Astrometrics, 0900 the Next Day
: Tal Celes’ eyes went wide as she stared at her display as she gasped.
“Crewman Celes, elaborate on your cause for surprise.” Seven of Nine began.
“I’m reading a spatial rift opening at Bearing 310 Mark 2.” Celes began, “Distance 3 light years.”
Seven checked the console, “Are you also reading massive gravimetric eddies and distortions?”
“Yes.” Celes replied, “I’m also revealing possible starships emerging from the rift.”
“Possible?” Seven replied.
“There’s too much EM interference to scan from this far.” Celes said.
It seemed silly but she felt a chill creeping up her spine from these readings. It was absurd. She’d seen anomalies before and actually the readings weren’t nearly as complicated as that Class-T cluster.
Before Seven could say anything Celes added, “I’m passing my readings up to the Bridge.”
Seven merely nodded, “I will go to the Bridge. Monitor your stations and inform me if anything changes with the anomaly.”
Seven of Nine walked out of Astrometrics to the nearest turbolift, a PADD containing a snapshot of the last readings on the consoles in Astrometrics in her hand. It seemed that Celes was becoming more competent in her duties but she still required watching. This would be what she had heard Tom call an ‘acid test’, though the correlation between dipping anything in a caustic substance and the competence of an individual crewmember was lost on her. Perhaps speaking to the Doctor about the phenomenon called ‘Slang’ would be helpful for the next social lesson.
“Captain. Long range sensors are picking up a spatial rift Bearing 310 Mark 2.” Harry Kim began, “Astrometrics is sending a preliminary analysis.”
“What are they saying, Mr. Kim?” Captain Janeway replied.
“It’s too early to tell, but Astrometrics has reason to believed that at least one ship has emerged from the anomaly.” Kim replied.
At about that same moment the turbolift opened and Seven of Nine walked towards the Captain. “Seven, has this phenomenon ever been encountered by the Borg?”
“No Captain.” Seven replied.
Janeway scanned the contents of the PADD. “It is too early to tell if a ship has emerged from the anomaly. But the preliminary scans appear to show signs of a vessel.”
“Crewman Celes made the preliminary assessment and I concur.” Seven replied.
“Any information as to the configuration of the vessel, Seven?” Janeway asked.
“Again, no, the gravimetric distortions and eddies closest to the rift make scanning difficult.” Seven replied.
“Perhaps a closer look would be best.” Janeway replied.
“I recommend going to Yellow Alert.” Chakotay replied, Janeway turned to glance at him, “Just as a precaution. We might not know if that ship is hostile.”
“Good idea, Chakotay. Go to Yellow Alert. Mr. Paris, set a course for the anomaly, Warp 6.” Janeway began.
“Aye ma’am.” Tom Paris said from the helm and plotted the course.
Voyager turned towards the anomaly.
“I’ll be in my ready room.” Janeway replied, “Seven, keep Astrometrics running scans on that anomaly. Inform me if you’ve found anything more to confirm the presence of a ship.”
Seven left the bridge and Chakotay followed Janeway into the ready-room saying, “Mr. Tuvok, you have the bridge.”
“Aye sir.” Tuvok replied before taking the command chair.
“Yes Commander?” Janeway said as she saw Chakotay following her.
“I’m curious as to why we’re heading towards the anomaly.” Chakotay said.
“It’s the first of its kind encountered. And there’s the possibility of a vessel nearby it.” Janeway said, “I want to know if this rift could shorten our journey home and the possibility of making contact with an alien species that could possibly tell us more about this anomaly.”
“That’s what I figured your intent was, Kathryn.” Chakotay said, “But as First Officer I feel it is my duty to advise caution. The last time we encountered gravity fields like this was near the Hirogen relay network.”
“Astrometrics should inform me if the vessel has any signs of hostile activity.” Janeway said, “And that’s why I ordered the approach at Warp Six. It should take three days to reach the anomaly which should give us sufficient time to gather information at a distance and possibly even make contact with the ship.”
“I believe this is reasonably safe.” Chakotay replied, “I just had a couple recommendations.”
“Such as?” Janeway replied.
“Perhaps using the Flyer when we get closer.” Chakotay said, “It’s greater maneuverability would mean it could avoid the gravity eddies easier than the ship could.”
“I’d already planned for that.” Janeway said, “Have the Flyer ready by tommorrow.”
“Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have B’Elanna draw up a plan for reinforcing the shields and structural integrity systems.” Chakotay replied.
“Head for Engineering.” Janeway replied.
Chakotay half smiled before leaving the ready room and headed for the turbolift, “I’ll also have B’Elanna
Voyager continued on its course for the anomaly. Henry headed for the Mess Hall for lunch. He found Tal Celes and William Telfer already sitting there.
He got his tray from Neelix before heading over to the table and sitting down. “I heard someone found us a nice spatial rift.” Henry replied
Celes’ delicate features flushed noticeably.
Henry couldn’t help but feel a smile creep over his own face at Tal’s blush, something about making her smile or chuckle or anything of that sort made him feel good.
“What are you smiling at?” Tal asked him.
“Oh nothing. It’s an old Australian saying: ‘A good mood is contagious’.” Henry replied.
“That’s not an Australian saying.” Telfer replied.
“Can you prove otherwise mate?” Henry replied.
“So far that’s the fourth saying you’ve claimed is invented by the Australians.” Telfer replied.
“If I remember right there are a lot of cultures on Earth, are you saying the Australians have a monopoly on old Earth sayings?” Tal replied.
“A vast majority of them.” Henry replied.
“Don’t believe him.” Telfer added, “After knowing him for over six years you know he’ll claim everything and every proverb was invented by the Australians.”
“I thought humans gave up on the idea of individual nations centuries ago.” Tal replied.
“We did. But it’s also in our nature for us to be proud of our heritage. I’m proud I’m Australian.” Henry replied.
“So where are you from, Billy?” Tal asked.
“Encino, California.” Billy said.
“So are you proud of your heritage?” Tal asked.
“Proud enough. But I don’t claim California invented everything from the carburetor to every witty saying on Earth.” Billy replied.
Just then the warning for Red Alert sounded...
“Report.” Captain Janeway said as she headed for the bridge.
“A Vaadwaur fighter just dropped out of subspace.” Tuvok reported.
“Evasive maneuvers?” Tom asked.
“Not yet. Ensign Kim, open a channel to them.” Janeway replied, “Raise shields and charge phasers.”
“Vaadwaur fighter,” Janeway began, “This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. State your intentions...”
“No response, ma’am.” Harry replied.
“Ma’am the Vaadwaur ship’s engines are offline.” Tom replied, “They’re drifting in space.”
“I’m reading at least two hull breaches and severe battle damage.” Tuvok replied.
“Lifesigns?” Janeway asked.
“One, erratic.” Tuvok replied.
“Bridge to Sickbay,” Janeway replied as she headed for her chair, “Doctor we’ve come upon a Vaadwaur ship with one erratic lifesign. We may have a wounded crewman heading your way.”
“Acknowledged.” the Doctor’s voice echoed.
Janeway turned to Chakotay and said, “Commander, take an away team to the Vaadwaur ship.”
“Tuvok, Seven you’re with me. Captain, permission to take members of the Search and Rescue detachment as well?” Chakotay replied.
“Granted.” Janeway replied.
“Chakotay to Lieutenant Kano.” Chakotay began after tapping his comm badge.
“Kano here, go ahead sir.” Henry replied.
“We have an away mission on a derelict spacecraft.” Chakotay replied.
“My team’s already assembled, sir.” Henry replied.
“We won’t need all eight of your team, lieutenant. Meet us in Transporter Room Two as soon as you’ve briefed your team.” Chakotay replied.
“Aye sir, Kano out.” Henry replied.
Search and Rescue Team Room, Aft of Astrometrics
: “Right,” Henry said as he glanced at his PADD, “We have a Vaadwaur fighter adrift in space, evidence of battle damage. Preliminary scans reveal one lifesign, erratic.”
“Any other sign of Vaadwaur ships in the area?” Chief Kurt Elmore asked.
“None seen so far.” Henry replied, “Commander Chakotay said he only needs half our team. Chief, I’d like to have you along for this one. If I know Chakotay he’s gonna want to see if we can’t exploit some of that Vaadwaur subspace travel technology.”
Henry turned towards a slim blonde female petty officer, “Tarbox, I’d like to have you as our primary medic.”
“Yes sir.” Tarbox replied, “Were there any more life signs recognized, sir?”
“None reported other than the one erratic lifesign, but Vaadwaur fighters can carrry around six people.” Henry replied.
“I am always ready for more than one sir.” Tarbox replied.
Henry turned towards a stocky, muscular fellow, “Tanner. I want you for security on this op.”
“Roger sir.” Tanner replied.
“Back up team?” Petty Officer First Class John Russo, a tall lanky, balding fellow with a manner reminiscent of the cowboys he was descended from.
“Be on ready five.” Henry replied.
“Aye sir.” Russo replied.
“We leave in twenty minutes, Transporter Room 2.” Henry replied.
Transporter Room Two
: As the away team mustered Henry felt and old and familiar feeling course through him. He checked through his equipment for the hundredth time. Tricorder was functioning properly, as was his light beacon, and his hand phaser was fully charged.
“I want a section by section sweep of the ship.” Chakotay began, “Seven, you, Kano, and Tuvok are with me, we’ll start with the forward section of the ship and work our way aft. Chief, take the rest of the team and sweep the aft section of that fighter and work your way forward.”
“Aye sir.” Chief Elmore replied.
The team materialized onto the Vaadwaur ship. The lights flickered on and off. The passageway was strewn with debris from a nearby console that had exploded and the starboard bulkhead and ceiling looked as if some lunatic with an asteroid mining phaser had gotten a tad trigger happy.
A creature lay dead on the floor, ripped in half from left hip to right shoulder. Standing about a meter tall, it was black as liquid asphalt, with claw-like hands.
Henry took his phaser from his hip and held it out before him.
“Elmore to Chakotay. Aft compartment secured.” The sound echoed eerily through the wrecked forward compartment of the Vaadwaur vessel.
Chakotay tapped his comm badge, “Acknowledged.”
“Looking more like they were boarded every step we’re taking.” Chief Elmore’s voice echoed.
“I’ve got two more corpses just past this bulkhead.” Henry began as they went into the next compartment.
Seven scanned the corpses with her tricorder, “Commander, preliminary scans reveal that this creature lacks a heart.”
Before Chakotay could respond there was a clash of metal against a console. The sound of a panel shattering could be heard in the next room. The door was sealed ahead of them.
Tuvok aimed his phaser at the door, using it as a cutting torch. He’d cut a hole large enough for the team to go in one by one.
Tuvok entered the room, Henry right after him. From an alcove near Henry a creature charged out. The creature was Vaadwaur but at the same time, not Vaadwaur. Half of it’s skin was blackened almost charred but there was no smell of burned flesh. One eye was normal, the other a glowing yellow orb. Half the flesh on its face was blackened, two antennae protruded from its forehead. One arm was normal, save for the ripped sleeve and the many cuts and bruises. The other arm was charcoal black and ended in a twisted claw. Blood and some unidentifiable inky black fluid leaked from wounds on its torso.
The creature let out a roar and charged. Henry fired his phaser, striking the creature in the center of its chest. It only sent the creature to one knee. Henry backed up and luckily managed to dodge a claw swipe that would have eviscerated him had he been standing one centimeter closer to the thing when it lunged. Henry let fly with another blast from his phaser. This time the mutated Vaadwaur crumpled to the deck.
“Kano to Chakotay.” Henry said.
“Go ahead.” Chakotay replied as he walked into the room
“I’ve got one live hostile stunned. Permission to transport it directly to Sickbay.” Henry replied.
“Standby.” Chakotay replied before tapping his comm badge, “Chakotay to Voyager. We encountered a hostile alien on the Vaadwaur ship, wounded. Request permission to beam it to Sickbay.”
Janeway’s voice came back over the comm system: “Granted.”
In the background Chakotay could hear Janeway issuing the orders to erect a Level 10 forcefield around Sickbay and for a security team to meet them.
The creature disappeared in the shimmer of a transporter beam as another report came in over the comm, “Chakotay, this is Elmore. We’ve finished our sweep of the aft section and starting our download of the Vaadwaur computer core.” Elmore replied.
“Alright. Once the download’s complete we’ll head back to Voyager.” Chakotay replied.
“Acknowledged. I’ll inform you when we’re done.” Elmore replied.
“No sign of transporter signatures. But definite battle damage.” Tuvok said.
“Perhaps they were physically boarded. At least one of those hull breaches looks large enough to get one of those humanoids through.” Petty Officer John Tanner replied.
“Perhaps.” Tuvok said, “However there did not appear to be evidence of another vessel in the vicinity of this one.”
“Elmore to Chakotay.” Came the sound over the comm, “Computer download complete.”
“Let’s find some answers. Chakotay to Voyager. Eight to beam out.”
To be continued...