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Part of USS Cygnus: A Failure to Communicate

The Encounter

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“Captain, I have the Crystalline Entity on long range scans,” Lieutenant Gore said from his station directly behind the command center where Captain Bane and Lieutenant Commander Larsen sat. Currently, only Captain Bane was sitting there, the Executive Officer on his off time. “It is on a course of 180 mark 001, moving directly away from us, almost on our exact plane, sir.”

“Confirmed readings, Captain,” Lieutenant Lisald said from in front of Bane, and slightly to his left. “The trail we were able to pick up on sensors has led us right to it,” he said, his voice a little too triumphant. Lisald couldn’t wait to tell Spangler that their idea had worked. Spangler had said something like this being the Yellow Brick Road. Lisald had no idea what that meant and had said so. Spangler, true to his fashion, said something even more cryptic, stating that Lisald would understand when Vaat’s house landed on the witch. Before Lisald could ask more, Spangler had left the Science Lab, squawking about ruby slippers and a scarecrow that desperately needed math lessons.

“Thank you both,” Bane said, leaning forward, resting his right elbow on the armchair, and resting his chin in his fingers, in thought. “Steady as she goes, Vaat,” he ordered, both for the heading and speed of the ship and to calm the young Lieutenant down a bit. “Any indication it has spotted us?” He didn’t care who answered.

A moment passed before anyone answered. It was Lieutenant Gore that did so. “Not yet, Captain. It is possible we are outside of its field of view, coming up behind it.”

Bane nodded, happy that they had the element of surprise. “Good. Bring us to Yellow Alert, Lieutenant,” he said to Gore. “Lieutenant Lisald, please recall all Senior Officers to the Bridge.” It was almost unnecessary for Bane to ask that of one of his officers, as the heightened alert would cause all Senior Officers to report to their posts. It was not customary for the Chief Medical Officer or the Chief Engineer to report to the Bridge during a crisis; they generally went to Sickbay and to Main Engineering, respectively. However, Bane wanted all resources available to him this time. He was not a scientist nor a matter/energy engineer; therefore he needed his people here to help him make all the right decisions.

“Aye Captain,” Both Lisald and Gore said in unison. A split second later, the lights dimmed slightly and the amber alert lights began to blink in three-second intervals. The computer announced the yellow alert throughout the ship, and Bane knew in every section on every deck of the USS Cygnus people began making their way to their stations, just in case they were needed or things went south.

“Bridge to all Senior Officers. Please report to the Bridge,” Lisald ordered. There would be several acknowledgements, but he would largely ignore them unless he didn’t hear from someone.

“What is it headed towards, Mr. Lisald?”

“Checking,” he said, his fingers flying over the Ops station like he had been there his whole career. Bane noticed that and filed that away for future remarks. “It appears to be headed for Keldor III, a Cardassian world, situated about an hour and half at maximum warp from their border.”

“Confirmed, Captain,” Gore said. “I’ve been there. It is heavily populated, almost a billion Cardassians. It is a heavily-industrialized world with state-of-the-art defenses, communication networks, sensor relays and orbital platforms for planetary weather control. There are also smaller settlements on two of the moons of that world, as well as mining operations in the systems asteroid belt. The last time I reviewed the security briefing for that system, albeit more than a year ago now, that system was also home to the Cardassian Dragoons, a small and woefully inadequate defense wing of their self-defense force. However, I cannot confirm that at this distance, sir. I understand the Dragoons used to be one of the most powerful defense wings in their military, but since the end of the Dominion War and the treaties they have signed about their military powers, that is no longer the case,” he added. “At last report, the leaders of that unit were shells of their former leaders, generally young officers that have not been tested in the military, let alone combat.”

The Captain whistled through his teeth. Interesting as it was about the Dragoons, Bane stopped listening carefully when he was told of the vast number of people living in that system. Roughly a billion people. It would take more than a year for that many people to be evacuated on a system-wide scale like that. Those lives are what he cared about right now, now that their prey was for sure not hunting them. “How fast is that thing moving, Lisald?” He made another mental note to ask Gore about his time on a Cardassian planet. Surely there was an engaging story there.

“It is maintaining a speed of warp 7.47, Captain,” Lisald said immediately, like he was ready for the question. Bane liked that too. It seemed the young Lieutenant was in his element when things got serious.

“Good. Helm, match its course and speed. How long until it reaches Keldor III?”

Another few taps of the commands and Lisald had his answer. “9 hours and 10 minutes, give or take a minute or three.”

“Course and speed match, Captain,” the Helm Officer reported.

Plase raised his eyebrows. That did not give them long to come up with a solution on how to either feed this thing continuously, divert it into unpopulated space somehow, or to eliminate it completely, Prophets help them. “Gore, are we close enough to be able to scan the Keldor system?”

The partially cybernetic officer shook his head. “Not even remotely. Not even if we shunted all power on the ship to sensors would we be able to reach that far.”

Bane thought as much, but it never hurt to ask. “How far out are we from Deep Space 9? Could the USS Defiant get here in time if we needed them to?”

It was Lisald who shook his head this time. “No sir. They are three days out at maximum warp.”

Damn, Bane thought. He should have foreseen this and made arrangements. Oh well, their bed was made, and he would see to it that they made it out of here in one piece, and with the Crystalline Entity no longer threatening populated space. “Lets keep trailing it until it is an hour out from the Cardassian border. That is our Point of No Return. At that point, if we have not come up with another solution, we will have to consider taking extreme measures,” he said to the bridge. It was literally the one thing he didn’t want to have to do. “Hail Starfleet Command. We have to let them know the situation.” Without saying as much, Bane hoped Starfleet would be able to warn the Cardassian government what was going on and have them (and help them) begin to mount a system-wide evacuation, and possibly get the Dragoon unit deployed in time to help slow it down, if necessary. He had nothing to do now but wait. Wait for his officers to get to the Bridge. Wait for Starfleet Command to answer their hail. Wait for the Crystalline Entity to notice them, to change course, or to reach the Point of No Return. 

Bane hated waiting.

 

OFF

Bane Plase, Captain, Commanding

Lieutenant Gore, Chief Tactical Officer

Lieutenant junior grade Lisald Vaat, Chief Operations Officer