SIM:Crewman Veralise Jessop: The Home Stretch
Author's Note: You probably already know the ending if you're reading this SIM on the 118Wiki, but I hope you can imagine the original effect it had on my fellow SIMmers. I actually had planned to write this from Tenzin Zhou's point of view as usual. The plot in progress was that Zhou and his group were trying to get from deck 5 to sickbay on deck 7, turbolift access having been cut off due to battle damage. In a previous SIM, I had a simple NPC medic, Jessop, suggest a plan to go through the ship's two-deck theater and was planning for her to meet her fate there. However, a string of PNPC SIMs by other members of the Independence-A crew were posted shortly before I had planned to write this version of the SIM.
One such post introduced a "forcefield tunnel" that an engineer had deployed to create a path to sickbay. This stemmed from confusion regarding on which deck Zhou and the others were. Rather than nullify my original plan, the PNPC SIM actually opened a new, more dramatic possibility for the final moments of my planned SIM. I was also inspired by the other PNPCs my shipmates had created and decided to write this SIM's story as my first PNPC SIM because it gave a wonderful new perspective on both the events happening onboard the ship as well as on my main PC, Zhou. Furthermore, I was able to close the SIM with a much more satisfying conclusion rather than just a conventional ending describing Zhou's reaction. Thus, my first PNPC SIM was quite rewarding to write, and I hope you enjoy it as much as my fellow shipmates did.
The events in this SIM occurred on stardate 238708.13.
((Hell, aka USS Independence-A, Deck 5))
::Crewman Veralise Jessop was having an interesting day so far to say the least. As she and Shan were the only non-injured members of the traveling party, the two each helped support another more seriously injured person. For Shan, that was Isidha, and for her, it was the exhausted looking Doctor Zhou. As she kept her arm around him to keep the man moving along the corridor, the only sounds that filled the space were the distant sounds of weapons fire and explosions and the ever present straining of bulkheads. Jessop decided to interrupt the ship's constant conversation with itself.::
Jessop: ::gives a slight smile:: Well, doctor, I hope you haven't felt too attached to how your quarters were arranged. I'm sure a few things have shifted during our trip.
Zhou: If I'm lucky, my quarters are still attached to the ship and not floating halfway back to spacedock.
Jessop: ::feigns shock:: A pessimist and a physician?
Zhou: Not quite. I've noticed that as a physician, I'm an optimist. When I'm a patient, I become a bit more of a realist. ::beat:: And don't think I don't know what you're doing, crewman. Trying to make sure I don't fade off into the true final frontier of what lies beyond...
Jessop: I try to perform to the best of my duties, sir. And I must say you are in no danger of venturing to that final frontier just yet.
Zhou: I think my wife would unfortunately have to concur if she were here.
::Veralise chuckled a bit, taking the comment as a joke, and the doctor didn't seem to mind as his mind wandered off to other places. He was an odd fellow, she thought. She hadn't been formally introduced to him before he arrived on board, but from what she could tell, he seemed to have a strange mix of traits from various other medical officers she had known over the past ten years of her service. There was the confidence and no-nonsense attitude to problems typical of a seasoned veteran. Yet she hadn't forgotten how he seemed to notice her dismay at his skepticism of her original pitch to try this jog to the theater. Perhaps he hadn't become completely jaded like so many others before him? Or perhaps she wasn't giving enough credit to the complexity of people, as complex as the Trill spot patterns on the doctor himself.::
((a few minutes later))
::Another few meters and yet another groan of the bulkheads. The sound reminded Veralise of the rusty fences on her uncle's farm she would visit as a child.::
Jessop: oO My goodness, how long has it been since you last talked to your uncle or even your grandparents, V? You owe it to them when this is all over. Ah, what the hell, Mom, too. Won't she be surpri- Oo
Riley: (garbled) =/\=Captain Riley…(static) ….Zhou.=/\=
::The call brought the doctor back to full attention, and he tried to stand a little straighter, even as Veralise continued to support him.::
Zhou: =/\=Yes, Captain?=/\=
Riley: =/\=Doctor… (static)…current…(static)=/\=
::Veralise frowned as the captain's voice broke up. She began thinking about what must be going back on the bridge before noticing Zhou glancing back at her. The doctor took off his combadge and tried to adjust the signal gain::
Zhou: =/\=Captain? Say again, please=/\=
::Abruptly, the message clipped off and a power relay blew out above the group. As Veralise and the others instinctively ducked and covered their heads, Zhou let out a soft curse.::
Zhou: =/\=Captain, please come in. Captain?=/\=
Jessop: The heavy damage in this section must be causing too much interference for the com system, especially with the secondary comtraffic system down.
Isidha: What do we do now?
Zhou: Well, I can see the theater over there (he pointed down the hall to two massive doors), and we're not going back now, so our best hope is to continue on to sickbay, see what the situation is down there, and hope that the interference is cleared up two decks down.
::As Veralise squinted to look down the hallway, a light suddenly flashed from out of the darkness, catching her and a few of the others off guard.::
Anderson: ::waving her hand beacon:: Over here. We are just about to secure entry to the medical bay.
::Veralise and Isidha exchanged puzzled glances.::
::A loud sizzling noise filled the corridor as a sparkling tube of faintly blue energy could be seen. The group of injured made their way down the hall as Anderson commented to one of the engineers.::
Anderson: Well that's bloody impressive.
::Before Veralise could ask the new officers what was going on, the Andorian crewman asked the question everyone else was thinking.::
Isidha: I thought we were on Deck 5, not 7.
::The question seemed to surprise the security lieutenant. She then seemed to understand the confusion::
Anderson: Ah I see what you're getting at crewman. No you are on deck 5. The access to decks 6 & 7 s totally wasted. Although this deck isn't much better. The combat engineers are going to use this tunnel to get above medical then cut an access tube down to Medical.
::Veralise suddenly couldn't help let out a big smile.::
Jessop: Through the theater, right? You also figured that it'd be easy to cut through because of the two deck span at this point?
Zhou: ::gives a nod in acknowledgment to Jessop:: Don't worry, crewman. I'll make sure you get a note in the record for your original thinking. I shudder to think what would have happened if we tried to continue to decks 6 and 7 from where we were earlier.
CPO: ::under his breath:: If this was an Ashanti-class we wouldn't be having this problem.
Anderson: What? What are you talking about?
CPO: Just saying. The Ashanti-class didn't have all these wasted corridors. The forward saucer was attached to an Engineering section. Wouldn't have these corridors to cause problems. Now there was a well designed ship. Had teeth too.
Anderson: Look just stay focused ok ? :: Turning to the group.:: Sorry about that. What can I say …Combat Engineers. We should be through to Medical in a few moments Doctor.
Zhou: ::leans against a bulkhead:: Excellent.
::Veralise watched as the engineers did their magic. She had to admit that if she hadn't become a medic, engineering always seemed fascinating to her. In a way, really, they both had a similar line of work: trying to patch injuries and sustain systems, whether made of flesh or duranium. The engineers had propped open the theater doors a bit, and from what Veralise could see, it was a mess inside, with chairs and other debris littering the whole chamber. Within a few moments, however, the blue forcefield tunnel pushed the strewn furniture and fixtures aside. It almost resembled a portal to another world, or even something from those ancient biblical stories her father would love retelling. Veralise then caught herself.::
Jessop: oO Wow, you are really becoming a softie today, aren't you, V? Oo
Zhou: Impressive, indeed.
Zhou: That sounds good. Lead the way, and have the others go afterward first. I'll make sure everyone joins you on the other side safely.
Zhou: I'll be fine, really. I've sort of been leading this group during our little adventure, and I'd rather be the last one out.
::Though she understood Anderson's misgivings, Veralise decided to step in to reassure the security officer.::
Jessop: Don't worry, lieutenant. I'll be the final person down the path. I'll make sure the doctor gets there.
::With that, the party formed a line as they went in one by one, with Anderson leading the way. The CPO combat engineer seemed a bit too excited to step into his creation and actually tripped, almost falling onto Anderson, but fortunately the lieutenant caught and steadied him, though she gave a stern look. Veralise and Isidha shared another glance, this time a smirk. Finally, it was just the doctor and Veralise. The newly created pathway, though nearly miraculous, was still confining, and each member of the team could only pass through one at a time. Doctor Zhou stepped up to the portal and took a breath.::
Jessop: ::puts her hand on his shoulder and smiles:: Well, doctor, it's time to take those first steps on your own again.
Zhou: ::turns around:: Remind me to compliment whoever trained you on your bedside manner, crewman.
::The doctor than returned a smile to Veralise, the first time in fact that she had seen him smile during the entire episode through the corridors. His smile abruptly ceased, though, as the straining of the bulkheads finally gave way to an ear-piercing screech, as if the ship were letting out a primal scream. In the distance, the unmistakable sounds of explosions and decompressions could be heard. Zhou and Veralise both knew what was happening, but didn't say another word. The act of cutting through the remaining intact bulkheads to get to sickbay finally had placed too much stress on the ship's structural integrity. If the doorway to the theater remained open, the previous members of the party, as well as perhaps anyone else down on deck 7 would soon be pulled out into space. The integrity of the forcefield had to be maintained.
Quickly, Veralise forcefully shoved the doctor into the forcefield tunnel to prevent him from even starting a protest. She then grabbed onto the magnetic door clamps the engineer had been using to pry open the doors and brought the two halves back together in under a second, which was all the time she knew she had. As the small gap between the doors disappeared, Veralise and Zhou, still falling backwards from the shove, shared a final look. The moment was so brief that she didn't even see his whole face, just his eyes. After the doors closed, Veralise tried to drain out the sound of the cascading decompression approaching her and closed her eyes. She thought about her childhood home and saw herself walking up to the door. The air around her disappeared as if the universe were taking its final gasp, and she saw herself knocking on the door.::
Jessop: oO Hey, Dad. It's me... Oo