Posted on Sat Apr 27th, 2019 @ 2:05pm by Captain Colby Drayton & Lieutenant Commander Cordelia Millarini & Lieutenant Akaria Okan & Commander Tara Neprem & Lieutenant Commander William Hunt & Lieutenant Commander Zar & Lieutenant JG Joseph 'Seph' Swift & Lieutenant JG Eza Bergen PhD
Episode 7: Into The Fire
Location: Approaching Starbase 214
Timeline: Day 146 at 1440
Travelling at Slipstream velocity was something that would take a lot of getting used to for the crew of any Federation starship, and it certainly wasn't an every day occurrence, but in order to make their rendezvous on time, Drayton had upped the ante so to speak and permitted the Nogura to use the specialized propulsion system. They had been in the slipstream for less than an hour and had already covered a mammoth area of Federation space, a distance it would have taken weeks to traverse in normal circumstances.
The bridge was unusually quiet as the different officers went about their business, monitoring the slipstream they were engulfed in and everything seemed relatively calm. But, as was often the case on the Nogura, the calm always came before a storm.
"Commander Proht," a voice from the starboard mission operations station called out, Akaria Okan having moved there in the presence of a new Chief of Operations at the forward station. "I'm detecting a transmission and the signal is feint. I think the slipstream is preventing us from retrieving the message," the Cardassian called out, stepping forward to look towards Neprem first, and then her new superior at Ops.
"I believe I can boost the signal," replied Zar as he moved his fingers over the console. He figured that if he could possibly change the frequency to the transmission so that it could get past the warp field it might work. Zar tapped into the relay's frequency channel and slowly started tuning the communications array, it was tricky as he never had to work with a slipstream drive before. "I do not believe it will be crystal clear but, once we make contact I can try and re modulate the signal, to make it clear" he added. A few more seconds went by and the frequency change happened and it was boosted. "We should be able to hear the message now."
Eza was monitoring the slipstream effects on the Nogura, he was pleased to see there didn't seem to be any damage and none of the issues that had occurred on the Ulysses seemed to be occurring here. Slipstream, if it worked, certainly would make the commute a lot easier.
Rising to his feet and taking a walk to the mission operations station, the Captain sidled up beside the Cardassian and looked at her console as she worked. "Transmission coming in clearer now Captain," she turned to him and smiled before looking back at the console.
On the screen, a single transmission started to come through, gradually and in blocks as opposed to the usual freedom the communications array enjoyed when at standard warp. At first, the transmission was a simple message. "Fleet of Alrakis Pact vessels detected at extreme sensor range and moving closer," the message read, but then a data packet that included some sensor readings from the station came through. "Display the sensor readings on the main viewer,"the Captain nodded to Akaria before stepping away.
As the Cardassian transferred the sensor readings to the viewer, the Captain stepped towards the forward stations and stood behind both Lieutenant Swift and Commander Proht, his hands resting on each of their chair head rests as he took in what he was looking at. A sizeable number of Pact vessels, mostly of Breen and Talarian origin, entering the Wastelands from Talarian space and headed in the direction of Starbase 214, even if not directly to the station itself. This itself was reason enough for the Captain to be concerned, an eyebrow raising as he observed the readings.
Just as he was about to speak, one of the Alrakis symbols flickered and then vanished from existence. It was soon followed by a second, then a third, before the rest of the fleet seemed to split off in different directions. Drayton spun on his heels, looking in the direction of his senior most officers, hoping they were as baffled as he was.
"The vessels appear to have disappeared from sensors, I'm unable to tell from this range if they were destroyed, disappeared, or something else." Eza chimed in.
"This just gets better," the Captain frowned as he returned to the command chair and looked at Neprem. "We were supposed to be getting back to exploration, now we get wrapped up in Alrakis Pact nonsense a zillion light-years from the Inconnu Expanse!"
"Sir," Will observed from his station, having come onto the bridge a few minutes earlier, hoping to get a closer look at the Pact fleet. "The ships in that fleet didn't initially break formation after three were destroyed. There aren't too many reasons they would hesitate to break. One is that this mission is extremely important to the Alrakis Pact, so much so that they thought they could weather a loss or two. Another, likelier one, is that whatever hit them caught them completely off guard. They didn't see it coming."
Colby listened to the strategists input and nodded before spinning his chair back to its forward facing position. "Helm, eta to the rendezvous point?" the Captain queried.
There were a few minutes of silence until Lieutenant Swift had the response required of him. "Three hours twenty minutes until we reach the rendezvous point," the helmsman confirmed.
"What if we bypass the rendezvous and go straight to the Starbase?" he queried hopefully.
"An adjustment of course would give us a new eta of..." the Lieutenant worked out his calculations, still adjusting to the new slipstream drive, "..two hours and fifteen minutes," Swift told.
"Adjust our course," Drayton nodded before turning his attention to the Strategic Operations officer. "Commander, contact the task group and tell them we've adjusted course and we'll rendezvous with them at the Starbase."
“Aye, sir,” Will replied, accessing the long range secure communications system on his console. “Two-one-four acknowledges also. It sounds like they’ll be glad to see us. Our ship alone practically quadruples their defensive strength.”
Drayton nodded to the Commander in acknowledgement of his efforts, then at Tara, before finally back to the main viewer. The ship was, yet again, an angel of mercy for those in danger.
"Even so, I wouldn't want to place the old base in a battle just yet; besides it looks like the pact has something new to deal with, and that means for the time being they might have a new target," replied Zar as he turned his chair around and faced the command center.
"Anything that can worry a fleet that large is not to be trifled with," the Captain mused, the fingers on both hands drumming on the arms of his chair as he stared past the Bolian and at the screen at the forefront of the bridge. "This whole thing could be a disaster waiting to happen..."
Eza continued to monitor his station, the course change didn't seem to affect the drive, not that it should. So far it looked like they had managed to make sure the drive would work.
"Agreed captain," replied Zar as he turned into his chair looking at the forward view screen. "Just like the kid who threw a rock at a hornets nest. Not only was he attacked, but so was the dog ten feet away."
"So hopefully we find out who our mystery attackers are," Will added. "If the Pact are throwing rocks at a nest, let's find out just what type of insect lives in it, and how painful their sting is."
Drayton remained in silence as he watched the slipstream on the viewer, the ship hurtling towards their new destination at astronomical speeds. Whoever these 'insects' were, he'd make sure they would live to regret it if they ever opted to sting his crew or that of any other Federation asset.
He could never have predicted just how big the proverbial hornets nest was...