As the ship slowed to sublight speeds, Fleet Captain Logan exited the briefing room, the bosun’s whistle sounding again to announce his presence. He took over the center seat from the first officer and glanced down at the panel in the armrest for a moment.
“Helm, position report.”
“Ten thousand kilometers from last known coordinates of the Eldara sir,” Willow said while consulting with one of the monitors on the helm. “Badlands is five light minutes ahead, current conditions match for category one plasma storms.” She turned slightly to face the Captain with a smile. “Little bit of chop when we enter, but compensators will catch on quick enough.”
“Very well. Hold station for now,” Logan ordered. “Is there any sign of the Eldara?”
For a brief moment, she looked up when she heard a voice from the center seat. When she heard Logan’s request, she tapped a holographic icon on her console. From three light years to its maximum, the imagery changed.
“Captain, I’ve detected a faint ion trail. Bearing 346 by 021,” Jolie said, tapping her fingers on the holographic monitor, specifically the ion trail. The sensors identified it as an impulse signature that had been damaged. “Captain, sensors indicate that this ion trail may be the result of a damaged impulse drive and possibly the Eldara.”
“That explains why they entered the Badlands in the first place, then, but raises other questions,” the captain noted. “Yellow alert. Science, run a full sensor sweep and see if you can plot the path of the ion trail.”
Hearing the Captain’s request, Jolie moved her hand from the holographic monitor to just to the left of it, where a stack of buttons was located. When she pressed a yellow-colored button, the bridge’s lighting changed from white to yellow. “Aye, Captain, yellow alert,” she said as she pressed the button.
Akira say there at the Operations Management station next to the Conn. For right now, until she is called upon, she was going to keep her mouth shut. After the way the morning has been for her, she needed to keep it that way. Plus she was monitoring various systems, including sensors, and since pretty much everyone can operate the sensor systems, she will keep observing. Unless something critical comes up.
Although, the thing she was more concerned about is why the ship would have gone into the Badlands. Impulse engines were one thing, but unless they were caught by the plasma winds and other crazy forces this place has…the maneuvering thrusters should of kept them out of the Badlands. Maybe the Badlands was more mysterious than they realized…or maybe something smelt fishy. Either way, all they can scan is the ion trail, until they can get a detailed scan of the ship, all of these thoughts are just speculations. Still…her Klingon half was clawing on the inside, yelling that none of this feels right.
Eddie initiated the sensor sweep, saying, “Aye sir,” and allowing the computer to begin sending the appropriate readouts. “Captain, the ion trail is erratic. I’m finding it difficult to keep a lock on it.” As his eyes poured over the information, he said, “it’s almost like the heading keeps changing. Let me see if I can narrow the field.” He tapped some buttons on the console in an effort to produce a better result. “Ok, new results coming in. I’ve got it narrowed down to plus or minus three degrees, bearing one-one-zero from our current position.”
Aarven was at the Engineering station on the bridge, monitoring the ship’s systems as they traveled through the badlands. Thoughts were running through her head, with the Eldara damaged she wondered how badly. Though nothing about this felt right, the badlands were a dangerous place for ships to operate in. Whatever was going on she was sure they would come to the bottom of it, rescue the Eldara crew and be on their way.
Natalya was in her position as XO observing the crew, but looking at the status of the multiple stations. This whole mission was leaving a bad taste in her mouth, but maybe it was just a dumb premonition. She shook off the thoughts and went back to her duties. The rest of the officers looked leery of entering the Badlands. It wasn’t a place most vessels wanted to enter, but dire times and situations came.
“Not to sound paranoid,” Willow chirped up, “but could we add coherent tachyon beams and displacement waves to things to be on the watch for?” She turned fully around to face the rest of the bridge crew, and specifically the Fleet Captain. “Missing ships and the Badlands tends to bring up the most famous examples when doing some readings Sir. Badlands had to have some property to it that helped the Caretaker, could be someone else using similar tricks?”
“It’s not the Bermuda Triangle, Lieutenant,” the captain replied, looking at the sensor readings on the armest of his chair. “Coherent tetryon beams, I think you’ll find,” he corrected, though mildly. “Once a coherent tetryon beam passes through a region of space, it will leave behind your garden variety tetryon particles, but as they have completely random momentum, they can’t be tracked. Which is all to say that if there is a Nacene at work, we’d never know about it,” he concluded.
Logan tapped a few commands into the armrest to enhance the data.
“Former astrophysicist, by the way,” he noted. “It looks like the trail is relatively table on the Z-axis, so that leaves a flattened cone here,” he added, superimposing a flattened cone on the main viewscreen, which got wider the further it got from the Europa, showing widely the other ship’s course could have drifted.
“Plot a search pattern to cover as much of this cone as quickly as possible, helm,” Logan ordered. He turned to the first officer. “Ready to go through the looking glass, Commander?” he asked.
Natalya looked over the data that the Captain had also enhanced. It looked as if the best thing would be to proceed and hope for the best. She looked at the Captain “Always ready for an adventure. Let’s do it!”
Captain Logan tapped the all-call button on his chair, causing the bosun’s whistle to sound shipwide.
“Attention all hands, this is Fleet Captain Brett Logan. I’m sure scuttlebutt has been working overtime to piece together why Starfleet has sent me to take charge here, and I regret we don’t have more time to get to know one another before we proceed on our mission. Shortly, we will be entering the Badlands, which you know is an incredibly dangerous area of space. Remember your training. Look to your shipmates. We will get through this, because we are Starfleet. Logan out,” he said, before cutting the channel.
Jolie raised her head from her console after the Captain finished his brief speech about the crew. A part of her wanted to say something about how the badlands were a breeding ground for pirates and the evils of space, but she knew it would be common knowledge. Instead, she reviewed the tactical scans of the area in front of the Europa.
“Captain, tactical reports open space up to the edge of the Badlands,” Jolie said, looking from her tactical console to Logan.
Akira looked over to Willow from her station beside them, “You got this.” She smiled before focusing on her instruments, keeping her eyes on the sensors, looking out for any warnings they may get so she can keep the helm informed. Thing she was concerned about were the plasma storms and other disturbances, so she was keeping her eyes out for those as well on her sensor display.
Turning back to her own controls, Willow tapped in a series of commands, watched for a response, a few adjustments, then sent her proposed course up on the viewscreen in the projected cone already there. It started off as an easy, lazy spiral before the single line started started to grow into a cone as well in the far distance, indicating uncertainty in course due to the weather of the Badlands. “Course plotted and laid in, Sir. Calculated for half impulse, but can replot for full impulse at your discretion.” She knew the hazards the Badlands represented to a ship’s engines, hence the initial plotting, but sometimes you just have to go fast.
“Full impulse, Lieutenant. Let’s not keep the Cardassians waiting.”