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Part of USS Daedalus: Mission 1 – Measure by Measure and USS Mackenzie: Mission 12: Measure by Measure

DMBM 003 – Fire from the Mountain

Mining Operation
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“You’re not happy.”  Captain Leopold Halsey sat in his office in sickbay.  He’d looked up and found his new CO, Helena Dread, walking into his office.

“That’s putting it mildly.  I need an XO.”  She sat down with a heavy sigh, “And you’re my choice.”

He chuckled and smiled widely at her reaction.  It was somewhere between annoyed and bemused.  “Captain Dread…Helena.  I know they didn’t want me for the chair.  I know why.”  He shrugged, to her shock.  “ I just don’t care. You remember the first time we met?  My interview.  I thought was pretty clear.”  His smile remained in place, further irritating at the edges of her nerves.

“I do. But…I didn’t want this.  They know that.  I’ve always been clear.”  She blew out a raspberry of annoyance, “So my next best move is to make you XO so I can have someone there to tell me I’ve lost it and need to go to Risa for a few weeks.”

Halsey observed dryly, “You don’t strike me as someone who would enjoy Risa.”

She let the silence hold before she admitted, “You’re right. I hate it there.  Everyone thinks I’m a lunatic because I have such an aversion to it.”

“You have a lot of hate in you.”  He said it with a sly smile, and she rolled her eyes, and he chuckled, “I’ll accept the role of XO.  Jordan’s going to be unhappy.”  Helena’s face asked why, and he answered, “She’s been avoiding the chief position for a long time.  She’s content as deputy chief.”

“We could just keep you, Chief, and XO.  It’s a small ship.”

“It is, but small ships need working XOs just as much as the big ones…or the fat ones.”

Dread decided, “Let’s see how it goes.”

Suddenly, the voice of Presley Atega interrupted, “Captain to the bridge!”

Dread jumped from her chair and headed out the door and down the turbolift.  A moment later she stepped onto the bridge, “Report?”

Catari spoke from the tactical station, “Long-range sensors are picking up two ships on an intercept course for the mining operation.  One Syndicate, one True Way.  We’re fifteen minutes out, while they’re 45 minutes out.”

Helena stood before the center chair, her mind swirling with ideas, commands, and directions.  “Do we know if the mining site is functional?”

Sadie Fowler had been working at science, and the question had several answers – none that made sense.  “Captain, I’m reading…some kind of phasing?”  She tapped at the console, her concern growing at the familiar readings.  “I’m detecting similar frequencies to our previous encounter.”  She put the readings on the screen, “You can see the original sensor reports, and this one…”  Various gasps were heard around the bridge.

Dread frowned, her mind shifting into her comfortable place – analyzing.  “We think this could be more of the Borg experiments they worked on?  To what end?”  She turned to Fowler, “What about the conditions on the mining site?”  She had an idea, and it was as unsettling.

Fowler nodded as she began to understand.  The sensors returned to her request, and she replied, “Temperatures are cold enough. You’d need heavy clothing to walk around.  The mines and tunnels would be similar.  Unless they’re modified Borg…and who knows what they’ve done to them this time.”

Helena remained standing.  They would need to get closer to the operation and see what was happening.  “Prentice, plot us an intercept course with the mineral operation on the moon. Catari and Fowler – let’s see what we see.  Yellow alert.”  The Daedalus adjusted course nimbly as it flew towards the moon.  The lights on the small bridge faded to yellow as the shields snapped into place.  Dread watched the screen as it grew larger.

Sadie confirmed what she suspected, “I’m not reading any life signs aside from the Borg.  No traces of human or alien life signs.”  A heavy weight had settled into her stomach.  Whatever had happened to the people who had been forced to sacrifice in the name of twisted science at the hands of the Syndicate?

Catari had also completed her work, “Threat screens are clear, Captain.  No defensive or offensive weapons detected.”  She frowned, “I am detecting a power reading consistent with a weapons system, but I’m unable to pinpoint where it’s coming from.”

Prentice pointed to the screen, “That doesn’t look good.”  A green glow from the center of the area suddenly started glowing brighter as they approached.  He asked, “Orders, Captain?”

The CO felt the cold twanging of her nerves.  There was a choice to be made.  Stay and possibly get blown out of the sky, but get good intelligence.  Or…run away to live another day.  She’d studied her share of captains in the Academy.  The varying responses based on their personality, experience, and willingness to take risks had led to victory and disaster in equal measure.  She decided she wouldn’t risk 100 souls and a new shiny ship.  “Get us the hell out of here, Prentice…and fast.”

He agreed with her, “Yes, ma’am.”  The Chief Flight Officer slammed the Daedalus into a hard turn at full impulse, and the inertial dampeners held and didn’t even protest.  William Prentice smiled as the ship responded immediately to his touch.  It felt like the Raven Class USS Erigone, the first starship he’d piloted as an officer.  It also felt like he could push what he knew of the limits with starship piloting.  “I can put us behind the moon a system over…sensors should still pick up what we need.”

Dread fought the urge to sigh in relief out loud.  The mining site had a weapon that looked like Borg mixed with something else.  What was the Syndicate and The True Way up to out here?

She turned to the science chief, “Fowler – pull the data on whatever that weapon was and work with Catari.  I need to know what that is…and how much of a problem it will be.”  She turned to stare at the chair.  Still nothing.  She spotted Halsey standing in the back of the bridge; his brows furrowed as he motioned her towards the ready room.

“Tir, you have the CONN.”  She walked down the hallway to the ready room.  

The bridge officers eyed each other before Tir quietly rebuked them, “Steady on, everyone.  Let’s focus on the task at hand.”