Linn Mora looked around. Was this a dream? No, he was confident it was a waking nightmare. The ship seemed to be in pieces, crewmates limping around together and trying to figure out how to move forward. The Bolian took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment. People depended on him and this search team he had assembled. No time to panic. He opened his eyes and looked at his team standing by the transporter.
”Ok, if there is any chance anyone on this deck survived, it would be in sickbay. It is in the centre of the ship, heavily reinforced and a designated emergency shelter with backup power. Let’s go. Watch out for ruptured EPS conduits. First thing is to scan for any signs of life. After that, everyone scan for damage to this level. The goal will be to get power and life support online and stable. Soon as we clear that deck, we go up by ladder to sickbay and repeat there. Any questions?” the Bolian called out, looking around his team of volunteers and survivors.
Chief Petty Officer Cjase raised an eyebrow, “If you’re looking to reestablish power then perhaps the engineering console on the bridge or the engineering department might be the best place to go as it will allow us to run a diagnostic and see if it is possible to reestablish power,” Cjase felt any attempt at repairs was like trying to fix a torpedo hit with a hypospray of sedative. She stood waiting for a reply. He was the officer so if he stood his ground they would do it his way but she was making notes in her head.
Ensign Daria Fuentes stepped forward, ever so politely, and interrupted. “According to our census, we’re missing dozens of lifesigns. Given the state of the ship, it is reasonable to believe that the vast majority of that number will be sensor ghosts, or, you know…” the security officer for the team advised, her voice trailing off as she reminded them of the harsh reality they found themselves in.
Petty Officer Adam Michaels, a Nurse, had been drafted in as the medical representative on their team, and he looked more than a little annoyed. “Why are we even having this debate? Lives come first, before anything else. Lieutenant, please. We need to find any survivors first. Whatever else has to come second,” he implored.
Mora shook his head. The count was higher than he guessed, which was already too high. “I agree that survivors should come first, however, if we don’t get somewhere operational, where do we send survivors? We need to get to the emergency fusion generator on this deck so that I can reroute from the inactive shields to medical. If we can secure a stable flow of power to medical, then we have a place we can send wounded and survivors until we can seal some of the hull breaches,” the Lieutenant advised.
Taking a moment, he looked around at the team. “Engineering is essentially a loss at this point. It would be easier to list the few systems on this ship that are working right now. We get medical up, we have a rally point. Everyone understand?” He said firmly. He had to make a decision and he held his breath hoping they would accept it.
Daria and Adam looked at each other, before nodding in agreement at the officer’s instruction. Whilst the security officer was far more happy to go along with the plan, the Nurse was more reluctant. “It’s worth noting that large swathes of the ship is cut off, very possibly a vacuum to space. There is no guarantee we’ll be able to send anyone anywhere,” the Petty Officer reminded the Lieutenant. His plan had merit, and he would follow his orders, but the Nurse still wanted to make his feelings known. Master Chief DeLigt had always encouraged the enlisted in her team to voice their opinions when around the officers, so he hoped he was doing her proud. IF she was still alive.
Cjase had hoped that the Lieutenant would have seen some sense, the sickbay was an emergency assembly point because it could run self sufficiently for an extended period, Jayse thought that prioritising finding people and either beaming them off or treating them and getting them safety should be the only goal. The ship was practically lost and trying to elongate the time people were staying on the ship only increased the risk of losing even more people. However, at this moment in time, the Lieutenant plan was not excessively dangerous so she was not going to intervene but she had a duty to the others in this team to ensure their safety was considered in the decisions that were made to rescue the survivors. “Well Lieutenant, we better get moving time is not with us.”
Mora nodded. “We best hope the search team can find a habitable place. If we can’t get sickbay powered.” He paused a moment. “We better get sickbay running and secure.”
After several minutes of walking, the flickering lights of the deck ceased, and his eyes adjusted to a corridor that was lit by the dull, red emergency lights. Panels had fallen off, plasma steam was venting into the walkway and debris was scattered all over. He took a tentative step forward as he began a scan. “Life support is under 25 percent on this level. Be careful, gravity is only about 3/4 normal. Generators are damaged and stretched thin,” he said looking around at what was once was a beautiful ship.
At first, Daria was focused on her tricorder, trying to get some much needed information, but when she looked up, her face dropped and a tear formed in the corner of her eye. Disaster. Devastation. Death. That was what awaited them across the ship, and it was what greeted them now.
”Lieutenant…” she called out, taking a few steps forward and crouching down to place a gentle hand on the blood soaked head of a former colleague. “It’s Lieutenant Romaes, sir…” Even though she hadn’t known him for long, she had respected the Bajoran and his route to the role of Chief of Security on the Thesis. The fact he had been her department head made the loss even harder.
Petty Officer Michaels stepped over to their fallen comrade and bent down, slowly. A silent prayer was given as he gently reached out and placed his hands on the Bajoran’s face. “Rest easy, Lieutenant,” he whispered before respectfully closing their comrade’s eyes, allowing him to rest as easily as he hoped.
Cjase looked at the bodies lying around. It was not a comfortable sight but it was not the first time she had seen the dead, and wouldn’t be the last. She placed her hand on Michaels’ shoulder, “There will be time to grieve later. Now we must try and find those we can still help. Emotions will not help us just now, just efforts and executions.” She knew in these situations that emotions could make you do stupid things, like try to save people who were not to be saved, and put yourself in danger. It might have seemed cold, but it was how she had survived in similar situations before, and she would rather people dislike her and made it out alive than the alternative.
Mora saw the body, and knew it would be one of many. He shook his head a little. “Okay,” he said, his voice broke as he said it. He cleared his throat and started again. “Okay, we need to keep moving. We can bury our dead later. Let’s keep moving and try to minimize how many extra we have to bury,” he said and took a deep breath and noticed the air was cool. “Fuentes, focus your scans for any surviving lifeforms. The bodies we find we will ID for headcount and move on. Life support is going to run out soon if we don’t get some power flowing.” He looked around. “We need to make our way to the central hub.” and fast, he thought.
Having paid her respects, the Security officer nodded to the Lieutenant and pulled her tricorder out of its holster on her belt. “We’ve got fires, plasma leaks and environmental issues playing havoc with sensors sir,” she told, “but I am definitely picking up lifesigns in that direction…” she turned and pointed in the direction that had been behind them.
Mora nodded. “Ok, everyone stay alert for hazards. Let’s go,” Mora said as they moved towards the life signs. It was a nightmare of fallen panels, beams and wiring. The going was slow, but what option did they have?
After a short lifetime of stepping around hazards, they approached a junction with a door that was ajar on the left. Mora stopped everyone. “Ok, this will take me to the fusion reactor. Fuentes and Michaels, why don’t the two of you keep heading to the life signs. Cjase and I will see to the reactor,” the Lieutenant told the two most junior crewmates on his team.
Bidding farewell, Daria and her Petty Officer colleague continued on in the direction of the lifesigns further down the deck. Where they would end up was anyone’s guess…
There is always a moment, in that heartbeat immediately after materialising in an unknown place, when one can imagine all manner of dangers lurking in the dark. The fear of the unknown linked to a survival instinct ,which even to this day was so ingrained within the psyche of so many species throughout the galaxy. And while years of training and experience could not completely quell centuries of instinct, there was also something else… Duty.
For it was duty, and perhaps some hope of a way to help the crew of the Thesis, which had brought their small team across from the Santa Fe. Sensors had been predictably all but useless, even at closer range they encountered echoes and blind spots to the point where it was all but impossible to know what data they could actually trust. Yet at closer range they could see with their own eyes.
Almost seeming to grow out of the bulkhead was something which most definitely did not look like it belonged. Acutely aware of her own heartbeat which seemed to echo in her ears, Lieutenant Prida Rala activated her flashlight and watched as the beam cut through the darkness for a few meters before the light was swallowed up. Yet the tricorder readings being relayed to her display confirmed what the Santa Fe had detected. Virtually no power, and virtually no atmosphere…
”Everyone still have all their fingers and toes?” she asked as she turned to face the rest of the group.
“All extremities accounted for, Lieutenant,” Lieutenant Udal from Engineering nodded after looking around their group.
”Always a positive start to any away mission,” Prida informed him, keeping her tone deliberately light as she waited for the others to reply.
Josue Torres had been stood staring down the hallway just about a hundred meters or so away when the Lieutenant’s words had disturbed his train of thought. “Aye ma’am, all ready here,” the Ensign smiled, turning his attention back to the corridor. Something was off. He felt something nearby.
Soon enough, the rest of their team took stock and agreed that they were in a position to proceed with their mission. It was just a matter of a few hundred yards and they would be at their destination. What they expected to find in the engineering bay was anyone’s guess.
When they did indeed enter the engine room of the Inquiry-class starship, what greeted them was a scene of utter chaos. Crewmembers were scattered around the facility, in various states of dress and health. Some working, others rendering medical aide, and the rest being tended to whilst they tried to stay alive.
Standing open mouthed for a few seconds, the Cardassian leader of the Santa Fe relief team took in what sights and sounds she could, and announced their arrival. “My name is Lieutenant Prida from the Santa Fe. We’re here to help,” she called out, then dispatched her team to assist. “Who is in charge here?” she asked, looking around those officers who were active and in fit enough state to work.
A young Petty Officer stopped what he was doing and looked over at the woman. A sigh of relief left his fragile body and he gave an expression that told her what she feared. She, as the apparent ranking officer there present, was now in charge.
“Okay,” she took a moment to steady herself and lifted two fingers to her mouth. Placing them inside, she took a breath and gave out a loud whistle that stopped everyone in their tracks. “Everyone on me!” she ordered sternly. Those in the pristine uniforms of the Santa Fe stood out among the dirty, tattered and torn of their Thesis counterparts, but now they came together as one. ”Priorities are simple. Restore what power we can, stabilise life support across the ship, and ensure intra and inter ship communications are stable. Santa Fe; you don’t know this ship or her systems, so work with your Thesis partners. Thesis; support your Santa Fe colleagues, and let them do the heavy lifting if needed,” she instructed as she rubbed her hands together. “Let’s go!”
Watching the two crews come together, scuttling off to get to work as one entity, one collective to coin a phrase from the Borg, Prida felt a wave of pride wash over her. This was Starfleet. This was what they did. At times of crisis, Starfleet would be there to help. Today was no different.
“Our decline towards the planet has halted. Normal forward momentum has resumed,” the anxious looking Andorian at the conn of the Inquiry-class starship revealed, tapping away at her controls. “Sensors are so limited, so I can only theorise that the Santa Fe is tractoring us,” she shrugged as she sat back. “I’ve no control over anything,” she shrugged, spinning in her chair to look at the Captain.
Ruas had returned to her command chair, sitting alone at the center of the Bridge whilst those with her occupied other positions in the command center. “I assume that communications remain offline?” she asked, looking towards her XO at the station behind her.
Commander Vasoch Gor was about to respond when the bridge was filled with the trademark hum and blue hues of a Federation transporter beam, or several in fact. Ruas and co rose to their feet as three figures materialised near the aft turbo lift.
At first, Italia took a few steps towards her Andorian counterpart from the Santa Fe, a great smile of relief on her freckled face. A smile that quickly faded when she saw the concerning expression on the blue-skinned woman’s face, ot to mention the phasers strapped to the sides of the Santa Fe away team.
“Captain sh’Elas,” the Trill addressed her counterpart, “Is everything alright?”
Gripping her sweaty palms together behind her back, the Andorian stood tall and glared across at her counterpart. What she was about to do was her own worst nightmare, but at least she was on the other side. Right?
“Captain Italia Ruas,” Tharia began, her tone far from normal as it reflected the formality and seriousness of the situation before them. “By order of Starfleet Command, you are hereby relieved of command…”