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ST:END204 | "Swings and Roundabouts Part 4"

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

"Well... crap," Amy muttered, her hands on her hips. Standing in the hydroponics lab, she saw a large brown stem, three meters thick, rising out from one of the bays. The stem arched its way to the ceiling, where it snaked towards the nearest air duct and had disappeared into it.

"We trapped it in Section 32 with forcefields, but it just grew another tendril to bypass the forcefield and is still continuing down Deck 10," Molly said.

Amy turned to face Molly. "Where is it heading?"

"I don't know, it just seemed to be growing down that deck,"

Amy shook her head. "No... it's targeting something. And I think it's the peace conference,"

Molly looked at Amy. "You think it's trying to sabotage a peace conference? A plant?"

"I know it sounds stupid..."

"It sounds paranoid,"

Amy opened and closed her mouth. "Well..." she shrugged. "Maybe I am... it doesn't matter right now anyway. We need to try to get the plant to stop growing. Is there anything we can give to stop the growth?"

"Not that we know of," came a voice behind the pair, coming from a Bolian officer. "This is a new species, I was investigating it before this happened,"

Amy's eyes narrowed. "Where were you when it began to grow?"

The Bolian squirmed. "I went to take some plant cultures to Lab 18. I didn't think the plant would grow like this,"

Amy's mouth quivered slightly. "We'll talk about lab procedure later. So you have nothing that could stop the growth?"

"No, ma'am," the Bolian replied quietly.

Amy bit her lip in thought. "How about Narbinybose? My fiancé uses it to control plant growth. Perhaps it'll work here?"

"I don't know if it will, this plant has a very different biology to what I've seen to others,"

"I don't think we have the luxury of hypotheticals now, Lieutenant," Molly said. "Load up the Narbinybose,"

"Commander, injecting the plant with a chemical could damage it, possibly even kill it. With all due respect, I wouldn't go shooting up your animals with unknown chemicals, I would like you to show the same respect to my plants,"

Amy looked at the Bolian. Inside her, a fire of stress, tiredness, and the feeling of failure was burning and sending up a red smoke, which had begun to perforate into Amy's brain. The Bolian was standing between her and failure. She had never wanted to be that First Officer. The one that everyone feared. The outsider who came to whisper poison into the Captain's ears and force her ways onto a harmonised ship. She wanted to be a part of the crew, a part of the family. She wanted the crew to run as smoothly as the parts of the ship they were in. She was not angry at the Bolian for making mistakes. She was angry at the Bolian for standing in her way.

She stepped forward, her voice lacking the softness that was almost always present. "Commander Faraday's animals do not run loose on my ship and put my crew's life in danger. Inject the plant Lieutenant. I'm not going to say it again," Amy's inner demons wanted the Bolian to defy her. Amy's inner angels wanted to apologise. The three of them held their breath for the response.

Molly, meanwhile, decided to not correct Amy on that fact that her animals had, and do, run loose on her ship.

The Bolian looked ready to argue. Amy's demons cracked their knuckles. The Bolian must have heard them, because moments later, he sighed and pulled out a hypo. "Yes ma'am,"

Amy turned to look back at the plant, avoiding Molly's eyes. She'd broken through the bad First Officer barrier, and now she had to maintain appearances. Looking at Molly would send her demons scurrying back into their bolt hole.

The Bolian loaded up the hypo and approached the plant. "Sorry for this," he muttered before he injected the plant. There was no change. The Bolian then dropped to the floor. Amy's inner demons ran. Molly approached the Bolian, her tricorder in hand.

"He's alive, just unconscious," Molly blinked several times, before looking up. "Amy, get out of here. The plant is secreting a chemical, it's going to..." Molly blinked several more times before she collapsed to the floor. Amy's body moved on instinct. The next thing she realised, she was calling an emergency medical beam out for the two science officers, and calling for the room to be sealed.

"Samaras to Dix, we have a biohazard in the form of the plant, I need the areas around it sealed completely and contained. It's secreting a chemical that's knocking our people unconscious. Don't move to bioalert status. Just contain it silently,"

"Understood Commander," Kuris' voice came back.

"We need to keep the chemical from spreading to Deck 10 and disrupting the treaty. Can you seal off that room?"

There was a pause. "No Commander... The plant must have knocked something as it travelled, I'm not able to control anything on Deck 10 from here. Someone has to go and manually deploy those fields,"

Amy was already sprinting towards the turbolift. "Keep the crew safe Kuris. I'm on it. Samaras out,"

Exiting the lift on Deck 10, she ran towards the conference room. As she turned the corner, she ran into Gabriella. "Briella, grazie dio," She had never been more relieved to see the MACO. Ever. Gabriella was in her dress uniform, a rifle slung over her shoulder. Her normally braided hair was tied up, making her look very professional.

"¡Oi, idioma!" Brie replied, and then looked at the Amy. "¿Que pasa, Amelia?"

"We have a situation. No time to explain, but the delegates may be in danger,"

Brie frowned. "Crap... what do you need me to do? Shall I tell the Captain?"

"I can't risk it. When you return inside the room, I want you to seal the entrance with a forcefield. There's a biological chemical that's spreading in this deck, I'm going to try to contain it as best I can,"

Brie nodded. "Understood Commander. Good luck,"

Amy couldn't help but smile. In almost an instant, Brie had transformed from her usual self to a model MACO officer, following orders and asking no questions. It was as if there was someone else inside her body. "You too. Keep those talks going," Amy said, and she continued to run down the corridor, past the room with security guards placed. A strange smell came from the door, making Amy's nose crinkle. "Get your respirators on," she ordered them as she ran past. "And not because the delegates stink," he added, silently. She hoped that security would be as good as following orders as Brie was. They had been the ones complaining the most when the delegation arrived. She couldn't wait for the "I told you so," that was coming from Sejanus.

Amy's run came to a halt as she saw the first unconscious body. Another three followed. At the other end of the corridor, a tendril of the plant was racing towards her. It wasn't long until she had deployed the forcefield around it. Then she noticed something. She saw the tendril advance towards the forcefield before hitting it. It continued to grow for a brief moment before it stopped. Then, moments later, it then began to withdraw back along the way it came, until it came to a junction. A junction that would have bypassed the forcefield, if Amy hadn't put the field up. It was when the tendril kept on withdrawing without even so much as a break in the growth that Amy realised how the plant was moving.

"Samaras to Dix. Kuris, I need you to pump hydrobay 1 with the smell of the alien delegation. Get their patterns from the transporter. Now!"

"On it Commander,"

Amy was already running to the nearest turbolift.

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