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Part of USS Daedalus: Those Moments Inbetween

The Trail Returns

USS Daedalus
9.10.2401
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Jake Shaw stood in the turbolift, a covered cup of coffee in one hand and a PADD in the other.  Atega hadn’t been kidding when she said fifteen minutes.  He’d had enough time to change into a fresh uniform before scrambling out the door and catching a ride to the bridge.  He took his breaths carefully.  He was about to step foot on the bridge of the Daedalus – a place he’d never been invited to visit.  He’d kept to himself in the communications office recently, and before that, he’d kept his head in the science labs and consoles below decks.  The door slid open.

The bridge was small by most standards, but to Shaw; it was expansive—the sight of the command chair in the middle was the first thing his eyes settled on. The various stations around the edge of the command center were filled with officers, while the helm and tactical console at the front stood alone but just as inspiring.  “Ensign Shaw.”  The voice of his department head broke him out of his reverie.  He walked quickly over to her, and she gestured to the seat next to her, “We’re getting updated triangulation and readings from the signal.”  She sent the data to his console, “Take a look.”

Jake was still feeling the prestige of sitting at a bridge station on the bridge of the Daedalus.  He shook loose the starry-eyed distraction and pulled his chair closer, his hands moving across the console hesitantly at first.  The data looked much the same as it had before, but there were some new facets and variables.  His confidence grew as he teased out the various elements, “Lieutenant Atega – this signal isn’t just a tracking signal.  It’s…it’s a message signal.”  Shaw dug further, manually parsing out the data points.  It took him a few more minutes.  He turned to Atega, “Lieutenant – this almost looks like a…distress call.” 

Presley leaned over and examined his screen.  She was impressed.  Where she had missed, he had found elements that were showing up as one thing to the computer but to the eyes of Shaw, he was finding something else.  “You’re seeing that in…that marker and that marker.  The longer I look at it…, the more it has a repetitive nature.  I don’t suppose you’ve figured out what it’s saying.”

A shake of the head, “That would take more time.”  He ran his hands over the console, “If you look at most distress call signals, there’s a similar nature – the peaks and the valleys.  This one is more of a rolling hills kind of signal.  There’s always a purpose in communications – human, alien, or beyond.  This signal isn’t meant to be noticed – it’s just a simple code that wouldn’t raise any kind of alarms.”

Sadie Fowler had been listening to them talk and slid over to watch his screen, “I’ve seen this kind of thing before – hiding in plain sight.  Syndicate operations use it, and we’ve been building a log of Pandora Crawford’s activity in the same way.”  She looked closer, “That doesn’t match any signals I’ve seen before…that’s a new one.  And out here, that’s unusual.”

The door to the bridge opened, and Captain Dread stepped out as someone started the ‘captain on the bridge’ call before she waved it down, “As you were.  Fowler, Atega – your report said you had something weird.  We seem to be the ones handling the weird for now.”

Atega introduced Shaw, “Captain Dread, Ensign Shaw has been working on this.”  

Jake nearly fainted, fighting to stay focused.  He gave the CO a nod and turned to his station, explaining what had caught his attention in the first place.  Dread asked pointed questions as he went and patiently listened as he rounded out what they were thinking now as more details were presenting themselves.

Dread tapped at the screen, “Is there a warp signature buried somewhere in that signal?”

Shaw frowned and went to work, “I hadn’t thought of it, but let me see.”  Moments later, a faint trail began to appear, and a mild klaxon beeped from his station and from tactical, “Uh, Captain…sir…the warp signature is being tied to an open case from the security department onboard Mackenzie.”  He pulled up the information, “Assigned to Lieutenants Barzo and V’Luth.”

Dread read the briefing on the screen, “Well, we’d better notify our Squadron Flagship of our discovery.  Good work, Mr. Shaw.  Keep both eyes on that signal…we’re going to give chase.  Helm, plot an intercept course with that signal and get us on our way.  We might get to close a case today.”

Jake turned to his console.  The day continued to surprise.