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Part of USS Constitution: Wherefore Art Thou

Wherefore Art Thou – 6

USS Constitution (NCC-91701), Fabula Stretch, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78440.84
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The USS Constitution hummed with activity as Commander Kazlaf moved gracefully in her anti-gravity exoskeleton suit within the astrometrics lab. Her elongated fingers danced across the holographic controls, manipulating complex data streams that pulsed with the heartbeat of the ship. She felt the weight of responsibility pressing upon her as she prepared to address the senior staff regarding the mysterious computer malfunctions that had plagued the vessel.

“Thank you all for gathering,” Kazlaf began, her voice resonating with authority as she addressed the attentive officers assembled before her. The soft hum of the ship’s systems provided a constant backdrop to her words, underscoring the situation’s urgency. She was known for her no-nonsense attitude and getting straight to the point after getting everyone together amidst the chaos now affecting the ship. 

“As many of you are aware,” Kazlaf continued, her gaze sweeping across the room, “our ship has been experiencing random computer malfunctions of late.” She paused, allowing the gravity of the situation to settle over the room like a heavy cloak. “After extensive analysis, I can confirm that these malfunctions stem from a photonic surge induced by our attempt to use the interplexing communication beacon in conjunction with the nearby pulsar.”

“That would disprove the theory that the malfunction detected was our bio-neural circuitry failing,” Ethav remarked, his Andorian antennas twitching as he spoke. 

A ripple of concern spread through the gathered officers, their expressions mirroring the gravity of the situation. Kazlaf’s hands moved deftly through the holographic interface, illustrating the intricate chain of events that had led to the ship’s current predicament.

“As I said, the surge originated from the pulsar itself,” Kazlaf shared, her voice steady despite the weight of the explanation, “it has grown through our systems, causing disruptions across various ship functions. However, the most alarming revelation is that the surge harboured a distinct bioelectrical pattern.”

The realisation hung in the air like a dark cloud, casting a pall over the room as the implications of Kazlaf’s words began to sink in.  T’Penni raised an eyebrow inquisitively, her stoic demeanour betraying the keen intellect that lay beneath. “Have we identified the nature of these beings, Commander Kazlaf?” T’Penni inquired, her voice calm and measured amidst the palpable tension that permeated the room.

Kazlaf nodded, her expression grave, the weight of responsibility evident in her eyes as she met T’Penni’s gaze. “Preliminary scans suggest that these entities are photonic in nature, likely native to the pulsar’s environment. However, their motives remain unclear.”

“Are we certain these are lifeforms and not a random holographic malfunction?” Lonar asked as she crossed her arms against her chest. The Cardassian female sighed heavily. “I know photonic beings can be real, but are we certain?”

“Those bioelectric readings have a neural signature to them.” Doctor Uknare pointed at one of the displays. “They’re the real McCoy.”

“So we have some unwanted guests,” Jarata said as he leaned against a nearby console. 

The silence that followed was palpable, each senior staff member grappling with the implications of Kazlaf’s revelation.

“So, what are our options?” McCallister asked his team. “Can we fix the ship?”

“I can’t see how,” Kazlaf replied. “Until we deal with these photonic beings, we will continue to have these malfunctions.” She knew the captain would want to resolve the situation, but Kazlaf wasn’t aware of how they could secure the technical issues. She turned to T’Penni to add something. 

“If we can contain the beings in Holodeck One, then we should be able to undertake repairs and ensure our computer systems remain unaffected,” T’Penni added.

“Any ideas then? How do we contain them?” Lonar asked aloud. “How can we isolate them if they can access our systems through our holographic projectors?”

Commander Thaustin’s voice resonated with determination as he addressed McCallister, who stood beside him. “Captain, I suggest we initiate a diplomatic approach. I volunteer to lead an away team to Holodeck One to make first contact with these beings.”

Captain McCallister regarded Thaustin with a nod of approval. “That sounds like a reasonable approach, but what program are they currently existing in?” 

Kazlaf, like everyone else in the room, turned to Doctor Uknare. The Haliian medical officer sighed heavily. “I left the Romeo and Juliet program running.”

A chuckle escaped the captain. If Kazlaf knew him better, she would have thought he was annoyed, but she was sure it was amusement. “Shakespeare makes first contact?” McCallister rubbed his forehead.

“At least it isn’t a Captain Proton holonovel,” Jarata remarked. 

“Or Vulcan Love Slave: Part Two The Revenge,” Counsellor Naef-Oron commented with a deep, heavy chuckle.

Everyone paused to stare at the Brikar male after that statement. Kazlaf knew that the holo-novel series that the counsellor was referring to was known for its steamy and erotic nature. 

“Anyway,” McCallister said, moving the meeting on swiftly. He turned to the first officer. “Number One, proceed with caution, and keep me informed of any developments. In the meantime, T’Penni and Ethav are working on repairs.”

With the meeting adjourned, Kazlaf watched as everyone started to depart astrometrics. T’Penni remained, focussed on the main sensor readings of the ship’s systems.

“Lieutenant,” Kazlaf said, interrupting the Vulcan’s focus, “are you okay?”

Placing her hands behind her back, the engineer looked at Kazlaf. “I am fine, thank you.”

“You sure? You seem distracted?” Kazlaf pointed at the display.

Kazlaf noticed the hesitation in T’Penni’s response. “I did not focus properly on the ship after the beacon failed.”

“We all make mistakes, lieutenant,” Kazlaf said, feeling a sense of sympathy for the young woman. “And sometimes we can become too focussed on what is in front of us instead of the bigger picture.”

“Indeed,” T’Penni agreed.

“Just keep an open mind and learn from this,” Kazlaf advised with a warm smile. She knew that would probably be the only time she would be this ‘nice’. 

T’Penni bowed slightly to the chief science officer before exiting the lab. Kazlaf watched her leave before returning to the work before her. She knew that she needed to compile as much data as possible on their guests for Commander Thaustin before he entered the holodeck. She only hoped that he didn’t ask her to join him as part of the away team.