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Twisted Depravity

Posted on Wednesday January 29th, 2020 @ 7:29am by Commander Tharia sh'Elas & Rear Admiral Nilani Azulas & Ensign Dazia Kiaol
Edited on on Saturday February 1st, 2020 @ 4:13pm

Mission: Twist in the Tale
Location: Holodeck 1
Timeline: Day 3 at 2220

“You sure she’s waiting here?”

Commander Tharia sh’Elas was growing tired of being summoned to discussions and meetings with members of the Admiralty, especially after finding out that the mission her crew had been assigned had since been given to another ship and grew by Admiral Drayton. Her latest summons had come from someone a bit more familiar, but that didn’t make it any easier to swallow given the mood she was in.

“Yes ma’am,” Chief Petty Officer Dazia Kiaol confirmed with a nod towards the holodeck, “I escorted her here myself when we received word she was to transport aboard. She then insisted that I get you, and bring you down here,” the Trill security officer concluded with a glance at the large bay doors.

“And there’s no one else coming?” the Andorian commander of the Ulysses queried anxiously.

“No ma’am, no one,” Kiaol answered swiftly.

Taking a deep breath, the Commander took a few steps towards the door, the massive bulkhead parting to reveal the Admiral standing motionless just a few steps inside. Coming to a halt beside her superior, Tharia made note of the familiar hissing sound as the doors closed and disappeared, leaving the two program participants to their own devices.

What greeted her was an incredibly eerie sight.

Dense fog gathered in the centre of the moor that they stood in. It was bitterly cold as they stood in silence, looking out across the moor as the fog slowly crept its way towards a village in the distance; tendrils, like fingers, clawed its way closer, quickly smothering it from view. A grey afternoon chill descended upon the surrounding hills, as slowly the sky began to darken. The village was distant, quiet, as the Admiral began to walk, without so much as an acknowledgement of her companion. Together, the two officers dressed in command red quickly worked their way down the dew sodden grass towards their destination. The sky had darkened further as they approached the village from a far; it had taken only a few minutes, even though their ragged breathing suggested otherwise, but soon they were stood at the start of a gravel road that cut its way through the heart of the village like a knife.

Small cottage like houses intermingled with the odd shop lined each side of the gravel track, as a church rose up far in the distance. They all looked so old as they appeared to be withering before their eyes, each one helpless and crippled by age. If only the Andorian had known what her Trill counterpart did, then the harsh reality would have been far worse.

The silence was deafening, interminable, restless. The insurmountable stench of rotting flesh and burning wood engulfed the air. Nauseated, the pair moved further down the gravely street.

The duvet of dark and threatening clouds was soon disturbed as the first glimpse of moonlight shone through the trees that encircled many of the houses. They were dead, with dark trunks and thin branches. Glass windows once stained now lay shattered, every window representing the life of those who had once lived there.

The sky was navy blue as the sun sank beneath the horizon. Coming to a stop outside one of the buildings, Tharia looked at the Admiral for orders. Still, they said nothing to each other as the eerie silence continued. Eventually, the door opened with a creak. A pungent, unexplained odour filled the Andorian’s nostrils, mixed in with a whiff of stale tobacco that shrivelled her taste buds. The door opened directly into a small sitting room. Layer upon layer of dust lined every inch of the room, hiding layers of secrets and darkness. What on Earth had happened here?

Feeling more than a little queasy, she swiftly left the house and crouched to her knees, her hands supporting her on the floor as she took in deep breaths. Her attention was diverted from her breathing, only briefly, as the Admiral slinked by, silently moving away from the dark cottages and towards the nearby marketplace. The queasiness she felt before was only exacerbated by what awaited in the village square. A scene that answered one lingering question – where was everyone?

Gathered together in the heart of the village, the people had clearly been summoned to their final resting place. Given the sheer stench of rotting flesh and the bodies that were piled high, whatever had transpired had done so quickly and without warning. Among the cobbles, a river of blood flowed through the market square; the blood seemed fresh, yet the bodies that lay nearby appeared to be ancient. The depravity of the situation soon became devastatingly clearer. Nearly every single body had been separated from each limb, one by one, before being piled and burnt in mass funeral pyres. The horror of seeing severed heads on stakes, lining the sides of the village church, finally made the Andorian succumb to the nausea she had so ably kept at bay.

“Nearly two thousand people…” Nilani eventually whispered as she found her voice again, standing above the Andorian and looking around the devastating scene. “There are scenes like it all over the planet,” the Trill spoke a little louder now, as deep breaths calmed her anxious state and she remembered that this was only a holodeck representation.

Wiping her mouth on her uniform sleeve and stumbling to her feet, the blue-skinned Andorian tried her best to compose herself; tear stained cheeks and bloodshot eyes, not to mention antenna that had drooped lower than ever, was a clear sign that she was anything but ok. “Where…” her voice cracked. Letting out a little cough and rubbing her neck, she tried again. “Where… are we?”

“Xendi Sabu,” the Admiral responded, turning on her feet to look at the Commander directly. “The Rhode Island received a distress call from the planet three days ago. By the time she arrived, who, or what, had done this was long gone. The entire planet has been ravaged; most of the larger settlements have apparently been subjected to a form of orbital bombardment, but the smaller towns and villages… well there are similar scenes to this across the planet.”

Placing a gentle arm around her colleague’s shoulder, the Admiral turned the Andorian on her heels and they started back along the gravelly path.

“Who could have done this?” Tharia questioned as she glanced over her shoulder at the scene behind her.

“We have no idea, and the Rhode Island crew isn’t big enough, or experienced enough to lead such an investigation…”

Tharia shook her head quickly, “No, no… you can’t…”

“We want you to go and take up the lead on this,” Nilani told her, placing her hands reassuringly on the Andorian’s shoulders as she held her tightly. “You’re trained for this. You’re ready for this,” the Admiral continued firmly, “I need you to do this, Tharia. I need someone that I can trust to take a lead and follow it, wherever it may go.”

sh’Elas continued to shake her head in disagreement as she listened to the Admiral’s words. “There has to be someone else…”

“I know you,” Nilani smiled, “when something gets to you, you follow it through with dogged determination. I need someone that will see this investigation through to the bitter end and get the people of Xendi Sabu the answers they deserve...”

The village looked relatively small, cradled like a baby in the arms of the surrounding hills. Tharia stood, shivering, until night surrounded them, the moon struggling to penetrate the cloudy canopy above. The leaves were unyielding, hanging on firm in the sudden chill that succeeded sunset. The sounds of unseen creatures and the sound of the creeping dead chilled her to the bone as she slowly breathed in the dark mustiness. The earth laden chill filled her nostrils, burning her insides. Darkness had fully set in now, only the waning glimmer of light from the moon illuminated their path out of the village. They walked out down the treaded gravel road and up back into the hills from whence they came. Feeling empty, with a wretch inside her stomach, Tharia looked back one final time. Only the thin rays of moonlight illuminated the village and it made her sorrowful to know that this was once a thriving village... now turned into a desolate consummation of filth and misery… and death.

“Alright Admiral,” the Andorian finally nodded, looking back at the Trill with steely determination, “I’ll do it.”

Nodding slowly, and with a smile on her face, the Trill was satisfied at last. “After your morning briefing tomorrow, I’ll tell your people. Keep it to a select number of your more trusted senior staff. You can tell the rest when you are en-route to Xendi Sabu. Computer,” she paused briefly, “end program.”

With a beep in response, the computer carried out the Admiral’s command and the dark, bitter night that had engulfed the two of them was soon replaced by the ever familiar black and yellow of the holodeck grid and the entrance way to the rest of the ship.

“Try to get some rest,” Nilani suggested as she patted her subordinate on the shoulder gently, “you’re going to need all your strength in the days ahead…”

Tharia watched as the Trill left the holodeck and shook her head again for what felt like the umpteenth time. 'Try to get some rest...' Spoken like a true outsider, far from the realities of the unfolding situation. It wouldn't be that easy for Tharia or, she supposed, the rest of her crew once the dark reality of the situation became clear.

 

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