Mundai Colony - A need to get away

Posted March 29, 2020, 12:33 a.m. by Lieutenant Jasmine Wynter (Chief Medical Officer) (Kate O'Neill)

Posted by Lieutenant Commander Maxwell Wynter (Chief Engineer / 2nd Officer) in Mundai Colony - A need to get away

Posted by Lieutenant Jasmine Wynter (Chief Medical Officer) in Mundai Colony - A need to get away

Posted by Lieutenant Commander Maxwell Wynter (Chief Engineer / 2nd Officer) in Mundai Colony - A need to get away

Posted by Lieutenant Jasmine Wynter (Chief Medical Officer) in Mundai Colony - A need to get away

Posted by Lieutenant Jasmine Wynter (Chief Medical Officer) in Mundai Colony - A need to get away
Original Post - https://www.star-fleet.com/core/stf1/manhattan/notes/43195/

The Ferengi, Rag, pushed Jasmine into the room and stepped through allowing the metal door to slide closed behind them. It closed with an audible click of a lock slamming into place. He stopped and looked around, then inhaled deeply. The warehouse had a strong medical odor to it, but not that of unwashed bodies or dirt. “Do you smell that, Hooman?” Rag asked her, then began to walk forwards among the beds.

“Bleacher and antiseptic,” Jasmine shot back sarcastically. She was scared but she was also getting tired of this game being played by the Ferengi. If they wanted her for ransom, they would not be showing her around the joint. If they wanted to kill her, they would never have woken her up. That meant whatever they wanted Jasmine for, she had some leverage.

“That smells like profit, a nice large profit that you are going to make for me. I know you don’t remember me but you owe me, Lootenant Jasmine Wynter. You owe me for a lot of money that you lost me, and now you are going to work it off.”

“Max gets paid every two weeks. He is lousy with the finances though. If I didn’t have him on an allowance I would own like three F-boxes so there was one in each room of our quarters. So depending on the cost we can take out payment plans,” she suggested. Jasmine was still on edge. The flippant tone was to hide how nervous she was. At least this guy was talking to her. When people started talking they started to give you information. Jasmine had to keep him talking. She might be safe but the other people here didn’t seem to have the luxury of the options she did. Thinking about what she saw on the warehouse floor a revelation occurred. There were no cells. In fact, the room seemed to be like one huge triage area. So if the people weren’t trying to get out or mulling about why were they just lying around on the beds.

“So hostage-taking must be lucrative based on all the people you have down in that warehouse. Tell me do you have like a coupon day or,” she left the words hanging in the air. She had no smart ass comment because she had no idea what was going on yet. This Ferengi was chatty boarding on boastful. People like this guy always would tell you what you wanted to know via evil villain monologue if you gave them enough time and incentive.

Rag stopped and looked at Jasmine, and grinned. It was an evil, lecherous grin but his eyes showed a malignant intelligence and confidence that he always got his way. “Why would you think I am holding these people here against their will?” Rag waved his hand over a bed beside him where a young and underfed looking woman lay looking at them, she had a drip connected to her and a bulge in her chest that the people either side of her did not have. She wasn’t human, Jasmine had never seen her species before and it was likely native to this quadrant of space.

“Oh my god,” Jasmine moved to the woman’s side taking her hand. “What are you doing to her? I swear when I get out of here I will,” she glared at him only long enough to make sure he knew how angry she was before turning her attention to the patient. Without any tricorder on her, Jasmine would have to do this old school. “I’m Doctor Wynter. Can you hear me,” Jasmine began to take her pulse. Lifting her eyelid with her free hand Jasmine looked at her pupils. They were dilated and fixed indicating she was under some form of anesthesia. “I am going to take care of you okay,” she said running a hand over the woman’s forehead and back in a gesture all associated with the touch of a mother or someone that cared for you. Looking at the woman for a long moment she wondered what was going on. The man she had treated was suffering from kidney failure. This woman seemed to not have any outward injury like phaser shot, stabbing, or puncture wound so the damage had to be internal. Moving the blanket from off her body, Jasmine didn’t see any bruising so where was the injury?

“They all signed contracts willingly, and they are free to leave at any time. Of course, if they do, they have to pay me out for the food, clothing, rent of the bed and medical procedures we have already done plus taxes and interest, but no one will stop them leaving. I am a businessman, Hooman, not a monster.”

“What did you do to her,” Jasmine stormed around the table. She no longer cared about what was going to happen to her. The reality was starting to set in. “What is this some some some sort of hospital?” None of this made sense but so far she had been asked to treat two individuals. One seemed to be in for some cosmetic procedure may be and the other needed a full-on organ transplant. “Hey I am talking to you,” she yelled at the Ferengi who seemed to be completely dismissing her. “Fine I will get my own answers,” she responded heading towards the door she entered. Touching the controls nothing happened. Slapping the frame hard with her hand she yelled out several things in the hope to grab someone’s attention but no one came. Thinking back to the Ferengi’s last sentence to her, Jasmine turned to face her captor. “What did you mean you are a businessman,” she started trying to piece together a vision of what was happening here. “Are you paying people to give up healthy organs,” she said. The idea was outlandish but this situation was out of the realm of normalcy. When he said nothing Jasmine stopped and stared at the Ferengi. “I am leaving. Try to stop me,” she announced for the fourth time in probably an hour. This was the first time she meant it even if she had to physically fight her way out.

Rag turned and kept walking, “No, you are most certainly not free to leave, you are not one of these fine, upstanding citizens. You are a liar and a cheat, a charlatan that owes me. Despite that, I will let you work off your debt. I decided that was a better use of you, and your skills, than just removing you from my ledger entirely.”

“What debt,” she yelled coming up behind him. “What are you talking about? I owe you nothing. You are a criminal. I will not help you. I will not do anything for you,” she ranted feeling a sickening knot forming in her stomach. This man wasn’t listening to her which meant she could not push him over the edge.

Rag reached a small desk and counter and pulled out a PaDD, notably, all communications out of the building from it were blocked. “This PaDD will tell you everything you need to know about these people, your job is to harvest the extra organs we have grown inside them, put them in the stasis containers and then my people will distribute them to the people I have waiting with the money to buy them.”

Jasmine recoiled hearing the words. Transplanting black market organs was bad enough but to harvest them and then sell for profit. This was the worst form of indentured servitude. This was not only ethically wrong but morally against everything Jasmine stood for as a person and a physician. She stepped back as if creating distance between the Ferengi and her would release her from this nightmare. Her head spun as the situation became clearer in her mind. “No,” she said finally finding words. “You…you don’t have to do this. The federation can replicate organs for free. I won’t help you,” she pushed the PaDD back as if it were hot to the touch. “If they die they die. That is not on me.” The venom in Jasmine’s voice was palpable. Doing this would destroy her. For a brief moment Jasmine understood Shan more than she ever had. While her juvenile records were sealed, Lauren told everyone she asked for an errand why she was asking them to help and what she had gone through. Lauren Shan’s story was tragic but not unique. Jasmine never realized however how someone could be faced with an impossible choice much like Lauren had been given.

“Don’t even think about trying to damage my goods, the last doctor I had tried that and ran up a debt he could never hope to pay off. Unfortunately, the Hooman anatomy is nothing like these Carcharias people from the planet Taurus in this quadrant. They have the ability to grow extra redundant organs inside them with the right medical kick starter, Hoomans, do not. He was removed from my ledger.” He pushed the PaDD into her hands and then waved at a man a short distance away who was taking the vitals of one of the patients, the man put the old clipboard he was holding onto a clip at the end of the bed, then approached them.

“This is Cade,” Rag introduced him, “He is a Carcharian, like them and will be assisting you. He knows what to do when you have harvested the organs, you can start with her,” he pointed to the woman they had paused beside earlier, “she is ready for harvesting, and Cade can inject her with the next growth hormone for the next organ and pay her for this one.”

“I can’t do this,” Jasmine moaned clenching her fists. “I can’t use these people as incubators or or or living factories,” she started to stutter feeling the walls closing in on her.

“Oh yes Hooman, you will do this. It is the only chance you have of getting out of here and paying off your debt if you want to see your Husband again. You didn’t even tell him where you were going, did you? Imagine how much he is going to worry and miss you, think you are gone, just left him perhaps. If I can make a suggestion, get to work. The faster you work and more you do, the faster you will pay off your debt. Just don’t eat more than you need to, food is expensive, you know.”

Rag started to walk away, and then turned back to her. “Don’t bother looking for an operating room. You don’t need one, do it there, on the bed. If we move them to an operating room it will take time and money, neither you or they can afford that. Do it right there, cut her open, take out the organs and sew her back up. See how efficient that is? Get to work whooman.” With that Rag turned and nodded at Cade, then didn’t look back as he walked down the aisle towards the exit, he didn’t look either side to the people in the beds either.

“Hi,” Cade said to Jasmine, and notably without a smile or any kind of friendly demeanor. “So I take it you are our new Doctor? Rag seems to like you, he hinted that you might be able to leave at some point without owing him your children for the next three generations.” The man was the same species as those around them, he was tall and looked much like a human, except his eyes were golden and it looked like he had gold stripes over his skin running in a pattern where they could be seen.

Lt Cmdr Wynter, CE

“What is this place,” she looked at Cade confused, “and are you a doctor?” Jasmine had so many questions but those were the first too.

“Me, no. I’m no Doctor,” Cade answered her and as he did, took a pair of disposable gloves from the counter where Rag had picked up the PaDD and began to put them on. “I’ve had some medical training, yes, but I suppose i’m closer to what you might call a nurse? Maybe an orderly. My job is to assist the Doctor, that’s you, by the way, to harvest the organs and then I take them in their stasis containers to processing.”

“And I can’t do that. Not only is it illegal but morally objectionable. Forget targeting the poor who typically do get caught up in these schemes, organ transplantation is major surgery. You can’t just do it over and over without consequences. I mean if you could you would practically be making someone immortal,” she ran her fingers through her hair. Besides we can grow organs in the Federation. You don’t need to sell,”

“We are not part of your Federation,” Cade reminded her making Jasmine ruffle her hair violently. She did this when she was on the verge of breaking, hitting, or throwing something. Everyone had a quirk when they were pushed to the limits but had to retain a matter of decorum when you were in public. Messing up her hair in frustration was hers.

“This is Mundai’s big bold lucrative secret,” Cade told her but he didn’t seem especially proud of it. “My people have a unique physiology where our organs can be transplanted into almost any other humanoid body and be accepted. With the arrival of the Federation and that Ferengi, we have the technology to grow extra organs inside of us and then sell those onto the hospitals here. Everybody wins, right?” Cade’s eye’s travelled back to the woman in the bed and his shoulders slumped slightly, then he looked back at Jasmine. “She’s my wife, we lost our child from a miscarriage two months ago and her body was damaged, something about here chances of having a baby being less than 10% and even then, her chance of miscarrying was too high. We cannot afford the operation to repair the damage, she chose to sign the contract and sell parts so we can save to afford the procedure. I agreed to work here to watch over her but,” Cade shrugged, “this is more than I thought could happen, it sounded perfect when the Ferengi told us about it. Now she doesn’t know who I am, she just sits there like that.”

Jasmine looked at her with an open mouth. In all the years she had been a doctor, she had never encountered a case like this. Licking her lips, she looked at Cade. Her eyes apologized a thousand times for what had happened to this man. “I don’t know how I am going to do it but when I get out of here, I am going to find a way to help her okay?” Jasmine had no idea how she was going to keep this promise but miracles had a way of happening when you really needed them.

“Rag may not believe it but Max, my husband is not going to ever stop looking for me. When he does,” Jasmine paused to turn her face so that it was again in Cade’s line of sight, “and he will I am not going to leave you or her here.” Jasmine knew Cade was not going to believe in her but Cade did not know Maxwell Amadeus Wynter. Her husband would not sleep or eat or rest until Max found her. Glancing at the clock she walked over to a table pulling on a pair of gloves. “So help walk me through this,” she said pulling out a tricorder and taking some reading from the woman on the table. “I know the procedure but not the vitals of your species.”

=====================
Spaceport on Mundai Prime
=====================
“Greetings and salutations from Mundai Prime” a computerized voice greeted the passengers as they debarked the shuttle.

The customs area of the spaceport was nothing like the colony spaceport. The floors and walls glistened with white marble like brilliance. Colorful purple and gold flags hung from the ceiling displaying a strange symbol. The base image was a sword. Two halves of a circle wrapped around the blade from its hilt to just below the point. Around that was a semi circle on each side that seemed to wrap around the whole image like an open sheath. If one looked this symbol was everywhere. It was just most prominently displayed on the flags.

“Oh wow!” Bob said as he walked beside Max, he no longer wore the ‘costume’ of the Ferengi Max had shot earlier, that had been useful in getting their shuttle operational but now, was not needed. “This place is fancy, it’s like the Romulan Senate, well before it went pop,” Bob made a sound like a bubble popping with his lips and made an explosion motion with his fingertips. “Maybe those people in the colony were a servitor species like the Romulans had for their conquered planets, yes?”

Large glass windows lined the wall giving you a spectacular view of the sky. Floating cities like this were rare in the Federation especially one of this size. Looking out to the right was a gleaming city like any other its size but to the left was nothing but sky and clouds. The sky was not blue as with most worlds. It was more of the soft yellow pink like one saw at sunset. The best way to describe the site was heaven-like.

The main room of the spaceport was filled with sculptures and other types of art giving it a museum like quality.

“These people are friendly, so the diplomatic corps says,” Max replied and kept walking towards the centre of the room. “Where exactly do we go to from here? he asked nobody in particular, more to himself like he often did when working on the Manhattans systems.

“We are pleased to have you among us. Please check in at the first available kiosk so that we can make your stay here pleasant.” The voice paused for a few minutes before starting its speech again.

“Wow I don’t know if we should ask for an art guide or a cab,” Bob asked letting out a whistle. “If Jasmine was going to sneak out for a weekend without you at least she has good taste.”

“That is not helpful,” Max told him, “I doubt she came here, considering where she was when she got transported away from us. Where did that voice come from?” Max looked left and right, still trying to place the voice in the hubbub of the terminal.

‘Yeah but if she did this would be the place,” Bob pointed out again to Max. “

“May I help you,” a soft and very feminine voice replied slightly behind and to the right of Max’s shoulder.

Max turned and saw the woman just behind him, he was slightly startled, she seemed to have come from nowhere despite the crowd around them but she was attractive and her voice had a practised tone of familiarity and friendliness that was time old.

Seeing the man from the front brought a shy smile to the woman’s face. He was easily one of the most handsome men she had seen. His dirty blonde hair and ice blue eyes seemed to make you melt even when they weren’t looking at you that way. His.broad shoulders Hinted at a well built body under the layers of clothes Max was wearing. “My name is Ella. How may I serve…help,” she snapped out of her daydream like stare, “how may I help you? You look lost,” she quickly caught herself straying off topic.

Wynter. CMO

“See, a servitor race,” Bob began to say and got an elbow in his holographic stomach for his troubles. “Bob, not now, and if you think that was the reaction of a servitor race you need marriage counseling more than I do.” Max said quietly back.

“Hi Ella, I’m Max, kinda new around here,” he smiled at her widely. “I’m from Starfleet, but i’m on leave so maybe you can help me?” He started, using the fact he was on leave to explain why he wasn’t in uniform. “I just came from the colony and I’m looking for someone, my wife. She was abducted by two Ferengi and I haven’t been able to find out where she went from them, I need help, maybe local police or law enforcement can shed some light, are you able to help me find out where I can find them?”

Lt Cmdr Wynter, CE

“Police,” she let out a small laugh. “You mean security?” Ella’s expression was close to bemused as she shook her head with a grin. “You are from off world.”

“Is it that obvious?” Max smiled, sliding his hands casually into his jacket pockets.

“Mundai Prime has not had a need for security or a police force in centuries. We have an investigative help division but that is mainly for lost kids and such. Things like kidnapping, murder, guns, and violence in any form is not really common here. Every once in awhile we get the stray case but who would want their medical status to be revoked,” she laughed. “Come on,” she made a sweeping gesture with her hand. “I am pretty sure your wife just got separated from you and is waiting in another terminal. We can go pull up her information at the main desk,” Ella said helpfully.

Max followed, but shook his head. “I think it is a little more involved than that,” he said and the smile slipped a little. “I doubt you are going to find anything at the desk, I really need to speak to your Security.”

As they reached the large marble counter, Ella looked up at Max. “So what is her full name,” she asked?

“Jasmine Wynter,” he told her, leaning over the desk to look at the screen in case anything did happen to come up.

“Jahs min Wyn ter,” she said th name as she typed it in. As the screen ran the date Ella looked at Max. It was hard to keep her eyes off of him. The rugged spikey hair mixed with those blue eyes. Whoever this Mrs. Wynter’s was was one lucky woman. Ella daydreamed a second about what Max would look like looking at his wife and how it would feel to have those eyes turned onto you for a purpose. Ella could feel her temperature rising the more she thought about the man on the other side of the counter. “So what do you like to eat? We have a great seafood place around the corner. Might want to check that out when you find your wife,” she suggested with a friendly smile.

Ella

“Do they do Sushi?” Max asked her, “has that even made it out this far into the Delta quadrant yet?” He kept it light, even though he was inwardly itching and tense to find Jasmine and this was slowing him down, still, Ella might be more help than he thought.

“No, but they have a great Shockaboo Steaks. Get one of those medium rare with a side of whipped blue potatoes and you are in heaven. I assume you were looking for a high end dinner,” Ella probed Max a bit. If he was married that would not be the best news she had all day. Seeing the scan of faces running like a blur on the screen she drummed her fingers on her the surface of the table where the console was mounted. Maybe this was just a way to get to know her. Strange way to go about it but the man either had nerves of steel or was using the most bizarre opening line to hit on a girl.

Wynter CMO

“So we got anything on your system? She might not have come through the terminals here, it’s complicated.”

Lt Cmdr Wynter, CE

“You know it might go faster if we could match a facial scan to the name. Do you have a picture of her,” Ella asked turning to look at Max. The fact that she was having a hard time finding her in the system was troubling but no more than why a man as handsome as this was standing next to her looking for the woman in question. He didn’t seem overly agitated or upset which made Ella wonder about the validity of his story. It also didn’t explain why Max seemed to be traveling with another guy too. Maybe this Bob was her brother or friend.

“A picture?” Max parroted. “Ella, I’m from Starfleet, the Federation. We don’t exactly carry photographs in our wallets anymore.” He reached to his coat and started looking for his personal PaDD. “I should have one here though, one moment, maybe from her file.”

“So you have no way to store memories except by a mental image,” she raised an eye skeptically. Remembering they were from off-world she tried to be helpful. “You don’t have one on your personal device,” Ella pulled out her communicator and touched a button. A holographic image popped up of her and a small furry animal that had to be a pet. Flicking her finger she passed several of herself in silly poses with friends until she stopped on one with an older woman. “See this is me and my mom,” she said happily showing Max. “Her name is Marlina.” Waving her hand she looked at Max as if this would suddenly jar his memory to find one instantly.

“Oh she looks so friendly,” Bob craned his head to look with a smile.

“She is,” Ella gave Bob a warm grin. “Every Sunday we go out and get lunfast. That’s the meal that is between breakfast and lunch,” she explained to Bob and Max.

“You want to see a pic of a mom that is not so warm and fuzzy you should check out Mr. Logan’s mom,” he gestured to Max. Seeing his companion the emergency marriage hologram realized he might need some help here.

“If you don’t have one I am sure I have one stored away,” Bob said helpfully to Max. Pulling out his wallet, Bob flipped through several images on a screen with his facial expression changing as he looked at each one. “Nope. Ugh Ugh. This isn’t tooo bahhhhhd. Definitely not,” he let out a large chuckle staring at the image on his screen. “Wait wait what about this one? It has both of you in it. It was our first therapy session,” Bob suggested spinning a picture around to show Jasmine sitting on the couch with her arms crossed glaring straight ahead with Max next to her wearing an expression of annoyance on his face.

“Really? You chose that one of us?” Max asked, the tone of his voice finding little humor. “Why exactly do you have a wallet, Bob. Stop that, you know it isn’t funny.” Max blinked for a second and looked at the picture. “Bob, you were taking pictures of us then? How many more exactly have you got, and of what?”

“How many times have we had a session,” Bob let out a deep belly laugh. “As I commented Mrs. Logan and Mrs. Wynter need proof that they are taking marriage therapy sessions seriously.”

Ella looked at the image and raised an eyebrow questioningly. The image did not show two people in love. “Therapy session,” she took the image from Bob almost gingerly and looked at Max.

“It’s not like it sounds,” Max started. “He has a habit of making it sound a lot worse than it really is. It’s kinda his thing. Ever heard of making mole hills into mountains?”

“So you are not in marriage counseling,” Ella looked between the two men.

“Yes, they are in marriage counseling. I’m their therapist,” Bob stated happily rocking back on his heels shoving his hands in his pockets. “They have had a few rocky moments since she was assigned to marry him but hey,” he threw up his hands in a happy manner, “who wouldn’t dontcha agree?”

“Well when you put it like that, wait what? Bob you know full well how marriage works on Mintara.” Max spread his hands defensively. “It really isn’t like it sounds.”

“Maaaaaakkkkssss,” Bob spread his arms like he was about to embrace the man in a deep hug. “I am Mintaran too. I know the deal. I love the deal. Who would want to date over and over again searching desperately for the right woman when you can look at the women available to be married and you just swipe to have her assigned to you. The system is brilliant,” Bob looked over at Ella. “Takes all the work out. You go to the Ministry. They upload your profile and then assign you a spouse. Also saves a ton of momeny and time doesn’t it,” Bob elbowed Max playfully.

“She was assigned…to marry…you,” Ella looked between Max, the image in her hands, and Bob. This was getting weirder and weirder by the second. Ella gave a side glance to the security officer across the room and licked her lips. Why are all the hot ones crazy, she thought to herself.

Ella

“Yes… no! No, no she was not ‘assigned’, she filled out the questionnaire and she got matched to me, then she voluntarily signed the marriage contract. She is happy.” Max explained and then crossed his arms, chin in his palm. No matter how you tried to explain it, non-Mintarans always thought it was some weird cult like operation and not a very scientific and culturally accurate method of matching people and avoiding the heartbreak that often came with failed relationships.

“Happy like Stockholm Syndrome or happy because,” she stopped talking giving Max a small smile. The man seemed charming, pleasant, the kind of guy you took home and your mom had the wedding invitations filled out before he left from dinner. Her grin would tell him she was just teasing and really didn’t need a response to her question.

“Look. I need to find my wife.” Max reached out and took the device from Ella, and then flipped through more photo’s, giving Bob an evil look more than once. “Here, this was on her birthday last month.” The photograph showed Max and Jasmine together on a beach with the sun clearly setting behind them, or more accurately, both suns setting behind them as they walked hand in hand, Max carrying a picnic basket and Jasmine her flip flops and some kind of cocktail, both wearing swimsuits and smiling at each other.

“Now tell me, Do you have a Jasmine Wynter in your system? I doubt you do, because she didn’t come through here and I need your security services to trace the transport signal from the weapon that she was shot with, that marked her for transport somewhere. I need to find my wife, Ella, please, and this calm face I have is getting old. If someone you loved was in trouble, wouldn’t you want to help them?”

Lt Cmdr Wynter, CE.

“Wait she was shot,” Ella looked at Max confused by the new information. “If she was shot she would not come through this directory but through the medical systems.” Her face was a bit grimmer but it was of concern for Max rather than suspicion about the man. He also did not want to involve the police right now even if he didn’t know it.

“No, not like that,” Max explained. “She was shot with a transporter marker pistol. It marks the person for immediate transport and activates the transporter remotely when they are not wearing a comm-badge. It’s often used to kidnap people by underworld organizations. The technology is banned in the Federation but a few criminal groups use it. That is why I need to find her, and speak to the security people here.”

“Is there a problem here Ella Bella,” a man suddenly said from behind Max. He was clad in the uniform of the security division. Whether it was the official police or the regular police, was unclear to Bob or Max but not to Ella.

“No Brexton,” she waved the man off with a semi happy but slightly tense hand gesture. “They just lost their luggage and I was helping them retrieve it. How is Ameaila,” she asked indicating a personal relationship with the man.

“Oh good she just got out of surgery last week but you know the doctors here. Finest in the sector so she will be back and running at full speed in a week or two.” Brexton couldn’t help but sense something was off. Ella seemed a bit on edge and the two men standing here were not clearly locals. He weighed his options about what to do. Nothing seemed out of place yet the tone of the pretty attendant seemed off. Eyeing Max, Brexton scrutinized him with a heavy gaze. “How long are you staying?”

“I think his travel papers said,” Ella started before Brexton held up a hand indicating he wanted Max to respond.

Ella

“Not long, if our plans work out.” Max said and smiled at the man. Ella seemingly had no reason to lie about anything and the man looked like he was security, but her reluctance to involve him sent alarm bells ringing in Max’s head, especially after Max had just told her about Jasmine and what had happened. Security seemed like the perfect place to start, but this Ella seemed to think otherwise and Max thought she might know a little more about things here than he thought at first.

“Uh huh,” Brexton shifted his glance between Ella and Max. “And you are,” he left the question open-ended. Most of the time people hung themselves when you let him talk. Ella seemed off but the man with her was far enough away that he couldn’t be holding her hostage or threatening her.

“I’m Max Wynter, an Engineer from Starfleet. I’m on leave and doing some sightseeing,” he told him, then indicated Bob. “This is Bob, he’s a gift from my mother-in-law,” he grinned and held up his wrist, showing the bracelet on it. “He’s a hologram, a holographic assistant to be exact,” and then he looked at Bob, who had opened his mouth to protest the description. “Bob, get in the bracelet, I can take it from here.”

“Wait, but I don’t want…” Bob began, but Max pressed the override button on the side of the bracelet and with a blink, Bob faded out and returned to his mobile emitter.

“See, just a hologram,” Max said and leant casually on the bench towards Ella. “I only brought a small suitcase, if it’s been lost there is nothing in there of value, just a few changes of clothes. I can always go shopping and buy more, this lovely lady here recommended a good restaurant to start at for dinner on my first day here, a seafood place that does Shackabee steaks, I think,” he looked at Ella for confirmation.

“Yes,” she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear demurely. Her mind raced as fast as her heart. There was no reason why Ella could not have met someone while she was working. Lord knows many others especially the men, hit on every single lady arriving but she was not known for such behavior. “I just thought of that or Pilanaries,” she threw out to Brexton to encourage talking about anything but Max.

“Pilanaries is a good choice,” Brexton nodded his head as if weighing the options. In truth, he was not weighing the options of meal choices but something far more concerning.

“Anyhow I was planning on doing some sightseeing, maybe pick up a gift for my wife. She’s a doctor, our Chief Medical Officer on the starship actually. I heard something about an Ameaila? I hope she recovers quickly.” Max smiled easily again, but he was very much considering shooting the man with the transporter pistol and following the sirens that raced to wherever he called in the alarm in from.

Lt Cmdr Wynter, CE

“So you are getting a gift for your wife because you miss her or to ease your conscious for spending a weekend with her,” Brexton stared at Max hard. None of this song and dance seemed to be making any sense.

“Brexton,” Ella snapped anger flooding her face. The look she gave him was no longer friendly but one filled with daggers.

“I am calling this in,” Brexton reached for his collar when a loud explosion rocked the south end of the space port. Ella screamed in shock as she covered her head and crouched down as if expecting another wave of explosions to tear through the area. Thick black smoke billowed towards the north end propelled but the force of the explosion. The sound of screams and crying fought to be heard over the klaxons blaring for emergency personnel to come to the location. “Do not move,” Brexton bellowed pointing to Max and Ella as he ran towards the scene of the commotion.

“We need to go now,” she said rapidly to Max. As fast at Brexton turned around, Ella reached out grabbing Max’s hand. “Do not let go of me,” she said heading down the far end of the hall along with everyone else in her and Max’s vicinity. It only took a second before they became pinned in the crowd desperate to escape the room. “Don’t let go of my hand,” she pleaded to Max fighting against the throngs of bodies shoving her and Max about. Whether it was her imagination or reality, Ella clung to Max elbowing people trying to get back to his side. Men hurled curses as women yelled and children sobbed all around them. In stark contrast was the public address system that began to give out instructions using a soft, calm, motherly tone.

PLEASE REMAIN CALM. HELP IS COMING TO ASSIST YOU. Repeated over and over in a rhythmic tone meant to soothe and comfort those listening to it. For some individuals, it seemed to work but for others, it appeared to heighten their anxiety more.

Seeing the pair was drifting from where she needed to go, Ella became frantic. The crowd was becoming crushing as everyone raced to the small entrance letting people out of the area. She felt like she could not breathe as walls of people started to block off her line of site. “Max,” she yelled slightly falling forward. Someone in her section had tripped. It only took a second for Ella to understand it was over a body. The idea that one could be trampled fueled the need for escape. Her eyes and throat burned as the smoke followed them toward the point of exit. She blinked rapidly trying to clear them. While Max was not a security officer he would know the difference between smoke from a fire and what appeared to be surrounding them now.

PLEASE REMAIN CALM. HELP IS COMING TO ASSIST YOU.

The more Ella inhaled the harder it was becoming to breathe. Her lungs felt like they were on fire and her eyes watered as if she were crying hysterically.

“We need to go left,” she coughed hard trying to point to the small service entrance that no one appeared to be using.

PLEASE REMAIN CALM. HELP IS COMING TO ASSIST YOU. SECURITY FORCES ARE ON ROUTE. THE AREA IS BEING SEALED OFF FOR YOUR PROTECTION. STAND BACK FROM THE SECURITY DOORS

The new announcement caused the crowds to ripple like a wave as bodies were tossed around like a human tsunami. The security doors to the spaceport began to grind shut not stopping as it sensed human bodies in the way. The panic hit a crescendo as soft white gas began to pour from nozzles at the ceiling spreading down and out like a thick fog. As they reached the small service entrance Ella hacked and wheezed patting her pants frantically. “I lost my pass. I can’t get the door open. We have to get out. We can’t stay here,” she slide down the wall running her fingers through her hair.

PLEASE REMAIN CALM. HELP IS COMING TO ASSIST YOU. SECURITY FORCES HAVE ARRIVED. THEY WILL BEGIN TO PROCESS THE CITIZENS. YOUR HELP IS APPRECIATED

Ella


Notes on USS Manhattan

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