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In Orbit

Posted on Sun Apr 10th, 2022 @ 7:03pm by Captain Lucy Sharpe & Lieutenant Richelle Sorenson & Lieutenant Broderick Drayton & Lieutenant Osher Shouwei & Lieutenant S'teia

Mission: Message in the Dark
Location: Bridge

In the four hours as the Proteus sped along at high warp and closed on their destination Lieutenant Swan had gathered all available data on Remmil VI: "Captain, I have data on the system and ion radiation when you are ready," she called out.

"Good," Sharpe rose from the central seat and crossed towards the science station beckoning Richelle to follow. "What do you have?"

"There has been no Federation vessel in this area for more than thirty years, when there was survey mission by the USS Drummond.” The science officer explained. “From their short report: Remmil VI is the sixth of eight planets within the system. The Fifth and Sixth planets are Class M. Only Six has sentient life: a Humanoid pre-warp civilization. The planet has an exceptionally thick and dense atmosphere, along with a hot and very humid climate. It would be comparable to a very lush humid rainforest. Some items of more advanced technology were noted on scans, and it is believed that the Remmilians maybe trading with other space-going species in the vicinity. Since the data is thirty years old, we can anticipate there may have been further advances since then" Swan stated.

"Let's still approach with caution,” the captain nodded. “The last thing we want is to create a scene with the locals or a neighbouring trader.”

"The other matter is the increasing ionic radiation.” The young officer added with a grimace. “There is an ion storm approaching the system. It originates in the nearby Jutar System where the star is becoming a Red Giant. It is emitting increasing amounts of solar flares and some of those travel across space in ion storms. This is a large and potentially dangerous storm, the ionic radiation levels in the centre would be extremely hazardous to the ship were we to be caught in it.”

“How bad is it?”

“I anticipate the leading edge to arrive in approximately five hours, with the centre of the storm here in six.” Swan explained bringing the data on her console and pointed out the key factors. “Those are only approximations. Fortunately, the dense atmosphere provides protection from the radiation should the worst case happen. However, we will lose sensor capability in about three hours and would recommend we leave the system before the centre arrives."
"How long until the ion storm passes completely?" Sharp asked, concerned that the window of opportunity to rescue the crew of the Nightwalker was narrowing by each moment they deliberated on their next move.

"Unable to predict that Captain. Sensors cannot penetrate through the storm to the trailing edge. It could be several more hours or days..."

"I don't intend of be around long enough to find out," the Captain replied sourly watching the gathering storm with trepidation. "Have you located the Nightwalker?" Sharpe spun towards Operations.

"I have, sir." Broderick looked to his sensor readings. “It’s on the southernmost continent, sensors suggest it’s mostly intact.”

"I would recommend launching a probe to the planet", Richelle suggested. "That way sensors will have some assistance once the storm arrives. Also, given that the evidence the Nightwalker was attacked, I recommend going to silent yellow alert until the rescue is over."

The Captain nodded in agreement: "Bring us to yellow alert, launch probe. Anything on sensors yet to suggest further weapons fire?"

"None, Captain," Osher replied after a moment of double checking the sensor data.

"Probe is away" Broderick responded. “I am Detecting a plasma signature is consistent with Federation warp technology, possibly from the Nightwalker from the chain of islands.”

There was a sudden beeping from his panel. "Probe is being tracked!” Broderick announced alarmed. “Unidentified object is closing in on the probe at high speed"

The beeping got faster, then abruptly cut off.

Broderick stood upright and turned to look at Sharpe. "The probe has been destroyed, Captain" he said flatly.

Richelle reviewed the data on her console. "Shall we approach and try to establish communications Captain?" she asked. "If there is a local government, they could have misinterpreted our probe as an act of aggression. If not, we could find out who the attackers are."

"I recommend we attempt another probe," Osher stated before the captain could respond, "If we can determine the technology these people have access to then we could possibly rig a probe with some stealth capability. If we contact the government and tell them what we are here for then instead of helping us they could hold any survivor’s hostage for concessions. Contacting them should be a last resort."

Losing the probe was very unexpected and concerning for the Captain. She wanted the Nightwalker crew recovered quickly before the ion storm drew too close, putting the Proteus at risk, yet they needed to do this correctly and carefully especially as the Remmilians had demonstrated the ability to disable a probe. It posed another delicate question: what else could they do?

"Add in evasive flight pattern and launch another probe," Sharpe instructed. "We need more relevant intelligence, the reports from the Drummond may no longer be accurate."

Speaking up, "I can mask the probe if you want. It can be done with a tiny holo emitter that I can attach quickly and program it to blend with its surroundings. Like camouflage," Richelle said.

The Captain shook her head at the engineer's suggestion: "Hold that thought for now."

“Captain, wait!” Swan called out loudly stopping the launch. “I’m picking up something new,” she frowned at her console as if trying to understand just what it was. “I think it’s a message but the UT can’t translate it. Whatever it says it’s on a repeating loop.”

Crossing over to the science station the Captain was intrigued: “Let’s hear it.”

A string of unrecognizable words came through the speakers, the quality cracking slightly with the increasing radiation. The transmission paused momentarily before repeating.

“It’s an automated message, a warning message perhaps,” Sharpe pondered. “Maybe it’s responsible for our probe. Can you identify where it’s coming from?”

“No, sorry Captain,” Swan shook her head. “I’ll keep trying and to translate the message.”

“Good. Is the second probe ready mister Shouwei?” the Captain turned back to tactical.

Osher quickly programmed another probe as he spoke, "I am sending a probe on a ballistic course, powered down," he glanced over Richelle's way. "I think if you can do what you say then do so on probe number three."

The second probe shot out on a slightly different course, as the data began coming in Osher said, "Just a thought, but if our people made a spectacular entrance it might have shown up in news feeds. That could give us some idea what region they landed in, and maybe what political faction we have to deal with."

“You would have thought,” Swan countered from her station. “But I’m not picking up any broadcasts or any surface transmissions at all. Just that garbled automated message.”

The alarm began beeping again.

"Probe is being tracked as before" Osher announced. "Attempting evasive manoeuvres" The beeping sped up. "Unable to break away, reversing course" He flipped the probe on its tail hoping to get data on whatever was attacking it before it was destroyed but showed nothing but open sky.

"Time to impact five seconds... four... three... two...” Just then a small patch of sky seemed to shimmer out of focus. The patch filled the screen, then the display went black. “Probe has been destroyed."

“Replay the last few seconds,” Sharpe instructed staring keenly at the viewscreen. “Slowly,”

The image began moving forward again, as the partial seconds wound down the shimmer increased in size as it closed in on the probe until it filled the screen again, before the data ended.

“Could that be a cloaked missile?” the Captain asked the bridge.

“If our probe was destroyed by some form of cloaked missile, it wasn’t from the surface, maybe there is a ship or weapons platform in orbit,” Richelle concluded. “As neither probe detected any it may also be cloaked.”

“Besides the one warp plasma trail and several impulse trails there is no other indication of advanced propulsion systems in either probe's data,” Swan added.

"Cloaking technology is not in the Rimmalian technology yet so I would say it was either or both Romulan and or Klingon. Now how or who got their hands on it and just how they tried to make it work is a good question but one thing is for sure someone interfered in their development," Richelle stated.

"Romulans and Klingons are not the only powers with cloaking technology" Osher pointed out. "At this time, there is insufficient data to assign events to either party."

“Then there’s the message,” Swan bought them back. “Maybe whomever left it built these cloaked weapons and platform.”

"Alright," Sharpe started to pace: "Let's say there was an outside party which influenced the local inhabitants, one who had cloaking technology - why is no more evidence of advancement? What happened?"

"It got suppressed by the government. This would not be the first time a government suppressed technology from an outside influence," Richelle suggested.

"We could speculate about this for days and get nowhere," Osher noted, "For all we know some genius down there stumbled on a means of cloaking their weapons. If we truly wanted answers then we would need to find key personnel, beam them up, have Lieutenant Sorenson read their minds for what we wanted to know. Then have Doctor S'teia perform a medical procedure to wipe their memories of the event."

Richelle's head spun around quickly and just as fast she said, "Do what? Read their minds? The only person that can order me to read another's mind is the captain. Otherwise it is taboo for me to do so," she said. Now that really caught her unprepared. Knowing just how bad the captain and the rest needed answers, her oath stopper her from reading minds.

"That won't be necessary," Sharpe shut down the discussion before it escalated.

Osher's face adopted a disappointed expression. He was rather looking forward to a possible abduction and interrogation. Especially if it had been some arrogant type who thought ruling half a planet made him something. Ah well...

While the command team discussed matters Lieutenant Swan reviewed more of the USS Drummond's reports and followed up on Shouwei's sensible suggestion of monitoring the planet communication networks and probe data with surprising results. “The Drummond reported on its survey the planet was controlled by two opposing fractions: The Disciples of Jutar and the other The Temple of Jutar. Both claimed to be the true followers of the local Deity, Jutar, but viewed the others as less faithful, misguided and bordering on heresy. Their disagreements go back centuries or so the Drummond recorded, yet judging by the data gathered from our probes there’s no evidence of ongoing conflict or even a population. The infrastructures, towns, cities, all remain deadly silent and…empty.”

"Underground! Caverns or tunnels! Is it possible that they moved underground to live or escape from the fighting?" Richelle asked looking at Sharpe. "It would explain why there is no evidence of a population," she added.

"Or they have retreated to bunkers to avoid the storm," Osher suggested, "It is possible that this could work to our advantage; if they have taken to going to ground we might have time to conduct our search unimpeded."

"I agree with you Mister Shouwei this could play in our favour," the Captain returned to her seat. "Richelle," she turned to her XO. "Assemble an away party and retrieve the survivors."

"Understood captain," Richelle said as she pointed to Osher and Swan. "Shouwei, Swan, let's go," she said getting up headed for the turbolift.

"Drayton and Doctor S'teia please join me in the transporter room for an away mission to rescue survivors," Richelle said as the lift took them to the deck where the transporters were located.

After S'teia had gathers up a med kit, she reported to the transporter room. She had been briefed on the crash. She tried her best to prepare for any eventuality but in reality she knew that there was always a chance something might come up that she was not prepared for, or at least expecting. She walked in, "Doctor S'teia reporting as requested."

One of Osher's people had arrived with the standard field gear, namely a phaser and tricorder. He knew the doctor had her medical tricorder so she would not need one, but the others each did. After they and the phasers were distributed he check both his weapon and tricorder to confirm they were working.

He spared the others a glance and said, "I am anticipating trouble. I always do. Expect whatever plans we make to immediately fall apart."

He smiled wryly, "If I am wrong feel free to mock me for my insecurities after we return safe and sound."

Richelle waited for the others to arrive before they transported to the surface. She wasn't expecting trouble but she was taking no chances.

"I'll bear that in mind sir," Swan smirked as they stepped upon the transporter.


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