Koral smelled the strange addition to the oxygen supply in his suit. Theragen... mixed with blood wine. They were either being killed in a creative manner, or it was a weapon of some kind. That wouldn't affect his mission, though. He glanced back at his squad, and saw that they seemed to be reacting in a similar fashion. "Continue ahead."
As they began to walk up the narrow gantry into the dorsal torpedo chamber, Koral felt his combat tricorder heat up, and he dropped it. Then he felt a wave of heat pass through him again. He started to brace himself and turn to his squad when he felt a thousand knife cuts of flame burn into his skin... through his environmental suit. Then he was on his back, and he heard the shouts of his warriors over comm channel. He couldn't be sure exactly what they were saying, but there were dozens of voices shouting at once. He quickly recognized, to his dismay, that they were in trouble. "Klingons!" He shouted, hoping to refocus their attention, but suddenly all he could hear was the shouting of his squad. Desperate. Frightened. Panicking.. He pushed himself up and tried to stand, even as his boots slipped on the steel grating. As he turned, he saw a horrific sight. The Tholians had materialized out of nowhere, outside of their silk and foil environmental suits. And they were using their crystalline limbs to burn holes through the Klingon suits and arms and legs. Disruptors were scattered on the deck, and bat'leths had been dropped, unused. As he began to count the numbers of warriors dying of burns before they could fight back, he realized that the comm channel had gone dead. The Tholians themselves were jumping and flashing between the warriors, not staying with a single warrior long enough to inflict fatal wounds. They were frenzied, slaughtering and savaging his warriors like animals.
Without thinking, Koral pulled a bat'leth from the deck and screamed. Then he threw himself at the nearest Tholian and swung the batleth as hard as he could. It was hard, like rock... and the bat'leth stopped cold. Koral felt something like a vice grip the bat'leth and tear it from his grasp. Then he felt the burning crystal tear the remnants of his environmental suit. He was suddenly assaulted by heat that blinded him. He felt the crystalline pincers, like obsidian daggers melt through his faceplate, and he knew he was dead. So he gripped his disruptor and pushed it into the mass of fighting burning crystals. Then he squeezed the trigger. There was an explosion of light and heat, and the Tholian made a noise that had to be a scream. It was a combination of clicks and screeches, along with the sound of glass breaking. He could feel the creature burning into his chest, and he shoved the barrel further up into whst he assumed was its chest. Then he squeezed the trigger again and again, and he felt the creature jump in his arms as the explosive energy impacted against its crystalline body. Finally it exploded like a thousand burning hot shards that burned through the remnants of his uniform and into his skin.
As the Tholian disintegrated, the others stopped attacking as one. They were still for a moment, as if they had all felt the death of one and been paralyzed. Koral knew that it was an important discovery, and had to be communicated. He tapped his own commlink, only to discover it was dead. Guessing that the extreme heat had fried the circuitry, he found a warrior whose faceplate was intact. As the Tholians began to move again, he pulled the helmet off of the dead warrior's head. For an instant, he was dumbstruck. She was young. Younger than his daughter. And her eyes were closed. He forced them open. "Face death with your eyes open, young warrior." Then he put the helmet on and keyed the comm switch and spoke so that any survivors on the ship would hear. "They fight as one-". Then all of the Tholians fell upon him with renewed savagery.
"Koral!" QasQa shouted into the pickup. "Koral!" The channel was dead. She cursed. "My commlink is functioning, but the receiver is dead." She was in main engineering, where the last of the preparations would take place to release the 'etlh from Tholian space. "I want reports from all squads," she ordered K'dan. "We need answers!" Then she willed herself to calm down, and contacted the Ab'Qaff. "General-"
"Report." Kapact's voice was like five thousand year-old ice.
"My lord-" she forced herself to not falter or hesitate. "We are almost ready to power down the warp drive and switch to batteries. But-". And there she stopped. The news was not good, and however much she respected Kapact, she had never had to report such a disaster. She searched for the words, and waited for his angry reply. But there was just cold silence. "But, Lord, Tholians are swarming the ship. Our warriors fight to the death, and we hold all command and control functions. But we are running out-"
"What?" Kapact asked quietly.
"Last reports say that there are only two hundred left."
"Very well," he answered simply. There was something terribly wrong, QasQa thought. I've failed him, and I'll die in disgrace. "Download the databank and destroy the ship, Commander. Now."
to be continued...