Canopus Station
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The Wire Wolves

Posted on Fri Sep 4th, 2020 @ 12:37am by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci & Lieutenant Commander Gerrin Rhonin & Lieutenant Commander Meilin Jiang & Lieutenant Murray Jacobs & Master Chief Petty Officer Ryan Terry

Mission: S2:2: Best Laid Plans
Location: Canopus Station, Residential Habitation Block 7
Timeline: MD1: 19.15

The site to site transpoter's were overloaded both by the volume people needing evacuation, and the power needed to punch through the growing electromagnetic interference. Which meant the rescue teams from Station Security and Operations would need to come in laterally instead of directly.

The Stardock's habitation blocks were four cuboid-shaped volumes set around the central core of the station below the dock but above the agri dome. Each cuboid had twenty levels of habitation, with turbolift access at the core and at the outer corners.

So for ResHab7 there were three entrances: the two at the corners abutting the other housing modules, and the community central lift plaza. It was this area that Captain Ingram and others arrived at using one of the mass transit lift cars. The first thing that struck them was the scene of utter normality: the central plaza was part communal space and eatery, and at any time of day could have dozens of people wandering it.

But the benches were empty, the holographic signs and posters now replaced by bright yellow CAUTION: EVACUATE flashers. Mere minutes before there would have been hundreds of people here, before the beam out.

At least, that was the hope.

The second thing that struck the team was the heavy electrical scent of ozone in the air. It stang the nose, and even Ingram wrinkled his as he took in a breath.

"Any electrical overloads?" Ingram asked aloud as he stepped out into the plaza.

"Multiple locations," Meilin replied as she pointed her tricorder along the various fixtures. "The EPS grid auto-shunted there, there, and there." She pointed out a few spots. "Something irregular is at work, though. Correct me if I'm wrong, Mara, but wouldn't the EPS tap be closed off after that?"

"If everything is working properly, yes," replied Mara, frowning around at everything. "But, I think we've already established that it isn't." She went to the nearest console and punched in her access codes, but nothing happened. "Did... did we get locked out because of the evac- oh! No, I actually disconnected everything from each other, didn't I? Damn. Okay, I guess we do this the old fashioned way," she added, taking out a tricorder.

Almost the same instant the tricorder came online, it blinked at its operator furiously as the local interference overwhelmed the sensor.

"Mister Rhonin, I want the hab module searched for stragglers. Maximum caution, you have my authorisation to euthanise any hostiles we find," Ingram said, stepping further from the lift plaza. Behind the plaza was a small group of eateries, two of which were chain operated franchises: a Porkies Porcine Picnic and a Smiling Vulcan Noodles. The other a simple wall-mounted replo-mat.

Or at least it had been once.

The area around the replo-mat's three dispenser booths was blackened with char, the plastic cladding of the walls melting into puddles of hard hydrocarbons. Beyond the panelling, the metalwork was also cinder choked, with the guts of all three high capacity replicators exposed and ruined.

And from the dispenser's of each a stream of conduit wire had gushed forth, piling up like squid ink noodles on a plate. It was almost like the replicators had burned themselves out making piles and coils of wiring.

"Computer," Meilin said. "Perform a level 4 diagnostic for all subroutines within the replicator matrices."

Gerrin nodded to the Captain, "Understood." He turned to face the security team with them. "You heard the man, search the module for stragglers. Hostile Euthanization Protocol is in effect per the Captain's authorization." He then turned to look at the dispenser booths...it would probably be a while before he ate food from one of them again.

The coils of wire sparked fitfully for a second, the voltage in them making the lengths of glossy superconductor writh for a moment before settling.

"Mara? If I'm not mistaken Mister Spires run his little one-man hat-rag out of an office space in this module? It goes against my better judgement, but you might want to check to see if he's alright. His death would be a complication," Ingram said as he walked to the service counter of The Smiling Vulcan.

Peering over the counter, he could see into the kitchen area. Induction hobs boiling vats of noodles, prepared assortments of garnishes and ingredients. And in the back, next to the main power junction, was a small replicator alcove with the same gothic waterfall of black wiring flowing from its.

"Curious..." Ingram mused.

Mara rolled her eyes as if unconcerned, but secretly, she was suddenly worried. Wouldn’t it be just like Spires to keep his nose in his own business now of all times? But after checking his office and finding him not there and then checking his location with the computer, she was satisfied they her original assessment that he was nowhere near here was correct. “Good news,” she announced almost sarcastically as she returned to the group. “He is safe and sound nosing around my office as usual. Lucky I keep everything in there locked out unless my bio sign is in the room.”

"I'm concerned that you'd unlock those features with him in the room period," Ingram returned.

Meanwhile, Ryan had gone over and was inspecting the black wiring with his tricorder. "Captain...you need to see this. This cable is a super conductor not of Federation design. In fact it combines the functions of conductor and capacitor in the same body."

Meilin did not like the sound of that. "All conductors exhibit capacitance on some level, but if this material amplifies that even more than per usual..." Her words trailed off for a second as her gaze swept the entire area. "We are potentially standing inside of an immense microwave emitter." Looking to Ingram, she added, "We may need to prepare for a possible evacuation scenario, Captain Ingram."

Mara sighed irritably. She had not lassoed and hog tied this station to abandon it. “I suggest we cut all power to this entire level,” she said. “Not ideal, but it’s better than frying the whole station.”

Ingram opened his mouth to say something but was cut off as a horrible high pitched whine filled the air. He winced along with a few others, as two of the piles of cables suddenly writhed, crackling with energy before settling back onto themselves.

"That might be a good idea," Ingram said, looking to Mara with a nod.

"Cutting the power is a really good idea," Ryan said as he checked his tricorder. "Maybe we shouldn't have made those backups, Commander."

"Maybe?" replied Mara with a wry grin.

There was a heavy 'chunk' sound as one of the corridors leading off from the communal area went dark, with only soft blue emergency lighting illuminating that stretch of corridor. Then the keening whine started. From that corridor arose a haunted glow, flowed by the bright bursts of phaser energy from one of Gerrin's security teams.

There was a scream, and from one of the hab units down that corridor a security officer bolted, bouncing off the opposite side of the wall in their haste. He nearly made it to the commons area when the thing from the hab unit ran him down.

It looked like frozen lightning, caught in a single frame between nanoseconds. The structure was picked out in stark black lines, the form hunched over four limbs with a jagged protrusion of spikes at where a head should be. But its surface was covered in roiling energy, crackling along spines like a jacobs ladder. One of its pointed limbs knifed into the running security officer, instantly turning the body into a cloud of fast-moving ash and carbon.

It stood there at the mouth of the corridor, a step away from crossing into the communal dining area.

"Computer, activate level 10 force fields at all entrances to the dining commons," Meilin said after a swift tap to her combadge. Looking to Mara, she said, "Where's the nearest Operations console from here?"

The Wire Wolf rammed against the forcefield as it came down, turning the transparent barrier of shearing force opaque with feedback. Lightning tickled along the frame of the doorway. With a howl of charging capacitors the creature backed away from the forcefield and placed a single glowing appendage against it.

And pushed.

The forcefield bowed slightly, crackling with discharge.

"Those emitters won't last long," Ingram said.

Mara blinked at the... the thing and then tore her eyes away to meet Meilin's. "Just this way," she said, nodding conveniently in the other direction from the wire wolf. She set off towards it.

He'd been poised to run to the fleeing man's aid when It appeared. A nightmare in colour and sound, a vision of swift death as it turned out. Dr Jacobs flinched at the instant demise of the security officer and turned to give Rhonin a significant look.

"Um. Um. Um. Fuck. Um," The Master Chief managed several times. "We need a conductor!"

Meanwhile, Mara had managed to make her way to the ops console and pressed her palm to it to open it. "Do we just want to cut power?" she asked, crouching to open an access panel below it and examining the wiring and circuits behind.

One of the coils of wire that had disgorged from the food court replicators began to hum, growing louder as capacitance began to build within it.

"We need to scan it first," Meilin called out, neither ill-tempered nor calm. "We cannot risk anything other than confinement with this manner of creature until we know more about it. Run internal sensor sweeps and collate them locally to our tricorders. I expect we will otherwise run short of time..."

With an agitated sigh, Mara stood and punched a couple of buttons on the console, successfully starting said sensor sweep. "Come on, come on, come on," she muttered, watching the sweep carefully. When it was nearly finished, she began typing in another command, which would send the results to all tricorders within the area. The console beeped, indicating that it had finished the sweep and she hit the last button, sending the information. Once she heard the beep of several tricorders, she knelt once more and examined the cables under the console.

The coil of wire that had begun to hum began to move. With a snap of conduction what looked like a forelimb rose out of wire, bending and cackling. With another flash, another forelimb arose, and the Wire Wolf began to rag itself out of the wiring. The other Wire Wolf behind the forefield let out a howl, and this time one of its clawed limbs pushed through the forcefield before the feedback snapped it clean off. Within seconds the limb had regrown, unspooling from the Wire Wolf mass.

With a glance behind her, Mara realized that she didn’t have the time for safety. Luckily, her prosthetic could absorb the electric charge without causing her biological body any damage. However, she had the pain threshold set fairly low, so it was going to hurt. There were six power inputs for this level, all leading from the main power conduit. . She would have to go through them one at a time, but this was the one for the section the wire wolves were in. She took a couple of quick, deep breaths and in one fluid motion, reached in and grabbed the main power feed for this section, yanking it free.

That pain was much worse than she had first feared, nearly paralyzing her in place. But the desired effect was achieved; the section in which she stood with Meilin went completely dark and the background hum of electricity ceased.

Mara cursed loudly. “I really don’t want to repeat that,” she added, checking the prosthetic to make sure no harm had been done. “Please tell me it worked.”

Gerrin had a look of horror on his face at the creature and then at the sudden death of his security officer. He caught Dr. Jacobs' look as if to say, 'Now we know what happened.' His hand had instinctively gone to his phaser, for the good that would do. Energy versus...energy. "I suppose that's one way to do it," he snarked. "You might want to see if you can feel out the Doctor. Or get some light."

The partly formed Wire Wolf let out a tortured scream as the power went out, it's still emerging lower half suddenly going limp and slack. Only the forelimbs, half a torso and a head were clear of the coils. That didn't stop it from stalking forward on its two forelegs, crackling as its jaws snapped open and shut.

But it was dimming as it came for them, not a lot, but it was noticeable as that shadow began to move along its ruined back. Cut off from the main's it was running on its own stored energy.

"Good work Mara, please try not to blow yourself or your co-workers up! And Mister Terry is right we need a conductor, something to ground it out without feeding it back into the main EPS grid," Ingram eyed Rhonin's hand hovering near his phaser. "And correct thinking. You'll only be adding energy back into the system."

"Silver. We need silver," Terry said after a moment of thought. "Silver has the highest thermal conductivity of any element and the highest light reflectance. We can reflect and conduct it. The industrial replicators can be tasked with making conductors out of it."

"That won't work." A long, loose bang flew free as Meilin shook her head. "Whatever this material being replicated... it is a superconductor beyond that of silver, and is a capacitor besides. That means it's stepping up the... these... wire wolves... and if they behave like electrical current then they will follow the path of least resistance, which is assuredly not silver." Just as she finished speaking, a light bulb clicked inside her mind. "Unless..." Snapping her fingers, she said, "Brilliant, Chief. If we replicate anything, it must be insulators. If we can use them to contain the electrical lifeforms and potentially direct them anywhere we wish. My suggestion... the Ag Dome. The natural wood and earth there would ground out the wire wolves. If we could only funnel them into a circuit whose terminus is in the Ag Dome, they would likely rush to ground like moths to flame!"

"The silver wouldn't need to be in a solid form. Even as a molten liquid it would conduct," Ingram said, backing up as the malformed Wire Wolf's torso slumped, its claws digging into the deck as it dragged itself slowly towards the crew. With a sizzling whine, it slumped forward, unspooling into a pile of smoking cabling.

"But perhaps less theory work and more practical application," Ingram stated as a third and fourth glowing Wire Wolf appeared behind the first, still trapped behind its weakening forcefield. Already one of the emitters had shorted out, turning the barrier into a lopsided triangle trying to keep the rectilinear opening closed off. "Mister Terry, do you think you could have the industrial replicators print out silver flechettes for a TR-201 gauss rifle? It might not kill them outright, but it would give Mr Rhonin's officers something other than harsh language to shout at them."

He then looked at Meilin.

"Excellent suggestion. Congratulations you and Chief Engineer Ricci get to build a crude circuit made of elemental silver. Please avoid any patterns made in the form of an occult symbol, I think we've had quite enough bad luck today," Ingram nodded at the flickering forcefield. "Though I might suggest we retreat to work on our projects in a more secure local."

“And I was going to suggest we make it a pentagram,” deadpanned Mara. “I’m going to shut off the power to the rest of the sections- the safe way. Should only take about fifteen minutes.”

Meilin shrugged. "As far as occult symbols go, the pentagram would be among the more preferable ones. But let us tackle this with science and leave mysticism as a last resort."

"Right," Ryan said. "I'll go bugger off now."

"Mister Rhonin escort Chief Terry to the main fabricator, and have your security forces meet you there. The TR-201's can be manufactured there as well. As I recall we don't keep a supply of slug throwing gauss rifles on hand do we?" Ingram said. "But with haste to the turbolifts!"

Gerrin tapped his badge and put out the order for the security forces to meet him at the main fabricator. He then turned to Ingram. "No, I'm not aware of any being stored anywhere. Though, I'll be sure to make some space for these now." Without further ado, he followed after the Chief. What an interesting day this was turning out to be.

 

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