Part of USS Altai: Here Be Monsters

The Lonely Sentry – Part I

USS Altai, Bridge
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The viewscreen was filled with a vast debris field, endless miles of frozen lifeless rock, everything from pebbles, boulders and bigger chunks, all the way up to some the size of mountains with great jagged cliffs of strata and ice. The asteroid vista stretched to the far horizons, yet unlike many such fields this one was still, totally still. There was no movement, no tumbling rolling, grinding maelstrom. These asteroids simple hung there, frozen in time and motion as much as they were soaked in the dead cold of space.

“According to the chart, several hundred billion years ago there was probably a couple of small proto-planets here” Van Der Luan commented, looking over the data on a PaDD. “No star to exert gravity so the remains just hang here. Which I suppose is why the Station was placed in there and why it hasn’t been ground up.

How much further Master Chief?” He called to the Helm

“I’ve got a lock on its beacon, should be about another hundred and thirty kilometers sir” Master Chief McQueen replied from the helm.

“Incoming message from the Don S Davis sir” The duty Operations officer informed Streth.

In the centre chair, the Andorian had been mulling over the spatial geometric readouts as the Altai began its final approach to Outpost 1-SZ. His antennae twitched as the raktajino from breakfast began to fully take hold. He was glad they weren’t alone, for now. The Ambassador Class USS Don S. Davis had dropped out of warp not far from their position, following on their heading as they manoeuvred their way through the dense sea of rocks. Back at Starbase 382 Streth had expressed his concerns to command about the outpost and its suitability as a base. Under equipped for a full scale renovation project, the Altai was just too small to carry the kind of materials needed for hull reinforcement works, environmental systems overhaul and the host of other engineering concerns that no doubt plagued the decrepit old station.

He had even made the suggestion of constructing a new base in the area, to which Captain Forester had been less then receptive. Something about not wanting to provoke the Breen. If anything, Streth thought, the Breen were the only ones doing the provoking here. The meeting had not been completely fruitless, however. The Starfleet Corps of Engineers to assist with the project, and Streth certainly felt safer for it as the corps’ very own Lieutenant Commander Kevin Walker appeared on the main viewer.

“Commander, good morning.” Streth leaned forward, happy to see his more bearded, gold shirted human counterpart. “Trust you’ve had an uneventful journey?”

Walker smiled, even chuckled a little at his counterpart’s question. “Good morning to you too, Commander. And it has been uneventful since the moment my crew and I left Starbase Twenty-Seven. I tell you, we are very eager to get started. We were quite eager to get away from being ‘damage control’ back there, but let me tell you. Repairing and upgrading stations is one thing. But reviving and rejuvenating a station that was built almost fifty years or so ago is our inner child’s dream coming true. Most of us build models of old crafts made by Starfleet back in the old days. But actually being inside one? Oh…we are going to have fun.” He then let out a sigh. “As the saying goes, we do not build them like we used to, and that’s a sad hard fact.”

Walker then cleared his throat. “Before I get lost too much in nostalgia and go on another rampart.” He glanced over to Amanda who glanced back at him and nodded her head. He let out yet another sigh with a slight shrug of ‘Alright, fine.’ “Commander. I have a crew member who wishes to transfer over to the station once we get it up and running again. She’s a fine engineer, one of my best in my team, who’s been with me since I took command of the Crazy Horse, which was about…” He paused to think just for a second, “almost ten years ago in fact. And she’s stuck around with me even when we transferred over to the Don S Davis almost five years ago. She’s given me enough reason as to why she wishes to transfer over, and I am sadden to see her go but I won’t stop her.” He then turned his head towards Amanda before looking back at Streth. “Commander, this is Chief Petty Officer Amanda Cooper. The woman I was speaking about. She wishes to be the engineer who not only helps bring the listening post to life but also be the one who keeps it together. If you’ll have her.”

“Glad to hear all’s well.” Streth said, heartened by the engineer’s clear passion for his work. The Corps of Engineers surely were a special breed, with an innate affinity for the technology they knew from the schematics up. Knowledge of the Lookout Class stations bordered on the arcane, but Walker spoke as if recalling memories of an old friend.

“Someone from the Corps of Engineers would be a huge asset.” Streth didn’t take long to consider Walker’s query, “And once the Don S. Davis is gone we could certainly use all the help we can get.”

Still, he felt like there was something more here. To have been serving together for the better part of a decade, only to transfer to what was in Streth’s mind a dusty old relic of a station?

He decided against prying further, merely asking, “I can’t help but feel a bit of surprised at the enthusiasm.” He addressed Cooper directly, “It’s a long way from home, and most of us on the Altai weren’t exactly chomping at the bit for this assignment. Surely serving on an engineering would be far more engaging than station maintenance? ”

Amanda crossed her arms over her chest and smiled, figuring that question would come up. “No offense to Commander Walker,” She said as she looked at him before looking back at Streth. “But I need to step out of the shadow and start placing my own achievements. I don’t know about you officer types, but I have a goal of my own to reach before I get too old. Besides if the Breen do decide to show up, they’ll get more than a wrench thrown at their helmets.” She smirked.

Van Der Luan coughed and turned his head away to cover a smile at that comment, taking an instant liking to the feisty Chief and recalling it was only a couple of years ago he’d been a non-com himself.

Streth merely raised an eyebrow, “Then make your preparations, Chief. With Commander Walker’s approval, we’ll process your transfer to the Altai immediately.” He looked to the Commander, sensing his disappointment. Streth respected the man’s willingness to accommodate his crew’s best interests.

Walker nodded his head, “I will have the paperwork forwarded to you shortly, Commander. Don S Davis out.” With that last comment, the coms officer ended the transmission, returning the screen back to the system before them, along with Altai to the right of their view screen. Walker then looked at Cooper.

Amanda smiled, “You don’t have to look so glum. I was going to leave at some point.”

Walker nodded his head again. “I know. I will admit that I am sad to see you go. You’re one of my finest. But I am proud that you are ready to take on such large responsibilities. We will be around for a while so, if you ever need anything.”

“I know exactly who to ask.” Amanda winked. “I’m going to go and get my bags. Thank you, Kevin.”

Walker then reached down and grabbed the padd from his seat that she had given to him when she announced she was going to transfer. He simply just tapped where his name would go and then pressed his thumb into the thumb print scanner to acknowledge that he approved the transfer. Now he just needs to bring it to Commander Streth.

[Briefing Room]

Located to the rear of the Bridge and half a deck down, the Bridge view screen and audio was repeated on the Briefing Room’s screen for the assembled senior staff.

Beck sat there at the table, glancing at the screen every now and then as it played exactly what was showing on the view screen on the Bridge, as well as what was being said on the Bridge. He would return his attention to the various data PADDs he had on the table in front of him. A couple small ones and a couple large ones, going over one by one as he was not only keeping up with the reports coming from Main Engineering, but also going over the needs to make the listening post operational and to maintain it.

Of course he knew the USS Don S Davis had all the supplies needed to do just that, along with extra supplies to assist in the maintenance for both the listening post and the Altai, but still, Beck liked keeping himself informed of anything and everything engineering related.

But Beck was also going over some readings on the warp engines, the EPS grid and the like. He was striving to achieve the best power conversion level possible on any Starfleet vessel in history. Course that is the most difficult and probably almost impossible task to ever do, but he was running a simulation on one of the larger data PADDs and was simply adjusting settings here and there, modifying this and that and seeing where the power conversion levels end up at.

“Oh come on ye damn infernal contraption. A know whit A am doin is richt, show me whit A want tae see, no whit ye damn well think.” He said out loud right at the PADD he was holding that showed him a simulation conclusion that did not show him the power conversion level that he liked.

His accent wasn’t too thick, he had taken a number of English courses back in school before the Academy, but it wasn’t something that was going to go away. He cursed under his breath and reset the simulation on the pad, adjusting more settings.

“A know whit A want is richt, sae ye better give me whit A want, computer. Or A’ll tak ye apart, piece bi piece.” He said, as he merely talked to himself.

The door to the Briefing Room slid open and the slender Vulcan Chief Medical Officer entered. Lieutenant N’Vea was reviewing data on a PADD and sat down with a simple nod to her fellow officer. She was silent for a moment, focused on the work, and then having completed the task she set the PADD down and turned her attention to the man, studying him. Finally after a moment of observation she spoke up, in the distinctive flat tone of a Vulcan, “Lieutenant Beck, how are you?”

It was an odd question for a Vulcan, as their culture still did not particularly place a high value on the status of emotions, they tended to find little benefit in a question as unspecific as ‘how are you’. Either you were ill, injured, or healthy, there was little conversation to be had there. N’Vea however had studied medicine mostly on Earth and had learned the value of relationships with her patients. She also knew of the non-scientific factors in patient care, things that could not be quantified or measured like ‘bed side manner’ and ’emotional connection’. N’Vea even attempted a smile, which while not difficult to manipulate her mouth muscles to achieve did feel slightly out of place and unnatural. Like a Klingon in a ballet tutu.

Alex was still going over the numbers and adjustments, before running another simulation on the other larger PADD. When the results once again came back with nothing to bear fruit, he just let the PADD slip out of his fingers and clatter on the top of the table before he relaxed back into his seat with a heavy sigh. He started to stroke his beard in thought when he heard a voice speaking directly at him. He shifted his eyes to see the Vulcan female, slender and attractive as essentially every bloody female Vulcans were. One of the reasons why he enjoyed being buried in his work, so he don’t stare. “A am doin juist fine, lass.” He answered her question, aside from the build up of stress of trying to improve the ship’s power conversion rate, he was absolutely fine.

He returned his gaze to the PADDs laid out before him, thinking. The conversation that was going on from the bridge wasn’t too distracting, but he didn’t think they would be eavesdropping. Still, a break from Main Engineering was giving him the chance to break this code, solve this mystery, and hopefully come up with a power conversion rate of ninety-seven point five, that be an achievement in itself. Though when he looked at the Doctor again, he saw that attempt at making a smile and raised his brows. “It’s a nice gesture, lass but A wouldnae force it. No unless ye want tae pull a muscle.”

Having become familiar with Earth N’Vea recognized the man’s accent as being from the Scotland region of English. It was not particularly difficult to understand but rather unique and interesting. He told her to stop trying to smile or she would pull a muscle and she nodded, letting the smile drop, “A humorous suggestion, though a medically inaccurate one. The joke being the suggestion of me sustaining an injury commonly associated with heightened physical activity while doing something quite minor.”

Falling silent the doctor let Lieutenant Junior Grade Beck work without further disturbance. She had only the basics of Starfleet training in engineering, so she did not offer to help. Whatever occupied his attention would surely be more than she would be capable of handling. Instead after a moment she closed her eyes and focused on her breathing, trying to clear her thoughts.

Kaksos slung a toolkit over his shoulder after clinching another toolkit, seemingly to nobody, he was talking as he paced the briefing room… “Blaster re-orient for Plasma scoring, type VIII should do… we’ll spend the first week cleaning no doubt.” He paced back.”… Looker, Badger assist Engineering prepping for crate transfer- no don’ tell me that, upgrade the power cell if ya need to-As Ive said before, I go putting platinum in you and they’ll be someone stealing you before long. Again.” He was at the far end again, a caged cat walking the edge of the room,”…I’m giving you permission to use the replicator, upgrade- I dont have any to boot, so make do! Blaster come to the briefing room if you cant- Oh, well that is clever after all then Blaster, get up with Tasker to make sure you don’t blow up.” he stopped for a moment, “Blaster go ahead and wait for Fixer to check you out, that’s a small canon you’ve mounted after all, just stand by.”

He opened a separate channel, “Tasker get to Blaster and prepare a containment unit, it’s added a type 9 disruptor array, did you let it upgrade itself, I didn’t give it the key- How did he crack the cypher? Get there before Fixer has a stroke…” And on and on, he paced as he fussed over his bots circling him in the ship.

Olafsen had just left a junior officer at tactical and wandered into the briefing room. It took a while to settle into a new routine on a new ship and she was still feeling a little out of place. Everyone in the briefing room seemed very engrossed in their various functions so she just took a seat next to the doctor.

[Bridge]

“Station coming into view range now sir” McQueen called from the helm. “About sixty-two kilometers to run”

The far edge to the vast field appeared on the top of the viewscreen, creeping slowly downwards as the ship approached the Lookout’s location. Rounding a particularly large rocky massif a small clearing became apparent in the jumble of rocks, one of a number along the edge for the field, where the asteroids gave way to deep space.

This one was maybe ten or twelve kilometers across and perhaps thirty kilometers from the edge of the filed. In the center of it sat a small pale space station. Gently canted over a few degrees to its starboard side, squat and mushroom-shaped, the station was little bigger than the Altai itself.

“Not much to look at.” Streth muttered as he caught sight of their new home, “Bring us within twenty klicks, helm. Begin a level 1 sensor sweep. I want detailed schematics, and every nook and cranny of that station mapped before we send anyone over there.”

“Twenty kilometers, aye” McQueen responded, slowing the ship gradually over the last thrity kilometers and guiding it to a stop at the specified distance. “Starting sensor sweep now” he reported.

The station grew larger on the viewer. Its markings, utilitarian Starfleet hull paint on its bulbous upper canopy, read simply, “United Federation of Planets Outpost 1-SZ”.

Several of the illuminating beacons had failed, leaving the hull partially shrouded in darkness.

The viewports dotted around the outer hull were shadowed too, adding to the station’s spectral appearance.