Geordie swore, sticking his index finger in his mouth reflexively as the energy arced across the inner working of the great pillar. He popped his head out to face the Vulcan technician, "I said to wait! We don't know what these systems do."
"I did nothing. " the austere woman replied from across the room. "Its circuitry seems to have degraded greatly over time. I must repeat that not wearing a personal shield while in close quarters to the device is unwise. "
"These systems are finicky to the slightest touch, the last thing I need to do is accidentally run a current through a weapons system, " Geordie replied, keenly aware that the disapproving stares if a dozen frustrated Vulcans were boring into the back of his skull.
Behind their thin veneer of indifference Geordie knew they were dying to see and touch the pillar. But it had been decided that the only logical course of action was to allow a human team of researchers to beach the pillar. Human DNA was apparently similar enough to that of the giant not to trigger the pillars defensive measures... or so they hoped.
So it was that a human away team of Federation Engineers labored on the greatest wonder of the Vulcan world while it's long time guardians could only watch their tricorders, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It hadn't taken Geordie and his team long to find the weapons arrays, sponson mounted particle cannons hidden behind bellicose artwork. They were so old that the wires connecting them simply crumbled when they were exposed to the open air, a small mercy that had likely saved the captain's life. Early scans indicated a a yield that could have bored a hole in duranium alloy.
Ensign Peters whooped with glee from the other side of the pillar, "Sir, I think I found something. "
"What is it?" Geordie bushed the front of his uniform as he stood up, walking round the mouth of the pillars entrance and into the cavernous space of the stasis pod's entrance.
Peters stood beneath a winding mess of cables and wires, his tricorder attached to the Giants discarded helmet with a thin glowing filament. A cruel looking spike pierced the helmet at the space where the Giants head would have met its neck, humming dully as orange pulses of heat and light ran it's ribbed length. Garbled words and phrases echoed out from the helm, a growling chant as spiteful as it was joyous.
"I've linked into the pillars primary computer. There is a lot of data here but I think I found their first contact protocols." He smiled, "We upload this to the Enterprise and we should have a working language profile in a couple days."
"How much data is there?" Geordie whistled, looking at the readout over Peters' shoulder. "Woah… is that number right?"
"I - I'm not sure," Peters swallowed. "Do we have enough memory in the ship's computer?"
"If I get Data to deactivate a couple of the redundant navigation systems - uh - maybe? No, we couldn't do that without disabling our warp core." Geordie chewed his lip, "But I have a better idea- " He tapped his coms twice, waving to the Vulcans " I assume you're listening in?"
"Yes," The Vulcan technician yelled across the room, "And I think we have a computer of sufficient capacity in the Vulcan science institute."
"Will they let us use it?" Peters asked.
There was a brief pause before the Vulcan snorted in… laughter? "I assure you Mr. Laforge, the biggest issue we will have is not getting them onboard to analyze the data, it will be ever getting them to study anything else."
"Sounds good to me," Geordie tapped his visor, shifting through the spectrum of visible light. "We should get started. I'm picking up a lot of excess radiation in here. "
"Enough that we need to leave? " Peters looked up from his tricorder. "I was sure we stabilized the power plant."
"No we should be fine." Geordie replied, running his fingers through the dust on the floor of the pillar. "But this thing's stasis systems must have been powered with fission reactors. A lot of them."
"Sort of low tech for something that lasted this long," Peters replied as he twisted a know on his tricorder, starting the transmission, "Haven't these systems been running for thousands of not millions of years? "
"At this point it's too early to say anything concrete but my guess is that they only provided enough energy to start the process of shunting energy from somewhere else to power them, " Geordie stared at the pulsating black mass of ambient energy where all the reactors led at the pillars core, "I think it tears open a hole in reality to some place that can provide the energy these reactors can't. "
"But that's insane." Peters shook his head, "Even if it could be done, why would any advanced society do it? You're as likely to end up with a tesseract weapon as a generator."
"This thing is clearly an escape pod to protect the data core" Geordie ran his finger across a deep rivet on the inside of the pillars interior where the giant had clawed at it in his furious attempts to escape, "Some sort of a last resort. If the pillar hadn't worked to protect him, I imagine it would have gone a long way towards making whoever attacked his ship regret it."
"We are - uh- safe now right?" Peters swallowed, looking up at the leering skulls lining the computer core. "It's not going to blow up on us?"
"I'd assume so." Geordie replied, switching his tricorder to trace for biological elements. "I'd see it before we got to -- Uh oh!"
"Oh oh! What uh oh? There should be no 'uh oh!" Peters jumped, banging his head on an obsidian slab.
"Watch it!" Geordie replied, distracted by the pulsing shapes on his tricorder. There were faint life signs, too faint to be seen from space. They were barely noticeable even at a close range but there they were, echoing around the pillar. "Move it for a second, would you."
Peters, still rubbing at the top of his head, moved out of Geordie's way as the head of Engineering pulled a tool from his belt, gently coaxing one of the skulls from it's plinth. He coaxed the device from its cradle, examining the ornament with his enhanced vision. Spectrum upon spectrum of visible light flashed by his eyes, confirming his horrible suspicions. "This is bone."
"What?" Peters replied. "That's impossible, one of those things ate the teeth off a deuterium saw."
"I'm pretty sure that it's still ali- ," Geordie groaned, his fingers accidentally depressing a switch. The skull's eye flared into life, red optic whipping up to glare at him as tiny repulsor-lift jets carried it into the air. Tiny tendrils of wire and pincers protruded from the skull's mouth as it chittered animatedly at him, examining him from head to toe.
"I think we should - " Geordie started, but too late. The skulls lining the pillar's central core and outer walls came to life, forcing themselves from their places and flying out in a gruesome flock. They spun in circles around the interior forcefield blocking the pillar from where the Vulcans observed, protecting them from the buzzing horde of skulls. Geordie flinched in fear as a skull approached his injured index finger, grabbed it in it's vice-like pincer and, astonishingly, proceeded to apply a calming salve with a brush-like appendage.
In fact, other than looking scary, the skulls seemed entirely placid as they busied themselves with repairing the superficial damage to the Pillar's hull.
"Are you alive Lt. Commander?
"Yes," Geordie let out a sigh of relief, "I think they're some sort of automated repair system. They don't seem to care about us at all."
One of the skulls prodded at his visor tentatively, deciding if something needed to be repaired as Geordie batted it away, "If anything they're a bit too well intentioned."
"We still believe that it is in your best interest to leave the pillar," The Vulcan woman replied in a voice of only passing conviction. "It is illogical to continue."
"We're fine," Geordie scanned the skulls with his Tricorder. "They're covered in diagnostic equipment and fine tools. Other than the odd scalpel or a blowtorch they're unarmed. As long as it's just humans I'm not worried, but if anything changes use the beacons."
"Very well commander." The Vulcan replied, "In the interim you have an incoming transmission from a Dr. Beverly Crusher. Shall I patch her through."
"Of course," Geordie replied, activating a wide band scan to examine the internal components. He tapped his comm badge twice to switch channels before saying, "What do you need doctor?"
"The Giant attacked Deanna." Dr. Crusher replied in a voice of unusual gravity.
Geordie stopped what he was doing, unintentionally looking up towards the ceiling as though to look at the Enterprise, "Is she alright?"
"She's fine." Beverly's voice softened. "Or she will be. But what she encountered raised some serious doubts about the Giant's mental state, so I ran a scan - "
"You wouldn't happen to have found extensive cybernetic implants in his brain would you?" Geordie interjected.
"Yes," Beverly replied. "How do you know."
Geordie examined the cross section of a flying skull on his tricorder, "Call it a hunch."
"Yes," Beverly sighed, "Before I sedated her Deanna was insistent that it wasn't the Giant's fault. His thoughts seemed jumbled to her, terrifying. She insisted that there was something deeply wrong with him to make him feel that angry, more than simply repelling her from his mind."
"So you went to medical issues right away," Geordie nodded. "Which led you to the cybernetics."
"Yes," The Doctor sighed. "The Giant's modifications go even more than I'd even considered possible. His brain has been sectioned off into cybernetically and chemically controlled segments. My guess is that it was for the regulation of sleep. A soldier who could either stay awake for days or even months at a time without sleeping or who could induce a coma to survive without food or water till rescue could come along."
"Sounds useful," Geordie replied. "So what went wrong?"
"The problem is that the hardware powering the cybernetic implants is powered by microscopic amounts of some sort of element I can't identify. There are redundant implants in case those fail, but they're so old that they've ceased to function as well. I don't understand the back-ups well enough to replace them without doing seriously invasive brain surgery but I think I can inject a new power source with a hypospray." Beverly replied. "Until then his brain is just firing randomly, connecting memories, wishes, nightmares, desires and dreams all at once. He's functionally a psychotic."
"Wait - does he have any remnants of the power source in his implants?" Geordie turned his tricorder back into the pillar, a sinking sensation falling to the pit of his stomach. "Any at all?"
"None that I've seen," Dr. Crusher clicked her tongue against her teeth. "Which is strange. You'd think there would be some left over, even after all this time."
"No it isn't," Geordie ran his finger across the pile of red dust at the base of the pillar, "Not when I'm the one responsible for it not being there."
"Doctor, when we transported him to the ship the pattern buffer filtered out any dangerous or unknown elements. It's part of the decontamination protocols to prevent disease transmission. The radiation profile of the implant's power source is probably the same as the ships reactor, neither of which our transporters are configured to replicate," Geordie let the dust run through his fingers. "Beverly - We did this to him. We drove him crazy."
Beverly swore in irritation, "Can you identify the element used to power it?"
"I can try," Geordie replied. "I'll try to have serviceable substitute to you in the next hour or so but if the element is unknown rather than just uncommon, then I may not be able to get you one at all."
"Just do what you can Geordie," Beverly replied, "That's all anyone can - " Her voice cut off as warning klaxons blared in the background. There was a medical emergency on the Enterprise. " - Oh dear god. Geordie, he's escaped the holodeck. I don't know how, but he did it. "
"Why haven't they transported him to the brig?" Geordie barked in horror, waving for the Vulcan's listening in to get off their butts and do something.
"I don't know Geordie," The Doctor's reply was frenzied as she ran down the corridor, her panting breaths echoing over the comms. "I'll tell you when I know, Beverly out - "
As the comms switched back to the Vulcan channel Geordie shouted at them, "Tell me you were listening to that!"
"It would be illegal to listen in on -" The Vulcan technician replied before Geordie cut him off with a glare.
"If I don't find out what this sand is soon, the Enterprise is going to have no choice but to kill the Giant of Antiea. Which is more logical, obscuring the truth to save face or helping me find a way to save the only known member of an ancient race?"
"Yes Lt. Commander we were listening," The Vulcan replied. "The Vulcan science council is already scanning the material and analyzing to see if we can replicate the material."
"Good," Geordie, tapped his comm-badge. "Enterprise, what the heck is going on up there?
Last edited by Todeswind; 12-08-13 at 05:59 AM.