From the Mists

Posted on Tue Jun 7th, 2022 @ 2:05am by Captain Björn Kodak & Lieutenant Gar'rath & Lieutenant Danica True

Mission: Echoes and Effigies
Location: The Bridge
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 1100

[The Bridge]
[USS Sojourner]
[MD 1: 1100 Hours]

Captain Kodak had been in his Ready Room reviewing reports for what seemed like hours. Looking at the chronometer on his holographic computer interface, the Chameloid face-palmed. It had been hours; hours without standing to stretch or walk around. He could feel the stiffness that had settled into his back and joints, indicating that it was time to take a break. Rising into a standing position, the Captain had made his way onto the Bridge and nodded to those who'd looked up upon his entry. To those who hadn't, he assumed they were deeply ensconced in whatever they were working on and hadn't noticed his arrival. Either way, he didn't want his presence to disrupt whatever the Bridge crew was currently up to.

For a moment, he considered taking the center seat but the stiffness in his joints demanded further activity. So instead, Kodak took to pacing the Bridge, debating enjoying a kaffee while looking out upon the stellar nursery they'd been studying for the last couple of weeks. The data they'd been gathering was extremely useful but the process itself had been rather dull -- at least the nursery had proven absolutely beautiful to look at on the viewscreen. Still, there was a part of the Chameloid that wished they were doing something a bit more exciting than scans, scans, and more scans.

"Anyone ever seen one of these before?" Kodak asked, striking up conversation as he jutted his thumb towards the swirling mass of azure, canary, and violet gases on screen.

Lieutenant Gar'rath narrowed his eyes as he looked up at the screen, "It looks like a failed stellar nursery. We had several in the Hegemony star charts."

The Gorn turned his attention back to his console after making the statement, his claws clacking against the hard coating of the device. Gar'rath shifted a bit in the seat he was in, the ergonomics of which were not really designed to handle his mass of volume in any appreciable way. On his last assignment, there hadn't been much of a need for him to be on the bridge, as he was the Assistant in that particular department and spent a vast majority of his time dealing with reports from the staff on duty rather than actually being behind a console.

As Chief of Security, Dani's focus had to remain on the safety of the ship which meant that while she could appreciate the beauty of what lay before her, it seldom held her attention for long. Security scans looked for anomalies, certain types of signatures and energy readings, things that didn't fit where they belonged. As an Azhadi, she had been trained to remain motionless for hours at a time and she retreated into that behavior whenever she had bridge duty. Her gaze bounced between the view screen, the bridge itself, and the readouts on her console. And in each circuit, there was nothing to report until suddenly there was.

"Captain," she said in accented Federation Standard, "I am picking up a distinct energy signature on a trajectory that will bring it in our direction."

The Chameloid had been about to reply to the Gorn -- undeterred by his maw as Kodak was -- when True sounded the alert. Two weeks of sitting outside the nebula had yielded nothing exciting -- unless, of course, you were a scientist who reveled over all the scans they'd taken. But it seemed that, finally, something interesting was happening, though for good or ill was impossible to tell at this point. Captain Kodak took his seat and thoughtfully stroked his short beard. "Yellow alert," he said with some degree of worry in his voice. As the words left his lips, the lighting of the Bridge shifted subtly to accommodate the new alert status. "Shields up. Let's not play any games out here. Who knows what's hiding in that nebula."

"Shields at maximum," Danni reported. "Energy signature is still on approach."

"Understood. I realize," Kodak replied, directing his gaze at True, "that whatever is out there in all that soup is probably difficult to get a read on. Do your best, though. We need to know what we're dealing with. Helm," the Captain turned his attention to the young man sitting at the forward station, "I want you to back us off. Put some distance between us and them, please." It seemed that, after facing down Haakonians and Vidiians on the crew's previous jaunt through the Delta Quadrant, Captain Kodak was taking few -- if any -- chances.

"Aye sir," came the reply from the ensign. Tom Mitchell's practiced hands splayed over the helm, moving like quick spiders as he adjusted the Sojourner's course and trajectory. First he fired up the ship's reverse thrusters, giving the Sojo an initial, inertial boost. As the ship began to back away, Mitchell powered up the thrusters even more, pushing them to their limits in a hastened maneuver to get Sojo safely away from whatever it was that was coming their way. He couldn't help but worry that, after two weeks of having nothing to do, he was suddenly about to get very busy. He just hoped he was up for whatever was about to happen. "Could use a bit more thruster power, Lieutenant," Mitchell said then, turning to look at Gar'rath over his shoulder. "Just in case, you know?"

"Sir," came the voice of Ensign Lennifer M'taz, the newest recruit in Sciences. She'd been manning the Bridge to direct the scans of the stellar nursery, thankful to have nothing more exciting to do than that. But suddenly -- with the potential for badness coming out of the nursery -- she felt woefully unprepared. Still, this was her post and she was going to do her best until she was relieved by someone more senior. "Sensor resolution is at 23% once we get about 8% into that nebula. Recommend we boost power to the sensors to give Lieutenant True a little more range and resolution to work with?"

"Agreed," Kodak nodded. It seemed like Mister Gar'rath was a popular saurian today with all these requests for extra power. The Chameloid remembered his rotation at Ops once upon a time and knew the rigors of the job: it was a lot to coordinate at times. "Lieutenant Gar'rath, extra power to thrusters and sensors, if you please. Lieutenant True, what have we got out there?" He knew the response would take a few moments after the power transfer was completed so settled in for a short wait.

Lieutenant Gar’rath’s claws clacked busily against the polymer surface of his console as the Gorn made the requisite requests of the computer. Several ideograms shifted on his display, the composition of which had been partially converted to Gorn standard script for items that were of high importance to keep his reactions to them as quick as possible. Once the shifting ideograms halted, the Lieutenant turned his head to regard the Security Chief.

“You should have enough power now,” the reptilian said in his deep tone of voice.

"Energy signature has course adjusted, now on direct course to our location," Danni said. "Estimate size to be slightly smaller than a Galaxy Class but the profile is not one we have registered in our database. Scans indicate phaser arrays, fore and aft, but only two emitters and each, power output significantly less than ours."

"So a whole lot bigger than we are," Kodak began, leaning forward in his chair, "but not anywhere near as armed. They do seem a little fixated on us, though. Guns or not, I'd rather avoid a confrontation. Let's hail them, please," the Captain said, leaning back in his chair again. When the confirmation tone signaled that hailing frequencies were open, Kodak stood.

"This is Captain Kodak of the Federation starship Sojourner," he said, infusing his voice with a commanding tone. "Please let us know why you're zeroing in on our location. Can we help you somehow?"

On the viewscreen ahead, the hulking ship moved from the mists like a behemoth, making a straight line for the Sojourner. Though not well armed, the alien ship looked almost angry as it grew larger and larger on the viewscreen. As Kodak watched, the vessel eventually slowed until it made a complete stop a safe distance away. The Sojo's hail was met not with words, but rather with a scanning beam of some kind. Verdant light engulfed the Federation ship, slowly panning from right to left as the threshold of the beam moved across -- and through -- the hull.

"What was that?" the Chameloid Captain asked after the scanning beam had moved beyond him, patting his trunk in succession as if assessing whether any parts had gone missing.

Danni sent a scan request through to the science officer's console and began reporting the results as they came through. "Coherent tetryon scan. No damage to shields or weapon systems." Her dark gaze lifted from the console to stare at the ship filling the viewscreen. "They wish to know who we are, what we can do."

"I mean, they could just say hello. You know," Kodak looked over at True, "like normal people." His tone was half rueful, half-sarcastic: always the barb with him, it seemed. "Guessing they aren't responding to our hails?" When the negative was indicated, the Captain moved closer to the viewscreen, stepping down into the well that housed the helm. "Mr. Mitchell, move us 10,000km closer. If they won't respond to words, let's see how they react to our actions."

"Aye sir," came the response from the young man at the helm. Mitchell's fingers danced over his board, preferring the tactile panel control scheme versus the holographic one other helm officers sometimes used. "We're advancing. That's 1,000km...3,000km...7,000km...and 10, sir," he reported, bringing the Sojo to a dead stop in space.

"They are not powering up their limited weapons," Danni said, arms folded across her chest. Her dark eyes glittered as she watched them; Azhadi warriors well understood direct confrontation with a threat, even one as pitiably armed as this one was. "Engines are powering up. It seems they have chosen to run away, Sir."

True was, indeed, correct. On the viewscreen, Kodak watched as the ship swiveled its nose by 90 degrees and then shot off in a new direction. With a flare of warp engines, the ship was gone just as fast as it'd appeared, leaving the Captain scratching his head over the ordeal.

"Well," Kodak said, returning to his seat, "not much we can do about it for now. If they do want to talk, perhaps they'll get in touch. Until then, though," the Captain trailed off for a moment, "we do have a mission to complete. Let's return to our scans of the nursery but we'll maintain Yellow Alert, at least for now. Doesn't hurt us to keep our eyes open and stay cautious. Good work, folks," he said to the Bridge crew.

As everyone went back to their tasks, the Captain had a haunting thought: was this just the start of some new, imminent catastrophe? The ship had been way undergunned compared to the Sojo but Kodak couldn't help but worry that something wasn't quite right with the whole situation. He just hoped the niggling feeling in the back of his brain would be wrong and that this meeting had been nothing more than an amenable race trying to satisfy their own curiosity.

=/\= A joint-post by... =/\=

Captain Björn Kodak
Commanding Officer
USS Sojo


Lieutenant Gar'rath
Chief Operations Officer
USS Sojo


Lieutenant Danica True
Chief Tactical and Security Officer
USS Sojo