Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead
by Michael D. Garcia & A. J. Gertner
Episode Six: A Great Perhaps
With the trilithium resin field left behind by the destruction of the freighter Shoeless Joe scattered in one of the major commercial spacelanes between Starbase 310 and Starbase Deep Space Four, a search and rescue operation for our missing ensign, Thomas O'Day, has become increasingly difficult. While we have no conclusive proof that Ensign O'Day survived the destruction of his shuttle, we are proceeding under the assumption that he made it to his EVA suit and is awaiting rescue. To that end, I've summoned my officers to the ready room to discuss our options.
The ship remains stationary amid the two remaining freighters within the convoy while the starships Sutherland and Excalibur have arrived to provide assistance. Captain Andrew Estrada of Excalibur is the senior captain on the scene, but he has deferred to me for the time being.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Tallan stared out of the ready room's floor-to-ceiling viewport with his arms folded across his chest. His blue antennae twitched slightly as he replied to the open question. "A standard EVA escape suit carries approximately twenty-four hours of life support, sir, but if I know the ensign as well as I think I do, he would have rigged his suit for low power usage."
Captain Krystine Leone shared a look with Lieutenant Petra Bartlet, Farragut
's chief engineering officer. "How long would that extend his suit's power for?"
"Hard to say, because it's not an exact science," replied Petra. "Thirty-six to forty hours, on the outside depending on what exactly he modified the suit to do."
Tallan turned to look back at his commanding officer as she was seated behind the desk. "Captain, it depends entirely on the condition of the suit. If it's damaged, then he would have much less time. If he made it out in pristine condition, it could be as much as forty-eight hours."
Leone checked the chronometer on her desktop terminal. "By my guess, then, he either is beyond rescue, or he has roughly twenty-two hours left."
The ship's chief science officer, Lieutenant Abigail "Abbie" Atherton, chimed in, "There's also the added problem of scanning through the trilithium out there. If Ensign O'Day has drifted near enough to the field then his rescue beacon's signal could be obscured by the interference."
Commander Jesse Kincaid sat in the lone chair in front of the desk, but listened carefully before making a comment.. "I think that we should proceed with the assumption of the best possible outcome, Captain."
"I concur," Leone replied. She turned her chair back toward Petra and Kincaid, then crossed her legs and leaned forward with her fingers interlaced. "Let's get a plan together."
Abbie started with her idea. "We should get back out with a concentrated search in the last known position of Komarov
. I'd like to lead the away mission, with Lieutenant Aspinall as my pilot."
Kincaid placed a flat hand atop the surface of the captain's desk. "I'd agree to that, but how would you cut through the interference of the field?"
Petra said, "We could outfit the shuttles with an augmented sensor package to help cut through the interference. I would say that it will also extend the range enough to help us locate the ensign."
Abbie nodded. "I think Lieutenant Bartlet's suggestion will work. If she can provide the hardware, I can handle the software en route."
"I can also lend a hand in configuring the sensors, if needed," offered Tallan.
"It seems we have a consensus, then," Leone rose from her seat, leading Kincaid to do the same. "The clock's ticking and the ensign is counting on us. Let's get to work."
The chorus of affirmatives preceded the exodus of officers back toward the bridge. Kincaid lingered after a quick, but pointed look from his captain. Once they were alone, he wondered, "Sir?"
Leone leaned forward in her seat and rested on her elbows. "What's the latest on the probable cause analysis on the explosion?" She added with an edge to her tone, "Since it may have cost me one of my crew?"
"The investigation is still ongoing, so I don't have any conclusions, yet." Off her displeased expression, he quickly continued, "However, there's a high probability that this was simply an accident. We're continuing to analyze the remains of the ship as we find them to determine if there's anything else that could be the culprit. I have, though, reassigned some key personnel to the search for Ensign O'Day. It's obviously the top priority, sir."
She nodded slowly. "Thank you. Contact Sutherland
; see if they can provide assistance with the incident investigation, if you need it. Use my name, if you have to. If I have to write a letter of condolence to his parents, I damn well want to be able to tell them why their son is no longer with us."
"We still have time to find him, sir. I have every confidence that Lieutenants Barlet and Atherton will be able to cut through the interference."
"As do I." Leone turned her chair away from Kincaid to gaze out the port. "And if we don't find him alive, then the least we can do is return him to his family."