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We Need To Talk

Posted on Tue Dec 11th, 2018 @ 11:01pm by Captain Osegan Trenna & Ensign Geoff Martinsen & Lieutenant Commander Arthur Talbot & Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Batchelder & Lieutenant T'merron & Lieutenant Evaad Hessen & Lieutenant JG Kemm Talu & Senior Chief Petty Officer Ryland Dedeker & Ensign Nandi Chakma

Mission: Light is Dark
Location: Bridge
Timeline: MD 05 | 1215

Geoff left the meeting and returned to the bridge, the Yellow Alert lights casting an atypical hue on the room. That the Starfleet Office of Personnel Management hadn't yet assigned a department head for Operations nor a senior flight control officer was surprising to Martinsen, but he was reaping the benefits. The vacancies meant that he got more time on the bridge, at both consoles. For now, he relieved the young Bolian at the conn.

It wasn't until he got situated that he realized that the Captain hadn't followed them.

Nandi took a circumspect route to the Science console by way of the helm. Her fretful eyes were transfixed on the view screen which showed the pulsar they were here to study as well as the starfield beyond. "What now?" she whispered over her shoulder to Geoff, having paused long enough for a brief exchange. "I feel like this whole mission has fallen way off track."

"Huh?" Martinsen said at the hushed comment. While this mission wasn't going as smooth as he had hoped, it wasn't that bad. Yes, there was an unknown alien vessel hiding out there. And yes, two members of the senior staff had literally come to blows. So now, the heads of the two departments most in need were under lock and key. "Oh," he muttered quietly. "I see what you mean."

Jon stepped out of the conference room, quietly making his way to the Engineering station, and sat down, observing the goings on quietly, and making the necessary adjustments to the sensors that had been requested. It likely would have been more easily accomplished locally, but he wasn't about to miss this opportunity to see what unfolded.

Artie was about to take his own station before he realized that the Captain hadn't followed them out onto the bridge. He mentally sighed, knowing that this mission was taking more of a toll on the crew than one could have anticipated. A quick survey of the bridge told him that an air of uncertainty and apprehension had enveloped the crew, especially with the recent discovery near the pulsar. "Helm," he called out, trying to give the crew something to do for a bit, "increase our orbit of the pulsar by ten thousand kilometers. Ensign Chakma, let's see if we can adjust our sensors to get a fix on the unknown vessel."

Complying with Talbot's instruction, Geoff eased the Altai into a wider orbit.

"I have sensors locked on the coordinates that we last detected the unidentified vessel, but there's nothing to show for it." Nandi ran her fingers over the Science console. "Preparing phased ionic pulse. Should be ready in a few moments."

Trenna finally walked out from the briefing room. It had taken her about ten minutes to come to a decision. "Osegan to T'merron. Please escort Lieutenant Kemm to the bridge," she stated as she approached her seat in the middle of the room.

"On my way" the Vulcan Lieutenant replied via the comm system.

Looking at her Executive Officer, Trenna asked him quietly, "Is Dedeker able to return to duty, even temporarily?"

Artie didn't reply immediately. The twelve-hour period he'd given the Chief had expired, but he hadn't yet the chance to go down to the NCO's quarters to continue the endeavor. "I hadn't yet cleared him for duty. However, if you feel we need our best gunner at the controls, I'm sure I can arrange it."

"I'd like to be prepared, in case our 'friends' out there turn out to be less than friendly. But I also don't want to place this ship in danger by having him on duty," she explained. "What is your recommendation?"

He took a moment more to consider it. "Dedeker really is our best option, but I'll need a few minutes to make the arrangements."

"If you think he's capable of behaving appropriately, get him up here. Keep in mind that Kemm will be here too." She didn't want another incident like before. "Be sure about this: it won't reflect well on you if you're wrong."

Artie gulped, realizing how true the Captain's statement was. It would certainly be easy to leave Dedeker out of this, but if this situation turned sour, there would be a lot he'd have to answer to as to why their best tactician was not at the controls. "Understood," Artie stated. He rose a second later, straightened his uniform, and left the bridge.

Settling down into her chair, the Bajoran woman took a deep breath. "Once Lieutenant Kemm and Mister Dedeker have joined us," she announced to those on the bridge, "we will be attempting to contact a vessel that Commander Batchelder's team found. The ship seems to be operating with some sort of cloaking technology." She looked around the room. "We don't know who's on that ship. Or if they're hostile. However, they haven't taken any aggressive action, that we know of. They might not respond to out attempts at contact. If that happens, we will continue with our mission to catalog the pulsar."

The Vulcan Security Officer took Kemm by the arm and made her way onto the bridge, she was ready to take action if need be. Her phaser remained hulstered, but she was quick.

Nandi cut short a gasp when she saw Kemm enter the bridge. If there were Brahman in the universe, then the lieutenant would relieve her

Kemm tried to hide the amusement in his face as he was led onto the bridge. While he understood the need for confining him to quarters, he had found the ship's security to be...overzealous in their execution of the order. Not to mention the political ploy he dealt with during his time in the brig.

Regardless, if the Captain summoned him before he was cleared for duty, it meant that something must have gone wrong. As such, Kemm cleared the thoughts of his own situation from his head and prepared to work.

"Reporting as ordered, Captain," Kemm said. "How can I help?"

"There's a hidden ship out there and we're going to try to contact it," Trenna informed the Bajoran scientist. "I want you at your station for this. Ensign Chakma can get you up to speed."

Nandi felt startled at the mention of her name. Perhaps it had been too much to hope that her part in this tense situation was over. "Well, Lieutenant, you can read the details in my field notes," she said as she handed him the PADD she kept to the side of her station, "but suffice to say that we obtained an image of the cloaked vessel through a resonance pulse on the runabout, and have prepared a phased ionic pulse now to potentially disable their cloaking and their sensor jamming technology in one fell swoop -- if my theory is correct."

Walking up to the science station, Kemm gave as reassuring smile he could manage. "Very good, ensign," he said. "Walk me through it."

Artie exited the turbolift, the pressure of the situation weighing heavily on his shoulders. By all rights and purposes, Dedeker needed to be left alone until they could deal with the fallout from the day before appropriately. However, it was certainly possible the ship was in danger. The Altai had a small crew, and its Tactical department was rather small. Artie had limited knowledge of the rest of the department, and it was no secret that Dedeker had the necessary qualifications for whatever might occur in the next few minutes.

It was that reason, therefore, that he stopped in front of the Chief's quarters and tapped the announcer chime. Hopefully, just hopefully, this would go smoothly.

The last few hours had been rather depressing. Ryland had recently showered, thanks to his drunken night of forgotten splendor with Mags. Come to think of it, he still wasn't sure what happened then and there, but it was sheer delight to watch her run away screaming. That spark of schadenfreude quickly faded, though, as he had been left alone with his thoughts and--if he were honest--failures.

Though the chime startled him at first, its meaning didn't immediately register. "Oh... um. Come in!"

As he called out, though, he took note of his half-naked self. He immediately ran to his bedroom before he could be fully exposed to the outside corridor.

Artie entered the cabin, a bit unsure of what he would find when he stepped inside. The main room was empty, and only for a split second did he think that Ryland had somehow slipped out. That concern evaporated quickly when he heard a noise from a back room. "Chief?" he called out.

"Be out in a minute," Ryland called out. "Just assumin' my drawers."

In a moment, Ryland trotted out in a duty uniform. It was pressed, though his hair was unkempt like the stubble on his face. "Senior Chief Ryland Dedeker reportin' for duty, sir." He clicked his heels together and fought his best to ignore the awkward moment.

Artie looked the man over as he too thought the moment was awkward. In a way, Artie was impressed by the Senior Chief. The man before him either was not the same man he confronted the night before, or just a man determined to do as he promised, lay low until an opportunity to leave presented itself. "We might have a situation," Artie stated plainly, sidestepping their already delayed discussion. "A few hours ago, we dispatched a runabout to take a closer look at the pulsar. They detected a cloaked vessel, hiding in some electromagnetic radiation. We don't know yet if they are hostile."

"Want me to take a runabout out and get a closer peek?" Ryland asked. Even with the tinge of a hangover, he had no doubt in his ability to fly and fire a runabout at the same time. "You can even come with and play peacemaker." He wriggled his eyebrows as he added, "Just like on Bardeezi, yeah?"

The XO did his best to fight a grimace. The last thing anyone here wanted was another Bardeezi, but as far as Artie knew, there weren't any politicians or administrators with a hidden agenda. "We're not even sure what's out there, but you'd have to ask the captain about taking another runabout. For now, we're needing you at tactical, in case whoever out there has hostile intent."

"Good enough." Ryland spat into the palms of his hands and ran them through his hair. Not exactly combed, but the effect looked better than the bedhead from a moment ago. "What are we waiting for, Art? Let's go shoot some fuckers!" His left eye winked in jest. "Or not. Lead the way!"

"Hold on," Artie said, holding up a hand as if to stop the rebellious tactical chief from shooting out the door, even though he hadn't moved. "Lieutenant Kemm is being escorted to the bridge as well. Are you going to be able to restrain yourself and prevent another episode like the other morning?"

Ryland flinched at the question, but he soon covered it with a cocksure grin. "Oh, I think that pusshole had his fill last time around." He chuckled a bit before straightening up and clearing his throat. "Seriously, though, Commander. You can count on me."

Artie took a moment, sizing up Ryland once more. If this went south, Artie would have no choice but to take full responsibility for the matter. He just hoped he wasn't wrong. "All right, then," he said, nodding his head towards the door. "Let's go, Chief." Out in the hallway, as he led the way to the turbolift, he added, "When this is all over, you and I will still have to have our conversation. Personally, I hope your services aren't needed. Not because I don't like you, but I have a feeling whatever's out there seems to have been there for a while, and hasn't done anything."

"It's just us, Commander," Ryland said, falling in step with Artie. "Be honest. You just missed having my handsome face around."

The first officer grunted softly and shook his head as they completed the rather short journey to the turbolift. "Just see that it doesn't get bloodied this time."

The turbolift doors opened, and Artie stepped first out onto the bridge. He wouldn't go too far until Chief Dedeker took his station. Artie did glance quickly over to Lieutenant Kemm to catch an early reaction, if there would be one. The Bajoran was practicing an indifference that was a little too obvious.

Ryland went to his station and relieved the Security officer who had been there. Seriously? Most of the Tactical department consisted of maintenance workers on loan from Engineering, but would it have killed them to send a torpedo bay chief up here instead of sticking the first yellow-shirt with a phaser on his station? Oh well. At least he was back. As he signed on and ran through the familiar weapons systems checks, he met the eye of everyone staring at him and favored them with a silent wink.

As everyone assumed their usual positions, Trenna watched both Dedeker and Kemm. There was always a chance that things would come to blows again, but she was fairly confident that Kemm wasn't going to be the one to swing first. This time.

With everyone settled, Osegan stood and walked forward towards the viewscreen. "Open a hailing frequency," she directed.

"Captain," Geoff called out from the helm, "something's dropping out of warp." The last thing we need now is another enemy ship, Martinsen thought.

"On-screen," Osegan ordered. The large screen switched to a visual of a Federation shuttle. "What the hell! Put me through to...whoever that is."

A middle-aged human woman at the Ops station tapped on her console. "You're on."

"Federation shuttlecraft, this is Captain Osegan Trenna. Respond."

Evaad Hessen had moved to the cockpit of the shuttle and sat alongside his pilot. The pilot began to say "Sir? The Altai is--"

"Hailing us," Evaad finished the young man's sentence. "And more urgently than you thought they might. As if they weren't expecting us." The pilot squirmed a bit, uncomfortable at having his thoughts read out. Evaad pushed the feeling aside. "They probably weren't told we were coming. Open a channel." After a couple of button presses, Evaad began "This is Shuttlecraft Moore, assigned to Deep Space Nine. Last-minute personnel transfer. New Chief Operations Officer Evaad Hessen reporting for duty. Requesting clearance to land, allow me to disembark, and allow the shuttle to return to the wormhole."

Trenna shot Talbot a look. This was not the first time that an unexpected crew transfer had happened on this mission. "Granted," she said before signalling for the channel to be closed. "Sorry to run you around so much," she said, leaning in towards her XO, "but can you head down there to greet the lieutenant?"

Artie frowned. It wasn't so much the surprise that worried him, but the fact that their guests had to be watching them closely, and now there were two shuttles from other locations sitting in the Altai's crowded shuttlebay. And the fact that Starfleet hadn't warned them two senior officers had been dispatched without orders being transmitted to the ship was a bit disconcerting as well. "Certainly," he told the Captain.

The XO stood up and made a beeline for the turbolift. "Commander Batchelder, let's figure out if there's something wrong with that damned transceiver!" Artie wanted to know if those orders were transmitted and they just weren't received, and if the transceiver would function properly for whenever they dared to hail the alien ship.

Jon stood, and made his way toward the turbolift, replying, "I'll go down and take a look. Either someone is flinging shuttles at us for no good reason, or those people out there are jamming our signal. Either way, I'll get it fixed."

Osegan didn't respond verbally, only giving Batchelder a simple nod of her head. While she appreciated that her senior staff was rounding out, a little heads up about incoming arrivals would have been nice. Especially in light of the situation they found themselves in presently.

The Shuttlecraft Moore gracefully landed in Altai's shuttlebay, and Evaad began to sense the conflicting thoughts of the nearby crew. This wasn't the first time a shuttle had dropped off a new senior staff member in recent weeks, possibly even days. Another pilot was anxiously awaiting clearance to return home. The sense was that the Moore's pilot would be stuck for a few days as well.

The shuttlebay crew didn't know much. There was tension and stress bubbling off of everyone. They didn't feel safe.

As they set down, a more serious mind came into focus. Someone senior -- someone who knew something about the situation -- was approaching the shuttlebay. Not the Captain; those tend to register in a specific way. The First Officer? Or someone of similar stature, at least.

Evaad got up from the copilot's seat, grabbed his bag containing his personal effects and the PADD containing his orders, and exited as the egress hatch opened.

A man taller than Evaad wearing red came up to him. "Lieutenant Commander Talbot. But you prefer Artie."

Artie raised an eyebrow at the new arrival. Judging by the man's darker eyes, he assumed that Hessen was Betazoid. Though, what was currently most troubling to Artie was that he hadn't even thought about suggesting that he preferred to be called something different. "On duty, it's always Commander Talbot," he replied. "You caught us by surprise, Lieutenant. We hadn't--"

"To answer your first question, I don't know why you hadn't heard I was coming," said Evaad, interrupting his new superior officer, "except maybe that it was a last-minute decision. And I apologize; I can't turn it off." He handed the XO a PADD. "That contains my orders, as well as some notes from my counselors, ordering certain accommodations. Nothing serious and nothing I can't handle myself."

Artie frowned, his usual jovial nature souring by the second. He accepted the padd, but did not review it. "Whether you can turn it off or not is not my problem, Lieutenant." He fought back a sigh in order to maintain his steely visage despite of how far it was out of character for him. The ship already had two senior officers that liked to play by their own book. Artie wasn't sure if the Altai could handle another. "On duty, you'll let myself or the Captain finish our sentences before finishing them for us. But we can continue that in a minute."

The XO hurried around to the back of the shuttle in order to speak to the pilot. "Pilot!" he shouted up the shuttlecraft. "Power down the engines. We're maintaining yellow alert. Command is not authorizing any shuttles to depart as you may be in danger."

"Understood, sir," said Evaad, lowering his gaze to the floor. He knew his way was off-putting, which is why he preferred the company of those he was blind to. He closed his eyes a moment to centre himself, took a sharp breath in. The least Starfleet could've done was warn them I was coming, he thought to himself, being careful not to project it. They're annoyed because we put people at risk. And because I'm annoying him. He stayed quiet, awaiting the next order or question from Talbot to be said aloud, even though he began picking it up right away.

"With me, Lieutenant," Artie gestured for Hessen to follow him out of the shuttlebay. He also waved over an enlisted operations crewman, intending for the crewman to take Hessen's personal effects so that both officers could head straight for the bridge. "As unexpected as you were, it seems you showed up in the nick of time. You might not be able to turn it off, but is there a range on that Betazoid mind of yours?"

Evaad followed his new XO. "Depends, sir. Thirty or forty meters if I'm not consciously aware of everyone in my surroundings. So I'll hear people in adjacent quarters as if they were talking and there were no walls, but we've never measured it. If I am consciously aware of them, because they're on the comms or a viewscreen, then much further. I can sense the thoughts of the captain of another ship when he or she is on the viewscreen, but I can't hear the chief engineer of that other ship. For example. Unless I focus really hard."

Artie nodded, stopping in front of a turbolift alcove. As seemed to be customary aboard the ship as of late, there was not a car waiting, leaving Artie to thumb the control panel to call for transport.

"The more people there are," added Evaad, "the more blurry it becomes, too. Twenty people at a party is just deafening cacophony."

A whirr could be heard behind the closed doors, opening at last to reveal a car ready to take the duo to the bridge. Artie stepped inside and tapped the control that would take them to the bridge.

Hessen followed the cue and stepped in as well. He turned around and looked back at the door, not making eye contact with his superior.

With the turbolift now in motion, Artie was free to disclose what had transpired. "We've been studying this pulsar for the last few days, all the while dealing with some unusual interference from the other side of the pulsar. We sent a runabout to investigate, and we picked up on a cloaked ship. It's not Romulan; in fact, we have no idea who or what they are."

"I didn't think there were any local powers with that technology," Evaad said. "If it isn't a Romulan device, then it probably wasn't salvaged after Omarion. An Alpha Quadrant power might be trading technology. Or some new faction developed the technology indigenously. Without studying it further we can't be sure."

"We're going to get our first chance here in a bit," Artie stated. "The Captain plans on hailing the unknown vessel. What will happen after that, no one knows. We're not sure how long they've been out there, nor do we have any idea what they're doing there. The moment of truth will soon be upon us."

"With your permission," said Evaad, "I'll take the Ops Station. We'll deal with my accommodations once this is over."

Artie simply nodded this time, providing his confirmation in that manner. The turbolift slowed to a stop, opening its doors to reveal the bridge. "Captain," Artie stated, heading for the center of the bridge on his own. "Any developments?"

She didn't respond initially, watching Artie's turbolift companion approach Ops. "Well," she finally said, "they haven't opted to show themselves. Which means they haven't attacked us." Her shoulders shrugged with a deep breath. "But we don't know if they're even out there anymore, either."

He nodded, looking towards the viewscreen, which had been fixed on the alien's last known position. "What's the plan then?"

"We're going to try to contact them. Same as before." Trenna looked back to the science stations where both Kemm and Chakma were working. "Ready with that pulse, Ensign?"

"Ready and waiting, ma'am." Nandi fought back a gulp. Kemm or no Kemm, evidently this was to be her show.

Artie tapped his badge, knowing there was one final thing to check before proceeding. "Bridge to Engineering. What's the status report on the transceiver?"

"The isolinear circuit for the long-range is completely shot, Art...eeuuuuh, Commander," Batchelder's reply came, the second word being an emphatic grunt followed by a loud clanging sound. "We're fine in the short range so feel free to use that, but that's all we've got. It'll take some...Johansen, bring me that circuit, and get the rest of this junk out of my tube! Sorry. It'll take some digging to figure out exactly what happened, but my guess is the component took a blast of radiation from the pulsar. I'm getting it replaced with a rad-shielded one but...I will diplomatically say that whoever decided to put the primary access to the transceiver in this particular Jeffries tube should go back to the Academy and take a biology lesson. Give me about half an hour and we'll have long-range comms again. Batchelder out."

Trenna looked at Talbot as he had been overseeing the recent refit. She opted not to say anything, though, since Artie's work had really just been the warp systems. Instead, she turned to address Dedeker. "Be ready in case this gets ugly," she instructed the tactical chief. "But wait for an order from Talbot or myself."

"Weapons are hot, Cap," Ryland said, quickly adding, "-tain."

"Lieutenant Hessen, open a channel."

Evaad rapped a few keys on his console. “Channel open, sir,” he said. He could sense the tension on the bridge.

"This is Captain Osegan Trenna of the USS Altai. We mean you no harm," she stated firmly.

After a moment, she looked around the bridge. How long before they respond? Will they respond? What if they don't have a way to translate the message to their language? These were the questions that shot through her head. "Put that on repeat, Lieutenant Hessen. Let's give them a little time."

"Message is on repeat, Captain," Evaad replied. He couldn't feel anything off the ship yet, but he knew they were far and ambiguous: a ship potentially full of crew or not. Once a channel was established, he wouldn't be able to stop hearing those whom his brain actualized. He did not look forward to it.

Nothing to do but wait.


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