Halsey sat in the command chair, his eyes on the arm consoles as the USS Mercy thundered through space. They had been working on solutions to when they would arrive at the point where everything was pointing them to – yet the solutions were based on the limited exposure and experience they had with the USS Colorado. There was only so much known and so much more to be known as they were hurling through the black, seeking answers that created more questions.
The Helm Officer spoke up, breaking his thoughts, “Ten minutes to intercept, Captain.”
Unable to simply sit, Leopold stood, “Yellow alert, all stations.” Ensign Fleming tapped at his console, and the bridge lights faded into a soft yellow tone as the klaxon for the condition sounded throughout the ship. The shields automatically activated. He walked to the front of the bridge, standing near the helm station, watching the screen. He turned his attention to his operations and tactical officer, Sesias. “Lieutenant, maintain power to shields but do not power any of our weapons systems. Whatever is out there, we’re going to have to carefully mind how we walk and talk.”
”Yes, sir, shields are up and at 100% functionality, and all weapons are currently at zero power.“ He looked back at the main view screen and looked at the moon in front of them. “From an operations standpoint, I would suggest shuttles only, no transporters except in an emergency.”
Halsey considered his suggestion, “We’ll take it under consideration, Lieutenant. A good suggestion.” Once they’d finished, he turned to his chief of security, “Mr. O’Shea, I suspect you will be among the party going over to investigate. I would make your teams ready with defined orders on who does what while you’re gone.” He returned his stare to the screen ahead, “What a weird little mystery.”
O’Shea stood there for a moment before answering. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending anyone if I wasn’t on the ground myself. Given what happened on the Colorado me, I would recommend that Izriaa remain behind though Dougal should join. To fill her space, we could take Chief Pach with us. He has experience boarding stations and ain’t as green as the other security team. Given what we encountered, I don’t want to throw inexperienced crew in.”
Halsey replied, “A recommendation I will make to the XO when we get closer.”
“With your permission, sir, I would like to go prep the security team before we arrive. I assume we will be boots on the ground pretty quickly once we arrive.” O’Shea asked.
Leopold gave the man a brief nod, “Make your preparations as you see fit, Lieutenant.”
Fleming spoke up, “Approaching intercept point…dropping from warp speed to one-quarter impulse.” The Mercy’s view screen showed the stars twinkling and a stark moon in the distance.
Halsey turned to his interim Chief Science Officer, “What do we see?”
Theodora Walker-Halsey was looking as he spoke, and the screens showed plenty of information. Understanding it was quite another, “The signal is strongest at the point of the moon and is being broadcast from there as well.” She tapped a few places on her console, the screens shifting with the data, “Beyond that, we’re getting similar interference that we had with the USS Colorado – almost identical wavelengths, sir.” She continued to work.
Halsey chewed on his bottom lip, “Lieutenant Sesias, anything from the communications side of things?”
“We are not broadcasting anything at this moment, and the only thing we are receiving is the same signal that we followed to get here. I’m not reading any other signals or broadcasts coming from the station. “ Sesias looked up at the captain. “Sir, as we have discussed, we have to watch what we broadcast and what is received. Anything that can be traced back to us could be an avenue for someone or something to attempt another invasion into our systems.“
“A fair warning. Lieutenant Walker, keep an eye and ear out.” Another moment of silence as the CO stared down the Moon ahead and grumbled, “I need a better word than weird.” He tapped his communications badge, “Halsey to XO, please report to the bridge.” Sorek had been working with the various departments over the last few hours to come up with solutions to the wide array of problems they were facing. Halsey was keeping the distance from the moon and its probable base intentionally. Time was both a blessing and an enemy.
Sorek stepped onto the bridge and joined Halsey at the science station.
Halsey motioned him over to the science station where his wife sat, still working with the sensors. She turned in her chair and gave a look to the XO, “You can see, Commander – it is complex and simple at the same time. Similar readings to the Colorado, but the layers of the data that are coming from our sensors… suggest a significant depth to whatever it is. As much as caution is warranted, the logical and rational solution of boarding the base will eventually have to occur.”
“I agree,” said Sorek. “Initially, we should send a small team. That could be perceived as less of a threat.”
The CO kept an eye on the screen, “I would agree with that suggestion, Commander. Who would you like to take with you?”
Sorek had already been thinking about an away team. “Sesias If his computer expertise is needed, plus O’Shea and Dougal MacDonald for security. After we make an assessment and ensure it’s safe, we can send an additional team with engineering and science.”
Sesias turned to face the XO and captain. “Sirs, we need to think about another possible issue. Telepaths and empaths? Also, if we go initially in EVA suits, I would recommend no connections back to the Mercy and her systems. Till we know who or what tried to hack into the Mercy, we can not have any connections that lead back here. This would mean that we would be going in blind and deaf, and the Mercy would have no way of knowing what is going on over there.”
Leopold gestured to Sorek, “Commander Sorek is aware and has been working with engineering and medical. We already had an incident earlier this morning. As for the second”, he turned to Sorek, “I’ll leave that up to your discretion, Commander.”
“I defer to Mister Sesias’s expertise. We don’t want what happened to the Colorado to happen to us,” said Sorek.
Halsey looked back at the screen for a moment, considering the growing weight of risks that were piling on the scales of decisions they would all need to make as they went into this situation. They could simply leave the base alone, call in a specialist team, and wait until they arrived. But there was the element of the unknown – that if time until the next move from the unknown was closer than they thought, a misstep here or there could endanger more than just them or the system. He turned his attention back to the two, “I agree, Commander. Trouble is I don’t know how much time we have before the next thing happens – let’s proceed with a plan to send your away team to the base with a plan from Lieutenant Sesias for the rest.”