Captain’s log, USS Aitu, stardate 5266.7
We’ve been tasked with ferrying some highly sensitive cargo from a salvage operation in the L-374 system back to Rigel where hopefully someone will be able to make heads or tails of whatever we’ve got in the main cargo hold. I asked what we might have on hand but was informed that not even the SCE doesn’t quite understand it.
To make matters more interesting, whatever it is that we’re carrying is also incredibly massive. Roughly the size of a shuttle, it actually outweighs the Aitu, which is likely why we’re the ones transporting it. Oversized engines mean we can move the cargo, but even at maximum power, we’re barely pulling warp six.
Commander T’Mir calculates it will take us two weeks at this speed to get to Rigel. Suffice to say, I’m looking forward to getting this particular monkey off our backs as soon as possible.
“What’s all the ruckus about?” Captain Brandon Somers asked as he stepped out of the turbolift onto the bridge of his ship.
“A few small issues that when combined make one big problem,” Lieutenant Commander Lisa Peralez said as she stood from the centre seat and indicated for Somers to join her at the Science station. “Sensors have detected some sort of subspace distortion dead ahead and every course correction we make, it matches with a delay that’s getting shorter the closer we get to it.”
“That’s one,” Somers said as he took in the readings on screen.
“We’re speeding up,” Peralez continued. “As we near the distortion we’re increasing in speed. We’re currently at six point two and climbing slowly. It’s like we’re caught in an eddy and falling in. And before you ask, we’ve tried shutting down the warp engines as well but they’re not responding.”
“What’s Gram got to say?”
“He’s finishing a diagnostic right now, but he’s already admitted if we need to stop it’s looking like we might need to eject the core.”
Somers sighed, shook his head and then looked to Peralez. “Anything else to make this morning more fun?”
“Long-range sensors picked up something that’ll give the boys and girls in Intelligence kittens,” she said punching up the last surprise for the morning. “Resolution isn’t great, but we’re eighty per cent on it.” A silhouette of a triangular ship came up on one of the monitors, then rotated to provide a front view of the tri-radial craft.
“Tholians? This far inside the Federation?” He shook his head in the negative. “Has to be a sensor glitch. Get Baker and,” he started to say before being rudely cut off as the entire ship shook, red alert klaxons rising to the occasion of their own volition.
“Report!” he barked as he made his way for his seat and threw himself into it, Peralez making for Tactical.
“Warp drive just surged in power Captain,” Lieutenant Ramosh Taroo said from the helm. “We’re pushing warp eight and still accelerating. Course is still set for the distortion. One minute till impact.”
“Christ,” Somers cursed. He took a moment more to think, weighing up his options. A finger jammed down on the button that called straight through to Engineering. “Gram, eject the warp core right now.”
Over the comm channel a warning siren could be heard warbling, then what could only be described as a woosh before an angry Tellarite barked back at Somers. “Done.”
It was however far too late as USS Aitu was unable to avoid the subspace distortion before it. As the ship tumbled through strange physics the crew was tossed wildly as alarms screamed for attention from every console on the bridge. But as soon as it started, it seemingly came to an end, the ship settling, light flickering on the bridge, failing, then dull red emergency lights coming up in their stead.
Somers clamoured to his own feet and looking around decided not to ask for a report. There wouldn’t be much he couldn’t see with his own eyes as most consoles were blank, or flickering wildly. The helm was completely blown out and Somers quickly spotted the mangled form of Taroo, having caught the electrical explosion straight to her face and upper torso.
“Sound off,” he said instead, loud, firm, confident. The voice of a commander trying to reassure the shaken everything would be okay. Trying to reassure himself it would be okay.
A few meagre moans, a couple of responses including Peralez who was soon scrambling for a first aid kit to help someone else on the bridge.
Somers sighed, muttered a short prayer for Taroo, then made his way to the normally vacant communications station and assessed the situation. Subspace radio was down, but the normal space radio was still operational. Maybe someone was close enough, or would come to investigate a warp core explosion and hear?
A few button presses and he was rewarded with the tone that the system was recording and ready to transmit.
“Mayday mayday mayday. This is the USS Aitu requesting immediate assistance from anyone who can hear me. We’ve suffered severe damage and primary power loss. If you can hear me, please respond.”
That weak cry for help, recorded and looped, beamed across the void space at the speed of light, seeking any who could hear it, recognise it and bring such sorely needed help to the stricken ship and crew.
What was to remain unseen by any of the crew of the USS Aitu until far too late however was the planet they’d been deposited near by their strange journey. A planet they had no way of breaking away from and whom the added weight of their cargo would have made escape impossible from anyway.