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Part of USS Daedalus: Mission 2 – The Edge of Hope and Despair and USS Mackenzie: Mackenzie Squadron : The Edge of Hope and Despair

DEHD 014 – Forgotten Wonders

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The transporter lights faded.  Lieutenant Commander Milton Ford slipped out his tricorder and scanned silently, muting the sound in the transporter room.  “Pretty standard M Class readings.”

As she walked a careful boundary around them, Lieutenant Jordan Reid had her medical tricorder in hand, “Air is pretty comparable.  The two suns are going to get hard to handle as they swing together.”  The planet had two suns that orbited independently  – they came together towards the evening hours, creating what the computer extrapolated as a daily eclipse.  Fowler had become excited about the situation and asked to stay behind to investigate further.  Reid was the next best thing to a science officer, and she wasn’t hating being on the away team.  Ford was experienced and really good at his job.  Atega was also talented in language and communication.  Reid knew why she was there – if things got ugly and bloody, she would be the one patching up the pieces.  She glanced at Presley, “What can you hear on the radio?”

Atega had constructed a radio receiver from models and technical manuals of the time and found it unusually exciting. Her studies at the Academy had included the methods and means by which primitive systems operated.  Flipping the switches and pushing the dials brought her joy, and she felt a smile creep across her lips.  There was a burst of static as she tuned to the signal, and then a soft melody surged out of the speaker.  She listened momentarily, “I think that’s…some kind of jazz?”

Ford walked up, his eyes bright with interest, “Karson Coltraine, around 2295.  His third album.”  He listened further as he conducted an invisible band and closed his eyes until he had heard enough, “That’s ‘Take the Shuttle to the Station’ – pretty classic tune.”  He chuckled, “So, not a first contact situation.”  He pointed north, “Signals that way.”  Reid and Atega stared at him briefly as he shrugged, “I like the classics; what can I say?”

 

They walked for another hour until they entered a thick forest.  They proceeded carefully and crouched in cover at the edge of the valley where they had detected the colony.  Ford scanned with his compact binoculars, “They’re there.  The buildings are pretty solid, and lots of work has been done.  Aside from the radio tower…which looks like a recent addition, there is no technology of note.”  He handed the binoculars to Reid, “They look pretty healthy for having been out here without help.”

Jordan was impressed. She hadn’t expected a significant elderly population. She completed her sweep of the area: “There are multiple age groups that I can see—some children, a few teens, and numerous young adults. The older population is a curiosity.  I’d agree with Commander Ford – they’re not a first-contact situation.”

Atega nodded.  Now, what to do? “Do we walk out and introduce ourselves?”

Ford appeared deep in thought as he watched the colony members working and moving through the village.  “They don’t have any early warning systems – no patrols, security, or defense measures.”  He chewed on his bottom lip, “Downright peculiar.”

Reid let her mind wander toward his logic, “You think this is some kind of…trap?”  She frowned.  It hadn’t entered her thought process.

“I don’t know what I think, Jord.  Let’s find some better cover and see what we can see.  Make sure Dad keeps a lock on us.”

 

“Try the scan again in the next grid.” The voice of Chief Science Officer Sadie Fowler spoke nervously as Chief of Operations Calog Tir and Deputy Chief Engineer Elizabeth McKee worked at scanning the deep ground beneath them in search of the signal or even a ship.  They moved the antigrav-powered scanning vehicle, transmitting the data as they went.  The computer worked to decipher what lay beneath as it separated out the natural versus the unnatural.  It was a powerful piece of equipment that had incredible sight into the depths of the underground, and Tir was mesmerized by its computing prowess and the distance it could cover in its scans.  The science side of Daedalus was sophisticated, and he’d slowly been getting to understand how specialized they could get within science operations.

McKee groused, “Another clear section, Sadie.  We’ll move to the next one.”  She tapped at the controls, “You really have to wonder if we’re gonna find this thing.  Chief’ll be heartbroken if we don’t.”  It had taken some work, but the two women had found more common ground as they’d worked together.  Greer’s connection to her former CO and friend, Ambrose Harris, had helped.

Tir guided the unit over a small hill as they moved into the next clearing.  In his mind, his symbiont wondered aloud if he was developing feelings for McKee.  He didn’t immediately rebuke her, which she noticed and responded with feelings of comfort.  She had made her feelings known about the Executive Officer trainee last month, who seemed to express her feelings towards Calog.  He’d found it challenging to try and reciprocate when his other half viewed her negatively.  Tir hadn’t given him the demanded explanation when he’d pushed her.  Her outright approval here was a further mystery.  As much as she shared with him, she sometimes held things in reserve, frustrating him.

“There’s something.”  McKee pointed at an odd reading that was resolving as the computer rendered the image.

“What is it?” was Fowler’s question.  She was standing at her station, unable to sit and wait patiently.  Whatever was down there was something big, something new, and something she wanted to understand.  Science was her mind, and her soul was hungry for discovery.

Tir shook his thoughts and peered at the display, “A cave, look like.  Just down the way.  And a pretty big one, far as it can tell.” He tapped at the control panel, “Big enough for a colony ship.  Sending you the measurements now.”  Another beep, “That’s as far as the computer can do – the rock and sediment are making it difficult to see beyond the preliminary report.”

McKee grumbled, “I’m guessing that means we have to go in.”

“Correct, Lieutenant.  Station the scanning rig outside the cave – we’ll lock on and send you a security team to escort you in.  Careful is the word of the day.”  

The channel closed, McKee sighing, “We’ve used that word a lot on this mission.  Starting to wonder if it’s gonna lose its meaning.”  She caught an annoyed look from Tir, “What?”

“Don’t say stuff you don’t want to come back to haunt you.  Let’s get to the cave and get our escorts.  The faster we’re back on Daedalus, the better.”