Star Trek: Resolute - 1. Following In The Footsteps Of Giants

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bry_Sinclair, Apr 2, 2021.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Captain’s log, stardate: 43102.8.

    The
    Resolute is an hour away from the Henod System though all our hails to the outpost there continue to go unanswered. If the reports Starbase 407 received before communications went dead are accurate, then the planet could be in the middle of a full blown uprising by now. This wasn’t exactly the sort of mission I’d have hoped for with such a large number of new officers onboard, but with no other ship in this half of the sector then it falls on us to respond. I just have to stay optimistic that my new crew works out as well as I hope they do.

    * * * * *

    From Lieutenant Nikolai Adamos’ new seat at operations everything felt different, despite the bridge module being untouched during their six week long refit. All the work had concentrated on the Excelsior-Class ships armament, upgrading every phaser bank, torpedo launcher and shield generators—similar work was being carried out across the fleet following an encounter the U.S.S. Enterprise-D had had with a worrying new threat just three months ago. He knew from testing carried out before they’d relaunched that the improvements had a substantially greater energy drain than what had previously been in place, but nothing the ships warp core couldn’t cope with—the fact that he needed to be aware of that additional power requirement was one of the many things he needed to be on top of as the new ops manager.

    He glanced at his former station on his right, now occupied by Ensign Vsshar, and had to supress a shiver as he looked at the shiny green scales of the new Selay flight control officer, he’d never been overly fond of reptiles and having one right next to him made him uncomfortable—especially one almost as large as he was that ate raw meat.

    Shaking the slow shiver that crept down his spine (like a snake slithering) he focused on his new station, thankful once again for the new uniform. The previous design had been so tight and uncomfortable that he’d favoured the skant over the jumpsuit, but what had made the old uniform so restrictive had left out of the new attire that had become standard for all officers.

    2366 was definitely going to be a year of change, rumour had it that the Federation Council and Cardassian Union were just months away from finally signing a peace treaty putting an end to decades of hostility and open warfare. Unfortunately, not every system was without its problems and Henod had become theirs.

    The navigation sensors next to him chirped, a familiar sound that was no longer his to respond too. Vsshar looked at the display then turned back to Captain Rofe.

    “We’re approaching the Henod System, sir,” she said, each ‘s’ sound lingering a second longer than he’d have liked.

    “Thank you, Ensign. Drop us out of warp and take us in at full impulse.”

    “Aye sir,” she hissed and turned back to her controls.

    Adamos kept an eye on the readings as the ensign effortlessly took them from warp to impulse, adjusting their heading to the second planet by a fraction of a degree in the process. Despite his discomfort with the Selay, he had to admit his old station was in good hands—despite the sharp claw each of her three digits ended with.

    “Initiate full scan,” bellowed Commander Hunter, who stood behind the railing on the Captain’s right, hands planted firmly on his hips.

    Over his shoulder he heard the familiar creak of the command chair, telling him Rofe was perched on the edge and leaning forward. “Niko, let’s try short-range communications.”

    “Aye Captain,” he responded, already noting that Tenadii and Onahl were making full use of the sensor arrays. He set to work with communications, hoping for something different as any number of phenomena could interfere with subspace signals, but close range was typically more reliable—especially for planet-based facilities.

    After a few failed attempts he had to look back at Rofe and shake his head. “I’m still unable to get though, sir.”

    The Bolian gave him a fatherly smile. “Not your fault, Niko. Keep trying until we make orbit.”

    He gave a nod and kept trying, running through various channels and frequencies. Not only could he not establish contact but he couldn’t pick up anything coming from them either. He noticed that scans of the system had been completed just moments before the science and tactical officers gave their reports.

    Lieutenant Commander Anahera Tenadii went first, stroking her tattooed chin as she scrutinised the monitors. “I’m picking up no solar flare activity, background radiation spike, or subspace interference that would prohibit communications, sir. Everything in range is what we’ve come to expect from the system.”

    “No ships, cloaked or otherwise, on sensors. No indication of weapons fire or debris either,” Lieutenant (j.g.) Onahl added, their voice almost as emotionless as a Vulcans.

    Adamos frowned as he listened to the other bridge officers and looked at the telemetry. There was nothing that would prevent a signal from getting through, which meant the issue was on the surface—either technical glitch or no one was there to send or receive. He knew which of those he’d prefer.

    From their approach vector, it took the Resolute less than twenty minutes to approach the second planet, the only M-Class body in the system. Henod II was home to the Dinaar, a species that was seeking Federation membership, something Starfleet was all in favour of (given the fact the system was just fifteen light-years away from Tzenkethi space), as such a field office had been established on the planet to assess their suitability. It was expected that the petition would be fast-tracked as much as possible, given their strategic location, though they still had to go through the motions. In the xenological profile of the Dinaar he’d read, during the forty-nine hours it had taken them to reach the system, there hadn’t been anything about political instability.

    Commander Hunter stepped around the railing and approached the conn. “Establish high orbit over the capitol.”

    “High orbit, aye.”

    As Adamos glanced at the sensors once more he found it odd that there were no ships in orbit, but given the Dinaar had yet to develop transporter technology their spaceports were located on the surface—sharing of such technology would be one of their benefits from joining the UFP. As soon as they entered orbit, a blinking indicator on his companel immediately caught his attention.

    “Captain, we’re receiving a point-to-point laser link from the outpost. Getting an audio signal now.”

    He glanced back to see Rofe smile as he stood. “On speakers, Niko.”

    “Repeat, this is Henod Outpost to any Federation ship in orbit. Please respond on this frequency, our primary communications array is out of commission.”

    “Open a channel.”

    “Open sir.”

    “Henod Outpost, this is Captain Jinad Rofe of the U.S.S. Resolute. We’ve been sent to assess your current situation and provide whatever assistance is required. Please respond.”

    There was a moment as Adamos watched the communications system. Laser links were a crude system, one that was considerably outdated but every Starfleet ship, station and outpost was provided with the means to make use of it, for the rare times an antiquated solution was required. It took a few moments before he saw that the channel went from a repeated message to an open comlink.

    Resolute, this is Commander Amelia Tighe. Are we glad to hear from you, we were beginning to wonder when Starfleet would dispatch a ship here.”

    “Commander, you’ve got every admiral for three sectors worried that the Tzenkethi are about to strike again. What’s going on down there?”

    “It’s a little too complex to explain over a comlink, but the short version is that the Dinaar believe it’s some sort of second coming. There have been instances of civil unrest across the planet because of it, including a fanatic that sabotaged our communications array. If things continue at this pace, the Envoy and I both agree that we’ll need a full scale evacuation of all Federation personnel.”

    For a moment, no one on the bridge spoke as they all looked at one another in various states of confusion, surprise or disbelief—even the stern faced Hunter looked perplexed.

    “Understood, Commander. If you could establish an uplink and begin transferring your mission logs, my crew can get up to speed. I’ll be beaming down momentarily for a full briefing.”

    “Acknowledged. Henod Outpost out.”

    As soon as the channel closed Hunter turned to Rofe. “Captain, under Section Twelve, Paragraph Four of Starfleet Regulations—”

    “Commander,” the Bolian began, cutting the younger man off, “I know the rules about captain’s beaming into potential dangerous locations, but there is a situation down that that endangers hundreds of Federation citizens, not to mention some sort of huge cultural revolution that threatens not only the development of that planet, but potentially Starfleet security in this region. I think those circumstances would be deemed ‘extenuating’ and allow a little wiggle room.”

    Not waiting for Hunter to respond, Rofe looked at Adamos. “Niko, have Lieutenant Cela and Counsellor Dhas meet us is transporter room two.”

    “Aye sir,” he replied eagerly, this would be his first away mission as ops manager after all.

    “Commander, report in to Starbase 407 and let them know what’s happening here. Start analysing the outposts mission reports and continue scans across the planet and the surrounding area, we might be able to spot this ‘second coming’ before it arrives.”

    Almost through clenched teeth the new first officer confirmed his orders with a grudging, “Aye Captain.”

    Adamos surrendered his station to Ensign Patton and trotted after the Captain, excited for his first mission in his new role, relieved that the outpost and its crew were intact, and bewildered at the idea of some sort of religious incident had been the cause of this whole mess in the first place.

    * * * * *
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
  2. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
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    In the ten years Jinad Rofe had commanded the Resolute he’d taken it upon himself to give chances and opportunities to officers and crew many others wouldn’t, which was how his new security chief was a Centauran—a race known across two quadrants as pacifists who deplored violence—however, he couldn’t be happier with Lielle Cela. She had admirably taken over the reins from Lieutenant Commander Cheung, building on what her predecessor had put in place but all putting her spin on training and security operations. Until they knew just what the situation was on Henod II, he didn’t want to show up with a full security team, so the chief was more than enough to keep him and the others safe.

    Though he was sure Commander Hunter would prefer he beam down with ten fully armed guards surrounding him. The human was a hard one to really understand. He’d graduated from the Academy in 2357 and had a career anyone would’ve been proud of (he’d even been in for the first officer post on the Enterprise-D as a lieutenant commander), but despite that the man seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. Part of him had thought it had been wanting to make a good impression when he’d first come onboard on New Year’s Eve, though Rofe had quickly realised that was just his default setting. He just hoped he could get Hunter to pause for a moment and take stock before charging in like a bull in a China shop. He’d had his share of tough officers in the past and had always managed to help them, so he was determined to keep working away on the man.

    He quietened his thoughts as he accepted the type-one phaser from Cela and slipped it into its snug holster. Adamos followed suit, despite a fervent glance at the angular new type-twos still secure in the weapons locker, though shook his head and busied himself checking his tricorder. Standing to the side, Lieutenant Commander Ha’vayn Dhas watched all that was going on, no doubt picking up on all the subtle body language and non-verbal communication they were all broadcasting without even realising. Like himself, Dhas had been on the Resolute since he’d graduated, first as an assistant counsellor before ultimately becoming chief head shrinker, though his talents, knowledge and skills made him an expert diplomat and top notch xenologist. Given their years together, Rofe permitted Dhas (and the other counsellors onboard) more relaxed attire—which the Napean took full advantage of. Today he was sporting a green and grey tunic over matching trousers, with his combadge pinned to his left pectoral.

    He stepped up on the dais and was quickly followed by his three teammates. This was the moment he missed most since making captain, the thrill of the unknown that was just seconds away, never knowing if it would be good or bad. His last XO had been similar to Hunter, rarely letting him off the ship, but B8 Red knew that there were instances he’d ignore the regs and lead the mission and there was no arguing with him—he wondered how the Nasat would adjust to the change now that she’d earned her fourth pip.

    After a steadying breath, he nodded at Chief Bauer. “Energise.”

    A moment later, the quartet were enveloped in the transporter beam and in just eight seconds their molecules were reformed on the platform of Henod Outpost. Standing before them was a petite human woman with a pixie haircut, her rank clearly identifying her as Commander Tighe, and beside her was a towering Betelgeusian in long robes, holding himself with the demeanour of a politician, from reading up on the field office he knew that would be Envoy Ruuit’jir Hill’uth.

    Due to their mission of Henod II, the pair were both commanders in their own right. Tighe was in charge of the outpost operations, as well as analysis of the Dinaar’s logistical, technical and military capabilities. Hill’uth on the other hand was there to study their cultural and political landscape, assessing whether they had what it took to be worthy members of the United Federation of Planets.

    “Captain, welcome to Henod. I’m Commander Tighe and this is Envoy Hill’uth.”

    “Unfortunately the circumstances are less than ideal,” intoned Hill’uth.

    The away team stepped down onto the same level and right away Rofe knew that the height difference between the two was going to a nuisance, Tighe barely reached his combadge whilst Hill’uth stood head and shoulders over him.

    “Well we’re here to help however we can. This is Counsellor Dhas and Lieutenants Cela and Adamos.” With introductions and pleasantries completed, he looked from Tighe to Hill’uth. “Now, can someone please let me know just what this is all about?”

    “If you’ll follow me to the conference room we can give you a full rundown.”

    “Lead the way, Commander.”

    Stepping out of the transporter room, he took note of the armed security guard at the entrance. Whatever the situation was, they had clearly appraised the threat to be serious—though with having communications knocked out he could understand the need for precautions. The surroundings were like those of any Starfleet ship or station, except when they passed a viewport instead of dark space there was a sunny cityscape to look upon, making the place feel familiar and alien at the same time.

    The group rode a lift to one of the upper levels and then carried on until they entered a spacious meeting room, the windows once again allowing an unobstructed view of the capitol. The outpost had been established on the outskirts of the city, providing them with the space needed for the facility whilst also being close to the planetary government chambers and municipal buildings.

    As soon as they sat down, Tighe activated the monitors. “It all started six months ago, when an outlying group began to broadcast proclamations that the Tyrants would be returning, listing a number of recent events as signs and portents that what they were saying was true.”

    “‘Tyrants’?” Dhas asked simply.

    Hill’uth leant forward, his large hands clasped on the table top. “The Dinaar are not native to Henod II that much is irrefutable, due to ecological, medical and archaeological evidence, though just how they came to be here is disputed. Three thousand years ago they just appeared on the planet. The most commonly held theory is that they were transplanted here by the Preservers, or some other similarly advanced and benevolent race, though there are others that believe the Dinaar were more of a science experiment and taken here to be studied. Then there is a minority that argue their race were once slaves and a revolt against their oppressors, or ‘the Tyrants’ as they are referred too, led to them gaining their freedom.”

    “And this group believes that these oppressors are coming back after three thousand years?” Cela questioned.

    “So they say,” the Betelgeusians tone made it clear that he didn’t put much faith in the notion.

    “I see.”

    Rofe shared the scepticism of his security chief and the diplomat. Though they were trained to keep an open mind about alien cultures and their beliefs, that didn’t mean they just accepted everything without question—they were explorers after all.

    “This group lives in some of the remotest areas of the planet,” Tighe continued. “They’ve foregone pretty much all modern technology, with the belief that it will attract the Tyrants back to Henod II in order to punish them for their revolt and either enslave them once again or eradicate them.”

    “That’s why they attacked your communications array,” Adamos piped up.

    Tighe glanced at the youngest attendee of the meeting and shrugged. “That’s our theory, makes as much sense as anything else.”

    “So what sort of signs is this group pointing too as proof?”

    “You name it, they’re claiming it, Counsellor. The planet is entering a natural period of cooling, our planetary scientists say that a mini ice age is on the way, but this has meant flooding in some areas, shorter growing seasons, and this last winter has been one of the coldest on record, lasting longer than previous years. This group however won’t listen to our or the Dinaari experts.”

    Tighe hesitated for a noticeable moment, causing Rofe to frown as he studied the young human. “Whilst all of that is perfectly understandable to those willing to listen to science, there is one rumour that’s harder to explain. Due to that, I did debate bringing it up, but you might be able to make sense of it.”

    “What’s the mystery?” he asked, leaning forward.

    “There are a number of the group that have reported having dreams and visions of the Tyrants return. It was just one or two at first, not something to be taken too seriously—especially for what is essentially a doomsday cult—but over the last six months hundreds of their members started reporting similar experiences. Again, this sort of mass hysteria is not unheard of in groups like these, but then others with no association to them started reporting the same thing.

    “I’ve had our medical staff examine a few of them, but they can’t find anything out of the ordinary—unless you count their heightened stress hormones and neurological activity, which is to be expected when you hear just how graphic some of these experiences seem to be.”

    Dhas looked from Tighe to Hill’uth. “The Dinaar have no history of telepathic or empathic abilities, correct?”

    “No reported cases of any such ability as far back as their records go,” the diplomat confirmed.

    “I take it the results of these medicals are include with the reports you’ve transmitted to the Resolute?”

    Tighe nodded. “They are, Captain. As well as full psychological and sociological profiling reports on the Dinaar that we’ve compiled ever since the outpost was established.”

    “Good, we should be able to get a feel for the locals from a more outside perspective.”

    “That’s what we’re hoping, sir, that your crew pick up on something we’ve overlooked.”

    Cela, whose face was tight as she listened to all that was being discussed, sat forward. “This is a minority group, right?”

    “It is, though with all these reports and the scare mongering its caused there are more people paying attention to what they’re saying.”

    “Why then did you inform the Captain that it might be necessary to evacuate all your personnel from the planet?”

    Tighe and Hill’uth shared a noticeable look with one another before the Starfleet officer replied. “A week ago, just before the comm array was taken out, four members of the staff were enjoying some leave in one of the cities in the southern hemisphere when they were attacked one night. They were all beaten, one of them is still recovering from his injuries. Throughout the attack, they heard sayings and rhetoric they recognised related to outlier group.

    “We launched an investigation, but it soon became apparent that the local authorities in the area were sympathetic to the group and stonewalled us at every opportunity. Others, both on- and off-duty, have noticed themselves being watched and spoken about, some have been aware of crowds gathering around them, there’s also been some instances of graffiti throughout the capitol stating that our presence is the reason for the Tyrant’s returning and wanting us to leave.”

    Rofe’s eyes were wide as he listened. If he’d been running the outpost, that would’ve been where he started—though he suspected Tighe was being pressured from superiors to make sure the Dinaar passed the necessary assessments, ensuring Starfleet an important staging ground should the Tzenkethi Autarch have their eye on expansion once again. The security guards in the hallways made sense now, given what they were facing.

    “How many people do you have on the planet?” he asked.

    “The outpost has a crew of one hundred fifty, but there are also a few survey teams and corporate representatives dotted all over the planet—who we’ve issued security alerts too, given what happened to our staff—so maybe around two hundred in total.”

    The Resolute had a crew of six hundred, pretty much standard for an Excelsior-Class ship, and could carry one hundred passengers in comfort though her evacuation capacity was over eight thousand, so she could more than handle those on the planet. However, they couldn’t order the private citizens to leave, despite the safety concerns, even tracking them down could prove difficult. They would also have the issue of recovering all Federation technology, to ensure that none of it fell into the wrong hands—either on the planet or through the black market.

    “We can handle that, however the decision to evacuate will be yours, if that’s what you deem the best course of action we’ll be ready to receive you,” he told the outpost personnel. “What assurances or protection can the government provide?”

    “They are denouncing the groups’ broadcasts and actions, so they are saying all the right things, however they are taking a very heavy hand against any gatherings or marches the group are staging—which only seems to elicit more sympathy from the general population. Our intelligence indicates that some prominent politicians are trying to curry favour with the group, in order to bolster their own position with new supporters. The entire situation seems to deteriorate each day.”

    Rofe nodded slowly, mulling over his options. Starfleet couldn’t risk losing such a strategic planet, though what was going on was the definition of an internal matter, which meant that the Prime Directive applied. The unbalanced position of the government and the new hostility directed towards the Federation from the public meant that their presence on the planet was at risk.

    “I’ll report the situation here to Admiral Sahlet, see what he makes of it. In the meantime, if you need any security backup or logistical support then Lielle and Niko here will provide you with whatever you need.”

    “Thank you, Captain, that’s appreciated."

    * * * * *
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
    CeJay, mthompson1701, tax1234 and 2 others like this.
  3. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Pretty great story so far. I did notice some punctuation oopsits. I just thought I would point that out. I hope that's okay. :)
     
  4. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
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    Admiral Sahlet was a startling man to behold, especially for those who’d never met a Gallamite before. It was always hard to say just what feature grabbed one’s attention upon first meeting him; the transparent cranium and large brain, twice the size of a humans (or even a Bolians), was definitely at the top, but his bright golden yellow were a close second. Back when Rofe had first met then-Captain Sahlet his scaly skin had been an almost electric purple (making it another feature that drew the eye), but as he’d aged the colour had lightened to a warm lilac. The striking looking man had been his first CO onboard the Resolute and taken him under his wing, teaching him all he needed to know and setting him on the path that would lead to Rofe one day sitting in his old seat.

    “That is one helluva a conundrum you’ve got on your hands there, Jin,” he stated, even after all the years he’d flown a desk he was still a plain spoken man. “What would you like to do?”

    Rofe smiled to himself. Sahlet was never one to just give an answer, he wanted those under him to devise their own strategies and solutions and then argue their case, as he gleefully played devil’s advocate—a tactic Rofe himself used on occasion.

    “Honestly, Admiral, I’d like to find the leaders of this ‘cult’ and start banging their heads together. The fact that they’re taking things to this level is worrying—even if we manage to salvage the situation and get the Dinaar back on track for membership, this whole incident should make the Federation Council pause for a moment.”

    “I’d have to agree—about the membership matter, not the cracking heads. Headquarters will be adamant that the strategic worth of the planet is the deciding factor, even with a P.D. matter to contend with.”

    “I’d like to meet with the planetary government to see if we can reach some sort of agreement on proceeding, one that scales back the excessive force they’re using and ensure that the safety of off-worlders is taken more seriously.”

    “Do you have misgivings about Envoy Hill’uth’s efforts?”

    Rofe shook his head, despite the brief nature of their meeting he didn’t get the impression the diplomat was bad at his job or been negligent in any way, this just felt like a situation where an external point of view might get better results. He said as much to Sahlet, who nodded in agreement.

    “Before having to face evacuation, I think that we should try exhausting all possible diplomatic avenues.”

    “Agreed. Make sure you have plans for evac on standby, but I’d say this would be an instance to put some faith behind Jin the Djinn.”

    He chuckled at the nickname he’d earned during the early years of his career, having a knack for achieving some truly spectacular results when the odds were against him, such as the time he’d managed to extract the crew of a sinking aquashuttle in a hastily modified type-five shuttlecraft. If it hadn’t been for the likes of Sahlet taking the time to encourage him and push him he might never have succeeded when faced with difficult odds, which was why he made a point of seeking out others that needed the same chance.

    “I’ll try and not disappoint you, Admiral.”

    “Just do what you can, Jinad, I’ll keep the rest of the brass off your back for as long as I can.”

    “Greatly appreciated, sir.”

    “Keep me in the loop. Sahlet out.”

    * * * * *

    After a quick briefing, where the Captain had laid out his plan and thus his intention to return to the surface to attempt his own diplomatic solution (much to the ire of Commander Hunter), Lieutenant Lielle Cela would once again be accompanying him and Counsellor Dhas to the planet. Whilst a security team hadn’t been needed before, given they’d not left the field office, the second time round they were beaming directly into the plaza before the planetary government building but he still refused additional security guards.

    This time Cela opted for the more powerful and more prominent type-two phaser secured to her waist, whilst Rofe and Dhas stuck with the type-one. She could understand why the Captain was making such a statement with their beaming into an open public place, he wanted to show that Starfleet wasn’t worried about the minority faction, that their commitment to Henod II was just as strong and important as it had been, even if that was a stretch given what had been going on in recent weeks.

    Once they materialised, the shimmering lights of the transporter beam drawing the awe and wonder of many in the plaza (amazed by something she, and everyone else in the Federation, took for granted). Within seconds of feeling the warm sun on her face and the faint whiff of something akin to honeysuckle on the breeze, she was taking note of how many people were in the square, starting with those nearest them, as well as buildings that could be used as a sniper’s perch, or any behaviour among the locals that felt out of place. Within moments she was satisfied they were in no immediate danger, so fell into step on Rofe’s righthand side.

    Many of the Dinaar stopped and stared at the trio of aliens that had appeared, which gave her a chance to look them over. On the whole they were a little shorter than most, none of those present above 1.6 meters, with olive green skin, blond or white hair, and solid black eyes.

    As their meeting had been arranged, thanks to Envoy Hill’uth, the away team entered the building foyer where an aide met them and ushered them straight through to the office level. The Federation diplomat had offered to accompany them to meet with Premier Galgoj, but the Captain had politely declined, wanting to get a feel for the politician on his own. Led to his office, Cela took note of the two armed guards beside the entrance as the aide knocked on the heavy wooden door and waited to be given permission to enter. As soon as it was given, the two guards stepped in and opened both the doors, their eyes locked on her own holstered weapon.

    Rofe led the trio inside. The Premier’s office was ornate, with high ceilings, thick carpet, large paintings and sculptures lining the walls, whilst a large desk dominated the centre of the room. Galgoj remained seated whilst only a pair of chairs sat opposite him.

    The Captain stopped before the desk and bowed slightly. “Premier, thank you for agreeing to meet with us. I am Jinad Rofe, Captain of the U.S.S. Resolute. This is my diplomatic advisor Ha’vayn Dhas and security chief Lielle Cela.”

    “Captain, welcome. I wish this meeting were under better circumstances,” Galgoj said with the typical smarm of a politician. He gestured to the chairs. “Please, have a seat.”

    Cela made no move to sit, allowing Rofe and Dhas to do so, drawing a suspicious glance from Galgoj.

    “I’ll have another chair brought in.”

    “Not necessary, Premier, I’m quite happy to stand,” she interrupted.

    His black eyes narrowed for a fleeting second before he focused on Rofe again, allowing her a moment to survey the room once more. She suddenly took note of no surveillance or security systems in the room, which meant that he could do anything in the room and have no evidence of his actions. It wasn’t enough for her to reach for her phaser, but she did take note of the ornamental dagger on a stand.

    “Premier, the current situation on Hinod two has my superiors worried, given the sway this so-called outlying group seem to possess.”

    “They have perfected the art of propaganda, given they have so little in the way of followers or political power, they have to make the most of the tools they have at their disposal. It is not something to be worried about, we are responding to their rumblings promptly.”

    “Sending in armed troops to break up peaceful gatherings, dragging away leaders and indeterminate incarceration would seem to be excessive.”

    Galgoj scowled, clearly not expecting Starfleet to be kept so well apprised of just what the governmental forces were up to. “I thought that the Federation didn’t concern itself with a planets internal matters.”

    “Not usually, however the attack on four members of our field office has raised concerns over the safety and well-being of our people here. This animosity only seems to be growing after all of your responses.”

    “Captain,” the Dinaar began, clearly trying to maintain his veil of civility, “I know what is in the best interests of my people, and our actions are taken to keep everyone safe. The last thing I want is instability, though your showing up may only exacerbate matters.”

    Rofe frowned though kept his tone polite. “May I ask what you mean by that, Premier?”

    “Whilst the Tyrants may be nothing but a myth, this planet is in a very precarious place, one that makes it strategically important to Starfleet, however in all our generations here we have never been under threat from the Tzenkethi, unlike some of our neighbouring systems. Should we enter the Federation though, we make ourselves a target and attract unwanted attention from a barbarous race—which has led some that believe in them to brand the Federation as the Tyrants, inviting the potential for attack and invasion.”

    “You can’t believe that Premier? Should Henod two become a member, you would have the full force of Starfleet behind you to defend your world and people.”

    “There are a growing number in the Chamber that believe we should forgo Federation membership, believing the threat we’d face to be far greater than the gains.”

    Cela couldn’t believe what she was hearing, instead of a meeting to ask them to tone down their law enforcement response and seek a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, the meeting had spun out into an area none of them had expected. Thankfully, Rofe and Dhas were veterans of negotiations and didn’t show their hand, whilst Cela had worked hard to perfect her own poker face—something that came in very handy when interviewing suspects. The Captain took a momentary pause before replying.

    “Premier, we cannot force you to enter the Federation, all we can do is lay out the benefits that doing so will bring your planet. I won’t lie and say that there aren’t risks involved, but that is something we all must accept when venturing out into space—it’s a dangerous place, the best we can hope for is to find allies that will support us when we need it most.”

    “The Chamber will be convening this evening to debate the matter further, though I hope that they will follow through on our original desire to join the Federation, the voices asking for us to find other sources of support continue to grow louder.”

    “I would be willing to go before the Chamber and—”

    “No!” Galgoj snapped, with such force that it gave the Starfleeters a start. “Our Chamber is for Dinaar only, to maintain the sanctity of our decision it must remain closed to all others.”

    Rofe and Dhas shared a look. Though Cela was still new to the Resolute, the two men had served together for a number of years and clearly knew each other well as no words were spoken. Even from where she stood she knew that they weren’t going to be getting anywhere with the meeting, the very one they’d hoped would salvage the situation seemed to have had the exact opposite result.

    For his part, Rofe merely bowed his head again respectfully. “Of course, Premier. We won’t take up any more of your time. We’ll wait to hear the outcome of the session and the Chambers’ decision.”

    “Very well, Captain,” replied Galgoj, who tapped a control on his desk. A moment later, the double doors they’d entered through opened once again, the guards eying them all.

    Rofe and Dhas rose from their chairs and they withdrew from the office, the doors closing immediately behind them with a resounding thud. The aide who had showed them in escorted them back to the buildings entrance. No words were uttered by the away team until they were outside the government building and going down the steps to the open plaza.

    “Impressions?” Rofe asked as he glanced at Dhas.

    “Everything I could pick up from him would suggest a borderline sociopath, not unsurprising for a politician of course, but there is definitely something more going on with him. I can’t say what, but he’s definitely hiding something.”

    “Lieutenant?”

    “I get the sneaking suspicion that not one thing said in there was the truth.”

    “Like I said, politician.”

    Rofe chuckled at the counsellor’s quip. “Whatever his agenda, it’s clear that there’s nothing I can say that will make him change his mind. All we can really do is wait and see.”

    Cela nodded in agreement, not liking the idea but with no other options their hands were tied—the Prime Directive would say they were already overstepping the mark.

    The Captain tapped his combadge. “Rofe to Resolute. Three to beam up.”

    * * * * *
     
  5. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Interesting set up for this story. And of course, I'm always a sucker for any fan fic starring an Excelsior-class ship. :)
    Good attention to detail regarding shipboard protocols, too. It all rings with authenticity.

    Also like the character morsel about Rofe giving opportunities to personnel that others might not.

    Looking forward to how this plays out!
     
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  6. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    T.L. Hunter sat on Captain Rofe’s right at the conference table, listening to his summation of meeting with the Dinaar Premier, also present were Lieutenant Commander Tenadii, Counsellor Dhas, Lieutenant Cela, Lieutenant Eren Jalar, and Doctor Ryn Karek. It was disappointing to hear the diplomatic overture had gone so poorly, as well as what the cessation of the membership process would mean for Starfleet operations in the sector—a glance around the table made it clear he wasn’t the only one with such thoughts.

    He was also once again struck by the eclectic and unusual that Captain’s taste was in officers. Hunter had only been onboard for a week, barely enough time to get to know his new CO, or anyone onboard the Excelsior-Class ship, so he wasn’t entirely aware if there were underlying reasons for his choices or not. Rofe was a hard man to get a read on, other than being decidedly unconventional.

    “So, that’s where we stand with the future of Federation-Dinaar relations,” he stated, sounding mildly annoyed. He looked around the table at the assembled officers. “I’m hoping you folks have been having a decidedly better day than I have.”

    There was a moment pause before Jalar cleared his throat. The chief engineer was a Bajoran, the first one Hunter had met let alone served with, given his world was currently occupied by the Cardassian Union (seemingly a sticking point in the peace talks).

    “My team has returned from the outpost, sir. Repairs to their communications array are complete and they have bother short-range and subspace arrays fully operational.”

    “Nice work, Lieutenant. Though I hope they’re operational for many years to come, if we need to evac the field office and remove all key systems and equipment, are we in a position to handle that?”

    “I don’t see why not, sir. While we won’t be able to recover the whole outpost, the sensitive tech is designed to be quickly retrieved—assuming the crew down there have the time to disconnect everything. Our cargo transporters can definitely handle it from there.”

    “Good. What about these signs this ‘cult’ are claiming?”

    “I’ve confirmed the planetary science teams findings, the planet is starting to enter a mini ice age, likely to really begin in the next fifteen to twenty years. Until then, the planet will experience more flooding, longer and harsher winters, shorter growing seasons. It may not be the return of the Tyrants, but it’ll definitely test them.”

    Like with Counsellor Dhas, Commander Tenadii was another long-serving officer that the Captain seemed to listen to. Given that they’d have been through all manner of missions and incidents together it wasn’t unsurprising, though it did leave Hunter feeling like the odd man out—more so with the scientist, given she was also their second officer. That being said, she had welcomed him aboard warmly, never went around him to put reports to the Captain directly, or resisted his orders, but being someone who’d earned their CO’s trust would always be something he’d have to put in time and effort to achieve.

    “Thank you, Hera,” Rofe said, before looking between Tenadii and Karek. “What about these ‘visions’?”

    The powerfully built Brikar physician sat forward. “Looking at the results of the tests and examinations carried out by the outposts medical staff, I was struck by similarities with an experiment being run at the Anci Institute on Delta four.” She tapped on the control panel in front of her and brought the monitor to life. The Starfleet Medical emblem was displayed for a moment before being replaced with various graphics and analysis reports.

    “The experiment was into telepathic research. As some of you may be aware, there are a few telepathic races that can project their thoughts into non-telepathic individuals, creating a sort of psychic link across which they can communicate. This link cannot be detected with sensors nor can it be dampened other than through considerable distance. As you can imagine, Starfleet Intelligence has always been interested in the area, though such mental connections are usually only the result of intense and intimate bonds between individuals.

    “The subject of the research was to see if such a psionic bridge could be established between individuals with no prior connection. After only a few tests, it quickly became apparent that the attempt caused considerable mental stress or fatigue for both parties. The results of the Dinaar brain scans do seem reminiscent of those of the experiment on Delta, so I would theorise that some sort of forced telepathic projection is being used on the victims. Exactly how and by who I cannot say however.”

    Rofe nodded thoughtfully. “We have a possibly answer for what is happening to them, it gives us a launching off point for—”

    The whistle of the intercom cut him off. “Captain to the bridge,” Lieutenant Adamos’ announced, his voice tight.

    In the blink of an eye, the Bolian was on his feet and heading for the exit, Hunter and the other senior officers close behind. The conference room was located just behind the bridge module, so it took them less than fifteen seconds to enter the starships command centre.

    Lieutenant Onahl’s tactical console stood in the aft alcove, between the command chair and the master systems display monitor, the J’naii’s fingers were dancing across their controls faster than his eyes could track. Adamos and Vsshar were at their customary positions as the rest of the senior staff entered and Rofe approached his chair.

    “Report.”

    “Sensors are picking up a massive earthquake, the epicentre is under the capital city.”

    Hunter stepped over to the science station as Tenadii slipped into her seat and started studying the screens. He glanced at the incoming data, though not a geologist he quickly noted that it was registering seven-point-seven which meant it wasn’t just a minor tremor. Tenadii noticed the results as well, then brought up another sensor display.

    “Captain, this is a major quake, it’s peaking at seven-point-seven-two and it’s only now starting to ease. I don’t know where it’s coming from, there are no fault lines or volcanos within six hundred kilometres of the city.”

    Rofe turned to him. “Commander, start prepping emergency response teams for deployment.”

    “Aye sir,” he replied and looked at the three department heads he needed. “Jalar, start pulling together whatever equipment we’ll need for lifting debris and stabilising damaged buildings. Doctor, I need ever medic you can spare. Cela, I want security escorts for every team.”

    As the three confirmed his orders and headed for the turbolifts, he heard Adamos report, “Captain, I’ve been trying to raise the outpost, but I can’t get through.”

    Jalar stopped in his tracks and turned back to the centre of the bridge. “Captain, I assure you their array was fully repaired and operational.”

    “I don’t doubt your work, Lieutenant.”

    Hunter wasn’t quite as sure as the Captain seemed to be. He’d read Jalar’s service jacket and knew that he had a habit of cutting corners and using non-standard parts and techniques in his repair work, it was something that had been on his record since the Academy.

    “Hang on, I’m getting a signal through…that can’t be right.”

    “What is it, Niko?”

    “I’m getting multiple identical transmissions coming from across the planet, it looks like every transceiver is sending out the same message—even on Starfleet frequencies.”

    “Put it up.”

    It took the ops manager a moment to get over his disbelief and put the mysterious message emanating from the planet onto the viewscreen. The image of the peaceful looking world they orbited was replaced with what looked to be a live stream from the capital city, where buildings lay in ruin, fires raged, people shuffled around, crying, shouting, or screaming, whilst smoke and dust filled the air.

    “The ground will shake and shatter when the Tyrants set foot upon our lands once more,” an ominous distorted voice announced, sounding as though reciting some form of scripture. All chatter and noise on the bridge fell silent. “You were warned that the signs were there, yet you did nothing, now you must suffer the consequences of your hubris.”

    The image slowly panned around the remains of the city until it turned in the direction of the Starfleet outpost and stopped. The vaguely mushroom-shaped main building, with its walkways leading to several smaller, more angular structures, were all still standing (not unsurprising given they were designed to cope with earthquakes, reinforced with structural integrity field generators).

    “Little did we know, the Tyrants were already here.”

    Hunter felt his stomach clench as the meaning of their message struck him like a punch in the gut. He rested a hand on the bulkhead beside the science station to steady himself as realisations spread around the bridge like wildfire. This reportedly small and insignificant group, essentially a doomsday cult, were declaring war on the Federation. He had to give it to them, however they’d managed to pull off all their theatrics would undoubtedly sway the masses to their cause, which meant that every non-Dinaari on the planet was now a target for their vengeance.

    “We must revolt once more to free ourselves for the Tyrants grip!”

    With the call to arms the transmission ended. The viewscreen returned to showing Henod II as a tranquil green, blue and white marble beneath them.

    Before anyone could say a word, the companel on ops chirped. Adamos shook his head and responded to it, then glanced back at Rofe. “I’ve got the outpost, sir.”

    His voice hollow, Rofe said, “On screen.”

    The pale and anxious face of Commander Tighe appeared, she was visibly shaken by what they had undoubtedly just heard. “I…I take it you saw that as well.”

    “We did, Commander. What’s your situation down there?”

    “Everyone in the field office is fine. We were just starting to prepare response teams after the quake, when that signal sliced through our communications security protocols and appeared on every screen. Our scans show that there appear to be several mobs already heading our way.”

    Just then, Envoy Hill’uth stepped into view of the screen. Even the Betelgeusians inscrutable face showed his shock and horror at what he’d just seen. “I’ve tried to contact Premier Galgoj, but have received no response. All my contacts within the government have gone silent. It would seem that out mission here has been a failure.”

    Rofe shook his head. “I have a decidedly unpleasant feeling it was never meant to succeed from the very beginning, Envoy.”

    “That remains to be seen, Captain, however I believe we must evacuate immediately, for the safety of everyone here.”

    “I concur.”

    “Understood, begin evac procedure. I’m dispatching additional security teams to bolster your defences until everyone is out.”

    He tapped his combadge. “Hunter to Cela. Belay relief team prep. Assemble heavily armed teams in transporter rooms one through four, on the double. You are to protect the outpost during evacuation protocol.”

    Despite only being moments since she’d left the bridge, likely not having seen the threatening message, and the complete reversal of her previous orders, Cela wasted no time questioning him. “Understood. Deployment in four minutes.”

    Hunter took a step closer to Rofe, putting him in position to be seen by the pair on the screen. “Security teams will be beaming down in a matter of minutes.”

    Rofe glanced back at him and gave a single nod, before focusing on the screen once more. “Once you’re all safely onboard, we can try to pick apart just what is going on here.”

    “Thank you, sir. We’ll keep you apprised of any developments down here.”

    “Understood. Resolute out.”

    The screen once again returned to the misleading view of the planet. For a moment, no one seemed to breath as they all took stock of just what had happened over the last five minutes, and how the entire situation was completely frakked.

    “Niko, Hera. Run every scan we have on that planet and in orbit, hunt down any and all anomalous readings. There has to be a reason people are being the victims of telepathic attacks on a world with no telepaths, and why a city with no history of earthquakes has just been decimated by a major one,” Rofe stated, his usual light-hearted and jovial tone was hard edged.

    “Onahl, sound yellow alert and be ready for any surprises. Commander, you have the bridge, I have to report our mission status to the admiral.”

    * * * * *
     
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  7. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Evacuation was underway, all non-essential personnel had already been beamed aboard the Resolute, and all other Federation citizens on Henod II had been alerted of the danger and were being rescued. It was a logistical headache but, with Adamos having specific orders from the Captain, Hunter was keeping on top of their progress.

    As much as Adamos wanted to try and keep on top of the evac and scan the surface, he knew that he couldn’t do everything and would need to focus in on one task. So, he was determined to give their scans his all. Though they’d been running scans continuously, they hadn’t really known just what it was they were looking for—granted, they still didn’t know what, but they did know that there had to be some sort of outside force at play.

    He and Tenadii had decided to make the most of their talents, so whilst he scanned from orbit to the surface and down into the crust, the science officer was analysing telemetry and delegated certain data streams to experts in her section. Henod II was around one and a half times the size of Earth, as such their progress would be slow to cover the entire globe, though he’d recommended the use of some probes in order to help them scan the far side of the planet.

    So far however, they hadn’t detected anything.

    What was he missing? With everything regarding the Dinaari fallen apart so completely, the very least they could do was come up with some sort of answer, something that might help the next mission to the system achieve more than they had.

    He’d become so engrossed in what he might’ve missed that he almost missed the error message pop up on his screen. Luckily though he caught it and focused in on what the sensors had registered. Directly beneath the capital city there seemed to be an area that had resulted in mixed readings. Approximately fifty meters under the city there was a space, approximately half the size of their aft shuttlebay, scans seemed to switch from reading solid rock to empty space.

    A quick diagnostic showed that the sensors were fully operational and there were no other odd readings anywhere in the vicinity. It was possibly that it could’ve been a sensor ghost, or maybe a patch of sensor-reflective minerals or metals, whatever it was however was a clue—the first one he’d found.

    Setting the sensors to continuously scan, he sent his discovery through to Tenadii before trotting up to the science console, arriving just as she opened his find.

    “What’s this?” she asked as she started to look over the data.

    He quickly filled her in as she continued to read. “Do we have any geological scans from previous ships to compare the findings too?”

    “We’ve got the original first contact, then all the usual follow up visits, setting up of the outpost,” the Māori scientist stated as she already started to compare scan data.

    Adamos stayed at the large station to help with the analysis, though as Tenadii looked at previous ships he looked at their own scans. They hadn’t run any geo-scans until the earthquake, at which point they’d swept the entire region down to the mantle.

    “This doesn’t appear on any other ship that visited Henod II in the last four years, which means this isn’t a deposit of some kind. All sensor diagnostics show no malfunction. So, I’d definitely say this is something—exactly what, I don’t know.”

    Suddenly, he saw something on the monitor that made his heart quicken. “Look at this!”

    She wheeled over to him and looked at what he’d found. As soon as she saw it they shared a grin, before she spun back to the captain’s chair. “Commander, we’ve got something.”

    * * * * *

    Rofe stood at his viewport, looking down on the planet they orbited. As he’d expected, Admiral Sahlet had been disappointed at his report, though fully supported the preservation of Federation lives over the needs of the mission. Of course this would only be the beginning of things, Rofe was expecting a call any minute from Headquarters during which he’d be thoroughly chewed out for his apparent failure.

    Sahlet would support him, that was a given, and a few others would hear him out, but he knew there were hardliners among the admiralty that would be out for his commission. Unconsciously, he rested a hand on the viewport frame and affectionately stroked the only starship he’d ever served on—the only she he wanted to be aboard, only planning to retire from the fleet when the Resolute did.

    The door chime broken his lamenting. “Enter,” he called, turning towards the entrance to his ready room as Hunter, Tenadii and Adamos stepped into his office.

    His first officer was inscrutable but going by the expressions on the others’ faces he knew they’d found something.

    “You’ve found something?”

    “Underneath the capital city, there’s a location our sensors can’t get an accurate reading on,” began Adamos.

    “It doesn’t exist on scans from any other ship to come here, and the sensors are fully operational, so we think it’s some sort of artificially constructed cavern that’s being hidden by some sort of cloaking device,” Tenadii finished.

    “What makes you say that?” he asked, looking from the science officer to the ops manager.

    The lieutenant commander gestured for the youngest officer. Adamos’ smile made him look even younger before he reined it in. “When the earthquake began, we started scanning the crust, looking for a source, but could find anything. We kept scanning for the fifty-eight seconds the quake lasted, after thirty-two the abnormality appeared. All the shaking must’ve damaged or misaligned whatever cloaking field was being employed.”

    “Then the transmission and evacuation of the outpost drew our attention away from the quake,” he thought aloud.

    “Captain, they wish to beam down to investigate, however given the unknown nature of the scans and the fact we’re currently carrying out a full evac, I’d advise against it.”

    Rofe looked from the eager blue and gold clad officers to his more reserved XO. He took a moment to weigh up their options. He had to agree with Hunter, there were too many variables and they didn’t exactly have any transporters free. However, they had a possible answer to some of their questions within their grasp.

    “What is the situation at the outpost?”

    “Lieutenant Cela reports that the base is surrounded by people, a full-on riot has erupted with participants throwing debris and firing weapons at them. Their defences are holding, though she couldn’t ascertain how long they would hold. The evacuation is proceeding at a steady pace, non-essential personnel and twenty percent of critical equipment are aboard.”

    “If we beamed a test cylinder in and out of that ‘disturbance’, how long would you need to analyse telemetry?”

    Hunter’s near permanent scowl deepened as Tenadii and Adamos shared a look.

    “We beam a cylinder in for thirty seconds, it’d take a couple of minutes to check for air, radiation, and all other indicators it was safe,” she said.

    Rofe thought for a moment longer before nodding. “Run a test transport, if everything is safe down there, then you’ve got a green light.”

    “Thank you, sir.”

    “Let me know as soon as you have results, Hera.”

    “Of course.” With that she and Adamos scarpered out of the ready room.

    Hunter didn’t budge a centimetre.

    When the doors closed, he stiffened his already rigid posture. “Permission to speak candidly, sir.”

    “Of course, Commander.”

    “Captain, why did you request me as your First Officer if you won’t listen to my opinion or heed my advice? Sending anyone into that chamber, if it even exists, is too great a risk!”

    Rofe chuckled to himself. “For Command Management at the Academy, I was lucky enough to have retired Vice Admiral John Harriman, former captain of the Enterprise-B, as my professor. On the very first day, he told us all the most important piece of advice he’d ever received about starship command—something he got on what he called his ‘worst best day’.

    “It was the day he took the Enterprise out on its public relations run, I’m sure you’ll have read how that went,” he paused long enough for Hunter to nod. “He told us that ‘risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair’. Up to that point, Harriman had been very much like you, Commander. Sticking to the rules, not allowing much bend or flex in order to complete a mission—that will get you so far, but if you truly want to have your shot at captaincy, you need to be ready and willing to take chances and gamble on impossible odds.”

    “Throw the rulebook out the airlock, you mean.”

    “No, Commander. You need to adhere to the rules, but you have to know when they can be bent enough to make the right difference. That is why I requested you as my new XO. You have gotten far in your career doing things by the book, but you need to learn how to take risks, even putting your career or life on the line in order to truly know what it’s like to have the weight of that fourth pip on your collar.”

    Hunter was silent, the annoyed scowl having morphed into something akin to puzzled bewilderment. It was a lot to offload on the younger man, but it was something he needed to hear and begin to digest if he was to ever be ready for commanding a ship of his own one day. He was highly capable, decorated for his dedication to duty, and clearly had the makings of an exceptional leader, if he listened to his gut a little more and got his head out the rulebook every once in a while.

    “Commander, if that underground chamber checks out, I want you leading the team down there. I’ll handle the evacuation.”

    The human straightened up once again, his expression shifting back to its resting poker face. “Understood, sir.”

    * * * * *
     
  8. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    As the away team beamed down, Hunter kept his focus on what might be awaiting them in the subterranean cavern—having compartmentalised what Captain Rofe had said to him, he would need to think about that later. The test cylinder had shown a breathable atmosphere and no signs of life, but that didn’t stop him from beaming down with his phaser drawn.

    Two things hit him as soon as they materialised: the complete darkness and the humid heat. The trio activated their palm beacons and quickly checked out their surroundings, only to find just what their probe had told them they’d find, rough craggy rocks made up the floor walls and ceiling—though seeing it for themselves showed them the damage the earthquake had caused, with cracks heading off in all directions. Drips of condensation fell from the roof of the cave, some forming puddles in the uneven ground.

    He holstered his phaser and tapped his combadge. “Hunter to Resolute.”

    “Go ahead, Commander.”

    “Transport successful. We’re about to begin investigating the cave.”

    “Acknowledged. We’ve got a strong signal lock on all three of you.”

    “We’ll keep you apprised of our findings. Hunter out.”

    Tenadii and Adamos were already scanning, their beacons point in various directions as their tricorders chirped and beeped. The oppressive heat of the cavern made him tug at the collar of his uniform, reminding him why he preferred the cold. He took his own tricorder from his belt and began to scan, but whilst the others were focused on the cave itself, he kept an eye out for signs of life. The atmosphere of the place made it feel as though someone was watching them.

    “This cave is definitely not natural,” stated Tenadii, her voice bouncing off every surface. “I’d hazard a guess that all the rock down here was beamed out, it’s definitely not been a professional mining job.”

    Hunter turned to face her. “Beamed? You’re sure?”

    “I’ve seen something similar to this before, the results aren’t pretty but it is effective at making holes in a short space of time.”

    “Unless the Dinaar have been keeping their development of transporter technology a secret, it definitely looks as though another party is at work here,” he concluded. “Could the sudden beaming out of all this rock have caused the quake?”

    The science officer shook her head. “The rest of the ground around this gap is still stable. If this was the size of the Resolute it might have contributed, but not something this small.”

    He shone his beacon onto the nearest wall, highlighting the cracks. “This doesn’t look very stable to me.”

    “Admittedly, I wouldn’t want to be here if another quake hits, but we’re in no immediate danger, Commander.”

    “There’s a lot of hardware in here,” Adamos interjected. “Multiple pieces of tech all clustered near the centre of the cave; I’ll need to have a closer look in order to determine exactly what it is and what it does.”

    “Let’s get going, I don’t want us to be in here any longer than we need to be.”

    The trio made their way in towards the centre of the space. Tenadii leading the way whilst Hunter was at the rear, sweeping his light around and keeping a watchful eye behind them. It didn’t take long to reach the equipment that Adamos had mentioned, none of it looked familiar to him, definitely alien in origin though he couldn’t even hazard a guess from just a cursory visual inspection.

    As his subordinates set about examining what they’d found, Tenadii running scans as Adamos started accessing the controls, Hunter slowly paced around it. He’d put his tricorder back on his belt and kept his hand close to his weapon, the sweaty heat, unyielding darkness and eerie quiet all making him uneasy.

    After five minutes, he’d had enough of it. “Report.”

    “We’ve got an environmental processor, what looks to be some sort of SIF generator, a number of almost depleted power cells, and a very crude cloaking device,” said Tenadii as she finished looking over the smaller pieces of tech that surrounded the largest piece of equipment. “None are native to the planet, looks like its from any number of alien races, all cobbled together and somehow keeping this place barely habitable and hidden.”

    “So, is this someone’s idea of a vacation home?”

    She chuckled, a delightfully husky sound. “If it is they need to hire their interior decorator.”

    Hunter felt his lips curl up in a rare smile, though in the darkness of the cavern neither of his teammates noticed. He wiped the expression from his face and focused on the ops manager.

    “What about this, Lieutenant?”

    “It’s Ferengi in origin, sir, that much is clear. As for what it does, it’s similar to a tractor beam emitter, designed for generating a graviton field. I think this could be what caused the earthquake.”

    “Is that possible?”

    Tenadii looked over Adamos’ shoulder at the screens he was studying. “An intense, highly localised graviton field? Yeah, that could definitely create a quake. Quite ingenious really.”

    “I didn’t think the Ferengi had cloaking devices.”

    “They’re traders, thieves and smugglers, it wouldn’t be hard for them to get their grubby little mitts of a low-grade cloak,” she pointed out.

    “Maybe even two?” he asked, causing the pair to pause and look at him. “Well there’s no one here, they’d have needed a ship with a transporter to create this place and then monitor their handiwork from.”

    They looked at one another. “If it’s similar to this cloaking device then it wouldn’t be a large ship, which might make it even harder to pinpoint.”

    “If we launched a few more probes we could effectively create our own gravitic sensor net, assuming it’s not up to Romulan standards, then that should be able to penetrate the cloak.”

    “Believe me, no self-respecting Romulan would call that piece of junk a cloak,” she stated, then looked at Hunter. “It should be do-able, sir.”

    “Good. Commander, gather all the specs you can from it. Mr Adamos, make sure this device cannot be activated remotely again—we can at least ensure whoever is behind this doesn’t cause any more damage to the capital.”

    “Aye sir,” they replied and set to work.

    He tapped his combadge again. “Hunter to Resolute. Captain, we’ve found a few things of note down here.”

    * * * * *

    From the bridge of the Twenty-Second Rule, Toorh watched the Starfleet ship silently orbit Henod II his fingers drumming on the armrest of his chair. Despite only having a couple hundred people to evacuate from the planets surface, it was taking them far longer than he’d expected. He wanted to get down to the Federation outpost as soon as he could to start picking over what they’d left—hopefully the mob of locals wouldn’t destroy too much of the precious technology that was there, Starfleet technology was hard to come by, so it would be a nice bonus on top of what Premier Galgoj was paying them.

    He wasn’t all that interested in why the Dinaar leader was paying them to mess with his people, nor did Toorh really care about the politics of the planet. Being offered the equivalent of five hundred bars of gold-pressed latinum was what had interested him, though this agonising delay felt like it required another ten bars for their inconvenience.

    There was a chirp from the control consoles in front of him, making his large ears twitch. Rubbing his fingers together eagerly, hoping to be told they were breaking orbit.

    Brek tapped on the control dome before looking back at his uncle. “They’re launching several more probes.”

    Toorh scowled at his nephew. Though his sisters youngest wasn’t the sharpest when it came to profit, allowing him to get away with giving him a far smaller cut than any of his other crew, he was however a good pilot and pair of hands when it came to ship operations.

    “What are they doing?” he hissed.

    Next to Brek, Lorx, his engineer who’d devised the earthquake generator they’d used, looked at the scans they were taking of the Starfleet vessel. The older Ferengis drooping lobes perked up when he saw what they were doing.

    “They’re spreading the probes out around the planet. They might be having difficulty tracking people down on the surface.”

    “Grrgh!” he groaned, not knowing how much more of this tedium he could take. All this time wasted in orbit was going to start digging into his profits for this job—which definitely meant he’d be adding on a surcharge. After all he had needed to hire Hikavor specifically for coming to the Henod System.

    He glanced over at the Lethean who always managed to find a shadowy corner to stand in, which made his red eyes stand out even more than they usually did. Galgoj had been very specific with what he’d wanted from them, which included sowing panic in the population through mental manipulation. If there was one thing the Lethean’s were known for it was their strong telepathic abilities, and their willingness to use them for profit.

    Despite the size and strength of the new addition to his crew, Hikavor gave him the creeps, so he was looking forward to getting rid of him as soon as they got to spaceport—it also meant that he could go back to just having to pay three crewmembers (not that Armolak had done much, other than complain more than usual, had it not been for the Orion’s muscle and how handy he was in a fight he’d have left him behind long ago).

    “Hopefully, this’ll mean they can finish up and leave, so we can get paid in full,” he grumbled, taking out his tin of Hupyrian beetle snuff and taking a deep snort of the stimulant.

    * * * * *
     
  9. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    This is pretty good. More, please. I love a good mystery.
     
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  10. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Well...don’t stop now!

    Why do I get the feeling that Hunter will soon get the opportunity for that aforementioned “out of the box” thinking his CO has been lecturing him about?
     
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  11. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    Captain’s log, supplemental.

    With what the away team discovered in the underground chamber, I am convinced that there is likely some sort of conspiracy or coup going on within the Dinaar government in order to seize power and remove outside interference in one fell swoop. The irony is they are using outside forces to achieve their aim.

    I am hoping that if we can capture the other players in this game, we can use them to expose what is happening and bring about a peaceful resolution to this situation. To achieve this, I’ve ordered the outpost to suspend the recovery of equipment and had all remaining personnel in the capital beamed aboard the
    Resolute, thus allowing us the chance to manoeuvre should our cloaked friends out there choose to make a run for it.

    * * * * *

    “So, you’re sure we’re not dealing with Klingon or Romulan level technology?” Rofe queried one last time.

    “The cloak we found on the planet is definitely not to that standard, which means that if they have another it won’t be much use on anything larger than a runabout-sized ship.”

    Rofe looked from Tenadii to Hunter, who gave a single nod. He had full faith in his crew, even if many of them were still new to the ship, but that didn’t mean he wanted to risk putting them in a situation where they could be about to face off against a superior ship. They were also carrying one hundred and eighty-three evacuees (eleven other Federation citizen were still somewhere on the planet, though hadn’t made their location known), who’d already been through enough the last few weeks.

    The gravitic sensor net they were deploying was similar to that used along the Romulan Neutral Zone, unfortunately the Empire’s advancements in cloaking technology made the grid pretty much useless but for a second-rate device, such as the one from the cavern, then it should be able to give them something.

    “Let’s get started then shall we. Onahl, standby with tractor beams. Ensign Vsshar, be ready to break orbit if we need too.”

    “Helm ready, sir.”

    “All tractor emitters powered up and ready.”

    “Activate gravitic sensor net.”

    “Sensor net active, sir,” confirmed Adamos. “Coverage at fifty percent, but we can start to expand once each probe is properly calibrated.”

    For a moment there was silence on the bridge as the sensors scanned. Though Rofe knew the chances of them having a contact immediately was unlikely, something told him that whoever was in orbit with them was close—they’d need to be in order to activate the device and monitor just what they were up to. He was perched on the edge of his seat, waiting.

    Just as he was starting to wonder if maybe he was wrong about them being nearby, sensor contact alerts sounded from all around him.

    “Cloaked vessel detected, bearing one-eight-zero-mark-thirty. Distance eight thousand kilometres.”

    “They’re right behind us,” he realised standing. “Tractor beam!”

    Onahl took a second to response as they used the sensor net to triangulate the position and lock onto what appeared to just be empty space. But the tractor beam made contact with a physical object and held it tight.

    “Got them, sir!”

    “They’re powering engines, trying to break free,” stated Adamos.

    “Tractor lock remains secure.”

    Rofe smiled to himself. “Open a channel.”

    “Open sir.”

    “Cloaked ship, this is Captain Rofe of the Resolute—the ship that has you in a tractor beam. You won’t be able to escape, so I suggest you power down your engines, disengage your cloak, and prepare to be boarded.”

    The channel was quiet. Depending on just who they were dealing with they could be trying to think up imaginative ways to escape, maybe even planning a kamikaze attack against the ship that had bested them. After a moment longer, Adamos looked back at him.

    “They’re responding.”

    “On screen.”

    The image of one very hacked off Ferengi, making his already troll-like face even more gnarled, appeared on the main viewscreen. Not dressed in any sort of uniform, standard for what passed as the Ferengi military, but rather in what Rofe assumed was a smart business suit—though to his eyes was garish.

    “I demand you release us! We are here on legitimate business with the Dinaar, so you have no right to hold my ship!”

    Rofe’s amused smirk tugged at the corners of his lips. “I don’t know of many legitimate businessmen who sneak around with a cloaking device active.”

    “We didn’t want any interference from Starfleet—given how you all disapprove of us.”

    “We’re not here to interfere in anyone else’s business, so long as you don’t break interstellar law then you have nothing to fear from us. May I ask just what sort of business you’re engaged in?”

    “None of yours!” he snapped.

    “So you know nothing about the alien technology we found beneath the capital city?”

    “Of course not!”

    Rofe nodded slowly. “Oh, well in that case I must apologise. We must be looking for some other cloaked ship in orbit,” he toyed with the obvious culprit, before looking across at Tenadii. “Now, Hera.”

    At the touch of a button, a resonance pulse was sent along the tractor beam and hit the cloaked ship. The pulse rippled across the shield that made the small craft invisible for a few seconds before it collapsed, exposing the Ferengi shuttle. Had they had nothing to do with the identical cloaking device on the planet then the pulse wouldn’t have affected them, so it was all the evidence he needed.

    On the screen, the Ferengi panicked as his ship decloaked and his culpability in what was happening on the planet the orbited was exposed. Rofe enjoyed his moment before folding his arms across his chest and setting his face in a hard expression.

    “I’ll say again, power down your engines and prepare to be boarded. We’ve got a lot of questions for you, about just exactly what is happening on Henod two.”

    The Ferengi on the screen clearly wasn’t a fool, after a moment of panic he’d resigned himself to the fact they’d been caught and there was no getting out of it. His shoulders slumped as he glowered across the screen at him.

    “If I tell you all that I know, will that get me out of any jailtime?”

    Rofe had to give the man credit, even with everything against him he was still trying to negotiate his way out of it. “That depends on just what it is you have to say,” he replied, keeping his response as vague as he could, after all if it turned out he’d been involved in a planetary coup d’etat then there was no way he’d escape any punishment—if not at the hands of the Federation then most definitely those of the Dinaar.

    The Ferengi thought for a moment then looked offscreen. “Power down the engines.” He looked back at Rofe. “We will comply.”

    “Thank you. Prepare to surrender yourselves to my security team, then we can discuss just what it is you’ve been involved in. Resolute out.”

    The channel closed. Though he may have appeared somewhat contrite, the Ferengi were know for being a tricky race, far more devious and cunning than many gave them credit for. He turned to Hunter.

    “Commander, get over there with Lieutenant Cela and a full security team. Secure the crew and get them into the brig.”

    “Aye sir,” the human replied and headed straight for the turbolift alcove, tapping his combadge as he went.

    He turned next to Onahl. “Tractor that shuttle into the aft bay?”

    “Aye sir.”

    “Niko, have Lieutenant Jalar meet you in the shuttlebay so you can start going over every nook and cranny of that ship, I want proof that they were involved.”

    “Understood.”

    “Hera, you have the bridge. I’m going to inform Envoy Hill’uth and Commander Tighe of what we’ve uncovered.”

    * * * * *
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021 at 6:16 AM
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  12. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    When it's not the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians, the Gorn, or the Borg, it seems like the last species to check off your list is the Ferengi. Anyways, I'm enjoying this story. It has a great crew, a great ship, and a great bounce off for future stories. Keep up the great work, please.
     
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