Baker moved at a steady jog down the corridor with his phaser in-hand, eyes scanning every doorway for signs of danger. Two other security officers pounded along at his heels. He turned the corner into Section Seventeen, paused only long enough for his team to clear the intersection. He squinted at the curve of corridor, noticing a few people scattered along the way—the curious and the concerned leaning from the safety of their doorways, craning their necks for even a brief glimpse. Some were too far back to have any hope, Baker noted, but they still tried. Fools.
“Oh gods!” he heard a woman scream. “S-stay back!”
They raced towards the commotion now, pushing past gawkers and moving deeper into the section. The flicker of something striking a security barrier made Baker throw up a fist, calling for a halt. Flattening his back against the wall, he eased closer and closer to the nearby junction. Another flash lit the hallway just around the blind corner, followed by a sizzle of energy. This close, he could hear someone whimpering—probably the woman who had called for help—further back. Baker frowned, motioned for the other two security officers to get into place and flank him. Once they were in position he mouthed a countdown from three, then whipped around the corner with his phaser ready.
It took his mind a moment to really take in what his eyes were seeing. He felt hopelessly stunned by the confusion, but Baker managed to shake it off quickly. Lofting near the ceiling was a speck of amber energy, like a firefly he’d chased as a child on Earth. It bobbed and dipped and bumped against the security field, sending a crackling hum and a burst of light through the air. As it made contact it seemed to recoil and grow dim, almost dwindling to the point where Baker could no longer see it, before it flickered faintly back to life to try again.
So intent was he on the mote of luminescence that he almost didn’t notice the ensign curled up against the wall near a support beam. The woman was pale and trembling, her arms clutching her knees as if she were trying to pull them into her chest. Her eyes were wide with terror, fixed wholly and completely on the ember dancing in the corridor. Every time it moved, she would squeak a whimper and shudder. Baker waved at her, trying to get her attention, but she was too terrified to notice.
Baker paused to watch the pinprick of light dance for a bit, the fingers of his free hand moving thoughtfully against one another. It was contained, but he had to get the ensign out of there somehow. He didn’t have the specialized security clearance to drop just the one force field; if he had the computer drop them, it would drop both barriers and it could flee. It was certainly an option, but one he didn’t feel right trying right off. One person was not worth risking another… or more. While the preliminary reports coming in said people affected by these things weren’t hostile, Baker wasn’t one to risk it.
“Transporters?” he growled between clenched teeth, rolling the phaser in his hand.
“Still down, sir.”
Baker wanted to spit, but he didn’t. It wouldn’t have helped. He stared hard at the wisp trying hard to wish it gone, but that worked about as well as he expected—not at all. Pursing his lips, he checked the setting of his weapon. Low stun, perfect for dissuading the average humanoid or getting a Klingon’s attention. Would it be enough to disable the energy speck? His thumb twitched across the back of the phaser, increasing it to high stun. That had to be enough… right? Maybe he could—
His eyes snapped back to the mote, but it was still where it had been. To the woman, but she was still huddled on the floor. Her eyes! He followed her eyes just in time to catch a flicker of motion. A second ember of energy darted down from the ceiling, pressed against the wall of energy with a loud crackle. Baker lifted his phaser before he could stop himself. It was strange, but he could have sworn the air hummed with… a strange sensation. The amber light seemed almost oblivious as it bumped along the barrier, tested the wall, danced in the air; the sullen cinder seemed almost angry, like a tiger pacing a cage. It dipped away from the wall, seemed to condense itself, then shot at the force field! Baker inwardly braced himself for the impact and the resounding shower of energy…
But the mote simply slipped through the barrier as if it were empty air!
As surprised as the rest of his team, Baker fired his phaser. It missed by a hair, and the ember lurched towards the floor before lancing in his direction. Two more shots sizzled past him as his teammates tried desperately to assist, but it was too quick. It growled through the air a breath from his ear, then dove through the nearby wall. His heart thundering in his skull, Baker moved to get a clear shot of where it had disappeared in case it emerged again. It was a foolish thing, he knew; anything that could move through energy or matter like a fish through water could pop up damned near anywhere!
One of the other officers stepped closer, whispered, “What now, sir?”
“Hold here,” he growled, moving to the nearby computer terminal. Phaser still held tightly in his grip, Baker keyed in his access code and watched as the containment fields snapped out of existence. The amber mote danced in the air for a moment or two, then bumbled closer. Snarling, Baker fired. This time, he struck true and the firefly vanished in a sizzle of energy and a puff of smoke. Satisfied, he lowered his phaser and holstered it, fingers moving against one another at his side.
“Take her to the checkpoint,” he barked. “Get her scanned and find out what medical wants to do with her. Let’s get some tricorders, see if we can’t find out where the other one went. Move!”
Baker’s mouth worked into a sneer as he turned away from his team, his eyes cold and distant. He pressed his ever-moving fingers against his lips, shaking his head slowly. A slow breath left him, barely a whisper.
“Filthy creatures.” Tapping his comm badge, he made a wry face. =^=”Baker to Forgrave. We’ve got… I don’t know, an energy sprite loose on Deck 34. Went right through our containment field. And the wall. We’re looking into it, but could use a hand when you can spare. Baker out.”=^=
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