Everything was going as planned, the deuterium arrived on time and was shipped and stored into the holds of the Freighter Carrier Asgard as expected. It was mostly a routine day.
Mr. Ebry, the freighter captain started his morning by entering the bridge and taking his seat in the command chair. He was immediately handed a cup of coffee by one of his assistants, which had been the routine for the last three years.
A smile appeared on his face as he sipped the warm beverage. He felt warmth spread throughout his body and his drowsy mind began to wake up. “Nothing like a hot cup of coffee…eh?” He questioned, and his crew responded in chorus, “during a long boring trek between star systems.”
He gave a short chuckle, “Have I said that phrase a time or two?” A mix of laughter and murmurs of agreement reverberated among the bridge.
The ship departed and was nearly two days out of space dock before they encountered something out of the ordinary.
“Pardon me, Captain, but I am receiving a distress call.” Reported one of the bridge officers. “It appears to be coming from a nearby system.”
“Adjust course, we must follow protocol and respond.” The captain stated stoically. While this was not something that they encountered often, it was important to respond.
Long before R’Tor and his crew took on an undercover mission, they had to give their new Aquarius Class starship a shakedown cruise. While he was more comfortable standing in front of a judge and jury, R’Tor was starting to enjoy this new experience of being in command.
He had taken the bridge officer track at the academy, but never know this is where he would end up. I guess, you never know where your life will lead when serving in Star Fleet. He thought to himself.
Starting off on a small ship was fine for R’Tor, he did not want to bite off more than he could chew. He also did not get to choose his crew, they were handpicked for their upcoming special assignment.
Colt, the chief engineer had taken the Ops station to make a few adjustments, when he noticed a strange signal. He frowned in confusion. “What the heck?”
R’Tor’s ears perked up, “Something the matter?” He paused briefly to remember the officer’s name, as they had only met the day before. Chief Petty Officer Brian David Colt II was one of a dozen officers that R’Tor was still getting to know, but in the short term they had both concluded that his name was a bit long.
“Colt.” He stated quickly remembering the shorted version of the chief’s name.
Fist Officer, Commander Mark Russell stepped over to the operations console to see what was concerning Colt. To R’Tor, Russell was one of those officers who wanted things to run perfectly, and he tended to be as inflexible as a Vulcan. In the few conversations they had, R’Tor knew he would have his work cut out for him to try and develop a good working relationship.
“Report Chief.” Russell stated in his authoritative tone.
Colt’s eyes slid sideways, and he cleared his throat, indicating to the commander that while he holds a higher rank, using that tone of voice with the chief of the boat was not going to be tolerated.
Russell was taken a back for a moment. And the two locked eyes to see which one was going to stand down.
R’Tor leaned forward in his chair, “Chief, what do you have for us?”
“It appears to be a priority one distress signal but let me try and clean it up.” He looked over the console and then he made the message appear on the view-screen.
R’Tor sat back in surprise as the message appeared on the screen. They were looked at the bridge of another ship. It looked to be taking heavy damage. As the screen shook, flashing emergency lights and explosions were mixed with high-pitched emergency alarms. That is when the face of a wild man appeared on the screen.
He looked quickly around the bridge, before turning back to his screen. His eyes were fill with fear and his face was smeared with blood.
“This is Captain Ebry….[static]…[garbled] …Freighter … [static] Asgard…
“Hey chief, can you clean up that signal ?” came the abrupt order from R’Tor.
“On it now sir.” The XO started to stand up, but R’Tor’s large sapphire eyes blazed with furry at him. Giving him notice that the chief needs to be left alone to focus.
“That should do it.” Colt announced.
Then Captain Ebry’s voice cover over the coms, shaky and concerned. “This is a priority one distress call to any vessel in the area, this is the Freighter Carrier Asgard.”
His image became distorted as a console on the screen exploded in a white flash of light followed by sparks and smoke. While the message was still a bit wobbly, it was clearly a call for help. The view of the bridge and condition of the captain showed the freighter was taking damage and needed immediate help.
“Adjust heading, we need to render assistance.” R’Tor took a moment and watched as his crew started to take on a more serious tone. “Maximum warp….hit it.”
The small ship took off like a shot and with a flash of light, it was racing toward unknown danger, in hopes of helping another ship in trouble. After exactly three minutes at warp, the order was given to drop out of warp speed. R’Tor did not know what they would fly into, and wanted to avoid any surprises. The inertial dampeners kept everyone stable as the ship returned to normal space.
Scanners identified the coordinates of a simple star system that held a half dozen planets and small moons, as well as an asteroid belt.
“Any signs of the freighter?” The captain wanted to know.
“Negative.” Came the response from one of the stations behind him.
The first officer looked at his console. “Captain, I suggest scanning for deuterium, because that is what that freighter was carrying.”
R’Tor gave a nod to the chief, and it did not take long for the response.
“Reading….high quantities of deuterium on the surface of the fourth planet.” Responded the chief.
Suddenly, the ensign at the ops station reported. “Captain, I am detecting strange energy readings….” As the ensign ended the sentence the helm officer reported. “Sir, we are starting to encounter debris…” At the same time, a call from another officer drew the captain’s attention. “Picking up another distress call!”
There was no time to respond as energy wave reached out from the planet’s surface reached out like a giant hand to attack the ship. With a sound like thunder the ship shook and roaring noise resonated across the hull. Everyone on the bridge knew the moment inertial dampeners failed as they were thrown from their workstations to the floor.
“Report!” R’Tor yelled as he crawled back into his chair.
You could count the heartbeats in the time it took for the officers to gain their composure to report the array of systems that were and were not working. Ultimately, the ship took little damage.
Russell noted that according to readings, the energy wave caused a number of disturbances in the power grid, including the nacelle skirted an energy field.
“It appears to be an Ion Barrier.” Russell reported. Colt followed up with his input. “Had our ship been bigger, we would have taken much more damage.
“Did we receive another distress call just before hitting that barrier ?”
The XO looked over his controls, before responding. “Sir, it appears to be a short repeating distress call?”
“Coming from the freighter?” R’Tor replied.
“Negative.” The XO answered, it is a different signal. But appears to be emanating from the planet’s surface.
The captain pondered the situation and came to a solution. “Colt, can you match our shields to allow us to slip through the Ion Barrier ?”
Colt frowned for a moment, “I am not sure, let me run a few simulations.” He got to work in inputting all the data and when he had the answer, he brought it to the captain’s attention. Colt explained it in detail, but R’Tor was focused on the fact that it was possible.
R’Tor leaned forward in his chair and ordered a warning buoy to be left behind. He also sent a message to Starfleet informing them of his ship’s location and situation.
LANDING ON THE PLANET
According to all indications, a freighter had crashed on an unexplored planet in a remote and relatively unknown system. A distress call from the freighter had drawn the USS Adventure, only to encounter a powerful ion barrier. With the freighter, an unrelated signal and the energy source of the barrier all appeared to be coming from the planet. R’Tor was determined to unravel this mystery and the solution was somewhere on the planet’s surface.
R’Tor leaned back in his chair, “Let’s check it out…..Helm prepare for planetary landing.” A sudden hush went around the room. Most officers only ever landed shuttle crafts. While it was rare, there were some ship classes, like the Aquarius, to land and take off from the planet’s surface.
But it still made for some tense moments. Power was diverted to thrusters as the ship coasted across the ion barrier. The blue lights flashed all over the ship indicating a planetary landing. Engineers scrambled to purge the plasma vents and securer all systems for landing.
The ship orbited the planet once and shuddered as it entered the planet’s atmosphere. There was a flash of an ominous hue as it encountered friction in the declining glide trajectory. Strangely, the location of the crashed freighter and source of the automated distress call were within a few kilometers of each other.
Everyone on the ship were jostled as the ship shook slightly as the landing struts extended while inertial dampers adjusted to match the gravity of the planet. After the engines were disengaged R’Tor and other officers let out a sigh of relief. There was also a bit of excitement for successfully landing the ship for the first time.
ON THE PLANETS SURFACE
With the ship on the ground only a few kilometers from the downed freighter, R’Tor and his first officer chose the team they would take with them to investigate the site. The comm officer brought a concern to the teams’ attention. “Sir, the planet’s atmosphere is ionized and is preventing communications between our comm badges.”
This took them back a bit. “How is a distress signal coming from the surface ?” The XO voiced what R’Tor was thinking. He gave a shrug as he did not have an answer.
The landing area was filled with rolling hills with flat plains filled with high grasses.
As the team followed their tri-corder readings, they reached the top of a hill where they could see the remains of the freighter below.
R’Tors ears perked up and his tail flicked as he looked down into the valley and saw a small encampment with small tents and overhangs set up. “Well….I thought there were no life signs.”
Russell responded, “It most likely has to do with the ionized atmosphere.” And R’Tor and the other officers agreed.
Down below the hill, a small group of people started to gather as they could see the large visage of a large Caitain standing at the top of the hill with a group of individuals in Starfleet uniforms. One of the survivors called to the captain. “Sir, we have visitors!”
As Captain Ebry exited his command tent, the Starfleet officers were arriving in the camp.
“I am Captain R’Tor of the USS Adventure, who is in command here ?
Captain Ebry made himself known and the two captains sat down and discussed their situation.
The survivors of the freighter were excited as they had been stranded for nearly six weeks.
“We traced the emergency signal to a cave about a two kilometers from here.” Captain Eberly pointed out.
The two teams devised a plan, that most of the freighter survivors would pack up and follow Dr. Valerias, back to the Adventure, while R’Tor, Captain Ebry, Commander Russell and two security officers would attempt to identify the source of the distress call.
The entrance to the cave was dark and damp, but after six meters the walls were smooth, and the team came to a large door. “This is as far as our team reached and we could not open the door.” Captain Eberly stated.
With a word, R’Tor indicated to Colt to give it a go. “No security field, but this door is pretty solid.” He found a power relay hidden behind the control panel. “This is quite advanced.” He noted.
A half hour later there was a rumbling sound as the large locking system released. “Here help me.” Called Colt to others to help him open the door. Even with the locks open, the door was quite heavy and took great effort to open.
Inside, the remains of a ancient command center lay before them. The team scoured the area, and they were able to access the database and discovered that this was what was left of a long dead civilization. According to the records, this civilization was near defeat in a protracted war with another civilization.
They set up this trap for their enemies.
However, their research showed that this system had been shut down for decades. Which explains why this distress call was not detected before. “Why is it functional now?” Captain Eberly wanted to know.
“It appears that recent seismic activity caused a power surge, because the facility was powered by geothermal energy.”
PULLING THE PLUG
“Lets do what we need to do to prevent anyone else from falling into this trap.” R’Tor noted.
“We can send a science team to deal with the rest of it.”
Since they did not want to destroy the facility but just disable it, Colt disconnected the power connections and disengaged the system that created interference that prevented the functioning of combadges. Once it was deactivate, R’Tor’s combadge chirped.
“Adventure to Captain R’Tor.” Came the message. “Go ahead.” He responded.
“According to our systems, transporters are online and we can beam you and most of the deuterium aboard.”
Colt was excited, “Well, that will sure save us a walk.” He beamed.
R’Tor laughed, “What you have a problem with a little hike.”
Colt thought about it for a moment, “Yes!” he stated with concern.
The team gave a laugh and they were beamed aboard.
The two captains sat in the mess hall and had a short chat.
“I appreciate you saving us.” Captain Eberly explained.
“I am just happy that you and your people are safe.” He explained. However, in the back of his head
he was glad that his ship avoided damage. “In about nine-hours, we will deliver you, your crew and shipment to the nearest starbase.”
“So, your maiden voyage?” Captain Eberly asked. R’Tor gave a nod. “Well, from what I see…your starting off in a good direction.” The freighter captain encouraged him. “If you ever need my help, let me know and I’ll be there.” His small pale hand was enveloped by a furry paw.
The USS Adventure departed the planet and paused for a moment as the nacelle glowed and in a flash of light was on its way to their next destination.