Raan stood on the bridge, arms folded and sipping his coffee as he watched the crew working diligently at their stations. The hum of the Resolute’s engines filled the air, providing a comforting backdrop to the bridge’s activity. It would have been tranquil, just the everyday workings of a starship and her crew going about their duty… if all the hair’s on the back of Raan’s neck weren’t raised and practically doing the polka. He narrowed his eyes, absently taking another swallow of coffee. Something was wrong somewhere, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Harrow suddenly sat up straight at his station, his brow furrowed.
“Captain, I’m detecting a distress signal,” Linis announced, his voice tinged with confusion.
“Out here?” Raan turned to ask. They’d scanned coming into the system, and, apart from the Volar’s smaller surface-to-space fleet, they were the only ship for lightyears. “Who is it?”
“That’s the problem, sir. It…” Harrow frowned at his screens. He pressed a few buttons and frowned again. “It’s coming from the USS Pendragon.”
“That can’t be right.” Raan stalked over, looking over Harrow’s shoulder. “First a sensor ghost, now this? How can they be sending us a message?”
He glanced over at Allen, who was already analyzing the signal on his console.
“He’s right, boss,” the chief science officer confirmed, his fingers flying over the console as he refined the signal’s origin. “No idea how, but that looks like a distress call from the Pendragon. It has the right encoding and background data strings for a ship from fourteen years ago. It’s heavily garbled, but I’ll try to clean it up as best I can.”
“Do it.” Raan nodded, his eyes fixed on Quinn as the science officer played the transmission. The message was fragmented, and they could only make out a few words through the static.
“…attack… need assistance… coordinates…”
The transmission cut off abruptly, leaving them looking at each other in confusion. “They were attacked?”
“We need to investigate,” Raan decided, determination clear in his voice. “Quinn, see what you can do to clean up that transmission further. Linis, plot a course to the Pendragon’s last known coordinates.”
As the crew sprang into action, Raan tapped his comm badge. “Raan to Burton. Burton, we’re stepping away for a while to investigate a distress signal. Will your away team be okay down there without us for a bit?”
Burton replied, his voice steady and reassuring. “No problem at all, sir. Our hosts are treating us very well indeed. Don’t worry about us… we’ll be fine. Good luck with the investigation.”
“Excellent. We’ll inform you when we’re back in orbit. Mason out.”