“Entering the sector now, Commander.” Prentice dropped them from warp, waiting for science and tactical to get a read on the situation in the system.
Kondo spoke up first, “Nothing of note on the tactical side of things. We’re getting some trace of a mining operation on the planet and in orbit around the moon.”
Fowler tapped furiously at her console, a frown growing, “The moon mining operation isn’t populated – sensors reporting mineral content of the moon is very low. However…,” she put the second set of scans on the viewscreen, “The planet has a rather significant mineral operation at work. Reading upwards of four hundred life signs in and around this location on the surface and a little below.”
Harris leaned forward, “No ships?” Kondo repeated his scan and shook his head. Ambrose wondered what that meant. He turned to Thasaz. “That’s a bit odd.”
Her eyes searched the screen as she read the details, “It’s not unusual. They didn’t know where we would come first – the operation would only have so many ships available to cover the varying operations. You can be assured they’ve signaled someone about our appearance.”
“Ensign Prentice, open hailing frequencies.” The sound of the open channel whistled across the bridge as Harris spoke, “This is Commander Harris of the Federation starship USS Edinburgh. We’re here on a scientific mission with the permission of your governments. Please advise.” He waited for a moment and looked at his chief helm officer.
The young officer shook his head, “They’ve received our hail; I can confirm that…but the channel remains open.” Harris motioned for him to mute the channel.
Thasaz stood and walked to stand behind Fowler, “Ensign, see if you can modulate the sensors to get a better picture of the interior of the moon.” Sadie turned and stared at her former chief for but a second before returning to her console and configuring the sensors. As she did so, the Romulan watched as the image clarified. “There it is.” Fowler’s hands were shaking as she tapped the information to show up on the screen.
Harris stood in shock. What the hell was he looking at? That couldn’t be….”That’s a moon…station?”
The Romulan captain returned to the chair on his right, “There was always talk of building things like this – I’m sure more of them exist than I’d be comfortable with in various places…but yes. You’re looking at a way to hide a small fleet…which is what that is.”
The CO turned to Kondo, “Do they know we know?”
De La Fontaine ran his hands across the console carefully, “They’re not moving…and the power signatures remain unchanged from both the planet and the moon.”
Prentice spoke up, “They are responding to our hail, Commander.”
Harris motioned to Thasaz to step into an alcove so as not to be seen and gave a nod to his helm officer, “Onscreen.”
A Reman stood in a command room, his eyes searching the bridge as the visual connection activated. He looked around to each officer and settled on Harris. “Your presence here is noted, Starfleet. We’ve received your scientific packet of information. It is…very broad in its explanations.”
Ambrose remained standing, “We’re looking to build a pretty robust study. This system and a few others represent our best chance to get the data we need.” He resisted the urge to shift his posture.
“I see. I am Shasa, the overseer of this colony. You are welcome to complete your study in our sector…and then leave for your next system.” He glanced off-screen and frowned before muting the channel. Harris motioned to Prentice to do the same.
He looked around the bridge, concern filling his face, “What do we know?”
Fowler spoke up from science, “They did a pretty good scan of us, sir – whatever mining equipment they have on the planet, those sensors are far more complex than they should be.” She tapped at her console, “There’s nothing to see…oh, that’s new.” Her hands ran faster across the console, and a map of the Edinburgh appeared, a blinking dot appearing as the image zoomed until it showed where it was located. “A signal is coming from sickbay!”
Harris tapped his badge, “Harris to Doctor Reid – report!”
There was a clatter of action as she responded, =^=Commander, we need security in sickbay…NOW!” Kondo was on his way out the door, hitting his own badge as Harris returned his attention to Reid.
“What’s going on, Reid?”
There were further sounds of a struggle until there wasn’t, and the voice of Chief Kondo could be heard in the background as Reid thanked him and took a few breaths before responding, =^=Major Tulak suddenly woke up and nearly escaped from sickbay…took out two orderlies before I managed to restrain him. Thankfully Chief Kondo arrived on time. The scanners are picking up a signal coming from the Major, Commander…what is going on?=^=
The CO allowed a frown to cross his face, “You’ll know when I know. Harris out.” He turned to Fowler, “What are they up to?”
She was watching her screens as if possessed and shook her head, “The moon station isn’t doing anything…but the planet’s defenses are warming up – several planet-based defense platforms are now being detected.”
Ambrose grumbled, “Prentice, give me the overseer. Unmute us.” Prentice tapped at the console, “Overseer Shasa, we’re detecting that you’re powering your planetary defense networks…what is the reason for this?” He tried gamely to maintain an even voice.
The Remen returned to the channel. “You have someone on your ship that is not welcome in this place, Starfleet. Someone who has caused us all great harm.”
Harris let out a small sigh, “He’s incidental to our scientific mission.”
Shasa frowned and let out a low growl, “You do not know you have, do you? Major Tulak is a wanted man, Starfleet. He is responsible for the near destruction of our organization.” Silence held on the bridge, and Thasaz stepped out, her face as a stone, staring into the eyes of the overseer, who visibly took a step back, “You. YOU!”
Thasaz growled, and Harris nearly stared at her as she spoke, “Shasa. Been a bit. I wasn’t sure you’d come back to Patra…and his group.”
The Reman spat at the ground, “This is too much. You are not here for science. You are here for something else far more nefarious than just scanning the system; I should destroy you where you stand.”
The CO chuckled and was amused at the confused look on Shasa’s face, “You would invite the full weight and fury of the Federation upon you, Overseer Shasa. What was Tulak to you?”
A look of genuine concern crossed over the alien’s face, “You do not know? Well, isn’t something.”
Harris cut to the chase, “What do you want.” It wasn’t a question.
The Reman licked his lips and considered, “A replicator system.”
“Done. Chief Kondo, get it done.” He turned back to Shasa, “Now, answer the question.”
“I’ll leave and start sending messages to whoever will listen about you…never mind if they’re true.”
Shasa stared at the commander, “You wouldn’t.”
It was Ambrose’s turn to growl, “I’m tired of chasing my tail, Overseer Shasa.”
A moment and the man relented. “He became the head of Patra’s group. Did a good job of it for about a month. Then…something happened. Some say he grew a conscience. All I know is that one day he was in charge, the next he was gone, and things have been chaotic since.”
The CO frowned, worried about the answer, “Who is in charge now?”
Shasa shrugged, “No one. The fracture started about two weeks ago. I’m a free agent at the moment…and we’re entertaining offers. Interested?” He laughed heartily at that, and Harris rolled his eyes.
“Replicator units are on their way. Good day to you, Overseer Shasa.” The channel closed and Ambrose turned to the bridge crew, “What the hell just happened?”
Thasaz leaned against a station, “There’s only one Vulcan who can answer that question, sir.”
The CO bit his bottom lip, “Thasaz, you’re with me. Fowler, you have the CONN.” They left for the turbolift as Sadie Fowler stood awkwardly and walked cautiously to the chair. It had become a very weird day.