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B7: Wants and Needs - Chapter 09
Series Title: Perceptions
Sequel to Damaged Beginnings
After a few minutes of complete darkness, there was now a faint glow coming from strips embedded along the walls, near the ceiling. Reya had never noticed them before.
It must not be a normal energy lighting system, thought Reya. Perhaps chemically based?
Argus had not come back to the flight deck yet. She checked out the various ship's systems. Everything else appeared dead, even ORAC.
Four hours, ten minutes and thirty-eight seconds. This had been what ORAC had said about the oxygen supply before all the power went off.
Just under four hours now, thought Reya.
She went over to where the reams of printouts had spilled onto the floor. These were the hardcopy instructions Argus had directed ORAC to print out, which would restore the ship's systems. Reya took a look at them.
Engines, computer systems, life-support. It was only a partial listing. Not good.
The power had cutout before the printouts had completed.
This is interesting, thought Reya. The computer systems seemed to only require minimal repairs and replacements. From her limited knowledge of EMP waves, the integrated circuits of computers would be among the ones most affected.
It doesn't use integrated circuits? I wonder what it does use. She knew that this was an alien ship, she had not realized how alien. The printouts did not provide a clue, it only gave instructions and diagrams on the areas needing fixing.
There is no point staying on the flight deck with nothing working. Argus will probably work on the engines. I'll start on the computer systems, thought Reya. That way Zen can probably give us whatever instructions are missing. We need the sensors and weapons. We're blind and defenseless without them. And I hope ORAC took into account our limited technical knowledge in these printouts.
She hoped that they had enough time to fix enough so they could get the life-support systems working before the oxygen ran out.
Reya took the engine and computer instructions with her and headed towards the engine room. Once she reached the engine room, she saw Argus collapsed on the ground.
Jenna and Vila had been searching for Avon and Cally for the past hour. They met up again at the point where they had first teleported down. Both of them were frustrated.
"Anything?" asked Jenna.
"Some of the shopkeepers said they saw someone who looked like them but didn’t know where they went after that," said Vila.
"I think they may have teleported back to the ship," said Jenna.
"Then we're stuck down here."
They had been hearing random sounds of gunfire the entire time they had been searching. The sounds seemed to be increasing in frequency.
"They may already know what is happening down here," said Jenna.
"Yes, Avon is probably trying to figure out a way to contact us." This idea made Vila feel somewhat better; but not enough to shake off his fear at the dangerous and uncertain circumstances they found themselves in.
"We should stay here near the original teleport coordinates," said Jenna. "It's a secluded enough place."
Vila thought that hiding was an excellent idea. The shots were getting too close for comfort.
"Why couldn't you eat at normal times like other people?" said Allren in an irritated tone.
"I don't feel hungry then," replied Ture.
"There's a difference between feeling hungry and starving to death," said Allren.
"You're exaggerating," said Ture.
Allren rolled his eyes. "And whose fault is it that we have to find you some food now when the power is out in the whole city, the security forces are out in full force and who knows what that gunfire is about. We should be hiding somewhere until this all blows over; not looking for food for you."
The two tech mercenaries were currently walking along the main commercial avenue, trying to look for an establishment that would sell them food. When Ture was in front of the computer, he had a tendency to forget to eat. When hunger finally intruded into his consciousness, he was usually so hungry that the continued lack of food would cause him to feel light-headed and dizzy.
"I'm sorry," said Ture. He knew that they were taking a risk being out on the streets with the security forces looking for them. Though he doubted if security had enough time to look specifically for them right now.
There is something strange going on, Ture thought. He knew that Allren would have preferred to lie low until it was safe to leave but he wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. He didn't like unsolved mysteries.
"Another patrol," groaned Allren. Federation patrols were out in full force to keep order during the black-out. Another patrol had just stepped onto the commercial avenue at the far end of the street.
They both tried to look like they belonged there, along with all of the other people milling around, without anything better to do.
"There's an alcove there. We can hide until the patrol passes." Ture pointed to a secluded alcove just off the main avenue.
Avon heard a click as the lift's manual door release slipped into position. He leaned back against the inactive panel; the pain from his knee was becoming unbearable.
"The door is released," he told the people in the lift. There was no indication in his voice of the difficulties he was having. "We need people to open the door. I can't."
"I'll do it."
"Can you move over?"
Various people responded. Avon could feel people shifting around him. There were sounds of human effort and then solid sounds of metal against metal as the lift doors slowly opened.
Cally asked, "How are you doing Avon?" She was becoming increasingly concerned.
"I will be fine once we get back on the ship," Avon replied. His voice still indicated nothing; but at the edge of her consciousness, Cally was dimly aware of his pain.
"I can't see. Did we do it?," asked the nervous young man. "Did we get lucky?"
"Half lucky," said the man who had been by the lift panel before.
"And what does that mean?" asked the irritated sounding woman.
"Can you see anything?" the old woman asked.
There was faint light coming into the lift now from the opened doors. Their eyes began to adjust.
The man by the lift panel explained, "We do appear to be on one of the floors. Stuck halfway. Not the easy half. I'll get up on the floor first and I'll help anyone who needs it."
The lift was all activity now as everyone prepared to leave their enclosed prison.
Cally spoke out, "My friend is going to need help. I don't think he can move right now."
"We'll help him." Someone said. There were several sounds of agreement from the others. One by one the people left the elevator, pulled up by the first man.
"We'll get your friend out now," said the irritated sounding man, who sounded less irritated now. There were now only four of them left on the lift; Avon, Cally, the irritated sounding man and the young man who no longer sounded nervous.
"Be careful of his right knee please," instructed Cally as they all lifted Avon up towards the waiting hands reaching down from the floor. "It is injured."
"Don't worry," said the young man.
As the others were being helpful, Avon reflected on how much he hated being helped. It reinforced his feelings of vulnerability and inability to control his own life. He knew that he was expected to feel gratitude. It was the normal human reaction to receiving aid. But he did not feel grateful for being reminded how helpless he was.
Even after all the progress, I still have to be carried out, thought Avon.
Avon did not want to be helped. But he knew that it did not mean that he did not need to be helped. He was a realist. Avon tried to not make a sound even as the other's efforts caused more pain. By the time they got him up onto the floor, he was panting from the effort to control the pain.
He could see that the entire floor was dark except for the dim light streaming in from various windows.
So there is a power outage, he thought. People were either milling around or rushing about. They all appeared lost and uncertain. Some of the people from the lift had already wandered off in order find out what was going on.
No emergency lighting here either. Avon had suspected this after what happened in the elevator. This is more than a simple power loss, he thought.
"I'll go find some help for your friend," said the young man as Cally bent down to examine Avon. Now that he was no longer trapped in the lift, the young man was no longer nervous. He seemed eager to help.
"There is no need," said Cally. "Can you help me get him into a quieter room? I don't want to leave him here in the corridor."
The people who had helped Avon out of the lift now helped put him in one of the smaller empty office rooms and laid him on a table.
"My friend and I thank you for all your help," said Cally. "You do not need to stay with us. We will stay here until the power systems are restored."
After additional assurances from Cally that it was fine to leave them alone, the others left.
Cally lifted her teleport bracelet up in preparation to use it.
She paused and then said to Avon, "You could have used the teleport to leave anytime in the lift. Why didn't you suggest it?"
"It did not occur to me," said Avon.
"I do not believe you, Avon. You would not make such a simple mistake, unless you wanted to."
"You knew we could leave as well. Why didn't you?" he challenged.
"You already know why I didn't."
"Yes. You're over-developed sense of compassion and misplaced loyalty for people you barely knew."
"You still have not answered my question."
"I knew you would not leave until the others were safe. I could not leave you," he told her. And just in case she misunderstood his intentions, he added, "You are the only one who knows how to produce the drugs I require."
"That is the only reason?"
"Do not expect anything less logical Cally. You would be disappointed."
I do not believe you Avon, thought Cally. You did not do this for logical reasons.
But she realized that he had not reached the point where he would answer her truthfully.
"Don't worry, your reputation is safe," Cally said with a hint of irony in her voice. Before Avon could come back with a much more ironic retort, she tapped on her teleport bracelet and said, "Argus. Avon and I are ready for teleport."
They both waited for a response which never came.
None of the crew on the planet were aware of the problems Argus and Reya were now experiencing on the Justice. And none of them knew that things were about to get much worse.