Part of USS Triton: Volleyed and Thundered and USS Odyssey: Volleyed and Thundered

Volleyed and Thundered – 14

Devenium Four Station, Devenium System, Deneb Sector, Alpha Quadrant
Stardate: 78194.3
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Though it was not standard procedure for the captain to be on the away team, investigating an empty Presidium-class station required almost every able person available from the Triton to be involved. As a result, Captain Rio Canção found the closeness of her environmental suit only adding to the already uncomfortable situation she and her crew found themselves in. The entire station, which was geared toward supporting the colony’s incoming traffic and providing maintenance to smaller crafts, was in complete darkness. Since her Hazard Team had arrived ahead of everyone else, they had not been successful in attempting to find a way to bring the power back online or discover why every hatch and airlock was exposed to the cold vacuum of space. 

Standing in the centre of the station’s ops, Canção was using her tricorder to see if she could find just some clue, just something that could direct them towards some answer to discovering where the one thousand Starfleet officers (and the civilian population) had gone. It was like nothing she had seen before. The El-Aurian captain wanted to scratch her head, but her helmet prevented that.

The communicator built into her suit went off, and her operations manager’s calm, friendly voice followed the beep. “Ethav to the captain.”

Tapping the button on her chest to respond, Canção hoped the Andorian had good news to share. “Go ahead, Ethav; please tell me you have some good news to share. That’s an order!”

A nervous chuckle echoed through her helmet. “Sorry, ma’am, I must disobey and instead share something quite bizarre,” Ethav replied. 

She had sent him and several others down to the engineering compartment of the station to find out why they couldn’t access any computer control and power up the station. “Well, don’t leave me in suspense, lieutenant.”

“I’m afraid, ma’am, the primary computer processor is not here,” Ethav reported. “And it’s not the only component of the computer core which is missing. Several other key parts have been removed, rendering the entire computer core useless.”

“Are you serious?” Canção checked; she couldn’t believe that. She had fought the Dominion and Breen during the war; such an act was never their style. They would just move in and blow things up without seriously considering the need to be precise in their attacks. A former first officer of hers had described their actions as going all in when they had the advantage. She then paused and considered what it could mean, and before her operations officer could reply to her, she issued more orders. “Ethav, comb the entire computer core. I want an inventory of what was removed.”

“We already are doing that, captain, but the computer core doesn’t appear to be the only thing removed.” He replied.

“Clarify, lieutenant,” Canção said.

“On our way down here, we noticed a range of consoles, equipment and other systems missing. There were no blast marks; it was almost as if someone knew how to disengage them from the station’s structure and extract them almost surgically.” Ethav reported. “It’s almost like they knew what they wanted to take.”

“Very well, we may have to start to consider a wider check to see what else is missing. But, for now, focus your efforts on the computer core; I’ll speak with the Odyssey to see if they can send over one or two of their S-C-E teams.”  Canção ordered. 

“Will do, ma’am; it might be worth informing Lieutenant Commander Jayshon, too; he might not be able to bring any of the reactors online without proper computer control,” Ethav stated. “That’s if they’ve not removed all of the reactors.” 

Moments later, Canção had spoken with Lieutenant Naef Oron on the Triton, whom she had left in command of her ship. The counsellor was more than happy to sit in the captain’s chair. He was a capable bridge officer, and the size of the Brikarian would make it difficult (not impossible) for him to move around all of the station. Most of the corridors weren’t configured for larger humanoids like him. She had updated Oron with what Ethav and his team had discovered and told the counsellor to request backup for them from the SCE unit on Odyssey

“I’ll speak with the Odyssey shortly,” Oron had shared. “However, I think they may be preoccupied with what has happened on the planet’s surface at the moment. And from the looks of it, the others are very busy too.”

“Understandable, but do let my former protege know what we’ve found; it may help him with his investigation,” Canção said with a smirk just as she saw her first officer and chief engineer arrive via one of the access tunnels into ops. Reminding the counsellor that Fleet Captain McCallister was once one of her students meant that Canção was trying to use some of her former influence to get his help quicker. Thankfully she didn’t have to fight for it, unlike other squadrons. McCallister had been lucky that Command had given him her, his former first officer and brother, to join him in forming the Odyssey squadron. Since the formation of the Odyssey Squadron, Canção had found her friendship with Cambil easy to resume while getting to know Horatio McCallister a somewhat delight. He was certainly different in some areas from his older brother, but she had concluded that they were alike in most things (however, she was sure they would never admit it).

Without the station’s gravity plating working, she had popped her tricorder back into her utility belt before walking over slowly to meet with Thaustin and Jayshon. Like her, they, too, were weighted down by their EV suits. “Gentlemen, please tell me you have some good news.”.

Thaustin shook his head before answering. “To quote my good friend, Shaka, when the walls fell.”

Jayshon agreed with the commander’s assessment. “More like Zinda, his eyes red.” The Tamarian chief engineer gave out a sigh. He was certainly talking fast, which meant the universal translator was lagging in changing his language to Federation standard. “Mirab, with sails removed. The power reactors have all been taken, including the emergency back-ups.”

Canção wasn’t surprised at their news. But, after hearing from Ethav, she started seeing a pattern here. “It would seem that whatever happened resulted in the station being stripped of its primary systems. Ethav reported that key components, including the computer core’s primary processor, were removed.”

“I can’t see how we’re supposed to get this station operational,” Thaustin admitted. “With no way of blocking up the holes without forcefields, this entire job will take a lot of effort. It’s almost like the chicken and egg conundrum. Which one do we deal with first? Restoring power or replacing all of the hatches and pulling the airlocks closed?”

“I’ve already requested the presence of the SCE unit from Odyssey to help us,” Canção shared before she sighed. “I’m not sure where we start with all of this.” She flew her hands up in the air as she looked around the station’s Ops again. None of the stations were operational. Not a single light was active. The only source of light came from their suits. 

“This is, without a doubt, a new tactic we’ve not seen the Dominion take before,” Thaustin said. The Xindi-Primate shared his captain’s frustration with what they stood among. Starfleet would want to know more, and they had no answers to give them.  

“Bazminti, when he pulled back the veil,” Jayshon muttered. “The Dominion typically plan for the long-term. It is their hidden agenda.”

Curious to understand what Jayshon was suggesting, Canção turned to him. “What do you mean, commander?”

“Sokath, his eyes uncovered,” Jayshon started. “Dominion strategy is ​​they want something even more valuable in the long term.”

“You’re right, Jayshon,” Thaustin agreed with his colleague. He appeared to understand what direction the engineer was going with his train of thought. He turned to his captain to explain it further. “During their failed attempts to negotiate with the Federation shortly after Deep Space Nine was recaptured, they tried to play the long-term card with us. They were considering the bigger picture. They weren’t bothered about what would happen tomorrow; they were considering how things would pan out over a longer period of time. They were trying to gain the advantage by planning and predicting what may happen in their favour.”

“So, why gut out a Federation station?” Canção questioned Thaustin. “Why not assume direct control and use it against us now? I don’t see the logic or long-term gain there?”

“Uzani, his army with fists open or closed?” Jayshon asked Thaustin.

Thaustin once again understood his Tamarian colleague well. “Possibly both, Jayshon,” He returned his focus to his captain. “The Dominion, and I’m sure the Breen have helped them with this raid, will most likely return to take control of this system. Somehow they’ve removed the ability for us to retake it so quickly, and without the people here, it’s an easier target for them. This Lost Fleet needs as many strong footholds in this area of space if they are to survive. They need worlds to exist on. The infrastructure to support their campaign. I reckon they think by doing this, we would leave the system eventually, as we wouldn’t have the resources to fully restore what has been lost. They know we would want to press on and engage them in battle in other locations. While that’s happening, they can return here and take over behind our backs.”

“I suppose by being supported by the Breen, they wouldn’t be in any rush to seal the hatches and airlocks. The Breen could are used to working within their suits and freezing conditions. Instead, they could install their own computer processors and other key systems to modify the station to their specifications.” Canção theorised. “I suppose that explains why the orbital weapon platforms came online when we approached them.”

“Most likely, ma’am, they’ve probably uploaded a backdoor virus into their systems to give them access at a later date,” Thaustin suggested. “We should ask the SCE team to look into them at some point.”

“Doctor Uknare to Captain Canção,” spoke the Haliian medical officer over the intercom.

Gesturing for Thaustin and Jayshon to pause their discussion, Canção responded. “Go ahead, Kamra.”

“Captain, Lieutenant Lonar and I have discovered something quite astonishing in our search of the station,” Uknare stated.

Scoffing at that with a slight chuckle, Canção replied. “You’ll need to get into a queue, I’m afraid, doctor. Tell me, what have you two found?”

The Cardassian chief security and tactical officer answered. “Ma’am, we’ve been conducting a forensic scan of the sections we’ve been visiting, and there is a strange and unusual common pattern that we are seeing.”

“Let me guess, you’ve noticed that key systems have been surgically removed from the station?” Canção attempted to get ahead of them with their response.

“Well, yes, there’s that, ma’am, but something else perplexes us. We want Commander Kazlaf to join us if she can,” Lonar stated.

Curious to know what they were seeing that required their chief science officer to be involved, Canção pressed them for the information. “What is it that you’ve found?”

“Captain, there’s no trace of any form of DNA on the station, what’s so ever,” Uknare declared.

Thaustin then chimed in. “Surely that’s expected, doctor. The station’s internal settings have been exposed to the vacuum of space.”

“Not like this, Thaustin,” Uknare replied confidently. “Where rooms were closed off by emergency bulkheads or doors when we entered them, there’s no trace of any microbes. I’m talking fingerprints, plants, hair – I’ve done a cellular analysis on different surfaces. There’s nothing there. Even in the vacuum of space, these things aren’t automatically removed. We would detect some sort of trace.” 

Perplexed by their mystery, Canção frowned at hearing their revelation. Then, she started to conduct her own forensic scan from her tricorder of Ops. “Any possible theories as to what has happened?”

Lonar replied. “We’ve exhausted our options and cannot determine what has caused it, captain.”

“Hence why we would appreciate Belire’s input on this,” Uknare stated. “I want us to consider the bigger picture here.” 

“I’ll send her your way shortly,” Canção said before closing the channel. She turned to both men before her. “The beast at Tanagra is certainly upon us.”

“With Darmok on the ocean,” Jayshon said in agreement. 

Canção couldn’t disagree with her chief engineer; they, indeed, were on their own with this mystery to solve.

Comments

  • You have me completely bewildered with the grand mystery here. I certainly hope you have a way out of it because I certainly don’t see it. The long game hypothesis, that part felt very authentic to the Dominion as a way to explain the missing key components, but no people and no traces of life whatsoever? That almost feels more like a Q situation than one resultant from the Jem’Hadar and the Breen. This story keeps me coming back for more.

    May 29, 2023
  • Here we have the space equivalent of removing the tires, engine and doors off a car and leaving it sitting on four stacks of house bricks! I am totally baffled as to where this is all leading. Brilliantly written.

    June 2, 2023