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

The Search, Part II

Bridge, Deck 1
Stardate 24008.6, 1045 Hours
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The passing of time was never easy aboard a starship when a mission of great significance was underway. In this case, the search for a missing starship and its crew had yet to yield any results and the crew were already growing restless. For those that had no choice but to sit back and wait, it was even harder. Hard to do nothing, even harder to go about their normal business when the lives of so many were potentially at risk.

Gathered in StratOps, the invited senior staff had been called to give an update on the search for the Steamrunner-class Enforcer. On the back wall of the strategic operations center, the MSD that would usually fill the space had been customised to function as a reduced viewscreen and was currently displaying a star chart of the ship’s current course.

“We’ve travelled a significant distance in the last two hours or so,” Lieutenant th’Zorati began the report, the Aenar standing near the screen and ‘looking’ at no one in particular. “Sensors have been working at full capacity the entire time and found nothing, except this…” she pressed a button on the console and a peculiar sight appeared.

Standing nearby, the XO had his hands on his hips as he regarded the information shown. “The Mutara Remnant?”

“Aye, it’s a bit of Federation history not many speak of. Lots of cowboy diplomacy, science run amuck, and Vulcan mysticism.” Stepping up, Mara scrolled through her datapad. “In a nutshell, the Mutara Remnant is what’s left of a planet that broke apart over a hundred years ago. Of course, there’s likely radiation and maybe an asteroid belt or two by now.” Her gaze shifted from the XO to Captain Scott. “Any remnant radiation could affect our sensors, so we should prepare, just in case.” The CSO returned to the XO. “If you want to know more, I suggest ye read up on the USS Enterprise 1701 under the command of Admiral James Kirk.”

“It would be an excellent place to hide if on the run…” Usmanov shrugged as she regarded the map on the screen. “It would be difficult to locate a ship of that size in such an area,” she concluded.

“But not impossible,” the Bolian ops chief chimed in. “If we can get the sensors to search for alloys and materials used in the construction of Federation starships, we should be able to locate the Enforcer,” the blue-skinned genius elaborated further.

“And even do the same for the Gorn ship?” Thaddeus suggested, but more as a question than a viable solution.

“Aye, but the inner remnant could be too unstable as the planet was created with protomatter. I bet the protomatter still resides in its remains, which will mean tectonic shifts. Ye don’t want to hide yer ship somewhere ye might find a hunk of an asteroid flying at ye.” Mara shrugged. “At least that could narrow the search down a wee bit.”

“Number One?” the Captain looked to his first officer for his final piece of advice.

Aamin looked over the map again, and then looked to the Captain. “I don’t think we have anything better to follow at this stage,” he nodded in agreement to the suggested plan.

“Tempestava; set course for the Mutara Remnant, full impulse power. Mora, Shepard; reconfigure the sensors as required,” the Captain’s gaze finally settled on their newest colleague, “we have a ship to find,” he smiled.

“Aye, sir!” Mara acknowledged and moved to her station. “Configuring sensors to scan for duranium and like elements.” 

Mason listened to the rest of the bridge crew as they contemplated and decided on how to proceed in the Mutara Remnant. Suddenly, he had an idea and said, “Captain, I’m programming the sensors with the unique signatures of the warp field and impulse engines. If anything else, maybe we can find them that way. The radiation in the system will render the sensors largely ineffective, but hopefully, every little bit helps.”

Sat in the command chair at the heart of the bridge once again, Thaddeus exchanged a knowing smile with the XO beside him. Things were starting to click in this crew – at last.

Mason tapped a few control pads on his console and the display came to life, showing him the Enforcer. He punched into the terminal the exact warp signature and impulse engine signature of his ship, hoping that every little edge they could get would help them find his missing crew. Tapping a few more control pads, he again checked the long-range sensors and communications channels, “Still nothing on long-range sensors and no response to our hails.”

“If the ship has been disabled or warp engines are offline, we’re not likely to detect any sort of power signature,” Linn Mora decried from Ops, “but I am surprised we haven’t detected any sign of materials from her creation. Perhaps she isn’t here?” the Bolian suggested, at great pain to do so because he knew how much this would mean to their visitor.

“We’ll give it another thirty minutes,” the Captain instructed from the heart of the bridge, “scan every inch of the system, every molecule of debris. If there is any chance the Enforcer is here, I want to find her.”

With only thirty minutes left to scan such a wide area, Mara went against her own advice and aimed sensors at the remnant’s center. Her console chimed once. “Captain, I’ve detected something near the inner remnant. Unfortunately, I can’t get an exact lock on the – let me adjust for radiation.” Mara’s fingers flowed across the glass. “A ship of some kind. Guess I was wrong, or whatever they’re running from was worth the risk of hiding in a deathtrap.”

The inner remnant came on screen. A massive cluster of asteroids, held together by their own gravity, still shifting, erupting even after over a hundred years. “Even at this range, ye can see the tectonics shifting in the asteroids, spewing rock like a bullet. That’s not to mention the bits of the core still gathered in the center are hot as hell.”

Mason’s eyes lit up when Mara spoke that she had found the ship, he was looking directly at her until the view screen activated and showed the Enforcer inside the asteroid field. He turned towards Mara again and said, “Are you able to pick up any life signs through the interference?” He knew it was most likely a long shot, but his crew was the first and only thing on his mind. He had no idea what had happened to them, he only hoped they were alright.

Shepard rescanned the ship again, focusing on life forms, but found nothing. She recalibrated the scan and tried again without speaking to the XO or the Captain. “I’m getting something. There are several lifeforms, but the radiation makes it difficult to determine an exact number.” She turned toward the XO, a smile on her face. “But there are warm bodies on board, sir.”

“People, Lieutenant,” the Captain scolded the woman for her cold remarks, “there are people down there. I want to know more about who, or what, they are before I send anyone else into a dangerous situation,” he barked. Thaddeus wasn’t particularly known for having a temper or being quick to anger, but he was clearly showing signs of frustration boiling to the surface. “This is a Sovereign-class starship with one of the best sensor suites in the fleet. If we cannot bypass some frakking radiation to get a better understanding of what is down there, no one will! Make it happen, people,” he instructed sternly, much to the sadistic pleasure of the XO, who loved seeing the Captain be more forceful in his instructions.

Mara had to cringe a little after the Captain scolded her. According to the scans, the ship could be full of cats, for all she knew, but she kept that part to herself. However, upon Scott’s rant about the ship and crew’s failings, Lt. Shepard felt an intervention was required. “Begging the Captain’s pardon, sir,” Mara spun her chair, directing her statement to Thaddeus himself. “The Remnant is the only one of its kind in the entire galaxy, probably the universe.” Her toned softened as she shifted her gave from Captain to XO and back again. “I know yer anxious fer news of the crew, but our scans just aren’t gonna penetrate that thing.” Mara’s gaze shifted to the Bolian, Lt. Mora. “But a probe might, aye Lieutenant?”

Unsure of where to look after being put in the line of fire between the scientist and his new Captain, the Bolian kept his head down and analysed his readings. “I think a probe could work, but it’s no more or less likely than the sensors at this point,” he finally answered after a tense few moments.

It took the Captain every fibre of his being not to toss the science Lieutenant off of the bridge himself, but he’d save his punishment for the insubordination until later. For now, this had to be the priority. “Send the probe,” he responded in a calm, dangerous tone.

Mason watched the joust between the Captain and his crew, shaking his head slightly in disapproval but not enough for anyone to notice. It wasn’t his place to interject, especially since he wasn’t really an officer on board this vessel, but it didn’t stop him from almost saying aloud enough is enough and there were bigger things to worry about. He decided to speak, changing the subject slightly but also refocusing this crew’s attention on the bigger picture.

“Captain, until we can determine if there are in fact lifesigns on board, I believe it would be best to operate under the presumption there are people over there that need our help.” He said looking directly at Thaddeus before shifting his gaze towards the engineering officer once more, “Would we be able to lock on a tractor beam and bring the ship out of the asteroid field? Or perhaps project a deflector field large enough to make an escape route for them to break free?”

Mason hoped the Captain wouldn’t feel like he was overstepping his position, but given the circumstances and that the ship in distress was potentially full of his friends, he would do whatever was necessary to save his crew.

“Every suggestion remains on the table,” Linn plucked up the courage to respond a little louder this time, “until we know exactly what the probe or sensors can determine.” Turning back to his console, the Bolian went about his business once more.

‘I hope it won’t be too long until we find out…’

Less than ten minutes later, a chorus of beeps around the bridge gave the answers the staff craved, but certainly not what they had hoped for. Using her console for the news delivery, the Russian tactical officer’s lowered tone gave the game away.

“Probe has found her exact location,” she revealed and displayed it on the viewscreen. “Judging by the spread of the debris, the ship made impact with the core fragment at some speed, but it was likely not a direct collision,” the Commander told.

“She looks like she was forced down,” Aamin frowned, shifting forward to the edge of his seat.

“Lifesigns?” the Captain called.

From one of the port medical stations, an Andorian medical officer studied the readings. “No life signs Captain,” was her sombre response.

“Number One,” Thaddeus addressed his XO as he rose to his feet, “note the time in the ship’s log. Notify Starfleet Command that we have found the remains of the Enforcer and have begun salvage operations. We’ll collect what we can and return to Starbase at the next opportunity,” the Captain instructed but was very clear in his next insertion into the conversation with his team whilst the XO began his task. “Let’s be clear; until we transport the ship’s debris, we have no idea if the crew died down there, or if they are missing. For now, the search continues,” the Terran told.

“Captain,” Aamin called out, “Starfleet Command has ordered us back to Starbase Eleven. The Scarborough has been ordered to assume salvage operations and will be here before the end of the day,” the Trill revealed regretfully.

Looking at his XO, and then at the sole survivor from Enforcer at present, the Captain shook his head. “Not good enough. Get Commodore Ekwueme on the line and transfer it to my ready room. Helm, hold our position until otherwise notified…”

“…we’re not going anywhere just yet.”