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To Have And To Withhold Part II

Posted on Tue Aug 1st, 2017 @ 4:36pm by Commander Brooke Niamh

Mission: Season One, Episode Two - Effigies of the Doomed
Location: Crew Quarters
Timeline: Current / Flashback to 2271

Brooke found herself back behind her desk in her quarters. The glow from her desk top computer illuminated her face, all other lighting had been lowered. The commander could feel her heart quicken in her chest as she keyed in Grace’s command codes.
“COMMAND CODE ACCEPTED, OPENING FILE ‘ARIADNE DOWN.’” -the computer spoke.
With that, the LCARS display in front of her flickered and changed from it’s customary yellows and blues to that of a red hue.
“WARNING SENIOR ADMIRALS EYES ONLY.” -the computer spoke, “FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH STARFLEET INTELLIGENCE ‘RIZZARI PROTOCOL’ WILL RESULT IN DISCIPLINARY ACTION AND MAY RESULT IN YOUR COMMISSION BEING RESCINDED.”

__

“Captain’s log, April 11th 2271: It’s been three years to the day that the Ariadne left Earth for the Havittika-Expanse. The ship and crew have performed admirably. We have successfully made first contact with nine truly unique alien species and pushed the envelope of exploration exponentially. As we embark on our fourth year, we have received a time-locked mission from Starfleet Command, from Admiral Kennet no less, to survey the particularly volatile Delta-Region of the Expanse. Our key objective, to survey a subspace current that was detected by the 22nd Century starship NX-02, Columbia shortly before it’s disappearance. I have no doubt in my mind, that our first official mission in over three years will go without incident and will once again advance our reputation as true explorers in this uncharted region of the galaxy…”

Captain Thomas Markel picked up his recording device and passed it to his yeoman, “Please ensure that this entry is sent along with today’s data packet to Starfleet Command?”
“Of course captain.” -the blonde haired yeoman smiled, before making her way out of the ward room.
Markel took a deep breath and subsequently let out an equally deep sigh of relief. ’Two more years.’ -he thought, two more years until he could give the order to turn the ship around and head back to Earth. Back to his wife and daughter.
As he made his way out of the ward room and into the busy corridor of the Constitution-Class starship Ariadne, he made his customary stride to the turbolift and up to the bridge. His crew had settled in exceptionally well, nothing about his latest log was embellished, his crew, to him, like any captain in the fleet, were the best. He could depend on each and every one of them. Having survived for three years in the Havittika-Expanse, the crew of the Ariadne had remained intact, Markel had not lost a single member of his crew. In fact, he’d gained two. Two children that is. Two twins, the offspring of the ship’s chief engineer and first officer.
The ship was ploughing through the expanse at maximum warp, the stars whizzed by one of the windows as Markel waited for the turbolift to arrive when his momentary calm was interrupted by his navigator, Lieutenant William ‘Billy’ Locke.
“On your way to the bridge sir?” -Billy asked.
Markel nodded as he did every day. Like he did every time, every time the lieutenant asked him at this exact same time every morning for the last three years.
“One of these days…” -Thomas started, breaking from his normal reply, “…you’re going to surprise me.”
“Sir?” -Billy asked, as the doors to the turbolift slid open.
The captain smiled, he didn’t respond, he hoped the lieutenant picked up on his humour, on his sarcasm however, it was clear that the lieutenant had not. Despite this, Locke actually surprised the captain and asked him something else, “Have you reviewed the data from Starfleet Command?”
“Oh? What data?” -Markel replied.
“Bridge…” -Billy took one of the cone shaped objects that ran around the interior of the turbolift and turned it, initiating the turbolift’s momentum towards deck one. “The sensor readings from Starfleet Command are somewhat incomplete concerning the subspace current they wish us to explore.”
“They’re nearly a hundred years out of date, they’re bound to be incomplete, lieutenant.” -Markel replied.
“No, what I meant was, there’s huge gaps of data missing concerning the disappearance of the Columbia and it’s involvement with the current.”

The turbolift arrived at the bridge, both Markel and Locke made their way to their respective positions, the captain to his chair at the centre of the bridge and the lieutenant to his station at navigation.
“Mr. Portman…” -Markel addressed his science officer, who was busily working his console in preparation for their mission. “…What can you tell me about the Columbia’s logs.”
The dark haired science officer looked up from the periscope sensor and rubbed his eyes. “Sir?”
“Lieutenant Locke believes that their are several discrepancies in the Columbia’s sensor readings.”
Portman went to speak, but he stopped himself, the same thought ran through his mind that ran through the captains
At the same time, both Portman and Markel exclaimed, “The logs are over a hundred years old.”
“Yes, yes, I know, but can you work with Lieutenant Locke to identify the discrepancies.” -Markel asked
“What do you think I’ve been doing…” -Portman grumbled, “…I’ve been surveying all the data and I have come to the conclusion that the current is not natural.”
“Oh?” -peeking the captain’s interest, “Go on.” -Thomas made his way over to the science station and leaned on the support rail that separated the lower section of the bridge from the upper horseshoe.
“Let me show you.” -Portman tapped several buttons on his console, flicking several switches, the viewer above him became active. The stock photo of Mars was replaced with that of the sensor readouts. It was a series of graphs, charts and numbers -something not for the layman.
Thomas raised an eyebrow and bit his lower lip to prevent himself looking foolish by asking a stupid question.
Portman pointed to several of the numbers on the screen, “As you can see here, captain, the readouts here dictate a manufactured subspace signal, something that we almost missed.”
Markel recognised the sequence of numbers, it reminded him of a subspace communications read out. “It looks like a com-channel”
“Precisely.” -Portman responded, “More accurately, the readings here dictate that someone has activated the current by way of initiating a com-link to this highly volatile area of space.”
“Can we turn it off?” -Lieutenant Locke chimed in. Thomas turned to find the lieutenant standing next to him.
“The readouts would seem to suggest that this was something that was turned on some time ago.”
“Pardon my ignorance, Mr. Portman.” -Thomas made a bit of space between him and Billy, “But who would want to destabilise a region of space remotely?”
“Well, that’s the million dollar question isn’t it?”
“Are their any other spacefaring races nearby to where we’re going?”
“Not that I can tell, given the level of subspace disruption to the region, it would be impossible to settle here.”
“Settle here?” -the captain asked.
“There are nine planets in the immediate vicinity, two Class-M however, no signs of life.” -Portman concluded.
“Let’s hope it stays that way.” -another voice chimed in. The ship’s chief engineer made his way over from the other side of the bridge.
“Commander?” -asked Portman
“We need to ensure we’ve got our game faces on.” -Commander Reynolds remarked, rather ominously, “The region is filled with subspace vacuoles and other subspace anomalies that could tare the ship apart, Mr. Locke’s going to have his handful with steering the ship around the currents, one wrong move will tare the ship to shreds.”
Billy’s usual calm suddenly dropped, “Oh don’t worry.” -he started, somewhat nervously. “My team are on it.”
“Be sure that they are lieutenant…Be sure that they are…”



Brooke read on in total intrigue, how she wasn’t notified of the Ariadne’s mission to survey the subspace current was still a mystery. That and how it was connected to the Rizzari Incident was also something that she couldn’t yet connect. The more Commander Niamh read, the more she became engrossed in the mission logs of the ill-fated starship Ariadne…

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“Captain’s log, supplemental: The Ariadne is now fifteen minutes away from approaching the subspace current. The crew have battened down the hatches and are performing at the top of their game. We now believe, with 99% certainty, that the subspace current is not a natural phenomenon and that whatever created the current are not native of this region. The current leads all the way to an uncharted sector of the galaxy however, lightyears away from known space. I am concerned that if things go south, we could find ourselves on the other side of the Alpha-Quadrant with no hope of return…”

The image on the view screen terrified the junior officers, hell, it terrified the captain. A swirling mass of energy, encased in a hue of blue and white filled the view screen. Lieutenant Locke had done his best to negotiate the subspace vacuoles that inhabited this region of space and thankfully, there had been no sign of alien activity. So far so good.
“Permission to release the probe captain?” -Portman asked, noticing that the Ariadne had now come to a full stop.
“By all means, commander.”
As the probe sped away from the underside of the Ariadne’s saucer section, the ship shook heavily. Clinging on to the command chair, Thomas Markel called out to his engineer, whom, for some reason had not left his post on the bridge. “Mr. Reynolds, report!”
“A subspace vacuole has just opened underneath us. It’s grazed the port nacelle.”
“Shouldn’t you be…”
“Going to engineering?” -Reynolds rose and made his way to the turbolift, “…aye sir.”
“Mr. Locke, bring us to three one nine, mark six five four.”
“Aye sir, engaging thrusters.”
“Captain, we’re starting to receive visuals from the probe.” -Portman interjected
“On screen.”
A fuzzy image replaced that of the swirling maw of the subspace current, it was hard to make out, but Markel was sure he could make out a planet on the other side of the current.
“Is that what I think it is?” -Markel asked.
Portman took a look down the periscope scanner, he twiddled the nobs on the side of the scanner and zoomed in on the world on the other side of the subspace current. “I think it’s habitable, captain.”
Rising from the centre chair, Markel moved towards the front of the bridge to get a closer look at the view screen.
“Captain, you’re not going to believe this.” -Portman looked up from the scanner, “That planet…it’s…it’s impossible…”
Portman didn’t get a chance to continue, the ship shook again, but this time with much more ferocity. An explosion spewed plasma out from behind the science terminal. The resulting explosion took out the science officer and rippled round to take out the ship’s communications officer.
“DAMAGE CONTROL TEAMS TO THE BRIDGE!” -Markel ordered, clinging on to the side of the helm console.
Markel’s helmsman was also killed in the explosion, how Markel was alive was a sheer fluke, sheer luck.
Billy attempted to keep the ship steady, he wiped blood out of his eyes, he’d been inadvertently struck by debris from the explosion.
“Captain, I can’t keep the ship in place.”
Wrestling with the controls to the helm, Markel looked behind him, there was only him, Locke and a young ensign left alive. The bridge was filling up with smoke fast.
“Reynolds to bridge” -the chief engineer called up from engineering, “What the hell’s going on up there!”
“I thought you could tell me, commander!” -Markel replied, trying to prevent the Ariadne from being pulled inside the subspace current.
“We’ve lost the port nacelle!”
Markel screamed down to engineering, “Get the damned thing back online, we’re going to need every ounce of energy to get us out of here…”

With that, the ship started to move forward. “Lieutenant?”
“I can’t help it, we’re going in…”
Shaking heavily, the sound of metal twisting and the hull breaching, the bridge was starting to become uninhabitable. Locke heard an almighty loud cracking sound. Looking up, the large reinforced dome above the bridge, right above them them had started to fracture. “We’ve got to get out of here captain, abandon the bridge…”

__

Literally on the edge of her seat, Brooke turned on the lighting to her quarters and took a second to take a breath. As she read on, it was clear why these logs were kept classified. Starfleet, sentencing a ship to it’s doom would have been something that if it got out, would have gone down like the proverbial ‘lead balloon.’ Also, it begs the question as to why Starfleet decided to time lock Ariadne’s final mission orders. This was something that Brooke couldn’t work out. Why not simply tell Markel and his crew to go survey the subspace current when they arrive at it’s coordinates, why wait for three years and suddenly release orders to them. Maybe they’d achieved everything Starfleet had wanted them to, maybe after three years, once the Ariadne had arrived in the Havittika-Expanse they’d become expendable?
Whatever it was, it had captured Brooke’s imagination and more over, it had brought up many more questions she hoped that these logs would be able to answer…

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“Captain’s log…”
Markel slammed the recording device onto the desk. The glass inside shattered. He was angry. Damned angry.
He was lucky to be alive. He’d lost over half of his crew and more importantly, he’d lost the ability to get them home. The Ariadne lay lost in space. Drifting and listing. The ship was beyond repair. Yes, several components were still operational; the computer core, the warp core, but the nacelles were both fused, the impulse reactors shot and the atmospheric systems were only functioning on nine decks. The saucer section had been completely abandoned and the remaining crew had managed to scramble into the stardrive before the power relays to the saucer section failed.
Twelve crewman lost their lives when their turbolift failed, plummeting eighteen decks. A further forty were blown into space when both the cargo bays explosively decompressed and a staggering ninety members of his crew suffocated trying to flee the hanger bay after being relocated there from a fire.
Thomas had lost his entire senior staff, save Reynolds. He was so close to defeat when the ship’s communications array suddenly burst into life.
“WE ARE THE…” -the message wasn’t complete, but it was a start
“What the hell was that?” Reynolds asked
Thomas keyed in several commands into the makeshift communications station in engineering, “Incoming transmission, there’s a ship out there.”
“I really hope they’re friendly.” -Reynolds replied.
“…ASSIST YOU.” -the fractured message continued. “…ARE THE RIZZARI…”

__

Finally. Finally something to tie all this together. Brooke sat bolt upright, whatever this was, whatever she had spent the last two hours reading was finally getting her somewhere. She knew that the Atlanta, that the Rizzari Incident couldn’t have been Starfleet’s first contact with this species. This was it. But with all of this information available to her, she had one thought that was frontmost in her mind: “How do I tell Maxwell Pierce about all of this?”

To be continued…

 

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