Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 3 – Island of the Damned (IOTD)

IOTD 005 – What Do We Do Now?

USS Mackenzie
12.26.2400 @ 1330
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Harris returned to the bridge.  Starfleet Command had given them their orders and they’d held a senior staff meeting.  There were more questions than there were answers and he could sense the unease across the room as they’d talked through what lay ahead of them.  The sensor readings showed something had taken control of the Jhou and taken it to warp speed.  There had been no change in the signs of life onboard and it had rattled the usually unflappable Doctor Reid.  What had taken control of the transport?  And how?

He sat next to his Chief Science Officer, “Lieutenant, anything further?”

Fowler tapped at her console, “There is something.  We’ve been reviewing the readings from the probe.  Look here,” she pointed to the screen, “…this is the readings before we opened the storage door….and this is after.”  The graphs skyrocketed and the readings redlined the sensors.  She shook her head, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think we released something when we opened the storage door.”  She tapped another command, “I went back and looked at the video.  This stuck out to me.”  Zooming in on the door, she highlighted the scratches and appearance that something had been secured across the door.  Sadie turned to her CO, “I think the crew locked whatever it was back in there…but it was too late.”  She sat back in her chair, “Something else is curious – there is the exact same Dilithium in the reaction chamber.”

Ambrose leaned in to get a closer look at the readings, “So…what…putting the Green Dilithium in the reactor released…a part of this thing?  When the chamber shut down…”

She shrugged at the implication, “Without the rest of the supply, the presence or whatever it is dissipated…or something?  I’m not confident in any of these theories, sir.  Whatever happened on the Jhou is forcing us to rethink a lot of what we know.”

Harris shifted the topic, “How far did we trace the Jhou’s path?

A tap of the console, “In a straight line…headed for the far corner of Palasa territory and the operations center they say they lost contact with.”  She worked her console one more time, “There is something else.  I had Ensign Atega help me with looking at the readings from the dilithium.  There’s something buried in the readings – it almost feels like…it’s communicating.”  She explained, “With the other dilithium, we had to use something else to open up communication.  Here, I think it’s trying to communicate with us…or something like that.  We’ve just gotten started.”

Ambrose pointed at the screen, “Put that at the top of the list, Lieutenant Fowler.  We’re going to need everything we get to make heads or tails of this.”

 

Several hours had passed and Harris stepped out of his ready room.  His communications chief had reported that the Palasa Transport Group had hailed them.  He sat gently in his chair and gave her the nod.  The screen filled with a scowling Cardassian, his mouth twitching in annoyance.  =^=Captain Harris, I understand you were here to help us, not let our ship get lost once more.=^=

Ambrose resisted the urge to shout at the man.  “I am Captain Harris, Federation starship Mackenzie.  I’d like to know who I’m addressing.”

=^=Governor Kwell.  I’m one of the senior commanders in the Palasa Group.  I’ll ask again – what happened to our ship and why isn’t it in your custody?=^=

Harris wished he knew what had happened.  He led with that, “Governor Kwell your ship was in the process of being inspected by our crew when something in engineering had an effect on them.”  He explained and sent the data, video, and reports they had collected so far.  He returned with a question of his own, “The Dilithium is unlike anything we’ve seen.  One of your captains alluded to a Vulcan holy site being disturbed.  The mission briefing from your group was very limited on details, Governor.”

The Cardassian was silent, and Harris wondered if he should be relieved or worried.  A moment passed as Kwell tapped at his console.  A beep sounded and his eyes focused on one of his screens.  He sighed and tapped at his console once more, =^=I have been given permission to share with you the original briefing before it was…censored.=^=  Harris glanced at Atega and she nodded as her console lit up in receiving the data.  Kwell continued, =^=One month ago one of our explorer class ships was searching beyond our space.  They were looking for new resources and areas for us to use in our expanding operations.=^=  He seemed to hesitate with the next part of his report before pushing forward, =^=They discovered a…temple of some kind.  We do not have interest in study as you do, so they began to loot the facility.  It was in remarkable shape.=^=

Ambrose chimed in, “I’m guessing that’s when the trouble started?”

Kwell grumbled, =^=Something happened to them.  They came under some kind of attack.  Half the crew was left behind while the other half fled to one of our operations centers.  The reports at first were pretty ordinary.  They were scheduled to meet up with two of our larger patrol ships but we lost contact with the operation center and the ship itself.  We dispatched the patrol ships to investigate and they found nothing but the ruins of a destroyed station…and no sign of the ship.  We did a long-range scan of the planet where it all started…and we were unable to make sense of it.  There have been other events with ships and others passing through this sector.  We are at a loss, hard as it is for us to admit to such a thing.=^=  He threw his hands up in frustration, =^=And that is why you are here.=^=

Harris raised an additional point, “Have the Cardassians gotten involved yet?”

A shrug, =^=They keep to themselves.  They have recalled most of their outpost and colonies, oddly enough.  Even their patrol ships keep tightly to their borders these days.  We thought it was because we’d become a threat to them.  I am not as sure as some of the rest of us seem to be.=^=

Ambrose sat back in his chair, wondering.  There was still much to be understood about this situation.  It appeared they were going to have to do it.  “Thank you, Governor Kwell.  We’ll get to work on the data you’ve sent us and start working deeper into the territory.” The Cardassian gave him a curt nod and cut the channel.  Harris turned to his crew, “Fowler – you get with Atega and Doctor Reid on that data.  Mr. Prentice…plot us a course to our old friend on Dozaria Prime.  I think it’s time we checked in with Gul Hasara.  Best possible speed.  Send a message ahead that we’re on our way.”