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Old January 4 2012, 03:31 AM   #16
jerriecan
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

Star Trek: Pathfinder
The Siren's Call - Part Six

U.S.S. Pathfinder
May 6, 2163


By the time Pathfinder finally made her way to the gravitational boundary - that limit where warp engines could safely engage without hazard to the vessel they were attached to - Lt. Tegan Webb had been awake almost thirty hours. Never mind the thrill of piloting Starfleet’s newest, most advanced ship - her sleep had been wrecked by her layover at the Phobos yards. Without the constant rumble of a warp powerplant lulling her to sleep she found it nearly impossible to get a good night’s rest, even after two years groundside at Starfleet Academy. Yet another legacy of being a Boomer, she thought.

After docking the shuttle, Tegan had barely had time to find her assigned quarters and throw her duffel bag on the bunk before taking her station on the bridge. After so long on the ground, there was no way she would miss the chance to be at the controls for the Pathfinder’s maiden flight. But now, several hours later, the fatigue was catching up with her. With the ship safely cruising at Warp Six, Tegan at last made her way back to her quarters on C-Deck, wanting nothing more than to collapse into dreamless sleep.

As the door slid aside, Tegan had time to actually look at the room - and realized that instead of a single stateroom, there were two bunks.

Not that Tegan had anything against roommates - privacy was a precious commodity on any deep-space ship, and she had spent all her life surrounded by family and crewmates, often in uncomfortably cramped conditions. For her last year at the Academy s she had been paired with a Vulcan botanist, and over time she had become more of a slob just to see if she could get a reaction. But she had been looking forward to taking a moment for herself, at long last, on a ship she could consider her own. This was not what she had been hoping for.

Even worse was the complete order of her roommate’s possessions. Everything Tegan owned was currently in her duffel or on her person, but given a little time those meager items would spread out all over her quarters. She had never cared much for tidiness. But, if first impressions were anything to go by, her new roommate was just the opposite - the bunk neatly made, a handful of knickknacks spaced precisely on the shelves, a dozen books arranged from smallest to largest, a single padd in the center of the desk. Every surface was depressingly free of dust or grime.

Tegan leaned in to look at the knickknacks. The finger-sized sculptures were translucent, various hues of green or blue, depicting various humanoid figures in martial poses, holding representations of fierce bladed weapons, each figure sprouting a pair of tiny antennae from its head. She reached out a finger -

“Don’t!”

Tegan yanked back her hand like she had been burned. “Sorry,” she said, turning toward the door to face her new roommate. “I wasn’t planning to break them.”

In the doorway, a young Andorian woman stood with her antennae twitching. “Just - don’t touch those. Ma’am,” she said, seeing Tegan’s rank pins for the first time. Instantly her expression changed to wide-eyed surprise mixed with horror at raising her voice to a superior officer. “They’re very - they’re valuable,” she finished.

“I’ll bet. Representations of your ancestors, right? They’re lovely.”

“My grandfather carved them. He was a gifted craftsman with a blade, whether working in stone or flesh.” The Andorian took a quick look and, satisfied that nothing had been disturbed, extended a hand to Tegan. “Ensign Sarria’tathal Etana, ” she said formally. “Communications Officer.”

“Lieutenant Tegan Webb, Chief Helmsman,” she replied, accepting the gesture. “Look, I didn’t mean to intrude. I was just curious.”

“That’s... fine, ma’am. No harm done. Just ask me nest time,” Sarria said.

Tegan turned to her bunk and picked up the duffle, and the clink of a dozen currencies filled the cabin.

“What’s that?” Sarria said, looking over her shoulder.

“Nothing much,” Tegan said, smiling to herself. “You have your keepsakes... I have mine.”

To Be Continued...
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Old January 4 2012, 04:22 PM   #17
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

I just got caught up on this. Good descriptive prose and some nice characterisation.
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Old January 6 2012, 04:49 AM   #18
jerriecan
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

Thank you, Badger, for the kind words. Hopefully I'll have more ready soon.
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Old January 6 2012, 07:39 AM   #19
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

An interesting introduction to another member of Pathfinder’s compliment, and an Andorian no less. You’ve got quite the eclectic crew taking shape here, and all signs point to them earning their spurs through a trial by fire.
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Old January 16 2012, 02:58 AM   #20
jerriecan
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

Star Trek: Pathfinder
The Siren's Call - Part Seven

USS Pathfinder
en route to Sector Nineteen
May 7, 2163


Pathfinder ’s designers had tried a new approach to a space for crew briefings. Instead of a ‘situation room’ set just behind the bridge like in the NX-class, they had created a completely separate room at the rear of A-Deck, complete with a large table, chairs instead of stools, and even a pair of viewports that offered a spectacular view of the ship, all the way from the center of the saucer to the tips of the nacelles. Captain Teague stood there, sipping at a mug of coffee, looking out at his ship from this vantage point for the first time, but certainly not the last.

The ship had been outbound for almost a full day - enough time for Teague’s senior officers to size up their responsibilities and delegate any necessary tasks to their subordinates. Only one thing remained - the most important thing.

Telling the crew exactly what the mission was.

Over the next few minutes, the senior staff found their way to the chairs evenly spaced around the table, most bearing their own morning beverage of choice. Teague’s nose wrinkled at the sour aroma of Andorian r’reghla that Lt. Marakis carried, but he hid the expression before anyone caught the reflection. He kept his face turned toward the stars passing by, occasionally nodding in reply to someone telling him ‘good morning’. The last one to enter was a tall, dark-skinned human with close-cropped black hair. Teague saw his silent nod reflected in the transparent aluminum of the viewport, and only then did he turn around to look at his friend.

Lt. Cmdr. Tarik Amara took a seat at the far end of the table, his customary spot no matter what ship he and Teague served on together. Amara had been his chief engineer on the Icarus during the Battle of Hell’s Gate, had saved the ship half a dozen times during the Romulan War. For nearly five years Teague and Amara had served together, in war and now peace, each a natural balance for the other. Where Teague was a military man from a long line of such, Amara was an explorer, a scientist who happened to specialize in subspace dynamics and also had an affinity for understanding what a starship was capable of - and squeezing it for every last drop of that potential. Starfleet had tried to reassign Amara twice, and both times Teague had called in favors to keep his friend close. In a way he felt Amara to be his good luck charm, though he could never admit it openly.

Around the table were T’Vril, Kassin and Beaumont on his right; Sarria, Webb and Marakis sat on his left, along with the ship’s doctor, a Tellarite named Ranik. Teague waited for the idle chatter to die down before he spoke. "I know you’re all curious as to why we departed spacedock in such a hurry," he began, taking his seat. "For the time being, what I’m about to share with you does not leave this room. All information will be shared on a need-to-know basis. Am I understood?"

He pressed a button on the small control pad set into the table and the overhead lights dimmed. Behind him, the wallscreen lit up with an image of a sector of space divided by grid lines. "This is Sector Nineteen, recently opened for colonization by the Federation Colonial Authority," Teague said. "The region contains a multitude of star systems with terrestrial bodies, half a dozen of which are suitable for habitation by various Federation member species. A dozen more are already in the preliminary stages of terraforming to render them likewise. Add to that an abundance of raw materials, and you have an ideal zone for expansion."

"Or the Wild West," Amara said. "A lawless new frontier. Somebody could do a lot of damage."

"That’s why the Federation dispatched a dozen ships to patrol the sector, to establish secure trading routes and ensure the safety of the colonists, both before and after reaching their destinations. The Federation intends for this to be our first unified effort at expanding our boundaries."

Lt. Webb whistled. "That’s a lot of traffic going into the sector. Anybody with a ship that can make Warp Three will be trying to get a piece of this."

"They already are, Lieutenant. There are three colony fleets already bound this way, with twice as many getting prepared. And that doesn’t even count the corporate concerns - the mining companies, the merchant fleets, the independents. This is the first test of if Starfleet can keep the peace."

Teague pressed another button, and several red dots appeared. "Over the past five months, seventeen deep space vessels have disappeared from or very near to Sector Nineteen. Not a single one broadcast any sign of trouble beforehand - they all just vanished."

"What about debris or lifepods?" Kassin said. "Surely there was some trace."

"Not a one. Of course, by the time the transports were declared overdue and search vessels sent out, any energy traces had dissipated. But one would have expected to find some sign of hostilities - vaporized duranium, traces of fusion weaponry. Like I said, not a trace."

"Could be pirates," Beaumont offered. "The Nausicaans keep having problems with their people going rogue."

"None of the cargo has turned up anywhere close enough to make it worth their while. Besides, pirates wouldn’t be so brazen with what happened next. Three days ago, the Roosevelt broadcast a distress call from here." Teague pressed a switch and a larger red light appeared and began blinking. "A T’Raal -class cruiser was less than six hours away, but by the time they arrived the Roosevelt was gone - vanished, like all the others. But this wasn’t a civilian transport, this was a state-of-the-art Daedalus-class cruiser. This was a direct assault on Starfleet."

"Which would explain why Starfleet is reactivating the Defense Fleet," T’Vril said, sharing a look with Beaumont. "They believe someone may be attempting to trigger another war."

Teague nodded. "And war is the last thing the Federation needs. Half the members still don’t trust the other half," he said, looking from T’Vril to Marakis, fully aware of the lingering distrust between the Vulcans and Andorians that was unlikely to fade anytime soon. "A war could tear it apart before it gets the chance to take root. We don’t even know who’s behind this - it could be anybody at this point. Or it might be something else altogether."

"So what can a single ship do?" Sarria said quietly, then flushed almost purple when she realized she had spoken aloud. "I - I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t..."

"It’s all right, Ensign. It’s a valid question," Teague said. "We’re Starfleet’s newest, most advanced ship, bound for hostile territory. We’ve got no escorts, no fleet, no backup. We’ll be days away from any kind of support. In short, we’re on our own."

At the far end of the table, Amara smiled, realizing what Teague had in mind. "You wily cuss," he murmured.

Expressions of confusion settled on every face but Teague’s and Amara’s. "I’m sorry, Commander?" Beaumont said.

Teague shared his friend’s grin. "He’s already guessed what I have in mind. That’s okay, he’s got an unfair advantage - years of experience," Teague explained. "Go on, then. Tell them."

Amara sighed. "We’re the bait."

To Be Continued...
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Old January 16 2012, 05:20 AM   #21
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

Teague's just begun ringing the dinner bell. "Come and get it!"

Gutsy, to be sure... especially with no backup available. I hope they're up to the task.
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Old January 17 2012, 01:00 AM   #22
jerriecan
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

Gibraltar wrote: View Post
Teague's just begun ringing the dinner bell. "Come and get it!"

Gutsy, to be sure... especially with no backup available. I hope they're up to the task.
So do I. I think so, but we may all be surprised.

Thanks for the kind words!

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Old January 20 2012, 03:19 AM   #23
jerriecan
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

Star Trek: Pathfinder
The Siren's Call - Part Seven

USS Pathfinder
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."

" - 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...
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Old January 20 2012, 08:15 AM   #24
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

Teague summarizes the importance of their situation nicely here. This assignment is as much a vote of confidence in Starfleet and the Federation as it is a recon mission.

I'm loving the way you're weaving the history of this little-known era at the dawn of the Federation's history.
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Old January 23 2012, 01:25 AM   #25
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

Star Trek: Pathfinder
The Siren's Call - Part Nine

USS Pathfinder
en route to Sector Nineteen
May 10, 2163


Lt. Cmdr. Andrei Kassin, science officer of the USS Pathfinder, leaned back from the table and rubbed his eyes. "This," he announced, "is a mess."

For the past three days, he and Commander Beaumont had been in the main Science Lab, breaking down the last signal received from the Roosevelt. They had tried to separate the signal into the main transmission sent by the Roosevelt, the natural noise of subspace, and another signal that was so powerful it has bled through onto the Roosevelt distress call - which was the one they wanted to isolate. Their quarry was slippery, though, and every time they seemed to close in the computer rejected another chunk of it as noise, forcing them to start all over. Worst of all was the nagging feeling that he had seen this signal before, a maddening feeling when he couldn't even separate it from the noise in the first place. On the tablescreen, bits of the signal flashed blue and vanished as the computer determined them to be part of the noise. "It'll take weeks for the computer to sort this out," he continued.

Reluctantly, Beaumont nodded. Her cortical co-processor was efficiently working through the data, but just didn't have the power to analyze it as a whole. All it could do was provide her with a tiny fragment at a time, which was even less helpful than the main computer's output. "Maybe Starfleet is having better luck. Our systems just weren't designed to perform deep-level subspace analysis."

In one corner of the tablescreen, the computer was still processing the verbal component of the Roosevelt signal bit-by-bit, and had reconstructed an almost crystal-clear playback. Kassin thumped a switch and cut the quiet words off - listening over and over to the last words of a vanished ship was worse than useless, it was a distraction when they could least afford it. Besides, their target wasn't there - it was buried deeper, somewhere in the noise. "This signal degradation is severe," Kassin said. "Must have traveled several light-years before the repeater picked it up."

Subspace repeater stations were springing up all across the Federation, mostly along well-traveled routes but quickly spreading into the more remote areas. Their purpose was to pick up subspace broadcasts, amplify them, and send them along to the next repeater, ensuring a minimal loss of quality over vast distances. Many ships - and all Starfleet ships - had their subspace transmitters automatically locate and connect with the nearest repeater as they came into range, eliminating the need to try and locate one during an emergency.

Beaumont frowned and brought up a graphic of the area where the Roosevelt had vanished. Several dots were flashing blue, each one representing the location of a subspace repeater station. The nearest one to the Roosevelt's last known location was barely half a light year distant. "Why would the signal not have been sent to the nearest repeater?" she said.

Kassin brought up the signal log, which contained the record of every system that particular signal had encountered. "First repeater contact was here," he said, isolating a repeater six light years from the Roosevelt's last location - and which was almost the opposite direction from the closest repeater. "That doesn't make sense - someone would have had to override the system and choose that repeater manually. They would have known they'd lose signal coherence over that distance."

"Maybe they weren't worried about the coherence," Beaumont said. Her fingers flew over the controls, and a handful of white dots appeared. "These are all the star systems within a quarter of a light-year of the transmission path from the Roosevelt to the repeater."

Kassin brought up the details of each of the three star systems. "Not much there," he said. "These two have no habitable planets, and the third, Tau Delta, only has one - and it can hardly be considered habitable."

Beaumont brought up the details in her mind, the data flowing from the ship to her implant to her brain over a low-strength subspace signal. Tau Delta IV was habitable only by the barest of margins - the planet had an axial tilt of almost forty degrees and wobbled back and forth almost randomly, creating seasonal variations of almost two hundred degrees between summer and winter average temperatures. That alone had made it unsuitable for any terraforming effort, and the lack of any worthwhile natural materials had left the system of no interest to anyone - except someone who didn't want to be found. "I don't think they were worried about the words," she said. "The transmission was a pointer, a guide. It showed the direction the Roosevelt wanted us to go." She pointed at the Tau Delta system. "That's where they came from."

"Pretty thin logic, Commander," Kassin said. "Whoever overrode the signal could have been impaired, under duress. The Roosevelt's transmitter could have been damaged. Even if an attacker came at the Roosevelt from that bearing, that doesn't mean they came from that system. I could come up with a dozen other reasons to explain what happened."

"We'll be at the Roosevelt's last coordinates in three days," Beaumont said. "I doubt we'll find anything more than the Vulcan cruiser did, not after so long. I'm open to ideas for some other direction to search - unless you want to sit and wait for another attack, maybe on us this time?"

Kassin opened his mouth, then closed it again without offering his thoughts. "I'll... keep working on it. Ma'am."

"Good." Beaumont stood and stretched, her neck aching from leaning over the tablescreen for so long without a break. "I need to stretch my legs. Want anything from the galley?"

"Just more coffee," Kassin said, pointing at the empty carafe in the corner. Beaumont nodded and stepped out into the corridor, leaving Kassin alone in the lab. As soon as she was gone, he frowned and touched the console, bringing the signal analysis back to dominate the tablescreen. He gazed at the peaks and valleys of the signal, seeing the echoes of smooth curves that the computer had not recognized buried beneath the noise -

"Achilles," he murmured.

To Be Continued...
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Old January 23 2012, 02:04 AM   #26
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

love the cover....especially the logo symbol you designed

love the uniforms and the aliens you created

great story as well!
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Old January 23 2012, 08:00 AM   #27
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

Your fantastic work on this tale continues. I love the level of detail you've achieved here.
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Old January 23 2012, 08:16 PM   #28
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

as was said by many others here, your story is very well written. i'll definitely be checking back here for each new instalment you post
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Old January 24 2012, 12:13 AM   #29
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

Star Trek: Pathfinder
The Siren's Call - Part Ten

USS Pathfinder
en route to Sector Nineteen
May 13, 2163


"Dropping out of warp... now."

The Pathfinder's engines powered down and the warp field dissipated quickly, dropping the ship to below the speed of light. On the bridge all eyes were fixed on their stations, scrutinizing the readouts for any signs of the enemy - whoever, or whatever, it might be.

Just as predicted, nothing more had been found at the last known location of the Roosevelt. Whatever particle trails that might have been left behind by weapon fire or engine emissions had long since dissipated, and the only debris was normal interstellar dust no larger than grains of sand. Pathfinder had lingered for barely an hour before setting course for the Tau Delta system.

Commander Beaumont stood beside T'Vril at the tactical station, watching the details of the star system resolve on the screen. Tau Delta was class-K, older and cooler than Sol, with six planets. The three innermost were small, airless rocks, the outer two were gas giants each larger than Jupiter, and the last - the fourth planet - was just barely habitable. Scattered between the orbits of the gas giants was a patchy asteroid belt which spread wider with each pass of either planet. Ultimately the entire belt would vanish, either consumed by the gravity of the giant worlds or flung out of the star system altogether, but that fate was billions of years distant.

Today, all that mattered was that something could be concealed among those rocks.

T'Vril flipped a switch on her console. "Beginning tactical scan," she said. From the pod slung beneath the saucer hull, invisible beams sprang forward, looking for anything out of the ordinary - significant masses of refined materials, or high-output energy sources that could be antimatter or fusion powerplants. For several minutes the beams swept the system, until at last the console emitted a muted beep. "No indications of enemy presence, sir," T'Vril said at last.

"Doesn't mean they aren't here," Teague said. "Lt. Marakis, plot a course that takes within detailed scan range of the gas giants and then to the fourth planet. Lt. Webb, make our speed one-half impulse. Nice and leisurely."

"Aye, sir," Webb replied, setting the controls. At that speed, it would take the Pathfinder the better part of a day to make orbit.

Teague looked over at T'Vril. "Commander, suspend active scans. Passive only."

"Sir?" Beaumont said.

"Let's make it look like we're sightseers," Teague explained. "Just out on a normal sweep, straight out of the manual. Let's make whoever might be watching us think they have us right where they want us." He leaned forward, eyes fixed on the main viewscreen.

Kassin was peering into the sensor hood. "No obvious signs of habitation," he said. "No EM emissions of any kind except for normal background noise."

"Very good. Webb... take us in."

Slowly the Pathfinder made her way toward the inner system, easing past the outermost gas giant before angling toward the next planet in. A million kilometers from Tau Delta V, Kassin's console chirped. "Contact, sir." He leaned closer to the hood, concentrating on the trace.

"Source?"

"In stable orbit around the fifth planet," Kassin replied. He relayed his findings to the main viewscreen. "I'm reading multiple contacts of significant mass, but no traces of power. Readings indicate the ships are pretty much stripped to the frames."

Tegan shivered as she saw how the ships were arranged. "It's a boneyard," she said.

"Lieutenant?" T'Vril said.

"It's a typical Wrecker layout," Webb said, referring to the unsavory individuals who made their living by stealing others' ships - while still being used by their rightful owners. "Seize the ships, then bring them somewhere quiet and strip them to the frames. Whole ships are tough to dispose of, but parts can go through a dozen hands before anyone gets wise to the scheme."

"What about the crews?" Beaumont said.

"Some Wreckers press them into service, others dump them off on the closest inhabitable planet. Some just leave the crew where they found the ship - in deep space."

"I'd say we're in the right place," Teague said. "Tactical alert. Bring weapons and hull plating to standby. Go to active scanning - if they're out there, I want to see them coming - "

Beaumont's shriek filled the bridge before he could complete the sentence.

To Be Continued...
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Old January 24 2012, 01:04 AM   #30
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Re: Star Trek: Pathfinder #1 - The Siren's Call

There's a genuine sense of mystery here, a 'what the hell is going on?' that's entirely appropriate to the early age of the Federation, before space travel became routine. They're also playing for high stakes, too...

As always, extremely well written.
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