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Twinkle

Posted on Sun Sep 12th, 2021 @ 11:25pm by Captain Osegan Trenna & Ensign Geoff Martinsen & Petty Officer 1st Class Finnegan Siosifa & Lieutenant Commander Arthur Talbot & Lieutenant Evaad Hessen & Lieutenant Praxalin Chromis & Lieutenant JG Carri OZiah

Mission: Beacon
Location: Bridge
Timeline: Mission Day 4 at 1030

The Altai is fun to fly, Geoff thought as he started to slow the ship down. They had gotten a bit delayed when he had needed to alter course to go around an unusual patch of subspace eddies. Fortunately, Martinsen had been able to find some efficiencies and managed to recoup most of the lost time.

Looking over his shoulder, the helmsman saw that Talbot was in the center seat. "Commander, we're closing in on the Quimalia system."

"Passive sensors are set to maximum sensitivity, all active scanners are in safe mode. So we should not be announcing ourselves unduly. Currently, those same passive sensors are collaborating the historic data from the survey, nothing to report as of yet," Chromis said from the science station, his clawed fingertips click-clacking against the LCAR's pane before him.

“All internal systems nominal,” Evaad reported. “Non-essential systems have been powered down; it should take a lot of effort to find us.”

Artie straightened his posture. There was no need to call the Captain just yet, especially since there was nothing new to report. "Mister Chromis, status on our probe? Are we ready to launch?"

"We are indeed, and we are set up to capture the data once the probes have transited the system. The course we are now on is within three meters of our optimal launch corridor, a most excellent bit of helmsmanship from Ensign Martinsen. Though of course the work done by Lieutenant Hessan's crew in modifying the probe software aided in the speed by which we have prepared for this..." Chromis ground to a halt, his crest drooping a little. "Sorry, got a little carried away there. We are good to launch upon your order Captain."

"No need to apologize, Lieutenant," Artie said, thankful that he took a moment to praise the team. After all this crew had been through, a little praise was well-deserved. "The order is given. Let's get our eyes and ears out there."

"Probes are away...they have accelerated to their desired transit velocities," Chromis smiled. "Fantastic work on the part of Lieutenant Hessens officers. These are truly remarkable devices."

Sensing only sincerity in Prax’s statements, Evaad smiled to himself as he worked.

Looking at his console, Martinsen smiled seeing the probes' paths. "Trajectories look good," he chimed in excitedly.

"Let me know the moment we pick up anything," Artie cautioned. "And I mean anything. Starfleet may have been here once before, so we have little to compare our telemetry to. Let's get multiple eyes on this too. Helm, adjust our heading and speed to take us to our insertion point."

Nodding his confirmation, Geoff made the necessary adjustments.

===[Deck 4]===

Carri was on rounds , with security somewhat quiet she had a strange feeling something was gonna happen

===[Outside]===

As the Altai glided through space, several objects raced towards the probes. They went unnoticed, being undetectable by Federation sensors. Moving at high sublight speeds, they impacted with their targets, tearing through the probes reducing them to small debris.

===[Bridge]===

"All contact with the probes have been lost," Prax said, the crest of feathers atop his head rising slightly in alarm. His claw tips clicked and clacked against the LCAR's display panel. "Simultaneous loss of signal according to the log's to within half a second. But not in a manner that would denote jamming. I'm not detecting any subspace or real space anomalies apart from the natural crimping around the ship caused by the inertial compensators."

"Lost!?" Artie sprang up from his chair and crossed the bridge to Praxalin's station to confirm the results with his own eyes. "What was their position at the moment we lost contact?"

"They'd just passed through the heliopause of the system, the bubble of charged particles that build up on the outskirts of the system where interstellar forces push back against the solar wind. I'd hypothesis that the probes picked up a minute charge from passing through it, enough to be detectable. Though the sensitivity needed is staggering over anything other than close proximity," Praxalin said, stepping aside to allow Artie to look over the control.

Geoff nervously watched the navigational sensor readings on his console. Without knowing what made the probes go silent, he, as usual, assumed the worst. Like Jem'Hadar. Or Breen. Or maybe a changeling had infiltrated the crew and had sabotaged the probes. Maybe it was Section 31, out to get the Altai or Captain Osegan. The Tholians didn't have a presence in the Gamma Quadrant, at least not one that the Federation knew about, so it could have been them. He broke out in a cold sweat, thinking of all of the possible causes and how that spelled certain impending doom for the ship.

From Ops, Evaad sent a quick message to Geoff’s console. I don’t think it’s any of those latter ones, Ensign.

"If I might Captain, I'd like to focus the ship's passive sensors on the probes last few seconds of flight. If they were struck by a physical object moving at relativistic speeds the impact would be highly energetic. That signature might give a clue as to the direction they came from." the Kenki said helpfully.

"I'm just a Lieutenant Commander, Lieutenant," Artie reminded with a coy smile. "But please, adjust the sensors. We may need to adjust our course to intercept."

“Diverting power to passive sensor suite,” said Evaad. “Calibrating for energy spikes and artificial construction materials.” He looked over to Praxalin and Arthur. “The probes were programmed to take the necessary evasive action to avoid impacting asteroids or any other rocky material. If something were pursuing them though, then the probes would probably fail to dodge them. As artificial alloys look blatantly different from rocks in sensor readouts, I believe we should calibrate to detect such alloys, whether from our probes or whatever disabled them. If anything.”

"Agreed," Prax said, deftly manipulating the controls with delicate keystrokes. "I have clear readings on the points of impact. High-intensity gamma-ray bursts suggest a relativistic impactor coming from within the system. The probes wouldn't have had the time or chance to evade. It would be like trying to dodge a bullet whilst being shot towards the same bullet."

"Strange," remarked Artie, taking a look at the readouts for himself. "Any theories as to the cause?" Naturally, Artie had a theory of his own, but this was not the time to jump to conclusions, especially since the Altai was traveling on its own trajectory away from the probes. Any change of course now would be suspicious, should they already be tracked by an alien source.

Still, without waiting for an answer, he tapped his combadge. "Captain to the bridge."

"A single impactor might be thought of as a chance event, some fragment of planetary formation that has been traveling that fast for eons. All seven probes at once is not a scientifically practical event for random chance," Prax said, refining his scan results. His crest of feathers rose sharply like a ship taking the wind in its sails. "From the backscatter of gamma rays, I can determine that the impactors came from within the system, with courses that would have seen them impact the local star. High likelihood they were kinetic kill vehicles."

Artie possessed a fine technical mind, thanks to his years as a warp theorist, but even he had trouble keeping up with the scientist's analysis of the situation. If he thought he understood what the Lieutenant was saying, then only confirmed the worst possible theory he had. "Can you repeat that, Lieutenant, but in simpler terms?"

Prax's crest lowered slightly, and he glanced down at his commbadge to make sure it was still affixed to his uniform.

"The probes were shot down by artificial means, most likely a solid ultra-dense projectile," Prax said in a calm voice to ensure understanding. "I can't really break it down further than that, my apologies capt-...Lieutenant Ciommander."

Artie shook his head. "Never apologize for being one of the brightest in the room, Lieutenant. That's why Starfleet gave you a commission. For now, I believe this almost confirms our worst suspicions. Tactical, yellow alert. Mister Chromis, I need the best your passive sensors can give me."

"Yes Sir, though I would warn you that without active sensors we are just as susceptible to the projectiles that destroyed the probes. We won't see them until after we hit them, unless we're fortunate enough to have one occlude a star for a moment," Chromis explained.

Carri was going to check in with Lt Nunez to see what's going on security-wise.

===[Deck 4]===

PO1 Finnegan Siosifa was heading back to his quarters to get ready for his shift. He'd woken up in Yahanna's quarters and they'd had a lazy morning in. As he sauntered down the corridor, he hummed an unrecognizable tune.

The sound of an annular containment beam filled the corridor with a whine. Finn stopped in his tracks and looked around, trying to identify the source. On the floor behind him was a small box. Not being an idiot, Finn didn't reach out to touch it; that sort of behavior had been the end of so many security officers throughout the history of Starfleet.

Unfortunately for the large Polynesian, he didn't see the bolt of energy that struck him, rendering him motionless. Frozen in place, Siosifa watched a small figure bound down the corridor. He couldn't give chase. He couldn't notify anyone.

===[Bridge]===

"Internal sensors have registered a transporter signal inside the ship, external origin point," Prax said. "We've been boarded."

Artie cursed under his breath. The whole point of coming in quiet was to avoid detection, but obviously, they were past that point now. "All stations, red alert." The Executive Officer, who just happened to be close to the weapons locker, opened it and began to distribute weapons to the bridge officers. "Mister Hessen, do you sense our intruder anywhere?"

"Report," Trenna called out, striding onto the Bridge from her office. The sight of her XO handing out phasers was unexpected. "Unwanted visitors, Commander?"

"Sensors detected a transporter signature," Artie confirmed, handing a phaser to the Captain. "We're trying to pinpoint the location now. Also, we've lost contact with the probes. We believe they were destroyed."

"Sensors are now inactive scanning mode, multiple wavelengths, and point sources," Prax said limply, looking at the phaser the commander had handed him. Its smart grip adjusted to match his four fingers, making it sit right in between his digits. It felt incredibly heavy, like a lump of depleted uranium.

And like that toxic substance, Chromis wanted to throw it as far from him as possible. But he resisted the urge, instead of focusing on the sensor readings.

"Beam in the site was in the crew berthing deck, port side. Deck...somewhere between 3 and 4. I'm sorry but the aim point was either very high on deck four or very low on deck three." Prax explained.

"Seal off that deck!" Artie ordered. "Dispatch security teams to patrol section by section until the intruder is found."

Osegan walked up to the science console. "Figure out what got those probes, Mister Chromis. Mister Hessen, someone's got to be out there. Find me something."

"If we work together I think we will come to an answer more swiftly," Chromis manipulated his controls and sent to Hessen's display a hurried summary of his findings. "That's the backtrace for the projected path the impactors took before hitting the probes. As you can see there is a large degree of error correction, but the bubble of space in which all of them overlap is comparably small."

Comparable to, say, a solar system. And yet still trillions of miles in volume.

"If we focus our sensors there, where we know something was, we might find evidence to seek it out now," Chromis was multitasking, trying to pin down with the sensor logs the primary energizer point of the transporter beam. Deconstructing an object, converting it into energy from mass took power on the order of stellar events: the fact the Federation had machines that could do this 'simply' was awe-inspiring. And terrifying, but that was another thought for another time.

Though it felt like ten minutes had transpired, Trenna knew rationally that it had been merely seconds. But that knowledge didn't dampen her urgency. "What are you finding?" she asked of the Chief Science Officer.

"That there is something out there. The shots that took out the probes all trace back into the system. and converge at a point that our sensors are detecting optical occlusion of background stars. But sensors aren't picking up a ship, power signatures, or even the energy signature of matter moving at sunlight speeds impact with the interstellar medium. Either we're hunting a sentient monopole blackhole that can aim its accretion disk, or there is someone in this system that takes privacy and trespassing very seriously," Chromis stated. "I'd suggest firing a photon torpedo at the maximum yield to use the gamma flash from its detonation as a detection method, but such a method would look like a hostile act."

"Hold that thought, Mister Chromis," Osegan said. "I'm not ready to risk pissing off whoever might be out there. Yet."

She looked towards Ops. "Anything yet, Lieutenant?"

“Negative,” reported Evaad. “Whatever is hiding in there is hiding very well. I’m also not picking up foreign minds, either aboard or nearby, but I wouldn’t pick up anything in the system unless we get closer.”

"How much closer?" Geoff asked, surprising himself. He had no interest in getting deeper in a potentially dangerous situation, but he also was curious about what had happened to the probes.

“Closer than any of us would prefer, Ensign,” he replied. “Captain, I agree with Mr. Chromis’s suggestion. At this stage, if there is someone or something aboard, then I would argue we have already ‘pissed off’ whomever is in this system. We can configure the torpedo for maximum flash and minimal concussive force so nothing nearby is damaged.”

"I already have the blast pattern plotted for maximum coverage of a 90-degree cone ahead of us out to one light second. Anything caught between us and the detonating flash will be illuminated in both visible lights as well as ultra and infared. Not to mention the gamma flash," Chromis said, not looking up from his console until he hit the transmit key, beaming the firing solution to the targeting computer. "Right now we know where they were, and I've narrowed down the space they can be. But the longer we wait the more that search area grows exponentially."

"Fair enough, Lieutenant," Trenna said. "Fire when ready."

Geoff looked up as the turbolift doors opened and a two person security team entered the Bridge. As the doors closed, he thought he saw....something...someone, even, standing in the liftcar. A moment later, the liftcar, and the being in it, were gone.

"Did anyone else see that?"

Artie, who'd returned to his usual seat during the information exchange between the Captain and two senior officers, had also glanced up when the security team entered the bridge. But it had only been a glance, one that ended the moment he recognized the armed team.

"It's just the security team assigned to keep the bridge secure, Ensign," Artie assured. He still wasn't sure what he was more concerned about, the still-unexplained loss of their probes, or that their defense had been so easily overridden.

Martinsen sighed. Clearly Talbot hadn't seen it. He turned back to his console and stared at the controls. After a few moments, he swiveled his chair back towards the center of the Bridge. "No Commander," he said firmly. "There was something else in the turbolift. Someone else."

Artie raised an eyebrow as he swung around to the turbolift doors. The doors were still closed, but it was very likely the turbolift car was still there. The system was programmed to leave a liftcar at the bridge at all times, unless both shafts were in use. "Computer, seal off turboshaft one and isolate the most recently used liftcar to the bridge with forcefields."

Looking over to Lieutenant Hessen, he asked, "Mister Hessen, do you feel anyone out there?"

“Negative, Commander,” Evaad answered. “As far as I can tell, the lift is empty.”

"If it helps allay any fears, I didn't smell anything," Chromis chirped. "Though, to be fair, the air is some what thick with threat response hormones from a half dozen mammalian species."

“As well as the psi patterns of much of the crew,” added Evaad, nodding at Chromis.

Maybe it was nothing, Geoff thought. It wouldn't be the first time he'd spooked himself. He looked back down at his console, drumming his fingers on the surface.

"No!" he said, spinning back around in his chair. "I know I saw something!"

The outburst was enough to draw Osegan into the fray. "Stand down, Ensign," she directed.

"Why won't you listen to me?" Martinsen shouted.

The Bajoran Captain had had enough. "Shut it, Mister! Man your station or I'll have you removed from the Bridge." She motioned over her shoulder at the security team who's arrival had brought on this incident.

Geoff was about to say something else, but, finally, thought better of it and remained silent.

It lasted only a moment.

"Permission to leave the Bridge, Captain?" the young pilot asked, standing from the flight control console and facing Osegan.

"Get off my Bridge," Trenna replied.

Martinsen walked to the turbolift and boarded the car. As the doors closed, Trenna looked at Talbot. "Remove him from the duty rotation and get someone else up here."

Artie wasn't sure what surprised him more. Ensign Martinsen's outburst, or the Captain's sudden removal of the Ensign and barring from all responsibilities. Ensign Martinsen had proven himself more than capable in the prior weeks. This was, however, seemingly growing more and more into a combat situation, and this was certainly not the time to question the Captain's orders.

"Aye, Captain," Artie quickly stated as he moved to occupy the helm until a relief officer came to the bridge. He tapped his combadge as he walked, "Ensign T'Kuva to the bridge." As soon as he sat down, Artie quickly familiarized himself with the control layout and accessed the duty roster to remove Martinsen.

“Distraction aside, we remain ready to fire the torpedo flare,” Evaad noted.

"Proceed, Lieutenant."

A small figure appeared near the viewscreen, without a sound. Before anyone could react, a beam of energy lanced out and struck the flight control console. The console exploded, allowing the figure to disappear in the commotion.

===[Deck 4]===

Carri tapped her comm badge "Lt Nunez what's going on Security-wise." she said as she kept walking.

In the security office, Crewman Aaron Wilson was on duty when the security request came in. He jumped up, grabbed his phaser, and sprinted away. As he headed down the corridor, he saw one of the new transfers, a Bajoran woman. "Lieutenant," Wilson said as he approached, "We've got an intruder! You coming?"

Carri looked at the Crewman ," A What..." she said as she grabbed her phaser and followed the crewman to find the intruder, then Carri yelled to the crewman. "Where was the intruder last do you know?"

"This way. We don't know exactly where," Aaron explained, still jogging.

They continued down the corridor. As they approached the next junction, a small figure bounded into view. Aaron lifted his phaser and took aim. He snapped off a shot, but the figure disappeared, leaving the phaser beam to dissipate as it hit the bulkhead.

"Where did it go?" the crewman asked. "It just vanished."

Carri looked with him, "you just shot and it vanished, we may have to check other parts of the ship to find it." Carri said.

"What do you want to do, sir?" Wilson asked.

Aaron was still looking at OZiah waiting for her response when the small figure appeared and shot the Bajoran security officer. The Crewman fired back, missing as the figure faded out of existence. Wilson looked at OZiah. She was frozen in place. "Intruder spotted on Deck Four, Section Twelve! Lieutenant OZiah has been shot," he announced after tapping his comm badge.

 

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