1.2 Broken Wings

The USS Discovery is surveying a remote system when it picks up a distress call from the USS Albatross, a Galaxy class ship. When the Discovery goes to investigate, it finds the Albatross literally ripped apart. The Discovery must find out what happened to the Albatross... and avoid the same fate...

SHADOWFLEET – TASK GROUP ALPHA

U.S.S. DISCOVERY

Broken Wings

Captain Bradley stood by the window in his ready room, staring out at the long streaks of light as they passed star systems at warp speed on their latest mission, a PADD in his hand. He was going through the latest reports from Starfleet on the raider situation. It had been over a month since their catastrophic attempt to apprehend them, leaving the Discovery in dry dock for weeks while engineering teams cleared the virus out of their computer systems. Now they were back in open space, exploring the unknown, just as they should be.

Only it wasn't. With the recent commissioning of the U.S.S. Gibson into the fleet, Riley and several other crewmembers had been transferred off the Discovery. Whether it was on their request or not, he didn't know. Sometimes it felt as if the Discovery had revolving doors these days. While he was happy for Ro, becoming commander of the Gibson, he still found it hard to be parted from her. Even so, life on the starship went on. He glanced up as his door chimed.

“Come in,” he said, turning away from the window and placing the PADD back onto the pile on his desk. His new first officer stepped inside, the newly promoted Commander Thompson. He stood by the door as it slid shut behind him. Captain Bradley smiled slightly, noting that he now wore command red instead of his more familiar yellow.

“Welcome, Commander. How are you finding the new uniform?”

Commander Thompson took a step forward. “Well, the new pip is a tad heavy, and I don't think red is quite my colour, but beggars can't be choosers,” he replied with a wry smile. “What can I do for you, sir?”

The Captain motioned for the Commander to take a seat before opening one of the cabinets around his desk. He pulled out an aged bottle of scotch and two glasses. He poured a small measure of alcohol into each glass, sliding one towards Commander Thompson.

“Just checking to see how you were getting on, and to continue an old tradition on the Discovery.” Captain Bradley raised his glass slightly to the Commander before taking a drink. “Kawolsky did the same for me when I became First Officer. Please, drink.”

Commander Thompson picked up the glass, taking a sip, testing it. “Seems like a good tradition.”

“One of the finest.”

The Commander paused to think before answering the Captain's question. “Everyone seems to be accepting the transfers smoothly.”

“What about you? How are you finding the extra duties of a First Officer?”

“Well, I find the extra reports a bit tedious, and I'm bad at keeping time myself so the duty rosters are pretty funny at times, but I'm sure I can handle it.” He downed the scotch before proceeding to play with the glass. A question had been buzzing around the back of his mind ever since he had been told about the promotion. He looked back up at the Captain. “What made you choose me, sir?”

Captain Bradley finished his drink and placed the glass back on the table before he answered Commander Thompson's question. “You're a sound officer, Reece. In the short time you've been aboard, you've shown good leadership qualities, tactical prowess and guts. Those are the sort of things I need from my First Officer. I have to trust them, and you seem like the sort of man I can trust.”

The Commander nodded. “Thank you, sir,” he said before he stopped playing with his glass and slid it back to his captain. “And thank you for allowing part in this tradition as well.”

“You're welcome, Commander. Now, what do you say we go out and complete this survey? I'm dying to get back and get a real assignment from the brass.”

“Sounds good, sir,” Commander Thompson said as he stood up, turning and leaving the ready room. He walked straight past his new post, the chair to the right of the Captain's, heading instead towards the tactical console, where Master Chief Petty Officer Greegy was working with one of the new tactical crewmen.

“I'm going to miss this console,” Commander Thompson joked, tapping the glass top. Crewman Warez smiled, speaking up:

“No worries, sir. I'll be glad to help tend it for you.” The Commander nodded, stepping away from the console and trudging down to his new station, sitting in the First officer's chair. He logged into the small computer build into the arm, reading through a few reports an monitoring the systems.

A moment later, Captain Bradley stepped out of his ready room, taking up a position standing in the centre of the bridge before turning to the science console.

“Lee, what's out status? Almost finished updating our records of this sector?”

“Almost finished, sir,” Lieutenant Armstrong replied. “There's not much out this way. Looks like we've been regulated after our last mission.” The science officer turned away from the console to look at the Captain, sharing a laugh with the senior officer. Before he could deliver a more detailed report, his station erupted into insistent bleeping. He turned around quickly, pressing a few keys. “Captain, there's a distress call coming in!”

“Where's it coming from?” Captain Bradley asked before turning to Chief Greegy. “Can you get anything from the signal?”

“Federation,” Chief Greegy replied, accessing the Fleet's database to get more information. “U.S.S. Albatross. Galaxy-class, sir.” He analysed the message itself in an attempt to uncover more detail about the other ship's situation. “No contents. Just a general beacon.”

“Sheelaf, take us to yellow alert,” Captain Bradley ordered. As the alert lights began to flash, he turned to the helm station. “Klein, alter our course to intercept. Increase speed to Warp 9.”

“Aye, Captain,” Crewman Klein acknowledged.

“Commander Thompson, have sickbay and engineering stand by with relief teams, they may be needed. Let's move people! Every second counts!”

Lieutenant Junior Grade T'Koris sat at her post, running diagnostics on the ship's warp engines. So far, there was nothing to report. All systems functioning within normal parameters. Hardly surprising after all the repair work that had been done back in dry dock. Her hand rested on the console, one nail tapping on the screen ad her eyes scanned through the data.

-Commander Thompson to engineering and sickbay. I need teams ready now. Stand by for further instructions. -

She looked around the department, where amany of the veteran engineers of the ship had simply listened to the message and gone back to their duties. She spotted Crewman Briggs walking into engineering and over towards her station.

“Any word on what's going on?”

In sickbay, Crewman Xoran was startled by the call from the bridge. She made her way out of her office into the main body of sickbay where the rest of the medical team were going about their work. Keeping a very bored expression on her face, she took hold of a trolley of equipment and shoved it into a wall. Several crewman at the resulting crash, looking over at her with either surprise or irritation written on their faces. Obviously, they hadn't been expecting such a bid for their attention. Once she had everyone looking at her, she started to talk in her characteristic monotone.

“Ok, everyone,” she said. “The nut jobs on the bridge have ordered us to be on standby for whatever mess they're planning to make. Normally, I would just shrug it off and let them fix it themselves, but there's something different about this situation. Now, I need you all ready so that it won't be my head on the platter is the medical department is caught with their shorts down.”

“And some people say Cardassian doctors have no tact,” muttered a voice from the back. A Cardassian doctor was watching Crewman Xoran with his arms folded. He then spoke up a little louder, as politely as his harsh accent would allowed. “Ma'am, any idea what kind of scenario this is? It would sort of help to know what we're up against.”

Crewman Xoran's eyes fell on the junior crewman. Kakarot, she thought his name was. It was strange seeing a Cardassian in Starfleet after so many years of conflict between the Federation and the Union. It was the same sensation as seeing an animal walking on its hind legs at the zoo.

“I have no idea. We should prepare for the worst.”

Crewman Kakarot sighed. “Maybe one day, I'll find a Federation ship where the medical staff is informed of what's happening.” Realising exactly what he had said, looking around at the flurry of people who were actually from the Federation and not defectors. “Um... No offence.”

“Coming out of warp... Now, sir,” Crewman Klein announced as the stars stopped streaking past the ship, resuming their normal shape on the viewscreen.

“All stop, keep us here, Mr Klein,” Captain Bradley said before making his way over to the tactical console to join Commander Thompson and Chief Greegy. “Bring up what we have on the Albatross. What's her current assignment? Do we have a record of what she's doing here?”

Chief Greegy shook his head, bringing up what little information they had on his console. “She's listed as deep space exploration. Nothing on top of that. Not even a route.” He paused, drawing a couple of conclusions. “Something's awry, sir.”

“Awry?” Commander Thompson questioned, looking between the two. “That's not a pleasant word to hear. What is it?” Captain Bradley reached past his First and tactical officers, pressing a few buttons on the console, pulling up a more detailed scan of the area, focused especially on the Albatross.

“She's got minimal power,” he observed. “Only pockets of life support seem to be functioning. She's drifting out there, right in the middle of a small asteroid field. Her deflector shields must still be partially working or otherwise she'd be pulverised.” He folded his arms, using one hand to rub his face as he contemplated the next move he'd need to make. He noted absent-mindedly that his stubble was growing. He must have forgotten to shave that morning. He turned to face Commander Thompson. “All right, Commander, you're going in. Take a rescue team in a runabout. The field's too dense for the Discovery. The Chief will go with you, as will Crewman Warez.” he turned to face the front of the bridge, thinking about who else to send. “Klein, you're taking a little stroll. Report to Shuttlebay 1. Have Lieutenant T'Koris and Crewman Briggs report to the runabout as well. And send our new Cardassian medic. The Doc has been telling me he's itching for some action.

“Reece, find out what happened over there. Report in as soon as you're docked.”

“Yes, sir,” Commander Thompson said, nodding to Chief Greegy. He tapped his commbadge.

-T'Koris, Briggs and Kakarot, report to Shuttlebay 1 ASAP. -

Lieutenant T'Koris had been about to tell Crewman Briggs that she had no idea what was going on when Commander Thompson's orders came through the comm channels. She shrugged at the crewman as she acknowledged the message.

-Understood, sir. We're on our way.- Leaving her post, she took a toolbelt from a storage locker, wrapping it around her waist as she looked back at Crewman Briggs, who was retrieving his own tools.

“We have our orders. I guess we report to Shuttlebay 1 to find out what's going on and what we need to do,2 she said as she turned to walk towards the turbolift. Crewman Briggs fell into step alongside her.

“Engineers, medical and we're taking a shuttle? This has got to be good,” he commented.

“I don't know. I guess we'll find out when we get there.”

Commander Thompson stood silently in the turbolift as it descended with him and part of his away team from the bridge. He glanced at Crewman Klein, the pilot for the mission.

“You have flown a runabout before, right?”

“No, sir, I haven't,” he replied. “For some reason, they didn't want to spare the budget for the high warp ships in flight school. Mainly type six shuttles and older models than that.” He paused for a moment to let that sink in before he smiled at the Commander. “Worry not, sir, I've put in plenty of time on the holodeck on various types of craft, including the Danube-class. I'll get us there easily enough.”

Commander Thompson smiled. “Check out the comedian over here,” he jabbed back as the turbolift doors opened onto the shuttlebay. The shuttle was out on the launch pad, waiting for them. The Cardassian doctor was already there with his med kit, and the two engineers were walking across the bay. He waited for the away team to gather around the door of the shuttle before speaking.

“Chief, you already know what's happened. Can you go check everything is in the shuttle? Weapons, equipment, EVA suits, the usual stuff for a recon mission.” Chief Greegy nodded, climbing into the shuttle. Commander Thompson began pacing up and down the length of the shuttle. “All right, the rest of you. Clip notes: We picked up a distress call from the U.S.S. Albatross. A Galaxy-class starship on a deep space assignment. It was a general call, no details given. Further scans detail that the ship is in a bad way, so we're going to go in, recon the area, see if we can get a rough idea of what happened, then report back. I can only assume that Captain Bradley will bring the Discovery if we deem it safe.” He stopped pacing and looked at each member of his team. “I want constant scans of the area. I want to know everythingm all the time..”

Chief Greegy stuck his head out of the hatch as Commander Thompson stopped filling in the junior crewmembers on the mission. “Everything looks in place. We'll have more than one rifle this time, at least,” he reported. “Only a few suits thought. Until we have life support restored, we'll only have a few of us on the Albatross.”

“More than one rifle. That makes a change. With the suit limitation, then Briggs, Klein and I will stay on the Higgins. Chief, if you could lead the away team, find out what turned a Galaxy into a ghost ship.” He heaved a sigh, smiling slightly at the crewmembers under his command. “All aboard.”

Crewman Klein took his place in the pilot's chair, automaticall starting the pre-flight checks as the two senior officers took their places at the front of the shuttle. He glanced back, seeing the other teammembers looking a little unsure of where they were supposed to be.

“If you're wondering where to sit, plenty of space at the rear of the cabin,2 he suggested to them before addressing everyone in the shuttle. “Everyone please be seated and strap youselves in. We'll be doing some manouevering in this asteroid field to reach the Albatross and if you're flying around the rear of the cabinm that might distract me. Once everyone Is situated, we'll be taking off.” his voice then took on a light, airy tone. “Please remember to keep your tray tables in the upright position and, once we're underway, Mr Briggs will be providing the customary drinks and inflight snacks.”

“What? No movie?” Crewman Briggs called out from the back of th shuttle.

Crewman Klein shook his head jokingly at the engineer before bocoming serious again, finishing his pre-flight checks. He glancced back over his shoulder to make sure that everyone was seated properly before turning to Commander Thompson.

“All systems go, Commander. Permission to get underway?”

o Thompson opened a channel to the bridge from his console. -This is Runabout Higgins to Discovery. WE're not leaving. We've got our keys, so don't wait up. - Closing the channel, he looked at Crewman Klein. “Get us there in one piece if at all possible.”

“Aye, Commander. Duty asside, I do have very selfish reasons for wanting to get there in one piece, as it is my hide too.”

Once the runabout was clear of the Discovery's shuttlebay, Crewman Klein engaged the impulse engines at one quarter power, flying a wide loop around the ship and heading towards the asteroid field and the Albatross. Lieutenant T'Koris looked out of the porthole as they entered the field. A Galaxy-class starship in trouble? That was pretty rare, from what she had understood from classes at the Academy. There were all manner of fail-safes built in to avoid such breakdowns. What could have happened to render all of them inconsequential? She pulled out her tricorder, checking it over, more for something to do zith her hands rather than any technical reason. Crewman Briggs glanced over at her.

“A Galaxy-class, huh? What in the universe could hurt one of theose?” He said with a grimace. He then turned a little more serious. “Be careful over there.”

“Don't worry about me, Mr Briggs,” she replied. “I fully intend to return to the Discovery in one piece. Just make sure that you do the same.”

Crewman Klein kept an constant eye on the sensors and proximity displays. A few keystrokes on a close-by console activated theshields and deflectors. It was a dense asteroid fiels. Accidents could happen easily. With a practiced hand, he ran his fingers over the touchpad that controlled the thrusters, carefully piloting the ship. Although he was capable of blazing through the field at full impulse, it was an unnecessary risk, so he remained at one quarter impulse. He kept close to the larger asteroids whenever possible, whose natural gravity field repelled the smaller ones. Doing so required an indirect course towards their destination, but Commander Thompson had made it clear that he wanted them there in one piece

An urgent beeping started to his left. The proximity detectors! An asteroid half the size of the ship was closing in fast. He accelerated with a quick burst from the thrusters, trying to clear the oversized shuttle from the asteroid's path. He heard one of the crew members in the back gasp. He flew close to another moon-sized asteroid, staying out of the way of any other small ones. As they rounded the rocky object, the Albatross entered their field of vision. A ghost ship. No lights were on, not even the ship's running lights. The warp nacelles zere dark and silent. Crewman Klein slowed to thrusters alone as they approached the Galaxy-class ship.

“There she is, Commander,” he stated.

“Nice flying, Klein,” Commander Thompson commented as he ran a quick scan. “Looks like main power is offline. Power losses all over the ship. EPS grid seems to have been shattered. Even Engineering looks like a death trap.”

Chief Greegy, alalysing the image of the abandoned ship on the main viewscreen, leaned forwards to tap Crewman Klein on the shoulder. “Take us closer. Let's try to get a view through the portholes... uh... windows... things,” he said. “The mess hall has a large window. We'll beam into there so you'll be able to see us.”

“Uhm, Chief? The mess hall is a large windoz. Completely open to space,” Commander Thompson pointed out as he ran a more detailed scan on the interior of the ship. “The battle bridge in the main hull is still perational, I think. I'll put your team in there. Get them suited and booted. First priority, clean up Engineering and possibly the bridge, then find out what happened. And watch your backs over there. No telling what happened.”

Archangel unclipped her safety harness, getting to her feet and checking her toolbelt one last time. Before retrieving an environmental suit from storage, she walked up to the front of the shuttle.

“Commander, do we have any leads on what happened over there?”

“No leads yet. That's your job,” Commander Thompson answered, looking up at the junior lieutenant with a wry smile. “Go and get an EVA suit on. I'll be beaming you all over when you're ready.”

With a nod, she moved back into the rear section of the craft. Somehow, the though if figuring out what had happened to to knock out such a ship seemed like a daunting task, but one she was prepared to rise to. If nothing else, it would be interesting to see what had managed to bypass all of the fail-safes built into the systems. She pulled an environmental suit out of a storage locker, tugging it on, checking it over for defects as she did. She didn't expect to find any, but that didn't stop her from looking. Once kitted up, she stood next to her seat, one hand resting on the back of it. True to habit, she began to tap a gloved finger on the headrest. Crewman Kakarot glanced at the other members of the away team. Everyone seemed to be remarkably calm about the fact that they were beaming onto a ghost ship. He shifted his med kit into a more comfortable position under his arm. If there were any wounded or survivors, the bulky EVA suit was going to make it difficult to treat them. Then again, If he needed the suit to get to them, chances were that they were already dead.

“Everyone ready?” Chief Greegy called out, his voice muffled slightly by his helmet, but crystal clear through the suits' communication channels. The members of his team nodded, acknowledging his question in the affirmative. The Chief opened a channel to the cockpit of the shuttle. “Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast,” he said before adding for clarification: “Meaning ready for transport.”

“Good luck,” Commander Thompson wished them, moving over to the transporter controls. “Energising.” He turned back in time to see the four members of the small shuuttle's crew disappear in the familiar blue light of the matter stream. He glanced at the viewscreen, at the ship his four crewmates now stood on. “Klein, keep us at a safe distance, but still in transporter range.” He turned around to yell into the rear section of the craft. “Briggs! I could use a hand up here!”

The engineering crewman made his way quickly to the front of the shuttle, willing to show enthousiasm for his first away mission.

“Where do you want me, sir?”

“Take the engineering console. Try to get us a clear line to the Discovery. We need to keep them updated.”

“We expecting her to blow up if she hasn't already?” Crewman Klein asked as he carefully held his position in the asteroid field, just close enough to the Albatross for the transporter locks.

“At this point, I’m expecting Species 8472 to pop out of fluidic space and finish the job,” Commander Thompson replied as he worked on opening a comm channel to the away team. “Until I know what’s happening, keep an eye out for everything.”

-Thompson to away team. You get over there ok?-

-Yes, now let us get on with it.- Chief Greegy replied tersely as he pulled out his tricorder, scanning the area. The battle bridge was silent and dark. Not even the emergency back ups were working. The only light came from the torches built into the EVA suits. The Chief glanced at the screen of the tricorder as it finished its scan for life signs or any humanoid remains. “Empty. The crew were probably on the main bridge,” he reported as he turned to his assembled away team, starting to dish out the tasks. “T’Koris, see what you can get from those consoles. Logs, anything like that.”

“Acknowledged, Chief.”

“Warez, secure the corrisdor outside.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Kakarot, you go as well. See if you can find any of the crew.”

“Aye, Chief.”

Lieutenant T’Koris sat herself down next to one of the dark consoles, pulling out her tricorder and hoping that whatever had taken out the ship hadn’t done too much damage. As she waited for the results, she looked around the battle bride. She shivered a little. Dead starships, especially ones where the cause was unknown, came pretty high up on her ‘Hallowe’en horrors’ list. She could hear Crewmen Warez and Kakarot move out into the corridor, on alert for anything out of the ordinary. She glanced up as Chief Greegy walked over to her.

“I don’t want to rush you, but... Uh, no, actually I do. Ler’s get out of here ASAP.”

“Understood, sir,” Lieutenant T’Koris replied. “It looks like the EPS overloaded, including all the auxiliary systems. I’ll need to get down to Engineering to try and track fown the problem. There should be a couple of power cells in the storage lockers down there. If I connect those to a console, I should get enough power to get the ship and crew’s logs.”

Chief Greegy was about to answer shen a yell came over the comm channel.

-Crewman, report!- The Chief ordered.

-It’s ok, sir. I’ve got a body here. It jumped me. I’m gonna send it back to the Higgins, run a proper scan and autopsy.-

Crewman Kakarot closed the comm channel, looking at the body that had fallen on him as soon as he had forced one of the doors open. He took a transporter tag from his med kit, pinning it onto the body, opening a comm line to the shuttlecraft.

-Kakarot to Higgins, please beam tag 034 to the rear section. I’ll follow in a few minutes. I suggest full quarantine proceedures.-

-Understood, Crewman. Setting quarantine field now.- Crewman Kakarot watched as the body at his feet slowly dematerialised in the familiar blue matter stream. -We have the body, Kakarot. He’ll be waiting for you here.-

Before beaming himself back to the shuttlecraft, he looked arounf the room. It still had some power, and a console screen was lit up. Crewman Kakarot walked over to it, reading the data displayed there. What he found out was somewhat disturbing. He opened a comm line to the leader of the away team.

-Chief? The quarters I’m in have power. It looks like he was in the middle of a log entry. You’d better get here now. You’re going to want to see this.-

A few moments later, Chief Greegy joined Crewman Kakarot standing in front of the console.

“Why, you got yourself into a fine situation with that body, eh? What do you need to look at?”

“It appears he was halfway through a log entry before whatever it was that happened... well, happened,” Crewman Kakarot explained. “Take a look.”

“Personal Log, Lieutenant Mark Chambers.

We've been on a deep space assignment for a few days now. Charting asteroid belts towards the edge of the Alpha Quadrant. Not the most fun thing we've been assigned. You'd have thought that was stuff for a science vessel, but they've got us doing it.

There's rumours going around the ship that this area of space is haunted by strange anomalies... ha, superstitious cadets on their first assignment probably.

...

Whoa, the ships shaking like mad...

*All Officers report for duty*

What the.... AHHHH

AHHHHHHH....”

“Whatever happened here, it was fast and it gave no warning,” Crewman Kakarot observed.

Chief Greegy nodded in agreement. “And it’s also possible that it’s still around. Pack up your kit. We’re heading back.”

-Chief Greegy to Commander Thompson. It’s beaming up with logs from some of the crew. T’Koris can take over here.-

-Alright, beaming you back now. Kakarot, he have your friend as well, whenever you’re ready to see him.-

Commander Thompson activated the transporter controls, bringing the two crew members back aboard the shuttlecraft. He frowned slightly as a burst of static came over a comm channel. He boosted the gain, trying to clear up the message. It was still faint and very distorted, but it managed to punch through.

-Captain Bradley to away team. We read you Commander. What’s the report? Have you found out anything about what happened?-

-We’ve got a body and a log entry. We’re going through it now and Kakarot is about to start work on the body.- Closing the commline and glancing over to the Engineering console, he spoke to Crewman Briggs.

“Can you reconfigure our scanners to pick up any and all spatial anomalies? I don’t want whatever happened to the Albatross to happen to us.”

“Aye, sir,” Crewman Briggs replied, looking down at his controls, starting to recalibrate the sensors. “I’m picking up a lot of gravimetric disturbances, sir. It could be part of the problem. I’ll keep an eye on it.”

“Good work, Crewman. Forward the results to Mr Klein. he’ll need to know how to avoid them.”

“It might ruin our day if I flew into one without knowing it,” Crewman Klein muttered.

Crewman Kakarot looked at the body lying on a collapsible biobed in the rear section of the shuttlecraft. There were no obvious external wounds, nothing serious enough to kill him in any case.

“Computer, run a level 1 medical scan on the cadaver. Show the results on this screen,” he said, activating a nearby console. He also picked up a medical tricorder, running a faster level 5 scan to get some preliminary results. Massive internal trauma. Severe internal bruising and some bleeding. Very strange. It didn’t make much sense to him. The console bleeped as the results of the level 1 scan came through, showing the same strange results.

“Commander, could you come look at this, please?” he called towards the front of the craft. Commander Thompson stood up from his post, moving into the rear section. He took a position on the other side of the biobed. Normally, he would have stood next to the doctor, but he still felt uneasy around the Cardassian. He looked at the console, a little confused by the readings.

“What is that?”

“Well, sir, as you can see, there are no external wounds that would cause his death. His quarters had no breach and the life support worked. He had no reason to die.” He paused yo tap a few commands on the screen, enlarging the results of the level one scan. “He died of massive internal hemorraging. He was literally shaken to death. His internal organs were thrown around his body, getting severely bruised and most of them bled.”

“Shaken to death? Like a child?”

“Yes, sir. I’m no engineer, but I’d say that the same thing happened to the ship. The way the power grid and hull are broken, it looks like it was shaken apart, but you’d have to ask Lieutenant T’Koris about that.”

“Keep me appraised,” Commander Thompson said before heading back to the cockpit. “Briggs, keep both eyes on that scanner. As soon as those anomalies do anything, you let me know. Klein, keep you foot on the accelerator. I want us to be able to move in a heartbeat..”

-Thompson to T’Koris. Keep an eye out for a fresh corpse for our Cardassian doctor. On a side note, is it possible for a Galaxy-class to be... to be shaken apart?”

Lieutenant T’Koris, trying to manoeuvre her way through the jefferies tubes in the bulky EVA suits, followed by Crewman Warez, as per the Chief’s orders. She took a moment to think about the Commander’s question.

-Any ship can be shaken apart given the right stresses, sir. All it takes is a slight malfunction or a fault in the power distribution to the deflector array of the inertial dampners. I’ll check it out when I get down to Engineering, and there should be a few corpses down there for the doctor to play with.-

She finally dropped down into the main Engineering department of the Albatross. There were several people down there. All dead that their stations. She had to take a moment to close her eyes, fighting down the trepidation before she took two transporter tags out of her toolbelt, pinning them onto the uniforms of two of the corpses, trying not to think too hard about what she was doing. Dead people had always made her a little squeamish. She tried to keep reminding herself that they had died honourable deaths, doing their duty.

-T’Koris to Higgins. I’ve tagged another two bodies for the doctor. Transport when ready. I’m going to try to get into the library computer and find the logs. T’Koris out.- Rummaging through the storage lockers, she looked for the spare power cells that all ships carried. Several were missing, which she took a note of. Perhaps it was nothing more than the possibility that the ship hadn’t been able to get back to a starbase recently to restock, but it could still be a clue to finding out what had happened. Finding a power cell, she connected it to one of the less damaged consoles. The screen light up, flickering slightly with the irregular energy flow. Unsure of how long the cell would hold up, she quickly accessed the library computer, searching for the logs. She cursed under her breath. Whatever had happened on the ship had fragmented the data on the computer core. Finding anything, let alone anything whole, was going to be difficult.

Crewman Briggs frowned as he kept an eye on the sensor readouts. One of the anomalies had changed position. He double checked it against the previous data. It had appeared to have moved approximately half a metre. he knew that it wasn’t much, but when you took into account the fact that none of the others had moved...

“Commander Thompson?” He called to the back of the shuttlecraft. “You way want to see this as well, sir.”

The Commander walked back up the cockpit, taking a moment to beam the bodies Lieutenant T’Koris had tagged to the makeshift sickbay before taking a look at Crewman Briggs’ console. He frowned slightly. He had never seen readings like that before.

“What’s the problem, Crewman?”

“I was comparing a previous scan with a present one, and according to that comparison, theanomaly had moved. None of the others have, but this one is slowly but surely making its way here.”

“Let’s see if it’s moving towards us, or we’re just in its way. Adolph, thrusters only. Take us 100 metres starboard. If it turns with us, it’s definitely attracted to us, and not in a way I approve of.”

“Aye, Commander,” Crewman Klein acknowledged the order.

-T’Koris to Higgins. I have the logs on a memory chip and I’ve looked through all the data I can get to. We might want to get our backsides out of here as soon as possible.-

-Archangel. Ready your team. We'll beam you back soon. We're just testing a theory at the moment.-

-Acknowledged, Commander, but I would advise you to stay away from any gravitational anomalies you find out there. I believe that they may have been responsible for the destruction of the Albatross.-

Crewman Klein, following Commander Thompson’s orders, fired up the aft starboard thruster and the bow port thruster to turn the Higgins ninety degrees to the ordered course before engaging bow aft thrusters to slowly move the runabout away from the anomaly in order to test the theory. Crewman Kakarot stepped into the cockpit with a faintly concerned expression.

“Sir, it’s the same. All three bodies died from being shaken to death. It’s definite.”

“There is goes, sir,” Crewman Briggs said before Commander Thompson could respond to the doctor. “It’s moving in the same direction that we did. It doesn’t seem to be getting any closer, but it is staying within a certain distance of us.”

“Alright, that’s enough. Klein, stand by to take us back to the Discovery.”

-Thompson to T’Koris. Archangel, prepare your team for immediate beam out. We’re heading home home. Signal us when you’re ready.-

-T’Koris to Thompson. We’re ready now, sir.-

-Stand by.- Commander Thompson activated the transporter controls. A few seconds later, Lieutenant T’Koris and Crewman Warez were back aboard the shuttlecraft. The commander turned back to the crewmen in the cockpit.

“Klein, punch it. Briggs, keep an eye on those scanners. And see if you can push anything out of those engines. I don’t want to get remotely close to one of those Anomalies.”

“Delighted, sir,” Crewman Klein responded. “Coming about and raising shields.” Lieutenant T’Koris, remembering the flight to the Albatross, dove for her seat,securing her safety harness. No sooner had the shuttle gotten underway at one quarter impulse did the proximity alarm go off. Crewman Klein cast a quick glance at his sensor readouts. They told him everything he needed to know.

“Damn it! That anomaly is closing fast! Everybody hold on!” he shouted to the rest of the away team. A squeak came from Lieutenant T’Koris’ direction. With several quick taps on the computer screen, Crewman Klein activated the manual control stick and accelerated to full impulse, which was almost suicidal in suck a dense asteroid field. Gripping the control stick with one hand, he focused on navigating, jinking and swerving the large shuttlecraft. With his other hand, he shunted power from the aft shields to the forward. If this anomaly could take out the Albatross, the Higgins wouldn’t be saved by all the shield in the Alpha Quadrant.

With his proximity alarms still bleeping, he glanced at his sensors. The anomaly was still gaining on them. Several small asteroids were being deflected by the front shields, creating a number of distracting flashed on the visual navigation screen. They weren’t going to be able to get away without a miracle given the rate the anomaly was catching up with them. he looked out of the port window. There was a large asteroid about four times the size of the shuttle with a very convenient-looking hole in it. he prayed that the half-baked plan would work. There was no time to ask Commander Thompson. If it didn’t work, they were dead. Then again, if he didn’t try it, they were probably dead anyway.

He swung the shuttlecraft towards the asteroid. The sensor readouts confirmed that the anomaly was following them, still gaining on them. The second before they came into he gravitational influence of the asteroid, he lowered the shields, ignoring the dismayed shouts from the crew. he didn’t have time to explain to them that the shield diametre around the runabout was bigger than the hole in the asteroid. He flew straight into it with less than half a metre between the hull and the rock. Suddenly, he wouldn’t have minded taking a smaller, type 6 shuttle, even if it meant being a little cramped. As the runabout exited the hole, it shuddered violently. The pilot swore, fighting to bring the ship back under control.

“The starboard nacelle is damaged. Warp’s not possible, but everything else seems functional,3 he reported. As he glanced at one of the screen that showed the view from the rear of the shuttle, he saw the anomaly come into contact with the asteroid. Slowly, the gap between the Higgins and the anomaly began to widen. A few moments later, they were free of the field and speeding towards the Discovery. Commander Thompson put a hand on the pilot’s shoulder.

“Damned good flying, son,” he said before opening a communication channel to the Discovery.

-Discovery, this is Higgins. Request permission to dock, then suggest we get the hell out of here.-

-Roger that, Higgins, docking approved.-

Once the shuttle had landed, the crew disembarked. Lieutenant T’Koris was glad to be back on the Discovery. She was pretty sure that it wasn’t about to go hurtling through an asteroid field at break-neck speeds any time soon. She walked around to look at the damaged nacelle. A jagged gash ran the length of it, dripping a pale blue fluid onto the shuttle bay floor. Definitely not a quick fix. Crewman Klein was going to have to file a formal damage report and repair request.

As Commander Thompson stepped back onto the bridge, Captain Bradley turned to him. He didn’t bother with a greeting, instead getting straight to the point.

“Commander, take the tactical station. Load quantum torpedoes. We’re going to scuttle the Albatross.”

“Aye, sir,” Commander Thompson answered, making a quick detour to the science console where Lieutenant Armstrong was on duty, tossing him the memory chips that contained all the information gathered from the Albatross. “Armstrong, analyse the data on these chips when you get a moment. Klein swears blind he saw a ship after we escaped the field. We need a second look at it.” Moving off to take the tactical console, Commander Thompson tapped in the commands to prime a spread of quantum torpedoes. “Shame to see a good ship go to waste in such a way,” he remarked as he fired. On the main viewscreen, several streaks of blue light hit various structural weak points on the Galaxy-class’ broken hull. The ship exploded violently, the internal blasts finishing what the quantums couldn’t. “The Albatross is gone, sir. I suggest we go as well before those anomalies find their way through the asteroid field.”

Captain bradley sighed. Another ship lost and they were still no closer to finding out why someone would attack them. At this rate, there was going to be no fleet left for them to fight with.

“Get us out of here, Alan. Warp six.”

Four hours later, en route back to a starbase, Commander Thompson and Captain Bradley had been summoned to the science lab by Lieutenant Armstrong. When they arrived, they found the chief science officer sitting at a console, hard at work.

“What have you got for us, Mr Armstrong?” the captain asked.

“Commander. Captain. As you know, Crewman Klein was sure he saw something when the runabout was heading back to us. At first, it seemed as if there was nothing there, but using our lab, I’ve spotted something.” He pressed a few keys, bringing up the enhanced image on the screen. Despite everything he had done to it, it was still hard to decipher. “Do you see, here? It’s hard to make out, but it looks like the profile of a small ship.”

“Can you enhance the image?”

“No, that’s the best we have, Commander. Now, usually this would be useless, but look here.” Lieutenant Armstrong pointed out a small section of the ship’s outline, to an element that was barely visible. “That spatial distortion? That’s caused by the ship’s exhaust being expelled. I ran a scan on it, and we have a partial match for that particular reading. Just one. The ship that escaped from Cold Station 12.”

Captain Bradley frowned at the screen. Could this small speck on the viewer be the same ship? He leaned over the consolem his brow furrowed as he sighed.

“It looked like our raiders just got a lot more adventurous.”

Later, Captain Bradley sat in his ready room, working on his report and informing Admiral Kawolsky of the situation.

“So, with some kind of device, they’ve created heavy gravimetric distortions. it ripped the Albatross apart. We recovered what we could, but the ship was lost. I gave the order to destroy her.”

Admiral Kawolsky, sitting in his officer on the other side of the screen, sighed. “I’m sorry to hear that, Captain, but you did what you had to do.” After a moment’s pause, he asked: “Were there any survivors?”

Having seen some of the bodies brought back on the shuttle, along with Crewman Kakarot’s report, the Admiral’s question brought those images back to the forefront of his mind.

“None. most of the ship was exposed to space, and what bodies we found had their insides almost liquefied. Sickbay said they were shaken to death.”

The Admiral bowed his head, thinking of the one thousand strong crew that had served aboard the Albatross, and perished with her. “That’s unfortunate. Captain Macdonald was a good man. The Albatross had a fine crew.” A few more seconds passed as both men thought of the loss to the fleet before Admiral Kawolsky broke the silence. “What’s the Discovery’s ETA back to Starbase 83?”

“We should be back in around six hours.” Another few seconds silence passed. “We’ve got to find out who these raiders are, Admiral.”

“Agreed. Get yourself back here for some R and R, then we’ll debrief. Kawolsky out.” With that, the comm channel was terminated, leaving just the Federation logo gracing the screen.

==/\==

THE ACTORS OF THE USS DISCOVERY

COMMAND

Commanding Officer - Captain Scott Bradley

First Officer - Commander Reece Thompson

HELM

Lieutenant Alan Christopher

Crewman Adolph Klein

SECURITY

Master Chief Petty Officer Sheelaf Greegy

Crewman Warez

ENGINEERING

Lieutenant Junior Grade Archangel T’Koris

Crewman Kyle Briggs

SCIENCE

Lieutenant Lee Armstrong

MEDICAL

Crewman Trisha Xoran

Crewman Kakarot

The End

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