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Posted on 01 Feb 2014 @ 12:12am by Captain Harvey Geisler & Emily Carter & Lieutenant JG Harold Sherman & Lieutenant Commander Jason DeVries

Mission: Echoes
Location: Altair System
Timeline: January 2, 2388 || 1000 hours


Harvey stood behind the two ensigns manning the Flight Operations and Mission Operations station on the bridge, his arms folded in front of him. The Black Hawk was due to arrive in the Altair system in five minutes, and Harvey was keeping a close eye on everything.

Especially the patrol preparations. He had never served in this capacity aboard a carrier before, and it was vital that he learn everything he could about the operational processes.

=^= "Actual, Wash." =^= Came the voice of the Acting CAG over the comm. =^= "We're ready to go." =^=

Lieutenant Washburn had volunteered to take the first patrol, and had agreed with Ensign Sherman's suggestion to have two fighters patrol versus four. He would be taking the first patrol, along with Lieutenant JG Aces, a Centurian.

"Wash, this is Actual," Harvey said, tapping his badge. "You're clear to launch the moment we drop out of warp."

=^= "Acknowledged." =^=

As the clock ticked down, Harvey turned to look at Lieutenant Kerr at Tactical. "Launch your probes, Finchley."

From the Tactical station, Finchley tapped in the code for the probes to be prepped and launched. He watched the console screen as the probes telemetry went live the moment they hit space.

"Probes away Sir, telemetry is 'A ok', and can be read from your chair console now" he told the CO.

"Thank you," Harvey replied, moving back to his chair. He took a look to confirm the telemetry. Once he was satisfied, he glanced over to the Operations station. For a moment, he thought he would see Ensign Sherman manning the controls and then he remembered that Harold was part of the Away Team. "Anything yet?"

Ensign Franklin had been manning the station for the last hour. Since Ensign Sherman transferred control of the station to her, she had been attempting every five minutes to raise the Archeology Team. "Nothing, sir."

Harvey wasn't alarmed, really. His past as a researcher caused him to imagine the scientists were still deep in their work. Another glance at his left console told him that the probes had dropped out of warp and were in their positions.

A glance at his right console told him they had just entered the system. Harvey rose from his chair and tugged on his jacket to straighten it. "Helm, drop out of warp." The viewscreen showed how well the helmsman executed the order. Within moments, the entire bridge crew could see their destination, Altair IV, right in front of them.

"The first patrol is launching now," came the ensign at the Flight Operations station.

Harvey didn't even have a chance to thank the ensign. "Captain," spoke up Ensign Franklin. "I'm not receiving anything from the team, sir."

He still wasn't surprised. "They're probably just--"

"No, sir," forced the Ensign, looking up at the Captain. "I should be getting confirmation signals from the base's transmitter. I'm not getting anything."

"Odd," Harvey muttered, turning to face the Ensign. "Can you scan the base? Determine if their power is out?"

"No, sir. Sensors show that the magnetic field has intensified since the planet was first scouted. We can't penetrate the field."

Harvey looked back at the screen. He had studied the base's layout the prior evening and knew the Black Hawk was pointed close to the base. "We'll have to use visual scanning then. Helm, slow to half impulse and position our bow over the base. Ensign Franklin, maximum magnification."

Both officers did as they were instructed. Two seconds later, the viewscreen changed, showing the base's location. Six domes of varying size surrounded a center landing pad where a small cargo shuttle should have been. All of the domes showed signs of wear expected from natural elements and use, but nothing out of the ordinary. The sun had risen in that location, making it impossible to determine if power was an issue.

But the cargo shuttle was missing.

"No chance of picking up a warp signature is there?" he asked Ensign Franklin, turning to look at her.

"Little, sir. I'll try."

Harvey sighed. Five days in and he already had one regret. Hopefully, it wouldn't last long. Harvey turned to Finchley. "Mr. Kerr. Perhaps you should join Commander DeVries in the Launch Bay."

"And do what exactly Sir, babysit a Spook? Oh, wait a minute, let me rephrase that, babysit a late arrival Spook and a wet behind the ears boy wonder" Finchley said "If you'll forgive the turn of phrase, I told you the shit could hit the fan, but hey, I was ignored by you and the Spook and instead you decided to listen to the new apple of your eye, so I'm pretty sure your special one and the late Commander DeVries can surely cope with this situation easily enough, after all, Securities not required on this mission, is it?" he finished.

Harvey narrowed his eyes, but as much as he was put off by the Chief's rant, Harvey knew Finchley had a point. Tact now was necessary. "Nothing has hit the fan, Lieutenant. But I need my Chief of Security to determine that all is well planet side and that the communications silence isn't the result of something terrible."

"Very Good...Sir, as you order" Finchley said, starting to move towards the turbolift. He stopped by the shoulder of the CO, but still looking straight ahead of himself said "I'm taking my ACoS with me on this little balade Captain, your Mr DeVries, he's not all he makes out to be Sir. He's an ex-spook, but he also has many many skeletons in his cupboard. I know, I've seen his file, I mean, his proper file. If you don't believe me about either statement I just made, look up who's head of spook central, and when you find out, remember, they're a part of the original E.D.I.S project..." he then moved on and got into the turbolift and headed for the Launch Bay.

Harvey watched the turbolift doors close, his eyes still narrowed. After a week, he still didn't quite know to make of Finchley. Perhaps this mission would help solidify--or cancel--any doubts.

In the turbolift, Finchley tapped his COMM badge and said "Karadis, get your shit together and meet me in the Launch Bay in five. We're babysitting the spook and golden child, shits hit the fan, though no-one will admit it, looks like the researchers are AWOL and they need us to fix their mess. Do me a favour, bring 'Bessie' with you as well."

Karadis tapped her COMM badge and said "Looks like you were right 'Wan', makes a change. Things must be serious if your wanting me to bring 'Bessie', see you in five in the Launch Bay, Karadis out."


Jason stood on the hanger deck of the shuttlebay going over the plans they'd made for the away mission and double checking things to make sure everything was going as planned. He had a padd in one hand and a smile on his face, still laughing about something one of the crewmen running the shuttlebay had said. After looking around to make sure no one had anything else to add to the mini-briefing he'd just had with the rest of the away team he reached up and tapped his combadge. Moments earlier he'd felt the familiar change in the thrum of the engine signaling that they'd dropped out of warp.

=^="DeVries to the Bridge, we are ready down here, sir. We will launch as soon as you give the go ahead."=^= he said.

=^= "Stand by, Commander," =^= replied Harvey over the comm. =^= "Something's not quite right here, so I'm sending Lieutenant Kerr to join you." =^=

=^= "Will do, Captain, anything I should be worried about?" =^= Jason replied.

=^= "We're still figuring that out. I doubt we'll have any answers until we get boots on the ground. In the meantime, nothing changes. Just keep an eye out for anything not ordinary. Geisler out." =^=

=^= "Acknowledged." =^=

Ensign Harold "Hal" Sherman had was working to get himself and the members of his Department squared away before they finish loading up onto the Shuttles.

Finchley and Karadis walked into the Launch Bay and meandered over to where the away team were getting ready. Seeing the XO walked over, stood beside him and said "The Captain has said the Research team appear to have been misplaced and ordered me to babysit the whole away team Commander" and then he paused before he continued with as much sarcasm as he could muster, "And as much as it doesn't pleases me to say I told you so, about needing Security on this mission, to you and the golden child there....oh bullshit, who am I kidding, it gives me probably the most amount of pleasure I've had in a looooooong while...I told you so, Sir. You may be an ex-spook Commander, though nobody ever leaves the spook service, I should know, the CO has asked me to come and babysit the whole team. This sort of situation is one of my specialities, it's one of the many I was originally trained for during the Dominion War, so I'd appreciate it if you'd allow me to do it. I know you don't like me Sir, and the feelings mutual, but for the moment we're on the same side, and I'd hate to think you were trying to sabotage me carrying out my duty for the CO, who by the way is not only my boss, but yours to...Sir."

Hal let out sigh, "Yes, and the Ranking Officer of the mission, he is YOUR Boss. This isn't the time or place for this." Hal then turned back to adding finishing touches on getting things squared away. He was concern the Research team status was unknown, but then again Research teams seem to think what is minor detail to them, would have the call for U.S. Marine Corps to be sent in back in the day. Last thing the mission if things hit the fan, was egos getting in the way of getting everyone out alive.

Finchley looked round at the Ops Officer and said "Yah, you see, your mouth moved there son, but excertia was all that came out. Now, there's going to be Security equipment coming down here in five minutes, along with the officers that'll be making up my team, make sure the equipment they bring with them is stored safely, I'm holding you responsible personally and if anything goes wrong with it, if any of it's damaged, you'll be the one blamed, have a nice day won't you..."

Hal smile, "I will be our pleasure, Sir!", while mentally spelling it C-U-R. Last he looked they all were all wearing the same uniform. Turning to his people he, "Make sure you handle the Security gear with better care than they show it."

Moving away, Karadis asked "Is that the one know...who's looking to try and...with..."

"Yep, that's the one Karadis" Finchley replied "That's the one."

"He tries to hard doesn't he?" Karadis asked.

Finchley glanced round at the Ops Chief, gave a sarcastic short laugh and replied "That's 'cause he's wet behind the ears Karadis, but he'll have to learn to dry out soon."

Jason watched the other man walk away with his assistant and just shook his head. He'd have to sit down with the man when they got back and have a talk. He wasn't sure what exactly was wrong with the man but his attitude and behavior was quite abrasive and Jason wanted to make sure there was nothing really wrong that would continue to be a problem for the crew.

Deciding to shelve it for the time being he turned to the rest of the crew. "Everyone board your shuttles, it's time to go." he said. A few minutes later he was sitting in the co-pilots chair on one of the shuttle craft and watching them fly through the force field of the hangar bay.

It was a quick few minutes trip down through the planets atmosphere and then the compound began to grow larger. As they settled down in the middle of the buildings he tapped his commbadge.

=^= "DeVries to Black Hawk. We are setting down now. We will let you know what, if anything we find." =^=

=^= "Acknowledged. Our sensors are having trouble penetrating the magnetic field. Keep me posted. Geisler out." =^=

=^= "Will do, sir." =^= Jason replied before tapping his commbadge off.

Finchley looked at Karadis and said "I spy with my little eye, something that's missing beging with 'S' and ending in 'cientific expedition'..."

Jason heard what Finchley said and nodded, "Same here, Mr. Kerr, question is, what the hell happened. I'm glad the Captain saw fit to send you, I have a feeling we are in for a hell of a lot more action than we anticipated." he said in reply. "I'd appreciate any input or advice on the best way to continue tactically. If something happened to these guys I don't want the same thing to happen to us or our men." he added.

"Thank you Sir, I'm glad that sense eventualy prevailed and we were brought along" Finchley began "From a Tactical point of view, we start with the basics. We set up like a Security investigation team would and go through the camp carefully, making sure we check things like logs, papers, the buildings for any signs of fighting or commotion, check tracks, check what if any Security measures they have to make sure they are working and if they've been used recently, check the perimiter, then corolate all that information and form a possiblt hypothisis to work from and take it from there. What we can't do is jusst go in there and send out search teams willy nilly, as that's just a waste of time and resource" he finished.

"Fair enough," Jason replied, looking out the viewport to see the quiet landscape. To his left were three smaller domes, housing accommodations, according to the information Starfleet provided. To his right were three larger domes, two for researching and work and the other for storage. Next to the storage structure was a fuel tank for the cargo shuttle. "Let's start with that lab," Jason said to Finchley, pointing to the working dome to the far left.

To Lieutenant Dane and Ensign Sherman, Jason ordered, "Have your teams wait aboard the runabouts until we have a look around. You both might as well join us. If nothing else, you'll get an idea where to start breaking camp." Then to the security chief, Jason said, "Lead the way, Mr. Kerr."

As the shuttle doors opened. Finchley called out "Baker squad, form up with CWO Karadis and start to search the smaller dwelling domes first then once you're done, start to search the larger ones. Once you've done that, start the tracking, forget the tri-corders just now, I want visual as I taught you, is that clear?"

"YES SIR!!" came the resounding reply from Baker sqaud.

Finchley tried to stop a small smile from spreading across his facem but the corner of his mouth did lift slightly, but he forced it back down again.

"Right, on you're way you lazy gits!" he lightly chastised them.

Turning to DeVries he said "Sir, is there anything from the last communiques from here to indicate that there was any kind of unrest or fears?"

"Just that they found something and asked for an extension," Jason replied. "Nothing out of the ordinary." He led Finchley towards the first lab. "After you."

Finchley walked by and into the lab. Looking around, he'd almost have imagined that the those who worked there had just popped out for lunch and would be back again in five minutes.

Still, he wasn't that naive, he knew that not everything was as it was meant to be, if it was, those from the expedition would still be there. He walked around for a while and every now and again would stop and look, make an "Mmmmmm" sound, or maybe click of his tongue, then move on.

Coming back to DeVries he said "This place was last used four days ago, and those here weren't feeling threatened, they simply left, intending to come back and carry on with what they were doing, we're not going to find any answers here Sir, we need to move onto the next lab."

DeVries nodded. "Four days is a long time, Sherman. Dane. Take a look around and see if you can find any logs, mission or otherwise. Start packing the non-essentials. Let's go, Finchley."

Hal turn to the members of his Operation Department, "Okay you heard the him make sure we secure all logs or anything that may be clue, while we pack." Then turned to Lt. Dane,"Where do you want to start at?"

This time, Jason led the security team to the next lab. He stopped in the doorway, practically blocking the security team. The entire room was askew. Chairs and tables knocked over. Containers and drawers opened with their contents on the floor. Several alien artifacts were still on the center table, but didn't look like they had been carefully and intentionally placed.

Finchley moved past the XO and looked around the room. Immediately he gestured to Baker team to move forward. With silent hand gestures Finchley told McCaw, Baird and t'Lazar to fan out and scan round the room on the right and turned to Fleming, R'sh'Kal and Tomin to fan out and scan the room round to the left.

Backing up he said quietly "Woods and Capel, stay with Commander DeVries and make sure no one gets out or in here till we make sure it's safe."

Looking at the XO he said "Sir, I'd like you to remain here for the moment till we check this building out. I have a...'gut' instinct that not everything is safe, and till I'm sure it is we need to make sure you're safe."

Jason nodded, stepping fully inside and sliding to the left. The instincts he had tried to bury floated back to the surface. Determined to leave the past in the past, he resigned himself to studying the security team as they did their job. He could not, however, help to think what to do if he were alone...

Finchley nodded then turned back to watch his teams scan round the room clock and anti-clock wise. He himself started up the middle, making sure to tread carefully and mentaly store everything that he saw. He'dl learned over many years that not everything you saw you took in straight away. The mind had a way of storing everything, and then when you went back over it mentaly, you really got the full picture.

As he moved forward, he turned to his right to see Baird lead the three man team he was with stop, and go rigid, panic, then hopelessness showing on his face.

Gesturing for McCaw and t'Lazar to back off, he leaned down further and then straightened up, resignation on his face.

Finchley moved slowly round a lab bench and was within ten feet of Baird when the man put up his hand and said "I wouldn't come any closer Lieutenant."

"Why, what's up Baird?" Finchley asked.

"I'm standing on a pressure mine Sir" Baird said.

Finchleys eyes closed, then opened again.

"Are you certain it's a pressure mine?" he asked the man.

"Yes Sir, I heard the click then felt the pin relase slightly" Baird replied.

"Ok, I'll be back in a second Baird" Finchley said, backing up carefully the way he'd come. Slowly and deliberately he made his back to where the XO was and said "Sir, this place is mined, I need to get you out of here and safe. Mr Baird up there has just trodden on one of the mines and we need to try and minimise the damage, collateral and otherwise."

"I'll inform the captain," Jason replied. "Keep the damage minimal. This room may hold the clues to whatever's going on around here.

Finchley was appalled by the fact that the XO put the minimalisation of the damage to the room before any thoughts of safety towards Crewman Baird. He'd keep this in mind and put that in his report. Such things were unnacceptable to Finchley, crew came first and foremost. If you had no crew, you hd no ship.

With hia disgust towards the XO abundantly clear in his tone, Finchley replied "I can try Sir, by my first concern is to Mr Baird and trying to save his life, I don't think you quite understand the gravity of his situation, and I'll make that very clear in my report!"

Jason left the lab and walked back to the Mississippi. He tapped his combadge. "DeVries to Black Hawk."


Harvey had returned to standing by the Mission & Flight Operations stations when the channel had opened. "Go ahead, Commander."

=^= "We haven't seen a soul, captain," =^= came Jason's reply. =^= "But looks like our team had some visitors. No signs of a struggle." =^=

Harvey frowned, turning to look at the colony on the viewscreen. "Theories?"

=^= "Too early to tell. Our visitors left behind some traps, but I somehow doubt they were left for us." =^=

So much for a routine mission, Harvey thought. Starfleet hadn't yet ventured beyond this system, so perhaps those on the other side had finally decided to pay a visit. "Our priority is the Research Team, Commander. Find them. We'll look for clues up here."


"Acknowledged," Jason replied. "DeVries out." He then entered the lab where Dane and Sherman were looking for clues. "Any luck?"

Hal shrugged, "Sir, we have found some inconsistently in some of the logs, not much to tell. Bits and pieces are here and there. We have have found some other things not kosher here, but it will take some time to sort that out. We are setting up to uploading copies to the Blackhawk, but we are trying to ensure that no one left any bugs in the logs." With that the team were trying to figure out what they could start taking apart if anything.

"Let's get those copied quickly," Jason replied, looking over at the terminal he was working at. As the situation wasn't pressing in Lab 1, he knew that he couldn't just leave Baker Squad alone in the other lab. "Notify me as soon as you find anything."

In the second lab, Finchley had made his way back to Crewman Baird. "How're you holding up Baird?" he asked the man as he began to explore around his foot to see what the mine set up was.

"Well, I was thinking of going to dinner and then coming back Sir?" he answered Finchley frivilously.

"Yes, I'm a bit...peckish myself, skipped lunch today" Finchley answered, now seeing the pressure mine set up. He moved back and looked around the room. After several seconds he saw what he was looking for...a metal tray and a beaker.

Turning to McCaw he zsaid, get me water, enough to fill that beaker there on the table.

McCaw leftr the lab and returned about a minute later with a large pitcher of water.

"Well done McCaw, now, fill the beaker there and bring it, along with the metal trya next to it, over here and set it down on the ground next to Baird. The beaker and tray were brought over and put on the floor, and Finchley motioned for everypne to back off back to the entrance.

Inching forward, he once again crouched down at Bairds foot. Measuring up Bairds height and weight, and the guessing the pressure he'd place with each footfall, he tried to imagine in his minds eye of the beaker full of water would hold the same pressure be square inch as Bairds footfall would. Adding in the slight weight of the metal tray, he reconned it would.

Looking up at Bairds he said "Right, here's the plan. I'm going to place the beaker of water on the leading edge of the tray and start to slide it onto the pressure pad of the mine. At the same time, you're going tp slide your foot in the opposite direction...slowly. I'm having to guess that I've got the weight ratio correct, and if I have, the beaker of water plus the metal tray should weigh the same as the pressure you're now putting on the pressure pad on the mine."

"Let's do it Sir" Baird said, begining to shake...

Jason stood in the doorway, observing Finchley attempt to save one of his own. Being in Intelligence, he wasn't used to having to look after others, and with this transfer, he'd have to give it much further consideration. Yet, he was surprised to see Lieutenant Kerr very much on point as he soberly worked with Baird and the pressure mine. Jason knew there was nothing he himself could do but stand and watch.

Finchley lay the beaker of water on the tray and slowly, very slowly, began to slide the tray forward.

"When the edge of the tray touches your shoe Mr Baird, lift your shoe toe up, and then slowly start to take the weight off of the trigger. Allow me to slide the beaker forward far enough to get the weight of the tray and the jug and water before you dig your heal in to take your balance onto your other foot."

Baird nodded his head, but said nothing.

Placing the water filled beaker onto the tray, Finchley gave the area around the pressure mine one last check, just to make sure there were no suprises like 'hair triggers', like a secondary trigger should the main one fail, but everuthing seemed clear. Taking a deep breath, and calming himself, he focused on the distance between the tray leading edge and Bairds show and gauged he free ground he had to slide before he was in the danger zone. That part completed, he looked up at Baird, winked and said...

"You do realise the reason I'm doing this is because it was me who signed for the phaser you've got there on your belt. If that got lost, the paper work I'd have to fill in, 'in triplicate' by the way, would be hellish and I'd have the pay docked from my wages to pay for a new one!"

Baird smiled a frightened but brave smile at Finchley and replied "Can't have that Sir, paper works the devils own nuisance eh?"

"Damn straight!" Finchley said, smiling back, then went back to what he was doing.

"Right, the tray edge is just about at your toe, about a centimeter away" he said "one more small push and you should feel it nestle into your shoe...there, do you feel it?" he asked.

Baird nodded.

"Right, lift your toe and start to move your foot slowly back" Finchley said.

Baird moved his toe up and his foot back in unison with Finchley moving the tray and beaker forward. It was agonisingly slow work, a few millimeters at a time, but eventualy, after fifteen minutes, Finchley said "Right, the centre of gravity of the beaker in the tray should now be baring down on the trigger, you can move your weight onto your other foot and move back now Mr Baird."

Crewman Baird shifted his weight onto his other leg and pulled himself away from where he'd been standing. Utter relief and gratitude showed in his face as Finchley slowly got up and stood beside him.

"You ok?" he asked the crewman.

"A bit shaken, but ok Sir. Listen, thank you know..." he said.

"That's ok" Finchley said "I'll take overtime any day!", and with that he patted then mans shoulder and strted for the door. As he walked he said "Baird and McCaw, have the room swept for more mines before anyone does anything else in here. I'm off to check with Karadis and see what fun she's having.

He walked past DeVries who was still standing in the doorway. As he did so, he threw the man a look of disgust, Finchley still couldn't believe this 'officer' put the preservation of what was a possible crime scene before the safety of one of the ships crew. Finchley now felt he had the measure of the man, and that measure was a shalow one.

Jason could tell something was on Finchley's mind. He was about to go after him when his combadge chirped.

=^= "Black Hawk to DeVries." =^= came Geisler's voice.

"DeVries here."

=^= "Are you alone?" =^=

"Standby." DeVries immediately relocated to the Mississippi where no one could hear. "Go ahead, captain."

=^= "XO, we just received a transmission from TFHQ. You're not going to like it." =^=



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