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September 12th 2371 – 0316 FST
Stowarn had been a member of the voluntary emergency services in Coral City for just twelve months and in that short time, his duties had pretty much amounted to zero. To be sure there had been the usual minor incidents that made up the day to day life of emergency teams across the galaxy, but like the thousands of other inhabitants of Coral City, never in his wildest nightmares had he imagined that one day the emergency he would respond to would be planet wide.
His bright yellow protective gear was now barely visible under a coating of noxious smelling mud and debris. Worse still, in the warm tropical night, it was stifling. He’d been left on duty outside the central governmental tower, or at least what was left of it. It had been decided by control that survivors would try and make for either here or one of the three hospitals and it was Stowarn’s task to record details and arrange transportation for them. So far it had been a lonely and ultimately futile task. The only living thing he’d seen since being dropped off was a bedraggled looking Ethin Gull wheeling above the detritus choked street cawing in confusion.
I know exactly how ya feel fella
As his face plate fogged up yet again, Stowar finally decided that it was proving to be more of a hindrance than a help and he was willing to risk the stench for a few moments to get some much needed air into the hot, sticky suit. Popping the quick releases, he gratefully pulled the helmet off and wrinkled his nose at the overpowering smell.
He sat on the bottom step and placed his helmet beside him. It had only been a few minutes earlier that he’d received a personal comm to say that his parents and sister were safe and well in the evacuation centre at Reef Park, but their home was history. Still as long as they’re safe…
He cursed involuntarily as his helmet rolled off the step and bounced into a pool of slime that he didn’t even try and identify. Cursing all the way, he bent forward to retrieve it when his neck was snared by something cold, slick and smelling as bad as the street. He struggled vainly to free himself and in his panic, kicked his helmet with it’s built in comm unit further out of reach. His struggle was mercifully brief as nightmare filled darkness enveloped him.
SCORPION – NULL NODE AREA
CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
September 12th 2371 – 0330 FST
Four columns of sparkling light coalesced into the forms of the USS Angel’s senior bridge staff, and as the transporter effect released them they stood for a moment to admire their surroundings. With full power and control apparently restored to the ship, the lighting had taken on a warm and ambient quality that had been absent in the images transmitted by the away team’s tricorders.
Dan sniffed appreciatively. “I don’t know what that scent is but if this goes to plan I’m going to ask Chascarpar… damn…”
“Chariscarpia Sir,” chipped in T’Sell.
He eyed Kat and DeSalle cautiously. “I suppose neither of you two have trouble with her name either?” They wisely remained quiet. “Well, anyway, I’m going to ask if she can give us the secret recipe.”
A section of wall to his right dissolved with the noise that Kat had already briefed him on and a small sphere bobbed through the opening to be followed by Vonny Dixon and the woman known as Chariscarpia.
Chariscarpia stood before him, appearing as a strangely beautiful dark haired woman in her early thirties. Her eyes were a mix of blue fading to violet, and even the frond like antennae, absence of a nose and small gill like structures fluttering at the side of her slender neck that he’d seen in the images couldn’t detract from the serenity she projected. Standing with her hands folded in front of her, for a while she simply watched him and then pointed to her mouth then to the familiar sphere that now hovered by her side.
T’Sell whispered from just behind him. “I believe it may be on a par with our universal translator Sir, or at least what she is using until her own translator is repaired. She obviously needs input for it to begin parsing our language.”
“Ok,” he said, “let’s try the simple stuff first.” Using his hands to gesture at himself he began. “Erm, my…name is Captain Daniel Fishlock of the USS Angel
.” He pointed to a screen that displayed the image of his ship. “USS Angel
He detected a huff of impatience from behind him. “Sir she is an intelligent being, not a dull child.” He heard Kat snicker, and whispering from the corner of his mouth he said “If you think you can do any better, step up to the plate T’Sell!”
Missing the sarcasm and taking his offer literally, T’Sell stepped forward. “Thank you sir.” Dan didn’t have chance to object as T’Sell held up her tricorder, and passed it to Chariscarpia who took it and examined it carefully. A smile of dawning realisation crept on to the aliens face, and she nodded enthusiastically. Holding the tricorder towards the sphere, a translucent wave of golden light washed over it as it was scanned before a rotating ring of lights appeared around the circumference of the sphere. Within seconds the lights on the tricorder were in synchronisation and Chariscarpia closed her eyes.
“I took the liberty of uploading the Federation standard language module Sir.”
“I appreciate you telling me that T’Sell.” His attempt to hide a smile failed. “Slightly late, but thank you.”
Minutes passed as the tableau remained frozen. Dan took the chance to nod appreciatively at Dixon, who still seemed in awe of the whole situation. She returned his acknowledgement with a smile.
Eventually, the lights on the small sphere slowed and then stopped to glow a healthy blue colour. Chariscarpia opened her eyes and smiled broadly.
Holding out her hands palm up she said in a voice bereft of any inflection, “Captain, I welcome you aboard my vessel.” She bowed her head and crossed her arms across her chest.
Dan stepped forward, mimicking her arms out gesture. “I’m Captain Dan Fishlock of the USS Angel. We thank you for allowing us the privilege of being here Chariscarpia (Yes!
). On behalf of the people and government of the United Federation of Planets, welcome.” Indicating the three officers behind him he introduced each one.
“This is my First Officer Commander Katerina Gray.” He knew Kat hated her full name but he thought to himself that’ll teach you to snicker at me
. “This is Lieutenant Commander T’Sell, my Chief Science Officer and this is Lieutenant Commander DeSalle my Chief of Security.” He indicated towards Vonny. “Ensign Dixon you’ve already met.”
“Thank you Captain and thank you Ensign Dixon.” She turned and placed a hand gently on Vonny’s shoulder. “Without your hard work, none of this would be possible.”
Vonny blushed furiously but mumbled a thank you. Returning her attention to Dan, Chariscarpia became business like again.
“I have scanned my records Captain and I am now up to date with the situation on the planet below. While there is much I wish to discuss with you concerning my past and my mission, I feel that the safety of those below is of a higher priority right now. Is there any way in which I may offer help?”
Dan considered for a moment, but was unsure of his answer. Chariscarpia’s technology appeared to at least be on a par with the Federation’s if not beyond from what he had seen so far, but knowing little of it he didn’t know what to suggest. T’Sell rescued him.
“Sir, if I might suggest?”
“By all means Commander.”
“Sir if Chariscarpia agrees, I would like to remain aboard, possibly with a science team. It would help to ascertain in which areas Chariscarpia’s aid could be utilised best.” Dan was almost certain he detected a note of excitement in T’Sell’s voice but chose not to capitalise on it. The thrill of first contact was excitement enough for anybody.
“Would that be agreeable Chariscarpia?” The name seemed to flow easily now that he had had the chance to use it properly and not embarrass himself.
She dipped her head in reply, the frond like antennae waving gently with her movement. “Most agreeable Captain; it has been far too long since I had the opportunity for discussion. My ship is at your disposal.”
Dan sighed with relief. As far as first contacts went, this one was proving much easier than any of the simulations in Command school. One thing still bothered him though. “Our thanks.” He paused. “If I may ask, this is a large vessel and we have detected no other crew aboard.”
She lowered her head, but this time in what appeared to be sadness. “Captain, it has been almost two hundred of your years since this vessel had a crew. I will relate the details when you have more time, but suffice to say, they are gone. Irrevocably.”
The pall of sadness that surrounded Chariscarpia as she made that revelation was almost palpable and Dan was moved to say “My condolences.”
Not wishing to prolong Chariscarpia’s obvious discomfort, Dan turned to T’Sell. “Commander, if you’d like to organise a science team?”
“Aye Sir.” She turned and tapped her communicator to speak to Angel and Dan turned back to the exotic alien.
“Ma’am I look forward to talking further with you, and thank you for your forbearance.”
“You’re welcome Captain.”
“Sir, request permission to stay aboard as well?” Dixon was almost hopping from foot to foot. “That’s if Chariscarpia doesn’t mind of course?”
Dan deferred to Chariscarpia on that one. She turned and smiled once more at the young engineer. “It would be my pleasure Ensign. We appear to have struck up quite a rapport.”
“Thank you Ma’am, Sir!”
Dan couldn’t help but smile at her enthusiasm and nodded.
“If you’ll excuse us then Chariscarpia, we’ll return to our ship. I’ll leave Commander T’Sell to co-ordinate any requirements you may have, and once again thank you for your offer of help.”
“Captain in my many years of travel there have been times when I dearly wished to offer aid and could not. Now is the time to change that. Good luck.”
He nodded and tapped his commbadge. “Angel, three to transport back.”
USS ANGEL – TRANSPORTER ROOM TWO
ZETHANDER – GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT
September 12th 2371 – 0350 FST
As the three officers stepped down from the transporter platform, Dan spoke to the chief on duty.
“Mr Arum, Commander T’Sell is just rustling up a science team to beam over and Ensign Dixon is remaining aboard Scorpion as well. I don’t expect any issues, but maintain a transporter lock just in case.”
“Will do Sir”, replied the Trill.
“If you’ll excuse me Sir, I’d best check in with security control for an update.”
“Certainly Mr DeSalle, though I’d request once you’ve got an update you delegate to the Gamma shift chief and get some rest.”
Looking slightly disappointed, he nodded. “Aye Sir, good night.”
Leaving the transporter room with Kat in tow, he couldn’t help but notice a sparkle of mischief in her tired eyes.
“Go on; spit it out before you burst.”
“And I quote, ‘Thank you for your forbearance’ unquote!” Her trademark laugh echoed down the corridor startling a passing medic who ducked reflexively. “Since when did you start to use words like that Captain Fishlock Sir?”
Dan pinched the bridge of his nose. “See! There’s that whole respect issue again. Why did I decide to surround myself with people who don’t respect my multifaceted skills?” He stopped dead in his tracks. “Did I just say multifaceted?”
She nodded, barely suppressing another guffaw.
He sighed and carried on walking, but at least now he had the feeling that things – as bad as they had been – were at last coming under control.