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

IOTD 023 – Far and Away

Planet C21
12.28.22 @ 1730
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They appeared in lush rolling hills with steep mountains abutted by slowly swirling clouds.  Okada slipped out her tricorder, followed by the rest of the team.  They all took a moment to walk a few feet taking observations and data.  Katsumi glanced at Fowler, “Pretty strong readings over that hill,” to which the science chief nodded briefly.

“Environmental readings are normal.  The presence of the dilithium is off the charts, but what’s missing is the broadcasting of its own signal that we recorded on the transport ship.  I’m not seeing any of it here.”

Jordan swept her medical tricorder as she walked a little farther, “I’d agree, Okada.  Plant life seems unaffected – if something were coming from the dilithium, it would have permeated plant life for a good distance.  These readings are astoundingly normal given what we thought we were walking into.”  She glanced around, “Everything is normal.”

Okada replied, “Interesting.  Let’s be overly cautious and retain our suits and protective measures over the hill and see what’s over there.”  The group nodded their agreement and began the slow and careful walk up the hill, tricorders out and reading.

Fowler mused, “I’m not detecting any animal life – some minor insect activity and mild bird populations, but the larger mammal population isn’t present…or missing.”

Reid was seeing similar readings on her tricorder, “Even if the dilithium isn’t showing to affect us, I would caution on removing the suits – something feels off with that.  We should at least be reading some animal life.  Something could have reduced or eliminated animal life.  Let’s be as careful as we can.”

Kondo signaled to his team to spread out as he moved near the front of the group.  Fowler and Reid’s wondering had him taking extra precautions – something had happened to this place, and he wasn’t keen to have it happen to the away team.  As the group crested the hill, they all stopped, staring at the sight that met them.  Dull green dilithium of various sizes in rows stared back at them, and abandoned farming buildings and equipment littered the fields in the expansive valley.

Okada shook her head in disbelief, “I didn’t think we’d actually…they’re farming dilithium.  So many questions.” She turned to the team, “Let’s move carefully – stay with the group and stay with your teams.”  The chief engineer led them down the hill as they drew closer to the fields.  The fences were slowly falling into disrepair, and the equipment was showing signs of disuse as the grasses and weeds had started to grow over the wheels.

Fowler’s team went about taking ground samples while Reid fanned her team around one of the fields as they unpacked the more detailed sensor units.  It took them a few minutes, but they soon had a complete sensor grouping gathering data on the silent rows of Jade Dilithium.  Reid plugged in the generator for the console and watched as the sensors went to work.  She was amazed, “I think we have a part of the puzzle, Okada.” Katsumi let her engineers finish setting up their equipment and walked over to where Reid was scrolling through the incoming data.  Sadie pointed to various readings, “There’s a lot to be extrapolated when it comes to the science of this stuff, but my first glance interpretation is that Jade Dilithium on its own isn’t harmful or useful.  See here,” she pointed to the harmonics readings, “I’m sure that’s interesting from an engineering perspective.”

Okada gasped, “It wouldn’t do us any good.  It’s damned near inert at this point.”  She looked up at the fields, “The stuff we saw on that ship was glowing and active – as if it had been….”, she searched for the word and found it, “…charged.  I wonder if that’s what they found here…they could grow it like anything, but there was a second step in the process.”  She tapped at the console to read further, “With its specific qualities, you would need a specific process to charge it.”  She looked around, “And it doesn’t look like they figured out how to do that here.”

Kondo held up his PADD.  He had wandered near them and had been listening, “This system is too far away strategically from the planet they’ve occupied.  It’s too close to the Cardassians, and it’s within reach of Starfleet operations…this might have been a test site to see if they could before they made the discovery that they could do the rest of the process.”

Fowler had walked over to the field closest to them and was scanning the Dilithium.  She did some calculations in her head as she returned to the group, “I’m thinking we can take much of this to sample and run tests on – we brought down some secure transport crates from the Blood Dilithium to take the extra precautions.”

Katsumi considered her suggestion and agreed, “Get it started.”  She turned to Kondo, “Did your security teams find anything else beyond the valley?”

A shake of his head, “Scouts report this is the only part that was settled.  They checked the outbuildings and homes – whoever was here emptied them out and cleared out quickly.  I don’t think they ever intend to come back.”

The commander’s badge beeped alive, =^=Harris to away team.=^= Okada replied for him to go ahead. =^=We’ve got a Galor Class Cardassian cruiser inbound in about ten minutes.  We’ve tried to hail them repeatedly, and they’re giving us static.  We reached out to Cardassian Command, and they’re not responding either.  Your status?=^=  She filled him in on what they had found and what they intended to bring back.  =^=Understood.  I would double-time your efforts – we’re not sure what this ship wants or who’s flying her.  When we get closer to their arrival, we’ll check in with you again – I’d like to have you all back here before they get here.=^=

Okada nodded more to herself than anything, “I think we’d agree, sir.  We’ll be ready for transport in eight minutes.”  Harris confirmed and closed the channel.  She turned to the group, “We have eight minutes before we’re out of here.  Let’s get packed.”