Part of USS Sovereign: Death by the Star and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

Chapter Five

Destroyed Mining Vessel / Mining Station
March 2400
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Ruby sighed heavily into his helmet when he heard what the captain had asked them to do. Just before Bazial and Gatia could say it, Ruby raised his gloved hands to stop them “I know. You two want me and Lane to count the bodies. You do realize there are some organic matter in space, right?”

But Lane was already on top of that and answered Ruby for the Lieutenants. “The runabout’s sensors can pick up all the organic matter in the area and compile together the total mass for all organic matter, thus able to extrapolate how many bodies there may have been based on an average humanoid mass.”

Ruby stared at Lane for a moment then chuckled. “All right. Let’s get back to the runabout.”

“Not necessary.” Said Bazial. “Computer.” She got a tone from the runabout’s computer that indicated it was listening. “Scan all organic material in space that originated from this vessel and tell us how many bodies that the total mass comes out to.”

The computer made a few more tones to indicate that it complied with the order. Once it had finished its scan, it then replied. “Based on total mass divided by an average humanoid mass, the number of bodies in space is five.”

“There you go, boys.” Said Gatia. “Now based on what the captain told us, you just need to find ten more. While Bazial and I go look for the control unit.”

Ruby and Lane returned to the cargo hold to where they found most of the bodies, which they simply tallied up on their tricorders. When they did not come up with fifteen, they continued to search the rest of the ship until they were given no choice but go to the aft section of the ship, which was separated from the rest. With a quick transport over, they began their search for the remaining four bodies.

“How do we know that there are fifteen bodies on board this ship?” Lane asked.

“Well for one, the captain said so. Probably got the information from the mining station’s commander.” Ruby told him as they walked through the corridor, performing random scans to gather data, likely useless data at this point but it was something while they were looking for the remaining bodies. “The lieutenants said that the manifest stated all fifteen crew members were on board the vessel before life support was shut down.”

Lane nodded his head. “I see. Can’t wait to get back to the ship.”

Ruby chuckled. “Why? Don’t like being out here anymore?”

“As a matter of fact, yes.” Lane told him.

“You were all fine and dandy earlier. What changed?” Ruby asked.

“Knowing that this ship was sabotaged as well, and possibly remote controlled by one of Starfleet’s greatest enemies.” Said Lane.

“I don’t know about greatest. Nuisance is more like it to me.” Said Ruby.

“Point is. This was the ship of the damned. Earlier it was just figuring out what happened to the ship. Now I am afraid that this Tal’Shiar agent has more up his sleeve.” Said Lane.

They stepped into engineering and found their remaining bodies. Ruby tallied the ones he saw and Lane did the same, before they turned to each other, Ruby with a smile. “I wouldn’t worry about it too much, Theo. This ship is very lifeless. And I’m not talking about the bodies. No auxiliary power, no batteries, if there is no power to the link that this Tal’Shiar agent had, then there is really nothing that they can do to us.”

“Still. I would like to get back to the runabout, if you don’t mind. We did our job, so I like to add up what we got.” Said Lane.

Ruby chuckled then nodded. “All right. Computer. Two to transport.” And with that, they were engulfed in a column of blue light and returned to the runabout’s transporter pad. Both Ruby and Lane took their helmets off before Ruby handed his tricorder over to Lane to begin the count.

“Gatia to Ortiz.” Came from Gatia over the comms.

Ruby went over to the pilot station and pressed a button to accept the transmission. “Ruby here. Lane and I found all the bodies and are back on the runabout.”

“Good. Because we found the controller and are attempting to remove it.” Said Bazial next. That is until there was a small whine getting louder and sharper. “Oh hell, computer, beam us up now!”

Both Gatia and Bazial appeared on the transporter pad and neither of them wasted time. “Computer shields!” they both said at the same time, right before the deck beneath them shook out from under them. Both Gatia and Bazial were able to grab onto the frames of the transporter pad, Ruby had tried to hold onto the pilot same but same as Lane, he was tossed to the floor. One of the auxiliary consoles blew into a shower of sparks from an overload and the lights began to flicker before being replaced by emergency lighting.

It took a solid minute for things to calm down, all that was left was Gatia taking an extinguisher and hosing the flames out that came from the blown out console. She then set the canister down before she tried to power up the engineering console. “Damn it.” She cursed when nothing came up on the displays. “I need to get out of this suit and figure out how bad we are.” She said as she took her helmet off.

Ruby slowly pushed himself to his feet. “The hell happened?”

Bazial helped Lane to his feet before she answered. “The controller was rigged to self destruct the moment it detected any signs of tampering. Typical Tal’Shiar to booby trap their devices. We had anticipated it and thought we had fooled the controller to think nothing was wrong but clearly that didn’t work.” Bazial then took her helmet off. “Computer must not have got the shields up in time to shield us from the blast. But at least we’re still alive. Problem is, now we have to find out how badly damaged we are.”

“That’s not the only problem.” Said Lane as he looked up from the tricorders and looked at Bazial and Ruby. “All systems are down, right? So no communications?” He asked and he got a nod from both Bazial and Ruby, both having confirmed their situation and waited in anticipation to what Lane has to tell them. Lane swallowed. “I counted three times just to be sure but we have a tally of seventeen bodies. Not fifteen.”

Ruby and Bazial looked at each other. “Then that means…” Said Ruby.

“The mining station has two saboteurs, not just one.” Bazial finished and then began to quickly take her suit off. “We need to help Gatia in getting our systems back online. The captain needs to know this information, right now.” Both Lane and Ruby began to frantically remove their suit pieces.

Vakai walked right into the station’s administrator office with his parents right behind him. His goal at this point was to get more information out from the Reman commander. If they were to fish out the saboteur, then the best place to start is right here in the administration office. Both his parents, Votreel and Detom went ahead and began to access the data from the terminals while Vakai stood there before the Reman commander.

“What is this?” Demanded Tekarex.

“Apologies for barging in, Commander. But dinner will have to wait. Nuta and her husband were quite convincing that you are not experiencing simple malfunctions, but have a saboteur on board.” Vakai explained.

Tekarex grunted before he looked at Votreel. “Nuta! We been over this! All the records show that there was no change in head count. No change in workers and staff. Aside from us eliminating our masters, everyone is accounted for!” He told her.

“Except that we know how the Tal’Shiar operate, Tekarex.” Vakai spoke for her. “I especially had a rough encounter with one. If they want to keep the head count accurate so that no one notices any discrepancies, they would eliminate one of your workers and take their place.”

Tekarex shook his head. “No. The Senate in the Star Empire may have been fools, but the ones who operated this station were not. They installed tracking devices and had our details on file. Height. Weight. Eye color. They were very thorough.”

Vakai shook his head. “A Tal’Shiar agent can easily manipulate that data without you even noticing it. But since you are so sure of yourself.” He then tapped his comm badge. “Vakai to Gomez, report.”

“I’ve studied the machines that are not working, captain. None of them have malfunctioned under normal circumstances, no wear and tear would do this kind of damage. They were sabotaged.” Replied Gomez.

“Lieutenant Maya, do you concur?” Vakai asked.

“Yes, captain. My parents were in the resistance during the occupation on bajor. They taught me everything I needed to know. This is definitely sabotage. Something her people would do to the Cardassians.” Replied Maya.

“Thank you ladies. Gomez, do what you can to repair their machines, that is still our primary mission. Maya, keep Gomez safe. Vakai out.” Vakai then tapped his badge again to cut the transmission before he put his arm down. “My people are good at their job, Tekarex. So let us do ours.”

Tekarex grunted. “What? Nuta and her husband happen to be Tal’Shiar experts now?”

Vakai looked at Votreel who looked right back at him before he made a sigh. “Her name is actually Votreel and her husband is Detom. They are my parents. And they are former Tal’Shiar agents. So yes, actually, that does make them experts.”

With Tekarex left to handle that information, Vakai went over to his mother and father. “Anything?”

They both turned from the consoles to look at him. They both shook their heads. “If the saboteur did their job, they did it extremely well.” Said Votreel.

“We can’t find any trace of tampering with the files.” Said Detom.

Vakai sighed. “Guess we have to do it the hard way then. Commander.” Vakai turned to look at Tekarex. “How about assembling all of your people?”

“What for?” Tekarex asked.

Vakai smiled. “A speech of course! Got to let your people know that they’re in good hands and that we will get everything back up and running again.”

Tekarex growled before he raised his voice. “Remar!”

A Reman entered the administration’s office and stopped in front of the reman commander. “Yes, Tekarex?”

“My friend. Gather our people into the mess hall. This Starfleet has something to say.” Tekarex asked of him.

Remar bowed his head. “At once, Commander.” He then gave Vakai a hard look before he made his way out.

“Sovereign to Captain Vakai.” Came in Ward’s voice.

“Go ahead.” Said Vakai.

“We detected an explosion that came from the mining vessel. But with our proximity to the station and the asteroids surrounding us, we’re unable to determine if the runabout is in any danger or not. Ryker and Sivol had just left in a runabout to investigate.” Ward asked.

Vakai sighed. He did not at all enjoyed the news he just got. “Understood, Commander. Keep my posted. Vakai out.”

“They found the controller?” Votreel asked.

Vakai looked at his parents. “Probably. And they probably tried to remove it too.”

Tekarex came over to them. “What are you talking about?”

Vakai looked at the commander. “I didn’t want to tell you until we got hard evidence, Tekarex. But my team investigating the mining vessel, reported that the crew on board were dead for more then twenty hours. Long before the Sovereign got here. We suspected that the ship was then being controlled from the Tal’Shiar agent here on board the station.”

Tekarex scoffed. “If they are so great as you say, couldn’t they simply control it from outside the star system?”

Detom shook his head. “No. These controller devices are not as sophisticated and powerful as ones that the Tal’Shiar had experimented with over two hundred years ago. These controllers can do the exact same job but have a limited range. The agent would have to be here, on this station, to control that vessel.”

“Especially since it came from under the upper layer of a gas giant. If the agent was anywhere else, they would have lost control of the ship and it would have sank deeper until it was crushed. No. That agent is here, no doubt about it.” Vakai explained.

Tekarex let out a heavy sigh. “Then you better find them, captain. Because if all they were doing was sabotaging our machines, then it is because they have not gotten around the Star Empire’s security firewall on the main reactor.”

Votreel began to nod her head slowly. “Right. The Star Empire had changed their firewall systems. To the Tal’Shiar, they would look merely identical to what they had before but in fact, they are not. It’s ingenius if it has kept the agent from sabotaging the main reactor.”

Vakai shook his head. “Then we better find that agent before they find a way to crack that firewall. Commander, if you’d show us the way to your mess.”

“This way.” Tekarex led them out of the office.