Carolyn had jumped when Commander Sorek had reached out to her and asked her along on the away mission. Quite literally jumped. She wasn’t a day on the ship, and already, she was getting pulled into the middle of the action. Between her Interim Chief thinking she could be an assistant chief and now the XO deciding she was ready for an away team onto a moon base that had the entire crew taking deep calming breaths the closer they got – she was finding herself moving faster than she ever had on the Zebulon Pike.
She equipped herself with two engineering kits, a sidearm, and a utility belt that held damn near everything she could get her hands on. The door to the shuttle bay opened, revealing not the Vulcan she was expecting. “Lieutenant Walker-Halsey,” she greeted the woman, knowing full well she was married to the CO. She hadn’t had time to find out what the rest of the crew thought of her, and the only thing they had told her was that she wasn’t your regular Vulcan.
“Ensign Crawford. You…look very prepared.” For her part, the interim Chief Science Officer carried two science kits and was armed with a phaser. She, however, did not have a utility belt.
Carolyn smiled meekly, “I…uh…I have a thing with being prepared.”
Theodora gave her an amused look, “It wasn’t a criticism, Mr. Crawford. Merely an observation.”
The engineer moved to speak, but the door opened once more, revealing the Vulcan she had been expecting.
Entering the shuttle bay, Sorek went directly to the ground crew, prepping the shuttle he and the team would be taking to Charon base. After a short update from them and satisfied things were moving forward, he joined the two additions to the group. “Lieutenant. Ensign.”
Dougal entered shortly after Sorek with a phaser rifle over his shoulder and a phaser pistol on his hip. Nodding to Carolyn, “Nice to see you, lass.”
Crawford gave a quiet nod with a smile. She was thankful the MacDonalds were on the Mercy. It made her feel less of an outsider and more of, well, someone who mattered. It was her first real day, and she wanted to get off on the right foot or even feet as possible. “It’s good to see you as well. A small world Starfleet has become.”
O’Shea stepped through after Dougal and looked over each of the officers that would be on the away mission, ‘Hopefully the lack of telepaths with making this a bit easier…’ he thought thinking back to what happened to Neva and the crewman in the mess hall. He adjusted the phase compression rifle on his shoulder and double-checked his utility belt for the tricorder, phaser and couple of cylindrical objects in case things got unpleasant. If whatever it was that attacked Lieutenant Cordon was on the moon he intended to make sure he had the tools required.
The door opened one last time and Sesias stepped through.
Sesias entered the shuttle bay, making final adjustments to the utility harness that he wore, “Been awhile since I last wore this, my last security Chief designed it for me when he saw the difficulties I had during away missions with just the standard belt.“ The belt was designed to carry multiple items within easy reach of each of Sesias’ three arms; currently, it was configured with two phaser pistols, two tricorders, a unique holster designed for his PADD, along with several more pouches.
“Commander, Lieutenants, Ensign. Please let me remind you the less we have linked to the Mercy, the better. Commander, we came up with this as a possible first line of system defense. we didn’t have a chance to test it, but it should work.“ Sesias nodded towards the briefcase-looking item that he carried in one hand. “It’s a modified scrambler of sorts; on its own, it should be enough to scramble any signal coming from Charon. Ideally, when the engineers come over, they would plug it into the base systems directly, giving us hopefully,” Sesias blinked several times as he said this, “ some extra time for the anti-hacker team to figure out who or what is behind the attempts.”
“Good work, Mister Sesias, to you and your team,” said Sorek.
Sesias nodded towards Crawford.
Crawford glanced at the commander, “I was going to volunteer for helm duty sir.”
“By all means. The ground crew have the keys.” Sorek learned a long time ago that humor could be used to help diffuse a stressful situation. “Remember, everyone, several of our people suffered telepathic attacks. This is a hostile situation, so use extreme caution and watch each others’ backs.”
The interim Chief Science Officer looked to the rest of them, “Well, we’ve got our assignments. Let’s get to getting with it.”
O’Shea leaned back into his seat on the shuttlecraft and smiled slightly; though his nerves were up, there was always something exciting about stepping foot into the unknown. “If I may add?” he said, looking over to the XO before continuing. “I would like to stress that we have an unknown hostile entity here, or well, we suspect it to be here. Let us play this by the books and with no unnecessary risks.”
“Indeed,” said Sorek. “We still don’t know what happened to the crew of the Colorado, so stay alert.”
Dougal leaned in with a mischievous grin and spoke softly to O’Shea, “So no wee Highland charges naked as a bairn?”
O’Shea couldn’t help but let out a chuckle at that. “Only if they are against the English. Though don’t think we will find them waiting here.”
“No,” Dougal smirked, “Probably not, but ye never can tell with the Sasanachs. The wee bastards are insidious.”
O’Shea’s chuckle this time turned into a deep laugh, “You could say that again, Dougal. Though in case we do need to make one of those charges, this might help.” He unclipped one of the cylindrical objects from his belt and handed it over with a wink. “Just in case.”
“Aye, lad that will do,” Dougal nodded.
Crawford slid into the pilot seat and secured herself with care while powering up the console and the stations. The systems checks come back all clear, and she took a moment to verify the intercept course for the moon base. She glanced back. All the crew was secured and belted. She tapped the console, “Shuttle control, this is Shuttle McCoy departing.” The launch crew cleared them, and Carolyn smoothly pushed them forward and out of the shuttle bay and towards the moon and its eventual base,
She accelerated to full impulse and glanced over to Walker-Halsey in the right seat, “Anything on sensors?”
Theodora wasn’t frowning, but she wasn’t not frowning. “The signal is increasing in strength.” She tapped at the console, “The readings from the base are…hard to explain. I believe much of what the computer reporting isn’t…actually the case.” She sent a report to Sorek’s PADD. “You see? It’s wildly inconsistent…almost a perfect picture of stability on a station that’s two hundred years old.”
Sorek read the scan results. The mystery was getting… well, more mysterious. “Continue scanning. We need all the information we can get.”
Crawford continued to pilot the shuttle towards the moon; the readings and the sensors continue to grow more mysterious. Their path to the moon’s surface was surprisingly easy, and she soon found a shuttle bay, the doors strangely open and lights aglow.
“Commander, more and more, I’m getting that sense that this…is a trap of some kind.”
‘Of course it’s a trap, Ensign. We were invited,” said Sorek.
Carolyn sighed, “No real choice then. Onwards.” Theodora kept a keen eye on the sensors as the shuttle aimed down and into the shuttle bay. Slowly Crawford edged them inside the bay and set the shuttle down. The door to the bay grumbled shut slowly until it finally clanged closed, the sound echoing off the walls of the shuttle bay.
Walker tapped at the console, “Life support is reading within acceptable ranges. Scans of the base layout confirm 10 decks, all below ground. Engineering seems to be in the center of the moon at decks 8, 9, and 10, where the power readings are highest. Command and control center looks to be deck 5, sickbay deck 6, quarters, mess hall, recreation deck – all decks 2,3, and 4.” She shook her head, “As soon as we passed inside the shuttle bay and the door shut… all the interference to our sensors…was gone.”
Crawford frowned, “Are we seeing the truth?”
The Interim Science Chief gave a slight nod, “It checks out with what records we have of this station design period.” She looked to the XO, “The environment outside looks clear, sir.”
“All right, everyone. Let’s be careful out there,” said Sorek.
Crawford tapped at the console, and the rear door slid open, and the crew exited.
The station was as if frozen in time. An archaic design in 2400, it was the best and brightest in its original days. It seems a museum tribute to the days of the NX-Enterprise with its antique corridors and subdued lighting. Consoles are toggles or buttons, and the computer matrix isn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination. The bland corridors and rooms are utilitarian by necessity – a station like this wasn’t meant for entertaining or diplomacy…it was meant for experiments and science. The power flickers every so often as the lights above exhibit the instability of whatever is powering the station. 200 years is a long time for a station that wasn’t meant to last beyond 100.
There is a voice over the overhead speakers.
“YOU HAVE COME”
Sorek looked around the bay, but he didn’t see anyone. “It seems our host knows we’re here.”
It is a deep bass voice that attempts at being human…but something is missing. It is something artificial. Crawford swore, and Walker-Halsey raised an eyebrow, the voice raising the hair on the back of her neck,
“Bloody hell!” Dougal exclaimed, nearly jumping out of his one skin. He spun around, phaser ready and free hand on the hilt of his dirk. He was looking for a threat but saw none.
Upon having heard the voice, Sesias pulled out one of the tricorders. “We had an inkling we may be dealing with artificial intelligence of some sort. Guess I owe LT. Neva, that drink.” he walked over towards what looked like a console, an old one but one nonetheless.
“Commander, according to my scans, this console looks to have a link to flight control and communications. I’m going to lock down and activate the scrambler here. If we are dealing with artificial intelligence, than.” Looked over at the rest of the away team. “Take you our pick computer core, command center, or main engineering would all be good possible locations to start looking.”
“We’ll start with the command center, the decide from there,” said Sorek.
Crawford approached the console. It was rudimentary at best and would require significant work to get it to work with their current technology, “Mr. Sesias….”
Suddenly there is the high pitch whining of transporters. Halsey-Walker tapped her comm badge, but she was too late. Suddenly the shuttle bay was empty; the away team was gone. A quiet sigh was heard over the speakers.
“IT HAS BEGUN”