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Compass in the Dark

Posted on Mon Jan 27th, 2020 @ 10:13pm by Lieutenant JG Evaad Hessen & Captain Osegan Trenna

Mission: Searching for the Lost
Location: Shuttlecraft Lhotse
Timeline: Mission Day 5 at 1030

On the main deck of the forward shuttlebay, the shuttle Lhotse sat on the deck as crew made final preparations. As if with perfect timing, Lieutenant jg Evaad Hessen entered the bay just as his team were finishing their work. The bay door was open, the forcefield holding the air in place.

Three crew in gold walked to meet him, but before they could speak, Evaad lifted his right hand to cut them off.

“Shuttle is ready for launch,” he said, looking at a young Terran man. “The Altai will be feeding us data from sensors and probes to avoid the anomalies.” This time to a Betazoid woman. Finally, he looked to a Vulcan man. “Warrant Officer Taval. Get us ready for launch. Your orders are to follow my direction, report clearly and vocally, but otherwise maintain utter control over your mind. Clear?”

He was actually shocked at the silence from the Vulcan’s mind.

“I like you already, Taval. Let’s go.”

The two men boarded the shuttle, with Taval taking the pilot seat and Evaad sitting next to him. The Ops chief activated the shuttle's comm system. "Bridge, this is Hessen aboard shuttlecraft Lhotse. Requesting launch clearance."

"Carry on, Lieutenant," Osegan directed. She hoped that Hessen would be successful in locating the missing team. With as long as it had been since they'd been heard from, she had been preparing herself for the worst outcome, while hoping for the best.

"Acknowledged," Evaad replied before closing the comm channel.

"We are receiving telemetry from the Altai," reported Taval. "Data stream is stable."

Evaad smiled at the amount of mental discipline the Vulcan was showing. He followed orders and verbalized his reports, as much for the shuttle's log as anything else, but otherwise tamped down any errant thoughts.

"Take us out," Evaad ordered. The shuttle gently lifted from the deck and slid out of the shuttlebay. Within a few seconds, the Lhotse was clear of the Altai completely.

Evaad closed his eyes and opened his mind as wide as possible. He could hear the minds of the crew still aboard the ship, but they were beginning to fade. It wouldn't be long until they were naught but a whisper.

But even a whisper might be too loud. He was trying to find one mind in an entire star system. Once clear of the crew's interference, the question became less 'Can I hear her over the din?' and more 'Can I hear her at all?'

Still, Evaad had to try.

"Distance from the Altai is now one million kilometers and still increasing," reported Taval. "We are on course for Alpha Remidian III." This planet was the closest of the ones they still had to investigate. Evaad understood that efforts were being made to eliminate more planets and moons from their list, but for now III was the best bet. It also helped that IV and II were both behind III from this angle. If she were on either of those, their Betazoid compass may yet work.

Evaad's eyes moved rapidly beneath closed lids. His senses reached out. For once he felt truly alone as his mind tried to grasp any other thoughts and failing to do so.

The shuttle flew at close to a quarter of the speed of light on an almost direct course for Alpha Remidian III. More than thirty minutes past before something pinged in Evaad's brain. Something vaguely familiar. He couldn't discern exactly what it was or where it came from, but he was beginning to fixate on it.

"Alter course," Evaad ordered. "Forty-five degrees towards the outer system." He hoped that by adjusting the ship's direction relative to that which he tracked, it might help refine his sense of where it was. What surprised him was how well it worked. A few things became immediately clear. First, that which he sensed was real, and in a fixed point far from him. Second, it wasn't on Alpha Remidian III. It was definitely further away, and the angle was wrong.

Eyes still closed, the Betazoid switched on the comm system. "Altai, Lhotse. I have a lead. We're doing an in-system jump to confirm. Stand by."

"Mr. Taval, plot a course that keeps us clear of any anomalies, in this general direction, and bring us to Warp two for twenty seconds. Engage when ready."

The Vulcan complied, and a few seconds later, Evaad's senses roiled as he lost his connection to the signal. Twenty seconds later, they dropped out of warp, sixty million kilometers closer to Alpha Remidian IV. III was now behind them.

It didn't take Evaad long to reconnect his mind to whom he was tracking. This time it was stronger connection, and the direction was much more clear.

A voice came across the comm system. "Find anything yet, Lieutenant?" It was the voice of the Captain. It was distracting, but he managed to keep hold of his quarry.

"I have something, Captain," he replied. "Alpha Remidian IV. Give me just a moment."

The shuttle continued closing the gap at high impulse. And with every passing kilometer, Evaad felt more and more confident that this was the missing team. Time for a test.

Doctor Franze?

His mind practically yelled the message, and this ordeal was starting to drain him, but he knew that whatever he sensed on the planet received his signal.

Seconds ticked away, until...

Yes? Who is this?

Doctor, my name is Lieutenant Hessen, with the USS Altai. We've been having difficulty locating you, but help is on the way. Please stand by.

"Captain," Evaad said aloud. "I've made contact. Alpha Remidian IV confirmed. Repeat, Alpha Remidian IV confirmed. I'll try to get your their status momentarily."


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