LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios. NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009. 10 (cont) USS ANGEL – BRIDGE ZETHANDER – GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT UFP SPACE September 12th 2371 – 0113 FST “…and since then we haven’t been able to contact her.” “What’s your risk assessment Commander?” If there was the slightest possibility that the team was at risk aboard Scorpion, Dan wanted them out. “So far Sir, it seems that our contact has been fairly benign. For now I’d prefer to wait it out over here.” Dan was happy to trust in Kat’s assessment of the situation but just to make sure he’d ensure that one of the transporters was dedicated to a keeping a constant lock on the team. “Alright, keep me updated. Angel out.” “Lieutenant Gittings, arrange for the next free transporter team to keep a constant lock on the away team then advise Commander Gray.” “Aye Sir.” As Gittings dealt with that matter, Dan returned his attention to the bigger crisis. “Commander T’Sell, tell me you have good news?” T’Sell raised an eyebrow, and Dan noted that she had to brush an errant strand of her normally immaculate hair back behind a finely pointed ear. “I would say that it depends on your definition of good Sir. Right now we’ve managed to negate all the major threats and almost half of the mediums, but there will still be many that get through.” Dan smiled ironically. “Right now that amounts to good news Commander, well done.” Dan stood, only now realising how much tension had crept into his muscles and he worked the kinks out of his shoulders. “Commander Machilveen, you have the bridge. I’ll be in the ready room giving a preliminary report to Starfleet. Any change in status, inform me immediately.” He also needed a very black coffee but the report would need to be done first. The Chief Engineer left her post at the rear of the bridge to take the centre seat, the majority of her work complete, while Dan headed tiredly into the ready room. It seemed almost impossible, but in the space of two hours their quiet layover at Zethander had turned into a major crisis. Dan had watched with quiet satisfaction though as his untried crew had risen to the challenge. And, he realised, so had he. Maybe Starfleet did get it right after all he conceded wryly. Of course it wasn’t over yet, not by a long way. SCORPION – CONTROL ROOM CLOSE TO ZETHANDER UFP SPACE September 12th 2371 – 0113 FST “…There are what look like terminals in…” Vonny heard the rustling silk sound of the door reforming behind her and spun around. Sure enough, the door had indeed re-solidified and she found herself alone in the room with the sphere. It hung motionless by the door, and much like the Commander earlier, she had the unnerving feeling it was watching her. Strangely, however, Vonny didn’t feel panicked at being physically cut off from the rest of the away team. The ship in general and the sphere in particular had made no threatening move against the team’s exploration. Realistically though, Vonny had to admit to herself that that situation could change at a moments notice. Tapping her commbadge, she wasn’t totally surprised to hear the negative connection chirp but she tried it again just to make sure. Satisfied that, for now at least, she couldn’t contact anybody, she turned her attention back to the room she’d been isolated in. Along the furthest wall was a bank of…well, somethings with empty receptacles along their pristine white faces. It was almost like an isolinear chip bank aboard the Angel, a notion reinforced when she noted small rectangular solids scattered on the floor around the wall units. To her left was an tall unit which resembled a transporter station although it was encased rather than open and only had a single pad. There were no controls that she could see so for now she moved on. Beyond was a work surface, angled to sit at a comfortable viewing level for the 'almost' chairs that were arranged before it. Vonny thought of them as 'almost' chairs because there was something slightly off about them. The seats and backrests were normal enough, but they seemed to sit too near the deck as if the race that used them had much shorter legs. Vonny knew that wasn’t so however having seen the holos in the accommodation rooms. If anything, their legs seemed longer. Another fact to store away. Across to her right was a similar arrangement but without the seats, and finally there was the empty wall that contained the entrance. She scanned and recorded all this along with her own descriptions and thoughts, and when eventually she realised there was little more to do from her current position she moved towards the seated console. The sphere followed her slowly, neither opening nor closing the distance between them, and she sat down. “So what next oh mysterious orb? Am I meant to do something here?” Vonny hadn’t expected a response and so was surprised when the previously white orb flickered through various colours. Vonny quickly raised her tricorder but was too late to scan the changes before it returned to its original white. She thought for a moment. It seemed to have reacted to her voice and yet outside the room it had made no such show when anybody else had spoken. Feeling slightly silly, she pointed at herself and said slowly and clearly “Vonny Dixon.” There was a slight flicker of colour this time then nothing. The tricorder however had picked up signs of activity that it could not yet define but were definitely emanating from the orb. Is it trying to understand me she wondered? She stood enthusiastically and obviously a little too quickly, the sphere bobbing backwards away from her. Realising she must have spooked the thing she raised her hands palm out in the most non-threatening way she could. “Sorry! Sorry. I’ll just sit down again.” How can I do this? She examined what she carried with her, which in essence was very little. The tricorder, a palm beacon, a holocamera and her commbadge was the limit of her gear. She suddenly had an idea and scrolled through the tricorders menu until she found the presentation menu. Selecting the projection item she aimed the tricorder at the blank wall beside the door and brought up a presentation on the United Federation of Planets. Instantly, a galactic map appeared showing all four quadrants and Vonny stood slowly to approach the display. Pointing to the central core worlds and then tracing her finger around the periphery of the Federation’s boundary she said “United Federation of Planets.” She was gratified to see a sudden expression of interest as the lights once again began flashing. A red beam not unlike a laser pointer lanced out to trace the same boundary that Vonny had. “Yes, that’s it, United Federation of Planets!” She repeated the demonstration a couple of times then the sphere changed tactics. Its pointer outlined the periphery of the Romulan Empire appearing above and to the right of the Federation. Vonny traced the outline herself and speaking clearly said “Romulan Star Empire. Romulan Star Empire.” The sphere now took the lead, tracing out different sectors of the map with Vonny describing each one in turn. “Klingon Empire.” “Tzenkethi Coalition.” “Cardassian Union.” “Ferengi Alliance.” The list went on until eventually most of the major powers and territories had been covered. Next Vonny brought up images of some of the races prevalent in the Alpha Quadrant. She started with Humans and as the image displayed, she waved her hands to indicate herself. “Human. I am Human.” The beam pointed straight at her, then at the image and the sphere stayed blue for a few seconds. She’d noticed this before and decided now that when it did this it meant (or at least she thought it meant) that the sphere understood. She nodded and progressed through Vulcan, Andorian, Tellarite, and as many other Federation member races as she felt made sense. She finally collected all the images together and overlaid them on the map. First she circled the small images of the disparate races, and then pointed at the area of space covered by the Federation. “Federation.” When the sphere copied her actions and turned its affirmative blue she smiled. Aren’t you the clever one? She thought, and then repeated the process for all the other powers she’d outlined. Checking the chrono, she realised with some surprise that half an hour had passed and she suddenly wondered what the away team would be doing. Vonny was fairly certain that Commander Gray would do nothing to antagonise the ship or the sphere unless she felt there was some danger to the team, and as far as she could tell that wasn’t the case right now. Deciding to take the initiative, Vonny slowly walked around the sphere and stopped at the door. She pointed and said “Open?” The sphere didn’t move to stop her but when she pointed at the door it glowed yellow. Obviously not. She was surprised again when the sphere bobbed away from her to hover by the wall containing the empty receptacles. It glowed blue, then descended to hover above the solids on the floor and glowed blue again before rising once more. It repeated the performance and then sat quite still. Vonny waited a moment to see if there would be more. She found herself wishing that she herself could change colour to indicate her…wait, the palm beacon! Taking it from the bag over her shoulder she checked the filters which were designed to shine any colour of the spectrum (and some beyond) during engineering work. The sphere did nothing else but observe her. Eventually, impatient with her lack of response, it approached her and then backed away to repeat its performance. Vonny interpreted the dance to indicate that the sphere wanted her to replace the scattered solids in the receptacles. Selecting blue on the palm beacon - and hoping this particular shade had no other connotations to the sphere – she shone it for a few seconds. Almost comically, the sphere bobbed up and down appearing almost excited. “Ok my small friend; let’s see if I’m half the engineer people keep telling me I am!” Vonny walked over and sat amidst the pile of solids. “Trouble is where do I bloody start?” The sphere, naturally, said nothing.