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USS ANGEL – FLIGHT DECK OPERATIONS OFFICE
September 11th 2371 – 2326 FST
“Raptor One check.”
“Raptor Two check.”
“Eyrie this is Raptor Flight checking in.”
Lieutenant Jean ‘Eyrie’ O’Hara plotted both of the fighters on her board as they left dock and turned to intercept the rapidly approaching cube, or what was now left of it.
“Raptor flight this is Eyrie. Control established. Suggest you get above the inbound and follow it in. Tactical says it has failing power and weapons are offline, but I wouldn’t trust ‘em as far as I could throw ‘em.”
O’Hara was herself an ex-fighter pilot who now served as the fighter controller aboard the Angel
. It was her duty to co-ordinate the two nimble craft until they were in a position to take over a combat intercept themselves.
“Acknowledged Eyrie, we’re climbing now. Advise Tactical that some of the slower asteroids look like they’re breaking up. It could be they’ll pose a problem to the dock on their current vectors.”
“Relaying now Raptor One. Are you happy to take the mission?”
Mo accepted control, and O’Hara hurriedly contacted Tactical to relay the asteroid warning.
Dan relied, as all good commanding officer’s did, on the professionalism of his crew and their ability to mesh as a team. He also knew better than to try and micro-manage and sat silently for now as the subdued hum of work continued around him.
“Sir, message from Raptor flight.” DeSalle transmitted the updated asteroid plot to Dan’s chair. “The expanding asteroid field looks like it could threaten Zethander dock.”
“Thank you Mr DeSalle. Science, I need a continually updated plot on the asteroids and immediate notification if there is any threat to Zethander dock that their shields and defensive weapons can’t handle.”
“Aye Sir.” T’Sell, the Chief Science Officer was currently manning science one behind his right shoulder.
“Commander Gray, anybody who isn’t aboard now misses the ride.” It was unavoidable but Dan wasn’t about to leave dock without shields.
“Good news sir we got ‘em all.” Kat brushed an errant strand of hair behind her ear as she grinned at Dan.
“Good timing Commander. Mr DeSalle, shields please. Let’s take a look at this mess.”
soared out into free space and her viewscreen at last showed him first hand the devastation that had been wrought by the arrival of the cube. Asteroids that had previously maintained a relatively stable orbit were now being ricocheted around as collisions broke them into smaller random moving pieces.
T’Sell broke into his thoughts. “Sir, update on the impact points. Several will land close to Coral City, more offshore. The offshore ones will possibly be just as devastating however. I’m estimating multiple tsunami effects. The Borg trajectory puts its impact point inland approximately 50 kilometres south of the city.”
Alright Dan, just like a simulation, piece by piece and prioritise,
he thought to himself.
The Borg were no longer part of the equation right now. If any survived the impact, then they’d deal with them at that stage. He didn’t dare open fire on the cube in case it fragmented and posed an even greater threat planetside. Similarly, he daren’t risk firing on the asteroids, though there was another option.
“T’Sell, I want you to plot the asteroids that pose the greatest threat and prioritise them on screen. Commander, get the runabouts out and down to the planet ready to assist in evacuation procedures. Mr DeSalle, prepare tractor beams on the priorities assigned by Science.”
He plotted the pieces of the jigsaw in his mind and saw them starting to come together. He just hoped it would be in time.
CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
September 11th 2371 – 2330 FST
Mo was appalled to see the bodies of Borg drones adrift in the wake of the rapidly disintegrating cube. She had no love for the Borg of course, but each body she passed had once been a sentient being plucked from their everyday lives and assimilated to serve the needs of the Collective.
The cube, even battered and torn as it was, was still huge and its very appearance made Mo shudder. Under normal circumstances, it would have classed her as insignificant, wiping her out without even pausing for breath. The dark grey slab sided form bled green light from numerous gashes along its flanks and the whole forward face was nothing more than a tangled mass of metal. It now ran far ahead of the asteroids and still showed no sign of slowing or acknowledging their presence.
“Raptor flight this is Eyrie.”
“Go ahead Eyrie.”
“Raptor flight, command requests that unless you have anything out there that needs attention, you recover to home plate this time.”
“Standby Eyrie.” Mo switched channels to talk to Homer on their discrete tactical frequency. “Any point in watching this close up my man?”
Mo heard the shudder in Homer’s voice and immediately sympathised with him. “It’s like a graveyard out here Mo and we ain’t achieving a damn thing.”
She nodded and reselected the command frequency. “Eyrie this is Raptor flight, show’s over out here, returning to base this time.”
“Received Raptor, Eyrie out.”
As the pair of Valkyrie
’s turned for home, Mo thought that what made the sight worse was that many of the Borg were still alive, adapted by their assimilation to operating in vacuum indefinitely. Their’s would either be a lonely death as they drifted out into the frigid coldness of deep space, or a mercifully brief one as the friction of planetary re-entry incinerated them.
Mo didn’t like the thought of either.
USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
September 11th 2371 – 2336 FST
Dan watched as the Valkyrie
’s climbed up and above the cloud of debris currently heading towards Zethander allowing Angel
a clear run at the first target. T’Sell had marked many of the asteroids as zero threats which would either burn up on re-entry or land in un-populated zones without causing damage to the planetary infrastructure. Of the one hundred and twenty two left, eighty five were of low threat, twenty seven medium and the remaining ten were the highest threat. Dan knew he had to work quickly to negate as much of that threat as possible.
In the Crisis Control Centre, or C3, situated between the bridge and the briefing room aft, co-ordinating operations were underway to evacuate those areas at the highest risk from impact. Time was now their greatest enemy.
“Alright Mr DeSalle, your chance to shine.” Dan noticed that his Chief of Security’s shaved head was covered in a thin sheen of sweat but his expression was one of calm determination. “Time to lasso an asteroid. Commander Machilveen, ready?”
His Chief Engineer was now at her bridge engineering station ready to co-ordinate the massive energy reserves required to deflect the asteroid.
“Ready as we’ll ever be Sir.”
he thought. “Time to first impact Commander T’Sell?”
“Twenty seven minutes and thirty five seconds sir.”
Nowhere near enough time to get all of them, but they still had to try.
“Ok the operation’s yours Commander T’Sell.”
Dan stood and walked to the rear of the bridge to stand next to Kat Gray. Right now the mission was in the concerted hands of his crew and he would do nothing to interrupt.
He followed the intricate operation on the Mission Ops console. First the huge starship laid in a parallel course to the priority target before power was fed to the two huge tractor emitters and the asteroid was snared. Now came the time consuming part. It only required a course change of a few degrees to deflect the asteroid away from a critical area on the planet ahead, but those few degrees had to be accurate to prevent it smashing into yet another vulnerable area.
The mass and momentum of the asteroid meant that the change was slow but it seemed just moments before T’Sell called “Release!” and the operation began all over again on target two.
Dan’s attention was distracted by an incoming signal.
“Bridge, this is flight deck ops.”
“Go ahead Eyrie.”
The Irish brogue of Jean O’Hara sounded slightly perplexed.
“Sir, Raptor flight has discovered a vessel out by the entry point of the Borg cube.”
Dan was immediately alert. “Do we have a visual?”
Kat transferred a feed from Raptor One on to her console screen.
The vessel was the purest white except where the remains of the Borg cube had impacted marring its pristine surface. It consisted of a central body tapering to the rear and on each side were three extensions tipped by what appeared to be the main propulsion units, though what powered them remained a mystery. The head of the ship was an open ring not unlike a letter C with the opening facing forward. Fishlock thought that in plan form it resembled a huge immobile and albino scorpion. You really have to stop thinking like that
he thought to himself, especially when it involves bugs.
“Raptor One says scans show no life forms aboard and power is at minimal levels Captain. Zethander Dock says they have no knowledge of the ship either and it doesn’t correspond to anything in the data banks. Would you like me to get Raptor Flight to check it out?”
He certainly didn’t want the Valkyrie
’s coming back aboard while their asteroid deflection was ongoing, and it was quite possible the new ship might have been dragged through the spatial rift with the Borg. Prudence dictated that it should be checked out sooner rather than later.
“Do it Eyrie. Keep the feed live to Mission Ops, I’ll monitor it from there.”
He raised his eyebrows at Kat who simply shrugged. In the background he heard T’Sell order “Release!” again, and so it began once more.
CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
September 11th 2371 – 2347 FST
“Raptor Flight, cleared to intercept bogey, Command is monitoring your feed.”
Kat acknowledged the call then switched to the tactical frequency to co-ordinate with her wing man.
“Homer, intercept pattern Gamma. If it looks clear we’ll go scan and cover.”
“Gotcha. Ready for the split.”
The pair of aerospace fighters diverged at Mo’s signal to approach the apparently dormant ship from opposite directions. Although initial scans showed no overt sign of activity, Mo wasn’t about to let that lull her into a false sense of security. Once they had ascertained as far as possible that the ship presented no apparent threat, Mo would start a close in scan while Homer held off at a distance to provide cover.
“Don’t know about your side Mo, but it looks clean from here.”
“This side too apart from that one nasty ding in the mid section. Scans are showing that it was probably hit by the cube. You happy to start scan and cover?” As Homer called affirmative, Mo switched the sensors in her fighter from passive to deep scan.
She ran the length of the mysterious white ship with Homer running a parallel track some 500 metres out before flipping over and under to repeat the process. Finishing the scan, they withdrew to study the results.
“Still no life forms, but I get a null node just aft of where the cube hit. You see that?”
“Yea got it Mo. Think it’s sensor shielded or an artefact of the impact?”
Mo shook her head even though Homer couldn’t see her puzzled look. “No idea my man. Let me feed it back to Eyrie and they can worry about it.”
She switched channels to the fighter control frequency. “Eyrie, sensor dump coming in. Request further instructions, Raptor Flight standing by.”
USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
September 11th 2371 – 2358FST
While T’Sell was tied up (poor time for puns
Dan thought to himself) with lassoing asteroids, Science 2 had been manned by the young Sezdati Ensign, Kara Asheen, who was now poring over the data received from Raptor Flight. Dan leaned in over the console and pointed.
“Is that the null node there?”
Asheen nodded bringing the area into greater magnification.
“Yes Sir. To be honest, it could be anything from a shielded computer core to a crew emergency bolthole. If the Valkyrie
scans can’t penetrate from that close in, I doubt we’ll find out anything more without a boarding party.”
She looked up at him quickly in embarrassment, her mirrored eyes reflecting a distorted image of his face and he smiled.
“I’ll take that into consideration Ensign, thank you.”
“Sorry Sir.” Dan realised she was mortified at making mission suggestions unprompted to her commanding officer and he tried to ease her discomfort.
“Don’t worry, I expect any member of the crew to furnish opinions when they feel it’s necessary Ensign.” Her smile of relief was evident so Dan pushed on quickly. “What else do the scans tell us?”
“Well the ship’s alive and in remarkably good condition. Power to all sections of the ship, some low level automated activity, just apparently no crew Sir.”
“Thank you Ensign, keep working on it.” She nodded once more and he returned to Kat’s side. “Get an away team together, science, medical, engineering and security. Remember though, If there is anybody over there I don’t want them to think we’re invading. We just need to be able to offer effective assistance if we can.”
“On it Sir.” Kat waved over Amanda Gittings who relieved her at Mission Ops and as Kat left the bridge, he heard T’Sell pronounce, “That’s number eight. Targeting number nine, Conn take us in.”
Dan was too afraid to ask if they were ahead of the curve so wisely kept quiet as he wandered back over to Science 2 and studied the Scorpion.