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The Right Man for the Job Part 1[CD]

Posted on Tue Apr 14th, 2020 @ 9:18am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant Cynfor Rees & Warrant Officer Arlan Harlan & Chief Petty Officer Stanley Truman

Mission: Interlude 4
Location: Empok Nor/ Cardassian Space
Timeline: 15 March, 2395 - 0900 Hours


Malcom sat back in his chair and thought about putting his feet up on his desk. The Firebird had worked long hours on Bajor, assisting with a sudden outbreak of Heurin Pox. He'd been impressed with the entire medical department, especially the CMO. He'd written a commendation for the personnel files of all those who had risked exposure, which had been most of the crew.

Kipp appeared in the doorway to Malcom's ready room. Malcom had no idea how the yeoman was able to appear with such stealth. Either he'd managed to somehow silence the sound of the door opening or Malcom's hearing was going. He made a mental note to get them checked.

"Good morning, Kipp," Malcom said.

"Good morning, sir," Kipp said. "I'm sorry to interrupt your morning but I have someone here who would like to speak with you right away."

Malcom couldn't remember anyone arriving unexpectedly before. Kipp always knew who was coming. "Alright. Please send them in."

Kipp nodded, stepped back and waved his hand. An older man stomped into the room and came to attention in front of Malcom's desk. "Chief Petty Officer Stanley Truman, sir!"

"Stand at ease, Chief," Malcom said, looking him over. Truman was clearly a very senior chief petty officer. His years of service were written on his face. "How can I be of service?"

"Sir, I told the yeoman that I didn't want to bother you," Stanley said. "But he insisted.

"Have a seat, chief," Malcom said, gesturing to a chair. "And my yeoman knows my mind better than I do sometimes. If he thinks you should be seeing me, then I do too."

Chief Truman settled on the edge of the chair's seat. "Aye, sir. Well, I was hoping that the Firebird would be able to loan me some assistance."

Malcom sat and listened to what Chief Truman had to say and then had Kipp send for Lieutenant Rees and Chief Harlan.

Harlan came after several minutes. He entered the room and snapped off a salute to Captain before speaking. "What's happening, sir? I was just teaching my people how to assess and address a Heisenberg engine with a sarium krellide transceiver if it fails to go into its tetryon quantum phase. Basic stuff, but some of these newer faces don't know their tools from sticks or rocks."

One of the things Malcom liked best about his Chief Engineer was his directness. Harlan was never one to beat around the bush. Malcom stood up and waved for Harlan and Truman to follow him to his seating area. "Lets adjourn over there. I'm expecting Lieutenant Rees to join us shortly and we might as well be comfortable. Harlan I hear you have already met Chief Truman?" Malcom said and sat down on his couch. Truman followed suit.

"I believe I do," came Harlan's reply. "Good to see you aren't getting trapped in any radioactive containers or getting sucked into the mirror universe. What brings you on board this tub?" Harlan slapped the wall for effect while enjoying the presence of another ironside.

It was good to be home, good to be back to the usual goings on. Cynfor Rees did not have to look over his shoulder so much now and it felt good. He spent some time talking with his family and even found time to walk the promenade. If he did not know better he would have thought he got some looks from some women during his stroll. The summons from the Captain came as a bit of a surprise. Well duty calls... he thought as he rose from a bench at a viewing port and made his way to the Firebird.

When he arrived he found the Captain sitting on a couch with Harlan and someone that Cyn did not recognize. He smiled broadly. "Captain you know how I love our chats about home and tea. However, I do not believe we were scheduled. How can I be of service?" His smile beamed and the laugh lines on his face broadened.

"Have a seat, lieutenant," Malcom said with a grin. "This is Chief Petty Officer Stanley Truman. He's the senior Starfleet engineer on Empok Nor and he comes to us with a serious problem. I'll let him fill you and Harlan in." Malcom got up from his seat and made his way to the replicator. "Drink? Anyone?"

"I think I'll have a drink," Harlan answered. "Nothing too strong though or I won't be able to get my other engineers to do anything later on. I've been reading about some 20th century stuff that sounds pretty tasty. Can your replicator get me an original Pepsi? I thought I read Earth recently discovered the formula that was lost for a couple of centuries."

"I actually would love a cup of glengettie tea." Cyn said as he took the offered seat.

"A raktajino would be welcome, captain," Stanley said. "Alright so I'm sure Harlan can tell you that I don't come looking for help often but when I do, it is because there's a problem that I haven't seen in my thirty years of service. This one is exactly like that. So Empok Nor is kinda unique. We aren't near a planet like DS9 and we certainly don't have a wormhole bothering us all the time. But we are on a major trade path to Cardassia Prime. Most of our excitement comes from just keeping this heap running. You know, normal stuff," Stanley said, taking his Raktajino from Malcom and bobbing his head in thanks. He took a sip and smiled.

"Well the other interesting thing about this part of space is that we are pretty close to the location of the Battle of Uries. I doubt any of you have heard of it because I certainly hadn't. No reason you would have, really. It was a battle between two factions of Cardassians. One was supporting the hardliners that got them into the war and the other finally got fed up at the end of the war and wanted it to stop. Lots of dead Cardassians and destroyed ships. In fact, out of the eighteen Cardassian ships, only one survived. End of story, right?" Stanley asked and then shook his head. "Wrong. It just so happens that the Gul in command of one of those lost ships was the nephew of Elim Garak, who I assume you both do recognize, who managed to survive. Well, many years have passed since that battle and the once young Gul Garak is now a senior politician. And he wants to recover his lost flagship and restore it. And he's asked for Empok Nor's help. Generally, this isn't my business. But some Admiral somewhere declared it shall be done and I'm supposed to go out and locate the ship and do an initial survey."

Harlan listened to all this with an intense expression. Typically Stanley didn't say more than two or three sentences at a time about anything and here he was going on and on like it was an old ironside story. He finally replied when Stanley was done.

"Dead Cardassians and a lost flagship, eh? How does the brass expect you to find something that has been dormant for years? Any idea what sort of engines it had or if there's a record of it's energy signature? Seems like finding a needle in the big black haystack that is space."

Cyn listened intently and arrived at a very similar conclusion to Harlan. It deed indeed sound like the fleet and Cardassia wanted them to go on a treasure hunt. "I doubt there would be anything left of the energy signature to find. Cardassian systems are a lot different then ours. They employ a technique that degrades their power signature faster than others. This is to cover their tracks, it is what makes it so uniquely hard to track Cardassian ships. I think the easiest and best way to start would be to try to make the ship come to us. If we can ping the transponder we can trigger the recall sequence. Another Cardassian fail-safe. When triggered the ship returns to closest Cardassian owned installation. That is of course if the ship is capable. However, even if the ship is incapable of navigation or propulsion we would get a ping back on it's location." Rees replied excitedly. The prospect of a treasure hunt intrigued him.

Stanley frowned. "Yeah, I know. This sounds like a dumb officer situation," He said and then glanced at Captain Llwyedd. "Er... no offence, sir."

Malcom held up a hand. "None taken, chief."

Stanley nodded and then continued. "I'd like to take one of the station Runabouts out to the site of the battle and see if we can get lucky. Your ideas for locating the ship sound solid to me. Captain Llwyedd says that he's fine with the two of you accompanying me as long as you don't have something else that's mission critical. So. Can you go?" Stanley asked.

Harlan responded first. "I sure can, assuming Captain will let me. Finding stuff out there is half the fun of being out there. What would you need? Ooo, you think we'll have to rig up something special for this project?"

Cyn wished he had the same gusto and joy for this mission. If he were honest he would tell Stanley that he could not go, that there was some sort of other pressing matter. However, since the Captain had already given his blessing. "Sounds great. When do we leave?" He managed to smile as he spoke.

Stanley stood up. "How about in an hour? If that's ok with you, captain?"

Malcom nodded. "Of course, chief. Please keep me informed of your progress and try not to lose my crew. There's no way I could ever replace them."

Stanley grinned. "Aye, sir."

Stanley was not what anyone would call a good pilot. Some people would actually call him a bad pilot. Very bad even. But in his defense, he'd had little need to ever pilot anything. Officers always wanted to take control and Stanley had been more than happy to turn that duty over to them. But he was the one who'd arranged for the whole trip and he felt a sense of obligation to provide the shuttle, a Runabout, and get them moving in the right direction. Which he had. After getting turned around once.

"There," Stanley said as he entered the coordinates for the location of the battle and let the autopilot take over. "Looks like we've got a couple of hours until we get to the battlefield. I did a little research and it looks like this was a big fight. We could have a lot of ships and debris around."

Cyn set the computer to begin to scan for any residual Cardassian power traces. He ran his hand through his hair. "If this ship has been out here for all of this time. Why now? Why take an interest in it's recovery now? They could have recovered this ship at any time. Something about this just rubs me the wrong way." The grizzled Starfleet Officer was a bit cautious about how to proceed.

Harlan piped up with a response. "Because these governments and stuffed shirts forget stuff exists for ages and then when the remember, it's suddenly a security emergency that they find whatever it is as soon as possible. Some admiral probably thinks this forgotten ship is somehow the key to restoring their reputation or some such nonsense. You have any other insights, Truman?"

Stanley leaned back in the pilot's seat, turning so that he could see both Cynfor and Arlan. "I admit this is a head scratcher. It's the kind of thing I'd expect a politician to do though, not a military man. I did a check of Cardassian vessels in the area, out of curiosity, and about a month ago a frigate transited the sector pretty close to that. I noticed that they paused for about forty-two minutes right near the battlefield. That's not a coincidence. They either saw something or someone or picked up a signal," Stanley said and shrugged. "At least nothing shot at them, which is good news for us."

Cyn chuckled at the shooting comment. "Quite so, m'boy quite so. However, if this Cardassian vessel did pick up on something or some such. Why did they not haul it in? Forty-two minutes is not enough time for a full salvage expedition or even a complete survey. I just really hope we are not cruising into a trap." Rees knew better than most exactly how wily a Cardassian could be.

Stanley nodded at Cynfor. "Yes, sir. That about sums it up," Stanley said. "Long enough to find something but probably not enough time to finish whatever they were doing. Something is there and we are the ones who have to deal with it. I don't like it either."

The Battle of Uries had been no small matter. As the Runabout approached the battle site, their sensors read an incredibly huge debris field. Most of it was small parts of various Cardassian ships. But here and there were some ships that were partially intact. One or two looked like they could easily have been salvaged but for some reason weren't. All of the battlefield was lit by the light of a distant blue-white star. Stanley stopped the shuttle at the edge of the field and glanced at his two companions.

"Now what?"

"My guess would be to scan for Cardassian power signatures, and anything that would be unique about this ship that we are looking for. Do we know the location of frigate when they had their forty-two minute pit stop?" Cyn replied.

"Hrmmm," grumbled Harlan as he glared into the unending blackness. "Stay here for a moment. I'm going to go configure the sensors to Cardassian power signatures like you said. Their engines give off a unique tritium energy that can be hard to detect but I picked up a unique combination of search criteria from time on the Norfolk a few years ago that might work. Unless you've got an idea, Truman?"

"I do know where their ship was. I'll move us to that position," Stanley said and the shuttle turned and accelerated. "I think looking for the trituim energy signature is a good idea. I'm not familiar with that personally but it could be just the trick."

"Thing has to have a tailpipe." Cyn said with a smile as turned to the sensor console. He began to correlate the readings and for the first few minutes there was nothing except the standard space dust. Then a small blip appeared on the screen. "Gentlemen I think I have something here.... Give me a moment." Ree finetuned the readout from the sensors. "Yes there it is I am reading a low level tritium signature. I am sending the coordinates to the helm now. It could be what we are looking for."

Stanley used the tritium signature to guide them to their destination. They slipped between two shattered Ravinok Class ships, bits of metal pinging on their hull, and navigated what looked like an asteroid belt, but instead of asteroids it was made of clumps of metal, some as large as the Runabout. Eventually they halted on the outskirts of what appeared to be a huge spiraling collection of ships. Some of them were mostly intact. Others were smashed together, creating abominations of starship scrap.

Stanley placed the shuttle int autopilot and turned to face Arlan and Cynfor. "From here we either have to risk transporting over or taking a spacewalk. I think we are in range of the transporter but the sensors show there's no atmosphere on that ship," Stanley said.

Harlan considered the next move before responding. "Transporting in a suit seems like the safest thing to do at this point. There is too much stuff flying around to feel good about a spacewalk. I'll go suit up. Either of you two want to go with or do you both feel good about observing from here from the better seat?"

Stanley snorted and stood up. "You don't think I came all this way to stay in a tin can while you run around? I'm going," He said and then eyed Lieutenant Rees. "That is, if you say it is ok, sir."

Cyn smiled broadly. "I see a reason that any of us should miss the fun. We can all go and rig a recall through the shuttle's computer. In the event of an emergency it will transport us all back here." He stood up and made his way toward the back of the shuttle to suit up.

The three Starfleet personnel materialized in the largest space they'd been able to pinpoint on the Cardassian vessel. Stanley frowned as finished materializing. He'd expected total blackness inside the shattered Galor class ship and while it was very dark, there were a handful of emergency lights still working. He'd met too many Cardassian engineers to think that their handiwork could last this long in space. Someone had been here and restored the lights. He looked around, noting the large open hatch that led deeper into the ship. They cargo bay itself was fairly intact but a handful of small cargo containers floated in the zero g conditions. He was glad that Harlan had insisted on the mag boots.

"Why do I have a feeling that things are going to get weird?" Stanley asked over the open channel in their suits.

Harlan chuckled as he responded. "This is a floating hunk of deserted metal in the middle of space where people use to shoot at each other. Things are always weird in those moments. I think I read somewhere that the 20th and 21st centuries had entire movies built around finding something in an abandoned spacecraft. You'll be fine as long as you don't jump at every floating speck of dust." He slapped Stanley on the shoulder for emphasis.

Stanley just grunted in response. He held up a tricorder and scanned the surrounding space. "I'm picking up some strange readings a couple of decks down. I think we can make it without going outside. No atmosphere or gravity, of course. Lieutenant are we good to proceed?"

"Everything looks good. In fact if we find computer access we may be able to restore some sort of life support. However, we should proceed with caution. Something just doesn't feel right here. It is more than what happened then, there is something happening now." Cynfor's eyes darted around, this ship was eerily silent too silent if you asked the old Operations Officer.

Stanely didn't reply to the skittish officer's comments about things not feeling right. Anything that involved Stanley creeping around a shipwreck in the vastness of space instead of working in the depths of Empok Nor's engineering systems, wasn't right in his book. His footsteps felt heavy as he made his way forward into the intact corridor. Small red emergency lights were evenly spaced before him, bathing the hallway.

"You know, this reminds me of the time I was stationed on the USS Redemption. We were exploring in the Beta Quadrant and came across a strange asteroid with some anomalous readings. Ended up beaming down onto the rock and scooting around in some tunnels that looked just like these," Stanley said.

"Heh, that sounds like a great time," came Harlan's reply. "What was strange about it? Was it giving off a strange energy emission or composed of some unusual metals or something even weirder than that? Finding stuff out here in the galaxy is mostly why I still do this sort of job."

"Exploring is the reason all of us came out here, or so I think." Cyn paused while speaking to take a brief look around. He did not understand how the emergency lights still had power after all this time. He thought that perhaps concentrating on something else would help ease his mind. "I would like to know as well. What made the asteroid different, or strange."

Stanley decided to tell the tale as they made their way deeper into the interior of the broken Cardassian ship. "Well, the eggheads said that there were some readings that were off the spectrum. Later on I learned that what they meant was the energy signals were unlike anything they'd ever seen. So of course they send us over to explore. As if I didn't have anything better to do. Anyway, when we got into the tunnels, it was a surprisingly viable atmosphere. Some people took off their helmets but not me," Stanley said. They paused at a T intersection and the grizzled Chief pointed to the left. The corridor was partly collapsed with a large beam blocking the way. Stanley moved forward slowly, clearing debris and making sure there was nothing dangerous. He slipped by the beam, being careful not to damage his suit. Emerging on the other side he waved Harlan and Cynfor to follow.

"So the tunnels got bigger the farther we went. The walls were smooth and red. About fifteen minutes in we started seeing these red rocks attached to the wall. They looked like gems. I thought my missus would have liked to have one but I didn't touch them," Stanley said.

He paused near a turbolift, the Cardassian kind that were open aired. "I think we need to go down."

Cynfor looked around and at the turbo lift, it was currently inoperable. However, to his eyes it looked like all it needed was some power and it would be fine. "I think I can get this running in a few moments. It would save us the heck of a time climbing. What do you think Chief?"

Harlan took a moment to check some diagrams on his suit's wrist display as he thought through things. "Yeah that should be fine," he replied. "Looks like this lift will take us somewhere useful. Remind me, are we heading towards the bridge or storage? I suppose Stanley is our guide through this scenic place. What're you thinking?

Stanley shook his head. "These energy signatures fluctuate. But it looks like we are headed down a couple of decks. Lets see what happens," he said and motioned for the others to pile on. Once they had, he followed. The old turbolift creaked but seemed stable enough. "Go for it, sir." He watched as Lieutenant Rees performed some kind of magic at the turbolift controls. A few moments later, the console lit up and the lift jerked and began moving.

"Nice job!" Stanley said as the broken corridor slipped out of view.

The lift shuddered, stopped and lost power as they reached the fourth deck from where they started. Stanley was pleased to see that it was clear from debris and looked intact. His sensors said there was a thin atmosphere, which astonished him. He held up his tricorder so that the lieutenant and Harlan could see. "This is unbelievable." He then pointed to a large, red colored bloom of energy about a hundred meters away. It looked like it was in an interior space and there were two life forms, Cardassian, inside.

"What the hell is this?" Stanley muttered.

Cynfor squinted at the energy and the lifeforms. "They can's be alive, not after all of this time. Can they?" He muttered to his companions. Rees then did the only thing he could think of. He fumbled for his tricorder and started to scan the area. Within seconds he blanched white and spoke in a hushed tone. "According to this they can be alive after all this time. There are definitely two Cardassians in there. I am also getting all kinds of readings from that energy. It is reading off the em spectrum."

"I wonder if it isn't something unique about the tritium signature," Harlan answered. "This is definitely something to bring to the science folks in Starfleet. Either of you have any idea what to do?"

After a few silent moments, Harlan made a snap decision. "Well, I didn't get this old waiting for things to happen. Time's up, let's do this."

With that Harlan triggered the door open and strode in. "Arlan Harlan with Starfleet. Did you know your ship is broken?"

Cynfor tried to grab the engineer's collar before he stepped through. "Harlan there is no way of knowing what the..." His voice trailed off as Harlan did not listen and strode through the door. He stroked his chin for a moment as he looked a the tricorder. Rees could now see that there were two Cardassians and one Human in that room. So for at least the moment everything was okay. "Well Chief you wanted to see what happened here, and it seems that the best way to do that is to press on." Cyn smiled and stepped through the door as he kept his nose buried in the tricorder.

Stanley followed the other two inside. Better to stick together he thought. This ship felt.. weird.

All three of them couldn't help but stop in right inside of the circular door as it slid closed behind them. The room was a large cargo space, still filled with a number of gray colored cargo boxed with Cardassian stenciling on the side. But their eyes passed over those insignificant details to center on the blue, glowing hourglass-shaped object that hung in the center of the room. Matching blue light spread in dappled waves across the walls and floor, while two blue energy tendrils stretched from the floating object. Each ended where the tendril touched the forehead of a Cardassian. One of them was dressed in a uniform from the time during the Dominion War, while the other was wearing the updated version that President Garak had designed. Both Cardassians stood with their eyes wide open, not moving but their chests still moving, indicating life remained.

Harlan almost couldn't believe what he was seeing. This was as weird as any of the things he'd encountered in over 20 years of action. He really should write a book someday about all the crazy stuff he had seen. It took Harlan a moment to regain his composure before speaking.

"Uh, Stanley, you ever see anything like this? This definitely makes the top five weird moments in my day. What are we even looking at?"

Rees took it all in and could not help but smile at Harlan's comment. What struck Rees the most was that everything they had seen save for this room had shown it's age. Shown that it had been exposed to space for some time. However, this room and these people look as if no time had passed. He looked at Stanley and Harlan in turn. "Well, gents somehow I think we have stepped through the looking glass and arrived at the mad tea party."

As Cynfor finished speaking, three tendrils of blue light snaked out from the orb, hitting each of them in the forehead, and transporting them somewhere else entirely.


Lieutenant Cynfor Rees
Chief Operations Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Warrant Officer Arlan Harlan
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Chief Petty Officer Stanley Truman
Assistant Chief of Engineering
Empok Nor
(NPC by Llwyedd)


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Comments (2)

By Warrant Officer Arlan Harlan on Wed Apr 15th, 2020 @ 5:31pm

I know I was in this one, but it was super fun! It was great to try and create an atmosphere of tension on an abandoned ship.

By Captain Malcom Llwyedd on Wed Jul 22nd, 2020 @ 8:02am

This was an ambitious project. We set out to add to the Star Trek universe and I think between this and the second JP we did a great job. Kudos to Harlan and Cynfor!