“LaFuentes to away teams. The ship is booby-trapped. I repeat, there are lethal traps set on the ship. Watch for tripwires, pause before going through doors. We’ve lost the doctor. She’s been crushed by a large, heavy…”
“Anvil,” Becca finished for him. “It’s used in blacksmithing. We had them in the colony where I grew up.”
As she continued to babble something about horseshoes and kitchen hooks, he finished his report to the first officer.
Commander Deary’s voice came next, “Lieutenant, what kind of damage did the doctor sustain?”
Enigo replied, “We don’t see her at all. The weight must have been more than her matrix could handle. Ensign Becca and I are going to see if we can remove the anvil. Standby.”
Scanners out and moving slowly, they entered Sickbay. Whoever set the trap made no attempt to hide the mechanism, which was set to deploy when the doors opened. To the side were two more crewmen, one in a lab coat, curled up on the floor, clutching their stomachs, mouths open as if in pain.
Or laughter? That was sick, if so. Even on the Hood, they wouldn’t have thought that kind of death funny.
The anvil was pulled up by ropes and pulleys. LaFuentes grabbed the crank and pulled, muscles straining, but the device, which had fallen so easily, resisted his efforts to raise it. After several minutes of grunting and sweating, he managed to get it a couple of feet off the ground.
He swore. This was too much effort. Time to think like a security officer. “Ensign, shoot it.”
He grunted as the heavy object fought to fall back on the ground. “Pull out your phaser, set it to disintegrate, and shoot the anvil!”
“Oh!” She did as instructed, but instead of glowing yellow, then white, then disappearing in a glittery display, it blasted apart with a poof of glowing hot dust-size particles.
Both Becca and he were blown back. She landed between the bodies and scrambled away. He struck a wall with a painful thump that knocked the air out of him. He slid to the floor and stayed there a minute until the dizziness passed. They were both covered in fine dust.
“Lieutenant!” Becca grabbed a couple of towels from a drawer and ran to him. “Are you all right? I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened.”
“Not your fault. Someone designed it that way. Who knows why.” With a small groan, he pulled himself up and went to check the remains of the holographic doctor. As he’d guessed, her body was not there; rather, a crushed box that was her holoemitter testified to her untimely demise.
Acting Captain’s Log, Supplemental
The loss of the holoemitter for our Emergency Medical Photonic Technician has made this mission even grimmer, but at least no one else was hurt and her original program is “alive” and well in our Sickbay, and the two had been exchanging data continuously. Commander Deary is taking the remains of the portable emitter back to the Impulsive to try to repair it.
Commander Angus Deary didn’t want to admit it, but he might have made a mistake patterning the holographic doctor after his old girlfriend, Caillen. He was taking the destruction of the portable holographic generator more personally than he should.
Ah, but she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen with her fine skin and mysterious eyes and the way she used to smile at him…
What happened to us? he wondered as he blew dust off one of the pieces of the broken components.
“Here.” The ensign who had accompanied LaFuentes and the doctor handed him a sealable bag to put the components in. She and LaFuentes were also coated in the fine dust. He snatched it from her hands and gently settled the pieces into it, wincing as they clacked against each other.
Enigo returned from his patrol of Sickbay. “The area is clear,” he said.
Deary snarled, “Oh, aye! Ye check now, do ye? What about before Doc Sorcha walked into a trap?”
“Ay! How was I supposed to know?” the chief of security snapped back.
“Isnae that your job?” Deary shoved the last piece into the bag, sealed it with an angry swipe, and stood to glare down at Enigo’s frowning face.
Deary towered over Enigo, but that didn’t stop the angry Hoodian from stepping closer and glaring back at his superior officer. He yelled, “How was I supposed to prepare for some crazed medical officer deciding to smash his patients with a rock?”
“Anvil,” Ensign Becca said.
Both men snapped, “Whatever!” and she shrank back.
Enigo clenched his fists tightly, then forced himself to take a deep breath and calm down. “Listen, sir, contrary to popular belief, I cannot anticipate everything. I cannot see into the future. If I could, Loreli would be…”
He pressed his lips tightly together, looked away, and tried again. “Everyone has been warned. We’re being more careful. Let’s just be glad that it was the holodoc that got damaged and not a real person killed.”
“I’m a real person,” the ensign murmured.
Deary turned to her. “Do ye not have work to do, Missy?”
She gaped at him. “I’m a qualified pilot. I fly ships. What do I know about medicine?”
Enigo sneered, “Do qualified pilots know how to download mission logs?”
“Oh, right. Yes, sir.”
When she skulked off, Deary turned back to Enigo. “And you. Your job is to protect all the members of our crew, not just the biological ones. I never want to hear you say that Caillen isn’t a real person.”
“Ach, never mind!” He slapped his comm badge. “Deary to teleporter room. Beam me directly to Sickbay, and Dour—do nae forget the decontamination sequence.”
The teleporter chief must have picked up on his mood because he didn’t make his usual annoyingly prophetic statements but did as he was told.
The air of the Impulsive hit him like an oven blast after the chill on the Marvin, which only annoyed him more. But then, she appeared before him and everything felt better.
The vision of Caillen frowned and said, “Commander, you are not well.” He knew then this was the holodoc, the bastardization of the woman he’d loved, programmed to give the EMPT program a more pleasing appearance and mannerisms. It had never loved him. It couldn’t help him now.
But he could change that.
“Computer, freeze EMPT program, Engineering override. Deary 36-CAI-24-LL-38-EN.”
“Wait!” the doc said, then froze, mouth partly open and one foot stepping forward.
He looked her over. She was so beautiful, so close to the real thing. It wouldn’t take much to complete the conversion. He set the bag with the portable emitter on a counter, then went to the programming console and got to work.
“Ah, lassie, I’ve waited long enough,” he told the static image of his former love.