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An Unexpected Friend

Posted on 03 Feb 2019 @ 10:13pm by Lieutenant JG Charles Carmichael
Edited on on 03 Feb 2019 @ 11:09pm

Mission: The Kalisa Conundrum
Location: Stellar Cartography
Timeline: MD 1 || 1635 hours

“This is quite fascinating,” declared the Vulcan T’pyr who stood beside her superior, Lieutenant Carmichael, in Stellar Cartography. If she were claustrophobic, the three-level tall cylinder would have set her over the edge were it not for the holographic images that surrounded them. As an astrophysicist, she found the Zone quite an oddity, especially since much of it seemed to defy the very laws under which she held in earnest.

And while the smell of humans was so off putting, she’d found a way around it to work with Carmichael, who was the Black Hawk’s leading Stellar Cartographer and expert on the Convergence Zone thanks to his time on the Vasco da Gama. In two short months, both of them had utilized every sensor array to their advantage, gathering as much information as they could, and starting to map what they’d found.

T’pyr had initially found the Alpha Trios system to be a remarkable oddity, but as their scans and voyages continued, it seemed that Alpha Trios was merely an commonality. Only Kalisa and two other worlds seemed to be complete and habitable. Kalisa was just the first they’d come to, having been led here by shaky intelligence gathered from their initial destination.

And Kalisa was not unique in its own self either. No lifeforms had been detected, just an abundance of weapons platforms and mines. “This metallurgical compound is not unique to this system,” the Vulcan droned, gesturing with a left hand to trigger an expansion of the holographic projections. “Planet 12-007 appears to possess an unusually high amount of the same compound.”

“And with the same distribution as well,” Charles remarked, entering a few commands to run a full scan in that area of space. Resolution unfortunately would be extremely limited, considering that it was five lightyears away and the zone’s background radiation made it impossible to achieve accuracy. “You think they could be more weapons platforms?”

“It is possible,” the Vulcan replied. “At least, according to the laws of probabilities. It is just as likely that they are a series of larger satellites or orbital stations.”

“But we’re not picking up any engine trails or other signs of life, at least nothing like Trios or other decrepit areas,” Carmichael pointed out. “What good are orbital facilities if there’s no traffic?” Sighing, he prepared to perform another scan.

Suddenly, his console went dark. The holographic projections disappeared, and the room’s familar hum wound down as if power had been cut to the room. In the center of Charles’ workstation, the words Command Override appeared.

“Command override?” Charles read aloud. He looked up to his compatriot who raised her left eyebrow to indicate that she shared his confusion. “Something’s not right here.” Soon after, there were sounds of voices in the corridor outside the door.

“Might I suggest that we remain here,” the Vulcan spoke. “After all, we can’t risk being caught in the middle of unfortunate situations, especially ones where we do not know what is transpiring.”

Charles nodded his agreement. After all, intruder alarms hadn’t sounded, nor had the alert klaxons or general quarters been called for. Something was odd aboard the Black Hawk, but without further knowledge, it was hard to tell what. A test of the combadges told him communications were down, leaving both he and T’pyr to continue discussing their activities without the aid of a computer.

Several minutes passed by before the door opened. Charles and T’pyr had nowhere to duck or hide, so both just stood in the center of the raised platform, ready to charge the newcomer if necessary. The new arrival was colored in operations gold, her black hair pulled back into tight ponytail, revealing every feature of her darker skin and the two chevrons on her collar. A phaser was holstered on her hip with her hand close to it.

She examined both the Vulcan and the human for a brief moment to determine if they were under whatever was influencing the crew of the Black Hawk. So far, she experienced an Orion who thought his skin was radioactive, a Betazoid who thought the voices in his head were going to kill him, and a Bolian who just couldn’t stop talking. “I’m Petty Officer Juanita Gomez. I need both of you to come with me,” she said with an authoritative declaration.

Charles instantly gave the newcomer a quizzical look. Judging by the earlier sounds outside in the corridor, he could easily assume that something had gone wrong. But there was something about the newcomer that didn’t seem right. In fact, it seemed downright familiar. “With respect, Petty Officer, I need something more than that to follow you out of here. What’s going on?”

Gomez sighed. The demand was perfectly reasonable, but there were days she just wished she didn’t have to explain herself. “There’s some sort of pathogen that has come aboard the ship. All non-essential personnel are to be gathered in common areas until treatment can be administered and the situation neutralized per Captain’s orders.”

“The Captain did not address the ship,” pointed out the Vulcan, her right eye twitching. “Aside from the command override, protocol dictates that an announcement of sorts is to be delivered via a member of the ship’s command staff with instructions.”

“The pathogen has caused a variety of hallucinations and memory impairment,” Gomez droned, looking strangely now at the Vulcan. She hadn’t met the Vulcan before, yet something was strange about her too. “Who are you?” she asked, her hand reaching for her phaser.

“Same as you,” Charles plainly stated, his right eye twitching as well. Usually, this process involved a longer sequence of nonverbal cues and challenges, but having a phaser at the party only complicated matters.

“You are Followers,” Gomez replied, her tone bearing equal parts surprise and relief. “I thought I was alone on this vessel.”

Charles lowered his defenses and gestured her inside the room so that the door would close. “You don’t know Mackie?”

“Mackie who?” Juanita replied, slowly stepping forward.

Charles shot T’pyr a look. This situation was certainly unusual, and for a brief second he thought that this might be a well constructed trap. Had they grown careless in recent days? Had security caught onto them? No, it couldn’t be. Had that been the case, Lieutenant Di Pasquale, Lieutenant Myles, or even Captain Geisler or Commander Teixeira would have shown up armed as well.

“He’s a friend,” Charles added quickly. “I think, Miss Gomez, we have much to discuss.”

Juanita eyed both individuals carefully. The nonverbal challenges were receiving correct replies, so she certainly had no reason to doubt them. “I’m sure we do. But I would also point out that maintaining a cover is crucial, especially now. Per the Captain, all of security is gathering all non-essential personnel. If I don’t take you both to the recreation area, a search party will be sent for us.”

Charles looked at T’pyr again and slowly nodded to Gomez. “Very well,” he replied to her. “But, when this is all over, we need to have a conversation.”

The security officer nodded in agreement. “When this is over.” She stepped backwards and aside, triggering the doors’ sensors and forcing them open. “Let’s go, Lieutenant,” she instructed, her authoritative tone returned to full strength. Charles and T’pyr did as instructed, eager not only to get through this next hurdle, but also find out how they’d missed another Follower aboard.

But Charles knew only one thing. Quinn Mackie would not be happy.


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