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A Return Delayed [CD]

Posted on Fri Jul 24th, 2020 @ 11:07am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Chief Petty Officer Charles Stephens JR

Mission: Interlude 4
Location: SS Corona
Timeline: 26 April, 2395 - 1300 Hours


Charles was dozing in and out with the hum of the shuttles warp core as hypnotic sound. He was excited to be getting back to the Firebird. He had heard there had been some changes to the crew, but even so he was looking forward to getting back and back in the swing of things. He had really enjoyed the extra training he had but it was time to get back. As he sat there falling in and out of consciousness he was surprised at how much he missed Empok Nor as well. It was a heap of old metal but something about its halls and promenades where familiar and Charles couldn't wait to look out and see the station growing in the field of view.

Just as he found himself really start to fall into a deeper sleep the ship shook and many alarms started to sound. This jarred Charles awake as he looked to the front they where coming out of warp very violently. "What and the hell was that?" He asked the shuttle's pilot.

The pilot, a young Ensign named Camden Holbach, looked over their shoulder with a confused expression. "No idea, chief," they said and then turned back to the controls. "Warp engines are failing, main power is falling, helm is... sluggish," Ensign Holbach said as the shuttle lurched once more and then dropped out of warp. The sudden blackness of deep space was jarring, as was the sudden silence as the warp engines howled and then cut out completely. Holbach spun around in their chair. "Looks like someone missed something on our maintenance. Usually, these Runabouts are pretty reliable."

"Scan the Area find out where we are." Charles moved his way to the front of the shuttle. He sat down in the chair adjacent the Ensign. "The problem is they are very reliable so I don't like that it just cut out like that." His voice started to trail off "Wish Harlan was here." He said almost to himself.

Ensign Holbach nodded and did as the Chief said. "Looks like we are almost exactly between DS9 and Empok Nor, chief. I'm not picking up anything on the long range scanners. Initiating short range sensor scan across all spectrums. Maybe something happened recently. That will take about an hour to complete though. You think I should call for help?" Holback asked

Charles sat back thinking about what was going on. What scans they had was not showing much. The initial diagnostics were not showing anything either. "Yes send a level three distress call to both DS9 and Empok we need to let them know."

"On it, chief," Holbach said and their fingers flew over the control panel. "Distress call sent. Should reach them pretty quickly. Without main power I don't know whether we will be able to talk with them. I'm a pilot not an engineer." Halbach smiled. They sat back in their seat and turned around to look at the shuttle. Realistically, even on emergency power, the shuttle was safe for days. Starfleet made sure that there were redundancies built into everything. They looked at the Chief. There hadn't been much conversation when they'd departed but there was only time to spend now.

"So what's bringing you to Empok Nor, chief? Kind of an unusual place," Holbach said.

Charles chuckled at the observation. "Home" He said plainly with a grin forming on his face. "I am kinda unusual myself so we fit well together." He continued to explain. "Not so much the station as the USS Firebird." His voice oozed of admiration for the ship. "Baddest little ship in the fleet."

Holbach raised an eyebrow. "Really? I thought the Defiant was the baddest little ship. What kinds of scrapes have you all been in?" Holbach asked. They'd never been anywhere but DS9 and most of that had been in the shuttlebay. All of the interesting stuff had happened on DS9 before they'd been born.

Charles started to think back of where they had been. "Not sure you have the clearance for those stories, son." He gave an evil grin as he replied. "Let's just say you probably wouldn't believe me if I told ya." He outright chuckled as he thought about Yumi, Jackson, and his adventures.

Holbach sighed. Another example of being the low person on the chain of command. "I get it, chief. My security clearance will barely get me into the shuttlecraft. Although this one time..." they started and then a loud thump sounded from the top of the craft. Holbach wasn't a veteran officer but even they knew that there shouldn't be thumps in space.

"What the hell?"

Charles was sitting back ready to listen to a good story before the bump. At Holbach's question Charles looked back at him. "You're the pilot why you asking me?" He said before he started in on an open console to try and get some answers.

Holbach frowned. "But we weren't moving! It isn't my fault." They moved to their console, examining the readout. "Ok... so I am seeing that we collided with some kind of small rock object and... huh. It looks like it stuck to the hull."

Charles turned his attention from his readouts and peeked over Holbach's shoulder. "What in the hell is that thing.." He trailed off "see if we can get a better look at it." He was intrigued more the worried. "Is it a rock or man made?"

"Definitely not man made. But it is showing organic material mixed in with the inorganic material. Maybe this is some kind of new life form!" Holbach said, excited at the prospect of such a discovery. "Whatever it is, it is firmly attached to our hull. Do you think we should send a transmission about this or handle it ourselves or.... something?"

Charles was at a loss. While he specialized in the Intel field he stayed away from science and engineering for a reason. He knew nothing about it. "I think we need to get a call out to someone of what is going on. Also we should start running scans to see if it is emitting any energy or radiation of any kind they may pose a risk to us."

"Aye, chief," Holbach said and started working on the scans. They figured that was the more urgent problem. They certainly didn't want to get irradiated. "Looks like nothing on the standard spectrum that indicates radiation. I am picking up a very low level energy reading. It is something I've never seen before," Holbach said and brought up the scan on the display for the chief to see. "It seems to be some kind of energy source. And... I think it is sending some kind of signal. Attempting to locate the direction of the transmission. Maybe you can send the transmission?"

Charles looked at the energy signature with bewilderment. He had little clue what he was looking at some the thought of sending the transmission was a good idea. As he slide back to his console and pulled up long range coms. "Empok Nor, DS9, or any stations that can respond this is the SS Corona we are enroute to Empok from DS9 and have been thrown out of warp and have an object attached to our hull. We are in need of assistance please respond." After listening to his recording he setup to send it on a loop transmissions with his security code. Now they just had to hope someone would answer the call.

Five minutes later the comms sounded.

=^=Corona this is Deep Space Nine Operations. We read you in the clear. We will dispatch the Defiant to your location to render assistance. Please let us know if your situation deteriorates. DS9 out=^=

Holbach grinned. "Oh man, the Defienat is coming? I've wanted to check that ship out for a long time. Have you ever been aboard her, chief?"

"I can not confirm or deny that information." He said with a coy smile as finally they had some better news going. "So any luck getting any systems up and running?" He wondered not wanting to be just sitting here waiting for help if they could help themselves.

Holbach shrugged. "I'm a pilot, chief, not an ops guy and I finished dead last in my class in engineering. So, I'm trying but..."

The pilot was interrupted by a large clanging sound that came from the top of the craft, echoing loudly. "Chief, I think there's something up there."

"What in the actual hell. Let me guess we don't have any eyes on what that might be do we?" He said as he sprung into action and grabbed a phaser from the back cabinet. He then made his way over to the EV suit locker. 'I really don't want to put this crap on' he thought.

Holbach watched the chief get up. "Maybe we should both go. I can set the shuttle up so that if something happens to us it will transport us right back. Like if we get knocked out or something," the pilot said. They'd never had the opportunity to get outside the shuttle and the prospect was equally exciting and scary. But something different was good, right?

He was way to eager to join Charles and against his inner voice telling him no, he relented and agreed. "Fine but your on my six and do as I say." he said as he grabbed a second suit and tossed it forward. After the two suited up in the ill-fitted suits Charles checked over his partner to make sure if was on right. "You have everything programmed to bring us back?"

"Yup," the ensign said. "No worries on that end. I also set up an automated message if we don't get back inside within an hour. I figure they should send the rescue team if we disappear suddenly," Holbach said and then stopped to consider what that would mean. "Not that that will happen, I think." They fell silent and stepped up onto the two person transporter pad and waited until the chief was right beside him.


The sudden vastness of space shocked Holbach. They, of course, knew that it was black in space but most the their exposure to space was around DS9, which meant a planet and the wormhole nearby. They'd come to love the sudden explosion of light and color that the wormhole brought when it opened. But this... this was something else. In the far distance there was a speck of a star system and a few other stars were barely visible to the left but in the immediate vicinity it was as dark as they could imagine anything.

Charles noticed Holbach taking it all in and it made him smile. "You doing ok?" He inquired before continuing his thought. "I would rather not be out here any longer then we have to." He said as he re-positioned his phaser rifle over his shoulder and took out a tricorder.

Holbach glanced away from the stars and saw the chief waiting. "Yes," they said and pulled out their tricorder. Sweeping it in a 360 degree arc, they pointed behind the chief. "Reading a large metallic object right over there. Reading some trace elements that I've never seen before. Could be something new!" Without waiting for the chief, Holbach started towards the source of the reading and in a minute was close enough for a visual inspection. They paused. It was about the size of desk but shaped like an arrowhead. It was flat against the hull with four or five small strands of metal attaching to the hull.

As Charles approached he was taking it all in. Trying to figure out what it was. He knelt down by the object. It was definitely not natural but also didn't seem like it was doing any real damage. He looked the item over looking for a control panel or something.

As Charles ran his gaze over the object, he saw an unusual, round section about the size of his hand sticking up from the top. It was not rocky but rather smooth and shiny, as if made from a different kind of material. Holbach saw the chief looking intently and followed his gaze and also saw the object. They held the tricorder out and let it take some advanced readings.

"Chief, I think we've found some kind of probe. I'm reading definite repeating energy burst. Could be some kind of communications. But this rock is reaaaalllly old according to my tricorder," Holbach said.

"Left over from the war? Or Older you think?" He asked as he crouched down closer to the round section.

Holbach shrugged inside their suit, something that he realized the chief wouldn't see. "Uh, no. I think this is older. A lot older. Chief I think we are dealing with an unknown species or something. Kinda like when Earth sent out probes randomly. These pulses could be a first contact thing!"

Charles looked up at Holbach after he mentioned first contact. "I doubt anything this old is a first contact device." He scoffed as he reached down to touch the device and see what it felt like and to see what it would do.

Holbach watched as the chief started messing with... whatever the thing was. They were conflicted because the data on the padd said the thing was definitely trying to put out some information. "Maybe not a true first contact, chief, but this thing is not natural." The young officer changed the scan function and nodded at the results. "That round piece of rock to your left, pull down on it. I think it will open the interior of whatever this thing is."

Chief paused as he looked at what Holbach had suggested. He hated these gloves as it eliminated his ability to truly feel what he was doing. He took a deep breath and figured it was the best idea to get to the bottom of this. As he pulled down on the round piece there was some initial resistance but it lessened and started to move. As it did there was a hissing noise of trapped air being released and a plume of pressurized air could be seen dissipating into the vacuum of space.

"Holbach took a step back. "That gas is 77 percent chlorine, eight percent nitrogen and 15 percent oxygen. Not something we'd want to breath. I am picking up a stronger signal now that the inside is exposed. Definitely some kind of repeating message."

Charles was happy they hadn't exploded after he pulled it open. He paused to think of the next move. "The Defiant should be here soonish." He started before a pause. "Maybe we just go back and hunker down I don't see any immediate threats."

Holbach looked at the probe attached to their hull and then at the Chief. They were just an Ensign who'd beein in the Academy less than a year ago. If a Chief Petty Officer thought it was a good idea to leave things alone, so be it. "Sounds good to me, chief! The Defiant shows their arrival in about five minutes," Holbach said, tapping at their screen. Without waiting for a response they triggered the transporter cycle and a moment later the two of them were back inside the shuttle. "You think I'll get a chance to look around the Defiant now? Or maybe the Firebird?

Charles worked to take off his EV suit. "Well I would assume they will transport you with me to Empok to meet up with the Ole 'Bird." He made his way out of the magnetic boots. "I would think we could look around the Defiant probably not much to see but once we get the Firebird I will give a ya tour for sure." He said with a grin as he heard a hail come over the coms from the Defiant. "Well there is our ride"

Chief Petty Officer Charles Stephens Jr.
Chief of the Boat
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Ensign Camden Holbach
Shuttlecraft Pilot
(NPC by Llwyedd)


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