“The last of the fighters have returned,” Chief Petty Officer Corran Daniels reported from the Operations station having relived Ensign Crawford. “Knight Actual is still missing in action.”
Rebecca’s heart skipped a beat. “Cheon,” she said softly to herself. “Miss Chapman scan the area for Commander Kyo’s fighter.”
“Aye, Captain.” Beth begins tapping on her console, trying to focus the sensors to find the transponder signal, but she got nothing. Frustrated, she turned to the old-fashioned radio beacon that every fighter possessed, calibrated to the frequency emitted by the specific starship. But in this case, nothing. “Captain, I’m not getting anything on the external sensors. There are a few things I can try, but there seems to be too much damage and interference to make a determination. I’m sorry, ma’am. I can continue to scan, but….for the moment, there’s not much I can do.” Beth’s voice is a bit more shaken…she looks down and tries to channel her worry into fixing the sensors and getting better readings. The upgrades helped, but the debris outside of the ship…was making it a true challenge.
Rebecca nodded, “Keep doing what you can. Helm initiate standard search pattern.”
“Aye ma’am,” the woman at the helm replied.
“Ms. Chapman, you have the bridge,” Rebecca said standing. She gave Elisabeth a nod before heading for the turbolift at the back of the bridge.
“Aye, Captain.” After returning the nod, Elisabeth walks from her position on the bridge to the center, then takes a seat in the Captain’s chair. It was not her first time in the Captain’s chair, but the weight and expectations of the ship and crew settled on her as she led Search and Rescue efforts. “Helm, continue search pattern. OPS, see if we can’t lock onto the emergency locating transmitter (ELT) signal. Normally, these fighters have an ELT in case of emergency. I hope we can lock onto it.” Elisabeth crosses her legs as she sits in the Captain’s chair and continues to monitor the status.
“Aye ma’am,” Chief Daniels replied. “There is significant interference, but there’s a debris field bearing 212 mark 8.”
Rebecca entered sickbay and there were injured everywhere, but it was orderly. Rebecca glanced around but could not find Seong. Rebecca snagged the arm of a nurse that was hastily moving passed her, “Where is Docter Seong?” she asked the nurse.
The nurse paused for a moment and looked about for the doctor and then shrugged. “She might be in the Officer’s Lounge at this time since she is off duty,” the nurse stated before she dismissed herself to resume her duties.
Rebecca nodded and took off out of sickbay and headed for the nearest Officer’s Lounge. Once she entered she took a quick glance and spotted Seong sitting with another Doctor. She moved with haste as she walked over to where the two doctors were sitting, “Commander Seong, I need a moment,” she said as she nodded toward Efe
Seong looked away from the window as she had been inwardly compartmentalizing the events of the day. She looked over at Rebecca and set down the now-cooled mug of raktajino. She realized that something was on her captain’s mind and offered her a seat.
“What can I do for you, Captain?”
Adrift in a Valkyrie-
Cheon knew that his fighter was dead in the water. Without thinking he disabled the ELT on his fighter. A sigh left his lips as he watched the silence of the battlefield slowly creep in. His hands slipped over the console and he brought up the ship’s technicals. ‘Oxygen levels are stable for now.’ he thought to himself as he looked through the HUD at the debris that flowed passed and around his wrecked fighter.
Rebecca hesitated, sighed, and dived in head first, “Seong… Cheon is MIA. Scans have not been able to locate his transponder beacon and there’s too much debris to even tell if his fighter has been destroyed or not.”
On the outside, Seong looked calm, cool, and collected. A skill that she had honed to perfection over her years as a medical officer. However, on the inside, she was a raging cyclone of emotions. She knew that her husband was alive, but she also knew that he was alone and that pissed her off.
She looked at Rebecca, “Thank you, Captain,” Seong said. “I am sure that everyone is doing everything to find my husband. Again I thank you for informing me.”
Adrift in a Valkyrie-
‘Something is wrong,’ Cheon that as he checks the oxygen levels once more. He had noticed the last time that his levels were falling. He had tried to locate the damaged system but he couldn’t identify it amongst all of the damage that his fighter had sustained; not to mention that he was confined in what could be closely considered a coffin, which limited his movement.
It was then that he saw it, in the reflection of his cockpit window. The occasional spurting halfway down the hull of the fighter; the spurting reminded him of an artery having been nicked, but not fully cut; but still spewing precious fluid or in this case gas.
“This complicates things,” he said to the valkyrie.
“I intend to prep and launch both of our runabouts. You are free to join one of them if you wish, but I will need your recommendation for your replacement on the away team. There’s a disabled Cardassian ship,” Rebecca said surprised at the doctor’s composure.
Seong shook her head. “I will be needed on that ship. No one else besides Efe here knows more about Cardassian physiology than me. I can treat the wounded and stabilize them on that ship before transporting them back here,” she stated as she stood up and walked over to a bulkhead-sized window and stared out into the darkness of space. Her attention was then shifted over to the smoldering carnage of the battlefield. She knew that somewhere out there her husband sat in silence amongst the debris of the ship and fighters.
Rebecca had to admire the woman and her dedication to duty. She wasn’t sure she would be able to prioritize the Denver over Milo. In fact, she was certain of that, and she was also pretty sure she was okay with that too. She loved the man despite rarely spending any time with him. He was after all the twins’ father, and she loved Ethan as her own.
“Well Doctor,” the captain started, “you better get suited up. Ensign Crawford is already over there.”
Seong nodded to the captain and headed for sickbay to gather her gear before she headed to the transporter pad.
Adrift in a Valkyrie-
Cheon silenced the alert once more before it told him how much oxygen was left. The fighter had already accessed the reserve tank minutes ago. He already knew how much time he had left as the HUD, which was still up, displayed it for him; two minutes.
Cheon watched as the debris slowly thinned out. He knew then that he was close to the edge of the battlefield. He also knew that he was nearing the furthest edge of the passive scanners of the Denver. He knew that his fate was closing in.
Ensign Lonar Lott stared down at the navigational controls of his runabout. He banked the little ship to the left to skirt around a decent size piece of debris. There was sweat on the brow of Bolian’s skin. The cockpit of the ship obviously was a comfortable temperature but flying around in and around wrecked ships and fighters was a bit more than he was prepared for. He hadn’t even officially graduated from the Academy yet being shoved out the door and right into the front lines. Last week he was enjoying leisurely walks on the Academy grounds and a mere few days later he was moments from death.
Lieutenant Halfcock stepped out of the rear of the runabout and into the cockpit. She looked at Lonar. “Ensign, if you don’t relax you’re going to strain something,” she said as she took the copilot seat. She had felt his tension long before they had left the Denver and knew that he was nervous about being in the cold darkness of space. “Just remember that we are searching for our lost Commander and that our success will be determined by your abilities to stay relaxed and focused on the scans that the Mialoss is giving us.”
“Of course sir,” Ensign Lott replied. He adjusted the heading of the runabout to dip below a chunk of a Jem’Hadar fighter still trailing plasma smoke.
Halfcock nodded to the Ensign. “This is your first away mission, outside of sims, isn’t it?” she asked him as her fingers flew over the console that was in front of her.
The Bolian nodded, “It is. How are we going to find survivors in this?”
The Lieutenant had been wondering about that herself. She could see the Ensign’s point as they flew through the debris field. Even the sensors and passive scanners were having difficulty plotting a safeish course. “I have faith,” she stated as she once more tapped on the console sending out another scan.
Suddenly there was a ping on the extreme edge of their scanners range.
“Ensign, head to this point,” she stated and sent him the cords.
The Bolian nodded and plotted the course. The blip was behind a cluster of asteroids and he skillfully “threaded the needle” between two house-sized chunks of space rocks. He glanced over his shoulder with a smirk, “I was at the top of my class.”
A fist-sized rock smashed into the runabouts’ shields, causing them to flare bright blue. Halfcock shook her head, staring at the Bolian. “You did say top of your class, but not number one. I see why,” she mentioned as she returned her gaze to the console, attempting to clear the signal from the ping ahead of them.
“Ensign, kindly double-check the most recent scans,” she requests. “If I’m not mistaken, we’re almost out of the debris field, and I’ve got my eye on a sizable federation alloy. However, no ELT is being transmitted,” said Halfcock.
“That doesn’t sound good,” Lott replied circling a large asteroid. “I think there’s an abnormally large concentration of Kemocite in these rocks. That explains why the sensors are all over the place,” He replied. “There it is. Duranium, Tritanium, and other Federation materials.” He banked the runabout and cut the impulse engines and used inertia to close the gap. If there were survivors the last thing he wanted to do was make a bug on the viewscreen out of them.
The Edge of the Debris-
As he sat there, Cheon’s vision began to blur. An alert constantly blared in the background, alerting him to the fact that the oxygen level was dangerously low. He peered out the cockpit of the Valkyrie into the vastness of deep space. His thoughts turned to his wife and daughter, Jolie. Sadness washed over him when he realized he wouldn’t get to see his daughter grow up.
His passive scanner suddenly pinged on his console. Cheon blinked his eyes, attempting to clear his blurry vision. Even with his vision blurred, he noticed the Federation icon on the console. He let out a sigh of relief as he realized he was going to be fine. He closed his eyes and let the fatigue caused by low oxygen levels take over.
As the runabout slowed, the viewscreen revealed the wreckage of a valkyrie, and Halfcock could see Cheon through the cockpit.
“Mister Lott, turn us around and put us in front of that Valkyrie.” “Then extend the shields to cover it,” she said, leaping from her copilot’s seat and sprinting to the rear hatch.
“Let me know when the shields are in place,” Halfcock said as she turned to look to the front.
Lonar Lott stumbled over the unpracticed commands slowly tapping out the buttons and checking himself. Finally, he completed the order and pressed the comm button on the console, “Lieutenant, the shields are extended.”
Halfcock opened the rear hatch as soon as she realized the shields had been extended around the valkyrie. She then dashed out of the runabout and over to the Valkyries cockpit. Anyone watching this would have thought she had thrown herself out of the back of the runabout, but it was pure instinct for her to reach her Commander. She reached out and pulled on an emergency release lever, which was released by several small explosions along the cockpit. She reached in and unhooked the harness, yanking the semiconscious Cheon from the craft.
Halfcock began scanning Cheon’s body with a medical tricorder from a medical kit on board a few moments later, with the rear of the runabout sealed. Though she knew the fundamentals from her academy training, she could see that his heart rate was slow, which had been caused by the low levels of oxygen in the cockpit, and that hypoxia had just begun.
She reached for a hypospray and, following the instructions on the tricorder, administered a sedative to prevent further harm to him. She yells, looking forward toward the cockpit of the runabout.
“Lott, get us out of here and back to Denver. Inform them that we have the XO and that a medical team is needed to meet us in the main shuttle bay.”
Lonar entered the command into the helm and the runabout launched forward at full impulse… a nearly suicidal speed considering the natural and no so natural obstacles in the way. He rolled and twisted the ship around asteroids and under the hulk of a Dominion ship, the hull groaning as the inertial dampers struggled to keep up.
Once they broke free into open space he hailed the Denver, “Mialoss to Denver, we have located Commander Kyo and are heading back to the ship. Have a medical team meet us a the shuttle bay.”
“That’s good news,” Rebecca replied over the comm, “I already have sickbay responding. Be safe Ensign, and get back in one piece.”
“Understood, Mialoss out.” Lott glanced over his shoulder, “How’s he doing Lieutenant? ETA… one minute twenty seconds.”
Halfcock looked over to Lott. “He’s stable for now, but he is going to need medical attention soon.”
Shuttle Bay, USS Denver –
The runabout Mialoss glided through the open bay door with a buzz as it crossed through the forcefield. A deck officer directed the smaller auxiliary ship to a landing pad that would actually lower it into a hanger bay below the deck for servicing.
Ensign Lonar Lott let out a sigh of relief as he skillfully set the runabout down on the deck and powered down the engines. As the hum died down he entered he commands to open the external hatch and rotated his seat to face Halfcock, “Now what?”
Without waiting for the ramp to fully extend down to the deck, Halfcock was already halfway down the ramp. As soon as her foot hit the deck she carried Cheon over to a waiting medical team. She informed them of his current condition before she turned to look at the Ensign.
“Good job, Lott,” she said before placing a hand on the young Bolian’s shoulder. “I’ll be sure to place a commendation in for you.”
“Thank you ma’am,” he said with a smile.
About the title
During World War II the United States Navy used “Dumbo” as a code name for air-sea-rescue operations. Long-range aircraft, such as the PBY Catalina, would scour the South Pacific in search of downed pilots and stranded sailors.