Session 1 Counselor's Office Mission Day 1, 0700
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Ryan was ready for his shift after a trip to the gym, a quick shower and change, and a light breakfast. Now he just had to meet with Cameron. It was a nerve racking prospect. He'd been with his therapist for nearly a decade. Starting over with somebody new was frankly scary, and Cameron was male to boot. Ryan wasn't quite sure how this was going to work, but he'd agreed to try. So he arrived right on time to the Counselor's office and sounded the chime.

Cameron looked up from his fruit salad- pineapple, oranges, and strawberries as the chime sounded. Smoothing over his uniform and hastily clearing some of the debris, he cleared his throat. "Come in." he said. He had been going over Petty Officer Quinn's report and readiness evaluation. He had never received a rating below 'Outstanding' in any category in the five years he had been in Starfleet and was a shoo in for the Fleet Medical Commissioning Program in the next year. Every single division officer had mentioned that Quinn was well put together and had the chops for additional responsibility, which made it all the more maddening when he had suffered his breakdown.

"Good morning." Ryan greeted the Counselor as he stepped into the man's office. He was pleased to see the man appeared to be done decorating. There
was now a..well Ryan wouldn't call it 'homey' it wasn't much to his taste, but it felt that the space was 'owned' that was probably a better word.

Cameron waved. "Morning!" he said cheerfully. Placing the PADD on the desk, he set it off to the side along with his fruit bowl and grabbed another PADD in his ever growing pile. "Grab a drink and have a seat. There are also some stress balls and the like in the box next to the couch if you'd like one as well."" he said, motioning to a small, weather beaten, wooden box containing everything from teddy bears to the aforementioned stress balls. Often, Cameron felt that while traditional methods of therapy had their uses, he had always preferred to have his clients face their fears and traumas head on followed by periods of deep reflection. However in Ryan's case, he couldn't be sure. Last night, he had pored over Doctor Diane West's notes on his case and the treatment methodologies that she had used. It had mostly consisted of affirmation journals and relaxation breathing exercises and it had worked- at least for a while, then Doctor West's notes alluded to a lack of progress, almost as if she had hit a wall over the course of their treatments. Making a mental note, he looked over to Ryan and observed his behavior.

"So how are you feeling?" Cameron asked, taking a digital pad that he could jot notes down on. He had now switched into 'Doctor-Patient Mode' and he wouldn't snap out until the end of their session.

Ryan did grab a glass of water and took a seat, but he didn't even glance at the wooden box. He was too focused on trying to relax, and didn't want any surprises, who knew what was in that box besides a simple stress relief ball. Ryan took a sip of his water before answering Cameron's question. "Actually a bit nervous if I'm being honest."

Cameron smiled slightly. "It's okay, Ryan. I understand that being in a new place and especially having a new counselor can be jarring, so I'll just sit here. We can do anything you want, we can talk, we can sit in silence, or we can even play catch if you felt so inclined. When you want to talk, I'll be here, so I'll wait as long as it takes, okay?" he said warmly. Cameron knew that trying to force someone to talk about a trauma could cause more issues than it solved. So he would wait and wait and wait, even if it killed him. Turning to his console, he opened his music file and found a playlist of an Erunian String and heard soft strains of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, hoping that it might lighten the increasingly still atmosphere.

Ryan relaxed. With the pressure off he was able to appreciate the music. "This is nice. What is it?"

Cameron looked towards Ryan. "Erunian Strings Orchestra. Apparently they negotiated their entry into the Federation by presenting their advances in art and medicine. It's even rumored that some of their music has slight healing abilities." Cameron pointed out.

That interested Ryan. "I've read about the Baku and their homeopathic treatments, but I'm not familiar with the Erunian's. I'll have to look them up."

Cameron nodded. "I'd recommend it. I occasionally use it to stimulate neural activity in some of my patients during the initial recovery phase of their therapy in conjunction with other treatment methods like physical therapy." Swiveling in his chair, he reaches for a wide box and hefted it. Placing it on his desk, he motioned to Ryan. "Open the box, Doc." Cameron said, leaning back in his chair.

Ryan looked a tad wary, but leaned forward and did as asked and opened the box. There was a device similar to a small harp but with a three strings, with several small, slightly luminescent crystal disks suspended along them. Ryan raised a brow, then touched one curiously. A low note sung from it as the disc glowed. "Erunian?" Ryan asked.

Cameron nodded. "Right you are, Ryan. That is an Erunian lyre- it's kind of like a glass harmonica as you probably noticed, just run your fingers along the discs and different speeds and levels of pressure. If you want to tune it or change your key, just twist the dial at the top. Something else that's really cool-" Cameron pulled out an identical lyre and gently but rapidly ran his fingers along several of the discs, playing a series of rapidly ascending notes. As he did so, gentle, multicolored lights danced on the ceiling. Pointing up, Cameron smiled slightly. "Those can be quite therapeutic as they'll match everything from the pressure of your fingertips to the speed of your touch."

It was interesting, certainly, but Ryan already had his own musical respite. "I play the piano." He blurted. At least it wasn't out of the blue, they were discussing music at least. "Well more like the keyboard, I haven't been at a real piano in ages."

Cameron raised an eyebrow, sensing an idea. "Then we're going to have to change that, Doc. Do you have anything in particular that you like to play?" he asked, making yet another mental note. If a piano got this patient to open up, then he would take it.

"Oh, lots of stuff. though, oddly enough I'm not really a fan of classical. Most of the time I just end up playing my own stuff. Helps to unwind after a long shift." Ryan circled back around to Cameron's first statement. "Not really room for a piano on a starship, not a real one anyway. The holodeck's not quite the same."

"Hmm. We can use that." Cameron pointed out. "Have you ever heard of a musical narrative?" he said, bringing out a small book printed on old fashioned paper as opposed to a PADD and handing it over.

Ryan raised a brow. "A musical narrative. Is that pretty much what it sounds like?" He took the offered book, admiring the cover.

Cameron nodded. "Exactly. You simply play a piece of music that you create that corresponds to a piece of your history and if you desire, recall some of it in that journal. It can be anything you want- no restrictions. Anything you write in there will be secured- that thing is equipped with a deadlock seal. If anyone attempts to open that, they'll fail and it'll give them a nasty surprise." Cameron said slyly.

Ryan had done journal work, a lot of journal work. He'd done art therapy, but never music therapy. But his art therapy had always been vague, draw what you feel. He'd never tried to put anything to a specific incident. He looked over at Cameron. "I can give it a try. No restrictions?" He asked, just a bit hesitantly.

Cameron leaned forward slightly. "None. We'll be the only ones who read it and if you don't want me to, then we won't. Sound good?" he asked.

"Yeah. Ok." Ryan agreed. None of it sounded 'good' per se , but it was something he thought he could work with. "Until next week?"

Cameron nodded thoughtfully as he popped a piece of pineapple into his mouth. "I'm looking forward to it." he said simply, turning to back to his PADD to transcribe his notes.


Keeping Things Brief Main Conference Room, Deck 1 Mission Day 1, 1300
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Damian stood in front of one of the massive viewports with his hands tightly clasped behind his back, watching as the Hammersley passed through the elongated stars. As he stood there, he pondered the mission orders that he had been handed less than 12 hours ago. They were to head to Starbase 900 and determine why their communications had suddenly stopped-. In Damian's mind, there could only be two options why this could happen- either the station had suffered a massive communications failure or they had been attacked by something that they couldn't defend against. He begrudgingly began to recall when he had been aboard the Valhalla and they had received a distress call from a Forward Operating Base that had come under attack by the Vaudwaar. By the time they had arrived, there was hardly anything left of the base except smouldering ruins and the mangled bodies of the small detachment that had been stationed there. His hand dropping to his side, Damian balled it into a fist. If someone had the audacity to attack the Federation in the Delta Quadrant, then Damian would make them pay dearly. Checking his watch, he could see that it read 1250. Taking a seat at the head of the conference table, Damian waited for the rest of the staff to show.

A moment later the door opened and in walked Lt Commander Plataea Yamaguchi, she took in the lack of anyone else other then the skipper present at a glance, before moving to the replicator for a doughnut and a drink before she sat down at the table, she then slid a report across the table to Highsmith. "The report you asked for skipper. I needed additional time so I could inspect the weapons I had..."

Damian deftly stopped the PADD and spun it so that it faced him. Reading down the report, he nodded approvingly. "This isn't bad for less than 48 hours on board. Continue your weapons inspection and I want two tactical drills scheduled at random. I don't care if you wake the crew in the middle of the night- run the drills until we can have a full response prepared in less than three minutes. Understood?" he asked, knowing what her answer would be.

Yamaguchi peered across at him, she held her silence for a moment. "Yessir."

"Also, you might want to look into some training sessions with Commander Glyndar, she's still designated as a Tactical Officer and she'll be able to help you familiarize yourself with some tips and tricks." Damian mentioned.

Yamaguchi nodded her head slowly. "I'll talk to her. See what she says."

I say your decorations better be worth the aggravation she thought as she crept into the room with Lee catching the tail end of that conversation. However, she simply took her seat, saying nothing.

Lee came in after checking over the readings from his panel and brought a PADD into the briefing, "Sir, sensor diagnostics are proving somewhat troublesome so will need to look at that....small power fluctuations but I will allocate resources to the holodeck if you need them. Shuttlecraft two isn't usable at this time so repair crews are on it so shuttlecraft one is available. Have we come up with a name for them yet?" Lee asked.

Yamaguchi couldn't resist. "Hubris, Catastrophe, Phobos, Deimos, Enyo and Eris.". She rattled off a few names. "I believe they are human names of various deities... right?"

Damian chuckled slightly and spoke up. "You're close but not quite, Commander. Our shuttle's namesakes are Norse in origin- the Commanding Officer before me elected to give this ship a Norse feel. In fact, the unofficial mascot of the ship is Thor. " he said, pointing a quick historical point.

"I can live with that" said Janet. "He was very much like a deity on my home world" she said, though not fully delving into the topic.

Lee smiled, "Now there's no need to call my shuttlecraft Catastrophe. We could name it Yamaguchi but all aboard the Guchi just doesn't sound appealing." Lee returned the joke.

(Tag Everyone else)

Briggs was following the map on his PADD as he walked into the conference room, stopping only as he looked up and noticed the room was full of the senior staff, including Lieutenant Rose. He froze as he lowered the arm holding the PADD. "I'm sorry, I appear ta have gotten turned 'round," he said, turning crimson with the eyes of the command staff of the ship on him.

Yamaguchi gave him her best 'come hither' look. "Really...?" she inquired. "and how so?" she added with a gentle smile.

"Well, ma'am," Briggs said, after swallowing. He held up the PADD in front of him, like divine evidence or a shield against his own intrusion. "I was tryin' ta get somewhere else and certainly not interruptin' a meetin' of the senior crew. Ma'am."

Damian raised his hand sternly. "Have a seat, HM3. Since you're here, you might as well observe how the senior staff does things." he said, motioning to one of the few empty chairs.

"Aye, sir?" Briggs said, not sure himself if he meant it as an affirmative response that he heard the order and would follow them, or if it was a question. But, keeping an eye on the group, he moved to the indicated chair, dropped his pack at his feet and sat, rather stiffly, in the chair. All the while he was wishing he suddenly developed the ability to merge into a wall.

Yamaguchi's smile only widened. "I will have those two drills ready to go in about two hours after I figure out what time I'm going to run them." the tall woman explained.

Damian nodded. "Very well. You may execute when ready." Looking over to the rest of the staff, he noticed that they looked slightly bored. "Well don't all jump up at once. I need updates and I need them now."

Yamaguchi nodded. "I'm going to be in the armory for the next two hours. I like the hands on approach." and with that she rose to her feet, assuming they had been dismissed, she turned and walked out of the room, her long legs eating up the distance quickly.

Briggs perked up at the discussion regarding the 'surprise drills'. He hated suprise drills. It was all well and good for the officers, but for him they usually came about the time he got into good sleep, then there was a bunch of rushing around and...well...as an NCO, he didn't get to go back to bed but had to work on 'improving response efficiency' and then head off to his normal duty assignment while the officers went back to bed or finished their duty shifts. "Crap," he muttered to himself. And being as he wasn't supposed to be in this meeting, he was sure he wasn't supposed to go telling anybody that they were being planned either.

Yamaguchi smiled. "Oh I love drills. This will be outstandingly wonderful.. I'll wake everyone at three AM and then when everyone gets back to bed. I'll wake em again at Five AM." as her grin widened. "The crew will want to murder me in my sleep before I get done." she had no intentions of waking everyone but she knew she had a leak with HM3 sitting before her and she wished to the rumor to get out, she was going to help it along any way she could. She added a maniacal sounding laugh to rub it in.

Damian looked over at the Commander that was halfway to the door. "I didn't dismiss you, Commander. Keep your seat." he said, a slightly sour taste in his mouth. "Computer, dim lights and initiate briefing program Highsmith-Delta-Three." The computer, beeping it's acknowledgement pulled up a diagram of Starbase 900.

Plataea stopped as if someone had yanked on a chain, she sighed before she returned to her eat in silence.

"This is Starbase 900- Stardock Class. This base houses 200,000 people and acts as the center of all Starfleet operations in the Delta Quadrant. As of 2300 five days ago, contact was lost and their link to the Solaria Gateway went off line. Our orders are to go through an alternate gateway into the Delta Quadrant, make our way to Starbase 900, and determine what happened. As a note, recent intelligence reports have indicated an increase in Borg activity throughout that sector along the Jathlin Arm-" Damian stopped as he zoomed the view in on the particular area. "This area is home to the Devore Confederacy, the Vaadwaur, and a sizable contingent of Borg ships that seem to pop in and out at random. Further, they've noticed that the Borg have been venturing closer to Starfleet assets in the area but not taking any offensive action. It's almost like they were testing us..." At the last sentence, Damian trailed off.

As the lights went down, Briggs reached into the bag at his feet and brought out one of his jerky pouches. Ripping it open, he chewed on a large piece while watching and listening to what the Colonel was saying. "How ya lose contact with a whole starbase?" he asked, meaning only to speak to himself and not realizing he was muttering out loud.

But, he'd heard of the Borg, mostly in passing. He didn't have any first hand experience with them. They were pretty much the bogeyman man monsters in some holodeck programs he'd run with a few others in the past. Right scary robot zombies that were programmed to be too tough to be real - with no feeling, self-repairing systems and the biotic energy shields that adapted to phaser fire so they couldn't even be killed after two or three a gun.

Was the Colonel really saying they weren't just holodeck bad guys but were real bad guys? He shook his head, they didn't have much in the way of medical options that he knew about and, from what he saw in the holodeck programs, they turned those they killed into robot zombies as well.

Turning to the Petty Officer, he looked over. "That's the problem, HM3- we don't know how Starfleet lost them. For all we know, they might have been attacked or suffered a massive systems failure. Honestly, I'm hoping it's the latter."

"Well, sir," Briggs said, but slowly since he was caught by the Colonel. "Ain't they got them redundancy systems? Y'know, them backups to backups?" But, even the implication of that question hit him. They should have redundant systems and if they weren't working then...

Briggs couldn't even imagine 200,000 casualties of an attack, or even worse, slow and horrible suffering due to systems failures. If the comms were out, what about life support? And, if that's the case, why were they still just sitting here instead of heading out to do something to help?

Janet sat there shaking her head and silently letting her frustration build up behind her piercing Xenexian eyes. She slammed her clenched fists onto the table. "Losing damn contact with any starship or starbase and disconcerting. We can talk and talk all damn day, but none of it will matter. We need action. Whatever plan we come up with, we need to act sooner rather than later."

Lee thought on the loss of contact with a whole starbase, "Even I find it hard to believe that we could possibly loose contact with a starbase of that size. I would think that their comms is quite fine and the base is operational but they have something else that's blocking communications. A base that size would have enough resources to erect an alternate comms system within twenty hours. As well as that, the starbase must have had recent visitors before we even get there." Lee thought on as to 'what visitors?', what could be a threat to the starbase to de-power it's systems?'

"It doesn't matter." Yamaguchi commented quietly but with a tone of finality. "The Borg are not this subtle, they don't need to be... When they come, they do so with overwhelming force...Trust me.. I know." she explained. "Maybe its just a com's issue... but losing the gate and contact with the base... That's cause for concern." Yamaguchi sat back. "Personally we have two options.. Go through the alternate gate now and rush there.... or two.. go through the alternate gate except take a more subtle approach."

Plataea tapped the PADD before her. "Our ordinance loadout is not what I feel comfortable with heading into what we can assume to be a war zone. Adding to this is the fact that we are alone with no supply lines and now way to get help should we need it." Yamaguchi sighed.

In shock, Briggs dropped his pouch of jerky as he looked at the senior officers assembled in the room. Though he highly doubted they'd admit it, he sensed their fear of what was coming and that had a profound effect on him. War-zones? he heard them say, alone?. These words sapped his appetite and confidence while he watched their masking anger rise. If the senior staff, the most knowledgeable, capable people on the ship didn't think they were going to come out of this alright, what hope was there?

Slowly, reluctantly, he picked up the pouch but his desire for meat snacks was gone. How long did they have? A day, a couple days? How long until they were overwhelmed and destroyed by this robot zombie enemy?

Yamaguchi shifted her attention as she regarded Briggs. "I do have a few tricks up my sleeves the Borg have yet to see." she responded. "Do we have any historical fans in the room?"

Lee watched the various eyes and posture as he could tell, 'no.....No.....you do.....you do....you love history.....hmmm.' he thought that looking at everyone and if you're good at, can give you an opinion as to what they might do next. Sometimes Lee has gotten it wrong so he chooses to stay quiet.

Damian turned to Yamaguchi, suddenly interested. "Not necessarily but you have my interest. Speak up, Commander." he said, turning his chair to face her.

Yamaguchi swallowed the mouthful of doughnut she had just eaten. "Well.. the Borg have been known to be unable to resist ballistic weapons." she paused. "Now I doubt a Starship version of this would help us as they would have adapted to kinetic based weapons like railguns by now." she explained. "However... an old style slug-thrower might work for a time... I have no idea of how long it would be before the Borg adapted to this tactic.." Yamaguchi sighed softly. "We need new tactics in dealing with this enemy... maybe cyber based warfare." she shrugged. "Eventually... They will assimilate our entire Galaxy. Especially if we do nothing.."

"Ain't it just like a virus then?" Briggs asked from back in the room, looking to Rose for confirmation. "I mean, when I've played'em on holodeck games, they come out just like zombies, ain't that just a virus? They get infected and become zombie robots and then go out tryin ta make more'a them zombies? Why don't ya be lookin at findin a cure for their zombie virus?"

Yamaguchi sighed softly as a look of sadness came over her features. "Because they aren't infected with a virus." she explained. "The Borg are simply too strong for us to face in their present form, we simply lack the ships or the strength to take them on on a one on one basis.. Eventually they will overwhelm us with sheer numbers.." she closed her eyes as she took a moment, clearly the Borg had cost her dearly or someone close to her. "The Borg was relentless, they will not stop and ..... we need new tactics if we are to survive them."

"Well, iffen it ain't a virus how they makin more robot zombies?" Briggs asked. "Seems that's how we stop'em."

"They simply use nanoprobes to infest the bodies of their victims. They start by taking over the blood circulation system and spreading from there." Plataea paused. "I suppose you could call it a virus.. but one thats mechanical in nature." she paused a second time. "If we want to survive them, eventually we will need to deal with them once and for all... Trouble is... I have no idea how and I've faced the Borg at almost every major encounter we've had with them...."

Briggs frowned as he crumpled the jerky bag. "Well, I still don' unnerstan. Iffen the mamoprobes are like a virus, why not just treat'em like a virus and kill'em off? Ya kill the virus, ya solve the threat. We use some'a them nannites in medical problems and they don't go off killin people and makin robot zombies cause they designed to be shut down. What I know of them zombies is they are like a pandemic, why don't we just treat the pandemic and innoculate against the virus?"

Yamaguchi sighed softly. "Were it so easy..." she regarded Briggs, a deep sadness in her eyes. "We'd need to inoculate billions of drones all at once.. separating billions from the collective and we'd need to get past their defenses and weapons.." memories of a planet being glassed by six Borg cubes haunted her. "You ever seen what the Borg are capable of when they decide you need to be exterminated?" she narrowed her eyes. "It does happen.. from time to time."

"But..." Briggs said then shook his head and looked down at the jerky bag, now a twisted mess, the contents shredded. "Iffen the virus are robots, ya don' need to physically innoculate'em all. They talk to each other, don' they? Put in a spartan of our own and BOOM!" he slammed his hand against his thigh as he spoke to create the sound, "it spreads and kills off the virus and no more robot zombie."

Yamaguchi paused as she considered it. "Mmm." as the wheels behind her eyes spun rapidly 'Is it possible?' she mused to herself. "Its also been done." she added. "What do you know of the Borg named Hugh?" she inquired of Briggs. "We might try something.. only on a larger scale."

Briggs's forehead furrowed as he concentrated, trying to remember details of the times he played the Borg holodeck games. It was one of the few times that he allowed himself the option of using weapons, since none of it was real anyway. Finally he shook his head. "Sorry, Commander, but when I play them robot zombie games, I ain't worried about introducin myself so I don't rightfully know if there's any zombie name'a 'Briggs'."

"Well when we finish here... Unless the Skipper has anything else for you... You go look up the Hugh Incident at some point in time." Yamaguchi responded with a smile.

The confused look on the young Trill's face only deepened. "Aye, Commander," he said, knowing it was an order. "Only, I don't right know of any incident I had with robot zombies outside of playin on the holodeck. Was there something wrong with that?"

Damian thought for a moment- kinetic weapons were going to be their only effective weapon against the Borg. "Commander Yamaguchi, you have my full permission to replicate kinetic weapons. Keep me updated on your results and inform Gunner Slabaugh that you'll be conducting specialized testing. The last thing I need right now is to have an angry rangemaster if he sees you shooting old fashioned weapons on his range. Looking to the rest of the assembled staff that had fallen silent, Damian could hear the metaphorical crickets chirping. "Anyone else?" he asked.

Yamaguchi nodded her head. "I'll handle it right away skipper. If it works.. then I'd like to mandate that ballistic weapons training for security and tactical at the very least. In case we face them..." she paused. "Also I'd like to use the TR-116... I'm going to design and build a few variants of the weapon... I am an Engineer at heart sir." she paused. "While I schedule the three drills I'm going to run.. one per shift."

Damian thought for a moment to consider the repercussions of granting access to one of the few projectile weapons in the Federation inventory and nodded. "Keep me posted on your progress, Commander." Looking to everyone else, he could sense the general lack of interest spreading through the room like a plague. Everyone was chomping at the bit to do more than they were doing now, given the gravity of the situation and Damian couldn't blame them as he felt the same irresistible energy flowing through him. "If that's all, you're dismissed." Damian glanced over to the Chief Medical Officer "Doctor Rose, see me in my Ready Room when you get a few moments." he said, almost like it wasn't a command but more of an afterthought.

Lieutenant Commander Janet Glyndar had watched most everything unfold and be exchanged in silence. She was still learning about this crew and being a young single mother was starting to really weigh on her. The Hammersely was a fine starship, had a good Commanding Officer, but he was a marine no less and though once upon a time this posting would have been idealistic for her, she was beginning to realize the woman she had been before being a mother was not the same woman she was today. "Aye, Colonel" she said, her silence breaking as she stood up and proceeded to leave the room and the presence of the others.

Rising from his seat, Damian walked slowly toward the door. Turning slightly, he paused to look out at the still stretched stars and hoped that this new crew could handle the mission at hand because he would need every drop of blood, sweat, and tears to keep this ship going on it's path and he couldn't abide failure, not when they were this close and the very fate of the Federation rested firmly on their shoulders.

Yamaguchi likewise rose to her feet, she shifted her attention to the windows, as she took in the starscape for a moment. "For if these men do not die well.. It will be a black matter for the king who led them to it." she said quietly. "Its better then an old Egyptian prayer." as she focused her mind ion the work ahead of her. "Ez megszakad a szívem" which the translator responded with 'this breaks my heart' before she walked out of the observation lounge.

Through The Gate Main Bridge, Deck 1 Mission Day 1, 1500
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Damian sat in his ready room reading over old mission reports from various commanding officers detailing their encounters with various species in the Delta Quadrant. The most interesting by far was their reports on an unnamed species- they were warp capable but anytime a ship came close or attempted to open communication, they vanished from sensors and jumped out of the system. They were almost completely untraceable and seemed to be determined to keep to themselves. Continuing to read, he stopped as his desk console beeped and the voice of Lieutenant Maledon spoke out.

"Sir, we've arrived at the gateway." Maledon said before he closed the channel. Damian walked out onto the bridge and assumed his command chair. "Miss Yamaguchi, bring us to Yellow Alert and put this thing on screen." he said quickly. "Helm, send us through the gate at full impulse."

Yamaguchi had been at her post all day and she was due to be relieved shortly except she had no intention of going anywhere. "Going to Yellow Alert." she responded, as the various lights around the bridge suddenly flashed yellow. The ships intercom also sounded across the ship except on the bridge as it wasn't needed.

Plataea regarded the gateway before her. "Mmm..." as she narrowed her eyes in thought. "I wonder what it would take for me to build one of those." she mused softly, almost to herself.

As the external feed appeared on the screen, Damian regarded it with a sense of awe. The Epatha Gateway was similar to the Bajoran wormhole but shimmered in a visual cacophony of hues- from a dull silver to flashes of angry coral red and flurries of blues. From what Damian knew, the gateway was highly unstable and there was no guarantee that they would come out to their intended destination. There had been reports of ships simply disappearing or randomly reappearing, nearly destroyed. "How about that, hm? Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?" he asked the assembled crew, his voice tinged with a sense of wonder.

Yamaguchi regarded the whorl of energies as they seemed to spin before her. "Or anything so lethal." she said quietly. "I got homework to do..." the tall woman smiled before she scanned the gateway itself as she was highly tempted to raise shields. "Captain." Naval parlance had the skipper of the ship be addressed as 'Captain' regardless of his or her present rank and at the present time. Plataea herself was glad for the tradition. "The gateway is highly unstable. I recommend we raise shields before going in.."

Checking the display on his armrest, Damian could see that the shields were powered and ready. "Commander, you do know that Yellow Alert raises shields right?" he asked.

Yamaguchi regarded the back of Highsmith's head. "See.. This is the penalty I pay for not paying attention." she responded quietly.

Lee chuckled hoping he did know but the stand in at tactical looked like she was itching to press the yellow alert tab, He navigated through sensors and increased power so that the science officer was able to scan the gateway, "Seems okay doesn't it?" Lee said to the ensign on duty.

"Gateway at maximum power output."

Damian leaned forward. "Alright, people. Let's push through. Mister Smith, divert all available power to sensors, shields, and engines. Helm, let's get in there now.

Janet looked at the Colonel and shook her head. "Is that what you say to all the nice ladies you handle?" she asked with a small teasing smile. "Be gentle with your starship, you only get one at a time" she added.

Yamaguchi held her silence as she watched the gateway grow larger on the screen before the view changed because the Hammersley had entered the gateway. "Five seconds to the other side." Yamaguchi commented.

"One Andoria, Two Andoria, Three Andoria..." Janet began to count as she waited for the Hammersley to exit out on the other side. Taking a deep breath she closed her eyes and then opened them. "Well, we either made it to the other side or the after life is pretty damn boring" the Second Officer professed.

Yamaguchi raised an eyebrow. "If this is the afterlife... Then I feel cheated." she responded. "I demand my money back.." as the inside of the gateway vanished and the stars reappeared as the Hammersley exited the other side of the gateway.

Damian stood from the command chair and looked around. "Helmsman, what's our current location?" Damian asked, walking over and placing a hand on the back of the command chair.

The helmsman gulped slightly as his fingers danced frantically across the keyboard. "Sir, I don't know. The wormhole destabilized as we exited, we were slated to come out near Aether but I'm not detecting any planetary bodies within the next 200 light-years."

The Colonel's hand rested on the back of the chair as he shook his head. "Scan around and get us our bearings back, Lieutenant. We don't have time to get lost, especially now. People are depending on us." Turning over to the crew, Damian motioned sarcastically. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Delta Quadrant."

Yamaguchi meanwhile was busy looking over the sensors and results she was getting from the scans were not encouraging. "Skipper.. I think the best question is... Are we still inside our own Galaxy?" she inquired. "I am only reading slight amounts of trace gasses out there." she explained. "

Lee saw his panel start changing it's personality, Lee liked to treat his panel like a living part of the ship where the lights and options in one state is where the ship was happy. What he saw in front of him was where the ship wasn't happy, "Sir I'm getting power fluctuations here. The properties in the galaxy is affecting the ship. A two per cent drop but re-routing power in the affected areas to give maximum output."

Yamaguchi tapped at the display before her. "Mmm..." as she was running a long distance scan of the stars ion the area and names were popping up. "Alright. I have good news and bad news.." she explained. "Okay the good news is... I've been able to get a fix on our location... Also we are still in our home Galaxy.. The bad news is that we are about six hundred twenty four light years from where we needed to be.."

Damian looked to the Captain Smith and then to Commander Yamaguchi. "Are we detecting any signals from any Starfleet vessels or stations in the area?" he asked. Wishing and hoping with all his might that someone might still be out there. There was always a glimmer of hope that someone could still be alive and floating in space, waiting for rescue.

"Negative." Yamaguchi responded quietly. "Tactical sensors are clean.."

"Don't look at me, all systems nominal, if we're that far away from where we need to be then I'd suggest we'd better get a move on......wait, power fluctuations decreasing....hmmm not sure why. Hmmmm." Lee saw his panel begin to cause him some discomfort; he liked the panel as it was before but now, it's doing whatever." Lee tapped through and make some adjustments, "Hmmm, whatever that was, it's gone now. Systems normal."

Damian frowned. "Boost the sensor strength. If a fly craps in a crater, I want to know about it!" he said, the edge in his tone becoming readily apparent.

Yamaguchi tapped the display before her as she was already working on it. "Hang on... I'm getting something... its very faint.. Multiple voices... several dozen sources.." as her main hardened. "Escape pods... definitely Federation in origin."

Damian nodded solemnly, a sense of dread washing over him as he knew what those voices could be. Steeling himself, he gave the command. "Yamaguchi, turn that off. Can we detect any life signs?" he asked, holding back an anguished sigh.

Yamaguchi muted the audio which was distressing to her as well. "Not from this range sir." she answered quietly.

Walking back to his seat, he gently lowered himself into his chair and looked forward. "Do whatever you need to to get a lock on those signals and if possible, respond and let them know that we're on the way. Helmsman, lay in a course for each of these pods once we receive the coordinates. Maximum warp, if you please." he said, feeling a chill run down his spine that had nothing to do with the ambient temperature.

Yamaguchi nodded her head. "Aye Captain. We're on it." she nodded to Smith.

Comfortably Numb Escape Pod 2238-21/USS Hammersley Mission Day 2, 1130
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A wave of light and warmth enveloped Chief Warrant Officer Five Charlie Higgs, almost like it was beckoning to him to come towards it's epicenter. He seemed to float towards the epicenter, a sense of uncharacteristic happiness filling his chest. A small smile floated across his lips.

"We'll finally be together again, Amelia. It's been too long..." he said dreamily, his voice trailing off. A nagging feeling at the back of his mind suggested that something was very wrong but he pushed it away like a rather pesky fly. The warmth grew and spread from his chest to his fingertips and the edge of his toes as he floated towards the soft light. His will to resist was rapidly melting away and Charlie could feel a sensation of pure bliss overcoming him as he slowly slipped away...

Lieutenant Colonel Eleanor L. Redpath, the other tenant of the escape pod too was dealing with the effect of hypoxia. She was starting to lose herself as well, her mind going to a gentler place where she could breath easier and drift away peacefully from the physical world. Her spirit, guide, however was not about to let her die though. She saw it and soon thereafter shot awake once again.

Looking over she saw Higgs. He was not looking so good. Come on Mister Higgs she thought as she used all the strength she had to lift her arms, a PaDD clenched in her hands. She smacked the Chief Warrant Officer with the PaDD. "Stay awake you son of a bitch" she muttered in a brusquely manner. "Amelia can wait. I need you, Mister Higgs" she added bluntly.

Charlie snapped back to reality as he felt the cool metal make an impact against the side of his skull. His eyes fluttering open, he raised himself up against the cramped console. Rubbing the throbbing section of his face, he glared at her. "Why the hell did you hit me? I was napping!" he said thickly, struggling to find his words. He felt a growing buzz in his brain that reminded him of Alderbaran Whiskey. Pulling himself up, he noticed that it was distinctively chilly and the viewport was beginning to frost over, a telltale sign that the carbon dioxide and oxygen mix was getting lower and lower the longer they waited.

"Oxygen levels critical. Forty five minutes oxygen remai-" Charlie slammed his fist against it, causing the voice to distort and stop. Leaning against the console, he checked their communications sensors and tapped the console weakly.

"I'm sending out the distress call again but I'm not seeing anything out there, ma'am." he said, the fatigue evident in his voice.

She looked at the man. "Just keep at it. Federation or not...just keep sending it. Someone will find us" she said. I know it she thought to herself.

Meanwhile nearby, the USS Hammersley was hurtling along at many hundreds of times the speed of light as she had heard the pleadings of help from starfleet officers, both alive and fallen and she would arrive shortly. On her main Bridge. Lt Commander Plataea Yamaguchi regarded the conn officer. "Helm, stand by for impulse speed in five... four... three... two... one."

There was a sudden flash of light as the Hammersley emerged from warp to find four escape pods. "Beam them straight to sickbay." Yamaguchi added, but the command was not necessary, however she added it simply for the record.

Lee headed down to the transporter room, "You there, on the double, scan for lifesigns.....got erm?"

"Aye sir.....locked on."

"=/\= Medical on standby =/\="

"Energise, force field up surrounding the pad." There was a blue blink to depict the force field being erected. "I have no idea where these pods came from, so we'd better quarantine them."

"Aye sir." The flash of blue appeared and then disappeared to reveal the lifesigns.

"Very well Helm, head for the next set of escape pods... same plan as before and engage at maximum warp, when you are ready."

"Aye Commander." the young man seated at conn proceeded with his orders without question or hesitation, moments later the stars elongated into starlines as the Hammersley resumed her course.

Damian stood. This was crunch time- now or never. "Attention all hands, prepare for mass casualties and rescue operations. All shuttles stand by for launch signal." Switching the channel to the transporter room, he motioned for Yamaguchi to listen as well. "We're going to need to go manual on this and tractor in the pods. We don't know the nature of their injuries, so I don't want to subject them to the shock of transporter use. Understood?" he asked. Transports were risky in any case, especially with the potential for bringing in outside contaminants. As he prepared to speak again, he was interrupted by a rapid and increasingly urgent alarm.

Whirling around to face the Operations Officer that was now at the station. "What the hell is that?" he asked, his voice becoming more urgent as the alarm became louder. The duty officer turned white and turned around. "Sir, detecting high levels of gamma radiation close to a set of the pods."

Damian nodded, taking in details. "Origin?"

The operations officer gulped slightly as his hands danced across the console. Damian tapped his foot impatiently, this was nothing to play around with and this young man was taking forever. Turning from the console, he looked to Damian, his face now white as a sheet and dripping fine beads of sweat. "Sir, the radiation has a Federation signature from a fusion reactor."

Damian ran his hand through his hair. There were very few facilities that used fusion reactors and the only one he could think of on this side of the galaxy was Starbase 900. "Initiate radiation scrub procedures and quarantine that shuttle bay now! Get the teams suited up and have the dosimeters ready on the double!" he said before he rose from his chair and headed for the turbolift.

"Commander Yamaguchi, you have the ship." Damian ordered before the turbolift doors closed in front of him. Thoughts were now racing through his mind at a million kilometers per second. He was now faced with mounting rescue operations that probably would stretch their resources and their sanity to the limit.

Yamaguchi nodded "Aye Captain." The middle aged Halanan woman responded before she came around from her station, before she sat down in the command chair. She slowly smiled. "Steady as she goes helm." she commented softly as she relaxed and allowed her people to work.

"Commander. We're coming up on the second set of escape pods."

"Stand by... and Initiate touch and go downwarping. Beam those escape pods aboard and then head for the third group of pods."

"Aye Commander... All stop.. in two... one."

There was a bright flash which had the effect of announcing to everyone nearby that a ship had arrived. Yamaguchi held her silence as she thought.
'Hold on guys help is coming.'

=====Escape Pod 2238-21=====

Charlie peered out of the viewport and blinked twice as he thought that he was hallucinating. There was a silver shining form in the distance with signature red tipped nacelles. Shivering against the intense cold, he elbowed Redpath and pointed in the direction of the form ahead of them. "I think it's an angel, Colonel. The most beautiful I've ever seen." he said, his teeth chattering and his every word coming out in a puff of cold mist.

She was barely with it anymore, but Eleanor managed to have a look. "Aye" she said softly as she started to lose herself once again, slipping away into the emptiness of her mind. Her thoughts were solely on finally being rescued.

Meanwhile on USS Hammersley's bridge. Plataea watched in silence as the people around her worked at their assigned tasks while the rescue effort proceeded, she was seated at the center of a maelstrom of work and effort. "Helm?"

"I have them sir." came the response as Plataea smiled softly as he turned and nodded to the Ops officer.

"On our way Commander." the conn officer smiled.

=====Escape Pod 2238-239=====

Lieutenant Michael Emerson slowly blinked his eyes. "Uhh... I hate... small... confined spaces..." he muttered softly aloud as the two female officers with him shifted their positions, it was cold and while the Andorian Shen didn't seem to mind, the human female however did mind. "Cold... so cold.."
she whispered.

"Think... rescue will come?"

"I dunno." Emerson whispered. "Save your oxygen.."

"Mm....Wait.. whats that?" she asked softly as she indicated a large white dot that seemed to move on its own. "No.. can it be?"

Emerson shifted his head as he blinked, before his eyes opened wide. "I don't believe it..." he paused. "Thats... thats a Federation ship."

"Allah be praised!." the female responded quietly as their escapepod was beamed aboard the Hammersley.

Emerson sighed softly as he looked out the viewport, he found he was looking at the inside of a Federation ships main hanger bay.
It was too small to be a Vikrant or a Pathfinder, maybe a Sovereign or a Kelvin Two, Emerson thought to himself.

"Yay!" the Andorian cheered as someone opened the hatch, in flooded what seemed to be hot air but it was in actuality, normal room temperature. "Alright... Four alive." the medic who entered smiled. "Hey guys... I'm glad to see you."

"Not as glad as we are to see you Chief." Emerson smiled happily. "Do I dare ask?"

"No." The Chief responded. "Come on... Let's get you guys down to sickbay.. I think the skipper will want words with you all."

Paitence is a Greater Virtue then the Sword Sickbay - USS Hammersley Mission Day 2 - 1200Hrs
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Lieutenant Junior Grade Michael Emerson was tired and it showed. He was sitting on a biobed
while he waited for one of the nurses to come look at him, they all seemed to be busy rushing
around as more wounded and living people off of the escape pods from the starbase were
brought in to be looked at by the medical personnel present.

Emerson had checked the defense grid earlier that morning but it seemed like a lifetime ago
now as he blinked his eyes, bringing himself back to the here and now, he sighed as he had no
ideas as to how many had escaped but the attack was swift, sudden, dramatic and brutal.

"Are you alright Lieutenant?" an Andorian shen inquired, wearing medical teal.

"I'm alive.." Emerson responded quietly. "Thats more then I can say for a lot of my guys.."

"I'm Sorry sir." the Andorian responded as she opened her kit. "Let me have a look at you."

Emerson simply nodded as he recalled why today felt like it had been a week since he last
slept, because the brain is overstimulated and in order to process everything in the same
time frame, the person's perception of linear time slows down except it actually does not
slow down so two hours could pass except the person affected could think six hours had

"You look like what you need is a good nights sleep, a good solid meal and a day or so off.
Your blood pressure readings are elevated but other then that... You look like your suffering
the ill effects of asphyxia and hypothermia." the shen muttered something. "I hate those
escape pods."

"You're not the only one." Emerson responded in a dry tone.

"I can have you discharged from sickbay any time Lieutenant." the Andorian responded lightly.
"You look like you don't need to be here."

"Thanks.. I got... nothing to do... so I'm going to go check in and make myself useful."
Emerson then hopped off of the bed only to have the Shen gently place her right hand onto
the center of his chest. "Take it easy for the next few days.. You've just been through a hell
of an ordeal... You system needs time to adjust."

"I will Doctor." and with that the Shen removed her hand from him, she watched him leave the
sickbay with her tired blue eyes before she lifted a PADD and began jotting down notes.

Emerson's next stop was the quartermasters offices as he was intending to go and get a set
of quarters for himself. After that he would head on down to engineering and offer his skills to
whoever the Chief was.
Radioactive Shuttle Bay 2 Concurrent with 'Comfortably Numb'
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Damian stepped out of the turbolift and into the corridor, pressing himself against the bulkhead as a medical team came through with a stretcher containing a moaning and bleeding form. Moving forward, he rounded the corner and entered the shuttle bay where a barrage of sounds, sights, and smells assaulted his senses. He felt like he was wandering like a blind man, simply ambling about until he could be given a purpose. Suddenly, he was startled as someone grabbed his wrist and stopped him from moving further. Whipping around, Damian saw a man that was covered from head to toe in a silver radiation suit.

"Sir, you need to exit this area right now!" the man yelled through his helmet speakers, his voice echoing through the deck. Several people stopped and turned to stare. Apprehensively, Damian stepped back towards the door and found himself shepherded by two decontamination technician in similar radiation suits. Finding himself being hustled into a sealed dome, he found himself on the receiving end of an all to familiar procedure- radiological decontamination. He stripped off his clothes and tossed them into a canister that sealed itself. Stepping through a small, cramped tunnel, he found himself being scanned and bombarded by stinging jets of scalding water and suds. Feeling an intense scrubbing and tingling sensation as his hair stood on end and suds erupted all over his body. Stepping through a wall of intense sprays and a jet of air that dried him off, he found himself in yet another sealed off room where a fresh uniform awaited him with a radiation suit and a small, black square with a white circle of paper- a dosimeter to make sure he didn't absorb too much radiation.

Ensuring that he was dried off, Damian pulled on the uniform and the radiation suit, leaving the helmet hanging like a hood behind him. Walking into another sealed off area, he noticed Ryan directing activities throughout the bay, an Engineering Officer standing behind him.

Ryan was feeling the 20 hours straight he'd been working, but things were still critical and needed to be dealt with. They hadn't had any new cases of radiation poisoning in 2 hours, so that was at least going in the right direction. The engineering officer was standing too close, trying to make sure he was understood through the impediment of the helmet speakers. It was more psychosomatic than anything else, no doubt. The speakers were perfectly clear, and standing closer wasn't going to change that; but it would be rude to say anything so Ryan just focused, or tried to, on what the man was saying, and not the knot of anxiety that was growing in his gut, and increasing the longer the man stood within his bubble of personal space. It was rather a relief to see the Captain, and be given a legitimate excuse to step away. "I'll be right back." He told the engineer and headed to the Captain.

"Sir." Ryan spoke respectfully, and gave the CO a nod.

Damian nodded solemnly in return. He noticed that man looked exhausted, his eyes haggard. "Doctor, how long have you been awake?" he asked in a concerned tone. He was genuinely surprised that someone could keep up the frenetic pace of a rescue in addition to his normal duties as long as this man had done. Turning as he heard footsteps, Damian saw the tall and lanky form of Lieutenant Thorne walking over, a frown clearly visible through the clear visor of the radiation suit.

Peeling back the hood and visor, Cameron wiped his sweat soaked brow with a bare hand. Raising his eyebrow, he looked to Damian and then to Ryan. "Afternoon, sir." he said before rounding on him. "You know, I told you that you needed to get some rest. Did you?" he asked, his eyes narrowing to small slits. Cameron knew that he hadn't heeded his request to hit his rack and get some sleep but he couldn't bring himself to relieve him of duty.

Ryan's expression was one of a petulant child. "I was just checking in with engineering. I don't want to leave until things are stable." He told Cameron, then turned his attention back to the Captain. "Davis has the most current report." He told the CO. He knew his yeoman would have it, the woman's efficiency was nearly mind boggling.

Damian couldn't fault the man for his commitment in the slightest but the safety of his people came first. "I'll get the report from the Chief when we're done here but you're no good to me or anyone if you're dead on your feet. Now I'm giving you two hours to finish up here, rotate your medical staff out, and report to your quarters to get some sleep. Understood?" he said, the authority evident in his voice. He had to admit that this was a smooth operation that Ryan was running but he needed to sleep before he collapsed from exhaustion.

Ryan flinched involuntarily at the tone of voice. Under normal circumstances, he'd be able to control his reaction, but in his state of exhaustion his mind
was on high alert. "Yes sir, understood."

Cameron motioned for the senior officer to come over to him. Damian, being slightly frustrated obliged the man's request and began to speak in a near whisper. "Sir, Doctor Rose has been exhibiting signs of overwork like sleeplessness, increased irritability, and tremors. He'd refused any form of rest until you came down here and relieved him-" Damian held up his hand before the counselor got too far in.

"Lieutenant, I understand that you've been observing signs but in case you haven't noticed-" Damian stopped as he motioned to the deck that was packed with escape pods and a sealed triage area. "-we need all of the medical staff that we have. He'll be out of here in two hours, if you feel it prudent, keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't come back here until you feel he's ready." Damian said, an air of authority in his tone. "In the meantime, get me a plasma torch." he ordered as another escape pod landed on the deck after being deposited by a tractor beam.

Cameron reluctantly nodded. This was going far beyond his normal duties as a counselor. He was not and never had been a babysitter but here he was attempting to keep watch over a slightly reckless but closed off doctor who seemed to have a death wish. But somehow he found himself following on with a minimum of resistance. Pondering the possibilities, he chuckled slightly.

Medical Report Sickbay Mission Day 4, 1700 Hours
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"Right this way, please sir?" Sam asked. She offered him a shy smile and motioned in the general direction of the CMO's office. There really was nowhere else to talk with a goodly portion of sickbay now a morgue, and the rest a triage center.

Damian begrudgingly followed the senior enlisted woman towards the unoccupied office. He was nearly exhausted after 19 hours of being on deck and he could use a few hours of sleep and food but in less than 4 hours, he'd be expected to be back on the bridge in fighting form. Making his way into the office, Damian collapsed into the chair and looked towards the Chief. "I was told you had a report to deliver on the mass casualty op."

"Yes sir." She told him over her shoulder. She was already on the way to the replicator. She only ordered a mug of boiling water though, then opened one of the desk drawers and pulled out a tea bag. She then offered the mug to the CO. "The short of it is two hundred and thirty-seven casualties, with twelve more still critical."

Damian sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "We don't have much space to store the bodies. Can we give them a regulation burial in space?" he asked, taking the mug and letting out a sniff as he took the tea bag in hand. He despised tea and the very notion of it. Setting the mug and tea bag on the desk, he looked back towards Chief Davis and waited for her response. If it came down to it, they would need to 'space' the bodies by simply sending them out of the airlock. Damian hoped with all of his might that it didn't come down to that.

"Not without taxing our supply of torpedo casings." She answered practically. She noted that the tea wasn't to his liking. So much for her plan of a relaxing chamomile tea. "Can I get you something else?" She asked.

"I'm not just going to jettison these bodies into space without a proper burial. If I wanted to do that, we might as well just left them in the escape pods. At least then they would have had a goddamn casket" he said agitatedly, folding his arms. "And I'm sure the Lieutenant has coffee around here somewhere and if he does, I'd like some." he said, his tone slightly more calm.

"Yes sir." Sam quickly slid open a panel next to the replicator. It held a rather large bag of roasted whole coffee beans. She quickly measured out a small amount and ground them, then started them brewing in the small pot that was located in the same alcove. Her instinct to see to his demands met, she sat down and thought. "Cremation?" She asked.

Damian took a deep breath as he inhaled the scent of the freshly brewing coffee- it had a sweet but strong aroma that was almost intoxicating. "Only as a last resort. Even if we can put them in stasis pods and cryogenically freeze the rest in the casings. These people gave their lives for the Federation, so I'm going to give them the burial they deserve, consequences be damned. You get me?" he asked.

"Yes sir I understand I'll make that happen." Sam replied, rather running the words together quickly.

"Good." Damian said plainly before he rose from his seat. "If you need me, I'll be in my quarters. Thanks for the drink." he said, a hint of sarcasm oozing into his voice as he rose from the chair and carefully pushed it in. Wheeling around, he tried to keep himself upright as he walked out of the office, his fingertips touching the bulkheads as he passed.


This has been a Joint Post between

CPO Samantha Davis
Medical Admin

COL Damian Highsmith
USS Hammersley, Commanding
New Staff? No Problem! Captain's Ready Room Mission Day 4, 1900
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Damian stood in his ready room with his jacket off and his sleeves peeled backwards. His face was smeared with black soot and ash from his cutting open the escape pods that had been tractored into the shuttlebay. In the hours that he had been down there, he had become much too familiar with the sweet stench of death again. They had managed to recover over 100 pale and stiff bodies, their lips blue with frost and some with their faces peaceful, almost like they had gone down for a long nap and others with expressions of intense agony as their blood froze within their veins or as the more acute cases of radiation poisoning took hold, burning them from the inside out. There were even a few cases where they had encountered phaser signatures as some had committed suicide in lieu of freezing to death in the cold abyss of space. He was now on his fifth cup of coffee and no taste or smell would be able to remove that of the death that had permeated every fiber of his being. On top of it all, Lieutenant Commanders Yamaguchi and Glyndar had received delayed orders to post off to the USS Meridian, which was in desperate need of a new Chief Tactical Officer and Chief Intelligence Officer. Unfortunately, this left the Hammersley with a critical senior staff shortage, especially since Damian had tapped Janet to become his XO.

Lieutenant Michael Emerson was tired, he had seen the notices of people who had been rescued, some had come within minutes but they had been claimed by death in various ways. He along with a few others managed to cheat it, only because he refused to give death the satisfaction. "I will go home again."

Emerson said quietly as he stepped out of the turbolift, wearing a new uniform and looking somewhat refreshed, however nothing could mistake the lines around his eyes or the shadows around the same.

Emerson felt tired, oh so tired in that he just wanted to close his eyes and sleep but he still had too much to do. He needed to somehow let his wife and children know that he was alright, by now Alexa would know about the destruction of Starbase 900

He reached his destination before he tapped the door chime. His fingers felt like they weighed in at fifty tonnes.

Damian had just managed to lower himself into the chair as the chimes sounded. "Enter." he said tiredly, setting the coffee mug down on the desk slowly as not to drop it as his fingers started to weaken.

Emerson tapped the door release, the door parted and he entered the office. "Captain." he addressed the man behind the desk as such as naval tradition, being what it was demanded as such regardless of the man's actual rank. "Lieutenant Michael Emerson... reporting.. for duty sir."

Ignoring the unintended demotion, Damian took a sip of his now lukewarm coffee and forced himself to swallow it down, suppressing his gag reflex along the way. "Stand easy, Lieutenant."

Arriving shortly thereafter, Redpath proceeded through the opened doors behind Emerson before the doors shut. "And Ma'am" she said looking at Emerson. "In case you wanted to know how I like it. I don't like being called Sir" she explained as she gave a quick nod in Damian's direction. "Colonel" she added politely.

Damian nodded slowly in return to the rather severe looking woman who appeared to be a Lieutenant Colonel at closer inspection. Somehow, he liked her already, mainly due to the sense of authority she seemed to radiate that permeated every inch of the bulkheads around her. Looking to both of the officers, he motioned to the two chairs in front of his desk. "Have a seat. Can I get you anything? Coffee, Water, Tea?"

Eleanor raised her hand slightly, gesturing the Colonel to stay where he was. "You saved my life, Colonel. I'll get it. Lieutenant, take the nice Colonel up on his offer and have something" she said softly. "Anything for yourself, Sir?" she asked shooting a look at Damian.

"I'll have a glass of orange punch please." Emerson responded, a gentle smile on his lips. He receved his drink a moment later

Damian shot a glance to the mug of coffee on his desk. "No, thank you, Colonel." he said as he pushed the now cold drink away from him. "Now, Colonel. If I'm not mistaken, it's considered rude in many cultures to not introduce oneself by name on a first meeting, is it not?" he asked without a hint of rudeness or sarcasm in his voice.

She looked at him with her arms crossed. "In some cultures it is rude to use one's name in the company of superiors. Though if you wish...Eleanor. My name given to me by my parents is Elanor Lillian Redpath, though I prefer Lilly or simply Redpath if outside the professional setting."

Damian smirked slightly. This one had a fire to her and she knew just how to respond without being disrespectful. "You're correct, Colonel. But that aside, it's a pleasure to meet you." Standing up, Damian moved around the desk so that he was on the same side as the two officers. "Now, you two were ordered to report here because, as you might have surmised, I've got a slight personnel shortage due to the infinite wisdom of the people at Starfleet Bureau of Personnel and I've been ordered to surrender two of my most senior officers to the Meridian. Now with no way to naturally gain replacements, I'm unfortunately going to have to assign you to certain positions until you either die here or I find someone better, understood?" he said, a slight edge in his tone. This whole ordeal was frustrating and he didn't want to do it, but unfortunately he needed an Executive Officer and a Chief Engineer more than ever now.

Emerson nodded his head while he sipped his drink. "Well sir, I don't plan on dying any time soon and your ship is short.. I'll have your engineering department up to spec and I'l have a few of my guys from Starbase Nine Hundred to help me in that."

Lieutenant Colonel Redpath nodded. "I understand, Colonel. You have your back against the wall and Starfleet Command has more or less castrated you by taking some of your more senior officers, leaving you...lacking" she said crisply. "I have no issue remaining aboard and taking whatever position you require me to take, though I have no intention on dying and I question the likelihood of finding anyone 'better' to replace me with" she said with a firmness to her tone. "It is not a matter of pride or arrogance, just simple facts and statistics. Marines tend to favor fellow marines. There are not as many Marines in Starfleets, even fewer with any sort of command experience, and even less with the skills and assets that I bring aboard."

Highsmith looked at her, the smirk still present on his face. "With you I don't doubt it. From what I was able to gather from your personnel records, you've been a Judge Advocate for the entirety of your career including a few Staff Judge Advocate tours on two separate combat deployments. Not bad." Looking over to the Lieutenant, who hadn't had a chance to speak, he motioned. "Well don't be so meek, Lieutenant. Your father wouldn't happen to be Admiral Emerson of the 18th Fleet, would he?" Damian asked

Emerson looked more amused then anything else, clearly enjoying the wordplay and body language of the two officers before him. He sipped his drink. "Mm.. Indeed he is. Yes." Emerson responded. "I felt it best to not interrupt sir... It never goes well for the one doing the interrupting."

Redpath looked at the lieutenant "It's a good thing to know and to do, Lieutenant. Though in general marines can handle a little more crassness. We can take bold and direct answers and interrupting so long as it is done with respect tends to go over alright with me personally" she said. "How about with you?" she asked, her glance shooting over towards the Colonel.

Damian shrugged. "If your comment adds to the discussion or I'm about to do something stupid, then interrupt by all means. But if you're just there to add inane feedback, be disrespectful, or waste my time or the time of others, I'd prefer if you just kept your mouth shut." he said honestly. Shuffling some PADDs around, he looked to the two officers. "Now, back to business. Colonel Redpath, since you are now the most senior officer aboard, I'm appointing you as my Executive Officer. Captain Smith will be able to get you set up with quarters and some fresh uniforms." Shuffling some PADD's about, he turned to the Lieutenant. "Mister Emerson, effective immediately you're hereby assigned as my Chief Engineer. Now your department is mostly composed of enlisted crew with a few Warrant Officers tossed in for good measure. Your predecessor was a lot more loose in the way she ran things but she got the job done and I expect you to do the same. Dismissed." he said to Emerson.

Emerson held his silence as he accepted the PADD. "Thank you Colonel. I will see to it that Engineering holds its own and is ready for anything." he commented before he was dismissed, he then turned and departed in silence.

Damian turned his chair to face Eleanor after Michael made his exit. "Now, I'd like to go over some of your duties-" he was interrupted by an urgent alert from his desk console. Releasing a sigh, he tapped the desk console to open the channel. "What is it?" he asked.

"Sir, we've detected a large object that's fading in and out of sensor range. It's emitting a distress call-" The voice of Lance Corporal Lansley said over the channel.

Damian interrupted the man. "We're conducting rescue operations right now. Our people are going to take precedence-" he was interrupted as the man on the bridge spoke again.

"It's Federation in origin, sir. From the sound of it, it's coming from Starbase 900." Lansley said quickly.

Damian quickly got up from his chair and was in front of the door before Lansley could finish speaking. Turning to Eleanor, he looked at her over curiously. "Looks like our conversation will have to wait. Welcome aboard the Hammersley, XO." he said as he crossed the threshold.

Eleanor did not have much of a chance to converse with the man, but she had gathered enough to know he was not going to be a complete idiot. That was enough for her to feel comfortable staying aboard until she had a clearer picture of the man and his abilities. She had nodded and followed him out.


Colonel Damian Highsmith
USS Hammersley, Commanding

Lieutenant Colonel Eleanor Redpath
Executive Officer
USS Hammersley

Lieutenant Michael Emerson
Chief Engineer
USS Hammersley
What the Hell is That? USS Hammersley, Main Bridge Immediately Following 'New Staff, No Problem!'
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Damian strode onto the bridge from his ready room, with Corporal Lansley standing there with his mouth agape as he had been interrupted in mid-sentence. Taking his seat at the command chair, he turned back. "Continue, Corporal." he said in a slightly fatigued manner.

Lansley took a breath and continued. "Sir, the message is broadcasting on One-Twenty One- Five on a loop like the escape pods we recovered but this one is a little different." Without prompting, Simon played the signal on the bridge speakers. From what Damian could tell, the broadcast was tinged with static and the unmistakable sound of heavy, hurried breathing- almost as if the person was running short on time and air.

"To any Federation ship in the vicinity, this is Dahar Mahoka. We are currently trapped in Section Two -Whiskey-Beta- Eight and we appear to be drifting. Please. Anyone. Help us-" any sound was cut off by a series of meaty thuds of bodies hitting bulkheads followed by distant yells that sounded like bodies hitting bulkheads. The voice delivering the monologue continued. "-I have forty souls alive and I don't know how long more we can hold out.-"

Yamaguchi raised an eyebrow. "Dahar... as in a Dahar Master..?" she asked softly, not expecting a response.

Damian made a cutting motion across his throat to cut the feed. His blood had turned icy- there were now more souls to rescue and they had no idea if they were even still alive. "Corporal, how old is that transmission?" Damian inquired.

"Approximately 90 hours, sir. We just started picking it up since the escape pod signals were terminated." Lansley said quickly.

Damian swallowed and looked forward as he tried to come up with a plan. The ship was already full of casualties and the medical staff was stretched thin as it was. Everyone had been working double shifts since the initial rescue and most of the senior staff was probably dead on their feet. "Corporal, get Captain Smith to the bridge and initiate a signal trace. Helmsman, lay in a course for that location.

Lee was helping in engineering with some transfer of power reserves to help with the boosting of the sensor output, "Nearly there, come on, can get better than that crewman. We need to get more power to the sensor array to at least get a fix. The messages are still coming in garbled at best and not the entire transmission either....well I don't think so."

"I'm trying sir.....there that better?"

"Good, =/\= Computer, replay the last transmission. =/\=" The computer replayed the distress call with more clarity. They too heard the bulkheads and background screams.

"Well they're scared. But still nothing much from it. Okay try the sensor array, the area is still vast but I'd be sure we'll get some interference to his sensors. Try to tweak that input a bit further...." They monitored the readings increase just a little bit and Lee was doubly sure that small changes give bigger results. As things degrade, there is always the set parameters that Starfleet requires but every engineer and crew alike, know that it is just a guideline and every module, component have their characteristics and seem to work fine if given the opportunity. Sort of like buying a CPU and overclocking it. That's what's being done here.

"=/\= Captain Smith to the bridge =/\="

"=/\= Coming!! =/\=" Lee wasn't the best of marines, short of discipline and marine ethos but he holds his work to heart. The days of parades and inspections, rifle shooting have gone for him. But he's quite happy to get up and the crack of dawn and burn the midnight oil. Lee headed for the turbo lift, "Bridge." The turbo lift wooed up the shaft and along and up; Lee never got used to being jerked about as much but was sure Engineering might look at that.....one day. The doors opened, "Who wants me?" Heading to his station, "Ops to this panel." The LCARS display glimmered up. Peering over at the sensors and saw the starbase debris appear. "Hmmm that worked well.....needs more clarity on that."

Lt Commander Plataea Yamaguchi was busy at her post. "I'm reading a significant amount of debris." she paused. "I think it's Starbase Nine Hundred." she added a moment later.

Just then the com system beeped at the bridge crew. "Emerson to bridge. My guys and I are ready for anything down here."

"Helm, take us in." Damian commanded. "The rest of you, prep for an Away Mission." Turning to the XO, Damian pulled a heavy golden challenge coin from his pocket that was emblazoned with the Starfleet Marine Corps seal on one side and two crossed wrenches on the other. “XO, pick a side- Heads says I lead the Away Team, tails says you go." Damian said, putting the coin flat in his hand.

Yamaguchi raised an eyebrow as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Ahem..." she regarded the two. “Should I even bother citing chapter and verse of the away team regs?" she inquired in a tone that said she knew the outcome.

Damian chuckled. "You could, Commander but we're Marines, we're well known for rushing headlong into danger." he said playfully. "Colonel, I'd appreciate it if you'd pick your side or I might have to pick for you." he said to Eleanor in the same playful tone, his statement tinged with a slight bit of impatience.

Yamaguchi simply shook her head. "That’s a matter of opinion sir." the older woman commented. "Risking the Captain or first officer on the ship is... frankly sir... most unwise as we simply lack the resources at this time."

Lieutenant Colonel Redpath looked at Colonel Highsmith "I do not believe in flipping a coin, Colonel. You have my endorsement to lead this away team" said the woman before she cast her eyes upon Yamaguchi. "I applaud your respect for regulations, rules, protocol and so forth. However, you will learn quite quickly Marines live by a code. It's rarely wise to try and keep a Marine from the action" she said.

Damian flashed a reluctant smirk at this woman's creative refusal. "Well then, you'll be on the bridge. Keep a channel open." Standing up from his chair, he walked over to the turbolift. "Keep trying to nail down that signal and have Captain Smith meet me in the Armory for briefing. Anyone else who wants to join is more than welcome to do so. “He said, opening the door for the assembled staff to join him. As no one rose from their seats, he moved his hand. "XO has the ship." he said deliberately before the doors closed in front of him.

Yamaguchi stood in silence, with an incredulous look on her face but she was able to not say anything stupid as she fought with her emotions, people had simply ignored the regs regarding away team duty out of hand which honestly bothered her, however she schooled her face back to a measure of passivity before she turned back to her panel. "Incoming debris." she reported. "Directly ahead."

"Helm, evasive maneuvers" she said calmly as Eleanor took a seat in the Captain's chair. "Yamaguchi, reroute auxiliary power to sensors. I want more advance notice of any debris before we hit the proverbial iceberg, alright?" stated the First Officer. "And if you need to, don't hesitate to raise shields if we are going to hit anything" she added.

Yamaguchi nodded. "Willco." she began to keep a sharp watch over the debris floating around outside. "Colonel... May I speak my thoughts?" the older woman inquired.

"You are the Tactical Officer, are you not? Given the situation, I'd hope you have a lot to offer...speak" she replied.

Yamaguchi regarded Redpath. "Colonel, has anyone considered the possibility that this could all be a trap... The Borg usually do not leave survivors as they assimilate them, not leave them to be picked up." she explained. "Could the Borg be waiting to take us out too...?”

A corporal approached Lee on the bridge, "You gotta go over to the armory sir."

"I haven't been here long."

"Sorry, sir."

"It's fine corporal." With that, he turned to the display.

"Ops off." the LCARS disappeared and he headed for the turbo lift.

Redpath weighed the possibility. "It is well within reason to consider this a trap, though I consider everything a potential trap. However, with nothing further to go on, we must proceed...cautiously."

Yamaguchi had not been expecting the response, she nodded her head as she processed it. "Very well... I will keep a weather eye out for Borg ships...” the older woman responded.

Taking a Little Trip... Boarding Team Prep Room, Deck 8 25 Minutes following 'What The Hell is That?'
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Damian sat on the bench in the Boarding Prep Room, pulling on a pair of magnetic boots to seal off his matte gray EVA suit. Standing up, he tapped a button on his cuff and felt his suit tighten as the seals engaged. As he continued to check over his equipment, his mind raced at a million miles an hour at the potential for disaster- this rescue mission could end badly as many had before with more casualties coming out than there were going in. Damian couldn't help but think of Anchorage and the people who had been killed because he had failed to account for all of the variables. Clenching his fist, he took a breath and tried to steel himself for the mission ahead but couldn't shake the unmistakable feeling of dread that was spreading through him.

Michael Emerson meanwhile was nearby as he was checking over his helmet and his suits displays, he had put his legs on first then his boots then the chest piece. "Yep... all one hundred over one hundred." as he selected his other items he would need, he then slipped his pack onto his back, where he knew it would catch on the magnetic strips there which would hold anything that came within contact, he lifted one demolitions sequencer charge. "Yep... This is going to hurt... a lot."

"Here you go." Came the gentle dulcet tones of Petty Officer Second Class Kelly Shaddock who turned towards him while she handed him a rifle.

"Thanks Kelly..." he turned to the rest of the detail. “Is everyone ready?" Emerson inquired as he slid his rifle onto his back, just next to his pack.

Damian turned around to address the Lieutenant and Petty Officer. "We're a few members short of a full Away Team but it'll have to do for now. If anyone joins us before we go skids up, then they can come along. He said, exiting into the massive elevator that led to the shuttle bay.

Lee stepped on board, "Someone called me? Just thought I'd help myself to this mission." Lee said jokingly as he knew that he was required for the mission.

"I hope there'll be some pluses when we get out there and see what went on." Lee keeping on the positive but he knew that was going to be some carnage and nothing much left behind but clues.

=====Five Minutes Later in Runabout Odin=====

"=/\= Smith to ops.....corporal, all hands aboard the Odin, ready to go. =/\="

"=/\= Shuttlecraft Odin is cleared for departure. Opening bay doors in 5.....4......3......2......1......force fields activated." The alert klaxon had sounded and the yellow halogen beacons started rotating. Shuttle bay operations in progress, the shuttle bay doors remained closed and the force field at the exit had erected. The bay doors slowly opened to reveal the stars outside.

"=/\= Ready to go =/\=" The corporal announced.

"=/\= Thanks corporal =/\="

Damian's hands danced across the console as he began powering up essential systems on the Arrow Class runabout. Feeling the deck plates begin to vibrate ever so subtly, Damian waited for the rest of the team to join him before he decided to seal the doors sealed the doors and gun the engines into the black the surrounding space. He had been joined by Gunner McLachlan and two of his Marines, who would providing tactical support in the event that things got hairy.

"Emerson, I need you to help me run a preflight. Check interlock."

Emerson nodded. "Checking it now...” he responded.

"Connect dynotherms."

Emerson tapped the display twice. "Check..." he responded simply

"Last but not least, lock infracells and prepare for takeoff." Damian pulled back on the stick and caused the runabout to lift sharply, flicking a couple of switches to adjust the thrusters, he pressed forward and the ship shot out into the inky blackness of space....

==== Runabout Odin, 25 Minutes Later ======

Michael Emerson was seated in the co-pilots chair while Kelly was seated behind him and to his right. "Approaching the target." Emerson said softly.

Damian let out a whistle and his jaw hung open. The segment of the starbase was a charred hulk that reminded him of a piece of increasingly rotted fruit. There were random spurts of flame as burning compartments explosively decompressed and released their contents into space. Fighting the urge to exclaim, Damian opened a channel to the Hammersley. "This is Charlie- Eight-Two to X-Ray- Eight-Two, can you hear us?" he asked as he turned to Michael.

Eleanor Redpath could not resist the smirk that came across her face as she heard the Colonel report in. "Like a canary in a mine, Colonel. We hear you loud and clear. Please make sure you return to us in one piece. I do not want to have to fill out all the paperwork in regards to a crew death least not that of the Commanding Officer" she replied. "What can we do for you?" she asked.

"Start running scans of the structure and isolate life signs if we can." Damian ordered as he reached down for his helmet. Pulling it on, he connected the seals and a single tube that would supply his oxygen. Tapping the other button on his wrist, he felt the seal tighten around his neck and a Heads Up Display appear on his visor.

Emerson tapped his com. "Blue Team, mount up." he commented quietly before he pulled on his helmet and sealed it shut against the rest of his armor.
"Colonel." Emerson opened a private channel to Highsmith. "Mind if I speak my thoughts?" he inquired of the older man before him.

Damian's hands tightened around the sticks as he brought the runabout on a slow approach to the piece of the starbase, attempting to keep a safe distance. "By all means, Lieutenant. I'm listening." he said, pressing the stick forward and activating the autopilot.

"Sir... This could be a trap... The Borg attacked us with six cubes... When they had all but finished the job, they simply stopped attacking and ran... I also question why they left us as survivors...” he regarded the Colonel. "The base could be bait in a trap... however I am not saying we should leave people... I just feel some extra caution is warranted... If I know Plataea... She's already said more or less the same thing to Colonel Redpath...”

Damian thought for a moment. "You're right, it could be a trap and we could be killed or assimilated the moment we float in there but what if it isn't? What if we leave and abandon those people in there to die from suffocation because we didn't think it was safe? To quote Kirk 'Risk is our business'. Think about that for the next ten seconds." he said, slightly annoyed at what he perceived as cowardice.

Emerson regarded the skipper. "My father said the same thing... and for the record... I never said leave anyone behind...” Emerson got more annoyed as he spoke. "You must so little of me to think that I would abandon my friends." he turned his head. "Blue Team, with me!" he snapped angrily. "We have people to save...”

"Right time to go ladies." Lee said as he donned his helmet, checked his waist belt was secure, grappling hook was attached. Tricorder in hand and a few other standardized items as per away team protocol available.

"Prep for decompression and EVA. It's about to get a little cold in here." Damian said in a cold tone as he moved towards the slowly opening aft hatch that was leaving them exposed to space. Disengaging his magnetic boots, Damian launched himself towards the first massive slagged opening and felt himself float in. He sensed his feet touching the deck and he re-engaged his boots on the uneven metal outcropping and waited for everyone else to land.

As the last man landed, Damian spoke over the channel. "Blue Team, you'll be taking the lower decks. Red Team, we'll be taking the mids. Tag all civilians with emergency transport beacons and lead them to an available beam out point. If any terminals are operations, download what data you can and set the self-destruct on them if possible. Once you reach your designated structural junctures, set your charges and get the hell out of there. If you encounter hostiles, do what you can but if it's the Borg- you run. I don't want any dead heroes today, now let's move. "

Petty Officer Second Class Kelly Shaddock and Petty Officer First Class Frederic Ellsworth, both nodded. "Understood sir." as Emerson landed on the base. "Alright... Blue team with me... Let's find a way into the base." he commented as he activated his magnetic locks on his boots, this secured him to the base, all of his team did likewise before they began moving slowly towards their destination.

Shaddock spotted an airlock. "Blue Lead, Two... Airlock at my two o'clock."

"Good eyes Two" Emerson responded before he began moving in the direction, he smiled as he activated the display but somehow it still had power to the area, so he opened the outer doors. "Everyone, inside... there is no reason to assume it won't lock as soon as the doors close." Emerson responded.

His team entered and moments later they were inside the base. "Alright... Let's do this, sweep each section and look for wounded and live people first, worry about the dead another time." Emerson knew it was harsh but he had to take care of the living first as the dead were beyond his help at this point in time. "Kelly, you got the point. Lead on... Fred, you are rear guard."


"Understood Chief." came the responses as Kelly Shaddock started the three of them off.

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ooc-okay, I've been trying to get your attention on Skype for a while now. I was wanting to do a post with you, but you've been impossible to get a hold of to work on an opening. The idea in mind is that with these pods that are being evacuated, not all of the survivors will be able to fit into the infirmary, so the overflow could be kept in the lounge until they were cleared to be housed in guest quarters. only, I didn't know if Aelyn should start something or if Ryan would reach out to her for this, hence why I've been poking you on skype. anyway, I figured you'd check your email eventually and maybe you'd get back to me this way.
Argent Moon Remains of Starbase 900 Five minutes after Taking a Little Trip...
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Lieutenant Michael Emerson sighed as the orders ran through his mind once more as he recalled the voice of Colonel Highsmith. "Blue Team, you'll be taking the lower decks. Red Team, we'll be taking the mids. Tag all civilians with emergency transport beacons and lead them to an available beam out point. If any terminals are operations, download what data you can and set the self-destruct on them if possible. Once you reach your designated structural junctures, set your charges and get the hell out of there. If you encounter hostiles, do what you can but if it's the Borg- you run. I don't want any dead heroes today, now let's move. "

Petty Officer Second Class Kelly Shaddock and Petty Officer First Class Frederic Ellsworth both knew something was bothering Blue Leader but for now, the two of them left it alone for now as the three of them sealed the airlock behind them, then Kelly repressurised the system so they could gain access to the base interior.

Emerson narrowed his eyes. "Blue Team, leave you buckets on." he said quietly over the com. "Indulge me on this one guys."

"Willdo." came Shaddock's response as Ellsworth simply nodded his head before he added. "Aye skipper."

Emerson watched in silence as Shaddock began to access the computer core, moments later there was a loud hissing sound before the seals were broken and the airlock opened, allowing Blue Team access to the station. "Blue Team to Homeplate, we're in... will advise further."

The response was instant. "Roger that Blue Team. Proceed at your discretion." came the voice of Lt Commander Plataea Yamaguchi

"Roger that Wheeljack. out." Emerson responded evenly, sounding like he was calm and in control of his emotions.

Shaddock led the way in silence, she allowed her gaze to drift from center to her left and then off to her right, there were bodies everywhere and while she was fortunate she didn't know any of them, this didn't make it easier for anyone from Blue Team. "Check for lifesigns..." Emerson commented.

Shaddock rolled her right wrist before she began tapping the wrist-tricorder with her left hand. "Copy Lead. checking the.... people over."

Emerson could hear the emotion in her voice but he knew exactly how Kelly felt. "Fred.. Move to the door and get us an exit when we finish here.."

"Willco Lead. heading there now." was all Ellsworth said. 'Willco' was shorthand for 'Will Comply' Emerson recalled as he likewise activated his tricorder, moments later his readings confirmed what his eyes had already told him, every single last person in here was dead.


"Doors open lead." came the response. Emerson nodded his head. "Lets move on towards the core.." he gently prodded his teammates, there was no point in remaining here.
Mixed Signals Starbase 38 - Kartelan Station Mission Day 1, 1030 (Galactic Standard Time)
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Major General Christopher Mitchell sat back in his office chair, fuming over his recent hail from the Victory. Missing ships and missing Captains, it was all too much to handle. On top of that, based on the readiness reports he was receiving, less than half of his ships were at an acceptable maintenance state and couldn’t even deploy within 24 hours. Flipping through the reports on the PADD, he angrily poked and skipped through them, barely able to stomach the information he was receiving. He tossed the PADD aside with a hint of annoyance and stood up and walked over to his personal replicator.

“Colombian Dark Roast. Black.” he ordered. A moment later, the replicator glowed and dispensed a cup of what could be considered coffee. Picking up the metal cup, the acrid scent of what was once coffee assaulted his nose. Looking down, he swirled the thick sludge in the cup, watching it cling to the sides. Christopher gingerly sat the cup down and pressed the console to dispose of it. Making a note to make a work order for that repair, he walked over to the massive viewport and stared out of the window that overlooked the barren surface of Kartelan II. The darkness of space made the clouds of lunar sands glitter incandescently in the distance. It was truly something to behold

“I need a sign. Send me someone who can whip these people back into shape.” he said with a slight sigh.

A few moments later, he was pulled from his reverie by the ringing of the communications.

“General Mitchell, your presence is requested in the CIC” the voice of his watch officer, Lieutenant Commander Leopold ‘Leo’ Connolly announced. Walking out of his office and into the bustling Combat Information Center. Walking over to the ‘Pool Table’, a massive operational workstation, he saw a pulsing red Starfleet chevron. Connolly pointed to the chevron and brought it up on the screen.

“Sir, we’ve received a distress call- Priority Two Delta…” Leo paused for a moment as he stopped to listen through his headset. “Sir - It’s from the Hammersley.”

Christopher’s eyebrows furrowed. “Wasn’t the Hammersley lost on a mission with all hands over a year ago?”

Raines nodded. “Yes, sir. The distress signal broadcasted for six months but we deemed it too high risk due to nearby Borg presence and the high levels of background radiation. The signal stopped approximately 5 months ago - probably due to interference or power loss but it just reactivated itself.”

Christopher nodded and leaned against the table. “What’s our probability of a successful rescue, given current tactical conditions in that area?”

Raines tapped at his console like a man possessed. “Well sir, probability sits at 100:1 if my math is right. Based on our latest sensor scans, there are plenty of fried ships out including a Malon scavenging vessel, which prevented further readings.”

“Life signs?” Christopher asked.

Leo shook his head. “None at last scan, sir but we can’t confirm for sure unless we send someone in.”

Christopher sighed slightly. “I feel like we’re having this conversation too many times- what ships are available, Commander?”

Connolly responded almost immediately. “Well, sir. The Coulson is docked and is just finishing up a resupply but she’s only got a skeleton crew and no Commanding Officer. They can sail in less than 8 hour if you decide to go for it.”

Christopher thought for a moment. “Very well, bring in Captain Raines and brief him-”

Raising his hand for a moment, Leo spoke up. “Sir, with all due respect. Captain Raines is too valuable to be risked- ”

Christopher’s face reddened and he raised his hand in a knifelike motion. “Commander, you seem to be under the impression that I’m making a polite request and that I’m open to placing you into a command. Let me be outstandingly clear- I am definitely not. Now bring Captain Raines here now or so help me, I’ll have you cleaning the external plating of lunar dust for the rest of your career” he threatened. Christopher was extremely familiar with Commander Connolly- he had been on a meteoric rise through Starfleet prior to the Dominion War when he had been court-martialed for his participation in Admiral Leyton’s ill-fated coup. In his own defense, he had only been following orders. Since then, he had been bounced from menial assignment to menial assignment, never promoting above Lieutenant Commander and silently accepting his fate each time but it seemed he was finally bucking up to make something of himself again.

Leo squared his shoulders and his eyes narrowed. “Sir, I know that what I did aboard the Lakota isn’t easily forgiven but I’ll be damned if I allow you to keep me here. If I go, you lose nothing but a ship. If you send Raines and something happens to him, you lose far too much operational knowledge.” he said indignantly.

Christopher thought for what seemed like an eternity. As much as he hated to admit it, Connolly was right.

“Very well, Commander. You leave me no choice - I’m ordering you to take command of the Coulson and bring back the Hammersley. If not, prevent it from falling into non-Federation hands. Dismissed.”

Crash Sailed USS Coulson Mission Day 1, 1100 (Galactic Standard Time)
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Leo broke into a sharp run down the corridor after the doors to the Command Center closed and General Mitchell's edict had been delivered with an urgency that he had never heard before. Reaching a turbolift, he slid inside its waiting doors and narrowly avoided slamming into the bulkhead, receiving bemused looks from two Ensigns who clambered out of the way to avoid him.

"Computer, what is the location of the USS Coulson?" he inquired.

The computer beeped and responded. "The USS Coulson is currently docked in Berthing Three, Section Bravo."

Leo smirked slightly. "Computer, Priority Override. Destination0 Berthing Three, Section Bravo. Authorization Connolly-Sigma-Two-Five." With an affirmative beep, the lift shot downward, making all of their occupants grab onto the handrail to keep themselves firmly anchored to the deck as the lift engaged emergency speeds. Then, as quickly as it had started, the lift slid to a stop and the doors slid open to reveal a massive glass viewport that shielded them from the massive Atlantia Class vessel in the docking bay. She had beautiful nacelles and a streamlined appearance that reminded Leo of a hammerhead shark with the power to match. Walking down the corridor toward the docking umbilical on the aft brow, he cleared the doors and entered into an area that he quickly recognized as the quarterdeck. An enlisted crewman in a dress uniform was manning the console. Seeing Leo's collar, he snapped to attention, his heels clicking together.

Leo stopped and saluted quickly. "Lieutenant Commander Connolly requesting permission to come aboard," he said quickly.

The crewman snapped off a quick salute. "Sir, Permission granted. Welcome aboard."

Leo dropped his hand. "Thank you, Crewman." he said, sliding past the deck and walking towards the turbolift.

============== 10 Minutes Later ==============

Leo walked out of the turbolift and onto the bridge. Looking around, he saw a tall and lanky Lieutenant giving orders to the various technicians and junior officers. Walking over, he addressed the now junior officer. "Lieutenant, I'm Commander Connolly. What's our status?" he asked.

"Lieutenant Ford, sir." The man said tersely. "Our status is-" he stopped as he tapped a PADD and scrolled. "-we're undermanned, we barely have enough torpedoes to survive a combat engagement, and our computer's on the fritz-" Cabot's statement was punctuated by a sudden blackout before the bridge lights came back on, this time bathing the bridge in red light as a distorted alert klaxxon activated and then immediately switched to Alert Condition Blue. Turning to his left, Leo caught a glimpse of a junior Operations officer smacking the console with a closed fist and being greeted with a shower of sparks for his trouble before the lights turned back on.

"Well, we're going to have to fix it on the fly, Mr. Cabot. Effective immediately, I've been ordered to take command of the Coulson to respond to a distress call from Hestia's Hearth."

Cabot winced visibly. "Well, I'll be damned. How can they be serious, Commander? This ship can barely fly, let alone fight! How do they expect us to go into that radiation filled hellhole."

Leo's eyes narrowed. "Well, I'd think with some patience and shields. Just get the ship ready to go in two hours, Lieutenant and try to lay off the defeatist attitude on the bridge." he said, trying to muster the confidence of a commanding officer.

"I'm pretty sure, Lieutenant, that this guy can help fix the fritzy computer." Trey said, putting poor Izaro on the spot. She walked over to the man wearing the Lieutenant Commander uniform. She handed him a padd, it was her transfer orders. Another set of orders, her mother had orchestrated. She was really getting upset about her mother. "Lieutenant Trey Solwick, the new Chief of Security and Tactical." She said, as she snapped to the position of attention.

Leave it to Trey to throw him into the middle of things. He held his padd until the lieutenant commander was finished looking at Trey’s and handed his over as well, standing at attention. “Lieutenant Izaro Solwick, your new Chief of Operations. I am ready to jump in and help out, Sir.”

Leo nodded at both of them. "Lieutenant Commander Leopold Connolly, I'll be running the show on this little cruise. Assuming you both heard my previous conversation, I need this ship ready to fly in two hours. Miss Solwick, get those torpedoes loaded and ready. Mister Solwick, see if you can give the computer a jump start. Pull anyone you need- and I mean anyone. Am I clear?" he asked

“Yes Lieutenant Commander!” Izaro relied. “Consider it done, Sir!”

Trey felt a little bad, putting Izaro on the spot. But she could sense, from the man. They were in a hurry to get this ship launched. She knew that Izaro was up for the challenge. She smiled as she answered his orders. "Aye sir, came to work. And there is plenty of it around here."

Leo nodded and took the PADD from Lieutenant Cabot to examine the work priority. Much of this could be accomplished en route to the Hammersley so that would have to be the plan.

"Keep me posted, Mister Solwick. In the meantime, I'll be in Engineering."

Trey could appreciate being busy. It would get her mind off this pregnancy and off her mother. And how much influence she had over her life. Trey was glad there was things that needed to be done. A distraction, was exactly what she needed. She looked over to Izaro, to see what he was going to say.

Izaro went to work as ordered. He loved being thrown right into the fire. Giving the computer a jump start sounded like an easy task. He would do it but it would take a few minutes. He looked over at Trey. “I have a good feeling about this transfer and it’s strong. We better get busy, before he comes back looking for us.”

There was so many ways to interpret that response. But she knew what he meant. They should start working on other projects to keep busy. She wondered, what was happening on the ship they were heading out too. How bad were things over there. Right now, this ship had some minor things to fix, but for the most part. She was a space worthy ship. The scene starts to fade, with them hard at work at their stations on the bridge.
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"Lieutenant, what is the Number One security threat to the Federation right now? And spare no details." the imposing Admiral asked a young and babyfaced Lieutenant Leopold 'Leo' Connolly. The senior officer was sitting in a massive leather chair and facing a floor to ceiling window that allowed him a splendid view of the Presidio and the shimmering San Francisco Bay beyond that.

Taking a deep breath, the Lieutenant spoke, his words measured and careful. "According to Intelligence analysis, the most exigent threat is that of the Dominion on the tactical front. However, it has been suggested that Changeling infiltration is an incredibly potent threat, especially against infrastructure and technical centers, which could set Federation research and technical efforts back by at least a decade-"

The Admiral raised a calm and steady hand to stop him. "That'll be enough, Lieutenant. Knowing what you know, how do we stop them?"

Leo spoke again, his face reddening. "Well, increasing security measures at those sites to destroy the Changelings might be a good bet along with increasing identification requirements using deep tissue DNA analysis."

The Admiral listened intently, nodding silently as Leo continued to speak.

"I'd also recommend some unannounced Red Team Operations, potentially a mixed team to test security at these sites-"

The Admiral raised his hand again. "Lieutenant, you seem to be echoing my Intelligence Staff almost exactly. You haven't been spying on me, have you?"

Leo stood at stiff attention. "No, sir."

The chair turned around to reveal Admiral James Leyton, Chief of Starfleet Operations. "Good, Lieutenant. How would you like an assignment"

"Sir, what sort of assignment are we talking?" Leo inquired, his eyebrow raised.

Standing, the Admiral came around the desk and leaned on the edge, his arms folded. "Obviously, you know what you're talking about and you have the research to back it up. How do you feel about teaching at the Academy?" he asked, leaning forward slightly.

Leo smirked slightly. "Well respectfully, sir. I didn't expect to be back at the Academy this soon, wiping Cadets asses." Leo hated teaching as it was the bane of his existence. He absolutely loathed the stupid questions and lack of critical thinking that cadets had an unfortunate tendency to display.

Leyton chuckled quietly. "Well, it wasn't so long ago that you were a cadet yourself and you'd be wise to remember that, Lieutenant. I'm ordering you to report as the Squadron Lead Instructor for Training Squadron 47. You'll be training them in penetration tactics and sabotage"

"Sir- that's Red Squad. I'm nowhere near qualified-"

Leyton interrupted him again. "You seem to be forgetting yourself. We served together some years ago but please don't assume that gives you any form of carte blanche to interrupt me. Maybe once you get some more pips on your collar, we can consider talking closer to the level of equals but my orders are clear and final. You'll report there within 24 hours and provide weekly status reports. Dismissed."

Leo's heels snapped together, almost by reflex before he executed a sharp about face and exited the office.
Before we board the USS Coulson Kartelan Station Mission Day 0, 1700 (Galactic Standard Time)
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"I swear to you that, woman is going to drive me insane." Trey said with her bags backed, and Peebles sitting on top of her one of her luggage pieces. She was very annoyed, that he mother had her transferred once again to another ship. This time she was not even sure, where she was going. She was told to report to Kartelan Station, and she would get further orders. Luckily she was not traveling alone. Her Husband had been given orders too. So far Trey, had managed to hide the fact she was pregnant from her mother. She did not want to give her mother that satisfaction. Trey took one last look at the temporary room, they had been on with the transport vessel.

“At lease she didn’t separate us,” Izaro murmured. If she had he would have quit no matter how mad Treyla was. He was going to be there when their child was born and he was going to help raise him or her. Nothing would stop him from that. “I wonder where we are headed.”

"She won't separate us, she wants us to spit out babies for her." Trey told her husband, as started to walk out of the temporary quarters. "No idea, was told to report to Kartelan Station, same as you." Trey said, a little agitated about her mother, not at him. They started to walk down the corridors of the transport vessel. There next stop was the transporter padd.

“Well it can’t be too far away,” Izaro jokes. “How would she visit this baseball team we are having.” He thought his mother in law was going to be disappointed because when Trey and he decided they had enough children he would be the one to take care that there would be no more. He liked his mother in law, she was just too controlling at times.

"Well I am hopeful, we get assigned out here in the Delta Quadrant. Doubt, she would have a lot of pull out here, once we got settled in." Trey said, with a big grin on her face. The idea of being quadrants apart, brought a smile to her face.

Izaro smiled at her. “I love you.” He said. It didn’t fix the problems with her mother but he wanted to keep that smile on her face.

Trey really loved her mother, she did. And too a point, she understood her mothers drive for her to have children. She just wanted a chance to start a life of her own. And get out of the shadow of her mother. She looked over to Izaro. It was so sweet, when he said he loved her. There arranged marriage, was one of the greatest things, that ever happened to her. And she was grateful that she met him, she would have preferred to do it, on her own. And without her mothers help. She looked back into his dark eyes. "I love you too."

“We’ll make our way,” Izaro said with confidence. “And we will find a way to beat your mother. Like how she doesn’t know we’re pregnant. You are so much smarter than her.”

"Don't under estimate her, so far has she been on step a head of us. She has been manipulating us. Don't get me wrong. Love the fact she arranged our marriage. But she should allow us, to decide on our own, how to live our lives, or what ship to be stationed on." Trey told him. She was still very agitated with her mother.

“Think Trey,” Izaro replied. “What would scare her more than anything to get her to back off some.” He considered Trey to be the smartest woman he knew.

Trey had a feeling that Izaro was taking the influence of her mother seriously. He had some interaction with her already. She was nice enough lady. As long as she was getting what she wanted. But Trey knew the real side of her, the selfish side. The side that would force her to do things, before she was ready to do them.

“You okay?” Izaro frowned. Maybe he had pushed her too far on her mother. “Are you hungry?” He asked her. “Or thirsty?”

"I'm okay, and yes I am hungry and thirsty." Trey said, trying to let it go for the moment. She knew, once he really met her mother. He would see things, like she sees them.

“Let’s eat then,” Izaro smiled at her. “I was thinking of making furniture for the baby, what do you think?”

"They have this cool invention, its called a replicator, they make them in cargo size. We can replicate anything we need, why do you want to hand make it?" Trey asked, wondering if there was a sentimental reason behind his reasoning.

“I want our child to have something that came from my heart,” Izaro said quietly. “To pass down to their children that stands for the love that began with you and me.” He knew they could replicate but that was impersonal.

"That is very sweet." Trey said, with a big grin. They continued to approach the mess hall. She was not sure, what she was in the mood for. But she hoped it was a real mess hall with a chef, and not a silly replicator.

“I am starving suddenly,” Izaro said. He paused to let her go first. Izaro was always the gentleman,especially with her eating for two.

"Me too." She said with a big grin on her face. "How long do you suppose we will be on the station?" She asked, hoping not long. She wanted to get back to work.

“I wouldn’t think long,” Izaro replied. “Otherwise it seems they would have informed us of a delay.”

Trey looked at him, with a sarcastic grin. "Oh your trying to be funny." She said, with a big grin. She knew damn well, Starfleet would not notify them a head of time, if they were going to delay them. Better to ask forgiveness than permission.

“I didn’t want to say I didn’t have a clue,” Izaro laughed. “So I made something up. It made you laugh so it was worth it.”

"You sir, are trouble." She said, as she leaned in to kiss him.

Izaro returned her kiss. “I like the sound of being trouble if it makes you smile. You have the most incredible eyes when you laugh.”

Trey was still leaning in close to him. Her eyes were locked onto his. "Careful Husband, sweet talk like that will get us into more trouble. We want to make a first good impression do we not?" She said, as she continued to kiss him.

Izaro kissed her back. “I love you so they might as well see us as we are.” He found them a table. “Besides our work ethic is impeccable.” His mission had been fulfilled.

"Thank you." Trey said with a big grin on her face. It was very nice of him to say. "Just so its out there, your work ethic is impeccable as well." Trey told him. She knew he took pride in his work as well.

Izaro’s eyes lit up. “That means a lot to me.” He grabbed a tray. “Tell me what you want and I’ll carry everything.”

Trey smiled as the scene starts to fade away.
Digging Up The Past Science Labs Two Hours Prior to ‘Radioactive’
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Leo walked through the corridor, stepping through the bustle of junior personnel either completing frantic repairs or moving supplies to their proper place. Lieutenant Cabot hadn’t been lying when he said that they were opening on a barely stocked vessel with a skeleton crew but everyone was doing their part. Continuing his walk, he stopped just outside of an open set of double doors that led to a science lab. Out of curiosity, he entered the lab, stepping around open supply crates and enlisted personnel that sidestepped to avoid colliding with him.

(Tag Emilio)
Radioactive USS Coulson Five Hours After 'Crash Sailed'
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Leo sat in the Command Chair of the bridge, reading system and course readouts on the screen between his and the XOs chair, which was currently unoccupied as Lieutenant Cabot was at the Helm as they raced through the stars with their Quantum Slipstream Drive at maximum. The Lieutenants Solwick had demonstrated extreme dedication in readying their respective departments and he made a mental note to have them put in for commendations at the end of this mess.

Standing up, Leo looked around the bridge. "All stations, status report." Leo ordered.

"Captain long-range sensors are detecting possible gravitation wave shifts. Approaching our flight path. The sensors have classified this as a possible threat." Trey said, reading back the message that was coming across her screens. From a tactical perspective, the ship was good to go.

“Systems are running at one hundred percent,” Izaro called out. “But I concur with Lieutenant Solwick and advise we detour if possible.”

The wave was continuing its approach towards the ship. And Trey was eager to hear what Commander Connolly wanted to do. She assumed, he would adjust course to avoid the shockwave. But he could surprise her, and have them ride it out.

Leo nodded. "Red Alert. Mister Solwick, divert available power to aft shields and Structural Integrity Fields and sound the collision alert. Helmsman- turn us into the wave curve of the wave."

The helmsman bit back a questioning response and carried out the order- despite how crazy it was. The ship turned upward as the ship made a sharp turn to starboard. As the wave struck them and he felt the deck begin to rumble, Leo gripped the armrests as tight as he could to keep from flying headfirst into the viewscreen. As the rumbling subsided, Leo relaxed slightly and checked the ship status readouts- everything was holding at this point.

The wave impact was minimal, the klaxons still continued to go off. "Sir, I am detecting Borg signatures on long-range sensors." Trey called out. She knew the Borg were in this area, but she did not expect to run into them, on day one. Her heartbeat was a little accelerated. She remembered her training and managed to keep herself composed. Well at least physically to the crew, she knew there was no fooling Izaro, on how she was feeling.

Leo stood from his chair and looked over to Treyla- "Did you say Borg, Lieutenant? he asked, his eyebrow raised. There were a few outcomes that came with dealing with the Borg and very few of them included a crew making it out alive.

"Confirmed sir, but the signal is weak, could be wreckage, or a damaged vessel or colony. Hard to tell at this distance." Trey told him, as she continued to run her scans. she wondered, what was going in that system? If she had to guess, the Borg were damaged and repairing their ship.

Izaro heard the word Borg and his eyes widened. This was their first voyage and they had literally thrown the ship together to head out. He wondered what the Commander would decide to do. They would know soon enough.

"Full stop, both engines. Mister Solwick, increase power to shields, weapons, sensors, and engines. Miss Solwick, initiate a random modulation to keep those bastards from adapting and spin up a full spread of quantum torpedoes- maximum yield." Leo ordered before turning to his bridge crew. "What else do we see, Ops?"

"Aye Sir." Trey said, as she started to rotate the shied harmonics. At the moment Trey was just focusing on her training. She did not want to screw things up. She wanted to live to see her child grow up.

Izaro followed his orders immediately. “Engines are at full stop and power has been increased as ordered, Sir.” He was nervous about dealing with the Borg.

The crew was now looking at him with looks of nervousness, fear, and downright disgust as they awaited his decision.

The ship started to make its approach. The Borg power signatures were still very low. She started to use the primary sensor, still not detecting any weapons signature from the Borg ship. "The ship is inert, not detecting any Borg drone signatures," Trey said to Leo. The sensors indicated a small Borg Sphere. "Sensors indicating its a small Borg Sphere, mostly intact," Trey said, wondering where the Borg were.

“I don’t detect them anywhere either,” Izaro frowned. “It could be a trap.”

"Very well, bring us down to Yellow Alert." Tapping his commbadge, Leo spoke up. "All Senior Staff to the Conference Room, at the rush!"

Kaya Innis heard the call and nodded for the nurse to finish cataloging the kits that she'd been putting together. "Don't forget to put that list on my desk-" she called back over her shoulder as she headed out the doorway and into the hall. She hurried to the conference room, curious as to what was going on.

Trey secured her station, and followed Leo to the conference room. She had a feeling, that they were going over to the sphere, to investigate what happened to the drones. This could be a trap. Trey knew it as well. But they needed answers. She walked in, silently behind Leo and took a seat.

Izaro made certain systems were fine and followed the other in and sat next to Trey. He waited to hear what was coming next. This wasn’t an easy decision to make, it was the Borg after all.

Walking into the Conference Room, Leo sat at the head of the table and watched as his Senior Staff filed in and took their seats. "Good Afternoon. As many of you know, we've been crash sailed to investigate a distress call from the USS Hammersley, which went missing in this area two years ago and was declared lost with all hands. Additionally, we've just detected a Borg sphere but it hasn't hailed us with their standard threat and appears to potentially be damaged. As of now, I've stood down Red Alert and we're currently at Alert Condition Yellow with shields up. The most important thing now is options- I don't care how drastic. I want to organize two Away Teams- one to search and potentially destroy that cube and another to locate and secure the Hammersley. We'll need to deploy some high-frequency sensor buoys to search for a signal from the Hammersley. Now, even though I'm commanding this little cruise, we're too short-staffed for me to just stand around supervising, so if you need help, just point me to what you need." Leo said, motioning for his officers to speak.

"If this is the Borg of old, and assuming they are on a ship and somehow deflected our sensors. They should not attack until they perceive us as a threat. If we take a small team, we should be safe." Trey pointed out to Leo. She was trying to recall all she learned about the Borg, from memory. She was not fond of taking a small team, but she was not fond of assimilation either.

“Destroying the cube would draw them out,” Izaro added. “Until we find the Hammersley, I believe Lieutenant Solwick is correct. Let’s be as quiet as possible and not bring any attention to us.”

Leo nodded. "I agree. As an added precaution, I'm authorizing TR-116's for replication and use for all Security and Away Team personnel. I think the Borg a little trouble adapting to a monotanium slug to the skull. Also, what are we looking at in terms of the radiation's effects on us and potentially the Borg?" he said offhandedly. Turning to the Chief Medical Officer, he motioned for her to speak.

"We can medicate against certain levels of radiation. After that, there's not much we can do aside from staying away from it. I'd suggest that we each wear dosimeters so we know when we're in over our heads and need to fall back," Kaya suggested.

Leo nodded. "Very well. Replicate them and order them distributed to all departments. As soon as they start turning black, I want to get the hell out of here. We'll also need to modulate the shields to compensate."

Trey did not like the idea of killing drones. She would prefer to find a more peaceful way of dealing with them. Trey knew how dangerous the collective could be. She knew the headshot, would be a mercy killing for the Borg drones. Most of them were being forced against their will to participate with the Borg's main goal of assimilation.

Looking to the rest of the senior staff, Leo spoke again. "Let's organize an Away Team to search for and board the Hammersley. We'll take Runabout One to search for the Hammersley. I'll lead this one. Lieutenant Cabot, you're in charge here. Lieutenants Solwick, you're with me. Commander Innis, you're welcome to join us but I need you to make sure Sickbay is prepared for any additional casualties."

Izaro was glad to be assigned to go with them. He didn’t want to mess with the Borg but they needed to find the missing ship and he wanted to help do so. Also, regardless of keeping their personal lives separate he wanted to be there if Trey was going.

Trey prepared herself mentally for what, was about to transpire next. She had no idea, what to expect. And with the Borg lurking around. Things could get interesting. She started to think, maybe her mother should have left her alone, if she did, she would not be in the Delta Quadrant dealing with the Borg on her first mission. She knew she needed to be prepared to contend with the Borg, when the time came.

Leo stood. "If that's all, let's get to it. We're skids up in two hours."

Black Static Runabout One- Callsign LIGHTNING
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Leo sat in the cockpit of the Danube Class runabout and ran through his systems check to ensure that they were ready to go when the time came. In the last few hours, the Engineering crew had performed admirably in installing a tactical suite with an auxiliary shield generator, additional torpedoes, and a sensor pod along with completing all of their assigned testing runs.

Izaro came on board and took a seat at the console and worked for a moment. “Everything checks out on my end, Lieutenant Commander,” he informed Leo. Izaro was going into this like he did everything, being positive and confident that come what may they would be fine. He had a good feeling about their mission. It seemed to him though that Trey was concerned. He understood that anytime the word Borg came up everyone was nervous.

"You know it's customary regardless of rank, to refer to the senior officer in charge of a vessel as Captain." Trey said, as she walked into the cockpit, and took a seat at the tactical station. She had a big grin on her face. She loved picking on her husband. It was the least he could do, for knocking her up. She liked being pregnant, but she blamed her mother for it happening so soon.

Izaro rolled his eyes at her and then smiled at Connolly. “My apologies, Captain. I won’t let it happen again, Captain.” He looked over at Trey. “Thank you for the correction, Lieutenant Solwick.” His eyes danced. She loved giving him a hard time.

"No problem at all Lieutenant." She said, in a loving voice. They loved to pick on each other. It keep things interested. Before she met Izaro, she use to be real reserved, but having him around, allowed her to be herself, and she was grateful. She looked over to Leo for their next set of orders.

Let's get a transphasic torpedo strapped to the hull and wired to detonate via the Tactical Console and EVA suits loaded into the cargo module in case things go south. I want to make the Borg think twice if they decide to engage us. We'll at least give 'em a black eye if they decide to try to fight us.

Izaro listened for the orders as well. He was busy checking his systems as well as scanning the outer area to make certain there were no changes or anything that might give them concern that they would be having company. He was hoping it would be a quick find of the Hammersley and they could get business done and get out of there in record time.

Giving the situation a chuckle, he motioned to the other stations. "Izaro- if you could complete systems checks on Propulsion and Sensors, we can get moving once Tactical prep is complete," he said quickly.

After he handed Izaro the PADD, Leo stood and hopped out of the runabout. Motioning to Treyla, he stood in an unoccupied corner of the shuttle bay to afford them a measure of privacy.

“Yes Sir,” Izaro replied. He took the PADD and went to work on doing his system check Connolly had ordered. He heard Trey and the lieutenant commander leave but his concentration was on the task at hand.

Trey walked over to him. She wondered, why he pulled her off to the side. "Yes, sir." She said, in a normal tone. She was very curious, what he needed with her. If she had to assume, it was probably, a don't let them assimilate kill speech. She heard about those, but it was never easy to shoot a friend, to be avoided in assimilation.

Leo stood with his shoulders relaxed and PADD in hand. “Stand at ease, Lieutenant.” He said, tapping the PADD to bring up her record. “So I was going through senior staff records while we were en route to this location and the medical database alerted me that you’re pregnant. Per Starfleet regulations, I’m not supposed to send on overly hazardous missions. Between the radiation out there and the Borg, I can’t run the risk of placing you and your child in harm’s way if something goes wrong. If anything happened to you, I don know how your husband would take it” he said in a concerned tone, cocking his slightly in Izaro’s direction.

"Understood sir, but I strongly suggest taking a security escort," Trey told him, a little disappointed, she would not be going on the away mission. But deep down, she was relieved as well. She had no intention of being assimilated or her baby. But the chances, according to the sensors were minimal. She understood his perspective.

Leo nodded. “Select the team and I’ll take them along. In the meantime, keep the big guns hot- we may need some firepower laid down in a hurry.”

"Yes Captain, anything else?" She asked in a nice and calm collected voice. She could not argue with his logic. It was sound.

"No, Lieutenant. Carry on." he said softly before he started his walk back to the runabout.

Izaro continued with his systems check but he couldn’t help but wonder where Connolly and Trey had gone. He hoped all was good with their mission. He wanted to get this over with.

As Leo ducked back into the cockpit area, he took his PADD out and continued his own systems check. "There was a change of plans, Lieutenant. I've asked Treyla to stay onboard the Hammersley for this mission."

Izaro was relieved though at the same time he felt for Trey. She wasn’t one to be happy being left behind. “Understood, Sir.” He knew his wife understood but it still wouldn’t make her feel any better. He smiled to himself thinking he could make it up to her later.

(Tag Izaro)
We made it through Solwick Quarters
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Trey was grateful that was now over. She walked into her bedroom. Waiting for Izaro to come home. She walked over to the couch, and Peebles and Bam Bam , jumped on the couch, itching to sit next to their mother. Trey started to pet both dogs. Alternating which one she pet. Thinking to herself, that was a little to close for comfort, for her liking. The mission today. She hated being sideline. Especially since she was barely pregnant still.

Trey quietly opened their quarters door. He had been late getting back and didn’t want to wake Trey up if she was napping. He walked quietly across the floor. He smiled when both dogs tails started wagging and Trey’s eyes were watching him. She needed comfort, which the pups were more than happy to provide.

“I tried to get away,” Izaro said quietly. “I got held up.”

"I bet." Trey said, trying to contain her disappointment. She hated feeling this way, but it was to be expected. Sad she could not go, but relieved she did not have to risk the baby's life with the Borg.

Izaro scooped up BamBam in his arms and sat next to her. “I had to be cleared by medical to come home.”

"The Captain, is not taking any chances. Can not say, I don't blame him. But I hate being sideline." Trey said, trying to come to terms with it.

“He is protecting our child,” Izaro smiled at her. “I sympathize but I respect that in him. They made me go through a zillion tests so so could come home to you.”

"Zillion? You been hanging out with humans for to long." Trey said, as she reached over to kiss him. Then Peebles started to bark. She did not like being in the middle of them kissing.

“It felt like a zillion,” Izaro murmured. “I was anxious to get home to you.”

"Not tired of my mood swings?" She teased. She knew they had not started yet. She had missed him too.

“That isn’t going to happen,” Izaro said, putting his arm around her. “I might get frustrated but you are carrying our most precious child, I will work at being patient.”

"Don't forget about me, all of sudden you knock me up, and all I hear is our child." Trey pointed out to him. Without her, there would be no child for him to be thankful for.

“I meant that I should be patient because you my beautiful wife are precious to me,” Izaro replies, thinking her mood swings were already starting. “I want to be here for you during this time.”

"How do you suggest we start?" Trey asked him. As she looked into his eyes. She could see that love in his eyes.

“I don’t know,” Izaro said honestly. “What can I do to make you feel more comfortable?”

"Stop treating me, like I am 10 months pregnant. And remind me, why you wanted to have a baby with me." Trey suggested, with a playful get over here and kiss me look on her face.

Izaro grinned and moved quickly, kissing her with passion. “That is easy, because you are the most important person in my life. You are everything.” He picked up Peebles and set her aside. “Want to go to our bedroom and I’ll show you how much?”

"Less talking." She said, as she placed her hand over his lips. They both walked into the bedroom.


Trey walked out wearing a long t shirt, and underwear. She felt fully grattified, as she walked over to the couch. She noticed that Peebles and Bam Bam were just laying on couch. She sat in the middle, and Peebles walked over to her lap. When the dog got up, he got off the fleece blanket, and she wrapped herself up in it. Trying to get all cozy. "you know what sounds nice?" Trey asked Izaro.

“What?” Izaro asked her, curious as to what she was going to say. He wasn’t saying a word but he had read that women craved ice cream.

"Don't play dumb!" Trey demanded, with a playful grin.

Izaro rolled his eyes. “I read it in a book but that doesn’t mean that’s what sounds good. Tell me, maybe I will want some.”

Trey looked at him. She was not in the mood with his teasing behavior. She walked over to the replicator, mostly naked only wearing that shirt, and grabbed her bowl of ice cream, and walked into the bedroom room ignoring him, as she took a few scoops and consumed them. She got comfy on her bed.

Izaro sat down on the couch and sighed. Peebles barked at him and took off after Trey while BamBam climbed on his lap. He sighed as he held the dog. The ice cream thing was obviously the wrong thing to think about. Maybe he needed to stop reading about pregnancy and just wing it. He had wanted to try and make things easier and he seemed to be making them worse. Finally he got up and got himself a bowl of rocky road ice
cream and headed into the bedroom after Trey and sat on his side of the bed.

Trey wanted to mess with him. "Ohh that looks good." She said, as she took his bowl, and grabbed a couple of bites. She had a playful grin on her face. She handed him, her bowl of plane vanilla ice cream.

Izaro stared at her. “That’s my ice cream. You wanted vanilla, give it back!”

Trey grinned as she put the bowl down, at the night stand. But not before grabbing a spoon, and applying the residue ice cream on her lips. "You want some, then get some." She said, as she slowly licked her lips with her tongue. She was having fun, she felt bad for him. But in a way, she wanted to tease him, for making her feel incapable earlier. He was concerned, and she appreciated it.

Izaro came across the bed and pulled her close kissing her. “It tastes better this way.” He reaches for the spoon an took some ice cream out of the bowl. “Want some more ?”

Trey grabbed his arm, and slide her way up to his hand. And started to guide his hand towards her mouth, as she looked into his eyes. She then suddenly planted his nose into the scoop of ice cream, but on top of his nose, not near his nostril. She was being a little feisty. She quickly slicked it off his nose, then kissed his cheek. She was curious, how he would react.

“Oh,”’his eyes lit up. “I see how you are.” He took some ice cream out of the bowl and put it on her face, following behind it he licked her as well. “Hmmm,” he murmured. “Rocky road has never tasted this good!”

Trey just giggled, as she went on to say. "You missed a spot." She said as she pointed to her lips. She grabbed him gently by the shirt, and pulled him close. First licking his tongue like a puppy. With a big grin, she then she started to kiss him.

Izaro returned her kiss, his tongue mingling with hers. He wanted her in that mine with a passion he couldn’t put down. Those sexy eyes of hers and those kisses put him over the edge.

"Do you want to watch a movie tonight, in bed or get dressed, and head to the holodeck?" Trey asked. She felt like the night was to early to go to bed. She wanted to live a little. Have some fun.

“Let’s head to the holodeck,” Izaro smiles. “A Change of scenery would be nice I think.” He grinned when Peebles barked at him. “You know we’re leaving don’t you?”