...Is That Smoke?
Location: USS Molon Labe, Mess Hall
If someone had to ask the guys at Utopia Planitia Drydocks what the worst possible disaster could befall a starship they would say: fire. And if you asked them again what the result of that fire would be, their answer would amount to; Death by fire. The guys at UPD are not known for their eloquence, but they do get their facts straight from time to time. Starships are made of flame resistant things, the fabrics of the corridors would rather melt than combust. But where there are aerobic humanoids there will be oxygen, and where there is oxygen there is a fire hazard.
And where there is a will, there will be a way.
The mess hall door opened with a sharp hiss, allowing the acrid black cloud of smoke to roll out engulf the first poor sod who got in its way.
Unfortunately for Bran and his team, they just finished with their morning PT session and were hungry. Very hungry. The type of hungry that only a morning PT session, based on their old Marine standards could provide.
"What the hell?" Bran asked, slapping his commbadge as he fell back, away from the smoke. "Fire alert, mess hall!" he yelled over the coughing fit that gripped him. He shielded his eyes from the worst of the smoke, trying to figure out what was going on inside the room.
Ken was in his office, going over notes when the alarm rang out, simultaneous with the announcement that there was a fire in the mess hall. How that could have happened was beyond him due to the multiple redundancy systems. A fire inside of a starship was not something that should be happening. "Fire crews respond immediately," he ordered as he got up from his chair and headed toward the mess hall.
The mess hall was certain living up to its name. A Nova class ship was, as one Fleet Admiralty wag had put it, a 'petite corvette'. Not big enough to do something worthwhile, but not small enough to be called an intersystem transport, they were the make work ships of the fleet. What that really boiled down to was a lack of recreational facilities.
So someone at the design desk of UPD had decided that what a Nova really needed was a communal area where the crew could gather and relax. Replicators were on hand, of course, but there was also a small kitchen area designed for the act of catering.
Part of that had been a gas burning stove ring...which was burning with wickedly curling purple flames.
'Warning!' Chirped Bran's com badge in an annoyingly fussy tone of voice. 'Radiation hazard detected! Proceed with all due caution.'
"Dammit," Bran said turning to glance at the rest of his team. "Computer, is there anyone inside the mess hall?"
"There are currently one hundred and forty enlisted and officer life signs on board the USS Molon Labe. Todays replicator favorite is salmon in a lemon-dill reduction sauce." The computer said helpfully. This is what happens when the computer, or at least its local area node, was also on fire.
A weak, smoke-clogged cough echoed out of the roiling mess of a mess hall.
"Dammit," Bran muttered as he stepped toward the door, a puff of the acrid, black smoke engulfing him for a second. He was grabbed from behind. Turning he saw Aide standing next to him.
"Computer, alert medical and hazmat fire teams, radioactive materials detected, possible victims still inside the room," Aide said. Bran glanced beyond Aide to the other two members of the team. They were all making preparations to go into the room as well.
"What is the problem this time?" Mark 'EMH' Lumens said as he materialised in the hallway. Seeing the billowing smoke he glared at the four arrayed, readying for an incursion into the area. "I'm a doctor, not a firefighter! Why did you summon me? Also, I see you're about to act foolishly but are you aware there is radiation coming from inside that room and you are ill equipped to prevent exposure?"
'Standard issue uniforms can withstand temperature variances from as far below as -10C to 45C, thus providing minimal exposure protection on Class F to L worlds.' The computer helpfully reported, before something that sounded like a bursting baked potato popped in the mess hall.
Farewell neural gel pack Bravo56Gamma, we hardly knew yee.
"That would be great if any of us were wearing standard issue Starfleet uniforms rather than PT gear," Bran muttered as he crouched and entered through the open door. "Anybody here?" he risked calling out before holding his breath again, the smoke already tearing up his vision and fouling his sense of smell. He felt more than saw two others behind him, but then he was too far in to see much more than just before him.
"You're idiots," Mark said as he sighed. Because if this act of idiocy didn't kill the four of them, then he'd have to use his vast knowledge and skills to save them, so much so that they could breed their inferior genes into inferior children.
There was no sound apart from the crackling of devilish flames, but from the far side of the glazing mess hall glinted the golden frame of a com badge. There was someone in there, either unconscious and injured, or just a notch past extremely well done.
'Warning! Fire suppression systems off-line due to local area computer malfunction.' The computer intoned gravel, as from the far side of the mess flashing red lights began to illuminate the viewport showing off the dry dock. 'Emergency atmospheric venting will commence in 60 seconds. Seal all airtight door and prepare for decompression event. Venting will commence in 59...58...'
From the Brig, Norman hit his Comm Badge - " What's happening?"
"We appear to have a fire in the mess hall," Ken stated as he continued on his way to the location. "Not much more is known at this time."
Norman replied; " Well at the moment I'm the only person here..I can join you if needed.."
Bran ignored the new voice as he tried to peer through the room with watering eyes. His lungs were burning from trying to hold his breath and his body was already doused in sweat from the heat, his clothing sticking to him but also drying quickly.
Scan for anybody else Bran said as he used hand motions to Jorrell to follow him to the glinting of the commbadge. He couldn't tell if the person were dead or alive, but at the moment that wasn't a consideration. He had to act as if there was life there and secure it. He may not be an actual security officer on this ship, but he sure as hell was trained as a security officer and he wasn't going to stop acting like it.
No other thoughts found, Jetzi said.
Keep checking, Bran ordered while he and Jorrel grabbed the figure, the room to clouded by smoke and ash at the point to determine race, gender or even breathing status.
He couldn't keep his breath in any longer and started coughing and wheezing while the superheated, ash filled air filled his lungs.
Ken arrived in the area, at first held from going any further by several security officers keeping others back at the moment. "Fire suppression system says it'll be online in about fifteen seconds, Commander," the security officer said.
Ken pushed past him as he made his way over to the man in medical teal standing in front of the door, seemingly unaffected by the smoke. It was then Ken remembered his medical crew consisted of a liberated EMH with an ego the size of a planet.
"What's happening?" he ordered.
"Four goldbacks went into the mess to rescue a fifth potentially idiotic person," Mark answered, glaring into the room. He was able to discern shapes moving back toward the door.
Bran and his cohort grabbed for the injured body at their feet, male and roughfully...ish? Not tall, not built, not fat, not happy, not sad, and not terribly inured looking save for the smoke stains. It in fact looked like someone had had the poor fellow genetically engineered to be as bland as humanly possible.
Suddenly the flames and roiling smoke of the mess hall came to a grinding halt. Cloud banks of ash and the licking tongues of purple flame stood still and cold as ice. And maybe some of the Goldback's who walked where angels wear asbestos, might have wondered if a Valkyrie was on her way to whisk them to Val'halla.
Or maybe its Federation approved, utopia grade equivalent Paper work until Ragnarok, the final accounting and auditing of the worlds. Two drink minimum. Funny hat mandatory.
"No...no no no." Tisked a perturbed voice from a particular talkative easy chair that was, as of ten seconds ago, doings its best to prove fire resistance could be overcome with sheer will power. A leg shot out from it, folding across an unseen second and tapped a Starfleet issue booty irritably. "Unacceptable. Utterly reprehensible. Without doubt the worst display of emergancy preparedness I have ever-HAVE ANY OF YOU READ THE STARFLEET MANUAL ON EMERGANCY DRILLS AND DISASTER PREPAREDNESS? Volume 2, version 5, as befits current Federation best practise guidelines regarding the instructional frame work for sibling agencies?"
With an imperial clap the flames, smoke, destroyed mess hall and perhaps the last of everyone's calm fizzled out as all holographic fantasies do. What was left was a short, wiry man in a Engineering uniform and bulging eyes that spoke more of a rabid personality than good visual acuity. Even the holographic dummie Bran had been 'saving' vanished into pixels and disbanded force fields.
"What the hell is this?" Bran asked, his voice still raw and raspy from the - apparently simulated - smoke he took in.
"Chief?" Jorrel asked, "who is this guy and is he part of our chain? Cause I really wanna hit someone right now!"
"No," Bran said, looking at the toadish engineer. "He certainly is not."
"Stand down!" Ken said as he entered the room and noticed the four large and obviously disgruntled fugitive officers. But as he continued walking, he brushed right past the four to the man sitting in the chair. "Just who the hell are you and what the hell do you think you're doing on my ship?" Without waiting for an answer he turned to the chief warrant officer. "Whoever you are, as you don't appear to be on duty, get Norman from the brig up here, after he prepares to have a new resident!"
The sitting man very carefully pulled a padd from where he'd put it between himself and the seat, and began to make notes.
"My job Commander. Lieutenant Sebastian Wylberforce, Starfleet Corp of Engineers, Department of Procedures and Foresight." He said without looking up, making a tutting sound. "This was an unscheduled test of your response to a hazardous environment event. In this case, a Class D oxidising metal fire, adjacent to one of the ships primary EPS transfer nodes. At the onset of the drill, you were simulated to have one injured party in the mess hall. For the severity of the fire, not a utterly terrible loss of life."
He pointed to where the holographic doppelganger had been in the process of being dragged to safety by Bran.
"At the end of the drill...well. Your crew did not follow best practice for this situation. Not to mention putting themselves at greater risk. Total simulated casualties before I brought this travesty to an end...five dead in the mess hall, the starboard EPS transfer blown and with it, possibly, containment to your antimatter storage system. All in all...not good." He hissed that last one through his teeth, before giving Lawe a withering look. "You're going to want to improve on those nuimber's if you ever want to make full Captain, 'commander'."
Bran shook his head as he took a step forward, the little toad's words strumming through every fibre in his being. "Did you just say that a loss of life was 'acceptable'? Not in my book!"
"The needs of the one outweigh-" Wylberforce began to prattle.
The only thing keeping Bran from rushing that pretentious little smirk from the chair and into every bulkhead between here and the brig was the commander's presence. Which was another matter. "And this is a Starfleet vessel, not your lackadaisical little squint nest, you'll show proper decorum while you're on this ship!"
"Well I never!" Stuttered the engineer, his flabber truly ghasted.
At this point Norman arrived, huffing and puffing..." Ok, I'm here..let's get.. who the 'H**l' is that ?!?!? " ( Pointing at Wylberforce..)
"That, Ensign," Ken said, glaring at Wylberforce, "is your new resident. Get him booked and tossed into a cell before I forget my calm and let this..." he turned to Bran and his team, eying the sheer size of them, "team handle the situation. If he refuses to go peacefully, make sure he just doesn't go piece fully."
Norman took out his phaser and held it at the ready. He also grinned. " Yes...sir!" He replied.
"Whoa," Bran said, coming up behind Norman and placing his hand on the phaser to lower it to the ground. "Put that away until you have reason to have drawn it."
Norman shook his head in an 'affirmative,' and put his phaser away.
"B..But I'm doing my job! I'm doing-" At which point Wylberforce, his eyes widening at see's the drawn phaser, did what all blowhards are want to do in these situations. He paled, further than his sickly complexion had already whitened him, and just folded to the floor in a fainting heap.
"Oh, for the love of...EMH, get in here!" Ken said glaring down at the pile of wasted flesh that was the engineer.
"I have a name," Mark said as he flicked into the room. "I see you've managed to kill him, great job." He pulled out a tricorder and gave a quick scan. "Well, looks like you're not proficient in your ability. He's no dead, merely unconscious. Most likely from the smell."
"Permission to turn off the light bulb, Commander?" Bran asked, glaring at the EMH. He was hating more and more the common practice of placing holographic emitters throughout the ship. If not for that, then attitudes such as this one would be confined to Medical, where it belonged. "Why is it even here anyway?"
Norman just looked around the room at the gathered group. "Sheesh..." He said to himself..
Entering in a hurry, Nurse Helen Rosenthal approached the EMH. As much as she disliked working with the hologram, she had no choice but to treat him like any other doctor. "Doctor, how can I assist you?"
"He's fainted," Mark said, with quite a lot of disgust. "Now I'm going to have to deal with him in the brig. Make sure to get his vitals and medical history while these brutes move him." Mark indicated Bran and his cronies.
"I'll take care of it," the nurse replied with a nod.
"Make sure he's comfortable in the cell," Ken said to Norman, cutting off any response from the Trill fugitive officer.
Norman just replied, " Yes sir."
Bran let out a deep sigh. "Let's go," he said to his team, "we'll grab chow on the base." With that he turned to walk out of the ship's mess, his job here done.
Norman looked around the area and said, " What a mess.." Then grabbed the prisoner and hauled him to the brig.