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In the tubes

Posted on Wed Aug 9th, 2023 @ 12:51pm by Senior Chief Petty Officer Mason Malone & Ensign Rimal Iska

Mission: Wrath of the People
Location: Jeffries tube leading from engineering
Timeline: MD8 :: Following "The Battle For Engineering"
1894 words - 3.8 OF Standard Post Measure

Mason tumbled inside the tube as George pushed him in, grimacing as he landed on his injured arm. He hissed as he turned back, fully expecting his partner to follow. Instead, he was faced with Iska, and a hatch that was closed behind him. "George!" He called out, not even sure he'd be heard. Not when he didn't have the energy to even raise his voice.

Iska also didn't enter the tube nicely, thanks to George's haste to shut the hatch. The impact onto his injured side made him see stars, and it took a moment for him to even move as pain enveloped him. "We must move," he strained, forcing himself to move his arms so they could push his body up. While he didn't have an ahkayah, a love, like Mason, he recognized the pain in his eyes as he looked past Iska. It held what looked like betrayal, perhaps fear as well, but Iska could also see Mason's love for George. Moving closer to Mason, he tried again, "Malone, we must keep going. Us getting help will increase his chances of survival."

"How..." Mason whispered as he worked himself up into a sitting position. He was starting to feel lightheaded, despite whatever he'd been injected with. He looked the other man over. "How badly were you hurt? I heard you scream when the forcefield was hit.." he glanced down at the bloody handprints on the floor, then at the strip of George's tunic that was wrapped around his arm. "How far is it to sickbay? Does this module even have one?"

Iska shook his head. "I'm fine," he lied. "Stop thinking about the injuries, or you'll succumb to them." It was a phrase his father had told him, to remind him to keep going until your body physically couldn't anymore. He also knew it wouldn't help Mason to know just how bad Iska's injuries were. He could still move, even if it felt precarious with the tremble in his arms, and that's all Mason needed to know right now. "Sickbay is on deck seven. We just need to get to an intersection with a vertical junction." Not taking no for an answer, Iska pushed himself fully onto his hands and knees and looked to Mason, expecting him to do the same.

Slowly, Mason nodded at his Bajoran companion, knowing the man was lying but accepting the answer anyway. He shifted and started shuffling along the tube, avoiding putting weight on his right arm. "How long have you been on this ship now?" He asked between breaths, deciding he needed some form of distraction as they crawled ahead.

"A couple weeks now, I think," the Bajoran responded. He was glad Mason was in front, because otherwise the man would have probably stopped moving if he saw Iska's pained expression as he pushed himself to keep moving. "I was there when we fought Romulans on that missing Starfleet ship." For a moment, Iska remembered struggling to breathe after he had gotten shot, and it reminded him of his current struggle. Stop it, he thought, with a light shake of his head. "What about you? How long have you been here?"

"About a year now I think? Not entirely sure..." While he couldn't see Iska's face he could hear the pain. Again though, he chose to ignore it for his companion's benefit. "Served with Zade's predecessor...for a while. So I guess..." He paused, gritting his teeth as he misjudged a movement and bashed against the wall. "About a year as security too." He stopped moving after a few more places. "There's a hatch you know how to slide down rather than climb? It's faster, but not safer."

"I do," Iska responded, stopping behind Mason as he recalled his Academy training. In the tube's lighting, he could see how poorly the other man was faring. He was looking slightly more pale than when they first got into the tubes. "Let me go first. You're injuries are worse than mine, and I can at least try to catch you if you fall." He didn't like suggesting it, as the offer came with the risk that Iska would get even more injured. At the same time, he couldn't let his comrade risk getting killed, not when he had a chance to avoid it.

Mason could see the logic in that and nodded. "One deck at the time, or...." He asked as together they opened the hatch. "Doesn't sound like we're being followed.. but we should hurry." A worried look crossed his face. "We shouldn't have left him," he muttered, slowly shaking his head. The motion made him feel even more lightheaded. "Let's go."

Being careful to not hurt either of them, Iska navigated around Mason in the space provided by the intersection and positioned himself at the hatch. "One at a time would be safer." Gripping the bars of the ladder, he mentally prepared himself for the controlled drop. "He will be fine, I know it," he assured, before looking down to make sure he could gauge his distance. It was a little difficult with his black eye, but once he was confident he removed his feet from the bar and loosened his grip just enough to slide.

Iska's controlled fall lasted for a couple seconds before his feet hit the deck, and his knees bent as he absorbed the impact. The intersection he slid into was large enough for him to stand in, and the number 4 could be seen painted on one of the walls. Taking a step away from the ladder to give Mason room, he looked up in preparation for the descent.

Mason's descent was less flattering as he no longer had any grip-strength in his right hand. "Oof!" He exclaimed as he landed, sprawling on the deck. "One down..." Carefully he scrambled into a crouch, pressing his arm to his chest. "Next...."

Iska didn't expect him to drop so fast, and somewhat caught him as he fell. "Sorry," he muttered, cringing at his rough landing. Moving to the next ladder, he positioned himself to slide again. This time, his injured shoulder grazed the opening in the floor, and the searing pain made him lose focus. He was unsure if he momentarily blacked out from the pain, but he was suddenly at the bottom of the ladder, looking up at the hatch and very aware that his body felt like it was inside the warp core. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment to try and breathe through the intense pain, his breath coming as short gasps, before using the ladder to slowly get to his feet. He couldn't give up, not after they were so close. After making sure that he wouldn't fall over, he looked up to Mason. "Ready..."

"No you're not," Mason disagreed as he was witness to the landing. Contrary to what he knew was wise, he tried to use both hands to control his slide down. He knocked into Iska harder than he had planned and tears sprung into his eyes. "Sorry" he muttered, "I don't think we can handle going down one more. You're hurt too." He tilted his head as he seemed to listen then wrinkled his nose. "What's that smell? It wasn't here before."

The Bajoran fell again from the impact, and tried to insist that they could continue, they had to, but it was difficult to form words when all he wanted to do was be free of the pain. At Mason's question, Iska took in a shallow breath through his nose, detecting the faint scent now in the air as he pushed himself up to sit. Sweet, with a hint of metallic. "Anaesthezine..." he strained, recognizing the smell. He remembered what his father told him about situations like this, and at first he thought the old man was crazy, but now he understood his father's words.

Iska released all the gas-contaminated air from his lungs and held his breath as he worked to get his undershirt off, clenching his jaw tightly as the fabric brushed the burn on his arm. Fighting his urge to breathe, he ripped the shirt into two pieces before tossing one piece to Mason. He then wadded up the fabric in his hand and placed it against his nose and mouth before taking a gasping breath in. "Cover your face," Iska instructed, his voice somewhat muffled by the fabric. The cloth wouldn't do much to filter the air, but it would buy them time. "If we want a chance of survival, we need to get out of the tubes, now."

"But where," Mason hissed, pressing the offered cloth to his face. It smelled burned and it made him gag, but he kept it in place. "I don't know where we are Iska. Do you?" He glanced around, his vision swimming as he took a swaying step forward. "Where to. I'll follow."

The hope that he hadn’t breathed in too much of the gas faded as Iska's thoughts started to get fuzzy. Blinking hard to clear the fog, Iska cautiously stood and tried to concentrate on his recollection of the ship diagram. "Come on..." he muttered to himself, trying to think. He pinched the back of the hand holding the cloth, something to ground him and focus on. "Deck 5, intersection... three, section 16... astrometrics should be nearby... I think," he said. Orienting himself as if he were looking at the ship diagram, he pointed to the hatch on the left. "Two junctions down, one to the left."

With his free hand, Iska opened the hatch and crawled in, his progress slower because he had only one hand to support himself. The sweet smell was nearly imperceptible through his makeshift mask, and he fought against the heaviness that started to tempt him toward unconsciousness. One... He pushed the cloth so hard into his face that it made his nose ache, but the sensation reminded him to stay awake. Two... he thought as he passed the next junction. Looking around the corner, he saw the hatch with the words "Astrometrics" printed by the access panel to the side. At least, that's vaguely what it resembled, as the gas made it difficult to comprehend. "It's here!" He called behind him, his voice fatigued.

Stumbling along, Mason followed. At the end of his strength, he helped Iska open the hatch and the two security men tumbled inside. The chemical scent of the gas followed them as they managed to close the hatch. Blinking a few times, Mason glanced around, took a few unbalanced steps, then collapsed. "I'm sorry...I can't...we need help. I'm..." He closed his eyes. "Comp... EMH..." He mumbled, "summ-H.."

Iska's memories were a jumble. He was in the jefferies tube, then he felt Mason's hand helping him out, then he was a couple meters away from the hatch, staring at the spinning ceiling while trying to lift his now heavy arm to put the cloth back over his mouth. Groggily moving his eyes, he saw a form he hoped was Mason next to him. It felt like he couldn't move, his limbs were too heavy, everything was slipping... "Computer... ac... tivate..." his words were slurred and slow as he tried to remember how to function. "EM... H..."


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