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Part of USS Edinburgh: Mission 3 – Take These Broken Wings

Finding the Lost

USS Edinburgh, Bridge
August 8th, 2400 @ 1600
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“That’s where it ends, Commander,”  Sadie Fowler gestured to the screens in front of her as she recounted what she had found.

Harris sat at the station next to her, eyes reading through the report several times.  ‘There’s nothing in this system.  Just a moon, an asteroid belt, and a dying sun.  The trail just…ends.  I’m an engineer, not a scientist, but even I know there are always traces of something left behind.”

The Chief Science Officer agreed as she ran the scans again, “It’s unusual.  If we had seen fading in and out, there might have been a possibility that the ship cut its engines and found another way to travel, but the results are consistent – no deviation or artificial deviation was detected.  Whatever came this way got here..and just…vanished.”

Harris shook his head, “Cardassians don’t have cloaking technology, and neither do our pirates.  If they did, we’d have been dead or damaged long ago.  Helm, bring us closer into the sector.  Ensign Fowler, pull your team back together – wherever they went, they’ll have left something for us to see and follow.”

Sadie nodded as she swallowed hard.  She had her orders.

The science team was hard at work at the stations as their chief walked from station to station, PADD in hand.  They had been at work for two hours now, trying to find any kind of link, connection, or trace of whoever had come through the sector.  With the help of Ensign Prentice, they had hopped, skipped, and jumped from place to place using the sensors to define, detail, and discover – but nothing concrete had come through the scans and reports.

Sadie felt her blood pressure rising as she went from one station in The Tower section of the bridge.  They had run scans, amplified more, and dug into the various parts of the sector several times over.  They were starting from scratch for the fourth time.

“Ensign?  I have an idea.”  The voice belonged to Portia Linwood, a fellow ensign.  Fowler gave her a nod, and she tapped at her console, “We’ve scanned this moon three times.”  She displayed the results that had been the same each time. “The results are pretty clear – there’s nothing there…but I’ve been thinking – what if that was the intent.  What if…everybody looks at the moon and makes the same conclusion…and passes it by.”

Fowler nodded along as she began to understand, “The moon is hiding something.”  She stepped onto the main bridge and looked to Prentice at the helm, “Can we get as close to the moon as possible?”  He tapped at his console and gave her a thumbs up.  The Edinburgh moved closer, the moon on the viewscreen growing to a point where it nearly filled it.  Sadie returned to her crew as they began to retask the sensors.  

Then Linwood chuckled, “There it is.  A small deviation.”  She pointed to the screen, and Fowler let out a slow sigh.  the science officer suggested to her chief, “I think we throw a probe at it.”

Within moments Harris had returned to the bridge, and the probe operation was arranged.  The Captain stepped into his role from the ready room, and they watched…and waited as the probe flew through space and impacted against the moon with a bright flare.  Fowler checked her readings and then gave a shout, “Scanners are picking up an interior structure…and lots of life signs!”

Captain Fontana stood from the command chair, “Security – full strength team with a medical escort.”  Kondo was out the door and on his way.  A moment later, Prentice confirmed the away teams had transported over to a less populated part of the base.  The bridge crew held their breath until the helm officer said the team was hailing, “Open the channel, ” ordered the CO.

=^=Captain, we’ve found the colonists.  They’re mostly good – a few injuries, but our medical team is working on them.  They were dumped here by the people who took the Gul.  They were told they would never see light again after they had consorted with us.=^=

Geronimo stepped forward, “Do they know where they took their Gul?”

=^=Negative, sir.  They did identify them as our growing pirate band.  They seem more worried about what the Gul was going to do to his captors, if I’m being honest.=^=

The CO glanced at his XO, mild amusement present on his face, “They seem to share your evaluation of the man.”

Harris wasn’t sure he agreed with the captain or the colonists, “He’s a very capable Cardassian officer, sir, but up against these pirates…I’m not sure where I’d hedge my bets.”

Fontana spoke up to the away team, “Let’s get them sorted out and treated.  We’ll start….”

Prentice nearly shouted, “Contact coming into sector…awfully fast.  It’s not Cardassian or Federation.  Reading full weapons power and shields….”

The CO didn’t sit in caution this time, “Red Alert – all hands to battle stations.”  The klaxons rang out as the lights on the bridge and across the Edinburgh faded into a dull ruby as screens across the command center flashed with the red alert signal.  Crew shifted off, around, and into the bridge as the chief helm officer called out a countdown on the arrival of the target.  Ten seconds, he was warning.  Fontana resisted the urge to return to his chair and was rewarded by his first officer taking up a stance at his side.

Harris mused, “Could by anybody.  We’ve job done a good job of upsetting a few people around here.”

Five seconds, Prentice intoned.  Fontana smiled thinly, “Maybe it’s time someone upset us.”  Harris gave him a curious look as the arriving ship dropped out of warp.  It was a larger transport ship, Prentice confirmed.  And it was armed, shielded, and scanning wildly in the sector.  “Hail them.  Tactical, pick something to target while we talk.”  Harris gave his captain a look of approval.  The man was a doctor, but he was starting to figure out how to handle things from the center chair.

Prentice held one finger on the evasive commands while his other hand opened the channel.  A pause. A  crack.  A fizzle.

The entire bridge held its breath.

Gul Hasara stared back at them as the screen cleared.  Harris let out the breath he was holding, a short laugh rippling from his lips as stepped back in relief.  Fontana was struck for but a moment but recovered, “Gul Hasara, I presume?”

The Cardassian had looked batter.  A smattering of blood splattered across his face.  Looking closer at the bridge beyond, there were bodies, some still moving.  Heavy smoke filtered around him, and he let out a bitter sigh, =^=You are a welcome sight, Captain.  I was concerned they had sent someone to kill my people.=^=

Harris returned to face the screen, his shock and awe subsiding, “How did you…?”

Hasara stared at Harris, and it looked as if he might not answer.  He pursed his lips, finding the right words, =^=They underestimated me, Commander…at their peril.=^=  He turned as one of the bodies was struggling to stand, and he blasted the wounded human once and then a second time, waiting to see if the body dared twitch again.  It did not.  =^=I have a long history they did not account for in their…attempts to turn me…or whatever it was they thought they were going to get out of me.=^=

Ambrose gave the man a mild bow, “You continue to intrigue us, Gul.”

Hasara let a mild smile creep across his lips before returning to his straightened face, =^=I suppose you’ve alerted whoever came looking for us from Cardassia?=^=

Fontana nodded, “Gul Tikbe Onot…and yes, she was alerted when we arrived.  She should be here soon.  I presume with a fleet.”

The Cardassian Gul actually chuckled, =^=Well, this will be a reunion for the ages.  We are not…friends.  But as you humans will say, ‘Needs must’.  We will be keeping this ship, Captain…and interrogating her crew=^=

The CO didn’t disagree, “It’s your backyard, Gul.  You captured her; you rescued yourself…I think you get the fair claim on the results and the rest.”

Hasara paused for a moment and regarded the crew of the Edinburgh, =^=You have been something of an anomaly in my experiences with the Federation and Starfleet, Edinburgh.  I will remember this.  Hasara out.”=^=

The channel closed, and Prentice turned to his CO and XO.  Fontana let out a small sigh, “I think we’ll stick around until at least Onot gets here.  We’ve all got some heavy reports to write for Starfleet.”