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Old August 31 2010, 10:01 AM   #1
Bry_Sinclair
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Location: Along the border of Talarian space
"Lost And Found"

Hello again all,

Before I got finished on "Convergence" I'd already started this one. Like I said, this is a 'where are they now' story focusing on Susanna Leijten (from the TNG episode "Identity Crisis") now commanding the Border Cutter U.S.S. Silverfin.

So it's a huge thank you to TheLoneRedshirt for letting me use an Albacore-Class cutter, and to join the Border Service for this story at least.

So on with the show!

-Bry
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Old August 31 2010, 10:02 AM   #2
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: "Lost And Found"

U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470
Beloti Sector, Talarian Border
2378

Their routine patrol route and so far been quiet, allowing Captain Susanna Leijten time to catch up on paperwork. She had already gone through the fuel consumption reports, crew leave requests, system status reports and signed off on the months training schedule—noting that twelve of the crew had to put in five hours or more of shuttle time or risk losing their qualification and need to re-certify. That just left her with the crew evaluations. She had saved it for last, as it was actually one of the administrative duties she enjoyed. Although she caught up on all the gossip that went around the Silverfin, and she was told of any instances of good work or problems with the crew from her senior officers, it wasn’t until she got the evaluations that she saw just how her crew were really doing. Sometimes all was going well, but other times there were various problems (personal matters, disagreements in the department, galactic news) that saw some falling behind.

Ever since Leijten had taken command of the Border Service cutter Silverfin three years ago, she had made it her responsibility to ensure that every single one of the hundred and twenty-four officers and crew onboard were alright. She knew all of their names, and at least one fact about their personal lives, if not more in some instances. Though at the Academy, her instructors had drummed into her that a command-level officer needed to keep their distance from their crew, she had always seen that as being counter-productive. Since becoming a Commander in 2370, she had led by example. Getting her hands dirty and mucking in to do what needed to be done, sharing stories and news from home, and whenever the Silverfin had put in to dock, everyone’s first round of drinks had always been on her. None of that had changed since the fourth pip went on her collar. The ship continued to run smoothly, the universe hadn’t imploded, and the crew would come to her if they were having problems they needed help with.

So much for Emerson’s lectures, she quipped to herself, thinking of the old Starship Captain who had lectured them all on Command Ethics and Protocol.

As she worked, the sound of Andorian Blues filled her ready room. Currently it was the solo work of Thilishanris zh’Sohsha, playing a zihm’ra, which sounded like a blend of a saxophone and someone strangling a cat, but it was a sound that Leijten had always found soothing. On her desk sat a pitcher of iced tea, flavoured with mango and passion fruit.

It had taken her a while to feel comfortable in the ready room after she took command. Her predecessor had kept the space very bare; only the desk, three chairs and the carpet. She had moved what furniture there was around, so that her desk faced the small viewport, under which she had brought in a small couch, and had put up shelves. She stopped short of replacing the carpet and paining the walls, but she had seriously thought about it for a while. The ready room was now decorated with her awards, pictures and holo-imagers of friends and family, a ceremonial dagger she had been given as a gift on Thrakkus XII, a small clay pot her niece had made for her, several fictional books—mostly thrillers or crime novels (there was nothing better than a good mystery)—and numerous other trinkets and knickknacks she’d picked up during her time in Starfleet. The space was very definitely her own.

Maybe I could put in new carpeting though, she mused and then shook the idea from her head with a chuckle.

She had just finished with the reports on the bridge officers, when the intercom chirped. “Bridge to Captain Leijten,” came the resounding deep baritone of her XO, which seemed to fill every nook of the ready room.

“Go ahead Amorin,” she replied, taking a sip of her iced tea, relishing the delicately blended beverage.

“We have just picked up a Federation ship on sensors.”

That made her pause. There weren’t any suppose to be any other Federation ships in their immediate vicinity. “Any idea who they are?”

“Not as yet. They are not responding to hails.”

Though to most, Amorin’s tone seemed constant, she knew her First Officer better than that, and she could detect underlying hints of caution, alarm and intrigue. “On my way. Leijten out.”

She rose, went around her desk and through the doors onto the bridge. The first thing she noticed was that Amorin wasn’t in his usual place, standing in front of the Command Chair. Even though as the Silverfin’s First Officer, he was fully entitled to fill her chair when she wasn’t on the bridge, he never did, always standing ramrod straight, with his hands clasped firmly behind his back.

The second thing she noticed was her new Tactical Officer calling out, “Captain on the bridge.”

She shot the newly assigned Ensign a knock that off look. Jose Tyler the Fifth was Starfleet from his regulation cut sideburns down to his immaculately polished boots, as was his father and his father, and so on all the way back to the mid twenty-third century, when the ancestor he was named for served onboard the U.S.S. Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike. He had only been onboard for a month, fresh from the Academy and a few months spent at Advanced Tactical Training; he’d replaced Lieutenant Commander Ling-Na, who had been promoted to the Oslo as First Officer. Ever since his first day, he had insisted on the old naval tradition that was still found on the odd ship in the regular Fleet, but which was pretty much unheard of in the Border Service. If he wasn’t such a good tactician she’d have had him shipped off the Silverfin. But the kid would learn in time that the Border Service was different to the rest of Starfleet. It usually took Fleet officers a while to adjust to the differences, and Tyler wouldn’t be any different.

Leaving the Ensign be for the moment, she moved over to the opposite side of the bridge, where Amorin stood, bent at the waist looking over the various sensor displays and readouts. Whenever she approached the large console, she was always reminded of the day when Captain Hilgrat Ja-Inrosh and Lieutenant Alec Murphy had been crushed to death during a Cardassian ambush—even though it was more than three years ago. She had spoken with Dr. Mbeki about it, but the ship’s CMO hadn’t seen anything wrong with her morose nostalgia.

You respected Captain Ja-Inrosh and were good friends with Alec. I’d be more worried if you didn’t think about them every now and then. Soon, there will come a time when you won’t think about them when you go near Ops. I doubt you’ll even realise it when you do. But until that day comes, just acknowledge the memory and the feelings associated with it, then keep on going, had been his advice.

She did just as he suggested, and locked the memory away again.

Lieutenant Commander Kolanis Daezan looked up as she approached, his onyx-black eyes looking right into her very soul. She knew the Betazoid felt her trepidation, sorrow and dread whenever she neared his console, and when he’d first come onboard, she’d told him it was nothing to do with him, but both of their predecessors being killed on the bridge. He had understood, and hadn’t asked any further.

“Skipper,” he said by way of greeting, which made her smile as always. His own little way of helping me to forget, she’d realised months earlier.

“What have we got gentlemen?” she asked, coming to a stop by the console and looking at the vast array of monitors and screens.

Daezan brought up the sensor sweep he’d been running, which clearing indicated a duranium hull signature. The Federation were the only ones that used duranium to build their ships.

Amorin looked up from the panel he’d been working. The tall Benzenite always startled those who hadn’t met one of his people before. Though their names sounded similar to the Benzite, aside from some having blue colouring, that was where the similarities ended. By human standards, the Benzenite weren’t an attractive race, they had bulbous cranial formations on the sides and back of their heads which served as sensory organs (similar to a dolphin’s melon), they also has small eyes which were sensitive to most light spectrums and as such, they had to wear special goggles to protect them, they also needed to wear a special breather mask over their nose and mouth to help them breathe in the rich oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere that was standard on Federation ships, from the mask came four fleshy breathing tubes, two going from his chin to where a human’s ears roughly were, and then two more going from his chin down to his sternum—as such his uniform was designed differently to accommodate his physiology. Benez’ahn, where Amorin was born, was a world located on the outer edges of his systems habitable zone, it was cold and dark with low gravity, and had a very thin atmosphere comprised mostly of carbon dioxide, with small amounts of oxygen, argon and fluorine.

“Going by the size, I would say that it is a Starfleet ship,” Amorin stated, the engineer in him going over the technical data quickly and effortlessly.

“And nothing when you commed them?”

“Not a thing Skipper, I tried them as soon as I identified them as UFP.”

“Perhaps a colony ship off course?” she suggested, trying to think of why a ship would be out here.

“No new colony sites anywhere in this sector. The FCO doesn’t seem so keen about this area since the Talarian Border Wars,” Daezan stated, referring to the Federation Colony Organisation. It was understandable; thousands had been killed when the Talarians had attacked the outposts and planets along their territory. The Talarians didn’t have the most powerful ships in the quadrant, but what they lacked in firepower, they made up with in numbers. For every Starfleet ship along the border, the Talarians had at least ten.

“Deep space explorer returning from a long-term mission?”

“None expected in this region,” Amorin told her.

“Special-Ops?”

Daezan shrugged his broad shoulders. “Possible, they are a law unto themselves.”

“Hmm,” she sighed, looking at the anomalous blip on their sensors. “Open a channel to them Mr Daezan.”

“Aye-aye Skipper,” he replied and tapped the sequence into his communications panel. “Channel open.”

“Federation ship, this is Captain Leijten of the Border Cutter Silverfin. Do you require any assistance?” She waited, but only silence filled the speaker. “I repeat; this is the U.S.S. Silverfin of the Border Service. Do you need help?”

“They’re not answering sir,” Daezan said. “If you ask me that’s just plain rude.”

Almost any other time, the Ops Officer’s quip would have brought a smile to her lips. But something wasn’t right. A lost colony ship would be begging for help, a deep space explorer would be eager to talk, and catch up on news and events they had missed out on, even Special-Ops would reply with a coded signal, telling them politely to get lost.

“Kolanis, are you sensing anything from them?” she enquired, not for the first time, glad to have a Betazoid on the bridge.

He shook his head. “We’re too far away Skipper.”

“Inform Star Station Freedom that we have located a Federation ship in unusual circumstances and are moving to investigate,” she told Daezan, and then headed for the command arena—Amorin on her heels—located in the centre of the bridge, surrounded by railings, directly in front of which was the Conn. She looked at Lieutenant Harriet Llewellyn-Smyth, with her dark brown hair tied up in an elaborate style (as it always was), flawlessly smooth alabaster skin, and slim physique. It wasn’t any wonder the crew had nicknamed her English Rose, shorted down to just Rose.

“Harriet, have you got that ship on your board?”

“Confirmed Captain,” she replied in her Cambridgeshire accent, with perfect elocution (which once upon a time would have been called simply ‘posh’).

“Alter our course and increase to warp seven.”

“Adjusting heading to one-one-nine-mark-two-six-four, increasing to warp factor seven,” she replied, entering the change into the flight log.

Leijten settled into the Command Chair, as Amorin took up his customary place standing to her right, arms behind his back, and watching everything that went on around him. As she watched the starfield shift with their change in course, she couldn’t help but speculate as to what they would find.

***
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Old August 31 2010, 02:17 PM   #3
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: "Lost And Found"

You had me at "Border Service!"

A nice start to an intriguing mystery. (By her taste in books, this would seem to be right up the Captain's alley.) A Federation ship where none should be, refusing or unable to answer hails. (How rude! I had to laugh at that.)

Great introduction to your characters. More, please!
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Old August 31 2010, 04:15 PM   #4
admiralelm11
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Re: "Lost And Found"

I'm liking what I see so far. Keep at it. I'm waiting to see where you go since I'm a fan of the Border Service stories.
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Old August 31 2010, 05:07 PM   #5
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: "Lost And Found"

It took the Silverfin an hour and a half to reach the unidentified Federation ship, which hadn’t moved or contacted them in all that time. Things are just getting weirder and weirder, Leijten thought from her chair—and she had once been transformed into an entirely different species on Tarchanan III.

When they were still several million kilometres away, Llewellyn-Smyth looked over her shoulder. “We are approaching the ship’s coordinates Captain.”

“Slow us down to one-half impulse Lieutenant.”

“Yellow alert,” bellowed Amorin, who had remained by her side during their travel to the unknown ship. They had batted about ideas about what they might discover, as well as the best approach to take when they arrived. Both had agreed to err on the side of caution, until they knew any better.

The alert panels flashed yellow and the low klaxon sounded briefly.

The Silverfin stayed on course. Llewellyn-Smyth manipulating the ships controls like the professional she was. The Lieutenant had been aboard since she graduated from the Academy seven years earlier, starting off as the Gamma Shift Conn Officer, before being promoted to the Beta Shift, and then three years ago, just before Captain Ja-Inrosh’s death, she’d been promoted to the senior staff. She knew exactly how to handle the Albacore-Class ship, to make the most out of her warp drive, and could pilot the ship with its high power-to-mass ratio at impulse speeds, better than any combat pilot Leijten had met. There was no one she wanted more at the helm than English Rose.

“All decks report yellow alert status,” stated Tyler, from his tone Leijten suspected that he was impressed with the speed and efficiency the crew got organised. But that was one of the things the Border Service was best at, organising for an emergency and ensuring that everyone was where they were meant to be, and knew exactly what needed to be done.

“Daezan?”

“Definitely Starfleet,” he replied, peering through the old-style sensor hood that was still common place on Albacore-Class ships, regardless of how many upgrades and modifications they had. “Showing her to be Excelsior-Class, checking her transponder signal now.”

Amorin looked up at Tactical. “Try short-range ship-to-ship communications Ensign. And if they still don’t reply try laser signals.”

“Aye sir,” Tyler replied promptly and set to work with establishing communications.

From Leijten’s left she heard Daezan mutter, “Can’t be.”

That was enough to peak her curiosity. She was on her feet and moving in the Betazoid’s direction in a matter of seconds. “What is it Kolanis?” she asked, stepping in closer to the younger man.

“I’ve identified her transponder code, but it just can’t be possible,” he explained.

“How so? Who is she?”

He turned around to face her, his deep dark eyes locking onto hers, his face serious. “It’s the U.S.S. Cairo!”

“What?” she exclaimed, launching herself at the monitor he’d been looking at and studied it for herself. He was right, according to the Silverfin’s database, that ship was the Cairo—a starship that vanished only a few weeks before the Romulans entered the Dominion War, over four years ago! “Lifesigns?”

He turned back to the scope and checked the readings, but shook his head. “None sir. The ship is deserted.” He ran several other scans and confirmed his own readings, as he did, Leijten noticed a deep thoughtful look on his face, and knew he was telepathically scanning the ship as the same time the cutters sensors swept over the larger vessel. “I’m not picking up anyone over there.”

“Run every scan you can think of Commander,” she instructed, and then moved over to Tactical. “Ensign Tyler, anything on the comm?”

“Negative sir,” the young baby faced officer replied. Are Ensigns getting younger, or am I getting older? she suddenly realised. She ignored the stray thought as she came to stand by his console.

“Tactical analysis of that ship.”

“Aye sir,” he replied and quickly set about his task. It took him a few moments to run his scans and compile data, during which time she ordered Llewellyn-Smyth to hold position just outside transporter range, and to track back the Cairo’s course. As the Conn Officer complied, Tyler looked up at her. “I’m not showing any signs of damage anywhere on the ship, at least not by any conventional weaponry. They could have suffered a biological or chemical weapon attack, that wouldn’t damage the hull it was snuck aboard.”

“Any ships in range?”

“Negative sir.”

“Keep on sensors Mr Tyler, we don’t want anyone sneaking up on us right now,” she instructed him and moved back down to the command area. Amorin had moved down to the Conn to look over Llewellyn-Smyth’s sensor displays, but when she moved back towards her chair, he stepped up to join her.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, trying to keep his voice low, which was difficult with his deep tone.

“I’m not sure,” she admitted. “How does a ship the size of an Excelsior-Class get from the Neutral Zone across the breadth of the Federation without being spotted? Why wouldn’t the crew report in? And where are they now?”

“We can’t rule out a covert mission for Starfleet Intelligence,” he stated.

Leijten thought about it for a moment and shook her head. “Maybe if we were still at war, but that’s been over for three years now. Why would she remain on silent running?” She looked back at the viewscreen. Something was very wrong.

“Skipper,” Daezan called, drawing her attention away from the mystery ship. “I’m reading minimal power emissions coming from the Cairo, I’d say her warp core was shut down. Emergency batteries are almost drained by the looks of things, minimal lighting, life-support and gravity.”

“It would take at least seventy-two hours for their emergency power to drain completely,” mused Amorin. “Longer if they shut down systems and evacuated decks—as anyone would do to prolong their power supply.”

We need to get onboard, she decided. There was only so much the ships sensors could tell them. An up close investigation would give them more answers. “Daezan prep for SAR-Op,” she told the Betazoid, who nodded. As he contact his relief cover, she looked back at the Cairo and called into the intercom, “Leijten to Syva.”

“Go ahead Captain,” came the Vulcan Chief of the Boat’s prompt response. Leijten noticed that Amorin was ordering Llewellyn-Smyth to move the Silverfin into optimum transporter range.

“Get a team together and report to transporter room one. Break out the EVA suits and phaser carbines.”

“Understood. We will be ready in three-point-five minutes.”

She came off the comm as PO Jackson stepped onto the bridge to take over at Ops. Daezan quickly briefed the non-com and headed for the lift. Leijten looked at Amorin, with a look that told him, this mission is mine. The towering Benzenite nodded once and she headed for the turbolift, tapping her combadge and asking Dr. Mbeki to join them. At the alcove she turned to her XO.

“Continue scans for other ships, anomalies or anything else what might explain what happened to them. We’ll conduct a brief survey and get back ASAP.”

“Aye Captain,” Amorin stated.

She was about to step into the lift, when from the opposite side of the bridge, a voice called out, “Sir!” She stopped and looked over at Ensign Tyler, just as the rest of the bridge crew did. She was impressed that the young man didn’t flinch under the eight pairs of eyes scrutinising him.

“Yes Ensign?”

“Starfleet regulation twenty, section A, paragraph two, prohibits the Commanding Officer from beaming into an unknown and potentially hazardous situation.”

“And?” she asked simply.

That brought him up short. “Well, you shouldn’t be transporting over to the Cairo sir. We have no idea what happened onboard.”

“That’s why I’m going Ensign. To find some answers,” she looked back at Amorin. “The ship is yours Commander.”

“I’ll keep the home fires burning sir,” he replied as she stepped into the turbolift and ordered it to descend.

As they were on their way, she heard Daezan chuckle behind her, and she looked over at the Ops Officer, a smile spreading on her own face. “The kids got guts,” Daezan said. “When I was a raw ensign, I’d never have spoken up like that!”

“Me neither,” she told him. “If we could only get him to relax a little, he’d fit right in.”

***
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Old August 31 2010, 06:54 PM   #6
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: "Lost And Found"

Tyler is going to have to learn that the Border Service is faaar different from the regular Fleet. He's lucky the Skipper was in a hurry or she might have torn him a new orifice.

Adding to the mystery is the appearance of the long-missing Cairo. I'm getting all kinds of spooky vibes here. Several possibilities come to mind, none of them good for Cairo's crew.

I'm sure there's a rational explanation for the disappearance of the crew. But personally, I'm hoping for something irrational.
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Old August 31 2010, 08:45 PM   #7
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Re: "Lost And Found"

As another fan of the Border Service, I'm loving the setting, the characters, and the mystery that's unfolding. You've brought this cast of characters to life in remarkably few installments, and now I'm finding myself already concerned for their well being as they investigate whatever fate befell Cairo.

Great stuff!
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Old August 31 2010, 08:57 PM   #8
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Re: "Lost And Found"

It ate my post! I had a lot to say about what a wonderful story this is-but now I'm too pooped to pop. Sorry.
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Old September 1 2010, 12:49 PM   #9
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: "Lost And Found"

Leijten and Daezan stepped into the transporter room to find Senior Chief Syva, Chief Shizumi and Crewman Drim already in their EVA suits—minus the helmet—each one carrying a phaser carbine, a stockier version of the rifle which was better suited to close quarters. Drim was helping Dr Mbeki with the chest plate, the tall Nigerian CMO looking incredibly uncomfortable in the spacesuit. Leijten had ordered them into the suits for two reasons. Firstly the atmosphere was thin on the Cairo, a result of her minimal power output, and secondly, they couldn’t rule out a biological or chemical weapon being used onboard.

Syva helped Leijten with her suit, whilst Shizumi helped Daezan. Less than five minutes after arriving in the transporter room the six-man team were suited and ready. Leijten connected her helmet in place and then took the carbine Syva offered. Taking the weapon she ran a quick check on it, and when she was satisfied that it was fully charged and operational, she stepped up onto the platform. The others, helmets in place, followed. Neither Daezan nor Mbeki carried a carbine, both favouring their type-two hand phasers. The team assembled on the dais, each one facing outward, weapon raised.

“Magnetise,” Leijten ordered, tapping the control panel control panel on her left thigh and felt the pull of the gravity boots on the surface of the transporter pad, and heard the light thrump as they activated, firstly from herself and then from the others. She then looked at the controls and nodded to Chief Wilkins. “Energise.”

As the transported beam enveloped her, she flexed her body and gripped her weapon tightly, positioning it in optimum firing position. The sequence would take seven seconds, and she would find herself in a totally unknown situation. No backing out of it now, she told herself as she began to take in details of the Cairo’s bridge.

Moments later, they materialised, the lights on their helmets cutting through the darkness as they swept their weapons around in an arch, looking out for anyone or anything that would attack, or in need of help. But aside from the consoles and seats, the bridge was eerily empty. It was a standard layout for the Excelsior-Class, central Command Chair, forward Conn and Ops, a large two-seater Tactical station at the entrance of the rear alcove, on the wall of which was the Master Systems Display flanked on either side by a entry hatch to deck one, around the circular bulkheads were half-a-dozen other consoles, and at the three and nine o’clock positions were two further doors, the port leading to the ready room and the starboard to the turbolift.

“Clear,” each of the security guards stated quickly.

Happy that the bridge was as empty as it seemed, she took the carbine stock from her shoulder, but kept a firm grip on it. She then looked at Syva, who seemed to be looking everywhere at once despite the restricted view of the EVA suit. “Secure this deck Chief,” she said over the open commlink.

“Aye Captain,” the Vulcan replied. Leijten always found her all-business demeanour to be very reassuring, not to mention her thirty years in the Border Service and fifty years as a security operative on Vulcan. “Shizumi, check the ready room. Drim, with me,” Syva ordered her team, sending her second-in-command into the bridge level office, whilst taking the inexperienced Bolian guard to check the aft rooms and corridors.

With their security being seen to, she looked back at Daezan and Mbeki; both men had holstered their phasers and instead drawn their tricorders. Daezan was approaching the Operations console, whilst Mbeki stood at their beam-in site and scanned.

“Anything Doc?”

He had his back to her but didn’t say anything for a moment, and then, “Damn suit!” He turned to face her and shook his head—no doubt he’d done the same a moment before, but the helmet made such gestures meaningless. “No lifesigns on this deck or the other five below us. I’ll increasing my scanning radius in a moment, but decks one to six house a lot of quarters and recreational spaces. No signs of any viral, chemical or biological contamination—naturally occurring or otherwise.”

“Aren’t there some chemical compounds that leave no trace and can disintegrate a humanoid body in a matter of hours?”

“Sure. The Cardassians have something like that for the special operatives, for them to take in case of capture. But even that leaves behind residual traces.”

“‘Residual traces’, such as?”

“Dust Captain,” he said, looking up at her from his tricorder. “The body is broken down into nothing but little piles of dust.”

She looked around at the chairs and deck, but it was all very clean—just as a starship bridge should be. “Anything else?”

“Not at present. I’ll let you know if I find anything. Though accessing their medical database would prove to be useful.”

“Whatever you need to do Doctor,” she told him and moved down to Ops. “Mr Daezan, anything of use or interest?”

Daezan was seated at the console, not an easy thing to do in the suits, and was using his tricorder to tap into the ships systems and run a series of checks and scans. “Power levels are so low I’m having to route a hard-line connection into my tricorder to check her status,” he told her, and it was then she noticed the optronic wires going from the console to his handheld device. “It’ll take a little longer than usual to get a full report Skipper. Exactly why the core is offline is a mystery. I’ll have to download their logs and check them when we get back to the Silverfin. So far nothing to indicate what happened aboard.”

“Keep at it Kolanis.”

“Syva to Leijten.”

“Go ahead Chief.”

“Can you join me in the break room? I have found something…puzzling.”

“On my way.” Leijten stepped up onto the upper level, just as Shizumi stepped out of the ready room.

“The office is neat and tidy sir. Nothing out of place as far as I can see,” the guard stated.

“Stay with Daezan and Mbeki,” she ordered and headed for the aft alcove. She stepped through the port hatch and moved aft. As with all Excelsior-Class ships, the Cairo had several rooms on deck one, aside from just the bridge, ready room and observation lounge at the very back. Behind the bridge there was an additional turbolift, a head, a computer interface suite, a secondary administrations office and the break room—a small mess hall for the bridge staff.

Her first posting had been to the Excelsior-Class U.S.S. Roosevelt and she had memorised the design of the ship, seeing as how it was to the regular fleet what the Albacore-Class was to the Border Service. Despite her age, the Excelsior’s were perhaps the most successful design in Starfleet’s history, and would continue to serve for many years—if not decades—to come.

Leijten stepped into the break room and found Syva standing beside one of the tables, aiming her combat scanner at the table top. All of the security personnel had combat scanners on their EVA suits, which worked as well as a normal tricorder, but left both their hands free for handling their weaponry. She also noticed that Drim wasn’t about, most likely checking one of the other small rooms.

“What is it Senior Chief?”

Syva gestured to the food in front of her, half eaten meats and drinks, ranging from coffee and croissant to sirloin steak. Leijten’s stomach growled. “According to my scans, the thermal degradation would indicate that this food was replicated within the last thirty to forty minutes.”

Unable to quite believe what the Vulcan was saying, Leijten pulled out her own tricorder and ran a quick scan. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe that Syva was telling the truth, but it just seemed so preposterous, that it couldn’t be true. As she ran the scans, she noted that utensils were either set neatly on the plates or beside them, no signs that the crew had left in a hurry, or of turbulence that would have knocked items to the floor. It was as if they had just gotten up and walked away.

Her tricorder beeped at her, and displayed the results of the scan. Syva was indeed correct, though most had gone cold, none of it was older than forty minutes. “How on earth is this possible?”

“I have no reasonable explanation Captain. The facts as we know them are not providing any firm conclusions.”

“Nothing about this ship is making any sense!”

Just then, Drim entered the break room. The stocky Bolian stiffened when he saw Leijten, as all rookie crewmen always did when an officer was present—especially their Captain. “Ma’am, all of the other rooms are empty. No signs of the crew, or indications of a struggle. All my scans come up clear.”

“Let’s get back to the bridge.”

She led the way back to the bridge, as they entered, Shizumi turned and readied his weapon, but dropped his aim the moment he saw them. Leijten was relieved to see her team still in one piece. Daezan was still at Ops, whilst Mbeki had moved to the Environmental console, and had likewise hard-lined his tricorder into the system and was downloading files from the ship’s computer. Seeing what Mbeki was capable of never ceased to amaze her—for example, she’d never had guessed he knew how to hard-line a tricorder into a console and access the database independently of the central processor.

But then the good doctor was always full of surprises. He’d once told her that after being assigned to the Border Service, he’d taken on several distance learning courses the Academy offered, to try and make himself as useful as possible what with being surrounded by dozens of cross-trained and multi-talented Border Dogs.

Daezan shut his tricorder and looked back up at her. “I’ve downloaded what was in their active memory Skipper. I’ll need to analyse it back onboard the Silverfin before I can give you any definitive answers.”

“Same here Susanna,” Mbeki added. He was the only one onboard who ever used her first name, seeing as how when she went to him for advice, constantly being addressed as ‘Captain’ or ‘sir’ had almost driven her nuts. Though he usually didn’t use it outside of private conversations, it did slip in to use once in a while when they were on duty. Though she didn’t mind, the last thing she wanted was for the suspicious-minded gossipmongers onboard to put two and two together and come up with the square root of sixty-four. Tunde Mbeki was a good friend, a valued advisor and confidant, nothing more.

“Good, get disconnected and let’s get back to the boat.”

“Captain, shall we remain and begin a more thorough search?” enquired Syva, referring to her security team.

“Negative Chief. I’d like to see what their records tell us first before starting a full scale investigation. Seeing as how every scan we can run says there aren’t any signs of life onboard, I wouldn’t classify this as a SAR-Op. We have the opportunity to find out more, which isn’t a luxury we’re often afforded, and I intend to make use of it, before committing any more of my people to secure this ship.”

That placated the Security Chief, who gave a slight bow—an EVA version of a nod. “A sound and logical approach Captain.”

“Yeah, well that’s why I’m paid the big bucks,” she replied. Before Syva could raise the point about how no one was paid a wage in Starfleet, she opened a commlink up with the ship. “Away team to Silverfin. We’ve checked their bridge and downloaded their logs. Ready to beam out.”

“Acknowledged. Standby away team,” Amorin replied, his resounding baritone filling her suit.

She breathed a sigh of relief, as once again the transporter beam took hold, only this time she was heading back home, hopeful that she would soon have some answers.

***
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Old September 1 2010, 03:04 PM   #10
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: "Lost And Found"

Sadly, this encounter seems to be changing from search-and-rescue to a salvage operation. Still, there are many questions that remain to be answered.

You've got a great mystery story going - I'm thoroughly enjoying it!
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Old September 1 2010, 05:48 PM   #11
T'Girl
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Re: "Lost And Found"

Given how long the ship's been missing, but there is fresh food in the break room, I'm wondering if something "temporal" happen.
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Old September 1 2010, 08:10 PM   #12
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: "Lost And Found"

Since returning to the Silverfin, Leijten had given Daezan and Mbeki an hour to go through the logs and come up with some answers, before she called a meeting of the senior staff in the wardroom. Since her stomach was still grumbling, she had opted to go to in a little early for lunch. When the Silverfin was first commissioned into active duty, she hadn’t had replicators and carried a catering staff to keep the crew fed, and as far as Leijten was aware, only one Albacore still carried a chef.

A Starfleet brat, Leijten had only ever had replicated food growing up. It was only when she was a newly graduated ensign at the age of twenty-two, waiting for transfer to the Roosevelt, that she had first tasted food that was prepared and made by hand in a small deli on Spacedock 2. It had been a new and strange concept, but one she had immediately liked. Since that day, whenever they put into dock, after she bought everyone onboard a drink, she searched out a real-food restaurant and treated herself, just the once.

Sitting in the wardroom, she had a roast chicken sandwich, with a lettuce, and tomato, with just a touch of English mustard on rosemary bread, washed down with a tall iced glass of Bolian tonic water, with a hint of lime, and a banana on the side for when she was finished with the sandwich.

She was half way through when the doors opened and Lieutenant Elak ko’Parr th’Shaan stepped in, then abruptly stopped. The Andorian looked around the empty room, his antennae curled tight against his skull, and then at Leijten. “Have I missed the meeting?” he asked.

Smiling at her Chief Engineer, she shook her head. “Lunch,” she muffled around a mouthful of sandwich. She quickly swallowed and repeated, “Just grabbing a quick lunch. Take a seat Elak. I would have thought you’d be helping Kolanis out.”

“I was, from engineering. The Ops centre smells funny.”

She gave him a puzzled look. “Come again?”

“Andorians have a very sensitive olfactory system,” he told her. “Whenever I go into the Ops centre its like sweaty feet. You don’t know if they go barefoot in there when no one else is around?”

“I couldn’t say Lieutenant,” she told him, trying to keep a straight face. The Ops centre was where the crew monitored the main computer, communications antenna and sensor arrays, and provided backup to the Ops Officer on duty on the bridge. Seeing as how the Silverfin had only one small medlab and no other science facilities, any analysis needed to be done was performed in the Ops centre.

Th’Shaan took the second seat down on the right side of the table, and started going over the PADD he had brought with him. Leijten let him work as she finished off her sandwich. She had moved onto the banana when the doors opened again and Syva entered and took her place on the left hand side, two seats down from the head of the table. The doors parted again, and Amorin led Llewellyn-Smith and Tyler into the room. The First Officer took the first seat on the right, next to th’Shaan—as usual Leijten had to marvel at the similar shades of blue both men were—whilst Llewellyn-Smyth stopped off at the replicator with a cup of tea with lemon, then sat on the other side of the engineer, and Tyler sat next to her. Almost immediately, Amorin and th’Shaan began speaking about status in engineering. Amorin, being the ship’s previous Chief Engineer (before Leijten had promoted him to XO), still liked to help out down below when he could, and always kept apprised of what was happening on the technical side of things. That just left Daezan and Mbeki to arrive.

Thirty seconds before the meeting was scheduled to start, they walked in, talking between themselves and looking over PADDs. The dark skinned doctor immediately took his seat next to Syva, whilst Daezan went to the replicator for a raktajino first, before sitting opposite Amorin. Though there was no structured seating plan for the wardroom, every meeting they had, the senior staff always gravitated towards the same seats.

She looked at the two lieutenant commanders. “Gentlemen, this is your show.”

“Thank you Skipper,” Daezan said, taking the lead. “I was able to download everything that was in their active memory—we’ll have to restore main power to get full access to their records. What I did manage to recover is dated over four years ago, the most recent entry was logged in by the ship’s CMO—only twelve minutes before all contact was lost with the Cairo.”

“How is that possible?” Llewellyn-Smyth asked, her hands clasped together beside her teacup as she leaned forward slightly.

“A wormhole, or some other space-time anomaly?” Tyler suggested.

Leijten looked at the younger man, and couldn’t quite believe that for an ensign fresh from the Academy he was quite so vocal, then at Daezan, who was shaking his head. “No signs of subspace distortion in the ships hull. The internal chronometer also shows that since that when I downloaded what I could, only fifty minutes had passed since that log was recorded—which would be almost two hours by now.”

“Which would explain the freshly replicated food in the break room,” added Syva, her posture excellent. “Also, most wormholes are very unstable and cause a great deal of spatial turbulence. Any such instability onboard would have disrupted the crockery.”

“Exactly Senior Chief,” Daezan agreed. “That ship still believes that it is 2374, and that the Dominion War is very much still active. Mr th’Shaan and I can’t find anything in the active memory banks that indicates why the warp core is offline, or what happened to the crew.”

“It wasn’t foul play,” stated Mbeki just as the Ops officer finished speaking. “All of my scans of the air reveal no harmful agents at work. I also checked the scans that you,” he said nodding at Leijten, “and Syva took of the food, thinking that something might have contaminated the organic replicator matter, but it was clean as well. I checked what medical records I could, as well as their chief’s logs. Aside from a dozen crewmembers recovering from injuries sustained in a recent engagement with Dominion forces, the crew were in good health. No illnesses or diseases reported, and nothing that would indicate a viral contamination.”

Leijten sat and absorbed all the information her officers provided. She knew each man well and trusted their findings, both of them had saved her life and many others more times than she could count. She then looked at the two other bridge officers in the meeting. “Any activity in this region Mr Tyler?”

“Negative Captain. No ships have entered sensor range since we intercepted the Cairo.”

“Any luck tracking their course?” she asked the helmswoman.

“Sensors show no sign of a warp trail or an impulse wake. Given their current positioning, I was attempted to extrapolate their heading, but there are too many variables to say with certainty which one their arrived on.”

“Engine emission would likely have dissipated by now,” suggested th’Shaan.

“Possible. However, one of our reconnaissance probes did sweep these co-ordinates less than thirty hours ago, and they didn’t detect the Cairo. That is enough time for both to dissipate, but the probe didn’t detect any warp signatures as it continued on its heading—which is roughly perpendicular to the Cairo’s most likely vector.”

“So basically, we have all these pieces that just don’t fit together,” stated Leijten. The assembled officers looked among themselves and nodded in agreement. “Okay, we’ll need to restore power to the Cairo so we can gain full access to her computer. Also I want a deck-by-deck search of every corridor, room, compartment and Jefferies tube.”

“Captain,” Amorin spoke up, “that’s twenty-six decks to search and a lot of rooms.”

“I know XO. We’ll leave a skeleton crew onboard the Silverfin, and assign all available personnel to the investigation. Lieutenant Llewellyn-Smyth, you will be in command of the Silverfin. Ensign Tyler, you’ll also remain onboard and keep a very close eye on the sensors. Commander,” she looked at the Benzenite beside her, “get the four-man teams together and draw up the search grid. With atmosphere and gravity both low, I want all hands issued with magnetic boots and breathers. Also, everyone will be armed—we still don’t know what happened over their. This ship needs to be searched and secured visually. Questions?” No one spoke up. “Good, then let’s get moving people.”

***
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Old September 1 2010, 10:42 PM   #13
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: "Lost And Found"

Nice banter amongst the senior officers. I like the Captain's style and her back-story regarding "real" food. These small glimpses provide a lot of flesh for your characters.

The mystery of the Cairo remains unanswered, however. It appears that the crew of the Silverfin are about to meet the mystery head-on.
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Old September 1 2010, 11:48 PM   #14
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: "Lost And Found"

Not bad for just making it up as I go along!

Things are about to get a whole lot weirder in the next installment....(hows that for a cliffhanger?)

-Bry
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Old September 2 2010, 12:14 AM   #15
Finn
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Re: "Lost And Found"

I'm looking forward to it
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