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Proximity Alert

Introduction The Station Puzzles Away Team
The Thing Bug Hunt Deep Space Nine The Second Attack
Infirmary Hunger Awake!  

Chapter Four =/\= The Thing

"So what are we looking for, Stefan?"

Tovarishch replied. "Energy readings have been spotted around here, in the lab modules. I heard they were up to something shady, if you know what I mean."

"Says who?"

"I read it in the Starfleet Comms mag."

"That's useless. They don't know anything. All they're concerned about is lifestyles of the rich and famous and the latest Elvis sightings."

"Talking of which, did you know he was a Betazoid?"

"What? You'll be telling me next that Cochrane was a Changeling!"

"It's true! The last issue of Comms said so. Apparently he could sense the emotional states of his audience at live concerts. That's why all his songs were hits. They were emotionally charged."

"Now I know you're making it up. Elvis can't have been Betazoid because he lived on Earth in the mid twentieth century, before we discovered interstellar travel."

"So, just because he sang all his songs on Earth doesn't mean he never went on tour to any other planet in the galaxy!"

"Look, there he is there!"

Tovarishch turned to face where Woods was pointing and then walked into an overhanging bulkhead. "That's not funny, Campbell!"

"Yeah, well, you ain't nothin' but a hound dog!"

They made their way to the lab modules. Tovarishch scanned with his tricorder. "That's weird... there seems to be life signs here."

"That's not possible, Stef."

"See for yourself, Cam."

They found an opening formed by the breaching of a bulkhead and entered. The lab was on its side, but somehow the grav plates were still working.

"The place looks like a bomb hit it!"

"Close enough, Cam."

There were several vats containing organic compounds, some pulsing with bio-luminescence, others were showing signs of movement, in various shades of green and silver. Most of the vats had been shattered and their contents were scattered all across the lab floor, moving and exploring their environment.

"What the hell is that?"

"Some kind of experiment, let's keep a safe distance from them."

"You said it, Stef!"

Tovarishch's comm chirped. "Meechan to Tovarishch"

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Meechan played the controls of the one console remaining intact, and after a few attempts, accessed the recent logs of the station. A great deal of comm-traffic had been exchanged with Starfleet Intelligence Corps and a private company called Militrek Systems Ltd.

"Roberts, set up a link with the main computer and upload all this information, we'll analyse it later.'

"Aye, sir.'

He tapped his combadge, "Meechan to Tovarishch."

"Tovarishch here, sir"

"Found anything?"

"Yeah, we've found what seems to be some experimental vats containing organic slime or what looks like mercury, and Oh My God! Cam! Look Out!"

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Woods turned away and stepped near one of the vats, as Tovarishch answered Meechan's call, and looked at the swirling shades of silver and dark green forming an almost hypnotic spiral pattern. Within seconds the amoeba-like substance coagulated to form a pair of tentacles and dragged him in. Tovarishch yelled a warning, but it was too late, and he watched in horror as Woods disappeared beneath the surface of what looked like a silver oil slick.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Oh God, Cam! It ate Cam! A big silver oil-slick is swallowed Cam!

"Tovarishch, get the hell out of there!" Meechan yelled. "Meechan to Avenger - emergency beamout!"

"Acknowledged. Stand by for transport!"

------------------------------------------------------------------------

The ghostly electrical shimmer appeared in the transporter room, where Ahmad waited for them.

"I've lost a pattern!" The transporter operator yelled, frantically trying every pattern booster he could enter in the panel, as three streams of energy and data began to coalesce into the bodies of the away team. Tovarishch writhed around in panic, Meechan and Roberts restrained him with great difficulty.

Ahmad stepped around and placed his hand lightly on Tovarishch's neck and shoulder and pinched hard; Tovarishch collapsed, out cold. He glanced at the despondent transporter operator: "Don't blame yourself, Lieutenant. It's not your fault."

"What the hell happened down there, where's Ensign Woods?" Ahmad demanded, as they took the unconscious Tovarishch to sickbay.

"Roberts and I were in the main command centre, uploading information, while Tovarishch and Woods went to the lab modules. I set up the link and called them to check their progress. They said they found some stuff in vats moving around and then Tovarishch started screaming about Woods being eaten alive. He's not the type to fly off the handle like that, and he certainly wouldn't start panicking without reason!" He shivered slightly "Whatever got Woods can't have been pretty if it affected Tovarisch like that and it's still down there. I ought to go there and bring back what's left of Woods."

"Take some security personnel with you, I'll issue them with phaser rifles."

"Aye, Sir."

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