Entering the Maelstrom
Posted on Wednesday May 19th, 2021 @ 8:29pm by Captain Nilani Azulas & Lieutenant Commander Deila Fargold & Lieutenant Caspar Matero 'CJ' & Lieutenant Anjohl Gaden & Lieutenant JG Dadora Jecia & Ensign Ekal Dreisor & Lieutenant Javorian Travis & Lieutenant JG Noli Auru
Episode 2: The Cruel Hand of Fate
Timeline: Day 14 at 1855
In the darkness of space, dozens of lightyears from anything or anyone, one could be forgiven for believing that storm clouds had gathered. The black heavens of space, magnificent on any given day, were made all the more enchanting by the plasma storms irradiating the nebula clouds and particle pockets that made up the outer layer of the phenomenon. Beyond the lightning, the thunderous claps and the solar winds were stars that emitted triple the amount of radiation as elsewhere in the galaxy, subspace rifts that threatened to rip space apart at the seams, and quantum destabilizations that could tear the timeline to pieces. As if dealt a cruel hand by fate itself, the phenomenon known as the Maelstrom throughout the Federation and beyond, seemingly held all the clues as to the mysterious fate of the starship Nogura's former crew. And in true Starfleet fashion, it was up to the ship's new custodians to solve the puzzle.
Thus, on the periphery of the swirling mixture of quantum fissures, gravimetric shockwaves, spatial distortions and twister-like currents of phased plasma energy, the mighty Sovereign-class starship had come to a stand still, silently observing the massive scientific conundrum before it. Once inside, communication with those beyond the boundaries of the phenomenon would likely cease, meaning the crew of the Nogura would be on their own. Yet somehow, somewhere, a signal, decaying in strength with each passing second, called like a siren from the deep, luring the sailors of the starship into the eye of the storm.
On the bridge, Captain Azulas stood balancing on the edge of the step that housed the command chairs, rocking gently back and forth with her hands on her hips as she stared at the viewscreen and the sight before them. The sight was magnificent, and if it wasn't for the rapidly decaying signal, she might have taken the time to order a much thorough analysis of the field before them, but not today.
Ekal, eyes sharp and ahead as she flew, was one of the first to see it all. She could feel her scales crawling with anticipation. This was what it was about, then? This was why Federation peoples abandoned the comfort and safety of their native space to 'seek out new life and civilizations'? Not for conquering, not for defense, but to know and to see. This she could get behind. She finally closed her mouth, then glanced to make sure no one had seen her awe.
Deila stood beside and a little behind the captain, arms folded across her chest, and eyes wider than they'd been in a long time. This...this truly was something else. There weren't any words to describe how dangerously beautiful the Maelstrom was. She leaned closer to the captain, her voice just above a whisper.
"Really something, isn't it? Something so fascinating and yet could possibly damage every one of our systems."
Nilani's eyes were filled with wonder as she exchanged glances with the XO, a child-like grin on her face at the thought of exploring the phenomena. It made her happy to know her Number One had the same sense of wonder as her.
Dadora looked up from her station at the sight before her. Somehow, words such as incredible didn't seem to due the sight before them all justice. She allowed the sensors to continue passive scans of the region as she took a moment to simply watch and listen to the wonderment of the sight being shared by the rest of the crew.
Although the Maelstrom looked pleasing to the eye for some, Chura didn't like it. It was plagued with danger. He kept his eyes on his console and constantly kept watch on his scanners should anything happen, he wanted to be ready.
"Magnificent," the acting Chief Science Officer lent back in his chair, arms folded across his chest as he grinned at the sight before them.
A massive flash of light from the cloud of gas threatened to blind the bridge crew for a moment, and pulled the Captain from her amazed stupor. "All stations, report in," she called loudly, spinning on her heels and taking the few short steps to return to the safety of her command chair.
Ekal blinked and checked the Nav Sensors, "One thousand four hundred and sixty two kilometers off our port bow."
Azulas silently nodded in acknowledgement, opting to wait for the status reports to come in before she gave her next set of orders.
Dadora's eyes clinched at the bright illumination of the screen. Yet, as soon as she was able to, she opened her eyes and turned her attention to the screens before her. Science would surely have a field day with those readings. However, Dadora was certain that she didn't care to be on the receiving end of one of those flashes.
"It doesn't appear any of our major systems were affected, Captain," Dadora stated. "Confirming with diagnostics now while the rest of the ship reports in."
"Tactical systems are working as they should, although there was an energy spike at the exact moment of the flash of light but everything seems to be in working order." The Bajoran reported.
"Sensors are going haywire," Lieutenant Travis grinned, tapping away furiously, "we're collecting so much data already."
Gaden had wanted to be on the bridge for the action, or at least the show, but he had duties in Sickbay. Gone were the days when he was a junior officer and pretty much, except when he was on duty, had the run of the ship. Now, he was a department head.
It wasn't just the administrative duties, which he did not like, that were keeping him busy. There were patients to see. He was seeing a teenager who had managed to override the safety protocols on the holodeck and break his leg in the process. The doctor was about to give the young man a lecture, when the Captain's voice reached him.
"=/\=Sickbay reporting from down here sir. What's happening?=/\=
"=/\=We've arrived at the Maelstrom Doctor. It's going to be a bumpy ride, so be prepared for casualties, hopefully minor, along the way," the voice of the Trill commander of the ship filled the sickbay ward as nurses and orderlies alike stopped and listened in.
"=/\= Aye sir, we'll be ready.=/\=
Then the new minted Chief Medical Officer gathered his staff and began giving them orders and preparing the sickbay for the worst possible scenarios.
CJ looked at the 'pool table' with a quizzical expression as the initial data came in and, raising an eyebrow, looked at his team.
"Well, that's unusual," his Deputy, Murphy, muttered quietly.
"I'll say," CJ tapped his commbadge. "=/\=Captain, Engineering here. I concur with Ops and down here impulse, structural integrity and internal systems are green across the board," he said calmly, "but, I believe that we may be starting to see the effects of the phenomena. It is a minor point, but the off-axis field controllers in the nacelles have required calibration, twice," he quickly checked his display, nodding to himself. "All within design tolerances, Captain, but it could indicate instability in subspace."
"=/\=Keep an eye on it and let me know if it poses a threat to the ship," the voice of Azulas filled the engineering bay.
Having gone around the decks and stations, and the reports indicating that, for now, the ships systems were relatively unaffected, Captain Azulas was satisfied that it was now time to get to work. "Okay Ensign. Take us in, speed at your discretion," the Captain instructed with a nod to the Cardassian. "Shields up," she called out to Chura.
"Ahead Warp Four." Ekal announced, despite it meaning very little at this point. She would be more cautious, but of course, the signal was fading. She did not want to be the reason they lost it.
"Shields activated. Charging phasers and loading torpedo bays, Captain." Kaato reported promptly.
Nilani shot the Bajoran a confused look, her initial query being why the weapons systems, but then she recalled the tale of a very famous starship from the time of her previous host, Jennica. The Enterprise-B had been severely damaged responding to distress calls inside a far less dangerous spatial anomaly than the Maelstrom, and part of the reason was a lack of weapons and other systems. Granted, much had changed in the near century that had passed, but caution never hurt. Nodding at the Bajoran, she gave him the seal of approval for his cautious act.
Deila stood watching the viewscreen for a few more moments, before turning to the captain. "If we don't figure out what it is we're tracking, this mission will be over a lot sooner than we'd like. I'd like to begin a deep analysis and dissection of the signal. Maybe enlist an officer or two from ops to assist?"
Nilani listened to the suggestion from the XO and, the idea certainly had merit. She would have preferred to have the XO on the bridge during the journey through the Maelstrom, but maybe they had an opportunity to kill two birds with one proverbial stone? "Make it so, Number One. Keep us updated on anything relevant. Ensign Ekal will endeavour to keep the bumps in the road to a minimum, I'm sure," the Trill nodded in agreement.
"Indeed Captain." Ekal responded without looking up, then announced, "Minimizing bumps."
Jumping to warp, Nogura slipped into the slipstream of her high velocity propulsion system just long enough to travel for a few moments until the craft was rapidly, and violently, pulled out of warp by one of the many spatial phenomenon. The violent shaking of the ship and the impact from the aforementioned phenomena caused the red alert klaxons to call out across the ship, the red strobe lighting to kick in and officers on every deck clung to their chairs and consoles for safety until the ship was stable again.
Ekal smiled- or maybe she was just baring her teeth- and held where her stomach had hit the console, "Bump minimization failed. Propulsion back online."
“Ok, let’s try slow and steady,” the Captain gave a nervous smirk in the direction of the Cardassian. “Ahead, half impulse,” she instructed.
"Half impulse." Ekal confirmed, lighting that up and dropping her face back into neutral.
The familiar hum of going to warp quickly died down, and Dadora was immediately scanning the systems to ascertain what had gone wrong. "The integrity of our warp field collapsed," Dadora reported. "It's like the ionization in this cloud quickly neutralized it."
She monitored their progress as they moved ahead on impulse power. So far, it didn't seem to be having the same effects as it had when they'd gone to warp. Hopefully, they wouldn't have to find themselves leaving in a hurry, at least until Engineering found a work-around.
CJ sucked at his bottom lip. "It's linked," he said finally, "to the earlier fluctuations in the nacelles." His team looked at him. "So we need to alter the asymmetrical peristaltic field manipulation. Right."
"Plasma cavity?" That was Murphy.
"Uh huh," CJ said, staring at the display before him. "Or the field release gap. Probably both." He tapped his commbadge.
"=/\=Engineering to Bridge."
"=/\=This is the Captain. Go ahead," the voice of the Trill in the command chair of the bridge called out.
"=/\= Warp engines are offline, estimated time back on line ten minutes." He paused. "=/\= I need to dispatch teams to the nacelles, Captain, to recalibrate them to deal with the effects of the Maelstrom."
"=/\=Understood Chief. Keep in contact and let us know if we need to do anything from up here," the Commanding Officer told over the comm before tapping on the arm controls and terminating the channel.
Watching with great concern as her starship inched forward, the Trill considered holding her breath until they reached their destination, but she didn't fancy dying of hypoxia or, worse, being responsible for the death of her symbiont. No, for now she would simply watch, and wait.