The low murmuring of voices silenced as Ryder and Savik entered the conference room. The senior staff of the Tesla was already gathered around the large hologram table, waiting to be instructed on their upcoming mission. Savik took her seat at the right-hand side of the captain’s chair and began tapping on the controls to bring up an image of the M-class world Ryex.
“Delta Quadrant,” Dorner quietly stated in recognition. “Close to the Barzan wormhole.”
Tahir was listening closely to the others, but decided to just see where the conversation was to go. He had learned sometimes it was best to just keep his comments or opinions to himself.
Riru Sareth who sat next to Tahir just gave a loud snort, seemingly unimpressed by their Chief Flight Officer’s uncanny ability to recognize a planet’s origin simply from a holographic image.
“Delta quadrant worlds generally have distinctive properties making them fairly easy to identify,” the El-Aurian humbly shrugged it off, choosing not to acknowledge the derisive noise that had come from Sareth’s nose.
Savik continued to throw up the rest of the information the Voyager scans had gathered on the planet Ryex.
“Captain Ryder has received the details for our next assignment from Commodore Bennet, a survey mission to an M-class planet called Ryex in the Delta Quadrant,” Savik informed them.
Amanda had been ignoring the other conversations in the room trying to focus only on what the command of the ship had to say. Having a chance to ask a question she began “My first question is do we know what we are surveying exactly?”
Savik turned to their Captain for the answer to this question.
Michael had really began to trust his crew and allowed them to talk before the briefing, but as they quieted down he began to listen to Tia start the brief. He had decided to let her lead as to give her a chance to really get settled in her new position. When he was deferred too he nodded and replied “Truthfully Amanda we’re not sure of what we are surveying, but that’s part of the fun.”
“Since little to nothing is known of this planet we will need to be prepared for anything,” Savik agreed. “From what the Voyager picked up as they were flying by, there was some strange interference with some of the readings from their scans. No life forms were positively detected, but there seemed to be some sort of anomalies that affected the readings, so it is uncertain how accurate these readings are. Since the planet is M-class, it is entirely possible we may meet some indigenous species native to the planet. It is assumed if there are any life forms on the planet, they are likely not to be highly advanced or we would have had some form of contact with them during our travels.”
Ruvok decided to ask the obvious question, but the most logical. “So this mission is purely us exploring the planet looking for lifeforms or proof of civilization?”
Savik nodded in agreement. “Yes, our mission is purely exploratory to gather intel and research. If there are indigenous species on the planet, we will try our best to steer clear of them to avoid any possible contamination of their natural civilization.”
Michael nodded with the information given by Tia. “Correct we will not contaminate the planet or change the natural order of things. You all know the Prime Directive. We will follow it.”
“Any further questions?” Savik looked around the table to see if anyone would speak up but the senior members of the Tesla seemed content with the briefing. Savik noted Sareth’s fingers drumming an impatient tempo on the surface of the table and decided to wrap things up. “If that’s it, then everyone will report to your stations and ensure the ship and crew are prepped for travel.”
Moments later, Savik had completed her rounds and finished inspecting every station to her satisfaction. She stepped on the bridge with a sweeping glance around to make sure everything was in order.
Michael looked at Tia upon his arrival back to the bridge after stopping by the bar to talk to Felicity for a moment. “What’s the status?”
“The Tesla is prepared for departure, Captain,” Savik updated him.
“Excellent! Has the course been plotted Dorner?” Ryder asked.
“A course has been plotted, Sir,” Dorner answered.
“Is Engineering all set, Sareth?” Ryder questioned.
“Our girl is ready to go,” Sareth responded.
“Let’s do it!” he ordered.
The ship glided out and whirled into warp. The crew busily checked their screens for operating updates as the Tesla started off on her journey and soon Dorner gave the all clear.
“All systems are reading normal, sir. We should be arriving in the Delta Quadrant in twenty-seven hours.”
Michael nodded and folded his arms behind his back. “Then I leave the bridge in your capable hand Commander Savik.”
The Tesla was smoothly slipping through the galaxy on her way towards Ryex when Savik decided to allow herself a break and drop by to visit an old acquaintance who she heard had just joined the Tesla. Making her way towards the Scarlet Fire Brew House, which was already making a name for itself among the Tesla crew, Savik’s step quickened at the anticipation of once again seeing a friend. Tia didn’t know many people who she would consider a friend, but the lively bartender she had known since the academy who was a good talker and listener as well as someone who knew how to keep a secret, was as close to a friend as Tia could claim. Felicity Bowen had broken through Tia’s prickly defenses with an easy smile and patient demeanor that Tia could not resist. Felicity knew far more about Tia than most, and Tia was comfortable in the knowledge that Felicity would never betray her confidence. Tia prided herself on her ability to read people, and over the years at the academy Felicity became one of few people she trusted with details concerning her private life.
Tia entered the brew house to find it already bustling with activity, several officers seated at the wooden tables and lined up along the bar, enjoying a brief respite as the Tesla was auto locked on course. Tia approached the bar in time to overhear Riru Sareth cut off Franklin Dorner as he seemed to be discussing how the Barzan wormhole sometimes caused strange anomalies on planets in close proximity.
“You know, if you listen really closely you can hear the sound of me not caring,” the sassy little engineer cut him short and with a swish of her ponytail she turned away from the bar.
Franklin grinned with a short laugh, showing nothing other than amusement at Riru’s rude behavior.
Tia’s teeth biting into her lower lip displayed her displeasure, but she held her tongue till the Chief Engineer had left.
“Why do you put up with her attitude?” Savik questioned the laid back Chief Flight Officer. “I would think it would take just once to put her in her place and she wouldn’t continue to disrespect you so.”
Franklin Dorner only grinned. “Other people’s attitudes fail to affect me,” he stated calmly. “I’ve realized the only attitude I can truly control is my own.”
Tia allowed these words to sink in, realizing she somewhat envied his relaxed demeanor.
“Besides, she’s still young,” Franklin brushed off the issue.
“Aren’t we all young in your eyes?” Tia pointed out.
“Some act younger than others,” Franklin informed her with a warm smile.
With a raise of her brows and a shrug, Tia gave a silent agreement to this statement. Then her annoyance at their spitfire of an engineer faded as she caught a flash of red hair and spotted Felicity making her way back to the bar.
Felicity had been very busy lately and the bar had been one of the more popular areas on the ship now. She had been so busy she didn’t pay attention to the current argument happening, but the glance of the orion at the bar had her quickly make her way back to behind the bar.
Tia’s eyes lit up and a smile brightened her normally serious features. “It’s good to see you, Lissy. It’s been too long.”
“Hi T, it’s been far too long since we have talked. I didn’t know you got a command position here until the position was shown to me.” She smiled before filling the drink order next to Tia.
“Oh I know,” Tia answered with wide eyes. “I have so much to fill you in on since the last time we met.” Tia noticed that Felicity seemed busy with all the customers currently in the bar and didn’t want to monopolize the time of the bartender. “We really need to catch up sometime when you’re free. Let me know and we can meet up and talk.”
“I will make some time on my schedule and let you know. Can I offer you a drink? Perhaps the usual old fashioned?” Felicity asked, knowing Tia’s regular order from the past.
“Yea, I’ll take an old fashioned,” Tia accepted her offer for a drink.
“Coming right up.” She said as she turned to begin mixing the drink.
Tia’s eyes scanned the crowd at the bar as Felicity struck up a conversation with another regular at the bar while she mixed Tia’s drink.
The brew house was filled with officers and enlisted alike, everyone enjoying this taste of home aboard the Tesla. Tia figured that Felicity would do well here, with the Scarlet Fire offering a niche service that most other places could not provide.
“Here you go T!” She said as she handed the glass to Tia with the very popular drink.
“Thanks,” Tia thanked her with a smile. She had just picked up her drink to take a sip of the smooth concoction when she felt a lurch of the ship that almost knocked her from her barstool.
Sirens began to blare and immediately everyone in the bar began to check their comms. Franklin gave Tia a knowing look from a little way down the bar and with a short nod they both headed for the bridge.
When they arrived on the bridge, most of the senior staff had already relieved the secondary crew, and Franklin Dorner’s fill-in gladly stepped to the side to allow the more senior officer to resume his position at the helm. Franklin bent over the console where Riru was already busily attempting to assess the situation.
“What is going on?” Michael asked upon his quick arrival to the bridge.
He had been trying to get some reports done when the ship lurched, throwing his reports everywhere.
The small crease of skin between the brows of their Chief Engineer betrayed her confusion at the readings she was receiving, and she hesitated to respond. A speechless Sareth was not something they were accustomed to, and it was Dorner who fulfilled the Captain’s request for information.
“The readings are nothing I’ve seen before, Captain. But it seems the Tesla is caught in a forcefield that is now controlling the ship’s trajectory. The field was powerful enough to drop us out of warp and is now pulling us towards the planet at a slow but steady pace.”
“Are the engines struggling as well?” he asked, looking around the bridge.
“The engines are giving it all they have and we can’t break free,” Riru answered. “But it’s funny,” Riru gave a shake of her head. “It doesn’t seem to be any sort of man-made force field and I can’t find a way to counter it.”
“Is it possible that it’s a natural anomaly caused by the Barzan wormhole?” Tia asked, recalling the information she had just gathered from their Chief Flight Officer in the bar.
Riru pursed her lips together, also reminded of how she had just brushed off Dorner’s voluntary lesson concerning such an incident.
“It’s possible, Commander Savik,” Franklin answered. “And if that is the case then we may be in serious trouble. Such a naturally occurring phenomenon will be impossible to predict and we have no way of knowing how to counter act.”
“We do not want the ship to crash on the planet! We need to make sure that the ship stays in orbit.” he ordered.
“It looks like it is drawing us into a heavily wooded valley on the planet. Our scans say the area is uninhabited, but much of the data we are getting seems to be corrupted due to this force field, so there is no way to be certain,” Franklin answered.
“And we may be in for a rough landing if I can’t get the engines to counter some of the pull from this force field,” Riru added.
“Is it possible we are being strategically drawn in by an unknown enemy to some sort of trap?” Tia voiced her concerns aloud.
Franklin shook his head in the negative and began to answer. “It seems unlikely-,” he began to explain but Riru cut him off as they started to speak at about the same time.
“There’s no way this force is man-made,” she stated confidently. “Any designed energy barrier would have some sort of pattern in the particles and emit a consistent level of density throughout the field, but this is all random.”
Several more alarms began to blare and Riru’s face grew darker. The engineer busily began to swipe her fingers deftly across the screen, but her features were grave as the bells continued to ring.
“Report!” he ordered trying to stay calm at the chaos unveiling around him.
“The force is growing stronger. Still pulling at a steady rate but it’s beginning to exert a large amount of force on the ship itself,” Riru updated them.
Tia broke away from the Captain’s side to step forward and lean over the console with Riru, examining the readings coming from the engineering console.
Tia turned to the Captain, her features calm but innerly her heart was in turmoil. “Captain, the atmospheric pressure outside seems to be growing the closer we get to the surface. It’s beginning to crush the ship inward. We have no way of knowing if we will even make it to the ground in one piece.”
Michael’s heart leaped to his throat and he began to look at every option. He immediately started combing through the past experiences. As he began to try and build a plan the ship stopped. He looked at the display. The ship had been released but it was currently disabled above the planet.
“What is going on?” he thought.