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Part of USS Europa: And the Cradle Will Fall

The Lost Prodigal is Found

USS Europa, Main Bridge
MD02 - 2300 Hours
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Fleet Captain Logan had managed a few hours of poor sleep in the ready room, as the Europa methodically combed the Badlands on the search pattern they had created. It had been nearly twelve hours and they hadn’t heard a peep from the Cardassian transport, but they also hadn’t found any wreckage or energy patterns that suggested it had been destroyed. They were out there somewhere, and it was just a matter of time before they found them.

Logan was going over the reports from the department heads in the meantime. The Europa was a fine ship and he had no doubt about her spaceworthiness, but the Badlands were going to be hard on any crew, let alone one that hadn’t worked together before. In some ways, his newness to the ship was helped by that, though, as he didn’t have any bad habits to break.

The door chimed.

“Come!”

A moment later, Lieutenant Commander Forrest walked in, reading something on his holographic PADD, before flicking it over to the captain’s terminal.

“Latest intelligence reports on the Cardassian Union, sir,” the younger man reported.

Logan noted that he said ‘on’ rather than ‘from,’ which piqued his interest.

“Anything of particular importance, or should I add it to the pile?” Logan asked.

“Starfleet Intelligence is having trouble verifying the mission and passenger manifest of the Eldara,” Forrest reported. “The ship exists, but we’d expect any mission orders to leave a substantial paper trail. You know how much the Cardassians love threes, but our taps have only found it in the Detapa Council’s outgoing orders log.”

“It could just mean that the Central Command has detected our access,” the captain wondered, though he thought about the possibilities that represented. “It’s no secret that the various cogs and wheels of the Cardassian government don’t always fit together, though.”

Forrest nodded. “It does seem like there’s another shoe that will drop, sir.”

“Let’s hope it’s just sloppy paperwork,” Logan said, glancing over to his terminal. “I read your report on the sensor upgrades. I’m a little surprised you didn’t want them stripped out.”

“It was a difficult recommendation, sir. Professionally, I saw no real threat of damage to the system, even if it wasn’t within standard parameters, but personally…,” Forrest replied, trailing off for a moment. “The lieutenant is a difficult individual. I think she’ll be more disappointed now not having anything to fight back against than had I given her an excuse.”

Logan shook his head. “Always making friends, Forrest,” he replied, chuckling. “I’ve asked the first officer to keep her eye on our ops manager, just to be sure. Have you–,” he started, before his badge chirped.

“Captain we have located the Eldara. We are heading towards the last location triangulated.” Natalya reported as she looked over the information flooding in.

“On my way,” Logan replied, nodding to Forrest and hopping up from the desk. Moments later he entered the bridge, breezing down the ramp to the command area, where he relieved Koerner and took the center seat. “Report. What are we dealing with?”

Natalya looked at the information and calculated the distance. “The Eldara is .06 AU from our current location and not transmitting any messages. The ship’s life forms can not be detected due to the range from the ship.” She concluded.

“Helm, alter course. Full impulse,” Logan ordered.

“Aye sir, full impulse.” Willow’s fingers danced over controls unseen, executing the course change and bringing up the speed. “Sir, we could risk a short jump at warp. Warp one would be…” she paused to look at the ceiling for a moment, then turn to look to the Fleet Captain, “a hair under thirty seconds. And the weather outside is tracking good at the moment.”

For the length of time it was taking, and the lack of sleep she has been accustomed to, the strain she put on herself to continuously monitor the sensor systems, the sensor display to keep an eye on the plasma storms and any other phenomenon, as well as trying to extrapolate the exact location of the Cardassian ship, she finally felt it taking its toll on her. But she refused to let it interfere with her work, so the moment she was relieved to use the restroom, she took a shot of espresso and returned. Of course, that was hours ago, nothing to be reminiscing about. All that mattered now, was her focus on the sensors checking out the ship eighty sum million kilometers away and growing closer. Her attention was all on it, sensors are holding together, the helm knows how to fly so she’s not worried about the plasma storms. No, her concern is whether or not this ship is a trojan horse or some other crap the Cardassians conjured up. She didn’t like it since they entered the Badlands and her feelings haven’t changed. Now to wait if her gut was spot on.

Ashatia kept quiet at her station, trying to get any information as possible but was hard through a lot of the Badlands interference. Wondering how badly damaged the ship was, hopefully, there are survivors on board.

Jolie was standing at the Tactical station, listening in on the talks going on around her. Jolie shifted her gaze from Willow to Logan when Willow outlined her crazy plan to warp jump into the badlands. It wasn’t a good idea in her opinion, for a variety of reasons, most notably how the badlands were interfering with the sensors.

A faint sigh escaped her lips as she continued to scan the sensors, praying that no ships, other than the Eldara, would appear. As anything could be lurking in one of the countless pockets of disruptions emitted by the Badlands from within.

Aarven couldn’t keep quiet any longer, Willows idea was a dangerous one. “That is not a good idea Lieutenant, one wrong move could get us stranded in here as well,” Aarven replied looking at the young woman at the helm.

Akira was already running the calculations through her station, applying them into a simulation, adding sensor telemetry, plasma storms intensity, direction, her fingers pretty much didn’t stop moving. Once the numbers came together, and the simulations came to a happy ending, it really just boiled down to what the Fleet Captain decided. But learning from earlier today, she kept her mouth shut, unless her input was requested. But she did look over to Willow and nodded her head at her whenever she looked, letting Willow know that she agreed to the idea.

“Full impulse, Lieutenant,” Logan confirmed. “We’ll need the time to get a nice long look at her with the sensors. Commander Koerner, prep an away team to board the Eldara. Have sickbay prepare for potential arrivals,” he ordered.

“Full impulse aye,” Willow responded, clearing the plot she’d already started, but glancing to look at the estimated time and nodding slightly to herself how close she’d been without running exact numbers. The viewscreen clearly showed the change in course as the ship spun on her x axis before settling on its new heading and speed.

Natalya made sure the ship was on the right heading and nodded to Logan as she prepared the thought of an away team.

As the Europa altered course, more sensor data flooded into the bridge from the long-range arrays. The Eldara was emanating no life or power signatures that they could detect at their current distance, but the Badlands were so treacherous that it would be unwise to trust those readings until they were right on top of the ship.

“Science, what do we have?” the captain asked, when they were close enough to let the medium-range sensors take over.

“The hull is ionized and shows signs of phaser damage, which would indicate Cardassian or Federation weapons fire,” Lieutenant Commander Forrest volunteered from the secondary science station.

While the one person she felt was on her side on this ship was giving out their report, she was running her own scans and she got a few flags on her display that meant one thing. She sighed before turning a little in her seat to look at the Captain. “Transporters are useless with all the interference, which leaves us with very few options, sir.” Now that she had the chance to think, weapons fire had made her gut feeling more solid, the feeling of that it was spot on when it felt like this was going to be bad.

“Find a docking port and bring us alongside,” Logan ordered. “There wasn’t any indication that the Eldara had been fired upon in any of our briefing materials,” he noted, turning to Forrest. “Connect with Starfleet Intelligence and figure out what’s going on, Forrest.”

“Aye, sir,” Forrest replied, moving from the bench seat beside the XO to one of the aft mission operations consoles.

“XO, make sure your team is armed,” Logan ordered. “Tactical, begin running full active sensor sweeps of the area. We’ll be in this position for the foreseeable future, and I’d rather know if someone’s going to drop in for a visit than try to maintain stealth,” he added.

Natalya nodded and began assembling the team on a PADD.

Jolie nodded in response to the Captain’s request, saying, “Active sensor sweeps now,” as her fingers flew over the console in front of her.

As the sensors began to scan the area around them, what they discovered was fed back to the tactical console. Jolie’s gaze was fixed on the holographic monitor. “Nothing to report yet, Captain,” she said as she continued to monitor the scans.

“Hmm…” Willow intoned to herself as she looked at her scans. She’d brought the Europa alongside the Eldara but hadn’t proceeded with announcing anything just yet. “Port docking hatch is a no go,” she said just loud enough to be heard before executing a series of commands to gentle roll the Europa up and over the freighter and line her up on the starboard side instead. “Starboard hatch is lined up and ready to receive us Sir.”

“Lock us on,” the captain ordered.

Akira quickly tapped away, the second the ports were lined up and touching, she engaged the locking mechanism. She then started re-modulating the sensors packets until she finally get herself through the interference, yet another sigh escaping her lips. She turned in her seat halfway to look at the Captain. “Section just outside our airlock has no atmosphere. Either a hull breach somewhere sapped out all life support in that section or life support is completely gone. Which I may lean towards the latter, as I can’t get any life signs on sensors.”

Ashatia looked up from her console, “the ship’s main power is offline.” She spoke up looking at the Captain.

“Add EV suits to the list, Commander Koerner,” Logan ordered, with a sigh. “Lieutenant Ashatia, take a team of your own to bring main power online. The first officer’s team will sweep for survivors and then figure out what happened over there.”

“Understood,” Ashatia replied walking off the bridge, she headed to engineering to grab her team and equipment before she would head over to the Eldara

“Yes, Sir” Natalya replied as she made her way to round up her team and make sure they were all ready to depart.