When they reach the hall, the captain pauses. “It’s not far to the bridge, but we should be cautious,” he says. “There could be mutineers anywhere. We shouldn’t take the most well-lit route, shall we say. How are you in the dark, young man?” There is no undertone to the question, nothing hinting about anything criminal.
“I have completely normal vision,” Tcho replies. It is true that there are a wide array of ocular organs in the galaxy, but humans have set the baseline.
“Ah, okay. I wasn’t sure if your species could see in the dark…”
“No. No, we can’t,” Tcho says. And then, feeling a little cheeky, he adds, “Can yours?”
“Well, some people can a little bit, but no, not so much. That’s why we call it ‘the dark.’ Well, then, let’s proceed.” Rowan buttons up his uniform coat and redoes his tie, making himself look fully presentable.
Tcho slips past the captain, taking the lead without asking permission. Adalat may have knocked him out, but Tcho slowed her down quite a bit and even took a blaster shot in the captain’s place. He feels that qualifies him for the position.
From his place in the rear, Rowan advises Tcho on the route they should take. They leave the main hallways behind, traveling through the staff access corridors. The first sign they encounter of other nefarious doings is a grate leaning against the wall, and the nearby exposed conduit through which comm lines pass. A bunch of wires have been pulled out of the wall, some cut and sparking. Tcho pauses to examine the job, wondering if it was a quick hack or something done by a professional. That will inform the nature of the overall threat. The only damage seems to be the cut wires themselves; no components have been removed. That should make repairing this easier. “Do you know anything about these systems?” he asks the captain, not being an electrician himself.
“Uh, this wasn’t really my department…” Rowan takes a peek over Tcho’s shoulder. “Are those exposed wires live?” he asks curiously. Although he does not know anything about the details of its operation, Rowan informs Tcho of who manufactured and installed the communications network. That is part of his regular spiel for tours of the bridge.
Maybe he’s not as incompetent as Adalat thinks; maybe there is some useful information buried in there that I can get him to spout out, Tcho reflects. He takes out his own comm, hoping to call JT and get her to talk him through the repairs, but the device is not registering any service. It should be routing itself through the local ship network, so that means comms are down for this whole area, not just the captain’s quarters. Likely that means the show bridge has been cut off, too. Tcho tries going into the device’s settings to find another network, but those signals are too attenuated to pick up from here. He puts his comm away with a sigh, wrinkling his brow as he looks over the mangled wiring again.
“I do wonder, if you were to fix it right now, would the mutineers be able to tell?” Rowan ponders aloud. “Maybe we should go onto the bridge first and alert Third Mate Soh’Soh, see if she’s noticed anything. Oh! I hope she’s all right!” The captain strides past Tcho, saying, “Fall in!” as he goes by.
Tcho grants that Rowan has a point about not tipping their hand to the mutineers. He weaves along behind the captain to the end of the passage. Rowan starts punching in a code, and Tcho reminds him that they cannot just walk right in. “What if mutineers are on the bridge?”
“Right. Good point.”
They use another entrance farther down, which takes them via spiral staircase up to the catwalk that surrounds the large open space of the grand bridge. Although the windows up there allow visitors to watch the exciting work below, there are several places with obscured line of sight from the bridge’s perspective. Rowan’s intimate familiarity with what is most visible from each part of the walkway used on the tour comes in quite handy. After some crouched creeping along, he and Tcho reach a good spot for discreetly observing the crew members below. Tcho peeks over the edge and describes a discouraging scene to the captain. “Three bodies, no blood.”
“Oh my goodness!” the captain exclaims with dismay.
To Tcho, this does not look like the work of someone as crazed as Adalat. “They’re bound in the chairs, so they’re probably still alive.” There are no obvious signs of violence, but Tcho will not know for sure until he is close enough to conduct an examination. “And I don’t see anyone else. No mutineers. No marks of sabotage, either.”
Rowan is a captain, and Tcho is—in all but name—a doctor. Leaving thoughts of stealth behind, the two hastily head down to deal with the situation.