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Something's Not Right

Posted on 21 Sep 2016 @ 10:04am by Captain Harvey Geisler & Commander Thiago Teixeira & Lieutenant Commander Terry Walsh & Lieutenant Commander Temerant Bast & Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Lieutenant Commander Adam Casey & Lieutenant Jonathan Kilmartin & Lieutenant Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant Joey Geisler & Lieutenant Jarith Roshe & Lieutenant JG Samantha Lopez & Lieutenant JG Felix Langston & Lieutenant JG Catherine Cooper & Ensign Katniss Sutherland & Lieutenant Hannibal Owens & Lieutenant JG Ian Starkweather

Mission: Click Three Times
Location: USS Black Hawk || Auxiliary Control
Timeline: MD 7 || 1930 hours

The last three days had been the longest Harvey Geisler had ever experienced. Between searching for the Valdore, finding the Chimera, Cochrane and the Valdore, and dealing with repairs, Harvey had never been more happy to see the warp trails fly past the viewscreen. Life would soon be normal once again. Well, as normal as the Consortium would allow, but that would only last so much longer.

Gamma Shift had begun, and Harvey invited any of his Senior Staff to remain on the makeshift bridge until they were satisfied with their department's status. He'd even allowed himself to get lost in the reports that had piled up from the last few days. He chose to review these from his station in the room, rather than retreat elsewhere to review them. The best he figured, he still had another half hour before he turned over command to the officer of the watch. He was going to enjoy a good night's rest for once.

To say that the day had been long would have been an understatement and it had been all Camila could do to remain as calm as she could and allow Lieutenants Corwin and Cooper to be her arms and legs for Security and Tactical. Of course, she had had to be on the bridge when they had blown up the Chimera, but other than that, she had been in her office attempting to assess the flood of information that came in from her two Assistant Chiefs. Now the senior staff was invited to stay on the bridge when she put off going over reports until later.

Lieutenant Burke watched the displays on the Ops panel, and frowned. Something didn't add up, but he wasn't entirely sure what it was. He was reluctant to report something like this to his new commanding officer, a man he hardly knew - and who, up until less than a day ago, had been presented to him as a Consortium agent. But then, he reminded himself, that had been a lie. And regardless of the Captain's loyalties, Burke himself was still a Starfleet officer, duty-bound to obey his superiors.

"Captain," he spoke up, catching Geisler's attention. He opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again, not exactly sure what to say.

"Hmm?" Harvey asked, looking up from his station. Due to the configuration of the room, only his station, the helm and tactical were in the center of the room. The other stations were limited to wall consoles. "What is it, Lieutenant?" He asked.

"I'm not really sure," replied Burke, instantly regretting his decision to open his mouth.

He flipped through various reports on the Ops console, trying to find what it was that had seemed peculiar. Background radiation, subspace scans, warp trails, long-range --

Subspace scans.

He flipped back to the subspace scans. There was something there. Or rather, something that should be there, but wasn't.

"It could be nothing," he said. And it was true. This close to a subspace rift, anything could happen to disrupt a subspace scan. "But the pattern of the subspace background traffic is different from what we're used to seeing in the Gamma Quadrant."

He tapped a few keys to isolate specific bandwidths. "There's no traffic on Starfleet frequencies."

Harvey unnaturally raised an eyebrow. "I'd say send a transmission to Unity, but we're under radio silence until we return. Are you certain that there's nothing there?"

"I'm positive, Sir," replied Burke. He tapped a few commands and brought up a different diagram. "And even what we know of Dominion frequencies is showing a different pattern. There is something there on Dominion frequencies," he affirmed, "but the amount of subspace traffic is very different."

"Raise the Cochrane," he ordered. "See if Commander Teixeira is seeing what we're not seeing."




===[Bridge, USS Cochrane]===

Ian sat up straight in his chair. "Sir, said he to Teixeira, "something about space isn't right. For one thing, there is no Comm traffic on any channels and..." He checked his readings again to confirm. "I am reading a couple of vessels headed this way. I can't get a clear reading on them, but they don't appear to be friendly. And now, we're being raised by the Black Hawk. Hailing frequency open, Sir."

Thiago looked at Geisler's face on the viewscreen.

Harvey began to speak. =/\= "Black Hawk to Cochrane. We're picking up some strange readings. Are you seeing anything?" =/\=

"The lack of comm traffic, you mean?" the Brazilian Commander started. "We noticed. Also picked up some incoming ships."

Bast accessed the sensor readings, and observed the same things that Burke and Ian had seen. There was a total lack of subspace traffic on Federation frequencies. Even under radio silence, there would have been at least background chatter - probes relaying their data, subspace buoys advertising their presence, and Federation merchant ships reporting their status. It was peculiar indeed - as if Starfleet was completely absent in this quadrant.




===[Bridge, USS Black Hawk]===

"Switch viewscreen to sector view," Harvey ordered, rising from his seat to go stand on the raised platform in front of them."

Camila activated the external sensors and brought up the sector view from the view of the nebula that they had been staring at. "Sector view, Sir," she said, then stopped and looked at the view that was being presented to them.

Harvey observed the screen, taking note of the subspace patterns. "Where is Starfleet?" he muttered. That much couldn't have changed in three days.

Just inside of their sensor range, Harvey took note of five unrecognized signals, two from the rear, and three from ahead, coming straight for them. "Is there something wrong with our sensors?" he asked the bridge crew. "Could maybe the recognition algorithms be damaged or not working?"

Camila checked and did a quick recalibration and checked again. "Everything seems to be in working order, Captain," she said. "If they are damaged, they're reporting the same thing as the primary configuration. Shall I go through all the possible algorithms?"

Harvey turned to look at the screen again. Those vessels were quickly approaching, and neither ship was in a position to outrun them. "We're still under radio silence," he remarked quietly. Of course, radio silence wouldn't stop anyone from approaching.

"How long until they're in scanning range?" he asked. Of course they registered on sensors, but better resolutions always depended on closer distances. "Maybe O'Connell sent a search party."

Adam frowned as he ran every sensor scan he could think of, and let out a low growl. "There's definitely something wrong. I'm running a mixture of scans, and the readings are... well, it's a mess, that's for sure. Even the background radiation is slightly off."

Harvey stepped off of the platform and approached the makeshift science station. "How so?" he asked.

"The background radiation is spiking in several areas. The Quantum signature reads as different, and I can't pick up any traces of Thalaron, which is unusual given the explosion." Adam said, frowning.

"We did leave it behind in the nebula a half hour ago," Harvey replied, knowing the slow speed at which Thalaron moved. "There's no chance it could have made it a couple lightyears by now."

"No, but I'd still be able to detect it from the nebula. But there's....there's nothing." Adam replied. "Almost as if the explosion didn't happen. Thalaron is a very potent form of radiation, and when you said we'd be encountering it, I made sure the sensors were finely tuned to pick it up, even in minute amounts."

Looking back to the viewscreen, it was easy to see those vessels would overtake the Black Hawk soon. "Let's drop to impulse, Mister Langston. Yellow alert. I don't think the Black Hawk will do well taking hits at warp speed."

"Aye, Captain, dropping down to impulse," Felix said as his pulse quickened. He knew something was up; the lack of thalaron all but confirmed it. His hands moved deftly across the console as the ship slowed to impulse speed. He saw the yellow alert illuminate the makeshift bridge and resolved to keep working.

"Shields up," Camila called out before she contacted her Assistant Chief of Security. "Double the patrols, Lieutenant Corwin," she said. "Make sure that we don't get any unwanted visitors."

"I'm on it, Lieutenant," Joey said just before she began barking orders to Security personnel. It wasn't long before the teams were deployed to various decks of the ship, herself included.

In spite of the odd situation they found themselves in, Harvey couldn't help that a grin formed on his face. As far as he was concerned, "Shields up" where the two most beautiful words he'd heard all week. At least they'd have protection if they needed it. "Bridge to Flight Deck. Put the Squadron on standby, but do not deploy."



===[FLIGHT DECK]===

Terry had been in the little side office just off the Flight Deck going over the latest report about the Valkyries. Yeah, Gamma shift and Lopez was on and there weren't many people down there, but he had some administrative things to take care of. He looked up when heard the announcement come over the comm system. It matched the Yellow Alert lights that had come on just a bit ago.

He sighed and tapped his commbadge. "Walsh to Lopez, sound the standby alert and get all the pilots back down here to the Deck. We're back."

Lopez tapped her commbadge. "Aye sir, no rest for the wicked aye?" She said sarcastically, before tapping a few commands into the console in front of her, sounding the standby alert that would summon all of the Black Hawks remaining pilots to the flight ready room.

Archer was in the middle of a story about how she painted a fellow pilot blue and tied him to a goat after he got his wings when the alarm went off. "To be continued..." She said and took off to the flight ready room.

Galahad was asleep, he could sleep anywhere at anytime but was well trained so was sitting up even before his brain ID'd the stand by alert. Finally his brain kicked in after a few seconds and he quickly tossed on a uniform and boots since showing up in your skivvies was usually bad form, then took off to the pilot's briefing room.

There were a few basic rules that every military member followed. Never run when you can walk, never walk when you can stand, never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lay down. Never lay down when you can sleep. Some officers, apparently believing these rules only applied to them, used this as a justification for believing the enlisted ranks to be lazy. Really it was just about conserving energy.

After the three ring circus that had been his day, Dzhossen was all about conservation of energy. In fact he hadn't made it past the briefing room where he had sat down for a cold cup of instant coffee. Sitting down had been a mistake and the emotionally strung out Vulcan had fallen asleep in his briefing room chair. They were really quite comfortable in the current context.

While disciplined was a word rarely used to describe Dzhossen, eager was. When the yellow alert sounded it woke the napping Vulcan in a way that the instant coffee couldn't. Throwing back the drink in one gulp, he grabbed another, mixed it up, giving himself a slight sniff as he did and wished he'd managed to hit the showers before falling asleep. Shrugging it off, he settled into his chair again as he reflected that this was one briefing he wasn't going to be late for.

Aurilia came in wearing a new flight suit and looking much better than she had earlier as she made her way over to the Peregrine that she had been assigned to. Her long red hair was pulled back in a ponytail and there was a look in her eyes that hadn't been seen in months as she took her place and awaited orders.

It wasn't long before Kilmartin strolled onto the flight deck having donned his flight suit in the eventuality that he be required to fly his bird. He'd been listening in to Archer's story and had been looking forward to the ending but that would have to wait. He made his way over to the Commander's office and tapped the frame work.

Terry was just about to walk out the door and head to the pilot's ready room to suit up when he heard a slight tap. He grinned a bit and opened the door to find Lieutenant Kilmartin standing there. "Afternoon, Lieutenant. What can I do for you?"

"Thought I'd let you know the Wing reports ready sir," Kilmartin smiled.

"Excellent," said Terry. "Let's hope it's not as bad as the last time."




===[SICKBAY]===

Things were finally settling down in Sick Bay. Jayla had ordered mandatory sleep for the entire crew, starting with everyone who'd been injured- which included her, as nurse Lane had pointed out, completely deaf to Jayla's protests. Throughout the day, the entire crew had taken it in turns to get some rest. In fact, Jayla had planned on coming in around midway through Gamma shift, but yellow alert seemed as good a time as any.

Pulling on her uniform jacket, she hurried from her quarters to Sick Bay. As she hurried through the doors, Nurse Lane met her with an icy glare. "It's yellow alert, Penny," Jayla defended. "I need to be here. I'll rest when it's over, I promise."

This seemed to placate her and Jayla tapped her combadge. "Sick Bay to the bridge," she said. "What's going on?"

=/\= "Standby," =/\= came back the Captain's voice. As he himself didn't know what was going on, it was best to not say anything.

"Standby," repeated Jayla to herself. "Great. That's never a good sign."




===[Tactical Operations Center]===

Petty Officer First Class Bryan McShane one of 3 Tactical Phaser Chief’s was a tall, lanky human with red hair and quiet blue eyes. His uniform hid the lean muscles of someone who did blacksmithing as a hobby and his normally patient face was frowning in concentration as he reviewed data. As the senior of the 2 ‘graveyard gamma shift’ Noncoms he had command of the small ops center at the moment. Petty Officer 2nd Class Omat, a Bolian who was off working with his precious torpedoes, that being his area. A couple each of phaser and torpedo specialists went around effectively doing their basic routine duties on a quiet shift.

The yellow alert went off and Bryan’s head jerked up in surprise. It was finally quiet, he dared hope they were out of the worst of it. He should have known better. His training took over and he tapped in the needed commands to ensure the Shields, Phasers and Torpedoes were on Full Standby, sent a readiness message to The Chief on the Secondary Bridge and then he contacted Guns, a tactical nickname within the Black Hawk and other ships that was not uncommon, if they felt you knew what you were doing. It was like their version of ‘Skipper’.

In her quarters Cooper had heard the alarm and had gotten out of bed before her brain quite finished waking up. She was reaching for her commbadge when McShane called in =/\=”Report!” She demanded as she quickly got dressed, throwing clothes about while grabbing at a nearby uniform over a chair, while McShane efficiently filled her in. She liked to come in early to her shift and stay late but this early into Gamma she’d actually been sleeping but even so she wasted no time getting moving, this may not be a red alert but she well knew those were not always far behind. Other Delta Shift personnel began to prepare themselves per routine just in case this developed further.




===[USS BLACK HAWK BRIDGE]===

As the starstreaks faded, three vessels dropped out of warp directly in front of the Black Hawk and the Cochrane. As familiar as Harvey was with ship configurations operating in the Gamma Quadrant, he certainly didn't recognize what was now displayed on the viewscreen.

"Scan them," Harvey ordered immediately. He had to know what they were dealing with.

Burke accessed the sensors, and performed as extensive a scan of the incoming vessels as he could. "I can't find anything in the database that matches their configuration," he reported. "I'm picking up polaron signatures..." He adjusted the sensor readout. "They have polaron weapons, similar to the ones used by the Jem'Hadar. And their size..."

He punched a few commands, and a three-dimensional view of the ships appeared on the viewscreen. "They're close to twice the size of a Galaxy-class starship."

"Incoming hail, Captain," Camila said. "It's coming from the ships coming our way."

"Make sure the Cochrane gets this too. On screen," Harvey said, pulling down on his uniform and looking at the viewscreen.

The screen shifted, and the bridge crew was immediately welcomed by the face of a Karemma male. Despite him not recognizing the ships, this was certainly a face that Harvey recognized, having spent more than a month with the man earlier that year. "D'rimo!" Harvey said with a relieved smile and chuckle. "It is good to see you again!"

The Karemma's brow furrowed. "I assure you, you... whatever you are... I have not seen a species with such pink flesh in my life."

Harvey's smile faded. He looked behind him at his bridge crew, wondering if he was mistaken in the man's identity, but the faces around him had only been with him a short while, not during his ordeal with the Golden Stars.

Before Harvey could turn around, the Karemma spoke again. "But, it is not the first time my reputation has proceeded me. I am Commander D'rimo, representing the Confederation. You are violators in our space, therefore your vessels and belonging are forfeit. Lower your shields and prepare to be boarded."

Camila immediately sent an alert to Security and Tactical on a in-ship coded frequency. "General Quarters Four," she said, knowing her Assistant Chiefs would know what that meant.




===[USS BLACK HAWK Security]===

When the yellow alert sounded, and the call from Camila came through, Joey made her way back to Security. She had faith that those already on patrol would be on the lookout for possible boarders, but there were other things that needed to be done to ensure the safety of the ship and her crew. Tapping her combadge, she called to a couple specific individuals and dispatched them to flight deck, then began to isolate the more crucial areas of the ship via forcefields. The primary computer core, deck eight... primary system support compartments, deck twelve... environment control and secondary computer sore, deck sixteen... environmental control, anti-matter storage pods, gravimetric polaron generators and secondary shield generators on deck eighteen... the isolation cells and brig on deck four.

With that done, she activated security bulkheads around various other parts of the ship, backed up by emergency forcefields, grateful there was power to be able to do these things. But, she found herself cursing the nebula for their inability to do such things the day before when it could have been useful, and maybe even saved lives along the way. Muttering to herself, she shook those thoughts from her head, knowing Camila was currently on the temporary bridge unarmed. That was a situation that needed to be rectified rather quickly.

Joey made her way to the armory, not even thinking about what took place there just over twenty-four hours ago, and grabbed a few phasers. If there was a chance they could be boarded, she wanted to make sure it was going to go bad for the enemy. With the phasers in hand and grabbing two enlisted personnel along the way, she and the others bolted from Security and headed for the nearest turbolift.




===[USS BLACK HAWK Tac Ops Center]===

Cooper had arrived in the center when call came through. She acknowledged immediately and turned around sealing the Operations door. As was standard with such locks it could only be opened by Cooper or a senior Black Hawk Officer. This room, if the secondary bridge failed, could maintain offensive ship operations. It was vital this not fall if nothing else it was a kind of failback position.

Behind Cooper on a console McShane watched internal force fields snap into place around them as security did their parts. That done Cooper gave orders that McShane obeyed. The Tac personnel were in the Fore and Aft Torpedo Bay Control and Torpedo Magazine and Manufacturing Area on Deck 9 were warned as was the lone crewman on Deck 14 in the Lower Forward Torpedo Bay Control room. PO Omet in the Torpedo Magazine and Manufacturing area acknowledged the order, checking the safety of his own area even as he prepped torpedoes for the orders he hoped wouldn’t be needed.

Sleek torpedoes, each were warp-capable tactical matter/antimatter weapons with a reactant capacity of about 18.5 isotons. And an effective tactical range of 4.05 million kilometers. All they needed was a target and orders, while Cooper waited for those orders she continued to ensure that all was in full readiness. She checked the readouts as tactical sensors, diagnostic results, status reports filed by but what held Cooper’s attention most were the three ships on sensors that seemed to prompt the order in the first place. Cooper’s eyes devoured the data coming off of those ships and she began to plan responses should they be called for.

Tactical personnel checked their sidearms, secured their areas and prepared their equipment with a well trained efficiency. Delta shift, as the next shift, reported in as ready for duty should they go to red alert.




===[USS BLACK HAWK BRIDGE]===

It didn't take long before they neared auxiliary control where she posted the two enlisted outside the door and made her way inside. She'd been asked once before if something she'd done was overkill, and maybe it had been, but in this case... it meant the safety of hundreds of people. "Lieutenant Di Pasquale, I thought you might be able to use this... you know... in case," Joey said, closing the distance between herself and the Security Chief.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Camila said when her Assistant Chief came in with a phaser. She strapped it to her waist as she initiated the custom security protocols she had put in place when she had became Chief of Security. "I don't think we're going to have any problems with boarders now. If they get on the ship, they're going to be sorely pressed to get to any critical systems. Resume the watch in Security and keep up the good work, Lieutenant Corwin."

"Will do, Lieutenant Di Pasquale," the taller woman said before turning and walking out again. Anyone brave enough to attempt to board the ship were in for some surprises. For now, though, Joey was on her way back to Security to resume watch, though she would have rather been running patrol with the others.

On the viewscreen, the Karemma stated, "You have two minutes to comply. Otherwise, we will drop your shields for you."

The viewscreen shifted immediately back to the external view. Harvey frowned and spoke, "Commander Teixeira, did you get all of that?"




===[USS COCHRANE BRIDGE]===

"I did, sir," he responded. "You recognized him. Someone you've run into before, I take it."

=/\= "That's a long story," =/\= Captain Geisler replied. =/\= "I know him enough to know he's not bluffing. What's the Cochrane's status?" =/\=

He looked at Bast, sitting next to him, and then down to the console situated between them. "We'll be able to hold our own, if needed." He looked around the bridge. "The crew did a great job getting us ready."

Bast looked at the console, and frowned. He wished he shared all of Teixeira's optimism. But with shields at an unsteady 90%, phaser banks still only partially operational, and structural integrity questionable at best, he doubted they would be able to hold their own against one of those behemoths, let alone five.

Noticing the Trill's troubled countenance, Teixeira leaned towards him. "Something wrong?"

"After everything this ship has been through just in the past few days, I don't know how much more of a pounding it can take," explained the Trill.

"Have faith in the crew," he replied. "Captain Geisler places his faith in us regularly. And we, in him. It's how this game is played."



===[USS BLACK HAWK, BRIDGE]===

Harvey looked around to his crew on the bridge. This turn of events was certainly unexpected, and it just served to show that there was more wrong here than anyone could think of. Harvey thought of both crews, and the stress they'd endured over the last couple of months. How much more could they all take?

"I need recommendations!" he declared, both to the people in the room, and to whoever was listening on the Cochrane. Already in his gut, he had an idea, but he needed to be sure he was right.

Camila listened to the scan reports from Burke and knew that the damage the Black Hawk had taken previously still wasn't fully repaired and that a great number of the crew had been injured. "Our only choice is to retreat, Captain," she said as much as she hated to admit such.

Harvey slowly nodded, and waited a bit for other suggestions. Either Lieutenant Di Pasquale was the only one brave enough to offer a suggestion, or no one else had any alternatives. If anything, she voiced exactly what he was thinking.

The Captain tapped his badge. "Bridge to Engineering. Prepare for Emergency Warp."

"Commander Teixeira," Harvey then said, coming down off the platform, "We're warping out. Follow our lead, on my mark, ahead, zero-zero-zero mark three-four-zero. Mister Langston, same heading."

"Aye, sir," Felix said, mustering up the strength to remain calm. Keep it together, Langston he thought to himself as he scrambled his hands across the control panel. "Course laid in," he said, "standing by."

On the Cochrane, Thiago stood and moved forward, positioning himself behind Lieutenant Marley. "Understood, Captain," he said. "Get ready to follow them, Lieutenant."

"Aye, Sir," Jane said from the Helm, wishing that the Intrepid had full power and hoping she could meet the expectations of the Black Hawk Commander when she gave the command to engage warp.

Harvey returned to his seat, but did not sit. As subtlety as he could, he took in a deep breath. Their two minutes would be up shortly, and he didn't want to be here when the time ran out. "Helm..." he said at last. "Now."

Felix nodded and executed the command. He swallowed hard as he he heard the whine of the warp engines come to life. "Eat my space dust, you bastards," he said as the warp drive engaged.




===[USS COCHRANE, BRIDGE]===

"Let's go," Teixeira said, turning and returning to the command seats, though he remained standing.

"Engaging warp, Sir," Marley said as her fingers flashed across the terminal.

Watching the viewscreen, he watched the Black Hawk dip her nose slightly and take off, entering warp within seconds. Before the Intrepid-class ship could enter warp, however, the proximity alert sounded. Thiago's eyes darted around the bridge. "What is it?" he called.

Karyna quickly worked the controls at the science station. "Incoming!" she shouted, seeing the bolt of energy speeding towards the ship.

"Brace for impa..."

The ship jarred sharply as the bolt hit the Cochrane. Thiago nearly lost his footing, but he steadied himself with a hand on the console between his and Bast's seats. Nearly instantly, the ship darkened, lights and consoles powering down around the bridge. The last thing Teixeira saw on the viewscreen before it went black was the starfield seeming to tumble. They had lost power. He knew that he had seen this before, during the Dominion War. When the Breen entered the war, they had brought a new weapon, an energy dissipator, that had nearly allowed the Dominion to win the conflict. The Allies had discovered, and implement a protection against the dissipator. The Cochrane would have had that fix, so this Karemma weapon, Teixiera surmised, worked on a different principle with similar results.

"Report."

Bast tried to work his console, but the screen was dark. He jumped out of his seat, and ran to the Operations console, where Lt Starweather stood, trying to get any information he could out of his own panel. Bast looked around the Bridge. There was nothing on any of the consoles.

He tapped his combadge. "Bridge to Engineering," he called out.

There was no response. Not even the telltale chirp from his combadge when he tapped it to indicate an open channel.

"Looks like we've lost power and communications," he said.

Katniss had not long arrived on the Cochrane, in fact the bag she packed with a few personal items was still hanging over her shoulder. She thought she would head to sickbay first to meet who ever was in charge, before finding some quarters. She had just entered Sickbay when the consoles suddenly went black and the lights started to flash. She reached for her communicator and tapped it.

=/\= Sutherland to bridge. Please acknowledge. =/\=

She waited for a response, but she didn't get one. "Who's in charge here." she shouted looking at the unfamiliar faces around her.


~To Be Continued...~

 

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