Control Room, Listening Outpost T-3
Beloti Asteroid Belt, Talarian Border, Alpha Quadrant
Stardate: 55614.4 (August 13th, 2377)
Anthony Dyson failed miserable to stifle a yawn.
“Are we keeping you up, Tony?” Maggie Halloran asked from the opposite side of the control room, which was only six meters away.
“Sorry, hot date last night.”
Maggie chuckled. Following the Talarian Incursion just six months ago, Starfleet had reactivated the three covert listening outposts along the border. T-3 was secreted inside an asteroid in the Beloti System, which was just within Federation space and no more, and wasn’t much than just a vast bank of sensor and communication arrays, with a sophisticated computer to monitor and maintain the systems. The outpost had a crew of six, none of who were Tony’s type (and vice versa) so what counted as a “hot date” was him in his bunk with a copy of Vulcan Love Slave, Part IV: Logic/Lust
Work on the outpost was pretty repetitive and mundane, especially for him as the computer tech. With such a small crew as well, protocols went out the airlock pretty quick, so all the crew called each other by name and with next to no privacy then they got to know each other a little better than many would like. So far fortunately, there hadn’t been any fallouts and lingering squabbles, as they were only halfway through their eight month posting—in order to keep the base secret they couldn’t risk rotating the crews out any sooner.
He was fortunate not to be working with Taeda, the systems manager, as she’d keep ribbing him about his night time activities—even though she was no better. Maggie was the sensor operator, and as the oldest on the outpost they all respected her, even Timol—the Intel officer assigned as supervisor. She was good natured with a maternal streak, and liked to joke around as much as the rest of them but knew when to cut the ‘kids’ some slack. They had pulled third watch together, which meant that in a little under two hours they’d be relieved and he could catch up on some much needed sleep.
Maggie’s console started chirping. As the senior non-com quickly responded to it, he quickly looked over the computer systems and ran a level five diagnostic, just to make sure that whatever had registered was actually there and not some kind of glitch. He had just finished when Maggie looked up.
“Long-range sensors have just detected a massive energy wave.”
“The Talarians?” he asked, feeling his stomach tighten.
“I don’t think so. Get the others up here, I’ll start an analysis.”
“Right,” he said with a nod then tapped the intercom. “Stations people, we’ve got something hinky on sensors.”
He then started to run all the telemetry that the sensors were recording into the secure data recorder, as he was supposed to—just in case anything happened to the outpost the recorder could be salvaged and their fate would be known.
T-3 has little habitable space, essentially only two levels that the crew actually used routinely. The bottom level housed their power generator, environmental systems and cargo bays, as well as access corridors and crawlspaces to the computer cores and sensor/communications arrays. The upper level was for the control room, crew bunks, mess hall, transport bay and infirmary. So it didn’t take long for the rest of the crew to begin filtering in.
Timol Ehvan was first; his hair a mess and red duty shirt only zipped up halfway. “What is it, Maggie?” he asked, moving over to her console, just as Taeda Zinn strutted in and took her place at the engineering station.
“An energy wave of unknown origin. Sensors show it to be some kind of polarised magnetic variation; I can’t much more from it than that.”
“See if it matches anything in the databanks,” Timol instructed.
Data analyst Apa-Vou and communications specialist Johplehn V’Durgo entered the control room and took their stations, neither saying a word and were working the moment they were seated. The control room had just the six consoles, including the situation table in the middle where Timol now stood looking at the telemetry for himself, so when they were all called into the cramped room there wasn’t much space to move.
“Timol, I’ve got something,” Maggie announced. “The wave matches one logged by the U.S.S. Voyager
not long after it entered the Badlands in 2371, but this one is putting out about fifty times more energy.”
The control room fell silent. The crew looked among themselves before all eyes fell on Timol expectantly. He looked from Maggie down to the table display then back again.
“Are we in any danger?”
“Negative, it’s directed out into unclaimed space.”
There was another beat of silence before the Trill lieutenant squared his shoulders. “Maggie, start gathering all the data you can. Taeda, Tony, tweak the sensors, I want them as accurate as you can make them.” He turned towards the two-headed Malgorian seated nearest the entrance. “Apa-Vou, go through the records from Voyager
and get me all you can on the energy wave, where it came from and start devising a way disperse it if we need to. Johplehn, set up a priority one subspace link with Starfleet Intelligence, I’ll brief them of the situation, then alert the Third Cutter Squadron—we could be about to face a whole new kind of threat.”
As one, Tony and the four non-coms confirmed with, “Aye sir.”
Before he could head for his cabin to discuss the matter with his superiors, Maggie stopped him. “Timol, I’m picking up what could be a number of ships within the wave—big ships. At least two dozen.”
“Stay on it. I’ll be back in five.”
All thoughts of sleep had evaporated from Tony’s mind. What had happened to Voyager
was well known across the fleet, and now it looked like it was happening again, only this time in reverse.
Major’s Quarters, Frigate Deskott
Routine Patrol, Argaya Sector
Tohr Inahk sat in silence. They were back on routine patrol of a region that bordered unclaimed space, however since there was nothing of strategic or mineral value in the region the Republic had little interest in expanding into it—they would waste more resources than they gained. For Inahk, it proved just how low the Militia thought of him. He had failed to achieve victory and cost them greatly in ships and men, as well as exposing to Starfleet just how strong they had become. Now they had increased the number of ships and their patrols, so the Republic couldn’t use the element of surprise to gain a foothold into the valuable worlds on the other side of the border.
His mood darkened further.
He pounced from his seat and headed to the counter, where he grabbed a bottle of chaarl
, deciding that if he was going to be angry and bitter, he might as well be drunk. Not bothering with a glass, he left the stopper on the counter and slowly prowled to the small viewport, swallowing heavily from the bottle every few steps. The chaarl
was fiery on his tongue and down his throat, warming his stomach; he had long since become accustomed to the bitter taste.
Today was his eldest son’s birthday. It should have been a day of festivities and celebration—even with the light-years that separated them—as Bken had reached the Age of Decision and was now a man. It should have been a great day for both father and son, but following his failure mere months ago Inahk’s own father had taken Bken under his guardianship, so as to spare the boy the shame of his father’s failure.
He knew that it was for Bken’s benefit, but that didn’t stop it from hurting—for Talarians there wasn’t anything that could surpass the bond between father and son. Since he couldn’t make contact with his son, Inahk hadn’t been able to comm him, leave a message, or even have an appropriate gift delivered. Having his left eye gouged out would be less painless.
“Bridge to Inahk,”
came the confident tone of the duty officer.
No one onboard knew what today was to their leader, as he hadn’t told anyone of the family he had once had, so interruptions were to be expected.
“What?” he growled into the intercom.
“Sir, long range sensors picked up a burst of unknown energy fluctuations. They have since dissipated.”
“Then why are you bothering me with this?” he demanded, having no patience for the interruption. He planned on finishing the bottle and spending several hours locked inside his quarters, stewing.
“There is an armada of thirty ships at the exact point where the energy wave ceased.”
That caught his attention. “What kind of ships?” he asked, putting the chaarl
down on a low table.
“Unknown sir. They don’t match any records we have, but they are all behemoths—each could easily hold two thousand soldiers, if not more.”
“I’m on my way.”
Grabbing his jacket from the back of a chair, he exited his room and headed through the dimly lit corridors towards the nearest elevator. All thoughts of the chaarl
had fallen from his mind, though he could still feel it warming his digestive system. Those unknown ships could be his way back into the Militia’s good graces, especially if there was advanced technology they could exploit—their energy wave propulsion system for one.
It didn’t take him long to reach the Bridge, by which time his jacket was on and he had swept back his shoulder-length black hair. As he entered the command deck the men on duty visible stiffened at their stations, he may have failed during their incursion into Federation space but he was still a Major in the Militia, a rank that demanded respect for all subordinates. He bypassed the duty officer and went right over to the scanner operator, a sub-officer whose name he’d never bothered to learn.
“What’s out there?”
“Thirty ships of five different configurations, we’re too far to identify energy emissions or run a metallurgical analysis. They aren’t broadcasting any subspace signals however, sir.”
“Position?” Inahk demanded.
The sub-officer checked the readouts. “The Argaya Sector, empty space—no systems or spatial phenomena anywhere near them. Vector kahp-three-nine-two sholl-six-nine-four; distance six light-years, sir.”
“Any sign of Starfleet?”
Another glance at the display. “None sir.”
“Helm,” Inahk barked, making the scanner operator jump. “Kahp-three-nine-two sholl-six-nine-four. Maximum
“Aye sir,” was the prompt response.
At warp eight it would take them around fifty-five hours to reach the armada, Inahk had to just hope that by the time Starfleet got itself organised and dispatched a ship to investigate, that it would be too late for them to intercept before the Deskott
got there. Those ships could tip the balance of power in the region, and he had to be the one to claim that glory for the Republic—he’d be promoted to Colonel, maybe even Fleet Colonel once again, would have power and authority in the Militia once again, then he could celebrate with his son.