Star Trek: Pathfinder
The Siren's Call - Part Seven
en route to Sector Nineteen
May 7, 2163
"We're the bait."
All eyes in the briefing room turned away from Amara and back to Teague. Beaumont clamped her mouth closed, trying not to utter the words ‘That's insane' out loud, and by the looks on the other officers' faces they were all sharing the same thought.
"Indeed we are, but I have no intention of getting caught in a trap," Teague said.
He tapped a few keys and the briefing room filled with the distorted warble of a man's voice, heavily distorted by static. "... stay away from the call," the voice said, and for the second time Beaumont felt a chill. "Whatever you do, stay away from the siren's call..." The voice was obliterated by noise, and Teague cut the playback, leaving the room in silence. "That was the last transmission received from the Roosevelt
," he said. "Voiceprint analysis has determined the speaker to Commander Alvin Williston, the Roosevelt
's chief engineer. As for what it could mean..."
Teague's voice trailed off as he tapped another button, and the wallscreen display changed to a waveform analysis of a subspace signal. "Starfleet cryptologists managed to detect a second subspace signal in the background of this transmission, some kind of bleed-through from the original. They think it may be related to the disappearances."
"A weapon of some kind?" T'Vril said.
"They're not sure. Nobody seems to have seen anything like it before." Teague gestured toward Kassin. "I want you and Commander Beaumont to process this signal through every filter you can think of. Pick it apart. Starfleet will update us with any progress they make, but..."
"It may come too late," Amara finished. "If at all."
Teague nodded. "That's why I want all divisions running combat and damage control drills. Commander T'Vril will coordinate. We're six days from the Roosevelt
's last known location. By the time we arrive, I want this crew ready to deal with whatever we might encounter. Make it happen. Dismissed."
The senior officers quickly departed, leaving Teague alone - save one. Amara remained seated, his arms folded across his chest, lips pressed together. Finally he said, "I don't like this. Feels like some stunt you'd pull back on the front lines."
"Don't hold back, Rik," Teague said, standing up and returning to the viewport. "Why don't you tell me how you really feel?"
"It's not funny, Lorrie," Amara said, annoyed with his old friend's gentle teasing. "The war's over, remember? We won. What's the point in sacrificing our lives - "
" - potentially sacrificing the lives of this crew, to say nothing of Starfleet's most advanced starship?" Amara shook his head. "We're part of the largest fleet ever assembled. We have the means to get more ships out here, to make a proper search for whoever - or whatever - is behind this."
"Which would take days to coordinate and weeks to actually arrive," Teague replied. "Starfleet is already assembling a task force, but pulling a dozen ships from their regular patrols will leave extensive gaps - and that just might be the true goal of whoever is responsible for these disappearances. We can't take that chance, not now."
"You're worried about public opinion shifting against colonizing the sector," Amara said.
"It's bigger than that. The Federation is putting its future on the line here. If Starfleet can't even protect a handful of merchant ships in a relatively small area, who's going to believe we can protect the whole Federation?" Teague leaned forward and rested his hands on the table, looking straight at Amara. "Faith in the Federation is tenuous enough. People on all sides are just looking for a reason to back out. I won't give them that, not after everything we've had to endure."
"Even if it means we have to die," Amara said grimly.
Teague looked away and stared out the viewport at the stars streaking past. "Let's make sure it doesn't come to that."
To Be Continued...