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Part of USS Mercy: Mission 1 – “Life as a House”

Something is Out There

USS Mercy - Briefing Room - 1500
August 10th, 2400
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Captain Halsey glanced at his watch. 1445.  He had sent out the message to his senior staff to meet in the briefing room on deck 2 at 1500.  Starfleet had them doing a supply run to a nearby colony as a starting point to work the crew through their paces, and for his part, Leopold was content with the duty.

The turbolift doors opened, and Sorek stepped onto the bridge.  After being named the new XO for the Mercy, he had returned to Starbase Bravo and to the Sitacus to gather his belongings and complete final transfer paperwork.  Upon returning to the medical ship, he toured the decks to familiarize himself with the internal layout.

Halsey looked from his center chair, “Commander, welcome.”  He handed the Vulcan a PADD, “Preliminary staff reports from our chiefs.”   He explained what Starfleet had then working on for their shakedown cruise.

“I spent some time checking in on the departments,” said Sorek.  “Everyone is ready and eager to go.”

The captain agreed, “I know that initial excitement will fade as we all work together on the Mercy, but it’s nice to feel it again.”  He tapped at his PADD, “Anything you think we need to focus on with this group after a first glance through our roster?”

“I have no doubt everyone assigned here is capable,” said Sorek.  “Our initial focus should be learning who works best with whom so duty assignments provide the best medical care possible.  Though we’re all professionals, not everyone gets along.  This will require much from the department heads.”

“It’ll be a learning experience for all.”  He looked up as the door opened to reveal the next officer.

Sesias entered the briefing room, again taking a moment as he looked around, familiarising himself to not only the room but its general location on the ship. He approached the seat next to the Commander. “Captain,” after he took his seat, he looked at the Commander “Commander, We haven’t been introduced. Lt. Sesias, Chief of Operations and Tactical.” He extended his middle arm as the other two started to go through a new message on his PADD. “Sorry, sir, I just got the transporter room duty schedule for the next two weeks from Ensign Blakey.”

Halsey gave a nod, “Welcome to the briefing, Lieutenant.  Find a seat anywhere.  How has your onboarding been?”

He put the PADD down and looked at Captain Halsey. “ It has gone well sir; I’ve spent the day since our meeting this morning familiarising myself with the ship. I conducted initial walk-throughs with several of my departments and made arrangements for the rest tomorrow. I need to set an appointment with our Chief Medical Officer to discuss a couple of supply ideas I have, plus I want to discuss what she would need from operations if we had to use the holodecks as medical wards if we ran into an emergency need for them to be used as such.”

“I’ll leave that to you and the CMO, lieutenant.”  He turned, and the door to the briefing room slid open once more, revealing the aforementioned CMO.

Aimee entered and immediately started to feel a little claustrophobic. There’s a lot of officers in here, she thought to herself. She glanced around.  The only remaining seats left her with her back to at least one door.  Uncomfortably she slid into the closest seat.

“Doctor MacDonald, welcome.  Sickbay to your liking?”

Aimee shrugged,  “Considering I have been working with a box of band-aids and a bottle of Tylenol for the last eight months… aye, it will do.  Once I get reports from all my sub-department heads, I’ll let you know if we need anything.”

Halsey chuckled, “I remember those days, and I do not envy you.”

Another slide of the door and the security chief ambled in. Lieutenant James O’Shea walked into the briefing room and nodded toward the Captain. “Afternoon, Sir.”

Halsey gestured to a chair, “Have a seat, Lieutenant.  Your report on our security status was helpful.  If you need anything further, reach out to Commander Sorek as our XO.”

Talking a seat, James let out a short chuckle, “Will do,” he said and turned to face the XO, “I would like to speak quickly after this if you have a moment?”

“Of course,” said Sorek.

The last three into the room were two assistant chief officers – one medical, one engineering and the chief counseling officer.  He pointed out the last three seats were left. “Welcome to all of you.  Mr. Cordon, I’ll need an engineering report before the day ends – Bravo wanted to know if we need anything additional.”

Doctor Lori Weaver rushed into the observation lounge, worried that she was late.  She wasn’t the CMO, but with her field of medicine being in trauma, she hoped to be named chief of the emergency ward.  “Sorry, Captain.  I had last-minute difficulties with my transfer orders.”  She sat in one of the vacant chairs.]

Halsey indicated his understanding, “First days are always a bit chaotic across the board.”

Neva nodded and smiled at the Captain and sat down, fingers dancing on her ever-present PADD. “Thank you, Sir.” She gave a slightly apologetic smile as she set down her instrument. “Actually, Sir, I can tell you right now what you ask. We look to have everything we need on the manifest. It should all be aboard ship within the hour.”

The CO raised his eyebrows, “That is good news.  Nice work, lieutenant.”

Egrel slipped into the room, keeping quiet and not wanting to draw attention to himself. He winced, as he realised he was cutting it far too close. He quietly murmured something about having gotten lost, which is quite fair with him being a new, last-minute transfer. He quietly sank down into a chair, setting his PADD slowly and silently down onto the table

Halsey turned to the table, and stood, moving to the screen.  “We’ve been given an assignment for our first cruise.  We’ve been tasked with…,” suddenly there was a hard-sounding beep from his communications badge.

=^=Bridge to Captain Halsey=^=

Neva jumped when the tones sounded. Although she was trained from birth to not sweat those, she tended to get focused on the conversation or whatever was holding her attention at that time. ‘Another habit to nip in the bud PRONTO!’

The CO frowned, “Halsey here, go ahead.”

=^=Captain, we’re receiving an…odd signal from a system a few days from here.  Starfleet is also receiving and was wishing to speak with you.  I informed them of your senior staff meeting, and they are requesting to brief you all on a new mission objective.=^=

Leopold glanced at his XO, “Very well, put them through here.”

Expect the unexpected, thought Sorek.

Egrel looked around at the other officers, a small frown on his lips. He closed his eyes momentarily to mentally prepare himself.

The face of an admiral flickered onto the screen, and he gazed across the crew until he found Captain Halsey, =^=Captain, we’re getting an unusual distress call belonging to what we think is a former moon base.  It’s well within Federation space, but we’re not able to discern exactly what the signal is or where specifically it’s coming from.  Your newly refit science equipment and crew are well suited for this investigation.  We’d like you to proceed toward the signal and identify what it is and where it’s coming from.=^=

Halsey asked, “I don’t get the sense this is an immediate situation requiring a rapid response if you’re sending us, sir.”

The admiral gave a light nod, “It’s an old distress signal code – one we haven’t used in over 200 years using frequencies just as old or older.  There will be fleet ships in the area if you have need of tactical support, but given what we know about the sector we think it’s coming from…there’s nobody to raise a phaser out there…or hasn’t been for a long time.=^=

The captain gave a nod, “Understood, Admiral, we’ll get underway.”  A nod from and the channel closed.  Leopold turned to the senior officers, “Thoughts?”

O’Shea frowned, “A mysterious and ancient distress signal from an abandoned base. Sounds like squatters may have settled into the base and possibly activated the signal either on purpose or by mistake. We should be careful if we go down there. Who knows what we may find.” He shrugged and smiled, “That said, who doesn’t like a good mystery.”

The CO accepted the concerns, “If history has taught us nothing about exploring the unknown, caution may be the best prevention against disaster.” He turned to the rest of the senior officers.

Egrel took a breath before he spoke, “I take it this is before the time of possibility of an EMH. What about other artificial life forms? That is not impossible. If it is a genuine distress signal, we should be prepared to act and assist, yet defend if need be.”

Halsey made a note, “It is a time before Kirk, so there’s plenty of unknowns to be concerned about.”

Sesias turned over his PADD and started to quickly pull up and go through the information. “Sir, many bases from that time frame had some sort of a genetics lab, and many had cryogenic labs. Could we be looking at someone coming out of cryosleep and sending out the only signals on the frequencies that they knew.”

Halsey listened, taking notes on his PADD as the officer spoke.

“I should be able to get that base’s systems online pretty easily, actually.” She gave her nervous smile. “I used to hang around Engineering on the ship I was born on so much that I picked up a fair amount of stories from the crewmen.” 

She looked around the table, hoping she didn’t sound like a fool for this. Releasing a breath, she plunged on. “They’d talk about systems they’d worked on, had heard about from THEIR childhoods, and so on. I would read all about those ancient systems as often as I could. It became a game to find out just how the systems worked and if I could reproduce it on my PADD and in my room.” She could’ve gone on but felt any more would be bragging.

“Your knowledge will probably serve to help us understand whatever this is – keep that in mind.  We won’t be certain of anything with something possibly as old as whatever this is.”  He turned as his CMO looked as if she was going to say something.  And she did.

Aimee spoke suddenly,  “There’s another possibility.   This is a trap.  Someone or something knows Starfleet will respond to a distress signal and send a ship.  The two-hundred-year-old signal could be nothing more than a ploy to get us to let our guard down.”

Leopold nodded solemnly, “You make a good point, Doctor.  Starfleet is known as the hands and feet of the Federation…and there are groups out there who are not fans of what we do.”  He looked over the crew, “We have our heading, and we’ll depart within the hour.  Move whatever mountains you need to get what you need from the Quartermaster.  Loop the XO or me in if you need some extra metaphorical muscle to get things moving.  We should be arriving within 24 hours at the section of space where the signal is strongest.  Work with your departments to be ready for as much as we can.”  He stopped short of dismissing them and considered his words carefully, “We weren’t expecting an assignment like this.  We have a large contingent of cadet crew onboard who are going to need your help.  They will make mistakes.”  He motioned to the gathered officers, “Your job is to help teach and learn with them.”  There, that was what he wanted to get out.  “Let’s get to work.  Briefing dismissed.”

Great… a cadet compliment, Aimee thought to herself.  Just what I need. A bunch of rookies underfoot while I try to do everything the Captain needs.  She stood with the others, nodded to the Captain and XO, and retreated to her sanctum.

Halsey headed to the helm station on the bridge.  The USS Mercy would be taking her first steps with this crew into the unknown.