Chapter 53: Safety
If one were to look down Area 24 of Section 183 of the Borg cube, one would see that rubble was a common sight. Metal, twisted from the sheer pressure exerted from escaping air, lay strewn about the bent and cracked floor. Some of the walls had areas torn away from the strain, with rubbery piping spewing out. Devices sparked and flickered, and screens were showered with static. A few bodies could be seen, as cold and sickly-looking as they had been while alive, brought to the area by the flow of oxygen and deposited when the shields had been brought online, cutting it off from the low pressure of space it had longed to disperse itself amongst.
But among the decadence and decay lay a small green furry body with long ears and a patch of lime-coloured fur around one eye. Slumped along a wall, it wasn’t moving; nor did it make any sound to penetrate the silence that surrounded it for hundreds of metres.
But then, the foot of Experiment 426 twitched
One of his eyes opened.
He drew his head forwards and held his forehead in one hand. He had a massive headache, from what he could only guess, and he couldn’t feel his right arm. Which, he supposed, was a good thing, since his left arm felt as if someone had plunged a skewer through it.
Lifting his head, he surveyed the area. Why was he here? In fact, where is here? The last thing he remembered was being on the astrometrics deck of Jumba’s ship and the weird zombie alien and Jumba warning them to hide…
Then it came to him.
He was watching the doorway from the laundry shoot when in walked what he’d supposed was Little Girl fell through the elevator door, followed by Jumba, Pleakley and 626.
The drone had left so suddenly. What was it looking for? And that girl…
Stitch was whispering in his ear, telling him what had happened to the Little Girl.
She was in danger! He had to rescue her.
He stood up as quick as he could. What was he doing, just sitting around in… wherever her was? He had to go find her!
Almost immediately, he regretted this decision as his head began to pound. Gah! He clutched it in agony, willing the pain to go away.
They were on a shuttle with 626… The computer was being a pain to 419… they found an entrance…
426 released his cranium and glanced at his left arm. It had been cut somehow; the fur around the wound stained purple. 426 grimaced – he didn’t like seeing blood, much less his own.
The gash was not long, but it stung like nothing else.
He looked around. This must be the ship of the zombie aliens, although it had been clear that some cataclysm had struck it. Masses of metal lay around in no order at all – in chaos. 419 would probably make some remark about…
Four-One-Nine. She’s here too, she has to be.
“Sis! Where are you?”
The only sound that answered was a mechanical clicking noise. The repetitive nature of the sound suggested some kind of malfunction.
They had found Jumba’s cell. 426 caused a distraction, and then 419 jumped down…
“Jumba?” In spite of his efforts to keep his voice consistent, it was clearly wavering.
No one answered his call.
With a prick, his ear twitched. 426 listened hard, but at first could hear nothing but the click-click-click of the malfunctioning drone’s hand. Another prickle. 426 strained his ears, but still couldn’t hear what was bothering him.
By the next prick, he had noticed that his ear was twitching in a regular pattern. He concentrated carefully, focusing all his attention into listening for the sound that had to have accompanied the twitch of his ear.
He heard it. There was a beeping noise.
There it was again.
The gears in his brain worked. The sound was familiar. But what from?
It was the beeping noise from a Galactic Federation homing beacon.
No, it couldn’t be. 426 was certain it was another injury causing a ringing sound. Yes, that sounded right.
First, said a nagging female voice in the back of his brain, you don’t get beeping noises from injury. Yes, that’s a beeping noise, not a ringing one.
426 didn’t exactly care for this distinction; to him it was one without a difference – it was a sound, it was faint, it was repetitive, and it was bugging him.
Anyway, continued the voice (which, 426 realised, sounded a lot like his sister), it would be rather easy to test. Block your ears and see if the noise is gone.
Great. 426 had enough problems listening to 419 ranting in front of him. All he needed was a 419 in his head as well. Worse, it was probably his logical side talking - did it bode well for his psyche that it had adopted 419’s voice?
426 blocked one ear with his right hand (which had begun to regain a small amount of feeling.) He then made to block his other ear.
“Gah!” he yelled, swiftly grabbing his left arm with his right as pain rippled through it. Obviously, moving his left arm was a bad idea.
He decided to compromise by holding both of his ears with one hand. This generated a slight tingling sensation at the base of one of the ears, but 426 could live with that.
He listened. There was nothing.
So, obviously, it’s not an injury, and you’re not imagining things! said his logical side. This gave him little comfort, especially since he was essentially listening to – and taking orders from – himself. Whatever had happened, it had obviously knocked a few marbles loose.
Letting go of his ears, he sighed a little. Jumba setting off a beacon meant that he didn’t know where 426 was, which probably meant he was outside the communicator’s scan radius, which probably meant he was quite a fair bit away. Walking would probably take hours to catch up.
But still, he had to try. Little Girl was in trouble.
He had to do it, for everyone, and for her.
And so, with his mind made up, and making sure he kept his left arm still, he started off, jogging at a steady pace, hoping that they weren’t too far, and that it wouldn’t be too long until he caught up with them.
Pleakley didn’t feel safe on this ship, not all by himself, not with cybernetic creatures roaming the hallways. To play it safe, he had decided not to stay in one place for very long, and that meant running.
Pleakley’s running was interrupted by him slamming into someone, as slamming into people often does. Falling to the floor face-up, he hoped it wasn’t a drone; the last thing he needed or wanted was to be assimilated. Being assimilated isn’t very good, not very good at all; in fact, it was the opposite of very good – it was very bad! Which was precisely why Pleakley wished to avoid it.
“Are you okay, Mr… er, Plackly, is it?”
Pleakley opened his eye. He was still slightly dazed, so his vision was somewhat blurry, however he could see a rather familiar figure hovering above him - a young girl with firery-red hair…
It couldn’t be.
He shook his head, and his vision refocused. Instead of the girl stood Captain Jameston, an unsure look about her face.
To be fair, she did have the same hairstyle, the same colour…
But he must have been imagining things.
“Captain Jameston!” He propped himself up with one elbow, holding his other arm out to the captain. “I seem to be fine, yes.”
Jameston grabbed Pleakley’s arm and hoisted him to his feet. Pleakley could feel her overcompensating – obviously, he had been lighter than she expected.
“Wow,” she said, once Pleakley had a clear footing with all of his feet. “Y’know, I used to speculate how much a Plorgarian weighed, back in my youth, but you… my estimates were nowhere near this light.”
“Huh.” Pleakley found this observation odd, at best, since it was rather incidental to what were clearly more urgent matters. For instance, their impending doom.
“Well, Mr. Plackly…” started the Captain.
“Er, it’s Pleakley, actually,” corrected Pleakley, hints of nervousness in his voice.
“Ah, yes. Mr. Pleakley, I presume you are looking for Lilo Pelekai as well?”
“Why, have you found her?” exclaimed Pleakley, his already high-pitched voice going even higher in excitement.”
Pleakley’s face fell.
“However,” continued Jameston quickly, as if wanting to head off his feelings of sadness, “we have picked up some promising signals – there’s far more subspace communication in this area than in any other we’ve detected. We think it might be the Queen’s locus.”
Pleakley gave a small smile. At least there was some hope.
And then he remembered why he was there.
“Er, Captain, you wouldn’t have happened to have seen…”
“Jumba and two experiments?” The Captain smiled. “Yeah, they were… Ellie, how far back did we meet them?”
A blond-haired girl behind the Captain turned around to face the two. “Er, that would be two lefts, a right, and a straight ago, Vi. I believe they went left from there.”
“Thanks, Els.” She glanced back at the yellow alien before her. “Mr. Pleakley, that’ll mean you can take the first right down this corridor, then the next right, then straight until you hit the T junction. Your friends would have taken the left exit. Good lu-”
“C-c-captain, I just p-picked up a s-s-surge in subspace s-sig-signals,” stuttered one of the crew from further along the hallway.
“Excellent!” Captain Jameston brimmed with excitement. “Teresa, Malo! Follow that signal, we need to find the source! But be cautious!”
The stuttery woman and one of the other members of the crew saluted and rushed down the hallway.
“OK, Mr. Pleakley, are you sure you’ll be fine by yourself?”
“Y-yes, thank you.” To tell the truth, Pleakley wasn’t sure at all, but he didn’t want to interrupt their work. Jameston raised an eyebrow slightly, but otherwise said nothing about it.
“Right then. We have to be off, but I hope we see each-other again. Fare-thee well!”
She briskly shook the alien’s hand, and then motioned for her remaining crew to follow her.
“Ming, Ellie, we need to back them up. Come on!”
And then they left Pleakley alone in the corridor.
Alone wasn’t very good.
So Pleakley began to run in the other direction. Running was the only way he could stay sane when he was alone about this place. If he walked or stayed in one place, he was sure he’d loose hic cool. And losing one’s cool wasn’t good, not here of all places.
Besides, there were still evil cybernetic zombies about.
So running, it seemed to Pleakley, was still the best idea. And so, following the path that Jameston had laid out, Pleakley ran.