before. It was obviously of the same origin, but too chaotic in nature, too much diverging and sparse to be translated into anything meaningful,even by the Universal Translator, except for one series of symbols repeating themselves with clockwork regularity.
" Curious; this says, What is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeons even death may die. I hypothesize this is some form of ritual of a religious nature, indicating we are in a sacred place to some as yet unindetified people. Unless deemed necessary, we must be cautious not to touch anything which could be interpreted as desecration. data suggests an antediluvian intelligence in this area trying to get out after prolonged confinement. That intelligence apparently relates to the eldrich creatures we encountered in the Undrheim. We must exert utmost caution."
When they reached a second fork, he looked at his instruments to confirm his suspicions.
''This passage is going back on itself steadily declining twelve degrees. We have walked three-hundred nineteen meters. This means we will be a level below where we came in, turning right back around in this. Keep recording our movements as a map of our path in your suit's onboard systems in case we get separated."
Sonak looked backward and forwards upon the two passages trying to think of which could be the most logical way to follow. But his inner senses provided what logic failed to do.
" This way. telepathic emissions seems stronger down this passage."
As they continued their way down the tunnel, it inexplicably seemed to be getting darker and the walls appeared to be getting narrower as they occasionally had to go sideways because of the bulk of their suits. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as they all felt pressure in their heads increasing as they went. To alleviate the emotional stress his two companions might be experiencing, Sonak spoke to focus their minds better.
"I propose our task here would be to strengthen the locks keeping this intelligence in there. If we interpret these repeating litanies correctly, it can eventually cease to exist in that realm and provide an end to their threat. So we might just... be able... to... "
The voice seemed to come from behind Sonak. He pivoted, scanner raised to look beyond his two companions, up the long path behind them There was nothing.
But did recognized the voice.
There was no mistaking it despite the strange acoustics of it. It had been the voice of Captain Michael Stuart of the USS Exeter, his former commanding officer and long lost friend from another universe that no longer was.
he looked into the eyes of Mah and Sado in turn.
"My mental defenses are being breached."
Dr. Mah stood behind Sonak but her eyes looked through him. She felt the displacement and could identify it coming yet much like a non-convulsing seizure the brain and body were no longer in snych. She lost her chance to her a warning before her world was swallowed by the secondary overlay reality. There was no way to discern which was the REAL world at the moment, she would have to figure it out. This is what She hated the playing in her mind, the wisdom of making the distortion just close enough to reality tio make it plausible. If it was something out of left field She could tell what was real and what wasn't, a gift from her species. At least she could take satisfaction the jerks would have to work hard to bypass that delightful barrier of protection.
She closed her eyes and held still, Sado and Sonak ran as names over and over in her mind. They were who she entered with, the only ones who were real. All others were fiction, all others were calls from her past. She kept repeating it in her head as well as their findings, the ritual space, the blood samples, anything to hold on. She knew it was a losing battle but she wanted to go down swinging.
Through his still limited telepathy, Sonak felt the shift in Mah's mind. That anchored him and he shared his own thoughts with her and Sado in his trademark deep monotone.
''Doctor, Ensign; we are either being contacted... or assaulted. There is only one logical conclusion from one or the other; we are getting nearer to a mind that experiences a strong emotion out of our approach. It is using it in an attempt to manipulate us. And there is one emotion most susceptible to manipulate others; fear. Do not succumb to it.''
Mah opened her eyes and looked at Sonak nodding. She began reciting the attributes of blood for various species, "Chlorocytes, copper-based blood green in color found commonly in Vulcan and Romulan physiology for oxygenation. Erythrocytes, iron-based blood found in humans and various other species with similar traits similar in action to chlorocytes for prior species. Kyaneocytes blue in coloration....." her recitation went on very clinically as they proceeded forward. It was all familiar enough to know yet still something one had to think back on to remember. It was obvious she had her own way of mastering discomfort, fear, boredom or various other challenges with these mental exercises. Both men were privy to the serious side of their CMO and why she was so good at her job. Drills and inner discipline were her crisis management, knowledge was her power, lollipops were merely a mask.
''Diverting emotions through deliberate concentration on rational thought processes; very good, Doctor, '' Sonak said outloud so as to incite Ensign Sado to do the same. 'I have been successful in computing several transdimensional equations for the same purpose. Obviously whatever is attempting to affect me will do so by assailing my logic about our current predicament, since I have no emotions to play on.''
As he spoke, he continued leading them further into the pyramid. Further, the pressure inside their heads seemed to increase. As strong as his mental defenses were, they were severely challenged by whatever lurked in the depths below. Then, as the pressure on their minds seemed to reach its peak, there was a sudden sensation, not unlike a wave cresting around them as the narrow tunnel opened up into a larger chamber.
Before them spread a circular room with a domed ceiling, formed of the same black stone that had surrounded them the whole way down. In the center of the floor, the groove lines seemed to converge in a pattern of some kind that Sonak did not exactly recognize, but identified as belonging to the same realm of nightmarish entities he knew they were again facing. Leaking out from the grooves, speckles of an eerie, sickly yellow light streamed out like a noxious vapor.
This was one of the three, described doors that kept the crawling terror contained. It was visibly leaking, and they were standing on it.
His former commander and long lost friend's voice now boomed in his ears, heavy with sadness.
''You have been separated into isolated chambers were mental assault is aimed at your weaknesses. You know Rita's worse fear as well as I do; transporters. She has no mental defenses to speak of, especially against what is assailing you all down here. Even you Kolinarh, can barely withstand it. She cannot rely on you as even your mating bond is severed here. You know the logical conclusion.''
Sonak didn't answer and so Michael's voice spelled it out.
''As we speak, she is either braindead or driven to so much insanity that she will kill herself... and possibly whoever else is trapped with her.''
As Michael's disembodied voice spoke, Sonak noticed that the flow of yellow light increased in spurts almost on cue with each word. A hypothesis instantly formed in his mind and the need to test it was obviously paramount. And so, this time, the Vulcan answered.
''Logic is only as valid as the premise it is based upon. Your premise excludes the established fact that she has more mental, emotional, and spiritual resilience than most humans and even the average Vulcan. What she would experience here is child's play compared to what she felt living for years as a transporter ghost without going insane, as she has done. Your premise is flawed; therefore, your logic is invalid.''
As he spoke out loud, the pressure on his psyche eased perceptibly. But more importantly, his hypothesis was confirmed; the flow of ominous vaporous light diminished substantially before his eyes and his instruments.
''Doctor, Ensign; this symbol is a psychic seal. It needs to overwhelm your mind to fully open and let whatever it guards again free. But if you successfully repulse it's mental assault, you will close the seal.''
Calculating the reduction of the foul light's flow, Sonak knew alone he could not fully close the seal. They too had to fight off this mind from beyond; each on their own. And so, the Kolinarh master offered to guide them through the same rituals that had, over years, purged him of all emotions. It would do no such thing in the short amount of time they would be here; but it would show them a way to fight back against whatever was trying to affect them and use their psychic energy to escape.
''Concentrate; do not let emotions sway you. Think logically. Let stray and strange thoughts flow over you, through you and beyond you without concern, without accepting nor rejecting them. be a detached observer of your own self without relinquishing it; like a rock in a sandstorm, each grain of sand touching you, moving all around and over you and then past you... while you remain, like the rock, touched yet unchanged.''
Dr. Mah could hear Sonak like a whisper as she looked at the bodies of her fallen crew around them. Dox lay next to Thex, Rita, Sarika and the others as their blood drained into the ritual grooves. A small part of feared the blame for failing her team from her Captain, she stopped herself though evaluating the situation as a superior would. Did she do everything possible for her team? Had she failed to look for all possible solutions? She looked at Sonak, he wasn't leaning over Rita in concern. She closed her eyes and continued down the check list of logical questions, the looked again to Sonak noting he walked past his crew, their crew. She follwed suit and continued their mission. If the team was really gone there was nothing they could do. She would follow Sonak's lead in this, truth would follow later.
But Sonak was not aware of her anymore. He blinked and found the cave gone, his suit gone, everything gone. He was wearing a blue shirt and black trousers over short soft boots. He was standing under a grey sky on a desolate rocky planetary surface sparsely dotted with wide-leafed blue plants vibrating with an eerie sound not unlike that made by 23rd century transporters. But he was not alone.
Michael Stuart, wearing his gold command braided shirt and left-breast insignia of the USS Exeter, was standing before him, a look of relief on his face.
''We truly thought that we had lost you this time, Sonak.''
It was his voice, it as his face, his slightly crooked trademark smile, his familiar twinkling eyes.
''The Talosians had you in their thrall for quite some time now. They apparently managed to convince you that you were in another universe, living the life you always aimed for with Rita. But you're back now.''
''Had the ship on autocontrol aiming our phasers at the Talosians' main facility. After a programmed delay, she fired and knocked them all out, freeing us. A brilliant idea you had there, as usual...''
He stopped as Sonak knelt to trace something in the sand with his finger.
''Have you seen this before, Captain?''
As he drew the strange glyph, the one he had seen painted on the suit of the Hera's chief flight control officer, Michael's face started to contort itself in a most ugly way. He stepped back, pointing his finger at him.
''You destroyed everything! You who dare call yourself my friend,yet you killed me! You eradicated our entire reality without a second glance while you and your so dear Rita went on with your new life in another! You left me dead! Erased! Non-existent! ''
Sonak looked at him with his cold icy grey eyes.
''You claimed this was all a Talosian illusion.''
His friends face was now etched with a mixture of anger and fear, hope and despair.
'' You can bring me back Sonak! You can bring it all back! You know the parameters, you know the calculations, you know the means to recreate our universe! You can save me! All of us! me, you and Rita, we can be together again as we were, where we belong!''
Sonak shook his head.
''This is not Talos IV. This no Talosian illusion but your own whoever, whatever you are.''
''I am Michael Stuart! I am the only friend, the only true friend you ever had!''
''You are not. Michael would never, ever, ask for his life at the cost of two universes; only would an inhuman monster... like you''
The image of Captain Stuart didn't respond. His skin took a grey-green tinge while pus-filled blisters and bleeding pustules appeared all over his growing and melting body. Sonak, undisturbed by the grotesque transformation, turned his back on it.
He blinked. Everything around him was darkened, chilled, made of strange stone and stranger metal with a vaporous sickly yellow light dimming by the second. Then the floor tilted under him and he fell.
Immediately, Sonak spun around to again grab both women in his viselike grip. In that same instant, the tiny hologram of Ensign Fiona O'Dell popped up into his heads up display.
=^="It appears that yuir fallin'. Activatin' rear piton and emergency cable now."=^= And as it spoke, from the rear of all of their suit's belt, a tiny retractable piton fired straight up, lodging itself hard into the domed roof above them as they jerked to a stop on the incredibly strong cable. =^="External sensors are offline, but INternal sensors detect surface contact with two other EVA suits. Would ye like to...=^=
"Activate armor to armor mag locking, cut off audio feed and convert into data stream" Sonak ordered the built-in computer, cutting the hologram off. With a hum, the metal plates of the armor magnetically locked on to Mah and Sado's suits, allowing to free his hands while they hung there.
"Status Doctor? Ensign?" the Vulcan asked as they dangled over the open darkness, the cable slowly retracting to pull them back up to the chamber level. '' The mental pressure has subsided. Whatever had been down there, leaking out, seemed to vanish with the illusion and the yellow mists. I postulate we closed the seal successfully from our end. Well done.''
Mah looked up at Sonak, "I've never been so happy to hear a suit speak to me before and I'll be damned happy to get back to my sickbay!" she grumbled. It seemed many medical doctors were cranky when away from the comfort of their sickbay for too long. "Thank you again for ensuring I didn't go bouncing down some hard surface. Apparently I need to master some sort of spider like abilities in this suit for my next mission."
A series of bleeps alerted him to his tricorder and he looked at the read out.
''We are now again receiving signals beyond the chamber. I read four lifesigns and four Starfleet combadge signals. Our team mates seem to be alive. It is too early to determine if they are still sane as well and if they too succeeded. We will try to reestablish contact and converge with them.''
"I can check physiological readout levels for elevated levels of cortisol, adrenalin and corresponding stress hormones as we get closer so we have an idea of what we are dealing with sir. As soon as they come fully online I will report, " offered Dr. Mah. She might be cranky but she was diligent in her duties as the CMO and the health of the crew was top priority. Her facade with others on the ship might still be able to stand with others, with Sado and Sonak all pretense was blown after this mission.
''Thank you Doctor, that will prove quite helpful, '' Sonak answered with a nod. ''Please advise immediately if you find anything peculiar. The mental and emoptional duress we are experiencing since our arrival could have lasting repercussions. We must also keep in mind that we are subjected to attempts at deception; all of us. Your data could help us counter it.''
Dr. Mah nodded to her commanding officer and began getting readout information from the crew she had on priority, Rita showed no unusually strong aftereffects of her journey. Mah still intended to get that shoulder rebuilt once they were on the ship. There were micro tears in the cartridge and she knew it would only be a matter of time before Rita made it worse, besides a little R&R with her husband could be ordered by the CMO. As for Thex her anxiety was still high despite what they had finished here, she was a bit concerned as to the reason. There was no panic reaction sho it had to be something else, "Mah to Thex, everything alright? I'm still reading elevated stress levels."
There was no answer. Not yet.
To Be Continued…