“Lieutenant Gabrielle Camargo, front and centre.” The captain’s voice was clear across the silent mass of people gathered in Port Royal. Sam could sense motion in the crowd to her right, Gabs no doubt working her way through people at the captain’s summons.
“MacIntyre, if you please,” Sam muttered quietly, the only person who would hear being Dimitry at her side, the window to her other side. When the captain did speak the only difference was the word Commander at the start. She found herself shaking her head as MacIntyre started speaking aloud, barely hearing a thing he said. Something about traditions and ability and leadership. Typical promotion speeches that any officer could likely guess at.
Dimitry glanced at her and quietly raised a finger to his lips, a silent plea to be quiet in the face of this event. And he repeated it again when she preceded the captain’s declaration, promoting Gabs to Lieutenant Commander.
As the crowd broke out into cheers, he turned on her. “What’s up? No, seriously, what’s up?”
“Déjà vu,” she answered. “Seriously, didn’t we do all this already?”
“Uh, maybe a couple of weeks back when Borman got promoted to Lieutenant?” Dimitry had crouched down slightly to look her over, head bobbing side to side. “You look a little pale.”
“I’m fine, I think,” she said, in her defence before shrugging. “It’s a party, shouldn’t we enjoy it?”
The look he gave her was one she’d have to call disappointed. His eyes squinted slightly, arms crossed, a ‘hmmm’ from deep in his throat. “I suppose,” he conceded eventually. “But if you feel off, I’m taking you to sickbay.”
And that was reason enough not to say anything to Dimitry. No one in their right mind wanted to submit themselves to the terror that was Doctor Terax. She shrugged off the ill feelings, let the emotion of the celebrations sweep over her and dove into the festivities, happily grabbing Dimitry’s hand and dragging him into the thick of it.
“Ssshhh,” she said to Dimitry as they stumbled into the dark room. Her dark room. Her very quiet, somewhat small darkened quarters to be precise.
“I thought you had quarters to yourself?” he asked as the door slid shut behind them, what little light from the void between stars illuminating her quarters. And the constant red glow of the port Bussard collector, which was somewhat helpful in the middle of the night at least.
“I do, I do.” She turned on him in the dark, pulling him close and working away at his uniform tunic. “Just that wall is thin,” she said pointing at one wall which only bore a large monitor and a few paintings and ornaments on it.
His hands were busy with her own clothing for a moment before he glanced around for her bedroom door, then started to direct both of them in that direction as they both undressed. Kisses were exchanged, more than a few giggles from herself, and a laugh or two from Dimitry as they stumbled through the door. It didn’t take long before she bumped into the bed with the back of her legs. With a gleeful smile he likely didn’t see, she spun him around, pushing him back onto the bed before she pounced.
And that’s when the door chime went off.
Both of them froze, waiting, and then the chime sounded a second time.
Samantha sighed, physically slumped, before she crawled off of Dimitry and the bed. “Stay right there,” she ordered, a ‘yes ma’am’ in response, and then she padded out in her underwear. She failed to stop the third sounding of the chimes.
“What?” she barked as she finally reached the door and tapped the open button. She had absolutely zero qualms about who saw her in her underwear at the moment. She was wrapped in anger and being disturbed and that would do.
“Lieutenant Michaels, I need to talk to you.” The young woman before her was a Bajoran, a few years younger the Sam herself. A mere Ensign, though at least she was wearing yellow. She hadn’t seen her around in any of the Ops section meetings, so Engineering or Security was her guess. She’d seen her in Port Royal a few times, with the same collection of people.
“Bloody hell Ensign, can it wait till morning?” she said, exasperation evident. She wanted this woman to recognise she was interrupting something and to please go away.
“No,” the ensign answered.
“Well I’m somewhat busy Ensign, so it will have to.”
“Lieutenant Dimitry Malenkov is in there with you. Your tunic is on your dining table. And you’re about to get a message on your computer terminal.” The young woman pointed into the dark and just as Sam turned around to see where she was pointing saw her computer terminal light up to let her know a new message had come through.
“Nice trick,” Sam replied. “But I’m busy. Track me down in the morning.”
“I can’t,” the ensign said.
“Then type it up and I’ll read it in the morning. Good night, Ensign.” And with that, she closed the door in the young woman’s face. And with another tap disabled the door chime. Giving her eyes a moment to readjust to the dark, the brightly lit corridor wrecking any night vision, she turned back to head for her bedroom.
And spotted her uniform tunic, thrown in a hasty disrobing, spread across her dining table.
“Huh, good eyes on her,” she muttered as she slipped back into her bedroom, smiling at Dimitry. “Now, where were we?”
“Huh, oh, sorry, yes,” she said to Gabs. She’d not heard a word she said was just throwing out words in defence. For about the last five minutes she’d been feeling off, like the entire universe was out of balance. Or out of sync with itself.
“We’re heading in on impulse, it’s going to be a few hours before we aim the good arrays at anything interesting. If you want, I can take some of those probes off your hands?” Gabs was busy tapping away at her console, checking and refining the sensor reads from the sensors, but otherwise just occupying a chair on the bridge at the moment. She was right, it would be a few more hours before the primary arrays were able to get exacting reads on anything interesting in the inner system.
Sure, they had a good idea of what was in the system, but there was nothing like bringing a Starfleet explorer vessel alongside something and scanning it in such detail to read the serial number on each atom from when the Great Bird of the Galaxy had crafted it. Or so the salespeople likely told Starfleet when they pitched the sensor package to them for inclusion in the latest line of ships.
“You’re about to get busy,” she said to Gabs. It was just a feeling, but one which bore fruit. The science station started chirping away, the automated systems proud to announce they found ‘something’ worthy of attention. The same could be heard from Rrr’s station and to a far, far lesser degree Sam’s own, but hers were mostly just letting her know that Rrr was getting the bulk of notifications.
She’d read all of these notifications before. She knew what each said before she opened it. Her attention to the bridge around her faded as she mentally told herself what one notification said, opened it and had it exactly right. Then again and again. Five in a row.
Then a notification from one of the probes they’d launched, which had dutifully gone screaming into the system far faster than Atlantis, unwary of the laws of relativity and happy to go forth at nearly 0.7c. She didn’t need to read the report.
“Probe Gamma is reporting both 9587c and 9587d are L-class, but 9587c is highly irradiated and has a large orbital debris field.” She just blurted that out, all without even opening the report. She didn’t want to, it would just make the day weirder. But she did and what she expected, what she knew, was there, waiting for her. 9587c was an irradiated L-class world in the grips of a nuclear winter.
“Epsilon is going to be another two hours,” Gabs said from beside her, reading a different status update. “But it looks like 9587d is indeed L-class as well, as we suspected from long-range scans. No signs of debris, and it’s a lot smaller than c. Sort of an Earth-Mars relationship going on I think.”
“Let’s let the probes look over things first,” Captain Theodoras announced. “If there is anyone alive on those worlds, waiting a few more days for us to get around to them isn’t going to change things, I think. That,” she pointed to the viewscreen, a large alien space station dominating, something Sam had missed coming up but also fully expected, “is where I think we should start. What do you think XO?”
“Any luck?” Mac asked.
She wasn’t sure if it was the first, third or hundredth time he’d asked since they had boarded the alien station but it was getting on her nerves that was for sure. Or maybe it was the obstinate door before her.
“The sensor mounted above the door keeps scanning all of us,” she said, as a means of explaining why the door wasn’t opening. “I think it’s a bio scanner. Commander Camargo is scanning the bay for any biomaterial we might be able to use to spoof the sensor.”
She of course was trying every trick in the hacker’s book she could think of. Using the tricorder to try and trick the sensor, or induce a current in the door’s systems to get it to open, or attempting some sort of computer interface, but nothing was working. Or at least working completely.
“Come all this way, no one is here to greet us and we’re stuck at the front door,” Mac continued, filling the air while she worked. Yes, the commander was a good leader, but there were times when redshirts were just decoration while others worked. Woe be onto those under her command, forced to deal with a captain who did things!
“Glad we’re starting with-“ Mac cut himself off as the door hissed along the middle seam, then slid open at a sedate pace, unveiling a corridor beyond that just repeated the décor of the shuttle bay. A corridor that seemed to stretch into infinity though.
“Open sesame,” she said. She’d just had a random thought, a random idea that popped into her head about how to trick the door sensor and it had worked the first time. No need to dial in the approach, tune frequencies or code injections, just a first-time lucky guess.
“Nicely done Michaels,” Mac said, with a pat on her shoulder as he whistled to summon the away team back from where they had spread out around the bay.
“Right folks, since Lieutenant Michaels here has opened the door, we’ll proceed inside. All sensors on record, no one goes anywhere alone.” A series of head nods in understanding at the commander’s orders. “And if anyone sees something like a car or scooters, shout out,” he said looking down the expanse of the corridor before them. “This place is huge.”
“Atlantisss to away team, we’re getting an odd energy ssssignature from the sssstation.” W’a’le’ki’s sibilant hiss came from Mac’s commbadge after a chirp and his tap to receive the call. “Have you managed to infiltrate beyond the firssst door?”
“Just now Lieutenant. We’re about to head inside the station and start our exploration now.”
“Oh fuck me,” Sam muttered. “Chronitons.”
“There isss a large ssscale chroniton build-up occurring in the ssstation. But the outer hull isss masssking sssome of it, ssso could be much higher than we’re detecting.” W’a’le’ki’s confirmation drew the commander’s attention to Sam as she just smiled at him.
“Lucky guess,” was all she managed to say before a bright flash overwhelmed them all.