Commander’s Log, stardate 77664.9
We’re just finishing up the routine survey work of the system TE-101. A few notable, but unremarkable finds overall. We’re not set up for highly detailed surveys like a proper survey ship would be, but good enough to know this system isn’t terribly worthwhile in the scheme of things.
We’ll be progressing along to TE-157 within the hour and continuing the task at hand there. A few days at warp, a week of survey work, then off to TE-237 and meet the captain there. Nothing too stressful, if you don’t mind the fact that we’re within pouncing distance of the Breen border.
I’m taking the time currently to get ahead of some personnel reviews which are going well. Have a few interviews lined up as well to discuss things like career goals and direction with a number of our middle band of officers.
Lieutenant Ch’tkk’va has settled on a list of candidates they’d like for the Hazard Team and I have a meeting with them later today to discuss the list, as well as a few cosmetic issues they want to talk about. Not sure what that could be able, but guess we’ll see. I’ve invited Lieutenant Fightmaster along as well to the meeting
“What’s so special I had to come out here?” Mac asked, stepping out of the ready room with coffee in hand and coming up short of the Operations console where one Samantha Michaels was seated currently standing behind her ready relief.
“You’ll want to hear this, Sir,” she said, then gave the ensign, fresher-faced the Michaels herself, the go-ahead to play the recording they’d picked up over the bridge speakers.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday,” the crackling voice said, firm and clear for all to hear and from the sounds of it not translated at all. “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.”
The message had just started to loop when the ensign stopped it, looking up from his seated position between the two officers he found himself between. “It just loops over and over Commander,” he said, a little unsure if he even should be speaking.
“You’re right Michaels, I did want to hear this. Petrov,” he said to the man at the helm, “bring us out of warp, will you? Don’t want to have to backpedal much if we don’t have to.” Then his attention turned back to the ensign. “Ensign James, yes?”
“Good catch. What can you tell me about this signal?” Mac asked, spotting Michaels smiling at his directing a question to the ensign and not her. Had she picked someone to mentor already? She was barely wearing a hollow pip herself.
“It’s radio sir, not subspace. Lightspeed communications. The signal is pretty weak, so I’m guessing the transmitter is pretty low-powered. We’re barely able to make it out actually from the background noise of the galaxy.” James looked like he was ready to justify his position, turning slightly towards his console, hands starting to move to bring up information to show why he said what he did.
“Get me a direction and source Ensign,” Mac said, causing James to pause for a moment. He knew vaguely what the young man was going to say as he turned back. “And Petrov, if the Ensign needs to move the ship to triangulate the origin, do it.” That stopped the Ensign, whose face went white actually as Mac then stepped away, heading for the back of the bridge and giving Michaels a head nod to follow.
“You had all those answers and you still threw him under the bus,” he said quietly to her as they rounded the arch and Mac led them into the operations area at the rear of the bridge, presently vacant, the consoles dark. “You trying to give the ensign a heart attack?”
“He’s now got experience talking to a senior officer and he’s one of the newbies, fresh out of the academy even. He needs to know the senior officers can be spoken to and will listen.” She had clasped her hands behind her back, trying to appear a bit more formal, if not for the grin on her face.
“Please don’t give ensigns assigned their first bridge shift a heart attack in future, will you?” He shook his head, then nodded his head at one of the consoles. “What do we know about this USS Aitu?” he asked, punctuated with a sip of his coffee.
It only took a few moments after she had sat down to bring up the records of the Aitu, kicking them over to the large monitor on the back wall for both of them to look over without crowding around a single station. “Captain Brandon Somers, commanding. Presumed lost with all hands stardate 5565 after an extensive search and rescue operation along her last known flight path. She was a Sombre-class cruiser, with no major technical or mechanical faults after her shakedown cruise. Lived a boring life mostly as a highspeed courier and troubleshooter.”
The multifunction system display disappeared, replaced with a series of screens arrayed across the wall. One contained a beauty shot of the USS Aitu, taken a year before her disappearance from the date on it, along with her specifications and a crew manifest. A series of small windows popped up, bios and pictures of the ship’s senior staff arrayed in a grid.
“What was she doing when she went missing?” he asked, eyes casting over the ship’s specifications. For a ship of her day she was fast, but light on the crew and those systems that made ships like the Constitution-class that much better in almost all regards. Reliable ships, but not able to get into or out of trouble as well as others of her era.
“She’s merely listed as carrying sensitive cargo from an SCE operation back to Rigel for examination.”
“That’s it?” he asked, turning on Michaels.
“That’s it. No origin point, just a destination and her cargo is listed as ‘sensitive’. Likely why it merited a Sombre-class in the first place.”
“Hmm,” he intoned, then turned to walk away from the large screen, pacing in the small space as he thought. “Right, as soon as Ensign James figures out the source of the signal, set course and proceed at warp seven. No need to go full speed for some old distress call. In the meantime, I’m going to go let Gabs know we’re not heading for TE-157.”
“Sorry, what was that?” Gabrielle Camargo asked a few minutes later as she looked up from the computer monitor on her desk. Mac’s triumphant entrance into the primary science lab was barely noticed, let alone by the person he’d just spoken to.
“I said we’re diverting away from TE-157,” he repeated himself. “We’ve picked up a distress call, so the survey will have to wait until we sort out whatever is going on.”
“Oh, okay,” Gabrielle responded, then looked back down at her monitor. “We can just survey whatever system we arrive at. Makes no difference to the team since the survey is just cover for those sensor buoys, yes?”
“The survey work is equally as important,” Mac replied, though his heart really wasn’t in it at the moment. The band of systems that Atlantis was surveying were from a distance unremarkable and from up close even more so. They’d found nothing in the last two weeks to merit a follow-up from a dedicated survey ship in the future that was more complex than coral-like compositions in a methane sea.
“But it’s still cover,” Gabrielle insisted. She turned away from her monitor and smiled up at him. “It’s work enough to give whatever Breen leader is watching us on long-range sensors the idea and concept that we’re actually doing boring survey work. Doesn’t mean my people aren’t doing their jobs, but frankly, we don’t care where until we see something interesting.”
“Hey, only three more platforms to deploy then we can sprint to Ultima Thule and do something truly interesting.” He shrugged, half turned to leave, then stopped. “Oh, just so you know, we’re answering a hundred-year-old distress call. Want in on the away team?”
“What’s the catch?” she asked.
“Scans show a crashed ship on a freezing cold world. Think Titan but larger. Bet some of the planetary sciences folks will want to look the world over, system too, to figure out how a terrestrial world got out past the snow-line and hasn’t been captured as a moon.”
She furrowed her brow at him, then slowly stood to walk around her desk and into the lab properly. “You’re right,” she said as she passed him. “They will be.” She stopped at a table and whispered into the ear of one of her fellow scientists who perked up, smiled and then offered a nod to Mac before standing and leaving the lab as Gabrielle rejoined him. “Put me down for the away team as well as W’a’le’ki and Wilbur-Northcote.”
“Sounds good. I’ll let you know the ETA as soon as I know it.” And with that he departed the science lab, only to run straight into the one woman on the ship he both wanted and didn’t want to see right now. “Commander Gantzmann, walk with me?” he asked and was joined by Adelinde as he headed for the nearest turbolift.
“You’re not going on the away mission,” she said flatly.
“And a good morning to you too Commander,” he countered. “But I’m the XO, so I set the away team assignments.”
“With the captain off the ship, you are the commanding officer and I’m your executive officer. As such I’m reminding you of regulations and insisting you remain aboard ship.” She’d clearly been readying herself for this he thought to himself, perhaps why she’d met him just outside the lab as she’d been on her way to see him in person.
“You want the mission,” he stated.
“Damn right,” she replied, with actual emotion in her voice, a slight bit of mirth. “I’ve also been dying to remind a superior officer that their duty is to stay aboard the ship.” The turbolift door opened as they neared and they both stepped in. “And in lieu of the captain, I get to remind you instead.”
He chuckled slightly at that as the doors closed. “Fine, fine, it’s your mission. Besides, by the time we get there, Ch’tkk’va will be ready to present their hazard team ideas to me and I’ll be stuck in a meeting.”
“They’re good ideas.” Adelinde smiled at that and gave a slight wink. “Though maybe take Fightmaster into the meeting with you? He’s been talking with the captain about this whole thing anyway so he’s likely got a good idea of where her mind is at.”
“See, here I was hoping she’d have taken him with her,” he said with an element of exasperation. “I have no idea what to do with a yeoman. I’ve always been on smaller ships where officers were expected to handle their own problems.”
“If you have no idea what to do with him work-wise, ask him. It’s his job. Maybe, just maybe you have no idea because he’s doing it all already.” And with that, the turbolift came to a brief halt on deck five, just long enough for Adelinde to step out. “I’m taking Lieutenant Pisani with the away team.” It wasn’t a request, but a flat statement of intent.
“Your away team,” he replied. “Just bring them all back in one piece.”