Part of USS Altai: Spectres in the Dust

Getting To The Bottom Of It

Outpost 1-SZ, Near the Breen border
Stardate 77130.2
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Carrie was awakened with a start by the announcement of the ship’s computer stating that she had reached Outpost 1-SZ. In orbit around the outpost, she located the starship Altai, a Steamrunner-class ship.

“Computer,” Carrie stated, “please hail the Altai for me.”

The Oklahoma‘s computer dutifully obeyed, opening a channel to the Altai.

Streth sat, arms resting on the command chair for the first time in weeks. The bridge felt clean, the lights uncovering the nooks and crannies that seemed to lurk in every room back on the base. He checked the diagnostic panels, monitoring systems as the ship got ready to go.

“Sir,” an officer manning sensors called, “starship inbound. Starfleet transponder. We’re being hailed.”

Streth raised an eyebrow. He hadn’t expected another Federation vessel in the area for months. Still, with a Breen ship in their midst, it was good to have company.

“On screen,” Streth replied.

“USS Altai, this is Lieutenant Junior Grade Caroline Metrios aboard the USS Oklahoma, requesting clearance to land at the outpost.”

“Clearance granted, Lieutenant. Happy to have you here.” Streth smiled. As curious as he was about the reason for the Oklahoma’s presence, more pressing matters took priority, “But before you land, I would appreciate some assistance. We’ve currently got a Breen dreadnought on sensors, bearing 047  mark six. Right now it looks like it’s in a powered down state. We’re about to head out and take a look, it would be good to have your ship out there too as an extra pair of eyes if you’d care to join?”

“Roger that, Commander,” Carrie replied. “I see the big bitch too. Looks like she’s just powered down, stealthing or some damn thing. You never can tell with the damn Breen. Nevertheless, I would recommend going to Yellow Alert for the time being.”

“My purpose here,” Carrie continued, “is to perform a psychiatric evaluation of the Altai‘s crew following your encounter on the outpost. I am here at the behest of Captain Mek. I am Starbase 86’s staff psychiatrist.”

“Noted, Lieutenant. Good to have you along for the ride.” Streth hoped the days events would not leave them with any more need for psychiatric evaluation than anticipated by Captain Mek, “I’m transmitting coordinates now. Standby to follow the Altai‘s course.”

“Aye, sir,” Carrie responded. “Bringing my course to zero-four-seven mark six, and engaging at one-quarter impulse power. You’ll find me dead abeam of you at zero-nine-zero degrees true. Metrios out.”

Streth sat back in the chair as the channel closed. Starbase 86… It was a long journey for a runabout. He almost felt pity for the Lieutenant, travelling that kind of distance only to be faced with this situation on the other side. From their brief interaction, however, it was clear she was made of stern stuff. If it was Captain Mek’s assessment that they needed psychological assessment out here, then so be it. Streth couldn’t help but think it was akin to patching up a deep wound with a sticking plaster, however. He shifted in his seat. It was never the deskbound, higher ranked individuals who ended up stuck on these kind of assignments. Maybe Mek cared, maybe it was a fig leaf or tick in a box to make it look like Starfleet was doing the right thing.

He refocused his thoughts. The dreadnought bore down on them. They had no idea why, or what lay within. Streth was glad Lieutenant Metrios was here, and he could only hope that when she left this place she would not need psychiatric help of her own.