Posted on Mon Nov 18th, 2019 @ 10:18am by Captain Charlotte Reynolds V1 & Lieutenant Commander Maralen Seitha & Lieutenant Commander Nathan Bishop & Lieutenant Caroline Isley & Lieutenant Commander Niamh O'Donoghue V1 & Ensign Thyra Sh'shraaqir V1 & Ensign Dustin Campbell
Episode 2: Inevitable
Location: USS Defiant, Star System 133-05B, Expected Destination of Intergalactic Object
Timeline: 48 Hours Before the Arrival of the Extragalactic Object
Captain's Log, Stardate 2264.041:
Defiant has arrived at the system where we are awaiting the imminent arrival of the Extragalactic Object. Finally, after weeks of anticipation and speculation, we'll get some answers to what exactly this thing is. I, for one, expect to sleep a little better no matter what we find, purely from the lack of paranoia about the object.
Our arrival at the exact spot of the rendezvous is only a few minutes away. I've had us make our arrival a bit early. By getting the lay of the land before it's appearance, we might be in a better place. If nothing else, we'll at least try to discern why this was the choice of destination.
Captain Reynolds exited her Ready Room, making her way to the center seat. On screen, the stars were streaking by, gradually slowing as they approached their destination.
"30 Seconds to arrival, Captain," a voice called out from one of the junior science stations.
"Understood," Charlotte replied with a nod, turning to the helm. "Mr. Campbell, take us out of warp nice and easy."
"Aye, Cap'n.", Dustin responded, and pulled back on the throttle handle. Outside the streaks of light began to shorten, and the slightly dizzying effect of a ship's warp field dissipating, dropping them back into normal space flashed across the screen.
As the vessel dropped out of warp, a scene rapidly presented itself across the viewport. Ahead of them was an incredibly picturesque locale. A verdant planet loomed ahead of them. Even without a scientific readout, it was easily recognizable what sort of world it was.
Its deep green hues belied massive forests covering the majority of its surface. Expansive, thick clouds covered substantial portions of the surface as well, momentary flashes of light visible in a few locations, indicating the lighting strikes below. A rain forest world, with strong weather patterns. Beyond the forested shores, were deep blue oceans, with hurricanes spinning in numerous places in the atmosphere. The world looked untouched by civilization.
Around the world were a handful of miniature moons, each in a different phase of their orbits. And most strikingly, a prominent ring system dominated the view. There were clear gap rings were large objects were clearing space. And as the Defiant's angle shifted, the sunlight glinted off of the rings, casting the bridge in a golden hue.
Charlotte failed to hold back her reaction, as her eyebrows raised. "It's...beautiful." However, she only gave herself a moment to admire it. They'd be here a while, plenty of time to take in the view. For now, they needed to look into the situation. "Ok, run a broad spectrum scan. I want to know if there's anything odd we're dealing with."
Thyra was seated at her station as her scans roamed around for any signs of life. She tapped her console and then her ear piece. "Captain, I am detecting a very weak transponder signal. Trying to get it clear." She tapped her console again and then shook her head. "It's too weak. I can't tell which race it's from."
The news brought a crease to Charlotte's brow. A transponder? "Well, that's a bit odd. I wonder if it could be related. Lt. Isley, run a life sign sweep. It's possible the signal is related to a civilization on the surface."
"Yes, captain," Caroline said, then punched a few buttons her console. She furrowed her brow. This should have been a routine sweep, but there was something odd. "There are thousands of life forms on the planet, but their technological level is pre-industrial. There's no sign of anything capable of producing a transponder signal. I would guess this has nothing to do with the planet." She looked up, slightly confused and concerned.
From his tactical station, Bishop spoke up. "No threats detected at this time." Even as he kept one eye on his console at the approaching vessels.
Maralen had been caught by the view too. In many ways, it reminded him of Ledara. Well, parts of it anyway. The Ledarans had lived in harmony with their world, their cities built of more natural materials and giving way to the forests at their edges in a sort of blended area. This world reminded him of the parts of his that had not been settled... before the Death Ships had come anyway.
Charlotte's commands tore him from the view, and his mind chastised him for his lapse. He looked at his board, frowning at the readings there. But that expression lasted only a moment before being forcibly replaced by his Shield of Calm. "Odd. Captain, I am getting interference. Odd little patches of it all across the system." He was already trying to identify them, with no success.
"Odd indeed," the captain replied with a small nod. "They have the choice of the entire Milky Way Galaxy, and our impending visitor chooses an inhabited star system with an anachronistic transponder signal and a bunch of sensor interference. Why am I not surprised?"
She walked somewhat absently closer to the viewscreen. As the starscape filled the majority of her view, she was struck a second time by the sheer beauty of it. Almost exaggerated...almost. The circumstances here were suspicious, but she needed to keep the nagging paranoia at bay. Not everything was a simulation.
Half turning her head, while keeping her eyes on the stars, Charlotte called an order back toward the rest of the bridge. "Run a long range scan. I'd be surprised if Starfleet was the only group to notice and take interest in an object approaching from outside the galaxy. Any other ships on long range headed our way?"
Nathan spoke up. "Long range scanners show multiple ships entering the system, heading this way."
"Confirmed, captain," Isley said from the science station. "They are definitely headed for this system, but we can't get a positive identification on who or what they are."
"Sounds like we'll be having some visitors then," Charlotte turned around, to face the bridge again. "I think we're going to have our hands full. We have a signal on a planet that shouldn't have a signal. That, in and of itself, requires an investigation. We also have several ships headed our way who are going to also be asking similar questions. If we want to prevent the largest Prime Directive Violation in history, I think we may want to set the terms of their investigations."
Charlotte turned toward their newly appointed Mission Advisor, Niamh O'Donoghue with a smile. "Any thoughts on this, Mission Advisor?"
Niamh remained silent for a moment, "We should definitely oversee the investigation. Too many players on the ground exponentially increase the risk of us violating the prime directive. I would send two small teams to the planet's surface. One to keep observe the indigenous population and the other to deal with the transponder. Team one, if given enough time, might be able to provide a distraction for long enough to keep the eyes off of team two" She suggested. The added benefit of team two would be that they could also take the time out to research the people so that once they achieved warp capabilities the Federation would be familiar enough to reach out appropriately.
"As for the other ships, it's hard to say with the limited information we possess. Until we know their intentions it's difficult to know what to suggest. I'd suggest we greet them as friends until we know otherwise. We may be able to come to some kind of agreement that keeps their crew's shipside and out of the way of our teams" she finished, her face a light shade of red. In truth, Niamh had felt a little out of her depth when Charlotte had turned to her. Despite the skillset overlap, years of counseling had left her feeling underprepared for the role she'd been granted. She imagined in time that would change.
The captain nodded. "Agreed. I don't know that the two teams will distract them for long. But it might buy us just enough time. Commander Bishop, you'll be leading the team going for the transponder. We'll send you down via shuttle. Take Campbell, Lindsay, and Burton with you. If there's anyone on the site who is injured, they may need assistance."
From his place at the tactical station Bishop nodded, "As you wish Captain."
Charlotte then turned to the comms station. "Thyra, I'm going to be sending you down with your own team as well. Kincaid and Edwards will go with you. Your mission will be to blend in with the local village and get a feel for their culture. It'd be good to know if they've already been contaminated. We'll make sure you have all the necessary prosthetics to blend in. We'll be relying on your language skills pretty heavily."
Thyra nodded, "Understood, I will get ready with my team." She got up and made her way off the bridge. She hadn't met Kincaid and Edwards, so this was a good moment to rectify that.
As the the others departed, Charlotte approached Maralen and Niamh. "I think we need to start prepping for our guests. We're about to have a lot of company..."
"Of course, Captain" Niamh accepted, sending a smile Maralen's way. She hadn't spent much time with the Executive Officer since their meeting in the hydroponics bay. It would be nice to work together again.