After lengthy repairs at a Starbase, the crew of the USS Discovery have relaunched and begin their voyages once more. The ship is conducting some routine scans when they receive a priority call from Admiral Kawolsky. Someone has been breaking into Starfleet facilities in this sector, and the Discovery is charged with finding out who is responsible...
TASK GROUP ALPHA
STARDATE : 66428.4
THE TIME IS 07 00 HOURS
THE TIME IS 07 00 HOURS
THE TIME IS 07 00 HOURS
“Alright, already! Computer, lights.”
Opening one eye to squint at the clock next to his bunk, Captain Scott Bradley of the U.S.S. Discovery – A let out a groan. He hated the shift from Earth time to ship's time. He always felt as if he had lost a few hours sleep in the transition. But the Discovery didn't stop just because her commanding officer wanted a bit of a lie in. Throwing back the sheets, he headed straight for the sonic shower. After ten minutes, he emerged, refreshed and invigorated. He never felt quite alive until he had had his morning shower. Pulling on a fresh uniform and grabbing a cup of coffee from the replicator, he downed the hot liquid, glancing at the clock. It was time to report to the bridge.
The Discovery was barely a week out of dry dock, having been in need of some major refitting and repairs after her previous mission had gone very wrong. Command central had also taken the opportunity to rotate the crew. Less than half of the current crew had served with him on the Discovery during the Iconian war. He was still trying to put names to faces for the new crew members. He wondered briefly how the previous captain, the now-Admiral Kawolsky, had managed to always know the names of his crew. One of the many things you learned in command, he supposed. He kept to one side of the corridor, out of the way of crewmen carrying PADDS of data. The ship was on a shakedown mission, preforming a few routine surveys on local star clusters, testing out her new sensor arrays and let the new crew members stretch their space legs a little.
Captain Bradley eventually found himself on the bridge of the Discovery, which was being staffed by more junior officers than usual. He glanced around the various stations, relieved to see the familiar faces of Lieutenant Commander Thompson and Commander Munro before trying to remember the names of the other officers.
“All stations, report.”
“Helm present, sir, currently holding orbit around Brennan Gamma II Theta, maintaining optimal sensor range,” Helmsman Crewman Klein reported immediately.
“Tactical present, sir, nothing to report,” spoke Commander Thompson. Captain Bradley smiled inwardly as he heard the commander add a few muttered words to his report : “Absolutely nothing.”
“Engineering present, sir, all systems operating within normal parameters,” Announced Lieutenant Junior Grade T'Koris.
“Science reports all scans going well, Captain,” Ensign G'Tollikos added. “We've launched the last of the Class II probe and I should have all the data collated and on Lieutenant Armstrong's desk by 13 00 hours.”
“Nothing to report,” Commander Munro said, getting up from the captain's chair and smiling at Captain Bradley. “And now I'm off to bed. Goodnight, captain.” As she left the bridge, she crossed another crew member coming onto the bridge. Master Chief Petty Officer Greegy wandered over to Commander Thompson at the tactical console.
“Bust night?” he enquired.
Commander Thompson gave a wide yawn. “Wha... Oh yeah. We've had three Borg attacks, destroyed the Klingon Empire and the ship was almost blown up by Species 8472. I can't believe you missed it all,” he said with a smile.
“Sounds like a blast,” Chief Greegy replied with a grin before he looked up at the sound of footsteps.
“Lieutenant, Chief, can I see you in my ready room?” Captain Bradley asked, turning and heading for the office just off the bridge that he occupied without waiting for an answer.
“Uh oh,” Commander Thompson muttered to himself at the same time as Chief Greegy acknowledged the captain's request. They were barely into their mission and he was already on his way to the headmaster's office.
Captain Bradley made his way to his side of the desk, sitting down and gesturing for the two senior crew members to do the same.
“At ease, gentlemen, take a seat. Would you like something to drink?”
“No, thank you, sir,” Commander Thompson answered as the pair took the seats on the opposite side of the desk to the Captain.
“What can we help you with, sir?” added Chief Greegy.
Captain Bradley switched on his screen before turning back to his officers. “You've both been working closely with the crew this past week, observing how the new members are fitting in. A lot of them are fresh out of the Academy, others newly enlisted. I want your opinions on how they're getting on.”
Chief Greegy nodded at the question. “Fine. It's just... They're all pretty much new. Most, if not all, are on their first deep space assignments.”
“Yeah, there's not much else to say, unless you want individual reports,” Commander Thompson added. “I'm more concerned about Crewman Protheus than anyone else though. I don't like the idea of someone knowing what I'm thinking. Come to that, I don't think anyone is keen on the idea of knowing what I'm thinking. Tolly, uh, Ensign G'Tollikos is settling in well, so is Crewman Henson... They all seem fine other than Mr. Protheus...”
“He could be a security risk,” agreed Chief Greegy.
The captain nodded in acknowledgement of the two officers' reports, pressing a few buttons on the screen to bring up a message he had received late the previous night. “I don't think anyone anyone is comfy about with having their mind read, but like most officers with psychic ability, we'll just have to trust that they'll honour our privacy.” He paused for a moment. “How would most of them react in a potential crisis situation? Would they perform under fire or are they still too green?”
Chief Greegy was the first to speak : “They're well trained regardless of how green they are. I think they'll act well under fire.”
Commander Thompson wasn't so quick to jump in and answer. He remained a little more sceptical. “What sort of situation are you thinking of, sir?”
“It could be a combat situation, though I'm hoping it won't come to that.” Captain Bradley turned the screen around to show the two men the star chart of their current sector, where several planets and installations had been highlighted. “We've just received new orders from Admiral Kawolsky. There's been several major raids on Starfleet installations within this region over the past month. It hasn't been given much attention because the items stolen weren't deemed to be of massive importance: Duranium, isolinear chips, EPS conduits, things of that nature. You could get this stuff anywhere and it's fairly inexpensive, but upon further study, the combination of items is starting to raise some eyebrows.
“We've been ordered to investigate the thefts and take charge at the last raid location.”
Commander Thompson nodded in understanding. “Well... They're probably be a little bit shaky, as for most of them, it's their first assignment. But for the most part, I think they'll do fine.”
The Chief grinned, glancing at Commander Thompson. “Guess you get to be Watson to my Holmes, Reece,” he joked, referring to the old novels he used to read. He looked back at the Captain. “Any more details, sir? Are they coming in via starship?”
“We don't know at this stage. Anything is possible. Let's just hope that Moriarty comes quietly.”
“What the blazes are you two on about?” Commander Thompson asked.
“I've never been one for negotiating,” Chief Greegy replied before patting Commander Thompson on the back in mock reassurance. “Don't worry, maybe one day you'll read a book.” He then stood up, turning to Captain Bradley. “Is that all, sir? If so we can get underway immediately, before the trail gets cold.”
“That's all. Get us underway at warp 8.”
As the two men left the room, Captain Bradley, Captain Bradley started scanning through the reports on his screen. Whoever was executing these raids was obviously well organised, knew exactly what they were doing and what they were looking for. He just hoped he wasn't leading the Discovery into another fire-fight.
He emerged soon after from his ready room, able to feel from the thrum of the floor beneath his boots that the ship's warp engines had been engaged. He took his place in the captain's chair, frowning slightly as he saw Commander Munro sitting in her assigned place on his right, as his First Officer.
“We've got an assignment. He have to track down some raiders in this area who have been hitting Federation installations,” he said in a loud, clear voice to the bridge crew before he looked at his First Officer. “Aren't you supposed to be off duty?”
Commander Munro looked back at him, unsure whether or not she should answer that question in front of the whole bridge crew. Then again, what did she have to hide at this point? “Yes, but someone wasn't there and I have a hard time sleeping without him now.” She paused a moment to think. “Raiders? I thought this was the 23rd century, not the 22nd. I haven't heard that complaint for a whole.”
Captain Bradley smiled softly. “Remind me to reorganise the duty rosters for the next few weeks,” he said softly before returning to graver matters. “I'm hoping it's nothing too serious. If it's the Orions acting up again, we could end up with another conflict with them. It was bad enough the last time.”
“Agreed. I think I would much rather deal with an Orion male than a female. Those women are dangerously seductive and give me a headache.”
“Yeah, you're right. After everything Starfleet's been through in the last couple of years, we couldn't handle another incursion. We're stretched too thin.”
“You can say that again,” Chief Greegy added, overhearing the conversation. “They still owe us a Nova class.”
Captain Bradley couldn't help but let a chuckle escape. “Yes, they do. See what happens when I'm not around? I was gone five minutes and you all managed to blow up the ship!”
“Hey! Blame Kawolsky, not me!” The Chief replied with a grin.
“I almost joined that little club,” Commander Thompson joined in, leaning casually on his console. “Although you didn't half give me a roasting for trying.” He glanced around the bridge, more specifically at the number of junior officers manning it. “All this talk of blowing up ships. Must be doing wonders for their morale.”
Commander Munro shook her head in mock dismay. “It's a wonder they let you keep a hold of that phaser, Mr. Thompson. Their morale will be fine.”
As this was said, Captain Bradley stoop up, clapping his hands to attract the attention of the bridge crew in general. “All right, let's all be clear: This ship is not blowing up. Now, don't you all have jobs? We're not getting paid to flap our gums. Reece, have security double our patrols of the ship. If there are thieves around, I don't want us to look like a target. G'Tollikos, begin scanning the system for anything suspicious when we drop out of warp. Commander Munro, have you received the data packet I sent you about the raids?”
“Yes, sir, read and reread.”
Captain Bradley sat down again, leaning towards his first officer and speaking in a hushed tone so that the other officers on the bridge couldn't hear. “Then you'll have noticed the more... exotic items that went missing in the last raid. They've just been reported.” He shook his head. “Something tells me that these raiders aren't just casing for supplies. It's almost like someone's hoarding.”
“Yes,” Commander Munro agreed, keeping the same low tone, her face echoing the same, faintly curious look as her captain. “But those above mean nothing. Yeah, they could be traded at a price, but why? There are better ways t make a dime.”
Captain Bradley sighed heavily. He had the distinct impression that he was running around in circles with this raider story. “Well, I guess that's why Kawolsky put us onto this. If anyone can figure it out, it's probably us. When we reach Delvin III, have them transmit all of the data they've collected. We'll piece it together and plot our next move.”
The helm console in front of Crewman Klein started to bleep. He glanced down and started to tap the appropriate controls to have the ship decelerate to impulse speeds as they entered the star system.
“Approaching Delvin III now, sir,” he reported. “On orbital approach at one quarter impulse.”
“Very good, Mr. Klein. Assume standard orbit and keep us there until we're ready to make our next move.” The Captain turned to his left to face the science stations where department head Lieutenant Armstrong had joined Ensign G'Tollikos. “As soon as we arrive, the administrator of the facility will send us data packets containing everything they've learned so far. Analyse it, don't leave any stone unturned. We're going to put all the pieces together and find out what we need to do next.”
Sitting at the engineering console, Lieutenant Junior Grade T'Koris jumped as her commbadge beeped, signalling an incoming message.
-Engineering to T'Koris-
She tapped the badge to respond. -T'Koris here, what's the problem?-
-We're reading an impulse capacitance cell offline. It didn't happen until after we entered orbit, but we won't know until we can get someone down here to take a look.-
Lieutenant T'Koris keyed a few commands into her console before she replied: -I'm on my way.- As she left, an insistent beeping started up once more form the helm console. Crewman Klein frowned as he scanned through the readings.
“Captain, we no longer have full power to the impulse engines. Thrusters and warp drive check out still.”
The bridge consoles and light flickered before they went out completely, leaving the bridge crew standing in the eerie half-light of the emergency back ups. A moment of silence fell as the officers stood in the harsh shadows, wondering what had happened. Ensign G'Tollikos cleared his throat.
“Perhaps we should hit one of the consoles with our fists?” he offered. “That sometimes helps.”
Down on deck seven, in the engineering department, Lieutenant T'Koris was employing one of the the results of serving on a ship with several different species, notably swearing in several different languages as she tried to figure out what was wrong with the systems via a flickering, dying console. Surely it couldn't all be coming from the one malfunctioning power cell? After all it was for storing surplus energy for emergencies, right? She pushed those problems to one side of her mind, concentrating on making sure they still had enough power to maintain life support. As her eyes scanned the readouts, she tapped her commbadge.
-Bridge, this is engineering. We've encountered a few problems down here. We'll get them cleared up as soon as possible. - Turning to the other engineers, she started to define the priorities.
“Ok, we need to get this ship back up and running. We'll need to restore all power to the bridge, make sure that environmental isn't going to fail on us as well as get defence, weapons and propulsion back into operational standard. This is not the time to be caught with our shields failing us!”
A crewman, another new face on board the Discovery, stepped up to her. “Ma'am, the capacitance cell going offline shouldn't have caused all this chaos. It isn't even connected to most of the systems being affected.”
“There's no need to call me ma'am, Crewman Briggs,” Lieutenant T'Koris pointed out. “But you're right, it shouldn't have caused this much damage. What we're going to have to do is create a bypass around the cell, take it offline and see if that helps.” She grabbed a tool belt, wrapping it around her waist as she walked towards the hatchway into the Jefferies tubes. She glanced back over her shoulder at the crewman. “You coming?”
“Yes, ma... I mean, yes, Lieutenant!”
The two engineers crawled through a multitude of the cramped crawlways, heading for the main impulse systems. Lieutenant T'Koris paused as a thought occurred to her. The capacitance cell couldn't be the root of the problems, so what if the problem itself came from further up the metaphorical stream? She changed directions, heading instead for the power distribution systems. Once there, she pulled a panel from the wall, peering inside.
“Got you,” she muttered to herself before tapping her commbadge. - Bridge, this is T'Koris. We've found the problem. Reparations are in progress.- She glanced at back at the crewman, deciding to test his knowledge a little. “Tell me, Mr. Briggs, what do you know about bio-neural gel packs?” she asked as she rummaged around inside the systems.
“Just the basics they taught us at the Academy: they're essentially organic, they operate faster than isolinear circuitry, and they're capable of making billions of connections.” A smile spread over his face as he nodded, obviously making his own connections. “I get it. If the gel pack had a problem, it could lead to the capacitance cell and off to any other hundreds of directions, causing the other problems.”
Lieutenant T'Koris nodded. “Nice to know the Academy's still teaching you well. Personally, I don't like these things, but everyone else seems to think they're useful.” She pulled a small box that had been tucked in an out of the way corner. Inside it was a spare gel pack, one of many she had placed in strategic locations throughout the Jefferies tubes so that the engineers didn't have to keep going back and forth to the storage bays in the main department. She removed the malfunctioning pack, noting that it wad black and sickly looking, replacing it with a pack that was a bright electric blue before replacing the panel. “That should sort things out for now. Let's get back to engineering and find out.” She picked up the box containing the black gel pack, intending to run tests to find out exactly why it had malfunctioned.
Once back in engineering, she nabbed a diagnostic station, smiling as she remarked that everything seemed to be working properly again, starting to run tests on the pack.
“Reports are coming in now of stations coming back online,” Crewman Briggs announced. “You having any luck with that thing?”
Lieutenant T'Koris poked the pack warily. “I can't find anything wrong with the mechanical components. Someone must have sneezed on the stupid thing while they were refitting the ship.” She shook her head. “The researchers need to find some way of giving these things a decent immune system. Best take it to sickbay and see if they can figure out what happened.” She said as she put the sickly pack back into the box. “At least systems are back up and running, so we shouldn't have the captain on our back until something else goes wrong.”
“All navigational functions answering at peak efficiency again,” Crewman Klein stated as the results of his latest diagnostic flashed on his screen. Chief Greegy, more used to such problems, was straight back into monitoring the surrounding space for any hint of approaching vessels, friendly or not.
“Have we got any information yet? I'd rather not have us lingering in orbit. Limits our options.” He swung around as he heard an explosion seeing sparks erupting from one of the science consoles. Ensign G'Tollikos was on the floor, smoking slightly.
“Power surge,” he growled, half conscious as Crewman Klein leapt from his station to go to his crew mate’s assistance. “Don't touch...”
“Worry not, Ensign,” Crewman Klein assured him. “I'll get help.” The pilot tapped his commbadge. - Bridge to sickbay, we have a casualty here. -
- On my way. -
He looked down at Ensign G'Tollikos. He was a helmsman. He didn't know much about human medicine, let alone the non human medicine needed to treat the Ensign's species for this type of injury. After all, who would call on a pilot to be a good medic?
Captain Bradley sighed as he watched the scene unfolding on his bridge. Who would have thought that such things could happen on the Discovery?
“She's getting old,” he said more to himself than anyone around him. “Lots of little glitches.” He came out of his little reverie, looking at Chief Greegy. “All information has been received. I'll get on it and try to plot our next move. Keep sharp, Chief, our raiders could still be out there.”
The Chief, bemused by the glitches, left his post briefly to speak to the Captain in a low voice. “Sir, could the raiders have put something into our systems? This stuff shouldn't be happening. We were refitted after the Borg attack.” He was concerned about the possibility. What if the glitches weren't random? What if they were planned so as to take them out? What if the next system to fail was weapons, or the anti-matter containment system?
“It's too much of a coincidence,” the Captain agreed. “Go to yellow alert. And get our teams checking those data packets we were sent. If there's a virus in our systems, we need to know.”
The bridge crew froze as a Cardassian medic stepped onto the bridge, glancing around, apparently unaware of the unease.
“Did someone call for a doctor?” he asked before spotting Ensign G'Tollikos lying on the floor. Moving quickly and efficiently, Medical Crewman Kakarot crouched next to the Ensign, running a scan with his tricorder. “Second degree plasma burns and a minor concussion,” he muttered as he rummaged through his med kit, pulling out a dermal regenerator before speaking to the Ensign, starting to repair the damage. “Nothing to major. You can go back to doing science-y things in just a mo.”
He finished up his work quickly, starting to feel the tension in the bridge crew about his presence, especially since he was a new transfer on board the Discovery. He put the regenerator back into his kit. “If you get a headache, come and see me, ok?” he advised before making a rapid exit. Crewman Klein, unwilling to let another of his new crew mates get hurt, glanced over at the operations station.
“Mr. Henson, perhaps you should reroute power away from that science station, at least until the engineers get around to dealing with it. They probably have their hands full right now.” He then took a moment as Crewman Henson started tapping at his console, to mutter under his breath about exploding consoles, the bane of anyone working on a starship.
Lieutenant T'Koris was about the head for sickbay with the gel pack when her commbadge beeped again. She sighed, pausing to listen to the message.
-Crewman Henson to engineering. We've got a problem with a fuse in junction 12 near the engine room. It looks like it's about to blow. I'm reducing energy levels through that section to 65%, but you're going to have to work fast. You've got ten minutes before it goes!-
Cursing under her breath, the engineer dropped the box containing the gel pack, grabbing her toolbelt instead as she ran out of the department, tapping her commbadge as she went.
-Acknowledged, Crewman, but it's going to take longer than ten minutes. You're going to have to either reduce energy levels or bypass it completely. There should be an auxiliary somewhere you can use until I get there and figure out what went wrong.-
Seven minutes later, she found the appropriate section, poking her head inside to get an even closer look. Taking out her tricorder, she started to scan the rat's nest of circuitry to find the problem, looking for an area where the temperature was higher than the rest. Spotting it, she made sure that all power had been rerouted, creating a temporary bypass system, just in case, before she carefully eased the faulty component out of its socket, swapping it for another. She pulled out her tricorder again, making sure that no other repairs were necessary. She frowned as the scanning device picked up an abnormal a little further down. She removed the next panel, peering inside, tricorder still scanning. One of the plasma conduits appeared to have a higher than normal pressure reading. She tapped her commbadge.
-T'Koris to engineering. It looks like one of the plasma conduits outside the main engine room is close to rupture. I need you to by- - A fissure appeared in the conduit, spewing plasma into the corridor. She howled in pain, scrambling away as blisters formed up her arm. Gritting her teeth, she forced herself to pick up her tools and make use of the drop in pressure to seal the fissure. She fell back into a sitting position, her back against the wall, hoping that someone in engineering had sorted out the problem. They should have. They were all qualified engineers. She glanced up at the sound of footsteps and Crewman Briggs came running down the corridor, accompanied by a medical crewman.
Three hours had passed since the ship had arrived in orbit and received the data packets. Another few minor glitches had turned up, but the engineering teams had tracked them down and fixed them. Captain Bradley, sitting in his ready room with lieutenant Armstrong of the science department, was still concerned. He had teams checking every single system on the ship to try to predict the glitches and fix them before they could impact the operation of the ship, but there was nothing else that could be done for now. The list of stolen items and where they had been stolen from had been loaded onto several PADDs now strewn across his desk as well as other pieces of crime scene data on his screen. He sighed heavily, putting his head in his hands.
“This is busting my brain. A collection of spare parts that you could by cheaply anywhere, some provisions and a handful of weapons. It's hardly the heist of the year.” He looked up at the lieutenant. “What do you make of it, Lee? You were into espionage at one time. What does your S31 training tell you?”
Lieutenant Armstrong had his arms folded, leaning back in his chair as he contemplated the available data, trying to draw some form of conclusion. “I think the biggest thing here is that everything that's been stolen is common, not valuable. The only thing that's drawing any attention to it is the fact that there's nothing to draw attention to it.” He tapped a few buttons on the PADD in his hand. “If we take some of the things taken from Archer Four, and then this Andorian colony, along with what was stolen from here...” H merged the two lists together and transferred the data to the screen on the Captain's desk. Something inside Lieutenant Armstrong's mind clicked into place. “It's a ship. Everything that's been stolen in the past nine months. It's enough to build a small ship.”
“A ship? What kind of ship? Why would someone want to build a ship out of spare parts and why in this region of space?”
“With the amount of materials? They took a good supply of Duranuim about six months ago, enough to make a ship about 80 metres, maybe? Small and fast. A good combination for anyone wanting to keep raiding.” Lieutenant Armstrong brought up a star chart, each raid site highlighted y a yellow dot and connected by a broken line. “There's very little in this region of space: a couple of sensor relay stations, a trading post and an old Starfleet facility that's been decommissioned.”
Captain Bradley stiffened. He remained silent for a moment. This information was classified, but he had to make everyone aware. The stakes had just been raised. They were going to have to go all in, and the game had just turned into Russian Roulette.
“It's not decommissioned. Well, officially it is...” He sighed heavily, trying to think of how to phrase the next part. “It's an old Earth base. It was used for scientific research, but recently to store classified information, enemy technology, everything we do not want people to know about.
“It was named Cold Station 12.”
Before Lieutenant Armstrong could answer, Commander Munro strode into the ready room, having spent the last few hours confined to sickbay and was now unable to find out why the ship seemed to be falling apart at the seams.
“Scott, what on Earth is happening?”
Captain Bradley looked up at his First Officer. “We may have been infected when we received that data packet transmission. We're also piecing together this mystery.”
“Infected? All I know is that I'm definitely feeling those plasma burns.”
“We've been experiencing a lot of glitches with the ship, leading to a lot of accidents. The data packet may have had some kind of virus that got into our systems.”
“Let me see that PADD,” she said, taking it and scrolling through the text. “Look at this. The base code behind this. It looks familiar. I've seen this somewhere.”
“This line here. Is that... Is that 21st century HTML?”
Lt. Armstrong folded his arms, frowning slightly. “Why would someone send us programming almost 300 years out of date?”
“Not the slightest,” Commander Munro replied.
Captain Bradley was growing more and more frustrated as well as uneasy. The questions were building up and they were no where near close to finding any useful answers. “I don't know, but we need to get moving. Lee, tell helm to set course: 251 by 045. Warp 9. Riley, I need a word.”
As Lieutenant Armstrong left the ready room, Commander Munro looked at the captain, worried about what he needed to talk to her about. His tone of voice had set her on edge.
“Yes, Captain?” she asked, watching as he paced around. That in itself was unusual and unsettling, seeing the Captain so uncollected. She waited patiently for him to gather his thoughts enough to speak to her.
“What I'm going to tell you is classified, Ro, it can't leave this room. This could have repercussions if my hunch is right.”
“Of course,” she replied in a hushed tone. “But, Scott, you're scaring me. What's going on?”
“This place we're heading for? Cold Station 12? It used to house some of the deadliest contagions known to Man. It was officially decommissioned in 228. Unofficially, it's being used to continue carrying out its research. Since the turn of the century, they've been sent everything we've encountered out here: Borg technology, the Teplan blight, Ketracel white. Absolutely everything has been sent there.
“If these raiders are working in this area and have the know how to infect the ship... I shudder to think what would happen if they broke into this facility.”
“Oh god... What are you planning? If that is the case, the Federation is at risk! Missions could die!”
Captain Bradley stopped pacing, standing by the window, watching the streaks of light go by as the ship passed star systems at warp speed. The severity of the situation was written clearly on his face, reflected in the dark glass for Commander Munro to see. “Whatever we have to. Cold Station 12 is a closet and it's our job to make sure the Federation's skeletons stay in there. Whoever has been stealing in this area had intimate knowledge of Starfleet procedures. Hell, they even managed to make a ship out of spare parts! Whoever we're dealing with is intelligent and extremely cunning.”
“Have you spoken to Kawolsky?”
“Not yet, there may not be time.”
“What do you need me to do?”
“Take us to red alert. And have our engineering teams work overtime on those glitches. If we encounter these raiders, I want the ship to be at full strength.”
Commander Munro strode out of the Captain's ready room, back out onto the bridge. Despite the yellow alert lights flashing, the crew seemed vaguely relaxed. Shame that was going to have to change. She raised her voice loud enough to demand the attention of her crew mates.
“Red alert! Bring this ship back into top shape!”
Chief Greegy sprang into action, sounding red alert. The yellow alert lights turned red, the siren started up, echoing throughout the ship. “Red alert, weapons armed, shields at 100%,” he reported.
Commander Munro nodded in acknowledgement, tapping her commbadge. - Munro to engineering. I need you to get all those glitches fixed like, yesterday. If we encounter the raiders, I don't want to do it weak. -
-Acknowledged, Commander. We'll do our best. -
Captain Bradley stepped out of his ready room a few moments later as Lt. Christopher announced from his helm station that the ship was dropping out of warp. They had reached their destination, on the edge of a dense asteroid field.
“Holding position, sir. What's our next move?” he added to his report.
“Full sensor sweep. Tell me if there's anything in that field.”
“Scanning now,” announced Lt. Armstrong from the science console. “I've got something, sir, an impulse trail leading away from the base, but it just ends... in the middle of the field. They couldn't have gone to warp from inside the field, sir. They'd have been destroyed.”
Captain Bradley rubbed his chin. “This is getting stranger. They couldn't just dis-” he stopped himself in mid-sentence. “Lee, pass the coordinates to tactical. Sheelaf, bring phasers down to 5% power. Fire a full spread around that area. Look for any sign of impact on a cloaked hull.”
“Multiple low strength hits, sir. There's something cloaked out there, and we just poked the beehive.”
Lieutenant T'Koris walked back into engineering, clenching and unclenching her repaired hand. Sickbay had done a good job, just a little bit of residual ache left. She looked around the department, where most of the team were running around, repairing small glitches before they had a chance to interfere too much with the ship's functions.
“Welcome back, Lieutenant,” Crewman Briggs said with a nod. “We have reports of several small problems, and the bridge hasn't given us much time to get them all fixed.”
Lieutenant T'Koris nodded in acknowledgement. “Ok. Our priorities should be life support, weapons, shields and propulsion. We don't want to get caught like sitting ducks if it comes down to fighting.” No sooner had those words left her mouth than the characteristic sound of the ship's phasers being fired echoed through the department.
“I guess weapons and shield come first,” Crewman Briggs added.
“Reports show that we hit something and are now in pursuit!” Called out another crewman.
Lieutenant T'Koris and Crewman Briggs turned to the nearest console, the officer checking the reports and readouts on the combat systems.
“Ok,” she said. “This is going to make our jobs harder. We need to be able to predict things going wrong before they even happen or affect our combat effectiveness. Otherwise, the Captain's going to want to know why we couldn't, and I'd rather not end up in that situation.” She smiled faintly at the crewman, pushing a lock of hair that had escaped her plait behind one pointed ear. “I hope you're ready for some hard work!”
“Bullseye!” Captain Bradley said, smiling as he clenched his right fist in triumph. Turning away from the main helm station, he took a seat on the captain's chair. “Bring them back up to full power, Chief. They'll have to decloak.” Within seconds, a small ship appeared out of nowhere, speeding out of the asteroid field, heading straight for the Discovery.
“They're running, sir! They can't take us in a fire-fight so they're hightailing it out of here,” Lieutenant Armstrong reported from the science station. Captain Bradley leapt out of his chair, returning to standing behind the helm station, one hand resting on the back of the seat.
“Take us after them. Ready weapons. We'll try to disable them,” he said, his eyes fixed on the image of the fleeing ship on the main view screen.
“Yes, sir,” Lieutenant Christopher said as he began to give chase. Flipping the Discovery on her axis, he increased power to the impulse engines. The raider's ship turned sharply, evading them. The pilot ground his teeth as he noted how fast and manoeuvrable the raider's ship seemed the be at sub-light speeds. “She's a slippy little ship, I'll give them that. We'd better take our shot soon!”
“Laying in target now,” Chief Greegy reported. “Firing now!” He unleashed a blast from the phaser banks, aiming for the other ship's engines. The ship swerved, the shot going wide. “Missed!”
“Keep firing! We can't let them escape!” Captain Bradley said, leaning over the back of Lieutenant Christopher's chair, scanning the readouts on the helm console. “Get us within spitting distance, Alan.”
“There's an energy build-up in that ship,” Lieutenant Armstrong called out. “It's not their warp reactor, sir, it's something else. A transmission.” Within second, whatever it was hit the ship. Consoles on the bridge flickered briefly before going black. Power failed. Main lights went out, replaced by the emergency backups. “Some kind of back door into our systems! It must have been there from the data packets we received, sir! Power down to reserves only!”
-T'Koris to Bridge, what's happening up there? We were reading all systems active a moment ago!-
-Bradley to Engineering. Some kind of transmission's knocked out our systems. We're dead in the water. Do what you can.- The Captain turned to the science stations. “Lee, do we have sensors? Are they still out there?”
The science officer could only slam his fists into his console. All they had were short range sensors and the raiders had jumped to warp. “Nothing, sir. I'm sorry. They're gone.”
“Damn it.” Captain Bradley sighed, looking at the bridge crew and taking a deep breath. “Let's start purging our systems. Send out a distress call. We're not going anywhere.”
Lieutenant T'Koris tapped a fingernail on the flickering console, trying to think of a solution. If it was something that had come in with the data packets, then there was no real component that they could simply replace. It was all in the computer. She was sure that she had read about something like this before. If the systems were still running, she could simply access the library computer and find out, but there was no chance of that until she found a way to fix the systems. The trick was to get the transmission out of the computer, but how?
A minute later, she could have kicked herself for not seeing the obvious. She had to shut down the computer core and wipe the infected memory. If necessary, she could fill in any gaps with the data from the back up core. Grinning to herself, she strode towards the turbolift, only to walk into the door. Of course. Systems were down. That meant another foray into the jeffries tubes. Joy. At least it was only one deck. She tapped her commbadge as she headed for the tubes.
- Bridge, I think I have a solution to the problem, but I'm going to have to take the main computer core offline for a moment.-
Crewman Briggs followed her, snagging a toolkit before helping the Lieutenant engage the manual override on the jefferies tube hatch. “What do we need to do?” he asked.
"We need to get to the computer core, take it offline, wipe the memory from the past day or so and then reboot it with the data from the secondary core," she said, starting to climb up the ladder to the deck above. She paused briefly to look down at him. "Think you're up to it?" She asked jokingly.
“I'm on your six, Maverick,” he replied teasingly before realising that she couldn't understand the reference. “Never mind. Let's do this.”
They climbed through the tubes, repeatedly hitting their heads off the ceiling in their haste. They clambered out once they reached the main computer core chamber.
“So... have you ever done this before?” Crewman Briggs asked.
“Nope,” Lieutenant T'Koris replied cheerfully, “but there's a first time for everything.” She made her way over to one of the consoles that still looked as if it was receiving some power. Taking a tricorder from her toolbelt, she logged her security clearance code into the console before tapping her commbadge.
-T'Koris to Bridge, we're about to take the computer core offline. All systems now being rerouted through the auxiliary.- Glancing back at the crewman, she took a deep breath. “Ok, Mr Briggs, here goes.”
"Ok." Kyle responded. "My fingers are crossed." He watched as she tapped in a few commands that finished rerouteing the systems and than a few more commands. A moment later, the core blinked offline. "How long do we need to wait to reboot?"
"If we're lucky, this should only take a couple of minutes,” she answered. "I'm going to need your help here. Take the other terminal. You'll need to put in another request to reboot the computer core." She looked down at her console, accessing the reboot commands, keying in the algorithms necessary to wipe the memory. Crewman Briggs moved into position at the other terminal, inputting his security codes and the start of the commands.
“I'm ready here, Lieutenant. Just say when.”
Lieutenant T'Koris nodded as she put in the final codes on her side, trying to think her way through all of the possible impacts their work would have on the rest of the ship.
The two crew mates pressed the final keys to initiate the reboot sequence. A few messages flashed on the consoles, relaying the data from the core, reloading its data from the previous day's logs.
“I sure hope this works,” Crewman Briggs said to Lieutenant T'Koris.
“So do I,” she replied. “Because I have absolutely no idea what to do otherwise.” She kept an eye on the console, monitoring the computer core readings. One minute later, the readings hit zero, and the core began its start up procedure. She tapped her commbadge.
-T'Koris to Bridge The computer core has been rebooted. Is there any change up there?-
- Bradley to T'Koris. " We're showing minimal power here. Keep up the work. You should have some help soon, the U.S.S Missouri is responding to our distress call.-
“That sounds promising,” Crewman Briggs offered. “Nice work, Lieutenant.”
Lieutenant T'Koris put her hands on the edges of the console, leaning against it.
"It may sound promising, but it's not good enough. They only have minimum power up there and I have no idea how to bring it up to full power," she said, tapping a nail against the glass of the terminal.
"You do that a lot don't you?" he asked as he nodded toward her tapping finger. He then continued discussing their options. "As we've never done this before, I take it that we don't have a clue as to how long the reboot takes? Could there be some way to tap into the warp core to speed it up?"
She glanced down at her hand, having been unaware of her tapping. She balled her hand into a fist. "No, I don't know how long it takes for the core to reboot, nor do I know if this is all it's going to take to sort out the system problems," she answered. "Any ideas?"
"None at all at this point. They didn't exactly cover this method at the Academy. I think we're lucky you even thought of it. At least the systems will be working if this does the trick. As for speed, I wouldn't even know how to make it reboot faster. All the systems are tied in together pretty much. We'd need a separate power source."
"It was in a technical journal I read. Chief Engineering Officer La Forge of the Enterprise D once used that method to get rid of a virus in the computer systems," She rubbed the faint scars that formed a V on her forehead, remnants of the Romulan skull formation that had been removed when she had been a child. "The reboot shouldn't take more than half an hour, I should think."
"Hmm. I'm surprised they didn't have us read that one. I may have to look it up for myself."
"It wasn't required reading at the Academy, I just had a lot of spare time on my hands at the time.” She paused, thinking. “There should be more we can do to get this ship back at peak operating efficiency, but I can't think what."
"You know? You've been running all over the ship. Why don't you at least sit down and rest a bit?" he suggested.
"You sound like my mother," she muttered. A moment later, she apologised. "Sorry, that's pretty much an insult. Come on, we'd better get back to Engineering and monitor the rest of the systems. Make sure that nothing else is going wrong."
"Sounds good. Think this bucket of bolts has powered up enough to use the lift or should we take the tube again?”
"You do realise that by calling this ship 'a bucket of bolts', you've just insulted the entire Engineering crew, including yourself?" She shook her head in mock dismay. "Since I'd rather not chance walking into another door, we'd better just take the jeffries tube. It's only one deck after all, and it's good practise." After checking the console readings one last time, she headed for the jefferies tube, crawling inside.
“You know, sometimes I think the old girl's trying to tell us something. She's been through a lot. Maybe she just doesn't have the legs for it any more,” Captain Bradley said, standing next to the dark tactical console on the bridge.
Chief Greegy nodded, patting the console tenderly. “Aye. Reckon it's time for a major refit, you know. We've pushed her hard these past few years, harder than we should have done.”
“Hell, what we've been through? Would have crushed a lesser ship.”
The Chief looked wistfully around the bridge, remembering old faces of crew mates who had either transferred or had been killed in the recent struggles. “I sometimes wonder: If a ship could talk, what would she say?”
“I'm not sure I'd want to hear it.”
Four hours later, Lieutenant T'Koris paced around Engineering, nursing her wounded pride. Teams from the Missouri had been crawling around the department, making her feel as if her competence was under scrutiny, as if she hadn't made all the repairs possible, or missed something. It put her on edge. She leant on the railing around the warp core, looking down at the teams busying themselves with the repairs. She bit back a growl. One of them had even patted her on the shoulder and said that she had done well so far. So much for her first deep space assignment. If she was that good, then why were there Engineering crews from another ship crawling around? Her fingernail began to tap on the railing as she glared into the offline core. There was nothing else left for her to do here, just watch the other teams scurry around like ants. Oversee the Missouri Engineering teams. Yeah. What a riveting job.
"You're doing it again." Crewman Briggs said with a smile as he walked up behind Lieutenant T'Koris and nodded toward her tapping nails. The Lieutenant's head snapped round as she sensed someone behind her, but relaxed as she recognised Crewman Briggs' voice. She turned her gaze back to the teams working on the systems. She gripped the rail harder to stop her nail tapping. "Listen. I can understand how you feel." he continued as if reading her mind. "I feel it too but we did what we could. At least we got most of the virus out with your reboot idea so don't let this knock you down and out."
"This is my first deep space assignment, Crewman. Limping back to dry dock towed by another starship because of an Engineering problem was not exactly how I imagined it to happen."
They stood there in silence for a moment and watched the other repair crews down below before he turned to her once again. "Hey. Why I don't I buy a drink and we can sit and talk about what do to the next time it happens."
She ran a hand through her hair. "You know what? A drink once this is all over sounds like a good idea.”
Captain Bradley sat at the desk in his ready room, staring at his screen. The Discovery was being towed back to dry dock by the Missouri and the repairs to the main computer were underway with T'Koris was overseeing the work. He was looking at the latest updates, hoping something would pop up about the raiders. There was nothing so far, much to his frustration. He opened his next file to see something he had not been expecting. He immediately got up and marched out of the ready room, across the bridge to his First Officer's ready room. He didn't bother to knock on the door, walking straight in to confront his second in command. He stood in front of Commander Munro's desk, dropping a PADD onto the polished surface.
"Mind telling me what this is?"
"What? What is it? I have no idea what you are waving at me,” she replied, looking up in surprise from the reports she had been reading, confused by the Captain's actions.
Captain Bradley folded his arms, looking disbelievingly at Commander Munro. "Transfer orders? Did you know about this? Kawolsky never told me you where taking command of the Gibson!"
"Transferred?!" She yelped in surprise. "I had no idea, and why? Is this some sort of punishment because we're together?"
Captain Bradley held his head in his hands. Of course she didn't know, she would have told him. “I don't know, this is messed up. Things are finally getting back to normal here.”
"Now what?" She asked, her eyes beginning to gleam as tears gathered there.
" I suppose... I suppose we do our duty. "
THE DISCOVERY CREW
CAPTAIN – Scott Bradley
FIRST OFFICER – Commander Munro
Master Chief Petty Officer Sheelaf Greegy
Lieutenant Commander Reece Thompson
Lieutenant Alan Christopher's
Crewman Adolph Klein
Lieutenant Lee Armstrong's
Ensign Saffir G'Tollikos
Crewman Lewis Henson
Lieutenant Junior Grade Archangel T'Koris
Crewman Kyle Briggs