Posted on Tue Jan 28th, 2020 @ 1:58pm by Captain Charlotte Reynolds V1 & Lieutenant Commander Nathan Bishop & Lieutenant Dante Rawlins V1 & Lieutenant Ian Acainus & Lieutenant Caroline Isley & Lieutenant Commander Niamh O'Donoghue V1 & Lieutenant JG Connor Burton & Ensign Thyra Sh'shraaqir V1
Episode 2: Inevitable
Location: USS Defiant, Star System 133-05B, Expected Destination of Intergalactic Object
Timeline: The Arrival of the Extragalactic Object
Outside the viewport, the planet hung in anticipation. Or at least, that's how it felt to Captain Reynolds. They'd been sitting in this position for nearly an hour, waiting. Defiant was fully cloaked. And although the occasional power fluctuation kept her worried, they remain fully concealed behind the device's field of effect.
Apparently, they were not the only ones with this idea. Though most of the other vessels were patrolling on a distant orbit of the planet, waiting for the object's arrival, the Romulan ship had disappeared as well. A stray thought in her head found it interesting that Defiant's actions were the most similar to their supposed rivals. Perhaps the two cultures were more alike than either cared to admit.
The countdown on the starboard side of their viewscreen was rapidly approaching its end. The extragalactic object was slowing, making final preparations for its arrival in System 113-05B. They'd spent months building up to this and a full day trying to solve the riddle of why it had chosen this destination. Now all there was left to do was wait to find out.
The countdown crossed the 5-minute mark and Charlotte became aware of a vague sense of alarm behind her and to the left and to the right. Without even turning to look at the science or tactical stations, she spoke. "What's wrong?"
Nathan's voice came back, cool, calm and collected. "Object is slowing Captain but...less than expected." His voice trailed off for a second before he spoke again. "The object isn't expected to be in orbit. It's going to crash into the surface!"
Looking quickly back towards Nathan, Dante had a troubled look on his face as he considered what he'd just heard. "Captain, an impact of an object that large, and one traveling at such a high velocity, could pose some problems for us. If it throws up a considerable amount of ejecta we could see the safety of the ship impacted, and any gravitational shifts could cause problems for our orbit. I may have to make some pretty radical changes to keep us safe and in an optimum position," he said, turning to look at Charlotte.
The information raced through Charlotte's mind as she processed it all. The object was coming at such a speed it was going to impact the planet's surface. Suddenly their tense waiting was a white panic. "We can't let that thing hit the planet. It'd be catastrophic for the civilization down there. We need to..."
We need to what? she thought, quickly. What could they possibly do to stop something that big? She stopped thinking and turned to the experts. "Tactical analysis. From everyone. What can we do to stop that thing? If it hits the surface, it's going to devastate the planet."
Ian could feel the fear rise around him. Mixed with his own apprehension, he had to fight hard not to be overwhelmed. He was no scientist but was pretty sure that what he was thinking of proposing was suicidal, then went ahead and proposed it anyway.
"Can we get between it and the planet and use shields to push it away from the planet?
Worst case scenario, if that failed and we were...we were crushed, would it save the planet? Better us than them if it comes to that."
The Captain shook her head. The self-sacrifice was admiral, but it'd be meaningless here. "It'd blow through us as if we weren't even there. We'd all be dead without even making an impact."
Thyra tapped a finger on the console. She knew disasters like this always occurred throughout the galaxy, and there wasn't always a Starfleet vessel around that would debate the survival of a civilization. So why would this be any different? "Captain, could we..." She stopped. "Never mind, Ma'am, I don't think we could do that."
At tactical Bishop was silent but his mind was going over various possibilities and rejecting them almost as fast. Finally, he spoke, "We can modify the tractor beam and use it push against the object. Then using control bursts we push and release, letting the object use up some of its own velocity. We can't stop it but we can slow it down and make it descent more manageable."
"We'd burn out the engines before we nudged it even a millimeter. It's just too massive, and moving far too fast," Dante replied to the other man's idea, giving him, and the captain both an apologetic frown. He hated not being able to offer a solution, but as far as him, and the propulsion systems of the ship went, there was just nothing he could realistically hope to do that would help in any way.
"Even if that wasn't the case, the power requirements would exceed our output, at least in terms of how long we'd need." Connor grimaced as he finished calculating figures on a padd "Even if we diverted power from everything, and hooked all the shuttles into the power grid, I doubt we could coax enough power."
Charlotte knew they were right. Even the combined efforts of the entire group of ships wouldn't be enough. "There's nothing we can do," she said, somewhat out of desperation. "I need a projection of where the object is going to hit. If it manages to hit somewhere in the oceans, there's at least a chance of survivors."
At tactical. Nathan frowned in frustration. They were helpless to prevent the object from crashing. He did some fast calculations. "Object is going to crash into the sea Captain about 175 miles offshore."
"Perhaps we could save some of them?" Niamh said coming around the terminal she was occupying so she was closer to Charlotte. "The prime directive usually prohibits our interference in situations like this, but the extra-galactic nature and qualities of the object should give us enough leeway to dismiss it in this instance" she suggested. She'd hoped she'd interpreted General Order 1 correctly. It was drilled into every officer during their time at the academy. It was the principle order that came to mind when discussing the prime directive.
Reynolds's mind raced through the options. She was pretty sure Niamh's loophole wouldn't hold up with Starfleet, but to be honest, she didn't really care. There were issues though. If they dropped the cloak, they could maybe get more out of the transporters. But then they'd need to explain themselves to the other ships, and they could lose valuable time. So she acted on instinct.
"We don't have much time. I'll own the consequences of what we do next," Charlotte said, prefacing her orders. "Drop the cloak. Helm, I need a site to send the villagers to. High elevation, away from the projected wave zones. Science, work with Engineering to throw everything we've got into the transporters. Beam as many of the villager's site to site as you can. Comms, Diplomacy. I want you all on the comm channels, coordinating with the others ships," Charlotte said, beginning to rattle off orders in rapid-fire.
"Disengaging the cloak and becoming visible now," Bishop answered as he waited for them to become swamped with calls asking just what was going on.
Working the scanners on his console Dante picked out the best place to put the villagers. A few more strokes brought them into an optimal alignment between the two so the transporters would have less work to do and would allow them a better chance of saving as many people as possible. "Coordinates sent to both science and engineering, orbital alignment changed to ensure the best beam up and beam down efficiency," he said.
Caroline Isley watched the timer of the object's expected impact count down as information sped across the science console. If they were going to save the villagers, it was going to take some type of wide beam lock. Transporter technology wasn't her specialty, so she hoped engineering would be able to modify the transporters in time. She was focused on tracking the object, feeding updates from her station into the ship's computer to keep the timer accurate. "Object remains on course, captain," she said. "If we're going to beam them out, it's got to be very soon."
"I think I can manage that," Alexander said sounding mostly sure, "If I could reroute some power towards the transport network we should be able to beam more people up, I'm going to reconfigure the emergency transport protocol so that it flips the script so that it beams those on the surface up instead of us down. That will provide us the groups in large numbers at faster rates" he explained as he worked on the code. "If I relax the safety protocol the buffers should be able to hold more people, then we can bring them out onto the ship steadily" he carried on, finally looking towards Charlotte.
"I'll still be limited in terms of numbers and space. The Defiant can't hold everyone and I reckon I'll be able to grab around a thousand of them, not to mention the amount of power it's going to demand whilst it's in progress, or the people that will be lost in the buffer system should something happen mid-journey." he finished. It wasn't a win, but at least they could save some of them. Once he'd finished his tweaks he nodded towards Connor letting him know it was time.
"Bye bye career, I'll miss you." Connor remarked sardonically to himself "I've diverted all power from non-essential systems to transporters. Should increase the number of people we can grab at a time. Sure hope no one was taking a sonic shower."
Ian blew out a long breath and closed his eyes. He could feel the fear as if it were a palatable thing. Fear on the Bridge, fear from other nearby ships, but most of all an overwhelming tidal wave of abject panic, coming from the planet. It took all of his will to raise the wall around his waist.
He turned to the comms officer. "Ensign Sh'shraaqir, do you need any help?"
Thyra was going over her counsel, working her keys as she tapped her earpiece. She waved to Ian he could help her. She couldn't speak to him as she was talking over the comms with the other ships.
Her mere nod was enough for him. Now familiar with the console, he didn't really need to look at it to operate it He called the Krenabban and Nin-Tet ships. They too had been monitoring the situation and when he outlined the Defiant's strategy and they had gladly agreed to help out.
Even as they sounded off, Charlotte knew it wouldn't be enough. But every second of beaming she could buy them. "Tactical, transfer whatever weapons charge power we've got to the transporters. We're not going to be able to shoot our way out of this anyway. We'll use our emergency batteries to recloak as it arrives."
"Bishop replied quickly, "Already done Captain. I um took the liberty of powering down the weapons so I could transfer the charge where you wanted."
She gave an appreciative nod. "And somebody get me a transporter counter up on screen," she ordered, distractedly walking toward the viewscreen as she did.
"Yes, ma'am" Alexander responded from his station, the Captain's request fulfilled with a flick of his wrist. His tweaks seemed to be working but he imagined the entire transport network would need some pretty intensive maintenance once this was done.
She watched the object's approach juxtaposed to the transport counter. There wasn't a shadow of a doubt that they didn't have enough time. But with each number that the counter increased by, that was a life saved. If they couldn't stop the object, they could at least try to avert a total catastrophe. But no matter how she rationalized it, that didn't cure the sinking feeling in her stomach.
"Thirty seconds." Bishop intoned solemnly "And we're nowhere near having even 15 percent of the population. However there is enough for them to survive and rebuild."
Alexander looked up from his station for a moment his expression tense. He was working as fast as he could but the process of readjusting the target lock and manual tending to the safety protocols were slowing the scientist down. Despite the futility of his actions he began to try typing fast. A loud beat emanated from his screen as his fingers drummed against it.
And then, the wait was over. In front of their view, the massive object hurdled out of warp, slowing enough to prevent its own destruction, but not enough to prevent its collision with the planet.
The object somehow seemed bigger when viewed with their actual eyes, as if the sensor images couldn't quite encapsulate what they now saw. Two long spire-like pieces of the form struck out ahead of it, the leading edge as it began its rapid descent to the surface. It had almost a golden hue, likely attributed to whatever metal made up the structure. Dozens of small descent thrusters activated along the spires, slowing it just a bit more as it slammed violently into the once serene ocean below. The impact was cataclysmic, kicking up clouds of instantaneously evaporated steam, and blocking out Defiant's view. But even as they lost sight of the pillars, they saw the shockwave extend across the watery surface, rapidly approaching shore.
From orbit, it almost looked like a ripple in a pond. But given the scale they were looking at, they knew this ripple would be dozens of stories tall when it made landfall.
The second portion of the object arrived seconds later, coming down and locking into the two pillars, creating something similar to a bowl raised on a pedestal. Charlotte instantly knew from its appearance that there was another piece missing, either lost in transit or still on its way.
She held her order as long as possible. Every second she allowed was several lives saved on the surface. But after a few moments, she watched as the massive tidal wave swept over the once peaceful settlement. A second later, their transporter counter stopped increasing. Final Count: 1051. 1051 survivors saved out of nearly 12000.
A melancholic feeling settled over the bridge, as Charlotte walked slowly back toward the center chair. "Mr. Bishop, reactivate the cloak. Rawlins, change our position. I don't want to be where they just saw us." Her tone was flat, but couldn't quite hide what she was feeling.
"Aye Captain," Bishop replied, his tone subdued, dulled by what they had such been witness to. He tapped a switch, "Cloak reactivated." he said to no one in particular.
Dante immediately engaged the course he'd plotted and pressed the throttle handle forward. Defiant swung around and moved quickly away from the area they'd occupied moments before. His head still reeling from the devastating images he'd just seen as the object slammed into the planet's surface, he said a quick prayer for those still down on the surface, as well as for those who had been wiped away so catastrophically. "We are clear of the planet's gravity well and safely out of range of any of the other ships, Captain," he called out.
Ian knew it was coming, had tried his best to prepare himself for it, to keep his shield up. But the shockwave on the planet swept over that shield, that mental defense as if they were not there.
He staggered as the existence of almost 11,000 was snuffed out in a millisecond. He closed his eyes tightly, swayed then collapsed to the floor curling himself into a fetal position.
The captain's hand flew to her comm panel, even as Ian was finishing his collapse. "Medical team to the bridge. We have a man down."