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Shuttle Craft Down - Part I

Posted on Wed Sep 26th, 2018 @ 6:28pm by Commander Martin Sorenson & Commodore Yoshi Minawara & Captain Ewan Darrow & Commander Jonathan Mantell & Lieutenant Commander Nathan Frye & Lieutenant John Evans & Isabella Cerin

Mission: A Misguiding Hand
Location: Main Bridge
Timeline: MD01 - Following "Mercury Falling IV"

Yoshi had just returned to the bridge, newly affixed pips out of place with the basic Command uniform, when the junior lieutenant standing at tactical looked over with an expression that was somewhere between concern and shock. "Captain, we just received a large packet from the runabout with Commander Mantell and Lieutenant Marc, but we also detected weapons fire and have since lost connection with the craft." Pausing mid-step, Minawara considered his next actions carefully, turning to regard the man. If the aliens had fired upon the runabout, that was a declaration of open hostility, and he could reason with the Federation a cause for returning fire; and yet, he was sure if he did so, Isabella would have his skin. Instead he looked up to the heavens, or more specifically the hidden microphones throughout the bridge.

"Commanders Darrow and Sorenson to the bridge, Ms. Cerin as well," he said and moved to take the centre seat of the bridge, a frown on his face. "What's the status of the alien ship?" he asked, fingers drumming on the arm of his chair, a standard show that he was, in some way, agitated.

"They seem to be standing down now sir," came the response, "Settling back into their previous position. Should I lock weapons?"

"No," replied the Commanding Officer with a frown, "but stand us up to Condition Yellow, and prepare to them to make a move. I don't want to be caught with our pants down. And start unpacking the information from the shuttle. See if we can track their previous trajectory and where they went."

Sorenson had headed to for a turbolift as soon as the call came. Given two Mirans out in a shuttle, a call to the bridge that included himself and Ms. Cerin did not bode well. When yellow alert sounded a moment later, he hurried all the more. Fortunately, lifts were located close for direct access to medbay, so he arrived quickly.

"What's happening?" he asked as he stepped onto the bridge.

Turning to face out from the front of the room, Yoshi tracked his Second Officer as he traversed the bridge. "We lost communications with the runabout that Jack was one. We're tracking an ion trail that leads towards the planet, but it doesn't look good. It also looks like the aliens are the ones who seem to have fired on it, but have since basically stopped." The CO turned back to the front viewer, which currently displayed the alien ship as it sat. The Vesta had since stopped caring about them knowing they were being scanned, and had turned the full power of its sensor arrays on the ship, giving them a fair idea of what they were up against. Technologically there weren't all that far off from the Federation, seeming to use some form of phaser technology and similar shields. The key difference came from the fact they seemed to be about a hundred years behind. At least, that was how it appeared based on this smaller ship, who knew what the bigger ship would do.

The doctor's gut clenched as all of the possible injuries, up to and including death, that might result from a shuttle crash flashed through his mind. "Life signs? Do we have any readings on Jack or Nolan?" he asked urgently.

Izzy stepped quietly onto the bridge, catching the tail end of the explanation of events, but given the doctor's expression and words, decided against inserting herself into things just yet and instead stood off to one side where she was visible but hopefully unobtrusive to operations.

Ewan appeared from the forward lounge another fresh cup of tea in his hands, it was almost becoming funny how often he was being found with one these days. "Jesus I leave for 5 minutes to get some more tea and all hell breaks loose." The Executive officer said as he set the cup down on the pool table and stared down at the scan results, "Nothing too fancy, looks like they're a little bit behind tech wise. Seem to be compensating with extra power though, might explain why the shuttle went down so easy."

"So they're not a threat to us. Do we know what damage they've done to the shuttle's crew?" Martin asked pointedly.

"Well, I can tell you she didn't break up until impact." Ewan said as he rolled back the scan logs of the shuttle's descent into the planet's atmosphere, "At least not that sensors recorded. Visual scans show the shuttle in pieces planetside but I can't confirm life signs, scans are being deflected by some kind of ore in the region that's been intensified by the crash, threw a bunch of debris into the air. We'll need some time to isolate what ore it is, then calibrate the sensors to counteract the interference."

"We may not have time for that if we can see it that clearly, even primitive satellites will have picked up that it's not some meteor. It's going to be crawling with the locals pretty quick," replied Yoshi with another annoyed drum of his fingers on the armrest. "Lieutenant Commander Frye," he said turning towards ops, I would like you to work on that regardless, see what you can get me for a better scan of the planet and the surrounding area. If we can avoid detection or any more interference, I would prefer that. That being said, we need to hail that alien ship, they have some explaining to do." He turned back towards the main viewer. "Open a channel," he said.

Having monitored the tactical station on the bridge John had immediately headed for the bridge when he saw there was a situation on the bridge. He arrived just in time to hear the last few words. He quietly walked over to the tactical station and took over from the officer on duty after a whispered well done.

"On it," Nathan said, turning back to his console, his attention momentarily on the communications officer as they tapped into the communications buffer to open the channel.

"Unadentified vessel, this is," Yoshi paused and reminded himself of recent changes before continuing, "Commodore Minawara of the Federation Starship Vesta. You have recently fired upon one of our vessels, and we would like an explanation." The words were curt and to the point.

After several minutes, a being appeared onscreen, ostensibly one of the masters of the unidentified vessel in question. Clearly not humanoid in origins, the creature was composed of a large, ridged shell from which a softer body emerged. Curving tentacles formed the bulk of the soft body, with textured skin in a variety of patterns, one side appearing to have some kind of flaring crevasses or openings that could grasp something beneath them. Three eyes, blinking independently without any appearance of synchronization between them, were set in a triad pattern beneath the shell. Below them, a firm beak emerged, its coloring different than the rest of the being, closer in pigment to the larger shell. The beak was fringed with tiny limbs, similar to the larger tentacles that appeared to function as the being's main appendages, these instead waved and fluttered by some unseen current or force.

When the being spoke, the sound appeared high pitched and thready, and instead of the being's face opening to emit sound, the beak in particular stayed closed, the tentacle's grasping orifices appeared to flare and retract instead. "Federation, yes, this is familiar." The patterns on several of the tentacles appeared to shift, changing in colors from warm to cool hues, several distinctive shapes that coalesced into something that vaguely resembled the an arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, with colors and shapes within the arm that seemed to have some kind of significance. "The chorus has heard tell of an oppressive empire out here by this name. The chorus did not seek hostilities, but we will defend ourselves."

Martin was fascinated by the appearance of the alien. In this sector of the galaxy humanoid or at least bilateral symmetry was by far the most common for advanced life forms, so this one was in a rare category. His first thought, however, was that given its appearance, it was unlikely that it had agents - or at least agents who could blend in and travel - on the planet, which meant they wouldn't be down there looking for Jack and Nolan. Though if the Mirans had been badly injured in the crash, he wasn't at all certain if the medical care of primitive humanoids like the Braxians would be preferable to the advanced if decidedly nonhumanoid medical science of these beings. (Presuming of course that either one would make the treatment of injured aliens a priority). However at the words 'oppressive empire', he looked toward Izzy, lifting an eyebrow.

"I think," replied Minawara with a slow and thoughtful statement, "that there has been some kind of misunderstanding, for all parties involved. First and foremost, we also are not looking for hostility, nor do we have any plans to attack you, but you have fired on one of our shuttles without provocation, and from us, this draws an investigation." Taking a minute, the Commanding Officer turned to Isabella, then back to the display. "We were attempting to learn if you were members of this species or not, trying to figure out the status of this planet, and it's technological progress." It was, in short, a white lie to see if the aliens themselves would reveal their intentions. "I also feel like, perhaps, you have some confusion around the Federation as whole."

"Shuttle? This was the vessel you sent ahead of your attack?" The creature's body onscreen suddenly shifted, pigments in the outer skin of one of its tentacles coalescing into a new pattern, a form that vaguely resembled a box. That box morphed and grew elongated and sprouted a pair of pods underneath, with details popping into place as the image appeared to sharpen. Now a Federation shuttle could easily be made out upon the creature's skin. It moved constantly, and then all of the sudden a new form appeared, and quickly encountered the depicted shuttle. The shuttle tumbled, its engines smoking, as the planet Brax took form upon the cephalapod's body, rising quickly to meet the shuttle, which turned into a fiery bullet before meeting an explosive end against the inky planet. The pigments reformed, playing the scene over and over again, though throughout the creature said nothing and its expression remained, to the eyes of the humanoid creatures watching it, neutral. "Maneuvering erratically, appearing like space debris, the chorus immediately understood its hostile purpose. Only enemies sneak."

"This planet is a protectorate of the Qoird." The creature continued, the colors of its body shifting in hues, warm colors becoming cool. "Ours to nurture. The chorus will not see such potential wasted, its voice will strengthen ours."

So they had claimed the system, Yoshi mused to himself. This was going to make for a very uncomfortable situation of the recovery of his crew. Regardless, while the Prime Directive was now a secondary thought, he had other issues to concern himself with, first of which was trying to deescalate. "I assure you, we had no intentions to become enemies, merely standard operating procedure when dealing with a less technologically advanced species is to try and gather as much information as is possible. We were afraid that if we flew the shuttle nearby too aggressively, that would have been perceived as a threat. Clearly we were mistaken. For now, we would like to recover out vessel and it's crew, and then we will depart your territory," replied the Commanding Officer, motioning for Isabella to come closer. "This is Ms. Cerin, a member of the Diplomatic Attache on this vessel, who I would like to have take an opportunity to set up proper communications between our peoples, do that we may avoid further incidents."

Izzy stepped forward to stand alongside the captain, quickly mulling her options: They knew absolutely nothing about this species nonverbal communications, so the usual sorts of subtle indicators of respect or attention she might otherwise give were out as options. "Yes; we would welcome the chance to further mutual understanding between our peoples."

The creature paused for several seconds, beak arms waving, skin colors shifting, graspers opening and closing, but no voice was heard. Finally, it spoke again, "No communication is necessary. You will depart this system."

"As soon as we recover our missing crewmen, we will be on out way," the Commodore spoke, crossing his arms in a subtle stance of defiance. He knew he wouldn't leave until his crew was back on the Vesta safe, regardless of claims to territory. He also knew if the creature wanted a fight, it would be decidedly onesided for the Federation vessel, even if he didn't want to potentially start a war.

The Qoird's colors shifted again, this time becoming very neutral and uniform. This image appeared only briefly before the screen went blank, and the communications abruptly disconnected.

"Well." Izzy's eyes flicked from one side of the screen to the other, then back to her own hands and finally meeting the captain's eyes. "That was decidedly abbreviated." One hand stroked a finger against her other hand, as if deep in thought. "Given their seeming resistance to further contact, sir; I'd recommend against attempting to hail them again at the moment. As we've stated our intentions, I would instead continue to carry out our search for our personnel."

"Let me second that motion, sir," Martin put in. "The cockpit may have been intact, but we don't know what shape our people are in, and if they can't get outside of whatever search the Braxians are bound to have underway I'd hate to leave them to what passes for medical care down there."

"I agree, let's see if we can't get a better sensor sweep of the planet. Mister Sorenson, put together a ground team if we can't get a lock with transporters, work with Mister Frye however you need. Miss Cerin, get on the line with the Federation Diplomatic committee, the last thing we want is backlash when we get back. Fire off your full report and get back to me with their decisions. Mister Evans, I want a full sensor survey of that ship, tell me what we're up against here, I don't want to be caught with out pants down." The Commanding Officer stood. "You have the bridge Ewan, I'll be in my ready room, I have some work to do." Without waiting to see what happened next, the man took the steps towards his office, disappearing behind off the bridge.

"Aye Captain," Evans said and started the requested scans. As the first data came in he saw the officer on the other tactical station had already started reviewing the incoming data and couldn't help but be relieved that he didn't had to say what needed to be done. He returned to the data on his own station and started reviewing it as well, so they could give the Captain a complete survey as soon as possible.

Martin simply nodded affirmation, and immediately set to his task. He'd done a bit of search and rescue before and already had an outline of supplies and team (and a plan for quick nose jobs so they would blend in). However, he needed some additional information first. "Mr. Frye, get me surface scans near the crash site - sensor estimates of closest safe distance for transport and visual scans for movement. I doubt we'll see Jack or Nolan, but I can't imagine the Braxians won't investigate so we need to know what may be moving toward them." Turning to comm, he added. "What's the chatter on their news feeds about this? Also, can we pick up anything from their military or local defense bands?"

"I can pinpoint the trajectory the shuttle took from their last known location." The computer was working at narrowing down the radius of where the ship would have gone down based on their observations of atmosphere, gasses and other forms of interference. It seemed to be doing a quick job of it. "The area looks to be remote and the motion sensors aren't picking up anything, either." That didn't really mean anything given the actual terrain. It wasn't exactly flat land they were dealing with given the computer's inability to give them a clear picture of the planet. He checked on the last read-out. "I've got a generalized area narrowed down to the impact site." It was outside the general populated area, but still close enough to warrant actual timeliness.

"News is reporting on the impact, but without specifics at the moment...Current speculation seems to trend towards a meteorite, though some of the more...excitable...outlets are talking about aliens again." M'rrina's ears and tail flicked. "If they were able to conceal themselves and destroy the vessel, it's possible there may be little for local authorities to find when they reach the site. Official channels have chatter on plans to reach and secure the site, mostly."

"Then we better to get them soon. Keep an ear on that chatter - we need to know if they find Jack or Nolan, or think they have a trail to find them," Martin replied. "Mr. Frye, get me closest coordinates for a spot outside the transport interference and populated areas. We'll keep the rescue team small to avoid anymore notice - me for medical, security, a tracker, and a xeno-anthropologist, in case we can't avoid locals."

He glanced around the bridge. While taking half the bridge crew on an away mission wasn't exactly 'best practices', it also wasn't exactly rare in Starfleet actual practice. There was a decent reason for that too: when a fast response was needed bridge crew generally had been watching the relevant events unfold so could go quickly with little prior briefing. In this case, they had also been listening to broadcasts from the planet and so had a better feel for Braxian society than anyone else aboard. Most of the skills he'd want were right here too ...except that he very much doubted the wisdom of even asking Izzy to come along to fill in the last slot. The doctor turned to Ewan. "Who would you recommend for a xeno-anthropology specialist?"

to be continued...


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