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Part of USS Constitution: Better The Devil You Know

Better The Devil You Know – 3

USS Constitution (NCC-91700), Fabula Stretch, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78678
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Floating above the main platform within astrometrics, Commander Kazlaf effortlessly manipulated the holographic controls as Captain McCallister and Commander Thaustin opened the doors to the lab. Her Elaysian heritage granted her remarkable adaptability, both in the literal and figurative sense. Physically, she could adjust her gravity in specific labs, liberating her from her usual mobility aids and allowing her to engage fully with the environment and equipment. Figuratively, her experiences with physical limitations nurtured a problem-solving mindset that was as unique as it was effective, enabling her to approach challenges with a blend of creativity and resilience. This dual advantage not only allowed her to navigate her physical surroundings with exceptional talent but also to excel in her professional responsibilities, often leading to breakthroughs that others might not achieve. Her seamless integration of adaptive technology with her innate skills made her an invaluable asset to the crew, consistently driving their missions forward and impacting their endeavours. She was not shy about sharing this and reminding her colleagues about it. She noticed it may annoy them, especially her attitude towards those she felt were intellectually inferior to her. Still, she had got through her career in Starfleet by ensuring those around her knew how good her work was. She was almost like the Borg Queen herself, wanting to achieve perfection (without the goal of wanting to assimilate everyone in her path). 

Like a bird flying gracefully through the air, Kazlaf glided towards them, remaining in the lab area with no gravity. 

“Commander, you said you had finished mapping the area,” McCallister called out to her as he and Thaustin stepped onto the central platform. 

“Indeed,” Kazlaf confirmed as she used the holographic displays to change the extensive scenery she had been studying to show the broader map she and her teams had created since they had entered this region of space. She was proud of their achievement in such a short amount of time. Working together, the teams from Astrometrics, Stellar Cartography, and Planetary Science had put together a rundown of what surrounded the Constitution after it had dropped out of transwarp. The large map around them pointed out some areas of interest. Kazlaf immediately started her presentation to her superiors. “As you know, this area of space does not have any spacefaring civilisations that we can detect but instead is filled with many systems in the early stage of creation. Protostars, gaseous anomalies, gravity fluctuations and subspace interference are at their highest numbers. We don’t think Starfleet has observed such a large area in its earliest creation.”

“So we are certain that none of the planets nearby can sustain life?” Thaustin checked.

“Absolutely,” Kazlaf affirmed. “The only inhabitable places would be small moons orbiting bigger gas giants. However, the largest of those gas giants are just beyond our long-range sensor scans.”

“Are there any dangers along our present course?” McCallister asked, crossing his arms across his chest.

“None,” Kazlaf gleamed as she pressed a button and activated an adjustment to the holographic display to show the new course and heading the Constitution would take to exit this area and on its journey back to the Swallow Nebula region. 

“Any signs of underspace corridors? Did the Turei map we found give us any pointers?” Thaustin asked.

Kazlaf shook her head. “The map itself, from what I can tell, is over a hundred years old or fake. One was created so that if someone else found it, they would think they’ve found a way in. That said, the high amount of gravity fluctuations and subspace interference may be blocking our scans. In the meantime, I’ve got a team on adjusting our sensors to detect anything that could resemble a wormhole or a vortex of some kind to help reduce our time in this space.”

“That’s a starter,” McCallister agreed. “Anything else of interest, Commander?”

“There is,” She pointed to the map as she glided towards what looked like an area they would pass through in a few months. “There are some interesting phenomena along the way. An anomalous gradient to the curvature of space, unusual bioharmonic readings from a binary system-”

She was about to continue but was cut off by the captain. “That does sound fascinating, Commander, but what about places we can stop to refuel and gather other resources we may need?”

Kazlaf seemed a bit deflated by the captain’s lack of excitement for some great exploration ahead of them. She felt it was the type of thing he wanted the senior staff to encourage to keep morale up. After all, they were meant to be explorers, and the Constitution was meant to be a ship of exploration. Nevertheless, she knew he wanted to know this and had prepared for it. “There’s a Y-class planet that we will come across in about two weeks, which has deuterium deposits. Then, in about three months, there appears to be a large asteroid belt filled with dilithium crystals.”

“I’ll make sure T’Penni and Ethav have both refineries up and running before we approach them,” Thaustin noted. 

“Anything else?” McCallister called out.

Now, feeling like what she wanted to share was for nothing, Kazlaf could feel the frustration building within her. Instead of unleashing it against the captain and commander, she took a deep breath and was about to reply politely when the computer beeped at her. She knew what it was connected to. She had already set up a detection program to scan for life, and that was it. 

“What is it, Belire?” Thaustin asked her as she flew through the lab and activated the holographic console.

“Life, commander,” She answered as she brought up the readings. “Long-range sensors have picked up life.”

“I thought you said-” McCallister started to speak, but this time she interrupted him.

“I know what I said, sir, but it would appear I was wrong,” Kazlaf squinted at the readings and then double-checked them. She couldn’t believe it. “Sir, we are picking up Vidiian life signs.”

“Vidiian?” McCallister repeated. “Where?”

Kazlaf quickly adjusted her controls. “I’m attempting to confirm now, captain.”

While she was working, Thaustin turned to the captain. “Sir, if the Vidiians are here, I recommend extreme caution. They were extremely hostile to Voyager during their journey through the Nacene Reach.”

“That’s because they wanted to harvest their organs because of the virus that was infecting their people. I’m sure I read they were cured,” McCallister responded.

“Even still, sir, I recommend being cautious,” Thaustin stated.

Kazlaf eventually found the life sign. “It’s weak, sir, but it’s about three point two light years from where we are now.”

“Is it on a planet?” McCallister asked.

“No, a ship,” Kazlaf answered as she got more detailed scans underway. “Definitely Vidiian, a small vessel, possibly an escape pod, but I’m detecting high amounts of debris near it. Possible remains of ships. There’s too much interference to be sure.”

McCallister considered her words for a moment. Kazlaf could see he was debating what they do, but she knew the captain would pick to investigate. 

“Number One, go to red alert and set a course to intercept. They may need our help,” McCallister ordered.

Immediately, Thaustin nodded and left the lab to get to the bridge ahead of the captain.

McCallister turned to Kazlaf, “Commander, I need you to find a way to filter out these interferences so we can better understand what awaits us.”

“Aye, sir,” Kazlaf replied, knowing she needed to be like the Borg Queen again: efficient and intelligent so she could find more answers for the captain before their arrival.

McCallister took a breath in before he excused himself from Kazlaf’s company. “I’m heading to sickbay to talk to Doctor Uknare about the Vidiians and this Phage of theirs.”