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Part of USS Venture: Episode 1: On the Frontier’s Edge and USS Venture: Season 1: Into the Frontier

One to cross off the bucket list…

Various
Stardate 24008.5, 2130 Hours
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With Scarborough far in the distance, Venture had begun her cautious approach to the Gorn border once again, and the composition of the people on the bridge looked far different to before. It would take time for the group to gel, but Thaddeus didn’t have the luxury of time; the missing Gorn signal had appeared once again, this time in a different location approximately three light-years from its last sighting, and seemingly deeper into Starfleet territory. Commander Dahl had been tasked with bringing the new personnel up to speed on matters, allowing the Captain to focus on the situation and its developments. There was still the slim possibility that the signal was just some sort of ghost, but the longer it remained in place, the less likely that scenario became. Most likely in his head, the Gorn ship was in trouble and in need of help, but he couldn’t rule out the troubling possibility that their move was an aggressive one. Could this be the prelude to a new offensive of some kind? Only by arriving at the signal’s location and investigating further could this be determined.

“Helm?”

Although this was her first assignment as a department head, Tempestava was thriving off of the increased responsibility that had been thrust upon her. Part of that included the fact that she seemed in tune with her new commanding officer already. Tapping at the tactile LCARS display in front of her, the Aenar pulled up the information the Terran wanted.

“We’ll be entering visual range in five minutes, Captain. Estimated time of arrival is twenty-five,” she informed the bridge crew.

“Lieutenant Shepard?” the spotted XO called out from beside the Captain, “anything further from sensors?”

The Gorn. Mara’s only contact with the species had been through second or third-hand stories and a mandatory course on alien relations at Starfleet Academy. Starfleet’s description of the Gorn was straightforward enough – reptilian, intelligent, bipedal, cold-blooded, territorial, and highly aggressive. Personal descriptive accounts varied for some unknown reason, but all confirmed they were not to be underestimated. And while adult Gorn were terrifying on their own, stories of their young and incubation of said young were the stuff of nightmares.

“Aye, uhm gettin’  –  I’m receiving a reading of electromagnetic radiation. It’s steady, every two and a half seconds, likely a pulsar from a neutron star.” While the find had nothing to do with their mission, neutron stars were exceptionally rare. Typically the size of an average metropolis with a mass of 10 to 25 solar masses, a neutron star was the densest object in the known universe outside of a black hole. “The radiation is likely affecting sensors, and why we haven’t picked up any other signals. In the meantime, the anomaly warrants a flyby at the least, y’know, after the mission and if we don’t get eaten or anything.” The Lieutenant gazed at the faces on the bridge. “What? Everyone’s thinkin’ it. I thought I’d cut the tension.”

Thaddeus shared a subtle smirk with his XO before turning ever so slightly in his chair to face the science officer. “Maybe keep those theories to oneself, Lieutenant? There haven’t been any records of such events for quite some time, and there are a number of Gorn who have successfully made a life for themselves elsewhere, including in Starfleet,” the Captain reminded everyone, despite being worried himself. “We will, however, proceed with greater caution. Commander Dahl, make a note to Starfleet that the neutron star in this sector deserves further analysis, and we’ll do so upon the completion of our mission, should they choose not to send someone else in the meantime,” the Terran from North America added.

Glancing across at the XO, Mara then looked at the Captain and nodded. “As you wish, Captain.”

Nodding, the Captain moved on. “Commander Usmanov,” he called to the woman behind them at the tactical Arch, “take us to yellow alert.”

“Yes Captain,” the Russian at tactical responded in her thick accent, tapping away at the controls to adjust the alert status of the ship.

In the Medbay, Lahki heard the yellow alert. Great. She sighed but stood up. “All hands!! All hands! Yellow alert!” For them, that meant getting a triage station set up, and putting all current patients-there weren’t any-into shields for safety. She hauled ass to the clinic area, and tapped her comms. “Medbay is on standby.” 

Engineering was slowly taking shape.  Lieutenant Edwards had taken the status report the captain had given him and quickly assigned teams to address what they could in the short term.  His assistant chief had been responsive to his actions, but he hadn’t had the chance to sit down with her and discuss anything aside from what was immediately ahead of them.  Suddenly the soft klaxon for yellow alert sounded throughout main engineering, giving Ebenezer pause.  Engineers were the people that kept the ship going.  A yellow alert was just a step away from Red Alert.  There was little time for deliberation.  He had hastily put together damage control teams with Lieutenant Junior Grade Meniz as the point of contact.  They would be dispatched across the ship to address any repairs needed.  He’d then worked through the roster to put together groups and teams in main engineering who were in charge of ensuring the working operations of the room.  He tapped his communication badge as the lights in the room shifted to a dull yellow, “Chief Edwards to all engineering teams.  Damage control to your muster stations.  Engineering teams report to your stations.  Be ready.”  He turned his attention back to the console in front of him.  The Venture was proving to be an interesting and surprising assignment.

Rocking from side to side ever so slightly in his chair, the Captain watched as the status reports filed in, confirming that everyone was ready should anything of concern develop. It was time to find out.

“Entering visual range Captain,” the Aenar at the CONN called out from her position, antennae bobbing freely atop her silver locks.

Inching forward, Thaddeus was on tenterhooks as he perched on the edge of his seat, hands grasping the arms of his chair. This was it; the moment of truth. “On screen,” he ordered.

Within a matter of seconds, the holographic view screen at the front of the bridge powered up and replaced the bulkhead wall with an image of space…

…and a Gorn vessel that had, apparently, suffered some significant damage.

“Red alert,” Commander Dahl ordered, turning in his chair to almost scowl at Usmanov for not preempting his order upon the sight of the Gorn vessel.

If the XO was annoyed with the tactical officer, it was nothing compared to how she was feeling herself. Her biggest critic, the Russian tapped furiously and dimmed the lights across the ship, replacing them with the trademark red of the highest alert status.

“Lieutenant Shepard,” Thaddeus called, turning his chair just a fraction to look towards the scientist, “can you get a detailed report on the ship?”

“Aye, sir,” Mara called out in her Irish brogue. “Readings are coming in now—The warp core is dead, and I’m getting readings of significant radiation damage and a plasma leak from engineering.” On the view screen, the plasma leak originating from engineering was visible. “Impulse is out. Power is out on all decks. She appears to be operating on battery only.”

Shepard, ready at the console under yellow alert, spun toward Captain Scott. As requested, she kept her thoughts to herself, but the Gorn ship was “Inna fecking shite n shot ta hell.”

“No life signs detected at all, sir.”

Thaddeus turned in his seat slowly and leaned in towards the XO, his voice lowered to a whisper. “Number One?”

Subconsciously mirroring the movements of his commanding officer, Aamin leant in towards the center chair and lowered his own voice. “I think an armed away team is mandated at this point,” the Commander suggested, his gaze resting entirely on the view screen. “Fully armed. We don’t want to take any risks. But something happened over there, and we need to ascertain what it was, and if there is a possible threat emerging in this area,” the Trill advised.

Nodding along the Captain let out a smile at the conclusion of the Trill’s words. His suggestion was exactly what Scott had been thinking, and that was always pleasing. Knowing one’s XO was on the same wavelength mattered; it made decision-making far easier.

Rising to his feet and tapping his commbadge, Aamin made for the turbo lift. “Engineering, medical and security teams to transporter room one,” he instructed.

“Usmanov, Shepard; join the XO on the away team,” the Captain ordered.

After tapping her controls and dispatching instructions to her security teams, the Tactical Officer handed off control to her Vulcan subordinate and silently, stealthily, moved into position behind the XO in the turbo lift.

“Aye, Sir! Un me weh!” Mara quickly left her station with Ensign Brooks replacing her on the science board. She moved with the XO Dahl and Tac Ops Usmanov to the turbolift. In the lift, Shepard remained silent and calm, but her thoughts were buzzing. ‘Whet the fecking hell could’a dun this to the Gorn? Do I even want ta know? She maintained her silence until the lift reached its destination.

Back in the MedBay, the CMO had brought the EMH online, just in case, and was preparing as many triage beds as she could. She and the nurse worked in quiet tandem, one behind the other, and then she turned to the Nurse. “Ensign Sy’var. I’ll go with the team. Use the EMH to fill in if you need to. I am on Comms, but I can’t ask you to risk your life just yet.” The young Vulcan had plenty of time for danger. The Betazed doctor was seasoned, and if something happened, she was fine with her life ending here and now if it came to that. Plus, her name was Lahki-sounding like “lucky”, and that was a good sign, right?!  Quickly, she grabbed a tricorder and a kit, and hauled herself to the Transporter room. On the way out, she’d tapped a couple of nurses and medics to join her. They’d need it.

She’d arrived at the same time as Engineering, and without a word, stepped quietly into the room, ready to go.  “Dr Bakshi, reporting,” was her only statement. Her face was unreadable but she forced her mind to send out calming waves and she heard the deep sighs around. She wasn’t sure if anyone knew she was Betazoid, and while she didn’t HIDE the fact that she could manipulate emotions, in cases like this? It helped. 

Ebenenzer stepped nervoulsy into the room.  When the red alert had been called, he’d given his crew the mandate that came with the alert level – damage control teams were expanded and the engine room crew was supplemented with some off-duty personnel.  The reality of what was about to happen was becoming clearer and clearer as the seconds ticked past.  There was a Gorn ship out there and they knew enough to be dangerous…but were they safe?  Danger followed the Gorn and even injured they could do a proper job of causing grievous injury.  He wanted to live, especially after getting command of a Sovereign-class engineering room.  He gave a glance to the CMO.  They were all in this together.

Entering into the transporter room at last, the officers from the bridge were the last to arrive. A number of medical, engineering, and security personnel were already present, each member armed with hand phasers, and the latest compression phaser rifles for the security team. “Okay people, listen up,” Dahl called, drawing the attention of all present. “Four teams. Myself, Usmanov, Edwards, and Shepard will each lead a team. Medical, security, and engineering teams will divide equally between the four. My team, we’ll head to the Gorn bridge. Edwards to engineering. Usmanov and Shepard, you’ll take your teams on a deck-by-deck search. We want to secure the ship, but we also want to find out what has happened to the crew and have some sort of answer for when their big, scary brothers come looking for them. Doctor Bakshi, you’re with me on the bridge. Everyone understand?”

Lahki nodded her acknowledgment and stepped forward. “Aye,” she said, thinking quickly. 

“Aye, sir.” Shepard acknowledged the XO’s orders, clipping the phaser and tricorder to her hip. Mara quickly familiarized herself with her small team, Jenkins, Duncan, and Thirre. Of the three, she knew Ensign Jenkins from engineering as they served together during a more mundane assignment. The Lieutenant gave the engineer a quick nod of recognition before she introduced herself to the others, Duncan of security and an Orion from medical.

“Sensors are indicating that environmental systems aboard the Gorn vessel are still functioning,” the transporter chief interjected, “so you’re all good to go sir.”

“Usmanov. You’re up,” Dahl nodded towards the tactical operations officer.

“Da,” the beautiful blonde nodded, leading her team onto the transporter pad at the request of the XO. Within a matter of seconds, the team had dematerialized and the number of people in the room had dropped by a quarter.

“Shepard’s team.”

Initially nervous about the outing, Mara found herself calmer than she should be but thought nothing of it. Besides, she wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Then, as part of the second group to transport, Shepard led her people onto the pad. All materialized on the Gorn ship a few seconds later.

Ebenezer forced himself to move and step up onto the pad with his crew.  The next few seconds were key.  He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  A second later he spoke, “Energise.”  The whine and the bright lights spun up and took them on their way.

With the third team having been dispatched, the Commander and his team made their way onto the transportation device. With a last glance around the team, the Trill took a deep breath. Transporting aboard a Gorn vessel was not on his bucket list, but here they were.

“Energise.”