"Lost And Found"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bry_Sinclair, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    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
     
  2. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    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.

    ***
     
  3. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    You had me at "Border Service!" :lol:

    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! :)
     
  4. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    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.
     
  5. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    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.”

    ***
     
  6. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    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. :evil:
     
  7. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    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! :techman:
     
  8. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Between the candle and the flame
    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.
     
  9. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    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.

    ***
     
  10. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    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! :)
     
  11. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Location:
    T'Girl
    Given how long the ship's been missing, but there is fresh food in the break room, I'm wondering if something "temporal" happen.
     
  12. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    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.”

    ***
     
  13. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    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.
     
  14. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    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
     
  15. Finn

    Finn Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    Finn
    I'm looking forward to it :)
     
  16. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    U.S.S. Cairo NCC-42136

    An hour had passed since the meeting, and the Silverfin’s teams were swarming all over the Cairo. Out of a crew of one hundred and twenty-four, only sixteen remained onboard the cutter—four on the bridge, four manning the emergency transports (who could pull all of the search teams off in less than thirty seconds if needed), two corpsmen in sickbay and six in engineering. The rest of the crew had been split into twenty-seven four-man teams and assigned to the operation to secure the Excelsior-Class. Two teams of engineers were in main engineering trying to restore power to the warp core—although so far with no success—and another four-man team was at the main computer core, getting it ready for a full download and data analysis.

    Leijten’s team were on deck eight, searching through the various science labs, offices and quarters. With her was Lieutenant Commander Daezan—though the Second Officer could have been leading his own team, she knew that if anyone was going to find something it would be the Betazoid officer, and so she opted to take him with her—Corpsman Mitchell Donovan and Crewman K8 Blue from security.

    Every team checked in with the ship at allocated intervals, though if they found anything unusual they were to signal immediately, and the Silverfin would then contact Leijten. But so far, all had been quiet. Part of her would rather have been fighting off a horde of hostile aliens, or zombie crewmen, or anything else other than the eerie stillness.

    Her team were going through a set of enlisted crew quarters, two bedrooms with twin beds, a small living space between the two rooms and then a multiple-occupant bathroom it shared with a similar set of quarters. Eight people to one bathroom, you’d really have to like your neighbours, she quipped to herself, trying to keep the tension at bay. She and Donovan were in one four-berth whilst Blue and Daezan were in the other, having checked the bathroom already.

    She ran her tricorder over the computer terminal in one of the bedrooms, but found nothing of interest. The room itself was neat and tidy, nothing looked out of order—exactly the same as it had been in the other ten sets of similar quarters they had already checked on deck eight.

    “Captain!” a panicked voice called, followed by a series of clicks and chirps.

    “Blue?” she called back, hurrying from the empty room and through the bathroom, her hand on the handle of her holstered phaser, ready to draw in a heartbeat. Donovan was right behind her as they stepped into the other cabin. The pillbug-like Nasat security guard stood in the living room, her antennae quivering and jerking constantly. “What is it?” Leijten asked as she surveyed the room and found it empty. She noticed they were short one member. “Where’s Daezan?”

    “I don’t know sir,” the Crewman stated. “We split up to check each room, and when I went to look in on him, he was gone.”

    She tapped her combadge. “Leijten to Daezan.” There was no reply. “Commander Daezan respond!” As much as the Ops officer was a jester and an easy-going young man, it was never when on a mission. God, please don’t say he’s vanished just like the Cairo’s crew! She flipped her tricorder open and started scanning for Betazoid lifesigns, seeing as how Daezan was the only one onboard the Silverfin he would be easy to track down. It took a few moments, but her tricorder beeped and showed the bio-sign she was after. He was still on deck eight, but was heading aft. The search team had started at the forward section and was making its way aft, where the science labs were located, as well as the warp core.

    Maybe he’s found something? But why not answer? She looked back at Donovan and Blue. “Come on!” she ordered, dashed out (as fast as the gravity boots would allow) into the corridor and towards her Second Officer. The others were right behind her, K8 Blue skittering along on all eight of her legs. Leijten had expected her to contract into her carapace and roll ahead of them, but the guard seemed content to move beside them—no doubt under orders from Syva to keep Leijten safe.

    They were still a three dozen meters away when her combadge chirped. “Th’Shaan to Leijten. Captain I think I’ve found the problem with the warp—”

    “Understood,” she said cutting off the enthusiastic sounding Andorian. “Do what needs to be done. Leijten out.” She wasn’t usually quite so abrupt, but with one of her people incommunicado she had to prioritise.

    Rounding a corner, heading to the outer edge of the saucer, her tricorder told her that he was directly ahead, approaching the escape pods. What the hell is he doing? She directed her wrist beacon down the corridor and picked up a humanoid form just ahead of them, and from the broad shoulders, slim waist and wavy dark-brown hair she knew exactly who it was.

    “Kolanis!” she yelled, her voice echoing up and down the corridors and all the adjoining ones too. Once again, her hand was on her phaser, whilst she slipped the tricorder back onto her belt. To her right, K8 Blue drew her weapon and aimed in his direction, and on her left Donovan had his tricorder open and scanning ahead of them.

    Daezan stopped moving and stood still, his posture stiff, his hands balled into tight fists.

    “Kolanis? Are you alright?” she asked moving forward. Her two team-mates moved as well, but she gestured for them to stay back. He didn’t answer or move. Something is very wrong here, she noted, gripping her phaser tighter, but resisting the urge to draw it. As she took another few steps towards him, she remembered back eleven years ago, on the surface of Tarchana III. She had just come out of surgery to restore her humanity after the planets indigenous humanoid species had “impregnated” her years earlier. She’d been weak and woozy, but she drew every ounce of strength she had to extend her hand to the semi-transformed figure that was Geordi La Forge, her former shipmate and good friend. She was his only hope of returning to the Enterprise-D, where he would be restored as well, but for a brief moment she had almost lost him, by the Tarchanans instinct to run, to hide. At the last minute, he had reached for her hand, and on taking it, he had clung to her tightly in an embrace that had saved his life.

    She was only ten meters away from him when he started to turn towards her. She stopped. Heart pounding in her chest, part of her wanted to draw her weapon and fire. Whatever had happened to Daezan, he wasn’t himself and there was no telling what he would do. When he faced her, she directed the light on his chest, where she saw that his jacket was wet. The light illuminated his face, and when she looked up at him tears streamed down his face. There was no expression, and his eyes, usually so filled with life and mirth, were hollow.

    “Kolanis,” she said, her voice so soft the silence of the corridor almost swallow the word.

    She was about to take a step forward, when his mouth opened wide and he unleashed a deep, guttural, pained howl. A noise so filled with anguish and horror and pain that she was forced to cover her ears. Even as he screamed, his expression never changed, his eyes never locked onto her, he never showed the slightest hint of realisation that there was anyone else in the sector let alone only a few feet away.

    Then he stopped, turned and darted down the corridor and around the bend. Immediately she was after him, cursing the magnetic boots she had insisted they all wear, but not wanting to waste time taking them off. She didn’t have to go far, as just fifteen meters down the corridor, he stood, both hands braced on the hatch of an escape pod, head bowed, his chest heaved and she could see him trembling.

    This time, she did draw her weapon. “Lieutenant Commander Daezan!” she snapped, hoping her more formal approach would snap him out of whatever had happened to him. She set the phaser to full stun and aimed at his chest. Behind her, she could hear Donovan and Blue approach clumsily, neither one overly experienced with low-gravity environments.

    Daezan looked back up at her, straightened himself, his powerful physique intimidating in the dimly lit corridor. He opened his mouth again, and she braced herself for another scream, but this time, he spoke, his voice snarled and throaty, No eNd…no PEacE…NO moRE!”

    He took a step towards her, and without hesitation, she fired. Daezan collapsed in a heap on the deck, just as the others arrived. She moved closer to him, and heard Donovan following close behind. Crouching next to his prone body, she could see the fain rise and fall of his chest. Donovan got down on his knees next to her and ran his tricorder over the Ops officer. It took him a few moments, pausing for a long while at Kolanis’ head before looking at her.

    “The phaser shot won’t be a problem, but I’m getting some very unusual neurological readings from him. I’ll need to get him back to the ship and have the Doctor take a closer look at him.”

    She nodded. “Whatever you need Mitchell.”

    He tapped his combadge. “Donovan to Silverfin. Two to beam directly to sickbay.”

    Leijten moved to stand up, setting her hand on the escape pod hatch to help rise to her feet, but feeling something warm and wet on her palm. She raised it to the light of her wrist beacon and saw that her hand was red with blood. Just before Donovan and Daezan were beamed away, she noticed that the Second Officers fists were still clenched and saw blood dripping from between his fingers.

    After they had been beamed out, she took a step back and pointed her light at the hatch. What she saw sent a chill through her body and made her gut clench tight. Written in the Betazoid’s dark red blood, in letters at least forty centimetres high, were two simple words.

    HELP US.

    ***
     
  17. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    It would seem that the Cairo is haunted! :evil:

    Very creepy. Something obviously "connected" with the Betazoid, Daezen (or possessed him). Hopefully, he's not so messed up that he's beyond help.

    This reminds me a little of Event Horizon, though with obvious differences. The "Help us" message indicates that the crew may still be alive, perhaps trapped in another dimension or reality. Or perhaps they're dead and their spirits are calling from beyond the grave, seeking to steal the souls of these interlopers. :devil:

    One has to wonder though - will any of the other Silverfin crew members be affected like Daezen?

    Good stuff!
     
  18. Finn

    Finn Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    Finn
    Awesome
     
  19. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    After Daezan had been beamed out, Leijten had ordered teams to check out the quarters where he’d last been before the “incident”, the route he took—paying particular attention to where she had first caught up with him—and then escape pod, where he’d left the message written in his own blood. Their efforts were made considerably easier when main power was suddenly restored, and the ships lighting, life-support and gravity returned to normal.

    Being more than a little agitated by what had happened to her Second Officer, she had left Amorin to head up the new investigation and gone to deck thirteen and main engineering to check in with th’Shaan. Crewman K8 Blue remained with her, the Nasat was more than a little unsettled by what had happened to Daezan, and now wasn’t going to let Leijten out of her sight.

    Leijten stepped into the dual-levelled room that housed the now throbbing warp core and dilithium chamber, as well as almost a dozen work stations and various other pieces of hardware that she ignored at present. She spotted th’Shaan—the only Andorian in the room—at the main command console where he was thoroughly engrossed by what he was looking at. She noted that his antennae curled as she approached and he looked up at Leijten and her bodyguard. He seemed to perk up at seeing her; obviously he hadn’t taken her bluntness earlier to heart. The other seven engineers he was in charge of were all busy at other consoles, moving from one to another in a carefully choreographed dance.

    “How’s Daezan?” he asked, concern etched on his face for a brief moment.

    “Doc said he’d comm me when he had something,” she said as she approached. “How’d you do it?” she asked, coming to a stop at his console.

    “It’s all a matter of perspective Captain,” he replied. “Sometimes the problem isn’t in the hardware. If an object measures a meter long, and a meter stick is wrong, that doesn’t make the object a meter.”

    She thought over his cryptic response for a moment and then it dawned on her. “A problem with the diagnostic sensors?”

    “Got it in one Captain,” he picked up a small cylinder off the top of the console, roughly thirty centimetres in height and five in diameter, covered in various controls and lights. “The sensor relay in the antimatter injector assembly that monitors the fuel flow and conducts a series of diagnostic sweeps every two hours. It was completely depolarised. All of the readings were completely off, and because of that the computer shut the entire warp drive assembly down, which cut main power.”

    She looked up at the large warp core, which spread across fourteen decks, and watched as the pulses of energy met at the dilithium chamber in the middle. Although holding a level four engineering certificate (most newly graduated ensigns were a level three), she had rarely spent much time in engineering—on any of her previous postings. The qualification had come in handy many times in the past, during her years spent as a Search-And-Rescue Officer both in the Border Service and the Fleet—just like her training as an emergency medical technician, sensor analysis and computer data retrieval, and her proficiency with just about every weapon Starfleet issued. All of her skills made it easy for her to go between the two sides of the organisation, not something many could boast of, and had made her a solid all-rounder, capable of handling just about anything that was thrown at her.

    But despite all of that, I couldn’t to a damn thing to help Kolanis, she scorned herself. Stop that Susanna! He’s safe and sound back on the Silverfin and Tunde will find out what happened to him.

    “What could cause that?” she asked, getting her thoughts back onto the Cairo and the mystery it presented.

    “Not sure as yet sir. These sensors are designed to be pretty near foolproof, seeing how the function and safety of the warp core relies of them,” he said studying the faulty relay.

    “No theories?” she probed.

    He smiled at her. “Well one. Problem is its pretty specific. Only someone who knew the intricacies of a Starfleet warp reactor would have been able to do it.”

    “What is it Elak?”

    “A tightly-compressed high-frequency ion pulse. It would have to be delivered directly onto the relay. Failure would be instantaneous.”

    “So…sabotage?” He nodded. “Any way to check your theory?”

    “I’d have to run a full metallurgical analysis in the workshop, once we get back to the Silverfin.”

    She gestured at the relay he held. “I take it that’s the culprit?”

    “Yes sir it is. Luckily we were carrying a spare, so I had it beamed over. We’re running a full diagnostic as we speak, but so far everything looks to be checking out.”

    “Beam it back to the Silverfin and have Lieutenant Mulligan begin the analysis. We have far too many questions and not nearly enough answer for my liking,” she instructed him. He nodded and as he contacted the ship to arrange transport and give his assistant her new orders, Leijten’s combadge chirped. Tapping it she said, “This is Leijten. Go ahead.”

    “Mbeki here Captain. I have something to show you,” the Doctor’s voice was cool and composed.

    “On my way. Leijten out.” She looked at th’Shaan and held out her hand. He handed her the sensor relay. “Keep me posted of any developments Lieutenant,” she told him, before calling for immediate beam out.

    “Aye sir,” the Andorian replied as she dematerialised.

    ***
     
  20. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470

    After she beamed aboard, she’d left the sensor relay with the transporter operator and quickly hurried towards sickbay. She kept down on her imagination, which was going to ever worst case scenario she could imagine, and just focused on the corridor in front of her. She found it odd not to pass any of the crew, but with so few people onboard who were all at their duty stations, there wouldn’t be anyone wandering around. Best estimates put the search of the Cairo to last another two to three hours, with every team moving methodically throughout the Excelsior-Class ship, those that finished one deck and then moved on to help search another.

    On her way to the medical facility, she’d checked in with the bridge and was relieved to hear no signs of any other ships. The last thing they needed was to have to deal with the Talarians, pirates or salvagers whilst trying to secure the mystery ship.

    She rounded a corner and saw the doors to sickbay. Taking a deep breath she stepped inside. Daezan was on the central biobed, the monitors beeping softly in time with the beating of his heart and respiration—both were slow but steady and strong. Petty Officer Echor stood by the bed, running a scanner over Daezan’s head, whilst Corpsman Rice was on the other end of sickbay working at a computer terminal.

    The Tellarite at the bed looked up and didn’t seem surprised to see Leijten suddenly standing a few meters away. “The Doctor is in the lab sir,” the young medic told her.

    Leijten looked up from Daezan’s still form and gave the young woman a faint smile. “Thank you,” she said and headed into the adjacent medlab. Mbeki stood next to a monitor, whilst Donovan tapped away on the console beside him. It wasn’t a surprise the corpsman was helping the CMO out, as Donovan (at 45, three years her junior) was older than the average third class petty officer. Having spent years as a forensics technician on New Sydney, a planet renowned for its high levels of crime, he had enlisted into Starfleet five years ago and specifically requested a posting to the Border Service.

    “You have something Doctor?” she asked as she entered.

    Mbeki looked over his shoulder at her, a serious scowl on his face, then back at the readouts he was studying. “Yes. Something that doesn’t make sense however.”

    She came up beside him. “What about this day has made sense?”

    “Touché Captain,” he replied, enlarging one of the windows on his display screen. “Using the readings that Donovan took on the Cairo, it looks like Daezan was comatose when you confronted him in the corridor.”

    “How is that possible Doctor?”

    “It shouldn’t be. He should have been collapsed on the floor, not walking around and screaming,” he enlarged another window, this one filled with writing. “I’ve checked with all the medical records we have on Betazoids and have found nothing like this before. There has been instances when some can become overpower by extremely strong emotions—occasionally to the point where they lose consciousness. I also found several instances where Betazoids have been coerced or possessed by alien species, depending on their psi-strength. But in those instances, the person affected remains conscious, though they may not be aware of what’s happened to them.”

    “What about those unusually neurological readings Donovan picked up?” she asked, looking at non-com.

    “I’ve conducted a preliminary analysis of the readings—which have since dissipated. His psilosynine levels peaked at nine times above normal, the telepathic and memory centres of his brain were hyper-stimulated, and there were residual traces of a type of bioelectric energy I’ve never seen before throughout his motor cortex and brain stem,” Mbeki explained. “Nothing like this exists in the medical database we have. I’d need to contact the central medical archives on Betazed to see if they’ve seen anything like this before.”

    “Will he be alright?”

    Mbeki turned to look at her, the scowl had softened, but his expression was still serious. “Physically and mentally he’s fine. He’s resting right now. But emotionally I’m not sure. A Betazoids empathic ability makes them very sensitive to others, and going by what was reported by the rest of your team he has suffered a very serious emotional trauma.”

    “Doctor,” Echor called from the ward, her voice loud but not panicked.

    Mbeki hurried to the ward, with Leijten close behind. They entered to find Daezan slowly coming to. The CMO grabbed a tricorder and a hypospray off the equipment tray by the door, whiles she continued on to his bedside. Echor stood at the head of the bed, monitoring his vital signs. Mbeki stood opposite Leijten, running the scanner over the Ops officers body, though he scrutinised the results he didn’t seem alarmed by them.

    Daezan groaned.

    “Kolanis, you okay?” she asked, her voice soft, and a reassuring hand on his bare shoulder.

    He opened his eyes and looked up at her. For a second he looked like his normal self, but then his eyes moisten, and a look of fear and agony ghosted over his face. He tried to sit up, his deep dark eyes alarmed, warnings sounded on the medical screen Echor monitored. Mbeki gripped onto Daezan’s shoulders and held him down.

    “Daezan, you’re alright. You’re safe. You’ve on the Silverfin,” the doctor tried to reassure his startled and terrified patient, whilst keeping him from harming himself or anyone else.

    “Oh Deities!” the Betazoid cried out, tears running down his face. “The suffering! They only wanted it to end!” He looked from Mbeki to Leijten, his eyes pleading with her. “We have to help them! Even to end the torment! Peace…they only want peace!” Leijten never saw Mbeki retrieve the hypospray from his coat pocket, all she heard was the soft hiss as he pressed the device to Daezan’s neck. “No…” he moaned, before his eyes rolled back and he fell into a deep medicated sleep.

    When sickbay fell quiet once again, Leijten looked up at Mbeki, who was once again running scans on his patient. She looked back down at the younger man, who had become such a welcome addition to the crew, well known for his pranks and practical jokes, as well as his tremendous warmth and compassion. His colloquial nickname for her, that made Leijten smile the first time she heard it everyday, his reassuring calm on the bridge which she had come to rely on in a short space of time, all of that seemed to have vanished from him.

    “Doctor?” she pressed the CMO.

    “I’ve got a few more tests to run Captain, and in the meantime I’ll keep him sedated. I don’t know what’s still affecting him, but I don’t want to take any chances,” he said, finishing off his scans. “You’ll have to excuse me Susanna,” he said and headed back for the lab. She didn’t need to tell him to keep her posted.

    Looking down at Daezan once more, she headed for the exit, suddenly feeling very weary and tired, and the beginnings of a throbbing headache coming on.

    ***