TUE: Reykjavík - Warnings Unheeded In Darkest Night

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Apr 27, 2020.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    USS Reykjavík
    Federation Frontier – Sector 37044


    “Scratch three Gatherer marauders,” Nandi Trujillo said by way of greeting to her two fellow starship captains.

    They were displayed on a split-screen image imposed on her ready room tabletop interface. Captain Demora Sulu of the Excelsior-class Yorktown, and Captain Serma of the Belknap-class cruiser Aenar sat in their respective ready rooms aboard ships in adjoining sectors.

    Serma, the first Bolian officer in Starfleet to make captain, smiled thinly. “Did you take any prisoners?” he inquired.

    Trujillo nodded. “Indeed, twenty-three of them. Following their interrogation we’ll be handing them over to Deep Space Two for repatriation back to Acamar.”

    “How bad was the attack on Sedrosis II?” Sulu inquired, her features creased with concern.

    “Thankfully there was very little damage and few casualties,” Trujillo explained. “The last time the Gatherers raided the planet all we had there was a pre-colonization survey station. I think they were surprised to find a full-blown colony established there this time. They made quite a mess trying to dismantle a fusion reactor located on the colony’s college campus but couldn’t get past the safety interlocks that they clumsily triggered. They gave up trying after we pulled into orbit and then attempted to shoot their way past us.”

    "And?" Serma prompted

    Trujillo shook her head with derision. "Play stupid games, win stupid prizes."

    Sulu chuckled. “You sound disappointed.”

    Trujillo cocked her head then candidly offered, “No, not disappointed. This just really wasn’t worth our time, Captain. This would have been a perfect operation for the Border Service, except they aren’t allowed to operate out this far yet.”

    “You realize that the Border Service expansion has been significantly slower than the regular fleet’s,” Serma noted.

    “Only too well,” Trujillo acknowledged. “And that’s because the powers-that-be decided to push Federation expansion into these sectors without sufficient appropriations for Border Service coverage. Reykjavík should be patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone or keeping the Kzinti in check, not rounding up Gatherers that I could have brought to heel with a Daedelus-class crewed with midshipmen.”

    The comment elicited smirks from the other two.

    “Speaking of that,” Sulu observed, “you’ve been pushing Border Service expansion out here pretty hard with Admiral Markopoulos lately.”

    With a mock-roll of her eyes, Trujillo said, “If the Chic Greek has become tired of my constant entreaties, he need only give me what I want. They built DS2 with expansion in mind. The Corps of Engineers could add a full Border Service command and logistics hub onto the station in less than six months.”

    “Is that all?” Sulu replied with amusement.

    Trujillo directed a pointed look at her comrades. “If the two of you added your names to the request, it would give the idea more weight with Command.”

    “You’ll have it,” Serma offered without hesitation. His eyes then turned to Sulu as well.

    “The Sulu name wields a lot of influence,” Trujillo observed emphatically. “Especially since a certain captain’s father just retired from the C-in-C post.”

    “Fine,” Sulu relented after a moment. “I’ll back your play, Nandi. But if I end up commanding a deuterium-hauler because of this, I know where to find you.”

    Trujillo inclined her head gratefully to the both of them. “You have my thanks, Captains. And Demora, if it comes to that, I’ll kneel to accept my just rewards. Just make it a clean killing stroke.” She turned her eyes to Serma. “How goes it for you? Still chasing sensor ghosts?”

    He sighed. “No sign of whatever’s been shadowing us, if there was ever really anything other than a sensor malfunction. In other news, did either of you know that a Class-Five comet is comprised of thirty percent or more of carbon monoxide, methane, and ammonia?”

    That triggered laughs from the women.

    “What about your diplomatic mission to Baohiri?” Trujillo inquired of Sulu.

    “We’ve got all the factions to the negotiating table,” Sulu divulged, “but I’m not holding my breath. There’s a lot of bad blood there, and too many of the parties are still yearning for vengeance. If it all blows up in our faces, both of you should be ready to run out here and help me flex Federation muscle to discourage another shooting war.”

    “I’m always up for a little intimidation in the guise of diplomatic neutrality,” Trujillo confirmed.

    “Count me in,” Serma agreed. “If I have to read one more long-rang sensor sweep analysis I’m going to pull out my hair.” This coming from a man as bald as billiard ball.

    An alert icon began to flash in the corner of Trujillo’s screen. “Duty calls,” she announced. “It appears that something that requires my attention may have actually happened, unless Commander Glal has taken to triggering the notification merely out of spite.”

    “That would be so unlike him,” Sulu laughed. “Please give the crusty old space dog my regards,” she offered in parting.

    “I’ll do that, and before you ask, no you can’t have him back,” Trujillo said as she terminated the comm-link and cut over to a visual feed from the bridge.

    Glal’s porcine, tusked face appeared on the monitor. “We’ve picked up a distress signal from the USS Esau, Captain. She's one of our colonization survey ships in Sector 37128. It’s an automated beacon with no encrypted substrate.”

    “ETA to intercept,” she asked.

    “Thirty-eight hours at maximum sustainable warp, sir.”

    She frowned. A lot could happen in thirty-eight hours. It was a long time for a small ship and crew to fight for their lives, if that scenario had prompted their call for help.

    “Inform DS2 of the distress call, then set course and engage at best possible, Commander. Stand to yellow alert.”

    “Aye, sir.”

    Trujillo drummed her fingers on the desktop, lost in thought. Once again they were rushing headlong into the unknown, the dependable old soldier pushing into the deepest, darkest cave with her sword in one hand and a torch in the other. Be there dragons here?

    Such was their calling.

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
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  2. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Ooh, intriguing teaser -- and love the cameos by the other two captains, especially Demora.
     
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  3. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

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    Fascinating. I like this. I also liked seeing Demora Sulu in this.
     
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  4. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
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    I enjoyed the banter between the Starship captains. Nice to see Demora Sulu as a captain (of an Excelsior-class ship at that, Dad must be proud! :techman:) Fitting that Sulu would be the CinC one day.
    The story is a reminder that the various colonies and settlements are far-flung and tempting targets for raiders. With the Border Service stretched thin (always), Starfleet must step up as defenders of the helpless. But trying to police nearly one-fourth of the galaxy will always be an overwhelming (impossible) task. Pirates, raiders, and slavers, will always seek the most vulnerable and remote targets. Captain Trujillo is understandably frustrated, but kudos for her resolve to keep fighting the good fight. More, please! :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2020
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  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    USS Reykjavík
    Deck One – Conference Room


    Trujillo strode into the conference room, as always the last to arrive. As she saw it, her time was the most valuable aboard ship, and so she elected not to spend it awaiting others.

    The senior staff stood in unison as she entered, pausing for her to take her seat at the head of the conference table before resuming theirs.

    Unlike the designs of most newer starships, Reykjavík’s conference room had no exterior view ports and was instead situated behind the bridge under the same armored blister of tritanium and duranium composites that protected the command center. However, the compartment was tastefully decorated with realistic-looking faux wood paneling, giving it an ancient Earth nautical aesthetic. Along the bulkheads, pictures of previous Starfleet vessels named Reykjavík were interspersed with photographs of the ship’s namesake, the Icelandic capital city.

    On one bulkhead was mounted the ship’s seal, an inverted yellow triangle emblazoned with the dragon-head prow and sail of an ancient Viking longboat bearing the ship’s name, registry and motto. U.S.S. REYKJAVÍK NCC-3109. ‘First to Advance, Last to Retreat.’

    Arrayed around the table were the ship's executive officer Lt. Commander Glal, Operations Manager Lieutenant Arwen DeSilva, Chief Engineer Lt. Commander Kura-Ka, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lawrence Bennett, Chief Security Officer Lieutenant Gael Jarrod, and the junior-most of the senior staff, Ensigns Farouk Naifeh and Rachel Garrett, of Helm and Sciences respectively.

    “What have we got?” Trujillo asked.

    Glal toggled a control interface set into the tabletop, triggering the large painting of a Viking longboat sailing Reykjavík’s Faxaflói Bay set into the interior bulkhead to vanish, replaced by a viewscreen displaying the image of a Federation starship.

    “USS Esau,” Glal said. “Soyuz-class, crew complement of one-hundred eight-three officers and enlisted personnel, plus fifty-seven civilian personnel from the Bureau of Colonization. Lt. Commander Ngư Minh Thông commanding.”

    Glal nodded to Lieutenant DeSilva who picked up the narrative from there. She self-consciously brushed a cascading bang of brown hair from in front of her eye as she began, “For the past eight months, Esau’s been assigned to surveying Class-M planets in four adjoining sectors for potential Federation colonization efforts. These are the preliminary studies that determine if an uninhabited planet would be biologically compatible with one or more Federation member species, prior to a dedicated science vessel being dispatched to conduct a more comprehensive ecological analysis.”

    DeSilva gestured to Jarrod, a striking young Caucasian Human male with well-kept wavy black hair and neatly trimmed mustache and goatee that seemed to emphasize his reserved demeanor. In a clipped Oxonian-English accent, Jarrod said, “Esau had been transmitting scheduled updates to DS2 every twelve hours until fourty-six hours ago. At that time, she went emissions quiet. DS2’s long-range scans have proven inconclusive as Esau was surveying a planet in a particularly volatile binary star system. The system’s radiation emissions have created a corona effect that’s especially difficult to penetrate with long-range sensors.”

    Glal frowned, the gesture accentuated by his tusks and bushy beard. “Why would they be surveying a system that basically blocks sensor activity?”

    At the end of the table, a young woman with reddish hair tied into a bun and piercing brown eyes cleared her throat. The crispness of her uniform spoke to its newness, as did the shine on her ensign’s chevron affixed to her tunic’s division-gray shoulder clasp.

    All eyes turned to her and Rachel Garrett seemed to gather herself before speaking. “If I may, sir, the radiation profile of this close binary pair, called the Abemeda Sisters, may have little effect on the Class-M planet in question. If the planet’s electromagnetic field is sufficiently strong, it would shield life-forms from the localized stellar radiation.” She turned her gaze from the XO to Trujillo. “Additionally, locating a Federation colony and perhaps a space station in a system immune to long-range scans could prove a strategic asset, should we encounter any adversarial species in the vicinity.”

    Trujillo smiled at this and shared an approving look with Glal. Garrett had been a very recent addition to the crew, coming aboard two weeks earlier during their last layover at Deep Space Two. The young woman was fresh from the academy, having graduated fifth in her class. She’d originally been slated to serve aboard the Centaur-class Hemingway as a third-string science officer, but that ship’s captain had owed Trujillo a rather sizeable favor, and subsequently Garrett’s orders had been changed. She was now Chief Science Officer aboard a cruiser at the age of twenty-two. Granted, it was an attack cruiser with little for a science officer to actually do, but she would gain invaluable leadership experience in heading up a shipboard department that would hold her in good stead.

    “What if this is just some kind of comms failure?” ventured Dr. Bennett.

    The Zaranite engineer, Kura-Ka, turned his fleshy head toward the physician. His voice issued through the face mask which delivered his homeworld’s fluorine-rich atmosphere. “If it were a communications systems failure, Doctor, there has been more than sufficient time for them to effect repairs. Failing that, they would have dispatched a communications relay buoy out of the system to update Starfleet as to their situation.”

    Bennett accepted the explanation with an inclination of his head.

    “Known threat species in the vicinity?” Trujillo queried.

    Jarrod responded, “The Gatherers, though owing to our recent experience with them I’d hardly credit them with being able to overwhelm a starship. There have been some few incidents of Orion piracy, but they don’t tend to venture this far out into the frontier. And again, attacking a Starfleet vessel would only attract unwanted attention to them. There are dozens of softer, far more lucrative targets for piracy in this region. We’re on the opposite side of the quadrant from either the Klingons or Romulans, and we’ve had no reports of any Tholian or Gorn activity out here.” He shrugged with his hands, palms up. “This could always be someone new. More than a few of our First Contact’s have resulted in attacks on our deep space explorers. We may have inadvertently wandered into someone’s backyard.”

    “Perhaps, but not likely,” Glal countered. “We’ve been sending deep-space probes out here for decades. There haven’t been any indications of aggressive space-faring civilizations anywhere within thirty light-years of our position.”

    Trujillo scanned the faces around the table. Her officers knew that she appreciated brevity, and anyone without something valuable to add to the conversation remained silent. “Very well. Anything else?”

    No one replied.

    She continued. “In that case, we’ll continue on course. I want a Class-II probe fitted out to reconnoiter the Abemeda system before we make our final approach in three hours. Doctor, prep Sickbay for a potential mass-casualty response, utilizing whatever cargo space and other resources you deem necessary.” She nodded her head in Jarrod’s direction, “Weaps, I want you to compile a list of tactical contingency plans based on potential multi-threat encounters. Work with Ensign Naifeh on pre-planned attack and evasion patterns for such an eventuality. Commander Kura-Ka, have an engineering team equipped and standing by in case we need to assist Esau with emergency repairs upon arrival. Everyone keep the XO updated as to your readiness, final reports due thirty minutes before system penetration.”

    She made another visual scan of the room. “Questions?”

    There were none.

    Trujillo stood, prompting the others to rise from their chairs. “This meeting is adjourned,” she announced. “Resume your stations; XO has the bridge. Ensign Garrett, please remain behind,” she added as the assembled officers began heading for the exit.

    Garrett stood at the opposite end of the table. Trujillo gestured for her to take the seat closest to her. “I make it a point to meet with all of my officers after they’ve reported aboard. I regret our recent situation with the Gatherers has delayed my speaking with you until now.”

    “Thank you, Captain.” Garrett moved to the offered chair, seating herself only after Trujillo had resumed her own.

    “You did well, especially for your first senior staff meeting,” Trujillo observed. “I hadn’t expected any less, but it’s gratifying to see one’s hopes realized.”

    “Thank you again, sir,” Garrett demurred. “On that point, Captain, may I ask a question?”

    “By all means.”

    Garrett took a moment to collect her thoughts before speaking. “Have I done something wrong, Captain?”

    Trujillo was unable to stop the surprised expression that flit across her features at that query. “Not in the least, Mister Garrett. Why do you ask?”

    “My appointment to the Hemingway, sir. Based on my graduation standing, I was afforded the opportunity to choose my first posting. I selected Hemingway based on Captain Erlichman’s reputation and the fact that she was just completing a refit prior to being assigned to a three-year deep space exploration assignment.”

    “Ah, yes,” Trujillo cocked her head, totally unprepared for this reaction from the newly minted ensign. “You realize, of course, that you’d have been a junior science officer aboard, working the worst shift rotations and grinding out all the scut-work those more senior to you in the division didn’t feel like doing?”

    Garrett nodded. “Yes, sir. I knew that going in, Captain. That’s the expectation, no matter what ship or installation I ended up on. When I last spoke to Captain Erlichman, he’d expressed excitement about my joining his crew. So, if I may, I’m understandably confused by my sudden change of orders. I was placed aboard a high-warp courier for a five-week trip out to DS2, followed by two weeks since I've taken up my post here. Still, I've received no explanation.”

    “Fair enough,” Trujillo assessed. “Ensign, I make it a habit to recruit the finest officers I can so that this can be one of the best, most sought-after posts in the fleet. In the four years since she launched, Reykjavík has garnered an admirable number of unit citations, as well as individual medals and awards for her crew. After reading your academy transcripts, I identified you as being a high-achiever and one whose career I wanted to advance to the extent that I’m able. Because of that, I took the opportunity to steal you away from Captain Erlichman’s command.”

    Garrett absorbed that for a long moment before replying. “While I very much appreciate the promise you see in me, Captain, I hope you will understand that I had my own expectations of the kinds of experiences, knowledge, and training I was going to gain on a deep-range mission. I recognize that leading a department here will doubtless look excellent on my service jacket. However, there’s very little genuine scientific opportunity to be had on an attack cruiser, even one with Reykjavík’s sterling reputation.”

    Then she added, “And if I may speak freely, sir?”

    Trujillo nodded silently as she digested Garrett’s words.

    “With all due respect, Captain, you did not recruit me. You poached me from another command. I was never consulted about the change of orders.”

    It was not often that Nandi Trujillo was rendered speechless, but this was definitely one of those moments. The import of what she’d done crystalized in her mind, and the conversation took on an almost out-of-body quality for her. Trujillo had simply taken it for granted that any new officer starting out would jump at the chance to serve aboard a cruiser as a senior division officer rather than a long-range explorer as a junior one. She hadn’t even bothered to ask Garrett what it was that she’d wanted, if a move to Reykjavík would be compatible with Garrett’s own ambitions. With a sudden thrill of dread Trujillo realized that if someone had done the same to her right out of the academy she would have been incensed.

    The captain sat back in her chair, her expression somber.

    Garrett blushed fiercely. “I apologize, Captain. I was out of line. Please for—”

    Trujillo silenced her with a raised hand. “The only one owed an apology here is you, Mister Garrett. I… I can’t begin to explain the thought process that led me to believe that ripping you away from Erlichman without your consent was in any way appropriate. I suppose it’s the difference between the way things should be done, and how we actually do them in the fleet.”

    She shook her head as if trying to cast away a bad dream. “I’m sorry, Rachel. The last thing I want is for you to feel like I’ve derailed your career at the outset." Taking a moment to compose herself, Trujillo offered, "I’ll make you a deal. You give me two years here, and I promise that I’ll call in every marker I have to get you your choice of next posting. With your graduation standing, you’re almost guaranteed to make jay-gee after one year. You give me three years here, I can get you posted anywhere you want as a full lieutenant. That would go a long way towards getting a senior science officer post on an Excelsior or Constellation.”

    Garrett dipped her head. “I thank you, Captain, but that’s really not necessary. I just needed to be heard on the matter, and I feel I’ve done that.”

    “No dice, Ensign,” Trujillo countered. “I’ve wronged you, and whatever other character flaws I may have, I always pay my debts.”

    “In that case, Captain,” Garrett said, extending a hand, “I accept.”

    Trujillo stood, prompting Garrett to follow suit. She shook the ensign’s hand firmly.

    “I know I have a reputation for being stern and uncompromising,” Trujillo confided. “It took a great deal of poise and courage for you to confront me about this. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.”

    “Yes, sir,” Garrett offered, not knowing what else to say.

    “Dismissed, Mister Garrett.”

    The ensign made good her escape and Trujillo sat heavily back into the chair.

    “Well… shit,” she sighed.

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
  6. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Certainly, the disappearance of the Esau is as troubling as it is inexplicable. Being incommunicado for 33 hours suggests they are having technical issues at best, or may no longer exist to transmit, at worst.
    The segue to Rachel Garrett's backstory was equally interesting. She was an intriguing character in her brief exposure during "Yesterday's Enterprise." Any one who could rise to command the Big E, regardless of era, is a force to be reckoned with. Thanks for the glimpse of her candor, confidence, and steel backbone as she boldly confronts her C.O. Yes, she was polite. Yes, she was proper. But, holy cow! . . . :eek:
    Kudos to Captain Trujillo for having the integrity to face her error in judgement. That spoke highly of her character and maturity.
     
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  7. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yay, Rachel Garrett! She was an excellent one-shot character who we know so little about, so it's great to see her starting to be fleshed out here. I have a sneaking suspicion that she and Trujillo are going to get on remarkable well :lol:
     
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  8. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    The turbolift doors parted to admit Trujillo onto the bridge, prompting the computer to issue a specific alert chime.

    Glal half turned in the command chair at the sound to confirm Trujillo’s presence before announcing, “Captain on the bridge.” He stood to surrender the seat.

    Trujillo offered a perfunctory, “As you were,” to dissuade the bridge crew from coming to attention. She stepped over to Glal. “Report.”

    The XO handed a data-slate to her. She perused the information displayed there as Glal updated her. “We are five minutes from system penetration, Captain. The probe we sent ahead confirmed Esau is still intact but detected no active life-signs aboard the ship. She’s adrift mid-system at approximately three-hundred kph and is not presently near any of the system’s planets. We’ve been unable to detect any structural damage to the ship’s exterior. Esau’s warp reactor appears to be in standby mode and she’s running on auxiliary power. The ship continues to broadcast an automated distress beacon.”

    “No signs of threat vessels in the vicinity?” she asked.

    “None, sir. Also, no signs of wreckage indicative of a battle having been fought.”

    “Understood. You are relieved; I have the conn.”

    Glal accepted the slate back from her. “I stand relieved.”

    Trujillo seated herself and completed a slow rotation in her chair to survey the bridge. Her officers were working diligently at their posts, with some of them conferring in hushed tones on matters of import as they approached the system boundary.

    She gave herself a moment to mourn what she presumed to be the loss of Esau’s crew. Starships were designed to prevent complete ship-wide atmospheric loss or bacterial/virologic contamination, so the fact that Esau was intact but bereft of life-signs could only mean that her crew had been either abducted or killed. A major shipboard disaster that hadn’t consumed the ship itself would have left some survivors, she thought.

    Trujillo had called up Esau’s commanding officer’s service record, and found that despite being relatively young, Lt. Commander Ngư had a reputation for being thorough and cautious. He was not someone to walk blindly into a trap, nor one to ignore signs of potential danger.

    She forced herself to relax, making herself ready for whatever they were to encounter in the Abemeda system.

    “Dropping out of warp in three… two… one…” Ensign Naifeh counted down through the deceleration curve as the streaks of light on the main viewscreen retracted into singular points of luminescence.

    “Ahead one-quarter impulse,“ Trujillo ordered.

    “One-quarter impulse, aye,” Naifeh confirmed. “Now crossing the heliopause threshold and entering the Abedema system.”

    Trujillo turned slightly in her chair to glance towards the science station, where star system diagrams and data began to pop up on Ensign Garrett’s displays. Garrett caught a glimpse of the captain’s patient stare and announced, “Beginning sensor sweep.”

    From Ops, DeSilva called out, “Confirmed sensor contact with Esau, Captain. Her situation appears unchanged from the information we received from our probe.”

    “Weaps?” Trujillo called over her shoulder to the Tactical station.

    From long experience, Lieutenant Jarrod replied without the questions even having to be asked. “No anomalous sensor contacts, Captain. No signs of any other craft in or near the system to within two light-years.”

    DeSilva confirmed, “Esau is structurally intact, but registers no life-readings. Life-support systems appear to be functioning normally.”

    “Captain…” Garrett had begun speaking, but her voice trailed off as a new stream of data scrolled across the monitor she appeared fixated on.

    Trujillo turned fully in her chair to face the ensign. Her raised eyebrow demanded elaboration.

    “…I’m reading a detectable increase in bacteria-generated trace gasses onboard,” Garrett finally continued. She turned to look at the captain, her complexion suddenly ashen. “It’s the kind of increase you’d expect from early necrotic processes, sir.”

    “Corpses, you mean,” Trujillo probed.

    Garrett swallowed hard. “Yes, sir.”

    Trujillo gestured to Glal, seated at an auxiliary station. “Commander, pull up Esau’s command prefix codes. I want to access their internal visual recorders.”

    “Aye, sir,” Glal affirmed as he set to work.

    Turning back to Garrett, Trujillo asked, “Ensign, any sign of viral or bacterial pathogens aboard?”

    “I’m unable to make that determinate at this distance, Captain. In fact, depending on the pathogen, it may not be detectable even at close range without atmospheric sampling from the ship itself.”

    Trujillo scowled. That would not be her first choice. She turned back to Glal.

    Red icons flashed across his display and he shook his head in frustration. “Sorry, sir. Their main computer and all secondary processors are offline. I can’t access any of Esau’s command and control functions.”

    “What’s maintaining their life-support systems then?” she asked.

    From the Engineering station, Kura-Ka spoke through his concealing mask. “The remaining ship’s systems are running on tertiary backups, Captain. From what little I can tell from here, it appears the damage to their primary and secondary computer cores was deliberate. It’s far too comprehensive to be a cascade failure or accidental damage.”

    Trujillo leaned back in her chair, pondering their dilemma. “Mister Glal, prep a boarding party in full EVA gear. I want all necessary precautions taken to safeguard against chemical and biological weapons. Take Commander Kura-Ka, Dr. Bennett, Ensign Garrett and a full security team.”

    “Aye, sir,” Glal responded, turning back to his console to make the necessary arrangements.

    “Mister Naifeh, set an intercept course with Esau and execute at half-impulse.”

    As the crew carried out her orders Trujillo sat and feigned an air of detached calm as her mind spun with possible scenarios, none of them good. Something or someone had killed the starship Esau, and now she was potentially taking her crew into the sights of that very same danger. The dark cynic at her core reminded Trujillo that she had, in fact, wished for an assignment more out of the ordinary only weeks earlier.

    And that, dear Captain, was your first mistake, she mused.

    * * *​
     
  9. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The mystery deepens...

    This is one seriously efficient crew here, looking forward to how they take on a threat they can't blast with phasers, or can they...
     
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  10. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    All caught up now... Loving the mystery, and how Rachel Garrett handled the captain. I agree with Bry in that it is awesome to be getting to know an officer we only saw one time in a depth that singular appearance could not give us. You know I'm looking forward to more!
     
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  11. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Geez . . . not foreboding at all. :eek:
    So many questions remain . . . what kind of pathogen could overwhelm multiple safety protocols and kill the entire crew? Who or what damaged the main computer and backups, and why?
    And, an immediate concern . . . will their EVA suits provide the away team adequate protection?
    Maybe the best option is to use the tractor beam to tow that ghost ship on a trajectory into the nearest star. But, then, they wouldn't know what happened to the crew of the Esau. Captain Trujillo must be having all sorts of fun right now. :wtf:
     
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  12. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

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    I have chills.
     
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  13. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Commodore

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    Location:
    The Hub of the Universe
    Curiouser and curiouser. I love a good mystery, and it's refreshing to have a good ol' TOS-style pathogen quest. :) I also enjoy seeing how you're filling a few particular Untold Era gaps here: Hikaru Sulu as C in C makes perfect sense, and it was wonderful to see Demora Sulu in command of an Excelsior Class starship. Finally, I have to say that I absolutely love that you'll be developing some backstory for Rachel Garrett. I always found the little snippets of her character that we got to see in Yesterday's Enterprise intriguing. So much so, in fact, that years ago I worked on a story of Demora Sulu's last mission as an Excelsior Class ship captain (I think I actually had her as a Commodore) with Rachel Garrett as her XO, just before taking command of the Enterprise-C. Very fanboyish I fully admit, and I have no doubt that you will do the character much more justice. Looking forward to it.
     
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  14. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Urectum
    I'd say dust that story off and get it posted :bolian:
     
  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    I second the motion! :hugegrin:
     
  16. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Do it. This is the way. I have spoken.
     
  17. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    USS Esau

    Reykjavík’s away team materialized in a corridor intersection, all of them facing out with phasers drawn. They were clad in bulky EVA suits, the kind worn for work in hostile planetary environments or the vacuum of space.

    There was a sudden intake of breath that carried across their mutual comms frequency and it took Garrett a moment to realize that the sound had come from her. They had beamed into utter bedlam, a scene that each of them knew instantly would haunt them for their remaining days.

    Blood and gore were splashed across the ceiling, floor, and bulkheads in great swaths, making it look as if the carnage was intended as an artistic statement as much as a slaughter. Bodies littered the corridors, many of them mangled almost beyond recognition and contorted into impossible positions either through the efforts of their attackers or the ferocity of their own death throes.

    Garrett’s head spun as she fought the overwhelming urge to expel the contents of her stomach. She was reaching reflexively for the faceplate of her helmet when Glal’s hand clamped firmly around her wrist like a vise. “Don’t even think about it, Ensign,” he told her in a serious tone tinged with sympathy.

    “Breathe,” he told her. “Just close your eyes and breathe. It’ll pass in a moment.”

    She did as he instructed, and a minute later the panic and nausea diminished. “S—sorry, sir…” she murmured between shuddering breaths.

    “No, no apologies. Not for this. Never for this.”

    Glal gestured to the security team. “Take up blocking positions in those corridors and cover our advance towards the computer core.” He turned to face Kura-Ka, whose broad, placid features struck Glal as particularly alien in the EVA suit helmet. He so rarely ever saw the Zaranite’s true face that he realized he’d begun to confuse the mask with the man behind it. “Be ready to run a bypass on the core access hatch if the doors are in security lockdown,” he told the engineer.

    Glal regarded Dr. Bennett who was studying the readouts of his trilling tricorder.

    “No indications of pathogens, either viral or bacterial,” the doctor reported.

    He checked back with Garrett, who gave Glal a thumbs up despite looking pale and stunned.

    “Commander,” Bennett called in surprise. “Is that…? It can’t be.”

    Glal turned to see Bennett kneeling next to the body of an enlisted crewman, one whose remains were more or less intact, relative to the others. The doctor was pointing to what appeared to be the shaft of a wooden arrow protruding from the back of the man’s torso. There were colorful feathers for fletching at the end of the shaft, an incongruous detail in such a horrific scene.

    The XO looked on as Bennett swept the detachable cylindrical hand-sensor from his medical tricorder over the body. “Sharp force injuries from the arrow and what looks to be some kind of bladed weapon,” Bennett observed clinically. “Additional to blunt force trauma and crushing injuries from… I don’t know what.”

    Bennett paused to open his medical kit and retrieve a pair of forceps. He reached into a gaping wound along the man’s side to gently pluck something small and dark from out of the exposed tissues. He held it up to the light, turning it to examine his find.

    Glal squatted next to him, squinting at what appeared to be a shard of dark, hardened material. “What is it?” he asked.

    Bennett opened a small sampling port at the base of his tricorder and dropped the shard inside before closing it. “It’ll take a moment to analyze, sir.”

    The comm interface in Glal’s helmet chirped and he winced, realizing that it had been a full two minutes since they’d beamed in and he’d neglected to update the ship. He stood and opened the channel.

    “Glal here, sir. Apologies for the oversight. Things are… rather gruesome over here. I’m switching on my camera now. Be prepared, this isn’t pleasant.” He toggled a control on his suit’s forearm interface, activating a helmet mounted camera which broadcast an image from his perspective back to the ship.

    There was a prolonged silence on the comm channel before he heard Captain Trujillo say, “Understood, Commander. Please proceed,” in an understandably tight voice.

    The doctor held up his tricorder toward Glal to indicate that he had results. “It’s a shard of obsidian, sir. Very sharp. Likely a piece of whatever produced the wound in his side.”

    Garrett stepped over to the two, her eyes wide, but this time with intense focus rather than horror. “Doctor, are there any traces of wood particles on that obsidian, by chance?”

    Bennett studied the tricorder’s display for a moment, fiddling with the settings to adjust its analysis parameters. He gave the young woman a puzzled look through his helmet’s faceplate. “Yes, actually. How did you know?”

    Garrett’s own expression was guarded. “Lucky guess,” she said cryptically. She looked to Glal. “I have a hunch, sir, but I’ll need more evidence before I’m ready to offer up a theory.”

    Glal nodded. “Fine.” He gestured down the corridor with his drawn phaser pistol. “Let’s keep going.”

    The signs of massacre continued in much the same fashion as they moved through the ship. Some corridors had fewer bodies than others, some had none. There was a wide variety of damage to the victims. Some of the crew had been felled by arrows or wooden spears, while others had been dismembered by catastrophic physical trauma of unknown origin. Still others had suffered grievous wounds from what must have been bladed weapons of some kind.

    Many of the bulkheads bore scoring from phaser impacts clearly set to lethal levels.

    “This has to be Klingons,” one of the security officers muttered over their shared channel.

    “No,” Glal countered in a heavy voice. “I’ve seen my share of bat’leth wounds, and these aren’t from those.” He paused to run a gloved hand across a phaser blast mark seared into a tritanium bulkhead support beam. “The Klingons also use Type-III disruptors. The only energy weapons impacts we’ve seen so far have been from Starfleet phasers.”

    The team approached an intersection that had been sealed off by a massive pressure door. The tritanium alloy of the two-centimeter thick barrier had been rent open as though something had simply peeled apart a cardboard sheet placed in its path.

    A security man turned to fix a dumbfounded look on Glal. “What could do that?”

    Glal merely shook his head and increased his phaser setting to maximum.


    * * *​

    USS Reykjavík

    The reaction on the bridge to the macabre telemetry from Glal’s helmet-camera on the main viewscreen was visceral.

    Trujillo’s eyes were riveted to the screen as her mind struggled to absorb the full horror on display. Someone stationed at a console behind her gasped, and another person off to her left gaged as they fled the bridge for the turbolift. Trujillo refused to look back, determined to allow her people to recover their dignity in private.

    A pang of regret welled in her chest with the thought that she’d sent Ensign Garrett into that particular vision of Hell. Trujillo and most of the other senior officers had experienced many tragedies in the course of their careers. These were the smaller, repeated traumas that hardened one’s heart and mind against the onslaught of the truly ghastly. Garrett had no such defenses.

    In the span of two days, Trujillo had failed the young woman twice, and in disgraceful fashion.

    With a few quick keystrokes at her console interface Trujillo initiated a program to effectively pixilate the remains of Esau’s crew, sparing at least those on the bridge the full brunt of the nightmare discovered aboard their fellow starship.

    * * *​


    Something had forced its way through multiple pressure doors and into the ship’s computer core where it had wreaked havoc on the delicate contents within. Shattered isolinear optical chips littered the floor, along with larger pieces of data-ware substrate and crystalline memory wafers. The destruction was thorough, to be sure, but something here also spoke of untempered rage.

    Glal pursed his lips in irritation, certain that the smaller secondary memory core would be similarly destroyed.

    Bennett stepped up to him to make his report. “Still no indications of any pathogens, though there are some viral strains that are too small to be readily detected by tricorder. I’d still recommend we take samples back to the secure analysis station I’ve set up in our shuttle bay.”

    Glal started to object, but Bennett pressed, “It’s surrounded by vacuum, Commander. There’s no chance of anything being transferred to the rest of the ship.”

    “You can’t beam your analysis gear over and run the tests here?” Glal asked.

    Bennett glanced around, “This… environment would make accurate testing more problematic.”

    “It’ll be the captain’s call to make,” Glal told him, secretly relieved the decision wouldn’t be his.

    “It’s also notable that I haven’t detected any non-Federation cellular residue. There’s nothing on the weapons used by whoever or whatever perpetrated this attack. Nor is there any residue on the doors that were forced open or torn through. Any creature strong enough to exercise that level of violence would doubtless leave at least microscopic tissue traces behind.”

    Glal pointed to the scorch mark left over from a phaser impact on the door frame. “Their phasers were set to kill. You’re saying that none of them hit anything?”

    Bennett shrugged inside his environment suit. “At the very least they hit nothing that bleeds, Commander.”

    It was then that Glal noticed Garrett with a pair of her own forceps, prying another shard of obsidian out of what remained of a bank of smashed processor towers.

    “How’s that working hypothesis of yours?” he asked.

    “Firming up, sir,” she replied, placing the shard into a small sealed container which then went into a carryall slung over her shoulder.

    “Care to share with the class?” Glal asked dryly.

    “Yes, sir. I believe that one of the weapons used here was an analogue of an ancient-Terran macuahuitl.”

    He folded his arms across his chest impatiently. “Explain,” he instructed.

    “The Terran version of this weapon was utilized by the Aztec civilization of Mesoamerica in roughly the 13th to 16th centuries, AD. It’s essentially a wooden club or paddle, the outer edge of which is inset with sharpened pieces of stone, usually flint or obsidian. It’s a slashing weapon, excellent for close-quarters combat. That jibes with the arrows and spears we’ve seen employed in this attack, as they also utilize arrowheads and tips of shaped obsidian.”

    Hlavic, one of the security team, moved to join the conversation. “Who attacks and overwhelms a starship with paleolithic weapons?” he asked incredulously.

    Glal gestured to the heavy door leading out of the compartment which had been peeled back with evident ease. “What force armed with such weapons could tear open a tritanium hatch? And why are there no enemy bodies?”

    “I hate to cut short your meeting of the minds,” Trujillo’s voice broke in, “but I’m recalling the away team. Secure your samples, and we’ll beam you back to the isolation lab in the shuttle-bay. Your team will be quarantined in the dormitory there until we can be absolutely certain no pathogens were involved here.”

    Glal cut over to a secure channel, limited to himself and the captain. “Sir, has something happened?”

    “No, Commander. Given the circumstances and what you’ve discovered so far, I’m going to bring you home, raise the shields, and alert Starfleet to what we’ve found. If we fall prey to the same force that attacked Esau, I don’t want yet another starship blundering in here and having to start over from square-one.”

    That decision made sense both scientifically and tactically, Glal thought. Not for the first time he mused that Nandi Trujillo might just have made captain for good cause.

    “Copy that, sir. Give us five to collect our gear and samples and we’ll be ready.”

    * * *​
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
  18. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Bah, you think like a Border Dog! :D
     
  19. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    And, if the Fleeters provided the Border Service quantum torpedoes, I would have suggested target practice.;)
    Given the events of your most recent chapter, however, I stand by my first recommendation. ☠️
     
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  20. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I'm almost tempted to ask if it was an attack made by Native Americans. :confused:
     
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